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Nuclear News - 02/24/99
RANSAC Nuclear News, 24 February, 1999

1. Russian Military Decay Detailed, Washington Post (02/21/99)2. Washington, Moscow Ponder Y2k Nuclear Danger, Reuters (02/22/99) 3. No sale, say Canadians, Bellona News, (02/23/99)4. Israel To Use Russian Scientists, Los Angeles Times (02/23/99)5. Duma to Discuss Start-2 Ratification in Context of New Bill,Itar-Tass (02/23/99)

Russian Military Decay Detailed
State Dept. Report Lists Poor Economy's Effects on Readiness

Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
February 21, 1999
(for personal use only)

An unusually detailed State Department report concludes that the Russianmilitary's combat readiness is in "rapid decay" and says an internalassessment by the Russian Defense Ministry finds "the average Russiansoldier is only marginally combat capable."

Although the Russian military's decline in recent years has beenextensively chronicled, the State Department report, handed to CongressFriday, was described by a congressional arms expert as the mostcomprehensive recent unclassified summary of the Russian collapse he hasseen, reflecting data in secret intelligence reports.

Because of severe economic problems within the Russian government, thestudy said, military expenditures in the first nine months of 1998 wereonly two-thirds of what was budgeted. As a result, training exercises inthe Russian army, navy and air force have been sharply curtailed and"combat training has become virtually non-financed," according to thereport. Sea duty for Russian submarines has been reduced by 25 percentand that for surface ships by 33 percent, it added, while the Russianair force in 1998 did only 15 to 40 percent of normal flying to train.

Ruble devaluation has further reduced the military's spending power andleft the Defense Ministry with debt of about 60 billion rubles, orroughly $9 billion. Of that amount, some $2.5 billion is in back pay toactive duty and retired servicemen.

"The Russian military situation is worse than ever," the expert said.

The State Department report went to Capitol Hill at the same time thattwo high-level U.S. delegations headed to Moscow for negotiations aimedat reducing the nuclear arms threats of both countries. One group,headed by Pentagon officials, is continuing talks on a jointRussian-U.S. early warning system to prevent accidental launch ofstrategic weapons. The other, headed by Deputy Secretary of State StrobeTalbott, will discuss what may be done pending Russian ratification ofthe START II arms reduction treaty and U.S. plans to explore a minimalmissile defense system.

The rapid decline in Russian strategic delivery systems is part of thediscussions in both groups, sources said.

One sign of how the financial problems affect reducing the size of thearmed forces is the ministry's failure to pay severance, housing costs,pensions and relocation expenses to those who retire. An attempt to giveretirees a government promissory note, called a housing certificate, tohelp pay civilian rents was halted in August 1998 after only 13,000 ofthe promised 42,000 certificates were issued.

The roughly $300 million worth of certificates -- which were supposed tocover 80 percent of an ex-soldier's rent -- now have what the reportcalled "dubious" value since the ruble devaluation.

"It's amazing the military has not exploded," a White House defenseexpert said. He noted, as does the State Department analysis, thatseveral attempts in the past two years to organize the military intoopposition movements "have fizzled . . . and have had negligible impacton Russia's political order."

Largely because of the financial crisis, military reform programs havebeen postponed. The most important plan, to change from a conscript toan all-contract armed force, has been delayed "until well into the nextdecade," the report said.

Meanwhile, the decline in military living standards has put the military"at the low end of the country's economic scale." In 1998, thegovernment was three to four months behind in paying salaries. The lowliving standard contributed to "increase in crime, particularly theft,and corruption in the armed forces, as well as to suicides among servicemembers and widespread evasion of military service."

The State Department study pointed out that procurement of equipmentalso is being delayed and "defense orders will meet only the most urgentrequirements." In that category, however, the Russian strategic rocketforces, which tend land-based nuclear intercontinental ballisticmissiles, are "foremost" on the list.

Of the 10,000 Russian soldiers deployed abroad in United Nationspeacekeeping roles, only those in Bosnia are funded in the Russianmilitary defense budget. Moscow's battalion in Croatia is subsidized bythe United Nations, and other units in former Soviet states, such asGeorgia, Moldova and Armenia, get their salaries from Russia but getsubsidies from the host governments.

