MOSCOW, January 22 (Sputnik) – Cooperation between Russia and the United States will continue in providing nuclear security in 2015, Russia's nuclear conglomerate Rosatom said in an official statement Thursday.
Earlier, a number of news reports suggested that Russia had told the United States it would curtail bilateral nuclear safety cooperation.
Rosatom pointed out that the joint US-Russian nuclear safety programs were supervised by the Working group on nuclear energy and safety within the Russian-American Presidential Commission, but in March 2014, the US Department of State unilaterally suspended its work of which Rosatom has learned from a statement on the official website of the US foreign affairs authority.
In addition, "the formation of the plan of activities to be undertaken by US national laboratories and Russian nuclear industry enterprises under the Intergovernmental Agreement on scientific and technical cooperation in nuclear area signed in September 2013 in Vienna" was suspended by US initiative in May 2014.
"[Nuclear security] cannot and should not depend on situational changes on the political scene. We will be ready to renew cooperation when the American side is ready, obviously on a strict basis of equality that is mutually beneficial and with mutual respect," Rosatom's statement reads.
Rosatom also said in its release that Russia has to date repatriated fresh and irradiated HEU (highly enriched uranium) fuel from research reactors from 14 countries for downblending, which has eliminated the risk of the unauthorized use of such material, including the threat of them falling into the hands of terrorist organizations.
According to the nuclear conglomerate's statement, Russia has taken back 2136 kg [4,709 pounds] of HEU fuel since 2002, which would have been enough to produce about 85 nuclear weapons.
Rosatom emphasized that the project will continue further and Russia is planning to return highly enriched fresh and irradiated fuel from Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Poland in 2015.
Media reports indicated earlier this week that Russian and US representatives had met in Moscow in December 2014 to sign a three-page deal ending the countries' cooperation on securing Russia's enormous stockpile of weapons-grade uranium and plutonium from theft.
The decision to cease cooperation came after almost a year of souring US-Russia relations against the backdrop of the Ukrainian conflict. The split had a negative impact on a host of mutual partnership agreements across various spheres of cooperation.