If a 10-kiloton terrorist nuclear weapon explodes beside the New York Stock Exchange or the U.S. Capitol, or in Times Square, as many nuclear experts believe is likely in the next decade, then the next 9/11 commission will write a devastating critique of how we allowed that to happen.
As I wrote in my last column, there is a general conviction among many experts - though, in fairness, not all - that nuclear terrorism has a better-than-even chance of occurring in the next 10 years. Such an attack could kill 500,000 people.
Yet U.S. politicians have utterly failed to face up to the danger.
"Both Bush administration rhetoric and Kerry rhetoric emphasize keeping W.M.D. out of the hands of terrorists as a No. 1 national security priority," noted Michï¿½lle Flournoy of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "And when you look at what could have been done in the last few years, versus what has been done, there's a real gap."
So what should we be doing? First, it's paramount that we secure uranium and plutonium around the world. That's the idea behind the U.S.-Russian joint program to secure 600 metric tons of Russian nuclear materials. But after 12 years, only 135 tons have been given comprehensive upgrades. Some 340 tons haven't even been touched.
The Nunn-Lugar program to safeguard the material is one of the best schemes we have to protect ourselves, and it's bipartisan, championed above all by Senator Richard Lugar, an Indiana Republican. Yet President Bush has, incredibly, at various times even proposed cutting funds for it. He seems bored by this security effort, perhaps because it doesn't involve blowing anything up.
Joseph Cirincione of the Carnegie Endowment sees the effort against nuclear terrorism as having three components. One is the Pentagon's version of counterproliferation, which includes the war in Iraq and the missile defense system; this component is costing $108 billion a year, mostly because of Iraq. Then there's homeland security, costing about $37 billion a year. Finally, there's nonproliferation itself, like the Nunn-Lugar effort - and this struggles along on just $2 billion a year.
A second step we must take is stopping other countries from joining the nuclear club, although, frankly, it may now be too late. North Korea, Iran and (perhaps to a lesser extent) Brazil all seem determined to go ahead with nuclear programs.
Dennis Ross, the former Middle East peace negotiator, notes that if Iran develops nukes, jittery Saudi Arabia will seek to follow, and then Egypt, which prides itself as the leader of the Arab world.
Likewise, anxiety about North Korea is already starting to topple one domino - Japan is moving in the direction of a nuclear capability.
The best hope for stopping Iran and North Korea (and it's a bleak one) is to negotiate a grand bargain in which they give up nuclear aspirations for trade benefits. Mr. Bush's current policy - fist-shaking - feels good but accomplishes nothing.
President Clinton's approach to North Korea wasn't a great success, but at least North Korea didn't add to its nuclear arsenal during his watch. In just the last two years, North Korea appears to have gone to eight nuclear weapons from about two.
A third step is to prevent the smuggling of nuclear weapons into the U.S. Mr. Bush has made a nice start on that with his proliferation security initiative.
A useful addition, pushed by Senator Charles Schumer, would be to develop powerful new radiation detectors and put them on the cranes that lift shipping containers onto American soil. But while Congress approved $35 million to begin the development of these detectors, the administration has spent little or none of it.
Finally, Mr. Bush needs to display moral clarity about nuclear weapons, making them a focus of international opprobrium. Unfortunately, Mr. Bush is pursuing a new generation of nuclear bunker-buster bombs. That approach helps make nukes thinkable, and even a coveted status symbol, and makes us more vulnerable.
At other periods when the U.S. has been under threat, we mustered extraordinary resources to protect ourselves. If Mr. Bush focused on nuclear proliferation with the intensity he focuses on Iraq, then we might secure our world for just a bit longer.
1. Russian defense minister says US anti-missile system is no threat
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Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said Wednesday the creation of a US anti-missile defense system posed no threat to Russia.
"Personally, I don't see any threat to Russia's safety from the construction in the US of the first missile silos in its anti-missile defense system," Interfax quoted Ivanov as saying during a visit to a military base in the Caucasian region of North Ossetia.
