* On May 27 at Russia's Federal Nuclear Energy Agency, Alexander Rumyantsev, the agency's director, and U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham discussed highly important bilateral cooperation in the field of nonproliferation of nuclear weapons and nuclear energy research.
An agreement on Russian-U.S. cooperation in bringing back to Russia of nuclear fuel from Russian-made research reactors was signed at the end of the talks.
Mr. Rumyantsev told reporters that 17 countries had Soviet-made reactors.
Research reactor fuel will be processed in Russia and experts will upgrade working research reactors so that they could use less-enriched uranium.
According to the agency's press center, nuclear fuel was retrieved from Belgrade (Serbia), Pitesti (Romania) and Sofia (Bulgaria) in 2002 within the framework of Russian-US cooperation. Spent reactor fuel was also removed from Libya's Tajurah nuclear center this year. Currently, a procedure to retrieve nuclear fuel from Ukrainian and Czech research reactors is being worked out. The possibility of retrieving nuclear fuel from Uzbekistan is being actively examined.
2. Latvian nuclear reactor to be decommissioned with U.S. funds
(for personal use only)
A nuclear reactor in this Baltic state will be decommissioned and its uranium sent to neighboring Russia under the auspices of a new U.S. program to stem the availability of material that could be used in dirty bombs, officials said Tuesday.
Andris Salmins, director of the Latvian Radiation Safety Center, said that Latvia's Salaspils Nuclear Reactor will have its waste nuclear fuel removed as part of the US$450 million Global Threat Reduction Initiative unveiled last week in Vienna by U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham.
Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, concerns have mounted that terrorists might be trying to acquire material for a so-called dirty bomb, a device that uses conventional explosives to spread low-level radioactive material over several city blocks.
The Salaspils nuclear reactor, located 20 kilometers (12 miles) southeast of the capital, Riga, was built in 1961 during the Soviet occupation of Latvia for research into highly enriched uranium. It has never been used to generate energy.
The facility was closed in 1999 after the government decided it was obsolete, but the plant's decommissioning, including the removal of its nuclear waste, has been put off several times because of a lack of funds.
Under the U.S. plan, Salmins said Latvia will only pay a small percentage of the costs of removing the spent fuel. He said the decommissioning is expected to done by 2010.
Latvia will pay for the fuel to be stored in Latvia and then shipped to Russia. The United States will pay for the transportation of the fuel inside Russia and for its storage and recycling there.
Salmins said the complete cost of decommissioning and removing the uranium could range between US$10 million-US$20 million but said the figures were initial estimates.
1. The big clean-out ï¿½ Progress, but is it enough?
(for personal use only)
AS WEAPONS ambitions have spread from states to terrorist groups, it gets increasingly likely that nuclear materials may some day be used in some sort of bomb. In an effort to prevent this, George Bush will again be pressing his allies at next week's G8 summit to find more money for a ten-year, $20 billion project agreed two years ago to prevent nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, materials and know-how from the former Soviet Union from falling into the hands of al-Qaeda or its hangers-on. America has chipped in its $10 billion half-share, the Europeans and Japan are still $3 billion short of theirs. Given the awful cost of failure, why the delay?
Partly because Russia is being coy about letting foreigners in to secure its most sensitive sites where a lot of this material is stored. Although by the end of this year 75% of sites, it is hoped, will have had at least a quick security once-over, a Harvard study entitled ï¿½Securing the Bombï¿½, sponsored by the Nuclear Threat Initiative, points out that less than a quarter so far have had comprehensive upgrades. A plan to dispose of some 68 tonnes of plutonium from dismantled weapons, agreed in 1998, is stalled because of a dispute over who would have to pay up if some mishap occurred at the plant that is yet to be built in Russia.
Mr Bush will need to push Russia's Vladimir Putin hard at the summit to get both programmes moving faster. John Kerry, the Democratic hopeful, said this week that he would appoint a national co-ordinator to speed things up. But Russia's own priorities are dismantling elderly submarines with creaky nuclear reactors on board and disposing of the 40,000 tonnes of chemical weapons it stockpiled during the cold war. Work is going slowly on both.
Half a dozen other countries outside the G8 have already agreed to join the effort, and another clutch may sign up next week. That is not enough to declare victory, but there is progress in other areas, too. In May the Energy Department announced a $450m joint project with Russia to repatriate highly enriched uranium in fresh and spent fuel, of American and Russian origin, that languishes at 130 research reactors in 40 countries. All unused Russian-origin fresh fuel is due to be recovered by the end of next year, though it will take till 2010 to gather in the spent fuel. And governments are being encouraged to convert research reactors to low-enriched fuel.
Plenty more work remains, including installing radiation detectors to prevent theft from sites where nuclear material is still stored in Russia, and at borders and ports worldwide. Nuclear theft and trafficking, though in small quantities so far, are already common enough for the nightmare of a nuclear detonation to keep everyone awake on the job.
2. Kerry calls for program to protect nuclear fuel
San Francisco Chronicle
(for personal use only)
Declaring nuclear terrorism to be the greatest threat facing the United States, Sen. John Kerry proposed a program Tuesday to accelerate existing efforts for safeguarding the fuel used in warheads.
The program, however, would leave the United States and Russia in command of enormous nuclear arsenals. And it would not slow research at the United States' two big weapons design laboratories, Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos, which are managed by the University of California.
"Preventing nuclear terrorism is our most urgent priority to provide for America's long-term security," Kerry, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, said in a speech in Riviera Beach, Fla. The prospect of terrorists obtaining the material to build a nuclear bomb and using it was "very real indeed," he added.
The Massachusetts senator criticized the Bush administration for going too slowly in collecting weapons-grade plutonium and uranium scattered around the world from the Cold War, and said he would make the program a major national priority. Kerry said he would secure, lock away or blend down nuclear materials over a four-year period, in contrast to what he said was a 13-year program under President Bush's policies.
Richard Falkenrath, Bush's former deputy director for homeland security, disputed Kerry's critique. Bush has "pushed harder on the nonproliferation agenda than any other president," Falkenrath said.
Kerry promised to work cooperatively with U.S. allies and to prevent nuclear upstarts from developing new programs to produce warheads. Kerry also said the United States should set an example for other countries by abandoning programs the Bush administration has championed to manufacture new types of warheads for destroying deeply buried bunkers.
"These imperatives must guide us as we deal with the greatest threat we face today -- the possibility of al Qaeda or other terrorists getting their hands on a nuclear weapon," he said.
Kerry did not offer an estimate of the cost of his plans, but the United States and its allies already have agreed to spend $20 billion to secure all the warheads and nuclear weapons fuel in Russia and the former Soviet bloc states.
Kerry also failed to detail how he would prevent states like Iran and North Korea from building the ultimate weapons of mass destruction. He suggested that he would take a tough stance in dealing with those two countries, working cooperatively with allies when appropriate, but he did not explain what he would do if the countries moved forward in their weapons programs anyway, which currently appears to be the case.
Indeed, a new report by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the nuclear watchdog group at the United Nations, concludes that Iran is still manufacturing and importing parts that could be used in the making of nuclear arms.
Kerry's remarks echoed similar promises made by Bush during a speech at the National Defense University in February.
Bush proposed plugging holes in the international system for preventing the proliferation of nuclear technologies by stopping countries from obtaining the means to produce reactor fuel, toughening the inspections of nuclear facilities to ensure they are not being used for weapons activities, tightening controls on the export of components that can be used to make weapons-grade fuel and strengthening a program for intercepting suspected shipments of illicit nuclear materials.
