Press release of the Bavarian State Ministry for Science, Research and Art, Hans Zehetmair, issued on occasion of the press conference concerning the FRM-II on October 25, 2001 in Munich

[Dear ]

After long and difficult negotiations between the Federal Government [of Germany] led by the BMBF [Bundesministerium fuer Bildung und Forschung, Federal Ministry for Education and Research] and the Bavarian State Ministry for Science, Research and Art, we announce the agreement over a declaration which gets us a big step closer towards putting into operation the nuclear research reactor FRM II. This agreement, which was initialed today, forms the basis for the future [licensing] process of the Federal Government and the State of Bavaria. Both have struggled hard with each other.

One of the corner points is that Bavaria has declared to be ready to convert the FRM II operations from highly-enriched fuel (HEU) to fuel of medium enrichment (max. 50% - MEU -) without significant performance penalty, as soon as this is technically feasible, but at latest until 31.12.2010. It is important to me to state that this [agreement] is a substantial obligation of the State of Bavaria: on the one hand, since we compete scientifically and economically with nations who operate their reactors with HEU, and will continue to do this for a long time. On the other hand, from a legal perspective, there is no reason to convert the FRM-II: in our opinion the reactor is neither a source of proliferation risks whatsoever, nor are there any national or international laws that are violated by building and operating the FRM-II with HEU.

With the agreement, Bavaria and the Federation have moved toward each other, and each has made concessions; this is the very nature of a compromise. Also the regulations concerning the treatment of spent fuel .

The Bavarian State will quickly put this agreement into practice. A working group at the Technical University Munich has already been formed, which, in cooperation with the general contractor of the FRM-II [Siemens], and the developer of nuclear fuel, will concern itself with the design of the future nuclear fuel element, and thus will provide the foundation for the contract to develop a new medium enriched fuel element.

The Bavarian State and Id like to stress this has done more than the other side when we decided to accept the agreement in its present form. I express the firm expectation that the nuclear licensing process will be finalized quickly and that the Federal Government will issue the third and final partial license [for the FRM-II] within this year. Afterwards this agreement will be signed by my colleague Buhlmahn and myself.

This is in addition to the facts that the nuclear safety commission has already issued its positive recommendations and that the radiation protection commission has firmed up its equally positive recommendations, which only need to be formalized by vote.

This licensing will be a signal for the scientific community. On the one hand there are the 100 young scientists in the Garching research center, which wish to use the neutrons to succeed with their scientific research new and innovative devices for the material sciences, biology, and basic research. On the other hand there are more than 1000 scientists of almost all scientific and technical faculties from this country and foreign countries above all the USA who are waiting for time for their experiments at the FRM-II since a long time. They all can now observe that the Federal Government and the Bavarian State do not permit that the German neutron research community thoughtlessly risks to lose its global leading role; instead we jointly take care that there is continuity, and that it is rewarding to work and pursue research in Germany.