Ivanov's comments came on the heels of an announcement by US President George W. Bush that the first ballistic missile interceptor had been installed at its silo in Fort Greely, in Alaska.
The Russian defense minister said he had been informed in 2000 that the US was planning to build ballistic missile interceptors in Alaska, adding that Russia was creating its own missile defense system.
"We have our own plans to develop strategic nuclear and space forces. I can assure you that the plans that we have will be rigourously carried out and observed," he said.
The construction of an US anti-missile system is a pet project of the Bush administration.
Fears that Russia may encounter a new threat when American military bases move eastward are founded, Chairman of the State Duma International Committee Konstantin Kosachyov said on the Ekho Moskvy Radio on Monday.
"Our worries are founded," he said. "We still have to make sure that no threats to Russia will appear after the relocation of American military bases, but there are no reasons for panic yet."
Kosachyov said there are rumors that new American bases might be opened in Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania.
"The Americans say that is being done for the anti-terrorist fight and the bases will be targeted southward. But while the deployment of military bases in Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania is the southeastern movement, a military base in Poland is the movement to the east," Kosachyov said.
"If bases are opened in the Baltic countries, that will be obviously done in provision of American interests," and Russia cannot be satisfied with that, he said.
"It is the most important for Russia in this situation to ensure transparency and predictability of U.S. military actions," he said.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld briefed his Russian counterpart over the weekend on U.S. plans to shift its forces stationed around the globe, in some cases potentially bringing them closer to Russia's borders.
Rumsfeld and Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov met over a two-day period in St. Petersburg on a variety of security issues, including U.S. plans to reorient its forces away from its Cold War alignment and toward one aimed at fighting Islamic terrorist groups. President Bush (news - web sites) is expected to discuss his plans for the military on Monday at a speech in Cincinnati.
Rumsfeld said in the coming years, forces will be leaving Germany during the worldwide shift. Some U.S. military units will return home, while the United States is expected to sign access agreements with new allies in Asia and elsewhere. Some new bases may have only a small regular American presence, but can be expanded rapidly in a crisis.
But any plans are far from final, Rumsfeld told reporters while flying home from Russia on Sunday. While there is no chance American troops would be based on Russian soil, Rumsfeld said "they have an interest" in the matter, presumably because some of the countries the United States is negotiating with are former Soviet republics and Warsaw Pact states.
"The Russians feel more and more that we are in their backyard. We feel like, well, we need to be there," said Eugene Rumer, an expert on the former Soviet Union at the National Defense University.
Often the United States and Russia don't agree, but no one issue appears to dominate the relationship. Thus far, the Bush and Putin administrations have been content to snipe at one another on specific matters, but as a whole they remain cordial.
"The relationship is a good one. It's one that has been evolving," Rumsfeld said.
Both defense chiefs discussed a variety of issues during Rumsfeld's visit, including:
_ Chechnya: Russia characterizes its conflict with Chechen separatists as part of the war on terrorism, but the U.S. government does not fully accept this view. Russia has sought American public support, but the Bush administration has held off.
U.S. defense officials say that there is an element of al-Qaida-related Islamic terrorism in Chechnya, but some separatist fighters are essentially secular rebels. Russian forces are also frequently accused of human rights violations in the conflict.
_ Georgia: Ivanov acknowledged concerns about the U.S. relationship with the government of Georgia. The American military has provided training for a Georgian counterterrorism force to fight Islamic extremists in the country, with which Russia has a growing border conflict.
_ NATO expansion: Russia is uneasy about some of the former Soviet republics in Europe and Warsaw Pact allies joining NATO, which now can put forces on Russia's border. The Russians may be trying to court Ukraine.
_ Central Asia: The U.S. military is steadily building relationships with several countries formerly part of the Soviet Union, like Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. According to defense officials, the aim is secure locations in the region to possibly base troops, as well as to aid these countries in fighting any domestic Islamic insurgencies.
But this, coupled with NATO's expansion, has made Russia uneasy, as more of its former holdings may now host U.S. troops.
_ Iran: The Bush administration protests many of Russia's commercial and energy ties to with Iran, which it says supports terrorism and pursues nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.
