US Energy Department subsidizes Russian nuclear institutes linked to Iran reactor

Matthew Wald reported for the New York Times Feb. 6. that the US Energy Department is subsidizing two Russian nuclear institutes at Nizhny Novgorod that are building key parts of the Bushehr reactor in Iran that Washington has spent years trying to stop. One institute, the Scientific Research Institute of Measuring Systems, is providing control systems for the Iranian plant; the other is providing hundreds of pumps and ventilation fans. Russia has agreed to take back the spent fuel from the Bushehr plant, so the plutonium cannot be recovered by the Iranians. The Energy Department is subsidizing the institutes under the Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention, set up after the collapse of the USSR to maintain control of Soviet nuclear expertise and technology.

Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), chair of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI), chair of the Oversight and Investigations subcommittee, asked in a letter Feb. 6 letter to Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman: "What policy logic justifies DOE funding Russian institutes which are providing nuclear technology to Iran? How does this advance our nonproliferation goals?" Stupak called it "schizophrenic foreign policy."

See our last posts on Iran and its nuclear program, Russia and nuclear fear.