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Nuclear News - 11/08/99
RANSAC Nuclear News, 08 November 1999


A.  Y2K

    1. U.S. DOE Team Observes Russian Y2K Nuclear Plant Drill,USIA (11/05/99)
B.  Congressional Action
    1. In Session: Congress.  Back to Bipartisanship [excerpt],Washington Post (11/08/99)
C.  ABM, Missile Defense
    1. Russia Test-Fires Second Missile, RFE/RL (11/05/99)
    2. Missile Flexing, Washington Post (11/08/99)
D.  U.S. – Russia General
    1. Pol Fears Soviets Hid A-Bombs Across U.S., New York Post(11/07/99)

A. Y2K

1.
U.S. DOE Team Observes Russian Y2K Nuclear Plant Drill
         USIA
         November 5, 1999
         (for personal useonly)

Russian nuclear plant workers "generally performed well" during an emergencydrill observed by a U.S. technical team, according to a press release bythe U.S. Department of Energy.

The team was invited to observe a Russian Y2K nuclear power plant emergencydrill November 1 in response to a request from Secretary of Energy BillRichardson.

The aim of the drill was to train Russian personnel in emergency proceduresrequired in case of Y2K-related problems. The U.S. technical team observedthe drill and recommended that future drills should address such issuesas busy telephones and the need for improved flow of information betweenthe technical support staff and the crisis team.

The drill included the Kursk nuclear power plant south of Moscow, theRosenergoatom (REA) nuclear facility crisis center in Moscow, and atransmission/gridsystem dispatch center in Moscow.

Richardson said that the Department of Energy is prepared to providethe Russian government with technical assistance "in order to do everythingpossible to ensure that the transition to the next century is a smoothone for Russian nuclear power plants."

Following is the text of the press release:

(begin text)

U.S. Department of Energy
November 4, 1999

ENERGY DEPARTMENT OBSERVES RUSSIAN NUCLEAR POWER PLANT Y2K DRILL

-- No Major Problems Found; More Drills to Come

In response to a request from Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson, RussianMinister of Atomic Energy Yevgeniiy Adamov invited a Department of Energytechnical team to observe a Y2K nuclear power plant emergency drill onNovember 1. The DOE team reported that the Russian workers at the plantgenerally performed well, with issues that should be addressed in futuredrills such as the need for improved flow of information between the technicalsupport staff and the crisis team, and busy telephones.

The drill simulated the failure of the "SKALA" data information computersand plant shutdown at the Kursk nuclear power plant units 1, 2, 3 and 4;the disconnection of the Kursk power plant from 750 kV transmission lines;the startup of the Kursk emergency diesel generators; and the reconnectionof Kursk to the grid by dispatches from an alternate power supply (the"southern" 110kV transmission line).

"The Department of Energy stands ready to continue to provide technicalassistance to the Russian government in order to do everything possibleto ensure that the transition to the next century is a smooth one for Russiannuclear power plants," said Secretary Richardson.

The purpose of Monday's drill was to train personnel in emergency responseprocedures needed in case of Y2K related problems. U.S. participants observedthe drill and provided information and lessons learned based on U.S. experiencewith similar drills.

The drill involved operators at the Kursk nuclear power plant severalhundred miles south of Moscow, the Rosenergoatom (REA) nuclear facilitycrisis center in Moscow, and a transmission/grid system dispatch centerin Moscow. The drill started at 12:30 p.m., lasted about two hours andinvolved approximately 75 people.

For the drill, the Kursk nuclear power plant notified the REA crisiscenter of the SKALA computer failure. The crisis center used phones, cellphones and pagers to call up staff for the emergency. Kursk provided informationto REA using normal and backup communications procedures; the informationwas analyzed and exchanged with government ministries, technical institutesand regulatory government agencies.  All participants joined in apost-drill evaluation to review emergency crisis procedures and systems.

The Energy Department sent technical experts who are part of a comprehensiveeffort to improve safety at 65 operating Soviet-designed nuclear powerreactors at 21 nuclear power plants in nine countries. Russia has 29 operatingnuclear power reactors. The DOE safety program reduces the likelihood ofa nuclear accident through training, technology and equipment transfer,in-depth safety assessments, and a heightened focus on regulatory practices.

