John Carlson, Director General of Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office, visited Russia from late May to early June to negotiate a new bilateral agreement that would allow Australia to supply uranium to Russian reactors.
The agreement now requires confirmation from the atomic agencies in both countries, Carlson said in a RIA Novosti interview. He said the new agreement would have to go through complicated formal processes in both countries. "The timetable for September is very tight but I believe we can do it," Carlson said.
In 1990, the two countries signed an agreement on processing Australian uranium on behalf of third countries in Russia, which did not allow Russia to use Australian uranium, Carlson said.
He said the Australian government had reviewed its nuclear policy and that it would have to work out several key details to decide what to do about enrichment in the future.
"It's too early to say whether we will or we will not participate in Russian center but I think our principle is to have enrichment in Australia in the future," Carlson said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier voiced an initiative to set up a network of international centers in Russia for nuclear fuel services, including enrichment, under IAEA monitoring and on the basis of non-discriminatory access.
Carlson said the issue of enrichment was a long way into the future because of several stumbling blocks, in particular the lack of enrichment technology in Australia.
Australia developed centrifuges in the 1960s but has not operated them for 20 years. "I don't believe it would be commercially viable to modernize it," Carlson said.