30 July 2004
Foreign Minister of Serbia and Montenegro, Mr. Vuk Drascovic, accompanied by two Assistant Foreign Ministers Mr. Zeljko Perovic, and Mr. Ognjen Pribicevic, and Ambassador Vesko Garcevic and Counselor Jovica Cekic, paid a visit to the Director General on 17 June 2004. The main emphasis of the discussions was on the Vinca projects and the implementation of Green Vinca programme. The Foreign Minister assured the Director General that the Serbian Government was committed to completing its obligations towards the Agency and in particular Vinca projects. He particularly emphasized the establishment of a regulatory body as a very urgent task the Government was handing now. In addition he requested the Director General to assist Serbia in its negotiations with the Russian Federation for the return of Vinca spent nuclear fuel to Russia and the seeking of additional financial resources to implement the project. He thanked the DG for the comprehensive and substantial assistance being provided to Serbia and Montenegro under the current TC programme and noted that this was an essential input to the country for recovery. Minister Drascovic invited the Director General to visit Serbia and Montenegro at his earliest convenience to see some of the progress.
The Director General was pleased to note that Vinca received high level attention in the Government. He also assured the foreign minister of Agency’s intention to continue its cooperation with Serbia and Montenegro in all aspects of its social and economical recovery where Agency could play a role while giving the highest priority to Vinca projects in the short term. The Director General also offered to bring up the subject of the return of spent fuel to Russia and the required government-to-government agreement when he visits Moscow later in June. In addition, he agreed to write letters to US DoE Secretary Abraham, as well as to foreign ministers of France, Germany, and UK asking for their financial donations towards Vinca programme. The DG also thanked the Minister for inviting him to visit the country.
The Agency is engaged in an intensive cooperation with Serbia and Montenegro since 2001 within the scope of several technical cooperation (TC) projects. So far these projects have primarily been focused on issues related to research reactor spent fuel, radioactive waste management and decommissioning of RA research reactor at Vinca Institute of Nuclear Science. In addition to IAEA’s TC resources amounting to more than US $300,000 a year, the projects have been supported by the US non-governmental organization Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI). NTI’s grants for the period 2002-2007 have been planned to reach US $5 million. The projects are aimed at responding to urgent needs related to the Safe Removal of Spent Fuel from the RA reactor (SCG/4/003), Decommissioning of the Vinca reactor (SCG/4/004), and Safe Management of Waste in the Vinca Institute (SCG/4/005). The total TCF and extrabudgetary funds allocated to the Vinca projects over the period 2003-2006 exceed $7.5 million (see GOV/2002/52/Add.1 for details). A number of activities have already been initiated and accomplished at national level but still more needs to be done so that the spent fuel can be transported to the country of its origin (Russia) and radioactive wastes properly managed at Vinca. the projects supported by the Agency are connected to a larger Government project entitled Vinca Nuclear Decommissioning Programme (VIND Programme) or “Green Vinca”. The Green Vinca project basically is designed to clean up the old Vinca institute, decommission its RA research reactor and some other facilities, and re-organise it into a modern national research centre on nuclear science and technology as well as environmental studies.