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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Review Finds Russia Aid Crucial

NEW YORK — A review of American assistance to Russia by the administration of President George W. Bush has concluded that most of the programs aimed at helping Russia stop the spread of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons are vital to American security and should be continued, a senior administration official said. Some may even be expanded.

But the White House wants to restructure or end two programs: a $2.1 billion effort to dispose of hundreds of tons of military plutonium and a program to shrink Russian cities that were devoted to nuclear weapons development, and to provide alternative jobs for nuclear scientists, the official said in an interview on Friday. Both these programs have been criticized in Congress.

The review also calls for a shift in philosophy from "assistance to partnership" with Russia.

To do that, the official said, Russia would have to demonstrate a willingness to make a financial and political commitment to stop the spread of advanced conventional weapons and to end its sale of nuclear and other military-related expertise and technology to Iran and other nations unfriendly to the United States.

One administration official said the issue of how to handle Russia's sales of sensitive technology and expertise not only to Iran, Iraq, Libya but others hostile to the United States was being considered separately by the White House. No decisions have been made yet.

But on those issues, it would be "hard to create a partnership if we think that Russia is proliferating," the official added. "It's not a condition; it's a fact of life."

Administration officials said the recommendation to extend most nonproliferation programs was not conditioned upon Russian acquiescence to the administration's determination to build a nuclear missile shield.

The review covered 30 programs with an annual outlay of some $800 million. They are a cornerstone of the United States' scientific and military relationship with Russia. The programs, involving mostly the Pentagon, the Energy Department and the State Department, pay for the dismantling of weapons facilities and the strengthening of security at sites where nuclear, chemical and biological weapons are stored.

President Bush is expected to discuss some of these programs when he meets with President Vladimir Putin this weekend. That meeting, in Genoa, Italy, is expected to focus on U.S. plans to build the missile shield, which the United States admits would violate a longstanding treaty between the two nations.

Officials said that although Cabinet officials had discussed the review's findings, no final decisions on the recommendations would be made until Congress reacts to the proposals.

The administration has begun arranging to brief key legislators on the results of its review, which began in April and was conducted by an expert on Russia on loan from the State Department to the National Security Council office that deals with nonproliferation strategy.