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Nuclear News - 09/25/00
RANSAC Nuclear News, 21 September 2000


A.  Loose Nukes

    1. Hundreds of Missile Warheads Found in Scrap Metal in RussianFar East, Agence France Presse (09/22/00)
B. Plutonium Disposition
    1. Pu-flight from Russia to Canada Approved, Bellona (09/25/00)
C. Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU)
    1. Russia: 80 Tonnes Of Concentrated Uranium Turned Into NuclearFuel Since 1995, BBC Monitoring Service (09/23/00)
    2. NRC Review Will Result In No Action Against USEC, Nuke-Energy.com(09/18/00)
    3. Russians Believe USEC Is Subsidized by HEU Deal, Nuke-Energy.com(09/11/00)
D. Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR)
    1. A Partisan Panel Scatters Poppycock, Graham T. Allison,Los Angeles Times (09/25/00)
E. Department of Energy (DOE)
    1. Energy Department’s Rose Gottemoeller, Expert in Russian NonproliferationIssues, Joins the Carnegie Endowment, Carnegie Endowment for InternationalPeace (09/14/00)
F. U.S. - Russia General
    1. Gorbachev Touts U.S.-Russia Group, The Moscow Times (09/23/00)
    2. Gorbachev Launches U.S.-Russia Association to Boost PoliticalTies, Agence France Presse (09/23/00)
G. Nuclear Waste
    1. Greenpeace Action in Chelyabinsk, Thomas Nilsen, Bellona(09/22/00)



A. Loose Nukes

1.
Hundreds of Missile Warheads Found in Scrap Metal in Russian FarEast
        Agence France Presse
        September 22, 2000
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW, Sep 22, 2000 -- (Agence France Presse) Security service officialsfound some 240 missile warheads in a private company's scrap metal storagearea in Russia's Pacific port of Khabarovsk, the RIA-Novosti news agencyreported Thursday.

Law enforcement officers discovered several warheads in a truck transportingscrap metal for recycling, said a spokesman for the regional anti-organizedcrime department.

Searches in the company's other scrap metal storage units yielded fourmissile head parts, complete with antennae and wings, while a further 126warheads were discovered in another storage area.

Russia's military installations, cashapped since the fall of theSoviet Union, have often leaked ammunition and weapons to organized crimegroups in recent years.
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B. Plutonium Disposition

1.
Pu-flight from Russia to Canada Approved
        Bellona
        September 25, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Canada will allow fuel elements containing plutonium from Russia tofly into the country on its way to Chalk River nuclear research centre.The transport ministry approved the proposal by Atomic Energy of CanadaLtd. (AECL) last week. The origin of the plutonium is old Russian nuclearweapons, and the AECL want to test it for possible use in Canadian nuclearpower plants as MOX-fuel (mixture of plutonium and uranium). No detailswere given on the flight schedule. Environmentalists have protested theshipment from Russia. "The risk is that plutonium dust from a crash canget into people's lungs, and it is a known cancer-causing material," saidKristen Ostling of the Campaign for Nuclear Phase-out in an interview withOttawa Citizen.
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C. Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU)

1.
Russia: 80 Tonnes Of Concentrated Uranium Turned Into Nuclear FuelSince 1995
        BBC Monitoring Service
        September 23, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Text of report by Interfax news agency

Moscow, 22nd September: Since 1995, about 80 tonnes of concentrateduranium have been turned into fuel for atomic power plants in Russia, whichis equal to demolishing over 3,000 nuclear weapons, Russian Atomic EnergyMinister Yevgeniy Adamov announced at the 44th IAEA general conference.

In his report, placed on the Russian Foreign Ministry's internet sitetoday, Adamov advocated the development of nuclear energy based on advancedtechnology.

"The latest events on organic-fuel markets show that we are nearingthe moment when that source reaches a period of chronic deficit. Mankinghas to mobilize all its alternative energy resources, mainly nuclear fuel,"declared the minister. He supported this statement by saying that in Russiaalone the energy produced by atomic power plants saves about 40 billioncubic metres of natural gas a year.

