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Nuclear News - 10/08/99
RANSAC Nuclear News, 08 October 1999

A.  U.S.  – Russia General

  1. U.S. Lawmakers Say Failed Russia, New Approach Needed,Reuters (10/08/99)
B.  Russian Nuclear Forces
  1. New Military Doctrine Allows Nuclear Weapons Use in 'Critical'Situations, RFE/RL (10/08/99)
C.  Russian Military
  1. Crime and Corruption Soar in Russian Army, Reuters(10/07/99)
  1. Kremlin Says Wants Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Ratified,Reuters(10/07/99)
E.  Nuclear Waste
  1. Minatom to Announce Spent-Nuclear-Fuel-Container Tender,Itar Tass (10/05/99)
  2. Russia's Nuclear Weapons Program Still Killing, St.Petersburg Times (10/08/99)

A. U.S. – Russia General

U.S. Lawmakers Say Failed Russia, New Approach Needed
        October 8, 1999
        (for personal use only)

WASHINGTON, Oct 8, 1999 -- (Reuters) Saying America's policy on Russiahas failed, U.S. lawmakers on Thursday proposed legislation aimed at buildinga Russian middle class, promoting effective democracy in that country andreforming the International Monetary Fund's lending practices to Moscow.

Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives saidRussia has become a lawless state ruled by "kleptocrats." Republicans pointedmuch of the blame at Vice President Al Gore, the Clinton administration'spoint man on Russia.

"The administration's Russia policy is the greatest U.S. foreign policyfailure since Vietnam," House Majority Leader Dick Armey told a news conference.

"We sought a Russia that was a peaceful and productive free-market democracy.We now face a looted and bankrupt zone of nuclearized anarchy," the TexasRepublican added.

Armey, who said U.S. policy has been overly focused on supporting RussianPresident Boris Yeltsin "and his cronies," said America should focus itspolicy on basic reforms and regional development.

Pennsylvania Republican Representative Curt Weldon, the sponsor of "TheRussian Economic Restoration and Justice Act," called the current U.S.policy on Russia a "disaster."

Lawmakers at the news conference said key among the bill's changes wouldbe reform of IMF lending to Russia. Among other things, fundamental reformsshould be carried out before IMF money is given instead of after, theysaid.

"Many members of the Russian Duma are desperate to see IMF assistanceto Russia reformed," Weldon said.

"Millions of dollars are being diverted by a corrupt central government... (and) the Duma sees this money - which will eventually have to be repaidby the Russian people - being poured down a rat hole."

California Republican Representative Christopher Cox reminded reportersof a speech made in March 1998 by Gore, who co-chaired a commission withthen-Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. Cox quoted Gore as saying,"Optimism prevails universally among those who are familiar with what isgoing on in Russia."

Cox then highlighted what he called the failure of the Clintonadministration'sRussia policy by noting that Russian data show 40 percent of the economythere is controlled by organized crime, including criminal ownership ofhalf the country's banks.

He said the latest Russian scandal involving allegations that $10 billionof IMF money was laundered by mobsters through the Bank of New York andthe IMF's latest $4.5 billion loan, which will be used to merely repaya past IMF loan, underscored how entrenched are Russia's problems.

The wide-ranging U.S. bill, which also has support in the Russian Duma,encompasses eight major points:

    - establishing a joint U.S.-Russian oversight commissionto monitor the use of Western resources in Russia;

    - focusing assistance on housing, developing a Russianmortgage market and the middle class;

    - making funds available to reform-friendly regionalgovernments in Russia;

    - cutting off corrupt institutions from future assistance;

    - reforming the IMF to ensure funds are used to meettheir intended goals;

    - insisting reforms precede the disbursement of loans;

    - creating a mentoring program between U.S. and Russianbusiness leaders;

    - bringing 15,000 Russian students to U.S. collegesto gain degrees in business, finance and economics so they can return homeand share their new perspective.

