1. Plutonium Pact with Russia Could Backfire, Critic Says
Matthew L. Wald
The New York Times
January 4, 2001
(for personal use only)
WASHINGTON, Jan. 3 - A Russian-American disarmament agreement to take 68 tons of plutonium out of nuclear weapons could have the unintended effect of increasing the chance of nuclear proliferation, according to a report by an independent researcher.
The researcher, Arjun Makhijani, a nuclear physicist who has specialized in analyzing Energy Department weapons activities, also found that efforts around the world to make plutonium and use it as reactor fuel have cost about $100 billion, and make little economic sense.
But the Energy Department is defending the agreement, and its efforts to help the Russians sell the material in Europe as reactor fuel, as a major step toward nonproliferation. Once used in reactors, it is harder to use in weapons.
Plutonium is created when uranium is used in reactors, and when it is separated from used fuel it can be reused either for reactors or for making bombs. For decades engineers have sought to build "breeders" that in their atomic reactions actually produce more reactor fuel than they consume.
Because of proliferation fears, the United States, in the 1970's, banned the recovery of plutonium from civilian reactor fuel, called reprocessing.
But Japan, France and Britain have invested heavily in reprocessing, and Japan and France are also working on breeders.
The United States has been negotiating with Russia since the mid-90's, and signed an agreement last September saying each side would remove 34 tons of surplus plutonium from its weapons inventory. The Energy Department is planning to pay the Duke Power Company to burn some of it in civilian reactors, and will mix the rest with high-level radioactive wastes so it cannot be easily retrieved for weapons use.
The Russians have said they, too, want to use theirs in reactors, but they also say they want to then reprocess the spent fuel, recovering even more plutonium. Russia would like to build a breeder reactor, and a factory to turn the weapons surplus into plutonium fuel, a mixture of plutonium oxide and uranium oxide called MOx, but needs Western money for the fuel plant, estimated to cost $1.7 billion to $2.5 billion.
The United States, while it has abandoned breeder reactors, plans a similar fuel plant in South Carolina.
The executive director of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, Dr. Makhijani is a frequent critic of the Energy Department but also works closely with them at times. He recently forced the department to reassess its estimate of the quantity of plutonium and other man-made elements spilled into the dirt during weapons-making; the department concluded it was too small by a factor of 10.
Another opponent of the agreement is Paul Leventhal, the president of the Nuclear Control Institute, a nonprofit organization based here. "What's at issue is do you turn the plutonium directly into a waste form, or turn to MOx, then end up with waste, in the form of spent fuel," Mr. Leventhal said. The MOx, he and others say, can be turned back into the plutonium metal used in reactors with relative ease. And if it is used in a reactor and reprocessed to make yet more plutonium, the purpose is defeated, he said.
Laura S. H. Holgate, the department's negotiator for plutonium, said that under the accord the Russians could not use the weapons plutonium a second time until all had been used once, and that that would be 2025 at the earliest. By then, she said, "our vision of how we treat spent fuel will be nothing like it is today." return to menu
2. Plutonium End Game: Managing Global Stocks of Separated Weapons-Usable Commercial and Surplus Nuclear Weapons Plutonium
The Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER)
Poland's government yesterday called for international inspections of military facilities in a neighboring Russian enclave to see if Moscow secretly moved nuclear arms there last summer.
A State Department official, however, rejected the idea and said it hopes Poland will "consult" with its NATO allies on the issue.
The Pentagon also sought to play down the issue, claiming that the new battlefield nuclear weapons do not represent a dramatic power shift in Europe.
However, Poland's defense minister questioned the veracity of Russian denials about the nuclear weapons and said inspections, perhaps under NATO direction, are needed.
"Poland needs to monitor the situation in Kaliningrad on a day-to-day basis, and it is doing that," Polish Defense Minister Bronislaw Komorowski told Polish television. "Verification will include pushing for international inspection, which is a normal thing."
He did not say how any inspections would be conducted, but said they could be done under NATO auspices, through contacts between the alliance and Russia. Poland joined the alliance in 1998, along with Hungary and the Czech Republic.
The defense minister was commenting on reports that Russia recently moved tactical nuclear weapons to Kaliningrad, located on the Baltic Sea between Poland and Lithuania, in violation of a pledge to keep the region free of nuclear arms.
