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    Russian entry into nuclear factory alarms experts

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    Report warns against Rosatom deal
    Russian entry into nuclear factory alarms experts

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    In order to make Eastern European nuclear power plants independent of supplies from Russia, a factory in Lower Saxony is to step in to help with production. A French-Russian cooperation is planned for this. But this could open the door to influence from Moscow, warns an expert.

    The planned production of fuel elements for Eastern European nuclear power plants in Germany is causing safety concerns: a report warns against cooperation with a Russian state-owned company. It cannot be ruled out that this cooperation could endanger the internal or external security of the Federal Republic of Germany, according to the report by nuclear law expert Gerhard Roller for the Federal Environment Ministry. Fuel elements for nuclear power plants in Europe have been manufactured in Lingen for more than four decades.

    The company Advanced Nuclear Fuels (ANF) belongs to the French company Framatome. In the future, the company in Lingen will also produce fuel elements for Soviet-designed Eastern European nuclear power plants. This will make power plants in Eastern Europe less dependent on supplies from Russia. ANF's parent company Framatome has entered into a joint venture in France with a subsidiary of the Russian nuclear group Rosatom.

    An application for this is currently being examined by the Lower Saxony Ministry of the Environment on behalf of the federal government. Among other things, the Lower Saxony Ministry is to investigate whether employees of the Rosatom subsidiary TVEL would thus be given access to the plant in Lingen. The examination is also to answer the question of the extent to which the Russian subsidiary should be involved in the decision-making structures of the joint venture and whether employees of the Rosatom subsidiary have management responsibility.

    “Refusal of approval is being considered”

    One reason for the state government to refuse approval could be security concerns regarding the staff of the Russian cooperation partner, writes expert Roller. He referred to the limited information available to German security authorities with regard to Russian citizens and to Russia's de facto ability to intervene in the company. Access for certain staff would have to be prohibited by a condition. “If this were not a sufficient means of eliminating the corresponding risks, refusal of approval could also be considered,” the report states.

    “All risks from Russia's involvement in production must be ruled out,” explained Minister Christian Meyer of the Greens. “The report confirms our view that issues of internal and external security are the subject of the approval process – and not just issues of fire protection and building safety.”

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