Monday, September 8, 2008

U.S. Ambassador to Russia William Burns (L) drinks champagne with Sergei Kiriyenko, chief of Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom, after signing documents in Moscow May 6, 2008. Russia and the United States signed a long-awaited civilian nuclear cooperation pact  that will allow firms from the world's two biggest nuclear powers to significantly expand bilateral nuclear trade.

WASHINGTON: The Bush administration formally withdrew an agreement for civilian nuclear cooperation with Russia from congressional consideration on Monday.
"The president has notified Congress that he has today rescinded his prior determination regarding the U.S.-Russia agreement for peaceful nuclear cooperation," the State Department said in a prepared statement. "We make this decision with regret."
The step is the most meaningful show of displeasure the United States has yet made over Russia's military action in Georgia. But it stops short of the more aggressive measures that some have proposed.
The White House has stepped up economic aid to Georgia, but it has so far ruled out providing military assistance. Similarly, the White House has not sought to impose economic sanctions against Russia or to revoke its membership in the Group of Eight, despite the strong warnings tha American officials issued as the crisis was unfolding that Russia would face consequences for its actions.....The withdrawal of the pact, which was submitted to Congress in May, could cost Russia billions of dollars in potential earnings, but will also unravel a program that is central to President George W. Bush's hopes of safely spreading the use of civilian nuclear energy.
The agreement would have cleared the way for extensive commercial nuclear trade, technology transfers and joint nuclear research between the two countries. And it would have allowed Russia to move forward with the lucrative business of importing, storing and possibly reprocessing spent nuclear fuel from U.S.-supplied reactors around the world.
"The Russians have some very ambitious goals in developing their civilian nuclear reactor export industry," said Andrew Kuchins, director of the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, "and to get to some of the newer markets, they have to have the United States stamp of approval."....MORE....


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