Help for Russia in nuclear clear-up: South Korea offers money and experts after Moscow admits to dumping waste at sea

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SEOUL (AFP) - South Korea and Russia will launch a joint survey of the Sea of Japan, where Moscow has admitted to dumping tons of radioactive nuclear waste over the past three decades, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said yesterday.

Russia has agreed to a South Korean request to take part in the joint survey to assess the damage caused by Moscow's dumping of two decommissioned nuclear reactors and 92,400 cubic feet of solid radioactive waste into the Sea of Japan and waters off the Kamchatka peninsula between 1966 and 1992, the official said.

A Russian white paper has confirmed the former Soviet Union and Russia have dumped tons of nuclear waste into the Sea of Japan, and the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans.

The report prompted outrage in Japan, and South Korea called on Russia to halt the dumping immediately and agree to a joint survey. Moscow said it would welcome Seoul's contribution of experts, equipment and funds to finance the survey, estimated at nearly dollars 400,000 ( pounds 265,000), the Seoul official said.

But he added Moscow had also said the waste was not highly toxic and it would have to continue dumping into the sea because it lacked proper facilities on land. But Russia promised to keep within the guidelines of the London Dumping Convention.

In Tokyo yesterday the Foreign Minister, Kabun Muto, said Japan would ask the G7 nations to help build facilities in Russia to store radioactive waste.