1. Russia, Japan Preparing New Agreement on Scrapping Nuclear Subs
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Moscow and Tokyo are preparing a new agreement on scrapping of five decommissioned Russian nuclear submarines, one on Kamchatka Peninsula and four in the Far Eastern Primorye (Maritime) territory, deputy head of the Federal Atomic Energy Agency (Rosatom) Sergei Antipov said on Thursday.
He took part in talks and consultations on the problem held in the Japanese capital.
According to Antipov, "talks and cooperation with the Japanese side in the sphere of nuclear submarines scrapping are going with big difficulty."
However, "Japan expresses readiness to start the scrapping of the next nuclear-powered submarine by the end of this year," he said.
Within the framework of the Global Partnership programme that began to be implemented on the decision of the G8 summit in Kananaskis in 2002 in the interests of non-proliferation of mass destruction weapons, dangerous materials and technologies Tokyo announced the allocation of 200 million U.S. dollars to Russia.
Half of the sum was to be spent on dismantling worn out Russian submarines, another half on burning weapons grade plutonium. However, over the past 2.5 years only one Russian nuclear sub was scrapped with 6.2 million U.S. dollars provided by Japan by December 2004.
For instance, analogous cooperation of Japan with Canada has been developing more dynamically with an annual dismantling of three submarines.
"We've also proposed to the Japanese side a number of projects for financing within the framework of cooperation on scrapping nuclear submarines," Antipov pointed out.
The projects include "in particular, the construction of a coastal base for long-term storage of submarines' nuclear sections, reconstruction of a railway stretch from the Zvesda plant in the Far East to the Trans-Siberian railway for nuclear fuel transportation, as well as the creation by joint efforts of a regional system of radiological-environmental monitoring in Primorye.
The U.S. Department of Defense reportedly is weighing a proposal to secure as many as 74 possible Russian bioweapons sites so terrorists cannot obtain possession of the pathogens stored there.
The move ultimately could put out of reach some of the most important Russian weapons facilities, including laboratories in Obolensk and Novosibirsik, as well as Ministry of Defense facilities in Kirov and Sergiev Posad.
The proposal, being made by the International Exchange Group, would begin with a pilot project to secure six specific sites and then expand to other locations if successful. Destruction of pathogens stored at the facilities is a possibility, but that would depend on further negotiations with the Russians, said Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., a supporter of the idea and part of the group's oversight body.
IEG is a non-governmental organization with offices in Washington and close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin's government. In fact, the group's ability to influence those in authority in Russia is at the center of the proposal. It is supposed to be able to ensure American funds spent on securing the dangerous material are not subject to the fraud and abuse that Weldon said has consumed 25 percent to 30 percent of such U.S. aid to Russia since the demise of the Soviet Union.
The six proposed sites include the State Scientific Center of Applied Microbiology in Obolensk -- a former biological weapons facility where scientists researched bacteria including anthrax, plague, tularemia and glanders.
Also on the list is the State Scientific Center of Virology and Biotechnology, a part of the notorious Vektor Institute.
Vektor had some 4,500 scientists working on bioweapons in 1990, author Richard Preston told Congress in 1998. It also is supposed to be holding Russia's samples of smallpox virus -- supposedly only one of two such sample sets in the world.
The smallpox connection makes the center -- which Ken Alibek has identified as being in Novosibirsik -- particularly interesting. Alibek, a Russian bioweapons expert who defected to the United States in 1992, confirmed to United Press International the center worked on virus-based biological weapons.
The headquarters for Biopreparat -- the Biopreparat Open Joint Stock Co. in the city of Moscow -- also is on the list. Created in 1973, Biopreparat was an umbrella organization for commercial pharmaceutical research and a front for bioweapons activity. Though no research was done there, Alibek said, the site could hold clues to work done at other locations.
"In my time all biological weapons development information was kept in that building," Alibek said.
