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Nuclear News - 11/22/99
RANSAC Nuclear News, 22 November 1999


A.  HEU

    1. No Aid yet for Company Taking Russian Uranium out ofCirculation,Associated Press (11/19/99)
B.  Plutonium Disposition
    1. Plutonium Disposal Plan Draws Opposition, Charleston.Net(11/22/99)
C.  Y2K
    1. Energy Department Says Russian Nuclear Plants Y2K-Ready,Associated Press (11/19/99)
D.  U.S. – Russia General
    1. The Russian Leadership Program, Congressional Record,US Senate (11/18/99)
    2. 'A Distinctly American Internationalism' [excerpt], GeorgeW. Bush (11/19/99)
    3. Suspend Aid To Russia Until Peace In Chechnya, Says U.S. SenatorMcCain, Agence France Presse (11/22/1999)
E.  ABM, Missile Defense
    1. Yakovlev Offering Olive Branch Over ABM?  RFE/RL(11/22/99)
F.  CTBT
    1. Focus-Yeltsin Wants Test Ban Ratified as Priority, Reuters(11/22/99)

A. HEU

1.
No Aid yet for Company Taking Russian Uranium out of Circulation
        Associated Press
        November 19, 1999
        (for personal use only)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Congress ended this year's session Friday withoutgiving financial help to the American company that takes Russia's weapons-gradeuranium out of circulation.

But negotiations continued between the company and the Clintonadministration,and some kind of aid early next year remained possible.

Meanwhile, the United States Enrichment Corp. said it was looking forways to cut costs, both because of the money-losing Russian deal and becauseof a worldwide drop in the price of  nuclear power plant fuel.

Layoffs at USEC's processing centers in Ohio and Kentucky were amongthe options, but no decision had been made, spokeswoman Elizabeth Stucklesaid.

Staffing levels and a discussion of whether to pull out of the Russiandeal were on the agenda for a meeting next Wednesday of USEC's board, whichfaces a Dec. 1 deadline for deciding whether to continue as the government'sagent after 2000.

USEC, a private company, operates the nation's only uranium enrichmentplants. It buys diluted weapons-grade uranium from Russia and sells thenow low-enriched uranium to utilities for use in power reactors.

The company has asked the government to make up the difference betweenthe price it can get for diluted warhead uranium and the price its contractrequires it to pay Russia -- about $200 million.

House Commerce Committee Chairman Tom Bliley, R-Va., said Friday heplans to step up his investigation of both USEC and the handling of theRussian deal.

"It appears that the Clinton administration was asleep at the wheelwhen it came to protecting our national security," Bliley said. "Now atthe eleventh hour, the administration is struggling to respond to USEC'sthreat to pull out of the Russian HEU (highly enriched uranium) agreement."

Another critic, Rep. Ted Strickland, D-Ohio, has complained about thecompany's decisions to spend $100 million to prop up its stock price andto pay shareholders another $100 million in dividends.

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B. Plutonium Disposition

1.
Plutonium Disposal Plan Draws Opposition
        Charleston.Net
        November 22, 1999
        (for personal use only)

COLUMBIA - A South Carolina state senator and environmental andanti-proliferationgroups are opposed to the U.S. Energy Department's plan to dispose of surplusweapons-grade plutonium at its Savannah River Site nuclear complex nearAiken.
 
In a Nov. 12 report, the Energy Department recommended SRS house facilitiesto dispose of 50 metric tons of plutonium. Energy Secretary Bill Richardsonis expected to issue a decision late this year or early next year.
 
The program, part of an agreement with Russia to reduce nuclear stockpilesand keep weapons-grade plutonium out of the hands of terrorists and roguenations, would create up to 4,000 construction jobs and about 1,100 operationaljobs.
 
The Energy Department estimates it will cost about $1.32 billion todesign and build the new facilities and $1.5 billion to operate and dismantlethem in about 2020.
 
There are questions about Russia's financial ability to hold up itsend of the agreement.
 
Executive Director Tom Clements of the Nuclear Control Institute, anonproliferation group based in Washington, D.C., said "the whole programcould grind to a halt because of problems on the Russian side."
 
There are concerns about the U.S. program too, Clements said.
 
Russia plans to convert almost all of its plutonium into fuel for nuclearreactors known as mixed oxide fuel, or MOX.
 
