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Nuclear News - 07/02/99
RANSAC Nuclear News, 2 July, 1999

A. Nuclear Power Industry
1. Russia Hustles to Avoid Year 2000 Nuclear Disasters, Bloomberg(07/02/99)
2. Russian Nuclear Reactors Registered No Accidents in June, Itar-Tass(07/01/99)

B. Russian Nuclear Forces
1. Russian Bombers Fly Within Striking Distance Of U.S., CNN Online(07/02/99)

C. ABM, Missile Defense
1. The ABM Trap, Washington Post (07/02/99)
A. Nuclear Power Industry
Russia Hustles to Avoid Year 2000 Nuclear Disasters
July 02, 1999
(for personal use only)

Moscow, July 2 (Bloomberg) -- Sergey Zykov knows first hand aboutcatastrophes caused by poor planning.

Thirteen years ago, Zykov was at the scene of the world's worst nucleardisaster when a reactor at Ukraine's Chernobyl nuclear plant melteddown, spewing radioactivity across Ukraine, Russia, Belarus andScandinavia. He measured radioactivity levels to determine shift timesfor work crews cleaning up the rubble.

Now his job is to help prevent similar disasters in Russia on Jan. 1,2000 when a computer flaw could shut down the country's nine nuclearplants. Computers that use just two digits to indicate the year couldconfuse the year 2000 with 1900 and shut down.

``We'll never be 100 percent sure there will be no problems,'' Zykovsaid. ``Our organization can't satisfy all needs at this criticaltime.''

The Moscow-based International Science and Technology Center (ISTC),where Zykov is principal deputy executive director, will award $1.5million for 11 projects which aim to boost safety at Russia's nuclearplants in 2000.

Fortunately, Russia's nuclear plants aren't as computerized as Westernplants, Zykov said. Still, a sensor which suddenly measures thetemperature or pressure at the plant at zero could cause the shutdown ofone of Russia's nuclear plants, which provide about 18 percent of thecountry's electricity, creating widespread blackouts.

Programmers Gone

In some cases, the Soviet-era programmers who designed the computersystems which run Russia's nuclear plants have disappeared, emigratingto seek better-paying jobs. Those systems which can't be adapted will bereplaced, Zykov said. The grants are typically given to programs whichfocus on production cycles which can't be interrupted, Zykov said.

Anatoly Chubais, chief executive of RAO Unified Energy Systems, Russia'sbiggest utility, also emphasized that the company's problems won't be asextensive as in most Western utilities. However, he added: ``I willdefinitely spend the night on New Year's Eve at my dispatching center''because of potential blackouts.

UES, which owns most of Russia's non-nuclear power utilities, will spend$15 million to adapt its computer systems by the third quarter. Thecompany is developing a satellite and mobile communications system andsimulating emergencies at power plants to train staff.

Finding solutions can be complicated because Russian nuclear plants lacka parallel testing system that is usually present in Western nuclearstations, Zykov said.

International Effort

ISTC, funded by the governments of Japan, the United States, and theEuropean Union, supports projects that employ former nuclear andmilitary industry workers who are often unemployed due to disarmament.Separately, Russia plans to spend 85 million rubles ($3.7 million) toavert computer breakdowns in its nuclear armed forces on Jan. 1, 2000.Only its warning, rather than launching, systems are prone to the bug,the Defense Ministry said.

The money is meager, however, compared with the communicationscommission's estimate earlier this year that Russia, already short ofrevenue after its default on domestic and some foreign debts, needs asmuch as $3 billion to adapt computer systems in all its industries.

U.S. Pentagon officials, who held talks with the Defense Ministry on theY2K problem in Moscow, have said an accidental launch, however, isn'tprobable, because only the warning systems are affected by the bug.

Russia broke off consultations with U.S. specialists on the year 2000computer bug after the North Atlantic Treaty Organization began bombingYugoslavia in March.
Russian Nuclear Reactors Registered No Accidents in June
July 01, 1999
(for personal use only)

MOSCOW, July 1 (Itar-Tass) -- Russia's nuclear reactors registered noaccidents capable of causing radioactive pollution in June, a spokesmanfor the State nuclear inspection said on Thursday.

Several minor troubles, however, were spotted, the spokesman said. Theautomatic protection system went on twice at the Leningrad powerstation. The first time because of a false alarm signal generated in thecircuits, and the second time because of a short circuit in the electricwires, he said.

Another incident occurred at the Smolensk nuclear power plant on June28, as the fire alarm went off due to a fusion in a sleeve coupling of afan's feeding cable, the spokesman said.

