Friday, December 28, 2007

Japan, Kazakhstan to seal deal on uranium enrichment

December 26, 2007

TOKYO. KAZINFORM. Japan agreed to enrich Kazakhstan's uranium at the territory of the Central Asian Republic, according to Japan's leading business newspaper Nikkei.
On Wednesday, Japan's Kansai Electric Power Corporation, Sumito Corporation and Kazakhstan's state-run uranium monopoly Kazatomprom will seal the relevant deal in Astana.

In 2010 Japan's companies plan to begin enrichment of Kazakhstan-produced uranium at a Soviet time plant that needs drastic reconstruction, Kazinform quotes Itar-Tass.

The plant's technical re-equipment will cost 600-700 million US dollars, while total investments in the project will reach several billion of dollars.

As a result enriched uranium production will double Japan's current uranium demand. At present, there is only one uranium enrichment plant in Japan that meets only 40 percent of its demand. Japan exports the rest from Europe and the United States.

Japan suspended the program for creating own capacities for nuclear fuel production after a nuclear accident in Tokaimura on September 30, 1999.

The accident was caused by bringing together too much uranium enriched to a relatively high level, causing an uncontrolled nuclear chain reaction. Several dozens of workers received high radiation doses.

Experts say stronger cooperation with Kazakhstan that ranks the world's second in uranium reserves will help Japan get rid of external dependence, meet its uranium demand and diversify uranium usage.

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