1. FEDERATION COUNCIL ASKS GOVERNMENT FOR FUNDS TO DESTROY CHEMICAL WEAPONS
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On Wednesday, the Federation Council (the upper house of parliament) sent a parliamentary inquiry to Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov in which it expressed concern about the course of the implementation of the federal special program for destroying stockpiles of chemical weapons in Russia.
The inquiry noted that Russia could not fulfill the international obligations it assumed within the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction.
"Proof of this is the extremely low realization of statements by G8 leaders about the necessity to provide international financial aid to Russia," the inquiry said. "This aid is provided extremely slowly, in reduced amounts, and not at the time set."
According to them, only 3% of the promised international financial assistance to Russia for destroying chemical weapons in 2004 was given.
"The insufficient financing also hampers the creation of a system of installations to destroy chemical weapons," they noted. "Of the six planned installations, only one in Gorny settlement Saratov Region [the Volga area], was put into operation."
In this regard, the Federation Council members asked Mr. Fradkov to make a decision on allocating additional funds from the federal budget to fulfill the federal program for destroying stockpiles of chemical weapons.
"This will make it possible to destroy the Russia-stated 8,000 metric tons of toxic agents or 20% of the total stockpiles of chemical weapons by 2007," they said
2. Federation Council concerned over disposal of chemical arms in Russia
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The Russian Federation Council has expressed concern about the situation surrounding the country's program to dispose of chemical weapons.
In its letter to Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov, the Federation Council said it is worried that "Russia is not able to meet the international obligations it took on as part of the [Chemical Weapons] Convention, and a threat to Russia's environmental safety may emerge."
The letter draws Fradkov's attention to the fact that G8 leaders have not done enough to deliver on their promises to provide Russia with international financial support for these purposes and to abide by agreements on a global partnership against the spread of weapons of mass destruction.
Pakistan and Russia are two nations that could be potential sources of leaking nuclear weapons technology or fissile materials to terrorists, according to a new report by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) on nuclear terrorism.
"The fear regarding Pakistan is that some members of the armed forces might covertly give a weapon to terrorists or that, if President Musharraf were overthrown, an Islamic fundamentalist government or a state of chaos in Pakistan might enable terrorists to obtain a weapon," the CRS report said.
"Terrorists or rogue states might acquire a nuclear weapon in several ways. The nations of greatest concern as potential sources of weapons or fissile materials are widely thought to be Russia and Pakistan," the report said.
Pakistan, a close ally of the US in the war against terrorism, has often been described by South Asia experts as a "potential source" of radicalism, proliferation, terrorism and even nuclear war.
The CRS report said that although it would be difficult for the terrorists to launch a nuclear attack on any US city, such an attack is plausible and would have catastrophic consequences - in one scenario killing over a half a million people and causing damage of over $1 trillion.
Russia, the report noted, has many tactical nuclear weapons as well as much highly enriched uranium (HEU) and weapons grade plutonium, which do not have adequate safeguards.
Many experts believe that technically savvy terrorists could fabricate a nuclear bomb from HEU. Terrorists could also obtain HEU from the more than 130 research reactors worldwide, most of which remain unprotected.
"If terrorists acquired a nuclear weapon, they could use many means in an attempt to bring it into the United States. This nation has many thousands of miles of land and sea borders, as well as several hundred ports of entry.
Terrorists might smuggle a weapon across lightly guarded stretches of borders, ship it in using a cargo container, place it in a hold of a crude oil tanker, or bring it in using a truck, a boat, or a small airplane," says the report.
The US would have to take up a "layered defence" to try to block terrorists at various stages in their attempts to obtain a nuclear weapon and smuggle it into the US.
These layers include threat reduction programmes in the former USSR and Pakistan, long-term engagement with the unsecured nuclear nations, efforts to secure HEU worldwide, control of former Soviet and other borders, the Container Security Initiative and Proliferation Security Initiative and US border security.
