U.S. backing for Serbian IAEA project

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

VIENNA -- The U.S. has backed Serbian efforts to transfer the remaining nuclear waste at the Vinča Institute out of the country by 2010.

The U.S. delegation supported the project at the International Atomic Energy Association’s (IAEA) General Conference in Vienna, said Deputy Science and Technology Minister Miroslav Vesković.

“We asked the U.S. delegation to increase its level of funding in that area,” Vesković told Tanjug, adding that the Americans had pledged to give the Serbian request “their due attention”.

A plea has been sent to the U.S. delegation for the responsibility for tackling the problem of nuclear waste from around the institute to “be spread more or less equally between all those who are able”, pointing out that the U.S. had thus far allocated around USD 4mn to that end.

“We insist that that figure should be considerably higher and we hope that we will receive their [U.S.] support for this,” stressed the deputy minister.

Deputy Prime Minister Božidar Đelić and his associates met with, among others, the U.S. delegation at the 52nd IAEA General Conference session.

Vesković said that during a conversation with Đelić, IAEA Director General Mohammed ElBaradei had promised that the agency would assist Serbia in tackling the problem of returning the nuclear waste from Vinča to Russia, the country of origin, and that it would broker talks with the project donors.

A donor conference for decommissioning the Vinča reactor is being held today at the UN’s Vienna office.

“The Czech Republic announced today that it would be making a donation of EUR 1mn to solve the problem, and I think that’s a very good sign,” Vesković said, adding that Serbia, in that respect, had excellent cooperation with Hungary and Slovenia.

Đelić said in Vienna yesterday that Serbia’s priority was to return the nuclear waste to Russia, a project that would cost some USD 25mn.

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