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Nuclear News - 02/11/00
RANSAC Nuclear News, 11 February 2000


A.  Plutonium Disposition

    1. U.S.-Russian Moratorium Proposed on Plutonium Production,Michael Dobbs, Washington Post (02/08/00)
B.  FY01 Budget
    1. On-the-Record Briefing on the FY2001 International AffairsBudget Request [excerpt], Anne Richard, Director, Department of StateOffice of Resources, Plans and Policy (02/07/00)
C.  Brain Drain
    1. No Evidence Russians Helping Third World Make Weapons,Irina Chumakova, Itar Tass [FBIS Transcribed Text] (02/03/00)
D.  Loose Nukes
    1. Military Admits Theft Of Radioactive Metal From Sub,NonnaChernyakova, Vladivostok News Online (02/04/00)
E.  START
    1. Duma Defense Committee Chairman Favors Start-2Ratification,Interfax (02/08/00)
    2. Good Chance Russia Will Ratify START II, Agence FrancePresse (02/11/00)
    3. Arms Control, Behind the Scenes, Newsweek (02/14/00)
F.  Nuclear Testing
    1. Seven Subcritical Tests In Arctic, Thomas Nilsen, Bellona(02/08/00)
G.  Russian Nuclear Forces
    1. Russia Test-Fires Topol-M Missile, Agence France Presse(02/10/00)
    2. Japan Allocates $120 Million For Utilization Of RussianNuclear-PoweredSubmarines, Polit.ru Online News (02/11/00)
H.  NPT
    1. Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear WeaponsIneffective,Itar Tass (02/09/00)
I.  Nuclear Power Industry
    1. Nuclear Power Poised For Renaissance? RFE/RL(02/09/00)
 

A. Plutonium Disposition

1.
U.S.-Russian Moratorium Proposed on Plutonium Production
        Michael Dobbs
        Washington Post
        February 8, 2000
        (for personal use only)

The Clinton administration called yesterday for a major expansion ofits nuclear nonproliferation programs in Russia in return for a Russianpromise to stop producing plutonium from the spent fuel of civiliannuclearreactors.

The proposal for a U.S.-Russian moratorium on the production ofplutoniumis part of a new, $100 million assistance package put together by theDepartmentof Energy for fiscal 2001. It's the first time that the United States hasattempted to limit Russia's stockpile of civilian, reactor-gradeplutonium,as opposed to the weapons-grade plutonium specifically designed for usein nuclear weapons.

U.S. officials and independent nuclear experts described the proposedmoratorium as a potentially significant move toward controlling andeventuallyreducing the vast quantity of fissionable materials left in the formerSoviet Union after the collapse of communism. But they cautioned that keyissues remain to be worked out, including a marked reduction in Russia'snuclear cooperation with Iran, which the Clinton administration fearscouldhelp Tehran acquire nuclear weapons.

In a telephone interview, Energy Secretary Bill Richardson said heplansto hold talks with his Russian counterpart, Yevgeny Adamov, over the nexttwo months to work out details of the agreement, first reported yesterdayby the New York Times.

"We have an agreement in principle," he said. "The Russian assurancesare strong enough so that we put it in our budget."

Until now, Russia has taken the spent fuel from its 29 civilianreactorsand reprocessed it, producing about a ton of reactor-grade plutonium ayear. Although the plutonium is not suitable for use in Russian nuclearweapons, it could be of interest to rogue nations or terrorist groupsseekingto build crude nuclear devices and is therefore considered a significantproliferation threat by American experts.

The Energy Department's proposal includes a U.S. contribution of $45million toward the design and construction of a dry storage facility inRussia for spent nuclear fuel that would otherwise be used for theproductionof plutonium. Also included in the budget request is $20 million forresearchingalternative nuclear fuel cycle options and an additional $30 million forsafeguarding fissionable materials and for converting nuclear warheadproductionfacilities.

If Congress approves the request, it would amount to a 40 percentincreasein the cost of the Energy Department's nonproliferation efforts in Russia,now about $250 million a year.

U.S. officials said the research and development component of theprogramwas contingent on Russia scaling back its transfer of nuclear technologyto Iran. They cited, in particular, reports that Russian companies areconsidering supplying Iran with a heavy-water research reactor that couldbe used to produce plutonium.

Russia is believed to possess around 30 tons of civilian reactor-gradeplutonium, enough to make 3,000 nuclear weapons. Estimates of its militaryplutonium stockpiles range from 100 to 150 tons.

Undersecretary of Energy Ernest P. Moniz, who was in Moscow last weekto discuss the proposed agreement, said the United States was in the finalstages of negotiating an agreement to reduce stockpiles of military-originplutonium. He said the goal is to destroy two tons of weapons-gradeplutoniumeach year starting in 2007.

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B. FY01 Budget

1.
On-the-Record Briefing on the FY2001 International Affairs BudgetRequest [excerpt]
        Anne Richard, Director,Department of State Office of Resources, Plans and Policy
        February 7, 2000
        (for personal use only)

In the former Soviet Union, the Newly Independent States, we arerequestingcontinued funding for the Expanded Threat Reduction Initiative and fundingfor solidifying democracy and promoting free markets in the states of theformer Soviet Union. The request for NIS funds is $830 million, of which$87 million is for the Expanded Threat Reduction Initiative.

We also have an additional pot of money for support ETRI so the StateDepartment's contribution to this US Government-wide initiative is $141million. The entire US Government total is almost a billion dollars; it's$974 million. The other piece is coming from the Defense Department andthe Energy Department.

The Expanded Threat Reduction Initiative is intended to addressproliferationof weapons of mass destruction and materials used in their production.It also is intended to redirect the work of scientists in the formerSovietUnion toward peaceful civilian research and development activities andto keep them from going to work for rogue states or terrorists.

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C. Brain Drain

1.
No Evidence Russians Helping Third World Make Weapons
        Irina Chumakova
        Itar Tass [FBIS TranscribedText]
        February 3, 2000
        (for personal use only)

The Foreign Intelligence Service [FIS] has no evidence that Russianspecialists in the production of mass destruction weapons are working inthe Third World countries that produce mass destruction weapons or arelaunching their production, head of the FIS press center Boris Labusovsaid in an ITAR-TASS interview today. He recalled that back in 1993 theFIS published a book entitled "New challenge after Cold War: proliferationof mass destruction weapons". It contained a detailed study of the issueby FIS experts and said there was no evidence of Russian specialistsworkingin this sphere in Third World countries. These words "still hold true,and the Russian side has repeatedly conveyed this information to theAmericanside through various channels, including the Russian Foreign Ministry,"Boris Labusov stressed.

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