Russian and US experts meet this month to assess terror tactics, from hacking into systems to seizing a weapon.
MOSCOW - Imagine this scenario: Computer hackers working for Al Qaeda break into Russia's nuclear weapons network, and "spoof" the system into believing it is under attack, setting off a chain reaction, and a real nuclear counterattack.
Another doomsday possibility made headlines when Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's No. 2, was quoted last month boasting that Al Qaeda had already acquired "some suitcase bombs" - radioactive material packed with conventional explosives. Mr. Zawahiri said that anything was available for $30 million on the Central Asian black market or from disgruntled Soviet scientists. Russia immediately rejected the claim.
But such what-ifs are among the nuclear terrorism threats that analysts are reexamining, as the learning curve of terror groups today comes closer to intersecting the vulnerabilities of atomic arsenals.
A handful of Russian and American nuclear experts, both military and civilian, are quietly convening a first meeting in Moscow later this month, to launch a year-long modeling exercise to specify the new dangers.
"These are future threats, but we must be ready for them today," says Pavel Zolotarev, a former major general in Russia's Strategic Rocket Forces, which inherited the vast Soviet nuclear arsenal. "There should be no chance that wrong signals get into the system, to provoke a presidential decision [to launch]."
In the past, top priority in Russia has been protecting its stocks of bomb-grade nuclear material. The US has been spending roughly $1 billion per year to upgrade Russia's nuclear security and dismantle warheads.
But experts are now looking at new terror tactics, from hacking to seizing a complete weapon.
"The threats are changing in the most radical way," says Vladimir Dvorkin, a former rocket forces major general, who was head of development for the Russian Defense Ministry's strategic forces, missile defense, and space systems until 2001.
CYBERWARFARE MEETS 50S TECH
Ironically, Russia's older systems may be less vulnerable than US weaponry to the most cutting-edge threats, particularly cyberwarfare.
Russia's strict centralized control system - a holdover from the Soviet era - makes it "harder, at some level, for terrorists to do something to break the safeguards and launch," says Bruce Blair, a nuclear security expert and former Minuteman launch officer who heads the Center for Defense Information in Washington (CDI).
In contrast, the US Department of Defense infrastructure consists of over 2.1 million computers, with 10,000 local area networks, and 1,000 long-distance networks.
DANGER FROM HACKERS
Hackers have been active against government networks, if targeted US systems are any gauge. Mi2g, a digital security analyst company based in London, found that 2003 yielded a "meteoric rise in electronic crime," and that along with criminal scams, "extremist group activity" had risen by several hundred percent.
The sobering results of the still- classified work by a Pentagon "Commission on Nuclear Fail-Safe" - to which Mr. Blair testified about Soviet nuclear safeguards, inside a vault at the Pentagon around 1992 - point to US vulnerabilities that could also apply to Russian systems today. Investigators found an "electronic back door" into the US Navy's system for broadcasting nuclear launch orders to Trident submarines.
"This deficiency allowed unauthorized hackers, which could be terrorists or high school mischief makers, to potentially insert a launch order and transmit it to the Trident," Blair says. The gap was so serious that Navy launch order verifications had to be revised.
Indeed, few systems are safe. The US National Security Agency hired 35 hackers in 1997 to simulate a cyberterrorist attack. They were able to break into defense networks and shut down parts of the power grid and emergency services.
Such risks prompted the UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, to hold a first meeting on the issue of vulnerable electronic systems in October 2002.
"We are aware of the problem and addressing it as part of our broader nuclear security," says an IAEA official in Vienna. "It goes hand in hand with the ability of hackers to get into supposedly secure systems."
Russia's early warning and launch system is self-contained, however, and not connected in any way to the Internet or other outside portals, so it is widely deemed here to be secure. Like US nuclear command and control - some elements of which were built in the 1950s and 1960s - Russia relies on an antiquated system.
"It's like having a first generation Mercedes Benz that no modern repair center can fix," says Maxim Shingarkin, a former major in the 12th Main Directorate of Russia's Defense Ministry, which protects the nuclear arsenal.
