MOSCOW (Kyodo) Japan may entrust uranium enrichment to a Russian nuclear plant not inspected by the International Atomic Energy Agency, sources knowledgeable about Japan-Russia relations said Sunday.

Such a move would indicate Tokyo is turning a blind eye to the principle of a recently struck bilateral deal that stipulates Moscow must accept IAEA checks.

The purpose of the provision is to ensure that Japanese nuclear material is not taken advantage of for Russian military purposes.

Japan and Russia signed the nuclear corporation deal May 12 when Prime Minister Vladimir Putin visited Tokyo.

Japan plans to ship spent nuclear fuel for uranium enrichment to a plant in Seversk, a Siberian city which is currently closed due to its military status.

Tokyo is considering shipping the fuel on the basis of a special clause of the deal, the sources said. The two countries are to begin commercial negotiations by the end of the month over the deal, which is expected to be in place more than 10 years.

The special clause says Moscow can proceed with enrichment work at a nuclear plant without receiving actual inspections if it designate the plant as a qualified civil-use nuclear facility and reports to the IAEA that it is ready to receive international inspectors there.

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