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Nuclear News - 08/14/00
RANSAC Nuclear News, 14 August 2000

A.  Russian Military

    1. Security Council Meeting Ends In Draw For Battling MilitaryBrass ...As Putin Calls For 'Balanced' Decision, RFE/RL (08/14/00)
    2. Putin To Cut Nuclear Spending, Associated Press (08/13/00)
    3. Russia to Cut Its Nuclear Stockpile, Putin Decides to ShiftFunds To Rebuild Conventional Forces, Daniel Williams, Washington Post (08/13/00)
    4. Now Putin Brings His Generals To Heel In New Order Of Battle,John Simpson, The Electronic Telegraph (UK) (08/13/00)
    5. Russia, Short On Cash, To Cut Back On Air Defense, AgenceFrance Presse (08/13/00)
    6. Putin To Shake-Up Russian Military, Reuters (08/12/00)
B. Russian Nuclear Forces
    1. Over 100 Trapped On Crippled Russian Nuclear Sub, PatrickLannin, Reuters (08/14/00)
    2. Russian Nuclear Submarine Trapped, Barry Renfrew, AssociatedPress (08/14/00)
    3. Russian Submarine Grounded on Barents Sea Bed, Xinhua(08/14/00)
    4. Bow of Crippled Nuclear Submarine Flooded, Reuters (08/14/00)
    5. Russian Navy Denies Stricken Sub Flooded, Reuters (08/14/00)
    6. North Fleet Commander Leads Nuclear Submarine's RescuingOperations, (08/14/00)
    7. Stricken Russian Sub is Aircraft Carrier Buster, Reuters(08/14/00)
    8. A Glance at Stranded Russian Nuclear Submarine, AssociatedPress (08/14/00)
    9. Norway Calls Crisis Talks On Russian Submarine, Reuters(08/14/00)
C. Highly Enriched Uranium
    1. News Briefing [HEU Purchase Agreement], Uranium Institute(08/08/00)
D. Cooperative Threat Reduction
    1. Blackjacks and Bears: Ukraine Sends Bombers to Russia, (08/11/00)
E. Nuclear Waste
    1. Murmansk: World's Biggest Nuclear Dustbin, James Robbins,BBC (08/14/00)

A. Russian Military

Security Council Meeting Ends In Draw For Battling Military Brass...As Putin Calls For 'Balanced' Decision
        August 14, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Decisions reached by the Security Council at its 11 August meeting havenot been made public, but Interfax, citing only unidentified "Moscow sources,"reported that the council decided to retain the Strategic Rocket Forcesas an independent service until at least 2006. According to the agency,the rocket forces will be gradually reduced as intercontinental ballisticmissiles whose service life has expired are decommissioned. On 12 August,"Kommersant-Daily" reported that according to its sources, both DefenseMinister Igor Sergeev and head of the Armed Forces' General Staff AnatoliiKvashnin have retained their jobs, and neither has emerged a clear winner.The daily also reported that the council decided to limit Russia's arsenalof nuclear missiles to 1,500; Kvashnin had suggested that figure be aslow as 1,400. In addition, more Topol-M rockets will be built than Kvashninhad proposed.

Addressing the meeting, President Putin said that while he has viewedthe "polemics within the Defense Ministry" with tolerance, it is now time"to wrap up the discussion" and make a "balanced decision." He concludedthat the "current structure of the armed forces can hardly be consideredoptimal...pilots virtually do not fly and sailors virtually do not putout to sea."
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Putin To Cut Nuclear Spending
        Associated Press
        August 13, 2000
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW (AP) - President Vladimir Putin has decided to reduce spendingon nuclear forces and shift some of their responsibilities to the conventionalforces, the air force commander said.

The decision came at a meeting Friday to debate the future of Russia'sbeleaguered military and defuse tensions over control of the country'snuclear arsenal. Putin, elected in March, has championed nuclear disarmamentas a goal of his presidency.

The Interfax news agency said that at Friday's meeting, ``A decisionwas made on the redistribution of financial flows'' away from the nuclearforces toward the conventional forces. It gave no details.

Air force commander Anatoly Kornukov, who participated in the meeting,said on Russian television Saturday that the space missile defense troops,currently a branch of the Strategic Rocket Forces, would be put under airforce command by 2002.

The head of the General Staff, Gen. Anatoly Kvashnin, wants to downgradethe Strategic Rocket Forces by folding them entirely into the air force,saying Russia must concentrate its meager money on conventional forcessuch as those fighting rebels in Chechnya.

His proposal prompted a rare public dispute with Defense Minister Gen.Igor Sergeyev, a former commander of the nuclear forces. He argues thatRussia needs to improve its nuclear arsenal to deter possible attacks byother nations.

The Kommersant newspaper reported that Putin won backing from the SecurityCouncil for his proposal to reduce Russia's nuclear arsenal to 1,500 warheads.

Russia has promised to cut its stockpile - estimated now at 6,000 warheads- to 3,000 to 3,500 under the START-II arms reduction treaty with the UnitedStates. A planned START-III originally envisaged both sides cutting to2,000 to 2,500 warheads.

But Putin, arguing that Russia cannot afford upkeep on so many weapons,has suggested dropping that to 1,500. Kvashnin wanted even deeper cuts,to 1,400 warheads.

