Comment by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the publication of the presidential executive order to suspend the Russia-US plutonium management and disposition agreement

Tuesday, 04 October 2016 12:18

The President of the Russian Federation has issued an executive order to suspend the performance of the Russia-US plutonium management and disposition agreement, signed in 2000, by the Russian Federation.

I would like to stress that this is a measure of last resort. We considered the agreement an important step towards nuclear disarmament. Unfortunately, the United States recently has taken several hostile steps with respect to Russia. Specifically, Washington introduced large-scale economic and other sanctions against Russia, citing unsubstantiated claims. NATO military infrastructure is expanding, with an increasing number of US troops in proximity to the Russian border. The United States and its allies openly and freely discuss transitioning to a policy of containing their relations with Russia. They even threaten terrorist attacks in Russian cities.

All these actions taken by Washington are leading to a major shift in strategic stability and are increasingly limiting possibilities for Russian-US cooperation on reducing nuclear arsenals.

Our decision is a signal to Washington that it cannot use the language of force, sanctions and ultimatums with Russia while continuing to selectively cooperate with our country only when it benefits the US.

From the perspective of international law, this step is the result of a fundamental change in circumstances compared to when the agreement was signed under the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.

There is one more aspect to the situation with the plutonium disposition agreement. The US started making unilateral changes to the agreed disposition strategy for its plutonium, citing the need to save time and resources. The strategy chosen by the US does not ensure irreversible elimination, allowing Washington to preserve its ability to reverse course. The US took this step when we had nearly finished building rather expensive equipment for plutonium disposition.

I would like to underscore that Russia is not withdrawing from its nuclear disarmament obligations, including reducing the amount of nuclear material used in arms programmes. Russia’s plutonium designated as no longer required for defence purposes will remain outside the arms industry.

We have only suspended our cooperation with the US in this area. If Washington adjusts its political course and fully eliminates the circumstances it created that adversely altered the political, military and economic balance in the world, we will be ready to resume the agreement.

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