International Relations and Security Network Security Watch
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Russia will demolish two Akula-class nuclear submarines, known in the West under the NATO designation ï¿½Typhoonï¿½, the worldï¿½s largest, Russian daily Izvestia reported on Wednesday. Funding for scrapping the vessels will come from the US Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) program, established by US Congress in 1991 to enable Russia to retain state control over and ensure the security of Soviet nuclear weapons and materials. Two of six Typhoon-class submarines produced in the 1980s are slated for scrapping. A delegation of US members of Congress and Russian Defense Ministry officials visited the demolition site earlier this week in the northwestern Russian town of Severodvinsk, Izvestia reported on Wednesday. The 172-meter-long submarine had the capacity to carry 20 of Russiaï¿½s largest naval intercontinental ballistic missiles, known as the RSM-52 under Russian nomenclature (and as the SS-N-20 Sturgeon under NATO nomenclature). Each missile carries up to 10 warheads, and a Typhoon-class submarine can launch them from under the polar ice sheet without breaking it in advance. That feature prevented the early detection of a launch by satellites and early interception, while the submarine's coating was able to deflect sonar signals, making the submarine even more difficult to locate. Russia's remaining four Typhoon-class submarines will be modernized, though only one will retain its intercontinental ballistic missiles. The submarines will be equipped with the newest Bulava-M naval missile systems, Izvestia reported. Since 1992, the Pentagon has given billions of dollars to Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan to finance the quick and secure destruction of nuclear and chemical arsenals and to strengthen control over the movement of sensitive materials in the non-proliferation effort. In 2004, the CTR program ï¿½ also named the Nunn-Lugar program after two US Congressmen who advanced the initiative in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union - allocated US$690 million for such projects in former Soviet Union countries. Radioactive waste from decrepit Soviet-era nuclear submarines has become a major concern of Russian ecologists in recent years, while concerned individuals have paid a high price for sounding the ecological alarm bells. In recent ï¿½spyï¿½ scandals, two Russian naval officers - Alexander Nikitin and Grigory Pasko - were charged with espionage for divulging information about nuclear and chemical dumps in the Northern Sea to Norwegian officials, and for making revelations about similar activities in the Far East to the Japanese. In 2000, a plant to reprocess nuclear waste from Russian submarines was opened in Severodvinsk, to which the US contributed US$17 million.
As part of the Global Partnership program, Italy has pledged financial assistance to help Russia dismantle a multi-purpose nuclear submarine discarded from the Northern Fleet. This is according to Alexander Gorbunov, Managing Director of Nerpa, a Russian ship repair facility.
Mr Gorbunov said in a RIA interview that Italian government negotiators had discussed the matter with officials from the Russian Nuclear Energy Ministry and then passed on to more specific talks with specialists of the Nerpa facility.
The first meeting with Nerpa specialists was held last December in Rome, Mr Gorbunov said. There, the Italian negotiators confirmed their intention to sign a contract with the Russian plant sometime in the latter half of 2005 and to provide it with funds allocated by Italy's government under the Global Partnership program, he reported.
According to the Nerpa official, the project is to be launched in 2005 and completed in 2006. "This will be the first ever project for scraping a multi-purpose nuclear submarine to be financed by Italy's government," emphasized Mr Gorbunov. The project will cost the Italian side an estimated 5 million euros.
Just one multifunctional submarine has been scraped at the Nerpa plant with foreign money thus far, our interviewee said. According to him, the funds for the dismantling of that particular sub were provided by the government of Norway.
The Norwegian side is planning to launch another such project with Nerpa this next spring, Mr Gorbunov announced.
1. Experts: Russian and United States Should Swap More Intelligence on International Terrorists
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Russia and the United States should step up intelligence exchange on international terrorists organizations, says the joint report by Russian and American experts, unveiled in Moscow on Thursday.
"Today, it is necessary to closer link the nuclear security and WMD non-proliferation cooperation with the joint efforts in the fight against terrorism," the report emphasizes. The president of the Politika Fund, Vyacheslav Nikonov, and the director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, Andrew Kuchins, authored it.
The authors believe that the United States and their allies and partners should provide specific intelligence assistance to the Russian government on terrorist organizations, and material and technical support to help to secure the Russian border, nuclear power stations, nuclear and chemical weapons, airports and other transport infrastructure.
According to the experts, another field to explore might be cooperation in stifling foreign financial infusions to the terrorist organizations operating in Russia, assistance in providing specialist training and support of Russian security services in hunting down terrorists.
