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Nuclear News - 06/30/00
RANSAC Nuclear News, 30 June 2000


A. Plutonium Disposition

    1. Burning Plutonium Too Hot For Russian Reactors To Handle,Environment News Service (6/28/00)
    2. G8 Countries Possibly Help Russia Fulfill Plutonium Accord,Itar-Tass (6/30/00)
B. Russian Military
    1. Nuke Arms Reduction Must Not Damage Russian National Security,Itar-Tass (6/30/00)
C. Russian Nuclear Forces
    1. Russia Sells Missile Technology To North Korea, Bill Gertz,Washington Times (6/30/00)
D. ABM, Missile Defense
    1. NMD Deployment In 2005 Not Most Likely Date, Welch Reports,Defense Daily (6/30/00)

A. Plutonium Disposition

1.
Burning Plutonium Too Hot For Russian Reactors To Handle
        Environment News Service
        June 28, 2000
        (for personal use only)

An agreement to dispose of weapons grade plutonium by burning it asfuel in nuclear reactors might not be as attractive as first thought.

A report released at Moscow's National Press Institute on Monday, warnsthat the June 4 agreement signed by United States President Bill Clintonand Russian President Vladimir Putin to burn weapons grade plutonium incommercial Russian reactors will cause extensive plutonium pollution acrossRussia.

The report, "Consequences of Burning the Mixed Oxide Uranium PlutoniumFuel in Russian Reactors VVER-1000," concludes that contamination afteran accident at a VVER-1000 plant loaded with mixed oxide fuel (MOX), wouldrelease two and a half to three times more radiation compared to the sameaccident at a VVER-1000 plant loaded with uranium fuel.

"The negative influence on the health of the population will be twoand a half to three times higher as well," said Vladimir Kuznetsov, oneof the report's authors who is a former chief of inspection of GAN, theNuclear Safety Authority of Russia, Russia's nuclear regulatory body.

The VVER is the Russian version of the Pressurized Water Reactor. Oneof the nuclear materials transported as part of the nuclear fuel cycleis mixed oxide fuel, known as MOX fuel. A nuclear reactor uses enricheduranium fuel to produce heat which in turn generates electricity. Withinthe reactor, plutonium is naturally produced and typically contributesmore than one-third of the power.

Ecodefense! and the Anti-nuclear Campaign of the Socio-Ecological Union,the two groups behind the report, argue that given its poor safety record,the Russia's nuclear industry is ill equipped to carry out the plutoniumprogram.

"More than 1,200 incidents have taken place at Russian nuclear reactors,said co-author Vladimir Slivyak, co-chairman of Ecodefense! and directorof Anti-nuclear Campaign of the Socio-Ecological Union. "That is the bestillustration for the poor level of nuclear safety."

Slivyak said the program does not make technical or economic sense.

The report analyzed the economic aspects of the Russian MOX program,and the technical characteristics of all Russian light water reactors atBalakovo, Kalinin, Kola and Novovoronezh plants, documenting accident informationfor the last 10 years.

Clinton and Putin's agreement requires each country to dispose of 34metric tons of its plutonium stockpile over the next 20 years. Both countrieshave kept large stockpiles of weapons grade plutonium, which could be easilyadapted to fuel nuclear weapons if it fell into terrorist hands.

Unlike weapons grade uranium, which is being blended with other materialsfor use as nuclear power fuel in both the U.S. and in Russia, plutoniumcannot be blended with other materials to make it unusable in weapons.

The Clinton/Putin agreement provides two options for disposing of theplutonium.

One alternative is to immobilize the plutonium with high level radioactivewastes and place it in permanent underground repositories, such as theproposed storage site at Yucca Mountain, Nevada.

The other alternative is to use the plutonium mixed with uranium asfuel in nuclear reactors. Once the plutonium has been irradiated in a reactor,it is unsuitable for weapons use.

The United States intends to use 25.5 tons as fuel and to immobilize8.5 tons. The Russian Federation intends to use all 34 tons as fuel.

The countries agreed to accelerate their work to build new industrialscale facilities for turning the plutonium into fuel or immobilized waste,and attempt to open such facilities by 2007.

Once the facilities are open, each country must dispose of at leasttwo metric tons of weapons grade plutonium per year, and work with othercountries to identify additional means of at least doubling that dispositionrate.

The Russian program is estimated to cost more than US$1.7 billion over20 years. The U.S. program, which includes immobilization facilities aswell as conversion and fuel fabrication facilities, is estimated to cost$4 billion.
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2.
G8 Countries Possibly Help Russia Fulfill Plutonium Accord
        Itar-Tass
        June 30, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Implementation of the agreement between the United States and Russiaon utilisation of arms-grade plutonium will be possible only under conditionof broad participation of other countries in this project, said a high-rankingofficial of the U.S. State Department here on Thursday.

The diplomat noted that the U.S. intends to spend four billion dollarsfor this programme over 30 years and two billion dollars for utilisationof 34 tonnes of Russian plutonium. At the same time, Moscow may need internationalassistance in funding its part of the project.

Washington intends to spend 400 million dollars to assist Russia inthis sphere. The other G8 countries are expected to foot the remainingpart. This question will be discussed at the July summit in Okinawa. However,summiteers will express only political support for the project.

On the other hand, a multilateral mechanism for fulfilling the agreementon plutonium has to be worked out for a G8 summit in Genoa in 2001. Afterthis, Japan, France, Germany, Britain, Italy and Canada can give specificfinancial obligations to render aid to Russia in this sphere.
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B. Russian Military

1.
Nuke Arms Reduction Must Not Damage Russian National Security
        Itar-Tass
        June 30, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Nuclear arms reduction must not damage Russia's national security, believesHero of the Soviet Union General of the Army Yuri Maksimov. Developmentsin the world do not promise tranquility in the 21st century, he noted."This indicates that the preservation of the necessary potential for aretaliation strike by the strategic nuclear forces for decades ahead isone of the main tasks not only for the military but also of military-politicaltasks of our state, " he said.

