Partnership for Global Security: Leading the World to a Safer Future
Home Projects Publications Issues Official Documents About RANSAC Nuclear News 4/15/13
Location: Home / Projects & Publications / News
Sitemap Contact
Search
Google www PGS
 
Nuclear News - 10/11/00
RANSAC Nuclear News, 11 October 2000


A.  Plutonium Disposition

    1. News Briefing [MOX Lead Test Assemblies], Uranium Institute(10/10/00)
B. Loose Nukes
    1. [Russia]...Accuses Taliban Of Seeking To Acquire Nuclear Potential,RFE/RL (10/09/00)
C. Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU)
    1. USEC Happy With Uranium Deal Timeline, Joe Walker, ThePaducah Sun (10/11/00)
    2. USEC Megatons to Megawatts Program Reaches Milestone: Equivalentof 4,000 Nuclear Warheads Converted to Fuel For Power Plants, BusinessWire (10/10/00)
    3. News Briefing [USEC Uranium Enrichment], Uranium Institute(10/10/00)
    4. Energy Secretary Richardson Announces Initiative To SecureSupply of Enriched Uranium in the U.S., Department of Energy (10/06/00)
D. Nuclear Waste
    1. Radioactive Spill, Associated Press (10/11/00)
    2. Russians Protest "Nuclear Dump" Plans, Agence France Presse(10/10/00)
    3. Two Gamma Radiator Sources Onboard Sunken Barge, Bellona(10/10/00)
E. Russia - Iran
    1. Statement by John A. Lauder, Director, Directorate of CentralIntelligence's Nonproliferation Center to the Senate Committee on ForeignRelations on Russian Proliferation to Iran's Weapons of Mass Destructionand Missile Programs, John A. Lauder (10/05/00)



A. Plutonium Disposition

1.
News Briefing [MOX Lead Test Assemblies]
        Uranium Institute
        October 10, 2000
        (for personal use only)

[NB00.41-13] US: The feasibility of using UK ex-weapons plutonium tomake lead test assemblies (LTAs) in Europe for the US mixed-oxide (MOX)fuel programme is being considered by Duke, Cogema, Stone & Webster(DCS). Cogema has reportedly been asked to study the hypothesis of fabricatingthe LTAs for the US programme from UK-origin surplus military Pu in a Europeanplant. A major obstacle to the European fabrication option is transport- both of weapons Pu from the UK to the Continent and of the finished MOXassemblies to the US reactors.
return to menu


B. Loose Nukes

1.
[Russia]...Accuses Taliban Of Seeking To Acquire Nuclear Potential
        RFE/RL
        October 9, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Russian Security Council official Raisa Vdovichenko told a conferenceon nuclear non-proliferation in Moscow on 6 October that Taliban envoyshave sought to recruit at least one Russian expert on nuclear weapons,Interfax reported.
return to menu


C. Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU)

1.
USEC Happy With Uranium Deal Timeline
        Joe Walker
        The Paducah Sun
        October 11, 2000
        (for personal use only)

USEC Inc. says it is ahead of schedule in completing 20 percent of ahighly controversial deal to buy overpriced uranium derived from dismantledRussian nuclear warheads.

"Just a decade ago, who would have imagined that Soviet warheads wouldbe dismantled and diluted to supply electricity to U.S. cities?" said William"Nick" Timbers, USEC president and chief executive officer. "Yet it ishappening today."
 
Last week, the Bethesda, Md., firm, which operates the Paducah GaseousDiffusion Plant, reached a milestone of receiving 100 metric tons of thematerial, the equivalent of 4,000 nuclear warheads. USEC said the programhas converted weapons-grade uranium into nearly 3,000 metric tons of commercialreactor fuel to generate electricity in the United States.

USEC customers include the Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant in Marylandand the Nebraska Public Power District's Cooper Station.

USEC and Techsnabexport (TENEX) are agents for the U.S. and Russiangovernments in the agreement, which is converting 500 metric tons in Russiato fuel-grade uranium and shipping it to the United States over 20 years.USEC has paid $1.7 billion so far and is expected to spend another $6.3billion.

