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Nuclear News - 11/20/00
RANSAC Nuclear News, November 20, 2000
Compiled by Ethan Penfield and Christopher Ficek

A.  Nuclear Cities Initiative (NCI)
    1. Computing Center in the Russian City of Snezhinsk CommissionsNon-Weapons Related Jobs, Department of Energy (11/20/00)
    1. Ten Metric Tons of Russian Nuclear Material Secured Consolidationat Novosibirsk Latest Effort to Protect Nuclear Material Against Theft,Department of Energy (11/17/00)
    2. U.S. Says Nuclear Materials Secured In Russia, Reuters(11/17/00)
C. Deep Cuts
    1. Russia Welcomes U.S. Response to Putin's Nuclear Proposals,Agence France Presse (11/20/00)
    2. Clinton Says Further Arms Cuts Possible with Russia, Reuters(11/20/00)
    3. Seize the Moment, Ban the Bomb, John O. Pastore and PeterZheutlin, Los Angeles Times (11/19/00)
    4. Russian-US Deal On Reducing Their Nuclear Arsenals Possible:Clinton, Agence France Presse (11/19/00)
D.  Nuclear Power Industry
    1. Lawmakers Debate Bill On Nuclear Licensing, Ana Uzelac,Moscow Times (11/17/00)
E.  Nuclear Waste
    1. Atomflot Plant to Use New Radioactive Reprocessor in December,Military News Agency (11/20/00)
    2. Cold War Over, But Nuclear Contamination Lingers On,Lisa Cugini, UNISCI Daily (11/20/00)
    3. Tomsk Combine Admits Plutonium Discharge, Vladislav Nikiforov,Bellona (11/17/00)
F.  U.S. - Russian Relations
    1. Bush Adviser Calls for Rethinking Nuclear Strategy Vis-à-visRussia, Agence France Presse (11/17/00)

New at www.

Visit www. and read the translated transcript of a Press Briefingby Yuri Kapralov, Director of Russian Foreign Ministry Department for Securityand Disarmament, regarding new initiatives of the President of the RussianFederation in the field of nuclear disarmament and strategic stability.

A. Nuclear Cities Initiative (NCI)

Computing Center in the Russian City of Snezhinsk Commissions Non-WeaponsRelated Jobs
        Department of Energy
        November 20, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Former Ambassador Ronald Lehman, Director of the Center for Global SecurityResearch at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, joined with seniorofficials from the U.S. Department of Energy on Saturday, to commissionthe "Strela" Open Computing Center in Snezhinsk, one of 10 closed and formerlysecret nuclear cities in Russia.

"Commissioning the Strela Open Computing Center lays another brick inthe foundation of our work with Russia to reduce proliferation dangersand enhance the national security of both of our nations," said AmbassadorLehman. "This center will make it easier for Western firms to employ Russia'shighly skilled computer programming and software experts in non-weaponswork."

The Strela Open Computing Center ("Strela" translates to "arrow" inEnglish) will provide commercial research opportunities to former nuclearweapons specialists in computer software programming and modeling and computer-assistedengineering and design. Four projects with commercial support or interestwill begin immediately and include:

  • improving numerical simulation for wood composite manufacturing with VirginiaPolytechnic Institute;
  • developing multimedia data interchange and communication software componentsfor the Animatek World Builder;
  • developing genome sequence analysis tools with research partners at theLawrence Livermore National Laboratory for use in the pharmaceuticals industry;
  • improving mechanical engineering simulation code useful in the automobileand other industries with the Livermore Software Technology Corporation.
Five additional projects at the Strela Open Computing Center are expectedto get under way in the next several months. Taken together, as many as120 former weapons specialists are likely to be engaged in high-tech jobsin the first year, with the number expected to double in the followingyear as the city's capabilities and commercial opportunities become known.

The Strela Center was established under the Department of Energy's NuclearCities Initiative, a U.S.-Russian cooperative program designed to accelerateRussia's planned consolidation of its nuclear weapon complex, while alsolowering the risk that displaced Russian nuclear weapons specialists mightsell their know-how to countries of proliferation concern or terrorists.In addition to opening the Open Computing Center, the Department of Energyalso announced that it would provide $9.7 million in funding for new andongoing projects for Snezhinsk. This includes $3.9 million from NCI and$5.8 million from DOE's Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention, which,like NCI, is designed to prevent a "brain drain" of former Soviet weaponsof mass destruction specialists. The U.S. government funding is also expectedto leverage and attract additional investments from private industry andfoundations.
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Ten Metric Tons of Russian Nuclear Material Secured Consolidationat Novosibirsk Latest Effort to Protect Nuclear Material Against Theft
        Department of Energy
        November 17, 2000
        (for personal use only)

The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administrationtoday announced the completion of an effort to consolidate and secure approximately10 metric tons of weapons-usable nuclear material - enough material formore than 500 nuclear bombs - at the Novosibirsk Chemical ConcentratesPlant in Siberia, Russia.  The materials were moved from three separatestorage locations to a new central storage facility equipped with comprehensivenuclear material security and accounting systems.

"Today's announcement shows the continuing commitment of the UnitedStates and Russia to reduce the risk that terrorists or countries of proliferationconcern might acquire nuclear materials for use in a weapon," said SecretaryRichardson.  "It is essential we continue this vital work to protectAmerica's security and safety."

The systems were installed as part of the U.S.-Russian Material Protection,Control and Accounting (MPC&A) program, a cooperative effort with Russiadesigned to protect hundreds of metric tons of plutonium and highly enricheduranium against theft or diversion. Sizable consolidation projects arealso underway at large nuclear facilities like the Scientific ProductionAssociation in Luch and the Institute of Physics and Power Engineering(IPPE) in Obninsk. Consolidation efforts will reduce the number of storageareas by roughly 65 percent at these facilities, greatly increasing theefficiency by which DOE can ensure that attractive nuclear material inRussia remains secure now and well after DOE's work at the sites is complete.

The MPC&A program was launched in 1993 in partnership with Russiaand the New Independent States to correct serious deficiencies in systemsto secure nuclear materials against insider and outsider threats. Through this program, security upgrades are underway for 750 metric tonsof the estimated 960 metric tons of nuclear materials requiring security. The main thrusts of the program are to install modern physical securityand material accounting systems; reduce risks by consolidating materialsinto fewer buildings and converting highly enriched uranium to forms notusable in weapons; and promote sustainability by fostering the developmentof Russian capabilities to maintain security upgrades over the longer term.
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U.S. Says Nuclear Materials Secured In Russia
        November 17, 2000
        (for personal use only)

WASHINGTON, Nov 17 (Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Energy said Fridaythat 10 metric tons of weapons-usable nuclear materials, enough to make500 nuclear bombs, is now secured at a central storage facility in Siberia,as part of a joint U.S.-Russian program to prevent theft by terrorists.

"Today's announcement shows the continuing commitment of the U.S. andRussia to reduce the risk that terrorists or countries of proliferationconcern might acquire nuclear materials for use in a weapon," said U.S.Energy Secretary Bill Richardson.

The materials were moved from three separate storage locations to thecentral site at the Novosibirsk Chemical Concentrates Plant in Siberia.That site contains comprehensive nuclear material and accounting systems.

The systems were put in place as part of the U.S.-Russian Material Protection,Control and Accounting (MPC&A) program, an effort designed by the twonations to protect hundreds of metric tons of plutonium and highly enricheduranium against theft.

MPC&A was launched in 1993 in partnership with Russia and the NewIndependent States to correct deficiencies in systems to secure nuclearmaterials.

The Energy Department said security upgrades were underway for 750 metrictons of the estimated 960 metric tons of nuclear materials requiring security.

The main point of the program, according to the agency, is to installmodern physical security and material accounting systems; reduce risksby consolidating materials into fewer buildings; and converting highlyenriched uranium into forms not usable in nuclear weapons.
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C. Deep Cuts

Russia Welcomes U.S. Response to Putin's Nuclear Proposals
        Agence France Presse
        November 20, 2000
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW, Nov 20, 2000 -- (Agence France Presse) Russia welcomed Mondaywhat it called the United States's "quick and interested response" to aplan by President Vladimir for the two countries to slash their nucleararsenals.

Putin last week called for a reduction in the number of each country'snuclear warheads to less than 1,500 and pledged to try to end the standoffover the planned U.S. national missile defense (NMD) system.

In Monday's statement, the Russian foreign ministry noted in particularan apparent softening of line by Texas Governor George W. Bush's top foreignpolicy advisor Condoleezza Rice, a long-standing hawk on defense policy.

"Judging by incoming reports, Ms Rice welcomed the Russian side's readinessto bring the nuclear arsenals of Russia and the United States down to alevel that better suits present conditions," the ministry said.

U.S. officials have in the past opposed Russian suggestions that a newarms control treaty lower the number of warheads on each side to 1,500or less, citing earlier agreements in principle that the figure shouldbe in the 2,000-2,500 range.

Rice is expected to be appointed to the key post of National SecurityAdvisor in the eventuality that Bush becomes the next occupant of the WhiteHouse.
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Clinton Says Further Arms Cuts Possible with Russia
        November 20, 2000
        (for personal use only)

WASHINGTON, Nov 20, 2000 -- (Reuters) President Bill Clinton said inan interview on Sunday it is possible the United States and Russia couldagree to deeper cuts in their nuclear arsenals.

Speaking in an interview taped with CNN in Vietnam, Clinton also saidit could be irresponsible not to build a national missile defense (NMD)system if there was a high probability it could protect against missileshitting the United States.

"I think it is quite possible that we could agree to go down to fewermissiles in our arsenal and theirs. I think it's also important that therealso be fewer warheads," Clinton said, saying he did not want a proliferationof multiple-warhead missiles.

He gave no indication of how low the two sides might reduce their arsenals.

Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested Moscow was willingto talk about cutting its nuclear arsenal even more than the reductionto 1,500 warheads currently under discussion.

Another Russian official suggested there may be some more flexibilityin Moscow on allowing the United States to proceed with its plans for anational missile defense, a shield that would protect against incomingmissiles.

Moscow has previously bitterly opposed the NMD idea, arguing it wouldundermine the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty, which it viewsas a cornerstone of nuclear stability.

In the interview, Clinton said the "trick" would be to persuade Russia,China and others opposed to NMD that it was in their interest to developa system to protect against rogue states firing missiles at them and anyother countries that might wish to take part in such a system.

Earlier this year, Clinton chose not to proceed for now with the NMDplans, leaving the decision to his successor.

"If the technology existed which would give us high levels of confidencethat one or two or five or ten missiles could be stopped from coming intothe country, it would be hard to justify not putting it up," Clinton said.

"On the other hand, the reason I didn't go forward is I think it's veryhard to justify wrecking the existing treaty system, which has served usso well for so long, in effect, gambling that somehow, some day, some way,the technology will be there," he added. "We don't want to do that."

"The best way to proceed is to do the research and try to find a wayto bring these other countries into this," he told CNN in the interview,adding that all countries should have an interest in stopping a missilelobbed by a rogue states.

By deferring the decision on NMD, Clinton said he tried to "buy sometime" for his successor to sit down with the Russians, Chinese, Europeansand others to chart a way forward that would enhance their collective security.
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Seize the Moment, Ban the Bomb
        John O. Pastore and PeterZheutlin
        Los Angeles Times
        November 19, 2000
        (for personal use only)

While Americans were counting votes in Florida, Russian President VladimirV. Putin dropped a proverbial bombshell, likely to receive little noticegiven the postelection chaos.  Putin, too, is conducting a recount--ofhis nuclear weapons stockpile--and the numbers aren't adding up. With Russia'smilitary spending down to about $5 billion per year (compared with U.S.military spending of approximately $300 billion per year), and his economyin tatters, Putin knows that trying to maintain nuclear parity with theU.S. is a losing proposition.

Today, 10 years after the end of the Cold War, the U.S. and Russia retaintens of thousands of nuclear weapons, many of which, astonishingly, remainon hair-trigger alert, ready to be launched on a moment's notice. So lastweek, Putin went beyond previous calls for Russia and the United Statesto reduce their nuclear arsenals from current levels to 1,500 warheadsper side.  Without specifying a number, he said reductions could gowell below that number.  The U.S. should seize the moment.

The wrong conclusion to draw from Putin's offer is that the U.S. shouldhang tough and simply wait until Russia drops out of the nuclear weaponcompetition, clinging, perhaps, to a mere few hundred warheads.

