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Nuclear News - 08/27/99
RANSAC Nuclear News, 27 August 1999

A. Nuclear Waste

  1. Atomic Ministry Wants To Turn Russia Into A Nuclear WasteStorage Pit, Izvestia (08/27/99)
  2. Minatom Loses First Round, Bellona (08/26/99)
B. U.S. – Russia General
  1. Nuclear option: Aid for Russia? Baltimore Sun(08/27/99)
C.   Russian Military
  1. Russia May Sell Four Bombers To India, Agence France Presse(08/27/99)
D. Minatom General
  1. Head of Atomic Energy Agency of France Visits Moscow, ItarTass (08/25/99)
E. ABM, Missile Defense
  1. Minister: Moscow Must Respond To US Anti-Missile Systems,Agence France Presse (08/27/99)

A. Nuclear Waste 
Atomic Ministry Wants To Turn Russia Into A Nuclear Waste StoragePit
        Aug 27, 1999
        (for personal use only)

At a meeting of the government, the idea proposed by the Atomic Ministryto amend the Law On Environment Protection became the main issue of dispute.The essence of amending it is as follows: Russia should be permitted toreceive foreign nuclear waste for storage, although Russian Atomic MinisterYevgeny Adamov does not mention nuclear fuel among waste. The departmenthas called for the expansion of the list of services. According to calculationsof experts from the ministry, by 2050 there will have accumulated so muchuranium and plutonium liable to recycling that both of them will requirefor 30 years of work on the entire energy system. Taking into account thefact that both of the substances may exhaust in a hundred years, Russiahas a real chance to become a monopolist of secondary nuclear fuel fornuclear power plants for several scores of years. It will respectivelyearn profit in the range of billions of dollars. Moreover, the money maybe received even immediately, for which Russia needs to receive legal permissionto accept nuclear waste for storage.

The ministry was guided by two considerations. Firstly, the financialprofit from founding a nuclear waste storage pit. The other variant isof strategic profit: having endured for 30-50 years and storing uraniumand plutonium waste, by the middle of the next century Russia could alreadybecome a monopolist holder of nuclear fuel. But what will be the cost?As First Deputy Atomic Minister Ivanov said, We will recycle and handlethe waste as the technology and geography of Russia allows for us to do.

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Minatom Loses First Round
        Igor Kudrik
        August 26, 1999
        (for personal use only)

Russian Nuclear Ministry fails to persuade government to allow spentnuclear fuel imports. More attempts to follow.

The Russian Ministry for Atomic Energy (Minatom) failed to persuadethe Russian Cabinet to amend the Law on Environmental Protection to allowspent fuel imports. Russia's Nuclear Energy Minister, Yevgeniy Adamov,said at a briefing after the government's meeting today that he would discussthe decision with all the cabinet members to convince them to vote forthe amendment.

Deputy Nuclear Minister Valentin Ivanov reported to the Russian Cabinetthis morning on the financial benefits of allowing imports of spent nuclearfuel to Russia for storage and reprocessing, the Russian news agency RBCreported. Ivanov said revenue estimates from the international reprocessingmarket vary from US $50 billion to 70 billion. Russia's share could be$20-21 billion over 10 years once the Law on Environmental Protection isamended. According to Ivanov, the required initial investment to improvethe infrastructure is estimated at $2.6 billion, while other costs wouldamount to $10.5 billion.

Ivanov also said that there would be 200,000 tonnes of spent nuclearfuel world wide by 2000. This number would increase to up to 550,000 tonnesby the year 2025. Russia will possess 15,000 tonnes of spent nuclear fuelof her own by 2000. The number will more than double (35,000 tonnes) bythe year 2025. Finally, Ivanov added that Russia could reprocess 400 tonnesannually at the Mayak plant in Siberia. Given completion of the RT-2 plantin Krasnoyarsk County, Russia's capacity would be boosted to almost 1,500tonnes a year. The full capacity at RT-2 is estimated at 3,000 tonnes peryear.

The outcome of the Cabinet's debate was disappointing for Yevgeniy Adamov.Minatom apparently did not convince the parliamentarians. Now, Adamov hasto discuss this subject with every member of the government face to face,explaining the pros and cons. Adamov would not specify how long time thiswould take.