Russia's 1.2 millionong armed forces are broke and low on modernequipment and morale. The Russian Defense Ministry budget for 2000 is lessthan $5 billion - compared to about $268 billion in the United States.
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Russia to Cut Its Nuclear Stockpile, Putin Decides to Shift FundsTo Rebuild Conventional Forces
        Daniel Williams
        Washington Post
        August 13, 2000

MOSCOW, Aug. 12—Russia will unilaterally reduce its nuclear arsenaland shift scarce financial resources to rebuild its conventional forces,President Vladimir Putin decided at a pivotal defense policy meeting onFriday, Russian media reported today.

Details emerging from the four-hour meeting suggest that Putin sidedwith the chief of the general staff and against the defense minister inthe bitter dispute among the military brass.

"Great significance was attached to the development of conventionalforces," the Interfax news agency said. "A decision was made on the redistributionof financial flows" away from nuclear arms.

Putin decided to let the number of Russia's nuclear warheads shrinkto 1,500, less than half the 3,500 permitted under the START II arms reductiontreaty, which Russia ratified this year, Russian media reported. Russiawants the United States to agree to reduce its arsenal to 1,500 warheadsunder a proposed START III treaty.

The size of Russia's nuclear arsenal has been inexorably shrinking becauseof obsolescence and the lack of money to build new missiles, airplanesand submarines to carry nuclear warheads. The speed of the Russian strategicforces' decline in the years ahead has been a subject of debate; by someestimates Russia will inevitably fall below 1,000 warheads without a majorbuildup, depending in part on how quickly the military retires missilesthat have reached the end of their official service life.

The chief of the general staff, Gen. Anatoly Kvashnin, has lobbied fordeep cuts in strategic nuclear weaponry, with the financial savings togo to conventional land, air and sea forces. Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev,a former commander of nuclear missile troops, has strongly opposed theidea, which he recently called "insane."

Sergeyev has also insisted that the strategic rocket forces remain aseparate branch of the military. However, he appears to have suffered asetback on this point. As the number of land-based missiles declines overthe next five years, the status of the elite strategic rocket forces asa separate branch will be "reconsidered" and parts of the force will fallunder air force command within two years, Interfax said.

The decisions made Friday are part of Putin's efforts to fashion a 15-yearplan for armed forces development. On the one hand, Russia wants to maintaina strategic nuclear arsenal, a keystone in the country's claim to superpowerstatus.

On the other hand, Russia has fought three land wars in the past 20years, including the present conflict in Chechnya, in which deficienciesin its conventional forces were exposed, including inadequately maintainedequipment, ill-trained troops and poor coordination. Kvashnin has arguedthat over-reliance on nuclear weapons has sapped the conventional forces'strength.

Putin hinted Friday that he had taken Kvashnin's side when he warnedagainst "unrestrained stockpiling of weapons" and said that Russia mustbuild an armed force it can afford. "All our steps must be . . . calculatedand economically justified," said Putin, who authorized an $80 millionincrease in this year's $4.5 billion defense budget.

However, Kvashnin did not get everything he wanted. He had asked forthe nuclear arsenal to be cut to 1,400 warheads, 100 less than the numberapproved, the Kommersant Daily newspaper said. Sergeyev also convincedPutin that the service life of some older missiles can be extended, Kommersantsaid.

One remaining wild card may be the U.S. proposal for a missile defensesystem. If it goes ahead, Russia's nuclear arms faction will press fora nuclear buildup, Kommersant predicted. "This is the only thing that offersthe rocket people a chance for revenge," the newspaper said.

The Clinton administration has tried, so far without success, to persuadethe Russian government to amend the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treatyto allow construction of a limited national missile defense system capableof shooting down a few dozen missiles.

The United States has signaled that in return for Russian concessionson the ABM Treaty, it would consider slashing the number of U.S. strategicwarheads to 2,000 or fewer. But it is unclear whether Putin's decisionto shrink Russia's nuclear arsenal will be accompanied by a new willingnessto compromise on missile defense.
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Now Putin Brings His Generals To Heel In New Order Of Battle
        John Simpson
        The Electronic Telegraph(UK)
        August 13, 2000
        (for personal use only)

In his five months as Russian president, Vladimir Putin has methodicallyticked off each item on a list of institutions preventing him from gettinga firmer grip on the mess he inherited from Boris Yeltsin. He has shownthe regional barons that the days when they were placated and cossetedare over.

He has dealt, sometimes brutally, with the oligarchs controlling Russia'sbusiness and media. Now he has turned his attention to the army. This week- a difficult one for Mr Putin, with a major terrorist attack in the centreof Moscow - he has tried to put some order into the confused and wastefulbusiness of Russian military spending and strategic planning. And as aresult we can see something of the new Russia he is creating.

Russia has one and a quarter million men under arms, and a defence budgetof about £3 billion. More than £2 billion goes on buying newequipment for the country's nuclear forces, in an attempt to compete withthe United States. The trouble is American spending on defence is 60 timeshigher than Russia's, at £190 billion. Mr Putin has sided with thoseof his generals who believe that it is pointless trying to match the US,especially when Russia's real strategic problem is holding its post-imperialstructure together and stopping regions such as Chechnya from breakingaway.

So, last Friday, he summoned his National Security Council togetherto work out a new and more sensible approach to Russia's military strategy.He reminded them that it was the attempt to compete with American weapons-spendingduring the Cold War that caused the collapse of the old Soviet Union. Hepointed out how badly the Russian army had done in the first war in Chechnya,from 1994 to 1996, and gave his support to those in the Russian militarywho say that it is impossible to improve the country's conventional forceswhile the nuclear forces get almost three quarters of all new militaryprocurement spending.

