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Nuclear News - 12/01/00
RANSAC Nuclear News, December 1, 2000
Compiled by Ethan Penfield and Christopher Ficek

A. Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) Deal
    1. Little-Noticed Decision to Privatize America's Uranium PlantsCould Destroy Effort to Reduce Russia's Nuclear Arsenal, Author Writesin Latest Milken Institute Review, Business Wire (12/01/00)
    1. Arms Talks Continue, Despite U.S. Election Deadlock, RFE/RL(12/01/00)
    2. US, Russia Keep Arms Talks Warm For Next President, ElaineMonaghan, Reuters (11/30/00)
C.  Russian - Iranian Relations
    1. Russia to Build 2nd Iran Reactor, Vedomosti (12/01/00)
    2. Iran Places Order For Second Nuclear Reactor, RFE/RL (12/01/00)
    3. Defense Minister Might Visit Iran This Month, RFE/RL (12/01/00)
    4. No Comment From Moscow on Report That it Will Supply Armsto Iran, Agence France Presse (12/01/00)
    5. Russian Defense Minister Planning Trip To Teheran, RFE/RL(11/28/00)
D.  Russian Nuclear Forces
    1. Pentagon Says it Expects Russian Bomber Missions near AlaskaSoon¸  Associated Press (12/01/00)
    2. Russia Poised To Test U.S. Air Defenses Again? RFE/RL(12/01/00)
E.  U.S. - Russian Relations
    1. 205 Days of Putin: Geopolitics and Nuclear Security [presentationtranscript], Rose Gottemoeller, Carnegie Endowment for InternationalPeace (11/28/00)
G.  Nuclear Waste
    1. Nuclear Plebiscite Is Spiked By CEC, Anna Badkhen, St.Petersburg Times (12/01/00)
    2. Radioactive Contamination of the River Don, GlasnostFoundation (12/01/00)
    3. Russian Greens To Fight Ruling Barring Referendum, Reuters(11/30/00)
    4. News Update [Russian Import of Nuclear Waste], UraniumInstitute (11/28/00)
H.  Russian Nuclear Power Industry
    1. EU Has Invested 317 Million Euros in Russian Nuclear PlantsSafety¸ Agence France Presse (12/01/00)
    2. No Emergencies Occur At Russian Nuclear Reactors Last Month,Itar Tass (12/01/00)
    3. Mayak Gathers Public Support For New NPP, Edward Meilakh,Bellona (11/30/00)
    4. Three Uranium Mines Will Be Constructed In Russia, Pravda(11/30/00)

A. Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) Deal

Little-Noticed Decision to Privatize America's Uranium Plants CouldDestroy Effort to Reduce Russia's Nuclear Arsenal, Author Writes in LatestMilken Institute Review
        Business Wire
        December 1, 2000
        (for personal use only)

LOS ANGELES, Dec 1, 2000 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- What's the worst that canhappen when America's national security interests collide with privateenterprise's economic interests?

How about nuclear destruction?

That may be putting it too harshly, but not by much, according to HarvardUniversity's Richard Falkenrath, who argues that Congress and the WhiteHouse have bumbled one of the most important anti-proliferation effortsof the post-cold war era.

In an article in the latest issue of The Milken Institute Review, "UraniumBlues," Falkenrath says the federal government's decision in the early1990s to privatize its two plants for making commercial nuclear reactorfuel put the interests of making a few bucks for the U.S. Treasury abovethe need to dismantle post-Soviet Russia's vast stockpiles of nuclear weapons.

[The complete article can be found at
Adobe Acrobat is required to view this file]
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Arms Talks Continue, Despite U.S. Election Deadlock
        December 1, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Georgii Mamedov and U.S. Deputy Secretaryof State Strobe Talbott met on 30 November for another round of arms talks--oneof the last under U.S. President Bill Clinton's administration. Reutersquoted an unidentified U.S. official as saying that "people are very interestedin keeping the momentum going" until it has been decided who will be takingover at the White House. According to that same official, one of the topicson the agenda of the current round of talks is Moscow's intention to resumeconventional arms supplies to Teheran.
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US, Russia Keep Arms Talks Warm For Next President
        Elaine Monaghan
        November 30, 2000
        (for personal us eonly)

WASHINGTON, Nov 30 (Reuters) - The United States and Russia kept armscontrol talks alive on Thursday, seeking to ensure continuity in one ofthe world's most important foreign policy dialogues despite the delay innaming the next U.S. president.

