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Nuclear News - 09/28/00
RANSAC Nuclear News, 28 September 2000


A.  Plutonium Disposition

    1. 161 Organizations Around The World Speak Out Against The UseOf Plutonium As A Nuclear Fuel On International “Nix MOX” Day, Institutefor Energy and Environmental Research (09/28/00)
    2. BNFL Will Help Russians If Siemens Doesn't, Handelsblatt(09/25/00)
B. Russian Nuclear Forces
    1. Russia Tests New Nuclear-Capable Missile, Reuters (09/28/00)
    2. New Russian Missile Test on Eve of Strategy Meeting, Reuters(09/27/00)
C. Russia - Iran
    1. CIA Sees Iran As Nuclear Threat Within 10 Years, MichaelSmith, Electronic Telegraph (09/27/00)
D. Russian Military
    1. Key Security Council Meeting Delayed . . . As Various MilitaryBranches Object To Reforms, RFE/RL (09/28/00)
    2. Putin Puts Forward Concept for Military, Yelena Shishkunova,Gazeta.ru (09/28/00)
    3. Putin Wants More Efficient Military Spending, Ron Popeski,Reuters (09/27/00)



A. Plutonium Disposition

1.
161 Organizations Around The World Speak Out Against The Use OfPlutonium As A Nuclear Fuel On International “Nix MOX” Day
        Institute for Energy andEnvironmental Research
        September 28, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Washington, DC, 28 September 2000: More than 160 organizations fromaround the world have joined together to oppose the use of plutonium inmixed-oxide (MOX) nuclear reactor fuel as part of the third annual International“NIX MOX” Day on September 28. The groups issued a joint statement warningof environmental and nuclear proliferation risks from proposals to reuseplutonium instead of disposing of it as a deadly waste.

Earlier this month, the U.S. and Russia signed an agreement to use plutoniumfrom dismantled nuclear weapons in MOX fuel at commercial power plantsin both countries and, possibly, Canada. Weapons-grade plutonium has neverpreviously been used to fabricate MOX fuel on a commercial scale anywherein the world.

Community actions protesting the MOX fuel plans are taking place Thursdayin the southeastern United States, Russia, and Canada. “Plutonium is oneof the most dangerous substances on earth,” explained Kimberly Roberts,program associate at Physicians for Social Responsibility, whose groupis participating in many of the protest events. “It should be safely isolatedand monitored, not turned into a commodity on the world market.”

“MOX fuel will undermine global nuclear nonproliferation efforts becausethe plutonium in fresh MOX fuel can be easily separated and used for weaponspurposes,” added Michele Boyd, global outreach coordinator for the Institutefor Energy and Environmental Research  “MOX fuel will also complicatesafe reactor operations and increase the consequences of a severe nuclearreactor accident.”

“Use of MOX fuel in nuclear plants will significantly increase the numberof cancer fatalities projected to result from a severe accident, becausequantities of plutonium and other highly radiotoxic materials are severaltimes greater in MOX fuel than in conventional uranium fuel,” Dr. EdwinLyman, scientific director at the Nuclear Control Institute, continued.

Despite the criticisms, the U.S. Department of Energy has selected itsSavannah River Site in South Carolina for MOX fabrication.  Duke Powerhas requested Nuclear Regulatory Commissions licenses to use the fuel atplants in North and South Carolina.

“A plutonium fuel cycle will require defense measures to be taken atreactor sites and along transport routes.  This militarization ofthe fuel cycle is unprecedented,” noted Lou Zeller, community organizerat the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League.

Russian groups are also protesting their nation's MOX involvement withevents in Kaliningrad, Chelyabinsk, Krasnoyarsk, Voronezh, and Dimitrovgrad.“Our Ministry of Atomic Energy proclaims plutonium to be a national energytreasure which it intends to separate from used MOX fuel, a process whichwill generate vast amounts of radioactive waste and increase stockpilesof weapons usable material,” said Vladimir Sliviak, co-director of thegroup Ecodefense!

