- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Sentinels on guard

Despite growing foreign-policy disputes, Moscow and Washington have prevented an accidental nuclear disaster with extensive communication links through Nuclear Risk Reduction Centers (NRRCs), Russian Ambassador Yuri Ushakovsaid in a review of 20 years of the program established under President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

“The NRRCs have proved their efficiency as an instrument of transparency and confidence-building,” he said in a speech last week at the State Department. “Moreover, they have become a reliable mechanism designed to diminish and eliminate the very potential threat of an accidental nuclear disaster.”

The centers were established under a 1987 agreement signed in Washington by then-Secretary of State George P. Shultz and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze. Mr. Reagan and Mr. Gorbachev discussed the concept at a summit in Geneva two years earlier. The two centers opened in the State Department and in Moscow’s Defense Ministry to exchange information on missile launches, missile reduction and compliance with bilateral nuclear-missile treaties.

“Indeed the centers in Moscow and in Washington made a great contribution to overcoming the legacy of the Cold War and strengthen cooperation between our two countries to the benefit of mutual trust and strategic partnership,” Mr. Ushakov said.

He explained that the centers constitute a “significant integral part of arms control and disarmament regimes,” such as the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.

Mr. Ushakov predicted that the centers will be needed into the foreseeable future and their staffs have job security as long as there are nuclear weapons.

“So,” he said, “everyone working at the centers can be assured: They won’t be fired and left unemployed in any government structural changes or election campaigns. Sentinels that watch day and night the evolving security threats are always needed on duty.”

Peoria to protocol

The woman who raised the profile of the fight against breast cancer is the new U.S. chief of protocol.

Nancy G. Brinker, who most recently served as ambassador to Hungary, took over the top diplomatic post last week to support President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on official matters of diplomatic protocol.

In her position, Mrs. Brinker is also responsible for the maintenance of Blair House, the official presidential guesthouse where heads of state stay while visiting Mr. Bush.

Mrs. Brinker, a native of Peoria, Ill., established a breast-cancer research foundation named for her sister, who died from the disease in 1980. Susan G. Komen for the Cure has raised nearly $1 billion through events such as the famous Race for the Cure 5-kilometer run.

Forbes magazine presented her with its annual Trailblazer Award to recognize her fight against breast cancer.

Spanish aid

Three years after the terrorist attacks in Madrid, Spain and the United States reached a “permanent cooperation agreement” in the fight against terrorism.

U.S. Ambassador Eduardo Aguirre and Spain’s secretary of state for security, Antonio Camacho, signed the agreement Sunday to boost efforts between the U.S. Terrorist Screening Center and Spain’s National Anti-Terrorism Coordination Center.

Terrorists killed 191 persons and wounded more than 2,000 in attacks on four commuter trains in Madrid on March 11, 2004.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@ washingtontimes.com.

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