1. All Hands on Deck to Get Rid of a Lethal Legacy of the Cold War: UK Firms Are Part of International Efforts to Break Down Ex-Soviet Nuclear Submarines
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The remnants of the Kursk bob among what is left of the dismantled Soviet-era nuclear submarines that float in Saida Bay, near Murmansk.
Now, what's left of the doomed sub is one of 60 anonymous pods moored in the Bay, annexed as a military area in 1990. The three-compartment capsules, whose bows and sterns have been removed, are all that remains of the decommissioned, rusting hulls broken up under the Former Soviet Union Nuclear Legacy Programme.
Though their spent nuclear fuel has been dispatched for buffer storage and reprocessing at Mayak, in central Russia, these Soviet-era time capsules contain defuelled nuclear reactors and recovered solid radioactive materials that will need a final destination. But Saida Bay's first up-to-date storage platform for submarine reactor compartments and low-and intermediate-level radioactive waste remains at least a year away, while it could be 15 years before the last of the 60 structures is taken out of the water. Until that time, good maintenance practice that includes daily inspections and radiological checking of these structures will remain essential, as will ensuring the upkeep of the coatings that protect them.
The US kickstarted the FSUNL, pledging $ 10bn to finance the decommissioning of the Soviet strategic fleet. This work is being completed by the Americans. However, that left a large residue of 'general purpose' nuclear submarines afloat. Between 80 and 100 Russian submarines, around 75% thought to be carrying their nuclear fuel, remained gently rusting in the fjords of Kola Peninsula. After September 11, 2001, the idea that the idle materials might prove tempting for terrorists brought new urgency to dealing with the remaining submarines.
Agreement was reached at the 2002 Kananaskis G8 summit that these, too, were to be cleaned up through a $ 10bn contribution from other countries over 10 years. It was also agreed, now that the strategic threat had virtually disappeared, that Russian shipbuilders should be integral to the dismantling process. Through the Department of Trade and Industry, the UK is contributing $ 750m to the FSU Nuclear Legacy Programme, of which submarine dismantling is a vital part. Accordingly, UK project managers have been among the first to involve Russian shipbuilders in the dismantling process.
In 2002, the DTI-appointed specialist consultancy RWE NUKEM to manage an ï¿½11.5m ($ 20m) dismantling project involving two 12,000 tonne, Oscar 1 class submarines, featuring six bow torpedoes and 24 side-mounted SSN19 cruise missile silos. RWE NUKEM, in turn, engaged Keel Marine to bring marine expertise to the project. Both RWE NUKEM and Keel Marine were on hand at this year's recent IMarEST Stanley Gray lecture to relate their experiences in Russia.
After extended negotiations with the Russian Ministry of Atomic energy (now RosAtom), two Severodvinsk yards - Sevmash and Zvezdochka - were settled on for the project, with the contract placed with Sevmash, but the focus of the project at Zvezdochka. David Wells, RWE NUKEM principal consultant, said that the dismantling of the two 145 m long, 18 m beam submarines had taken place more or less in parallel. Spent nuclear fuel had already been unloaded by the time the project got under way, he said. Colin Crimp, Keel Marine technical director, said that project managers set up the contract in such a way that it would feature 24 milestones, whose passing would trigger the handing over of DTI money.
Breaking the project down in this way helped to ensure its progress. Even if a milestone was missed between monthly visits paid by the project managers, the milestones were close enough together to make it possible to catch up by the next appointment. In an aside, Mr Wells also noted that the way the contract had been placed with one yard while executed at another had brought the two rival yards together in a way that could foster an important strategic partnership later on.
The practicalities of dismantling involved using the Zvezdochka yard's flooding dock, with both submarines set down on opposite raised platforms that emerge when the dock is drained. The bow and stern sections were removed in a relatively conventional manner, leaving a three-compartment unit containing the nuclear reactors and their biological shield in its central chamber, with a compartment either side to provide buoyancy.
The structure was welded shut for buoyancy. After recoating and the installation of mooring points and safety lights, the reactor compartments were transported to Saida Bay. Mr Crimp said that, apart from the nuclear component, one of the more challenging parts of the work involved the extraction of the titanium bed plates installed in the machinery spaces of each submarine.
Dismantling and nuclear decommissioning were not pretty but the removal of the titanium was a technical challenge that the shipyard had not attempted before, he said. The rewards of scrapping the submarines are being accrued by RosAtom. In this particular project, these included 72 tonnes of copper, 2,400 tonnes of mild steel and 2,000 tonnes of high tensile steel. Mr Crimp said that the revenues generated would be channelled into other nuclear legacy projects. Toxic waste, including mercury from lamps and asbestos, was also recovered.
Each submarine also generated 10 containers of solid radioactive waste, which was inserted into the mid section of the three-compartment unit alongside the reactors before sealing. The project was completed in January 2005 but has been quickly followed by another UK-backed scheme that involves dismantling a Victor III class submarine at the Nerpa Shipyard, where part of a E300m ($ 357m) donation from Germany is being used to refurbish dismantling facilities, repair a floating dock and provide a computer-assisted monitoring system for Saida Bay.
RWE NUKEM and Keel Marine have also been subcontracted to provide consultancy as part of Norway's contribution to the dismantling of another Victor III submarine at Nerpa. Elsewhere, Japan is funding the dismantling of a second Victor submarine in the Russian Far East, while Canada is contributing heavily to further dismantling projects, and France is investigating involvement.
On July 1, the Kremlin press service reported, President Vladimir Putin signed a new law ratifying a co-operation agreement with Italy on the disposal of Russian nuclear submarines and the safe handling of radioactive wastes and spent fuel. Every spring, when the ice melts, the capsules floating in Saida Bay are subject to a process Mr Crimp likened to an "angle grinder".
"This is not a long-term solution," said Mr Crimp. "The long-term interim solution is to cut the three sections down to one central chamber and store it on the land-based pad. Floating storage is the beginning of a process and the move to a single, land-based compartment is a priority."
2. Russian Shipyard Unloads Nuclear Fuel From Two Submarines
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The crew of the Imandra service floating base has successfully completed an operation to unload spent nuclear fuel from the reactors of two nuclear submarines.
Work to unload the fuel was carried out in the harbour of the Nerpa shipyard (Snezhnogorsk, Murmansk Region) where two nuclear submarines of Victor-3 class had been delivered, Mustafa Kashka, deputy director of the Atomflot enterprise, told Interfax.
