Russia Boosts Steps to Thwart 'Nuclear Terrorism'greenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread
Russia Boosts Steps to Thwart 'Nuclear Terrorism' Updated: Fri, Nov 02 10:07 AM EST
By Clara Ferreira-Marques MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia is stepping up training of personnel at its nuclear facilities to combat possible nuclear terrorist attacks amid Europe-wide fears that such installations could be targeted, a Defense Ministry official said on Friday.
"(We are taking) measures for the preparation of our staff so that they will be able to understand and identify the threats," Viktor Kholstov, head of the Radiation, Chemical and Bacteriological Defense Forces, told a news conference.
"There are detective stories about transporting nuclear substances. But we should take into consideration the possibility of such a situation in real life," he said.
Kholstov's statement follows a warning by the global nuclear security watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, whose director said on Thursday that an act of nuclear terrorism was "far more likely" than previously thought.
Kholstov did not elaborate on the measures, but other officials have said security has also been stepped up at the country's nuclear facilities.
The 1986 explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in then Soviet Ukraine killed dozens in the immediate aftermath of the disaster and exposed more than five million Europeans to increased levels of radiation.
Since the collapse of Soviet Union in 1991, there have been a number of cases of nuclear material being stolen from poorly-guarded former Soviet nuclear facilities, sparking grave concern in the West.
In 1994, three men were arrested at Munich airport carrying 12.8 ounces of weapons-grade plutonium from Moscow.
IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei called on countries to take an inventory of security risks at their nuclear power plants, given concern that al Qaeda -- the militant group blamed for the September 11 attacks in the United States -- had tried to acquire nuclear material.
A former aide to al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, testified to a U.S. court in February that he had been asked to obtain uranium for the organization.
Kholstov said Defense Ministry staff were being trained to deal with chemical and biological weapons along with the threat of "nuclear terrorism."
Russia inherited the world's largest chemical stockpile from the Soviet Union and is aiming to destroy its 40,000 tons of toxic agents by 2012.
But Kholstov said there were no biological weapons in the country, categorically excluding any link between the U.S. cases of anthrax and Russia or the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), a grouping of 12 former Soviet republics.
Russia's chief medical officer Gennady Onishchenko told the news conference that the CIS had only had enough anthrax for medical purposes, and that trade in the bacteria was impossible.
-- Martin Thompson (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 02, 2001