1. Russia, Japan Appoint Conferences to Start Nuke Sub Salvaging, Late in Year, Says Memo
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Russia and Japan will meet in consultations to launch five nuclear submarine salvaging toward the year's end, says a memorandum on the 7th session of a bilateral intergovernmental commission for commercial and economic issues.
The Parties have come to a shared opinion on further consultations to finish, as soon as possible, drafting an executive understanding on salvaging five submarines to guarantee the works started as early as this year's end, says the memo.
Victor Khristenko, Russia's Industry and Energy Minister, and Nobutaka Machimura, Japan's Foreign Minister, signed the memorandum today.
The Russo-Japanese nuclear disarmament committee board made a resolution to salvage the five submarines, January last.
Russia and Japan are determined to carry on team efforts dismantling nuclear submarines based in Russia's Far East and discarded by its Navy, says the memo. The dismantling decision found reflection in an agreement signed October 13, 1993.
The Parties greeted a submarine fully salvaged, December last.
The commission conferees confirmed their intention to carry on preparations for a seminar on joint liquidation of nuclear arsenals Russia is due to cut. The seminar is tentatively appointed for next June, with Tokyo for venue.
A WHO committee wants permission to allow genetic modification of the smallpox virus. Some scientists and physicians are gravely concerned, K.T. CHELVI reports. Next month, if the World Health Assembly (WHA) says yes ï¿½ to the recommendations of its scientific committee ï¿½ the world may see the resurrection of the deadly scourge of the past ï¿½ smallpox.
WHA's Variola Advisory Committee (VAC) is seeking permission to allow the genetic modification of the smallpox virus. WHA, the decision-making body to the World Health Organisation (WHO), will decide on these recommendations at its 55th meeting in Geneva, starting on May 13. According to the committee, genetic modification would aid and accelerate the development of new vaccines against the Variola virus ï¿½ the cause of smallpox Officially, smallpox had been declared eradicated on May 9, 1980, after a successful global vaccination campaign led by WHO. The acute and highly contagious disease which not only kills but also maims, blinds and leaves unsightly scars, had killed an estimated 300 million people in the 20th century alone. Renowned British explorer, translator and orientalist Sir Richard Burton called it the most dangerous epidemic, which sweeps like a storm of death over the land ï¿½ wiping out towns, villages and towns.
It took the world health body an unprecedented 10 years and a US$300 million (RM1.1 billion) campaign in over 30 nations to eradicate this disease. Presently, the last known strains of smallpox (Variola virus) are kept in two high security laboratories: the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, US, and the Russian State Centre for Research on Virology and Biotechnology in Koltsovo in Russia. Soon after eradication, all remaining Variola virus had been slated for elimination. The world health body had on numerous occasions (1993,1994,1995 and 1996) ordered the remaining virus be destroyed but the labs in US and Russia did not do so.
And now comes the genetic modification proposal. NGOs are crying foul saying that there is no reason for keeping the virus unless it's for the development of biological weapons.
According to Sujatha Byravan, the executive director of the Council For Responsible Genetics (CRG), if these recommendations were allowed, WHO would set an ominous precedent which could trigger the prospect of a biological race. This sentiment is shared by the man who in 1967 headed the WHO smallpox Eradication Team, Professor Donald Henderson.
Henderson, now attached to the Centre for Bio-security at the University of Pittsburg, feared that tinkering with the genetic make-up of the Variola virus might accidently create a more virulent form of the disease. "I'd be happier if we were not doing it and the simple reason is I don't think it serves a purpose I can support," said Henderson who had witnessed the ravages of the disease in the 60s. However, members of WHO's scientific committee insist that the proposed modification is not as risky as many believe it to be.
