1. Chemical weapons to be completely destroyed in Russia by 2012
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Chemical weapons that are stored in Russia since shortly after the World War Two times will be destroyed completely by 2012, adviser of the federal agency for safe storage and destruction of chemical weapons of the Defence Ministry Anatoly Karpov who is in Kaliningrad at a meeting of the international club of directors told Itar-Tass.
According to Karpov, ï¿½40,000 tonnes of chemical weapons were accumulated in Russia and have not been produced for 60 years, but its warranty term is limited. Apart from Russia 22 countries are involved in the international programme of the disposal of chemical weapons. As much as 11.8 billion roubles are allocated for the implementation of the programme from the federal budget in 2005, donor countries invest the same sum.
As many as 2,000 tonnes of chemical weapons have been destroyed at the disposal plant Gorny in the Saratov region this year. The first lines of disposal plants in Udmurtia and the Kirov region will be commissioned in 2005. Their capacities are designed for the disposal of 3,000 tonnes of chemical weapons.
According to the plans, 8,000 tonnes of chemical weapons will have been disposed by 2008, Karpov pointed out.
2. WESTERN PARTNERS NOT TOO QUICK TO FINANCE RUSSIAN CHEMICAL ARSENAL DESTRUCTION, SAYS EXPERT
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Russia's partners in the West are not active enough with financial assistance to Russia as it is destroying its chemical arsenals, Russia's state commission for chemical disarmament and the Federation Council, parliament's upper house, point out together.
The information comes from Senator Valentin Zavadnikov. He is state commission member, and leads the Federation Council committee for industrial policies. "I think our Western partners' conduct ought to be more correct," he remarked.
The state commission held session, last July, to take stock of chemical weapon destruction efforts. The conferees said they were alarmed with financing a related programme. Expert consultations with the federal government followed to bring a resolution, on which federal target allocations were doubled. 11.16 billion roubles has been earmarked for next year, as against this year's 5.3 billion, roughly US$180 million. With such financing, Russia will afford to comply with the Convention on Chemical Arms Prohibition as its implementation reaches a second stage, 2007.
The Federation Council made a parliamentary inquiry, October 13, with Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov to express its alarm as the Russian chemical arms destruction programme was badly underfinanced.
"Inadequate financing also hampers construction of chemical arms destruction projects. Only one, in Gorny, Saratov Region, has been commission for now out of a total six blueprinted," says the inquiry.
More than that, Russia has received this year a token 3 per cent of sums internationally earmarked as target financial aid to Russia, the document goes on emphatically.
As the international Convention on the Prohibition of Development, Manufacture, Stockpiling, Use and Proliferation of Chemical Arms has it, Russia is to destroy, by 2007, 20 per cent of all chemical arsenals it has inherited from the USSR. The arsenals must be entirely destroyed before 2012.
The convention, which Russia ratified in 1997, schedules four destruction stages. The first concerns 1 per cent of the entire stock, the second 20 per cent, the third 45 per cent, and the last all remaining weaponry.
Russia possesses lump 40,000 tonnes of chemical agents, stocked up in seven arsenals all over the country. Kambarka has 15.9% of the whole; Gorny 2.9%; Kizner, Udmurt Republic, 14.2%; Maradykovsky, Kirov Region, 17.4%; Pochep, Bryanch Region, 18.8%; Leonidovka, Penza Region, 17.2%; and Schuchye, Kurgan Region, 13.6%.
With uncertainties increasing about supplies of natural gas and oil, nuclear energy is making a powerful global comeback, prompting concerns about atomic terrorism in the post-Sept. 11 era.
A number of countries around the world, from China to Finland and the United States, are gearing up to build new reactors as demand for electricity grows. Governments are also viewing nuclear power as a way to curb emissions of greenhouse gases, given intensifying concern over global warming.
But the prospect of an atomic renaissance is raising the uncomfortable question of whether an expansion of nuclear power is compatible with the fight against terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
"Neither politics nor technology has an answer to this question right now," Gerard Stoudman, director of the Geneva Center for Security Policy, said in an interview at a recent international conference on homeland security.
"It's really bad timing," said Alain Marsaud, president of the domestic security group in the French Parliament.
"We're coming to the end of the economic use of fossil fuels at a time when terrorists are trying to get their hands on nuclear material or target nuclear infrastructure," Marsaud said in an interview at the conference, which was held in Geneva. "If the world is condemned to use more nuclear power, it will be a real challenge."
With 439 reactors operating in 31 countries around the world, nuclear power accounts for about 16 percent of global power production today, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency. And with demand for electricity expected to increase almost fivefold over the next five decades, the agency says reactor capacity could quadruple by 2050.
The Far East is projected to lead worldwide growth over the next two decades, more than doubling its output.
Experts at the UN energy agency cite three risks in the expansion of nuclear power: theft by terrorists of weapons-grade plutonium stripped out from radioactive waste during reprocessing; an attack on a nuclear installation or transport convoy; and, as suspected with Iran and North Korea, an attempt by countries developing a nuclear power sector to build weapons with the same technology.
"If you have more nuclear material in the world, you have a higher proliferation risk - it's a truism," said Alan McDonald, a nuclear expert at the agency. But with demand for electricity increasing across the globe, he added, nuclear energy remains important despite the risks.
Signaling the nuclear revival, 31 reactors are currently under construction worldwide. China plans to add 32 nuclear power plants to its existing 11 by 2020, while India, currently with 14 plants, aims to triple its reactor capacity over the next eight years.
Japan, South Korea, Ukraine, Romania and Argentina are all in the process of adding to nuclear capacity as well.
Finland recently commissioned the first new plant in Western Europe since 1999. France - the biggest per-capita user of nuclear energy in the world - is planning to build one shortly (the site has not yet been chosen), and British officials are softening their language on nuclear energy.
Loyola de Palacio, the European Union's departing energy commissioner, said last month that the EU would have to retain the option of building up its nuclear capacity. "With the challenge of climate change, the EU cannot avoid nuclear energy for the foreseeable future," she said.
