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Nuclear News - 08/18/00
RANSAC Nuclear News, 18 August 2000

A.  Brain Drain

    1. Scientists Pay Low, Associated Press (08/17/00)
    2. Brain Drain and Bad Funding Plague Russian Science, AgenceFrance Presse (08/17/00)
    3. Putin Laments Brain Drain, RFE/RL (08/16/00)
    4. Brain Drain One Of Problems Of Russian Science - Putin,Interfax (08/16/00)
    1. U.S., Russian Officials Wind up Geneva Arms Talks, Reuters(08/18/00)
    2. U.S., Russian Arms Negotiators Meet, Alexander G. Higgins,Associated Press (08/16/00)
C. Russian Nuclear Forces
    1. More Information Leaked On Security Council Meeting, RFE/RL(08/18/00)
    2. Russia's Unsafe Nuclear Submarines, New York Times (08/18/00)
D. Nuclear Waste
    1. Catastrophe On The Cards: Gwyn Prins The Tragedy Of The KurskShould Focus Attention On Russia's Nuclear Waste Crisis, The Guardian(UK) (08/18/00)
E. U.S. - Russia General
    1. Georgian Lab Blast, Associated Press (08/17/00)
    2. Al Gore's Crowning Foreign Policy Achievement, John Dizard,National Review (07/24/00)

A. Brain Drain

Scientists Pay Low
        Associated Press
        August 17, 2000
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW -- President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday lamented the meagersalaries Russian scientists receive, blaming that for the "brain drain"from laboratories and institutes.

Speaking to top scientists in Sochi, Putin said about 30,000 Russianscientists are now working abroad and that many who remain in Russia arenearing retirement age, Interfax reported.

"For a long time, scarce funds were allocated on paper to the developmentof science þ however, science did not receive them," he told thegathering of members of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

He said scientists still earn less than the average monthly wage, accordingto Interfax. The average wage in Russia in 1999 was about 1,700 rubles($60) per month.
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Brain Drain and Bad Funding Plague Russian Science
        Agence France Presse
        August 17, 2000
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW, Aug 17, 2000 -- (Agence France Presse) Brain drain and insufficientfunding are major troubles for Russia's science, President Vladimir Putinsaid on Wednesday, as cited by Interfax.

Lack of adequate funding is the most important problem facing Russianscientists, Putin said during a meeting in Sochi with members of the RussianAcademy of Sciences, the news agency reported.

"For a long time, scarce funds were allocated on paper for scientificdevelopment, and scientists did not receive them. Now it's changed, andbudget funds are fully given to scientific institutions, but that is notenough," Putin said.

Brain drain is another major problem for Russia's impoverished science,due to extremely low salaries, which are often below the survival level.

Over 30,000 Russian scientists work abroad, and large research centerswhich were set up during the Soviet regime find that Russia's budding capitalistshave little interest in their work.

"During the Cold War, huge sums were allocated to military science,but today innovative activity in Russia is very low, with only five percentof Russian companies actively applying the newest scientific achievements,"Putin said.

In developed countries, up to 87 percent of companies make use of themost recent scientific developments, Putin added.
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Putin Laments Brain Drain
        August 16, 2000
        (for personal use only)

At a meeting with members of the Russian Academy of Science on 16 August,President Putin declared that he considers the so-called "brain drain"one of the main problems of Russian science, RFE/RL's Russian service reported.According to the president, personnel are leaving scientific establishmentsnot only to go abroad but also to those spheres where pay is significantlyhigher. He estimated that the latest scientific developments are in usein no more than 5 percent of Russian enterprises.
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Brain Drain One Of Problems Of Russian Science - Putin
        August 16, 2000
        (for personal use only)

