During the Cold War, the United States, under the Atoms for Peace program, and the Soviet Union actively exported nuclear materials abroad to friendly countries. The justification was that they were helping to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Now the U.S. and Russia are reviving efforts to retrieve uranium before it ends up in a terrorist dirty bomb detonated in a major city.
On Thursday, in a deal that followed a welter of new terror warnings from the Justice Department, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham signed a $450-million agreement with Russia to retrieve nuclear materials.
Information about contributions to the global nuclear black market by top Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan has prompted the administration to revive its lagging nonproliferation efforts. In a Feb. 11 speech, President Bush warned that "terrorists and terror states are in a race for weapons of mass murder, a race they must lose."
Yet, as a new Harvard University study obtained by the Washington Post reports, not enough is being done against such weapons. Less fissile material was put in safekeeping in the two years after Sept. 11 than in the two years preceding it. More than 40 countries could supply materials for an atomic weapon. The U.S. has spent billions since 1992 to secure nuclear materials, but bureaucratic wrangling has stalled many programs inside Russia. According to the General Accounting Office, even rudimentary safety measures to deter the theft of dangerous materials are lacking at many Russian nuclear labs. What's more, the Energy Department's own auditors warned in February that substantial caches of uranium produced here were "out of U.S. control."
Abraham's initiative states that the U.S. will retrieve radiological material it has sent abroad and earmarks $100 million to aid Russian efforts. According to Atomic Energy Minister Alexander Rumyantsev, Moscow will remove uranium from 20 Soviet and Russian-built reactors in 17 countries. Russia also promises not to complete Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant without a guarantee that spent fuel will be sent to Moscow.
Though Abraham's move is a welcome one, the Bush administration continues to waste far larger sums on a missile defense system intended to defend the country against nuclear missile attacks from rogue states or terrorists. For 2005, the administration's funding request is more than $10 billion, about 22 times the cost of the Energy Department effort. Yet most experts agree that groups such as Al Qaeda are far more likely to produce dirty bombs than nuclear missiles. It makes more sense to invest in preventing nuclear materials from falling into the hands of terrorists than to pour billions into a system that has succeeded only in what amounts to rigged testing.
The Abraham initiative deserves credit as a cost-effective program against an immediate danger. Missile defense, on the other hand, is most effective as a profit center for the defense industry.
While the Bush administration has been distracted by the invasion and occupation of Iraq, it has neglected the far more urgent threat to American security from dangerous nuclear materials that must be safeguarded before they can fall into the hands of terrorists. That is the inescapable conclusion to be drawn from a new report that documents the slow pace of protecting potential nuclear bomb material at loosely guarded sites around the world.
The report ´┐Ż prepared by researchers at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard ´┐Ż does not directly blame the invasion of Iraq for undermining that effort. It simply notes that less nuclear material was secured in the two years immediately after the 9/11 attacks than in the two years before. That is a sad turnabout, given that President Bush has spoken vigorously of the need for greater nuclear security and that the United States had done more than any other government to address the threat.
The most plausible explanation is that the administration has focused so intensely on Iraq, which posed no nuclear threat, that it had little energy left for the real dangers. Indeed, the Harvard researchers said that if a tenth of the effort and resources devoted to Iraq in the last year was devoted to securing nuclear material wherever it might be, the job could be accomplished quickly.
Fortunately, the administration has begun accelerating its efforts in at least one critical area. This week, the energy secretary, Spencer Abraham, announced a $450 million campaign to retrieve nuclear materials that the United States and the Soviet Union had sent around the world for research purposes. Highly enriched uranium is scattered at some 130 research reactors in more than 40 countries, often guarded by little more than a night watchman and a chain-link fence. Dozens of these sites have enough material to make a bomb. The accelerated retrieval effort has rightly been praised by groups seeking to control nuclear proliferation, but many experts warn that more needs to be done to speed up a process that will take years to complete.
The biggest danger point remains Russia, where huge stockpiles of nuclear weapons and materials usable in weapons became vulnerable to theft and smuggling with the breakup of the Soviet Union. Although the United States and Russia are cooperating on a program to safeguard dangerous materials and have fixed some of the most glaring vulnerabilities, only a fifth of the dangerous nuclear material not in weapons has been protected by comprehensive security upgrades, an appallingly sluggish performance. The effort has been slowed by clashes over American access to critical sites and arguments over who would be liable in an accident. Meanwhile, an ambitious campaign begun by the G-8 nations to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction has been slow to get off the ground, despite pledges of $10 billion from the United States and $7 billion from other nations.
Faster progress will require the sustained, personal involvement of Presidents George Bush and Vladimir Putin, who have the power to sweep away bureaucratic obstacles. They need to make the issue a priority when the G-8 meets next month.
3. U.S. and Russia Sign Agreement to Counter Nuclear Threat ´┐Ż Program to prevent research materials from going to terrorists is part of a global cleanup plan.
Los Angeles Times
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MOSCOW ´┐Ż The United States and Russia took their first step Thursday in a new program to reduce the risk of poorly guarded nuclear materials at research facilities around the world falling into the hands of terrorists.
"This will reduce the threat of terrorism and prevent the proliferation of weapons-grade uranium," U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham told reporters after signing a bilateral agreement with Russian officials. Under the plan, the United States and other nations will pay for more than a dozen countries to send nuclear materials they received from Russia back to the Russians.
The agreement calls for all unused highly enriched uranium fuel that came from Russia to be returned by the end of next year. Spent fuel will be returned to Russia by 2010, Abraham said.
The Russian nuclear agency chief, Alexander Rumyantsev, who also signed the agreement, called it "a very important event because we know how to treat irradiated fuel" and because it reflects cooperation with the United States.
The program is part of a $450-million effort, announced by Abraham in Vienna on Wednesday, under which Washington and Moscow will seek to recover the most dangerous nuclear materials from foreign research reactors. Some initial reports on the announcement said the Russian-origin fuel was destined for the United States.
Fuel that originated in the United States is expected to be returned within a decade, Abraham said. Plans call for the most dangerous material to be returned first.
Both the United States and Russia are capable of reprocessing the materials into less dangerous forms and storing them more securely than they often are at foreign research centers.
