Russian lawmakers back Putin's suspension of plutonium deal

The lower house of Russian parliament has unanimously approved President Vladimir Putin's move to suspend a deal with the United States on the disposal of weapons-grade plutonium.

Putin has cited the "emerging threat to strategic stability as a result of U.S. unfriendly actions" as a reason behind his move.

Under the agreement, which once a symbol of U.S.-Russian rapprochement, Russia and the U.S. each were to dispose of 34 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium, enough material for about 17,000 nuclear warheads.

Putin said the agreement could be restored if the U.S. pulls back its forces deployed near Russia's borders and revokes anti-Russian sanctions.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told lawmakers Wednesday that Moscow could take other steps that would be "painful" for the U.S. if Washington ratchets up sanctions.