The minister told the IAEA conference that Russia adopted in May 2000"a strategy for developing nuclear energy in the first half of the 21stcentury" at a rate three times higher than the other sources of electricenergy.

Under that strategy, he said, it is expected to close down some existingnuclear reactors with a total capacity up to 7 gigowatts by 2020, whilesimultaneously build up the capacity of working atomic power plants from20 to 50 gigowatts.
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2.
NRC Review Will Result In No Action Against USEC
        Nuke-Energy.com
        September 18, 2000
        (for personal use only)

USEC Inc.'s financial condition is deteriorating, according to a reviewconducted by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, but declining to recertifythe company as operator of the nation's only uranium enrichment capacitywould not accomplish the statutory objective of maintaining "a reliableand economical domestic source of enrichment services."

NRC initiated a financial review of USEC early this year after USEC'scorporate credit rating was downgraded to below investment grade. The downgradefollowed USEC's announcement of significantly lower financial projections,a reduction of its dividend, layoffs, and large stock buybacks.

Loss of investment grade rating also triggered a provision of USEC'sprivatization agreement with the U.S. Treasury Department that allowedto company to close one of its two gaseous diffusion plants before 2005,and USEC has announced the closure of the Portsmouth, Ohio, GDP in June2001. "USEC's financial situation was an important consideration in theinitial issuance of certificates of compliance and the subsequent re-certificationof the GDPs [in January 1999]," said NRC Chairman Richard Meserve in aSept. 11 letter transmitting the review to House Commerce Committee ChairmanTom Bliley (R-Va.). "In light of the longstanding agency practice to revisitan issue when a major basis for prior authorization appears to have changed,the NRC staff decided to re-examine USEC's financial status."

Findings Are Not Promising

The USEC financial review is reportedly dire. The company has cashflowthrough 2005 only through sales of fast-dwindling inventory. On the assumptionof only one GDP (Paducah, Ky.) operating, NRC found that USEC would beunable to generate profit from its own SWU production after 2003, whenits NRC certificate for Paducah is up for renewal. NRC also reported itunlikely that any alternative enrichment technology could be deployed before2009 and questioned whether it would be able to recertify USEC for an additionalfive years after 2003. The only way USEC could be profitable after 2003,the agency believes, would be as a broker of Russian or other materials,and then, only if it can negotiate lower prices from the Russians.

NRC staff had planned to make a determination on USEC's continued compliancewith its certificates based on the findings of the financial review. Staffreceived the final report of its contractor, ICF Consulting, in late August.In the same timeframe, however, the NRC Commission had asked its officeof general counsel (OGC) to prepare a legal analysis of the agency's optionsfor handling the USEC review, which was completed in mid-July.

OGC's analysis concluded that NRC, under the Atomic Energy Act, hada number of options, including doing nothing. And that is the alternativethe agency adopted. "[E]ven if the 'reliable and economical' assessmentwere construed more broadly so as to encompass the preservation of domesticenrichment services, the NRC is severely limited in the actions it cantake to address the matter," Meserve wrote. "In this context, an NRC actionto deny a routine re-certification application or to suspend or revokean existing certificate of compliance would itself undermine the preservationof domestic capacity as it would shut down a domestic supply altogetherand thus would not serve the postulated broader statutory purpose."

The NRC chairman concluded, "[W]e do not believe that any further NRCstudy of the USEC situation is justified, particularly in view of the factthat NRC is limited in the action it can take to address the maintenanceof domestic enrichment services."

Republican Rep. Edward Whitfield (Ky.) was quoted in the Kentucky media,saying, "If it becomes obvious that for whatever reason, USEC or some otherproducer cannot enrich uranium profitably as a private entity, then I thinkwe have to revisit the question of the government's taking back that responsibility."Whitfield, a member of the House Commerce Committee, also said that morehearings on that subject are assured for next year.

Timbers Fends Off Criticism

But USEC President and CEO Nick Timbers said during a Sept. 7 conference,"The fact is that privatization created a company that can now come fullyto grips with business realities, a company whose longer term fundamentalsare sure to be sounder than what would be generated by a less responsiveand less decisive government enterprise. And a company better suited todeliver sustained performance for both its investors and the country'snational security objectives embodied in the Megatons to Megawatts agreement."

Meanwhile, the prohibition in the USEC Privatization Act against anysingle entity owning more than 10 percent of USEC's stock expires in July2001. With USEC's stock price hovering at about $4.50 share, industry andfinancial analysts agree, it could be attractive for a takeover that wouldresult in, essentially, liquidation.
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3.
Russians Believe USEC Is Subsidized by HEU Deal
        Nuke-Energy.com
        September 11, 2000
        (for personal use only)

The value of the U.S.-Russian HEU deal to Russia continues to be erodedby U.S. trade restrictions and USEC's need for low-cost SWU to offset itsown high-cost production, according to Tenex's deputy director general,Alexei Grigoriev. Citing "current market realities," the Tenex officialimplied that the two governments might have to be called on to resolvethe situation.

Addressing the International Nuclear Material Policy Forum in suburbanWashington, D.C., Sept. 7, Grigoriev conceded "implementation of such alarge and unprecedented project, which closely interconnects politicaland economic aspects, was bound to have problems." But in 2000, he said,"proceeds from the HEU contract will be approximately one-fifth of thenon-tax income of the Russian federal budget," while market conditionsand U.S. trade restriction are cutting deeper and deeper.

As an example, Grigoriev explained, anti-dumping restrictions on thesales of the HEU feed component "became a destabilizing factor." The HEUfeed component was "quarantined from the American market" and could notbe sold in sufficient amounts. "Thus, the trade restriction created circumstancesunder which Russia could not count on immediate payment for the HEU feed.The total declared value of the HEU deal, amounting to (U.S.)$12 billion,was in fact reduced by a third."

Different Views of New Agreement

Both Tenex and USEC agree that the most urgent issue now is arrivingat a mutually acceptable pricing and delivery mechanism for the executionof the HEU contract after 2001, when the existing agreement ends. But thetwo sides describe the current status of negotiations, which began in thefall of 1999, differently.

USEC President Nick Timbers, who also addressed the conference, referredto an "agreement in principle" between USEC and Tenex. "The new agreement,"he said, "is a market-based pricing agreement," adding that it "was achievedin full consultation with the respective governments, and government approvalis pending."

Timbers said the U.S. government could approve the agreement-in-principle"this morning, next week, or at any time." He also denied that USEC hasany responsibility for the current poor market conditions, declaring, "Thecritics are wrong, and I want to use this opportunity to set the recordstraight." The USEC President and CEO said that "making USEC the whippingboy" doesn't change market conditions or improve U.S. enrichment technology.

National security interests and USEC business interests are interwoven,Timbers insisted. USEC needs the HEU agreement, but must be free to makecommercial decisions. He said USEC has maintained its commitments in theface of dramatic market changes that could not have been predicted.

Asked when the Russian government was expected to approve the agreementin principle, Grigoriev said, "I think the situation is not so simple,"because Tenex has had to return the feed component to Russia, which hassignificantly reduced revenue to Russia. "Before the Russian governmentmakes a decision, different ministries will have to approve the agreement."

When negotiations for a new contract between USEC and Tenex began lastfall, both sides "showed a willingness to reach a compromise…and to cometo a common conclusion that the new pricing mechanism should be based onmarket realities," Grigoriev explained.

"At present, specific characteristics of the new mechanism are underdiscussion. Our position on the issue is rather flexible. But acting inthe interests of Russia, Tenex cannot accept the HEU SWUs being used tosubsidize American enrichment production and to solve the problems of theU.S. executive agent."

