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Nuclear News - 09/20/99
RANSAC Nuclear News, 20 September 1999



A.  Nuclear Cities Initiative

  1. Mobil Technology Company Launches Contracted Research in RussianNuclear City, Russia Today (09/17/99)
B.  Nuclear Waste
  1. Scrapping Russia's Nuclear Fleet, The Guardian (UK)(09/18/99)
C.  Russian Nuclear Forces
  1. Russian Budget to Provide for Shipbuilding Development,Itar Tass (09/17/99)
  2. Russia Test-Fires Missile as U.S. Official Visits, Izvestiaand Kommersant Daily (combined reports in Russia Today)(09/17/99)
  3. 2 Russian Bombers Approached Alaska, Reuters(09/18/99)
D.  START
  1. Start-2 Important for Russia, USA, Itar Tass(09/19/99)
E.  U.S. – Russia General
  1. Why It's Wrong To Right Off Russia Now, WashingtonPost (09/19/99)

A. Nuclear Cities Initiative

1.
Mobil Technology Company Launches Contracted Research in RussianNuclear City
        Russia Today
        September 17, 1999
        (for personal use only)

Sep 17, 1999 -- The Moscow-based International Science and TechnologyCenter (ISTC) announced today that Mobil Technology Company signed a $330,000Partner Project Agreement with the All-Russian Institute for TheoreticalPhysics (VNIITF) and two institutes of the Russian Academy of Science.VNIITF is located in Snezhinsk, Russia - the nuclear city formerly knownas Chelyabinsk-70. The new agreement addresses the modeling of oil flowin porous media, and will provide Mobil Technology with sophisticated newmathematical solvers used in oil well optimization.

The agreement represents one of the earliest investments by a commercialorganization in contracted research at VNIITF, and the first investmentat VNIITF through the ISTC Partner Program. Dr. Vadim Simonenko - Professorand Deputy Science Director at VNIITF remarked: "We are pleased that MobilTechnology Company recognizes the broad and excellent scientific talentat VNIITF, and will be able to apply the skills of our scientists to itsbusiness interests." Dr. Michael B. Ray - Manager, Upstream Strategic esearchat Mobil Technology added: "The ISTC was central in identifying the technicaltalent available at VNIITF and other CIS institutes. The Partner Programhas proven to be a useful framework for contracting with scientific teams."

The agreement combines the skills of the VNIITF scientists with thoseof the Institute of Mathematical Modeling and the Institute of NumericalMathematics, both of the Russian Academy of Science. Mobil will use theISTC Partner Program infrastructure to directly pay the scientists andmonitor progress during the project lifetime. The project is planned tospan 3 years and involve the efforts of nearly 30 scientists and technicalteam members. Mobil and the Russian institutes have agreed to share theintellectual property developed under the project, with Mobil retainingexclusive use within the energy sector and the Russian institutes for otherapplications.

The ISTC is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to thenonproliferationof weapons technology of mass destruction. The Center coordinates the effortsof numerous governments, international organizations, and private sectorindustries to provide weapons scientists from Commonwealth of IndependentStates (CIS) countries with opportunities to redirect their talents topeaceful science.

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B. Nuclear Waste

1.
Scrapping Russia's Nuclear Fleet
        Owen Bowcott
        The Guardian (UK)
        18 September 1999
        (for personal use only)

Fearing an environmental catastrophe on its doorstep, Norway is helpingMoscow dismantle its decaying submarine reactors

The gigantic bulbous hull of a Russian nuclear submarine towers abovethe quay.

Its multiple launch tubes - capable of firing intercontinental missiles- are battened down. Beneath an array of cranes, the Typhoon class warshipawaits the breaker's yard.

Smaller submarines are moored upstream, their towers menacingly lowin the waters of the Severnoye Dvina river. A nuclear-powered cruiser standsat the dockside.

This is Russia's military-industrial complex. Severodvinsk, for decadesa closed Soviet city whose nuclear arsenal threatened western capitalswith annihilation, is the largest submarine dockyard in the world.

