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High-Profile Delegation Announces Plans to Protect Nuclear Security

A U.S.-based nonproliferation group is visiting Russia and Kazakhstan to inspect projects designed to reduce the threat from nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. The Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) is a global effort to improve security.

The board members of the Nuclear Threat Initiative held their annual meeting in Moscow this week to discuss efforts to control nuclear materials.

The NTI sponsors many different projects in the former Soviet Union and other countries aimed at safeguarding dangerous materials that could fall into the hands of terrorist groups.

On Saturday the board members visited Kazakhstan where they unveiled a project to eliminate nearly three metric tons of weapons-grade nuclear fuel.

The organization was founded by former U.S. Democrat Senator Sam Nunn and Cable News Network (CNN) founder and philanthropist Ted Turner.

During his time in the Senate, Mr. Nunn and Republican Senator Richard Lugar sponsored legislation that has provided funds to dispose of and safeguard dangerous nuclear materials in Russia and other former Soviet republics.

But in Moscow, Mr. Nunn noted that despite this, the threat remains very real.

"Raw materials of nuclear terrorism is housed in hundreds of facilities in more than 40 countries around the globe," said Senator Nunn. "Some of it is secured by nothing more than an underpaid guard and a chain-link fence."

Apart from disposing of nuclear material, NTI seeks to employ scientists who have long worked on nuclear, biological or chemical weapons in the past.

To this end, NTI announced a grant of $1 million for a new technopark outside a closed nuclear city in central Russia where nuclear specialists will work on a nuclear fuel program.

The United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency or IAEA also supports the work of the NTI.

The agency's head Mohamed ElBaradei attended the Moscow meeting just before he and the IAEA were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Mr. ElBaradei said the new projects are an example of coordinated efforts to improve nuclear security.

"This is a model of cooperation between intergovernmental organization and civil society," noted Mr. ElBaradei. "So we are putting all our heads together to see how best we can protect humanity."

The NTI board also includes specialists from Japan, China and Russia.