1. WASTED NUCLEAR FUEL STILL INSIDE WRITTEN-OFF SUBMARINES
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The armada of written-off nuclear submarines, which during the cold-war times the Soviet Union built more than the United States, Britain, France and China combined, present today a grave potential danger to the planet. The total radioactivity of the wasted nuclear fuel in submarines pending utilisation, or earlier offloaded from reactors and kept in ad-hoc overland and floating storage cells, adds up to tens of millions of curie. It is much more than that spat out in the Chernobyl nuclear power plant catastrophe, Sergei Antipov, second in command of the Federal Nuclear Energy Agency, told the Trud newspaper.
As of today, 91 of the 194 submarines with nuclear power plants removed from the fleet's inventories are waiting for their lot or being dismantled. Fifty eight submarines with nuclear fuel on board are berthed. Expectation of fuel discharge and dismantling lasts ten or even 20 years.
Discharging nuclear fuel is no end of utilisation. A submarine is cut in three. The bow and stern are cut for scrap, equipment is removed. The reactor and two adjacent compartments are sealed. They are cut out together with the sub's pressure hull, made of special steel almost four centimetres thick. This portion is the protection against radiation. It defies corrosion for dozens of years. These three-compartment sections are towed to special bays to be temporarily kept. They remain afloat at special observed and protected berths.
Alongside submarines, about 40 nuclear technical servicing vessels are pending utilisation. Their hulls are not as strong and the potential environmental hazard is much higher. In many such vessels radioactive waste or wasted fuel are kept.
Perhaps, the most topical and uphill goal of today is the rehabilitation of former overland maintenance bases, containing a vast amount of radioactive materials and wasted fuel. For instance, storehouses have never been overhauled over the 40 years of operation in the Andreeva Bay shore base in the Murmansk region.
Very soon, though nobody can say when, it is planned to move reactor sections cut out from submarines and berthed afloat to safety on dry land. Two such facilities are being built near the Saida gulf on the Kola peninsula and in the Far Eastern region of Russia.
1. NATO, Russia to Boost Efforts Against WMD Terrorism
Global Security Newswire
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The NATO-Russia Council yesterday pledged to increase cooperation to prevent, and respond to, terrorist attacks involving weapons of mass destruction.
A number of measures related to WMD terrorism were included in an action plan on terrorism released yesterday following a foreign minister-level meeting of the council at NATO headquarters in Brussels.
ï¿½The NATO-Russia Council categorically rejects terrorism in all its manifestations,ï¿½ the action plan says.
ï¿½Terrorist acts pose a direct challenge to our common security, to our shared democratic values and to basic human rights and freedoms. We agree that there is no cause that can justify such acts, and call for unity of action in the international community in addressing this insidious threat,ï¿½ it says.
The NATO-Russia Council was launched in 2002 to improve cooperation in a wide range of areas of common interest between the alliance and its former Cold War rival. Its membership consists of Russia and all NATO countries.
Under the action plan, council members agreed to improve intelligence sharing and efforts to prevent terrorists from obtaining weapons of mass destruction. Planned strategies include strengthening existing nonproliferation arrangements and addressing possible threats to freight and passenger transport.
Council members also pledged to increase scientific cooperation in areas such as WMD protection and decontamination technologies. The action plan also calls for increased scientific cooperation on managing the consequences of terrorist attacks, such as ecological and psychological effects.
In addition, the action plan calls for a first responders conference to be held to ï¿½exchange information and compare lessons learnedï¿½ from responses to terrorist attacks. ï¿½Special emphasisï¿½ would be placed, the plan says, on presentations from the United States, Russia, Spain and Turkey.
To better combat terrorism through military action, council members agreed to increase both technical and operational cooperation.
A progress report on the planï¿½s progress is to be delivered by June of next year, with the aim of preparing recommendations for further implementation.
In addition, the United Kingdom has offered to hold in September 2005 an exercise similar to a drill conducted by Russia this summer simulating an accident involving the transport of nuclear weapons, the council said in a separate statement.
1. Andreyeva bay nuclear facility received roof, decontamination stations and locker room for $1.3m
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On December 2, three facilities relating to the infrastructure of nuclear waste storage created in the framework of international cooperation with the U.K. and Norway are commissioned in the Andreyeva Bay (Murmansk region).
RIA Novosti was told at a conference dedicated to the completion of the first stage of construction by the deputy head of the Federal Nuclear Power Agency (Rosenergoatom), Sergei Antipov, a roof has been built over one of three reservoirs where spent nuclear fuel is stored.
"With time water started to penetrate into the reservoir, which caused the necessity to construct such a cover. Now the reservoir with spent nuclear fuel is properly protected from outside effects. Further on, we can talk about extracting the fuel and disposing of it," said Mr. Antipov. In his words, the cover is a low steel roof with ventilation and filtration devices.
The second project implemented with the help of the British side - two mobile sanitary inspection rooms for 10 personnel each, equipped with individual protection and radiation-monitoring equipment, lab devices and a vehicle decontamination unit. The total cost of facilities financed by the British side is 30 million rubles ($1,068,000).
The third infrastructure facility commissioned was a locker room for 100 people, equipped with special devices monitoring the level of personnel exposure to radiation. "The facility was built with participation of the Norwegian government, which allocated 1,300,000 Norwegian krones (some $220,000) for this," Rosenergoatom representative Anatoly Grigoryev told RIA Novosti.
Thus, he said, the first stage of creating infrastructure for the nuclear waste storage facility has been completed in the Andreyeva Bay.
The Andreyeva Bay is Europe's largest radioactive waste storage site. Besides spent nuclear fuel, the Andreyeva Bay contains over 10,000 tons of solid radioactive waste and some 600 cubic meters of liquid radioactive waste. There total radiation activity is comparable to radiation emission during the Chernobyl disaster.
The storage facility in the Andreyeva Bay was created some 40 years ago on the shore of the Motovsky Gulf as a temporary storage site and was supervised by the Defense Ministry. In 2000, it was handed over to the SevRAO state enterprise (department of Rosenergoatom). The creation of storage facility infrastructure, which would make it possible to finally start withdrawing radioactive waste from the Andreyeva Bay, was started after 2000 with participation of foreign partners. Now 12 projects with Norway, the U.K. and Sweden participating, are going on at the site, RIA-Novosti reported.
The development of Russia's relations with the European Union and interaction within the G8 will be discussed at a meeting between Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov and French President Jacques Chirac in Paris on Thursday, a source in the Russian delegation told Interfax.
The two officials are planning to consider Russia's upcoming presidency in the G8 in 2006, which it will take over from the UK.
Chirac and Fradkov are also likely to discuss bilateral interaction under the global partnership program that envisages assistance to Russia in scrapping chemical weapons. The source pointed out that France committed itself to allocating $100 million to help Russia dispose of weapons of mass destruction under the global partnership program, but has still not done so.
3. RUSSIAN PREMIER TO DISCUSS FRANCE'S DEBT UNDER CHEMICAL WEAPONS DISPOSAL PROGRAM
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While on a working visit to France on December 9-10, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov will discuss France's debt under the chemical weapons disposal program, reported a source in the Russian delegation.
"The Group of Eight has worked out a program of global partnership for aid in disposing Russia's stockpiles of chemical weapons. Unfortunately, France is a major debtor under the program," said the source.
France's quota under the program is $100 million, and the country has not thus far allocated the money.
Among other issues that will be touched on at Mr. Fradkov's meetings in Paris will be Russia's G8 presidency in 2006.
Besides, the delegates may discuss reducing or abolishing customs duties on certain Renault car parts, according to the source.
The delegate recalled that the Renault-Avtoframos carmaker, a French-Russian joint venture, operated in Russia.
"The parties will apparently discuss drafting a resolution reducing or abolishing Russian customs duties on certain car parts to promote cooperation in that sphere," said the source.
He said "Russian ministries are working in this direction, which can yield a practical result in a month's time already."
If approved the draft resolution will be submitted for the consideration of the Russian government's commission on protective measures and further on for the government's consideration.
1. Deployment generates interest, little opposition
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Deployment of the first U.S. national missile defense has produced little domestic or international opposition. In fact, there is growing interest among other nations in taking part in buying or cooperating in U.S. efforts to knock down enemy missiles and warheads.
Russia, with thousands of strategic nuclear missiles and its own limited missile defense, has said that the U.S. system does not threaten Moscow's security. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said in August that the interceptors in Alaska "pose no threat to Russia's security." He also said that "in theory Russia has never ruled out cooperation with the USA" in missile defenses.
China, on the other hand, has reacted modestly. "Our missile defenses aren't really a threat to China. And I think they know that," said an official who is involved in missile defense at the Pentagon. "It's not been a thunderous response or ruptured relations."
However, China has been more vocal in opposing U.S. short-range missile defenses, such as the Patriot PAC-3 or Aegis missile defense, that could be sold or used cooperatively in defending Taiwan, the official said.
China's official People's Daily, the newspaper of the ruling Communist Party, said U.S. missile defenses can contribute to world peace by stopping the accidental launch of a nuclear missile. "However, the [national missile defense], no matter how perfect it becomes, could not truly stop a nuclear war or a nuclear strike on the U.S. continent," the newspaper stated.
Japan is likely to become one of the major U.S. partners in overseas missile defense. Tokyo has agreed to buy the Navy's new Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) interceptor, which can be deployed on Japan's Aegis ships.
Japan also has expressed an interest in buying the Air Force's new Airborne Laser, the Boeing 747 with a laser gun outfitted in the nose that can shoot down short-range missiles. For the Japanese, the major missile threat comes from North Korea, which has 620-mile-range Nodong missiles that can hit Japan.
European allies Britain, Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania and Hungary also are interested in cooperative arrangements with the United States on missile defense. Poland already has designated the Powidz Air Base in the western part of the country as a potential interceptor base for U.S. missiles. Construction of a base in Europe could begin as early as 2006, defense officials said.
Australia has said it plans to develop missile defenses with the United States. Israel has deployed Arrow missile defenses that were developed jointly with the United States. India is considering the purchase of Patriot anti-missile systems to counter the threat from Pakistan's missiles.
Taiwan, which already has a less-capable version of the Patriot, is planning purchases of the PAC-3, perhaps as early as next year. Taiwan needs the defenses to counter the growing Chinese missile threat to the island. "The foremost threat from the Chinese communists is their some 600 ballistic missiles," said Adm. Chen Pang-chih, head of Taiwan's political warfare bureau.
1. Kazakhstan, U.S. broaden non-proliferation cooperation
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Kazakhstan and the United States have signed an amendment to their agreement on cooperation in the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
"The amendment ensures larger U.S. financing for Kazakh projects in the non-proliferation of biological weapons," says a Thursday press release from the Kazakh Embassy in the United States.
The amendment will upgrade bilateral cooperation "in the non- proliferation of biological weapons and the threat of bio-terrorism," the press release reads.
It is planned to build a laboratory and a system for monitoring infectious diseases in Kazakhstan under the agreement and within the framework of the Nunn-Lugar program. The system will help to detect, diagnose and respond to natural outbreaks of infectious diseases and possible epidemics caused by terrorist acts.
The United States and Kazakhstan will jointly develop molecular diagnostics and therapy for infectious diseases in Central Asia, the press release reads.
The Nunn-Lugar program has helped Kazakhstan to withdraw 1,100 nuclear warheads, each equivalent to 1 megaton TNT, to liquidate the infrastructure of the Semipalatinsk nuclear testing range, where about 500 nuclear tests were made in Soviet times, to liquidate a biological weapon plant in Stepnogorsk, and to implement dozens of other projects.
1. IRANIAN PRESIDENT CALLS OPINION EXCHANGE BETWEEN RUSSIA AND IRAN ON NUCLEAR ENERGY ISSUES POSITIVE
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Iranian President Mohammad Khatami called the exchange of opinions between Russia and Iran on the issues of nuclear energy positive.
According to press service of the Iranian president, during a meeting with Russian Federation Council (upper chamber of the parliament) Speaker Sergei Mironov, who visited Iran on December 11-12, Mr. Khatami praised the Russian position, which supports the right of Iran to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, and said "the exchange of opinions between Moscow and Tehran on the issues of nuclear energy is positive."
"The political pressure applied on Iran by the United States has always been an obstacle on the way of the settlement of the Iranian nuclear program issue. Even today, when Iran has been cleared of accusations in regard to its nuclear programs, the U.S. continues the unjust attempts to influence the IAEA leadership," the Iranian President said.
He stressed that "Tehran has interrupted the implementation of its nuclear programs as a gesture of goodwill and expects that the European Union will observe its obligations and create conditions for the use of nuclear technologies for peaceful purposes."
Mr. Khatami also stated that "the relations between Russia and Iran might contribute to peace and security in the Caucasus region and Central Asia, the areas that are important to the Islamic republic of Iran."
"After accomplishing the task of establishing security in Afghanistan, Russia and Iran stand for stability in the Caucasus region and will not allow foreign interference in the regional affairs," the Iranian president emphasized.
He stated "Moscow and Tehran stand against unilateral policies and terrorism. We support the joint struggle against this evil and consider double-standard policies in the fight against terrorism unacceptable."
Speaking about problems in the Caspian Sea region, Mr. Khatami underlined that "this region is shared by five nations (Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan) and nobody else has the right to interfere in the regional affairs."
The Iranian president stressed upon the necessity to reach understanding among neighboring countries in the Caspian Sea region to establish the legal status of the region. "Considering the status and the role of Russia in the region, we expect that the Russian Federation will make all possible efforts to find the final solution of the problem while respecting the interests of all members of the Caspian family."
2. Russia and Iran will Continue Nuclear Cooperation
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December 13, Nuclear energy is a promising field of Russia and Iran cooperation, Chairman of the Federation Council Sergey Mironov, currently visiting Iran told the journalists in Teheran. He said Iran was interested in cooperating with Russia in the area of nuclear energy, BBC reports.
The United States is concerned with such cooperation, as well as with Iranï¿½s plans on uranium enrichment. It is afraid that Teheran may start developing nuclear arms, BBC emphasizes. The EU is also concerned with Iranï¿½s nuclear programs.
ï¿½Russia cooperates with Iran in the framework of the international tights, and Moscow is planning to continue the cooperation,ï¿½ Mironov emphasized.
In Teheran, according to the results of negotiations of RAO UES board chairman Anatoly Chubais with Iran's Energy Minister Habibollah Bitaraf and the head of Tavanir energy company Muhammad Ahmendi was signed a protocol about organization of parallel work of the Iran energy system with the United Energy system of Russia, through Azerbaijanï¿½s energy system.
Let us remind you that the Federation Council delegation headed by Mironov began its official visit to Iran on December 11, 2004 and will end it today. In the first day of the visit chairman of Federation Council met with the chairman of Iran Majlis Ali Haddad-Adel and the supervisory board chairman Ahmad Jannati. Today, Mironov will be speaking at the Iran Majlis meeting.
Meanwhile, it became known that the U.S. Security Council is preparing a mass forces action against Iran in order to eliminate its nuclear potential and abolish the anti-American regime. This was reported by the Echo of Moscow radio station, referring to Saudi As-shark Al-Ausat, published in London. The edition mentions that the invasion plan was developed by a group of Pentagon and special services experts. After the Americans bomb Iran bases their land forces will start occupying the country. The U.S. military is planning to attack Iran from the territory of Georgia and Azerbaijan and from Iraq.
Let us remind you that in November, Iran authorities warned the whole world that if it was attacked it would strike back no matter what country initiated the attack. Iran government mentioned that it may direct the strike either at the countryï¿½s territory or at its ï¿½interestsï¿½ abroad.
Let us also emphasize that on November 15, Iran agreed to stop uranium enrichment completely. After that Iran and the EU signed the final agreement, and Teheran agreed to stop all activity which is considered dangerous by the international community.
3. FIRST UNIT OF BUSHEHR NUCLEAR POWER PLANT TO BE PUT INTO COMMISSION IN 2006
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The first energy unit of the Bushehr nuclear power plant will be put into commission in 2006, Speaker of the Russian Federation Council Sergei Mironov, currently on an official visit to Iran, said on Saturday.
The sides coordinated the schedule of putting into commission the first unit of the Bushehr nuclear power plant [Russia is involved in the construction of this object on the northern shore of the Persian Gulf] and I believe that this work will be done on schedule," Mr. Mironov said.
"Moscow has a principled position on Russian-Iranian nuclear energy cooperation. Iran as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty has the right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes," the speaker stressed.
According to him, Russian-Iranian cooperation in the nuclear energy sphere is transparent and open and complies with the international law.
Speaking about the purposes of his visit to Iran, Sergei Mironov said that he is to discuss the whole range of bilateral relations.
"The very fact of this visit proves that Russian-Iranian cooperation is developing. It meets the strivings of our nations," the Federation Council speaker emphasized.
4. Iran, Russia working out technical details of Bushehr plant: official
Xinhua News Agency
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Iran and Russia are working out technical details of an agreement to bring the joint-constructed Bushehr nuclear power plant on line in 2006, the official IRNA news agency reported on Saturday.
Visiting Russian Federation Council Chairman Sergei Mironov, who arrived in Iran earlier in the day for a two-day visit, was quoted as saying that Iran has the right to peaceful nuclear technology in the framework of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Bushehr plant, Iran's first nuclear power plant, is being built with Russia's aid in a Persian Gulf island in the southern province of Bushehr.
