These days, projects and agreements that were once flagships of US-Russia cooperation can suddenly give rise to bitter dispute. The most recent controversy involves a cooperative program that commits Russia and the United States to eliminating a significant part of their weapon-grade plutonium stocks. Experts knew there was potential for tension, but it still came as a surprise when Russian President Vladimir Putin, speaking at a meeting with journalists in April, launched a broadside against the United States, accusing it of not living up to its side of the deal. Not only is the United States not fulfilling its agreed obligations, he said, it is also trying to change the way it deals with plutonium in such a way that the material “can be retrieved, reprocessed and converted into weapons-grade plutonium again.” At that moment, it became clear that the future of the plutonium disposition program will be a serious irritant in the US-Russian relationship.
Bulletin of Atomic Scientists 28th April 2016 read more »