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Nuclear News - 03/03/99
RANSAC Nuclear News, 3 March, 1999

1. Argues Weapons Sales Reports Are Convenient Excuse For Cutting Aid,RFE/RL Newsline (02/26/99)2. Poverty A Pox On Nuclear Safety, The Sunday Times (03/01/99)3. Nukes to Iran?, Russia Today (03/01/99)4. Five Power Units for Nuclear Plants to Be Built in Russia, Itar-Tass(03/01/99)5. US to Cooperate with Russia on Safety of Nuke Materials, Itar-Tass(03/03/99)6. Russia's Nuclear Control Not Prone to 2000 Bug Official, Itar-Tass(03/03/99)7. Move to Put Start-II Ratification on Duma Agenda Turned Down,Itar-Tass (03/03/99)


...Argues Weapons Sales Reports Are Convenient Excuse For CuttingAid
RFE/RL Newsline
February 26, 1999
(for personal use only)

Meanwhile, "Vremya MN" quoted anonymous Russiandefense specialists as saying they believe that recentWestern news reports about Russian weapons sales to Iraq andallegations that U.S. financial aid to Russian defenseenterprises were misspent are all part of the U.S.government's preparations to drastically reduce its foreignaid spending on Russia's nuclear and defense industry.According to the newspaper, "Washington's new approach isboiling down to the simple assumption that Russian is not theSoviet Union and can be safely ignored." It added that "itcertainly seems that the U.S. has stopped taking seriously"even the threat of a 'brain drain' into third countries withnuclear ambitions."
Poverty A Pox On Nuclear Safety
Carey Scott
The Sunday Times
March 1, 1999
(for personal use only)

RUSSIANS are used to finding their lifts broken because somebody haspilfered parts to sell at a scrap market.

Nuclear submarines, however, had always seemed an unlikely target forpetty thieves - until now.

In the Arctic wastes of Russia's Kola peninsula, a povertyickennaval conscript put an Akula-class nuclear attack submarine out ofservice last month after he snipped off 24 lengths of wire from thereactor room and sold them to an officer from another submarine.

What he did not know was that the coiled palladium-vanadium wire hehad pocketed was part of a vital control device. The theft, disclosedlast week after the sailor was arrested, in effect dismantled thereactor.

As Russia struggles to avert economic disaster, the human factor -rather than the technology - is becoming the most unpredictableelement in the nuclear equation.

"It tells you how desperate the situation is," said Thomas Nielsen, ofBellona, a Norwegian environmental group that campaigns in the area."When military staff are worried about feeding their families, nuclearsafety drops down the list of priorities."

It is a particularly alarming prospect given that the Kola peninsula,which borders Finland and Norway, has the world's highestconcentration of nuclear reactors - active and derelict - and isregarded as the world's most dangerous dumping ground.

With the Cold War over, the Russians are left to deal with aging,unwanted submarines that cannot be properly decommissioned becausecrumbling local storage facilities for nuclear waste and spent fuel arealready full.

More than 70 submarines are moored at the peninsula's bases, completewith onboard nuclear reactors.

British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook is due to travel to Murmansk, theregional capital, this week to emphasize the West's commitment totackling the problem.

He will see for himself the Lepse, a barge moored in Murmansk harborand so crammed with nuclear waste and spent fuel that it can nolonger be moved safely.

A concrete case has been built around it. However, the barge stillspills radioactive waste into the water and will not be safe for 200,000years.

Despite a Russian government decree handing inspection powers to thecountry's civilian nuclear authority, the navy continues to block anyaccess to bases.

"If there was a nuclear accident at one of the military bases, we wouldnot hear about it for a while," said Andrei Zolotkov, a nuclear safetyexpert in Murmansk who disclosed in 1991 that the Soviet Union hadbeen illegally dumping nuclear waste in the sea for 20 years.

In 1993, there were attempts to steal and sell spent nuclear fuel.

In 1995, the electricity to one of the northern fleet's submarine baseswas cut off by the local power company after the navy failed to pay itsbill. The power supply to a reactor's cooling mechanisms was severedbefore the military forced the utility company at gunpoint to restoreit.

There are also fears surrounding active nuclear submarines.

Last September came the world's first hijacking of a nuclear vessel,when a 19-year-old sailor at Kola's Skalisty base murdered eight of hiscolleagues and threatened to blow up his Akula submarine before beinggunned down.
Five Power Units for Nuclear Plants to Be Built in Russia
Itar-Tass
March 1, 1999
(for personal use only)

ST.PETERSBURG- Russia will build five new power units for nuclearstations over the next few years, which will be stand-by facilitiesof operating units at nuclear power plants, chief engineer of theIzhorskiye Zavody company Vadim Petrov said here on Monday in anexclusive interview with Itar-Tass.

This Petersburg engineering enterprise will be engaged in manufacturingreactors and reactor equipment for new units.

According to the chief engineer, the company will build one unitVVER-640 for the Leningrad nuclear power station, two VVER blocks -- for the Kola nuclear plant and two VVER-1000 units for theNovo-Voronezhskaya nuclear station.

