US-Russian civilian nuclear deal enters force

Deal will allow nuclear energy joint ventures between Russian, US companies.

Moscow: A long-stalled civilian nuclear cooperation agreement between Russia and the United States entered into force on Tuesday in a milestone for the "reset" in relations between the former Cold War foes.

The so-called 123 Agreement came into force with an exchange of diplomatic notes between Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and US Ambassador to Russia John Beyrle in a ceremony in Moscow.

The agreement, signed in 2008 but shelved amid acrimony over Russia`s war with US ally Georgia, was revived by President Barack Obama as part of his campaign to improve ties and bolster trade and security cooperation with Moscow.

The agreement creates a legal framework for closer civilian atomic cooperation between the United States and Russia on civilian nuclear research, production and trade.

It permits the transfer -- subject to US licensing decisions -- of non-restricted technology, material and equipment including reactors and components for nuclear research and power production.

The deal will also allow nuclear energy joint ventures between Russian and US companies and could potentially give Russia the right to reprocess spent nuclear fuel that originated in the United States.

US officials say the agreement will help Washington and Moscow combat nuclear proliferation by fostering cooperation to provide other countries with nuclear energy without increasing the risk of bomb-making materials falling into the wrong hands.

The agreement was signed during the Bush administration, but the White House withdrew it from consideration by Congress after relations with Moscow soured during the August 2008 war between Russia and Georgia.

Resubmitted by Obama in May, it survived a review period in Congress last month despite opposition from some Republicans.

It comes into force amid expectations that Russian lawmakers will soon vote to ratify New START, a strategic nuclear arms limitation pact that is central to the "reset" and won approval in the US Senate last month.

Bureau Report

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