1. FINANCING OF PROGRAM FOR BUILDING FACILITIES TO DESTROY CHEMICAL WEAPONS TO BE INCREASED IN RUSSIA
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"In order to take the necessary measures to set up two facilities for destroying chemical weapons in Kombarka and Maradykovsky, the federal budget for 2005 envisages an increase of the funds for building these facilities - 11,160 million rubles ($1 = 28.65 rubles), which more than double the sum earmarked for this purpose until recently," deputy head of the Federal Agency for Industry Viktor Kholstov stated at the public forum-dialogue Fulfillment of the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons by Russia: State and Prospects by the End of 2004.
According to him, the facility at Gorny settlement is already really functioning. By the end of 2005 this facility must destroy all the chemical weapons which are kept there today, namely 1,142 tons of toxic agents.
The Kombarka facility will be set up by 2005, and from 2006 till 2009 it will be destroying chemical toxic agents; the Shchuchye facility will be completed in 2008 and will function till 2012; the Maradykovsky facility will be put into operation by 2005, and will destroy chemical weapons in 2006-2010.
The Pochep facility will be built by 2007, and will operate in 2008-2012; the facility at Leonidovka wil also be completed by 2007 and will finish destroying the stockpiles of chemical weapons and toxic agents, kept there, in 2012; the Kezmer facility will be completed in 2008 and from 2009 till 2012 will engage in processing chemical weapons.
In keeping with the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction (Russia ratified the Convention in 1997), the chemical weapons possessed by Russia must be destroyed prior to 2012.
Under this document, the chemical weapons are to be destroyed in four stages: the first stage has already been completed, 1% of chemical weapons were destroyed in 2003. By the year 2007 20% of all the stockpiles of chemical weapons must be destroyed, 45% of them must be destroyed in 2009, and the destruction of chemical weapons must be completed in 2012.
The program for destroying chemical weapons in Russia is financed from two sources - from the budget and from Western countries.
"The real cost of the construction of facilities for destroying chemical weapons (in Russia) is $3 billion. The foreign gratuitous aid makes up around 7% of the needed sum - it stands at $217 million," Mr. Kholstov said.
2. Russia building environmental system for chemical disarmament
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Russia is working to fulfil the environmental requirements for chemical disarmament and is creating state and regional systems of environmental control and monitoring, said Federal Industry Agency deputy head Viktor Kholstov.
An environmental monitoring sub-system has been created at the chemical weapons disposal facility in Gorny in the Saratov region, Kholstov told a conference on Russia's observance of the Chemical Weapons Convention in Moscow.
1. Al-Qaeda considers moving nuclear material to US through Mexico: report
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Al-Qaeda has considered plans to smuggle nuclear material into the United States through neighboring Mexico, an Egyptian operative from the extremist group told interrogators after his capture in Pakistan, Time magazine reported Monday.
Sharif al-Masri, who was captured late August near Pakistan's border with Iran and Afghanistan, has told interrogators of "al-Qaeda's interest in moving nuclear materials from Europe to either the US or Mexico," according to a report circulating among US government officials, the weekly magazine reported.
Osama bin Laden's network has considered plans to "smuggle nuclear materials to Mexico, then operatives would carry material into the US," Masri said, according to the report, parts of which were read to Time.
Though unproved, Masri's account has added to US concerns over its border with Mexico, the magazine said.
US and Mexican intelligence officials have also discussed reports from several Al-Qaeda detainees saying that Mexico could potentially be used as a staging area "to acquire end-stage chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear material."
US officials are closely monitoring heavy trucks crossing the border, while Mexicans will watch flight schools and aviation facilities in Mexico.
Some senior US officials are worried about the theft in southern California of a crop duster plane that was seen flying south toward Mexico two weeks ago.
Though it is unclear whether the theft is connected to terrorism, a senior US law enforcement official told Time crop dusters can be used to disperse toxic agents.
Alexander Downer, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia
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Nuclear terrorism is a dreadful prospect but a threat that is real. The September 11 attacks show that terrorists will not hesitate to inflict mass casualties in populated areas, killing themselves in the process. The only limitation on the horror they are prepared to unleash is the weaponry they can use.
And we now know that the 9/11 hijackers considered targeting American nuclear installations.
While the exercise is traumatic, none of us would find it too difficult to visualise the terrible human and economic damage from a nuclear explosion in a city. The cost would be horrific and ongoing. Fortunately, this most dangerous form of nuclear terrorism is made less likely by the difficulties terrorists would have in acquiring the necessary fissile material and expertise.
More probable is the prospect of terrorists using radioactive materials employed in medicine, science and industry to produce a ï¿½dirty bombï¿½. A dirty bomb would not cause mass destruction but could disperse radiation over a wide area. The psychological trauma, disruption and economic cost would still be disastrous. The global community has an obligation to take the threat of nuclear and radiological terrorism seriously.
The global communityï¿½s first line of defence against the misuse of sensitive materials and technology, whether by rogue states or terrorist groups, is the framework of arms control treaties and export control regimes built up over several decades. Foremost among these is the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Regrettably, the Non-Proliferation Treaty is under unprecedented pressure. North Koreaï¿½s announced withdrawal from the treaty and its determined pursuit of nuclear weapons challenges international security like never before. And the global communityï¿½s concerns about Iranï¿½s nuclear intentions remain unallayed after two years of investigations by the worldï¿½s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
On top of this, the revelation of a sophisticated international black market in nuclear materials and technology, with customers including North Korea, Iran and Libya, reminds us starkly that we must act firmly and in unity to stop nuclear weapons falling into the hands of dangerous regimes and terrorists.
Australia has a strong commitment to work with Asia-Pacific countries to combat nuclear weapons proliferation and nuclear terrorism. At the recent Asia-Pacific Nuclear Safeguards and Security Conference, hosted by Australia in Sydney, regional countries expressed their firm resolve to confront these threats.
Senior representatives from 18 Asia-Pacific countries recognised that a strong nuclear safeguards and security framework was essential to realising the benefits of peaceful use of nuclear energy. A number of practical priorities were identified including global application of the IAEAï¿½s strengthened safeguards system, effective controls on exports of nuclear materials and technology, better protection of nuclear materials and facilities, and ensuring the effective control and protection of radioactive sources.
As the permanent member of the IAEAï¿½s Board of Governors for the South-East Asia and Pacific region, Australia has consistently advocated practical measures that will make a difference. Australia was one of the first countries to contribute to the IAEA Nuclear Security Fund which supports international efforts to address the threat of nuclear and radiological terrorism. Australia was also the first country to conclude an Additional Protocol strengthening the IAEAï¿½s inspection and verification powers.
Securing fissile material against acquisition by rogue states and terrorists is a vital task for the G8 Global Partnership Against Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction. Earlier this year, Australia contributed $10 million to the Global Partnership. Our contribution is helping dismantle nuclear submarines decommissioned from Russiaï¿½s Pacific fleet to reduce proliferation and safety risks. We chose this project because of its direct relevance to our region.
Any nuclear security weaknesses at local or regional levels risk being exploited. As part of our commitment to regional cooperation on these issues, Australia has also set aside $4.4 million for work by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation to boost the regulatory controls and physical security of radioactive sources in the Pacific and South East Asia.
While we continue to conduct this purposeful work, we should also recognise that there are causes for optimism. The nuclear ambitions of Saddam Husseinï¿½s regime in Iraq have been thwarted. Libya has embraced a new future in concert with the global community as it dismantles its Weapons of Mass Destruction programs which included nuclear components. And over sixty countries now support the Proliferation Security Initiative which is countering WMD proliferation through practical measures and cooperation.
We should be quite clear about what is at stake. The worldï¿½s non-proliferation regime provides vital security benefits including the climate of confidence necessary for cooperation on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. And, of course, if all countries diligently implement the non-proliferation regime it will ensure we never have to confront that most horrible of terrorist attacks.
