A civilian nuclear agreement between Russia and the U.S. recently entered into force. Signed in 2008, the 123 Agreement was revived by U.S. President Barack Obama as part of the U.S.-Russia reset. In an e-mail interview, Richard Weitz, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and a World Politics Review senior editor, discussed the U.S.-Russia 123 Agreement.
WPR: What was the impetus for U.S.-Russia 123 Agreement?
Richard Weitz: Russian and U.S. officials wanted to improve their bilateral relationship, while their nuclear industries, two of the largest in the world, wanted to expand their commercial collaboration. Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin announced their intent to negotiate a U.S.-Russia Agreement for Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation on the sidelines of the July 2006 G-8 summit in St. Petersburg. Section 123 of the U.S. Atomic Energy Act requires the United States to negotiate a framework cooperation agreement (known as a "123 Agreement") with a foreign government before any exchange of U.S.-origin nuclear materials or technologies can occur. Since many nuclear reactors use U.S.-origin uranium or fuel that has been enriched in the United States, or other American-based technologies, these restrictions apply to many foreign nuclear programs.