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Nuclear News - 10/29/99
RANSAC Nuclear News, 29 October 1999


A.  Nuclear Power Industry

  1. Norilsk Reactor Put Out Of Use, Bellona (10/27/99)
B.  U.S. – Russia General
  1. US Aims to Upset International Security Principles, ItarTass (10/27/99)
  2. Russians Search American's Apt, Associated Press(10/28/99)
  3. U.S. Researcher's Home Searched, Moscow Times (10/29/99)
C.  Russian Military
  1. Russian Premier Vows To Rebuild Military Might, Reuters(10/28/99)
D.  ABM, Missile Defense
  1. Russia Will Not Haggle With U.S. On ABM, Agence FrancePresse (10/29/99)

A. Nuclear Power Industry

1.
Norilsk Reactor Put Out Of Use
        Igor Kudrik
        Bellona
        October 27, 1999
        (for personal use only)

The world's north-most nuclear reactor in north-western Siberia belongsto history.

Spent fuel from the north-most nuclear reactor in Norilsk, north-westernSiberia, was shipped to Murmansk last month and then further down to Mayakreprocessing plant in South Urals.

The reactor was operated by Norilsk Mining Combine since 1966 and issituated four kilometres from the city of Norilsk. The reactor is saidto have been used to define the quality of the ore, mined by the combine,by irradiating it and conducting spectrometer analysis. The reactor becameobsolete when the combine - a biggest Russian ore exporter - bought up-to-date
spectrometers abroad.

In June 1998, the reactor core containing 71 fuel assemblies was removedand placed into an on-site storage pool. The fuel loaded for the firstand last time in 1966 was only slightly irradiated what proves that thereactor has been hardly in use during its 33-year lifetime. Fuel enrichmentwas not higher than 10 percent.

In September this year, a team from Murmansk Shipping Company, the operatorthe nuclear powered icebreakers fleet, arrived at Norilsk to ship the fuelaway. The nuclear cargo was loaded into TUK-19 type transport casks, designedto accommodate fuel from research reactors, put on truck and transportedto Dudinka seaport. There the containers were placed onboard Kandalakshadry cargo ship that headed to Murmansk. In Murmansk the containers weretransferred to railway cars built to transport spent fuel, derived fromresearch reactors, that proceeded to Mayak reprocessing plant in SouthUrals.

The future of the reactor vessel itself remains uncertain. No plansregarding its further use or decommissioning have been announced so far.

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B. U.S. –Russia General

1.
US Aims to Upset International Security Principles
        Itar Tass
        October 27, 1999
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW, October 27 (Itar-Tass) - The United States actions are aimedat upsetting international security norms and principles, Colonel-GeneralLeonid Ivashov, chief of the Russian Defence Ministry's international militarycooperation agency, stated in Krasnaya Zvezda (Red Star) newspaper issueon Wednesday.

He noted that these actions of the Washington administration amountto usurping the right to make decisions for other states and whole regions,attempting to destroy progress reached in strategic nuclear arms limitationover many years.

The United States is not quite conscientiously observing the START-1Treaty. It resorts to various pretexts and is trying to interpret the textin such a way as to have an opportunity to build up its military potential,to go beyond the framework of the treaty.

The same happens with regard to the 1972 ABM Treaty. The treaty hasbeen perfectly effective for almost three decades. And now Washington,insisting on an equal number of nuclear delivery vehicles, claims alsogreater defences. And this means tipping the strategic balance. This move,naturally, does not suit Russia. Other countries are not pleased, either.The People's Republic of China follows these attempts with concern. Thesewas a sharp response from France.

The US adopts a typical pattern, Ivashov notes. First, a threat is invented.Then a decision is made and the funding is started. Then the decision issaid not to be final, and negotiations to alter the treaty are suggested.The arms-twisting tactic is adopted unless the partner agrees. "The Russianside precedes from the need to keep the START arms limitation going, while
preserving and strengthening its mainstay, the 1972 Antiballistic MissileTreaty," Ivashov noted.

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2.
Russians Search American's Apt
        Associated Press
        October 28, 1999
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW –– Russian security agents searched the apartment of an Americanresearching environmental hazards posed by nuclear facilities in Russia, the Interfax news agency reported Thursday.

The FSB, a successor agency to the KGB, searched Josh Handler's apartmentin Moscow and took away notebooks and a computer, the report said.

Handler, who was researching his Princeton Ph.D. thesis, was invitedto Russia by the U.S. and Canada Institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

The institutes' director, Alexei Yablokov, denied Handler did anythingwrong and protested the search, Interfax reported.

The report did not say if Handler was present during the search, orif he had been questioned or detained.

Yablokov said the search fits a pattern of harassment against environmentalresearchers in Russia.

There is widespread concern about the threat posed by Russia's nuclearwaste facilities, whose condition is difficult to assess because the Russiangovernment tries to keep information about waste dumps secret.

In 1996 the FSB arrested former naval officer Alexander Nikitin, whohad written a report on decaying nuclear waste dumps in the Russian Arctic.He was held in solitary confinement for 10 months on charges of spying.
His case has not been resolved.

The FSB has said foreign spy agencies are gathering environmental informationaiming to damage Russia's security, but have provided no evidence.

