1. Russia, France Call For Support of Convention on Nuclear Terror
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Russia and France have called for support of the new international convention on fighting nuclear terrorism in the framework of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Thursday.
Russia and France "have proposed adopting a declaration by the OSCE foreign ministers containing the political commitment of all 55 member states to sign a new counter terrorist convention the day it will be opened for signing - on September 14, 2005 in New York," the statement says. The two countries also called for the convention to be promptly ratified.
The international convention on nuclear terrorism was developed at Russia's initiative and approved by the UN General Assembly on April 13, 2005. Before it comes into effect, it must be ratified by 22 states.
2. Moldova: Radioactivity Control Tightened in Dniester Region
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The Dniester region's authorities have stepped up radiation control on the border in connection with Chisinau's accusations about an attempt to sell "dirty nuclear bombs" from the region to terrorists.
Officials of the self-proclaimed Dniester republic's customs service told reporters on Wednesday that special equipment for detecting sources of radioactivity had been installed on the border.
Tiraspol hopes that this will allow "clearing the region of the unfounded accusations on the part of Chisinau".
The Moldovan Prosecutor General's Office opened a criminal case last week to probe into the publication by the British newspaper The Sunday Times.
The newspaper's correspondent alleged that he had bargained in the Dniester region, posing as a potential buyer, for the sale to "Islamic terrorists" of Alazan rockets that are kept at storage facilities of Russian troops in the region.
The journalist said some of these rockets intended for tracking hail clouds by scientists had been fitted with warheads containing cesium-37 and strontium-90.
A spokesman at the headquarters of the operational group of Russian troops in the Dniester region told reporters that the "Alazan rockets intended for treatment of hail clouds are not kept in army depots".
The Dniester region's Security Minister Major-General Oleg Gudymo called the British newspaper's report a "canard that fits into the Moldova-arranged campaign of fouling the Dniester region and of the peacekeeping role of Russia and Ukraine".
The chief of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe's mission in Moldova, William Hill, also has questioned the publication of The Sunday Times.
He said its writers did not appear to have seen any of Alazan rockets or their warheads. Nor did they have Geiger meters for detecting radioactive substances, he said.
Rumours about the availability of such rockets in the Dniester region had been circulating for ten years. The OSCE mission and representatives of different countries have probed into them, but nobody has either confirmed or denied this information, Hill said.
3. Militant Wanted For Plotting Chemical Attack Killed in Grozny
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In Groznyï¿½s Oktyabrsky district FSB security service commandos have liquidated three militants, including one wanted for plotting a terrorist attack with the use of chemical warfare agents, Alash Daudov.
The spokesman for the regional counter-terrorist operation headquarters, Major-General Ilya Shaballkin has said the killed militant carried documents, passport and driving license issued in the name of one Mumad Aliyev, year of birth 1962. He also had instructions on how to plant and trigger explosive devices, as well as maps of Nazran, Grozny and Nalchik with circle marks around crucial facilities, such as railway stations and water reservoirs.
The identities of the two other militants are yet to be established.
Russia is prepared to reduce its strategic nuclear arsenal below 1,500 warheads, less than the level agreed to with the United States, but Moscow is concerned about nuclear threats on its border, two senior Russian officials said Monday.
Anatoly Antonov, director of the Foreign Ministry's department for security and disarmament, and Lt. Gen. Vladimir Verhovtsev, deputy director of the Defense Ministry's department of nuclear safety and security, stressed Moscow's commitment to nuclear disarmament ï¿½ provided that Russia's security is assured.
The May 2002 U.S.-Russia Treaty requiring each side to cut its deployed warheads by about two-thirds, to between 1,700 and 2,200 warheads by 2012, will be the focus of Moscow's efforts over the next decade, Verhovtsev said.
"We stand ready to take further constructive steps," he told a briefing on the sidelines of a U.N. conference to review the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, adding that Russia is "ready to reduce to 1,500 warheads or less."
But Antonov said Russia needs international peace and security and "a situation where there are no new nuclear threats on our border."
The United States and Russia are the only countries that have taken serious steps to limit their nuclear arsenals, he said.
"What about other countries that continue to work on nuclear weapons?" Antonov asked, voicing concern about missiles and weapons being developed on Russia's borders but refusing to identify any country by name. China is the main nuclear power on Russia's border, but North Korea also claims to have nuclear weapons and is suspected of preparing for a nuclear test.
At the opening of the treaty review conference earlier this month, Secretary-General Kofi Annan called on Washington and Moscow "to commit themselves ï¿½ irreversibly ï¿½ to further cuts in their arsenals, so that warheads number in the hundreds, not the thousands."
Under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, nations without nuclear weapons pledge not to pursue them, in exchange for a commitment by five nuclear states ï¿½ the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China ï¿½ to negotiate toward disarmament. The treaty guarantees countries that renounce nuclear weapons access to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
Some nuclear "have-nots" complain that the nuclear states are moving too slowly toward disarmament.
But Antonov said the environment for disarmament "depends on all of us," not just the United States and Russia. "We're telling our partners we can't close our eyes" to what's happening on Russia's borders and elsewhere in the world, he said.
Russia is against new states acquiring nuclear weapons and backs an early diplomatic solution to the North Korean threat, preferably through a resumption of six-party talks that have included Moscow, Antonov said. Russia also supports European-led talks to resolve questions about Iran's nuclear program and wants Tehran to provide clear assurances it is peaceful, he said.
The Russians presented a booklet outlining steps that Moscow has taken to cut its arsenal of nuclear warheads and intercontinental ballistic missiles, to eliminate intermediate- and short-range missiles, and to reduce tactical nuclear weapons.
