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Nuclear News - 03/22/99
RANSAC Nuclear News, 22 March, 1999

A. START Treaty Update
1. Yeltsin Sends START-2 To Duma For Ratification, L.A. Times (03/22/99)

B. Russia-Iran
1. Primakov: Russia Prevents Leakage of Missile Technologies, Xinhua(03/22/99)

C. Primakov's Visit
1. 2 Nuclear Accords Expected U.S.-Russia Pact Involves Uranium Buy,Washington Post (03/21/99)

A. START Treaty Update
Yeltsin Sends START-2 To Duma For Ratification
L.A. Times
March 22, 1999

MOSCOW--Russian President Boris Yeltsin Monday submittedthe 1993 START-2 nuclear arms reduction treaty to the State Duma (lower house of parliament) for ratification, a Kremlin spokeswoman said.

The move came after the opposition-dominated chamber finally agreed last week to consider ratifying the Russian-U.S. treaty after a long mainly politically motivated delay.

The Duma's decision gave a boost to Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, who generally enjoys the chamber's backing, ahead of his trip to Washington this week.

Ratification could help Russia's cause in getting much-needed new foreign loans.

Itar-Tass news agency quoted Yeltsin's spokesman, Dmitry Yakushkin, as saying the president had sent a new version of the ratification law, which includes some conditions put forward by parliament, to simplify the approval process.

One known condition is an immediate start to work on a START-3 Treaty allowing further reductions in U.S. and Russian arsenals. Deputies say they may also seek foreign cash before approvingSTART-2 to help finance Russian disarmament.

Yakushkin said the law provided "a possibility to control the implementation of this very treaty as well as other treaties inthe field of strategic offensive armaments and anti-ballistic missile systems."

Russia is concerned by recent signals from the United States that Washington wants to alter the 1972 U.S.-Soviet Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty, which Moscow sees as a cornerstone of world nuclear deterrence.

START-2 slashes the two countries' Cold War nuclear arsenalsby up to two thirds to no more than 3,500 warheads each by 2007.

B. Russia-Iran
Primakov: Russia Prevents Leakage of Missile Technologies
March 22, 1999

MOSCOW -- Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov said Monday that hiscountry abides by its international commitments on the export of missiletechnologies in preventing the proliferation of weapons of massdestruction.

"I can say definitively and clearly that we are doing everything toprevent leakage of weapons of mass destruction," Primakov told reportersafter meeting here with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,Interfax reported.

"Russia is abiding by absolutely every international standard concerningexport. This policy has not changed," he said.

Netanyahu, who arrived here Sunday on a brief working visit, wasreportedly urging the Russians to stop the alleged transfer of weaponstechnology to Iran.

Primakov said that to the best of his knowledge, Iran does not havemissiles which could strike Israel, Netanyahu said.

It is his duty to do his best to prevent Iran from obtaining weaponsthat could threaten Israel, Primakov said.

The two prime ministers agreed to set up an economic guarantees fund ineach country, and representatives to the funds will soon be appointed,Netanyahu said, describing Israeli-Russian relations are excellent.

"I can confirm everything that Mr. Netanyahu has said," Primakov said.

"There is a political will to keep the cooperation developing," Primakovsaid. He quoted Netanyahu as saying that Russia should step up its rolein the Middle East "in keeping with tradition and opportunities."

Netanyahu, who visited Ukraine before coming here, will leave forGeorgia later Monday.

C. Primakov's Visit
2 Nuclear Accords Expected U.S.-Russia Pact Involves Uranium Buy
Thomas W. Lippman
Washington Post Staff Writer
March 21, 1999

Russia and the United States expect to finalize two nuclear securityagreements this week that will pump hundreds of millions of dollars intothe Russian treasury and ease tensions over Russia's nuclear cooperationwith Iran, according to officials of both countries.

The deals are scheduled to be completed during a crucial visit toWashington by Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, who is coming primarilyin hopes of persuading the International Monetary Fund to grant newloans to shore up Russia's crippled economy but will also take upsecurity and foreign policy issues.

Primakov is nominally coming to Washington in his capacity as Russianco-chairman of the binational commission formerly known asGore-Chernomyrdin, after its creators, Vice President Gore and formerRussian prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. But because of the prolongedillness of President Boris Yeltsin, Primakov is the day-to-day leader ofRussia, grappling with its political paralysis and economic free fall.

The stakes also are high for Gore, as he prepares for his ownpresidential campaign next year and the likelihood of having to defendhis handling of the Russia portfolio.

