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Nuclear News - 11/12/99
RANSAC Nuclear News, 12 November 1999

A.  Nuclear Cities Initiative

  1. Funds to Hire Russian Atom Scientists Cut, WashingtonPost (11/12/99)
B.  Russian Nuclear Forces
  1. Russia May Fly Nuclear Bombers to Cuba, Reuters (11/12/99)
C.  Russia – Iran
  1. U.S. Keeps Up Pressure On Russian Companies Cooperating WithIran, RFE/RL (11/11/99)
  1. U.S.: High-level Task Force On Nuclear Debate Established,RFE/RL (11/11/99)

A. Nuclear Cities Initiative

Funds to Hire Russian Atom Scientists Cut
        Walter Pincus
        Washington Post
        November 12, 1999
        (for personal use only)

A sharp cut in funding will force the Department of Energy to curtailits effort to employ Russian nuclear scientists in civilian jobs and keepthem from peddling their bomb-building talents to other countries, officialssaid yesterday.

The $7.5 million appropriated by Congress last month for the so-calledNuclear Cities Initiative in fiscal 2000 is half of what was allocatedthis year and a quarter of what the Energy Department requested. As a result,the administration will limit the program to scientists in one Russiannuclear city instead of three, said Rose E. Gottemoeller, director of thedepartment's nonproliferation office.

The program began in September 1998 as a response to desperate economicconditions in Russia's "secret" cities, which during the Soviet era wereringed with security fences and did not appear on official maps but receivedspecial supplies of food and luxury goods.

Since the end of the Cold War, the special supplies have stopped, Russia'sproduction of nuclear weapons has plummeted, and many nuclear workers havelost their jobs. The 17 facilities that make up the Russian nuclear weaponscomplex once built up to 4,000 warheads a year but now produce just 200to 300, said Oleg Bukharin, a Princeton University expert.

Nevertheless, the complex still employs 100,000 professionals in sevenformer secret cities and around Moscow, about twice the number of facilitiesand four times as many nuclear weapons workers as in the United States,according to Bukharin.

Gottemoeller said the Energy Department will focus solely on the cityof Sarov, formerly known as Arzamas-16, the Russian equivalent of Los Alamos.

The program's most publicized success was the opening last month ofa computing center in Sarov that will produce software for sale aroundthe world. It uses IBM computers that the Russians bought in 1996 and hadbegun using for nuclear weapons work in violation of U.S. export laws.Months of negotiation led to their removal from the weapons facility andtheir transfer to the open, commercial venture.

The budget cut by Congress stemmed primarily from a report by the GeneralAccounting Office that said some U.S. funds appeared to be going to Russianscientists who were still working on weapons. In response, Congress inserteda provision in next year's nuclear cities appropriation that requires EnergySecretary Bill Richardson to certify that Russia has agreed to close somefacilities engaged in nuclear weapons work.

Kenneth N. Luongo, a former Energy Department official who helped establishthe program, said he found on a trip to Russia this fall that the directorsof its nuclear facilities have come to support the U.S. employment effort,despite initial skepticism.

"If you give them a career, [Russian scientists] will loosen their gripon military programs," Luongo said, adding: "The opportunity is on thetable now. It may not be there five years from now."

The nuclear cities program, however, is just one part of a wide-ranging,$1billion U.S. government effort begun in 1991 to help Russia reduce itsenormous nuclear arsenal and secure its stockpiles against theft.

The portions of the initiative run by the Pentagon and State Department,which account for more than half the total funding, also have been cutor reshaped by Congress this year. At the insistence of the House ArmedServices Committee, $110 million requested to help pay for a plant to destroyRussian chemical weapons was eliminated, and the funds were redirectedto destroying some of Moscow's strategic nuclear warheads under arms controlagreements.

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B. Russian Nuclear Forces

Russia May Fly Nuclear Bombers to Cuba
        Robert Eksuzyan
        November 12, 1999
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW--Russia may fly nuclear-capable strategic bombers to Cuba andVietnam next year, a Russian air force spokesman said Friday.

The latest edition of the weekly military newspaper Nezavisimoye VoyennoyeObozreniye quoted the head of long-range aviation forces, Mikhail Oparin,as saying such missions were planned and would greatly surprise NATO.

Asked to comment, air force spokesman Colonel Nikolai Baranov told Reuters:"If the government considers it essential to do this, the military willdo it."

"If they give us the money we will fly, if not we won't fly," he said."Such a possibility does not exist yet because the money is not there."

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin vowed Friday to boost funding for Russia'sarmed forces despite an economic crisis that, for example, has kept flyinghours to a bare minimum.

Putin spoke after Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev told military commandersthe United States was bent on weakening Russia.

