(Newsroom America) -- The Russian government has said it is withdrawing from a billion-dollar aid program designed to help Moscow pay for dismantling scores of nuclear warheads, U.S. officials have said.
The program, called Cooperative Threat Reduction, has been part of U.S.-Russia foreign policy since the 1990s, the Washington Free Beacon reported Thursday, adding that Russia's foreign ministry announced it would not extend the program when it expires next year.
"The program, funded by legislation sponsored by Sen. Richard Lugar (R., Ind.) and former Sen. Sam Nunn (D., Ga.), became known as the Nunn-Lugar program and was used to help secure Soviet-era nuclear stockpiles and prevent the scientists and technicians in the Russian nuclear program from selling their expertise abroad," the Beacon reported.
The website said the development is the latest in a series of setbacks to President Obama's conciliatory "reset" policy regarding Russia.
Indeed, Russia has taken a more aggressive stance with the U.S. in recent years, including renewing Cold War-era tactics such as staging bomber flights close to American airspace and probing U.S. coastlines with submarines.
Lugar, who is set to retire this year, said he had been told recently by Russian officials that they wanted to alter the Umbrella Agreement rather than simply extend it.
"At no time did officials indicate that, at this stage of negotiation, they were intent on ending it, only amending it," Lugar said in a statement.
"Further, during my visit to the Missile Dismantlement and Elimination Facility (MDEF) at Surovatikha, near Nizhy Novgorod, where Nunn-Lugar works to destroy SS-19 and SS-18 missiles, Russian Federal Space Agency officials welcomed prospects for future work," he added.
Under the program, 7,610 strategic nuclear warheads have been deactivated, along with 902 long-range missiles, 498 missile silos, 191 ICBM launchers, 155 strategic bombers, 906 nuclear surface-to-air missiles, and 492 submarine-launched ballistic missiles, at a cost of about $8 billion, the Beacon reported.
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