1. Biotech firm seeks to tap into Russian biowarfare expertise (excerpted)
Mike W. Thomas
San Antonio Business Journal
(for personal use only)
After the Cold War, the Soviet scientists who had helped develop some of the world's most lethal biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction were transferred to the new Russian Federation's Ministry of Public Health. The ministry oversees the State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology, also known as VECTOR.
Today, the building that houses VECTOR is in bad need of repairs and much of the infrastructure at the facility is rundown, Moyer says. The scientists who work there, many of whom have access to and knowledge of biowarfare techniques, are underpaid, she adds. Many of them make no more than the equivalent of $6,000 U.S. dollars per year.
"There is a concern that some of these scientists who are not paid well might make decisions that are not in the best interests of world peace," Moyer says.
By bringing them collaboration deals and business opportunities, U.S. officials hope to redirect some of this talent in a manner that would be less detrimental to U.S. security interests.
INCELL, a biotechnology company based in San Antonio, has been working on an oral smallpox vaccine to take the place of the decades-old, needle-injected vaccination.
Moyer was invited to a VECTOR Conference in Novosibirsk, Russia (the capital of Siberia), held from Sept. 8-10, to learn about technology commercialization opportunities. She came back with about a dozen proposals for possible product collaborations.
In addition, Moyer's other company, TEKSA Innovations Corp., is in talks to possibly form a holding company for several Russian-based firms with technologies that could be licensed to INCELL.
TEKSA is a technology business consortium that provides technology transfers, business-development assistance and other resources, such as laboratory space, to small businesses.
"They have a lot of tools that could potentially be very useful," Moyer says. "They had never really thought about commercialization opportunities before."
Professor Lev S. Sandakhchiev, director general of VECTOR, says the recent conference has helped open new doors for the scientists there who have until now only collaborated on military and government-backed ventures.
"This international event has contributed to expanding and strengthening professional and human relationships between Russian scientists and international researchers," he says. "It has also encouraged the development of new frameworks for collaboration and partnerships."
Moyer notes that collaborations with U.S. companies are much more enticing for the Russian scientists because the distribution of royalties tends to be much greater. In Russia, collaborations are strictly limited to 15 percent return for the scientists and 85 percent for the organization. But in the United States, it is more common to have 50-50 deals.
"These scientists who have worked on developing chemical and biological weapons have also worked to develop protections from exposure," Moyer says. "They have a lot of knowledge and skills that could be beneficial."
Moyer adds that she is even looking to hire a Russian scientist with expertise in smallpox vaccinations. VECTOR is the only other place in the world besides the United States known to have live specimens of the smallpox virus.
Moyer will be returning to Russia to participate in the First Annual Chemical Science and Commercialization Conference that will be held in Moscow on Sept. 27-29.
She was competitively selected to receive a grant for travel to Moscow under the U.S. Civilian R&D Foundation Enhancing Scientific Connections Program. The U.S. Department of State Bio-Chem Redirect Program is helping to sponsor the conference.
The aim of this conference is to introduce 24 top chemical and biological research institutes from Russia and Eurasia to potential Western industrial partners, investors and collaborators. The conference will focus on technical topics, including organic and inorganic chemistry, polymer chemistry and catalysis, synthetic chemistry, analytical chemistry, chemical production, toxicology testing, occupational risk assessment, and environmental testing.
An official with the U.S. State Department, who requested anonymity, says the government is trying to provide an element of risk mitigation for companies that might be interested in setting up collaborations with Russian scientists.
"This is the first time we have tried to do this, and the response has been overwhelming," the State Department official says. "We've had lots of companies calling us asking to be included."
The official went on to praise Moyer as an excellent example of someone who has made a successful leap from academia to the business world.
"Dr. Moyer can draw valuable parallels from her own experience that these scientists will find especially useful," she says. "Her kind of background is precisely what we are looking for and is particularly helpful in achieving our objectives."
Moyer says she has found that many of the Russian scientists are risk adverse and believe it is too difficult to form a company and commercialize a product.
"If we can just work with them and, in essence, teach them how to fish, I think we can pave the way for many more collaborative opportunities," she says.
Moyer says teaching the scientists how they can bootstrap their own companies and making them realize that not everything requires venture capital to get off the ground is an important first step.