Even in the United States, where no new reactor has been built since the partial meltdown at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania in 1979, the nuclear industry is stirring - not least because of encouraging noises from the Bush administration.
Twenty-six U.S. plants have received 20-year extensions of their operating licenses and 18 others have applied for extensions at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, after the administration streamlined the relicensing process.
Three plant operators, Exelon, Dominion and Entergy, have asked the commission to approve sites for future reactors, although no concrete plans for building them have been announced yet. And Westinghouse, architect of nearly half of the world's nuclear power plants, had its design for a plant known as the "advanced reactor" approved by the commission on Sept. 13.
The industry, said Steve Kerekes, a spokesman for the Nuclear Energy Institute, America's nuclear industry group, is at the starting gate.
"We are positioning ourselves for the fact that over the next decade our country will need a lot more electricity," Kerekes said. The goal for the industry, he said, is to raise its share of American electricity generation from the current 20 percent to 24 percent over the next 15 years. If natural gas prices keep rising, it will become economical to pay the hefty price - about $3 billion each - of building new nuclear plants, he said.
The risk of terrorists targeting nuclear infrastructure was made plain on Sept. 11, 2001. Since then, Western policy makers, from President George W. Bush to the EU's security chief, Javier Solana, have explicitly made the fight against nuclear terrorism a priority. Bush has said that Americans' "highest priority is to keep terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction." His Democratic challenger in next month's presidential election, Senator John Kerry, put it this way in a speech in June: "No material. No bomb. No terrorism."
At nuclear plants in many countries, 9/11 has led to stricter security requirements. In the United States since the terror attacks, plant owners will have spent an extra $1 billion by the end of this year on more restrictive access controls, heavily armed guards, additional training for their security personnel and vehicle checks in an enlarged perimeter around the reactors to avoid truck bombs.
According to Wolfgang Krï¿½ger, a nuclear engineer and vice president of the International Risk and Governance Council, an independent foundation with headquarters in Geneva, the danger of terrorists targeting nuclear infrastructure or transport vehicles has been played up by opponents. "There are a lot of much simpler ways to do damage and kill people," he argues.
But with most of the projected growth in nuclear power taking place in the developing world, where safety measures may not match the same standards, concerns are growing.
Perhaps the greatest worry circulating in national defense departments and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Brussels is the development of nuclear weapons on the back of civilian energy programs.
This dilemma goes to the heart of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, of which the International Atomic Energy Agency is the guardian. In addition to nuclear disarmament, the treaty commits its 184 signatories to police and control the proliferation of nuclear material and at the same time obliges nuclear powers to offer nuclear technology to others for electricity generation.
But as one senior diplomat at NATO put it: "You cannot artificially separate the civilian from the military aspect - everyone here is aware of that. As such, you also cannot separate the debate on nuclear proliferation from the debate on alternative sources of energy."
Every state that has sought to develop a nuclear weapons program since the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty came into effect in 1970 has done so on the back of civilian power or nuclear research programs - from Israel to India and Pakistan and, according to its government, North Korea.
The motivation for building nuclear weapons has increased with the spread of nuclear power, as countries view neighbors' stockpiles of civilian material with suspicion. To justify its weapons program, North Korea cites the five tons of radioactive material now stockpiled in Japan.
The International Atomic Energy Agency wants to curb proliferation by securing the nuclear fuel cycle with a process called fuel leasing, McDonald said. Rather than exporting enrichment or reprocessing technology to newcomers, the agency maintains, nuclear powers should export lightly enriched uranium, which cannot be used to make a bomb, and subsequently take back the radioactive waste, which contains plutonium.
But opponents say the proposal is flawed for two reasons: It would lead to the regular transport of radioactive material across the globe, potentially tempting terrorists. And it risks meeting public opposition in Europe, where the issue of radioactive waste has been one of the main reasons for public skepticism toward nuclear energy.
"These solutions don't stand up in the real world," said Mike Townsley, director of communications for Greenpeace International. "You'd get shipments crisscrossing the planet every week, and I think you'll find that people in the U.K. or Russia would not tolerate an influx of radioactive waste.''
2. US admits its borders are not 'dirty bomb' proof
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The US government has admitted its network of border radiation detectors designed to prevent the smuggling of a "dirty bomb" could be fooled, in a conclusion that lends credence to charges voiced by Democrat John Kerry during the presidential campaign.
The Department of Homeland Security said, in a report by its inspector general, that the performance of its detection equipment installed at ports and border crossings "is reduced by certain factors."
"The analysis described the distances beyond which the detection equipment would no longer detect the radiation source," Inspector General Clark Kent Ervin said in a thoroughly sanitized report, an unclassified version of which was released Thursday.
Specific findings about the system's flaws will remain secret to avoid tipping off potential terrorists, officials said.
The investigation was launched at the request of two high-level congressional Democrats, John Dingell of Michigan and Jim Turner of Texas, alarmed by recent media reports indicating that despite all efforts by the administration of President George W. Bush to shore up border security, the nation's borders remain porous -- even to smuggled nuclear devices.
The outcry first erupted two years ago, when ABC News managed to successfully bring into the country nearly seven kilograms (15 pounds) of depleted uranium in a suitcase.
The uranium, purchased in the former Soviet Union and stashed in a cylinder shielded with lead, was first brought by train to Austria, then shipped to Istanbul, Turkey, where it was loaded onto a US-bound cargo ship and successfully made it to its destination.
According to the report, the US Customs Service failed to detect the radioactive material despite the fact that the crate, in which it was traveling, was classified as a "high-risk" shipment.
The department did not explain the reasons for the failure, but pointed out that the uranium was placed in the middle of a large container filled with huge vases and Turkish horse carts.
The sting operation was repeated in August 2003, when ABC News placed a similar uranium-filled cylinder into a teak trunk and sent it to the United States from Jakarta, Indonesia, in a container full of furniture.
As it the first case, the uranium arrived undetected.
