Washington and Moscow have resolved a liability dispute that had blocked the implementation of a key U.S.-funded nuclear threat reduction program in Russia for more than two years, a senior U.S. official said Tuesday.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told reporters in Moscow that the agreement, which would cover U.S.-funded disposal of weapons-grade plutonium in Russia, would be based on the principle of reciprocity, but he did not elaborate.
The resolution of the liability dispute paves the way for the disposal of excessive stockpiles of weapons-grade plutonium, eliminating fissile material that might otherwise end up in the hands of terrorists or rogue nations. Russia has enough plutonium to make 4,000 bombs, according to the estimates of Graham Allison, an expert on nuclear terrorism and the director of Harvard University's Belfer Center.
A Russian source familiar with the U.S.-Russian negotiations said Tuesday that an agreement had been reached in principle but remained unsigned.
The source, who works for a state agency involved in the talks and asked not to be identified since the deal had not been signed, said it was now being passed around to various Russian government agencies for their approval and would be formalized as an addendum to a 2000 U.S.-Russian agreement on the disposal of excessive plutonium.
Neither side said when the agreement -- which is also expected to spell out who bears responsibility for any potential damage caused during the disposal of plutonium -- would be signed.
In another major development in the U.S.-Russian nuclear security dialogue, a second senior U.S. official said at the same briefing that Russia had presented a list of nuclear facilities that American inspectors would be allowed to visit to inspect progress on U.S.-funded security upgrades.
The official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said the two sides' progress on liability and access issues would "facilitate the extension" of the Cooperative Threat Reduction program, which serves as the basis for most U.S.-funded nuclear security projects in Russia, when it expires in 2006.
The Federal Atomic Energy Agency and the Foreign Ministry did not respond to written inquires about the status of the liability dispute or whether a list of selected nuclear facilities had been presented to Washington.
In advance of the Group of Eight summit in Scotland in early July, American media reported that the list would be handed over to the U.S. side and the liability dispute would be resolved when Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin met on the sidelines of the talks.
The Kremlin, however, made no statement at the time. One reason may be that Russian officials tend to be secretive about the details of U.S.-Russian nonproliferation in order to avoid riling the public, said Ivan Safranchuk, head of the Moscow office of the Washington-based Center for Defense Information.
"The scale and concrete results of this cooperation are not publicized because authorities are afraid to do so in an atmosphere of ... anti-Americanism that they themselves have been encouraging," Safranchuk said.
Until recently, U.S. contractors carrying out upgrades at Russian facilities within the framework of Cooperative Threat Reduction had insisted that their companies and personnel should have immunity to liability for any damage caused during upgrades.
Their position was championed by then-Undersecretary of State John Bolton, much to the dismay of the Russians. The Russians had insisted that liability be divided as it was in the Multilateral Nuclear Environmental Program in the Russian Federation Framework Agreement, which was signed by several EU countries and Russia in 2003, a Federal Atomic Energy Agency official said in a recent interview.
With Bolton gone and Colin Powell replaced by Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state, the liability issue was put on a fast track. The first sign of a pending resolution appeared after Rice's visit to Moscow in May, when both sides claimed significant progress on the issue.
Bolton's replacement, Robert Joseph, arrived in Moscow on Monday for 1 1/2 days of talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Kislyak, Federal Atomic Energy Agency head Alexander Rumyantsev and Security Council deputy head Nikolai Spassky.
Joseph was to discuss international efforts to ensure Iran did not develop nuclear weapons, the North Korean nuclear situation, the evacuation of spent nuclear fuel from Soviet-designed reactors to Russia and the U.S.-led Proliferation Security Initiative.
2. Senators: Agreement Reached with Russia Over MOX Plant
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A liability disagreement that delayed the construction of a South Carolina plant that would dispose of 34 tons of weapons-grade plutonium by turning it into a fuel for commercial power reactors has tentatively been resolved, two U.S. senators say.
The dispute with Russia has delayed construction of a mixed-oxide fuel plant for more than a year at the Savannah River Site near the South Carolina-Georgia state line, raising funding questions and concerns about when the facility will be finished.
Under an agreement between the United States and Russia, both countries plan to blend plutonium into commercial nuclear fuel in parallel programs.
"This will allow the MOX program at the Savannah River Site to get back on track," U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Wednesday. "I look forward to a formal agreement being reached in the coming weeks."
The disagreement centered on U.S. workers helping build the Russian facility. Graham said the Russian government will give liability protection to foreign companies who work on the program there but the agreement requires a Russian presidential decree and a formal signing of the pact by the two countries.
Graham said France, Germany and the United States are involved in designing and building the Russian facility.
"As we see the world become more and more dangerous, it is critical that we make progress on reprocessing weapons-grade plutonium into MOX," U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M, said in a statement. "Black marketers and terrorists would love to get their hands on this plutonium."
But Tom Clements of Greenpeace International said the liability issue is just one of several that need to be resolved. Russia's program still faces funding and safeguard concerns, and Clements questioned the timing of the senators statements.
"I do think both Sen. Domenici and Sen. Graham are trying to play politics and influence the House-Senate conference committee funding on the MOX plant. That much is clear to me," Clements said.
