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Nuclear News - 3/24/2004
RANSAC Nuclear News, March 24, 2004
Compiled By: Matthew Bouldin


A.  Russian Research Reactor Fuel Return
    1. US Plan To Get Highly Enriched Uranium Out Of Civilian Cycle: IAEA, AFP (3/18/2004)
B.  Nuclear Terror
    1. Al Qaeda Bluffing About Having Suitcase Nukes, Experts Say, Anna Badkhen,, San Francisco Chronicle (3/23/2004)
    2. Experts Doubt Al-Qaida Nuclear Claim , Pamela Hess, United Press International (3/22/2004)
    3. Hamid Mir (excerpted), Enough Rope with Andrew Denton, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (3/22/2004)
    4. Moscow Dismisses Allegations That Terrorists Bought Nuclear Weapons In Russia, RIA Novosti (3/22/2004)
    5. Russian Defence Ministry Flatly Rejects Possibility Of Terrorists' Buying Nuclear Weapons In Russia, RIA Novosti (3/22/2004)
C.  Sub Dismantlement
    1. The Russian Atomic Submarine “Kislovodsk” is to be Utilized at Severodvinsk on U.S. Means, ITAR-TASS (3/23/2004)
    2. Polystyrene Foam To Increase Buoyancy Of Retired Nuclear Submarines , Bellona Foundation (3/22/2004)
D.  Nuclear Cities
    1. Enterprises of “Nuclear” Ozersk Will Receive 328 Thousand Pounds Sterling from the British, RusEnergy (3/23/2004)
E.  G-8 Global Partnerships
    1. Great Britain To Allocate Russia $30 Mln On Utilization Of Used Nuclear Fuel , RIA Novosti (3/23/2004)
    2. Italian Delegation Visited Zvezdochka Shipyard , Bellona Foundation (3/19/2004)
F.  Threat Reduction Expansion
    1. Experts Say Much Work Needed To Finish Libyan Disarmament, Chris Schneidmiller, Global Security Newswire (3/23/2004)
G.  U.S. - Russia
    1. After a 20-Year Break, the U.S. is Again Interested in Russian Fast-Neutron Reactors, ITAR-TASS (3/19/2004)
H.  Russia - Iran
    1. Moscow May Help Iran Build Second Reactor At Bushehr , IRNA (3/24/2004)
    2. Moscow Welcomes Iran’s Cooperation with IAEA , IRNA (3/24/2004)
    3. Nuclear Fuel Repatriation Protocol With Iran To Be Signed Soon , IRNA (3/24/2004)
    4. Russian Atomic Energy Minister To Visit Iran In May , IRNA (3/24/2004)
    5. Russia's Nuclear Boss Says Iran Plans Back on Track, Reuters (3/22/2004)
I.  Russia - North Korea
    1. China For Min To Discuss New Round Of Talks On Nuke Issue In Pyongyang, ITAR-TASS (3/23/2004)
J.  Nuclear Forces
    1. Putin Resorting to Cold War Threats, J. Michael Waller , Insight on the News (3/30/2004)
    2. Russian Journalist Describes Censorship Pressure, J. Michael Waller , Insight on the News (3/30/2004)
    3. Expert Doubts Russian Cruiser Has 'Catastrophic' Problem, AFP (3/23/2004)
    4. Navy Chief Retracts Nuclear Flagship 'Explosion' Claim , Scotsman.com (3/23/2004)
    5. Old Rocket Cause Of Failed Test In Military Exercise , RIA Novosti (3/23/2004)
    6. Russia Navy Chief's Exploding Comments Set Off Controversy, AFP (3/23/2004)
    7. Russian Nuclear Battle Cruiser "Could Explode": Top Navy Official, AFP (3/23/2004)
    8. Russian Nuclear Cruiser Ordered To Port For Deplorable Condition, AFP (3/23/2004)
    9. Defence Order For Sevmash Plant Increased 50% In 2004 , Bellona Foundation (3/22/2004)
    10. Russia Starts Building New Nuclear Submarine, MosNews (3/19/2004)
    11. Russia: Another Failed Missile Launch Claimed, BBC Monitoring (3/19/2004)
K.  Nuclear Industry
    1. In 2004 Rosenergoatom To Allocate 30 Million Roubles To Build Floating Nuclear Power Plant , RIA Novosti (3/23/2004)
    2. Russia Ready To Help Ukraine Extend N-Plants’ Life-Cycle, ITAR-TASS (3/20/2004)
    3. Lifetime Of Bilibino NPP Extended For 15 Years More , Bellona Foundation (3/19/2004)
    4. Science And Technology In Russia (excerpted), Pravda.ru (3/19/2004)
L.  Nuclear Safety
    1. Russian Nuclear Regulatory Reports About Insufficient Level Of Nuclear Installations Security , Bellona Foundation (3/24/2004)
    2. Russia’s First SRW Treatment Facility Opened In Polyarny , Bellona Foundation (3/23/2004)
M.  Official Statements
    1. Interview of Russian First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Vyacheslav Trubnikov, Published in the Newspaper Vremya Novostei on March 23, 2004, under the Heading "'Axis of Evil' Is a Farfetched Notion" (excerpted), Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Daily News Bulletin (3/23/2004)
    2. The Atomic Branch Retained its Integrity During the Transformation of Minatom to a Federal Agency, Minatom.ru (3/22/2004)
    3. Transcript of Remarks and Answers to Questions from Russian and Foreign Media by Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov at Press Conference at Russian MFA Press Center, Moscow, March 17, 2004 (excerpted), Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Daily News Bulletin (3/18/2004)
    4. U.S.-Russia Relations In Putin's Second Term (excerpted), A. Elizabeth Jones, , Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs , House International Relations Committee (3/18/2004)
N.  Links of Interest
    1. Global Partnership Update, Center for Strategic and International Studies (3/23/2004)
    2. Nonproliferation and Disarmament Co-operation Initiative, London 2004, Department of Trade and Industry of the United Kingdom (3/19/2004)
    3. Harnessing the Power of Nations for Arms Control: The Proliferation Security Initiative and Coalitions of the Willing, Baker Spring, Heritage Foundation (3/18/2004)
    4. Reorganization Of The Government Affects Defense Industry, Pavel Podvig, Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces (3/15/2004)
    5. Title XXXII – National Nuclear Security Administration Act, National Nuclear Security Administration (3/11/2004)



A.  Russian Research Reactor Fuel Return

1.
US Plan To Get Highly Enriched Uranium Out Of Civilian Cycle: IAEA
AFP
3/18/2004
(for personal use only)


WASHINGTON (AFP) Mar 18, 2004 The United States is working on an "action plan" to get countries worldwide to stop using highly enriched uranium, which can be the raw material for nuclear weapons, in civilian programs, UN nuclear watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei said Thursday.

"They are working on an action plan already," ElBaradei, head of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) told reporters after meeting in Washington with US Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham.

He said the plan was "to clean up all the highly enriched uranium (HEU) and plutonium that is still in the civilian cycle."

This represents 100 facilities in 40 countries, ElBaradei said.

HEU can be used to make an atom bomb but also as fuel in civilian research reactors.

Department of Energy officials had no comment on the plan.

ElBaradei, who met Wednesday with US President George W. Bush, said "the president agreed" it was "unacceptable" that countries are still using HEU in civilian programs.

He said they had also agreed the time had come to "change many of the rules" in order to strengthen the fight against nuclear proliferation that is the mission of the IAEA.

ElBaradei had said Wednesday it did not matter if the HEU which countries possessed had come from Russia, the United States or other weapons powers.

"My suggestion to the president is that we need a good plan to clean up all this nuclear weapons useable material that is all over the place," ElBaradei said.

Asked if countries would accept recyling HEU to low enriched uraniumwhich is not a weapons risk, ElBaradei said Thursday: "I think that's why we need US, Russian and other leadership."

The IAEA is now overseeing a reactor in Libya from which highly enriched uranium is taken to Russia, which is to return it as low enriched uranium, which cannot be used in a bomb.

ElBaradei said he thinks most people "understand the security concern and if you get the same results with an LEU research reactor, I don't think anyone will" complain.

"It's a question of identifying what needs to be done and who will be in touch with each country on which issues," ElBaradei said.

In another front in the non-proliferation fight, ElBaradei said he and Bush had "agreed on the need to revisit the whole export control regime ... as a result of A.Q. Khan associates and the lesson we have learned from that."

Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb, confessed in January to running an international black market ring that shared sensitive nuclear technology with Iran, Libya and North Korea for more than a decade.

ElBaradei also wants to eliminate the danger that nuclear fuel declared for peaceful uses could also be used to make atomic bombs by having a multilateral body make the fuel, rather than letting individual states do it.

The United States has however stressed setting a "moratorium or cut-off date" after which countries that have not mastered the fuel cycle would stop trying to do this.

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B.  Nuclear Terror

1.
Al Qaeda Bluffing About Having Suitcase Nukes, Experts Say
Anna Badkhen,
San Francisco Chronicle
3/23/2004
(for personal use only)


Russians claim terrorists couldn't have bought them

Moscow -- Ayman al-Zawahri, al Qaeda's No. 2 man, has bragged that the terrorist group bought suitcase nuclear bombs from former Soviet nuclear scientists in Moscow and Central Asia, but experts on Russia's nuclear program dismiss the statements, saying Osama bin Laden's deputy is bluffing.

Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir, who is writing bin Laden's biography, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. last week that al-Zawahri made the boast during a 2001 interview when he was asked whether the terror network really had nuclear weapons.

Al-Zawahri, the Egyptian doctor believed to be a mastermind of the Sept. 11, attacks, laughed and said: "If you have $30 million, go to the black market in central Asia, contact any disgruntled Soviet scientist and a lot of . .. dozens of smart briefcase bombs are available," Mir reported. "They have contacted us, we sent our people to Moscow, to Tashkent (the capital of Uzbekistan), to other Central Asian states, and they negotiated, and we purchased some suitcase bombs.''

The idea of al Qaeda's acquiring suitcase nuclear bombs -- compact, easily portable bombs shaped like briefcases or backpacks that can be detonated by timers -- is the sum of all fears for Washington.

A suitcase nuclear bomb detonated in the center of a metropolitan area can instantly kill tens of thousands of people and expose hundreds of thousands more to levels of radiation that would kill them within 24 months; millions of others would suffer from radiation poisoning.

But Russian nuclear officials and experts on the Russian and post-Soviet nuclear programs adamantly deny that al Qaeda or any other terrorist group could have bought Soviet-made suitcase nukes, which were built in the 1960s for use against NATO and U.S. targets by special Soviet military intelligence agents.

"(Al-Zawahri) is bluffing," an unnamed official at the Russian Federal Nuclear Energy Agency told the official Ria-Novosti news agency Monday. "It is practically impossible not only to buy nuclear weapons but even their components in Russia."

U.S. security experts have also said it is unlikely that bin Laden is close to acquiring nuclear weapons technology, although he clearly wants it. A U.S. federal indictment handed down in 1998 charges that beginning in 1993 al Qaeda members "made efforts to procure enriched uranium for the purpose of developing nuclear weapons.''

Maxim Shingarkin, a former major in the Russian military's secretive 12th Department, which is in charge of strategic weapons, said suitcase nuclear bombs, if they are still in Russia's arsenal, were too difficult to maintain and had too short a lifespan to make them feasible as terrorist weapons. He said Russia only had built about 100 suitcase bombs and had not produced any new ones since the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union.

Shingarkin said Russian suitcase nukes consisted of a bag measuring about 24 by 16 by 8 inches fitted with three coffee can-size aluminum canisters filled with plutonium or uranium. A 6-inch-long detonator is connected to the canisters, and a battery line keeps it powered during storage.

