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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Security Fund Gives Russia $6M

Former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn unveiled a package of private initiatives Friday worth nearly $6 million to help Russia minimize threats from nuclear, biological and chemical weapons -- the first installment of an ambitious risk-reduction plan.

Nunn, who co-chairs the Nuclear Threat Initiative foundation with CNN founder Ted Turner, said the project should assist efforts to secure and dismantle weapons of mass destruction, prevent their spread and bolster cooperation between scientists on anti-terrorism issues.

"Our governments have to deal with the threats of chemical, biological and nuclear programs," Nunn, who once led the Armed Services Committee and retired in 1997, said during a briefing at the U.S.-Canada Institute. "Our job is to help identify the threat and stimulate our governments to do more."

The announcement came after CIA head George Tenet told the U.S. Congress on Wednesday that Russia remains one of the leading suppliers of nuclear technology and missiles to countries hostile to the United States and is "the first choice of nations seeking nuclear technology and training."

The CIA report, covering the first half of 2001, said the Russian government's "commitment, willingness and ability to curb proliferation-related transfers remain uncertain."

The Foreign Ministry angrily dismissed the accusation.

Russia is engaged in a $800 million deal to build a nuclear power plant in Iran, assistance the CIA report said "enhances Iran's ability to support a nuclear weapons development effort." Russian and Iranian officials have fiercely denied the claim, saying the project serves strictly civilian purposes.

Nunn said that "in the spirit of new partnership," the United States could share some intelligence data with Moscow to back its demand that Russia drop controversial export deals. "There are some serious problems with their export policies, and I believe they themselves don't see it that way," Nunn said.

Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, who met Nunn later Friday, acknowledged that the spread of weapons of mass destruction remains a "major threat."

"We are ready to work together with the United States to prevent the spread of any weapons," Interfax reported him as saying.

Along with Senator Dick Lugar, Nunn authored a 1991 law that launched a program that made some $4.7 billion of U.S. government funds available to Russia to help it destroy and safeguard its arsenals of weapons of mass destruction.

The new initiative would follow up on the government program by taking further efforts to engage scientists who lost their jobs in the weapons sector and could become potential prey for rogue regimes shopping for weapons of mass destruction.

"Nothing is more important for the security of the U.S., Russia and the world than keeping weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of terrorist organizations," Nunn said.

The initiative is also considering a proposal that the United States and Western European countries write off a portion of Russia's foreign debt on condition the money is spent on securing weapons of mass destruction, Nunn said.

(AP, MT) NTI: Nuclear Threat Initiative