- State Duma To Endorse Nuclear Waste Import, Bellona News (02/10/99)
- Russia to Switch Nuclear Emphasis from Military to Civilian, AgenceFrance Presse (02/10/99)
- Restructure Russian Forces By End-99, Says Yeltsin, Reuters(02/10/99)
- Russia Warns on Weapons Leaks , Associated Press (02/11/99)
- Russia's once Mighty Nuclear Arsenal Falling Apart, Associated Press(02/12/99)
- Russian Newspaper Slams CIA Report, RFE/RL Newsline (02/12/99)
State Duma To Endorse Nuclear Waste Import
February 10, 1999
(for personal use only)
The Russian State Duma has filed a proposal to the government to amend the Law on Environmental Protection. The amendments will legalize import of foreign nuclear waste to Russia. Construction of RT-2 started in1977, but was suspended in 1989, and finally frozen in 1992 due tofunding shortcomings. All Russian State Duma factions, except forYabloko, signed a proposal to amend the Law on Environmental Protectionto make it legal to import radwaste and spent nuclear fuel into Russia.
The proposal was presented through Duma speaker Gennady Seleznev tothe Russian government in late January.
The cashapped Russian nuclear industry has been insisting onsuch amendments in recent years without visible success. Today theirdreams seem to have been answered.
Currently, both the Russian Environmental Law (section 3, Article 50) and Governmental Decree no. 773 dated 29 June, 1995, prohibit storage of foreign nuclear and radioactive waste on the territory of the Russian Federation. In addition, the governmental decree obliges Minatom to return any radioactive waste generated during reprocessing to thecountry of origin within 30 years.
Euro-nuclear deal in early January, Greenpeace Russia got hold of a confidential protocol of intent signed by Minatom officials and theministry's subcontractors Techsnabexport, German Internexco and SwissEGL (Electrizitatagesellschaft Laufenberg AG). The protocol outlines the shipment of spent nuclear fuel and nuclear waste from Europe to reprocessing and storage facilities in Russia. According to theprotocol, Switzerland has 2,000 tons of spent fuel it might wantreprocessed, including 300 tons that would be ready now for shipment.The preliminary shipment schedules were envisioned for the periodbetween 2000 and 2030, with 50-60 tons shipped on an annual basis. TheSwiss company also asked the Russian side to accept 550 cubic meters ofhighly radioactive waste for final disposal. The Germans were said tohave expressed interest without specifying the amount of waste. AnAmerican nuclear deal in late 1998, Evgeny Adamov, Russian nuclearminister, wrote a letter to his American colleague William Richardson,head of the Department of Energy, and suggested taking the Americanspent nuclear fuel from nuclear power plants then reprocess and store itin Russia. This confidential letter fell into hands of Greenpeace Russiaas well. Adamov seemed flexible in his proposal, suggesting two options:placing the reprocessed waste in permanent storage on Russian soil, orsending it back to the U.S. as Russian regulations require.
Reprocessing capacity the only operational reprocessing facility inRussia - the Mayak plant in western Siberia - suffered severe economicconstraints over the past years. The Mayak plant (or RT-1) is currentlycapable of reprocessing fuel from nuclear power plants operatingVVER-440 and BN-600 reactors, as well as maritime PWR reactors.
Another reprocessing plant, RT-2, is located in Krasnoyarsk Countyand is 30 per cent complete. Plans require an additional $4 billionfunding to finish construction. The plant was designed to deal with fuelfrom VVER-1000 reactors. The incomplete plant has a storage facilitywith a capacity of 6000 tons and is now 35 per cent complete. Themanagement of the plant is counting on 1500 tons of fuel to arrive from domestic nuclear power plants in the next decade.
"Thus we can take 1000 tons of foreign spent nuclear fuel," Valery Levedev, director of the nuclear complex in Krasnoyarsk, said in an interview with Rossiyskaya Gazeta. The director dreamed of using the money earned on 1000 tons to build an additional storage facility of 30000 tons; with more foreign fuel ... the completion of RT-2.