It gave figures for all categories except tactical nuclear weapons, which Verhovtsev said had been reduced by 75 percent, though he couldn't provide numbers because of legislative restrictions.
The Russians were asked to explain why President Vladimir Putin has announced the development of a nuclear missile system unlike any now in existence if they are serious about reducing their nuclear arsenal.
"Developing doesn't mean possessing," Verhovtsev replied.
1. Russia Asks Switzerland to Hand Over Former Nuclear Chief Adamov
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The Russian Foreign Ministry has asked Switzerland to send Russiaï¿½s former atomic energy minister back home for prosecution and to reject demands to extradite him to the United States where the ex-official is wanted for gross embezzlement.
The Interfax news agency quoted the Foreign Ministryï¿½s statement as saying that Moscow finds it impermissible that the former head of the Russian Atomic Energy Agency Yevgeny Adamov could be extradited to the United States without Russiaï¿½s consent. ï¿½The Russian Foreign Ministry, in cooperation with other agencies and Russian institutions abroad, is taking comprehensive measures to secure Adamovï¿½s speedy return to Russia,ï¿½ the statement read.
The Associated Press agency quoted Adamovï¿½s lawyers as saying earlier on Wednesday that they had appealed in a Swiss criminal court against his detention on the basis that Switzerland violated his immunity as a former minister.
Adamov has been indicted by a U.S. federal grand jury in Pittsburgh on conspiracy to transfer stolen money and securities, conspiracy to defraud the United States, money laundering and tax evasion.
Russia had originally appeared to distance itself from Adamov, noting he was facing charges in connection with his commercial activities in the early 1990s prior to his appointment as Russian atomic energy minister.
Last week, an ultranationalist legislator suggested in parliament that if Russia is unable to get the former atomic energy minister returned home, he should be ï¿½eliminatedï¿½.
Russia's former nuclear energy minister will fight U.S. efforts to extradite him from Switzerland to face charges that he and his Monroeville business partner stole $9 million in nuclear safety money.
Yevgeny Adamov's lawyer, Lanny Breuer, made the announcement Tuesday, moments after co-defendant Mark Kaushansky, 53, of Monroeville, pleaded innocent during an arraignment before U.S. District Magistrate Judge Robert Mitchell.
Kaushansky's lawyer, Fred Thieman, said he fears Adamov's May 2 arrest in Bern, Switzerland could hinder the defense's ability to bring witnesses from Russia to testify on his client's behalf.
"The manner in which Dr. Adamov was arrested in Switzerland has been interpreted by many in Russia as an act of intimidation, and I'm certainly concerned about that," Thieman said.
The statements from the two lawyers came as the indictments of Kaushansky and Adamov continued to generate controversy in Russia. Two lawmakers in Russia's Duma last week pressed for Adamov's return to Russia because they fear he might hand over state nuclear secrets to the U.S. in exchange for leniency.
Sergei Abeltsev, a deputy in Russia's ultranationalist Liberal Democratic Party, told the Moscow Times Friday that if Adamov's return to Russia can't be secured, Russia's special services should be dispatched to "liquidate" the nuclear scientist.
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced last week that efforts were underway to return Adamov to Russia, but he did not elaborate.
Breuer, a former special counsel in the Clinton White House, said his client remains in custody in Switzerland and that he has filed papers on Adamov's behalf objecting to the extradition to the U.S.
"The man wants to come to United States as a free man with his head held high to fight these completely unfounded charges," Breuer said.
Adamov, 66, was Russia's nuclear energy minister from 1998 to 2001. He also is the former director of the Russian Research and Development Institute of Power Engineering, which had contracts to spend Western aid on nuclear plant safety projects in Russia.
A federal grand jury in Pittsburgh indicted Adamov and Kaushansky earlier this month, charging them with conspiracy to defraud the U.S., money laundering and income tax evasion. They are accused of stealing money intended for the institute by diverting it into personal and business accounts from 1993 to 2003. The men are partners in two businesses in Pittsburgh.
Adamov and Kaushansky are innocent, their lawyers contend, and had to invest the money to keep it safe from the Russian mob and other potential threats.
Mitchell announced yesterday that the case has been assigned to U.S. Senior District Judge Maurice Cohill Jr.
3. Interview: U.S., Russia Still Face Mutual Destruction Threat
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Helen Caldicott is an Australian physician who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985 and is the president of the Nuclear Policy Research Institute based in Washington. She spoke with UPI National Security Correspondent Martin Sieff.
Q. The New York Times reported Wednesday that the U.S. Air Force is seeking approval from President George W. Bush for new weapons to secure the United States from attack from space. As a prominent opponent to the militarization of space, what is your response to that news?
A. Everything that was predicted at our conference this week on the weaponization of space in Airlie, Virginia, is already coming true. It seems as if the Bush administration and the Air Force are going to go ahead with everything that was said at our conference on the weaponization of space that was most alarming. This issue was under the radar of public opinion for a long time, but it is now coming into view.
Russia and China have both said for some years that if the United States puts weapons into space they will super-saturate any and all U.S. anti-ballistic missile systems and space-based weapons by building thousands more nuclear weapons each to counter any U.S. missile-defense system.
Q. The United States is the dominant space-faring nation with more military satellites in orbit than every other nation combined. How difficult would it be to disrupt or destroy U.S. space-based systems?
A. Any nation. Military satellites are very vulnerable. As we learned at our conference the easiest way to paralyze the entire U.S. space satellite system in low Earth orbit is by detonating a nuclear weapon at that level above the Earth to produce radiation in the belt where the satellites orbit. The satellites built to function for 10 years will then all die a slow death over just a few weeks as they pass through the most irradiated areas.
And if you detonate a single nuclear weapon in the upper atmosphere you will produce an electric magnetic pulse, or EMP. One nuclear weapon detonated in near space would therefore melt down the entire electronic communications network of the United States.
This would of course ruin the U.S. economy and utterly disrupt society across the country. But it would have even more grave consequences. There are 103 nuclear power plants across the United States. They all rely on external electricity supply that powers their water-coolant systems. If these were all knocked out, you would run the risk of more than 100 Chernobyl-scale nuclear core meltdowns across the United States.
All the power plants have their own back-up generators, of course, but they would all need time crank up and too often their testing and maintenance has been neglected because they so seldom, if ever, have had to be used in the past, and some of them don't work when they're supposed to. Therefore there would indeed be a real risk of many Chernobyls all over the place. Thus a single EMP detonation in space aimed against U.S. military space-based assets could produce a truly cataclysmic outcome, and it would be very easy to do.
Q. Does the United States have any plans to put nuclear weapons or nuclear power systems into space?
A. There are also serious plans being discussed to make nuclear reactors that will function in space to eventually power U.S. space ships to other worlds in the Solar System. Already a new plutonium-producing nuclear facility is being set up in Idaho, and the plutonium nuclear fuel that is being produced there is not even the regular plyutonum-239 but the far more toxic plutonium-238.
There are discussions well under way to eventually make a nuclear spaceship called Prometheus that could get people out to planetary destinations like Mars far more quickly.
Q. The Cold War has been over for almost a decade and a half. How serious is the threat of mutually assured destruction between the United States and Russia today?
A. Russia still has 2,500 nuclear weapons and the United States has 5,000. There are only 240 major cities in the entire Northern Hemisphere. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has concluded that 40 nuclear weapons are targeted on New York City alone. There are probably 50 or 60 of them targeted on Washington, D.C. Every city and town in the United States is targeted with at least one H-bomb or thermonuclear weapon. And the Russians build really big H-bombs.
Q. But surely, the Russian radar tracking and space-based surveillance networks keep them informed that the United States is not contemplating any surprise attack upon them?
A. None of the Russian early-warning satellites work. Therefore the Russians are acutely worried that the United States doctrine of pre-emptive war is a real threat to them and it makes them very paranoid, because their satellites to provide them with better warning just do not work.
Most Americans do not realize that the Russian nuclear system is already on hair-trigger alert, and even worse, the Russian early-warning system is in a dangerous state of decay. (Veteran U.S. arms negotiator) Ambassador Thomas Graham has said that we are already in a white-knuckle situation over this. And Professor Steven Weinberg, who won the Nobel Prize for Physics, told our conference on Tuesday that the thing that scared him the most was that nobody else was scared, and they all ought to be.
Q. Have there been any near misses that ran the risk of triggering all-out nuclear war since the disintegration of the Soviet Union?
A. The United States and the world came far closer to total nuclear catastrophe in 1995 than anyone seems to remember or realize, even though it was documented and reported in The New York Times. Norway launched a missile near a U.S. Trident submarine deployment. The Kremlin had been notified in advance that the missile would be fired, but just forgot the warning. The Russian radar picked up the Norwegian launch and concluded that they were under attack from a U.S. strategic nuclear missile submarine.
For the first time in history, Russian President Boris Yeltsin opened the "football," the suitcase containing the Russian nuclear launch codes, and he had three minutes to decide whether to authorize an all-out Russian nuclear response. Only 10 seconds before the three minutes ran out, the Norwegian missile veered off course and this was reported to Yeltsin. There had even been a general at his elbow urging a full retaliatory strike. America was just 10 seconds from annihilation. This story was reported on the back page of the New York Times when it should have been on the front page.
Q. Was this a freak scenario that could never happen again?
A. This could certainly happen again. A retired senior Russian military officer said to me recently, "Helen, we're so worried we could blow you up by mistake." And there are other dire possibilities. The Russians have to deal with terrorists and extremists who could conceivably seize control of a missile-command center.
Q. What kind of priority should we therefore give reducing potential nuclear tensions between the United States and other nations, especially Russia?
A. This is the most urgent issue facing the human race. If America ever launched its 5,000 nuclear missiles and Russia its 2,500 nuclear missiles it would probably be enough to create a nuclear winter or "dark fall." So much dust, smoke, debris and burned carbon material would be thrown into the atmosphere that plants would be unable to carry out photosynthesis. Most species of life would slowly freeze to death in the dark.
Q. You paint a horrifying scenario. Why do we not see more discussion about this?
A. What alarms me most of all is that nobody is talking any more about all this. The new reports on Wednesday about the latest plans for space militarization will dangerously escalate tensions with Russia and China.
President Bush won re-election by running on what he called the moral issues like banning abortion and gay marriage. But the real moral issue for all people and all religions is whether creation itself will continue to survive, and the possibility that total catastrophe could happen is not low.
Q. Why are U.S., Russian and other leaders not grappling with this issue more seriously?
A. Each side refuses to share its secrets with the other. The thinking of everyone still appears to be in the pre-World War I mode. That was what Einstein warned against. He said the creation of nuclear weapons changed everything. Thus we drift towards the precipice. Indeed, I would say now we are galloping toward it.
4. Partner of Former Russian Nuclear Official Arraigned
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A Pennsylvania businessman on Tuesday pleaded innocent to charges that he conspired with Russia's former nuclear energy minister to steal more than $9 million in federal and private funds that were supposed to be used to clean up nuclear plants in Russia.
