Russia and the United States announced that they completed the first stage of the work on conversion of Russian HEU research reactors that was outlined in the Implementing Agreement between the Russian State Corporation for Atomic Energy (Rosatom) and the Department of Energy (DOE) Regarding Cooperation in Concluding Feasibility Studies of the Conversion of Russian Research Reactors. The conversion studies were discussed in 2008 and the work on the Implementing Agreement began in November 2010. The agreement was signed on December 7, 2010.
Russia and the United Stated have discussed a possibility of converting six research reactors. According to the NNSA announcement, the first stage of work focused on four reactors: Argus, IRT-MEPhI, OR, and IR-8 (the first two studies were completed in March 2012). Conversion studies for two other reactors - MIR.M1 and IRT-T - are expected to be completed in the summer of 2012.
According to Rosatom, the first two reactors to be converted are Argus and IRT-MEPhI. The cost of conversion of IRT-MEPhI is estimated to be "several hundred thousand dollars," while conversion of Argus could cost more than $1 million. The Kurchatov Institute, that operates the Argus reactor, is expected to make a decision on conversion by the end of July 2012. The conversion would take about two years.