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Nuclear News - 11/22/00
RANSAC Nuclear News, November 22, 2000
Compiled by Ethan Penfield and Christopher Ficek



A.  Russian Warhead Security
    1. Russia's Nuclear Safety 'A Sad History', The FreelanceBureau (11/22/00)
B. Russian Nuclear Forces
    1. Russian Strategic Forces to Lose Special Status, AgenceFrance Presse (11/22/00)
C.  Deep Cuts
    1. Putin Seeks Help From Blair On Nuclear Arms Cuts, PatrickCockburn, The Independent UK (11/21/00)
D. Russian Nuclear Power Industry
    1. News Update [Russian Nuclear Regulatory Agency], UraniumInstitute (11/14/00)
E.  Nuclear Waste
    1. Duma Postpones Hearing Of Nuclear Fuel Import Bills, Bellona(11/22/00)



A. Warhead Security

1.
Russia's Nuclear Safety 'A Sad History'
        The Freelance Bureau (www.flb.ru)
        November 22, 2000
        (for personal use only)

"Today teams of 26 people are enough to penetrate into a storehouseand grab a warhead and then leave the site."  "Sensors of the securitysystems established in nuclear storehouses, work at 50 percent of theircapacity."  "Of the 63.8 million dollars allocated with the Americansfor the increase in safety of Russian nuclear sites, half has gotten tointermediaries from non-governmental of Russian structures."

On January 10th, 2000 Russia officially recognized that it can no longerrely on its own army. At least such a conclusion can be made from the newconcept of National Security signed by Vladimir Putin at the beginningof the year. The experience of the Second Chechen War has shown that evenwhen the army extends itself in local conflicts there's a limit to it'scapabilities. Fighting capacity, in part, has fallen and so henceforthRussia can resist an enemy only with the aid of it's nuclear weapons. Andthat means that Russia could use a nuclear attack both on foreign enemiesor on internal enemies. But if the threat of a nuclear strike against aNATO member can be considered a foreign policy nightmare, the considerationof a strike within Russia's own territory has been seriously spoken aboutwithin the Defence Ministry. Generals have already hinted at the opportunityof using small nuclear tactical weapons in the Chechen mountains.

But this is simply the point of view of the general army. Those in chargeof Russia's nuclear forces have a different opinion.

The officers from 12th Directorate of the military, answerable for thesafety of nuclear weapons, consider that they have already loudly threatenedall the world with a nuclear stick. But Russia, for some reason has forgottenthat it is necessary sometimes keep any weapon well-oiled.

A frank conversation with a guardsman of Russia's nukes

"In our country prisons and detention centers are protected much betterthan the storehouses for nuclear weapons," asserted officer N. who hasserved in the 12th Directorate for almost thirty years, "And I, for one,cannot gurantee that no one, no where, will be able to get their handson a nuclear weapon.  In principle, any terrorist organization haseverything it needs for this purpose: They can preprepare experts, quietlyenough work out their plan, study the security systems and carry out aseizure attempt.  It doesn't take so many people. It means maybe 26men could carry out such a terrorist act if they are adequately preparedand equipped."

Q: Are there official figures?  A: "The official figures on thisestimate simply don't exist.  But any officer that has ever planneda similar operation, having studied the security systems of the 12th directorate,will name you this figure. Operating alone the group would incur heavylosses but twenty six men is quite enough to penetrate a storehouse, graba weapon, and escape the site."

Q: But in a storehouse, like any other military site, should at leasthave a minimum of security?

A: "The creation of the sites of the 12th directorate were begun underBeria, in 1947. Then there was only one priority, that the site could sustaina nuclear impact.  About terrorists one simply didn't think, the entireterritory of the Soviet Union was tightly closed; by the militia, by theKGB and by other special services. So the question of the penetration bycovert groups did not come up at all. Officially, it was thought, theywould be destroyed upon arrival [in the country]. So the problem of organizingthe so-called physical protection of sites, security systems, signals andsensors simply didn't exist."

This approach was kept and now the territory around the storehousesof nuclear weapons is not supervised by the FSB. Basically, you can quietlycollect mushrooms one hundred meters away from a warehouse, where thereis ordnance, without breaking the law. On the sites there are two zones,general (unprotected) and technical (protected). But this 'protection'is three lines of barbed wire which has not been, as a rule, installedwith a signal system. Inside the technical territory there is directlyaround the structure a local zone which should be protected 24 hours aday. But in reality the sensors of the signal system work at only fiftypercent capacity. So, Russia's nuclear weapons are protected only by amassive gate at the storehouse capable of withstanding a powerful explosivewave.

Q: But there are also sentries?

A: "Certainly, but in the structure of the 12th directorate the postof a the chief of security for a site isn't perhaps all that prestigious. The salary of the officers seldom exceeds $70 a month.  The sitesare located far away from cities, so wives are unable to find work. Exact figures I won't name, but the shortage of personnel at some placeshas already surpassed fifty percent."

