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Nuclear News - (04/10/00)
RANSAC Nuclear News, 10 April 2000

A. Russian Nuclear Forces

    1. Putin Observes Missile Test Launch From Submarine, AssociatedPress (04/06/00)
B. Nuclear Waste
    1. GAN Says 40-Ton Casks Unsafe, Thomas Nilsen, Bellona(04/05/00)
    2. Russia Builds First Containers to Store Sub Nuclear Waste,Itar Tass (04/07/00)
C. Nuclear Power Industry
    1. Russia Forms State Fund for Nuclear Safety, Itar Tass(04/07/00)
    2. Russia Begins Deliveries of Nuclear Fuel to Ukraine, ItarTass (04/10/00)
    3. Quality Stressed in Sino-Russian Nuclear Power Plant,Xinhua (04/10/00)
    1. Russia Sees Swift START II Approval-Talbott, Elaine Monaghan,Reuters (04/09/00)
    2. Key Russian Committee Urges Start-2 Ratification, Reuters(04/10/00)
E.  Plutonium Disposition
    1. Virginia Power Quits Plutonium "MOX" Fuel Program, NuclearControl Institute (04/07/00)
    2. Federal Judge Won't Stop Plutonium Shipment, Lisa Singhania,Associated Press (04/08/00)
F.  Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT)
    1. U.S. Now On Defensive Over Nuclear Arms Spread, Leo Rennert,Sacramento Bee (04/07/00)
G.  Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR)
    1. Russia And U.S. Take On A Herculean Task:  ChemicalWeapons Left After Cold War Defy Joint Effort, Will Englund, BaltimoreSun (04/06/00)

A. Russian Nuclear Forces

Putin Observes Missile Test Launch From Submarine
        Associated Press
        April 6, 2000
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW (AP) President Vladimir Putin watched a ballistic missile testlaunch from a submarine in the Barents Sea on Thursday while observingnaval exercises, Russian media

Putin, who has stressed the importance of reviving Russia's militarymight, had spent the night underwater aboard the nuclear submarine Karelia.

He boarded the vessel wearing a navy cap and greatcoat and surroundedby military generals and an honor guard on a dock near Murmansk in Russia'sfar northwest, television news reports showed.

The presidential trip was a show of support for the Russian navy andparticularly the Northern Fleet, which includes most of Russia's submarineswith nuclear missiles, but which has fallen on hard times in recent years.

Despite the fleet's current anemic state, many Russian military leadersconsider it a symbol of the country's greatness.

Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev, who once commanded the country's strategicmissile forces, and the Navy's top commander Adm. Vladimir Kuroyedov accompaniedPutin on the Karelia.
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B. Nuclear Waste

GAN Says 40-Ton Casks Unsafe
        Thomas Nilsen
        April 5, 2000
        (for personal use only)

(Moscow/Oslo): The Russian Nuclear Regulatory (GAN) refused to licence40-ton spent fuel cask calling the project a fraud conspired by Minatomand Defence Ministry. American funds are involved in the project.

GAN officials call the newly developed 40-ton casks for storage andtransportation of naval spent nuclear fuel, derived from laid-up nuclearsubmarines, unsafe. The prototype of the metal-concrete cask was presentedto American, Russian and Norwegian officials at the Izhora plant near St.Petersburg in October 1999. The Pentagon sponsors the development andconstructionof the casks, referring to the project as the most prestige under the AMECprogram. AMEC is the acronym for the Arctic Military Environmental Co-operation,a program established in 1996 by the Defence Ministers of Norway, Russiaand the United States.

The 40-ton cask project is run by Ministry of Nuclear Energy (Minatom)and Defence Ministry on the Russian side.

But the prototype cask may not reflect the safety standards for thecasks under serial production at the Izhora plant.

"The first 40-tons cask was made with special care to secure that itpasses all the safety tests and gets licensed," says Aleksandr Dmitriev,Deputy Chairman of GAN. Once this became clear for GAN, it decided to withholdfrom the participation in the project.

"We doubt that the casks under serial production can pass the same testsas the prototype. This means they do not meet the safety requirements neededto be approved before being taken into use," Dmitriev says.

The test included exposure to fire, drop-tests, exposure to water order to make sure that the highly radioactive spent fuel inside thesix canisters in the cask would remain intact whatever happens.