Adamov Voiced Similar Concerns

Grigoriev's comments echoed those of Russian Minister of Atomic EnergyYevgeny Adamov before the U.S. Secretary of Energy Advisory Board (SEAB),which toured Russian nuclear facilities over the summer.

Addressing the SEAB July 24 in Moscow, Adamov said, "I have some concernsregarding the situation with the USEC company. Some time has passed sincethe USEC privatization, and we fear that the current status of the companycan complicate further implementation of the HEU-LEU agreement.

"On the one hand," the MINATOM chief continued, "we are worried thatthis economically inefficient company may be tempted to blame the agreementfor its own losses. We do not understand why the agreement in this particularcase should compensate USEC for its low
economic efficiency.

"On the other hand, USEC's activities seem to have a negative impacton the global uranium market, since it used the natural reserves, transferredto it by the U.S. government, without proper care to maintain stable pricesin the uranium market," according to a recently issued transcript of Adamav'scomments. "However, it is also true that the recent reduction of pricesis our fault, too, since our practice of uranium transaction has been drivenby price considerations. When I say 'our fault,' I mean all those who usedto be part of the nuclear complex of the Former Soviet Union."

Fundamental Problems Cited

Grigoriev cited other fundamental problems with execution of the HEUdeal. He explained the Russian view that the government-to-government agreementis carried out by the U.S. side as a "compromise between the primary goalof the HEU agreement to increase international security, on the one hand,and the protectionist forces in U.S. foreign trade policy, on the other…[underwhich] Russia is treated as a 'non-market economy.'"

The Tenex official also maintained that, in Russia's view, its governmentis bearing more of the cost burden of the HEU deal than the U.S. side.He suggested a basic problem lay with the "combination of the 'budget neutrality'concept of the HEU deal (meaning that the deal must finance itself exclusivelythrough market mechanisms) and the responsibility for the deal, assumedby our governments.

"According to the provisions of the HEU agreement, the expense burdenof the deal should be distributed between the United States and Russia.Unfortunately, under the current market realities, it becomes more andmore difficult to rely solely on market forces to maintain the smooth implementationof the deal."

Grigoriev emphasized that despite the absence of an agreement for peacefulnuclear cooperation between Russia and the United States, and despite U.S.trade law treating Russia "as a country with a 'non-market economy,' thefact is that Russia's nuclear industry works on market principles, acceptingmarket 'rules of the game' and also promoting the stabilization of theglobal nuclear fuel market."

Tenex, its deputy director general said, hopes that "discussions" withUSEC on a new contract will be successful. But he concluded that "shoulda mutually acceptable solution of a purely commercial nature not be founddue to currently unfavorable market conditions, it may be necessary toapply to the governments of our countries for assistance to resolve thismatter. Such assistance could manifest itself in a reasonable compromisebetween the concept of 'budget neutrality' of the deal and the responsibilityour countries bear for its results."
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D. Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR)

1.
A Partisan Panel Scatters Poppycock
        Graham T. Allison
        Los Angeles Times
        September 25, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Graham T. Allison, Director of the Belfer Center for Science and InternationalAffairs and Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, is a Foreign PolicyAdvisor to Democratic Presidential Candidate Al Gore

Twelve Republican House members, constituted as the Cox Commission onRussia, have issued a report on the Clinton administration's policy towardRussia that amounts to "sound and fury," in Shakespeare's fine phrase,"signifying nothing." Nothing except that, in the midst of a presidentialcampaign, a dozen Republican members of Congress dislike Clinton and AlGore and support Texas Gov. George W. Bush.

Almost a decade has passed since the Soviet Union disappeared. PresidentBush and then President Clinton sought to fashion U.S. policy toward anunprecedented transformation in the entire international system. The Clintonadministration's choices and actions regarding Russia should certainlybe examined and debated. But American stakes in our policy toward Russiaare too important to be submerged in partisan "poppy-Cox."

