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U.S., Russia Enact Civilian Nuclear Accord in Moscow

Nuclear Power PlantJan. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Russia and the U.S. enacted a civilian nuclear cooperation agreement that will allow the Cold War foes to collaborate on developing new atomic technology.

U.S. Ambassador John Beyrle and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov today in Moscow exchanged diplomatic notes for the accord to enter into force.

"The 123 agreement represents a major step forward in U.S.-Russian civil nuclear cooperation, enabling two of the world's leading nuclear powers to work together to find solutions to global problems," Beyrle said in a statement distributed to reporters.

President Barack Obama in May last year resubmitted to Congress the agreement with Russia that was withdrawn by his predecessor, George W. Bush, after Russia's 2008 war with Georgia. The accord passed through Congress last month.

The Obama administration has set out to "reset" relations with Russia, which chilled after the war with Georgia, a U.S. ally. Obama's revival of the nuclear cooperation agreement followed the signing with his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, of a nuclear arms reduction treaty, which was ratified by the U.S. Senate last month.

'New Chapter'

The cooperation agreement, signed by Bush in May 2008, brings the U.S. and Russia together to promote the safe sale of nuclear fuel to countries that want to develop civilian nuclear programs. It would facilitate the collection and reprocessing of spent fuel to prevent it from being used to make atomic weapons.

"A new chapter in our relations is opening, allowing us to work together in a promising, innovative and modern area, civilian nuclear energy," Ryabkov said. "I'm sure it will have a very positive impact on our cooperation in other fields."

Beyrle said the agreement will create "new possibilities for the joint development of new technologies that will help us to combat the global threat of nuclear proliferation, as well as to create new commercial opportunities for U.S. and Russian companies to produce cleaner, safer and more secure nuclear energy."

The document, known as a 123 Agreement because it falls under section 123 of the Atomic Energy Act, allows the U.S. to cooperate with other countries in civilian nuclear energy.

'Good Example'

Russia and the U.S. agreed on Dec. 6 to consider changing research reactors to run on low-enriched fuel as part of efforts to reduce the risk of nuclear proliferation worldwide.

Russia may start with six reactors at institutes to "show a good example at home," Sergei Kiriyenko, head of Rosatom Corp., Russia's state-owned nuclear power company, said after the signing of an accord with the U.S. Department of Energy.

The U.S. is working on the switch from using highly enriched fuel at research reactors, Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel Poneman said.

Rosatom said Jan. 8 on its website that the agreement would allow Russia and the U.S. to cooperate in developing uranium resources, building light reactors and improving nuclear safety.

Ryabkov said Iran's invitation for inspectors from Russia, the European Union and other powers to visit its nuclear sites was "received with interest" in Moscow.

"The Iranian side has shown a willingness for a certain dialogue," Ryabkov said. Russia hasn't decided if it will accept the offer and has questions for Iran regarding a possible inspection visit, he said.

Iran resumed nuclear talks last month in Geneva with the so-called P5+1 nations -- United Nations Security Council permanent members China, France, Russia, the U.K. and the U.S. plus Germany -- after more than a year. The second round will take place in Istanbul, though the parties haven't set a date. Iran is under international sanctions for refusing to scale back its nuclear work, which the U.S. and allies say may be cover for weapons development, a charge denied by Iranian leaders.

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Russia, Oil, Energy - Russia, Nuclear Issues, Missile Defense - U.S.-Russian Relations - Russia News - Russia - Johnson's Russia List

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