Russia's government, meanwhile, again denied that nuclear arms were moved to Kaliningrad, headquarters of the Russian Baltic Fleet. The nuclear arms transfer was first reported Tuesday by The Washington Times.
"The Baltic Sea has been declared a nuclear-free zone, and the Baltic Fleet unfailingly fulfills its commitments," said fleet spokesman Anatoly Lobsky.
U.S. intelligence officials told The Times that Russia in June moved unspecified tactical nuclear weapons to military facilities in Kaliningrad. Tactical nuclear weapons are low-yield arms that can be deployed on missiles, aircraft, artillery shells and torpedoes.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher did not return telephone calls seeking comment on the Polish government's call for nuclear inspections.
A State Department official, however, said the U.S. government does not support the inspection request because there are no arms-control agreements allowing them.
"We do not inspect nuclear storage facilities except as agreed to under relevant arms-control agreements," said the official, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
On Capitol Hill, Rep. Curt Weldon, Pennsylvania Republican, said international inspection in Kaliningrad should be a "minimum requirement."
"I'm very troubled by the movement of these nuclear arms to the Baltics that the Russians had said they would not move forward on," said Mr. Weldon. "It sends a very bad signal."
"At a very minimum, there needs to be inspections because they should have nothing to hide," the Pennsylvania Republican said.
Mr. Weldon also said the Clinton administration has not been "open and candid" with Congress regarding the movement of the tactical nuclear weapons.
The Russians also should take steps to "reach out" to the incoming administration of President-elect George W. Bush.
Mr. Komorowski, the Polish defense minister, questioned Russian military statements on the matter. "It is a problem whether to regard Russian assurances as credible," he said, noting that Moscow in the past has blocked inspection of certain facilities in Kaliningrad.
The defense minister noted that if the Russians refuse to allow inspections in a search for nuclear arms it would raise questions because "when one does not let somebody in, it means he has something to hide."
At the Pentagon, spokesman Kenneth Bacon said he could not answer questions directly about the tactical nuclear weapons transfers, citing a policy of not commenting on intelligence reports.
He suggested that movement of the arms to the region may be linked to Moscow's revised military doctrine that calls for greater reliance on nuclear weapons to compensate for Russia's declining conventional forces.
"We do not think there has been a dramatic change in the military balance in Europe recently, certainly, and we're aware that the Russians have made statements saying that as their conventional forces get weaker, that they will look more and more to their nuclear forces," he said.
The Pentagon spokesman said any nuclear weapons in Kaliningrad may be arms that were removed from ships and air and ground forces as part of a cutback that began in the early 1990s.
"It's highly possible that they took tactical nuclear weapons off their ships and stored them in Kaliningrad," he said. "It's highly possible they stored army and air force weapons at storage sites in Kaliningrad."
On Tuesday, Mr. Bacon said the movement of tactical nuclear arms to Kaliningrad would be a violation of a Russian pledge to remove all forward-deployed nuclear weapons to Russia and to keep all nuclear arms out of the Baltic region.
Asked if the arms are vulnerable to theft or attack, Mr. Bacon said, "Our experience has been that generally the Russians have been quite diligent in securing their weapons."
Russia's government viewed the NATO alliance expansion as threatening and warned in 1998 that it might position nuclear weapons outside Russia because of NATO expansion.
After NATO carried out an aerial bombing campaign in Yugoslavia in 1999, Russia's then-national security chief, Vladimir Putin, announced that Russia had issued new military decrees on the use of nuclear weapons, including battlefield nuclear arms. Mr. Putin is now president.
Pavel Felgenhauer, a Russian military affairs analyst, said any new tactical nuclear arms are probably related to the Russian Navy.
"If they did bring tactical nuclear weapons for training or some other purpose to Kaliningrad, they would most likely be naval, like torpedo warheads," Mr. Felgenhauer said.
2. Russian Defence Ministry denies having nuclear weapons in Baltic area
January 5, 2001
(for personal use only)
Moscow, 5 January, ITAR-TASS correspondent Sergey Ostanin: Russia does not have tactical nuclear weapons in the Baltic area. The claims by the US newspaper Washington Post about the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in Kaliningrad Region "do not correspond to reality", a Defence Ministry source told an ITAR-TASS correspondent today.