SOCHI.  Aug.  16  (Interfax)  - Russian PresidentVladimir Putin is discussing the problems of and prospects for sciencein the country with members of the Russian Academy of Science.
Opening the meeting, which is currently taking place in the Dagomyscomplex near Sochi, Putin stressed that  "the Academy of Science isa unique scientific institution unmatched in the world."
"Members of the Academy of Sciences head large research centers, whichmake an important contribution not only to the development of science,but also to the development of the country's economy, industry, defenseand security," the president said.
At the same time, Putin noted the problems that Russian science isnow facing, first of all, insufficient funding.  "For a long time,scarce funds, which were allocated on paper to the development of science,were provided; however, science did not receive them. In the course ofthe last year and a half, the situation has changed, and the funds allocatedin the budget are being fully directed to science, but this is not enough,"Putin said.
Among the problems faced by science, the Russian president also named"the aging of science and the brain drain."  Over 30 thousand Russianscientists work abroad, he said. "But they leak information not only toother countries, but also to other economic sectors inside the country,"Putin stressed, recalling in this connection that the average wage in thesphere of science is 15% lower than in industry.
"There are many reasons for this.  During the Cold War, huge sumswere allocated to military science. Today, innovative activity in the countryis very low. Only 5% of companies are actively applying the newest scientificachievements," Putin said, adding that in developed countries up to 80-87%of companies make use of the most recent achievements in science.
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U.S., Russian Officials Wind up Geneva Arms Talks
        August 18, 2000
        (for personal use only)

GENEVA, Aug 18 (Reuters) - Senior U.S. and Russian arms control negotiatorswere due on Friday to finish three days of talks on a START-3 treaty andrelated anti-ballistic missile issues, a U.S. spokesman said.

The Geneva talks were aimed at building on the agreement reached byU.S. President Bill Clinton and Russian President Vladimir Putin at lastmonth's G8 summit in Okinawa, Japan, to cooperate on strategic stability,he added.

Russian has been pressing the United States to abandon plans to deployan anti-missile defence shield that Moscow says would violate the landmark1972 ABM treaty and spark a new global arms race.

John Holum, under-secretary for arms control and international security,and his counterpart, Yuri Kapralov, director of the security affairs anddisarmament department of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, led the delegationsto the technical-level talks.

"Mr Holum is meeting Mr Kapralov to coordinate activities on cooperationand to continue discussions on START-3 and ABM issues," a U.S. spokesmanin Geneva said.

No press events or final statements were expected.
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U.S., Russian Arms Negotiators Meet
        Alexander G. Higgins
        Associated Press
        August 16, 2000
        (for personal use only)

GENEVA –– Top U.S. and Russian arms negotiators met Wednesday, seekingto build on a commitment by Presidents Bill Clinton and Vladimir Putinto improve safeguards against the accidental launch of a nuclear war, officialssaid.

U.S. officials refused to reveal the location of the three-day meetingbetween teams led by John Holum, the Clinton administration's chief armsnegotiator, and Yuri Kapralov, head of the Russian arms control directorate.Russian officials, however, said it was taking place in the Russian diplomaticmission to U.N. offices in Geneva.

A statement issued by the U.S. mission said the meeting was "followingup on the joint statement of President Clinton and President Putin in Okinawaon cooperation on strategic stability." The statement said the negotiatorswould continue a year-old series of talks aimed at writing a new treatyto reduce long-range nuclear weapons.

In conjunction with the G-8 summit in Okinawa, Japan, last month, Clintonand Putin issued a statement saying they planned to set up a joint U.S.-Russiacenter for exchange of data from systems that provide early warning inthe event of a missile launch. The negotiators have to work out implementation.

A second project, proposed by the Clinton administration, would involveways for each side to warn the other that a test missile or a space rockethas been launched. The objective is to allay misunderstandings and averta dangerous response.

Also on the table for consideration at Geneva is a joint U.S.-Russianproject known as RAMOS – for Russian American Observation Satellite – designedto improve sensors in early warning satellites.

At the same time, the United States is seeking Russian agreement toamend the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty so that it can deploy a shieldto guard against a missile attack from nations like North Korea or Iraq.Russia – with the backing of China and even U.S. allies – is strongly opposedto any change in the ABM treaty on the grounds that it could undermineinternational arms-control treaties and spark a new arms race.

The United States also has proposed working on parts of a text for athird Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START III, to reduce U.S. andRussian long-range nuclear warheads.

The START II treaty, concluded in January 1993, reduced warheads to3,000-3,500 on each side. Ratified by the U.S. Senate and finally, thisyear, by the Russian parliament, it has yet to take effect.
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C. Russian Nuclear Forces

More Information Leaked On Security Council Meeting
        August 18, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Although an official account of decisions reached at the 11 August SecurityCouncil meeting has not yet been made public, "Obshchaya gazeta" providedsome detailed information in its issue no. 33. According to the weekly,by the end of 2001 the Strategic Missile Forces will lose a division aswell as 26 launchers of R-36M missiles, also known as the S-18 Satan. Fiveregiments stationed in the city of Aleisk in Altai Krai will be disbanded.In addition, by 2003 the armed forces will become transformed into a three-branchstructure composed of the air force, navy, and ground forces. Last week,Air Force Commander Anatolii Kornukov confirmed that the Strategic RocketForces would be transferred to his command within two years (see "RFE/RLNewsline," 15 August 2000).
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Russia's Unsafe Nuclear Submarines
        New York Times
        August 18, 2000
        (for personal use only)
The sinking of a Russian nuclear submarine in the Barents Sea is notjust a tragedy for the sailors trapped aboard, it is a warning of the dangersof running a nuclear navy on the cheap -- the way an impoverished Russiamust do everything these days. There is disagreement between American andRussian experts over whether the accident was caused by an explosion aboardthe submarine or by a collision with another ship. But either way, theunderlying cause may be more fundamental. Money is so short that submarinesrarely put out to sea. They lack maintenance and the crews get little training.These problems, compounded by a longstanding disregard for safety, havecaused accidents in the past and could have been contributing factors inthis one.

These problems have also obstructed rescue efforts. Until five daysafter the accident, the Russians were using primitive diving bells anda mini-sub with batteries that sustained it for only three hours. Theirmore advanced rescue sub may not have been ready for rapid deployment.The Russian government has also shown a chilling indifference to the sailors'fate. President Vladimir Putin has continued his Black Sea vacation, andoffers of foreign assistance were rebuffed for days.

The Russian Navy's deficiencies not only endanger its crew, they posea risk to the local ocean environment. So far, Norwegian monitors havedetected no radiation leakage from the downed submarine, the Kursk, butthat could change if it breaks apart or if the reactors have not been completelyshut down, as happened in a 1986 submarine accident despite official reassurancesto the contrary.

An even greater contamination danger comes from some 120 decommissionedsubmarines rusting off the coastlines near Murmansk and Vladivostok. Mostwere mothballed when Russia simply ran out of money to operate them. Someof the submarines are no longer watertight and are in danger of sinking.Radioactive waste is slowly seeping into the surrounding water and air.Neighboring Norway is worried about a possible explosion from one of thereactors, which could contaminate local waters, kill fish and marine mammalsand harm both nations' fishing industries.

The United States and Norway are helping Russia to design and buildprototype facilities for storing the spent fuel. But Russia does not havethe money to continue the efforts. One way to get it would be to expanda program championed by Senator Richard Lugar and former Senator Sam Nunnthat pays to dismantle Russia's nuclear arsenal but does not cover mostof the decommissioned submarines.

The chief responsibility is Russia's, however, and its performance sofar has been troubling. Moscow has blocked American and Norwegian officialsfrom seeing some of the sites they are trying to clean up, prosecuted aformer naval officer who has written reports exposing the problem, andslowed progress with internal battles over financing and demands for taxeson donations. It may be a long time before Russia has the funds to operateand decommission its nuclear submarines safely, but it should at leastrefrain from compounding the risks.
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D. Nuclear Waste

Catastrophe On The Cards: Gwyn Prins The Tragedy Of The Kursk ShouldFocus Attention On Russia's Nuclear Waste Crisis
        The Guardian (UK)
        18 August 2000
        (for personal use only)

This week, before the horrified gaze of the world, the Kursk has becomepart of the swelling armada of dead Russian nuclear submarines, most ofwhich are to be found in the ports of the Kola peninsula of north-westRussia. If the tragedy focuses attention on Russia's ballooning nuclearwaste problem, then some good may yet come of it. What has been lackinghas been political will in Russian and abroad. The loss of the Kursk couldchange that. There is still time - just.

From a radiation point of view, the Kola peninsula is one of the cleanestplaces in Europe. A bit of strontium 90 from the atmospheric atom bombtest of the 1950s, to be sure - you get that everywhere. On land, thereis background radon (as on Dartmoor). In the Barents, Kara and White seas,there is caesium 137, but half of that comes from jolly old Windscale/Sellafield.