But attorneys for Mark Kaushansky, 53, of Monroeville, and his co-defendant, Yevgeny Adamov, 66, of Moscow, focused their comments on the international politics surrounding Adamov, who remains in Switzerland, where he was arrested earlier this month on a federal warrant out of Pittsburgh.
Adamov's attorney, Lanny Breuer, said he expects the Russian government to "weigh in" soon on Adamov's custody status.
"I think that we'll all know within the next day or so" what the Russians will do, Breuer said outside U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh Tuesday. "But anyone who's been following the remarkable press in Russia has a sense right now that it appears the Russian government is very upset with the fact that the United States decided to have Dr. Adamov arrested in Switzerland."
Last week, Sergei Abeltsev, a member of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, argued before the Russian parliament that Adamov should be "eliminated" if the government can't get the former atomic energy minister returned to Russia. Some Russians have voiced concern that Adamov could divulge state secrets if the U.S. investigation continues.
Kaushansky, who emigrated to the United States in 1979, was released on bond Tuesday after he was arraigned on charges including conspiracy to transfer stolen money and securities, conspiracy to defraud the United States, money laundering and tax evasion.
The indictment covers a time before, during and after Adamov's time in the Russian cabinet from March 1998 to March 2001.
U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan alleges that the men and others conspired to steal the money from the federal government and unidentified companies by moving it through U.S. corporations they set up.
The attorney representing Breuer and Kaushansky, former U.S. Attorney Fred Thieman of Pittsburgh, said the men didn't steal any money, but invested it in other countries to avoid financial turmoil after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.
Thieman said Kaushansky is concerned for Adamov's safety and that of other Russian witnesses he will rely on to build his defense.
"From Mr. Kaushansky's point of view, we're concerned about all the dealings, the government's method of proceeding against Dr. Adamov ... by arresting him in Switzerland," Thieman said. "Given that we're going to have a lot of Russian witnesses for our case, we're concerned about our ability to get Russian witnesses here."
Buchanan said the government did nothing to provoke concerns on the part of Russian officials or the defense attorneys.
"The Swiss government certainly followed the law by arresting (Adamov) pursuant to a properly issued arrest warrant," Buchanan said.
The charges against Adamov carry a penalty of up to 60 years in prison and $1.75 million in fines. Kaushansky faces up to 180 years in prison and $5 million in fines if convicted. Prosecutors also want Adamov, Kaushansky and their companies to forfeit any money held illegally.
5. Western Concern About Mari Said to be a Cover For Plans to Seize Russian Nukes
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Increasing international attention to and condemnation of human rights abuses in Mari El, a Finno-Ugric republic in Russia's middle Volga region, has infuriated Russian commentators, three of whom have suggested that this focus is part of a broader plot to destabilize Russia, overthrow Russian President Vladimir Putin, and seize control of Russia's nuclear weapons. On 12 May, the European Parliament unanimously passed a resolution denouncing the violation of human rights, media freedom, and democratic procedures in Mari El, and its members called on officials in both Moscow and the republican capital of Ioshkar-Ola to live up to their commitments to observe these rights. The resolution, advanced by representatives of the three independent Finno-Ugric countries -- Estonia, Finland, and Hungary -- comes on the heels of three other indications that the international community is beginning to turn its attention to what is taking place in Mari El that few outsiders have kept track of. First, earlier last week, members of the U.S. Congress sent a letter to Igor Nikitin, the president of the Russian Association of Christian Churches, expressing their "deep concern" about the actions of Russian police against Christian groups in the middle Volga (see http://www.portal-credo.ru/site/print.php?act=news&id=3334). Second, the Federal Union of European National Minorities, at its meeting in Budapest the week before, took up the issue of the mistreatment of the Mari and other ethnic groups in the middle Volga (http://www.mari.ee/rus/news/polit/2005/05/01.htm). At that meeting, Vladimir Kozlov, a Mari opposition leader, described the threats his people face. As a result of what Kozlov described as the "Mariphobic" policies of the current Russian leaders of Mari El, there are now no ethnic Maris in the Russian Federation Duma or Federation Council. And the number of ethnic Maris in the republic's bureaucracy has fallen from more than 30 percent in 2000 to only a handful now. Moreover, Russian officials there have cut back Mari language media and instruction in schools so that the linguistic future of that nation is in doubt. They have also sought to close down all independent media there and they have either sponsored attacks or looked the other way when independent journalists -- including Kozlov -- have been beaten or even killed. Third, these developments have occurred as politicians, analysts, and human rights activists from around the world continue to add their signatures to a Finnish-prepared appeal on behalf of the Mari people. That document, posted on the web at the end of February, has been signed by almost 10,000 people from some 60 countries (http://www.ugri.info/mari/). Not surprisingly, Russian officials in Mari El -- who like most regional leaders there have been used to being able to operate almost completely out of the public eye ï¿½ have denounced these statements as the invention of what they say are a small group of malcontents who do not reflect the views of the Mari El people. But neither these officials nor Moscow writers are able to continue to maintain that stance given the outside criticism. And, at the end of last week, three commentaries on a Russian nationalist website offer some disturbing analyses of just why some in Moscow believe that the West is now devoting so much attention to a Mari issue so far way. In the first of these articles, Aleksandr Yeliseyev argued that the vote in the European Parliament must serve as a wake up call for Russians about the West's intentions (http://www.rustrana.ru/article.php?nid=9066). And he suggests that following Poland, Estonia, Finland, and Hungary have decided to use European institutions to weaken Russia. Consequently, Yeliseyev said, everyone must recognize that the Mari people are not really responsible for what is happening: their supporters from abroad are. But, at the same time, he insists