Other sites on the list include the Scientific and Research Institute of Virology and the Epidemiological and Microbiological Scientific and Research Institute in Moscow. These were not bioweapons sites, said Alibek, but both housed collections of pathogens. The sixth is the Federal Center of Animals Health Protection. The type of work done there and its role are unclear.
The six sites are "absolutely" worth securing, Alibek said, and the expanded list has facilities he thinks gaining access to would be particularly important.
Among the most valuable would be the Scientific Research Institute of Microbiology in Kirov and the Center of Virology at Sergiev Posad. Both were run by the Ministry of Defense and access to the latter has been refused up to now.
Gaining access previously denied is exactly what the proposal is about, Weldon said.
"It is a brand new concept," Weldon told UPI. "They have never done it before. Usually this work is done ministry to ministry. What we are exploring is the use of a non-governmental entity in Russia that is very close to Putin to get access that we haven't been able to get through the traditional channels. This is kind of a whole new process. That is why we are doing two small pilot programs to test it -- to see if it is real."
Weldon, fluent in Russian and a long-time proponent of improving relations between the United States and Russia, co-chairs IEG's Joint Political Council with Alexander Kotenkov, plenipotentiary representative of the president at the Russian Federation at the Council of Federation -- the upper house of the Russian Parliament, roughly equivalent to the U.S. Senate. The two men provide "guidance, consultation and strategic oversight" a company brochure said.
Also looking over IEG's shoulder are a number of seemingly well-placed Russian officials. The group's Board of Guardians includes Victor Zavarzn and Vladimir Vasilev, chairmen of the Duma committees on defense and (homeland) security, respectively.
Also on the board are:
--Aleksander Bortnikov deputy director of the Federal Security Service, which handles internal security and, as of last year, head of FSS's Economic Security Service;
--Yury Baluevsky, first deputy chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation;
--Lubov Sliska, first deputy chairman of the State Duma, and
--Alexey Alexandrov, member of the Council of Federation.
Money for the project, a figure in the low millions of dollars, Weldon said, likely would come from the Defense Department's Defense Threat Reduction Agency, with no further congressional approval required. Work would be done by Russian agency personnel but inspected by the American funders. Work would not be paid for until it was confirmed to be correct and complete, he said.
The proposal is being reviewed, Weldon said, by the office of Douglas Feith and an interagency panel, Weldon noted. Feith is the Defense Department's undersecretary of defense for policy.
Feith's office did not respond to several requests for information on the proposal.
"We haven't had access to all the biological sites or the chemical sites," said Weldon, who has been pushing the idea for the past six months. "The Russians have said if we work through this process we can get access to any site in Russia."
Under the Soviet system, testing of lethal nerve agents was the order of the day at the Research Institute of Hygiene, Occupational Pathology and Human Ecology near St. Petersburg.
Last week, the institute's director came to Indianapolis with far more peaceable aims in mind: learning the ins and outs of early drug development at Eli Lilly and Co.
The two-day visit by seven Russian scientists marked the latest step in a U.S. State Department program begun in 2002 to help demilitarize the once-formidable Soviet chemical weapons industry.
Lilly has played a key role in the low-profile but high-stakes effort by lending several dozen of its scientists and other employees to the cause. Several have journeyed to Russia to see for themselves the former chemical weapons labs that U.S. taxpayer dollars are helping to convert and upgrade for use in drug discovery.
At Lilly, "senior management is really excited about it. Everybody's really pitching in," said Peter J. Sausen, a Lilly toxicology manager who has worked on the Russian effort since 2003.
The Indianapolis drugmaker has opened its doors to Russian scientists, allowing them to tour even its animal-testing labs in Greenfield where public access is tightly restricted. To prepare for the visit last week by Russians from two research institutes, a colleague of Sausen's spent hours on his own time writing detailed design guidelines for the Russians to use in constructing their toxicology labs.
"They couldn't believe we would be helping them out like this," Sausen said. "The word for thank you in Russian is 'spasiba,' and you just keep hearing 'spasiba, spasiba, spasiba.' "
With the Soviet chemical weapons program officially disbanded, the Office of Proliferation Threat Reduction in the State Department set out to keep terrorists and foreign governments from recruiting Russian scientists or buying cast-off Russian equipment to use in their chemical weapons programs.