"This is our sixth year of implementing the Megatons to Megawatts program,and we are ahead of the original government schedule," Timbers said ina news release. "This has been called the deal of the century — the mostsuccessful nuclear nonproliferation initiative in history."

But USEC's role in the swords-to-plowshares pact has repeatedly beenattacked by federal lawmakers, organized labor, and nuclear fuel and financialexperts as a threat to national security and the American uranium enrichmentbusiness.

They say USEC is paying more for the Russian material than the productioncosts of its plants here and at Piketon, Ohio. The amount of Russian uraniumshipped roughly equals the output of one of the plants.

Facing a glutted market with falling prices, USEC has laid off hundredsof workers at both plants and will close the Ohio facility next June. Arecent proprietary study by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said USECwon't be profitable beyond 2003 without drastic measures, such as closingboth plants and becoming solely a broker of uranium.

Senior managers of ConverDyne, the marketing arm of the 330-employeeHoneywell plant in Metropolis, Ill., said the plant may have to close withoutgovernment help to prop up sagging prices caused partly by the influx ofRussian uranium. Honeywell makes uranium hexafluoride enriched by the Paducahplant, which employs about 1,600.

Witnesses in congressional hearings have testified that USEC shouldnot continue as agent for the Russian material because it has a conflictof interest in balancing business with nuclear disarmament. The Russianshave stopped shipments several times because of similar concerns, and USECitself threatened to pull out of the agreement last December if it didn'tget as much as $200 million in federal money to help offset its losses.

The agreement was signed in 1993 and a contract in 1994. The first shipmentof blended-down uranium arrived at the Ohio plant in June 1995.
return to menu


2.
USEC Megatons to Megawatts Program Reaches Milestone: Equivalentof 4,000 Nuclear Warheads Converted to Fuel For Power Plants
        Business Wire
        October 10, 2000
        (for personal use only)

BETHESDA, Md.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Oct. 10, 2000--USEC Inc. announced todaythat it has achieved a significant milestone by completing 20 percent ofthe historic 20-year U.S.-Russian Megatons to Megawatts program that convertsmaterial from Russian nuclear warheads into fuel for commercial power plants.One hundred metric tons of weapons-grade uranium--the equivalent of 4,000nuclear warheads--have been converted into fuel for power plants and deliveredto USEC.

USEC and Techsnabexport (TENEX) are the executive agents implementingthis program on commercial terms for the U.S. and Russian governments.Under the commercial implementing contract, 500 metric tons of Russianwarhead material will be converted to fuel in Russia and purchased by USECover a 20-year period, for an expected purchase value of about $8 billion.To date, USEC purchases total $1.7 billion.

With last week's milestone shipment, the Megatons to Megawatts programhas converted weapons-grade uranium into nearly 3,000 metric tons of commercialreactor fuel that will continue generating emission-free electricity herein the United States.

``This is our sixth year of implementing the Megatons to Megawatts program,and we are ahead of the original government schedule,'' said USEC Presidentand CEO William Timbers. ``This has been called `the deal of the century--themost successful nuclear non-proliferation initiative in history.' Everyday, this program converts nuclear swords into energy for peaceful purposes.Just a decade ago, who would have imagined that Soviet warheads would bedismantled and diluted to supply electricity to U.S. cities? Yet it ishappening today.''

USEC's utility customers around the country are using Megatons to Megawattsfuel in their commercial nuclear reactors to generate electricity. Thesecustomers include Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant in Maryland and NebraskaPublic Power District's Cooper station.

The government-to-government agreement was signed in 1993, and the implementingcontract was signed in 1994. The first shipment of LEU-from-HEU arrivedat USEC's Portsmouth, Ohio, facility in June 1995. USEC and TENEX implementthe Megatons to Megawatts contract at no expense to the taxpayer.