This month a new phase begins in Moscow's cooperation with Norway, aScandinavian and Nato neighbour, to clean up the cold war's legacy ofradioactivewaste. Last Friday Jarle Skjorestad, Norway's foreign secretary, promisedto support further  decommissioning.

But there remain widespread doubts about how swiftly the fuel rods andreactors of the communist regime's once formidable northern fleet can betaken out of service.

Upgrading storage tanks for liquid nuclear waste at the shipyard hasalready cost Norway close to £3m - but that is only one element ina programme aimed at dismantling the world's largest concentration of nuclearreactors. The Oslo-based Bellona Foundation, which monitors nuclear pollution,estimates that there are 240 nuclear reactors around the edge of the Arcticcircle. Most vessels have two reactors. In total, the region accounts fornearly 20% of the world's reactors.

The Typhoon class is the largest submarine ever built. Lack of fundsfor maintenance is believed to be behind the decision to begin scrappingthe vessels, which can carry 200 nuclear warheads each and were only launchedin the early 1980s.

The Norwegian-sponsored storage plant was, unusually for Russia, ontime and on budget.

But, recognising that a network of nuclear waste treatment plants isneeded, Mr Skjorestad remained cautious about claims of rapid progress.

"The legacy of the cold war has placed a heavy burden on Russia andraised grave problems of environmental waste," he said. "They have to beaddressed, but not by Russia alone."

Situated alongside ageing Soviet warehouses, the new plant built byKvaerner Maritime appears to be from another world. Its automated processes,operated by three technicians, can handle 2,000 cubic metres of radioactivewater from submarine reactors.

By comparison, visitors to the Russian-built Atomflot treatment plantin Murmansk are greeted by an ominous notice of the death of a 53-year-oldengineer after a "long and painful illness". But many Russian workers areresigned to their fate. "Radioactive pollution is not the first questionyou think about if you are looking for food," said one.

Arctic ice has scarred the plant's external brickwork. Inside thereare cracks in the walls. Dust and discarded face masks litter the corridors.The yellowing plastic matting on the floor has not been changed for years.The plant's reopening date has been repeatedly postponed. But Atomflot'sdirector, Alexander Sinjaev, insists that the plant represents progress."Before 1983, nuclear waste was dumped into the sea," he said.

Short-cut solutions and delays have characterised Russia's naval nuclearindustry. "Waste is deposited haphazardly throughout yards and bases,"said Thomas Nilsen, of Bellona. "A recurrent theme is lack of civiliancontrol over northern fleet facilities, leading to disregard of internationalrecommendations on the handling of nuclear waste."

Another problem is that the US-funded decommissioning programme, whichpaid Russia $230m (£142m) last year to dismantle nuclear warheads,does not cover reactors and fuel rods.

The spectre of a radioactive Barents sea and north Atlantic, their lucrativefish stocks contaminated, reinforces Norway's enthusiasm for internationalcooperation. Oslo has good reason to be scared. In 1989 a Soviet nuclearsubmarine caught fire off Bear Island and sank; 42 crewmen died. It nowsits 1,800m (6,000ft) down on the Arctic seabed.

At Andreeva bay, a fjord between Murmansk and the Norwegian border,the Soviets found water from storage pools for spent fuel rods leakingas long ago as 1982. At one stage 10 tonnes of water was gushing out everyday.

The danger of a nuclear catastrophe remains. Last year a deranged sailorshot dead eight fellow crew members on a submarine near Murmansk and triedto detonate a torpedo inside the vessel before he was killed by securityguards.

Meanwhile the storage ship Lepse, once used to hold damaged nuclearrods, is now so contaminated that it is now regarded as radioactive waste.It lies in Murmansk harbour, just off the main shipping channel.

Norway and Russia say the nuclear presence has had no significant impacton public health. Overall radioactive dosages are low. It is the potentialfor future disaster that alarms Olso.

Severodvinsk has not stopped building nuclear submarines, but now onlydelivers one every few years. Several years ago it ran out of cash to payelectricity bills, and the local generating company turned off the power.