However, Maksimov believes, with the funding being what it is, the Russianstrategic forces can be enlarged by 2007 at best with 120-150 launcherswith Topol-M missiles instead of 600-700. If Washington decides to withdrawfrom the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, Russian strategic nuclearforces may be unable to deal irreparable damage in retaliation strikes,and this will create a situation when Russia may become a target of nuclearblackmail, Maksimov believes. His article entitled "To preserve nucleardeterrence potential" is published by Krasnaya Zvezda (Red Star) newspaperon Friday.
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C. Russian Nuclear Forces

1.
Russia Sells Missile Technology To North Korea
        Bill Gertz
        Washington Times
        June 30, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Russia is selling missile technology and components to North Korea andnuclear weapons components to Iran, The Washington Times has learned.

Moscow's latest weapons proliferation activity was outlined in sensitiveintelligence reports sent earlier this month to senior policy-makers, accordingto U.S. intelligence officials.

A June 8 U.S. intelligence report from the National Security Agency,which conducts electronic eavesdropping, stated that missile componentcompanies in Russia and Uzbekistan, in Central Asia, were cooperating onthe sale of missile parts to North Korea, the officials said.

The parts being sold included a special aluminum alloy, laser gyroscopesused in missile guidance and connectors and relays used in missile electronics,they said.

The report identified the government-owned North Korean company. A U.S.intelligence agency asked that the name not be disclosed. The Russian andUzbek manufacturers were not identified. Disclosure of Russia's latestmissile-proliferation activities comes weeks after Russian President VladimirPutin announced a plan for a pan-European missile defense shield to complementa U.S. system opposed by Moscow.

"This intelligence shows the Russians are playing both sides of thefence," said an intelligence official. "They are talking missile defensewhile helping boost the missile threat."

Mr. Putin earlier this month proposed a continentwide missile defensethat would protect capitals from Lisbon to Vladivostok from missile attack.His suggestion followed President Clinton's declaration last month thathe is willing to share U.S. defense technology with Russia and other "civilizednations."

The security agency also reported that Russia was collaborating witha North Korean missile company in sending Scud B missile components tothe Middle East state of Yemen.

Officials familiar with the report explained that the gyroscopes forNorth Korean Scud B missiles were first sold to North Korea's ChanggwangSinyong company in Kazakhstan and then resold to Yemen.

The announcement earlier this month that the United States is liftingsome sanctions against North Korea stated that Changgwang Sinyong wouldremain subject to restrictions. Changgwang Sinyong was sanctioned by theState Department in April for its role in selling Scud missiles to Iran,and because of the company's missile proliferation activities, all U.S.export licenses for the company are blocked.

As to the nuclear exports to Iran, a third NSA report from June 8 statedthat Russia is sending tritium gas to a nuclear weapons research centerin Tehran. Russia has been engaged in helping Iran develop a nuclear powergenerating plant at Busheur, but, in the past, Moscow has denied helpingIran develop nuclear weapons.

Tritium is a radioactive gas — an isotope of hydrogen. Its primary useis to enhance the explosive power of nuclear warheads. Robert Barker, anuclear weapons specialist, said tritium has some applications other thanits use in nuclear weapons. For instance, it is used in radio luminescence.However, its delivery to a nuclear research center would indicate plansto use it for weapons, he said.

"The well-known utilization of tritium is for enhancing the performanceof nuclear weapons," Mr. Barker said in an interview. "This is an issueof concern and one would expect Iran to be very forthcoming in providingassurances about what it is being used for."

A Senate aide who specializes in weapons proliferation said the reportsshow Russian weapons proliferation continues to be a danger. And he commented,"This is one more example of the Russian government's failure to controlmissile technology and nuclear exports. Whether the government is incapableor uninterested in controlling its borders is immaterial." About the NorthKorean connection, the aide said Moscow's "work with North Korea in sendingmissile components to a third country also demonstrates that the NorthKorean problem is not solved in any way, shape or form."

Rep. Curt Weldon, Pennsylvania Republican and senior member of the HouseArmed Services Committee, said the Russian arms proliferation shows the"complete breakdown" of Clinton administration arms-control policies.

"This is another clear indication of this administration's total failurein the arms-control arena," he said in an interview. "They have consistentlydenied the reality that these problems exist and now we're continuing topay the price as rogue states continue to develop systems to be used againstAmerica, our allies and our troops that we have to defend."

The Clinton administration has been trying for the past several yearsto win Moscow's cooperation in curbing dangerous nuclear-arms sales. Butthe U.S. appeals have not been successful in curbing the transfers, accordingto the intelligence officials.

"Russia is continuing to ignore U.S. government demands to halt thearms sales," the intelligence official said and added, "The fact that itis collaborating secretly with other states is even more troubling."
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D. ABM, Missile Defense

1.
NMD Deployment In 2005 Not Most Likely Date, Welch Reports
        Defense Daily
        June 30, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Retired USAF Gen. Larry Welch, who heads an independent panel reviewingmissile defense prospects, told a Senate panel that a system could be deployedby 2005 but not likely. His group considers missile defense is technologicallydoable, although the program is on a "high risk" schedule. He noted twokey components for the missile shield remain in question---the missileinterceptors must be successfully tested and weather-related constructiondelays for the radar site on Shemya Island could seriously disrupt anydeployment schedule.
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