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Nuclear News - 10/27/99
RANSAC Nuclear News, 27 October 1999


A.  Nuclear Waste

  1. Casks For Submarine Spent Fuel, Bellona (10/27/99)
  2. U.S. To Buy Russian-Made Spent Nuclear Fuel Containers,Agence France Presse (10/27/99)
B.  U.S. – Russia General
  1. Foreigners' Access To Weapons Labs' Computers To Be Restricted,Associated Press (10/27/99)
C.  START
  1. U.S. Begins Compliance With START I Provisions, DefenseNews (11/01/99)
D.  ABM, Missile Defense
  1. Russia Warns U.S. On Missiles – Report, Reuters (10/26/99)
  2. Moscow Warns U.S. On Missile Defense, Washington Post(10/26/99)
  3. U.S. ``Troubled'' By Russia Views On Arms Treaty, Reuters(10/27/99)
E.  Y2K
  1. U.S., Russian Military Ally Against Y2K Bug, BaltimoreSun (10/27/99)

A. Nuclear Waste

1.
Casks For Submarine Spent Fuel
        Igor Kudrik and Victor Tereshkin
        Bellona
        October 27, 1999
        (for personal use only)

Russia starts manufacturing of casks for submarine spent nuclear fuel;might end shipments to Mayak plant for reprocessing.

A prototype cask for storage and transportation of spent nuclear fuel,derived from nuclear powered submarines, was presented to a big gatheringof Russian, American and Norwegian officials and a crowd of 70 reportersat Izhora plants, Leningrad County, Tuesday.

This 40-ton metal-concrete cask is a part of AMEC program, the acronymfor Arctic Military Environmental Co-operation. AMEC was established byNorwegian, American and Russian defense ministries in 1996 to solveenvironmentalhazards associated with military activities in the Arctic. AMEC's primarymission was to fill the gaps in the Co-operative Threat Reduction, or CTR,- a program run by the U.S. Department of Defense -on issues of directrelevance to environmental protection.

Russian Defense Ministry representative, Boris Alekseev, said at thepresentation that Russia had covered two thirds of the project expenses.The U.S. footed the rest of the bill. Norway, which earlier had pledgedto commit $685,000 to the project, has not earmarked money yet referringto bureaucratic problems.

Deputy Nuclear Minister, Valeriy Lebedev, present at the ceremony, saidIzhora plants would manufacture 12 casks this year and 88 during the firstpart of the year 2000. Lebedev also said that from 4 to 12 casks are requiredto defuel one submarine. All in all, it is necessary to manufacture from210 to 430 casks to have enough capacity to defuel around 150 laid up nuclear
powered submarines in the Russian Navy, around 90 of them are scatteredalong the cost line of the Kola Peninsula. Each cask has a price tag of$150.000 and a lifetime of 50 years.

But cask manufacturing solves only a part of the problem, as a storagesite for casks is not ready yet. Lebedev said that his ministry is evaluatinga number of locations, such as Andreeva Bay, Gremikha or Nerpa shipyardat the Kola Peninsula and Kamchtka Peninsula in the Russian Far East.

It remains unclear, however, whether Russia is still persistent to shipspent fuel to Mayak plant in South-Ural for reprocessing. Both therepresentativesfrom the Defense Ministry and Nuclear Ministry stressed the urgency toconstruct an intermediate storage facility for spent nuclear fuel at theKola Peninsula.

According to Lebedev, the Russian government earmarked $20 million thisyear to ecommission nuclear powered submarines. Next year, the governmenthas pledged to commit around $40 million. Decommissioning of submarinestoday, however, is mainly funded by the United States through CTR program.Scrapping of nine submarines has been paid for by CTR this year. In addition,seven strategic submarines have been cut with American funds the past fewyears.

Lebedev said that this year Russian Navy plans to defuel eight submarines.Next year, given the cask project functions well, reactors 18 submarineswill be emptied of spent fuel.

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2.
U.S. To Buy Russian-Made Spent Nuclear Fuel Containers
        Agence France Presse
        October 27, 1999
        (for personal use only)

SAINT PETERSBURG, Oct 27, 1999 -- (Agence France Presse) The UnitedStates is to buy 12
Russian-made containers designed for the storage and transport spentfuel from nuclear submarines, according to David Oliver, a representativeof the US defense ministry here.

The containers -- designed and built by a military factory in SaintPetersburg as part of the Arctic
Military Environmental Cooperation program involving Russia, the USand Norway -- will cost
$150,000 each.

Russia itself is to commission 400 containers to deal with waste from150 submarines, according to Boris Alexeyev of the Russian defense ministry.