The United States plans to convert part of its surplus plutonium intoMOX and a third into an "immobilized" form for disposal inside a mountainrepository in Nevada.
 
This two-track plan "maximizes the cost to the taxpayer," Clementssaid, requiring the design, construction and operation of more deactivationfacilities.
 
The organization said using weapons-grade plutonium as MOX fuel forpower generation is unproven, uneconomical and more dangerous than uraniumfuel rods.
 
Dan Bruner, plutonium program manager at SRS, said the Energy Departmenthas worked out the technical, security and environmental problems associatedwith MOX.
 
Bruner said the MOX program has the added benefit of providing thegovernment some return because of the commercial value of the fuel.
 
Sen. Phil Leventis, D-Sumter, wrote U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C.,expressing concern about the MOX program and the environmental record ofCogema, a French company that is one of the contractors in the process.
 
Also, about 15 groups are planning a three-day conference in Keysville,Ga., in January to coordinate strategies to halt the MOX program, saidHarry Rogers of the Columbia-based Carolina Peace Resource Center.
 
U.S. Rep. Lindsey Graham, a Republican whose district includes the310-square-mile SRS, has pushed for the plutonium disposal mission at SRS.
 
"The technology, the science, the safety are solid," Graham said.
 
But Graham is concerned that Russia cannot afford to dispose of itsexcess plutonium or keep it from falling into the wrong hands.
 
"From a national security perspective, we will not take our excessplutonium warheads and deplete them without a simultaneous action fromthe Russians," Graham said.

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C. Y2K

1.
Energy Department Says Russian Nuclear Plants Y2K-Ready
        Associated Press
        November 19, 1999
        (for personal use only)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Major systems at Russian nuclear plants should notbe affected by Y2K computer bugs, but local residents could lose heat andelectricity if some computers fail, the Energy Department reported Friday.

Energy officials said tests of the plants' crucial safety and communicationssystems revealed no problems.

"The nuclear parts are so old, they're largely not run by computer.There's practically nothing to fail," Energy Department spokeswoman ChrisKielich said. "Hopefully, that's one more thing people don't have to worryabout."

Soviet-designed nuclear plants in other countries also did well in testsdesigned to see how the systems would respond when the calendar turns toJan. 1, 2000, the department reported.

At the same time, the Energy Department said, other computer systemscould fail, such as those monitoring plant conditions. In that case, localresidents could find themselves without heat or electricity until the problemsare corrected. Kielich said U.S. energy experts will be on call to answerany questions the Russians may have.

The Energy Department earlier found Russian plants free of Y2K problemsthat could cause catastrophic failures, according to a report by the U.S.Senate's Year 2000 committee.

Last week, the White House said Russia, Ukraine, China and Indonesiawere making slow progress on Y2K repairs and were "more likely to experiencesignificant failures." Russia has 29 nuclear plants at nine sites. In someareas of the country those plants generate close to one-fourth the regions'electricity.

"We are increasing our attention to helping countries like Russia whichrely heavily on nuclear power to resolve their Y2K problems," Energy SecretaryBill Richardson said Friday.

Richardson was in Moscow in September working with the Russians on theirY2K readiness efforts. And at the invitation of the Russian government,he sent U.S. observers to Moscow this week to observe a Y2K distributionelectric system drill.

In a significant move, the State Department urged Americans last monthto defer travel to Russia during the rollover and warned of possible "disruptionof basic human services such as heat, water, telephones and other vitalservices."

The State Department also announced two weeks ago it will pull out someembassy employees from Russia and three other ex-Soviet states becauseof possible Y2K failures.

That decision came after U.S. officials agreed that Russia, Belarus,Ukraine and Moldova will be among countries worst affected by potentialchangeover problems.

The White House expressed concern in the spring about the safety of65 Russian-designed nuclear plants worldwide, including one not far fromAlaska in eastern Russia.

That was despite assurances by Russian Deputy Prime Minister VladimirBulgak, who said the Y2K problem will not threaten his country's nuclearmissiles or its nuclear power stations.

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D. U.S. – Russia General

1.
The Russian Leadership Program
        Congressional Record, USSenate
        November 18, 1999
        (for personal use only)

Senator STEVENS (Republican-Alaska):
Mr. President, I am pleased to announce that Congress included $10million in the Foreign Operations Appropriations bill to continue the RussianLeadership Program in Fiscal Year 2000.

