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Nuclear News - 05/05/99
RANSAC Nuclear News, 5 May, 1999

A. Russian Nuclear Forces
1. Security Council Preventive Nuclear Strike Debate Goes On,Komsomolskaya Pravda (04/30/99)
2. Further on Russian Security Council Nuclear Discussion, Itar-Tass(04/29/99)
3. A Nuclear Umbrella, Sevodnya (04/30/99)

B. US-Russian Relations
1. U.S., Russia in Nuclear Stalemate, Associated Press (05/05/99)

C. Russian Reprocessing
1. Nuclear train leaves Severodvinsk, Bellona (04/30/99)
A. Russian Nuclear Forces
Security Council Preventive Nuclear Strike Debate Goes On
Komsomolskaya Pravda
April 30 1999
[translation for personal use only]

Report by Viktor Baranets: "Russia Takes Time Over Preventive Nuclear Strikes. Security Council Will Consider This Question at Next Session"

At Thursday's [29 April] Russian Federation Security Council sessionquestions concerning the storage and reprocessing of nuclear weapons andthe maintenance of Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces' combat readiness atthe highest level were discussed. The problem of developing thecountry's nuclear weapons complex was also broached.

It is known that events in Yugoslavia have spurred the president, Security Council, and Defense Ministry leadership into thoroughlysetting about solving the many problems which have accumulated in thissphere.

Almost 60 percent of strategic nuclear missiles have already reached the end of their warrantied life, the putting of Topol-M systems onto alert status is proceeding slowly, and almost all Russian nuclear arsenals are already under U.S. technical control (in accordance with Russian-U.S. programs to help Russia ensure nuclear safety). There is still noclarity regarding the Defense Ministry leadership's proposal approvedlast November to set up a Strategic Nuclear Forces High Command. TheGeneral Staff leadership and certain high commands of branches ofservice are seriously questioning this "untimely and ill-consideredinnovation."

The draft of the new Russian Federation military doctrine was also considered at the Security Council session. The question of enshriningin this document a provision regarding a preventive nuclear strike was raised but it has not yet "gotten off the ground."

Discussion of this problem will be continued at the next SecurityCouncil session.
Further on Russian Security Council Nuclear Discussion
April 29, 1999
(for personal use only)

MOSCOW -- Russian President Boris Yeltsin, in his opening remarks at ameeting of the country's Security Council here on Thursday, stated that"the nuclear forces have been and remain the key element in the strategyof ensuring national security and military might of the country".

Yeltsin said the Council meeting is to deal with only one item on the agenda: the state of and prospects for the development of the nuclear weapons sector of Russia.

"For half a century, the nuclear forces have been one of decisivefactors of stability of the situation in the world as a whole. This iswhy, maintaining the combat readiness of nuclear potential at a highlevel is among top priorities in Russia's State interests," Yeltsinsaid.

The Russian President recalled that in July last year the national Security Council had determined a structure and composition of Russia's nuclear deterrent forces and materiel for the period ending in the year 2010. Besides, the basic principles of Russia's nuclear deterrencepolicy were approved at the end of December.

"These major documents determined the strategy and tactics of ouractions in the field of nuclear deterrence from an aggression againstRussia in the long term. Today we are make next step in this respect. Weshall consider the state of and prospects for the development ofRussia's nuclear weapons sector, which constitutes the material basis ofour nuclear policy," Yeltsin said.

The President pointed out an inadmissibility of "any gap between the ensurance of the safety of nuclear weapons and their reprocessing".

"Today we must consider in detail the entire technological cycle of the nuclear weapons sector, including research in the field of nuclear arms, the conduct of tests, the production and storage of such weapons withthe ensurance of their safety and reprocessing," Yeltsin pointed out.

"No gaps are admissible between these two notions either now or in the future. One should not allow a situation when nukes would be reprocessed and the country would have nothing left," Yeltsin said. Herein is the task of "science, the military, politicians, and production workers -- everyone", the President emphasised.

In the field of nuclear arms, no one has the right to err, Yeltsin stressed. "Nuclear weapons are a sphere in which we have no right evento a single error. Anyone would be fully answerable for an error, eventhe President," he said.

Yeltsin underlined that the consequences of an error in the sphere of nuclear arms "may turn out to be fatal to both Russia and the entire world".

