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Nuclear News - 05/26/99
RANSAC Nuclear News, 26 May, 1999

A. Export Controls
1. US, Russia to Hold Talks on Technology Nonproliferation, Itar-Tass(05/26/99)

B. Loose Nukes
1. United States Should Continue To Help Control Spread of RussianNuclear Materials, PRESS RELEASE from National Research Council(05/18/99)

C. Deep Cuts/De-Alerting
1. Invitation to Nuclear Disaster, Washington Post (05/25/99)
A. Export Controls
US, Russia to Hold Talks on Technology Nonproliferation
May 26, 1999
(for personal use only)

WASHINGTON -- U.S. and Russian experts will meet in Moscow in the next few days for the next series of consultations on missile technologynonproliferation.

Jack Caravelli, from the National Security Council's department fornonproliferation and export control, on Tuesday flew to Moscow to takepart in the consultations. He is to meet with Russian Space Agencyspecialists.

A U.S. administration spokesman told Itar-Tass that the discussionswould focus on contacts between Russian enterprises and Iran in themissile technology field, which cause serious concern in Washington.

The Russian government is taking measures to prevent such cooperationfrom bypassing national laws. However, tougher and more consistent stepsare needed, said the official, who asked not to be identified.

He noted with satisfaction that despite the complications inU.S.-Russian relations, caused by the Yugoslavia conflict, the twocountries continue important talks on nonproliferation.

Washington advocates strict control over missile technologies as acondition for increasing the quota of commercial launchings ofcommunication satellites with Russian Proton boosters.

The joint enterprise International Launch Services (ILS), set up by theU.S. company Lockheed-Martin and its Russian partners --the Khrunichevstate space center and the Energia scientific and production company,promotes Proton boosters on the world market.

The joint company plans to use the current quota for 16 launchingsbefore the end of this year. And now, there is a need to conclude a newagreement or enlarge the quota in accordance with the previousarrangement.

Two weeks ago the U.S. Aerospace Industrial Association addressed aletter to Vice President Albert Gore, asking for an increase of theRussian quota to 25 launchings by the end of next year.

ILS spokeswoman Julia Andrews told Itar-Tass the joint company alreadyhad orders from telecommunication companies to orbit communicationsatellites in the next two years. According to experts forecasts, themarket will grow in the next decade by three times to 160 launchings ayear and the world's total volume of such orders will exceed 50 billiondollars.

Lockheed-Martin, as well as its Russian partners, is very interested inincreasing very soon the quota for launching Protons, which have provedtheir reliability and are in great demand.

The spokeswoman said ILS continued working with the U.S. government andthe problem would be surely settled.

The U.S. administration official also expressed the hope for this. Hedid not rule out that the issue would be settled gradually, depending onwhether there will be progress in insuring control over Russian missiletechnologies.
B. Loose Nukes
United States Should Continue To Help Control Spread of RussianNuclearMaterials
PRESS RELEASE From National Research Council
May 18, 1999
(for personal use only)

WASHINGTON -- In response to heightened concern that plutonium anduranium could be stolen or diverted from facilities in Russia to createnuclear weapons, the U.S. government should continue supporting acooperative program dedicated to improving the security of Russiannuclear materials for at least a decade, says a new report by acommittee of the National Research Council. Russian nuclear materialsthat could be used in weapons are more extensively dispersed andinadequacies in security systems are more widespread than previouslyestimated.

Since a 1997 Research Council review of the joint program between theUnited States and Russia, the U.S. government has identified morefacilities in Russia where nuclear materials are stored, and hasdetermined that more extensive security upgrades are needed. Moreover,some Russian institutions do not have the funds to pay salaries or toensure that security systems are installed and operated as intended. Therecent decline in the Russian economy has resulted in financial hardshipfor many Russian government officials, nuclear specialists, and workerswho have access to such material, the committee said, providing addedincentive for materials to be stolen and sold illegally.

"Although joint efforts by Russia and the United States havestrengthened security at many sites, we believe that terrorist groups orrogue nations have more opportunity to gain access to Russian plutoniumand highly enriched uranium than previously estimated," said committeechair Richard Meserve, a partner of the law firm of Covington andBurling, Washington, D.C. "Given the current situation in Russia,reducing the risk of illicit transfer of nuclear materials will requireyears of steady work. Controlling the spread of these materials shouldbe a high priority for U.S. national security."

The committee called on the U.S. government to continue funding thejoint program for at least a decade. The government allocated $145million to the program for the year 2000. That amount of funding shouldbe maintained annually for at least the next five years, the committeesaid, and support for the program should continue at adequate levelsthereafter. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), which oversees theprogram, originally planned to have initial security upgrades completedby 2002. Substantial progress has been made in upgrading protectionsystems at several dozen buildings, consolidating hundreds of kilogramsof material in fewer sites, and beginning a program to protect materialfor nuclear submarines. But work to strengthen security will need tocontinue for a much longer period of time. Adequate security systemshave yet to be designed or installed at hundreds of buildings.

In addition, DOE should devote more resources to installing andoperating accounting systems to track materials at Russian sites, thecommittee said. The program has not given adequate attention to thesesystems and has not completed inventories of existing material. Withouta complete and accurate inventory of the nuclear material, there is noway to know for certain whether it has been lost or stolen. More fundingshould be devoted to maintaining and operating both physical protectionand material accounting systems once they are installed.

Containing Material

About 1,350 metric tons of plutonium and highly enriched uranium -- thebuilding blocks of nuclear weapons -- are estimated to be located inmany types of facilities and institutions in Russia. Roughly half ofthis material is incorporated in weapons; the other half is in variousforms, such as metals, oxides, solutions, and scrap. A suitcase-full ofplutonium or highly enriched uranium could provide enough material tomake a nuclear bomb. The committee examined only the management ofmaterials not contained in weapons.

