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    Russia wants to sign nuclear fuel contract with Ukraine in 2008

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    Russia plans to complete talks on a new contract for nuclear fuel supplies to Ukraine for 2010-2025 later this year, Russia's deputy nuclear chief said on Monday.

    MOSCOW, April 28 (RIA Novosti) - Russia plans to complete talks on a new contract for nuclear fuel supplies to Ukraine for 2010-2025 later this year, Russia's deputy nuclear chief said on Monday.

    Russia will supply all nuclear fuel for Ukrainian power plants until the end of 2010.

    "The current contracts expire in 2010. A new 15-year contract is being drafted," Nikolai Spassky told reporters, adding that the Rosatom nuclear corporation expects to complete talks with Ukraine later this year.

    He said the new contract should reflect market conditions.

    Ukraine, which relies almost entirely on Russia for its nuclear fuel imports, has stepped up efforts in recent years to diversify supplies amid rising prices and energy disputes with Russia.

    Ukraine's nuclear power utility Energoatom signed a contract in March with the U.S.-based Westinghouse Electric Company on fuel supplies for its nuclear power plants in 2011-2015. The U.S. fuel costs 25% more than Russia's.

    In 2005, Westinghouse supplied the Soviet-built South Ukraine plant with a set of fuel rod assemblies, which were used in the reactor core in conjunction with Russian fuel rods for a trial period.

    The strong level of energy dependence on Russia, which also has almost total control over Ukraine's natural gas supply, prompted President Viktor Yushchenko to announce plans in January 2006 to create domestic nuclear fuel production facilities.

    The decision was sparked by a fuel price hike by Russian corporation TVEL in late 2005, and a natural gas debt row with Russia's state gas giant Gazprom at New Year 2006, during which Russia turned the taps off to Ukraine.

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