The United States has pressured Moscow to abandon the project with the accusation that Tehran is developing nuclear weapons.
In order to prevent Iran from making nuclear weapons with spent fuel, Russia conditions delivery of nuclear fuel to Iran on an agreement signed between the two sides assuring all spent fuel would be returned to Russia.
The repeated failures in reaching the agreement have delayed the operation of the Bushehr nuclear plant.
On Aug. 22, Iran said that the plant would become operational in October 2006, a year delayed against the schedule.
The two sides on Oct. 10 announced that an agreement on return of spent fuel from the nuclear power plant to Russia has come to the final stage.
However, the repeated delays of the project had angered the Islamic Republic, which voiced its suspension that Russia could be trying to use the project as a bargaining chip in its political horse-trading with the US.
A senior Iranian official recently sent a veiled warning to Russia, making it clear that the Iranians would judge the Russians by their performance in Bushehr, IRNA said.
1. Russia concerned over N. Korea nuclear treaty pullout
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Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said Russia "is seriously concerned about the current situation on the Korean Peninsula."
"Our position is that the decision made by the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] to withdraw from the treaty on the non- proliferation of nuclear weapons can significantly weaken the global community's efforts aimed at strengthening the regimes against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction," Ivanov said at a meeting in Moscow on Friday.
"On this issue, Russia's military-political leadership is guided by the need for the Korean Peninsula to become a nuclear-free area," he said.
Russia's long-range bombers will conduct several missile test launches in various parts of the world in 2005.
"The testing area will be considerably enlarged," said Igor Khvorov, commander of the 37th Strategic Air Army.
Test launches will be carried out during joint exercises with the navy in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and their number will be much greater than in 2004, he said.
In the nuclear triad, long-range aviation is the best means of implementing the policy of deterrence, Khvorov said. He added that during flights to various regions, long-range aircraft "gather a great deal of information."
He announced that meetings with U.S. air force officials will continue in 2005. "We meet each year in Russia and in the U.S. to exchange experience and ideas and visit air bases," Khvorov said.
2. Strategic Rocket Forces commander outlines plans for the future
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At a press-conference held in Moscow on December 10, 2004, the Commander of the Strategic Rocket Forces, Col.-General Nikolay Solovtsov, described the plans for the future of the Russian missile forces.
The plans include continued deployment of Topol-M single-warhead missile. Four silo-based missiles of this type will be deployed by the end of this year, bringing the total to 40 missiles. One more regiment (up to ten missiles) will be deployed in 2005.
The road-mobile version of the Topol-M missile is still undergoing testing ï¿½ the fourth and the last flight test will take place in December 2004. According to Solovtsovï¿½s statement, deployment of mobile Topol-M regiments will not begin before 2006, after which the Strategic Rocket Forces plans to deploy from three to nine mobile missile systems annually.
The Strategic Rocket Forces will retire all RT-23UTTH (SS-24) rail-mobile missiles, completing the process that it began in 2003 by eliminating two of the three divisions equipped with these missiles and consolidating the rest in a division in Kostroma. This division will be disbanded in 2005.
Another division that will be disbanded in 2005 is the division in Kartaly, which included older modification of the heavy SS-18 missile ï¿½ R-36MUTTH (also knows as RS-20B). According to Solovtsov, all missiles of this type will be withdrawn from service by 2008. He also stated that the remaining heavy missiles (known as R-36M2 or SS-18/RS-20V), will stay in service for 10-15 more years.
Some of the R-36MUTTH missiles will be used as space launchers. These launchers, known as Dnepr, have been used for launches of small satellite into low Earth orbit since 1999. All four launches conducted so far took place in Baykonur launch site. Baykonur is also the only site that has been available for training and test launches of combat missiles of the R-36M (SS-18) family. This is about to change ï¿½ the Strategic Rocket Forces is preparing for the first training launch of a heavy missile from the Dombarovsky missile base, which is scheduled on December 22nd, 2004. Solovtsov stated that all future training launches of the R-36M2 missile ï¿½ five to seven launches annually ï¿½ will be conducted from Dombarovsky (which, unlike Baykonur, is located in Russia). It is likely that the site will be used for space launches of the Dnepr launcher as well ï¿½ the company that markets SS-18 launch services, Kosmotras, was involved in preparations that made the launches from Dombarovsky possible.
3. RUSSIA SET TO UPGRADE ITS NUCLEAR AND CONVENTIONAL WEAPONS: IVANOV
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Russia, which unfailingly abides by all previously signed and ratified international agreements, aspires for the well-balanced development of strategic nuclear forces and to maintain their personnel at required levels. This was disclosed to foreign military diplomats today in Moscow by Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov.
According to Ivanov, the Yury Dolgoruky fourth-generation SSBN (Strategic Submarine Ballistic Nuclear) will be commissioned next year, with the Russian Air Force receiving two Tupolev Tu-160 Blackjack strategic bombers.
State tests of the silo-based Topol-M inter-continental ballistic missile's (ICBM's) mobile ground-based version, as well as those of the Bulava (Mace) new-generation submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), are being conducted rather successfully, Ivanov told those present.
In Ivanov's words, general-purpose forces will receive a lot of new and revamped weaponry and combat hardware; permanent-readiness units and elements will be getting them, in the first place.
As of January 1, 2005, Russia's Armed Forces will have 1,207,000 officers and soldiers, as well as 876,000 civilian personnel, after incorporating the railroad force.
At the same time, we are guided by geopolitical requirements and the defense-sufficiency principle, while planning our military potential's possible use, Ivanov informed his audience.
As far as our Armed Forces' mass-destruction weapons are concerned, I can assure you that the Defense Ministry attaches priority to guarding such weapons against terrorists, etc., Ivanov stressed.
