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Nuclear News - 09/11/00
RANSAC Nuclear News, 11 September 2000


A.  Second Line of Defense (SLD)

    1. United States Dedicated to Countering Threat of Russian "LooseNukes," CNN (09/07/00)
B. Russian Military Forces
    1. Army Cuts Are Modest Start To Russian Military Reform,Agence France Presse (09/10/00)
    2. Russian Paper Says Numerical Downsizing Of Military UnlikelyTo Achieve Aim, BBC Monitoring (09/08/00)
C. Nuclear Power Industry
    1. Power Grid Failure Shuts Russian Nuclear Plants, PeterGraff, Reuters (09/11/00)
    2. Ural Regions Blackout Stops Nuclear, Metallurgical Plants,Itar Tass (09/11/00)
    3. Reactor Shut-Down At Beloyarsk, Bellona (09/10/00)
D. Nuclear Waste
    1. Navy Wants To Open Andreeva Bay - By Building A Fence,Bellona (09/11/00)



A. Second Line of Defense (SLD)

1.
United States Dedicated to Countering Threat of Russian "Loose Nukes"
        CNN
        September 7, 2000
        (for personal use only)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We turn now to U.S.-Russian ties.

Relations are gradually warming but officials on both sides are findingit difficult to overcome decades of mutual suspicions. An example fromlast month: Russia's rejection of U.S. help in reaching a sunken nuclearsub. But there is one area in which both sides are finding it in theirbest interests to cooperate.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER (voice-over): If there's anything that symbolizes the Cold Waris over, this is it: American and Russian officials sharing secrets thissummer on how to stop smugglers from stealing nuclear building blocks outof the former Soviet Union.

DAVE MARTIN, ENERGY DEPARTMENT: Trafficking in nuclear material is athreat. And this is a way to defend against that threat and prevent itfrom happening.

ROSE GOTTEMOELLER, ENERGY DEPARTMENT: What has happened in the formerSoviet Union over the past decade is a lot of their basic military andcustom services have come apart at the seams, in many ways. They can handlea big military operation in Chechnya, but they can't handle keeping theborder posts manned.

BLITZER: Russian customs officials and U.S. nuclear workers test cutting-edgetechnology that detects radioactivity. This session took place at the PacificNorthwest National Lab in Washington state. And this cooperation has coined"mutually assured survival." The goal: to secure Russia's vast and forested36-thousand mile border, along with its thousands of crossing points.

GOTTEMOELLER: Once the Soviet Union broke apart, over 3,000 warheadswere spread around in countries outside of Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan,and Belarus.

BLITZER: To counter this danger of so-called "loose nukes," the U.S.has committed nearly five-billion dollars since 1991 for dismantling, consolidating,and securing nuclear weapons and labs around the former Soviet Union. Now,all of those warheads are in safe storage in Russia.

Contributing to the concern: Russia's poor economy that has left tens-of-thousandsof nuclear scientists and technicians struggling to make ends meet. U.S.officials say they're worried some might try to make quick money by smugglingnuclear materials out of the labs and out of the country.

GOTTEMOELLER: If it makes it through those borders and lands on ourterritory, it's a major military threat to the United States. We couldhave a very serious problem with nuclear materials turning up in some kindof even-crude device that could spread radiological damage all over territoryof the United States.

BLITZER: To counter the danger, the U.S. is investing a modest two-milliondollars a year to help Russia protects its borders. Some border-protectionaid also goes to other countries from the former Soviet Union. So far,the U.S. has provided radiation-detection equipment at Moscow's main internationalairport and at a major sea port on the Caspian Sea, the gateway to Iran,which the U.S. wants to prevent from developing the bomb.

Russian officials say they have only one-third of the equipment neededto do the job and insist they don't have the money to buy it themselves.U.S. money also goes into training. In Hanford, they tested Russian-builtrailway cargo sensors.

NIKOLAI KRAVCHENKO, RUSSIAN CUSTOMS (through translator): In Russia,as well as in most European countries, railroads are the main mode of transportationfor cargo. BLITZER: The gadgets, weapons in the war against nuclear flight,sound like they come out of science fiction: neutron and gamma detectorsthat sense the presence of nuclear radiation, no matter how deeply buriedinside cargo: so sensitive, some equipment can distinguish between Cokeand Diet Coke.

There have been no confirmed cases of weapons-grade nuclear materialsbeing smuggled out of the former Soviet Union since 1995. But U.S. Departmentof Energy officials say that doesn't mean some smugglers haven't just evadedbeing caught.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Administration officials say more money and resources are neededto combat the danger of loose nukes and insecure borders. And for thiskind of aid to Russia, there is rare consensus from both the Republicanand Democratic presidential candidates.
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B. Russian Military Forces

1.
Army Cuts Are Modest Start To Russian Military Reform
        Agence France Presse
        September 10, 2000
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW, Sept 10 (AFP) - A 30 percent cut in Russia's once proud militaryis only a first step towards  radical reforms needed to create theefficient new model army envisioned by President Vladimir Putin, expertssay.