*Australiaï¿½s Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, opened the the Asia Pacific Nuclear Safeguards and Security Conference in Sydney on 8 November.
1. Russia to cut number of foreign watchdogs thanks to technology
BBC Monitoring and Itar-Tass
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Russia is cutting the number of foreign inspectors involved in checking the chemical weapons storage facilities by introducing technical means of monitoring. The head of a department of the Centre of Conventional Problems and Disarmament Programmes, Aleksandr Gorbovskiy, said this today at the sixth public forum held in Moscow to discuss problems of the implementation by Russia of the 1993 convention banning the chemical weapons.
Over 100 representatives of administrations of Russia's regions, enterprises, institutions, as well as Russian and foreign organizations involved in the implementation of the programme to destroy chemical weapons are taking part in the two-day discussion that started on Wednesday [10 November].
Gorbovskiy said that the "introduction of monitoring devices at the facilities of storage and destruction of chemical weapons makes it possible to reduce expenditures on carrying out inspections by representatives of international organizations imposing ban on chemical weapons." He gave an example of the facility in the village of Gornyy, Saratov Region, where the number of inspectors had been reduced from eight to five owing to the introduction of appropriate technical means monitoring the storage and destruction of chemical weapons.
According to Gorbovskiy's estimate, " annual expenditure on checking a chemical weapons storage facility in Russia stand at about 1.5m dollars." There are seven chemical weapons arsenals in the Russian Federation at present, and two or three inspections are carried out at each of them every year.
He said that in 1993 when Convention on the Prohibition of Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction was signed the expenditures on carrying out inspections for a decade were estimated at 500m dollars. In 1997, when Russia ratified the convention, the expenditures were assessed at about 200m dollars for a decade.
The single greatest danger facing humanity, President Bush says, is the threat of nuclear weapons falling into terrorist hands.
So in the next four years, Bush looks to work with other nations to prevent countries from developing nuclear weapons, to secure and dismantle weapons that already exist and stop black-market trafficking of nuclear materials.
This isn't exactly the arms control of past presidents -- the lengthy negotiations and detailed agreements, mostly between the United States and the Soviet Union or Russia over nuclear stockpiles, missile defense and weapons testing.
Instead, this is arms control rooted in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
"Those attacks also raised the prospect of even worse dangers -- of other weapons in the hands of other men," Bush said in February. "The greatest threat before humanity today is the possibility of secret and sudden attack with chemical or biological or radiological or nuclear weapons."
Bush has said terrorism is a global problem and he's looking for a multinational solution. He has worked with other nations to stop North Korea and Iran from developing nuclear programs. He has promoted new programs to encourage countries to intercept weapons components and to help nations secure or remove radioactive materials.
He has also promised to expand on the 1991 Nunn-Lugar program for dismantling weapons of mass destruction in the former Soviet Union and finding work for former weapons scientists.
The program's co-founder, Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., said he will propose legislation this week to eliminate bureaucratic snags and to create a new program aimed at dismantling conventional weapons. He said he has worked with the administration on the plans.
But Democrats and some analysts say the president's efforts don't reflect the urgency of the threat. And they say his ability to rally nations behind his arms control measure has been undermined by his disdain for older weapons treaties and the faulty U.S. intelligence on Iraq's weapons programs.
Jack Mendelsohn, a U.S. arms control negotiator in the 1970s and '80s, said U.S. credibility on identifying nuclear threats "is only slightly greater than zero" because of Iraq.
When the United States describes dangers in Iran or North Korea's nuclear programs, "the other countries say, `Yeah, but you guys tend to go off the deep end and you exaggerate,'" he said.
But to the administration, the threats from both nations are real. They are the two remaining points on Bush's "axis of evil" now that Iraq's Saddam Hussein has been toppled, and both are considered sponsors of terrorism.