2. Western Companies, Russian Scientific Institutes to Meet to Discuss Chemical Research Commercialization
Global Security Newswire
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Representatives from Western companies and scientific institutes in the former Soviet Union are set to meet next week as part of efforts to prevent former Soviet chemical weapons scientists from transferring their expertise to rogue states or terrorist groups.
The conference, set to be held Sept. 27-29 in Moscow, is intended to help scientists from chemical research and production institutes in Russia and other former Soviet states to commercialize their efforts. More than 200 people have registered to attend the conference, which is being sponsored by the U.S. State Departmentï¿½s Bio-Chem Redirect Program.
Conference participants, according to a State Department official, include representatives from 35 Western companies including General Electric, Dow Chemical and Sigma-Aldrich, as well as a number of smaller firms. Scientists from 25 research institutes in Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Ukraine are also planning to attend.
All of the institutes being represented at the conference are ï¿½priorities for engagement,ï¿½ the State Department official said, meaning that each employ at least one former Soviet chemical weapons scientist.
Nonproliferation experts said the conference is the first time an effort was being made to engage former chemical weapons scientists. Much of the chemical nonproliferation focus in former Soviet states has been on the elimination of the vast stockpile of remaining actual chemical weapons, said Raphael Della Ratta of the Russian-American Nuclear Security Advisory Council in Washington.
The various research institutes are set at the conference to present overviews of their technical capabilities and research projects, in what the State Department official described as an attempt to ï¿½market themselvesï¿½ to Western companies. The conference will also include presentations intended to aid commercializing research efforts in Russia and Eurasia.
In addition, ï¿½matchmakingï¿½ sessions are scheduled to allow representatives from Western companies to request and meet specific Russian and Eurasian scientists. The various Western companies attending the conference have ï¿½vastly taken advantageï¿½ of such sessions, the State Department official said.
There has been a ï¿½tremendous responseï¿½ from Western companies in attending the conference, the official said.
ï¿½The former Soviet Union is an untapped marketplace for chemical science and research,ï¿½ the official said. ï¿½Hopefully some good fruitful relationships will come out of this.ï¿½
1. Controlling the genie: Bush, Kerry views on a nuclear 9/11
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It's the "absolute weapon" - the ultimate weapon of mass destruction. Biological and chemical threats pale beside the awesome power of nuclear weapons that can vaporize a city and kill or sicken millions. In this age of global terror, the catastrophic potential of a nuclear strike against this country is all too easy to imagine.
However, the attack probably won't come in a ballistic missile launched by a hostile power but in a crate secreted in one of the millions of shipping containers docked at a U.S. port, or in a knapsack carried across a remote stretch of U.S. border. If terrorists manage to obtain nuclear weapons from badly guarded Russian stockpiles or from emerging nuclear powers like North Korea or Iran, this nation could face a nuclear 9/11.
President George W. Bush and his Democratic rival, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, have substantively different approaches to handling the threat of nuclear proliferation. While it has received less attention than the war in Iraq, or indeed the war in Vietnam, it may well be the most profound and difficult question that the next president will have to deal with. Kerry began to lay out a vision of how he'd deal with these problems in a speech at Temple University Friday. While Bush has yet to give such a speech, his program of missile defense and part of his rationale for invading Iraq are both tied to the nuclear issue. The questions are complex:
NUCLEAR PROLIFERATION: This is the classic conundrum that has existed ever since the nuclear genie was out of the bottle. Once the major powers had a nuclear arsenal - and used it as a mutual deterrent - what would prevent other nations from obtaining the same deterrent? The international Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty was the answer, and most major military powers consented to abide by its restrictions through the Cold War. Self-imposed restraints worked for South Africa, Argentina and Brazil, all of which contemplated going nuclear. But this still-necessary approach is not working well any longer. India and Pakistan broke the treaty and became nuclear powers to deter each other's aggressive moves. The only constraint, other than moral, is the imposition of economic and diplomatic sanctions on violators. That has proved a hollow deterrent for states intent on breaking the treaty.
ROGUE STATES: North Korea and Iran are both suspected of developing nuclear weapons. Pyongyang pulled out of the treaty and all but acknowledged it has a small arsenal already. Six-way talks among the United States and North Korea's immediate neighbors have broken down repeatedly and Pyongyang is halting all negotiations until after the U.S. election.