The federal plan calls for essentially building a Russian drug discovery industry from the lab bench up, tapping the same scientists who once were engaged largely in developing chemical weapons.
The Russian scientists Lilly is advising "are coming from facilities . . . that were dedicated to industrially produced chemical nerve agents. That industry now is gone," said Jim Wolfram, program director for the state department's program, called the Bio-Industry Initiative.
Congress funded the program with $30 million, later adding more money to pay for similar programs in Iraq, Libya and other countries.
Lilly was asked to help, in part, because one of its home-state senators, Richard G. Lugar, R-Ind., is an architect of the internationally funded demilitarization efforts in Russia.
Lilly scientists found their Russian counterparts using outdated, underfunded labs and test methods that aren't up to international standards. Lab animals at one leading Russian lab, for instance, were fed with leftovers from the employee cafeteria because the lab didn't have money to buy scientifically formulated feed.
"It's like time stopped in the Stalin era," said Vince Meador, a Lilly director of toxicology who has toured several Russian labs. "The (Russian scientists) are really smart, and it's almost painful for them. They want to do good work."
During a tour of Lilly's main research labs in Indianapolis, Russian scientists asked questions ranging from the basic to the technical: how to best take blood samples from mice, what lab walls were made of, and the hierarchy of jobs within the labs. An interpreter struggled to keep up with the rapid-fire questions and answers.
At Lilly's Greenfield site, where some 600 employees work in toxicology buildings, the Russian scientists even got a peek behind the scenes at heating and ventilating areas. The hard-hatted visitors stared at massive air- handling units the size of semi-trailers that handle the 12 to 20 air changes an hour needed to filter dirt and other contaminants in labs.
Vladimir R. Rembovski, director of the Research Institute of Hygiene near St. Petersburg, said he was impressed that quality standards at Lilly and two other drug lab sites the Russians visited last week are "not just something they pay lip service to."
The visit to Lilly "really has been very helpful," said Zaytseva Maria Anatolevna, senior researcher at the Institute of Toxicology, a state-owned facility in St. Petersburg. "This improves the transfer of our institute to more modern approaches."
Lilly's contributions to the program are unpaid, but the company does expect its work will bring it goodwill and brand recognition in Russia, which could become a bigger buyer of Lilly drugs as its economy develops.
As part of the Bio-Industry Initiative, a promising drug molecule, developed by a U.S. biotech firm, was given to some of the Russian labs to test and try to develop into a marketable drug.
"They are just so excited getting the opportunity to do current science," said Sausen, the Lilly scientist, who hosted a dinner for the Russian contingent at his Hancock County home. "It's kind of geeky about me, but it's sort of neat to see people excited about science."
2. Russia: Construction of Chemical Arms Destruction Facility Proceeding Apace
BBC Monitoring and Itar-Tass
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Construction of a chemical weapons destruction facility in the village of Maradykovo in Kirov Region is proceeding apace, with more than R130m worth of capital investments carried out in the space of two months, Russian ITAR-TASS news agency reported from Nizhniy Novgorod today.
Eighty per cent of the public sector money to be spent in 2005 on the facility has already been allocated. It is planned to commission the first stage in 2007, with the facility itself being handed over for use in 2009.
Currently 40,822 aviation bombs and warheads filled with "toxic" substances are in storage in the facility at Maradykovo. The entire stockpile is to be destroyed by 2010, said the agency.
1. Russia: Mixed Oxide Fuel Plant Construction Delayed (excerpted)
BBC Monitoring and Interfax
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The start of construction of a mixed oxide fuel (MOX) plant at Siberian chemical combine, in the Tomsk Region town of Seversk, has been postponed indefinitely, the combine's first deputy general director, Valeriy Meshcheryakov, told Interfax.
