Ukrainian nuclear power plant operator Energoatom has delayed signing nuclear fuel deals with Russian state-controlled nuclear fuel producer TVEL, a Ukrainian newspaper reported on Tuesday, RIA Novosti reported.

Energoatom and TVEL were expected to sign a contract on the supply of fresh nuclear fuel to Ukraine after 2010 and a memorandum on the construction of a plant to produce fuel for Ukrainian nuclear power plants on July 15, 2009, Delo reported, citing a source close to the negotiation process.

Energoatom has declined to comment so far, the paper said.

Ukraine operates four nuclear power plants, which generated over 90,000 GWh in 2008. The country mines uranium, but has no industrial capacity for its enrichment. All of Ukraine's nuclear fuel is imported from Russia under an agreement that expires in 2010.

Ukraine has also started cooperation with U.S.-based Westinghouse. The company currently supplies fuel to the South Ukraine nuclear power plant, whose reactors were designed to operate on Russian fuel. The Ukrainian leadership does not rule out further cooperation with the U.S. supplier, the paper said.

At the same time, if Energoatom signs a deal with Russia's TVEL on nuclear fuel supplies until 2026, the expediency of continuing cooperation with Westinghouse will be questioned, the paper says.

Delo cited Olga Kosharnaya, a leading researcher of the Institute of National Security Issues at the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council as saying that the Ukrainian-Russian talks were being delayed over TVEL's attempt to consolidate entire nuclear fuel cooperation with Ukraine into a single package of long-term contracts slated for signing, the paper said.

Apart from the construction of a plant for nuclear fuel production in Ukraine, other issues include uranium enrichment in Russia and the construction of new reactors for Ukrainian nuclear power plants, the paper said.


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