_ Missile defense: Both Rumsfeld and Ivanov said they were open to cooperation on programs to defend against ballistic missile attacks. The U.S. military is expected to have an operational capability at a missile interceptor base in Alaska soon, and it is beginning upgrades on a radar system in Greenland that would track missiles fired over Europe and the Atlantic Ocean. Some Russians are concerned the radar might somehow be a threat.
In recent years, Russia and the United States have been at odds over the Bush administration's withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and its decision to proceed with building a missile defense system.
_ Iraq: Russia opposed the U.S.-led Iraq invasion and has lately called for an international conference on the current situation there.
_ Weapons proliferation: Rumsfeld and Ivanov discussed plans to limit the spread of both weapons of mass destruction and other high-tech military systems, including portable surface-to-air missiles that officials fear could be used against airliners.
3. Russia and US neither adversaries nor allies: Russian defence minister
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Russia and the United States are "certainly not adversaries but neither are they allies," Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov said Sunday after talks with his US counterpart Donald Rumsfeld.
"We are at an intermediary stage," Ivanov said in an interview with Russian media.
"Rapprochement is an evolutionary process that cannot be started suddenly and completed a week later," he said.
"We need time and a constructive approach," Ivanov continued, stressing what he called the immense role played by both Russia's President Vladimir Putin and US President George W. Bush.
The Russian said common dangers, including "terrorism" and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, were pushing the two countries closer to each other.
Russia, with France and Germany, opposed the US-led invasion of Iraq last year.
Asked about his relations with Rumsfeld, Ivanov called them "good, informal, man-to-man," describing Rumsfeld as a man with a sense of humour and a "charismatic personality."
On Russia's relations with NATO, the Russian defence minister said these had in recent years "developed in a largely positive and steady way...without useless euphoria."
Russian and NATO warships would participate next month in joint patrols in the eastern Mediterranean as part of efforts to fight the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, clandestine immigration and drug-trafficking, he noted.
4. SERGEI IVANOV ON GROWING ACTIVITY OF RUSSIAN-U.S. DEFENSE CONTACTS
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The activity of contacts between the Russian Defense Ministry and U.S. Department of Defense has grown, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said at a press conference in St. Petersburg after talks with U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
"We've launched the talks and they will continue," Mr. Ivanov noted.
"We had over 20 bilateral contacts in 2003. Moreover, the Russian defense minister and U.S. defense secretary held 15 meetings over the last three years," Mr. Ivanov added.
The defense cooperation is being developed at the levels of top officials, general staffs and servicemen, he stressed.
On his part, Donald Rumsfeld reported that a number of issues of mutual interest were discussed at the talks.
Thinking about the evolution of our relations over the last 15 years, we see serious changes, he emphasized adding that our actions had become more predictable.
5. US, Russia defense ministers hold security talks
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Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov hosts US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld here Saturday for security talks expected to range widely over issues from Iraq and Iran to missile defense.
"With Russia, I think it's fair to say there is just a plethora of issues, every issue in the region," said a senior US defense official briefing reporters ahead of Rumsfeld's trip.
Rumsfeld, who arrived here Friday from talks with Ukrainian leaders in Crimea, had a full schedule of cultural events as well, which US officials hoped would provide opportunities to informally sound out Ivanov on recent trends in Russian policy.
"There have been reports as you know about disturbing trends in Russia as far as trends about democratic and political development, media freedoms," the US defense official said.
"These are also areas I would expect we would have discussions with the minister to get his perspective," he said.
Rumsfeld, who visited Afghanistan earlier this week, intended to brief Ivanov on the situation there as the country braces for presidential elections in October amid fears of violence by Taliban insurgents.
Likewise in Iraq, Rumsfeld has been calling for contributions of foreign troops to protect the UN mission that will help organize elections there even as US troops move to crush a Shiite insurgency in Najaf.
US concerns about Iran's nuclear program, as well as its longstanding opposition to a Russian deal to build a nuclear reactor in Iran, also were expected to come up in the talks here.