But Kola also boasts the greatest latent potential for catastrophicrelease of radioactivity on the planet. An audit of 1993, ordered by PresidentBoris Yeltsin, opened the issue for scrutiny. Kola is home to huge numbersof operating and defunct reactors.

Between 1954 and 1996, the Soviet Union built 287 nuclear submarines,containing more than 500 reactors. Of these, a minimum of 183 -and perhapsas many as 245 - are now out of service, and at least 120 of those stillhave fuelled reactors. The Northern Fleet has 142 subs and three battlecruisers(300-plus reactors) in or out of service. Then there are 10 icebreakersand a container ship. In the tally are 16 dumped reactors, including sixwith unrecovered fuel from nuclear accidents, such as the one that overtookthe icebreaker Lenin. To that must now be added the two fuelled reactorsof the Kursk.

So Kola has an abundance of spent nuclear fuel from ships needing containment.Then there is the Kola power station. Two of its reactors are judged bythe International Atomic Energy Authority to have a 25% likelihood of criticalfailure in the next 20 years. There is no containment. This, however, isthe power station that powers the pumps that cool the shut-down submarinereactors that await decommissioning and disposal. When the electricitycompany cut the Russian navy off for non- payment a few years ago, marinesappeared, submachine guns in hand, to help change its mind. A new Kolanuclear power station is planned.

There is no adequate technical provision to deal with this stuff. Themain hope is the Russian reprocessing plant at Mayak, near Chelyabinsk,with western-funded medium-term storage under construction there. However,shortage of special rolling stock restricts the capacity to move materialfrom Kola by rail. A long-term repository is being discussed. The Russianswant to put it on the island of Novaya Zemlya - but it is hard to reachand its geology is fractured by previous nuclear tests. Western expertsfavour a site on Kola, near the stuff. No early agreement is expected.

This situation is a product of the myopia that has been a characteristicof nuclear industries, west and east. They think in straight lines, andthen only about the bits that they like, rather than of full-life cycles.Only now, with the armada of dead vessels swelling, is the Rubin DesignBureau, whose gifted engineers helped to build the Soviet submarine fleet(including, very recently, the Oscar design of the Kursk), being askedto un-design them.

Accommodation for spent fuel has been much reduced by accidents. Twostorage ponds at the Andreyeva Bay naval facility had to be abandoned in1982 because poor construction had led to leakage through cracked concreteand failed welds. The storage pool and dry dock at Gremikha failed too,for similar reasons. The Norwegian Bellona Foundation has evidence thatdrunkenness in the workforce prevented repair. Spent fuel is stored inNorthern Fleet service tenders. Four (in Murmansk and Severodvinsk), areover 25 years old and full. With nowhere better to put the stuff, all theseold, badly maintained barges are accidents waiting to happen. Spent fuelstands, inadequately shielded, on the quayside.

Like the brooms activated by the sorcerer's apprentice, the block decommissioningof the Soviet fleet is producing increasing volumes of fresh spent fuel.The Russian government plans to decommission 150 submarines by 2007. Thepresent least-bad option is to leave the fuel in reactors on board. Butleft too long, fuel channels may distort. Defuelling then becomes impossible,so the entire reactors have to be disposed of. Unmaintained, the submarinehulls corrode. Some have sunk at their moorings.

The west wants to help. But at a recent meeting the cost of disposalquoted by the Russians was twice the equivalent western figure. The Russianswould like to be paid to clean up; the west is reluctant to hand over cash.People recall the European Union auditors' report on money for safety atnuclear power-stations, which disappeared.

The whole issue is darkened by a cloud from another source - the inveterateculture of secrecy that hangs over Russian military, especially nuclear,matters. Of principal concern today is the case of a former Russian navycaptain, Alexander Nikitin. The authorities decided to make an exampleof him. Put on trial for high treason for revealing information about theRussian navy (information that was actually already known to western researchersfrom other sources), he was hounded through the courts for years untilhe was acquitted by the St Petersburg city court last December. The acquittalwas confirmed by the supreme court in April, amid general rejoicing byenvironmentalists and supporters of free speech. But Victor Cherkesov,a friend of President Vladimir Putin, who was the Petersburg prosecutorand is now governor of north-west Russia, has not given up. The prosecutor'soffice has appealed against the acquittal and a supreme court hearing isdue next month.

