1. Russia to Meet Chemical Weapons Destruction Targets If Funding Allows
BBC Monitoring and Itar-Tass
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In keeping with the obligations the country has undertaken and with international conventions, Russia is capable of destroying 8,000 tonnes of chemical weapons by 2007. That is, if funding for the targeted federal programme to destroy chemical weapons stocks is provided in full, the head of the Industry and Energy Ministry, Viktor Khristenko, told a sitting of the Cabinet of Ministers today.
He said the Russian programme is fully in line with international requirements and has been agreed with all departments. He said that additional allocations of around R4bn a year are required to fund it in full.
[Khristenko's deputy, Vitaliy Savelyev was quoted by ITAR-TASS, Moscow, in Russian 0707 gmt on 23 June 2005 as saying that next year it would be possible to allocate R8.9bn whereas R18bn were needed.]
After two years of negotiations, the United States and Russia are close to an agreement on how to dispose of 68 tons of weapons-grade plutonium now stored in Russia. The fear is the nuclear fuel could find its way into the hands of terrorists who could use it in a deadly and fearsome way if it was smuggled out of the country.
Itï¿½s hoped an agreement to secure the plutonium will by signed by President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin during the July G-8 meeting of industrialized countries.
The delay had been over reaching an agreement for liability if there was an accident with the fuel, as U.S. contractors want protection from liability at the disposal facilities they would construct.
With a compromise plan now on the table for liability, the program looks ready to move forward.
Thatï¿½s good news, as the specter of nuclear material available in a potentially unsecured way is frightening.
1. The IAEA is Checking Reports on Missing Radioactive Materials in Abkhazia
Defense and Security/Vremya Novostei
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The IAEA is checking the reports that appeared in Georgia that radioactive materials that might be used in dirty bombs allegedly disappeared in Abkhazia, the republic denied recognition by the international community. A team of IAEA experts under Kendzu Murakami of the Department of Guarantees is currently in Tbilisi.
The IAEA's interest is focused on the Sukhumi Physical-Technical Institute established in 1945, once a classified Soviet establishment. Unstable isotopes were produced there. Its storage facility contained 244 names of radioactive substances and 655 grams of enriched uranium. All specialists left Sukhumi for Tbilisi (where they are still working) in the wake of the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict in 1992 - 1993.
Institute Director Anatoly Markolija says that "all radioactive materials we have are stored properly, the fact a commission of the IAEA saw with its own eyes in 2002. Nothing changed in the last three years. There are no dangers either. Radiation background on the territory of the Institute and throughout Abkhazia is normal." According to Markolija, Georgian newspapers deliberately released the false information in time for the tourist season in Abkhazia to instill fear and tension. As for reception of IAEA experts in Sukhumi, Abkhazia is prepared to receive them anytime.
Georgia signed the Additional Protocol of the convent "On nonproliferation of nuclear weapons" in 2005, the fact that enables the IAEA to send its emissaries and inspectors to the country without prior warning. Georgian secret services confiscated a sum total of 4 kilograms of uranium traveling via Georgia en route elsewhere in the last five years.
Colonel-General Igor Valynkin, chief of the 12th Main Directorate of the Defense Ministry (responsible for Russian nuclear arsenals), made a sensational statement. He said that two attempts to penetrate nuclear weapons arsenals had been thwarted recently. "These were not organized terrorist attacks," Valynkin said. "There were two individual penetration attempts which were thwarted by guards and mobile units."
Valynkin did not say which facilities were involved. He merely said that both incidents had occurred in 2002. As a matter of fact, these two incidents were already mentioned in the CIA's annual report to the US Congress this February - and also with references to Valynkin. The report stated as well that Russian secret services were aware of the interest two Chechen gangs were taking in nuclear munitions transportation. Criminals tried to obtain information on the special train used to ferry nuclear munitions at several major railroad stations near Moscow.
An informed source in the Defense Ministry explains that the attempts in question were undertaken by the Chechens living in the Saratov region, the region where the army has some nuclear munitions storage facilities. The Chechens tried to compile information on security systems and were taken in by the Federal Security Service.
