Russia must allow inspections from the International Atomic Energy Agency if Tokyo is to cooperate with Moscow on nuclear energy, Japan's trade minister said Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters ahead of talks between visiting Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, Akira Amari said concluding any deal on nuclear energy with Russia would have to be "premised by IAEA inspections" of Russian facilities.
Amari's remarks come in the wake of recent media reports that say Tokyo is considering outsourcing the enrichment of uranium to Russia. Amari declined to comment on the reports, but said Abe and Fradkov were likely to discuss nuclear energy cooperation in their meeting set for Wednesday.
Fradkov arrived in Japan on Tuesday. He paid a courtesy call on Emperor Akihito and his wife Empress Michiko in the afternoon, the AP says.
On Monday, visiting Russian Industry and Energy Minister Viktor Khristenko told Foreign Minister Taro Aso that Russia has completed the first stretch of a proposed trans-Siberian oil pipeline that will feed energy-hungry Asian markets.
Ecologists have warned the route selected for the pipeline would endanger popular beaches, fishing grounds and rich marine life.
Environmental concerns have already forced changes in the pipeline project, which would move 1.6 million barrels per day and greatly boost Moscow's oil exports to markets in Japan, China and South Korea.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has refused to go to the 77th UN General Assembly in September