Uranium cooperation

14 September 2007

A cooperation agreement in the field of nuclear energy has been signed by Sergey Kiriyenko, the head of Russia’s Rosatom, and Australian foreign minister Alexander Downer that will see Australia supply uranium to Russia for processing and use at Russian plants.

Kiriyenko said that under the terms of the agreement Russia is ready to process 4000t of Australian uranium a year. “The possible contracts we are negotiating now are about 4000t of uranium a year, which is not far from A$1 billion ($830 million),” he said.

Kiriyenko added that the agreement will give Russia as much uranium as it wants, making the country independent from any specific supplier and will strongly enhance uranium enrichment potential.

Potentially, the agreement may also bring low-enriched uranium supply contracts with Japan worth $2 billion within 2008–2015, some $400 million with Europe, and $300-400 million with the USA, said Aleksey Grigoryev, acting director general of Russian uranium firm Techsnabexport (Tenex).

However, Grigoryev added: “We have made no natural uranium purchase contracts with Australia yet, we just have a framework agreement.”

The agreement also states that Russia may provide Australia with technological assistance if it decides to develop its own nuclear power sector.

The parliaments of both countries are expected to ratify the agreement by mid-2008.

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