• Kyodo

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The international foundation coordinating operations to salvage the sunken Russian nuclear submarine Kursk has asked for contributions from Japan, the foundation said Friday.

“The foundation sent out specific letters to the prime minister of Japan” in early February, said foundation Secretary General Rio Praaning.

Requests for financial support have also gone to other rich nations, including the United States, Canada and the European Union, he said.

The foundation was jointly set up in autumn by Russia and the Netherlands to map out plans for raising the vessel. The Kursk is some 100 meters below the surface of the Barents Sea off the Russian coast.

The project is estimated to cost some $70 million. Under an agreement, the foundation expects the European Commission and individual EU nations to cover nearly half the total.

According to Praaning, the foundation recently received a letter from European Commission President Romano Prodi indicating a “basic willingness to assist.”

No reply had been received as of Friday from the U.S., Canada or Japan, he said, adding that he hopes those nations will react positively in the next few weeks.

“It is a matter of shared concerns,” said Praaning, noting that the environment could be seriously contaminated by radioactivity.

A military source said there are a lot of weapons on the Kursk, including torpedoes and some 18 cruise missiles. All of these are unexploded, close to the reactors and exposed to seawater.

The foundation outlined three phases to the recovery operation, which will be finalized in July-August when the weather is most stable.

The Kursk sank Aug. 12 in the Barents Sea. Despite offers to assist in rescue operations from many nations, it was determined Aug. 21 that all the submarine’s compartments had flooded and everyone on board had died.

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