In conclusion of his opening remarks prior to the commencement of the national Security Council meeting, Yeltsin underscored that the forum"is of strictly closed-door nature".

Taking part in the meeting, in particular, are Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, Foreign Minister Yevgeny Ivanov, Defence Minister Igor Sergeyev, and Chief of the Presidential Staff Alexander Voloshin.
A Nuclear Umbrella
April 30, 1999
(for personal use only)

Russia's recent "adequate response measures" were prompted by thewar in Yugoslavia, the amendments to NATO's doctrine which allow itto interfere in any conflict, and the U.S. de facto breach of the ABMmissile treaty, the daily wrote.

The secret meeting of Russia's Security Council on Thursday must haveadopted some decisions on the nuclear strategy. According to the daily,one of them was that Russia is forced to begin the realization of alarge-scale program on the modernization of its nuclear weaponry. Thisis exactly what was called a "nuclear arms race" in the Cold War era,the daily noted.

Soon, the official military doctrine of Russia may be revised todenounce the provision which states that Russia will not be the firstone to use nuclear weapons, and Moscow will hold talks with its allieson the granting of guarantees of nuclear safety to them.

This would make the Russian nuclear umbrella international, the dailywrote, and would be a strong move. But the daily concluded that NATOcould do the same by granting nuclear guarantees to the Baltics, forinstance.
B. US-Russian Relations
U.S., Russia in Nuclear Stalemate
Greg Myre
Associated Press Writer
May 5, 1999
(for personal use only)

MOSCOW--After letting the START II arms control treaty languish for sixyears, Russia's skeptical parliament twice appeared on the verge ofratifying the U.S.-Russian agreement in recent months.

But with uncanny timing, the United States and its allies launchedairstrikes just prior to both parliamentary sessions -first hitting Iraqin December and then hammering Yugoslavia in March.

Outraged by the bombings, Russian lawmakers scrapped both sessionsand now appear unlikely to act until after a new parliament is electedDecember, according to Russian legislators and analysts.

"In practical terms, START II is finished for now and for someperiod into the future," said Alexander Pikayev, a military analyst withthe Carnegie Center in Moscow.

"It would be too risky (for Russian politicians) to move forwardnow," he said of the 1993 treaty, which would limit each side to 3,000to 3,500 strategic warheads, half the current levels.

No one is predicting a greater threat of nuclear confrontationbetween Russia and the United States. But arms control has become evenmore complicated in some ways, and U.S.-Russian frictions overYugoslavia and other issues are likely to delay breakthroughs that onceseemed close at hand.

Meanwhile, Russia is growing more, not less, reliant on itsnucleararsenal. The country's conventional forces are in deep decline andNATO's expansion into eastern Europe has left Moscow feeling vulnerable.The relationship is also strained over American accusations that Russiahas been leaking nuclear technology to Iran, a charge Moscow denies. Inaddition, Washington wants to revise the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missiletreaty to build a limited missile defense, a move Russia stronglyopposes.

Russia has further muddied the waters by giving off mixed signals.

President Boris Yeltsin stresses that Russia will not get involvedmilitarily in the Yugoslav conflict, and doesn't want it underminingbroader U.S.-Russian relations.

Yet the president caused a stir April 9 when he and the speaker ofparliament, Gennady Seleznyov, discussed the re-targeting of ballisticmissiles at NATO countries, according to Seleznyov. Yeltsin's officedenied initial reports that the missiles had been re-targeted, butdidn't deny that such a conversation took place.

And Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev said the country'snuclear forces were on the "highest level" of combat readiness becauseof the NATO airstrikes.

"Clearly, the Russians assign a high priority to their nuclearcapability," said Terry Taylor, assistant director of the InternationalInstitute for Strategic Studies in London. "It's the strongest card theyhave at the global security conference table."

Despite the heated rhetoric, the two countries are quietlypressingahead with existing deals, such as START I, which already have broughtsubstantial nuclear cutbacks.

The United States and the Soviet Union each had more than 10,000strategic nuclear warheads at the start of the decade. They're nowapproaching 6,000, as stipulated by START I. With Russia hurting formoney, the United States is spending hundreds of millions of dollarseach year to help Russia meet its START I obligations.