One agreement to be signed during their meeting this week provides forRussia to receive more than $300 million from the United States inpayment for uranium removed from Russian nuclear weapons and forRussia to gain immediate access to the worldwide commercial uraniummarket for future sales of similar material. The United States willagree to hold its purchased uranium off the market for 10 years, shoringup the price in a further economic boon to Russia.

In the second deal, senior administration officials said, Washington isprepared to accept a proposal by Atomic Energy Minister YevgenyAdamov to restrict the cooperation of two Russian scientific instituteswith Iran's nuclear program, in exchange for a lifting of U.S. sanctionson the two institutes.

There is "no explicit linkage" between the two agreements, a seniorofficial said. But he said "the fact that we were able to work out" theuranium payment deal "is one of the reasons why they are relatively morewilling to cooperate with us on Iran."

Adamov presented his plan for the two institutes to U.S. officialsearlier this month but surprised Washington by making it public lastweek in an interview with the New York Times. The details have not beenfinalized, officials said, but it calls for an end to dealing with Iranby the Scientific Research and Design Institute for Power Technology,known as Nikiet, which Adamov once headed, and by the MendeleyevUniversity of Chemical Technology.

Fears that they were transferring technology and equipment to Iran ledthe Clinton administration to impose sanctions on them in January,cutting them off from sales to or aid from the United States. Nikietlost about $7 million in U.S. contracts, mostly for technical work onsafety upgrades at Russia's remaining Chernobyl-type nuclear powerplants, an official said.

Russia has not agreed to stop helping the Iranians build a commercialnuclear power plant at Bushehr, and the Clinton administration hasgrudgingly resigned itself to Russia's determination to complete thatdeal, which is legal under international nonproliferation treaty rules.

The uranium agreement should finally secure full implementation of whathas often been described as the most ambitious swords-into-plowsharesdeals of the post-Cold War era. It is designed to ensure continueddisassembly of Russian nuclear weapons, secure disposition of the bombmaterial and provide a regular flow of desperately needed cash into theRussian Atomic Energy Ministry -- all without disrupting the uraniummarket or violating an earlier, unrelated U.S. trade ruling prohibitingRussia from "dumping" uranium on the American market.

In its natural state, uranium contains less than 1 percent of theisotope U-235, the fissionable material used to produce the explosivechain reaction that powers nuclear electricity plants as well as bombs.Through chemical processing, uranium for power plants is enriched toabout 4 percent U-235. Bomb-grade "highly enriched" uranium, or HEU, isabout 90 percent U-235. A small amount can be fashioned into a nuclearexplosive device with relative ease, according to arms experts.

In 1994, Washington and Moscow signed a $12 billion, 20-year contractproviding for Russia to dilute about 500 metric tons of the material,the equivalent of about 20,000 warheads, and ship it to Bethesda-basedU.S. Enrichment Corp. for resale to utilities. USEC, then own by thegovernment but now private, is the only enrichment facility in thiscountry.

Adamov's predecessor, Viktor Mikhailov, kept trying to restructure thedeal to get more money faster, threatening at times to cancel thearrangement unless his terms were met. The Clinton administration andCongress sought to accommodate him because they regard the uraniumdeal as crucial to keeping fissionable material from falling into thewrong hands and making funds available to keep Russia's nuclearscientists working at home rather than in Iran or Iraq.

Uranium shipments began in 1995 and have continued steadily. As of Dec.31, according to USEC, 50.5 metric tons of HEU had been diluted andsent to the United States. Another shipment is due to leave St.Petersburg on Friday.

The original contract provided for USEC to pay Russia only for theprocessing component of each shipment, which would have amounted toabout $8 billion of the $12 billion total. The remainder, from the saleof the natural uranium itself, would not have gone to Russia until USECcould sell it, a dubious prospect in a glutted market. It might havebeen 2013 before Russia received the remaining $4 billion.

Now after this final restructuring, made possible by an act of Congress,the United States will pay Russia $325 million -- already appropriated-- for the natural uranium that piled up in 1997 and 1998 and keep itoff the market for 10 years to stabilize prices.

Russia is scheduled to sign a contract with three commercial nuclearfuel companies in Canada and Europe for the sale of the natural uraniumfrom subsequent shipments, creating immediate revenue. USEC, responsibleto its shareholders, will no longer be required to buy natural uraniumit does not need but will continue to market the enriched uranium to itspower plant customers.

"This will put in place more stable financial relations and guaranteethe thing continuing on into the future," said Leon Fuerth, Gore'snational security adviser. "If that happens, that will be a big deal."

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