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Russia: Moscow To Take Georgian Nuclear Fuel

Moscow, 13 January 1997 (RFE/RL) - Russia's Minister for Atomic Energy, Viktor Mikhailov, says Moscow is prepared to accept a shipment of enriched uranium and spent nuclear fuel from Georgia by February or March of this year.

Mikhailov told a press conference in Moscow today that Russia will accept the materials only on the basis of a bilateral agreement, which he said was now being negotiated at what he called a "bureaucratic level." He said a shortage of resources had prevented Russia from taking the material last year.

Russia last year promised to take the material, which is currently being housed in a lightly-guarded nuclear institute outside the Georgian capital Tbilisi. In an effort to facilitate the removal of the uranium, the U.S. offered to pay Georgia $100,000 for the material and promised to advance Moscow $1 million to cover the cost of moving it. But shipment of the material has been delayed because of disputes over how to transport the material and where to store it.

Mikhailov told reporters today that the necessary security precautions would be taken to transport the material, the cost of which he estimated at $500,000. He did not provide further details.