Even when military cables are laid alongside nonmilitary ones, exposing the system to outside access, terrorists could "take the signal, but could not generate it" without being detected, Maj. Shingarkin says.
'OLD SCRAP OF METAL'
A special project begun in the late 1990s took three years to get a modern computer to recognize and integrate information from "this old scrap of metal" that handles nuclear weapons systems, Shingarkin adds. Even today, perforated punch cards are often used instead of normal computer passwords. But Russia's underpaid and poorly maintained military poses its own terror risks, says the CDI's Blair. "There's now the question of insider collusion, and if you have people on the inside sharing information about potential vulnerabilities, you quadruple the problem."
$750,000 FOR A CAN OF MERCURY
Tentative first signs of such collusion are already raising red flags, though making the link hasn't been easy, says Matthew Bunn, a nuclear expert at Harvard's Project on Managing the Atom.
"The connection between the guy in a position to steal, and Al Qaeda, is a pretty difficult step," says Mr. Bunn. "It's not like you can walk in wearing a white turban waving a million dollars around, and expect to get anywhere."
Last year, however, a Russian businessman was found to have offered $750,000 for weapons-grade plutonium, and contacted scientists at a key Russian institute, Bunn says. They deceived him by selling him a canister of mercury.
The days of the "desperate insider" of the 1990s - when guards at nuclear sites left their posts to forage for food, or electricity to alarms and weapons systems was cut because bills had gone unpaid - are now giving way to the "greedy insider," Bunn adds.
And what money can't buy may be more easily acquired by force.
The US military has demonstrated this danger by staging successful mock terror attacks on American nuclear facilities that included setting off an improvised nuclear device within minutes on site. Secret Russian test exercises have also broken through security at nuclear sites.
Several terror-related events have been raising concern. In four incidents in 2001 and 2002, Chechens were caught scoping out two nuclear sites - so secret that even their location was supposed to be unknown - and two mobile missiles.
Chechen separatists have strong links with Al Qaeda, and have warned explicitly that they might take over a nuclear facility. Few doubt their chutzpah. Russians were shocked when 41 heavily armed Chechens seized a theater in downtown Moscow in October 2002 - a force that could easily overwhelm numerous remote nuclear sites, says Bunn.
"This is very worrisome," says Bunn. "The basic assumption is that the intelligence services are so good, they'll know [when intruders are] coming. [But] if they don't know, they're going to be in trouble."
SECURITY KITS REMAIN IN BOXES
Bureaucracy is blunting the effectiveness of US efforts to tighten Russian nuclear security. Just half of the 123 US-supplied kits for making quick-fix upgrades at secret sites have been installed, four years after delivery. They each include a half a mile of multilayer fencing and an array of intrusion detectors.
"A huge part of security for those sites is that nobody knows where they are," Bunn says. "[The upgrade kits] are sitting on shelves, and terrorists apparently know where sites are. It's unbelievable."
Many Russian experts argue, though, that even if a terror group seized a nuclear weapon, they would not be able to use it. American and most Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles have various safeguards that can permanently disable a weapon if it is tampered with, or require an actual missile launch to arm the warhead.
"We can't exclude terrorists seizing a missile, but that will be the end of this terrorist act, because they will not be capable of launching it - never," says Dvorkin, who also discounts chances of an inside job. "There is not a single worker next to a nuclear weapon who is capable of giving this information, because the codes are only known to the highest command."
However, Russia is believed to have around 3,400 live "tactical" nuclear weapons - such as mines and artillery shells, which are sometimes triggered only by radar or radio signals. US experts suspect that these weapons are often not protected by much more than padlocks.
BEYOND JAMES BOND
Still, the amount of foresight Al Qaeda displayed in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks deepens fears of nuclear terror.
"It's more complicated than slapping on an alarm clock and running a couple of wires, like James Bond," says Jon Wolfstahl, a nuclear nonproliferation expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington. "But we believe it's within the capability of more sophisticated, well-financed groups, especially if they can get their hands on scientists or engineers with knowledge of these systems."