USEC Inc. (NYSE: USU - news), a global energy company, is the world'sleading supplier of enriched uranium fuel for commercial nuclear powerplants.
return to menu


3.
News Briefing [USEC Uranium Enrichment]
        Uranium Institute
        October 10, 2000
        (for personal use only)

[NB00.41-3] US: Plans to build an advanced-technology pilot projectfor uranium enrichment at USEC's Portsmouth plant were announced by theDepartment of Energy (DOE). The pilot plant would be based on centrifugetechnology. The plan calls for the Piketon plant, scheduled to be shutdown with the loss of 1200 jobs, to be kept in 'standby' mode and eventuallyto resume enrichment operations using the centrifuge technology, beingdeveloped by the DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Energy SecretaryBill Richardson said the plan was a way of protecting US energy suppliesand national security.
return to menu


4.
Energy Secretary Richardson Announces Initiative To Secure Supplyof Enriched Uranium in the U.S.
        Department of Energy
        October 6, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Administration To Invest in Advanced Technology Pilot Plant at Piketon,Keep Existing Facility in Standby in Case of Supply Disruption

Energy Secretary Bill Richardson today outlined the Clinton/Gore Administration'splan to further protect U.S. energy security by building an advanced technologydemonstration plant for uranium enrichment in Piketon, Ohio. In addition,the existing Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant -- one of only two uraniumenrichment plants in the country -- will be placed in cold standby forfive years for possible restart in the event of a significant disruptionin the nation's supply of enriched uranium.

"This action is essential for the long-term security of our nation'selectricity supply, because nuclear power generates 20 percent of America'selectricity," said Secretary Richardson. "Nuclear power plants requirea reliable and secure domestic source of enriched uranium, as an importantcomponent of our energy supply. In addition, it will preserve jobs, andprovide the facilities in Piketon and Paducah (Kentucky) a new enrichmenttechnology to compete in the energy markets of the 21st century."

The Administration's initiative follows an announcement in June by USEC,the private operator of the plant, to end enrichment operations at Piketonby June 2001. That USEC decision would have resulted in the layoff of 1,200workers over the next several years. Now, most of these workers will beemployed to support the Department of Energy's standby and centrifuge operations,as well as in environmental clean-up activities at the Piketon site.

The Administration's initiative will employ the highly trained and qualifiedworkforce at the Piketon Plant to maintain the facility in standby, whilepreparing workers to operate a gas centrifuge pilot plant. Gas centrifugeis an enrichment process that increases the concentration of Uranium 235,the isotope desired for the production of nuclear energy. This advancedtechnology uses only a fraction of the energy required for gaseous diffusion.

The department's plan calls for placing and maintaining a portion ofthe Piketon Plant in a cold standby condition for five years for possiblerestart in the event of a significant disruption in America's supply ofenriched uranium. Under the department's plan, many of the operations,maintenance, utilities and support personnel would be retained to maintainthe facility in standby. This status is maintained until an advanced enrichmenttechnology is successfully demonstrated, projected to be completed in fiveyears.

The centrifuge project, to be managed by the Department of Energy'sOak Ridge National Laboratory, will be completed in five years, with theinitial engineering development taking place using existing specializedcentrifuge facilities at the East Tennessee Technology Park in Oak Ridge.Within a year, the project focus would shift to Piketon, with the refurbishmentof existing facilities there to house the demonstration project.

The centrifuge technology developed in this project will be availableto the gaseous diffusion plants in Piketon and Paducah to help ensure thecontinued competitiveness of the domestic uranium enrichment industry.

The decision announced today came after months of analysis by governmentofficials led by Under Secretary of Energy, Science and Environment Dr.Ernest J. Moniz.

"Development and demonstration of this U.S.-origin advanced enrichmenttechnology is the key to our path forward," said Dr. Moniz. "It supportsour national energy security goals and provides a pathway to future enrichmentactivities at Piketon and Paducah."