He said that the construction of MOX plants in Russia and the USA is a political solution aimed at using up excess plutonium accumulated during the Cold War in Russia and the USA. According to this solution, G8 countries planned to pay out about 1.2bn dollars to build a plant in Seversk, and about the same amount to operate it, he said.
"To date only 824m dollars has been collected. It has been proposed to the Russian side to accept this amount and to cover the remaining expenditure itself," Mesheryakov said.
He also said that there are unresolved problems in the project, connected with the transfer of technological documents from France and, as a result "the are no possibilities to advance the project and make justified investments".
"At the moment, the Siberian chemical plant is working only under contracts signed earlier, no new contracts for the MOX plant are being signed," Mesheryakov said.
However, he said that the Russian side is ready to propose another way for using weapons grade plutonium - "burn it in fast-neutron reactors".
The MOX plant should have been built by 2010 as part of a Russian-US programme to destroy weapons-grade materials.
(passage omitted: details of the programme and background information on the Siberian chemical plant)
1. Belarus Halts Work to Destroy Soviet Missile Facilities Despite U.S. Agreement
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Belarus has halted the destruction of its ballistic missile launch pads despite a disarmament agreement with the United States according to which the former Soviet state would become a non-nuclear nation.
There are still 79 launching pads for Topol-type ballistic rockets, but their destruction has been halted, the Interfax news agency reported, citing a source in the nationï¿½s Defense Ministryï¿½s National Agency for Control and Inspection.
ï¿½According to the so-called Lisbon protocol, Belarus is supposed to have fully destroyed all nuclear weapons and to have become a non-nuclear state,ï¿½ the source, who was not named, was quoted as saying.
Initially, there were 81 such launch pads; one was destroyed with the help of explosives, another was partially dismantled.
The protocol also binds the country to remove not only the weapons, but their launching bases as part of the agreement.
The Topol launching pads are set to be destroyed, but the CIS state ï¿½does not have enough funds and technical capabilitiesï¿½ to do this, the source said.
The foundations of the launch pads were built using high-grade cement, which is 30 meters thick in some places. ï¿½It is impossible to remove this cement using our current means.ï¿½
Other methods to remove the cement are being examined, including blasting the cement, but this may have ecological consequences.
1. Russia Calls For World Convention to Prevent Nuke Terror
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The world is not to put off the adoption of an international convention on efforts against nuclear terror acts, stressed Igor Ivanov, Russia's Security Council Secretary.
If the convention were passed in a consensus during the current, 59th United Nations General Assembly session, it would come as a landmark in global efforts to rule out terrorist access to mass destruction weaponry, Mr. Ivanov said to an international summit on democracy, terrorism and security, underway in Madrid.
The world is waging a hard battle on terrorism, and to build up mutual confidence of all countries who share universal democratic values is a principal earnest of victory in that battle, he pointed out. However hard anti-terror combat might be, the world will certainly cope, reassured Mr. Ivanov.
1. Iran's Nuclear Program Must Be Controlled by IAEA ï¿½ Ivanov
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Russian Security Council Secretary Igor Ivanov believes that concerns over Iran's nuclear program should be removed via negotiations.
Speaking during his visit to Egypt, Ivanov said that "concerns emerging over Iran's nuclear program should be removed within the framework of the negotiating process," the council's press service told Interfax on Monday.
2. Russia-Iran Atomic Energy Cooperation Legal ï¿½ Ivanov
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Russia develops atomic energy cooperation with Iran in strict compliance with international agreements, Russian Security Council Secretary Igor Ivanov said after Sunday negotiations with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Ali Aboul Gheit.
The secretary and the minister discussed non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and international issues.
ï¿½We are finalizing construction of the nuclear power plant in Bushehr within the framework of these accords,ï¿½ Ivanov said. ï¿½The project is under control of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and the Agency does not have questions about it.ï¿½
ï¿½Russia wants to strengthen the regime of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,ï¿½ Ivanov said. ï¿½Iranian nuclear programs are under strict control of the IAEA, we insisted on that, and we are satisfied with the Iranian position.ï¿½
1. Russian Embassy Rebuffs Remark on NK's Nuclear Capability
The Korea Times
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The Russian Embassy in Seoul Sunday repudiated a high-ranking Russian officialï¿½s remarks that North Korea has no nuclear weapons.
