The Zvezdochka shipyard proposes to raise the question of dismantling the Russian battle cruiser Admiral Ushakov with the help of the Global Partnership programme.
Russian budget has not been able to come with funding for dismantling, and the representatives of Zvezdochka now hope the necessary project money could be obtained within the Global Partnership, Arnews.ru reported.
The dismantling of the Admiral Ushakov was originally planned to start already in 1999. However, a group of MPs engaged heavily in the case, trying to rescue the vessel from becoming scrap metal. They established a fund aimed at raising money for the cruiserï¿½s upgrade, but it did not help to save the nuclear cruiser.
Now, the engineering company Onega has got the task to elaborate a plan on dismantling. No similar vessel has ever been decommissioned and dismantled in Russia and the project is believed to offer major technical difficulties. Experts from the Zvezdochka plant believe that at least 40 million USD will be needed to complete the project. The Global Partnership was organised in 2002 with the aim of allocating 20 billion USD to international nuclear security and clean-up projects.
1. Lawmakers Propose U.S. Nonproliferation Director
Global Security Newswire
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U.S. lawmakers in the House of Representatives last week introduced legislation that would create a ï¿½nonproliferation czarï¿½ to oversee U.S. efforts to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction (see GSN, Feb. 12, 2003).
The Omnibus Nonproliferation and Anti-Nuclear Terrorism Act of 2005 would establish within the executive office an Office of Nonproliferation Programs, to be headed by a director nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate. The director, who would serve as the presidentï¿½s chief nonproliferation adviser, would be responsible for overseeing the various programs conducted by the Defense, Energy and State departments. Among the directorï¿½s responsibilities would be guiding the development of nonproliferation budgets and setting priorities.
Representatives Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) sponsored the bill. A congressional staff member said earlier this week that White House support for the measure was unknown.
The bill would also eliminate restrictions placed by Congress on nonproliferation aid provided to Russia and other former Soviet states through the Pentagonï¿½s Cooperative Threat Reduction program and congressional restrictions placed specifically on chemical weapons elimination support for Russia. The bill would also remove a $50 million cap placed on CTR aid provided to countries outside of the former Soviet Union, and would provide the energy secretary with authority to spend departmental funds on nonproliferation projects in those nations.
The bill seeks to address the proliferation threat posed by Russian tactical nuclear weapons by authorizing the Energy Department to aid Moscow in conducting an inventory of such weapons. It would further require the defense secretary to report to Congress on efforts to secure or dismantle the weapons. In addition, the presidentï¿½s authority to fund nondefense-related research by former Soviet WMD scientists would be expanded.
The legislation also calls on the president to seek U.N. Security Council authorization for the Proliferation Security Initiative ï¿½ a U.S.-led effort to interdict shipments of WMD related cargo; and to work with other countries to develop international standards on security for nuclear weapons and materials.
In addition, the bill would require the president to report to Congress on measures to strengthen the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to prevent countries from obtaining nuclear weapons under the guise of seeking civilian nuclear power programs. It also seeks to enhance the Global Threat Reduction Initiative ï¿½ a U.S.-Russian effort to recover stocks of fresh and spent highly enriched uranium fuel the two countries provided to research reactors around the world during the Cold War.
ï¿½We have been warned repeatedly that we are in a race with terrorists who are actively seeking nuclear weapons. The choice is ours: we can continue to risk an almost inevitable nuclear attack, or we can take action to prevent it,ï¿½ Schiff said last week in a press statement.
The summit between President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President George W. Bush this Thursday in Bratislava will address proliferation. There are serious disagreements between Moscow and Washington in almost every other area. Russia believes the West is bent on isolating it from other countries in the CIS. The West in turn believes the Kremlin is trying to reestablish control over former Soviet republics. The Yukos affair and Putin's dismantling of democracy have poisoned U.S.-Russia relations. The war on terrorism is no longer a unifying factor: The American campaign to install democracy in Iraq and the Russian war to enforce its will in the North Caucasus are as far apart ideologically as the United States and Russia are geographically.
Nonproliferation seems to be the only area where the two countries can agree. Since the collapse of communism, the United States has spent billions to help dismantle Soviet weapons, and the Russian leadership has accepted this aid. Tens of thousands of nuclear warheads and thousands of delivery systems have been dismantled with U.S. and European assistance. However, the ongoing mutual distrust between East and West and miles of red tape on both sides has marred the effort. The United States invested hundreds of millions of dollars into a factory to destroy nerve gas in the Siberian town of Shchuchye in the Kurgan region. The plant is still not up and running, however, and both sides are accusing the other of creating the delay.
A facility to safely store some 10,000 plutonium "pits," the balls of arms-grade metal plutonium that are the nucleus of a modern warhead, sits half completed at the Mayak nuclear facility in the Urals. Hundreds of tons of arms-grade material -- enough to make tens of thousands of nukes -- are stored in conditions that are officially considered unsafe.
There are hundreds of rusting nuclear subs that need to be dismantled and plenty of other extremely dangerous materials in Russia that need to be stored. At the Bratislava summit, the presidents may announce some new initiatives and earmark more money to solve these problems.
