1. Panel Urges $30 Billion to Secure Russian Nuclear Arms
The Washington Post
January 11, 2001
(for personal use only)
A blue-ribbon task force headed by two elder statesmen, Republican Howard H. Baker Jr. and Democrat Lloyd N. Cutler, recommended yesterday that the United States spend up to $30 billion over the next eight to 10 years to improve security over Russia's nuclear stockpile.
Arguing that the possible theft or sale of Russian nuclear materials presents "a clear and present danger . . . to American lives and liberties," the bipartisan panel concluded that U.S. spending on nuclear security programs in Russia should rise to about $3 billion a year from the current $700 million.
The task force's report was released by Baker, a former Senate majority leader from Tennessee who served as White House chief of staff in the Reagan administration, and Cutler, who was White House counsel in the Carter and Clinton administrations.
Baker and Cutler acknowledged in an interview that congressional support for nuclear programs in Russia could be endangered by Moscow's promotion of its civilian atomic energy business, particularly through sales to Iran.
"The Russians think of their nuclear stockpile as gold" at a time when they are desperate for foreign trade, Baker said. But, he added, "even though we may be pouring money into a bottomless bucket, it's a gamble worth taking."
Baker said the panel's report had been given to Donald H. Rumsfeld, President-elect Bush's nominee for defense secretary. He added that he believes Bush and Vice President-elect Cheney "share our conviction that this is one of the most important problems we face."
The task force, established early last year by Energy Secretary Bill Richardson, received U.S. intelligence briefings and visited Russian nuclear sites. While praising the Russian government for cooperating on nuclear security at many facilities, the Baker-Cutler report also warned that without greater transparency and access on the Russian side, "full success will not be achievable."
One way to accelerate the process, the report said, would be to consolidate Russia's estimated 40,000 nuclear weapons and its many tons of plutonium and highly enriched uranium into a smaller number of centralized storage facilities. Russian weapons are now spread over more than 100 storage sites. return to menu
2. An Unacceptable Risk
Howard H. Baker Jr. and Lloyd Cutler
The Washington Post
January 11, 2001
(for personal use only)
Russia's nuclear stockpile is the most serious national security threat we face today. It includes at least 40,000 nuclear weapons, more than 1,000 tons of nuclear materials capable of being used in weapons and vast quantities of materials for biological and chemical warfare. In Russia's weakened financial condition, the Russian scientists who design and produce this material, and the security guards who protect it, are inadequately paid and are tempted to sell weapons materials and technologies to agents for "wannabe" nuclear weapon states or terrorist groups, many of whom proudly proclaim themselves to be our enemies.
During the past decade, a number of cooperative U.S.-Russian nonproliferation programs have been launched by the departments of Defense, State and Energy. The efforts to identify and safeguard weapons and weapons-grade nuclear materials, and to convert them into commercial grades of material not usable in nuclear weapons, have been under the direction of the Department of Energy. At the request of Energy Secretary Bill Richardson, a nonproliferation task force has concluded a nine-month study of the DOE programs and filed a report that was published yesterday. We are co-chairmen of the task force, which was made up of former legislators and executive branch officials with significant national security and arms control experience.
Our principal findings and conclusions are as follows:
The most urgent unmet national security threat to the United States today is that weapons of mass destruction or weapons-usable material located in Russia could be stolen and sold to terrorists or hostile nation states and used against American troops abroad or citizens at home.
In a worst-case scenario, a nuclear engineering graduate with a grapefruit-sized lump of highly enriched uranium or an orange-sized lump of plutonium, along with other items readily available in commercial markets, could fashion a nuclear device that would fit in a vehicle like the van the terrorist parked in the World Trade Center in 1993. Its explosive effects would level lower Manhattan.
Current nonproliferation programs in the Department of Energy, the Department of Defense and related agencies have achieved impressive results thus far, but their limited mandate and funding fall short of what is required to fully address the threat.
The programs now in place have achieved considerable success. Many efforts to steal weapons-usable material have been intercepted by Russian and international police operations. To the best of our knowledge, no nuclear weapons or nuclear weapons-usable materials have been successfully stolen and exported from Russia.
But the current budget levels are inadequate and the management of the U.S. government's involvement is too diffuse. The existing scope and operation of the programs leave an unacceptable risk of failure and the potential for catastrophic consequences. The new president and the leaders of the 107th Congress face the urgent challenge of devising a stronger response proportionate to the threat.
