Putin: Norway important in nuke co-operation

Publish date: September 9, 2000

Written by: Thomas Nilsen

President Putin announced a more thorough co-operation with Norway in the field of nuclear safety in the Russian Arctic.

Meeting at the UN-millennium summit in New York, President Vladimir Putin and the Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said the co-operation in the field of nuclear safety in the Arctic region of Russia is one of the most important bilateral projects between the two countries.

-Norwegians are worried about the risks for nuclear accidents and radioactive contamination in the northern areas. Therefore, we have to do what we can to co-operate with Russia in order to minimize this risk, said Jens Stoltenberg.

President Vladimir Putin responded:

-I want to thank Norway for the fast and positive rescue actions during the Kursk accident.

-This is a positive sign for our co-operation in the future. We (Russia and Norway) have several important projects for securing nuclear waste, and we know that all countries in the northern regions have interests in these projects, said Putin.

The accident with the nuclear submarine Kursk in the Barents Sea in August has once again actualised the question about the importance of Russia to inform its neighbouring country when accidents happens. Norway and Russia have an agreement on sharing information in case of nuclear accidents involving civilian installations, but this agreement does not include possible releases of radioactivity from the Northern fleets submarines and overfilled nuclear waste sites.

One of the most delaying factor for an increased co-operation in the field of nuclear waste cleanup at the naval sites at the Kola Peninsula is the lack of openness, lack of information and lack of public insights into the issue from the Russian military side. President Putin did, however, sign the UN millennium declaration where the text on Human Rights says:

“To ensure the freedom of the media to perform their essential role and the right of the public to have access to information.”

If Putin’s Russia will follow the millennium declaration signed in New York yesterday will first be indicated on September 13th. Then the Presidium of the Supreme Court in Moscow will hear the appeal from the procurator in the Nikitin case. Aleksandr Nikitin was charges for revealing information about accident on Soviet nuclear submarines. On December 29, 1999 the St. Petersburg City Court acquitted Nikitin of all charges. The Supreme Court’s Collegium on Criminal cases confirmed this legal opinion on April 17, 2000.

No information has so far been revealed from the New York meeting about President Putin’s position in the Nikitin case. The Norwegian authorities have raised the issue of Aleksandr Nikitin with its Russian counterparts by many occasions the last five years. Nikitin himself has thanked Norway for its assistance to Russia to secure nuclear waste in the Murmansk-region.

-Norway will give economical aid to secure nuclear waste near the Russian boarder to Norway, said Stoltenberg.

These projects will be discussed in detail during Russia’s Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov visit to Oslo on September 27-28th.