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Nuclear News - 08/31/00
RANSAC Nuclear News, 31 August 2000


A.  Nuclear Cities Initiative (NCI)

    1. Russians Allow U.S. Energy Chief To Visit Nuclear Facility,RFE/RL (08/31/00)
    2. Energy Secretary Visits Russia, Judith Ingram, AssociatedPress (08/31/00)
    3. U.S. and Russia Open a Nuclear Swords-to-Plowshares Project,Michael Wines, New York Times (08/31/00)
    4. U.S. Official Visits Once-Closed Russian Nuclear Plant,Reuters (08/31/00)
    5. Swords to Plowshares: Secretary Richardson Commissions Openingof 500,000 Square Feet for Commercial Development at Russian Weapons Plant,Department of Energy (08/30/00)
B. Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR)
    1. Indiana's Lugar Nominated for Nobel Prize, Kara Salge,Indiana Daily Student (08/29/00)
    2. Lugar, Nunn Nominated for Nobel, Associated Press, (08/28/00)
C. Plutonium Disposition
    1. News Brief [Plutonium Disposition], Uranium Institute(08/29/00)
D. Multilateral Threat Reduction
    1. BNFL Offer To Clean-Up Ex-Soviet Nuclear Plants, RachelDonnelly, Irish Times (08/30/00)
    2. UK Gives Former Soviet States £80m To Spend On NuclearSafety, The Guardian (UK), (08/28/00)
    3. UK Offers £80m To Clean Up Russian Nuclear Waste,Colin Brown and Geoffrey Lean, The Independent (08/27/00)
E.  Russian Nuclear Forces
    1. Nukes Reliable Instrument of Ensuring Global Stability,Itar Tass (08/29/00)
F. Kazakhstan
    1. Kazakhstan to Close Nuclear Power Plant Next Year, Reuters(08/31/00)
    2. U.S. Secretary Richardson Highlights Strong U.S.-KazakhstanEconomic Relationship Expands Energy Cooperation; Announces Non-ProliferationProgress, Department of Energy (08/29/00)
G. Department of Energy (DOE)
    1. Foreign Scientist Ban at Labs To End, H. Josef Hebert,Associated Press (08/29/00)
H. Nuclear Waste
    1. Groups Seek National Vote on Waste Import, Galina Stolyarova,St. Petersburg Times (08/29/00)
I. Nuclear Power Industry
    1. News Brief [Russian - Indian Cooperation], Uranium Institute(08/29/00)
    2. News Brief [Uranium Mining], Uranium Institute (08/29/00)



A. Nuclear Cities Initiative (NCI)

1.
Russians Allow U.S. Energy Chief To Visit Nuclear Facility
        RFE/RL
        August 31, 2000
        (for personal use only)

U.S. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson on 30 August visited a formerlyclosed nuclear weapons design facility in Sarov, earlier calledArzamas-16,AP reported Richardson promised that the U.S. would provide $13 millionto help transform the facility into a civilian technology park. "Clearly,their welcoming me to this forbidden site is a positive development andan encouraging sign for U.S.-Russian relations," Richardson said.
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2.
Energy Secretary Visits Russia
        Judith Ingram
        Associated Press
        August 31, 2000
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW –– U.S. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson visited a flagship Russianmilitary conversion project and promised $13 million to accelerate thetransformation of a nuclear weapons production facility into a civiliantechnology park.

On the first day of a four-day tour of Russia, Richardson attended aceremony Wednesday inaugurating the Avangard Technopark on the premisesof a nuclear weapons design facility in Sarov, which was the closed cityof Arzamas-16 in Soviet times.

The park has carved out 10 acres from the nuclear complex in Sarov,one of 10 such cities that the U.S. Energy Department is helping to turnover to civilian enterprises. Ten buildings in Avangard's Weapons DesignFacility complex have been earmarked for civilian use.

"Clearly, their welcoming me to this forbidden site is a positive developmentand an encouraging sign for U.S.-Russian relations," Richardson said.

"Our non-proliferation programs are working and must continue, as itis in America's best interest to help Russia convert these massive ColdWar-era facilities into non-weapons work."

Richardson inaugurated a computer center in Sarov last October. A firmproducing kidney dialysis equipment, to be operated by Fresenius Medical,has moved into one of the other buildings. Richardson said that an automotiveparts manufacturing plant was to take over another.

Credit Suisse First Boston announced Wednesday that it would establisha banking software center in the Avangard facility. The center will employformer weapons scientists.