Hawaii Democratic Representative Neil Abercrombie said the bill wasnot charity but in the best interests of every American.

"This is not some kind of foreign aid boondoggle, this is not some sortof frittering away of American treasure," he said. "This is an investmentlike any other made by the American people in conjunction with the Russianpeople who are just as anxious to have this plan succeed in Russia as weare."

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B. Russian Nuclear Forces

New Military Doctrine Allows Nuclear Weapons Use in 'Critical'Situations
        October 8, 1999
        (for personal use only)

Interfax reported on 7 October that the draft of Russia's new militarydoctrine states that nuclear arms are an "effective factor of deterrence,guaranteeing the military security of the Russian Federation and its allies,supporting international stability and peace." The draft notes that "theRussian Federation reserves the right to use nuclear weapons in responseto the use of nuclear or other mass destruction weapons against it or itsallies and also in response to large-scale aggression involving conventionalarms in situations  critical for the national security of Russia andits allies." Among the key security threats listed in the document is the"expansion of military alliances to the detriment of Russian military security."The full text of the draft is to be published soon in "Krasnya zvezda."The 1997 security doctrine also allowed for the first use of nuclear weapons.

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C. Russian Military

Crime and Corruption Soar in Russian Army
        October 7, 1999
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW, Oct 7 (Reuters) - The Russian army's top prosecutor said onThursday crime was rising in the ranks, costing the cashapped militarymillions of dollars and endangering national security.

"Economic crime in the armed forces and other military branches of theRussian endangering national security," Military ProsecutorYuri Dyomin told a conference.

Speaking to an audience of police, security, audit, customs and militaryofficials on fighting crime, he said the offences involved officials ofvarious ranks.

The number of officers found to be lining their pockets through theftand graft had jumped to 1,017 from 1993 to 1999 compared to 185 over anunspecified period up to 1993.

Bribery is rife in the army, with cases increasing by 82 percent overthe six-year period to 1999, Dyomin said. He noted that he was speakingonly about cases which had been uncovered.

The use of bribes is a widespread practice throughout Russia, oftenas poorly paid officials boost their wages.

Dyomin referred to a case under investigation which involved severalhigh-ranking anti-aircraft defence officers falsifying documents to stealmore than $2 million worth of missile system spare parts which were thensold to private companies.

He said crimes uncovered by military prosecutors in the first six monthsof the year had cost the army more than $4.7 million, losses it can barelyafford as it has lived on a shoe string since the collapse of the formerSoviet Union.

Soldiers and officers are often keen to sell whatever they can to ekeout an existence and even top generals have been accused of selling largestocks of weapons and equipment.

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Kremlin Says Wants Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Ratified
        October 7, 1999
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW, Oct 7, 1999 -- (Reuters) The Russian government is finalizinga set of documents needed to present a global nuclear test ban treaty forratification in parliament, Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimir Rakhmaninsaid on Thursday.

"On instruction from President...Boris Yeltsin the government is puttinga final touch to a set of documents required to submit the ComprehensiveTest Ban Treaty (CTBT) to the State Duma (lower house) for ratification,"he said.

The treaty, signed by 154 countries since it was opened for signaturein 1996, will take effect after it is ratified by 44 countries known tohave nuclear reactors or research programs.

All five declared nuclear powers - the United States, Russia, Britain,France and China - have signed the treaty, but only Britain and Francehave ratified it.

Russia carried out its last explosion in October 1990 and has sincebeen observing a self-imposed moratorium on nuclear tests.

U.S. President Bill Clinton has been unsuccessfully trying to push thetreaty through a reluctant Congress where dominating Republicans say theU.S. nuclear weapons program will suffer without adequate testing and thatthe treaty is impossible to verify.

Rakhmanin said Moscow wanted the CTBT, backed by a viable verificationsystem, to take effect as soon as possible.