In a subdued tone, the report accepted the department's responsibility, saying "the protocols and procedures that ... officials followed, at the time of the two smuggling incidents, were not adequate to detect the depleted uranium."
The inspector general assured that technological and procedural improvements have since been made. But Congressman Turner, the ranking member of the House homeland security committee, remained skeptical.
"It is hard to see how the government can reassure anyone based on the inspector general's report," he told the television network. "The sad state of affairs is that three years after 9/11 it still seems possible to get nuclear material into this country."
With homeland security topping this year's election agenda, Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee, has repeatedly complained that nearly seven million cargo containers arrive in US ports each year, but only five percent of them are physically inspected.
"We will reduce the spread of nuclear and biological and chemical weapons and better guard our ports," the Massachusetts senator said in one of his stump speeches.
The proposal by the European Union big three states of France, Germany and Britain, which would require Iran to give up its program to develop the complete nuclear fuel cycle, is quite illegal and runs counter to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the additional protocol, and safeguards agreement.
The announcement came after a meeting of the Group of Eight industrial powers in Washington where the EU trio presented a package of "carrots and sticks" aimed at pressing Iran to halt uranium enrichment. What is the logic behind this proposal when investigations by the International Atomic Energy Agency has shown that there is no hard evidence that Iran has sought any nuclear weapons program? When Iran has implemented the additional protocol and is still maintaining that it is prepared to give more and more assurances about the peaceful nature of its nuclear program what is the justification for such proposal?
The investigations by the International Atomic Energy Agency have proved that the more inspections are conducted the more light is cast on the true nature of Iranï¿½s nuclear program; the most sensitive issue between Iran and the IAEA was the origin of highly enriched uranium (HEU) which was finally settled after the UN nuclear agency confirmed a statement by the Iranian officials that the HEU has been brought to the country through imported material.
Regarding these realities on the ground the analysts question the validity of this proposal and say a new plot may be on the offing. They say when the EU trio backtracked on its October 21 commitments in providing Iran with nuclear technology in return for an acceptance of the additional protocol and a renege on its promise of closing Iranï¿½s nuclear dossier at the June meeting of the IAEA board of governors in return for suspending the manufacture of centrifuges what is the guarantee that they would not stop selling nuclear fuel to Iran.
Iran will not agree to cease nuclear work: official
A top official told AFP Saturday that Iran will reject any European proposal for a complete cessation of its work on the nuclear fuel cycle, but might be willing to consider further "confidence-building" measures and extend its suspension of uranium enrichment.
"We would be willing to consider any package that recognizes the full right of Iran to enjoy peaceful nuclear technology within the framework of the NPT," Hossein Musavian, a senior national security official involved in the nuclear negotiations, said in an interview. However he added that Iran is not prepared for cessation and any package including a cessation of fuel cycle work would be rejected by Iran.
His comments came after Britain, France and Germany have been spearheading negotiations with Iran, told the United States they will offer Iran incentives in the coming days to persuade it to halt uranium enrichment. Diplomats say the "EU Three" package would give Iran access to imported nuclear fuel and other perks in return for a total suspension of its fuel cycle work.
But Musavian said Iran instead expected the IAEA to recognize its right under the NPT to possess the full nuclear fuel cycle. And if this may be the case, Islamic republic was ready to consider extending its suspension of uranium enrichment and discuss new initiatives that would provide long-term guarantees that the process would never be diverted to military purposes. He added that the fuel cycle is definitely a legitimate right of every member of the IAEA, and cessation would be discrimination against an IAEA member".
Talking in terms of confidence-building measures, he reiterated that cooperation with the IAEA, total transparency and other confidence-building measures that are required to assure the world that that all enrichment activities would always remain peaceful and never be for military purposes. "If they have a mistrust of our future enrichment activities and fear its diversion to nuclear weapons, this chapter is open to the IAEA to implement a mechanism that assures it remains peaceful." Musavian said.
there are two condition if they are really serious about the implementation of the package. There are two conditions: the rights of Iran are respected and the contents of the package," he said of the forthcoming EU-Three proposal.
"Is it sellable? Are they serious in implementing the package? Mistrust is bilateral. If the Americans and the Europeans do not trust Iran, we cannot trust them," he added. "If they want suspension for cessation, we do not want a deal. If they want suspension for confidence building, we are prepared to think about it."
"We really believe weapons of mass destruction do not bring security for any country. Not Pakistan, India or Israel. They would never be able to use these weapons, so they are just for power prestige. Hundreds of millions of dollars spent for nothing," he said.
Referring to the 1980-1988 war with Iraq, he said "Iran was the first victim of weapons of mass destruction after World War II." "But we did not retaliate with mass destruction weapons: that is confidence building," he asserted, accusing the Europeans of "double-standards" by pressuring Iran and not Israel, the only state in the Middle East believed to currently possess nuclear arms.
State Department spokesman Tom Casey said Friday that the EU three indicated they will be presenting their idea to Iran next week. Others said they still were not sure if Russia, a key player in Iran's nuclear ambitions, was on board. Moscow may be waiting for results of the EU talks with Iran and the next IAEA report on Iran's program.
At the meeting, "we reaffirmed our view today and we also emphasized to our G8 partners that Iran should not be allowed to defy any longer the requirements and requests called for in the past five IAEA board resolutions," the State Department's Casey said. A European diplomat told Reuters, "The mood at the end of the meeting was that the EU-Three will go ahead with their proposal and the U.S. did not object to that."
A European official who attended the meeting said that there have never been identical points of view and there was no expectation that any government would change its point of view.
EU officials acknowledge that Europe alone cannot offer Iran big enough incentives to abandon its nuclear enrichment activities, without the prospect of the United States ending its isolation of Tehran.
Democratic White House candidate Senator John Kerry is interested in a deal and some U.S. officials are thinking about how to move in that direction if a new president asks for advice.
The French foreign ministry said on Saturday France and its G8 partners should call for a complete suspension by Iran of its advanced uranium enrichment program.
