Saturday, April 09, 2016

Putin Calls on US to Observe Agreements for Weapons-grade Plutonium
April 07, 17:25 UTC+3

The United States has recently suggested eliminating the produced highly-enriched nuclear fuel by a different method than the one on agreed with Russia

ST. PETERSBURG, April 7 /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused the United States of non-compliance with agreements for disposing of weapons-grade plutonium.

"Early in the 2000s, we and the Americans agreed to get rid of weapons-grade plutonium, the excessive amounts of weapons-grade plutonium, so to speak, which both the US and our plants have accumulated. It is that highly-enriched fissionable material, which is used for making nuclear weapons - 34 tonnes on both sides," the Russian head of state said at the III Truth and Justice regional and local media forum on Thursday.

Putin says he was going to attend nuclear summit, but followed expert advice not to go
After signing the relevant agreement, the sides agreed that an industrial method should be used to get rid of that material.

"For that purpose, special enterprises should be built. Unlike our US partners, we have met our commitments and have built those plants," the Russian leader stressed adding it was necessary to think how to deal with this situation.

According to Putin, the United States has recently suggested eliminating the produced highly-enriched nuclear fuel by a different method - not by the one on which the Russian and American sides agreed when they were signing the agreement.

"It suggested blending nuclear fuel and then utilizing it in special storage tanks. It means that the United States wants to retain its breakout potential, which means a possibility of extracting and processing [the highly-enriched nuclear fuel] and turning it into weapons-grade plutonium again," Putin explained.

"This is not what we agreed on. Now we should think what to do about that and how to react," the Russian president warned.

"Apparently, it’s going to be another irritant, which will cause a relevant reaction and trigger a search for new offshores," Putin said.

"Our partners should understand that fun is fun: their efforts to promote information products directed against Russia is one thing but serious matters, especially those concerning nuclear weapons, is something totally different," Putin said.

"One should be able to meet the undertaken commitments," the Russian head of state stressed.


Vladimir Putin says MOX shutdown breaches U.S.-Russia deal

Mary Orndorff Troyan
The Greenville News
4:34 p.m. EDT April 8, 2016

WASHINGTON – Russian President Vladimir Putin says President Obama’s decision to abandon the plutonium recycling project in South Carolina violates their agreement on disposing nuclear material and is why Putin skipped an international summit in Washington last week.

After massive delays and cost overruns at the mixed oxide fuel fabrication facility (MOX) at Savannah River Site, the Obama administration abandoned the project and opted instead to dispose of excess weapons-grade plutonium in New Mexico.

“This is not what we agreed on,” Putin said Thursday in St. Petersburg, according to an English-language transcript provided by the Kremlin.

The U.S. and Russia agreed in 2000 that each country would dispose of 34 metric tons of plutonium, enough to make 17,000 nuclear weapons. The deal, updated in 2010, said the U.S. would recycle the material into fuel for nuclear power reactors, a process that was supposed to happen at the MOX plant in South Carolina.

But almost $5 billion later, the facility isn't complete and the U.S. Energy Department decided the government can't afford the estimated $800 million-$1 billion annual cost of operating MOX over several years. The administration decided this year to pursue a cheaper, faster alternative that involves diluting the material and disposing of it at a waste facility in New Mexico.

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said his agency is talking to Russia about the change.

But Putin’s comments indicate Moscow may not be willing to renegotiate the agreement at all. Putin questioned whether the dilute-and-dispose procedure would allow the U.S. to later retrieve the material and reprocess it back into weapons-grade plutonium.

“Now we will have to think about what to do about this and how to respond to this. By all indications, this will also be an irritant,” he said.

Putin did not attend the nuclear security summit hosted by Obama in Washington from March 31 to April 1. He said his first reason for not attending was because the structure of the summit would not have given Russia enough say in the drafting of international resolutions. He cited the MOX project as the second reason.

“We signed this agreement and settled on the procedures for the material’s destruction, agreed that this would be done on an industrial basis, which required the construction of special facilities,” Putin said. “Russia fulfilled its obligations in this regard and built these facilities, but our American partners did not.”

A State Department spokeswoman said Friday that officials have been in touch with Russia about the U.S. review of the various plutonium disposition methods since 2013.

"This agreement provides a path for the parties to consult and agree on disposition methods that do not involve irradiation in nuclear reactors," said spokewoman Jennifer Bavisotto. "Accommodating a new U.S. method would not require renegotiation of the agreement.  We will not speculate on Russian intentions behind the reported remarks."

South Carolina has sued over the decision to stop construction at the MOX plant.

Also Friday, South Carolina Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott raised concerns about Putin's comments in a letter to Moniz.

“We find it unfortunate that DOE’s short sighted efforts to kill MOX have allowed President Putin -- who is no friend of the United States and our foreign policy objectives --to claim the high ground about living up to international agreements,” the senators wrote.  “We fear this Administration’s recent words and actions on MOX have unnecessarily harmed our nation’s long-time leadership role when it comes to nuclear nonproliferation."

Contact Mary Troyan at

No comments: