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Nuclear News - 03/01/00
RANSAC Nuclear News, 01 March 2000


    1. Parliamentary Hearings on Start-2, ABM to Be Held Mar 21,Itar Tass (02/22/00)
    2. Russia Will Leave START-I And II If Washington Violates ABM,Agence France Presse (02/26/00)
    3. Putin Urges Approval of Arms Treaty, Associated Press(02/26/00)
    4. Russia-US Discuss Disarmament at Geneva, Itar Tass(03/01/00)
    1. Reduction Of Russian Arsenal Lags Lack Of US Funding BlamedFor Failure To Destroy Uranium, John Donnelly and David Beard, BostonGlobe (02/26/00)
    2. Harvard Report Urges Faster Nuclear Disarmament, JulietJ. Chung, Harvard Crimson (02/28/00)
    3. News Briefing [HEU], Uranium Institute (02/29/00)
C. Russia - Iran
    1. Moscow Slams U.S. For 'Pseudo-Imperial Approach' Over Iran,RFE RL (02/28/00)
    1. Submarine Decommissioning Plans For 2000 Are Taking Shape,Igor Kudrik and Alexey Klimov, Bellona (02/24/00)
E. Nuclear Power Industry
    1. Russia To Begin Work On Nuclear Plant In India Next Year,RFE/RL (03/01/00)
F. Gore – Chernomydrin Council (GCC)
    1. Mixed Results, Naftali Bendavid, Chicago Tribune(02/29/00)
G. Nuclear Waste
    1. Soviet Weapons Radiation Legacy Less Than Feared,EnvironmentalNews Service (02/28/00)
H.  Russia – Kosovo
    1. Yugoslavia's Nuclear Fuel Alarms U.S., John Diamond,Chicago Tribune (02/29/00)


Parliamentary Hearings on Start-2, ABM to Be Held Mar 21
        Itar Tass
        February 22, 2000
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW, February 22 (Itar-Tass) - Dmitry Rogozin, Chairman of the Committeeon International Affairs of the State Duma lower house of the Russianparliament,announced here on Tuesday that the Committee determined a time-table forparliamentary hearings on military strategy matters. The House is to holdhearings on a comprehensive ban on nuclear bans (March 14), the START-2and ABM Treaties on March 21, and the Open Skies Treaty on April 4.

All the parliamentary hearings are to be held in the Defence Ministrybuilding in a closed-door fashion, without journalists' television camerasand discating machines, said the MP, pointing out that it was he who insistedon such a decision.

The Committee Chairman pointed out the need to enable the MPs "to getacquainted with all the details and nuances of the documents, the attitudeof our agencies, including the Ministry of Defence, the Foreign Ministryand the Presidential administration, and make a decision following thedictates of their conscience".

Rogozin's reasons for his attitude are that the holding of closed-doorparliamentary hearings outside the Duma will prevent them from being usedbefore March 26 as "a political rostrum for presidential candidates".
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Russia Will Leave START-I And II If Washington Violates ABM
        Agence France Presse
        February 26, 2000
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW, Feb 26, 2000 -- (Agence France Presse) Russia will automaticallyleave the START-I and START-II disarmament agreements if the United Statesdecides to violate the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, Russian SecurityCouncil chief Sergei Ivanov warned Friday.

"We have no intention of breaking any agreement whatsoever. But if theUnited States violates the ABM Treaty, we will automatically leave START-1and START-II," Ivanov said via the Interfax news agency.

"I don't think it will be a difficult decision for the US administration.They still haven't made a definitive decision," he added.

The United States hopes to modify the 1972 ABM Treaty to enable it todeploy its new national missile defense system, which it says it needsto protect itself from new nuclear powers like North Korea.

But Moscow, backed by Beijing, has bluntly refused to modify the treatywhich it views as the cornerstone of world security.
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Putin Urges Approval of Arms Treaty
        Associated Press
        February 26, 2000
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW (AP) - Acting President Vladimir Putin urged Russian parliamentleaders Saturday to ratify the START II nuclear arms reduction treaty,which lawmakers have balked at approving since it was signed in 1993.

Putin discussed the treaty during a three-hour meeting with the partyleaders in parliament, and urged them to hold debate on START II at thisspring's session, Russian news reports said.

Leaders of two of the parties, Yabloko and the Union of Right Forces,have said they would support ratification.

The Communists, parliament's largest party, long frustrated Boris Yeltsinby refusing to approve it, saying it threatens Russia's security. But theCommunists lost several allies in parliament in December elections, andthe pro-government party Unity won the second-largest number of seats,encouraging hopes for START-II ratification.

The accord halves U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals to 3,000 to 3,500warheads each. It was signed by both countries' presidents in 1993 andratified by the U.S. Senate in 1996.

Putin and the parliament leaders also discussed Chechnya. Putin reiteratedthat peace talks were unlikely because there were no feasible Chechennegotiatingpartners, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported.

The meeting also addressed introducing open land sales - seen as a keystage in democratic reforms - and the beleaguered Russian military.

Putin is the clear front-runner among 11 candidates for March 26 presidentialelections. He launched his election campaign Friday with promises to builda strong state, combat crime, streamline the government and lower taxes.
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Russia-US Discuss Disarmament at Geneva
        Itar Tass
        March 1, 2000
        (for personal use only)

GENEVA, March 1 (Itar-Tass) - Russia and the United States are discussingin Genera disarmament questions connected with the possible conclusionof the START-3 treaty and consolidation of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.The fourth round of bilateral consultations on these problems opened atthe Russian mission of the United Nations European office on Tuesday.

The debate will be continued at the US mission on Wednesday and on Thursday,Tass learnt from diplomatic sources. The round held in camera will probablyend on Thursday.

The Russian delegation is led by Yuri Kapralov, director of the ForeignMinistry's security and disarmament department. The US delegation is ledby John Holum, under-secretary of state for arms control and internationalsecurity.

The United States wishes to remove the barriers that the 1972 ABM Treatyplaces in the way of creating the so-called "limited" national anti-missiledefence. The US refers to threats that allegedly come from "rogue" countries,which is how Washington regards North Korea, Iraq and Iran.

Moscow stressed that it is not going to participate in upsetting theABM Treaty and tries to persuade US partners at the consultations in Genevanot to jeopardise strategic stability that shaped in the world after WorldWar II. At the Geneva Conference for Disarmament the other day, Russianambassador Vasily Sidorov said that Russia is not conducting negotiationswith the United States on the adaptation of the ABM Treaty. The currentbilateral consultations should not be viewed as such negotiations.

According to US sources, the US delegation, during the previous roundin Geneva in January, made a number of proposals to Russia and now expectsan answer. A representative of the US administration, on condition of anonymity,expressed the hope in Washington the other day that the debates would bemore specific this time.

However, Moscow and Beijing that is on similar positions have not alteredtheir principled approach to preserving the ABM Treaty. Sidorov said onFebruary 24 that the revision of the 1972 Treaty would call in questioneverything that had been achieved in nuclear disarmament, non-proliferationand arms control over the past 30 years which would inevitably affect theinterests of security of the United States itself, not only other countries.

Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov of the Russian Defence Ministry's chiefagency for international military cooperation, who delivered a report onthe Russian military doctrine in Geneva on February 16, dismissed as utterabsurdity US assertions that it needs national anti-missile defence forprotection against North Korea's ballistic missiles. He said the problem,essentially, is that the United States wishes to change the strategic balanceafter getting a protective umbrella.
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Reduction Of Russian Arsenal Lags Lack Of US Funding Blamed ForFailure To Destroy Uranium
        John Donnelly and DavidBeard
        Boston Globe
        February 26, 2000
        (for personal use only)

WASHINGTON - Despite seven years and hundreds of millions of dollars,the United States has helped reduce only a tenth of Russia's stockpilesof highly enriched, weapons-grade uranium, according to aHarvard Universityreport to be released next month.

The report, written by former White House nonproliferation specialistMatthew Bunn, raises deep concerns because of the extent of the problem,the lack of security surrounding Russia's nuclear stockpiles, and the Clintonadministration's lack of funding toward resolving the issue.Outlining thereport, Bunn said the United States risked calamity if it did not act swiftlyby sharply increasing funding to render plutonium and weapons-grade uraniumharmless. Both are used to build nuclear bombs.

"If plutonium or highly enriched uranium became available on the blackmarket, virtually any state, or well-organized terrorist group, might beable to make a nuclear bomb, and they could do so with virtuallyno warningto the international community," he said this week. "It could come outof nowhere."

Considering the former Soviet Union's aging facilities, the region'sailing economy, and the number of nations and terrorist groups interestedin acquiring nuclear materials, "the problem is probably worse today thanwhen we started working on it," said Graham Allison, a Russian specialistat Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.

"This is the biggest single threat to American lives today," Allisonsaid.

After the breakup of the Soviet Union, there were hopes of substantialreductions in Russian and US nuclear arsenals – and vast outlays of aidto encourage a stable transition in Moscow. The report focuses on how slowlyRussia's nuclear arsenal has been reduced and attributes it to a lack offunding from the United States and its allies.

The report, which will be published jointly by Harvard and the CarnegieEndowment for International Peace in Washington, makes several recommendations.Chief among them is to double or triple the US annual budget of $500 millionfor safeguarding nuclear warheads and materials in Russia.

According to the report, the additional money should be used to:

Accelerate a program to tighten security at Russian civilian and militaryinstallations holding the radioactive material.

Reduce the stockpiles of highly enriched uranium by blending it withother forms of uranium, making it unusable for weapons, and then storingit in Russia.

Shrink Russia's nuclear weapons complex, including its 10 closed cities– now home to 750,000 people.

Find new sources of money, such as debt-for-nuclear-security swaps,to hasten disarmament.

Promote verifiable dismantling of nuclear warheads.

Finance the transformation of Russia's excess plutonium, about 88 tons,into forms that cannot be used for weapons.

Bunn said the cost would be $5 billion to $8 billion over five years.On an annual basis, that would be less than 1 percent of the US defensebudget.

Earlier this month, the Clinton administration recommended spendingabout $600 million in the next fiscal year toward nuclear safeguards inRussia, a $100 million increase. The money would mostly go toward increasingsecurity of spent reactor fuel and building a dry-cask storage facilityfor the fuel.

In addition, US officials said, the United States and Russia are closeto an agreement to dispose of plutonium at military facilities. If thedeal is reached for converting and disposing of 34 tons of plutonium, thecost would be $1 billion to $3 billion. The administration would seek $200million toward the plutonium project this year, the officials said.

Russia is believed to have as much as 160 tons of plutonium and morethan 1,000 tons of highly enriched uranium, or HEU, which are stockpiledin more than 300 buildings on more than 40 sites.

So far, the HEU-reduction program, started in 1993, has eliminated 75tons of the more than 1,000-ton stockpile.

"We are operating in an environment in Washington where we can't fundeverything," said Gary S. Samore, special assistant to the president onnonproliferation at the National Security Council. "We are seeking fundsfrom Congress in the hundreds of millions of dollars range, and our focusnext will be on the plutonium question.In our HEU agreement with Russia,we are currently disposing 30 metric tons a year from Russian weapons.We don't have a comparable program on the plutonium side."

Told of the Harvard report's recommendations, Samore said he agreedwith the goals. He added that it could be expanded but noted the fiscalconstraints.

A senior US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, advocatedmore fundingfor safeguarding Russia's nuclear materials.

"This is an immense problem. We are spending billions and billions ofdollars and still just scratching the surface," the official said.

John B. Wolfsthal, a former offical at the Department of Energy onnonproliferationand now an associate at the Carnegie Endowment, is more blunt about therisk posed by Russia's nuclear stockpile.

"If you ask me, 'What's the main reason New York City hasn't gone upin a mushroom cloud?' I'd say the main reason is we've been lucky," Wolfsthalsaid.

As an example of the vulnerability of nuclear materials, Bunn, a nuclearspecialist at the Kennedy School, cited the terror plans by the Japanesesect AUM Supreme Truth, which was responsible for the 1995attack usingsarin, a nerve gas, that killed 11 people. AUM established chemical, biological,and nuclear weapons programs, including purchasing an Australian sheepfarm rich in uranium deposits. The group mined uranium and then failedat the enormously complex task of turning the material into highly enricheduranium, the heart of a nuclear bomb, said Bunn, citing previously publishedmaterials.

In the meantime, AUM members set up base in Russia, "recruited thousandsof people," and met with senior government officials as well as nuclearscientists at Kurchatov Institute in Moscow and at Moscow State University,he said. Several reports have said that sect members bribed senior Russianofficials with hundreds of thousands of dollars.

But their plans failed. "Even though they had highly trained technicalpeople inthe cult, they also were fanatical cult members and weren't thinkingas well as they might have been," Bunn said.

Even if the US government suddenly puts more resources toward nuclearsafeguards, Bunn said, Russian cooperation is no longer as assured as itwas in the days after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

With Russian elections scheduled for next month, uncertainty swirlsaround the policies of the likely next president, Vladimir V. Putin. US-Russiatensions also could escalate over a number of issues, includingthe Chechnyawar and a bill passed this week in the US Senate that would suspend somepayments to Russia because of its suspected sales of technology for nuclearand biological weapons to Iran.

"The window of opportunity is not looking as wide open as it was in1993 and 1994," Bunn said. "We lost some major opportunity to take fasteraction."

He emphasized that these programs can only work as "real partnershipswith Russia, serving Russia's security interests as well."

For now, he said, considerable credit should go to Russian scientistsand technicians who have watched over the nuclear stockpile. "Given theirintermittent pay, given their desperation, the fact we haven't seen a worseproblem says a lot about the patriotism and devotion to duty in the Russiannuclear complex," he said.
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Harvard Report Urges Faster Nuclear Disarmament
        Juliet J. Chung
        Harvard Crimson
        February 28, 2000
        (for personal use only)

(U-WIRE) CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- According to a new Harvard report, thelack of true U.S. commitment to nuclear disarmament in Russia poses anever-growing risk to national and world security.