He recalled that the recycling of two nuclear submarines under the project 671RTM (code-name Shchuka, Victor-3 under NATO classification) was being financed by Great Britain and Norway.
"The reloading container with the reactor's fuel channels was successfully delivered to the storage facility of the Imandra floating base and after that the crew's specialists transferred the fuel channels to special cases and put them in a special storage facility that has a high degree of biological protection," Kashka said. "All technological demands connected with the removal of nuclear fuel were strictly observed and there were no deviations from the procedure," he said.
More than 1,500 spent heat-generating fuel assemblies are currently stored at Imandra, including 84 cases with spent heat- generating fuel assemblies recovered from the Kursk nuclear submarine. At the time Kursk became the eighth nuclear submarine of the Northern Fleet from which spent nuclear fuel was removed using the Imandra floating base.
The Imandra was built by the Baltiyskiy shipyard in 1981 and is used for complex servicing of vessels that have nuclear power plants and for work with spent nuclear fuel. The base is equipped with a special storage facility for cases containing spent heat-generating assemblies. It consists of six autonomous tanks filled with distillates that are cooled by their own built-in refrigerators.
The Imandra can also receive and store solid and liquid radioactive waste. It has special equipment for deactivation.
1. Georgia Reports Four New Nuclear Smuggling Attempts
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Georgia has foiled at least four attempts to smuggle highly enriched uranium out of the former Soviet country over the last two years, a senior nuclear official said.
"There were four attempts at smuggling highly enriched uranium (HEU) via Georgia during the last two years," Soso Kakushadze, head of Georgia's Nuclear and Radiation Safety Department at Georgia's Ministry of Environment, told Reuters.
"In all these cases, Georgian security officials prevented attempts to smuggle HEU through Georgia to other countries. The HEU had been brought to Georgia from abroad," he said on Thursday.
When enriched to low levels, uranium can be used in nuclear power plants to generate electricity. But when enriched to very high levels it can be used in atomic weapons.
Kakushadze did not say from what countries the HEU had been brought or whether the uranium seized was weapons grade.
According to the U.N. nuclear watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the last confirmed case of illicit trafficking of HEU was in July 2001 in Paris, where three people were looking for buyers for half a gram of weapons-grade HEU.
Prior to the newly reported incidents, the last smuggling attempt Georgia reported was in September 2000 and involved a small amount of plutonium, which can also be used in weapons if it is pure enough.
In Vienna, a Western diplomat close to the IAEA, said agency officials only learned about the new incidents during a recent inspection trip to Georgia.
The diplomat said the news was disturbing because they could indicate there is an active black market for HEU.
"It's unclear why the Georgians waited so long to tell the IAEA," said the diplomat on condition of anonymity.
Kakushadze said Georgia did not want to report the HEU seizures before as officials were investigating these cases.
Nuclear experts say countries that might be secretly developing nuclear weapons or militant groups would be eager to buy up HEU. They also say that the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union opened the door to rampant nuclear proliferation, due to poor security of many stockpiles of atomic material.
QUESTIONS ABOUT ABKHAZIA
An IAEA team arrived in Georgia last month to try to assess the status of Georgia's nuclear material. Due to security fears, the IAEA experts did not to go to the breakaway region of Abkhazia, though Vienna diplomats say they would like to go there as soon as possible.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, several IAEA officials said there were questions about whether some 9 kg (20 lb) of plutonium might have gone missing from a nuclear institute in Abkhazia.
However, one IAEA diplomat said this week any such plutonium may have come from Soviet nuclear generators that use plutonium to produce heat and electricity in remote locations.
If the plutonium comes from such a generator, it would not be pure enough to use in atomic weapons and would not represent a significant health hazard, the diplomat said.
"But it's good to be sure," the diplomat said, adding that the IAEA wanted to account for all potentially lost, missing or stolen nuclear materials in Georgia and other ex-Soviet states. (Additional reporting by Louis Charbonneau in Vienna)
At the close of the Gleneagles Summit this week, Russia will take over leadership of the Group of Eight, the "super club" of countries that in theory are driving the world economy and political system. Even prior to Moscow's ascension, that notion had been coming in for increasing derision. What about India and China? commentators have been asking. And why should Canada, hardly an international powerhouse, get a seat at the table?
These critical comments have only grown louder at the fact that Moscow will be in the lead for 2006. Russia has been sliding backward in economic reform and democratic development. Its president is consolidating power, its security services are in the ascendant, and its own businessmen are afraid to invest in its future. How can Russia, in these circumstances, lead the G8 through a successful year? Is it not even possible that Russia's leadership of the group will undermine the G8 so that its future will be doomed?
Russia, it must be noted, is not responsible for all of the G8's problems. Trans-Atlantic tension was the serious disease two years ago, and today quarrels among European Union leaders over their abortive attempts to adopt a constitution and a budget are causing the biggest problems. Under these circumstances, the G8 will unlikely have the necessary cohesion and leadership to change. But that is no reason to shut down the group or to forget about its original goal: to provide top-level, focused and committed leadership to resolve issues that threaten the world's progress and security.
So, given Russia's own serious limitations, what can the Kremlin do in the coming year to ensure that the G8 agenda is advanced? We can forget about economic and democratic progress. Russia simply has neither the authority and legitimacy to lead in these areas, nor the international experience, nor the desire. Security is another matter, however, particularly in the urgent fight against nuclear terrorism.
Since the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia has confronted the threat that the vast Soviet nuclear arsenal -- tens of thousands of warheads and over 1,000 tons of fissile material -- would fall prey to terrorists or rogue leaders intent on acquiring the illicit means to attack countries that they consider to be their enemies. The G8 recognized this threat in 2002 when it formed the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction. Russia was its first focus and, at the same time, a founding member.
Over the past three years, Russia has opened its doors to the Global Partnership, making it possible to accelerate the destruction of nuclear attack submarines, speed up the protection of nuclear warheads and materials, and ensure that the vast Soviet stockpiles of chemical weapons are at last being destroyed. Russia is a leader in this effort, despite the fact that it is also an aid recipient. It is working to ensure better management of the projects and to put its own resources on the table.
Beyond the Global Partnership, Russia has taken a surprising international lead on several issues of nuclear security and nonproliferation. For example, the fuel deal that the Federal Atomic Energy Agency has worked out with Iran's Atomic Energy Agency is a first step toward efforts to develop an international system of guaranteed nuclear fuel services. U.S. President George W. Bush argued in an important speech in February 2004 that most countries developing nuclear power should depend on internationally guaranteed supplies of fuel rather than developing their own means to produce fuel and reprocess it.
