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Nuclear News 12/15/99
RANSAC Nuclear News, 15 December 1999

A.  Russian Nuclear Forces

    1. Russia Deploys Second Batch Of New Nuclear Missiles, Reuters(12/10/99)
    2. Russia Test-Fires Topol Missile, REF/RL (12/14/99)
    3. Delta-IV Put In Service, Typhoon To Join, Igor Kudrik,Bellona (12/14/99)
    4. At ICBM Test, Putin Warns Off West, Vladimir Isachenkov,Associated Press (12/15/99)
    1. Uranium Institute News Briefing [HEU], Uranium InstituteOnline (12/13/99)
    1. Russian Duma Blocks Start-2, Backs Belarus Union, Reuters(12/14/99)
D.  Nuclear Waste
    1. Submarine Defuelled For Sake Of Experiment, Igor Kudrik,Bellona (12/14/99)
E.  ABM, Missile Defense
    1. Missile Defense: A Dangerous Move, Philipp C. Bleek andFrank N. von Hippel, Washington Post (12/12/99)
F.  U.S. Stockpile
    1. DoE Review Concludes Stockpile Stewardship Works, BusinessWire (12/10/99)

A. Russian Nuclear Forces

Russia Deploys Second Batch Of New Nuclear Missiles
        December 10, 1999
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW, Dec 10, 1999 -- (Reuters) Russia said on Friday it had deployeda second batch of its advanced Topol-M missiles as part of a scheme toupgrade the cash-starved country's aging nuclear arsenal with its deterrentof choice for the next century.

A Strategic Rocket Forces spokesman told Reuters the 10 intercontinentalballistic missiles went on to active duty at Tatishchevo in the southernSaratov region on the Volga River. Ten of the missiles were deployed inthe same area a year ago.

"Of the five nuclear powers, none of the others will match these weaponsin the next few years," Colonel-General Vladimir Yakovlev, the forces'commander, told Russian news agencies.

Britain, China, France and the United States are the four other declarednuclear powers which, like Russia, have a permanent seat on the UnitedNations Security Council.

On Thursday during a visit to China, President Boris Yeltsin warnedthe United States not to put pressure on Russia over its Chechnya militarycampaign and to remember Moscow had a huge nuclear arsenal. Washingtonplayed down the implied threat.

Topol-M, known to NATO as the SS-27, is a three-stage, single warheadmissile with a range of 10,000 km (6,200 miles). The 20 missiles deployedso far sit in silos and are meant as a replacement for SS-19 missiles,which date from the 1970s.

The aim is for Topol-M eventually to replace all six land-based missiletypes in silos and on mobile launchers. Russia also has missiles aboardsubmarines and aircraft.


Yakovlev told a news conference earlier this week 72 percent of Russia'sarsenal of 2,000 missiles were beyond their original shelf-life. But hesaid that did not mean they were obsolete.

"The planned pace of re-equipping the Strategic Rocket Forces has beenmaintained despite the financial difficulties faced by the nuclear forcesand the armed forces as a whole," said the latest edition of the weeklynewspaper Vek.

With cash short, the aim is to provide a credible nuclear umbrella underwhich military reform can then proceed.

But the Kremlin has yet to approve a draft military doctrine that placesincreased emphasis on nuclear deterrence and possible first strikes. Thenewspaper Izvestia said the draft may be reworked to water down thesereferences.

Yakovlev and other Russian military officials have said Topol-M is designedto carry a single warhead but could easily be adapted to carry multiplewarheads as a way to counter the United States if it goes ahead with anational missile defense system that would violate the 1972 Anti-BallisticMissile pact.

Even now Topol-M is unbeatable, Yakovlev said on Friday.

"Topol-M is able to breach any anti-missile system that exists in theworld and any which will be built in the near future," Interfax news agencyquoted the general as saying.

He told Izvestia: "I think the Americans are bluffing when they attachsuch great significance to anti-missile defense."

Russia has ruled out altering ABM to allow the United States to deploya missile shield against so-called rogue states.

Yakovlev also appeared to put pressure on the State Duma lower houseof parliament to ratify the START-2 arms pact on Monday. He told Izvestiaa failure to ratify could restart an arms race and lead to a freeze inweapons inspections.

The United States has ratified START-2, which would cut arsenals tono more than 3,500 warheads each by 2007.