that the Kremlin already understands "the entire seriousness of the Finno-Ugric factor" in Russian politics. Indeed, Yeliseyev said, this understanding lies behind ongoing efforts to unite Komi-Permyak Autonomous Oblast with the ethnically Russian Perm Oblast and plans to fold the republics of Mari El and Chuvashia into Kirov Oblast. The question Yeliseyev ended with is the following: will such administrative measures be enough? As he has in other articles, Yeliseyev answered in the negative, arguing that the Mari El issue and the involvement of Europeans in it reflects "a crisis of Russian statehood" which he says is just as clearly in evidence in foreign as in domestic affairs. In the second article, Andrei Smirnov, who writes frequently on geopolitical topics for a variety of Russian nationalist websites, argued that the West's current obsession with the Mari reflects the coming together of two trends (http://www.rustrana.ru/print.php?nid=9072). On the one hand, he said, "the time of giants has passed, and the epoch of minorities -- sexual, intellectual, and national ï¿½ has arrived." Consequently, he continued, it should come as no surprise that people around the world are devoting far more attention to the Mari than their numbers -- approximately 670,000 -- would appear to justify. And on the other, the West in general and the Finno-Ugric countries in particular have decided to exploit the unhappiness of a numerically small people against a large one -- in this case, the Russians -- for their own purposes, he wrote. The small people, of course, are not in a position to defeat the large one on its own, but together with other small peoples, especially if they are backed by stronger outside elements, that "small" people can repeatedly "attack [the large one] from various sides and not let it live in peace," he concluded. The Russian Federation, Smirnov added, is "not in a position to support" the cultural institutions of minority nationalities in the way that the Soviet government did, and it should not apologize for that fact, especially since these minorities "for some reason or another have not assumed a proportional part of Soviet-era debts." Instead, he suggested, Moscow should take the offensive on this issue, pointing out to the world that many Estonians, Finns, and Hungarians fought on the side of Adolf Hitler during World War II and that the policies of these three states both then and more recently have left much to be desired. And, at the same time, Smirnov concluded, the Russian authorities must move quickly against any manifestation of separatism by these groups lest it grow into what Smirnov called "a catastrophe" for the Russian Federation similar to what the end of the Soviet Union represented for everyone involved. The third Moscow analyst, Sergei Pakhmutov, argued that those in both Moscow and the West who are now paying attention to Mari El and trumpeting their support for the cause of the Mari people in fact have far broader and more sinister motives (http://www.rustrana.ru/print.php?nid=9065). According to Pakhmutov, antigovernment" figures in Russia itself -- including Irina Khakamada, Vladimir Ryzhkov, Garri Kasparov, and "other odious politicians of the left-liberal direction," hope to launch Ukrainian or Kyrgyz-style uprisings in Russian regions like Mari El in order to trigger a countrywide explosion that would help them oust President Putin. But he wrote that those standing behind them, the Finno-Ugric countries in the first instance and the European and American "special services" as well, are playing the key roles in this effort of promoting "an Orange-style revolution" in a republic which, until recently, few had ever heard of. The reasons for that, Pakhmutov continued, should be obvious, and they have nothing to do with human rights, media freedom, or democracy. Instead, they are about control of Russia's most fearsome weapons. Mari El hosts several of the Russian Federation's most important weapons factories. In addition, he noted that the middle Volga republic is the home of a strategic rocket forces facility where advanced RS-12M missiles are based and also arms dumps which contain many of the Russian Navy's most advanced torpedo and artillery weapons systems. Even if many Russians are not aware of that, Pakhmutov said, Russia's "internal and external enemies" are. And so, working together, these enemies hope either to bring to power a new regime in Mari El that will be less interested in defending Russia's military interests or to destabilize the situation to the point that the international community might decide that UN "blue helmets" would have to be introduced. If that were to occur, Pakhmutov said, it would transfer effective control over a significant part of Russia's nuclear arsenal to the United States. Of course, Pakhmutov concluded, none of this is inevitable. But neither is it impossible, and he urged that the Russian government be sensitive to what he argued is the fact that the West and its allies in Russia frequently pursue geopolitical goals under the banner of protection for the human rights of ethnic minorities. Yeliseyev, Smirnov, and Pakhmutov, of course, do not speak for the Russian government as a whole, and their arguments likely would be dismissed by many in Moscow as extreme and hyperbolic. But no one should ignore what they say, however farfetched and even paranoid their words may be. Indeed, if one ignores some of their more baroque comments, the arguments of the three parallel those of Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and FSB Director Nikolai Patrushev, have advanced in recent days and suggest that many in Moscow back an even harder line against non-Russian groups in the Russian Federation and their supporters abroad. To the extent that proves to be the case, it will entail far-reaching and potentially explosive consequences not only for the Mari people, other non-Russian groups, and those both in Moscow and the West who are concerned about their fates but also for the future of the Russian Federation as a whole.
1. Russia Won't Support Nuclear N. Korea, Says Russia Envoy to China
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Russia would not support a nuclear North Korea and none of Pyongyang's neighbors will, outgoing Russian Ambassador to China Igor Rogachev said Thursday.
Asked whether Russia would be able to live with a nuclear North Korea, Rogachev said, "No, never."
Neither Russia nor China, nor "any other neighboring country" wants to see a nuclear North Korea, the ambassador said.
Such a development would be "very, very dangerous," he said, adding, that is "very clear for everybody."
Rogachev made the comments at a time when worries are rising over the possibility that North Korea may carry out a nuclear test.
Rogachev also said that "pressure is not very good" in trying to bring North Korea back to the six-way talks on its nuclear ambitions.
A more effective way would be to try to persuade the country through discussions, he said.