Nuclear bombs can be made either from highly enriched weapons-grade uranium or from plutonium, which can be extracted from reprocessed spent fuel.
The materials that the program focuses on also could be used to make "dirty bombs," which spread radioactive materials through conventional explosions.
Although highly radioactive materials at research facilities constitute only a tiny fraction of the nuclear materials around the world, they are of special concern because many such institutions are poorly guarded.
Some Russian experts say the U.S.-Russian agreement is only a modest move toward reducing risks.
It will be many years before all the materials are returned to Russia or the U.S., they say, and there are much greater quantities of radioactive materials at nuclear power plants than at research facilities.
"This is a very good step, but the problem is, it should have been done long ago," said Alexei V. Yablokov, president of the Center for Ecological Policy of Russia, a Moscow think tank.
Over the last half a century, the United States has exported about 11,000 tons of uranium, and it appears that Russia also has shipped several thousand tons abroad, said Yablokov, who is one of Russia's leading environmentalists. Much of the uranium can no longer be accounted for, he said.
"In principle, it is a very good idea to collect all the used nuclear fuel which has been spread all over the world, but it is also an impossible task," Yablokov said. "A huge amount of it will remain undetected in different parts of the globe. Nuclear power plants in different countries will continue to be a powerful source of weapons-grade nuclear material."
For these reasons, the U.S.-Russian agreement on research reactor fuel is "largely a political rather than a practical step," he said.
Abraham also alluded to the political importance of the agreement.
"Today's agreement represents a very important first step," he said. "I look forward to increasingly close ties between our two nations as we work together to reduce the threat of terrorism and the vulnerability of nuclear and radiological materials throughout the world."
Yablokov said there were "many tons of nuclear material still unaccounted for" in the world. Less than 200 pounds of weapons-grade uranium is enough to make "a working and powerful nuclear bomb," while a dirty bomb can be made with less than a quarter-pound of not very highly enriched material, he said.
4. U.S. Revives Efforts to Retrieve Nuclear Materials Around the World ´┐Ż U.S. Global Threat Reduction Initiative Targets Nuclear Materials
Environment News Service
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U.S. Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham has announced a global initiative to intensify and accelerate efforts aimed at preventing high risk nuclear and radiological materials from falling into the hands of terrorists or rogue states.
Making the announcement at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, Austria, at a meeting with IAEA senior officials, Abraham said that the program is designed to address the threat posed by the entire range of nuclear materials.
The new program, called the Global Threat Reduction Initiative, aims to minimize as quickly as possible the amount of nuclear material available that could be used for nuclear weapons. It will seek to put into place mechanisms to ensure that nuclear and radiological materials and related equipment, wherever they may be in the world, are not used for malicious purposes.
"We will do this by the securing, removing, relocating or disposing of these materials and equipment - whatever the most appropriate circumstance may be - as quickly and expeditiously as possible," Abraham said.
The United States and other countries are concerned that terrorists may steal or acquire high-enriched uranium or spent nuclear reactor fuel from a research or other facility to produce a nuclear bomb or, more likely, a dirty bomb - a device that disperses radioactive materials with conventional explosives. "We are forced to assume that rogue states and terrorists, in concert with for-profit proliferators, will act vigorously to achieve their ends," he said.
At a press conference, IAEA chief Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei said security issues have become a global priority in the past several years, with nuclear weapons related know-how spreading extensively. He said this makes the control of nuclear material that could be used for nuclear weapons extremely critical, and welcomed the proposal on the part of Secretary Abraham and the United States.
"The proposal is a continuation and extension of initiatives that the IAEA, the USA and others have been working on for many years, and with renewed intensity in the past couple of years, to address nuclear security around the world," Dr. ElBaradei said. The Global Threat Reduction Initiative includes accelerating the ongoing repatriation of Russian origin, high-enriched uranium fuel and spent nuclear fuel of both Russian and U.S. origin.
"We will first work in partnership with Russia to repatriate all Russian-origin fresh HEU fuel by the end of next year," Abraham said. "We will also work with Russia to accelerate and complete the repatriation of all Russian-origin spent fuel by 2010. We will do this on a priority basis according to security threat, so that we remove or secure the most dangerous materials first."
The program will retrieve high-enriched uranium sent by Moscow to 20 reactors in 17 countries and ship it back to Russia for storage at the Dmitrovgrad All-Russia Institute for Atomic Reactors east of Moscow.
´┐ŻI am pleased to see the Secretary join the chorus of voices that have called for more urgent action on this front," said Kenneth Luongo, executive director of the Russian-American Nuclear Security Advisory Council, an independent, nongovernmental research organization which advises both the Russian and U.S. governments on nuclear policy.
´┐ŻThis was the right decision at a time when terrorist threats against the U.S. are intensifying. We´┐Żve delayed too long and we need to move out rapidly on this mission," Luongo said.
The cores of civilian research reactors that use high-enriched uranium will be converted to use low-enriched uranium that cannot be used to make nuclear weapons.
Equipment not covered by existing threat reduction efforts will be identified and secured.
Abraham said that despite progress made by the United States and Russia in improving the security of nuclear materials, more comprehensive and urgent efforts are needed to respond to emerging and evolving threats.
He said that a significant amount of such materials in research reactors and other equipment around the world still poses a proliferation challenge. Abraham noted that more than 200 research reactors are close to the end of their lifespans, and an additional 400 have already been shut down or decommissioned.
Abraham said that more money and international cooperation will be required to meet this challenge and complete the job.
The United States will establish a single organization within the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration to focus exclusively on these efforts. It plans to dedicate more than $450 million to them.
International and global cooperation will be an integral part of the Global Threat Reduction Initiative. Secretary Abrahams proposed that the IAEA and international community join in holding a Global Threat Reduction Initiative Partners' Conference.
This conference would examine how to address material collection and security in places where a broader international effort is required. It would also focus on material collection and security of other proliferation materials, such as those located at conversion facilities, reprocessing plants, and industrial sites, as well as the funding of such work.
Nonproliferation experts have noted that important questions about the new initiative remain unanswered, the Russian-American Nuclear Security Advisory Council warned. They want details on the types of incentives that will be necessary to convince countries to relinquish their highly-enriched uranium (HEU) and convert reactors utilizing this material.
The Council questions whether the U.S. will assist with the shutdown of other older HEU-fueled reactors, wonders how the United States intends to recover almost two-thirds of the HEU it has supplied to foreign reactors that is not encompassed by the current U.S. spent fuel take-back program.
In Vienna, Secretary Abraham expressed appreciation for the efforts of the staff of the United Nations nuclear agency, who are tasked with monitoring safety of all nuclear installations around the world and compliance with international treaties.
"Believe me when I say that you labor on the frontlines of the 21st century's greatest conflict - a conflict between the civilized nations of the Earth, and the terrorists and terrorist states that would use devastating technologies to destroy them."
Tens of millions of people in New York, Rome, Geneva, Tokyo, Sydney, London, and other spots all over the globe will sleep soundly tonight because people like you and others who work on these challenges are tireless in their efforts," Abraham said.
"My government takes your mission very seriously. It is our mission as well. We thank you, and we pledge our determination and resources to help you go about the business of making the world a safer place."
1. Russia Will Not Make Deadline for Destroying Chemical-Weapons Stocks
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Federal Industry Agency Deputy Director Viktor Kholstov, who heads the Federal Chemical Weapons Storage and Disposal Department, told the Duma's Defense Committee on 31 May that Russia has ruled out any possibility of meeting its deadlines for disposing of Soviet-era chemical-weapons stocks, Interfax reported. Moscow has pledged to destroy 8,000 tons of toxic substances by 2007, but has only destroyed 680 tons so far because of a lack of funding from the United States. Originally, Russia was supposed to dispose of 40,000 tons by 2007, but that deadline was postponed by five years because of funding delays. Duma Deputy Nikolai Bezborodov, who is a member of the State Chemical Disarmament Commission, told the news agency that "the program has received no more than one-half of the necessary funding over the last five years."
2. Lewisite destruction started at a technological complexin the village of Gorny, Saratov Region
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The first 50 tons of lewisite have been destroyed at a technological complex in the storage facility for chemical weapons, situated in the village of Gorny, Saratov Region. This is about one fourth of the total amount of that toxic agent, which is kept there.
´┐ŻThe liquidation of lewisite, which is included in the group of the most dangerous toxic agents, began this year and is going on under the round-the-clock control of international inspectors from various countries, with the strict observance of ecological requirements,´┐Ż a representative of the regional information and analytical centre for the safe storage and destruction of chemical weapons, told Itar-Tass on Monday.
A total of 1,160 tons of mustard gas, lewisite and their mixtures were kept for a long time at the Gorny storage facility. They made 3 per cent of the total amount of 40,000 tons of toxic agents possessed by Russia. Mustard gas was fully destroyed in 2003. ´┐ŻAt present only the lewisite line of the technological complex is working for the security purpose,´┐Ż a representative of the complex told Itar-Tass. ´┐ŻAfter lewisite is destroyed, we are planning to start the processing of dangerous mixtures. The technological complex will be stopped for maintenance in June and July. The Saratov Region will be totally rid of chemical weapons by 2005.´┐Ż
In the future the technological complex for the destruction of chemical weapons will be used for turning out civilian products. ´┐ŻVarious technologies, which could be used for the production of consumer goods, are being examined now,´┐Ż a representative of the State Commission for Chemical Destruction told Itar-Tass.
The United States welcomed Russia on Monday as a key partner in fighting the spread of weapons of mass destruction, after Moscow said it was joining a year-old U.S. initiative to track and seize weapons components worldwide.
Moscow's announcement came as countries taking part in the Proliferation Security Initiative met in Krakow to review progress, a year after President Bush launched the initiative in the Polish city.
It calls on nations to cooperate to stop the trafficking of missiles and other components of weapons of mass destruction at sea, in the air and on land.
U.S. Undersecretary of State John Bolton, who visited Moscow in May to win over Russia, said that country's participation was "a critical development."
"This is a development that the United States has been working on almost since the beginning," he told reporters at the Krakow meeting. "We look forward to active participation by Russia in ... interdiction activities globally."
U.S. officials have said that Russia's joining would be especially significant because it would encourage China to follow suit, and because Moscow could bring its influence to bear on other former Soviet republics that have weak export controls.
Washington has been eager for Russia to join up before Group of Eight leaders meet in June in Sea Island, Georgia, where the United States wants the anti-proliferation initiative to be a major topic.
"We expect that our intelligence sharing and law enforcement and military assets working with the Russian Federation will make a major contribution to our efforts to interdict WMD trafficking worldwide," Bolton said.
Moscow had expressed doubts over the initiative, with officials saying they were unsure whether the plan met international legal standards and would be in Russia's national interest.
But the Foreign Ministry said Monday that "Russia today joined with the group of founding states of the Proliferation Security Initiative."
Its biggest success so far was the interception last October of a German freighter loaded with an illegal shipment of uranium enrichment equipment bound for Libya, Bolton said.
The seizure - said to have involved cooperation by U.S., British and German intelligence - sealed Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's December decision to dismantle his nuclear weapons program, Bolton said.
Bolton renewed U.S. concerns about North Korea's weapons programs, accusing the reclusive communist country of being "one of the most extensive proliferators in the world," especially of ballistic missile technology.
"There's fear that if they develop sufficient quantities of weapons-grade uranium or plutonium that they ... would be prepared to sell that or actual weapons to other rogue states or terrorist groups," Bolton said.
1. Russia Too Lax as NATO Partner: U.S. Ambassador
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Russia ought to display more initiative than it does in partnership with NATO, said Alexander Vershbow, US Ambassador. He was addressing a news conference in Murmansk, seaport and provincial centre in the Kola Peninsula, Russia's extreme northwest.
When asked about Russia-NATO partnership prospects in the Barents Sea and elsewhere in the European Arctic region, he said there prospects were brilliant in a great many fields. In the military sphere, for one, it can be joint exercises and other teamwork of the NATO and the Russian Navy's Northern Fleet.
NATO studies of the latest threats and challenges are getting ever more profound to open new vistas of its alliance with Russia. In particular, it concerns border guard, the anti-terror cause and combat against drug trafficking.
