Russian President Vladimir Putin (Photo by AFP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the suspension of a plutonium disposal agreement with the United States due to Washington’s “hostile actions” against his country.
The Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement (PDMA) was suspended for “a threat to strategic stability posed by the hostile actions of the US against Russia,” according to a document signed by Putin on Monday.
Among other reasons mentioned in the document are “the radical change in the environment, and the inability of the US to deliver on the obligation to dispose of excessive weapons plutonium under international treaties, as well as the need to take swift action to defend Russian security.”
Russia stressed that it would not use its fissile material for any military purpose.
Under the agreement that had been signed back in 2000, Moscow and Washington committed to dispose of over 34 tons of fissile material by turning it into so-called MOX fuel and burning it in nuclear reactors.
Putin had formerly expressed his dissatisfaction with the deal’s implementation, criticizing the US for failing to meet its commitments. He said the US was trying to preserve its ability to turn some of its plutonium stockpile back into a form usable for nuclear weapons.
“This is not what we agreed on. Now we will have to think about what to do about this and how to respond to this,” the president said in April.
The US, however, denied the allegations, arguing that it decided to mix nuclear materials with special additives, a process which it claimed to be cheaper.
For decades, the two countries had been producing plutonium, which in a less-pure state, is valued as fuel for power plants, but in its enriched form, the radioactive substance can be used as fuel for nuclear weapons.
The US had around 95 tons of plutonium, most of which was weapons grade, according to the most recent inventory by the US Energy Department. Russia had around 128 tons of weapons-grade plutonium.