MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia will not renew a decades-old agreement with Washington on dismantling nuclear and chemical weapons when it expires next year, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted as saying on Wednesday.
The death of the 1991 agreement, which had been renewed twice, is the latest in a series of hitches in relations between the United States and Russia and casts doubt on the future of the much-vaunted “reset” in relations between the Cold War-era foes.
“The basis of the program is an agreement of 1991 which, by virtue of the time when it was conceived, the way it was worked out and prepared, does not meet very high standards. The agreement doesn’t satisfy us, especially considering new realities,” Interfax quoted him as saying.
U.S. Senator Richard Lugar, a veteran disarmament campaigner, was in Moscow in August to push for the renewal of the program, known as the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program, which he helped launch.
The project, intended to dismantle nuclear and chemical weapons in the former Soviet Union, was last ratified by Russia in 2006 and is due to expire in 2013. Aides said it had resulted in the deactivation of more than 7,650 strategic warheads.
Ryabkov said that Russia now had the finances to carry out its own programs and that Moscow was interested in continuing partnerships in third countries.
During his trip to Moscow Lugar said he had brought up the idea of Moscow and Washington working together to reduce Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles, though he said response to the idea had been cool.
A number of bilateral agreements including the latest START nuclear arms treaty, put in force in February 2011, have built the foundation for the U.S.-Russia “restart” initiated by Washington when President Barack Obama took office in 2008.
That treaty lowers the ceilings on stocks of long-range weapons.
But recently ties have been strained, most notably by Moscow’s decision to close the office of the U.S. Agency for International Development in Moscow, which critics say is part of a broader Kremlin crackdown on pro-democracy groups.
Reporting By Thomas Grove; Editing by Michael Roddy