Even if his acquittal stands, Nikitin's case will have had dire consequencesbecause of the nature of his defence case. The courts found that at thetime of the offence, no law existed which Nikitin had broken: by definitionhe was innocent. Now there is a law. It works like this, in five Kafkaesquesteps: one, there are secret matters not to be revealed; two, they arelisted; three, the list itself is secret; four, ignorance is no defence;five, there is no 'public interest" defence. As a dissident in the newRussia told me, in future no prudent Russian will dare to speak publiclyabout any environmental issue except those that are wholly innocuous: perhapsthe welfare of sea-birds.

The British government has offered pounds 5m toward the Kola clean up.But any external aid must be targeted primarily at building a comprehensivepartnership in which western and Russian engineers and equipment work together.Compromise is unacceptable because the safe management of radioactivityis an activity unlike any other. That a British rescue team was requested,late in the day, to assist with the Kursk, is one glimmering point of optimismthat may be seen as the swirling, murky waters close over the disaster.

Gwyn Prins is principal research fellow at the European Institute ofthe London School of Economics. The Bellona Foundation website is at
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E. U.S. - Russia General

Georgian Lab Blast
        Associated Press
        August 17, 2000
        (for personal use only)
MOSCOW -- An explosion destroyed part of a laboratory working withradioactive materials in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi on Tuesday, killingone scientist, Itar-Tass reported.

No radiation leaked from the building after the blast on the fifth floor,the report said, citing laboratory officials.

Fire and rescue personnel arrived at the building but declined to commenton the explosion, the report said. The report did not mention if authoritieshad determined the cause of the blast.

The facility studied radioactive isotopes but no dangerous materialswere scattered by the blast, Itar-Tass said.
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Al Gore's Crowning Foreign Policy Achievement
        John Dizard
        National Review
        July 24, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Al Gore can rightly claim that he's had more hands-on foreign policyexperience than George Bush. True, the experience --- his leading rolein the making of our Russia policy --- turned out to be a disaster, butas his spin team will remind you, these are all old charges. The charitableinterpretations of Gore's Russian initiative would have to be that he isa complete incompetent who had no idea what he was doing, or that he wasincorrectly medicated over the past eight years. A more realistic analysiswould be that he turned that famously detail oriented mind of his to findingthe Russians with whom he would be best able to empathize. They turnedout to be the dozen or so leading criminals in the country, of whom themost distinguished was Viktor Chernomyrdin, the longest serving Prime Ministerof the Russian Republic and one of the richest civil servants of our time,if not indeed the richest.

At this point the half-smart foreign policy think tank people will murmurthat it's a mean world out there, you can't make an omelette without breakingeggs, etc. etc. And if the people Gore sponsored made their fortunes inthe process of creating a post-communist Russian renaissance for whichwe would get some of the credit, then we could cut them some slack on theethics questions. But that's not what happened. Gore's friends robbed Russiaof everything they could steal in the middle of the worst depression experiencedby any country in the twentieth century. Oh, and they robbed us blind aswell, which helped cause the financial crisis and near-world-meltdown of1998.

"Russia" here isn't some blob on a map, but a hundred and fifty millionmostly poor people, who not only got a lot poorer under the administrationof his friends, but died early in large numbers or were born sick to parentsunable to give them decent care. Had the not-so-great demographic trendsof Soviet Russia continued through the last decade, there would be aboutthree million more Russians than there are now. The complicity of the U.S.government in this process of robbing from the sick and poor will comeback to haunt us. The United States had an enormous fund of goodwill amongthe Russian people at the end of the cold war, which is arguably one ofthe reasons it ended ---we were seen to stand for good. They don't thinkthat now.   To be fair, we have managed to curry the favor ofwell-placed Russian gangsters, but they're not really the people you cancount on.

The Gore apologists --- both the official ones, such as Leon Fuerth,his foreign policy advisor, and the semi-official ones, such as David Hoffman,the Moscow correspondent of the Washington Post ---- have internally contradictorydefenses for Gore's complicity with the Russian mega-criminal class. Thefirst is, what choice did we have.  As Fuerth was quoted by Hoffman," Is the idea supposed to be that we should have boycotted the governmentof Russia for five years, because that was Chernomyrdin's time in office-or deal with him?"