Iran, though still a signatory to the treaty, is breaking it in spirit. International inspectors found that Tehran is enriching enough uranium to produce nuclear weapons. Iran says the enrichment process is intended only for experimental and civilian-power purposes - a disingenuous denial. What Iran wants is a deterrent against a possible U.S. invasion or a preventive first strike by nuclear-armed Israel. Pressure from three major trading partners, Britain, France and Russia, have had little effect.
LOOSE NUKES: This is shorthand for the massive stockpiles of nuclear material spread throughout the vast Russian Federation, most of which are lightly guarded at best. Moscow cannot account for some of its plutonium and for nearly half of its "suitcase bombs," portable tactical devices that pack enough power to demolish a small city. Suitcase bombs, fortunately, can only be activated by secret codes, but no one knows whether the codes are still secure.
More worrisome is the possibility that domestic terrorists, like Chechen rebels, could steal or buy enough plutonium to make a bomb and use it against Russia or smuggle it to idelogical allies like al-Qaida to use against the United States. The solution is to help Russia guard its stockpiles, purchase its excess plutonium and dispose of it. That's expensive and U.S.-funded security upgrades have been put in place for only 22 percent of Russia's stored nuclear material.
But Russia is not the only one with loose nukes. More than 100 research reactors operate throughout the world with enriched uranium and most are guarded only by rent-a-cop patrols and a chain-link fence. Again, better security is the answer, but it costs real money.
In addition, Pakistan's top nuclear scientist is known to have sold nuclear technology secrets, though not materials, to the highest bidders. Pakistan's stockpiles are heavily guarded, but there are Taliban and al-Qaida sympathizers within the ruling circles who could smuggle out nuclear material.
Candidates' views differ
Kerry and Bush have very different ideological approaches to this problem. Bush continues to insist that the deployment of a hugely expensive missile-defense shield would protect the nation against a nuclear attack. But even if the shield were to prove effective it would only protect against an attack from a nation able to launch a single missile at a time; multiple launches would defeat it. And it would be impotent against the smuggling of a small nuclear device by terrorists. It's a Cold War defense that's almost irrelevant in the war on terror.
Kerry, a fierce critic of the missile defense ploy, insists that multilateral diplomatic efforts could persuade North Korea and Iran to give up their nuclear plans. But such approaches have had no effect so far. The Bush administration instead has already begun talking about the need for "regime change" in Tehran - a provocative threat that is certain to motivate Iran to speed up its nuclear weapons program. And Bush made matters worse with North Korea when, on taking office, he refused to negotiate with Pyongyang at all. That changed, but it did great damage.
Kerry instead has hinted that more carrots and fewer sticks are needed to curb North Korea's nuclear ambitions. He leans toward reviving ex-President Bill Clinton's Agreed Framework, which offered $2 billion in economic aid and new civilian reactors in exchange for a nuclear freeze. North Korea cheated on that pact almost immediately, prompting Bush's refusal to negotiate.
Threat reduction initiative
Perhaps Bush's most constructive policy is his launching this year of a Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI), which is designed to remove nuclear bomb material entirely from vulnerable storage sites throughout the world. That ambitious plan, however, hasn't been funded and will depend on congressional cooperation. For his part, Kerry said Friday that he would have a program to secure all loose nukes within four years, negotiate directly with North Korea and seek a "verifiable" global ban on nuclear weapons production.
Regime change schemes and preventive military attacks against a possible future threat are very risky and may only increase the desire of smaller nations to gain nuclear weapons. The United States has always reserved the right to pre-empt a demonstrably imminent threat. There is no such threat from a hostile nation now. And the only way to prevent a nuclear 9/11 is to deny terrorists access to materials and technology. Regardless of who is president, such initiatives as GTRI and a creative and aggressive approach to elicit international cooperation on eliminating nuclear dangers are essential. Those are slender reeds to lean on, but they're all we have.
Test-ban treaty countries at the United Nations Thursday urged more nuclear states to end testing, which they say would be an important step toward disarmament and non-proliferation.
In a joint-ministerial statement, 42 foreign ministers bid nations that have not yet signed or ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty to do so without delay.
The CTBT cannot take effect until 12 key states sign on, including the United States, Iran, China, North Korea, Israel, India and Pakistan. At the time of the treaty's adoption in 1996, the commitment of these nations was judged essential because they all possessed nuclear power or research reactors. If it comes into effect, the CTBT would ban nuclear test explosions anywhere in the world, halting nuclear proliferation.
