Russia opposes setting up of Int. uranium enrichment centre

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Moscow, Nov 2 (UNI) Russia has opposed the setting up of an international uranium enrichment centre in 'one of the Arab states'.

''We believe there should be a number of such centres, but clearly the centres should be located in countries in full possession of uranium enrichment technology, so that the technology does not proliferate around the world,'' head of the Nuclear Power Agency Sergei Kiriyenko said referring to the recent initiatives by some Arab countries for such a centre.

Kiriyenko, however, did not name the particular Arab country, saying he had no formal information about the initiatives.

He said one such centre was being set up in Russia, in east Siberia, and that countries developing nuclear energy programmes could have access to its services.

He also said Russia's nuclear sector had orders worth 53 billion dollars up to 2020.

''We have calculated that orders up to 2020 total 53 billion dollars. This is a huge sum, but the requirements are tough,'' RIA Novosti quoted Kiriyenko as saying.

Earlier, Moscow said it would grant any country in the world the use of an international uranium enrichment centre currently being constructed in east Siberia.

The centre, part of Moscow's non-proliferation initiative to create a network of enrichment centres under the UN nuclear watchdog's supervision, will be based at a chemical plant in Angarsk.

It will also be responsible for the disposal of nuclear waste.

Russia and its ex-Soviet neighbour Kazakhstan, which holds 15 per cent of the world's uranium reserves, signed documents in October 2006 to establish their first joint venture to enrich uranium, intended to begin in 2013.

Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said earlier that other countries have shown an interest in the Angarsk project.

Ivanov also said fuel for nuclear power plants was a market product and any country represented in the International Atomic Energy Agency that was also signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) had a right to buy.

''But this is only in theory,'' Ivanov said adding ''For a variety of political reasons, a country may be denied access to uranium.'' Ukraine's Fuel and Energy Ministry said recently that the country intended to join the project in the near future.

Russian President Vladimir Putin first raised the idea of joint nuclear enrichment centres in order to defuse tension over Iran's controversial nuclear programme.

UNI

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