"People are very interested in keeping the momentum going, particularlyon the strategic dialogue on offense, defense and proliferation issues,"a U.S. official said.

"They want to make sure it's all teed up for the next people who comein," he added.

He was speaking after Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, pivotalin President Bill Clinton's Russia policy, held one of his last roundsof talks with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Georgy Mamedov.

Their goal has been to agree upon the pace of arms cuts in the massivenuclear arsenals built up during the Cold War without wrecking their defensesor upsetting the balance on international arms treaties.

No breakthroughs are expected from their talks, which end on Friday,though they may meet again before Clinton's administration closes shopon Jan. 20, the official said.

Without the delay in naming the next U.S. president due to a bruisinglegal battle over who won more votes in the state of Florida, Mamedov wouldhave known at least what political shade of counterpart he would be dealingwith after Jan. 20.

Analysts say their main sticking point will not go away. Talks havebeen stymied over whether the United States should build a National MissileDefense (NMD) to protect itself from missile attack from states consideredunpredictable, including North Korea, Iran and Iraq.

The Clinton administration would have liked to get further in arms talkswith Russia, convincing Moscow to agree to amend the Anti-Ballistic MissileTreaty (ABM) of 1972 so Washington could build the system, which uses missilesto shoot down missiles.

The two U.S. presidential contenders have different positions on anNMD. Democrat Al Gore has said he would examine a missile defense systemto shield U.S. territory while seeking agreement from partners like Russia.

Republican George W. Bush has said he would build a broader system,even if it meant pulling out of the 1972 treaty.

Critics say the system could make the world more dangerous instead ofsafer, arguing that amassing any missiles only encourages others to buildmore to outflank the U.S. defense.

A key concern for the United States is whether Russia is doing enoughto prevent nuclear materials and technology it amassed during the Sovietyears from being spread from its territory.

The United States is also anxious to find out more about Moscow's intentionstoward Iran, a subject that came up at the discussions on Thursday, theofficial said.

Moscow is due on Friday to pull out of a pact sealed in 1995 by PrimeMinister Viktor Chernomyrdin and Vice President Gore under which Russiaended conventional arms exports to Tehran at the end of 1999.


Apart from arms, they touched another sore spot -- the case of EdmondPope, a retired naval intelligence officer on trial in Moscow for allegedlyobtaining secret data on a torpedo.

The United States strongly denies that Pope was a spy and believes himwhen he says he was just trying to do business.

Clinton has asked President Vladimir Putin to intervene because the54-year-old suffers from bone cancer and faces up to 20 years in prison.His entreaties have prompted no action.

Talbott and Mamedov, who also discussed China, North Korea and Afghanistan,laid the ground for meetings between their respective defense and foreignministers at the North Atlantic Council in Brussels next month.
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C. Russian - Iranian Relations

Russia to Build 2nd Iran Reactor
        December 1, 2000
        (for personal use only)

While the United States is preoccupied with deciding who should be president,Russia is busily expanding its links with Iran f something that alwaysprovokes sharp criticism from the United States.

The Iranian parliament decided Wednesday to give Russia the contractto build a second reactor at the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran, NuclearPower Ministry spokesman Andrei Yedemsky said.

Nuclear Power Ministry enterprises are the main contractors for buildingthe first reactor. Construction is due to be completed by 2003.

Yedemsky said building the second reactor will be more profitable forRussia.

Ivan Sofranchuk, an expert at the Center for Policy Studies, estimatedthe work on the first unit to be worth $800 million to $1 billion. Thecontract was never made public.

