1. Putin Shifts Bureaucracy Again; Atomic Energy Agency to Gain Status
Global Security Newswire
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WASHINGTON ï¿½ Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday transferred the governmental agency responsible for overseeing Russiaï¿½s nuclear efforts from the newly created Industry and Energy Ministry to the prime ministerï¿½s office, according to the Russian-American Nuclear Security Advisory Council (see GSN, May 20).
Putin in March initiated a massive government restructuring project, which resulted in the dissolution of about half of Russiaï¿½s Cabinet-level ministries. Among the ministries affected was the Atomic Energy Ministry, which was transformed into the Federal Atomic Energy Agency and placed under the auspices of a new Industry and Energy Ministry. The agency, headed by former Atomic Energy Minister Alexander Rumyantsev, has broad oversight of both Russiaï¿½s civilian and military nuclear programs.
In a decree signed yesterday, though, Putin transferred the atomic energy agency to the direct supervision of the Russian government. According to RANSAC, the change would probably result in the agency reporting directly to Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkovï¿½s office.
Many of operational details of the agencyï¿½s new place within the Russian government remain unclear.
The transfer represents a ï¿½very important correction,ï¿½ Rose Gottemoeller of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace told Global Security Newswire. She said today that the agency might have lacked necessary authority to negotiate international agreements, such as those related to nonproliferation, had it remained within the Industry and Energy Ministry.
The transfer also represents ï¿½a great victoryï¿½ for Rumyantsev himself, as he is likely to receive greater authority through the move, Gottemoeller added.
Yesterdayï¿½s decree also again transfers within the government the Federal Service for Atomic Inspection, which monitors security at Russian nuclear facilities and research reactors and oversees the accounting, control and physical protection of nuclear materials. Under the new structure, the inspection service has moved from the Industry and Energy Ministry to be combined with the Federal Service for Technological Oversight to create the new Federal Service for Ecological, Technological and Atomic Inspection. This new service would also report directly to the prime ministerï¿½s office, according to RANSAC.
According to RANSAC, the new Federal Industry Ministry, which assumed responsibility for Russiaï¿½s biological and chemical weapons destruction efforts upon the elimination of the Russian Munitions Agency, would remain within the Industry and Energy Ministry. Experts have said that the appointment of former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Alyoshin to head the industry agency could increase its prominence within the ministry.
Tacked onto the defense authorization bill is an amendment approved by the Senate that prompts this reaction: You mean the US isn't doing this already?
It's hard to believe, but, despite September 11, neither the US nor the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has a comprehensive database that tracks the world's highly enriched uranium, nor a complete assessment of the security and terrorist threat that this and other fissile material pose.
Highly enriched uranium is the easiest material to use to construct an atomic bomb. Particularly vulnerable are the roughly 135 research nuclear reactors - reactors not used for power generation but for materials testing, research, and medicine - still operating with highly enriched uranium in more than 40 countries.
At many of these reactors, which sprang up in places like Vietnam and Ghana as part of the cold war export of the nuclear age, security is lax - nothing more than a guard and fence. Most sites don't have enough material for one bomb, but even at sites that do, security needs to be improved.
Dozens of US and international databases track pieces of this picture, and various programs have been established to assist in securing the material. In recent years, fissile material has been successfully removed from Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, and Libya.
A bipartisan amendment passed by the Senate last week tasks the Department of Energy with compiling a comprehensive view of the problem and prioritizing the most urgent cases, and granting the department the authority to accelerate and coordinate the security and/or removal of such material.
The president reportedly backs the amendment, which would fill a gaping hole in nuclear security. The sooner it becomes law, the better.
1. Russian Scientist Dies in Ebola Accident at Former Weapons Lab
New York Times
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A Russian scientist at a former Soviet biological weapons laboratory in Siberia has died after accidentally sticking herself with a needle laced with ebola, the deadly virus for which there is no vaccine or treatment, the lab's parent Russian center announced over the weekend.
Scientists and officials said the accident had raised concerns about safety and secrecy at the State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology, known as Vector, which in Soviet times specialized in turning deadly viruses into biological weapons. Vector has been a leading recipient of aid in an American program to help former Soviet scientists and labs convert to peaceful research.
Although the accident occurred May 5, Vector did not report it to the World Health Organization until last week. Scientists said that although Vector had isolated the scientist to contain any potential spread of the disease and there was no requirement that accidents involving ebola be reported, the delay meant that scientists at the health agency could not provide prompt advice on treatment that might have saved her life.
The first public mention of the accident was over the weekend on Pro-Med, the informal Internet reporting and discussion network of doctors and other health care professionals, which posted the Vector account of the laboratory accident on its Web site (www.promedmail.org).
American experts said the accident had not occurred in a lab now receiving United States government or private money for research.
While officials at Vector said the scientist, Antonina Presnyakova, was working on an ebola vaccine, they have declined to identify who was financing the research or discuss its specific nature.
Terry Fredeking, the president and founder of Antibody Systems, a Texas-based company, said that while his company had spent more than $150,000 in the last five years on joint research on ebola at Vector, the accident did not involve research he was financing. "It's sad and somewhat frightening," said Mr. Fredeking, "that Vector didn't inform the W.H.O. or even its own lab directors that the accident had occurred in time for us to offer help."
Ronald Atlas, a biodefense expert at a center at the University of Louisville, in Kentucky, said that while it was important to work on vaccines to protect against deadly viruses, the accident showed the danger. "It shows we must be careful about what we are doing, as well as where and with whom we are doing it," said Dr. Atlas, in an interview here at the American Society for Microbiology's annual meeting.
An American scientist was involved in a similar accident with ebola at the Army's leading biodefense lab at Fort Detrick, Md., several months ago. But she did not contract the disease. The lab disclosed the accident within 48 hours, officials said.
Vector is also one of two repositories of the deadly smallpox virus - the other is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Since the Soviet Union collapsed, the United States has spent millions of dollars to help convert such places to peaceful research, including an estimated $10 million at Vector.
Critics of the program have opposed expanding such aid because it is hard to verify whether former Soviet scientists are using the American-supported research for peaceful purposes. But the program's defenders say it keeps scientists employed on peaceful projects and prevents them from working for anti-American states or terrorists seeking biological weapons.
2. Experts Debate Efficiency of US Biosafety Effort
Voice of America
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A congressionally appointed committee looking into the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, which killed almost 3,000 people, is expected to issue a report this summer. In the wake of the attack, fears of other kinds of terrorism began to rise, including attacks by terrorists using biological weapons.
In response to these fears, the U.S. government funded a number of extremely highly secure laboratories to handle the world's deadliest pathogens. While biodefense officials say the facilities are necessary to protect Americans, one critic says the highest containment labs pose a terrorist danger in and of themselves.
About a month after the al-Qaida attacks, someone sent anthrax spores through the U.S. mail, killing five people. The person who did this has never been caught.
Shortly after this incident, the U.S. National Institutes of Health awarded Boston University and the University of Texas $120 million each to establish maximum-security containment facilities to study the deadliest pathogens and nerve agents known to man.
Among other things, the labs are developing rapid identification mechanisms, ways to treat individuals who have been exposed to agents such as smallpox and sarin gas, and vaccines.
The anthrax placed inside the envelopes was traced to a biosafety laboratory, with top-level security, in Fort Detrich, Maryland.
Everyone agrees that whoever was responsible for the deadly attack knew what they were doing. What's debated is whether it was done by a disgruntled scientist inside the laboratory.
Biosafety expert CJ Peters says, ï¿½I don't think anybody knows who disseminated the anthrax,ï¿½ Mr. Peters said. ï¿½If it was somebody from Fort Detrich and we knew it, why isn't somebody in jail?ï¿½
Mr. Peters is director of the Center for Biodefense and Emerging Diseases at the University of Texas in Galveston, one of the two schools that received money to fund biosafety facilities.
Though Mr. Peters is dismayed that the Fort Detrich laboratory was implicated in the attack. He firmly believes in the need for biosafety laboratories. That view is not shared by all experts, like Louise Richardson, in the fight against terrorism.
ï¿½This money is not well spent if the purpose is to protect us against a terrorist attack,ï¿½ he said.
International terrorism expert Louise Richardson of Radcliffe University in Massachusetts does not believe biosafety facilities make Americans safer.
ï¿½By creating these labs, we are in fact significantly increasing the number of people who would be competent to deploy these weapons,ï¿½ he said. ï¿½The one experience we do have in this country, which is the anthrax attack, did in fact emanate from one of these biosafety labs. So I am suggesting that by actually increasing the number of people competent in their use, we are increasing the probability that there will be people sympathetic to terrorist organizations. So we might be increasing the threat in that respect.ï¿½
In an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, Professor Richardson says terrorists have typically gone after soft targets - using crude weapons against people and places that are hard to pin down - because chemical and biological weapons are hard to achieve.
She points to the only other case, besides anthrax, of a bioterror attack, in which a Japanese cult, Aum Shinrikyo, killed 12 people in a sarin gas assault in 1995. They did that after years of trying to create a biological weapon with no success, and turned to an easier chemical weapon.
In Professor Richardson's view, the money spent on U.S. biosafety facilities should be redirected toward eliminating existing nuclear, biological and chemical stockpiles under a joint U.S.-Russian program called Cooperative Threat Reduction.
ï¿½What we should be doing is dealing with the existing supplies of these deadly weapons in the former Soviet Union,ï¿½ said Mr. Richardson. ï¿½We know they exist. We have a largely underfunded program for their elimination. And I think the money would be better spent addressing the stockpiles we know to exist rather than creating new ones.ï¿½
Dr. Peters agrees that more ought to be done to secure weapons in the former Soviet Union, but he bristles at the notion that the money that funds the secure U.S. biosecurity labs ought to be redirected to Cold War stockpiles.
ï¿½I don't like this argument of you should do this, instead of that,ï¿½ Dr. Peters said. ï¿½What's worth doing? I mean I could make the argument that the money that's spent to fund the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study in Cambridge, Massachusetts should be used to go into this Cooperative Threat Reduction program. I mean I don't think we should get into this game. The question is, what's worthwhile?ï¿½
The U.S. government has poured almost $2 billion into biodefense since September 11, 2001.
Biosafety officials say the money is needed to build containment labs to handle the deadliest agents known to man - agents that could be in the hands of enemies outside, or inside, the United States.
A new public security police squad for Kola NPP protection will be soon established in Murmansk region.
Murmansk region governor Yury Yevdokimov signed the appropriate order. The squad will consist of 13 policemen, who will be responcible for the control of the roads and the territory in the so-called sanitary protection zone around Kola nuclear plant. According to murman.ru, the purpose of the new squad will be prevention of terrorist activities as the Kola NPP is the most potentially dangerous site amongst all the civil sites in the region. Local budget will finance the new security squad.
1. Report Urges Tighter Nuclear Controls - White House Not Doing Enough to Secure Weapons Materials, Analysts Say
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Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. wondered aloud one day in 2002 whether someone could build an atomic weapon from parts available on the open market. His audience, the leaders of the government's nuclear laboratories, said it could be done.
Then do it, the Delaware Democrat, then chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, instructed the scientists in a confidential session. A few months later, they returned to the soundproof Senate meeting room with a workable nuclear weapon, missing only the fissile material.
"It was bigger than a breadbox and smaller than a dump truck, but they were able to get it in," Biden said in a recent speech. The scientists "explained how -- literally off the shelf, without doing anything illegal -- they actually constructed this device."
The relative ease with which U.S. scientists built an explosive nuclear weapon illustrates the need to secure plutonium and highly enriched uranium scattered in armories and research sites around the world, a pair of Harvard University researchers argue in a new study that contends the Bush administration is not doing enough.