Graham said he threatened legislation this fall to delink the U.S. program from the Russian one, but "we didn't have to go there."
"I'm not going to let the Savannah River Site MOX program get stuck," Graham said.
The Senate recently agreed to President Bush's request for $339 million in a spending bill for the facility, a key part of the administration's effort to safeguard the plutonium. The House bill provided just $35 million for the mixed-oxide plant.
A House Energy and Water Development Appropriations report said the MOX program has a balance of more than $650 million and the 2006 budget request would increase that to more than $1 billion, "yet no nuclear nonproliferation or national security benefits have been realized due to continued program delays."
"Faced with severe budget constraints, the committee cannot support the continued inefficient use of these nonproliferation funds," according to the report, which was submitted by U.S. Rep. Dave Hobson, R-Ohio. The report also called for a General Accounting Office review of project spending, which Clements echoed.
If the liability issue is resolved, construction would begin on the U.S. plant next year, creating as many as 1,500 jobs, said National Nuclear Security Administration spokesman Bryan Wilkes.
The plant would be the first of its kind in the United States. In April, a shipment of nuclear power plant fuel made from weapons-grade plutonium arrived at the Catawba Nuclear Station in Lake Wylie for testing. The nuclear station is one of two in the United States that would use the mixed-oxide fuel.
1. Failure To Comply With Chemical Weapons Liquidation Program Will Cost Russia Dearly
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Viktor Khristenko, Russia's Minister of Industry and Energy, will submit the new wording of the chemical weapons liquidation program for government approval today, the daily Biznes newspaper reported Thursday. Up until 2012, Russia is to spend 171 billion rubles ($6 billion) on the liquidation of the world's biggest chemical arsenal.
Under the program of liquidation of chemical weapons, Russia should liquidate all types of chemical warfare agents (CWA) and a part of its production facilities by 2012. The remainder of the assets will be converted for civilian production.
The program will cost 171 billion rubles ($6 billion), which should cover the cost to liquidate 400,000 metric tons of CWA. The liquidation of America's smaller chemical arsenal (21,000 tons) will cost the U.S. $24 billion.
As of January 1, 2005, 25 billion rubles of the budgeted 171 billion rubles have been spent, including 21 billion rubles from the budget and 4 billion in foreign assistance. In total, foreign assistance in the form of signed contracts will amount to 10.5 billion rubles of the 171 billion rubles.
Russia sought foreign assistance mostly in the second half of the 1990s, when its financial situation was difficult, said Vladimir Lyashchenko, an aide to the Minister of Industry and Energy on defense industries. "Today we can execute the program independently, thus showing to the world that we are back up from our knees," he said.
If budget allocations are provided, Russia will fulfill the convention on time, said Yuri Koptev, the director for defense industries at the Ministry of Industry and Energy. Otherwise, sanctions may be applied; in particular, limits may be imposed on the export of Russian chemical fertilizers, whose aggregate volume this year is expected to be worth $7.5 billion.
The Russian government approved July 21 a $6 billion plan to destroy a 40,000-ton chemical weapons stockpile -- the world´┐Żs largest -- by 2012, Russian news agencies reported.
´┐ŻEven though it has the biggest chemical weapons stockpile in the world, Russia has also come up with the safest technologies for disarmament,´┐Ż Russia´┐Żs RIA Novosti quoted the country´┐Żs Minister for Industry and Energy Vitkor Khristenko as telling the government meeting.
Out of Russia´┐Żs 40,000-ton arsenal, 20 percent will be destroyed by 2007, 45 percent by 2009 and the program will be finally eliminated in 2012, Khristenko said.
Khristenko emphasized the disarmament program would safeguard the environment and create jobs in areas where chemical weapons are stocked.
So far Russia has only built one chemical dismantling plant in Saratov region, but another six plants are set to be built by 2009, Russia´┐Żs Interfax news agency reported.
Russian officials have long complained that foreign countries had not come up with sufficient financing for the disarmament, holding up approval of the plan.
Under the budget approved July 21, foreign countries will contribute 11 billion roubles ($385 million, 316 million euros) to the 171-billion-rouble ($6 billion, 4.9 billion euro) total, Khristenko said.
At a G8 summit meeting in Canada in 2002, the world´┐Żs leading economies offered Russia up to $20 billion (16.4 billion euros) to dismantle stocks of military plutonium and chemical weapons, and to secure weapons facilities.
The disarmament program is set for final approval by the Russian government before August 15, but is not expected to change from its current form.
3. Site For Chemical Weapons Decommissioning in Northwest Russia to be Ready By 2008
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The construction of a chemical weapons decommissioning plant in the Kirov Region (northwest Russia) is to begin in 2006 and will be completed by 2008, Regional Governor Nikolai Shaklein said.
The Russian government approved a federal program Thursday to "Decommission Russian chemical weapons reserves by 2012," which included the creation of new plants for decommissioning chemical weapons in the Kirov Region.
"The construction of the Maradykovsky plant for chemical weapons decommissioning is a positive step..." the governor said. "Storing chemical weapons creates a serious threat as the weapons become older. The sooner these arms can be destroyed, the better for the region.... The best way to decommission chemical weapons is to destroy them on site."
