WASHINGTON, Sept 5 (Reuters) - The Bush administration will withdraw a civilian nuclear pact with Russia soon as a penalty for its invasion of Georgia last month, a State Department official said on Friday.
"The administration will not be moving forward with the agreement. It will be pulling it back from Congress," said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
While the U.S. government has announced plans to give U.S. ally Georgia more than $1 billion in reconstruction aid, it has yet to hit Moscow with any tangible sanctions for its military incursion deep into Georgian territory last month.
But the Bush administration is preparing to scuttle the civilian nuclear deal, intended to lift Cold War restrictions on trade and open up the U.S. nuclear market and Russia's uranium fields to companies from both countries.
"We made very clear that Russia's behavior has to be condemned and there have to be consequences that flow from what it's done in Georgia," the State Department official said. "This will be an example of that."
He did not know the exact timing, but said "It's probably going to happen next week."
The nuclear cooperation agreement was signed by the two countries in May and sent by President George W. Bush to Congress, which can still disapprove of the pact. Bush or his successor, who takes office in January, could later decide to re-submit the deal to Congress.
Key U.S. lawmakers have said the accord is probably dead anyway in the wake of Russia's short war last month with Georgia over the breakaway enclave of South Ossetia.
Russia has left troops in Georgia despite the internationally negotiated ceasefire requiring them to pull back to positions held before the conflict started.
Moscow further angered the West by recognizing the "independence" of South Ossetia and another pro-Russian separatist enclave, Abkhazia.
"We want to work with Russia on a wide range of issues," the State Department official said.
"But Russia has to show that it's interested in working with the international community. And the fact that there is a ceasefire agreement that they are not adhering to is troubling to all of us. ... That's why our relationship right now is being reviewed across the board."
The nuclear pact would have gone into force if Congress did not pass a joint resolution of disapproval or adjourned for the year before lawmakers had 90 legislative days to review it.
Some lawmakers were already troubled by the nuclear pact even before Russia and Georgia went to war last month. They said they did not trust Russia enough to expand nuclear cooperation because it supplied fuel to Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant. Washington believes Iran harbors ambitions to build a nuclear bomb.
The Bush administration had argued the pact would clear the way for Washington and U.S. companies to cooperate with Russia in setting up an international nuclear fuel bank that would supply countries like Iran, in a bid to discourage them from developing their own nuclear fuel cycle facilities.
Report threads that break rules, are offensive, or contain fighting. Staff may not be aware of the forum abuse, and cannot do anything about it unless you tell us about it. click to report forum abuse »
If one of the comments is offensive, please report the comment instead (there is a link in each comment to report it).