U.S. State Department officials claim that Moscow is close to completing a sale of high enriched uranium (HEU) to Europe. That sale would undermine U.S. efforts over the last 20 years to eliminate the market for weapons grade uranium. Protests from Washington have apparently not dissuaded Russia’s atomic energy ministry and Euratom, the nuclear agency of the European Community, from pursuing the deal. U.S. officials are said to have little fear that the likely recipients of the sale, a handful of European academic and medical research centers, would illegally sell the material. Nonetheless, the officials believe non-proliferation efforts would be ill-served by any strengthening of the international market for HEU. To keep Russia’s surplus of enriched uranium off the market, the U.S. has already agreed to purchase 500 tons of the surplus for $12 billion. But Russia has a great deal more of the material, and Atomic Energy Minister Viktor Mikhailov has in the past acted independently to secure hard currency for Russia’s huge atomic energy complex. The European sale will reportedly be discussed later this month at a meeting of Russian prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and U.S. vice president Al Gore. (7)
Foreign Ministers Decline to Attend Pre-Summit Meeting.