Jane VaynmanNK offering uranium to Russia?

This story fell under my radar screen earlier this week, but I noticed it yesterday. Kind of interesting if it were true, but it’s not clear, and actually sounds like just gossip to me. Last Saturday, the Tokyo Shimbun (in Japanese only I think) reported that North Korea had offered Russia exclusive rights to its uranium deposits if Russia would openly support North Korea at the 6-Party talks. Information was from an unnamed Russian source.

The Russian ITAR-TASS news agency quoted the Russian Foreign Ministry refusing to comment on “provocative reports by some mass media.”

Apart from that odd news blip, it now looks like the 6-Party talks won’t start in December as was expected. Pyongyang is demanding that the US lift financial sanctions on Banco Delta Asia in Macoao before the talks. The US has demands too:

At those talks, Hill urged North Korea to shut down its nuclear testing facilities by the end of 2008, halt uranium production, let UN weapons inspectors back into the country and hand over a full list of its nuclear facilities…

The Russian press version of this story emphasizes the point that Russia was not included in the discussions which recently took place in Beijing on the preconditions for the start of the 6-party talks. Nezavisemaya Gazeta says (in Russian) that the conditions which Chris Hill presented to the North Koreans were agreed upon in Hanoi by the US, South Korea, and Japan. Then in Beijing, the meetings involved China, but again Russia was excluded.

I am on a Russia kick this morning, so two other bits of nuclear news. 1) The Russian Duma passed a law on Wednesday which would reorganize the civilian nuclear industry into one state-owned enterprise. 2) Russia is holding talks with the French Atomic Energy Commission regarding the conversion of a nuclear facility in Angarsk into its first international uranium enrichment center. Sergei Kiriyenko (head of Rosatom) has said that this will be completed by January 25, 2007 and will not be a restricted area so IAEA inspectors and other countries could have access.

Unrelated, but that paragraph has a link to the Bellona Foundation, where I also found this cool picture. It’s a floating nuclear power plant. I am clearly into these drawings.

Comments

  1. Robot Economist (History)

    I did a Google.co.jp news search on NK’s offer of mining rights to Russia. It first appears Saturday (Dec 2) on the Chunichi Shimbun website (a subsidiary of the Tokyo Shimbun):

    http://www.chunichi.co.jp/feature/niccho/061203T1151.shtml

    Jane’s description of the article is pretty accurate – Pyongyang offered Russia exclusive rights to import uranium ore from mines in Pakchon and Sunchon. The Russians would then enrich it to supply Chinese and Vietnamese nuclear reactors. Apparently Moscow and North Korea have been negotiating this kind of deal since 2002, but Russia has since pulled back to line up with the rest of the Six-Party crowd.

    I don’t have time for a full translation, but I could work on it tonight after work.

    Map of North Korean nuclear facilities and mines in English and Japanese:

    http://www.nedo.go.jp/sekitan/database/country/c0026-1b.html

  2. Marie (History)

    I heard two things were in the works in Russia for the international enrichment center plan and the joint ventures (like the one with Kazakhstan). One thing was that Russian law had to be changed to allow for private ownership of a nuclear facility. The other thing was to create a new institute that would take the place of Rosatom to look over these facilities. Is this new law you are reporting on to allow for private ownership of nuclear facilities? I also heard the new Rosatom-like body would be private, but that the private owners will be mostly the Russian government.

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