Bush, Russia’s Putin Signal Cooperation on Nuclear Energy Aid

By Jim Fisher-Thompson
USINFO Staff Writer

Washington - Following an informal visit at the Bush family retreat in Kennebunkport, Maine, President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin signaled a new spirit of cooperation on the peaceful use and spread of nuclear energy with a proposal to help the international community generate nuclear power.

The Declaration on Nuclear Energy and Nonproliferation Joint Actions issued July 3 outlines a framework for the global sharing of nuclear expertise and technical assistance and follows extended U.S.-Russian talks on working with the international community to expand the safe use of nuclear energy. (See full text.)

The declaration states: "We share a common vision of growth in the use of nuclear energy, including in developing countries, to increase the supply of electricity [to] promote economic growth and development."

However, it continues, "this expansion of nuclear energy should be conducted in a way that strengthens the nuclear nonproliferation regime."

According to the declaration, the United States and Russia are prepared to assist in the expansion of safe nuclear energy through a number of initiatives, including:

• Providing more modern and "proliferation resistant" nuclear power reactors to foreign nations;

• Helping with financing construction of power plants;

• Assisting in developing the support infrastructure including safety and security programs;

• Developing solutions to managing spent fuel from the reactors and "over time" helping with technology to recycle the used fuel;

• Helping to set up regional electricity grids allowing neighboring states without nuclear plants to share power; and

• Providing nuclear fuel and assuring reliable access to nuclear fuel over the lifetime of the reactor.

Following the declaration's release, U.S. Special Envoy for Nuclear Nonproliferation Robert Joseph and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak briefed reporters at the State Department on the proposal.

Both officials described the declaration as "a win-win" situation that provides a useful framework not only for the safe use of nuclear energy worldwide but also contributes to U.S.-Russian arms reduction talks spurred by the scheduled 2009 expiration of the 1991 START II (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty).

Joseph said the U.S.-Russian initiative was "about providing an alternative path to energy development that becomes a win for energy security; a win for environmental security and a win for nonproliferation."

Acknowledging that "the expansion of nuclear energy is inevitable," Kislyak said it needed to be done using "a predictable, reliable framework for cooperation."

There are many nonproliferation measures being worked on worldwide, Kislyak said.  "But, what this [U.S.-Russian] format does is bring them together in a systematic way … that will benefit us all.

"This proposal … is about cooperation," Kislyak said, "If it is implemented, is a win-win situation for our two countries, for developing countries and for countries already embarked" on the path of nuclear power generation.

The full text of a joint statement by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov is available on the State Department Web site.