This response should include a net assessment of the threat; a clear and achievable mission statement; development of a strategy with specific goals and measurable objectives; and a more centralized command of the financial and human resources required to do the job.
The president and Congress should promptly formulate a strategic eight- to 10-year plan to secure and neutralize all nuclear weapons-usable material located in Russia, and to prevent the outflow of scientific expertise and equipment that other states or terrorist groups could use for nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction. To achieve this goal would be one of the greatest contributions the United States and Russia can make to the security and safety of their own citizens and the rest of the world.
The task force did identify one major cloud on the horizon: Russia's continuing trade with Iran in dual-use nuclear technology and missile technology, as well as Russia's apparent intention to supply new conventional weapons systems to Iran. Despite the fact that these issues have been raised with Russia at the highest level, the problems have not yet been resolved. While the task force affirms that the DOE nonproliferation programs are unequivocally in the U.S. national security interest, the task force is particularly concerned that if Russia's cooperation with Iran continues in a way that compromises nonproliferation goals, it will adversely affect U.S.-Russian cooperation in a wide range of other important nonproliferation programs.
Howard Baker, a former Republican senator from Tennessee, was Senate majority leader from 1981 to 1985 and chief of staff to President Reagan in 1987-88. Lloyd Cutler served as counsel to Presidents Carter and Clinton. return to menu
3. Russia Must Secure Nuclear Stockpile
The Associated Press
January 10, 2001
(for personal use only)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The possibility of Russian nuclear materials being stolen or diverted is "the most urgent unmet national security threat" facing the United States, says a task force of former federal officials. The panel recommends a $30 billion program to help Russia secure its nuclear stockpile.
"We have no proof of a diversion of weapons or material from Russia, but there is so much of it and security is so meager ... it is a continuing threat," warned former Sen. Howard Baker, co-chairman of the bipartisan panel.
Baker, a Tennessee Republican, said that as a courtesy he has discussed the report briefly with Vice President-elect Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, President-elect Bush's choice as defense secretary. He said he wanted to give the incoming administration "a heads up" on an issue it will face.
The report urged Bush and the new Congress to give the Russia nuclear proliferation concerns top priority.
"If there is going to be attention paid (to this issue) there has to be a very strong presidential leadership," said former Rep. Lee Hamilton, D-Ind., a panel member. Hamilton has been mentioned as a possible Bush choice for United Nations ambassador.
Russia has an estimated 40,000 nuclear weapons and more than a 1,000 metric tons of nuclear material including highly enriched uranium and plutonium scattered at facilities across Russia, many of them with inadequate security.
The problem has been compounded by the thousands of Russian nuclear weapons scientists who are out of work or on meager incomes "and may be tempted to sell their expertise" to other nations or terrorist groups, the report says.
"The issues are immediate and the dangers are real," said Energy Secretary Bill Richardson, who a year ago ordered the task force review of U.S. efforts to deal with nuclear proliferation in Russia.
U.S. spending on nuclear security in Russia now totals about $900 million annually, about a third of that in Energy Department programs to help Russia secure nuclear materials, safeguard nuclear facilities and retrain nuclear scientists facing hard economic times.
Some members of Congress have been reluctant to continue spending even that much because of concern that money may be misused and because of Russia's refusal to stop selling civilian nuclear technology and conventional arms to Iran.
Russia's dealings with Iran are "a major cloud on the horizon" that will make it more difficult to sell the $30 billion spending plan to Congress, acknowledged Lloyd Cutler, President Clinton's former White House counsel and the other task force co-chairman.
The panel urged the Energy Department's spending be increased to $3 billion a year over eight to 10 years. The $30 billion price tag "would constitute the highest return on investment in any current U.S. national security and defense program," said the report.
While U.S. nuclear assistance programs for Russia have made progress, their shortcomings "leave an unacceptable risk of failure and the potential for catastrophic consequences," the report says.
To give the issue a higher profile, the panel urged Bush to create a "nuclear nonproliferation czar" with access to the president, and that Congress create a joint House-Senate committee on the subject.
Others on the panel included former Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Ga., who for years has been active on nuclear nonproliferation issues; Graham Allison, a nonproliferation expert at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government; former Sen. David Boren, D-Okla., now president of the University of Oklahoma; former Rep. David Skaggs, D-Colo., now of the Aspen Institute; and Susan Eisenhower, president of the Eisenhower Institute. return to menu
B. Russian - Iranian Relations
1. Nuclear Items Sold by Russia to Iran Pose an Obstacle
The New York Times
January 11, 2001
(for personal use only)
WASHINGTON, Jan. 10 - Russian sales to Iran of technology that has both civilian and military purposes are a major obstacle to expanding American efforts to prevent the spread of Russian nuclear material, a bipartisan panel has found.