He said the suitcase nukes have a lifespan of only one to three years because some of the materials, such as the battery and the conventional explosives that produce the charge that sets off the nuclear reaction, deteriorate over time and must be replaced. Otherwise, he said, they become radioactive scrap metal.

Shingarkin said the Soviet Union kept some of the bombs near Moscow, where it trained about 30 to 50 military spies to transport and detonate them abroad. More deadly portable devices were kept in the Baltic republics and, possibly, Ukraine, he said -- close to the Soviet borders with its NATO neighbors. There were never any suitcase nukes in Uzbekistan or in any other Central Asian republic, Shingarkin said, because the Soviet Union did not perceive any acute threat from its southern flank.

He said the Soviet Union had taken its suitcase nukes back from the Baltics to Moscow in the 1980s. After the breakup of the Soviet Union, some portable nuclear bombs may have remained in Ukraine, but "three years after they got there, they wouldn't be nuclear bombs anymore," he said.

Charles Digges, an expert on Russia's nuclear program with the Bellona environmental group in Norway who is usually critical of the claims of Russian nuclear officials, agreed, saying "these things have been more or less accounted for."

However, Digges cautioned that al Qaeda might have access to non-fissile radioactive material that could allow it to build so-called dirty bombs -- devices that combine conventional explosives and radioactive material. Although they would not produce a nuclear reaction, they would still create an enormous blast and long-lasting, but less widespread, radiation.

Analysts say large quantities of such radioactive material -- such as cobalt 60, iodine 131 and strontium 90 -- have disappeared from the former Soviet Union.

Digges said al-Zawahri may have mistakenly called dirty bombs suitcase bombs in his interview with Mir.

"Either they have some sort of a dirty nuke the size of a steamer trunk in which they put a bunch of uranium and TNT," he said, "or they're simply lying."

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2.
Experts Doubt Al-Qaida Nuclear Claim
Pamela Hess
United Press International
3/22/2004
(for personal use only)


WASHINGTON, March 22 (UPI) -- Weapons and non-proliferation experts doubt claims surfacing Monday from al-Qaida's number-two man that the terrorist organization has acquired a nuclear weapon.

The Australian Broadcasting Corp is airing an interview with Osama bin Laden's biographer who claims Ayman al-Zawahiri told him al-Qaida had purchased small, suitcase-portable nuclear weapons on the black market in central Asia from disgruntled Russian weapons scientists.

"My instinct is if they have one we would first find out when they used it," said Joseph Cirincione, a non-proliferation expert with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "What's the point of (boasting)?"

He said the government's fear has long been a terrorist organization would obtain not one but two nuclear devices, hide them in different cities and then make a set of demands. To prove its intent, it would then detonate one. Claiming to have a suitcase bomb doesn't carry the same weight.

Mir told ABC al-Zawahiri said in November 2001 al-Qaida had sent representatives to Moscow, Tashkent and other central Asian states to buy nuclear weapons.

'Mr. Mir, if you have 30 million dollars, go to the black market in central Asia, contact any disgruntled Soviet scientist, and a lot of ... smart briefcase bombs are available'," Mir said al-Zawahiri told him in the interview, part of which were released in advance of the show's airing.

Daniel Benjamin, an analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies is similarly skeptical.

"Rumors along these lines have been out there a number of years. It can't be ruled out; it's also not very likely. My strong belief is if they had one they would have used it," he told UPI Monday.

Various federal government reports as late as 1999 reference rumors that bin Laden purchased suitcase-sized and -borne nuclear weapons from the Chechen mafia.

Rep. Curt Weldon, R-PA, made the "suitcase nuke" issue a central one by convening a series of hearings beginning in 1997 featuring Russian defectors. Weldon was told in 1992 by Alexander Lebed, national security adviser to then- President Boris Yeltsin that 84 out of 132 Russian suitcase nuclear bombs had gone missing.

"I raise (the issue) continuously. I have no way on my own doing the investigation. It's the intelligence community that's got to pursue these (leads)," Weldon said.

Robert Einhorn, the assistant secretary of state for nonproliferation from 1999 to August 2001, expressed doubt about Lebed's information.

"I guess it cannot be ruled out altogether, but it seems very unlikely. Not much credence is put in the old claim by General Lebed," Einhorn told UPI.

Then-FBI Director Louis Freeh said in 1997 that he was convinced there was no concrete evidence to suggest any of small nuclear weapons were stolen from the Russia arsenal.

"There's no evidence we've seen which establishes theft or criminal diversion for criminal or terrorist purposes and no link between any organized crime group," he said.

Weldon contends that view is myopic, and the Clinton administration didn't do enough to follow the leads.

"I am convinced back then our government didn't take the aggressive steps they should have taken to track down the stories. All during the 1990s they just brushed it aside," Weldon told UPI.

That said he believes al-Qaida is more likely to have a radiological or dirty bomb than a suitcase nuke.

Cirincione agreed. Just an ounce of Cesium packed into a traditional car or truck bomb could contaminate 20 city blocks with radiation, rendering the area uninhabitable. The actual physical toll on victims of even a strong radiological dose from a dirty bomb would not be major, the American Institute of Physics reported in March 2002. People within a half-mile of a dirty bomb would be exposed to less than their average exposure to naturally occurring radiation in a year, AIP reported.

The prospect of just such a dirty bomb was behind the arrest and detention of Jose Padilla, an American citizen held as an enemy combatant for his alleged involvement in a plot to use a radiological bomb in the United States.

Padilla was arrested in May 2002 after he returned from Pakistan where the Bush administration alleges he was discussing a plan to use a dirty bomb in the United States.

The U.S. government spends between $20 million and $30 million a year on a program to employ about 30,000 Russian weapons scientists on peaceful research projects so they will not be tempted by economic hardship to sell their expertise to terrorist groups, a part of the Nunn-Lugar program.

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3.
Hamid Mir (excerpted)
Enough Rope with Andrew Denton
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
3/22/2004
(for personal use only)


[…]

Andrew Denton: He said that he had nuclear weapons. Did you believe him?

Hamid Mir: Yes he said at that time it was very difficult for me to believe, but when my interview was finished I asked Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri that your leader never allowed me to probe this claim that he has nuclear weapons. So you tell me it is difficult to believe that you can have nuclear weapons. If you have how can you maintain them, how will you use those weapons because you don't have a delivery system? So Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri laughed and he said, Mr Mir if you have thirty million dollars, go to the black market in the central Asia, contact any disgruntled Soviet scientist and a lot of dozens of smart briefcase bombs are available. They have contacted us, we sent our people to Moscow to Tashkent to other central Asian states and they negotiated and we purchased some suitcase bombs. So that was his claim.

[…]

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4.
Moscow Dismisses Allegations That Terrorists Bought Nuclear Weapons In Russia
RIA Novosti
3/22/2004
(for personal use only)


MOSCOW, March 22, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - A spokesman for the Russian nuclear energy ministry, which is being transformed into the Federal Nuclear Energy Agency, has flatly dismissed a possibility that terrorists could buy nuclear weapons in Russia.

"This is bluff, as it is simply impossible to purchase nuclear weapons, or even its component parts, in Russia," a former ministry official said in a RIA Novosti interview as he commented on the statement by Aiman al-Zawahri, an Al-Qaeda leader, to the effect that the organisation had acquired nuclear weapons.

No cases of losing nuclear weapons or attempts to purchase such weapons have been registered in Russia, assured the source.

Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir had told in an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corp channel about his meeting with Mr al-Zawahri, who is the right hand man of international terrorist Osama bin Laden.

Mr. al-Zawahri said several dozen million dollars gave access to "smart," compact nuclear bombs on the black market of Central Asia and Russia.

He claimed Al-Qaeda had purchased several bombs through scientists from the former USSR, who were not happy with their lot.

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5.
Russian Defence Ministry Flatly Rejects Possibility Of Terrorists' Buying Nuclear Weapons In Russia
RIA Novosti
3/22/2004
(for personal use only)


MOSCOW, MARCH 22. /RIA NOVOSTI / -- The Russian Defence Ministry flatly rejects the possibility of terrorists' buying nuclear weapons in Russia.

"It is a heinous provocation and insinuation", the spokesman for the Russian Defence Ministry told RIA Novosti in an interview. He was commenting on the allegations of Aiman al-Zawahri, a leader of Al-Qaeda, having bought such weapons.

"All nuclear weapons in Russia's possession are under tough protection and strictly accounted for. There have never been leaks. The Russian Defence Ministry and the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces has repeatedly said so", the spokesman said.

In an interview to RIA Novosti, a representative of the former Russian Ministry for the Nuclear Power Industry, now turning into the Federal Nuclear Energy Agency, also ruled out the possibility of terrorists' buying nuclear arms in Russia.

"It is a pure bluff because it is virtually impossible to buy not only nuclear arms but also their components in Russia", he said.

In the interview to the television company Australian Broadcasting Corp., Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir spoke of his get-together with Al-Qaeda's Aiman al-Zawahri, believed to be the "right hand" of international terrorist Number One Osama bin Laden.

Al-Zawahri said he voiced to him the doubt that Al-Qaeda may make use of nuclear weapons. If you have 30 million dollars, Mr.Mir, go to the black market in Central Asia. Contact a disgruntled Soviet scientist and you'll get access to a multitude of smart compact bombs. They had reached us, the Al-Qaeda leader maintained, and we sent our men to Moscow, Tashkent and other states in Central Asia, talked with them and bought several compact bombs.

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C.  Sub Dismantlement

1.
The Russian Atomic Submarine “Kislovodsk” is to be Utilized at Severodvinsk on U.S. Means
ITAR-TASS
3/23/2004
(for personal use only)


Translated by RANSAC Staff.

VMF of Russia [the Navy] transferred the strategic atomic submarine (APL) “Kislovodsk” to the ship-repair enterprise “Zvezdochka” at Severodvinsk for utilization. It is planned that the “Kislovodsk” will be utilized on U.S. means under the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) program created on the initiative of the American Senators Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar in 1992. This was told to ITAR-TASS correspondents today by the press secretary of the defense shipyard, Nadezhda Shcherbinina.

According to her, the naval flag has been lowered on the atomic-powered ship, and the naval crew has been replaced with a factory team. “Zvezdochka” has already received more than 60 million dollars in total under the CTR program. Infrastructure for the dismantlement of submarines and the safe handling of radioactive materials and waste was created with this money, also 6 strategic submarine of the 667B “Murena” (NATO classification – Delta-1) class were utilized. The “Kislovodsk” will be the next of this class.

From open sources it was learned that the “Kislovodsk” was built in 1973 at the “Sevmash” shipyard in Severodvinsk. Similar submarines have a length of 139 meters, a water displacement up to 10,000 tons, a cruising depth of 550 meters, an underwater speed of 26 knots, and a crew of 120 people. It is armed with 12 launchers for the intercontinental missile R-29 with a maximum range of 7,800 kilometers.

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2.
Polystyrene Foam To Increase Buoyancy Of Retired Nuclear Submarines
Bellona Foundation
3/22/2004
(for personal use only)


Mobile polystyrene foam installation will be upgraded in Arkhangelsk region.

The State company Severny Raid located in Severodvinsk, Arkhangelsk region, will upgrade the mobile polystyrene foam installations (TPU), which serve to secure additional positive buoyancy of the Russian submarines awaiting dismantling, REGNUM-Arkhangelsk News agency reported. Deputy director of the company Severny Raid Vladimir Kalashnikov told REGNUM that about 30 old Russian submarines based on the Kola Peninsula and the Far East obtained extra buoyancy thanks to the TPU. The buoyancy is secured after pumping polystyrene foam into the main ballast tanks.

However, the experimental prototypes produced back in the middle of 90’s have already exceeded their lifetime and their design needs modernisation. The improved TPU will have higher capacity and a compressor unit to pump in high-pressure air into the main ballast tanks. At the moment about 25 nuclear submarines on the Kola Peninsula and the Far East need polystyrene foam in the main ballast tanks for extra buoyancy, REGNUM reported.