Iran has for years been considering Russia for construction of additionalreactors. Therefore it is unlikely that the new contract will come as acomplete surprise to the U.S. administration.
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Iran Places Order For Second Nuclear Reactor
        December 1, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Quoting Andrei Yedemskii, a Nuclear Power Ministry spokesman, "Vedomosti"reported on 30 November that Iran has asked Russia to build a second nuclearreactor at the Bushehr nuclear power plant. Last year, Nuclear Power MinisterYevgenii Adamov said that Iran had reaffirmed its intention to commissionadditional power units at Bushehr (see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 13 December1999). According to "Vedomosti," a contract for the second reactor wouldbe worth about $1 billion.
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Defense Minister Might Visit Iran This Month
        December 1, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Igor Sergeev told Interfax on 30 November that he may visit Teheranbefore the end of the year. Iran, he said, is a "reliable partner" withwhom Russia is ready to "develop mutually advantageous military and technicalcooperation." Sergeev added that all dealings between the two countrieswill be carried out in accordance with international law and will contributeto security in the region. Moscow recently announced that it is withdrawingfrom its commitment not to supply Iran with conventional arms, promptingthe U.S. to threaten to impose economic sanctions on Russia (see "RFE/RLNewsline," 27 November 2000).
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No Comment From Moscow on Report That it Will Supply Arms to Iran
        Agence France Presse
        December 1, 2000
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW, Dec 1, 2000 -- (Agence France Presse) Russia's foreign ministrywill not comment on Western media reports alleging that Moscow plans totear up a secret accord banning arms sales to Iran, the Interfax news agencyreported Thursday.

The ministry will not comment confidential documents, the ministry'spress service said in reference to a letter that Russia's Foreign MinisterIgor Ivanov allegedly sent U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

According to a Washington Post report last week, the letter informedAlbright that Moscow plans to scrap an accord signed by Vice PresidentAl Gore and former Russian prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin.

The secret agreement, leaked to the New York Times last month, assuredRussia that it would not face sanctions if it stopped supplying conventionalarms to Iran after December 31, 1999.

The foreign ministry officials said that Russia had agreed to a meetingof US-Russian experts to consider mutual concerns over arms trading, especiallywith regard to Iran.

The news agency also quoted unnamed diplomatic sources saying that Russiais by no means certain to resume arms sales to Iran, though the leak ofthe secret accord came as an unpleasant surprise to Moscow.
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Russian Defense Minister Planning Trip To Teheran
        November 28, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Igor Sergeev is planning to visit Iran, Colonel General Leonid Ivashov,the head of the Russian Defense Ministry's international department, toldjournalists in Tokyo on 28 November. ITAR-TASS quoted Ivashov, who is accompanyingSergeev on a trip to Japan, as saying that preparations for the minister'svisit to Teheran have already begun. He did not say when the visit wouldtake place, but the news agency quoted unidentified sources as saying itcould be as soon as January. Ivashov was also quoted as saying that Moscowand Teheran have many common interests, including the development of militarycooperation. Russia recently announced that it is withdrawing from itscommitment not to supply Iran with conventional arms (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"27 November 2000). The U.S. State Department, meanwhile, has said thatnext week Washington and Moscow will hold talks at expert level on Moscow'splans to resume arms sales to Iran as well as on nuclear disarmament.
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D. Russian Nuclear Forces

Pentagon Says it Expects Russian Bomber Missions near Alaska Soon
        Associated Press
        December 1, 2000
        (for personal use only)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Russian air force has moved several Tu-95 Bearbombers to air bases in northern Siberia and may be planning soon to flythem close to U.S. airspace off Alaska, officials said Thursday.

Kenneth Bacon, spokesman for Defense Secretary William Cohen, indicatedthe Pentagon sees no threat in the Russian moves and considers them aneffort to bolster the public image of a military in decline.

Bacon said it fits a recent pattern of Russian air training and surveillanceand suggested the Russians remain trapped in "Cold War thinking" despitethe collapse of communism and the end of the nuclear arms race.

"We regard the Cold War as being over," Bacon said, even though U.S.forces still monitor Russian forces.

Within the last few days the Russians moved several Bear bombers toAnadyr air base, in far northeastern Siberia near the Bering Sea, and threeBear bombers were sent to Tiksi air base, in north-central Siberia on theLaptev Sea, Bacon said.

Bear bombers are propeller-driven, long-range aircraft capable of launchingnuclear weapons.

"We would anticipate that in the next few days they might fly one orseveral of these planes up through the Bering Straits and close to Alaska,"Bacon said. "We are well-trained, and we're ready to deal with these episodes."

The last time the Russians deployed bombers over the Bering Sea wasMarch 5-6, the spokesman said.

Bacon's comments appeared designed to pre-empt a Russian claim to havepenetrated U.S. air defenses off Alaska. The Russians twice this fall flewwarplanes near the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk in the Sea of Japanand afterward released photographs showing they had approached the carrier.

The earlier episodes showed the Russians are "perhaps lodged deeplyin Cold War thinking," Bacon said. He dismissed suggestions that, in allowingthe Russian planes to approach the Kitty Hawk, the Navy had let down itsguard.

