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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Aids Nuclear Facility's Makeover

U.S. and Russian officials dedicated an industrial park at what was until recently a nuclear-weapons factory east of Moscow. It was the second step in a joint project that U.S. experts hope will provide jobs for up to 4,000 Russian weapons scientists and workers.

U.S. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson attended the ceremony Wednesday in the once-closed nuclear city of Sarov. The stop was part of a weeklong sweep through Russia and other former Soviet states in which Richardson is promoting programs to curb the spread of nuclear materials and technology.

The United States will contribute $4.5 million next year to help prepare buildings at the Sarov site for private businesses, and hopes to spend $8.5 million more on other programs there in 2001, U.S. officials said Wednesday. Richardson said the first tenant at the new Sarov Technopark at Avangard, as the site is called, would be a German-U.S. venture to make kidney-dialysis machines and supplies.

A Michigan company is also studying prospects for manufacturing auto parts in the park, he said.

Richardson toured the remaining operating section of the top-secret Avangard weapons plant, which is now devoted to dismantling nuclear arms. In an interview, he said his tour, the first by a U.S. official, was evidence that "despite American-Russian relations suffering a few glitches, in the area of transparency of nuclear weapons there has been quite a bit of progress."

About 3,500 people worked at the Avangard plant. The kidney-dialysis venture should employ about 200 people, and 100 more people work at a second Russian-U.S. project, a computing center at which scientists and programmers turn their expertise to commercial ventures.

Officials said Credit Suisse First Boston has awarded a contract to the center to develop electronic-banking and e-commerce software. Motorola Corp. is also considering employing the computing center for software projects, officials said.

The computing center already conducts research for the petroleum industry and in high-energy physics, among other programs.