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Japan set to continue atomic submarine scrapping program

12:03 11/07/2005

VLADIVOSTOK, July 11(RIA Novosti, Anatoly Ilyukhov) - Japan is ready to continue implementing its program to dismantle decommissioned nuclear submarines from the Russian Pacific Fleet, a senior official said Monday.

Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs Kawai Katsuyuki told a Vladivostok news conference that the budget for the second stage of the program, which envisaged the scrapping of five submarines, four of them in the town of Bolshoi Kamen and one in Vilyuchinsk (Kamchatka), had already been agreed.

The program also includes the construction of ground storage facilities for reactor blocks, because the floating storage facilities in the Chazhma Bay near Vladivostok are a source of concern for experts.

The diplomat said the second stage of the program, financed by the Japanese government, could proceed in fall.

Katsuyuki also said that the Australian government had recently said it was ready to fund the second stage of the program, which is called Zvezda Nadezhdy (Star of Hope), and was ready to allot some $6.7 million.

Other countries in the Asian Pacific Rim had displayed an interest in the ecological project, the official said.

Katsuyuki said his visit to the Maritime Territory in Russia's Far East had been held in an honest atmosphere, which allowed an open exchange of opinions. He inspected the facilities to dismantle submarines in Bolshoi Kamen, the Chazhma and Razboinik bays, and exchanged opinions with officials in charge of the facilities and Commander of the Pacific Fleet Viktor Fyodorov.

Katsuyuki pledged to submit a report on the results of his visit to the Japanese government. Japan will then formulate its position for talks in Moscow next week on this basis.

The implementation of the second stage of the program will be continued in fall if the Moscow talks are a success.

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