Valynkin's words are particularly ominous when viewed against the background of the accords presidents Vladimir Putin and George W. Bush made in Bratislava. The accords essentially permit foreign controllers (first and foremost, American) access to Russian nuclear facilities. Putin and Bush signed an agreement on establishment of a bilateral group for nuclear security on February 24.
The accords caused a public outcry in Russia but the whole subject of American control over Russian nuclear arsenals eventually faded from the focus of attention. Valynkin's statement yesterday brought it back into the center of public opinion again. First and foremost, because statements like that made by a senior officer of the Defense Ministry look like a reminder to the Americans - unless there is a valid reason to make them. Like a message, something to the effect everything is all right for the time being ("We have nuclear weapons absolutely safe," Valynkin said), but let's do without delays about the promised cooperation, shall we?
There is a simple explanation of the eagerness to enlist the Americans' services in control over Russian nuclear facilities. First and foremost, the matter concerns finances. Shortage of funds is the worst problem of Russian nuclear weapons storage facilities. The United States has financed security of Russian facilities with fission materials in them within the framework of Nunn-Lugar Program since 1995. Alexei Arbatov, Director of the Center of International Security of the Russian Academy of Sciences and Member of Scientific Council of the Moscow Carnegie Center, says that $6 billion were provided in the 1990's within the framework of Nunn-Lugar Program and $20 billion within the framework of Global Partnership Program, the one stipulating foreign control over facilities of the national nuclear complex.
Washington specialists say that it will take dozens of years yet to outfit all Russian nuclear facilities with modern security systems at this rate. The US authorities are prepared to up aid - in the form of technical systems, not finances. It is these problems that the bilateral group set up in Bratislava will discuss. To quote General Vladimir Dvorkin, former chief of the 4th Research Institute of the Defense Ministry where strategic nuclear missiles were designed, "he who pays performs the controlling functions."
Monitoring or submission
Experts maintain that the matter actually concerns appearance of American observers at all nuclear munitions arsenals throughout Russia. According to some sources, the plan the Bratislava group is supposed to present by July 1 will be quite specific about at which facilities of the Defense Ministry American equipment will be installed and where American controllers will be present.
The decision to grant the Americans permission to turn up at Russian nuclear facilities may be regarded as the first step to the loss of sovereignty. It explains why no information on the Bratislava group has made it to the media since February. After all, foreign control over the Russian nuclear sphere has been talked about - vaguely - since 1991, but the speculations ceased being vague after the Bratislava summit. Valynkin's sudden statement may mean that some real steps and real accords followed the mostly declarative agreement Putin and Bush signed in February.
Arbatov has no such fears. "Any control over nuclear facilities, or materials, or machinery, is out of the question," he said. "It's different. We are getting from the United States and other countries (under Nunn-Lugar Program in the past, under Global partnership now) technical and financial aid to secure our nuclear facilities and storage facilities with weapons-grade materials. Foreigners will only be permitted at the facilities or systems Russia bought with their help or was given by them as a gift. It is necessary to convince foreign countries that their money was not spent elsewhere, that the financial reports we regularly forward to the donors give a true picture."
Andrew Kuchins, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, thinks likewise. "American and Russian authorities can reach an agreement on how best to ensure security of nuclear weapons and materials that belong to the United States and Russia. In my view, mutual access to nuclear facilities should be the key component of the accord. It will allay the fears and dispel the impression that the Americans will merely turn up and take over. They are not going to, you know. Establishment of American control over the Russian nuclear complex is out of the question, but this is how media outlets interpret the whole affair," Kuchins said.
The 12th Main Directorate of the Defense Ministry was established in 1947. It receives its orders directly from the defense minister. This body is in charge of the use, storage, maintenance, transportation, and dismantlement of nuclear munitions of all types. The storage facilities of the 12th Main Directorate currently contain about 1,000 strategic nuclear warheads and all tactical nuclear weapons (4,800 items, according to various sources). They also contain some portable nuclear weapons colloquially known as "nuclear suitcases."
1. U.S. Sends Official Request to Extradite Former Russian Minister Adamov
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The U.S. sent an official request to Switzerland to extradite former Russian Atomic Energy Minister Yevgeny Adamov, the Swiss Federal Justice Department said Friday.