"Time is of the essence. France will continue to work with its partners and the Iranian authorities... towards the complete suspension by Iran of its enrichment and reprocessing activities," the ministry said in a press statement.
A top Iranian lawmaker said here Thursday that Iran would bar international nuclear inspections in its country if debate on its nuclear program is taken up in the UN Security Council.
If the issue goes to the Security Council "there will be no place for any kind of inspections, no continuation of our openness" with IAEA inspectors, Aladdin Broujerdi, chairman of the Iranian parliament's committee on national security and foreign affairs said at a news conference.
The United States has pushed for examination of Iran's nuclear program to be taken up in the Security Council, while Russia reiterated Wednesday that it opposed such a move.
Broujerdi met with a host of top officials in Moscow ahead of a visit by Alexander Rumyantsev, head of Russia's atomic energy agency, to the Bushehr nuclear power station in Iran that Russia is building and that Iran wants to have online by next year.
Rumyantsev could sign an agreement on return to Russia of spent nuclear fuel from the plant during his visit, expected in November, "if commercial issues are resolved by that time," Iran's ambassador to Russia, Gholamreza Shafei, told the press conference.
The United States has opposed the 800 million-dollar plant project over concerns that spent fuel from the plant could be used by Iran to produce low-yield nuclear weapons. Boujerdi said Iran's nuclear program would focus on producing power for civilian use and would include medical and biological research.
"The American argument that we have oil and gas resources and therefore we don't need nuclear power sounds like a joke," Boujerdi said.
"One day the resources will run out and we are responsible to future generations of our people."
1. Russia, U.S. Complete Initial Security Upgrades at Russian Strategic Rocket Forces Sites
Global Security Newswire
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The United States and Russia last month completed initial projects to help improve security at Russian nuclear weapons sites, a U.S. Energy Department official said Friday.
Upgrades at two Russian military bases are part of an effort by the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration to improve security at 17 sites controlled by the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces. Work at the pilot projects, which were those Moscow felt ï¿½comfortable with starting off with,ï¿½ began in late-summer 2003, the Energy Department official said.
The NNSA program, set to be completed by fiscal 2008, involves installing ï¿½rapidï¿½ and ï¿½comprehensiveï¿½ security upgrades at some of Russiaï¿½s ï¿½most sensitiveï¿½ nuclear weapons sites, according to the Energy Department official. The official refused to provide detail on what the upgrades entailed, describing them in general terms as ï¿½physical protectionï¿½ improvements.
Russian contractors and NNSA teams design the security upgrade for a particular site; the measures are installed by Russian contractors and take about 28 months to complete, according to the Energy Department. Once the upgrade is complete, the National Nuclear Security Administration contracts with Russian firms for preventive maintenance, repairs and personnel training. Cost estimates for work at each of the 17 sites range from $10 million to $15 million ï¿½to do a complete job,ï¿½ the official said.
The Energy Department official said a ï¿½very positive working relationshipï¿½ was established with Moscow in the programï¿½s early stages.
ï¿½We havenï¿½t experienced any difficulties,ï¿½ the official said. ï¿½I canï¿½t see any hurdles in the process.ï¿½
All of the 17 sites where security upgrades are to be installed have been selected by Moscow, the Energy Department official said. No effort has been made to prioritize work at the sites, the official said, adding that the security level was ï¿½pretty uniform.ï¿½
According to a report released in May by Harvard Universityï¿½s Project on Managing the Atom, U.S.-funded efforts to date have installed rapid security upgrades at about 50 percent of Russian sites containing nuclear weapons and comprehensive security upgrades at about 5 percent of those sites.
One of the reportï¿½s authors, Matthew Bunn, said today that the pilot projects were ï¿½a very promising developmentï¿½ and that they demonstrated that ï¿½a genuinely cooperative approach ï¿½ can get the job done.ï¿½
While noting that ï¿½on average,ï¿½ security at Russian nuclear warhead sites was considered better than security at sites housing nuclear materials, Bunn said that it was ï¿½very urgentï¿½ to install security upgrades at warhead-related sites. He added that Russian officials have confirmed that terrorists groups have conducted reconnaissance missions on such sites. Russian officials have not specified whether such sites included those controlled by the Strategic Rocket Forces, Bunn added.
The Energy Department official said that negotiations are under way on contracts to conduct security upgrades at Strategic Rocket Forces sites beyond the initial 17. In addition to Energy Department efforts, the U.S. Defense Department is conducting work at one Strategic Rocket Forces site, the official said. The official declined to say how many sites exist in Russia.
The work to improve security at Russian Strategic Rocket Forces sites builds on the ï¿½successï¿½ achieved in a U.S.-funded effort to install security upgrades at about 50 Russian Navy-related sites, the Energy Department official said. The National Nuclear Security Administration began work at Russian Navy sites in the late 1990s and is set to complete final security upgrades by fiscal 2006, according to the Energy Department.
1. RUSSIA FOR SETTLING ALL QUESTIONS ON IRAN'S NUCLEAR SCHEME
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Russia is speaking out for settling all remaining questions on the transparency and character of Iran's nuclear programme, the Russian Foreign Ministry's Information and Press Department commented on a meeting of G8 political leaders, which took place in Washington on October 15th to discuss Iran's nuclear scheme.
"We are consistently standing for settling all unclosed questions as related to the transparency and character of Iran's nuclear programme within the framework of constructive co-operation between Iran and IAEA. We are speaking in favour of switching the agency's control functions onto a normal track, similar to that of most member states of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons," the comment says.
"Among questions under discussion were measures to follow the task, set in the declaration of the Sea Island summit of G8, namely to remove concerns on the effect of Iran's nuclear programme on nuclear non-proliferation and to comply entirely with the Treaty and the Safeguards Agreement," the Russian Foreign Ministry reported.
Those at the consultation also focused on efforts made to find decisions via diplomatic means.
"These efforts will be continued in the weeks to come to find decisions before a regular session of the IAEA Board of Governors due in November, the comment points out.
