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Analytical Studies

Objectives by Issue (Evaluative Criteria): 1998 Birmingham Summit

Nuclear Reactor Safety

It is expected that the G7 members will reaffirm their commitments to help shut down the react to by 2000, but that will be the extent of their commitments as they pertain to nuclear reactor safety. Other issues, such as transnational crime, and terrorism, will overshadow the issue of nuclear reactor safety. Although these issues have gained great importance for the upcoming summit, the G7 should continue to play a prominent role in nuclear safety. Specifically, the G7 should shift some of their attention from dealing with the aftermath of nuclear disasters to focusing on the aversion of any potential emergencies. This is particularly important considering the rise in nuclear reactors that currently exist, or are soon to be created, that lie on fault lines. This is true for the German Koblenz reactor, and the new reactor that the US has agreed to help build in Turkey. The G7 should begin to take preventative measures in this area and not only reactive ones.

Relatively few new developments have been made on the issue of nuclear safety since last year's summit in Denver. The overarching global concern has been with the safe maintenance and eventual permanent closure of the fourth reactor in the Chernobyl plant by the year 2000. Agreements to build a sarcophagus around this reactor are in the process of completion. Monetary assistance to this end has been contributed by all of the G7 member states, totalling $75 million. But the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development, which controls the allocation of funds for this project, is sceptical about the Ukraine government's cost proposal, claiming the cost of repairs to the fourth reactor is exaggerated. This doubt was put to rest in March when the EBRD and the Ukraine government agreed on a $75 million dollar restructuring cost.

Since the 1996 nuclear safety summit in Moscow, the once volatile situation of nuclear safety has significantly ceased to be a top priority for world leaders and institutions. The stabilized reactor of the Chernobyl plant is no longer posing a threat. As a result, any concerns about reactor safety have been minimized to date, and do not demand the attention of the world as they once did. This means nuclear safety will not bee a prominent issue at the upcoming Birmingham summit. An issue that was of such primary importance two years ago, has been adequately dealt with that it no longer warrants the attention it received in the past.

Document prepared by: Mary-Ellen Tompros
April 1998

~ Objectives by Issue (Evaluative Criteria): 1998 Birmingham Summit ~

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