Threat Liabilities

By Sebastian Sprenger / June 20, 2013 at 7:44 PM

A bilateral protocol for the new U.S.-Russian follow-on agreement to the cooperative threat reduction program, announced by President Obama earlier this week, reveals the kind of compromise Moscow and Washington leaders have struck on the previously thorny issue of liabilities.

According to the document, released by the State Department today, American personnel engaged in nonproliferation work under the new agreement are immune from prosecution by Russian authorities unless the Russians believe that those individuals willingly caused an accident "with intent to cause personal injury, loss of life, or damage."

In such a case, officials from both countries will hold "prompt consultations and attempt to achieve a mutual understanding" within 90 days of Russian notification. If a mutual understanding cannot be reached, immunity clauses covering the accused individuals would no longer apply, according to the protocol.

The protocol is applied "provisionally" beginning on June 17, 2013 and will enter into force once both countries have completed the necessary “internal procedures,” the document reads.