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Nuclear News - 05/14/99
RANSAC Nuclear News, 14 May, 1999

A. Russia-Iran
1. Official: Iran Wants to Boost Nuclear Ties with Russia, AssociatedPress (05/08/99)

B. Deep Nuclear Reductions
1. Sharp Cut In Nuclear Missile Force Is Proposed, Post-Gazette(05/14/99)

C. Lab-to-Lab Exchanges
1. U.S. Energy Dept. Opposes Curbing Scientist Visits, Reuters(05/12/99)

D. Russian Testing of Nuclear Weapons
1. Russia to Conduct High Priority Tests of its Nuclear Weapons, RFE/RLNewsline (05/14/99)
A. Russia-Iran
Official: Iran Wants to Boost Nuclear Ties with Russia
Associated Press
May 8, 1999
(for personal use only)

MOSCOW -- Iran has proposed boosting nuclear cooperation withRussia and wants to enlarge a nuclear power plant being built withMoscow's help, Russia's atomic energy minister said Saturday.

Yevgeny Adamov told the Interfax news agency that Iran's vice presidenthad written him to propose adding a second reactor to the power plantcurrently under construction in Bushehr in southern Iran.

Adamov said Russia still hadn't decided whether to accept the contract,but that it was under serious consideration.

Russia has come under heavy criticism from the West for its help inbuilding the nuclear plant at Bushehr. The United States fears Russia'sassistance will help Iran develop a nuclear bomb, which Moscow denies.
B. Deep Nuclear Reductions
Sharp Cut In Nuclear Missile Force Is Proposed
Jack Kelly
Post-Gazette National Affairs Writer
May 14, 1999
(for personal use only)

The fastest way to improve the security of the United States is toreduce dramatically the size of our nuclear arsenal, the first person tocommand all of America's strategic nuclear forces said here last night.

"A world free of nuclear weapons but burdened with the knowledge oftheir possibility is far more tolerable than a world wherein anindeterminate number of actors maintain or seek to acquire these weaponsunder capricious and arbitrary circumstances," retired Air Force GeneralLee Butler told an audience at the University of Pittsburgh.

Butler, the first commander of Strategic Command -- which brought allAir Force and Navy nuclear weapons under one authority -- was thekeynote speaker at a two-day conference sponsored by Pitt and the localchapters of the League of Women Voters, Physicians for SocialResponsibility, and Rotary International.

The conference, "Eliminating Weapons of Mass Destruction: Why NotNuclear Abolition?" concludes today with a luncheon address by retiredAdmiral Stansfield Turner, director of Central Intelligence during theCarter administration.

Only if the United States and Russia take the lead in reducing the sizeand high-alert status of their nuclear forces can other nations bepersuaded to abandon efforts to acquire nuclear weapons, Butler said.

In his address and during an earlier meeting with Post-Gazette editors,Butler heaped scorn on the doctrine of Mutual Assured Destruction, whichguided nuclear policy during the Cold War, and expressed alarm at thenumber of times mistakes nearly led to nuclear war. "Nuclear deterrencewas and remains a slippery intellectual construct that translates verypoorly into the real world of spontaneous crises, inexplicablemotivations, incomplete intelligence and fragile human relationships,"he said. "The fog of fear, confusion and misinformation that envelopedthe principals caught up in the Cuban missile crisis could have at anymoment led to nuclear annihilation."

Just a few years ago, a Russian officer mistakenly reported that asatellite launch had come from a Trident submarine, presumablyinitiating a nuclear attack, Butler said.

"They had to get Yeltsin out of bed at 2:00 in the morning to decidewhether or not to retaliate," he said. "I wouldn't want to get Yeltsinout of bed at 2:00 in the morning to make any kind of decision."

The best way to allay Russian fears and breathe new life into stalledarms reduction talks is for the United States unilaterally to reduce thesize of its nuclear arsenal to a size that the Soviet Union can sustainin its present troubled economic state, which is about 2,000 warheads,Butler said. The first step should be to take most U.S. ballisticmissiles off their current high state of launch readiness, he said.

"Having successfully proposed to President Bush in 1991 to reduce bomberlaunch readiness from several minutes to several days, I am appalledthat eight years later, land- and sea-based missiles remain in whatamount to immediate launch postures," Butler said. "The risk ofaccidental or erroneous launch would evaporate in an operationalenvironment where warheads and missiles are de-mated and, preferably,widely separated in location."

Bush made several bold steps toward nuclear disarmament, Butler said,but little progress has been made during the Clinton administration."The priceless, perishable opportunity that opened at the end of theCold War -- all that is in shambles," he said.
C. Lab-to-Lab Exchanges
U.S. Energy Dept. Opposes Curbing Scientist Visits
Tabassum Zakaria
May 12, 1999
(for personal use only)

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Energy SecretaryBill Richardson, cautioning against an overreaction to the Chinaspying scandal, on Wednesday urged scientists to fightcongressional efforts to clamp down on foreign scientificexchanges.

"I need your help in fighting some very unguided efforts in theCongress to curb the foreign scientist program,'' Richardsonsaid at the National Academy of Sciences.

Congress has criticized security at U.S. nuclear weaponsresearch laboratories after a scientist was fired in March undersuspicion of passing secrets to China.

The scientist, Wen Ho Lee, has not been charged with anycrime. Investigators found that Lee had downloaded classifiedinformation onto an unclassified computer system when heworked at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico,but it was not known if that information was passed on toanyone.

China repeatedly has denied accusations it stole U.S. nuclearsecrets.

In Congress, Senate Intelligence Committee legislation to fundintelligence programs includes a provision that would preventforeign scientists of countries deemed "sensitive'' from visitingU.S. nuclear research laboratories unless the energy secretarycertified it was necessary.

The presidents of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS),the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute ofMedicine planned to have a joint statement in the next few dayson the "critical importance of these international scientificexchanges,'' a spokeswoman at the NAS said.

Calling scientific exchange the "bedrock'' of national security,Richardson said stopping foreign visits would isolate U.S.scientists, dampen innovation and hurt non-proliferation effortswith other countries.

"Scientific genius is not a monopoly held by any one country,''Richardson said.

The Energy Department oversees the nuclear weapons researchlaboratories and is restructuring its security functions so they allfall under a newly created "security czar.''

Closing the laboratories to foreign visitors would also close thedoor to U.S. government scientists going overseas to work onsuch projects as helping in Russia to secure plutonium anduranium from theft by rogue states or terrorists, Richardsonsaid.

U.S. scientists are also securing and stabilizing spent nuclear fuelin North Korea to prevent that country from restarting itsnuclear weapons program, he said.

"If we follow those who propose that we isolate our labs fromthe world, we will weaken our national defense,'' Richardsonadded.

"The Department of Energy and the laboratories makeplausible arguments that the visitors program is not withoutits compensating benefits,'' said Representative Chris Cox wholed an investigation into the transfer of U.S. technology toChina.

"But until we see a more serious attitude toward thefundamental downside risk, a moratorium is a serious option,''the California Republican told Reuters.

The special committee on China that he chaired will have a"suite of bills to introduce after the release of our unclassifiedreport,'' Cox said.

The National Security Council and the Central IntelligenceAgency have asked to review the report again and it wasexpected to be released by the end of the month, Cox said.

Richardson called congressional efforts to clamp down on theforeign scientist program "an overreaction.''

"I think it would hurt our national security if there wererestrictions on sensitive countries like Russia and China. I don'twant those restrictions. We have put on background checks.We have put on other screening procedures. That is sufficient,''he said.
D. Russian Testing of Nuclear Weapons
Russia to Conduct High Priority Tests of its Nuclear Weapons
RFE/RL Newsline
May 14, 1999
(for personal use only)

Non-nuclear "blast experiments" will be conducted at NovayaZemlya this year to upgrade and check nuclear arms,"Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 12 May. After the SecurityCouncil adopted a resolution to upgrade Russia's tacticalnuclear weapons on 28 April, Security Council SecretaryVladimir Putin remarked that "Russia has not tested itsnuclear weapons for a longer period of time than all othercountries and this raises certain problems" (see "RFE/RLNewsline," 28 and 29 April 1999). According to the daily, thedecision to conduct the experiments may be connected withthat resolution. Last year, similar tests were conductedbetween September and December in accordance with theComprehensive Test Ban treaty. "The new tests will beconducted on a completely different qualitative level and asa matter of priority," the newspaper reported, adding that"according to informed sources, far more money will be spent"on them than was spent on previous tests.

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