Russia still has a huge nuclear infrastucture stretching across thousands
of kilometres and several time zones. Its economy is facing very difficult
times, due to modernization and a changing world, and under such circumstances
there will inevitably arise various plans to exploit this huge investment
in a technology that did seem to provide energy security for a golden
period in the 1970s. But, as elsewhere, the nuclear industry is moribund,
with finances for existing let alone new projects hard to achieve.
The pressure to complete joint ventures with nuclear operations outside
Russia, in the US, Japan, France, Germany and the UK in particular
is very strong. Hence the pressure to develop plutonium (MOX) fuel
from the huge plutonium stocks now in Russia, to try to make an asset
out of a liabilty. The challenge is to provide a secure management
plan that does not require reuse of this prime nuclear explosive material.