The report's author, Matthew G. Bunn, the Harvard Kennedy School's assistantdirector of the Science, Technology and Public Policy Program, said surplusstores of plutonium and highly enriched uranium (HEU) have posing an increasedthreat to U.S. security. Both plutonium and HEU can be used to make nuclearbombs.

According to a Boston Globe article published Saturday, Russia is believedto have a stockpile of 160 tons of plutonium and more than 1,000 tons ofHEU located in 40 sites.

Bunn said Russia's depressed economy, combined with theft and corruption,results in serious risks that plutonium or HEU could fall into "the wronghands."

Bunn said he attributes the slowness of the reduction effort the U.S.administration's failure to commit to the effort.

"There's been an unfortunate lack of high level leadership from theWhite House," Bunn said.

"[There's been] a tendency to give lip service to the idea that thisis a priority without actually putting in the sustained effort, money andpeople behind it that would signal that it was a  priority," he said.

In his report, Bunn calls for a doubling or tripling of current fundingfor the safeguarding and reduction of nuclear stockpiles. The increasedbudget, from $1 to $1.5 billion, would comprise one half of one percentof the U.S. defense budget.

Bunn also recommends the HEU be mixed with low-grade uranium which,while making the uranium unusable in bombs, would still be useful aspower-reactorfuel.

The report comes on the heels of efforts by the U.S. to improve U.S.-Russiarelations on the monitoring of nuclear weapons material.

In October, Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson signed an agreementwith Russia inaugurating a joint center to monitor the use of nuclear materials.

But Bunn argues that more comprehensive measures are needed.

"Although the U.S. has a wide range of specific programs on differentaspects, much more needs to be done if we're going to avoid a possibleproliferation catastrophe," he said.

Bunn said he attributes the fact that such a catastrophe has not yetoccurred to many of the parties involved.

"First, we've been lucky," he said. "Second is the amazing patriotismand devotion of the vast majority of nuclear scientists and techniciansin Russia."

Bunn said the combined effort by the Russian and U.S. governments alsoplayed a role.

The report will be published by Harvard's Project on Managing the Atomand the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.
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News Briefing [HEU]
        Uranium Institute
        February 29, 2000
        (for personal use only)

[NB00.09-6] US: The proposed matched sales amendment to the Russiansuspension agreement has been rejected by Cameco, Cogema and the governmentof Namibia. All of the parties commented that the amended agreement wouldlead to further depressed US and international uranium prices. Both Camecoand Cogema claimed the proposed programme also undermines the US-RussianHEU feed deal. The Canadian government also contended that the proposedmatched sales agreement would violate assurances given to Canada by theUS State Department during North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)negotiations in 1994. (Ux Weekly, 28 February, p2; see also News Briefing00.08-4)

[NB00.09-7] US: Unfair uranium dumping would be likely if existing Russianand Uzbek suspension agreements were scrapped, the US Department of Commerce(DOC) said in preliminary rulings in the ‘sunset review’ of the agreements.Final DOC rulings are expected in June 2000. To maintain the suspensionagreement, the US International Trade Commission (ITC) must also determinethat ending the agreement would potentially harm the US uranium industry.The ITC is expected to announce its decision in July 2000. (Nuclear MarketReview, 25 February, p2; see also News Briefing 00.05-11)
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C. Russia - Iran

Moscow Slams U.S. For 'Pseudo-Imperial Approach' Over Iran
        February 28, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Russian Foreign Minister Ivanov on 25 February criticized a bill passedby the U.S. Senate the previous day that provides for economic sanctionsagainst foreign countries or individuals who transfer nuclear weapons ortechnology to Iran. Noting that the draft law "also affects Russia," Ivanovsaid it could "complicate even further" U.S.-Russian ties. The RussianForeign Ministry issued a statement accusing U.S. lawmakers of seekingto exert pressure on foreign countries on a "clearly invented pretext,"remarking that "such a pseudo-imperial approach is impermissible," Interfaxreported. Meanwhile, ITAR-TASS quoted an unidentified source at the RussianAtomic Energy Ministry as saying that Russia will continue participatingin the construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran becausethat project "has nothing to do with the proliferation of nuclear technology."
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Submarine Decommissioning Plans For 2000 Are Taking Shape
        Igor Kudrik and Alexey Klimov
        February 24, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Russian shipyards plan to decommission ten nuclear submarines in 2000.Two Oscar-Is are about to be scrapped in Severodvinsk.

A delegation from American Co-operative Threat Reduction program (CTR)was touring Murmansk and Arkhangelsk counties in early February to assurethat the submarine decommissioning contracts go smoothly. All in all, theU.S. will fund scrapping of ten strategic nuclear powered submarines atthe shipyards in north-west Russian and in the Russian Far East in 2000.

