|Russia and the CIS News Digest
Primakov Calls for U.S.-Russia Cooperation on Eurasia
July 16 (EIRNS)Former Russian Prime Minister Yevgeni Primakov has published an incisive appeal to the United States to formulate strategic policies in the U.S.A.'s own best interests, including cooperation with Russia, as well as China and India, aimed at resolving conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran. His article appeared in Moscow News on July 12, the day before the inaugural meeting of the strategic dialogue group "Russia and the U.S.A.: Looking at the Future," which Primakov co-chairs with Henry Kissinger. As EIR reported on July 20, the Kissinger-Primakov group emerged at the end of April, as part of the process that led to President Vladimir Putin's July 1-2 talks with President George Bush at the family vacation house in Kennebunkport, Maine.
Primakov urged the U.S.A. to reconsider its international priorities. Currently, he said, the chief issues dividing the U.S.A. and Russia are the U.S. plan to deploy an ABM system in Eastern Europe, and Washington's backing for de jure independence for Kosovo from Serbia. "It is indicative that none of these problems is vital for the United States," wrote Primakov, adding that for Russia they are. Yet, conflict over these issues has intensified, "at a time when, it would seem, Washington has an objective interest in close cooperation with Moscow to resolve an array of conflicts, which are far more important for the United States and the international community as a whole." These are Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, and Palestinian-Israeli relations.
Primakov highlighted every glimmer of a U.S. policy-turn away from global showdown, such as last year's Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group recommendations on Iraq. Famous as a specialist on Southwest Asia, he described how the Bush Administration's "surge" policy has come to grief in Iraq. He cited Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, and also the Iraq Study Group report, prepared in the United States itself at the end of last year, for having called to include Iran and Syria in attempts to resolve the Iraq crisis. "Iran and Syria are showing interest in contacts with the United States," Primakov said. "Russia, which has close ties with Syria and Iran, could be not entirely useless in overcoming the Iraqi crisis."
The publication of Primakov's view of such possible Russian-American cooperation on ending the war in Iraq, made a sharp contrast to the heavy coverage throughout the Russian media on July 16, of a London Guardian report of renewed pressure from Vice President Dick Cheney on Bush, to attack Iran.
Primakov brought in the possibility of U.S. cooperation with all three members of the Eurasian Strategic Triangle (as he once named the combination of Russia, China, and India), concerning the "increasingly destabilizing situation" in nuclear-armed Pakistan. Washington's preoccupation with installing ABM systems in Europe, Primakov warned, could cause it to "miss the boat" in Pakistan. The prospect of internal conflict there, "eclipses the concern that Iran could, within a few years, acquire nuclear weapons in 'embryonic' form." Indeed, he added, recent "overtures toward cooperation" on the part of Iran can be attributed to "a change in the U.S. position: At first, the United States threatened to use force against Iran, but then it made a U-turn and went along with Russia, which believes that the problem may only be resolved by political means. Is it not time for the U.S.A. to start consultations with Russia, India, and China on Pakistan?"
Russia Suspends CFE Treaty
July 14 (EIRNS)Russian President Vladimir Putin has decreed the suspension of the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty and related international agreements in Russia, until NATO ratifies an adaptation agreement, according to RIA Novosti. The 1990 treaty has regulated the deployment of troops and weapons on the European continent since end of the Cold War. As was the case in earlier Russian warnings to freeze implementation of the CFE, Putin invoked the "exceptional circumstances," resulting from the fact that NATO's new members have refused to ratify an agreement on adapting the CFE Treaty to the situation after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union.
The Presidential decree also says that U.S. plans to deploy conventional arms in Bulgaria and Romania have "a negative impact" on compliance with CFE arms limits.
Russia Responds to British Expulsion of Diplomats
July 17 (EIRNS)"It looks as though [Russia] is being punished for preserving our own Constitution," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said in Moscow, in reaction to the British decision to expel four Russian diplomats, the Guardian reported. "It is obvious that the line London is pursuing will complicate or make impossible cooperation between law enforcement bodies in issues relating to the safety of millions of British and Russian citizens," Grushko was quoted by Novosti. Britain announced that it would not maintain contact with the Russian Federal Security Service, but is ready to cooperate on counter-terrorism, but these are "mutually exclusive statements taking into account the central role the Federal Security Service takes in fighting terrorism both internationally and domestically," Grushko said. "It is obvious that the policy which is being pursued by Britain is going to complicate the terrorist, the security issues, which are vitally relevant and important for Britain and Russia and the wider world."