The chief exponent of this line is Gen Anatoli Kvashnin, the chief ofstaff of the armed forces. By contrast Marshal Igor Sergeyev, the defenceminister who used to run Russia's nuclear defences, was predictably outragedat the idea that the nuclear forces should have their budget cut back drasticallyand be absorbed into the air force. But the marshal was brought up in theold school, and came out of the meeting mouthing the new orthodoxy. Thenew plan was, he said, well balanced and based on the economic potentialof the country. In other words, he voted for his pension.

Russia has about 3,500 land-based nuclear warheads, 3,500 air and sea-basednuclear bombs and warheads, and 750 intercontinental ballistic missiles.After this latest review, the land-based warheads could be cut to 1,500.As a result, Russia's approach to nuclear weapons will change. Until nowthey have been seen as the last defence against another nuclear power,to be used only in the final phases of some catastrophic confrontation.

But a recent Russian military exercise posited a Nato attack on theisolated Russian city of Kaliningrad. At the point where conventional Russianforces were about to be overwhelmed, the planners envisaged firing nuclearweapons - before Nato forces had threatened nuclear force.

Maybe it's just play-acting, like all the other exercises that the Russians,Nato and the Chinese habitually carry out. Maybe it was an attempt to influencethe debate in the Russian National Security Council about the relativeimportance of nuclear and conventional forces. But it does make clear thatPutin's Russia is in the process of putting an end to 10 years or so offeeble compliance with the West, and is looking for ways of re-establishingitself as an effective opposition to American power. Not in nuclear terms:Gen Kvashnin's winning argument within the National Security Council onFriday was that a nuclear war with the United States was impossible, sothere was no point in trying to maintain a strategic balance with it. Yetby cutting back on its nuclear arsenal, Russia will actually become morereliant on it, and might be tempted to use it more quickly in a war.

Above all, Mr Putin seems to be expecting greater trouble with the Westin future. We once thought Boris Yeltsin's feeble control over Russia mightcause problems, with rogue elements taking power into their own hands;but now that someone a lot tougher and more effective is in power we mightfind ourselves looking back on the roi fainéant days of Yeltsinwith a certain nostalgia.
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Russia, Short On Cash, To Cut Back On Air Defense
        Agence France Presse
        August 13, 2000
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW, Aug 13, 2000 -- (Agence France Presse) Russia is to scale downits air defense system because of a cash shortage, air force chief commanderGeneral Anatoli Kornukov said in an interview with private station NTVbroadcast Saturday.

"For reasons of economy we are going to drop the permanent alert ofour air-defense batteries. The alert level will be scaled down and theair force will assume complete responsibility."

Kornukov was interviewed late Friday after a meeting of the RussianSecurity Council, called to discuss a radical overhaul of the armed forces.

The long-awaited session, featuring all the key ministers and top brass,was to determine the fate of Russia's armed forces for the next 15 years.
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Putin To Shake-Up Russian Military
        August 12, 2000
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW -- Russian President Vladimir Putin held four hours of talkswith top officials on a shake-up of the country's armed forces and nucleararsenal Friday and was said to have made a "balanced decision" on theirfate.

Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev, who had been locked in dispute withthe head of the general staff over proposals for reform of the nuclearrocket forces, said he was satisfied with the meeting and that talks onmilitary reform were now over.

The officials said the proposals, on which they gave few details, wouldbe worked on and presented to the president for final signature over thenext few days.

"The discussions are over, a decision has been made by the commander-in-chief(Putin)," Sergeyev was quoted by Itar-Tass news agency as saying afterthe talks between Putin and his advisory Security Council.

"It is well balanced and based on the economic potential of the country,"Sergeyev added. He said there had never been such deep and complete talkson the fate of the military before.

In one of the few concrete statements, Sergeyev said launch vehicleswhich carry land-based nuclear missiles would not be phased out early butwork to the end of their expected life-span.

Putin had said at the start of the meeting he wanted to end any rowsover the reform plans, apparently referring to the dispute between Sergeyevand general staff chief General Anatoly Kvashnin. But it was not clearto what extent the ideas of either man had won over.

A Defense Ministry source told Reuters Thursday the Security Councilwas likely to urge Putin to cut land-based nuclear missiles and merge therest of the Strategic Rocket Forces responsible for them with the air force,on the U.S. model.

That would be part of a much larger restructuring of the armed forcesfrom 2001 and could involve cuts in troop numbers from 1.2 million to 900,000.

Kvashnin has favored deep cuts in the Strategic Rocket Forces and amerger with or even absorption into the air force as a way to divert cashto ground troops.

Sergeyev has argued against major missile cuts and for a merger of allthree nuclear wings under one command, but not the air force's. Russiahas four military branches -- land, sea, air and the Strategic Rocket Forces,which Sergeyev used to command.

Putin said at the start of the talks that the army was not working efficientlyand needed a development plan up to 2015.

"Are our armed forces, our whole military component, effective? Unfortunately,they are not," he said.

"The well-being of our citizens as well as the state's security dependson the right solution," Putin added.

The problems of Russia's armed forces have been highlighted severaltimes since the collapse of the former Soviet Union, the army sufferinga humiliating defeat in the 1994-96 Chechen war.