The United States is working with South Korea, China, Russia and Japan in talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear weapon program. It is looking for France, Germany and Britain to persuade Iran to indefinitely suspend its uranium enrichment program. If no agreement is reached, the United States wants the U.N. Security Council to consider sanctions. Iran says its nuclear program is only for generating electricity.
To prevent problems similar to those in Iran, the administration is seeking support for protocols to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to make it harder for countries to use nuclear energy programs as a cover for weapons production.
Bush has shown less interest in traditional arms treaties. The one major agreement he signed with Russia, the Moscow Treaty, called for a two-thirds reduction in strategic nuclear warheads by 2012. But it requires weapons only to be removed from service, not destroyed, and either side could easily withdraw.
Bush withdrew the United States from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty and is working on a limited missile defense system. He opposes the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which was never ratified by the Senate. Although his administration hasn't conducted tests, it has worked to speed up the time needed for tests to be conducted. He has also pushed for research on new types of nuclear weapons.
Some analysts say the president's rejection of older arms-control efforts will make it harder for him to persuade countries to agree to his nonproliferation proposals.
"It gives other countries an excuse," said Jim Goodby, who held various arms control positions from the 1950s to 1990s. "If a country says we would rather not do something that constrains us, all they have to do is point to the U.S. behavior and they can justify it."
Some analysts believe the greatest nuclear threat to the United States could come from Pakistan.
Bush has cited as a success the breakup of a proliferation network headed by Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan, and President Pervez Musharraf has become an important ally in the fight against terrorism. But Islamic militants are active in Pakistan and its politics are turbulent.
Joseph Cirincione of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said instability in Pakistan could "mean a hemorrhaging of nuclear expertise, materials and possibly even weapons themselves."
"Our policy toward Pakistan is basically the hope that everything stays OK," he said.
Disputes between Russia and the United States over funding and lucrative contracts are hampering an international effort to destroy the world's largest chemical weapons arsenal, experts said Wednesday.
With a commitment to destroy 44,000 tons of chemical weapons by 2012, Russia has eagerly courted foreign funding. More than 20 countries - including members of the Group of Eight - have pledged money for the program, which has been beset by shortfalls.
Western countries have spent hundreds of millions of dollars but only a fraction of that money has been channeled through the Russian government with most going directly to contractors - the vast majority of them non-Russian.
Patrick Wakefield, a deputy assistant to the U.S. defense secretary who is responsible for chemical disarmament and threat reduction, alluded to "some problems" between U.S. and Russian officials over the past year.
"The problems have increased costs and delayed schedules," Wakefield told a conference in Moscow on Russia's progress toward meeting its chemical weapons destruction goals. He did not elaborate, but his comments appeared to be a warning to Russian officials to improve cooperation with Western funders.
Viktor Kholstov, a top Russian official responsible for overseeing chemical disarmament, said Western countries had donated just some $217 million so far, about 7 percent of the $3 billion necessary to build destruction facilities.
Paul Walker of the Washington-based Global Green organization said many of the disagreements hampering progress revolved around the choice of contractors awarded lucrative construction projects.
"There have been a variety of issues just this past year about Russians coming in at the 11th hour and demanding that a different contractor get a major contract," Walker said. "They've held up construction for months."
He said the Cooperative Threat Reduction program - the U.S. agency that funds disarmament in Russia - had frozen contracting for construction of a chemical weapons destruction facility in the Ural Mountains town of Shchuchye for up to five months after Russia insisted on its own candidate to build the site's heating plant. The Russians ultimately backed down.
Wakefield said the United States alone has spent some $709 million so far on building the Shchuchye facility and has earmarked just over $1 billion for it.
Russia signed the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1997, pledging to eliminate its arsenal within 10 years. However, it won international agreement to prolong the deadline until 2012 because of a lack of funds.