Al Qaeda tops that short list.
"[Al Qaeda cells] are not very capable, technically, but they're learning more and more, and this isn't going to go away in one or two years," says David Albright, a physicist who heads the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington. Searching for clues about the level of Al Qaeda nuclear expertise, he has examined troves of documents and videos uncovered in Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban.
"They make a lot of mistakes, [but] they're becoming more capable over time," says Mr. Albright. Recruiting nuclear and computer experts could make the dangers surge.
"People have that capability, they may turn sympathetic to Al Qaeda, or be blackmailed by Al Qaeda," Albright says. "You can't build a defense on the premise that Al Qaeda can't do it."
GROZNY, April 15 (RIA Novosti) - Three militant bases have been discovered in Chechnya, with strong poison found at one of them, the regional HQ for the counter-terrorist operation in the North Caucasus reported.
According to the spokesman for the HQ, Ilya Shabalkin, this base was situated in the Vedeno district, 1.5 km away from the Pervomaiskoye settlement. A glass jar with about 200 g of poison was hidden in the cache with radio communication means. The manual for the poison said that one gram was enough to kill 500 people.
Preliminary analysis has shown that this is artificial poison.
According to the HQ, 7 kg of explosives and nine radio stations were also found at the discovered bases. Some Alinco and Kenwood radio stations were even re-fitted out as bomb remote controls.
2. United States Suspends Chemical Weapons Disposal Aid, Russian Official Says
Global Security Newswire
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The United States is needlessly suspending financial aid for Russiaï¿½s chemical weapons disposal efforts, Russian Audit Chairman Sergei Stepashin said Monday (see GSN, April 6).
The United States planned in 2004 to provide Russia with $130 million for chemical weapons destruction beginning this month, Stepashin told Interfax. ï¿½But for various reasons, this funding has been suspended,ï¿½ he said shortly after finishing a trip to the United States.
During the visit, U.S. officials accused Russia of mishandling international aid and of failing to fully disclose its chemical weapons stockpiles, Stepashin said. He denied both charges.
ï¿½Therefore, the U.S.A. has no grounds for suspending resources allocated for the disposal of chemical weapons in Russia,ï¿½ Stepashin said (Interfax/BBC Monitoring, April 13).
1. United Kingdom Considering Expanding Russian Nuclear Submarine Dismantlement Aid
Global Security Newswire
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WASHINGTON ï¿½ The United Kingdom is considering expanding its assistance to Russian nuclear submarine dismantlement efforts, a British Department of Industry and Trade official told Global Security Newswire last week.
The United Kingdom has already agreed to provide Russia with more than $20 million to aid in the dismantlement of two Oscar-class submarines, according to Steve Truswell, assistant director of the departmentï¿½s Northwest Russia projects. The project is being conducted at a northeastern Russian shipyard and is expected to be completed later this year, Truswell said in a written statement.
British funding for the dismantlement of the two submarines is part of the United Kingdomï¿½s $750 million pledge to the Group of Eightï¿½s Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons of Mass Destruction. Under the effort, initiated in 2002, G-8 members agreed to pledge $20 billion over 10 years to help fund nonproliferation projects, primarily in Russia.
The United Kingdom is considering additional submarine dismantlement projects and plans to establish a dismantlement rate of as many as two submarines per year, Truswell said. Such additional projects are estimated to cost about additional $7 million per year ï¿½depending on the circumstances [and] specifics,ï¿½ he said in an e-mail message.
Last week, the Russian news agency Interfax reported British and Russian officials in Moscow earlier this month discussed a proposal for London to help fund the dismantlement of a Victor-class nuclear submarine and to help clean up a former Russian naval base. Interfax incorrectly reported, though, that the United Kingdom had agreed to provide Russia with almost $4 billion for Russian nuclear submarine dismantlement efforts (see GSN, April 7).