A new campaign is now being waged in the rebel region but Moscow's forceshave failed to restore full control over the area despite a campaign whichhas lasted almost a year.

Putin said defense spending was far from perfect, with pilots rarelyflying and sailors shore-bound for lack of funds.

But he said it would be wrong to build up a vast arsenal of weapons.That had been one reason for the collapse of the Soviet Union, he said,and many of those weapons were now in enemy hands, being used against Russiantroops in Chechnya.

"Therefore we have a most important task before us: to set out a developmentstrategy for the armed forces up to 2015, taking into account our needsand the state's ability," he said.

"We need to make sure that all our actions are absolutely balanced,weighed out and economically founded."

Russia's nuclear arsenal is huge but hard to fund.

Defense experts say Russia has about 750 intercontinental ballisticmissiles, most in silos or on mobile launchers. A few dozen are railway-based.All but 20 were deployed more than a decade ago before the Soviet Unioncollapsed.

There are about 3,500 land-based warheads. Submarine-launched and air-launchedcruise missiles or bombs bring the total number of warheads to about 6,000.

The overall number could be cut as low as 1,500, the Defense Ministrysource said. That would be in line with or even below Russian proposalsfor START-3 arms talks with the United States.
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B. Russian Nuclear Forces

Over 100 Trapped On Crippled Russian Nuclear Sub
        Patrick Lannin
        August 14, 2000
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's navy was frantically trying to rescue morethan 100 sailors trapped in a crippled nuclear-powered submarine on thebottom of the sea on Monday after its crew was forced to run it aground.

The navy said the submarine bore marks of a "big and serious collision"– possibly with a foreign submarine.

The navy's chief said he was pessimistic about the chances of a positiveoutcome to the incident in Arctic waters. He did not make clear whetherhe was referring to the fate of the crew or the submarine, which was commissionedjust five years ago.

Naval sources gave conflicting accounts of whether any of the crew haddied or been injured when the crew of the Kursk submarine turned off thevessel's reactor and let it drift to the bed of the Barents Sea in Russia'sArctic north on Sunday.

A navy spokesman had earlier said the cause of accident was an unspecifiedtechnical hitch and denied a report that water had flooded into the frontof the vessel.

The Defence Ministry of Norway, which also borders the Barents, saidthe submarine was in international waters north-east of Murmansk at a depthof around 150 metres (500 ft).

The independent AVN military news agency, which has good sources indefence circles, said it was told by the Northern Fleet the submarine waslisting some 60 degrees to the port side and was 85 miles (137 km) fromSeveromorsk, the fleet's base.

It also quoted rescue services as saying the submarine could be broughtup without special aids.

A first report of possible casualties came from Russia's Interfax newsagency, which quoted a source in the headquarters of the Northern Fleet,to which the Kursk belongs, as saying it was "not excluded" there werevictims.

However, Russia's RIA news agency quoted the Northern Fleet press officeas saying the crew was not in danger and that the question of abandoningthe stricken vessel had not been raised.

The navy said it had rushed rescue vessels to the scene of the accident,amid fears the sailors' oxygen would run out.

Itar-Tass news agency quoted naval officials as saying 10 vessels wereat the site while Interfax quoted officials in the regional governmentof the northern port of Murmansk as saying a special rescue diving bellhad already been lowered to the stricken vessel.

Interfax said the bell was supplying the submarine with oxygen, fueland air for its ballast chambers.


The head of the navy, Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov, said the submarine,classed as Antyei in Russia and Oscar-2 by NATO, looked as though it hadsuffered from some kind of collision.

"The situation is difficult," Tass quoted Kuroyedov as saying. "Thechances for a positive outcome are not very high," he added without furtherclarification.

The accident happened when the Kursk was on major training exercisesin the Barents Sea, which lies mostly in the Arctic Circle north of EuropeanRussia, on Sunday. It was not reported until early on Monday.

"A spokesman for the navy's general staff said that one of the possibilitieswas that the accident had been caused by collision with a foreign submarine,"Tass reported.

"A source in the Northern Fleet command said he believed this was thekey version. He did not rule out that the foreign submarine was also damagedand was now not far from the Kursk."

It was not clear how many men were on board. Interfax, said the Kurskwas carrying 107 people, including 52 officers. Tass said such a submarinecould carry up to 130 men.

The navy denied a report by Russia's independent NTV television stationthe cause of the accident was flooding of the torpedo tubes and the frontsection of the submarine. NTV said a power shutdown might lead to problemswith oxygen supplies.


Navy press office head Igor Dygalo said the submarine, which can carrynuclear weapons, had none on board. Its nuclear reactor had been shut downand there were no radiation leaks.

However, Norway, which has long feared radioactive pollution from Russia,its eastern neighbour, called a meeting of a crisis team for radioactiveaccidents to decide whether to take action. They decided to keep testingfor any atomic leaks.

The Norwegian environmental group Bellona said on its web site ( rescue efforts could be hampered by the power shutdown.

It quoted former Russian naval officer Alexander Nikitin, who was recentlycleared by a court of spying, as saying if the submarine was at a depthof more than 100 metres it would be difficult to use the Kursk's ballasttanks to refloat it.

The Kursk is one of the most modern submarines in Russia but Nikitinwas quoted as saying that the Oscar-2 class did not have rescue capsulesto take the crew to the surface and deep-going rescue submarines wouldhave to be used.

