Russia Undermining 20 Years of Nuclear Cooperation With U.S.


The U.S.'s relationship with Russia is about to get even more tense. The latter nation announced that it's going to curtail nuclear cooperation with America, backtracking on the last two decades of security work.

The New York Times sheds some light:

The message delivered by [Sergey Kirienko, the head of Russia's state nuclear company] is the first time that the rising tensions between the Kremlin and the Obama administration have threatened to disrupt some of the practical efforts that the two sides initiated at the end of the Cold War to help Russia safeguard its nuclear materials.

"There is a real danger that 20 years of U.S.-Russian cooperation to secure nuclear material will simply stop at the end of this year, and some of the gains we have made could slip away," said Matthew Bunn, a Harvard professor who, during the administration of Bill Clinton, supervised a classified government study on protecting nuclear materials in Russia.

A senior Obama administration official said the United States still planned to work with the Russians on nuclear security efforts in third countries and hoped to persuade the Russian government to continue cooperation in Russia. …

"Nuclear security in Russia has improved dramatically since the years immediately following the collapse of the Soviet Union," the Belfer Center at Harvard concluded in a March report. "Unfortunately, sophisticated conspiracies to steal valuable items continue to plague Russia."

Last week Russia announced that it would boycott the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit, which will be hosted by the Obama administration.

Russian relations with the West have become tense on another nuclear front. Nuclear-capable bomber drills over Europe without "active transponders—which would allow civilian air traffic controllers to see them. The situation could lead to a serious accident where an airliner might collide with a Russian bomber," explains The Daily Beast. Likewise, Russia just announced that it's going to conduct long-range bomber patrols over the Gulf of Mexico. Earlier this year, a Russian propaganda director announced that his country could "turn the U.S. into radioactive ashes" if it wanted.

Both President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry met with their Kremlin counterparts last weekend to try to find common ground on Russia's war in Ukraine. Little if any progress was made. Obama will have another unofficial meeting with Vladimir Putin this weekend at the Brisbane G20 summit.

Russian troops have been crossing Ukraine's border in larger numbers since last week, and Andrei Illarionov, Putin's former economic adviser who now works at the Cato Institute, predicts that Russia will launch a larger-scale invasion within two weeks.