This year, Nerpa shipyard at the Kola Peninsula is on contract withCTR to decommission three Delta-class nuclear powered submarines, fournuclear powered submarines will be scrapped at shipyards in Severodvinskin Arkhangelsk County, while the rest three will be decommissioned at Zvezdashipyard in the Russian Far East. Zvezda shipyard is also counting on gettingits share from the bulk of $120 million promised recently by Japan as anaid package for the safe dismantlement of the Pacific Fleet's nuclearsubmarines.

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. The naval part of CTR had originallyfunding to decommission 31 Russian ballisticmissile submarines.

Severodvinsk shipyards to start on Oscars Zvezdochka shipyard transferredfive reactor sections to Belomorskaya naval base in Severodvinsk in 1999.The sections will be further shipped to the Kola Peninsula and placed atthe storage site in Saida Bay, where the Northern Fleet keeps afloat thereactor sections from all the scrapped subs. The reactor sections werecut out from two Yankees (K-32 and K-418), two Delta-I class submarines(K-475 and K-472) and one Delta-II class submarine (K-193).

The other naval shipyard located in Severodvinsk - Sevmash - carriedout decommissioning of one Yankee-class submarine (K-214) for the firsttime. Until recently, Sevmash had been mostly engaged in decommissioningof Alfa-class submarines with titanium hull.

This year Sevmash will also start on decommissioning of two Oscar-Iclass cruise missile submarines. The reports about the intentions to scraptwo Oscars (K-525 and K-206) were circulating back in 1998. Today, theplans seem to have materialised, as, according to the Russian news agencies,CTR has agreed to fund decommissioning of these two submarines. One ofthe Typhoon class submarines (TK-202) is being currently decommissionedat Sevmash shipyard as well.
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E. Nuclear Power Industry

Russia To Begin Work On Nuclear Plant In India Next Year
        March 1, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Atomic Energy Minister Yevgenii Adamov announced in Moscow on 29 Februarythat Russia will begin work on a nuclear power plant at Kudankulam in India'ssouthern state of Tamil Nadu in 2001, dpa reported. An agreement on Russia'sinvolvement in the project was signed in summer 1998 (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"22 June 1998), some 10 years after the Soviet Union and India had concludedthe original accord. The German news agency reported that the facilityis expected to cost some $2 billion.
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F. Gore – Chernomyrdin Commission (GCC)

Mixed Results
        Naftali Bendavid
        Chicago Tribune
        February 29, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Vice President Al Gore was pleased three years ago as he announced adramatic arms control deal he had personally helped seal: Russia wouldconvert its military nuclear reactors to civilian use, aided by cash fromthe United States.

In recent weeks, Russia has told U.S. officials it wants to scrap thedeal, shutting down the reactors and finding safer energy sources for nearbycities--with the U.S., of course, still largely footing the bill.

U.S. officials are still unsure whether this is a good or bad development,but the deal's collapse draws renewed attention to Gore's role as the Clintonadministration's pivotal, if low-key, point person in dealing with a changing,volatile Russia.

As a presidential candidate, Gore has stressed such popular domesticissues as health and the environment.

But for those wondering what a Gore foreign policy would look like,his work as co-chairman of an unprecedented U.S.-Russia commission, createdby Presidents Clinton and Boris Yeltsin, is a good place to start.

Gore's supporters say it shows he is comfortable with foreign leaders,has mastered global issues and is the only candidate with real foreignpolicy experience.

Gore's critics say he became too cozy with his Russian counterparts,especially former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. Gore was eager tosign high-profile deals, they say, but sometimes paid insufficient attentionto details and overlooked Russian corruption that eventually infected segmentsof U.S. banking.

"Gore was caught up in the idea of lavishing praise on his buddies,and he should have been more forthright about criticizing them where itwas due," said Keith Bush, a Russia expert at the Center for Strategicand International Studies. "We have been rather too un-critical of theRussians."

Leon Fuerth, Gore's top national security aide, strongly disagreed,saying the commission has been invaluable. "This thing really has workedvery well," Fuerth said. "It has done a lot of work for the United States.And for the most part, it did its work quite quietly."

The Gore panel--officially called the U.S.-Russian Joint Commissionon Economic and Technological Cooperation--was a novel idea when createdin 1993. Gore and the Russian prime minister chair the commission and meettwice a year, with their subordinates plugging away in between.

The commission, impressively, has spawned more than 200 agreements.But the fate of the reactor deal shows the delicacy of the issues facingRussia and the United States, with their long history of mistrust and hostility,as Russia haltingly tries to remake itself.

In 1997, the U.S. agreed to pay Russia $80 million to help it convertto civilian use three reactors that were churning out weapons-grade plutonium.Some were appalled because the reactors would still produce highly enricheduranium, which can also be used for weapons.

