Medvedev approves Russian-U.S. plutonium disposal deal

Russian President Dmintry Medvedev has approved amendments to an agreement with the United States to dispose of excess weapon-grade plutonium, the Rossiiskaya Gazeta government daily said on Tuesday.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signed in April 2010 a protocol to amend the U.S.-Russian 2000 agreement on eliminating excess weapon-grade plutonium from defense programs.

Under the agreement, Russia and the United States will each dispose of 34 metric tons of excess plutonium, which is enough to create several thousand nuclear weapons. The program is to be launched before 2018.

Russia intends to spend up to $3.5 billion on its program, and the United States some $400 million.

The agreement is a continuation of Medvedev and U.S. President Barack Obama’s nuclear disarmament efforts launched in April 2010, when they signed the New START treaty replacing the expired START 1 agreement.

The document slashes the Russian and U.S. nuclear arsenals to a maximum of 1,550 nuclear warheads, down from the current ceiling of 2,200.

MOSCOW, June 7 (RIA Novosti)

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