July 15, 2006

Bush, Putin announce global nuclear terror plan

By Louis Charbonneau

ST PETERSBURG, Russia (Reuters) - President Bush and
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Saturday the
launch of a plan to combat the global threat of nuclear
terrorism and invited other countries to join them.

"We have come up with a joint statement about the
importance of fighting acts of nuclear terrorism," Putin told a
joint news conference after meeting Bush ahead of this
weekend's summit of the Group of Eight industrial nations in St

"In this way our countries demonstrate our common
commitment to undertake the most serious measures to prevent
purchases, transportation and the use of radioactive materials
by terrorists," he said.

The joint statement by Bush and Putin said the threat of
nuclear terrorism was "one of the most dangerous international
security challenges we face."

It invited other countries to join the initiative and said
they would cooperate closely with the U.N. nuclear watchdog in
Vienna, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

"Interacting closely with the IAEA, we will take steps to
improve participants' capabilities to ensure accounting,
control and physical protection of nuclear materials and
radioactive substances, as well as security of nuclear
facilities," the statement said.

It would also work to improve the ability of countries to
"detect and suppress illicit trafficking" of nuclear materials.

The plan aims to keep track of potential terrorists, secure
nuclear materials and permit a joint response if terrorists
obtain a nuclear weapon, a U.S. official said earlier.

Participants will also work to deny safe haven to
terrorists seeking to acquire or use nuclear materials, the
statement said.

The United States and Russia have already been working
together for years to combat the threat of nuclear terrorism.
Often in cooperation with the IAEA, Russian and U.S. experts
have secured bomb-grade atomic materials from facilities in
eastern Europe.

In March 2002, the governing board of the IAEA launched the
"IAEA Action Plan" to combat nuclear terrorism and the United
States was the single biggest contributor. The agency has
repeatedly warned about the threat of nuclear terrorism.

(Additional reporting by Steve Holland and Dmitry