According to the source, the Baltic Sea has been declared a nuclear-free zone, and the Baltic Fleet, including its ground forces, are strictly observing the international undertakings given by Russia.
Between 1994 and 1997 Russia's only special fortified area was set up in Kaliningrad Region, based on the forces and units of the Baltic Fleet and subunits of the disbanded Independent 11th Guards Army. During this time the numerical strength of troops deployed in Russia's western enclave has fallen to a third of what it was, without detriment to the country's defence interests.
According to the Defence Ministry source, the creation of a single organizational structure based on naval, army and air defence units has made it possible to eliminate duplication and significantly to raise the defensive potential of the remaining military grouping. These changes took place in the context of a 40-per-cent reduction in naval and ground force groupings in northwest Russia announced at that time by the Russian president. return to menu
3. Russia Moving Warheads
January 4, 2001
(for personal use only)
Over the past year, Russia has been putting tactical nuclear warheads into storage facilities at a naval base in Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave on the Baltic Sea between Poland and Lithuania, senior U.S. officials said yesterday. While Russia's motives are unclear, the placement of battlefield nuclear weapons in Kaliningrad could be a response to NATO's expansion and an attempt to compensate for the decline of Russia's conventional military might, the officials said.
Under informal agreements reached in 1991-92 by President George Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, Russia withdrew its tactical nuclear weapons from the former Warsaw Pact states in Eastern Europe and promised to place them in "central storage facilities." The agreements, which never were turned into a treaty, did not specify the storage sites.
But American intelligence sources said yesterday that Kaliningrad, the headquarters of Russia's Baltic Fleet, became a depot for tactical nuclear weapons removed by the Russian navy from its ships. It was unclear yesterday whether the warheads that have been moved to Kaliningrad over the past year were sea-based weapons belonging to the Russian navy or land-based weapons belonging to the army.
But senior U.S. officials said they are neither surprised nor alarmed. "We have been following the handling of nonstrategic nuclear weapons at stockpile sites for more than two years, so this is not news to us," one official said.
The Russian move was first reported Wednesday by the Washington Times, which also said that Russia had test-fired a new "Toka" missile in Kaliningrad last April. U.S. officials said the Russian news agency Tass reported an April test from the Baltic base of the SS-21 Tochka, an older short-range missile that can carry a nuclear or conventional warhead.
In Moscow, the Russian Defense Ministry said yesterday that the Washington Times article "does not conform with reality" and that Russia's tactical nuclear warheads are at their "permanent stationing sites and have not been transferred anywhere." But the ministry's statement did not clarify whether Kaliningrad is considered a permanent stationing site.
Anatoly Lobsky, a spokesman for the commander of the Baltic Fleet, said "The Baltic Sea is a nuclear-free zone, and Russia's Baltic Fleet scrupulously observes its international commitments." But that statement was also something less than a flat denial, because Russia may not consider Kaliningrad to be part of the nuclear-free zone.
Experts gave widely varying interpretations of the Russian action. Bruce Blair, president of the nonprofit Center for Defense Information, said Russian generals had warned him two years ago that redeploying tactical nuclear weapons to Kaliningrad would be "a likely response to NATO expansion."
William M. Arkin, a consultant on nuclear weapons to the Natural Resources Defense Council, portrayed the move as an attempt to offset Russia's deteriorating conventional military forces. "What is it people expect, given the fact that Poland is now in NATO and the Baltic nations take part in military exercises with the United States?" he said, adding that Russia "doesn't have the capability to respond conventionally."
Correspondent David Hoffman contributed to this report from Moscow. return to menu
4. U.S. yet to query Moscow on nukes
The Washington Times
January 4, 2001
(for personal use only)
The State Department will question Moscow about the recent deployment of tactical nuclear weapons to a military base in a Russian enclave on the Baltic Sea, a spokesman said yesterday.
"We will be raising it with the Russians," said Richard Boucher, the State Department spokesman. He was commenting on reports of the transfer that first appeared in yesterday's editions of The Washington Times.
The weapons transfer was detected by U.S. spy agencies in June.
It is the first time battlefield nuclear arms have been moved into the region since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, according to U.S. intelligence officials.
