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Nuclear News - 10/25/99
RANSAC Nuclear News, 25 October 1999



A.  START

    1. Russia, U.S. Begin Arms Talks,  Associated Press(10/21/99)
    2. If ABM Treaty Is Violated, Talks On Start Make No Sense –Russian View, Interfax (10/22/99)
    3. Russia-U.S. Disarmament Talks Still Yielding No Results,RFE/RL (10/25/99)
B.  U.S. – Russia General
    1. Wary of Abuses, U.S. Sharply Cuts Visas for Russians,New York Times (10/24/99)
C.  Nuclear Power Industry
    1. Russia Tightens Security At Nuclear Plants,  AgenceFrance Presse (10/25/99)
 D.  Nuclear Waste
    1. Ukraine Builds Spent Fuel Storage, Bellona (10/25/99)
E.  Y2K
    1. CIA Reports on Y2K Bug Pitfalls, Associated Press(10/21/99)
F.  CTBT
    1. Russia To Send Nuclear Test Treaty To Duma-Ivanov, LosAngeles Times (10/21/99)

A. START

1.
Russia, U.S. Begin Arms Talks
        Nick Wadhams
        Associated Press
        October 21, 1999
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW –– Russia and the United States started another round of armscontrol talks today, but there appeared to be little chance of overcomingdisagreements over proposed U.S. changes to the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missiletreaty.

The two sides planned to discuss U.S. desires to modify the ABM treaty,as well as prospects for a START III nuclear arms reduction treaty.

Washington wants to amend the ABM treaty, which was key to startingarms control pacts during the Cold War, so that both countries can defendthemselves against nuclear attacks by rogue nations like North Korea.

The United States says the modification would not be substantial enoughto stop the type of attack that Russia could launch, but Moscow says thechange would upset strategic stability and possibly lead to a new armsrace.

Russian President Boris Yeltsin and President Clinton had agreed todiscuss modifications of the treaty at a Group of Eight summit in Cologne,Germany, that took place this summer. Previous talks have brought no progress.

Russian officials have been adamant that they have no intention of allowingthe modifications, and the Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that it wouldreject a U.S. offer to help Russia build a major defense radar in Siberiain exchange for the treaty modifications.

Undersecretary of State John Holum was leading the U.S. delegation inthe two-day talks.

The two sides also planned to discuss prospects for the proposed STARTIII nuclear arms reduction treaty, which would cut warheads to 2,000 to2,500 on each side. Russian officials have welcomed the proposal but saidU.S. insistence on modifying the ABM treaty posed an obstacle.

The new treaty also could not be formally agreed upon until the Russianparliament ratifies the 1993 START II treaty, which would cut U.S. andRussian nuclear arsenals to 3,000-3,500 warheads each.

The U.S. Senate ratified the treaty in 1996, but Communists and otherhard-liners dominating the lower house of Russian parliament have balkedat its approval, saying START II threatens Russia's security.

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2.
If ABM Treaty Is Violated, Talks On Start Make No Sense – RussianView
        Interfax
        October 22, 1999
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW. Oct  22 (Interfax)  - If  the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty is  gone, all  talks on  START will make no sense, Russia believes.

This view  was reiterated at the Russian-U.S. consultations onthe ABM  Treaty and the outlook for START-3 which ended in Moscowon Friday, the Russian Foreign Ministry reports.

"The Russian  negotiators  presumed  that  further reductions under START  are possible  only  if  the ABM  Treaty,  which  is decisively important  for the whole of  the disarmament process, remains intact," the report says.

