Russia retaliates against US by shelving plutonium pact

In an unexpected move Monday morning prior to the U.S. suspending bi-lateral talks with Russia over the Syrian crisis, Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a written order freezing an August 2000 accord which sets guidelines to dispose of excess weapons-grade plutonium.

Mr. Putin said the action was taken in response to “unfriendly” acts by Washington.

The Russian president’s draft law stated his actions were necessary because the U.S. was “unable” to carry out its obligations under the treaty and the Kremlin was required to act in the name of its security.

“The Obama administration has done everything in its power to destroy the atmosphere of trust which could have encouraged cooperation,” read a statement from the Russian Foreign Ministry.

The 2000 pact, the Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement (PMDA), was designed to accomplish the safe disposal of up to 34 tons of surplus plutonium.  The treaty was updated in 2010.

Although the terse decree startled the White House, Mr. Putin’s order included language which indicated excess plutonium would not be used for military purposes.

Following the suspension of PMDA, the Kremlin outlined its conditions for a resumption of the nuclear agreement, noting the U.S. must roll back a string of crippling sanctions imposed on Russia over its involvement in Ukraine, remuneration for sanctions applied and trimming U.S. troop levels in eastern European NATO member states to pre-2000 levels.

Russia also demanded the U.S. nullify the Magnitsky Act, signed into law by President Obama in 2012 following the death of Russian auditor and attorney Sergei Magnitsky, who implicated Russian officials in widespread corruption.

The Magnitsky Act included a repeal of the Jackson–Vanik amendment to the Trade Act of 1974, which sought to normalize trade relations with the former Soviet Union and went on with the formation of the Russian Federation.

 

[Reuters] [kremlin.ru] [Photo courtesy Getty Images via International Business Times]