Ashton Carter, a security adviser to Kerry and a former assistant secretary of defense for international security policy in the Clinton administration, said the Democratic candidate had no intentions of halting a program pushed by the Bush administration for building a factory to produce up to 900 plutonium cores for warheads each year.
That factory, which will cost many billions of dollars, is critical to updating the U.S. arsenal, the White House has argued, but opponents have said it would only encourage the spread of nuclear weapons and technologies.
3. Kerry Details Nuclear Material Safeguards ï¿½ He says Bush has failed to support efforts to secure arms ingredients.
Maria L. La Ganga
Los Angeles Times
(for personal use only)
Warning that "shadowy figures may someday have their finger on a nuclear button," Sen. John F. Kerry outlined a plan Tuesday that he said would make America safer by reducing terrorists' access to the components of nuclear weapons. The Massachusetts senator said the Bush administration has dragged its feet in protecting the nation from the threat of nuclear terrorism by withholding resources from existing programs designed to secure nuclear materials in the former Soviet Union.
"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," Kerry said during his 17th trip to Florida.
In addition, the presumptive Democratic nominee charged that Bush has been "fixated" on Iraq while ignoring threats elsewhere. The government has secured less bomb-making material in the two years after terrorists struck on Sept. 11, he said, than it did in the two years leading up to the attacks.
While Kerry has not put a price tag on the effort, advisors estimated the cost to be about $30 billion over four years, of which half would be paid by American allies.
Components of the plan include:
ï¿½ Safeguarding nuclear materials worldwide within four years by making the effort a cornerstone of U.S.-Russian relations.
ï¿½ Negotiating a global ban on the production of highly enriched uranium and plutonium used to create nuclear weapons.
ï¿½ Ending U.S. production of so-called bunker-busting nuclear weapons and mini-nuclear devices.
ï¿½ Making the end of North Korea's nuclear weapons program a top priority by continuing multinational negotiations.
ï¿½ Appointing a presidential coordinator to prevent nuclear terrorism.
Many of the components of his plan would simply bolster and speed existing efforts.
Republicans on Tuesday noted that the leaders of the top industrial nations ï¿½ the so-called Group of 8 which includes President Bush ï¿½ declared a year ago that weapons of mass destruction and international terrorism constitute "the preeminent threat to international security."
Rep. Porter Goss (R-Fla.) called Kerry's plan "pretty much a belated, me-too approach." In a conference call arranged by the Bush campaign, the chairman of the House Select Intelligence Committee said that the "proliferation of nuclear weapons is not a new subjectï¿½. "
But Kerry advisor Graham Allison argued Tuesday that, while the Bush administration "has learned to name a program for every problem," the president's efforts toward nuclear nonproliferation are characterized by "an absence of urgency."
"Where do we stand now as compared to where we stood when the Bush administration took office?" asked Allison, who served as assistant secretary of Defense in the first Clinton administration. "We've either been plodding along at a snail's pace or gone backward, way backward."
Kerry's address here was the second of three major policy speeches focusing on national security which he plans to deliver during an 11-day campaign swing. He kicked off the trip last week in Seattle by outlining his framework for addressing national security matters.
He is set to discuss his plan to modernize the military on Thursday in Independence, Mo.
During the Democratic primary season, Kerry spoke regularly about the need to stop U.S. efforts to build bunker-busting bombs. He also talked frequently about the need for the United States to buy up Russian stockpiles of loose nuclear materials.
Democrat John Kerry on Tuesday called nuclear terrorism "the greatest threat we face today" and said President Bush has not treated it as a priority. He pledged that as president he would eliminate or secure all unguarded nuclear material in the world within four years.
Many of Kerry's proposals would speed up, expand or intensify Bush's efforts to keep nuclear bomb-making material out of terrorists' hands.
"The question before us now is what shadowy figures may someday have their finger on a nuclear button if we don't act," Kerry said in a speech at the Port of Palm Beach.
Kerry said he would name a presidential coordinator, based in the White House, to focus on preventing nuclear terrorism. He also said he would end U.S. development of a new generation of nuclear weapons, speed up reduction of the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals, negotiate a global ban on production of material for nuclear weapons and be prepared to talk directly with North Korea about its nuclear program.
Kerry said he would stop the administration program to develop "bunker-busting" nuclear bombs. "It undermines our credibility in persuading other nations" not to develop their own nuclear weapons, he said.
Rep. Porter Goss, R-Fla., chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Kerry has "apparently been listening to President Bush." He said it was odd that Kerry did not discuss chemical and biological weapons, which are "more likely and more dangerous."
Bush's job-approval rating fell to its lowest level in May, but the public still gives him the advantage when pollsters ask which candidate could better handle the war on terror.
Kerry, a fourth-term Massachusetts senator, set a goal Tuesday of securing all nuclear weapons and materials in the former Soviet Union in four years, a task he said would take 13 years at Bush's current pace. Kerry said he would also collect all potential nuclear bomb-making materials outside the USA and Russia in the same time frame; the Bush administration last week announced similar plans with a 10-year timeline.
Kerry would augment the Nunn-Lugar program, initiated by Sens. Sam Nunn, D-Ga., and Richard Lugar, R-Ind., to prevent Russian nuclear weapons and other nuclear materials from falling into the hands of terrorists or rogue states. In the past 13 years, the program has deactivated 6,000 Russian nuclear warheads, removed nuclear weapons from Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus and found alternative jobs for 20,000 weapons scientists.
Responding to Kerry, Bush's campaign circulated a list of his accomplishments headed by ousting regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq. A year ago, Bush announced a Proliferation Security Initiative, an international coalition to stop aircraft and ships suspected of carrying material to make weapons of mass destruction. Russia joined the initiative this week.
Bush has also marshaled international support to put pressure on Iran and North Korea to halt their nuclear programs. And last fall he proposed a United Nations resolution requiring all countries to criminalize proliferation, tighten export controls and secure dangerous material.
But Kerry said the United States has "done too little, often too late, and we have even cut back our efforts" since the 9/11 attacks. As evidence, he cited a new Harvard study that found more unguarded nuclear material was secured in the two years before the attacks than in the two years after.
Kerry also pledged to break through bureaucracy he says is hampering the process in Russia. He would bring up the issue at his first summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. His advisers said Bush did not discuss it with Putin at their most recent summit last year.
Kerry adviser Graham Allison, who runs the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard, said Kerry's plans would cost about $30 billion over the four-year period.
5. Kerry Promises Speedier Efforts to Secure Nuclear Arms
New York Times
(for personal use only)
Evoking images of mushroom clouds and terrorists "with their fingers on a nuclear button,'' Senator John Kerry vowed Tuesday to significantly speed the timetable for securing the world's nuclear weapons and materials, saying it would be his No. 1 security goal if elected president.
Mr. Kerry, the presumed Democratic presidential nominee, promised to appoint a White House nonproliferation coordinator and to safeguard weapons as well as raw plutonium and uranium in Russia and 40 other countries within four years instead of the Bush administration's expected 10 to 13. He also said he would set an example by curtailing United States production of nuclear weapons; engage in bilateral talks with North Korea; and call Iran's "bluff" by corralling allies into offering it nuclear fuel for peaceful purposes in exchange for spent fuel that could be turned into bombs.
"The world has changed, and the war has changed, the enemy is different, and we must think and act anew," Mr. Kerry told about 200 people sweltering in 90-degree sunshine here at the Port of Palm Beach. "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 and make America truer to our ideals."
The 35-minute speech, layered with lofty language about the legacies of Presidents Harry S. Truman and John F. Kennedy, was the second of four that Mr. Kerry plans during an 11-day focus on national security he began Thursday in Seattle. Calling the nexus of nuclear weapons and terrorism "our most urgent priority in providing for America's long-term security," he turned the focus from Iraq to an issue that has not been central to campaigns since the Cold War ended.
It came one day after Russia agreed to join 15 founding nations in signing the Proliferation Security Initiative, which President Bush proposed last May to increase interdiction of ships and aircraft carrying components of unconventional weapons.
Richard Falkenrath, a proliferation expert who left his post as deputy assistant to President Bush only two weeks ago, denounced Mr. Kerry's speech as "me-too-ism" filled with "hollow promises and empty rhetoric." Mr. Kerry's timetable is unrealistic, he said, arguing that the easiest of Russia's hundreds of nuclear sites had been secured under the first President Bush and President Bill Clinton, and that those remaining involve more complex bureaucratic challenges.
"It's simply a preposterous claim for anyone to be able to say that the American government could compel the Russian government to transfer its nuclear materials from one facility to another - no amount of bribery or coercion or arm-twisting could ensure that," Mr. Falkenrath said in an interview. "Senator Kerry suggests there's some magic wand he can wave to make this move faster. There is none. We're making progress where progress is possible."
In a conference call arranged by the Bush campaign, Senator Saxby Chambliss, Republican of Georgia, said it was a mistake to make nuclear materials, rather than terrorists, the top priority.
"As long as you have terrorists out there, there are going to be weapons that are available to those terrorists," Mr. Chambliss said, adding later that Osama bin Laden's ability to hide underground was a good reason to keep developing bunker-busting nuclear weapons. "So the No. 1 goal, frankly, is to eliminate the terrorists. Weapons of mass destruction mean nothing without terrorists."
In contrast, Mr. Kerry said in his speech, "Remember, no material, no bomb, no nuclear terrorism."
A 20-year veteran of the Senate's foreign relations committee, Mr. Kerry spoke here at the nation's 18th busiest commercial port, in front of a massive cargo ship piled with colorful containers, an American flag tacked on its port side for the occasion. It was his ninth day in the critical electoral battleground of Florida over the past three months, part of his 17th visit since beginning his presidential bid; Mr. Bush has returned to the state that handed him the White House 21 times since his election.
Mr. Kerry argued that the Bush administrations has been preoccupied with Iraq, leaving other problems unchecked. His aides cited an Energy Department study showing that security was upgraded for just 7 percent of the 600 tons of nuclear material in the former Soviet Union in the two years following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, compared with 9 percent of that material in the two years before.
"Since that dark day in September, have we done everything that we could to secure these dangerous weapons and bomb making materials?" Mr. Kerry asked. "Have we taken every step that we should to stop North Korea and Iran's nuclear programs? Have we reached out to our allies and forged an urgent global effort to ensure that nuclear weapons and materials are in fact secure?"
From the crowd, some of whom had fashioned three-cornered hats out of newspapers to shield heads from the heat, came cries of "No!"
"The honest answer in each of these areas is that we have done too little, often too late, and we have even cut back on our efforts or turned away from the single greatest threat that we face in the world today, a terrorist armed with nuclear weapons," Mr. Kerry continued. "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."
James P. Rubin, a senior Kerry aide on foreign policy, said he was unsure what it would cost to secure the world's nuclear weapons in 4 years rather than 13, but that it was a "doable task" that relied principally on the commitment of a president.
"Mostly it is not a money problem, mostly it is a question of whether an administration's leadership has decided to overcome the bureaucratic obstacles to put it on the agenda," Mr. Rubin said, suggesting that a White House coordinator - similar to ones for drugs or terrorism - would underline its importance. "If there are additional funds necessary, Senator Kerry is going to find ways to pay for them."
6. Kerry says he'd secure nuclear materials ï¿½ Effort seen costing at least $30 billion
(for personal use only)
Senator John F. Kerry yesterday promised to ''lock up" the world's unsecured stockpiles of enriched uranium and plutonium by the end of 2008 to prevent Al Qaeda and other terrorist networks from obtaining the material to build a nuclear weapon.
Kerry, in the second of a cross-country series of speeches linking national security concerns to the latest mantra of his presidential campaign, ''a stronger America," signaled he would emphasize speed and farsightedness in dealing with nuclear terrorism, which he grimly described as the greatest threat to Americans since the end of the Cold War.
Within four years, he said, his administration would locate and secure nuclear material in Russia, the former Soviet states, Pakistan, and other countries, as well as remove highly enriched uranium from more than 130 research reactors in more than 40 countries that could be used to make nuclear bombs. Under current administration timetables, Kerry said, it would take 13 and 10 years, respectively, to accomplish both goals.
''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," Kerry told 300 invited guests on the docks of the Port of Palm Beach. ''The question before us now, is what shadowy figures may someday have their finger on the nuclear button if we don't act."
Setting up a potential confrontation with the Russians, Kerry also said that at his first summit with the Russian president he would seek a pact on securing the former Soviet stockpiles -- a highly controversial process for Russian officials wary of such intrusive US actions, and one that has been mired by bureaucracy.
The presumptive Democratic nominee also pledged to appoint a national coordinator on nuclear terrorism and counterproliferation, who would work in the White House and immediately ask United Nations Security Council members to stop producing nuclear material and join negotiations on a Kerry-led global ban on weapons-grade uranium and plutonium.
While Kerry did not mention budget estimates for his plans yesterday, senior adviser Graham Allison -- a Harvard University professor who is a likely choice for the proposed counterproliferation coordinator job -- said it would cost between $30 billion and $50 billion over four years to secure nuclear materials and achieve Kerry's other aims.
While chemical and biological weapons can be created in any number of legal and relatively easy ways, Kerry and his national security team described halting nuclear terrorism as ''a doable task," in the words of one senior adviser, because fissile material is difficult to produce and nations can be prodded to stop generating it.
''No material, no bomb," Kerry remarked at two different points in his speech.
As a 19-year member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the author of the book ''The New War," which was hailed by some foreign policy specialists for its assessment about future security threats, Kerry has chosen to underscore nuclear terrorism not only because of the danger -- given Al Qaeda's stated interest in acquiring the bomb -- but also to appear in command of a range of current and potential threats while portraying Bush as bogged down in Iraq.
As Kerry spoke, a cargo tanker floating 50 yards offshore, loaded with enormous, unmarked containers, evoked Kerry's concern that only a fraction of such shipments are thoroughly searched. Kerry took President Bush to task, accusing him of not facing up to such growing threats as unchecked nuclear programs in North Korea, Iran, and Pakistan, while remaining ''fixated on Iraq."
Kerry blasted the Bush administration for ''underfunding" the Nunn-Lugar federal program to secure loose nuclear weapons and material, and said the president's efforts had resulted in the United States securing ''less bomb making material in the two years after 9/11 than we had in the two years before."
''We actually tried to get more money for [Nunn-Lugar], and they said no," Kerry said. ''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."
Bush's reelection campaign responded to the Kerry speech with unusual aggressiveness yesterday, marshaling three Republican security specialists for a conference call with reporters and supplying documents in defense of the administration's record on fighting proliferation -- such as Libya's voluntary decision to give up weapons programs -- and targeting terrorists.
''The elimination of weapons of mass destruction is nothing without the elimination of terrorists," said Senator Saxby Chambliss, Republican of Georgia.
