Russia, U.S. set to start talks on uranium exports Economy ministry of Russia
(RIA Novosti) - Talks between Russia and the United States on lifting restrictions on the supplies of Russian uranium to the U.S. will open in Moscow on Tuesday, an economics ministry official said.
"The talks with the U.S. will start today in Moscow," Maxim Medvedkov, head of trade talks department at the Ministry of Economic Development said, reports Trend.
He added that Russia would be represented mostly by officials from the Federal Agency for Nuclear Power.
Restrictions on imports from Russia of low-enriched uranium have been in force since the Soviet era. Russia is currently allowed to operate on the U.S. market without a 116% import duty only through the United States Enrichment Corporation (USEC), a special intermediary agent, under the HEU-LEU Conversion program.
The U.S. International Trade Commission voted on July 18 to keep the 116% import duty on Russian uranium products claiming that the lifting of anti-dumping restrictions would seriously harm the American economy.
Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier said Russia opposed U.S. discrimination against its nuclear companies and wanted to supply uranium directly.
"We disagree with the discriminatory restrictions that are currently in force in the U.S. for Russian nuclear companies, and would like to supply uranium for your [American] nuclear power plants directly, and not via an intermediary monopoly that was established, in our opinion, artificially," Putin said in response to a American question posed during a Web cast on June 6.
Russia and the U.S. have previously agreed to form a task force to draw up an action plan designed to resolve the anti-dumping issue.
Sergei Kiriyenko, the head of the Federal Agency for Nuclear Power, said on the sidelines of the summit of the Group of Eight industrialized nations in St. Petersburg earlier this month that Russia and the U.S. were not planning to prolong their HEU-LEU program for converting high-enriched uranium into low-enriched uranium beyond 2013, but that Russia would comply with all its obligations under the program.
He added that in hindsight, he did not think the Russian side should have agreed to sell low-enriched uranium to the U.S. through a go-between monopoly.
"We are not demanding any preferential treatment, any benefits or special conditions, but we are demanding equal rights and equal opportunities for competition on the U.S. market," Kiriyenko said.
Asked whether talks with U.S. negotiators in late July were likely to produce a breakthrough on the anti-dumping issue, Kiriyenko said: "Of course not. We wish it could, but there is a long way to go. There are no quick fixes."
He said the issue would take two or three years to resolve through the courts, or a year through negotiations, but that Russia would try to have the restrictions lifted by 2010. By this date, contracts for uranium supply beyond 2013 are to be signed, he said.