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Nuclear News - 02/17/99
RANSAC Nuclear News, 17 February, 1999

  1. Iran Missile for Military, Not Civilian Use-Jane's, Reuters(02/16/99)
  2. Russia Boosts Iranian Nuclear Facility Despite InternationalCriticism, Bellona (02/16/99)
  3. Declassified Spy Satellite Photos Help Arms Reduction Effort,Associated Press (02/17/99)
  4. Russia, Ukraine Resolve Nuclear Waste Deadlock, Reuters (02/17/99)

Iran Missile for Military, Not Civilian Use-Jane's
February 16, 1999
(for personal use only)

LONDON -- Iran's new ballistic missile is more likely to be a long-rangesurface-to-surface weapon than a satellite launcher as Tehran claims, aleading defense analyst said Tuesday.

Clifford Beale, editor of the prestigious Jane's Defense Weekly journal,said U.S. intelligence officials had told him that Iran's new Shehab-4was largely derived from the obsolete Soviet SS-4 ballistic missile.

"My understanding is that if the missile really is a SS-4, you can'tlaunch a very big satellite with that. In order to launch a payload intoorbit you need a substantial rocket," Beale told Reuters.

"One has to question whether this would be a commercially usefulsatellite launcher...what it does do is give Iran a base to learn how tobuild rockets."

Iranian Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani said last week that the Shehab-4would be used to launch satellites into space and would have no militarypurpose.

But Beale noted the SS-4 had a range of 1,200 miles, which meant itcould hit parts of western Europe from Iran.

"The Shehab-4 gives Iran a wider footprint, more flexibility. These arepolitical weapons and confer great diplomatic and political power,"Beale said.

Arch-foe Israel and the United States have repeatedly expressed concernover Iran's missile capacity, urging Russia and China to stop anytransfers of technology to Iran.

Beale said Russian experts had told him that although the SS-4 was anobsolete design it could be significantly improved by adding recentlyderived Russian technological expertise.

"One improvement which could be added is an electronic guidance package.You could install a Global Positioning System to increase (theShehab-4's) accuracy," he said.

Last July, Iran test-fired its Shehab-3 missile, whose 800 mile rangeputs Israel within its reach.

U.S. officials told Beale that the Shehab-3 -- based on North Korea's NoDong-1 missile with the addition of Russian-derived technology -- wasnow operational and had reached limited production status.

"U.S. intelligence is attempting to determine the extent of warheaddevelopment on the Shehab program, particularly in the area ofbiological and chemical agent weaponization," Beale wrote in the latestedition of Jane's Defense Weekly. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Arenssaid last Thursday Iran was experiencing problems with its missileprogram and had made exaggerated statements about its capability.

But he said that with more help from Russia and other countries, Iran'slong range surface-to-surface missiles would become operational.

Beale said Washington was also worried Iran had attained near self-sufficiency in the manufacture of the Shehab-3, adding: "This meansTehran doesn't have to keep begging North Korea or China to get certainthings any more."
Russia Boosts Iranian Nuclear Facility Despite InternationalCriticism
February 16, 1999
(for personal use only)

With several Iranians poised to receive lectures on nuclear power plantoperations, Russia embarks on reactor building in Bushehr, Iran.

Several Iranian nuclear reactor trainees are going to Russia in March tolearn how to run a power plant their host country will build in Iran,the Associated Press reported.

The agency reported thirty Iranians will be trained at the Novovoronezhnuclear plant in southern Russia. One of the plant's reactors is thesame type Russia will construct in Iran; the VVER-1000. Several hundredIranians will be trained in Russia before the plant is fully staffed.

The contract for the completion of the first reactor unit destined forBushehr nuclear power plant was signed in 1995. The works at theconstruction site began in autumn 1998 when the two parties ironed outdisagreements over the project. A Russian-Iranian team is being puttogether by the Russian Atomic Energy Ministry and will be formed by2000 or 2001. There are 1,000 Russians already employed on theconstruction site in Bushehr and the number will increase in 1999,Russian nuclear minister, Yevgeny Adamov, said. Russian officials saidthey hoped to complete the first unit by May, 2003.

Both the U.S. and Israel have voiced their concern over the project,fearing it will help Iran to develop nuclear weapons. Russia haspersistently downplayed the accusations. The last statement on thisquestion came from the Russian Deputy-Prime Minister, Vladimir Bulgak,who told Interfax on 11 February, 1998, that: "The Islamic Republic ofIran and Russia are jointly co-operating in the construction of thenuclear power plant for peaceful use and has nothing to do with militaryapplications." Russian officials announced a proposed extension ofnuclear co-operation with Iran and the building of three more reactorunits.

