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Nuclear News (03/15/00)
RANSAC Nuclear News, 15 March 2000

A. Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR)

    1. Dutch To Help Dismantle Decommissioned Subs, RFE/RL(03/15/00)
    1. START-3 Does Not Jeopardise Russia's National Security,Itar Tass (03/13/00)
C. U.S. – Russia General
    1. Vice President's National Security Advisor Leon Fuerth ToTravel To Moscow For Meetings With Russian Officials, Office of theVice President (03/10/00)
    2. Russia to Continue Cooperation with US in Nuclear Safety,Itar Tass (03/15/00)
D.  Nuclear Power
    1. Kola Nuclear Power Plant Allowed to Re-Start 2nd Reactor,Itar Tass (03/15/00)
E.  Russia – Iran
    1. Russia Blasts U.S. Law on Iran, Reuters (03/15/00)
F.  Nuclear Waste
    1. Minatom's Strategy For Spent Fuel Imports Outlined, ThomasNilsen and Igor Kudrik, Bellona (03/13/00)


Dutch To Help Dismantle Decommissioned Subs
        March 15, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Meeting with Russian Atomic Energy Minister Yevgenii Adamov in Moscowon 14 March, Dutch Foreign Minister Jozias van Aartsen signed an agreementon helping Russia dismantle nuclear warheads and decommissioned submarinesfrom the Northern Fleet, Interfax reported. Van Aartsen commented thatto boost trade and economic cooperation, Russia must reform its tax codeand ensure the rule of law. For his part, Russian Foreign Minister IgorIvanov said he is happy with the way Russian- Dutch ties are developing.
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START-3 Does Not Jeopardise Russia's National Security
        Itar Tass
        March 13, 2000
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW, March 13 (Itar-Tass) - Russia can reduce its nuclear armamentsto the START-3-stipulated level without jeopardising the national security,prominent Russian nuclear weapons expert, Major-General Vladimir Beloustold Itar-Tass on Monday.

The containment potential of nuclear weapons, he believes, would notbe weakened if Russia had from 1,000 to 1,500 warheads. This is almostfour-fold more than needed to inflict irreparable damage to the enemy.Approaching this problem from the militaryategic view of view, it shouldbe admitted, the expert noted, that the present-day nuclear arsenals ofRussia and the United States are over-excessive. They are leftovers ofthe cold war. Military necessity does not warrant such a huge number ofnuclear warheads, Belous is convinced.

In the general's opinion, the only rational function of nuclear weaponsis containment, although so-called untraditional types of armaments arenow emerging to replace them. "I attended a scientific-technological conferencein July 1998, where I met Robert McNamara, who headed the American delegation.His first question was: What balance of forces is needed today? He himselfbelieves that from 400 to 500 megaton-class warheads have to be deliveredto the enemy's territory to destroy about thirty per cent of the populationand up to seventy per cent of the industrial potential. In my opinion,even "McNamara's criterium" is excessive. And, as a matter of fact, heshared this view later in the course of our conversation," the scientiststressed.

Asked about the financial problem of maintaining Russia's strategicnuclear forces, the general noted that these spending accounted for almosttwenty per cent of the defence budget. "Such expenditures are much tooheavy for the federal budget and unwarranted from the military point ofview. It is expedient to determine the optimal level of our strategic nuclearforces, which should be within the limits of the START-3 treaty that isnow in the making. This should be taken into account during the upcomingparliamentary hearings on the reduction of nuclear weapons. Moreover, ourlawmakers must grasp the crux of the problem and should not engage in politicalbattles as it happened before," the general said.
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C. U.S. – Russia General

Vice President's National Security Advisor Leon Fuerth To TravelTo Moscow For Meetings With Russian Officials
        Office of the Vice President
        March 10, 2000
        (for personal use only)

At the invitation of the Russian Government, Leon Fuerth, National SecurityAdvisor to Vice President Gore, will travel to Moscow from March 12-16for meetings with Russian officials. He will be joined by National SecurityCouncil officials Mark Medish, Senior Director for Russia, Ukraine andEurasian Affairs; and Gary Samore, Senior Director for Nonproliferationand Export Controls.

