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Nuclear News - 06/19/00
RANSAC Nuclear News, 19 June 2000


A. Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU)

    1. Russia Warned Over Nuclear Pact, Nancy Dunne, FinancialTimes (6/13/00)
    2. Privatization Sponsor Opposes Uranium Glut, Joe Walker,Paducah Sun (6/14/00)
B. Department of Energy (DOE)
    1. Nuclear Reaction:  Senate Votes To OK New Weapons Chief,Associated Press (6/15/00)
    2. Shielding Secrets In A Cyber Age, Francine Kiefer, ChristianScience Monitor (6/16/00)
C. Export Controls
    1. Defiant Putin Lifts Curbs On Russian Nuclear Exports,Ian Travnor, The Guardian (6/1/00)
D. ABM, Missile Defense
    1. Group Urges Missile Defense Delay, Roberto Suro, WashingtonPost (6/16/00)
E. Minatom
    1. Nikitin ‘Strips’ Nuclear Industry, Igor Kudrik, Bellona(6/16/00)



A. Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU)

1.
Russia Warned Over Nuclear Pact
        Nancy Dunne
        Financial Times
        June 13, 2000
        (for personal use only)
 
US-Russian non-proliferation efforts have been endangered by the slumpin global uranium prices and the Clinton administration's failure to addressthe crisis, Pete Domenici, the influential chairman of the Senate Budgetcommittee, has warned Russia.

In a letter he wrote to a senior Russian official, Mr Domenici, a Republicanfrom New Mexico, urged Yevgeny Olegovich Adamov, Russian minister for atomicenergy, to work closely with the US to save a bilateral uranium agreementhe described as "central to joint efforts to reduce nuclear arms and addressproliferation risks".

Moscow last month threatened to halt shipments of enriched uranium tothe US, thereby jeopardising a 1993 pact under which the US buys the fuelsalved from dismantled Russian warheads. The proceeds from the sales, 500tonnes over 20 years, are supposed to fund Russian nuclear safety, environmentand security programmes, Mr Domenici said.

At the same Mr Domenici wrote to Mr Adamov, senators and congressmenfrom Ohio, Kentucky and Illinois sent their own letter to President Clintondemanding a "pro-active response" to the troubles of USEC, the privatiseduranium enrichment company, which is charged with operating the US-Russianagreement.

The legislators said that four of the conditions of USEC's privatisationhad been violated or "severely compromised". These included the continuedoperation of the energy department's gaseous diffusion plants - USEC isexpected to close one of the giant facilities – the long-term viabilityof the company, maintenance of a US uranium industry and US national security.

Uranium prices have fallen to historic lows since the USEC privatisationless than two years ago. Mr Domenici blames USEC's placement of stocksof natural uranium on the market.

On Tuesday industry officials asked the International Trade Commissionto continue curbs on imports from the former Soviet Union, imposed in anantidumping action.
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2.
Privatization Sponsor Opposes Uranium Glut
        Joe Walker
        Paducah Sun
        June 14, 2000
        (for personal use only)
 
U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici, a New Mexico Republican who co-sponsored legislationto privatize USEC Inc., has asked the Clinton administration for tightercontrol over the receipt of 500 tons of uranium from Russia.

Domenici, who with former Sen. Wendell Ford of Kentucky wrote a billto privatize USEC, said a depressed market in which USEC competes threatensthe nuclear disarmament agreement with Russia, as well as the entire domesticenrichment industry.

As agent for Russian enriched uranium derived from nuclear warheads,USEC is paying more for the material than the production costs of USECplants at Paducah and Portsmouth, Ohio. Trying to get Russia to lower prices,USEC has offered to buy natural uranium from Russia for resale in a gluttedmarket.

On June 21, the USEC board is expected to vote to close one of the plants.The company is cutting about 625 jobs at the two facilities, and marketconditions threaten the 330-employee Honeywell plant in Metropolis, Ill.,this country's sole supplier of raw material to the USEC plants.

In a letter last month, Russian Minister for Atomic Energy Yevgeny Adamovsaid his country would halt uranium shipments to the United States as outlinedunder the agreement. On Monday, Domenici wrote Adamov and U.S. Energy SecretaryBill Richardson saying that development seriously jeopardizes disarmament.

"When Congress agreed to privatize USEC, it did not anticipate thatthe administration would effectively allow the (Russian) agreement to beprivatized along with (USEC)," Domenici wrote. "Nor was Congress informedof transfers of huge inventories of natural uranium to USEC prior to privatization,transfers that could be predicted to drastically impact the global uraniummarket."