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3.
Russia-U.S. Disarmament Talks Still Yielding No Results
        RFE/RL
        October 25, 1999
        (for personal use only)

Following two days of talks in Moscow between Russian Deputy ForeignMinister Grigorii Berdennikov and U.S. Undersecretary of State for armscontrol and international security affairs John Holum, the Russian ForeignMinistry on 22 October issued a statement saying that if the 1972 Anti-BallisticMissile Treaty is violated, all negotiations on strategic nuclear weaponswill become "pointless." Any further reduction of such weapons, the statementnoted, will be possible only if the ABM treaty remains intact. Interfaxcited "informed Moscow sources" as saying "no headway" is being made byRussia and U.S. on the issue of the "so-called adaptation" of the ABM Treaty.At the same time, those sources confirmed that Russia does not intend to"slam the door" on the talks. AP quoted an unnamed senior U.S. officialas commenting that the talks are still at an early stage and that the twosides are considering a "wide range of options."

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B. U.S. – Russia General

1.
Wary of Abuses, U.S. Sharply Cuts Visas for Russians
        Michael R. Gordon
        New York Times
        October 24, 1999
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW -- The United States Embassy in Moscow has sharply curtailedthe number of visas issued to Russians, particularly students and scholars,despite Washington's avowed desire to spread Western values in Russia.About 40 percent of Russian students who sought to study in the UnitedStates using private funds were refused visas this year, about twice therejection  rate of previous years. Embassy officials suggested thatstudents from impoverished Russia -- potentially part of the country'sopinion-making elite -- will be tempted to try to settle permanently inthe United States.

In some cases, the reason given for refusing a visa -- that the applicantappeared to have insufficient ties, like children, to Russia -- echoedthe Soviet practice of allowing citizens to travel abroad only if theirloved ones stayed behind to insure the relative's return.

The tightened visa policy followed the August 1998 economic collapsein Russia and is part of a broader and increasingly rancorous debate overthe procedures for inviting foreign students to the United States. Applicantsfrom South Korea and Thailand, which have also undergone economic crises,have reported increasing problems too in obtaining visas.

But the visa policy has special implications for Russia, where Americawants to encourage democracy and influence public opinion. The ClintonAdministration has defended its policy of engaging Russia, and recentlyannounced a vigorous campaign against what it calls the "new isolationists"in Congress.

In Moscow, American Embassy officials deny that they have been overlystrict. Laura Clerici, the consul general, asserted that consular officialsneeded to be particularly vigilant after the 1998 collapse.

"Many Russians think that bureaucracy is something to be gotten around,"she said in an interview. "They give us all sorts of paper that is false."

But American educators and former diplomats say that the embassy hasoverreacted and that many worthy candidates have been cast aside.

They note that the embassy's statistics do not show Russians hurryingto flee abroad after the ruble collapsed. Overall, visa applications havenot increased since August 1998 -- although the number of rejections has-- and student applications have actually declined.

"The visa policy is at cross-purposes with U.S. foreign policy," saidGreg Guroff, the former director of an American Government office thatencourages educational and cultural exchanges. "The American policy hadbeen to expand contacts. Now the consular policy appears to be to turndown young people, particularly on private education exchanges."

The visa policy has been a shock to many young Russians. Despite a generalsurge in anti-American sentiment -- most evident in the street protestsoutside the American Embassy during the Kosovo conflict -- young educatedRussians are still drawn to the United States.

For Russian students, there are American Government-financed exchangeprograms that can last for a few weeks, or for years. In 1998, 6,000 visaswere granted to Russians under such programs.

But Russians also attend American universities and colleges using "F"type visas, where the education is paid for by the student or other privatesources or is supported by a scholarship.

In 1998, 83 percent of all "F" type visas were granted during the primestudent application months of June through August. This year, the acceptancerate slipped to 62 percent.

Ruslan Shevdov, 27, had appeared to catch a lucky break when the smallMoscow-based trading and agricultural company he joined after leaving thefood service division of the Russian Army offered to send him to Americaat its expense to earn a degree in business administration and to perfecthis English.

Accepted by Adelphi University in Garden City, N.Y., Shevdov had hopedto begin his studies this fall. But his request for an "F" visa was rejectedthree times.

"They said I didn't fit the student profile," Shevdov said. "Maybe theythink I am too old. I tried to assure them that I plan to return. My parentslive here. This is the country where I grew up. I can call my friend hereat any time and he will come. How would I live there?"