Professor Geoffrey Smith who chairs the WHO committee for the Variola virus research was reported to have said that American scientists were merely proposing to insert a neon marker from jellyfish into the virus, making it easier to track the virus. "If you have a virus that expresses green fluorescent protein, you can do the drug screening in a much rapid and automated way." Smith, of the Imperial Colleg of London, added that it is clear there is a need to develop drugs against this virus, hence the reason for the recommendations and the readiness of scientific committee to consider them. Why the urge only now to find a cure for this dreadful disease that had purportedly been vanquished 25 years ago? According to reports, concerns about smallpox as a possible agent for bio-terrorism resurfaced after the 2001 anthrax attacks which killed five people in the US. More so, when it was discovered that a large batch of smallpox virus from the Russian lab went missing after the Soviet Union fell apart. And as a result, there has been increased concern about the availability of vaccine stocks.
Lim Li Ching of Third World Network (TWN), a non-government organisation involved in development, Third World and North-South issues, said: "For WHO, which seemed to have forgotten the smallpox's deadly sweep across the world, allowing GM on the virus would be a devastating step backwards.
"There are numerous evidences showing there had been generic modification on Variola virus way before the proposal by WHA's scientific committee." The US in 2002 had admitted to holding hybrid poxviruses ï¿½ combinations of smallpox virus and with animal pox virus ï¿½ created in the late 70s in Britain.
According to a 2004 report in US News, recent inventory of CDC's freezer unearthed unusual "chimera" viruses, created about 40 years ago, by crudely combining smallpox with other pox viruses. The Russians, on the other hand, had in 1991 developed the technology for creating vaccine- resistant smallpox virus, according to a BBC report.
As for genetic modification going dangerously wrong, there is the much quoted example of the Australian scientists who inadvertently created a mousepox strain so powerful that it killed even mice inoculated against the virus. This happened four years ago when the scientists were trying to engineer a sterility treatment to combat the population explosion of mice in Australia by splicing a single foreign gene into a typically mild mousepox virus. VAC is also seeking permission to allow the shipment of relatively large fragments of the virus ï¿½ up to 20 per cent of its entire genome ï¿½ from the two secure laboratories to other research institutes around the world as wells as to allow insertion smallpox genes into other pox viruses. These recommendations will leave the world vulnerable to smallpox as it increases the chances of accidental and deliberate release of the virus, says the Consumer Association of Penang (CAP). CAP urged the Health Ministry's representatives to firmly reject the Advisory Committee's recommendation at the WHA meeting this May. It says despite the sophistication and highly secure environment of the labs, there is always the possibility of accidents, human errors and abuse. The infamous example of Variola leak happened in a research laboratory in Birmingham, England in 1978. The virus which evidently escaped from the labs containment area, killed photographer Jane Parker.
The professor responsible for the unit killed herself and all known stocks of virus were destroyed except for the ones kept in the US and Russia. In Malaysia, there is no record to show how many died of smallpox before eradication. But an undated Malaysian Medical Association report found on the Net, stated that the last case of endemic smallpox in Malaysia was recorded in the 1950s. And in 1973, there was a small pox scare in Pasir Mas Kelantan, claimed to have spread from Thailand but this turned out to be a false alarm, said a retired senior physician who specialised in infectious diseases. The science and medical community opposing the recommendation say the scientific benefits claimed by the committee is just not worth the risk to public health. Dr Christoper Lee, Kuala Lumpur General Hospital's senior consultant physician of infectious disease shares this view saying that the potential risk of smallpox is real whereas the benefits claimed remain vague. "It would be disastrous for Malaysia, in the event of a smallpox outbreak," he said. "Most of us, especially the younger generation, are not vaccinated against the disease and we are exposed from all directions ï¿½ from the millions who travel, visit and seek employment here." Dr Lee, who also heads KLGH's Department of Medicine, says WHO must carefully weigh the pros and cons before deciding on the matter. "Public interest and health should be paramount." Director of Communicable Disease Control Division Datuk Dr Ramli Rahmat agrees, saying that the eradication of smallpox is an achievement everyone should treasure. "We cannot allow a situation where the world population is again exposed to this deadly virus." Many agree that Variola in its original form is deadly enough to be used a potent biological weapon and there is no need to tinker with it. If at all, the world is in danger from this former scourge, the VAC and its advisors should come clean. "If they want to genetically modify the smallpox virus for the genuine reason of finding an effective cure, it should be done under the strict scrutiny of the WHO," says the senior infectious disease expert. But then, if the recommendations are adopted can WHO ensure that the world remains free of smallpox Can it ensure that these labs would not create a even more lethal mutant of the Variola. Can it ensure that there are no leaks or accidents when samples are sent out in testing kits.
We approach the town on a long, straight road made of concrete sections. First sight of the settlement is a series of skeletal rooftops in the distance. For a strange moment it seems as if we are approaching a building site, but the rafters have been picked clean and stick up like the bare ribs of carcasses drying in the sun.
This had been a military town, built in 1954 to house a thousand people - research scientists and security personnel and their families - on an island in the Aral Sea. It was a secret base, known in authorised circles as Aralsk-7, not marked on any maps. This is because the Soviet Union was using the island for the open-air testing of biological weapons.
On the edge of town, we speed past a dump of rusting vehicles and other machinery with white stencilled cyrillic lettering still visible on some of the corroded flanks. The terrain here is uneven, a series of shallow craters. One of the hollows is full of discarded ammunition, the cases of shells and the ends of missiles poking out of the earth.
Abandoned in the early 1990s, after the collapse of the USSR, these are the forgotten remnants of the cold war. But not quite forgotten by all. Looters from the mainland, now part of independent Kazakhstan, make occasional trips to scavenge any useful scraps they can find in the desolate buildings. I had persuaded a group of these men to let me tag along.
Seclusion was key to the secret activities conducted in this out-of-the-way spot. Located 3,500km from Moscow, in the middle of a remote inland sea surrounded by sparsely populated desert deep in the heart of central Asia, the island was the perfect proving ground for a deadly array of airborne microbes. The name of this place, Vozrozhdeniye, appealed to me for its bitter irony. It means Rebirth Island.
The biological agents tested here included plague, anthrax and smallpox. These were the ones I'd heard of. The others had outlandish names - Q-fever, tularaemia, botulinum and Venezuelan equine encephalitis. Some had been genetically modified to make them resistant to existing medication.
The island had been chosen in part because of its geographical isolation. Fast patrol boats guarded Vozrozhdeniye against intruders throughout the decades of testing. The insular location also prevented the transmission of dangerous microorganisms to neighbouring mainland areas by animals or insects, and the surrounding stretches of water were considered wide enough to prevent biological agents being blown to the mainland.
Not any more. The waters of the Aral Sea have been receding for the past 50 years, sucked away by irrigation schemes. As its level has declined, the island has grown: in 1960 it was about 200 sq km; today Vozrozhdeniye is more than 10 times that size. In fact, it's now no longer an island. The Aral has shrunk so much that Vozrozhden iye is today connected by a land bridge to the southern coast, in Uzbekistan.
Authorities in both Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, which share the former island's territory, do not encourage visitors. Almost all of the agents responsible for the deadly diseases tested on Vozrozhdeniye are quickly destroyed when exposed to ultraviolet light. The island's sparse vegetation, hot desert climate, and sandy soil - which reaches summer temperatures of 60deg. C - all sharply reduce the possibility that pathogenic microorganisms can survive. The important exception is anthrax, a spore that outlives all the others. It can persist in soil for a very long time, and if any spores reach the lungs the chance of death is usually greater than 90%.
Britain harbours considerable expertise when it comes to anthrax, having conducted a few bioweapons tests on the Scottish island of Gruinard during the second world war. Gruinard remained uninhabited by government decree until 1988.
