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Nuclear News - 10/16/00
RANSAC Nuclear News, 16 October 2000
Compiled by Ethan Penfield and Christopher Ficek



A.  START
    1. U.S. Officials In Moscow For Talks On Afghanistan, NuclearDisarmament, Associated Press (10/16/00)
B. Export Controls
    1. Senate Passes Export-Control Legislation, Washington File,Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State(10/13/00)
C. U.S. Stockpile
    1. Bill Would Give Push To 'mini-nuke', Steve Goldstein,Philadelphia Inquirer (10/16/00)
D. Nuclear Waste
    1. Nuclear Protests - Niet Thanks, Sky News (10/16/00)
E. Russia - Iran
    1. Russian Security Chief In Iran, BBC (10/16/00)
    2. Clinton Questioned On Russian Arms, David Ho, AssociatedPress (10/14/00)
    3. US Plays Down Russian Flouting Of Agreement On Iran Arms Sales,Agence France Presse (10/13/00)



A. START

1.
U.S. Officials In Moscow For Talks On Afghanistan, Nuclear Disarmament
        Associated Press
        October 16, 2000
        (for personal use only)
 
MOSCOW –– Undersecretary of State Thomas Pickering arrived in Moscowon Monday for talks on Afghanistan's involvement in international terrorism,officials said.

Russia and the former Soviet republics in Central Asia are worried bythe advances of Afghanistan's hardline Taliban militia, which controlsabout 95 percent of the country's territory.

Russia has troops in Tajikistan, next door to Afghanistan, to help guardthe border against incursions by militants and drug-smugglers.

Undersecretary of State John Holum was also expected in Moscow on Mondayfor talks on nuclear disarmament and missile defense systems.

Holum was expected to meet with Russia's Yuri Kapralov, director ofthe Foreign Ministry's Security and Disarmament Department, and DeputyForeign Minister Georgy Mamedov, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported, citingdiplomatic sources. The sides were expected to discuss the proposed STARTIII arms reduction treaty.

The previous, START II treaty reduces warheads to 3,000-3,500 on eachside. The START III originally envisaged both sides cutting to about 2,000warheads, but Russia has suggested bigger cuts.
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B. Export Controls

1.
Senate Passes Export-Control Legislation
        Washington File, Officeof International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State
        October 13, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Washington -- The U.S. Senate has voted to reauthorize for less thana year a Cold War-era export-control law that expired more than six yearsago as a temporary fix to deal with pending legal challenges.

Attempts to rewrite the law, the Export Administration Act (EAA), havefailed for a decade because of division in Congress between members associatedwith national security and business interests.

Since August 1994 when the EAA expired, President Clinton has used anemergency law to maintain the system of export controls on computers, machinetools and other advanced technology operated by the U.S. Department ofCommerce.

EAA extension has become more urgent for the Clinton administrationin 2000, however, as lawsuits moving through federal courts threaten confidentialbusiness information collected under the export-control system.  Suchinformation was explicitly protected under the EAA but not under emergencylaw.

The bill passed in the Senate by voice vote October 11 would reauthorizethe expired law only through August 20, 2001, giving supporters of comprehensiveEAA reform some time in the next Congress to try to pass it.

It differs completely from a one-year bill passed by the U.S. Houseof Representatives September 25, which would not reauthorize the EAA butwould affect only two elements of it.

One House bill provision would increase substantially penalties forexport-control violations, which are weaker under the emergency law thaneven the lapsed EAA.

The other House provision would restore retroactively to August 1994the EAA's business confidentiality protection.

Not certain was whether the House would accept the Senate bill or insiston a House-Senate conference to work out a compromise.  A CommerceDepartment official said the Clinton administration could accept eitherbill as a temporary solution to the business confidentiality problem, giventhe absence of comprehensive EAA reform.

"The House bill dealt primarily with increasing penalties.  Weneed to increase penalties, but it needs to be done in the context of balancedreform," Senator Mike Enzi, Republican of Wyoming, said in a written statement. "The Senate's simple extension of the 1979 act results in an increase inpenalties, but the change is not drastic.

"Another concern was the threat of lawsuits being brought against thecurrent system.  By extending the 1979 act I believe this threat willbe alleviated."

"Our country needs comprehensive reform of its export control system,"Enzi said, adding that the temporary extension will give Congress timeto produce a "modernized EAA that reflects the realities of technologicaladvances and a post-cold war environment."
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C. U.S. Stockpile

1.
Bill Would Give Push To 'mini-nuke'
        Steve Goldstein
        Philadelphia Inquirer
        October 16, 2000
        (for personal use only)
 
The legislation would allow limited research of what critics call a"user-friendly" nuclear weapon.

WASHINGTON - Congress is poised to authorize research on a new generationof weaponry that includes low-yield nuclear devices known as "mini-nukes,"which critics say could set off a fresh round of nuclear testing.