US Representative Porter Goss, Republican of Florida, described Kerry's plan as a ''belated me-too approach" that largely mimicked plans of the Bush administration or was unworkable.
''I think it's unrealistic and perhaps dangerously naive to suggest we're going to get all the nukes in a lockbox," said Goss, who is chairman of the House Select Intelligence Committee. ''The effort is worthwhile but we're never going to get 100 percent."
7. Kerry Will Target Threat of Weapons ï¿½ The Democrat plans to outline a policy to help keep mass-destruction devices out of terrorists' hands, contrasting his approach with Bush's
Los Angeles Times
(for personal use only)
Sen. John F. Kerry, who has struggled to lay out a distinctive policy for Iraq, will attempt this week to draw a compelling contrast with President Bush on another pressing national security issue: reducing the chance that terrorists can obtain chemical, biological or nuclear weapons.
Kerry plans to deliver an address in Florida today outlining what advisors say is a more aggressive policy for finding, securing and destroying such weapons that could threaten the safety of the United States.
The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee will argue that even a relatively nominal increase in the U.S.' annual investment of less than $1 billion would reap enormous security benefits, according to experts who have been advising Kerry on the issue.
That money would be used to secure weapons and dangerous materials that often go lightly guarded in Russia and other states that made up the Soviet Union ï¿½ efforts collectively known as "cooperative threat reduction."
The Massachusetts senator also will call for a high-level presidential appointee to lead the threat reduction push, for more police and firefighters to beef up the ranks of "first responders" to any mass attack in the U.S., and for revamped diplomacy in Iran and North Korea to slow nuclear programs in those nations.
Kerry has previously proposed significantly accelerating the time frame for securing "loose" nuclear materials that the Russians had agreed to store or eliminate. He wants those efforts accomplished within four years, instead of the 13 years projected in one recent study.
With his speech today, Kerry is pursuing a goal he has touched upon in past remarks: elevating weapons nonproliferation "to the top of the global agenda."
Arms control advocates and Democratic strategists believe the threat reduction issue could have particular resonance with voters because of a combination of factors: uncertainty over whether the Iraq war has helped or hurt security at home, continuing reports that weapons of mass destruction remain relatively unprotected in many nations, and new warnings that terrorists may try to attack America this summer.
The Bush administration tried to slow or eliminate several cooperative arms reduction projects before Sept. 11, 2001, amid complaints that the Russians were not doing their share. But the president shifted course after the terrorist attacks.
In the summer of 2002, he pledged $10 billion over 10 years to a global partnership for rooting out weapons of mass destruction, with other Western nations committing another $10 billion.
Also under his watch, the longtime rogue state of Libya agreed to eliminate its development of nuclear weapons.
Last week, the Bush administration pushed ahead on another delayed cooperative measure. The Energy Department said it would undertake a $450-million campaign to retrieve nuclear materials that the U.S. and former Soviet Union sent to more than 100 nations for use in research reactors.
The nonproliferation subject appears to be of no small concern to many voters.
Since the Sept. 11 attacks, Americans have listed "preventing the spread of nuclear weapons" as a top foreign policy concern, just below "fighting international terrorism," according to surveys by the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations.
Steven Kull, director of the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, said Kerry's argument that more emphasis was needed on cooperative weapons reduction could find a receptive audience. In surveys Kull has conducted, a solid majority of Americans said they thought Bush had not worked closely enough with other nations on the issue.
But Ed Goeas, a Republican pollster, said it was Kerry who had a credibility problem on national security issues.
"Every time he brings up something like this to criticize something Bush has ï¿½ done, the real question is: 'What have you been doing the last 20 years as a senator?' " Goeas said.
GOP political strategist Eddie Mahe Jr. questioned how big a role the threat reduction issue would play in the campaign. "I don't think you are going to find people who are going to focus on that to make their decision about a president," Mahe said.
Experts have been calling for years on America and other nations to work harder to eliminate weapons that could be destructive to all ï¿½ recommendations that increased after 9/11.
Toward the end of the administration of President Clinton, a bi-partisan commission co-chaired by former Republican Sen. Howard H. Baker Jr. of Tennessee recommended that the U.S. increase its annual investment in multinational arms reduction programs from less than $1 billion a year to $3 billion. Under Bush, expenditures have remained relatively flat.
Last week, a study by Harvard's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs concluded less nuclear material had been secured since Sept. 11 than in the two years before the terrorist attacks.
In addition, key programs to reduce the nuclear threat have stalled. The U.S. and Russia had agreed to eliminate 68 tons of plutonium that both stockpiled during the Cold War.
Like enriched uranium, plutonium can be used to make atomic weapons.
The program has been held up because of a disagreement between the Bush administration and Russian leaders over who should assume liability in the case of an accident or sabotage at Russian arms centers.
Many arms control advocates say the U.S. should drop its insistence that the Russians assume blanket liability, because of the urgency of removing plutonium that is vulnerable to terrorists.
Similarly, fences and electronic sensors and other "quick-fix" materials ï¿½ which could protect dozens of Russian arms sites ï¿½ have remained in warehouses while the two nations feud over how much access American contractors should have to the facilities.
The Bush administration "has spent billions looking for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq," said Paul Walker, who heads the U.S. chapter of an organization founded by former Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev to reduce weapons threats.
"We have been telling them we know where the weapons are. We just need the political leadership and the money and we can go get them," Walker said.
Matthew Bunn, a nuclear expert at the Belfer Center, said that under Bush, "You have had an almost complete lack of attention from the presidential level [on threat reduction], and so summit after summit after summit [with Russian President Vladimir V. Putin] has gone by without making any progress on these issues."
Although he once worked on a science advisory panel in the Clinton administration, Bunn once also criticized Clinton for not doing enough to advance cooperative threat reduction.
"Both the successes and failures in this field have been completely bipartisan," he said.
All sides agree that the effects of a terrorist attack could be fearsome: A relatively small 10-kiloton nuclear bomb exploded in central New York City would kill half a million people and cause an estimated $1 trillion in economic losses.
Against the backdrop of that threat, Kerry is expected to argue that increasing the less than $1-billion national investment in nonproliferation projects is a small price to pay when contrasted with well over $100 billion in spending in Iraq and a defense budget of $402 billion a year.
The presidential-level envoy he will propose would be responsible for better coordinating programs internally ï¿½ making sure that efforts by the departments of Defense, Energy and State do not languish ï¿½ and assuring that lines of communication with Putin are open, so that technical disputes can be resolved more quickly.
Kerry will note the increasing danger from the Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs since Bush took office ï¿½ claiming that the president's unbending stance toward North Korea had left leader Kim Jong Il believing he had to speed up the nation's nuclear program.
Kerry will deliver his speech today in West Palm Beach, Fla., a port city, to spotlight the continuing threat of weapons delivered in shipboard containers. He will probably repeat a call for the installation of sensors in shipping containers, only 4% of which are inspected before they enter the U.S.
The candidate also is expected to criticize the administration over the findings of a General Accounting Office study, released in late April, that concluded nuclear weapon storage sites in the U.S. were vulnerable to terrorists.
Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham responded with a plan for security upgrades, but Kerry has called that too little, too late.
Although Kerry's shopping list of protective measures could become expensive, he has not yet said how he would pay for the improvements.
That could be one line of response for Bush and his surrogates.
The GOP campaign also will probably argue that Bush has been leading the world's efforts to reduce weapons of mass destruction, particularly with the 2002 agreement he helped forge with the leaders of other Western industrial nations to form the $20-billion, 10-year "global partnership" to reduce weapons of mass destruction.
Although Kerry has tried to minimize credit to Bush for the dismantling of Libya's nuclear program, the president's reelection team will cite that as another key victory.
Russia has announced that it will join the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) advanced by George Bush in Poland a year ago.
According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, "The initiative is designed to identify, stop and preclude the illegal circulation and transborder movement of weapons and materials of mass destruction and their delivery vehicles, including the black market for such materials." Importantly, Russia views the Bush initiative as contributing to rather than detracting from the existing non-proliferation mechanisms. In other words, the PSI is an instrument of ensuring, including with the use of force, the non-proliferation regime on the basis of existing international treaties.
This raises new issues concerning the implementation of the new project and old ones, in particular related to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
So, the PSI is designed to "identify, stop and preclude." To believe the statement Bush made last year, the US plans to intercept ships and aircraft which, as the US security services suspect, may be carrying WMDs and their component parts. However, under international law, ships and aircraft are the national territory of the concerned state. Entering it calls for a number of generally accepted procedures, such as border and customs control.
And what about the word "intercept"? Should it be interpreted as a purely military term, which entails forcing a plane to land and destroying it if it refuses to comply? Or does it mean inspection, which should be also carried out in compliance with the relevant provisions of international law? And what if a warship or a military transport plane is suspected of carrying a prohibited cargo?
In other words, we need a comprehensive legal evaluation of the PSI provisions to exclude interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states and provocation of an armed conflict - actions that are incompatible with current international norms.
Moscow has not missed this problem. "Russia plans to contribute to the implementation of the PSI with due consideration for the requirements of the compatibility of such actions with the norms of international law, national legislation and non-proliferation interests of the partners," says the statement of the Russian Foreign Ministry.
The appearance of this new mechanism of WMDs proliferation control is connected with a very delicate situation. The WMDs non-proliferation rules and principles are sealed in international treaties and conventions, with the 1970 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as the key instrument. If it is still applicable and effective, the new initiative will become a reliable instrument of precluding violations of the treaty.
But the trouble is that the main anti-nuclear treaty signed by 190 countries is no longer effective. This alarming statement was made by IAEA Director General Dr Mohamed El Baradei. "Black holes" were found in the treaty several years ago, which created a legal precedent with negative practical consequences. The thing in question are the two countries that have not signed it, India and Pakistan.
Technologically (and hence politically and militarily), they are nuclear powers and have more than once asked to be given this status. If it were granted to them, this would automatically increase the standards of control over the growing military and civilian nuclear programmes of the said countries, with strictly regulated interstate contacts in the related sphere.
Many countries think that granting the two countries' applications would amount to pandering to their "nuclear impertinence" and creating a dangerous precedent. On the other hand, leaving everything as it is would mean preserving the legal "black holes." Besides, Israel does not admit to having nuclear weapons, but neither does it deny that it "may have" them.
The Bush initiative can be viewed as a manoeuvre launched to bypass the NPT or as an attempt to solve the above legal problem. On the other hand, in modern conditions the NPT should include a universally binding system of export control over nuclear materials. Any violation of this system, as well as assistance in the proliferation of nuclear materials, should be defined as a crime. If the events take this road, the PSI will play a truly vital role in stopping the proliferation of WMDs across the planet without infringing on the national sovereignty and the growing economic capabilities of states.
2. Russia Says it Will Join US Proliferation Security Initiative
Voice of America
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Russia has announced it will join the U.S. Proliferation Security Initiative that is aimed at combating the spread of materials that can be used to make weapons of mass destruction. Moscow has had some concerns about various aspects of the program and even now its support is not unconditional.
Russia's decision to join the core group of P.S.I. countries came as officials from up to 80 nations gathered in Krakow, Poland, on the first anniversary of a speech by President Bush, which launched the initiative.
The meeting was called to discuss ways to implement the initiative, which allows for the seizure of missiles or components that could be used to make weapons of mass destruction.
Moscow had long resisted calls to agree to the initiative, expressing concerns that it would allow the United States to take unilateral military action such as boarding ships at sea.
The P.S.I. calls for its signatory nations to use existing laws and treaties to stop the spread of missiles and weapons parts by boarding suspect ships, raiding factories and asking states to stop suspect flights from entering their airspace.
But Russia's agreement to become the 15th country to join the Proliferation Security Initiative appears to indicate a breakthrough in negotiations over how to implement the P.S.I., according to Danil Kobyakov, an analyst and researcher at the Center for Policy Studies in Moscow.
ï¿½Russia wanted to insure that its participation in this initiative will basically conform to all of these things and I think it was a process of finding common ground, which took place,ï¿½ he said.
Mr. Kobyakov said that Moscow's agreement likely was due in part to the fact that the P.S.I. is not a formal treaty and that it evidently had received assurances about its concerns.
Also, says Mr. Kobyakov, the Foreign Ministry's statement announcing Russia's intention to join the P.S.I. was not unconditional because Russia sees the initiative as, in its words, a supplement rather than the replacement to existing non-proliferation mechanisms.
He says this, in part, reflects Moscow's desire to see the United Nations continue to play a role in halting the spread of nuclear and other dangerous materials.
Mr. Kobyakov says Russia may also have timed its announcement to coincide with next week's meeting of the Group of Eight major industrialized nations in the United States, where the P.S.I. is expected to form a key topic of discussion. Russian President Vladimir Putin is to attend that meeting.
The risk of somebody somewhere triggering a radioactive "dirty bomb" is growing, evidence gathered by the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency suggests.
The IAEA's records, which it has released to New Scientist, show a dramatic rise in the level of smuggling of radiological materials, defined as radioactive sources that could be used in dirty bombs but not nuclear bombs.
In 1996 there were just eight of these incidents but last year there were 51. Most cases are believed to have occurred in Russia and elsewhere in Europe. Smugglers target the radioactive materials used in factories, hospitals and research laboratories, which are not guarded as securely as those used by the nuclear industry.
Since 1993, there have been 300 confirmed cases of illicit trafficking in radiological materials, 215 of them in the past five years. And the IAEA warns that the real level of smuggling may well be significantly larger, citing reports of a further 344 instances over the past 11 years which have not been confirmed by any of the 75 states that monitor illicit trafficking.
A dirty bomb is designed to spread radioactive material over a large area by combining radioactive material with a conventional explosive. It does not involve a nuclear explosion and would be unlikely to result in many immediate deaths, but it could provoke widespread panic and render buildings in the affected area unusable.
A terrorist attack using a dirty bomb is "a nightmare waiting to happen", says Frank Barnaby, a nuclear consultant who used to work at the UK's atomic weapons plant in Aldermaston in Berkshire. "I'm amazed that it hasn't happened already."
Sterilisers and irradiators
Preventing nuclear materials falling into the wrong hands is a huge problem. Over the past 50 years, millions of radiation sources have been used around the world for industrial, medical and research purposes. Most of them are only weakly radioactive.
But according to the IAEA there are more than 10,000 sources designed for radiotherapy, each containing 1000 pellets of cobalt-60. Each pellet emits 100 gigabecquerels of radioactivity, enough to put somebody over their annual safety limit in two minutes. There are also tens of thousands of large radiation sources used by industry as gauges, sterilisers and metal irradiators. The IAEA has expressed particular concern about the security of hundreds of thermo-generators made in Russia and the US, in which the heat produced by radioactive decay drives a generator to provide power in remote areas. Just one of them can contain as much strontium-90 as was released by the notorious Chernobyl accident in 1986.
