Proliferation Press

A webpage devoted to tracking and analyzing current events related to the proliferation of WMD/CBRN.

Russia Update: Ailing Economy; Successful Missile Test & Delayed Nuclear Deal with Australia

Posted by proliferationpresswm on September 20, 2008

 

AFP reports that Australia may drag its feet on a nuclear fuel deal with Russia. Meanwhile, Russia keeps up its aggressive posturing: Deutsche Welle reports on Russia’s successful testing of a new ballistic missile.

By the way, the missile can hold up to ten nuclear warheads.

But how does the recent finance-melt and US-led bailout alter Russia’s geo-political outlook. With Asian, European and Russian markets benefiting from the record $700 US tax payer-backed bailout coupled with falling oil-prices, how much saber-rattling can Russia afford?

Here’s a WSJ article examining Russia’s economic troubles. From the article:

 

The market’s collapse, down 57% since May, is linked to the dysfunctional nature of the Russian state and economy. Nearly every aspect of commerce in Russia is deeply entangled with state power, if not with Mr. Putin personally. This, for obvious reasons, does not comfort most investors.

One famous investor in particular was worried about the security of doing business in Mr. Putin’s Russia. Rupert Murdoch, speaking on News Corp.’s earnings call on Aug. 5, had this to say: “The more I read about investments in Russia, the less I like the feel of it. The more successful we’d be, the more vulnerable we’d be to have it stolen from us, so there we sell now.”

The hoped-for liberalization under new Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has turned out to be another case of wishful thinking both in Russia and the West. There’s no doubt in the business community about who’s really in charge. After his cronies’ takeover attempt of steel and coal giant Mechel was rebuffed, Mr. Putin’s public outburst of criticism in late July was enough to destroy the company’s market value.

From AFP:

The west’s relations with Russia are at a turning point after its intervention in Georgia and a pact to sell Australian uranium to Moscow is in the balance, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said Thursday. 

Parliament’s treaties committee earlier recommended that the deal signed with former president Vladimir Putin last year be put on hold because of concerns about Russia’s nuclear weapons programme. 

The committee said the government should first satisfy itself that the billion-dollars-a-year (800,000 US dollars) worth of the nuclear fuel would be used solely for civilian nuclear power. 

And it should give more consideration to recent events such as the conflict in Georgia, the committee’s report said.

… 

Australia, which has the world’s largest known reserves of uranium, stipulated in its pact to sell the nuclear material to Russia that it not be used to make nuclear weapons or be sold on to any other country.

And from Deutsche Welle: 

With a range of 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles), the Bulava can be equipped with up to 10 individually targeted nuclear warheads.

The missile test-fire comes during a time when US-Russia relations have hit a post Cold War low after Moscow’s recent military intervention in Georgia. Washington harshly criticized the military move.

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