The starting place for an analysis of our Russia policy should beginwith a simple question: Why does Russia matter? Why does Russia rank amongthe two or three nations on Earth in which developments could have thelargest impact on Americans' lives and liberties?

With one-seventh of the world's land mass, 150 million citizens, naturalresources that rank at the top tier in every important category, a scientificand technical elite that rivaled America's for four decades, and a culturethat has contributed to the world canon, Russia matters.

If this were the whole story, Russia would count among the score ofcountries important for American policymakers. Instead, its priority inthe hierarchy of American interests derives from one irreducible fact:History has left a superpower arsenal of nuclear and biological weapons,missiles and know-how in the midst of a revolution that is deconstructingevery sinew of the totalitarian Soviet state.

Start with 7,000 active nuclear warheads--armed, mounted on missiles,capable of arriving at targets in the U.S. less than an hour after launch.Add to this picture 5,000 tactical nuclear weapons. Remember an additional12,000 nuclear weapons in various decaying storage facilities across Russia.Include large stockpiles of highly enriched uranium and plutonium--ingredientsfrom which a crude nuclear device could be assembled.

In sum: The overriding reason Russia must matter appears vividly asone considers the danger of "loose nukes"--the theft of one or a dozenweapons, sale to a rogue state or terrorist group, and use of these weaponsto attack American soldiers abroad or destroy a city on U.S. soil.

How has the Clinton administration dealt with Russia on this most importantissue? According to the Cox report, "the administration has consistentlyde-emphasized proliferation in discussions with Russia." But examine thefacts.

In 1992, three newly independent states--Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus--foundthemselves with the third-, fourth- and fifth-largest nuclear arsenalsin the world. American leadership, especially through Vice President Gore'sBilateral Commission, succeeded in eliminating three superpower arsenals.How many nuclear weapons do those three states have today? Zero.

A big instrument in preventing proliferation of thousands of nuclearweapons has been the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program. Abipartisan congressional initiative, these programs assist Russia in dismantlingand safely disposing of its superpower arsenal. Under Clinton and Gore,Nunn-Lugar programs have invested about $500 million annually and eliminatedmore than 5,000 nuclear weapons previously aimed at the U.S., as well ashundreds of missile launchers and submarines. They have also helped secureremaining weapons and weapons-useable nuclear material at sites acrossRussia.

About these programs, which in fact constitute the largest source ofU.S. taxpayer assistance to Russia, the Cox report is silent. Had the commissioncriticized the administration for being too timid or doing too little onthis front, I might agree. But its members know that a Republican-led Congresshas been the major obstacle to a bolder, expanded program.

Those who seek to serve as our next president should speak about howthey propose to engage Russia in the next four years. Unfortunately, byfailing to establish a bipartisan commission that would have analyzed successand failures evenhandedly, the Cox Commission missed an opportunity toinform that debate.

The president who takes office in January should give highest priorityto securing Russian nuclear weapons, weapons-usable nuclear material andother weapons of mass destruction. Protection of Americans' lives and liberties--notpartisan politics--should take precedence in shaping America's Russia policy.
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E. Department of Energy (DOE)

1.
Energy Department’s Rose Gottemoeller, Expert in Russian NonproliferationIssues, Joins the Carnegie Endowment
        Carnegie Endowment for InternationalPeace
        September 14, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Jessica T. Mathews, president of the Carnegie Endowment for InternationalPeace, announced today that Rose Gottemoeller, acting deputy administratorfor defense nuclear nonproliferation in the U.S. Department of Energy,will join the Endowment as a senior associate on October 2, 2000. She willhold a joint appointment with the Endowment’s Russian and Eurasian Programand its Global Policy Program.

