Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 77

All of the civilized world seems to be interested in helping Russia liquidate the weapons of mass destruction that it inherited from the USSR. In particular, the U.S. Congress has appropriated billions of dollars in various programs for this purpose, and American businessmen have created entire corporations to help the Russian government dismantle or salvage the nuclear and other components of these weapons.

The American press reports, for example, that a group of investors — "U.S. Fuel & Security, Inc." — has been created, and supported by a number of well-known politicians, especially to salvage these nuclear components. (Washington Times, April 14) An agreement has been reached between this company and the Russian Atomic Energy Ministry, according to which tons of "waste" from nuclear weapons, presently stored in more than 100 Russian nuclear facilities, will be reworked into fuel for nuclear power plants in the company’s concrete facility on Wake Island in the Pacific Ocean.

In addition, according to Russia’s atomic energy minister, Viktor Mikhailov, Japan is offering the Russian government containers to store the plutonium from nuclear weapons. These containers will be prepared according to Russian specifications and sent to the centers where nuclear weapons are being dismantled, including the "Mayak" complex in Chelyabinsk, Tomsk-7, and Krasnoyarsk-26. The minister reported that these containers will be very complex technologically, and that each of them will cost from $2000 to $5000. In addition, Japan is seeking to participate in building a storage facility at the "Mayak" complex for additional storage of weapons plutonium. The facility is expected to hold 40,000 containers and will, in the minister’s opinion, satisfy all of Russia’s existing safety concerns. (Itar-Tass, April 7)

Concurrently, the Russian military is also doing its bit to destroy weapons of mass destruction. At the end of March some obsolete R-39 sea-launched ballistic missiles were destroyed in an operation in the Barents Sea. The Russian navy’s press center reported that this was accomplished by exploding these missiles at low altitudes after being launched from a Typhoon-class strategic missile submarine. US observers and a group of environmentalists watched the proceedings from a nearby ship. According to Russian navy specialists, this is the cheapest way to destroy missiles of this type.

Russia Looks to Latin American Arms Market