The Angarsk Electrolysis Chemical Complex


The Angarsk Electrolysis Chemical complex (AEKhK)
consists of four major facilities: the Enrichment Plant, Uranium
Hexafluoride Conversion Plant, Instrumentation Plant, and Central
Laboratory, plus a repair and machine shop and a number of other
subdivisions, including a thermal power plant. Founded in 1954, the
AEKhK produces and enriches UF6 for nuclear fuel. On 21 October 1957,
308 gas diffusion machines were put into operation and started the
process of continuous uranium enrichment. The first lot of enriched
uranium was produced on 28 October 1957. In 1963, construction was
completed and the combine started operation in full. The prime
objective was to "expand the arsenal" of the Soviet military. During a
period of reconstruction from 1962-1985, new equipment was installed,
which increased the productivity of the gas diffusion plant two to
three times, and increased the productivity of the chemical plant by
almost five times. In the 1980s, the production of highly-enriched
uranium was stopped and AEKhK switched to uranium enrichment for the
nuclear power industry (enriched up to 5% U-235). Several sources
indicate that the Angarsk Combine, being a uranium enrichment facility,
has never been involved in the production of weapons-grade uranium.

In 1990, the combine began operating its first two gas centrifuges, and
in 1992 the last gas diffusion machine was stopped. NEI's World Nuclear
Industry Handbook 1995 lists AEKhK's annual conversion capacity as
18,700 MT of uranium. AEKhK produces LEU using centrifuge technology,
with an annual capacity of two million SWU. Trade relations with
foreign partners (established in the 1980s thanks to close cooperation
with the Department of nuclear-chemical production and Tekhsnabeksport)
expanded to new markets in the 1990s. Exports have been important in
promoting growth and stability at AEKhK. Overall, 50% of the Combine's
output is produced for export. AEKhK exports enriched uranium to the
United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Finland, France, China, the
Republic of Korea, and other countries.

At the G8 summit in St. Petersburg in July 2006, Sergey Kiriyenko, head
of the Federal Atomic Energy Agency, announced that Angarsk would
become the site of the first international uranium enrichment center.
The establishment of this center is part of the US-Russian led
initiative to ensure "non-discriminatory access" to nuclear energy for
countries without sensitive fuel cycle technology, as an incentive for
these countries not to build domestic capacities.


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