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Nuclear News - 03/29/99
RANSAC Nuclear News, 29 March, 1999

A. START Treaty Update
1. Russian Govt Urges Duma to Ratify Start-2, Reuters (03/27/99)
2. Foreign Ministry Mixes Harsh Rhetoric With Support For Start-II,RFE/RL Newsline (03/29/99)
3. Duma Condemns NATO Action, Threatens Start II Delay, Agence FrancePresse (03/29/99)

B. Russian Nuclear Forces
1. Russia's Nuclear Arms Facilities Undergoing Conversion, Itar-Tass(03/25/99)
2. Russia To Conduct Subcritical Nuclear Tests This Year, Kyodo(03/28/99)

C. Russia and Kosovo
1. Yeltsin Scorns NATO Actions, Associated Press (03/29/99)


A. START Treaty Update
Russian Govt Urges Duma to Ratify Start-2
Reuters
March 27, 1999
(for personal use only)

MOSCOW -- Russia's defense and foreign ministers urged the lower houseof parliament on Saturday to ratify the START-2 nuclear arms reductiontreaty, despite its anger over NATO air strikes on Yugoslavia.

Deputies in the opposition-dominated State Duma have threatened to scrapplans to debate ratification of the 1993 treaty with the United Statesnext week over the NATO bombings.

Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev, speaking to reporters in a break in aDuma session on the Yugoslavia crisis, was quoted by Itar-Tass newsagency as saying MPs should ratify the treaty "despite the developmentof the situation in the Balkans."

"Do you want a nuclear war or something?" he said.

Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, defending the government's Yugoslaviapolicy in the Duma, also backed ratification.

"Ratification of START-2 is in Russia's security interests. I have nodoubt of that," Ivanov said.

The Duma has agreed to start debating START-2 next Friday but itschances of being ratified have been reduced by hostility in the chamberto the United States' role in the Kosovo crisis.

A draft Duma resolution on Yugoslavia, expected to be approved later onSaturday, suggested postponing the debate.

START-2 would reduce U.S. and Russian deployed nuclear warheads by up totwo thirds.

The U.S. Senate has ratified the treaty but the Duma has held back,largely for political reasons.


Foreign Ministry Mixes Harsh Rhetoric With Support For Start-II
RFE/RL Newsline
March 29, 1999
(for personal use only)

In an interview with "Kommersant-Daily" on 27March, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov accused NATO ofcommitting "genocide" against the Yugoslav people andsuggested that the alliance answer for its crimes beforethe UN war crimes tribunal. He added that it is "obviousthat NATO can no longer claim to discharge peace-makingfunctions." The same day, in his address to the Duma,Ivanov argued that the START-II treaty should still beratified, although "now is apparently not the best time."Ivanov also rejected the possibility of closing the Russianembassy in the U.S., adding that Russia will not end itsties with the U.S., although bilateral relations have beenseverely damaged. Also on 27 March, Duma members adopted a16-point resolution condemning NATO by a vote of 366 tofour with two abstentions. Among other things, theresolution recommends that ratification of the START-IItreaty be postponed to protest NATO air strikes.


Duma Condemns NATO Action, Threatens Start II Delay
Agence France Presse
March 29, 1999
(for personal use only)

MOSCOW -- The Duma, Russia's lower house ofparliament, proposed Saturday to delayratification of the US-Russian Start II nucleardisarmament treaty as a protest against NATOair strikes on Yugoslavia.

The lower chamber also voted a resolutionSaturday firmly condemning NATO "aggression"in Yugoslavia.

In a vote carried live on television, the Dumaresolution received 366 votes for, four againstand two abstentions.

The four-page resolution declared that NATOmilitary action was "an act of aggression that is agross violation of the UN charter and ofprinciples and norms of international law."


B. Russian Nuclear Forces
Russia's Nuclear Arms Facilities Undergoing Conversion
Itar-Tass
March 25, 1999
(for personal use only)

Moscow -- correspondent Anna Bazhenova: Conversion is being activelypursued in Russia's nuclear sector. Reductions are progressing from tensof thousands to thousands of nuclear munitions.

Russia's first deputy minister of atomic energy, Lev Ryabev, stated at a press conference today that to date the production of weapons-grade plutonium has ceased and 10 reactors have been shut down. By the year 2000 production of munitions will cease at Arzamas-16 and Penza-19 andit is planned to complete dismantling them. The reactors currentlyoperating (for example, one in Krasnoyarsk-26 and two in Tomsk-7) areworking not just for defense but also for commercial purposes, supplyingthe town with heat. It is planned that in future they will operate onlyfor commercial purposes.

