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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Swapped Spy Photos To Be Used In Cleanup

WASHINGTON -- The United States and Russia have exchanged maps drawn from military satellite pictures showing petrochemical contamination at each other's air bases, under a deal worked out by the technological and economic commission headed by the Russian prime minister and the U.S. vice president.


Russian and U.S. experts will use the unclassified pictures of Yeysk air force base in southern Russia and Eglin air force base in Florida to help plan cleanup efforts, the White House said.


"Looking at each others' military sites is not something new for either of us, but using that information for environmental purposes and exchanging it with each other is very new and ... very exciting," said Vice President Al Gore, speaking after he swapped the maps with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin on Tuesday.


The map trade was part of a larger agreement reached last year by the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission for the two countries to share data from space, airborne and sea-based studies.


"These military satellite photos give us a virtual time-machine record of the Earth over the last 35 years," Gore said.


The two countries plan to study a range of environmental disasters, including oil spills, fires and earthquakes.


Experts will also be looking at ways to protect Arctic permafrost from environmental damage by oil and gas operations in Russia's Timan-Pechora and Priobskoye regions and in Alaska.


U.S. officials also said Tuesday that the two countries are close to reaching an agreement that would help Washington verify that uranium it is buying from Moscow is from dismantled weapons.


Under a $12 billion accord, the United States is to buy about 15,000 metric tons of low-enriched uranium converted from 500 tons of Russia's bomb-grade uranium over 20 years.


U.S. nuclear experts have questioned whether the uranium that Russia has delivered actually came from nuclear weapons, as called for in the agreement. The United States plans to use the uranium in nuclear power plants.