Adamov, 66, who headed the Russian Atomic Energy Ministry in 1998-2001 was arrested in Bern on May 2 on a warrant issued by the district court of Pennsylvania.
Adamov and his business partner, U.S. citizen Mark Kaushansky are accused of embezzling $9 million from U.S. Energy Department funds intended to improve Russian nuclear security.
According to U.S. legislation, Adamov may face up to 60 years in prison and a $1.75 million fine.
Russia also sent Switzerland a request for Adamov's extradition on May 17 in the form of an arrest warrant, issued by the Moscow Basmanny Court. The Russian Prosecutor General's office opened a case against Adamov on charges of fraud and abuse of power.
On June 9, Adamov was formally arrested for the second time following the Russian request.
Adamov's lawyers are currently contesting the legitimacy of both arrests in court.
The Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona found the U.S. arrest warrant illegitimate and ordered Adamov's release on June 9. However, the former minister remained in prison pending the judgment from the Federal Tribunal in Lausanne.
On June 17, the Federal Justice Department filed an appeal against the Federal Criminal Court's ruling. The Federal Court has not temporary restrictions to consider this case.
On Friday, the Federal Court in Lausanne ruled that Adamov must remain in custody while the Court was considering the appeal.
Adamov's lawyers filed a new appeal to the Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona against the legitimacy of the second arrest on the Russian extradition request.
The Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona will consider the positions of the Federal Justice Department and Adamov's lawyers and make a ruling.
If Adamov's lawyers are dissatisfied with the ruling they may contest it in the Federal Court in Lausanne.
If both arrests are found illegal Adamov will be released. Otherwise, the Federal Justice Department will make a decision on Adamov's extradition either to Russia or to the U.S.
Driving along the blasted sands of the Gulf coast, the pristine geometric dome of Iranï¿½s first nuclear reactor rises amid dusty eucalyptus trees, looking for all the world as if it were a Bond villainï¿½s hideout, writes Marie Colvin in Bushehr.
The double barrels of anti-aircraft guns pointing to the sky from their earthwork berms on the road are the first indication that the Bushehr plant is not a film set. The reactor is a focus of fears that Iran is developing nuclear weapons.
Tehran insists the plant will be used only to generate electricity when it goes on line, scheduled for the middle of next year. The West, particularly the Americans, fear Bushehr is the visible tip of a clandestine programme.
Asadollah Saboury, vice-president of Iranï¿½s nuclear plants programme, said the reactor would provide 1,000 megawatts of electricity ï¿½ enough power for a city of 500,000. Being built by 4,000 Russians and 2,000 Iranians, it was now 84% complete.
The Russians would deliver the reactorï¿½s fuel in the next few months, he said ï¿½ a deal that President George W Bush tried to stop during his February summit with Vladimir Putin, the Russian president.
A scientist by training, Saboury sought to dismiss worries that the fuel would be diverted or that spent nuclear fuel would be reprocessed into plutonium, one of the paths to building a nuclear weapon.
ï¿½The fuel will be sealed in Russia by the International Atomic Energy Agency,ï¿½ he said. ï¿½Here in Bushehr, the IAEA will open the seal and observe the fuel being put in the reactor.ï¿½
Without such controls, America has said the waste from Bushehr could be reprocessed to produce enough plutonium for several nuclear bombs a year. Washingtonï¿½s fears are not unfounded. Iran recently said it had conducted experiments to create plutonium for five years longer than it had previously admitted to.
Sabouryï¿½s assurances will go only a small way towards allaying western concerns. A tense stand-off remains ï¿½ Iran insists it has the right to make nuclear fuel through a second method, the enrichment of uranium.
ï¿½This is the plan of our country, to obtain the technology to produce our own fuel,ï¿½ Saboury said. ï¿½We will need it for Bushehr because our contract with the Russians for the supply of fuel runs only 10 years and we intend to construct more than one (nuclear) unit.ï¿½
His insistence is far from academic. Two years ago, after a leak from an opposition group, Iran admitted it had been working secretly to enrich uranium with centrifuges at an underground site near Natanz. Such clandestine work is banned under the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, which Iran signed in 1968.
Washington has said that Iran was working secretly to develop a nuclear bomb; Tehran says it hid the programme because of international sanctions. The fight is central to the dispute, because centrifuge technology to enrich uranium to the low level required for nuclear fuel could readily be shifted to the higher level required for nuclear bombs.
