1. Russia launches 1st radioactive waste processing plant
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The first facility for the primary processing of radioactive wastes in Russia has been put into operation at the shipbuilding plant in Polyarny on the Kola Peninsula, Viktor Frolov, the plant's chief engineer, told Interfax.
The facility was constructed for the Russian navy under the Arctic Military Environmental Cooperation program "to ensure the radiological environmental safety of work involving the treatment of radioactive wastes," he said.
The enterprise's annual throughput capacity is at least 500 cubic meters of solid radioactive waste before processing, and it can handle 200 cubic meters of such wastes after processing a year. Its temporary storage platform can hold 416 containers, or 629 cubic meters of solid radioactive waste. The plant's temporary storage facilities hold the solid radioactive waste remaining after the disposal of 15 nuclear submarines. These are mainly rubber and plastic components and light metal bulkheads, whose radioactive contamination is relatively low.
About 800,000 cubic meters of solid radioactive wastes are stored in the Murmansk region.
The Arctic Military Environmental Cooperation (AMEC) program was signed by the U.S., Norway, and Russia in September 1996. It is aimed at establishing the basis for resolving environmental problems caused by military activities that affect the Arctic region.
Norway has invested $10 million, the U.S. $25 million, and Russia $6.5 million in various AMEC projects.
2. PREMIER IN RUSSIAN NORTH FOR MARINE BOARD SESSION
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Federal Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov has arrived in the Arkhangelsk Region, which will host tomorrow's Marine Board session he will chair.
The region stretches along the White Sea coast in continental European Russia's extreme north, and is a major shipbuilding seat.
"The session will sum up Board efforts of the preceding years, highlight future priorities, and take stock of burning problems," Mr. Fradkov said to the media upon arrival.
A reporter asked him about the choice of session venue. The reason is in the prominence of Arctic problems, and warship-building concentrated in the area, which also gives Russia an exit to northern seas, explained the Premier.
Coastal and ocean fishing will be prominent on the Friday agenda, too, he added.
The session will also take stock of a reshuffle it came through in a recent government reform.
Several key ministers are accompanying him on the trip, pointed out Mr. Fradkov.
He went over to fishing quotas. To prolong their term is prominent among measures to promote Russian fishing. Government allocations to ocean fishers are out of the question now-it is an emergency arrangement, and so comes up only on rare occasions, while long-term quotas will surely bolster up ocean fishing. International efforts are essential in the business, and related government efforts have every chance for success, said the Premier.
As soon as he appeared in Arkhangelsk, Mikhail Fradkov went on to Severodvinsk nearby. He has on today's itinerary the Zvezdochka shipyard and the Sevmash company.
Apart from building ships, the Zvezdochka salvages discarded nuclear submarines. 22 came through it within a few preceding years. The Sevmash, whicl also salvages nuke submarines, mainly engages in updating and maintenance of surface vessels and submarines-in particular, nuclear-powered.
"Today, because America has acted and because America has led, the forces of terror and tyranny have suffered defeat after defeat, and America and the world are safer."
- President Bush, July 12, 2004
"The facts speak for themselves. There was less nuclear weapons material secured in the two years after 9/11 than in the two years before. North Korea has reportedly quadrupled its nuclear weapons capability in the past year. Iran is developing nuclear weapons capability. Afghanistan has become a forgotten front in the war on terror."
- Sen. John Kerry, July 12, 2004
This was the week when it became clear that Campaign 2004 will crystallize around one crucial question. It is a homeland security version of the simple but brilliantly conceived question Ronald Reagan asked so successfully in 1980.
"Are you better off now than you were four years ago?" challenger Reagan asked, framing an unspoken referendum on the incumbent that voters overwhelmingly answered, "No!"
This year, the pollsters have polled; the strategists have strategized; the candidates have heard and heeded. And out on the campaign trail this week, Bush and Kerry road-tested their best-effort answers to the Big Question of 2004.
It is not quite "Are you safer now than you were four years ago?" since everyone understands that the terrorists of al Qaeda altered forever our concept of safety on Sept. 11, 2001. The more apt formulation is: "Has President Bush's leadership made America safer or less safe in the last four years?"
Here is a Cliff Notes summary of all you will need to correctly answer the big question of 2004:
The moment on 9/11 when that second plane hit the second tower, it was instantly clear that America and the world were plunged into a War on Terror that was life or death.
Simultaneously, it was also clear to experts in Washington and around the world that we were plunged into a Race Against the Terrorists _ a race to secure the world's most vulnerable stockpiles of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons before al Qaeda could get to them.
We knew al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden had declared in an interview it was al Qaeda's "religious duty" to obtain weapons of mass destruction. We knew that ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union, vast stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction in Russia were highly vulnerable to theft.
I've been in Russia, reporting for my last book, "Avoiding Armageddon" (it was also a PBS series). I've written about deadly arsenals stored in dilapidated buildings secured with just a padlock, sometimes surrounded by chain-link fences riddled with holes.
I've told stories of financially strapped nuclear thieves - a navy captain and a civilian clerk - who separately successfully stole bomb-grade uranium; luckily they were nabbed trying to sell it on the black market before their stash could become a terrorist bomb, hidden on a rusty old freighter heading for our shore. I've written about the excellent Nunn-Lugar program (named after former Sen. Sam Nunn and current Sen. Dick Lugar) by which the United States funds efforts to secure those materials before terrorists can get them.
So you must think, as I thought, that after 9/11, the Bush administration would surely rush to increase the funding and race to secure the vulnerable Russian weapons before the terrorists got them. Well, you are wrong and I was too. Bush inexplicably froze all funding of that Nunn-Lugar program for one whole year, in a short-sighted dispute with Russia over access to a small portion of the sites. Luckily, fellow Republican Lugar privately lobbied Bush and convinced him to overrule the ideologues.
The funding began. But more than half of Russia's vast arsenal is still vulnerable. Other arsenals throughout the world are too. So are and research reactors that use weapons-grade fuel. We are in danger of losing this life-or-death race against terrorists. It is a race we should have won long ago, a race we dare not lose.
For awhile after 9/11, the U.S. military pounded al Qaeda, seemed poised to capture bin Laden and crush an American enemy that attacked the U.S. mainland as no one had since the War of 1812. But Bush diverted military power from that war to invade Iraq. Soon there were just 6,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan and 130,000 in Iraq. Al Qaeda has regained strength - today it threatens the American homeland again.
So, Saddam Hussein has been toppled - but are you safer? That's the question you'll hear asked from now on. Right up until you provide the definitive answer on the first Tuesday of November.
In a rare rebuke of an ally, the Bush administration announced yesterday that it will cut $18 million in military and economic aid to the authoritarian government of Uzbekistan because it has failed to take a series of promised steps to improve its human rights record.
The decision will not affect funding Uzbekistan receives from the Nunn-Lugar project to secure nuclear weapons material. Programs that support democracy groups and health care will also be exempt.
State Department officials, who had been warning President Islam Karimov's government for months that the additional aid package was in jeopardy, said they hope the move will send a tough message that political repression can be costly.
President Bush reached out to Uzbekistan one week after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, noting in a speech that Uzbek militants with links to al Qaeda were a threat. Shortly after, Washington won the rights to a military base on Uzbekistan's border with Afghanistan and aid was promised to Karimov's government.
But Congress, concerned about the country's human rights record, conditioned the new money on substantial and continuing progress in meeting human rights commitments Karimov made during a visit to Washington in 2002.
Among the steps expected were the introduction of free and fair elections, a free press, economic reforms and an end to torture in prisons.