The treaty has 172 signatories and 116 ratifications. Bosnia and Herzegovina, participating in the United Nations' four-day treaty signing event, is expected to sign the CTBT on Friday.
There is, I think, an obvious linkage between the CTBT and nuclear weapons proliferation and other security risks, said Finland's Foreign Minister Errki Toumioj, citing as a major concern the possibility that such weapons may fall into the hands of terrorists.
According to information released Thursday by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations' atomic watchdog group, terrorists may already possess nuclear material. The agency said that 60 potentially illicit trafficking incidents have been reported since the beginning of this year alone. These incidents include potential cases of unauthorized acquisition and transfer of nuclear and other radioactive materials.
Each case has been registered in the agency's Illicit Trafficking Database, established in 1995 in response to increasing reports of criminal dealings with radioactive material. The database consists of intelligence gathered by 80 participating nations about trafficking of nuclear materiel.
In addition to the 60 state-confirmed trafficking cases, there are some 540 other unconfirmed cases that have been reported in the past decade.
Clearly, the circumstances that first led to a plan for protection against nuclear and radiological terrorism have not diminished, said IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei in a recent report to the agency's board of governors.
There is a very strong feeling among countries in the world that the threat of nuclear weapons and proliferation has not been adequately met, said Toumioj. All the governments that have signed on to the statement today are working in their bilateral relations and jointly toward getting those who have still yet to sign and ratify the treaty to do so as soon as possible, he said.
Efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons gained momentum in 1963 with the Partial Test Ban Treaty which prohibited testing in the atmosphere, underwater and in space. The 1968 Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty was aimed at preventing non-nuclear nations from acquiring or manufacturing such weapons.
The CTBT differs because it bans all nuclear test explosions, even non-military, including those underground. The comprehensive nature of the testing ban would prevent the development of new nuclear weapons or weapons improvement.
If the CTBT takes effect, every nation that has ratified the treaty will have to open its borders to scientists whenever it is suspected of hosting a nuclear test explosion. And with the creation of what Wolfgang Hoffmann, executive secretary of Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization, calls the global verification regime, explosions would not go unnoticed.
The verification process, which the organization has been developing since the treaty first opened for signatures eight years ago, consists of an International Monitoring System, a consultation and clarification process, on-site inspections and confidence-building measures.
Of the 337 IMS facilities mandated by the treaty, 190 are close to being ready, Hoffmann said. The monitoring system uses seismic, hydro-acoustic, infrasound and radionuclide technologies to detect evidence of possible nuclear test explosions.
For now, these facilities will go unused while nations supportive of the CTBT use their diplomatic sway to persuade nations to embrace the treaty. We have had some successes as the number of ratifications continues to grow, Toumioj said. But we still have a lot of work to do.
1. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov calls for legal basis to fight nuclear terrorism
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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a news conference on Friday that the international community needed to create a universal and flawless legal basis for effective struggle against terrorism. In his reply to the Itar-Tass correspondent, Lavrov said that he considered ï¿½the sphere of nuclear terrorismï¿½ to be one of such legal gaps.
ï¿½We already have a U.N. Security Council resolution on curbing the access of non-state subjects to materials linked to weapons of mass destruction,ï¿½ the Russian minister went on to say. He also recalled the existence of the Russian draft of an international convention against acts of nuclear terrorism. ï¿½I think that in contemporary conditions when a threat of new attacks by terrorist international is becoming more apparent, we should intensify our work on this project,ï¿½ Lavrov stressed.
Some situations, such as the one that occurred on September 11, 2001, require quick actions. In this case, the U.N. Security Council should take the responsibility and fill in the existing legal gaps in full compliance with the Organizationï¿½s Charter. All resolutions to be passed under Article 7 of the U.N. Charter will become international laws.
ï¿½It would be ideal if such resolutions are followed by international conventions,ï¿½ Lavrov stressed.
When he first ran for president, George W. Bush talked tough on Russia. He threatened to cut off international aid if Moscow continued ``killing women and children, leaving orphans and refugees'' in its war in Chechnya.
This year, as president, Bush casts Russia not as an oppressor, but as a victim of terror -- even as fighting continues in Chechnya and President Vladimir Putin moves to consolidate power in ways seen as threatening the country's fledgling democracy.
