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Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release September 1, 2000
                     VICE PRESIDENT AL GORE SIGNS

Washington, D.C. -- Vice President Gore signed today the United States-Russian Federation Agreement for irreversibly transforming excess weapons plutonium into forms unusable for weapons, announced by President Clinton and President Putin at the June 4 Moscow Summit. With this action and Prime Minister Kasyanov's signature, the Agreement shall be applied as of today's date. This accomplishment advances the critical task of reducing stockpiles of excess weapons plutonium and contributes to key U.S. arms control and non-proliferation objectives.

The Agreement requires that 68 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium, 34 tons for each Party, be disposed. This is enough plutonium for thousands of nuclear weapons. It will be disposed by irradiating it as fuel in reactors or by immobilizing it with high-level radioactive waste, rendering it suitable for geologic disposal. Implementation will require the construction of new industrial-scale facilities to convert and fabricate this plutonium into fuel in both countries, and to immobilize a portion of the U.S. material. The Agreement sets 2007 as the target date to begin operating such facilities with a minimum disposition goal of 2 metric tons per year and an obligation to seek to at least double that rate.

The Agreement establishes the goals, timelines, and conditions for ensuring that this plutonium can never again be used for weapons or any other military purposes. Both the process and the end products will be subject to monitoring and, thus, transparent. The Agreement bans reprocessing of any of this plutonium prior to the disposition of all 34 metric tons. Any reprocessing thereafter must be under mutually-agreed, effective monitoring measures. Plutonium immobilized under the program must never be separated from the immobilized forms. The Agreement allows plutonium that may be designated as excess to defense needs in the future to come under the same program.

As the Presidents' Joint Statement noted, the Agreement will enable new cooperation to go forward between the United States and the Russian Federation. Thanks to the leadership of Senator Domenici and others in the U.S. Congress, $200 million has already been appropriated to help implement the Russian program.

Other G-8 countries have strongly endorsed and advanced this cooperation. This United States and Russian Federation have urged the G-8 leaders at their recent summit to accelerate this cooperation by directing development of necessary multilateral arrangements and an international financing plan for assisting Russia's program. The plan will consider both public and private sector financing mechanisms.

Also present at today's signing was Michael Guhin, U.S. negotiator.