The Department of Energy is working closely with the International AtomicEnergy Agency and the International Science and Technology Center in Moscowto assist the Russian government's efforts to minimize Y2K issues associatedwith Soviet-designed reactors in Russia.

Additional Russian nuclear power plant Y2K readiness drills are expectedlater this year.

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B. Congressional Action

1.
In Session: Congress.  Back to Bipartisanship [excerpt]
        Helen Dewar
        Washington Post
        November 8, 1999
        (for personal use only)

'. . .
BACK TO BIPARTISANSHIP: After a year of deepening partisan divisionsover foreign policy on Capitol Hill, cooperation across party lines amonginternationalist-minded senators appears to be on the rise.

In one example of this, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman JohnW. Warner (R-Va.), who opposed the nuclear test ban treaty that the Senaterejected last month, is pushing for a bipartisan commission to help comeup with modifications that could lead to an approvable treaty. Warner hopesto get some action before Congress adjourns for the year.

In another case, a group of senators, led by Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.)and Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.), senior members of the Armed Services andForeign Relations committees respectively, are spearheading an informalbipartisan effort to work on problems affecting U.S.-Russian relations.

From discussions during a trip to Russia last November and more talksover a spaghetti dinner hosted by Levin a couple of weeks ago, Levin, Lugarand other senators of both parties--ultimately 15 to 20 in all--plan tomeet monthly to explore problem areas and try to come up with ways to improverelations.

"The idea is to get a bipartisan group to spend some serious time onthe major issues in the U.S.-Russian relationship in an effort to producea more effective, stable relationship," including cooperation to curb weaponsproliferation, Levin said.

Lugar said he also wants to try to improve communication between lawmakersand the White House on Russia-related issues. "It's not really clear whatadministration policies are and it's difficult for the administration tofind what the Senate supports," Lugar said.
. . .'

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C. ABM . Missile Defense

1.
Russia Test-Fires Second Missile
        RFE/RL
        November 5, 1999
        (for personal use only)

Following the launch of an anti-missile rocket from the Sary-Shagantest site in Kazakhstan earlier this week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 November1999), Russia test-fired another such tactical missile on 4 November fromthe Kapustin Yar test site in Astrakhan Oblast. Commander of the StrategicRocket Forces Vladimir Yakovlev said that the launch "extends the lifeservice" of the SS-21 missile to 22 years, Interfax reported. The SS-21was first deployed in 1976 and an improved version was introduced 10 yearslater, in 1986.

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2.
Missile Flexing
        Washington Post
        November 8, 1999
        (for personal use only)

STRATEGIC DIALOGUE between the two great nuclear powers, the UnitedStates and Russia, is coming down to the flexing of real and imagined missiles.The other day the Russians fired off a short-range interceptor missile-- a possible hint of a more ambitious shield to come. On any given day,its American advocates are urging a program to go beyond limited "theater"missile defense and to organize a full national missile defense.

Here lies one of the paramount, and most neglected, issues of Americansecurity policy. Americans insist the new program would be intended todefend just against rogue-state and terrorist missiles. But Russians seeit as the core of a program that could overwhelm their own missile-defenseforces. This is why Moscow opposes American-sought changes in the 1972
antiballistic missile (ABM) treaty -- changes that would propel theUnited States down a broad missile-defense path. The same basic considerationsextend to Beijing as well.

There is real harm in these rhetorical and symbolic exchanges. Theyignore the considerations of greatest psychological and political weighton each side. The United States, which has committed itself to the seekingof global stability, thereby needs a missile defense to stand up to rogueswherever they may be. To treat the new Russia the way Washington treatedthe old Soviet Union, as the single nuclear threat, will no longer do.Russia now is in a stage of acute internal shock. Its insecurities mustbe respected. This means that a new American national missile defense mustnot tread on Russia's legitimate fear for the integrity of its deterrent.It is the kind of project that urgently needs to be handed off to thenegotiators.