Embassy officials said they would not discuss individual cases. Thesix-member team that handles nonimmigrant visas at the Moscow consulatemakes hundreds of similar decisions, often on the basis of a 5- or 10-minuteinterview.

They try to divine if a student or scholar has an unbreakable tie tothe homeland that will spur return. Interviews often amount to hurrieddiscussions of an applicant's marriage status, family life and assets.

The burden of proof that a Russian has no plans to emigrate, even legally,falls on the applicants. They may find it hard to argue that what appearto an American to be meager rewards are sufficient for a decent livingin Russia. Shevdov, for instance, earns about $900 a month, a a respectablesum for a Muscovite.

Scholars have also had problems. Taras Ivchenko, a 34-year-old assistantprofessor at Moscow University, is a specialist in Chinese linguisticswho graduated from Beijing University and wrote his doctorate in Chinese.Encouraged by several American professors, he was to visit the United Statesto help translate a Ming dynasty manuscript.

But in a 10-minute interview in May, Ivchenko was unable to secure atourist visa. He earns $150 a month and has no substantial property. Hiswife, father and sister live here -- but Ivchenko said the consular officerwho interviewed him suggested that his chances for a visa would be betterif he had children to leave behind.

"It reminded me of Soviet times," the soft-spoken Ivchenko said. "Iwould like to work on a project or two in the United States, but I am notinterested in emigrating there. I belong here."

American academics report increasing problems in obtaining visas forRussian students or faculty members. Some have campaigned successfullyto secure visas; others have lost. The University of Maryland was recentlyleft without a Russian instructor when the candidate it picked was denieda visa.

Maria Lekic, director of the university's graduate program in Russianlanguage, said the faculty had gone through a careful selection processand had never had a Russian refuse to return home when a visa expired.

But the American Embassy concluded that the university salary for theRussian was too appealing compared to his modest pay at home.

"For years, the Soviets would not let people leave," she said. "Nowwhen Russia is opening up, we are behaving like Soviets."

American Embassy officials insist that they need to be wary, and notethat the black market price of forged visas has risen, giving credenceto street talk of many Russians "jumping ship."

But they also concede that there has never been a comprehensive studyon whether Russian students eventually return, or emigrate. Almost halfa million tuition-paying foreign students were enrolled in American institutionsin the 1997-98 academic year. The tough American visa policies are drivingRussian students to other countries, like Britain, which has loosened visaregulations to admit more foreign students.

Certainly, Britain won in the case of Maria Ushakova, 17, daughter ofa leading Russian businessman who wants to become a psychoanalyst and takeover her mother's practice. Her request for a visa to attend college inPennsylvania was repeatedly rejected.

Hr family says she was told there was no point in studying in the UnitedStates since Russia had no tradition of pychoanalysis and a foreign-trainedspecialist would never find work at home.

Her father then obtained a letter from a Russian clinic saying it wouldgladly hire his daughter once she finished her training.

Ms. Ushakova received a visa on her fourth try. By then, however, shehad missed the start of the school year in the United States. Offended,her father said, by all the refusals and worried that she might not beable to renew an American visa to finish her education, she is now studyingin London.

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C. Nuclear Power Industry

1.
Russia Tightens Security At Nuclear Plants
         Agence France Presse
         October 25, 1999
         (for personal useonly)

MOSCOW, Oct 25, 1999 -- (Agence France Presse) Russia has tightenedsecurity at its nuclear plants, Nuclear Energy Minister Valery Lebedevannounced Sunday, according to the Interfax news agency.

The move followed a declaration by Interior Minister Vladimir Rushayiloon Saturday said he feared new terrorist acts in Russia and accused Chechenwarlords Shamil Basayev and Khattab of "openly threatening to commit actsof sabotage" at nuclear sites.

Lebedev said the nuclear facilities had been put on a state of alert,and that inspections and exercises would be carried out.

