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Nuclear News - 01/28/00
RANSAC Nuclear News, 28 January 2000

A.  U.S. – Russia General

    1. Why Helping Russia Is Good Presidential Politics, JonB. Wolfsthal, Global Beat Syndicate (01/25/00)
    1. U.S. Opposes Extra Russian Arms Cut Offer, Reuters(01/27/00)
    2. Albright To Talk Arms With Russia, Barry Schweid, AssociatedPress (01/27/00)
    3. Russia: Cut ArsenalsTo 1,500 Warheads; U.S. Resists, Prefers2,000 to 2,500 Units, Steven Mufson, Washington Post (01/28/00)
C.  Nuclear Waste
    1. Slovakia Suspends Shipment Of Spent Nuclear Fuel To Russia,Igor Kudrik, Bellona (01/25/00)
D.  Nuclear Power Industry
    1. GAN Threatens To Shut Down Leningrad NPP, Thomas Nilsen,Bellona (01/28/00)
    2. Atomic Plant Workers Plan Disruption, Galina Stolyarova,St. Petersburg Times (01/28/00)

A. U.S. – Russia General

Why Helping Russia Is Good Presidential Politics
        Jon B. Wolfsthal
        Global Beat Syndicate
        January 25, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Jon B. Wolfsthal is an associate with the Carnegie Endowment'sNon-ProliferationProject and is a former special assistant and policy advisor for the Departmentof Energy.

WASHINGTON -- With the New Hampshire primary just a week away, foreignpolicy issues in general, and questions concerning the danger posed byRussia's nuclear capabilities in particular, have been largely absent fromthe presidential debate.

Contrary to what one might expect, the major candidates of both partieshave advocated increasing support for current efforts to help Russia reduceits nuclear stockpiles. Assuming the U.S. - Russian relations do not completelyfall apart over the next year - no minor assumption - this bipartisan supportshould result in an increase for the important and ground-breaking efforts.

Since 1991, U.S. assistance to the former Soviet Union has been usedto dismantle nuclear delivery systems, improve security of nuclear materialsand technology, keep weapon scientists gainfully employed and out of third-world weapon programs and eliminate other weapons of mass destruction andtheir means of delivery.

These efforts have resulted in real, tangible security benefits to theUnited States and have generally received wide spread, bipartisan support.

President Clinton summed up the situation well when he stated in Octoberthat future generations will never look back and criticize us for havingdone too much to deal with this threat, but they might look back and criticizeus for having done too little.

The good news is that the leading presidential contenders for presidentin both parties support this view.

In a major foreign policy address last November, Texas Gov. George W.Bush, in addition to voicing his support for such traditional Republicanissues as missile defense and increased military spending, specificallyendorsed U.S. security assistance programs that address the proliferationthreat in the former Soviet Union. He added that as president, he would"ask the Congress to increase substantially our assistance to dismantleas many of Russia's weapons as possible, as quickly as possible."

On the Democratic side, both Vice President Al Gore and former New JerseySen. Bill Bradley have backed increased support U.S. non-proliferationprograms.

Whoever wins next November will need to fulfill their campaign promisesin the area of non-proliferation. Four areas where more money and sustainedefforts could yield substantial and immediate benefits for U.S. securityinclude:

Jobs for Russia's nuclear scientists. Unpaid and under-employed, Russiannuclear scientists pose a serious proliferation risk. President Clintonrequested $30 million this year to help develop non-defense jobs for thesescientists in as many as 10 of Russia's "closed" nuclear cities.
But they received only $7.5 million of the original $30 million request,forcing the U.S. to limit its activities to just one of these cities cities.
The U.S. should provide at least $50 million for the three cities Russiahas agreed to involve in the project and expand the effort to build businessdevelopment and training centers in as many cities as Russia is willingto allow.
Buying Russia's weapons uranium. The United States has an agreementto purchase 500 metric tons of weapons-usable uranium from Russia overa 20-year period. This has already resulted in the dilution of over 35tons of weapons-usable uranium.
But Russia may possess as much as 750 additional tons of highly enricheduranium, much of which remains highly vulnerable to theft or diversion.Additional purchases of uranium from Russia, and more rapid dilution ofthe uranium slated for sale to the United States, would have a direct andimmediate security benefit. It would also provide Russia with funds neededto improve security over nuclear materials and pay for other disarmament-relatedactivities.
Disposing of plutonium. Both countries declared sizable stockpilesof their nuclear materials to be "excess to defense needs." The two sidesare negotiating an agreement to ensure that this excess plutonium is placedin a form which impedes its reuse in nuclear weapons.
But Russia cannot pay for the construction and operation of the facilitiesneeded to dispose of this excess plutonium. The United States will needto spend approximately $2 billion domestically to dispose of its own plutoniumand should arrange to either purchase Russian plutonium for disposal inthe United States or to pay for the construction of disposal facilitiesin
Dismantling nuclear submarines. Russia has over 120 nuclear-poweredattack submarines, many of which are idle and slated for dismantlement.While the United States is paying to destroy Russian submarines that canlaunch ballistic missiles, Russia does not possess the facilities or theresources to destroy its nonategic attack subs. This is slowing thedestruction of ballistic missile submarines and risks causing a massiveenvironmental disaster in the Arctic region, near allies such as Norwayand Sweden. The United States should agree to fund Russian submarinedismantlementand spent-fuel disposition, even though this may require spending upwardsof $100 million over the next few years.