"The containers will be used to solve the problems of storage and transportof spent fuel from nuclear submarines for reprocessing," the Russian DeputyMinister for Atomic Energy Valery Lebedev told a press conference Tuesday.

Some 10,000 cubic meters (350,000 cubic feet) of solid waste and 7,500cubic meters of liquid waste is currently being stored at Russian militarybases following the decommissioning of nuclear submarines.

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B. U.S. – Russia General

1.
Foreigners' Access To Weapons Labs' Computers To Be Restricted
        Associated Press
        October 27, 1999
        (for personal use only)

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Scientists in "sensitive" countries, such as Chinaor Iran, are to be barred from connecting with U.S. Energy Department computersthat contain even unclassified information beneficial to a nuclear weaponsprograms, department officials said Tuesday.

"We will have a policy out within the next five days that will greatlytighten foreign access" to computers at the department's weapons laboratories,department security director Eugene Habiger told a House Commerce subcommittee.

That policy is part of broad plans to tighten security at the nuclearweapons labs after security lapses allegedly allowed China to obtain nuclearsecrets at a New Mexico lab.

Internal security investigations of the three weapons labs raised theprospect this summer that foreign scientists are allowed too much accessto computer networks with unclassified information, Habiger said. Departmentofficials worry that information on the computers, while not officiallyclassified, could be used by knowledgeable scientists to aid other countries'weapons programs.

Some members of the House panel said they were skeptical of claims byEnergy Department officials that progress has been made toward solvingsecurity problems at the labs, which long have been criticized for lapsesin internal reports.

"We hope that this time what we're hearing is the truth," said Rep.Christopher Cox, R-Calif.

Some foreign scientists, including some from 25 "sensitive" countries,have been cleared to access unclassified computer systems at the LawrenceLivermore and Los Alamos national laboratories, said Brad Peterson, anEnergy Department computer security expert. One scientist from Iran, forexample, has access to the unclassified system at Los Alamos, Petersonsaid.

The department does not disclose the 25 countries considered "sensitive"except for China, Iran and Russia.

Energy Department officials said some of the foreign scientists areworking on projects unrelated to nuclear weapons, such as research on climatechange and weather patterns, while others are at the labs under agreementswith the International Atomic Energy Agency and other international entities.

Such scientists have computer access approved and controlled by labofficials. The new regulations will require individual security plans foreach scientist and force the labs to block foreigners' access to sensitiveunclassified information.

The regulations will end direct access for scientists from "sensitive"countries to unclassified computers containing "national security information,"said John Gilligan, a department security official. National securityinformation,he said, includes data that could be used in nuclear weapons programs.

The new regulations stem from security lapses at the labs found in theinvestigation of Wen Ho Lee, a Taiwan-born American scientist at Los Alamossuspected in the alleged theft of nuclear secrets by China. Lee, who wasfired in March, has denied spying for the Chinese.

Energy Department investigators trying to see if hackers could get intothe unclassified computers entered a network last year at the Sandia NationalLaboratory in New Mexico and gained  access to "a regular computerthat would be at a researcher's desk," Peterson told the House panel.

Officials worry that a spy working inside a lab could put classifiedinformation on an unclassified network to be retrieved by foreign agents.The classified and unclassified networks are separate, department officialssaid, and the labs are working on ways to prevent classified informationfrom being moved onto unclassified computers.

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C. START

1.
U.S. Begins Compliance With START I Provisions
        Defense News
        November 1, 1999
        (for personal use only)

The U.S. Air Force and Army Corps of Engineers began destroying 150Minuteman III ballistic missile silos in eastern North Dakota in an effort,slated to conclude by November 2001, to comply with the Strategic ArmsReduction Treaty I, an Air Force official said. Veit Companies has beencontracted to carry out the $12 million demolition program with explosivesfirm DemTech, DuBois, Ill., said Air Force Staff Sgt. Rich Romero, spokesmanfor Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D.

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D. ABM, Missile Defense

1.
Russia Warns U.S. On Missiles - Report
        Reuters
        October 26, 1999
        (for personal use only)

WASHINGTON, Oct 26 (Reuters) - Moscow warned the United States Mondaythat it has enough weapons to overwhelm any anti-ballistic missile system,and threatened to deploy more atomic warheads if Washington builds a nationalmissile defence system, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

In a story from Moscow, the Post quoted Nikolai Mikhailov, first deputydefence minister, as saying that Russia's arsenal has such ``technicalcapabilities'' to ``overcome'' any antimissile defences.

He told the Post the technology was available and would be used if ``theUnited States pushes us toward it.''