First, even with a relatively small nuclear arsenal Russia could wreakincalculable devastation. Indeed, a 1998 New England Journal of Medicinestudy by Physicians for Social Responsibility reported that just 16 warheadsfired at U.S. targets from a single Russian Delta-4 submarine could causeas many as 6 million immediate deaths, and just as many, if not more, injuriesfrom radioactive fallout and other after-effects.  Under what circumstanceswould the U.S. possibly take such a risk?

Second, Putin's offer, even if made out of weakness, stands on its ownmerits, and the U.S. should accept the challenge. Earlier this year, theU.S., Russia and the more than 180 other nations that have signed the NuclearNon-Proliferation Treaty reaffirmed their obligation under the treaty toabolish nuclear weapons, stating that elimination of nuclear weapons was"an unequivocal undertaking." And, as recently as two weeks ago at theUnited Nations, the U.S. voted in favor of a resolution that calls forcomplete nuclear disarmament under international agreement. While the verylast steps in such a process are likely to be the most difficult, the U.S.can quickly move the world in that direction by reaching agreement withRussia to reduce nuclear arsenals to a few hundred.

Third, the world's last, best hope of preventing the further spreadof nuclear weapons lies in rapid progress toward a global ban on nuclearweapons. Ambassador Richard Butler, the Australian diplomat once chargedwith overseeing U.N. inspections of Iraq's nuclear weapons program, recentlystated in Boston that all of his experience leads to the conclusion thatas long as any nation has nuclear weapons, others will seek them. JonathanSchell, writing recently in Foreign Affairs, described the status quo thisway: "The current American policy is to try to stop proliferation whilesimultaneously continuing to hold on to its own nuclear arsenal indefinitely."

Under an international ban on nuclear weapons there is, of course, alwaysthe risk that a nation might cheat. However, the risks of defying the internationalnorm would be great for a such a state, far greater than in a world wherethe international norm is a world divided between nuclear "haves" and "have-nots."Indeed, in a world where the current nuclear powers had agreed to abolishtheir nuclear arsenals, there would be great unity of purpose in stoppingwould-be proliferators, and ample conventional military power to enforcethe international norm.

No treaty is perfect and all entail risks. A treaty banning nuclearweapons would be no exception. But which is the greater risk: to live indefinitelyin a world where thousands of nuclear weapons are on hair-trigger alertand more and more nations seek nuclear weapons, or a world in which anoutlaw nation may try to harbor a bomb in the basement?

Putin has put before the U.S. a bold proposal to significantly reducethe risk of nuclear war. The next U.S. president should say "da." It'stime to ban the bomb.

John O. Pastore Is Secretary and Peter Zheutlin Is Associate ProgramDirector of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War,Which Was Recipient of the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize
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Russian-US Deal On Reducing Their Nuclear Arsenals Possible: Clinton
        Agence France Presse
        November 19, 2000
        (for personal use only)

WASHINGTON, Nov 19 (AFP) - US President Bill Clinton said Sunday a US-Russiandeal on cutting the two countries' respective strategic nuclear arsenalswas "possible" but noted that more time was needed to convince Moscow ofthe merits of a missile defense system.

In an interview with CNN from Ho Chi Minh City where he was wrappingup a historic visit to Vietnam, the US leader commented on a proposal byRussian President Vladimir Putin to slash the number of warheads held byboth sides to below 1,500.

The two men discussed the issue on the sidelines of the Asia PacificEconomic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Brunei four days ago.

Cautioning that he did not want to say anything that "would compromisemy successor's options," Clinton however said: "I think its quite possiblethat we could agree to go down to fewer missiles in our nuclear arsenaland theirs."

"I think that it's important that there also be fewer warheads ... There'sa difference between missiles and warheads.  I don't think we oughtto go back to highly dangerous richly-armed MIRV missiles, multiple warheadmissiles, " he noted.

The key to a deal was to have a "target design that we believe is adequateto protect the United States and that our missile component will serve,"the US leader said.

"If we do that, then we could agree with them to reduce the number ofmissiles. And I'd hoped that we could get that done even beforehand. SoI'm encouraged by that."

He also commented on a US proposal for a National Missile Defense system(NMD) to guard against attacks by states like Iran, Iraq and North Korea.

"I think the trick will be somehow having the Russians and others withequity interests here believe that we all have a vested interest in tryingto develop enough missile defense to stop the rogue states and terroristsfrom piercing the barriers not only of the United States, but of Russia,China, of any other country that might want to participate," Clinton said.