1. Russia Concerned Over Spread Of Weapons Of Mass Destruction
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MOSCOW, April 15 (RIA Novosti) - Russia shares concerns of the International Atomic Energy Agency on the illegal spread of weapons of mass destruction, Alexander Yakovenko, official spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, told the RIA Novosti press conference on Friday.
Commenting on the statement of the IAEA director general that such weapons are rapidly spreading in the world, Alexander Yakovenko said: "There are in the world quite many, also ownerless, sources of fuel. This is why we have submitted to the United Nations Security Council a draft resolution on the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The initiative targets the strengthening of international cooperation in the struggle against the illegal turnover of weapons of mass destruction".
"In order to prevent the threat of dangerous nuclear materials, Russia together with the United States and the International Atomic Energy Agency is already working on the programme of replacing nuclear fuel from reactors in Serbia, Rumania, Bulgaria and Libya", recalled of the official spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry.
"Work is already under way but interaction of the international community should be stepped up so as to prevent weapons of mass destruction from getting into the wrong hands", Alexander Yakovenko said in conclusion.
Officials in Moscow deny reports that Russia is deliberately delaying the construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran. These allegations stem from the fact that Alexander Rumyantsev, Russia's former nuclear energy minister, repeatedly postponed his visit to Iran. However, such delays were caused by the administrative reform being conducted in Russia, which transformed the Nuclear Energy Ministry into the Nuclear Energy Agency.
Moreover, the Iranian side's decision to pause and analyze the legal and commercial aspects of Moscow's nuclear-fuel term fuelled these rumors. Russia wants all of the spent nuclear fuel from the Bushehr plant to be returned to Russia for storage and processing. In his recent statements, Rumyantsev said that "the current financial differences are being eliminated, the Iranians do not have any principled objections," and are ready to sign an agreement on spent nuclear fuel."
Rumyantsev, the director of the Nuclear Energy Agency, organized a press conference soon after his appointment. Talking to reporters, Rumyantsev noted that he "sees no obstacles that can hinder Russian-Iranian cooperation, which is regulated by international law and the treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. Iran is our neighbor and traditional partner. There is no doubt that Russia will fulfil its commitments to Iran, and will complete the Bushehr nuclear power plant."
It is impossible to stop the Bushehr construction project, Alexander Yakovenko, the spokesman of the Russian Foreign Ministry, noted. "Moscow has not examined this possibility at all," Yakovenko stressed, while talking with reporters before Rumyantsev's press conference.
Russia began construction of the Bushehr plant, a unique nuclear power plant on the Persian Gulf coast, six years ago. Siemens, a German company, completed the initial phase of the project in the 1970s. At that time, the German nuclear reactor could have been activated. However, during the Iranian-Iraqi war (1980-1988), missiles seriously damaged the walls of the reactor. Consequently, Siemens stopped working on the project and its specialists left Bushehr.
After the war, no one wanted to complete work on the damaged reactor. Russia was the only country that agreed to begin construction work. However, Russia was suffering from an economic collapse and an acute social and political crisis after the disintegration of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. Yevgeny Adamov, the nuclear energy minister at the time, said, "in that difficult situation the nuclear power industry had to retain its specialists. Iran was not stingy, they quickly paid Russia in hard currency." The Bushehr plant contract was worth $800 million. It enabled Moscow to subsidize Russia's machine-building enterprises and research and development agencies.
The task to complete the Bushehr nuclear power plant was unprecedented and formidable. The facility had fallen into disrepair because it had been subjected to scorching heat and desert winds for over a decade. Thorny desert bushes grew all around the reactor and there were snakes everywhere. Most of the reactor equipment was rejected as defective by a joint Russian-Iranian expert survey. Other systems were rejected because they did not conform to the Russian design.
Moscow and Tehran signed a contract for the construction of a 1,000 MWe VVER-1000 water-cooled and water-moderated reactor in 1995. VVER-100 reactors are listed among the safest and best nuclear reactors, in terms of their specifications, in the world. Construction finally began three years later because of technical problems and delayed Western equipment shipments.