Uzbekistan received the certification several times afterward, but in January the State Department said Uzbekistan had failed to meet international human rights standards. The move was symbolic but was considered a warning to the Central Asian power that its relationship with Washington could suffer.
With yesterday's announcement, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell officially determined that Uzbekistan was not meeting the criteria set by Congress to secure the funds.
"This decision does not mean that either our interests in the region or our desire for continued cooperation with Uzbekistan has changed," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said in a statement last night. At the same time, he said, "enhanced progress in democratization, respect for human rights and economic reforms are essential for Uzbekistan's security and long-term prosperity, as well as to reinforce a solid and enduring relationship with the United States."
Human Rights Watch analyst Tom Malinowski, who has chronicled Uzbekistan's record, welcomed the latest move as an important victory for human rights.
"This is the first time that the administration has allowed a lack of progress on human rights to have a significant impact on its relationship with a critical security partner in that part of the world," he said.
According to the latest State Department report on human rights around the world, Uzbekistan "remained very poor, and it continued to commit numerous serious abuses." The police and the National Security Service, a successor to the KGB, were cited for committing serious human rights abuses, and the report noted that as many as 5,800 people may be imprisoned for religious and political affiliations.
"The Uzbek government has repeatedly tried to exploit the war on terror to win American sympathy for its crackdown on dissent," Malinowski said. "But the United States isn't buying it because there's a recognition here that when governments like Uzbekistan shut down legitimate dissent, they drive dissenters underground and potentially into the arms of more radical and violent groups. That hurts, not helps, the war on terror."
Fifteen months ago, the US government wanted to arrest and interrogate Jafar Dhia Jafar, the father of Iraq's nuclear program.
Now it wants to give him a job.
State Department officials have sent several messages through intermediaries to the particle physicist, letting him know that he has a chance to earn a healthy salary, a well-stocked research lab, and a place at the table of the new Iraq.
The overtures to Jafar, 61, who now lives in the United Arab Emirates, are part of a State Department push to hire unemployed Iraqi weapons scientists who US officials fear could pass their expertise in nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare to rogue regimes or terrorist groups.
Launched quietly in an unmarked villa outside the Green Zone in Baghdad, the US-funded Iraqi International Center for Science and Industry already employs about 60 scientists, half of whom were recently investigated or imprisoned on the orders of the US team that was searching for Saddam Hussein's stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.
Although now it appears that Hussein's weapons programs withered away a decade ago, after the Gulf War, the scientists who worked on them are still a possible proliferation threat, according to State Department officials, who hope to engage as many as 500 former weapons scientists on reconstruction projects with various Iraqi ministries.
''Someone who knew 10 years ago how to produce chemical weapons against the Kurds still knows how, still has the recipe," said Anne Harrington, deputy director of the State Department's Office of Proliferation Threat Reduction. Harrington's team has been invited to brief Senator Richard G. Lugar, an Indiana Republican who is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on the scientist recruitment program. Lugar has been a central player in the initiative to tighten controls over nuclear materials in the former Soviet Union.
The State Department has provided $2 million for the scientist program, which was modeled after a similar effort in Russia and the other former Soviet republics. The US-led occupation authority in Iraq also had earmarked $37 million, raised from Iraq oil sales, for other nonproliferation projects to be run by the Iraqi government.
US Undersecretary of State John Bolton has described the effort to employ the scientists as a ''race against time."
At least one Iraqi nuclear engineer told US officials he was approached by both insurgents and by Iranians who offered him substantial sums of money to work on their nuclear programs. Another Iraqi weapons scientist with a PhD in mechanical engineering is believed to have traveled to Tehran.
''Iran, Syria, or Al Qaeda would have high interest in these scientists," said David Albright, a former weapons inspector who in an effort separate from the new initiative has arranged jobs for some Iraqi weapons scientists in the United States. ''This is a far more difficult situation than Russia, and far more dangerous in the sense that these scientists could be killed or kidnapped far more easier than in Russia."
To persuade scientists not to sell their skills on the open market, the State Department program arranges for them to become consultants to Iraq's ministries, from the environment to the oil industry, and pays generous salaries. (The department won't say how much, but says that the rate is many times higher than the $100-per-month maximum the Coalition Provisional Authority is paying Iraqi government workers.) Other perks are expected to include access to satellite-based Internet, reconstruction of laboratories, assistance with research grants, possible venture capital funds, and travel opportunities such as an upcoming trip to the United States for eight former weapons scientists.
''It's not enough to pay a salary. You have to give them back their self-esteem as scientists," said Alex Dehgan, who ran the program in Iraq for the State Department under a fellowship with the American Association for the Advancement of Science. ''Obviously these guys had a lot of prestige and they had built up careers that had suddenly come to an end."
The program got off to a difficult start. Recruitment was a challenge, as many prospective scientists were in hiding in Iraq or elsewhere or were in prison, such as General Amir Saadi, once Hussein's liaison to UN weapons inspectors, who has reportedly been kept in solitary confinement since he surrendered in April 2003. The treatment of the imprisoned scientists sparked bitterness that continues to this day.
''We are not fools," said Imad Khadduri, a former Iraqi nuclear scientist who fled Iraq for Canada in 1998. ''They think we are simply puppets. The whole scientific infrastructure they have blown to pieces."
Building trust was not easy. State Department officials spent weeks trying woo one hostile scientist who was suspicious of their intentions, only to discover later that he had been arrested on the orders of the Iraqi Survey Group, the US-led team searching for weapons of mass destruction.
But, slowly, word-of-mouth contacts and countless cups of tea unearthed dozens of former weapons scientists in the country. Dehgan, a conservation biologist whose true love is studying lemurs, discovered a group of high-level former Ba'athist nuclear physicists quietly living in a neighborhood.
Over time, word spread and applications began pouring in. About 40 scientists even had to be turned down because they didn't have the necessary experience in producing biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons. Hussain Al-Shahristani, who spent more than a decade in Abu Ghraib prison because he refused to work on Hussein's project to build nuclear weapons, programs, was not offered a space at the US-funded center, but US officials say that was because he is not a weapons scientist.
A major challenge is battling the perception that Americans are rewarding scientists who once worked on Hussein's illicit programs.
''It is hard to deal with these scientists who you know have indirectly or directly contributed to the deaths of thousands of people," said one US-based official who has traveled to Iraq in connection with the program. ''But at the same time, they are really nice people . . . I think it is personally difficult to know what you know about some of these individuals, or what they might have worked on."
Citing attacks on Iraqis who work with Americans, the State Department has declined to identify the scientists involved in the project or those who sit on the project's 14-member scientific advisory council.
2. Iraq to conduct nuclear research for peace, economic development
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Iraq's science minister said Monday he will focus on building an army of scientists to conduct peaceful nuclear research in contrast to the more destructive ambitions of Saddam Hussein.
But the country urgently needs 15 million dollars for a short term fix as it struggles to rebuild and restock laboratories that fell into ruin during years of war and sanctions under Saddam, interim Science and Technology Minister Rashad Mandan Omar told AFP in an interview.
Despite pledges of support from the international community, no money has yet parted hands, he said, urging organs like the International Monetary Fund to turn words into action.
"We will develop a strong scientific community," Omar said.
"The plan of my ministry is to redirect Iraqi scientists and technologists to contribute towards the country and to solve problems in industry, agriculture and environment which can build Iraq as a strong nation."
Nuclear physics remained a key area for research but Iraq's scientific talent would be steered towards fighting disease rather than developing weapons of mass destruction, he said.
"We want to treat ailments like cancer. For that we need nuclear science," Omar explained.
