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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 21, December 1997

Russia Calls for NATO Aid on Retired Nuclear Submarines

Russia is asking NATO for assistance in the expensive and dangerous task of dismantling retired nuclear-powered submarines. According to reports, Russia has so far retired 156 submarines, of which it has only completed the dismantlement of 16. A further 100 submarines are reportedly scheduled for retirement by the end of the century. According to Ashot Sarkisov, speaking on 24 November: Our economy is ill...and our leaders clearly downplay the potential danger. ... Such a [retired] submarine may leak radioactivity and its reactor may spin out of control, leading to an uncontrolled chain reaction..." Drawing a broader lesson, Sarkisov added:

"When we were building up our nuclear potential, no one thought about the need to dispose of the waste some day... It's a lesson for the future: before building something nuclear, we must first think what to do with it later..."

Report: Russia probes risks from aging subs, Associated Press, 24 November.

© 1998 The Acronym Institute.

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