According to Ivanov, the first special Russian peace-keeping brigade will be established by February 2005 on the basis of one of the Volga-Urals military district's mechanized-infantry units. This brigade will take part in a joint Russia-NATO program for enhancing combat compatibility of national military formations. This program stipulates quite a few joint combat-training, language-training and other related projects, Ivanov explained.
The peace-keeping brigade will have just over 2,000 men, comprising three mechanized-infantry battalions, a reconnaissance battalion, as well as logistics-support units, Ivanov noted in conclusion.
Moscow revealed the first hints of its secretive new nuclear weapons priorities on Friday with a top Russian general saying that a new generation of strategic missiles would soon be mobile on land and that this was far from the only thing that Moscow had in store.
President Vladimir Putin put the world on alert last month with an announcement that Russia has conducted tests on new nuclear systems and that they had so far gone according to plan. But he gave no further details. Putin's defense chiefs said separately that Russia was also equipping its nuclear bombers with massive conventional cruise missiles -- just like the United States has done for years and that a pre-emptive "anti-terror" strike could be made any time anywhere in the world.
Western states have scrambled for clarification of Moscow's cryptic and mixed messages -- all delivered in a steady sequence amid a geopolitical confrontation over the new leadership of Ukraine.
But some Russian military secrets were opened Friday by General Nikolai Solovtsov, the head of Russia's nuclear force, who said Putin primarily meant that Moscow within the next few years would deploy land-mobile strategic nuclear missiles for the first time.
"He was talking about the mobile Topol-M," Solovtsov said of Russia's latests nuclear threat.
The missiles have been developed in a Moscow laboratory and are comparable to the feared Minuteman weapon from the United States.
"But this was not the only thing that he was talking about," the general added.
"We are developing some other things as well," he said while refusing to give further details.
"And yes, these will be different things from what anyone else has," he said with a smile.
Solovtsov said Russia would not have any land-mobile strategic nuclear weapons in 2005 -- as had been originally promised -- but would deploy at least three by 2006.
"From then on, we will get from six to nine rockets a year," he said. Russia's nuclear message is often covered by layers of mystery and contradictions.
Putin frequently announces new advances in public while the military complains in private of a lack of money and a fast reduction of available rockets and missile troops.
The general confirmed for the first time that Russia will have to scrap its railroad missile system within a matter of months because the main components are built in Ukraine -- which has scrapped its nuclear program. "We are not likely to see such a thing again in our lifetime," Solovtsov said.
But Solovtsov said the Russian army, short on cash but powerful on technology, would rely on its nuclear force for years to come despite agreements with Washington to warhead limits.
"Unfortunately, there is no alternative to nuclear arms," Solovtsov said. "This is why so many other countries are trying to get them."
Moscow had tried to put mobile intercontinental nuclear missiles in place since the Soviet era but they were never officially deployed as part of the country's nuclear arsenal.
Meanwhile analysts suggest that Russia is also in the latter stages of developing a hypersonic missile along with one that works as a cruise missile once re-entering the earth's orbit to avoid rockets that could shoot it down.
None of this technology is officially acknowledged as being available in the United States.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said separately Friday that Moscow would defend its border and national interests, opening up the possibility of preventive strikes on suspected terror bases while ruling out use of nuclear weaponry in doing so.
"Russia," he said, "is far from being the only country to announce its readiness to carry out preventive strikes on terrorist bases."
"We do not rule out the possibility of carrying out preventive strikes on terrorist bases at any location in the world," Ivanov said.
But he added: "The only limit is exclusion of strikes with nuclear weapons."
5. RUSSIAN MISSILE FORCE COMMANDER PROMISES GREAT FUTURE TO TOPOL M
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In 2005, another missile regiment armed with Topol M ICBMs is to be commissioned, Russian Missile Force Commander Nikolai Solovtsov told a news conference in Moscow.
"Currently we are planning re-arming another regiment with the Topol M missiles," he said.
According to Missile Force Commander, this will be the fifth such regiment in the Russian Armed Forces.
"In the last years, we have commissioned four missile regiments, a 40-launcher force," he said.
Solovtsov also said the first regiments armed with mobile Topols would come into action within two to three years, the ultimate goal of the Topol program being to have several divisions deployed.
In 2006 three to nine mobile Topol M launchers will be commissioned, Solovtsov told reporters.
"In 2005 the mobile launchers will not yet begin combat duty, but after 2006 we will deploy three to nine missiles per year," he said.
He claimed the flight tests of missiles for mobile launchers would be finished soon.
"Before the end of this year we are going to make two combat training launches: on December 22 a heavy missile will be launched from a permanent post; the other launch from the Plesetsk Space Center will be part of the Topol M flight test program," he said.
By 2008-2009, all old-fashioned heavy missiles would be put off combat duty, the Missile Force Commander said.
"Well, we have some heavy missiles, and we are decommissioning the older versions. By 2008-2009, we will put off duty all old-class liquid-propellant missiles," he went on but said newer missiles will still be operational.
"Today we forecast that they will be able to stay operational for 10 to 15 years to come," he said.
According to Solovtsov, liquid-propellant missiles have proved rather robust. Initially intended for ten-year service, they can have their service life extended two times and even 2.5 times, he said, still retaining superb performance.
According to the general, in the short term the planned six main classes of [ballistic] missiles will give way to two classes, both based on the solid-propellant Topol M concept. One will be designed for silo-based, the other for mobile launchers.
At the same time, Solovtsov admitted "calculating the prospects of liquid-propellant missiles." He said the issue was being considered at the research plenary meeting of the Strategic Missile Force leadership.
"I do not rule out that this direction will be considered in the future, though in the long term," he said.
In 2004, according to him, 14 units have been reduced in the Strategic Missile Force this year, and "five of them were missile regiments."