In the past, U.S. officials have been reluctant to propose programsthat would aggressively support Russia's nuclear disarmament. But now,with the leading candidates in both parties support such initiatives, it'stime to advance projects that reduce the threat of nuclear proliferation.It turns out that it's not only good policy, it may also be good politics.

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U.S. Opposes Extra Russian Arms Cut Offer
        January 27, 2000
        (for personal use only)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States, at arms control talks in Genevalast week, opposed a Russian suggestion that each country cut the sizeof its nuclear arsenal to 1,500 warheads, U.S. officials said Thursday.

"Russia has expressed a preference for lower reductions, down to a levelof some 1,500 strategic nuclear warheads on each side," State Departmentspokesman James Rubin said.

"Our position has been quite clear ... that these discussions wouldbe based on the number of 2,000 to 2,500 (strategic warheads)," he toldhis daily briefing.

Asked to explain U.S. objections to the lower figure, the spokesmansaid the 2,000-2,500 range was based on what the United States needs forstrategic deterrence.

"We can limit the nuclear danger by going down to a level of 2,000 to2,500 without jeopardizing our interest with respect to nuclear deterrence,"he said.

The three days of talks, between senior U.S. arms control official JohnHolum and Russian counterpart Yuri Kapralov, touched on U.S. nuclear defenseplans, the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty and a possible START IIIagreement.


A U.S. analyst who is well informed on the talks said a lower warheadfigure would meet opposition from U.S. generals, who would have to adjusttheir nuclear doctrine.

The United States also believes that the motive for the Russian proposalis economic necessity rather than a desire to save the world from nuclearannihilation.

Vadim Solovyov, managing editor of the Russian weekly newspaper NezavisimoyeVoyennoye Obozreniye, has come to the same conclusion on the motivation.

"There is no other way," he told Reuters. "Life itself in Russia forcesus to this level (1,500 warheads). There are no economic possibilitiesto propose anything else."

Rubin pointed out that then Russian President Boris Yeltsin agreed tothe 2,000-2,500 warhead range at the Helsinki summit with President Clintonin 1997.

Germany's Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper said this week the Russianproposal at the Geneva talks was conditional on the United States abandoninga national missile defense (NMD).

But the U.S. analyst said this was not his understanding of what happenedand did not make sense anyway, since it would give the Russians the verytwo things they want.

A more plausible proposal, he said, would be a cut to 1,500 warheadsand a promise that Russia would amend the ABM treaty, which makes it hardfor the United States to deploy the NMD, a Star Wars-style shield againstincoming missiles.


Washington says it wants the missile defense to protect the countryfrom "rogue" states, not to neutralize the deterrent effect of a massivenuclear attack by Russia.

Russia says the ABM treaty is the base for strategic stability and anychanges would endanger the world.

Rubin said that the United States would welcome any Russian recognitionthat the 1972 treaty can be amended without undermining the treaty's fundamentalpurpose.

Russia said Thursday that it had emphasized the importance of the ABMtreaty during the Geneva talks.

"Russia again stressed the need to keep the ABM treaty as the basisof strategic stability and as an important condition for reducing strategicoffensive weapons...," a Russian Foreign Ministry statement said.

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Albright To Talk Arms With Russia
        Barry Schweid
        Associated Press
        January 27, 2000
        (for personal use only)

WASHINGTON –– Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is headed to Moscowto discuss deep cuts in U.S. and Russian stockpiles of nuclear warheadswhile urging Acting President Vladimir Putin to approve "modest adjustments"in a ban on anti-missile defenses.

Albright is due to fly to Switzerland overnight for an internationaleconomic conference and then to Moscow on Sunday where she will meet withPutin as well as Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, her spokesman James Rubinsaid Thursday.