Today, joint efforts to counter the threat of terrorism and WMD proliferation should be doubled, Nikonov and Kuchins emphasized.
2. Radioactive Cargo Detected on Russia-Georgia Border
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A cargo of radioactive chemicals was detected on the Russian-Georgian border, a source in the North Ossetian Emergencies Ministry told Itar-Tass on Tuesday.
The attempt to carry away 85 kilogrammes of chemicals, radiation of which five times exceeded the safe level, took place at the Verkhny Zaramag customs checkpoint.
Border guards found 42 sacks of hydrate potassium oxide and eleven barrels filled with aluminum powder in a Mercedes vehicle at the checkpoint. When they examined the vehicle, which was on the way from Pyatigorsk to Georgia, the radiation alarm system signaled a high radiation level.
The vehicle is driven away to a safe place. The driver is detained and questioned.
So, it finally happened. George Bush took the U.S. presidential oath, and the Senate Committee approved the candidature of Condoleezza Rice for the post of U.S. secretary of state. These events revived Moscow's interest in an old question: will Mr. Bush's second term bring changes to U.S. foreign policy in general, and in relation to Russia in particular?
It would seem that there are many reasons to fear this policy may become even tougher.
The argument in support of this assumption has its own logic. Colin Powell, the dove of the administration, is leaving office, whereas prominent hawks - Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his favorite, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz - have comfortably retained their posts. As a result, political and peaceful methods of conducting America's foreign policy, which were characteristic of the State Department's approach under Mr. Powell, may be eclipsed by a U.S. approach that is generally called the "presumption of force." The U.S. population's significant swing to the right might also influence the Bush administration's drive toward tougher policies on the global arena.
Average Americans are disappointed with current economic situation and increasing unemployment rates. The middle class is starting to harbor doubts about the prospects for prosperity. As a result, Americans have attempted to compensate for their uncertainty in the future by putting their trust in conservative values. Consequently, Washington feels the pressure to respond accordingly to public attitudes leaning toward a tougher U.S. stance.
Therefore, when George Bush announced in an NBC interview that he was not discounting the possibility of using force against Iran if it refuses to abandon its nuclear program, he received a more favorable response from the American public than he did at the beginning of the Iraqi war.
The same cannot be said about international opinion. A recent poll conducted on behalf of the BBC by GlobeScan in 21 countries, including Russia, revealed a dismal picture for the United States. More than half of the respondents believed that George Bush's re-election could endanger global security. The dominant opinion is the United States must reconsider its approach to global problems if the Americans do not want to see the reputation and influence of their country falling sharply throughout the world. In Russia, 39% of the respondents disapproved of Mr. Bush's re-election, while 16% wished him success.
The difference in average Russians' opinions is striking. When asked on inauguration day by a correspondent of a Moscow-based radio station to evaluate relations between Russia and the United States, Russian passers-by provided the following responses: "Bush is worse than Hitler. He destroyed the Soviet Union and now is advancing on Russia on all fronts" or, in contrast, "It is great that Russia and the United States have established friendly relations because we would not be able to fight terrorists alone." The attitudes of the Moscow political elite are closer to the latter opinion. In contrast to many foreign capitals, Moscow does not anticipate any irreconcilable controversy in its relations with Washington and the new administration.
Certainly, new people bring new ideas, although in the past four years George Bush and Vladimir Putin have established such a rapport, and Russia and the U.S. regulated the agenda of their relations to such a point, that Mr. Bush's second term is bound to mean continuing and strengthening the strategic partnership between the two countries. In these conditions, the new U.S. team, no matter how "tough" its policy may be, will hardly risk abandoning the continuity principle in relations with Russia.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov shares this point of view. "Condoleezza Rice is a serious politician," he said at a pressconference on Wednesday. "She will not abandon the previous course."
Moscow, indeed, regards the appointment of Dr. Rice as secretary of state as proof of continuity. A prominent expert on Russia respected by many Russian leaders, including Mikhail Gorbachev, she has played a key role in orchestrating US policy towards Russia in the last four years.
As national security adviser, three out of her six independent foreign visits were to Moscow. With her appointment, Mr. Bush has let the Kremlin know that he is satisfied with how the understanding between Russia and the U.S. is developing and that he intends to maintain the current course.