The diplomat pointed out long-established Russia-NATO team efforts to utilise discarded nuclear submarines, and step up nuclear project safety.
He regrets Russia's insufficient dynamism in that and other partnership fields. The dialogue is blatantly out of balance. Whatever teamwork initiatives there are have come from NATO, the ambassador said with reference to his own firsthand experience. He called Russia to come up with initiatives of its own.
1. Iranian Foreign Ministry Appreciates Nuclear Power Plant Busher Cooperation with Russia
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Official Spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry Hamid Reza Assefi said that the cooperation between Iran and Russia in the construction of Busher nuclear power plant was a "paragon." "Partnership between Teheran and Moscow in the construction of the first reactor unit of the Busher nuclear power plant is a paragon of cooperation," he told reporters on Sunday.
"We maintain proper contact with the Russian side on the construction of the first reactor unit, and all political problems in this respect have already been solved," he said.
According to him, Russian representatives will come to Iran soon "to settle technical issues that are still to be addressed." Russia and Iran's nuclear authorities are discussing the possibility of construction of the second Busher reactor unit. According to Chief of the Federal Agency for Atomic Energy of the Russian Federation Alexander Rumyantsev, Russian experts had to confront a hard task to make the first reactor - "to begin the construction of a nuclear power plant with trying to accommodate the Russian-made VVER-1000 reactor in a building erected previously according to Siemens's project, rather than with constructing the power plant main building." Nevertheless, "the reactor was accommodated successfully, and the first reactor unit of the Iranian nuclear power plant will soon be completed." "The physical turn-on of the unit is scheduled for 2005, and in the same year the reactor will begin to generate electric power," Rumyantsev said.
In 2003 Atomstroyeksport, the general contractor of the project, has transferred to Iran a feasibility study for the second reactor unit of the same power plant. Each reactor unit costs around USD1bn to build. Currently the construction project employs a thousand Russian engineers in Iran.
The Russian space troops as an independent arm were established three years ago. The anniversary is celebrated today, reports a space troops spokesman.
"It was three years ago that the command post of the space troops assumed control over the Russian orbital group and the entire land-based infrastructure. The past period has proved that the Russian Security Council decision and the president's decree on the formation of space troops as an inter-service structure were right and timely," he said.
On June 1, the troops embark on the next, summer period of training within the 2003-2004 academic year.
"The first six months of the 2004 academic year focused on measures to maintain and reinforce the fighting capacity as well as to improve the level of training. Special emphasis was laid on forming a reserve for the long-term development of armament systems and fundamentals of their combat application," said Lieutenant General Vladimir Popovkin, commander-in-chief of the space troops of Russia.
As the winter period of training in missile attack warning systems and anti-aircraft defense was under way, eight launches of Russian and three foreign ballistic missiles and rockets of space designation were registered.
The outer space control system has assumed the tracking of 11 Russian and 17 foreign space vehicles.
In order to restore the military orbital group consisting now of 60 satellites, three more space vehicles have been launched. The strategic missile troops have assisted in three launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Space troops crews are behind five satellite launches within the framework of the Federal space program, international cooperation and commercial schemes.
Over 100 satellite control sessions have been staged on the basis of the Titov space vehicle testing and control center.
Special heed has always been paid to the development of space troops. The recent innovation includes the optical-electronic complex "Okno" and the radio-technical complex "Moment" that have been put on combat duty.
2. Ecologists to Conduct Expertise of Missile Deployment Project in Amur Region
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Commander of the Russian space troops Vladimir Popovkin has approved conduction of a public environmental appraisal of the project to deploy a Strela missile complex on the Svobodny space vehicle launching site in the Amur region (Russia's Far East).
"The commander has given the go-ahead for the expertise," the troops' spokesman told RIA Novosti on Monday.
Documents for the expertise are already prepared.
The action was initiated and arranged by Russia's public organizations, including The Ecologic Initiative, the Youth Union of Lawyers, AmurSoES. It was commissioned by the Amur region administration.
The timeframe depends on how quick the expert committee will receive the copy of draft materials on the Strela complex.
Use of the space missile complex Strela with overhauled inter-continent ballistic missiles RS-18 that are taken out of service, will provide economically beneficial launches of small space vehicles to different orbits, experts believe.
The Svobodny launching site in the Amur region was set up on the basis of a leading center for testing and using space means of the Russian Defence Ministry. After the USSR-US Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I) came into force, inter-continent ballistic missiles RS-10 were taken off the alert, while their testing ground was taken out of service. To use it as a space vehicle launching site, five launching silos were preserved, as well as technical facilities.
The site has a developed infrastructure. Its geographical setting allows launching space vehicles in a broad range of orbit inclinations.
At 10:04 a.m. Moscow time, a Tsiklon-2 booster rocket put a Russian Defense Ministry Kosmos series military satellite into orbit, the Russian Space Forces told RIA Novosti.
The Space Troops and the Federal Space Agency jointly launched the rocket from launch pad 20.
This was the 105th Tsiklon-2 booster rocket launched by the Space Forces for the Defense Ministry, and the third launch in 2004.
According to information from the G.S. Titov Main Test Center and the Space Troops Control Center, the rocket launched normally. The Kosmos satellite was launched to increase the number of military satellites in orbit.
The Tsiklon-2 is a two-stage liquid-propellant light-class booster rocket designed to launch satellites with a mass of up to 3,200 kilograms into circular orbits. It was developed by the Yuzhnoye design office and manufactured by NPO Yuzhmash (Dnepropetrovsk). The rocket was jointly designed by Ukraine and Russian enterprises to satellites into optimal circular and elliptic orbits to conserve energy. The rocket was based on the R-36 intercontinental ballistic missile which was launched for the first time in 1968.
Since 1969, 104 Tsiklon-2 rockets have been launched from Baikonur, all of which have been successful.
1. Bellona Wins Case on Secrets of Nuclear Submarines
St. Petersburg Times (Russia)
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Environmental Rights Center Bellona on Thursday won a court case over a dispute with the Defense Minister and the Navy Commander on declassifying information about accidents on board Soviet nuclear submarines.
