Russia calls US freeze on civilian nuclear deal ‘mistake’

September 9th, 2008 - 9:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Moscow, Sep 9 (RIA Novosti) The Russian Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that a decision by the US to freeze a civil nuclear agreement with Russia was a politically motivated mistake. US President George Bush withdrew the deal from US Congress amid international condemnation of Russia’s actions in the recent Georgian crisis.

“We view the steps made by the US administration as a straightforward breach of its commitments, which harms our partnership relations and closes the route to mutually beneficial cooperation on many issues in the sphere of civilian nuclear power,” the statement said.

It said Washington’s attempts to impose its actions on other countries in their relations with Russia were “unacceptable,” adding that the withdrawal “will be interpreted as ‘punishment’ or ‘control’ with regard to Russia.”

The news was announced Monday by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice who said in a statement: “We make this decision with regret. Unfortunately, given the current environment, the time is not right for this agreement.”

The withdrawal comes as Russia announced it would be taking part in upcoming Venezuelan-Russian naval exercises in the Caribbean in late November.

The agreement would have opened up possibilities for widespread commercial nuclear trade, technology exchange, and joint nuclear research between Washington and Moscow. It would also have cleared the way for Russia to make headway with importing and storing spent nuclear fuel from US-supplied reactors - a highly profitable business.

Bush’s letter to Congress said that the deal could not go through at present in light of Russia’s actions that were “incompatible with peaceful relations with its sovereign and democratic neighbour Georgia.”

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