This trip is one of several Mr. Fuerth has made to Russia in his capacityas the Vice President's National Security Advisor.

Mr. Fuerth will meet with members of the Russian government, the Duma,and the Federation Council to discuss the ongoing agenda of the U.S.-RussiaJoint Commission and other issues of bilateral concern, includingnonproliferation,the Expanded Threat Reduction Initiative, and regional security issues.Mr. Fuerth's agenda will highlight the importance of strengthening democraticand free market institutions in Russia and achieving a lasting politicalsolution to the conflict in Chechnya. He will also meet with representativesof Russian NGOs and members of the American business community.
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Russia to Continue Cooperation with US in Nuclear Safety
        Itar Tass
        March 15, 2000
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW, March 15 (Itar-Tass) - The Russian government has decided toextend the term of an agreement with the US on technical data exchangeon safety of nuclear ammunition for another five years until July 1, 2005,a source in the government told Tass on Wednesday.

The agreement was signed in Moscow on December 15, 1994 at a meetingof the Russian-American commission for economic cooperation set up in linewith the 1993 Vancouver declaration.

The scope of commission's activities initially covered energy, outerspace and high technologies. It was replenished later on by private businessdevelopment, conversion, environment and health care. The commission establishedcommittees made both of Russian and American specialists to oversee eachof these areas.

Russia and the United States take turns in hosting the commission'sbiannual sessions.
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D. Nuclear Power Industry

Kola Nuclear Power Plant Allowed to Re-Start 2nd Reactor
        Itar Tass
        March 15, 2000
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW, March 15 (Itar-Tass) -- The Kola nuclear power plant in northernEuropean Russia has been allowed to re-start its second reactor, the pressservice of the Rosenergoatom consortium said on Wednesday.

"At present, all exposed troubles are removed, and pre-start operationsare in progress at the reactor," the press service told Itar-Tass. Thelaunch is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.

The radiation level at the plant has not changed and still equals zeroon the INES scale, the service added.

The reactor was stopped early on Tuesday after its automatic controland protection system went off.
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E. Russia - Iran

Russia Blasts U.S. Law on Iran
        March 15, 2000
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia Wednesday denounced U.S. legislation aimedat punishing countries that help Iran to develop weapons of mass destruction.

On Tuesday, President Clinton signed the Iran Nonproliferation Act of2000 that allows him to impose sanctions on any country supplying nuclear,biological or chemical weapons equipment or technology to Iran.

"The law is yet another attempt to extend domestic legislation beyondU.S. borders, which is completely against international law," the RussianForeign Ministry said in a statement.

Russia is building the $800 million Bushehr nuclear station in Iranin a deal which the United States fears may help Tehran get nuclear weapons.Moscow has dismissed such suggestions, saying the project does not violateany international norms.

Atomic Energy Minister Yevgeny Adamov said Russia was more likely tosuffer from Iranian weapons than the distant United States.

"Why are they taking us for idiots?" Adamov told Interfax news agency."It is the same as giving your neighbor a hand grenade with the safetypin out. He will throw it at no one else but you."

He said the U.S. law was the product of political battles ahead of thepresidential election.

The Foreign Ministry said the new legislation was destroying the legalbasis for cooperation in nuclear non-proliferation and export control andsaid the blame for any future unfavorable developments in the field wouldrest with Washington.

But it said Moscow was ready to continue cooperating with the UnitedStates on non-proliferation issues.

The ministry also welcomed Clinton's comments that Russia continuedto be a valued partner in efforts to build an International Space Station,and that the new legislation had no impact on that.
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F. Nuclear Waste

Minatom's Strategy For Spent Fuel Imports Outlined
        Thomas Nilsen and Igor Kudrik
        March 13, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Minatom comes up with a strategy that will more than double the presentamount of spent nuclear fuel stored in Russia in a short period of time.The project may turn the country into an international nuclear dumpsite.

The strategy plan by the Russian Ministry for Nuclear Energy (Minatom)on how to overtake the world market of spent nuclear fuel is finally revealed.The plan, kept confidential for months, outlines how Russia can get 20,500metric tons of foreign spent fuel within the next decade, of which 16,000tons may be reprocessed. The waste is likely to remain in Siberia for good.Several ministries and state committees have approved the plan.