This is precisely the concern that the international community has had about Iran's efforts to develop fuel enrichment facilities, which has led to serious disagreement with the Tehran government and to threats to refer it to the UN Security Council. Amid this controversy, Russia had established a fuel services deal with Iran, essentially a pilot project for the very international system that Bush proposed.
Another example is the return of highly enriched uranium to safekeeping. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union and United States competed to establish research reactors in countries around the world, supplying them with highly enriched uranium fuel, or HEU, that could be used in experiments or to produce medical isotopes -- at the time, very worthy peaceful uses of the atom. In the ensuing years, however, many of these research reactors have become isolated in unstable states or, in some cases, have ended up in conflict zones, where their HEU -- the most convenient material for an amateur bomb-maker -- could fall into the hands of a nuclear terrorist.
Russia and the United States have begun in recent years to redress this dangerous Cold War legacy. Over the past few years, Russia was instrumental in removing nuclear material from the Vinca reactor site in the former Yugoslavia, and from Latvia and Romania. Moscow is currently working with Uzbekistan, the site of recent unrest, to remove HEU from the research reactor in Tashkent.
In each of these cases, Russia has been an important international leader. And so it could be for the G8. If Russia chooses to use its G8 leadership to advance the fight against nuclear terrorism and proliferation, then some important progress can be achieved in the coming year. For one thing, Russia should be able to clear away some of the bureaucratic brushwork that continues to plague implementation of the programs. More importantly, however, it will be able to set the pace and direction of the programs for years to come. Some important goals should be accelerating the pace of HEU "clean-out" from research reactors in vulnerable sites throughout the world. The current 10-year deadline could be cut to four if the Russians pushed for it. This would speed the efforts to keep easy bomb-making material out of the hands of terrorists. Next, it is crucial to establish a model for an international fuel-services program, drawing on the experience of Russia's "pilot project" with Iran. This should include mechanisms for incorporating other international fuel providers into the equation, as well as providing critical assurances, in the form of transparency and other safeguards, to the international community. Finally, the G8 members could develop a clear agenda for action if the six-party talks ever "get to yes" with North Korea. Russia was involved in the early stages of the North Korean program and trained North Korean scientists. Thus it is well-positioned to think in advance about how to work with North Korea on shutting down its nuclear program, decommissioning its sites and engaging its nuclear scientists.
The G8 has many problems to deal with, including questions about its membership and legitimacy at a time when the world is a much different place than when it was created. The G8's problems, however, do not doom Russia to a failed leadership year any more than do Russia's failings as a modern state. If the Kremlin adopts an agenda of critical interest to the whole international community -- nuclear security and the fight against nuclear terrorism --it has a strong potential to succeed.
2. Analysis: Next Year, G8 Should Focus on Non-Proliferation
United Press International
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While world leaders focus on climate change and aid to Africa this week at the Group of Eight summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, some experts say nuclear security and nonproliferation are the highest priorities and need to be the focus when Russia assumes leadership of the group in January.
"Too little attention has been paid to nonproliferation issues in the run-up to the G8 summit," Michï¿½le Flournoy, senior advisor for the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Wednesday in a press conference at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "To prevent weapons of mass destruction from falling into the hands of terrorists is really the no. 1 security threat that we face today."
While Russia may not be able to lead next year's G8 summit in discussing issues of democracy and aid to the extent that a country like the United Kingdom can, it can easily lead discussions on expanding nonproliferation efforts and addressing nuclear security issues, said senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment Rose Gottemoeller, who collaborated with the U.S. National and Russian Academies of Sciences in preparing recommendations for strengthening U.S. and Russian cooperation on nonproliferation strategies.
"It is a critical issue, not just for Russian security but for U.S. and Russian relations and for global security," Blake Marshall, executive vice president of the U.S.-Russia Business Council, told United Press International. "It certainly deserves top tier presidential attention, the focused efforts of both countries bilaterally and the entire G8 community throwing its weight behind it."
Partnership between the U.S. and Russia is essential for resolution of legal and bureaucratic disputes that have stalled nonproliferation progress, said Lara Holgate, vice president of the Nuclear Threat Initiative.
"If Russia is not behaving in a way that creates partnership with the rest of the world then these problems cannot be solved, not only because of the large quantity of the materials that are in question and weapons in terms of their security but also because of Russia's critical relationships, technical capabilities and other roles around the world," she said.
Disputes between the U.S. and Russia over the level of liability protection for U.S. government contractors working on nuclear disarmament projects in Russia is one reason for the lack of recent progress, Gottemoeller said.
Tension has also mounted over U.S. attempts to access sensitive military sites in Russia in order to ensure nuclear disarmament is occurring and money is being properly spent, Gottemoeller said. The report recommends that the U.S. government tailor their access requests in Russia very narrowly and acknowledge Russia's security needs.
"Russia faces its own security challenges and whatever regulations it needs to put in place to limit access would be understandable, Marshall said. "But that access limitation shouldn't shut down the demilitarization and nonproliferation programs."
The delays caused by the disputes have left nuclear materials susceptible to terrorist activities, Flournoy said, adding that there has been evidence of al-Qaida attempts to infiltrate Russian sites. "We should try to move as quickly as possible to resolve the access disputes and ensure that we can get security upgrades to all the Russian facilities that have nuclear materials," she said.
Currently only 46 percent of vulnerable nuclear material sites in Russia have received essential security upgrades, Flournoy said. "Let's at least let those initial upgrades be applied at all facilities so we have a slightly higher level of confidence even if we can't get immediate access to verify that work."
Nuclear nonproliferation was last highlighted at the G8 summit in Kananaskis, Canada in 2002, during which a Global Partnership of countries was created to protect against the threat of terrorist acquisitions of weapons of mass destruction and related technologies. Partnership countries then set a goal of pledging $20 billion to fund disarmament projects in vulnerable nuclear sites including Russia, but to date only $17 billion of that money has actually been pledged, Flournoy said.
"Progress has hit something of a plateau in recent years, and there is an awful lot of remaining important work to be done," Marshall said.
Gottemoeller urged Russian president Vladimir Putin to use his tenure as G8 chairman to strengthen Russia's role as a partner in nonproliferation efforts and funding.
"It is time that the United States and Russia work fully as equal partners in setting priorities, managing joint projects and putting resources on the table," she said.