The IAEA's smuggling figures do not include radiation sources that have simply gone missing. An average of one a day is reported to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission as lost, stolen or abandoned.
The IAEA says there are still 1000 radioactive sources unaccounted for in Iraq. And of 25 sources stolen from the Krakatau steel company in Indonesia in October 2000, only three have been recovered.
In Tbilisi, Georgia, a taxi driver, Tedo Makeria, stopped by police in May 2003 was found to be carrying lead-lined boxes containing strontium-90 and caesium-137. And in Belarus customs officials have seized 26 radioactive cargoes between 1996 and 2003, six of them from Russia.
The only two known incidents that could be classed as radiological terrorism have occurred in Russia. In 1995 Chechen rebels buried a caesium-137 source in Izmailovsky Park in Moscow, and in 1998 a container of radioactive materials attached to a mine was found by a railway line near Argun in Chechnya.
One brighter spot is that there has been a fall in smuggling incidents involving plutonium and uranium, which could be used to make nuclear bombs. In 1992, 44 such incidents were recorded. By last year the figure had fallen to three, possibly because the nuclear industry has become more vigilant.
The increase in the number of confirmed incidents of theft and smuggling of radioactive material might be due, at least in part, to better monitoring. Nevertheless, powerful voices continue to warn of the threat of a dirty bomb attack.
In 2003, Eliza Manningham-Buller, director-general of the UK's counter-intelligence agency MI5, said a crude attack against a major western city was "only a matter of time".
1. Railroad train-based missile system dismantled in Bryansk
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The Central Repair Plant of the Strategic Missile Forces in the western Russian town of Bryansk will complete the dismantling of another railroad-carried missile launching system on Friday, a source in the Russian Defense Ministry told Interfax.
Launching systems are being destroyed in line with the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty under the supervision of a U.S. inspection team, he said.
This will be the 13th system destroyed since early 2002, the source said.
Strategic Missile Force commanders intend to keep some of the systems in service until 2006.
According to unclassified reports, each railroad-carried system includes three launching installations of RT-23UTTKh Molodets (SS-24 Scalpel by NATO classification) missiles, a command post and flat-cars. The launcher flatcar has a retractable lid and a unit for moving away the overhead feeder cables. Missiles can be launched either from stationary positions or while the train is moving.
When they converge on Sea Island next week, the leaders of the Group of Eight industrialized nations can make a substantial contribution to the fight against terrorism involving weapons of mass destruction. Whether they do so will depend on their willingness to set aside personal grudges and lingering tensions over Iraq to fashion a carrot-and-stick diplomacy.
This diplomacy should have rewards sweet enough and blows painful enough to induce a change of behavior in foreign governments. The targets? Governments such as those of Iran and North Korea that abet the proliferation of materials and technology used to build nuclear, biological and chemical weaponry. North Korea has shown that incentives for good behavior don't always work ï¿½ but a mix of incentives and coercion might.
It won't be easy for the Bush administration to rally the G-8. Still, the heads of state are acutely aware that their countries are the primary targets of catastrophic terror. Second, the existing array of nonproliferation accords and institutions has faltered badly in recent years. The international community is casting around for some way to shore up the nonproliferation regime. The G-8 might fit the bill.
Third, world opinion has coalesced around the idea that WMD-armed terrorists pose the greatest security threat of our age. In April the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 1540, which calls on U.N. members to take stern measures against proliferation, such as upgrading export control laws and regulations, securing borders against unlawful imports and exports and enhancing law enforcement.
Resolution 1540, binding on all U.N. member states, represents the international community's first major effort to curb the supply side of the proliferation equation. And it provides a solid foundation on which the G-8 can build.
How might a G-8 carrot-and-stick diplomacy work? Consider the case of Moammar Gadhafi's Libya, which startled the world last winter by renouncing its unconventional weapons programs. Gadhafi realized it doesn't pay to field WMD at the cost of impoverishing his country, and a multinational sting operation exposed his nuclear weapons ambitions.
At a minimum, the G-8 should praise Tripoli for abandoning its weapons programs and offer to invest in improvements to Libyan infrastructure and education. The G-8 should also create a fund to help Tripoli dismantle its bomb-making infrastructure, much as the United States did in Russia after the Cold War.
So much for the carrots. The G-8 should also throw its support behind the Proliferation Security Initiative, a multinational effort to interrupt weapons-related shipments on land, at sea and aloft. A PSI operation last fall intercepted a shipment of gas centrifuges ï¿½ a key building block for nuclear weapons ï¿½ in route to Libya. This undoubtedly played a central, perhaps decisive, role in Gadhafi's change of heart.
Russia signed on to the PSI this week, meaning that all the G-8 countries are now members of the initiative. It's an auspicious moment for the G-8 to undertake a concerted effort to assemble more support for the PSI. This would plug a gap in Resolution 1540, which for political reasons ï¿½ namely resistance from China, a veto-wielding member of the Security Council ï¿½ did not endorse the initiative.
If the G-8 nations take the lead, the PSI will gain the legitimacy it needs to win the formal blessing of the Security Council. They should deploy this stick alongside the carrots that only the world's leading market democracies can provide.
When the leaders of the world's eight largest industrial nations meet at Sea Island starting Tuesday, the war in Iraq will likely top the agenda, experts said.
After months of fighting and hundreds of American and Iraqi casualties, and the scandal of inmate torture at the American-run Abu Ghraib prison, President Bush wants to use the G-8 summit on the Georgia coast as a way to bolster support for his Middle East strategy.
Other issues that could be broached by Bush and the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United Kingdom include defending against terrorist attacks on airplanes and mass-transit systems and reducing the spread of weapons of mass destruction to North Korea and other rogue nations.
The G-8 summit has historically been a way for the world's leaders to have closed-door discussions on serious topics, said Gary Bertsch, director of the University of Georgia's Center for International Trade and Security.
"There will be photo-ops when they get off the plane, but most of their time is spent in private conversation," Bertsch said. "A lot of time is really spent putting these eight guys at the table, and a lot of high-level business gets conducted."
However, the short period scheduled for this year's G-8 summit, plus a previously scheduled event with leaders from five African, Asian and Middle East nations, could make it difficult to find time for meaningful discussion on Iraq, said John Kirton, director of the G-8 Research Group at the University of Toronto.
"These sessions and guest lists leave very little time for the G-8 leaders to go beyond what their ministers have already decided on their behalf," Kirton said.
Bush invited the leaders of Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Jordan and Yemen to meet with him and other G-8 leaders at Sea Island next week.
While Bush is looking for support for his Iraq agenda, there are many others, some with a great deal of influence, others with very little, who'd like to see their own issues brought up at the G-8 summit.
Former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Ga., a Perry native, this week said the top item on the G-8 agenda should be slowing the spread and manufacture of weapons of mass destruction. But since the 2002 G-8 summit in Canada, when the leaders agreed to help Russia inventory and destroy its biological, chemical and nuclear weapons stockpiles, the financial pledge of $20 billion made to slow the dispersion of weapons of mass destruction has been delayed.
"(Russian President Vladimir) Putin and Bush must, and the leadership of the G-8 must, work strenuously to deliver on these commitments," Nunn said May 26, speaking on behalf of the Strengthening the Global Partnership project.
However, because of the controversy surrounding the war in Iraq, it's unlikely the issue of weapons of mass destruction will get adequate time next week, Bertsch said.
