Moscow Threatens to End U.S.-Backed Disarmament Program

Moscow VisionThe Foreign Ministry has said that it will not prolong the so-called Nunn-Lugar program in its current form.

Moscow is threatening to end a billion-dollar program with Washington to dismantle nuclear and chemical weapons in the former Soviet Union.

The Foreign Ministry said late Wednesday that it would not prolong the so-called Nunn-Lugar program, which expires next year, in its current form.

"[Our] American partners know that their offer is not in accordance with our ideas about the form and the basis of a future cooperation. For this, a different and more modern legal framework is needed," the Ministry said in a statement on its website.

Washington has said that it wants to extend the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program beyond its expiry in June 2013.

Better known after its initiators, U.S. Senators Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar, the program has since 1992 provided enhanced safety at Russian nuclear weapons sites, paid for the dismantling of nuclear submarines and the destruction of chemical weapons. So far, $5 billion has been spent on the program, according to the Foreign Ministry.

Lugar held talks with Foreign and Defense Ministry officials in Moscow in August. He said Wednesday that while the government did show "a desire to make changes" to the agreement, they had not told him that they wanted to end it.

"At no time did officials indicate that, at this stage of the negotiations, they were intent on ending it, only amending it," Lugar said in a statement on his website.

The move comes after Moscow has opted out of a series of international aid and development programs, culminating in the exit of USAID, the prime U.S. aid agency, from the country. The Foreign Ministry said at the time that Russia should no longer be seen as a recipient of aid but as a donor.

From the Web