A press-spokesman for Minatom, Vladislav Petrov, would not elaborateon the reasons for the decision when reached by Bellona Web today. He saidhis boss, Adamov, did not want to speculate on that.

NPT's traces
The idea to import spent fuel for reprocessing was revived by Minatomwhen the U.S. based Non-Proliferation Trust (NPT) suggested storage of10,000 tonnes of nuclear fuel in Russia. The proceeds of the deal wouldpay for design and construction of the central Russian radwaste and spentfuel repository, for remediation of radioactively contaminated areas inRussia and for social projects. But despite objections from NPT, Minatomdecided to enlarge the idea and propose unlimited fuel imports to Russiawith the purpose of reprocessing.

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B. U.S. Russia General
Nuclear option: Aid for Russia?
        Greg Schneider
        Baltimore Sun
        August 27, 1999
        (for personal use only)

Congressional office weighs U.S. help with 6 warning satellites; Degradedsystem dire risk

Russia apparently cannot afford to launch several new satellites formonitoring U.S. nuclear missile strikes, so the Congressional Budget Officehas explored a truly strange gesture of post-Cold War goodwill:

Have the United States pay to put six of the satellites in orbit --"enough to give Russia 24-hour coverage of U.S. missile fields," accordingto a CBO letter obtained by The Sun.

The Aug. 24 letter to Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, a South DakotaDemocrat, weighs the pros and cons of such an action, which would seemto be an odd twist on generations of East-West mistrust.

But one expert said there is good reason to take the option seriously.

"Their early warning network is in pretty bad shape," said John Pikeof the Federation of American Scientists. "My view is, we've got to dosomething here because it's an accident waiting to happen."

The United States and Russia have fleets of satellites that watch eachother's nuclear arsenals for signs of attack. The United States has continuedto update its network, and is spending billions to perfect a "star wars"system that could both warn of attack and knock enemy missiles out of thesky.

Russia's system, though, is so "seriously degraded [that it] poses risksto both countries," the Congressional Budget Office said. In 1995, thelaunch of a research rocket off the coast of Norway caused Russia's earlywarning system to go on alert for nuclear attack.

Such a situation could trigger a Russian nuclear launch before the falsealarm was detected.

The two nations have explored waysof addressing the problem at leastsince last year, when another CBO study suggested giving Russia accessto the U.S. early warning satellite system. Faced with considerable politicalpressure not to release such sensitive information to the Russians, Daschleasked the budget office to consider "nontraditional" alternatives.

Since then, according to the letter, the CBO has learned that Russiahas built seven new early warning satellites, but "is unable or unwillingto devote the resources necessary to launch them."

The United States could buy Russian rockets -- which are less expensivethan American rockets -- and launch six of the satellites for about $200million, the CBO said.

The letter lists several arguments against the option, including thefact that if Russia were sufficiently worried about false alarms, it couldcough up the money itself. In addition, the six satellites would not allowRussia to monitor launches around the globe, only in the United States.

And the option would not provide money for helping Russian institutesthat design and build early warning satellites, meaning that the country'sengineers could be driven from the field by lack of money.

But it could be argued that any investment in Russia's early warningsystem would be wise because "one of the greatest strategic threats theUnited States faces is inadvertent nuclear war caused by a failure in Russia'scommand-and-control system," the letter notes. Because the satellites areRussian-built, Moscow would trust their data, and cooperation on the projectcould lead to better relations on other early warning issues and arms controlin general.

The CBO letter was written at Daschle's request on behalf of the budgetoffice's director, Dan L. Crippen.

None of the letter's recipients -- Daschle and five other senators,including Majority Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi -- could be reachedlast night for comment, nor could their staffs.

While the United States recently agreed to cooperate with Japan on missiledefense research, paying to launch Russian satellites could be a far thornierpolitical issue.

Pike, who has monitored nuclear weapons for many years, said he doesnot give the idea much chance of survival in Congress.

"In the current political environment, no," Pike said. "Simply becauseit would require a more mature understanding of the actual situation thanis prevalent in Washington right now."

But he said assisting Russia with the project would be better than doingnothing.

"Given the alternative between the old way of doing things and thisway of doing things, I would prefer to do it this way," he said. "We wouldbe living in a much safer world."

