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article imageRussia to allow nuclear weapons program with U.S. to expire

By Ken Hanly     Oct 12, 2012 in Politics
Moscow - Russia will not ask that the Nunn-Lugar weapons reduction and security agreement be extended when it expires next May. The program helped move nuclear arms out of former Soviet Republics and also dismantle Russian weapons.
The rationale given by the Russians is that they do not need U.S. help any longer. They also expressed concerns that the program might provide important information about Russian security.
The program began by moving nuclear weapons out of former Soviet republics such as Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan. Lately, the program has helped finance the dismantling of old Russian weapons. Some Republicans in the U.S. have been critical of the program. They maintain that Russia may be diverting some of the funds to purchase more weapons. For once, U.S. Republicans and the Russians agree that the program should stop but for quite different reasons.
The cooperative program has been ongoing for 21 years.The program has achieved quite a bit during that time, including the deactivation of more than 7,600 nuclear warheads, destruction of over 900 intercontinental ballistic missiles as well as 33 submarines, and secured 24 nuclear weapons storage sites.
The Russians do not think the half billion provided by the U.S. annually is worth the unprecedented access it provides the U.S. to view secret facilities across Russia. The Russians also want to show their independence of foreign aid. The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying:“We have received an offer from the American side for the next renewal of the 1992 agreement. Our American partners know that their proposal is not consistent with our ideas about what forms and on what basis further cooperation should be built. To this end, in particular, we need another, more modern legal framework.”
Relations between the U.S. and Russia have been turning negative over the last while. Russia recently announced that it was expelling USAID. Russia is portraying domestic opponents as being agents of the U.S. While U.S. NGO's do often work for the interests of U.S. policy, many of the programs that will be hurt by the termination have legitimate criticisms of government policies. The Russian Deputy Foreign Minister said that there was absolutely no connection between termination of USAID and the ending of the weapons agreement. In the U.S., Mitt Romney has called Russia America's No. 1 geopolitical foe. Such statements are hardly conducive to improving relations.
The Republican cosponsor of the bill, Richard Lugar, was defeated by a conservative in the Indiana Senate primary. There is not likely much chance of the cooperation being revived it would seem, even though Democrat Sam Nunn continues to point out the accomplishments of the agreement.
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