Domenici referred to about $746 million in stockpiled uranium that theDepartment of Energy gave USEC to help capitalize the company. USEC isnow rapidly selling the inventory amid financial trouble. Coupled withpotentially more uranium from Russia, that could depress the market evenmore.

Last week, Jim Graham, chief executive officer of ConverDyn, the marketingarm of the Honeywell plant, told a congressional subcommittee that theplant could close without government intervention. He cited the Russianand USEC inventory sales as key factors.

On July 20, 1998 — two days before the USEC board authorized the saleof $1.9 billion in stock to privatize USEC — Domenici wrote the Departmentof Treasury and the board saying the transfer of DOE uranium as part ofprivatization could "imperil" the Russian agreement. The board receiveda similar letter from Russia.

Domenici urged the board to stop privatization until the process wasresolved. Despite his and the Russian concerns, and the objections of twoboard members, the board approved the stock sale, according to transcriptsof the meetings.

Financial advisers told the board that stopping the stock offering wouldeffectively kill it by scaring potential investors. USEC also promisedthe Treasury not to flood the market with the excess uranium.

After the vote, Domenici helped secure $325 million from Congress tokeep the Russian deal afloat. In his letter to Adamov, he referred to the1998 developments.

"My anticipation of these issues formed the basis of my efforts to proposere-evaluation of the national security implications of privatization actionsbefore proceeding," he wrote. "Unfortunately, my strong advice on thisissue was not heeded by the administration."

Domenici, chairman of the Energy and Water Development AppropriationsSubcommittee, is urging the Clinton administration to save the Russianagreement, brokered in 1993. He said steps must be taken to establish sufficientgovernment oversight and control, including legal protections; to ensurethe deal is fully implemented at 30 metric tons of Russian uranium importedby USEC annually; and to create a "stable, fair and predictable" sale ofthe material to keep from hurting the market.

"If the administration can advance proposals meeting such criteria,you can be assured that I will seek their prompt and careful considerationby Congress," Domenici wrote.

On Tuesday, the Washington, D.C.-based International Trade Commissionheard evidence about another serious market issue. The six-member commissionis expected to rule by the end of July whether uranium from four countriesonce part of the Soviet Union could materially harm the U.S. enrichmentindustry.

In 1992, the countries agreed to limit exports of uranium in returnfor suspending charges they violated a U.S. "anti-dumping" law that imposesstringent duties on foreign countries selling cheap uranium here. Althoughthe Department of Commerce imposed duties in 1993, the law requires thatthe penalties be revoked after five years unless material harm can be shown.That review began in July 1998.

If the trade commission finds material harm, the duties will continue.If not, they will be revoked by the Department of Commerce.
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B. Department of Energy (DOE)

1.
Nuclear Reaction:  Senate Votes To OK New Weapons Chief
        Associated Press
        June 15, 2000
        (for personal use only)

WASHINGTON - Spurred by another security breach at the Los Alamos weaponslab, the Senate yesterday swiftly confirmed the No. 2 man at the CIA tohead a new nuclear weapons agency within the Energy Department.

The White House came under criticism from both Republicans and Democratsin Congress over the disappearance of secret computer files containinginformation on how to dismantle an array of nuclear weapons.

"Is the Department of Energy a national security risk?" asked Sen. PatRoberts, R-Kan., as the department's security experts and the Los Alamoslab's director testified at a Senate hearing about the missing nuclearweapons material.

Meanwhile, investigators at the New Mexico lab began giving polygraphtests to the first of about two dozen nuclear scientists who had free accessto the highly secured vault where the nuclear data had been kept on twocomputer hard drives.

Air Force Gen. John A. Gordon, now deputy CIA director, won unanimousconfirmation by the Senate after his nomination had been held up for months.The vote was 97-0 with no one eager to suggest opposition in light of theLos Alamos controversy.

Gordon said he looked forward to meeting "challenges" as head of thenew agency, which will still report to Richardson.
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2.
Shielding Secrets In A Cyber Age
        Francine Kiefer
        Christian Science Monitor
        June 16, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Los Alamos security leak suggests that US may have to return to old-fashionedtactics.

Keeping secrets in a cyber world could challenge even a superspy likeJames Bond.

In today's computer age, many of the nation's top secrets about nuclearwarheads can be squeezed into a pocket-size memory device like the onelost recently at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Congress is asking, "What's to be done?"

One possible answer: Go back to some old-fashioned methods, like requiringnuclear scientists to check out classified computer equipment much as youwould check out a book at your local library. Even such simple securitymeasures are often met with resistance, however.

