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Nuclear News - 02/01/99
RANSAC Nuclear News, 1 February, 1999

  1. Russian Press Pans Albright Visit, RFE/RL Newsline (01/29/99)
  2. Russian Security, Foreign Relations Council: For Economic Reasons,Russia Will Gladly Co-operate with Israel in Nuclear Energy Development,Israel's Business Arena (02/30/99)
  3. Gore Meets Primakov over Budget, Missiles, Reuters (02/01/99)
  4. A Russian Feeler, New York Times (02/01/99)

Russian Press Pans Albright Visit
RFE/RL Newsline
January 29, 1999
(for personal use only)

"Relations between Moscow and Washington are at their lowestpoint since 1991," "Trud" concluded on 29 January, arguing thatU.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's recent visit toMoscow did not launch negotiations for START-III as had beenexpected. The previous day, "Noviye izvestiya" adopted a similartone, arguing that "no progress has been reached on any of the'global' issues discussed in Moscow." According to thenewspaper, "an exaggerated amount of attention to the externalaspects of Albright visit" was paid, partly in order to disguise thatan agreement to disagree had been reached even before Albrightarrived in Moscow. "Vremya MN" said on 27 January thatAlbright's visit produced no results but "demonstrated how USofficials were now conducting relations with Russia: listen, nodtheir heads in agreement, and then do exactly what they wish."
Russian Security, Foreign Relations Council: For Economic Reasons,Russia Will Gladly Co-operate with Israel in Nuclear Energy Development
Ora Koren
Israel's Business Arena
January 30, 1999
(for personal use only)

"Russia will gladly co-operate with Israel innuclear energy development and auxiliaryfields". "Globes" heard this today from SergeiKraganov, chairman of Russia's Security andForeign Relations Council.

"If Israel genuinely wishes it, Russia willco-operate with her in developing nuclearindustry. I, personally, will do the most lobbyingfor such co-operation, and all because we needthe money", he added.

Kraganov emphasised that, for economicreasons, Russia will not stop co-operating withIran in nuclear development. He said that even ifRussia is offered alternative financial assistancefrom the US, which is doubtful, Russian-Iranianco-operation will presumably continue. This isbecause, aside from the government's interest,the energy and nuclear field has a very stronglobby in Russia.

"Russia is continuing to build up Iran's nuclearindustry, for economic reasons. And for thesame reasons, it is negotiating co-operation inthe nuclear energy field with other countries too,such as China and European nations", he said.

Kraganov, who attended the inaugural session ofthe annual conference of the World EconomicForum, today in Davos, warned against investingin Russia in the next two years. He said theRussian crisis will probably get worse, and itseconomic aspects will not be resolved until asolution is found to the country's politicalproblems.

"I would advise Israeli businesspersons wishingto invest in Russia to wait at least two years",Kraganov said.
Gore Meets Primakov over Budget, Missiles
February 1, 1999
(for personal use only)

DAVOS, Switzerland -- Russian PrimeMinister Yevgeny Primakov pitched his country's draft budget to U.S.President Al Gore as a spending plan worthy of Western financialsupport, a senior U.S. official said on Friday.

Gore in turn expressed Washington's continued concern about the flowof Russian ballistic missile technology to Iran and said U.S.-Russiancommercial cooperation in space could not expand if the problemcontinued, the official added.

The two men did not discuss the fraught situation in the Yugoslavprovince of Kosovo because Primakov had already discussed this withU.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright this week, said the official,who asked not to be identified.

Both men met while attending the World Economic Forum's annualmeeting, a business summit in the Swiss resort of Davos.

Russia's parliament seemed set to approve the controversial budget,which Primakov has defended despite foreign criticism as credible andthe best hope for Russia's crumbling economy.

Primakov stressed the political achievement that getting a budgetthrough the Duma represented, the official said. But the United Statesand the International Monetary Fund think some of the assumptions in thedeficit spending plan seem dubious.

"We are urging Primakov and his officials to really get to the bottom ofthe questions that the IMF has about this," he said.

The loan package the IMF extended to Russia last year but suspendedafter Russia's economic reforms faltered was not directly addressed,said the official, who was present.

At the talks, Gore stressed to Primakov Washington's concern aboutRussian missile technology making its way to Iran, the official said,expressly linking it to the future of bilateral commercial cooperationin space.

This month Washington slapped sanctions on three Russian institutes itaccused of cooperating with Iran.

"The other half of this picture is that U.S.-Russian commercialcooperation in space is the reality. It's a large-scale endeavor alreadyand it could grow much larger, but there is a cloud over this and thatis the question of whether or not the Russian government can effectivelycontrol the flow of rocket technology to Iran," he said.

"If this does not happen, it is hard to imagine how there can becontinued expansion of the partnership we have built with them."

Existing contracts worth around $700 million won't be cancelled, hesaid.

A news release issued by the Russian delegation confirmed the mendiscussed the budget and non-proliferation issues.

Gore and Primakov are scheduled to meet again in Washington onMarch 23-25 as part of a series of regular talks between high-levelcommissions from both countries.
A Russian Feeler
New York Times, Op-Ed
William Safire
February 1, 1999
(for personal use only)

Davos, Switzerland -- With Russian inflation running at 100 percent ayear, Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov told a little joke about beingforced to accept demands to be disclosed next week by the InternationalMonetary Fund.

"A man is handed a letter from his wife," he said at the World EconomicForum. "He opens it and the page is blank. 'How can that be?' he isasked. 'It's all right,' he replies. 'We don't talk.' "

He had begged Al Gore to lean on the I.M.F. for repayment delay and newloans, and was turned down for good reason: the former spymaster has noeconomic plan to deal with congenital corruption beyond "optimizing theprison population."

But if Russia goes under, 30,000 nuclear missiles and the scientists andengineers behind them go on sale. The nation is not "too big to fail"(its population is smaller than Indonesia's, and is slumping toward halfthat of the U.S.), but the fallout from its collapse could be dangerous.

The usual cast of pompous Russian reformers and Yeltsin bureaucrats whoused to parade around this Alpine conclave is absent. Now, a skeletoncrew of Primakov's bankers wring their hands about devaluation anddefault, in contrast to the single longtime voice of opposition with theplan and self-confidence to turn Russia around -- Grigory Yavlinsky.

The economist and former pugilist, 47, is the last democratic reformerleft standing. That's because he ignored Boris Yeltsin's seductiverevolving door and instead built a grassroots party. In December'sparliamentary elections, his Yabloko Party will grow; and running forPresident in 2000, Yavlinsky will at least be kingmaker.

Western Kremlinologists no longer hoot in derision when I say that; theysaw Yabloko make possible Primakov's temporary ascension. Yavlinskyinsists it was the only way to insure free elections after Yeltsin, butpower-hungry Primakov may have other ideas.

Yavlinsky preaches the need for "tough love" to top American officials,to get us to assume Russia's I.M.F. repayments without new I.M.F. cashinfusions. To regain the confidence of investors, he seeks new ways toreinstill Russian self-confidence.

One way is to break the mold on missile defense. President Clinton,after six years of pooh-poohing a shield against rogue-state missiles,suddenly reversed field lest he be blamed for vulnerability togerm blackmail. But Russians do not want to change the old ABM treatythat kept each superpower defenseless against the other. When I askedPrimakov about it, he stayed in the old Communist rut: Touch ABM andStart II won't be ratified.

Yavlinsky comes at it creatively: "America has a right to missiledefense against terrorism, as does Europe, of which Russia is a part."He proposes a nonategic missile defense in cooperation withNATO, capable of shooting down fewer than 100 missiles, therebyproviding an umbrella against terrorist attack without destabilizing theRussian-American standoff. That would finesse the impasse and easeratification of Start II's reductions.

Russian pride would thus be salved and money saved, but I see othermotives: it would provide paying work for thousands of talented Russiantechnologists now looking hungrily toward Iran and Iraq, and wouldlessen the pressure for sales of missile and nuclear plants to statesalready taking advantage of Russian desperation.

Does Russia have anything to offer in missile defense? Using ahandy-dandy cell phone, I called Prof. Andrei Piontkovsky in Moscow,director of the Academy of Science's strategic studies, to ask whatRussia had on the shelf to shoot down missiles.

"The S-300," he replied promptly, as if I were a customer, "two yearsmore advanced than your Patriots." That's dubious; he could not point toa single successful test of that missile against missiles.Besides, the S-300 is the weapon Russia peddled to Greek Cypriots untilthe Turks warned they would take out any such missiles that weredelivered.

Still, Russians have long been adept at making long-range nukes andmight bring expertise to the anti-missile table. Rather than punishRussia for dealing with Iran, the West, Yavlinsky urges, shouldcooperate with Russia to keep its scientists, know-how and products athome.

Worth discussing. As Clinton belatedly dumps his resistance to missiledefense, we can usefully explore with NATO and Russia ways to stopincoming terrorist missiles.

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