"We are seeking mutually acceptable understanding with our partners and Iranian colleagues, taking into consideration corresponding resolutions of the IAEA's Board of Governors, which call on Iran to suspend the enrichment and processing of nuclear materials as a confidence building measure," the document of the Russian Foreign Ministry says.
2. Russia to continue promoting Iran-IAEA cooperation
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Russia will continue promoting constructive cooperation between Iran and the IAEA, says a commentary by the Russian Foreign Ministry's Information and Press Department released on Monday. The commentary covers the outcome of the G-8 political directors that was held in Washington on October 15.
"In our view, a useful discussion was held on ways to achieve the goals set in the Sea Island G-8 summit, in particular, to quell concerns over the consequences of the Iranian nuclear program for nuclear nonproliferation and to have Iran meet all its commitments under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and the agreement on guarantees," the commentary says.
3. Moscow urges Tehran to sign NPT protocol, halt enrichment
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Russia called on Iran on Sunday to ease world concerns about its nuclear ambitions by ratifying the additional protocol of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and halting all uranium enrichment, the Ria-Novosti news agency reported.
"The IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) would like to seek more steps to strengthen trust in Iran's nuclear programme, and Iran must take such steps," Foreign Minister Serguei Lavrov was quoted as saying in the Tajik capital Dushanbe.
Lavrov urged the Iranian parliament to ratify the additional protocol of the NPT, which Tehran signed in December 2003 and which steps up international controls on the nuclear activities of signatory states.
He also called on Tehran to immediately freeze all uranium enrichment activities, another key demand of the international community, Ria-Novosti reported.
The uranium enrichment process produces fuel for civilian reactors but is also used for production of the explosive core of atomic bombs.
Washington alleges Iran is secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons, a charge Iran denies.
The IAEA has set a November 25 deadline for Iran to suspend uranium enrichment activities and answer all questions about its nuclear ambitions. It risks being referred to the Security Council, something the United States has been pushing for.
Russia's foreign minister last Sunday said his country was opposed to seeing Iran referred to the UN Security Council over its nuclear programme.
Lavrov also emphasised that Russia's help in building Iran's first nuclear power station in the southern city of Bushehr "was absolutely not a cause for concern at the IAEA" and vowed that Moscow would forge ahead with the project.
The United States has also opposed the project over concerns that spent fuel from the plant could be used by Iran to produce low-yield nuclear weapons.
Lavrov is accompanying President Vladimir Putin on a visit to Tajikistan for the opening of Russia's largest military base outside its border in a bid to boost Moscow's defense in former Soviet territories that have become overrun by Islamic insurgency and a growing drug trade.
Sanctions against Iran would threaten the Bushehr project Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said Iran must take more steps to dispel concern about its nuclear programme, Russian media have reported.
He said Iran should ratify a protocol signed last year with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and end its uranium enrichment programme.
Iran says it will reject any proposal for a complete halt to such activities.
The UK, France and Germany are to present a package aimed at convincing Tehran to give up nuclear ambitions.
Iranian press on new initiative
The Iranian government is expected to receive the proposal next week.
The IAEA has set a deadline of the end of November for Iran to suspend all uranium enrichment-related activities.
The US accuses Iran of aiming to develop nuclear weapons, but Iran says its nuclear programme is purely for peaceful purposes.
Correspondents say Washington still favours UN sanctions against Iran but is prepared to give the Europeans a final opportunity to negotiate a settlement before next month's deadline.
Russia is opposed to sanctions, which could threaten its $800m deal to build Iran's Bushehr nuclear power station.
Mr Lavrov said there were specific steps Tehran could take to calm IAEA fears about its nuclear programme.
"The IAEA would like to see more steps promoting greater trust in the Iranian nuclear programme and Iran must take such steps," the Russian Interfax news agency quoted him as saying.
He specified that Iran should ratify a protocol it signed last year allowing for additional IAEA inspections, and impose a moratorium on its enrichment programme.
But the Russian minister said Russia would continue to co-operate with Iran on construction at Bushehr.
Efforts to get Iran to abandon enrichment have been a failure so far, yet prospects of imposing effective sanctions on Iran through the UN Security Council are uncertain to say the least, says BBC News Online's world affairs correspondent Paul Reynolds.
National security official Hossein Mousavian said on Saturday that Tehran would not be deprived of its legitimate right to a nuclear fuel cycle.
Mr Mousavian's words appeared to confirm the lack of optimism that an offer to Iran would work.
However, he said Iran was ready to consider continuing its suspension of uranium enrichment and discuss new initiatives to provide guarantees that the process would never be diverted to military purposes.
Our correspondent says Britain, France and Germany feel there is a window of opportunity ahead of a meeting of the IAEA on 25 November.
The European offer is said to include a pledge to resume EU-Iran trade talks.
It is also thought to include guarantees that Iran will have access to nuclear fuel from Russia.
5. Russia wants to build more nuclear plants in Iran
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Russia will build more nuclear reactors for Iran when a diplomatic stand-off over its atomic programme subsides, Russia's atomic watchdog said on Friday.
The United States says Iran can use Russian know-how to make nuclear weapons. Despite U.S. pressure, Moscow has already built one reactor in Iran and is preparing to start it up in 2005-06.
"The Iranian side has told us they want more nuclear reactors, and if the political aspect does not harm that, Russia will build more reactors there," said Andrei Malyshev, head of Russia's federal nuclear supervision service.
Diplomats in Moscow say Russia, whose foreign minister was in Iran earlier this week, has promised to step up nuclear cooperation with Tehran if Iran works more closely with the U.N. nuclear watchdog.
Russia's closed-door dealings with Iran are closely watched after Moscow helped persuade Tehran last year to suspend uranium enrichment work -- which can be used to develop nuclear arms.
The International Atomic Energy Agency is due to discuss Iran's nuclear programme in late November. The issue is also likely to be a focus of this week's meeting of the Group of Eight industrialised countries in Washington.
"Our experts are currently discussing the construction of a second reactor. It's a very serious project," Malyshev said.