The docks now repair non-nuclear vessels and have diversified into propellerblades for cruise ships and oil platforms for the Atlantic.

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C. Russian Nuclear Forces

1.
Russian Budget to Provide for Shipbuilding Development
        Itar Tass
        September 17, 1999
        (for personal use only)

SEVERODVINSK, the Arkhangelsk region, September 17 (Itar- Tass) -- RussianPrime Minister Vladimir Putin on Friday took part in a launching ceremonyof a new generation nuclear submarine "Gepard" of the "Bars" series.

"Today, I have seen another Russian multipurpose nuclear submarine launchedwhich is the best proof that the shipbuilding industry will live on inRussia," Putin said speaking at the ceremony. "The draft federal budgetprovides for financing the defense industry, and shipbuilding in particular,"he added.

Later, Putin chaired here an expanded session of the government commissionfor military-industrial  problems.

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2.
Russia Test-Fires Missile as U.S. Official Visits
        Izvestia and KommersantDaily (combined reports in Russia Today)
        September 17, 1999
        (for personal use only)

Russia's Strategic Missile Force test-fired a Topol-M missile at a FarEast target during the visit of a ranking U.S. official recently, the newspaperIzvestia reported.

The test was conducted September 3 as a surprise coinciding with thevisit of Strobe Talbott, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, who has arrivedin Moscow for consultations on problems of strategic security.

In a matter of 23 minutes, the dummy warhead covered the distance fromPlesetsk, in northern Russia, to a proving ground in Kamchatka and hitthe target right on the dot.

Moscow decided to improve its stance in the dialogue with Americansby demonstrating Russia's new nuclear missile capabilities, Izvestia reported.Russia has 10 stationary-based Topol-M's and plans to supplement them withanother 10 in the next few months. Besides that, Russia expects to testa mobile version of this missile system by the end of the year.

The beefing up of Russia's Strategic Missile Force, in the Kremlin'sopinion, should convince the Americans of the hopelessness of re-examiningthe 1972 anti-ballistic missile treaty, Izvestia stated. The introductionof changes in this treaty, which the Americans are insisting upon, is apainful subject for Russian military and diplomats.

Moscow fears that if Washington covers the United States and its allieswith a missile shield, this will "nullify" Russia's remaining feature ofa superpower - its nuclear arsenals. And that is precisely why in its latestmissile test, Russia especially emphasized the capabilities of the newmissile system to break through the anti-missile defense system of "a probableenemy."

The commander of Russia's missile forces, Vladimir Yakovlyev, announcedthat if the United States steps out of the ABM treaty, Russia has workedout a number of measures of an "asymmetrical nature." Among them are thepossibility of tipping the Topol-M with multiple, independent re-entryvehicles.

On the eve Talbott's visit, the Chairman of the Duma's Defense Committee,Roman Popkovich, was even more categorical. Russia's military-industrialcomplex, he explained, had already developed absolutely new ballistic missilesthat could penetrate any anti-missile defense system. So, he added, "letthe Americans waste their money." Popkovich made it understood that Russia'snuclear submarines could be armed with the newest type of missiles.

At the consultations in Moscow, Talbott planned to discuss not onlyproblems related to strategic stability, nuclear missiles, and disarmament,but also the situation around the Bank of New York scandal concerningallegationsof laundering money.

Kommersant Daily said Talbott had arrived in Moscow "to launder" theKremlin, adding that Talbott's visit to Moscow was veiled in a cloak ofsecrecy. Washington's plans to modify the ABM system and the  Duma'srefusal to ratify SALT-2 are indeed the most pressing problems in Russo-Americanrelations, Kommersant stated. However, it seems clear that productive talkson these questions should not be expected before the summer of next year- after the parliamentary and presidential elections in Russia.

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3.
2 Russian Bombers Approached Alaska
        Reuters
        September 18, 1999
        (for personal use only)

ELMENDORF AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska, Sept. 17—Russian bombers approachedthe Alaska coastline this week for the first time in six years but turnedback after U.S. jets were dispatched to the area, officials said today.