In the future, according to Moscow, all peacekeeping missions would beassigned first to airborne forces and then to special ground units inorder to keep them, like the strategic rocket forces, in better fightingcondition than the rest of the services.
Washington, Moscow Ponder Y2k Nuclear Danger
Adam Tanner
February 22, 1999
(for personal use only)

MOSCOW - - The United States has offered to set up a missileearly-warning center with Russia from December 1999 to reduce the riskof accidental war stemming from the millennium bug, a senior U.S.defense official said Sunday.

Edward Warner, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy andThreat Reduction, outlined the suggestion in two days of military talksthat ended Friday on how the millennium computer bug might affectRussia's nuclear arsenal.

Experts have expressed fear that the millennium bug, or Y2K problem,caused by outdated computer software that may mistake the year 2000 for1900 could cause Russian radars to believe mistakenly that an attack wasunder way.

``One of the possibilities that we are discussing and will discussfurther is the possibility of a jointly manned center with early-warninginformation available to provide an additional buffer against thatproblem,'' Warner told Reuters.

``One of the components of our proposal is the specific area of somesharing of early-warning data at the time of the transition, that is,the time of late December moving onto January of the year 2000.''

Warner led a U.S. delegation of the Defense Consultative Group of U.S.and Russian military officials. The Y2K problem was one of severalissues considered in the talks.

Russia has begun to acknowledge that its military may be affected by themillennium bug, but it is unclear where the cashapped country wouldget the funds it would need to tackle it, or how it could do so in only10 months' time.

``There is a problem and we are dealing with it,'' said a spokesman forRussia's Strategic Rocket Forces.

Warner said U.S. and Russian military officials had agreed to meet againin March to come up with a detailed program to combat the millenniumbug. But he downplayed the threat of accidental nuclear war from Y2Kwoes.

"I'm not of the opinion either on a day-to-day routine basis today oreven at the time of Y2K that there is a high danger of thelaunch-on-false-warning kind of problem," Warner, an expert on theRussian military, said in the interview.

"Their system has long had multiple layers of command and control andauthorization. It would still have all those areas, making theprobability of accidental and unauthorized launch (low)," he said.

"Nevertheless we certainly want to encourage them to look withparticular care at systems in that area, because one wants both sides tocontinue to have effective systems they have confidence in."

The defense official said the United States would like to set up a jointearly-warning system with Russia on a permanent basis, but was ready toset up a temporary facility if no permanent agreement was reached beforethe end of the year.

Warner will also take part in talks on a wide range of defense andarms-control themes Monday and Tuesday led by U.S. Deputy Secretary ofState Strobe Talbott.

One of the most controversial topics is a growing U.S. interest inaltering the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty which limits Russia andthe United States to a single ABM site against nuclear attack. Warnersaid the U.S. would not decide whether to deploy a new ABM system untilJune 2000 at earliest.

Sergei Rogov, head of Russia's independent USA and Canada Institutethink tank, suggests in the latest edition of a Russian militarynewspaper that Russia should be prepared to renegotiate the ABM treatyand to go beyond it with a far broader deal that covers all areas ofstrategic stability.
No sale, say Canadians
Bellona News
William Stoichevski
February 23, 1999
(for personal use only)

A year of hopeful sales hype from an Atomic Energy Minister echoes adesire to revive his ministry, but falls short of some facts.

Contrary to statements made by the Russian Atomic Energy Ministersuggesting a nuclear technology deal with Canada was imminent, none wasstruck during recent talks in Ottawa, a Canadian Department of ForeignAffairs spokesman said.

The visit to Canada of Deputy Prime Minister, Gennady Kulik, was billedas a signing ceremony for trade deals and, less triumphantly, for thetransfer of Canadian nuclear technology to Russia.

Expectations were created when Atomic Energy Minister, Yevgeny Adamov,offered journalists at a press conference this month what seemed likedetails of a reactor-building plan - a plan that awaited Canada'sapproval. Teasing conference goers, Adamov described a buildingagreement where "70 per cent of the equipment could be manufactured inRussia," the Itar-Tass news agency reported. "The power plant will bebuilt by Russians and Russian fuel would be used."

But Adamov's statements now sound overly ambitious. Canadian ForeignAffairs spokesman, Chris Alexander, said Kulik and his hosts in Ottawanever discussed the transfer or purchase of nuclear technology at ahigh-level meeting they both attended. A Ministry of Natural Resourcesofficial confirmed his statement.

