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Tuesday, November 4, 2014, 10:15

Russia 'boycotts' nuclear meeting

By Associated Press

 Russia 'boycotts' nuclear meeting

VIENNA - Russia has failed to show up at meeting planning the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit, US and European officials said Monday.

The officials said it was not immediately clear whether Russia's absence meant that Moscow meant to boycott the summit itself or if it was a temporary show of displeasure over Washington's harsh condemnation of Moscow's role in Ukraine unrest and its lead in orchestrating Western sanctions and other punitive measures in response.

But even if short-term,, Russia's no-show is significant. Only three or four planning meetings are scheduled before the spring of 2016, when the summit is tentatively set to open. With Russia a key global player - and one of the world's five formally recognized nuclear powers - its input is crucial to setting an agenda.

The US president initiated a string of summits in 2010 aimed at preventing terrorists from getting their hands on weapons-grade nuclear material. Since then, the number of countries that have enough material to build a nuclear weapon has fallen from 39 to 25.

At the last summit this year in The Hague, 35 countries pledged to turn international guidelines on nuclear security into national laws and open up their procedures for protecting nuclear installations to independent scrutiny. The summit also featured new reduction commitments, with Japan, Italy and Belgium agreeing to cut their stocks of highly enriched uranium and plutonium.

Russia was absent from the 35-nation agreement, along with China, India and Pakistan, all nations with nuclear weapons.

Russian government offices that could comment were closed for the night.

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