There is growing opposition in Canada to the Canadian government’s offerto use MOX fuel in CANDU reactors.  “Through the plutonium fuel project,the Canadian government is propping up its declining nuclear industry andfostering global traffic in plutonium, which will increase the risk ofnuclear weapons proliferation, terrorism, and accidents,” said KristenOstling, national coordinator of the Campaign for Nuclear Phaseout.

All the groups support immobilization, a process that involves mixingplutonium with other materials to create a theft-resistant waste form,as an alternative to MOX. The U.S. plans to pursue immobilization for asmall quantity of surplus plutonium that has been deemed unsuitable forMOX.

The statement and list of signatories is available on the web at <www.ieer.org>.
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2.
BNFL Will Help Russians If Siemens Doesn't
        Handelsblatt
        September 25, 2000
        (for personal use only)

BERLIN (Handelsblatt)--The Russian government will find British NuclearFuels Ltd. (U.BNF) ready to step into the breach if political wranglingputs paid to its plans to buy the Siemens AG Hanau-based facilities forreprocessing spent nuclear-fuel rods.

Chief executive Norman Askew said BNFL would be in a position to aidthe conversion of military-grade plutonium from Red Army reserves intocivilian Mox fuel rods. He said his company had already made contact withthe Russian government and would be pursuing developments in Germany withgreat interest. The British government would also be ready to provide financialsupport.

Germany's governing coalition of Social Democrats and environmentalistGreens has already approved the delivery of the Hanau facilities to Russia.But the Greens have explicitly rejected any form of state support for theproject, as well as the provision of state guarantees under the Hermessystem.

But Siemens has made it clear that without any government support, ithas no interest in doing business. In Siemens' view, the Hanau sale aspart of an international arms-decommissioning process is a political project,in which the German government has some interest.

For BNFL, there isn't much in the way of profit to be derived from theconversion of Russian plutonium. But it is turning its attention towardsRussia as a way of winning new clients.

Certainly the German market looks less than promising. Askew said theGerman government's decision to abandon nuclear power was a "national matter",in which he didn't intend to become involved.

But he stressed that BNFL would insist on adherence to the processingagreements it had signed with the German energy utilities. These stillhad until 2005 to run, and were responsible for 15% of BNFL's businessin this sector.

Askew said BNFL, like its French competitor Cogema, viewed with skepticismGermany's decision to cease reprocessing its spent fuel rods and insteadto store them in interim sites near the power plants.

But BNFL may not have done its last piece of business with Germany.At the end of their operating life, Germany's decommissioned power plantswill have to be dismantled safely. BNFL would be able to offer considerableexperience and expertise in the dismantling of nuclear-power plants andthe disposal of radioactive materials, Askew said.
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B. Russian Nuclear Forces

1.
Russia Tests New Nuclear-Capable Missile
        Reuters
        September 28, 2000
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW, Sep 28, 2000 -- (Reuters) Russia on Wednesday conducted a secondnew test of its Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missile, heralded bythe military as the country's nuclear deterrent for the 21st century.

The Topol-M, referred to as SS-27 by NATO, was fired from a mobile missilelauncher from Plesetsk in northern Russia to a target on the distant Kamchatkapeninsula in the far east, Interfax news agency reported.

The test, the twelfth in total, was carried out a day after a Topol-Mwas successfully fired on the same trajectory out of a silo. The Topol-Mwas given final approval earlier this year as part of Russia's arsenal.

Russia says the missile, with a range of 10,000 kilometers (6,200 miles)can break through any system such as the missile shield Washington is proposingto build, over Moscow's objections, to protect it against attacks by "rogue"states.

The test launches came as Russia debated how to reform its cashappedmilitary, a sprawling colossus of 1.2 million troops and a lot of underusedhardware.

President Vladimir Putin chaired a meeting of the advisory SecurityCouncil on Wednesday and reiterated his calls for the army to be reorganizedto be more efficient.

"We spend colossal sums of money on the military," he said in televisedcomments. "And we also allow the military budget to be blurred by questionswhich have no direct link to military readiness of the army or to providingfor its needs.

"Our army must be modern and flexible and mobile, battle ready."

Defence Minister Igor Sergeyev has proposed cutting the armed forcesby almost a third by 2003, to around 800,000.