Since then, Russia has invested tremendous intellectual, moral and physical resources into the Bushehr project. Several thousand Russian specialists worked at the construction site in adverse weather conditions (40-50 degrees Celsius). The power plant is close to completion because of their efforts. According to Rumyantsev, the Bushehr plant will be tested next year.
Russia was criticized and subjected to political pressure from the United States for implementing the Bushehr construction project. Russia is being reproached for this project because the Bushehr nuclear power plant will allegedly enable Iran to develop its own nuclear weapons. "Accusations to the effect that we are trying to supply military nuclear technologies are groundless," Rumyantsev noted. "Our cooperation with Iran in the field of nuclear power plants construction is completely based on international law on the peaceful use of nuclear technology."
The IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) Charter expressly states that any country that does not have its own nuclear facilities and wants to create a civilian nuclear power industry, must sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and pledge to fulfil all commitments under IAEA auspices. Consequently, nuclear powers can and must help such countries to develop their own nuclear energy facilities.
Therefore Russian-Iranian cooperation is absolutely legal. In an attempt to remove all IAEA concerns, Iran signed an additional protocol to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty in December 2003. According to the provisions of the protocol, the IAEA, which is a respected international organization, can conduct on-site inspections at Iranian nuclear facilities. IAEA inspectors have exercised this right in full measure. However, so far, the IAEA has failed to provide any evidence of a covert Iranian nuclear program.
1. Russian Company To Provide Three Electric Power Units For India
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NEW-DELHI, April 14 (Itar-Tass) - The National Thermal Power Corporation of India has informed Russiaï¿½s Silovye Mashiny (Power Machines) corporation it has won a tender for the manufacture, delivery and assembly of equipment for three thermoelectric units with a capacity of 660 MW each, a representative of a Silovye Mashiny office in New-Delhi, Alexander Kuleshov told Itar-Tass on Wednesday.
The equipment is meant for a future electric power station in Sipat, Chhattisgarh.
Japanese and French companies also took part in the bidding contest. This is the biggest contract in power engineering a Russian company has concluded over the past 15 years, Kuleshov said.
Silovye Mashiny is Russiaï¿½s leading manufacturer of equipment for hydro, thermal, gas and nuclear power plants.
1. The Nuclear Submarine ï¿½Dmitry Donskoiï¿½ Modernized at the Severodvinsk Shipyards, is Preparing for a New Stage of Sea Trials in the White Sea
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Translated by RANSAC Staff
The nuclear submarine ï¿½Dmitry Donskoiï¿½, modernized at the military shipyards of PO ï¿½Northern Machine-Building Enterpriseï¿½ (Sevmash) in Severodvinsk, is preparing for a new stage of sea trials in the White Sea.
Deputy Head of the Sevmash press-service Mikhail Starozhilov announced that the preparation of the military boat for testing was checked by the First Deputy Commander of the VMF [Navy], Admiral Mikhail Zakharenko. And according to the facts of the military delegation at the factory, ï¿½remains satisfied with the progress of work.ï¿½
Earlier SPB-Tass reported that the heavy strategic nuclear rocket cruiser ï¿½Dmitry Donskoiï¿½ is a 941 class ï¿½Akulaï¿½ modernized into a latest, fourth-generation boat. The renovation of the submarine, built at Sevmash in 1982 with number 711 ï¿½ the lead in the class of the largest domestic nuclear submarines ï¿½ lasted more than ten years. The launch from the docks to the water of the underwater rocket-carrier happened at the end of June 2002, at the sea tests began last year. According to open-source facts, the ï¿½Akulaï¿½ was designed at TsKB [Central Design Bureau] for marine engineering ï¿½Rubinï¿½ (Saint Petersburg). From 1977 to 1989 six of the submarine were built at Sevmash with a length of 175 meters and a width of 22.8 meters, and a water-displacement up to 33.8 thousand tons. They are armed with 20 ballistic missile launchers. Currently there are only two ï¿½Akulasï¿½ in-commission ï¿½ the ï¿½Severstalï¿½ and the ï¿½Arkhanrelskï¿½. One is being decommissioned at Sevmash now, two more have been written off and will soon also be cut up for scrap metal. It is expected that the ï¿½Dmitry Donskoiï¿½ will return to military service in the Northern Fleet this year.