Less fissile material was secured in the two years after Sept. 11, 2001, than in the two years just before, according to the Harvard report, which was obtained by The Washington Post. Half the equipment dispatched to Russia nearly four years ago as a fast, interim solution remains in warehouses, uninstalled because of bureaucratic disputes.
Calling it a "dangerous myth" that terrorists could acquire a nuclear weapon only with the help of a rogue state, authors Matthew Bunn and Anthony Wier use the Biden example to allege that a failure of U.S. commitment and leadership could lead to a nuclear calamity. They also warn that, in an unstable country, a nuclear weapon could be bought or stolen.
"What's missing is a sense of urgency," said former senator Sam Nunn (D-Ga.), who heads the nonprofit Nuclear Threat Initiative, which funded the 111-page study. Nunn believes President Bush must focus on removing bureaucratic hurdles and work more pointedly with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"If one of the great cities of the world goes up in smoke, and you look back on these obstacles, it will make our retroactive rear-view mirror look at September 11th look like a waltz," Nunn said yesterday in an interview. "It would be so obvious that the obstacles should have been overcome by the presidents."
Bunn and Wier credit the Bush administration, particularly the leadership of the Department of Energy, for making strides. But they write that the U.S. commitment is no match for the danger. As they put it, U.S. authorities are not meeting Bush's own pledge to "do all we can."
In one case, plans were announced six years ago to destroy 68 metric tons of plutonium stripped from bombs and warheads in the United States and Russia, but the project remains stalled because of a dispute over who would pay if an accident or sabotage occurred in Russia. Sen. Pete V. Domenici (R-N.M.) has blamed "trivial negotiating issues."
In another example, the administration on average has requested less money to control nuclear materials and technology than was sought in the final Clinton administration budget, adjusted for inflation.
Although 16 percent more money has been spent than if the Clinton numbers had continued, "essentially all" of the increase was injected by congressional initiative, write Bunn and Wier, who reviewed federal spending on nonproliferation as an analyst at the Office of Management and Budget.
They report that the United States has taken more effective action than any other country, spending $9.2 billion from 1992 to 2004 to dismantle and secure weapons of mass destruction. Yet they note that the Defense Department is seeking $9.2 billion in the 2005 budget year alone to build a largely unproven defense system against a small number of missiles in a corner of the United States.
"It's very easy in the standard political debate for them to point to the successes and not put them in the context of how small they are, and not showing what they have not yet done," Bunn said in an interview. "The president has an opportunity to take action now that would drastically reduce the danger of nuclear terrorism in a few years."
The Bush administration is preparing to announce an expanded effort to secure nuclear stockpiles and supplies of bomb-grade material, officials have said. In a Feb. 11 speech, Bush promised a series of strong steps to curtail the production and spread of fissile material that could be used in a nuclear explosive or scattered in a radiological device called a "dirty bomb."
Basic security improvements have not been made at dozens of facilities in Russia, where more than 60 percent of the country's plutonium and weapons-grade uranium is kept, the General Accounting Office has warned. In a more recent report, the GAO said U.S. government facilities are also vulnerable to an increased risk of terrorism.
Despite improvements in Russia, Bunn and Wier report that visitors continue to see broken detectors, decaying fences, vulnerable seals and paper records never designed for careful monitoring. They also note that fissile material exists in "hundreds of buildings in more than 40 countries."
Evaluating an extreme case, they point to Pakistan, which has perfected nuclear weapons, as a potential target of terrorists with potent weapons and political connections.
Bunn and Wier, analysts at the Project on Managing the Atom, challenge the argument that the danger of terrorists assembling a bomb and acquiring fissile material is small, unless sponsored by a nuclear-capable government.
"We believe that this view is profoundly wrong," the authors write. They contend that the availability of nuclear designs and the work of U.S. weapons scientists in the Biden experiment prove their point.
2. U.S. House Approves White House CTR Funding Request
Global Security Newswire
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WASHINGTON ï¿½ The U.S. House of Representatives yesterday approved a Bush administration request for more than $400 million in the coming fiscal year for a U.S. Defense Department effort to help secure and eliminate weapons of mass destruction in the former Soviet Union (see GSN, Feb. 11).
The House voted 391-34 in favor of the fiscal 2005 defense authorization bill, which contains full funding for the administrationï¿½s $409.2 million request for the Cooperative Threat Reduction program, also known as the Nunn-Lugar program after its architects ï¿½ Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) and former Senator Sam Nunn (D-Ga.). The administrationï¿½s fiscal 2005 request was $41.6 million less than the programï¿½s current funding level of $450.8 million
The House version of the bill also contains a provision granting the president authority for one year to waive conditions set by Congress on providing CTR funding for chemical weapons disposal efforts in Russia, according to a Lugar press release. Such funding is set to be used to aid construction of a chemical weapons disposal facility near the city of Shchuchye.
The U.S. Senate this week has debated its own version of the defense authorization bill, which also fully funds the White House CTR request. The Senate version of the bill, however, would grant the president a permanent CTR authority to waive conditions such as the requirement that Russia detail its full chemical weapons holdings. A Lugar spokesman told Global Security Newswire today that the issue of the waiver authorities is not likely to be one of ï¿½top contentionï¿½ when the House and Senate work to resolve the bills.
Meanwhile, Lugarï¿½s office announced yesterday the progress the CTR program has made in recent months in reducing the number of former Soviet weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems. In the last two months, the CTR program has:
* removed 100 nuclear warheads from Russian missile systems;
* destroyed 15 SS-18 Satan missiles and eight related missile silos (see GSN, Dec. 18, 2003);
* destroyed six Backfire strategic bombers in Ukraine (see GSN, Sept. 30, 2003);
* destroyed 84 AS-4/Kh-22 long-range, nuclear-capable air-launched cruise missiles that were carried by Bear and Blackjack bombers (see GSN, Jan. 31);
* destroyed a total of 51 SS-N-23, SS-N-20, and SS-N-18 Russian submarine-launched ballistic missiles; and
* destroyed four SS-24 mobile ICBM launchers (see GSN, Feb. 11).