Moscow accused Basayev and Khattab of masterminding bomb attacks inRussia that killed nearly 300 people in September.

On Sunday, the government used the threat of fresh terrorist attacksinside Russia to justify keeping the border between Chechnya and Ingushetiasealed, and maintained its shelling of the outskirts of Grozny, the Chechencapital.

The intelligence service the FSB -- formerly the KGB -- said Sundaythat Basayev and Khattab had ordered terrorist attacks against targetsinside Russia, including Moscow and Saint Petersburg.

"Bandits and terrorist are infiltrating in the crowds of displaced people,"said an FSB statement.

It said FSB agents would back up the army to stop terrorists infiltratingRussia from Chechnya via Ingushetia.

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D. Nuclear Waste

1.
Ukraine Builds Spent Fuel Storage
        Igor Kudrik
        Bellona
        October 22, 1999
        (for personal use only)

Ukraine builds dry storage to end spent fuel shipments to Russia.

Zaporozhje Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine is to licence a storage sitefor spent nuclear fuel shortly and quit shipping it to Russia - an operationthat is too expensive for the shrunken economy of the former Soviet Republic.

Ukraine operates five nuclear power plants with 14 reactor units, including11VVER-1000 type reactors. Spent fuel from VVER-1000 is shipped to KrasnoyarskCounty in Russia, where storage for this type of fuel is located at theKrasnoyarsk Mining and Chemical Combine in the closed city of Zheleznogorsk.

Last year's rate increase
Ukrainian officials say that each VVER-1000 reactor has 50-55 fuelassemblies replaced each year - one third of a VVER-1000 reactor core.Annual shipments of spent nuclear fuel to Russia cost Ukraine around $100million a year. The price tag for these services went up in 1998 whenKrasnoyarskCounty Governor, Aleksandr Lebed, said his county would not accept spentfuel from Ukraine for "small money", so the rate was increased from $285to $330 per kilogram.

The Ukrainian state-owned nuclear operator, Energoatom, sent in $57million worth of spent nuclear fuel to Russia in 1998. At that point thecompany owed its Russian contractors $13 million but still planned to ship$105 million of the nuclear cargo in 1999.

Ukraine to complete dry storage
Being unable to pay in time for shipping spent fuel to Russia anddissatisfiedwith the rate increase, Ukraine intensified construction of a spent fueldry storage site at Zaporozhje Nuclear Power Plant located in south-easternUkraine, which has six VVER-1000 reactors in operation. Contracted by theU.S. Department of Energy, American Duke Engineering & Services transferredto Zaporozhje NPP technology and equipment to build spent fuel containers.

"To build a storage site would cost us $15 million, while shipment ofspent fuel to Russia costs around $40 million for our plant each year,"Nataliya Markova, the spokeswoman at Zaporozhje NPP, told Bellona Web.

Markova also said that the licence for the storage site and containerswould be granted in November this year. The plant has already made twocontainers that can hold 24 fuel assemblies each. Altogether 380 containerswill be built to store fuel for 50 years.

The containers are made of concrete, have size 3 meters in diameter,and are filled with helium to cool spent fuel. Ukrainian Energoatom believesthat should the containers scheme function well at Zaporozhje NPP, othernuclear plants can start using them.

Krasnoyarsk Combine losing customers
The Ukraine is one of the few customers of the Krasnoyarsk Combinethat has built VVER-1000 spent fuel storage facility in order to reprocessit further at RT-2 plant. The latter was never to be completed due to thelack of funds. Kozloduy NPP in Bulgaria is another customer and operatestwo VVER-1000s. Russia operates seven VVER-1000 reactors, but the plantshave failed to make regular payments to the Krasnoyarsk Combine while inan economic netherworld.

Once Ukraine adopts the storage option, Krasnoyarsk Combine would haveto rely upon the project, promoted by the Russian Ministry for Atomic Energy,to import foreign spent fuel to Russia from rich countries for storageand reprocessing. The bill regarding amendment of the Russia legislationin favour of spent fuel imports has already been submitted to the Russian
government and been widely discussed in the State Duma, the lower houseof the Russian parliament. But so far, trains laden with Ukrainian spentfuel will continue to head for Krasnoyarsk, at least for some time.