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Russia Test-Fires Topol Missile
        December 14, 1999
        (for personal use only)

In the presence of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Defense Minister IgorSergeev, and commander of the Strategic Rocket Forces Vladimir Yakovlev,a Topol-M missile was launched from the Plesetsk test site, in ArkhangelskOblast, on 14 December, successfully hitting its target on the Kamchatkapeninsula, Interfax reported. The news agency quoted military officialsas saying this was the ninth test of the ballistic missile. Last week,a second contingent of Topol-M missiles went into service at Tatishchevoin Saratov Oblast (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 December 1999).

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Delta-IV Put In Service, Typhoon To Join
        Igor Kudrik
        December 14, 1999
        (for personal use only)

Russian navy repairs oldest Delta-IV; plans to put a Typhoon back inservice, questioning CTR's objectives.

The Russian Navy received additional funding from the government whatenabled it to complete repair of one Delta-IV and count on putting backinto operation one Typhoon. The latter questions whether the Co-operativeThreat Reduction program (CTR) objectives to dismantle five Typhoon classsubmarines will ever be fulfilled.

Delta-IV back in operation
The funding reportedly arrived after Russian Prime Minister VladimirPutin attended a ceremony of launching new Akula class submarine in Severodvinskin late September this year. The four-year repair works on Delta-IV classsubmarine were finished in November at Zvezdochka shipyard in Severodvinsk.The submarine is now under exams in the White Sea. This submarine was thefirst in Delta-IV class (K-51) commissioned in December 1985. The submarineis expected to operate from its home base in Gadzhievo at the Kola Peninsulafor 5-7 more years, Russian  Daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported.

Typhoon to enter service in 2001
The Typhoon class submarine - the first within its class (TK-208) -put in operation in 1981 has been under repairs at Sevmash yard in Severodvinskfor long nine years, but now it seems the submarine has a chance to leavethe workshop in 2000. The submarine may be entering active service againin early 2001. TK-208 suffered a series of incidents in 1986 and 1987.Whether these were the reason for the submarine being out of order foralmost a decade, is not known.

CTR's plans questioned?
The second submarine within the Typhoon class - K-202 - arrive thefirst week of July this year to Severodvinsk to get scrapped at Sevmashyard. The decommissioning was to be funded by the American CTR. The submarinewas commissioned in December 1983.

The CTR officials said earlier that their objective was to decommissionfive out of six available Russian Typhoon class submarines. Consideringthe fact that the oldest Typhoon class submarine will enter again activeservice in 2001, it would be unreasonable to believe that Russians willlet cut in pieces the remaining newest Typhoon submarines commissionedin late 80-s.

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At ICBM Test, Putin Warns Off West
        Vladimir Isachenkov
        Associated Press
        December 15, 1999
        (for personal use only)

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin attended a test launch of a new strategicmissile Tuesday and used the occasion to warn the West against reprimandingRussia over its offensive in Chechnya.

Russia "will not allow this and will use all diplomatic andmilitary-politicallevers in its disposal," Putin said to military officers at the Plesetsklaunch pad in northwestern Russia.

Putin spoke after the test-firing of a Topol-M intercontinental ballisticmissile, which was launched from Plesetsk and flew across Russia, hittingits target on the Kamchatka peninsula, some 5,500 kilometers to the east.

"The diplomatic levers are clear, and as for military ones, today'ssuccessful launch of the Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missile isone of them," Putin said, according to Russian news agencies.

Putin's warning followed last week's tough statement from PresidentBoris Yeltsin, who reminded U.S. President Bill Clinton that "Russia isa great power that possesses a nuclear arsenal."

Yeltsin was reacting to U.S. criticism over the Chechnya campaign. Putinat the time sought to moderate Yeltsin's statement, saying Russia and theUnited States have good relations, but his statement Tuesday sounded asharsh as Yeltsin's.

"No one can accuse the government of inappropriate use of anti-terroristmeasures in Chechnya, call Russia an aggressor or an occupier," Putin said.

The United States and other Western nations have criticized Moscow forexcessive use of force in Chechnya, causing civilian casualties and theexodus of over 230,000 refugees.

"Some nations and blocs under cover of international organizations areinterfering in affairs of independent states and trying to speak to themin the language of force, including Russia," Putin said. "Such a languageisn't habitual to us, since Russia has a nuclear shield."

