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Nuclear News - 02/05/99
RANSAC Nuclear News, 5 February, 1999

  1. Russia, US Develop Cooperation Insuring Safe Arms Storage, Itar Tass(02/03/99)
  2. Russia Threatens Retaliation For ABM Revision, RFE/RL Newsline(02/04/99)
  3. Russian Ability to Curb Ties with Iran Doubted, Reuters (02/04/99)
  4. Resurrecting ABM, Christian Science Monitor (02/04/99)
  5. Disaster Lurks In Old Russian Missiles, The Detroit News (02/05/99)
  6. Russia's Inaction On Rogue Nuclear Technology Threatens U.S. LaunchDeal, Gannett News Service (02/05/99)

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, general Igor Valynkin, asenior official at the Russian Defense Ministry, told a press conferenceon Wednesday.

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

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 kilometers 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.
Russia Threatens Retaliation For ABM Revision
RFE/RL Newsline
February 4, 1999
(for personal use only)

The head of the 12th Department at Ministry of Defense,Colonel-General Igor Valynkin, told reporters on 3 February thatRussia will "undoubtedly respond" to "a revision of the ABMtreaty," which would upset stability. He added that Moscow andWashington must extend mutual control over each other's strategicand nuclear weapons. "Segodnya" argued on 30 January that"Moscow is so antagonistic" to U.S. efforts to develop ananti-ballistic missile system not because it believes that even in 20years such a system could ever be designed to achieve 100percent effectiveness. Rather, according to the daily, Moscowrealizes that the White House is trying to generate new business forthe U.S.'s defense industry while trying to disguise its defensepolicy, as part of some magnanimous effort, to extend anti-ballistic missile defense technology to the world.
Russian Ability to Curb Ties with Iran Doubted
February 4, 1999
(for personal use only)

WASHINGTON -- There are serious doubts about whetherRussian institutions are capable of halting missile exports to Iran, thesenior U.S. official in charge of Russian policy said on Thursday.

The admission by Ambassador Stephen Sestanovich underscores thedifficulty in trying to choke off cooperation that could prove crucialto Tehran acquiring advanced capabilities which the United States viewsas threatening.

"It's an open question," he told defense writers when asked if Russiawas capable of halting missile technology exports.

"Russians will tell you -- serious analysts, officials -- that many ofthe institutions of the Russian state are so weak that they're not up tothe big jobs of solving problems of this kind (curbing missileproliferation) and also problems of other kinds like collecting taxes,"he said.

Sestanovich also defended the U.S. threat to curb expansion of thelucrative space launch market with Russia if Moscow's nuclear andmissile cooperation with Tehran was not ended.

Although American companies would be disadvantaged, curbs on launchingAmerican satellites is one of the few options Washington has forinfluencing Moscow in a case that involves major issues of U.S. nationalsecurity, he said.

U.S. officials have long been concerned about Russian nuclear andmissile technology cooperation with Iran, which Washington views as arogue state bent on sponsoring terrorism and acquiring nuclear and otherweapons of mass destruction.

But Sestanovich's comments raised questions about whether the U.S. pushis doomed to failure for the foreseeable future.

President Bill Clinton in his year 2000 budget proposed increasedfunding to reduce nuclear and other threats in Russia, including fortightening export controls.

Russian officials agree in theory on the danger of spreading missilesand nuclear technology, Sestanovich said.

But they "acknowledged to us they can't be sure about ...theunauthorized flow (of technology) from the institutions and entities ofthe old military industrial complex," he said.

Russia made progress last year in getting a handle on the problem but itstopped, in part because of pressures created by the devastatingeconomic crisis, he said.

Frustrated by Moscow's backsliding, the administration last monthimposed sanctions on three Russian research institutes for helping Irandespite U.S. entreaties to stop the support.

It has also said it may freeze the number of American satellites thatcan be launched using Russian rockets once a quota of 16 is met laterthis year.

Officials say cash-starved Russia earns more than $75 million each timean American firm uses a Russian rocket to launch a telecommunicationssatellite.