"These planes were acquired by the battle group's radar at some distanceoff; they were followed," Bacon said. In the October incident, there wasa delay in launching interceptor aircraft from the Kitty Hawk because thecarrier was refueling and lacked the wind speed to get planes airborne,he said.

"If the Navy had felt there was an emergency under way, they could havebroken off the refueling, accelerated the carrier and launched the planes,"Bacon said. "I think the fact is, there was nothing about either of theseincidents that led the Navy to believe that anything out of the ordinarywas happening, that they were under any particular threat or that theyneeded an extraordinary response."
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Russia Poised To Test U.S. Air Defenses Again?
        December 1, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon told journalists in Washington on 30 Novemberthat five Russia long-range "Bear" bombers have recently been deployedin Anadyr, Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, and Tiksi, Sakha Republic (Yakutia),in what he said appears to be preparations to test U.S. defenses in Alaska.During the Cold War, the "Bear" bombers regularly approached the Alaskancoast to monitor how quickly U.S. fighters could respond. Bacon also confirmedthat Sukhoi-24R reconnaissance planes flew in the vicinity of the "USSKitty Hawk" aircraft carrier in the Sea of Japan, but he denied that theRussian planes had penetrated U.S. air defenses and taken the U.S. Navyby surprise (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 November 2000).
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E. U.S. - Russian Relations

205 Days of Putin: Geopolitics and Nuclear Security [presentationtranscript]
        Rose Gottemoeller
        Carnegie Endowment for InternationalPeace
        November 28, 2000
        (for personal use only)

MS. GOTTEMOELLER: Thank you, Tom. And may I say how happy I am to beappearing in this venue and to see so many friends and colleagues aroundthe room.

Based on our successful experience in the 1990s, the arms control communityhere in Washington has begun to concentrate on the notion that the momentumin U.S.-Russian nuclear relationships should be on the less formal side,modeled on threat reduction and nonproliferation cooperation of the Nunn-Lugartype, and there has, indeed, been remarkable progress in this area. We'vehad a very close and effective working relationship developed in many instanceswith the Ministry of Defense, the 12th Main Directorate, the agency responsiblefor security of nuclear weapons, the Russian Federation Navy, and the Ministryof Atomic Energy.

A decade ago, we could never have imagined that the United States andRussia would be working together inside nearly every major site in theRussian nuclear complex, improving the security of Russian nuclear weaponsand materials, and accelerating the elimination of Russian launch platformsunder the SALT I treaty, but we are. We have been assuming that successfulcooperation of this less formal type would replace more formal negotiatedarms control agreements. The experience of the past decade would not onlyguide but actually dominate our arms control and nonproliferation cooperation,providing the environment and experience base for a whole panoply of cooperativeefforts, all of them less formal than traditional negotiated agreements.

Parallel unilateral measures and strategic arms reduction have recentlybeen prominent in that regard. The most extreme view of this position mightbe expressed as, it doesn't matter that we're abandoning the negotiatingtable, we still have Nunn-Lugar cooperation. A less extreme version towhich I subscribe myself is that the experience of Nunn-Lugar cooperationcan inform and technically guide our cooperation in nuclear arms reduction,helping to underpin a less formal and more fast moving approach.

Now, however, I am beginning to wonder, and the reason I am beginningto wonder is because the first communication of Russian President Putinwith our new president, whomever he might be, is a rather formal proposalon strategic arms control. It sounds very much like the proposals we wereaccustomed to seeing at critical junctures in the late Soviet period. Thebig headline of the statement was: Putin's proposal to cut strategic armsto 1500 by the year 2008, rather than the 2000 to 2500 number previouslyagreed in the Helsinki statement. This wasn't news since the Russians hadlong promised this kind of reduction, if we were willing to accept it.But, Putin did offer to go even lower. He also agreed to examine all issuesrelated to the ABM Treaty citing the obligation to do so stemming fromthe treaty itself. All in all, the statement was a reaffirmation of thebilateral arms control agenda.

Now, why did Putin use his first communication with the new U.S. presidentto make such a statement? I can think of three reasons. First, engagementin this arena is an important legitimizing factor for the Russian president.If the Russian president does not have the bilateral arms control agenda,there are precious few reasons for him to pick up the phone and call theU.S. president.

Second, the Russians are being driven by the normal imperatives of negotiation.The Russian nuclear forces are coming down in size anyway. They might aswell renew their efforts to get something from the United States in return.

