March 09, 13:04
MOSCOW, October 10 (Itar-Tass) — The Kommersant daily reported that the Russian authorities do not intend to extend the effect of the Nunn-Lugar cooperative threat reduction program, under which since the early 1990s the United States funded the scrapping of excessive Russian nuclear weapons, disposed outdated strategic missiles and destroyed the stocks of chemical and biological weapons. Russia explains this decision by the fact that the country does not need any allocations any longer, but needs to curb the leaking of the classified information. Meanwhile, the experts warned that the abolishment of the Nunn-Lugar program will lead Russia to self-isolation and will increase the risks for the proliferation of mass destruction weapons.
Russia continues to revise many foundations of the relations with the US that were laid down in the 1990s, the newspaper noted. Following the notification of Washington about the halt of the activities of the US Agency of International Development in Russia Moscow threatens to wrap up the Nunn-Lugar program. The effect of this agreement signed in 1991 was extended twice – in 1999 and 2006. These agreements will expire in May 2013. The US would like to extend them, sources in the Pentagon and the US State Department told the Kommersant daily. The negotiations to this effect are on already for several months. This issue was high on the agenda of the recent visit to Russia of a delegation of the high-ranking officials from the US Congress, the State Department and the Pentagon headed by Senator Richard Lugar, who is one of the authors of the document. The US guests did not reach the goal of their visit. According to the newspaper, Moscow said to them that the country does not find it expedient to extend the agreement.
“The agreement is discriminatory for Russia and does not take into account those changes, which took place since its signing in the hard 90s for our country,” a diplomatic source in the Russian Foreign Ministry. Another argument in favour of the halt of the program is the concerns that during its implementation the US obtains too much defence-sensitive information about the mass destruction arsenal in Russia.
According to the experts, the Nunn-Lugar program played an important role in the prevention of the proliferation of mass destruction weapons and the brain drain from Russia and other former Soviet republics. “It was particularly helpful in those years of troubles, when the Russian budget provided a scarce funding of the programs to ensure basic nuclear security,” head of the PIR-centre Vladimir Orlov explained. The role of the Nunn-Lugar program reduced along with a larger Russian targeted financing for nuclear security, and now neither the Russian state authorities nor such agencies as the Defence Ministry and Rosatom, whose budgets this program permitted to improve, are interested in the program no longer.
The source in the Russian Foreign Ministry put it clearly that Russia does not oppose the cooperation with the US in this sphere, but insists on the concluding of a new agreement. “The agreement should be based on the principles of equal rights and mutual respect,” he pointed out.
The US is also ready to launch negotiations on a new agreement, which would be less discriminatory towards Moscow, a source in the US State Department said. The new agreement can provide the co-funding of the projects. However, he warned that there is already no time to draft a new document, before the effect of the previous agreement will expire.