The protection system also went on at research reactors in the UnitedNuclear Research Institute in the town of Dubna in the Moscow region,the Physics and Energy Institute in the town of Obninsk near Moscow, andin the Moscow Institute of Physics and Engineering. The incidents werecaused by troubles in the equipment and oscillations in the outerelectrical system. The limits of safe exploitation were not violated,the spokesman added.
B. Russian Nuclear Forces
Russian Bombers Fly Within Striking Distance Of U.S.
CNN Online
July 02, 1999
(for personal use only)

Moscow flexing post-Cold War military muscles

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Two of Russia's long-range bombers flew aroundIceland last Friday -- coming within striking distance of the UnitedStates for the first time "in five or six years," Defense SecretaryWilliam Cohen said Thursday.

The bombers were participating in the "largest (Russian military)exercises in the last 10 years," said another Pentagon official.

Defense sources downplayed the significance of the unexpected encounter,saying the aging propeller-driven bombers were not a military threat andwere part of a larger military exercise that had been announcedpreviously.

"I'm sure it does have ... they have some multiple purposes, perhapsdomestic purposes, international purposes. They want to be seen asremaining a force that one has to deal with," said Cohen. "We deal withthem."

Although they apparently were not carrying weapons at the time, the two"TU-95 Bear" bombers have the ability to launch nuclear-armed cruisemissiles capable of striking targets in the United States from the areaaround Iceland.

The Russian bombers flew within about 65 miles of the coastline ofIceland but "did not violate Iceland's sovereign airspace," according towell-informed military sources. Iceland is a member of NATO.

U.S. fighter jets scramble after bombers

But the Russian aircraft caused enough concern that a pair of U.S. AirForce F-15 fighter jets scrambled from NATO's Keflavik air base inIceland.

The fighters were sent to escort and observe the bombers on their flightaround Iceland. A U.S. Navy P-3 Orion flying from Iceland also keptwatch on the bombers as they circled the country.

Asked if the incident indicates a shift in Russian policy toward theWest, Cohen said, "One training exercise does not a shift make." Cohensaid the bombers appeared to be testing the United States' ability torespond. He added that the fighters responded quickly.

Cohen said he would travel to Moscow this month. "It's all part ofmaintaining good, stable relations with them." He said he also wouldvisit NATO capitals in Europe, including Athens, Greece.

Second Russian military surprise for NATO

The flight of the long-range Russian bombers took some at the Pentagonby surprise, sources said.

"We didn't think they could do that any more," said one officer close tothe incident. This demonstrates some kind of capability" in the Russianmilitary that many observers thought they had lost."

"Lots of people thought they couldn't do stuff like that anymore," saida well-placed military official. "Maybe we were wrong."

A State Department report earlier this year concluded that the Russianmilitary's combat readiness was in rapid decay and that the averageRussian soldier was only marginally capable of combat. It also said thatin 1993, Russian military pilots flew far less than half their normaltraining hours.

Russia surprised NATO at the end of the air war against Yugoslavia whenthey sent about 200 troops from Bosnia into Kosovo ahead of NATOpeacekeepers and seized the airport at Pristina, despite Moscow'sassurances the troops would not enter Kosovo.

The most recent Russian military move comes as Moscow is attempting torenegotiate a deal in Kosovo to give its peacekeepers more authorityover Serb areas.

Moscow doesn't notify U.S. of military exercise

Russian officials did not inform the United States in advance of thestart of the military exercises, scheduled for June 21-26, and they didnot alert Washington to the somewhat provocative flight of the Russianbombers.

A Pentagon official told CNN that Russia had been planning theexercises, called "Zaped '99" (West '99), for about a year and thatregardless of notification, the United States was aware exercises wereupcoming.

Defense sources said the exercise was intended to emphasize "homelanddefense," according to Russian statements.

Russian press reports claimed the exercises involved up to 50,000troops, all five of Russia's military districts and three Russian navalfleets. U.S. intelligence reports suggest the exercises were actuallyconsiderably smaller, U.S. sources said.

'Return to old Soviet-style war-fighting doctrine'

In the same time frame, two Russian "TU-40 Backfire" bombers flew alongthe coastline of Norway, prompting Norway fighter jets to pursue thelong-range, nuclear-capable bombers. The Russian bombers, however,turned back toward Russian airspace before the Norwegian jets arrived onthe scene, militaryofficials said.

The appearance of the bombers near Iceland may have been intended tosend a message to the United States, according to a Pentagon officialwho said the act seemed "calculated." He said it may be a way for theRussian military leadership to say, "We're still around."