The United States wants to amend the 1972 anti-ballistic missile treaty,the cornerstone of Cold War nuclear deterrence, to clear the way for theNMD.

Moscow believes the move could spark a new arms race and has threatenedto tear up existing weapons accords and halt disarmament talks if the UnitedStates takes unilateral action.

"What I tried to do was buy some time so my successor could sit downwith the Russians, with any others who are parties and interests -- andour European allies of course -- and tried to plot out a future that wouldleave us safer than we are today," the US president pointed out.

But he stressed the need to take into account the impact of these moveson the Indian subcontinent, where India and Pakistan are locked in a tensenuclear standoff, and "on the Chinese who might decide to build -- acquirea lot more missiles or develop them or not."
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D. Nuclear Power Industry

Lawmakers Debate Bill On Nuclear Licensing
        Ana Uzelac
        Moscow Times
        November 17, 2000
        (for personal used only)

A group of lawmakers is pressing hard for legislation that would awardlicensing rights for nuclear projects to the Nuclear Power Ministry, amove that ecology activists warn could lead to a loosening of environmentalsafeguards.

Nuclear power projects are now licensed by the State Nuclear SupervisionCommittee, a body independent of the Nuclear Power Ministry whose powersof supervising nuclear safety standards and the use of radioactive materialshave steadily been declining.

The committee lost its right to supervise nuclear energy in the defenseindustry over the summer, and the authority was handed to the Nuclear PowerMinistry.

The shift in licensing, which would require an amendment to existingnuclear legislation, would virtually strip the committee of its remainingpowers by allowing the ministry to authorize all activities connected tonuclear energy, committee spokeswoman Olga Zhelnova said by telephone Thursday.

Nuclear Power Ministry officials were unavailable for comment Thursday.

But the ministry appears eager to get its hands on the licensing rights.Deputy Nuclear Power Minister Bulat Nigmatulin submitted a bill to thateffect to the government last summer, but it was rejected.

A few weeks after the bill was thrown out, Nigmatulin's brother Robertand three other State Duma lawmakers proposed the bill that is now underdebate, a Duma representative said Thursday. The other three deputies areAnatoly Lukyanov of the Communist Party and Vladimir Karetnikov and VladimirKlimov, both of the pro-Kremlin Unity faction.

The proposal went under intense debate in Duma committees this week,the representative said.

The amendment could go up for vote as early as Wednesday, said RamazanAbdikeyev, an aide to Robert Nigmatulin.

"There are still some problems, but I hope we will be able to have itput up for vote in a first reading on the 22nd," he said.

He declined further comment.

Some environmentalists are harshly criticizing the proposed legislation,saying a group independent of the Nuclear Power Ministry's interests wouldperform more responsibly.

"This is similar to giving students the right to fill in their own marksafter an exam," Igor Farafontov, the head of environmental watchdog Greenpeace'sradiation program, said at a news conference this week.

Farafontov said that one of the ministry's first moves after being grantedthe right to license nuclear energy to the defense sector was to give agreen-light to the shipment of nuclear waste in special concrete containersfrom the Far North to storage sites throughout the country.

A State Nuclear Supervision Committee was concerned about the containers'safety and repeatedly refused to license them, a committee official said.

"There is absolutely no reason to trust that the ministry will behavedifferently once it gets the [new] right," Farafontov said.

The State Nuclear Supervision Committee was formed in 1992 to superviseboth the civilian and military use of nuclear energy. Its powers firstbegan to wan in 1993 when it lost the right to supervise nuclear weaponsand the nuclear reactors used on Russian fleets.
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E. Nuclear Waste

Atomflot Plant to Use New Radioactive Reprocessor in December
        Military News Agency
        November 20, 2000
        (for personal use only)

MURMANSK, Nov 20, 2000 -- (Military News Agency) Commissioning of mobilemodule system for liquid radioactive waste reprocessing with capacity ofannual 5,000 cubic meters will be completed at the Atomflot repair enterpriseby the end of December, a source in the Murmansk region administrationtold the Military News Agency.

The new system will fulfill almost 50 percent of Russian FederationNavy support tasks.

The Atomflot and the new system of liquid radioactive waste of low activitylevel clearing which is brought into operation in the Zvezdochka statedockyard enterprise in the town of Sevrodvinsk are supposed to solve theproblem of Russian written off submarines nuclear fuel reprocessing.