Building upon the 1997 Research Council report, the committee identifiedseveral priorities that the program should address, including thefollowing:

- Consolidating material into a fewer number of buildings. Storingmaterials at a few buildings on one site rather than many would improvesecurity and reduce costs. In addition, more secure vehicles should beacquired for transporting material.

- Increasing Russia's capacity to manage and support nuclear security.U.S. funding should increasingly go to Russian -- rather than American --organizations, and Russian enterprises should be encouraged toprovide high-quality equipment and services. Moreover, a larger pool ofRussian specialists should be trained to run security systems.

- Protecting large quantities of spent fuel once used for maritimepurposes, research, and in breeder reactors. The extent of potentialthreats posed by such material from naval fuels and nuclear reactorsneeds more detailed investigation.

- Negotiating to remove political, legal, and administrative barriers thatimpede progress in the program. Security upgrades have been delayedbecause of difficulties in gaining access to sensitive facilities, poorunderstanding of tax and customs issues, and confusion about equipmentcertification requirements.

- Improving the management of U.S. personnel and financial resources. Aclearer division of labor needs to be established between DOE headquartersand individual laboratories, which should design andimplement the projects at the Russian sites. In addition, DOE shouldestablish a Moscow office to address problems and coordinate activitieswith other DOE programs in Russia.
C. Deep Cuts/De-Alerting
Invitation to Nuclear Disaster
Michael Krepon
Washington Post
May 25, 1999
(for personal use only)

Unless concerted action is taken soon to reduce nuclear dangers,conditions will be coming into place for a dreadful accident, incidentor even a nuclear detonation of Russian origin. The problems posed byChinese nuclear espionage pale in comparison with the dangers inherentin Russia's domestic plight, its aging arsenal, stressed-out command andcontrol and lax export controls. Moreover, the current U.S. nuclearposture exacerbates current dangers by requiring the deployment of 6,000nuclear weapons, approximately half of which are on hair-trigger alert.

Russia, whose GNP is now the size of Belgium's (and falling), cannotmatch U.S. nuclear force levels. Over the next decade, deployed Russiannuclear weapons on strategic forces may well dip below 1,000 -- sixtimes below the number allowed by the START II treaty, which has beenheld hostage by the Russian Duma since January 1993.

At present the Kremlin retains as many of its nuclear forces onhair-trigger alert as possible. This is done to compensate forweaknesses in Russia's conventional forces, for gaping holes in the oldSoviet early warning network and for the vast launch readiness of U.S.nuclear forces. Independent estimates suggest that Russia maintains inexcess of 3,000 nuclear warheads in very high states of launchreadiness.

This is a recipe for disaster. The CIA's unclassified assessment of the"fail-safeness" of Russian command and control is not reassuring.Although the CIA says nuclear safety is not a concern as long as currentsecurity procedures and systems are in place, stresses in the Russiancommand and control system are growing, and are aggravated by the highlaunch readiness of U.S. nuclear forces.

In January 1995 Russian forces mistook a scientific rocket launched fromNorway for a U.S. attack, thus activating President Boris Yeltsin'snuclear "suitcase." In September 1998 a deranged Russian sailor killedseven of his shipmates and barricaded himself inside the torpedo bay ofhis nuclear attack submarine. Security forces recaptured the boat, whichmay or may not have had nuclear weapons on board. In September 1998, aguard at a facility holding 30 tons of plutonium shot other guards andthen escaped, heavily armed. The list of incidents of this kind inRussia that we know about is chilling.

How does the U.S. maintenance of 6,000 deployed nuclear weapons, halfon hair-trigger alert, help this country deal with such dangers? WithRussian forces projected to decline dramatically over the next decade,what useful purpose is served by maintaining bloated nuclear arsenals atsuch high states of launch readiness?

While U.S. nuclear forces have been downsized with the end of the ColdWar, U.S. nuclear doctrine and targeting requirements have changedrelatively little. We still maintain massive attack options, with thepotential for many hundreds of nuclear detonations. We still placeRussia's crumbling industrial capacity "at risk," even though thesefactories have become liabilities rather than assets for the Kremlin. Westill maintain forces at very high launch readiness, even though thereis no longer a doctrinal requirement to launch quickly in the event of aRussian nuclear attack.

Capitol Hill has barely addressed the dangers inherent in interlockingU.S. and Russian nuclear postures. Extensive targeting lists and highRussian alert rates reinforce high U.S. alert rates. This vicious circlewill be extremely dangerous as strains on Russian command and controlcontinue to grow. As long as the U.S. strategic posture involves keepingour nuclear guns out of their holsters with the triggers cocked, thereis no chance whatever of persuading Russia to take its dangerous andaging nuclear missiles off hair-trigger alert.

These nuclear dangers are badly compounded by congressional insistencethat the United States maintain a force level of 6,000 deployed warheads--the maximum allowed under START I -- until the 1993 START II accordfinally enters into force. In this way, national decisions on the propersize of U.S. strategic forces are determined by the most retrogradedelegates of the Russian Duma, who have blocked ratification of START II.

What could the United States conceivably do with 6,000 deployed nuclearwarheads in the post-Cold War era? Why is it in the national securityinterest of the United States to wait for action by Russia'sunpredictable and erratic legislature before taking new initiatives toreduce nuclear dangers? Doesn't it make more sense to accelerate theprocess of deep reductions now?

Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.) has a better idea than waiting for the Duma.He would strike the legislative requirement to remain at 6,000 deployedweapons and proceed instead with parallel, reciprocal, verifiablereductions.

Without accelerated reductions and new initiatives, such as a stand-downof alert nuclear forces, we invite tragedies on a massive scale.

The writer is president of the Henry L. Stimson Center.

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