The six-party talks have been stalled for almost a year. A fourth round of talks scheduled for September failed to take place, with North Korea refusing to attend, citing a "hostile" attitude by the United States.
The six parties involved in the talks are China, Japan, the two Koreas, Russia and the United States.
Rogachev, who served as Russian ambassador to China for 13 years, is to return to Moscow on Saturday.
1. Russia: Cuts, Rundown Defense Complex Seen Depleting Nuclear Arsenals
Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye
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The nuclear umbrella extended over Russia and its allies is currently provided by the strategic nuclear forces of the RVSN (Strategic Missile Troops), the VVS (Air Force), and the VMF (Navy). In terms of significance the largest grouping of nuclear forces numbering 496 intercontinental ballistic missiles of different classes belongs to the Strategic Missile Troops. In all, two-thirds of all Russian nuclear delivery vehicles and warheads (boyezaryad) are concentrated with these troops. The heightened role of the Russian land-based grouping is defined not only by quantitative parameters, however, but also by qualitative characteristics such as the high combat readiness and survivability of the missile complexes, and the stability of their tactical control in conditions of military actions. And -- as Colonel-General Nikolay Solovtsov, commander of the Strategic Missile Troops, stated 5 May on the threshold of Victory Day --it is this most important part of the Russian nuclear umbrella that is to be substantially reduced. "We will be cutting one to two missile divisions a year over the next five years," the missile commander remarked.
The reason for this nuclear missile disarmament, as Col.-Gen. Nikolay Solovtsov pointed out, lies primarily in the need for our country to fulfill previously sign edinternational agreements on strategic offensive armaments. In line with these treaties, by 2012 Russia's nuclear arsenals are to contain 1,700-2,200 nuclear warheads (boyegolovka). "Today," the Strategic Missile Troops commander announced, "we have around 6,000 of them." So our nuclear magazines are being depleted at an accelerated rate. The Kostroma Division of rail-mobile missile systems (BZhRK) armed with Molodets missiles and the Kartaly Division armed with silo-based liquid-propellant Voyevoda heavy missiles in Chelyabinsk Oblast are to be removed from the effective combat strength in2006.
Aside from Russia's fulfillment of international commitments, however, our nuclear armaments areal so being cut for reasons of age. In that same division in Kartaly the10-year service life set by the manufacturing plant in Ukraine has already expired. The same applies to the Molodets missiles of the rail-mobile missile systems from the 10th Division in Kostroma, which have a 15-year service life. The Strategic Missile Troops commander, however, makes a highly optimistic evaluation of the troops' outdated armament. In his assessment, the liquid-propellant Voyevoda heavy missiles will remain on alert duty until2014-2016. While the more modern missiles of this type, the RS-20 -- which in the West has for some reason been given the classification designation Satan --can be modified by Russia's defense complex and can serve for up to another 30years. Evidently, this is one of the appropriate Russian responses to the US deployment of a national missile defense. Furthermore, if necessary the Ukrainian Voyevoda, and the Western-designated Satan, as Nikolay Solovtsov pointed out, can perfectly well be produced at Russian defense enterprises. The Strategic Missile Troops commander, however, looking back to the international commitments previously assumed by Russia, pointed out that this will scarcely be necessary.
The point is that from 2006 the troops will start acquiring the Topol-M road-mobile complex (PGRK). There is nothing like it in the world. Nor do prospective missile defense systems hold any fears for our road-mobile complex. The three Topol engines enable it to accelerate faster than all existing types of intercontinental ballistic missiles. This factor enables it to evade missile defense detection systems at the boost phase of flight. The Topol-M will gradually replace on alert duty the Molodets rail-based missile and the silo-based Voyevoda heavy missile.
But will the rearmament of our missile troops proceed in accordance with Col.-Gen. Solovtsov's plan? Here everything no longer depends only on the defense budget. Money has become available in our country for national defense. For some reasons, however, the situation in the Russian defense industry complex is not improving. Back on 15 February the speaker of the Russian Federation State Duma, Boris Gryzlov, along with the Russian Federation president's adviser on the OPK (defense industry complex), Aleksandr Burutyn, and the leader of the Duma Committee for Defense, Mikhail Zavarzin, visited the Moscow Thermotechnical Institute, which is the one creating the latest ballistic missiles for Russia's strategic nuclear shield. Eyewitnesses to this event have told that the high-level politicians and state officials were struck by the very complex situation at an enterprise of so much importance to our national defense.
Just such a situation exists, however, at other plants and scientific centers of the Russian defense missile sector of the economy. All the programs of recent years and the measures taken by the Russian Federation Government to promote economic recovery in Russia's defense industry complex have produced little. The members of the Duma, for their part, held a special closed meeting 10 March to examine the state of affairs in the Russian defense industry complex. They have reported their conclusions to the state's leadership. But the state of affairs in the defense industry complex, which has been systematically destroyed these last 15 years, can scarcely be altered swiftly. Given stable funding, specialists have estimated 15-20 years as the time needed to revive our defense sector. So the missile divisions earmarked to be cut will hardly be able to observe on alert duty the individual state-of-the-art Topol-M complexes turned out by the plant workshops. The current accelerated cuts in Strategic Missile Troops divisions resemble more of a unilateral sequestration of Russia's nuclear magazines than any systematic rearmament.
Nuclear scientists of Russia and Vietnam have agreed upon boosting a cooperation program. The ensuring of safe and efficient service, modernization of the research reactor in Dalat in 2005-2006 is the key theme of cooperation.
This is said in the protocol of the second session of the Russian-Vietnamese coordinating council for atomic energy, which finished in Hanoi today.
The protocol was signed by Vladimir Generalov, chief of the nuclear facilities construction board at the Russian Atomic Energy Agency, and Vuong Huu Tan, chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission of Vietnam.
