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Nuclear News - 03/10/99
RANSAC Nuclear News, 10 March, 1999

  1. Russia's Relevance, Washington Post (03/07/99)
  2. Scientists and Lawmakers Call for Nuclear Stand-Down, AssociatedPress (03/09/99)
  3. Russia, Western Countries Sign Nuclear Clean-Up Plan, RFE/RLNewsline (03/09/99)
  4. Rosvooruzheniye, Nuclear Center to Cooperate, Itar-Tass (03/09/99)
  5. US To Consider Aid To Russian Dismantling Of Worn Subs, Itar-Tass(03/10/99)

Russia's Relevance
Fred Hiatt
Washington Post
March 7, 1999
(for personal use only)

So loose nukes may be rolling through the taiga, the ruble may be inruins, tuberculosis flares in Siberia.

Who cares?

Not so long ago it was assumed that Russia's health was essential toworld stability. Then Russia's troubles slid from bad to worse, and therest of the world hardly seemed to notice. Now some in Washington aresuggesting that maybe Russia didn't matter so much after all.

Certainly many Russian politicians believe that the United States haswritten them off. (Most of the rest believe the United States is out todestroy them.) Proof, for them, is everywhere. When President Clintonlaunched Desert Fox on the eve of his impeachment, for example,Republicans in Congress smelled one rat, Russians another. It was alsothe eve of a scheduled Duma vote on the START II arms control treaty.The U.S. military action doomed the vote. So if Clinton really caredabout relations with Russia, many Russians reasoned, he would havepostponed his bombing campaign.

But it's not just Russians who suspect the Clinton administration hasgiven up. "The U.S.-Russian relationship has, in the last eight years,gone from a strategic partnership," Republican Sen. Dick Lugar saidrecently, "to a pragmatic one, to a relationship of benign neglect, toone that is lurching toward malign neglect."

Administration officials feed this perception when they advocate, inDeputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott's words, a policy of "strategicpatience and persistence," or when Clinton visits Moscow and seems tohave no idea what to do once he arrives.

In fact, most administration officials have not concluded that Russiadoesn't matter. They still believe, as Talbott also said, that "thestakes, for us, are huge." They just aren't sure what to do about it.

Here's one way to look at their dilemma. As Russia's post-Communisttransition has stalled, the nation in fact has lost much of its abilityto influence the world -- at least in a positive way. Its economy nowaccounts for something like one percent of world output. Russia remainsthe world's biggest country, but territory has long since ceased to be akey indicator of power. It holds vast stores of oil and mineral wealth,but in a global economy based increasingly on knowledge and technology,those, too, are of dwindling value.

Russia's declining population of 150 million is too impoverished totempt many companies as a consumer market. And despite a high level ofeducation, its value as a labor pool is dimmed by the crime anduncertain laws and taxes that keep most foreign companies away.

So Russia's potential influence is mostly negative. It can scare theworld with the consequences of collapse: untended nuclear weapons,degraded missile-launch computers, the export of crime and pollution andcontagious disease.

U.S. policy has evolved in two ways as a result. Not surprisingly, mostof its aid is aimed at averting the bad, not promoting the good.Three-quarters of U.S. assistance dollars, Secretary of State MadeleineAlbright said last fall, "are devoted to programs that diminish thethreat of nuclear war and the danger that weapons of mass destructionwill fall into the wrong hands."

And, as Russia has moved "from the core of the international system tothe periphery," as the Carnegie Endowment's Michael McFaul said, it hasalso moved to the periphery of U.S. foreign policy. On issue after issue-- Kosovo, Iraq, Iran, NATO expansion, anti-missile defense -- themessage from the administration is that Russia matters, but not enoughto derail U.S. policy.

Excluded from policymaking, Russia then emphasizes even more its spoilerrole: shipping dangerous technology to Iran, encouraging Serbianaggression, tweaking the United States wherever possible. And so the twonations find themselves in an unhealthy downward cycle -- a long wayfrom the strategic partnership envisioned at the opening of this decade.

This, it should be stressed, is mostly Russia's fault. Until Russia getsits reforms on track, its influence will continue to diminish. A foreignpolicy that indulges Russian nostalgia and wishful thinking, as theUnited States did with its great-power summitry and its prematuretransformation of the G-7 into a G-8, can't change the reality. It'smore likely, in fact, to bruise feelings and delay reform by convincingRussia that normal rules won't apply to it.