Handler had been gathering material about the Russian navy's policiesin handling nuclear material. His dissertation was on how non-governmentalgroups like Greenpeace can force governments to solve environmental problems.

Such groups have revealed that the navy has put spent nuclear fuel rodsin cracked and leaky drums in open fields.

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3.
U.S. Researcher's Home Searched
        Moscow Times
        October 29, 1999
        (for personal use only)

The Federal Security Service searched the Moscow apartment of Josh Handler,a U.S. researcher from Princeton University who is studying nuclear safetyissues in Russia, Handler said Thursday.

Eight to 10 FSB officers showed up at his apartment at 4:30 p.m. Wednesdayand spent more than seven hours going through his papers and belongings,Handler said.

They seized a portable computer, notes, an address book and tapes forhis answering machine, he said.

Handler, a Ph.D. candidate, is in Russia on an exchange program at theRussian Academy of Sciences.

The reasons for the search were not immediately clear and the FSB refusedto comment.

Alexei Yablokov, a renowned Russian environmentalist, said the searchwas part of a wave of FSB harassment of scientists and activists workingin areas of nuclear safety.

Handler, a former Greenpeace anti-nuclear campaign coordinator, is doingresearch on nuclear safety and nonproliferation issues in Russia.

Yablokov, whom Handler called late Wednesday night after the searchwas over, said Handler was discouraged from making phone calls or contactingU.S. Embassy officials during the search.

Handler turned to the embassy for assistance Thursday, said an embassyofficial who declined to be named.

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C. Russian Military

1.
Russian Premier Vows To Rebuild Military Might
        Reuters
        October 28, 1999
        (for personal use only)

Oct 28, 1999 -- (Reuters) Prime Minister Vladimir Putin vowed on Thursdayto rebuild Russia's military might because of growing instability at homeand abroad and the increasing use of force in world affairs.

"The government has undertaken to rebuild and strengthen the militarymight of the state to respond to new geopolitical realities, both externaland internal threats," Putin told officers at a navy base in Russia's FarEast.

Putin said military spending would be increased by 57 percent to 146billion roubles ($5.7 billion) in 2000.

"If we let our defense potential weaken, our independence as a sovereignstate will be compromised," he said.

Moscow's once-mighty forces crumbled with the Soviet Union and the militaryis now underfunded and demoralised.

Putin said Russia had to reconsider military strategy.

"Events in the North Caucasus, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan testifythat new threats have emerged on our southern frontiers," Putin said."Developmentsin Europe, in Yugoslavia, also prompt a lot of thought."

Putin, whose hard line on Chechnya has won him wide support in Russia,took the opportunity to reinforce his image as a strong leader ahead ofnext year's presidential election.

He went to sea aboard a rocket-carrying cruiser and watched severalmissile launches. Last week, he flew a sortie in a fighter jet during atrip to Russia's North Caucasus.

Putin saw his approval ratings soar in opinion polls after he sent troopsinto rebel Chechnya to pursue Islamic rebels who had twice invaded neighboringDagestan and whom Moscow blames for devastating apartment block bombingsacross Russia.

Russia's operation in Chechnya has drawn criticism from the West, whichhas expressed concern about civilian suffering and deaths. But Putin againsaid the campaign would go on.

"You should always fight terrorism to the end and you should alwayskeep your gunpowder dry," he said.

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D. ABM, Missile Defense

1.
Russia Will Not Haggle With U.S. On ABM
        Agence France Presse
        October 29, 1999
        (for personal use only)

PARIS, Oct 29, 1999 -- (Agence France Presse) Moscow will not hagglewith the United States on the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty, Russian ForeignMinister Igor Ivanov said here Thursday in denouncing "contradictory messages"from Washington on the issue.

"We are not engaging in any haggling with the Americans on the ABM treaty,"Ivanov said during a breakfast meeting with reporters on the occasion ofhis visit to France.

"The messages we are receiving from the US administration on the ABMtreaty are contradictory," he added, pointing out that Russia had fileda motion seeking backing from the United Nations.

Russian First Deputy Defense Minister Nikolai Mikhailov warned Wednesdaythat if Washington breached the two nations' ABM treaty, Russia would defenditself against any new US system by improving its arsenal.

Ivanov also expressed concern at the failure of the US Senate to ratifythe Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

"This constitutes a very dangerous signal in the disarmament process,"he said. "This process has been long and difficult and was compromisedby the nuclear tests carried out by Pakistan and India."

Speaking later at a joint press conference with French counterpart HubertVedrine, Ivanov reiterated that the conflict in the rebel republic of Chechnyawas an internal matter to be resolved by Russia.

"What is happening in Chechnya is not war but an anti-terrorist operation,"he said, adding that Moscow was doing its utmost to reach a politicalsettlement.

"As far as the bandit groups, everything is being done to ensure theyno longer threaten the security of civilians in Chechnya as well as otherparts of the Russian Federation," he added.

The Russian minister arrived in Tuesday in Paris, where he addressedthe UNESCO general conference and met with French officials.

He was to leave the French capital later Thursday.

On Friday he is scheduled to meet in Moscow with US Deputy Secretaryof State Strobe Talbott, but their talks were expected to focus on thesituation in Nagorno-Karabakh and the Caucasus in general.

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