The sinking last month of the nuclear submarine Kursk highlighted thesorry state of the military's equipment and infrastructure.

Plans to downgrade the role of the Strategic Rocket Forces, which controlRussia's land-based nuclear arsenal, have sparked a row between Sergeyev,their former commander, and his chief of staff, Anatoly Kvashnin, who wantsto give priority and more money to conventional forces.
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2.
New Russian Missile Test on Eve of Strategy Meeting
        Reuters
        September 27, 2000
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW, Sep 27, 2000 -- (Reuters) Russia conducted a new test on Tuesdayof its Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missile, a day before a top-levelstrategy meeting to establish priorities in the country's military.

Interfax news agency quoted a spokesman for the strategic rocket forcesas saying that the test proceeded smoothly from launch at the Plesetsksite in northern Russia to its target on the distant Kamchatka peninsulain the Far East.

Colonel Islhat Baichurin said the test was the 11th to be undertakenand provided confirmation that the missile was "the basis of Russia's nuclearmissile shield in the 21st century".

"The countdown, launch and flight were carried out strictly accordingto the set timetable of the operation," Interfax quoted him as saying.

But Interfax also quoted the forces' press service as saying that ithad received only half the required funds to proceed with the missile'sdevelopment and that delays in development had needlessly increased costs.

A Kremlin spokesman said this week the Security Council would meet onWednesday to consider the latest stage of military reforms, including proposalsmade this month by Defence Minister Igor Sergeyev to cut the armed forcesby almost a third by 2003.

The cuts involve between 350,000 and 400,000 from a force currentlytotaling about 1.2 million.

President Vladimir Putin has said Russia must overhaul its outsizedarmed forces, inherited from the Soviet Union, which spent large portionsof its budget preparing for war against NATO.

The sinking last month of the nuclear submarine Kursk highlighted thesorry state of the military's equipment and infrastructure.

Plans to downgrade the role of the Strategic Rocket Forces, which controlRussia's land-based nuclear arsenal, have sparked a row between Sergeyev,their former commander, and his chief of staff, Anatoly Kvashnin, who wantsto give priority and more money to conventional forces.

The Topol-M, known to NATO as the SS-27, was given final approval earlierthis year as part of Russia's arsenal.

Russia says the missile, with a range of 10,000 km (6,200 miles) canbreak through any missile system such as the shield Washington is proposingto build, over Moscow's objections, to protect it against "rogue" states.
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C. Russia - Iran

1.
CIA Sees Iran As Nuclear Threat Within 10 Years
        Michael Smith
        Electronic Telegraph
        September 27, 2000
        (for personal use only)

IRAN is rapidly developing its nuclear weapons capability and will beable to fire an inter-continental ballistic missile that could reach Londonor New York some time within the next decade, the CIA believes.

Russia, China and North Korea are all providing Iran with technologythat could be used to produce long-range missiles or weapons of mass destruction,it says. Iran is seen by the CIA as one of the top five potential threatsto world peace despite the reformist policies of President Mohammad Khatami,who has moved to improve relations with Western countries.

Norman Schindler, deputy director of the CIA's non-proliferation centre,said Teheran has "an elaborate system of covert military and civilian organisations"to acquire the means of building nuclear weapons. He told a Senate sub-committeeon international security and proliferation: "Iran is attempting to developthe capability to produce both plutonium and highly-enriched uranium."

Under cover of assisting Iran's nuclear energy programme, Russian expertswere advising the Iranians on a variety of techniques applicable to nuclearweapons production, he said.

Robert D Walpole, the agency's national intelligence officer for strategicand nuclear programmes, told the sub-committee that some of its analystsbelieved Iran could test fire an inter-continental ballistic missile withinthe next five years. Its Shahab-3 medium-range ballistic missile, whichcould reach Israel and most of Saudi Arabia and Turkey, is already beingdeployed.

Although Iran was going through a period of "vibrant and potentiallytumultuous debate about change and reform", there was unlikely to be anyfundamental shift in its national security policy, he said. Despite Teheran'sratification of both the Chemical Weapons Convention and the BiologicalWeapons Convention, it continued to produce both, with assistance fromRussia and China.