The panel, established by Energy Secretary Bill Richardson to review Energy Department programs intended to safeguard Russian nuclear material, has found that the trade in so called dual-use technology, as well as in conventional weapons, from Russia to Iran remained a critical problem in relations between Washington and Moscow. And that problem makes it more difficult to resolve related proliferation disputes.
"The task force," the report said, "is particularly concerned that if Russian cooperation with Iran continues in a way that compromises nuclear nonproliferation norms, it will inevitably have a major adverse effect on continued cooperation in a wide range" of nonproliferation programs between the nations.
The panel, led by Lloyd N. Cutler, a former White House counsel in the Clinton administration, and former Senator Howard H. Baker Jr., a Republican, called for spending up to $30 billion in the next eight to 10 years to expand and improve American programs to safeguard Russian nuclear materials.
There is no evidence that any nuclear material has left Russia for terrorist groups or countries that are seeking to become nuclear powers, the study said. But the threat remains one of the most critical security challenges facing the United States, the report concludes.
"We want to give the public a wake-up call about how serious this problem is," Mr. Cutler said.
The United States has spent $5 billion since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991 to help Russia secure nuclear material and provide support for out-of-work scientists. But the study, which was released today, said although American efforts had been effective, the financing had not been nearly large enough to deal with the problem.
"Current nonproliferation programs in the Department of Energy, the Department of Defense and related agencies have achieved impressive results thus far," the report said. "But their limited mandate and funding fall short of what is required to address adequately the threat."
But the panel acknowledged that its recommendations to expand the program dramatically would not proceed until the Russians agreed to curb their relationship with Iran.
"One of the major obstacles to going forward is the Russia-Iran relationship," Mr. Cutler said. "We're not getting anywhere. What the Russians are doing vis-à-vis Iran is violating all of the norms. Unless we can solve this problem, we don't see how our recommendations for expanding the programs can be accomplished."
The committee found that more than 1,000 metric tons of highly enriched uranium and at least 150 metric tons of weapons grade plutonium remained in the Russian weapons complex. But Mr. Baker and Mr. Cutler agreed that one of their most worrisome findings was that no one seemed to know precisely how much fissile material remained in Russia.
"The thing that bothers me is I don't know how much they are producing, how much they've got, and I don't know whether they know or not," Mr. Baker said. "Transparency is a major issue."
The report noted recent incidents that had heightened concerns about the potential for a "loose nukes" crisis. This month, the report said, the Russian Federal Security Bureau arrested four sailors at a nuclear submarine base on the Kamchatka Peninsula and found a cache of precious metals and radioactive material that they had stolen from a safe in their sub. In 1998, a conspiracy at a complex of the Atomic Energy Ministry was uncovered. Individuals were trying to steal fissile material, the report said.
"The head of MinAtom's nuclear material accounting confirmed the attempted theft and warned that had the attempt been successful, it would have caused significant damage to the Russian state," the study reported.
In December 1998, an employee at a nuclear laboratory in Sarov was arrested. The employee was trying to sell documents on nuclear weapons designs to agents of Iraq and Afghanistan, the report said.
Along with increased spending of $3 billion a year, the panel recommended that the new administration create a high-level White House post to coordinate American efforts on the Russian nuclear problems.
Although the panel that produced the report was established by Mr. Richardson in the Clinton administration, Mr. Baker noted in an interview that he had already discussed the findings with President-elect George W. Bush's choice for secretary of state, Gen. Colin L. Powell. return to menu
C. Cooperative Threat Reduction
1. Nuclear Storage Facility Upgraded
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
January 11, 2001
(for personal use only)
Interfax reported on 10 January that equipment will begin to be installed in the Mayak storage facility for nuclear materials. The site will provide for "centralized and environmentally safe longterm storage of material retrieved from dismantled warheads," a source in the defense ministry said. Meanwhile, a bipartisan panel in the United States called on Washington to spend $30 billion over the next decade to help Russia provide secure storage of nuclear materials, lest the situation there develop "catastrophic consequences," AP reported. return to menu
2. Cohen on DOD Report on "Proliferation: Threat and Response"
The Washington File
January 10, 2001
(for personal use only)
Defense Secretary William Cohen, in a message introducing a Defense Department report entitled "Proliferation: Threat and Response," says the "unrivaled supremacy" of the United States in the conventional military arena "is prompting adversaries to seek unconventional, asymmetric means to strike what they perceive as our Achilles heel."