Additionally, the Administration's plan would set the stage for thePiketon plant to accelerate cleanup of portions of the plant not neededfor standby and potential restart operations. Specifically, the departmentproposes to initiate a two-year project to remove equipment in surplusfacilities at the site as well as to begin a four-year project to removeequipment from the former highly enriched uranium process building.

As part of a December 2000 report to Congress on energy security needs,the entire range of issues involving the front end of the domestic nuclearfuel cycle -- including mining and conversion -- will be analyzed.

The Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant, located in southern Ohio, wasbuilt in the 1950s in response to the increasing demand for enriched uraniumfor national security and energy security purposes. Today, the Departmentof Energy is aggressively working to complete environmental remediationof the site by 2006.

Both the Piketon and Paducah plants are owned by the U.S. Departmentof Energy and are leased to USEC.
return to menu


D. Nuclear Waste

1.
Radioactive Spill
        Associated Press
        October 11, 2000
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW -- A river barge that overturned in the Far East over the weekendwas carrying radioactive materials in a sealed container, the EmergencySituations Ministry revealed Tuesday.

No radiation has leaked from the 3-ton container holding iridium-192,which is now resting on the bed of the Amur River near the village of Keselevka,said ministry spokesman Viktor Beltsov.

Russian news agencies had reported that the barge was carrying dieselfuel in barrels when it capsized Saturday.

Beltsov said some barrels with diesel were on board, as well as food,consumer goods and metal. He could not say how the container would be raisedfrom the river bed.

The ministry was informed of the radioactive cargo only Tuesday, a spokeswomansaid.
return to menu


2.
Russians Protest "Nuclear Dump" Plans
        Agence France Presse
        October 10, 2000
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW, Oct 10, 2000 -- (Agence France Presse) Russian environmentalistscalled on the government Monday to axe an atomic energy ministry proposalthat would turn the country into a major storage site of the world's nuclearwaste.

The ministry is proposing that Western nations pay Russia to overseetheir mounting supplies of nuclear refuse from atomic energy reactors.

Current regulations bar Russia from taking nuclear refuse from abroad,but the ministry insists the proposal would help finance the country'scash-starved energy sector.

Unfurling a banner reading "We don't want to live in a nuclear dump"in front of the entrance to the Lower House of parliament, Greenpeace activistscalled on the State Duma to veto such plans.

"Nobody cares about what is going to happen to us," said Greenpeaceactivist Gosman Kabirov.

"The atomic energy industry and the government are simply conductingsome sort of perverse experiment on us," he said.

The group also brought what it said were highly radioactive earth samplesfrom several villages located near Russia's Chelyabinsk nuclear plant inthe Urals.
 
Greenpeace members stressed that Russia does not yet have the technologyto deal with its own nuclear waste problems.

"Tens of thousands of people are paying the price for the atomic energyministry's carelessness," Kabirov said.

Since the 1950s, when the first nuclear reactors went into service,the world has produced some 220,000 tons of nuclear refuse, Greenpeacesaid.

The Duma has not yet scheduled a vote on the ministry proposal.
return to menu


3.
Two Gamma Radiator Sources Onboard Sunken Barge
        Bellona
        October 10, 2000
        (for personal use only)

A barge which sank in the Amur River near the Kiselyovka village inthe Khabarovsk region was loaded with a three-ton container with two sourcesof the gamma radiator Iridium-192. There were two different Iridium-192sources in the container of unknown origin. The barge did also carry 220barrels of diesel oil. Some of the barrels emerged on the surface afterthe barge sank at a depth of 10 meters. According to the regional departmentof the Emergencies Ministry, the container with the radiation sources wasnot damaged. Preparation works for lifting the sunken barge itself hasstarted.
return to menu


E. Russia - Iran

1.
Statement by John A. Lauder, Director, Directorate of Central Intelligence'sNonproliferation Center to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations onRussian Proliferation to Iran's Weapons of Mass Destruction and MissilePrograms
        John A. Lauder
        October 5, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Thank you Mr. Chairman for inviting me to testify on this importanttopic. Iran has ambitious development programs for missiles and weaponsof mass destruction (WMD). It is seeking technologies related to missiles,as well as technology related to nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons,from a number of foreign sources. The development of these weapons in Iran,and the extent to which foreign assistance is advancing Iranian weaponsprograms, are among our toughest intelligence challenges and among ourhighest priorities.

