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Russia May Quit Nunn-Lugar Program

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The US proposals on extending a decades-old bilateral program aimed at dismantling weapons of mass destruction are out of synch with Moscow’s concept of cooperation in that area, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.

The US proposals on extending a decades-old bilateral program aimed at dismantling weapons of mass destruction are out of synch with Moscow’s concept of cooperation in that area, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.

“We have received an American proposal on extending the 1992 Agreement, which is due to expire in June 2013,” ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said, referring to the Nunn-Lugar Agreement.

“Our American partners know that their proposal is at odds with our ideas about the forms and basis for building further cooperation in that area.”

“A more modern legal framework” is needed for such interaction, he added.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Russian daily Kommersant quoted sources in the US State Department as saying Russia is no longer interested in the Nunn-Lugar program - also known as the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program (CTR) - which dates back to the early 1990's and helped decommission scores of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

US officials told the paper that their Russian counterparts informed them during a recent meeting that Moscow no longer needs the financial assistance, emphasizing instead the importance of safeguarding state secrets.

The move is the latest in Moscow’s review of its relationship with Washington, and comes after Russia stopped the United States Agency for International Development from working in the country earlier this month.

It also follows comments last week by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that the “reset” policy between Russia and the United States “cannot last forever.”

The CTR program began in 1991, and was extended twice – in 1999 and 2006. The current terms expires in 2013. The United States has reportedly spent an estimated $8 billion on CTR programs.

The program included measures to increase safety at nuclear plants in the former Soviet Union and generating alternative work for former institutes and production facilities which had been involved in making weapons of mass destruction, the CTR website says.

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