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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Minister Told to Maintain Arms Parity

President Boris Yeltsin named a new nuclear power minister Wednesday and immediately ordered him to ensure that Russia retains parity with the West in nuclear weapons.

Yeltsin appointed nuclear researcher Yevgeny Adamov, 58, to replace the former minister relieved of the post earlier this week.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Yeltsin, Adamov said the president told him that Russia must keep its remaining arsenals of nuclear weapons in top shape.

"This parity should be preserved even though the funds and the means to achieve it might be reduced," Adamov quoted Yeltsin as saying, according to Itar-Tass.

The Nuclear Power Ministry is in charge of both civilian and military nuclear programs.

Russian officials have repeatedly spoken of the importance of maintaining Russia's nuclear capability while cutting stockpiles under arms control agreements and working to reduce the overall size of the Russian military.

At their meeting Wednesday, Yeltsin also told Adamov to increase safety at Russia's nuclear power plants and to promote exports of uranium and nuclear technologies, Itar-Tass said.

Russia has signed a deal with the United States to sell the uranium from nuclear warheads dismantled under arms control pacts, but the agreement has hit snags as the two sides have continued to argue over prices.

Adamov is one of Russia's top nuclear experts. He worked for the Kurchatov Institute, Russia's leading nuclear research center, from 1962 to 1986. He took part in cleaning up the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in April 1986, and later that year was appointed director of Russia's Power Technologies Research Institute -- a job he held until now.

Adamov replaces Viktor Mikhailov, 64, the Soviet Union's top nuclear weapons designer, who asked to resign as minister and return to scholarship.

Yeltsin spoke "warmly" of Mikhailov at the meeting with Adamov, Itar-Tass said, citing unspecified sources as saying that it was Mikhailov who had recommended Adamov as his successor.

Russia's Nuclear Power Ministry has been buffeted by economic troubles, and Mikhailov said last month it would have to curtail its nuclear weapons program this year because of fund shortages.

The ministry has sought relief in part by promoting the construction of new power plants in foreign countries, including one in Iran that has drawn protests from the U.S. government.