Thousands of former weapons scientists in Russia and the former Soviet Union remain underemployed, natural targets for any terrorist seeking out nuclear, chemical or biological weapons expertise.
These scientists present an uncertain threat to national security. A Los Alamos business is engaged in providing viable peaceful alternative employment to some of these former weapons scientists.
Molly Cernicek is the Vice President of Marketing and Business Development for VOLIUS, a small Los Alamos business that has been working with former weapons scientists in Russia on fiber laser research and development.
VOLIUS, which opened a subsidiary in Russia last year, began working with the TRINITI Institute in Russia in early 2005 with funding from the Department of Energy's Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention (IPP) program.
The IPP mission is to enhance U.S. national security by engaging scientists once responsible for building Soviet nuclear, biological and chemical weapons in peaceful commercial pursuits.
VOLIUS employs 25 full-time Russians and, with Sandia National Laboratories as Volius' IPP partner, the project is supporting an additional 25 scientists at TRINITI to work on optical fiber, component and prototype development, assisting VOLIUS with specialty fiber research, component development and commercialization.
SNL provides technical contribution and project management oversight.
Cernicek first heard about the IPP program during her time with Los Alamos National Laboratory. Cernicek and her Russian-born partner at VOLIUS were attracted to Russia because of the government's prior investments in laser development, its educated workforce and its developing appetite for new technology.
Cernicek said VOLIUS is "combining technology development and component manufacturing in Russia with marketing, product customization and application development in the United States, utilizing economic advantages in both of these countries."
The next phase in VOLIUS' plan is closer to home - to create high-tech jobs in New Mexico after the Russian factory increases its manufacturing output.
Senators Pete Domenici and Jeff Bingaman, New Mexico, both support the VOLIUS project. Domenici was one of the founding fathers of Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) legislation.
Under the Department of Defense's CTR efforts, the U.S. has worked with Russia to secure over 6,500 nuclear warheads and 250 tons of nuclear materials.
These efforts have also made progress in finding peaceful, alternative employment for thousands of former weapons scientists. Bingaman has been a strong supporter of nonproliferation programs for over a decade.
Cernicek is confident about the expanding market for fiber lasers.
They offer significant advantages over existing lasers, including increased application, increased power capacity, and significantly lower lifetime costs.
Cernicek is proud of the IPP project as the engineers at TRINITI, Sandia and VOLIUS are working on cutting-edge technology that will directly result in both new products and new job opportunities for Russians and Americans.
In the process of doing so, Cernicek's small Los Alamos company is doing its share to fight the war on terrorism and strengthen our national security.
1. Biological Weapons Not Linked With Outbreak of Tularemia in Russia
(for personal use only)
A US pensioner wrote that an online journal that there were certain opportunities in several regions of Russia to conduct a warfare with the use with biological weapons
A message appeared on one of US forums on Thursday, saying that an outbreak of tularemia, or rabbit fever, in the Nizhni Novgorod region of Russia could be caused with an escape of biological weapons. The message appeared soon after Russian authorities declared that the outbreak of the infectious diseases had been localized in the region.
The author of the message, whose posts had been subsequently published on the PHXNews website, said that there were several dangerous objects, particularly secret defense laboratories, situated in the above-mentioned region. A US pensioner, named Gene Finneranan, wrote that the outbreak of tularemia in several Russian regions could be caused with either an accidental or deliberate discharge of biological weapons. The 71-year-old resident of New Jersey published the information about it on a personal webpage on August 25.
In spite of the fact that the pensioner presented inaccurate information about the borders of Russian regions and objects, which are supposedly situated there, the pensioner's data were quoted by PHXNews the same day, on August 25. Several Russian media outlets reproduced the information about the outbreak of tularemia the next day, on August 26.
According to Gene Finneranan, 96 people have been diagnosed with tularemia in the Nizhni Novgorod region of Russia. Fifty-six incidents of the disease have been registered in the neighboring Ryazan region. The press service of the regional department of the Russian Emergency Committee confirmed the information.
The US pensioner wrote that there were certain opportunities in the Nizhni Novgorod region to conduct a warfare with the use of biological weapons. The pensioner said that there was a special laboratory in the town of Chapayevsk, which was used to destroy biological weapons. Chapayevsk, however, is situated not in the Nizhni Novgorod, but in the Samara region of Russia; local authorities planned to build a plant to destroy chemical, but not biological weapons there.
ï¿½The structure is used in the town of Dzerzhinsk of the Nizhni Novgorod region for the production of chemical weapons, particularly lewisite,ï¿½ the American pensioner wrote. The department of convention problems of chemical and biological weapons of the Russian agency for ammunition told Regnum news agency that the talks about the tularemia outbreak because of an escape of chemical weapons were not true to fact. ï¿½This is nothing but a fantasy. First off, lewisite possesses an absolutely different destructive capacity. Furthermore, tularemia is a local natural disease. It naturally appears during the summer season when the number of rodents increases. Rodents are the major carriers of the disease. No chemical weapons have anything to do with the outbreak of tularemia,ï¿½ a spokesman for the department said.
ï¿½Any attempts to connect the outbreak of the disease with activities of biological laboratories are absolutely groundless,ï¿½ a senior specialist of the department for non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction of the Institute of World Economics and International Relations, Natalia Kalinina said. The specialist referred to the decree from the Russian president signed in 1992. The document prohibited any scientific developments connected with biological weapons. In addition, the institute presents comprehensive data about the development of biologically protective programs to the UN, the expert said. Incidents of tularemia are absolutely natural, the expert assured, especially in southern regions.
Tularemia is a potentially serious illness that may occur naturally. It is caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis found in animals, especially rodents. Symptoms of tularemia include: sudden fever, chills, headaches, diarrhea, muscle pains, joint pains, dry cough, progressive weakness. People can also catch pneumonia and develop chest pain, bloody sputum and can have trouble breathing and even sometimes stop breathing, Centers of disease Control and Prevention website says. Tularemia can be spread in different ways: from bites of an infected insect, or eating or drinking contaminated food or water. One can also be infected through skin cuts or damages mucous membranes. If the disease penetrates into the huiman body through skin, it usually develops a bubonic form of the sickness. Tularemia can be treated and cured with antibiotics.