Grushko raised the possibility of mass expulsions of British diplomats, in view of London's refusal to extradite persons wanted for terrorism and economic crimes in Russia. (See also: "'Something Is Rotten in the U.K.': Great Britain Escalates Crisis With Russia," by Helga Zepp-LaRouche.)
Japan and Russia 'Team Up' for Trans-Siberian Rail Line
July 13 (EIRNS)The Japanese government is teaming up with Russia on projects to develop the Trans-Siberian Rail Line for mass cargo transit between East Asia and Europe, Japanese Embassy Counsel Takeshi Hihihara told a cooperation conference in Nizhni Novgorod on July 11, according to a Voice of Russia report. Japan plans to propose use of the famous Japanese "Shinkansen" bullet-train technology for the Trans-Siberian, as well as other rail routes in Russia, Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun reported on July 1. High-speed transport could cut in half the current transport time on the Trans-Siberian, which is over two weeks.
Japan is interested not only in renewing the rail lines, but also in developing new industry along the Trans-Siberian Railway. Tokyo is setting up a working group of officials and business leaders from both nations, and will develop concrete proposals by this Autumn. Japan wants to secure energy resources from the Russian side, Yomiuri reported.
State-owned Russian Railways head Vladimir Yakunin announced plans to build high-speed rail links in western Russia already in February, including Moscow-St. Petersburg and Moscow-Nizhny Novgorod and Moscow-Sochi. At the end of February, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov went to Japan, where he initiated discussions on joint work on energy and rail development. In late April, Yakunin met with Japanese business leaders to discuss plans for the high-speed rail system, and said Russia would send experts to Japan, because it wants to look at the most modern technology available. Russia will have to lay new tracks if the Shinkansen is to be used. Now, Japanese sources are reporting that Russia wants to complete its rail modernization by 2030.
Russia Can Have Commercial Fusion Power in 20-25 Years
July 13 (EIRNS)Russia could be able to begin commercial production of thermonuclear reactors, both for its own economy and for export, in the next 20-25 years, nuclear physicist Yevgeni Velikhov said in Tokyo. The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project held its second conference there, beginning July 11.
"Russia's final goal is clear. We should at least get the necessary knowledge to design and build thermonuclear plants for Russia's domestic purposes and for export," Velikhov was quoted by Zee news. It is high time "to prepare Russia's science and industry to the next stage of commercial production. Our goal does not depend 100% on ITER. We should work ourselves as well. We have to prepare the new generation for this, as the stage of commercial production will begin in 20-25 years as a minimum," he said. Velikhov "was at the origins of the ITER concept," Itar-Tass reported.
On July 11, Russian Deputy Chief of the Governmental Staff Igor Borovkov said that Russia would actively contribute to the ITER project, to build a fusion reactor in France, and also on technology for Russia. "Apart from the contribution to the ITER project, funds will be issued for the modernization of Tokamak devices at the Kurchatov Institute for solving important scientific, engineering, and technical questions in this area," Borovkov said.
The ITER member-states are the EU, India, China, Russia, the United States, South Korea, and Japan.
Kazakstan To Strengthen Nuclear Power Development
July 11 (EIRNS)Kazakstan's state-owned uranium firm, Kazatomprom, will buy a 10% stake in U.S. nuclear reactor design-construction firm Westinghouse, from its Japan-based majority owner, Toshiba. By forging ties with uranium-rich Kazakstan, Toshiba, which holds a 77% stake in Westinghouse, aims to secure stable supplies of uranium, Japan's Jiji press reported. Japan and Kazakstan have agreed to cooperate in uranium-processing technology and trade.
By ensuring access to a much larger uranium source, Toshiba is now gearing up to win more orders to build nuclear power plants in the U.S.A. and elsewhere, by having Kazatomprom in its alliance and securing a long-term supply of uranium, the financial daily Nikkei added. Kazakstan seeks access to much larger capital for opening up new uranium mines. Toshiba president Atsutoshi Nishida visited Kazakstan in April with Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry Akira Amari.