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Nuclear News - 10/18/99
RANSAC Nuclear News, 18 October 1999


  1. Duma Unlikely to Ratify Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, MoscowTimes (10/16/99)
B.  Nuclear Waste
  1. Russia Develops Toxic, Nuclear Waste Disposal Technology,ItarTass (10/18/99)
C.  Russian Nuclear Forces
  1. Russia-Ukraine Bombers-For-Gas Deal Costs 285 Million,ItarTass (10/18/99)
D  ABM, Missile Defense
  1. U.S. Offers Aid to Russia On Radar Site, WashingtonPost (10/17/99)
  2. U.S., Russia Review Nuclear Treaty, Associated Press(10/18/99)
E.  Y2K
  1. Lack Of Preparation Leaves Y2K's Effect On Russia An Enigma,BaltimoreSun (10/17/99)
  2. Old Nuclear Foes Join To Avert Y2K Catastrophe, Reuters(10/18/99)


Duma Unlikely to Ratify Nuclear Test Ban Treaty
        Simon Saradzhyan
        Moscow Times
        October 16, 1999
        (for personal use only)

Already suspicious of what it sees as Washington's aspirations to worlddomination, Russia's parliament is highly unlikely to ratify the ComprehensiveNuclear Test Ban Treaty - especially after seeing the U.S. Senate rejectthe accord, experts and officials said.

The Russian government has not yet submitted the treaty to the StateDuma, parliament's lower house. The U.S. Senate voted 51-48 on Wednesdayto reject the accord, which would ban underground testing of nuclear weapons.

And the lower house will hardly agree to discuss the treaty any timesoon, Vasily Pospelov, acting head of the Duma defense committee's staff,said.

Pospelov, who helps to draft federal laws on the ratification ofinternationalsecurity treaties, is so confident that the test ban will not appear onthe lower house's agenda anytime soon that he has not even thoroughly studiedthe treaty.

Pospelov believes the Duma will not take up the test ban until afterit deals with the START II arms control treaty. START II has been languishingsince it was signed in 1993, though the United States has ratified it.

While not planning to consider the test ban treaty themselves, someRussian Duma members used the rejection as an occasion to accuse U.S.legislatorsof undermining international security.

Some independent experts maintain, however, that Russia would only benefitfrom ratification. "The United States has now lost moral ground, whileRussia will move closer to the implementation of its idea of a multipolarworld by ratifying the treaty that will come into force only if endorsedby other nuclear powers," Alexander Pikayev of the Moscow Carnegie Centersaid.

Ivan Sofranchuk of the Center for Policy Studies said, however, thatthe Russian parliament would have thought twice about endorsing the testban even if it were ratified by the United States.

The United States and other Western nuclear powers, such as France,have been modeling nuclear blasts with the help of supercomputers - technologythat Russia doesn't have.

"These computers will help the United States advance its nuclear-weaponrycapabilities, whereas we will remain where we are if the treaty is ratified,"Sofranchuk said.

Sofranchuk noted, however, that the U.S. rejection doesn't give Russiaany moral ground to resume nuclear tests.

"Russia will have the image of an international security champion aslong as it maintains the moratorium," but any attempts to resume the testswill ruin this image for decades, he said.

Instead of violating this voluntary moratorium, Russia continues toconduct subcritical tests at its Arctic test site at Novaya Zemlya, inwhich nuclear materials are brought to the verge of uncontrolled chainreactions that cause explosions.

The Foreign Ministry also criticized the U.S. Senate vote, and saidRussia is committed to the treaty.

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B. Nuclear Waste

Russia Develops Toxic, Nuclear Waste Disposal Technology
         Itar Tass
         October 18, 1999
         (for personal useonly)

MOSCOW, October 18 (Itar-Tass) -- Russia has worked out a unique technologyof simultaneous utilization of toxic agents and nuclear waste.

Doctor of technical sciences Mikhail Svidersky told Itar-Tass on Mondaythat the Russian Chemical Technologies Research Institute had finalizedwork on the introduction of the new technology into production. He saidthe technology had been tested by international experts and that the issueof production funding is now being handled.