It's a shift that reflects the common cause Bush and Putin found in fighting terrorism after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and the personal relationship they had developed even before then.
It's also a change that fits neatly into Bush's re-election campaign.
Voters see Bush as the best candidate to deal with terrorism, according to opinion polls. His campaign has stressed that issue, warning that terrorist threats remain.
That point was reinforced by this month's massacre at a school in Beslan, Russia, with its horrific images of dead and wounded children.
Beslan and other attacks make terrorism a greater concern to U.S. voters, especially women, who have traditionally voted for Democrats, said Ross Baker, a Rutgers University political scientist.
``I think almost anything that happens in the realm of terrorism anywhere in the world helps the president,'' Baker said.
Bush cited Beslan in his speech last Tuesday to the United Nations. ``We saw once again how the terrorists measure their success: in the death of the innocent and in the pain of grieving families.'' Vice President Dick Cheney on Thursday mentioned Beslan as part of the global war on terror.
But Bush's focus on terrorism has raised questions in Congress about whether Russia's struggling democracy and human rights violations are getting enough attention.
``As much as we value Russia's cooperation in other areas of our bilateral relationship, they will have little meaning if Moscow reverts to its old ways,'' Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said on the Senate floor Tuesday.
Democratic challenger John Kerry has said Bush is ``ignoring America's interest in seeing democracy advance in Russia.'' If he is elected president, the Massachusetts senator said, ``we will wage war against terrorists while encouraging renewed progress toward democracy.''
Four years ago, it was Republicans accusing President Clinton of ``weak and wavering policies toward Russia,'' as the GOP platform described it.
As a candidate, Bush said he would cut off some aid to Russia if abuses in Chechnya continued. ``The Russian government will discover that it cannot build a stable and unified nation on the ruins of human rights,'' he said in a Nov 19, 1999, speech.
``When the Russian government attacks civilians, killing women and children, leaving orphans and refugees, it can no longer expect aid from international lending institutions,'' Bush declared.
His approach changed after he met Putin in June 2001 and described him as straightforward and trustworthy. ``I was able to get a sense of his soul,'' Bush said.
That praise produced some short-term dividends, said Michael McFaul of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: Putin did not try to block the expansion of NATO or Bush's missile defense plans.
But Bush's comments also signaled to Putin that ``I'm not going to be concerned about what you do domestically,'' McFaul said. ``I think that has been Bush's policy ever since.''
The Bush-Putin relationship deepened after the Sept. 11 attacks. Russia helped the United States in the fight against Afghanistan's Taliban rulers and against al-Qaida, which is suspected of assisting the predominantly Muslim Chechen rebels seeking independence from Russia.
A year ago, Bush praised what he described as Putin's vision for Russia: ``a country in which democracy and freedom and rule of law thrive.''
Many would question that description. Putin has cracked down on independent media and political opponents. After the Beslan massacre, he ordered an overhaul of Russia's political system that included ending the direct election of governors and district races for parliament.
Bush responded by expressing concern about decisions ``that could undermine democracy in Russia.''
Putin has also been at odds with the United States on major international issues. He opposed the war in Iraq, and Russia is helping Iran's nuclear program.
Rep. Tom Lantos of California, the top Democrat on the House International Relations Committee, said ``the administration has erred on the side of giving Putin the benefit of the doubt when he no longer deserved it.''
It's not clear how Putin would respond to a tougher U.S. approach. The United States has less financial leverage with the Russian economy booming and the surge in the price of oil, a key Russian export.
The basic problem is that U.S. leaders have failed to develop a close relationship that would give the United States more sway over Russia, said Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa.
``Then you have the leverage for our president to go to Putin and say `Vladimir, I need you to listen to me,''' he said.
1. RUSSIA'S REGIONAL MEDIA EXECUTIVES DISCOVER IRAN'S POTENTIAL
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Senior officials of Russia's regional media are discovering Iran's potential and establishing direct contacts with their Iranian colleagues, Rajab Safarov, managing director of the Russian news agency IRAN NEWS, said in his interview with RIA Novosti.
According to him, "a delegation of Russia's regional media executives currently on a visit to Iran seeks to establish direct contacts with their Iranian colleagues and let each other know the economic potential of their respective regions."
Safarov pointed out that "suspiciousness, insincerity and lack of true understanding currently characteristic of the Iranian media's attitude toward Russia primarily stems from the fact that some Iranian journalists get their information about Russia from Western news agencies."