"The race is on between our preparations and those of our adversaries," he said. "There is not a moment to lose."
The report, issued January 10, details the nature of the security challenge posed by the proliferation of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons and their delivery systems and the Defense Department's response to the challenge.
At the dawn of the 21st Century, the United States now faces what could be called a Superpower Paradox. Our unrivaled supremacy in the conventional military arena is prompting adversaries to seek unconventional, asymmetric means to strike what they perceive as our Achilles heel.
At least 25 countries now possess or are in the process of acquiring and developing capabilities to inflict mass casualties and destruction: nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) weapons or the means to deliver them. For example: North Korea is building and selling long-range missiles, has chemical and biological warfare capabilities, and may have diverted fissile material for nuclear weaponry. Iran, with foreign assistance, is buying and developing longer-range missiles, already has chemical weapons, and is seeking nuclear and biological capabilities.
Iraq which prior to the 1991 Gulf War had developed chemical and biological weapons and associated delivery means, and was close to a nuclear capability, may have reconstituted these efforts since the departure of UN inspectors from Iraq in late 1998.
Libya has chemical capabilities and is trying to buy long-range missiles. Also looming on the horizon is the prospect that these terror weapons will increasingly wend their way into the hands of individuals and groups of fanatical terrorists or self-proclaimed apocalyptic prophets. The followers of Usama bin Laden have, in fact, already trained with toxic chemicals. Fears for the future are not hyperbole. Indeed, past may be prologue. Iraq has used chemical weapons against Iran and its own people. Those behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing also were gathering the ingredients for a chemical weapon that could have killed thousands here in the United States.
I have been concerned about the security threats posed by proliferation from the day I took office as Secretary of Defense. Completely halting proliferation is not possible, but stemming it is both vitally important and achievable. To that end, the Department of Defense (DoD) is playing an active role in technology transfer and export controls and in the implementation of arms control and nonproliferation regimes. DoD is participating in the on-going effort to improve transparency under the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention. Through the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, DoD is implementing inspection and monitoring requirements of several U.S. treaties. And under the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, DoD is assisting the states of the Former Soviet Union in preventing the further proliferation of NBC knowledge and capabilities.
However, recognizing that proliferation has and will occur, it is also essential that we do our utmost to provide protection for our forces overseas, and indeed, to take steps to mitigate the consequences of a terrorist act using such weapons here at home. I strongly believe that preparation is itself a deterrent. That is why I directed in the 1997 Quadrennial Defense Review that an additional billion dollars be added over the subsequent five years to the Department of Defense Counterproliferation Initiative. Through this effort, we are making important strides in improving the preparedness of our troops to operate effectively despite the threat or use of NBC weapons by an adversary:
Combatant commanders have adapted plans to account for the threat or use of such weapons. Efforts continue to further enhance the full range of theater missile defense systems.
Significant strides have been made in developing and fielding improved chemical and biological (CB) detection and protection equipment.
Military commanders are adapting training standards, doctrine and concepts of operations to ensure the readiness of U.S. forces to carry out their missions under chemical and biological weapons conditions.
Enhancing the capabilities of our Allies and international partners is also an integral part of this Initiative. We have a mature effort underway within the NATO Alliance, and a number of bilateral activities with specific NATO allies. We also have initiated programs with friends and allies in Asia and in the Middle East, including the Cooperative Defense Initiative with Persian Gulf states. At the same time, as part of a federal interagency effort, the Defense Department is doing its part to assist and advise cities and communities across the nation in coping with the catastrophic consequences of an attack that unleashes these horrific weapons on U.S. soil.
This new edition of Proliferation: Threat and Response, the second since I became Secretary of Defense, updates information about the nature of the proliferation problem and describes the policies and programs the Defense Department is carrying out to counter this growing threat to American citizens, armed forces, and allies. The race is on between our preparations and those of our adversaries. There is not a moment to lose. return to menu
3. Russia seen relying on nuke, germ weapons
The Washington Times
January 11, 2001
(for personal use only)
Russia has lowered the threshold for nuclear weapons use and increased its reliance on battlefield nuclear arms and hidden stocks of germs and poison gas to compensate for its declining army, the Pentagon said yesterday.