Shaklein said discussions about uses of the plant after the program has been completed would only begin after an environmental inspection has been performed.
"It will not be necessary to destroy the object itself," he said. "It could be adapted for industrial use. However, certain parts, depending on their condition and the results of environmental examinations, should be destroyed."
The project aims to decommission 20% of all the remaining chemical weapons reserves by 2007 and 45% by 2009. By 2012, all remaining chemical weapons, a total volume of 40,000 metric tons, should be fully destroyed.
One hundred sixty billion rubles from the Russian budget has been allocated to see the project through. The total cost of the programs, taking into account international support, could total 171 billion rubles (around $6 billion).
An East Pittsburgh security services company has added on to a multi-million dollar contract to protect former weapons plants in Russia.
Gregg Protection Services, which last month announced a $2.2 million contract for its services in Russia, announced this week that it has landed a $2.5 million deal to protect former biological weapons facilities in that country.
Gregg Protection Services has landed $10 million worth of the work under a $5 billion federal effort to prevent weapons of mass destruction in the former Soviet Union from drifting into terrorists' hands. The security work is being contracted through the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, a division of the U.S. Department of Defense.
Gregg Protection Services is a subcontractor for Raytheon Technical Services, a division of Waltham, Mass.-based defense industry giant Raytheon Inc. Gregg Protection Services is a subsidiary of Gregg Services Inc., a security firm started in 1967 by Carl Gregg.
Raytheon Technical Services was one of five contractors selected by the U.S. Army in 2001 to provide security in the former Soviet Union.
The company was recently awarded a $57 million contract to upgrade Russian nuclear weapons facilities. RTS also has hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts to provide transportation and protection to the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation and to transport materials regulated by the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program. In addition to the U.S., G8 countries like France, Germany and the United Kingdom contribute to the security effort.
Kristin Patterson Jones, a spokeswoman for RTS, said the most recent Gregg Protection Services contract covers six former biological weapons sites in Russia.
1. Russia Opens US-Funded Customs Office to Stop Nuclear Smuggling
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Russia opened a US-funded command centre Thursday to coordinate efforts against smuggling of nuclear-related materials, as officials said that 200 such incidents were uncovered last year.
The new office in Moscow will help customs points around the country improve communication and will provide expert analysis.
"The new command centre shows the seriousness of Russia's continuing effort to prevent smuggling," US deputy ambassador to Moscow Daniel Russell said at a press conference.
The Russian customs service issued a statement saying there had been 200 attempts to smuggle radioactive material into and out of Russia in 2004.
The new centre will link customs offices with nuclear experts in Moscow through video and e-mail to monitor suspicious cargo and will set up a clear chain of command in the customs service to block nuclear smugglers, officials explained.
"We're really talking about a faster data transmission system. The quality of information is much better," Russell said, explaining that communication was previously mostly through telephone contacts between Russian customs offices.
At the opening, Nikolai Kravchenko, head of Russia's service for customs control of nuclear materials and radioactive sources, said the new centre cost between 400,000 and one million dollars (330,000 to 830,000 euros) but could not specify the exact amount.
The office is part of the US Department of Energy's Second Line of Defense programme, which has spent 35 million dollars (29 million euros) to assist Russia in preventing illicit nuclear materials and equipment from crossing the border since 1998.
1. American Senators Impose Restrictions on Aid For Russia
Arkady Orlov, RIA Novosti
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The U.S. Senate approved the draft law on appropriations for foreign operations in 2006, Wednesday. The bill, which 98 senators voted for and one voted against, demands that Russia stop providing Iran with technical assistance, technology and equipment for nuclear or ballistic missile programs, and that Russia provide international humanitarian NGOs with full access to refugees and displaced persons in Chechnya.
Senators included $5 million for humanitarian assistance to Chechnya, Ingushetia and other areas in the North Caucasus, conflict resolution and post-conflict reconstruction.
The bill says that 60% of the funds allocated for these aims and designed to assist the government of the Russian Federation should be excluded from the U.S. obligations until the American president has provided the Committee on Appropriations with a written guarantee that the Russian government has implemented a number of conditions.
The restriction in the bill does not extend to U.S. nonproliferation and disarmament assistance programs in Russia. The bill repeats the same conditions that were written into the foreign operations appropriations bill for 2005, which was adopted by the U.S. Congress last year.
The U.S. Administration accuses Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons and believes that the Bushehr nuclear reactor, which Russia is helping Iran build and which is almost completed, will help the theocratic regime access nuclear technology. The U.S. includes Iran in "the axis of evil."
Switzerland's Federal Supreme Court has ruled that former Nuclear Power Minister Yevgeny Adamov must remain in jail pending extradition requests from the United States and Russia, the Swiss justice ministry said Tuesday.
The high court ruled in favor of the ministry, which had appealed a lower court's decision to set Adamov free.
"Yevgeny Adamov therefore remains in custody pending extradition," the Swiss Federal Office of Justice said in a statement.
Adamov was arrested in Switzerland on May 2 on an extradition request from the United States, where he faces charges that he embezzled $9 million in U.S. aid intended for improvement of Russia's nuclear safety while he was nuclear power minister in 1998-2001.