2. U.S. Website Suspects Bio Leak as Central Russia Hit by Rabbit Fever
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An outbreak of rabbit fever, or tularemia, a rare dangerous disease, registered recently in the Volga provinces of Central Russia, could have been caused by a leak from biological warfare facilities present in the area, a U.S. Website surmised Thursday.
Earlier this week, Russian news agencies reported on dozens of cases of tularemia registered in Russia since early August. From Aug. 4 as many as 96 people including 15 children sought medical assistance at hospitals in Dzerzhinsk, Nizhny Novgorod and Ryazan.
Earlier this week, the authorities said the outbreak had been successfully contained.
However, reports on recent cases of tularemia caused concerns in the U.S. where some media outlets surmised the outbreak may have resulted from a leak of deadly substances from biological warfare facilities present in the affected provinces.
ï¿½What makes it notable is that tularemia is a fairly rare disease. Thus, the Ryazan area had only four known cases in 2004,ï¿½ the PHXNews Website wrote.
ï¿½The other factor that makes these outbreaks notable is the presence of biological warfare facilities in the region, especially in the Nizhny Novgorod area. Those are, an idle biological weapons destruction facility in Chapayvevsk, Nizhny Novogorod, the Gorokhovets bioweapons storage facility in the Vladimir region and a facility used for the production of chemical weapons in Dzerzhinsk, Nizhny Novogorod.ï¿½
On this basis, the site concluded that Russia was still involved in biological warfare research including the use of tularemia; some sort of accidental release of weaponized tularemia may have occurred. PHXNews also did not rule out that the leak may have resulted from a theft or terrorist activities.
1. Fuel Removed From Russian Nuclear Sub After 'Unique' Heating Of Reactor
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A unique operation to unload the reactor of an Alfa-class nuclear submarine has been successfully carried out at Sevrao's (nuclear waste management company) coastal depot in the closed administrative and territorial entity of Gremikha.
Sevrao told Interfax that "the dry dock at the coastal base in Gremikha is the only place in Russia where fuel can be unloaded from submarines of this class".
What made the operation on the submarine so unique was the fact that "in order to unload the reactor, it had first to be heated up. An extremely powerful boiler was installed for this purpose," the agency's source explained.
Personnel were specially trained for the operation. The operatives were tested by members of an interdepartmental commission in Moscow, made up of representatives of Rosatom (Federal Agency for Atomic Energy), the Defence Ministry and leading scientific institutes.
Gremikha is one of two coastal depots for the storage of the Northern Fleet's spent nuclear fuel. It is also the biggest storage base for decommissioned nuclear submarines, mostly of the first generation.
There are no access routes by land to this base, which is situated approximately 350 km from the entrance to Kola Bay. Links with the "mainland" are maintained solely by air or by sea.
There are about 800 irradiated fuel assemblies, containing about 1.4 tonnes of composite fuel, in storage at the base, as well as six active zones from nuclear reactors with liquid-metal coolants taken from Project 705 nuclear submarines (Alfa class). Furthermore, another 19 nuclear submarines, whose 38 reactors have not yet had irradiated nuclear fuel unloaded, are berthed at the base.
In 2001 the coastal depots at Gremikha and Andreyev Bay were transferred from the Russian navy to the Northern Federal Enterprise for the Management of Radioactive Waste (Sevrao), which was set up to provide infrastructure for the disposal of nuclear submarines, the handling of radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel, and for rehabilitation work.
Gremikha has now been recognized by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development as a priority project in the programme of environmental rehabilitation. France, in particular, is willing to invest around 900m euros in the programme for environmental rehabilitation of the coastal storage depot for spent nuclear fuel.
1. How To Effectively Confront Nuclear Threat From Terrorists
Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Harry Reid
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In the first of last fall's presidential debates, George Bush was asked a big question ï¿½ and he had a ready answer. When asked what was "the single most serious threat to American national security," he said it was "weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a terrorist network."
He was right. But in the tough work of tracking down loose nuclear weapons, stopping the proliferation of nuclear technology and clamping down on the emergence of new nuclear powers, actions don't just speak louder than words, they are the only things that count.
That's why we find it so troubling that a recent report by the joint House-Senate National Security Advisory Group found that when it comes to the threat the United States faces from allowing the world's worst weapons to fall into the hands of the world's worst terrorists, the administration has been so passive.
The president sent us into war with Iraq under the justification of capturing Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, but as we all now know, no such weapons were found. But in the places where we know these weapons can be found, the administration's policy has been one of "hands off" and "it's someone else's problem." With a gathering storm around us, the report, written by former Defense secretary William Perry and other national security experts, details that the administration has done far too little to confront this clear and present threat.
Weapons on the loose
The administration has allowed a situation where both terrorists such as Osama bin Laden and the nuclear materials they seek are on the loose. It is only a matter of time before they find one another. The reality of this peril is not fiction.
Al-Qaeda's captured operations chief has told interrogators that the terrorist network has the ability to obtain nuclear material. Bin Laden has obtained a fatwa from a Saudi cleric providing a justification for the murder of 10 million American "infidels" with a nuclear weapon. And CIA Director Porter Goss has testified that al-Qaeda might already possess radioactive material.
When the threat is this great, it is not enough to list the ways the Bush administration has been letting America down. We need to show a way to move to a real policy of national security and strength.
Democrats propose a three-part plan:
ï¿½First, track down and secure loose nuclear weapons and material. Russia alone has enough usable material for 80,000 nuclear weapons, and less than half of its nuclear weapons and materials have been protected from theft. We need to move from a policy of assistance to a partnership so that Americans and Russians work together on a plan against this common threat.
ï¿½Second, stop nations such as North Korea and Iran, which on President Bush's watch have greatly expanded nuclear programs, from joining up with the evil ideology of al-Qaeda.
In the past three years, North Korea has withdrawn from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, kicked out the international inspectors monitoring its nuclear activities, and claimed to have reprocessed fuel rods yielding enough plutonium for several nuclear weapons. Iran is working on processes that can produce fuel for nuclear weapons. And neither regime has shown much hesitation in working with terrorists.
