The Protocol signed today by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov marks a further major step in U.S. and Russian efforts to eliminate nuclear-weapon-grade materials, thereby making nuclear arms reductions irreversible and reducing nuclear dangers.
The Protocol amends and updates the U.S.-Russian Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement (PMDA) that was signed by Vice President Gore and Prime Minister Kasyanov in 2000. The PMDA commits each country to dispose of no less than 34 metric tons of excess weapon-grade plutonium and envisions disposition of more weapon-grade plutonium over time. The initial combined amount, 68 metric tons, represents enough material for approximately 17,000 nuclear weapons.
The Protocol reaffirms both countries’ commitment to nuclear disarmament and the goal of a world free of nuclear danger by ensuring that excess weapon-grade plutonium is never again used for nuclear weapons or any other military purpose; by ensuring it is disposed in a safe, secure, transparent and effective way; and by strengthening barriers against accumulating new separated weapon-grade plutonium.
The Protocol updates the PMDA’s agreed nonproliferation conditions and the monitoring and inspection framework as they apply to each side’s disposition program. The amended PMDA will ensure the transparency of disposition activities and will allow, as appropriate, for International Atomic Energy Agency verification.
Both countries aim to begin actual disposition by 2018, after the necessary facilities are completed and operating. The Protocol will enable new cooperation to go forward between the United States and the Russian Federation, as will be agreed by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Russian State Corporation for Atomic Energy (Rosatom).
This cooperative effort exemplifies the goals of the Washington Nuclear Security Summit, by enhancing nuclear security through monitored elimination of excess weapon-grade material, as well as the Parties’ obligations under Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.