"But we are not going to have any false title for a project to conduct destructive research. That chapter is closed. It is finished. We are fed up of it."
Scientific research was all but snuffed out under former regime, cut off from free contact with the outside world and deprived of many of its best minds -- including Omar himself -- who fled the country during the war with Iran in the 1980s and the first Gulf war in 1991, the science minister noted.
"The former regime destroyed scientific development. As an urgent need, we have to build physical infrastructure like new laboratories, buildings and equipment," Omar said.
"For this I need immediately 15 million dollars," he declared.
The ministry is talking to the IMF for short term funding before the country could stand on its own thanks to revenue from its oil-rich resources, Omar said.
But money promised by countries in the form of technology grants, loans or donations to fund technology projects had yet to materialise.
"On the ground level we have not received any grant or donation. No single dollar has come, only promises. But we are hopeful that a few of our projects would be approved," the minister said.
The interim government, which took office two weeks ago when the US-led coalition formally handed over sovereignty, planned to set up new institution to train a fresh wave of scientists.
"Very soon we will be setting up three institutions for such research where by existing and new scientists can be absorbed for postive research."
1. U.S.-Russian Missile Defense Cooperation Should Start With Smaller Projects, Former MDA Chief Says
Global Security Newswire
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The failures of a joint U.S.-Russian program to develop two ballistic missile-tracking satellites demonstrates that U.S.-Russian missile defense cooperation should begin by focusing on smaller projects, the former head of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency said earlier this month.
The United States and Russia began the Russian-American Observation Satellite (RAMOS) program in 1992, but the agency is seeking to end the program at the end of fiscal 2004 due to years of stalled progress and bureaucratic disputes, according to Janeï¿½s Defense Weekly.
ï¿½If we can be successful in the short run on more modest goals, then we will be able to move forward quicker on more ambitious activities,ï¿½ said former MDA chief Air Force Lt. Gen. Ronald Kadish, who left his post on July 2. ï¿½I think the biggest problem (with RAMOS was) that we couldnï¿½t, at [the] government-to-government level, make the agreements allowing us to proceed without worrying about barriers that have to be overcome,ï¿½ he added.
Kadish also said that missile defense cooperation discussions are set to be held soon between the United States and Russia. Defense sources told Janeï¿½s that the United States is interested in using Russian missiles as targets in training and missile characterization exercises. The countries might also collaborate on development of radar to track ballistic missiles (Michael Sirak, Janeï¿½s Defense Weekly, July 14).
1. RUSSIA PAYS MEMBERSHIP DUE TO IAEA TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE AND COOPERATION FUND
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Russia will pay 24,310,000 roubles (1 dollar equals 29 roubles) for 2004 to the IAEA technical assistance and cooperation fund. Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov has inked the instruction approving the corresponding proposal of the Federal Nuclear Energy Agency, coordinated with the foreign and finance ministries.
"Towards the fulfilment of obligations of the Russian Federation ensuing from its membership in the International Atomic Energy Agency, the proposal on the payment of the due, in the national currency, of the Russian Federation to the IAEA Technical Assistance and Cooperation Fund for 2004 shall be accepted", reads the communique posted on the government's official web site.
The government has also approved the allocation of 7,050,000 roubles this year for financing the national programme of scientific-technical support for IAEA safeguards.
The communique notes that the Federal Nuclear Energy Agency has been instructed to ensure the financing of events from the resources provided for in the 2004 federal budget.
Continued Russian support for Iran's nuclear-energy program despite U.S. objections that this could help Tehran acquire nuclear weapons appears to be a source of great pride to many Russian officials and commentators. Indeed, Moscow's defiance of Washington feeds into the notion that Russia is still a great power. Moscow's continued contribution to the Iranian nuclear program may, however, ultimately serve to weaken Russia, not strengthen it.
The U.S. government has long been worried that Tehran is using its nuclear-energy program to develop nuclear weapons, and has therefore repeatedly urged Moscow to halt work on the reactor it is building for the Iranians at Bushehr. The standard Russian response has been that Iran is in compliance with all International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) regulations, and thus has the right under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) to develop a peaceful nuclear-energy program. But with the revelation that Iran possesses hitherto secret nuclear facilities that it had not declared to the IAEA and that some of the equipment IAEA inspectors have found in Iran bore traces of weapons grade uranium, it has become increasingly clear that Iran is not in total compliance with IAEA regulations
Yet despite these revelations, Russian work on the Iranian nuclear-energy program has continued. While the United States wanted the IAEA to declare Iran to be in violation of the NPT and refer the matter to the UN Security Council, Russia sided with European and other states that were unwilling to do so and sought to "engage" Tehran instead. In the past few months, though, it has become obvious to the Europeans that their engagement efforts have not succeeded, and that Iran appears determined to acquire the equipment and technology that could enable it to fabricate nuclear weapons, although Iran insists it seeks only to develop a peaceful nuclear-energy program.
Moscow meanwhile has continued to declare that it will complete the nuclear reactor it is currently helping to build at Bushehr, and to express its hopes of building several more. True, the Russian government insists that Iran must agree to return to Russia all spent fuel (which could be used for nuclear weapons), but the value of such an agreement (if it is signed) as a nonproliferation measure is dubious. Aleksandr Rumyantsev, head of Russia's Federal Atomic Energy Agency, said in May that any such spent fuel would not arrive in Russia for at least seven or eight years.
It would seem that Russia would have as much of an incentive -- or an even greater one -- than the United States and the EU in preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Russia is much closer geographically to Iran, and thus is much more within range of the type of missile currently available to Tehran. Nor would Russia be less vulnerable to an Iranian attack if Tehran were to succeed in developing longer-range missiles.
Yet, while Moscow genuinely does not want Iran to acquire nuclear weapons, it has a strong incentive to continue assisting the Iranian nuclear-energy program. In December 2002, Radzhab Safarov, who is director-general of the Russian Center for Contemporary Iranian Studies, noted that the Russian nuclear-power industry faced an uncertain future after it lost customers both in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union itself following the 1989-91 collapse of communism. "Therefore, Iran has in effect saved Russia's nuclear-power sector. And we should be grateful to Iran for having provided tens of thousands of Russian companies with 70 percent of their work," Safarov told Ekho Moskvy. In other words, without the work in Iran, the Russian nuclear industry, which Moscow places a high priority on preserving, may not have enough customers to survive.
Iran regards the United States as its greatest opponent. One strong motive the Iranian hard-liners would appear to have for acquiring nuclear weapons is to deter the United States from military intervention against Iran. This motive was undoubtedly heightened after witnessing how rapidly U.S.-led forces overthrew first the Taliban and then Saddam Hussein in countries neighboring Iran. Iran, then, would appear to have a strong incentive to remain on good terms with Russia -- at least, that is, until Tehran actually does acquire nuclear weapons. What is surprising, though, is that Moscow does not attempt to exploit Iran's dependence on Russia in the nuclear arena to obtain concessions in other areas, especially the delimitation of the Caspian Sea. However, Iran is refusing to accept an agreement signed in May 2003 by Russia, Kazakhstan, and Azerbaijan that would give those three states nearly 70 percent of the seabed; Iran is holding out for dividing the seabed and the waters into five equal parts among the littoral states.
Iran's intransigence has negatively affected Moscow because it has prevented Russian oil firms from participating in the exploitation of oil deposits in the area of the southern Caspian to which both Azerbaijan and Iran lay claim, and has motivated Azerbaijan to seek military assistance from the United States, which Moscow sees as undercutting its own influence in the region.