2. Moscow To Host Conference Of Russian Academy Of Missile And Artillery Sciences
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MOSCOW, April 14 (RIA Novosti) - On Thursday, Moscow will host the 5th conference of the Russian Academy of Missile and Artillery Sciences, the press service of the Russian Defense Ministry reported.
"The goal of the conference is to discuss issues, directions and methods of military and scientific substantiation of prospects for the development of Russia's armament system," the press service says.
The conference will also focus on military and political, economic, scientific and technical and technological aspects. It will outline the main ways to upgrade armament, increase defense security of the state, the press service stresses.
"Heads and representatives of federal legislative and executive bodies, of the Russian Security Council, power departments, heads of defense industry enterprises, heads of main and central departments of the Russian Defense Ministry will participate in the conference," the press service underlines.
Spokesmen for the General Staff of the Russian Federation Armed Forces, the Russian Security Council and different ministries elaborating the state armament program, heads of research centers under the Russian Defense Ministry and defense industry enterprises will speak at the conference.
Russian Deputy Defense Minister, Head of RF Armed Forces Armament Department Colonel General Alexei Moskovski will lead the conference.
2. Russian Nuclear Power Sector May Need $47 Bln By 2020
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MOSCOW. April 14 (Interfax) - Russia's nuclear power industry could need 1.5 trillion rubles ($47 billion) in investments between 2003 and 2020 under an optimistic development scenario, and 1.1 trillion rubles ($35 billion) for moderate development.
Russia's nuclear industry will be developing mainly due to the construction of increased capacity units of the VVER-1500 type, regular BN-600 units, and by developing low-capacity nuclear plants, such as floating types, Rosenergoatom's Deputy General Director Mikhail Rogov told a meeting of the Federation Council's defense and security committee on Tuesday.
3. Russian Atomic Energy Industry Needs Larger Investments
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MOSCOW, April 13 (Itar-Tass) -- Investments in the atomic energy industry should at least double for meeting the industryï¿½s ambitious tasks, General Director of the Rosenergoatom Russian Atomic Energy Concern Mikhail Rogov said at a Tuesday session of the Federation Councilï¿½s Defense and Security Committee.
He said the current rates of investments in the atomic energy industry slowed down the industryï¿½s development and were enough for generating only 200 billion kilowatt/hours of electricity a year by 2010 instead of 300 billions planned.
It is necessary to invest 7 billion rubles a year in the construction of new units of Russian nuclear power plants and the modernization of existent nuclear power plant units for increasing the output of nuclear power plants to 230 billion kilowatt/hours a year, Rogov said. Yet only 3.5 billion rubles a year have been invested in Russian nuclear power plants since 2000, he said.
The atomic energy industry is the most dynamic economic branch. The output of nuclear power plants has increased by 40% over the past five years. The average growth rates made 7.5% a year.
Last year Russian nuclear power plants generated 148.6 billion kilowatt/hours of electricity. The year-to-year growth made 8.8 billion kilowatt/hours or 6.3%.
1. Department Refocuses Threat Reduction Efforts to Return Nuclear Research Reactor Fuel
Department of Energy
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Will consolidate the Department of Energyï¿½s threat reduction efforts
WASHINGTON, D.C. ï¿½ Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham today announced the latest effort by the Department of Energy to address the worldwide threat posed by nuclear and radiological materials. The Secretary has directed the Departmentï¿½s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to consolidate the U.S. Foreign Research Reactor Spent Nuclear Fuel (FRR SNF) Acceptance Program within its nonproliferation mission. This decision is intended to accelerate and strengthen the Departmentï¿½s efforts to return weapons-usable nuclear materials of U.S.-origin back to the United States.
