The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently joined with the U.S. Embassy in Prague and the Czech Republic’s Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports to sign an agreement that establishes a joint Civil Nuclear Cooperation Center in Prague. The creation of this Center is another valued step in expanding U.S.-Czech energy collaboration and fulfills the commitment made by President Obama and Czech Prime Minister Nečas in October 2011 to establish such a Center to facilitate and coordinate joint activities and support regional initiatives in the fields of nuclear energy, nuclear security and nuclear non-proliferation.
The establishment of the joint Civil Nuclear Cooperation Center in Prague also advances President Obama’s “Prague Vision.” In 2009, President Obama traveled to Prague to lay out his nuclear agenda, including his commitment to the safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear power around the world. He called for a new framework for peaceful nuclear cooperation, so that countries that play by the rules can gain access to nuclear energy to meet the demand for low-carbon electricity without increasing proliferation risks.
The United States and the Czech Republic have taken a number of steps since then to continue deepening our long-standing scientific, technical, and commercial bilateral civilian nuclear energy relationship, and to advance nuclear safety and security objectives. In 2010, following a successful civilian nuclear trade mission to the Czech Republic led by the U.S. Department of Commerce, both countries joined together to sign a joint declaration expanding cooperation in civil nuclear energy research and development (R&D) and strengthening commercial relations between our two nations.
Last month, DOE completed the transfer of 75 kilograms of fluoride salt from the Department’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory to the Czech Nuclear Research Institute Řež for experiments that will advance research on next-generation reactors. Our commitment to peaceful nuclear cooperation with the Czech Republic was also recently demonstrated by the conversion of the Řež reactor to low-enriched uranium and subsequent removal of all remaining highly-enriched uranium from the Czech Republic this past April.
“Given the breadth and depth of civil nuclear energy and nuclear security cooperation between our two countries, the United States and Czech Republic have agreed to jointly establish this Center in Prague and dedicate it to strengthening our collaboration in these areas,” said U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman. “The Center will serve as a catalyst for our brightest scientists and researchers from our universities, national laboratories, and private sectors to work together on advanced nuclear energy, nuclear security and non-proliferation technologies.”
"The establishment of this Center is the latest addition to the strong foundation of cooperation we are building in the civil nuclear sphere," said U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic Norman Eisen.
The United States has pledged $500,000 in funding via U.S. contributions to the IAEA Peaceful Uses Initiative for regional activities to be performed in collaboration with the Center, including R&D workshops, seminars, training activities and academic exchanges. This funding will be supplemented by contributions from the Czech Republic.