3. Russian Legislators Ratify Weapons Destruction Accord With Canada
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Legislators in Russia's upper house of parliament Wednesday ratified a Russian-Canadian accord that will help Russia destroy its chemical weapons and decommission nuclear submarines.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said that under the agreement, which was signed last June and ratified by the parliament's lower house on Friday, Canada will initially provide Russia with about $300 million Cdn.
The agreement is part of the Group of Eight wealthiest nations' program on fighting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Under the program, Canada has agreed to provide a total of $1 billion over 10 years.
Russia, which has the world's largest stockpile of chemical weapons, signed the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1997, pledging to eliminate its arsenal within 10 years. However, Russia won international agreement to postpone the deadline until 2012 because of a lack of funds.
4. By Ratifying Chemical Weapons Disposal Agreement Russia, Canada Will Boost Bilateral Cooperation Under Global Partnership
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By ratifying bilateral agreement on the destruction of chemical weapons Russia and Canada will enhance their capabilities under the Global Partnership Program against the Spread of the Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction, the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.
The ministry said Russia and Canada had launched practical cooperation under the agreement already. Russia's three nuclear powered submarines are being dismantled at the moment and a facility to dispose chemical weapons is being built in the village of Schuchye, Western Siberia, the projects that are being implemented with Canada's help.
On Wednesday, the Federation Council, the upper house of parliament, took a decision to approve the federal law on the ratification of the agreement on cooperation with Canada in destroying chemical weapons, disposing Russia's decommissioned nuclear submarines, and in the sphere the inventory, control, and the protection of nuclear and radioactive materials. The agreement was signed on June 9, 2004. The lower house, State Duma, had ratified the document already.
The agreement lays a legal basis necessary to get Canada's free aid which will help Russia destroy chemical weapons and dispose decommissioned nuclear subs.
These are the priority areas for Russia under the Global Partnership Program being implemented by the Group of Eight most industrialized nations who are thereby trying to prevent weapons and materials of mass destruction from being acquired by terrorists and those who shelter them. Canada promised to allocate one billion Canadian dollars on the program within 10 years. After signing the agreement it reaffirmed the decision and said it would provide 300 million Canadian dollars on chemical disarmament and the same amount on the disposal of submarines as the first step.
5. Radio Interview with Political Analyst Alexei Arbatov on G8 Summit Agenda (excerpted)
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It is not for nothing that the G-8 is rendering assistance to Russia. I would like to remind you of this. Many people are asking, what's the use of G-8 for us? Formally, we are not getting anything from it. Well, we are getting something. A couple of years ago in Kananaskis, we got a global partnership program under which Russia expects to get 20 billion dollars in aid from the US and the European Union.
Anchor: In what shape, in the shape of investments or some kind of paid-for programs?
Arbatov: In the shape of assistance, assistance in getting rid of excess nuclear weapons, dismantling of discarded nuclear submarines, liquidation of chemical weapons stockpiles, weapons that cannot be used but pose an immense environmental threat.
Russia doesn't have that amount of money. Anyway, we are not going to earmark 20 billion from the budget, we will get that money from the US, Western Europe and Japan. The programs have been launched, but some technical issues are still not resolved. The programs are already underway with individual countries. For example, Italy has provided a billion dollars. How are we going to get that assistance? In the shape of technology, direct cash and the transfer of know-how, in other words, they will provide advisory services. But a lot of aid comes in the shape of technology. For example, we get means for safe storage of nuclear materials.
Anchor: But in this case I understand that Russia is getting help but the donors are also helping themselves because it is a danger to all, not only to Russia. So, it's just that it happens to be in the common interests.
Arbatov: Of course, they wouldn't have done it contrary to their interests. The question is how to interpret interests. Russia is not helping them to do the same. And yet the US too has 30,000 tons of chemical weapons.
Anchor: So, we may talk about splitting the cost.
Arbatov: Aren't we in danger if an ecological disaster happens there? Aren't we in danger if nuclear weapons or materials are lost in other countries and fall into the hands of terrorists? We are in danger, perhaps, in even greater danger than others. But we are not assisting them. So, it is not just a question of their own interests, it also has something to do with the state wisdom and foresight on their part. And we have to be grateful to them for this.
1. Russia Concerned Over Unsuccessful Efforts to Establish MidEast Nuclear-Free Zone
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Russia supports efforts to establish new nuclear-free zones, and is concerned that the process in the Middle East has stalled, Russia's ambassador to the United Nations said in Geneva Thursday.
Leonid Skotnikov told a disarmament conference, "We are concerned that efforts to create a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East have stalled, particularly given the complicated military and political situation in the area."
According to Skotnikov, the issue is equally important for South Asia (namely, India and Pakistan, two nuclear countries), as it could be instrumental for promoting regional security and stability.
Skotnikov said Russia welcomed a draft agreement on a nuclear-free zone that had been coordinated with Central Asian nations.
Moreover, Russia is ready to settle the remaining issues regarding the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Treaty as part of the dialogue between nuclear countries and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which comprises 10 nations.
Skotnikov said Russia also advocated an idea to establish a committee on security guarantees for non-nuclear nations within the disarmament conference.
"Russia is ready to develop a global agreement on negative security guarantees, if it is to take into consideration our military doctrine and national security concept," he said.
According to Skotnikov, security guarantees are particularly important in the context of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.
"Russia invariably supports NPT non-nuclear states' commitment to securing such guarantees," he said.
2. Russia to Use G8 Summit to Improve Non-Proliferation Regulations
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A Kremlin source said Wednesday that Russia intended to use the G8 summit to fulfill the priority task of improving non-proliferation regulations.
"It is very important that other (non-G8) countries do not view these regulations as dividing lines between industrialized and developing countries," the source said. "On the contrary, these regulations must unite countries to attain the common goal of preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD)."
He added that effective barriers must be established to prevent terrorists from obtaining WMD or their components.
Moscow expects the summit to focus on the nuclear programs of Iran and North Korea.
"We shall press for a resolution of the Iran problem through dialogue and talks," the Kremlin representative said. "As far as North Korea is concerned, we are going to pursue the line of resuming talks with Pyongyang."
1. Are Iranians Getting Secret Assurances from Russia?
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It is interesting to see Iran dilly-dallying on the nuke issues with the Europeans and the Americans. According to some think tanks, Iran may be getting secret assurances from the Kremlin. Russians are eager to expand their roles in Iranian nuclear power generations. Taking the clue from Russia, Iran is not sure if it really needs to listen to the Europeans or the Americans.