Yet, with both Iran and North Korea, the Bush administration has sat by for years and let others deal with the threat. We can no longer outsource national security to the European Union or nations such as China.
We propose a program of "carrots" combined with an old-fashioned, American "big stick." That means pursuing diplomacy and trying to convince these nations to act in their own best interests. But it also means backing that up with a real commitment to use whatever form of pressure is most likely to produce results.
ï¿½Third, if Iran and North Korea continue on their course, their actions could set off a nuclear arms race in the world's two most dangerous regions ï¿½ the Middle East and Asia. This highlights the need to revitalize the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty for a new century to account for new technology and new terrorist networks that operate without direct ties to any nation. The threat of terrorists unleashing a nuclear strike on an American city is here, and it is all too real.
The Bush administration needs to do far more to guard the USA from a nuclear attack. The president's words point in the right direction, but it is deeds that the times ï¿½ and these threats ï¿½ demand.
1. Russian Officials Split on Reasons for Detention of U.S. Senators
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Officials have given controversial explanations for the recent plane delay that held up two U.S. senators at a Russian airport. The aircraft was delayed in Perm because the local airport does not service flights under the international Open-Skies Agreement, the Russian Federal Security Service said.
Another report, however, says the senators were detained after they refused to obey border guardsï¿½ demands, RIA Novosti reported Monday.
Later in the day the Foreign Ministry of Russia issued a statement in which it expressed regret over the incident. ï¿½We regret that a misunderstanding has taken place and the discomfort experienced by senators,ï¿½ the statement reads.
At the same time, the statement said that it would be incorrect to say that the aircraft carrying U.S. senators was detained in Perm. ï¿½The departure of the U.S. Air Force aircraft that carried the senators and the accompanying persons was delayed as local border guard authorities had questions concerning some formalities (as the U.S. party was leaving for Ukraine) and also the status of the flight was checked. After the diplomatic status of the flight was confirmed, the senators left Russia,ï¿½ the ministryï¿½s statement said.
RIA Novosti quoted an FSB official as saying: ï¿½The aircraft carrying the U.S. senators was delayed because Perm airport, where they arrived from Moscowï¿½s Sheremetevo airport, is not included in the Open-Skies Agreement.ï¿½
The deputy head of the border checkpoint at Bolshoye Savino airport, Captain Maksim Zhaleyev, told Interfax the U.S. senators were detained at Perm airport because they had refused to obey border guardsï¿½ demands.
ï¿½On 28 August, the U.S. senators were detained before boarding the aircraft because they had refused to obey the demands of the border guards. The flight was delayed for three hours,ï¿½ the officer said, refraining from further comments.
Richard Lugar of Indiana and Barack Obama of Illinois visited Perm in the framework of the Russo-American agreement on assisting the implementation of the Nunn-Lugar program under which the U.S. is helping Russia to dismantle and scrap nuclear weapons.
The Russian Federal Security Serviceï¿½s directorate for Perm Region has told RIA Novosti that information about the reasons for the senatorsï¿½ detention will be provided later.
The Ekho Moskvy news agency quoted the press service of the U.S. embassy in Moscow as saying that the incident was caused by ï¿½a misunderstanding on the part of the local authoritiesï¿½.
The U.S. Senate delegation led by Senator Richard Lugar was detained for three hours at the Perm airport on Sunday as it tried to leave the country.
The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Richard Lugar of Indiana, and its newest member, Barack Obama of Illinois, began a weeklong tour of former Cold War weapons sites Friday to inspect the progress of dismantlement and highlight what they fear is a growing global threat from stolen nuclear material.
Poor security at aging nuclear, chemical and biological weapons facilities across the former Soviet Union has been a longstanding worry. But Lugar said he was encouraged that Russia recently agreed to open warhead sites to three U.S. inspections, which would allow for specialized training, stronger oversight and a better idea of what risks lie inside.
"It has broken a logjam of misunderstanding," said Lugar, who for more than a decade has been traveling here at least once a year to measure the advances that countries have made in eliminating their nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. "This was an important breakthrough."
Sen. Obama's first foreign trip
Obama, making his first foreign trip as a senator, said until the weapons were destroyed or properly safeguarded, the U.S and other nations were vulnerable to a nuclear attack. Neither the government nor the public, he said, views the threat with sufficient urgency.
"People can sort of put it off, and it's not confronting you day-to-day in an immediate sort of way," Obama said. "The consequence of inaction can be enormous, but I think it's one of those issues where until it's too late, you don't see a problem."
Obama, a Democrat, and Lugar, a Republican, also will travel to Ukraine and Azerbaijan. And they will meet with British Prime Minister Tony Blair next week in London.
Lugar, along with former Sen. Sam Nunn of Georgia, authored the Nunn-Lugar Act in 1991 to begin dismantling large stockpiles of weapons in the former Soviet Union. Since then, the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program has deactivated or destroyed nearly 7,000 nuclear warheads and hundreds of missiles and bombers.
But nearly 15 years after Nunn-Lugar, some goals of the program have not been realized, and funding has fallen short. The Russian government has given security upgrades to only a dozen weapon sites, officials said, leaving the majority of locations untouched and their weapons not properly cataloged.
"The Russian government is in denial to the nuclear threats that exist everywhere," said Laura Holgate, who managed portions of the Nunn-Lugar program at the Pentagon and Department of Energy during the Clinton administration. "They think that everything is fine in Russia, that no one could possibly steal from us."
Nonetheless, Lugar said he started the tour Friday with a "sense of goodwill," though he acknowledged numerous challenges with Russian officials.
"There were years where the friendship was up or the friendship was down," he said, "but this has been a program that has been solid in terms of our understanding."
Although a new economy was born in Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union, the Russian government hasn't invested much in dismantling weapons. At a news conference in Moscow, Lugar was asked why it is still necessary for the U.S. to carry the bulk of the program's expense.
