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Nuclear News - 07/30/99
RANSAC Nuclear News, 30 July,1999


A. Brain Drain
  1. Scientists, Russia's Hundred Billion Dollar Present to theWorld, Nezavisimaya Gazeta (07/28/99)

B. Russian Military

  1. Nearly 100,000 Russian Officers Without Apartments, Reuters (07/29/99)

C. START

  1. Moscow Interested in Start III Consultations, Xinhua(07/28/99)
  2. Russia, US To Hold Arms Talks In Moscow On August 17-19, Agence France Presse (07/30/99)

D. Nuclear Waste

  1. Liquid Waste Issue In The Russian Navy Remains Unresolved, Bellona (07/28/99)


A. Brain Drain
Scientists, Russia's Hundred Billion Dollar Present to the World
The Best Brains Of Russia Are Seeking Abroad What They Used To HaveIn The USSR - Summary

Nezavisimaya Gazeta
July 28, 1999
(for personal use only)

The daily commented on the problem of brain-drain from Russia. The statistics ofresearchers' resigning from the Siberian division of the Russian Academy ofSciences alone is striking. In 1998, 668 researchers (63 with a "doktorskaya"degree and 321 with a "candidatskaya" degree) left their profession, equalingfigures from the previous three years combined.

While only five to ten percent of scientists have found work in their fieldabroad, the remainder have been forced by economic hardship and low quality oflife to seek employment in business, banking or other trades. Further, theprestige of the academic profession has decreased significantly. In Soviettimes, funding Novosibirsk's Akadyem Gorodok was more than suff- ficient. Thegovernment threw money at the scientists in Siberia.

77 percent of Novosibirsk high school students who specialize in physics andmath ( the majority of whom previously would attend Novosibirsk University),would like to go abroad after they graduate, and only four percent of talentedstudents are opposed to emigration.

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B. Russian Military
Nearly 100,000 Russian Officers Without Apartments

Adam Tanner
Reuters
July 29, 1999
(for personal use only)

MOSCOW, July 29 (Reuters) - Nearly 100,000 Russian officers do not have theirown apartments, the deputy defence minister said on Thursday, a problem that hasbadly damaged morale in recent years.

``We have 97,000 officers without apartments,'' said Alexander Kosovan, a deputyminister who oversees military construction and logistics.

``They live in service housing, in family dormitories, some in privateapartments,'' he told a news conference. ``No one is living on the street.''

Many of these facilities are ageing and cramped, with some piling up in barracksor even old warships to live.

``Conditions here are not exactly great,'' one officer reached at a dormitoryfacility on the outskirts of Moscow said on Thursday. ``There is only one toiletper floor, and 40 people live on each floor.''

He said he had lived in the same dorm room with his wife for the past threeyears but still had no immediate prospect of getting anything more comfortable.

One colonel with many years of experience in the military space forces living insame dormitory uses his car as a taxi in off-duty hours to make ends meet.

Housing problems are a central issue that has led to growing discontent amongthe Russian armed forces. An April poll of 1,000 officers in the officialmilitary newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda found only 52 percent wanted to remain in theservice.

The study found that officers waited an average of six to seven years beforegetting their own apartment, but cited the example of one man who lived inmilitary garrisons for 23 years before getting a place of his own.

In 1998 Russian President Boris Yeltsin initiated a programme of subsidisedhousing for officers, but only a small percentage of those in need get thebenefit in any given year, Kosovan said.

``Last year 10,000 (subsidy) certificates were distributed in May and June,''Kosovan said. ``This year as of today we have given out 8,000 certificates.''

Most officers instead qualify for housing built by the military.

``Last year the construction division built 16,000 apartments and this year25,000 apartments are planned as financing has grown 50 percent compared withlast year,'' Kosovan said.

``If we succeed in this goal, then the severity of the problem, any growth inthe number, won't happen and gradually there will be a fall.''

Ironically, the military does have a stock of unused housing in remote areasabandoned as the government has reduced the size of the military since thecollapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

``In the process of reforming the military in Russia more than 1,500 militarytowns have been abandoned,'' Kosovan said. ``Only 10 percents have been or areplanned to be sold.''

``The others are located on the shores of the north Arctic, inside the taiga, inthe Far East, places that no one would take even for free.''

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C. START
Moscow Interested in Start III Consultations

Xinhua
July 28, 1999
(for personal use only)

MOSCOW (July 28) XINHUA - A high-ranking Russian Defense Ministry official saidWednesday that his ministry is ready to begin consultations on the START IIIstrategic arms reduction treaty "if an appropriate political decision is taken."

The unidentified official was commenting on reports that during Prime MinisterSergei Stepashin's visit to the United States both sides agreed to begin talkson the issue as early as August, the Interfax news agency reported.

"Russia is undoubtedly interested in signing the START III treaty under whichthe number of nuclear warheads held by the two sides is to be reduced to 2,000 -2,500," the official said.

"We are interested in this document because at a minimum it will considerablycut down the U.S. nuclear potential," he said.

He acknowledged that Russia, given its economic circumstances, has problems inmaintaining a large nuclear arsenal.

The official said the START II treaty, which calls for the reduction of the twosides' nuclear warheads to 3,000-3,500 each, should be ratified as soon aspossible.