At the same time, it is hard to say whose side Dr. Rice was on during the four years of alleged confrontation between Mr. Powell and the hawks led by Mr. Cheney and Mr. Rumsfeld. Her post allowed her to stay "in the shadows," without revealing her true political preferences, but her new job will put an end to her anonymous status. The first woman to become secretary of state in American history will have to articulate clearly new priorities for U.S. foreign policy. Many Russian experts hope that Dr. Rice will focus on pure diplomacy, in contrast to the methods used during Mr. Bush's first term, when tanks and Hummers were the major tools of American foreign policy.
Besides, I cannot count out the possibility that the need to maintain a balance of power within the U.S. administration will lead Dr. Rice to assume the moderate and considered attitudes for which her predecessor was famed. After all, somebody has to counter the influence of the hawks, who have managed to retain their presence in Washington's corridors of power. The logic of the current situation indicates that Dr. Rice could be that "somebody."
During the Senate hearings on her appointment, Dr. Rice expressed reserved optimism about the current state of relations between Russia and America. She said recent history showed that the two countries could work closely to solve common problems.
February's presidential summit in Bratislava opens a new stage in this work. It is not difficult to predict the agenda of the meeting between Mr. Bush and Mr. Putin. The presidents will concentrate on the fight against international terrorism, the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, including problems related with the North Korean and Iranian nuclear programs, the post-war reconstruction of Iraq, and a joint search for ways to bring the Middle East peace process back to the "road map" with adjustments to the new situation after Mahmoud Abbas's election as the new PNA leader. State Department officials preparing for the summit also hinted at America's willingness to discuss Russia's accession to the WTO and possible U.S. and European assistance in a political settlement to the Chechen problem. All these issues constitute a solid foundation for future U.S.-Russian cooperation. No matter how influential and tough various Washington hawks might consider themselves to be, they will not be able to seriously undermine it.
Of course, that does not mean that relations between Moscow and Washington are perfect. The Kremlin certainly took note of a recent statement made by Ranking Member of the Foreign Relations Committee Josef Biden, who alleged that Mr. Putin planned to abandon democratic reforms, human rights and the rule of law. The criticism of an alleged split between civil society and the authorities in Russia, accusations over the Yukos case and allegations of Moscow's support for separatist attitudes on post-Soviet territories have recently been voiced by a number of Washington officials.
Moscow has a logical response to such criticism. "We are willing to accept constructive criticism," Mr. Lavrov replied. "However, some critics simply attempt to push us back to the cold war, by stating that Russia is returning to totalitarianism. It will never happen." Mr. Lavrov believes the main reason for these attacks is that some political forces do not like the fact that Russia is becoming stronger and more self-reliant.
Indeed, the Kremlin believes that the U.S. self-indulgence in exporting and preaching its own model of democracy seems rather insincere, especially from the standpoint of the main human right - the right to live. It is hard, for example, to account for all the Iraqis who have died in the U.S. occupation of their country in the name of so-called democracy. Moscow is also against the America's new tactics of using the slogan of democratic elections abroad to conduct real political covert operations aimed at seizing power, as demonstrated by the developments in such countries as Georgia and Ukraine.
These issues might also appear on the agenda of the Bratislava February summit. Russia, unlike some other partners of the United States, will not play the role of a silent servant when it comes to dealing with controversial issues. Reciprocal openness means that sudden turns can be avoided in the relations between the two countries, regardless of the strength of political beliefs possessed by the people who determine foreign policy.
2. Report Criticizes U.S., Russia for Non-Proliferation Policy
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A number of Russian and American experts have critically assessed Moscow's and Washington's steps in nonproliferation.
"Russia and the U.S. are currently sending a negative message on their commitment to the nonproliferation regime to the rest of the world," reads a report on Russian-U.S. relations, which was presented by Carnegie Moscow Center Director Andrew Kuchins and Politics Foundation President Vyacheslav Nikonov in Moscow on Thursday.
The chapter dealing with Russia-U.S. security cooperation says that "with its conventional weapons ailing, Russia has been increasingly leaning on nuclear weapons in its military doctrine, emphasizing the possibility of using tactical nuclear weapons."
3. Russia-U.S. Relations Face Cooler Period - Russian Analysts
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Russian political scientists say Russian-U.S. relations will be cooler during the second term of George W. Bush, who is due to be sworn in as U.S. president on Thursday. Russian analysts say they do not expect any serious changes in Russian-U.S. dialogue. But they say the United States is likely to pay more attention to Russian domestic processes and that this may become a serious negative factor in relations between the two countries. So may Russia's nuclear deals with Iran and possible exports of Russian weapons to countries the U.S. sees as its adversaries, analysts say.