Petrov emphasized that a contract with the Rosenergoatom agency wasalready signed to build stand-by facilities for the Leningrad nuclearplant. It is probable that the Petersburg company will manufacturereactors with a capacity of 400 mW for a floating Pivek station which isbeing designed on the Chukchi Peninsula.

Besides, intergovernmental talks between Russia and India are now inprogress to build two power units for nuclear plants in that country.

Izhorskie Zavody where production facilities were built in the 1960s,which enable the company to produce simultaneously four sets of reactorequipment of the VVER type, is the only Russian enterprise which has afull technical cycle to fill such orders.

The company started to build one reactor for the Bushehr power plant inIran and two reactors for the Lianyungang power plant in China.
US to Cooperate with Russia on Safety of Nuke Materials.
Itar-Tass
March 3, 1999
(for personal use only)

WASHINGTON- Bill Richardson, U.S. Secretary of Energy, speaking at theNational Press Club here on Tuesday, pointed out that to rendertechnical and financial assistance to Russia in ensuring safe andreliable storage of its nuclear materials is one of main nuclearnon-proliferation tasks facing the Department.

Mr. Richardson emphasized that Washington intends to continue activelyto cooperate with Moscow in tackling this problem which is of majorimportance to both countries. He recalled that President Bill Clintonrecently suggested allocating additionally about 4,500 million dollarsover next five years for assistance to Russia and other ex-Sovietrepublics to ensure the safety of their nuclear materials andtechnologies.

In view of that, the Energy Secretary said, annual appropriations fromthe Department's budget for these purposes as well as for other programsof cooperation with Russia will be augmented by 100 million dollars.

The U.S. Energy Secretary believes that the need for that has beenprompted by the fact that the problem of reliable storage of Russiannuclear materials has acquired particular acuteness of late in view ofthe financial and economic crisis in the Russian Federation.

Mr. Richardson said the nuclear facilities and materials monitoringsystem, which was established in Russia earlier has grown weaker andthere is a lack of funds to support it.

In view of that, the U.S. Energy Department intends to work with Russianpartners on several specific programs. One of them is aimed at raisingthe level of protecting, accounting and control of fissionable materialsand is being implemented at more than 40 Russian facilities.

The U.S. attaches special importance to the Restricted-Access Citiesproject to effect the conversion of 10 Russian nuclear centers forcivilian production and the rendering of assistance to researchers andspecialists who work there.

The initiative, proposed last year, envisages in particular theestablishment of joint-venture enterprises to make computer software,develop the telecommunications system and open business centers.

Another area of cooperation between the two countries is connected withthe training of the personnel of law enforcement agencies who are calledupon to prevent the smuggling of nuclear materials and equipment out ofthe country.

Mr. Richardson said more than 200 specialists from 12 ex-Sovietrepublics and Eastern European countries are to undergo advancedtraining by next year under a program worked out by the Customs Serviceand the Pentagon.

And finally, Mr. Richardson said the United States intends to carry oncooperation with Russia under another two important programs connectedwith the reprocessing of surplus nuclear materials.

The first of them envisions the reprocessing of Russian highly-enricheduranium extracted from strategic arms subject to cutbacks, and the otherone is aimed at reducing by 50 tons in each country the stocks ofweapon-grade plutonium.

Mr. Richardson recalled that at the end of last year the U.S. Congresshad allocated additionally 525 million dollars for a continuation of theprojects.
Russia's Nuclear Control Not Prone to 2000 Bug Official.
Itar-Tass
March 3, 1999
(for personal use only)

MOSCOW- The apprehended computer mega-glitch of the year 2000 will notaffect control systems of Russia' strategic nuclear forces, a highofficial of the Russian Defense Ministry told Itar-Tass on Wednesday.

He said "these automated systems have no calendar dates, as thecountdown of time begins from the moment of a command for someoperation".

The millennium bug is thought impending in the ability of computers toread only two last digits of the year, with a likelihood of 2000 misreadas 1900 and resultant mess in computer networks.

The Russian army since July of 1998 has checked its 134 sites ofcomputerized control. A proportion of computers that do not serve thenuclear forces were found to be obsolete and in need of replacement.

The official said the Defense Ministry recently has shifted the focus ofanti-glitch measures from information retrieval to refinement ofselected systems.

"This process is going in several directions, including the hardware,general-purpose software, special software and others," he said.

Military experts say the information sector of the Russian space defensetroops is at present pursuing "the development of decisions" for workingup combat programs.

The programs are scheduled for computer adjustment in June, withsubsequent comprehensive testing.
Move to Put Start-II Ratification on Duma Agenda TurnedDown.
Itar-Tass
March 3, 1999
(for personal use only)

MOSCOW - The State Duma has turned down a proposal made by the LDPfaction to discuss ratification of the START-II treaty at a session ofthe State Duma on March 5. The proposal to hold debates on START-IIratification was pressed ahead by LDP leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky.

Chairman of the Duma Committee for Defense Roman Popkovich underlinedthe importance of ratification of this document, but added that "hastened debates might ruin the treaty altogether."

Popkovich said that on the initiative of a number of Duma committees aproposal was being considered that first, a law on financing strategicnuclear forces until the year 2010 should be adopted and only afterfinancial substantiation of the problem "we might get down to a draftlaw on ratification."



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