Washington: Expressing disappointment over Russia's decision to scrap bomb-grade plutonium deal with the US, the White House today said the move will further isolate Moscow in the international community.
"This is an announcement that we are disappointed by. The decision by the Russians to unilaterally withdraw from this commitment is disappointing," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said.
Earnest was responding to questions on the Russian announcement that it is withdrawing from the Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement (PMDA) which was an arrangement for reprocessing weapons-grade material into fuel for nuclear reactors.
"The reason for that (American disappointment), is that this agreement that went into force in 2011, pledged the disposal of thousands of nuclear weapons worth of plutonium," Earnest said.
"And, this was an agreement that was reached by the United States and Russia, because we're the two countries that have the largest amount of this material. And both leaders in Russia and the United States have made non-proliferation a priority," he added.
"Certainly the United States is interested in limiting proliferation and trying to reduce the risk associated with potential nuclear terrorism. And again, we know that Russia's leadership has recognized this risk. The United States has been steadfast since 2011, in implementing our side of the bargain. And we would like to see the Russians continue to do the same thing," he asserted.
Russian President Vladimir Putin today ordered a halt to the deal with the US on plutonium disposal, citing Washington's "unfriendly actions".
The deal, signed in 2000, was meant to allow both nuclear powers to dispose of weapons-grade plutonium from their defence programmes, a move seen as a key step in the disarmament process.
The two countries recommitted to the deal in 2010. Putin charged earlier this year that the US was not honouring the agreement by disposing of plutonium in a way that allowed it to retain its defence capabilities.
Earnest said the US is also disappointed with a host of Russian decisions on Syria and Ukraine, acknowledging that Washington's relationship with Moscow is "complicated".
"We've obviously been quite disappointed about a range of Russian decisions however both inside of Syria but also in Ukraine. Unfortunately, the announcement about the Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement is more in line with those kinds of decisions that have only deepened Russia's isolation in the international community," he said.
"The plutonium arrangement is one that does reflect the shared priorities of our two countries. And we are -- we're hopeful that the -- that the Russians will recognize that and follow through on the commitments that they've made," Earnest said.