The lack of a GAN's representative signature during the testing is aclear violation of the requirements drawn in the Russian normative safetydocuments and will, according to the law, mean that the casks are not certifiedand their use is illegal. The same regulations must be applied even ifthe casks will be transferred to the military domain.

GAN has been struggling for years with the Defence Ministry to get accessand carry out control over naval nuclear sites, such as the nuclear wastesites at the bases of the Northern Fleet and shipyards at the Kola Peninsula.According to Dmitriev, Minatom is also trying to strip Gosatomnadzor ofinfluence on the matters related to regulating nuclear safety both at theirown enterprises and sites subjected to the Defence Ministry.

Taking decision to ignore the tests of the prototype cask, GAN saidit could not be a part of the process that disregards safety regulations,thus making the agency responsible should anything happen when the casksare taken in use.

In late March, AMEC had a meeting in Moscow where this situation wasthe very subject for discussion. Sources within the U.S. AMEC delegationsay they invited GAN to take part in the meeting, but it seemed likerepresentativesof the Russian Defence Ministry and Minatom gave another message to theagency that said the American invitation was not to be considered as valid.The Moscow meeting went on without civilian nuclear regulatory present.Instead, Dmitriev participated at a NGO conference on nuclear safety arrangedby Social Ecological Union in Moscow, where he expressed his concern.

"We had a AMEC meeting in Moscow on certification of our cask wherewe where told that the Defence Ministry's nuclear regulatory authoritiesand Ministry of Health would certify our cask," says Captain Dieter Rudolph,AMEC program manager. "The question of the civilian nuclear regulatoryjurisdiction came up and we plan to resolve it by letting the Ministryof Foreign Affairs adjudicate between the various agencies and provideus with the official Russian Government position," Captain Rudolph added.

During the coming year the Izhora plant will produce one hundred 40-tonscasks, the first 12 are to be paid by the Americans from the budget ofthe Co-operative Treat Reduction program (CTR). These casks will, accordingto the plans, hold spent nuclear fuel from strategical submarines underdecommissioning at the naval yards in Severodvinsk and at the Nerpa shipyardat the Kola Peninsula. Each cask has a price tag of $150.000 and a lifetimeof 50 years.

The idea is to create a cask suitable for both local storage andtransportationof the spent fuel to the Mayak reprocessing plant in the South Ural. The40-ton cask will accommodate both damaged and normal fuel, and is patternedon the old Russian TUK-18 cask so that it will fit the Northern Fleetsexisting support and transportation infrastructure.

Provided GAN is right in its claim that only the prototype cask meetsthe required safety standards, the U.S. CTR program can be forced to cancelits order of these casks. The cask contracts have been separated into smallbatches, so should the Izhora plant fail to live up to the safety standardsmanufacturing the first batch, it would diminish likelihood that the plant receives any future contracts. On the other side, Minatom says it alsowill pay for the 40-ton casks, seemingly ignoring the objections filedby GAN.

The safety issue of the casks for spent nuclear fuel may end up to bean illustration of the on-going fight between civilian and military regulatoryauthorities inside Russia. In addition, it clearly shows the core of thelong-time discussed nuclear liability issue between Western companies andgovernments on the one side and Russian authorities on the other. Westerncompanies want to have the liability issue sorted out, in order not tobe made economically responsible for any damage caused by a nuclear accidentinvolving any equipment either produced or financed by them.

"Whether or not the allegation of quality problems with the spent fuelcasks are true, this situation illustrates why nuclear liability issueis such an important question to the West," says Steven Sawhill, researcherat the Fridtjof Nansen Institute in Oslo. Sawhill has followed the AMECprogram closely for years.
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Russia Builds First Containers to Store Sub Nuclear Waste
        Itar Tass
        April 7, 2000
        (for personal use only)

ST.PETERSBURG, April 7 (Itar-Tass) - The Izhorskie Zavody company inSt.Petersburg built 12 Russia's first reusable containers to store andhaul nuclear waste from nuclear submarines. They will be inspected on Fridayby a delegation of the Nuclear Energy Ministry and the military, Itar-Tasslearnt at the intersectoral coordination centre Nuklid of the Nuclear EnergyMinistry on Friday.