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C. Russian Military
Russia May Sell Four Bombers To India
        Agence France Presse
        August 27, 1999
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW, Aug 27, 1999 -- (Agence France Presse) Russia may sell fourTU-22M3 bombers to India, the Sevodnya newspaper said Friday quoting sourcesin the aviation industry.

Six bombers at the Gorbunov manufacturing plant in Kazan, southern Russia,are ready to be delivered, the sources said.

Russia's TU-22 is a strategic bomber capable of carrying nuclear warheadsbut the TU-22M3 model, designed for export, does not have such an option.

Russia last week sold 10 K-31 helicopters to India for $45 million,press reports said. The helicopters are part of the tactical units deployedwith warships that Russia has already sold to India.

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D. Minatom General 
Head of Atomic Energy Agency of France Visits Moscow
        Itar Tass
        August 25, 1999
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW, August 25 (Itar-Tass) - General Administrator of the Commissariatfor atomic energy of France Yannick d'Escata arrived in Moscow on Wednesdayat the invitation of Russian Minister of Nuclear Power Industry (Minatom)Yevgeny Adamov.

The purpose of his visit is to familiarise himself with the activitiesof a number of enterprises of the nuclear complex of Russia.

According to information made available to Itar-Tass from head of theMinatom press service Yury Bespalko, the programme for the French official'sstay in Russia is "unprecedented in its duration and the number of enterpriseswhich the guest intends to visit." He will stay in Russia till September6.

On Wednesday d'Escata will set off for Siberia where he will visit theAngarsky electrolysis chemical industry complex (the Irkutsk Region). Atthis plant Russian specialists work together with French colleagues.

D'Escata will also visit enterprises of the Minatom in Zheleznogorsk(the Krasnoyarsk Territory) and the Mayak production association (theChelyabinskRegion).

Then the head of the French nuclear branch will leave for Dimitrovgrad(the Ulyanovsk Region), visit Sarov (Arzamas-16) and the Leningrad nuclearpower station.

Besides, Yannick d'Escata intends to attend the Zvyozdochka plant inthe city of Severodvinsk, which utilises nuclear submarines, and the physicsand power institute in Obninsk near Moscow.

According to Yury Bespalko, such a broad programme for d'Escato's visit"stresses the friendly and constructive character of relations betweenthe nuclear agencies of France and Russia."

On September 3 Yannick d'Escata is due to meet with head of the MinatomYevgeny Adamov.

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E. ABM, Missile Defense 
Minister: Moscow Must Respond To US Anti-Missile Systems
        Agence France Presse
        August 27, 1999
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW, Aug 27, 1999 -- (Agence France Presse) Moscow must improve itsnuclear weapons
because of the development of US anti-missile systems, Deputy AtomicEnergy Minister Lev
Ryabov said Thursday.

He was quoted by news agencies here as saying that Washington had adopteda tough position in recent bilateral disarmament talks in Moscow.

"The development of an anti-missile defense system by the United Statesrequires an improvement in
Russian nuclear arms," Ryabov was quoted as saying.

Russian and US officials ended two days of talks here last week to tryto advance disarmament efforts between the two nuclear powers, which havebeen at a standstill since the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START)II was signed in January 1993.

Under START II, Russia and the United States are to reduce their nucleararsenal to the level of 3,500 warheads each.

But the proposed negotiations hit a snag over US proposals to changethe 1972 ABM treaty in line with pressure by Congress to boost anti-missiledefense to face up to threats from so-called rogue states like North Korea.

Moscow accuses Washington of planning to unilaterally breach ABM, whichplaces strict limits on the deployment of anti-missile defense shields.

Ryabov said the production of nuclear weapons in Russia today was ona scale 10 times smaller than during the Soviet period because of disarmamentand the conversion of the defense industry to other purposes.

The development of state-of-the-art conventional weapons was not analternative to nuclear arms, Ryabov was quoted as saying.

Although START II was passed by the US Senate in 1996, it has yet tobe ratified by the State Duma lower house of parliament, which maintainsthat the treaty tilts the strategic balance in Washington's favor.

Speaker Gennady Seleznyov said in June that the Duma would vote on STARTII ratification late this year but he was downbeat about prospects forits approval.

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