Alongside Dalat, the sides are ready to realize and consider other projects. Among them is updating the irradiating unit in Hanoi, Russian shipments of radio nuclide sources for this unit and other Vietnamese medical and industrial centers, geological survey and the development of uranium fields in Vietnam.
An updated Russian project for the AES-92 nuclear power plant with VVER-1000 power units, several Russian enterprises and organizations such as the TVEL corporation, ZAO Atomstroiexport, Atomenergo institute of the Federal Atomic Energy Agency, Safety (Bezopasnost) association were presented at the session.
The Russian side voiced interest and confirmed readiness for realizing the nuclear power project in Vietnam, including participation in selecting a site for the project, feasibility study, designing and construction work, service and the training of personnel.
In the estimate of the Vietnamese National Nuclear Energy Institute, the start-up of the nuclear power station, ensuring 13 to 18 percent of the national electricity generation, before 2020 would meet the national demand for power. Before 2020 it will be between 2,000 and 4,000 megawatts.
The question of building the nuclear power plant in Vietnam has not yet been finalized. Vietnam is also going to announce an international tender for the project. Russian and foreign competitors have voiced interest in the tender.
1. Sweden Allocates $30 Million for Russia's Nuclear Waste Recycling
(for personal use only)
Sweden will help Russia in the utilization of liquid nuclear waste on the Kola Peninsula.
Sweden will allocate $30 million for this project, the SevRAO nuclear waste management facility told Interfax.
A group of inspectors from the donor countries - Sweden, Great Britain and Norway - is currently visiting the Murmansk region. On Wednesday, they visited the Kola Peninsula's major nuclear waste storage on Guba Andreyeva, where the international project is underway. The inspectors said they were satisfied with the speed of its implementation.
1. Excessive Drinking is Killing Russia's People and Its Future, Experts Say
Mark McDonald, Knight Ridder Newspapers
(for personal use only)
His eyes are a bright and piercing blue, the same color as the jugs of Icicle-brand window cleaner he used to drink because it was twice as strong as vodka but five times cheaper.
Gennadi Shegurov, 45 years old and five years sober, isn't sure how he survived his 20 years of drinking Icicle, along with untold quantities of antifreeze, beer, homemade vodka, brown bread soaked in shoe polish, industrial solvents, a rose-water cologne called Flight and a popular perfume called Triple.
"I drank like other people breathe," said Shegurov, who was a prize-winning mathematician in college. "I had to look at newspapers to see what season it was. One time, the police stopped me and it took me half an hour to remember my name."
By rights and statistics, Shegurov should be dead, another victim of a national addiction to alcohol that's led doctors and government officials to worry that Russia - its current health and future population - is circling the drain.
Some 85 percent of Russian men drink regularly - they outnumber female drinkers by 5 to 1 - and on average they knock back a fifth of vodka every other day. And that doesn't include the Russian intake of beer, wine and liqueur.
Drinking began to rise dramatically in the Soviet Union about 50 years ago, according to Dr. Alexander Nemtsov, one of Russia's leading experts on alcoholism and the head of the psychiatric research department at the Russian Ministry of Health.
Per capita consumption in 1950 was the equivalent of 0.8 gallons of pure alcohol per year. By 1985 it had soared to 3.75 gallons per person. In recent years it's climbed again, to 4 gallons per person, an all-time high for modern Russia.
The average Russian man, in large part due to alcohol abuse, won't make it to his 59th birthday. Government figures show that an estimated 51,000 Russians died of alcohol poisoning last year, compared with more than 300 in the United States, which has twice the population of Russia, in the late 1990s. Not surprisingly, alcohol poisoning has its own category in the government's cause-of-death charts.
A startling 34 percent of all deaths in Russia over the last decade - from murders and heart attacks to suicides and traffic accidents - were related to alcohol, said Nemtsov. The comparable figure for the United States in 1996 was 3.2 percent, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
"Drinking is how we live," he said. "And now it's also how we die."
Nemtsov's statistical studies show direct correlations between drinking and mortality - with sharp spikes in the mid-1980s as the Soviet Union began to fray, in the mid-1990s as inflation and economic uncertainty went haywire, and then again starting in 2001.
The Russian statistics bureau Goskomstat, the National Security Council and the United Nations all project a sharp decline in Russia's population. The United Nations says the population, now just over 144 million, will fall to 112 million by mid-century.
Dr. Alexey Magalif, a prominent Moscow psychiatrist whose private clinic specializes in the treatment of alcoholism and depression, thinks Russian society has "very deep psychological problems in the wake of the breakup of the Soviet Union. ... And yes," he adds, "I'd use the word crisis."
"Drunkenness is a slow suicide," Magalif said. "People are disillusioned and they feel they have no future. They feel abandoned by the state. They turn themselves off - and turn to drinking."
The National Security Council worries that there won't be enough citizens capable of serving in the military, patrolling the country's far-flung borders and guarding its nuclear arsenal.
The drag on the economy will be ferocious, too, as Russia loses startling numbers of able-bodied workers and consumers - an immediate decline of a half million by 2008 is projected, according to trade and development minister German Gref.
Mikhail Gorbachev had similar fears 20 years ago.
On May 16, 1985, the new Soviet leader signed a decree restricting the sale and consumption of alcohol.
At first, Gorbachev's prohibition was a resounding public-health success. Industrial production went up, accidents declined and the divorce rate dropped. Nemtsov estimates that 1.2 million lives were saved.
But the measure was as unpopular and unworkable as it was radical and high-minded, and in no time, Russians were making their own vodka, buying impure bootleg vodka called samogon or stealing (and drinking) raw industrial spirits.