Moscow could attempt to link its continued participation in the Iranian nuclear-energy program to Iranian concessions on the delimitation of the Caspian. Alternatively, or simultaneously, Russia could cooperate with the United States in trying to persuade the IAEA to refer Iran's violations of the NPT to the UN Security Council. Iran would then become much more dependent on Russia to prevent sanctions from being imposed on it -- and presumably consequently more willing to accommodate Moscow both in the Caspian and on the issue of nuclear safeguards (assuming that Tehran really is only developing a peaceful atomic energy program, as it claims, and is not seeking nuclear weapons).
Russia, though, has not made any such linkage, and Iran's continued stubbornness on the Caspian issue suggests that Tehran does not fear it will do so. Instead, it is Moscow that seems afraid that annoying Tehran could result in the Russian nuclear-power industry not receiving contracts to build any more nuclear reactors for Iran after the first one at Bushehr is completed.
But if Tehran is unwilling to accommodate Russian interests in the Caspian before it acquires nuclear weapons, it is hardly likely to do so after acquiring them, when it will be less dependent on Russia. A more belligerent Iran armed with nuclear weapons might also confront Moscow with the choice between continuing to provide Tehran with nuclear know-how in order to appease it, or reluctantly turning to the United States for support. Thus, instead of enhancing Russia's status as a great power, the sale of nuclear technology to Iran is far more likely to undermine it.
1. INFORMATION SECURITY SYSTEM CREATED IN RUSSIA'S NORTH
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An information base providing security and control over the situation at Russia's continental shelves will be created in the Russian North, including in the Barents Sea region, said Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov after the session of the Maritime Board in Arkhangelsk.
"The first such system is already operating in Primorye [Russian Far East], it allows to receive data about the situation under water, above water and in the airspace in Primorye; it allows to determine in the real time mode the location of ships, vessels, nuclear submarines and aircraft," Mr. Ivanov said.
"Today, at a board session, Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov confirmed the necessity to create a second stage of the information system in the Barents Sea to know the situation," added the defense minister.
He said that construction of the Belgorod nuclear submarine will be completed and it will enter combat duty.
"Unfortunately, one can't do the impossible, but funds for the Belgorod are envisaged," Mr. Ivanov said.
He recalled that there is a certain procedure of financing Russian ship-building. "We won't forget about the Belgorod," the minister said.
The Belgorod nuclear submarine is now being completed at Sevmash shipyards in Severodvinsk.
2. No Russian Nukes Planned for Space ï¿½ Army Official
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Russia does not intend to put nuclear arms into space, the commander-in-chief of Russian Space Troops, Lieutenant General Vladimir Popovkin told Wednesday.
Speaking at a press conference, he added that there are several forces in the world who ï¿½endeavor to turn space into an arena of armed struggle,ï¿½ Interfax news agency reported.
The task of the Space Troops is ï¿½to ensure the reliable defense of Russiaï¿½s orbital group of forces,ï¿½ the agency quoted Popovkin as saying.
The general also said that space troops had begun to test new reconnaissance and communication systems. It is planned to launch a new carrier missile, he said. ï¿½The tendency of the reduction of the orbital groupï¿½s quantity has stopped. The conditions for a breakthrough in the next 3-4 years are created,ï¿½ the agency quoted Popovkin as saying.
The Space Troops commander did not rule out the possibility of a space soldier flight to the International Space Station (ISS).
ï¿½Probably, Yuri Shargin will fly to the ISS in October. According to the assurances of the Federal Space Agency, this issue will be resolved in 7-10 days,ï¿½ the agency quoted Popovkin as saying. He expressed hope that Shargin would work at the station, not being a tourist. Shargin ï¿½is the only member of Sace Troops among the astronauts.ï¿½
A change of teams at the ISS is scheduled for October. A new team will replace Russian Gennady Padalka and American Michael Fincke.
3. Russia not planning to deploy nuclear weapons in space
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Russia is not planning to deploy nuclear weapons in outer space, said Commander of the Russian Space Forces Lt. Gen. Vladimir Popovkin.
Speaking at a press conference at Interfax's central office on Wednesday, Popovkin, however, noted that there are forces in the world that "are seeking to turn outer space into an arena of armed confrontation."
"Some countries are pursuing this goal, but we cannot respond to this," Popovkin said.
The Space Forces' job in this situation is "to ensure reliable protection of Russia's orbital group," he said.
4. Russian Airspace Control System tracking up to 9,000 orbit-based spacecraft
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The Airspace Control System (ACS), attached to the Russian Space Forces, tracks about 9,000 orbit- based spacecraft.
"The Airspace Control System tracks a total of about 9,000 spacecraft in the interests of both military and civil customers," the Space Forces press-service said in a release circulated at a news conference, given by Lieutenant General Vladimir Popovkin, Space Forces Commander, at the Interfax main office.
According to the press-service, the ACS can also be used to monitor preparation of enemy orbit-based spacecraft for supporting combat operations on various theaters of operations.
In peacetime the system is tasked with monitoring enforcement of international agreements in the sphere of space use, spacecraft flight safety informational support, tracking spacecraft, leaving their orbits, their descent trajectories, and touchdown sites.
According to the press-service, the Airspace Control System is part of the Space Forces Space Defense Unit. The Space Defense Unit also comprises the Early Warning System and the Moscow Missile Defense System.
"The Space Defense Unit features combat capabilities of monitoring areas, which may sustain a missile attack, detecting ballistic missile launch sites, determining the attacking country, carrying out missile defense, and controlling airspace," the press-service said.
According to the press-service, the ACS boasts a two-echelon structure. It incorporates space- and ground-based components, as well as a command and control system.
"ICBMs and medium-range ballistic missiles, launched by sea- and ground-based missile systems, are easily detected by the system. The early warning information is transmitted to senior politicians and the brass," the press-service said.
The missile defense system protects Moscow from incoming warheads. Missile defense system radars provide the ACS systems with constant informational support.
The Russian leadership believes the maintenance of high combat efficiency and readiness of the strategic nuclear forces to be the main priority, said Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov.
"The Russian defense ministry does not make a secret of its military planning. The aims and tasks of armed forces use, including their nuclear component, are clearly outlined in our book Actual Tasks of Russian Federation Armed Forces Development, " Mr. Ivanov said speaking at London's International Institute for Strategic Studies with a report on the topic, "Russia-NATO: Strategic Partners in the Face of New Threats."
The minister said that Russia openly and democratically declares the aims and tasks of its military organization.
"The main aim of Russia's policy in the sphere of strategic deterrence is a guaranteed protection of sovereignty, territorial integrity and other vitally important national interests of Russia and its allies," Mr. Ivanov said.
He emphasized that Russia is closely following what is being done in the sphere of strategic nuclear forces in the U.S. "In particular, of interest to us is the state of American programs on the creation of supersmall nuclear warheads: each new armament type introduces new elements to the general picture of global stability. We have to take this into account in our military planning," Mr. Ivanov said.
He assured the audience that Russia is ready to participate in ensuring global strategic stability with any scenarios of possible military-political situation development in the world, where strategic threats go to the foreground.
The minister also said that central bodies of military management will soon be reorganized in Russia.
"The new aspect to which I would like to draw your attention is the beginning of a serious process of reorganization of central bodies of military administration aimed at boosting their operability when taking strategic decisions and achieving a new quality of commanding troops," Mr. Ivanov said.
In his words, this work is conducted on the basis of studying the experience of recent local conflicts, including the war in Iraq, and in the context of administrative reform underway in Russia.