A draft plan for nuclear co-operation was sent to Iran recently.Atomstroyexport, the company that drafted the proposal, suggested theIranians build a nuclear power plant with either the VVER-1000 or newVVER-640 reactors. The St Petersburg-based, Izhorskiy Zavodmachine-building company, launched a production line of equipmentspecifically for the nuclear power plant in Bushehr, ITAR-TASS reportedon 10 February. The company will produce equipment for the first circuitof the reactor: the reactor vessel, the steam generator casing and thelid for the Number 1 unit. Production should take three years, whichmeans the equipment will be delivered late in 2001.
Declassified Spy Satellite Photos Help Arms ReductionEffort
Associated Press
February 17, 1999
(for personal use only)

WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S. spy satellite photographs of the Soviet Uniontaken during the Cold War are emerging from their shell of secrecy.

They were taken in the urgent context of the U.S.-Soviet nuclearstandoff, but many now have been declassified and can be used forpeaceful purposes, helping to verify and even advance arms reductionefforts, researchers say.

Thousands of images taken by CIA spy satellites from 1960 to 1972 hadlain in the National Archives, spooled in a reel 30 inches long by 2.5inches wide. Now arms control experts are beginning to pore through thepictures, using microscopes to examine satellite pictures of such placesas Krasnoyarsk-45 in south-central Russia, a super-secret Soviet uraniumenrichment facility, and Zlatoust-36, a nuclear warhead assembly plantin Siberia.

At a symposium Tuesday at the Carnegie Endowment for Peace, JoshuaHandler of Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School said thephotographs show that Russia may have enough secure storage space toenable thousands more nuclear warheads to be removed from missiles underthe Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.

Both Russia and the United States have faced a daunting task offinancing adequate security for thousands of weapons storage sitesscattered across the former Soviet Union. The specter of terroristsraiding a storage site, or of impoverished nuclear commanders sellingthem to rogue states, has been the driving force behind annual U.S.expenditures of more than $350 million per year in disarmament aid.

As Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan have eliminated their nucleararsenals, however, the number of active storage sites has shrunkdramatically as has the cost of providing adequate security, Handlerargued.

''Now it is clear that the number of storages is much smaller, theirlocations are more well-known and the possibility of understanding thecost of upgrading their security is much greater,'' Handler said. Basedon Russian cost estimates, 20 national-level weapons storage sites and60 smaller, military storage sites could be secured for $400 million.

The satellite photographs being used by Handler and others were takenunder the CIA's Corona program, the world's first successful spysatellite system. The program was developed by rocket scientistspressing to find a replacement for U-2 spy planes after the downing ofFrancis Gary Powers' U-2 in 1960, and by optical scientists at Kodak inRochester, N.Y., and Polaroid and the Massachusetts Institute ofTechnology, both in Cambridge, Mass.

Images of the Soviet Union taken by Corona satellites were among themost highly classified documents in U.S. hands until 1995 when theClinton administration approved their declassification, mainly for useby environmentalists and historians.

"There's the gee-whiz factor - nobody had seen these nuclear weaponsstorage sites before, whether from space or on the ground," Handlersaid.

To the untrained eye some of the photographs look like distant views ofvast construction projects in a dense wood. Closer examination, however,reveals clues and patterns.

Characteristic looping road patterns point to weapons storage bunkers.Often a helipad or an elaborate perimeter fence indicate a project'ssensitivity. And the Soviets sometimes placed soccer fields near troopquarters, providing a handy measuring stick for the size of variousbuildings.

Scholars examining the Corona pictures are hampered by the fact thatlittle if any of the CIA analysis that went with the images has beendeclassified. These "photographic intelligence reports" containeddetailed descriptions of the facilities pictured, according to CharlesVick, an expert in Soviet rocketry for the Federation of AmericanScientists, a Washington-based research group that follows nationalsecurity issues.

Still, Dr. Oleg Bukharin, co-author of a book on Russia's strategicnuclear weapons, said the Corona images will help diplomats understandthe ways in which the U.S. and Soviet nuclear stockpiles are markedlydifferent, which is essential to reaching workable arms reductionagreements.
Russia, Ukraine Resolve Nuclear Waste Deadlock
February 17, 1999
(for personal use only)

KIEV-- The head of Ukraine's state nuclear power company Energoatom saidUkraine and Russia had resolved a months-long and potentially dangerousdeadlock over the cost of processing Ukrainian nuclear waste.

"The problem has already been solved," Nur Nigmatulin told Reuters lateon Tuesday. "We have agreed that the new price will rise to $330 per kgfrom $285 previously."

Nigmatulin said the agreement was reached after more than three monthsof talks between Energoatom, Russia's Nuclear Energy Ministry and theRussian chemical plant in Krasnoyarsk which processes the Ukrainianwaste.

Ukraine's nuclear power stations have no capacity to store used fuelrods and have traditionally sent spent rods to the Krasnoyarsk plant forprocessing.

But plans to double tariffs had called the cooperation into question andraised the specter of spent nuclear fuel rods collecting aroundUkraine's cashapped nuclear reactors.

"Russian authorities had proposed to increase tariffs to $500 which wascompletely unacceptable for us," Nigmatulin said. "But the tariff of$330 is also difficult for our cash-starved industry."

Ukraine sent about 560 used nuclear fuel rods to Russia last year,compared to 510 rods in 1997, and expects shipments will increase to 600rods this year.

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