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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S., Russia in Talks On Nuclear Fuel Deal

The United States and Russia, the first two countries to develop atomic bombs, are in talks to coordinate global sales of nuclear fuel to discourage countries, including Iran, from enriching uranium that can be used in weapons.

The goal is to make nuclear fuel affordable to countries that need it to produce electricity, U.S. Deputy Energy Secretary Clay Sell said at a conference at the Carnegie Moscow Center on Wednesday. The talks "are one of the reasons for my visit" to Moscow this week, Sell said.

Rising prices for crude oil and other fossil fuels used to fire power plants are making countries, including China, India, South Africa and Middle Eastern states, initiate or expand their nuclear power programs. Nuclear energy could supply 25 percent more electricity than expected by 2030, the International Energy Agency said in November.

"We hope to group fuel supplier nations that will offer services on a very attractive commercial basis, maybe on discount terms," Sell said. The offer would separate nations with energy needs from those with military ambitions, he said.

Russia and the United States hope to form a group of nuclear fuel suppliers that includes France, Britain, Germany, Japan and China to coordinate in providing other states the service without the need for them to invest in such technology.

This would "hopefully take away the desire, not the right, for nations to enrich their own uranium," Sell said.

It would also net nuclear fuel suppliers billions of dollars in contracts and a degree of oversight to guarantee nonproliferation. Highly enriched uranium can be used for warheads.

Federal Atomic Energy Agency chief Sergei Kiriyenko will travel in May to Washington to discuss details of the nuclear fuel project.