Lev Ryabev noted that various directions were envisaged for the development of conversion in the nuclear sphere. Thus, in Arzamas-16 a public computer center will be set up which will work on programs in various spheres. The project for setting up the computer center is being implemented within the framework of the Russian-American "Closed towns" program which is estimated at 3 million dollars.

In Krasnoyarsk-26 it is planned to develop the production of silicon for which there is world-wide demand. In Chelyabinsk-70 it is proposedto develop an enterprise for wrapping and packaging medicines. LevRyabev stressed that all the projects are aimed, in the first instance,at providing jobs for people who were previously employed in the weapons complex and at preserving the scientific-technical and productionpotential.


Russia To Conduct Subcritical Nuclear Tests This Year
Kyodo
March 28, 1999
(for personal use only)

MOSCOW -- Russia is planning to conduct multiple subcritical nucleartests again this year, Interfax news agency quoted a senior NuclearEnergy Ministry official as saying Sunday.

Deputy Nuclear Energy Minister Viktor Mikhailov said the main purpose ofthe tests is to check the safety and reliability of Russia's nuclearweapons, the agency reported.

The tests will be carried out at a site on the Novaya Zemlya islands inthe Arctic Ocean.

But the report did not give a specific date for the tests or say howmany would be conducted.

Russia maintains such tests do not violate the Comprehensive (nuclear)Test Ban Treaty as they do not involve nuclear explosions.

The country conducted five subcritical nuclear tests between Sept. 14and Dec. 13 of last year. The U.S. has conducted six tests since July1997.

A Russian government publication reported that the ministry is planningfive tests this year.


C. Russia and Kosovo
Yeltsin Scorns NATO Actions
Barry Schweid
AP Diplomatic Writer
March 29, 1999
(for personal use only)

WASHINGTON--Extending a simmering dispute, RussianPresident Boris Yeltsin will tell the Russian parliament Tuesday that NATO's "strong-arm" tactics in Yugoslavia are unacceptable. But he will also reaffirm his commitment to sharp reductions in nuclear weapons arsenals and to "constructive cooperation" with the United States.

In a state-of-the-nation message, the Russian leader again blasts the bombing of Serbs as a violation of international law standards. The use of force in Kosovo and also in Iraq is "dangerous andinadmissible," Yeltsin says, according to portions of his prepared speech.

Yeltsin's speech, excerpts from which were obtained by The Associated Press Sunday night from RIA Novosti, the Russian information agency, reflected both the rift and an otherwise cooperative spirit in the Kremlin.

On the domestic front, Yeltsin renews his commitment to market reform and blames conservatives in the Duma as well as government authorities for placing hurdles in its path.

"The policy launched in the early 1990s and aimed at creating a market economy in the country has been and remains correct," Yeltsin says. "The country has no other road to follow. So the general direction must be maintained."

On that, there is deep agreement with the Clinton administration, which has tried to nurture Russia's transition from communism to capitalism. But on Kosovo, the differences are deep.

Last week, to protest the decision to have NATO warplanes attack the Serbs with missiles and bombs, Yeltsin suspended Russia's ties with NATO and recalled his chief military representative to the alliance. Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov called off talks in Washington with Vice President Al Gore, ordered his jetliner to turn around over the Atlantic and returned to Moscow.

Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright attempted to heal the rift. Albright, in a series of telephone conversations with Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, said the two countries should agree to disagree over Kosovo but not let that deter cooperation in other areas.

"The use of force and, the more so, the violation of the international law standards is dangerous and inadmissible," Yeltsin says of the assault on the Serbs, in its fifth day Sunday.

"Defrosting" of the chill between Russia and NATO "depends on howsoon the alliance will realize the peril of the military option towards Yugoslavia," Yeltsin says.

And yet, he also says, "Moscow attaches a great importance to thenormalization of the Russian-American relations, the return to a constructive cooperation."

He pledges in the prepared message to continue a joint effort with the United States to reduce nuclear weapons arsenals as a priority goal and urges India and Pakistan to sign the nuclear test banaccord and to join an international treaty designed to curb the spread of nuclear technology.

The START II treaty, concluded more than six years ago, remains unratified by the Russian parliament. Yeltsin's statement amounts to an assurance to Washington that despite differences over Kosovo he intends to keep seeking approval of the pact, which sharply reduces long-range nuclear weapons stockpiles on both sides.

"Russia is against dividing lines in Europe, both old and new," Yeltsin says in the address.



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