A US team visited Rebirth Island after September 11 2001, concerned that terrorists might find something useful, and ostensibly to clean it up. But nobody I spoke to before leaving for Kazakhstan knew exactly what the Americans had done. As one expert explained, it took more than 40 years to decontaminate Gruinard. "They pumped formaldehyde over the entire island. You have to kill every single spore, and they can live for centuries."
The US spending a mere few months on the Vozrozhdeniye clean-up wasn't good enough for him, so I was taking no chances. The looters looked me over with interest when I approached wearing a protective jumpsuit, rubberised overboots and a face mask. I proffered spare suits, brought along just in case, but there were no takers.
Weeds and straggling bushes line the concrete pathway past the chipped walls and broken windows of the derelict buildings. A battered road sign, the international one for children crossing, leans drunkenly as we pass what looks like a playground.
Doors hang limply from hinges, opening the way to interiors hacked to pieces by looters. In spite of the damage, the buildings still have the air of places that had been deserted in a hurry. Books lie open on the floors and pictures still hang on walls.
Down in the research zone, on a corridor in one of the laboratory buildings, rooms are full of electrical apparatus or equipped with work-benches and metal cages. One room contains a bed with the sheets still on. Above it a poster offers pictorial reminders of the importance of wearing all the necessary protective clothing. The sheets are rumpled, as if the occupant had risen one morning and forgotten to make his bed.
Back out in the sunshine, the gutted remains of a small building are still littered with petri dishes and glass test-tubes. It doesn't have a roof, and the rafters had been burnt but, scattered across the floor and in neat stacks along lines of metal shelving, most of the glassware is undamaged. There was no way of telling what foul concoctions they contained. So much for the clean-up operation.
Piled near a heap of test-tubes is a collection of wire contraptions. New weapons had been tested on horses, sheep and donkeys, but monkeys - our closest relatives - made the best subjects. These pieces of equipment look like their feeding trays.
Researchers at Rebirth Island used to joke that the condemned monkeys were the luckiest inhabitants of the Soviet Union because they lived on fresh fruit. Bananas, oranges and apples were rare delicacies for most human residents of the Soviet Union, but a test animal had to remain in prime condition right up to its last breath, usually taken strapped to a pole out in the killing fields just to the south of where we are. The cream of Soviet science, those who conducted the atmospheric trials, lived on hunks of bread and fatty sausage.
I stand still for a moment to listen. There are no sounds whatsoever. No birds, just an eerie silence. It is truly a deathly hush. Paradoxical for a place called Rebirth Island.
1. Britain to Give $30 Million for Nuclear Waste Facility in Northern Russia
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Britain has pledged 16 million pounds ($30.52 million) for the construction of a long-term container storage facility for spent nuclear fuel on the territory of Atomflot (Murmansk region), Jonathan Holloway, a naval attache at the British embassy in Russia, told Interfax.
Taking part in the project are Crown Agents company on the British side, and Murmansk Shipping Company and Atomflot federal state unitary enterprise on the Russian side.
The full contract for the construction of the facility's buildings with a total value of 4.6 million pounds ($8.78 million) is already signed at Atomflot. A contract for the supplies of non-standard equipment worth 2.6 million pounds ($4.96 million) was concluded earlier.
According to the project, the facility is to be commissioned in April 2006.
The construction of a nuclear waste storage facility in Murmansk is part of the Global Partnership program, which was approved at the G-8 summit in 2000, when the leaders of the world's most industrially developed nations agreed to set aside $20 billion for preventing the spread of nuclear fission materials, bolstering nuclear safety and solving ecological problems on the post-Soviet space.
Excerpted press conference with USA and Canada Studies Institute Director Sergei Rogov on Condoleezza Rice's visit to Russia
Q: How will you comment the now widespread rumors to the effect that a transfer of Russian strategic arms under international control may be in preparation? For instance, under US control. Is it a problem now and how may it evolve?
Rogov: I can give you a brief answer. Firstly, it's a raving of a mad person. The transfer of Russian nuclear potential under foreign control or American control is completely ruled out. This will not happen in any approach.
