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In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

An IAEA Clean Laboratory for Safeguards is under construction at Seibersdorf, Austria.

(November 18, 1994) It will be specifically dedicated to the analysis of environmental samples and measures for safeguards purposes.
Radiometric monitoring of rivers, streams, sediments, and other environmental pathways has become an important element of the IAEA's longterm verification of the nuclear programme of Iraq. At the same time, a number of countries voluntarily are participating in IAEA field trials to demonstrate the capability of environ-mental monitoring techniques for the detection of nuclear activities. The techniques allow for chemical and isotopic analysis of minute samples of water, soil, biota and other environmental materials to detect "nuclear signatures" that are specific to certain types of facilities and operations. According to a IAEA press-release, this' will help to determine, in the framework of IAEA safeguards inspections, that these facilities and operations are for peaceful purposes only.
The Clean Laboratory for Safeguards is expected to be operational in late 1995. IAEA press-release, 14 October 1994


Belarus officials are pursuing plans to build nuclear reactors. Officials have discussed reactor supply over the past 12 months with AECL (Canada; Candu), Minatom (Russian Federa-tion; advanced VVER-600) and General Atomic Corp., Westinghouse, Siemens, Electricité de France and Asea Brown Boveri.
Belarus has "already considered" the issue of the back end of the fuel cycle (this means radioactive waste) and has decided that, by the time Belarus completes power reactors, it should have already selected a candidate for a final repository for High Level Waste. By the time that spent fuel is discharged by a reactor in Belarus, "it may be possible to transmute the waste products" (the same good old optimism). No reactor site has been chosen thus far, "but for safety rea-sons any reactor will have to be 100 kilometers away from Minsk, at least". Nucleonics Week, 13 October 1994 (page 1)


Governmental compensation for utilities burning MOX-fuel? German nuclear industry officials have informally proposed that the excess costs of using MOX-fuel (a mixture of plutonium and uranium) should be compensated by U.S. and European governments. That financial scheme would make utilities more inclined to agree to take delivery of large amounts of MOX for their reactors.
Recently Germany's nuclear laboratories have also pressed for a greater role in weapons plutonium management. That request has been well received in Bonn. "We want to break down the U.S.-Russian bilateralism in handling weapons plutonium", one senior Bonn government official said. Plans to store Russian Pu in Germany (where it "might be more secure") has been received welwillingly by a U.S. Executive Agency official. Washington might be inclined to support a plan in principle to transfer large amounts of weapons Pu from Russian inventories into Germany "providing that the environmentalists would go along". But there are also "major reservations". It is unlikely that the U.S. would agree to send its Pu to Germany for manufacture into reactor fuel, since the U.S. law strictly distinguishes between military and civil fuel cycles. Nuclear Fuel, 24 October 1994 (page 9)