Deal Struck

Russia and Uzbekistan signed an intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in NPP construction in Uzbekistan.

Prime ministers of Russia and Uzbekistan, Dmitri Medvedev and Abdulla Aripov, signed an agreement on cooperation in construction of a two-unit VVER-1200 based nuclear power plant (NPP) in the Republic of Uzbekistan.

According to the document, the parties will work jointly on the design, construction, commissioning and operation of the nuclear power plant.

“Site surveys are already underway. Due to its strategic nature, the project lays a foundation for decades-long high tech partnerships between the two countries. It will facilitate technology transfer and development of local staff competencies in multiple areas. This will bring Uzbekistan up to a fairly new level of technological development,” Dmitri Medvedev said.

Uzbekistan’s decision to build a nuclear plant was announced by Rosatom Director General Alexey Likhachev in late May 2018 after talks with President Shavkat Mirziyoyev. In July, the Head of the State held a meeting to discuss the formation of the national nuclear industry. The Government was tasked to develop a regulatory framework for the emerging industry, study best practices in nuclear construction, select a site for the nuclear plant, and establish a department that would be responsible for the construction and subsequent operation of the plant. The facility is planned to be put in operation before 2028.

The nuclear partnership is rooted in the framework agreement on peaceful uses of nuclear energy. It was signed on December 29, 2017 to highlight promising areas of cooperation, including national nuclear infrastructure, staff training, construction and life cycle maintenance of nuclear plants and research reactors, exploration of natural resources, development of uranium deposits, rehabilitation of uranium tailing dumps, fabrication of radioisotopes for industry, medicine and agriculture, as well as applied and fundamental research. The framework agreement provides for academic exchange, establishment of specific project teams, and organization of conferences and workshops.

As part of the academic exchange initiative, students from Uzbekistan started their first course in Russian universities. At the National Nuclear Research University (MEPhI), students are already studying Nuclear Physics and Technology, with 12 of them seeking a bachelor’s degree and three admitted to the master’s program. They will have an opportunity to intern at operational nuclear plants in Russia. A branch campus of the National University of Science and Technology (MISiS) has been opened in Uzbekistan. A branch campus of the National Nuclear Research University (MEPhI) is due to open in 2019.