The official added the exercises and the unannounced flight of thebombers "looked like a return to old Soviet-style war- fightingdoctrine."
C. ABM, Missile Defense
The ABM Trap
Charles Krauthammer
Washington Post
July 2, 1999
(for personal use only)

"Nothing ever gets settled in this town," George Shultz once said ofWashington. "It's a seething debating society in which the debate neverstops, in which people never give up, including me."

Well, we may be seeing an exception to Shultz's Law. After 15 years, theDemocrats have apparently given up their opposition to a "star wars"missile defense for the United States. A law committing the UnitedStates to building such a defense passed Congress by overwhelmingmajorities. And President Clinton, who had vetoed such legislation inthe past, will sign it.

This was no Democratic conversion to toughness. This was Democraticacquiescence to blinding reality. The reality is that:

(1) Rogue states such as North Korea and Iran are building nuclearmissiles soon to be aimed at the United States, and

(2) The United States is utterly defenseless to shoot them down.

For the better part of this decade, the Clinton administration hasdenied both ends of this reality. First, it claimed that the threat wasdistant. Less than a year ago, Joint Chiefs Chairman Hugh Sheltontestified that we would have ample warning if any country indigenouslydeveloped long-range missiles.

Unfortunate timing. Not a week had passed before North Korea shocked theworld by launching -- over Japan -- a missile with long-rangecapability. And the Pentagon now warns that North Korea is on the vergeof testing an even newer missile of even more frightening range.

The administration now recognizes that its own CIA estimates of thethreat were hopelessly wrong and that the congressionally mandatedRumsfeld Commission was right when it warned last July of the imminentcapacity of rogue states to develop the means to attack the UnitedStates.

The other feat of reality-denial involved American defenselessness.Democrats liked to argue, alternatively, that American defenselessnessis (a) paradoxically a good thing or (b) divinely -- technologically--ordained.

Defenselessness was good because it made for "strategic stability" withthe Soviet Union. Perhaps. But the Cold War is over, and there is noevidence that Kim Jong Il or Saddam Hussein or the next ayatollah willbe deterrable by "mutual assured destruction" the way Leonid Brezhnevwas.

Alternatively, defenselessness was inevitable. Why? Because missiledefense could not work. As late as March 18, in House debate, Rep. TammyBaldwin (D-Wis.) echoed conventional Democratic Luddism byasserting that antiballistic "hit-to-kill technology is nowhere nearfeasible."

More unfortunate timing. Less than three months later, on June 10, anArmy THAAD missile intercepted a ballistic missile launched from 120miles away. This was precisely what Baldwin claimed was unfeasible:destruction by collision, a bullet hitting a bullet.

Reality bites, even for Democrats. Thus John Holum, Clinton's nomineefor the State Department arms control post, testified Monday that thatDemocratic totem, the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, whichprevents us from building a missile defense, would no longer be allowedto stand in the way: "The decision on [ABM] architecture will be madebased on the threat, based on security considerations. . . . We're notsaying . . . tailor the defense to fit the treaty." Which they had beensaying for more than a decade.

Finally, rationality. Or is it?

Is Clinton really serious? Former Pentagon expert Frank Gaffney, an ABMhero who has campaigned on its behalf for 15 years (we should name thefirst system after him), warns that a recent Clinton-Yeltsin agreementto renegotiate the ABM treaty has the makings of a trap.

The ABM treaty, amended or not, can only hinder the building of anAmerican defense. For example, because of the administration'sinterpretation of the treaty, THAAD could only test against a missilegoingno more than five kilometers per second. But North Korea's new missilegoes seven to eight kilometers per second. This THAAD won't catch up toit.

Even worse, the ABM treaty prevents the Navy's Aegis ships (which couldcarry mobile ABMs) from using satellite information to track incominglong-range missiles. This deliberately and unnecessarily degrades theAegis system, our best hope for a cheap, fast, near-term nationaldefense.

The answer? Withdraw from the ABM treaty. No more negotiations, no more"clarifications," no more compromises with the Russians over an obsoletetreaty designed to hinder and dumb down ABM defenses.

Is Holum's testimony the real deal? Or will Clinton resume, subtly, hisABM obstructionism -- and vindicate Shultz's Law -- by letting ABMtreaty negotiations hamper an American defense?

If Clinton does indeed backtrack, Republicans should strike, hard. Bringthis question to the coming election: Why are the Democrats allowing aclearly antagonistic Russia, which just last week buzzed Iceland, to usea defunct treaty to prevent us from defending your children (a niceClintonesque touch) from nuclear attack from the likes of North Koreaand Iran?

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