Interview of Gleb Efremov to web publication «Nuclear Control»

January 13, 2020

  - Two years ago, in «Nuclear Control» we published your interview. Since then, what have been changed? Summarize the results of 2019
In the last interview I said that the International Uranium Enrichment Centre was held as a structure, which in practice has proved its worth. Based on the concept inherent in the initiative of the President of Russia, we have proved that the Centre operates not only as a legal entity to issue shares, but also as a working mechanism. Over the past year, we have further strengthened in the knowledge that we are becoming stronger and are able to find the ways for work and development in the very difficult external conditions. The past two years have been a great trial for us in terms of guaranteeing supplies to our shareholders. The highest intensity of foreign political situation inevitably led to a complication of interactions with our Ukrainian shareholder, but we coped with this difficult task, and fulfilled all obligations under the agreement on deliveries. We have provided one of the Ukrainian NPP units with nuclear fuel fabricated from the uranium supplied by IUEC. Moreover, we are currently working with the Ukrainian material, which, despite the complexity of the political processes, we were able to bring to Russia for reprocessing and enrichment this year. Our collaboration with the Ukraine allowed to demonstrate the operability of IUEC.
We are continuously working to get better in terms of -internal costs economy, this is dictated by the time, State Corporation Rosatom and our shareholders. IUEC operates regardless the contributions of our shareholders and does not receive from them the funds to exist.
We work - this is the main event. As an international structure we are working on optimization of the organizational and production systems. This year I was re-elected for a new term. When one intercedes for the next term, it is time to ask questions and receive the answers from the others: what has been done and is it possible to do more? The main thing: we have learned to allocate the internal resources wisely and optimally achieve the objectives set without compromising the quality of work at a lower cost.
- How was interaction with the shareholders of International Uranium Enrichment Centre lately?
I'll start with Kazakhstan, the country was in the origins of International Uranium Enrichment Centre. Kazakhstan has already begun the physical filling of IAEA low-enriched uranium (LEU) bank , and we fully support this project. As a pioneer in this field, when Angarsk uranium stock was established under the auspices of the IAEA, International Uranium Enrichment Centre has provided a great methodological assistance to LEU Bank. We were a part of the negotiations on the agreement for transit of uranium material for the bank, IAEA working group for discussion of general matters of the agreements with potential recipients of this material.
I want to mention one international event. Upon request of our national regulator Rostechnadzor, which addressed the national regulator in Kazakhstan, we conducted on-site demonstrative inspection of IUEC warehouse, when the inspection bodies were the representatives of the regulatory authority of Kazakhstan. They in practice got familiar with the methodology, principles and approaches to the inspection activities at the facility, which keeps the guaranteed stock of IAEA low-enriched uranium. We understood that it was a staged situation, but the results have shown that we have tested in earnest. Kazakhstan regulator has applied all knowledge and skills by checking out the activities of IUEC, and produced an inspection report. We did not receive a serious comment, our work complies with the requirements of IAEA regulations. This once again proves our transparency to the international community.
Our collaboration with Armenia is developing a bit slower, because Armenia is a small country in terms of consumption of nuclear fuel cycle services. The quota of IUEC is 60,000 SWU, this is the complete load of Metsamor NPP core, which we might assume. So, if one day Armenia provides some additional capacities, we will consider the opportunity of supplies, and we have such an arrangement with TVEL. In meantime, our communications are to ensure the discussion of current plans for development of nuclear industry in Armenia, participating in technical consultations on lifetime extension of Metsamor NPP . In terms of the fuel supplies the participation of Armenia in the International Uranium Enrichment Centre is a deposit for the future.
Regarding our cooperation with the Ukraine this year was not easy, but we were able to find the options for implementation of our collaboration. The Ukrainian uranium is delivered to Russia, it is reprocessed, and used for fabrication of the fuel for the Ukrainian NPPs. Our relations with the Ukraine take most of our time. The Ukraine for us is an important strategic partner, and we, in turn, fulfil all contractual obligations on time and are a reliable supplier, we are ready to continue to provide the Ukrainian NPPs with IUEC products.
- You have been re-elected as general director of International Uranium Enrichment Centre. How do you assess the previous stage of your work?