His comments followed last week's meeting between Russian and U.S. officialsto discuss possible amendments to the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty(ABM).

Russia on Friday said talks with the United States on strategic armscuts would become pointless if the landmark ABM treaty was altered -- amove Washington has been pressing for.

The ABM pact outlaws defence systems designed to shoot down enemy warheads.Washington is trying to amend the treaty to permit it to build a limiteddefence against any attack on the United States or on U.S. troops stationedabroad by what it regards as ``rogue states'' such as North Korea or Iran.

The Clinton administration has said it will decide next summer whetherto go ahead with a limited missile defence system, which would requirechanging or abandoning the treaty, but Russian officials have warned thatsuch a move could unravel two decades of arms control efforts.

Russia's key method of trying to overcome any missile defences wouldbe to deploy more nuclear warheads atop its missiles, in the calculationthat it could outnumber and penetrate any defensive shield, the Post said.

Mikhailov gave few specifics, but said Russia could target any ABM facilitywith a nuclear warhead.

Speaking to Russia's Council on Foreign and Defence Policy, Mikhailovalso said that Russia lacks resources for an up-to-date conventional militaryforce.

Referring to the high-tech weaponry that NATO deployed in last spring'sbombing campaign against Yugoslavia, he said such advanced weapons makeup only 30 percent of Russia's armed forces, compared with 80 percent inthe West.

``This will cost us dearly,'' he said. ``We will not catch up to Westerncountries in 10 or 15 years,'' the paper quoted him as saying.

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2.
Moscow Warns U.S. On Missile Defense
        David Hoffman
        Washington Post
        October 26, 1999
        (for personal use only)

Russia Says Its Arsenal Could Beat Any System

MOSCOW, Oct. 25—The Russian military warned the United States todaythat it has enough weaponry to overwhelm any anti-ballistic missile system,and it threatened to deploy more atomic warheads if the United States buildsa national missile defense system.

Nikolai Mikhailov, the first deputy defense minister, told reportersthat "our arsenal has such technical capabilities" to "overcome" any antimissiledefenses. "This technology can realistically be used and will be used ifthe United States pushes us toward it," he said.

His comments came on the heels of the latest meeting between Russianand American officials last week to discuss possible amendments to the1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. The Russian military adamantly opposesany changes to the treaty, which prohibits both countries from buildingsystems capable of stopping missile attacks.

The Clinton administration has said it will decide next summer whetherto go ahead with a limited missile defense system, which would requirechanging or abandoning the treaty. Russian officials have responded withincreasingly vocal warnings that such a move could unravel two decadesof arms control efforts.

Russia's key method of trying to overcome any missile defenses wouldbe to deploy more nuclear warheads atop its missiles, in the calculationthat it could outnumber and penetrate any defensive shield. Mikhailov didnot offer specifics, but he said it was easier for Russia to deploy morewarheads than for the United States to build an effective defense againstthem. "Russia's expenses would be several times . . . lower than the costof implementing plans for setting up a national missile defense system,"he said.

He also said Russia could target any ABM facility with a nuclear warhead.

One way Russia could gain more warheads would be to slow the dismantlementof existing multiple-warhead missiles. Another way would be to turn thesingle-warhead Topol-M missile, now being deployed in limited numbers,into a three-warhead delivery system. The Topol-M also has what Russianofficials have described as countermeasures against an antimissile system,such as a lower trajectory and shorter engine burn, which would help missilesdodge a space-based tracking system.

However, there are major obstacles to any Russian attempts to expandits nuclear arsenal. Prolonging the life of existing missiles could becostly. Many missiles have already passed the period in which they wereto have been taken down. In addition, Russia has no resources to designand build new weapons. Even the most modern missile, the Topol-M, is beingdeployed at a rate of only 10 missiles a year.

Ilya Klebanov, the deputy prime minister in charge of the military-industrialcomplex, said Friday that while "we have every technical means" to proceedif the United States pulls out of the ABM treaty, "there's no funding."

Mikhailov, speaking to Russia's Council on Foreign and Defense Policy,an elite group of policymakers, also said that Russia lacks resources foran up-to-date conventional military force. Referring to the high-tech weaponrythat NATO deployed in last spring's bombing campaign against Yugoslavia,he said such advanced weapons make up only 30 percent of Russia's armedforces, compared with 80 percent in the West.

"This will cost us dearly," he said. "We will not catch up to Westerncountries in 10 or 15 years."

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3.
U.S. ``Troubled'' By Russia Views On Arms Treaty
        Randall Mikkelsen
        Reuters
        October 27, 1999
        (for personal use only)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States said Tuesday it was ``troubled''by Russian warnings over development of a U.S. missile defense system,as a dilemma facing President Clinton over whether to build the systemintensified.

