U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman: Mongolia never raised the issue on nuclear waste disposal from USA

Recently, due to the election competition between opposing parties and candidates, D.Zorigt, Minister for Energy, was blamed by Mr. Enkhbat, former chairman of the Nuclear Energy Agency, for initiating the issue of storing nuclear waste in Mongolia. This was cleared by the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman.
Q: During your last visit to Mongolia in 2010, Mongolia and U.S. signed a MOU on cooperation in the nuclear sector for the peace purpose. Mongolia is located between two big nuclear powers and pursuing the third neighbor policy in its foreign policy. Therefore, this document, made between two countries, is very important one for Mongolia. How does U.S. Government see it?
A: We see it that Mongolia has responsibility in developing its nuclear energy and shows its commitment in using it only for the peaceful means. This document is the fundament of the future cooperation with U.S. in using nuclear energy for the peaceful means.
Q: Mongolia is democratic country and we are proud of our nuclear weapon free region status. Do you support this stance?
A: We fully support Mongolia’s initiative and stance on nuclear weapon free region status. Hence, our president congratulates to President Elbegdorj, when making joint statement.
Q: Recently, nuclear waste dumping in Mongolia creates many dilemmas in the Mongolian public. According to your experience, does anyone from the Mongolian side ever raise an issue of disposing nuclear waste in Mongolia? Does U.S. work on dumping its waste in Mongolia?
A: I never heard or received any request or proposals of disposing nuclear waste in Mongolian from both officials of Mongolia and U.S. U.S. has never worked on disposing its nuclear waste in Mongolia. In fact, according to President Obama’s request, our Secretary for Energy established The Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future (Commission) to conduct detailed research on management of used fuel of U.S. nuclear cycle and it covers issues of store, process and dispose nuclear waste from both origins, civil and defense. The commission issued its report and the President’s office is reviewing it. Therefore, congress members are reviewing the report and advises and working on development of the legal environment. There is no single word of disposing the nuclear waste in the Mongolian territory within the text of these reports and advisory documents. I personally never heard such talks also.
Q: Was nuclear issue raised during the visit of President Elbegdorj?
A: President Elbegdorj’s visit was very important one and many important issues were discussed, including using nuclear energy for the peaceful means. This was stated in the joint statement, stating that “… based on the Memorandum of Understanding, made between U.S. and Mongolia on September 2010, mutually beneficial activities in the nuclear energy sector was decided take into the consideration. U.S. accepts the nuclear energy initiative from the Mongolian side and congratulates the Mongolian stance on nuclear weapon free status. Mongolia expresses its support on President Obama’s Prague Initiative on creating new international cooperation structure of nuclear energy.
Q: Thank you for the interview. Hope you will pay visit to Mongolia again.
A: I like my visit and people I met. I will be happy to visit again.

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