By offering cheaper storage and reprocessing prices for spent nuclearfuel from countries around the globe, Russia wants to turn its Siberianbackyard into the biggest nuclear dumpsite on earth. The red line in theplan is to offer the countries of origin not to take back the nuclear wasteafter the reprocessing after paying an extra fee to Minatom. On the nationalstage, Minatom lobbies for its proposal by claiming it would bring a profitto the cashipped federal budget of as much as $7,5 billion. And theinternal lobbying works: six federal ministries have already approved theplan, including both the State Nuclear Regulatory (Gosatomnadzor) and theState Committee on Environment. The final step will be to have the StateDuma, lower house of the Russian Parliament, to amend article 50 of theRussian Federation Law on Environmental Protection. Today, this law forbidsimport of any kind of radioactive materials.

Potential customer countries Minatom believes in two major groups ofcustomer countries willing to accept the offer. First of all, the ministrycounts on continued agreements with the East-European countries operatingSoviet designed VVER-440 reactors, like Hungary, Bulgaria, the Czech Republicand Slovakia. Minatom also focuses on the countries in Asia where nuclearpower is still growing, such as Taiwan, South Korea, China. Finally thestrategy extends to the countries that plan to build nuclear power plants,such as Thailand, Vietnam and even Iran. The second group of countriesincludes those that today have reprocessing deals with Sellafield (UK)and LaHague (France), and, according to Minatom, are looking for cheaperprices, among them Germany, Spain, Japan and Switzerland. These countrieshave today an annual accumulation of spent nuclear fuel that equals 2,400tons. This number is expected to increase up to around 3,000 tons by 2015.

Storage capacity to be increased
Minatom operates two storage sites for spent nuclear fuel in Siberia:one at the Mayak plant (southern Ural) and the other at the city ofZheleznogorsk(Krasnoyarsk Krai). Two wet storage facilities at Mayak have capacity tokeep around 2,500 tons of spent nuclear fuel from VVER-440 and PWR maritimereactors. The wet storage facility at Zheleznogorsk can hold 6,000 tonsof spent fuel from VVER-1000 reactors and will be 50 per cent full by theyear 2001.

According to the Minatom's strategy paper, only minor reconstructionof these storage sites is necessary in order to accept foreign spent fuel.The reconstruction would provide the storage at Mayak with additional capacityof 1,600 tons (total 4,100 tons), while the storage at Zheleznogorsk wouldbe increased by 3,000 tons (total 9,000 tons). To upgrade those two sites,it would be necessary to invest $44 million and $12 million respectively.

Moreover, two additional storage sites for spent nuclear fuel, designedalso to hold fuel from abroad, are under planning. A dry storage facilitywith the capacity of 9,000 tons will be built at Zheleznogorsk by 2004.Construction of another storage site with a capacity of 10,000 tons thatwould be able to hold fuel packed in containers is scheduled to start in2004. The location of this storage site is not specified. The price tagfor this storage is $125 million.

Contaminating reprocessing to increase one of the most astonishing ideasof Minatom is the expansion of the capacity at the run-down RT-1 reprocessingplant at Mayak. Launched in 1977, the plant has been reprocessing spentfuel from naval, research and VVER-400 type reactors, discharging hugeamounts of liquid radioactive waste into the environment north of Chelyabinskin the southern Ural. RT-1's design annual reprocessing capacity is 400tons, but since the middle of 80-s the plant's workload has been in steadydecline. Today, it is down to some 35 per cent of its capacity. Duringthe last decade, there have been cases when the plant was not operatingat all.

Minatom plans to spend $58 million to upgrade the RT-1 plant in orderto restore the reprocessing capacity back to 400 tons a year by 2006. Afterupgrade, the plant will be able to reprocess spent fuel from VVER-1000reactors as well.

The existing vitrification plant that processes high active liquid wastederived from reprocessing at Mayak is currently not operating. The Minatom'sinvestment plan suggests that a new facility for disposition of high activeliquid waste will be built at the cost of $27 million by 2020.