Containers will be dispatched to the North Fleet and will be used fortemporary storage of fuel, as well as for its haulage to the Mayak facilityin the Chelyabinsk Region. Three or four containers are needed to unlmadfuel from a single submarine. Each of them costs 220,000-250,000 U,S. dollars.

Russia will possibly build another 88 containers in 2001-2002 with fundsof the international programme "Arctic military and ecological cooperation",which is financed by Russia, Norway and the United States.

All in all, Russia needs 430 such containers to utilise more than 100nuclear submarines. This equipment possesses high durability, density toprevent radiation leackage as well as sufficient heat conduction, helpingto avoid overheating of nuclear fuel.
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C. Nuclear Power Industry

Russia Forms State Fund for Nuclear Safety
        Itar Tass
        April 7, 2000
        (for personal use only)

ST. PETERSBURG, April 7 (Itar-Tass) - Some 250 million dollars willbe amassed at the State Ecological Fuld for Nuclear Safety, which is beingformed in Russia by the Nuclear Ministry, the Transport Ministry, the Ministryof Finance and some other departments and organizations, the Nuclear Minister'sAdviser and Director of the "Nuclide" Scientific-Technical Center of St.
Petersburg Nina Yanovskaya said at a news conference on Friday.

The Fund will finance the halt of nuclear enerfy sites an` guaranteethe compensation of damage to foreign countries in case of a nuclear accidentin Russia.

It will be made of deductions of nuclear energy consumers at 60 percent,nuclear insurance payments at 30 percent, and money of environmental fundsand commercialization of R&D in the nuclear industry at 10 percent.
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Russia Begins Deliveries of Nuclear Fuel to Ukraine
        Itar Tass
        April 10, 2000
        (for personal use only)

KIEV, April 10 (Itar-Tass) - First train cars loaded with nuclear fuelare expected to arrive in Ukraine from Russia this week, President of the"Energoatom" enterprise Vladimir Bronnikov said on Monday.

At the end of March the "Energoatom" made an advance payment of 23,1million dollars to the Russian "TVEL" joint stock society for deliveriesof nuclear fuel for three nuclear reactors.

Under the programme of deliveries of nuclear fuel in the year 2000 theRussian "TVEL" enterprise will provide nuclear fuel on condition that paymentsare made in live money with an initial installment of 35 percent of theoverall cost.

Ten major metallurgica enterprises in Ukraine have promised to financethe programmm of nuclear fuel deliveries from Russia.
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Quality Stressed in Sino-Russian Nuclear Power Plant
        April 10, 2000
        (for personal use only)

NANJING (April 10) XINHUA - A series of effective measures have beentaken to ensure the safety of the Sino-Russian Tianwan Nuclear Power Stationunder construction in Lianyungang, a famous coastal city in east China'sJiangsu Province.

More than 40 Chinese nuclear specialists have been sent to Russia tosupervise the manufacture of the equipment while a team of Russian expertsare stationed in Lianyungang providing technical guidance, according toOuyang Yu, chief engineer of the Jiangsu Nuclear Power Co., Ltd..

Ministerial officials from both sides meet every three months to coordinatethe construction of the nuclear power station, said Ouyang, who is alsoan academician scholar with the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

"The station has prevented severe accidents and in terms of safety standardswill be comparable to all other Chinese nuclear power stations now in operationor under construction," Ouyang said.

The new station, the largest cooperative project between the two countries,is designed in strict compliance with the latest safety regulations andnorms from the International Atomic Energy Agency and also takes into accountthe experience of Russia and other Western countries in building and operatingnuclear power stations.

Key technology used for it has been modeled after that nuclear powerstations built in Russia and other countries.

According to Ouyang, the new station will have four Russia-made pressurizedwater reactors installed, each with a generating capacity of one millionkilowatts.

These pressurized water reactors will have four safety backup systems,as compared with two at other nuclear power stations.

Siemens digital instrumentation and control systems, believed to bethe most advanced in the world, will be adopted to ensure the sound, smoothoperation of the nuclear station.
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Russia Sees Swift START II Approval-Talbott
        Elaine Monaghan
        April 9, 2000
        (for personal use only)
WASHINGTON, April 9 (Reuters) - Russia has told the United States itsparliament could ratify an arms reduction treaty signed seven years agobefore Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov visits Washington in 19 days, a movethat would give a big psychological boost to tricky post-Cold War relations.

Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott told Reuters in an interviewon Friday that the Kremlin was saying the process of ratifying START II,signed in January 1993, was under way.

Although each side has been assuming ratification of START II -- anacronym for Strategic Arms Reductions Talks which would cut nuclear warheadsto 3,500 each by 2003 -- it would end an embarrassing delay and allow talkson deeper nuclear arms cuts to begin in earnest.

``The Russians continue to assure us, including in the last 24 hours,that the process for ratifying START II in the Duma is under way ... andthat in fact there could even be ratification of START II by the Duma beforeForeign Minister Ivanov comes to Washington,'' Talbott said in his office.

Clinton and Yeltsin agreed to the parameters of START III talks backin March 1997. With START II, the number of nuclear warheads would be cutto 2,000-2,500 by 2007, though Russia would like deeper cuts now.

Ratification would also provide an encouraging sign that President-electVladimir Putin, who is also acting president, may have more success atworking with the Duma than his predecessor.

At the talks, the United States will bring up the Anti-Ballistic Missile(ABM) treaty, which it hopes Russia will agree to amend, allowing Clintonto add a National Missile Defence to his legacy when he leaves office nextyear. The treaty bars an anti-missile defence system.

Ivanov and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will also discuss thedate and venue of a Clinton-Putin summit when the foreign minister becomesthe first high-level official to visit from Moscow since Putin's electionon March 26.

Russian and U.S. sources say they want a summit to take place beforePutin and Clinton cross paths at a Group of Eight meeting in Okinawa, Japan,on July 21-23.

Talbott said the situation in the Balkans and in Chechnya would alsobe a focus of Ivanov's discussions after he attends a review of the 1970Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons on April 24-25 in NewYork.


Altering the 1972 ABM treaty is particularly close to the heart of Russianscholar Talbott, whose friendship with Clinton goes back more than 30 yearsto the days when they were Rhodes scholars at Oxford University.

Talbott has been conducting negotiations with Deputy Foreign MinisterGeorgy Mamedov in a bid to persuade him that the United States does notseek to neutralise Russia's defences or scrap mutual deterrence by developinga system to shoot down missiles from what Washington considers ``rogue''states, like North Korea.

``We want very much to see START III go forward. We would like to seethe process of reducing offensive nuclear weapons continue and evenaccelerate,''Talbott said.

``We think that is quite consistent with another need that we see --that is to make adjustments to the ABM treaty so that both sides can dealwith a new problem, which is the proliferation of ballistic missiles,''he added.

Critics of the National Missile Defence, a thinned-down version of a``Star Wars'' system conceived under former President Ronald Reagan, sayClinton is putting politics before common sense by pledging to reach adecision on the system this summer.

They say intelligence assessments have overstated the threat from NorthKorea and that it is no wonder Russia and China are worried about amendmentsto the ABM, which the Russian embassy described as ``the cornerstone ofstrategic stability in the world'' when it announced Ivanov's visit.

They point to a failed second test and the postponement of a third testof the sophisticated missile interceptor from April to June as evidencethat Clinton should leave the decision to his successor.
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Key Russian Committee Urges Start-2 Ratification
        April 10, 2000
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW, April 10 (Reuters) - A key Russian parliamentary committee urgeddeputies on Monday to approve the START-2 arms treaty in a move which couldhasten long-delayed ratification of the key nuclear disarmament accord.

RIA news agency quoted Dmitry Rogozin, head of the State Duma committeeon international relations, as saying a decision to recommend ratificationwas taken during a closed session of the group attended by Foreign MinisterIgor Ivanov and the head of the Strategic Rocket Forces, Vladimir Yakovlev.

Rogozin said the committee voted by 11 votes to seven in favour of theresolution urging ratification.

START-2 would slash the number of nuclear warheads deployed by the UnitedStates and Russia from about 6,000 to no more than 3,500 each by the year2007.