Basically, I have managed to cope with the tasks put in front of me by the shareholders, including the majority one, i.e. State Corporation Rosatom. Probably, the decision on my re-election testifies to this. The main achievement is that today International Uranium Enrichment Centre has a good safety cushion for the year ahead. If for some reason IUEC shareholders decide not to use its option for purchase of uranium enrichment services, the Centre has a good cushion of financial security in order to maintain the core activities and IAEA guarantee stock in Angarsk. It was one of the priority tasks set by State Corporation Rosatom. Behind it there is the work on optimization of cost management in the organization, we are completing the optimization of the structure. The whole industry is in a highly competitive environment and we have to look with an eye on the partners - to live "on a grand scale" is not permissible.
IUEC is 12 years old. During this time we went to the cohort of experts. It is encouraging that many of our specialists are involved as experts to various institutions, including ones in the field of education. Our employee is a member of the industry community of experts for assessment of the status and development of nuclear infrastructure of our partners - the newcomers. We are actively participating in sectoral programs of the personnel training for work in IAEA.
We are beginning to be invited to various forums as experts. We are very pleased to cooperate with PIR Centre, which is the umbrella for provision of all possible assistance to training of future diplomats, experts and politicians. We read he lectures on nuclear non-proliferation, principles of multinational approaches to nuclear fuel cycle as an example IUEC to the students of Master Double Degree Program in Russian MGIMO, PIR Centre and Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey (USA). I would like to note the cooperation with the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Gorchakov Fund. There are many interesting projects in terms of the experts work.
- What are your plans as Director General, how do you see the near future?
Once I was focused on increase in the number of shareholders of International Uranium Enrichment Centre. It is necessary to further look at the projects, where participation of IUEC is dictated by the interest of a potential customer. An interesting way of development, in my opinion, would be the cooperation with those of newcomers, which have chosen non-Russian technologies for construction of nuclear reactors - we would have increased the reliability of supplies to the interested countries, bringing additional guarantees to foreign projects using our international status.
- In April 2020 in New York will begin the NPT Review Conference - it will take place in the year of the 50th anniversary of the treaty. What is the role of IUEC in strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation and ensuring the peaceful use of atomic energy?
The principles of NPT became the basis for development of the global safety architecture, IUEC is a brick is this structure. Our objective is to persuade that this is a correct brick, solid enough and correctly placed in the building. We have to demonstrate the firmness of the principles laid down in the International Uranium Enrichment Centre ideology as a centre providing guaranteed services in the field of nuclear fuel cycle - uranium enrichment - the state as an alternative to development of national enrichment technologies. If we follow this principle, prove in practice the efficiency of the initiative, we will be able to contribute to the preservation of international safety until the time, when the nuclear disarmament occurs by moving stepwise in this direction.
IUEC fits very nice in the job. When IUEC was established there were more than 50 concepts of projects in the field of multilateral approaches to the nuclear fuel cycle - no initiative has not been implemented. IUEC is the best solution for the nuclear newcomers.
- The international situation is rapidly changing, and these changes are reflected in the nuclear industry, forcing its members to active development. In your opinion - as the experienced practitioner of the nuclear industry - what new challenges IUEC can take care of?
We look at a number of commercial projects in the industry, where we might be useful, for example, in working with materials having foreign liabilities codes. There are some opportunities to work in this area, but they are at the status of projects, this is not business. We provide more advisory and methodological support, and we would be pleased to share the lessons learned.
Looking at the activities of International Uranium Enrichment Centre, we need to keep the process of working with the shareholders and do not forget about the optimization of internal costs. I do not rule out that there may be additional areas of activity, we are always ready for this. The capabilities of our team - and they are the professionals in our business - will allow to cope with any tasks.
- How do you see the future of International Uranium Enrichment Centre site in Angarsk?
The site in Angarsk, where International Uranium Enrichment Centre is based, has changed greatly in the recent years. TVEL has revised the plans for development of Angarsk Electrolysis Chemical Plant (AECP) and signed an agreement with the Government of Irkutsk Region to establish a technology park on the territory of AECP. It is currently implementing a large number of projects aimed at the output in non-nuclear sector and civil purposes. The works on decommissioning of unused production facilities are actively in progress. The work is carried out with the support of the regional government, and these plans will come true. All these changes are performed in the logic of preservation of IUEC site and activities IUEC, it a priority for both Rosatom and ourselves.

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