China, meanwhile, is building two road-mobile intercontinental missiles and a new submarine missile for an arsenal of more than 100 warheads. Beijing's military will soon field a new air-launched land-attack cruise missile being built with Russian assistance, the Pentagon stated in a report on arms proliferation.
North Korea is also working on long-range missiles, including a missile called the Taepo Dong 2 capable of reaching all of the United States with a warhead weighing several hundred pounds.
Details of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs and missile threats are contained in a 187-page report made public yesterday called "Proliferation Threat and Response." It updates an 1997 report with the same title.
On Russia's nuclear forces, the report said that "Russia has thousands of tactical nuclear warheads that it is unlikely to dismantle soon and that are not subject to current arms control agreements."
"Recent Russian public statements about their willingness to use nuclear weapons indicate that Russia's threshold for the use of these weapons is lower, due to the decline of . . . its conventional forces," the report said.
The report made no mention of intelligence reports indicating Moscow recently moved tactical nuclear weapons into Kaliningrad enclave on the Baltic Sea some 250 miles from Russia proper.
According to the report, Russia returned all tactical nuclear weapons deployed outside its territory to Russia in 1992, after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. It is not clear whether Kaliningrad, which is technically Russian territory, was included in the tactical arms withdrawal. Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon said last week that any transfer of tactical nuclear arms to Kaliningrad would violate Moscow's promise to keep the Baltics "nuclear-free."
Disclosure of the tactical nuclear weapons transfers, first reported in The Washington Times Jan. 3, prompted calls by the Polish government for arms inspections. Russia's government denied having any nuclear arms in the enclave, located between Poland and Lithuania, and insists it is abiding by a pledge to keep Eastern Europe free of nuclear arms.
Because of conventional-force problems, "tactical nuclear weapons will remain a viable component of its general purpose forces for at least the next decade," the report said.
"Russia likely believes that maintaining tactical nuclear forces is a less expensive way to compensate for its current problems in maintaining conventional force capabilities," the report said.
The tactical nuclear forces include short-range missiles, artillery, air-delivered bombs, torpedoes and anti-ship missiles, it said.
President Vladimir Putin stated in January that the threshold for nuclear weapons use had been lowered. Mr. Putin said Russia would use "all forces and means, including nuclear weapons, if necessary to repel armed aggression," if other means fail.
A recent Russian military exercise used the scenario of a NATO attack on Kaliningrad and led exercising forces to resort to mock nuclear attacks on the Europe and the United States.
The Pentagon report also said there are "serious questions" about whether Russia secretly retained offensive biological and chemical weapons, in violation of arms treaties.
"At the same time [it is a signatory to treaties], Russian military leaders may view the retention of at least some of these capabilities as desirable, given the decline in Russia's conventional forces," the report said.
The report describes China as "one of the few countries that can threaten the continental United States."
"China is qualitatively improving its nuclear arsenal through a modernization program and by 2015, China likely will have tens of missiles capable of reaching the United States," the report said.
China's current arsenal of more than 100 warheads is being modernized to increase "the size, accuracy and survivability of its nuclear missile force." Currently about 20 aging CSS-4 missiles can hit the United States, it said.
"Some of its ongoing missile modernization programs likely will increase in the number of Chinese warheads aimed at the United States," the report said.
That statement contradicts the announcement of Chinese President Jiang Zemin in 1998 that China no longer targets its long-range nuclear missiles on U.S. cities. The pledge was made during a summit in Beijing with President Clinton, who also has declared in speeches that no nuclear missiles are pointed at the United States.
If the United States deploys a national missile-defense system, China may change the pace of its nuclear buildup, the report said, noting that "the ultimate extent of China's strategic modernization remains unknown."
China also has "some biological and chemical warfare capabilities" in violation of its commitments to international agreements banning the arms.
Russia, too, is continuing to modernize its nuclear weapons force with deployment of new road-mobile SS-27 intercontinental ballistic missiles and a new generation of submarine-launched ballistic missiles.
North Korea allowed inspections of a suspect underground nuclear facility in 1999. However, the report stated that "concerns remain over [a] possible covert nuclear weapons effort." Pyongyang also is continuing development of the Taepo Dong-2 and "remains capable of conducting [a] test" of the long-range missile.
The report also warned of transitional threats of terrorism, including the possible use of chemical or biological weapons against the United States, including attacks on crops and livestock.
Defense Secretary William S. Cohen warned in a speech yesterday that Russia may not make the transition to democracy and free markets and could revert to its past role as a global threat.
