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Nuclear News - 11/24/99
RANSAC Nuclear News, 24 November 1999


A.  Nuclear Waste

  1. Uranium Institute News Briefing  [nuclear waste],The Uranium Institute Online (11/23/99)
  2. Russian Environmentalist Faces New ‘Spy’ Hearing, Reuters(11/24/99)
B.  Plutonium Disposition
  1. Uranium Institute News Briefing  [plutonium disposition],The Uranium Institute Online (11/23/99)
C.  HEU
  1. Uranium Institute News Briefing  [USEC], The UraniumInstitute Online (11/23/99)
D.  Nuclear Power Industry
  1. Power Plant May Open, Associated Press (11/24/99)
E.  ABM, Missile Defense
  1. Soviet Bag Of Tricks May Foil U.S. Plans, Washington Post(11/24/99)

A. Nuclear Waste

1.
Uranium Institute News Briefing  [nuclear waste]
        The Uranium Institute Online
        November 23, 1999
        (for personal use only)

[NB99.47-19] Russia: A processing facility for liquid radwaste has beencompleted in Murmansk. The trilateral project to expand an existing 1200cubic m per year facility to 5000 cubic m per year was launched by Russia,Norway and the US in 1994. The plant should enter full production nextyear and be able to process all the liquid radwaste generated in the Murmanskand Archangelsk counties, although the Northern Fleet’s ability to payfor the commercially offered service remains in doubt. (Nuclear EngineeringInternational, November, p6; see also News Briefing 94.41)

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2.
Russian Environmentalist Faces New ‘Spy’ Hearing
        Reuters
        November 24, 1999
        (for personal use only)

ST PETERSBURG, Russia, Nov 24, 1999 -- (Reuters) A former Russian navalcaptain accused of treason and espionage after reporting for an environmentalgroup arrived in court again on Tuesday, almost four years since he wasfirst charged.

Alexander Nikitin, arrested in February 1996, reiterated his beliefthat the authorities had no proof that he revealed state secrets when hewrote a report for Norwegian environmental group Bellona on radioactivepollution by Russia's Northern Fleet.

"In order to accuse a person of espionage you need to prove that hedamaged the state, that the organization he worked for was hostile to Russia,"Nikitin told journalists as he faced a third court trial in the case.

"There should be proof of this - but there is none," a tired-lookingNikitin said. He did not want to make predictions but believed he shouldwin if the trial was fair.

The Federal Security Service (FSB), the main successor to the SovietKGB, re-issued charges against Nikitin after Russia's Supreme Court rejectedan appeal in February to drop them.

The court gave the FSB more time to produce evidence against the navycaptain-turned-environmental campaigner.

The FSB has said parts of this trial would be closed because they intendedto produce material from "secret sources", a move Nikitin's lawyers sayviolates procedural regulations.

His lawyers said the case was complicated by the admission of such "secret"material because they were not allowed to see it before proceedings started.

"The trial could go on for three weeks," Nikitin's lawyer Yuri Schmidttold journalists.

Outside the court, several of Nikitin's supporters held banners saying:"The trial against Nikitin is a disgrace to Russia." They say Russia istrying to hush up Nikitin's embarrassing revelations by prolonging thecourt case.

Similar criticisms were made against the FSB for its pursuit of a navalofficer in the Pacific port of Vladivostok, Grigory Pasko. He was sentencedto three years in prison for passing details of nuclear pollution to Japanesetelevision.

Frederic Hauge, president of Bellona, said the case against Nikitinhad dissuaded others from investigating environmental pollution in Russia.

"Many people are now scared of working on these problems because ofthe Nikitin case," he said.

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B. Plutonium Disposition

1.
Uranium Institute News Briefing  [plutonium disposition]
        The Uranium Institute Online
        November 23, 1999
        (for personal use only)

[NB99.47-14] The US has enough reactor capacity to burn its MOX-usableex-weapons plutonium, and the DOE is ‘no longer actively pursuing’ theoption of using Canadian reactors in the disposition of surplus Pu. Neverthelessthe US is still ‘reserving’ the CANDU option and will still take part inthe Parallex programme to test the use of surplus Pu in CANDUs. (SpentFUEL,22 November, p1; see also News Briefing 99.36-12)

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C. HEU

1.
Uranium Institute News Briefing  [USEC]
        The Uranium Institute Online
        November 23, 1999
        (for personal use only)

[NB99.47-10] USEC is still reported to be threatening to resign as theUS government’s executive agent in the US-Russia HEU deal on 1 Decemberif a government subsidy is not forthcoming. However, Congress adjournedon 19 November without approving any assistance to the company. USEC hasalready rejected a conditional offer worth US$40 million from the government.A decision on whether or not to resign from the HEU deal is expected tobe discussed at a USEC board meeting on 24 November. (FreshFUEL, 22 November,p1; Ux Weekly, 22 November, p2; see also News Briefing 99.46-1)

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D. Nuclear Power Industry

1.
Power Plant May Open
        Associated Press
        November 24, 1999
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW -- An unfinished nuclear power plant in the southern RussianRostov region, on hold for eight years due to the concerns of environmentalistsand a shortage of funds to complete the project, may be brought on linenext year, an energy official said.