Conversion work has begun in three of Russia's 10 closed nuclear cities,and U.S. officials are hoping to accelerate it. Officials in Sarov, Russia'sequivalent of the Los Alamos nuclear laboratory in New Mexico, said Wednesdaythat the Avangard facility will no longer be assembling or disassemblingnuclear weapons by 2003.
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3.
U.S. and Russia Open a Nuclear Swords-to-Plowshares Project
        Michael Wines
        New York Times
        August 31, 2000
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW -- American and Russian officials dedicated a 10-acre industrialpark on Wednesday at what was until recently a nuclear-weapons factoryeast of Moscow. It was the second step in a joint project that Americanexperts hope will provide jobs for up to 4,000 Russian weapons scientistsand workers.

Energy Secretary Bill Richardson attended the ceremony, in the once-closednuclear city of Sarov, several hundred miles east of Moscow. The stop waspart of a weeklong sweep through Russia and other former Soviet statesin which Richardson is promoting programs to curb the spread of nuclearmaterials and technology.

The United States will contribute $4.5 million next year to help preparebuildings at the Sarov site for private businesses, and hopes to spend$8.5 million more on other programs there in 2001, U.S. officials saidon Wednesday. Richardson said the first tenant at the new Sarov Technoparkat Avangard, as the site is called, would be a German-American ventureto make kidney-dialysis machines and supplies.

A Michigan company also is studying prospects for manufacturing autoparts in the park, he said.

Richardson toured the remaining operating section of the top-secretAvangard weapons plant, which is now devoted to dismantling nuclear arms.In an interview, he said his tour, the first by an U.S. official, was evidencethat "despite American-Russian relations suffering a few glitches, in thearea of transparency of nuclear weapons there has been quite a bit of progress."

Military cooperation between Russia and the United States has cooledconsiderably since NATO's air war against one of the Kremlin's closestEuropean allies, Yugoslavia, last spring.

"This is a breakthrough in securing Russian nuclear materials and persuadingRussian scientists to stay home and not sell their expertise to rogue states,"Richardson said.

About 3,500 people worked at the Avangard plant. The kidney-dialysisventure should employ about 200, and 100 more work at a second Russian-Americanproject, a computing center at which scientists and programmers turn theirexpertise to commercial ventures.

Officials said that Credit Suisse First Boston has awarded a contractto the center to develop electronic-banking and e-commerce software. MotorolaCorp. also is considering employing the computing center for software projects,officials said.

The computing center already conducts research for the petroleum industryand in high-energy physics, among other programs.

The Energy Department's Nuclear Cities Initiative has targeted Sarovand nine other weapons centers for programs to retrain employees for commercialwork, primarily to prevent rogue states from buying Russian nuclear expertise.

The 3-year-old conversion program is under way so far in only two cities.But U.S. officials said on Wednesday that the effort at Sarov has succeededwell enough to allow Russian officials to move up by two years, to 2003from 2005, the timetable for closing the entire weapons plant, the oldestof four that manufactured nuclear bombs for the Soviet Union.
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4.
U.S. Official Visits Once-Closed Russian Nuclear Plant
        Reuters
        August 31, 2000
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW, Aug 31, 2000 -- (Reuters) U.S. Energy Secretary Bill Richardsonhailed cooperation with Russia on Wednesday after visiting a once-closednuclear arms plant to see an arms conversion program at work.

Richardson told Reuters he had visited part of the Avangard nuclearweapons plant in the closed town of Sarov. A part of the plant has beenseparated and will be turned into a factory to make kidney dialysis equipment.

"The significance is that it is an important milestone because I amthe first American high official to get into any Russian nuclear weaponsplant," he said.

This showed that even after a period of difficult relations, Russiaand the United States were still cooperating, he said.

Russian-U.S. ties were hurt by NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia during theKosovo crisis, although they have recently been on the mend.

Richardson said the project at the Avangard plant was part of a U.S.-Russianscheme called Nuclear Cities, aimed at transferring workers from the weaponssector into industries for civilian use.

"Our objective is to cover over 10 Russian nuclear cities and we havenow been involved in two," Richardson said.

The U.S. Department of Energy said in a statement it would spend USD7 million funding the Sarov plant project in fiscal year 2001 if it wonCongressional approval.

Contacted by telephone, the department could not immediately say howmuch had already been spent on the project.
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5.
Swords to Plowshares: Secretary Richardson Commissions Opening of500,000 Square Feet for Commercial Development at Russian Weapons Plant
        Department of Energy
        August 30, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson, together with Russian Ministerof Atomic Energy Yevgeny Adamov, toured the new Sarov Technopark, openingten acres and approximately ten buildings for commercial development. Thesebuildings were formally part of the Avangard weapons production facility.

"The new Sarov Technopark at Avangard is a successful example of howRussian nuclear weapons scientists and plants of the Cold War-era can joinprivate industry in the 21st century," said Secretary Richardson. "We areeager to continue our cooperative efforts and are planning to spend atleast $4.5 million on Technopark projects in 2001."