Russian technology is based on mixing nuclear waste and toxic agentswhich under certain circumstances are transformed into three groups ofextra-pure materials, which could only be obtained in space earlier. Someof these materials were not known to scientists earlier, others were describedand used in new technologies considered most promising for the 21st century.

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C. Russian Nuclear Forces

Russia-Ukraine Bombers-For-Gas Deal Costs 285 Million
         Itar Tass
         October 18, 1999
         (for personal useonly)

MOSCOW, October 18 (Itar-Tass) - Russia has decided to take from Ukraine11 Soviet-made strategic bombers writing off 285 million dollars of itsdebt for natural gas deliveries, a source in the Defence Ministry toldTass on Monday.

The price of eight Tu-160s, three Tu-95s and 500 air-to-surface missileswas agreed through long consultations between the parties, the source said.Specialists from the Russian Air Forces will go to Ukraine in the nearfuture to accept the bombers, he added.

However, according to data obtained by Tass, a majority of the agingbombers are incapable to comply with their design objective -- to carrystrategic nuclear arms.

As of today, the Ukrainian airfield of Priluki hosts 16 Tu-160 and 21Tu-95 strategic bobmers.

When the negotiations on the deal started several years ago, Ukrainedemanded 75 million dollars for every Tu-160. The market price of a brandnew aircraft of this type is about 250 million dollars.

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D. ABM, Missile Defense

U.S. Offers Aid to Russia On Radar Site
        Steven Mufson and BradleyGraham
        Washington Post
        October 17, 1999
        (for personal use only)

Deal Contingent on Change In 27-Year-Old ABM Treaty

The Clinton administration has offered to help Russia complete a keyradar site and to share more American radar data if Russia agrees to renegotiatethe Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty so that the United States could builda national missile defense system, senior U.S. officials said yesterday.

In a project that would cost tens of millions of dollars, the UnitedStates would help Russia finish a partially constructed radar near theSiberian city of Irkutsk that is oriented eastward, covering northern Asia,including North Korea, and parts of the North Pole. Russia might also begiven access to data from U.S. early-warning radars on the full trajectoryof missile launches, and the two countries might collaborate on some satellitesystems.

Together with the Senate's defeat last week of a treaty banning nucleartest explosions, the attempt to modify the 27-year-old ABM Treaty is asign of tremendous ferment in the realm of arms control.

The collapse of the Soviet Union, the advent of new technology and therise of missile threats from countries such as North Korea, Iraq and Iranare pushing Cold War-era agreements toward obsolescence. Wary of tearingup the entire quilt of agreements that took decades to negotiate, however,the Clinton administration is trying to keep Russia as a partner in developinga system to shoot down missiles.

"We've raised with them a number of cooperative activities to show thatwe see this as a threat that affects both countries," said a senioradministrationofficial. "We don't see this as anything against Russia, and we're willingto look at a whole range of cooperative measures that would address thesame rogue threat we're concerned about."

The offer, made more than a month ago and first reported in the earlyeditions of today's New York Times, is consistent with earlier statementsthe administration has made about finding ways to win Moscow's supportfor national missile defense. Such a system, officials say, would providea limited defense oriented primarily toward rogue states, not Russia.

Although the Russian government has officially rejected U.S. proposalsto renegotiate the ABM Treaty, it has nonetheless agreed to listen to Americanideas. The latest round of talks took place last week, and the United Stateshas not yet received a Russian response.

To improve the chances that the Russians will go along, the administrationdecided last month to ask initially for modest changes in the ABM Treaty,rather than seeking wholesale revisions, as some Republicans in Congresshave advocated.

U.S. negotiators are trying to convince Russian counterparts they havea common interest in guarding against rogue states that may soon be ableto fire intercontinental missiles at either Russia or the United States.The United States believes it would benefit from Russian radar data coveringcountries such as Iran and North Korea, and believes it can offer valuableinformation in return.