Itar-Tass reported on Feb.10, 1999, that Kulik was prepared to discussthe construction of a nuclear power plant in the Russian Far East.Kulik's visit seemed to hold the key for Russian contractors to beginwork on two Canadian-designed reactors for the Far Eastern district ofPrimorsky Krai.

No agreement in sight

Alexander said the parties were "far from an agreement." In an effort toexplain Adamov's enthusiastic comments of the past year, he said theprospect of a nuclear technology deal could only be "close to his(Adamov's) heart." He added that discussions were "ongoing" with neitherside ready to commit.

While Kulik was in Canada, Reuters reported that the EconomicDevelopment Corporation, the Canadian Government's export financingbody, could no longer offer credit to Russian banks due to a build up ofarrears. Adamov told Itar-Tass in February that it might be possible toobtain credit from Canada. The lack of economic support for the venturenow appears to have been what killed Adamov's Canada-Russia reactorproject.

Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, the Canadian corporation responsiblefor the development and sale of Canadian nuclear technology, failed torespond to questions concerning any deal or the likelihood of futurereactor sales to Russia. The arm's-length corporation has come undercriticism in the past, both in the Canadian Parliament and press, forits sales practices.

In 1996, through the EDC - AECL's enabling body - reactor sales to Chinaappeared to be rushed, ahead of a required environmental assessmentcheck. The Canadian Government and AECL were later criticized forchoosing earthquake prone and belligerent Turkey in efforts to securethe sale of reactor technology.
Israel To Use Russian Scientists
Los Angeles Times
February 23, 1999
(for personal use only)

MOSCOW--Israel will try to involve Russia's under-funded scientists injoint research projects so they will not be tempted to make money byhelping Iran develop weapons of mass destruction, a visiting Israelicabinet minister said Tuesday.

Israeli Trade and Industry Minister Natan Sharansky, a former Russiandissident, praised plans to improve controls on exporting weaponstechnology, saying that the tightening "should be continued and evenraised, but that alone won't be enough."

The alleged cooperation by Russian scientists and engineers with Iran"essentially has an economic cause," Sharansky said, according to theInterfax news agency. He promised that Israel "will work to involveRussia in joint American-Israeli or purely Israeli projects -naturally,of a peaceful character." Russia's scientific programs have sufferedsevere financial troubles since the 1991 Soviet collapse, and manyresearchers, who often go unpaid for months, have been forced to lookfor jobs abroad to make a living.

Russia has denied U.S. accusations that its private companies arehelping Iran build weapons of mass destruction -a worry that has ledWashington to impose sanctions on 12 Russian scientific institutes. ButRussia's security chief and presidential chief of staff NikolaiBordyuzha conceded earlier this month that Russia's controls againstleaks of weapons technologies to Iran may be insufficient and need tobe improved.

Sharansky, who heads an immigrant party in Israel, has made frequentvisits to Moscow in recent years to promote closer economic andpolitical ties between the two countries.

Sharansky spent 10 years in Soviet prisons after he was jailed in 1977on trumped-up charges that he was a CIA spy. He was one of the SovietUnion's best-known political prisoners.

The Soviet authorities bent to strong international pressure to releaseSharansky, and in 1987 stripped him of Soviet citizenship and deportedhim.
Duma to Discuss Start-2 Ratification in Context of New Bill
February 23, 1999
(for personal use only)

MOSCOW -- The Russian State Duma /lower houseof the parliament/ will ratify the START-2 treaty only after it passesthe bill "On financing Strategic Nuclear Forces by 2010," Chairman ofthe Duma Defense Committee Roman Popkovich told Tass on Tuesday. "Thebill is practically ready, and will be submitted to the Duma forconsideration in March," he said.

Popkovich further explained that the problem of START-2 ratification was"directly and closely linked with the development of the Russianstrategic nuclear forces, their financing included." He pointed out that"a financial groundwork should be laid for the START-2 treaty to work."

The chairman of the Duma committee for defense said that the RussianDefense Ministry had already prepared financial and economicsubstantiation of the treaty's implementation. According to Popkovich,"the Russian State Duma may start discussing the treaty next summer,"but the treaty could be ratified only "with the perspective developmentof our strategic forces taken into account," he added.

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