The visit will be dominated by arms-control issues, but Albright isbound to register strong U.S. condemnation of the Russian military assaulton Chechnya, even while supporting Russia's authority to counter terrorismand secession in the rebellious republic.

Rubin denounced the blitz in Chechnya and its heavy civilian toll as"out of bounds" and "profoundly disturbing."

Albright will be the highest-ranked Clinton administration officialto meet with Putin since Boris N. Yeltsin announced his resignation NewYear's Eve and appointed Putin to succeed him until elections are heldin three months.

The former KGB officer was associated with a number of leading reformersin St. Petersburg, his hometown, and then in Moscow, Rubin said.

Albright "wants to get a firsthand assessment of how he intends to operatenow that he's the acting president, which brings additional responsibilities,"Rubin said.

Last week, Albright praised Putin as "one of the leading reformers"and said "from what we can tell, he seems determined to move reform forward."

In Moscow, meanwhile, supporters of Putin in the Russian parliamentreached a power-sharing deal with communists that angered liberals andcentrists.

Albright intends to renew a U.S. pitch that the Russian parliament ratifythe 1993 START II treaty, which calls for reducing the U.S. and Russianarsenals of long-range nuclear warheads to 3,000 to 3,500 apiece.

But Yeltsin's endorsement failed to convince nationalists in the parliament.It also didn't convince some Russian military chiefs who object to thetreaty partly because it eliminates Russia's edge in some weapons and wouldrequire large outlays to build allowable weapons in other categories.

The Clinton administration has proposed a follow-up START III treaty,with ceilings of 2,000 to 2,500 warheads apiece, but Russia is lookingfor even deeper cutbacks, possibly to some 1,500 strategic warheads oneach side.

Rubin said these approaches had been under discussion with Russia forseveral months and the talks would continue during Albright's visit.

At the same time, he said, Albright would like to see Russia agree to"modest adjustments" in a 1972 U.S.-Russia treaty that banned nationalmissile defenses on the theory that the prospect of devastating retaliationwould forestall a nuclear attack.

President Clinton is expected to give a green light to a $6.6 billionanti-missile defense against such potential nuclear states as North Koreaand Iran. Russia has refused to consider altering the anti-ballistic missiletreaty, arguing it has the potential of initiating a new arms race.

"Any recognition by Russia that amendments to the ABM Treaty can beaccomplished without undermining the fundamental purpose of the ABM Treatywould be a welcome step in the right direction because it would mean thatthey have understood that there are dangers," Rubin said.

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Russia: Cut ArsenalsTo 1,500 Warheads; U.S. Resists, Prefers 2,000to 2,500 Units
        Steven Mufson
        Washington Post
        January 28, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Russia is pressing the United States to slash to 1,500 the number ofstrategic nuclear warheads held by each side, but American arms controlnegotiators have maintained that 2,000 to 2,500 warheads are needed foreffective nuclear deterrence, the State Department said yesterday.

In arms control talks in Geneva last week, the United States urged Russiato amend the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty to permit the United Statesto construct a national missile defense system, intimating that Russianflexibility on the ABM Treaty might influence talks on deep cuts in arsenalsof nuclear warheads.

"We need to make modest adjustments to the ABM Treaty that will notinterfere with our ability to have strategic stability between the UnitedStates and Russia, and meanwhile enable us to move lower and lower downto, as we have proposed, a level of some 2,000 to 2,500 warheads," saidState Department spokesman James P. Rubin.

The three days of talks last week in Geneva, between senior U.S. armscontrol official John Holum and Russian counterpart Yuri Kapralov, touchedon U.S. nuclear defense plans, the ABM Treaty and a possible agreementon phase three of the Strategic Arms Reduction Talks, known as START III.

President George Bush and Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev agreed in1991 in START I to cut nuclear warheads to 6,000 each. The current U.S.-Russianarms control agreement--START II, signed in 1993--aims at reducing thenumber of warheads deployed by each side to between 3,000 and 3,500. Theagreement has languished in the Russian parliament, though Russia's actingpresident, Vladimir Putin, has urged Russian lawmakers to ratify it.

Russia wants to move toward deeper cuts in nuclear arsenals primarilyfor economic, rather than strategic, reasons. Russia's defense ministerhas said publicly that Russia probably could afford to possess no morethan 500 warheads by 2012.

The U.S. position has been based on a 1997 review overseen by then-Chairmanof the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili on the minimum levels ofnuclear warheads needed to deter other nations from launching a nuclearattack.