In his February 11 speech, the President stated that ï¿½We will help nations end the use of weapons-grade uranium in research reactors.ï¿½ The FRR SNF Acceptance program, along with NNSAï¿½s complementary programs to repatriate Russian-origin research reactor fuel, and to convert foreign and domestic research reactors from the use of high-enriched uranium (HEU) to low-enriched uranium (LEU) through the development of new LEU fuels, directly support and implement this part of the Presidentï¿½s nonproliferation agenda.
ï¿½This effort will bring together, under one organization with a proven track record in nonproliferation, the Department of Energyï¿½s U.S. and Russian fuel return efforts,ï¿½ said Secretary Abraham. ï¿½This consolidation will refocus and strengthen our international campaign to deny terrorists opportunities to seize nuclear materials and will also increase our effectiveness in achieving the reduction and eventual elimination of the use of weapons-usable materials in civil commerce worldwide.
ï¿½I have instructed the NNSA to develop a threat-based prioritization for materials to be shipped under the Acceptance program; work closely with the Department of State to restructure the current diplomatic strategy in order to encourage full participation in the program; and pursue all efforts to accelerate the timeline and number of shipments of this material back to the United States. I have also instructed the appropriate offices within the Department to initiate actions necessary to extend the U.S. FRR SNF Acceptance Programï¿½s fuel acceptance deadline, which will allow us to complete our work to return this U.S.-origin research reactor spent nuclear fuel.ï¿½
This is just the latest step in the Departmentï¿½s efforts to address the global threat posed by dangerous nuclear and radiological materials. In November 2003, the Secretary established the Nuclear Radiological Threat Reduction Task Force to address the threat posed by high-risk radiological materials, both international and domestic, that could be used in a so-called ï¿½dirty bomb.ï¿½ The Secretary has also directed the Department to develop a comprehensive approach to reducing the threat worldwide of high-risk and proliferation-attractive materials.
The Department will assess the funding requirements to accelerate the overall mission of the FRR SNF Acceptance program and will take all appropriate actions to ensure such funds are secured.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Daily News Bulletin
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A regular round of consultations between First Deputy Ministers of Foreign Affairs Vyacheslav Trubnikov of the Russian Federation and Mohsen Aminzade of the Islamic Republic of Iran was held on April 13 at the Russian MFA on the struggle against international terrorism and on the questions of regional security.
Discussions focused on the questions of further development of Russian-Iranian relations and the expansion of interaction between the two states in countering the present-day threats to international and regional security.
A key problem of global security remains the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The sides noted the important role of the IAEA in strengthening all the aspects of the nonproliferation regime and in assisting the development of international cooperation in the field of peaceful utilization of atomic energy.
Trubnikov and Aminzade noted with concern that, far from giving up its positions, international terrorism is expanding the geography of its actions and is attempting to reach with its deadly sting societies that have hoped to remain aloof from a direct contact with this evil. In this connection they underscored the necessity of shaping under the aegis of the UN and on a solid foundation of international law a global system for counteraction against terrorism and the related new challenges and threats.
An exchange of views on the process of the post-transitional reconstruction of Afghanistan took place. The sides gave a positive assessment to the outcome of the Berlin Conference on Afghanistan, and expressed support for the decision of the Afghan Transitional Administration to simultaneously hold presidential and parliamentary elections in the country in September 2004. They also spoke for increasing the coordination of international and national efforts in the combating of the Afghan threat of drugs.
In view of the sharp aggravation of the situation in Iraq Trubnikov and Aminzade noted with concern that its further development in such a direction is fraught with the most dangerous consequences for the integrity of Iraq and throws the prospects for its revival as a peaceful, integral and democratic state into jeopardy. The alarming state of affairs demands, in the sides' opinion, a response of the international community, with the UN playing a coordinating role, in terms of rendering assistance to the Iraqi people in tackling the problems of the post-crisis reconstruction of the country.
Certain aspects of the situation in Transcaucasia and Central Asia were also touched upon during the consultations.
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