"One of the sad things about this G-8 summit is that the Iraq and Middle East issues will push the WMD issue to the margin," Bertsch said. "But it's an opportunity for Bush at Sea Island to say we've got to do more, we can't pay for it all ourselves. He's got to get more countries to invest in these programs to promote security and safety."
For many of the thousands of protestors that will descend upon the Georgia coast next week, their wish list of issues doesn't include weapons of mass destruction, the war in Iraq or global terrorism.
Instead, the Washington-based Jubilee USA Network, which plans to stage protests on the Georgia coast next week, would like to see Bush and his fellow G-8 leaders discuss the possibility of wealthy nations cancelling the debt of poor nations.
The Savannah-based Labor and Action Research Project, which is demonstrating in Savannah's Forsyth Park next week, wants the G-8 leaders to consider "unanswered questions" about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon and police brutality.
Greenpeace, the environmental-conservation group, will hold rallies on the future of the Savannah River Site nuclear-weapons facility.
And the Georgia chapter of the Sierra Club plans to demonstrate alternative fuels in Brunswick and Savannah.
3. Russia to Call at G-8 Summit for Increased Commitment to Nonproliferation Effort, Russian Expert Says
Global Security Newswire
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Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to call on the other leaders of the Group of Eight global economic powers next week to strengthen their commitment to an initiative launched in 2002 to fund nonproliferation projects, a Russian analyst said yesterday (see GSN, April 27).
In 2002, the G-8 launched the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction. Under the effort, the G-8 countries ï¿½ Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States ï¿½ agreed to pledge $20 billion over 10 years, primarily for projects in Russia. To date, however, only a small portion of the pledged funding has gone to actual nonproliferation work within Russia, said Daniil Kobyakov of the PIR Center in Moscow. He also said that a large portion of the funding has gone to foreign rather than Russian subcontractors and that there is a lack of proper auditing for the projects.
The G-8 summit begins Monday on Sea Island, Ga. (Vladimir Isachenkov, Associated Press, June 2).
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in the course of an official visit to Norway beginning today, will hold talks with Norway's Foreign Minister Jan Peterson, and be also received by Prime Minister Kjelle Magne Bondevik.
Alexander Yakovenko, an official Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, said in an interview that during the visit special attention would be paid to Russian-Norwegian trade, economic and investment cooperation.
The Russian minister will visit major Norwegian concerns Hydro (oil production) and Telenor (telecommunications).
Ahead of the Russian minister's visit, Norwegian ambassador Oyvind Nordsletten told RIA Novosti that Norway had things to offer to Russia in offshore oil production. He said his country had extensive experience and offshore drilling techniques to be shared.
Besides, the two sides had good cooperation prospects in telecommunications, the ambassador added.
Moscow plans to discuss a possible further increase in trade turnover between the two countries, which in 2003 reached a record $1.2 billion.
The meetings in Oslo will also deal with boosting Norwegian investments in the Russian economy.
Yakovenko said that the upcoming negotiations would examine a number of current aspects of bilateral relations, in particular delimitation of sea expanses in the Barents Sea.
The sides will also consider bilateral cooperation in nature protection. Here, Moscow and Oslo have a common interest in ensuring nuclear and radiation safety in the North, and implementation of the agreement on the MNEPR (Multilateral Nuclear Environmental Programme in the Russian Federation).
Norway has allocated 10 million euros for recycling two decommissioned nuclear submarines from Russia's Northern Fleet. At the moment the Norwegian side is considering issuing additional sums for this project.
Nor will the sides neglect the international situation. Moscow believes that Norway's current rotating presidency of the Council of Europe and of the Barents/Euro-Arctic Council opens up big opportunities for coordination of the two countries' efforts.
At Oslo talks the sides will also discuss such topics as the fight against international terrorism, the situations in Iraq and in Afghanistan, Middle East settlement, and evolution of the European security system.
At a meeting in Tashkent to prepare for a Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit, SCO security council secretaries agreed to meet regularly. The SCO includes Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
Russian Security Council Secretary Igor Ivanov told reporters Friday that at the meeting the sides exchanged views on urgent issues in the development of the situation in the SCO space and in the adjacent regions from the point of view of international and regional security.
In this light they considered the most important issues of consolidating cooperation between the SCO member-countries in the sphere of the fight against international terrorism, separatism and extremism, illegal drug trafficking, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, mercenaries and other threats to regional and global security and stability.
The secretaries expressed a common opinion on the necessity for the SCO to cooperate with other authoritative international organizations and states.
(On April 25, 1996, during Russian President Boris Yeltsin's visit to China, the Chinese Chairman Jiang Zemin, Mr. Yeltsin, President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan, President Askar Akayev of Kyrgyzstan and President Emomali Rakhmonov of Tajikistan met in Shanghai and signed the Agreement Between the People's Republic of China, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic and the Republic of Tajikistan on Confidence Building Measures in the Military Sphere on Border Regions. This agreement marked the beginning of the formation of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
On July 5, 2000, the heads of the five countries signed the Dushanbe Declaration and unanimously said that the meeting in Dushanbe would be a good beginning for cooperation between the five countries in the new century. They said that the process of developing the Shanghai Group of Five Countries had reflected the bright possibilities of the epoch: "honest mutual confidence, equality and mutual advantage, unity and cooperation and common development." They also said that they had gotten important experience in the search for new forms of interstate relations, new views on security and models of regional cooperation.
On June 15, 2001, the leaders of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan met in Shanghai, admitted Uzbekistan into the organization and signed a declaration on the foundation of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.)
1. More possibly bomb-grade highly enriched uranium found in Iran: IAEA
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United Nations nuclear inspectors have found more traces in Iran of highly enriched uranium that could be bomb-grade, the UN atomic energy agency said, ahead of a meeting on US allegations that Tehran is secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons.
Iran has also admitted to importing parts for sophisticated P-2 centrifuges, which can enrich uranium to bomb-grade levels, going back on claims that it had made the parts domestically, according to a confidential report by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Mohamed ElBaradei, which was obtained by AFP.
And while Iran has insisted its P-2 is a research program, the IAEA said Iran had asked through a European intermediary about the possibility of buying 4,000 special magnets, or enough for 2,000 centrifuges.
Nuclear expert David Albright told AFP from Washington that Iran's "centrifuge story just doesn't hold up".
He said the numbers made it look like Iran rather than doing research was seeking "to go into serial production." Highly enriched uranium (HEU) can be nuclear fuel or the explosive in an atom bomb.
Particles of 36-percent HEU found at Farayand, a new site after IAEA inspectors had last year detected such particles at the Kalaye Electric Company in Tehran, leave the IAEA unable to confirm Iran's claims the contamination was from imported equipment, probably from Pakistan, rather than a sign the Iranians may have been trying to enrich uranium on their own.
"This means they're probably lying about the origin of that 36 percent enriched uranium," a Western diplomat close to the IAEA said.
"Obviously they either imported the enriched uranium from abroad or it originated in their own enrichment," the diplomat said, mentioning that the HEU might be from a Russian research reactor.
The United States renewed accusations that Iran is secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons after the IAEA revelations.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Washington's view was "borne out by the facts."
Iran must clear up these questions about uranium contamination and centrifuges if the international community is to believe Iran's claims its nuclear program is strictly peaceful, the IAEA said ahead of a June 14 meeting of its 35-nation board of governors.
The United States has called for the IAEA, which has been investigating the Iranian program since February 2003 after being alerted to it in August 2002, to refer the Islamic Republic to the UN Security Council for possible international sanctions.