1. G8 diplomats to mull Iran nuclear incentives in Washington this week: officials
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Envoys from the Group of Eight industrialized nations are to meet here this week to discuss offering incentives to Iran in a last-ditch effort to get the Islamic republic to suspend its uranium enrichment activities that could be used to make nuclear weapons, State Department officials said Tuesday.
The department will host talks on Friday between mid-to-senior ranking G8 diplomats to go over options for dealing with suspicions that Iran is secretly developing nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian atomic power program, the officials said.
The meeting is part of the G8's consideration of ways to get Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment work as a deadline for Tehran to comply with demands from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to suspend enrichment and answer all questions about its nuclear ambitions looms next month, the officials said.
The G8, which comprises Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States, is looking at a package deal for Iran in which it would be given access to imported nuclear fuel but would totally suspend its own work on the nuclear fuel cycle in return, according to diplomats close to the IAEA.
Friday's meeting will gather "political directors" from G8 foreign ministries who get together frequently to discuss nuclear non-proliferation issues, the State Department officials said.
However, neither US Secretary of State Colin Powell nor his deputy, Richard Armitage, would attend, they said. US Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton is likely to be the highest-ranking diplomat in the talks, they said.
Iran's nuclear ambitions have become a major topic in the US presidential campaign with Democratic challenger John Kerry berating President George W. Bush for failing to deal with Tehran while going to war with Iraq on faulty intelligence.
Diplomats in Vienna, where the IAEA is headquartered, say the Bush administration has not yet signed off on any package and had thus far been reluctant to be involved in defining any possible incentives.
One diplomat said Washington was unlikely to commit until after the November 2 election.
"The day after the election, things will be clearer," the diplomat said.
The New York Times reported Tuesday that the United States is holding talks with European allies on a possible deal with Iran that would give Tehran access to imported nuclear fuel in return for suspension of uranium enrichment activities.
The New York Times reported earlier Tuesday that while the Bush administration had not endorsed any incentives for Iran, it was not discouraging Britain, France and Germany from assembling a package which might also lift certain economic sanctions on Iran, in particular allowing it to import spare parts for its ailing civilian airline.
Any US support for incentives, even if offered by the Europeans, would mark a significant shift in the administration's policy toward Iran's nuclear program, which it has said should be sent to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions.
Powell, Bolton and others have been saying publicly for the past month that it is past time for Iran to be referred to the Security Council.
The moment on Sept. 11, 2001, that the second plane hit the second tower, it was instantly clear to us all that America and the world were plunged into a war on terror.
And that we were in a doomsday race against the terrorists.
We knew that Osama bin Laden had said it was his "religious duty" to obtain a weapon of mass destruction. We knew that, since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia's stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction have been dangerously vulnerable. Deadly arsenals were stored in dilapidated buildings, secured with just one padlock, in facilities surrounded by chain-link fences ridden with holes, or by crumbling walls that were unguarded and easily scaled.
So you must think, as I thought, that after 9/11, the Bush-Cheney administration surely raced to secure Russia's vulnerable weapons of mass destruction before the terrorists got to them.
Well, you are wrong and I was too.
For almost a full year after the attacks of Sept. 11, President George W. Bush inexplicably froze all funding of the only U.S. program that safeguards America's homeland by securing Russia's vulnerable nuclear, chemical and biological arsenals. The Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Act, sponsored in 1991 by now-retired Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) and present Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), has secured a number of Russia's facilities by installing the latest high-tech systems.
It has also dismantled some 6,000 old missiles, warheads, bombers and submarines. But more than half of Russia's facilities are woefully under-secured and even unsecured. Including a chemical arsenal where 1.9 million chemical shells - enough to kill everyone on the planet - are stored in decaying buildings with holes in their roofs.
Bush had cut off the funds at the urging of a handful of conservatives in the Pentagon and the House of Representatives who were more worried about challenging Moscow over whether it was providing full access and openness to all U.S. officials at all sites than they were about racing to secure the vulnerable arsenals.
It took intervention by Lugar to persuade Bush to rescind his freeze. In September 2003, Bush flew to Indiana for a series of fund-raisers. Lugar, riding to his home state in the plane, talked with Bush.