"That question is raised frequently by members of the House and Senate of the United States and probably by a number of American taxpayers who would hope that perhaps Russia would assume more and more of the responsibility and expense," Lugar said. "It's true that at this point the Russians have not been forthcoming with the level of funds that would maintain the pace of the programs, so we are going to be visiting about that."
The weapons dismantlement, he said, is too significant to change course.
"Being involved in cooperative reduction really implies expense on our part, which we had felt, in terms of the United States security, was money well spent," Lugar said. "And we think the momentum of the program is important to continue."
Another topic of joint concern between the two countries, Obama said, is trying to prevent the spread of the avian flu. So far, the disease has killed about 60 people in Asia, and health experts warn that the strain could be spreading to Russia.
Obama, who several months ago was among the first U.S. senators to raise concern about avian flu, said he fears it is becoming a pandemic.
3. U.S.-Russian Efforts to Protect Arsenal Gain Steam
Los Angeles Times
(for personal use only)
Joint U.S.-Russian efforts to boost security against potential terrorist attacks on Russian storage sites for nuclear warheads have accelerated in recent months, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said here Friday.
Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.) credited the stepped-up pace of activity to a new commitment by Russian President Vladimir V. Putin after a February summit with President Bush in Bratislava, Slovakia.
"We've had an agreement for inspections at the warhead storage sites that has broken the logjam of misunderstanding there," Lugar said at a news conference. "This is an important breakthrough."
Under the 1991 Nunn-Lugar Act, which established the Cooperative Threat Reduction program, the United States has spent billions of dollars to help dismantle nuclear warheads, ballistic missiles, bombers, submarines and other weapons in former Soviet states.
But joint efforts to prevent terrorists from raiding Russian storage facilities and obtaining nuclear weapons largely have faltered. The U.S. sought to monitor how its funds would be used to upgrade security, something Russia had been unwilling to allow, Lugar said at the news conference and in a subsequent interview.
In June, however, Russia presented the United States with a list of 25 to 30 nuclear warhead storage sites and said that three U.S. inspections would be allowed at each, Lugar said.
"Terrorists have become tougher," Lugar said. "This is a Russian-American response to toughen the targets too. We're not asleep either."
Lugar said that until the February summit, "things were ï¿½ certainly not going very fast in this area."
"I think that President Bush and President Putin, taking a look at the war on terror ï¿½ and this is the point we're making anecdotally about how terrorists sometimes are becoming more proficient in their craft ï¿½ I think the two presidents recognized we needed to upgrade so we were more proficient in our protection," Lugar said.
"The Russians in the past had placed severe limitations upon inspection of the storage sites, so this was an important breakthrough," he added. "The Russians in essence are saying, 'Your privileges to inspect are not unlimited, but at least you have three opportunities.' "
Lugar is in Russia with Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) to visit several sites associated with the program. They are scheduled to visit a nuclear warhead storage facility in Saratov, 450 miles south of Moscow, and a site near Perm, about 725 miles east of the Russian capital, where mobile SS-24 and SS-25 intercontinental ballistic missiles that once threatened the United States are being destroyed.
On previous visits, Lugar said, he has run into situations where Americans were denied access to U.S.-funded activities.
"There might be a commander who is just uncooperative, who wasn't really eager to see Americans around there," Lugar said. "So we had to argue diplomatically that, after all, this was cooperative, we were providing contractors and various other support, so we felt that for the American taxpayers we ought to take a look. This was not always agreed to in the old days or more recent days."
Lugar recalled visiting a Russian warhead storage facility about five years ago.
"Literally we saw the warheads sort of like coffins, lying side by side, with labels at the top indicating ï¿½ when the warhead was constructed, what kind of servicing, how long it might have efficacy," he said.
Lugar said he believed it was important for the momentum of the program to continue the work, citing as an example U.S. help in construction of a plant in the Siberian town of Shchuchye to destroy chemical weapons.
"We believe it's in our best interests to continue to work with the Russians and other countries to fund the Shchuchye project, which I understand will finally be completed in about 2008, because there's still 40,000 metric tons of nerve gas or other dangerous chemical weapons out there that Russia has pledged to destroy but physically found it's unable to do so by itself," he said.
On Friday, Lugar and Obama visited a Moscow-area agricultural laboratory where Soviet-era research included finding ways to counter a possible U.S. biological weapons attack.
"This is a biological facility dealing with agricultural situations, and there are dangerous pathogens. They're scattered over many rooms, many floors, many buildings," Lugar said. "So the idea, which the Russians fully support and are enthusiastic about, is that we rebuild a certain section or fortify these rooms so they will contain in a fairly small area the pathogens, and thus secure the place."
Yesterday, two American senators ï¿½ Republican Richard Lugar, chairman of Foreign Relations Committee of US Senate, and his colleague, Democrat Barak Obama, started their official visit in Moscow. After visiting Tripoli where they talked with Moammar Quaddafi, and Ireland, where the senators participated in a conference about the US-Russian relationships, Lugar and Obama will spend three days in the Russian Federation. Besides the talks in Moscow, they will visit the nuclear warheads storage facility in Berezovka near Saratov to familiarize themselves with the security condition of the facility, and the plant in Kambark (Udmurtia), where chemical weapons are being destroyed.
Barak Obama, a 44-year-old African-American senator from Illinois, came to Russia mostly to find out who and supports the skinhead movement in Russia and how. However, Richard Lugar, 73, a politician who ran for presidential in 1996 and has served in the Senate since 1976, came to Moscow with big list of questions.
Richard Lugar is one of the co-authors of Nunn- Lugar program, which was approved by the US Congress in 1991 and has a goal to eliminate biological, nuclear and chemical weapons and its delivery systems in Russia and post-Soviet space. Lugar is very proud of the fact that he was one of the co-founders of the program. His Web site emphasizes how effective this program was and that the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rica herself supports the program. Lugar openly declared during the Secretary of Stateï¿½s confirmation hearings that Rice supports his program. Kommersant sources in Congress said that "the old man pulled out almost with the pliers a promise from Rice to support his program." "Lugar needed that to influence the senators, who think that Russians destroy for American money old junk and create new weapons," the same sources continued.
