US to power up global interest in nuclear energy

WASHINGTON, May 21, 2007 (AFP) – The United States sought to boost nuclear power in the global energy mix Monday, by hosting China, France, Japan and Russia at the first meeting of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership. There are 100 nuclear power plants in operation across America producing about 20 percent of US power. President George W. Bush has pledged 250 million dollars for 2007 to promote nuclear energy as an alternative to carbon-burning electrical plants, which emit so-called greenhouse gases that scientists have blamed for climate change.

But another key goal is controlling distribution of nuclear power technology and materials to prevent proliferation of nuclear weapons.

“An important objective for our meeting today will be to lay out the next steps of the partnership,” US Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said as he opened the GNEP meeting.

Along with China, France, Japan and Russia, observers from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and British government officials sat in on the meeting Monday.

Australia is also understood to be potentially interested in joining the GNEP club.

“Many countries have expressed interest in joining GNEP, and we need to discuss how to achieve the