"The Russian Armed Forces have not just overcome the systemic crisis of 1990s. We have also been able to learn the serious lessons out of the bad situation the military organization of our state was in earlier," Mr. Ivanov said.
Groups have been created in Russia capable of fulfilling tasks at any theater of operations on the country's territory, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said in his report.
"We were able to reveal in time the complex of modern threats which predetermined the construction of a system of priorities of the military policy and military construction," Mr. Ivanov said.
The minister said that the number of contract servicemen in Russia's armed forces will be increased up to 70% by 2008.
In his words, now the number of contract servicemen, including commissioned officers, is practically 50% of the total number.
The minister also said that the level of combat training has been substantially raised in Russia, the number increased and the scale of military exercises held extended.
Mr. Ivanov said that besides improvement of military training of armed forces, their equipment with modern armaments and military hardware is necessary. Real resolution of the urgent problem to provide servicemen with housing through the mortgage-accumulative system and creation of a service housing fund has started, said the defense minister.
6. Russia to continue developing strategic nuclear forces
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The Russian leaders have allocated and will continue to allocate considerable funds for the maintenance and development of the nuclear component of the Armed Forces, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov said at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London on Tuesday.
The Russian Army will be manned by soldiers and sergeants under a mixed system -- both on conscription and under contract -- in the foreseeable future, the minister said.
ï¿½We have no plans to switch the entire personnel of the Armed Forces to service under contract as this would be extremely expensive. Also we aim to reduce the duration of the military service from two years to one year from 2008ï¿½, Ivanov said.
He said from this year the 42nd motorized rifle division deployed in Chechnya would be manned entirely by those serving under contract. The switching to contractual basis of other units in permanent combat readiness will be continued. The sum of 80 billion roubles is allocated for these purposes. ï¿½The personnel of all the units in permanent combat readiness will be serving under contract by 2008ï¿½, Ivanov said.
7. Russian ICBM to be launched for test in mid-August
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A test launch of a Russian intercontinental ballistic missile RS-18 (SS-19 Stiletto) is scheduled for mid-August, the Russian Defense Ministry told Interfax on Tuesday.
The launch is to test the tactical and technical characteristics of this type of missile, with the hope of extending the service life, the ministry source said.
RS-18 missile systems are currently on combat duty at the Tatishchevo and Kozelsk units of the Russian Strategic Missile Forces. Experts estimate them as highly relative and capable of remaining on combat duty for quite a long time after the extension of their service life.
Ukrainian national nuclear power generating company Energoatom started putting the second Khmelnytsky nuclear power plant reactor into operation on July 14, a source at the plant told Interfax.
Loading of nuclear fuel into the active zone of the reactor began on Wednesday, and as of 9:00 local time on Thursday 28 of the 163 fuel assemblies had been loaded.
The reactor's commissioning includes the loading of fuel rods, achieving critical fuel mass and a series of reactor tests and is expected to take 25 days.
The reactor should be operating in generating mode on August 14, pending a decision from the state inspection board. It will take 128 days after that for the reactor to achieve normal working capacity.
The state inspection board for the second reactor has already given the green light to Energoatom to start putting the reactor into operation.
Earlier the Ukrainian State Committee for Nuclear Regulation gave Energoatom a license to launch the unit, and also a separate license to load nuclear fuel into the reactor.
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov advocates the idea of establishing a center for nuclear-powered shipbuilding in the Russian North-West Federal District. This idea has been discussed for a long time, Fradkov, who is on a working visit in the Russian city of Arkhangelsk, reported to journalists.
At the same time, the Prime Minister stressed that the center should be created through mergers of design, shipbuilding and other enterprises. "If these enterprises decide to merge, the government will support them," Fradkov declared.
3. Moscow wants Russian firms to have hand in foreign projects
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The Russian government will start boosting volumes of credits to foreign states even this year, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said at a meeting of the Russian cabinet on Thursday.
The minister specified that ï¿½these credits are connected with support for Russian exportï¿½. ï¿½The government will finance projects in foreign states, which will be built with the participation of Russian business. Mostly, these are hi-tech projects.ï¿½
Besides, according to Kudrin, the 2004 budget will be changed this autumn, since the government intends to bring credits to 639 million US dollars, while the largest project will be appropriation of 437 million dollars for construction of a nuclear power plant in India. The minister called Bulgaria, Vietnam and China among other borrowers.
The minister also said that the government would implement a project for the development of housing in Russia next year, along with the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
4. Russia to boost state aid to Vietnam, India in 2005
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Russia intends to grant credits to seven states in 2005. Incidentally, while credits to Vietnam and India in state aid will rise considerably, credits, according to preliminary data, will not be extended to Belarus and Tunisia, a source at the Finance Ministry told Tass on Wednesday on the eve of examining a draft programme of state credits to foreign states next year at a government meeting.
The source said that Russian state credits would be channeled for construction of a nuclear power plant in India (1.5 billion roubles), a nuclear power plant in China and a nuclear power station in Bulgaria. Besides, Russia plans to extend a 20-million-dollar credit to Ukraine to complete the construction of a nuclear power plant.
As for Cuba, the size of a Russian state credit will be cut considerably as against the planned aid in 2004. This is attributed to the fact that ï¿½the question on Cuban debts to Russia has not been settled yetï¿½. The Russian state credit to that country will be channeled, above all, to ensure construction and development of national economy projects.
The source told Tass that in 2005, Russia plans to grant credits to foreign states to a total sum of 692 million dollars. It is planned next year to pay special attention to deliveries of Russian equipment abroad and to ensure services of Russian firms to foreign states.
In the opinion of the source, this policy will increase considerably deliveries of Russian equipment to foreign markets and will create additional jobs for Russian specialists. Russia will also grant credits to Bulgaria (12.5 million dollars) and Morocco (5.8 million dollars).
As for Vietnam, Russia will extend the state aid of nearly 87 million dollars next year as against 14.8 million dollars in the current year, while India is to receive 437 million dollars in 2005. The Russian state credit to that country is planned at nearly 383 million dollars this year.
5. Russian govt. approves temporary import of Lithuanian nuclear assemblies
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The Russian government is to borrow four nuclear assemblies sourced from an RBMK-1500 Russian-made reactor from Lithuania, the Russian government's press service has announced.
The assemblies will be placed at the disposal of the Research Institute of Nuclear Reactors in Dmitrovgrad in Ulyanovsk region for carrying out a research program. They will be returned to Lithuania.
The government has instructed the Federal Atomic Energy Agency to draft an agreement on providing proper protection and security of the nuclear assemblies to be brought to Russia, and sign these agreements with Lithuania and Belarus.
1. Greenpeace Sues St. Petersburg Atomic Smelting Company
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The international organization Greenpeace filed a lawsuit Thursday against the Russian Ekomet-C company, which smelts radioactive metals at a nuclear energy plant in the Leningrad region surrounding St. Petersburg. The environmental group claims the nuclear energy plant was licensed by Russiaï¿½s Ministry of Atomic Energy even though checks on the companyï¿½s work have yet to prove conclusive.
Greenpeace says functioning without expert approval is against the law.
The group hopes to shut down the companyï¿½s activities at the plant, but is not very optimistic about its lawsuit. ï¿½The courts are all working in the interests of the Atomic Ministry,ï¿½ Vladimir Chuprov, energy coordinator at Greenpeaceï¿½s Russian department, told MosNews.
He says the secrecy surrounding the plantï¿½s activities testifies to the Atomic Ministryï¿½s commercial interests in the plant, regardless of its risks to the surrounding population.
Chuprov expects a decision to be made on whether the courts will accept the lawsuit in two or three weeks.
