Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree Monday to suspend an agreement with the United States on disposing of weapons-grade plutonium, citing Washington’s “unfriendly actions”.
It also claimed the United States was unable “to ensure the implementation of its obligations to utilize surplus weapons-grade plutonium”.
The deal, initially signed in 2000 and renewed in 2010, called for both nuclear powers to dispose of weapons-grade plutonium from their defense programs.
Based on the 2010 agreement, signed by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and then U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, each side would dispose of 34 metric tons of plutonium by burning it in nuclear reactors.
Clinton said that was a quantity large enough to make almost 17,000 nuclear weapons.
Russia and the United States viewed that deal as a sign of increased cooperation between them toward nuclear non-proliferation.
But ties between Moscow and Washington plunged to the lowest point since the Cold War when Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and has supported pro-Moscow separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Washington has been instrumental in imposing Western economic sanctions on Russia for its role in the Ukraine crisis.