Helping hand

Published: Thursday 15 August 2002

Cold war legacy surfaces A us $108.8 million global fund has been raised to tackle environmental problems and nuclear waste in northwest Russia. At a recent conference in Brussels, the European Commission pledged us $50.33 million for the fund and Russia, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands offered us $10.06 million each.

The erstwhile Soviet Union built nuclear submarines during the Cold War, which are now being decommissioned. Many of the vessels are rusting away at bases on the Barents Sea. Around us $503 million is to be spent on tackling these submarines and the spent radioactive material stored in hazardous conditions.

Even as Russia welcomed the fund, it preferred the aid programme to be more focused on its non-nuclear elements. This is because cleaning of radioactive waste involves higher costs. "We are far from enthusiastic about the intention to direct half of the fund to the nuclear part of the environmental programme," said Russia's deputy finance minister, Sergei Kolotukhin. He added that Russia would prefer to discuss nuclear clean-up in the context of a wider programme agreed upon in June with the us and other members of the g-8 group. The g-8 plan has earmarked about us $20 billion over the next 10 years to help Russia get rid of old weapons of mass destruction.

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