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    NUCLEAR WEAPONS SHOULD NOT BE USED AGAINST TERRORISTS

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    WASHINGTON, April 7, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - A series of noteworthy remarks have been made by Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov in the course of his address at the Center for Defense Information in the American capital.

    Thus, replying to a question about the expediency of using nuclear weapons in the struggle against terrorism, Ivanov said: "Honestly speaking, traditional weapons are quite enough against terrorists." The use of nuclear weapons against terrorists, according to the minister, may drastically lower the threshold of their employment. "We can let the genie out of the bottle," Ivanov added.

    In commenting on an issue which has been particularly pressing in the recent period - leakage of military-purpose nuclear materials - the Russian minister said: "I can speak with certainty about weapons-grade nuclear materials - plutonium and uranium. I state with full responsibility that there cannot be any leakage of such materials from Russia," Ivanov said.

    "What is more, there is not a single example of even one gram of military-grade plutonium or uranium being left unaccounted-for," the Russian minister added.

    Ivanov believes that Iraq's territory has become the center for attracting terrorist groupings from all over the Arab East. "Iraq's territory occupied by US and allied troops, including those that joined NATO the other day, has become a focus of attraction for members of terrorist groupings from all over the Arab East, a genuine magnet for extremists of all hues," the Russian minister said.

    This happened because there was no real coalition-based coordination of stabilization measures, reckons the head of Russia's defense department.

    He believes that the world is still threatened by large-scale terrorist attacks.

    "There are many examples when terrorists, including those who fought in Chechnya, have instructions ready at hand on how to make poisons and toxic agents. Unfortunately, this is a result of globalization: now one can see in the Internet how to make dangerous devices." Characteristically, the Russian minister believes, future potential conflicts will somehow or other be connected with the economy, in particular, with access to some or other resources.

    "So one of the tasks of the Armed Forces of Russia is to protect our economic interests. We have started holding appropriate exercises," he said.

    According to him, the first such training exercise took place on the Baltic in 2002.

    "Also in 2002, we held water and ground exercises in Sakhalin. I may note that large American investments are there. We therefore train our troops to protect not only Russian interests," Ivanov said.

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