There are questions related to the continuance of the Nunn- Lugar program. There are questions related to securing safety of our nuclear storage facilities, and there are issues related to ecological catastrophes. While I was flying, I failed to understand what happened with the "Mayak". Everything is correct there or have there been some leakages? And what leakages are at issue, the old ones or the new? There are such questions.
At issue is quite big amounts of money. Take, for instance, the disposal of nuclear reactors of our submarines. If I am not mistaken, we have 59 nuclear subs in which the nuclear reactors have not even been unloaded. According to the Atomic Ministry, this amounts to 5-10 billion dollars. We are spending each year about 50- 100 million dollars on these activities. So far the larger part of these expenses was shouldered by the Americans and partly by Europe. Recently we signed with Japan an agreement on five written-off subs in the Far East. This involves a large amount of money. On our side the interest is that part of the financial load involved be shouldered by the United States, Europe, Japan and other countries bear part of this financial burden.
Unfortunately, we have quite consciously mixed up notions of ensuring safety of nuclear materials, nuclear warheads that have been decommissioned, other elements of the Soviet Union's nuclear infrastructure inherited by Russia, such as submarines. A total of 170 nuclear submarines have been decommissioned.
Rogov: I mean since 1991. The figure you have given, 220, includes those decommissioned since the end of the 1980s. That is, they are not parts of Russia's military power. They are things posing a threat to Russia's security. You certainly realize that nuclear reactors from which fuel has not been removed pose a real threat.
And the other thing is the Russian Federation's nuclear forces that are on combat duty. Unfortunately, in the past six months it has constantly been claimed that Russia would allegedly have to cede control of its nuclear weapons to the Americans. This has never been the case and this will never be the case.
Unfortunately, this has often been mixed up. I have often had to answer this question in detail because several months ago I read with great interest that I am the author of a secret agreement between Russia and the United States under which control of our nuclear potential would be handed over to America. This would actually mean that Sergei Ivanov and Vladimir Putin, who have allegedly signed this agreement either in Washington or in Bratislava, are unimportant figures acting as I have decided. I would say that this is a strange political game.
Naturally, the problem of security of nuclear arsenals is not only limited to decommissioned weapons. It also concerns weapons on combat duty. And several days ago our military attended an American exercise, for the first time ever, during which the Americans showed them the way they defend their nuclear facilities against terrorist attacks.
So, we will cooperate in this sphere. But no nuclear state has never given any other country control of its nuclear weapons, and this will never happen. This is true about Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, France, the United Kingdom and the United States. This can never happen.
1. Ukraine Joins 39-Nation Body to Fight Biological/Chemical Weapons
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Ukraine has joined an Australian-led international group working to prevent the spread of biological and chemical weapons, officials said on Friday.
The former Soviet republic, which has a large chemical manufacturing sector, became the 39th nation to join the so-called Australia Group, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer announced following the body's 20th anniversary meeting here.
The four-day meeting also agreed to expand its biological equipment control list to include aerosol sprayers that could be used by terrorists to spread deadly biological agents, Downer said in a statement.
Controls on pumps and genetically modified organisms were also revised to assist enforcement and the group agreed to examine adding up to 25 more biological agents to its common control lists, he said.
Participants also welcomed Israel's recent announcement that it would adhere to Australia Group guidelines, Downer added.
"Recognition of Australia Group control measures as an international benchmark has grown considerably over the past year," he said.
In opening the conference on Monday, Downer warned that terrorists in Asia and elsewhere were bent on using chemical and biological weapons.
"Chemical and biological weapons (CBW) present a real and deadly threat," he said.
"Terrorists, including in our region, are intent on developing CBW capabilities, while proliferators are using increasingly sophisticated means to source the ingredients for weapons of mass destruction."