Today, the 1.2 millionong Russian armed forces are a pale imitationof the once mighty Soviet Red Army which boasted four million men underarms in its Cold War heyday.

A decade of helter-skelter economic reform has seen the defence budgetshrivel leaving a legacy of poor equipment, poor training and plummetingliving standards which have sent morale to rock bottom.

Military experts say the limitations of the largely conscript armedforces, bloated by non-combat or paper divisions, has been highlightedby the failure to crush rebels in Chechnya despite a massive 11-month crackdown.

Russia's sharp decline was given tragic illustration last month duringthe Kursk nuclear submarine disaster, which cost 118 lives.

A humiliated Putin was force to accept international offers to mountan ultimately vain bid to save the men, an incident many experts believehardened the Kremlin chief's desire to embark on radical change.

"I think it's more than a coincidence," said Paul Beaver, spokesmanfor the British defence analysis group Jane's. "I think it (the Kursk disaster)has made a huge difference to them."

Under-threat Defence Minister Igor Sergeyev last week said Russia wouldaxe 350,000 from the ranks by 2003, the bulk coming from the land forcesfollowedby the navy, airforce and interior ministry.

In addition, the strategic missile force will be almost halved from22 divisions to 12 by 2006, and incorporated into the airforce.

"I think the penny has finally begun to drop that they need qualitynot quantity and that Russia is not under threat," said Beaver.

"Nobody is going to invade it ... Russia probably needs an army no greaterthan 450,000 soldiers, sailors and airmen," he said.

That should give the remaining 850,000 men a bigger share of the sevenbillion defence budget, but independent Russian analyst Pavel Felgenhauerremained sceptical.

"Cuts to the armed forces are not enough on their own. You can havea small army which is totally inefficient and incompetent, like in Congo.

"An army's professionalism does not depend on its force levels. It dependson efficient and reliable training and that doesn't exist in Russia," hesaid.

Political commentator Sergei Markov said Putin was the main drivingforce behind the reforms, whose main weakness was "that they have beendrawn up by Russian, one could even say Soviet, generals, which explainstheir defects."

These include failure to impose a civilian as defence minister (Sergeyevis a marshal) or tackle hazing. Of the 3,000 non-combat deaths each year,28 percent are suicides, say servicemen's support groups.

But while the current plans, drawn up by Chief of Staff General AnatolyKvashnin are seen as part of a drive to create a leaner, better-fundedconventional force, experts warn the job losses will not save money inthe short-term.

"The cost of cutting an infantry regiment is equal to one and a halftimes its annual maintenance cost," said Yury Gladkevich, an analyst withthe respected AVN military news agency.

Plans to raise funds by allowing the military to engage in commercialenterprises such as training brought various degrees of derision from analysts,who noted previous schemes had engendered monstrous corruption.

Nevertheless, Putin's reputation for seeing things through gives themilitary its best chance in a decade of effecting a root and branch overhaul,say analysts.

"I think it's a good first step towards a new Russian model army," saidBeaver. "But the proof of the pudding will be in the eating. We have tosee just how efficient they are."
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2.
Russian Paper Says Numerical Downsizing Of Military Unlikely ToAchieve Aim
        BBC Monitoring
        September 8, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Source: 'Segodnya', Moscow, in Russian 8 Sep 00

A Russian newspaper has cast doubt on whether a simple arithmeticaldownsizing of the armed forces will generate significant savings. Accordingto 'Segodnya', no amount of downsizing will help unless Russia stops producingarms for general mobilization and training for combat operations aftera nuclear strike, abandons strategic air defence, disbands the InternalTroops and transfers the Federal Agency for Government Communications andInformation (FAPSI) and the Railway Troops either to the Defence Ministryor to civilian funding. The following is the text of a report publishedin the newspaper on 8th September

Information about military reform is usually circulated in our countryby means of rumours and "leaks". Yesterday the Military News Agency followedby Interfax reported, citing their Defence Ministry "representatives",that it is planned to downsize the army alone by 400,000 by 2003 (from1.2 million to 800,000). This includes the Ground Forces (180,000); thenavy (over 50,000); and the air force (around 40,000), while the DefenceMinistry central apparatus, the logistics services and the military medicswill also shed "live flesh".