Two Russian Bear H bombers were spotted Thursday at 4:10 p.m. (8:10p.m. EDT) in the "outer defense identification zone," about 200 miles off the coast of Alaska and 625 miles from Anchorage, said a spokesman at theNorth American Aerospace Defense Command Regional Air Operations Centerat Elmendorf Air Force Base.

The Russian jets remained in international airspace the entire time,said Maj. Les Kodlick. But their entry into the identification zone triggeredthe dispatch of U.S. jet fighters to positively identify the aircraft.

The F-15s came within 90 miles of the Russian aircraft before the Bearbombers turned away and continued traveling in international airspace.

"The important thing is that we're prepared to meet any threat," Kodlicksaid. U.S. officials do not know why the Russian bombers approached U.S.air space, he said.

During the Cold War, Soviet Bear bombers regularly tested U.S. air defenses,heading toward American airspace and turning aside at the last minute.The last intercept of a Russian Bear aircraft near Alaskan airspace occurredin March 1993.

On June 25, two Russian bombers were intercepted by U.S. planes overIceland after they came within striking range of the United States. TheRussian planes were on military exercises.

Defense Secretary William S. Cohen was in Russia Monday and Tuesdayto shore up bilateral military ties after a months-long chill caused byNATO's 11-week bombing of Yugoslavia earlier this year.

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D. START

1.
Start-2 Important for Russia, USA
        Itar Tass
        September 19, 1999
        (for personal use only)

WASHINGTON, September 19 (Itar-Tass) - The START-2 is strategicallyimportant for Russia and the United States, Chairman of the State Duma'sSub-Committee on Arms Control and International Security Boris Gromov toldthe Washington Times newspaper. The interview is published in the newspaper'sSunday issue.

"The START-2 ratification will have a good foreign political effectfor Russia and will not run counter the country's defense interests," thegeneral said. In his opinion, the delay in the START-2 ratification bythe State Duma is caused by the socio-economic problems of Russia anddifficultieswith the financing of the START-2 implementation. "Our countries shallstrengthen the spirit of partnership and mutual understanding," he noted.

Asked to comment on the U.S. striving to change the ABM Treaty of 1972,Gromov reaffirmed that Russia did not accept such moves. "If the ABM Treatyis changed, the future of the global nuclear disarmament will be unclearat best, or unpredictable and very dangerous at worst," he said. The changeswill ruin the Treaty and entail the revision of the START-1 and the START-2.

Asked whether he was satisfied by the Russian-U.S. political and militarycooperation in the period of the Balkan crisis, Gromov answered negativeand said "there was no such cooperation at all."

"Russia and the United States moved autonomously, although in the parallelpolitical directions," he said. "The NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, whichlasted for three months, was a blunder of the North Atlantic Alliance.The military solution of such problems is unpromising and leads into adeadend." In his opinion, the NATO military operation against Yugoslavia"seriously complicated the American-Russian cooperation in the militarysphere."

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E. U.S. – Russia General

1.
Why It's Wrong To Right Off Russia Now
        David Hoffman
        Washington Post
        September 19, 1999
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW—In the colossal Soviet military machine, Viktor Vyshinsky workedin fluid dynamics at a secret aviation institute, testing missiles andwarplanes. But when the Soviet Union came to an end, he felt trapped, herecalled, "like a miner deep in the shaft." He climbed to the surface totry to make sense of capitalism and the new Russia. Vyshinksy, a scientist,set up a pollution control system for a local government. He didn't getpaid. Then he tried a commercial project for timber drying. No luck. Afterthat
came his attempt to predict floods. "Nothing actually worked out fromthat period," he told me. But Vyshinsky did not give up--not long ago,he was working on a mathematical model to predict turbulence created byairplanes at commercial airports.