It would indeed be an achievement if some of the projects that have been in the works for so long, such as Shchuchye and Mayak, were finally finished. Yet how can cooperation on nonproliferation truly succeed when the relationship between the United States and Russia is in trouble?
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the West feared that hungry Russian nuclear scientists would go to rogue states and pass on their knowledge, taking badly guarded "loose nukes" with them. Programs were initiated to keep scientists working, and secure fences were funded to keep the warheads safe. Nonetheless, certain Pakistanis established an intentional network to spread nuclear materials and technologies, while North Korea provided the know-how to make primitive midrange ballistic missiles. Centrifuge uranium enrichment equipment from Pakistan, contaminated with arms-grade uranium, was discovered in Iran. There have been no documented cases of genuine arms-grade material leaving Russia, but do we really know the entire story?
Ukrainian officials recently confirmed that some 20 Kh-55 strategic cruise missiles were smuggled to Iran and China in 2000, possibly with the help of corrupt Russian officials. China has the capability to mass-produce the Kh-55 and fit it with warheads, but it does not have the strategic bombers to make them an intercontinental weapon. It may not have to wait long to get them. Last December, General Vladimir Mikhailov announced that during the Chinese-Russian joint military exercises planned for this year, the Air Force will fly the strategic Tu-95 Bear bombers in hopes that "the Chinese will perhaps want to buy them." The slow-flying prop Tu-95 can only be used effectively as a Kh-55 carrier. Thus, it's not starving scientists but rich officials in Putin's regime who are selling the weapons that may eventually threaten Russia itself.
In all the serious documented cases of nuclear proliferation -- in Pakistan, in North Korea, in France, which gave Israel nuclear technology -- the rich and powerful were always to blame. It does not make any sense to build a higher fence if the bosses are doing the smuggling.
2. Analysis: Iranian Proliferation Central To Bush-Putin Summit
Radio Free Europe
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The proliferation danger posed by Iran is likely to be a major topic of discussion when President George W. Bush meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Bratislava later this week.
In light of Russia's extensive involvement in the Iranian nuclear program, any efforts to persuade Moscow to disengage are likely to fail. And while nuclear cooperation could be the most important aspect of Iran's relationship with Russia, that relationship is multifaceted and complex.
The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, Director of Central Intelligence Porter Goss told the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in testimony on 16 February, is one of the most pressing challenges currently facing the United States. Goss went on to mention Iran's pursuit of a nuclear capability in this context.
Another intelligence-community leader, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) Director Vice Admiral Lowell Jacoby, said in his Congressional testimony that Russia bears some responsibility for proliferation, not least in the case of Iran. Jacoby charged that Iran wants a nuclear-weapon capability because it wants to become the "dominant regional power" and it wants to deter a possible U.S. or Israeli attack. "We judge Iran is devoting significant resources to its weapons of mass destruction [WMD] and ballistic-missile programs," Jacoby alleged, adding that Iran will be able to produce nuclear weapons "early in the next decade." Jacoby also predicted that Iran would be able to manufacture an intercontinental ballistic missile by 2015 and that it would either develop or import a land-attack cruise missile within a decade.
President Bush discussed the importance of diplomacy in resolving the proliferation problem in a series of 18 February interviews with European television stations, according to the State Department's Bureau of International Information Programs website (http://usinfo.state.gov). He told France's TV3 that France, Germany, Great Britain, and the United States must work together to convince Iran that they do not want it to have a nuclear weapon, and they must work together to make other countries aware of this stance. "I think President Putin understands that the Iranians shouldn't have [a nuclear] weapon. I'm convinced, again, if the Iranians hear us loud and clear, without any wavering, that they will make the rational decision."
As a presumably rational decision-maker, one must assume that Putin is reluctant to see Iran develop a nuclear-weapons capacity. Nevertheless, according to the DIA's Jacoby, the Russian government or Russian entities "sell WMD and missile technologies for revenue and diplomatic influence" and "[continue] to support missile programs and civil nuclear projects in...Iran." Jacoby added that "some of the civil nuclear projects can have weapons applications."
Bush will be hard-pressed to persuade Putin to disengage from the Iranian nuclear program. Russia is heavily involved in building a nuclear power plant in the southwestern Iranian city of Bushehr. The Bushehr project is worth approximately $800 million to Russia, and Russia also will profit from the provision of fresh fuel and the reprocessing of spent fuel. The Iranian nuclear sector also is a source of employment for Russian scientists and technicians, and Russian universities train Iranian specialists. Putin said after meeting with Iranian Supreme National Security Council Secretary Hojatoleslam Hassan Rohani in Moscow on 18 February, "Iran's latest actions convince us that Iran does not intend to produce nuclear weapons, and it means that we will continue our cooperation in all areas, including in nuclear power generation," RFE/RL reported.