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E. Y2K

1.
CIA Reports on Y2K Bug Pitfalls
        Tom Raum
        Associated Press
        October 21, 1999
        (for personal use only)

WASHINGTON--Old Soviet-designed nuclear plants in Russia and Ukraineare the most vulnerable to potential year/2000 computer failures, particularlyif combined with power losses, a CIA official said today.

These so-called Chernobyl-type reactors have "inherent design problems,"including lack of total containment systems, said Lawrence Gershwin, theCIA's national intelligence officer for science and technology.

"The chance of a nuclear incident in Russia, Ukraine or another statewith Soviet-designed reactors during the Y2K rollover is low," Gerswhintold a congressional hearing.

"It is, however, higher than normal because of the likelihood that thepower grid could experience failures. ... In the worst case, this couldcause a meltdown and in some cases, an accompanying release of radioactivefission gases causing localized contamination."

Still, Gershwin told the House International Relations Committee, thechance of a mishap on the scale of the 1986 accident at Chernobyl "is extremelylow."

Gershwin said the CIA has determined that Russia, Ukraine, China andIndonesia are the major countries most likely to experience "significantY2K-related failures."

Countries in Western Europe are better prepared, however Italy is notas far along as other major European countries. The CIA official said thatGermany and Japan are making "great strides," but that both economic powersgot a late start and risk some failures.

Outside the United States, Canada, Britain, Australia, Singapore andHong Kong have the lowest chances of experiencing significant problems,the CIA official said.

Gershwin told the panel that "we are highly confident that Y2K failureswill not lead to the inadvertent or unauthorized launch of a ballisticmissile by any country."

The committee is looking into potential disruptions abroad caused byY2K problems, and their impact on the millions of Americans who are livingor traveling overseas.

John O'Keefe, director of Y2K programs for the State Department, saidthe agency had inventoried 23,000 items in U.S. embassies and consulatesin 164 nations to make sure they were all Y2K-compliant.

Each of these overseas posts are prepared to report to the State Departmentat one hour past midnight local time on Jan. 1 to relay information onany potential problems, O'Keefe said.

Many countries are lagging in their efforts, and electric power grids,telecommunications systems and the medical sector appear the most vulnerable,O'Keefe said.

"If you have to rely on medical-electrical devices, you better be carefulwhere you travel to," the State Department official said.

The State Department has country-specific information on potential Y2Kproblems at its website http://travel.state.gov.

The Y2K problem is caused by computers that were programmed to readonly the last two digits of a year. That could cause them to read the year2000 as 1900, in some cases fouling up basic operations.

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F. CTBT

1.
Russia To Send Nuclear Test Treaty To Duma-Ivanov
        Los Angeles Times
        October 21, 1999
        (for personal use only)

MADRID--The Russian government is ready to present the ComprehensiveTest Ban Treaty (CTBT) to parliament for ratification, Foreign MinisterIgor Ivanov said Thursday.

After expressing regret that the U.S. Senate last week rejected theglobal treaty banning nuclear tests, Ivanov said his government was readyto request the passage of the treaty.

"The (U.S.) decision caused deep disappointment in Moscow," Ivanov saidduring a visit to Madrid. "It worries us that this decision might be ablow to the non-proliferation process for...weapons of mass destructionlike nuclear weapons."

"In Russia we will ask the Duma (lower house of parliament), under thename of the president, to ratify this important agreement," he said.

The U.S. Senate voted 51-48 last week to throw out the treaty. Morethan 150 countries have signed the deal but it cannot go into force unlessall 44 nuclear-capable states, including the United States, ratify it.

Ivanov said the Russian government was pleased that President Clintonhad vowed to continue to adhere to a voluntary moratorium on nuclear testsand said the United States would eventually ratify the treaty.

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