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Russia seeks aid for plutonium conversion

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Russia is seeking up to $2 billion in aid from the international community to convert plutonium from its nuclear weapons into fuel for atomic power plants, a top official said.

Last Friday Prime Minister Sergei Kiriyenko signed an agreement with U.S. Vice President Al Gore under which both nations pledged to convert plutonium from dismantled nuclear weapons.But in an interview on Wednesday, First Deputy Atomic Energy Minister Lev Ryabev said Russia could not afford to spend its own money to fulfill the agreement.

"If there is no help, we won't be able to convert the plutonium," he told Reuters.