Some specialists, who talked with REGNUM, believe that polystyrene technology application completely excludes a K-159 tragedy, which happened in Barents Sea in August 2003 when the submarine was tugged for dismantling. The polystyrene technology was not used then and the submarine lost buoyancy and sank. Some foreign partners who are funding the nuclear submarines’ dismantling works in Russia are likely to take part in this technology modernisation, REGNUM reported.

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D.  Nuclear Cities

1.
Enterprises of “Nuclear” Ozersk Will Receive 328 Thousand Pounds Sterling from the British
RusEnergy
3/23/2004
(for personal use only)


Translated by RANSAC Staff

MOSCOW, 23 March. /RusEnergy/. A grant for the total sum of 328 thousand pounds sterling (about 16 million rubles) will be received by the Ozersk enterprise in the framework of realizing the program for “British-Russian Partnership in the “Closed” Nuclear Cities”. This was announced by “UralPolit.ru” at the press-service of the Ozersk administration, the monetary means are intended for modernizing the equipment of AO “Energoprom” (producing electro-technical products), OOO “Buy-invest” (producing ecologically clean wooden furniture) and OOO “Ozersk Air-Conditioner Factory”. The agreements on the assignment of financial aid to the ZATO [closed city] enterprise were in preparation for several months.

Britain was presented with 50 investment projects for judging, from this only 12 were chosen from 5 Russian ZATOs, including in the Chelyabinsk oblast – Ozersk and Snezhinsk. In order to receive the grants, English business circles were presented with a short characterization of the closed cities, and the industrial enterprises located on their territory.

Notice, that this is not the first foreign investment allowed for the Southern-Ural “atomics”. Thus, they already earlier reported on planned building of a center for positron-emissive laminography in Snezhinsk with the participation of American capital, and also the construction of a joint Russia-American enterprise for the production of orthopedic technology has begun.

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E.  G-8 Global Partnerships

1.
Great Britain To Allocate Russia $30 Mln On Utilization Of Used Nuclear Fuel
RIA Novosti
3/23/2004
(for personal use only)


MOSCOW, March 23, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - In 2004 Great Britain intends to allocate $30 mln on programs of utilization and storage of used nuclear fuel (UNF) in Russia, First Secretary of the British Embassy in Moscow Simon Evans said.

"For the most part the allocated means will be spent on the joint Russo-British programs, which are being implemented in Russia's North-West," Mr. Evans noted.

According to him, the particular joint programs are: the utilization of nuclear submarines at the naval base in Severodvinsk, the construction of the new facility for UNF storage in the Murmansk region and the construction of the shielding facilities at the UNF storage, which belongs to the naval base on the Andreyevsk Bay.

"The financial means are allocated within the framework of the program of Russo-British cooperation on elimination of chemical and nuclear weapons. In the next 10 years Great Britain intends to allocate for this purpose approximately $750 mln," Mr. Evans disclosed.

Simon Evans reminded that the G8 leaders agreed at the 2002 Kananaskis summit to allocate in the course of 10 years $20 bln on the elimination of nuclear, bacteriological and chemical weapons of mass destruction, produced by the former Soviet Union and presently kept in Russia and the CIS countries.

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2.
Italian Delegation Visited Zvezdochka Shipyard
Bellona Foundation
3/19/2004
(for personal use only)


Late January Italian representatives had the first talks about funding of nuclear submarines’ dismantling and the shipyard’s infrastructure development.

Italy promised to allocate 360m euros for Russian nuclear submarines' dismantling and environmental nuclear safety programs during 10 years. The first talks on implementation of this program took place at the Zvezdochka shipyard in Severodvinsk in the end of January, Nord Media Company reported. The Italian delegation spent two days examining the shipyard’s capacity and talking to the specialists.

The Italians said at the meeting that their main wish is to contribute practically to the rapid and safe submarines dismantling in the frames of G8 partnership against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction. Therefore, the meeting in Severodvinsk was mostly dedicated to financing of the dismantling works and further improvement of the Zvezdochka infrastructure. However, the source of Nord Media Company in Severodvinsk said the first practical steps of Italy in this direction were expected not before summer.

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F.  Threat Reduction Expansion

1.
Experts Say Much Work Needed To Finish Libyan Disarmament
Chris Schneidmiller
Global Security Newswire
3/23/2004
(for personal use only)


WASHINGTON — Despite Libya’s quick re-emergence into the international community, years of work remain to confirm the country’s disarmament and dispose of its remaining WMD stockpiles, according to chemical and biological weaponry experts.

Libya has shipped its nuclear technology to the United States, and claims it did not have a biological weapons program. But there is much work left in the area of chemical weapons.

Libya submitted its Chemical Weapons Convention declaration this month, and pledged to destroy all parts of a chemical weapons program that was apparently shut down in the mid-1990s (see GSN, March 5). The country has already destroyed its stockpile of 3,563 unfilled aerial bombs developed to disperse chemical weapons, and said it has no filled munitions, according to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which oversees the convention.

Remaining to be dismantled or destroyed are a production facility, 23 metric tons of mustard agent and more than 1,300 metric tons of precursor chemicals for nerve gas development.

The entire effort could take two years, but is not an overwhelmingly difficult challenge, said Paul Walker, director of the Legacy program at Global Green USA, an organization dedicated to eliminating weapons of mass destruction.

“Twenty-three tons isn’t much,” Walker said of the mustard gas. “In the United States, you’re talking about thousands of tons, and in Russia many more thousands of tons,” he said.

Libya submitted two options for destroying the mustard gas — incineration or neutralization, a U.S. government official said. The plans will be discussed this week at the OPCW executive council meeting.

“Whatever technology you do use, they have to be chosen in such a way as to not harm the environment or people living near the plant,” said OPCW spokesman Peter Kaiser.

Libya is expected to pay for the disposal, but can seek expertise and financial support from other convention member states, Kaiser said. Cost estimates will not be known until the method of destruction is known, the U.S. official said.

Walker estimated building a secured incinerator could take two years and cost $100 million, based on known costs for larger facilities in the United States. A neutralization center could be built in half that time and for $10 million to $50 million, he said, making it the most likely option for Libya.

Neutralization could be completed in a few weeks to a few months, Walker and the U.S. official said. Mustard gas would be manually or robotically drained from storage tanks into a container and mixed with hot water. It would then be piped to an adjoining structure for bioremediation, in which microbes would be added to the substance to decompose and digest the remaining toxic chemicals. Sludge left over from the process would have to be shipped to a landfill for toxic substances, Walker said.

“It’s not an enormously complicated process. Fortunately, it’s something that’s been done,” Walker said. “I bet you could do at least a ton a day,” he added.

Varying types of precursor agents will be incinerated, neutralized or mixed with cement, the U.S. official said.

Libya hopes to begin work on disposing of the precursors by the middle of this year, and move on to the mustard gas by late 2004 or early 2005, the official said.

OPCW inspectors will be present during all chemical destruction activities, Kaiser said. Under the Chemical Weapons Convention, Libya must have disposed of all chemical weapons material by April 29, 2007. “Our presumption is that that will definitely take place,” Kaiser said.

Libya also must dismantle its chemical weapons manufacturing equipment in the Pharma 150 plant at Rabta, the U.S. official said. The official estimated it would take two years remove and cut up the reactors and steel tanks used to develop the mustard gas and precursor agents.

A 20-meter-tall berm of sandbags that surrounded the facility, used to protect it from air strikes, also must be removed, the official said.

Pharma 150 will be converted to produce pharmaceuticals for African nations and other developing countries. Pharma 150 was built as a dual-use facility in the mid-1980s, so the capability to make drugs was always there, the official said.

The United States and United Kingdom provided advice as Libya prepared its Chemical Weapons Convention declaration, and will similarly support the chemical destruction process, the official said.

There has been no discussion of financial assistance from the United States. Some economic sanctions would have to be lifted to provide funding through sources such as the Defense Department’s Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, officials told a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing last month (see GSN, Feb. 27).

Issues of human rights and Libya’s designation as a sponsor of terrorism, among others, must be addressed before sanctions can be lifted. That could happen by the end of the year, the U.S. official said.

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G.  U.S. - Russia

1.
After a 20-Year Break, the U.S. is Again Interested in Russian Fast-Neutron Reactors
ITAR-TASS
3/19/2004
(for personal use only)


Translated by RANSAC Staff

After a 20-year break, the U.S. is again interested in Russian fast-neutron reactors that work in a closed cycle and give off practically no radioactive waste. This was announced to correspondents of ITAR-TASS by the general director of the concern “Rosenergatom” Oleg Saraev, who today visited the Rovensk NPP in the framework of a visit to Ukraine. “Cooperation with the United States in the area of fast reactors, and also with France, interrupted about 20 years ago, is renewed,” – said Saraev. The interest in these developments in caused by the fact that “the uneconomical [nature] of fuel-use in atomic energy is becoming obvious.”

The USA, France, and Russia are the biggest exploiters of NPPs. In all, in 35 countries more than 440 nuclear power units are operating. In Russia the largest power unit of industrial scale in the world has operated for more than 20 years at the Beloyarsk NPP in Sverdlovsk oblast, with fast-neutron reactors with a power of 600 MWts.

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H.  Russia - Iran

1.
Moscow May Help Iran Build Second Reactor At Bushehr
IRNA
3/24/2004
(for personal use only)


Moscow, March 24, Itar-Tass/ACSNA/IRNA -- Russia may take part in the construction of a second reactor at Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant, sources at the Russian Atomic Energy Ministry said. According to the official, the general contractor involved in the Bushehr nuclear power plant project - Atomstroiexport, has already handed over to Iran preliminary feasibility studies concerning the construction of a second reactor at Bushehr.

The chief of the Federal Agency for Atomic Power, Alexander Rumyantsev said on Monday Russia’s plans regarding the Iranian nuclear power program remained unchanged, despite the ongoing reorganization of the Atomic Energy Ministry.

"Technical cooperation with Iran in nuclear power plant construction in Bushehr will go on," he said. "I see no causes that might restrict our cooperation."

A supplementary protocol on the repatriation of spent nuclear fuel from Bushehr to Russia "will be signed soon."

Rumyantsev said signing of the protocol had been delayed against a background of "certain financial aspects."

"Iran has asked for several months to study the technology of handling spent nuclear waste," Rumyantsev said, adding that "Iran had repeatedly confirmed the readiness to sign the protocol." In the meantime Iran’s Ambassador to Russia, Gholam-Reza Shafei has told Tass in an interview that the Russian-Iranian protocol on he return of spent nuclear fuel from Bushehr nuclear power plant will be signed in Tehran or in Moscow in the near future. Cooperation between Iran and Russia, he said, is "absolutely transparent and is being carried in full compliance with international legislation and the applicable rules."

"In view of Iran’s signing of the supplementary protocol with the International Atomic Energy Agency and our commitment to the liabilities under the Nuclear Arms Non-Proliferation Treaty and the good political relationship with Russia we hope that Russian-Iranian cooperation in the field of nuclear power will go on developing," the Iranian ambassador said.

"Cooperation in building the first unit of Bushehr nuclear power plant is continuing. The reasons why construction work has fallen behind schedule will be discussed when a senior Russian official visits Iran shortly."

Ambassador Shafei noted that Russia and Iran had agreed to sign a protocol on the return of spent fuel to Russia. "Alongside this protocol a supplement must be signed to the comprehensive contract on the construction of the nuclear power plant’s first unit."

The two sides are in the phase of active coordination of these documents, to be signed in Tehran or Moscow soon. "A second Bushehr reactor is a future project and more fundamental negotiations on it will follow," the Iranian ambassador said.

