Copyright 2000 ITAR-TASS News Agency

TASS

September 12, 2000, Tuesday 09:00 AM Eastern Time

350 words

Russo-US uranium contract profitable to Russia -- minister

By Andrei Yarushin MOSCOW, September 12 The highly enriched and low enriched uranium (HEU-LEU) contract implemented in the framework of an the Russo-US agreement on utilization of highly enriched uranium obtained from Russian nuclear weapons proved very profitable to Russia and has done a lot of good to this country, said Russian Atomic Energy Minister Yevgeny Adamov at a press conference at the Itar-Tass news agency on Tuesday. Under the contract, around 30 tons of highly enriched uranium obtained from nuclear warheads are utilized annually, the minister said. The minister declared that the deal made in the early 1990s is absolutely open for checks and that it had been checked many times by the Russian Audit Chamber and other commissions. Thanks to the realization of the contract the activities for conversion or our eneterprises and creation of work places for the personnel of the nuclear defence complex have been financed at the amount reaching two billion roubles year, Adamov said. Until the contract is over, it is quite realistic to provide work places to all those dismissed from the nuclear fence complex, Adamov said. The realization of the contract will continue for ten more years, and by the year 2005, a total of 40,000 work places are expected to be created, Adamov said. Another advantaged offered by the contract is to sharply increase the expenditures on ecological projects. Earlier, approximately 20-50 million roubles a year had been allocated for ecological projects, whereas now, we have much more funds for this purpose -- over one billion roubles raised thanks to the HEU-LEU contract. A third advantage is the possibility to increase expenditures on utilisation of Russian nuclear submarines. Earlier, the Russian Defence Ministry had allocated around 100 million roubles for this purpose, whereas over the past two years the same allocations are nearing a billion rouble mark, to say nothing of workers employed at industries converting highly enriched uranium into low enriched uranium and whose wages are going up to the level of 9,000-10,000 roubles a month, Adamov said.