For the years that Nunn-Lugar program existed, there were 6,760 nuclear warheads and 789 missiles destroyed in Russia and the CIS. However, it does not mean that Lugar is happy with current events. He expressed his displeasure on April 13 2005 during the confirmation hearings in his committee for Robert Joseph as deputy Secretary of State for Arms Control. Lugar complained at time that Russia wanted to put tax on the money that the American government is sending to dismantle Russian weapons of mass destruction. Joseph promised to resolve the situation just as some Russian politicians visited Washington this year.
Who made Lugar mad?
Lugar's displeasure with the way his own program is going in Russia (Congress officials blame the Russian government and Ministry of Defense) was not the only reason for the senatorï¿½s harsh speeches against the Kremlin that he gave this year. The veteran senator's list of complaints is very similar to the Russian complaints that Moscow high-ranking officials and President Vladimir Putin himself addressed to the representatives of the US administration. Actually, one can see the change of the White Houseï¿½s attitude toward Russia just by following Lugarï¿½s speeches.
Lugar started with Ukraine and Georgia. Let's remind that the senator arrived to Kiev in 2004 as a head of the US delegation, which was observing presidential elections. The senator was outraged by Moscow's open support of Yanukovich. Once back in Washington, the senator was telling everybody that he was under constant surveillance in Kiev.
After Ukrainian and Georgian elections, relations between White House and Kremlin cooled off and Lugar made his first harsh statements against Moscow. That happened on Feb.17, 2005, during the Foreign Relations Committee session "Russian retreat from the democratic principles." Then, Lugar said that "Kremlin unsuccessfully tried to influence the results of elections in Ukraine and support the separatists regions in Georgia." In the same speech, Lugar remembered also "Russian support of Byelorussian President Lukashenko's attempts to stay at power and Moscow's help to the Central Asian government in its fight with democratic reforms." He tried to keep the balance with the phrase of "the importance of Russia with which the USA must have constructive relationships," but then, Lugar still said that these relationships "cannot be developed positively while in RF the basic freedoms are not being respected." As an example, Lugar presented the case of ex-head of YUKOS Mikhail Khodorkovsky. The senator pointed out the "Kremlin policy of suppressing a political opposition and worries of foreign investors." In the same speech, Lugar joined many of his colleagues in their appeal to the US President George Bush to talk about these subjects with Vladimir Putin in Bratislava.
The Slovakian split
There were a lot of articles written about what happened in Bratislava. It is important to measure how much worse the relations between Russia and the US had become after the meeting of two presidents and what steps the White House decided to take because of that. The Congress and part of the State Department tried to make the White House to come out with maximum sharp criticism of external and internal policy of Kremlin. Lugar, after watching these arguments for some time, decided to join his position with the one of the Administration -- not publicly display irritation with Kremlin actions.
On June 21, Senator Lugar held second hearings - "The USA politics toward Russia." There he accused Putin of "reinforcing an authoritarian regime, his control over the media and retributions to the political opponents." However, Lugar went against the demands "to isolate Russia." In his speech Lugar tried not only to follow the Administration policy but also to remind everybody about the "necessity to cooperate with Moscow in the field of dismantling the weapons of mass destruction." In other words, he came back to his program. Also, in Lugar's speech there was a phrase that "only 4 percent of Russian oil is being exported in US."
"It looks like that in the end of June the White House still had a hope to continue the energy resource dialog with Kremlin," one of the experts in Washington told Kommersant. "By the middle of the summer, this hope disappeared, and that created the negative reaction from the sizable part of the Administration. The Russian attempts to remove American bases from the Central Asia increased this irritation," the expert said.
On July 27, during the confirmation hearings of William Burns as new US Ambassador in Moscow, Lugar did not say a word about oil riches of Russia. White House is maintaining the same policy that Lugar created in the Senate. There were no harsh public statements 'It is hard to expect that Lugar during his trip in Moscow will start to publicly criticize Putin," the source in Congress told Kommersant. "However, after the Russian trip, the senator will fly to Kiev to meet with Viktor Yushenko, and then - to Baku to see Ilkham Aliev." According to the source's opinion, this route should be understood by Kremlin.
Making his first foreign trip since he joined the Senate, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., leaves Wednesday to visit nuclear and biological weapons destruction sites in Russia, Ukraine and Azerbaijan.
Obama will be traveling with Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar, R-Ind. Obama is a member of the committee.
Their eight-day trip, which is being paid for by the federal government, includes a stop in England where they are scheduled to meet with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
After spending most of the year setting up his offices, Obama said he expects to do more foreign travel. He hopes to travel to Iraq and Israel in January and to Africa next year.
"During the campaign, I indicated that our single, biggest foreign policy priority has to be keeping nuclear, biological and chemical weapons out of the hands of terrorists," he said. "Obviously, a major potential source of weapons of mass destruction are the former Soviet states.
"This is a wonderful opportunity for me to accompany Sen. Lugar, somebody who has worked tirelessly on dismantling nuclear weapons, and it gives me an opportunity to visit some of the sites, talk to some of the leadership in Russia, Ukraine and Azerbaijan. ..."
indicate the interests of the American people in securing these weapons and reducing the threat to all the countries involved, and educate myself in terms of how we can further promote policies that can reduce the threat," he said.
Obama is being accompanied by his communications director, Robert Gibbs, and foreign relations aide, Mark Lippert.
In 1991, Lugar and former Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Ga., authored the Nunn-Lugar Act, which established the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) program, to help the former Soviet Union dismantle its nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Lugar and Obama will be reviewing the status of the program and looking for ways to expand its scope.
Since the program was established, it has helped deactivate or destroy 6,760 nuclear warheads, 587 intercontinental ballistic missiles, 483 ICBM silos, 32 ICBM mobile missile launchers, 150 bombers, 789 nuclear air-to-surface missiles, 436 submarine missile launchers, 549 submarine launched missiles, 28 nuclear submarines and 194 nuclear test tunnels.
In Russia, Obama and Lugar will tour a nuclear weapons storage facility in Saratov and tour an SS-24/SS-25 mobile missile elimination site in Perm. They'll also meet with Russian military officials and other leaders.