"There has been a lack of White House attention that has contributedto the problems," added Matthew Bunn, a Harvard University nuclear proliferationexpert who formerly worked in the administration. "It's been somethingof a comedy of errors."

Others credit Gore with a landmark breakthrough, saying that the onlyalternative was to allow aging, Soviet-era reactors to continue churningout dangerous plutonium.

But everyone now agrees the project's future is uncertain. The episodeillustrates the challenging nature of the Gore commission's work, whichcovers everything from oil drilling to diphtheria control.

Many believe the vice president performed a priceless service, buildingtrust between the United States and a crumbling, explosive country. "Whatwe gained from the commission is something that we didn't have before--anongoing, assured dialogue," said Susan Eisenhower, who chairs the Centerfor Political and Strategic Studies.

Clinton himself was pleased enough that he created four morecommissions--withUkraine, Kazakstan, South Africa and Egypt—all co-chaired by Gore.

Gore's commission also helped pave the way for more U.S. companies tooperate in Russia. Last summer, a $20 billion deal was signed allowingMarathon Oil and several partners to produce oil at Sakhalin Island inthe Russian Far East. It was one of the biggest deals ever in the formerSoviet Union.

Dozens of other agreements have been reached: The two nations agreedto collaborate on a space station; they declassified Arctic data for scientificuse; they agreed to continue U.S. poultry exports to Russia.

"Without this commission, we would have been nowheresville," said EugeneLawson, president of the U.S.-Russia Business Council. "This thing wascrucial to us."

Along the way, Gore formed a close bond with Chernomyrdin, Russia'sprime minister until 1998.

"They trusted each other," said Lorraine Voles, Gore's former communicationsdirector. "I remember on more than one occasion when Gore was in a meeting,he would indicate that he had gotten some piece of information fromChernomyrdin,so he knew it was sound."

Gore and Chernomyrdin had dinner together and knew each other's families.When Yeltsin last May named Chernomyrdin his special envoy to the U.S.on Kosovo, many believed it was because of Chernomyrdin's closeness withGore.

The relationship may have created an important diplomatic channel. Butsome assert it became too close.

When Chernomyrdin was accused of corruption several years ago, Gore'sdetractors say, the vice president turned a deaf ear.

Others believe Gore left himself in a weak position when Chernomyrdinwas replaced by a flurry of other prime ministers. Vladimir Putin, nowRussia's acting president, has shown considerably less interest in thecommission than did his predecessors.

Criticism of the commission erupted in earnest last year when it wasreported that Russian mobsters may have laundered billions through theBank of New York. Some asked why Gore, with his frequent dealings withRussia, was unable to head this off.

Eisenhower said it's because Gore simply stayed clear of contentiousareas. "A lot of very tough issues were ignored because it might get messyand unpleasant," Eisenhower said. "What is the point of having a closepersonal relationship if you're not going to use it to have difficultdiscussions?"

But Gore's defenders said it is unfair to expect Gore to heal all ofRussia's problems and that he did all that could reasonably be expected.

"The vice president raised the issue of corruption repeatedly with theRussians," Fuerth said. "He spent enormous time and effort urging the Russiansto pass the laws and build the democratic institutions that help exposecorruption and punish it."

If Gore wins the presidency, Russia will be one of his most dauntingforeign policy challenges. Opinions of Gore's performance vary.

But clearly he approached it in the methodical way that has become hishallmark, and that is likely to mark his foreign policy should he reachthe Oval Office.

"Gore was very diligent," recalled Ashton Carter, a former assistantdefense secretary. "He would have these meetings where he would call usall in and get immersed in the subject. It seemed that Chernomyrdin didthe same thing. Then they would talk and come out with some solution. Italways seemed to move the ball forward."
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G. Nuclear Waste

Soviet Weapons Radiation Legacy Less Than Feared
        Environmental News Service
        February 28, 2000
        (for personal use only)

LAXENBURG, Austria, February 28, 2000 (ENS) - Russia has some extremelyserious environmental contamination problems due to the former Soviet Union'snuclear weapon's program. Still, the situation is not as bad as many Westernanalysts had feared, according to a report jointly written by Russian andAmerican scientists.

That is the general conclusion of the first series of independent studiesof the environmental legacy of the Soviet program that have been conductedby the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) inLaxenburg, Austria.

The results of these studies were summarized at a news conference atthe Minatom (Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy) headquarters in Moscowon February 23 and were the subject of a symposium held on February 24.

Called the Radiation Safety of the Biosphere Project, the IIASA effortwas directed by Frank Parker, professor of civil and environmental engineeringat Vanderbilt University, and Vladimir Novikov, professor of physics atMoscow State University and head of the Nuclear Power Problems Laboratoryat the Kurchatov Institute, a Russian research center.

