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12 August 2004

NATO Experts Observe Anti-Terrorism Exercise in Russia

Avaria 2004 focuses on protecting nuclear weapons convoys

Experts from 17 NATO countries and the organization's headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, recently observed a Russian military exercise that focused on defending nuclear weapons convoys -- truck or rail -- from terrorist attacks.

The Avaria 2004 exercise, held August 3-5, marked the first time NATO has observed a Russian military exercise of this kind. The exercise was held at a testing ground near the town of Olenegorsk in the Murmansk region.

Following is a NATO press release:

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NATO Update
11 August 2004


From 3 to 5 August 2004, NATO experts observed a Russian military exercise, Avaria 2004, focused on protecting and defending nuclear weapons convoys and responding to terrorist attacks.

The exercise, part of the NATO-Russia Council work programme, was held at a testing ground near the town of Olenegorsk in the Murmansk region.

It simulated a scenario in which terrorists attack a truck or rail convoy with the aim of capturing the transported nuclear weapon. The convoy guards were to repel the terrorist attack before arrival of main response force, a team of helicopters and armoured vehicles to assist the guards.

Divers also demonstrated searching for and recovering a container holding a nuclear weapon from a submerged vehicle.

Openness and Transparency

Fifty experts from 17 NATO countries and NATO headquarters attended the exercise, the first time that Alliance representatives have observed a Russian military exercise of this kind.

Speaking at the exercise, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov emphasized that Russia "seeks to hold an open exercise to show our possibilities in ensuring safety at nuclear facilities".

Avaria 2004 involved over 1,000 people including 700 servicemen of the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation, representatives of the Leningrad and Moscow military districts, Air Force, Air Defence, North Fleet naval helicopters as well as rescue units of the Emergency Management Ministry of the Russian Federation and the Federal Atomic Energy Agency.

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(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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