MOSCOW, May 23 (RIA Novosti) - Simply switching from Russian-made nuclear fuel to its US equivalent for use in Ukrainian reactors is impossible, Miroslav Lipar, an official from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said.
The Ukrainian Energy Ministry has recently announced plans to diversify the country's supply of nuclear fuel to reduce the current dependency on a single supplier - Russian state-controlled nuclear fuel producer TVEL.
Ukraine's national nuclear power agency Energoatom earlier agreed to extend a fuel supply agreement with US-based company Westinghouse until 2020. Some experts consider the deal a threat to nuclear safety in the region.
"If Ukraine decides to change all fuel, then from the IAEA's point of view it's impossible, because this is not a simple metal part, this is very important from the safety viewpoint," Miroslav Lipar, Head of the IAEA Operational Safety Section, told reporters on Wednesday.
"Any country that wants to adopt new fuel must carry out a lengthy operational testing of new fuel assemblies and evaluate the impact of their use on safety. Only after that they can change the entire core with permission from the [nuclear] regulatory body," Lipar said on the sidelines of an international conference on nuclear power safety and efficiency in Moscow.
"We have the example of the Rivne nuclear power plant, when they replaced a small metal part, which was not authentic, on a safety valve. It led to a [unexpected] shut down of the safety valve," the IAEA official added.