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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Rumyantsev Denies U.S. More Nuclear Access

Nuclear Power Minister Alexander Rumyantsev rejected a U.S. call for broader access to sites containing nuclear material, saying Wednesday that some installations will remain closed to outsiders for national security reasons.

A U.S. congressional report said nearly two-thirds of Russia's nuclear material may be inadequately protected despite Washington's investment of $1.8 billion over a decade to help improve safeguards for nuclear material and warheads and ease the shift to a market economy for its nuclear scientists.

The report by the General Accounting Office said only 228 of the 600 metric tons of weapons-usable nuclear material are kept at facilities where safeguards have been enhanced under the U.S. assistance program. It said Russia is not providing needed access to many sites.

Rumyantsev said limitations will continue. "As for access by representatives of other countries to our sites where nuclear materials are located, we will not show all sites. And where the arrangement of these installations in confidential, we will not display them for international observation," he said. "It is a question linked to our defensive capability."

Rumyantsev said the level of access Russia is providing would have been unheard-of during the Soviet era. He pointed to a visit he paid with U.S. Ambassador Alexander Vershbow this month to Snezhinsk, a nuclear center in the Urals Mountains, to look at safeguards installed with U.S. help.

"So in those places where we are cooperating, we show everything, but if it is a sensitive zone for our strategic stability and defense, we will not show it," Rumyantsev said at a news conference. "This is all in strict accordance with international laws."