Gottemoeller will focus her research at the Endowment on issues of nuclearsecurity and stability, flowing from the breakup of the Soviet nuclearempire. She will explore new relationships of strategic nuclear offenseand defense. She will also examine how to improve the use of incentivesand sanctions to enhance the security of the extensive Russian nuclearcomplex and ensure that Russian nuclear materials and expertise do notcontribute to nuclear proliferation.

"Rose Gottemoeller is a leader in the Russian nonproliferation fieldin terms of her intellectual rigor and hands-on success. Her work in thearenas of both government and research has helped pave the way for substantivedisarmament talks and a safer nuclear environment in the former SovietUnion. We are honored she is joining us," Ms. Mathews said.

A specialist in arms control issues in Russia and the other former Sovietstates, Gottemoeller was named to her current post in the U.S. Departmentof Energy’s new National Nuclear Security Administration by Secretary BillRichardson on March 1, 2000. As acting deputy administrator, she overseesthe department’s activities in arms control, nonproliferation, internationalnuclear materials protection, international nuclear safety, and nonproliferationresearch and development.

Before that, Gottemoeller served as the department’s assistant secretaryfor nonproliferation and national security. She first joined the departmenton November 7, 1997 as director of the Office of Nonproliferation and NationalSecurity under then-Secretary of Energy Federico Peña.

Under her leadership, the Energy Department completed major milestonesrelating to nonproliferation and U.S. security. These accomplishments includeimproving the security of more than 750 metric tons of weapons-usable nuclearmaterials in Russia, placing nuclear materials in the Democratic People’sRepublic of Korea under international safeguards, and advancing transparentand irreversible reductions in nuclear stockpiles through such effortsas the U.S.-Russia plutonium management and disposition program. Gottemoellerwas also instrumental in establishing the Nuclear Cities Initiative, aninnovative program designed to accelerate Russia’s planned downsizing ofits nuclear weapons complex by promptly addressing associated job lossand brain drain problems.

Before joining the Energy Department, Gottemoeller served for threeyears as deputy director of the International Institute for Strategic Studiesin London. From 1993 to 1994, she served at the National Security Councilat the White House as director for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia Affairs.At the NSC, her responsibilities included establishing cooperative effortsto ensure the safe and secure dismantlement of strategic nuclear weaponsin the former Soviet Union, and facilitating the transfer of nuclear weaponsfrom Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus to enable their entry into the NonproliferationTreaty as nonnuclear weapon states.

In 1992, Gottemoeller directed the transition team at the Arms Controland Disarmament Agency for newly elected President Bill Clinton. Beforethat, she was a senior defense analyst at RAND, where she specialized inthe defense and arms control policies of the Soviet Union. From 1990 to1991, she worked at the U.S. Department of State as a Council on ForeignRelations Fellow, during which time she served as an advisor to the U.S.START delegation in Geneva. From 1989 to 1993, she was an adjunct professorof Soviet military policy at Georgetown University.

Gottemoeller has written widely on arms control topics. She is the editorof Strategic Arms Control in the Post-START Era and the author of numerousreports and articles, including Conflict and Consensus in the Soviet ArmedForces (Rand Corporation, May 1988); Land-attack Cruise Missiles (IISSAdelphi Paper No. 226); and Finding Solutions to the SLCM Arms ControlProblems (International Security, Winter 1988). She received an M.A. inscience, technology, and public policy from The George Washington Universityand a B.S. in Russian language and linguistics from Georgetown University.
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F. U.S. - Russia General

1.
Gorbachev Touts U.S.-Russia Group
        The Moscow Times
        September 23, 2000
        (for personal use only)

A new association intended to foster U.S.-Russian relations in politics,business, culture, science and education was launched Friday at the GorbachevFoundation.

"We have lost the pace þ in [developing] relations between thetwo countries," said former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev at the ceremony.He said he would consider heading the organization, the Russia-U.S. Association,in its first year.

Many eminent public figures in attendance said the time for such cooperationwas ripe. "Relations between the countries are not at their best and mustbe improved," said Vladimir Lukin, a State Duma deputy from the Union ofRight Forces.

