Armenia to join Russian international uranium enrichment center

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YEREVAN, November 29 (RIA Novosti) - Armenia's government has approved a plan to join an international uranium enrichment center in Russia, the government's press service said on Thursday.

The center, part of Moscow's non-proliferation initiative to create a network of enrichment centers under the UN nuclear watchdog's supervision, will be based at a chemical plant in Angarsk, Siberia. The center will also be responsible for the disposal of nuclear waste.

"At its Thursday meeting, the government of Armenia endorsed a proposal to join an agreement between the governments of Russia and Kazakhstan on the establishment of an International Uranium Enrichment Center," it said.

Russia had previously said it would grant any country in the world the use of the future center.

Russia and its ex-Soviet neighbor Kazakhstan, which holds 15% of the world's uranium reserves, signed an agreement in October 2006 to establish their first joint venture to enrich uranium, intended to begin in 2013.

Ukraine's Fuel and Energy Ministry said in June that the country intended to join the project in the near future.

Russian President Vladimir Putin first raised the idea of joint nuclear enrichment centers early last year, in a bid to defuse tension over Iran's controversial nuclear program. The president said the centers would give countries transparent access to civilian nuclear technology without provoking international fears that enriched uranium could be used for covert weapons programs.

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