The View From Tehran
From the Iranian perspective, the relationship with Russia is important in at least five ways. First, Russia is willing to cooperate openly with the Iranian nuclear program. For all Iran's claims of self-sufficiency and indigenous know-how, Iran still depends on overt and covert foreign assistance. Tehran has expressed an interest in having Russia build more reactors. Second, Russia serves as a counterbalance to the United States, which Iran regards as an enemy, and Europe, which Iran sees as a lukewarm ally. Tehran depends on Moscow's vote in international forums like the UN Security Council and the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors. Third, Tehran sees itself and Russia as the two major Caspian Sea powers. Iran is adamant that it is entitled to 20 percent of that sea's resources, although it has less than 14 percent of the shoreline. Although the other littoral states have entered bilateral agreements regarding the Caspian Sea, Iran has not done so.
Fourth, Russia is a vibrant market for Iranian goods and a reliable trading partner. This is particularly important for the Iranian military, which is equipped with Russian aircraft, submarines, tanks, and other equipment. Russian firms are involved in the Iranian energy sector, too. Finally, Russia is a source of expertise in other, more exotic areas, including Iran's desire to have a satellite. The two sides signed a $132 million contract for the design, testing, and launch of the Zohreh satellite on 30 January.
But Tehran is willing to pressure Moscow, and it is no coincidence that Rohani's visit to Moscow preceded the Bush-Putin summit. Rohani twisted the screws a bit after his trip to Moscow, saying on 19 February, "We expect Russians to be one step ahead of Europeans, but they always follow the dominant trend in the IAEA Board of Governors," the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) reported.
Bush and Putin are scheduled to have a 2 1/2-hour private meeting on 24 February, "The Washington Post" reported on 20 February. This could provide an opportunity for the U.S. president to urge his Russian counterpart to be more responsive to international concerns about Iran's nuclear program.
Putin is unlikely to satisfy any such request, although diplomatic boilerplate will disguise any serious disagreement. And that will be welcome news in Tehran.
3. USA and NATO Do Not Intend to Control Russian Nuclear Arsenals - Shea
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The United States and NATO do not intend to control Russia's nuclear arsenals, NATO's Deputy Assistant Secretary General for External Relations, Jamie Shea, told the Ekho Moskvy radio on Monday.
The only thing we want is strategic stability, he said, adding that the alliance and Russia had common interests, namely to prevent nuclear weapons from falling into the hands of shadow syndicates and terrorists.
4. Moscow Rally Calls to Prevent US Control Over Russian Nuclear Facilities
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Several hundred Orthodox Christians rallied in the center of Moscow on Sunday in support of Russia's nuclear sovereignty.
Several associations of Orthodox Christians and Cossacks organized the action following media reports that at the summit in Bratislava on February 24 Russia and the United States will sign a treaty under which international control is going to be established over Russian nuclear forces.
An Interfax correspondent reported from the scene that the key theme of the action was "No to US control over the Russian nuclear arsenal!"
The protesters voiced fears that in Bratislava President George W. Bush would come up with the proposal of establishing international control over Russian strategic nuclear facilities and in this context urged the Russian leadership not to make any concessions. "Russia's nuclear sovereignty is not a subject for bargaining," Vladimir Osipov, leader of the Christian Revival Union, said.
Speakers also insisted that the Russian leadership make it clear to President Bush that US interference in the internal affairs of former Soviet republics is impermissible. "We are witnessing a direct intervention of the United States in the historical territory of [Ancient] Rus. The orange revolution in Ukraine is a striking example of such intervention," Osipov said.
On February 11 the Russian Foreign Ministry denied media reports that there were any plans of signing a treaty with the United States on international control over of Russian nuclear forces.
"The speculations about any pending treaty implying among other things international control over Russian nuclear facilities are absolutely groundless," a ministry release said. "Russia and the United States have not been working and cannot be working on anything of the kind," it said.
"This does no mean that there is no dialogue or interaction between Russia and the United States in the sphere of nuclear security. They exist and develop," the release said.
The release said that the press reports that the subject was discussed during the visit of Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov to Washington "are true because the subject of the nonproliferation of nuclear and any other weapons of mass destruction is constantly in the focal point of our discussion, including those conducted along the lines of defense ministries."
The release quotes Ivanov saying that "resistance to such a real threat as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is one of the least conflict-ridden, clear and evident directions of Russian-American cooperation, here we have no differences."
"We want to stress that Russia and the United States have many coinciding objectives in the sphere of preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction throughout the planet, including the prevention of its spread to terrorists. We expect the dialogue to continue in the future," the ministry release said.l
1. Moscow Expected to Win Bid For Tabas Power Plant: Iranian Ambassador
Mehr News Agency
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Iranï¿½s ambassador to Moscow, Gholamreza Shafei, elaborated on the recent talks held between Iranï¿½s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) secretary Hassan Rowhani and Russian officials in Moscow in an interview with the Mehr News Agency on Friday.
Shafei said Iran will soon purchase five Tupolev-204 planes from Russia, adding, ï¿½We also expect Russia to propose a reasonable price for the Tabas power plant and to win the bid.ï¿½
The ambassador, who participated in the recent talks, added that Russia has expedited the process of constructing the Bushehr nuclear power plant, which is scheduled to come on stream by 2006.
He said that the Iran-Russia nuclear fuel contract is expected to be signed in Tehran during the Russian Atomic Energy Agency chairmanï¿½s visit to Tehran.