The spokesman's remarks are a sign the administration has not raised the matter with Moscow during arms control talks in the past six months, according to U.S. officials.
The failure to respond to intelligence reports of the transfers supports claims by some U.S. intelligence officials that the information was suppressed for political reasons.
The disclosure comes weeks after it was revealed that the administration concluded secret agreements with Russia on Moscow's arms and nuclear transfers to Iran.
Republicans in Congress have said they were kept in the dark about a 1995 agreement signed by Vice President Al Gore and Viktor Chernomyrdin, the Russian prime minister, that helped Russia avoid U.S. sanctions required under proliferation laws.
Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon said Tuesday that if Moscow has placed tactical nuclear arms in Kaliningrad "it would violate their pledge that they were removing nuclear weapons from the Baltics, and that the Baltics should be nuclear-free."
Russian government officials, meanwhile, dismissed the nuclear deployment reports as untrue.
"This report can only be a political provocation," said Anatoly Lobsky, a spokesman for Russia's Baltic Fleet. He insisted to reporters in Kaliningrad, where the fleet is based, that the Baltic Fleet has no nuclear weapons.
Mr. Lobsky, an assistant to the fleet commander, said the naval forces in the Kaliningrad enclave, a noncontiguous slice of Russia between Poland and Lithuania, are abiding by obligations to keep the Baltics a nuclear-free zone.
In Moscow, the defense ministry press office issued a statement saying "information on a transfer of tactical nuclear weapons to the Kaliningrad region has no basis in fact."
Governments of the former Soviet-occupied Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia reacted with concern over the reports.
Lithuanian Defense Minister Linas Linkevicius told the Associated Press in Vilnius: "This sounds alarming, but I see no reason Russia should try to escalate the situation in the Baltic region."
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Antanas Valionis told reporters in Vilnius that "similar reports have been appearing several times a year, but after raising public concern they after some time are usually forgotten."
"To date none of these reports have been confirmed, so I would like not to comment on the recent reports, too," Mr. Valionis said.
"We don't know whether it's true or not," said a spokesman for Estonian Foreign Minister Toomas Ilves. "But if it is true, it is regretful, because it decreases the stability of the region."
In Latvia, Liiga Bergmane, spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry, said the government was seeking independent confirmation of the nuclear arms reports.
"We don't see any reason why Russia should want to change its policy of keeping these kinds of weapons out of the Baltic region," she said. "Russia pledged not to increase nuclear arms here and we can't imagine why it would reconsider."
On Capitol Hill, Rep. Benjamin A. Gilman, outgoing chairman of the House International Relations Committee, said the transfers, if confirmed, are alarming.
"If Russia has in fact transferred tactical nuclear weapons to Kaliningrad, we would have to view that as an alarming development that threatens the new democracies of Central and Eastern Europe," the New York Republican said. "These reports underscore the need to promptly enlarge the NATO alliance to include the previously captive nations of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia."
Mr. Boucher declined to comment directly on the report, citing the policy of avoiding comment on intelligence matters.
"That would get into confirming the specifics, which I can't do, but we believe there is something to discuss with the Russians, yes," he stated, noting, "That's about as far as I can go. We don't talk about questions that involve intelligence."
"This is a situation that we are following closely," Mr. Boucher told reporters. "It's something that we'll be talking about with the Russians, as we do on all arms-control issues."
The spokesman said the Russian government's unilateral pledges to keep nuclear weapons out of the region are not "any sort of legally binding commitment."
U.S. national security officials said they are uncertain as to why Russia decided to move tactical nuclear transfers to Kaliningrad.
Several U.S. officials told The Times that the weapons transfers could be a sign Moscow is following through on threats to "forward-deploy" nuclear arms in reaction to the 1999 addition of Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary to NATO over Moscow's opposition.
The deployment also is viewed as part of Moscow's recent nuclear policy decree that gives the military greater reliance on battlefield nuclear weapons because of the decline of its conventional forces.
Some officials said the weapons may be for use on a new short-range missile Russia calls Toka. The missile was tested in Kaliningrad on April 18 and has a range of about 44 miles.
One U.S. official told Reuters that "over the last six months there has been some movement of tactical nuclear weapons into Kaliningrad - we don't know how many, we don't know what type and we don't know why."