``I was troubled by the reports today of some statements by the Russianmilitary,'' Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said, referring to atop Russian defense official's statement that Russia could deploy morenuclear warheads to counter a U.S. ballistic missile defense system.

She told a news conference that First Deputy Defense Minister NikolaiMikhailov's warning was an ``overreaction'' to Washington's interest indeveloping a system to defend against attacks from ``rogue states.''

``We have a joint interest ... in dealing with that problem, and soI don't want anyone, whether here or in Russia, to be reviving old problems,''Albright said.

Clinton is to decide by next June on whether to go ahead with the system,which is under development.

Congress in March overwhelmingly backed deployment. The United Statesis trying to negotiate amendments to the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM)treaty, which bans missile defense systems, to allow what it says is its``limited'' system.

Clinton's dilemma is that Russia remains opposed to any changes in thetreaty to permit the deployment of the system.

Arms control experts said Tuesday that Clinton was unlikely to win Russianagreement to change the ABM treaty and would most likely defer a decisionon deploying the missile defense system until after his successor takesoffice in 2001.

RUSSIAN DEFENSE OFFICIAL'S WARNING

Mikhailov was quoted in the Washington Post Tuesday as telling reportersthat Russia was technically able to overcome antimissile defenses and wasable to deploy more warheads than the United States could defend against.

``This technology can realistically be used and will be used if theUnited States pushes us toward it,'' Mikhailov said.

The White House played down the comments and said it remained optimisticof reaching an understanding with Russia. ''I think those comments missedthe point,'' White House spokesman Joe Lockhart said.

Washington says the system is meant to protect against missile launchesfrom potential nuclear states such as North Korea, rather than a nucleargiant such as Russia.

``We believe that we're moving forward in a constructive way,'' Lockhartsaid.

RUSSIA SEEN UNLIKELY TO CHANGE TREATY

Some arms control experts said the Russian government, under pressurefrom a parliament opposed to arms concessions and facing elections in December,had little incentive to go along with the United States.

``The Russians have no strategic and certainly no financial interestin helping the U.S. solve its ABM problem,'' said Dan Goure, an arms controlscholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Washington has offered to help Russia complete a missile-tracking radarsystem. A better inducement would be financial aid, such as forgiving debt,said Goure, a former U.S. Defense Department and arms control official.

``If you're going to bribe the Russians, then you at least ought tooffer them a decent bribe,'' he said.

Furthermore, the U.S. negotiating position is weakened by Clinton'sdeparture from office in 2001 and the U.S. Senate's rejection of the nucleartest ban treaty, experts said. Some Russian politicians are still steamingover the expansion of NATO, and the NATO air war against Yugoslavia.

``They (the Russians) are not impressed by our past record on this wholebusiness, that we will necessarily do in a few years what this presidentsays now that he intends to do,'' said former arms negotiator Raymond Garthoff,a scholar at the Brookings Institution think tank.

But Garthoff said it was still possible Clinton could negotiate an acceptableamendment to the ABM treaty.

Experts were broadly in agreement that Clinton would find a way to buytime for further negotiations with Russia, perhaps by proceeding with deploymentnext June but setting a later date for a final decision, or by simply sayingthe system's development was not far enough along.

``I suspect it will be some decision that maybe still kicks the canfurther down the road,'' Garthoff said.

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E. Y2K

1.
U.S., Russian Military Ally Against Y2K Bug
        Tom Bowman
        Baltimore Sun
        October 27, 1999
        (for personal use only)

At midnight Dec. 31, they'll sit side by side to watch for mistakes

WASHINGTON -- When midnight strikes on Dec. 31, U.S. and Russian militaryofficers will be sitting side-by-side at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado,trying to ensure that the gremlins of Y2K don't spur an accidental launchof nuclear weapons.

They hope to dispel fears that a year 2000 computer glitch will blindRussia's early-warning system or send the false signal that Washingtonhas launched a missile, leading to the ultimate nightmare: a decision byMoscow to counterattack.

Experts for both nations say they are confident there is no seriousthreat of a Y2K-related missile launch. But to guard against even the remotepossibility, the Center for Year 2000 Strategic Stability at Peterson willuse information from U.S. satellites and ground-based sensors fed throughcomputers that are clear of any Y2K bugs.

Any uncertainties or misunderstandings detected in Moscow would be resolvedby the Russians hunched over computer terminals in a windowless second-floorroom in Colorado Springs.

"If something pops up on a Russian screen in Moscow, that could be validatedat Peterson," said Maj. Perry Nouis, a spokesman for the Air Force SpaceCommand, which is running the center.