Iran is "not very optimistic" that upcoming talks with the European Union regarding Tehran's nuclear program will yield a solution, Gholamreza Aghazadeh, head of Iran's atomic program, said July 5. Aghazadeh said that the Europeans had been counting on a more moderate president elect, and that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's election made the prospects of difficult negotiations more likely. Iran has said that it does not fear the prospect of referral to the U.N. Security Council and has begun researching nuclear fusion.
Russia is interested in building more power units at the Iranian nuclear facility at Bushehr, Sergei Stepashin, head of the Russian Audit Chamber, said July 5. Stepashin also said Russian and Iranian officials discussed whether Russia would take part in the construction of "second, third, and fourth units" while visiting Bushehr's first unit. Stepashin added that 500 additional Russian specialists were expected to join the team already at Bushehr.
Russia would like to expand the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material so it can be applied to activity using nuclear material inside a country, the Russian Foreign Ministry announced July 5. The convention provides for the safety of nuclear material during international transportation to prevent it from falling into the hands of terrorists and other criminals.
2. Iran to Continue Nuclear Cooperation With Russia ï¿½ Official
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Iran intends to continue cooperation with Russia in the nuclear energy sector, Mohammad Khoshchehreh, an aide to president-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, told Interfax in Moscow on Friday.
Khoshchehreh is currently visiting Moscow and has held meetings with leaders from the State Duma and Federation Council on prospects for continued nuclear cooperation. In particular, he met with Federal Atomic Energy Agency chief Alexander Rumyantsev.
"There are no concerns that Russia might be ousted from the Iranian power industry market," said Khoshchehreh, who is a parliamentary deputy specializing in relations with Russia. Iran is satisfied with how Russian specialists are constructing the Bushehr nuclear power plant, he said.
3. Iran: EU, Russia and U.S. Have Similar Apprehensions
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Iran's nuclear programs are one of the headaches of world politics. It is on the agenda of every summit, be it G8 or EU or any other forum.
The U.S., EU, Russia, to name but a few, are equally concerned about Iran's nuclear programs. The difference lies in their approach to the problem. Washington, for one, subjects Iran to heavy pressure that goes beyond Iran's nuclear effort and affects its home policy as a whole. The U.S. can afford this because it has nothing to lose: its economic ties with Iran are not a big deal. But both EU and Russia maintain close economic cooperation with Iran.
Moreover, Moscow helps Tehran develop its civilian atomic power engineering under IAEA control. But U.S. tireless criticism of Moscow, fuelled by this cooperation, has recently come to a halt.
This is explained by many factors. To start with, Washington knows only too well that because of proximity to Iran Russia is much more interested in keeping Tehran away from nuclear weapons than the U.S. and even Europe. Furthermore, Washington understands that Russia cooperates with Iran in civilian atomic programs under the vigilant eye of the world community. Once barred from this cooperation Iran will seek clandestine ways for developing its nuclear power engineering. This is exactly why the European Three (France, Germany, and Britain) are discussing a possibility of transferring some nuclear technologies to Iran. Needless to say, this is being done with U.S. approval.
This issue has a different aspect. Many experts in Russia and the West believe that Iran has two nuclear programs. Vladimir Sazhin, a Russian expert in Oriental studies, writes in an article published on the site of the Middle East Institute, that these programs "are not directly linked with each other. The first one deals with civilian atomic power engineering. The second program is the one that causes concern of the public in Russia and the rest of the world". Sazhin makes a point that once Iran creates an infrastructure for the full nuclear fuel cycle, it will gain a technical capability for joining the nuclear club.
He writes: " Russia and some EU countries, including Germany, believe that Iran has not yet made a final political decision on nuclear weapons development. But in all probability, its leaders are unanimous in the view that Iran should by all means develop a scientific, technical and industrial infrastructure that would allow it to start the production of nuclear weapons when such a need arises, and in the shortest time possible."
In this context Moscow, Brussels and Washington are equally interested in preventing Iran from gaining nuclear weapons and are acting at one. At the Kaliningrad summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in early July French President Jacques Chirak emphasized that "our views on non-proliferation coincide". He approved of Russia's policy towards Iran and expressed his wish that Tehran and the European Three would find a solution on non-proliferation in a calm and normal atmosphere.
Indicatively, during his trip to Iran Audit Chamber Chairman Sergei Stepashin said that Russia is interested in building more power units at the Bushehr atomic power plant, but "the question is what the current Iranian leaders imply by the new nuclear strategy of the Islamic Republic."
"If Russia, Europe and Iran coordinate their positions on Iran's nuclear programs, there will be no obstacles to Russia's continued participation in the construction of other power units," concluded Stepashin.
To sum up, when it comes to international security, Iran cannot exploit the obvious contradictions and economic rivalry between EU, U.S. and Russia in the region. The economy is a different issue. Russia and a number of European nations are trying to find a peaceful solution of the Iranian problem exactly because see Iran as a promising partner in many economic spheres, such as atomic and electric power engineering, oil and gas industry, and transit of commodities. But a failure to resolve the Iranian nuclear program issue will inevitably slow down economic cooperation, no matter how much this may contradict the interests of Moscow and Brussels.
The head of Russia's nuclear power agency and an Iranian parliamentary delegation met Thursday to discuss cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy."A whole range of issues related to Russian-Iranian cooperation, including in the peaceful use of nuclear power, was discussed at the meeting," the Russian Federal Nuclear Power Agency said in a press release.
The Iranian delegates arrived in Russia on July 5 at the invitation of a group in the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament. The group maintains contacts with the Iranian parliament.
Russian experts are finishing the construction of the first energy unit of the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran. With a capacity of 1,000 MW, the plant will be commissioned next year and Russia is expected to supply up to 80 metric tons of nuclear fuel to the plant, an Agency official said. "The fuel will be supplied to Iran when it is technologically necessary," he said.
Spent fuel will be kept for three or four years in a special storage near the plant's radiation zone. "There will be no access to the fuel as there is no access to the radiation zone in water-cooled reactors," said Alexander Rumyantsev, the head of the Nuclear Power Agency and cochairman of the Russian-Iranian commission on trade and business cooperation. "When enough fuel for a shipping package is accumulated, it will be sent back to Russia."
He said the spent fuel could not be sent back to Russia immediately. "This is difficult due to the high radioactivity and temperature of the spent fuel," Rumyantsev said, before adding that both would fall significantly in three years, which meant the fuel could be transported.
Rumyantsev said the spent fuel would be placed in nuclear waste storages, where it would remain for another ten years after it arrives in Russia. "After reprocessing, 95% of the fuel will be used in the energy cycle again. The 5% of the waste left over will be vitrified and stored," Rumyantsev said.