The first commercial enterprise at the Sarov Technopark at Avangardis a project led by Fresenius Medical Care, a German-American company,for production of kidney dialysis equipment. The project will bring 200new jobs to the area. A Michigan company, which manufactures automobileparts, is exploring opening a production facility at the park.

Secretary Richardson also toured the Sarov Open Computing Center thathe and Minister Adamov inaugurated last fall. The Open Computing Centerwas designed to create commercial job opportunities for former nuclearweapons scientists in the area of computer and software engineering. Projectsunderway include research contracts for the oil and gas industry, moleculardynamics, biomolecular modeling, and high energy physics. Currently, 100Russians are employed at the center, with more than 500 people expectedto be employed by 2005. Two other large-scale projects are being exploredby Motorola and Credit Suisse First Boston as potential contracts for thecenter. During the Secretary's visit, Credit Suisse First Boston announcedthe first contract, development of pilot software to facilitate electronicbanking and e-commerce, with the Open Computing Center.

The Open Computing Center and the Sarov Technopark at Avangard are partof the Energy Department's Nuclear Cities Initiative. This cooperativeprogram was launched by Secretary Richardson and Minister Adamov in September1998. The goal of the program is to create jobs for displaced nuclear weaponsworkers as Russia consolidates its nuclear weapons complex. Investmentin Russia's closed cities is a key goal of the Nuclear Cities Initiative.

With Congressional approval of the Energy Department's fiscal year 2001budget request, the department will direct at least $7 million of fundingto Sarov next year. Investment in Sarov will be increased further throughother Energy Department programs, such as the Initiatives for ProliferationPrevention, and through significant contributions from private companies,such as Fresenius and Motorola.

Secretary Richardson will travel to Vladivostok, Russia, Thursday, tomeet with government and Navy officials. He will also attend a commissioningceremony marking the completion of security upgrades for nuclear materialsat two naval sites. The upgrades were designed by the U.S. Department ofEnergy. He visits Sakhalin Island on Saturday to tour an oil platform.
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B. Cooperative Threat Reduction

1.
Indiana's Lugar Nominated for Nobel Prize
        Kara Salge
        Indiana Daily Student
        August 29, 2000
        (for personal use only)

(U-WIRE) BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) and formerSen. Sam Nunn (D.-Ga.) have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize fortheir efforts to dismantle thousands of nuclear weapons in the former SovietUnion's arsenal.

The senators co-sponsored legislation in 1991 to dismantle nuclear stockpilesremaining after the Soviet Union's breakup, prompting nonproliferationachievements such as the destruction of more than 5,000 warheads previouslyaimed at the United States.

The Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program has helped Belarus,Kazakhstan and Ukraine acquire non-nuclear weapons status.

Also, because of the Nunn-Lugar initiative and related programs, thenumber of nuclear weapons extracted from the former superpower is higherthan China's, France's and the United Kingdom's current arsenals combined,said Clay Moltz, associate director of the Center for NonproliferationStudies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, in The NonproliferationReview last spring. The Center conducted a two-year study researching thedecrease in threats prompted by Nunn-Lugar and programs that followed it.

Moltz said because of the far-reaching effects of the legislation andbecause it is approaching its 10th anniversary, Lugar has "a reasonablygood chance this year in particular to receive the Nobel Prize."

Lugar's press secretary, Andy Fisher, said Lugar plans to remain committedto nonproliferation.

"His reaction has been that we're only partway done," he said. "In termsof nuclear warheads -- 5,000 are deactivated. There's still another fouror five thousand to go."

Nunn said he also views this issue as a top concern.

"The proliferation of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons is theworld's number-one security challenge," Nunn said in a statement Monday."I am hopeful that our nomination may shed additional light on this importantissue."

Nunn and Lugar met frequently with Russians as the breakup was occurringand saw the opportunity to do something about potential threats, includingthe possibility of weapons falling into terrorists' hands, Fisher said.

The program includes providing financial assistance to countries toremove weapons and sending American contractors overseas to complete thework, Fisher said. He said parts from the weapons are sold back to theUnited States to be made into products such as baseball bats and bicycleframes.

Moltz said this assistance has placed very little burden on taxpayers.Fisher said the yearly budget of about $400 million a year accounts fortwo-tenths of 1 percent of the military budget.

The winner will be announced after the vote in October, according tothe Nobel Foundation's Web site. The peace prize will be awarded Dec. 10in Oslo, Norway.

The Institute announced the nominations Sunday. William Potter, directorof the Institute's nonproliferation center; David Hamburg, president emeritusof the Carnegie Corporation of New York; and Rolf Ekeus, Swedish ambassadorto the United States and former executive chairman of the United NationsSpecial Commission on Iraq, collectively nominated the two senators.

Moltz said the accomplishments of this legislation have been instrumentalin minimizing the threats posed by the weapons supply left over from theSoviet Union's collapse.

