Every month we get contradictory reports on Mongolia’s nuclear policy. Mongolia discusses uranium mining concessions, ore processing, nuclear power generation and storage of spent fuel with half a dozen countries: Russia, China, France, Japan, India, US, Canada, Korea and even possibly Iran. According to mass-media this happens in a haphazard way. In this post avoiding comments we put one after another most interesting materials that leaked into internet this year.RwB. Also see the latest analysis on http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/
I. Prime Minister S. Batbold has told Parliament that Mongolia plans to commence uranium exploration by 2012.
«With nearly one million tons of reasonably assured reserve of uranium, we need to speed up production to make uranium the most ambitious mining project in Mongolia after Oyu Tolgoi and Tavan Tolgoi, he said.
The reserves of the Mardai deposit in Dornod and in Kharaat in Dundgobi have been established and feasibility studies for them are under way.
«Exploration will start by 2012, and Mongolia will begin selling uranium from 2013 or 2014, Mr. Batbold said. «As regards nuclear energy production, there is a lot to do and we are proceeding step by step.
Altogether 107 prospecting licenses have been granted to 17 entities, and their work is being strictly monitored by the Government, pursuant to the Nuclear Energy Law of Mongolia.
Speaking after the Prime Minister’s report, some MPs criticized the Government and related agencies for their failure to decide on making the projected fifth power plant a nuclear one.
The Nuclear Energy Agency has tentative plans for developing nuclear power, using either Korean Smart reactors or Toshiba 4S types, from 2021. Three sites under consideration are Ulaanbaatar, western Mongolia and Dornod province.
2011-02-15 Source:UB Post
II. Korea-Mongolia MOU for Cooperation concerning the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy
Press Release on March 25th, 2011
The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology signed an MOU with Mongolia on the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy in the fields of Human Resource Development and Research.
The two countries agreed to cooperate not only in the field of nuclear technology, such as small & medium sized reactors and radiotherapy technologies, but also in the exchange of nuclear human resources related to nuclear safety technology and management of radioactive waste, and in the exchange of technical information.
By concluding this MOU, Korea, which has already concluded agreements on nuclear cooperation with governments of advanced nuclear countries including China, Japan, and Russia, is cooperating with all neighboring countries on the safe and peaceful use of nuclear energy. MEST also plans to strengthen the related role of Korea in the Northeast Asian region.
III. Mongolia eyes first nuclear power plant by 2020: MonAtom
April 07, 2011
(Reuters) — Mongolia plans to have its first nuclear power plant by 2020 and build nuclear fuel production capacity by tapping the country’s rich uranium resources, undeterred by the recent nuclear crisis in Japan, a senior official at the state-owned MonAtom LLC said on Thursday
Japan’s nuclear crisis is not seen to have a lasting impact on the global nuclear industry, said Tsogtsaikhan Gombo, deputy chairman of MonAtom, which represents the government in mining and developing the country’s uranium resources.
«We don’t think it’s a big problem for the industry as a whole. It’s a little bit of set-back in time frame, but as a whole it will go on,» said .
«We want green development and nuclear is the number one choice.»
Mongolia has proven uranium reserves of about 80,000 tons, ranking it among the top ten in the world, and putting it on the map of mining giants, which have been attracted by world-class deposits such as the massive Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold project.
«We have the ambition to build the capability of nuclear energy in Mongolia, and the ambition to supply nuclear power plants in Northeast Asia with nuclear fuel,» Gombo told reporters on the sidelines of a mining conference in Singapore.
Gombo said the country is seeking investment from around the globe to develop its nuclear energy sector, adding that uranium reserves in the country could rise to above one million tons.
«Currently there is not much, but we expect there will be huge investment in Mongolia’s nuclear energy sector, because the super powers are interested,» said Gombo, adding that the United States, Russia and Chinaare competing with each other to get into the country’s nuclear sector.
But for the country sandwiched between Russia and China, choosing business partners is a delicate task, Gombo said.
«The government is quite selective, and is opting to cooperate with the most developed countries in the industry, like the United States, Japan and France,» he said.