The chat became an hour-long Cooperative Threat Reduction Act tutorial. Lugar implored the president to act with urgency to restore cuts made by the Republican-led House and end delay Bush had imposed. "I'll take care of it," Bush promised. And he did. Sort of.
Bush ended the funding freeze - but budgeting for this crucial program has flat-lined ever since. The Bush administration is spending just $1 billion a year on the Nunn-Lugar program to safeguard America by securing Russia's vulnerable arsenals. Hardly a pace of urgency. To put it in perspective, the Bush administration is spending 14 times that annually to fund the unproven Missile Defense System, even though no expert believes terrorists are likely to use an intercontinental missile to attack us.
But experts consider it frighteningly probable that terrorists will be able to conceal a nuclear weapon aboard a freighter and sail into a U.S. port undetected if the terrorists get the weapon at its unsecured source.
That is what Vice President Dick Cheney accurately described in his debate with Sen. John Edwards as "the biggest threat we face today." What he did not explain was why the Bush-Cheney administration actions have not matched its rhetoric of urgency.
At today's pace for funding the Nunn-Lugar program, think tank experts agree, it will take 14 years to secure the vulnerable weapons of mass destruction in Russia alone.
But the urgency cannot stop in Russia. More than 40 countries have more than 100 research reactors that use highly enriched uranium or plutonium and are virtually unguarded.
A new study by the Defense Department's National Defense University recently called the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program "the Marshall Plan of nuclear nonproliferation" and concluded it should be expanded to counter additional global threats. "The Nunn- Lugar program directly addresses the gravest danger the nation faces: nuclear-armed terrorists," says the report.
You don't have to take Sam Nunn's word, or Dick Lugar's word for our perilous vulnerability. Take Vladimir Putin's word. After the latest series of Chechen terrorist attacks, Putin was reported to have dispatched Russian troops to guard all of Russia's far-flung, nuclear weapons facilities.
Russia's president knew the tough truth and acted urgently - when his country was threatened. America's leaders know the tough truth too. What's lacking is the urgent response that shows our leaders finally get it: Homeland security begins not at our shores but at vulnerable arsenals halfway around the world, where Islamic militant terrorists prey.
In the near future, Russia will finish upgrading its satellite constellations. "In 2005, the Space Force will receive nine spacecraft and six rockets from the country's military and industrial sector," Deputy Defense Minister and General of the Armies Andrei Moskovsky said.
This is expected because Russian military experts and others have predicted that space will play an increasingly important role in ensuring national security.
However, anti-satellite systems and other weaponry might be deployed in space as a retaliatory measure.
Realizing the danger, Russia and China submitted draft basic elements of a comprehensive accord on the non-deployment of space weapons at the Conference on Disarmament in 2002. In particular, the document stipulated commitments not to place any weapons systems in orbit, not deploy space weapons on celestial bodies and not to resort to the threat or use of force against space objects.
On October 5, 2004, Russia's permanent representative to the UN in Geneva made an important statement in New York, noting that Russia pledged not to be the first to deploy any weapons in outer space, and that Russia called on all space powers to follow its example.
The Russian initiative was a logical step by a country that recognizes its responsibility when leading world powers opt for military-space defense doctrines. An analytical report that the Tsiolkovsky space exploration academy prepared in early October, speaks volumes in this connection.
"The creation of dual purpose space systems and complexes increases the effectiveness of the Space Forces and is an essential component to maintaining national security," the report reads. The academy's experts believe that developing new early warning, communications, troop control, space reconnaissance, global navigation, meteorological and communications systems and integrating weapons control and troop control systemsis a top priority.
Spacecraft, which are not technically weapons, facilitate the effective use of modern military technology and weapons. As a result, the deployment of orbital anti-satellite systems must be prevented both de jure and de facto. Otherwise, the world would face an unprecedented arms race in outer space; no computer can predict the consequences of that arms race.