What retards negotiation, on the American side anyway, is unusuallyfierce partisanship in Congress. A strong clique there sees a chance notmerely to frustrate President Clinton's strategy but to undo the wholeCold War structure of arms control agreements and inspection proceduresand to substitute for it a doctrine of defending America chiefly by unilateralapplications of American power. This is largely a matter of faith, notlogic, for those who feel that way. But there is a constituency availableto support it, mostly in the Republican Party.

A careful revision of the anti-missile treaty can open the way to thesort of missile defense that makes nuclear sense and that contributes toan improved relationship with Russia. A curvy line can be drawn to ensurethe United States of the missile defense it needs to conduct a global policyand to ensure Russia of the security and respect it needs while it isconvalescingfrom calamitous systemic breakdown. It may not be too late for PresidentClinton to manage a diplomatic attack on these lines.

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D. U.S. – Russia General

1.
Pol Fears Soviets Hid A-Bombs Across U.S.
        Vincent Morris
        New York Post
        November 7, 1999
        (for personal use only)

WASHINGTON - A congressman who's a Russia expert says the FBI is afraidto ask Russia a direct and potentially shocking question: Are suitcase-sizednuclear bombs buried in the United States - including New York?

The FBI won't comment, but congressional sources said agents have alreadyconducted at least one search - in Brainerd, Minn. - for secret stockpilesof everything from nuclear weapons to pistols, radios, maps and currency.

Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.), citing the congressional testimony of KGBdefector Vasili Mitrokhin and Russian General Alexander Lebed, said theformer Soviet Union produced 132 suitcase-sized, 10-kiloton nuclear weapons,but has accounted for only 48.

The others are assumed to be have been sold to other nations or remaindeployed at secret sites.

Weldon said FBI Director Louis Freeh, in a conversation two weeks ago,acknowledged the possibility that hidden weapons caches exist in the UnitedStates but has refused to perform anything but a perfunctory search.

Weldon said that until Russia agrees to turn over KGB files on the locationof the suitcases, it's highly unlikely the FBI can find the stockpiles,which are believed possibly to exist somewhere in upstate New York as wellas in California, Texas, Montana and Minnesota.

"The administration is not asking the right questions," said Weldon,who has visited Russia 19 times and teaches a class on the country at WidenerUniversity in Pennsylvania.

"There is no doubt that the Soviets stored material in this country.The question is what and where," Weldon told The Post.

He said he believes the Clinton administration is reluctant to broachthe subject with Russia for fear of causing trouble for President BorisYeltsin, who is already weak and with whom the United States has much invested.

Two weeks ago the House Armed Services subcommittee on military researchand development, which Weldon chairs, held a hearing at which a formerKGB agent and a British scholar added fuel to the buried weapons reports.

Col. Oleg Gordievsky, the highest-ranking KGB agent ever to defect,and Christopher Andrew, a professor at Cambridge University and authorof a book about the KGB, both testified that they can't say with certaintythat small nuclear bombs are buried in caches across the United States.

But given what KGB documents have shown and the experience of otherNATO countries, both men said they believe that such caches exist.

Russian experts, including Stanislav Lunev, a former Russian militaryintelligence official who defected to the United States in 1992, have saidthe KGB had standing orders to blow up power stations, dams, telecommunicationscenters and landing strips for Air Force One in the event of war.

The suggestion that the Soviets, during the days of the Cold War, smuggledweapons and other equipment with a military use into the United Statesis not new.

But the startling charges gained further traction in September, whenprosecutors in Belgium confirmed that they had found three secret depotsfilled with radio sets that had been buried in the 1960s.

Steve Berry, an FBI spokesman, last Thursday said the agency had "nocomment" about reports of possible suitcase bombs and buried weapons cachesin the United States.

But he acknowledged that FBI experts are familiar with the claims outlinedby Mitrokhin, who has passed scores of KGB documents to the West.

On Oct. 22, Weldon and Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.) sent Secretaryof State Madeleine Albright a letter alerting her to the charges by theKGB agents and urging the administration to "aggressively pursue the Russiangovernment to identify all pre-deployed weapons sites in the United States,and ... eliminate such remnants of the Cold War."

Weldon said he will release her reply when he receives one.

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