The U.S. request was followed by one from Moscow, amid Russian fears that Adamov could divulge nuclear secrets to the Americans.
The General Prosecutor's Office charged Adamov with fraud and abuse of office in May. On Sunday, Audit Chamber chief Sergei Stepashin said he would open an investigation into Adamov's possible role in delays in Iran's controversial Bushehr nuclear power plant, which is being built by Russia.
Adamov denies any wrongdoing and expects to return to Russia as a free man, his lawyer, Timofei Gridnev, said by telephone.
It was not clear when the decision on Adamov's extradition will be made, Rudolf Wyss, a spokesman for the justice ministry, said by telephone from Geneva.
"It all depends on what his [Adamov's] lawyers bring forward as arguments. Normally, it is a matter of one to two months to decide on such an extradition," he said.
Wyss said Adamov's case was complicated by the two rival extradition requests, and that the ministry would have to consult existing treaties. Adamov would have 30 days from the date of publication of the extradition decision to lodge an appeal with the Federal Supreme Court.
Wyss said that his office would weigh all arguments put forth by the U.S. and Russian sides, including any information emerging from the Audit Chamber's Bushehr probe.
"If the Russian prosecution finds they have to open a new point of accusation against Adamov with regards to Iran, they have to notify us. We will take it into consideration too," Wyss said.
The Audit Chamber said Monday that the probe had not begun yet.
In 1998, Adamov set up Atomstroiexport, the company which is building the $1 billion Bushehr nuclear plant, which Washington says is being used as a cover for Iran's nuclear weapons program.
"Theoretically, we cannot rule out that Stepashin's comments [on Bushehr] have been made to make Russia's claims against Adamov look stronger, thus proving the necessity of his extradition to Russia," said Ivan Safranchuk, head of the Moscow office of the Washington-based Center for Defense Information. "Yet, there are a lot of anti-Adamov people in Russia who would like to see cases against him started."
While Switzerland's high court ruled that Adamov should stay in custody for now, it returned two other questions for deliberation by the Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona: whether Adamov holds diplomatic immunity and whether the U.S. charges are politically motivated.
The Bellinzona court originally ruled that Adamov should not have been arrested, as he enjoyed safe conduct because he had traveled to Bern in order to answer questions before a judge investigating a money-laundering case linked to his daughter Irina, a resident of Switzerland.
The supreme court, however, ruled that Adamov could not claim that his detention violated the principle of safe conduct.
"He appeared voluntarily for questioning before an investigating judge in Bern and himself made the decision to come to Switzerland, independent of the questioning," the justice ministry said.
Investigators will probe former Nuclear Power Minister Yevgeny Adamov for his possible role in delays at the controversial nuclear power plant that Russia is building in Iran, the head of the Audit Chamber said Sunday evening.
Adamov, who has been in a Swiss prison since May, is caught in an extradition tug-of-war between Washington and Moscow. A ruling on Adamov's detention by Switzerland's highest court is expected to be made public on Tuesday.
Adamov faces charges of fraud and money laundering in the United States. But since his arrest, Moscow has scrambled to seek his extradition from Switzerland.
Remarks by Audit Chamber chief Sergei Stepashin on Rossia television suggested that the authorities were redoubling their efforts to return Adamov to Russia -- and not let him be extradited to the United States because of national security concerns.
Stepashin, who returned from a trip to Iran last week, said that Tehran had initiated its own investigation into the financing of the $1 billion Bushehr nuclear power plant, which Moscow began building 10 years ago and Washington claims is being used by Iran as a cover for a nuclear weapons program.
"We have agreed ... to conduct parallel probes into why this project has not been completed. The deadline is being constantly pushed back," Stepashin said. "We came to some conclusions that were not very pleasant."
A spokeswoman for the Audit Chamber said on Monday that "it is early to comment, as the probe has not begun yet."
She said that on Friday the Audit Chamber had decided to conduct the Bushehr probe in the third quarter of the year.
The chamber has already found that 655 million rubles ($24 million) allocated for the purchase of equipment have been misspent by Atomstroiexport, the Russian contractor of the Bushehr station, Interfax reported on Monday.
Adamov set up Atomstroiexport in 1998, and the company was later bought by Kakha Bendukidze's United Heavy Machinery and recently recovered by the state through the purchase of Gazprombank.
"The Iranian side has a lot of questions for this company ... and for former Minister Adamov as well because according to their data, a few programs that have been paid for -- millions of dollars -- have not been completed," Stepashin said.
"We are now waiting for materials from our Iranian colleagues in the near future. We will study them carefully with our experts at the Federal Atomic Energy Agency, and I think they will make for some serious work for the prosecutor general."
A source at Atomstroiexport said Monday that Stepashin's comments came as a surprise.
The Bushehr reactor, which is to become fully operational at the end of next year, is only three to four months behind schedule, mostly because of delays in payment by the Iranians, the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the case.
"We are putting all our efforts into catching up with the original schedule, and the Iranian side is reacting adequately to that," the source said, adding that there was no connection to the Adamov case.
"I would not take at face value what the Iranians are saying," said Alexei Arbatov, a specialist on nuclear nonproliferation at the Carnegie Moscow Center and a former State Duma deputy.
