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Nuclear News - 02/03/99
RANSAC Nuclear News, 3 February, 1999

  1. Iranians Due in Russia for Nuclear Plant Training, Reuters(02/02/99)
  2. Tenet Warns U.S. Faces Threats On Many Fronts, Washington Times(02/03/99)
  3. US Lie Detectors Aid Russian Atom Safety, Reuters (02/03/99)
  4. Russia, US Develop Cooperation Insuring Safe Arms Storage, Itar Tass(02/03/99)
  5. Coming To Russia's Rescue: A Collapse Would Cause Grave SecurityProblems For The West, US News and World Report (02/08/99)

Iranians Due in Russia for Nuclear Plant Training
February 2, 1999
(for personal use only)

MOSCOW -- A group of Iranians will arrivein Russia this month to train how to operate a nuclear power station,Russia's Atomic Energy Ministry said on Monday.

The training is due to start within days despite criticism by the UnitedStates, which has imposed sanctions on three Russian science institutesfor allegedly providing help that could enable Iran to develop a nucleararsenal.

"About 40 people will come to Moscow and study for 13 months inRussia's training center at the Novovoronezhskaya nuclear plant," saidYury Bespalko, spokesman for the Atomic Ministry, referring to a plant500 km (310 miles) south of Moscow.

Russia and Iran have signed an $800 million contract on building acivilian atomic reactor at Bushehr on Iran's Gulf coast. Under theagreement, Russia has also undertaken to train personnel.

Bespalko said several hundred Iranians would eventually visit Russia forspecial training.

He reiterated Russian denials that its cooperation could help Tehrandevelop nuclear weapons and said Moscow planned to push on with itscooperation with Tehran.

"Russia will build three more reactors (in Iran) by 2000-2001 andexpects to get about $4 billion, which is of great importance for thecountry," he said.

"The Americans would like us to abandon our cooperation. But we willnot do so, because we know there is no military aspect to this programof peaceful use of atomic energy."

The U.S.-Russian dispute over cooperation with Iran is one of a seriesof disagreements causing friction in relations between the two formerCold War enemies.

Russian officials have hit back at the United States, saying Washingtonwants to block Moscow's commercial ties in Iran.
Tenet Warns U.S. Faces Threats On Many Fronts
Rowan Scarborough
The Washington Times
February 3, 1999
(for personal use only)

IA Director George Tenet said yesterday that Russia hasincreased its help to Iran for producing longer-rangemissiles that could carry weapons of mass destruction, and hequestioned Moscow's secure hold on its own nuclear arsenal.

In wide-ranging testimony on dangers facing the UnitedStates, Mr. Tenet also said international terrorist Osama binLaden is planning more attacks on American citizens. He saidintelligence has detected "recent activities" similar to eventsbefore last year's terrorist bombings of two U.S. embassies inAfrica.

And Mr. Tenet told the Senate Armed Services Committeehe is "deeply concerned" that North Korea is, as suspected,building an underground facility at Kumchagni large enough toproduce plutonium. This would circumvent a U.S.-NorthKorean agreement to limit plutonium production to a plant inYongbyon.

In all, the nation's top spymaster told of a dangerous worldwhere rogue nations and international criminals could one dayconspire to strike the United States with nuclear, biological orchemical weapons.

Russia, North Korea and China continue to trade hard cashfor expertise and materials used in producing missiles andweapons of mass destruction. At some point, these burgeoningarsenals could spill into the hands of America's fiercest enemies, including bin Laden.

On Russia, Mr. Tenet said that Moscow had seemed on apath to better controlling arms for Iran.

"There were some positive signs in Russia's performanceearly last year, but unfortunately, there has not been sustainedimprovement ... especially during the last six months," hetestified.

"Expertise and material from Russia has continued to assistthe Iranian missile effort," Mr. Tenet said. "This assistance iscontinuing as we speak, and there is no doubt that it will play acrucial role in Iran's ability to develop more sophisticated andlonger-range missiles."

Last year, Iran conducted its first test of the Shabab-3,modeled after North Korea's medium-range Nodong missileand having a range of 800 miles. Mr. Tenet said that withcontinued foreign aid, Iran could drastically cut the time it takesto deploy an intercontinental missile capable of hitting theUnited States.

"Theater-range missiles with increasing range pose animmediate and growing threat to U.S. interests, military forcesand allies, and the threat is increasing," he said. "This threat ishere and now."

Russia has frustrated the Clinton administration's demandsthat it stop aiding Iran's missile and nuclear programs. TheRussian parliament voted in October to increase militarycooperation with Iran.

The CIA is also watching Russia's ability to safeguardnuclear weapons material.

"What we have noticed are reports of strikes, lax disciplineand poor morale and criminal activity at nuclear facilities," Mr.Tenet said. "These are alarm bells that warrant our closestattention and concern.

"Making matters worse, societal and economic stress inRussia seems likely to grow, raising even more concerns aboutthe security of nuclear weapons and fissile material."

On terrorism, Mr. Tenet said that bin Laden's networkcould strike at Americans "any time." The exiled Saudimillionaire has vowed to rid the Middle East of U.S. militarypersonnel by killing U.S. citizens.

"There is not the slightest doubt that Osama bin Laden, hisworldwide allies and his sympathizers are planning furtherattacks against us," he said. "We are anticipating bombingattempts with conventional explosives, but his operatives arealso capable of kidnappings and assassinations ... and I musttell you that we are concerned that one or more of bin Laden'sattacks could occur at any time."

As for North Korea, Mr. Tenet said he sees "fresh signs" offurther social decay. "I can hardly overstate my concern aboutNorth Korea," he said. "In nearly all respects, the situationthere has become more volatile and unpredictable.

"The regime is still struggling with serious food shortages,last year's grain harvest having been more than 1 million tonsshort of the minimum grain needs. Very few heavy industrialplants are in operation. Living conditions for most NorthKoreans are miserable."

The United States has 30,000 troops stationed in SouthKorea and 70,000 more in Asia prepared to blunt a NorthKorean invasion.

Mr. Tenet did not give detailed testimony on the NorthKorean military or on the likelihood it would attack the South.But he did say the nation's woes have penetrated the armedforces through "crime and indiscipline."

Despite U.S. protests, China has continued to help Pakistanand Iran develop nuclear weapons, while exporting materialsused to produce chemical weapons.

Mr. Tenet painted a picture of a country not able to controlits arms industry.

"Both the Chinese government and Chinese firms havelong-standing and deep relations with proliferant countries, andwe are not convinced that China's companies fully share thecommitments undertaken by senior Chinese leaders," he said.

Strategically, the CIA chief said, China is expandingconventional and nuclear arsenals with the aim of becoming amajor power.
US Lie Detectors Aid Russian Atom Safety
Martin Nesirky
February 3, 1999
(for personal use only)

MOSCOW -- The general in charge of Russian nuclear weapons safety saidon Wednesday that lie detectors and other U.S. monitoring devices werehelping Moscow weed out officers unsuited to work with its atomic bombs.

Colonel-General Igor Valynkin also told a news conference thateconomically strapped Russia was grateful to the United States forhelping to improve nuclear security and that cooperation in this areawas ``growing as each day passes.''

But, highlighting the delicate nature of U.S.-Russian military ties at atime of a broader cooling of relations, he said Russia would not sitidly by if Washington decided to review the 1972 bilateralanti-ballistic missile (ABM) treaty that is widely seen as acornerstone of nuclear deterrence.

``As long as it is not revised, we will stay within the framework of thetreaty,'' he said. ``If we now tamper with the treaty and revise it,then it will create instability. And we will certainly respond to arevision if it happens.''

Valynkin was otherwise effusive in his praise for the help Washingtonhas given Moscow under the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat ReductionProgramme. It has provided more than $2 billion to Russia and otherex-Soviet states since 1991.

He said aid included special containers for transporting Russianwarheads, computers for keeping tabs on atomic weapons, emergency kitsand screening equipment such as polygraphs - lie detectors -- for atraining school north of Moscow.

``In addition to the polygraph, equipment to detect the presence ofalcohol or drugs has been supplied and we have used it to test thegraduates of the school,'' he said. ``We handpick graduates and thisequipment enables us to tighten control of the people who come to us towork with nuclear warheads.''

Valynkin said lie detectors had not been used in the Soviet or Russianmilitary until the United States donated them.

``We are already using them,'' he said, noting U.S. Defence SecretaryWilliam Cohen had watched American soldiers training Russians to use thedetectors a year ago.

About five percent of those tested failed to make the grade, he said inseparate comments reported by Interfax news agency.

Would-be nuclear officers are questioned, among other things, aboutpossible criminal links. Valynkin said the human factor remained thebiggest worry for both nuclear powers.

``The person who works with nuclear warheads knows the secrets. He hasthe access, he knows the security system,'' he said. ``That's why wescreen personnel who work on nuclear warheads so thoroughly.''

Valynkin said military personnel under his command had been paid inDecember and had received two-thirds of their wages in January. Augustand September pay has yet to materialise, part of an enormous arrearsbacklog dogging not just the military.

He said there was no question of U.S. funds or equipment beingmisappropriated, as some critics have suggested. ``Everything providedby the Americans is under their control,'' the general said.

He confirmed the millennium computer bug threat was proving a problemfor the Russian military said it would be averted.
Russia, US Develop Cooperation Insuring Safe Arms Storage.
February 3, 1999
(for personal use only)

MOSCOW -- Cooperation between Russia and the United States to insuresafe nuclear arms storage develops every day, generalIgor Valynkin, asenior official at the Russian Defence Ministry, told a press conferenceon Wednesday.

The cooperation has been developing since 1992. The United Statespledged toprovide 89,600,000 dollars to Russia for safe storage andtransportation of nuclear weapons that were to be utilised.

As of today, Russia has already received 84,600,000 dollars, and it willallow to enhance the safety, the general said.

The United States has also supplied Russia with more than 2,500 sets ofprotection covers for nuclear missiles, equipment for 100 train cars totransport nuclear missiles and for 15 cars used to guard trains withnuclear arms. Russia also received 250 super-containers for nuclear armstransportation.

For safe storage of nuclear weapons, the United States provided financesto Russia to purchase 50 sets of technical guard systems and bought forRussia about 500 kilometres of special cable and technical barriers.

For automatic inventory of nuclear missiles, Russia was provided with100 computers. The system can be put in operation this year, Valynkinsaid.

The United States has also supplied Russia with special equipment tocheck the work of personnel at Russian nuclear facilities and test themfor alcohol and drug addiction.

Russia hopes the cooperation will continue to develop. The general saida new agreement for providing about 80,000,000 dollars to Russia wasbeing prepared.
Coming To Russia's Rescue: A Collapse Would Cause Grave Security Problems For The West
Mortimer B. Zuckerman / Editor-In-Chief
U.S. News and World Report
February 8, 1999
(for personal use only)

For 40 years after World War II we were worried about the risingpower of the Soviet Union. Now we have to worry just as much about thecollapsing power of Russia. The source of the anxiety is much the samebut paradoxical. In the first period we worried that Russians might usetheir weapons of mass destruction. Now we should worry that they mightlose them.

The country is not just bankrupt. As I wrote in this week's Worldsection, Russia is in an economic free fall that threatens the coherenceof the central state and the ability of the government to control itsarsenal of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. Any time now theymight become black-market items for rogue buyers. Prime Minister YevgeniPrimakov acknowledged to me that Russia cannot prevent its hard-pressedscientists from selling advice to Iran or Iraq. And if the statedisintegrates altogether, we could face the apocalyptic scenario ofultranationalists or some other faction challenging the command andcontrol of nuclear weapons spread over 39 different Russian districts.

Where once the state was too strong, it is now so weak that it cannoteven collect taxes. Poverty, crime, and inflation are rampant. What wasa decade or so ago a self-contained, self-supporting economy, possessingvast reserves of gold, has become an economy completely dependent onforeign aid. Virtually overnight this once proud superpower has lost itsname, its flag, its unifying ideology, and half of its territories.

Cash infusion. It is critical to our interests that Russia surviveits economic, political, and psychological ordeal. The West, andespecially the Clinton administration, bears some of the blame forencouraging the reckless rush from communism to raw capitalism.

The United States, the International Monetary Fund, Germany, andother countries have already pumped more than $150 billion into Russia.No one can say where this fantastic sum has gone, but for every dollarthat has been extended by the West, Russians have deposited at least asmuch in foreign banks. So far, foreign money has helped postpone reformrather than hasten it.

Primakov promises more vigor and vigilance and may well deliver. Withdebts of $17.5 billion coming due in 1999, and with annual governmentrevenues of only $24 billion, he protests the rejection of his requestfor more help while the IMF gives billions to Brazil, South Korea, andIndonesia. But financial management in Russia before Primakov wasappalling. The most recent infusion of $4.8 billion from the IMF barelytouched ground before it ended up in foreign bank accounts-for thebenefit of the oligarchs who virtually own the country.

Relief is nonetheless justified. The stakes are too high. But how canit be given without feeding corruption? Direct supplies of food andmedicine should be extended for humanitarian reasons. No money should goto support the currency or the banks. The IMF cannot be expected toadvance more money; its credibility as a lender has been hurt enough bythe way Russia has flouted the conditions attached to its loans. Aid tothe government must be tied to economic and political reforms andearmarked for projects that can be monitored. The best course might beto encourage private companies to take up specific ventures, with somesubstantial portion of their investments to be guaranteed by the U.S.government and conditioned on the appropriate legal and managementstructures within Russia. The private sector keeps better track of moneythan the government does.

If Russia wants this, or more, it must establish a political modusvivendi with the West and not challenge our strategic interests. It mustget tougher with anyone who helps Iran, Iraq, or Libya; Primakov himselfmust limit his longtime support for Saddam Hussein. It must come downhard on any scientist who helps rogue countries. And Russia could gainmuch if it drastically reduced its vast and unnecessary nuclear arsenal.

But the touchstone of any policy must be this: Russia is a tragedy onthe way to a catastrophe that could envelop us all.

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