On Monday, they are scheduled to meet with Ukraine President Viktor Yushchenko and other officials.
On Tuesday, they plan to tour a conventional weapons site in Donetsk, Ukraine. They are considering ways to expand the CTR program to include the elimination of heavy conventional weapons.
On Wednesday, they are scheduled to meet with Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev and to talk separately with opposition leaders in the November elections.
On Thursday, they plan to meet with Blair in London.
1. Switzerland Agrees to Russian Ex-Minister's Simplified Extradition to Russia
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Swiss authorities have agreed to extradite Russia's former nuclear power minister, Yevgeny Adamov, arrested in Switzerland in May at U.S. request, to Russia, but said the decision would depend on the U.S. position, the Swiss Justice Department said Monday.
Folco Galli, the spokesman for the department, said Swiss authorities had granted Russia's extradition request last Thursday, August 25, on the basis of a statement by Adamov.
Adamov, 65, agreed to be prosecuted by Russian authorities for the charges brought against him by the U.S. Department of Justice, Galli said.
Swiss authorities have asked the U.S. whether it was ready to withdraw its extradition request and hand the case over to Russia.
Galli mentioned two possible scenarios. If the U.S. withdraws its extradition request and hands the case over to Russia, Swiss authorities will most likely decide in favor of Adamov's extradition to Russia. If the U.S. does not withdraw its request, Swiss authorities will have to decide whose extradition is a priority, Russia's or America's.
The Swiss Justice Department has no deadline for a final decision. Adamov's lawyers are also entitled to appeal the decision in the federal court of Lausanne, Switzerland.
The U.S. filed for Adamov's extradition on June 24, 2005. U.S. authorities accuse Adamov and his business associate, U.S. citizen Mark Kaushansky, of misappropriating $9 million that the American government had allocated for Russia's nuclear safety projects.
Russia sent an extradition request to Switzerland on May 17, based on a warrant issued by the Basmanny Court of Moscow on May 14. Russian prosecutors have accused Adamov of fraud and abuse of office.
1. Russia For Iran - European Troika Talks on Iran Nuclear Programme
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Russia comes out in support of the talks between Iran and the troika of the European Union on Iranï¿½s nuclear programme, Mikhail Kamynin, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, said on Friday.
He said, ï¿½Iranï¿½s talks with the European troika ï¿½ Great Britain, Germany and France ï¿½ are an important part of the international effort to settle the situation with Iranï¿½s nuclear programme.ï¿½ ï¿½This format has developed on the basis of goodwill and on mutual arrangement among its participants,ï¿½ Kamynin said. ï¿½Russia is not a party to this negotiating process but it invariably supports it.ï¿½
ï¿½We believe Iran-European troika format has proved its usefulness,ï¿½ Kamynin said. ï¿½We believe its potential is far from exhausted. The decision to keep or change the existing format is for its participants to make.ï¿½
ï¿½As regards Russiaï¿½s stand, we intend under any circumstances to continue close cooperation with all the countries concerned for an early de-escalation of the situation and its settlement by political and diplomatic means.ï¿½
Secretary of Iranï¿½s Security Council Ali Larijani said the other day many in Iran do not agree with the fact that the range of participants in the negotiations on the nuclear problem be limited to three countries of the European Union.ï¿½
2. Russia Says Iran Not Breaching Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
The Daily Times
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Russia, Iranï¿½s nuclear partner, said on Thursday it saw no evidence Tehran was breaching the global nuclear non-proliferation regime.
Iran angered the European Union and the United States by resuming uranium conversion work earlier this month, rejecting EU incentives offered in return for giving up its nuclear programme.
ï¿½There is no reason to think that the existence of this threat has been proved,ï¿½ Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted by state news agencies as saying.
ï¿½If a threat to the non-proliferation regime appears, we will work seriously on that matter,ï¿½ he added.
Under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, (NPT), which Iran has signed, Tehran may process and enrich uranium for peaceful purposes. The oil-rich state insists its nuclear programme is aimed only at the peaceful generation of electricity, but the West fears Iran is seeking to make atomic weapons.
Russia, which has built a nuclear power station for Iran, said earlier this month it opposed using force to stop Iranï¿½s nuclear programme and warned that any such action would have grave and unpredictable consequences.
Russia has not directly taken part in the EUï¿½s talks with Iran but the West carefully monitors diplomatic moves by the permanent member of the UN Security Council, one of Iranï¿½s staunchest supporters. If Iran continues to defy international pressure, Europe and the United States are likely to press the United Nationsï¿½ nuclear watchdog to refer Iranï¿½s case to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions, analysts say.
US President George W Bush has said military force remains a last resort to press Tehran to abandon its nuclear ambitions.
Iran has accused the three European states of damaging the diplomatic effort by demanding Iran abandon its work on the nuclear fuel cycle - the focus of fears Iran could acquire the bomb - even though fuel work is technically permitted by the NPT.
But the EU-3 says Iran is to blame for the breakdown in the talks due to its decision earlier this month to resume uranium ore conversion work - a precursor to the ultra-sensitive enrichment process which had been suspended.
The IAEA board, which is to receive a report on Iran on September 3 from agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei, has called on Tehran to reinstate the suspension. Iran has refused, and could face referral to the UN Security Council.
1. Russia Welcomes North Korea's Decision to Continue Nuclear Talks
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Russia welcomes North Korea's decision to continue the six-party nuclear program talks in mid-September, a diplomatic source in Moscow said Monday.
The North Korean Foreign Ministry announced Monday through the nation's news agency that Pyongyang was ready to continue the fourth round of the negotiations on its nuclear program in the week starting September 12.
The negotiations, which were launched in 2003, involve Russia, North Korea, South Korea, the United States, Japan and China.
1. International Nuclear Safety Conference About to Open in St. Petersburg
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The 8th international conference devoted to the safety of nuclear technologies is about to open in this city Friday.
The organizers of the event said the conference would bring together officials from the Federal Agency for Nuclear Power, the state-run Rosenergoatom, which oversees the operation and construction of nuclear and thermal power plants, and about 300 representatives of Russian and foreign nuclear-sector businesses.