In the talks, Iran emphasized that it will not renounce its nuclear rights and expects Russia to support these rights rather than backing the illegal measures of the United States, Shafei noted.
The two sides discussed bilateral, regional, and international cooperation as well as economic, political, technical, and military ties, he said, adding that talks on joint ventures, including the Zohreh satellite contract that was previously signed in Tehran, had been ï¿½successfulï¿½.
The ambassador stated that Russia and Iran are both interested in expanding ties in the oil and gas sectors.
Russia and Iran are the worldï¿½s first and second leading producers of natural gas, and the two sides have stressed the necessity to hold trilateral meetings with Algeria, which is a major supplier of gas to Europe, he explained.
Shafei announced that Russian President Vladimir Putin is due to visit Iran sometime in the next two months, adding that February will be an important month for political dialogue since Putin will also be meeting European officials and U.S. President George W. Bush later this month.
The ambassador went on to say that Iranian and Russian officials also held discussions on the presence of foreign forces in the region, especially in Afghanistan, Central Asia, and Iraq.
Both sides were satisfied with the Iraqi elections, and Russia stressed the need to continue bilateral talks on Iraq and Afghanistan, he added.
Turning to the issue of the Caspian Sea, Shafei said that a proposal was made during the talks for the littoral states to create a joint force to discourage the presence of foreign forces in the region.
Asked whether the nuclear cooperation between the two countries could influence other industrial and technological activities of either country, the ambassador said that constructing a power plant is a technical issue and its consequences can influence the countryï¿½s industry.
2. Iran: Tehran Says Nuclear Deal With Russia To Be Signed Next Week
Radio Free Europe
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The deputy head of Iranï¿½s Atomic Energy Organization, Assadollah Saburi, said yesterday that the nuclear fuel deal will be signed on 26 February during a visit by the head of the Russian Atomic Energy Agency.
Russiaï¿½s nuclear chief, Aleksandr Rumyantsev, who is due in Tehran next week, confirmed yesterday that the protocol is ready for signature.
Under the agreement, spent nuclear fuel from Iranï¿½s sole nuclear power plant near the Persian Gulf port city of Bushehr would be returned to Russia. Moscow has called the repatriation accord a safeguard that should dispel U.S. and international concern that Iran could reprocess the fuel and extract plutonium from it for use in making nuclear bombs.
In the past, the signing of the fuel-return deal has been delayed several times because of what was described by both sides as technical and financial and safety issues. Some observers say U.S. pressure on Russia over its nuclear cooperation with Iran also might be why Moscow has at times appeared to move slowly toward finalizing the accord.
But given the continuing atmosphere of international tension over Iranï¿½s nuclear activities, some analysts say they still remain to be convinced the signing will actually take place next week as announced. A diplomat in Vienna who closely follows nuclear affairs told RFE/RL on condition of annonymity that it is highly unlikely that ï¿½Russia would consummate this deal until the concerns about Iranï¿½s nuclear program are more resolved.ï¿½ Vienna is the headquarters of the UNï¿½s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Some analysts say they consider it unlikely that Moscow will proceed with the signing so long as European states continue to negotiate with Iran over concerns Tehran might be engaged in ï¿½dual-useï¿½ activities that could lead to weapons development. Three key EU states -- Great Britain, France, and Germany -- are asking Tehran to give up uranium enrichment and other dual-use programs in exchange for trade incentives and European help with Iranï¿½s commercial nuclear energy program.
Dr. Hooman Peimani, a senior research fellow at the Bradford Universityï¿½s Center for International Cooperation and Security in England, believes no signing will take place before a final European-Iranian nuclear agreement. The three EU states and Iran began talks in November with no certainty they can reach an agreement and no deadline for doing so.
ï¿½One of the reasons why Russia had not been to eager to resolve this issue till now, are the uncertainties about Iranï¿½s nuclear program, currently the EU countries are negotiating with Iran , The IAEA is also supervising. I donï¿½t think Russia would sign the agreement so long as the EU has not reached an agreement with Iran that is acceptable for both sides and also so long as concerns over Iranï¿½s nuclear program are not resolved,ï¿½ Peimani said.
During a meeting yesterday with Iranï¿½s top nuclear negotiator Hassan Rowhani, who is visiting Moscow, Russian Security Council Secretary Igor Ivanov expressed support for the Iran/EU talks and said that Iran should continue a ï¿½constructive dialogueï¿½ with the IAEA.
Analysts say that in deciding whether to sign the accord, Russia has had to balance international concern with its own high commercial interest in obtaining Iranian nuclear contracts. Moscow has deflected some international criticism by maintaining its nuclear cooperation with Iran is regulated by international law and the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).
Russia is building the Bushehr plant as part of a deal that could bring Moscow additional, similar construction projects in the future. Last year the head of the Russian Federationï¿½s Atomic Energy Agency said that Russia may build seven more nuclear plants in Iran.
Alex Vatanka is a regional expert and the editor of Janeï¿½s Sentinel Security Assessments. He said Russiaï¿½s prospects for more work are not yet firm, but hopes are high.