The plant is 90 percent complete and should receive the 3 billion rubles($114 million) needed to bring it into operation in the next year, Itar-Tassreported Rosenergoatom head Leonid Melamed as saying.

The plant is expected to receive a license in December to proceed withconstruction, he added.

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E. ABM, Missile Defense

1.
Soviet Bag Of Tricks May Foil U.S. Plans
        David Hoffman
        Washington Post
        November 24, 1999
        (for personal use only)

When the United States raises the prospect of building a missile defensesystem, Russian strategic planners don't have far to go for a response.

They can reach for a drawer marked "Star Wars" and take out some ofthe Soviet-era blueprints drawn up more than 15 years ago in response toPresident Ronald Reagan's grand hopes for the Strategic Defense Initiative,a missile defense shield.

There, gathering dust until recently, are some choice ideas and gadgetsthat Soviet designers thought could be used to confuse, evade, saturateand overwhelm a missile-defense system.

Reagan never realized his vision of a global shield against ballisticmissiles, and the Soviet ideas were mostly laid to rest, in some casesby subsequent arms-control treaties. But in recent weeks, Russia's topmilitary strategists have begun to trot them out again, and they are openlypromising to reanimate these schemes if necessary to frustrate a U.S.missile-defensesystem.

These include the use of decoy warheads, space-based "chaff" to simulatewarheads, maneuverable warheads to steer away from interceptor rocketsand prolonging the deployment of huge land-based, multiple-warhead missiles.

President Bill Clinton's administration has said it won't decide untilJune whether to go ahead with a limited missile defense, requiring changesin the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. Russia, which opposes treatymodifications, has already ratcheted up a noisy campaign against changes,saying they would destroy all arms-control efforts of the last 20 yearsand wreck such
cooperative efforts as reciprocal inspections.

The result has been a back-to-the-future scenario in which Russia isreviving gambits dreamed up in the Soviet era to fend off a missile-defensesystem like that dreamed up in 1983 by the Reagan administration.

An antimissile system uses a combination of detectors, such as radarand satellites, to spot incoming missiles and warheads, then deploys fast-flyinginterceptor rockets to try to destroy them before they land or explode.At the center of the old Soviet ideas now being refloated is defeatingthe missile defense system by fooling it.

The pride of the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces is the relatively newTopol-M, a solid-fuel missile carrying a single warhead that was designedto replace older, multiple-warhead missiles being retired under arms-controltreaties. Russia put a regiment of 10 Topol-M missiles on duty last yearand is expected to deploy a second regiment by the end of next month.

But Russian officials have said they could convert the Topol-M intoa three-warhead missile. Such multiple-warhead land-based missiles wereoutlawed by the START II treaty, which has never been ratified by the Russianparliament and may not ever be. Moreover, Russians have said the STARTI treaty could also be endangered.

"If this [antimissile] treaty crashes, then there are no problems inincreasing the launch weight of the rockets," Major General Vladimir Dvorkin,director of the Defense Ministry's Central Research Institute and a leadingstrategist, said in a recent newspaper essay.

The added launch weight is to accommodate additional warheads or other equipment to defeat an antimissile system. Russian specialistssaid the Topol-M could carry at least three and perhaps as many as sixwarheads. Yury Solomonov, director of the Moscow institute that designedthe Topol-M, said earlier this year that it could "penetrate any country'santimissile system."

Sergei Rogov, director of the Institute for the Study of the UnitedStates and Canada and a top Russian arms-control expert, said Russia hasnumerous ways to try to defeat an antimissile system with "penetrationaids," such as decoy warheads.

Moreover, Russia has the ability, developed in the Soviet era, to deploya kind of chaff, or deceptive particles, in the nose cone of the Topol-M.When released, the chaff "will look like thousands of warheads" to themissile-defense system, he said, and it will be difficult to distinguishthe real from the fake.

Specialists said the Topol-M also has a maneuverable warhead, testedlast summer in Russia, that can change direction after being released fromthe missile to try to evade interceptor rockets. And it has a shorterengine-burntime to minimize satellite detection on launch.

Russia also recently announced that it intends to resume productionof its most modern submarine-based multiple-warhead missile, the SS-N-23.Though deployed with four warheads each, Russian officials said it wasoriginally tested with 10 warheads and might be restored to that number.The warheads were scaled down for the START I treaty. Dvorkin suggestedthat some of these liquid-fuel missiles could be deployed on land as well,if the treaties are torn up.

He has also suggested that Russia would again put its rail-mobile land-basedmissiles, which have been parked, back on patrol.

There are other measures, Rogov said. "You can attack the defenses,"he said, with such devices as nuclear explosions in space or by targetingthe brain center of the missile-defense system.
 
And Russia could simply stretch out the multiple-warhead missiles nowdue for retirement under arms-control treaties, Dvorkin said.

Dvorkin and others have insisted that Russia can afford these measures,despite its chronic financial troubles. But others have questioned howfar Russia can go to carry out its threats. The Topol-M has been underfundedand years behind schedule.

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