WASHINGTON, March 26 (Xinhua) -- Nuclear energy cooperation between the United States and China has yielded tremendous benefits for both countries and can contribute to trust in the larger bilateral relationship, a U.S. nuclear energy expert told Xinhua.
The United States and China could further enhance cooperation on nuclear energy as there are vast commercial opportunities for both countries and the world, Daniel Lipman, vice president of Washington-based Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), said in an interview ahead of the Nuclear Security Summit to be held in Washington from March 31 to April 1.
Bilateral nuclear energy cooperation "requires a strong foundation of mutual respect and trust that shared technologies will be used only for peaceful purposes," Lipman said, adding that it is "not something the United States enters into lightly."
Through extensive person-to-person and institutional contacts, commercial nuclear trade can also share best practices on nuclear safety, security and nonproliferation, the expert said.
In 2015, a new agreement formalizing civil nuclear cooperation between China and the United States entered into force. The U.S. nuclear energy industry, led by the NEI, played an instrumental role in securing congressional approval for the new deal.
The agreement is "critical for American nuclear suppliers and U.S. foreign policy priorities," said an NEI report before the pact was approved. "Nuclear cooperation with China advances economic interests, safety culture and climate goals."
Besides nuclear energy cooperation, China and the United States also share an interest in nuclear non-proliferation.
Earlier this month, the two countries agreed to broaden an established program on combating illicit movements and smuggling of nuclear materials.
"In the past few decades, China has made huge strides in nonproliferation and the U.S. nuclear energy industry certainly hopes that China will continue this progress," Lipman said.
"From an industry perspective, we are counting on China's leadership in this area," he said, adding that U.S. laws and international norms permit nuclear commerce only on the basis of successful cooperation in nuclear security and nonproliferation.
China adopts a "rational, coordinated and balanced" approach to nuclear security. In January, the Chinese government issued a nuclear white paper, assuring the world that China has "the most advanced technology and most stringent standards" to ensure safe and efficient development of nuclear power.
"China's decision to develop nuclear energy looks wiser than ever," Lipman said, "In certain ways, China offers a model for other countries around the world."
By deploying advanced nuclear power plants safely, on schedule and on budget, China can demonstrate that expanding nuclear energy is a practical option, said Lipman.
"As China gains experience in developing and safely operating nuclear power plants at home, it will play a larger role in the global nuclear energy supply chain," he added.