"We can achieve a lot in terms of reductions, we can achieve a lot interms of improving security, we can limit the nuclear danger by going downto a level of 2,000 to 2,500 without jeopardizing . . . our interests withrespect to nuclear deterrence," Rubin said yesterday.

Rubin noted that former Russian president Boris Yeltsin and PresidentClinton agreed in 1997 talks in Helsinki that nuclear arms control talkswould be based on a reduction to between 2,000 and 2,500 warheads on eachside.

Meanwhile, the United States continued to ask Russia to view the missiledefense system the United States is developing as a defensive system againstsmall numbers of warheads that might be launched by so-called rogue nationsfor which deterrence might not work.

The Clinton administration has argued that the missile defense systemcould not stop a large-scale Russian attack and that it therefore shouldnot affect the ABM Treaty, which sought to deter nuclear war through mutualvulnerability. Russia maintains that the defense system could be expandedlater and violates the ABM Treaty.

Next week, Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright will take up theissue of nuclear warhead reductions during talks in Moscow with Putin andForeign Minister Igor Ivanov.

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C. Nuclear Waste

Slovakia Suspends Shipment Of Spent Nuclear Fuel To Russia
        Igor Kudrik
        January 25, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Slovakia suspends shipment of spent nuclear fuel to Russia for reprocessing,plans to adopt dry storage option.

Shipment of around 300 tons of Slovakian spent nuclear fuel to Russiafor reprocessing was abruptly halted by the Slovakian Ministry of Economy.Ivan Miklosh, the deputy head of the ministry, said the deal was damagingfor the country's economy what prompted its suspension for indefinite time.

Slovakian spent fuel was to come from the Soviet designed reactors atBohunice nuclear power plant. Slovak Electricity Utilities company wason contract with its Russian counterpart Tenex (also known as Joint StockCompany Techsnabexport) to ship 10 train sets loaded with spent fuel toRussia. The first train was to departure late January last year. But inthe end of 1999, Slovak Electrical Utilities said it was not able to payfor shipment and insisted on funding the deal through restructuring thedebt of the Soviet Union (now Russia) to Slovakia. The debt is said tobe around $1 billion.

The first week of January, a new energy sector development strategywas approved in Slovakia. The country today faces two alternatives regardingmanagement of spent nuclear fuel. The first alternative that assumes shipmentof spent fuel to Russia would roughly cost $6 billion. The price tag forthe second option - construction of a dry storage - is around $1,7 billion.This particular deference drew the attention of the Slovakian Ministryof Economy that pushed through to suspend the deal.

Slovakia is among the four countries that keep shipments of spent fuelfor reprocessing at the Mayak plant in South-Ural (the others are the CzechRepublic, Bulgaria and Ukraine). All four are evaluating viability of suchpolicy.

In 1995, Finland decided to build a storage facility for spent nuclearfuel generated at the Soviet-designed Lovisa Nuclear Power Plant. Hungaryclaimed it would to halt shipments and working on completing a dry storage.

Russian NGOs applauded the decision made by Slovakian government andexpressed their hopes the deal would never be resumed.

"The plans to ship nuclear waste to Russia are not economically viableand environmentally dangerous," Vladimir Slivyak, the co-ordinator ofantinuclearcampaign of Russian Socio-Ecological Union, said to Bellona Web. "Theystarted to understand it in Slovakia but not in Russia," Slivyak added.

The refusal of Slovakia to go on with the deal will be yet another blowfor the Russian reprocessing industry. Such situation is greeted by theRussian NGOs since the Mayak reprocessing plant has been and still is themain contributor to the radioactive contamination of the area around.

Slovakia operates five VVER-type nuclear reactors: Four at Bohunicenuclear power plant and one at Mochovce nuclear power plant.

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D. Nuclear Power Industry

GAN Threatens To Shut Down Leningrad NPP
        Thomas Nilsen
        January 28, 2000
        (for personal use only)

(St. Petersburg:) The Russian Nuclear Regulatory Authority (GAN) saysLeningrad nuclear power plant must be shut down should the workers be seriousabout their threat to reduce the power out-put from the reactors duringa protest action.

Tension is gripping even harder Leningrad nuclear power plant this week,after the plant's labour union has announced that they will occupy thereactors control room on February 5, and step by step reduce the poweroutput.

Now, as a response to this threat, Northwest Russia GAN says the threeoperating reactors at Leningrad nuclear power plant must be shut down.According to the rules, a reducing of power output must follow a detailedscenario that has to be approved by the administration of the plant. Sinceconflict is initiated by the labour union, the plant's mangers will neverapprove such scenario. A statement by the press office of the nuclear powerplant says that those workers who will take initiative to reduce the poweroutput might risk legal counter-reaction.