Putin also warned the United States against trying to modify the 1972Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in order to build anti-missile defenses.Washington says such a defense system is intended to protect the UnitedStates from possible missile attacks by rogue nations and wouldn't be capableof deflecting a massive nuclear attack that Russia is capable of launching.But Moscow dismisses the argument.

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Uranium Institute News Briefing [HEU]
        Uranium Institute Online
        December 13, 1999
        (for personal use only)

[NB99.50-2] US: USEC is considering closing one of its uranium enrichmentplants, despite a deal with the federal government to keep two enrichmentfacilities open until 2005. USEC reckons it can save US$100 million annuallyby closing one of its plants, located in Piketon and Paducah, without violatingthe terms of the agreement. (The Beacon Journal Online, 12 December) Meanwhile,government officials are concerned about USEC's capacity or willingnessto take delivery of all the Russian SWU it is obliged to under the US-RussianHEU agreement. The government is considering appointing an alternativeexecutive agent, possibly a newly created quasi-government organisation,to take delivery of any shortfall in HEU shipments to USEC. (FreshFUEL,13 December, p1; see also News Briefing 99.49-6)

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Russian Duma Blocks Start-2, Backs Belarus Union
        December 14, 1999
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW, Dec 14, 1999 -- (Reuters) Russia's lower house of parliamentrefused on Monday to ratify a nuclear arms reduction treaty with the UnitedStates and approved a planned union with Belarus which Washington hascriticized.

Russian forces also pressed on with their military campaign in Chechnya,which has strained relations with the United States and the West. Reportersheard heavy shelling south of Grozny and a Russian envoy predicted thecapital would fall in 10 days.

The managing council in Russia's Communist-led State Duma, the lowerhouse, turned down a government request to debate and ratify the START-2nuclear arms reduction pact, signed nearly seven years ago and alreadyapproved by the U.S. Senate.

"We think the issue is not ready and should not be considered today,"said Gennady Zyuganov, leader of the opposition Communist Party which opposedthe treaty.

Although Prime Minister Vladimir Putin could appeal to deputies toreconsider,the chances of the treaty being approved before an election to the Dumaon Sunday are minimal and the new chamber is not expected to meet untilJanuary.

Vladimir Lukin, a former ambassador to Washington who heads the Duma'sforeign affairs committee, suggested Russia had lost some of the moralhigh ground gained over Washington's plans to develop an anti-missile shieldwhich violates another accord.

"The Duma Communists have done everything to make Russia share the blamewith the United States for disrupting the nuclear disarmament process,"he said.

The 1993 START-2 accord, signed by presidents Boris Yeltsin and GeorgeBush in January 1993, allows for reductions of their countries' deployednuclear warheads by up to two-thirds from about 6,000 each to no more than3,500 each by the year 2007.


The Duma also ratified a controversial merger treaty with ex-Sovietneighbor Belarus by a large majority.

The document still has to win the approval of parliament's upper chamber,the Federation Council, and then requires President Boris Yeltsin's signature.

Its allows for joint institutions, harmonization of legislation andeventually a common currency. But the two countries will preserve theirseparate political systems.

The United States has said it favors integration between European countriesin principle. But it says there is no "democratic process" in Belarus andno way to conclude that the merger would reflect the will of the Belarussianpeople.

The Duma's decisions will do nothing to improve Russian-U.S. relations,which have worsened in recent months. Yeltsin responded to President BillClinton's criticism of the Chechnya campaign last week by reminding himRussia had nuclear weapons.

Reporters in Chechnya said Russian forces trying to oust separatistfighters pounded areas around the Argun River gorge in the mountains tothe south of Grozny.

Chechen fighters conceded the loss of Khankala military airport on theeastern outskirts of Grozny but a Chechen representative later said rebelforces had retaken it. The Russian Defense Ministry could not confirm ordeny the report.

Russia's top civilian envoy to Chechnya, Nikolai Koshman, said he expectedRussian forces to take control of Grozny "in a week, 10 days at the most."But Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev reiterated that the Russian militarywould not storm the city.

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D. Nuclear Waste

Submarine Defuelled For Sake Of Experiment
        Igor Kudrik
        December 14, 1999
        (for personal use only)

Civilian ship defuelled general-purpose laid up submarine at Nerpa shipyardat the Kola Peninsula. Foreign sponsors are needed to proceed further.