"We've been doing a lot of very blue-sky thinking about what kinds ofcooperation might conceivably be possible," another senior administrationofficial said. "We've told the Russians we're prepared to be pretty far-reachingin cooperation."

The United States has given the Russians a list of several potentialforms of cooperation. In addition to completing the radar at Mishelevka,near Irkutsk, the administration has offered joint computer simulationsof antimissile systems; expanded intelligence sharing on threats from roguestates; collaboration in developing two missile observation satellites;a joint presence at one U.S. and one Russian radar site; and joint exercisesin battlefield missile defense.

The United States also suggested expanding an agreement reached a yearago to share U.S. radar data on the point of origin and expected destinationof missiles. Now, the administration is offering to share information onthe entire trajectory.

Another possibility, which remains a subject of intense debate insidethe administration, would involve offering to help Russia regain use ofa radar in Lyaki, Azerbaijan, that covers some Middle Eastern nations.

"We're not at the point where we have substantial feedback from theRussians that any of these proposals might bear fruit," a U.S. officialsaid.

The American negotiators have cited conflicts in the Muslim republicsand territories along Russia's southern border as one reason why Russiashould be interested in guarding against launches.

Talks about sharing data on missile launches began late in the Bushpresidency. But the issue has taken on greater urgency because of Americanplans for moving ahead with national missile defense.

The Clinton administration has said it will decide next June whetherto proceed with the first phase of the system, consisting of 100 missileinterceptors based in Alaska. The second phase would involve a site inthe continental United States and a total of more than 200 interceptors.

One of Russia's concerns, according to an administration official, isthe possibility the system might be expanded. At the moment, it will bea challenge for U.S. technology to intercept even a small number of missiles,and impossible to shoot down the hundreds of missiles that Russia mightlaunch at once. Thus, the U.S. negotiators argue, the missile defense systemwould not decrease Russia's nuclear deterrence against the United States.

Russian negotiators, however, want assurances against a "breakout incapacity from limited to something much bigger" that would be capable ofknocking down scores of missiles, the administration official said.

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U.S., Russia Review Nuclear Treaty
        Sonya Ross
        Associated Press
        Oct. 18, 1999
        (for personal use only)

WASHINGTON –– U.S. officials hope the lure of American assistance withradar technology will get Russia to agree to amend a landmark anti-nucleartreaty so that both nations can develop limited systems to defend againstpotential threats from Iran and North Korea.

U.S. negotiators have proposed that the Americans help Russia finisha major radar installation near Irkutsk, Siberia, oriented across Russia'svast southeastern coast to keep watch on North Korea, among other nations.In exchange, Moscow would agree to alter the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missiletreaty so that both countries could establish national missile defensesystems.

The discussions with Russia have not advanced past preliminary stages,Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said Sunday on CNN's "Late Edition."She said U.S. officials are making it very clear that any American missiledefense effort would be directed against "rogue states," not Russia. Shementioned Iran and North Korea.

"We are very concerned about the development of missile technology,nuclear weapons, by the rogue states and consider that to be a threat tous and to the Russians," Albright said. "They are obviously concerned,as are we, about what the future holds. ... We want to work together ondealing with what this major threat is from the rogue states."

The ABM treaty, ratified by the Senate in August 1972, bans constructionof systems to defend against ballistic missile attacks. An outgrowth ofthe first strategic arms limitations talks, the treaty is considered acornerstone arms control agreement.

"We don't want to weaken Russian security. We're looking to enhanceboth countries' security, and that may need some adjustments to the ABMtreaty," White House chief of staff John Podesta said on ABC's "This Week."

He said the goal is to cope with nuclear threats from countries suchas Iran and North Korea while leaving the essence of the ABM treaty intact.

The radar-enhancement idea drew no fire from senators of either partySunday.

Sen. John McCain of Arizona, a contender for the Republican presidentialnomination, said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that the ABM treaty clearlyneeds changes. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said the United States shoulddo "whatever it takes ... to protect our people" from a nuclear attack.

