The 1993 Agreement to Purchase Highly Enriched Uranium requires the United States to purchase 500 tonnes of highly enriched uranium (HEU) from Russian nuclear weapons for 20 years. Russia mixes IU with low-enriched uranium and ships it to the United States for use in commercial energy reactors. The end of the agreement will also have repercussions on the uranium market in the United States, where Russia can only supply about a quarter of the market under negotiated agreements to end a trade complaint. Under the HEU-LEU agreement, the United States has the right to monitor the hay glare process. In practice, this leads to quantitative monitoring of the circulation of uranium hexafluoride in three tubes: two tubes for EFT and stick inputs and one pipe for the flow of the URE produced. U.S. personnel also recorded U-235 enrichment in each of these pipes. Fuel for nuclear power plants generally has an enrichment of about 4-5 percent, which means it is LEU. In the global market, uranium enrichment for nuclear power plants is strictly limited to 5%.
A 90% enrichment is desirable for the use of weapons. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union and the United States multiplied this year. The Information Exchange Agreement provides for a 500-tonne reduction in Russian IU stocks by converting them into LEU, which could be used for nuclear fuel. Tenex and USEC signed an interim agreement in May 2000 that provided for a more flexible pricing mechanism and required USEC to purchase low-enriched uranium made commercially in Russia, but this agreement was not approved by the US or Russian governments. The latter provision was eventually abandoned at the request of the U.S. government and, in February 2002, USEC and Tenex signed an agreement to set market-based prices as the basis for the new contract. (See ACT, March 2002.) The agreement was a useful platform to highlight the possibility of using trade approaches in the implementation of disarmament initiatives. It has also provided the Russian and U.S. nuclear industries with valuable cooperation experience to facilitate further cooperation in commercial uranium enrichment services. The EUROPEAN UNION`s ON UT agreement was very different from the 1992 agreement on transport security, arms storage and destruction and the prevention of weapons proliferation, which was the legal framework of the Nunn-Lugar programme. Under the latter agreement, the United States was the donors and Russia was the recipient of financial and technical assistance to the United States, including funds made available to Russia to implement the reductions mentioned in START I. On the other hand, the European UNION`s ON IU agreement was essentially a trade agreement that was beneficial to both sides.
Under the new contract, USEC will pay Tenex a market-based price for mixed uranium. The amount actually paid will be an average of international market prices over the past three years, minus a discount, so that USEC can make a profit by reselling the equipment in the United States.