New reprocessing plant to be commissioned
The construction of RT-2 reprocessing plant at Zheleznogosk startedback in 1977. The first stage of the plant, which included 6,000 ton wetstorage facility for VVER-1000 reactors, was commissioned in 1985. Theconstruction of the reprocessing line itself started in 1984 but was frozenin 1989 due to funding shortfalls. It has been already spent $350 millionon the plant. The plan outlined by Minatom suggests that the plant canbe completed at the cost of $1960 million by 2020. The annual capacityof the plant capable of reprocessing fuel from VVER-1000 and PWR reactorswill be around 1,500 tons.

Roads, railways and barges
Spent nuclear fuel from European and Asian countries would be transportedto Russia by road, railway and barges. Traditional train transportationwould be done from China and the East-European countries. Three newseaport-facilitiesare to be built: in the Far East at Vostochnyi, at Mukachevo at the BalticSea and in the north at Dudinka from where spent fuel would be shippedon barges up the Yenitsey River to Zheleznogorsk.

Since 1979, spent nuclear fuel from Soviet designed VVER-440 reactorshas been shipped by railway to Mayak. 860 container loads have been transportedusing TK-VG-6 railway carriages since then. But the shipment rates havedramatically decreased the past years, mainly due to the halt of thetransportationfrom Finland in 1996, but also due to the fact that Hungary and Bulgariaare looking into other options than delivery of their spent fuel to Russia.

American consent required
The idea of importing spent fuel to Russia received much attentionafter the establishing of the Non-Prolifiration Trust in the U.S. TheNon-ProlifirationTrust was formed by a group of German and U.S. industry, an NGO and severalwell-connected former government and Navy officials with the goal to taketitle of 10,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel from various countries(excluding the United State and Russia) and place it for 40 years storagein Russia. The proceeds of the lease, according to NPT's plan, would payfor design and construction of the central Russian radwaste and spent fuelrepository, for remediation of radioactively contaminated areas in Russiaand for social projects. NPT planed to raise between $10 billion and $15billion from wealthy industrialised nations trying to rid themselves oftheir spent nuclear fuel. NPT guaranteed that the fuel would not be reprocessedto avoid conflict with U.S. non-proliferation policy.

Minatom seemed to like the outline of the idea and started massive lobbingin the Russian government to push it through. In 1999, the Law on IndustrialStorage and Reprocessing of Spent Nuclear Fuel was drafted. Attempts havebeen made to amend the Law on Environmental Protection in favour of reprocessingbut all of them were turned down by the old State Duma. The newly electedDuma is believed to be more helpful in this issue, taking into accountthe fact that the parliament's Environmental Committee is composed of Minatom'ssupporters.

Judging by the content of the strategy plan prepared by Minatom, thespent fuel imports into Russia will not be limited by the 10,000 tons announcedby NPT. The amount will at least double, given Minatom is right evaluatingthe spent fuel market. The reprocessing is an integrated part of the plan.

But according to The Washington Post, the flaw of this plan is thatcountries in Asia, such as Japan and Taiwan, acquire their nuclear fuelfrom the United States and therefore must get U.S. government approvalfor its disposal. The European countries, such as Germany, are unlikelyto break ranks with Washington on a sensitive non-proliferation issue.

Disclosure of Minatom's spent fuel strategies has come amid the negotiationswith the United States regarding the so-called energy plutonium - a by-productof the reprocessing. The U.S. Department of Energy has come out with aproject that could make Russia declare a moratorium on reprocessing inexchange for a $100 million assistance package.

Undersecretary of Energy Ernest J. Moniz, who flew to Moscow last weekto continue discussions with Minatom, told The Washington Post it was safeto say "the U.S. would not agree to any project that involved reprocessing"by Russia of American-origin nuclear fuels.

This approach leaves Minatom with few options, namely to declare a moratoriumon fuel reprocessing, receive the consent from the U.S. to import spentfuel from Asian countries - those are the most probable potential customers- and, having established a certain market for such services, come backto the idea of reprocessing being after higher hard currency profits.

The whole process is likely to result in a status quo in the Americannon-prolifiration efforts and piles of nuclear waste that will be a burdenfor the next generations in Russia.
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