1. Russia Transfers to India First Nuclear Reactor for Kudankulam Power Project
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Russia has passed to India a nuclear reactor for the first unit of the Kudankulam nuclear power project in Tamil Nadu. The reactor was manufactured by the OAO Izhora Factories in St.Petersburg, Russian Consul General Mikhail Mgeladze told RIA Novosti on Friday.
At the official ceremony of passing the reactor, Anil Kakodkar, chairman of the Nuclear Energy Commission and secretary of the Nuclear Energy Department at the Indian government, noted that work on the Kudankulam project is to the schedule. He thanked the Russian side for the timely production and delivery of the 320-tonne nuclear reactor for the plant's first unit. Mr. Anil Kakodkar recalled that 27,000 tonnes of equipment for the project had earlier been supplied from Russia.
The Kudankulam is working to build, with Russian assistance, two power units with VVER-1000 (water-moderated) reactors of 1,000 megawatts each. The first will be commissioned in 2007, second in 2008.
Mr.Anil Kakodkar noted the reliability and safety of Russian equipment, the reactors' degree of protection from calamities, tsunami, hurricanes and air catastrophes.
He said that during the December 26 tsunami the ship carrying the Russian reactor was in open sea off the Indian shores. No damage has been done to the equipment.
In turn, Mikhail Mgeladze voiced the hope that electricity supply to four south Indian states will greatly improve with the start-up of the power unit in 2007-2008.
The nuclear power reactor reached India on January 15, the Russian diplomat said.
1. Russia, France to Jointly Combat Terrorism and Prevent WMD's Proliferation
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Russia and France a planning events aimed at combating terrorism and preventing the proliferation of mass destruction weapons, Russian defense minister Sergei Ivanov told a press-conference held in Moscow at the end of the fourth meeting of the Russian-French Security Council.
In his words, this direction of cooperation will be taken into account, in particular, "in planning bilateral and multilateral military exercises, whether Operation Active Endeavor in the Mediterranean or special war games to work out the principles of armaments which will be efficient in combating terrorism."
"As the defense ministers (of Russia and France), we are aware that the problem of terrorism cannot be solved by purely military methods," Mr. Ivanov said.
The defense ministries of both countries are aware of "their niche and the methods of struggle which can be successful in combating terrorism".
He also noted good security services cooperation, expression the hope that "in the future, we will also have good cooperation in the military-technological field".
In Mr. Ivanov's opinion, Russia and France have no problems in solving issues related to combating terrorism and preventing the proliferation of mass destruction weapons "in the bilateral format".
"In the past two years, especially confidential relations have formed with France in this field," Mr. Ivanov added.
"These are two topical subjects in the field of international security. Russia, France, NATO and the European Union are equally exposed to these threats," he said.
2. Europe, Russia 'On Same Wavelength' on Iran Nuclear Program: French Official
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Russia and three western European countries share a view that Iran can be persuaded through talks to limit its nuclear activities to the civilian sphere and to fulfill its international obligations in this regard, a French official said here Thursday.
"We have kept the Russians informed on our negotiations from the beginning," an official close to the delegation of visiting French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier told reporters, referring to European talks with Iran on its controversial nuclear program.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, admitted that the United States was "very skeptical" of the European initiative on Iran but said Paris had heard nothing suggesting that Washington planned to confront Iran militarily over its nuclear ambitions.
President George W. Bush refused earlier this week to rule out military action by the United States if it found Iran were pursuing development of nuclear weapons.
He was commenting on an article that appeared in The New Yorker magazine stating that US operatives have been working on the ground in Iran since last summer, gathing information on potential military targets. Iran warned Thursday it would respond to any threat from the United States.
Russia is assisting Iran in construction of a nuclear power facility and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reiterated Wednesday that this help would continue as long as Moscow remained sure that Iran's nuclear plans were strictly civilian.
Lavrov said Russia would do all it could to ensure Iran complied with international obligations that include open inspections of its nuclear sites.
"The Americans know, and we are telling them, that the Russians are on the same wavelength as we are," the French official said.
"Iran is interested in strengthening its status as a regional power with a nuclear weapon... and we want to persuade them that this can be achieved better through economic development," the official said.
1. Moscow, Seoul Call For Soonest Settlement of Korean Nuke Problem
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Russia and South Korea call for the soonest settlement of the Korean nuclear problem at six-nation negotiations, a source in the Russian Foreign Ministry told Itar-Tass on Friday referring to a meeting of Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Valery Loshchinin with new South Korean Ambassador in Moscow Kim Jae Sup.
