Sunday, September 3, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Russia, USA sign agreement
Plan to destroy 68 tonnes of plutonium

MOSCOW, Sept 2 (Reuters) — Russia and the USA have formally signed an agreement to destroy a total of 68 tonnes of weapon-grade plutonium, the Russian Government said today.

A government statement said US Vice-President Al Gore signed the agreement in Washington on Friday and Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov signed it in Moscow on August 29.

The deal was agreed between Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Bill Clinton during their summit in Moscow in June.

The West has doubted the ability of post-Soviet Russia to properly control depots where weapon-grade plutonium is stored and has expressed fears that it could get into wrong hands.

US officials, alarmed by nuclear ambitions of some “rogue states”, have said it only takes 6 to 8 kg of the metal to make a powerful bomb.

“The agreement stipulates that the activities of Russia and the USA connected with the destruction of weapon-grade plutonium will be open for the international community and will be under the control of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA),” the government statement said.

Mr Putin and Mr Clinton are due to meet on the fringes of the UN millennium summit in New York next week.

The plutonium pact obliges each country to render the weapon-grade plutonium into a form unusable for nuclear weapons and to pledge never to use it for that purpose again.

According to US officials, the 34 tonnes to be destroyed by each country represents about one quarter of Russia’s military plutonium stockpile and about one thirds of that of the USA.

The programme will cost $ 5.7 billion to implement and take about 20 years to complete, officials said. The Russian programme is estimated to cost more than $ 1.7 billion and the US programme $ 4 billion.

Both countries must build new industrial-scale facilities to convert the plutonium into fuel for nuclear power plants. The USA will convert some plutonium into fuel and dispose of the rest geologically, while Russia will convert all 34 tonnes into fuel.

The funding for the Russian programme will come partly from the USA. The US Congress has already appropriated $ 200 million for the purpose and has pledged to seek more.

BEIJING (DPA): China on Saturday, meanwhile welcomed Mr Clinton’s announcement that he was leaving to his successor a decision on whether to build and deploy a controversial national missile defence system.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao said: “Maintenance of the global strategic stability and security is in the interest of all countries,” the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Without reference to China’s vehement opposition to the missile defence plans, the spokesman said: “We hope that the US Government will have more contact and discussions with other countries on the matter, so as to make a decision which could serve the interests of countries and peoples all over the world.”

China feared that a new anti-missile weapons system might upset the global balance of power and was concerned that it might be used to defend Taiwan.

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
120 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |