1st Press Briefing at Hotel National in Moscow, Russia

Office of the Press Secretary
(Moscow, Russia)

For Immediate Release September 1, 1998


Hotel National
Moscow, Russia

3:48 P.M. (L)

COLONEL CROWLEY: Good afternoon. Behind some ofthe issues that have drawn many of the headlines this week withregard to the summit meeting -- on economics, on politics --there are some of the traditional security, nonproliferation, andarms control issues that have been among the cornerstones of theU.S.-Russia relationship and U.S.-Russia partnership. So here tobrief on some of those aspects today we'll provide you with twobriefers and then four distinguished individuals to answer yourquestions afterwards.

Briefing first will be Robert Bell, who is theSpecial Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs,to talk about agreement on exchange of information on missilelaunches and early warning. And he will be followed by GarySamore, who is the Senior Director for Nonproliferation at theNational Security Council, who will talk about an agreementregarding plutonium disposition.

We'll start off with Bob Bell.

MR. BELL: Thank you, P.J.

I'll begin with a brief statement on the earlywarning agreement, and then Ted Warner and myself will be happyto take any questions you have on that. Ted has been veryinvolved in the military-to-military talks that preceded thesummit and the diplomatic meetings that we've had in recent weeksthat led up to the agreement as well.

The principal achievement for this summit in thearea of arms control is the agreement the two Presidents willsign tomorrow committing the United States and Russia to thesharing of early warning data on the launches, worldwide, ofballistic missiles and space launch vehicles. As part of thisinitiative, the two Presidents also have agreed to establish amultilateral missile pre-launch notification regime.

As some of you know who have been with us before, atpast summits, including in 1995 and 1997, the two Presidents haddirected that their two militaries explore early warning sharingas it relates to theater missile defenses. With this agreementtoday, this cooperation will now be expanded into the strategicarena. We believe this is a very important initiative for tworeasons. First, the agreement strengthens strategic stability byestablishing further protection against the possibility of anuclear launch by one side triggered by the misinterpretation ofdata concerning the origin, aim point or missile type associatedwith a particular launch.

Many of you are quite familiar with the muchreported incident in January 1995, when the Russian command andcontrol system appeared to have been temporarily confused by thedetection of a Norwegian scientific rocket launch. Thisagreement today on early warning sharing is especially relevantat a time when Russia's early warning system is under stress frombudget difficulties, systems failures and the closure of earlywarning radars on the soil of nations outside Russia.

For example, pursuant to an agreement between Russiaand Latvia, the Russian early warning radar at Skrunda was shutdown just yesterday. And I would note that Senator JeffBingaman, who is accompanying the President on this trip, hasbeen particularly engaged over the last several years on thisissue of strategic stability and his concern about the Russiancommand and control system.

Second, the agreement takes account of thecontinuing worldwide proliferation of ballistic missiles and ofmissile technologies, and represents a major step forward by theUnited States and Russia in cooperating to address this commonthreat.

Now, in terms of the specific aspects of thissharing arrangement, I would emphasize that while key elementshave been agreed in the military-to-military discussions anddiplomatic exchanges that preceded the summit, there are manydetails that experts will still need to agree upon in the comingmonths. But let me mention first the five key elements that havebeen agreed to by the two Presidents today.

First, the data sharing will be reciprocal andcontinuous. We will provide information to them, they willprovide information to us on a continuous and virtual real timebasis. Second, the data will include information on strategicballistic missiles, theater and intermediate-range ballisticmissiles, and space-launched vehicles launched worldwide. Third,the data will include information derived from each country'slaunch detection satellites and their ground-based radars.Fourth, each side will process its own early warning data attheir own national centers before providing it on to the otherstate. And, fifth, the multilateral pre-launch notificationregime for ballistic missile and space launch vehicle launcheswill be open on a voluntary basis to all countries that choose toparticipate.

Now, in this regard I think it's important to notethat in addition to praising the U.S.-Russian early warningagreement, the United Kingdom is announcing today that henceforthit will provide five days advance notice of all launches of itsTrident missile system.

Now, remaining to be decided are questions relatingto the exact scope and specificity of the data being provided andthe architecture for relaying and receiving it. For example, theUnited States and Russia will need to consider whether, inaddition to the national centers each nation will establish toprovide the other with the early warning data, whether we shouldinclude a separate or third center that would be operated andmanned by both nations. At such a center the United States andRussia could have military officers sitting side by side toanswer questions about each other's data, or to initiatecommunications back to their own respective command and controlsystems to try to resolve any ambiguities. And the jointstatement that the two Presidents will sign tomorrow makesspecific mention of the possibility of establishing such a commoncenter operated by the United States and Russia.

These and other remaining technical questions willbe addressed by experts from the two sides, including Ted Warnerand myself, with the goal of completing a detailed plan for theapproval of the two governments as quickly as possible, leadingto the actual exchange of data as soon as practical.

In conclusion, I would simply say that we believethis agreement, which follows in the tradition of other importantstrategic stability measures -- including the hot line, thenuclear risk reduction centers, the detargeting accord -- willmove us another important step back from the nuclear precipice ofthe Cold War and help make it a safer world.

MR. SAMORE: Hello. I'd like to brief you on animportant agreement that the Presidents will sign tomorrow on themanagement and disposition of weapons plutonium, which issignificant both from the standpoint of arms control and from thestandpoint of nonproliferation. And afterwards, myself and DebraCagan, who helped to negotiate the statement, will be happy toanswer your questions.

Under the terms of this statement, both the UnitedStates and Russia have agreed to withdraw approximately 50 metrictons of weapons plutonium from their nuclear weapons program,which is enough plutonium for thousands of nuclear weapons andrepresents a very significant portion of the total plutoniumholdings in both countries.

Furthermore, both countries have agreed to cooperatein transforming this weapons plutonium into a form that cannot beused -- physically cannot be used for nuclear weapons. And weand the Russians have identified two technical methods that webelieve are most appropriate for carrying out thistransformation. One is the use of this material as fuel innuclear power reactors to generate power. And second is to mixthe plutonium with high-level radioactive waste and then store itin a nuclear waste repository. Both of these techniques have theadvantage of changing the plutonium so that it can no longer beused for nuclear weapons and, therefore, could not be used eitherin our arsenal, the Russian arsenal, nor would it be availablefor other countries.

In addition, the two Presidents have directed theirexperts to begin negotiations promptly and to seek to complete adetailed bilateral agreement by the end of this year which wouldlay out the timetable and a number of the details necessary inorder to carry out this very ambitious program.

Such an agreement would include the schedule forbuilding facilities both in the United States and Russia in orderto carry out these two processes. It would include internationalverification measures so that both countries would be confidentthat the transformation was taking place and that the materialcould not be returned to nuclear weapons. It would includeappropriate provisions for safety and for the protection of theenvironment. It would include security and accounting proceduresfor the nuclear material. And finally, it would have to includefinancial arrangements.

Although I can't give you a precise figure, this islikely to be a very expensive program, running into hundreds ofmillions of dollars in both countries, and so, therefore, we'llhave to work with the Russians to establish appropriate financialarrangements. And in that regard we are hoping that othercountries which share our interest in arms control andnonproliferation will be willing to contribute in this project --and, in particular, the G-8 have expressed an interest in workingwith the U.S. and Russia, both technically and financially inorder to carry out this program as quickly as possible.

And finally, I want to mention that SenatorDomenici, who is with us, with the President's delegation here inMoscow, has been a very strong supporter of this program, andwe're counting on the Senator's leadership in Congress in orderto help us carry this program out. Thank you.

Q I have a question. Is this data sharing

supposed to be non-selective? Your point 4 says that each sideprocesses the data that it has before it provides it to the otherside. But is it meant that it cannot say, well, we won't sendthis particular set of data on this particular launch, or, infact, will each side get to pick and choose what it sends?

MR. BELL: Well, first I think you have toappreciate, Sam, that we already have a requirement to processthe data. You can't -- the users of any information, includingour own military commands around the world, couldn't just takethe raw data and work with it. So we already have facilitiesthat are set up.

One important one is in Denver at Buckley Air ForceBase, for strategic ballistic missile information. Another oneis at Falcon Air Station, now called Shriever Air Station, inColorado Springs. And they take the down-link from the varioussystems and fuse it, process it, and provide it to users at thetactical level. The users are commanders in chief of regionalcommands around the world who may need this information for warfighting. In some cases we're sharing tactical information withother countries, including our NATO allies.

So there's already a system set up to down-link,process, and pass on the information. What we're proposing to dohere is to expand the extension of that to Russia, A; and, B, togive them not only information derived from our tacticalballistic missile warning system, but also strategic warning.

Q -- all the information that our own users getof the types of data that you described? We won't select, andthey won't select out particular launches or particularinstances?

MR. BELL: There are some key details that are stillto be resolved here. We're going to have to get the militarytogether now to get down to the fine print in terms of the exactdefinition of the scope and specificity, as I said, of the data.

But we want to be as forward leaning as we can inthis, because if it's going to promote the goal of enhancingstrategic stability to the maximum degree it can, it needs to beas complete a provision of data as we can make it.

Q You know what I'm asking. Do we get towithhold particular points if, in our judgment, it should bewithheld, and do they get to withhold particular points, or isthe commitment whatever data we have on these types that youdescribed that we will give each other -- it goes once we'veprocessed it?

MR. BELL: I don't want to speculate at this point,Sam, about what might or could be withheld. I just want to makethe point that we're going to have to have centers that fuse andprocess all this data and then pass it on, and we're going tohave to work out the details on that scope question with theRussians once we get into the detailed discussions next month.

Ted, do you want to add anything to that?

MR. WARNER: I think the allusion we were making onthe question of getting the parameters was really not along theline you were talking about, it's trying to decide which are theappropriate parameters for warning. And we will have to work out-- as you do that fusing of data and filter it, it's not an issueof trying to leave out a particular launch, it's just within anylaunches, what are the right parameters that each side needs forwarning purposes.

Q So you wouldn't leave out a particular launch?

MR. WARNER: That's not the general direction.

Q On a related subject -- one is the nature ofthe discussions between the United States and Russia on the NorthKorean launch; and secondly, the status of our efforts to getRussian support to persuade the Indians to cease their nuclearprogram.

MR. BELL: I cannot comment on the second onebecause I've not been debriefed by Strobe after his most recentengagement with the Indians, except to point out the obvious,which is that we've been pressing the Indians and the Pakistanigovernment to show restraint in terms of their missile programs.On the first one --

Q But I mean to try to get the Russians to helpus in that effort.

MR. BELL: Exactly. I have not been in touch withthe President since his meetings this morning, so I don't knowwhether the North Korean launch came up. But I would point outthat that launch, had it occurred with this system up andrunning, this is exactly the kind of information that we wouldhave passed on to the Russians under this arrangement -- thearrangement about the Taepo Dong-1 launch and where it went.

Q Can I just ask you a question on the plutonium?How much plutonium does the U.S. and Russians have? Have theRussians made any commitment as to what they might do with theplutonium that they're left with, or do they intend to retainthat as some sort of good? And basically -- I know you haven'tworked out the details, but how long a process is this likely tobe? Two years? Ten years?

MR. SAMORE: Those are all very questions. I can'ttell you exactly what the Russian stockpile is, but we believethat the 50 tons that we're talking about does represent asignificant amount, as much as 25 percent of their totalholdings. On the U.S. side, it's even a larger percentage, asmuch as 50 percent of our total holdings of plutonium.

Now, obviously both the U.S. and Russia -- and mycolleague, Bob Bell, could speak to this better than I can -- wehave embarked on a very ambitious arms control program. As wereduce the number of nuclear weapons, that frees up moreplutonium and more highly-enriched uranium, which we then have tofigure out a way to safely store it until we can dispose of it.And one of the most important cooperative efforts we have inplace with the Russians is to find a way to utilize that materialso that it's no longer available for nuclear weapons and can'tpossibly contribute to proliferation.

In terms of the time frame, we would like to do thisas quickly as possible, but because it's such a large amount, andbecause there are limits on the extent to which you can burn thismaterial in existing reactors, I think we are talking about anumber of years. So at least on an interim basis, for severalyears at least, we're going to have to focus on making sure thatthis material is safely stored. In fact, we have a program inplace with the Russians to build a storage facility at Mayak,which is scheduled to be completed in the next few years. Wewill try to burn the plutonium as quickly as possible, but Ithink it's likely to be at least five years and perhaps moreuntil we can get through this 50 tons.

Q Are you saying that as weapons are dismantledthe stores of plutonium increase, even as plutonium is beingstored and disposed of in some way?

MR. SAMORE: The 50 tons is a big chunk for us todeal with right now, so I can't tell you what we will do as weget down to lower and lower numbers, and therefore additionalmaterial becomes available. But, in theory, obviously, as wehave less need for plutonium and highly-enriched uranium as ournuclear weapons arsenals become smaller, I think we then have tostart thinking about how to, A, store that material, and, B, howto dispose of it.

Q Just one last quick question. Bob, thisballistic warning sharing arrangement, I know you haven'tfinished it yet, in terms of the details, but you project thisbecoming operational when? This year, next year, before the year2000?

MR. BELL: The United States would like to have thefinal detailed plan ready for the governments to approve within afew months. And if the experts can make good progress, we'rehopeful of meeting that time line. Then it's just a matter ofstanding it up. In past cases where we've had sharingarrangements, for example, at the tactical level with our NATOallies, we were able to translate that into an operationalcapability in a year or two. So we would hope that that's a timeframe that might be met in this case certainly before PresidentClinton ends his term in office.

Q The President talked yesterday about the dangerof Russian arms or Russian nuclear products falling into thewrong hands, particularly with the pressure of economic troubles.What's your assessment of the current situation and whetherthere's an increased danger of the spread of nuclear weapons andnuclear technologies because of what's going on right now?

MR. BELL: Well, I think the whole point of thePresident being here and the engagement that he's involved inwith President Yeltsin today is to keep us on a path where Russiais making political and economic reform and the command andcontrol of the military remains very intact and very secure.That's certainly been the assessment of senior American militaryleadership up to now. When General Habiger was here just a fewmonths ago and was given unprecedented access to the Russiannuclear establishment, including the first visit by a seniorAmerican military official to a tactical nuclear storage facilityand a submarine launch ballistic missile base, his conclusion wasthat Russian nuclear weapons are under secure control.

We have seen, of course, nothing in the last weekthat would put that assessment at risk and I just don't want tospeculate about scenarios in terms of which way this currentcrisis could proceed down the road that would bring that intoquestion.

Ted Warner is the Senior defense official in chargeof the Nunn-Lugar program, which is designed precisely tomaintain this pattern of cooperation with the Russians in thisarea. So let's ask Ted to comment.

MR. WARNER: That would be another point, beginningwith the Nunn-Lugar cooperative threat reduction program in theearly 1990s, some of its early emphasis was on the security ofthe Russian nuclear weapons and nuclear material at their variousdepots and as they were moved about, particularly in that earlystage when we were reducing the -- bringing weapons out of otherparts of the former Soviet Union.

We have continued that effort. When Secretary Cohenwas here in February, he and Marshal Sergayev went out -- --Pasad, northwest of Moscow, and visited a facility which isreally the transfer point for additional materials -- bothphysical materials for physical security and materials to keepworking on the personal security issues. We continue tocooperate in that area. I mean, it had been a high priority forus; it remains a high priority. The Department of Energy hassimilarly been working with the institutes in Minatom on thatkind of security in the research establishment.

So this is a longtime staple of our strategicpartnership of this decade. It's one that remains very importantand in this situation I think is even more important. We willcontinue that cooperation.

Q Could you describe a little bit about the earlywarning system and how much danger there is now of accidentallaunch of a Russian missile --

MR. WARNER: We do not believe that -- we've beenthrough this discussion in the United States with some outsideexperts. We do not believe that there are significant dangerstoday, but we believe that these steps will even further reducewhat we think were already very low possibilities.

What this will do will provide the Russians with yetfurther sources of information. And I might go back to thepre-launch notification regime, that when combined with betterpre-launch notification on a global basis of anyone who's goingto test such missiles -- those that voluntarily choose to do this-- now with the sharing of the information to monitor and be ableto cross-check against one's different systems, I think we'vereduces what was already a very low danger even much lower.

Q Is the end result of the direction you're goingwith this agreement the abolition of all nuclear materials sothat there could be no -- for weapons purposes, that is -- sothere will be no nuclear weapons? Is this route the route thatwill get there?

MS. CAGAN: No, I think that we, of course, arecommitted to, as we said in the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty,eventually to nuclear disarmament. But we're not at that pointyet so we're not moving in that direction yet. What we are doingis, both the United States and Russia are firmly committed tofurther reducing their nuclear stockpiles. And as we break upthe remnants of the Cold War, we have to do something with thismaterial.

The Plutonium Disposition Agreement, like theHighly-Enriched Uranium Agreement, are designed to dispose ofthis material in an irreversible way so that it can never againbe used in a nuclear weapon. Now, the reasoning behind this ifyou just have it laying out there it become potentially a targetfor someone who might want to smuggle it -- which is why we had acouple of years ago the G-8 action plan on illicit nuclearsmuggling, which has worked very, very effectively. And the ideais to take the material out of the nuclear warhead, dismantle itappropriately, store it safely and securely -- which is theprogram that Ted was talking about, some of the DOE programs onmaterials, physical protection control and accounting, and thenget rid of them through plutonium through either MOX fuel or asGary said, immobilization or in uranium, through blending theuraniums to be used in commercial reactors. And that's whatwe're trying to do, so it's not just laying around out there foreasy pickings.

Q About the plutonium, you said that it wouldcost hundreds of millions of dollars. I guess the Russians can'tbe too thrilled about that, and I was wondering whether the G-8participation in the financial aspect would be a condition forthe Russians to sign on --

MR. SAMORE: Obviously, one of the most importantdetails we'll have to work out of the financial arrangements. SoI can't tell you exactly what that's going to look like.Certainly the U.S. hopes --

Q -- there was interest in the G-8 --

MR. SAMORE: Yes, certainly the countries in theG-8 that have been most interested in working with the U.S. andRussia to deal with this problem are Japan, France and Germany.And we certainly hope that we can expand that to the other G-8countries. We think this is a goal that all of the G-8 share andwe hope that there will be a role for all of the G-8 countries toplay. But that's something that we'll need to work out in thecourse of this year as we pursue these negotiations.

Q But the financial agreements would have to besorted out before the Russians sign on the deal, or no?

MR. SAMORE: No, I think the two things work inparallel. I mean, we've already identified the technicalprocesses that make the most sense in terms of transforming thismaterial as quickly as possible -- the two techniques that Imentioned to you. We still need to work out a lot of details,not only the finances, but also verification arrangements andsafeguards and so forth.

I think it's quite possible this is asituation where you have to work on both the finances and thoseother kinds of details at the same time, and I hope that theagreement we reach with the Russians at the end of this yearwould include a framework for both finances as well as thetechnical and the political aspects of it.

Q Would both these agreements require aratification by the two, by the Duma and the Congress before theybecome effective? And secondly, on the early warning system,which other countries have expressed interest in possibly joiningthis arrangement?

MR. BELL: The agreements per se do not requirecongressional approval. But to the extent that the agreementsrequire authorization of appropriation of funding to implementthem, Congress, of course, will have a role, and we'll be fullyconsulting with Congress as we go forward on this.

On the early warning sharing agreement, we have not-- we're just reaching agreement on that today. We've notadvertised that to a wider audience and, indeed, it's the U.S.view that this should begin as a bilateral arrangement. We canconsider -- we, together with the Russians, can consider laterdown the road whether the early warning data sharing ought to beextended to other countries.

But as Ted Warner said, a very important complementto this early warning sharing will be a multilateral pre-launchnotification regime, where conceivably every country in the worldthat tests ballistic missiles can file information about thoselaunches at a central clearinghouse that we would operate withthe Russians, so that your early warning systems are cued inadvance that there's going to be a launch to detect.

Q Two questions. Just checking the facts. Wasit 50 tons on each side, or combined?

MR. SAMORE: Yes, 50 tons on each side.

Q And the second question -- is there any hopethat a country like North Korea would join such an early warningsystem for ballistic missiles?

MR. BELL: Well, I don't know. That proposition hasnot been tested. The first question is whether North Korea wouldjoin the voluntary multilateral pre-launch notification regimethat we're announcing today, and we certainly hope they would.We have worked with North Korea on other issues where they'veshown cooperation. For example, in the negotiation of theComprehensive Test Ban agreement, North Agreement had joined theConference on Disarmament in Geneva before that was finished.They did not obstruct or oppose the conclusion of that treaty.But in terms of where they would come out on your specificquestion, I just don't know the answer.

Q On North Korea, I was just wondering if anybodycould give us an update on the nuclear missile test, what you nowknow about the missile, if there are any further tests planned,any contacts with the Japanese or the South Koreans, and hasthere been any reaction from the President?

MR. SAMORE: I think we've made clear that we thinkthis is a serious development, but certainly not one that hassurprised us. We're certainly aware that North Korea was workingon this missile, the Taepo Dong-1. It's based on the same kindof technology as the existing North Korean force, the SCUD andthe Nodong missiles, a liquid-fueled system.

I think that the test indicates obviously a stepforward, but we do not view this as the same as the deployment ofthis system. There still may be a considerable amount of timebefore they're in a position to deploy if they make thatdecision.

We have discussions that are ongoing with the NorthKoreans -- that is to say, the U.S. has discussions that areongoing with the North Koreans in New York this week. Obviously,we are raising this with the North Koreans, expressing ourconcerns. We hope to be in a position to resume the missiletalks with the North Koreans that we've had over the last coupleof years. One of the objectives of that is to try to persuadethe North Koreans to restrain both their own missile developmentas well as their missile exports, which is a very serious concern-- in particular, North Korean missile exports to the MiddleEast, which we think is very destabilizing.

And, obviously, we're going to be working veryclosely with our good allies, South Korea and Japan, in order tocoordinate an effort to make clear to the North Koreans that weview further development of their missile program as a threat tostability in northeast Asia.

Q -- South Korea before anything at this --

MR. SAMORE: Well, we've certainly been in touchwith them. Since I haven't been directly engaged in that I can'ttell you where we are. But, yes, we've been in very close touchwith them and we had shared with them beforehand our expectationthat this test was likely to happen.

MR. BELL: There's no question that the test of theTaepo Dong-1 will factor into the congressional debate onnational missile defense. But I just wanted to point out, incase you have not yet seen it, that on the 24th of August theChairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Shelton, wrote aletter to Senator Inhofe on the issue of whether or not in thewake of the Rumsfeld Commission findings, where the RumsfeldCommission was of the view that we might have little or nowarning of the development and deployment -- or the actualfielding of an intercontinental-range ballistic missile thatcould hit parts of the United States.

General Shelton wrote back on the 24th of August andstated the very strong and unanimous consensus view of the JointChiefs of Staff that they remain confident that we will havestrategic warning of the emergence of an ICBM threat. Certainly,it's their view that we'll have at least three years warning,which is the amount of time we require under the DefenseDepartment's three-plus-three national missile defense program tofield the kind of national missile defense system we'redeveloping.

And in the letter that General Shelton wrote on the24th of August, he specifically noted that the Joint Chiefs ofStaff were carefully following the Taepo Dong-1 program and thattheir confidence that we would have at least three years warningof an ICBM threat, such as the Taepo Dong-2, reflected anassumption that the North Koreans would go forward with a TaepoDong-1.

One of the reasons that we are confident that wewill have three years strategic warning of anintercontinental-range threat is that the degree of technicalchallenge going from an intermediate-range missile like the TaepoDong-1 to an intercontinental-range missile like the Taepo Dong-2is really quite profound. It's not a simple scaling up in termsof the power of the missile. The technical challenge of goingfrom a theater range system to an intercontinental-range systemis quite daunting and unique. And that's one reason theadministration, including the Chiefs, are confident that we'llhave the warning that General Shelton notes in his letter.

Q Was North Korea -- discussed in today's summitmeeting?

COLONEL CROWLEY: That's a very nice segue thatfollowing the President's speech we'll have some other seniorofficials come into kind of read out the day in terms of topicsand then also the economic discussion. So we'll save thatquestion to the briefing that follows the President's speech.

We'll have some factsheets on the items discussedhere that we'll put out shortly, but our thanks to Robert Bell;to Gary Samore; to Ted Warner, the Assistant Secretary of Defensefor Policy, Strategy and Threat Reduction; and Debra Cagan, theDirector of Policy and Regional Affairs within the StateDepartment for Russia and the Newly Independent States.

So, following the President's speech, we'll be backwith a thorough briefing of the day's events, and I think we'llbe able to handle that at that time.

THE PRESS: Thank you.

Briefings - Sept 1st

1st Press Briefing at Hotel National in Moscow, Russia

2nd Press Briefing at Hotel National in Moscow, Russia

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