And, third, the Russian interagency is programmed for a formal armscontrol process, while less formal areas of cooperation have little bureaucraticstructure and procedure within the Russian government, there is a longstandingtradition of bilateral nuclear arms control, particularly in the strategicarena.

This factor has gained in importance in my view as Putin's rise in powerhas brought the security services to new prominence. In fact, this lastfactor leads me to my major point of emphasis today, which actually contradictsmy earlier enthusiasm for the potential of a less formal approach to nucleararms control. Based on recent experience, I believe that we will have difficultymaking headway in Moscow with a less formal approach to arms control becausethe government superstructure in Russia simply cannot support it, eitherprocedurally, bureaucratically, or legally.

Inside the U.S. government, we've been hearing increasingly from Russianinterlocutors that each trip to implement threat reduction and nonproliferationcooperation is being scrutinized very tightly. They hear repeatedly fromthe security services that there is no legal basis to allow foreignersto work inside the nuclear or defense complex. This negative attitude isaffecting a wide range of projects, including a number of very longstandingones in material protection, control, and accounting, inside Minatom facilities.

Russian interlocutors say that Putin will have to speak to this issueto resolve it in the Russian system. In effect, he would be investing thecooperation with his personal blessing, which is a very Czar-like approach.Another simple solution may be wider dissemination in the Russian systemof the body of umbrella and implementing agreements governing the threatreduction and nonproliferation and cooperation, all of which provide foraccess to Russian facilities. There is no doubt over time that a solutioncan be found. But, at the same time, I think we need to be aware at thisjuncture of the limits to flexibility in the Russian system. This is trulythe post, post-Cold War era, and things are not so easy anymore. An informalapproach to arms control is likely to be dogged by barriers in the Russiansystem, and specifically by an aversion to risk-taking by the Russian playersinvolved.

The good news, however, and I do think there is good news, is that thereseems to be a great deal of ferment in Moscow on the future of strategicarms control policy. The Putin statement was one sign of it. Another wasthe extraordinary media exchange between the commander-in-chief of thestrategic rocket forces, General Yakovlev, and Ambassador Kapralov, thechief of the arms control directorate in the foreign ministry. The mainpoint of their exchange, which took place over a couple of days the weekbefore last, was Kapralov's critique of Yakovlev's apparent willingnessto engineer a trade between strategic offensive and defensive systems,thus seeming to open the door to a more flexible Russian approach to theABM treaty. I have since heard from SRF contacts that Yakovlev was, infact, misquoted by the military news agencies, so I leave you to take thatwith a grain of salt.

Last week, we had a roundtable presentation by Sergei Rogov, the directorof the USA-Canada Institute presenting one set of ideas, including someof these ideas on the offense/defense tradeoffs, and we do have a copyof this paper available if anybody's interested. It's on the table in thefoyer outside. But from what I hear from Moscow, there are a lot of otherideas circulating, and a discussion of policy options is very strong andactive. In fact, I found more interesting than Yakovlev's comments on strategicdefenses, whether he made them or not, were his remarks that he made tothe Vremya TV news program on November 14th. He said that the StrategicRocket Forces were being asked to perform an experiment, examining overthe next year how to maintain combat readiness with far fewer forces, aconcrete task with very important implications for the future of the armsreduction process.

Equally interesting is the door that Putin left open in his statementto a new approach to the strategic arms reduction agenda. Putin mentionedthat reductions to 1500 warheads could be carried out either together orin parallel, either in traditional negotiated reductions, or in a parallelunilateral approach. He mentions at the same time making use of the treatyand legal mechanisms of the START I and START II treaties. He thus seemsto be open to combining the speed of unilateral measures with the implementationand monitoring basis of the START treaties, the existing START treaties.

I have heard separately from other Russian nuclear specialists thatthey are attracted to an approach that goes down the middle between thePresidential Nuclear Initiatives of the early 1990s, and the very formalnegotiations process of the START I treaty. How this would work out inprocess, I think is very much open to question, very much open to discussion,but I think the ferment in Moscow should be encouraging to the new administration.Engagement on nuclear matters can be rapid, and has the potential to beproductive, depending, of course, on what happens when the two sides getdown to discussing all issues affecting the ABM treaty.

