Nuclear technology centre planned for Serbia
13 December 2021 | https://www.world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/Nuclear-technology-centre-planned-for-Serbia

Rosatom has signed a framework agreement with the government of Serbia to build a nuclear technology centre in the country, including a cyclotron for medical isotope production. It comes as part of a growing trend of Serbian interest in nuclear.

The new centre should be built "during the next three years" said the Serbian government, noting that it would "return our country to the map of European countries that have capabilities for scientific research in the field of nuclear technologies." The government added: "We already have requests from neighbouring countries to use the capacities of this centre together with our scientists."

No specific site was mentioned for the new facility, but Serbia's Vinča Nuclear Institute near the capital Belgrade would be a likely choice. It operated two small highly enriched uranium-fuelled research reactors supplied by the Soviet Union until 1984. Their used fuel was removed to Russia in 2010.

The framework agreement was signed in Moscow today by Rosatom Overseas President Yevgeny Pakermanov and Nenad Popović, Serbian Minister without Portfolio in charge of Innovation and Technological Development and president of the Intergovernmental Committee for Cooperation with Russia. It follows a 2019 intergovernmental development agreement and provides for practical work to begin in 2022.

Radioisotopes for medicine and industry would be produced at the facility, alongside alloyed silicon. It would also provide services such as determining the composition of ores and other samples. There was no mention in today's announcements of a 20 MWt research reactor which had been part of the 2019 agreements.

Growing interest

Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić has made a number of pro-nuclear statements over recent months in response to high gas and electricity prices in Europe.

In October Vučić said Serbia would "immediately" buy into a nearby nuclear power plant if the option were available, mentioning Bulgaria's Kozloduy plant. Later that month he said in a televised statement: "Let's try to talk with the Hungarians, they are now building Paks II with the Russians. I will propose that we will participate in this with 5 or 10%, which is between EUR500 million and EUR1 billion (USD581 million-1.16 billion), so that we can use part of this electricity." He then met with Rosatom head Alexey Likhachov in November.

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