A second official said the transfer may represent Moscow's new doctrine that calls for relying more on battlefield nuclear weapons.
"Tactical nukes can be a cheaper way of maintaining your deterrence capabilities as opposed to the more expensive, larger conventional forces," this official said.
"If you are worried about deterrence and your forces are deteriorating, nukes do wonders for your self-confidence," the official said. return to menu
5. Transcript: State Department Noon Briefing [Excerpt]: Tactical Nuclear Weapons in Kaliningrad
U.S. Department of State
Daily Press Briefing Index
January 3, 2001
(for personal use only)
BRIEFER: Richard Boucher, Spokesman
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 3, 2001 -- 12:45 P.M. (ON THE RECORD UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED)
MR. BOUCHER: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I don't have any statements or announcements, so I would be glad to take your questions.
QUESTION: Do you have anything on the reported Russian deployment of short-range nukes in Kaliningrad?
MR. BOUCHER: There is not much that I can say on the subject because, as you know, we don't talk about questions that involve intelligence. This is a situation that we are following closely. It is something that we will be talking about with the Russians, as we do on all arms control issues. But I don't think I can go beyond that.
Q: You said "We will be talking about with the Russians."
MR. BOUCHER: Yes.
Q: I mean, this apparently has been going on for some time. Has it been raised before now?
MR. BOUCHER: I have it in the future tense. I'll have to check and see if it's come up yet or not.
Q: So you believe that there is, then, something to talk about on this subject with the Russians?
MR. BOUCHER: Well, that would get into confirming the specifics, which I can't do. But we believe there is something to discuss with the Russians, yes. That's about as far as I can go.
Q: That involves this? I mean, you're not talking about, you know, adoption problems, are you, when you say --
MR. BOUCHER: We can talk about that, too, but there are issues involving nuclear weapons that we expect to talk about with the Russians.
Q: Is there any cause for concern?
MR. BOUCHER: As I said, it's an issue that we want to take up, that we want to discuss with them. It's something we follow carefully. And that's about as far as I go.
Q: What are the specific understandings between the United States and Russia regarding the Baltics, regarding the Kaliningrad and nuclear weapons?
MR. BOUCHER: You can look this one up, but my recollection is that there were unilateral pledges that the Russian leadership made in the past about stationing nuclear weapons in the region. Not bilateral understandings or legal -- you know, any sort of legally binding commitment.
Q: But if these reports say that administration officials have already said that this had been going on over at least a year, can you confirm that? It's an Associated Press report.
MR. BOUCHER: I think I was sort of just asked that question before. I will check and see if it's -- you know, how we might have discussed it in the past. But at this point I say we will be raising it with the Russians.
Q: Is Secretary Albright going to meet with Foreign Minister Ivanov?
Last month the State Duma voted overwhelmingly to approve a government-backed law that will amend current legislation and allow Russia to import highly radioactive waste from foreign countries. While this was not the final reading of the bill, its eventual approval seems virtually inevitable.
This result seems strange at first glance since all polls show that the Russian public is unequivocally opposed to such imports. Last fall environmental activists collected more than 2.5 million signatures calling for a national referendum on the issue. But the Central Elections Commission rejected this petition on a technicality, and now Duma deputies have shown no difficulty voting against the clearly expressed will of their constituencies.
Nuclear Power Minister Yevgeny Adamov has predicted Russia will earn up to $20 billion over the next 10 to 15 years by importing foreign waste. Adamov and other officials have stressed that spent nuclear fuel is not "waste," but a valuable commodity. After reprocessing, they maintain, plutonium and uranium may be extracted and recycled. They also try to make the idea more palatable by saying that proceeds from these imports will be used to clean up existing contaminated zones.
It is certainly true that many areas of the country are radioactively contaminated: The worst zone is in the Urals, in the region around Chelyabinsk. However, there are simply no effective means of "cleaning" large-scale radioactive contamination.
When relatively small radioactive spills occur, the contaminated earth is put into steel barrels and buried somewhere. Hard surfaces are washed with water and detergent. These methods are obviously not practical when hundreds of square kilometers are contaminated. After the 1986 nuclear disaster in Chernobyl, there were initial attempts to wash down roads and buildings with detergent, but they were soon abandoned and everything was just left to decompose naturally.