Gorbachev's anti-alcohol campaign evaporated.
"Beer alcoholism" is part of the resurgence in drinking, and beers with 9 percent alcohol have begun to appear on supermarket shelves.
Public drunkenness is especially noticeable among preteens and teenagers, who have been targeted by a wave of advertisements suggesting that beer is safer than vodka and no more intoxicating than soda.
"I'm 60 years old and I find these ads influencing even me," said Dr. Sergei Litvintsev, a psychiatrist who specializes in addiction and heads the National Scientific Center for Narcology. "These ads are very aggressive. And dangerous."
Russian beer-makers recently pulled some of their kid-friendly TV commercials and billboards that featured animals and cartoon characters, but the powerful beer lobby managed to defeat a measure that would have banned public drinking.
"Our biggest beer producers seem to spend as much time at the Duma (Russia's parliament) as they do at their own factories," said Alexander Chuyev, a Duma member who called beer alcoholism "a terrible new crisis."
A Russian proverb says that drinking beer without vodka is like throwing your money away, and the increase in beer drinking since 2002 hasn't produced a corresponding decrease in vodka consumption.
Vodka remains central to Russia's cultural life, its social traditions and, perhaps, its doom.
Vodka's almost religious importance to Russia can hardly be overstated. Vodka accounts for 73 percent of the alcohol consumed in Russia, compared with beer (17 percent) and wines, cognacs and liqueurs (10 percent).
Vodka - literally, "little water" - has been part of the national fabric since it was developed here in the 15th century. Dmitri Mendeleyev, the Russian chemist who developed the Periodic Table of the Elements, perfected the method for distilling vodka in 1865.
Soviet dictator Josef Stalin often forced his underlings to drink at parties until they vomited; mothers still use vodka-soaked tissues to soothe childhood fevers, and Russian soldiers proudly receive their medals in tumblers of vodka that they drink in one gulp.
Doctors and public health experts are almost unanimous in their frustration at the government's inability to stem the tide of alcohol. Requests for interviews with senior officials at the Ministry of Health went unanswered.
"The trouble is, nothing is being done," said Nemtsov, who works for the health ministry. "Millions of personal tragedies have not coalesced into a public sentiment against alcohol. Heavy drinking is part of our daily life, and this sustains the official indifference to the problem."
Nemtsov was aghast that President Vladimir Putin listed 147 priorities for his second term, but "alcohol was not even mentioned."
Gennadi Shegurov credits Alcoholics Anonymous and a vision of God for getting him sober, and he uses his personal horrors to counsel other alcoholics at a Salvation Army center in downtown St. Petersburg.
He and his buddies drank "all day, every day." The six men with whom he shared a vacant attic have all died from drinking.
Russia's tolerance for drunken behavior doesn't help, he said.
"When I had my own apartment, I went on a binge and couldn't get my key in the door, so I spent three days sleeping in the hall in front of the door," Shegurov said. "My neighbors were very kind and understanding. They said, `Oh, that could happen to anybody.'
"But after 10 days of me sleeping there in the hallway, they said, `Oh, he's a drunk.'"
Disarmament and Arms Control Minister Marian Hobbs is delighted that New Zealand has committed more than $3 million over the next four years to the G8 Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction (WMD).
"This contribution underscores New Zealand's practical commitment to disarmament and to the fight against WMD proliferation," Marian Hobbs said. "The projects being carried out under this G8 programme will help to make a safer world for everyone."
Leaders of the G8 economies (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, Britain and the United States) launched the Global Partnership in 2002 against the backdrop of the 11 September terrorist attacks and concerns about unsecured nuclear, chemical and biological weapons legacies in the former Soviet Union.
Projects include securing and disposing of nuclear material, the destruction of chemical weapons stocks, and dismantling decommissioned nuclear submarines.
"This funding will build on the contribution of $1.2 million New Zealand made to the G8 Global Partnership last year, towards funding the chemical weapons destruction project in Shchuch'ye, Russia," Marian Hobbs said.
"The next step for us will be to work with G8 partners to identify further suitable projects for New Zealand funds.
"G8 partners welcomed New Zealand's contribution to the chemical weapons destruction project in Russia. We want to look for similar opportunities for New Zealand to make a practical contribution."
2. Comments by the Foreign Ministry on Measures Taken by the Russian Side Aimed at bringing Yevgeny Adamov Back into the Russian Federation
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
(for personal use only)
Question: What measures has the Russian side taken to bring Yevgeny Adamov back into the Russian Federation?
Answer: Russia's Foreign Ministry, in collaboration with other agencies and Russia's institutions abroad, has taken a whole range of measures aimed at Yevgeny Adamov's early return to Russia. Using diplomatic channels, we have conveyed to the Swiss side our serious concerns in connection with Adamov's detention during which, in our opinion, they failed to observe a whole range of norms of the international law. We have also insisted that Adamov's extradition to the United States without Russia's prior consent would be inadmissible. We proceed from the assumption that criminal action against the former minister, Russia's former Cabinet member, on a foreign country's territory and his extradition with the same purpose to a third country infringes upon Russia's national security interests. We would like to note that, anyway, certain activities in connection with which charges have been brought against Adamov might have been related to the period of his activities as minister. According to the norms of international law, immunity against foreign criminal jurisdiction shall apply to such activities, ruling out the possibility of criminal action against Adamov in a foreign country without relevant Russian agencies' consent.
We believe that in the event that there are grounds for criminal action against Adamov, it shall be taken in the Russian Federation and in line with the Russian law. We are ready for cooperation on the issue with law enforcement agencies of other countries.
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