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Russian MP: Suspension of plutonium deal with US will be Duma’s toughest decision

The lawmaker stressed that this is a very serious signal to the US that Russia’s patience is exhausted

MOSCOW, October 19. /TASS/. The adoption of the law on suspending the plutonium deal with the United States will be the toughest foreign policy decision of the State Duma over the past years, Russian MP Vyacheslav Nikonov said on Wednesday.

The Russian State Duma will hold a session later on Wednesday to discuss this draft law.

"This is the most difficult decision, this is not our choice, this is the toughest foreign policy decision that the State Duma is due to pass over the past years," said Nikonov, who heads the lower house’s education and science committee.

The lawmaker stressed that this is a very serious signal to the US that Russia’s strategic tolerance is exhausted.

The MP said the proposed suspending Russia’s participation in the agreement shows "a sharp deterioration of relations between Russia and the US and their very low level." The current ties with Washington are worse than during the Cold War era, he added.

"During the harshest years of the Cold War the US forces were not stationed in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. The US missile defense system and strike systems had never been sent to the European countries," he stressed.

Even during the most severe years of the Cold War there were no personal sanctions against the leaders of the Soviet state, Nikonov said.

The US has chosen the path of violating the agreement on the disposal of plutonium and this is only one link of this chain, he said.

Plutonium deal

Russian President Vladimir Putin submitted the draft law on suspending the agreement between Russia and the United States on plutonium disposal to the State Duma on October 3 after signing the relevant decree.

Apart from the direct provisions on suspending the plutonium deal, the draft law lists the conditions for the possible resumption of the accords. Among them is Washington’s cancellation of the Magnitsky Act, all anti-Russian sanctions, compensating for the damage sustained by Moscow and reducing US military infrastructure in NATO countries.

The agreement with the United States was signed on August 29, 2000. It envisaged ways of disposing of excessive weapons grade plutonium in Russia and the United States, including the production of mixed oxide fuel to be used in nuclear power reactors, conversion into non-weapons-grade form and also burial. It was expected that either side will start eliminating "declassified" amounts of plutonium in an amount of 34 tonnes. Russia converts weapons-grade plutonium into fuel for nuclear power plants.

Nikonov reminded that Washington said later that it could not build a plant to convert plutonium into this fuel. "The US said it would utilize its plutonium in a different way, by burying it in the earth what means the possibility of using the return potential of this plutonium, and this is the direct violation of the agreement," he said.