Thank you.
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G. Nuclear Waste

Nuclear Plebiscite Is Spiked By CEC
        Anna Badkhen
        St. Petersburg Times
        December 1, 2000
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW - The Central Elections Commission on Wednesday dealt a blowto environmentalists' hopes of blocking the import of spent nuclear fuelinto the country, turning down the 2.5 million signatures they collectedin support of a national referendum.

Nuclear Power Minister Yevgeny Adamov has been aggressively lobbyingfor a change in the federal law that states that Russia cannot accept foreignspent nuclear fuel for long-term storage. He argues that by changing thelaw, Russia could earn billions of dollars that could be put to good use.

Environmentalists, including the World Wildlife Fund and Greenpeace,fear this would turn Russia into a nuclear dump and turned to a referendumto prevent the law from being changed.

The referendum would have asked whether voters opposed the importationof radioactive materials for storage, reprocessing or burying.

But citing numerous technical inaccuracies, the Central Elections Commissionon Monday struck off more than a fifth of the 2.5 million signatures collectedacross the country this fall, leaving the environmentalists with just over1.8 million signatures - 200,000 short of the 2 million needed to forcea referendum.

A bill introduced by Adamov that would amend the law is tentativelyscheduled for hearings in the State Duma on Dec. 19. Had the CEC agreedto accept at least 2 million of the collected signatures, the hearing wouldhave had to have been canceled, as stipulated by the referendum law.

But now, environmentalists say, there is nothing to stop the Duma frompassing Adamov's bill, which would allow his ministry to go ahead witha deal to accept up to 20,000 tons of spent fuel from 14 countries in Asiaand Europe for 50 years of storage.

"The authorities do not allow people to use democratic means to preventRussia from being turned into a radioactive dump," said Vladimir Slivyak,a leader of the Moscow-based Ecodefense! group, one of the groups behindthe referendum drive.

A CEC spokesman said its experts disqualified the 600,000-plus signaturesbecause of numerous violations: missing signatures, wrongly stated passportnumbers, and so on.

But Slivyak and other activists said the real reason was that the electioncommission was ordered to block the referendum by the government.

"[CEC Chairman Alexander] Veshnyakov did as he was told [by the Kremlin],"said Thomas Nilsen, a researcher at the Norwegian environmental group Bellona,which supported the referendum drive.

Igor Farafontov of Greenpeace and Alexei Yablokov, former PresidentBoris Yeltsin's environmental adviser, said they will challenge the CEC'sdecision in court.

"Of course, we will not get back all the signatures we need, but itwill draw attention to the issue," Yablokov said. "It would be simply stupidfor the Duma, for the government, to ignore the people's wish to keep theircountry clean of nuclear junk."

But according to Nilsen, chances of the Duma passing the bill next month"are very high."

"There are no more obstacles for the bill to be passed," he said ina telephone interview from Oslo.

The Nuclear Power Ministry could not be reached for comment.

By amending the federal law, Ada mov would nail down a spent fuel importdeal he has been nursing for over a year with U.S.-based Non-ProliferationTrust. None of the spent fuel, however, would come from the United States.

The deal, Adamov says, would raise tens of billions of dollars, whichcould be spent on anything from cleaning up the sites of nuclear catastrophesto paying off the International Monetary Fund.

And under the deal, after 50 years the fuel is to be sent back to itscountry of origin. Speaking with foreign journalists on Tuesday, Adamovdenied that Russia intended to import nuclear fuel for disposal.

Environmentalists, though, are skeptical that the spent fuel will everbe sent back. They have only to look to Kozloduy - a Bulgarian power plantthat struck a deal with Adamov's ministry to have its spent fuel storedin Russia earlier this fall - that said in October that its fuel will neverbe returned to Bulgaria.

Reprocessing makes the fuel less dangerous but still produces uranium,plutonium and huge quantities of radioactive wastewater.

The referendum would also have asked voters whether they supported theexistence of a separate state environmental protection agency and of astate forestry service.

In May, President Vladimir Putin by presidential decree closed the StateEnvironmental Committee and the State Forestry Committee, handing theiraffairs over to the Natural Resources Ministry - the body that licensesoil drilling and metals mining, and which the green movement says is itselfone of the major environmental violators.
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Radioactive Contamination of the River Don
        Glasnost Foundation
        December 1, 2000
        (for personal use only)
Contamination Of The River Don - Rostov Region

The Volgodon environmentalist organization "Green Wave" has found thatsilt from the river Don and soil samples taken in the area below Novovoronejskayaatomic power station contain dangerous levels of radioactive contamination.

