Russia will “build as many uranium enrichment plants in China as the Chinese want”, said Russian Minister for Atomic Energy Yevgeny Adamov during a trip to Beijing in June. Russia has already built one gas centrifuge enrichment plant at Hanzhung in Shanxi Province. The first stage was completed in 1996, nearly a year ahead of schedule. The second will be commissioned later this year, and the third in 2001. Adamov added that, “although we are not supplying China with Russia’s most advanced technology, it is still hi-tech and better than anything in the USA”. The plant is being built on a turnkey basis and does not involve the transfer of technology to China.
Adamov is pressing for further co-operation to include major projects “much wider in scope than those now under way in China.” Adamov knows that Russia will have to withstand stiff competition from US corporations now restrictions on high technology trade have been lifted. “They have set themselves the task of conquering the Chinese nuclear power market,” he says. But he believes Russia can still offer better terms including much cheaper credit. “Russia charges less, overall, for building power-generating sets than other countries. What is more, Russia is charging China only 4% interest per year on the loan for building the two 1000 MWe units at Liangyungan, rather than 7%, like France, and it is accepting part of the payment in the form of Chinese goods,” he said.