He said the Russian delegation at this week's United Nations CTBT reviewconference in Vienna would support the treaty's comprehensive nature andinvite all countries working on nuclear programs to join it.

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E. Nuclear Waste

Minatom to Announce Spent-Nuclear-Fuel-Container Tender
         Itar Tass
         October 5, 1999
         (for personal useonly)

ST. PETERSBURG, October 5 (Itar-Tass) - The Russian Ministry of NuclearEnergy (MinAtom) will announce a tender soon for the purchase of containersfor the  transportation and storage of spent nuclear fuel, DeputyMinister Bulat Nigmatulin told Itar-Tass here on Tuesday in response toa question.

The Deputy Minister is attending a conference on the problems of thedevelopment of the power industry of Russia and the Commonwealth of IndependentStates on the threshold of the 21st century.

Nigmatulin emphasised that a contract to this effect would be concludedwith a producer who would suggest the lowest price. One Russo-German jointventure, which manufactures such containers and the St. Petersburg-basedIzhory Plants enterprise count on a win in the tender.

MinAtom Deputy Minister emphasised that a producer's price bid for containershould not be more than 100,000 U.S. dollars. Containers are to be purchasedat the expense of nuclear power stations' own funds.

The Deputy Minister said 11 Russian nuclear power units of RBMK typeare in need of 147 such containers which are intended for long (50 years)dry storage of spent nuclear fuel and transportation to long distancesand should ensure the shielding of population and the environment againstradiation effects.

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Russia's Nuclear Weapons Program Still Killing
        Anna Badkhen
        St. Petersburg Times
        October 8, 1999
        (for personal use only)

Editor's note: This is the first article in a three-part series.

CHELYABINSK OBLAST, Ural Mountains – One fall afternoon in 1957, 7-year-oldAlexander Dunayev was splashing barefoot in rain puddles with 10 otherboys in the Ural Mountains town of Kasli. The puddles were unusually warm,Dunayev recalls, and the air was thick with an eerie, dark-orange fog.

That fog, Dunayev later learned, was a toxic nuclidic cloud carryingroughly 2 million curies of radioactive fallout from an explosion earlierthat day at a nuclear weapons plant just 18 kilometers to the south.

The temperature control system for one of the plant's storage facilities,which contained 80 tons of highly active liquid nuclear waste, malfunctioned.Uncontrolled, the waste self-heated until all the liquid evaporated, leavingdry sodium compounds, which burned until the temperature inside the containerreached nearly 350 degrees Celsius.

At 4:20 p.m. Sept. 29, 1957, the overheated container exploded, releasing20 million curies of deadly strontium and cerium - about 40 percent ofthat released by the Chernobyl disaster - into the air. A toxic cloud measuring2 million curies crept across hundreds of kilometers of farmland.

Before it eventually dissipated, the cloud would engulf over 200 townsand villages, exposing over a quarter million people to lethal doses ofradiation.

With half-lives of roughly 30 years each, the strontium-90 and cerium-144that was released in the blast will continue to pollute the area for generationsto come.

The regions of the Chelyabinsk and Sverdlovsk Oblasts contaminated bythe 300-kilometers-long, 50-kilometers-wide radioactive cloud emitted bythe plant is now called the Eastern Ural Radioactive Trace. The town ofKasli was one of the first communities to be enveloped by the trace.

"Of the boys who were there with me, running around barefoot after therain - of these 10 boys, only four are still alive," said Dunayev, whois now the vice governor of Kasli. "But the explosion and its consequenceswere classified, and nobody knew exactly why people were suddenly dying."

Within a year and a half after the explosion, about 10,700 residentsof the 23 most polluted collective farms were forced to move and theirfarms were liquidated. State officials gave little explanation as to whypeople were being relocated: the reprocessing plant, then called simplyPlutonium Plant and known today as Mayak, helped produce nuclear weapons,and everything related to its activities was top secret. Only during arare public session of the Supreme Council in 1989 did Soviet authoritiesfinally admit that the accident happened. Until then, none of the thousandsof people living in the contaminated area knew what to call the deadlyneighbor that had settled on their land.