Therefore, it is necessary to study the possibility of drafting special accords that would restrict "passive actions" like dual-purpose satellite systems. Ivan Meshcherikov, vice president of the Tsiolkovsky Academy, thinks that the new American system is a serious threat to Russia's entire orbital cluster, especially Glonass navigation and communications satellites.
According to him, the United States is currently deploying new ground radars, which are primarily directed against Russian satellites. "Russia's Glonass navigation system and the United States' GPS have the same frequency and the satellites flying on similar orbital paths," he said. "Still we know that GPS can switch to different frequencies, and our satellites would be defenseless."
Consequently, numerous objectives must be accomplished before a genuinely comprehensive peaceful space accord can be drafted. However, time is running out.
Russia's top nuclear authority said on Thursday it had finished construction of an atomic power plant in Iran -- a project the United States fears Tehran could use to make nuclear arms.
"We're done. All we need to do now is work out (with the Iranians) the agreement on sending spent fuel back to Russia," said a spokesman for Russia's Atomic Energy Agency (RosAtom).
To allay U.S. concerns, Russia has promised not to start up the Bushehr plant in southern Iran until Tehran guarantees to return to Russia all spent nuclear fuel, which can be used in making weapons.
The signing of the document has been delayed repeatedly in past years, raising speculation that Moscow, under severe U.S. pressure to ditch the project, could shelve it until the U.N. nuclear agency declares Iran's nuclear programme peaceful.
Alaeddin Boroujerdi, head of the Iranian Parliament's Foreign Affairs and National Security Commission, was in Moscow on Thursday for talks with Russian nuclear and foreign affairs officials.
RosAtom head Alexander Rumyantsev is due to visit Iran in late November, but industry sources have said signing of the key document could be delayed again.
The 1,000-megawatt, $800 million Bushehr plant is due to be launched in the next year or so and reach full capacity in 2006.
The RosAtom spokesman said work still remained to be done on assembling some security and control equipment.
Russia has been building the Bushehr plant since the early 1990s. Both Moscow and Tehran maintain Iran's nuclear programme is peaceful.
2. Russia, Iran cooperating in anti-terrorist fight - Igor Ivanov
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- Russia and Iran are closely cooperating in the fight against international terrorism and the settlement of regional conflicts, Russian Security Council Secretary Igor Ivanov said at a Thursday meeting with head of the Iranian Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Alaeddin Boroujerdi in the Kremlin.
"We are closely cooperating on the international scene in matters of everyone's concern, primarily the fight against international terrorism and settlement of regional problems in Afghanistan, Iraq and other places," he said.
Moscow is grateful to Tehran for its position on the settlement of problems in Chechnya.
3. Russia, Iran may sign nuclear fuel agreements in November
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Agreements on the delivery of Russian nuclear fuel to Iran and the return of spent fuel to Russia have been drafted and may be signed during an upcoming visit by Alexander Rumyantsev, head of the Federal Nuclear Power Agency, to Tehran.
"These contracts have been prepared and will be signed in the near future," Alaeddin Boroujerdi, chairman of the Iranian parliamentary commission for national security and foreign policy, told a news conference at the Interfax main office on Thursday.
Iranian Ambassador to Russia Gholam Reza Shafei, who also attended the news conference, said these agreements may be signed during Rumyantsev's visit to Iran in November.
4. Russia-Iran nuclear energy cooperation doesn't involve military technology - Ivanov
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Nuclear energy cooperation between Moscow and Tehran excludes Iran's use of Russian technologies for military purposes, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said at an informal meeting between NATO and Russian defense ministers in the Romanian town of Poiana Brasov on Thursday.
"Russia is helping Iran build a nuclear power plant in Bushehr. I can assure you that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has strict control over the project, which rules out the possible use of Russian technologies and materials for military purposes," he said.
5. Russian nuclear agency chief meets with Iranian delegation
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Chief of the Russian Federal Nuclear Energy Agency (Rosatom) Alexander Rumyantsev met with a delegation of Iranian parliamentarians in Moscow on Thursday, a Rosatom spokesman told Interfax.