For example, samples from the woods surrounding the station and Novovoronejcity showed a radiation level of 1587 Bk/kilogram of radioactive cesium137, although the notice board of the Russian Atomic Power Ministry showedambient background radiation levels of only 10-12 mkR/h.

The findings came from "Green Wave's" efforts to determine if the Novovoronejskayaatomic power station, positioned upstream, was the source of contaminationof silt in Tsymlyanski water reservoir (up to 150 Bk/kilogram). Their samplesshowed contamination by cesium 137 of over 6000 Bk/kilogram, and ?- radiationof this sample, of over 500 mkR/h (admissible background radiation is 20mkR/h).

Such contamination of soil and silt requires their burial in specialcontainers. The Green Wave's shocking findings have jolted Volgodonsk residentsinto organizing a committee against radioactive pollution of the riverDon.


The meeting of the Rostov region administration devoted to the organizationof a safety zone around the Rostov Atomic Power Station (APS) was heldon November 22 by Serguei Nazarov, the region's minister of fuel and energy.According to current law, the safety zone extends to a radius of 3 kilometers.

Any activity within the zone is forbidden and it must be constantlychecked for radioactivity. An observation zone consists of a radius of30 kilometers, where 230,000 people are now living. Special medical centerswill be organized to constantly examine their health. Serguei Nazarov stressedthat the safety of APS operation is the main task and the station willnot be started unless it passes all safety measures required by the specialistsof the State Sanitary Commission and Emergency department of Rostov region.
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Russian Greens To Fight Ruling Barring Referendum
        November 30, 2000
        (for personal use only)
MOSCOW, Nov 30 (Reuters) - Russian environmentalists vowed on Thursdayto fight a decision by election authorities to throw out more than halfa million signatures from a petition calling for a referendum that wouldbar imports of nuclear waste.

The Central Election Commission on Wednesday refused the petition, sayingmany of the signatures were not authentic.

Campaign group Greenpeace said the decision trampled on the rights ofthose who signed.

Environmental groups, led by Russia's chapter of Greenpeace, said lastmonth they had gathered more than two million signatures needed to launcha referendum on whether to bar nuclear waste imports and maintain an independentenvironmental agency.

"Hundreds of thousands of Russian citizens, whose signatures were notdeemed to be genuine, are gathering to defend their right to express theirwill," Greenpeace said in a statement.

The statement said signers would appeal to local courts to challengethe decision and probably also to the Supreme Court.

It said according to Russian legislation, court cases should start nolater than in 10 days time.

The referendum bid was a response to the Kremlin's plans to merge itsforestry, ecological and mining agencies, and also plans by the AtomicEnergy Ministry to import nuclear waste to store or treat for other countriesfor a fee.

The referendum would guarantee environmental and forestry agencies remainedindependent and forbid the import of radioactive materials for storageor treatment.

The environmentalists say they gathered more than 2,490,000 signatures,but the Commission only recognised 1,873,216.

"The result did not surprise us because the practice of free expressionof will is not very common in this country," said Alexander Sidiakin, alawyer for the group organising the referendum bid. "But we are not goingto surrender."

The statement said most of the signatures that were not recognised hadbeen rejected on technicalities.
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News Update [Russian Import of Nuclear Waste]
        Uranium Institute
        November 28, 2000
        (for personal use only)

[NB00.48-13] The Russian government has submitted a portfolio of billsto the Russian parliament aimed at boosting the imports of foreign spentfuel for storage and reprocessing. The bills would allow Russia to earnat least US$20 billion by importing up to 20 000 tonnes of foreign spentnuclear fuel over the next 10-20 years, with the income being used to financethe development of Russia's own infrastructure of domestic spent nuclearfuel and radioactive waste. (NucNet News, 393/00, 23 November) A subsequentreport suggested that the Duma had postponed debate on the issue indefinitely.(Spent Fuel, 27 November, p4; see also News Briefing 00.33-19)
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H. Russian Nuclear Power Industry

EU Has Invested 317 Million Euros in Russian Nuclear Plants Safety
        Agence France Presse
        December 1, 2000
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW, Dec 1, 2000 -- (Agence France Presse) The European Union hasinvested some 317 million euros (275 million dollars) over nine years toensure safety in Russia's nuclear plants, its representative in RussiaRichard Wright said Thursday.