The Thursday meeting focused on ï¿½the implementation of summit agreements reached in September 2004 and bilateral cooperation prospects for this year,ï¿½ the source said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said earlier this week that Moscow hoped for the resumption of the six-nation negotiations in the foreseeable future. He said all parties to the negotiations are working on that.
2. N. Korea Nuclear Talks Must Continue - Russian Ambassador
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Russia and China believe the six-nation negotiations are the best mechanism for settling the North Korean nuclear problem, and the talks should be resumed as soon as possible, Russian Ambassador to China Igor Rogachev told Interfax.
"Obviously, a peaceful settlement of the nuclear problem on the Korean Peninsula will be of paramount important for security and stability inside and outside Asia. The ideas of our countries are identical - the six-nation negotiations are the best instrument for the accomplishment of this task, and they should be resumed as soon as possible," he said.
1. Sergei Ivanov: No Nukes to be Used in Preemptive Counter-Terrorist Attacks
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Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov assured once again that nuclear weapons will not be used in preemptive attacks on terrorists.
"As for preemptive strike techniques, they are aplenty, but nuclear weapons will not be used," he told the news conference in the wake of his talks with French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie.
The Russian defense minister reiterated that Russia reserved the right to preemptive attacks on terrorists.
"We do reserve the right. In the current situation, it would be naï¿½ve and criminal for us not to think about preventing the threat of terrorism," Mr. Ivanov said in response to a question on feasibility of Russian preemptive strikes against terrorists.
According to the Russian defense minister, the very notion of preemptive attacks is not a Russian invention. Mr. Ivanov stressed that if a country is aware of terrorists' presence somewhere, it does not make sense for it to wait for them to arrive on their own.
"I regard the Russian-French cooperation in the fight against terrorism as good," Mr. Ivanov said after the talks, adding that such work was going on all the time both in the shape of various exercises and intelligence exchange.
The minister underlined that he saw no problems with the Russian-French cooperation on countering terrorism.
Ms. Alliot-Marie, in turn, said terrorism was a threat to everybody.
Western donors and Russian taxpayers are propping up an outdated and dangerous Russian nuclear power system that is being managed by dubious methods, Norwegian-based environmental organization Bellona says.
In the last 10 years, the G-8 group of leading industrial nations, the European Union and the United States have spent billions of dollars keeping the Russian nuclear industry safe and afloat, Bellona spokesman Igor Kudrik said Thursday in a telephone interview from Oslo.
The United States alone has transferred up to $10 billion to Russia in the decade and another $20 billion is scheduled to be noted by G-8 by 2010, Kudrik said.
"The problem is that while the Russian nuclear industry is undergoing bureaucratic changes, the infrastructure itself still works the way it did during the Cold War and is able to keep operating only because of cash coming from Russian and Western taxpayers," he said.
Bellona is about to release in Russian a report called "Russia's Nuclear Industry: the Need for Reform." The report argues that the infrastructure of the country's nuclear sector must be changed, because otherwise the money donated by the foreign counties will be wasted.
Representatives of the Federal Nuclear Power Agency said Thursday they were too busy to comment on the Bellona report.
"Most of the western financing coming to Russia to promote nuclear safety is being spent only on keeping this Soviet-style industry running," Kudrik said.
Russia is still developing many nuclear technologies that the West is on its way to abandoning, including the closed fuel cycle, which involves reprocessing spent nuclear fuel. This has been proven to be unprofitable, but is still used in Russia because it is considered one way for the nuclear power industry to survive, the authors of a new Bellona report states.
"The main reason that Russia ... and a mere handful of other countries ... rely on this environmentally dangerous and proliferation-friendly system is based on outmoded assumptions from the 1970s that natural uranium prices would skyrocket, and thus a plan involving plutonium-based fuel was needed to keep the industry in place," the conclusion of the report says, "The United Kingdom and France reprocess, but both countries, even with their well-developed infrastructures, have found reprocessing to be unprofitable. This is because later findings indicated that natural uranium stocks would last until late in the 21st century."
In another example of purported mismanagement, the environmentalists pointed out an incident involving a nuclear submarine that sank in 2003. Bellona says this is a telling example of international programs being carried out without proper environmental safety.
"These problems became very clear after August 2003, when the written-off nuclear submarine K-159 sank," Kudrik said. "It was being taken to be broken up when it sank in stormy weather."