The Russian Leadership Program was created earlier this year in theFY 1999 supplemental appropriations bill in order to bring emerging Russianleaders to the United States to see first hand how democracy and the Americanfree market economic system function. The program was successful in bringingover 2,100 emerging leaders from 83 of the 89 states and republics in theRussian Federation during July, August, and September of this year. Dr.Billington, the Librarian of Congress, and one of the world's leading historiansof Russian culture was asked to administer this program. Our thanks goto Dr. Billington for doing an excellent job implementing this programin a short period of time.

The program was modeled after the Marshall Plan which was implementedafter World War II. Between 1946-1956, the U.S. Government brought over10,000 Germans citizens to the United States to learn ways to rebuild theireconomy through technical assistance as well as cultural and politicalcontacts. The Marshall Plan was one of the most successful foreign aidprograms of the last century.

Similar to the Marshall Plan, participants in the Russian LeadershipProgram visited more than 400 communities in 46 states and the Districtof Columbia observing democracy in action at all levels of government.They met and discussed the American system of government with current andformer U.S. Presidents, Members of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House, Governors,state
legislators, state supreme court justices, mayors, and members of cityand town councils.

Some of the participants also campaigned door-to-door with politicalcandidates, visited police and fire stations, met with students in schools,visited hospitals, research facilities, businesses, soup kitchens, sheltersand experienced firsthand the partnership among government, and the privatesector.

This program was unique because more than 800 American families hostedour Russian visitors, welcoming them into their homes and communities,and spending the time to answer questions about and show our guests theAmerican way of life. Vadim Baikov, one of the six Russians who visitedAlaska, the State I represent, wrote after the program that, `In my opinion,the best
cultural aspect is that we stayed with the families, because in thisway one can actually gain insight of the genuine American lifestyle. Ithink that is what counts the most.'

Organizations such as Rotary International, the United Methodist Church,Freedom Force, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints playeda key role in organizing the participants in the program both in Russiaand the United States. In addition to volunteering their time, these familiesand hosting communities generously supplemented the government's $10 million
appropriations by providing approximately $1.5 million worth of meals,cultural activities, additional transportation and medical care.

Beyond the strong ties of friendship that developed between guests andhosts, it is clear that the Russian Leadership Program fundamentally changedhow these Russian guests see America. They constitute the largest singlegroup ever to travel from Russia to the U.S. They return to Russia withclear ideas and strong commitment to positive change. A mayor from Tomskspend time with the mayor of Cleveland and said: `If we were to meet moreoften, there would be more peaceful relations.'

The Russian Leadership Program has had a tremendous impact in one year.It is a good program and I am pleased that we were able to provide thenecessary funding to continue this program into the new millenium.

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2.
'A Distinctly American Internationalism' [excerpt]
        George W. Bush
        November 19, 1999
        (for personal use only)

".....
Russia stands as another reminder that a world increasingly at peaceis also a world in transition. Here, too, patience is needed – patience,consistency, and a principled reliance on democratic forces.

In the breadth of its land, the talent and courage of its people, thewealth of its resources, and the reach of its weapons, Russia is a greatpower, and must always be treated as such. Few people have suffered morein this century. And though we trust the worst is behind them, their troublesare not over. This past decade, for Russia, has been an epic of deliveranceand disappointment.

Our first order of business is the national security of our nation –and here both Russia and the United States face a changed world. Insteadof confronting each other, we confront the legacy of a dead ideologicalrivalry -- thousands of nuclear weapons, which, in the case of Russia,may not be secure. And together we also face an emerging threat – fromrogue nations, nuclear theft and accidental launch. All this requires nothingshort of a new strategic relationship to protect the peace of the world.

We can hope that the new Russian Duma will ratify START II, as we havedone. But this is not our most pressing challenge. The greater problemwas first addressed in 1991 by Senator Lugar and Senator Sam Nunn. In anact of foresight and statesmanship, they realized that existing Russiannuclear facilities were in danger of being compromised. Under the Nunn-Lugarprogram, security at many Russian nuclear facilities has been improvedand warheads have been destroyed.