Opponents called the research plan the first step toward the developmentof a "user-friendly" nuclear weapon.

"The development and deployment of a weapon with a relatively smallexplosive yield would be extremely dangerous, precisely because the militarywould regard it as 'usable,' " said Martin Butcher of Physicians for SocialResponsibility, a nonproliferation advocacy group.

The Pentagon and the Energy Department will study weapons designed tobe used against "hardened" and deeply buried targets, such as missile silos,stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, or Iraqi dictator SaddamHussein's command bunker.

The legislation, championed by leading Senate Republicans, is containedin the final 2001 defense authorization bill due to be approved by Congressthis week.

In what antinuclear groups view as a partial victory, their backersin Congress added a time limit on the study to restrict the potential developmentof a new nuclear weapon.

"We've basically kicked the can down the road," said David Culp of theFriends Committee on National Legislation, a lobbying group. "It means,for the next year, bad things are not going to happen."

Culp predicted the fate of mini-nukes would rest with a new administration.

"Gore probably wouldn't pursue it," he said, "but a Bush administrationwould likely continue the research."

The impetus for the provision on "mini-nukes" - defined as weapons ofa yield of five kilotons or less - came in 1999, when the Pentagon askedfor assistance from the Energy Department's weapons labs to develop devicesthat could defeat hardened and deeply buried targets.

At that time, Energy's general counsel ruled that a provision in a 1994spending law barred the labs from the research and development of precisionlow-yield nuclear weapons.

This year, Sens. John Warner (R., Va.) and Wayne Allard (R., Colo.)sponsored a provision that was intended to overcome that legal obstacle.Their bill required the secretaries of defense and energy to conduct sucha study and authorized the nuclear weapons labs to "conduct any limitedresearch and development that may be necessary."

Warner urged the development of these new weapons, saying: "There isa dwindling industrial base and dwindling category of people to build weapons."

Other advocates of the mini-nukes contend that the United States isrestricting its war-fighting options by having only large nuclear weaponsin its arsenal.

Although the word nuclear did not appear in the legislation, it wasunderstood that the research could include nuclear as well as conventionalweapons.

Opponents of the bill were further alarmed by a discussion paper distributedby the Los Alamos National Laboratory last summer that said a five-kilotonnuclear device, with precision targeting, could destroy a bunker or hardenedmissile silo.

Stephen Younger, the lab's associate director of nuclear weapons, saidlow-yield weapons offered the advantage of "reduced collateral damage."That is, fewer people would be killed.

The bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945 had the power of 15 kilotons,or 15,000 tons of TNT. Some modern nuclear weapons have yields of morethan 1,000 kilotons.

Foes of the legislation argued that the development of these mini-nukescould lead to new testing that would gut the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty,already battered by its rejection in the Senate last year.

Low-yield nuclear weapons are controversial, moreover, because theyare generally regarded as tactical or battlefield weapons, and thus morelikely to be deployed. Existing nuclear weapons, with their immense destructivepower and large-scale radiation consequences, are considered self-deterring.

In August, 26 Democrats sent a letter to Rep. Ike Skelton of Missouri,the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, objecting tothe provision and arguing that only conventional bombs should be consideredin the study.

"The resumption of nuclear test explosions that will result from sucha program involving nuclear weapons would increase rather than decreaseour national security and undermine U.S. and international nonproliferationefforts," they wrote.

What resulted when Senate and House conferees met was a compromise:The research and development would be authorized, but only until July 1,2001, when the report of the defense and energy secretaries would be dueto Congress.

Both congressional staffers and the antinuclear lobbyists agreed thatthis deadline would severely curtail research into mini-nukes.

Furthermore, no money is specifically allocated for the study.

In the Senate version of the energy and water appropriations bill, $6million was provided to the Energy Department for the purpose of studyingweapons that could defeat hardened and buried targets. That money, knownas an "earmark," was removed in the final version of the bill.

Thus, the research at the weapons labs will be conducted, but it willbe more difficult to devote resources to the task - which heartens theantinuclear community.

Staff members of the Armed Services Committee have noted that the legislationmerely seeks to see if additional technologies and capabilities are requiredfor the task.

"We do have nuclear weapons that can do that job, but they are kindof a big stick," said a staffer who asked not be named.

The B-61 thermonuclear bomb, redesigned in the early '90s, has a 50-kilotonyield that can penetrate 100 meters into solid rock. A new weapon wouldideally penetrate deeper.

One other "fail-safe" provision restricts the development of mini-nukes.

If a study does recommend building low-yield nuclear weapons, additionallegislation would be required to overcome the original prohibition on suchdevelopment. The ban was placed in the fiscal 1994 defense authorizationact by then-Rep. Elizabeth Furse (D., Ore.) and Rep. John M. Spratt Jr.(D., N.C.).