In a stop in Azerbaijan this week, Rumsfeld said Iran's nuclear ambitions were a major worry for the world amid fears that states possessing nuclear weapons might cooperate with terrorists.
Russian concerns about a US missile defense system which is due to be operational later this year also were expected to come up.
US officials said Rumsfeld was prepared to discuss cooperation with Moscow on missile defense.
Another thorny issue is Georgia, where tensions have flared between Moscow and the new government of President Mikhail Saakashvili over the country's breakaway South Ossetia region.
Rumsfeld in a visit to Georgia in December publicly urged Moscow to make good on commitments under a 1999 agreement to withdaw its troops from the country.
The senior managers of America's seven and Russia's eleven largest national laboratories have had a meeting initiated by the Kurchatov Institute (Russia) and the Sandia National Laboratories (U.S.) in Washington. The meeting resulted in the establishment of an unprecedented nuclear power alliance headed by academician Yevgeny Velikhov, president of the Kurchatov Institute, and Paul Robinson, director of the Sandia Laboratories, Nezavisimaya Gazeta reports.
The alliance's objective is to convince the two countries' governments and parliaments of the need to develop nuclear reactors and energy technologies more actively. According to experts, humanity will be using three times more energy by 2050, and if coal power stations remain the main energy suppliers, humanity will see an energy collapse worsened by unprecedented atmospheric pollution. Scientists forecast that nuclear power stations will cover 40% of the world's energy demand by 2050.
The slogan of ensuring the security of nuclear weapons and materials in Russia has unexpectedly come to the forefront of the U.S. Democratic Party's election platform. Vice presidential candidate Senator John Edwards spoke about this particular issue at Democratic National Convention in Boston in late July.
The very fact that the United States is concerned about the security of nuclear arms in Russia is gratifying. Clearly, the problem of the proliferation of nuclear weapons and their components across the planet, which is now covered by a dense network of terrorist organizations, can only be solved through close cooperation between countries that are in any way connected to nuclear weapons or nuclear energy.
However, it is also clear that cooperation and shared responsibility do not relieve these countries of their obligations to ensure their states' nuclear security. It is important to note that Russia, one of the most powerful nuclear countries, is now a secure nuclear country.
Throughout the history of the Soviet Union and Russia, there has never been an attempt to seize nuclear weapons inside Russia, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said on August 3. Nor have there ever been any attacks on any nuclear facilities. "Regrettably, the myth that Russian nuclear weapons are improperly guarded is widely spread in the world," he said. "However, this is just a myth."
The Defense Ministry is fully aware of its responsibility as regards the security of nuclear weapons and continuously upgrades its security as it reacts "to the constantly changing tactics of terrorists," said Mr. Ivanov.
Therefore, at threat is more likely to emanate from other areas. Weapons-grade nuclear waste, which could come from either the military or nuclear power plants, seems to be very attractive to terrorists, as it can be used to make a dirty bomb (an explosive and nuclear waste). Although a dirty bomb cannot cause considerable destruction, it can contaminate a vast area with radioactive materials, and therefore the consequences of detonating a dirty bomb can be compared to the effects of the Chernobyl disaster.
Unlike Ukraine, Russia's southwestern neighbor, until recently there have not even been attempts to export nuclear waste from Russia. In a special operation in the Crimea in April this year, the Ukrainian Security Service arrested a group in the city of Armyansk that was trying to sell two containers of Cesium-137. Such cases are "isolated" in Ukraine and "are prevented by Ukrainian law enforcement agencies in Ukraine in good time," noted Ukrainian security services.
Unused and spent nuclear fuel from research reactors built by the Soviet Union in other countries presented a certain problem until now. For financial reasons, it was difficult to organize the transportation and processing of this waste in Russia. However, the recent Russian-US agreement providing for financial assistance in returning nuclear fuel from 17 countries to Russia will make it possible to conclude this process as early as 2009. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei discussed this subject during a meeting in Moscow late in June. Mr. ElBaradei said that he "is inspired by the Russian-US agreement and intends to discuss its implementation."
Russia has become a strong yet secure nuclear power through successful domestic policy and effective international agreements.