The U.S. Senate has already approved the treaty but the Russian Dumalower house, dominated by the opposition Communist Party and its alliesuntil last December's parliamentary election, has held back. Ratificationwould open the way for talks on further deep cuts under a proposed START-3treaty.
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E. Plutonium Disposition

Virginia Power Quits Plutonium "MOX" Fuel Program
        Nuclear Control Institute
        April 7, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Decision is a victory for nuclear non-proliferation

Virginia Power, a Richmond-based electric utility, has cancelled plansto irradiate plutonium-uranium mixed oxide ("MOX") fuel in its North Anna1 & 2 nuclear power plants.  A U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)spokesman confirmed Friday that Virginia Power has withdrawn from theDuke-Cogema-Stone&Webster(DCS) business consortium that was awarded a $130 million contract lastyear to manufacture and irradiate MOX fuel using plutonium from dismantlednuclear warheads.

"Virginia Power's decision is a victory for nuclear non-proliferation,"said Thomas Clements, Executive Director of the Nuclear Control Institute,a Washington, DC-based nuclear non-proliferation research and advocacycenter.  "We object to the use of weapons plutonium as fuel in civilianreactors because it poses a significant threat to public safety, securityand the environment, and runs counter to 25 years of U.S. nuclearnon-proliferationpolicy."

According to Clements, "The proposed use of MOX fuel would have presentedVirginia Power with hidden costs and financial risks, and subjected thecompany to an unpredictable MOX fuel use schedule given that the pace ofplutonium disposition in the United States is tied to the disposition schedulein Russia.  Duke Power, which is facing an April 20 shareholder voteon its plans to use MOX fuel, should also withdraw from the MOX program." Clements added that NCI and other public-interest groups "would preferto see weapons plutonium immobilized with glassified, highly radioactivewaste for direct disposal."

According to Dr. Edwin Lyman, NCI Scientific Director, "The sudden withdrawalof Virginia Power from the MOX program could jeopardize the US-Russianplutonium disposition agreement now under negotiation.  In order todispose of two tonnes of US military plutonium each year, as the agreementdictates, Duke Power will now have to load more MOX fuel into its
nuclear plants than has ever been attempted elsewhere, creating additionalsafety concerns.  The entire MOX-focused strategy of the plutoniumdisposition program must now be reevaluated."

Plutonium MOX fuel has never been used commercially in the United Statesand is now generating concerns and controversy.  Recent revelationsthat British Nuclear Fuels Ltd. (BNFL) cut costs by falsifying quality-controldata for MOX fuel produced for Japanese and European utility customershas resulted in those customers canceling orders for MOX fuel. Quality-control
problems with MOX fuel produced by Virginia Power's former consortiumpartner, Cogema, have recently been uncovered in Germany.

Even under perfect manufacturing conditions, MOX fuel poses a gravesafety threat.  Dr. Lyman conducted a MOX fuel safety study whichconcluded that, in the event of a severe accident resulting in a largeradioactive release, an average of 25% more people would die of cancerif the reactor were using a partial core of plutonium-MOX fuel, as opposedto a full core of conventional uranium fuel.
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Federal Judge Won't Stop Plutonium Shipment
        Lisa Singhania
        Associated Press
        April 8, 2000
        (for personal use only)

KALAMAZOO -- A federal judge Friday rejected an anti-nuclear coalition'smotion to block an American-funded shipment of Russian plutonium to Canada,saying he lacked the jurisdiction to act on its newest legal argument.The group of Canadian and American activists had argued that the ParallexProject violated an arms control agreement signed by the U.S government,but Chief Judge Richard Enslen said the issue was irrelevant.  "Thejudicial courts have nothing to do with this," Enslen said, after pointingout that treaties are between governments, not private citizens andgovernments. "We're disappointed, but I'm not sure what we'll do next," said Terry Lodge,a lawyer for the coalition.  The government said it was pleased withthe decision and the project would go forward.

This was the anti-nuclear coalition's second attempt to block a shipmentassociated with the joint American-Russian $20 million experiment to determinewhether commercial nuclear reactors in Canada can use material fromdecommissionedRussian nuclear weapons as fuel.  For the project to go forward, boththe United States and Russia have to send plutonium to Canada. The UnitedStates sent its plutonium -- about 4 ounces in all -- to Canada via Michiganand several other states in January after winning a court fight with thesame group.