Sen. Robert Torricelli, D-N.J., told NBC that even with a treaty toban nuclear testing, "The United States is going to need at least somelimited ballistic missile defense."

Russia rejected previous U.S. efforts to renegotiate the ABM treaty,and Russian officials have not responded to the current proposal. RussianPresident Boris Yeltsin said this month in a letter to Japanese Prime MinisterKeizo Obuchi that Moscow is reluctant to change the ABM  treaty.

Just two weeks ago, the commander of Russia's strategic missile forces,Col. Gen. Vladimir Yakovlev, said the United States would trigger a ColdWar-style arms race by developing a missile shield in violation of theABM treaty. It would threaten all disarmament agreements between the twocountries, Yakovlev said.

Spurgeon Keeny, president and executive director of the Arms ControlAssociation, called the ABM amendment proposal an overreaction. He doubtsthe Russians will go along with it.

"Such a minimal treaty adjustment directed solely at North Korea orthe so-called rogue states, an essentially nonexistent threat, doesn'tmake sense," Keeny said. "The Russians and Chinese cannot believe the so terrified of their token capability. This would cost millions andmillions of dollars and jeopardize all arms control."

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E. Y2K

Lack Of Preparation Leaves Y2K's Effect On Russia An Enigma
        Will Englund
        Baltimore Sun
        October 17, 1999
        (for personal use only)

Biggest question mark: nuclear power plants

MOSCOW -- Russia started late, hasn't done enough, and won't get itdone before New Year's Day, so it seems that the world's largest countryis going to discover how serious a problem Y2K can be.

Russia is so immense -- it has 11 time zones -- that the first anxiouslyawaited moments of 2000 will take almost a half-day to roll across thecountry.

It probably won't mean planes falling out of the sky or trains runningbackward, and almost no one expects a glitch to cause the launching ofnuclear missiles. But beyond that, opinion runs pretty well across thespectrum.

Fears are that the electric power grid could fail, which would alsomean a lack of heat in affected cities. Telecommunications could be a bigheadache. The banks could experience disruptions, and natural gas suppliesand municipal water could be cut off. Problems could be immediate, or takedays or weeks to emerge.

But the big question is the nuclear power plants. Is Eastern Europelooking at another Chernobyl or two?

The answer to that one is that no one really knows because no one hasever been through something like this before.

But the odds-on assessment among Russian and Western experts is a resounding"probably not" -- that is, assuming that work to fix the problem continuesthrough November and December, that backup generators at all 29 nuclearplants are able to provide power for cooling the nuclear material if normalelectric service should fail, and that someone remembers to make sure those
generators have plenty of fuel on hand.

Given all that, the nuclear plants should remain safe, and Russia canexpect nothing worse than blackouts, freezing cities and an inability tocommunicate. Even there, it's going to be a matter of degree.

`Optimal direction'

"Any problems will be short-term," Alexander Volokitin, in charge ofa government Y2K commission, said in an interview last week. "We are movingin an optimal direction."

The Central Intelligence Agency, on the other hand, has put Russia inthe forefront of countries looking at Y2K trouble.

Lawrence Gershwin, the CIA's national intelligence officer for scienceand technology, told a Senate hearing last week that Russia is one of fourseriously vulnerable countries.

One of the others he mentioned was Ukraine -- and problems in Russiaand Ukraine could be mutually exacerbating because of the way their electricgrids are connected.

Western experts in Moscow point out that the Ukrainian power systemis strained to the verge of collapse. If trouble should develop, Russiais reportedly prepared to save itself by cutting off its southern neighbor,which is far behind in its payments for electricity.

Last year Ukraine bought $84.4 million worth of electricity from Moscowand paid just $10.1 million.

Anatoly Chubais, head of Russia's electric power company, is optimisticthat if any problems arise, they can be contained, and U.S. diplomats tendto agree.

"We do not foresee severe, long-term disruptions," John Beyrle, a StateDepartment official, said in congressional testimony last month. "It appearsthat Moscow and the other cities might emerge relatively unscathed."