He stressed that "the Russian journalists' ongoing visit to Iran [which is planned to become a regular feature of the bilateral Russian-Iranian relations in the future] aims to encourage a direct dialogue and not only promote the atmosphere of trust between the government agencies and political organizations but also to create favorable conditions for a substantial expansion of trade and economic cooperation between Russia and the Islamic Republic."
The head of the Russian news agency said that it is necessary to enhance the Russian-Iranian political, economic and cultural ties as well as to eliminate double standards in assessment of developments in Russia by some Iranian media.
A representative delegation of Russian media executives is currently on a visit to Iran. The delegation includes senior media officials from Moscow, St.Petersburg, Bashkortostan, Tatarstan, Chuvash and Udmurt Republics, Krasnodar and Stavropol Territories, Arkhangelsk, Voronezh, Kursk, Novosibirsk, Perm, Ryazan, Samara, Tver, Tomsk, Chelyabinsk and Yaroslavl Regions.
The visit was organized by the Russian news agencies IRAN NEWS and All Russia in the context of the international program `Journalists for Dialogue` with assistance of the Russian Embassy in Iran, the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the State Tourism Organization of the Islamic Republic.
In the next three days, the delegation is to meet the country's leadership, senior officials of Iran's ministries and government agencies, as well as Iranian media executives.
The Russian journalists have already visited major economic and cultural centers in Isfahan and Shiraz.
Russian President Vladimir Putin urged Iran on Friday to heed the demands of the U.N. nuclear watchdog after Tehran defied the United Nations by going ahead with its uranium enrichment programme.
Russia is helping the Islamic republic build a nuclear reactor at the port of Bushehr despite strong criticism from the United States which says Tehran is seeking atomic weapons.
"We are categorically opposed to expanding the nuclear club. Iran should meet all (International Atomic Energy Agency) demands," Putin told a media industry conference.
Putin, who has said Russia would ditch the Bushehr project should Iran breach any IAEA agreements, said he had been told by Iranian leaders they were not interested in getting atomic arms.
"We welcome such an approach, but it should be backed up. The international community must feel confident (that Iran is not acquiring nuclear weapons)," Putin said.
Russia has continuously delayed the launch of the Bushehr plant. Diplomats in Moscow say Putin's growing recognition of U.S. concerns over Iran has pressed the Kremlin into delays until such time as the IAEA gives a clean bill of health to Iran's nuclear programme.
Last week the IAEA adopted a resolution calling on Iran to suspend all uranium enrichment work. But Tehran rejected the call and said it had begun converting a large amount of raw uranium to prepare it for enrichment -- a process that can be used to develop atomic bombs.
Iran says, however, that its nuclear programme is solely for generating electricity.
1. Test of the Bulava sea-launched ballistic missile
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On September 23, 2004 the Russian Navy performed a successful test of the ï¿½Bulavaï¿½ sea-launched missile from the ï¿½Dmitry Donskoyï¿½ submarine of the Project 941 class deployed in White Sea. It was a ï¿½pop-upï¿½ test, which checked the mechanism that ejects a missile from a launch tube. The test did not seem to involve firing of a rocket motor. It was the second test of this type; the first one was performed on December 11, 2003.
ï¿½Bulavaï¿½ is a solid-propellant missile being developed for strategic submarines of the Project 955 class. Two submarines of this class are currently under construction ï¿½ ï¿½Yuri Dolgorukiyï¿½ and ï¿½Alexandr Nevskiyï¿½. The ï¿½Dmitry Donskoyï¿½ submarine, which initially was equipped with a D-39 missile complex with R-39 missiles, was converted into a test bed for the ï¿½Bulavaï¿½ missile during the overhaul that was completed in 2002.
1. NUCLEAR SAFETY CONFERENCE OPENS IN ST. PETERSBURG
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On Monday, the 7th international Nuclear Technology Safety: Management of Radioactive Waste conference will open at the Federal Nuclear Energy Agency's State Regional Educational Center in St. Petersburg.
The center's press service reported that experts will discuss legal, social, scientific and technical, technological, environmental and economic issues, as well as safety in the management of accumulated and new nuclear waste from the use of nuclear energy.
The first Nuclear Technologies 2004 exhibition will be held at the same time as the conference. The latest hi-tech developments, technologies, equipment, apparatuses, materials and individual and collective protective gear (essential for managing radioactive waste) will be demonstrated at the exhibition.