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2.
Moscow Welcomes Iran’s Cooperation with IAEA
IRNA
3/24/2004
(for personal use only)


Moscow, March 24, Itar-Tass/ACSNA/IRNA -- Russia will continue cooperation with Iran in peaceful use of the atomic energy because no ban to this effect was announced by the international community, spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry Alexander Yakovenko said on Tuesday.

Moscow comes out for active cooperation between Iran and International Atomic Energy Agency and believes that Tehran should be prepared to cooperate with the IAEA as soon as such a need arises, Yakovenko said.

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3.
Nuclear Fuel Repatriation Protocol With Iran To Be Signed Soon
IRNA
3/24/2004
(for personal use only)


Moscow, March 24, Itar-Tass/ACSNA/IRNA -- A Russian-Iranian protocol on the return of spent nuclear fuel from Bushehr nuclear power plant will be signed in Tehran or in Moscow in the near future, Iran’s Ambassador to Russia Gholam-Reza Shafei told Tass in an interview on Tuesday.

Cooperation between Iran and Russia, he said, is "absolutely transparent and is being carried out in full compliance with international legislation and the applicable rules."

"In view of Iran’s signing the supplementary protocol with the International Atomic Energy Agency and our commitment to the liabilities under the Nuclear Arms Non-Proliferation Treaty and the good political relationship with Russia, we hope that

Russian-Iranian cooperation in the field of nuclear power will go on developing," the Iranian ambassador said.

"Cooperation in building the first unit of the Bushehr nuclear power plant is continuing. The reasons why construction work has fallen behind schedule will be discussed when a senior Russian official visits Iran shortly."

Ambassador Shafei said Russia and Iran had agreed to sign a protocol on the return of spent fuel to Russia. "Alongside this protocol a supplement must be signed to the comprehensive contract on the construction of the nuclear power plant’s first unit."

The two sides are in the phase of active coordination of these documents, to be signed in Tehran or Moscow soon. "A second Bushehr reactor is a future project and more fundamental negotiations on it will follow," the Iranian ambassador said.

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4.
Russian Atomic Energy Minister To Visit Iran In May
IRNA
3/24/2004
(for personal use only)


Moscow, March 24, Itar-Tass/ACSNA/IRNA -- Chief of the Federal Atomic Energy Agency Alexander Rumyantsev is most likely to visit Iran in May, spokesman for the restructured Atomic Energy Ministry Nikolai Shingarev told Itar-Tass Monday.

According to Shingarev, "Implementation of the scheduled construction of the first energy unit of Iran`s nuclear power plant in Bushehr will be discussed at the upcoming meeting of the chief of the atomic energy agency and the leadership of the Iranian atomic energy agency."

Meanwhile, "the text of the protocol on return of spent nuclear fuel with the nuclear power plant for storage and processing in Russia" is expected to be finally agreed at the Tehran meeting. "Representatives of the Russian corporation TVEL will discuss "the commercial aspect of the return of spent nuclear fuel at a meeting with the Iranian side shortly," Shingarev emphasized. The company TVEL did not rule out "the meeting may be held in Tehran in the next two weeks."

Rumyantsev was initially planned to visit Iran last January, but the trip was postponed to March "for technical reasons." Shingarev noted that new adjournment of the date of the trip of the atomic energy agency chief to Tehran "is caused by the resolution of organizational issues of the transfer of powers and functions of the abolished Atomic Energy Ministry to the Federal Atomic Energy Agency."

"This work will be mainly completed in the next six weeks," he remarked.

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5.
Russia's Nuclear Boss Says Iran Plans Back on Track
Reuters
3/22/2004
(for personal use only)


March 22 MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's plans to finish an atomic reactor in Iran are back on track after a pause that followed a tough new resolution on Iran by the U.N. nuclear watchdog, Russia's top atomic official said Monday. Earlier this month, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) passed a resolution that deplored Iran's failure to declare sensitive nuclear technology which could be used to make bomb-grade uranium.

"A certain pause in Russia's cooperation with Iran happened because of an IAEA board meeting where this new resolution on Iran was passed," Alexander Rumyantsev, head of the Atomic Energy Agency, was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency.

"But the question of construction of the Bushehr power plant in Iran has never been revised."

The row between Iran and the IAEA prompted industry insiders to suggest Russia, wary of U.S. criticism of its nuclear ties with Iran, could ditch the $800 million project altogether.

Iran later vowed to continue to cooperate with the IAEA as long as Washington, which accuses Iran of seeking atomic arms, does not push its case up to the U.N. Security Council.

"Technical cooperation with Iran on construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant is continuing, and I do not see any reason why we should limit this cooperation," Rumyantsev said.

Russia, a veto-wielding permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, has been locked in months of tough talks with Iran over the project.

The first generating unit of the 1,000-megawatt plant was originally due to have begun full operation in 2003. But as negotiations dragged on, the launch was rescheduled to 2006.

Rumyantsev said "a number of financial issues" had yet to be settled, but did not elaborate.

He did not say whether a key bilateral deal requiring Iran to return spent nuclear fuel to Russia -- a measure aimed to alleviate some U.S. concerns -- would be signed during his visit to Iran over coming months.

"The Iranian side wants a few months to study what other countries normally do when it comes to returning spent nuclear fuel," he said. "They have, however, said they are in principle ready to sign this document."

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I.  Russia - North Korea

1.
China For Min To Discuss New Round Of Talks On Nuke Issue In Pyongyang
ITAR-TASS
3/23/2004
(for personal use only)


PYONGYANG, March 23 (Itar-Tass) - Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing arrived in Pyongyang on Tuesday at the invitation of his North Korean counterpart Paek Nam-sun to discuss preparations for the third round of talks on the North Korean nuclear problem that is due to be held in Beijing in the first half of this year.

Informed sources told Tass that in the course of the talks the parties would mainly focus on aspects of preparation and holding of the next round of the six-party talks, in which China, the United States, Russia, the Republic of Korea, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Japan take part.

In this context, the Chinese and North Korean ministers will exchange views on the setting up of a working group that, in line with the earlier achieved accords, will tackle organizational issues of the third round of consultations.

The ministers will also discuss bilateral relations. They are expected to consider a schedule of bilateral meetings and visits for this year.

It is noteworthy that the North Korean media keep silent about the visit of the high Chinese official. In keeping with the information policy pursued here, reports about the visit will only appear in the media after the Chinese minister winds up his trip.

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J.  Nuclear Forces

1.
Putin Resorting to Cold War Threats
J. Michael Waller
Insight on the News
3/30/2004
(for personal use only)


It was the ultimate campaign stunt: The president, clad in a navy uniform and white gloves, at sea on a sunny morning, standing on the deck of a giant titanium-hulled ballistic-missile submarine. He looked on smartly as the military began a weeklong exercise to unleash its triad of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles and strategic bombers in the biggest nuclear doomsday drill since the coldest days of the Cold War.

The president's administration officially billed it as an "antiterrorism" exercise. But as land-based missiles arched their way a third of the way around the planet to the warhead target range in the Pacific, and as the bombers followed their dreaded Arctic route to fire cruise missiles over the top of the earth, the reality of the massive exercise was clear: The threat of Cold War nuclear extermination is as real as ever.

An American president well could have been run out of office for personally commanding and celebrating such political theater. The commander in chief in this case, however, was Russian President Vladimir Putin. The date was Feb. 17, less than a month before the March 14 elections that everyone expected him to win. Bezopastnost-2004, as the strategic command and staff exercise was called, was a mock nuclear attack on the United States, the largest since Communist Party boss Leonid Brezhnev ruled from the Kremlin in 1982. Weeks later, Putin further consolidated his already strong control of the country. According to Jacques Amalric of the leftist French daily Liberation, Putin has placed former KGB officers in nearly 60 percent of all presidential administration posts. In early March he fired his prime minister and named to replace him a relatively anonymous technocrat with no political base but with a murky KGB background. Mikhail Fradkov has an incomplete official résumé that Russian critics say indicates an early KGB career. At the time of his appointment, he was head of the tax police, Russia's equivalent of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. The Russian tax police, however, has a notorious past. Under Soviet rule, it was the dissident-hunting KGB Fifth Chief Directorate.

The White House expressed no concern with either development. Few American media commentators seemed to notice. The Kremlin had wanted the world to see Putin atop the conning tower of the Arkhangelsk nuclear submarine. Pravda loved the carefully orchestrated action, almost lovingly reporting on how Putin personally inspected the nuclear-reactor control room and exhorted sailors in the mess to eat pancakes in observance of Shrove Tuesday.

The Typhoon-class vessel, with the hatches of its 20 vertical missile tubes running the deck in pairs, was cruising on the surface of the Barents Sea off Russia's northwestern coast, waiting for an SS-N-23 strategic nuclear missile to burst through the ocean surface from another sub, the Novomoskovsk, which was lurking in the deep nearby. The missile's dummy warhead, according to the Russian military newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda (Red Star), was set to strike the Kura target range on the Kamchatka Peninsula, across the Eurasian landmass, 120 degrees around the world.

There was Putin, in front of the TV cameras, waiting for the geyser of the missile from below. But there was nothing. Word came up that the missile had stuck in the tube. The Novomoskovsk, an older Delta-IV hull, fired a second missile. Again, nothing. The test was a flop - a big embarrassment for the Northern Fleet, coincidentally not far from the August 2000 Kursk disaster when a submarine was lost along with its crew of 118 men. The Russian navy was humiliated by its failure to fire the missiles, but if Putin was, nobody could see. Russia's state-controlled TV networks made sure that the dapper tough guy Putin was seen in command - and that nobody knew the launches had failed.

For good measure, another Delta-IV sub, the Karelia, launched a missile the next day. The SS-N-23, which the Russians call Sineva, shattered out through the surface, veering wildly off course in a 98-second flight that ended when the missile blew up in midair. Putin wasn't there. He was back on land at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome with Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, another KGB man, this time out of his navy gear and sporting green army fatigues for the campaign cameras. The Russian president witnessed the flawless launch of a Kosmos-2405 spy satellite aboard a Molnia-M rocket as part of the nuclear-war exercise. Talking to reporters at Plesetsk, Putin announced a bold initiative to modernize the Strategic Rocket Forces with next-generation weapons and, according to United Press International and Russian press accounts, said he might authorize an upgrade of the nation's Soviet-era missile-defense system.

The former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan, in Central Asia, provided a platform for Moscow to launch two more ICBMs: an SS-19 and the brand-new SS-27 Topol-M, the latter aboard a mobile launcher. Their dummy warheads sailed across the continent to Kamchatka. The Russian government is deploying the modern Topol-M even as the United States provides Moscow with resources to dismantle its obsolete and deteriorating nuclear missiles - aid that allows the Kremlin to deploy the next-generation nukes and keep its arsenal within the limits set in arms-control agreements with Washington.

At least 14 strategic bombers fanned out to the west, north and south with supersonic Tu-160 Blackjack bombers heading toward the North Atlantic and old but dependable Tu-95 Bear bombers, the old Soviet Union's answer to the American B-52, firing cruise missiles at an Arctic target on Novaya Zemlya island, according to Nikolai Sokov of the Center for Nonproliferation Studies.

Putin's nuclear political theater and choice of a KGB man as chief of government are only parts of his aggressive re-election campaign. The recentralized Russian state has squeezed the once-free news media into exercising self-censorship and prevented the rise of political parties or politicians who could challenge him. Members of the state Duma, or lower house of parliament, complain of harassment. Some allege that Putin or forces loyal to him were responsible for the 1998 assassination of Duma member Galina Starovoitova and the more recent mysterious death of journalist turned lawmaker Yuri Shchekochikhin.