The claim that imported waste will be "reprocessed" is also a sham. After all, Russia does not have enough capacity to reprocess the spent nuclear fuel that it produces itself. More importantly, reprocessing spent nuclear fuel does not make economic sense. Since the end of the Cold War, Russia and the United States have been dismantling their nuclear arsenals and many Western countries have been scaling back their civilian nuclear power programs. As a result, the world is awash with cheap uranium and there is simply no realistic market for recycled plutonium.
So why, then, do the Duma and the Kremlin support such a dangerous and doubtful plan? It can hardly be for the money. After all, last year Russia had a trade surplus of about $50 billion. A few hundred million in revenues from importing waste simply won't make much of a difference.
The explanation for the extraordinary unanimity of the political elite on the waste imports issue is the typical one: defense considerations. In April 1999, the Security Council (President Vladimir Putin was the secretary of the Security Council at that time) ordered the Nuclear Power Ministry to speed up the development of a new generation of nuclear weapons, including so-called "penetrators." These weapons are designed to burrow down tens of meters underground before exploding. The Security Council also ordered the development of a new generation of very low-yield tactical, battlefield nuclear weapons.
Immediately after Putin announced the Security Council decision, Adamov began to clamor for foreign nuclear waste and a bill was introduced in the Duma. In May 1999, Adamov told a conference: "They told us to accelerate military nuclear programs, but said we should do that using our own sources of revenue." In effect that meant the only way Russia can develop a new generation of weapons is if the West is willing to pay for it by dumping its nuclear waste here.
The gist of the Adamov plan - to make the West pay for a new generation of nukes that may be eventually used against it - has clearly captured the imagination of the Russian elite. During the Duma debate last month, leading Communist deputy and former Politburo member Anatoly Lukyanov said that anyone opposing the nuclear waste bill must be an "American agent."
In fact, the U.S. government has already endorsed Russia's initiative to import nuclear waste. But true Russian patriots will not be fooled by such tricks. Foreign radioactive waste will soon be on its way in.
Pavel Felgenhauer is an independent, Moscow-based defense analyst. return to menu
2. Russia's Craving for Nuclear Wastes
January 4, 2001
(for personal use only)
Letting Russia collect the world's nuclear waste is like giving an alcoholic a well-stocked wine cellar for Christmas. That the receiver may be asking for it in no way makes it right for the giver.
Ignoring horrified environmentalists within and beyond its borders, Russia's lower legislative house has given preliminary approval to a plan to import, store and treat nuclear waste from other countries. Russia hopes to sign pacts with China, Germany, Japan, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan and other nations to take spent fuel rods from nuclear power plants off their hands.
Officials of the Atomic Energy Ministry hope to earn as much as $21 billion over 10 years by becoming the world's nuclear dump. Even at that, they are probably lowballing the revenue. With the problems most nations have with growing piles of nuclear waste, almost no price would be too high for a safe, reliable solution.
But safe and reliable are not words to be connected to the land of the Kursk submarine disaster. The capitalist vision of dancing rubles is clouding officials' view of their country's woeful nuclear history as well as its current inadequacies. The U.S. is financing, to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars, the dismantling of Russia's old nuclear submarines because the Russians can't afford it themselves. Russian plants that convert nuclear fuel are running at capacity. Where and how will new wastes be stored or treated?
Even scarier is the government's blind refusal to recognize its wide-ranging environmental crises. As Tribune reporter Colin McMahon noted, it is estimated that 60 million out of 145 million Russians live in environmentally dangerous conditions. Air and water pollution are rampant, the economy has no funds for any cleanup, and protesting ecologists are met with investigations and ministry-ordered audits.
Each nuclear power faces hard choices of what to do with its radioactive waste. After 18 years and collection of $15 billion from electricity ratepayers, the U.S. is still stymied in its efforts to create a nuclear waste storage area in a Nevada wasteland. But this country cannot abandon those efforts. It is America's problem to solve.