1. UN Lauds Safety at Iran's Russian-Built Nuke Plant
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Tehran appears committed to safety at its Bushehr nuclear power plant, which a consortium of Russian companies is constructing in Iran, a senior nuclear safety expert at the U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Friday.
Russia has pressed ahead with the Bushehr project despite strong opposition from Washington, which believes Iran's nuclear energy programme is a cover for an atom bomb programme. Tehran denies wanting the bomb and says its atomic ambitions are limited to the peaceful generation of electricity.
"So far so good," Ken Brockman, director of nuclear installation safety at the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), told reporters when asked about Iran's commitment to safety standards at the 1,000-megawatt Bushehr reactor.
"I've seen many applications out there where the Iranians have identified construction that did not meet their quality standards and they've been very aggressive in going in and replacing it and making sure it does," he said.
Brockman said that the IAEA, in cooperation with the Russian government and regulatory authority, has been providing a wide range of technical assistance and expertise to Iran to ensure the plant is run safely when it goes on line in late 2006.
"It's a commercial nuclear power plant and that's the aspect in which we're providing this particular guidance and assistance to the Islamic republic of Iran," he said.
The United States and other countries say they fear Iran will want to reprocess the spent uranium fuel from Bushehr in an effort to extract bomb-grade plutonium. According to U.S. estimates, the Bushehr could yield enough plutonium for around 30 bombs a year.
To ease these fears, Moscow and Tehran signed a fuel supply deal in February under which Russia would provide fresh fuel and take it back after it is burned in the reactor.
In February, officials said fuel shipments to Bushehr may start as soon as this month. But this has been delayed until the autumn, a government source told Reuters in Moscow.
Iran, OPEC's second largest oil producer, has long denied charges it is secretly seeking nuclear weapons and has received strong backing from Moscow, which sees cooperation with Iran as a way to strengthen its role in the Middle East.
Once operational, Bushehr will generate 1,000 megawatts of electricity. Initiated before Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution and badly damaged during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, the project was later revived with Russian help and has cost about $1 billion. (Additional reporting by Maria Golovnina in Moscow)
Russia sees South Korea as an influential and responsible partner in various spheres of cooperation, including in the military-technological area, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said at a meeting with his South Korean counterpart, Yoon Kwang-woong.
According to Ivanov, bilateral relations in the military-technological sphere have developed rather briskly lately.
Russia, he said, unequivocally advocates a nuclear free status for the Korean peninsula. He added Russia had been proactive at the six-party talks on the matter.
"All countries, above all those that share a border with this potentially explosive region, are interested in it [nuclear free status]," said the minister.
Both ministers urged the resumption of six-party talks on North Korea, which were suspended over differences between Pyongyang and the U.S.
"I believe we must do everything possible to sit at the negotiation table," said Ivanov.
Yoon Kwang-woong, for his part, said Seoul was seeking to improve relations with Pyongyang as soon as possible.
"North Korea should sit to the negotiation table as soon as possible, which is important for the development and success of our relations. We must ensure the nuclear free status for the country by diplomatic means, through dialogue," he said.
(On February 10, North Korea announced it had developed nuclear weapons and would build up its nuclear arsenals should the U.S. continued its "belligerent policy.")
Russia and South Korea intend to maintain close cooperation producing newest hi tech weaponry intended, above all, for defense, according to Ivanov.
Ivanov added Russia's military cooperation with North Korea was less intensive than its military contacts with the South.
"Compared to military-technological cooperation with South Korea, Russia's contacts with North Korea are loads less intensive, which is largely due to the specific features of the countries' economies," said Ivanov.
However, Ivanov emphasized Russia was trying to maintain equal relations with different countries, particularly in that region that was obviously facing grave problems.
Ivanov said Moscow did not see why it should cancel the military exercise with China fixed for the second part of 2005.
"There is nothing unusual about joint Russian-Chinese exercises. We have conducted them with many other countries," said Ivanov. This is a rather unusual practice for China, but a conventional one for Russia, he added.
