16 Sep 2007, 1714 hrs IST,AFP
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VIENNA: Eleven countries joined the United States and four other key nuclear fuel nations on Sunday in an effort to promote nuclear power as an energy solution through a Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP).
The 11 signed a statement of principles which described GNEP as “cooperation of those states that share the common vision of the necessity of the expansion of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes worldwide in a safe and secure manner.”
Nuclear energy is increasingly seen as a key technology since it makes electricity without adding to the greenhouse gases which cause global warming.
GNEP started as a US initiative in February 2006 and had its first meeting in May this year in Washington when the United States hosted fellow members China, France, Japan and Russia.
The United States is seeking to promote nuclear power while guarding against the danger of spreading nuclear weapons that arises when states like Iran develop key technologies, such as uranium enrichment, on their own.
The key to GNP is supplying states with nuclear fuel, such as uranium, and helping them get nuclear reactors that do not present proliferation risks.
The United States wants GNEP to organize countries that have secure, advanced nuclear capabilities to provide fuel to other nations who agree to use nuclear energy just for power generation under the auspices of the Vienna-based UN nuclear watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
US Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said Sunday that GNEP had no specific projects yet.
“Our task today is to formally commit to the principles espoused by GNEP and to begin discussions with like-minded countries that seek to develop civilian nuclear power in a safe and secure manner and who, not coincidentally, have been reaching out to us,” Bodman said in a speech at the GNEP meeting, which also included 22 candidate partner and observer countries.
The 11 countries which signed on Sunday to join GNEP were Australia, Bulgaria, Ghana, Hungary, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and Ukraine.