«I wouldn’t say we don’t want them (China and Russia), but we want a balance of interest.»
Last October, Mongolia and France’s governments signed an agreement to let France’s Areva to explore and mine uranium in Mongolia, Areva said on its website (www.areva.com).
(Source: REUTERS Reporting by Rujun Shen)
IV. Mongolia Might Store Foreign Spent Nuclear Fuel,Senior U.S. Official Says
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration has held informal talks with Mongolia about the possibility that the Central Asian nation might host an international repository for its region’s spent nuclear fuel, a senior U.S. diplomat said March 29, 2010.
U.S. Energy Department officials and their counterparts in Ulaanbaatar, the Mongolian capital, are in the early stages of discussion and there has been no determination yet about whether to proceed with the idea, according to Richard Stratford, who directs the State Department’s Nuclear Energy, Safety and Security Office.
Speaking at the biennial Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference, Stratford said a spent-fuel depot in the region could be of particular value to Taiwan and South Korea, which use nuclear power but have few options when it comes to disposing of atomic waste.
«If Mongolia were to do that, I think that would be a very positive step forward in terms of internationalizing spent-fuel storage,» he said during a panel discussion on nuclear cooperation agreements. «My Taiwan and South Korean colleagues have a really difficult time with spent fuel. And if there really was an international storage depot, which I have always supported, then that would help to solve their problem.»
Stratford is Washington’s lead envoy for nuclear trade pacts, which are sometimes called «123 agreements» after the section of the Atomic Energy Act that governs them.
The United States provides fresh uranium rods to selected trade partners in Asia, including South Korea and Taiwan. For Mongolia to accept and store U.S.-origin spent fuel from these or other nations would require Washington to first negotiate a nuclear trade agreement with Ulaanbaatar.
Although Energy Department officials have reportedly engaged in informal talks with Mongolian representatives for several months, Stratford has not yet had any contact with Ulaanbaatar on the matter, he said. It is not yet certain whether formal negotiations on a nuclear trade pact will move forward.
In fact, the senior diplomat said he was unaware of the idea until roughly eight weeks ago, when a colleague mentioned, «Your Energy folks are talking to Mongolia about various types of [nuclear] cooperation,» Stratford told Global Security Newswire following the panel discussion. «And I said, ‘OK, I didn’t know that. But now that I do, I will add Mongolia to my [planning] list and then watch what happens.'»
Energy Department officials traveled to Mongolia last fall for meetings on the matter, according to Mark Hibbs, a senior associate with the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He chaired the discussion on nuclear cooperation.
«It was a fruitful discussion,» Hibbs told GSN yesterday. «They went into some details [but] it was very exploratory.»
The long-term disposal of even domestically produced nuclear waste has proven problematic around the world, with publics deeply wary of the potential health hazards associated with storing radioactive or toxic materials.
For its part, the U.S. government has been unable to settle on a solution following an Obama administration decision last year to formally abandon earlier concepts for entombing spent fuel and other atomic waste at Yucca Mountain in Nevada (see GSN, March 14).
In most nations, the idea of accepting foreign spent fuel has seemed an even greater anathema. Russian officials have discussed building an international repository on their territory, but the idea appears to have faded due to domestic opposition.
Nuclear expert Jeffrey Lewis said he wonders if the situation would be any different in Mongolia.
«I think these guys are fooling themselves [if they] believe we will put a spent-fuel depot in Mongolia,» he told GSN in a brief interview, noting surprise at Stratford’s remarks. «I don’t think Mongolia is going to accept being a regional spent-fuel repository.»
Hibbs said that as «a country that’s surrounded by two big powers» — Russia and China — Mongolia is «trying to carve a niche out for itself economically in the region.»
Broadening its involvement in the nuclear energy sector might serve as just such an economic lever, Hibbs said.
Mongolia could seek to step up mining of its natural uranium deposits and potentially expand into a wider array of services, such as providing foreign nations with fresh fuel and then taking back the atomic waste at a later date, according to regional experts (see GSN, Jan. 19).
This type of move would come at a time when neither Russia nor China has acted on similar concepts for what is termed «leasing» of nuclear material.