"I think there's cause for concern with the continued deterioration in Russian conventional and strategic forces," Mr. Cohen said at a National Press Club luncheon. return to menu
D. New Publications
1. Refocusing U.S. Russian and Eurasian Policy on American Interests, Chapter 12 [Excerpt]
The ascendancy of Vladimir Putin to the Russian presidency is having profound effects on the Russian Federation's international behavior and internal dynamics as well as on U.S.-Russian relations. Putin is centralizing and enhancing his executive powers, and in the process is violating the fragile system of checks and balances that began under former President Boris Yeltsin. He is tightening control over the media and lessening the independence of the regional governors.
Relations with the Clinton Administration have weakened as Putin seeks closer relations with the European Union (EU), China, India, Iran, Libya, and other states. His government openly espouses the creation of a "multipolar world" to offset America's superpower status--which should be a major concern of the new U.S. President, George W. Bush. More than at any other time since the collapse of the Soviet Union, a strong, centralized Russian government would be capable of mobilizing resources to challenge America's interests and leadership role at every turn.
Bush must establish an approach to Russia that protects U.S. national interests first, striking a balance in policy between deterrence and dialogue. U.S. national security must be the top priority, since Russia under Putin is continuing to proliferate ballistic missiles and missile technology that could be used by rogue states against U.S. territory, American troops stationed abroad, or U.S. allies. Past attempts to bestow additional International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank loans and credits on Russia while simultaneously lecturing the Russians on a range of subjects like nuclear proliferation have not been effective. The funds have been diverted, wasted, or used fraudulently without any encouragement of structural economic reform or more responsible international security policies by the Kremlin.
To help the Russian people integrate their country into the community of democratic nations and their economy into global trade flows, the United States should focus on helping to resolve the problems that Russian society now faces. It should include mutually beneficial arrangements in which the West invests in Russia's economy, providing Russia adopts economic and legal reforms to lessen the risks and make it more investment-friendly.
Although the goal of Russian democratization remains important, it should never be allowed to override America's protection of its own national interests. One of the most serious mistakes made by the Clinton Administration was defining Russia's democratization as a top foreign policy priority to the exclusion of others. This led it to downplay Russia's actions in Chechnya, Iran, and Iraq and to be overly sensitive to Russia's criticisms of America's plans to deploy a ballistic missile defense system.
Such one-sided relations must end. The United States should not allow the goal of democratizing Russia to mute its criticism of Russia when circumstances warrant it. Instead, while endeavoring as best it can to promote democracy, free markets, and the rule of law in Russia, the Bush Administration should base its foreign policy approach less on Russian rhetoric and more on Russian external behavior. return to menu
E. Loose Nukes
1. Russian 'loose nukes' called dire threat to U.S. security
The Baltimore Sun
January 10, 2001
(for personal use only)
WASHINGTON - Despite nearly a decade of U.S. efforts to help Russia control its huge nuclear stockpile, a high-profile study commission has concluded that the potential theft of nuclear technology from Russia is "the most dangerous unmet security threat" faced by the United States and that Washington and its allies should devote an additional $30 billion to the problem during the next decade.
The report, due today from a bipartisan task force headed by former Senate Majority Leader Howard H. Baker Jr. and former White House counsel Lloyd N. Cutler, concluded that tons of Russia's weapons-grade nuclear material are poorly guarded and ill-accounted for, according to people who have seen the paper.
It concludes that current Energy Department programs to improve the situation are inadequate and that spending should be roughly quintupled.
The panel, whose members visited Russian nuclear compounds and received classified U.S. intelligence briefings, urged creation of a "loose nukes" czar to coordinate the sometimes conflicting nonproliferation efforts among the departments of Energy, State and Defense.
Of particular importance, the paper said, is the need for Russian and U.S. officials to do a better job of consolidating scores of Russian nuclear sites into fewer, better-guarded locations.
The task force, appointed in March by Energy Secretary Bill Richardson, largely endorsed existing Energy Department programs in Russia but concluded that at current spending levels they might take decades to significantly reduce the proliferation threat.
"The group felt very strongly that the threat of loose nuclear material falling into illicit hands was a very dangerous one," said a task force member who spoke anonymously because the report hasn't been issued.
"It's not as though we haven't learned anything" from antiproliferation programs in Russia, the member said. "But now, as we find out more, we're thinking, 'Holy smokes, what else is out there?'"
