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US-Russia Launch Strategic Post Cold War Security Dialogue

Weapons-grade plutonium.
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Sep 15, 2006
The United States and Russia signed an agreement Friday on converting tonnes of weapons-grade plutonium into material unsuitable for use by terrorists or rogue states seeking to make nuclear weapons, officials said. The agreement was announced as the two governments launched a "strategic dialogue" to address post-Cold War security challenges facing Moscow and Washington, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.

The State Department called the plutonium protocol "a key step to enable cooperation between the two countries" in the fight against proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

The deal with lead to conversion by the US and Russia of 34 tonnes each of weapon-grade plutonium "into forms unusable for weapons by terrorists or others", State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.

"The plutonium represents enough fissile material to make more than 16,000 nuclear weapons," he said.

"The signing of this protocol also has significant benefits for other cooperative programs between the United States and Russia," he said, adding that bilaeral discussions were continuing on an array of other non-proliferation and security issues.

The protocol was signed as senior officials from the two countries began a strategic security dialogue in Washington, McCormack said.

"The intent of this dialogue is to address a broad range of security challenges that both the United States and Russia face in the 21st century, and that are a source of mutual concern," McCormack said.

"This dialogue reflects the post-Cold War US-Russian relationship and the ability of the two countries to work together in areas of common interest," he said.

Topics to be addressed include the threat of terrorism involving weapons of mass destruction and confidence-building measures in missile defense and US-Russian nuclear force postures, he said.

The dialogue was being led by US Under-Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Robert Joseph and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak.

As part of stepped up bilateral security cooperation between the two former Cold War enemies, there was already a meeting here Thursday of the US-Russia Counterterrorism Working Group, created six years ago by then US president Clinton and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

A State Department official said the group has successfully cooperated on a broad range of counterterrorism issues in the past, including bioterrorism and exchange of terrorism threat information.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Washington (UPI) Sep 15, 2006
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