ï¿½At this stage theyï¿½re probably in a wait and see position but if there is a sort of an agreement that if the Iranians are allowed to continue to have a [civilian] nuclear program then the Russians would like to continue and probably expand their nuclear cooperation with the Iranians," Vatanka said.
He added that Russiaï¿½s interest in Iran is not only economic but also part of its political strategy for developing allies in the region. ï¿½When I talk to Russians about this they say their dealing with Iran is purely economic," he said. "I donï¿½t think thatï¿½s the case but if you look at Russian statements about seven power plants in Iran, surely there will be economic value particularly given the fact that they donï¿½t have a lot of customers for their nuclear technology and Iran is probably the biggest one of all the markets available to them. But look also at what Russia is likely to want to achieve from having closer ties with Iran, and that is to have a country in the Middle East that it can refer to as its close ally.ï¿½
The United States, which accuses Iran of trying to secretly develop nuclear weapons, says Iran has no need for nuclear energy because of itï¿½s large oil reserves.
But Iranian officials reject that accusation. Iranï¿½s Ambassador to the United Kingdom Mohammad Hossein Adeli writes in a commentary in todayï¿½s "Financial Times" that ï¿½if Iran does not resort to alternative sources of energy, including nuclear, its development will be hampered.ï¿½
Iranï¿½s nuclear activities are set to be reviewed during the IAEA board of governors meeting, which starts on 28 March. The agencyï¿½s chief said earlier this week there have been no discoveries in the past six months to substantiate claims that Tehran is secretly developing a nuclear bomb.
The 1,000ï¿½megawatt Bushehr reactor is due to start up in the beginning of 2006. Russian officials say the nuclear fuel for the plant will be supplied after the signing of the agreement.
An IAEA spokesman told RFE/RL that the agency will monitor the Bushehrï¿½s plant as a soon as it becomes operational.
3. Rosatom Head's Visit to Tehran to Help In Resolving Many Iran Problems
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The visit to Teheran on February 26 by Rosenergoatom chief Alexander Rumyantsev will be a stride to resolve problems concerning Iran, State Duma international committee chairman Konstantin Kosachev told the RIA Novosti press conference on Friday.
To quote: "Rumyantsev's upcoming visit will be a stride in untying knots which have emerged in connection with Iran".
In the opinion of Mr. Kosachev, the Iran problem is the "sore point" in Russian-American relations. "Our points of view on the problem of Iran do not fully coincide, which only means such interaction is required", noted the Russian parliamentarian.
The United States is conducting "a tough line for maximal restriction of Russia, containment of the Russian positions", Mr. Kosachev stressed.
On February 26 Mr. Rumyantsev and Vice-President of Iran Golam Reza Agazade, head of the Atomic Energy Organization, will sign in Teheran a protocol to the agreement on building the Bushehr nuclear power plant regulating the return of wasted nuclear fuel to Russia.
Also in the plans is the signing of an addition to the contract on nuclear fuel shipments to Bushehr. The contract was concluded about two years ago between the TVEL Corporation and the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization. The addition also concerns the return of radioactive waste to Russia.
Russian nuclear fuel has not been shipped to Iran until the signing of documents on the return of wasted nuclear fuel.
"After that, shipments to Bushehr will begin until full core fuelling", Mr.Kosachev said. "Fuel may arrive to the Bushehr plant within a month of two upon signing".
The press service official did not specify the timeframe of shipments, noting that "it is a matter of suppliers".
4. Russia is Convinced Iran Has No Nuclear Ambitions
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Iran's recent actions have persuaded Russia that this country does not plan to produce nuclear weapons, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the meeting with Secretary of the Iranian Supreme National Security Council Hasan Rowhani in the Kremlin.
"It means that we shall continue cooperating with Iran in all spheres, including nuclear energy," Mr. Putin said.
"We expect Iran to stick to all obligations in the bilateral and international formats," he added.
"We are ready for further military-technical cooperation with Iran," Vladimir Putin said.
"I would like to discuss the so-called nuclear program of Iran and the situation in the region," he noted.
On his part, Hasan Rowhani assured that Iran's actions in the nuclear sphere were peaceful.
"When I visited Moscow last year there were many doubts about our nuclear program. Today nobody doubts that our activities in the nuclear sphere are peaceful which is mentioned in the last resolution of the IAEA Board of Governors," Mr. Rowhani said.
According to the Russian leader, Russian-Iranian relations are developing in all spheres.
"Iran is our old partner. In 2003 our bilateral trade grew twice and 2004 saw the same," Mr. Putin noted.
In his words, Russia and Iran have many projects in the economic and security spheres. "We support Iran's initiatives and expect Iran to support ours," the head of state stressed.
Vladimir Putin also spoke about his forthcoming visit to Iran.
"Preparations for the visit are underway. We are discussing the terms. It will be a separate issue on the today's agenda," he said.
"The dialogue between the Caspian states [on the Caspian Sea status] is difficult but I know that all sides strive for compromises," the Russian President continued.
"We assign priority to your visit. It will boost the development of our relations. Mr. Khatami [Iran's President] hopes to welcome you in Tehran in the near future," Hasan Rowhani noted.
