Putin Suspends Plutonium Cleanup Agreement With US
Russian President Vladimir Putin has suspended a cooperative program that commits Russia and the United States to eliminating parts of their weapons-grade plutonium stocks.
A presidential decree made public today, Monday 3 October, says the implementation of the US-Russia Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreementmust be put on hold, “due to Washington’s unfriendly actions toward Russia.”
Putin had signed a decree suspending the 2010 agreement under which each side committed to destroy tonnes of weapons-grade material because Washington had not been implementing it and because of current tensions in relations.
According to the deal, the two countries committed themselves to turn parts of their weapons-grade plutonium stockpiles into fuel for nuclear power plants and other non-weapon forms.
An amending protocol to the agreement, which called on each side to dispose of 34 tons of plutonium, came into force in 2011.
The two countries own the world’s largest stockpiles of plutonium that can be used for nuclear weapons.
US-Russian ties have plunged to levels of acrimony unseen since the end of the Cold War following Russia’s military seizure of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in March 2014 and an ensuing war between Kiev’s forces and Russia-backed separatists that has killed more than 9,500 people.
Washington led a campaign to impose Western economic sanctions on Russia for its role in the Ukraine crisis.
Relations soured further last year when Russia deployed its warplanes to an air base in Syria to provide support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s troops fighting rebels.
The rift has widened in recent weeks, with Moscow accusing Washington of not delivering on its promise to separate units of moderate Syrian opposition from “terrorists”.