Yet "strategic patience" isn't sufficient either. Russia does matter. Ifit takes its place as a democratic, free-market economy, pulling itsneighbors in the same direction through force of successful example, onekind of world will result. If it implodes or grows hostile, the worldwill be very different, and far more dangerous.

That understanding motivates those who continue to search for a U.S.policy that will speak to Russia's potential and not just itspathologies. U.S.-Russian relations need "a new and dramatichigh-profile program," Lugar says. His proposal: a U.S. commitment tohelp Russia produce 10,000 masters of business administration and 10,000certified public accountants.

Inside the administration, some officials seek ways to turnballistic-missile defense, at the moment one of the greatest irritantsin the relationship, into something positive by proposing a cooperativeundertaking. And many arms control specialists continue to urgeunilateral U.S. steps to reduce the nuclear arsenal and take it offtrigger alert. This could encourage Russia to follow suit but would befree of the coercion and preaching that seem counterproductive thesedays.

Some say all of this must wait -- until a spent Boris Yeltsin and a U.S.administration identified with failed policies both pass from the scene.Perhaps so. But two years in modern Russian history is a long time. Thenext U.S. administration may find itself with even fewer, and lessattractive, options than those available today.
Scientists and Lawmakers Call for Nuclear Stand-Down
Associated Press
March 9, 1999
(for personal use only)

Washington -- Could the much-talked about Y-2-K bug cause a nuclearconfrontation?

Scientists, lawmakers, and the Clinton administration are talking aboutthe possibility.

Some scientists say there's little evidence to justify fears thatcomputer errors will lead to accidental launches or explosions innuclear silos in the U-S or Russia. But Massachusetts Congressman EdMarkey and some policy-makers are proposing a nuclear stand-down just tobe safe.

A stand-down in the military means to go off duty. Some Pentagonofficials say taking weapons off alert and then putting them back onmight pose additional risks.

The administration has proposed that Russian and American experts meetin Colorado at the end of the year to jointly monitor early warningsystems and prevent computer-generated misperceptions of an attack.
Russia, Western Countries Sign Nuclear Clean-Up Plan
RFE/RL Newsline
March 9, 1999
(for personal use only)

At a meeting in the Norwegian city of Bodoe on 5 March, Russia,the Nordic countries, European states, and the U.S. signed anagreement to help clean-up Moscow's huge stockpile of nuclearwaste, Reuters reported. Various Western countries, includingthe U.S., will make financial contributions to the effort. PG
Rosvooruzheniye, Nuclear Center to Cooperate
March 9, 1999
(for personal use only)

MOSCOW - Director-General of the Russian Rosvooruzheniye state companyGrigory Rapota will visit on March 10 the Russian federal nuclear center-- All-Russia experimental physics research institute in the city ofSarov.

The purpose of Rosvooruzhenye director-general's visit is to discusswith the nuclear center's chiefs the initial results of jointly enteringthe world markets of non-nuclear armaments and prospects for furthermutually-advantageous cooperation, Tass learnt from the Rosvooruzheniyepublic relations office.

The sides will also discuss switching scientific and technical work ofenterprises of the Russian Ministry of Nuclear Energy in the area ofmilitary equipment, including the creation of highly effectivenon-nuclear combat parts and ammunition utilization into the frameworkof military-technical cooperation with foreign countries.

During the visit to the center, the Rosvooruzheniye delegation willstudy its unique experimental base, as well as watch the tests ofproducts meant to be put on the international market of non-nucleararmaments.

Since the early nineties the center has been actively cooperating withenterprises creating non-nuclear armaments, including high-precisionweapons. The institute has a closed cycle of works for armamentsmanufacture, ranging from theoretical research and estimation toexperimental processing, designing of products, creation of newtechnologies, bench and proving-ground tests, and experimentaland batch production.
US To Consider Aid To Russian Dismantling Of Worn Subs.
March 10, 1999
(for personal use only)

WASHINGTON, March 9- Late this year the U.S. administration willconsider anassistance to the Russian search for funds needed to dismantle wornnuclear-powered submarines and utilize the used nuclear fuel, theDefense News weekly reports.

According to the weekly, members of the U.S. National SecurityCouncil will discuss a financing possibility in October. The programwillbe then discussed at the Congress, and a final decision will be taken.

So far, the issue is being studied by specialists from the Departmentsof Energy, Defense and State and the Environmental ProtectionAgency.

Aspects of the program are expected to be discussed at the 11thsession of the Russian-American Intergovernmental Commission forthe Economic and Technological Cooperation in Washington in lateMarch.

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