Groups warn against nuclear dumpsiteThe supporters of the amendment argue that the funds received for becoming a nuclear dumpsite could be used to deal with domesticradwaste later. In the meantime, Alexey Yablokov, the prominent Russian environmentalist and former enviro-adviser to the Russian President, warned of the consequences once the amendments were put in place.
"Russia will become a world nuclear dumpsite," said Yablokov at apress conference in Moscow yesterday. "The country does not have thecapacity to reprocess its own spent nuclear fuel. Completion of the new reprocessing plant in Krasnoyarsk will require $4 billion - a majorpart of the money received for these suspicious deals," Yablokov added.
Tamara Zlotnikova, chairman of the State Duma EnvironmentalCommittee, filed a request Monday to have the Russian PM prevent the proposed amendments. Zlotnikova said there was almost unanimous support for the amendment in the Duma, which could be explained by deputies' intentions to collect funding for the coming Duma election campaign next winter.
Russia to Switch Nuclear Emphasis from Military to Civilian
Agence France Presse
February 10, 1999
(for personal use only)
MOSCOW -- Russia's nuclear industry is to switch emphasis from the military to the civilian sectors, expanding the export of power plantsand know-how, Atomic Energy Ministry Yevgeny Adamov said Tuesday.
Speaking at a press conference reported by Russian news agencies,Adamov said the 17 companies involved in supplying the military would berestructured and converted.
In the so-called closed cities of Arzamas-16 and Penza-19 devoted tosecret defense work the manufacture of nuclear weapons would stop in2000, he said.
Russia's budget for 1999 includes several hundred million rubles foradapting military plants to other use, and Moscow is hoping for some $30million in aid from the United State for such work in 10 closed cities.
This year Russia is to sign a $12 billion contract with a U.S.companyto sell it 500 tons of highly-enriched uranium extracted from nuclearwarheads and converted into uranium for civilian use.
Adamov said Moscow intended to continue to build nuclear powerstations abroad, and was determined to complete the plant at Bushehr inIran despite U.S. objections.
As part of its development eastward in this respect, Russia wasinvolved in a project to build two, and perhaps four, of its VVR-1000reactors in China, Adamov said.
An agreement with India was also signed in 1998 for preliminary workon a nuclear station in that country, while in Slovakia one reactor cameon stream in October last year and another was being completed. Russiais also engaged in civilian nuclear programs in the Bulgaria, Cuba, theCzech Republic, Kazakhstan and Ukraine, Adamov said.
Restructure Russian Forces By End-99, Says Yeltsin
February 10, 1999
(for personal use only)
MOSCOW -- President Boris Yeltsin told his defense minister on Wednesday to come up with a plan by May to merge Russia's vastnuclear forces and to finish restructuring the entire military by theend of this year, news agencies said.
Russia's defenses are being reformed to take account of reducedfinances and changed priorities since the Soviet Union collapsed. Buttight funding and top-brass inertia have hampered the pace of change inthe world's second nuclear power.
"The structural reorganization of the armed forces should becompleted in 1999," Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev quoted Yeltsin assaying, according to the news agencies.
"Specific solutions should be found by May and the entirereorganization should be completed this year."
Russia has already merged its air defense force with the air force.But the various components of the country's nuclear arsenal --land-based missiles and those on submarines or long-range aircraft --remain under separate command.
The aim overall is to end up with four main branches -- air, land,sea and nuclear forces. With plans for an all-professional military nowon to the back burner, the rejigging of the command structure has addedsignificance.
Sergeyev told the agencies after his Kremlin meeting with Yeltsinthat the president had signed an order setting up a commission to drawup a merger plan for the atomic forces. The commission, headed bySergeyev, must report to Yeltsin by May.
Western and Russian defense experts say there has been a markedreluctance among senior officers in the various nuclear branches tobring their forces under a unified command akin to the U.S. StrategicCommand and thus see their authority diluted.
An additional factor is each branch is eager to grab its share ofthelimited funds for new weapons and equipment. That would be even harderif the money came from one pot.
How the merger and overall restructuring will be funded within suchatight deadline has yet to be explained.
Only this week, a newspaper said an internal analysis showed Russiamust cut its armed forces by half to fund them properly.
Moscow slashed its forces by 400,000 to 1.2 million last year. Thelatest edition of Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye (IndependentMilitary Review) said an internal analysis by the Russian General Staffshowed even deeper troop cuts were needed.
Even in the best case, the Defense Ministry would receive adequatefunding only by the start of 2004, the analysis said.
"That situation would require a review of the timescale for carryingout planned reforms in the Russian Federation's armed forces,'' it said.Defense spending in 1998 fell far short of the military's requirementsand wages went unpaid for months.
Russia Warns on Weapons Leaks
February 11, 1999
(for personal use only)
MOSCOW -- Russia's controls against leaks of weapons technology to Iran may be insufficient and need to be improved, the Russian security chief conceded Thursday.
Until now, Moscow had adamantly denied U.S. accusations that someprivate Russian companies are getting around government exportrestrictions and smuggling weapons technology to Iran.
But at a government meeting called to review the problem Thursday,Russian Security Council head and presidential chief of staff, NikolaiBordyuzha, conceded that "there are still blank spots in this sphere,"the Interfax news agency reported.
"A number of firms have been independently going to the internationalmarket," Bordyuzha said.
Bordyuzha called for export controls to be tightened, but it wasn'tclear whether he agreed that weapons technologies have actually beenleaking from Russia, or was simply urging stricter controls as aprecaution.
Thursday's meeting was called to review CIA accusations made earlierthis week that Russian businesses are helping Iran build weapons of massdestruction.
The conference "demonstrates the attention that President Boris Yeltsinattaches to this issue," deputy Security Council chief Oleg Chernov wasquoted as saying.
In a report to Congress on Tuesday, the CIA's Nonproliferation Centersaid several independent or quasi-government entities in Russia andChina are exporting chemical, biological and nuclear weapons technologyto Iran, Syria and India, despite restrictions by the Russian andChinese governments.
The report praised Moscow and Beijing for expanding their commitmentsto restrict export of deadly technologies, but said those promises maynot be enough.
At the Thursday meeting, Russian security officials also drafted anappeal to Yeltsin and Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov urging an increasein government financing to military research institutions, to make surethat underfunded scientists aren't tempted to work for Iran or othercountries hungry for nuclear expertise.
The Russian government has conceded that Iranians have tried to smuggleweapons technologies from Russia, but said all such attempts have beenfoiled.
However, the United States has been growing increasingly worried abouttechnology leaks and has imposed sanctions on 12 Russian scientificinstitutes it accuses of helping Iran build weapons.
Russia's once Mighty Nuclear Arsenal Falling Apart
February 12, 1999
(for personal use only)
MOSCOW -- At the height of Russia's financial meltdown, the ministernamed to save the economy outlined an overriding priority: build a newgeneration of nuclear missiles.
The warning from First Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Maslyukov, first madein October, that Russia could lose its nuclear capability, has producedrare unanimity among the country's bitterly divided political factions.
Communists, nationalists and liberals alike agree that Russia must stakeeverything on its nuclear forces if it wants any claim to be a worldpower and have any kind of credible military.
Yet, the huge arsenal of rockets, planes and submarines that onceterrified the world is falling apart and there is no money to maintainit or build large numbers of replacements.
"The only thing for which Russia is respected in the world and whichmakes us worthy partners ... is our strategic rocket forces," saidAlexander Lebed, a former general and a leading presidential candidate.
Russia's nuclear arsenal of 6,000 warheads could soon shrink to just afew hundred, analysts say. Early-warning radar and satellites vital toprotect against pre-emptive attacks and prevent premature missilelaunchings are also falling apart, they add.