1. Iran comes out for maintaining strategic relations with Russia
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Iran comes out for maintaining strategic and all-round relations with Russia, Iranian First Vice-President Mohammad Reza Aref said after a meeting with St. Petersburg governor Valentina Matviyenko who is on a visit in the Iranian capital. The vice-president also stressed the need for eliminating ï¿½current obstacles for cooperation and intensification of activity of private sectors of the countries.ï¿½
For her part, Matviyenko noted that Russia and Iran have the rich experience of cooperation in construction of power plants and machine building and noted the need of involving the private sector in joint projects.
During the visit to Iran the Russian governor also held talks with the Tehran mayor. Valentina Matviyenko came out in favor of expanding interregional economic cooperation noting that ï¿½the trade between St. Petersburg and Iran made 21 million dollars for the last nine months.ï¿½
After the talks the jubilee medal In memory of the St. Petersburg 300th anniversary was awarded to the Iranian side.
1. Russia set to develop nuclear energy cooperation with Japan
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Russian Academician Yevgeny Velikhov who is attending the first World Scientific Forum in Kyoto told Itar-Tass on Monday that Russia was determined to develop active cooperation with Japan in nuclear energy.
At the same time, Velikhov, the president of the Moscow-based Kurchatov Institute, refused to disclose the scale of the deals with nuclear fuel, which Tokyo used to receive from the United States.
ï¿½There is business going on,ï¿½ the academician said in this connection.
Velikhov noted that Russia and Japan had goods prospects for developing cooperation in the nuclear sphere. This cooperation could include joint projects for the use of fast neutron reactors as well as Russiaï¿½s possibility to organize a centre for the storage and processing of spent nuclear fuel.
Velikhov noted that the fuel could be processed in Japan on Russian-type reactors. The academician believes that such cooperation will contribute to preserving the existing Russian technologies and will ensure their further development. Velikhov also said that an opportunity for trilateral cooperation could be created if the United States joined those projects.
Russia is to launch the construction of the worldï¿½s first floating nuclear power plants, a unique project which should supply much-needed energy to its remotest regions but has aroused concern among environment protection groups.
The plan, unveiled by Russian scientists earlier this year, should see work begin in 2003 at the Sevmash plant at Severodvinsk in northwestern Russia which normally turns out nuclear submarine engines, said Yevgeny Kuzin, the head of the Malaya Energetika company developing the project.
While the first floating plant will not be ready for at least five years, three Arctic and Far Eastern regions, Arkhangelsk, Chukotka and Kamchatka, have already declared an interest and signed letters of intent with Malaya Enegertika, Kuzin added.
With winter temperatures as low as minus 40 degrees Celsius (Fahrenheit), these regions are desperate for energy to supply their residents with power and heating.
They lack the financial resources to purchase sufficient amounts of fuel or coal, and building full-scale nuclear power plants in such remote areas is not a realistic option. The idea instead is to tow floating nuclear ï¿½micro-power plantsï¿½ off their coasts where they will operate, providing power and heating via to cables linking them to the mainland for a planned duration of 40 years.
Each floating plant, which will be similar to the nuclear-powered ice-breakers Russia has been operating in the polar north for several years already, will be manned by 60 technicians and will use a 70 megawatt KLT-40C reactor of the kind used in the ice-breakers.
The first floating plant should start operating off the port of Severodvinsk, near Arkhangelsk, providing the region with energy.
While each plant will cost 150 million dollars (euros), Kuzin said this option was much more economical than building a full-scale nuclear plant and added that construction would also take less time.
ï¿½It is much faster and costs four times less than building a nuclear power plant generating the same amount of energy on land,ï¿½ he said.
Not everybody has been won over by the idea, however.
Environmentalist groups such as Greenpeace and the Norwegian organization Bellona have said the floating plants represent a danger for the environment and have questioned the projectï¿½s economic viability, as have several Russian nuclear experts.
Greenpeace and Bellona also believe the plants could represent a potential target for terrorist groups.
The Russian atomic energy ministry gave the go-ahead for the floating plants earlier this month and Kuzin said the the natural resources ministry has assessed the project and found it ecologically sound.
Rosenergoatom, the public institution which manages all Russian nuclear powerplants, is to decide early next year on whether to finance the development of the floating plants.