Mr. Chairman, in my testimony today I will provide a summary of Russianassistance to Iran's weapons of mass destruction programs and its ballisticmissile delivery systems. The Iranians regard these programs -- and assistanceto them -- as among their highest state secrets and go to great lengthsto hide them from us. As a result, our knowledge of these programs is basedon extremely sensitive sources and methods. This precludes me from providingmany details in open session. But I hope this summary will be of use tothe Committee, and we will continue to keep the Committee informed of additionaldetails in classified briefings.

Nuclear

Mr. Chairman, I would like to begin with a few comments on Russian aidto Iran's nuclear power and nuclear weapons program. The Intelligence Communityjudges that Iran is actively pursuing the acquisition of fissile materialand the expertise and technology necessary to form the material into nuclearweapons. As part of this process, Iran is attempting to develop the capabilityto produce both plutonium and highly-enriched uranium.

As part of this effort, Iran is seeking nuclear-related equipment, material,and technical expertise from a variety of foreign sources, most notablyin Russia. Tehran claims that it seeks foreign assistance to master nucleartechnology for civilian research and nuclear energy programs. However,the expertise and technology gained -- along with the contacts established-- could be used to advance Iran's nuclear weapons effort.

-- Work continues on the construction of a 1,000-megawatt nuclear powerreactor at Bushehr that will be subject to International Atomic EnergyAgency (IAEA) safeguards. This project will not directly support a weaponseffort, but it affords Iran broad access to Russia's nuclear industry.

-- Russian entities are interacting with Iranian nuclear research centerson a wide variety of activities beyond the Bushehr project. Many of theseprojects, ostensibly for civilian nuclear uses, have direct applicationto the production of weapons-grade fissile material.

The United States has levied trade restrictions against two Russianentities and Mendeleyev University -- for providing nuclear assistanceto Iran.

Chemical

I would like to touch briefly on assistance by Russian entities to Iranthat could contribute to Tehran's chemical warfare (CW) program. Iran launchedits offensive CW program in the early 1980s in response to Baghdad's useof CW during the Iran-Iraq war. We believe the program remains active despiteTehran's decision to ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). Iranhas a large and growing CW production capacity and already has produceda number of CW agents, including nerve, blister, choking, and blood agents.We believe it possesses a stockpile of at least several hundred metrictons of weaponized and bulk agent.

Tehran's goals for its CW program for the past decade have been to expandits production capability and stockpile, reach self-sufficiency by acquiringthe means to manufacture chemical production equipment and precursors,and diversify its CW arsenal by producing more sophisticated and lethalagents and munitions.

Numerous Russian entities have been providing Iran with dual-use industrialchemicals, equipment, and chemical production technology that could bediverted to Tehran's offensive CW program.

-- In 1999, for example, Russian entities provided production technology,training, and expertise that Iran could use to create a more advanced andself-sufficient CW infrastructure.

Biological

I would like to now turn to assistance by Russian entities to Iran'sbio-technical programs is pursuing both civilian biotech activities anda biological warfare (BW) program. Assistance by Russian entities to theformer could further Iran's pursuit of biotechnology for military applications.

Iran's BW program was initiated in the 1980s during the Iran-Iraq war.The program is in the late stages of research and development, but we believeIran already holds some stocks of BW agents and weapons. Tehran probablyhas investigated both toxins and live organisms as BW agents, and for BWdissemination could use many of the same delivery systems -- such as artilleryand aerial bombs -- that it has in its CW inventory.

-- Iran has the technical infrastructure to support a significant BWprogram. It conducts top-notch legitimate biomedical research at variousinstitutes, which we suspect also provide support to the BW program.

Iran is seeking expertise and technology from Russia that could advanceTehran's biological warfare effort. Russia has several government-to-governmentagreements with Iran in a variety of scientific and technical fields.

-- Because of the dual-use nature of much of this technology, Tehrancan exploit these agreements to procure equipment and expertise that couldbe diverted to its BW effort.

-- Iran's BW program could make rapid and significant advances if ithas unfettered access to BW expertise resident in Russia.

Missile

I will now discuss Russian aid to Iran's ballistic missile program.Iran's ballistic missile program is one of the largest in the Middle East.Tehran already has deployed hundreds of short-range (150-500 km) ballisticmissiles, covering most of Iraq and many strategic targets in the PersianGulf. It is developing and may soon deploy the 1,300 km-range Shahab-3medium-range ballistic missile, which would allow Iran to reach Israeland most of Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Tehran probably has a small numberof Shahab-3s available for use in a conflict; it has announced that productionand deployment has begun, and it publicly displayed three Shahab-3s alongwith a mobile launcher and other ground support equipment.

Iran's public statements indicate that it plans to develop longer rangedelivery systems. Although Tehran stated that the Shahab-3 is Iran's lastmilitary missile, we are concerned that Iran will use future systems ina military role.

-- Iran's Defense Minister announced the development of the Shahab-4,originally calling it a more capable ballistic missile than the Shahab-3,but later categorizing it as a space launch vehicle with no military applications.

-- Tehran has also mentioned plans for a Shahab-5, strongly suggestingthat it intends to develop even longer range ballistic missiles in thenear future.

-- Iran has displayed a mock-up satellite and space launch vehicle (SLV),suggesting it plans to develop an SLV to deliver Iranian satellites toorbit. However, Iran could convert an SLV into a ballistic missile by developinga reentry vehicle.

In this context, cooperation between Tehran and Russian aerospace entitieshas been a matter of proliferation concern since the mid-1990s. Iran isacquiring Russian technology which could significantly accelerate the paceof its ballistic missile development program.

-- Assistance by Russian entities has helped Iran save years in itsdevelopment of the Shahab-3, which was flight-tested in 1998 and twiceagain this year.

-- Russian assistance also is playing a crucial role in Iran's abilityto develop more sophisticated and longer-range missiles.

Russian entities have helped the Iranian missile effort in areas suchas training, testing, and components. These entities vary in size and covera wide range of specialties. The scope of assistance is illustrated bythe variety of organizations that have been subjects of US trade restrictions.

-- Such restrictions have been levied against Russia's government-ownedspace-technology marketing agency Glavkosmos, the aerospace materials researchinstitute NIIGrafit, the guidance technology developer Polyus, and severalsmaller and less prominent entities.

-- Further, trade actions have been imposed against two major educationalentities, the Moscow Aviation Institute and the Baltic State TechnicalUniversity.

Russian Oversight

Finally, I would like to turn to the issue of Russian efforts to curbthe transfers of WMD) and missile technology to Iran. Beginning in January1998, the Russian Government took a number of steps to increase its oversightof entities involved in dealings with Iran and other states of proliferationconcern. In 1999, it passed a new export control law intended to strengthenrestrictions on the export of weapons of mass destruction, missile systems,and related technologies.

-- However, the government's weak enforcement of export control legislationhas facilitated some Russian companies' efforts to circumvent export controlsin the interest of financial gains.

Mr. Chairman, that concludes my prepared statement. I will attempt toanswer the Committee's questions within the constraints imposed on us bythe need to protect sensitive sources and methods. We would be delightedto present Committee Members with a more detailed assessment of Russianassistance to Iran's WMD and ballistic missile programs in a closed setting.

Our intelligence reporting and analysis also provides the underpinningsfor policy efforts to stop the flow of weapons-related technology to Iran.
return to menu



Section Menu:
2013
2012
2011
2010
2009
2008
2007
2006
2005
2004
2003
2002
2001
2000
1999


© 2007 Partnership for Global Security. All rights reserved. Privacy Statement.