Classic predicament

At times the Y2K problem -- which is expected to arise in computersthat won't be able to distinguish the year 2000 from the year 1900 -- seemslike a classic Russian predicament. It's a "this could happen or that couldhappen" kind of story, with nothing very clear and one doomsday scenariospinning out from another.

Russia was slow to react to the threat. With the exception of the gascompany and the railroads, almost every other ministry and enterprise gavelittle heed to the issue.

"In the end, we managed to turn all of them to face the problem," saidVolokitin. The most intractable turned out to be the Defense Ministry,where a large body of thought considered Y2K to be some kind of cleverTrojan horse dreamed up by the Americans.

"We had to overcome a lack of understanding," Volokitin said.

An exception

The ballistic missile force was an exception; U.S. and Russian defensespokesmen say their systems have been updated, and a joint monitoring centeris being set up in Colorado so that each side can stand watch as the clockticks toward midnight. That would mean from midnight in the Russian FarEast, 10 hours ahead of Moscow, all the way around the globe to midnightin Alaska, 23 hours later.

Now there's a mad dash to get things done.

Russia has the advantage of not being highly computerized. What worriesVolokitin and others is that factories and systems have added computercomponents from the West since the fall of communism, and it's not clearwhat happens to an essentially jury-rigged system if an obscure chip thatno one knew about starts spewing out bad information, or proves unableto close a
valve. For some reason flour mills are said to be particularly unprepared.

Between now and the end of the year, it will be impossible for techniciansto check every computer. Volokitin calculates that right now the countryis at about a 50 percent state of readiness. The Cabinet is to meet Thursdayto discuss the response and consider ministry requests for 2 billion rubles-- about $80 million -- to buy additional equipment and do further work.

Parliament critical

Volokitin said that if the ministries get half that amount they willprobably be in good shape. One place where the computers will undoubtedlybe readied, he said, is the Duma, the Russian parliament. "We considerthis critical -- but only for political reasons. Can you imagine what wouldhappen if they actually had to vote with their hands?"

Local agencies are way behind, and that's why most people are expectingthat some disruptions are inevitable. Four hundred of the country's 600airports probably won't be ready, although most of the Soviet-era planeson Russian domestic routes are untroubled by computer equipment in thefirst place.

As one Western diplomat pointed out, in any case, there's a certainRussian genius when it comes to tackling ad hoc repairs. The Mir spacestation provided a good example of that. And if the heat does fail andthe lights do go out, people here will be able to take it. This is a harshpart of the world; it breeds stoics.

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Old Nuclear Foes Join To Avert Y2K Catastrophe
        Jim Wolf
        October 18, 1999
        (for personal use only)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. (Reuters) – Deadly nuclear foes fromanother era plan to ring in the new year together to make sure the worldsurvives the 2000 technology bogy known as Y2K.

Russian and U.S. military personnel will sit side by side inside U.S.Space Command's Building 1840 to mount a pioneering missile watch aimedat heading off the worst Y2K danger of all, an accidental atomic Armageddon.

The project -- the Center for Year 2000 Strategic Stability -- was devisedby the Pentagon, which fears Y2K glitches may blind Moscow's missile-launchdetection system or cause false alarms -- and possibly spark a nuclearnightmare.

Add in a diplomatic crisis and ``the potential for Russia to misinterpretearly warning data'' would be extra worrisome, Lawrence Gershwin, the topCIA officer for science and technology, told the U.S. Congress last week.With 2,000 nuclear-tipped Russian missiles still on launch-within-minutesalert -- along with 2,440 U.S. missiles -- U.S. Defense Secretary WilliamCohen has described the Y2K center as a kind of hand-holding exercise toprevent any surprises.

It will cut the chance ``that a turn-of-the-millennium computer errorwill create an end-of-the-year security incident,'' Cohen said on Sept.14, the day he and his Russian counterpart, Igor Sergeyev, signed an agreementin Moscow setting up the center.

The arrangement will let the Cold War enemies do something unimaginablejust a decade ago -- sit together and double check U.S.-provided sensitiveearly-warning data about possible ballistic missile launches.

