Bulgaria, U.S. sign agreement on nuclear non-proliferation assistance

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

SOFIA, March 25 (Xinhua) -- Bulgaria and the United States have signed an intergovernmental agreement on assistance in nuclear non-proliferation, the local Bulgarian news agency reported Tuesday.

The agreement, signed here by Bulgaria's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Education and Science Daniel Vulchev and U.S. Ambassador to Bulgaria John Beyrle, provides that the U.S. government will assist Bulgaria in the transportation of spent nuclear fuel from its experimental nuclear reactor, belonging to the Nuclear Energy and Research Institute of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Vulchev said.

The U.S. will also assist Bulgaria in upgrading the institute's IRT-200 reactor to use low-concentrated uranium instead of the present high-concentrated uranium.

The new installation will be the first of its type in the Balkans and the scientists will be able to carry out valuable nuclear and medical studies, Vulchev added.

Under the agreement, Bulgarian and U.S. experts will start taking out the spent fuel from the reactor in Sofia under a schedule, guaranteeing its safe transportation to Russia, from where it originates, Ambassador Beyrle said.

The project will have a total funding of over 50 million U.S. dollars, with the U.S. contributing 5.5 million dollars. The remaining will be provided by Bulgaria and international sources, Beyrle added.

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