Argentina Said to Revise Nuclear Pact With China to Favor U.S.

  • President Macri says China willing to amend signed accords
  • U.S. uranium producers said to become providers for reactors

The Argentine government is asking China to revise a nuclear reactor accord signed by the previous administration as it seeks uranium providers from the U.S. ahead of resuming output, two people with knowledge of the situation said.

China is open to amending dam and nuclear energy contracts that it signed with the previous Argentine government administration, La Nacion reported Friday. The Buenos Aires-based newspaper report cited an interview with President Mauricio Macri after he met with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Washington, where a nuclear summit is being held.

Resuming uranium output, which was halted in 1997, is a pending issue for South America’s second-largest economy, said an Energy and Mining Ministry official, who asked not to be named as he isn’t a ministry spokesman. Argentina, which has three nuclear power reactors, is building a fourth unit and has plans for a fifth one using Chinese financing.

Argentina now imports uranium from countries such as Russia and Kazakhstan for its own use as well as to export it after enrichment to countries such as Brazil.

‘Included Mistakes’

The original accord needs to be revised because it “included mistakes” such as China having the exclusive right to find providers to supply uranium, the two people with knowledge said. Wording in the accord didn’t allow U.S. companies to participate.

At the same summit, an unidentified U.S. listed company signed a memorandum of understanding with UrAmerica Argentina SA, which owns an uranium mine in Argentina, according to the second person with knowledge of the situation, who asked not to be named as talks are private.

The MOU would be worth $150 million if a final deal is reached, the person said. The accord would include a technology transfer agreement in which the U.S. company would supply uranium and teach UrAmerica production methods, according to one of the people.

“The only thing I can say is UrAmerica will be able to produce uranium in Argentina in 2019,” Omar Adra, UrAmerica chief executive officer, said in a telephone interview from Washington. He declined to elaborate further.

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