The six-day conference will focus on the safe use and production of nuclear power sources in various areas of industry, medicine, agriculture and science.
The organizers said this would be a major annual event in Russia's nuclear industry where specialists united by the idea of peaceful nuclear research would share their experience in establishing and using nuclear facilities and scrapping those whose service life ran out.
"This meeting is another step towards higher safety of nuclear technologies," said the organizers.
The conference will be held on the sidelines of the 9th international forum, The Russian Industrialist. The forum will also feature the 5th international specialized exhibition, Nuclear Industry.
1. New Nunn-Lugar Biological Agreement Signed in Ukraine
Office of Sen. Richard Lugar
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U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar announced that the United States and Ukraine have signed an agreement to counter the threat of bioterrorism and to prevent the proliferation of biological weapons, technology, materials and expertise.
This new Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction agreement was signed here today during a visit by Lugar, co-author of the program. Negotiations on the agreement have gone on for more than a year.
In May, Lugar wrote to Ukrainian President Victor Yuschenko to advance the agreement.
In the May 16 letter to Yuschenko, Lugar wrote, ï¿½For several years, the United States has sought to expand our cooperation to include preventing the spread of biological pathogens and expertise to terrorists. This high priority initiative includes a provision for a modern, safe and secure diagnostic health laboratory and a national network of epidemiological monitoring stations equipped to rapidly detect, diagnose and respond to infectious disease outbreaks throughout Ukraine, whether naturally occurring or as a result of bioterrorism. Such cooperation is ongoing with Georgia, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, and just last week, the government of Azerbaijan signed an agreement to cooperate in this area. Unfortunately, bureaucratic obstacles in your government continue to block conclusion of such an agreement between the Ukrainian Ministry of Health and the U.S. Department of Defense.ï¿½
Intervention in recent days by Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko broke a log jam within Ukrainian government bureaucracy.
ï¿½Weï¿½re going to cooperate in all aspects of the Nunn-Lugar program,ï¿½ Tymoshenko told Lugar in a meeting today.
ï¿½Youï¿½ve giving us good news. We know that your intervention made possible the signing of the cooperative biological agreement today,ï¿½ Lugar responded.
Under the agreement, the U.S. will assist Ukraine to:
Upgrade the security for pathogens currently stored at various health laboratories throughout Ukraine; Significantly reduce the time required to accurately diagnose disease outbreaks in Ukraine and asses whether they are natural or the result of a terrorist act; Allow for cooperation to develop better diagnostic tools and treatments to protect both U.S. and Ukrainian populations against infectious diseases. This includes leveraging U.S. laboratory capabilities to improve detection of endemic diseases in Ukraine.
The signing came today as Lugar and U.S. Sen. Barak Obama (D-IL) visited the Kiev Central Sanitary and Epidemiological Station, one of the facilities that will be covered under the agreement.
The Station maintains a pathogen collection and conducts work on many highly dangerous infections reported in Ukraine. These include pathogens causing diseases such as: Anthrax, Tularemia, Brucellosis, Listeriosis, Diphtheria, Cholera, Typhoid, and others.
Previously, scientists at the Station had been paid just $100 per month. This year, 10 employees of the Center began participating in the first Science and Technology Center-Ukraine, affiliated with the Nunn-Lugar program. The Science and Technology Center-Ukraine employs scientists in peaceful work. Several other projects are being discussed.
ï¿½The Nunn-Lugar program looks forward to assisting the Central Sanitary and Epidemiological Station in strengthening biosafety and biosecurity, enhancing its molecular diagnostic capability and expanding research cooperation with the United Stated under this new agreement,ï¿½ Lugar said.
At the Anti-Plague Institute in Odessa, Ukraine, the Nunn-Lugar program will expand the study and capacity to diagnose the spread of avian flu in migratory birds, a major influenza concern around the world.
ï¿½When we think of the major threats to our national security, the first to come to mind are nuclear proliferation, rogue states and global terrorism. But another kind of threat lurks beyond our shores, one from nature, not humans -- an avian flu pandemic. An outbreak could cause millions of deaths, destabilize Southeast Asia (its likely place of origin), and threaten the security of governments around the world,ï¿½ Lugar and Obama wrote in a June 6 op-ed in The New York Times.
In response to this threat, Lugar and Obama wrote, ï¿½ï¿½the Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously approved legislation directing President Bush to form a senior-level task force to put in place an international strategy to deal with the avian flu and coordinate policy among our government agencies. We urge the Bush administration to form this task force immediately without waiting for legislation to be passed.ï¿½
Earlier in the trip, Lugar and Obama visited the Russian Research Institute of Phytopathology at Golitsino, a former biological weapons facility.
The Nunn-Lugar program, through the International Science and Technology Center, has employed 58,000 scientists that were previously involved in weapons of mass destruction programs in the former Soviet Union.
In 1991, Senator Lugar (R-IN) and former Senator Sam Nunn (D-GA) authored the Nunn-Lugar Act, which established the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program. This program has provided U.S. funding and expertise to help the former Soviet Union safeguard and dismantle its enormous stockpiles of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, related materials, and delivery systems. In 1997, Lugar and Nunn were joined by Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) in introducing the Defense Against Weapons of Mass Destruction Act, which expanded Nunn-Lugar authorities in the former Soviet Union and provided WMD expertise to first responders in American cities. In 2003, Congress adopted the Nunn-Lugar Expansion Act, which authorized the Nunn-Lugar program to operate outside the former Soviet Union to address proliferation threats. In October 2004, Nunn-Lugar funds were used for the first time outside of the former Soviet Union to secure chemical weapons in Albania, under a Lugar-led expansion of the program.
The latest Nunn-Lugar Scorecard shows that the program has deactivated or destroyed: 6,760 nuclear warheads; 587 ICBMs; 483 ICBM silos; 32 ICBM mobile missile launchers; 150 bombers; 789 nuclear air-to-surface missiles; 436 submarine missile launchers; 549 submarine launched missiles; 28 nuclear submarines; and 194 nuclear test tunnels.