A legacy of the Cold War is the radioactive contamination left fromthe production and testing of nuclear weapons in the United States andthe former Soviet Union. A number of major studies have been conductedin the United States that estimate the magnitude and impact of these releases,but the process of understanding the environmental significance of thereleases in the Soviet Union is only beginning.

The first official information that became available in the Soviet Uniondealt with the Mayak site, a spent fuel reprocessing center in the southernUral Mountains, where high exposures to both workers and the public inthe early years of operation resulted in many cases of chronic radiationsickness.

Many western observers feared that similar conditions might exist atthe two large Siberian spent fuel reprocessing centers Krasnoyarsk-26,also known as the Mining and Chemical Combine, and Tomsk-7, also knownas the Siberian Chemical Combine. Together these three sites account for99.8 percent of all the radioactive waste releases in the old Soviet Union.

The IIASA studies have shown that hazardous conditions from surfacedischarges at the Mining and Chemical Combine and at the Siberian ChemicalCombine are substantially below those at the Mayak site. The results arereported in the IIASA study Releases of Radionuclides to Surface Watersat Krasnoyarsk-26 and Tomsk-7, R-99-3 dated May 1999.

Tomsk-7, currently known as Seversk, was established in 1949 to produceand process fissile materials for the nuclear weapons program. The SiberianChemical Combine is Russia’s largest plutonium production and fissile materialmanagement complex.

Tomsk-7 is located on the Tom River in Tomsk oblast, about 12 kilometers(7.5 miles) northwest of the city of Tomsk. The industrial areas are locatednorth-east of Seversk and include: the fuel complex and a fossil fuel plant,a UF6 conversion and enrichment plants, two reactor areas, chemical andmetallurgical plant, a reprocessing plant, waste injection wells and supportand storage areas.

Tomsk-7 has a population of 119,000. Of them, approximately 15,000 workat the nuclear complex.

The IIASA studies show that no offsite contamination resulted from thesubsurface discharges at the Krasnoyarsk-26, the Mining and Chemical Combine.Concentrations within the aquifer exceed permissible drinking waterconcentrations,however, the likelihood of such use is deemed to be small.

Krasnoyarsk-26, currently called Zheleznogorsk, was established in 1950to produce plutonium for weapons. Krasnoyarsk-26 is located on the Yeniseiriver east of Tomsk-7 in the central part of Siberia about 50 kilometers(31 miles) northeast of Krasnoyarsk. Krasnoyarsk-26 has a population of100,000. Of them 8,000 work at the nuclear complex.

A distinctive feature of the plutonium production complex in Krasnoyarsk-26is that the reactor plant, radiochemical plant, laboratories, and storagefacilities are located 200 to 250 meters (650 to 812 feet) underground,in a multi-level system of underground tunnels inside a mountain, whichinclude water supply and ventilation systems are located in the mountain.To the north-west of the underground complex are underground reprocessingwaste injection wells.

The results of the IIASA/Vanderbilt studies are reported in two peer-reviewedarticles in the Russian Academy of Sciences Journal Geology of Ore Deposits.

In the future, Parker and Novikov will report on the program's analysisof the radiological risks posed by nuclear submarine facilities on theKola Peninsula and the Semipalatinsk Test Site in Kazakhstan.

The IIASA investigations were done in collaboration with institutesof Minatom (the Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy), the Russian Academyof Sciences, and the Kurchatov Institute, as well as with site and localadministrative authorities.

The studies analyzed the human health impacts of past discharges ofradioactive materials.

Although the studies were done with limited data provided by the Russianparticipants, the data was validated whenever possible with informationfrom independent sources. Due to the limited database, generic models wereused with site specific data, although IIASA researchers developed somenew models specifically for the study.

More detailed information on the Tomsk-7 and Krasnoyarsk-26 sites andcan be found on the Federation of American Scientists website at:
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H. Russia - Kosovo

Yugoslavia's Nuclear Fuel Alarms U.S.
        John Diamond
        Chicago Tribune
        February 29, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Concerned about Yugoslavia becoming a source for weapons-grade nuclearfuel, the Clinton administration is working behind the scenes on a dealto ship enriched uranium from a site near Belgrade to safe storage in Russia,according to U.S. national security and arms control officials.

The shipment would be coordinated by the UN's nuclear agency and carriedout with the full cooperation of Russia, historically a friend of Yugoslavia's,the officials said in interviews this week.

Yugoslavia's supply of enriched uranium would be enough to make twoor three nuclear weapons with relative ease, according to weapons experts.The material is now stored in pellet form in the cooling pool of a dormantresearch reactor near Belgrade under what international inspectors regardas unsafe conditions.

