|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||28/03/96, Volume 2, Number 13|
EUROPEAN Commission officials travelled to Moscow this week to begin talks with their Russian counterparts on the possibility of buying bomb-grade uranium from the Russian Federation for research reactors in five EU member states.
The envoys will also continue exploratory contacts with Minatom, Russia's atomic energy ministry, on the possibility of negotiating an EU-Russia accord on nuclear fuel trade that could take effect as early as 1997.
The talks, which get under way today (28 March), come after months of multilateral and bilateral meetings between the Commission and five EU member states - Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK - on the legal conditions for buying, importing and transporting the highly-enriched uranium (HEU).
European reactors were fed by American-made HEU until the United States banned HEU exports in 1992. US opposition to Europeans buying the material from other sources had been strong until two weeks ago, when Congress ratified an agreement with the European Supply Agency (Euratom) on peaceful nuclear cooperation. Under the agreement, the US recognised that European reactors might need to use HEU and therefore could procure it.
While many European reactors have converted to the use of low-enriched uranium as part of a global non-proliferation policy, a handful of reactors in the EU are unable to convert.
In response to fears about Russia's current political climate not being the most stable in which to start negotiations about such sensitive material, Commission officials say that any sale would be amply covered in international safeguards, including those of the EU, Euratom and the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency.
|Subject Categories||Energy, Trade|
|Countries / Regions||Russia|