The Iranian delegation will leave Russia on July 10.
5. Russia Possible Partner to Build 20 Nuclear Power Stations in Iran
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Russia is a likely partner in a plan envisaging construction of 20 nuclear power stations in Iran, according to a senior member of Iran's parliament.
"A plan has been approved in parliament obliging the government to study the possibility of building 20 nuclear power stations ... Various countries, including Russia, can participate and we hope Russia will continue to cooperate with us on this question," Kazem Jalali, head of the Iranian parliament's foreign affairs committee, said Friday.
Jalali was speaking during a visit by an Iranian delegation to the Russian capital aimed at developing economic ties between the two countries.
Russia is constructing Iran's first nuclear reactor at Bushehr, part of a technological cooperation agreement with Tehran in 2002 that opened the way for construction of up to five reactors over the coming 10 years.
Both the United States and Israel have objected to the building of the Bushehr reactor, which could be turned on next year, as they claim Iran is secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons and that having such a facility will be a proliferation risk.
1. Russia to Complete Tests on New Sea-Launched Ballistic Missile in 2006
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Russia plans to complete its experiment on the new Bulava intercontinental ballistic missile system by the end of 2006, the Russian navyï¿½s commander-in-chief, Vladimir Kuroyedov, was quoted by Itar-Tass as saying.
The research and manufacture of the new missile have been going on as scheduled, and only after the process is 70 percent completed can the related departments decide when to hand the missile over to the navy and other troops, Kuroyedov reported.
The solid-fuel Bulava missile, which is under a three-year testing program, is capable of carrying up to 10 individually guided nuclear warheads, with a range of up to 8,000 kilometers.
The Bulava (SS-NX-30) is the submarine-launched version of Russiaï¿½s most advanced missile, the Topol-M (SS-27) solid fuel ICBM.
The SS-NX-30 is a derivative of the SS-27, except for a slight decrease in range due to conversions in the design for submarine launch. The SS-27 is 21.9 meters long, far too large to fit in a typical submarine.
The largest previously deployed Russian SLBM was the R-39 / SS-N-20 STURGEON, which was 16 meters long. The Bulava will have a range of no less than 8,000 kilometers, and reportedly features a 550 kT yield nuclear warhead.
1. Floating Nuclear Power Plants Easy Prey for Terrorists
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Russiaï¿½s branch of the environmental organisation Greenpeace has formally warned authorities that increased terrorist threats will make the floating nuclear power plants (FNPPs), which the Russian Agency for Atomic Energy (Rosatom) is currently planning for Southeast Asian customers, sitting ducks for possible terror attacks.
The notion of building floating nuclear power plants and selling them to countries like Indonesia, Thailand and China have been a pet project of Rosatom for many years. The Ministry for Atomic Energy, Rosatomï¿½s successor, has long viewed floating nuclear power plants as a solution to bringing energy to far flung regions along Russiaï¿½s arctic coast and to other regions around the world. Environmentalists and many security experts have denounced the idea as sure ecological hazard and a target for terrorist organisations.
The Russian branch of Greenpeace addressed the Federal Security Service (FSB?the sucessor organisation to the KGB) with a request to ban the building FNPPs as their poor security makes them a ï¿½prime choiceï¿½ for potential terrorist attacks. The Greenpeace report?released just hours before the tragic terrorist blasts in London on July 7th?was prepared for world leaders currently meeting at the Gleneagles, Scotland summit of the G8. The summit is making strides toward combating greenhouse gases, but is also viewing the expansion nuclear power as one possible solution to reduce their emissions.
Environmental groups like Bellona and Greenpeace are firmly opposed to the notion of substituting current energy sources with expanded nuclear power, especially when so many non-polluting renewable sources have not been sufficiently explored and because nuclear power represents incalculable risk to the environment and international security.
ï¿½Climate change cannot be solved by developing the nuclear industry. Moreover, every nuclear object is a target for terrorismï¿½, Vladimir Chuprov of Greenpeace Russia told Bellona Web.
At present Rosatom is implementing the FNPP construction of project on a lease-to-own basis - provided the plants are never transferred to a new owner - to countries in Southeast Asia.
The FNPPs are designed to have a 70-megawatt capacity and are based on the reactor type used in Soviet icebreakers. Licenses for the reactors were issued by the Russian nuclear safety serviceï¿½FSETAN, the successor of Gozatomnadzor - in December 2004.
Thailand and Indonesia have demonstrated a keen interest in FNPPs. Negotiations about financing the project ï¿½ a $150m loan from China ï¿½ are currently underway in Beijing. In October 2003 Rosatom signed a Protocol of Cooperation with South Korea for the potential purchase of an FNPP as well.
Enriched weapon-grade uranium (containing 40 percent uranium-235) is the fuel used for FNPPs According to engineering standards, some 960 kilograms of uranium will be stored at each floating plant.
ï¿½Exploitation of FNPPs in Southeast Asian countries without intensified security measures?the project does not provide for the armed escort of Russian navy for the whole term of their exploitation?creates a serious threat of terrorism and piracy on the high seasï¿½, reads the address sent by Greeenpeace Russia to the FSB.
ï¿½Even if there were any armed escort, there is no 100 percent guarantee of plantsï¿½ protection.ï¿½
In its report to the FSB, Greenpeace refers to a long list of terrorist groups, active in Southeast Asian countries, which they based on a report by the US Department of State entitles ï¿½Global Terrorism in 2003,ï¿½ as well as a report on the same by the Russiaï¿½s General Prosecutor's Office 2003.
ï¿½This project is clearly a risky venture,ï¿½ says Bellonaï¿½s Alexander Nikitin, a former Russiaï¿½s Navy nuclear submarines inspector turned environmentalist.
ï¿½Safety shouldnï¿½t be neglected for the profits Rosatom wants to get from selling the FNPPs to the troubled regions. Such Rosatom activities simply violate the idea of non-proliferation.ï¿½
Under a 1992 agreement, Russia as a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, is banned from selling nuclear technology to states that do not submit to international controls of the International Atomic Energy Agency. In Nikitinï¿½s opinion, leasing the FNPPs to the Southeast Asian countries doesnï¿½t solve the problem, as it would be difficult to ensure their security in such conditions.