"At the end of the day, that's why Spratt could live with this provision,"said the staffer, who works for the House Armed Services Committee. "Theymight be able to bring mini-nukes to the brink of testing, but that's aboutit."
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D. Nuclear Waste

1.
Nuclear Protests - Niet Thanks
        Sky News
        October 16, 2000
        (for personal use only)

They made a bizarre sight, as they came to dish the dirt on Russia’snuclear ambitions, writes Sky's correspondent in Moscow, Geoff Meade.

Half a dozen young protestors in white overalls and gas masks nimblyunfurling ten yards of black and yellow banner reading, in Cyrillic andEnglish the message: “Don’t let Russia become the World’s Nuclear Dustbin.”

A rare environmental demonstration just across the road from the Kremlin.

Where there's muck

But the muck they poured on the doorstep of the Parliament Buildingin Moscow made an even more chilling point.

Four bowls of soil brought from gardens around the Mayak nuclear reactorin the southern Ural Mountains, complete with a small Geiger counter stillshowing it was emitting forty times the safe level of background radioactivity.

Galia Gatiyatulina had come from the village of Chudoyberdinsk to tellthe world about the affects still being felt in her community of criminallycareless practices and a nuclear accident decades ago.

Slow process

“Slowly, our village is dying. Its birth rate is so low because thosewho were girls then are still contaminated. The radiation has made sterileone in four women of child-bearing age.”

For four years at the start of the Soviet Union’s nuclear programme,toxic liquid was dumped into local rivers. In 1957, a quarter of a millionpeople were put at risk when a liquid waste storage tank exploded.

It was the world’s worst nuclear accident, until Chernobyl.

Billion dollar industry

Yet Mayak is one of four sites being considered by the Russian governmentfor waste storage on a vast scale. A proposed change in the law againstimporting foreign waste is being tabled.

It would allow the cashapped government to earn an estimated $14billion by shipping in 20,000 tonnes of spent reactor fuel from the USA,Far East and Europe.

“The world needs to wake up,” warns Mike Townsley of Greenpeace International,the protest organisers. “This is the equivalent of a bribe to the Russiannuclear industry.

Track record

Given this region’s abysmal record of nuclear safety to send waste herewould be courting catastrophe. It should be dealt with in the countrieswhich produce it.”

Russia’s constitution guarantees a referendum for any cause that raisestwo million signatures. Since collecting names in July the campaignershave crossed that threshold, but need to gather another five hundred thousandto be sure.

They have until the end of October to submit their request to the authorities.

They have achieved much. But this summer’s loss of the Kursk nuclearsub and the fire at Moscow’s Ostankino TV tower indicates infrastructuredisasters waiting to happen.

Money talks

Some of the world’s dirtiest industries survive here, suggesting manyin Russia are still prepared to put the certainty of a wage packet abovescience few care to contemplate.

With police beginning to take an interest, as quickly as it had beganthe protest was over. The banner furled away, demonstrators disappearinginto the crowds.

The irradiated soil? It was cleared away by Parliament’s maintenancestaff. The environmental activists are determined to prevent the lawmakersinside sweeping the issue under the carpet.
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E. Russia - Iran

1.
Russian Security Chief In Iran
        BBC
        October 16, 2000
        (for personal use only)

One of Russia's most senior security officials is in Tehran for talkswith Iranian officials on cooperation in security and other fields.

The official, Sergei Ivanov, runs the powerful Russian Security Councilwhich is chaired by President Putin.

A statement said Mr Ivanov's talks would focus on security in CentralAsia, which it said was facing a real threat of international terrorismfrom the territory of Aghanistan.

It said he would also be discussing economic cooperation, includingthe devlopment of the Caspian Sea with its large oil reserves. The BBCRussian affairs analyst says the Security Council is now the key decision-makingbody in Russia.
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2.
Clinton Questioned On Russian Arms
        David Ho
        Associated Press
        October 14, 2000
        (for personal use only)

WASHINGTON –– Four Republican senators are asking the White House toexplain reports that Vice President Al Gore brokered a deal in 1995 allowingthe delivery of Russian arms to Iran.

Under a 1995 agreement signed by Gore and Russia's then-Prime MinisterViktor S. Chernomyrdin, the United States allowed Moscow to fulfill existingsales contracts for conventional arms to Iran on condition that Russiawould end the sales by the end of 1999, The New York Times reported Friday.

In return, Washington agreed not to seek penalties against Moscow undera 1992 law that bans such sales to countries that sponsor terrorism, thenewspaper said. Moscow continues to supply Tehran with arms, over the protestsof the Clinton administration.

In a letter to President Clinton, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott,along with three members of the Foreign Relations Committee – Sens. JesseHelms, R-N.C., Sam Brownback, R-Kan., and Gordon Smith, R-Ore. – said theywere "astounded" and "truly disturbed" to learn the details the deal.