In addition to supplying Russiaï¿½s polar north with comparatively cheap energy, floating plants could be put to a quite different use in warmer latitudes, Kuzin said.
The same nuclear energy used to provide power could also help desalinate sea-water if a project currently being developed by Malaya Energetika and Canadian company Candesal reaches fruition.
This would involve attaching a special desalination platform to the floating plants.
The desalination plants could be exported to ï¿½countries with a large coastline, like Indonesia, India or China,ï¿½ Kuzin said.
The nuclear fuel used for the desalination process would be modified to include a smaller proportion of enriched uranium so that Russia would not be in breach of agreements on nuclear non-proliferation.
2. ACADEMICIAN VELIKHOV: LOCATION OF ITER REACTOR MAY BE DECIDED THIS YEAR
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Humanity does not want to give up the dream of an inexhaustible source of energy. Thermonuclear fusion, a form of energy that has only been managed to be used in the hydrogen bomb, is an inexhaustible source. In nature, this reaction occurs in stars and it is the source of the Sun's energy.
In order to prove that a thermonuclear power plant can be created, ITER ("the way" in Latin), a $4 billion international nuclear experimental fusion reactor project, was developed.
The project has been ready for a long time, however the participants (Russia, the United States, Japan, China, South Korea, and the European Union) cannot agree on where the international reactor will be built. Today, there are two possible locations for the reactor: Cadarache in southern France and Rokkasho, Aomory Prefecture, Japan. Russia and China support building the reactor in France, while the U.S. and South Korea support building it in Japan.
"This question has been drawn out," Academician Yevgeny Velikhov, one of the leaders of the international project, told a RIA Novosti correspondent. "It could have been solved three years ago."
Mr. Velikhov said there might be a possibility of two ITER reactors being built.
"In order to tactically separate this confrontation," he said, "Europe suggests discussing the prospect of building such a power plant in France at an EU Council of Ministers meeting and inviting those who support the European proposal to take part in the project. A similar situation is developing in regard to Japan."
In Mr. Velikhov's opinion, preserving unity is essential. "That two power plants may be built is not horrible," he said. "Russia proposed such an option in December 2003 - let's build two reactors, but they should not be the same."
The scientist said that many tasks could be divided. "The purpose of the main project," he said, "is to study the processes occurring in the reactor and to test the main technological solutions." And problems like researching new materials for thermonuclear power and many other things could be worked on at the second power plant.
Both Japan and France are prepared to finance 48% of the project and it was agreed that the losing party would pay 12%, while the rest of the countries will pay 10% each.
"Russia has stated firmly that it will contribute 10%," Mr. Velikhov said.
According to him, "Russia's role is very important now because today Russia connects all these projects and has been doing this from the start."
And these are not just claims, as the ITER is based on Russia's tokamak reactor, which is internationally known, like sputnik.
The tokamak (the word is a combination of the first syllables of torus, camera and magnet in Russian) is a toroidal (doughnut-shaped) chamber, where a powerful magnetic field confines plasma, which no material can come in contact with. Fusion of the nuclei of the isotopes of hydrogen, deuterium and tritium takes place in the plasma.
The first tokamak was created in Moscow in 1955, and for 15 years only the Soviet Union conducted this research.
The "father" of the tokamak, academician Lev Artsimovich (1909-1973) was once asked when a thermonuclear power station would be built. He said: "When humanity needs it, or much earlier." However, the task appeared to be too difficult. Twenty years ago, another well-known Russian physicist, Boris Kadomtsev, said, "the practical use of thermonuclear energy will be possible by the end of the 20th century." Recently Russia's Nuclear Power Minister Alexander Rumyantsev named a new date, "by the end of the new [21st] century it will be necessary to switch to thermonuclear energy, and the first industrial electricity may be produced in the 2030s or 2040s."