Sergei Antipov, deputy director of the Federal Nuclear Power Agency, said in an interview with Itar-Tass in Tokyo on Thursday that Pyongyang has ``no possibilities to produce arms-grade (nuclear) charges.ï¿½ï¿½
It was the first time for a Russian official to publicly question Pyongyangï¿½s alleged possession of nuclear warheads since North Koreaï¿½s Foreign Ministry declared last month that it has nuclear bombs.
But the Russian Embassy spokesman called Antipovï¿½s remarks only a personal view. ``Itï¿½s not an official position of the Russian government,ï¿½ï¿½ he told The Korea Times. ``I think it was an expression of his personal opinion.ï¿½ï¿½
Antipov said reprocessing nuclear fuel rods does not necessarily mean that Pyongyang has successfully developed nuclear warheads because ``the technology of their production is more difficult than the use of atom for peace.ï¿½ï¿½
He was visiting Tokyo to discuss nuclear cooperation programs with Japan.
Even though the Russian Embassy rebuffed Antipovï¿½s remarks, it did not admit Pyongyangï¿½s possession of nuclear warheads either. Instead, the embassy spokesman said Moscowï¿½s official stance has been made public hours after Pyongyangï¿½s Feb. 10 declaration.
By issuing a one-page statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation expressed its regret over North Koreaï¿½s boycott of the six-nation nuclear talks. But the ministry did not take for granted that Pyongyang has already developed nuclear warheads.
``We cannot but regret the DPRKï¿½s decision on an indefinite suspension of its participation in the six-party talks and the public announcement of an intention to build up its nuclear potential,ï¿½ï¿½ Alexander Yakovenko, spokesman of Russiaï¿½s Foreign Ministry, said in the statement.
DPRK is the acronym of Democratic Peopleï¿½s Republic of Korea.
Russia considers that North Korea wants to strengthen its bargaining power in the six-party talks by arguing that it is already armed with nuclear bombs, North Korea experts in Seoul said.
Participants in the six-nation talks, South Korea, the United States, China, Russia and Japan, are urging North Korea to return to the negotiation, which has been suspended since June last year.
The Russian Space Forces have started preparations for launching a Dnepr carrier rocket, a civilian version of the heavy R-36M2 Voyevoda intercontinental ballistic missile, or the SS-18 Satan in NATO classification. The launch is scheduled for the second quarter of this year. Fifteen craft from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Russia and the U.S. are to be orbited at once. Officials from the Federal Space Agency (Roskosmos) have said the launch date will be specified when the ground system, the carrier rocket and the space vehicles are ready.
A civilian R-36, converted into a Dnepr carrier rocket, was first launched in 1999 from the Baikonur space center. Three more launches followed and a total of 20 satellites were put into orbit.
"The use of decommissioned intercontinental ballistic missiles for orbiting all kinds of commercial and scientific payloads is a very profitable business on the global launch services market of," said Anatoly Perminov, Roskosmos chief. "We make double or even triple profits. We get rid of redundant missiles that have to be destroyed under the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty. After a launch, we assess the state of rockets that remain on combat duty. And we receive money from our foreign customers for launching payloads into space, which allows us to maintain space production and the infrastructure at space centers."
Over 100 R-36 strategic missiles of various modifications and built in different years are on combat duty with the Strategic Missile Forces. They will remain in service at least until 2016, and until 2020 they may be used for launching spacecraft.
The Kosmotrans International Space Corporation runs the commercial use of Dnepr rockets. It comprises Russian and Ukrainian facilities and organizations that developed the R-36 system, and is responsible for control over the warranty and designers' supervision during its use.