"I think it's made probably the single largest contribution to promotingnuclear safety in the former Soviet Union," he said. "I think it's fairlyclear that we would be facing much worse nuclear threats in the formerSoviet Union without this program."
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2.
Lugar, Nunn Nominated for Nobel
        Associated Press
        August 28, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Sen. Richard Lugar and former Sen. Sam Nunn of Georgia were nominatedSunday for the 2000 Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to disarm thousandsof nuclear warheads.

Lugar, a four-term Republican from Indiana, and Nunn, a Democrat, sponsoredthe Nunn-Lugar Act in 1991 to reduce the threat of nuclear war posed bythe breakup of the Soviet Union.

The legislation led to the dismantling of about 5,000 nuclear warheadsin bombs and missiles, many aimed at U.S. cities.

“It was visionary. It is one of the most important and unsung accomplishmentsof modern times,” said Matt Bunn, a former nuclear policy adviser to PresidentClinton.

The Monterey Institute of International studies, a California graduateschool specializing in global studies and disarmament, announced the nominationSunday.

Those who made the nomination include William Potter, director of theinstitute’s Center for Nonproliferation Studies; Rolf Ekeus, Sweden’s ambassadorto the United States; David A. Hamburg, president emeritus of the CarnegieCorp. of New York; and Tsutomu Hata, the former prime minister of Japan.

The winner of the Peace Prize will be announced sometime before theaward ceremony in Oslo, Norway, on Dec. 10.

Under the Nunn-Lugar Act, the United States pays for the eliminationof stockpiles of nuclear weapons and weapons-production plants in nationsof the former Soviet Union.

Since the law was passed, Congress has spent about $3.17 billion, withabout 82 percent of the money going to U.S. firms contracted to destroythe weapons systems.
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C. Plutonium Disposition

1.
News Brief [Plutonium Disposition]
        Uranium Institute
        August 29, 2000
        (for personal use only)

[NB00.35-4] US: A final plan for the review of an expected applicationfor a mixed oxide (MOX) fuel fabrication plant has been published by theNuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The department of Energy has announcedplans to build a MOX fuel facility at its Savannah River site, througha contract with Duke Cogema Stone & Webster (DCS). The Standard ReviewPlan provides guidance to the NRC staff performing safety, safeguards andenvironmental reviews of the anticipated applications for both constructionand operation. The review plan is available on NRC's website (http://www.nrc.gov/NRC/NUREGS/SR1718/index.html).(NRC, 22 August; see also News Briefing 99.22-15)
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D. Multilateral Threat Reduction

1.
BNFL Offer To Clean-Up Ex-Soviet Nuclear Plants
        Rachel Donnelly
        Irish Times
        August 30, 2000
        (for personal use only)

BRITAIN: British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL), the owner and operator of theSellafield nuclear reprocessing plant in Cumbria, is emerging as the frontrunner to operate an £80 million British government aid package toimprove nuclear safety in former Soviet Union states.

The British Foreign Secretary, Mr Robin Cook, announced the three-yearplan earlier this week to tackle nuclear safety issues such as decommissioningnuclear weapons, improving the operational safety of nuclear plants andimproving nuclear safety cultures.

It is possible that some of the money will be used to improve safetyon nuclear submarines following the sinking of the Russian submarine Kurskin the Barents Sea earlier this month.

A decision on who will carry out the work has not been made but sourceshave indicated that BNFL is "the most obvious candidate" to win the contract.It is understood, however, that part of the reason for the British government'sdelay in announcing which company will work with the former Soviet Unionstates is due to concerns over BNFL's safety record at Sellafield.

Last month the UK's Health and Safety Executive said it would be prosecutingBNFL over its failure to improve safety management structures at the plant.

The Foreign Office yesterday confirmed that discussions would continueover the next few weeks to decide which company would operate the aid programme.It is not clear, however, whether only British nuclear companies are involvedin the discussions, or whether foreign companies have been approached.

It is also possible that the £80 million aid package will formpart of an international effort to improve nuclear safety in the formerSoviet Union states, where it is estimated that 1,350 tonnes of weapons-gradenuclear material, spread between more than 50 sites, has been stockpiled.

But the environmental group Greenpeace, which has called for the closureof the Sellafield plant, expressed concern that BNFL could be involvedin sustaining the production of nuclear material in the former Soviet states.Ms Bridget Woodman said the group had "reservations" about BNFL carryingout the safety programme, which she said should be operated "in the mostenvironmentally safe way possible, not in a cheap way and not in a politicallyconvenient way, and that they [BNFL] should not get engaged in prolongingthe life of any nuclear stations".