Explaining the reasons behind the reduction, Solovtsov said, "We do understand that, even if the service lives [of our missiles] can be extended twice or even three times, this cannot be done all the time for fear of severe consequences. We have to decommission outdated missiles because reliability and safety are our top priorities," the commander said.
He said 70% to 80% of the personnel would stay in the ranks, while 15% to 20% would most probably be fired. According to him, "[all] complicated missions have been accomplished" this year, and the Strategic Missile Force always proved highly skilled when put to test.
6. Russian nuclear forces to be kept at containment ability level
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A priority task of the Russian Armed Forces at the given phase of their development is ï¿½to keep the nuclear forces at a level, guaranteeing their ability to contain an aggression against Russia and its allies,ï¿½ Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov stated on Friday in the course of his meeting here with representatives of the Moscow military-diplomatic corps.
ï¿½Russiaï¿½s policy is based, as before, on the ability of its nuclear policy to deal retaliatory strikes on the enemy, sufficient enough to call in question the aggressorï¿½s capability of attaining his end goals. Moreover, we are endeavouring to develop all the component parts of the strategic containment forces in a properly balanced way and to keep their combat personnel at the necessary level,ï¿½ the minister noted.
According to the plan, the Strategic Missile Forces are now being rearmed with Topol-M silo-based missile systems, the minister added. The mobile version of this weapon and the new-generation Bulava naval missile complex are now being successfully tested. The Navy will get next year the fourth-generation ï¿½Yuri Dolgorukyï¿½ strategic nuclear-propelled submarine and the Air Force ï¿½ two strategic Tu-160 bombers.
Kazakhstan has created a Kazakh Nuclear University. A presentation ceremony of the new university has been held in Alma- Ata.
The Kazakh Nuclear University created under the Kazatomprom National nuclear company is intended for upgrading the qualification of engineering and technical personnel of enterprises of the uranium industry and profile training of senior students of institutes and colleges, said University Rector Marat Ismailov.
The university teachers are prominent scientists, teachers of the Satpayev National Technical University, Al Farabi National University under the Kazatomprom state company.
Two-week courses on the technologies of uranium production and processing opened the course of tuition at the new university. In future, the university curriculum will be broadened to include studies of nuclear fuel production and development of nuclear power engineering.
By the year 2010 Kazatomprom intends to increase uranium production fivefold, but shortages of qualified personnel might thwart these plans.
In Soviet era institutes of the Russian Federation trained personnel for that industry, while at present no more such experts are sent to Kazakhstan.
1. Russia weapons of mass destruction under special control
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The safeguarding of Russiaï¿½s weapons of mass destruction is under special control of the Defence Ministry, Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov said at his meeting with members of the military diplomatic corps in Moscow on Friday.
He said results of the special tactical exercise Accident-2004 at one of facilities in the Murmansk region was conducted in the presence of representatives of 17 NATO states, and ï¿½despite the statements about allegedly existing problems with safety of nuclear weapons in Russia, prove the contraryï¿½.
Ivanov said an antiterrorist scenario had been increasing frequently made a basis of special and general-purpose army exercises.
He cited as example the operational strategic exercises Mobility- 2004 during which special operations against terrorist bands and movement of permanent readiness troops from the European part of Russia to the Russian Far East were drilled.
2. Yet another reactor shutdown at Russian nuclear plant near Finland
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The oldest reactor at the Sosnovyi Bor nuclear power plant, serving the St. Petersburg area near Finland, has shut down for the second time since it was fired up in October after months of extensive repairs. An automatic switch-off took place on Monday. According to the power plant officials, the reactor is scheduled for a restart on Friday night.
"I cannot tell you the reason for the switch-off because I don't know it", the power plant's information officer, engineer Valeria Nikitina, told Helsingin Sanomat.
The previous shutdown in October followed an incorrect temperature reading caused by old sensors that were used in a new measuring system.
The oldest reactor at the Sosnovyi Bor power plant on the southern coast of the Gulf of Finland completed its original 30-year service life in 2003 and was closed for repairs.
Among other things the reactor's fuel channels were replaced and a second emergency shutdown system was added. A new safety building furnished with a diesel generator and pressurised water tanks was also constructed.
According to Nikitina, the authorities have now extended the reactor's operating life until 2006. After that the power plant intends to apply for another 15-year extension on the use of the reactor.
According to Sosnovyi Bor officials Monday's automatic switch-off is proof that the power plant's security systems work impeccably. "The reactor itself does not have any problems. No abnormal radiation readings have been detected."
Project manager Kim Sï¿½derling from Finland's Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority agrees that the power plant is now a lot safer than it was ten years ago.
Russian environmental NGO Zelionyi Mir claims, however, that the stoppages betray the fact that the reactor is unable to operate at full capacity.
"For example, we have information that the plant consumes more than the normal amount of helium to cool down its graphite rods, which are used to control and restrain the nuclear reaction", announces Zelionyi Mir organisation's chairman, physicist Oleg Bodrov.
3. Baikonur spaceport cleared from radioactive materials
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The Baikonur spaceport has been cleared from radioactive materials. ï¿½Works to clear Baikonur from radioactive materials and their dumping at the Semipalatinsk shooting range in Kazakhstan have been completed,ï¿½ a source at the press service of the Baikonur-located test and operation centre of the Vympel design bureau told Itar-Tass on Thursday.
The problem of dumping unused radioactive sources appeared long ago, the source went on to say. ï¿½The (Baikonur) spaceport like any other hi-tech facility received equipment containing radioactive materials or ionisation radiation sources,ï¿½ he said. The expert explained that those were predominantly various transducers, including radioisotope smoke and icing detectors and devices to check measurement instruments.
ï¿½Transducers which worked off their service life used to be stored in a special place at the 94A platform,ï¿½ the press service said.
ï¿½The measurements, which Russian and Kazakh experts took at the place of storage of radioactive waste upon the completion of all works showed that the gamma-ray emission there didnï¿½t exceed the natural radiation background while the floor and the walls of the storage were not contaminated with radioactive nuclides,ï¿½ the source emphasized.