But they will retain their status, which cannot be said about the StrategicMissile Troops [SMT]. Since sources claim that the reform is followingChief of the General Staff Anatoliy Kvashnin's plan (the worst-case scenariofor [Defence Minister] Marshal [Igor] Sergeyev's supporters), the SMT willnot only lose the Military Space Forces and the Missile and Space DefenceTroops, but will also be considerably transformed themselves - from a branchof service into a combat arm and in 2005 the SMT as a whole will becomepart of the air force. Only 12 of the current 22 missile divisions willbe left, which does, however, fully accord with the START-2 treaty.

Other troop formations are also falling prey to the reformers' knife.It is planned to downsize the Internal Troops by over 20,00 men, the BorderTroops by 5,000, the Railway Troops by 10,000, and everyone else by 22,000.Only Sergey Shoygu, the emergencies minister, will not lose a single unitof his 25,000 troops, which is quite permissible for the chief "bear" [referenceto Shoygu's position as head of the Unity party, whose acronym in Russianis Medved, meaning bear].

'Segodnya' tried to find out how far the agency reports can be trusted.It is strange that authorship of the reform is ascribed to the chief ofthe General Staff (he is not authorized to decide the fate of all the powerdepartments) - this smacks of an attempt to turn the "military masses atlarge" against Kvashnin, who is seeking to become defence minister. Alsodubious is the source itself, who has allegedly seen the directive thathad already been signed by the chief of the General Staff but failed toremember any of the pertinent details. It is also clear that this kindof "information leak" is not possible in principle without authorizationfrom a military boss with a very real interest.

The State Duma's Budget [and Taxes] Committee, which your `Segodnya'correspondent asked to comment, has already estimated that, even with areally militarized (R206bn) state budget, there is still not enough moneyfor the procurement of modern military hardware. Nevertheless, the ideaof radically downsizing the army has aroused interest. However, peopleare in no hurry to take it seriously. A simple arithmetical downsizingwill in principle have no effect - it should not be people who are downsizedfirst but the military ambitions in leaders' heads. No downsizing willhelp unless we stop producing arms for general mobilization and maintainingstrategic arsenals with generals as their custodians. Training the armyfor combat operations after a nuclear strike is another great anachronism.Nor do we need strategic air defence - as the Americans are successfullytrying to persuade us. The Internal Troops' tasks could quite easily beperformed by army special troops. Evidently, having two intelligence services- the [General Staff's] Main Intelligence Directorate [GRU] and the ForeignIntelligence Service - is a loser, one would be enough. The Federal Agencyfor Government Communications and Information [FAPSI] and the Railway Troopscould quite well either become Defence Ministry structures or transferto civilian funding - rails can be laid and communications establishedwithout uniforms.
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C. Nuclear Power Industry

1.
Power Grid Failure Shuts Russian Nuclear Plants
        Peter Graff
        Reuters
        September 11, 2000
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A failure in its crumbling electric grid forced Russiato shut down several nuclear reactors over the weekend, including thoseat a gargantuan top-secret fuel reprocessing plant, officials said on Monday.

Officials assured the public there was no danger, but the head of thehuge, secret Mayak reprocessing plant, in the remote Ural mountains, saidonly his staff's "near-military" vigilance, had prevented serious trouble.

The incident follows a catastrophic accident on a nuclear submarinelast month that killed all 118 crew and a fire that gutted Moscow's televisiontower, and draws further attention to the dangerously decrepit state ofRussian infrastructure.

"Everything is fine," an employee in the press office of the AtomicEnergy Ministry said, adding that there was no danger.

Reactors at Mayak were shut down on Saturday after the power grid failurecut off the plant's outside electricity supply for 45 minutes, its directorVitaly Sadovnikov told Itar-Tass news agency. He said no dangerous materialshad been emitted.

Workers were restarting the first of the reactors on Monday. Reportsdid not say how many reactors had been affected in all.

A reactor at the Beloyarsk civilian nuclear power plant in nearby Sverdlovskprovince was also shut down, provincial power company Sverdlovenergo saidin a statement received by Reuters. It also reported no leaks of radiation.

Sverdlovenergo said the power cuts were probably caused by a short circuiton a high voltage line in its grid, but that an investigation was underway.

QUESTIONS ABOUT NUCLEAR SAFETY

The shutdowns, especially those at the Mayak plant, go to the heartof questions about nuclear safety in Russia.

Mayak -- in Ozyorsk, a closed town of 86,000 people surrounded by adouble wire fence -- is the biggest nuclear fuel reprocessing plant inthe world, handling radioactive material from all across Russia.

It was here that the plutonium for the first Soviet nuclear bomb wasproduced in 1949. The town's very existence was once a secret.

It is now also the site of a cavernous depot, being built with U.S.help, to keep 6,000 bombs' worth of plutonium and weapons-grade uraniumfrom falling into the wrong hands.

