|Russia and the CIS News Digest
Russia's Anti-Drug Czar Ridicules U.S. Actions Against Afghan Opium
Oct. 8 (EIRNS)In an interview with the Russian online news channel Russia Today, the head of Russia's Federal Drug Control Service, Victor Ivanov, ridiculed the U.S. explanation of why opium cannot be eradicated in Afghanistan, saying it was an "excuse." "When the U.S. says you can't deprive farmers of their livelihood, it actually sends a message to the Afghan leadership as well, saying they shouldn't do it because, first, this will destroy people's livelihoods and, second, you push farmers into the hands of the Taliban. I think this is merely an excuse."
He also pointed out the insincerity of the suggestion by the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan-Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, that instead of eradicating drug crops, the United States should target drug labs and traffickers. Ivanov said that this statement was made almost a year ago, yet the number of labs producing drugs for the Russian market has tripled. "A year ago, we knew of about 170 labs in Afghanistan; today, we know of more than 400 labs producing drugs for Russia," Ivanov said.
As a result of these excuses and false promises, Afghan stocks of opium have are so high that, even if drug production in Afghanistan stops, "Afghanistan will be able to supply the international market with heroin for another 20-30 years from existing stocks. Afghanistan produced about 7,000 tons of opium last year, which is equivalent to 700 tons of heroin. We believe that about 36 tons of this goes to Russia. This is a lot. It's about 5 billion doses," Ivanov said.
Russia To Sign Contracts To Supply Nuclear Services
Oct. 8 (EIRNS)The director general of Russia's state nuclear energy company Rosatom, Sergei Kiriyenko, has promised Prime Minister Vladimir Putin that Russia is set to have contracts to supply foreign countries with nuclear fuel and uranium-enrichment services worth $20 billion by the end of 2010. This could be of immense benefit to the nuclear-power programs of countries that do not manufacture nuclear fuel or do not enrich uranium for making fuel for nuclear reactors.
Speaking at a meeting of the Presidium of the Russian government, Kiriyenko told Putin that Russia has entered into markets where it previously had little or no representation. He noted that a 15-year supply contract has been signed by Rosatom with a Swiss company for the supply of enriched uranium, while a 10-year contract was signed with Eskom of South Africa for a significant part of its needs. A contract for the supply of enriched uranium to meet the full needs of Mexico's sole nuclear power plant, Laguna Verde, has just come into force.
In accordance with the government-approved program, Kiriyenko said that Rosatom, together with the Ministry of Natural Resources, had increased the uranium reserves in Russia. He said that the acquisition of Canada-based Uranium One by Russia's AtomRedMetZoloto (ARMZ) had "allowed us to significantly increment reserves."