The nonpayment crisis in Russia is not preventing it from working to make its nuclear power stations safer, according to Russian Atomic Energy Minister Yevgeny Adamov.

The minister told a meeting in Moscow to mark the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Russian Nuclear Society that electric power “can always be traded for materials to upgrade stations the way native peoples traded beads for Winchesters”.

Adamov said the present export potential of the Russian nuclear power industry is 25 billion kWh a year. However, its realisation depends on solving the key problems facing nuclear power worldwide; security and restoration of economic competitiveness.

Adamov stressed that MINATOM would continue to strive “to minimise the chance of serious accidents at the country’s nuclear power stations”, and is making significant progress. However, he noted that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has recently been neglecting nuclear power engineering to focus on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and is urging the IAEA to concentrate more on the problems of nuclear power safety.