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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Nuclear Minister Pushes for Spent Nuclear Rod Imports

New Nuclear Power Minister Alexander Rumyantsev on Monday pushed for the country to import other nations' spent nuclear fuel rods for reprocessing, two days before parliament takes up legislation on the divisive proposal.

Rumyantsev, whom President Vladimir Putin appointed last month, said the legislation was essential for Russia to be able to export new nuclear fuel.

"If other countries know that we can accept spent nuclear fuel for storage and processing, it will help expand our market opportunities," Rumyantsev told a news conference.

He said that Russia faced increasing competition from French and British companies that are eager to provide nuclear fuel to the former Soviet republics and Eastern European countries, which have Soviet-built nuclear reactors. The British and French offer to accept the spent fuel, he said.

Rumyantsev also argued that the $20 billion plan to import up to 20,000 metric tons of nuclear fuel was good for Russia because it would generate to clean up radiation-polluted territories and deal with other legacies of the nuclear era.

Spent nuclear fuel imports will also allow Russia to process up to four times more of its own nuclear waste, which has been piling up because of a lack of funds to build new storage and processing facilities, he said.

The legislation is set to be discussed Wednesday by the State Duma.