"I think over time our government's going to have to change the waythey look at classified information in the cyber world," says Gen. EugeneHabiger, director of security at the Department of Energy that overseesthe nation's three nuclear labs.

Yet last December, the Department of Defense rebuffed a plan by theEnergy Department to strengthen nuclear weapons security by upgrading someinformation to "top secret."

Had the plan been implemented, it's almost certain the two hard drivesthat were recently lost at Los Alamos would have been upgraded to the top-secretcategory. That would have required that there be records of who took thehard drives, and when. Without that classification, 26 lab employees hadunregulated access to the vault where the hard drives were kept.

According to a Department of Defense letter sent to Mr. Habiger, thePentagon shelved the DOE plan - known as the "higher fences initiative"- for reasons of cost and practicality.

Steven Aftergood, who directs the Project for Government Secrecy atthe Federation of American Scientists, says: "The DOE has not been entirelyderelict. They realize that there are some things that need to be protectedwith greater vigor and that effort has been frustrated, largely by thePentagon."

Will you sign in, please?

At a Senate hearing this week, officials from the Energy Departmentand the Los Alamos lab were queried about why there is no sign-out, sign-insystem for dealing with highly sensitive equipment like the hard drives.

John Browne, the director of the lab, cited the history of informationclassification. At the end of the Bush administration, he said, the ideawas proposed to no longer track and account for information classifiedas "secret restricted data" - the second of three government classifications.The most limited is "top secret," the least restrictive "classified."

Under the proposal, access to secret information would still be restrictedto people with the proper clearances, but you would no longer have to identifyand track documents with a serial number. The upshot is that these documentsbecame easily transportable.

The lab originally fought the idea, which was carried out by the Clintonadministration, but finally implemented it in 1993. Because the missinghard drives are classified as secret restricted data, there was no sign-inrequirement. They were, however, stored in a vault in a restricted areasubject to passwords and other clearances.

"Throughout the government, secret data is no longer accounted for inthis country, period. I don't care what agency you go into, there is noaccountability for secret data," Mr. Browne said.

But many question why the lab didn't do more than was required - comeup with its own internal accountability system if it objected to the change.Stanley Busboom, director of security at Los Alamos, says the lab was respondingto a new era of openness about classified information.

"The way it was posed was an openness initiative," he says. "In fact,if you go back, you'll find a lot of parallel discussion over classification.Too many secrets."

Another reason the lab didn't do more on its own is the bureaucratictendency to not deviate from official edicts. Mr. Busboom, who worked inthe Defense Department at the time of the accountability change, recallsa specific decision to "follow the rule."

He notes that, had the higher fences plan been adopted, the hard driveswould have been bumped up to top secret. That means serial numbers wouldhave been used, and officials would have to know the location of the drivesat all times.

Still, protecting sensitive information requires more than just changinga classification. Experts note how difficult it is becoming to track thevoluminous amounts of information coming out of government.

Indeed, in the December Defense Department letter to DOE's Habiger,the Pentagon cited difficulties of upgrading secret information to topsecret. "We anticipate that the costs of implementing such a program wouldbe substantial," wrote Arthur Money, assistant secretary of defense. Hesaid it would require building top-secret storage facilities and buyingmore secure computer equipment.

Adding to the difficulty of ensuring secrecy in an electronic age isthe issue of mobility. The missing hard drives, for instance, are partof a "tool kit" used by a special team at Los Alamos called the NuclearEmergency Search Team. The group's job is to dismantle or disarm nucleardevices and deal with nuclear disasters.

Published reports indicate that the drives contain details about USand Russian nuclear weapons, as well as information about missiles fromChina and France.

"The reason these particular devices are removable is because the wholeteam's concept is mobility - going anywhere in the world," says Busboom.

Daniel Gouré, a security expert at the Center for Strategic andInternational Studies, says top-secret classification for the drives couldrender them "useless," if it means they couldn't be taken out into thefield.

Monitoring e-mail

In the wake of the missing-drives incident, pressure is mounting onthe Clinton administration to do more about protecting sensitive information.Reacting to the latest breech, the US Senate this week confirmed the No.2 man at the CIA to head a new nuclear weapons agency within DOE.

Other steps have already been taken. Since the alleged mishandling ofsecrets by former Los Alamos scientist Wen Ho Lee, lab officials have increasedmonitoring of e-mail and removed floppy disks from computers.