Even so, the Energy Department warns us that our estimates of Russiannuclear stockpiles could be off by as much as 30 percent. In other words,a great deal of Russian nuclear material cannot be accounted for. The nextpresident must press for an accurate inventory of all this material. Andwe must do more. I’ll ask the Congress to increase substantially our assistanceto dismantle as many of Russia’s weapons as possible, as quickly as possible.

We will still, however, need missile defense systems – both theaterand national. If I am commander-in-chief, we will develop and deploy them.

Under the mutual threat of rogue nations, there is a real possibilitythe Russians could join with us and our friends and allies to cooperateon missile defense systems. But there is a condition. Russia must breakits dangerous habit of proliferation.

In the hard work of halting proliferation, the Comprehensive Test BanTreaty is not the answer. I’ve said that our nation should continue itsmoratorium on testing. Yet far more important is to constrict the supplyof nuclear materials and the means to deliver them – by making this a prioritywith Russia and China. Our nation must cut off the demand for nuclear weapons– by addressing the security concerns of those who renounce these weapons.And our nation must  diminish the evil attraction of these weaponsfor rogue states – by rendering them useless with missile defense. TheComprehensive Test Ban Treaty does nothing to gain these goals. It doesnot stop proliferation, especially to renegade regimes. It is not verifiable.It is not enforceable. And it would stop us from ensuring the safety andreliability of our nation’s deterrent, should the need arise. On thesecrucial matters, it offers only words and false hopes and high intentions– with no guarantees whatever. We can fight the spread of nuclear weapons,but we cannot wish them away with unwise treaties.

 Dealing with Russia on essential issues will be far easier ifwe are dealing with a democratic and free Russia. Our goal is to promote,not only the appearance of democracy in Russia, but the structures, spirit,and reality of democracy. This is clearly not done by focusing our aidand attention on a corrupt and favored elite. Real change in Russia – asin China – will come not from above, but from below. From a rising classof entrepreneurs and business people. From new leaders in Russia’s regionswho will build a new Russian state, where power is shared, not controlled.Our assistance, investments and loans should go directly to the Russianpeople, not to enrich the bank accounts of corrupt officials.

America should reach out to a new generation of Russians through educationalexchanges and programs to support the rule of law and a civil society.And the Russian people, next month, must be given a free and fair choicein their election. We cannot buy reform for Russia, but we can be Russia’sally in self-reform.

Even as we support Russian reform, we cannot excuse Russian brutality.When the Russian government attacks civilians – killing women and children,leaving orphans and refugees – it can no longer expect aid from internationallending institutions. The Russian government will discover that it cannotbuild a stable and unified nation on the ruins of human rights. That itcannot learn the lessons of democracy from the textbook of tyranny. Wewant to cooperate with Russia on its concern with terrorism, but that isimpossible unless Moscow operates with civilized self-restraint.

Just as we do not want Russia to descend into cruelty, we do not wantit to return to imperialism. Russia does have interests with its newlyindependent neighbors. But those interests must be expressed in commerceand diplomacy – not coercion and domination. A return to Russian imperialismwould endanger both Russian democracy and the states on Russia’s borders.The United States should actively support the nations of the Baltics, theCaucasus and Central Asia, along with Ukraine, by promoting regional peaceand economic development, and opening links to the wider world.
....."

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3.
Suspend Aid To Russia Until Peace In Chechnya, Says U.S. SenatorMcCain
        Agence France Presse
        November 22, 1999
        (for personal use only)

WASHINGTON, Nov 22, 1999 -- (Agence France Presse) U.S. Republicanpresidentialcandidate John McCain called Sunday for a suspension of most U.S. andmultilateralaid to Russia until it began peace talks with the breakaway republic ofChechnya.

Appearing on CBS television's "Face the Nation" program, the Arizonasenator called the two-month-old Russian military offensive in Chechnya"a terrible thing."

"This is a reassertion of the military authority in Russia," said McCain."It destabilizes the region."

"Georgia would be next on this list, which is one of the really functioninglittle democracies in the whole area ... This has serious implicationsfor a lot of peoples besides Chechens."

The war has forced at least 200,000 civilians to flee the region. Fightinghas reached the outskirts of the Chechen capital Grozny, already largelydestroyed during the last Russian offensive, which ended three years ago.

McCain said the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the US Export-ImportBank should cut off financial assistance to Russia until Moscow takes stepsto peacefully settle the Chechen conflict.

