THE SURFACING

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Kommersant-VLAST, April 10, 2001, p. 28

SUMMARY:

Negotiations between Russia and the European Union on implementation of the MNERP ended with nothing to show for it in Berlin last week. It is within the framework of this program that the European Union promised Moscow money for the operation in the Barents Sea. The MNERP stipulates assistance to Russia to the tune of several billion dollars. The money is to be spent on dismantlement of over 100 nuclear submarines withdrawn from active duty and dumped near the Kola peninsula, 300 reactors, and 8,000 nuclear fuel elements.

Moscow has been refusing to accept help for two years. Deputy Premier Ilya Klebanov said in late March the Russian government would cover the expenses from the 2002 federal budget if the International Foundation Kursk did not raise the money. But who is going to lift the Kursk?

Left to its own devices, Russia cannot hope to pull it off. Representatives of the manufacturer of the Granit missiles (there are 22 such missiles on the Kursk) do not guarantee that the missiles would not be launched when the Kursk were being lifted from the seabed.

Klebanov says Russia may loan the necessary equipment from the West. It is unlikely. Most probably, Moscow will finance a part of the needed $70 million soon and try to persuade the international consortium that the rest of the money is coming too. The consortium has to be persuaded to begin preparations to the operation or the Project Kursk will have to be scrapped.

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