This is the first defense --- the false choice. Of course the U.S. Governmenthas to "deal with" the governments with which it has diplomatic relations.If the official counterparties are notorious criminals such as Chernomyrdin,then the dealings are correct, practical, and cool. Gore went far beyondthat. He made Chernomyrdin a partner in a sort of Renaissance-Weekend-meets-world-governmentthing called the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission.  This wasn't some hidden" back channel” low profile operation --- Gore and Chernomyrdin were outthere on the Charlie Rose Show, mooning over each other like 17 year olds,if 17 year olds had translators. One of the great successes of the Commissionwas a 1993 deal to recycle Russian bombs through the U.S. reactor fuelmarket --- it was one of the subjects of the Charlie Rose appearance.

That doesn't look so good now. Integral to the uranium swords for ploughsharesdeal was the creation of the U.S. Enrichment Corporation, which involvedthe U.S. government selling its uranium enrichment plants to the publicin a "privatization" deal. The deal, which the old Gekko column in NationalReview tagged as a rip-off, resulted in a company with a collapsing bottomline and share price. To rescue USEC, the management announced in Junethat it would have to close a plant in Portsmouth, Ohio (a swing state--oops)and cancel the money losing uranium purchase contract with the Russians--- so much for the famous deal.

The Gore apologists' response would be "who could have foreseen thatat the time?" The answer is -everyone else in the uranium industry, sinceyou can forecast uranium demand and contract expirations fairly accurately.Unfortunately, Gore, Fuerth, and their comrades figured that spin wouldturn into reality.

That brings us to the next defense of Gore's policy ---and this oneis even more convoluted. Basically, Gore's handlers and apologists arguethat he knew all along that corruption was a problem in Russia. "Anyonewho deals with Russia at all understands this is a problem that is widespread.It was on the Commission agenda." On the other hand, Gore asserts thathe doesn't know if the allegations about Chernomyrdin's own corruptionwere true. Like the other patrons of a mob restaurant after a hit has takenplace, he didn't see anything or anyone.

So let's see ---everyone knows corruption is a problem (the dead bodyis on the floor of the restaurant), but nobody knows if Chernomyrdin mighthave anything to do with it (none of us saw anything happen).

The patrons of the restaurant have an understandable motive ---theydon't want to wind up fertilizing some Jersey wetlands. But Gore has theSecret Service to protect him. Could it be that he really didn't know whatwas happening?

In a word, no. A friend of mine was visiting Chernomyrdin's own ImperialBank -every civil servant should have their own bank ---one afternoon inthe heyday of the Gore-Chernomyrdin alliance. He found the officers anddirectors in a state of confusion. A bomb had gone off in front of thebank that morning, and it was understood that one of their business counterpartieswas sending them a message. But the bank was involved in so many shakydeals with other criminals that they didn’t know which deal was at issue.They'd been sent a message they couldn't understand. That's the kind ofthing that happens when, like Chernomyrdin, you do business with just aboutanyone who will pay you a  $1 million fee just for a hearing.  Chernomyrdin's main power base was Gazprom the natural gas monopoly andthe biggest company in the country, over which he exercised direct controlall the time he was Prime Minister. He and his partner, Rem Vyakirev, usedit to set up a parallel financing system in competition with the foreignloan -domestic banking system scam run by another Gore client, AnatolyChubais.

Chernomyrdin made hundreds of millions, if not billions, from his endof the rackets. The operation of these systems was familiar to tens offmillions of Russians. Among them, it is to be hoped, were one or two incontact with the CIA.

But they would have been informing a brick wall. Gore, through Fuerth,had forbidden the CIA to investigate any corruption charges against Chernomyrdin.When even the New York Times found out about this, Gore and Fuerth flatout lied about their role in suppressing intelligence.  Chernomyrdinformally quit his post at Gazprom in June, presumably to take a well earnedrest after his decade of heroic exertion on behalf of his bank account.The Russian people can hope that Gore will have the future leisure to joinhim in for card games and shuffleboard.
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