The latest edition of the Military Balance, a guide to the world's armedforces produced by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, saidthe Oscar class can carry 24 Shipwreck underwater-to-surface guided missilesand heavy water torpedoes.

The missiles can be loaded with conventional or nuclear warheads, itsaid.
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Russian Nuclear Submarine Trapped
        Barry Renfrew
        Associated Press
        August 14, 2000
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW (AP) — A Russian nuclear submarine with more than 100 crew memberswas trapped Monday on the ocean floor above the Arctic Circle, and chancesof a rescue were not good, Russia's navy chief said.

Russian navy commander Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov said the submarineKursk had apparently been involved in a major collision and sustained seriousdamage. A Norwegian report said the vessel was sitting 480 feet below thesurface of the Barents Sea.

``Despite all the efforts being taken, the probability of a successfuloutcome from the situation with the Kursk is not very high,'' Kuroyedovwas quoted as saying by the ITAR-Tass news agency.

Navy officials confirmed Kuroyedov made the remarks.

It was the first major crisis involving a Russian nuclear submarinein more than a decade. In 1989, a nuclear submarine sank after catchingfire, killing 42 sailors.

The Kursk plunged to the floor of the Barents Sea on Sunday while takingpart in a major naval exercise off Russia's northern coast. Navy officialshad insisted throughout the day Monday that conditions on the submarinewere good and said nothing about a collision until the admiral's announcementthat hopes of rescuing the vessel were fading.

Navy officials declined to say Monday how far the vessel was beneaththe surface, but the Norwegian report said the Kursk was some 480 feetdown — a depth at which it would be very difficult to rescue anyone becauseof the enormous water pressure.

At the Pentagon, spokesman Rear Adm. Craig Quigley said the U.S. militaryhas not been asked to assist. Other military officials said that althoughthe U.S. Navy has submarine rescue vessels, their hatches are compatibleonly with U.S.-made submarines and could not be used in this case.

Kuroyedov said it appeared that the submarine suffered major damageafter colliding with another object, but he gave no further details. ``Thereare signs of a big and serious collision,'' he said.

Russian and Western submarines sometimes play cat-and-mouse games inthe area and have scraped each other in the past, according to reports.The Kursk was taking part in major naval exercises, which are closely monitoredby the U.S. and other Western warships.

Earlier, navy spokesman Igor Dygalo said the Oscar-class submarine wasnot carrying any nuclear weapons and there was no immediate danger of radiationleaks or an explosion. The vessel's two nuclear reactors had been shutdown, he said.

If the submarine was involved in a collision that ruptured its hull,there could be a chance of radioactive leaks. But Norwegian Foreign Ministryspokesman Karsten Klepsvik said there was no sign of a leak. Norway hasa scientific vessel in the region.

The Barents Sea is in arctic waters bordering the northwest coast ofRussia and the northern tip of Norway. Rescue ships were at the scene,trying to assist the stricken submarine.

Navy officials said earlier that they were in radio contact with thesubmarine, but it was not clear if that was still the case.

The Kursk was built in 1994 and went into service in 1995, making itone of the newest vessels in the Russian navy. It is a nuclear strategicsubmarine that can carry up to 24 nuclear surface-to-surface missiles,used mainly in combat with ships.

NTV television news, citing unnamed sources, reported earlier that watergushed through the Kursk's torpedo tubes during a firing exercise and floodedthe front of the vessel.

In an emergency, a submarine would surface if at all possible. But Dygalosaid the vessel was forced to descend to the ocean floor, indicating thatthe crew had lost control.

Vladimir Gundarov, a submarine specialist at Red Star, the officialdaily newspaper of the Russian military, said rescuing people from a submarineis very difficult and there is no set procedure. The Russian navy doesnot have advanced submarine rescue vessels, according to standard navalreference works.

``The situation is extremely negative,'' Gundarov said.

The crew may be able to use rescue capsules, but in a worst-case scenariowould have to try escape by swimming out through the torpedo tubes, Gundarovsaid.

``It is extremely risky, but they are all trained to do this,'' he said.

Russian nuclear submarines have been involved in a string of accidentsin recent decades.

In the last major accident involving one of Moscow's nuclear submarines,the Komsomolets managed to get to the surface after a major fire brokeout in April 1989, killing 42 of the 69 sailors aboard. The survivors jumpedinto the water before the submarine sank to the bottom of the NorwegianSea, and there have been small leaks from its atomic reactor and nuclear-armedtorpedoes in recent years.

The Russian military, including the navy, is in shambles, with no regularmaintenance of weapons and other equipment. Many warships do not receivethe regular servicing needed to keep them seaworthy, according to navyofficers and veterans.

The Izvestia newspaper reported recently that, according to the mostconservative estimate, 507 submarine crew members have died during the40-year history of Russian nuclear submarines.
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Russian Submarine Grounded on Barents Sea Bed
        August 14, 2000
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW (Aug. 14) XINHUA - A Russian nuclear submarine on a trainingmission has been grounded on the Barents seafloor after experiencing technicalproblems, but authorities said there were no nuclear weapons on board.

The multipurpose "Kursk" failed to respond to radio signals at a predeterminedtime but communications with crewmembers were re- established later, theInterfax news agency reported Monday, quoting the Russian Navy press service.

Rescue vessels have arrived on the scene to provide assistance to thestricken sub.

The submarine's atomic power plant has been taken off line and is undercontrol with radiation at normal levels, the press service said.