Since becoming president in 2000, Putin has sacked parliament, forced governors out of office, driven opposition businessmen into exile and pressured the courts to rule on issues only in his favor. "The character of Russia under Putin has been a steady gravitation toward a security state," according to Ilan Berman, a senior scholar at the American Foreign Policy Council. "Everybody talks a lot about Russia's oligarchs. What they don't understand is that Putin himself is an oligarch. His currency is not natural resources like oil or business, it's intelligence."

Anticipating the campaign, Putin cracked down on the main financier of the reformist, pro-Western opposition last year. Oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, age 40, who openly funded the Yabloko and Union of Right Forces parties and who bought Moscow's prestigious and, in the last 15 years, openly pro-Western Moscow News, suddenly became a target of criminal investigations. He decided to finance his own campaign to replace Putin, only to disappear for several days and wind up, disheveled and disoriented, in Ukraine. He says he was kidnapped, drugged and forced to commit embarrassing acts that his captors videotaped.

It's not an accident that the teetotaling, athletic, notoriously foul-mouthed Putin is so popular. "The Russian people are very comfortable with the type of 'managed democracy' he brings to the table. After years of economic and political decline, they're very enamored with the type of assertive foreign policy that he's been pursuing," Berman says.

"Putin is espousing ideas larger than himself. He is espousing a Great Russia. Whether it's regional or ideological, it re-establishes Russia as a central player in the Middle East, in the Asian theater, even in places like Latin America," Berman says. "The idea is that Russia is reassuming its natural place as a great power. That is very appealing to Russians who have suffered from a decade of decline."

According to Berman, "Putin is really balancing between strategic partnership with the United States" and the priorities of selling weapons and technology to China, nuclear technology to Iran, and other issues. "There is a limit to the strategic partnership with the United States," he says. "The Russian-Iranian relationship, the Russian-Chinese relationship - these are geopolitical and inimical to American interests."

And what of the White House's policy toward Russia? Berman says, "This administration is enamored with the idea of partnership. And Putin is exploiting it."

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2.
Russian Journalist Describes Censorship Pressure
J. Michael Waller
Insight on the News
3/30/2004
(for personal use only)


Few speak publicly about the censorship pressures in Vladimir Putin's Russia, but one of the country's most distinguished military analysts, journalist Pavel Felgenhauer, did so after trying to analyze the Feb. 17 submarine-launched missile events on Russian television. Below are excerpts from his essay in the Moscow Times:

"I was asked to comment on the mishap for Center TV and NTV, who reported the missile failure, but commented very cautiously on it. Off-air, both channels' news anchors told me how nervous they were, since Channel One and Rossia [TV] had not reported the failure and there were phone calls from the Kremlin with instructions to shut up.

"I was told that a request to appear on NTV live caused a squabble between management and the news staff. I was told the following quote: 'If Felgenhauer says anything critical of Putin live on air, the FSB [formerly known as the KGB] will come tomorrow and take over NTV.'

"The news anchors looked at me in horror as the cameras rolled, and I similarly at them - terrified at the prospect of causing the station's takeover. So I used the mildest words possible, but since the gist of my comment was so critical, I do not believe I will be reappearing anytime soon on national TV."

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3.
Expert Doubts Russian Cruiser Has 'Catastrophic' Problem
AFP
3/23/2004
(for personal use only)


LONDON (AFP) Mar 23, 2004
The Russian battle cruiser Peter the Great probably has problems that need urgent attention, but its nuclear reactor is unlikely to be one of them, the editor of Jane's Fighting Ships said Tuesday.

Commodore Stephen Saunders played down fears of a nuclear blast aboard the 25,000 tonne warship, after Russia's navy chief, Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov, said its condition was so deplorable that "it could explode at any moment".

"Quite what he's found wrong (on the ship), I don't know, but I don't think it has anything to do with nuclear reactor safety," Saunders told AFP in London.

"It sounds to me like there are rather a number of safety issues which need to be resolved on board ... an accumulation of different things, rather than perhaps one catastrophic problem."

Kuroyedov, quoted by the Interfax news agency, said he had ordered the Peter the Great to be docked for two weeks, "during which the ship's commander ... must remove all deficiencies in the ship's upkeep".

The admiral made his damning comments after inspecting the ship last Wednesday during Russian naval exercises in the Barents Sea.

"The ship's condition is fine in those places where admirals walk, but where they don't go everything is in such a state that it could explode at any moment," he said, citing the "upkeep" of the nuclear reactor.

Kuroyedov did not specify the port to which the cruiser was taken, but it is normally based near the northern port of Murmansk, and Saunders believed that that was where the ship would dock.

Jane's Fighting Ships, published every year, is a highly detailed and authoritative review of all the world's navies.

Saunders is a former Royal Navy frigate commander who has also worked in the shipbuilding industry, defence consultancy and at the Royal College of Defence Studies.

He said that, thanks to the oil-driven rebound in the Russian economy, the Russian navy now has more money to rebuild itself after having fallen into a perilous state of disrepair following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

"There has been a major drive over the last year to improve operational effectiveness, major exercises in all three fleets (Black Sea, Pacific and Northern), and a general back-to-sea policy," he said.

It was possible, he added, that by making such a sharp critique of the Peter the Great, Kuroyedov was trying to catch the attention of the Kremlin so as to get even more funds for his navy overall.

Another theory is that the admiral was making an example of the Peter the Great, or giving it "a kick in the backside," to warn other Russian naval captains that they must immediately get their vessels shipshape as well.

On Monday, the RIA Novosti news agency quoted an unnamed navy source as saying that Kuroyedov had deemed Peter the Great's "crew's performance below standard" after observing the latest maneuvers.

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4.
Navy Chief Retracts Nuclear Flagship 'Explosion' Claim
Scotsman.com
3/23/2004
(for personal use only)


Russia’s navy chief said today that one of the nation’s most powerful ships, the nuclear-powered Peter the Great missile cruiser, was in such dire condition that it could “explode” at any moment” – only to backtrack on his statement a few hours later.

Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov said the massive cruiser had been badly maintained and could “explode any moment”, adding that “it’s especially dangerous because it has a nuclear reactor”.

Just three hours later, however, Kuroyedov retracted his ominous statement, saying he had been misunderstood by the media.

“There is no threat whatsoever to the ship’s nuclear safety,” he said in a statement. “The ship’s nuclear safety is fully guaranteed in line with existing norms.”

He added that some flaws in maintaining the cruiser’s living quarters would be fixed within three weeks, after which the ship would become fully combat-ready.

NTV television reported that Kuroyedov had made his original statement in a smoking room on his way to a meeting of top military officials.

He had said that he had ordered the captain to fix the ship in two weeks.

“During that time, the captain must correct all the flaws related to the ship’s maintenance,” Kuroyedov said, according to the Interfax and ITAR-Tass news agencies.

“Everything is all right on the ship where admirals walk, but in the areas where they don’t, everything is in such condition that it may blow up at any moment,” Kuroyedov was quoted as saying.

The business daily Kommersant said his decision to put the cruiser in harbour was part of infighting among the top navy brass.

Kommersant said that Kuroyedov’s move to declare the Peter the Great unfit for service could have stemmed from his personal conflict with Retired Admiral Igor Kasatonov, uncle of the cruiser’s captain, Rear Admiral Vladimir Kasatonov.

Kommersant said that Kuroyedov could also be aiming at the Northern Fleet’s ex-chief, Admiral Gennady Suchkov, who had been relieved of his duties temporarily pending the official investigation into his role in the sinking of a decommissioned nuclear fleet submarine in August.

Kuroyedov sought to shift the blame for the sinking to Suchkov, but Kasatonov said during court hearings this month that Kuroyedov bears the main responsibility for the disaster, which killed nine of 10 crewmen on board the K-159 submarine when it sank in a howling storm on its way to a scrapyard.

Russian media have also criticised Kuroyedov over his role in the August 2000 sinking of the Kursk nuclear submarine and his failure to improve the navy’s degrading condition. Many expected President Vladimir Putin to fire Kuroyedov, but he has managed to cling to the job.

In the latest blow to Russian military prestige, the navy failed to perform missile launches from nuclear submarines during last month’s ambitious manoeuvres, which were personally overseen by Putin.

Kuroyedov, who watched the manoeuvres from the Peter the Great, claimed that the first of two scheduled launches had never been planned despite numerous earlier announcements to the contrary. The statement was widely ridiculed by Russian media.

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5.
Old Rocket Cause Of Failed Test In Military Exercise
RIA Novosti
3/23/2004
(for personal use only)


MOSCOW, March 23, 2004 (RIA Novosti) - The unsuccessful launch of a Karelia ballistic missile during military exercises on February 18 happened because the missile was twice as old as its warranty, Vladimir Kuroedov, the head of the Russian Navy told journalists.

"The rocket was produced in 1987 with a 7.5 year service life," he said. "At this point the service life had been exceeded more than twice. Therefore, all those bottlenecks at the release of the rocket are surfacing now."

Vladimir Kuroedov said that the probability of a successful launch of a RSM-54 is only 95%. In response to questions from journalists, he classified the rocket as "good." " Each weapon has a storage life," he continued. "It is possible to prolong the patience of a person, but not rockets, especially complex electronic devices."

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6.
Russia Navy Chief's Exploding Comments Set Off Controversy
AFP
3/23/2004
(for personal use only)


MOSCOW (AFP) Mar 23, 2004
Russia's navy chief startled the world Tuesday by saying his flagship nuclear cruiser was in such a dire state that it could explode at any moment -- comments some attributed to byzantine infighting in the troubled military.

Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov's remarks, on which he later backtracked, caught both Moscow and Western officials off guard while analysts searched for clues as to why the Russian navy chief would make such a provocative statement.

The nuclear-powered cruiser Peter the Great has been at sea for only seven years and remains the star of most vital Russian operations in northern waters.

It oversaw the failed efforts to save the 118 seamen who perished in the August 2000 Kursk nuclear submarine disaster and has been toured on festive military occasions by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

But Kuroyedov said Tuesday that he had ordered the ship back into port after finding it in deplorable condition during a visit last week.

"The ship is in such a state that it could explode at any moment," the Interfax news agency quoted Kuroyedov as saying.

"The ship's condition is fine in those places where admirals walk, but where they don't go everything is in such a state that it could explode at any moment. This includes the upkeep of the nuclear reactor," Kuroyedov said.

Peter the Great has two nuclear reactors and an arsenal of cruise missiles that can be tipped with nuclear warheads.

Reports said the 26,000-tonne cruiser's flag was lowered in disgrace as it came into port.

But as alarm grew across Russia, Kuroyedov backtracked on his jarring statement, saying he was misquoted by state news agencies, which for their part refused to retract their reports.

"In this particular case, we are not talking about any danger to the nuclear reactor," the RIA-Novosti news agency quoted Kuroyedov as saying.

Even environmental watchdogs who monitor Russia's nuclear arsenal said that Kuroyedov's comments did not seem plausible and must be linked to some internal navy intrigues rather than an actual state of emergency.

"It is just not possible that it should just blow up without a reason," said Nils Boehmer, of the Bellona environment group in Oslo, of the cruiser's nuclear reactor.

"It is ironic that for once Bellona is trying to calm down the story while the Russian navy is talking about a catastrophe," Boehmer said.

Some Russian media speculated Tuesday that Kuroyedov made his comments because of a personal dispute between the navy's top commanders that did not actually reflect the state of the massive warship.

The Kommersant business daily said Peter the Great's commander is a nephew of a retired navy admiral who recently testified in a court case against Kuroyedov for his role in the failed rescue of another Russian nuclear submarine last August in which nine sailors died.

The analysts said that Kuroyedov was trying to deflect attention from that case by focusing his fury on the warship's command in order to save his own job.

"It looks like he (Kuroyedov) is going to be ousted fairly soon," said military analyst Alexander Pashin from the Northern Fleet port town of Murmansk.