Further, just because one nation is asking for this toxic cocktail is no reason for the rest of the world to mix it up. Nuclear-powered nations have a responsibility to recognize the potential global consequences of a Russian nuclear disaster, as well as the risk to Russian citizens who have suffered from their government's previous mistakes. Russia's "easy" answer is a real threat. return to menu
D. Russian Nuclear Power Industry
1. Nuclear Power Stations Can Operate Longer if Modernized
January 5, 2001
(for personal use only)
MOSCOW, January 5 (Itar-Tass) - The term of operation of nuclear power stations can be extended if they are modernized, says a statement of the Russian state nuclear supervision agency, faxed to PRIME-Tass on Friday.
The term of operation of reactors of first-generation nuclear power stations ends in the period from 2001 to 2005.
The situation in Russia did not permit timely to complete the construction and put into operation new reactors of nuclear power plants. It is a "flexible decision", in the opinion of the nuclear supervising agency, to create the basis for continued operation of the existing reactors. What is need for the purpose is technical reequipment, modernization and, in some cases, reconstruction.
The state nuclear supervision agency notes that modernization and technical reequipment served as the basis for the decisions to extend the operation of nuclear power stations in a number of countries, among them Finland. return to menu
E. U.S. - Russian Relations
1. Exercising Power Without Arrogance
The Chicago Tribune
December 31, 2000
(for personal use only)
The United States has found it exceedingly difficult to define its "national interest" in the absence of Soviet power.
That we do not know how to think about what follows the U.S.-Soviet confrontation is clear from the continued references to the "post-Cold War period."
Yet such periods of transition are very important because they offer strategic opportunities. During these fluid times, one can affect the shape of the world to come. The enormity of the moment is obvious.
The Soviet Union was more than just a traditional global competitor. It strove to lead a universal socialist alternative to markets and democracy. The Soviet Union quarantined itself and many of its often unwitting captives and clients from the rigors of international capitalism. In the end, it sowed the seeds of its own destruction, becoming in isolation an economic and technological dinosaur.
America has emerged as both the principal benefactor of this revolution and the beneficiary. American values are universal. Their triumph is most assuredly easier when the international balance of power favors those who believe in them. But sometimes that favorable balance of power takes time to achieve, both internationally and within a country, and in the meantime, it is simply not possible to ignore and isolate other powerful states.
The Cold War is a good example. Few would deny that the collapse of the Soviet Union profoundly transformed the picture of democracy and human rights in eastern and central Europe and the former Soviet territories. Nothing improved human rights as much as the collapse of Soviet power.
Throughout the Cold War, the U.S. pursued a policy that promoted political liberty, using every instrument from the Voice of America to direct presidential intervention on behalf of dissidents. But it lost sight neither of the importance of the geopolitical relationship with Moscow nor of the absolute necessity of retaining robust American military power to deter an all-out military confrontation.
In the 1980s, President Reagan's challenge to Soviet power was both resolute and well timed. It included intense, substantive engagements with Moscow across the entire range of issues captured in a classic "four-part agenda"--arms control, human rights, economic issues and regional conflicts.
The Bush administration then focused greater attention on rolling back Soviet power in central and eastern Europe. As the Soviet Union's might waned, it could no longer defend its interests and gave up peacefully (thankfully) to the West--a tremendous victory for Western power and also for human liberty.
Although the U.S. is fortunate to count among its friends several great powers, it is important not to take them for granted--so that there is a firm foundation when it comes time to rely on them.
Today Russia presents a different challenge. It still has many of the attributes of a great power: a large population, vast territory and military potential. But its economic weakness and problems of national identity threaten to overwhelm it.
Moscow is determined to assert itself in the world and often does so in ways that are at once haphazard and threatening to American interests. The picture is complicated by Russia's own internal transition--one that the United States wants to see succeed.
The old Soviet system has broken down, and some of the basic elements of democratic development are in place. People are free to say what they think, vote for whom they please, and (for the most part) worship freely. But the democratic fragments are not institutionalized--and with the exception of the Communist Party, political parties are weak.
Of course, in his last months as president, few paid attention to Boris Yeltsin's decrees. Arguably, the Russian government has been mired in inaction and stagnation for at least three years.
Russia's economic troubles and its high-level corruption have been widely discussed. Its economy is not becoming a market but is mutating into something else. Widespread barter, banks that are not banks, billions of rubles stashed abroad and in mattresses at home, and bizarre privatization schemes that have enriched the so-called reformers give Moscow's economy a medieval tinge.
