Page last updated at 21:02 GMT, Monday, 10 July 2006 22:02 UK

US 'to make Russia nuclear offer'

Nuclear logo on a drum of waste
The US will reportedly offer to lift a ban on storing spent nuclear fuel

The US is expected to make significant concessions to Russia over the storage of nuclear fuel in order to win backing for foreign policy, reports say.

According to newspapers including the Washington Post, the US is keen to get Russia's support as it tackles concerns including Iran and North Korea.

President George W Bush is due to meet with Russia's President Vladimir Putin later this week at the G8 summit.

The reported offer signifies a shift in US-Russian relations, analysts say.

On Monday, the Wall Street Journal claimed that the US would have to make a number of concessions because it "needs Russia more than Russia needs the US".

According to the newspaper, as well as lifting a ban on storing spent nuclear fuel, the US was also offering to back Russia's membership of the World Trade Organisation and give Russian companies freer access to US markets.

Tight rein

Many observers are predicting that President Bush and Mr Putin will announce greater co-operation over nuclear issues at the upcoming G8 summit of industrialised nations later this week in St Petersburg.

Talks, which are expected to take months, will focus on giving Russia a larger chunk of the multi-billion dollar nuclear-waste disposal industry.

At present, the US controls the nuclear fuel it produces, and retains that control even if it has sold it to another nation such as South Korea or Taiwan.

That means that even when the nuclear fuel is used up and needs to be disposed of, client nations of the US cannot transfer it to Russia because of the US ban in place.

The US has stopped Russia from handling its nuclear fuel because of concerns about security and the way in which Moscow provided technology to other nations including Iran.

A main concern is that the nuclear waste could be used to provide radioactive material for weapons.

Analysts say that by lifting the ban the US will not only improve its relations with Russia, but also give it the ability to dispose of greater amounts of nuclear waste should it decide to boost its nuclear power generation programme.

According to the New York Times, the idea of nuclear co-operation had been ignored for a while, but was revived when Russia's top atomic energy official, Sergei Kiriyenko, visited Washington several weeks ago.

The paper quoted Robert Einhorn, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, as saying the US then realised that concessions could help bring Russia more on board with its efforts over Iran.

"They had reached the conclusion that entering the negotiations would provide continuing leverage," Mr Einhorn was reported to have said.

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