In addition, a number of CTR-funded efforts are still being conducted in Russia and Ukraine, according to Lugarï¿½s office, including the dismantlement of a second Russian Typhoon-class submarine, the dismantlement of Russian SS-18 and SS-24 ballistic missiles; and the elimination of the entire Soviet-era Backfire bomber fleet remaining in Ukraine.
1. What Can Russia Expect From the June G8 Summit? (excerpted)
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Another crucial problem that will be certainly discussed at the summit is the threat of WMD proliferation, which is becoming especially alarming in view of the strengthening of terrorist organisations. Russia and the West largely agree on this issue, but there are some details that may set them apart. One of them is Russia-Iran nuclear co-operation and the persistent desire of the US to involve Russia in its Proliferation Security Initiative, designed to strengthen export controls over chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. Russia is the only G8 state that has not joined the initiative so far.
Russia's caution is logical. The US views Iran and North Korea as the main threats. Russia thinks the situation in Iran can be controlled by IAEA mechanisms, especially after Iran joined the 1997 protocol on surprise nuclear inspections. As for the nuclear programmes of Iran and North Korea, Russia is categorically against helping them acquire nuclear weapons, especially since this would increase the probability of terrorists acquiring nuclear weapons and their components and could eventually destroy the system of nuclear arms control.
However, it would be inadmissible to reduce the problem of nuclear proliferation to the acquisition of such weapons by Iran and North Korea. The nuclear weapons threats can be divided into two blocks. First, the level of threat depends on who owns the weapons and the owner's awareness of his responsibility. And the second is the fact of existence of nuclear arms. The Americans spotlight the first block, striving to prevent nuclear weapons from falling into the hands of "bad boys."
This must not happen, of course, but we should also remember that the logic of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty is based on the voluntary pledge of the signatories not to own nuclear weapons. Under Article VI of the treaty, the five nuclear powers agreed that complete elimination of nuclear weapons is the best guarantee against their proliferation. These states confirmed their resolve to liquidate their nuclear arsenals in May 2000. In other words, nuclear weapons are a threat because they exist. However, at present the nuclear powers cannot harmonise a joint strategy for the liquidation and prohibition of nuclear weapons.
2. Defense Ministers of Russia, 4 Nordic Countries to Meet in St Petersburg
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Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov will discuss connection between NATO eastward expansion and the sped-up adoption of the adapted Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) with his counterparts of the four Nordic countries in St. Petersburg, a source in the Russian Defense Ministry told RIA Novosti.
"Two Nordic countries, Denmark and Norway, are members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Therefore, the Russian side will use the opportunity to raise the question of the earliest inking of the adapted FCE treaty in the context of the new NATO eastward expansion of the NATO infrastructures to the east", the source said.
He also specified that the defense ministers of Russia, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland will discuss regional security, the consolidation of trust in the military sphere and the development of bilateral and multilateral cooperation.
They will also consider non-proliferation weapons of mass destruction, fight against international terrorism and ecological security in the region.
The two-day international forum will open on May 24 with a meeting of the defense ministers of Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland. After that, full-format talks will begin in the Konstantin Palace. The previous meeting of the Russian and Nordic Four defense ministers was took place in Visby in Sweden last May. Now the Russian side will make a report on possible ways of cooperation between Russia, the European Union and NATO within the framework of military development in the peacemaking sphere, the source said.
On Saturday night Sergei Ivanov will arrive in St. Petersburg, which is marking the 300th birthday of the naval fortress and the Baltic fleet base in Kronstadt. His meeting with the North European defense ministers will begin on Monday.
Iran will sign a deal soon with Russia obliging it to return spent fuel from a new nuclear reactor to Moscow, a Russian official said, in a move intended to ease U.S. fears the material could be used to make bombs.
Russia has faced down U.S. opposition to its construction of Iran's $800 million reactor at Bushehr, but it has insisted on the spent fuel deal to alleviate U.S. concerns that Iranian scientists could extract plutonium from spent fuel and potentially use it in warheads.
Alexander Rumyantsev, head of Russia's Atomic Energy Agency, said Tuesday Moscow and Tehran would sign the document during a visit to Iran this summer, ending years of tricky talks.
"During this trip we plan to sign an additional protocol on the return of spent nuclear fuel to Russia for storage and processing," Itar-Tass news agency quoted Rumyantsev as saying.
The document must be signed before the end of the summer for Bushehr's first 1,000-megawatt reactor to go oneam in 2005. The plant was originally supposed to start up in 2003.
Washington has branded Iran part of an "axis of evil" of states seeking illegal arms and also fears Iran would use Bushehr as a cover for the transfer of other sensitive nuclear technology.
Russia says Iran could not produce a nuclear bomb, even using Moscow's nuclear technology.
Iran, which sits on the world's second largest gas reserves after Russia, also denies the U.S. allegations. It says it needs nuclear energy to meet booming demand for electricity and keep oil and gas reserves for export.
Once the protocol is signed, Russia will ship fuel to Iran to start up the reactor. Spent fuel will be sent back to a giant storage facility in Siberia after roughly a decade of use.
Western diplomats in Moscow say that decade would enable Iran to acquire the necessary technology to make bombs. Russia says this is highly unlikely and much longer would be required under any circumstances.
An official from a nuclear fuel plant in Siberia was quoted as saying that up to 168 nuclear fuel units would be immediately dispatched to Bushehr after the signing to start up the reactor. A further 43 would be shipped each year thereafter to keep it going.
Signature of the document has been delayed repeatedly, with industry insiders saying disagreement over technical matters and the row with the United States nearly prompted both sides to abandon the project this year.
Rumyantsev told Tass only that delays were linked to "failure to fulfil certain contract obligations by some Russian and Iranian firms." He did not elaborate.
International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Mohammed ElBaradei will visit Moscow at the end of June, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a report released on Monday.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Yury Fedotov met with ElBaradei in Vienna on May 24.