Vyshinsky's doggedness holds a lesson for those who are suddenly worriedthat the great Russian transition to market capitalism and democracy hassomehow failed. It hasn't. Russians are picking themselves up off the floorevery day, plunging back again and again into the unknown, despite thewrenching disappointments that they and the world have witnessed here inthe last few years.

The experiment--and it is just that, a grand and unprecedented experiment--isin trouble, that's clear. From the outset, it has been burdened by thelegacy of Russian authoritarianism, by greed and avarice, by utter incompetencein national leadership, and by the unimaginable problems of changing themind-set of a whole people, breaking free of generations of passivity andpaternalism, and doing it quickly.

Now comes a spate of headlines in the United States and Europe aboutallegations of money laundering, alleged bribery involving high-level Kremlinofficials and the flight of Russia's precious capital. But it is strangeto hear the alarmist tone in the West about the Russian "kleptocracy" and"gangster state," and to listen to the debate about who "lost" Russia.It is strange because Russia's woes have been staring us in the face fornearly a decade. In fact, the deeper these woes become, the greater theneed for the world's most successful experiment in market capitalism anddemocracy to show the way. What really baffles me is the notion that theUnited States should disengage from Russia because things have not, ina few short years, turned out to be our idea of Main Street.

Russia is not going to be Main Street for a long time. But the UnitedStates has a huge obligation--and national interest--to see that the Russianexperiment advances and to find ways to repair the damage it has alreadysuffered. It may surprise prospering Americans, but the truth is that theCold War is not yet really won. Our longed-for dividend of a less dangerousworld will not be secure if Russia goes off the tracks.

Russia today is a failing state--its military is a wreck, its recentwave of terrorism has created panic and uncertainty, its tax collectionis a disaster, and it is not turning itself into a market democracy verywell.  Moreover, Russia is suffering a debilitating and degenerativedisease. What little capital it has to become a capitalist country is beingspirited abroad. For a decade, capital has been fleeing at an alarmingrate. The suspicions of money laundering and possible huge money flowsthrough the Bank of New York are not the first, or the last, of this riverof riches that has left Russia.

However, the past 15 years--since the dawn of perestroika--have taughtan important lesson: Transition takes time and patience, far more thananyone thought when the Berlin Wall fell. The late economist Ed Hewettnoted wisely that sometimes a misstep is part of a larger movement forward.For example, last year's devaluation of the ruble and default on Russia'sdomestic debt were not disasters. Policymakers made big mistakes, but,in retrospect, the crash itself was more of a correction than a cataclysm.

It's just plain wrong to write off Russia as a hopeless failure. Havewe run out of energy and patience for the job of a lifetime, making surethe values that we fought for in the Cold War are truly and firmly plantedhere? It's time to wake up and think about getting Russia right. In fact,it's easy to forget how far Russia has already come. Not too long ago,a foreign visitor--even a package from a foreigner--aroused fear and suspicion,and people spoke openly only in their kitchens. Today Russia is a cacophonyof political voices, and both literature and art are relatively free. Anddespite the stress of recent years, the Russian transition never degeneratedinto mass violence.

The criticism that Russia has become a "gangster state" is terriblyone-dimensional. The transition has many fronts, and it has been an inchoatemess on all of them. The last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, greatlyadvanced political freedom but stumbled repeatedly in lame attempts totinker with the socialist economy. Russian President Boris Yeltsin at firstbravely broke the grip of the old state, but then checked out of the businessof building something new in its place. The fundamental problems of constructinga civil society and rule-of-law state have been carelessly ignored andmay well have to wait for another generation.

What is amazing to me every day is not the lack of capitalism in Russiabut the utter madness and zealousness of it. Russians are rushing headlonginto a new world for which they have few rules. Instead of a sodden masslonging to go back to socialism, the country is a bewildering, scary andwarped buy-sell kind of place. The "market" creates perverse incentives--scrapmetal thieves, for example, raid warplanes and power stations in searchof electronic boards with precious metals they can steal, melt down andsell. The Russians call it dikiy or wild capitalism--wild as in the untamedjungle.