She added: "We have campaigned against reprocessing and the dischargesdumped into the Irish Sea by BNFL, but if it wants to operate in the futureit should move into waste management and decommissioning." BNFL refusedto speculate on whether it believed it would manage the aid package. Aspokeswoman told The Irish Times: "As this is UK government money it isnot for us to speculate on how the money should be spent."

BNFL pointed out that it had already established links with Russia toimprove nuclear safety since the break-up of the Soviet Union. BNFL personnelhave participated in studies to quantify discharges of radioactive liquidsfrom the Mayak nuclear facility near Ekaterinburg in Siberia into the nearbyLake Karachay. And in partnership with Tecnicatome of France, BNFL recentlywon a contract to improve understanding of how nuclear submarine reactorscan be dismantled safely at the Russian navy's submarine training facilityat Paldiski, Estonia.

BNFL is also developing guidelines for the management of radioactivewaste at the Leningrad nuclear power station.
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2.
UK Gives Former Soviet States £80m To Spend On Nuclear Safety
        The Guardian (UK)
        August 28, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Britain is to donate £80m to improve nuclear safety in the statesof the former Soviet Union, it was announced yesterday.  Some couldbe spent on nuclear submarines after the recent Kursk disaster, but theForeign Office said that most was expected to be spent decommissioningweapons. The move follows growing concern over former Soviet Union statesleft with large stocks of ageing nuclear weapons after the cold war.

The foreign secretary, Robin Cook, commented: "Nuclear hazards do notrecognise international boundaries.

"The countries of the former Soviet Union face enormous nuclear problemsthat affect the lives of all of us, and these problems need to be urgentlyaddressed by the whole international community."

"This new tranche of money will almost triple existing spending andwiden the scope of the support that we are able to give." Last year MrCook visited the Russian port of Murmansk, near where the Kursk sank, andannounced £5m help to clean up spent nuclear fuel and radioactivewaste from submarines.

The £80m will be spread across three years and is expected inpart to fund work to store spent nuclear fuel from submarines. It is estimatedthe former Soviet Union produced about 1,350 tonnes of weapons-grade nuclearmaterials, stored in more than 50 sites, of which 750 tonnes is in actualweapons. The £80m will also be used to help improve the safety ofnuclear plants, upgrade regulatory systems, and improve the local nuclearsafety culture.

A Foreign Office official said that a further £12m was being allocatedto deal with chemical and biological weapons.
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3.
UK Offers £80m To Clean Up Russian Nuclear Waste
        Colin Brown and GeoffreyLean
        The Independent
        August 27, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Britain is to allocate £80m to tackling potential nuclear disastersin the former Soviet Union in the wake of the Kursk submarine tragedy.

Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary, announced last year on a visit toMurmansk that £5m would go to helping deal with decommissioned nuclearsubs, but he has persuaded the Treasury to increase that to £80m.

Foreign Office officials are going to Russia in the next two weeks tosign the first contract for a UK specialist firm to oversee the recoveryof nuclear fuel from some of the 100 former Soviet nuclear submarines mostat risk of sinking at moorings in north-west Russian ports. "A team hasalready been out and got unprecedented access to the former Soviet navaldockyards," said a Foreign Office source. "We want to get this fuel outof the water as quickly as possible. There is an horrendous risk of nuclearpollution. It is an ecological and humanitarian disaster waiting to happen."

The Prime Minister, Tony Blair, is using the fund to underpin a closeworking relationship with the Russian President, Vladimir Putin. The fundwill be under the control of ministers across Whitehall, including Defence,the Foreign Office and the DTI, which will take the lead. It was producedin a review of spending chaired by John Battle, the junior Foreign Minister.And the former president of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, is tolead an international campaign to stop radioactive waste from scores ofdisused Russian nuclear submarines causing an environmental disaster.

He will lobby President Putin and foreign leaders to mount an emergencyprogramme to clean up waste from more than 200 reactors still in scrappedsubmarines or stored in rusting containers.

Mr Gorbachev will conduct the campaign through Green Cross International,an environmental organisation he founded shortly after leaving office.He has been shocked by the Kursk tragedy and believes President Putin hassuffered in the same way as he did during the Chernobyl reactor blowoutin 1986, when, he claims, officials kept unpleasant facts from the headof state.

Green Cross International estimates it will cost $2.2bn to make thesubmarines and their waste safe. So far, it says, just $100m has been committed,mainly from the United States and Japan.
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E. Russian Nuclear Forces

1.
Nukes Reliable Instrument of Ensuring Global Stability
        Itar Tass
        August 29, 2000
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW, August 29 (Itar-Tass) - Nuclear missile weapons are, indeed,a reliable instrument of ensuring global stability in the foreseeable future,claimed director of the Strategic Stability Institute and member of theRussian Academy of Sciences Viktor Mikhailov.