The Atomflot repairs Murmansk sea shipline's atomic iceboats and isa part of it. The company actively operates with written off submarinesscrapping according to the contract with the Northern Fleet signed a weekago.

For example, the Imandra floating technical base has already starteddumping used nuclear fuel from military A-ships.

Currently the Murmansk sea shipline provides reprocessing exportationfor some more than 50 percent of used nuclear fuel and plans to acceleratethis process up to 60 percent in 2001.
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Cold War Over, But Nuclear Contamination Lingers On
        Lisa Cugini
        UNISCI Daily
        November 20, 2000
        (for personal use only)

The Cold War may be long gone, but it has left a legacy of nuclear contaminationthat will endure and may have far-reaching environmental effects. Scientific investigations in the Russian Arctic into how radioactivityis transported through rivers and ocean currents reveal dangerously highlevels of radioactive elements in the marine environment that could eveneventually affect the waters off the coast of North America.

Environmental concerns about such radioactive contamination have ledto studies of Russian waste dumpsites, rivers, nuclear fuel reprocessingplants, and off-shore locations.

In one study, URI Graduate School of Oceanography chemical oceanographerDr. S. Bradley Moran, along with a team of U.S., Canadian and Russian scientists,has found some of the highest levels of radioactive plutonium ever measuredin the marine environment in the sediments of Chernaya Bay, a former SovietUnion nuclear weapons test site. These elevated levels could threaten thelocal fishing industry.

Moran's work is funded by a multi-year grant from the U.S. Office ofNaval Research and the National Science Foundation. His research was recentlypublished in Continental Shelf Research and Earth and Planetary ScienceLetters. It is also featured in the latest issue of Maritimes, the Universityof Rhode Island's marine science research magazine.

Moran and his colleagues have investigated this part of the Arctic Oceanto determine how much radioactivity has settled into the sediments aroundChernaya Bay and what effect, if any, this has had on the food chain.

"These questions have a bearing on radioactive plutonium in Arctic marinesediments and the environmental impact of the only recorded detonationof nuclear weapons in the Arctic Ocean," said Moran. "They also addressan important issue underlying many similar studies of the area: namely,the extent to which the Russian contamination represents a significantsource of nuclear contamination for North American off-shore waters."

Moran's research has revealed not only elevated levels of plutoniumin the sediments, but also high levels of radioactive cesium and cobalt. Measurements taken of organisms in the sediments indicate that radioactivecontamination has spread to the food chain.

Because of restricted water flow from Chernaya Bay, contamination tothe Barents Sea seems to be limited. However, measurements of sedimentsin the Barents Sea also indicate that the transport of plutonium from ChernayaBay did occur, probably at the time of the original nuclear tests.

Moran and his colleagues are currently investigating the possibilityof another transport pathway that is bringing plutonium from Chernaya Bayto the central Arctic ocean.
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Tomsk Combine Admits Plutonium Discharge
        Vladislav Nikiforov
        November 17, 2000
        (for personal use only)

A joint US-Russian study has found dangerous levels of radioactivityflowing into Russia's Tom River from the Siberian Nuclear Combine in Seversk(Tomsk-7). The combine admitted plutonium discharge.

The report by the U.S. and Russian scientists from organisation SiberianScientists for Global Responsibility and the US watchdog, the GovernmentAccountability Project, charged that the degree of radioactive contaminationmeasured in the Tom and the Romashka rivers is the highest in the world,Guardian reported. The source of the contamination � the Siberian ChemicalCombine � said the discharge was within norms and accidentally admittedthat plutonium has been released into the rivers as well.

The representatives from these organisations said they found caesiumand strontium-90 vastly exceeding safety levels in the rivers.  Butaccording to professor Panchenko, the more alarming fact is the presenceof high levels of phosphorus-32, which decays within a couple of weeks,meaning that the discharge was of very recent origin. Norm Buske, one ofthe American researchers, an oceanographer and physicist, said fish purchasedin a Tomsk market had radiation levels 20 times higher than normal.