"It has to be seriously checked, including Adamov's possible involvement."
2. Iran Underfunds Construction of Nuke Plant - Russian Firm
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Construction of the nuclear power plant in Bushehr, Iran, a project in which Russia is involved, has slowed down "due to insufficient financing from the Iranian side," said a spokesman for Russian company Atomstroiexport, general contractor for the plant's construction.
The plant's construction is to finish "on average three to four months" later than planned, the spokesman told Interfax.
He said the Russian side was accurately meeting its commitments. "Atomstroiexport is taking all measures to make up for the delay," the spokesman said. This has included more personnel employment.
"The Iranian side is assessing our efforts appropriately," he said.
In a television program on Sunday, Russian chief auditor Sergei Stepashin said his agency was investigating the funding the project and that that "means serious work for the [Russian] Prosecutor General's Office."
1. Make Exception for India in Nuclear Non-Proliferation Regime: Russia
Press Trust of India
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Russia today sought exception for India in the global nuclear non-proliferation regime in view of its "impeccable and unblemished" record and welcomed its engagement with US in the field of civilian nuclear energy.
"There is a need for making exception for India in the global nuclear non-proliferation regime including the rules of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) as New Delhi has impeccable and unblemished non-proliferation record," Chief of Russia's Federal Atomic Energy Agency Alexander Rumyantsev told PTI.
"Unlike some countries Indian nuclear programme is purely indigenous. The adoption of domestic law on weapons of mass destruction and their delivery system in March by the Indian parliament virtually replicates the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT)," he added.
He also hailed the Indo-US engagement in the field of civilian nuclear technology and termed it a "postive development." He said Russia considers India as the most prospective market for atomic power generation and is keen to build some more atomic reactors under the ongoing Kudankulam atomic power project in Tamil Nadu.
1. Russia Calls for Acceptable Compromises at Six-Party Talks
Xinhua News Agency
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Russia calls for mutually acceptable compromises at the forthcoming six-party negotiations on nuclear program of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko said on Wednesday.
The fourth round of the talks among the DPRK, South Korea, Russia, China, the United States, and Japan is scheduled in Beijing on July 26.
"We think that in principle there is the basis for a constructive dialogue: the agreements and arrangements reached at the previous three meetings in Beijing," Yakovenko said.
In his words, "The main purpose is to find mutually acceptable solutions through substantive discussions by taking into account the interests of all sides."
"The current format of the talks allows the participants to raise and solve any issues of concern to them that are related to the resolution of the nuclear problem," Yakovenko said.
Commenting on the resumption of the six-party talks, Yakovenko said, "Russia's proposal remains one of the priority ones. Its elements coincide with the offers of other participants and may beused during decision-making."
"There is no other way, but a patient and interested dialogue. It should take into account concerns of all sides and be aimed to ensure a nuclear-free status on the Korean Peninsula," the Russian diplomat said.
The new round of the six-party talks should be resulted in signing a joint document, Yakovenko thought, saying "We hope that the sides will exert maximum effort to make the new round of talks successful in order to adopt a joint document."
Taking part in the six-party talks Russia will be represented by Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Alexeyev, according to the spokesman.
The six parties have had three rounds of talks since Aug. 2003,but the process had stalled for growing tension of the relations between DPRK and the United States.
The decision to restart the six-party talks was made through consultations with all relevant parties, and declared in Beijing on Tuesday.
2. Russia Hopes For 'Visible Progress' in North Korea Talks
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Russia praised North Korea for its decision to return to talks on its nuclear program and said it hopes for significant progress.
"The Russian side welcomes this decision and expresses the hope that the upcoming meeting in Beijing will bring visible progress," the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.
Last week another Foreign Ministry official, Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Alexeyev, said that Russia "fully expects a degree of progress and a step forward, compared to the agreements reached in previous meetings."
The six-party talks, which include Russia, China, the United States, Japan and South Korea, are to resume on July 26 in Beijing after a 13-month break due to North Korea's refusal to attend.
The talks started in August of 2003, three rounds were held, but last September North Korea refused to continue the talks because of "the U.S. hostility." This summer North Korea declared several times it would not need nuclear weapons if the U.S. didn´┐Żt threaten it.
Also North Korea said the it wouldn't need nuclear weapons if the United States treated it like a friend. The conciliatory gesture, after a year of deadlock in six-party talks on the North's nuclear program, have raised hope for a breakthrough, but Washington has played it down, saying Pyongyang was simply trying to buy time. Instead of "friendship" U.S. administration decided to provide 50,000 metric tons of food to North Korea in a humanitarian decision that the White House said was unrelated to stalemated efforts to get Pyongyang to end its nuclear weapons program.
3. Russia, North Korea Cooperating Well ´┐Ż Deputy Minister
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Russia and North Korea are successfully developing cooperation in many spheres, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Alexeyev said at a Tuesday meeting marking the fifth anniversary of the joint declaration.
The document signed by President Vladimir Putin and Chairman of the North Korean National Defense Commission Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang ´┐Żlaid down fundamentals of bilateral relations developed by the Treaty on Friendship, Neighborliness and Cooperation between Russia and North Korea,´┐Ż Alexeyev said.