Iran has suspended its enrichment activities while the EU3 ï¿½ Britain, France and Germany ï¿½ try to defuse the confrontation through negotiations, set to resume no later than August.
2. Russia to Continue Nuclear Cooperation With New Iranian President
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Russia is ready to continue cooperating with Iran in the atomic energy sector following the victory of hardliner Mahmood Ahmadinejad in presidential elections, but will meet obligations to prevent nuclear weapons proliferation, AFP reported Saturday citing President Vladimir Putin.
ï¿½We are ready to continue cooperation with Iran in the atomic energy sector, while taking into account our international obligations in the area of non-proliferation, (and) to cooperate on finding a mutually acceptable political solution to existing questions,ï¿½ Putin said in a statement on Saturday.
Putin congratulated Ahmadinejad, saying his resounding win was an ï¿½expression of the will of the Iranian peopleï¿½ and that Russia looked forward to developing relations with the Islamic state.
Construction work on a new Russian nuclear power station at Bushehr in Iran is almost complete. Officials there said this week that the first deliveries of Russian nuclear fuel should be made within a few months, AFP adds.
In an attempt to allay U.S. and EU concerns that the civilian power station is part of a secret weapons development programme, Moscow and Tehran brokered a deal in which Iran must send spent fuel back to Russia.
However, analysts and diplomats in Tehran say that the victory of ultra-conservative Ahmadinejad could spell a new hardening in the countryï¿½s negotiating stance over Western demands that Iran curb its nuclear ambitions.
Russia maintains warm ties with Iran. Putin said in his statement that other potential growth areas in cooperation included oil and gas, transport, telecommunications, and civil aviation.
3. Putin Offers Iran's President-Elect to Continue Nuclear Cooperation
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Russia's President Vladimir Putin on Saturday congratulated the new Iranian president-elect and said Moscow was ready to develop its nuclear cooperation with Iran in line with international agreements.
In a letter to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the hard-line conservative mayor of Tehran who won a landslide victory over his relatively moderate rival Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani, Putin offered to continue cooperation in the nuclear field after Russia completes construction of a nuclear reactor in Iran's southern port city of Bushehr.
"The construction of the Bushehr nuclear plant is nearing end, and we are ready to continue cooperation with Iran in the nuclear energy sphere with respect to our international obligations in the non-proliferation area and help find a mutually acceptable political solution of relevant issues," Putin said in a letter to Ahmadinejad released by the Kremlin.
Russia has offered Iran to build more nuclear reactors after completing the Bushehr plant, set to become fully operational by the end of 2006, but no specific agreements has been reached.
Russia's US$800 million contract to build the 1,000-megawatt reactor in Bushehr has worried the United States, which accuses Tehran of running a covert nuclear weapons program.
But U.S. officials say Russia increasingly has shared their concerns about Iran's nuclear program and Washington has praised Moscow for demanding a deal - signed in February - that obliges Iran to return spent nuclear fuel from Bushehr. The agreement was aimed at lessening the possibility of Iran extracting plutonium for use in atomic weapons.
While Russia defended its nuclear cooperation with Iran, it has urged Tehran to cooperate with international community to assuage concerns about its nuclear program.
Ahmadinejad had sent strong signals that as president, he might push his country toward a much tougher stance in sensitive negotiations with the West over its controversial nuclear program.
Along a long, dusty road that heads south from this Persian Gulf port, past shops and green fields, rises an emblem of Iran's differences with the United States: the nearly finished Bushehr nuclear power plant.
For the United States, as well as Europe, Iran's nuclear program ranks as perhaps the most important issue in the outcome of today's presidential election.
With a small army of Russian contractors welding, painting and fitting pipes inside its concrete dome and its turbine building, the $800-million plant is 84% complete and poised to receive its first nuclear fuel rods from Russia within a few months, a senior Iranian atomic official confirmed Wednesday. Officials say the plant will be in commission next year.
Iran says its pursuit of nuclear power is for peaceful purposes and falls within its rights as a sovereign nation and signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
Washington thinks Bushehr might be part of a national program aimed ultimately at producing atomic weapons that could be fitted onto the short- and medium-range missiles Iran has been developing for decades.
