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Nuclear News - 02/26/99
RANSAC Nuclear News, 26 February, 1999

1. Russia, Others Face Major Y2k Problems, CIA Says, Associated Press(02/24/99)2. Russian Rocket Called Invincible Designer Says It Can Penetrate Any'Potential ABM System', Washington Post (02/25/99)3. Retired Russian Nuclear Submarines Wait for Waste Fuel Removal,Itar-Tass (02/25/99)4. Belarusian President Wants Russian Nuclear Weapons Back, BBC News(02/26/99)5. U.S. Urged to Reduce Nuclear Arsenal to Revive Russian Talks, NewYork Times (02/26/99)

Russia, Others Face Major Y2k Problems, CIA Says
Associated Press
February 24, 1999
(for personal use only)

WASHINGTON -- Russian missiles, Chinese power systems andMideast shipping could all face breakdowns because many foreigncountries are failing to face up to the seriousness of the Year 2000computer problem, the CIA told Congress on Wednesday.

Air Force Gen. John Gordon, CIA deputy director, told a Senate ArmedServices Committee hearing that Russia appears particularly vulnerable,raising concerns about the safety of its missiles, nuclear plants andgas pipelines.

"We do not see a problem in terms of Russian or Chinese missilesautomatically being launched" because of Y2K-related problems. Butcomputer glitches could cause local accidents if temperature or humiditymonitors malfunction, or Russian missile early warning systems might putout incorrect information about foreign missile launches, Gordon said.He said the Pentagon has been consulting with the Russians on how toavoid that danger.

Separately, a special Senate committee on the Y2K problem was finishinga draft of a report finding that the United States, while well ahead ofmost of the rest of the world in fixing computers, is likely toexperience some disruptions in health care, electric power and fooddistribution.

"All sectors of the economy, many of which provide goods and servicesthat are vital to our health and well being, are at risk," Sens. RobertBennett, R-Utah, and Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., wrote their Senatecolleagues.

Because older computers use only two digits to read dates, they willmisread the year 2000 as 1900, resulting in possible erroneous data andshutdowns.

Both Gordon and the Senate report emphasized that it is difficult toassess what will happen on Jan. 1. Within the United States, manycompanies have been reluctant to reveal their status out of fear oflitigation, while many foreign nations are just beginning to deal withthe "millennium bug."

There are some who "paint a picture of the collapse of society whereroving bands of marauders travel the countryside looting supplies," Sen.James Inhofe, R-Okla., said at the Senate hearing. Inhofe said he didn'tthink that likely, although "I am sure that we will experience somedisruptions in our daily lives."

Gordon said a major concern was a midwinter power outage that could have"major humanitarian consequences" for such countries as Russia andUkraine. He noted that Russia's Gazprom Natural Gas Pipeline networksupplies more than one-third of Europe's natural gas and is run bySoviet-era mainframe computers highly likely to contain Y2Kimperfections.

China, he said, is belatedly addressing the problem, but with limitedtime remaining "will probably experience failures in key sectors such astelecommunications, electric power and banking."

Gordon said oil supplies are also worrisome because world ports andocean shipping are among the sectors that have done the least to preparefor the Y2K problem.

Among the draft report's findings were that 90 percent of doctors and 50percent of smaller businesses have not addressed the problem. Half ofelectric power companies had fixed their computers by the end of 1998,but "failure of some parts of the electric industry's system is likely."

However, a prolonged, nationwide blackout was not expected, and 95percent of telephone systems are supposed to be Y2K-compliant in time.Planes, it said, "will not fall out of the sky."

There is nothing to suggest this country will experience nationwidesocial or economic collapse, but "those who suggest that it will benothing more than a 'bump in the road' are simply misinformed," thedraft report said.

It estimated that Americans will withdraw an average of $500 from banks,and urged consumers to keep bank statements and take extra care withinvestment decisions. It also said that "stockpiling a small amount ofextra food and water in the event of temporary shortages may also beadvisable."

At the hearing, Deputy Secretary of Defense John Hamre stressed that"our nuclear command and control system has been thoroughly tested andhas performed superbly."

The Pentagon has been criticized as among the worst government agenciesin confronting the crisis. But Hamre said 93 percent of systems will befixed by March 31, the deadline President Clinton set, and 100 percentby the end of the year.