The history of the international tokamak dates back to 1978,when Yevgeny Velikhov, the head of the Soviet thermonuclear program, proposed to the IAEA that the countries with the necessary technologies combine their efforts. At that time, it had become clear that the country would not be able to cope with the task single-handedly.
To produce nuclear fusion, plasma needs to reach the temperature of the Sun,
tens of millions of degrees Celsius, and be concentrated and confined for a long time. So far, it has not been possible to confine plasma at the proper temperature and density in a single installation.
Work on the ITER project lasted 16 years, and the scientists are upset by the delay caused by the choice of a location for the reactor.
Both candidates, Japan and France, have large nuclear industries and hope that the construction of an international reactor would spur their further development. In Japan, nuclear power stations produce over one third of all electricity and in France about 80% of electricity is from nuclear power plants.
Scientists think that safety is one of the merits of a thermonuclear power plant, as compared to a nuclear plant. According to academician Vladimir Fortov, a thermonuclear power plant could be built in a densely populated area. Also, a thermonuclear power plant is not attractive to terrorists, because the fuel is hydrogen, which is harmless, and no nuclear materials are used at the plant.
"I think this question will be decided this year," Mr. Velikhov said. "It would be very good if a thermonuclear power plant is built in 30 years. We have to act fast."
Mr. Velikhov stressed one more important thing: "We have created an information loop around the world from Chicago, across Amsterdam, Europe and Russia to Khabarovsk in the Far East, and further on to China and again to the U.S. Now South Korea is joining and Japan is considering participating. This fiber optic ring is the main medium to be used to unite ITER in a single global laboratory. It has already practically been created and will develop further. Again, Russia played a leading role in it, though we are not champions in the Internet."
It is important, said academician Velikhov, that Russia's role is preserved and strengthened.
3. KAZAKH, CHINESE NUCLEAR BODIES SIGN PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT
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Kazatomprom, Kazakhstan's state-owned nuclear company, and China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) signed a long-term strategic partnership agreement in Beijing on 6 November, Interfax- Kazakhstan reported on 8 November. Kazatomprom, which handles Kazakhstan's uranium production and exports, stated in an 8 November press release: "The establishment of a strategic partnership between Kazatomprom and CNNC will help to unite the strongest arms of the industrial nuclear fuel cycle systems of Kazakhstan and China." The agreement will be signed by the two countries' heads of state in the near future, the press release noted.
Senior aide to the Saratov region's prosecutor, Nina Gellert, told RIA Novosti on Tuesday that the prosecutor's office was looking for persons who disseminated false information about the accident at the Balakovo NPP.
The criminal case on the occasion of distributing deliberately false information about the accident at the Balakovo NPP was launched by the Balakovo prosecutor's office Saturday. Because it is socially significant, it was adopted by the department on especially important cases of the Saratov region's prosecutor's office, said the prosecutor's aide.
"This case envisages signs of a crime envisaged by article 207 of the Russian Criminal Code. Unknown persons reported on a large man-caused disaster accompanied by emission to the atmosphere of radioactive substances, which caused panic and a threat to people's health," explained Ms. Gellert.
Article 207 of Russia's Criminal Code envisages punishment in the form of imprisonment for up to three years or a fine to the sum of 2,000 minimal wages.
RIA Novosti was told in the region's Emergencies Ministry that giving in to panic, people started to take iodine designed for outer use. Ten people got into hospitals.
Civil Defense and Emergencies Minister of the Saratov region Alexander Rabadanov said he had data on "unknown persons who posed as rescue service officers calling enterprises and children's establishments of the region urging people to put on flu-masks, take iodine containing preparations and to prevent children from going for walks."
On November 4, accident protection systems worked on the second power unit of the Balakovo nuclear power plant; a leakage of pure desalinated water feeding steam generators was detected.
The unit was stopped for pipeline maintenance. Last Saturday, early in the morning, the switched-off power unit resumed work. Now the plant operates in a normal mode.
"The incident in engine room has nothing to do with nuclear problems," RIA Novosti was told on Saturday by head of the Federal Nuclear Power Agency Alexander Rumyantsev. He noted that "in accordance with the international NPP accident scale, this event is not taken into account at all."