"The state government hid behind the fact that the information was 'topsecret' and shifted its problems onto the shoulders of the local population,depriving the people of [clean] water reserves, fields and pastures," Dunayevsaid. "Some of the documents [regarding the accident] will be classifiedfor many years to come. We might not live to learn the whole truth."

The Liquidators

Vladimir Luginin was an 18-year-old tractor driver at the Stalin collectivefarm in Kasli at the time of the accident. Luginin and his fellow driverswere instructed by local authorities to plow farmland in the Bagaryakskydistrict, the area most contaminated by
the radioactive trace.

"They picked us up at work, during working hours, with our tractorsand told us to plow the land," Luginin recalls. "They paid us a littleextra money for doing the job."

But neither Luginin, nor Alexander Mukhin, whose job it was to inventorythe collective farms being liquidated, were told why all the buildingsand crops had to be leveled to the ground.

"We were told nothing about the explosion," Mukhin, now 70, recalls."We were told that 'something had happened,' that's all."

"We were told that [the land] was 'dirty,' but nobody explained to uswhat kind of dirt it was," he said. "This is what the entire tragedy ofthe accident is about: radiation doesn't look like anything; it doesn'tsmell."

Mukhin, for example, ate wild berries that grew in the contaminatedfields and dined on freshly-picked vegetables at the villages he helpedliquidate. "I inspected the food for [visible] dirt, and it certainly didn'tlook dirty to me," he said.

Only months later, when scientists from Moscow and Leningrad arrivedcarrying their own canned food and bottled water, did Mukhin and his fellowliquidators realize that "the dirt [the authorities] were talking aboutwas not regular dirt."

Of the people who were sent into the contaminated areas, none were equippedto deal with radioactive fallout, Mukhin said. In fact, he said, he nevereven saw a Geiger counter until 1963 - six years after the explosion.

"Originally, we thought the [contamination] would quickly go away,"he said. "But later we were told that it will be here for millennia." Staringout about the hilly landscape of Kasli, Mukhin added: "This is a zone ofenvironmental catastrophe."

Of the 13 people on his liquidating team, he is the only one still alive.

Luginin, who is now dying of stomach cancer, said he only found outin 1976 - when he suddenly lost feeling in his legs - that he had beenexposed.

"I was in the Crimea, and suddenly I couldn't feel my legs. The doctorsasked me whether I had ever been irradiated, and I said no," said Luginin,a fragile 60-year-old man who looks 80. "How was I supposed to know thatI had been exposed to radiation?"

It wasn't until 1996 - 39 years after the accident - that Luginin receivedan official document proving he was a liquidator. Shortly after receivinghis "liquidator" status, his doctors told him that he is fatally ill. "Ifelt like I was hit on the head with an ax," he said, crying.

The 1957 explosion dealt another blow to Luginin and his wife, Valentina.Five years ago, their only son, Sergei, now 19, was diagnosed with leukemia- a disease common in people and children of people exposed to high dosesof radiation.

Sergei, classified as an invalid by the state, says his disease hasdestroyed his immune system to the point that he is afraid to leave hisparents' house in Kasli.

"If I get sneezed at, I will stay in bed for months afterwards," Sergeisaid. "I can't go to school, and I can't go to work. I am very weak."

While being treated for leukemia in 1995, Sergei suffered a stroke,which paralyzed the left side of his body. He has recovered somewhat since,but says his memory isn't what it used to be.

"I forget the simplest things: I go to the bakery, take the change butforget the bread," he said. "When I was 16 and went to get my passport,I forgot what a passport was called. It is pathetic."

Sergei said he wants to be a carpenter, but is afraid that hard workwill exacerbate his health problems.

"He really wants to work," Valentina says. "He cries often because hecan't work."

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