Experts from Russia, the CIS, Britain, the U.S., Germany, Japan, France, South Korea, Slovakia and Hungary will attend the conference.
A Belarus government official told the International Atomic Energy Agency Thursday of at least 20 sites where radioactive materials are buried.
Speaking at the IAEA's general conference in Vienna, Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Sychev made the disclosure, and said at least two of the sites appear to pose a radiation threat, the Interfax news agency reported.
Sychev said funds are being sought to continue investigations and for the development of a prototype project for removing these sources from unsanctioned storage, and that the country was counting on IAEA help.
Today it is obvious that reaching safety when using nuclear fuel and radioactive waste is only possible with the participation of all countries in the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management, he said.
There was no indication of when the dump sites were created, or by whom.
1. "Cyber" & Insider Threats Among Targets of Nuclear Security Measures
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Anti-terrorist exercises are conducted at nuclear research facilities as part of IAEA efforts to fight nuclear terrorism.
As the IAEAï¿½s nuclear security fund grows to $33.6 million, new programmes to fight nuclear terrorism roll out. States meeting at the Agencyï¿½s 48th General Conference endorsed IAEA efforts - among them initiatives to prevent cyber terrorism and "insider threats".
In response to fears that malicious acts could be carried out by "insiders" - staff with authorized access to nuclear facilities - workshops and documents are being developed to help countries assess the threat, and guard against insider theft of nuclear material and sabotage. The IAEA is coordinating the project, which is a bilateral initiative between the USA and France.
Concerns are also growing about cyber attacks on nuclear facilities. For example, software operated control systems in a nuclear facility could be hacked or the software corrupted by staff with insider access. In response to this possible threat, the IAEA is finalizing guidelines on the Security of Information Technology Related Equipment and Software Based Controls Against Malevolent Acts.
The IAEAï¿½s Director General report "Nuclear Security ï¿½ Measures to Protect Against Nuclear Terrorism" to the 2004 General Conference, details these, and a full and extensive listing of other measures taken by the IAEA to fight nuclear terrorism. A snapshot of Dr. ElBaradeiï¿½s report includes:
Measures to Protect Radioactive Sources from Malicious Acts
Nuclear security missions to Colombia and Indonesia were conducted by the IAEA early in 2004 as part of efforts to improve security of high-activity and vulnerable radioactive sources.
Work on developing mobile equipment to allow on-site conditioning of radioactive sources is also nearing completion. Once deployed, this equipment means that disused and vulnerable sources can be safely prepared for transport to secure storage or disposal.
Measures to Detect Malicious Nuclear Activities
IAEA supported training for police and customs officials and other "front line" officers continues to roll out. Training courses on combating illicit trafficking of radioactive materials took place in Albania, Belarus, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan and Turkey.
In 2004, 20% of all hand-held radiation detection devices tested by the IAEAï¿½s nuclear security equipment lab did not meet required specifications. Prior to delivery to Member States they were corrected in labs or replaced.
2. Speech at the World Congress of News Agencies (excerpted)
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Now, was your second question about Iran? Did you say something about nuclear weapons?
We strongly oppose the expansion of the club of nuclear states and believe that Iran could meet halfway the requirements of the IAEA on all the positions, which the agency formulated. I met with the Iranian President many a time, and we are keeping contact. Iran is a country with which we have relations of traditional deep partnership. Iranian leaders told me on many occasions that their country does not want to acquire nuclear weapons and we hail their stance, but it needs reinforcement.
The international community must get confidence that this is really so. I personally do not have any doubts. The thing is, it is important to cooperate with Iran and with the entire international community and to create a situation that rules out the emergence of one more nuclear power overnight. I am deeply convinced that Iran does not need nuclear weapons. Getting them will not solve any of the problems that country is facing now.
Well, imagine that Iran has gotten the nukes. And so what is next? Will it really use them? But the situation will be heated to the highest degree and will become extremely explosive. To make the region secure and attain a fair solution to a number of regional problems, including the Middle East, one must look for different options, and this takes much patience and persistence. Russia is ready to facilitate their solution by working together with partners in all parts of the world and at the United Nations Organization.