The operation is a prototype for a permanent U.S.-Russian early-warningcenter that Presidents Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin agreed last yearto set up in Moscow.

Along with the perceived Y2K vulnerabilities of Russia's strategic warningsystem, the command control of its military is at risk during the calendarrollover, Gershwin told the special Senate Y2K committee on Oct. 13.

Unlike cashapped Russia, the Pentagon is spending $3.8 billion toready its most important systems for Jan. 1, 2000, when unprepared computerscould misread the last two zeros of the date as 1900 and crash or sputter.

Sharing Modular Desks

In the windowless Y2K center -- a converted cubicle space -- Americansand Russians will share modular work stations starting on Dec. 27 aftera week-long warmup.

Working in shifts, the 20 or so Russians and their U.S. team-mates willkeep a round-the-clock vigil until a date to be determined in mid-January,according to Air Force Lt. Col. Jon Wicklund of the Space Command, thecenter's operator.

Launch data will be displayed as it is picked up by nearby CheyenneMountain, the fabled, steel-sheathed operations center of the North AmericanAerospace Defense Command (NORAD) on the outskirts of Colorado Springs.

NORAD, a joint U.S-Canadian command, uses a global mesh of satellites,radars and sensors to detect missile and space shots. U.S. Defense SupportProgram satellites can pick up the heat of a SCUD missile launch from 22,300miles (35,887 km) in space.

NORAD has left no stone unturned to ensure its own Y2K readiness andhas contingency plans ``to cover a failure if it occurred,'' said MajorGen. David Bartram of Canada, chief of operations.

From NORAD, the Russians will get a stripped-down data stream on anylaunch to veil U.S. intelligence sources and methods. ``We're not interestedin showing them all the capabilities that we've got,'' said Col. RobertRyals, the vice commander of the Air Force's Space Warfare Center, whomay be the top-ranking member of the U.S. team staffing the center.

Details of the center's operations were worked out last month duringa Russian team's stay at Peterson Air Force Base, Space Command headquarters.An American delegation will visit Moscow this week to fine-tune arrangements.

By agreement, seven chunks of data will be shared on any launch over310 miles (500 km): point of origin, time, number of missiles detected,trajectories, types launched, projected target area and projected impacttime.

Tested Hot Lines Ready

Anything at odds with what Moscow detects could be discussed on a Y2K-tested``hot line.'' Another such line goes to Cheyenne Mountain's command center,where NORAD can quickly bump a problem up its abbreviated chain of commandto Washington.

The Y2K Center also will provide a link for any other defense-relatedproblems that emerge during the Y2K cross-over, such as aircraft that maygo off course, U.S. nuclear planners said.

Sitting with the Russians will ``provide additional safeguards appropriateto this period of heightened uncertainty,'' Edward Warner, assistant secretaryof defense for strategy and threat reduction, told Congress last month.Two interpreters will be on hand at all times. Three oversized wall screenscan zero in on the area of any alerts. One is to stay tuned to televisionnews. Another may be used to show videos to break boredom.

The 1983 film War Games -- in which Matthew Broderick played a computerhacker who finds an electronic backdoor to NORAD and nearly trips the ThirdWorld War -- would be a ``good choice'' for entertainment, said RichardRussell, the center's chief engineer. He has put in a video system capableof showing the PAL video format used in Russia.

Y2k Launch Unlikely

U.S. officials say they are highly confident that Y2K failures willnot lead to the inadvertent or unauthorized launch of a ballistic missileby any country. But widespread system failures could spur ``opportunisticengagements'' by hostile forces, the Pentagon's joint staff warned U.S.commanders in a Sept. 14 memo.

So far, no missile or space launches are known to be scheduled duringthe Y2K rollover, according to Air Force Lt. Col. Randy Blaisdell, programmanager for the center.

Worldwide, a ballistic missile test launch or space shot is detectedan average of about once every 36 hours, with ``very very few'' of themsurprises, said NORAD operations chief Bartram.

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