On Russia’s Curtailing of Nuclear Cooperation With U.S.

It is clear that the exacerbation of the Syrian crisis has diminished Kremlin’s hopes that U.S. sanctions might be softened soon, so Putin is getting rid of agreements, which have irritated the national security establishment for a long time, while Obama is still in office. That way he can spite Obama for snubbing him while also not spoiling relations with the next administration any further which would have occurred if he had waited past the November elections in U.S. But while spiting Obama, at least one of the suspensions is actually doing Obama a favor. Congress would have more difficulty justifying its efforts to block the White House’s attempts to discontinue construction of the MOX facility.  I’d also note that  unlike the plutonium disposition deal, whose resumption Russia has conditioned on unrealistic demands, the suspension of nuclear energy R&D deal has no such conditions, so, chances, are that if U.S. have lifted some of the Ukraine sanctions, it could be revived. Also note the internal timing of the termination of the reactor deal and suspension of the R&D: both announced after Sergei Kirienko, who has been an advocate of cooperation with U.S., has left Rosatom for a top job in the Kremlin staff.  Kirienko clearly preferred to be not associated with implementation of the presidential and governmental decrees on suspension and termination of US-RF nuclear accords. See rough translation of the decrees and explanatory notes below.

 

  1. Termination of the Reactor Conversion Agreement.

 

  1. Government decree:

Government of the Russian Federation

Decree No 2071-r.

October 4, 2016.

 

On Termination of the Implementing Agreement between State Corporation for Atomic Energy Rosatom and the U.S. Department of Energy Regarding Cooperation in Concluding Feasibility Studies of the Conversion of Russian Research Reactors to Low-Enriched Uranium Fuel of December 7, 2010.

 

In accordance with Paragraph 6 Article 37 of Federal Law “On International Treaties of the Russian Federation,” the proposal for termination of the Implementing Agreement between State Corporation for Atomic Energy Rosatom and the U.S. Department of Energy Regarding Cooperation in Concluding Feasibility Studies of the Conversion of Russian Research Reactors to Low-Enriched Uranium Fuel of December 7, 2010, which has been put forward by Russian State Corporation for Atomic Energy Rosatom and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation upon being reviewed by the Ministry of Defense, Federal Security Service, and Foreign Intelligence Service, is accepted.

State Corporation for Atomic Energy Rosatom shall send a written notice on the decision that has been made to the American side.

 

Dmitry Medvedev.

Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation.

 

 

  1. Explanatory note:

 

On Termination of the Implementing Agreement between State Corporation for Atomic Energy Rosatom and the U.S. Department of Energy Regarding Cooperation in Concluding Feasibility Studies of the Conversion of Russian Research Reactors to Low-Enriched Uranium Fuel.

 

Government of the Russian Federation’s Decree No 2071-r of October 4, 2016.

 

In accordance with Federal Law “On International Treaties of the Russian Federation” a decision has been made to terminate the Agreement.

The Implementing Agreement between State Corporation for Atomic Energy Rosatom and the U.S. Department of Energy Regarding Cooperation in Concluding Feasibility Studies of the Conversion of Russian Research Reactors to Low-Enriched Uranium Fuel was signed in Moscow on December 7, 2010.

The Agreement provided for conducting feasibility studies of conversion of six Russian research reactors.
As of the February 2016 the agreement had been implemented as a whole with feasibility studies of conversion of the reactors completed. No signing of new contracts for conducting studies is planned. No meetings of the Russian-American working group, which has been set up to coordinate activities under the Agreement, have taken place since 2014.

Actions, which have been taken by U.S.A. in connection with the introduction of sanctions against Russia, directly affected areas of cooperation envisaged in the Agreement. In particular, the United States imposed restrictions on cooperation with Russia in the field of high technologies. In April 2014 State Corporation Rosatom received a letter from the U.S. Department of Energy’s bureau at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. Referring to instructions received from Washington, DC, that letter announced suspension of cooperation in the field of nuclear energy in connection with the events in Ukraine.
Further cooperation with U.S.A., which would stipulate access of U.S. citizens to Russian nuclear facilities, direct cooperation between Russian and American institutes, and exchange of information and documentation between them, is unfeasible under these circumstances.

Regular renewal of the U.S. sanctions against Russia, including suspension of Russian-American cooperation in the field of nuclear energy, requires adoption of countermeasures against the U.S. side.

Paragraph 3 of Article 4 of the Agreement permits termination of the Agreement by either party within 90 days after that party sends a written notice to the other party.

A decision has been made to terminate the Agreement in accordance with paragraph 6 of Article 37 of the Federal Law of June 15, 1995 №101-FZ “On International Treaties of the Russian Federation.”

 

 

  1. Suspension of the U.S.-R.F. Agreement on Cooperation in Nuclear- and Energy-Related Scientific Research and Development.

 

 

  1. Government decree:

Government of the Russian Federation

Decree No 2072-r.

October 4, 2016.

 

On suspension of the Agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Russian Federation on Cooperation in Nuclear- and Energy-Related Scientific Research and Development of September 16, 2013.