Beyond the scorecardï¿½s nuclear elimination, the Nunn-Lugar program secures and destroys chemical weapons, and works to reemploy scientists and facilities related to biological weapons in peaceful research initiatives. The International Proliferation Prevention Program has funded 750 projects involving 14,000 former weapons scientists and created some 580 new peaceful high-tech jobs. Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan are nuclear weapons free as a result of cooperative efforts under the Nunn-Lugar program. They otherwise would be the worldï¿½s the third, forth and eighth largest nuclear weapons powers, respectively.
2. Russian MFA Commentary Concerning Incident at Perm with US Senators Lugar and Obama
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
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Question: How could the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs comment upon the fact of the detention in Perm of the plane of Senators Richard Lugar and Barack Obama?
Commentary: It would be incorrect to speak of a "detention" in Perm of the US senators' plane, who were there on a visit under the cooperative weapons of mass destruction threat reduction program. As is known, this Russian-US program has been successfully implemented for more than 10 years now, and we appreciate the personal contribution to its realization of Senator Richard Lugar, who stood at its origins.
At Perm Airport there indeed occurred a delay in the departure of the US air force plane carrying the senators and the persons accompanying them, since there had arisen some questions on the part of local border authorities about the observance of necessary departure formalities (the US delegation was heading to Ukraine) and a check of flight status took place.
Russian and American government special flights on the basis of a principle of reciprocity enjoy a number of diplomatic privileges, including simplified border and customs control. After a confirmation from Moscow of the diplomatic status of this flight, the senators departed from Russia. We regret the misunderstanding that has occurred and the inconveniences caused to the senators.
3. Interview with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov Published in Moskovskiye Novosti Newspaper (excerpted)
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
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Question: You have just received the new US Ambassador. Did you discuss the topic of the cooling of Russian-American relations? Or is it nonexistent?
Foreign Minister Lavrov: We have discussed the outlook for our relations. I told William Burns that we were pleased with his speech at the Senate in which he stressed the priority of Russian-American relations and the need for America to develop these relations in a constructive and positive manner, be it in the economic sphere with emphasis on energy security, or in the sphere of combating terrorism, the spread of mass destruction weapons, the settlement of conflicts and in other spheres connected with high technologies, space exploration and so on.
I find the mood of the new Ambassador encouraging. He is a person who does not see the post of ambassador only as an opportunity to promote himself or engage in propaganda. He is a businesslike man.
4. Mikhail Kamynin, Spokesman, Answers a Question Regarding Iran's Declared Intention Not to Limit Talks on Nuclear Program to European Trio
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
(for personal use only)
Iran's talks with the European trio, Britain, Germany and France, are an important component part of international efforts to resolve the situation that has evolved around the Iranian nuclear program. That format took shape on the basis of good will and by mutual agreement between its participants. Russia is not a party to this negotiating process, but has been invariably supportive of it.
In our opinion, the Iran-EU3 negotiation format has proven its usefulness. We believe that its potential is still far from exhausted. As to deciding whether to keep or alter the existing format, that is up to its participants.
With regard to the position of Russia, we under any circumstances intend to continue our close cooperation with all the concerned parties in order to de-escalate the situation as quickly as possible and have it resolved by politico-diplomatic methods.
5. Obama to Visit Nuclear, Biological Weapons Destruction Facilities in Former Soviet Union
Office of Senator Obama
(for personal use only)
On Wednesday, August 24th, U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) will begin a trip to visit nuclear and biological weapons destruction sites in Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan with Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar (R-IN). They will also meet with top political and military officials in each of these countries. The trip includes a strop in England and a meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
In 1991, Senator Lugar (R-IN) and former Senator Sam Nunn (D-GA) authored the Nunn-Lugar Act, which established the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Program. This program has provided U.S. funding and expertise to help the former Soviet Union safeguard and dismantle its enormous stockpiles of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, related materials, and delivery systems. Since the law was passed, the program has deactivated or destroyed: 6,760 nuclear warheads; 587 ICBMs; 483 ICBM silos; 32 ICBM mobile missile launchers; 150 bombers; 789 nuclear air-to-surface missiles; 436 submarine missile launchers; 549 submarine launched missiles; 28 nuclear submarines; and 194 nuclear test tunnels. Obama and Lugar will be reviewing the status of current CTR programs as well as looking for opportunities to expand the scope and reach of this highly effective program.
Friday, August 26 Senator Obama meets with Representatives of the International Republican Institute and National Democratic Institute to discuss democracy Moscow, Russia
Obama, Lugar meet with Russian military officials Moscow, Russia
Obama, Lugar meet with U.S. Ambassador to Russia William J. Burns Moscow, Russia
Saturday, August 27 Obama, Lugar visit nuclear weapons storage facility Saratov, Russia
Sunday, August 28 Obama, Lugar tour SS-24/SS-25 mobile missile elimination site Perm, Russia
Monday, August 29 Obama, Lugar meet with Ukraine President Viktor Yushchenko Kiev, Ukraine
Obama, Lugar attend wreath laying ceremony at Babyn Yar, the site of massacre perpetrated by the Nazis during World War II Babyn Yar, Ukraine
Obama, Lugar meet with Ukranian political and military officials Kiev, Ukraine
Obama, Lugar tour Central Epidemiological Station concerning biological weapons issues. Kiev, Ukraine
Tuesday, August 30 Obama, Lugar tour conventional weapons site (Lugar and Obama are exploring the possibility of a Nunn-Lugar type program for eliminating heavy conventional weapons) Donetsk, Ukraine
Wednesday, August 31 Obama, Lugar meet with Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev. Separate meeting with opposition leaders in run-up to November, 2005 legislative lections. Baku, Azerbaijan
Obama, Lugar visit Sangachal Terminal of the Baku-Ceyhan Pipeline Baku, Azerbaijan
Thursday, September 1 Obama, Lugar visit Interim Command Center at the Maritime Border Guard Base where they will monitor a mock interdiction of a ship that would be suspected of carrying weapons of mass destruction Caspian Sea Baku, Azerbaijan
Obama, Lugar meet with British Prime Minister Tony Blair No. 10 Downing Street London, England
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