Still, more needs to be done. "The conundrum underlying this whole controversyis the failure of our security policies to adjust to the electronic informationenvironment," says Aftergood. "You can track pieces of paper, and you cancontrol Xerox machines. But you can't track electrons."
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C. Export Controls

1.
Defiant Putin Lifts Curbs On Russian Nuclear Exports
        Ian Traynor
        The Guardian
        June 1, 2000
        (for personal use only)
 
Russia has relaxed its curbs on exporting sensitive nuclear equipmentin a unilateral break with the international consensus that arms controlexperts say is a blow to non-proliferation efforts.

Breaking with the international practice of banning exports of nuclearmaterials to countries whose nuclear power programmes are not subject tothe full scrutiny of the Vienna-based InternationalAtomic Energy Agency(IAEA), President Vladimir Putin has decreed that it is up to Russia todecide who may buy its nuclear power products.

"This is a step against the mainstream of the non-proliferation treaty,"said an international official dealing with nuclear energy. "Putin's decreemakes exports possible without guarantees of fullscope safeguards."
 
Mr Putin's decision, the latest evidence of his resolve to pursue amore robust foreign and economic policy regardless of  western reservations,ditches commitments by his predecessor, Boris Yeltsin, pulling Russia intoline with the west in its nuclear exports policy.

In theory, Mr Putin's decree will leave Russia free to supply maverickstates such as India, Pakistan, North Korea, Israel, Iran, Iraq, Cuba andYugoslavia with nuclear materials, whereas Mr Yeltsin made this impossiblein 1992.

Under a Yeltsin decree eight years ago, Russia signed up for the directivesof the nuclear suppliers' group which proscribe nuclear exports to countrieswhich either had declined to sign the nuclear non-proliferation treatyor refused full IAEA access to their civilian nuclear projects.

India, Pakistan, Israel, and Cuba have not signed the treaty while NorthKorea, a signatory, is generally considered to be in breach of the agreement.

Analysts saw the go-it-alone move as a mockery of the recent pledgefrom the big nuclear powers, including Russia, to work towards the fullelimination of nuclear weapons and of the talk of progress at the recentnon-proliferation review conference in New York.

"This is a softening of Russia's non-proliferation policy," said AnnetteSchaper, an international arms control expert at the Peace Research Foundationin Frankfurt, Germany. "It's a big problem that Russia has unilaterallydecided to break with the prevailing consensus."

Igor Farofontov, of Greenpeace in Moscow, said: "This is a completelystupid move. We could end up with economic sanctions against us."

The decision, however, which is in line with Mr.  Putin's determinationto assert Russia's clout on the international stage, reflects the influenceon him of the powerful nuclear energy lobby, and also shows his eagernessto cash in on what little of Russia's economic assets remains.

In March, Mr Putin made a highly publicised visit to the formerly topsecret nuclear research city of Snezhinsk and pledged to reinvigorate thenuclear industry. He has also just abolished the main state agency responsiblefor environmental protection, a habitual critic of the nuclear lobby.

The Putin decree, the international official said, was "political, are-interpretation of Russia's commitments under the non-proliferation treaty."

The Yeltsin decree of 1992 stated that Russia could only export nuclearequipment and materials to countries "which do not possess nuclear weaponsand whose entire nuclear activities are under the guarantees of the IAEA."

The Putin decree revises this. The Russian government "in exceptionalcircumstances" can decide to export nuclear materials to a country whichhas no nuclear weapons but which has not placed all its nuclear activityunder IAEA safeguards.

The client government has to give assurances that the equipment willnot be diverted for nuclear weapons purposes.

"This is a revolutionary change in Russia's position on non-proliferation,"commented the Moscow newspaper, Novye Izvestiya.

Nikolai Ryzhov, the deputy minister for atomic energy, said the nuclearexports would proceed if they "do not contradict Russia's internationalagreements and if the governments of the countries concerned promise thatthey will not be used to build nuclear weapons."
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D. ABM, Missile Defense

1.
Group Urges Missile Defense Delay
        Roberto Suro
        Washington Post
        June 16, 2000
        (for personal use only)

"A bipartisan group of 15 former diplomats, military officials and defenseintellectuals has urged Clinton, in a letter made public yesterday, todefer the decision on national missile defense because of unresolved issuesremaining concerning the 'costs, technology and security and foreign policyimplications.' The group includes William J. Perry, who served Clintonas defense secretary, and retired Army Gen. John M. Shalikashvili, a formerchairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Clinton."