The presidium of the Moscow City Court said that the information requested by environmentalists cannot be classified and that Bellona can demand its release.
"This ruling establishes a precedent," said St. Petersburg lawyer Ivan Pavlov, head of the Institute for the Development of Freedom of Information, who was hired by Bellona to work on the case. "In the past the courts had no idea at all how to get documents declassified."
"After we have dealt with some formalities, the case will be handed over to the Presnya District Court [in Moscow]," he said Thursday in a telephone interview. "In theory, it should be heard within the 10 days after the case is submitted, but it is unlikely to happen so fast judging from how our courts work."
Bellona is seeking information on nuclear submarine accidents that occurred between 1961 and 1985.
It sent its first request to Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov in mid-2002. Within a month Navy head Vladimir Kuroyedov replied, telling the environmentalists he refused to supply any information about the accidents.
Bellona then used a court system that demonstrated its unwillingness to tackle such a sensitive matter as that of classified information.
"This case is full of interesting moments," Pavlov said.
Bellona filed its first case in August 2002 to Presnya District Court, which has jurisdiction over cases involving the Defense Ministry. But the court refused to hear the case, saying that state secrets were a matter for the Moscow City Court.
In August last year, the city court ruled that Bellona's request was outside the jurisdiction of "a court of a city of federal significance" and said the case should be heard in the Presnya court because it "does not concern state secrets."
"We found ourselves in an absurd situation with two rulings that completely contradicted each other," Pavlov said.
Thursday's ruling has paved the way for the requests to be answered.
"It is more or less known what happened, when and on which submarines," Bellona representative Rashid Alimov said Monday a telephone interview. "There is information in our reports, but we wanted it to be confirmed officially."
"According to our information taken from different open sources there were failures on nuclear reactors between 1961 and 1985 on submarines with tactical numbers K-19, K-387, K-208, K-279, K-447, K-508, K-209, K-210, K-216, K-316, K-462, K-38, K-37, K-371, and K-367," Bellona's request for information says. "It is known that there were human casualties and also that radiation leaked into the atmosphere. But to this day information on the consequences of the accidents is hidden from the public."
Kuroyedov said he "does not know which open sources were used to get information on accidents, and what is more, the tactical numbers of submarines" and has confirmed only one, that of K-19. In his letter to Bellona Kuroyedov said only that all measures necessary to take care of victims had already been implemented.
Bellona treated the letter as an attempt to avoid having to supply the information requested.
The Navy press service could not be reached for comment Monday.
Bellona's report on the Murmansk-based Northern Fleet mentions 18 cases of technical failures involving Soviet nuclear submarines from 1961 to 1985, including cases in which people died.
According to the report, 39 sailors died Sept. 8, 1967 in the Norwegian sea as a result of a fire on board the submarine K-3; 28 sailors died a result of a fire on Feb. 24, 1972 on board the famous K-19 submarine, which was on its way back from service in the Northern Atlantic; on Sept. 26, 1976 another 8 sailors died in the Barents Sea as a result of a fire started by old rags catching fire on board the submarine K-47; 13 sailors died on June 18, 1984 after an electrician's clothing caught fire on submarine K-131, and two crew died on K-387 in 1976 as a result of a condenser failure.
All this and the rest of the disasters linked to different leaks and technical problems with reactors on submarines are described in detail on the web site bellona.org.
New Zealand is taking further steps to help stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction, Foreign Minister Phil Goff and Disarmament and Arms Control Minister Marian Hobbs announced today.
"The government has decided to join the G8 Global Partnership and to support the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI)," the ministers said. "Both are programmes designed to supplement existing multilateral efforts by taking practical actions against emerging proliferation risks.
"Global security is increasingly under challenge and there's the risk of weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands of terrorists or states that are not fully complying with international treaties.
"The Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction was launched by the G8 leaders in 2002. It aims to address the WMD legacies of the former Soviet Union in the first instance through a range of projects to secure and dispose of radioactive materials and chemical weapons, dismantle nuclear submarines and re-employ former weapons scientists. "The government will contribute NZ$1 million in 2003/04 to a cooperative project in Russia.
"Details are still being worked through but it is likely that New Zealand's support will go towards the development of chemical weapons destruction facilities which are a priority.
"New Zealand has also joined a number of other countries in supporting the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) which was launched last year by President Bush to strengthen international cooperation against trafficking in WMD and their delivery systems.
"Foreign Affairs and Defence officials are attending the PSI's first anniversary meeting in Krakow, Poland, this week to demonstrate New Zealand's support for the PSI objectives and our interest in contributing to working through the operational and legal issues involved in international interdiction exercises.
"The extent to which New Zealand participates in individual PSI activities will be assessed in the light of how the initiative develops and our national interests. "Regional training exercises are planned over the next 18 months by Australia, Japan and Singapore as members of the PSI core group. We will be looking closely at these and other proposals on a case-by-case basis.
"These further contributions to stopping the spread of dangerous weapons and materials reflect the government's commitment to bolstering the multilateral disarmament and arms control treaty system.
"New Zealand has a strong record of supporting non-proliferation objectives. Our Nuclear Free Zone Act remains a decisive contribution to the global effort by ensuring that nuclear weapons stay out of this part of the world. "Additional measures to stop the spread of WMD must be matched by practical progress in disarmament by those states possessing nuclear weapons and renunciation of plans to renew and refine existing arsenals.
"New Zealand will continue to champion the cause for nuclear disarmament as the only real guarantee against the risk that such weapons will spread and one day be used with catastrophic consequences."
2. On Russia's Participation in Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI)
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Daily News Bulletin
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Today, on May 31st, Russia joined the group of founding states of the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI). The Russian delegation is participating in the meeting of the PSI founding countries in Cracow, Poland.
This initiative was put forward by US President George W. Bush in May 2003. As of now, the so called PSI core participants are 15 states, including Russia. More than 60 states have expressed readiness to assist the PSI aims in one way or another.
The initiative is aimed at identifying, preventing and suppressing the illicit trade in, and the cross-border movement of WMD-related materials and their delivery vehicles, including the black market for such materials. Thus the PSI is a potentially useful mechanism in the struggle against the threat of WMD proliferation, and more specifically, against its new dimension - the possibility of terrorists acquiring WMDs.