"He is scared about his future and amid the panic he is making strange comments that can really only hurt himself," Pashin said.

Peter the Great's call back to port came only weeks after the very same ship oversaw what were billed as Russia's biggest military war games in 20 years -- exercises which saw two intercontinental ballistic missiles fail in a test launch.

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7.
Russian Nuclear Battle Cruiser "Could Explode": Top Navy Official
AFP
3/23/2004
(for personal use only)


MOSCOW (AFP) Mar 23, 2004
Russia's nuclear battle cruiser Peter the Great has been rushed back to port because it "could explode at any moment," the head of Russia's fleet said Tuesday.

"The ship is in such a state that it could explode at any moment," Vladimir Kuroyedov told reporters in Moscow.

Kuroyedov ordered the measure after a tour of the ship on Wednesday last week during naval exercises in the Barents Sea, the Interfax news agency quoted him as saying.

Kuroyedov did not specify to which port the cruiser was taken.

It is normally based near the northern port of Murmansk.

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8.
Russian Nuclear Cruiser Ordered To Port For Deplorable Condition
AFP
3/23/2004
(for personal use only)


MOSCOW (AFP) Mar 23, 2004
Russia's navy chief said Tuesday that he has ordered the nuclear battle cruiser Peter the Great rushed back to port, warning that its condition was so deplorable that "it could explode at any moment."

Vladimir Kuroyedov said he had ordered the ship to be docked for two weeks, "during which the ship's commander... must remove all deficiencies in the ship's upkeep."

"The ship is in such a state that it could explode at any moment," the Interfax news agency quoted Kuroyedov as saying.

Kuroyedov said he ordered the measure after a tour of the ship on Wednesday last week during naval exercises in the Barents Sea.

"The ship's condition is fine in those places where admirals walk, but where they don't go everything is in such a state that it could explode at any moment. This includes the upkeep of the nuclear reactor," Kuroyedov said.

"Such attitudes of commanders toward their ships leads to a degradation of the fleet," he said.

Kuroyedov did not specify to which port the cruiser was taken, but it is normally based near the northern port of Murmansk.

On Monday, the RIA Novosti news agency quoted an unnamed navy source as saying that Kuroyedov had deemed Peter the Great's "crew's performance below standard" after observing the latest maneuvers.

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9.
Defence Order For Sevmash Plant Increased 50% In 2004
Bellona Foundation
3/22/2004
(for personal use only)


The government’s defence order for the Sevmash navy shipyard is 50% higher in 2004 than last year, ITAR-TASS was informed by the plant’s press department representative Mikhail Storozhilov.

This year the priority will be given to the new generation submarines Severodvinsk and Yury Dolgoruky of Borey project. Significant resources will be spent for the equipment of these nuclear submarines. Never before the plant’s demands for the funding were fully financed, but this year the Sevmash plant received 100% of the needed sum.

Sevmash also continues testing of the upgraded Dmitry Donskoy and holds guarantee for the recently built Gepard, Tigr, Arkhangelsk, which were transferred to the navy. The state also allocated money to complete suspended Belgorod nuclear submarine, which should substitute Kursk and gained the sad reputation of the “long haul” among the workers. But according to media reports, some specialists believe the money allocated is not enough to complete its construction. It is also planned to begin repairs of the nuclear cruiser Admiral Nakhimov and maybe unload nuclear fuel if the funds allow, Storozhilov said to ITAR-TASS. The Russian Defence budget is $14,442 billion in 2004 and is one of the biggest items of the Russian State budget for 2004.

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10.
Russia Starts Building New Nuclear Submarine
MosNews
3/19/2004
(for personal use only)


A ceremony devoted to the start of work on the Aleksander Nevsky nuclear submarine was held in the Russian naval base of Severodvinsk on Friday. The ceremony also marked Submariners’ Day which is celebrated in Russia on March 19.

The Aleksander Nevsky is a fourth-generation nuclear submarine of the 955 (Borey) project. A representative of the Sevmash shipyard has told the Interfax news agency that the ship would be a transitional link between a prototype and a series production model. The first submarine of the Borey project — Yuri Dolgorukiy — has been under construction at the Sevmash shipyard since 1996. Experts from the Jane’s Information Group report that work on the Borey project was suspended after the cancellation of the SS-N-28 missile — the main weapon of an attack submarine.

In 1999, Vladimir Putin, then the Russian prime minister, ordered a major modernization of the Russian Navy. Over the past several years a number of major accidents have plagued the navy, including the sinking of the Kursk nuclear submarine in August 2000. Foreign experts currently estimate the strength of the Russian submarine fleet at 20 first class attack submarines in operational condition.

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11.
Russia: Another Failed Missile Launch Claimed
BBC Monitoring
3/19/2004
(for personal use only)


Source: Moskovskiy Komsomolets, Moscow, in Russian 19 Mar 04

A Russian daily has claimed that the second - apparently successful - attempt to launch ballistic missiles from aboard a Russian nuclear-powered submarine was, however, preceded by another launch failure. The following is the text of Olga Bozhyeva's article in the Russian newspaper Moskovskiy Komsomolets on 19 March, which quotes naval sources about what happened, and accuses the navy command of repeated attempts to suppress or distort information and shift the blame to someone else. "Commercial" interests could also be at stake. Subheadings have been inserted editorially:

Another launch failure

The Novomoskovsk strategic nuclear submarine has worked on the mistakes made during January's strategic command-staff training exercise when two missiles were unable to be launched and one self-destructed. After it put to sea in the Mediterranean on Wednesday 17 March , the submarine launched two RSM-54 intercontinental ballistic missiles, which successfully hit their targets on Kamchatka. However, all did not go well this time either.

Moskovskiy Komsomolets was told by our sources in the Northern Fleet that two launches of RSM-54 missiles from the Novomoskovsk submarine were scheduled for 17 March, the first at 1100 hours.

However, once again it did not prove possible to launch the missile at 1100. Officially it was stated that the launch had been postponed until 1500 hours. The fleet command imposed a strict ban on the release by its personnel of any information about the reasons for the postponement, and presented a choice of two official versions: 1) they had not had time to warn the Americans about the missile launches; and 2) the 1100-hour setback should be considered a "simulated electronic" dress rehearsal.

The real launches took place at 1500 and 1700 hours. Of course, if we suppose that the launch of the RSM-54 at 1100 hours represented our strike in retaliation for the launch of a similar enemy missile, the firings at 1500 and 1700 hours would no longer have been necessary since between 1100 and 1500 hours a minimum of eight missiles would have been able to strike Russia, each of them with several nuclear warheads.

Blame game

The results of the Northern Fleet launches are logical. In order to "eliminate the shortcomings", as the president wanted, they should at least have been acknowledged for starters. Nothing, however, can be further from the navy leadership's mind, which continues to insist that the reason was "technical".

However, that is not true. During the first abortive launches, on 17 February, Lieutenant Captain Pavel Nikiforov, commander of the No 1 combat compartment BCh-1 , and his assistant Senior Lieutenant Igor Kondakov, commander of the electronic-navigation group, were responsible for missile guidance. They were to input the missiles' launch coordinates - the submarine's position - into the missiles' electronic brain. If it knows these, a missile can then identify targets globally for itself. Nikiforov honestly admitted to the panel of inquiry that either the coordinates had been input wrongly or that they had become garbled once inside the electronic system. To which Navy Commander-in-Chief Vladimir Kuroyedov replied that the officer had simply attempted to mislead the inquiry. Be that as it may, however, if we assume that the equipment was to blame, then the guidance team should have noticed this during the prelaunch preparations straight away. Then the coordinates could have been input into a different missile (there were two of them on board the submarine) to provide backup for the first missile, but that did not happen and the second missile failed to blast off, too.

It is undoubtedly prejudicial for the commander-in-chief to have to acknowledge mistakes on the part of his subordinates: then some of the blame falls on him. It is easier to ascribe everything to "bad" old missiles.

Conspiracy theory

Paradoxically enough, our sources believe that from the very outset it was not in the interests of certain senior representatives of the Navy Main Staff for the launches of the RSM-54 to be successful. It so happens that they have major "commercial" interests in missile construction, where a desperate struggle is under way for money from the defence orders. Experts believe that it is hard to explain otherwise the strange things that happened to the missiles during the February exercises.

Production of the RSM-54 began back in 1986. In 1987 the first batch was tested. During experimental launches one missile self-destructed. An inquiry concluded that it was due to a production defect (the technology had by that time still not been fully tested). Since then the whole of the first series of 1987 missiles have been considered problematic, although no other RSM-54 self-destructed. It now suddenly transpires that precisely a 1987 RSM-54 was picked for such important strategic exercises, to be overseen by the president, what is more - according to navy men - a missile with a bad "history".

The "history" is the missile's technical record, which is kept from the time of its production. The missile is periodically checked on a test bench: the hardware is connected up, parameters are read out, checks are made into how the missile responds to signals, and minor defects are rectified. All this is logged in its technical record sheet. The missile that self-destructed during the 18 February exercises had a bad "history". It is likely, for example, that it was damaged in transit.

The fleet's flag missile officer is responsible for the selection of the missile for the firing - he is the main man here and he decides which missiles are "worthy" and which need to stay in storage. His subordinates in the squadron and the division then take delivery of the missile and its documents, and each time read through its "history" again. The last person in the chain is the commander of the submarine's missile unit, who records the fact that he has received that missile in good working order.

This time, throughout the "problem" missile's journey not a single expert expressed doubts about the advisability of its launching in such crucial strategic exercises. Evidently, the argument employed by the navy's "elite" - that it was an old missile, that its service life was about to end, and that it was necessary to dispose of it - proved the clincher. Although it could have been disposed of another time, during less high-profile exercises, where no-one would have noticed it. It is a little strange that a missile with a bad "history" was used on the second day of the exercises after the two abortive launches on day one when it was necessary to make up for the failure of the "simulated electronic" launch.

"Simulated" launch story

According to eyewitness accounts, by the way, Putin himself was unwittingly the author of the "simulated electronic" launch version. This happened as the president peered in vain from the deck of the Arkhangelsk submarine at the smooth surface of the sea, from which the missile was supposed to emerge. In the damp wind, evidently, as he got chilled to the bone he inquired ironically whether these were simulated launches. The remark was grasped by the navy commander-in-chief as a lifeline. Then, as he sought to pull the wool over the eyes of the media, he even creatively embellished this idea to include satellites that had supposedly - and by design - blocked the missile launches.

That is probably why nothing new was devised on Wednesday during the "work on the mistakes". It was agreed once again to consider the launch that had been postponed by four hours to be a simulated one.

But the truth will out. When strategic exercises take place, countries are under an obligation to notify each other in advance of the time, place and target of the launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile so as not to provoke a real nuclear conflict. The time at which a missile will speed its way through the air and space is known to a host of various agencies on the ground, including civilian, in the nuclear powers. Our sources say that everyone who was supposed to be notified was indeed notified of the 1100-hour launch. Thus, no-one can any longer be deceived by its "simulated electronic" nature.

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K.  Nuclear Industry

1.
In 2004 Rosenergoatom To Allocate 30 Million Roubles To Build Floating Nuclear Power Plant
RIA Novosti
3/23/2004
(for personal use only)


MOSCOW, MARCH 23. /RIA NOVOSTI / -- In 2004 the concern Rosenergoatom (the Federal Unitary Enterprise Russian State Concern for Producing Electric and Heat Energy at Nuclear Stations) will allocate 30 million roubles within the framework of the Russo-China joint project for creating a floating nuclear power station, Rosenergoatom head Oleg Saraev has said.

The sums are intended for "doing some work, though non-obligatory but of the demonstration nature".

"It is a step towards creating and demonstrating Russia's intention to build the unit", Saraev said.

He also noted the special interest of Western and East-Asian countries in the Russian fast-reactor developments.