2. Experts approve processing German uranium waste in Kyrgyzstan
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An expert commission has supported the processing of nuclear wastes from Germany at Kyrgyzstan's Kara-Balta mining combine, a number of Kyrgyz media outlets reported on Tuesday.
The Kara-Balta mining combine and the German company RWE NUKEM GmbH in 2003 concluded a contract under which 1,700 used graphite crucibles containing no more than 5% of uranium would be processed and stored in Kyrgyzstan.
The deal drew criticism from a number of Kyrgyz non-government organizations, in particular, the Association of Non-Government and Nonprofit Organizations. An expert commission was composed of specialists, government members, and parliamentarians to resolve the issue.
"The graphite material containing natural uranium and a technology for processing it comply with the IAEA standards and Kyrgyz laws," the commission said in its resolution and recommended implementing the project.
The Kara-Balta mining combine was among the leading uranium processing enterprises in the Soviet Union. According to the Kyrgyz Environment and Emergency Situations Ministry information, there are 35 storage facilities and 23 waste dumps containing 145 million tonnes of radioactive wastes in Kyrgyzstan. The largest number of these storage facilities are located in the town of Mailuu-Suu in southern Kyrgyzstan.
3. RUSSIAN NUCLEAR EXPERTS CONFIDENT IN SAFETY OF "NUCLEAR TRAINS"
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A "nuclear train" with typical yellow signs warning about radioactive danger, has just completed its journey from the European part of Russia to East Siberia. It has brought nuclear fuel, a waste from the nuclear reactor of the Balakovo nuclear power plant in the Volga Area, to the city of Zheleznogorsk in the Krasnoyarsk Territory. The workers of the mining-and-chemical integrated works specializing in processing and storing of radioactive materials are to unload 72 fuel elements, their total weight being 30 tons, from railway containers.
Every day at least two trains with dangerous radioactive cargo set out on a long journey about vast Russia and sometimes beyond its boundaries. They are accompanied by experts and military guards. They deliver fresh nuclear fuel for the reactors of nuclear power plants, carry away nuclear waste - radioactive material from naval bases and from the reactors of utilized nuclear submarines - make home and export deliveries of radioisotopes, and so on.
Each such train consists of 7 or 8 cars. According to the information provided by the Railway Ministry, during a year over 700 "nuclear trains" carry more than 5,000 containers, each weighing 40 to 80 tons. According to Nikolai Shingaryov, chief of the public relations department of the Federal Nuclear Energy Agency, "these trains are watched closely not only by railway traffic controllers giving the green light to the trains all along their way but also experts from the Agency's Crisis Management Center monitoring every second of a train's movement."
Nuclear experts assure that such trains are safe, saying that there has been not a single accident in transporting radioactive materials in Russia during the entire nuclear era. "The safety of containers carrying radioactive material meet high requirements. In some cases Russian standards are higher that those of the IAEA. For instance, it is evidenced during the strength test in case a possible drop of a heavy aircraft on a container," Shingaryov said.
The containers are manufactured at the Izhora Works near St. Petersburg. During safety testing liquid fuel is poured on them and they set on fire - it is a test for durability at a high temperature. A container is to remain intact after it is dropped from an altitude of 9 meters on a hard vertical rod. At a next stage of testing a container is subjected to a powerful strike equal to one made by a diving Boeing. A reliability certificate is issued only for a container which has passed all tests without a hitch.
1. Russian-Australian Consultations on Military-Political Issues
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
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The fifth round of Russian-Australian consultations on military-political issues took place in Moscow on July 15-16. Ambassador at Large Alexander Alexeyev headed the Russian delegation, and Murray McLean, Deputy Secretary, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, participated in the consultations on the Australian side.
The participants of the consultations reviewed the state of Russian-Australian relations and expressed satisfaction with their positive dynamics.
The consultations' focus was on discussing a broad range of problems of global and regional stability and on an exchange of views on questions of the two countries' defense policies.
Questions of relations between leading powers in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as the situation on the Korean Peninsula, including the six-party talks on the North Korean problem, were discussed.
The sides expressed mutual concern over the existence in the AP region of seats of international terrorism, religious and ethnic extremism and separatism. In this regard, they stressed the importance of the multilateral mechanisms for cooperation on stability issues being created in the region. They gave a positive assessment to the activities of the ASEAN Regional Forum for security, and noted its important role in the deepening of understanding and cooperation among the countries of the region and in the development of confidence building measures and preventive diplomacy. They drew attention to the necessity of expanding multilateral cooperation to ensure in the AP region security in the economic field, primarily within the framework of the APEC forum.
In the course of the consultations attention was devoted to an analysis of the developments in Iraq, Afghanistan and around Taiwan and to situation in Central Asia.
In the field of vision of the meeting participants also were disarmament problems, the questions of nuclear-missile nonproliferation, the averting of an arms race in outer space, export controls and others.
The sides noted the importance of developing bilateral contacts in the international arena on such important issues as enhancing the role of the United Nations and shaping a new world pattern model and regional security systems.
The consultations have demonstrated the similarity of the positions of Moscow and Canberra on most of the issues discussed. Both sides expressed interest in continuing Russian-Australian cooperation both in the affairs of the AP region and in the world as a whole. They noted the usefulness of the continuation of such consultations on a regular basis. Agreement was reached on holding their next round in Canberra.
2. Speech by the Minister of Defence of the Russian Federation S.B.Ivanov: ï¿½RUSSIA-NATO: STRATEGIC PARTNERS IN RESPONSE TO EMERGENT THREATSï¿½ at Londonï¿½s International Institute for Strategic Studies
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
(for personal use only)
Ladies and Gentlemen!
Iï¿½m glad to have the opportunity to address such a representative audience and to share with you some ideas that have occurred to me in this calm and reasonable city of which I have always had the most tender memories.
Iï¿½m ready to tell you how I regard ï¿½ or, rather, how we in Russia regard - the state of present-day relations between Russia and NATO, the way we picture them in the near future and what relations we are striving for in the long-lasting perspective.
The widely circulating opinion that relations between our country and the North Atlantic Alliance have never been an easy issue in the political and military-political dialogue between Russia and the NATO member countries has already become the talk of the town.
Only ten years ago partnership with NATO seemed to be a sort of ï¿½mission impossibleï¿½. No wonder ï¿½ we started the dialogue after the ï¿½late frosts of Cold War,ï¿½ that didnï¿½t favor any conversation and were burdened down by mutual distrust and suspicion. Our dialogue followed forty years of strict silence, when security was a zero sum game because winning safety by one of the parties was regarded as a proportionate loss by the other one. We were all learning a new kind of mathematics, the mathematics of civilized survival and a so-called new ï¿½chemistry of relationsï¿½, providing for equal rights and confidence. We were all learning to talk to each other, to listen and to hear under new circumstances, after the world political landscape had undergone drastic changes.
Time has changed. We have become different. The world has become different. The age of the ï¿½cold warï¿½ has become a thing of the past, rubbing off, long and painful though the process may be, the stereotypes of confrontation ideology. All this has already become history. The reality of our day is a world where decisions are taken on the basis of compromise and consensus.
Now we realize better than before that we all live in a complex and interdependent world endangered by common challenges of the new generation. The understanding has come that global risks have an apocalyptic nature and call for adequate response, first of all by means of a joint effort by the world community. A ï¿½coalition of the willingï¿½ has to be transformed into a ï¿½coalition of the winningï¿½, as happened during World War II.
