European Union member states on Tuesday called for a new treaty setting up cooperation on peaceful nuclear energy with Russia, tasking the bloc's executive with negotiating the deal, DPA reported.
The EU is keen to boost its use of nuclear power as part of the fight to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, and sees Russia as a key source of energy, technology and fuel.
"Russia is one of the main global suppliers of nuclear materials and equipment. It is also a key supplier of nuclear fuel and related nuclear-fuel-cycle services to nuclear power-plant operators in the EU," a statement released in Brussels said.
The statement was issued by the EU's executive, the European Commission, the body which is tasked with negotiating the deal.
EU states such as Britain, France and Germany all have their own nuclear industries, but their work has come under fire from environmental groups for years. Germany, for example, had planned to phase out its use of nuclear power over the next decade.
The bloc is now keen to revitalize its nuclear industry as part of a range of measures designed to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from its power stations.
According to commission figures, there are currently 146 operational nuclear power stations in the EU. Many of those, in the bloc's former-Communist states, were built using Soviet technology.
"Several EU member states are operating reactors of Russian design and further reactors are planned. Besides the importance of Russia as a nuclear supplier to the EU, nuclear safety, nuclear liability and non-proliferation are also important aspects of our bilateral relations," the statement said.
The EU is currently working on a wide-ranging partnership deal with Russia and recently signed an agreement to strengthen cooperation in the field of conventional energy.
Ironically, given the ecological sensitivity of the issue, the decision to call for talks on nuclear power was formalized by EU environment ministers at their year-end meeting in Brussels.