He argued, however, that the United States should continue to provideassistance to strapped Russian nuclear scientists under the so-called Nunn-Lugarprogram to discourage them from selling their expertise to rogue states.

"But any other aid we should suspend until there is some kind of peacetalks," stressed McCain.

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E. ABM, Missile Defense

1.
Yakovlev Offering Olive Branch Over ABM?
        RFE/RL
        November 22, 1999
        (for personal use only)

Strategic Rocket Forces commander Colonel General Vladimir Yakovlevtold Russian Public Television on 19 November that Russia and the U.S.should form a joint commission to examine the "threat" Moscow believeswould arise if Washington set up a limited national defense system, Reutersreported. "If this commission works properly, we could speak in more detailabout the need to create national anti-missile systems," he said. Yakovlevrepeated his stance that a "new round of the Cold War" would ensue if theAnti-Ballistic Missile Treaty were "dumped." And he also underlined thatif no compromise were found, Russia would seek a response that might includeboosting the strength of existing Topol missiles, upgrading features ofthe new Topol-M missile, using multiple warheads and further work on meansto overcome anti-missile defense."

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F. CTBT

1.
Focus-Yeltsin Wants Test Ban Ratified as Priority
        Reuters
        November 22, 1999
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW, Nov 22 (Reuters) - President Boris Yeltsin announced on Mondayhe wanted parliament to ratify a nuclear test ban treaty as a priority,but it seems unlikely deputies will feel the same urgency while ties withthe United States are strained.

The U.S. Senate dealt President Bill Clinton an embarrassing blow lastmonth by rejecting the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, drawing widespreadinternational condemnation.

Yeltsin, seeking to capitalise on Washington's discomfort and deflectcriticism of Russia's military campaign in Chechnya, said last week atthe Istanbul summit of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation inEurope he had sent the treaty to the State Duma (lower house of parliament)to be ratified.

"The president of Russia has proposed that the question of ratifyingthe treaty be made a priority," the Kremlin said. "The treaty, in BorisYeltsin's view, meets Russia's interests."

In theory, the Duma can review and ratify treaties within weeks. Butsuch a weighty accord would need to be studied by several parliamentarycommittees just as deputies prepare for a December 19 election to the lowerchamber. The upper house would also need to place its stamp on the document.

"I'm absolutely convinced this document has no chance whatsoever ofbeing ratified in the present Duma," said Vladimir Ryzhkov, parliamentaryhead of the Our Home is Russia party. "It's to do with the geo-politicalsituation in the world. The Americans are behaving like a bull in a chinashop."

He said apart from failing to ratify the test ban accord and puttingpressure on Moscow because of Chechnya, Washington wanted to violate anotherpact, the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty, to be able to deploy a nationalmissile defense system.

"As long as the United States sticks to its clearly unfriendly policytoward Russia, no Duma is ever going to ratify that (test ban) treaty,"Ryzhkov told Reuters.

The Kremlin statement said the treaty, which Moscow signed in 1996,would not damage Russia's defences or security.

"If these national interests are placed under threat, the Russian Federationcan use its right to leave the treaty," the Kremlin said.

Washington wants to renegotiate the ABM treaty to allow it to deploya Star Wars-style national missile defence system to guard against so-calledrogue states.

MIXED MESSAGE ON POSSIBLE COMPROMISE

Moscow believes the ABM treaty is the cornerstone of many other armsaccords and is against any changes in it.

The head of Russia's Strategic Rocket Forces, Colonel-General VladimirYakovlev, gave an intriguing hint of compromise last Friday when he saidthe United States and Russia should set up a commission to examine therogue threat.

"If this commission works properly we could speak in more detail aboutthe need to create national anti-missile systems," he told ORT television.He was speaking after the OSCE summit at which Clinton and Yeltsin discussedarms control.

The chief of the Russian General Staff, Anatoly Kvashnin, stuck to atougher line in the latest edition of the military weekly NezavisimoyeVoyennoye Obozreniye. He said the U.S. plan had Russia and China in mindrather than rogues.

He said nuclear missile reductions could be suspended or halted altogetherif the ABM pact was violated. The newspaper also said Russia aimed to upgrademissile testing sites to allow Moscow to test weapons capable of penetratinga defence shield.

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