3. STATEMENT BY THE STATE DUMA On International Cooperation in the Fight Against Terrorism
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
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The unprecedented and inhuman terrorist acts that were perpetrated in the Russian Federation have evoked an enormous wave of manifestations of international solidarity with the people of Russia. The State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation expresses profound gratitude to all the national parliaments, international organizations, state and public figures, and the peoples of foreign states that voiced their sympathy for our country and were with us at this difficult moment. Russia appreciates that help and cherishes its friends.
The deputies of the State Duma are convinced: at the present time the internationalization of terrorism must be opposed by the internationalization of efforts for its eradication. It is necessary, at last, to realize that only a united international community will be able to exterminate international terrorism, its social and economic roots, and its financial basis. In the face of this terrible menace the achievement of national geopolitical aims by any means, including those that allow the use of terrorists, rebels or separatists as tactical fellow travelers, should be given up at once.
Against the background of the sincere expression of support to the people of Russia, the statements of certain foreign politicians and mass media sound cynical and irresponsible, that are trying to lay responsibility for the criminal actions of terrorists on Russia, which became the object of their attack. The State Duma again resolutely declares the inadmissibility of using double standards in the struggle against the chief evil of our time. Terrorists cannot be good or bad, murderers cannot be moderate. There can be no deals with those who shoot into children's backs.
Those who shelter militants' emissaries, allow within their territory the free functioning of extremist information-and-propaganda centers, and permit the conduct of provocative undertakings in support of separatism not only cause a split in the antiterrorist coalition and inspire bandits to commit new crimes, but also endanger their own peoples. The expanding geography of terrorist acts since the beginning of the 21st century, their growing cruelty, and the turning of civilians, even children, into the main object of terror make international solidarity in the fight against terrorism unalternative.
The State Duma calls upon the authorities of the United States of America and the authorities of Britain to act in accordance with the United Nations Security Council's Resolution 1373 (2001) and put a stop to the activities within their territory of Ilyas Akhmadov and Akhmed Zakayev, both on the international wanted list. The State Duma also appeals to the other member states of the antiterrorist coalition not to permit the entry of those persons as being suspected of involvement in terrorism to their territory and to help secure their international isolation.
The world community needs to draw the most serious lessons from the recent tragic events, to take into account the mistakes and, without waiting for new crimes by extremists, move, at long last, from a declared readiness to coordinate efforts in the fight against international terrorism to effective steps in this direction. The deputies of the State Duma remind all members of the world community of the previous initiatives and proposals of the State Duma regarding measures to combat international terrorism.
The State Duma will be making every effort to ensure that just this understanding prevails and finds its practical application at the upcoming events in the framework of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Inter-Parliamentary Union and other forums, of which the Russian parliamentarians are active participants. In this connection the State Duma notes the relevance of the provisions of the Final Declaration of the St. Petersburg Inter-Parliamentary Forum on the Combating of Terrorism, of March 28, 2002, which emphasizes the "inadmissibility of any double standards, stereotypes or selectivity based on political considerations in the assessment of acts and manifestations of terrorism in various regions of the world."
Supporting the actions being taken by the President of the Russian Federation and the federal bodies of executive authority, the State Duma for its part will do everything necessary to ensure that the unity of the participants of the antiterrorist coalition become reality and help counter international terrorism effectively and ensure the security and integrity of states.
Several hundred old anti-aircraft missiles have now been safely destroyed in Georgia, as part of a NATO-led project to dispose of decommissioned military equipment and unexploded ordnance.
The project, due to be completed in January 2005, will see the disposal of over 300 missiles stored at the Ponichala and Chaladid bases in Georgia. They are now gradually being dismantled and the warheads removed. The warheads are then transported to the Vaziani Polygon, where they are exploded in a controlled manner.
The process is supervised by experts from the NATO Maintenance and Supply Agency, which serves as the executing agent of the project.
The destruction considerably increases security in the area and prevents environmental contamination that otherwise could occur from these weapons.
Eliminating weapons stocks
The project is part of NATO's Partnership for Peace Trust Fund initiative. The Trust Fund is a tool to support NATO and partner activities to destroy landmines, small arms, light weapons, surplus munitions, and to help manage the consequences of defence reform.
Initiatives are developed on a project basis and led by NATO and partner nations. The costs of [the] project in Georgia are estimated at 0.8 million euros and Luxembourg serves as the lead NATO nation for the project. Georgia will also make a substantial contribution in kind.
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