U.S. lifts restrictions on Russian uranium supplies
( RIA Novosti ) - The United States Court of International Trade has lifted discriminatory, anti-dumping restrictions on Russian low-enriched uranium (LEU) supplies, the chief of Russia's nuclear agency said Friday.
"On September 26, the U.S. Court of International Trade made a decision in favor of the Russian Federal Nuclear Power Agency in a dispute [with the U.S. Commerce Department]," Sergei Kiriyenko told journalists. "This is a huge legal and political victory."
Kiriyenko said the U.S. court ruled that uranium enrichment was not a product, but a service that cannot be an object of an antidumping investigation.
In line with the court ruling, the U.S. Department of Commerce should within 60 days cancel the 112% duty for Russian low-enriched uranium used in operations by some 50% of U.S. nuclear power plants.
In 1991 Russia supplied to global markets, including the U.S., significant volumes of natural uranium at low prices. An antidumping procedure that followed led to trade restrictions being imposed on Russia.
Russia currently exports uranium duty free to the U.S. via a monopoly mediator, the United States Enrichment Corporation (USEC), a special intermediary agent, under a conversion program called HEU-LEU.
The HEU-LEU contract, also known as the Megatons to Megawatts agreement, was signed in February 1993 and expires in 2013. It aims to convert 500 metric tons of high-enriched uranium (HEU), the equivalent of approximately 20,000 nuclear warheads, from dismantled Russian nuclear weapons into low-enriched uranium (LEU), which is then converted into nuclear fuel for use in U.S. commercial reactors.
Kiriyenko also said Friday that Russia and the U.S. will sign an agreement on the civilian use of nuclear power by the end of 2007.
"We are waiting for the bureaucratic procedures for coordinating the agreement in the U.S. to be concluded, and plan to sign it by the end of the year," Sergei Kiriyenko told journalists.
A nuclear expert said certain American officials associate the signing of this agreement with Russia ceasing nuclear operations in Iran, where it is engaged in the construction of a nuclear power plant (NPP).
Russian nuclear equipment export monopoly Atomstroyexport has been building Iran's first nuclear power plant in Bushehr in the country's south, despite opposition from Western countries and amid international concerns that the Islamic Republic is pursuing a covert nuclear weapons program.