Complete text of letter:

June 7, 2000

William J. Clinton
The President of the United States
Executive Office of the President
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC  20500

Dear Mr. President:

On May 22, 2000 Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John D. andCatherine T. MacArthur Foundation convened us in Washington, DC for discussionof the possible consequences of deploying the limited national missiledefense system under consideration by the administration.  We discussedquestions of technology and costs; the range of threats, long-and short-term,to the United States and international security, including accidental launchof nuclear weapons; the diplomatic implications of a deployment decision;and alternative defense systems.

It is gratifying to note that a range of influential individuals, bothRepublican and Democrat have written recently on national missile defense,and that their concerns reflect those raised at our May 22 meeting. Indeed,we are convinced that significant unresolved issues remain concerning thecosts, technology, and especially the security and foreign policy implicationsof a national missile defense system.  Recognizing the complexityof the issues that will affect your analysis and ultimate decision, werespectfully urge you to defer a decision to deploy, and not to be forcedby artificial deadlines, but to further the debate that has now begun inearnest.

We support an approach that includes further research on a range ofdefense system concepts; discussions with a number of countries, especiallywith our NATO allies, Russia, China and Japan, and with other countries,including India and Pakistan; and vigorous diplomatic initiatives to reducethreats, in the manner of the current explorations with North Korea.

A decision on national missile defense deployment has far-reaching implications. We believe it merits transparent evaluation, open discussion, and fullconsultation with key countries and with the American people.

Sincerely,

Dr. Gloria C. Duffy
Susan Eisenhower
Dr. Richard L. Garwin
General Andrew J. Goodpaster (ret.)
Dr. Lisbeth Gronlund
John D. Isaacs
Dr. Lawrence J. Korb
Ambassador Jack F. Matlock, Jr.
Dr. Jessica T. Mathews
Senator Sam Nunn
Dr. Joseph S. Nye, Jr.
Admiral William A. Owens (ret.)
Dr. William J. Perry
Dr. Roald Z. Sagdeev
General John M. Shalikashvili (ret.)

Cc:   Secretary Albright
        Secretary Cohen
        National Security AdvisorBerger
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E. Minatom

1.
Nikitin ‘Strips’ Nuclear Industry
        Igor Kudrik
        Bellona
        June 16, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Russian Nuclear Minister is stripped of 10,000 rubles for calling Nikitina spy.

A district court in St. Petersburg ruled Friday that Yevgeny Adamov,the Russian Nuclear Minister, damaged Nikitin’s reputation by calling himpublicly a spy. The court said that Adamov has to compensate Nikitin forthe damage by paying 10,000 rubles (an equivalent of $350). Newspapersand agencies that distributed the high-ranking lies are obliged to publisha disclaimer.

"I can say with all responsibility that more than half, 70 per cent,of information collected by Aleksandr Nikitin for Bellona foundation hasnothing in common with the environment," Adamov told Radio Echo in Moscowon 8 May 1998.

"These (questions raised in the report) were normal, professionallyset up intelligence questions."

On 5 November 1998, Adamov popped up in media reports that quoted himas saying Nikitin "was disclosing critical information, violated statesecrecy rules and ... was inflicting damage to the country."

These and other quotations prompted Nikitin’s lawyers to file a suitagainst the official.

Aleksandr Nikitin was accused of high treason and divulging state secretswhile co-authoring the Bellona report on radiation hazards in the RussianNorthern Fleet. His case that had been lasting for four and half yearswas ended by St. Petersburg City Court with full acquittal in December1999.

Accusations against Nikitin stem from a subchapter in the report detailingsafety problems linked to third-generation nuclear installations and achapter on accidents aboard nuclear submarines.

Minatom finds state secrets when told to In his excitement to condemnNikitin, Adamov overlooked the findings of his own ministry. On 21 September1996, experts from the Nuclear Energy Ministry (Minatom) concluded thatthe subchapter on third-generation nuclear reactors contained no statesecrets. The experts from Minatom refused to evaluate the chapter regardingaccidents onboard nuclear submarines having said it was not their areaof expertise.

But once it came to Adamov's knowledge that Nikitin filed a suit againsthim in 1998, the Minister ordered a new expert evaluation that, accordingto Adamov's lawyer present at the trial, concluded there were state secretsin the Bellona report. The evaluation, however, was not made availablefor the Judge in this court. The lawyer said it was "classified." It wasnot made available to the court that acquitted Nikitin either, thus itwas considered illegible and any reference to it was irrelevant for thecourt.

Adamov’s lawyer would not specify whether his client was going to filean appeal to the verdict. It is certain, however, that both the expensesrelated to the legal services and the eventual fee Adamov is obliged topay will not come from the Minister’s own pocket.
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