The Baker-Cutler report is expected to add to renewed concerns not only about Russia's rich trove of weapons-grade material but also about the 1 million Russian nuclear scientists and engineers who many fear might work for Iraq, Iran or other unfriendly nations.
Television executive Ted Turner announced Monday that he will donate $250 million to establish a private foundation to address nuclear proliferation.
Russia has more than 100 nuclear sites. Within those locations, task force members reported seeing nuclear material stored in several buildings, often with inadequate security.
Security breaches and attempted nuclear thefts in recent years have underscored the threat. U.S. intelligence officials fear that terrorists or hostile nations will smuggle out enough Russian material to manufacture a nuclear weapon.
Last year, Russia arrested about a dozen people suspected of stealing materials from the Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky naval base on the Pacific. While apparently none of the stolen goods involved nuclear material, the incident illustrated the vulnerability of such facilities, analysts said.
In 1998, an employee of the Sarov Russian weapons lab was charged with trying to sell documents to Iraq and Afghanistan. Since the end of the Cold War and the decline of Russia's economy, highly trained Russian scientists are often poorly paid or unemployed.
The situation is severe enough that Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeev and Chief of the General Staff Anatoly Kvashnin have quietly asked U.S. officials for more assistance in controlling Russia's nuclear stores, said Bruce Blair, president of the Center for Defense Information in Washington.
"There is definitely evidence of lax security, and there is definitely evidence of vulnerabilities, of deficiencies," said Blair, who resigned from the task force last summer for personal reasons and has not seen the report. "Part of the problem is the security and accounting are so lax that it's hard to know whether any of [the nuclear material] has been ripped off."
The United States has backed efforts to inventory and secure Russia's nuclear stores almost since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. A huge step forward, analysts agree, was the decision by non-Russian, former Soviet states to return their nuclear weapons and materials to Russia.
Current U.S. programs
Energy Department programs to reduce the loose nukes risk include the material protection, control and accounting program, which aims to identify and guard dangerous material; the plutonium disposition program, which converts highly radioactive material into nonweapons material; a program in which the United States buys enriched uranium; and the nuclear cities initiative, which furnishes financing for Russian nuclear scientists to become legitimate entrepreneurs.
Commission members also identified the need for better coordination among U.S. agencies involved in addressing Russian nuclear capabilities. For example, Energy Department efforts have been hindered by State Department concerns about diplomatic implications and by Pentagon interest in intelligence on Russian capabilities, they said.
"There are some troubling stories about the lack of coordination within the U.S. government," said a task force member who emphasized the need for a loose nukes czar. "This is a very serious problem."
Covering the cost
The U.S. government spends more than $600 million annually on Russian antiproliferation programs. A spending increase to $30 billion during the next decade would roughly quintuple the amount spent, and the call for money is likely to unsettle advocates of another expensive national security proposal - a national missile defense.
But panel members said U.S. allies and Russia should be asked to help finance the increase. They said Russia could take over much of the budget once its economy improves.
In one sense, addressing the loose nukes problem "is a bottomless pit," a commission member said. "And I don't think anybody is recommending we spend the rest of the century pouring that kind of money into that situation. But obviously there are some things that can be done that would make an enormous amount of difference." return to menu
F. U.S.-Russian Relations
1. 'No Military Need' for Weapons in Kaliningrad
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
January 11, 2001
(for personal use only)
Yevgeny Maslin, the former chief of the 12th nuclear department of the Russian Defense Ministry, told ITAR-TASS on 10 January that "Russia has no military need to keep tactical nuclear weapons in the Kaliningrad region." His comments came in response to Washington's request for "explanations" about a transfer of such weapons to that exclave (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 January 2001). Maslin said that such questions about Kaliningrad prompt him to ask "why does the US not pull out its tactical nuclear weapons from Europe." return to menu
2. U.S. Relations with Russia and the NIS [Excerpt]
Ambassador Stephen Sestanovich
Special Advisor the to Secretary of State for the Newly Independent States
US Department of State
Foreign Press Center Briefing Transcript
January 9, 2001
(for personal use only)
Q Surzhansky, Itar-Tass News Agency of Russia. Mr. Ambassador, there were some reports last week that Russia may have deployed short-range nuclear weapons to its Kaliningrad military base. And since Russian authorities, including Mr. Putin himself, strongly deny these reports, could you comment on that? Thank you
AMB. SESTANOVICH: The issue of nuclear weapons and their deployments, and the doctrines that govern their use, possible use, and the safety of those weapons -- all these have been issues under discussion among European states over the past decade. These are -- the fact that such a dialogue has been created has been one element increasing security and mutual confidence in Europe. This is an important achievement. It was most recently reflected in the discussions in the permanent joint council in NATO this past fall, where there were discussions precisely of these - of all these questions.
