Written Answers. - Nuclear Disarmament Initiative.

Michael Noonan

Question:

26 Mr. Noonan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if the EU has had discussions with the US and Russian governments on nuclear safety and nuclear non-proliferation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15025/02]

The European Union meets the United States at official and ministerial level in a variety of contexts, both formally and informally, to discuss matters relating to nuclear non-proliferation. Predominant in this area is the need to prevent the further dissemination of nuclear weapons. The primary multilateral regime to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons is the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to which all the member states of the EU adhere.

The EU met the US at official level on 27 March 2002 to discuss issues specifically relating to non-proliferation and disarmament, including nuclear non-proliferation. The parties discussed the first meeting of the Preparatory Committee for the 2005 Review Conference to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which took place in April 2002.

As both the EU and US are major contributors to non-proliferation efforts in the Russian Federation, the meeting also discussed preparation for the second Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Cooperation Initiative. The latter is a forum wherein technical experts from the Russian Federation and from donors contributing to Russian non-proliferation activities meet to discuss non-proliferation issues, from a technical perspective.

The EU also met representatives of the Russian Federation at official level most recently on 31 January 2002 to discuss non-proliferation matters. Prominent among these was the European Union Cooperation Programme for Non-Proliferation and Disarmament in the Russian Federation which was established by the European Council in December 1999. The programme aims to assist the Russian Federation in its non-proliferation and disarmament efforts, both in the chemical and nuclear fields. In connection with this, the EU hosted the first Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Cooperation Initiative conference in March 2001 which facilitated the exchange of technical expertise between experts in this area from both the Russian Federation and donor states and entities.

With regard to nuclear safety, in October 2001 the European Atomic Energy Community concluded a cooperation agreement with the Russian Federation in October 2001 which covers; nuclear reactor safety research, research into and development of safety standards for radiation protection, assessment and optimisation of geological disposal and scientific aspects of nuclear waste management and strategies for decommissioning, decontamination and dismantling of nuclear installations. There is also ongoing contact between the Community and Russia on nuclear safety under the TACIS Programme through which the Community has been providing aid to Russia for specific nuclear safety projects.
The European Union also meets regularly with the Russian Federation and the US in the context of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, a grouping of 35 states, of which Ireland is a member. The group co-operates to control the movement of nuclear material so as to minimise the risk of diversion of such material for non-peaceful purposes.