That was the latest of the regular meetings at which Russian and IAEA officials discuss a broad range of issues of mutual interest.
The two men discussed the Iranian "nuclear folder." They agreed that the removal of nuclear materials from Iran and the disposal of installations where these materials were handled must be carried out under international supervision involving the IAEA in line with related UN Security Council resolutions.
Fedotov praised the efforts made by the IAEA and ElBaradei personally in handling these and other important issues in nuclear nonproliferation.
3. Iranian Security Council Secretary on Iran's Desire to Develop Cooperation with Russia
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Hasan Rouhani, secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran, has voiced the desire of Teheran to develop all-round cooperation with Russia. The Council's press service told RIA Novosti on Monday that, at a meeting with Russian ambassador to Iran Alexander Maryasov, Rouhani stressed that "the development and strengthening of Russian-Iranian interaction is guarantor for the ensurance of the sides' mutual interests and regional stability".
Rouhani noted the openness and transparency of cooperation between Teheran and the International Atomic Energy Agency and said that "we not only truly, openly and in full volume cooperate with the Agency but have even gone ahead of the programmes it has outlined. We have prepared and handed over a comprehensive report on the Iranian nuclear programmes a month before time".
"The people of Iran treat with understanding the IAEA measures and, if at the coming sitting of the Agency's Board of Governors set for June in Vienna, the Islamic Republic feels that political pressure predominates over the legal and technical framework, an atmosphere of mistrust in the international agreements between Iran and the IAEA will indubitably be created", Rouhani said.
"Teheran has fulfilled all the requirements, broadened the framework of interaction and now expects a due answer from the Board of Governors at the coming sitting", he said.
"The closure of the 'Iranian dossier' can pave a better ground for cooperation between Iran and the Agency, strengthen Teheran's positive view on the additional protocol to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, signed last December", Rouhani said.
In this connection, he asked Russia as a friendly state for close cooperation with Iran at the future sitting of the IAEA Board of Governors.
As regards the Iraqi problem, Rouhani noted that "the inability of the troops of occupation to ensure security in that country, violation of all the international norms and rules especially with regard to the Iraqis in prison, barbarous tortures which are at least unprecedented in the world, desecration of Muslim shrines have led to the worsening of the crisis in Iraq. The hate of the Iraqi nation to the invaders is growing with every day".
"Americans announced the end of war a year ago. Today they use, unfortunately, missiles, warplanes, helicopters, tanks against the innocent people", Rouhani stressed.
He is convinced that "an undelayed withdrawal of the troops of occupation from Iraq and the passing of power to people are the only way to resolve the problems of Iraq".
In turn, Maryasov noted an increasing level of Russian-Iranian economic and political cooperation in recent years.
The head of the Russian diplomatic mission declared Russia's readiness to back the peaceful orientation of the Iranian nuclear programmes and restrain the politisation of the "Iranian dossier".
Maryasov recalled the Russian initiative to convene an international conference with the participation of representatives of the people of Iran, its neighbours, members of the United Nations Security Council, Organisation of the Islamic Conference and the interested parties for resolving the problems of the Iraqi nation.
The sides also considered Russian-Iranian cooperation in the field of nuclear power engineering.
4. Bush Administration's Pronouncements about IAEA Report on Iran Leave Russia Bewildered
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The Russian government is bewildered by U.S. Undersecretary of State John Bolton's pronouncements about presenting the International Atomic Energy Agency's report on Iran to other members of the United Nations Security Council, the Foreign Ministry's PR department says in a press release.
News agencies quote Bolton as saying that the United States and Russia both deem it expedient for the IAEA to present its report on Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program to the UN Security Council.
Iran was indeed prominent on the May 20 U.S.-Russian consultations, but Iran-related issues were discussed in the context of preparations for the IAEA governing board's June session, the Foreign Ministry points out in the press release.
"We are looking forward to the appearance of IAEA Director-General Mohammed El Baradei's next report about progress in the implementation of the Board of Governors' resolutions aimed at ensuring transparency of Iran's nuclear program," the ministry says. "We expect the report to contain an objective analysis of how cooperation between Iran and the IAEA is going. We also hope for a competent and unbiased review of matters in the implementation of resolutions on the part of the IAEA Board of Governors." "No understandings were reached by us and the U.S. delegation as to the IAEA turning to the UN Security Council since this issue was not even brought up at the consultations," the Russian Foreign Ministry explained.
"As to the settlement of outstanding issues on the transparency of the Iranian program, we have believed and continue to believe that this can and must be done through the closest possible cooperation between Iran and the IAEA."
1. Russia Should Develop Missile Defenses, Former U.S. Defense Secretary Cohen Says
Global Security Newswire
(for personal use only)
Former U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen has called on Russia to develop a national missile defense system similar to that being developed by the United States, ITAR-Tass reported today (see GSN, May 14).
ï¿½It is in Russiaï¿½s interestsï¿½ to develop a missile defense system, Cohen said. ï¿½I hope we shall try to further cooperate in mutually beneficial defense programs,ï¿½ he added (ITAR-Tass/BBC Worldwide Monitoring, May 21).
Navy chief Vladimir Kuroyedov has ordered the decommissioning of an entire class of strategic nuclear submarines despite proposals to modernize their armament systems after at least two failed missile launches, a senior commander said Monday.
"One could say that we have decommissioned an entire series of submarines ... that could have continued to serve [the Navy]," said Admiral Gennady Suchkov, who was recently suspended from his post as the head of the Navy's Northern Fleet, Interfax reported.
At issue are the huge Akula-class submarines, which Suchkov described as the Navy's "most powerful" vessels.
Kuroyedov ordered the decommissioning after the abortive launches of ballistic missiles from Northern Fleet submarines during a strategic war game earlier this year, Suchkov said in a separate interview published in Novaya Gazeta on Monday.
The Navy command was swift to deny the allegations by Suchkov, who has engaged in a mudslinging fight with Kuroyedov after his suspension over the sinking of a decommissioned diesel submarine last August, which killed nine.