The U.S. government says the project is key to reducing the spread ofnuclear weapons. But the anti-nuclear activists believe it will do theopposite, while creating potential for nuclear accidents during transport. In December, the activists had asked Enslen to block the shipment on thegrounds the Department of Energy had violated the law by doing an insufficientenvironmental study of the project.  The judge said that althoughthe plaintiffs' contentions that the government violated the law appearedto have merit, the DOE's assertions that an injunction would hurt nucleardisarmament talks were more important.  On Friday, the group wentback to court to try to block the transport of the Russian plutonium --about 1.5 pounds total -- which is expected to be shipped early this summer.Several Canadian groups also joined the complaint, in addition to the originalplaintiffs: six individuals and Citizens for Alternatives to ChemicalContamination. In addition to arguing the project violated arms control agreements signedby the U.S. government, the group's lawyers reiterated an argument madein the December hearings -- the contention Parallex should be blocked untilmore environmental study has been done.  Although the Russian plutoniumshipment is not expected to cross U.S. territory, the plaintiffs arguedit still falls under U.S. law since the DOE is picking up the entire taband the Canadian test site is near the U.S. border.  Enslen said Fridayhe remains convinced the Department likely violated the law by conductinga limited environmental study, but that violation would not be enough tostop the project given its importance to national security.  Theanti-nuclearactivists aren't sure what they'll do next. The case could still go totrial, but that likely would not happen before the shipments werecompleted. A lawsuit in Canada is also possible. Some of the Indian tribes in Ontario,the province where the experiment will take place, say the Canadian governmentdid not consult with them sufficiently before approving the shipments. There were demonstrations against the U.S. shipment last year.  "Thereis more unity on this issue in Canada," says Grand Chief Larry Sault ofthe Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians. "We will fight this."
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F. Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT)

U.S. Now On Defensive Over Nuclear Arms Spread
        Leo Rennert
        Sacramento Bee
        April 7, 2000
        (for personal use only)

WASHINGTON -- After 50 years as the pre-eminent leader in efforts tocurb the spread of nuclear weapons, the United States is about to finditself on the receiving end of an international barrage of accusationsthat it has become a prime obstacle thwarting progress toward a safer world.

Charges that U.S. actions and policies have taken a sharply negativeturn are expected to dominate a 186-nation conference later this monthat the United Nations in New York. The meeting has been called to determinewhether efforts to halt nuclear proliferation -- after a series of recentsetbacks – can be put back on track.

The White House, seeking to prevent a collapse of the conference, hasbeen put on the defensive by the Senate's rejection of the global nucleartest ban treaty and President Clinton's inability on his recent Asian tripto persuade India and Pakistan to reverse course on nuclear arms.

"I lost all leverage I had when the Republican Senate defeated ratificationof the treaty," an exasperated Clinton said last month.

The New York conference was mandated five years ago when world leaders,under strong U.S. pressure, agreed to extend indefinitely the 1970Non-ProliferationTreaty -- the linchpin for global arms control.

The treaty recognizes only five official nuclear powers -- the UnitedStates, Russia, Britain, France and China. It requires all other signatoriesto foreswear nuclear weapons and allow international inspections to preventcheating. To keep the nuclear "have-nots" in their place, the nuclear "haves"are required to show progress toward nuclear disarmament.

Specifically, the 1995 agreement stipulated early ratification of thetest ban treaty, new U.S.-Russian agreements to slash offensive nuclearweapons, and conclusion of a new treaty to halt production of bomb-makingfissile materials.

None of this has happened. Non-nuclear nations, angry about lack ofprogress, are set to charge that the nuclear powers have not kept theirpart of the bargain, reserving their harshest criticism for the UnitedStates.

"We're going to get slammed," said Spurgeon M. Keeny Jr., presidentof the private Arms Control Association. "The picture is very bleak. Ifthe conference gets out of hand, it could be very destructive. It couldundermine confidence in the international non-proliferation regime. Theadministration is working frantically to minimize a backlash.

"On the test ban treaty, we are the people who are creating the problem.We didn't ratify. The British and the French did. And the Russians andthe Chinese are waiting for us."

Left to play with a weak hand, Clinton hopes to recoup by holding outthe prospect of early arms-control deals with Russia that might persuaderestive nuclear "have-not" nations that the two big nuclear superpowersstill are able to reduce their arsenals.

But that leaves the fate of the conference largely up to RussianPresident-electVladimir Putin, who must decide whether it's in Moscow's greater interestto accommodate a lame-duck U.S. president or wait to negotiate more lastingagreements with his successor.