Q: There is an extensive enough program of aid, in which the USA isengaged, and at a minimum there are five separate committees. If you trustthese reports, America alone has spent more than $60 million just on perfectingthe transportation of Russian nuclear weapons.  And another $63.8million on the security of these sites.

A: "With regards to American help there is a sad enough history. The deal is that the first problem is the physical protection which forus was begun with the Ministry of Atomic Energy in 1982. A large amountof money was allocated into the program, working groups were created, butall ten programs which were tested at the site at Tula were consideredtoo expensive and inefficient. And when at the beginning of the '90s theAmericans offered financial and technical help, there were already allocatedby those working groups under the roof of the Ministry tens of non-governmentaloffices.

Q: You mean to say that money has simply been plundered?

A: "For the most part the money stayed in the USA.  They paid themeans of production to firms in the USA.  By the time it reached Russia,I can't accuse anybody, but for sure out of every 10 dollars spent by theAmericans 5 were used, at best. And the method used was very simple. Having received an order, paid for by the Americans, for the productionof special concrete fences, for example, the order was placed with theclassified contractor which immediately inflated the cost. They also increasedthe cost from confidentiality.  Then they sent charges to Washingtonfor installation of this fence although in reality they used a militarydetachment; ten soldiers, a sargeant and two sledgehammers. Thus, the costof of the simple fence grew up to the heavans.

In reports to the Americans they brought American standard quotationson materiale and labor. If you look at these papers one brick brought tosomewhere near Saratov cost three dollars and the worker at the factoryreceived 1000 dollars a month [average wage for a Russian factory workeris $15 a month]. We also received computers from the Americans and thenmade them pay to check whether or not the computers were bugged. As forthe special cars for transportation of the ordnance special metal casesweighing twenty kilograms were also under construction.

Q: But wasn't the result of the work shown to the Americans?

A: They built 'Potemkin Villages' of the newest type for the visit ofofficial delegations, equiping this unique facility with the full treatment. They built them especially for visiting American generals.  The firstexhibition was made at the site near Tula. But in 1996 officers wives therebegan to riot protesting that their husbands hadn't been paid. They blockedthe entrance to the site. Afterwards the site was abandoned, the nuclearsweapons were removed and the officers transferred. The majority of themnow work in Moscow region.  They have inhabited a former kindgergartenwith a common kitchen and toilet.  And they sent all the modern sensorsand security system to another site in the Volga region. General EugeneHabiger, former Commander in Chief of the US Strategic Commander [a visitwhich Habiger approved of wholeheartedly see www.fas.org/new/russia/1998/980630-rus.htm],visited this site in the Summer 1998.

Though to tell the truth, at many sites the Americans did put in fireprevention and anti-emergency systems.  But in regards to anti-terroristprotection of the sites it has almost no effect.

Q: In 1990, during the heat of the Armenian-Azerbajiani conflict, thereappeared in the Western Press reports of an attempt by an Islamic fundamentalistgroup to seize one of the nuclear warehouses near Baku.

A: I don't know anything about that. I can only say that in 1996 a groupof Chechens which had been monitoring a nuclear site for two weeks wasdetained. We detained them by mere chance.
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B. Russian Nuclear Forces

1.
Russian Strategic Forces to Lose Special Status
        Agence France Presse
        November 22, 2000
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW, Nov 22, 2000 -- (Agence France Presse) Russia's strategic missileforces are to lose their special status and will gradually be absorbedinto the three remaining military branches -- the air force, army and navy,a senior military official said on Tuesday, cited by agencies.

"The entire world now fights wars in three areas: air, land, and sea,"explained General Yuri Baluyevsky, adding that the change will be completedby 2005, Interfax said.

The announcement follows a reform proposed several months ago by armychief-of-staff General Anatoly Kvashnine, who has been at loggerheads withthe current defense minister, Marshal Igor Sergueyev.

Sergueyev's political future has been the subject of intense media speculationrecently.

Kvashnine's proposal also calls for a drastic reduction in the numberof Russia's strategic missiles in order to divert funding to conventionalforces.  Russian President Vladimir Putin recently announced he maypropose to the United States a respective cut in the number of nuclearwarheads to below 1,500.

Putin recently announced a drastic reduction of army personnel.

Baluyevsky said the cuts could affect up to 365,000 soldiers and 120,000civilians working for the defense ministry.

Russia will create or improve rapid intervention units, capable of swiftaction in the northern Caucasus and central Asia, he added.
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C. Deep Cuts

1.
Putin Seeks Help From Blair On Nuclear Arms Cuts
        Patrick Cockburn
        The Independent UK
        November 21, 2000

President Vladimir Putin will meet Tony Blair today to seek supportfor his plan for radical cuts in Russian and American nuclear arsenals.

The Russian leader has shown in recent weeks that he is deeply concernedby the decline of the Russian armed forces and the threat posed to theRussian nuclear deterrent by US plans to develop a missile defence system.He has suggested Russia and America cut the number of their nuclear warheadsto 1,500 each.  Reductions in the British nuclear deterrent wouldcome at a later stage.