Mr. Walpole said: "Teheran, no matter who is in power, will continueto develop and expand its weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missileprogrammes as long as it perceives threats from US military forces in theGulf, a nuclear-armed Israel and Iraq."
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D. Russian Military

1.
Key Security Council Meeting Delayed . . . As Various Military BranchesObject To Reforms
        RFE/RL
        September 28, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on 27 September that he ispostponing the Security Council's session planned for that day until thefirst half of November, Interfax reported. Putin revealed that "the leadersof all departments with military units had lodged objections" to issuesthat would have been on the agenda of the council's session. Council membershad been scheduled to discuss Russia's military priorities, according toReuters. Commenting on earlier announced plans to cut the armed forcesby almost one-third, Putin declared at the council's working conferencethat day that "there will be no wholesale massive reductions in the Russianarmed forces," Russian agencies reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 September2000). Putin also called for "measured, calm, and smooth work...to optimizethe country's entire military machine."

According to Putin, Russia is spending more than 35 percent of its federalbudget on national defense, which he said is "far too much." The money,he added, is not necessarily being spent "thriftily." He noted that thereare military units in 11 power structures in addition to the Defense Ministryand hinted that some of these will be shed. Also on 27 September, an unidentifiedsource in the Security Council told Interfax that redistributing expensesamong the power agencies will enable the government to increase servicemen'sallowances by 2-2.2 times over the next five years. The source added thatthe personnel of power agencies will be cut by 600,000 servicemen and civilianemployees over the same period.
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2.
Putin Puts Forward Concept for Military
        Yelena Shishkunova
        Gazeta.ru
        September 28, 2000
        (for personal use only)

At Wednesday’s session of the Russian Security Council, president VladimirPutin presented the guidelines for the reform of the military. Over thenext two years, over one million servicemen will be decommissioned.

The cuts will affect every agency within Russia’s monolithic defenceand law enforcement machine, including the Federal Security Service (FSB),formerly the KGB, and the FSO Federal Guards Service. Those who retaintheir posts are promised higher salaries.

On Wednesday, September 27, Vladimir Putin opened the Russian SecurityCouncil’s sitting. In his statement dedicated to the concept of the militaryreform Vladimir Putin said that “there will be no sweeping, mass lay-offsin the military”.

According to the president, the chief goal of the forthcoming reformis the gradual optimization of the state military machine’s effectivenesson the basis of “reduction of insignificant staff in the law enforcementagencies and improvement of the military’s social status.”

The reforms will affect the Federal Security Service, the Interior Ministry’stroops, the Frontier Guards, the Emergency Ministry’s troops, and otherslaw enforcement departments. As for the Defense Ministry, all main decisionson reforming that agency were elaborated and adopted back in August.

At that session it was expected that either Defense Minister MarshalIgor Sergeyev or the chief of General Staff Anatoly Kvashin would be dismisseddue to their prolonged row over the future of the Strategic Missile forces(RVSN).

However, neither was sacked but at that meeting the Council outlinedand adopted the Defense Ministry’s reform proposal. That plan stipulatesfor cuts of up to 350 thousand men. The total number of full time servicemenin the armed forces amounts to 1.2 million. In other words, every thirdserviceman will be made redundant.

RIA-Novosti news agency quoted an undisclosed high-placed source inthe Security Council as saying that over the next two years, the staffof the law enforcement agencies will be reduced by a total of 600 thousand.

Such was the proposal prepared for the Security Council session. Giventhat at present the total number of all servicemen employed in Russia’slaw enforcement agencies (including both military personnel and civil employees)amounts to nearly 3 million, every fifth serviceman will be sacked. Thusthat reduction is considerably less sweeping given that the ranks of thearmed forces will be reduced by one-third.

According to presidential experts, the large-scale staff reduction willallow for an increase in expenses for each military serviceman 2-2.5-foldand rid the law enforcement agencies of the so-called ‘dead souls’, thosewho are officially employed in the services but who have in fact long sinceleft the various services or who never joined.

Apart from better training and better equipping the remaining servicemen,special attention will be paid to the social status of those who retaintheir posts in the law enforcement agencies. As for the future and socialstatus of those decommissioned, the experts failed to specify.