But ElBaradei told a NATO meeting in the Slovak capital Bratislava Tuesday "the jury is still out" on Iran's nuclear program.
He said there was at this time "no evidence that the Iranian program has some military dimension."
Diplomats said the IAEA will not be able to reach a decision on Iran in June since Tehran has delayed inspections and only last month submitted a report on its program which the agency will need months to evaluate.
ElBaradei's report praised the Iranians for "cooperating in providing access to locations in response to agency requests, including workshops situated at military sites."
But the report also said that three workshops in Iran are continuing to produce centrifuge components despite Tehran's claim that it has suspended uranium enrichment and related activities.
Iran has said that it had suspended production of centrifuge components as of April 9 as a confidence-building measure with the international community.
But Iran is determined to resume production of uranium hexafluoride (UF6), a feed material for enriching uranium, the report said.
"The Iranians don't seem to be taking suspension seriously," Albright said.
Iran had agreed to the suspension last October in striking an agreement on cooperation with the European big three -- Britain, France and Germany.
Albright said that if Iran "continues to embarrass" these countries by hiding aspects of its program, Tehran may lose their support, and perhaps by December be taken to the Security Council by the IAEA board.
1. North Korea has the right for peaceful nuclear programme - Trubnikov
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North Koreaï¿½s has the right to retain its nuclear programme for a peaceful use on condition of fulfilling all requirements of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Trubnikov told Itar-Tass.
He leads a Russian delegation to the 3rd security conference of defence ministers of Asia and the Pacific Rim opening in Singapore on Friday. About 20 countries take part in it.
Asked whether Moscow recognizes the right of North Korea to pursue its peaceful atomic energy programme, Trubnikov said: ï¿½Of course, but only in case the DPRK (North Korea) will meet all conditions of the IAEA.ï¿½
He added that North Korea ï¿½has a right understanding of the matter of assistance to peaceful use of nuclear energyï¿½.
Trubnikov called for international security guarantees to North Korea.
ï¿½These should be guarantees with the participation of Russia, the U.S., China and other countries-members of the six-party talks,ï¿½ he said.
The third round of the six-nation talks on North Koreaï¿½s nuclear programme, engaging North and South Korea, the U.S., Russia, China and Japan, could begin in Beijing on June 23 after two-day consultations.
The U.S. and some other countries insist that the talks should be on ï¿½full, irreversible and controllable liquidationï¿½ of North Koreaï¿½s nuclear developments.
Pyongyang in turn proposes freezing its nuclear programme, on the provision of getting compensation.
North Korea expresses readiness to consider allowing IAEA inspections, but insists on retaining the nuclear programme for peaceful uses.
The deputy director of the Russian Foreign Ministryï¿½s 1st department for Asian affairs, Valery Sukhinin, led a Russian delegation to a meeting of the six-party working group in Beijing last month.
He then told Itar-Tass that in the opinion of Moscow, ï¿½it would be ideal if North Korea remained in the system of the treaty on non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and developed its peaceful activity in accordance with the provisions of this treatyï¿½.
Sukhinin said ï¿½according to the treaty, the right of any country for the peaceful activity in the nuclear energy field is recognized and, moreover, the nuclear powers must give assistance to such peaceful activity of non-nuclear statesï¿½.
The Indian Navy is likely to acquire a Russian nuclear-submarine in two years with the final decision on the deal, being negotiated for the last four years, having been taken earlier this year.
The Akula class nuclear-powered submarine is a high-performance vessel and having one will give the Navy an incredible boost, taking it into the big league. The Russians have agreed to give India one of the newly-commissioned N-submarines for about a decade.
Asked about the acquisition of the nuclear-submarine, the defence ministry today declined to comment. High-level defence sources separately confirmed that the decision was taken at around the same time the deal on the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier, also acquired from the Russians, early this year. No announcement was made and an official said the Russians wanted India to be quiet about it.
Initially, the Russians were keen on giving India an earlier vessel, but later it was decided that the Navy would get a newer submarine. The inter-governmental agreement for the Akula was signed about four years ago. Officials are tight-lipped about the price of the lease (a N-submarine cannot be bought or sold), but according to sources, the initial offer was for about Rs 1,700 crore.
For the Russians, the three deals ï¿½ for the Gorshkov, the Akula and the lease on four Tu-22 long-range reconnaissance aircraft ï¿½ were in a sense part of a package. The deal for the aircraft is yet to through.
India had leased a N-powered submarine from Russia ï¿½ the INS Chakra ï¿½ in the Eighties, but now the crew would have to be trained on this vessel. Naval officers are tight-lipped about training schedules.
In Russia, the Akula-class submarines are called the Bars Class. In India, it could be called the Project I. The first Akulas were built in the mid-Eighties but the newer ones have a more silent signature, meaning they are more difficult to track down. India has started work on a N-submarine in a Larsen and Toubro yard. They could be ready in four-five years. The Akula can carry deadly long-range cruise missiles. They are accurate and have strategic value. They also have anti-ship missiles and torpedoes.
1. Cuba Offers Ukraine Equipment from Unfinished Nuke Power Plant
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Cuba has offered to Ukraine to make use of equipment from the unfinished nuclear power plant Huragua. Evelio Saura Pedrol, chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Havana province, made the offer at the second round of Ukrainian-Cuban talks in Kiev, said the press service of the Ukrainian nuclear electricity stations operator National Nuclear Power Generating Company Energoatom.
Construction of the Haragua plant with four VVER-440 reactors, designed with Russia's active involvement and financing, began in 1983. It was initially planned that the first unit would be started up in 1995-1996. The project fully stopped in 1992, when economic relations with Russia were axed.
Now, the project consists of two unfinished power units, which have been offered to Ukraine.
Sergei Ryabtsev, vice-president for social and general matters at Energoatom, said that its specialists are assessing prospective use of the equipment, particularly the VVER-440 reactor, for the Rovno nuclear power project. They are studying the possibility of purchase and very soon examine the reactor's condition.
Ukraine's four nuclear power facilities make use of 13 power units, eleven VVER-1000 and two VVER-440 of the new generation.
1. Alexander Yakovenko, the Spokesman of Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Answers a Media Question Regarding Economic Component of the visit of Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov to Norway (excerpted)
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Daily News Bulletin
(for personal use only)
Mention should also be made of the successful experience of Norwegian assistance in the disposition of the decommissioned nuclear submarines of Russia's Northern Fleet. We note the active role of Norway in the implementation of the Multilateral Nuclear Environmental Program for Russia (MNEPR).
5. Galvanize International Cooperation to Combat Bioterrorism. As President, John Kerry will provide international leadership to combating biological weapons as well as naturally occurring diseases. As the initial steps in a broader program, Kerry will reconstitute international negotiations to strengthen the bioweapons ban, building on lessons from United Nations inspections, visits to bioweapons facilities in the former Soviet Union and new trial inspections at government, university, and industrial facilities. He will push for implementation of a sensible and enforceable international law criminalizing the development, acquisition, possession, and use of biological weapons. To prevent terrorist from acquiring dangerous pathogens, he will work with the international scientific community to construct and implement international standards for biosafety and biosecurity. He will also work to expand the Cooperative Threat Reduction program and make it a priority in our relations with Russia to secure any remaining biological agents and ensure that weapons programs scientists can be put to work creating antidotes and vaccines against biological threats. He will work closely with the World Health Organization and individual nations to strengthen global disease surveillance and response.
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