The end of the Cold War period has opened a Pandoraï¿½s box: alongside with sober aspiration towards flexible cooperation, we witness centrifugal disorder, aggravation of tension and instability ï¿½ after disintegration, or rather break-up, of Yugoslavia, after destabilization of the situation in the Caucasus, in South and Central Asia, in the Middle East. We readily and in a spirit of good will render assistance to our Western partners in operations in Afghanistan, share intelligence, grant the right of overflight and overland transit through our territory. We clearly realize that in modern global conditions an area of instability cannot be limited to the place of its origin. We realize that Afghanistan under Taliban was exporting instability to adjoining countries, drugs ï¿½ to Europe, terrorism and refugees ï¿½ all over the world. We have confronted a new kind of terrorism, one that is not politically motivated but is inspired by fanatic extremism and a brutal desire to kill. And finally, I keep on repeating that we see a threat originating from ï¿½failedï¿½ states that exist in Africa, Asia, and even in Europe. Such states act as sources of illegal migration, transit zones for trafficking drugs and weapons, permit slave markets and shelter terrorists.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are all facing the danger, it is knocking on everyoneï¿½s door. A terrorist with ricin in London ï¿½ what better reason is there for setting up a victory coalition? Nowadays one must take into consideration the fact that weapons of mass destruction are possessed not only by democratic governments but also by, to put it mildly, not the most stable of regimes. That is why we not only have to rebuff the new global challenges with the help of new methods and technologies, but also have to act in agreement, as we did before.
I donï¿½t want to tire you with a long list of sources of ï¿½guaranteed deliveryï¿½ of instability. Each separate link of such terrorist logistics is an earnest of our common vulnerability in the face of the threat menacing us all the time, everywhere, without prior notice and with the help of all means available ï¿½ from a tube to a missile.
We ourselves must manage the changes, not vice versa. We ourselves must set up tasks and goals, act as their coordinators and bring them into life.
Failure is easily seen. Success is less visible. Victory does not have only one parent. Our common success is one of victory coalition.
Ladies and gentlemen, the world has changed. Yet, the new age must not necessarily be accompanied by dismantlement of the military and political legacy of the past. I have already said this and I want to say it again: Russia regards nuclear weapons and nuclear deterrence as the basis for global stability. Nuclear deterrence is a burden that the great powers have to keep on carrying. Nuclear deterrence gives birth to a higher responsibility of politicians for the decisions they make. Those politicians who have gone through a course in nuclear deterrence are, as a rule, more realistic. Please, believe me: if such a phenomenon as nuclear deterrence did not exist today, the number of armed conflicts would be much higher.
We are gradually moving towards nuclear deterrence of a new type: deterrence for the sake of securing strategic stability.
Russian leaders regard the maintenance of fighting ability and readiness of strategic nuclear forces as their top priority task. The Russian Federation Defense Ministry does not make a secret out of its military planning. The aims and tasks of the Armed Forces, and their nuclear component, are clearly stated in our ï¿½white bookï¿½ ï¿½ ï¿½The Priority Tasks of the Development of the Armed Forces of Russian Federationï¿½. We clearly and democratically declare the aims and tasks of Russiaï¿½s military organization. The main aim of Russiaï¿½s policy in the sphere of strategic deterrence is the guaranteed protection of sovereignty, territorial integrity and other vital national interests of Russia and its allies.
We closely follow what is being done in the sphere of strategic nuclear forces in the USA. Particularly, we take a considerable interest in the progress of the US program of the development of ultra small nuclear charges because each new type of armaments modifies the overall picture of global stability and we must take these modifications into consideration in our military planning.
I assure you that Russia is ready to take part in securing global strategic stability whatever the military-political situation in the world might be, given that strategic threats are the most dominant.
In essence, the gateway to a fair system of international relations lies through a full and innovative analysis of past experience. In this sense, we must constructively and with responsibility look at the interaction between Russia and NATO as an interaction between components of civilized strategic security.
How do we assess the North Atlantic alliance at present in our country?
First of all it is the most important geopolitical factor affecting the security of Russiaï¿½s western borders. At the same time, it is one of the main institutions of the Euro-Atlantic community of states, providing for transatlantic communication for the allies. Russia is trying to establish normal working relations with each of the states of this community. Hence, it is our desire to set up working links with the key bodies of such a community, including the new NATO.
At the same time we in Russia feel that the North Atlantic alliance shares our desire.
Having signed a declaration ï¿½Russia-NATO relations: a new qualityï¿½ in Rome more than two years ago we have stepped up the NATO-Russia relations to the level of greater responsibility for the security and stable development of our common civilized space.
It can be stated today with some certainty, that we really managed to fill the ideas proclaimed in the Rome declaration with practical content. This practical content is concrete joint ventures. Theoretical discussions of problematic issues more and more often give way to practical action. It is very important that such practical actions should not be reduced to tactical actions undertaken for actionï¿½s sake only, but be made part and parcel of strategic relations within the framework of the victory coalition.
Cooperation between the Navies is at present the most dynamic of all the spheres of common activities.
Iï¿½ll give you only a few examples. Several subordinate working groups on naval problems have been set up under the aegis of Russia-NATO Council. The agenda of the Council for the current year includes more than 100 items, 20 of which deal with naval problems.
Russia regularly takes part in sessions of the Conference of National Armaments Directors (CNAD) and the NATO Standardization Agency.
We regard as positive the mutual desire of Russia and NATO to cooperate in the sphere of research on compatibility of the systems of
search and rescue for submarine crews within the framework of the Industrial Consultative Group.
Russian Navy plans to take part in NATO exercise ï¿½Sorbet Royal ï¿½ 2005ï¿½ relating to the search and rescue of the disabled submarine crews.
In the sphere of naval cooperation, we have managed to attain an unprecedented level of transparency that is an important factor of European stability.
In recent years we have witnessed an effective development of Russia-NATO cooperation in such an important sphere as peacemaking.
We regard as extremely important the document ï¿½Political Aspects of Basic Concept for Russia-NATO Joint Peace Support Operationsï¿½, fixing the principles of joint peacekeeping activity on an equal rights basis.
To activate joint peacekeeping activity, preparations are being made for the so-called ï¿½procedure exerciseï¿½, during which Russian and NATO experts are going to specify military aspects of joint operations more exactly. Without such work it would be absolutely impossible to even speak of anything practical.
It took very little time to set up a new constructive component of liaison between Russiaï¿½s Ministry of Defense and NATO military structures.
Regardless of their introductory nature, all these measures made a significant contribution mainly to such priority areas as between bodies of operative control, inteoperability of means of communications and information, exchange of experience in personnel training, compatibility of national Armed Forces components (Air Force, the Navy).
Under the aegis of the Russia-NATO Council Working Group on Peacekeeping, practical recommendations were worked out to develop cooperation within the framework of the Russia-NATO Council on crisis regulation. Possibilities are being examined to cooperate with NATO in the sphere of logistical support of peacekeeping operations.
Cooperation between Russia and NATO in the sphere of military transport aviation is aimed at drawing up a joint program of maneuvers, comprising training tasks for military transport aviation during peacekeeping operations.
On the whole we managed to start a practical dialogue between the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation and NATO, obtain a considerable amount of information on the state of things in the sphere of operative compatibility, draw up priority directions for future cooperation.
In other words we reached a better understanding of each other, now we know in what direction we are moving.
It is understood that not all the differences in our relations have been solved.
