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    RUSSIA WILL NOT GRANT AMERICAN INSPECTORS ACCESS TO NUCLEAR SITES

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    MOSCOW, March 1. (RIA Novosti)-According to a joint statement made by the US and Russian presidents that was posted on the weekend on the latter's official Web site, www.kremlin.ru, Vladimir Putin agreed at the Bratislava summit to grant US inspectors access to Russian nuclear facilities. However, the text was immediately updated, with several phrases deleted from the penultimate paragraph, and the edited version says nothing of inspections, Vedomosti reports.

    A Kremlin source says, "at the summit, Mr. Bush raised the issue of granting Americans access to Russian nuclear sites, but the Russian side did not agree to these requests." He added that there were no secret agreements or supplements, and a draft statement had been posted by mistake.

    The US State Department reports there were no clauses about on-site inspections in Russia in the English-language statement.

    An informed source in Russia's Federal Agency for Nuclear Power (Rosatom) says there have been no agreements with the US on on-site inspections of Russian nuclear facilities. However, he said the Nunn-Lugar Program (named after Senators Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar) had been launched in 1991, under which the US has been funding various nuclear-related activities in Russia, including the modernization of nuclear facilities' security systems. Since the early 1990s, American experts have been admitted to some key nuclear sites belonging to the Defense Ministry and Rosatom to assess security systems. However, the source said they had never been allowed inside, which "caused their discontent."

    The director of Rosatom's Strategic Stability Institute, Viktor Mikhailov, who was nuclear power minister from 1992 through 1998, says, "This kind of monitoring regime [on-site inspections] cannot be established, and has never been discussed."

    Boris Shmelyov, the head of the Center for Comparative Political Science at the Institute for International Economy and International Relations, says, "A joint statement is a declarative document to which no secret supplements can be signed." This means that Russia and the US are going to do exactly what is stated in the statement.

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