Earlier this year Russia sent strategic bombers on long-range exercisesright up to Alaska and Norway for the first time since the Cold War ended.

The defense weekly said those flights had made a big impression on NATO.

"It looks like the 37th air division will surprise the alliance's strategistseven more next year," the newspaper said, referring to the unit which operatesTupolev-160 swing-wing supersonic bombers that can carry nuclear-tippedcruise missiles.

"According to the chief of long-range aviation, in 2000 it is plannedto carry out a flight to the air base at Cam Ranh in Vietnam and also tofly to Cuba," it said.

There was no suggestion that the planes would be based in Cuba or Vietnam.

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C. Russia – Iran

U.S. Keeps Up Pressure On Russian Companies Cooperating With Iran
        November 11, 1999
        (for personal use only)

Washington has announced it will continue to impose sanctions on 10Russian research centers and companies that are assisting Iran with nuclearand missile technology, AFP reported on 10 November. In a report to theCongress, the White House noted that "despite the Russian government'snon-proliferation and export control efforts, some Russian entities continuedto cooperate with Iran's ballistic missile program and to engage in nuclearcooperation." Washington blacklisted seven Russian companies in summer1998 and added another three to the list early this year (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"28 July 1998 and 13 January 1999).

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U.S.: High-level Task Force On Nuclear Debate Established
        Lisa McAdams
        November 11, 1999
        (for personal use only)

The United States last night (Wednesday) announced the establishmentof a high-level administration task force to work closely with the U.S.Senate on addressing issues raised during recent debate on the ComprehensiveNuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). As RFE/RL's Lisa McAdams reports, U.S.Secretary of State Madeleine Albright unveiled the initiative during aspeech before the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations.

Washington, 11 November 1999 (RFE/RL) -- In the days following the U.S.Senate's recent defeat of the nuclear test ban treaty, the Clintonadministrationsaid it would not give up the fight.

U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright underscored that pledge yesterday(Wednesday), telling members of the diplomatic corps and officers and membersof the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations that the U.S. would not onlykeep up the charge, but would now seek to invite ordinary Americans intothe debate.

Albright likened the nuclear task force initiative to similar effortsundertaken with NATO enlargement. And she said the challenge now is toovercome the scars left by past partisan arguments and come together aroundconcrete measures to keep Americans secure.

An advance copy of Albright's remarks shed little light on specificdetails of the task force. But she said the body would be open to a varietyof possible approaches for bridging differences in its discussions withthe U.S. Senate. She said the approaches could include additional conditionsand understandings, as she noted was the case with negotiations on theChemical Weapons Convention.

Albright said the case for ratifying the CTBT is "strong." As she putit, "It asks nothing of us that we cannot safely do and it requires ofothers a standard we very much want the world to meet."

Opponents argue the treaty is too risky because some countries mightcheat or choose to pursue their own interests regardless of treaty obligations.

Albright said those tempted to cheat would face a higher risk of beingcaught, and would pay a higher price if and when they are. And even ifthe worst case unfolds, Albright said the U.S. could always withdraw andwould.

Albright added that finding the way forward on CTBT is "necessary, butnot sufficient" to crafting a bipartisan strategy for reducing nucleardanger. She said it is equally important for the United States to establishcommon ground on the question of national missile defense and the Anti-BallisticMissile Treaty (ABM).

At present, she said, there are two "extremes" between the one sidedemanding the treaty be scrapped, and the other side opposing any adjustmentsto the treaty at all.

Albright said the United States believes both views are "dangerous."She said the first risks reviving old threats to U.S. security, while shesaid the second fails to respond to new ones.

Albright reiterated the U.S. view that abandoning the ABM Treaty wouldgenerate fears in Moscow that the U.S. also is abandoning the goal of stability.She said sending such a message would squander an opportunity for negotiatingfurther mutual reductions in nuclear arsenals, as well as run the riskof transforming Russia into a most powerfully armed adversary.

To date, Russian leaders have expressed strong opposition to any treatymodifications and accused the U.S. of undermining the entire system ofinternational arms control.

Albright again countered that opposition by saying the changes the UnitedStates is contemplating in the ABM Treaty are "limited."

She also reiterated that the U.S. is prepared to cooperate with Russiaon missile defense.

In response, Albright added, "Russia must do more than just say "Nyet."

In defending against nuclear dangers, Albright said the U.S. must relyon a combination of force and diplomacy. With regard to the former, sheagain called on Congress to bring the adequate resources to bear to supportAmerica's foreign policy goals, including paying U.S. arrears to the UnitedNations.

Earlier this year, Congress voted to cut the president's request forinternational programs by more than $2 billion. The administration wonmuch of that back, but Albright and others argue that more funding muststill be made available.

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