There could also be interest among officials in and outside the Mongolian government in developing nuclear power to meet that nation’s own growing energy needs, according to some sources. Ulaanbaatar last week signed a memorandum of understanding with Seoul to cooperate on peaceful nuclear technologies and expertise.
Lewis, who directs the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, said it was difficult to believe that Mongolia would find it profitable to enter a field that has been dominated for decades by established nuclear energy powers such as Russia and France.
«I don’t understand why Mongolia wants to be involved in the fuel-cycle business to begin with,» he said. «If I were running Mongolia, I could think of a bunch of other things to spend that kind of industrial investment on before it came down to fuel-cycle services.»
Nor would it likely prove politically palatable for Mongolia to become a final destination for its neighbors’ atomic waste, he argued.
«Without some compelling evidence — like a statement by the government of Mongolia that they’re willing to be the region’s nuclear waste dump — I don’t see why anybody thinks they would do this,» Lewis said.
If Mongolia ultimately does see merit in offering nuclear fuel services, inking a nuclear trade agreement with the United States would be a shot in the arm, Hibbs said.
«Having the blessing of the United States through a 123 agreement would be very valuable for them,» he said. «Mongolia is emerging as a very Western-friendly country. … [Getting] the 123 agreement would basically underscore that the United States supports the development of nuclear energy activities in Mongolia.»
Hibbs said it is highly unlikely that Mongolia is exploring its atomic energy options with an eye toward eventually developing a nuclear weapon.
«I think it’s inconceivable that Mongolia would be interested in nuclear weapons in the environment that they’re in,» he said. «It realizes that by being a member of good standing in the [1970 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty], it’s better served than getting involved in a hair-brained arms race with either the Russians or the Chinese.»
Lewis had a slightly different take on the matter.
«I don’t think Mongolia has any interest in developing a bomb right now,» he said. «But if Mongolia wants to move from uranium mining into the fuel cycle, that could contribute to an unwelcome spread of sensitive facilities.»
V. Japan, U.S. plan nuclear waste storage in Mongolia -paper.
May 9 (Reuters) — Japan and the United States plan to jointly build a spent nuclear fuel storage facility in Mongolia to serve customers of their nuclear plant exporters, pushing ahead despite Japan’s prolonged nuclear crisis, the Mainichi daily said on Monday.
A Trade Ministry official said Japan, U.S. and Mongolia officials, at a meeting shortly before Japan’s March 11 earthquake, informally discussed possible construction of a nuclear waste storage facility for countries with nuclear power plants but no spent fuel storage capability of their own.
He said there were no concrete plans at this time but the ministry would consider such a project if Mongolia were interested.
The Mainichi said the facility would allow Japanese and U.S. nuclear plant exporters, which include joint ventures and units of General Electric , Hitachi and Toshiba , to better compete with Russian rivals that offer potential nuclear plant customers spent fuel disposal in a package.
Mongolia plans to have its first nuclear power plant by 2020 and to build nuclear fuel production capacity to tap its rich uranium resources, undeterred by the crisis at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power complex, a senior official at the state-owned MonAtom LLC said in April.
MonAtom represents the Mongolian government in mining and developing the country’s uranium resources.
The trade ministry official denied the Mainichi’s report that the three countries had originally planned to sign a deal on the spent fuel disposal project in February but it was postponed as Japan’s Foreign Ministry opposed the schedule, citing a lack of consensus among Japanese ministries.
The Mainichi said a new date had not been set in the wake of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in northeast Japan, which triggered cooling system malfunctions at Tokyo Electric Power Co’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant and led to radiation leaks into the atmosphere and the sea.
VI. U.S., Japan Deny Plans to Send Spent Nuclear Fuel to Mongolia
May 10, 2011
WASHINGTON-The U.S. and Japan confirmed Monday that they have held discussions with Mongolia about nuclear waste management, but both denied that they have any plans to send their spent nuclear fuel to the lightly populated Asian nation.