Iranian Ambassador to Russia Gholamreza Shafei also attended the meeting.
"The sides discussed aspects of cooperation between the two countries in employing nuclear energy, developing economic ties between Russia and Iran, and also constructing the first unit of the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran," he said.
6. RUSSIAN SPECIALISTS COMPLETE BUSHEHR PLANT CONSTRUCTION
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Russian specialists have completed the construction of a nuclear power plant in Bushehr, Iranian Vice President Qolam Reza Aqazadeh, head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization, told reporters Wednesday.
"Russian specialists have finished the construction of the nuclear power plant in Bushehr," he said, "and 80% of the equipment for it has already arrived in Iran."
He said, "on Tuesday evening another shipment of equipment for the plant's first unit arrived in the southern Iranian port of Bushehr [Persian Gulf]. It is expected that the rest of the instruments and mechanisms will arrive at the end of March."
He said the pressure from Washington and other Western countries on Russia and Iran would not influence the implementation of this project. "The Russian officials have the political will to complete the first unit of the Bushehr nuclear power plant as soon as possible," he said.
The Bushehr nuclear power plant will be completed in the second half of 2005 and, as has been scheduled, will be put into operation in 2006.
7. With Russian Help, Iran Edges Closer to Nuclear Status
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Shrugging off Western concerns, Russia is moving ahead with plans to supply Iran with nuclear fuel while trying to convince the Islamic republic to comply with U.N. calls to stop enriching uranium.
Iran and Russia have negotiated an agreement under which Tehran will return spent nuclear fuel to Russia, paving the way for a Russian-built 1,000-megawatt light-water nuclear reactor at Bushehr to be completed and eventually begin operations.
"The agreement on returning spent nuclear fuel is in the final stage," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters during an Oct. 10-11 visit to Iran. "I think it will be signed soon."
Moscow said earlier it would not send any nuclear fuel to Iran until the deal is signed. The head of Russia's nuclear energy agency, Alexander Rumyantsev, said that should happen this month.
Under the deal, waste produced at Bushehr containing plutonium that could be used for bomb-making would be shipped back to Russia for storage.
But the material must first be cooled, providing Iran with up to two years during which -- some Western countries fear -- it could extract the plutonium for weapons purposes.
Despite signs that an agreement on returning spent fuel was imminent, Russia and Iran remain at odds over Iran's uranium-enrichment program.
Under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), Iran is allowed to enrich uranium, but it has come under international pressure not to do so because of concerns that it may be pursuing a nuclear weapons program.
Lavrov noted that the board of the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has called on Iran to stop enriching uranium.
It would be in the interests of Iran and others if it responded positively, the Russian said.
But his host, Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi, made it clear that would not happen.
"Nuclear technology, including enriching uranium, is Iran's legitimate right," he said. "There is no talk of stopping it."
Lavrov voiced concern that if Iran did not comply, it could face referral to the U.N. Security Council, which could in turn lead to sanctions.
If imposed, sanctions could threaten the lucrative Bushehr project.
Lavrov said Russia would oppose any attempt to refer Iran to the Security Council, as such a move would be "counter-productive."
Russia has long resisted outside pressure to stop helping Iran develop a nuclear capability by building the Bushehr plant.
Russian officials allege that the criticism is prompted by commercial considerations, saying "competitors" were trying to undermine Russia's nuclear energy exports.
The U.S. and Israel accuse Iran of seeking nuclear weapons, and critics warn that the collaboration could destabilize an already volatile Middle East.
The Sunday Times of London has cited an unnamed Israeli defense source as saying Israel would never allow the Bushehr reactor to go critical and a senior U.S. official as saying it was unlikely Washington would try to block any Israeli strike against Iranian nuclear facilities.
Three months ago, Israel reportedly conducted exercises for a pre-emptive strike against Iranian nuclear targets using long-range F-15I jets.
Israel estimates that without intervention, Iran -- a sworn enemy of the Jewish state -- will be able to build a nuclear bomb by 2007, according to a leaked intelligence report.