The State Duma, Russian's lower house of parliament, has so far refused toendorse the treaty in the aftermath of Washington's military actions againstIraq and Yugoslavia and other sores in bilateral relations.

"For all its flaws, START II will benefit Russia, while START III will finallyequalize Russian and American strategic offensive weapons arsenals," theofficial said.

Regarding reports on the possible creation of a U.S.-Russian joint "global"missile defense system, he said that it is extremely difficult to create such asystem.

"Of course, one might combine the scientific potentials of all states. But it ispractically impossible to integrate missile defense systems into one network,given all the political and technical nuances," he said.

In a related development, Roman Popkovich, who heads the State Duma's DefenseCommittee, said Wednesday that the lower house of parliament might ratify STARTII as early as October.

"But deputies will do so only under certain conditions. The foreign-policycontext must be favorable for taking such a decision," Interfax quoted Popkovichas saying.

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Russia, US To Hold Arms Talks In Moscow On August 17-19

Agence France Presse
July 30, 1999
(for personal use only)

MOSCOW, Jul 30, 1999 -- (Agence France Presse) Russian and US experts will holda new round of arms reduction talks in Moscow on August 17-19, ITAR-TASS citedforeign ministry spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin as saying.

The meeting will center on the START III nuclear reduction treaty and the 1972ABM agreement that the United States wants redrafted, allowing work to begin onan anti-ballistic missile system.

The talks were agreed during a visit by Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin toWashington last weekend.

Under the 1993 START II agreement -- still not ratified by Russia's parliament-- the United States and Russia would reduce their arsenals of long-rangenuclear warheads so between 3,000 to 3,500.

Under START III, arsenals would be cut to 2,000 to 2,500 warheads each.

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D. Nuclear Waste
Liquid Waste Issue In The Russian Navy Remains Unresolved

Igor Kudrik
Bellona
July 28, 1999
(for personal use only)

Commissioning of liquid waste processing facility postponed in Russian Far East.Situation mirrors Russian Northwest.

The final testing of the barge for processing of liquid radioactive waste in theRussian Far East has been postponed until August this year. Initially, the bargewas to be put into operation in 1996. The team of six executives from AmericancompanyBabcock &Wilcox was laid off.

In autumn 1993, the Russian Pacific Fleet dumped around 800 tons of liquidradioactive waste in the Sea of Japan. This action caused a stir on theinternational level and Japan pledged financial aid to Russia to process liquidwaste.

In 1994, Russia and Japan reached an agreement on this question and launched atender for companies to bid for the right to deliver a floating facility for theprocessing of liquid waste. The barge itself was designed in Russia, while theprocessing facility was delivered by the U.S. company Babcock & Wilcox. Theprice tag for the barge was around $21 million.

The non-propelled barge with a displacement of 5,000 tons was build at Amurskyshipyard in the Russian Far East. The processing facility had a capacity of7,000 cubic meters per year. The service time of the facility is 20 years.

The sediments generated after processing are mixed with concrete and can besafely stored in containers. In October 1996, the barge was licensed by theRussian Environmental Ministry. The barge then proceeded to Vostok shipyardlocated on the western side of the Shkotovo Peninsula, some 40 km east of thecity of Vladivostok, to undergo testing. The final destination was Zvezdashipyard, but the local population caused an uproar saying that the barge isdangerous for the environment.

Subsequently, the local labour unions demanded privileges for the residents ofBolshoy Kamen, a settelment near Zvezda yard, because people there would have tolive near a "dangerous object." Nobody, however, was particular concerned withthe presence of laid-up nuclear submarines moored at Zvezda.

On August 17, 1997, an overwhelming majority of Bolshoy Kamen's population (some90 %) voted against the facility at the Zvezda yard. The local Duma, however,later overruled the "people's will."

The barge was finally towed to the Zvezda yard and stationed there. The Russianside says that during testing of the facility, various failures were discoveredwhich were to be removed by the Americans from B&W working on site. But thechief of the nuclear safety department at Zvezda yard, Aleksandr Kiselev, toldthe local press that the Americans were not willing to fix the problems pointedout by the Russian regulatory authorities. Finally, this year six seniorAmerican executives who worked with the project were laid off.

On July 14 this year, the barge was scheduled to process its first few cubicmeters of radioactive waste as part of its testing, but the operation waspostponed until August so far. The Russian side explains the delay by theinability of the American group to meet all the recommendations put forward byRussians.

Situation mirrors Russian north-westA liquid waste processing facility on the other border of Russia, in Murmansk,is also a subject of delays. Some five years ago a trilateral cooperation waslaunched between the U.S., Norway and Russia to increase the capacity of anexisting liquid radioactive waste (LRW) processing facility located at Atomflot- the Murmansk Shipping Company (MSC)-operated base for nuclear-poweredicebreakers in Murmansk.

The facility was scheduled to be commissioned by the end of 1997. The completionwas postponed, as the price tag for the project increased by $750,000, andproblems related to the tax exemption for funds transferred to Russia remainedunsolved. The new commissioning date was set for April 1, 1998, but thenpostponed again.

This week, a delegation from the United States arrived in Murmansk to watch theprogress at the construction site, but that progress is slow. Officials atMurmansk Shipping Company say the commissioning is unlikely to happen this year.No specific reasons were provided.

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