´┐ŻThe declaration defined the vector of our relations in the 21st century. It mirrors the sincere wish to strengthen friendship, respect each other´┐Żs sovereignty and fight terrorism together,´┐Ż he said.
´┐ŻMoscow and Pyongyang have achieved a lot within the past five years. We are successfully developing cooperation in many spheres,´┐Ż he said.
Alexeyev will lead the Russian delegation to the Beijing round of the six-nation negotiations on the Korean nuclear problem on July 26. ´┐ŻThe year 2005 witnessed a number of important events. The North Korean defense minister visited Russia, and Chairman of the State Duma International Relations Committee Konstantin Kosachyov visited North Korea,´┐Ż he said.
1. Russian Strategic Forces Must Be Effective ´┐Ż Draft
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Russia's strategic nuclear forces must be able to deliver the intended amount of damage against a potential aggressor under any circumstances, reads a draft security strategy the Foreign and Defense Policy Council discussed on Thursday.
"The main task of strategic and regional deterrence is to maintain Russia's nuclear forces at a level guaranteeing the designated damage to an aggressor under any circumstances," reads the draft.
"Nuclear weapons remain the main means of maintaining global strategic stability at a time of a high level of international conflicts and the ineffectiveness of traditional means of settling them," the document says.
Its authors stress the need to improve Russia's general-purpose forces. "They should be compact, modern, well-organized and staffed, mobile, well-equipped and capable of responding to military threats and averting them at an early stage," it says.
The draft strategy suggests the use of Russian armed forces in former Soviet republics and other parts of the world.
The Foreign and Defense Policy Council is a non-governmental organization that promotes the development and implementation of strategic concepts, foreign and defense policies and the strengthening of the Russian state and civil society.
1. Long-Awaited U.S.-Russia Plutonium Liability Agreement is Critical Step in Right Direction
Office of Sen. Pete Domenici
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U.S. Senator Pete Domenici today expressed his hope that the United States and Russia will now move forward with reprocessing tons of nuclear-grade plutonium now that the two nations have resolved a long-standing technical disagreement.
United States and Russian officials Tuesday have agreed upon text to resolve a liability issue related to a plutonium disposition program initially authored and funded by Domenici in 1998. The question over potential liability responsibilities had stymied progress on the reprocessing of 34 metric tons of U.S. and Russian weapons plutonium into mixed-oxide fuel (MOX). The terms of the agreement were negotiated during the G-8 Summit in Scotland earlier this month.
The new liability agreement between the two former Cold War adversaries will permit the partners to move forward with construction of dual MOX fuel fabrication facilities to reprocess the weapons-grade plutonium into fuel for commercial nuclear reactors.
´┐ŻAs we see the world become more and more dangerous, it is critical that we make progress on reprocessing weapons-grade plutonium into MOX. Black marketers and terrorists would love to get their hands on this plutonium. President Bush has worked hard to engage President Putin on this issue, and as a result of that continuing dialogue, there is now an agreement to implement a MOX program,´┐Ż said Domenici, who plays a leadership role in the nation´┐Żs detection, monitoring and securing of nuclear material as part of the nonproliferation activities.
´┐ŻI´┐Żm very pleased that this agreement has been made because it will give us a sure-fire way to dispose of weapons-grade material while at the same time providing economic benefits. I am hopeful Russia´┐Żs Duma will take quick action,´┐Ż he said.
The agreement will now require a Russian presidential decree, and then a U.S.-Russian formal signing of the pact´┐Żwhich will allow preparatory activities at the Savannah River site in South Carolina to begin. Finally, the agreement must be ratified by the Russian Duma.
Domenici was instrumental in implementing a 1998 U.S.-Russia agreement to reprocess 34 metric tons of excess weapons plutonium´┐Żenough to supply 8,000 nuclear weapons´┐Żto transform surplus weapons-grade plutonium into a form that can no longer be used in nuclear weapons. That year, he also secured an initial $200 million to support the Plutonium Disposition Program between the United States and the Russian Federation.
Last year, Domenici encouraged the Bush administration to become more actively involved in reaching an agreement with Russia on plutonium liability. Since that time, Domenici has met with Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman, and Under Secretary John Bolton, who have been intimately involved in resolving differences with Russia. In recent months, the U.S. officials have regularly reported their progress to Domenici.
´┐ŻNonproliferation activities must continue to be a top global priority. This year alone, the U.S. has worked with Russia to strengthen nuclear facilities, develop low-enriched uranium fuel for research reactors, and secure nuclear weapons and material. The Bush administration´┐Żs focus on these issues is welcome, and I believe will pay dividends in the future. In particular, I would like to thank Secretary Rice, Secretary Bodman and Undersecretary Bolton for their hard work on this issue,´┐Ż Domenici said.
Domenici noted that the DOE national laboratories´┐Żincluding Los Alamos and Sandia in New Mexico´┐Żare intimately involved in nonproliferation activities and are acutely aware of the necessity of disposing nuclear material, like plutonium, that could be sold or stolen by terrorists.
3. Statement by Senator Pete Domenici Recognizing the Achievement of the Bush Administration to Secure a Liability Agreement on Plutonium Disposition
Office of Sen. Pete Domenici
(for personal use only)
Mr. President, I have come to the Senate floor today to make my colleagues aware of an important achievement by the Bush Administration to secure an agreement with the Russian Government to ensure that a major nonproliferation program moves forward. This agreement will resolve the long standing disagreement on liability associated with the construction of Mixed Oxide (MOX) Fuel Fabrication Facility in Russia.
This agreement will permit the U.S. and Russia to move forward with the construction of dual MOX fuel fabrication facilities to turn weapons-grade plutonium into civilian mixed-oxide fuel that can be burned in commercial nuclear reactors. Each side will dispose of 34 tons of excess plutonium.
Today the U.S.-Russian counterparts will agree to the terms of an agreement negotiated during the G-8 summit in England earlier this month. It was during this summit in which terrorists attempted to disrupt the meeting to by setting off simultaneous explosions in the London subway, killing over 40 innocent victims. This senseless violence underscores the importance of the eliminating the possibility, however remote, that terrorists might secure and use plutonium or highly enriched uranium in their acts of terror against civilian or military targets.
As we see the world become more and more dangerous, it is critical that we make progress on reprocessing plutonium into MOX. Black marketers and terrorists would love to get their hands on this plutonium. President Bush has worked hard to engage President Putin on this issue, and as a result of that continuing dialogue there is now an agreement to implement a MOX program.
I am very pleased that this agreement has been made because it will give us a sure-fire way to dispose of weapons-grade material while at the same time providing economic benefits to both countries. I am hopeful the Russian Duma will take quick action.
This agreement breaks a two year diplomatic impasse that has stalled the construction of fuel fabrication facilities in the U.S. and Russia.
I would like to recognize the efforts of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Undersecretary of State John Bolton, Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman and the entire Office of Nuclear Nonproliferation within the NNSA. Both the State Department, which negotiated the diplomatic solutions, and the Department of Energy, which has responsibility for managing the design, construction and operation of the nation´┐Żs first plutonium reprocessing plant, have been exceptional. Both teams have worked hard to realize the ultimate goal of eliminating 34 tons of weapons-grade plutonium from each of the U.S. and Russian stockpiles.
Over the past year I have pressed the Department of Energy and the State Department to resolve the liability issue. Upon their confirmations, both Secretary Rice and Secretary Bodman have committed their full support, and they should be proud of their early success.
The effort to address the elimination of excess weapons-grade material has been under consideration for over a decade. President George Bush´┐Żs term initiated the earliest efforts to identify excess weapons-grade material. Over the next decade, the Clinton Administration worked with then President Yeltsin to consider options for eliminating excess material.
In 1994, the National Academy of Sciences´┐Ż (NAS) report on the ´┐ŻManagement and Disposition of Excess Weapons Plutonium´┐Ż found that excess material constituted a ´┐Żclear and present danger.´┐Ż That same year a joint DOE-DoD review found that 38.2 metric tons of plutonium and 174.3 metric tons of Highly Enriched Uranium were surplus to U.S. defense needs. A programmatic environmental impact statement was undertaken to evaluate options for disposal of this material.
In 1995, U.S. and Russian experts met at Los Alamos to provide recommendations on plutonium disposition. Since those early meetings the labs have contributed a considerable amount of time and effort to support this initiative. In fact, Los Alamos prepared the plutonium that is being used as the initial test fuel assembly currently being burned in the Catawba reactor owned by Duke Power.
In April 1996, at the Moscow Nuclear Safety and Security Summit, it was determined that irradiating plutonium as part of a mixed oxide fuel in commercial reactors and vitrification are appropriate strategies for disposal.
In June 1997, the Independent Holdren-Velikhov Commission issued a final report recommending a disposal pathway identified at the Moscow Summit. The report is a joint U.S. and Russian National Academy of Science review.
In July 1998, the U.S. and Russia signed a Scientific and Technical Cooperation Agreement that provides for a joint, small-scale test of disposition pathways. This agreement also provided a five year liability agreement between the U.S. and Russia for coverage of U.S. workers in Russia that expired in July 2003.
In September 1998, President Clinton and President Yeltsin entered into a bilateral plutonium disposition agreement.
In October 1998, I included $200 million in ´┐Żemergency´┐Ż funding dedicated entirely to plutonium disposition to demonstrate to Russia the firm U.S. commitment to plutonium disposition. This funding persuaded Russia to enter into serious negotiations. Today, $150 million of those funds remains available for use to initiate construction.
That same month, G-8 members established the Multilateral Plutonium Disposition Group and committed to international financing of the Russian plutonium program. As of January 2005, total pledges from the U.S., U.K., Canada, Japan, Italy and France total $865 million. I am confident that with the liability issue resolved additional funding will be made available to support the Russian effort. The U.S. will fulfill its commitment to build the U.S facility on it own.
In March 1999, the U.S. awarded the MOX facility contract to Duke Cogema Stone and Webster (DCS) to design the U.S. MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility. In August, DoE awarded a contract to design the Pit Disassemble and Conversion Facility.