According to the Greenpeace, there are three likely terrorist scenarios that could be perpetrated again FNPPs:
1. Destruction of the containment of an FNPP and using nuclear materials from the plant as a ï¿½dirty bombï¿½ for contaminating a locality possessing an FNPP. 2. Robbery of an FNPP in order to withdraw weapons uranium. The further route of the radioactive materials is hardly possible to trace. The uranium could then be transformed into a nuclear warhead, both in Russia or any other country of the world that has sufficient technology to do so. 3. Robbery of an FNPP to obtain radioactive materials for producing a ï¿½dirty bombï¿½.
In Russia, Rosatom plans to build experimental demonstrational FNPPs before selling them abroad and moor them at the Sevmash docks near Severodvinsk in the Arkhangelsk Region in Russiaï¿½s Northwest and at a nuclear submarine base at Vilyuchinsk in the Kamchatka region in Russiaï¿½s far east.
The FNPP at Sevmash, which would float on a barge in the White Sea off Severodvinsk, should be ready by 2010, according to Rosatom spokesman, Nikolay Shingaryov. Rosatom decided to start constructing a floating nuclear power plant at Severodvinskï¿½s Sevmash shipyard in 2006. The construction schedule should be developed by October 21st 2005.
A November 2000 order by former Russian Nuclear Energy Minister Yevgeny Adamov required ordered the creation of all the documents needed for producing FNPPS and obtaining all necessary licences licenses. Now, the design works are completed, the licenses received, and the estimated cost of the project is about $175m. But according to Russian environmentalists, the actual sum will be higher.
The local Severodvinsk parliament plans to consider the problem of funding before the end of 2005, Regnum news agency reported this week. If the first FNPP project were successful, it is planned, that Sevmash will produce FNPPs to be transported in other regions, for example, at Vilyuchinsk.
Near Vilyuchinsk there are two geothermal plants, recently launched into operation, and this region ï¿½ which earlier suffered from the lack of electricity ï¿½ now has enough energy thanks to these plants.
But nonetheless, in 2004 the Vilyuchinsk head Alexander Markman and Yevgeny Kuzin, the head of Malaya Energetika, Ltd, signed a requirement specification for the project of mooring an FNPP at the Krasheninnikova bight of Avachinskaya bay near Vilyuchinsk.
Plans to moor an FNPP at Pevek in Chukotka have also been discussed, but a public environmental assesment, initiated in 2000 by local NGO Kaira-club, contained many errors and legal violations. That ï¿½and the lack of effective demand in the region ï¿½ forced Rosatom abandon the Pevesk site.
ï¿½FNPPs in Russiaï¿½s White Sea would be a threat for the Arctic and the worldï¿½s ocean,ï¿½ reads a separate report ï¿½Floating nuclear power plants in Russiaï¿½ posted by Bellona Foundation on its web-site.
On June 30, at a round table in the State Duma, Russiaï¿½s lower house of parliament, Yevgeny Velikhov, head of the Kurchatov Institute, said that ï¿½installing a floating nuclear power plant may resolve regional energy problems. The European North, Eastern Siberia, and the Far East demand special attention."
The Greenpeace report to the FSB retorted that: ï¿½For Southeast Asian countries, the project with FNPPs will indicate a step toward militarization which will cause a negative impact on the economy of these countries and will worsen the foreign policy situation in the region.ï¿½
Greenpeaceï¿½s Chuprov added that: ï¿½Rosatomï¿½s policy conflicts the position of the countryï¿½s leaders on combating terrorism. These actions of the nuclear lobby threaten the future of the country. Greenpeace calls to reject the project on construction of floating NPPs and to focus on development of renewable energy sources and energy saving,ï¿½
ï¿½It is better invest in solar and wind energy rather than produce time bombsï¿½.
The Rosatomï¿½s FNPPs project is the first project of this kind to be used in the civil sphere. Only the US Army once possessed a 10 megawatt FNPP called Sturgis that operated a MH-1A reactor mounted on the modified hull of a Liberty ship that was moored in the Panama Canal zone. Installed in 1968, its operation was ceased in 1976. The project proved to be ineffective due to high maintenance costs.
1. Rosatom and European Bank Agree on Funding for Nuclear Environment Projects in Russia
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The Russian Federal Atomic Energy Agency (Rosatom) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) signed an agreement Thursday on financing nuclear environment projects in Russia under the Multilateral Nuclear Environment Program (MNEPR).
"The agreement stipulates that the EBRD will finance on a gratis basis technical support to buy, install and put into operation equipment and infrastructure necessary for the preparation and implementation of nuclear environment projects in Russia under the MNEPR," Rosatom said.
Deputy Head of Rosatom Sergei Antipov and Director of the EBRD's Nuclear Safety Department Vince Novak signed the agreement.
1. States Agree on Stronger Physical Protection Regime
International Atomic Energy Agency
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Delegates from 89 countries agreed on 8 July to fundamental changes that will substantially strengthen the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM).
IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei welcomed the agreement in saying "This new and stronger treaty is an important step towards greater nuclear security by combating, preventing, and ultimately punishing those who would engage in nuclear theft, sabotage or even terrorism. It demonstrates that there is indeed a global commitment to remedy weaknesses in our nuclear security regime."
The amended CPPNM makes it legally binding for States Parties to protect nuclear facilities and material in peaceful domestic use, storage as well as transport. It will also provide for expanded cooperation between and among States regarding rapid measures to locate and recover stolen or smuggled nuclear material, mitigate any radiological consequences of sabotage, and prevent and combat related offences. The original CPPNM applied only to nuclear material in international transport.
Conference President Dr. Alec Baer said "All 89 delegations demonstrated real unity of purpose. They put aside some very genuine national concerns in favour of the global interest and the result is a much improved convention that is better suited to addressing the nuclear security challenges we currently face."
The new rules will come into effect once they have been ratified by two-thirds of the 112 States Parties of the Convention, expected to take several years.
"But concrete actions are already taking place around the world. For more than 3 years, the IAEA has been implementing a systematic Nuclear Security plan, including physical protection activities designed to prevent, detect and respond to malicious acts," said Anita Nillson, Director of the IAEAï¿½s Office of Nuclear Security. The Agencyï¿½s Nuclear Security Fund, set up after the events of 9/11, has delivered $19.5 million in practical assistance to 121 countries since 2001. Under this programme fund, countries have been helped to carry out the very kinds of things which are called for under the amended CPPNM, whether it be in terms of helping States identify their vulnerabilities, training their staff or in carrying out physical protection work.
The IAEA will also actively assist Member States in their efforts to ratify and implement the obligations under the CPPNM.
