Disarmament DiplomacyIssue No. 42, December 1999
US Enrichment Corporation Re-Commits Itself to Russia Nuclear Assistance ProgrammeOn December 1, the Board of Directors of the privately owned United States Enrichment Corporation (USEC) voted to continue in its capacity as the US Government's executive agent for the 1993 US-Russia Highly-Enriched Uranium (HEU) Agreement specifying the purchase of 500 tons of diluted Russian uranium from dismantled nuclear weapons and its conversion into low-enriched uranium for use in US civil nuclear reactors. The company's commitment had been thrown into doubt by the refusal of Congress to provide it with financial assistance which USEC claims is necessary due to the fall in the value of uranium to levels appreciably below the fixed-price set out in the 1993 accord.
Energy Secretary Richardson reacted to the announcement with obvious relief, stating (December 1): "I'm pleased that UNSEC is standing by their role… I look forward to continuing working with them on this important agreement that is so critical to our non-proliferation goals. In the end, I think they realized that it was not in their interest to abandon an exclusive long-term market position that is of considerable financial value."
Reports: Company seeks Govt. help to buy uranium, Associated Press, November 19; Plant operator mulling deal, Associated Press, December 1; Richardson statement on USEC decision, US Department of Energy Press Release L-99-070, December 1.
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