- MOSCOW, Russia -- The operation
to recover the bodies of the sunken nuclear submarine Kursk will begin
in four weeks, Russia has announced.
- Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov also said an attempt
will be made to raise the wreck next year because of fears over radiation
leaks from the submarine's reactors.
- Klebanov said if the Kursk were left at the bottom of
the <map.russia.barents.sea.jpgBarents Sea, where it sank last month
with the loss of 118 sailors, "the public, and not only ecologists,
would remain alarmed."
- Speaking on RTR television's weekly news magazine program
Zerkalo on Sunday, Klebanov, who is leading the investigation into the
cause of the disaster, said that raising the submarine would be an "extremely
complicated process," likely to cost $100 million, but that Russia
wanted to complete it within a year.
- He also gave details of the government's intention to
begin an operation to recover the bodies of the Kursk's crew.
- "We are going to start this operation between September
28 and 30. I cannot say how much time it will take. For the moment we count
on two weeks, three weeks at the maximum," he said.
- The Russian company Rubin, which built the submarine
and is to organise the recovery operation, has signed a draft agreement
with Norwegian oil contractor Stolt Offshore to help complete the mission.
- During the recovery operation, estimated to cost between
$5 million and $7 million, Klebanov said holes will be cut in the submarine's
hull, allowing divers to enter to extract the corpses.
- He said the operation would be carried out by teams of
three divers, each made up of two Russians and one Norwegian.
- Collision not ruled out
- The Oscar-class II submarine sank on August 12 during
naval exercises and following at least one devastating explosion.
- The Russian authorities have always maintained that the
reactors were successfully shut down by the crew and that no increases
in radiation in the area where it now rests have been reported.
- But "public opinion worldwide and in Russia is worried
about the issue, and so we are going to extract the reactor," Klebanov
- While the cause of the accident is not known, Russian
officials believe the Kursk collided with another object, possibly a foreign
vessel or a Second World War mine, although it is possible that one of
the submarine's torpedoes exploded.
- Russia's Baltic Fleet commander Vladimir Yegorov, also
speaking on the Zerkalo programme, said the possibility of a torpedo explosion
"has not been excluded," but repeated the claim that a collision
with an unidentified object was the likely cause.
- Western defence officials, including those at Nato and
in Britain, have strongly denied any suggestion the accident was caused
by a collision with a foreign submarine.
- Reuters contributed to this report.
Site Served by TheHostPros