 

The Agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Russian Federation on Cooperation in Nuclear- and Energy-Related Scientific Research and Development of September 16, 2013 is suspended due to the imposition of limitations on cooperation with the Russian Federation by the United States of America in the nuclear energy sphere and in accordance with Paragraph 1 of Article 37 of Federal Law “On International Treaties of the Russian Federation.”

 

Direct the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia to send a written notice on suspension of the Agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Russian Federation on Cooperation in Nuclear- and Energy-Related Scientific Research and Development of September 16, 2013 to the American side.

 

Dmitry Medvedev.

Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation.

 

 

  1. Explanatory note.

 

On suspension of the Agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Russian Federation on Cooperation in Nuclear- and Energy-Related Scientific Research and Development.

 

Government of the Russian Federation’s Decree No 2072-r of October 4, 2016.

 

A decision has been made to suspend the Agreement in accordance with Federal Law “On International Treaties of the Russian Federation.”

The Agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Russian Federation on Cooperation in Nuclear- and Energy-Related Scientific Research and Development (further referred to as the Agreement) was signed in Vienna on September 16, 2013.

The Agreement defined the direction of the scientific and technical cooperation in use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, including nuclear safety; nuclear plant design; innovative reactor fuels; use of nuclear and radiation technologies in medicine and industry, management of radioactive waste.
The agreement has provided for joint work with U.S. experts, which would contribute to mutually beneficial cooperation in the field of nuclear energy and would save time and resources in the course of conducting fundamental and applied research in this area.

Actions, which have been taken by U.S.A. in connection with introduction of sanctions on Russia, have directly affected areas of cooperation envisaged in the Agreement. In April 2014 State Corporation Rosatom received a letter from the U.S. Department of Energy’s bureau at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. Referring to instructions received from Washington, DC, that letter announced suspension of cooperation in the field of nuclear energy in connection with the events in Ukraine.

Such a step by the U.S. side constitutes a fundamental breach of conditions of the Agreement, which aims to enhance cooperation between the parties in research and development in the nuclear and energy sectors and for establishment of a stable, reliable and predictable basis for such cooperation. As part of the line declared by the American side, bilateral meetings and events related to nuclear energy have been cancelled, which can be qualified as a violation of Paragraph 3 of Article IV and Paragraph 1 of Article X of the Agreement.
Regular renewal of the U.S. sanctions against Russia, including suspension of Russian-American cooperation in the field of nuclear energy, requires adoption of countermeasures against the U.S. side.
A decision has been made to suspend the Agreement in accordance with Paragraph 1 of Article 37 of the Federal Law of June 15, 1995 №101-FZ “On International Treaties of the Russian Federation.” Such an approach preserves the international legal framework for cooperation with the United States. The Russian Federation reserves the right to resume cooperation under the Agreement when such resumption can be justified in the general context of relations with U.S.A..

 

 

III.  Suspension of the Plutonium Deal

 

  1. Bill

              

 DRAFT LAW

 

On the Russian Federation’s Suspension of the Agreement between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of the United States of America Concerning the Management and Disposition of Plutonium Designated as No Longer Required for Defense Purposes and Related Cooperation as well Protocols to this Agreement.

 

Article 1.

Suspend Agreement between the Government of  the Russian Federation and the Government of the United States of America Concerning the Management and Disposition of Plutonium Designated  as No Longer Required for Defense Purposes and Related Cooperation (further referred to as the Agreement) , which was signed in Moscow on August 29, 2000 and in Washington, DC, on  September 1, 2000, and the protocols to this agreement, which were signed in Washington, DC on September 15, 2006 and April 13, 2010, (further referred to as the protocols to the Agreement) due to radical changes in circumstances; the threat to the strategic stability, which has emerged as a result of unfriendly actions by the United States of America toward the Russian Federation; and inability of the United States of America to fulfill the obligations to dispose of excessive plutonium, which it has assumed in accordance with the Agreement and the protocols to the Agreement.

 

 Article 2.

  1. The decision to resume the Agreement and protocols to the Agreement shall be the prerogative of the President of the Russian Federation.
  2. Resumption of the Agreement and protocols to the Agreement can occur after the United States of America eliminate the causes, which have led to the radical change in the circumstances that existed on the day the Agreement and protocols to the Agreement came into force. The following conditions must be observed.
    1. The military infrastructure and personnel strength of the United States of America, which have been deployed on the territory of countries that became members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) after September 1, 2000, must be reduced to the levels that existed on the day the Agreement and protocols to the Agreement came into force;
    2. The United States of America must abandon its unfriendly policy toward the Russian Federation by:
      1. Repelling the U.S. law, known as the Sergei Magnitsky Act, and the anti-Russian provisions of the Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014/
      2. Cancelling all the sanctions, which have been imposed by the United States of America on individual regions of the Russian Federation, Russian legal entities and individuals.
      3. Compensating for the damage, which the Russian Federation has incurred as a result of the sanctions described in sub-paragraph B, including the losses that the Russian Federation has incurred as a result of the counter-sanctions which the Russian Federation has had to impose on the United States of America.
    3. The United States of America must provide a precise plan for irreversible disposition of the plutonium, which falls under the jurisdiction of this agreement.

