Russia is set to become the 31st member country of the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency from 1 January 2013, following an official exchange of letters formalising its accession.

OECD secretary-general Angel Gurría, Russia’s first deputy minister of foreign affairs Andrey Denisov, and deputy director-general of Rosatom Nikolay Spasskiy all participated in the letter exchange ceremony in Paris on 23 May. Russia has a long-standing relationship with the NEA, acting as an observer in a number of NEA committees from as early as 1996.

Commenting on the event Gurría said: “With Russia, the NEA will have additional strength when it comes to nuclear energy, nuclear safety, waste management or economics. It is all the more important in the post-Fukushima context: international co-operation needs to be enhanced to make sure that all the lessons learnt are fully implemented.”

Russia has the fourth largest civilian nuclear programme in the world after the United States, France and Japan. Currently, around 18% of the country’s electricity is produced by its 33 nuclear reactors. Russia is steadily moving towards an expanded role of nuclear energy, with 11 reactors under construction, and plans to nearly double output by 2020.

“We are particularly proud to become an NEA member,” said Denisov. “It is also an important step in the direction of full OECD membership.”