The Russian Northern Fleet started its routine exercises last Thursdayaimed at improving cooperation between the ships of the versatile aircraftcarrier group and other forces of the fleet, Russian media reported.

The exercises were designed to check practical skills in the controlof subordinate forces in their preparation for, deployment and conductof combat operations, arrangements for cooperative action of fleet forcesat sea, the Itar-Tass news agency reported earlier.

The war games, which involved 20 warships, submarines and auxiliaryvessels and 10 coast units, were scheduled to end on Sunday
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Bow of Crippled Nuclear Submarine Flooded
        August 14, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Russia's NTV television said on Monday the front section of a cripplednuclear-powered Russian submarine lying at the bottom of the Barents Seahad been flooded with water.

The television station's correspondent, reporting from the NorthernFleet's base of Severomorsk, said the crew of the Kursk had been forcedto ground the vessel on the sea bed after its torpedo tubes became inundatedand the front section flooded.

The reporter gave no source for his information. He also said a powershutdown on the vessel might lead to problems with supplies of oxygen onboard. The press office of the Russian navy could not be immediately contactedfor comment.

The navy said the Kursk, believed to have more than 100 men on board,had been grounded by its crew due to technical faults. A navy spokesmansaid the vessel, classed as Antyei by Russia and known as Oscar-2 to NATO,was not carrying nuclear weapons.

Its nuclear reactor had been shut down but radiation levels were normal,the spokesman said.
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Russian Navy Denies Stricken Sub Flooded
        August 14, 2000
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW, Aug 14, 2000 -- (Reuters) Russia's navy denied on Monday thata submarine lying crippled at the bottom of the Barents Sea with more than100 men on board had been immobilized due to water flooding into its frontsection.

The navy earlier said the crew of the Kursk submarine had run theirvessel aground on the bottom of the sea due to unspecified technical problems.

Independent NTV television said the vessel's torpedo tubes had beeninundated with water.

Asked if the report was true, a spokesman for the navy said: "No, wedo not confirm this information." Asked if this meant the report was nottrue, he said: "Yes."

The head of the navy press office, Igor Dygalo, was also quoted by Itar-Tassnews agency as denying that the tubes were flooded after an unsuccessfulattempt to fire torpedoes.

"An attempt by several mass media outlets to present their inventionsas official information on the reason of the accident clearly does nothelp the objective coverage of work to rescue it," Dygalo was quoted assaying.
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North Fleet Commander Leads Nuclear Submarine's Rescuing Operations
        August 14, 2000
        (for personal use only)

3 submarines and 5 military vessels of Russia's Northern Fleet are tryingto rescue a nuclear-powered submarine that is lying on the seabed in theicy waters of the Barents sea, following a malfunction, Russian commercialtelevision NTV reported today. 130 servicemen are on board.

Northern Fleet commander, Admiral's Vyacheslav Popov, oversees the rescuingoperations from one of the vessels.

Earlier today, Russian news agencies reported that nuclear-powered submarine"Kursk" suffered a malfunction during naval exercises. Russian Navy headspokesman, Igor Dygalo, said the submarine had lost connection with othervessels and was later found lying on the seabed.

The submarine has several dozens of missiles and torpedoes on board.However, Dygalo said earlier that the submarine did not have nuclear weaponson board.

The accident took place as sea water entered the submarine, followinga technical failure. The submarine cannot rise to surface independently.

Military experts say the accident is not expected to cause environmentaldamage.
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Stricken Russian Sub is Aircraft Carrier Buster
        August 14, 2000
        (for personal use only)

The Russian nuclear-powered Kursk submarine, crippled by a technicalfault and stuck on the bed of the Barents Sea on Monday, is an aircraftcarrier buster capable of launching up to 24 cruise missiles at a time.

The 949 series submarines, Oscar-2 by NATO classification, form thebackbone of Russia's anti-aircraft carrier force.

The submarines, which carry more than 100 crew on board, are designedto tail aircraft carriers, keeping them within their firing range to beable to destroy them if ordered.

To do so, each vessel usually carries 24 SS-N-19 Granit nuclear-capablesupersonic cruise missiles, nestled in rows outside its rigid hull.

Each of the missiles, called Shipwreck by NATO, weighs seven tonnesand has a firing range of more than 500 km (310 miles). They are launchedin salvos from one to 24 at a time.

Complementing the cruise missiles are 533 mm and 650 mm torpedoes, usedto finish off enemy vessels damaged by the missile strike or repel attackson the submarine itself. One Oscar-2 submarine is capable of sinking anaircraft carrier and several escorting warships.

The commander of the crippled Kursk is Gennady Lyachin, 45. He startedhis naval career with the North Sea fleet in 1978 on diesel-powered submarines.
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A Glance at Stranded Russian Nuclear Submarine
        Associated Press
        August 14, 2000
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW (AP) -- Some details on the Russian nuclear submarine Kursk whichwas trapped Monday on the floor of the Barents Sea after unspecified malfunctions.

Weight:               13,900 tons.
Length:                500 feet.
Engines:              Two nuclear reactors.
Speed:                28 knots dived, 15 knots surfaced.
Crew:                 107, including 48 officers.
Weapons:           Up to 24 Chelomey SS-N-19 missiles with nuclear or conventional warheads.Torpedoes or anti-submarine Novator missiles with conventional or nuclearwarheads.
Diving depth:        980 feet.
Launched:           May 1994, commissioned for service January 1995.
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Norway Calls Crisis Talks On Russian Submarine
        August 14, 2000
        (for personal use only)

OSLO, Norway, Aug 14, 2000 -- (Reuters) Norway called a meeting of acrisis team for radioactive accidents on Monday after a Russian nuclearsubmarine ran aground on the seabed off northern Russia, trapping morethan 100 sailors.