When the vessel with 800 kilograms of spent uranium fuel on board ran into the storm off the Kola Peninsula, it sank in 240 meters of water with 9 of its 10-man crew going down with it. Although the submarine was not a part of an international decommissioning project, Bellona said that the sloppy approach to the disposal of the vessel could mean that western-financed projects could result in similar dangerous incidents. In June 2003 Norway allocated $13 million for transportation, removal of nuclear fuel and destruction of two decommissioned submarines of the same type.
"These submarines were towed to the dismantlement points the same way as K-159 was," the report says.
In November, the report was presented to the European Parliament and was received with great interest by the international audience, according to the authors.
"The presentation lasted about four hours; usually during things like that people hang around in a session hall, walking here and there," Kudrik said. "This time everybody stayed where they were."
Foreign countries financing nuclear safety measures should come up with a master plan for all of Russia, not only for specific areas such as the Kola peninsula, which is a huge graveyard for nuclear submarines, he said.
"There are lots of other places that should be taken into account - the regions of Southern Siberia and the Mayak reprocessing plant [in the Chelyabinsk region], for instance," Kudrik said.
Meanwhile, victims of a Soviet-era nuclear industry disaster - 10 men who took part in the cleanup of the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown - continued a hunger strike they started last week in the town of Sestroretsk, a suburb of St. Petersburg
On Thursday, one of the hunger strikers was taken to a hospital, Interfax reported.
"This morning one of our fellow's temperature shot up and, taking into account that this weekend he already felt bad, we called an ambulance," Sergei Kulish, head of the group, was quoted as saying. "He was diagnosed as having pneumonia. Another two [hunger strikers] got medical assistance, but did not have to leave.".
On Wednesday the hunger strikers spoke to Alexander Rzhanenkov, a representative of City Hall, who said the federal government has allocated 40 million rubles ($1.4 million) to cover city debts to Chernobyl disaster workers, Kulish said.
He said the group would not quit the hunger strike before the Supreme Court issues a final ruling on financial compensation.
Chelyabinsk governor ordered to allocate about $35,000 to Muslyumovo village suffered in the nuclear accident in 1957.
December last year, Chelyabinsk region governor Petr Sumin allocated 1 million rubles (about $35,000) for the local program on coping the radiation accidentsï¿½ consequences at the Mayak plant. The money for the program come from the extra income of the local budget and taxes from the Mayak plant after reprocessing the foreign spent nuclear fuel, UralPolit.ru reported.
The money will be spent on construction of the livestock pond in Muslyumovo village near polluted Techa River. Techa reservoirs contain over 340 million cubic meters of the radioactive water. All this water can penetrate the open water system during a spring flood. The local program on overcoming of the radiation accidentsï¿½ consequences at the Mayak plant was adopted by the local parliament in 2002 and should be completed in 2005.
Muslyomovo is the most exposed village due to Mayak plantï¿½s former discharge practices. Muslyomovo is situated 30 km downstream of Mayak Chemical Combine, and in 1949 it had a population of 4,000 inhabitants. By 1990, the number had fallen to 2,500 residents. The effective dose received by Muslyomovo's villagers is approximately 2.8 Sv, and the effective dose received by children is 0.05 to 0.1 Sv/y. The residents of Muslyomovo have been subject to compulsory blood and bone marrow testing. The results and findings from these tests however, were kept secret until 1992.
In 1994, the administration of Chelyabinsk County passed a resolution to evacuate those of Muslyumovo's inhabitants who had suffered the most, and to build a new village farther away from the Techa River. On August 7 1997, the Chelyabinsk county administration signed a decree on re-settlement of village Muslyumovo and adjacent areas downriver of Mayak nuclear fuel reprocessing plant.
However, nothing came out of these and other decisions.
2. Russia's Atomic Energy Ministry Recognizes Problem of Nuclear Waste Storage in Murmansk
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Russia's Atomic Energy Ministry has recognized that the northwestern region of Murmansk is facing a problem of nuclear waste storage, and pledged help in getting it resolved before the year 2010.
But the problem should not be overdramatized, said Nikolai Shingarev, head of the ministry's PR unit. "The situation with the storage of nuclear waste in the Murmansk region is a very serious one, indeed. It stems from the [Cold War-era] arms race, the construction of a large number of nuclear submarines and the abrupt discarding of such subs. Our department is not directly responsible for this problem, but we have been in charge of nuclear submarine scrapping for six years now and have come a long way over this period of time," the official said.
Mr Shingarev commented Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov's call for tougher control over the handling of radioactive waste and nuclear material. As the Prosecutor pointed out, Murmansk's nuclear waste storage sites, holding as much as 17,000 cubic meters of nuclear waste, were built back in the 1960s, and have by now become outdated both morally and physically.