Vladimir Andreyev, Kosmotrans general director, says the corporation has five ICBMs for conversion into carrier rockets, but if necessary, all combat missiles that are currently in service may be made into carrier rockets.
The rockets are 100% reliable, which is characteristic of all combat missile systems, and their payload capacity, which is enormous even by space standards - 9 metric tons for the basic low orbit and 3.7 tons for orbits at an altitude of 300km to 800km - means they can be used for launching virtually any space vehicles. Launch costs are not high; the rocket was developed in the Soviet era and its present market price is rather "relative." The first and second stages of the rocket and its engines are used without any modification. And only one of the control system units has been modernized in the third stage.
However, the problem is that Dnepr rockets are launched from the Baikonur space center, which Russia leases from Kazakhstan, despite the Kazakhstan authorities' great resistance. Under international treaties, they should have prohibited launches of environmentally dangerous rockets using liquid fuel from Baikonur in 2002. Kazakhstan has repeatedly demanded that it receive some of the profits from commercial launches in addition to the lease payments it receives for Baikonur.
In late December, the Strategic Missile Forces performed a training launch of the R-36M2 Voyevoda missile not from a specially equipped site at Baikonur, but directly from a region where a missile division is stationed near the city of Orenburg.
The launch area was equipped with additional measuring instruments allowing the rocket to be monitored during the preparations for launching and in the initial stage of the flight. The entire flight was controlled by the radars at the Space Forces test center and at three spaceports - Baikonur, Plesetsk and Svobodny. Accordingly, experts not only checked the combat readiness of the rocket, which had been on combat dutyfor 16 years, but also confirmed that commercial launches could take place where decommissioned rockets are based.
Launches near Orenburg also have other important merits. The rocket's flight trajectory runs over the unpopulated areas in Siberia. The engine of the first stage and the aluminum fuel tank with reserve fuel separate from the rocket and fall in the center of an ellipse with a radius of 30-50km in a waterlogged area of the Tyumen region. The second stage of the rocket falls in Kamchatka's Kura testing ground, which is specially designed for the purpose.
Until recently Dnepr rockets put light satellites into orbit, a few satellites in a single launch, which is true also about the upcoming launching. The idea now is to start launching large space vehicles up to 5.3 meters long and weighing two to three tons. To maintain a high level of reliability, the standard fairing, which has been tested many times, will remain unchanged.
The range of launch services carried out by Dneprs will be extended by bringing into play an autonomous space tug with one or two stages. This ship's first flight is scheduled for 2005, and the second one will be launched in 2007.
A company, Astrium, has signed agreements on using a Dnepr carrier rocket for launching the German Terra SAR-X space vehicle, along with France's National Space Research Center (CNES). A contract has also been signed with America's Bigelow Aerospace to launch six heavy satellites in 2006-2008 under a program to orbit various constructions and practice new technologies in orbit. Moreover, Kosmotrans has signed an agreement on cooperation with the German corporation SpaceTech GmbH in marketing the Dnepr carrier rockets on the global launch services market. Mr. Andreyev says the agreement does not only cover for marketing support but also technical cooperation in rocket development.
Experts estimate that there may be the demand for 16-18 Dnepr launches on the launch services market in 2005-2008.
2. Moscow Looks to Nuclear Weapons as Cheap Way to Fill Its Arsenal
The Jamestown Foundation
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Russia's nuclear policy has once again become the stuff of controversy. On the one hand, domestic right-wingers, darkly suspicious of rumored U.S.-Russian agreements to put Russia's nuclear arsenal under some form of American supervision or control, are attacking the regime for selling out Russian sovereignty and power to Washington. But they overlook the fact that the Russian nuclear archipelago remains perhaps the largest outlet where terrorists could potentially acquire the capability to use weapons of mass destruction. Consequently, it is in everyone's interest that these weapons or weapons-grade materials remain under secure lock and key and be reliably inventoried.
