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Suspending plutonium-disposal pact with US possible through Vienna convention — diplomat

October 19, 2016, 13:45 UTC+3

According to the Vienna convention, the suspension is possible in case of a fundamental change of the situation, since the treaty itself does not envisage the possibility of suspension

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Russian Foreign Ministry

Russian Foreign Ministry

© Gennadiy Khamelyanin/TASS

MOSCOW, October 19. /TASS/. Russia has employed the Vienna Convention to suspend the plutonium-disposal treaty with the US as the agreement does not stipulate any suspension procedure, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said addressing the State Duma (lower house of parliament).

"In order to suspend the treaty, the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties can be employed, according to which the suspension is possible in case of a fundamental change of the situation, since the treaty itself does not envisage the possibility of suspension," he noted.

According to the diplomat, Moscow doesn't expect the US to comply with Russia’s demands in order to return to the agreement.

"We formulated a range of demands and their implementation can return Russia to fulfilling the agreement," Ryabkov said. "It’s clear that ... this is in the interests of resuming the plutonium agreement in the way that is beneficial to the US. Washington won’t accept this," the diplomat added.

"However, we used this situation to simplify for us the implementation of the national program of closure of the nuclear fuel cycle. But the priority is to raise concern to the US in a hard-lined form that their anti-Russian policy is absolutely unacceptable for us," he stressed.

Plutonium disposal in light water reactors requires technology US lacks

According to the official, weapons-grade plutonium disposal in light water reactors is an expensive procedure that requires special technologies, which the United States lacks.

"The Russia-US agreement on plutonium disposal and protocols to it "were initially prepared in an atmosphere differing from the situation developing by the time this document came into force," the Russian diplomat said.

"And the original task was to ensure the parity liquidation of excessive plutonium no longer slated as necessary for the purposes of defense by way of its incineration in nuclear reactors," Ryabkov said.

"It should be noted that from the outset the United States set a course for carrying out such disposal of weapons-grade plutonium in light water reactors," he said.

"Such technology is quite expensive and requires advanced technological solutions, which at that moment and as of now, and I want to state it absolutely responsibly, are available only in the Russian Federation and for one French company. The US does not possess such technology on its own, although it signed up for precisely this method of disposal," the Russian diplomat said.

Russian-US agreement on cooperation in civilian nuclear power

Ryabkov noted that the Russian-US framework agreement on cooperation in civilian nuclear power stayed in effect, but in reality Washington had curtailed cooperation in that field.

"The framework agreement on Russian-US cooperation in nuclear power stays effective by and large," he said. "It is a basic agreement. The specifics are described in separate documents."

Ryabkov recalled that the United States had suspended or terminated the agreement on scientific-technological cooperation in the nuclear sphere and the agreement on research into the possibility of converting research reactors from highly enriched uranium to low-enriched uranium.

"The basic agreement remains in force, but in fact cooperation along all specific lines in that field with the United States has been curtailed," Ryabkov said. "The Americans terminated it on far-fetched, political excuses. We are now in the process of adjusting the two above-mentioned agreements to the reality."

Painful steps

The oficial has also stressed that Moscow would be able to think up steps that would cause a painful effect on Washington should the United States continue along the road of building up sanctions.

"If the United States acts in defiance of common sense and rather painful previous experience to continue along the road of building up sanctions we will be able to take steps that will cause a rather painful effect," Ryabkov said.

Commenting on why the deal was frozen, Ryabkov noted that the decision had stemmed from "Washington’s ongoing hostile policy towards Russia that began long before the events in Ukraine and Crimea." By 2012, this policy had "been outlined in the form of well-known anti-Russian bills and the policy of sanctions."

"Afterwards, these sanctions have been extended under a contrived pretext," the deputy foreign minister said. "Now, the US sanctions cover 281 legal entities from the Russian Federation and 81officials from all branches of power, with high-ranking individuals among them."

Simultaneously, "efforts have been made to bring military infrastructure to the Russian borders, to create anti-Russian alliances, primary consisting of U.S.’ European allies," he said.

"Cumulatively, it has resulted in a fundamental change of circumstances which existed at the time the deal was sealed," he added.

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