Murmansk Shipping Company's (MSCo's) nuclear fuel support vessel Imandradefuelled a general-purpose nuclear submarine at Nerpa shipyard at theKola Peninsula - an operation called 'experimental' by Murmansk officials.MSCo operates nuclear powered icebreakers in Murmansk.

Imandra, which is used by MSCo to refuel nuclear powered icebreakers,made its first trip to Nerpa shipyard and defuelled two reactors of Victor-IIclass submarine (K-476) commissioned in 1975. The whole operation lastedfrom November 26 and until December 4. No incidents were reported duringthe operation. The fuel has been in submarine's reactors for around 10years. Imandra has a room for 1.500 fuel assemblies. The fuel is beingcurrently transferred to another MSCo's service vessel Lotta at Atomflotbase in Murmansk. The fuel will be further loaded into TK-18 transportcasks and shipped to the Mayak plant in Siberia for reprocessing. The spentfuel transport train is scheduled to arrive in early January 2000.

Experiment to become regular practice?
The financial side of the 'experiment' is cloaked in secrecy. No informationis available who paid MSCo to be engaged into this operation. It can beassumed, however, that MSCo has tested its technical ability to performsuch operations counting on getting funding for them from the West in thefuture.

The Co-operative Threat Reduction program, or CTR, is currently tryingto work out a project regarding decommissioning of Russian general-purposenuclear submarines. Until today, CTR has been paying for decommissioningof only ballistic missile submarines (SSBN), being in process of scrapping31 of them. This approach caused a protest from the Russian side, whichclaimed that the relatively new laid up strategic submarines do not posedanger to environment to the same degree as the older general-purpose subsdo. CTR was responsive to the critics to start working on the general-purposesubmarines project, but it has not moved much ahead since the Russian DefenceMinistry failed to date to provide adequate information to perform theproject assessment.

CTR was established in 1991 by the Department of Defence to help reduceformerly Soviet weapons of mass destruction. Since 1991, Congress has provided$2.3 billion to support CTR's efforts.

Murmansk County officials have stressed the importance of the general-purposesubmarine project when the British General Consul visited Murmansk in midNovember this year. The Great Britain has pledged earlier to spend threemillion British pounds on nuclear clean up works at the Kola Peninsula,but seems to be unsure in selecting concrete projects. The County officialsinsisted on spending money to scrap general-purpose submarines.

Around 80 general-purpose submarines in the Russian Navy have alreadybeen pulled out of service or are earmarked for removal. The major partof them is laid up at the bases of the Northern Fleet at the Kola Peninsula.

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E. ABM, Missile Defense

Missile Defense: A Dangerous Move
        Philipp C. Bleek and FrankN. von Hippel
        Washington Post
        December 12, 1999
        (for personal use only)

Like an elephant stampeded by a mouse, the United States is being driventoward increased danger by the fear that North Korea or Iran could soonacquire nuclear-armed missiles capable of reaching this country. A U.S.national missile defense system is in development, and a deployment decisionon a "thin" defense against a small number of missiles is scheduled forJuly 2000.

The desire for both prestige and bargaining leverage may motivate NorthKorea and Iran to acquire intercontinental ballistic missiles. But thesemissiles are unlikely vehicles for a deliberate nuclear attack--unlessa country wants to commit suicide. The attacker's identity would be fareasier to conceal if a boat or civilian aircraft were used.

It might make sense to invest in a missile defense "just in case"--ifthe costs were only monetary. But as Chinese, Russian and West Europeanofficials have warned repeatedly and publicly in recent months, U.S. deploymentof a national missile defense would have more far-reaching consequences.

China's military has noticed that the first antimissile base, proposedfor Alaska to intercept a potential future threat from North Korea, isalso positioned to shield against China's small intercontinental missileforce. The Chinese government fears that this might give the United Statesmore freedom to back Taiwan if that island were to declare independence.

China's response to a deployment decision would likely be to build morenuclear-armed missiles capable of reaching the United States. This wouldmove the United States toward a large-scale missile confrontation withChina similar to the one with Russia which we are finding so difficultto dismantle.

Russia's military, meanwhile, is worried about the vulnerability ofits land-based missiles to attacks by an expanded NATO equipped with theprecision-guided non-nuclear missiles and bombs demonstrated in Iraq andYugoslavia. This insecurity is compounded by the fact that Russia can nolonger afford to keep its ballistic-missile submarines hidden at sea. Russia'smissile generals see the proposed U.S. system as a first step towardconstructionof a shield against the small retaliatory strike that Russia could mountafter a U.S. first strike.

