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Obama revives Russia civilian nuclear pact

Barack Obama (L) Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Prague (08/04/10)
Mr Obama and Mr Medvedev have taken a number of steps on nuclear issues

US President Barack Obama has revived a civilian nuclear energy pact with Moscow, as US officials hail "progress" in relations between the nations.

Mr Obama resubmitted the pact to Congress, saying US-Russian co-operation over Iran justified the move.

The agreement, shelved in the wake of Russia's 2008 conflict with Georgia, would allow the transfer of technology and equipment, including reactors.

Mr Obama has vowed to "reset" the US relationship with Moscow.

A senior US administration official told the BBC there were "tangible and concrete benefits" to the US in resubmitting the pact, including "commercial opportunities" for US industry and laying foundations for long-term co-operation on non-proliferation objectives.

"As far as why timing could be ripe now, the US-Russia relationship has progressed and is at a point where co-operation on important issues, like our common dual track approach on Iran as articulated by President Medvedev himself, serves both our national interests," the official added.

Washington summit

As well as co-operating on Iran, Russia and the US have also this year agreed to replace the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty governing nuclear arsenals.

In his letter to Congress, Mr Obama said: "The level and scope of US-Russia co-operation on Iran are sufficient to justify resubmitting the proposed agreement to the Congress.

"I have determined that performance of the proposed agreement will promote, and will not constitute an unreasonable risk to, the common defence and security."

The pact had been signed in 2007 by George Bush and Vladimir Putin, who was Russian president at the time.

But the conflict in Georgia meant the deal was never put to a Senate vote.

Russia and the US have taken a number of steps on nuclear issues this year.

Last month they agreed a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, reducing each country's deployed nuclear arsenal to 1,550 weapons.

Also last month the nations agreed to dispose of tonnes of surplus weapons-grade plutonium under a deal signed at a nuclear summit in Washington.

The war between Georgia and Russia was sparked by fighting in Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia in August 2008.

Hundreds of people are thought to have died in the five-day conflict and thousands were displaced.



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