Putin sus­pends weapons-grade plu­to­nium deal with US

Jamaica Gleaner - - INTERNATIONAL NEWS -

MOSCOW (AP): RES­I­DENT VLADIMIR Putin yes­ter­day sus­pended a Rus­sia-United States deal on the dis­posal of weapons-grade plu­to­nium, a move that comes amid es­ca­lat­ing ten­sions over Syria be­tween Moscow and Washington. Putin’s de­cree re­leased by the Krem­lin cited Washington’s “un­friendly ac­tions” and the United States’ in­abil­ity to ful­fill its obli­ga­tions un­der the 2000 deal as rea­sons for the move. How­ever, the de­cree says that the weapon­s­grade plu­to­nium that has fallen un­der the agree­ment will be kept away from weapons pro­grammes. Un­der the agree­ment, which was ex­panded in 2006 and 2010, Rus­sia and the US each were to dis­pose of 34 met­ric tons of weapons-grade plu­to­nium, enough ma­te­rial for about 17,000 nu­clear war­heads. When it was signed, the deal was touted as an ex­am­ple of suc­cess­ful US-Rus­sian co­op­er­a­tion on nu­clear non-pro­lif­er­a­tion. Rus­sia said last year it had started up a plant that

Ppro­duces mixed-ox­ide com­mer­cial nu­clear re­ac­tor fuel known as MOX from weapons-grade plu­to­nium. Mean­while, the con­struc­tion of a sim­i­lar US plant in South Carolina has been years be­hind sched­ule and bil­lions of dol­lars over bud­get.

The US ad­min­is­tra­tion wants to can­cel the Sa­van­nah River Site’s MOX project and use an al­ter­na­tive method for dis­pos­ing of ex­cess plu­to­nium.

DONE ALL IT COULD

Putin pointed to the stalled plant ear­lier this year to ac­cuse the US of fail­ing to meet its end of the deal. He also ar­gued that the pol­icy change would give the US “re­turn po­ten­tial,” or a chance to re­cy­cle the ma­te­rial back into the weapons-grade plu­to­nium.

Com­ment­ing on Putin’s move, the Rus­sian For­eign Min­istry said yes­ter­day that the US has “done all it could to de­stroy the at­mos­phere en­cour­ag­ing co­op­er­a­tion”. It cited US sanc­tions against Rus­sia over the Ukrainian cri­sis and the de­ploy­ment of NATO forces near Rus­sian bor­ders as ex­am­ples.

“We would like to bring Washington back to un­der­stand­ing that it can’t in­tro­duce sanc­tions against us in ar­eas where it’s quite pain­less for the Amer­i­cans and at the same time con­tinue selec­tive co­op­er­a­tion in ar­eas it sees as ad­van­ta­geous,” it said.

A strain in US-Rus­sian ties es­ca­lated in re­cent weeks fol­lowed the col­lapse of a truce in Syria and the Syr­ian army’s mas­sive on­slaught in Aleppo un­der the cover of Rus­sian war­planes.

The Rus­sian For­eign Min­istry said Moscow would be ready to re­store the plu­to­nium agree­ment if the US takes Rus­sian con­cerns into ac­count.

Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin

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