The problem for U.S. policy is that the Clinton administration's ongoing embrace of Yeltsin and those who were thought to be reformers around him quite simply failed. Clearly the United States was obliged to deal with the head of state, and Yeltsin was Russia's president.
But U.S. support for democracy and economic reform became support for Yeltsin. His agenda became the American agenda.
America certified that reform was taking place in Russia where it was not, continuing to disburse money from the International Monetary Fund in the absence of any evidence of serious change.
Thus, some curious privatization methods were hailed as economic liberalization; the looting of the country's assets by powerful people either went unnoticed or was ignored. The realities in Russia simply did not accord with the administration's script about Russian economic reform.
The United States should not be faulted for trying to help. But, as the Russian reformer Grigori Yavlinsky has said, the United States should have "told the truth" about what was happening. Now we have a dual credibility problem--with Russians and with Americans.
There are signs of life in the Russian economy. The financial crash of August 1998 forced import substitution, and domestic production has increased as the resilient Russian people have taken matters into their own hands. Rising oil prices have helped as well.
But these are short-term fixes. There is no longer a consensus in America or Europe on what to do next with Russia. Frustrated expectations and "Russia fatigue" are direct consequences of the "happy talk" in which the Clinton administration engaged.
Russia's economic future is now in the hands of the Russians. The country is not without assets, including its natural resources and an educated population. It is up to Russia to make structural reforms, particularly concerning the rule of law and the tax codes, so that investors--foreign and domestic--will provide the capital needed for economic growth.
But the cultural changes ultimately needed to sustain a functioning civil society and a market-based economy may take a generation. Western openness to Russia's people, particularly its youth, in exchange programs and contact with the private sector and educational opportunities can help that process. It is also important to engage the leadership of Russia's diverse regions, where economic and social policies are increasingly pursued independently of Moscow.
In the meantime, U.S. policy must concentrate on the important security agenda with Russia.
First, it must recognize that American security is threatened less by Russia's strength than by its weakness and incoherence. This suggests immediate attention to the safety and security of Moscow's nuclear forces and stockpile.
Second, Washington must begin a comprehensive discussion with Moscow on the changing nuclear threat. Much has been made by Russian military officials about their increased reliance on nuclear weapons in the face of their declining conventional readiness.
The Russian deterrent is more than adequate against the U.S. nuclear arsenal, and vice versa. But that fact need no longer be enshrined in a treaty that is almost 30 years old and is a relic of a profoundly adversarial relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union.
The Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty was intended to prevent the development of national missile defenses in the Cold War security environment. Today, the principal concerns are nuclear threats from the Iraqs and North Koreas of the world and the possibility of unauthorized releases as nuclear weapons spread.
Moscow, in fact, lives closer to those threats than Washington does. It ought to be possible to engage the Russians in a discussion of the changed threat environment, their possible responses, and the relationship of strategic offensive-force reductions to the deployment of defenses.
In addition, Moscow should understand that any possibilities for sharing technology or information in these areas would depend heavily on its record--problematic to date--on the proliferation of ballistic-missile and other technologies related to weapons of mass destruction.
It would be foolish in the extreme to share defenses with Moscow if it either leaks or deliberately transfers weapons technologies to the very states against which America is defending.
Finally, the United States needs to recognize that Russia is a great power, and that we will always have interests that conflict as well as coincide.
As prime minister, Vladimir Putin used the Chechnya war to stir nationalism at home while fueling his own political fortunes. The Russian military has been uncharacteristically blunt and vocal in asserting its duty to defend the integrity of the Russian Federation--an unwelcome development in civil-military relations.
The long-term effect of the war on Russia's political culture should not be underestimated. This war has affected relations between Russia and its neighbors in the Caucasus, as the Kremlin has been hurling charges of harboring and abetting Chechen terrorists against states as diverse as Saudi Arabia, Georgia and Azerbaijan.
The war is a reminder of the vulnerability of the small, new states around Russia and of America's interest in their independence. If they can become stronger, they will be less tempting to Russia. But much depends on the ability of these states to reform their economies and political systems--a process, to date, whose success is mixed at best.
Meanwhile America can exercise power without arrogance and pursue its interests without hectoring and bluster. That has been America's special role in the past, and it should be again as we enter the new century. return to menu