Navy spokesman Igor Dygalo said the Akula class "will continue to exist as it has existed, fulfilling the entire range of goals it has been tasked with," Interfax reported.
Dygalo went on to accuse Suchkov of divulging state secrets about the armaments of Akula submarines, which have a displacement of some 25,000 tons and are armed with 20 intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Suchkov told Novaya Gazeta that Kuroyedov issued an order on April 29 to decommission the Akula class after the launch failures in February. The Novomoskovsk submarine failed to launch an RSM-54 missile in the Barents Sea on Feb. 17. Then on Feb. 18, a similar missile was destroyed in flight after veering off the planned trajectory shortly after launch from the Karelia submarine. The failures were caused by a faulty navigation system in one case and a glitch in the control system in another, Kommersant reported earlier this year.
The Novomoskovsk and the Karelia belong to the Delfin class, however, and are armed with RSM-52 sea-launched ballistic missiles.
It was unclear Monday how the abortive launches of RSM-54s from Delfin-class submarines could have prompted Kuroyedov to order the decommissioning of a different class of submarines armed with different missiles.
Ivan Safranchuk, head of the Moscow office of the Washington-based Center for Defense Information, said Suchkov's attempt to link the decommissioning of Akula submarines with the abortive launches of a different type of missile from Delfin submarines "appears to be illogical." "It is like revoking Ladas over a glitch found in the Chevrolet Niva," Safranchuk said.
He noted that the Navy has been retiring Akula submarines for some time, even though many of them have not reached the end of their service lives.
Suchkov told Novaya Gazeta that he had proposed to Kuroyedov that the RSM-52 missiles undergo "technical works" costing 31 million rubles (just over $1 million) to fix glitches, but Kuroyedov had refused.
Suchkov told Interfax that the production of RSM-52s has stopped, leading to the demise of the fleet's 18th division, which consisted of the Arkhanglesk, Severstal and Dmitry Donskoi Akula-class submarines. Of the trio, only the Severstal still has missiles on board, he said. President Vladimir Putin was on board of the Arkhangelsk in the Barents Sea when the Novomoskovsk failed to launch the missile.
As for the Dmitry Donskoi, it is being upgraded to accommodate a new type of sea-launched ballistic missiles, which have yet to undergo launch tests from a submerged submarine, Suchkov said. Without completing all the tests, the missiles cannot be commissioned to enter serial production.
Suchkov told Novaya Gazeta that he has written a letter to President Vladimir Putin to voice his concerns over the Akula submarines.
Igor Kurdin, chairman of the St. Petersburg Club of Submariners, said he was puzzled over why Suchkov would speak out about the submarines but said he had no reason not to believe him. "Something strange is going on. These submarines are indeed unique, and I do not understand how this decision could have been made, but I have no reason not to trust Suchkov or to doubt his professionalism and competence," he said by telephone from St. Petersburg.
Despite his suspension, Suchkov still has powerful friends. After a court suspended him last Tuesday over the sinking, Suchkov told reporters that he had a meeting scheduled with Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov for Saturday.
Kurdin said Ivanov received the admiral, who delivered a report on the affairs of the Northern Fleet.
A top admiral alleged the chief of Russia's navy has decided to mothball its most powerful nuclear submarines after refusing to modernize their missiles. The navy denied it yesterday and accused the admiral of divulging state secrets.
Admiral Gennady Suchkov, the head of the Northern Fleet, said that Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov had ordered the navy to decommission the Typhoon-class submarines, depriving Russia of an important component of its strategic nuclear arsenal.
"Nuclear weaponry is the only thing that brings respect to our nation," he said in an interview published yesterday in the liberal newspaper, Novaya Gazeta.
With a displacement of about 27,500 tons, the Typhoon-class submarines are the world's largest. Each is equipped to carry 20 intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Suchkov said in separate comments to the Interfax-Military News Agency that the Northern Fleet has three Typhoon-class submarines -- the Arkhangelsk, the Severstal, and the Dmitry Donskoi. He said his pleas for modernizing the missiles had fallen on deaf ears, and that only the Severstal carries 10 missiles, while the other two are unarmed.
Suchkov said the navy had refused to earmark about $1.1 million to upgrade the submarines' missiles.
Captain Igor Dygalo, a navy spokesman, insisted yesterday that there are no plans to scrap the Typhoon-class submarines.
"They will remain on duty fulfilling their tasks," Dygalo said. He also assailed Suchkov for unveiling what he said was confidential information about the submarines' weapons.
But Suchkov said he had written a letter to President Vladimir Putin to inform him of Kuroyedov's plan to mothball the vessels.
The outspoken Suchkov has long been on a collision course with Kuroyedov, the navy chief. Putin suspended Suchkov as the Northern Fleet chief after the August sinking of a decommissioned nuclear submarine, and a military court convicted him last week of negligence that led to the death of nine of the submarine's 10 crew. He was given a four-year suspended prison sentence.
3. Russia sets Kosmos military satellite launch for June 10
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Russia has rescheduled the launch of a Kosmos-series military satellite for June 10 after two postponements caused by flaws in the ground power supply system, a source at the Baikonur space center said on Tuesday.
The Zenit 2 rocket that will take the Kosmos into space will blast off from Baikonur before dawn on June 10.
In explaining the choice of date, the source told Interfax that the end of May was too busy in terms of launches and that it had been decided not to put off the flight any further as a Proton rocket is due to launch another satellite in mid-June and a Dnepr rocket will carry one more satellite into space late that month.
4. Russian Fleet Heading for Extinction ï¿½ Convicted Admiral
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The Russian military fleet will cease to exist by 2008, Gennady Suchkov, the fleet admiral who was given a suspended sentence for his part in the sinking of a nuclear submarine last year, said in an interview with the Interfax news agency Monday. He said that the nationï¿½s most powerful submarines have been taken out of the arsenal; a statement some are saying is tantamount to divulging state secrets.
