Russia seeks end to Nunn-Lugar program

Russia told the United States that it is no longer interested in continuing the two-decade-old Nunn-Lugar arms disposal initiative that has helped Russia decommission thousands of nuclear warheads.

The American-funded initiative was set to expire in May after the last extension in 2013, the Nigeria Guardian reports.

"The American side knows that we do not want another extension," Sergei Ryabkov, Russia's deputy foreign minister, said, according to Interfax. "This is not news to the American side."

A Russian newspaper speculated that the initiative was shut down as a consequence of Moscow's decision to remove the USAID development program organized by the U.S. embassy in Moscow. The organization was kicked out over accusations that it supported opposition leaders who organized demonstrations against the rule of President Vladimir Putin.

Ryabkov denied any connection between the USAID case and the Nunn-Lugar decision.

The Nunn-Lugar plan, named after Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) and former Senator Sam Nunn, was created in 1992 after the breakup of the Soviet Union. The plan was meant to calm international concerns over the fate of the USSR's arsenal of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons.

The program helped Russia to organize and pay for the decommissioning of more than 6,000 nuclear warheads and ex-Soviet stockpiles of biological and chemical weapons, the Nigeria Guardian reports.