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    Japan to finance dismantling of three Russian nuclear submarines

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    VLADIVOSTOK, August 3 (RIA Novosti) - Japan will finance the scrapping of three Russian nuclear submarines decommissioned from the Pacific Fleet under a joint project with Russia, a senior Japanese diplomat said Friday.

    The three Victor class vessels will be dismantled under the Star of Hope program for the dismantlement of decommissioned nuclear submarines in Russia's Far East, which was adopted in 2003 during a visit by former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to Russia.

    "A contract signed at the Zvezda military shipyard August 2...stipulates complete dismantling of three Victor III class nuclear submarines by the end of 2008," Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Sekiguchi Masakazu told a news conference in Vladivostok.

    A Japanese delegation arrived in the Primorye Territory in Russia's Far East August 1 to monitor the implementation of the Star of Hope project, which is fully financed by Japan.

    "As far as I know, Russia has pledged to scrap all nuclear submarines decommissioned from the Pacific Fleet by the end of 2010, and Japan is willing to provide assistance to this project," the Japanese diplomat said.

    According to some reports, there are about 30 decommissioned nuclear submarines moored at various ports in the Russian Far East.

    During the dismantlement process, spent nuclear fuel is removed from the submarine's reactors and sent to storage, the hull is cut into three sections, and the bow and stern sections are removed and destroyed. The reactor section is sealed and transferred to storage.

    Masakazu said one of the Russian submarines had already been dismantled and talks on scrapping a Charlie I class nuclear submarine, located at a base on the Kamchatka Peninsula, were currently underway.

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