The Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) underwent an overhaul at a meeting last week in Accra, Ghana. Transformative changes reflect global developments that have occurred since the partnership was established in 2007, and include a new name—the International Framework for Nuclear Energy Cooperation—and a new mission statement.

The partnership started out as a U.S.-led initiative under President George W. Bush in 2006, seeking to improve the proliferation-resistance of the nuclear fuel cycle while guaranteeing access to fuel supplies through both political and technological initiatives.

But last year, after 14 hearings and 15,000 comments, the U.S. Department of Energy reportedly pulled the plug on domestic involvement in the partnership. A DOE spokesperson was quoted as saying that the nation’s “long-term fuel cycle research and development program will continue but not the near-term deployment of recycling facilities or fast reactors.” The spokesman noted that the international component of GNEP was under interagency review.

Last week, participants of the new so-called “International Framework” unanimously agreed that the transformative measures were “necessary” to provide “a broader scope with wider international participation to more effectively explore the most important issues underlying the use and expansion of nuclear energy worldwide,” according to the DOE.

In a briefing about the meeting, the agency said that the Steering Group addressed follow-up actions to the International Framework’s Executive Committee Meeting that occurred in Beijing on Oct. 23, 2009, including ways to further enhance its activities, such as exchanges of views on approaches to assurances of fuel supply and cradle-to-grave nuclear fuel management.

The International Framework’s expert-based working groups on infrastructure development and reliable nuclear fuel services also provided reports on progress made to date and planned near-term activities.

The Reliable Nuclear Fuel Services Working Group outgoing chair from the U.S. reported on work regarding approaches for selecting back-end fuel cycle options, lessons learned, and resource requirements, and introduced the incoming chair from France.

The Infrastructure Development Working Group, currently co-chaired by the UK and U.S., reported on its progress regarding human resource development, effective radioactive management strategies, small modular reactors, financing options, engagement with specialist organizations, and identifying infrastructure requirements for an international nuclear fuel services framework.

This was the International Framework’s first meeting in Africa, and included representatives from the following countries and organizations: Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Egypt, France, Germany, Ghana, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Republic of Korea, Morocco, Netherlands, Nigeria, Romania, Russian Federation, Senegal, Slovak Republic, Spain, Ukraine, U.S., UK, the Generation IV International Forum, and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Source: DOE, POWERnews