The 1,000-megawatt Bushehr plant, originally built by a German firm but abandoned at the time of the 1979 Iranian Revolution, is a major stumbling block in Russia-U.S. ties.
But Moscow and Tehran, while maintaining that Iran's nuclear programme is peaceful, have long discussed Russia's possible participation in further nuclear projects in Iran.
For Russia, Iran is a key market in the Middle East as it seeks a bigger share of the global nuclear industry.
Malyshev said it was more feasible to build a new reactor from scratch -- possibly also near the port of Bushehr -- rather than rebuilding the remaining reactor at the Bushehr plant.
"Iranian experts have asked us to analyse whether it's better to finish the existing reactor or build an entirely new one," he said. "Preliminary analysis has shown that building a reactor from scratch is better ... and cheaper."
The first reactor cost Russia more than $1 billion, according to latest estimates, and it took both countries more than a decade to launch it.
6. Russia, Iran discuss all aspects of cooperation said Alaeddin Boroujerdi
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Russia and Iran discussed all aspects of cooperation, said Alaeddin Boroujerdi, head of the Majlis foreign policy and national security commission.
Boroujerdi said his meetings with Russian high-ranking officials at the Foreign Ministry, the Security Council, the Federal Atomic Energy Agency, the Federation Council and the State Duma ï¿½focused on the following fields of cooperation ï¿½ the Tu-204 plane, Gazpromï¿½s participation in the construction of a gas pipeline in Iran, the participation of Russian specialists in the construction of a thermal power plant and a coal strip mine in Iraq, the creation of a communication satellite, the construction of vessels and cooperation in the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.ï¿½
On the IAEA safeguard agreement, the Iranian parliamentary said the parliament will ratify the IAEA safeguard agreement after both sides trust each other.
He explained that an additional protocol had not ratified yet ï¿½because the IAEA Board of Governors took a negative position on the Iranian nuclear dossier.ï¿½ If the dossier is submitted to the U.N. Security Council, Iran cannot create an open atmosphere during discussions, the parliamentary stressed.
Boroujerdi told Itar-Tass, ï¿½I hope that during their meeting in Washington, G-8 foreign ministers will show respect for Iranï¿½s efforts to create a trusty atmosphere during discussions on the Iranian nuclear programme. There is no logics when the Iranian dossier is submitted to the U.N. Security Council.ï¿½
He said two IAEA inspectorsï¿½ groups are currently in Iran. The IAEA deputy director-general is leading one of the groups.
1. RUSSIA DOES NOT LOSE HOPE FOR BUILDING NUCLEAR POWER FACILITIES IN CHINA
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In late October Russia will announce its views on the tender for building in China units for a nuclear power plant, Andrei Malyshev acting head of the Federal Ecological, Technological and Financial Supervision Service, has said. Very soon China will announce a tender for building two sites with two units each. On October 28 those willing to participate have to file applications and hand in the tender documents by February, he said.
"The Russian side is formulating its position on participation in the tender. On October 28 it will announce it together with its proposals. Negotiations are under way", Malyshev said. And added that the Russian position will appear more serious when the first unit of China's Tianwan facility is put into operation.
Russia is now building two units for the Tianwan nuclear power plant (first stage) under a three billion dollar-odd contract.
The Tianwan plant is situated in the Tianwan locality, Jiangsu province. The site is large enough to house four units 1,000 megawatts each and has an outlook for expansion - another four units of 1,000 megawatts each.
Experts say that the success of Russian specialists in China increases Russia's chances for getting new such contracts.
Earlier, Alexander Rumyantsev, head of the Russian Nuclear Power Agency, many times said that Russia would participate in all the tenders announced by Beijing.
1. 3rd generating unit of Beloyarsk nuc power plant restarted
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The third generating unit of the Beloyarsk Nuclear Power Plant was restarted on Monday after scheduled preventive maintenance. The BN-600 reactor is already running at 14 per cent of its rated power. The radiation background of the plant and of the surrounding territory is normal, Press Attache of the Beloyarsk Nuclear Power Plant Marianna Bakanova told Itar-Tass. The plantï¿½s rated power of 600 megawatts is expected to be reached by Wednesday morning.
The unit was stopped on October 1st. The old fuel elements were replaced. Scheduled maintenance of the reactor was carried out simultaneously. It is being done twice a year.
The BN-600 is the worldï¿½s most powerful fast neutrons reactor. Specialists of Rosenergoatom are planning to use spent nuclear fuel for such breeder reactors, as well as weapons grade plutonium from the nuclear warheads that are being scrapped in keeping with the strategic offensive reductions agreements.
The service life expectancy of the plantï¿½s third generating unit is thirty years and it is to expire in 2010. The fourth 800-kilowatt generating unit with an 800-kilowatt BN-800 breeder reactor is now being built. It is to be commissioned in 2009.
2. Russian Nuclear Watchdog Confirms Gazprom Deal With Atomstroiexport
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The head of Russiaï¿½s Federal Nuclear Supervision Service said on Friday that Gazprombank, a unit of Gazprom, the state-controlled gas company, has bought a controlling stake in Russiaï¿½s exporter of nuclear technology, Atomstroiexport, Reuters reported.
Andrei Malyshev quoted by the agency said the total stake acquired was more than 50 percent.
It was reported earlier that Gazprom wished to extend its reach into atomic power by taking over the countryï¿½s sole exporter of nuclear technology.
Atomstroieksport, with an order book of $3 billion, is one of the pillars of Russiaï¿½s nuclear industry. It is the successor of a nuclear export company set up in Soviet times to assist Moscowï¿½s allies in building nuclear reactors. Apart from Iran, it is also building two nuclear reactors in China and one in India.
One of its projects, a nuclear reactor in Iran, is a major irritant in Moscowï¿½s relations with Washington, which says Tehran can use it to acquire atomic arms. The shares reportedly bought by Gazprombank were linked to Russian machinery maker OMZ.
Gazprom is due to take over state oil firm Rosneft soon in a stock-funded deal, which will enable the state to regain control over the gas company lost in the 1990s.