"The Department of Defense is like a large ship headed toward aniceberg," he said. "We have successfully changed course to avoid the tipbut we must continue our efforts to ensure we miss the submergedportion."
Russian Rocket Called Invincible Designer Says It Can Penetrate Any'Potential ABM System'
David Hoffman
Washington Post Foreign Service
February 25, 1999
(for personal use only)

MOSCOW-The leading designer of Russia's new intercontinental ballisticmissile claimed in an interview published today that the Topol-M rockethas the ability to "effectively penetrate" the antimissile systems "ofany state."

The comments by Yuri Solomonov, general constructor at the MoscowInstitute of Heat Technology, which built the new missile, made publicwhat other Russia experts have previously asserted privately: that themissile has a secret design that permits it to elude the most modernmissile defenses.

Solomonov was not specific about the missile's shield-smashing abilityin an interview with the newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta, and his claimcould not be verified. But his comments could add to the debate over thefeasibility of limited missile defense systems, such as one now beingdeveloped by the United States.

His remarks also could be intended as a warning to the United States,which has suggested modifying the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty toallow use of a limited missile defense. Russia has steadfastly opposedchanging the treaty, although there have been some hints that it mightbe willing to accept changes as part of a larger arms-control agreement.

The single-warhead, solid-fueled Topol-M is the centerpiece of Russia'shopes for preserving its nuclear deterrent in the years ahead, at a timewhen many of its aging missiles, submarines, aircraft and command-and-control systems are scheduled to be retired because of obsolescence andlack of money to build replacements. A first regiment of 10 new Topol-Mmissiles was placed on combat-duty status in December.

Solomonov said the missile had "from the very beginning designcapabilities enabling it to effectively penetrate a potential ABM systemof any state." He said the missile has different configurations, so thatit can function without special equipment against missile defenses or beoutfitted to penetrate a defensive shield.

"One must understand," he said, "that if you are going along the secondroute, you must increase spending and also change the characteristics ofthe missile -- make it heavier, more sophisticated in construction."

He said that even though the Topol-M has received high priority andpersonal backing from Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev, funding for theproject last year was only half of what was budgeted because of Russia'scontinuing economic problems. Solomonov said characteristics of theTopol-M -- in addition to its ability to penetrate an anti-ballisticmissile shield -- include a high degree of accuracy, resistance todamage and the "effectiveness" of the warhead itself. He suggested thatthe warhead has a self-targeting mechanism that activates just as thewarhead is approachingits target.

The Topol-M is designed to replace aging "heavy" missiles with multiplewarheads, which were outlawed by the START II arms treaty. The treatyhas languished unratified in the lower house of the Russian parliament,and some American analysts have suggested that Russia could be allowedto modify the Topol-M into a multiple-warhead missile in exchange forchanges in the ABM treaty.

Solomonov said that if START II is discarded and if Russia can scrape upenough money, the Topol-M could be converted to a multiple-warheadmissile. Other officials have said it could carry up to seven warheads,although they would be relatively small.
Retired Russian Nuclear Submarines Wait for Waste FuelRemoval.
February 25, 1999
(for personal use only)

ST.PETERSBURG -- Only 26 out of 100 retired nuclear submarines of theRussian Northern fleet have their reactor compartments cut out and fuelcores withdrawn, governor of the Murmansk region Yuri Yevdokimov toldTass on Thursday.

According to Yevdokimov, 80 more nuclear submarines were still waitingfor discharge of waste nuclear fuel at different naval bases on KolaPeninsula. The governor pointed out that the submarines were being keptafloat, and every precaution was taken to rule out "emergencies."

Yevdokimov further noted that more submarines of the Northern fleetwould be retired in the nearest future. The exact number would depend onthe ratification of the START-2 treaty by the Duma /lower house of theRussian parliament/.

The Murmansk governor said that "things do not look so good in whatconcerns delivery of the waste nuclear fuel to the processing plants."Yevdokimov further explained that the fleet had not received enoughspecial containers to remove waste fuel from the submarines. He addedthat about 10,000 cubic meters of solid and 7,500 cubic meters of liquidradioactive waste material had been accumulated by now at naval basesand temporary storage sites.

The Murmansk governor told Tass that the problem of foreign assistanceas regards waste nuclear fuel treatment in the region would be discussedduring the forthcoming visit of British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook toRussia, scheduled for the beginning of March.