Russiaï¿½s most powerful strategic submarines are the Typhoons, and they have been taken out of the arsenal because of a lack of nuclear missiles to equip them with, Suchkov said.
The Vedomosti daily reports that his former colleagues have accused Suchkov of divulging a state secret, while experts say that he is right.
The problem, Suchkov said in the interview, is that a Moscow institute developing missiles has not yet completed even a prototype of the Bulava nuclear submarine missile, which was to be used with the Typhoon submarines. ï¿½The Arkhangelsk submarine, from which President Vladimir Putin watched the unsuccessful missile launchï¿½ does not carry missiles,ï¿½ he told Interfax.
Meanwhile, Vedomosti reported, citing a government source, that the Bulava missile is the most expensive project in Russiaï¿½s state defense, taking up several billion rubles a year.
Igor Dygalo, a Navy press secretary, denied Suchkovï¿½s report, saying he doesnï¿½t understand why the admiral ï¿½is knowingly making serious violations and sharing classified information concerning submarine defense developments.ï¿½
Suchkov was sentenced earlier this month for negligence in connection witht the sinking of the K-159 nuclear submarine in bad weather in August of 2003. It was being towed to the Polyarny shipyard in Russiaï¿½s northwest Murmansk region to be fully decommissioned. It took with it 800 kilograms of spent nuclear fuel that was in its reactors, and killed nine of the 10 crewmembers on board.
5. Upgraded Typhoon preparing for sea trials in June
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The nuclear submarine "Dmitry Donskoi", modernized at the military shipyards of PO "Northern Machine-Building Enterprise" (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 Navy, Admiral Mikhail Zakharenko. And according to the facts of the military delegation at the factory, "remains satisfied with the progress of work."
Heavy strategic nuclear rocket cruiser "Dmitry Donskoi" is a 941 class Typhoon modernized into a latest, fourth-generation sub. The renovation of the submarine, built at Sevmash in 1982 with number 711 - the lead in the class of the largest domestic nuclear submarines - 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. The "Typhoon" was designed at the Central Design Bureau for marine engineering "Rubin" (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 Typhoon in-commission - the "Severstal" and the "Arkhanrelsk". One is being decommissioned at Sevmash now, two more have been taken out of service and will soon also be cut up for scrap metal. It is expected that the "Dmitry Donskoi" will return to service in the Northern Fleet this year.
1. Ukraine hopes Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine to produce N-fuel
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The Crimean summit of member countries of a United Economic Space plans to discuss work of a Ukrainian-Russian-Kazakh enterprise on output of nuclear fuel for Ukrainian nuclear power stations, said deputy head of the Ukrainian presidentï¿½s office Vassily Baziv. The Ukrainian president is to hold on Sunday bilateral meetings with the Belarussian, Kazakh and Russian presidents.
According to Ukrainian Fuel and Energy Minister and president of the Energoatom Company Sergei Tulub, the joint venture operates ineffectively so far. This was precisely the reason why the company's leadership was reshuffled last May 18, the first since the time of its establishment in 2001.
The enterprise is to produce nuclear fuel for reactors of the VVER-1000 type, which will help Ukraine to cut by 25 percent annual expenses for its purchase. Ukrainian companies will supply zirconium rods, rolled stock and components. The joint venture operates, for the time being, thanks to supplies of Ukrainian uranium to ï¿½Russia and sells part of fresh nuclear fuel for Ukrainian stations.
The venture was established on equal shares by the fund of Ukrainian state property, the Kazakh national atom company Kazatomprom and the Russian TVEL Company.
2. Russia found $1 million and place for floating NPP
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Rosenergoatom concern promised $1m for the Russian-Chinese project on floating NPP construction, while Arkhangelsk region found a place for the plant.
The head of Rosenergoatom Oleg Sarayev said to RIA-Novosti, the money would be spent on ï¿½some worksï¿½.of demonstrational natureï¿½. ï¿½This is not only the step towards the creation, but the step towards a practical demonstration of Russiaï¿½s intention to create this installationï¿½ Sarayev said. Sarayev mentioned about the interest of the western and asian counties to the Russian achievements in the field of fast neutron reactors. He said Japan and China would like to take part in the construction of BN-800 type fast neutron reactor. He claimed such reactors ï¿½practically do not generate radioactive waste and even may ï¿½burnï¿½ earlier accumulated waste, RIA-Novosti reported.
According to the Guardian, the local government in Archangelsk said they had allotted land for the 70-megawatt reactor near the Sevmashpredpriyatiye shipyard on the northern coast. It will occupy 1.5 hectares (3.8 acres) of sea space, and require 0.6 hectares of coastline to which it can be tethered. Despite environmentalists calling the project "crazy", government officials said they were determined for it to go ahead.
Yet Vladimir Slivyak, of the environmental group Ecodefense, said the project - for years a pipe dream of Russia's poorly funded yet imaginative nuclear industry - was close to realisation. He said other states needed to get involved in the project for it to become a reality as Rosenergoatom has only invested $1m thus far. "This is nothing," he said. He added: "India is very interested in this, but Russia would face problems over its non-proliferation commitments if it gave them the technology. China is the most interested, but their conditions are not favourable to Moscow." He said that despite this interest, it would probably take three to four years to build. But he added: "It is too crazy to be implemented, even in a country like Russia", the Guardian reported.
Russia is introducing pioneer arrangements to investigate and analyse nuclear power plant emergencies and rule trespasses. The system will acquire a national scope within the year, the Rosenergoatom concern says in a press release.
Today's expert conference summed up experimental workings as the system had been tested on minor safety trespasses.
The last five years saw a steady decrease of emergency rates thanks to smooth performance of all Rosenergoatom boards, services and affiliates in team with R&D companies and plant equipment manufacturers, says the release.
The new programme focuses on emergency prevention through early detection of portents and alarming trends. Importantly, the system unifies analytic procedures to facilitate safety enhancement in the entire industry proceeding from available national and global achievements.