You are all well aware of our calmly negative attitude towards expansion of the North Atlantic alliance, including the problem ï¿½NATO ï¿½ Baltics - CFEï¿½. What alarms us the most, from the point of view of our own security, is the NATO deployment of means and forces on the territory of its new members. It may become an obstacle in the way of development of further cooperation between Russia and NATO if in the near future these sensitive issues are not solved on the basis of mutual benefit and equality. We all need practical deeds ï¿½ clear-cut and understandable steps towards the interests of each other. We all need a new level of military and political transparency of functioning of the Alliance; we all need specific actions to remove a new gray zone in European arms control.
I think I should speak out on the last issue in more detail.
Our anxiety over the state of arms control in Europe is based on the fact that the ï¿½gray zoneï¿½ in this sphere has evolved in Europe for the first time in the last fifteen years. We wouldnï¿½t like Europe to return to the principles of balance of power, but there may be no vacuum in the military-political situation. Especially if this vacuum is filled with irresponsible statements of nationalistic character. Frankly speaking, the existence of European states that do not observe standard norms of democracy and human rights is interpreted by Russia as a threat. And this is logical: Russia is a democratic country that is able to protect its democratic achievements. The states deviating from norms of democracy and human rights, as a rule, become a source of threat to their neighbors, because they tend to provoke military and political tension. That is why
the Defense Minister is now talking about the state of democracy and human rights in Latvia, Estonia and some other countries ï¿½ members of the Alliance.
In any case, the ball is now in the court of our European partners, who ought to prove to Russia their devotion to the principles of stability and joint action in European security by their effort to teach some of the new member-countries the elementary foundations of democracy and military-political transparency. We are not satisfied with the situation, when everything comes down to promises and statements. The well-known principle ï¿½trust but verifyï¿½ is ever so actual, mainly as a result of such ambiguities.
The Russian side hopes that the positive experience of naval and peacekeeping cooperation may be extended to other spheres of joint action. In other words, we all need a new, more profound and practical agenda, in Russia-NATO relations.
For example, in the sphere of the struggle against terrorism.
We welcome the fact that the antiterrorist sphere has become an integral part of cooperation between Russia and the North Atlantic Alliance. We have come to share, which is important, a common understanding that any attempt to negotiate with terrorists contradicts the very idea of democracy.
Though even here there is a place for blatant inconsistency: on the one hand European countries at the EU summit issue a declaration on cooperation in fighting terrorism; on the other hand they are pushing Russia to start negotiations with terrorists in Chechnya.
I want everyone to hear this: Russia has never negotiated and will never negotiate with terrorists and bandits. All attempts to impose on us a kind of ï¿½reconciliationï¿½ with terrorists are doomed to failure. What is more, they show us the insincerity of some of our partners.
Another issue that stirs our anxiety is that some political forces in power keep tolerating the existence on their own territories some structures supporting extremists and donï¿½t express clear-cut condemnation of terrorism. It is well known, that international terrorists, wanted by authorities but escaping justice, may find refuge in some of the European countries. Terrorists will do their best to undermine the global antiterrorist coalition, which is the base of todayï¿½s world order.
Unfortunately, in some of the NATO countries, as well as in Europe as a whole, some politicians are still thinking in terms of the ï¿½cold warï¿½, when each of Russiaï¿½s failures was interpreted as their personal victory and when each of Russiaï¿½s foes automatically became their friend. Beware: such friends tend to bite the giving hand. This is being proved by the new history in Afghanistan and in the Balkans.
I hope that here I donï¿½t have to try to convince you of the extreme danger of the terrorist threat, which is the result of the process of globalization that has become a reality of the modern world.
Our common task is to draw up an efficient system of measures to prevent and nip in the bud any act of terrorism, as well as to secure the inevitable punishment of terrorists and their accomplices.
You must agree that this is one of those absolutely new tasks, which call for greater unity of NATO louder than the ï¿½policy of deterrenceï¿½, reiterating the non-existing Russian threat to NATO. You know, the aims and priorities of the Alliance, at least as declared openly, have changed de facto. Wouldnï¿½t it be logical to give a new sense to the acronym NATO and decipher it as ï¿½New AntiTerrorist Organizationï¿½?
Russia and its military organization including the Armed Forces play not the last role in the sphere of antiterrorism. In this connection I cannot avoid one question, which, I know, interests many of you.
The question is about the changes, which are under way in the Russian Armed Forces. The Army and the Navy of our country have returned to the normal life of a military organism.
Russiaï¿½s leaders are well aware of the existing problems and know how to solve them.
Problems are being solved. Permanent personnel cuts and structural reshuffles of different kinds gave way to a full-scale military construction. As a result, we witness a considerable increase in the fighting capacity of the Armed Forces due, among other reasons, to setting up troops of permanent fighting readiness, which is equivalent to your rapid reaction forces. Military alignments have been set up, which are capable of executing tasks at any theatre of war on the perimeter of Russiaï¿½s territory.
We managed to reveal in time a complex of modern threats that predetermined the arrangement of a system of priorities in military policy and military planning.
The practical realization of a contract service system has begun. This process implies a large number of difficulties, but the main steps have already been taken ï¿½ the system is working and only needs fine-tuning.
At present, the number of contract servicemen, including officers, makes up virtually half of the total number of personnel. By the year 2008 we expect this number to go up to as high as nearly 70%. Nearly every second sergeant is going to be a contract serviceman.
On our way towards reforming the Armed Forces, we do not regard the contract principle as an end in itself, but as a way of finding better solutions to the problems of increasing the fighting ability of the Armed Forces.
We managed to significantly raise the level of fighting training, step up the number and widen the scale of military exercises.
This was proved by the latest exercise ï¿½Mobility-2004ï¿½, unique in its aims and tasks, during which the troops were trained in strategic mobility.
I can say that we never had such training before. During it we checked the level of liaison between civil and military air controller services, tested the readiness of various services to solve questions of mobilization readiness. The main goal of the exercise ï¿½ improvement of the Armed Forces mobility ï¿½ was successfully achieved.
We clearly realize that apart from an improvement of fighting skills the Armed Forces need modern weapons and military equipment. The most important of the latest achievements in this field is the optimization of the arms and equipment delivery system.
Among the main directions in the sphere of military reform is improvement of military science and the system of military education, as well as the social component of the Armed Forces. We have started the practical solution of the acute problem of housing of servicemen by means of a mortgage & savings system and by setting up a fund for official lodging. A new moment, I want to draw your attention to, is the process of overall reorganization of the central bodies of military control with the aim of improving their operative ability to make strategic decisions and to attain a new quality of troop control.
This work is being done on the basis of an analysis of the results of the latest local military conflicts, including the war in Iraq, as well as in the framework of the administrative reform, which is under way in our country.
The Russian Armed Forces have not only got out of the system crisis of the 90-s. We have learned serious lessons from the poor situation that the military organization of our country used to be in.
Nowadays nobody in Russia has illusions as to whether or not a modern country is able to exist without strong power structures.
On the other hand, now we understand better the specific features of the relation between the Armed Forces and civil society, more clearly realize their place in the political structure of Russia, which is following the road towards creation of a strong democratic state.
It is this understanding that provides the basis for further constructive dialogue with all subjects of international politics, including NATO.
At the end I want to emphasize that Russia sees its future relations with NATO as cooperation of professionals, strategic cooperation in the framework of a professional ï¿½coalition of the winningï¿½, the members of which are able to overcome the ï¿½cold warï¿½ thinking inertia and to jointly confront the titanic global challenge to modern civilization.
Ladies and gentlemen!
I think that today we are in a position to set up such an effective system, such a professional coalition, which would fully protect us all against unilateral uncoordinated decisions in the military sphere and in the framework of which we could confront common global challenges and threats.
Everybody is going to benefit from this ï¿½ Russia, the NATO countries and the world as a whole.
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