'Russia to increase nuclear safety budget 10-fold'

Russia will raise its nuclear safety budget 10-fold next year, the country's top nuclear energy official said Tuesday, Russian news agencies reported. The increase to US$111 million in 2007 will go toward civilian nuclear and radiation safety programs, Atomic Energy Agency Chief Sergei Kiriyenko said. Kiriyenko lamented, however that the increase was "still very little," according to RIA Novosti, and called for further investment in the country's nuclear energy industry. "We should annually raise at least $1.48 billion for the support and development of innovative technologies in Russia's nuclear industry," Kiriyenko said, speaking at a conference on nuclear innovation. Russia currently has 31 reactors at 10 nuclear power plants, accounting for 16-17 percent of the country's electricity generation, and President Vladimir Putin has called for raising the share to 25 percent. Earlier this month, the atomic energy agency contracted with a military shipbuilding plant to build the world's first floating nuclear reactor near the Arctic port of Severodvinsk.