"Please assure us that this is not the case and that the vice presidentdid not, in effect, sign a pledge with Victor Chernomyrdin in 1995 thatcommitted your administration to break U.S. law by dodging sanctions requirements,"the senators said in the letter dated Friday.

White House spokesman Jake Siewert said the deal was old news.

"The agreement was made public at the time, and Congress was given theopportunity to know more about it five years ago," Siewert said. "So ifthey want to know more about it now, they should look to themselves."

The senators agreed that the Foreign Relations Committee was briefedin mid-1995 on what the State Department called an "understanding" betweenthe Clinton administration and Russia concerning weapons sales, but theysaid the written text of that understanding was never given to the Senate.

The senators questioned whether Gore had the legal authority to makethe agreement and if it should have been submitted for congressional review.

"The Gore-Chernomyrdin deal would appear to have been negotiated withoutrespect to other laws and regulations that govern the process by whichexecutive branch agreements may be concluded," the senators said.

Gore spokesman Chris Lehane has said the agreement was part of a broadstrategy to prevent the sale of advanced conventional arms to Iran. Headded that Russia has not made new arrangements to sell arms to Iran buthas only delayed the delivery of sales that were made before the agreement.

In a separate statement, Smith said the Clinton administration had allowedRussia to become the biggest source of weapons in the Middle East.

"The Russians have almost single-handedly armed the government of Iranwith everything from combat aircraft and diesel submarines to nuclear weapons-relatedtechnology," he said. "The vice president owes the Congress and the Americanpeople an explanation for his actions, and an indication of how he intendsto rectify the damage that has been done to U.S. security."
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3.
US Plays Down Russian Flouting Of Agreement On Iran Arms Sales
        Agence France Presse
        October 13, 2000
        (for personal use only)

WASHINGTON, Oct 13 (AFP) - The United States on Friday played down Russia'sviolations of a 1995 pact on ending arms sales to Iran, saying the intentof the agreement had been met.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the aide-memoire --signed by Vice President Al Gore and then-Russian prime minister ViktorChernomyrdin -- had been effective, rejecting implications to the contrarycontained in a report in Friday's New York Times.

"The aide-memoire that was signed by (Gore) and the Russian prime ministerwas clearly in America's national security interest," Boucher told reporters.

He allowed that Russia was not in compliance with the deal because ithad continued to deliver certain weaponry to Iran past an agreed December31, 1999 cut-off date, but noted that Moscow had kept a pledge not to signany new arms sales contracts with Tehran.

"They're continuing the delivery of the weapons covered under the aide-memoire,"Boucher said.

"But the operative thing is that ... they haven't signed new contractsand they haven't sold weapons that might be sanctionable ... and we'reall safer because we've done this aide-memoire because we've managed tocurb the sales of weapons to Iran," Boucher said.

The agreement allowed Russia to complete existing sales contracts withIran for specific weapons, including a submarine and hundreds of tanks,by the cut-off date.

In exchange, the United States promised not to seek sanctions againstRussia under a 1992 law which punishes countries that sell advanced weaponryto nations designated state sponsors of terrorism by the State Department.

The weapons Russia was to supply Iran were a Kilo-class diesel-poweredsubmarine, 160 T-72 tanks, 600 armored personnel carriers, numerous anti-shipmines, cluster bombs and a variety of long-range guided torpedoes and othermunitions for the submarine and tanks, the New York Times said.

Boucher denied an implication in the Times report that the pact wasintended to bypass the law, as the weapons covered in the aide-memoirewould not have drawn sanctions because the contracts for them pre-datedthe legislation, and because they did not meet its standard of "advancedconventional weapons."

But he said the United States had complained to Russia that it had notcompleted the transfers by the deadline in the agreement, and was opposedto a Russian request to extend the deadline.

"We have made clear in no uncertain terms in our discussions that wedon't approve of that extension," he said. "That is the one issue that'sunder dispute that is involved here."

After learning that deliveries continued after the deadline, US Secretaryof State Madeleine Albright sent a classified message to her Russian counterpartIgor Ivanov warning that "continued transfers to Iran could be subjectto sanctions under relevant US laws," the Times reported.

Boucher did not deny that Albright had sent such a message but saidthe negative effects of Russia's violation of the pact were not as direas the Times made out, as Moscow had not signed any new contracts withTehran.

"They have not expanded the scope of the understanding, nor do we believethat they have signed new contracts for advanced conventional weapons,"he said.

Boucher also denied that the Gore-Chernomyrdin agreement had been keptsecret, maintaining its existence was disclosed at the time it was signed.

The Times said that while the pact was mentioned by Gore after he signedit in Moscow, the 12-paragraph document listing the weapons Russia wouldsupply to Iran and the US commitment not to seek sanctions was not disclosedto the US Congress or the public.
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