Before the administration would agree to expand the space launchprogram, "we need to see... public enforcement to show that the Russiangovernment is really committed to making their export control programwork," Sestanovich said.

This means "prosecutions, fines, arrests" of those cooperating inillicit trade with Iran, he said.

Iran is close to producing a medium-range missile, which was tested lastyear, but Russian expertise could greatly influence the pace andsophistication of Tehran's long-range missile program, Sestanovich said.
Resurrecting ABM
Pat Holt
Christian Science Monitor
February 4, 1999
(for personal use only)

The Antiballistic Missile (ABM) has been resurrected from the half-sleepinto which it fell at the end of the cold war. Secretary of DefenseWilliam Cohen, supported by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, wantsto spend another $6 billion trying to develop a missile that will shootdown another missile. The reason is the new threat to the US stemmingfrom proliferation of weapons technology in countries such as Iraq,Iran, and North Korea.

The proposal is a scaled-down version of President Reagan's "star wars"plan to develop a full-blown ABM system designed to provide a nuclearshield over the US. Proponents of star wars have maintained that it waswhat led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. In this view, the Sovietsspent themselves into oblivion in a futile effort to match the US. Thisis a dubious thesis, but the economic burden of ABM development was, andis, one reason for Soviet objection to it.

The Soviet collapse sufficiently reduced the nuclear threat to the USthat the ABM should have been abandoned. Yet research continued - morequietly and on a smaller scale, but no more successfully. Prototypeshave failed a series of tests. The project never lost its support inCongress and now it has acquired new momentum with failure of thelong-standing US policy to limit proliferation of nuclear, biological,and chemical weapons. Worse, some of the nations that have acquired - orare close to acquiring - these weapons cannot be counted on to handlethem as responsibly as did the Soviet Union.

These developments have been accompanied by equally fundamental changesin Russia and China. Russia seems to be tottering on the brink ofcollapse. China, on the other hand, is undergoing frenetic development.Both feel threatened by US efforts to acquire even a junior-sizeanti-missile defense..

Russia's difficulties have severely wounded Russian pride - and USrevival of the ABM makes it worse. Nor is it helped by a Pentagonproposal that if the Russians don't complain about US development of theABM, the US won't complain if the Russians add extra warheads to theirnuclear missiles. It's a gamble the US can develop an effective ABMfaster than the Russians can increase the warheads on their missiles.Nothing in the record of ABM research justifies this. Both the US andRussia know that the Russians can't soon mobilize the resources for suchaugmentation. To Russians, the proposal looks like taunting of theirweakness. They have little leverage against the US, but they do have onehigh card: the START II treaty to further cut US and Russian nuclearstockpiles. It's languished in the Russian Duma long after Senateapproval. The US wants it ratified. Revival of the ABM may kill it.

The revival also complicates China relations. It would stabilize thestrategic balance in northeast Asia, strengthening defenses of Japan andSouth Korea against North Korean missiles. But China sees itcontributing to Japan's military ambitions and the defense of Taiwan.

In Moscow last week, Ms. Albright seemed insensitive to these concerns.She argues that the ABM isn't aimed at Russia and it is partly Russia'sfault because Russia has been supplying Iran with weapons technology.This is a persuasive argument, but the Russians aren't persuaded.

The US is confronted with a particularly difficult trade-off: accept thethreat of proliferation or upset relations with two major powers. Eitherof these powers is more important than any half dozen of the countriesagainst which the ABM is aimed. Though the formidable technical problemsof the ABM may be solved, they look more likely to make a mirage of theproject's promise of greater security.

This is a close call. But it seems a better policy to look for othermeans to deal with Iraq, Iran, North Korea, and their ilk.
Disaster Lurks In Old Russian Missiles
Michael Slackman
The Detroit News
February 5, 1999
(for personal use only)

Government Eager To Ratify START II Treaty To Get Help In RemovingWarheads, But Politics Gets In Way

MOSCOW -- Scattered at sites around Russia are 180 nuclear-armedmissiles that are so old authorities here are worried they areunreliable and present an environmental hazard.

When they were rolled out of the factories of the former SovietUnion, these missiles were deemed to have a service life of 10 years.They are more than 20 years old.

Government officials reluctantly acknowledge this is the primaryreason they are eager for the lower house of parliament, the Duma, toratify the START II nuclear disarmament treaty with the United States.If ratified, it would pave the way for removal of the agingmissiles and open the door to further arms reduction talks that couldlead to decommissioning of even more aging weapons.

Every time the legislators inch toward ratification, however,Washington makes it politically impossible for Russians to achieve it.

In December, when the White House decided to bypass the UN SecurityCouncil, ignore Russia altogether and bomb Iraq, officials here becameso incensed they shelved START II. Then Washington recently announced itwants to renegotiate a 1972 treaty that has served as the cornerstone ofarms-control relations between the two nations. Again, there is talk ofpostponing ratification.

"Any changes to the treaty would be counterproductive," said AntonSourikov, a military expert and aid to Yuri Maslyukov, first deputyprime minister. "The mere discussion seriously undermines nucleardisarmament."

Yet, despite the nationalistic feelings that have hampered effortsat ratification, there is growing internal pressure to finalize theagreement. Officials know they cannot afford to modernize their missileforce and must eventually scrap much of it even without START II.

If Russia takes that route, however, officials fear ending up at astrategic disadvantage, having lost a portion of its arsenal withoutwinning any concessions from the United States.

What the Russian government hopes for is that heads remain cool longenough to ratify START II and to negotiate a third arms reductionagreement, START III, so Russia and the United States reduce weaponstockpiles simultaneously. If that doesn't happen, the oldmissiles will keep sitting in their silos.

"Because of a lack of money, Russia can't produce new heavymissiles," Sourikov said. "In the absence of START II and START III, inorder to keep the level of missiles corresponding to the United States,Russia will be forced to prolong the service life of those missiles nowin service. It is a very dangerous situation. Not unfortunate.Dangerous."

Russia's missiles

  • Russia's 180 nuclear-armed missiles were built in Ukraine when it waspart of the Soviet Union.
  • They are capable of delivering multiple nuclear warheads to targetsthousands of miles away.
  • There is concern the aging missiles will leak fuel, degrade theenvironment and become so unreliable they are a danger.
    Russia's Inaction On Rogue Nuclear Technology Threatens U.S. LaunchDeal
    John Omicinski
    Gannett News Service
    February 5, 1999
    (for personal use only)

    WASHINGTON - Growing impatient with Moscow's lack of action to stopnuclear technology transfers to Iran and other rogue states, U.S.officials are threatening to end Russia's lucrative launches of U.S.commercial satellites.

    ''We need to send a strong signal,'' said Stephen Sestanovich, specialU.S. envoy to the former Soviet states. Each satellite launch lost wouldpenalize Russia's collapsing economy by $100 million, he said.

    ''We want public enforcement,'' he said, something the Russians haven'tbeen willing to carry out.

    Sestanovich said it was an ''open question'' as to whether the Russiangovernment actually had the willingness to police the situation. Hedescribed Russian officials as ''convincingly nervous'' about the stateof the country's nuclear security.

    Cutting off space cooperation, he said, is being seriously considered asa way of waking up the Russians to a serious matter.

    Sestanovich said the United States has been pressing Russia to no availfor ''prosecutions, fines, and arrests'' of people who are helping Iranand other states develop either nuclear or missile technology.

    Russian organized crime doesn't appear to be involved in the technologytransfers, said Sestanovich.

    ''Bureaucrats and scientists are the core of the problem ... TheIranians are offering enormous sums and really cushy conditions,'' hesaid, making it very attractive for the poorly paid or unpaid Russianexperts.

    Cutting off the satellite launches, he said, may be the best way toregister Washington's impatience and frustration. Russia will run outits quota of 16 launches at midyear, he said, and so far Washington hasapproved no more.

    Sestanovich told a group of defense reporters that Iran is trying todevelop the expertise to maintain a full-fledged nuclear arsenal, andnot just a few nuclear-tipped missiles.

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