The Norwegian Defense Ministry said the submarine was on the seabedin international waters northeast of the Russian port of Murmansk, in watersabout 150 meters (500 feet) deep, after a technical fault at the weekend.

It said Russia, which shares an Arctic border with Norway west of Murmansk,had not asked Oslo for help. Measurements of air and water in northernNorway had shown no traces of radioactivity, it added.

Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority said the crisis commissionfor atomic accidents, which includes radiation specialists, military personneland health workers, would meet on Monday afternoon to decide if any actionwere needed.

"We have to see if this will have consequences for Norwegian areas,"Per Strand, acting director general of the authority, told Reuters. "Sofar we have no reason to believe it will. But we take this very seriously."

Norway has long feared radioactive pollution from its eastern neighbor.During the Cold War, the Soviet Union used the twin Arctic islands of NovayaZemlya as a nuclear-testing ground. The Russian Northern Fleet is basedin Murmansk.

In 1989, a Soviet nuclear submarine sank off North Norway, killing 42sailors. The Komsomolets submarine, including atomic torpedoes, is nowrusting on the seabed.

And the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster was first revealed outside theSoviet Union by a routine check of radioactivity in a Swedish nuclear plant.

The Defense Ministry said that Norway had not been formally informedof the latest accident or asked for help.

"Nothing implies that Russian rescue experts need assistance, but Norwegianauthorities will of course be positive if any request were made," it said.It said it had no reason to doubt Moscow's assurances that there were noatomic weapons aboard.

The Russian office of the Norwegian ecological group, Bellona, was quotedby the Russian news agency Interfax as saying it was concerned by the "atmosphereof secrecy" surrounding the submarine incident.

Interfax quoted Bellona as recalling that since the introduction ofnuclear submarines, Russia's Northern Fleet had suffered four major accidentsin which crewmembers died.
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C. Highly Enriched Uranium

News Briefing [HEU Purchase Agreement]
        Uranium Institute
        August 8, 2000
        (for personal use only)

[NB00.32-12] US: USEC's new SWU deal with Tenex did not receive approvalwhen the Enrichment Oversight Committee (EOC) met on 28 July but is 'stillunder active consideration', according to a 'government source'. The proposeddeal would enable USEC to buy up to 5.5 million SWU per year from downblendedRussian ex-military HEU, over the period 2002-2013, at a discount belowmarket prices. A commercial purchase by USEC of about 3 million SWU fromRussia over a three-year period at a 'substantial' discount, and this isseen as the most controversial aspect of the deal. This would require amendmentof the US-Russia antidumping suspension agreement and both the Departmentsof Energy and Commerce are reported to have recommended EOC to instructUSEC to find other solutions. (NuclearFuel, 7 August, p2; see also NewsBriefing 00.23-17)
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D. Cooperative Threat Reduction

Blackjacks and Bears: Ukraine Sends Bombers to Russia
        August 11, 2000
        (for personal use only)


Washington has threatened to halt aid for nuclear disarmament in Ukraine.The government of President Leonid Kuchma reportedly continues to shipnuclear capable bombers – including the supersonic Tu-160 Blackjack – toRussia, while accepting Washington’s money. The Clinton administrationwill find it hard to bring sufficient pressure to bear on Kiev.


The United States will stop financing Ukraine’s nuclear dismantlingif Kiev trades any more strategic bombers to Russia, Steven Pifer, theU.S. ambassador to Ukraine said on Aug. 7, according to the Interfax newsagency.

Ukraine, however, stands to make much more money by continuing to givethe bombers to Russia. Although Washington does intend to withhold thefunds, it will not likely do anything more. By calling Washington’s bluffand ignoring its warning, Ukraine may stress relations with its Westernsponsor. But Washington is unlikely to get its way.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine inherited thethird largest nuclear arsenal in the world. It included 25 Tu-95 Bear and19 Tu-160 Blackjack heavy bombers. The Bear is an aging intercontinentalbomber with a range of about 13,000 kilometers; the Blackjack is a supersonicmulti-mission bomber, similar to the U.S. B-1 bomber, capable of carryingcruise missiles, short-range guided missiles, as well as nuclear and conventionalgravity bombs. Under the 1991 Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, Ukraineis obligated to physically destroy 44 Soviet-era bombers by the first quarterof 2002.

Instead, Ukraine last year traded 11 bombers – eight Tu-160s and threeTu-95s – and almost 700 cruise missiles to Russia in exchange for $285million worth of debt forgiveness. Ukraine owes Russia for natural gasshipments. In July, Ukraine offered Russia another 10 bombers in exchangefor more debt relief; Russia has not yet formally responded. Pifer pointedout that Washington pays for the decommissioning of the aircraft, becausethey were built specifically to target the United States with nuclear weapons,reported Interfax.

Although the United States cannot prevent Ukraine from giving the planesto Russia, it can cease payments meant to cover the cost of the planes’destruction. The United States has promised approximately $500 millionfor the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program to be carried out in Ukraine.Of that, $13 million is allocated for heavy bomber elimination, and ofthat $6 million has already been spent.

