June 9, 2006,
PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN: Good afternoon, dear colleagues,
Today we are examining priority development issues in the nuclear sector. Military and civilian specialists are taking part in today’s meeting because the problems you have before you are in many ways interconnected. The need to take an all-encompassing approach is reflected too in the state programme ‘On Measures to Develop the Nuclear Sector’ drawn up by the Government.
Our country’s nuclear potential is of vital importance for our national security interests. The reliability of our ‘nuclear shield’ and the state of our nuclear weapons complex are a crucial component of Russia’s world power status. I do stress that our work to develop our nuclear arsenal must go hand in hand with the most stringent demands on reliability and security of operation and, of course, with strict compliance with all non-proliferation regimes. In this respect Russia’s position is firm and unchanging.
The security of our nuclear complex is also clearly an issue of concern to everyone. We must raise the level of protection, and not only from technological risks and emergency situations but also from terrorist provocation.
We must pay particular attention to these demands within the long-term programmes in this sector.
We must not forget that nuclear energy is an important resource for national economic growth. Today when our economy is on the rise, energy supplies have become one of the most important issues.
As you know, the growing appetite for energy is being satisfied principally through gas, and gas consumption is rising all the time in our country. But in the long-term, we cannot resolve the energy supply problem exclusively through fossil fuels, which are non-renewable.
Although we have traditionally been one of the leaders in the nuclear energy sector, we are making totally insufficient use of our potential today. During the Soviet years, up to three gigawatts of electricity generation capacity was brought on line every year, while we have brought on line just one gigawatt of capacity over the last five years.
As a result, the share of nuclear energy in our overall energy production comes to only 16 percent. If we do not take action and continue to proceed at today’s pace, then by 2030 nuclear energy will account for a share of just 1-2 percent in overall energy output.
Many of you here know how the situation stands today in the world regarding nuclear energy. In Germany, for example, which has decided to phase out its nuclear power plants, nuclear energy currently accounts for 32 percent of energy output. We have not taken any such decisions but the sector is nonetheless in decline and today comes to only 16 percent.
In this connection, and given the general rise in energy consumption, we set the goal at the beginning of this year to maintain the current share of nuclear energy in our overall electricity production and to implement a programme in the future to increase this share to 25 percent.
I know that the federal targeted programme for developing the nuclear energy industry sets the objective of bringing on line two gigawatts of capacity a year, but this is enough only to maintain the current level.
I am convinced that our nuclear energy industry can develop at a faster pace. This in turn will boost growth in a whole range of high-technology sectors of the economy and will spur the development of many related scientific disciplines and areas.
I would like to say a few words about the most principled points.
Firstly, it is no secret that the new generation of reactors being used today are in large part based on our developments and achievements. Furthermore, active work is underway on so-called low power reactors. Russia has a considerable lead in this area. It is enough to recall the service life periods of our nuclear power icebreaker fleet and our nuclear submarines.
I remind you also that this year’s Address to the Federal Assembly set the goal of developing promising new directions in energy such as hydrogen and thermonuclear energy. I would like to hear your proposals in this area today.
Secondly, we are convinced that all countries should have the possibility of developing peaceful nuclear programmes. Using nuclear energy will go a long way towards helping many developing countries overcome their energy poverty thereby creating the conditions for socio-economic progress and for raising the quality of life for millions of people on our planet. This will reduce the gaps in economic development between countries and will help to improve the situation overall on the world stage.
As you know, Russia has initiated the creation of international nuclear centres that would give all new consumer countries access to nuclear energy. This would take place, of course, with technical security guarantees and under reliable control by the IAEA.
Thirdly, we must be more active in promoting Russian nuclear technology on the external market. I note that Russia is ready to take part in open competition with other countries in this area. Unfortunately, our companies often encounter unjustified discriminatory barriers.
I repeat that Russia’s position in this area is absolutely logical: we do not need any preferential treatment or special conditions on world markets for our products, above all because we know that our products are perfectly competitive. But we categorically oppose that our companies should be held back in their work by the absence of a level playing field for all participants in the market, all the more so as we are expected to offer a level playing field on our markets. Let others also offer us these same conditions.
Finally, our work on the external market should take into account today’s specific situation. I already said in my federal address that we need to strengthen our position in the nuclear industry machine-tool sector, and we need to do so through the use of the latest technology.
Restructuring in the sector should be carried out with these aims in mind. We must be ready to offer the broadest range of services and products. This means that on the domestic front we need to work actively on developing all aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle, the energy industry machine-tool sector, construction of nuclear power plants, the organisation of research and development work and training qualified specialists for the industry.
Finally, we need to put in place a management mechanism that meets today’s demands and objectives.
The Government has been instructed to draft a programme of support measures for the nuclear weapons and nuclear energy complexes. This work is near completion. Now it is important to ensure the effective realisation of these measures.
I first ask [Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister] Sergei Borisovich Ivanov and the [Director of Rosatom] Sergei Vladilenovich Kiriyenko to say a few words and after that we will continue behind closed doors.