Ivanov recalled the exercise would take place on the Yellow Sea's coast in the second part of 2005. The two countries' air forces, navy units, and airborne troops will be engaged in the war game.
"Russia will not send a lot of personnel to take part in the exercise, but it will require a lot of military equipment, which is, by the way, the latest warfare trend in the world," said the minister.
2. Russia Urges NKorea to Return to Six-Party Talks - DM
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North Korea must return to the six-party talks as soon as possible, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said after negotiations with his visiting South Korean counterpart Yoon Kwang-ung.
ï¿½Russia is unequivocally for the nuclear status of the Korean Peninsula. We should do our utmost to secure North Koreaï¿½s return to the format of six-party talks. All countries, in the first place, those bordering on this conflict-risky region are interested in this,ï¿½ he said.
1. Russian Navy Seeking $72.1 Million To Lift K-159 sub From Barents Sea Floor
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The Russian Navy cannot launch the operation on lifting the K-159 nuclear sub from the bottom of the Barents Sea due to the lack of funding, Navy Commander-in-Chief Kuroyedov told Interfax-Military News Agency Friday.
"The whole operation will cost two billion rubles ($72.1 million), and we haven't found this money yet. As of now, I am ordered to stay within the limits of the budget, which means that I should take the money for the operation from the current budget of the Navy," Kuroyedov said.
According to him, if the issue of funding is settled in 2005, the sub will be raised from the sea bottom in late 2006. "If not, it will take the Navy two years simply to develop an infrastructure to lift the sub," he said.
There are plans to attract foreign investors, the commander-in-chief went on. "Foreigners will be involved, Germans primarily, and also those who took part in the operation of lifting the Kursk, for example, the Mammooth company from the Netherlands," he said.
Kuroyedov believes it is necessary to form a specialized foundation, either an insurance one, or any other type, to accumulate resources. "The foundation should include those ministries that deal with sea operations, i.e. those for which security at sea is important. The government simply must create conditions for that, and we will have a governmental authority to supervise rescue at sea and allocate money for such projects," he said.
The K-159 nuclear submarine that had been taken out of service with the Northern Fleet in 1989 drowned in the Barents Sea on August 30, 2003, while it was being towed to the Snezhnogorsk-based Nerpa plant for dismantling.
1. Chernobyl Disaster Rolled Development of Nuclear Power Industry 20 Years Back
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The disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant rolled the development of the nuclear power industry 20 years back, head of the Russian Federal Atomic Energy Agency (Rosatom) Alexander Rumyantsev told journalists in the run-up to the 19th anniversary of the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.
An accident - the biggest technogenic and radiation disaster of the 20th century - occurred at the 4th power-generating unit on April 26, 1986.
"Chernobyl is a blow at people's souls, at their attitude to the nuclear power industry," Rumyantsev said.
According to him, "people afraid to exploit (RBMKs) reactors, which were used at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant."
"Since a mass of people fears, we must do so that these reactors be modernized, and in the future we must not develop new types of uranium-graphite reactors if we want to develop a large-scale nuclear power industry in the world and in Russia," the Rosatom head went on to say.
He also noted that the attitude to the nuclear power industry in the world has been gradually changing for the better.
"Finland has two nuclear power plants one of which is a Russian project. An ambitious program for increasing the nuclear power capacities by times has been declared in China. India forms the development of a national nuclear power industry. In the USA there is reanimation after a long period of non-construction of the nuclear-power-generating units, and teams planning to start working to set up new nuclear-power-generating units are already being formed," Rumyantsev said.
According to him, France is a country of the highest nuclear culture and nuclear technologies.
"The world concept of development of the nuclear power industry is now based on high-capacity water-moderated reactors, on the development in the future of fast reactors through involvement of weapons-grade plutonium in the energy turnover," the Rosatom head stressed.
He noted that many countries have shown interest in the fast-reactor nuclear power industry and, may be, it is "precisely the road on which the power industry in the nuclear sphere must develop."
