Russia, West At Odds Over Plan To Rid Syria Of Chemical Arm

Iran, Russia agree to build new nuclear plant

The top executives of both countries state train operators inaugurated a route today that links the North Korean port city of Rajin with the Russian border town of Khasan. Initially, the 54-kilometer (33-mile) line will transport Russian coal to markets in the Asia-Pacific region, OAO Russian Railways Chief Executive Officer Vladimir Yakunin said at the ceremony in Rajin. The second phase of the project will involve the construction of a container-handling facility and potentially an oil terminal at the North Korean site, he said. Our common objective is for this link and port to be a pilot scheme for the restoration of a single transport system in North and South Korea that would link the peninsula to countries that gravitate to this region, to Europe via Russia, Yakunin said. The CEO said he hopes the plan will help promote peace between the two Koreas, which remain technically at war following the conflict 1950-53 that divided the countries. The route is part of a larger project, dubbed the Iron Silk Road, that would connect Russia s Trans-Siberian Railway to South Korea via the North for an overland route cutting transportation costs to Europe. Success depends on improved ties between South Korea and its isolated Communist neighbor. Reunions Scrapped North Korea canceled plans today for reunions this week of families separated by the division of the peninsula, and accused South Korean leaders of throwing obstacles in the way of reconciliation. The North also put off talks on resuming tours by South Koreans to its Mount Geumgang resort after recent weeks of improved relations between the two sides. Kim Jong Uns regime accused the South of seeking confrontation, and threatened strong and decisive retaliation against any military provocation. The Khasan-Rajin rail link will carry 100,000 freight containers a year, the Norths official Korean Central News Agency reported in April 2012. The freight terminal at Rajin will be able to handle 4 million tons a year of coal, Yakunin said today, including shipments for OAO Mechel , Russias biggest supplier of the material for steelmakers. The new rail connection will promote the joint economic and transport development of the two countries and welfare of their peoples, North Korean Railways Minister Chon Kil-su said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin takes part in a meeting of leaders of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) in Sochi September 23, 2013. REUTERS/Alexey Druzhinin/RIA Novosti/Kremlin

The 41-member Executive Council of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in The Hague is expected to vote on Tuesday on a joint Russian-American proposal to rapidly verify and destroy Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile. That vote has been repeatedly delayed. According to the U.S.-Russia framework agreement, the chemical arms agency’s Executive Council will detail “special procedures for expeditious destruction of the Syrian chemical weapons program and stringent verification thereof.” The chemical arms agency’s decision must be approved by a simple majority of council members, though agreement is almost always reached through a consensus, which is expected in Syria’s case. The council meets behind closed doors but may be open to observer countries that are not yet members. Syria is not yet a full member. Syria acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention this month in line with the U.S.-Russia deal. Its accession to the treaty comes into force in October. WHAT ARE KEY DEADLINES UNDER THE U.S.-RUSSIA DEAL? On Saturday, the one-week limit for Syria to present a complete list of its chemical weapons program lapsed. Syria submitted the list to the OPCW, the agency said. By November 30, inspectors from The Hague’s chemical arms agency are due to have completed on-site inspections of locations declared by Syria. November 30 is also the deadline for destruction of chemical weapons production and mixing/filling equipment.

Russia Opens North Korean Rail Link for ‘Iron Silk Road’

He said Russia and its allies would provide “additional collective assistance” to Tajikistan to guard its border with Afghanistan after the pullout of most foreign combat troops in 2014. Russia, which has a large Muslim minority of its own and is fighting an Islamist insurgency, has accused the West of helping militants by seeking Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s removal without paying enough attention to the potential consequences. Putin told leaders of the six-nation Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) that militants fighting Assad could eventually expand attacks beyond Syria and the Middle East. “The militant groups (in Syria) did not come out of nowhere, and they will not vanish into thin air,” Putin said. “The problem of terrorism spilling from one country to another is absolutely real and could directly affect the interests of any one of our countries,” he said, citing the deadly attack on a shopping mall in Nairobi as an example. “We are now witnessing a terrible tragedy unfold in Kenya. The militants came from another country, as far as we can judge, and are committing horrendous, bloody crimes,” Putin said at a CSTO summit in the Russian Black Sea resort city of Sochi. His words appeared to be a warning about violence spreading from both Syria and Afghanistan, which shares a long border with CSTO member Tajikistan in Central Asia. BORDER ASSISTANCE Reiterating concerns violence could spread to former Soviet Central Asia and Russia after the pullout of most foreign combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, he said CSTO nations agreed to draft a plan to protect the border. “We will provide additional collective assistance to Tajikistan to strengthen the Tajik-Afghan state border,” Putin said. He gave no details.

Russia’s Putin says Syria violence could hit ex-Soviet bloc

The agreement was reached in a recent Iran Russia joint economic commission, Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran, was quoted as saying by the Press TV, according to Xinhua. Iran takes control of the 1,000-megawatt Bushehr nuclear power plant for a temporary period of two years. Salehi said Sunday that Iranians will fully take over at the plant after the temporary period, according to Press TV. The power station became officially operational and was connected to Iran’s national grid in September 2011, generating electricity at 40 percent capacity. The plant reached its maximum power generation capacity in August 2012. Salehi Monday expressed hope that the construction of the second unit of the Bushehr nuclear power plant would get underway in the near future. Earlier this month, Russian Ambassador to Iran Levan Dzhagaryan said that Moscow was ready to increase its nuclear cooperation with Tehran even after the Islamic republic takes full control of the Russian built Bushehr nuclear power plant. Salehi had said earlier that Iran hoped Russia could participate in constructing the second unit of the Bushehr nuclear plant. According to the Iranian official, the capacity of the second unit of the nuclear power plant will add another 4,000 megawatt to the current 1,000-megawatt capacity. Russia’s state atomic agency Rosatom said that it was ready to help Iran build another unit at the Bushehr plant. Construction of the Bushehr plant was started in 1975 by several German companies. However, the work halted when the US imposed an embargo on hi tech supplies to Iran after the 1979 revolution. Russia signed a contract with Iran to complete the construction in 1998. Rate this content: