Russia may quit cooperative nuclear weapon destruction

Large reactor sections from nuclear powered submarines decommissioned with CTR funding are stored at a onshore facility in Saida bay on the coast of the Kola Peninsula. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

After 20 years of cooperation on nuclear safety, the days could be counted for the Nunn-Lugar program. The program, which the United States funds with some $500 million annually, has been a key source for scrapping of nuclear subs and withdrawal of nuclear weapons from Barents Russia.


It is Kommersant that last week reported about Russian authorities’ intention to quit the program when the current agreement runs out next year.

The cooperative threat reduction (CTR) program was initiated by the two former American Senators Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar shortly after the breakup of the USSR in the early 90ies.

Under the program, more than 30 strategic nuclear submarines from the Russian Northern Fleet have been decommissioned, either at the Nerpa yard on the Kola Peninsula or at the yards in Severodvinsk near Arkhangelsk.

Among the submarines scrapped with CTR funding are three of the Typhoon-class, several of the Delta-class and older Yankee-class submarines that earlier were based along the coast of the Kola Peninsula between Murmansk and the border to Norway.

Also, several projects to secure material that could be used to produce weapons of mass destruction have been carried out in Barents Russia as well as other places in Russia and the former Soviet Union.

When Moscow now hints that CTR might be shown the door, it is another serious set-back in US – Russian relations.

“The agreement is discriminatory for Russia and does not take into account those changes, which took place since its signing in the hard 90s for our country,” a diplomatic source in Russia’s Foreign Ministry told Kommersant, Itar-Tass reports.

Kommersant also hints that Moscow dislike the CTR program because during its implementation the US obtains too much sensitive military information about Russia’s nuclear stockpiles.

The CTR program was renewed in 1999 and 2006 and the US State Department says they intend to prolong it after it expires in May next year. If Moscow wants.

“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,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich told RIA-Novosti.