Russia to scrap all decommissioned nuke subs by 2012

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Moscow, Nov 14 (UNI) Russia will scrap all decommissioned nuclear-powered submarines by the beginning of 2012, Vladimir Nikitin, the general director of the Zvezdochka ship-repairing facility in Severodvinsk in northern Russia, said today.

''All decommissioned Russian nuclear submarines will be disposed of in 2010, or no later than the start of 2012,'' Nikitin told RIA Novosti news agency.

He said more than 200 out of 250 nuclear submarines built in the Soviet Union and later in Russia have so far been scrapped, many of them with financial support from other countries like Norway, Japan and Britain.

He said the programme to dismantle nuclear submarines from the Northern Fleet had almost been completed and the majority of vessels due to be scrapped are currently with the Pacific Fleet.

''At present, we must focus on the Pacific Fleet because the dismantling process is slower there,'' Nikitin stressed.

Zvezdochka is Russia's biggest shipyard for repairing and dismantling of nuclear-powered submarines.

Nikitin said the shipyard has the capacity to dismantle up to four nuclear submarines per year.

During the dismantlement, spent nuclear fuel is removed from the submarine's reactors and sent to storage, the hull is cut into three sections, and the bow and stern sections are removed and destroyed. The reactor section is sealed and transferred to storage.

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