The threats of WMD proliferation bear a global character and, accordingly, demand a global response. We are convinced that only by collective efforts is it possible to cope with them.
The principles for the Proliferation Security Initiative, set forth in the founding countries' Paris Declaration in September 2003, as developed by them in London in October of the same year, correspond to our line in the field of nonproliferation. An international collaborative effort in these questions fits into the framework of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540, which, inter alia, contains an appeal for cooperation in combating WMD black market operatives.
We regard the PSI as an addition, not a counterposition to the existing mechanisms in the field of nonproliferation.
The Russian side intends to make its contribution to implementing the PSI with consideration for the compatibility of the actions with the rules of international law, for their conformance to national legislation and for the commonality of nonproliferation interests with the partners.
By and large we regard the PSI as a component part of the global strategy for strengthening the international WMD nonproliferation regimes and export controls. We presume that activity under this initiative should not and will not create any obstacles to the lawful economic, scientific and technological cooperation of states.
3. Remarks of Senator John Kerry on New Strategies to Meet New Threats
John Kerry for President
(for personal use only)
Thank you and thank you all for being here.
This weekend, thousands of men and women and children lined the streets in Florida to watch the Memorial Day Parades. They waved flags. Sons and daughters sat on their fathers´┐Ż shoulders and cheered as high school marching bands and bands of brothers´┐Żand sisters´┐Żmarched passed them with their heads held high.
It is a great time in America´┐Ża common scene to honor uncommon valor. Every year we gather in our cities and towns to remember. We praise our fathers and mothers. We mourn lost brothers and sisters. We miss best friends. And we thank God that we live in a country that is good as well as great.
In America, we are blessed to have World War II veterans like Debra Stern to lead us in the ´┐ŻPledge of Allegiance.´┐Ż We are blessed that hundreds gathered at Royal Palm Memorial Gardens to dedicate a memorial to our most recent veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq. We are blessed that so many in Florida could stop and pause to remember their neighbors and friends and the 35 who have fallen Iraq.
In America, we are blessed. When you stop and think about what it takes for people to risk their lives, say good-bye to their families, and go so far away to serve their country ´┐Ż it is a profound gesture of honor.
It symbolizes the spirit of America ´┐Ż that there are men and women who are ready to do what it takes to live and lead by our values. I met so many of them when I fought in Vietnam and I have met them since from Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Their love of country is special. And we will never tire of waving a flag, saying a prayer, or laying a wreath for those who fell to lift the cause of freedom.
Their sacrifice calls us to a higher standard. In these dangerous times and in our determination to win the war on terror, we need to be clear about our purposes and our principles. When war and peace, when life and death, when democracy and terror are in the balance, we owe it to our soldiers and our country to shape and follow a coherent policy that will make America safer, stronger, and truer to our ideals.
Last week, I proposed a new national security policy guided by four imperatives: First, we must lead strong alliances for the post 9-11 world. Second, we must modernize the world´┐Żs most powerful military to meet new threats. Third, in addition to our military might, we must deploy all that is in America´┐Żs arsenal -- our diplomacy, our intelligence system, our economic power, and the appeal of our values and ideas. Fourth, to secure our full independence and freedom, we must free America from its dangerous dependence on Middle East oil.
These four imperatives are a response to an inescapable reality: the world has changed and war has changed; the enemy is different ´┐Ż and we must think and act anew.
These imperatives must guide us as we deal with the greatest threat we face today´┐Żthe possibility of al Qaeda or other terrorists getting their hands on a nuclear weapon. We know what al Qaeda and terrorists long to do. Osama bin Laden has called obtaining a weapon of mass destruction a sacred duty.
Take away politics, strip away the labels, the honest questions have to be asked. Since that dark day in September have we done everything we could to secure these dangerous weapons and bomb making materials? Have we taken every step we should to stop North Korea and Iran´┐Żs nuclear programs? Have we reached out to our allies and forged an urgent global effort to ensure that nuclear weapons and materials are secured?
The honest answer, in each of these areas, is that we have done too little, often too late, and even cut back our efforts or turned away from the single greatest threat we face in the world today, a terrorist armed with nuclear weapons.
There was a time not so long ago when dealing with the possibility of nuclear war was the most important responsibility entrusted to every American President. The phrase ´┐Żhaving your finger on the nuclear button´┐Ż meant something very real to Americans, and to all the world. The Cold War may be over, the nuclear arms race between the Soviet Union and the United States may have ended, but the possibility of terrorists using nuclear weapons is very real indeed. The question before us now is what shadowy figures may someday have their finger on a nuclear button if we don´┐Żt act. It is time again that we have leadership at the highest levels that treats this threat with the sense of seriousness, urgency, and purpose it demands.
I can think of no single step that will do more to head off this catastrophe than the proposal I am laying out today. And that is why I am here today to ask that America launch a new mission, that America restore and renew the leadership we once demonstrated for all the world, to prevent the world´┐Żs deadliest weapons from falling into the world´┐Żs most dangerous hands. If we secure all bomb making materials, ensure that no new materials are produced for nuclear weapons, and end nuclear weapons programs in hostile states like North Korea and Iran, we can and will dramatically reduce the possibility of nuclear terrorism.
We can´┐Żt eliminate this threat on our own. We must fight this enemy in the same way we fought in World War I, World War II, and the Cold War, by building and leading strong alliances. Our enemy has changed and is not based within one country or one totalitarian empire. But our path to victory is still the same. We must use the might of our alliances.
When I am president, America will lead the world in a mission to lock up and safeguard nuclear weapons material so terrorists can never acquire it. To achieve this goal, we need the active support of our friends and allies around the world. We might all share the same goal: to reduce the threat of nuclear terrorism, but we can´┐Żt achieve it when our alliances have been shredded.
It will take new leadership´┐Żthe kind of leadership that brings others to us. We can´┐Żt protect ourselves from these nuclear dangers without the world by our side.
Earlier this year, my colleague Senator Joe Biden announced the results of a challenge he issued. He asked the directors of our national laboratories whether terrorists could make a nuclear bomb. The bad news is they said ´┐Żyes´┐Ż ´┐Ż and when challenged to prove it, they constructed a nuclear bomb made entirely from commercial parts that can be bought without breaking any laws, except for obtaining the nuclear material itself. The good news is the materials´┐Żthe highly enriched uranium and plutonium needed to detonate a bomb´┐Żdo not occur in nature and are difficult for terrorists to produce on their own´┐Żno material, no bomb.
The weapons are only in a few countries, but the material to make a bomb exists in dozens of states around the world. Securing this material is a great challenge. But as President Truman said, ´┐ŻAmerica was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.´┐Ż
We know how to reduce this threat. We have the technology to achieve this goal ´┐Ż and with the right leadership, we can achieve it quickly.
As president, my number one security goal will be to prevent the terrorists from gaining weapons of mass murder, and ensure that hostile states disarm. It is a daunting goal, but an indisputable one´┐Żand we can achieve it.
I think of other great challenges this nation has set for itself. In 1960, President Kennedy challenged us to go to the moon. Our imagination and sense of discovery took us there. In 1963, just months after the Cuban Missile Crisis nearly brought the world to nuclear disaster President Kennedy called for a nuclear test ban treaty. At the height of the Cold War, he challenged America and the Soviet Union to pursue a strategy ´┐Żnot toward ´┐Żannihilation, but toward a strategy of peace.´┐Ż We answered that challenge. And in time, a hotline between Moscow and Washington was established. The nuclear tests stopped. The air cleared and hope emerged on the horizon.
When America sees a great problem or great potential, it is in our collective character to set our sights on that horizon and not stop working until we reach it. In our mission to reduce the threat of nuclear terrorism, we should never feel helpless. We should feel empowered that the successes in our past will guide us toward a safer, more secure world.
Vulnerable nuclear material anywhere is a threat to everyone, everywhere.
We need to employ a layered strategy to keep the worst weapons from falling into the worst hands. A strategy that invokes our non-military strength early enough and effectively enough so military force doesn´┐Żt become our only option. America must lead and build an international consensus for early preventive action.
Here´┐Żs what we must do. The first step is to safeguard all bomb making material worldwide. That means making sure we know where they are, and then locking them up and securing them wherever they are. Our approach should treat all nuclear materials needed for bombs as if they were bombs.
More than a decade has passed since the Berlin Wall came down. But Russia still has nearly 20,000 nuclear weapons, and enough nuclear material to produce 50,000 more Hiroshima-sized bombs.
For most of these weapons and materials, cooperative security upgrades have not been completed ´┐Ż the world is relying on whatever measures Russia has taken on its own. And at the current pace, it will take 13 years to secure potential bomb material in the former Soviet Union. We cannot wait that long. I will ensure that we remove this material entirely from sites that can´┐Żt be adequately secured during my first term.
It is hard to believe that we actually secured less bomb making material in the two years after 9/11 than we had in the two years before.
At my first summit with the Russian President, I will seek an agreement to sweep aside the key obstacles slowing our efforts to secure Russia´┐Żs nuclear stockpiles. But this threat is not limited to the former Soviet Union.
Because terror at home can begin far away, we have to make sure that in every nation the stockpiles are safeguarded. If I am president, the United States will lead an alliance to establish and enforce an international standard for the safe custody of nuclear weapons and materials.
We will help states meet such standards by expanding the scope of the Nunn-Lugar program passed over a decade ago to deal with the unsecured weapons and materials in the former Soviet Union. For years, the administration has underfunded this vital program. For a fraction of what we have already spent in Iraq, we can ensure that every nuclear weapon, and every pound of potential bomb material will be secured and accounted for.
This is not just a question of resources. As president, I will make it a priority and overcome the bureaucratic walls that have caused delay and inaction in Russia so we can finish the important work of securing weapons material there and around the world.
The Administration just announced plans to remove potential bomb material from vulnerable sites outside the former Soviet Union over the next ten years. We simply can´┐Żt afford another decade of this danger. My plan will safeguard this bomb making material in four years. We can´┐Żt wait´┐Żand I won´┐Żt wait when I am president.
The second step is to prevent the creation of new materials that are being produced for nuclear weapons. America must lead an international coalition to halt, and then verifiably ban, all production of highly enriched uranium and plutonium for use in nuclear weapons -- permanently capping the world's nuclear weapons stockpiles.
Despite strong international support for such a ban, this Administration is stalling, and endlessly reviewing the need for such a policy.
In addition, we must strengthen the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to close the loophole that lets countries develop nuclear weapons capabilities under the guise of a peaceful, civilian nuclear power program.
The third step is to reduce excess stocks of materials and weapons. If America is asking the world to join our country in a shared mission to reduce this nuclear threat, then why would the world listen to us if our own words do not match our deeds?
As President, I will stop this Administration´┐Żs program to develop a whole new generation of bunker-busting nuclear bombs. This is a weapon we don´┐Żt need. And it undermines our credibility in persuading other nations. What kind of message does it send when we´┐Żre asking other countries not to develop nuclear weapons, but developing new ones ourselves?
We must work with the Russians to accelerate the ´┐Żblending down´┐Ż of highly enriched uranium and the disposition of Russian plutonium stocks so they can never be used in a nuclear weapon.
We don´┐Żt need a world with more usable nuclear weapons. We need a world where terrorists can´┐Żt ever use one. That should be our focus in the post 9/11 world.
Our fourth step is to end the nuclear weapons programs in states like North Korea and Iran.
This Administration has been fixated on Iraq while the nuclear dangers from North Korea have multiplied. We know that North Korea has sold ballistic missiles and technology in the past. And according to recent reports, North Korean uranium ended up in Libyan hands. The North Koreans have made it clear to the world ´┐Ż and to the terrorists ´┐Ż that they are open for business and will sell to the highest bidder.
We should have no illusions about Kim Jong II, so any agreement must have rigorous verification and lead to complete and irreversible elimination of North Korea´┐Żs nuclear weapons program. For eighteen months, we´┐Żve essentially negotiated over the shape of the table while the North Koreans allegedly have made enough new fuel to make six to nine nuclear bombs.
