Japan seeks nuke deal with Russia

Kyodo News

The government plans to send senior officials to Moscow for final-stage negotiations on concluding a bilateral civil nuclear cooperation agreement with Russia, government sources said Saturday.

The move, which could happen later this month, is part of efforts to settle the matter before Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin visits Japan, taking into consideration that Putin is placing importance on energy. No date has been set for the trip.

The plan expected to pave the way exporting a modern nuclear power plant to Russia. The Japanese government’s initial plan was to conclude the deal if Putin visited Japan by the end of 2008. But the visit was scratched by the global financial crisis, and the talks remain in limbo.

In past negotiations, Japan and Russia have clashed over involvement by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Japan is demanding the agency conduct a “strict examination” of Russia’s nuclear facilities to confirm the plant will be used for peaceful purposes. Russia showed reluctance by insisting the country is already a nuclear power, the sources said.

Since Japan will field its own candidate this fall to take over the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the government is expected to continue to press Russia to accept the demand so it can gain support from other countries in the election.