One of the two candidates in today's contest, Hashemi Rafsanjani, is a former president who has signaled willingness to seek a compromise with the West to avoid confrontation over the nuclear question and other issues. He is in a tight race with Tehran Mayor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has accused Iran's negotiators of lacking backbone in their discussions of nuclear issues with European diplomats.
The same basic process that produces low-level enriched uranium for civilian reactors can be modified to produce highly enriched uranium for nuclear bombs. Western officials worry that once Iran has acquired the technology and begins to make its own nuclear fuel, there will be little to prevent it from taking the process further and making fearsome weapons.
Much of their concern is about other facilities, such as those located near Natanz and Esfahan in central Iran, that are linked to enrichment activities.
President Bush has said repeatedly that Iran should not be allowed to obtain nuclear weapons, and for now, the United States is backing European diplomacy. After sometimes tense negotiations with Britain, France and Germany in recent months, Iran announced that it was suspending enrichment, although it has threatened resumption several times.
Rafsanjani has indicated some flexibility on the issue, saying, "The main solution is to gain the trust of Europe and America and to remove their concerns over the peaceful nature of our nuclear industry."
But Ahmadinejad, the favorite of Iran's hard-line Islamic clerics and military, has defended the country's right to go forward at full speed with what he calls "peaceful nuclear technology."
"Those who are in negotiations are frightened and don't know the people," he said this week. "A popular and fundamentalist government will quickly change the country's stance [to be] in favor of the nation."
Late Wednesday, seeking to back up its assertion that the world had nothing to fear from the Bushehr plant, the government afforded a group of foreign reporters a rare chance to tour the plant.
The Bushehr facility was conceived in the 1970s, under the rule of the late shah. But work was suspended after the 1979 Islamic revolution and throughout the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s. It came back to life in the 1990s, when Iran and Russia, over U.S. objections, signed an agreement to complete the project using Russian designs and technology.
Master engineer Ismael Ibrahim Zadeh, outfitted in a neat blue jacket in spite of the 100-degree heat, took the reporters, photographers and camera operators around the separate turbine building, allowing them to record whatever they liked and proudly pointing out the massive, green-painted turbine, its generator and the condensers, with huge, yellow cranes overhead.
All around, Russian workers in hard hats concentrated on welding or rolling heavy components out to be lifted to their proper places in the maze of steel and tubing.
Seawater, heated by proximity to a closed loop of water heated by the nuclear reactor, will emerge as steam to run the turbine's giant rotors and turn the generator for electricity.
The reactor itself is a short bus ride away. A rickety-feeling temporary outdoor elevator raised the visitors in small groups to a platform about five stories high. From the top, the shoreline half a mile away was visible, lined with guard towers facing out to sea.
An open door led from the platform into the steel-sheathed domed containment area itself. Walking over the stainless steel floor, one can peer down into a cylindrical well about 20 feet deep at the top of the installed reactor, where the fuel rods are soon to be placed.
Although Iran boasts reserves of petroleum and natural gas that are among the world's richest, officials here argue that generating electricity by nuclear means will allow more of its resources to be exported for cash.
At a news conference held in a reception area of the plant, Asadollah Saboury, vice president of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, said it would be completed by December 2006. He promised that it would operate under a safeguard regime of inspections and remote surveillance by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The IAEA is already a frequent visitor, positioning cameras and setting up systems for its round-the-clock surveillance and for transmission of photographs to its Vienna headquarters, he said.
Asked how the world could trust that Iran's nuclear program had no military goals, Saboury focused on the Bushehr plant itself.
"There was only one concern [voiced by the IAEA] with respect to Bushehr ï¿½ and that was the spent fuel, what's going to happen to the spent fuel? Apart from this spent fuel, it is an industrial complex," he said, switching between English and Persian.
"As far as the spent fuel, we have an agreement with the Russians that [it] will be sent back to Russia," he said. "So there should not be any allegations against Bushehr, because everything is crystal clear about it."
Although the plant is a civilian installation, it is guarded by watchtowers and antiaircraft guns, evidence of the tension that has surrounded this project.