1. Russian soldiers to observe nuclear safety training in England
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Russian military experts will observe nuclear safety training scheduled to take place in Great Britain in 2005, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said at a press conference in the Romanian town of Poiana Brasov on Thursday.
"Great Britain came up with the initiative to hold training on protecting nuclear military objects from a terrorist threat," Ivanov said.
He said that issues of providing security and defense for nuclear military facilities, and also the transportation of nuclear weapons will be worked out during the training
Government move to ban radioactive imports pleases environmentalists but angers processing plant workers.
A battle between environmental groups and western nuclear energy firms trying to send radioactive materials to Kyrgyzstan came to a head in recent weeks, with the government siding with locals worried about possible contamination.
On September 28, the Kyrgyz government announced it would block efforts by energy producer British Nuclear Fuels, BNFL, to send uranium-contaminated graphite for processing in Kyrgyzstan.
In a statement, which was re-released in English in London on October 5, the government said it had reached its decision because of safety concerns.
The declaration came after state-owned BNFL tried to send about 1,800 tonnes of uranium-bearing graphite, a byproduct of the nuclear fuel production process, to the Karabalta mining and processing plant, KGRK.
BNFL and other western firms are struggling to dispose of these materials because of strict controls at home and growing environmental opposition in developing nations.
In the civilian sector, uranium is used to fuel commercial power plants and in certain fertilizers, among other things. Exposure to the substance has been linked to several types of cancer.
BNFL maintains that it is not looking to dump radioactive waste in Kyrgyzstan. Instead, it intends to extract uranium and send it back to the UK, leaving the remaining material in Kyrgyzstan, the company says.
Kyrgyz activists are strongly opposed to the British shipments, ï¿½We will not allow the delivery of such dangerous cargo from abroad. If this goes ahead, we demand that the government resignï¿½, Toktaiym Umetalieva, the leader of a coalition of non-governmental groups, told IWPR.
A deal between the plant and BNFL would make economic sense for the British firm, but would be bad news for Kyrgyzstan, which is struggling to cope with existing radioactive waste on its soil, said Peter Roche, a nuclear expert at global environmental campaigner Greenpeace.
ï¿½BNFL not only gets to dispose of its waste in Kyrgyzstan, but will also get back 60 tonnes of useable uranium in returnï¿½, he said.
BNFL spokesman Alan Beauchamp rejected allegations that the company was effectively dumping uranium waste in Kyrgyzstan.
ï¿½We are not looking to dispose of the wasteï¿½, he said, adding that the material that would stay in Kyrgyzstan is not known of as waste but ï¿½processed residueï¿½.
German contractor, RWE Nukem GmbH, which provides services for the nuclear industry, has been trying to arrange the delivery of BNFL consignments of uranium-contaminated graphite to the Kyrgyz plant, but has so far failed to get an import license for it.
The contractor started negotiating with the authorities earlier this year, but in July a group of NGOs sent letters to the government protesting against an official commission's decision to support the deal.
The matter appeared to have been settled after the government gave assurances that the shipments would not go ahead. But the controversy resurfaced again in September when the British media reported that BNFL, through Nukem, was negotiating the delivery of uranium-contaminated graphite - prompting a renewed outcry from Kyrgyz activists and apparently forcing the government to issue its ban.
In an interview with IWPR, a Nukem spokesman denied claims that they were organising the dumping of radioactive material, insisting that it was merely being sent for processing. He added that Kyrgyzstan has been processing uranium-containing raw material for 45 years and had been receiving such consignments from Kazakstan quite recently.
For the workers in the Karabalta plant, one of the few factories in the world that separates uranium from graphite, the governmentï¿½s decision imperils their livelihoods.
ï¿½We havenï¿½t been paid for half a year, and we donï¿½t have raw materials to work with. Our plant was built to process uranium, nothing else. What should we do, die of starvation?ï¿½, said a KGRK employee, who wished to remain anonymous.
