Interfax/Kommersant: U.S. to stop financing nuclear safety efforts in Russia – paper

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MOSCOW. April 8 (Interfax) – Washington has announced it is halting financing of work on improving the security of Russian nuclear facilities, citing its disagreement with Moscow’s actions in regard to Ukraine, national daily Kommersant reported on Tuesday.

The U.S. has suspended all work on physical protection of nuclear facilities in Russia, National Nuclear Security Administration representative Anne Harrington said, adding that 40% to 70% of the necessary equipment has been installed at facilities, but the completion of this work will have to be postponed.

The paper said that the funds allocated by the U.S. were to be spent on the installation of the latest security systems at facilities that produce nuclear materials, and at enterprises that transport highly enriched uranium and plutonium to storage sites and deployment of security systems at facilities in Ozersk and Arzamas-16.

The paper also said that the projects that the U.S. is carrying out with Russia under the updated Nunn-Lugar program will be frozen and funding that had been allocated for them has already been cut from the Department of Energy project budget for 2015. Spending on the International Material Protection and Cooperation Program has been cut by 27%.

Kommersant recalled that the Americans have spent $1.6 billion on the program to increase security at Russian nuclear facilities since 1993. Modern alarm and security systems have been installed at 50 Navy facilities, 11 deployment sites of Russia’s strategic nuclear forces and at 175 civilian nuclear enterprises. Systems for controlling the security of nuclear facilities, containers for transporting warheads and fissile materials, security systems and other equipment have also been transferred to Russia.

Much of this work was done by specialists from the Pentagon and Department of Energy under the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program proposed by senators Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar. The overall budget for the program was $8.79 billion.

However, before long the number of joint projects was reduced at Russia’s request and U.S. inspectors’ access to nuclear facilities was restricted and work was halted at sites where warheads were stored, the paper said. A temporary bilateral framework agreement was signed.

The areas of cooperation that remained at the time included tracking, control and physical protection of nuclear materials; customs control; identification, recovery, storage, security and disposal of hazardous radioactive sources; processing of excess highly enriched uranium into low-enriched uranium; and dismantling, transportation, recovery of fuel and secure storage of nuclear submarines.

All of these projects were expected to be included in a new agreement that would be signed on the basis of the framework agreement.

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