Few here have forgotten that Israeli F-16 warplanes destroyed an Iraqi nuclear reactor about to become operational in 1981. Neither the United States nor Israel has ruled out a similar operation against Iranian nuclear facilities if negotiations to curtail Iran's program fail.
Experts have said, however, that it might be difficult or impossible to locate all the elements of the alleged arms program, which is presumed to be dispersed and hidden underground around the country.
Saboury said the suspension his country has agreed to does not encompass all of its nuclear activities.
"What is not in the scope of suspension, like the Bushehr NPP, they are proceedingï¿½. There are a lot of activities, research activities, other projects, nuclear power plants. There is a long list of activities" not covered by the agreement, he said.
Saboury expressed frustration with the suspension.
"Iran likes to have the capability to make its own nuclear power plant fuel," he said. "We are wasting our time now. We are losing the time."
If the suspension was lifted, he said, it would be "very few years" before Iran was capable of enriching its own uranium.
Master engineer Zadeh simply shrugged when asked if he was frightened to be working in a facility that some speculate might one day be bombed.
"I lived through the Iran-Iraq war," he said, "so for me this is nothing."
5. Moscow Stresses Nuclear Cooperation with Iran: Russian FM
Islamic Republic News Agency
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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said here Friday his country's nuclear cooperation with Iran is fully transparent and within the framework of international regulations.
Lavrov, in an interview with the Russian newspaper `Trud', said Russia's peaceful nuclear cooperation with Iran has no secret point.
Russia's cooperation with Iran is based on fulfillment of the international commitments by the two sides under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), he added.
Russia believes that Iran, as an IAEA member state and a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, has right to expand its atomic energy for peaceful purposes.
He reiterated that his country has enjoyed cooperation with Iran on peaceful nuclear program during the recent years adding that Russia participated in construction of a nuclear power plant in Iran under condition of mandatory return of used nuclear fuel to Russia.
The minister stressed that Russia adopts its policy on peaceful nuclear cooperation with Tehran on the basis of bilateral agreements and with regard to decisions made by the IAEA, the United Nations and other international organizations.
Lavrov said Russia and the EU troika, enjoying common interest and goal, seek diplomatic solution to Iran's atomic case.
Referring to Iran's agreement with the EU troika on suspension of uranium enrichment program and close cooperation with the IAEA, he said the agreement was reinforced in the Board of Governors.
He voiced his country's support for the agreement and said Russia will make separate contacts with troika and Iran on the issue.
1. Russia Becomes Full-Fledged Member of the Global Nuclear Market
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The security of both civil and defense nuclear objects has become a highly important issue during recent years. There are 213 nuclear installations, 454 facilities to store spent nuclear fuel, 1508 radioactive warehouses and some 16,500 radioactive sources in Russia. It stands the reason that such an impressive nuclear constituent requires special attention.
One may not say that Russian nuclear objects are being operated on a perfect level. Andrei Malyshev, the chairman of the Federal Service for Nuclear Control, said that the quality of various violations, which specialists make during their work, increased slightly in 2004. They were all technological violations, Malyshev added, which could not lead to any serious consequences. However, the situation in the Russian nuclear industry does not win favor.
The Russian Nuclear Power Agency currently implements a large-scale program for long-term storage of the spent nuclear fuel. The Russian nuclear industry already suffers from the lack of storage facilities, although it will soon have to deal with deliveries of foreign nuclear wastes as well. The project has a legal base for the time being. The laws to import spent nuclear fuel to Russia were passed in 2000. Russia also has the technology to establish adequate storage and production facilities. However, specialists of the Russian Nuclear Power Agency have not decided yet where the facilities should be built.
Storing only one kilogram of spent nuclear fuel brings $1,000 of profit, whereas the processing is a lot more expensive. This year, Russia ratified the international Vienna convention about civil responsibility for nuclear damage. Moreover, the Russian government submitted a new draft law to the Russian parliament about the ratification of the united convention on safe circulation of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive wastes. Moscow will host a conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency in March of 2006. It brings up the idea that Russia gradually becomes a full-fledged member of the global nuclear market.
The security of Russian nuclear objects was tested in May of the current year, during the energy crisis in Moscow, when a big part of the city was left without electricity. Andrei Malyshev, the chairman of the Federal Service for Nuclear Control, said that 360 nuclear objects were disconnected from electric power as a result of the power outage: all the objects worked normally during the crisis.
A spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, Colonel-General Igor Valynkin, said that Russian nuclear weapons experienced no losses or breakdowns during 55 years of their operation. It is impossible to conceal an accident with nuclear weapons, Valynkin said. However, the general could not guarantee the absolute safety of Russian nuclear objects: the terrorist threat is rather high.
Foreign states invest their funds in the Russian nuclear industry: American and German funds are currently being used to provide better security at Russian nuclear objects. American specialists have a right to supervise only the work of the firms, which install security means. It is noteworthy that the Russian Defense Ministry does not receive any profit: the funds are wired directly to the firms.
Nobody has a right to control nuclear defense objects of Russia even under emergent conditions. Neither UN departments, nor NATO have any international agreements on the matter. Russia conducts an active anti-terrorist cooperation with Western states. Russia, the USA and IAEA collaborate in the reduction of the radioactive threat: the initiative stipulates the withdrawal of nuclear wastes from third world countries, which Russia and the USA had delivered there previously. Nuclear wastes have already been removed from Yugoslavia and Afghanistan; Uzbekistan is next on the list.
2. Russia's Energy Concern Lacks Funds to Decommission Nuclear Power Plants
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Rosenergoatom, Russia's state-owned nuclear energy concern, lacks the funds to decommission old nuclear power units.
General Director Stanislav Antipov told a board meeting of the Union of Nuclear Power Territories and Enterprises today that the concern had a shortfall of about 6 billion rubles ($209.5 million) in 2004 for decommissioning energy units, while by 2010 the figure could exceed 8.5 billion rubles ($296.79 million).
Antipov said the concern would need at least 980 billion rubles ($34.22 billion) overall to fulfill plans and objectives stipulated in Russia's energy strategy for the period till 2020. "We can get this amount with the help of state secured loans," said the director.
Antipov said privatizing Rosenergoatom would help secure loans for the concern's development. "This issue is being under consideration at the moment," he said.
A commission considering the privatization of Rosenergoatom will meet on June 28. The concern is expected to submit proposals to accelerate the privatization process.
"Privatizing Rosenergoatom would help attract investment, ensure equal competitive conditions, and encourage the emergence of innovation projects," said Antipov.
Russian nuclear enterprises are non-competitive on the external market of construction of nuclear facilities, Ivan Kamenskikh, deputy head of the federal atomic energy agency (Rosatom) believes. In his opinion, equipment at Russian nuclear facilities has gone out of date, and its capacity is deteriorating. Kamenskikh said that taking the current situation on the foreign nuclear construction market into account, Russia could gain enough pace, but this would require adequate financial support for the industry's development plans.
4. Italy-Russia: URSO, Ready to Cooperate on Nuclear
Agenzia Giornalistica Italia
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"The partnership with Russia in the nuclear sector will allow Italy to make up some handicaps that are under everyone's eyes," declared Deputy Industry Minister Adolfo Urso on the sidelines of the "Structural reforms, privatisations and investment opportunities in the Russian Federation" seminar, which today ended a three day period of economic, industrial, and financial cooperation between Italy and Russia. Urso, who recalled that Russia is one of the main commercial partners of Italy, announced that Italy will soon accomplish privatisations in the Russian Federations in electricity, communications and infrastructure sectors, and will prepare to cooperate also in the nuclear field. Italy can count on Russia in these sectors, as Deputy Economic Development and Commerce Minister Andrei Vladimirovich Sharonov said. Sharonov highlighted on the nuclear issue, "considering the peculiarity of Italian legislation, Italy could be interested to cooperate with Russia in third party markets." Urso highlighted the importance of these three days that reinforced the partnership with Russia, "a country in which for years now, our exports, our Italian products, continue to increase." Urso also opened the door to "small and medium Italian enterprises which can use a financial and credit network that Italian banks together with public finance companies are accomplishing these days." Sharonov explained that "some projects have been started that were underwritten in this session," in the fields of transport, highways, infrastructure and energy. Sharopov added that "Italians study opportunities to develop cooperation in gas, construction materials and farming vehicle sectors."
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