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U.S., Russia Expand Civilian Nuclear Pact

WASHINGTON— The U.S. and Russia have signed a joint agreement to significantly expand cooperation on nuclear energy, research and security projects, building on a long-standing history of working on such areas together, energy leaders for the two countries said in statements this week.

"This agreement supports President Obama's nonproliferation and climate priorities by providing a venue for scientific collaboration and relationship-building between the U.S. and Russian research and technical communities," said U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, who signed the agreement Monday in Vienna, where he was attending an international atomic energy conference.

"Jointly, these communities will work to further develop advanced technologies that can address some of our most pressing nuclear energy and nuclear security challenges," he added in a statement.

Sergei Kiriyenko, general director of state atomic energy corporation Rosatom, also signed the deal in Vienna.

The agreement underscores the prospects of long-term interaction between the two countries in critical areas including "civilian nuclear power, design of nuclear power plants and new nuclear reactor fuels, nuclear science, the use of nuclear and radiation technologies in medicine and industry, and radioactive waste management," Rosatom said in a statement Tuesday.

"Special attention will still be paid to nuclear nonproliferation issues, nuclear and radiation safety," the Rosatom statement added.

The two countries said the "Agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Russian Federation on Cooperation in Nuclear- and Energy-Related Scientific Research and Development" supplies the legal foundation needed to expand a more basic agreement between the two countries that came into effect January 2011.

It further builds on the success of a 1992 pact known as the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Agreement, which expired in June and provided for secure transportation, storage and destruction of weapons and worked to prevent weapons proliferation, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

The agreement paves the way for the two countries to collaborate on such projects as a research reactor under development and scheduled to be opened in Dimitrovgrad in 2019, which will be used for the testing of nuclear fuel as well as fuel cycle research, according to Nuclear Street, an online provider of information on the nuclear power industry.

It also provides the structure for joint work on defending the planet from asteroids and established Russia and the U.S. as equal partners on such projects, with each country handling its own costs, said the DOE.

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