A team of experts of the Russian scientific-production association Radon cleared the Baikonur cosmodrome from radioactive materials jointly with their colleagues from the Semipalatinsk shooting range.
1. Kazakhstan Signs Agreement to Prevent Spread of Bioweapons
Department of State
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Kazakhstan and the United States have signed an agreement designed to eliminate the threat of proliferating biological weapons (BW) or the use of related technology or know-how by terrorists.
On December 8, the two nations signed an amendment to a 1995 bilateral agreement that is part of the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program. The program is designed to prevent the proliferation of biological weapons technology, pathogens and expertise.
Under the terms of agreement, the United States will provide $35 million for study projects, including one designed to develop medical countermeasures for diseases than could be spread in Central Asia by biological agents such as the plague.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar pushed for stronger cooperation between the two nations during a visit to Almaty in 2003. The latest development prompted he to praise the Bush administration and the Defense Department: "This is a critical step forward in addressing the threat posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction," Senator Lugar said.
Lugar also praised Kazakhstan for partnering with the United States "to work toward successfully eliminating the risk of biological weapons and preventing bioterrorism."
The U.S. assistance will be used to prevent the proliferation of BW through cooperative research efforts, strengthen biosafety and biosecurity at Kazakh facilities, consolidate dangerous biological agents at secured central repositories, eliminate BW-related equipment and infrastructure, and bolster Kazakhstan's ability to detect biological agents and to deter or respond to an attack.
Lugar spokesman Mark Hayes is quoted in the Global Security Newswire as saying this is the first time the United States has had a comprehensive biological weapons engagement with Kazakhstan.
Kazakhstan has not signed the 1975 convention banning biological weapons.
2. Security Upgrades Completed at Three Russian Nuclear Facilities; NNSA Continues Work to Keep Nuclear Material Out of the Hands of Terrorists
National Nuclear Security Administration
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The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) commemorated ten years of work securing nuclear and radiological material in Russia and the former Soviet Union by completing security upgrades at two Russian nuclear facilities this week. Upgrades at a third facility were completed in September.
"The completion of these upgrades is an important milestone in cooperative efforts to prevent terrorists from gaining access to Russia's nuclear facilities. NNSA has completed work at nearly 70 percent of sensitive Russian sites," NNSA Administrator Linton F. Brooks said. "We will continue our important work partnering with the Russians to keep nuclear weapons material out of the hands of terrorists."
"Ongoing efforts by NNSA to secure nuclear material, nuclear weapons, and nuclear facilities in Russia form a central element of the Bush administration's priority on nonproliferation efforts worldwide. Few government programs are more directly connected to denying terrorists the materials they need for assembling nuclear weapons," Brooks continued.
NNSA has accelerated its security work at the most vulnerable sites first, which tended to be the smaller sites. The larger sites that remain to be secured in Russia are fewer in number but contain significant amounts of nuclear material. These remaining sites can be secured with roughly the same amount of time and effort as previously completed sites containing much less material. As a result, NNSA will secure much more material per year as the remaining sites are addressed and complete its work by 2008.
NNSA has already made dramatic progress in securing sites. Security improvements at nearly 70 percent of the Russian sites are complete. By the end of 2005, close to 80 percent will be complete. In 2003 and 2004, NNSA secured more vulnerable material than in any other two-year period since the program began.
The three sites where NNSA Material Protection Control and Accounting (MPC&A) security upgrades have recently taken place are the Novosibirsk Chemical Concentrates Plant, the Urals Electrochemical Integrated Plant, and the Electrochemical Plant at Zelenogorsk.
The following is a general description of each site and the security work conducted there:
Production Association Electrochemical Plant -- The Production Association Electrochemical Plant (ECP), located in the closed city of Zelenogorsk, held its commissioning ceremony on Dec. 8, 2004. The ECP is one of four Russian sites that downblend highly enriched uranium into low-enriched uranium under the U.S.-Russian Uranium Purchase Agreement. It also produces thirty percent of Russia's low-enriched uranium fuel for commercial power reactors.
A U.S. delegation, led by Paul Longsworth, deputy administrator for defense nuclear nonproliferation, donned protective clothing to tour interim storage vaults for highly enriched uranium and the downblending facility. Longsworth also presented awards to the U.S. and Russian project staff in recognition of their work on the project.
This work was accomplished primarily through contracts with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and with Russian equipment vendors and contractors. The MPC&A program will continue to provide low levels of support to the site to ensure long-term maintenance and operability of the upgraded systems until the year 2012.
Urals Electrochemical Enrichment Plant -- The Urals Electrochemical Enrichment Plant (UEIP), located in the closed city of Novouralsk, held its commissioning ceremony on December 6, 2004. UEIP is a highly diversified enterprise that produces, among other commercial products, enriched uranium for commercial nuclear fuel.
A U.S. delegation viewed the physical protection upgrades MPC&A helped install, including hardened doors and windows, a material storage area, new protective and communications equipment, transportation security vehicles, computer-based material inventory systems, bar code equipment, electronic scales and modern analysis instrumentation for rapid, accurate inventorying. This work was accomplished primarily through contracts with Oak Ridge and Pacific Northwest National Laboratories and with Russian equipment vendors and contractors. The MPC&A program will continue to provide low levels of support to the site to ensure maintenance and operability of the upgraded systems until the year 2012.
Novosibirsk Chemical Concentrates Plant -- The Novosibirsk Chemical Concentrates Plant (NCCP), located in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, marked the completion of its MPC&A upgrades at a commissioning ceremony on Sept. 30, 2004. NCCP is one of the country's largest enterprises and provides nuclear fuel for atomic power stations and research reactors in Europe, Asia, and the Far East. It was among the first Russian nuclear sites to receive material security upgrades under the MPC&A program.
