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Defense / NATIONAL SECURITY

Russian President Backs Updated Plutonium Disposal Pact

June 7, 2011

This article originally appeared in Global Security Newswire, produced independently by National Journal Group under contract with the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a nonprofit, nonpartisan group whose mission is preventing the spread of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.

An update to a U.S.-Russian pact on eliminating stockpiled weapon-usable plutonium has received Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's approval, the official Rossiiskaya Gazeta newspaper reported on Tuesday.

The amended version of the 2000 Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement recommits the two countries to each disposing of at least 34 metric tons of excess plutonium—enough to fuel thousands of nuclear weapons—beginning in 2018. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton signed off on the deal in April 2010, RIA Novosti reported.

The United States is expected to provide $400 million in assistance for the disposal of surplus Russian plutonium. Moscow would set aside $3.5 billion for the effort, according to RIA Novosti; reports last year put the amount at $2.5 billion.

 

Meanwhile, U.S. and Russian laboratory heads and nuclear officials recently met for two days of talks in the United States, the National Nuclear Security Administration said.

The two-day session was the first of its kind since 2004 and included tours of the Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos, and Sandia national laboratories.

The event "provided an opportunity for U.S. and Russian laboratory directors, and representatives of [the Russian State Nuclear Energy Corp.] and NNSA to craft the next set of steps toward scientific and technical cooperation in areas that include nonproliferation, fundamental and applied research, energy and the environment and nuclear medicine," according to an NNSA press release.

Participants included NNSA Deputy Administrators Anne Harrington and Don Cook; the heads of the three U.S. laboratories; Rosatom First Deputy General Director Ivan Kaminskikh; and laboratory chiefs for sites including the Federal Research Center of Theoretical Physics and the Federal Research Center of Automatics.

“This meeting lays the foundation for future cooperation in the years to come,” Harrington said in the release. “It reflects tangible progress in meeting President Obama’s agenda and his vision for U.S. and Russian cooperation in key areas of nuclear non-proliferation, energy, and science collaboration.”

Thomas D'Agostino, NNSA administrator, is accompanying U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu on his visit this week to Russia.

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