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Russia’s State Duma suspends plutonium agreement with US

The measure was approved almost unanimously

MOSCOW, October 19. /TASS/. Russia’s State Duma, the lower house of parliament, passed a law on Wednesday on suspending the Russian-US deal on the disposal of plutonium and the respected protocols.

The measure was approved almost unanimously: a total of 445 MPs voted in favor of suspending the agreement, and one abstained.

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.

"Considering that the actions taken by the United States have caused a radical change of the circumstances that existed at the time the Agreement and the protocols to it were concluded, the Agreement’s suspension is Russia’s counter-measure and does not contradict the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. At the same time, plutonium falling under the effect of the Agreement remains outside nuclear weapons-grade activity, which testifies to Russia’s commitment to limit nuclear armaments," the explanatory note says.

The bill’s developers also note that "the United States has been making attempts lately to revise the strategy of plutonium disposal prescribed in the protocol of April 13, 2010 and change the method of its disposal."

"At the same time, the US side plans to dispose of plutonium by way of its burial instead of its irradiation as is stipulated by the above protocol. Back at the stage of the agreement’s preparation, Russian specialists objected to such an approach because the irreversibility of the disposal is not ensured in this case," the accompanying documents say.

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.