A U.S. delegation toured the upgraded areas and observed firsthand an upgraded alarm and video monitoring system, secure storage construction, and new protective and communications equipment and transportation security vehicles. The delegation also saw elements of the substantial material accountancy systems provided under the MPC&A program.
This work was accomplished primarily through contracts with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratory, and Russian equipment vendors and contractors. The MPC&A program will continue to provide low levels of support to the site to ensure maintenance and operability of the upgraded systems until the year 2013. Anatoly Kotelnikov, deputy director of the Russian Federal Atomic Energy Agency, NCCP site officials, and Russian project team members joined the U.S. delegation at the ribbon cutting ceremony.
3. Statement Meeting of the NATO-Russia Council at the level of Foreign Ministers NATO Headquarters, Brussels, NATO-Russia Action Plan on Terrorism
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
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We, the Foreign Ministers of the NATO-Russia Council, met in Brussels on 9 December 2004. We welcomed the notable progress that has been achieved in implementing the decisions taken at our last meeting on 28 June 2004 in Istanbul, and reiterated our determination to build upon the solid foundations we have established, by seeking ever greater opportunities to intensify our political dialogue and further develop our practical cooperation in the spirit of the May 2002 Rome Declaration. We noted with satisfaction the growing practical and operational character of NRC cooperation. We underscored the need to develop further our ability to work together in concrete ways to respond quickly and efficiently to an increasing number of emerging threats to the security and well-being of our peoples, and pledged once again to contribute to the security of all in the Euro-Atlantic area.
Continuing the political consultations conducted in 2004 on the situations in Afghanistan, in the Balkans, in Georgia and in Iraq, we exchanged views on current international security issues.
With respect to the situation in Ukraine, we took note of the steps taken by all parties toward resolution of the political crisis in accordance with the rule of law and Ukraine's constitutional norms. We appealed to all parties to continue to avoid the use or instigation of violence, to refrain from intimidation of voters, and to work to ensure a free, fair electoral process that reflects the will of the Ukrainian people. We reiterated our support for the independence, the sovereignty, the territorial integrity of and democracy in Ukraine. This is vital for the common and indivisible security and stability of all.
We reiterated our solidarity in the face of the terrorist threat, and our determination to strengthen our cooperation in preventing, combating and managing the consequences of terrorist acts, acting in accordance with the UN Charter, international law and human rights. We were pleased to take two concrete decisions to transform this political will into action. We approved a comprehensive NRC Action Plan on Terrorism, which will guide our future efforts in all aspects of this common struggle, and welcomed agreement on the modalities of Russian contribution to NATO Operation Active Endeavour in the Mediterranean Sea aimed at helping deter, defend, disrupt and protect against terrorism. In this context, we noted with particular satisfaction that NATO and Russian military forces already have begun preparing to serve side by side in this operation.
We reiterated our determination to work to promote security and stability in and around Afghanistan, and welcomed Russia's offer to provide practical support to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). We also expressed concern over threats posed by the narcotics industry in Afghanistan, including its links to the financing of terrorism. In this context, we noted the Report of the Chairman of the October 2004 NRC Seminar on threats posed by trafficking in Afghan narcotics, and approved the recommendations contained therein, agreeing to explore further NATO-Russia cooperation in this area.
We noted ongoing work in the field of crisis management, and in particular the successful conduct of the NATO-Russia Procedural Exercise in September. Taking into account principles contained in the Generic Concept for Joint NATO-Russia Peacekeeping Operations, we are determined to seek appropriate ways to develop and build upon lessons learned from this exercise, in order to ensure the success of any future joint peacekeeping operations.
We were particularly content to note the continued intensification of cooperation among our military forces, and the adoption of an ambitious Work Plan for 2005 and Beyond to guide the future work of NRC Military Representatives. In addition to increasing the interoperability levels of our forces, such efforts also help build the mutual understanding and trust necessary for a meaningful, sustainable partnership. We stressed the importance of NRC cooperation on defence reform, and welcomed the October 2004 agreement by NRC Defence Ministers on an initial framework for Political-Military Guidance towards Enhanced Interoperability between Russian and NATO Forces. In this context, we looked forward to Russiaï¿½s early accession to the Partnership for Peace Status of Forces Agreement, which would facilitate intensified joint training and other forms of practical cooperation.
We agreed to build upon the success of the June 2004 civil emergency response exercise "Kaliningrad 2004" by developing a joint exercise programme in this area and developing further the Hungarian-Russian initiative on civil emergency planning and response. We also welcomed the success of ï¿½Avariya 2004ï¿½, the field demonstration on nuclear weapon accident/incident response procedures hosted by the Russian Federation in August 2004, and the offer of the United Kingdom to host a similar event in September 2005.
We noted progress in our ongoing efforts to broaden and strengthen cooperation in evaluating and responding to threats posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their means of delivery. We further decided to initiate practical cooperation on protection from NBC agents. We look forward to a full report in the autumn of 2005 on the results of focused expert discussions of specific opportunities for such cooperation.
Finally, we recalled all relevant statements, reaffirmed the 4 June 2003 Statement of NRC Foreign Ministers in Madrid, and recalled NATO's position on providing political assurances of restraint. We also reaffirmed adherence to the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) as a cornerstone of European security. We reaffirmed our determination to fulfil the commitments reflected in the Final Act of the 1999 Conference of the States Parties to the CFE Treaty. Calling upon all CFE States Parties to promote achievement of this shared goal, we agreed to continue work co-operatively toward ratification by all the States Parties and entry into force of the Agreement on Adaptation of the CFE Treaty, which would permit accession by non-CFE states. We welcomed the approach of the four non-CFE member states, who have stated their intention to request accession to the adapted CFE Treaty upon its entry into force, and agreed that their accession would provide an important additional contribution to European stability and security. We reaffirmed our readiness to pursue work in the field of arms control and confidence-building measures.
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