Boris Karpachov, the head of the radiation safety service at the Governmental State Agency for Geology and Mineral Resources, lashed out at the groups trying to derail the contract with BNFL.
ï¿½KGRK is looking for partners, trying to survive, while NGOs are busy with their intrigues and demagogy, preventing contracts from being signed, which are the only chance for the workers and for all residents of Karabaltaï¿½, he said.
Karpachov argued that money made by the factory would allow the country to address economic and social problems, and pay to cleanup and maintain pits containing processed radioactive material.
The BNFL is holding out for a decision in its favour despite the governments categorical statement banning its proposed shipments.
Company spokesman Beauchamp insisted that BNFL has not received any official notification about the ban.
ï¿½We will find an alternative to the Kyrgyz plant if necessary but we do not have any lined up at the moment because we hope to get the [Kyrgyz import] licenceï¿½.
The State Duma's Energy, Transport and Communications Committee suggested that the Russian government should include the project of designing closed fuel cycle nuclear reactors in the Federal Target Program "Energy-efficient Economy" for 2005 and on a longer term to 2010.
The decision was made at an extended session of the committee on Wednesday attended by heads of atomic energy enterprises.
The committee also recommended the government to take into account the need of funding this program during the work over draft budget-2005.
Pointed out at the session of the committee was the fact that further development of the atomic energy industry based on designing and commissioning of fast neutron nuclear units with closed fuel cycle is one of promising directions which should promote stable development of the Russian economy in the years to come.
Oleg Saraev, director of Rosenergoatom concern, said that fuel wastes of fast neutron reactors with closed fuel cycle did not pose any threat to the environment, since the wastes "are burnt out in course of the cycle".
As for today's nuclear power plants, they produce long-decay fuel wastes, Mr. Saraev pointed out. In his opinion, new reactors' technologies are such that "even leakage of fuel materials will not entail their use for the terrorists' purpose".
Chairman of the environmental committee Vladimir Grachev said that he was pleased that the atomic energy industry, which "has been giving rise to environmental problems" was "settling them now".
"This is the proper way of developing the atomic energy industry", emphasized Mr. Grachev.
1. Radiation Levels From Soviet Nuclear Tests, Chernobyl Declining in Arctic, Study Says
Global Security Newswire
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Radiation from Soviet nuclear weapons tests and the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident is beginning to decline in the Arctic, according to a study released yesterday by the international Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program.
The group conducted its study between 1991 and 2002, according to the Associated Press.
ï¿½The levels are going down in the Arctic, which is a good thing. But it has taken much longer than in the rest of the world,ï¿½ said Per Strand of the Norwegian Nuclear Protection Authority, whose agency led the study in cooperation with the Russian environment and meteorology agency Roshydromet.
Experts added, however, that the far northern part of the region is still threatened by sizable stockpiles of aging post-Soviet nuclear weapons, submarines, power plants and waste in northwest Russia.
ï¿½The Arctic is the most sensitive region for nuclear fallout, yet parts of the Arctic have the worldï¿½s greatest concentration of nuclear materials,ï¿½ Strand told the Associated Press.
The Kola Peninsula in northwest Russia, site of the worldï¿½s highest concentration of nuclear materials, poses the greatest risk, according to Strand.
For the first time ever, NATO trainers will conduct NATO-Russia interoperability courses at military academies in Moscow from 11 to 22 October 2004.
The aim of the courses is to provide a large audience of officers from various education and training institutions with an overview of NATO including structures, functioning, operations, NATOï¿½s crisis management and NATO crisis response operations.
Organised by the NATO School in Oberammergau, Germany, the courses are part of the Exercise and Training Programme agreed on by the NATO-Russia Council in November 2003.
The programme is specially designed to help NATO and Russia prepare for possible joint peacekeeping and crisis management operations.
The first course, 11-15 October, will be conducted in the General Staff Academy. The second course, 18-22 October, will be conducted in the Combined Arms Academy.
