Obama extends executive order on Russian nuclear materials

President Barack Obama extended an emergency declaration on Thursday aimed at properly implementing an agreement with Russia regarding fissile nuclear material.

The declaration, issued under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, exempts payments due to Russia under the Agreement Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Russian Federation Concerning the Disposition of Highly Enriched Uranium Extracted from Nuclear Weapons (HEU Agreements) from judicial processes in the U.S.

Thursday's executive order extended the national emergency, originally implemented in 2012, for another year.

Obama said that the payments to Russia, which include uranium hexafluoride, are critical to upholding the HEU Agreements and national security. Obama said that placing those payments under judicial review could jeopardize the agreement.

"The risk of nuclear proliferation created by the accumulation of a large volume of weapons-usable fissile material in the territory of the Russian Federation continues to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States," Obama said.

The HEU Agreements were originally made in 1993 to prevent nuclear proliferation using weapons-grade uranium from Russian weapons. Under the agreement, Russia extracts highly enriched uranium from old nuclear weapons and converts it to low enriched uranium, which is then shipped to the U.S. for use in commercial nuclear reactors. In exchange, the United States sends Russia money and uranium hexafluoride.