According to Mr Shingarev, 194 nuclear submarines have been discarded since the late 1980s, and about 70 subs are yet to have their nuclear waste removed. He estimates the total cost of dismantling the remaining nuclear submarines at 4 billion dollars.
One billion rubles (over $35 million) is annually allocated for the purpose from Russia's treasury coffers and roughly as much money comes in from abroad every year. If the funding is maintained at the current level, it might be possible to solve the problem by the year 2010, the spokesman for the Atomic Energy Ministry pointed out.
3. Ukrainian Deputy Warns of New Chernobyl Accident Danger
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The danger of an accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power station, shut down in 2000, exists because nuclear fuel has not been removed from the reactors, Ukrainian People's Deputy Vladimir Yavorivski has said.
He has sent an interpellation to acting Prime Minister Nikolai Nazarov, asking him to look into the problem, the Novosti-Ukraine news agency learnt from the press service of the faction Our Ukraine.
Yavorivski said that all the nuclear storage pits in Ukraine are brimming and the development of projects to build new pits and fuel waste processing works is stalling.
Meanwhile, Russia, which in line with the international law should as the supplier of nuclear fuel take in nuclear waste, is not doing so, Yavorivski noted.
The Chernobyl power facility, where the worst nuclear catastrophe of the 20th century happened in April 1986, was shut down on December 15, 2000.
1. Press Conference of Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergei Lavrov on the Foreign Policy Results of 2004 (excerpted)
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
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Q: And my second question. Thursday will see the inauguration of US President George Bush. How does Russia plan to build its relations with the US in the next four years? What concrete decisions does it expect from the Bratislava summit? And what do you think about yesterday's statement by Condoleezza Rice to the effect that the US intends to pay more attention to Russia's domestic political problems, specifically the development of democracy in our country? Thank you.
Lavrov: Our interaction with the United States continued to grow stronger. We must be allies in fighting terrorism, there is simply no choice. Both our countries are leaders in the global anti-terror coalition, and last year we made an additional contribution to the strengthening of that coalition: the UN Security Council adopted a most important resolution, No. 1540, on the basis of a Russian-US draft resolution. It formulated a new important principle in combating terrorism for the whole international community, including the need for a more responsible approach to preventing weapons of mass destruction from falling into the hands of terrorists and the need to build secure barriers to that in each country, in particular, through employing the potential of regional organizations. We see this aspect as a very important one as well.
Along with the United States, leading European nations and other countries, Russia has become a full-fledged participant in the security initiative related to nonproliferation of mass destruction weapons.
Our country has been promoting a very useful dialogue with the United States on strategic stability. The two countries have a quite concrete plan of action, approved by their presidents, in virtually every areas of ensuring security and promoting economic and other collaboration in bilateral relations.
Last year confirmed that the United Nations -- and this is Russia's persistent position -- is an irreplaceable forum not just for harmonizing moves but also for coordinating practical steps of all countries, for resolving conflicts, for combating terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. I have already mentioned an important resolution of the UN Security Council on non-proliferation. I will also mention another UN Security Council Resolution 1566 that was adopted on Russia's initiative soon after the Beslan tragedy. It expressed more precisely requirements to all countries in the struggle against terrorism, including the need to have common standards for assessing activities of various individuals charged with participation in terrorist activities. We believe that in this sphere of strengthening multilateral foundations for global policies Russia's position was quite productive last year.
As for your second question, I have already mentioned the Bratislava summit among the most important events to take place in the near future. [ï¿½] There will be many other things to discuss in what concerns bilateral relations, especially since the plans for the future are quite ambitious. In addition to bilateral relations, there are international issues that will certainly occupy an important place at the Bratislava summit. Combating terrorism, the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, combating drug trafficking and organized crime -- these are the topics of international dialogue on which Russia and the United States must play the leading part, due to their potential and their interests in the international arena.
Q: What real results have been achieved in fighting the main evil, international terrorism? Bin Laden is still at large. There are explosions going off in Iraq and Afghanistan, and individuals like Akhmed Zakayev are roaming freely in the US and Europe.