The Rosenergoatom is a federal unitary government concern, with a full name of, Russian Government Concern for Nuclear Plant Electric and Thermal Power Generation. Established in 1992, it was supervising nine out of Russia's ten nuclear plants before April 1, 2002, when it acquired a generating company's status. All nuclear plants, no matter in action or under construction, came under its management, alongside related R&D, exploitation and maintenance companies. Today, the concern is responsible for all ten plants, with a lump thirty power units, total installed capacity 22,242 megawatt.
Nuclear power industry has a target to pace up its growth rates to an annual 4 per cent, as against 1.5-2 per cent for Russia's entire power industry. If the most optimistic national economic forecasts come true, nuclear plants will offer 200 billion kilowatt/hours by 2010 and up to 300 billion ten years after.
Nuclear plants generated 148.6 billion kilowatt/hours last year to account for 16.5 per cent of Russia's electricity.
1. Transcript of Remarks by Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Sergey Lavrov and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Republic of Korea Ban Ki-moon Following Their Talks in Moscow, May 24, 2004
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Daily News Bulletin
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Foreign Minister Lavrov: The talks have taken place with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Republic of Korea, Mr. Ban Ki-moon; we discussed a broad range of our bilateral relations, upcoming contacts at the political level and international problems. Bilateral relations are on the rise. Preparations were discussed for the upcoming visit of the President of the Republic of Korea to the Russian Federation. As part of the preparation of that visit I received an invitation to visit Seoul, which I accepted with gratitude.
Agreement was reached as part of the preparation of the summit of our leaders to intensify the work in all sectors so as to elaborate specific agreements on a step-up of cooperation in the trade-and-economic field, including investment cooperation, as well as the collaborative effort in space exploration and military technological cooperation.
During the talks, we reaffirmed the identity of our views on the issue of resolving the nuclear problem on the Korean Peninsula. We agreed practical steps for mutual cooperation in the framework of the continuing six-party talks. We hope that these talks and the visit of Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Republic of Korea Ban Ki-moon to Russia will produce concrete results. A practical agenda was outlined for further contacts.
Question: In the course of the summit meeting in Moscow in 1999 agreement was reached to promote three major projects: a Korean-Russian industrial complex in the Nakhodka free economic zone; Irkutsk gas field development, and the connection of the Trans-Korean and Trans-Siberian Railways. But one sees no evident results thereof. What are the prospects for moving forward in these sectors?
Foreign Minister Lavrov: The prospects for moving forward in these sectors are good. The realization of these agreements takes slightly more time than we would like. But that is due to the need for detailed elaboration of legal matters, more specifically those related to the general functioning problem of the free economic zones in the Russian Federation, which in particular concerns Nakhodka. This also depends on the comprehensive elaboration of a strategy for developing the oil and gas resources of Siberia. As to the reconnection of the Trans-Korean Railway with its extension to the Trans-Siberian Mainline, practical contacts are likewise being maintained in this field, which we hope will soon yield results.
Question: Are there any concrete dates for the start of the third round of six-way talks on North Korea? How on the whole do you assess the situation in the negotiating process, considering the tough positions of the US and the DPRK?
Foreign Minister Lavrov: Agreement was reached to hold the next round of talks before the end of June, that is before the end of the first half of the current year. The concrete dates are now being arranged.
As to the substance of the talks, I would not go into detail and try to ascertain who holds tough positions. The main thing is that the six-way format is institutionalized. Within this format, there are real prospects for reaching agreement. Certain shifts were achieved in the course of the meeting of the working group that concluded a few days ago.
Russia, which even several years ago put forward the initiative for elaborating a package solution of the problem of the Korean Peninsula, is playing an active role in these talks. We have a whole series of ideas which we are discussing with our partners.
Of course, our role is not to try and persuade this or that participant, but through the joint efforts of the six of us to look for solutions which would ensure the settlement of the nuclear problem of North Korea along with the provision of security and economic development guarantees for the DPRK.
On this issue our stands are close with the Republic of Korea. Agreement was reached on practical steps for interaction between the two countries with a view to ensuring the success of the six-way talks.
Question: Talks took place in Pyongyang on May 22 between Japan and the DPRK. Can that summit help to hold the third round of talks successfully, in your assessment?
Foreign Minister Lavrov: Russia had traditionally been in favor of normalizing relations between Japan and the DPRK and it welcomed the results of the talks held by Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in Pyongyang, both in terms of the important agreements reached at these talks on complicated humanitarian problems and with regard to the confirmation in Pyongyang of a moratorium on missile tests. I think that the improvement of relations between Tokyo and Pyongyang will make the atmosphere at the six-way talks more favorable for achieving results on the Korean nuclear problem.
2. Russian MFA Information and Press Department Commentary Regarding Certain Media Reports on Talks with US Under Secretary of State John Bolton at Russian MFA
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Daily News Bulletin
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Question: How do you assess the statements of US Under Secretary of State John Bolton regarding Iran's nuclear program?
Answer: It was not without surprise that we acquainted ourselves with news agency reports citing yesterday's statements of John Bolton that the United States and Russia supposedly consider it advisable that the IAEA should submit to the Security Council of the United Nations a report on the nuclear program of Iran.
Iranian themes were indeed discussed at the Russian-American consultations on May 20, 2004. They were discussed in the context of the preparation for the June session of the IAEA Board of Governors, where this questions figures on the agenda. We expect the appearance of a regular report of IAEA Secretary General Mohamed ElBaradei on the progress in implementing the Board of Governors resolutions aimed at ensuring the transparency of the nuclear program in Iran. We expect the report to contain an objective analysis of how cooperation is developing between Iran and the IAEA. We also expect the Board of Governors to consider professionally and objectively the state of affairs in carrying out the resolutions. Accordingly, we had no understandings with the American delegation about the IAEA turning to the UN Security Council, as that question was not considered at the consultations at all.
On the contrary, as concerns the removal of the outstanding issues with regard to the transparency of the Iranian program, we still believe, as we did before, that this can and should be done on the road of the closest cooperation by Iran with the IAEA.
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