At the same time, those Western analysts and elites who regularly assert that nuclear weapons serve no rational military purpose except to deter other nuclear weapons, along with those who believe in the efficacy of missile defenses, will not be cheered by Russia's recently announced trends regarding nuclear weapons. Last year President Vladimir Putin stated that these missiles would appear in Russia's arsenals, but that other states do not have and will not have those missiles within a few years time.
More recently, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov announced that Russia is now developing missiles that Moscow believes will be "unique, unmatched by the systems of any other country." In other words, these missiles will be able to penetrate missile defenses. Russian weapons engineers also make similar claims that these new missiles have a good chance of "beating all known and yet to be conceived anti-missile defense systems, including those with space-based elements." Many, though not all analysts, believe Ivanov was referring to both the Topol-M land-based mobile missile systems and the new Bulava sea-based intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) or perhaps to hypersonic versions of these missiles that could arguably defeat the projected U.S. missile defense system. These statements may be intended to rebut the domestic critics who believe that Putin is giving away the store. These two scenarios do not contradict each other.
However a third alternative explanation, and one that does not contradict these theories, is that a coherent Russian nuclear strategy is taking shape along with new developments in Russian weaponry. Ivanov, in his rivalry with former Chief of Staff General Anatoly Kvashnin, argued that nuclear weapons were, in his view, a war-fighting instrument that could be used to achieve concrete strategic ends. And in his more recent statements, Ivanov indicated his belief that these new weapons could deter a whole range of threats against Russia.
Moscow apparently rejects the notion that nuclear weapons (either strategic ICBMs or more short-range and smaller yield tactical nuclear weapons) do not serve rational or attainable strategic purposes. Thus once the 2002 Strategic Offensive Arms Reduction Treaty (SORT) with Washington was signed, the way was open for Russia to revert to placing multiple independent reentry vehicles (MIRVs) as its land-based component to last until the new systems enter into serial production. This saves money for now and extends the life of the existing SS-18 and SS-19 missiles until the Topols and Bulavas, if not newer systems that we do not know about, come into being. Likewise Russia is also building missile defenses and space systems so that it too, like the United States, will not remain defenseless and face a potential nuclear threat.
Ivanov also observed that Russia will remain a nuclear power, but it does not need the arsenal that the Soviet Union had. Nor are Russian missiles aimed at specific countries, although they are intended to deter against a whole range of possible contingencies.
Following this line, Russia, according to Ivanov, also aims at self-sufficiency in its scientific, technological, and production capability although it does not exclude future cooperation with NATO. Russia's strategy is a balanced development of strategic forces, improving and upgrading missile systems, and maintaining a sufficient capability to deter threats and defend its interests.
As Russia's economic capability now determines much of its strategic policy, efforts are underway for the Bulava to serve both as a submarine-launched missile on existing Akula class submarines and the forthcoming Borey class submarines, but also as a land-based missile. Ivanov has stated that in 2005 Russia plans to buy seven strategic missiles, nine new space apparatuses for military purposes, and five booster rockets.
This may not seem like a comprehensive rearmament but, within the limits of Russia's capabilities, these figures suggest a continuing commitment to a robust nuclear capability as well as to a gradually revived army capable of meeting Russia's territorial commitments and interests.
Moscow's strategy for rebuilding Russia's defense capability may be limited and hampered by fiscal constraints and the previous collapse of those armed forces, as well as the fact that it can only occur over a long-term. But this does not mean that we should be blind to strategic, doctrinal, and operational realities that are beginning to make themselves felt in Russian policy. There is a strategy and policy emerging here, and they need to be understood and analyzed if we are to continue making sense of Russian developments.
1. Russia Denies Responsibility for Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster
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Russia, which is the legal successor of the Soviet Union, should not have to compensate for the damage inflicted by the explosion at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, the Itar-Tass news agency quoted a top nuclear official as saying on Friday.
Sergei Antipov, deputy head of the Federal Agency for Atomic Energy, was speaking at the Friday session of the upper chamber of the Russian parliament devoted to ratifying the Vienna Convention on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage. The official said that Russia had signed the Convention in 1996, though the Chernobyl accident had taken place 10 years earlier.
