US, Russia to dispose of tonnes of weapon-grade plutonium

January 25th, 2012 - 7:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Jan 25 (IANS) The US and Russia will dispose 34 tonnes of excess weapon-grade plutonium each that is enough material for approximately 17,000 nuclear weapons, RIA Novosti quoted a US official as saying.

According to a US State Department official, the US and Russia are successfully implementing their nuclear disarmament agreements and are continuing to work on the next steps in this direction.

Addressing the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, Rose Gottemoeller, the assistant secretary of the Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, said that last year “the US-Russian Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement (PMDA) and its protocols came into force.”

“The PMDA commits the United States and the Russian Federation each to dispose of no less than 34 metric tonnes of excess weapon-grade plutonium — enough material in total for approximately 17,000 nuclear weapons,” she added.

The New START document, signed by the Russian and US presidents in 2010, cuts both countries’ strategic nuclear arsenals to a maximum of 1,550 warheads, down from the previous ceiling of 2,200.

“The New START treaty entered into force on February 5, 2011. Implementation is going well and continues to contribute positively to the US-Russian relationship,” she said.

“The treaty represents a strong foundation for further bilateral reductions and an important step on the path towards a world without nuclear weapons. Discussions between our two governments on the next steps are underway,” Gottemoeller said.

Last November, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned that Russia would deploy missiles and may opt out of the New START nuclear reductions agreement if Russia, the United States and NATO failed to find a way to work together on European missile defences.

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