We should maintain the six party talks, but we must also be prepared to talk directly with North Korea. This problem is too urgent to allow China, or others at the table, to speak for us. And we must be prepared to negotiate a comprehensive agreement that addresses the full range of issues of concern to us and our allies.
We must also meet the mounting danger on the other side of Asia. While we have been preoccupied in Iraq, next door in Iran, a nuclear program has been reportedly moving ahead. Let me say it plainly: a nuclear armed Iran is unacceptable. An America, whose interest and allies could be on the target list, must no longer sit on the sidelines. It is critical that we work with our allies to resolve those issues.
This is why strengthening the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty is so critical. The Iranians claim they´┐Żre simply trying to meet domestic energy needs. We should call their bluff, and organize a group of states that will offer the nuclear fuel they need for peaceful purposes and take back the spent fuel so they can´┐Żt divert it to build a weapon. If Iran does not accept this, their true motivations will be clear. The same goes for other countries possibly seeking nuclear weapons. We will oppose the construction in any new countries of any new facilities to make nuclear materials, and lead a global effort to prevent the export of the necessary technology to Iran.
We also need to strengthen enforcement and verification. We must make rigorous inspection protocols mandatory, and refocus the mission of the International Atomic Energy Agency to stop the spread of nuclear weapons material.
Next, we must work with every country to tighten export controls, stiffen penalties, and beef up law enforcement and intelligence sharing, to make absolutely sure that a disaster like the AQ Khan black market network, which grew out of Pakistan´┐Żs nuclear program, can never happen again. We must also take steps to reduce tension between India and Pakistan and guard against the possibility of nuclear weapons falling into the wrong hands there.
So let it be clear: finally and fundamentally, preventing nuclear terrorism is our most urgent priority to provide for America´┐Żs long term security. That is why I will appoint a National Coordinator for Nuclear Terrorism and Counterproliferation who will work with me in the White House to marshal every effort and every ally, to combat an incalculable danger.
We have to do everything we can to stop a nuclear weapon from ever reaching our shore´┐Żand that mission begins far away. We have to secure nuclear weapons and materials at the source so that searching the containers here at the Port of Palm Beach isn´┐Żt our only line of defense´┐Żit is our last line of defense.
This is not an easy topic: it can be frightening. At this hour, stockpiles go unguarded, bomb making materials sit in forgotten facilities, and terrorists plot away. They sit in unassuming rooms all across the globe. They have their technology. They have their scientists. All they need is that material. But we can stop them. Remember. No material. No bomb. No nuclear terrorism.
We are living through days of great and unprecedented risks. But Americans have never surrendered to fear. Today, we must not avert our eyes, or pretend it´┐Żs not there´┐Żor think that we can simply wait it out. That is not our history´┐Żor our hope.
Last Saturday, I attended the dedication of the World War II memorial. I had the honor to sit next to a brave man, Joe Lesniewski who was one of the original ´┐ŻBand of Brothers´┐Ż from the ´┐ŻEasy Company´┐Ż of the 101st Airborne Division. He´┐Żs part of the Greatest Generation and jumped into enemy territory during the invasion of Normandy. Like so many other young men that day, he looked fear in the face and conquered it. June 6th´┐Żthis coming Saturday´┐Żmarks the anniversary of that day which saved the free world.
Sixty years ago, more than 43,000 young men were ready to storm Omaha Beach. Their landing crafts were heading for an open beach, where they averted a wall of concrete and bullets. They knew there was an overwhelming chance that they might die before their boots hit the sand.
But they jumped into the shallow waters and fought their way ashore. Because at the end of the beach, beyond the cliff was the hope of a safer world. That is what Americans do. We face a challenge´┐Żno matter how ominous´┐Żbecause we know that on the other side of hardship resides hope.
As president, I will not wait or waver in the face of the new threats of this new era. I will build and lead strong alliances. I will deploy every tool at our disposal. I know it will not be easy, but the greatest victories for peace and freedom never are. There are no cake-walks in the contest with terrorists and lawless states.
We have to climb this cliff together so that we, too, can reach the other side of hardship and live in a world that no longer fears the unknowable enemy and the looming mushroom cloud on the horizon.
We must lead this effort not just for our own safety, but for the good of the world. As President Truman said, ´┐ŻOur goal is collective security´┐ŻIf we can work in a spirit of understanding and mutual respect, we can fulfill this solemn obligation that rests upon us.´┐Ż
Just as he led America to face the threat of communism, so too, we must now face the twin threats of nuclear proliferation and terrorism. This is a great challenge for our generation´┐Żand the stakes are as high as they were on D-Day and in President Truman´┐Żs time. For the sake of all the generations to come, we will meet this test and we will succeed
4. Alexander Yakovenko, the Spokesman of Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Answers a Russian Media Question at May 27, 2004 Press Conference Regarding Global Threat Reduction Initiative Announced by US Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Daily News Bulletin
(for personal use only)
Question: How could you comment on the Global Threat Reduction initiative announced yesterday by US Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham which provides for the retrieval of research reactor fuel that was supplied by the USSR and the United States to various countries in the past?
Answer: This initiative comes in the mainstream of the efforts being made by Russia and the United States to work out bilateral and multilateral measures for the purpose of diminishing the threat of the proliferation of nuclear weapons and reducing the presence of nuclear materials in nonnuclear countries.
In the past year, with the participation of the United States and the IAEA, Russia carried out the retrieval of research reactor fuel from Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania and Libya.
Today the Russian Federal Atomic Energy Agency is signing an agreement with the US Energy Department on cooperation in this field. It is assumed that all the fresh research reactor fuel of Soviet origin will be taken out to Russia by the end of the next year.
5. Transcript of press conference on talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak (excerpted)
President Vladimir V. Putin
(for personal use only)
We also discussed the problem of fighting terrorism, and agreed on active joint work in this direction. We agreed that it is necessary to solve political problems which cause people to have feelings of despair and hopelessness, because these feelings are in fact the hidden reason for terrorism. We also talked about the necessity to increase international coordination in the war on terrorism with the help of international conferences held under the aegis of the UN. We also agreed on the necessity of increasing international efforts on preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Common standards must be developed that guarantee the implementation of all treaties on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.
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