 

Article 3.

This federal law comes into force on the day it is officially published.

 

 

 

  1. Explanatory note to the draft law on suspension of the Russian-U.S. agreement on disposition of plutonium has been submitted to the State Duma.

 

Acting on the basis of paragraph “g” of Article 84 of the Constitution and in accordance with federal law “On international treaties of the Russian Federation,” the president has submitted draft law “On the Russian Federation’s Suspension of the Agreement between the Government of  the Russian Federation and the Government of the United States of America Concerning the Management and Disposition of Plutonium Designated  as No Longer Required for Defense Purposes and Related Cooperation as well Protocols to this Agreement” for consideration of the State Duma.

 

October 3, 2016.

4.15 pm.

The head of the state has appointed Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov to serve as the official representative of the President during consideration of the draft law on suspension of the Agreement between the Government of  the Russian Federation and the Government of the United States of America concerning management and disposition of plutonium designated  as no longer required for defense purposes and related cooperation, which was signed in Moscow on August 29, 2000 and in Washington, DC, on  September 1, 2000, and the protocols to this agreement, which were signed in Washington, DC on September 15, 2006 and April 13, 2010, by the chambers of the Federal Assembly.[1]

 

* * *

The explanatory note to draft federal law “On the Russian Federation’s Suspension of the Agreement between the Government of  the Russian Federation and the Government of the United States of America Concerning the Management and Disposition of Plutonium Designated  as No Longer Required for Defense Purposes and Related Cooperation as well Protocols to this Agreement.

The Agreement between the Government of  the Russian Federation and the Government of the United States of America Concerning the Management and Disposition of Plutonium Designated  as No Longer Required for Defense Purposes and Related Cooperation (further referred to as the Agreement), which was signed by the Russian Federation on August 29, 2000 and by the USA on  September 1, 2000,  provides for each side to dispose 34 tons of weapons-grade plutonium, which have been declared to be in excess of the sides’ defense programs.

A Protocol to the Agreement, regulating civil liability for damage, was signed on September 15, 2006.
A Protocol to the Agreement, which regulates the issues of financing, as well as documents the sides’ agreements on the method of disposition of plutonium, providing for all the plutonium that falls under the Agreement plutonium to be disposed of through irradiation in nuclear reactors, was signed on April 13, 2010.

The agreement and all the amendments introduced into it came into force on July 13, 2011 after having been ratified by the Russian Federation.

The United States has been recently making attempts to revise the strategy of disposition of plutonium, which was codified in the April 13, 2010 protocol, and change the disposal method. The U.S. side is planning to dispose of plutonium by burying it, rather than by irradiating it as established by the Protocols. Russian experts opposed this method even when the Agreement was being prepared because it would not make disposition irreversible.  The 2000 versions of the Agreement stipulated that most of the U.S. plutonium would be irradiated in reactors, and only a small quantity would be buried.  The method of burying plutonium was abandoned for good when the sides signed the April 13, 2010 protocol. That was part of the compromise which was reached in the course of preparation of that protocol.

It should be noted that the U.S. side has not inquired about the Russian Federation’s consent for a change in the method of disposition of plutonium.

The United States has taken a number of steps that led to a radical change in the situation in the sphere of strategic stability since the Agreement and the protocols came into force.

Using the crisis in Ukraine as a pretext, the United States has been building its military presence in Eastern Europe up, including the states, which were admitted into NATO after 2000, which was the year that the Agreement came into force. Year 2015 saw six new forward command and control points established in Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Estonia. Their main task is to ensure rapid transfer of large military contingents of NATO into Eastern Europe in case a decision to execute such deployment is made. Units of the U.S. armed forces have been deployed to the territory of the Baltic States, and the quantity of NATO aircraft, which are based on airfields of these states, has increased. In Ukraine U.S. instructors are training militants of the Right Sector, which is an organization that is banned in Russia.

In addition to taking actions aimed at changing the military-strategic balance, the United States are adopting measures designed to undermine the economy of the Russian Federation and violate the rights of Russian citizens. In particular, the so-called Magnitsky bill was adopted in the United States in 2012. By adopting this law Washington openly defended the economic crime in the Russian Federation. And in 2014 the law on support of freedom of Ukraine, which allows interference in the internal affairs of our country, was adopted. In addition, in 2014 the U.S. imposed sanctions against the Russian Federation, its individual territories, businesses and individuals.

Since the actions taken by the United States have led to a radical change in the circumstances that existed at the time the Agreement and the Protocols were signed, the suspension of the Agreement is a measure taken by the Russian Federation in response and, therefore, it doesn’t contradict the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties of 1969. This plutonium, which is covered by the provisions of the Agreement, will remain outside the sphere of nuclear weapons activities, which demonstrates Russia’s commitment to the course for nuclear arms limitation.

The draft federal law does not conflict either with the provisions of the Treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union of May 29 2014 or with other international treaties of which the Russian Federation is a signatory. Adoption of this law would not require additional federal spending.

 

 

[1] Russian parliament consists of the lower and more powerful chamber – State Duma, and of the upper chamber – Federation Council.

 

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