2. Article of Spokesman Alexander Yakovenko on the Gleneagles G8 Summit in the Newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
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Since 1997 (the Denver Summit) Russia has been a full-fledged member of the Group of Eight, an informal association of the world's leading industrialized, democratic nations which hold a key place in the present-day system of international political and financial-economic relations.
Faced with the profound transformation of international relations and the formation of a new world pattern, the role of the G8 as an important factor of world politics and as an effective mechanism of searching for, and agreeing upon solutions to central international problems is becoming especially pronounced. It is the unique informal character, flexibility and the absence of institutional-bureaucratic rigidity that enable the Group of Eight to discern new trends in world development at a very early stage and find realistic and effective schemes for resolving the fundamental problems of today.
Among them: the growth of the world economy, the ensuring of sustainable human development in the conditions of globalization, including the war on poverty, health care and education improvements, the protection of the environment.
The G8, however, is not seeking to supplant the UN and its Security Council or become their duplicate and even less so rival. On the contrary, it arranges its relations with the "official" institutions of multilateral governance of world development, including the IMF, IBRD, OECD, IAEA and WTO, on a mutually complementary basis.
For Russia, participation in the Group of Eight is one of the important areas of realization of its national interests with reliance upon multilateral instruments of influence and a tool for accelerating its integration into the world economy, establishing favorable external conditions for the economic and social development of the country and strengthening its statehood and democratic institutions.
Over the last few years the positions of our country in the G8 have grown noticeably stronger. The decision of the Summit in Kananaskis (Canada, June 2002) to hand over the G8 Presidency functions to Russia in 2006 opened a qualitatively new stage on this road and confirmed the partners' acknowledgement of the growing role of Russia in the contemporary world.
The initiative-laden work of Russia in the Group of Eight contributes to strengthening national and international security. Russia is giving special emphasis to counterterrorism activities.
The decisions of the Kananaskis, Evian and Sea Island Summits have created a solid basis for long-term actions to suppress the financing of terrorism, to identify persons and entities involved in terrorist activities and to prevent terror acts involving vehicles.
The Counterterrorism Action Group, set up in Evian, is gathering momentum. This year it has focused its work on rendering assistance to individual regions, primarily Africa, as well as the Middle East. The Group's plans include discussing similar aid to Southeast Asia. Russia concentrates its efforts primarily on antiterrorist assistance to the members of the CIS, CSTO and SCO.
Among the general recent achievements of the G8 is the effective, coordinated work of all the members of this forum that has enabled adopting by consensus the International Convention on the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism, initiated by Russia. This convention establishes prerequisites for completing the UN work on the Draft Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism.
Our country has taken an active part in the elaboration of the Group of Eight decisions called upon to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction and related materials and technologies, and to reinforce the existing nonproliferation regimes. Among such measures are the adoption of the Action Plan on Securing Radioactive Sources (2003), the Action Plan on Nonproliferation (2004), the recommendations to strengthen the control functions of the IAEA, and the political work with a wide circle of states to prevent leaks of double-use material and technologies.
Of particular significance to Russia is the G8's initiative adopted in 2002 for deploying the Global Partnership against the Spread of Weapons of Mass Destruction. It presupposes raising up to 20 billion dollars before 2012 for these purposes, which was confirmed at Sea Island.
In accordance with Russia's priorities of engagement under the Global Partnership a number of agreements have already been concluded on cooperation in the liquidation of chemical weapons and dismantling of decommissioned nuclear submarines.
Participation in the Group of Eight is conducive to establishing necessary conditions for continued pursuit of economic reforms in our country. Based on the G8 partners' support, our foreign debt has been restructured to the total sum of about 70 billion dollars.
Since the decision of the Kananaskis Summit on Russia's G8 Presidency the credit rating of our country has increased significantly, this facilitating access for domestic business circles to foreign financial markets and stimulating the growth of foreign investment in the Russian economy.
At the same time for objective reasons, primarily of an economic character (the "quantitative" parameters of our economy - the total volume of GDP, per capita income, etc.), Russian representatives do not participate to a full extent in discussing issues in the course of regular meetings of the finance ministers, their deputies and the financial sous-sherpas of the G8. Our country's dynamic economic development in the last few years (it leads the G8 in average yearly rates of GDP growth), the growth of its gold and foreign exchange reserves (according to this indicator, Russia is among the world's ten leading countries), its responsible policy in world energy markets, and its precise observance of the foreign debt repayment schedule contribute to the further strengthening of the positions of Russia in the financial and economic sphere of activity of the Group of Eight. The growth of the national economy enables our country to build up its participation in the donor efforts of the Group of Eight, aimed at solving the acute problems of the poor countries of the world.
At the regular summit of the Group of Eight opening today at Gleneagles, UK, the Russian side intends to vigorously assist in arriving at weighty mutually acceptable decisions.
I would like to note that the G8, for all the diversity of approaches towards various summit agenda questions, has significantly more common interests and points of contact than differences.
Close attention is apparently going to be paid to issues related to the nuclear dossiers of Iran and the DPRK. In respect of Iran Russia lays emphasis on the removal of the problem through negotiation and dialogue, including that between Teheran and the European Troika. As to the DPRK, we are pursuing a line on bringing Pyongyang back to the negotiating table and resuming the "six-party" process.
The Gleneagles Summit will precede the start of the passage to Russia of the G8 Presidency functions in 2006. For its part, Moscow is getting ready to worthily receive the baton of Presidency, the successful conduct of which is seen by us as one of the central objectives of our foreign policy.
3. Report on Nuclear Security Cooperation Between Russia and the United States
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
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The cochairmen of the Senior Interagency Group (SIG) on Nuclear Security Cooperation, Federal Atomic Energy Director Alexander Rumyantsev and Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman, have presented to Presidents Vladimir Putin and George Bush the first progress report on the checklist of tasks approved at the Bratislava summit in February. While the security of nuclear facilities in the two states, as was noted at the summit, meets current requirements, these requirements must be constantly enhanced to counter evolving terrorist threats.
The SIG has outlined specific measures in all the principal areas as defined by the Russian and US Presidents in Bratislava. Priority timelines to return fresh and spent highly-enriched uranium fuel from US- and Russian-designed research reactors in third countries and to convert these reactors to low-enriched uranium and to develop other alternative fuels have been designated. A Joint Action Plan for security upgrades at Rosatom and Ministry of Defense facilities has been developed. It is planned to conduct bilateral workshops on sharing "best practices" and establishment of a "security culture" as well as to undertake a tabletop exercise on emergency response to nuclear incidents this autumn.
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