Russia is eager to get Mr Blair and other Western European leaders toput pressure on the United States not to build the nuclear defence system,known as "son of Star Wars", which would undermine existing agreementson the limitation of nuclear weapons.  Mr Blair, who arrived in Moscowyesterday, has said he is ready to mediate on the issue.

Mr Putin has said Russia cannot afford to replace its existing nuclearmissiles at the end of their operational life.  The total Russianmilitary budget will be $7bn (about ?5bn) next year compared with the $290bnspent by the American armed services.  The commander of the RussianStrategic Rocket Force says 80 per cent of his men live below the povertyline, compelling some to take second jobs to feed their families.

At a meeting of senior military officers in Moscow yesterday, Mr Putinsaid there had been a serious decline in the number of educated Russianofficers and, for the first time, 30 per cent of regimental commandershad not been through higher education.  The three million men in thearmed forces are to be cut by one-fifth.

The future of the Russian nuclear deterrent is even bleaker than MrPutin has painted it.  Dr Bruce Blair of the Center for Defence Informationin Washington said the Russian navy could keep only one or two of its 26ballistic missile submarines.  The Russian Strategic Rocket Forces,which had 350 mobile missiles, could deploy only a single regiment, withnine SS-25 missiles, to covert locations.

The submarine-launched and mobile missiles are at the heart of the Russiannuclear deterrent because missiles in silos are vulnerable to a US attack. The issue is of great importance to Moscow because its possession of alarge nuclear missile force is the one remaining basis for its claim tobe a world power.

As surveillance satellites and radars wear out, Russia's early-warningsystem is increasingly insufficient.  Dr Blair says Russia is likelyto compensate for the decreasing quality of its nuclear forces by keepingthem on hair-trigger alert, and there is a growing danger of an accidentallaunch.

In 1995 Russia, alarmed by the launch of a scientific rocket in Norway,started a countdown towards launching its nuclear missiles.

The American proposal for a National Missile Defence system has increasedRussian fears.  President Bill Clinton has said he will leave thedecision to his successor.  The chances of it being constructed arelikely to increase if George W Bush becomes President.

The US says Russia should not worry about its anti-ballistic missiledefence system because it will never be strong enough to stop an overwhelmingRussian attack.  But if Russia has only 500 operational warheads,as is possible in 10 years, it would be vulnerable.

Underlining Moscow's interest in closer defence links with Britain,Marshal Igor Sergeyev, Russia's Defence Minister, is to visit London between6 and 8 December to discuss nuclear missile defence and strategic weapons,Russia's Defence Ministry said.

* Mr Putin's desire to strengthen his hold on the media was made clearyesterday when Yevgeny Kiselyov, a leading journalist, was summoned tothe Moscow prosecutor's office. The prosecutor said Mr Kis-elyov was questionedabout the security service of Media-Most, a broadcasting and publishingempire that owns NTV, an independent television channel. The state gasmonopoly, Gazprom, became the biggest shareholder in Media-Most last week.
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D. Russian Nuclear Power Industry

1.
News Update [Russian Nuclear Regulatory Agency]
        Uranium Institute
        November 14, 2000
        (for personal use only)

[NB00.46-13] Russia's nuclear safety authority, GAN, is reported tobe asking western regulators to help it fight a bid by Minatom to absorbnuclear regulatory activities. The proposal is part of Minatom ministerYevgeny Adamov's strategy to centralise nuclear activities, including plantoperator Rosenergoatom and fuel fabricator TVEL, within Minatom. According to GAN chairman Yuri Vishnevsky, draft legislation to organisethe country's nuclear infrastructure could be voted on by the State Dumanext month. Draft legislation to bring licensing and safety analysis activitiesunder Minatom control were rejected by the Council of Ministers in 1999.(Nucleonics Week, 9 November, p6; see also News Briefing 00.30-12)
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E. Nuclear Waste

1.
Duma Postpones Hearing Of Nuclear Fuel Import Bills
        Bellona
        November 22, 2000
        (for personal use only)

The Russian State Duma postponed indefinitely Wednesday the first hearingof the bills calling for amendment of the federal legislation in favourof spent nuclear fuel imports.

Two bills to amend the Law on Environmental Protection and the Law onApplication of Atomic Energy as well as a new law, which outlines the programsto recover the radioactively contaminated areas with funds earned on spentfuel leasing, were to pass the first hearing in the State Duma on November22.  But a sudden request filed by two Duma members from the pro-governmentalUnity faction postponed the hearing for indefinite time. The request suggestedcome back to the hearing after the Duma members have read the environmentalimpact study for the bills.

The Russian Ministry of Nuclear Energy has been lobbing the spent fuelimport project during the last couple of years.  The government andDuma environmental committee supported the proposal.  But RussianNGOs collected more than 2,5 million signatures to arrange a national voteagainst the project, saying it will turn Russia into an international nucleardumpsite.
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