In the director's opinion, "we increasingly clearly see military-politicalfunctions of nuclear weapons of the great nuclear powers as non-combatbut 'political' weapons, as a means of reliable prevention of escalationof political tension into large-scale armed conflicts: the essence of theirexistence is only in non-application and only in prevention of a globalconflict under any circumstances".

"The Russian Federation now possesses unique personnels creating nuclearweapons, technologies and production facilities, which puts it abreastwith great powers of the present-day world," the academician noted.

"Of great importance will be development (in future) of a new generationof super-precise nuclear weapons of super-small yield and with a smallimpact on the enviroment. Russia should be a flagship of nuclear disarmamenttoday and tomorrow and an outpost of containment of those who are sabre-rattlingon our planet."

The article "20th century and Russian nuclear weapons" by Mikhailov,timed to coincide with the test of the first A-bomb in the Soviet Unionin August 1949, was printed by the latest issue of the Voenny Parad journal.
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F. Kazakhstan

1.
Kazakhstan to Close Nuclear Power Plant Next Year
        Reuters
        August 31, 2000
        (for personal use only)

ALMATY, Aug 31 (Reuters) - Kazakhstan will close its nuclear power plantat Mangyshlak in the west of the country next February, the Ministry ofEnergy, Industry and Trade said on Thursday.

"Work on closing the reactor began in December 1998 and will be completedin February 2001," a ministry statement said.

The United States will give $3.8 million for the closure. Washingtonis already helping Kazakhstan, which has given up its nuclear arsenal,to resolve non-proliferation issues and to protect nuclear installations.

Kazakhstan closed its Semipalatinsk nuclear weapons testing ground inJuly, bringing to an end nearly 40 years of nuclear testing at the site.

The Mangyshlak power station was built to provide power for a plantproducing drinking water from sea water for the city of Aktau on the Caspianand for a number of large industrial enterprises in the region.

The water plant will receive electricity from thermal power plants nowunder construction.
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2.
U.S. Secretary Richardson Highlights Strong U.S.-Kazakhstan EconomicRelationship Expands Energy Cooperation; Announces Non-Proliferation Progress
        Department of Energy
        August 29, 2000
        (for personal use only)

U.S. Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson concluded a two-day visit toKazakhstan today, that included meetings in Astana, Kazakhstan, with PresidentNazarbayev, Prime Minister Tokayev, Foreign Minister Idrisov and Ministerof Energy, Industry and Trade Shkolnik.

"The United States is committed to the economic development and stabilityof Central Asia. Kazakhstan has the opportunity to develop its resourcesto ensure prosperity and security for its people," said Secretary Richardson."Our companies are excited about investment opportunities here, and welook forward to broadening the economic ties between the two nations."

The Department of Energy announced plans to expand its energy cooperationwith Kazakhstan by:

  • conducting an oil spill emergency response conference,
  • establishing a cooperative oil-and gas-related training program for Kazakhstanand other countries in the region, and;
  • providing assistance with the U.S. Trade and Development Agency to expandthe port facilities at Aktau.
Secretary Richardson also announced that more than two-and-a half tonsof weapons-grade plutonium from the BN-350 breeder reactor in Aktau, Kazakhstan,have been secured.

"Together with Kazakhstan, we have now finished 85 percent of the job,safely packaging nearly 2,800 fuel assemblies, to help reduce the vulnerabilityof high-quality plutonium in the western region of the country," said SecretaryRichardson. "Had this unneeded reactor fuel not been secured it could haveposed a serious risk to U.S. and global security."

Since 1998, Energy Department specialists have been working at the reactorin Aktau to secure spent fuel assemblies, which both stabilizes the materialand reduces the attractiveness of the material to theft.

The United States and Kazakhstan expect to complete the project by February2001. They will then proceed with a project to address the longer-termstorage and disposition of the fuel. The material at Aktau is a major proliferationrisk -- it represents three tons of "ivory grade" plutonium contained inapproximately 300 metric tons of spent fuel.

The BN-350 is a fast breeder reactor located in a strategically importantposition on the Caspian Sea's eastern shore. Kazakhstan has requested U.S.assistance to secure spent fuel at the reactor and to ensure that it isshutdown in a safe manner. In December 1999, Secretary Richardson and MinisterShkolnik signed an agreement to facilitate U.S. support in efforts to decommissionthe BN-350 reactor. The U.S. will support efforts to plan for the safeshutdown of the reactor, and to decontaminate, drain and deactivate thereactor's sodium coolant. Thus far, $3.8 million is planned for this purpose.The decommissioning activity will eliminate a source of weapons-grade plutoniumproduction, while avoiding a possible environmental incident on the shoresof the Caspian Sea.

The Secretary also announced that the Energy Department's Initiativesfor Proliferation Prevention project will award up to $4 million to nineKazakhstani institutes to support research projects and create employmentopportunities for scientists with expertise in weapons of mass destructionand to reduce the risk of their migration to countries of proliferationconcern.

