Russia and US strike nuclear deal

with the India-usa nuclear deal making little progress, Russia and the us signed an agreement for bilateral cooperation in the field of civilian nuclear energy to facilitate trade and joint ventures in other countries.

The deal, called the 123 agreement, was signed in Moscow on May 5. Under the agreement, Russia will provide nuclear technology to the us, which will supply reactors and the parts. It also paves the way for supply of nuclear fuel to other countries.

"This deal will hopefully make people opposed to the India- usa deal realize that it will not make us subservient to Americans. It is purely an energy deal with no weapons implications since Russia already has weapons,' Rajesh Rajagopalan, professor, Centre for International Politics, Organization and Disarmament, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, said.

There is concern, however, about managing the spent fuel, the left-over nuclear fuel from nuclear plants. It can be used for development of nuclear weapons, after reprocessing. Experts say the deal may give boost to global nuclear trade but security concerns need to be addressed. While the us law does not allow import and processing of spent fuel from other countries, Russia can import spent fuel from the us. In case of a deal with a third country, the us will supply nuclear fuel and Russia will take back the spent fuel, ensuring security, the deal says.

Some experts also see it as strategic move to capture the growing Asian market for nuclear energy while addressing proliferation concerns. There are more than 400 nuclear reactors in more than 30 countries at present. Most of the recently commissioned reactors are located in the Asian region.