"Specialists from the United States, Japan, China and other countries would like to study the Russian experience of safe operation of the world's only commercial power unit with a fast-neutron reactor", the press-release of the concern reads. "Japan and China, for instance, are ready to participate in the construction of the BN-800 fast-neutron reactor of 880 megawatts in the Beloyarskaya nuclear power station".

The press release also says that fast-neutron power units "will form the basis of a large-scale nuclear power sector of the future". Their specificity is that they virtually do not produce radioactive waste and can even destroy the earlier accumulated waste by "overburning".

"Fast reactors make it possible to close the nuclear fuel cycle (they fire as much nuclear fuel as they produce for re-use within the same station), providing the world's nuclear power engineering with fuel for several thousand years ahead no matter how large the demand for energy resources", the press release goes on to read.

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2.
Russia Ready To Help Ukraine Extend N-Plants’ Life-Cycle
ITAR-TASS
3/20/2004
(for personal use only)


KIEV, March 20 (Itar-Tass) -- Russia is prepared to participate in Ukraine’s efforts to extend the life cycle of its nuclear power plants, the general director of Russia’s nuclear power concern Rosenergoatom, Oleg Sarayev said on Friday - the third, last day of his visit to Ukraine.

“We are fully open to discussing this theme and I am certain there is joint work in store for us,” he said.

Sarayev said Rosenergoatom had already extended the operation of two 440-megawatt VVER water-moderated reactors, one at the Novovoronezh nuclear plant, and the other at the Kola nuclear plant.

Such work is nearing completion at the first RBMK-type graphite-moderated reactor at the Leningrad nuclear power plant.

“This work may well develop into a new line of business,” the Rosenergoatom chief said. “Already now there is a great deal we can share.”

He remarked, though, that Russia and Ukraine had not entered the commercial phase of their cooperation yet.

Ukraine’s nuclear power plants operate a total of thirteen reactors, including two 440-megawatt VVER reactors and eleven 1,000 megawatt VVER reactors.

The service life of the oldest VVER-440 reactors at the Rovno nuclear plant will expire in 2010-2011, and of the first VVER-1000 unit of the South Ukraine nuclear plant, in 2012.

The costs of extending a reactor’s life cycle by 10-15 years constitute a mere one-tenth of the cost of building a new reactor.

According to various estimates Ukraine may need 2.5-4 billion dollars to upgrade all of its nuclear power units.

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3.
Lifetime Of Bilibino NPP Extended For 15 Years More
Bellona Foundation
3/19/2004
(for personal use only)


This is the last extension and then the plant should be taken out of operation in 15 years, ITAR-TASS reported.

According to Mikhail Chudakov who spoke with ITAR-TASS, Rosenergoatom concern will cover most of the expenses for the plant’s operation. In particular, about $20m is allocated for the safety of the plant and also for equipment replacement. $700 thousand has been allocated through the Russian Federal program ”Nuclear and radiation safety of Russia”.

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4.
Science And Technology In Russia (excerpted)
Pravda.ru
3/19/2004
(for personal use only)


* Russia's prospected and accumulated reserves of uranium and plutonium will ensure the stable development of the country's nuclear power engineering until the end of the 2030s, says a nuclear industry leader Igor Borovkov. After that, the Russian nuclear power engineering will resort to fast neutron reactors and thermonuclear plants.

Russia's nuclear energy is developing at a stable pace. In the past five years, electricity generation at nuclear power plants rose by 40% and their share in the power balance of European Russia topped 20%, annually replacing about 40 bln cubic metres of natural gas in the country's energy balance and increasing replacement by up to 3 bln cu m every year.

The cost of electricity produced at nuclear plants is 10-13% cheaper. Russia's Energy Strategy provides for the development of nuclear power engineering at two times the pace of other energy branches. By 2020, the production of electricity at nuclear power plants will reach 270-300 bln kWh a year, or double the current figure.

[…]

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L.  Nuclear Safety

1.
Russian Nuclear Regulatory Reports About Insufficient Level Of Nuclear Installations Security
Bellona Foundation
3/24/2004
(for personal use only)


The head of the Russian Nuclear Regulatory Andrey Malyshev stated that at the Collegium on nuclear and radiation safety and security on February 27.

The Russian State Nuclear Regulatory performed 299 inspections to reveal the level of nuclear sites’ physical protection and detected 175 violations in 2003. In 2002 and 2003 only one violation of class A was registered, which led to overexposure of the testing operators and three radiation incidents concerning excess of the radiation control levels during operation with radioactive substances.

According to Malyshev, the Russian nuclear plants experienced rise in the number of the violations from 39 in 2002 to 51 in 2003. Malyshev assumed that this rise is connected with the 4.6% increase of energy generation at the nuclear plants. He also stated that unit no.1 of the Kursk NPP was launched without proper adjusting of the operating licence. An investigation was conducted and the measures were taken added Malyshev.

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2.
Russia’s First SRW Treatment Facility Opened In Polyarny
Bellona Foundation
3/23/2004
(for personal use only)


A solid radioactive waste treatment facility has been presented in Polyarny, Murmansk region.

The facility was open on February 26 at the shipyard no.10 in Polyarny, RIA-Novosti reported. The $5.1m project was initiated in 2001 in the frames of the Arctic Military Environmental Cooperation (AMEC) program formally established in 1996. The head of the shipyard 1st rank captain Anatoly Kolner told journalists that shipyard no.10 accumulated 600 cubic meters of the solid radioactive waste, which had been generated during dismantling of 15 first and second generation nuclear submarines. The waste mostly consists of rubber and plastic parts as well as light metal bulkheads of the nuclear submarines that are not highly contaminated. However, they are stored far from the European safety standards. According to Kolner, this project would allow to reprocess all this waste during one year. The Kola Peninsula accumulated total 800 thousand cubic meters of SRW. The Russian Defence Ministry agreed with the former nuclear ministry to use the facility not only for the navy, but also for the civil companies, which handle SRW.

The SRW facility at the Shipyard no.10 combined several AMEC radiation projects: a module mobile facility for SRW reprocessing, a hydraulic metal-cutting equipment, a press capable to reduce waste volume in 5 times, metal containers for the waste storage. The compressed SRW will be loaded into the metal barrels, which will be placed into specially designed containers. Then the containers will be stored maximum 15 years in the hangar. It is expected that the Russian government will build the permanent repository for the radioactive waste during this time. The solid radioactive waste treatment facility is expected to start operation in April after the State Commission approves it, media sources reported.

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M.  Official Statements

1.
Interview of Russian First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Vyacheslav Trubnikov, Published in the Newspaper Vremya Novostei on March 23, 2004, under the Heading "'Axis of Evil' Is a Farfetched Notion" (excerpted)
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Daily News Bulletin
3/23/2004
(for personal use only)


Russia and the US continue to fight terrorism jointly. In overall charge of this specific cooperation is the Trubnikov-Armitage working group, so called by the names of its co-chairmen - Vyacheslav Trubnikov, Russian MFA First Deputy Head, and Richard Armitage, US Deputy Secretary of State. Trubnikov talks to Vremya Novostei special correspondent Katerina Labetskaya about this partnership.

Vyacheslav Trubnikov: Relations between our countries bearing special responsibility for international security rest on a solid foundation not subject to momentary expediency. The working group on counterterrorism over its four years of activity, having proved its effectiveness, has become a model for ten bilateral working groups on counterterrorism. In a bilateral format, it is easier for partners from special services and law enforcement agencies to find a "common denominator." The results are then moved on to a multilateral level. Our latest agreements concern joint efforts to cut off the financing of terrorism and respond to crisis situations caused by acts of terrorism involving nuclear and radiological materials and chemical and biological substances. The geography of deepened antiterrorist cooperation is going to expand, but still the US and Russia will stay ahead of the rest since we will continue to improve the huge potential of this format.

[…]

QUESTION: Will Russia join the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), launched by US President George W. Bush last May?

ANSWER: We agree with the need to suppress the illegal trade in materials dangerous from the WMD proliferation viewpoint. But only without double standards, without a division into "bad" and "good" proliferators. And there is a need for a systemic approach. With emphasis on the strengthening of the existing nonproliferation regimes, on export controls, on tough national laws and on multilateral cooperation among law enforcement agencies.

Our legislation puts up a reliable barrier to illegal WMD trade within the bounds of national jurisdiction, but, certainly, broad cooperation at the global level is also necessary. And here there still remains the vagueness of the mechanism for carrying out the PSI, of its correlation with international law and national legislations. At the same time the PSI is evolving towards greater emphasis on legal bases for cooperation. Russia will continue an active dialogue with the US and the PSI core, made up of 11 participants.

QUESTION: What needs to be refined in the PSI?

ANSWER: So far this initiative is in an embryonic state, just as other initiatives of the Greater Middle East type, and does not exactly fit into the existing legal framework. The arrest of a vessel entails material costs for the ship's owner, the customer and the country under whose flag it is registered. It is assumed that ships can be examined with the consent of a state participating in the initiative. But it's necessary to strictly regulate the consequences of such steps in case of error. And to clearly decide about the sources of information on whose basis vessels will be arrested. The implementation of the initiative is only possible within international law, after its approval by the United Nations and the Security Council.

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2.
The Atomic Branch Retained its Integrity During the Transformation of Minatom to a Federal Agency
Minatom.ru
3/22/2004
(for personal use only)


Translated by RANSAC Staff

The Director of the Federal Agency for Atomic Energy Alexander Rumyantsev gave this opinion on March 22nd at a meeting with journalists in Moscow. “No basic economic functions were taken from the branch, and new ones were not added.”

Here are a few further statements of Alexander Rumyantsev on the reforms currently being conducted:

·“In our rights were may not be the successor of Minatom, but in our functions that is what we are.”

·“Those functions in the area of managing state property that the Ministry earlier decided in contact with the Property Ministry, we will now decided ourselves.”

·“The area of our rights and responsibilities has narrowed. Thus, if earlier we were able to introduce legislative proposals directly to the government, now this function is given to the Ministry for Industry and Energy.” Apparently, the Ministry will also work at the level of inter-governmental agreements.

The administration of the Federal Agency will differ from Minatom’s, the size and structure will be reduced, “a part of our colleagues we are prepared to delegate to the Ministry for Industry and Energy.” Together with this, the agency will “realize the management of real economic activities, manage property, and also publish individual legal acts.”

Questions connected with the nuclear weapons complex will, as earlier, be decided together with the Ministry of Defense – “the level of our juridical relations with the Ministry of Defense have not undergone revision,” noted Alexander Rumyantsev.

The Presidential Order on the creation of the new structure of Federal organs of executive power does not subject to revision targeted federal programs, defense projects, and other programs that the Ministry participated in realizing. The liquidation commission has currently already started working. “All liquidation work should be completed in a three-month period.”

By the end of March the government normative-legal act “Issues of the Federal Agency for Atomic Energy” should be created, where the task of the department will be formed. Then the adoption of “The Status of the Federal Agency for Atomic Energy” is expected, where the functions of the agency will be detailed.

“The retention of the integrity of the nuclear branch and all the tasks that stand before it, is the basic priority of our activity,” – underlined Alexander Rumyantsev. “The staff of the atomic branch is no longer a ministry, but on the other hand, otherwise this integrity would not have been preserved.”

In the opinion of the head of the agency, all the international responsibilities of Minatom will be fulfilled in full measure. The realization of the HEU-LEU contract will be achieved in accordance with the inter-governmental agreements between the Russian Federation and the USA. The HEU-LEU contract is being fulfilled “like clockwork”, despite all it complexities.

Concerning issues of cooperation with Iran, Alexander Rumyantsev announced that all Russian plans in relation to the Iranian atomic program remain in force, despite the reorganization of Minatom. “Technical cooperation with Iran in the area of building the NPP in Busher continues, and I do not see a reason that could limit our cooperation.”