In addition, the U.S. and Kazakhstan agreed to extend an agreement tocontinue science and technology cooperation in the areas of basic, life,engineering, space and environmental sciences, and public health research.The original agreement was signed by Vice President Gore in 1994. PresidentNazarbayev and Secretary Richardson also witnessed the signing of an agreementbetween Chevron and the Kazakhstan national oil company, Kazakoil, to purchasean additional five percent of the Tengizchevroil oil consortium that operatesthe Tengiz oil field.
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G. Department of Energy

1.
Foreign Scientist Ban at Labs To End
        H. Josef Hebert
        Associated Press
        August 29, 2000
        (for personal use only)

WASHINGTON (AP) - Scientists from ``sensitive'' countries such as China,Russia and Iran are expected soon to resume normal ties with the EnergyDepartment's three nuclear weapons research labs, ending a 10-month banon virtually all such contact.

Concerned about safeguarding nuclear secrets, Congress last Novemberbarred scientists from 25 ``sensitive'' countries from visiting the labs,having contact with lab scientists or access to any computer systems atthe facilities, even unclassified ones.

While a small number of waivers to this policy have been allowed, themoratorium has severely disrupted normal contact - and research unrelatedto nuclear weapons - between the U.S. lab scientists and their foreigncounterparts.

The law said the moratorium could be lifted only after directors ofthe Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agencydetermined that the foreign visitors program had safeguards to preventthe loss of nuclear secrets.

FBI Director Louis Freeh and CIA Director George Tenet on Tuesday informedkey members of Congress they had concluded that the system meets thosesecurity needs.

``I am satisfied that the department has in place a system that, ifproperly followed and funded, will provide an acceptable safeguard forthe national security interests reposed in the national labs,'' wrote Freeh.

Tenant wrote that he also was ``satisfied'' with the security measuresas long as the Energy Department closely monitors the labs with periodicinspections of the visitors program.

Under the law, the labs may again resume their contacts with scientistsfrom the ``sensitive'' countries 45 days
after the FBI and CIA chiefs' certification.

The three national research labs subject to the foreign visitors' banwere Los Alamos and Sandia, both in New Mexico, and Lawrence Livermorein California.

An Energy Department spokesperson, Natalie Weimer, confirmed the lettershad been delivered Tuesday and said ``we fully anticipate the moratoriumwill be lifted in 45 days.''

Copies of the letters were provided by Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., whosaid the interaction of lab scientists with their counterparts in othercountries was essential if the labs are to keep their top-notch scientistsand attract others.

``This is a major step toward getting the laboratories back to a morenormal circumstance where scientists and engineers at the labs can be confidentthey can interact with their counterparts in other countries,'' said Bingaman.

The Los Alamos lab has been the focus of security and alleged espionagecontroversies for two years involving its top-secret nuclear weapons division.

First, one of its nuclear scientists, Wen Ho Lee, was fired and laterarrested because of allegations that he mishandled nuclear secrets, includingillegally copying computer tapes containing nuclear weapons codes. Lee,who is awaiting trial, has denied he ever provided secrets to anyone.

Then earlier this year, two computer hard drives, also containing nuclearweapons secrets, disappeared from a Los Alamos vault, the reappeared weekslater behind a copying machine not from where they went missing. The FBIis continuing its investigation of that security breach.

The security problems - and some lawmakers' concerns that nuclear secretsfrom Los Alamos may have ended up in China - prompted renewed scrutinyof the labs' foreign visitors program, although there has been no evidencelinking any foreign scientists with any security breach or espionage.
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H. Nuclear Waste

1.
Groups Seek National Vote on Waste Import
        Galina Stolyarova
        St. Petersburg Times
        August 29, 2000
        (for personal use only)

As the Nuclear Power Ministry prepares to amend the law so that Russiacan profit from the import of nuclear waste, 200 organizations are tryingto force the government to hold a referendum on the subject. To do so,the organizations - which include Greenpeace, the human rights group Citizens'Watch, the St. Petersburg Center for Gender Studies and the Associationof Environmental Journalists - are attempting to gather 2 million signaturesfrom people across the country. But some of those out canvassing - whohave another six weeks to complete the task - say that the indifferenceof the population is greater than they expected.

Russian environmental law bans the import of spent nuclear fuel fromabroad for storage or burial on Russian territory. It also forbids thedisposal of imported waste at sea, or firing it into space. But duringthe upcoming autumn session of the State Duma, the Nuclear Power MinisterYevgeny Adamov will try to amend the law so that the country can import,store and reprocess other countries' spent fuel as a revenue earner.

At the moment, the law does allow spent-fuel reprocessing on Russianterritory - which yields uranium and plutonium - but not the storage ofthe subsequent and highly radioactive waste product. Technically speaking,that waste has to be shipped back to its country of origin.