1. Russian MFA Information and Press Department Commentary Regarding a Russian Media Question Concerning Outcome of G8 Political Directors' Meeting in Washington
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
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Question: As has been reported, a meeting of the G8 political directors took place on October 15 in Washington, in the course of which the Iranian nuclear program was discussed among other things.
How could the outcome of this meeting be commented on?
Answer: In our opinion, a useful discussion took place as to how to help the aim set in the declaration of the G8 countries' Sea Island summit, notably to ensure that concerns are removed regarding the consequences of the Iranian nuclear program for nuclear nonproliferation and that Iran fully complies with its obligations under the NPT and the safeguards agreement.
The meeting noted the intensive efforts being made to find necessary solutions by diplomatic means. These efforts will be continued in the next few weeks with a view to finding solutions ahead of the next session of the IAEA Board of Governors to be held in November.
We will be working with our partners and the Iranian colleagues so as to reach a mutually acceptable understanding, with due regard, in particular, for the appropriate resolutions of the IAEA Board of Governors, containing, inter alia, an appeal to Iran as a confidence building measure to suspend its activities involving enrichment or chemical treatment of nuclear materials.
We have consistently stood for removing all the outstanding questions on the transparency and character of Iran's nuclear program via constructive cooperation by Iran with the IAEA, and in favor of the speediest transfer of the Agency's verification activities in that country to a normal, routine channel, as is today the case in most NPT member countries. We will be working towards the achievement of this objective in the future as well.
2. Alexander Yakovenko, the Spokesman of Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Answers Questions from Russian and Foreign Media Regarding IAEA's Regular Report to United Nations Security Council on Inspection Activities in Iraq
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
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Question: The topic of Iraqi WMDs causes for well known reasons heightened attention. Recently the IAEA Director General, Mahomed ElBaradei, presented to the UN Security Council a regular report on inspection activities in Iraq. What could you say in connection with this report?
Answer: As is known, in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions the IAEA as well as the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) are directed to carry on activities to clarify the so called disarmament dossier of Iraq. As part of these activities the IAEA is concerned with nuclear aspects of this dossier. Like UNMOVIC, it has been regularly informing the UNSC about the nuclear program of Iraq, in relation to which Mohamed ElBaradei presented his report. It should be remembered, however, that from March 17, 2003, these organizations turned out to be unable to carry on inspection activities in full and had to draw up their reports based on indirect data gleaned from a variety of sources, including media.
Question: Particularly alarming are reports of a continuing leak from Iraq of equipment and materials related to WMD production. Is this topic touched on in the IAEA report?
Answer: Indeed, the situation in Iraq with the safety of such materials and equipment is extremely alarming. The UN Security Council at its meetings has already repeatedly considered the question that individual components, including those associated with WMD production programs have turned out to be "on the dumps" in the most diverse parts of the world. In the conditions of the terrorist threat a real danger exists that the materials lost in Iraq might be used by terrorists.
In his report IAEA Director General ElBaraei again pointed out the Agency's concern over the revealed numerous facts of disappearance in Iraq of nuclear and radioactive materials and equipment. He called on states which have information about the whereabouts of such means to provide this information to the IAEA.
Question: What steps does Russian envision to prevent the leak of WMDs and related materials from Iraq?
Answer: Russia is for the complete implementation of the UN Security Council resolutions concerning the former Iraqi WMD potential under the control of UNMOVIC and IAEA. The Security Council in the light of the new situation in Iraq in Resolution 1546 expressed, in particular, an intention to review the mandates of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission and the International Atomic Energy Agency. We believe that these organizations, possessing all the necessary expertise for that, must get comprehensive access to the nuclear facilities of Iraq as soon as possible, in order to proceed with their interrupted activities.
Simultaneously it is also necessary that Iraq's Interim Government and the US should take urgent measures to establish control over sensitive materials and equipment and permit the specifically empowered international bodies to do their job without hindrance.
3. Thirty-eighth Regular Session of the Executive Council of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)
Ambassador Eric M. Javits
Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons
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Mr. Chairman, Mr. Director-General, Distinguished Delegates,
Our meeting this week is an especially important one. Our agenda addresses key issues that will shape the future of this organization. Because of their importance, these issues are not always easy. But we have demonstrated in our deliberations and decisions of the last two years a collegial spirit. I am confident that with continued goodwill and cooperation, this week we will be able to take the decisions we must to advance the goals of the Chemical Weapons Convention. I pledge the full cooperation and support of the United States delegation to that effort.
The most important question before the Council is the proposal by Libya, with the support of 17 other States Parties, for a technical change to the Convention to allow conversion of the facility at Rabta. Libya desires to convert the Rabta chemical weapons production facility to produce low-cost pharmaceuticals to treat AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis throughout the African continent and the developing world. The United States supports Libya's proposal. As the Director-General has previously reminded us, under Article XV of the Convention this Council has an obligation to make a clear, unambiguous recommendation to the States Parties to either accept or reject Libya's proposal: this is not a matter we can defer.
The proposed technical change is fully consistent with the Convention and transparent to all States Parties. It would allow the Executive Council to set the deadline for submission of a request to convert a chemical weapons production facility, and the Conference to establish the earliest practicable deadline for completion of the conversion.
This approach is based, in part, on similar Convention provisions for destruction of chemical weapons and chemical weapons production facilities when deadlines have expired for an acceding State. The proposal will work not just for Libya, but for any future acceding State that may possess a chemical weapons production facility and legitimately wish to convert it for purposes not prohibited by the Convention. The United States is committed to the principle of "equal treatment;" what applies to Libya shall also apply to future acceding States. The adoption of this technical change will correct a disincentive for non-member states to accede to the Convention. In short, the United States places great importance on adoption of this technical change by the Council, not only for the immediate benefit which will accrue to people in Africa and developing nations, but for the contribution it will make toward achieving universal adherence to the Convention.
Mr. Chairman, I would also like to discuss the action plan for implementation of Article VII obligations.
The United States believes that full implementation of Article VII is a crucial challenge for this organization.
