President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Good afternoon, colleagues,
We are meeting in Sarov to hold the second meeting of our Commission for Modernisation and Technological Development of Russia's Economy, here at the Federal Nuclear Centre. As we agreed earlier, the Commission meetings will be centred around specific topics, based on the priorities that we have outlined, and should preferably include field trips, so that we can gain a better idea of our current opportunities and to make regional leaders happy, which is also an important factor in life.
Today, we will be focusing on two subjects. The first part of our discussion will be devoted to the development of nuclear technologies, which is why we are here. It was here, 60 years ago, that the very first Soviet nuclear device was created, which allowed us to achieve strategic parity – nuclear parity – leading to stability on our planet for many years to come. Our ability to harness nuclear energy is, without a doubt, the most important innovation of the 20th century.
Because we were able to develop nuclear research from scratch in the post-war period, following a very difficult time, we were able to develop a very powerful industrial complex. Furthermore, the nuclear industry led the way for developing specialised mechanical engineering, materials science, and the mining and development of uranium, gold, and rare-earth materials. This allowed breakthroughs in science and technology, whose results still serve us to this day.
I would also like to note that just about all of our designated priorities, which I confirmed, are in some way related to nuclear technologies and the nuclear energy sector. This includes nuclear technologies, the development of nuclear medicine, the creation of supercomputers, and space technologies – first and foremost, potential power generators for spacecraft, and new types of energy resources, including hydrogen energy. So in essence, all of our priorities are in some way tied to the nuclear sector. This is no accident.
Focusing our efforts on several related areas allows us the opportunity to launch an ambitious but attainable project, which is possible because of already-existing technological developments and, most importantly, the continued competitiveness of our nuclear industry on the world market, with a significant multiplicative effect. Reaching these goals would require the maximum possible application of existing and future innovative developments in nuclear technology. I think that we will discuss this matter today.
As you know, the number of countries wanting a greater share of their nation’s energy to be supplied in the form of nuclear energy is growing. In my view, some of the uncertainty and even confusion of the 1980s and 1990s is behind us. Thus, the market for high-tech products and services is expanding. Clearly, Russia has its own commendable niche to fill, one that corresponds to our nation’s potential.
I discuss these matters quite often during my meetings with other world leaders. No doubt, there is a great deal of interest in our nuclear complex and our nuclear industry. We are viewed as leaders in the field, and rightly so. What’s most important now is to maintain this leading position for years to come.
Experts believe that if we have access to the latest technologies and the opportunities to carry out the entire production cycle, from mining uranium to routine maintenance and retiring old nuclear power plants, then Russian companies can expect to occupy at least a 25 percent segment in the global market in the current circumstances, which is a very sizable share, and we need to try to maintain it. That is our major challenge.
In order to meet this challenge, we need to implement an array of projects in different time frames. We essentially have three major objectives. In the next two or three years, the operating characteristics of pressurised water reactors must be substantially optimised, through the use of modern industrial and science-intensive technologies. This is our first goal.
The second goal, our medium term objective, is to create the new technology base for producing nuclear energy using a closed fuel cycle based on breeder reactors.
And finally, in the long term, it is imperative to develop and apply controlled thermonuclear fusion as the foundation for the energy of the future, which is something that we have been discussing for a long time.
An equally important challenge for the government is maintaining the conditions for scientific research and various forms of development in the field of fundamental physics. Essentially, this is the theoretical foundation for all of these future advances. To do this, the Government has drafted a medium-term federal target programme, Atomic Energy Technologies of the New Generation. The programme funding will commence next year and amount to over 120 billion rubles between 2010 and 2012. Well, this is the first subject on our agenda, our related plans and my basic comments.
And now, I’d like to say a few words on the other subject of today’s meeting. The second subject on our agenda is approval of the projects aiming to develop supercomputers. Of course, the fact that we are discussing this issue in Sarov is also no accident; now that there is a global ban on nuclear testing, the reliability of a nuclear complex or nuclear shield can only be tested through the use of computer models, as we just discussed. Thus, the most powerful supercomputers in the country will be located at federal nuclear centres. The same is true in other countries as well. The challenge to create these supercomputers has already been formulated; we will discuss this today, and soon after, we will be addressing this issue at a meeting of the Russian Federation Security Council.
By 2011 this Research Institute of Experimental Physics is expecting to create a computer capable of running a quadrillion simultaneous operations. The government has allotted over 2.5 billion rubles to this project which will be gradually developed in the future to further increase the performance capacity for supercomputers. This will include using today’s existing technologies in distributed systems, so-called GRID systems, making them more widely available to more users and geographical regions.
Today, it is paramount to create the appropriate software. We talked about this just now with colleagues and young researchers. Clearly, without this kind of software, it will be impossible to use such powerful computing devices, because the two elements are interdependent. In this regard, we are currently in fairly good shape, in spite of our setbacks in the 1990s. As far as programming is concerned, things look good, and in some areas, we may even be ahead of our main competitors.
In order to carry out these projects, we need highly-trained specialists. We should pay particular attention to training centres at major education and research institutions.
I also know that the Commission has not been wasting any time; the initial meetings have been held, and specific projects have been submitted for discussion – projects that will be priorities in our subsequent work. I hope and count on this Commission getting off to a good start. What’s most important now is not to relax, even during the summer holiday season. I would therefore like to suggest that we present detailed timelines for implementing these projects at the Commission’s next meeting, as we agreed. We must understand exactly what will happen, and at what time, because the purpose of creating this Presidential Commission remains the same as before – to tackle and advance all the decisions we consider being indispensable for our country. Otherwise, we shouldn’t have organised yet another Presidential structure.
I would also like to note that I have fulfilled the promises I made and the responsibilities I took on. And so, just last week, I signed amendments to a law on technological regulation, in accordance with which any technical regulations must include energy efficiency requirements, otherwise they may not be enacted. This is now a general rule. These decisions must be a driving force in our efforts on improving the competitive ability of our nation’s economy.
As we all agreed, this Commission will meet at least once every month, in spite of the fact that all of us have busy schedules. Today’s meeting in Sarov will address nuclear technology and supercomputer technology; in August, I propose that we discuss pharmaceuticals, medical technologies and IT; and in September, we can talk about outer space technologies and energy efficiency. But this is just a proposal, up for discussion.