Russia, Finland agree on more cooperation

28 February 2014

Russia and Finland have signed a new intergovernmental agreement on nuclear energy cooperation - a prerequisite for Russia to supply a reactor unit for Fennovoima's Hanhikivi project.

The agreement was signed in Helsinki by Finnish economy minister Jan Vapaavuori and head of Russia's state nuclear corporation Rosatom Sergey Kiriyenko, reports World Nuclear News.

Through the agreement, Finland and Russia will cooperate in areas including nuclear energy research, reactors and their use in energy production, nuclear safety, radiation protection and environmental protection.

A key feature of the new agreement is that is resolves issues related to liability for damages from nuclear accidents. Finland is party to the OECD-sponsored Paris Convention on nuclear liability, while Russia adheres to the IAEA-sponsored Vienna Convention. The new accord stipulates that both international treaties are reciprocally applicable between Finland and Russia.

Finland's Ministry of Employment and the Economy (TEM) noted, "In practice, therefore, the agreement thus substitutes for the Joint Protocol Relating to the Application of the Vienna Convention and the Paris Convention, which Russia has not ratified."

The ministry said that the previous cooperation agreement with Russia expired in 2004 and that nuclear collaboration between the two countries since then "has taken place without a legal treaty framework."

Under earlier cooperation between the two countries, two VVER-440 units were constructed at Fortum's Loviisa plant in southern Finland. These were, however, supplied with Western containment and control systems.

Vapaavuori commented, "The need for an agreement was long overdue. The agreement will benefit the Finnish industry. This agreement is of great importance and relevance to the Fennovoima project to construct the Hanhikivi nuclear power plant."

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