U.S. officials disagree internally on whether Yugoslavia poses a threatto develop a nuclear weapon or proliferate weapons-grade fuel to countriessuch as Iraq or Libya. But officials said they are concerned that YugoslavPresident Slobodan Milosevic, who probably ranks second only to SaddamHussein on the U.S. list of international pariahs, could seek to use thenuclear fuel as leverage on the world stage, either as a threat or to gainaid for his strapped economy.

In part to avoid prompting Milosevic to exploit the nuclear fuel forleverage, U.S. officials have refrained from publicly discussing the fuelrelocation proposal.

"We can't be putting ourselves in a position where we go to Milosevicand say, `Hey, you've got a bunch of highly enriched uranium and we'd liketo take it off your hands,' because as soon as we do that, the price isgoing to go way up," said one senior State Department official who spokeon condition of anonymity.

The main thrust of the effort is to avert environmental and safety problems,and the program envisioned by Clinton administration and UN officials wouldinvolve returning nuclear fuel to Russia from several former communiststates, according to a senior Energy Department official who spoke on conditionof anonymity.

Russia would take on responsibility for the fuel, while the United Stateswould provide some of the key funding to get the job done. The proposedEnergy Department budget for next year contains $3 million for a pilotprogram, which could grow to tens of millions if as many as a dozen countries,including Yugoslavia, participate.

An article in the March-April issue of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists,co-authored by an American proliferation specialist and two former officialsof Yugoslavia's nuclear program, describes how Yugoslavia got enricheduranium from the Soviet Union during the 1970s and '80s. The article saysYugoslavia has over 100 pounds of "fresh," meaning unused, uranium fuelthat is enriched to 80 percent purity. Enriched uranium is more potentand therefore of weapons grade. Another 20-plus pounds, also enriched to80 percent, has been irradiated to a low level, meaning that it would haveto go through a relatively modest purification process to make it readyfor use in a weapon.

Eighty percent is less pure than the level generally reached by pastU.S. weapons that used uranium fuel. But it is enough to make a workableweapon.

"That kind of fuel is of particular concern because it is directly usableas a weapon if somebody wanted to use it," the Energy Department officialsaid. The official added that while talks are in a preliminary stage, Russiais "generally supportive of looking at this kind of program."

Inspectors with the International Atomic Energy Agency, a UN organizationbased in Vienna, first raised the alarm about Yugoslavia's nuclear fuellast fall after visits to the Vinca Institute of Nuclear Sciences nearBelgrade revealed poor security and unsafe storage conditions. Aluminumcanisters containing the uranium are bulging from gases accumulating insideand are at risk of bursting, the inspectors said.

William Potter, a proliferation specialist at the Monterey Instituteof International Studies and co-author of the Bulletin article, said Yugoslaviain 1997 raised the issue of security and safety at the Vinca reactor withU.S. and UN officials, although officials in Belgrade have since deniedrequesting any help in removing the fuel. Potter said there is no indicationMilosevic would be willing to cooperate with removal of the spent fuelunless there were financial incentives, something the United States isunwilling to consider.

As currently envisioned, no U.S. money would go directly to Yugoslavia.But it is possible the UN's involvement could include upgrading the researchreactor at the Vinca facility so that it would no longer produce a uraniumfuel easily convertible into weapons.

Hans Meyer, an official with the IAEA, said in a telephone interviewthat the United States was the driving force behind the proposal to movethe enriched uranium out of Yugoslavia.

"This is a deal which has to be done by the United States," Meyer said.

The Energy Department official, however, said the IAEA is taking thelead. The disagreement over who is behind the proposal may stem fromWashington'sdesire to downplay its role to avoid raising the ire of the Yugoslav government,which regards the Clinton administration as the leading force behind lastyear's bombing campaign.

"If the U.S. signature is on the check, it could cause problems" withYugoslavia, the senior State Department official said.

A second State Department official, also speaking on condition of anonymity,said Yugoslavia has a history of close relations with countries in theMideast long of concern to Washington, including Iraq and Libya. Administrationofficials are concerned that Belgrade, under the economic pressure of aninternational embargo, could be tempted to market its nuclear asset oruse it as an international bargaining chip.

Washington has long been aware of the two reactors at the Vinca researchfacility. During the NATO bombing campaign against Yugoslavia last year,Yugoslav officials implored the allies to steer clear of the reactors and,at one point, claimed that the facility had been attacked.

Pressured about the accuracy of the air campaign, NATO finally releasedsatellite images of the Vinca site showing no bomb damage, according toJohn Pike of the Federation of American Scientists, a Washington-basedgroup that follows intelligence and military matters.

This Kosovo war episode has U.S. officials worried because it mighthave provided Yugoslavia with a pretext for hiding some of the enricheduranium. To date, however, international inspectors have turned up no evidencethat Yugoslav officials diverted any of the fuel.
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