2. RUSSIAN, GERMAN SPECIALISTS TO BOOST KOLA NUCLEAR POWER PLANT SAFETY
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Russian and German specialists are working to enhance radiation safety at the Kola nuclear power plant in the Murmansk region (it is found beyond the polar circle on the border with Norway and is washed by the Barents sea). They improve wall and ceiling waterproofing in the unit 2 boron regulation system, the administration said.
"The boron regulation room is where boron solutions are prepared to be used in continuous process. Full waterproofing will increase radiation and industrial safety," it said.
Waterproofing is a multistage process employing updated materials and technologies to attain the 100-percent result.
Walls and ceiling preparation involves the use of a special solution converting water-soluble salts (chlorides and sulfates) harmful to the structure into insoluble or hardly soluble compounds.
The surface is protected from penetrating water, acids and alkalis by an injection froth. A very efficient material goes for elastic sealing of cracks and joints in concrete.
A cement-based binder is used for antirust protection of steel rods and contact between concrete and cement surfaces. Surface finishing and sealing of cracks and seams is done by a fine-grained cement filler.
At the final stage, the concrete surface is protected by a waterproof epoxy material.
1. On Washington's Statements About Plans for Redeployment of US Troops in Europe
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
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Moscow certainly has taken note of the appropriate part of US President George W. Bush's speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Cincinnati on August 16.
The American side had preliminarily informed us of the plans for changes in the basing of US forces abroad because of the altered character of threats since the end of the Cold War and, first and foremost, the growing threat of international terrorism.
Furthermore we note that it is primarily about the return to the US of a part of the American troops and weapons abroad, as also about a review of the current scheme of basing so as to bring US military contingents nearer to the sources of possible threats.
In this context we continue to accentuate the American side's attention to the fact that any plans in this area should fully correspond to the obligations the US has assumed for the limitation of arms and forces, in particular, those contained in the CFE Treaty, the Russia-NATO Founding Act, and the statements of the Russia-NATO Council. We also presume that, as US official representatives have assured us, American military bases will not be positioned in the Baltic area and Transcaucasia. As to the Afghanistan counterterrorist operation related bases deployed in Central Asia, they we understand will be removed as this operation draws to an end.
Our attitude towards these plans will depend on their further concretization and on the extent to which they pose a threat to Russian interests.
2. Secretary Rumsfeld Press Conference with Russian Minister of Defense Sergei Ivanov
Department of Defense
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Minister of Defense Sergei Ivanov: Good afternoon. We've started our negotiations with U.S. Secretary of Defense Mr. Rumsfeld. They will go on all today. I would like to note as an intermediate point the growing intensity of our bilateral contacts between our defense departments in the recent times. It's enough to say, that this year, just bilaterally, I emphasize this, not within the NATO-Russia framework, we've held more than 20 mutual events. And not only on the high level, though this is our 15th meeting with Mr. Secretary over the past three years, but also on the level of the General Staffs, Joint Chiefs of Staffs within the armed services, our military people in the first place.
You know in the Norwegian Sea this coming September we are going to have joint combat practice, naval exercises. Preparation for this serious event is going on in full, we are planning to involve quite serious forces from the Northern Fleet, and I believe this training will go on at a good level. The chief outcome of this exercise hopefully will be enhanced interoperability of the fleets of Russia and the U.S. Navy. We've discussed in details and are going to discuss more the so-called Camp David checklist as assigned by the two Presidents of the two countries, that is, the short list of taskings for cooperation to be taken, steps forward in the military-military and technical and defense technology- related spheres.
We of course have discussed in details questions of bilateral cooperation in counter-terrorism and nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction -- issues that have been getting more acute, and objectively dictate the necessity of our close cooperation. One of the most promising topics here is cooperation in the field of joint control and restriction, interdiction of portable missile defense systems. Of course, we've discussed various regional problems and conflicts.