In January 2000, DOE issued a Record of Decision on locating the pit conversion and fuel fabrication facility at Savannah River, South Carolina.
In September 2000, the U.S. and Russia signed the Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement, which calls for each country to dispose of 34 tons of weapons-grade plutonium in parallel. It was agreed that construction would begin by 2003. Unfortunately, one item left unresolved in that agreement was the question of liability protection for the U.S. for work performed in Russia.
In January 2001, the Bush Administration began a year long review of all nonproliferation programs with Russia. During this review, the contracting team submitted a Construction Authorization Request to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for approval.
January 2002, the Administration decided to pursue a MOX only pathway and put an end to further work on a vitrification program.
In September 2002, MINATOM, the Russian counterpart to the Department of Energy, agreed to use an identical design of the U.S. proposed MOX facility.
In July 2003, the temporary five-year limited liability coverage provided under the 1998 Science and Technical Cooperation Agreement expired.
In February 2004, without a formal agreement on liability, the U.S. announced a delay in the program. Plans to initiate construction in May 2004 were delayed until May 2005.
August 2004, the Russians begin site characterization work at the Siberian Chemical Combine in Seversk, Russia as a location of the MOX facility. The site has been cleared and is awaiting construction. Unlike the Savannah River Site, which has a year-round construction season, the Seversk site is limited to work in the summer.
In September 2004, Los Alamos shipped 125 kilograms of surplus plutonium to France for fabrication into MOX fuel assemblies for a test burn in a commercial U.S. reactor. This activity is undertaken in France since the design of the U.S and Russian fuel fabrication facility is identical to the French facility that is currently reprocessing spent commercial fuel for European and Asian customers. The shipments between the U.S. and France occurred without incident and the lead test assemblies are now being used in the Catawba reactor owned and operated by Duke Power.
In December 2004, the engineering team completed the licensable design of the U.S facility, and the NRC awarded the construction permit for the U.S. facility in March 2005.
On April 20, 2005, the U.S. offered a new liability agreement that was ultimately accepted by the Russian Government in July 2005. It took several months of intense lobbying to pressure the U.S. interagency process to produce a liability agreement that was not identical to the liability terms provided under the Cooperative Threat Reduction Agreement.
On July 19, 2005, the U.S. and Russia agreed to the terms of a final liability package. This agreement must go to President Putin to be drafted and published as a Presidential Decree. Once circulated, Secretary Rice and her counterpart in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will officially sign the agreement, which will then go to the Russian Duma for ratification.
Once this document is signed by Secretary Rice, the Department of Energy will move forward with a site clearing activities in Savannah River, South Carolina, with construction to commence in fiscal year 2006.
I am proud of the fact that two different administrations have followed through on this bilateral initiative, and we are now approaching another critical juncture. Following a decade of successful and numerous scientific, environmental and regulatory reviews, we are at a stage where it is important that Congress maintain an adequate and reliable level of funding to complete construction.
I am aware of the fact that the House and Senate Armed Services Committees have reduced funding for MOX construction but have preserved the funding within other nonproliferation accounts. I am hopeful that during the consideration of the Senate Defense Authorization bill, Chairman Warner and Senator Levin will agree to restore the funding back into the MOX construction accounts.
In addition, I am hopeful that I will be successful in convincing the House to restore critical funding that was eliminated from the MOX construction program. Of the $360 million requested for construction, the House only provided $35 million. Failure to provide adequate funding would undermine a decade of cooperation between the U.S. and Russia and do nothing to reduce the amount of excess plutonium.
If we are unable to fully fund the construction program and keep the project on track it will prevent the U.S. from consolidating plutonium across the weapons complex and could result in a $100 million per year penalties to be paid to the State of South Carolina as mandated in the FY 2003 National Defense Authorization Act. We have come too far to not complete this project.
I have believed in this initiative from the beginning and believe we can do more to reduce the threat from nuclear proliferation. I am committed to seeing additional resources be used in securing Russian warheads beyond the reach of terrorists. I am committed to strong enforcement by the U.S. or International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to breakup the nuclear black market, where nuclear technology and scientific expertise can be bought for a price.
The stakes are too high and the price too great to consider anything but an aggressive effort by the U.S. and our global partners to prevent the spread of nuclear material.
4. President Vladimir Putin signed the Federal Law ´┐ŻOn Ratification of the Agreement between the Government of the Russian Federation and the Government of Canada on Cooperation in the Destruction of Chemical Weapons, the Disposal of Decommissioned Nuclear Submarines and the Inventory, Control and Protection of Nuclear Materials and Radioactive Substances´┐Ż
(for personal use only)
The agreement between the Russian and Canadian governments on cooperation in destruction of chemical weapons, disposal of decommissioned nuclear submarines and the inventory, control and protection of nuclear materials and radioactive substances was signed at Sea Island on June 9, 2004.
The agreement facilitates the development of an organisational and legal framework for long-term cooperation between Russia and Canada under the agreements reached on the G-8´┐Żs global partnership against the proliferation of weapons and materials of mass destruction. It also lays the legal foundation for receiving free financial and technical assistance from Canada for the implementation in Russia of priority programmes to destroy chemical weapons stockpiles and dispose of decommissioned nuclear submarines.
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