Every delegation here is aware of the unanimous adoption last April of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540. This was, in our view, an appropriate response to a very clear and present threat to global peace and security. The fundamental objective of this important resolution is to keep weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery out of the hands of terrorists and rogue regimes.
The resolution requires states to enact effective export and transshipment controls, criminalize the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and secure all related materials within their borders. By requiring all U.N. member states to adopt and enforce effective legal and regulatory standards to prevent proliferation, Resolution 1540 sharply underscored the need for full implementation of Article VII.
The status report before us is much clearer and more focused than previous reports. That has made even more apparent the substantial amount of work needed before the Tenth Conference of the States Parties next year. We are encouraged by the information that many State Parties are working on legislation and other measures to fulfill their Article VII obligations.
We are, however, concerned by the relatively meager results to date. It is scandalous that some States Parties have not even designated a National Authority.
We note States Parties' active engagement in the numerous national implementation and national authority conferences that have been held around the world, and in active bilateral efforts involving the Technical Secretariat or States Parties that have offered assistance. The United States continues to pursue bilateral contacts, coordinate efforts with the Technical Secretariat, respond to inquiries from States Parties, and participate in regional workshops. We believe that such efforts, by both States Parties and the Secretariat, must continue and even be intensified. As always, the United States stands ready to help nations seeking to fulfill their Article VII obligations.
We need to robustly coordinate and monitor these activities and State Party efforts to meet Action Plan requirements over the coming year. This includes compiling information on requests for assistance and the types of assistance States Parties require, identifying member states that can provide such assistance, and, most importantly, tracking the progress of individual States Parties in meeting their obligations. This will provide us with a transparent, factual basis for our deliberations at the culmination of the Action Plan.
In the end, though, each State Party is responsible for meeting its own commitments. We are confident that the large majority of member states will follow through and be in compliance by the time of CSP-10 a year from now. At that point, member states will need to consider how to deal with those who still have not fulfilled their Article VII obligations.
We are encouraged that real progress is being made toward achieving universality by 2007, as indicated by the historic decision of Libya to join, and by the recent accessions of the Solomon Islands and Sierra Leone. We look forward to welcoming others as States Parties, including Iraq once its duly elected government is in place. The United States must reiterate, however, the importance of improving coordination within the Technical Secretariat and between the TS and member states in efforts to encourage States not Party to join the CWC [Chemical Weapons Convention].
Mr. Chairman, as everyone here is aware, we are engaged in extensive work to prepare the organization's budget for 2005. This budget is particularly significant, as it will be the first one completed in a results-based budgeting format. That format is something of a work in progress, and needs to be further refined, but we are moving toward a document that defines in a more measurable way what we expect the Technical Secretariat to accomplish, and why. If we are to make effective use of limited resources, and achieve real, lasting results, then this is a reform that is greatly needed.
Let me make clear that the United States supports the overall increase requested by the Director-General and the broad outlines of the budget and programme that he has put forward. We believe that it meets the requirements of the organization to carry out the various tasks assigned by the Conference of the States Parties or required by the Convention.
We appreciate the exhaustive efforts of the co-facilitators, Gordon Eckersley of Australia and Ian Mundell of Canada to ensure full transparency for both member states and the Technical Secretariat.
We also appreciate the information provided by the TS in response to requests from delegations. We understand that during the course of this Council session, there will continue to be in-depth discussion on the 2005 budget and programme. I must emphasize the importance of reaching at least an informal, tentative agreement on the budget before the Conference of States Parties meets. Resolving our differences in that much larger, very busy setting, with only a few days and a crowded agenda, will only be more difficult.
I am pleased to note that since our last session, as we reported during Monday's informal meeting on CW [chemical weapons] destruction, the U.S. has recently started up a fourth continuously operating CW destruction facility, located in Umatilla, Oregon. Two other facilities are already constructed and, If all goes as planned, will commence operations during 2005.
As we all know, the Technical Secretariat, with the endorsement of both the Conference of States Parties and the Review Conference, has been actively exploring means of "optimizing" the use of verification resources -- finding ways to verify destruction more efficiently, without sacrificing effectiveness. The TS has already implemented such measures in India and Russia.
As the State Party that currently has the largest number of operating CW destruction facilities, it is important for us to work closely with the TS in developing acceptable and feasible approaches for each U.S. facility.
Important progress has been made, as those of you who attended yesterday's informal consultations will have heard in some detail. The Technical Secretariat is currently testing some of these ideas and approaches at a U.S. CW destruction facility to assess their feasibility and verification effectiveness.
I want to emphasize our commitment to an open and transparent process working cooperatively with the TS on "optimizing" verification resources and informing member states of the outcomes. We want the Council to understand what is being done at our facilities and to feel confident in its effectiveness.
With regard to industry issues, we are disappointed that there are no items ready for a decision at this Council session. Numerous important issues need to be addressed, and it is necessary for the OPCW to come to grips with them. For example, a recent TS report indicates that only 22 percent of States Parties submitted their 2003 Annual Declarations on Past Activities within the Convention timeline. We request the Technical Secretariat to continue issuing these reports to ensure that States Parties remain aware of the problem and urge that delegations and the Technical Secretariat vigorously pursue a solution to the problem of late submission of declarations. This will become increasingly critical as we move the organization toward electronic submissions.
There are other long-standing issues, as well, that need political attention. For example, we are concerned that the verification plan for the U.S. chemical weapons destruction facility at Aberdeen, Maryland, has remained under consideration without being approved for over a year. During this period, the facility has been conducting destruction operations. We are fully aware of the importance of this issue to certain delegations and the sensitivities involved, and we are committed to finding a mutually acceptable resolution. I want to emphasize, however, that failure to reach a decision undercuts not only the authority of the Council but also the verification provisions of the Convention. As such, it can no longer be considered a bilateral issue, but one that affects all member states.
Mr. Chairman, let me conclude by reiterating the commitment of the United States to working with you, the Director-General and other States Parties to move ahead on the important work that is before us. Thank you.
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