U.S. Ambassador James Collins welcomed the creation of the association."We are on the verge of starting the new era in our relations and the searchfor ways of promoting cooperation is invaluable."
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2.
Gorbachev Launches U.S.-Russia Association to Boost Political Ties
        Agence France Presse
        September 23, 2000
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW, Sep 23, 2000 -- (Agence France Presse) Former Soviet leaderMikhail Gorbachev, voicing concern at the deterioration of U.S.-Russiapolitical cooperation, announced Friday the creation of a new body aimedat boosting bilateral ties.

He called on the two former Cold War foes to "rethink" their relationship.

Gorbachev announced the creation of a "Russia-U.S.A" association aimedat developing communication between the two nations on political matters,and said he was ready to serve as president of the new body.

The scheme was prompted by "grave misgivings at the deterioration ofrelations between Russia and the United States," the former Soviet leaderadded.

The association would provide a forum where the hurdles preventing bilateralrelations to develop could be discussed, he said.

While U.S.-Russian cooperation was increasing in the cultural and scientificspheres, "the political sphere should be our first priority because improvementsin all other domains depends upon it," Gorbachev added.

He was speaking at the opening of an international conference entitled"Russia and the United States in the global world," organized by the Gorbachevfoundation.

He said that the next U.S. president should reject the "old conceptions"and deal with the new global political set up.

The reforms launched by former Soviet president after his rise to powerin 1985 are regarded as instrumental in the fall of communism in Europeand the end of the Cold War.
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G. Nuclear Waste

1.
Greenpeace Action in Chelyabinsk
        Thomas Nilsen
        Bellona
        September 22, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Eight activists from Greenpeace Russia were arrested today after theyput up a banner on the Kurchatov statue in Chelyabinsk protesting the plansfor nuclear waste import. On Thursday the blocked the road entrance tothe closed city of Ozersk where Mayak is located.

Greenpeace fears that Chelyabinsk might be the dumping ground for nuclearwaste from all round the world if the Russian Ministry of Nuclear Energy(Minatom) gets approval for its plans to open up for import of spent nuclearfuel. Russia's only operating reprocessing facility for spent fuel (RT-1)is located in Mayak, just north of Chelyabinsk.

Early morning today, four activists climbed up to the top of the Kurchatovstatue near the Technical University in Chelyabinsk. At lunchtime, thefour, together with four others on the ground were arrested by the localpolice.

The slogan set up was saying, "Nuclear waste: Money for the officials- coffins for the people."

On Thursday, other activists from Greenpeace and a local environmentalorganisation from the village of Muslymovo blocked the main road to theclosed nuclear city of Ozersk, where the Mayak nuclear enterprises aresituated. Five persons hold a slogan saying, "We don't want to live ina nuclear waste dump." They also placed out some buckets containing radioactivecontaminated soil from the shore of the Tetcha River in Muslymovo.

Greenpeace demands a referendum in Russia about the planned nuclearwaste import. The lobby campaign from Minatom on lifting the existing legislation,which bans the import of foreign radioactive waste to Russia, needs a referendumresponse from the population says Greenpeace.

It's not only Greenpeace and the local environmental groups in Chelyabinskwhich are concerned about the situation in Mayak. Today, the European Commission(EC) warned that the reprocessing plant in Mayak is at risk of a seriousaccident.

Interview by BBC News, EC head of Nuclear Safety, Derek Taylor said"There's always the potential for another accident."

"More waste is being stored than they really have safe capacity to store,"he said.

Back in 1992, the Bellona Foundation warned the world community aboutthe high risks of accidents at Mayak, and the tremendous problems relatedto storage of radioactive waste in the Mayak area. A Bellona report pointedout the unsatisfactory situation at the nuclear dump lake Karatchay, thewater reservoirs where liquid radioactive waste are stored and the earlierdumping of highly radioactive waste into the Tetcha River.
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