The head of the agency noted that the delay in the signing of the additional agreement on the return of spent fuel “came about from a series of financial aspects. The Iranian side asked for several months to study world experience on handling spent fuel. However, Iran has repeatedly confirmed its readiness to sign this agreement,” Alexander Rumyantsev also noted. A coordination conference took place at Busher in February, at which Russian specialists also took part. “My most recent trip to Iran has been postponed, apparently by the late spring.”

The physical launching of the first bloc of the Tyanvansky NPP in China will be conducted in the course of the next month and a half – two months, and in the third quarter of 2004 the atomic station will be connected to the Chinese energy system. At present, pre-operational testing at the bloc is being completed.

Answering questions on the possible auctioning of the enterprises of the atomic branch, Alexander Rumyantsev announced that the Federal Agency for Atomic Energy does no plan to conduct any kind of activities for the auctioning of “Rosenergatom” in 2004. “Nothing will be done in a hurry,” – announced Alexander Rumyantsev. In his opinion, in auctioning it would be desirable that 100% of society’s bloc of shares would be concentrated in the state. The effectiveness of such a form of property is demonstrated by the activities of OAO [joint stock company] “TVEL” and OAO “Tekhnabeksport”. “These companies introduce tens of millions of dollars into the state budget at dividend payments,” – underlined the head of the Federal Agency for Atomic Energy. “Now the potential of the atomic branch is higher than those investment means that we have made available for the construction of NPPs. From this point of view, the OAO as an instrument for increasing investment is much more effective than a FGUP. Therefore, auctions are, apparently, unavoidable. Currently, the interrelations of the Federal Agency for Atomic Energy and Rosenergatom remain that same as they were under Minatom.”

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3.
Transcript of Remarks and Answers to Questions from Russian and Foreign Media by Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov at Press Conference at Russian MFA Press Center, Moscow, March 17, 2004 (excerpted)
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Daily News Bulletin
3/18/2004
(for personal use only)


[…]

QUESTION: What effect can the pre-election rhetoric in Russia and the US have on the development of Russian-American relations? Will Russia's attitude change with regard to the nuclear program of Iran?

FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: It will be no exaggeration to say that any election campaign has its own specifics and does not always reflect the real level of relations between states. President George Bush was one of the first to phone President Putin and to congratulate him on his victory in the elections. I will not open a big secret if I say that both presidents reconfirmed the course developed by them towards the strategic partnership. There is practically nothing to separate us with the Americans in the vision of the strategic tasks before humanity in the field of the ensuring of security and stability. And that there are different readings as to how to achieve those tasks is something that's quite natural between partners. As the saying goes, truth is born in disputes.

As to the critical remarks about the course of the election campaign in Russia, I was somewhat surprised to hear that because the election campaign was open.

It is interesting that the most fervent part of the criticism was about the administrative resource being used to show the incumbent president exclusively. First, this wasn't quite so. I saw the TV appearances of many other candidates. And, secondly, incumbent presidents are shown more often than others simply because they work. In the US too I far more often saw President Bush on screens that his rivals from the Democratic Party, simply because he directs the country and is in foreign policy contact with other leaders. If all are given an absolutely equal time, then information has to be ceased to be given about what the incumbent president is doing. This is also incorrect. Thirdly, during the campaign in the elections of deputies to the State Duma of Russia there was no censure on the part of observers, mostly European. Remarks appeared only when the preliminary election results had become known. They all boiled to the claim that for two months certain parties had not received enough air time. If that is so then why everybody maintained a silence during those two months? And they began to talk about the air time being unfairly divided only when the elections had taken place? Perhaps they had been waiting for some other election results? I am speaking now as a person who had been watching this, and was astonished that the criticisms should be expressed at the moment when they could no longer influence either the results or the course of the elections even if that was a part of the calculations of those who came up with such criticism. If the criticism had been constructive, it should have been launched when those deviations, as they believe, were noticed, and not post factum when the elections had already taken place.

Russia's position on Iran remains invariable. We are for the elucidation and settlement of all the questions that have a bearing on the nuclear activities of Iran and for Iran to cooperate closely in these matters with the IAEA.

Iran signed the additional protocol to the IAEA Safeguards Agreement and is already applying its provisions in practice. Iran took a decision on the voluntary suspension of uranium enrichment activities. We now call upon Teheran to continue its full, active, transparent cooperation with the IAEA, aimed at resolving all the questions that the IAEA still has.

Several days ago the IAEA Board of Governors adopted a resolution on Iran, which we consider generally a well-considered and balanced one. This resolution directs the IAEA to continue its monitoring work in Iran. We support this approach and believe that the successful development of cooperation between Iran and the IAEA is the sole route that will help to close the Iranian dossier so that no one has any questions or suspicions left. On this subject we are maintaining contacts with the leadership of Iran and expect that the dates for IAEA checks will be arranged in advance in the nearest future.

[…]

QUESTION: What are the prospects for the development of Russian-Iranian relations?

FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: Iran is our neighbor and partner, a major factor of solving the problems of the Persian Gulf and the entire region, a major participant in the antiterrorist coalition. Our cooperation with Iran is not liable to any momentary fluctuations, including in the nuclear field. We believe that Iran has a right to develop its peaceful nuclear energy if this conforms to the rules of the IAEA. Our Iranian partners agree with this.

[…]

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4.
U.S.-Russia Relations In Putin's Second Term (excerpted)
A. Elizabeth Jones, , Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs
House International Relations Committee
3/18/2004
(for personal use only)


Mr. Chairman, Members of the Committee, I am delighted to be with you this morning to discuss the current state of U.S.-Russian relations and the prospects for their evolution. Hardly a day goes by without our addressing aspects of this important relationship in one way or another, and yet the occasions for reflecting seriously on its entirety are surprisingly few. I especially value the chance to share my thoughts with you this morning on where we are in the relationship and where we are headed -- and to hear your comments and questions. The time is certainly right, now that the Russian presidential election is behind us and the shape of the new Russian administration has become clear.

Let me begin with a brief assessment of where we are at present.

As I reported to your Subcommittee on Europe earlier this month, we have made remarkable progress with the Russians on a broad range of issues on which we share a common interest. It is easy, but shortsighted, to take for granted the most notable achievement of the past decade: we have essentially eliminated the threat of global nuclear annihilation. No longer are Russian and American missiles targeted against our respective homelands. Instead, valuable work has been underway to make drastic reductions in strategic arsenals, to secure nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction-related materials on the territory of the former Soviet Union and to improve our cooperation in the area of nuclear and WMD (weapons of mass destruction) nonproliferation. In my view, there is no more important area of common interest between Washington and Moscow, and these cooperative efforts, which have enjoyed the strong support of the Congress, must continue.

Since the tragic events of 9/11, our consciousness of new threats to American security and the security of our friends and allies has been heightened and refined. The fact that President Putin was the first foreign leader to call President Bush on that horrific day has been widely commented on. The fact of the matter is that Russia and the United States have become strong allies in the global war on terrorism. A decade ago, it was inconceivable that the United States and the Russian Federation would exchange actionable intelligence on terrorism, but now we do. While there is much more that needs to be done before the scourge of terrorism is erased from our lives, our partnership with Russia in this area constitutes an important weapon in our struggle.

Because the prospect of terrorists obtaining weapons of mass destruction is such an appalling one, we have been working hard to keep that danger from becoming a reality. Russia shares our basic goal of stemming the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them, and is cooperating with us to an extent that previously would have been unimaginable. Russia is playing a constructive role in multilateral fora such as the G-8, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum and the Wassenaar Arrangement. Russia is also working closely with us to combat the threat to aircraft posed by MANPADS (Man Portable Air Defense Systems) proliferation. While there remain some differences of perspective with regard to the nuclear programs of Iran and North Korea (the DPRK), we have enjoyed an increasingly satisfactory level of cooperation with Moscow on these problems.

Let me be more specific.

Our dialogue with Moscow on Iran's nuclear programs has become more fruitful since just over one year ago, when previously suspected but unconfirmed nuclear activities came to light. We are now working intensively with Russia and other partners in the IAEA to compel Iran to bring its nuclear programs into compliance with IAEA rules. Although some differences remain between the Russians and us over the Iranian nuclear program, the Russians are taking a more serious approach and the gap between us has narrowed. Russia's civilian nuclear industry views the Bushehr reactor project as an important source of income; we understand that, but will continue to urge that Russia keep further nuclear cooperation with Iran on hold until it is clear that Iran is committed to suspending indefinitely enrichment and reprocessing activities.

On North Korea, I am pleased to report that Russia has played a productive role in the process of organizing and carrying out the six-party talks aimed at ensuring the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantling of the DPRK's nuclear programs. Moscow has a degree of access in Pyongyang that is unique, and we will continue to urge the Russians to use their influence to ensure that the Korean Peninsula is free of nuclear weapons.

We are exploring with the Russians how they might play a constructive role in support of the President's Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), including possible membership in the Core Group. Russia has been receptive to the concept of practical cooperation in interdicting illicit WMD shipments.

Another area of cooperation is in space. Since the loss of the shuttle Columbia, Russian capability to lift payloads has supported the operations of the International Space Station. As we define future challenges in space, we believe that continuing our cooperation and combining Russian and American resources, technology and experience will benefit both nations and accelerate space exploration.

[…]

We are working hard to develop NATO's partnership with Russia. The NATO-Russia Council is only two years old, but has already taken relations to a new level. Russia now interacts with the Allies as an equal at the table, discussing concrete cooperation programs, and security issues, but having no veto authority over NATO decisions. I would like to single out the NATO-Russia military interoperability program, which is laying the foundations for possible joint military actions. Since last May, the Russian Ministry of Defense has completed an impressive 80% of interoperability tasks identified by NATO's military headquarters (SHAPE). A Russian military liaison branch at SHAPE and a Status of Forces Agreement with Russia are in the works. These are modest steps in the direction of a genuine security partnership between NATO and Russia. The NATO-Russia Council still has great untapped potential, and we will continue to explore ways of enhancing our cooperation in such key areas as combating terrorism, civil emergency planning, missile defense and airspace management on the continent of Europe.

NATO will shortly be enlarging its membership by seven new countries, some of which border on the Russian Federation. NATO's new focus is on confronting new threats to security, not on perpetuating the Cold War. We have made clear to the Russians that NATO poses no threat to Russia. In fact, we are also consulting with Russia about the global review of our military posture that is underway, so that the Russians will understand that this review aims at dealing more effectively with new threats, not encircling Russia. Given the new threats to our common security, we want lighter, more readily deployable forces, not an expansion of Cold War Era garrisons further to the East.

[…]

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N.  Links of Interest

1.
Global Partnership Update
Center for Strategic and International Studies
3/23/2004
(for personal use only)
http://www.sgpproject.org/publications/GPUpdateMarch2004.pdf


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2.
Nonproliferation and Disarmament Co-operation Initiative, London 2004
Department of Trade and Industry of the United Kingdom
3/19/2004
(for personal use only)
http://www.dti.gov.uk/energy/nuclear/fsu/ndcl_event_con04.shtml


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3.
Harnessing the Power of Nations for Arms Control: The Proliferation Security Initiative and Coalitions of the Willing
Baker Spring
Heritage Foundation
3/18/2004
(for personal use only)
http://www.heritage.org/Research/NationalSecurity/bg1737.cfm


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4.
Reorganization Of The Government Affects Defense Industry
Pavel Podvig
Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces
3/15/2004
(for personal use only)
http://www.russianforces.org/eng/news/archives/000054.html


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5.
Title XXXII – National Nuclear Security Administration Act
National Nuclear Security Administration
3/11/2004
(for personal use only)
http://www.nnsa.doe.gov/docs/2004-03-11-Title_XXXII.pdf


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