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Russia withdraws from US nuclear cooperation
2016-10-8

The Russian government has "suspended" a 2013 agreement with the USA on nuclear energy research and development and "terminated" another, signed in 2010, on cooperation in the conversion of Russian research reactors to low-enriched uranium fuel. The decisions were issued in separate documents signed by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and published on the government's website on 5 October.

The decisions follow Russian President Vladimir Putin's order earlier this week to suspend a 2000 agreement with the USA on the disposal of plutonium from their respective nuclear weapons programs.

The 2013 agreement defines areas of scientific and technical cooperation in using nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, including nuclear security, nuclear power station design, innovative kinds of reactor fuel, the use of nuclear and radiation technologies in medicine and industry, and handling radioactive waste, according to the Russian government statement. It also envisions implementation of joint projects with US specialists that would "further mutually beneficial cooperation in the nuclear energy sphere and help save time and resources in conducting fundamental and applied research in this sphere," it added.

The statement continued: "The actions taken by the United States related to the introduction of sanctions against Russia have directly affected the areas of cooperation under the Agreement. In April 2014, the Rosatom State Corporation received a letter from the US Department of Energy Bureau at the US Embassy in Moscow citing directives from Washington and announcing the suspension of nuclear energy cooperation in connection with the events in Ukraine.

"This step by the US is a substantial violation of the terms of the Agreement that is designed to expand cooperation in nuclear energy research and development and provide a stable, reliable and predictable foundation for this cooperation."

This "declaration of US policy" was followed by the cancellation of bilateral meetings and events related to nuclear energy, "which can qualify", the Russian government said, "as violation of the agreement".

A Russian law passed in June 1994 on international treaties permits suspension of the agreement, it added.

But the international legal framework of cooperation with the USA "will be preserved", it said. "Russia will preserve the possibility of resuming cooperation under the Agreement when that is justified by the general context of relations with the United States."

The agreement signed in December 2010 between Rosatom and the US Department of Energy "provided for the possibility of technical research into the conversion of six Russian research reactors", the government noted.

"As of February 2016 the Agreement had essentially been met, with work on research reactor conversion capabilities having been completed. The signing of new research contracts is not planned and there have been no meetings of the Russian-American working group set up to coordinate activities under the Agreement since 2014."

The USA's role in the introduction of sanctions against Russia, "directly affected" areas of cooperation envisaged in the agreement, according to the statement. "In particular, the United States imposed restrictions on cooperation with Russia in advanced technologies," it added.

In April 2014 Rosatom "received a letter from the Office of the US Department of Energy at the US Embassy in Moscow, in which, referring to instructions from Washington, reported the suspension of nuclear energy cooperation in connection with the events in Ukraine," it said.

"In these circumstances, further cooperation with the American side, meaning tolerance of American citizens at Russian nuclear facilities, direct cooperation between Russian and American institutions, and the exchange of information and documentation between them, is impractical," it said.

The agreement may be terminated by either party within 90 days after the other party provides written notice, it said.

According to a 5 October statement by Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding Russia's decision to terminate the 2010 "implementing agreement" between Rosatom and the DOE, the 2014 suspension by the USA of nuclear cooperation and "other hostile steps and statements", mean that Russia "can no longer trust Washington in a sphere as sensitive as the modernization and safety of Russian nuclear power plants".

It added: "If Russia makes the decision to convert particular research reactors to low-enriched nuclear fuel, we will conduct this work independently."

  
 
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