U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Beyrle and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov today exchanged diplomatic notes to bring into force the Agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Russian Federation for Cooperation in the Field of Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy, referred to as the U.S.-Russia 123 Agreement.
The agreement offers significant benefits to the United States: a solid foundation for long-term U.S.-Russia civil nuclear cooperation; commercial opportunities for U.S. industry; and enhanced cooperation on important global nonproliferation goals.
The commitment to bringing the 123 Agreement into force was highlighted in the July 6, 2009 Joint Statement on Nuclear Cooperation issued by Presidents Obama and Medvedev. This agreement provides the basis for joint efforts on innovative nuclear energy systems and technologies, reliable nuclear fuel cycle services, joint ventures in third countries, and other types of cooperation.
The 123 Agreement is based on a mutual commitment to nuclear nonproliferation. Over the last 12 months, the United States and Russia have made significant accomplishments in this area, including:
The signing and U.S. Senate ratification of an historic New START Treaty that significantly reduces the number of strategic nuclear weapons both countries may deploy;
The signing of a protocol to amend the 2000 Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement, under which both countries will dispose of approximately 17,000 nuclear weapons-worth of excess weapon-grade plutonium; and,
The establishment of both a Russian international nuclear fuel bank and an IAEA fuel bank that provide incentives for other nations not to acquire sensitive uranium enrichment technology.
Russia has also shut down its last remaining weapon-grade plutonium production reactor. Taken together, these are significant accomplishments made by both sides.
The U.S.-Russia 123 Agreement satisfies all applicable requirements of U.S. law for agreements of this type with a nuclear-weapon state, as defined by the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. It has a term of 30 years and permits the transfer of technology, material, equipment (including reactors), and components for nuclear research and nuclear power production.
The entry into force of the U.S.-Russia 123 Agreement will advance key nonproliferation and commercial goals:
Nuclear Nonproliferation Cooperation: The 123 Agreement will create the conditions for improved cooperation on joint technology development to support arms control and nonproliferation activities. It will also provide the necessary legal framework for joint efforts to convert research reactors from highly-enriched uranium to low enriched uranium fuel. The 123 Agreement will aid cooperation on forensic analysis, allowing us to better identify nuclear material and prevent it from getting into the hands of terrorists, and it will set the stage for expanded joint technical cooperation on next generation international safeguards.
Civil Nuclear Energy Cooperation: The 123 Agreement will facilitate cooperative work on reactor designs that result in reduced proliferation risk. It will create the conditions for advanced research and development projects that partner U.S. national laboratories and industry with Russian partners to explore new areas for collaboration, including fuel fabrication, innovative fuel types, and advanced reactor design.
Commercial Opportunities: The 123 Agreement will support commercial interests by allowing U.S. and Russian firms to team up more easily in joint ventures and by permitting U.S. sales of nuclear material and equipment to Russia. This will put the United States and Russia’s nuclear relationship on a stronger commercial footing. Russian and U.S. firms will be able to develop advanced nuclear reactors, fuel-cycle approaches, and cutting-edge technology that are safe, secure, and reliable.
Civil Nuclear Energy Cooperation Action Plan: The 123 Agreement will allow long-term civil nuclear cooperation to proceed under the U.S.-Russian Presidential Commission Working Group on Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Security, specifically activities in the Civil Nuclear Energy Cooperation Action Plan which relate to reactor design, innovative nuclear energy technology options, and developing the global civil nuclear energy framework.