Russia won’t renew pact on nuclear weapons with U.S.


From David M. Herszenhorn, New York Times:  The Russian government said Wednesday that it would not renew a hugely successful 20-year partnership with the United States to safeguard and dismantle nuclear and chemical weapons in the former Soviet Union when the program expires next spring , a potentially grave setback in the already fraying relationship between the former cold war enemies.

The Kremlin’s refusal to renew the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program would put an end to a multibillion-dollar effort, financed largely by American taxpayers, that is widely credited with removing all nuclear weapons from the former Soviet republics of Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus; deactivating more than 7,600 strategic nuclear warheads; and eliminating huge stockpiles of nuclear missiles and chemical weapons, as well as launchers and other equipment and military sites that supported unconventional weapons.

“The American side knows that we would not want a new extension,” a deputy foreign minister, Sergey Ryabkov, told the news agency Interfax. “This is not news.”

In a statement on its Web site, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that the Obama administration had proposed renewing the arrangement but that Washington was well aware of Russia’s opposition. “American partners know that their proposal is not consistent with our ideas about what forms and on what basis further cooperation should be built,” the statement said.

Russian officials, meanwhile, noted that their country’s financial situation is far improved from the days after the collapse of the Soviet Union, raising the possibility that Russia would be willing to continue initiatives started under the Nunn-Lugar agreement, but with its own financing and supervision. The Foreign Ministry, in its statement, noted that Russia has increased its budget allocation “in the field of disarmament. . . .”

President Vladimir V. Putin, while expressing a willingness to cooperate on nonproliferation issues, has said that a more pressing priority is to address Russia’s opposition to United States plans for a missile defense system based in Europe. President Obama has shown little willingness to make any concessions, other than to offer repeated reassurance that the system is not intended for use against Russia. And the Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, seems even less likely to compromise on the missile defense issue.  (photo: passive voices)

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