Still, some members of Congress and nuclear weapons experts want U.S.and Russian officers to go further, with one critic calling the much-vauntedcentera "Band-Aid" approach. These critics contend that the only sure wayto prevent a mistaken nuclear exchange is to "de-alert" thousands of nuclearmissiles -- which can be fired in minutes -- by removing warheads or thekeys used by officers to initiate a launch.

`Unjustifiable' readiness

"Maintaining hair-trigger readiness for nuclear confrontation isunjustifiablein today's world," said Rep. Edward J. Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat."The potential for a missile launch due to misinterpretation of warningsystems may well be higher on Jan. 1, 2000, than at any other time sincethe start of the Cold War."

Last week, Helen Caldicott and 10 other anti-nuclear activists tookout a full-page ad in the New York Times in which they pressed for theUnited States to de-alert the estimated 2,000 nuclear weapons that canbe fired in minutes. Such action, they said, is "the only sure way" toprevent a mistaken nuclear attack.

"I think Y2K is another in a long list of reasons why we should notmaintain our nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alert," said Bruce G. Blair,a nuclear weapons expert at the Brookings Institution.

Blair has long pressed for a missile de-alert, fearing that a coup oreven a low-level Russian officer could precipitate a nuclear exchange.

In the early 1990s, Blair said, President George Bush de-alerted hundredsof B-52 bombers, as well as 450 of 1,000 Minuteman missiles, while RussianPresident Mikhail S. Gorbachev made similar moves.

But the United States still has 2,400 land- and sea-based nuclear warheadspoised for immediate launch out of its 6,000-warhead inventory, Blair noted,and Russia has a comparable number set to launch in minutes.

Power of 100,000 Hiroshimas

The estimated 5,000 hair-trigger missiles from both sides have the blastpower of 100,000 of the atomic bombs that hit Hiroshima, Blair added.

"They could be fired almost immediately to targets halfway around theplanet," he said. "We shouldn't have to be worrying about these things10 years after the Cold War. We should be able to relax a little bit."

Last year a government-wide study recommended against any further effortto de-alert the nuclear force. Those who took part in the study said theyfeared that the United States' immediate ability to launch nuclear weaponscould be dangerously delayed by weeks or even months.

"These things are very, very tedious processes," said a senior Pentagonofficial involved in the talks. Further de-alerting could leave America'snuclear forces vulnerable to a surprise attack, the official said, notingthat the once hair-trigger B-52s now take 24 to 48 hours to achieve alertstatus.

Warheads removed from Minuteman missiles could take weeks or monthsto be made ready for launch.

And despite the end of the Cold War, officials based their decisionagainst further de-alerting on uncertainty in Russia, he said, such asthe possible "re-emergence of a hostile Russian leadership."

They also foresaw difficulties in verifying whether Russians would abideby a de-alert status and the fear of a "race to realert" should a crisisoccur, the official said.

What emerged from the study was a decision for "shared early-warning"data between the United States and Russia, a move that will begin in Decemberand continue through January, the Pentagon official said. A permanent U.S.and Russian center is expected to open in Moscow in 2001.

In addition, the United States has agreed to notify Russia before itlaunches any rocket, even one bearing a satellite into space.

Both the senior defense official and Blair say they doubt there willbe any misinformation or false alarm caused by Russia's early-warning system,even if it is infected by a Y2K bug that causes a computer to misinterpretthe last two zeros to mean the year 1900. More likely, they say, computerswould simply shut down and offer no data.

But Blair says that even if the computers "go black," it could bedisconcertingto Russian leaders who have the ability to launch missiles within minutes.

`Accident waiting to happen'

In 1995, Russia's early-warning system registered a false alarm afterNorway launched a scientific rocket. Moscow could not be sure whether thelaunch came from U.S. or British submarines operating in the area, Blairsaid.

That peaceful rocket "activated President Yeltsin's nuclear briefcase,"Sen. Richard G. Lugar, an Indiana Republican, said at a Senate hearinglast month.

The problem was finally recognized after about eight minutes, Blairsaid. He noted that the Russians have a 10-minute window between a possibleenemy rocket launch and a decision on whether to launch a counterattack.

"The real culprit is not Y2K but rather the hair trigger on U.S. andRussian forces," Blair said. "The high combat readiness of these arsenals,particularly Russia's, is an accident waiting to happen."

But the senior defense official said he was confident that the sharingof the early-warning data and the notification of any U.S. missile launchesare enough to prevent any mistaken nuclear exchanges.

"We think we're taking the steps needed to deal with the potential problem,"he said.

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