Americans should hardly be throwing up their hands in shock and surpriseat the ascent of robber-baron capitalism in Russia. We know it well. Wehad it once, too. In the industrial expansion that followed the Civil War,there was a hunger for new capital, and that gave rise to tycoons suchas J. Pierpont Morgan. He became a powerful turn-of-the-century middlemanbetween capital, both foreign and domestic, and America's expanding industry.Eventually, the magnates' immense power dissipated as our markets grewmore mature. The wild capitalism gave rise to a more civilized kind. Butthis fundamental shift took decades.

Russia has been trying to build market capitalism for only eight years.In one sense, Russia faces the same problem that once confronted the UnitedStates--a hunger for capital. There is no way the rotting factories ofthe Soviet Union can be retooled and restructured without new capital.But there are differences: The American robber barons, for all their greed,built something and left enormous amounts of philanthropy. Russia lacksthe rule of law that has been one of America's enduring national strengths.And, when the new Russian state was born, the lion's share of property--themassive stock of factories, mines and refineries--was not the result ofindividual initiative, but rather came from the old state. The immenselyimportant job of finding owners for that property who will rebuild it,manage it and reinvest profits is still at the core of Russia's troubles.

In the latest controversy, much of the harshest criticism has been directedat Russia's robber barons, known here as the oligarchs, a group of financiersand magnates who dominate the weakening state. These men did not just parachuteinto Russia. They were a product of their turbulent times. Unfortunately,the incentive of those times was to make "easy money," to reap fantasticprofits quickly because of the imbalances created during the transition.There is a temptation to see these early businessmen as pioneering capitalistsblazing trails out of the Soviet system, but the oligarchs played an importantrole: They elbowed out the Communist Party elite and factory managers whoresisted change. The oligarchs were also addicted to easy money. EconomistAnders Aslund has pointed out that in early 1990 the Moscow free-marketprice of a package of Marlboro cigarettes was 30 rubles--the same priceas a ton of crude oil. Those who could hustle the crude and sell it overseasat world prices reaped a windfall.

I have counted seven phases of accessing "easy money" since 1991, andit is the final phase that ought to get special attention. In 1997 and1998, Western banks lent hundreds of millions of dollars to Russia's oligarchsand their empires, often without carefully checking the borrowers. OneRussian banker told me recently that he really didn't need the $250 millionhe borrowed on global markets two years ago.

From the time they were young men, the new tycoons learned that theirmoney was only safe abroad. They feared their own crazy, unreformed taxsystem, political instability, extortion and theft by their rivals. Overthe years, capital was pumped out the door at a rate of $1 billion a month.For a country already lacking capital, the leaks were debilitating. Theonly real way to stop them was to create conditions inside Russia to attractcapital, but its leaders had absolutely no willpower to make that happen.What's more, the Central Bank itself took part in capital flight, sendingRussia's foreign currency reserves to an offshore tax haven.

The window of opportunity is closing in Russia: Millions of people havelost faith in the Western goals of market democracy, even as they strugglefrantically to survive in it. There are three important ways for the UnitedStates to remain engaged. First is the business of democracy. Russianshave stayed the course on elections. Now they need to build civil society,the glue that connects the rulers to the ruled. We know something aboutcivil society--and we've done far too little to share that knowledge. Second,there's still an enormous amount of work on arms control and nonproliferation.The last, and most difficult, is the Russian economy, which is not yetcompletely out of control. Whether the problem is bandit capitalism orjust chaos capitalism, much remains to be done to fix the system of corporategovernance, to clean up a disastrous tax code, to help Russia break outof stagnation in agriculture and to deal with defense conversion. Mostof it will have to be done by Russians themselves.

But we need to remind ourselves just how much Russia has changed. Asa teenager in the early 1970s, I demonstrated for Soviet Jews' freedomin Washington's Farragut Square. In the '80s, I reported on President Reaganand his demands for systemic change in the Soviet Union. Now I sit in Moscow,thinking that in many ways Russians have accomplished much of what we asked.Have we run out of the imagination and energy to help them finish the job?

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