The Convention, ratified by the Federation Council, which was signed by Russia in Vienna in May 1996, is one of the basic international legal documents regulating the liability regime and the procedure for paying compensation for the damage done by incidents at civilian nuclear facilities. 26 countries have signed the Convention.
Mikhail Margelov, head of the Federation Council committee for international affairs, said that the main idea of the document consisted in ï¿½providing protection to citizens of a country against the damage done by a nuclear incident in another countryï¿½. Russian legislation does not ensure such protection now.
According to Margelov, the Convention stipulates the payment of compensation for nuclear damage if a court satisfies the demand of the person who sustained the damages. It gives an opportunity to the state to restrict the liability of the operator of the nuclear installation and sets a low limit of liability.
2. Russia Ratifies Convention on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage
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The Federation Council has ratified the Vienna Convention on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage on Friday. 133 members of the upper house voted for the decision, 1 was against it, and 1 abstained.
Mikhail Margelov, chairman of the International Committee of the Federation Council, reported that the document was signed on behalf of the Russian Federation in May 1996.
"The Convention is a fundamental international legal document in the sphere of civil liability for nuclear damage resulting from incidents at civilian nuclear installations," he underlined. The Convention provides for the payment of compensation for nuclear damage by a court decision.
Mr. Margelov stressed that in accordance with the document the amount, type and conditions for insurance are determined by the Installation State. If there is a lack of insurance assets to sustain nuclear liability claims, the payment shall be guaranteed by the state, with the maximum sum not exceeding $60 million.
"The Convention does not touch upon compensation for nuclear damage caused by an act of terrorism, and it is very important," Mr. Margelov stressed.
According to him, Russia's ratification of the Convention will promote the development of broad international cooperation in nuclear energy, which meets the economic, political and scientific interests of Russia.
Answering his colleagues' questions, the committee chairman stressed that the ratification would not entail Russia's liability for the Chernobyl disaster. "Firstly, the disaster took place before the ratification, and secondly, it was on the territory of another state," he noted.
The Chernobyl disaster occurred on April 26, 1986.
Sergei Antipov, a spokesman for the Russian Atomic Energy Agency (Rosatom), told the Federation Council members that "the absolute majority" of 32 states that signed the Vienna Convention had already ratified it.
1. Commentary by Alexander Yakovenko, Spokesman, Regarding a Question Concerning Remarks by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice About Readiness to Help Iran Join WTO
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
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Question: How are Ms. Rice's statements about a US readiness to help Iran enter into the WTO if Teheran gives up its intentions to develop WMDs, as also to lift restrictions on supplies of spare parts for Iranian civilian aircraft, being viewed in Moscow?
Answer: Moscow has positively assessed the remarks of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, which contain new elements in the United States' policy towards Iran. We expect them to positively fit into the line being pursued by the Western European countries as well as by Russia in a striving to remove all the questions as to the character of the Iranian nuclear program on the basis of cooperation.
2. Russian-South Korean Foreign Policy Consultations in Moscow
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
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On March 11 Russian-South Korean foreign policy consultations took place at the Russian MFA. Taking part in them from the Russian side was Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexander Alexeyev, and from the South Korean - Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Republic of Korea Song Min Soon.
The sides substantively discussed the situation that has evolved around the settlement of the nuclear problem of the Korean Peninsula. The Russian side emphasized that the sole way of ensuring a nuclear-weapons-free status for the Korean Peninsula remains a constructive dialogue on the basis of mutually acceptable compromise solutions and due consideration for the concerns of all the parties involved. In this connection the participants of the consultations spoke for the earliest possible resumption of the six-party talks for resolving the nuclear problem of the Korean Peninsula. The sides agreed to continue contacts at various levels with the aim of further coordinating their positions on this issue.
In the course of the consultations a number of current issues in bilateral cooperation and upcoming foreign policy events with the participation of the representatives of both countries also were considered.
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