Russia proposes Slovakia join intl. uranium enrichment center-2

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Russia has proposed Slovakia join the international uranium enrichment center in Angarsk, East Siberia, the Russian prime minister said after talks with his Slovak counterpart in Bratislava Thursday.
(Adds details in paras 6-9)

BRATISLAVA, April 3 (RIA Novosti) - Russia has proposed Slovakia join the international uranium enrichment center in Angarsk, East Siberia, the Russian prime minister said after talks with his Slovak counterpart in Bratislava Thursday.

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

"We propose our Slovakian partners join the international uranium enrichment center that is being built by Russia," Viktor Zubkov said.

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.

The Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico said, in turn, that the two countries had also discussed re-exporting spent nuclear fuel to Russia.

He added that Russia would be involved in the completing the construction of two nuclear reactors at the Mochovce Nuclear Power Plant in southern Slovakia. The plant currently has two operating reactors, but work to build a further two stalled in 1992.

In 1980 Russia and Slovakia signed an intergovernmental agreement on building the NPP powered by four VVER-440 pressurized water reactors. Its first nuclear unit went into operation in October 1998, while the second - in March 2008. Italy's Enel currently holds a 66% stake in the power plant.

"We reiterate our readiness to cooperate in the construction of the third and fourth nuclear units at Mochovce," Fico announced.

An unnamed source in the Russian delegation said that Russia is also interested in decommissioning two outdated reactors at the Jaslovske Bohunice NPP in western Slovakia and modernizing other two.

During the meeting between the two prime ministers in the Slovakian capital an agreement was also reached to draft new treaties on oil and gas supplies before the current ones expire in 2015 and 2008, respectively.

"Both sides reaffirmed their political readiness to continue long-term oil and gas supplies to the Slovak Republic," Fico said.

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