2. Bush Sent Domenici Plan Expanding U.S. Nonproliferation Work to Global Stage
Office of Sen. Pete Domenici
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Congress has completed work on a bill that will greatly expand the scope of U.S. nonproliferation activities through proposals authored by U.S. Senator Pete Domenici to accelerate work to control nuclear materials and equipment wherever they are in the world.
Senate and House negotiators gave final approval to the FY2005 Defense Authorization Bill with two major provisions authored by Domenici related to expansion and acceleration of the United States nonproliferation program. The bill now goes to President Bush.
One Domenici effort authorizes an extensive array of programsï¿½all with a global reachï¿½to accelerate the removal or improve the security of fissile materials, radiological materials, and equipment.
The second allows the Department of Energy to accept international payments and apply them directly toward the U.S.-led effort to shutdown Russiaï¿½s remaining plutonium reactors in Seversk and Zheleznogorsk. These activities were proposed and initiated through President Bushï¿½s Global Threat Reduction Initiative. Without the Domenici proposal, international contributions would go into a general fund without any assurances they would be put toward decommissioning costs, which have escalated from $460 million to $1.1 billion.
ï¿½The threat of nuclear materials spreading around the world makes this a global problem, and responsible governments around the world recognize this. However, the American taxpayer does not have to shoulder all costs for this work just because the United States is the world leader in nonproliferation activities. My amendment will help defray U.S. costs and encourage international cooperation,ï¿½ Domenici said.
ï¿½These Russian plutonium reactors produce enough plutonium each year to create as many as 300 nuclear weapons. We need to move quickly to shut these down,ï¿½ he said.
Allowing direct international payments to DOE will also give partner countries legal protections under the Plutonium Production Reactor Agreement. Giving DOE greater capacity to use international contributions should also help complete shutdown of the Russian reactors by the 2011 target date.
House conferees agreed to accept Domeniciï¿½s Senate-passed amendment to accelerate work to secure, remove or eliminate proliferation attractive fissile or radiological materials anywhere in the world. The amendment had broad bipartisan support in the Senate, including Senator Jeff Bingaman who cosponsored it.
ï¿½We are effectively giving DOE, in coordination with other federal agencies, the tools it needs to minimize proliferation risks from nuclear materials anywhere in the world. While our U.S.-Russian focus is important, it is important that we make this a global cause,ï¿½ Domenici said. ï¿½There are too many threats developing all over the world that we must face now.ï¿½
ï¿½We cannot be successful in our efforts to defeat global terrorism if we don't have a comprehensive plan in place to prevent nuclear materials from ending up in the wrong hands. This amendment makes securing and safely storing these materials a national priority,ï¿½ Bingaman said.
The Domenici plan, among other things, authorizes arrangements to provide secure shipment and storage of such materials either in the United States or abroad. It addresses improving security at sites by upgrading protections at functional sites or improving security at vulnerable or decommissioned sites. Other aspects of the amendment authorize programs to assist displaced employees and convert sties to new activities.
The legislation authorizes support to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and moves to accelerate the development of alternative fuels and radiation targets to replace reactor systems that rely on highly enriched uranium (HEU). It authorizes programs to hasten the conversion of reactor systems, including many research reactors that are fueled by HEU, to alternative fuels.
The Domenici amendments expand the scope of a nonproliferation initiative he authored in the FY2003 Defense Authorization Act that built on existing programs and created new cooperative initiatives for the United States and Russia to control, protect and neutralize materials and weapons of mass destruction. It also reauthorized the First Responder training program to improve domestic preparedness.
The FY2005 Defense Authorization Bill now requires final approval in both the House and Senate before it can be forwarded to President Bush. It is unknown whether final votes will occur before Congress recesses for the fall elections or during a subsequent lame duck session.
Domenici is chairman of the Senate appropriations subcommittee that funds the Energy Department and its nonproliferation activities. Work to complete the FY2005 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill, which will fund the nonproliferation activities covered in the Defense Authorization Bill, is expected later this year.
The DOE national labs in New Mexicoï¿½Sandia and Los Alamosï¿½are involved in U.S. nonproliferation programs.
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