"About 16 percent of the EU's Tacis program total budget was grantedto security projects at Russian nuclear plants," Wright told a press conference.

Tacis was created in 1991 after the break up of the Soviet Union tohelp Eastern European, Caucasus and central Asian nations strengthen democracyand develop market economies.

The EU has invested a total of two billion euros (1.7 billion dollars)in 1,500 Russian development projects under the Tacis program.

Security at Russian nuclear plants is progressing because of the Tacisprogram, said Dmitri Guering, director in Russia for the Belgian companyTractebel which is helping to modernize the nuclear plant in Kalinin, 250kilometers (155 miles) northwest of Moscow.

"Almost all Russian nuclear plants now work in partnership with French,German, British or Finnish companies," he added.

The world's worst civil nuclear accident occurred in 1986 at Chernobyl,Ukraine, then part of the Soviet Union.
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No Emergencies Occur At Russian Nuclear Reactors Last Month
        Itar Tass
        December 1, 2000
        (for personal use only)

MOSCOW, December 1 (Itar-Tass) -- Russia did not register any incidentscapable of bringing down the security level at its nuclear and radioactiveinstallations in November this year, a spokesman for the State Atomic EnergyInspection said on Friday.

Automatic protection systems at nuclear power plants turned on onlyonce last month, when a relay broke down at Reactor Three of the Novovoronezhplant, the spokesman said. The incident also resulted partially from anerror of the personnel, but the situation did not go out of control andthe radiation level did not exceed regular limits.

As to research nuclear reactions, their automatic protection turnedon twice in November. Both incidents occurred at the state research centreof the Physics and Energy Institute, located in the town of Obninsk southof Moscow.

Besides, a nuclear reactor was shut down in the Research and DevelopmentInstitute of Nuclear Reactors, situated in the town of Dimitrovgrad. Thepersonnel decided to stop the reactor, as a defect was exposed in a weldedjoint. The incicent did not affect the radiation level.
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Mayak Gathers Public Support For New NPP
        Edward Meilakh
        November 30, 2000
        (for personal use only)

(Chelyabinsk): While envirogroups are recovering from the defeat withfailed environmental referendum, their opponents have started collectingsignatures in support for building of the South-Ural nuclear power plant.

Officials at the Mayak reprocessing plant announced that they had startedcollecting signatures in the Chelyabinsk region in support for the constructionof the South-Ural nuclear power plant. The nuclear industry is taking inuse the tactics of NGOs, which they despised earlier.

Commenting on the signatures collected by environmental groups all overRussia for a national environmental vote, nuclear officials said "technicalquestions must be resolved by experts, without any public involvement".But now they feel a need to rely on the public opinion as well in attemptto get support for the construction of the highly controversial South-Uralnuclear power plant.

The forms used to collect signatures have no fields such as 'place ofresidence' or 'passport number'. Therefore there is a way open for forgery.

Sociologist Nadezhda Kutepova from the closed nuclear city of Ozersksays she fears the signatures will be collected in Ozersk only. This citytotally depend on the Mayak reprocessing plant, and the population willbe naturally supportive towards a new nuclear power plant.

"Anyway, we can expect that the collected signatures will be used onlyfor a political pressure, because without passport numbers they have nolegal ground," says Kutepova.

The construction of the South-Ural nuclear power plant started in 1987,but the work was halted in 1989 after the local county administration opposedthe plan. The plant's construction site is situated 10 kilometres fromOzersk, north of Chelyabinsk City.
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Three Uranium Mines Will Be Constructed In Russia
        November 30, 2000
        (for personal use only)

Russia intends to construct three enterprises for the underground miningof uranium, stated Vyacheslav Korotkov, the general director of Atomredmetzoloto,the Russian mining company.  According to Korotkov, a strategy todevelop the uranium-mining industry for the period until 2025 has beenelaborated in Russia. As AKM informs, the construction of three factoriesfor underground leach mining of uranium will start next year in the frameworkof the development strategy.  According to this technology, alkalinesolution is pumped into the uranium deposit to dissolve uranium resourcesand then useful components come to special wells. This technology is absolutelyharmless from an ecological point of view, because it does not presupposethe construction of open mines.  The enterprises will be constructedin the Kurgan region and in Buryatia. To set up such an enterprise $35-80bnwill be necessary depending on the level of the development of the transportsystem of the region.
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