According to the Russian law, strikes at nuclear power plants are illegal,unless administration of a nuclear power plant approve it, which is notthe case this time at Leningrad NPP. The workers demand 40 percent salaryincrease, while the management offers only 10 percent.

The workers plan to go on work as usual on February 5, but after theirshift is over they do not intend to leave their working places. The newshift will do the same, so after 16 hours it will be three times as manyworkers than regularly in the reactor control room. Reducing the powereffect of the reactor is a more complicated job than to keep it operatingas normal. And presence of doubled and tripled numbers of workers at theplace would create the tension in the control room that might lead to adangerous situation.

The three operating reactors (RBMK-1000) produce a total of 3000 megawatt.First, the effect will be reduced down to 2500 megawatt, thereafter 2000megawatt and further down to a total stop of the power plant. The strikecommittee has not revealed any information about the time schedule forthe action - likely to be kept secret to press the management to replypositively to their demands before all three reactors are shut down.

There are a total of 7,500 employees at Leningrad nuclear power plant,but it is not probable that the majority will follow the decisions madeby the strike committee, making the internal conflict and the level ofstress even worse.

The plant stands for 45-50 percent of the electricity production inLeningrad Oblast, and exports electricity to the regions of Novgorod, Pskov,Kaliningrad and Finland. A complete shut down of the reactors will havea dramatic effect on most of these regions.

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Atomic Plant Workers Plan Disruption
        Galina Stolyarova
        St. Petersburg Times
        January 28, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Unsuccessful in their attempts to force management to accept demandsfor a pay raise, workers at the Leningrad Atomic Power Station, or LAES,are planning to lower the power at the plant for an unspecified periodstarting Feb. 5.

LAES workers, who are protesting against low and irregular salaries,presented the power station's administration with a petition calling fora 50 percent increase in salaries at the end of last year.

The petition also called for compensation for salary delays in 1998and 1999, and the provision of all workers at the plant and their familieswith medical insurance.

Valery Lebedev, the director of LAES, has not responded to the petition.The deadline the workers had set him ended last Friday. Lebedev's earlierproposal of a 10.9 percent wage increase had already been rejected.

By law, strikes - stopping work completely and walking out - at atomicpower stations are illegal, while a lowering of power must follow a detailedscenario, to be approved by the plant's administration.

If approved, any consequences arising from the power loss will be theresponsibility of the director Lebedev. If the LAES management does notapprove the "strike," the workers must continue as usual. If they lowerthe power anyway, they risk legal action.

"In the case the management's wishes are ignored], the 14 people ofthe committee who initiated this action will be responsible for all financiallosses attributable to the stoppage," explained Sergei Averyanov, headof the LAES information center.

"A 24 hour stoppage would mean a loss of 2.5 million rubles for LAES,about 10 million rubles for the power systems it supplies, and much morefor the systems' clients," Averyanov said.

A LAES press spokesman, Mikhail Melyekhin, was quoted by Kommersantdaily newspaper this week as saying that lowering the power at the atomicstation will not be dangerous.

But Averyanov also said that the duration of the strike will probablydepend on "results" - in other words, what workers consider to be favorablereaction from their bosses.

LAES' management is maintaining that a 50 percent salary raise is outof the question. Such an increase, Lebedev said when the demands were firstmade in December 1999, would be possible only if and when LAES makes aprofit - an unlikely scenario, reply the workers, given the financial figuresfor 1999.

"During the fourth quarter of 1999," said Ivan Bykov of the LAES tradeunion and a member of the strike committee, "the plant's earnings fellcompared to the third quarter the same year."

According to Averyanov, the power systems LAES supplies currently owes5 billion rubles, with the largest debtor being Lenenergo. LAES' othermain contractors include power systems in Pskov, Kaliningrad, Novgorod,Minsk, and several other places in Russia and Belarus.

LAES supplies the Northwest region (via power systems) with 60 percentof its energy requirements. Lowering the power at LAES will reduce thecapabilities of the region's power systems by 3,000 megawatts, accordingto an Itar-Tass report earlier this week.

"Power systems pay us in shares, bonds and bills of exchange," Averyanovsaid. "At best, 14 percent of the sum is paid in 'real' money."

Furthermore, the price of the energy LAES provides, which is determinedby the Ministry of Atomic Energy, is too low.

"If the ministry doesn't increase the [energy] tariffs, atomic powerstations [in Russia] will continue at a loss," Averyanov said.

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