A source in the Iranian Foreign Ministry told RIA Novosti that "Mr. Rowhani's talks with Russian top officials would focus on Iran's nuclear programs and the promotion of Moscow-Tehran cooperation in the peaceful nuclear sphere, in particular, the construction of the nuclear power plant in Bushehr".
According to the source, at issue will be the signing of the documents on the conditions of Russia's supplies of nuclear fuel to the Iranian nuclear power plant in Bushehr and the utilization of nuclear wastes. The documents are to be signed in late February in Tehran.
"It is not ruled out that the sides will discuss the recent US threats," RIA Novosti's interlocutor said.
The talks will also focus on the situation in Afghanistan and Iraq, bilateral military-technical cooperation and the Caspian Sea status, the source added.
Yesterday Hasan Rowhani met with Russian Security Council Secretary Igor Ivanov. At first they held private talks and then were joined by members of their delegations. The meeting lasted for several hours.
Igor Ivanov and Hasan Rowhani considered bilateral issues and key international problems, in particular, Moscow-Tehran cooperation in the security sphere.
Moreover, they discussed Iran's nuclear program. Mr. Ivanov pointed out the importance of further constructive dialogue between the IAEA and Iran and Iran's soonest ratification of the additional protocol to the IAEA agreement on guarantees.
1. Finnish Specialists' Master Class for Kola Nuke Operators
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Finnish specialists will hold eight training seminars on nuclear safety for operators of the Kola nuclear power station (KAES, Murmansk region, Barents sea).
Agreement has been reached during the visit to the Kola facility by Finnish representatives of the companies TVO Nuclear Services Oy (Finnish company providing services for nuclear facilities) and STUK (Finnish nuclear safety body supervising work within the program of technical assistance by the government of Finland for the enhancement of the Kola plant's safety), RIA Novosti learnt at the Kola station.
The visit is carried out within the framework of Finnish Technical Assistance for Enhancing KAES Safety.
Of most interest for KAES are - self-estimation of the competence of operators of modular control panels and maintenance personnel; interaction between the nuclear power station, nuclear safety and environment bodies; seminars for training-center instructors and on fire protection; organization of safety engineering work and safety culture; training of operative, maintenance and repair personnel.
The sides have agreed on the number of participants and framework for the seminars to be held at KAES and in Finland. KAES specialists have noted the indubitable usefulness of such cooperation, RIA Novosti was told.
TVO and STUK representatives visited the facility and familiarized themselves with the process of examinations for the operative personnel in the training center.
Yesterday, the State Duma Council included the question of the Vienna Convention ratification into agenda of the today plenary session. The Vienna Convention on Civil Liability for nuclear damage was signed in 1963. Russia signed the convention nine years ago. But itï¿½s only now that Russia finds it possible to ratify it. In the parliamentariansï¿½ opinion, the ratification will make it possible for Russia to participate in the international programs on cooperation in the sphere of atomic energy.
The Vienna Convention on Civil Liability for nuclear damage was open to be signed on May 21, 1963. It came into effect on November 12, 1977 when the fifth country signed it. The convention provides that the country that has nuclear materials bears the responsibility for their secure usage and storage. In case of an incident, the state is to indemnify the damage up to $50 million to those suffered within the country and abroad. The state court decision is necessary for that. There are 26 countries that signed the convention.
The Russian law on the usage of the atomic energy was adopted in 1995. It provides compensation in consequence of the nuclear damage only to Russian citizens. But it doesnï¿½t meet the requirements of the norms of the international law. On May 8, 1996, Russia finally signed the Vienna Convention and thereby decided to fulfill the international norms. But the State Duma refuses to ratify the convention due to the finance considerations. One of the grounds was the Chernobyl disaster: eight European countries paid their citizens, who suffered from the accident, $1.2 billion in total. It would be a burden for Russia. So, the USSR and Russia paid the compensation only to their citizens.
However, the refusal of the ratification made harm to Russia too. When Kursk atomic submarine wrecked in 2000, the European Union agreed to allot $35 million, which was the half of the amount needed. The Russian and Dutch decided to establish Kursk Fund for investments attraction. In February 2001, the European Unity announced that the European countries would finance the lift of Kursk, provided it happened within the frames of so-called versatile nuclear ecological program for Russia. However, Moscow refused the help. The officials said that Russia wouldnï¿½t let anybody to dictate it what to do. The ratification of the Vienna Convention was one of the conditions that the European Union requested. They wanted Russia to be responsible for the compensation of the ecological damage if something happens. Finally, it was only Moscow that financed the lifting.