To ensure that any American missile defense could be overwhelmed, Russiawould keep as many nuclear warheads on hair-trigger, launch-on-warningalert as possible. This would increase the risk of an accidental or unauthorizedRussian launch, arguably already the greatest threat to U.S. national survival.

Ironically, standard military worst-case assessments of a U.S. nationalmissile defense by the Russian military could evoke these reactions evenif more realistic analyses indicated that the missile defense would beunlikely to intercept even a few warheads. (Although a U.S. missile defensecould eventually be tuned to work against U.S. target test missiles, fewexperts believe it would work the first time against foreign missiles equippedwith even simple countermeasures.)

If the United States deployed missile defenses, Chinese and Russianmissiles would certainly be equipped with countermeasures. As a result,even a few missiles, launched accidentally or without authorization, couldpenetrate the system. This simple fact has, in the past, sufficed to convincethe United States that it would be pointless to deploy missile defenses.

Negotiating a START III agreement with Russia would be a far more effectiveway to reduce the nuclear threat to the United States. Such an agreementwould allow almost 4,000 Russian missile warheads to be removed from theirlaunchers by the end of 2007.

This comparison between missile defense and negotiated reductions illustratesthe difficult truth that each American administration has had to relearn:The most effective protection against nuclear weapons is to strengthenthe nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament regime in cooperation withother like-minded nations. As both Russia and our West European allieshave emphasized, these cooperative efforts would most likely be derailedby a U.S. decision to go it alone in pursuit of illusory defenses.

Bill Bradley has thus far been the only presidential candidate to warnagainst a precipitous decision on national missile defense. He has alsobroken ranks by advocating that the United States respond to Russia's concernsabout the unequal impact of START II by agreeing to begin negotiationson deeper START III cuts.

Other national politicians should follow Bradley's example and thinkagain about the momentous choice between missile defense and missile reductions.If they do not, the undoing of post-Cold War reductions of the nucleardanger is all too predictable.

Philipp Bleek is with the Federation of American Scientists. Frank vonHippel is a professor of public and international affairs at PrincetonUniversity.

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F. U.S. Stockpile

DoE Review Concludes Stockpile Stewardship Works
        Business Wire
        December 10, 1999
        (for personal use only)

LIVERMORE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dec. 10, 1999--Secretary of EnergyBill Richardson today released the results of a comprehensive internalreview of the stockpile stewardship program.

The assessment concludes that the program, which began in 1993, is soundand developing the science, technology, and production capabilities neededto maintain the long-term safety, security and reliability of the nation'sexisting nuclear weapons without underground nuclear testing.

"The stockpile stewardship program is a cornerstone of our nationalsecurity, and this review confirms that it is successfully keeping ournuclear deterrent strong, and the American people safe," said Richardson.

"Every year we've seen important advances in the science and capabilitiesneeded to maintain these weapons without nuclear testing, and we believethis progress will continue. This success is a tribute to the scientists,engineers and the other dedicated employees at our laboratories and productionplants and I commend them for their hard work and dedication to our nationalsecurity."

After reviewing the report, Lawrence Livermore National Lab DirectorBruce Tarter said "I am extremely pleased at the outcome of the reviewof the stockpile stewardship program conducted by the Department of Energyfor Secretary Richardson.

"His strong endorsement that 'stockpile stewardship is on track' andthat it 'is capable of  sustaining success long into the future' areaccomplishments in which the Laboratory and other members of the nuclearweapons complex can take great pride."

"I am especially gratified at the recognition of our Laboratory'scontributions,especially our work on the Blue Pacific Supercomputer, our sub-criticalexperiments, the refurbishment of the W87 warhead, and most importantly,our ability to provide a certification of the Livermore weapons in thestockpile for a fourth consecutive year."  "I am also particularlypleased at his recommendations to address the human resource issues thatare so crucial to the program, and his focus on the long term researchenvironment including support of such programs as Laboratory Directed Researchand Development."

"This review reinforces my confidence that we can deliver on our commitmentto maintain the nation's deterrent without nuclear testing," said Tarter. The internal review of the stockpile stewardship program began in October1999. A copy of the report is available on the World Wide Web; the URLaddress is

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