1. Interview with Egyptian Newspaper Al Ahram (excerpted)
Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation
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Q: Mr President, what is your view on the confrontation between the United States and Iran over Iranï¿½s nuclear programme?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Confrontation is always counter-productive. We think it is always best to look for a way to establish dialogue and cooperation. At the same time, I want to point out that we and the United States share very close views when it comes to non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. This also concerns our view that it would be unacceptable for our Iranian colleagues and partners to work on nuclear weapons programmes of any kind. We oppose the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. But, as I said, Russia thinks that these problems should be resolved through dialogue and with the assistance of international organisations such as the IAEA. This is why we are continuing to fulfil our obligations with regard to Iranï¿½s civilian nuclear programme, but on condition that the international organisations, and above all the IAEA, have access to all Iranï¿½s nuclear programmes and that Iran renounce all forms of development and production that could lead to the creation of a nuclear weapon.
The latest agreement signed between Russia and Iran on returning to Russia spent nuclear fuel from the power plant at Bushehr is aimed precisely at ensuring these conditions are met.
2. U.S. and Ukraine Governments Cooperate on Detecting Illicit Shipments of Nuclear Material
U.S. Department of Energy
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The United States and the Ukrainian governments announced today an effort to work together in the war on terror to detect illicit smuggling of nuclear and other radioactive material.
National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Administrator Linton F. Brooks and Colonel-General Lytvyn, chairman of the Administration of the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine, signed an agreement to install radiation detection equipment at key land borders, airports and seaports in Ukraine. This equipment is designed to detect, deter and interdict illicit movements of nuclear and other radioactive materials. Ukraine will be one of several countries to employ the detection systems provided under the NNSA Second Line of Defense Program (SLD).
"The United States and Ukraine recognize the need to work cooperatively to stem the threat posed by the trafficking of nuclear and other radioactive materials," said Brooks. "This agreement will enable our countries to further international nonproliferation efforts and better protect the citizens of Ukraine, the United States and other countries against nuclear terrorism."
Under the SLD Program, NNSA works with foreign partners to equip border crossings, airports, and seaports with radiation detection equipment and to provide training to appropriate law enforcement officials. The specialized radiation detection technology deployed under this program is based on technologies originally developed by NNSA laboratories as part of overall U.S. government efforts to guard against proliferation of weapons materials.
3. Interview with Israeli television Channel One (excerpted)
Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation
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Q: Now that we are talking about concerns, I cannot help but mention the fact that Russia helps Iran in creating its nuclear potential. How can you be certain, Mr President, that Iran ï¿½ a fundamentalist regime ï¿½ is not misusing this technology?
MR PUTIN: First of all I would like to say that Russia does not just help Iran to strengthen its nuclear potential. We work exclusively in the sphere of peaceful atomic power, in the economic energy sphere.
We conduct our work under the full control of international organisations, above all under the full control of MAGATE. To be certain that our partners are not using our cooperation for military goals, we secured appropriate amendments to be made in our agreements. According to these amendments, Russia has received the right to have back from Iran the nuclear fuel that has been processed at the nuclear power station in Bushehr.
And I can say that our position on the problem of nuclear non-proliferation is quite consistent and strict: we are categorically against the spread of nuclear weapons across the planet and are categorically against any nuclear weapons programmes of Iran.
We do not believe that Iran should feel that it is being infringed upon in its use of the modern achievements of science and technology. Iran is our neighbour, it is a big country, and to infringe upon on a country like Iran is counterproductive, and could lead to quite complicated and serious consequences. A country like Iran and the Iranian people must not be humiliated. But at the same time, we must be certain that their nuclear programmes are not directed towards creating nuclear weapons, and we will continue to insist that the Iranian side abandons the idea of creating systems of uranium enrichment, creating nuclear cycle technologies while ensuring their interests in the sphere of science and the economy.
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