But now Russia is interested in the ratification. ï¿½In 2002, at the G-8 simmit, our country became a participant of the program of the global partnership in the field of nuclear disarmament and atomic energy.ï¿½- Konstantin Kosachev, the Chairman of the International Affairs Committee of Duma told Kommersant. ï¿½Thus, our not-participation in the convention would contradict our participation in the global partnership program. Thatï¿½s why the ratification is necessary for the cooperation.ï¿½
Actually, the ratification doesnï¿½t promise Russia any burdens. According to Kosachev, the government would have to compensate the nuclear damage not only its citizens, but also the citizens of the countries that suffered from the incidents on the Russian territory. The convention provides the compensation $50 million as minimum. That is the lowest level that the nuclear objects should be insured. The real amount of the damage will be established according to the Russian law, that needs to be passed first. More likely, it will remain as it is. ï¿½Besides, Russia borders with seven European countries that use the nuclear energy: Lithuania, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. In case of incidents on the territories of these countries Russia had no compensations eitherï¿½- the deputy said.
4. Oslo Hosts Conference on Radiation Security in Russian North
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Representatives of several countries and international organizations have gathered in Oslo to discuss ways of helping Russia dismantle radioactive power generating units used by the military that are potentially dangerous radiation sources in the northern part of the country.
"The aim of the meeting is to consider ways of stepping up and broadening efforts already being taken by Norway with the assistance of other countries, because Norway's opportunities are limited, not so much for financial as for organizational reasons," a Norwegian diplomat said.
1. Transcript: Senators Rockefeller and Roberts on 'Fox News Sunday' (excerpted)
(for personal use only)
WALLACE: Some of your colleagues in the Senate are saying that, when you combine the fact that Putin is going to continue to help the Iranians build a nuclear reactor, and there have been some retrenchments on the democratic reforms in Russia, I think it's McCain and Lieberman have talked about suspending Russia from the G-8 industrial democracy.
Should we begin to really wave some sticks at President Putin?
ROCKEFELLER: I don't think this is the proper time, because I think ï¿½ we had a hearing last week in which they talked about loose nukes or unaccounted for nuclear weapons that the Russians had in their stockpile but which have disappeared. And I think that President Putin ought to be very worried about that within his own country, not only from Siberia, but also Chechnya, a former part of his country, et cetera. And I think that should be his focus. And I think it will be part of his focus.
WALLACE: We've been living, of course, under that threat since 9/11. Any reason to think that the threat is more pressing, more immediate now than it has been?
ROCKEFELLER: In the sense that half of the nuclear materials, pieces and parts of it, are unaccounted for by the Russians ï¿½ and a lot of them, these places are in rural areas ï¿½ I think you can legitimately look at North Korea and the unaccounted-for nuclear weapons parts in Russia and have a real debate as to which is more threatening to the world right now, because the point is that a lot of those people who protect those places can be bribed.
Terrorists can come in and buy part of those. And that's the theory that I think Porter was talking about, that a lot of those lost nuclear weapons can be out circulating in the terrorist community. And if that's so, that's probably as dangerous or more so than North Korea.
2. Beginning of the Meeting with Secretary of the Iranian Supreme Council of National Security Hassan Rouhani
(for personal use only)
PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN: Dear Mr Rouhani, dear colleagues,
Let me wish you a warm welcome to Moscow. I remember our meeting in November 2003 here, in the Kremlin. We had a very detailed talk. And it is very pleasing for me to note that relations between Russia and Iran are developing consistently in almost all directions.
Iran is our long-standing partner. In 2003 our volume of trade turnover doubled, and grew by another third in 2004. We have many joint interests as Caspian nations. And although dialogue is not easy between all Caspian nations, I know for a fact that everyone has the desire to find a compromise in this region.
I remember the invitation of the Iranian leadership to visit your country. We are preparing for this visit. We will agree on the dates separately, but I think that we will talk about this issue again today.
We have many interesting projects in the sphere of the economy and in the security sphere, above all in the Caspian region, of course. In connection with this, we support several of Iranï¿½s initiatives, and I hope that we will also talk about this in more detail today. We hope to be met with a similar position in our initiatives.
I would ask you to pass on my very best wishes to the Iranian leadership. It is very pleasing for us that relations between us are developing well at practically all levels, and that dialogue is continual. I hope, of course, to discuss with you issues concerning the so-called nuclear problem, and to discuss the situation in the region. In general, we have a very large agenda, and we are glad to see you.
HASSAN ROUHANI: Thank you very much, Mr President,
I am very happy about todayï¿½s meeting which allows us to exchange opinions. I thank you for your very hospitable reception, and I am glad to pass on warm wishes and greetings from our leadership.
The development and deepening of our relations in the area of bilateral ties, regional issues, and also issues of the international agenda are priority areas of Iranï¿½s foreign policy. In the current international situation, and also given the complex regional situation, we have no doubt that developing relations matches the interests of the two parties, and will be a factor for strengthening stability in the region.
We attach great importance to your visit. Undoubtedly, it will provide additional stimulus for the development of our relations. Mr Khatami hopes to welcome you soon in Tehran.
At our last meeting held last year, we discussed a large list of issues of our cooperation in various areas. I am glad to inform you today that over the last year, significant progress has been reached in all these areas. In the Iranian Supreme Council of national security, we are keeping track of the progress of these joint projects, and I hope to present you with a report today on the development of the situation in these issues.
