Russia suspends nuclear R&D pact with United States
Oct. 7, 2016
Even during the Cold War things were never this bad, U.S. officials say. On 5 October, the Russian government suspended an agreement with the United States on nuclear R&D cooperation and terminated another on retooling Russian research reactors to no longer run on weapons-grade uranium fuel. The suspensions are largely symbolic, but have nonetheless plunged relations between the world’s most formidable nuclear powers to a new low and driven a new wedge between nuclear science communities that had forged close ties in the wake of the Soviet Union’s collapse a quarter-century ago.
In announcing the suspension of the R&D agreement, the Russian government framed it as a “countermeasure” to U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia after its annexation of Crimea in March 2014 and support for rebels in eastern Ukraine. The collapse of Syrian peace talks and sharp U.S. criticism of Russia’s involvement in the bombing of Aleppo, Syria, appear to have precipitated Russia’s delayed retaliation, sources say. Russia also pulled out of another agreement with the United States on 3 October in which the two countries were working to eliminate 34 tons of plutonium stockpiled in both countries—enough for about 17,000 bombs.
“We were really sorry to see the Russians do this,” says an official with the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in Washington, D.C., who agreed to speak with Science on background. As the nations with the two biggest nuclear arsenals by far, “the United States and Russia have a special responsibility to work together,” adds Andrew Bieniawski, vice president for material security and minimization at the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., that promotes nonproliferation.
Russia’s suspension of the nuclear R&D agreement, signed in September 2013, “is particularly unfortunate,” says the NNSA official, who calls it “the first framework following the collapse of the Soviet Union in which the two sides came together as equals.” After the Soviet Union fell apart in 1991, U.S. assistance to Russia’s nuclear establishment was geared toward securing nuclear materials and redirecting weapons scientists to civilian projects. Russian President Vladimir Putin long chafed at the United States’s helping hand, however. As Russia’s economy strengthened during the 2000s, Putin bolstered the nation’s impoverished nuclear complex; Rosatom, DOE’s Russian counterpart, then pushed for a more equitable R&D relationship with the United States. The terms of the agreement were negotiated in 6 months—lightning fast, the official says. “This was envisioned as a new model,” Bieniawski says.
The agreement called for wide-ranging cooperation in advanced power reactors and nuclear fuels, nuclear nonproliferation and safety, nuclear fusion research, and remediation of radioactive sites. In the fall of 2013, scientists from the U.S. national labs and counterparts in Russia’s nuclear complex began identifying potential projects and thrashing out technical considerations. For instance, after the March 2011 disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan, one area that seemed ripe for cooperation was developing accident-resistant nuclear fuel cladding.
U.S. sanctions on Russia’s moves against Ukraine in early 2014 chilled the budding research teamwork, however. DOE officials were still open to working with Russia on nonproliferation and nuclear security, and floated ideas for projects in these areas. “The Russians made it very clear that nonproliferation cooperation was not their priority,” the NNSA official says. Russia was keen on nuclear energy R&D, but the United States shied away because it was concerned that Russia would “use cooperation on nuclear energy as a political tool.”
Russia suspends nuclear R&D cooperation with the United States, joint efforts to remove highly enriched uranium from Poland (pictured) and other countries appear to be staying on track.
Article can be read HERE.
(Follow Up Article)
Russia demands U.S. end sanctions, pay compensation if plutonium accord to be resumed: draft law
by Alexander Winning
Editing by Dmitry Solovyov
October 3, 2016
Russia wants the United States to cancel all sanctions and pay compensation for the damage they have caused if Moscow is to resume an agreement on the disposal of weapons-grade plutonium, according to a draft law submitted by President Vladimir Putin on Monday.
Russia also named as conditions for resuming the plutonium accord that Washington repeal its “Magnitsky Act” and that it reduce its military infrastructure and troops in countries that joined the NATO military alliance after Sept. 1, 2000, according to a copy of the draft law posted on the website of Russia’s lower house of parliament.
Putin earlier on Monday suspended the plutonium agreement because of what the Kremlin called “unfriendly” acts by Washington.
I don’t see at this point how Trump is any more a threat to world nuclear armament and proliferation than Obama and Clinton have been over the last eight years. Both of them have been pushing Russian buttons. Both continue to push the ‘Russian Cold War” scenario in the USA and in communications with the United Nations even though their own moves have essentially created much of the problem. Their actions have been contested by conservatives despite the efforts of Democrats and media to stifle the problems. More events like the State Department and their co-sponsors under Hillary Clinton selling off a percentage of our uranium assets to a company under Russian government ownership may not come to light for years in the history of this country.
So now we have Putin taking a firm step forward like any chess player to position his country in a stronger light on the global scene. Countries around the world have seen just how weak and how easily the US government can be made to tow their lines. Now like a starving pack of wolves they are nipping at the heels of this administration.
The only “legacy”Obama has after his reign of lawlessness is the proliferation of attacks, the take down of our country in the eyes of the world, the reintroduction of cold war actions, and the ramping up of racism. All done while he continues to ship in large quantities of his Muslim buddies to create fear, rewrite history, and eliminate our freedoms and values in order to destroy our country, our national security and our global interests.