Ros-Lehtinen: Pull nuke cooperation with Russia if linked to spy's poisoning

The likely incoming chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee urged the administration to "reconsider its ‘reset’ approach to Russia" and nuclear cooperation if the radioactive material that killed a former KGB agent is linked back to the country.

Rep. Ilena Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) issued a statement Wednesday in the wake of British media reports that Russia's Federal Security Service received a container of polonium-210 from the Russian Balakovo Nuclear Power Plant several weeks before dissident Alexander Litvenenko was poisoned in London four years ago.

"The reported link between the murder and Russia’s nuclear agency has serious implications for U.S. nuclear cooperation with Russia that we dare not ignore," Ros-Lehtinen said.

"I strongly urge President Obama to withdraw the U.S. – Russia nuclear cooperation agreement and block any purchase of U.S. nuclear resources by Russia’s Rosatom or its subsidiaries until these new allegations about possible involvement by Russia’s civilian nuclear agency in the radioactive poisoning of Litvinenko have been thoroughly investigated," she said.

Rosatom, Russia's state nuclear corporation that is linked to the allegations, has denied the report, saying its production capabilities wouldn't have been able to deliver the alleged 3.4 kilograms.

Ninety-seven percent of the world's legal polonium-210 production is in Russia.

In June, Ros-Lehtinen introduced a resolution to block approval of the proposed U.S.-Russia nuclear cooperation agreement.

In October, Ros-Lehtinen and Reps. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), Pete King (R-N.Y.) and Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-Calif.), the Ranking Members of the House Committees on Financial Services, Homeland Security, and Armed Services, respectively, sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner raising concerns about the pending sale of a U.S. uranium processing facility to ARMZ Uranium Holding Co., the mining arm of Rosatom.

The lawmakers expressed opposition to the U.S.-Russia nuclear cooperation agreement until the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States and Congress fully reviewed and evaluated its implications for national security.

"Russia’s record of transferring dangerous materials and technologies to rogue regimes, such as those in Iran and Syria, is very troubling," the letter said. "Its willingness to provide nuclear assistance to any regime with cash and its repeated attempts to undermine U.S. nonproliferation efforts disqualifies Russia from being regarded as a reliable partner."