At home, Clinton faces a growing view among congressional Republicansthat U.S. security is better served by quick deployment of a national missiledefense than by arms-control pacts that may not be cheat-proof. Sen. JesseHelms, R-N.C., chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, denounced thetest ban treaty as "toothless, meaningless, dangerous, worthless."

The prospect that Clinton and Congress may opt for a missile shield,even a limited one to protect the United States against attacks from "rogue"states like North Korea, has provoked angry opposition in Moscow and Beijing,which see such a step as a threat to the strategic balance among the nuclearpowers. NATO allies worry that a U.S. missile shield may trigger a newarms race.

All these criticisms and concerns will get high-visibility exposurein New York. An early tip-off of what the United States can expect camewhen the U.N. General Assembly voted almost unanimously against deploymentof missile defenses.

Gary Samore, director of non-proliferation at the National SecurityCouncil, said the administration wants the conference to end with a declarationof objectives for the next five years -- essentially a repeat of the goalsset in 1995 for major cuts in offensive weapons and ratification of thetest ban treaty. An adjournment without a consensus declaration could leavethe future of non-proliferation in limbo -- with nuclear "have-nots" moretempted to become "haves."

According to a senior U.S. official, the conference could blow up overthree "killer" issues:

 --A Chinese attempt to hold a final policy statement hostage tocondemnation of Washington for planning to violate the 1972 Anti-BallisticMissile Treaty, which prohibits deployment of national missile defenses.

--Demands by non-nuclear powers to tie further adherence to theNon-ProliferationTreaty to faster and deeper disarmament moves by the five nuclear powers.

--An effort by Arab countries to slam Israel for declining to join theNon-Proliferation Treaty. The administration would go along with a resolutionto press all remaining non-signatories -- chiefly India, Pakistan, Israeland Cuba -- to sign up but would block a move to single out Israel.

While the conference is headed for some rough encounters, there is generalagreement that nuclear proliferation has taken a turn for the worse sincethe 1995 agreement for permanent extension of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

India and Pakistan, the two most prominent non-signatories, explodednuclear devices two years ago. Russia, unable to fund conventional militaryforces, has lowered the threshold for possible use of nuclear weapons.Thousands of U.S. and Russian warheads remain on hair-trigger alert. WeakU.S. export controls have permitted leakage of critical technology. WhileRussia has
questionable control over its nuclear arsenal, it's also helping Irandevelop an increasingly worrisome nuclear capability. China is consideringa big increase in offensive nuclear missiles as a counter to any U.S.-backedmissile shield for Taiwan.

"The world is facing a nuclear crisis," says former President Carter."An end to the NPT could open a Pandora's box of nuclear proliferationin states that already present serious terrorist threats."
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G. Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR)

Russia And U.S. Take On A Herculean Task:  Chemical WeaponsLeft After Cold War Defy Joint Effort
        Will Englund
        Baltimore Sun
        April 6, 2000
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW -- The research institute where Russian scientists spent decadesperfecting ever more deadly chemical weapons consists of a ramshackle collectionof laboratories crammed into a triangular plot off the Highway of theEnthusiastsin the heavy-industry belt of eastern Moscow.

The buildings, some apparently abandoned and most in poor repair, arelinked by battered above-ground pipes that weave in and out, over and alongthe muddy alleys.

This was a top-secret place, and it was only six years ago that securityofficials were prosecuting a Russian chemist for daring to talk about whatwent on inside.

Now Russia says it is eager to destroy its huge chemical-weapons stockpileand was glad to have the U.S. government construct a state-of-the-art analyticallab here to help that process.

Yesterday, Russian and American officials showed off the new lab --discreetly fenced off from the rest of the institute by coils of barbedwire to keep inquisitive visitors away from what their Russian hosts don'twant them to see.

The delegations swept in with television cameras in tow and a ribbonto cut. The rest of the institute was deadly quiet, seemingly abandoned,the only people stirring a few soldiers lurking down the alleyways.

The officials congratulated each other on their cooperation and pledgedto move on to the real work that lies ahead.

"I think all involved in the project understand that it has not beenan easy thing to arrive at the point where we are today," said U.S. AmbassadorJames F. Collins.

Since it began in 1996, the joint Russian-American program has beenbased on the idea that the Americans would pay to destroy Russian weaponsbecause it was in America's interest to do so.