The combine dismisses charges
Talking to Russian news agency Interfax, Nikolai Melnik, deputy headof the city administration for security, civil defence and emergency situationsin Seversk, has dismissed as �absolutely absurd� reports about high radiationlevels in the area near the chemical combine.  If the radioactivelevels really exceeded the natural background 30-folds, everything in thearea "would simply die out," he added. Chairman of the regional environmentalcommittee told Interfax that there has been no direct dumping of radioactivewaste into the rivers and all liquid radioactive wastes are pumped intounderground tunnels. The Russian Nuclear Ministry also claims that theSiberian Chemical Combine is operating in its usual manner and the environmentalsituation in the area is normal.

�and admits plutonium discharge
The representatives of the Siberian Chemical Complex stated, that thewater from the plant contains only three radionuclides: natrium-24, phosphorus-32,neptunium- 239, and their concentration in the point of discharge intothe river does not exceed the permitted limits for drinking water.

It was also mentioned that such negative information about the plantis plotted by foreign commercial competitors. The combine officials wouldnot specify which competitors they had in mind.

But the most alarming fact in the statement is about neptunium-239,which lives only 2.35 days and after decay transfers into plutonium-239with life-time of 24,119 years, meaning that plutonium has been accumulatingin the river sediments all the decades the combine has been in operation.

Siberian Chemical Combine
The Siberian Chemical Combine site was the next nuclear materials productionreactor and reprocessing site to be built in the former Soviet Union afterthe Mayak reprocessing plant. The site construction began in 1948 at alocation 25km north-northwest of the city of Tomsk (about 500,000 population)on the Tom River. Tomsk city limits are now 10km to 12km from the mainproduction facility of Siberian Chemical Combine in Seversk (Tomsk-7),the city located next to the Combine.  The world�s largest dischargesof radioactive wastes to the environment have occurred here � the combinationof underground injections and discharges to surface waters.

The two remaining plutonium-producing reactors in operation provide350 MW of electricity and 600 Gcal/hr of heat.  This meets the needsfor the combine, the associated city of Seversk, and 40% of Tomsk. In consent with intergovernmental agreement between Russian and the UnitedStates, these two reactors were to be converted by 2000 thus halting theproduction of plutonium. But the deadline was overridden and the projecthas entered a no-go stage.

Other major facilities are the uranium-enrichment plant (closed in 1990),the conversion plant, the chemical and metallurgical plant, and the fissilematerial storage.

The direct releases to the Tom river from the discharges of reactorcooling water, and possibly from migration from reservoirs and naturalponds lead to the higher levels of radioactivity in the Kara Sea in Arctic.The releases from the deep-well injection much likely have an impact onthe local environment and human health, which is getting especially actualafter the Combine�s statement about neptunium-239 discharge.
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F. U.S. - Russia Relations

Bush Adviser Calls for Rethinking Nuclear Strategy Vis-à-visRussia
        Agence France Presse
        November 17, 2000
        (for personal use only)

WASHINGTON, Nov 17, 2000 -- (Agence France Presse) Republican presidentialcandidate George W. Bush's top foreign policy adviser called Thursday fora review of a U.S. strategic nuclear relationship with Russia, saying itwas "high time" to rethink a strategy that dates to the Cold War.

However, Condoleezza Rica demurred on how a Bush administration wouldrespond to Russian President Vladimir Putin's proposal earlier this weekthat the two countries slash their nuclear arsenals to less than 1,500warheads.

"The numbers that the United States may or may not need to maintaindeterrence really needs to be determined by a U.S. internal review andI do not think should be held hostage to some kind of deal with the Russiansuntil we've done our own work," she said at a conference here.

"But that it is the time for a rethinking of the strategic nuclear relationshipwith Russia, and a rethinking of the requirements of deterrence I thinkis incontrovertible," she said.

In a wide-ranging speech on the security challenges facing a new U.S.president, Rice also touched on relations with China, national missiledefense and the role of the US military around the world.

She described Russia as a declining power with whom the United Statesand its allies nonetheless continue to have a large security agenda.

She mentioned missile defenses, de-alerting of nuclear forces, possiblecooperation with Moscow in dealing with instability in the trans-Caucasusas items in a "conversation well worth having with Russia."

But Rice, a Russia expert who served in president Ronald Reagan's nationalsecurity council, suggested Washington had gone too far in trying to shoreup Russia's economy, saying reforms had to come from the Russians themselves.

The U.S. security agenda with Russia "will only be clouded if we takeupon ourselves the responsibility for Russia's well being," she said.
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