Among other goals of the reform, Putin named the struggle against ‘parallelism’of the jurisdiction of numerous law enforcement structures. The problemis that presently various agencies exercise similar jurisdiction and asa consequence, fail to coordinate their actions and to share vital informationsuch as, for instance, reconnaissance reports.

The situation in Chechnya, for example, is controlled by the InteriorMinistry, FSB forces and Frontier Service guards simultaneously. Oftenthey fail to coordinate their actions and responsibilities, thus therehave been incidents when lack of mutual cooperation has caused tragic accidents…

The president’s ultimate aim is to make the armed forces professionaland battle fit, instead of the blundering over-manned, under equipped,cashipped and barely manageable monolith that currently exists.

Currently defence spending consumes about one third of the federal budget,and that is hardly enough to pay the salaries of the enormous staff.

The president invited Security Council members to, over the next month,put forward their suggestions for improving and amending the concept ofthe military reform. The concept will be finalized and the plan for militaryreform will be launched.
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3.
Putin Wants More Efficient Military Spending
        Ron Popeski
        Reuters
        September 27, 2000
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin told top security officialsWednesday the Russian military could create more efficient armed forcesonly if it was more efficient in spending the ``colossal'' sums allocatedto it in the budget.

Putin was addressing the increasingly influential Security Council ata session which was to have been devoted to the sensitive issue of establishingRussia's military priorities.

In the event, the agenda was shifted to military construction and thebroader debate put off until November to allow more time to settle differencesbetween military branches.

Putin, speaking a month after the sinking of the nuclear-powered submarineKursk underscored the sad state of military equipment, made it plain hedemanded more rational use of funds.

``We spend colossal sums of money on the military...And we also allowthe military budget to be blurred and sidetracked by questions which haveno direct link to military readiness of the army or to providing for itsneeds,'' he said in televised comments.

``We have no right to solve military tasks strictly on the basis ofpeople's enthusiasm and heroism. We cannot any longer simply provide forthe army's needs without also providing training with high technology andmodern equipment.''

But he warned against simply cutting expenditure as a matter of principle.

``Our army must be modern and flexible and mobile, battle ready,'' hesaid. ``When I say that we should be better organized, this does not meanthat we should proceed with straightforward cuts of the armed forces andother military sectors.''

DEBATE ON NUCLEAR, CONVENTIONAL FORCES

Debate has been proceeding for months about where to make cuts in thedilapidated post-Soviet army, with rifts opening over the balance betweennuclear and conventional forces.

Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev has proposed cutting the size of thearmed forces by almost one third by 2003. This would mean removing between350,000 and 400,000 people from forces now totaling about 1.2 million.

Plans to downgrade the role of the Strategic Rocket Forces, which controlRussia's land-based nuclear arsenal, have sparked a row between Sergeyev,their former commander, and his chief of staff, Anatoly Kvashnin, who wantsto give priority and more money to conventional forces.

As the meeting got under way, Russia announced the second test-firingin as many days of a Topol-M supersonic missile, heralded by the militaryas the country's nuclear missile shield in the 21st century.

The Topol-M, referred to as SS-27 by NATO, was fired from a mobile missilelauncher in Plesetsk in northern Russia to its target on the distant Kamchatkapeninsula in the far east, Interfax news agency reported.

Putin was criticized for a passive approach in the initial stages ofthe Kursk disaster, and as the rescue operation for its doomed crew proceeded,Russia sought foreign help to find deep-sea diving teams with proper trainingand equipment.

The president promised that there would be more money for the military.His finance minister said defense and security would be among the areasto benefit from any increased budget revenue from better oil prices andimproved tax collection.

Putin was quoted by Interfax news agency as telling the Security Councilthat the discussion on establishing military priorities had been complicatedby objections from heads of various military sectors.

The last full discussion in July, which generated such serious differences,had taken two months to prepare, he said, and the forthcoming discussionwould be no easier.

The Security Council groups senior ministers and security aides. Ithas gained in influence since Putin took charge of the Kremlin and onlya full meeting like the one planned for November can take binding decisions.
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