American equipment helps dismantle Russian nuclear bombers, sawapart submarine missile launchers, and bury missile silos. American cashis building a large complex in the Ural Mountains to safely storenuclear materials. U.S. dollars pay for computers to track Russia's vaststores of uranium and plutonium.

Known as the Cooperative Threat Reduction program, it "hascontinued with only minor bumps" since the Kosovo conflict, said U.S.Col. Robert Boudreau, chief of the CTR office in Moscow.

Americans involved in the program believe they still have yearsworth of work ahead of them, and it has been viewed as a success at arelatively modest cost of about $2.5 billion since its inception in1992.

But U.S. Congress must reauthorize the program by June. Bothcountries want the program extended, though they haven't resolveddisputes such as whether Russia can impose taxes and duties on the U.S.assistance.

As this example illustrates, Russia's desperate need for cashsometimes complicates arms control. But Russia's money woes are also avirtual guarantee that the country will get rid of thousands of nuclearweapons in coming years, regardless of whether formal treaties aresigned.

Russia can't afford to maintain its existing nuclear arsenal, andplans to build only small numbers of new ones, mainly the mobileTopol-M.

Yeltsin has used this argument in lobbying lawmakers to ratifySTART II and to open negotiations on START III, which could bring eachside down to about 2,000 deployable warheads. Communists and otherhard-liners in parliament's lower house, the State Duma, remain deeplysuspicious of the United States. But they appeared to be moving towardratification until the two recent U.S.-led bombing raids.

"The Duma was ready to ratify START II," said Valdimir Lukin, aliberal lawmaker who's been pushing for approval as head of parliament'sInternational Affairs Committee. "Honestly, it's to our advantage toratify, but in the current situation it's impossible. There is no trustin the United States."
C. Russian Reprocessing
Nuclear train leaves Severodvinsk
Igor Kudrik and Alexey Klimov
April 30, 1999
(for personal use only)

Trickle of spent nuclear fuel shipments to Mayak begins

A long anticipated trainload of spent nuclear fuel left Severodvinsk, inArkhangelsk, in early April carrying its hazardous cargo over 3,000kilometres of railways to the Mayak reprocessing plant in Siberia.

Mayak customarily accepts the spent nuclear fuel of Russian submarineand icebreaker reactors for reprocessing. Officials say 10 trainloadsper year are necessary to catch up with the growing amount of fuelremoved from decommissioned submarines.

Spent fuel in north-west Russia originates from naval and civilianicebreaker bases in Murmansk and Severodvinsk and up until 1994,financial arrangements between the Northern Fleet, Murmansk Shipping Co.(icebreaker fleet operator) and Mayak were not necessary. Having facedfunding shortfalls, Mayak plant began demanding payment for itsservices.

Today one trainload costs $1-1,5 million. The money is supposed to comefrom the state, but it is always late. In addition, old but availablerolling stock was replaced in 1994 with just four examples of the modernTUK-18 rail casks, drastically reducing the volume of spent fuelshipments. One train equipped with TUK-18's can transport roughly 580fuel assemblies, or 2-2,5 reactor cores. In 1998, only three shipmentstook place: the April trainload is the first of this year. The slowremoval of spent fuel from temporary storage in north-west Russia hassome worried.

"We wrote a letter to (Russian Prime Minister) Yevgeny Primakov, andreceived an answer from a Deputy Nuclear Minister who promised tosupervise the issue," Leonid Kuratov, head of Severodvinsk'sEnvironmental Committee, told Bellona Web. "This train is the firstresult."

Kuratov said Severodvinsk was expecting one more train in May.

'Ideally, we count on three more trains this year,' Kuratov added.

The train reportedly took spent fuel from PM-63, a service ship with astorage for 1,400 fuel assembles, or about six reactor cores. The shipis in very bad shape and in great need of repair: which is not possibleuntil the spent fuel aboard has been removed.

The train reportedly included an experimental railway car in tow, saidto be built at Mayak, raising the number of cars to five.

Norway is currently building four TUK-18 railway cars in Russia, havingallotted $3.1 million for the project. The cars will be ready in thespring or summer of 2000. Many experts question the viability of thespent fuel route to Mayak, advocating instead the construction of astorage facility in the Kola Peninsula.

Meanwhile, Murmansk Shipping Co. remains without short-term plans tosend spent fuel to Mayak, citing the lack of a payment schedule with thegovernment as their reason.

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