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U.S., Russia ask plutonium verification

U.S., Russia ask plutonium verification
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov sign the Plutonium Disposition Protocol during the Nuclear Security Summit, in Washington on April 13, 2010. UPI/Kevin Dietsch | License Photo

VIENNA, Sept. 20 (UPI) -- The U.S. and Russian governments called on the U.N. nuclear watchdog to verify the disposal of weapons-grade plutonium, the IAEA general director said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his U.S. counterpart Hillary Clinton asked the International Atomic Energy Agency to undertake "an important verification role" for weapons-grade plutonium no longer designated for defensive purposes.

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An amended agreement between the two Cold War adversaries was sent in a letter to IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano. The letter states that the verification request was intended to move toward the "goal of completing preparation of the necessary legally binding agreements in 2011."

The framework agreement between the two countries calls for a mechanism for the disposal of more than 34 tons of weapons-grade plutonium. Between both countries, the combined plutonium reserves designated in the agreement are enough for about 17,000 nuclear weapons.

The framework agreement was first announced in April. Both countries would begin actual disposal of the plutonium mentioned in the agreement by 2018.

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