Russia has approved amendments to the US-Russian 2000 agreement to dispose of excess weapon-grade plutonium from defence programmes.

Under the agreement, both the countries will dispose of 34t of excess plutonium, which can be used to create thousands of nuclear weapons.

The Rossiiskaya Gazeta government daily reported that the amendments to the agreement, signed in April 2010, were approved by the Russian President Dmintry Medvedev.

The Russian and US nuclear arsenals will be reduced to a maximum of 1,550 nuclear warheads from the current ceiling of 2,200.

The programme is expected to be launched before 2018, with Russia planning to spend $3.5bn on the programme, while the US will spend around $400m, according to RIA Novosti.