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Nuclear News - (03/29/00)
RANSAC Nuclear News, 29 March 2000


A. Nuclear Power Industry

    1. Russia Registered 16,000 Nuclear Safety Violations in 1999,Itar Tass (03/28/00)
    2. Russia's Research Reactors Deemed Unsafe, RFE/RL(03/29/00)
    3. Russian Research Reactors Unsafe, Says Government Inspector,Agence France Presse (03/29/00)
B. Loose Nukes
    1. Aum Implicated in Nuclear Information Stealing, Itar Tass(03/29/00)
    2. Russia Ministry Denies Aum Shinrikyo Has Access to Its Data,Itar Tass (03/29/00)
C. Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU)
    1. Russian Parliament Calls to Revise Uranium Deal with US,Itar Tass (03/29/00)



A. Nuclear Power Industry

1.
Russia Registered 16,000 Nuclear Safety Violations in 1999
        Itar Tass
        March 28, 2000
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW, March 28 (Itar-Tass) - There have been over 16,000 violationsof safety standards in the Russian nuclear energy sector last year, DeputyPrime Minister Sergei Shoigu said at a board meeting of the State NuclearInspection on Tuesday.

"Zero risk does not exist in the nuclear energy industry. Last year,over 16,000 violations of rules in the field of nuclear energy have beenrevealed and ordered to be abolished," he said.

Shoigu said work of the State Nuclear Inspection had resulted in betterdocumentation of nuclear safety violations over the recent years.

"At the same time, acute problems related to utilization of 140decommissionedsubmarines, transportation of 535 tonnes of spent nuclear fuel, constructionof a nuclear waste storage, of installations for the processing and storageof radioactive waste do not abolish concern of the Russian government overthe condition of nuclear safety," Shoigu said.

He cited statistics of nuclear incidents and accidents in the formerSoviet Union and post-Soviet Russia, a total of 385 in which 684 peoplewere affected.

Of these, 338 people developed radiation sickness and 56 died. The latestfatality occurred in 1997 at the Federal Nuclear Center, formerly knownas Arzamas-16.

Shoigu said the Russian Nuclear Power Ministry, State Nuclear Inspectionand Defense Ministry should implement joint measures to improve radiationsafety.

The starting ground for this work will be the federal programme Nuclearand Radiation Safety of Russia for 2000-2006.

He said a public watchdog group could be set up in the form of a scienceand technology or methodology council to monitor the nuclear energy sector.
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2.
Russia's Research Reactors Deemed Unsafe
        RFE/RL
        March 29, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Yurii Vishnevskii, head of the State Atomic Energy Inspectorate, isquoted by Interfax on 28 March as saying that Russia's research nuclearreactors are unsafe owing to a lack of funds to maintain such facilities.Of the country's 112 research reactors, 30 have been operating for at least30 years, he noted. Last year, 90 malfunctions at the reactors were reported,compared with 102 in 1998. According to Vishnevskii, the largest numberof malfunctions occurred last year at the Kursk plant. Also on 28 March,Atomic Energy Minister Yevgenii Adamov announced that his ministry is capableof extracting spent fuel from decommissioned nuclear submarines in lessthan 10 years, rather than the 20 years planned, Interfax reported. Inall, some 535 tons of spent fuel are to be removed from 140 submarines.
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3.
Russian Research Reactors Unsafe, Says Government Inspector
        Agence France Presse
        March 29, 2000
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW, Mar 29, 2000 -- (Agence France Presse) Russian nuclear researchreactors are
potentially dangerous because of a lack of finance to maintain them,a top inspection official said Tuesday.

Interfax new agency quoted Yuri Vishnevsky, head of the government nuclearinspectorate, as saying: "There is practically no longer any money to maintainresearch reactors.

"Staff are deserting research centers, and nuclear waste is not beingrecycled."

Vishnevsky said the reactors were potentially dangerous and could causelocal accidents.

Russia has 112 research reactors, including 30 which have been operationalfor at least 30 years, according to the nuclear inspectorate. In 1999,90 incidents were recorded involving research reactors.

Earlier this month, Russia's environment protection chief ViktorDanilov-Danilianmooted the idea of importing and storing foreign nuclear waste to earnmoney to clear damage to Russia's environment caused by its own nuclearpower.

But Russian activists with the Greenpeace environmental watchdog opposethe scheme, warning of the possibility of a repeat of the 1986 Chernobylnuclear power station disaster in neighboring Ukraine.

Last December, a St Petersburg military tribunal acquitted a Russianex-naval officer of treason for exposing details of nuclear pollution.

Alexander Nikitin had faced a possible 12-year jail term for exposingunsafe nuclear waste habits of Russia's dilapidating Northern Fleet.
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B. Loose Nukes

1.
Aum Implicated in Nuclear Information Stealing
        Itar Tass
        March 29, 2000
        (for personal use only)

TOKYO, March 29 (Itar-Tass) - Japan's doomsday cult Aum Shinri Kyo gothold of massive classified information about nuclear installations of Russia,Ukraine and several other countries, Tokyo's police department said.

The department's sources said Aum Shinri Kyo obtained this informationby breaking into computer networks.

The cult also had detailed sensitive information on routes and procedureof nuclear fuel transportation in Japan.

Evidence of this was obtained in recent police searches of companiesrelated with Aum Shinri Kyo.

One of them, the computer company Weinker, had a contract for developinga business information processing system for Isikawajima-Harima, a largemachine tool corporation.

Aum siphoned off from its database information about Russia-commissioneddevice for plutonium processing.

Aum also stole information depicting the safety system of Ukraine'sChernobyl nuclear power plant. These data were asked by the Japanese ForeignMinistry for assistance to Ukraine.

The cult also obtained information about nuclear facilities of China,South Korea and Taiwan.

Aum Shinri Kyo is known for its focus on latest technologies, in particularmilitary ones.

It manufactured on its own the war gas sarin which it used in the deadlyattack in Tokyo's underground in March 1995.

The sect was pursuing nuclear research, to thus far unclear ends, atits base which was found and crushed by police at the Fuji mountain's foot.
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2.
Russia Ministry Denies Aum Shinrikyo Has Access to Its Data
        Itar Tass
        March 29, 2000
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW, March 29 (Itar-Tass) - The Russian Atomic Energy Ministry onWednesday denied assertions that the Japanese religious sect Aum Shinrikyomay have access to classified information regarding Russia's nuclear facilities.

The statement followed a report by the Tokyo police department claimingthat Aum Shinrikyo had such information.

Japanese police believe that the sect obtained this information byunauthorizedaccess to computer networks. But the Atomic Energy Ministry said its computernetworks were quite secure and "there have not been and will never bebreak-ins".
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C. Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU)

1.
Russian Parliament Calls to Revise Uranium Deal with US
        Itar Tass
        March 29, 2000
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW, March 29 (Itar-Tass) -- The Federation Council upper house ofparliament on Wednesday called for revision of the Russian-U.S. uraniumaccord.

The upper house decided to address President-elect Vladimir Putin onthe matter and ask the government to review the expediency of the dealand specify its implementation procedure.

The Russian-American inter-governmental agreement on utilisation ofhigh-enriched uranium from Russia's scrapped nuclear weapons was signedin Washington in February 1993.

Under the agreement, uranium from nuclear weapons is to be processedat Russia's factories into low-enriched uranium with a technology usinga so-called natural component of high-enriched uranium.

The resultant low-enriched uranium is to be used as nuclear reactorfuel delivered under contracts of the US Energy Department and of corporations.

Russia's initial delivery of uranium to the US was planned by October1, 1993.

Under the agreement, Russia is to export to the US an about 12 billiondollar worth of uranium from nuclear weapons, or 500 tonnes, over 20 years.

Russia is expected to use 150,000 tonnes of the natural component ofhigh-enriched uranium for its conversion.

Under the agreement, the US is to refund three-forth of the naturalcomponent spending in cash and the rest with natural uranium as a compensationfor the similar product spent by Russia.

However, the agreement ran into a snag, as American legislation bansuranium export, and Russia is getting no compensation for the natural component.

The agreement rigorously restricts uses of Russia's uranium only tocivilian endeavours.

Another important consideration is that the agreement should assistnuclear weapons non-proliferation, physical safeguarding and registrationof nuclear materials, and environmental protection.

Russia's proceeds on the agreement go into conversion of defense productions,improvement of safely nuclear power plants, environmental programmes andsupport of science. In September 1993, then prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdinand US Vice President Albert Gore signed in Washington a transparency memorandumas a supplement to the uranium agreement.

Russia's low-enriched uranium is bought by the Bethesda-based corporationUS Enrichment, the world's leading producer of fuel for nuclear power plants.

The corporation is commissioned to sell a significant proportion ofRussia's uranium as reactor fuel.

US Enrichment buys fuel with US Treasury's money and sells it to electricitycompanies.
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