But from the Ukrainian standpoint, working with Washington doesn’t makesense. Financially, forfeiting $7 million from the United States in orderto wipe out hundreds of millions of dollars worth of debt to Russia isa bargain. But is it politically affordable?

Ukraine is the third largest recipient of U.S. financial aid, behindIsrael and Egypt; U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has said thatUkraine is one of Washington’s top four international priorities. Sinceindependence in 1991, the United States has given the country almost $2billion. In March, Ukraine was promised $170 million for this year; whilein Kiev in June U.S. President Bill Clinton pledged another $80 millionfor the safe closure of Chernobyl.

In return, Ukraine – which is geographically strategic and challengedwith diplomatically juggling Washington and Moscow – has increased itsmilitary and political cooperation with the United States, often at therisk of Russian reprisal. It is a member of NATO’s Partnership for Peaceprogram, and this May the country promised to bring its military into linewith NATO standards by 2005, reported Agence France Presse.

Kiev and Washington have been, however, unreliable allies. Ukraine haswitnessed Washington’s hesitation to protect some of its other allies inthe region, such as Georgia and Azerbaijan. The Kuchma government willnot count on the United States to protect it from Russia, for example.

Ukraine will not bow to the tune of a mere $7 million. Unless the UnitedStates is willing to withdraw additional aid –not specifically tied tonuclear disarmament – Ukraine will likely keep right on calling Washington’sbluff – and shipping nuclear-capable bombers to Russia.
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E. Nuclear Waste

Murmansk: World's Biggest Nuclear Dustbin
        James Robbins
        August 14, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Russia has the world's largest stockpile of nuclear weapons.

However, it is the risk of an accident with ageing nuclear reactorsfrom obsolete Soviet submarines which is causing most concern.

A fifth of all the world's reactors and nuclear fuel is concentratedaround the Kola Peninsula, home to Russia's Northern Fleet of submarines.

Murmansk's 'radiation forecast'

An accident would threaten not only Russians, but also near neighboursNorway and Finland and it could affect much of Europe. Radio Murmansk announcesthe day's weather and radiation forecast. Electronic bulletin boards allowthe local people to do checks on the latest radiation levels as they travelin to work.

But the people of Murmansk do not give the danger a second thought.

The Russian port of Murmansk, the biggest city in the Arctic, is theworld's biggest nuclear dustbin.

The people are a hardy people who kept Hitler at bay and survived communism.

They are largely indifferent to the continuing menace of nuclear accidentand catastrophe which the 20th century leaves behind. The wild coastlinearound Murmansk is littered with rotting Soviet submarines.

Some of the conventional submarines laid up along this coast are harmless.However, up to 100 of these machines are nuclear powered.

They are massive relics of the cold war which still have their reactorsand nuclear fuel on board.

This ageing process means that the risk of corrosion and leakage isconstant and fire is an even greater hazard.

In a cashapped world, the Russian navy is reduced to shuffling thedecaying hulls from mooring to mooring.

Funding crisis

Their country simply does not have the money to remove and reprocessthe radioactive fuel which threatens a vast area of northern Europe. Tofind Russia's most alarming nuclear scrap heap, you must go to Atomflotat Murmansk where even the fleet of icebreakers is nuclear-powered.

One ship is still called "Soviet Union” and in its shadow is a 60 year-oldship, the Lepse which is used to store spent nuclear fuel.

Inside the Lepse, there are 642 bundles of fuel rods, two-thirds ofwhich are apparently damaged and still hot.

It is not so much that the Lepse is an obvious, immediate, present danger.At this relatively short distance from the ship my Geiger counter is measuringradiation levels not far above ordinary background levels. What appalsinternational nuclear scientists is the fact that the Russians have crammedso many nuclear fuel rods into this one vessel. When they could not getmore rods in, they simply hammered them into the superstructure causingit to buckle.

The potential for disaster here is enormous.

Scientists horrified

Where I did find alarming radiation hot spots was in the plant processingliquid nuclear waste. I took a tour which international scientists, mostof whom were horrified, have also made.

Because of this eye-opener, foreign governments started providing moneyto speed up the work as well as to try and make nuclear processing safer.

Yevgeny Adamov is Russia's Minister for Atomic Energy and plays downthe risks of an accident.

"I have never asked anyone for help," he says.

"I know that we can deal ourselves with all the problems up north."

"It will probably take a long time because at the moment the state ofRussia's economy does not allow us to allocate much of our resources forecology."

But Russia is far from open about the real dangers.

Naval hero Alexander Nikitin helped expose the threat which faces Europe.As his reward, Captain Nikitin, formerly of the Russian navy, was put ontrial for treason.

He was only cleared last December.

Captain Nikitin was a Soviet submarine commander and a Naval specialistin nuclear safety. He told me how he quit the navy in 1992, horrified bywhat he found.

"I have decided to talk about the submarines because it is a real danger,it is a real problem," he says.

"I wanted to draw attention to it so that it's dealt with. I didn'twant just to hear talking about it. It requires action." There is a littleaction, but it is painfully slow.

Near Murmansk, nuclear workers continue to load uranium fuel from anobsolete submarine for the train journey to a reprocessing plant. Stillthe workers cannot keep up with the increasing stockpile of nuclear wastein the Arctic. Rather than shrinking, the nuclear waste continues to grow.
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