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Just Say Nyet To More Putin Uranium

Garry Kasparov

Garry Kasparov, once the world's highest-rated chess player, and now nemesis of Vladimir Putin, is urging Australia not to sell uranium to Russia, stating "should Australian uranium end up in the wrong hands - and it's not too far-fetched to suggest that Russia under Putin is already in the wrong hands - Australia will not be able to act innocent or to claim ignorance."

The deal is set to be concluded in September when Putin visits Australia. Australia's Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer believes proliferation fears are unwarranted, stating "I don't think Russia would want to become a rogue state and break international law. It would lead to a collapse in their relations with Australia and probably with an awful lot more countries. I don't think there is any danger of that."

The fear, obviously, is that any such uranium would end up in Iran. Russia is helping Iran build its nuclear program, and had been enriching fuel for the Iranian regime.

Russia sure seems eager to pile up its already sizeable uranium enrichment capabilities:

Russia produces about six percent of the world's total uranium. The Uranium Institute estimates 1999 production figures at 2,000 metric tons (t) per year. As of June 2000, Russia's Ministry of Atomic Energy stated that uranium production stood at 2,500t per year.  In a September 1998 article, Bellona estimated production at 2,500t per year, with an additional 1,000t produced from enrichment tailings. According to the Uranium Institute, overall uranium production has decreased since 1993.  However, the All-Russian Institute for Chemical Technologies announced in late November 2000 that Russia plans to double uranium production to 4,000-4,500t annually by 2010. According to the IAEA 2001 "Red Book" Uranium 2001: Resources, Production and Demand, Russia produced approximately 2,987t U3O8 in 1998, 3,083t in 1999, 3,260t in 2000, and an estimated 3,437t U3O8 in 2001.
Domestic Consumption and Stockpiles
Russia exports 16,000t of uranium each year, and uses 8,000-8,500t to produce nuclear fuel. As of December 2000 it was estimated that Russian nuclear power stations used between 3,000t and 4,500t of uranium annually with an additional 2,200t committed to fuel Soviet-built reactors in the NIS and Eastern Europe.  Approximately 1,000t is used to produce submarine fuel.  
Russia relies heavily on its large uranium stockpile to make up the difference between the uranium it annually exports and uses domestically (24,000-24,500t) and the uranium it annually mines (2,000-2,500t). Russia's stockpiles are equivalent to 500,000t of low-enriched uranium (LEU). This figure takes into account 1,400t of highly enriched uranium (HEU) which is equivalent to 420,000t of LEU added to 80,000t of uranium that has been stockpiled over the years. 

Posted by Ken McCracken · 21 August 2007 06:57 AM


Unfortunately for Downer, Russia is already a rogue state and is breaking "international law". The establishment just doesn't want to see it that way, not that I blame them, but wishful thinking doesn't make it a reality either.

Posted by: Chris at August 22, 2007 01:19 PM

Exactly. It is ridiculous to think Russia will be a good steward of the uranium. Just take a look at what kind of gangster state Putin has created. Putin cares zero about "international law." If he did, among other things, he would cooperate even the tiniest bit in Scotland Yard's requests as part of their Litvinenko investigation.

Posted by: TheSmokingRoom at August 27, 2007 09:00 PM