Since last year, major steps have been taken on our part in the nuclear sphere. Last year, when we were in Moscow, many people in the world had doubts about the nature of our activity in the nuclear sphere. But today no one doubts that our activity in the nuclear sphere is of an exclusively peaceful nature. This was stated by representatives of the International agency for nuclear energy, and also by the Board of Governors, and recorded in the last resolution of the Board. Along with the talks that we are holding with the European Group of Three, we also attach great importance to the role that Russia can play. We believe that Russiaï¿½s role may be very beneficial to advance these talks.
Very important problems lie before us in connection with the situation in the region. And I would like to discuss individual aspects of this situation once more
Where our two countries have worked together, this has only helped security and stability in the region. This is shown by our cooperation in Afghanistan, in Central Asia, in Transcaucasia, and in the Caspian region. Our cooperation in all these regions has helped to strengthen stability. Naturally, today we are encountering new problems in the region, but we have no doubt that consultations between Moscow and Tehran will help to overcome these problems.
MR PUTIN: I completely agree with your assessment. You know our position on the nuclear problem. We are firmly convinced that proliferation of nuclear weapons will not help security, and will not strengthen security either in the region or in the world in general. The recent actions by Iran have convinced us that Iran truly does not intend to manufacture nuclear weapons, and this means that we will continue cooperation in all spheres, including in the sphere of nuclear energy.
We hope, of course, dear Mr Rouhani, that Iran will strictly adhere to all the obligations it has taken on bilaterally ï¿½ with Russia ï¿½ and internationally. We will continue cooperation with Iran in all spheres, including the military and technical sphere. And I agree with you that our joint work in a number of regions in the world ï¿½ you have listed them: the Caucasus, Afghanistan and Central Asia ï¿½ will have a positive result. These joint actions can only be assessed in a positive light, and we count on this joint work in future.
3. Interview of the President by ITAR-TASS (excerpted)
Office of the Press Secretary, The White House
(for personal use only)
Q: American-Russian relationship -- what was the biggest success during your first term? And what are your plans for next four years?
THE PRESIDENT: I appreciate that. Look, I think the biggest success would be twofold: one, an understanding of the war -- the world we live in and the war on terror. Now, the enemy hit us and they hit Russia. They hit us in a gruesome way, and they hit Russia in a gruesome way -- Beslan, these movie theaters. I mean, there are all kinds of terrible events that have taken place. And so there's a common understanding that we need to work together on the war on terror. And that's important.
The other thing was the Moscow Treaty [2003 Moscow Treaty on Strategic Offensive Reductions]. We kind of recognized that an era has gone by, that we're reducing our nuclear stockpiles. And that's important, too.
Ahead, there's a lot of things we can do. We can work on proliferation. We can work on -- on disease and hunger. We can work on Iran to make sure the Iranians don't have a nuclear weapon. We continue to work on Korea. We continue to work for Middle Eastern peace. And the road map is an opportunity for the United States and Russia to cooperate to convince Israel and the Palestinians to do what's necessary to achieve peace. And so there's a lot we can do. And I'm looking forward to seeing my friend, Vladimir Putin.
4. Reps. Tauscher and Skelton Call for Overdue Nonprolif Reports From The President
Office of Rep. Ellen Tauscher
(for personal use only)
In an effort to improve accountability and awareness of Americaï¿½s non-proliferation efforts, Rep. Tauscher sought a series of reports about U.S. efforts to secure nuclear material the former Soviet Union, one of the most unstable venues for rogue weapons. The request for reports was agreed to in an amendment offered by Rep. Tauscher to the FY2003 Defense Authorization bill.
The Bush Administration has failed to follow through with the reporting standards they are supposed to complete by law, and today, Rep. Tauscher and House Armed Services Committee Ranking Democrat Skelton sent the letter below calling on the Presidentï¿½s to comply.
February 18, 2005
The Honorable George W. Bush President The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President,
We are writing to ask that you provide Congress with the annual report required by section 1205 of the FY2003 National Defense Authorization Act on a plan to coordinate and integrate U.S. nonproliferation activities. Every year, you were to provide a report to Congress on the implementation of a plan to secure nuclear weapons, material and expertise of the states of the Former Soviet Union. The report for 2003 was due Jan. 31, 2004 and is overdue. This week, we should have received the report for 2004.
We believe that these reports are a vital tool for Congress to better appreciate and assist the administration in improving U.S. nonproliferation programs. These programs do a vital job in reducing the threat of weapons of mass destruction. Nonetheless they could be improved if informed by a common nonproliferation plan and held to a uniform set of standards. It is in our interest and in those of our allies that we work jointly with Russia to dispose of nuclear weapons and weapons grade material that Russia does not retain in its arsenal as well as assist Russia in downsizing its nuclear complex. You have discussed the danger, a number of times, of terrorists getting access to a nuclear weapon or nuclear technology. The plan was required so that U.S. nonproliferation programs that focus on that danger are directed in the most effective manner.
Furthermore, as the last portion of the reportï¿½s mandate indicates, Congress needs to know if you have any recommendations that you consider appropriate regarding modifications to law or regulations, or pertaining to the organization of any Federal department or agency, in order to improve the effectiveness of any programs carried in the implementation of the plan.
We appreciate your attention to this important matter and look forward to your timely response.
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