US Russia agree on package to fight nuclear terror

Washington Post:

President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin plan to announce a package of measures today to counter the threat of nuclear terrorism, a threat highlighted in a new U.S. intelligence report warning that Russian nuclear material could still fall into terrorist hands, according to U.S. officials familiar with the accord.

Under the planned agreement, U.S. and Russian officials would accelerate long-delayed security upgrades at Russia's many poorly protected nuclear facilities, jointly develop emergency responses to a nuclear or radiological terrorist attack, and establish a program to replace highly enriched uranium in research reactors around the world to prevent it from being used for weapons, the U.S. officials said.


The two sides were also working on an agreement to help stem the proliferation of shoulder-fired rockets, a particular favorite of terrorists and guerrillas. That agreement is to be signed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov. U.S. and Russian officials were also drafting joint statements on economic cooperation, counterterrorism, exchange programs and the fight against AIDS.

But negotiators were unable to break an impasse that has held up a multibillion-dollar program to dispose of 68 tons of plutonium usable for nuclear weapons despite last-minute talks. U.S. and Russian officials rushed to London and met in Moscow in a bid to resolve a technical dispute over liability that has frozen the program, first announced by Presidents Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin in 1998 and still unrealized seven years later.

Still, some security analysts said the agreement on track for announcement today represented a significant step forward, particularly because Bush administration officials began pursuing a deal only a couple of weeks ago and Russian officials were resisting out of pique over the short time frame and the criticism of democratic setbacks. The agreement also helps Bush respond to Democrats' criticism during last year's election campaign that he has failed to do enough to secure Russian "loose nukes."

"It is a coup for him," said Rose Gottemoeller, who negotiated nuclear security issues with Russia for the Clinton administration. "If he can get Putin to agree to this, it's a very important step."

Sounds like a good thing as Martha Stewart would say. Bush gets to bash Putins anti democratic streak while working a deal to fight terrorism. I think this can be done, because at heart, the anti democratic streak is in fact an inapproriate response to Russia's own war on terrorism.


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