Ministry figures mention the possibility of importing 20,000 tons ofspent fuel over a 10-to-15-year period, using pre-payments to improve existingstorage facilities and build new ones. The Nuclear Power Ministry has saidthat the amendment would bring as much as $21 billion to Russia. Dr. ClaireMaden, head of information at the Uranium Institute in London, said thatcountries such as the United States and Sweden disposed entirely of theirnuclear waste without reprocessing it, on the grounds that the by-productsincreased the risk of weapons proliferation. "The space they have to storethe spent fuel is running out," she said, "and this is probably where theRussian plan comes in."

"If we could accept nuclear fuel from abroad, it would be very [financially]useful," said Valery Lebedev, deputy nuclear power minister, in an interviewearlier this month. During a conference on nuclear issues in St. Petersburgin June, Vladimir Klimov, the head of the Duma's Power, Industry and TransportCommittee, said that the scheme was the perfect solution to the Russiannuclear sector's financial problems. But Natalya Mironova, of the Chelyabinsk-basedgroup For Nuclear Safety, said that Russia needs to improve its own recordon handling nuclear materials before it can even think of dealing withthose of other countries.

Viktor Danilov-Danilyan, ex-head of the now-disbanded Russian StateEnvironment Committee, said in an interview last week that there is noorderly system of storing nuclear waste in Russia. "We don't have modernstorage facilities that meet even the most basic safety requirements,"he said.

In May, environmentalists were outraged at the abolishment by PresidentVla dimir Putin of the Environment Ministry.

"I think it is wrong that the role of the Environment Ministry has beentaken on by the Natural Resources Ministry. It is [the latter's] task totake advantage of our natural resources, and [their interests] often contradictthe protection of the environment," said Yury Vdovin, the head of Citizens'Watch.

"The country is already polluted enough," said Yulia, an economist,one of the petition's signatories who did not give her last name.

"We cannot deal with our own waste, and the environment worsens witheach year."

The petition's organizers also questioned the economic wisdom of theplan.

"In France, storage sites have to be repaired fairly often to preventleakages [of nuclear waste]," said Alexander Kar pov, of the St. PetersburgNatural Science Society. "To make storage safe, we would have to spendthe lion's portion of revenue raised on repairs to our sites."

Minor accidents and leaks are commonly reported at Russia's nuclearpower stations and dumping sites.

According to Karpov, Russian law states that 2 million signatures haveto be gathered before a referendum proposal can go to the Central ElectoralCommittee, via regional electoral committees in a minimum of 61 regions.The CEC would then rule on the legality of the signatures, before theoreticallysetting a date to hold the referendum.

Voters would also be asked to rule on whether Russia needs a separatestate body to monitor the environment - in other words, to re-establishthe old Environment Ministry.

According to college student Dmitry Bagamov, who volunteered to gathersignatures on Malaya Konyushennaya Ulitsa, most people signing are eitheryoungsters or pensioners, with most others uninterested.

"Frankly, I expected more people to care about the environment," hesaid. "I have been stunned by such an indifferent attitude. It was alsofrustrating to find out that so many people refuse to give their passportdetails, being afraid that we will try to swindle them somehow."

The petition's organizers said that had received only 7,000 signaturesin St. Petersburg so far.
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I. Nuclear Power Industry

1.
News Brief [Russian - Indian Cooperation]
        Uranium Institute
        August 29, 2000
        (for personal use only)

[NB00.35-7] India and Russia will speed up preparatory work to beginconstruction of the Kudankulam VVER-1000 nuclear power . However, theyhave decided to end the turnkey status of the project and make it an Indian-builtplant. Under the revised plans,  Russia would provide the design,equipment and capital services, including overall supervision on a technicalcooperation basis, while India would do the construction. Work on the project'sdesign is progressing on schedule and is expected to be completed by mid-2001.The final decision to build the plant will depend on an evaluation of itstechnical and economic viability. (Nucleonics Week, 17 August, p4; seealso News Briefing 96.43-4)
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2.
News Brief [Uranium Mining]
        Uranium Institute
        August 29, 2000
        (for personal use only)

[NB00.35-2] Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan and Russia will reportedly form ajoint venture to exploit the Zarechnoye uranium deposit in western Kazakhstan.The Kara Balta uranium refining plant in Kyrgystan is said to have reacheda related agreement on co-founding the joint venture. The Kara Balta facilityhas reportedly been refining up to 450 tU (530.7 tonnes U3O8) annuallysupplied from Kazakhstan. Uranium from the Zarechnoye deposit will be usedto supply Russian nuclear power stations and therefore the Russian supplierAtomredmedzoloto is expected to participate in the project. (Ux Weekly,28 August, p3)
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