Lavrov: I have already mentioned some concrete results of the fight against terrorism last year. These include important concrete resolutions of the UN Security Council that put higher demands to all states as regards practical compliance with the resolutions aimed at strengthening the global anti-terror coalition, preventing weapons of mass destruction and means of their delivery from falling into the hands of terrorists. These include the strengthening of the Non-Proliferation Initiative, interaction between Russia and NATO on counter-terrorist issues, including the signing in Brussels in December of last year of a joint plan of action within the framework of the NATO-Russia Council for fighting terrorism, which envisages exchange of confidential information, joint exercises and training, the development of explosives detectors, and other very concrete activities that take our counter-terrorist partnership within the Russia-NATO Council to a new level. These include Russia's participation in Operation Active Endeavor in the Mediterranean aimed at preventing the smuggling of materials that terrorists can use for their purposes, as well as the decision of the Black Sea countries to commit the Black Sea cooperation mechanism, the so-called Blackseafor, to fighting terrorism and WMD proliferation. Such decisions have been adopted, and they will be implemented, including through collective patrolling by Blackseafor military vessels of the Black Sea area; the joint exercises carried out in Russia with our NATO partners: Accident-2004 and Kaliningrad-2004; and the strengthening of counter-terrorist topics in Russia's dialogue with the US, the European Union, and many other countries. Strategic groups have been set up to further bilateral cooperation on counter-terrorism, they work, they meet with the participation of foreign ministries, special services, and other agencies that are involved in such activities. The exchange of information is very useful. In a number of cases attempts to prepare and carry out terrorist acts were prevented. So, I see impressive achievements in this field. The terrorist threat is still there of course, but nobody has ever said that the fight against terrorism will be over quickly. For this fight to be more successful it is necessary to renounce double standards in this field and apply the same yardstick to all those who train and inspire terrorists and certainly to those who perpetrate terrorist acts. And in this connection we expect that the people suspected of complicity in terrorist activities will be extradited to the countries that demand it. Especially since Resolution 1566 of the UN Security Council passed in the wake of Beslan expressly stresses the need to apply common criteria to such individuals. Ideally, there should be a common list of all those involved in terrorist activities. Russia has submitted a relevant proposal to the Security Council. It is now being studied, and a special group has been created to explore this issue.
Q: How would you comment on President Bush's words that he did not rule out the possibility of military actions in Iran? What measures will Russia to prevent the worst scenario?
Lavrov: Speaking about Iran, I would like to stress that the main parties to negotiations and contacts aimed at resolving the nuclear issue in that country proceed from the need to settle it by political, diplomatic methods. There are opportunities for that. This was confirmed by the meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors in November of last year, which considered the agreement reached among three European countries: France, Britain, and Germany, on the one hand, and Iran on the other. It was supported by Russia that had parallel contacts with the European troika and Iran. An agreement has been reached on the freezing of Iran's uranium enrichment program and continued close cooperation between Iran and the IAEA, free of closed topics. If all parties adhere to the agreement that calls for the development of cooperation with Iran in the energy and economic spheres and in the settlement of the situation in the region, I am convinced that we will achieve the desired results. I don't consider it useful to speak, even hypothetically, about the situation that may arise if someone resorts to other methods than diplomatic and political ones. I repeat, it is my conviction that that a peaceful, political resolution of the Iranian nuclear problem on the basis of the reached accords, mutual account of interests and respect is possible. Russia will do everything for those accords to be implemented.
Q: Another question is about six-party negotiations. How do you assess them and what is the prospect?
Lavrov: On the six-party negotiations, we expect that it will be possible to resume them in the near future. Efforts have been made for that. All countries participating in the negotiations maintain contact with each other, and I hope that the talks will resume in the near future.
Q: A question about Iran's recent accords with three countries -- Germany, France and Britain -- on nuclear technologies. Could you explain Russia's position in the Iranian energy market because the Iranian ambassador to Russia said recently that cooperation between Russia and Iran depends on Russia's position and its openness.
Lavrov: Russia is engaged in energy cooperation with Iran along with other forms of economic interaction. We cooperate with Iran in the sphere of nuclear energy under a project that envisages the construction of a nuclear power plant at Bushehr. The project is absolutely transparent and fully under IAEA control. We are interested in developing such cooperation with Iran in the future. We have corresponding plans in response to the wishes of the Iranian side. We have been in close contact with the European countries you mentioned as you spoke about their negotiations with Iran. We have also maintained contact with the Iranian leadership. Our European partners would like us to coordinate our actions in developing cooperation with Iran. In any case, I can say that we will not tolerate attempts to use developments surrounding the Iranian nuclear program in order to undermine Russia's positions in the Iranian energy market by non-market and wrongful methods. We have grounds to fear such attempts. I repeat, we are conducting these conversations in a businesslike and open manner and we are ready to compete, but to compete honestly without attempts to use political negotiations in order to undermine each other's commercial positions.
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