This year, Murmansk-based nuclear ice-breakers' maintenance company"Atomflot" is expected to put into operation a utilization plant forliquid radioactive waste. The plant's capacity will fully meet thedemands of the region.

To attract funds, Yevdokimov who is now chairing the Regional Council ofthe Barents Sea /Euro-Arctic region/ has suggested that governors fromRussia, Sweden, Norway and Finland set up a special fund to promoteecological safety in the region.
Belarusian President Wants Russian Nuclear Weapons Back
BBC News
February 26, 1999
(for personal use only)

The Belarusian President, Alexandr Lukashenka hassaid the decision to withdraw Russian nuclear weaponsfrom Belarus was a big mistake and he will welcomethem back.

He was speaking to Russian journalists on his arrival inMoscow for today's meeting of the heads of the customsunion of four former Soviet republics Russia, Belarus,Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

Mr. Lukashenka said he was compelled to think in sucha way because NATO was getting closer to Belarus andRussia, while some countries of the Commonwealth ofIndependent States intended to leave its joint securitytreaty. Meanwhile the United States and the EuropeanSecurity Organization, the OSCE, have called fordialogue and compromise between PresidentLukashenka and the opposition, after sixteen activistswere briefly detained.
U.S. Urged to Reduce Nuclear Arsenal to Revive RussianTalks
Steven Lee Myers
New York Times
February 26, 1999
(for personal use only)

WASHINGTON -- A coalition of nuclear-weapons experts called on theClinton administration Thursday to revive stalled arms-controlnegotiations with Russia by making a series of bold and, if necessary,unilateral gestures to reduce nuclear stockpiles and build confidence.

In a report issued here, the Committee on Nuclear Policy, whichrepresents a variety of arms-control organizations and research groups,said the administration was losing the initiative by waitingindefinitely for the Russian Parliament to ratify the second strategicarms reduction treaty, or START II, before taking new steps to reducenuclear weapons.

Instead, the experts recommended, the United States and Russia shouldeach begin to reduce total stockpiles to 1,000 nuclear weapons,including strategic and battlefield warheads. At the peak of the ColdWar each side had more than 10,000 warheads, but the total number ofnuclear weapons -- bombs or missiles -- has never been made public.

The experts, who include Robert McNamara, the former secretary ofdefense, and Gen. Andrew Goodpaster, a former NATO commander, also saidboth sides should take more missiles off alert and remove from their warplans options that call for massive nuclear strikes.

Although the committee said the United States and Russia should worktogether on these objectives, it concluded that the administration couldby itself give new impetus to arms control and reduce what the expertsview as dangerous instability in Russia's nuclear forces.

"To continue to rely solely on the stalemated START process is toneedlessly increase the costs and risks of maintaining U.S. and Russiannuclear arsenals at levels well in excess of what is needed to deter anattack," the committee's report concluded.

Under START I, signed in 1991, the United States and Russia have reducedtheir strategic nuclear warheads from more than 10,000 to about 6,000.START II would reduce each side's arsenal to 3,000 to 3,500 warheads.The Senate approved the treaty in 1995, but it has languished inRussia's Parliament for six years.

Although President Boris Yeltsin's government supports ratification,votes have been repeatedly postponed, most recently in the wake ofDecember's American-led raids on Iraq, which Russia opposed.

Robert Bell, special assistant to the president for defense policy andarms control at the National Security Council, said the recommendationswere "well intentioned" but went too far. "At the end of the day, theproposals are too ambitious and too idealistic," he said.

But the coalition, coordinated by the Henry L. Stimson Center inWashington, cited President Bush's sweeping, unilateral decision in 1991to remove tactical nuclear weapons from overseas bases and from surfaceships, and to take 1,000 warheads on B-52s and some missiles off alert.Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev quickly reciprocated, clearingthe way for the START2 agreements.

Michael Krepon, president of the Stimson Center, an independent militaryresearch organization, said the administration -- and Congress -- hadnot paid enough attention to the extent of the deterioration of Russia'snuclear forces, driven by its collapsing economy.

"They'll become very focused on this problem after something terriblehappens," he said.

The committee also called on the administration to spend far more toimprove safeguards for Russia's nuclear arsenal. Clinton has proposedincreasing such spending to $4.5 billion over the next five years, fromthe $2.5 billion now budgeted.

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