Russian officials Tuesday sought to allay fears that the former Soviet Union's nuclear weapons, scientists or reactors pose a threat to world security.
Western experts have criticized the reactors built by the Soviet Union as poorly designed and operated. They also have voiced concern about whether Russia's economic problems might cause some nuclear experts to be lured away by nations like Libya and Iraq that are trying to develop nuclear weapons."The fears about nuclear secrets leaving Russia do not have any basis," a Russian Security Ministry spokesman, Gen. Alexander Gurov, told reporters at the former KGB building in Moscow.
But Col. Mikhail Dedyukin, the security ministry's deputy chief for military affairs, acknowledged that "nobody can guarantee that scientists might go abroad illegally."
The news conference by nine officials from Russia's security forces and nuclear industry came a week after a radiation leak and emergency shutdown of a Cher-nobyl-style reactor at a nuclear plant near St. Petersburg.
Russian experts said the March 24 incident posed no threat to the public because little radiation was released. But the event heightened concerns about safety at nuclear plants in the former Soviet states and eastern Europe.
In other developments Monday:
- A Moldovan militiaman and a nurse were killed in the breakaway Trans-Dniester region after a state of emergency was imposed in the former Soviet republic, reports said. Eleven people were wounded.
In Georgia, meanwhile, the ruling State Council ordered supporters of ousted President Zviad Gamsakhurdia to lay down their arms by midnight or face military action, the ITAR-Tass news agency said.
Moldovan President Mircea Snegur imposed a state of emergency Saturday after weeks of fighting between the republic's dominant Romanian community and the Slavic separatists that are predominant in Trans-Dniester. The decree ordered troops to "liquidate and disarm" separatist forces.
- Pravda didn't reappear at newsstands in Moscow as promised Monday, and another symbol of the former Communist Party paper disappeared as workers stripped its name from a Moscow building.
Editor-in-Chief Gennady Seleznov told reporters that a bank, which granted the paper a loan to keep running, had not yet transferred money to the paper.