On Monday Japan’s Mainichi newspaper reported that the U.S., Japan and Mongolia were set to sign an agreement over the project in February, but put it off after objections from Japan’s Foreign Ministry. The newspaper said it would be easier for the U.S. and Japan to sell their nuclear-reactor technology overseas if they could offer countries a place to put their nuclear waste.
A Department of Energy spokeswoman said: «The U.S. government is not negotiating a deal to send spent nuclear fuel to Mongolia.» She added, «No discussions or potential fuel leasing services involve U.S.-origin spent nuclear fuel.»
Asked whether Japan was talking with Mongolia about nuclear-fuel storage, Japan’s deputy foreign minister, Chiaki Takahashi, said at a news conference Monday that the countries had held an «informal exchange of views» about the subject. He said the talks didn’t reach a conclusion and Japan doesn’t intend to send its spent nuclear fuel to Mongolia.
The U.S. and Mongolia signed a memorandum of understanding on nuclear power in September 2010, when deputy energy secretary Daniel Poneman visited the Mongolian capital of Ulan Bator. A U.S. official said that accord included «waste management» but didn’t give details.
A U.S. State Department official in charge of nuclear issues, Richard Stratford, said March 29 that the U.S. Department of Energy was talking to Mongolia about storing other countries’ spent fuel, including possibly fuel that originated in the U.S.
In April, the U.S. Embassy in Ulan Bator said Mr. Stratford’s comments «may have been misinterpreted» and it is «not correct» that the U.S. was talking to Mongolia «about the establishment of a storage facility to accept foreign spent nuclear fuel.»
Both the U.S. and Japan are struggling with the long-term handling of nuclear waste. Under a 2002 U.S. law, Nevada’s Yucca Mountain is the designated repository site for the nation’s high-level nuclear waste, including spent nuclear fuel from commercial power plants, but construction has stalled amid political and legal fights.
Officials at the Mongolian Embassy in Washington couldn’t be reached for comment.
-Stephen Power contributed to this article.
Write to Peter Landers at email@example.com
VII. Mongolia Denies Plans for Spent Nuclear Storage Facility
May 13, 2011. Mongolia has not entered talks about importing nuclear waste from other countries, said Mrs.Undraa, Special Functionary Ambassador of the Foreign Ministry of Mongolia, at a press conference on May 11th, after a report that Japan and the United States planned to build a spent nuclear fuel storage facility in Mongolia.
Mrs.Undraa and the state-owned «MonAtom» LLC President R.Badamdamdin hosted the press conference after Japanese daily newspaper Mainichi said Japan and the United States planned to jointly build the spent nuclear fuel storage facility in Mongolia.
«Mongolia has not had any talks with foreign organizations or individuals on accepting nuclear waste of other countries as there are no legal grounds for such talks» she noted, adding that Mongolia’s legislation regarding its nuclear-weapon-free status «clearly prohibits dumping or disposing of» nuclear waste.
Mongolia plans to have its first nuclear power plant by 2020 and to build nuclear fuel production capacity to tap its rich uranium resources, Badamdamdin of MonAtom, which represents the Mongolian government in mining and developing the country’s uranium resources.
The Mainichi report has been also denied by Mongolia’s Foreign Minister G.Zandanshatar and Japanese Ambassador to Mongolia Kidokoro Takuo.
The two made the statements during their meeting on Tuesday, which focused on the establishment of agreements on economic partnership and strategic partnership between the two countries.
Last month, the Mongolian Foreign Ministry had once denied the possibility for Mongolia to establish a nuclear waste storage facility.
Mongolian Embassy in Vienna, where the U.N Nuclear Agency is based, also posted a statement on its website, denying any possibility that Mongolia would allow the storage of used nuclear fuel in the territory of Mongolia.
«Mongolia is prepared to work with other countries within the framework of its national legislation and accepted international norms and standards,» it said.
The U.S Embassy in Japan has also denied the report. «The U.S. government is not negotiating a deal to send spent nuclear fuel to Mongolia,» it stated on May 10th.
Meanwhile, however, Japan’s Senior vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Chiaki Takahashi told a May 9th press conference that «There have in fact been informal talks with both the United States and Mongolia on the issue.»