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Russia and the United States have signed a trade deal allowing
Russia and the United States have signed a trade deal allowing Russia to boost enriched uranium exports to the U.S., Russian state nuclear agency Rosatom said Saturday.

Rosatom director Sergei Kiriyenko made a one-day working visit to the United States on Friday, meeting in Washington with U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman and Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez. He also met with chief executives of U.S. energy companies affiliated with Ad Hoc Utilities Group, an industrial group comprised of owners and operators of U.S. nuclear power plants.

"The deal is worth $5-6 billion over the next 10 years," said Kiriyenko, after signing the document together with Carlos Gutierrez.

The deal allows for sales of Russian enriched uranium directly to U.S. utilities. Previously, such direct transactions were not permitted.

Gutierrez said: "The agreement will encourage bilateral trade in Russian uranium products for peaceful purposes. It will also help to ensure that U.S. utilities have an adequate source of enriched uranium for U.S. utility consumers."

A Rosatom spokesman said with the new trade deal the volumes of direct deliveries of uranium enrichment services may total 20% of the market.

Under the deal, Russian uranium exports to the U.S. increase slowly over a 10-year period, beginning in 2011, when shipments would be allowed to reach 16,559 tons.

Last September, the United States Court of International Trade lifted discriminatory, anti-dumping restrictions on Russian low-enriched uranium (LEU) supplies, ordering, the U.S. Department of Commerce within 60 days to cancel a 112% duty on Russian low-enriched uranium used by some 50% of U.S. nuclear power plants.

Russia currently exports uranium to the U.S. duty free via the United States Enrichment Corporation (USEC), a special intermediary agent, under a conversion program called HEU-LEU.

The HEU-LEU contract, also known as the Megatons to Megawatts agreement, was signed in February 1993 and expires in 2013. It aims to convert 500 metric tons of high-enriched uranium (HEU), the equivalent of approximately 20,000 nuclear warheads, from dismantled Russian nuclear weapons into low-enriched uranium (LEU), which is then converted into nuclear fuel for use in U.S. commercial reactors.

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