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Russia, China Seal Power Agreements

Russia signed deals Tuesday to help China develop another uranium enrichment facility and to build two more nuclear reactors for a power station on China's eastern coast, nuclear officials said. 

State nuclear firm Tenex said it signed a deal to help China build a fourth gas centrifuge enrichment facility to produce low-enriched uranium suitable for use in civilian power stations. 

The Federal Atomic Energy Agency said its building contractor, Atomstroiexport, also signed a deal to build two more reactors at the Tianwan plant in Jiangsu province, where Russia finished building two reactors this year. 

"The Tianwan atomic station has become a glittering example of mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Russia in the sphere of nuclear energy," Atomstroiexport said in a statement. 

President Vladimir Putin, who rules the world's second-biggest oil exporter, says relations with China are at a historic high, and Chinese President Hu Jintao describes Putin as his "good friend." 

The agreement for the nuclear reactors at Tianwan is preliminary and does not set a time frame or price for the reactors, but it is potentially worth several billion dollars. 

Each Russian nuclear reactor is worth about $2 billion and takes about five years to build, but China could get a discount because Russia has already built two reactors there. 

The first 1-gigawatt reactor began commercial operation in May and the second in July. 

Russia also signed an agreement to set up another gas centrifuge enrichment facility with an annual capacity of 500,000 separative work units, or SWU, a Tenex spokesman said. 

An SWU is a unit of measurement of the effort needed to separate the U-235 and U-238 atoms in natural uranium in order to create a final product that is richer in U-235 atoms. 

Speaking at an economic forum of government and business representatives from the two countries Tuesday, Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov said Russia wanted to increase high-tech industry exports to China. 

Technology exports "constitute the narrowest area of Russian-Chinese cooperation," Zubkov said. The country's "share of Chinese markets can and must be bigger." 

Crude oil products accounted for 54 percent of $15.75 billion in Russian exports to China last year, according to the Economic Development and Trade Ministry. China is the fourth largest foreign trade partner after Germany, Netherlands and Italy.
Russia is seeking to move from relying on oil and gas sales to making high-tech industries the nation's primary economic driver by 2020. 

Agreements totaling almost $3 billion will be signed during the forum, Economic Development and Trade Minister Elvira Nabiullina said. She did not provide details.


(The Moscow Times 07.xi.07)

 
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