"We were saved from major trouble by the near-military discipline whichwe still retain at the plant," Sadovnikov told Tass. "The staff respondedwell, demonstrating the knowledge of their equipment and not permittingany harmful emissions."

The U.S. embassy said it could not immediately comment on whether Americanprojects at Mayak were affected.

Tass quoted the head of the Beloyarsk civilian power plant as sayingworkers were also attempting to restart their reactor.

"None of the station's employees can remember such sharp fluctuationsin the power and frequency of the charge in the Sverdlovenergo grid," OlegSarayev said.

"Thanks to the precise safety system of the nuclear power station andthe flawless discipline of its workers, the block was shut down accordingto procedure."

Two non-nuclear power plants in the region were shut down as well, Sverlovenergo'sstatement said.
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2.
Ural Regions Blackout Stops Nuclear, Metallurgical Plants
        Itar Tass
        September 11, 2000
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW, September 11 (Itar-Tass) - A breakdown at the electric powergrid in the Sverdlovsk region in the Urals left numerous enterprises inblackout causing a stoppage of nuclear, metallurgical and other plants.

The UES Russia monopoly has already created a commission to investigatethe network breakdown which occurred on Saturday and switched off the Krasnogorskthermoelectric plant, the Beloyarskaya nuclear power plant, the Mayak chemicalenterprise, several metallurgical plants and triggered a loss of powerat the Riftinski thermal plant.

Deputy chairman of the UES Anatoly Kopsov will head the commission,the Sverdlovenergo press-service told Prime-TASS on Monday.

The Eastern section of the power grid in Sverdlovsk region and in thenorth of neighboring Chelyabinsk region failed to maintain normal electriccurrent.

Acting Director General of the Chelyabenergo electric utility VyacheslavSeredkin said electricity supplies were disrupted because of "rude violationsin the energy system of neighboring Sverdlovsk region".

The Mayak chemical enterprise near Chelyabinsk survived the emergencysituation and succeeded to avert "major mishaps" with its nuclear reactorsthanks to the professional personnel. No hazardous leaks were reported.

The collapse of the electric supply system left Mayak in blackout for45 minutes.

"The semi-military discipline at the enterprise saved us from majormishaps", Mayak Director General Vitaly Sadovnikov told ITAR-TASS on Mondayadding that the personnel had to resort to "extraordinary measures on thewhole enterprise".

"The personnel excellently coped with the task and displayed good knowledgeof the equipment, technologies and averted hazardous leaks", Sadovnikovsaid.

"Today we have begun to increase the yield of the first reactor. Economicdamage is worth millions of rubles", he added.
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3.
Reactor Shut-Down At Beloyarsk
        Bellona
        September 10, 2000
        (for personal use only)
 
The BN-600 fast breeder reactor at Beloyarsk nuclear power plant nearYekaterinbourg in Siberia was automatically shut down on Saturday afteran unexplained power surge, reports AP. Director of the plant, Oleg Sarayev,says no radiation leaks were reported and indicates that the reactor wouldbe switched back on line by Monday. The BN-600 reactor at Beloyarsk isRussia's only operating fast breeder reactor, but plans exist to completethe construction of another reactor, the BN-800, at Beloyarsk. Saturday'sincident is not the first one; on January 21 1987, the BN-600 suffereda serious accident. Due to an uncontrolled increase of temperature in thereactor core, a part of the fuel's cladding cracked. This led to dischargesof radioactive substances, estimated as high as 100,000 Ci. The accidentscored an impressing 4th level on the International Nuclear Events Scale(INES).
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D. Nuclear Waste

1.
Navy Wants To Open Andreeva Bay - By Building A Fence
        Bellona
        September 11, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Meeting in Murmansk last week, Northern fleet officials once again toldNorway that they want to open up for access to the main nuclear waste storagein Andreeva bay - but only after a huge fence is built around the site.The fence will prevent foreign experts to see the navy's bases and installationson the other side of the Litsa fjord. Norway, among with other Europeancountries, has allocated financial aid to secure the spent nuclear fueland other radioactive waste in Andreeva bay, but only if foreign expertsare allowed in to see for themselves how the money are spent. Norway'svice-foreign minister, Espen Barth Eide, said to the Norwegian daily Aftenpostenthat the Russian approach was strange and not the best way to allocatelimited resources. But Eide hopes that finally something could be donein the bay, which is located only 45 kilometres from the Norwegian boarder.Some 21.000 spent fuel elements from submarines and several thousand cubicmetres of radioactive waste are stored in Andreeva bay in an unbelievablebad condition. The levels of radioactive contamination in the sedimentsoutside the Andreeva bay have increased in the latest years.
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