• Kyodo

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Russia is looking to Japan as a potential business partner in its plan to reprocess spent nuclear fuel for other countries, Atomic Energy Minister Alexander Rumyantsev said Thursday.

He went on to deny that Moscow is planning to build an atomic waste disposal site near the islands off Hokkaido that Japan wants returned.

“We hope Japan would buy nuclear fuel from Russia. In that case, spent nuclear fuel could also be reprocessed in Russia,” Rumyantsev said in a meeting with reporters from Kyodo News and other foreign news organizations.

The Russian government plans to go into the nuclear fuel reprocessing business, which officials hope will earn $20 billion over 10 years, and is pushing for changes in relevant domestic laws.

Rumyantsev’s remarks suggest the Russian government may present formal proposals to Japan on the reprocessing plan once the Russian parliament approves the legislation.

Rumyantsev, who assumed office last month, also noted that Russia had wanted to make a bid to host the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor — an experimental nuclear fusion plan promoted by Japan, Russia and other developed countries — but lacked the financial resources to do so.

Canada is now a strong contender to host the ITER, the Russian minister said.

Rumyantsev denied reports that Russia was planning to build a nuclear waste disposal site on the Kurils — islands adjacent to the disputed Russian-held islands off northern Hokkaido.

“This is mistaken information” Rumyantsev said.

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