"By the year 2010, the number of Russia's nuclear warheads will fall10-fold to 600 to 800," predicted Alexander Pikayev, a top expert inarms control with Moscow's branch of the Carnegie Endowment for Peace.
Russia could be eclipsed as a nuclear power by China, which once laggedfar behind Moscow, he said.
Analysts paint a gloomy picture of Russia's crumbling nuclear triad:
-- The navy's nuclear missile submarines are in the worst state. Duringthe Soviet-era, dozens of submarines were on patrol, lurking under thewaves with batteries of nuclear missiles ready for instant firing.Scores of submarines have been decommissioned and no more than three arethought to be on patrol at any one time now. Even the working boatsrarely leave harbor.
And if a nuclear war starts, the submarines wouldn't be able to sail outimmediately because they don't have food supplies on board.
-- The air force's mainstay Bear bombers are more than 40 years old.Pilots only get a few hours flying time each year, far below the levelat which they can operate effectively, analysts said. Lebed said the airforce has only 20 modern nuclear bombers.
-- The land-based rocket forces, always the strongest part of the Sovietnuclear triad, are in better shape. But many of the most powerfulmissiles are well past their operational lifetime, officials admit.
Nuclear weapons have a limited lifespan because of their atomic warheadsand corrosive fuel. Beyond that lifespan they often are incapable ofworking or function defectively.
"The strategic nuclear forces' command systems are also expiring, andthat may result in loss of control over them," Lebed wrote in a Jan. 21article in the Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper.
It would cost $3 billion a year to maintain existing missiles, accordingto Roman Popkovich, head of the defense committee of the Duma, the lowerchamber of parliament. Russia's full budget for 1999 is $25 billion, andofficials concede much of the money exists only on paper.
With the economy in a nose dive and conventional forces collapsing,Russia's military has become increasingly dependent on its still massiveSoviet-era nuclear forces.
Whatever money the government can scrape together for the military isbeing funneled into nuclear forces, but analysts say it's too little,too late.
The navy designed a new nuclear missile submarine -- the Yuri Dolgoruky-- but only one is under construction. "It's really difficult to say howmany nuclear submarines Russia will have on duty by 2010 -- two, four,five or seven," said Pavel Felgenhauer, a leading analyst.
The air force does not have any plans for a new long-range nuclearbomber or cruise missiles, analysts said.
The land forces alone have a new weapon -- the Topol-M -- asingle-warhead missile, 10 of which were deployed for the first time inJanuary.
But even if Russia meets its goal of building between 35 and 40 Topol-Msa year, analysts say the nuclear forces will still drop drastically.Some officials advocate building multi-warhead missiles, but this wouldbreak the proposed START-2 agreement with the United States.
The Communist-dominated Duma repeatedly has refused to ratify thetreaty, which was approved by the U.S. Senate in 1996 and would reduceeach side's nuclear arsenals to between 3,000 and 3,500 warheads by2007.
Government officials say Moscow must accept START-2 and seek a START-3treaty to cut both sides to about 1,500 nuclear warheads as the only wayto give Russia some kind of parity.
Such drastic cuts are "dozens of times more important for our countrythan for the United States," said Popkovich, warning that Russia cannotafford any kind of arms race with Washington.
Russian Newspaper Slams CIA Report
February 12, 1999
(for personal use only)
"Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 11 February accused the U.S. of pursuing a "deliberate policy to discredit Russia's image by portraying it as one of the main culprits in the proliferation of nuclear weapons." The newspaper was responding to the CIA report submitted to the U.S. Congress that named Russia, along with China and North Korea, as main source countries for the proliferation of missile and dual-use technology. First Deputy Prime Yurii Maslyukov, whose views are usually at odds with that of the daily and its patron, influential businessman BorisBerezovskii, voiced a similar charge, suggesting that theaccusations must "have been made for political reasons" (see"RFE/RL Newsline, 11 February 1999). The newspaper concludedthat in the future, it is possible that "Western democraticstates will take control of Russian nuclear weapons if theybelieve that the situation in Russia poses a threat to theworld."