But the effort has been marked by considerable delay, a lack of trust,American accusations that the Russians are withholding information, suspicionswithin the Russian military that the Americans are stealing secrets and,finally, a decision by a dissatisfied Congress to cut out all funds forthe program in this year's budget.

On April 1 Russia missed its first significant deadline under the 1997Chemical Weapons Convention. By that date, it was supposed to have destroyed400 tons of munitions; it has yet to build a place to carry out the work.

Yesterday's tour and official transfer of the new lab were designedto strike a positive note and get the money back on track next year intime to begin work on an industrial-scale demolition plant in Shchuchye,in western Siberia.

The United States has spent about $200 million on the Russian program,project manager Adolph Ernst, from the U.S. Army arsenal at Edgewood, saidyesterday -- $18.5 million on the lab in Moscow, and the rest on developmentand design work, mobile laboratories, training and other support activities.

Work on the lab here was able to continue this year because, with theproject about a year behind schedule, there was money available from earlierbudgets.

Under what is known as the Cooperative Threat Reduction program, theUnited States is supposed to spend an additional $688 million in the yearsahead to build the Shchuchye plant.

Russia has budgeted about $21 million of its own funds this year, ZinovyPak, general director of the Munitions Agency, said yesterday -- but typicallyin Russia the amount spent often falls considerably short of what has beenbudgeted. Russia is appealing to Western European nations to help it meetits share.

Tons of weapons

The task is formidable.

In Shchuchye the Russians have stored about 2 million artillery roundsand rocket warheads filled with 5,460 tons of chemical weapons material-- mostly nerve agents, which are designed to kill soldiers the way pesticideskill insects.

According to a critical report issued by the U.S. General AccountingOffice last year, the plant the United States wants to build would be ableto destroy 500 tons a year, meaning the work would extend at least until2017, 10 years after the date set by the Chemical Weapons Convention fordestruction of the entire arsenal.

And Shchuchye contains less than 20 percent of Russia's declared stockpileof 40,000 tons of chemical weapons.

American and Russian officials made it clear yesterday that they believethe program is at a critical juncture. Beset by problems, it will eitherget moving again within a year -- with renewed U.S. spending -- or faceinsurmountable obstacles.

Yuri Kapralov, representing the Russian Foreign Ministry, declared thatthe American money was not charity. "When we were persuaded to sign theChemical Weapons Convention," he said, "we were told that internationalassistance would be provided for our efforts."

But the Russians have been stingy with their information and have managedto raise fears about proliferation. In 1995, the former head of the chemicalweapons forces, Gen. Anatoly Kuntsevich, was accused of smuggling materialsto Syria. Although charges were withdrawn a year later, there have beennew suspicions about his role in helping Iraq obtain nerve agents.

New threats developed

Earlier, despite Moscow's claims in the 1980s that it had long sincegiven up chemical weapons, a dissident scientist at the Moscow lab namedVil Mirzayanov revealed that research had continued through 1992 and thata new series of virulent and potentially undetectable agents called Novichokhad been developed.

Viktor Petrunin, who is still director of the lab, known officiallyas the State Scientific Research Institute of Organic Chemistry and Technology,had won a Lenin Prize for his work on Novichok. Mirzayanov was prosecutedfor revealing state secrets. Charges against him were dropped in 1994 andhe later emmigrated to the United States.

He believes that Russia is most likely not pursuing further work onNovichok, but some arms control experts fear that the agents may have beenobtained by rogue states.

Russia's relentless pursuit of its war in Chechnya also has raised questionsabout U.S. financial support for a program that is essentially a militaryone. Moscow announced Monday that it has spent $385 million on the war.

The four-story building that was dedicated yesterday contains 27 laboratoriesand about 80 other rooms. The lab work will focus on fine-tuning the processto be used in Shchuchye, and then providing environmental monitoring andquality control of the process. It will be staffed by the same scientistswho less than a decade ago were working on new chemical weapons for battlefielduse.

Ernst said that one reason for the delay in constructing the lab, housedin an older building that had been stripped clean, was that workers foundan unexpected hazard as they went along. Nothing exotic like nerve gas,just huge amounts of one of the Soviet Union's favorite building materials-- asbestos.
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