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Ambassador's Statements

Remarks by Ambassador Beyrle at the U.S.-Russia 123 Agreement Diplomatic Note Exchange Ceremony

Moscow, Russia - As Prepared for Delivery - January 11, 2011
Two men shaking hands. (Photo Credit: State Department)

The U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Beyrle, left, and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, right, exchange notes in Moscow on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2011.

Last month, the U.S.-Russian civil nuclear cooperation agreement (also known as the 123 Agreement) completed its review period in the U.S. Congress. Today, by our exchange of diplomatic notes, the agreement will enter into force.

It has been a long road to get to this point, and it is thanks to the efforts of senior leaders in both of our countries that we are here today. I want to acknowledge the critical roles played by Under Secretary Burns, the U.S. Department of Energy Deputy Secretary Dan Poneman, and Rosatom General Director Kiriyenko in negotiating and signing this agreement. What an honor it is for me to be here today with Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov to officially bring it into force.

This is just one of the many accomplishments in the bilateral relationship during a year that, frankly, exceeded even my high expectations. The signing and ratification by the U.S. Congress of the New START Treaty, our close cooperation on Afghanistan, President Medvedev’s visit to Washington and California, our work together under the Bilateral Presidential Commission to enhance a broad spectrum of cooperation from non-proliferation to civil society, from smart grids to tiger conservation – these are only some of the highlights. The 123 Agreement is a particularly welcome addition, as it complements the scientific strengths of our two great nations.

The 123 Agreement represents a major step forward in U.S.-Russian civil nuclear cooperation. By allowing for the transfer of U.S. nuclear technology, material, and equipment to Russia, it opens up possibilities for greater levels of cooperation, including the joint development of new technologies. These new technologies will help us to combat the global threat of nuclear proliferation as well as to create new commercial opportunities for both U.S. and Russian companies in producing cleaner, safer, and more secure nuclear energy.

It is exciting to think how this agreement will enable two of the world’s leading nuclear powers to work together to find solutions to global problems. Our joint work can bring about real advances in how we use nuclear energy -- which can in turn help us to prevent nuclear proliferation, to combat global warming, and to meet global energy needs.

Some important examples of potential future joint projects include: the development of advanced reactor designs that result in reduced proliferation risk, as well as the creation of new fuel types and fuel cycle technologies that will lead to the cleaner and more efficient use of nuclear energy.

The 123 Agreement will also further U.S. –Russian cooperation to create an international framework for civilian nuclear energy -- developing arrangements to ensure global nuclear fuel supply and address challenges through the entire fuel cycle.

The 123 Agreement will enhance our ability to work together to strengthen the international safeguards system and to provide confidence in the peaceful nature of nuclear programs worldwide.

It will also provide the necessary legal framework for joint efforts to convert research reactors from highly-enriched uranium to low enriched uranium fuel, an important step in minimizing the use of HEU in civilian applications and furthering our mutual nonproliferation goals globally.

And the agreement will facilitate collaboration to improve forensic analysis, allowing us to better identify nuclear material and prevent it from getting into the hands of terrorists.

Nuclear energy will play an important role in helping the world meet the energy challenges of the 21st century. I am confident that by working together, our scientists can develop cleaner, safer, and more secure nuclear energy solutions.