Besides that, I have in detail briefed Mr. Rumsfeld on the results of the recently held "Accident 2004" exercises, which related to nuclear facilities of Russia, means of securing their defense, during transportation of nuclear weapons, and battles against the consequences of potential accidents. Mr. Rumsfeld in detail and openly briefed me on U.S. planning in terms of the reconfiguration of its military posture. Thank you.
Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld: Thank you, Mr. Minister. The Minister advised me earlier today that we've met some 15 times in the last three and half years, but in lots of different cities in his country, our country, as well as in various other locations around the world -- but never in a city more beautiful than this. And we have had a wonderful opportunity to see it today; and I am old enough to remember this heroic city and the terrible loss of human life as it successfully resisted the Nazi blockade during World War II. It's wonderful to be here and to be able to see some of the important historic sites. As well as have the meetings that we've been having.
The relationship between our two countries when I was Secretary of Defense back in the 1970s, needless to say, was notably different. When one thinks of the way the relationship has evolved over the past 15 years, and is continuing to evolve, it's clear that it has increasingly developed into one of cooperativeness, greater openness and predictability. And that's true for a variety of reasons: the world's changed in this new century, and as the Minister indicated, we have talked about a great many subjects of mutual interest already today, and will be this afternoon and tomorrow as well. And what is clear is that the security interests of our two countries have over the period of time clearly converged in many important respects.
Not least of which is the reality of the nexus between terrorism and the proliferation of increasingly more powerful weapons, weapons of mass destruction that have the capability of killing, not simply thousands, but tens of thousands of people. So it's rather clear to me that our security cooperation promises to broaden and deepen over the coming years, and certainly that is the interest and goal of the United States. Thank you.
Q1: Question (Tom Shanker, New York Times): Mr. Minister, we spoke in Colorado Springs, at the NATO Defense Ministers Summit. You expressed serious concerns about the NATO expansion to the Baltics, you know, that NATO jet fighters would be three minutes from St. Petersburg. Well, here we are now in beautiful St. Petersburg, the Baltics are members of NATO. I'm curious whether this discussion came up today, whether your concerns have been relieved at all. And Mr. Secretary, do you think this is a valid source of friction between our two countries?
Ivanov: Mr. Shanker, I'm ready to give you an honest answer to your question. The problem is not only about aircraft, although one can't change the geography, and in theory, the aircraft have a flight time about two or three minutes to St. Petersburg from the Baltics. I have been asked more than once what my attitude is towards NATO expansion eastwards, and I have more than once answered that my attitude is reserved and negative. I think you will agree with me, that since the Baltic countries joined NATO, NATO's security has not increased as a result of this. After all, these countries are consumers of security, rather than producers of security. Of course, it is not our business to speculate about how effectively NATO country taxpayers use their resources. Of course, the issue is not these four aircraft. From the military point of view, these four aircraft do not represent any military threat to Russia. In the military respect, there is only one problem.
We do not have any kind of bilateral agreements with those states on limitations on dangerous military activities. We do have these kind of agreements with the USA, China, Norway, and a number of other countries, but nothing with the Baltic countries. We do not want any additional incidents. But, the most important thing is, we do not understand what these four planes can actually intercept -- Al-Qaeda, Taliban, or something else? -- in this part of the world. The only thing they can actually intercept is the mythical Soviet threat. The problem lies elsewhere. I have already said this, to be more precise, from our point of view, not everything is going well in the Baltic countries with the human rights, at least from the standpoint of general European and EU standards. As far as the glorification and worshipping for the SS divisions, which used to be stationed out there and the erection of monuments to ss Waffen division, this is something, as we say in Russian, not in any normal paradigm. Thank you.
Rumsfeld: You asked if I thought there was any reason that there ought to be any friction between the Baltic states, or the United States and NATO and Russia, and the answer is no, I don't. The relationship between NATO and Russia is one that has been initiated, has been growing, and has been constructive. Representatives from Russia meet with NATO Secretary-Generals, and with the Council from time to time, on a fairly regular basis. There are various activities that have been engaged in. With respect to this particular issue, it seems to me that this is relatively new issue. And I quite agree that neighboring states need to have arrangements whereby they can engage in activities that they in their sovereign interests believe appropriate, but that avoid any kinds of unnecessary incidents, just as we have relationships with your country and other countries, to try to avoid unnecessary incidents between various types of military, whether it be land, sea or air.