"As soon as failures appeared in the steampipe system, we informed Gosatomnadzor and mass media at once," said Mr. Rumyantsev. "Information hooliganism" started after that, he stressed. "Anonymous web sites appeared, which intensified hysteria giving deliberately false data."
1. On the Outcome of the Work of the First Committee of the 59th Session of the UN General Assembly
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
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The First Committee of the 59th session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, a universal international forum on disarmament and security, concluded its work in New York a few days ago. In its course more than 50 agenda items on the maintenance of a strategic balance in the world and the search for collective responses to the new challenges and threats of today, in particular, such as international terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their delivery vehicles, were considered. The outcome of the session was the adoption of 52 draft resolutions and three decisions, submitted for subsequent approval by the UN General Assembly.
In the course of the general political debate there was a positive response to the thought expressed by Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov about the indivisibility of security in the contemporary world and the responsibility for its maintenance of all the states without exception with the UN's key role and the observance of the rules of international law. The forum participants noted the importance of implementing and strengthening the operative agreements pertaining to WMD and their delivery vehicles - the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), and the Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions.
In view of the increasing danger of terrorists gaining access to WMD, the relevance of the UN Security Council's Resolution 1540 on nonproliferation (it was drafted with the active participation of Russia) in the struggle against "black markets" for such weapons was emphasized.
The new initiative of Russia to the effect that our country will not be the first to place weapons of any kind in outer space evoked a considerable positive response. The Russian Federation called upon all the states with space capability to follow its example. The discussions on space topics demonstrated the world community's growing awareness of the dangers which the placement of strike weapons in near-Earth space may entail. As a result the draft traditional resolution entitled "The Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space" got a record number of votes "in favor" (167) with none against.
Of great importance in terms of the upcoming in 2005 NPT Review Conference was the unanimous adoption by the First Committee of the joint Russian-US draft resolution entitled "Bilateral Strategic Nuclear Arms Reductions and the New Strategic Framework." It reaffirms the fundamental importance of the Russian-US partner relationship for the safeguarding of international security and strategic stability, and welcomes the practical steps to reduce nuclear arms.
The consensus approval of the Russian-advanced draft resolution entitled "Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security" attests to the broad recognition of the urgency of the problem of international information security with reference to the civil and military spheres and to the interest of states in jointly considering the existing and potential threats in the field of information security and possible measures for their elimination.
Issues related to conventional arms and the ensuring of security in specific regions of the world figured prominently in the work. Adopted by the First Committee for the first time, the draft resolution on the prevention of an illegal transfer of MANPADS, an unauthorized access to them and their unauthorized use must become a serious measure of counteraction against the terrorist threat.
There were also discussed and adopted a number of recommendations on the further streamlining of the organizational and procedural aspects of First Committee activities as part of the improvement of the work methods of the United Nations and, in particular, the General Assembly and its main committees.
2. Reply by Alexander Yakovenko, the Spokesman of Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at Press Conference on November 9 at RIA Novosti News Agency Concerning Prospects of Signing Russian-Iranian Agreement on Return of Spent Nuclear Fuel
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
(for personal use only)
Question: What are the prospects of signing a Russian-Iranian agreement on the return of spent nuclear fuel? How is this problem tied to the IAEA decisions on the Iranian nuclear program?
Answer: A protocol on the return to Russia of spent nuclear fuel (SNF) from the nuclear power plant at Busherh is practically ready. Basic matters are solved. Commercial details of that return are now being additionally agreed on. We expect that the protocol will be signed very soon.
Our cooperation with Iran in building the nuclear power plant at Busherh is completely transparent and is being effected under the control of the IAEA and in full accordance with the obligations of Russia and Iran under the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons. This cooperation, including conclusion of a protocol on the return of SNF, cannot be regarded in the direct context of the outstanding questions that exist with regard to the Iranian nuclear program.
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