Q2: [Itar-TASS] The question is how does the U.S. plan to modernize the Greenland-based U.S. radar, how do those plans correlate with rather uneasy dialogue Russia and the U.S. have on ABM issues?
Rumsfeld: The U.S. has had a radar on Greenland for a some period. We recently have come to an understanding with Denmark and Greenland with respect to some upgrades to that radar. This has all been announced, it's very transparent, and it very likely will take a period of some years for that to occur. It would be part of a capability that will evolve over the years to deal with the possible threat of a rogue nation ballistic missile attack against the U.S. or our friends or allies. A radar of that type obviously doesn't threaten anybody.
Ivanov: It is more difficult for me to answer this question, though I can admit that we are also very much interested in the development of this kind of radar. We can look at this from a broader perspective. I think, that in the course of our developing cooperation, questions like these will start to naturally fall aside. At least, I hope this will be the case. Theoretically, Russia has never excluded cooperation with the U.S. in the area of ABMs. But under one very important condition: such cooperation should fall under total governmental control. This is a very sensitive area, and the governmental control should be ensured 100%. By the way, Mr. Secretary and myself gave instructions to our experts to speed up the elaboration of agreements in the sphere of high-tech defense technologies. We're not blaming our subordinates, they have accomplished notable work in recent times, but we would like it to move even faster.
Q3. Question (Toby Zakaria, Reuters): Mr. Secretary, given what you've said yesterday, that people who use violence to derail the democratic process in Iraq would be stopped, does the United States support this new round of negotiations with Sadr in Najaf? And, what are you hoping they will accomplish? And Mr. Minister, if I may, did Iraq come up in your discussions today with the Secretary? And what is your view on the situation there? Thank you.
Rumsfeld: Iraq is a sovereign country; the Prime Minister and the government of that country is engaged in attempting to move towards elections next year. Part of their task is to work with Coalition countries and attempt to see that there is order and a reasonably lawful environment where the government can proceed and elections can take place. Clearly, the behavior of Sadr and his supporters in Najaf have been unlawful and harmful to peace and order in the community. We have confident military Coalition officials working with the Iraqi government; I've been in meetings -- and I'm not following it from hour to hour -- but they certainly understand that it's important that they not allow independent militias to kill innocent men, women and children in that country. How they go about that on any particular moment of the day is for them to decide.
Ivanov: Well, the issue of Iraq has not so far been taken up in our work, but at the forthcoming talks -- which are going to continue into this day -- we are sure to take up this issue. Our attitudes towards this whole issue of Iraq, well, our national leadership has more often than not voiced its attitudes there, too. We're advocating a peaceful settlement of this whole situation, in particular under the aegis of the United Nations. You may recall that Russia was the first country to launch the idea of convening an international conference on Iraq, with the involvement of all the belligerent parties of the neighboring states to Iraq; and I believe that the need for such a conference has only increased.
Q4: Question for the Russian Defense Minister: What is your attitude towards the United States rendering assistance and aid, including military assistance, to Georgia -- a state with precisely which we have rather complicated, uneasy relations?
A: Ivanov: We discussed this subject. I have spoken about some apprehensions and certain worries of the Russian Federation on this -- I do not want to spell them out. The situation in Georgia -- I underline, in Georgia -- is developing into a very dangerous scenario, a very dangerous spiral. At the same time, it was also a relief to learn that last night there was no heavy crossfire. You know our position well: we believe that as a first step, all unlawful armed formations in the zone of conflict must pull out. As far as the often cited accusation by Georgia against Russian peacekeepers to the effect that they are allegedly not objective, that they allegedly support just one part of this conflict, that's complete rubbish. Even from the viewpoint of common logic: for the past ten years, the situation has been fine, no one blamed anyone, and then just in a matter of one hour for some reason a conflict has flared up, and the peacekeepers are somehow guilty -- that's like calling a healthy head sick.
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