We have followed this question closely. Without commenting on intelligence matters, which is inappropriate, I can tell you that there has been no gap in the attention to or analysis of this problem. But I don't want to comment further on the specific details that were part of original press reports or the ensuing ones, except to say that we are consulting with our allies in Europe on the subject, in NATO. We are consulting with other regional states --
Q (Off mike) --
AMB. SESTANOVICH: On the issue of nuclear weapons, nuclear weapons in the Baltic region, inasmuch as these have been the subject of some commitments made in the past, and it -- we have of course encountered a high degree of interest on the part of other governments in the region, as is natural whenever there are reports of increased -- or movements of nuclear weapons or increases in their levels.
I think it's important that we find a way of restoring confidence on this issue to the extent that it has been undermined by some of these reports. And we would assume that the Russian government would want to clarify some of these questions.
Yeah? I'll leave it to you to recognize people.
Q My name is -- (inaudible) -- from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. First of all, you know that Russia and Iran are (closing ?) together. What does it mean for the region, and what would be the reaction of the U.S. government?
AMB. SESTANOVICH: On the question of Russian relations with Iran, let me start by expressing a sort of the basic principles of our policy toward Iran, which as you know aims at improvement. This has been an element of Secretary Albright's tenure as secretary of State.
She has spoken on the subject in very important ways, and yet reiterated the difficulties that continue to mark our relations with Iran -- difficulties having to do with the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, support for international terrorism, opposition to the Middle East peace process. Our view of Russia's relations with Iran is not to think that in all ways a closer relationship is negative, but is -- our focus is on those particular problems that matter most to the United States, and that -- where our interests are specially involved. If closer Russian relations with Iran make it easier for Iran to develop weapons of mass destruction or ballistic missile capabilities, or to acquire military capabilities that are destabilizing in the region, or make it easier for Iran to support international terrorist groups, or strengthen Iran in its opposition to the Middle East peace process, we consider that very negative, and I think that we are not alone in having those concerns about Iranian policy.
We would -- we have has no shortage of opportunities to express those concerns to the Russian government, which I might say professes full agreement on those three points that I mentioned.
Q I would like to go back to these nuclear missiles in Kaliningrad region, because you were very diplomatic and didn't say anything. (Laughter.) Just two short questions. Have these consultations with your European allies, have they produced any result? And the second question: Poland called for international inspections of military facilities in Kaliningrad, of course in accordance with existing arms control agreements. What is the administration's position on this proposal?
AMB. SESTANOVICH: The -- I think I am going to have to be diplomatic again in this sense, that we have a discussion of this question with all of our allies, including Poland, and now extending to other states in the region. I think the concerns that government feel on this issue are understandable, and for that reason we have felt it very important to develop a common understanding of what the situation is, to share information that we have with our allies in an appropriate way, and to understand the security implications of this matter as we see them. But I think it -- while these consultations are under way -- wouldn't be appropriate for me to prejudge their result.
Q (Off mike.)
AMB. SESTANOVICH: I've seen a number of different ideas for international responses that might be appropriate to deal with this problem. I am not sure that any government has a single view of how to deal with this question.
Q What's the current understanding in this administration of Russia's intentions regarding arms sales to Iran? Thank you.
AMB. SESTANOVICH: Let me answer the second one first. I think there is a -- the question of Russian intentions with respect to arms sales to Iran certainly needs to be clarified.
It's been a discussion that we have had ongoing over a period of time. But in the aftermath of Defense Minister Sergeyev's visit to Iran, in which there were apparently rather extensive discussions of military sales, I am sure that this is an issue that will remain under discussion for some time. A visit of this sort would naturally be the topic of discussion, so that we better understand the potential regional impact, a matter that of course is of interest not only to us but to states of the region as well.
Looking at the question of changes in relations between the United States and Russia in the course of the past year, with the accession of a new president, it is not an easy matter to capture in a few words. We will be digesting this one for quite a while. It reminds one of the remark that Chou En-lai allegedly made of the French Revolution -- it being too early to tell what it's true historical significance was. I wouldn't want to suggest that this change in personalities in the Russian presidency has the same significance, but certainly in a country as important as Russia any change of this kind will have -- will be one of great significance.
You know, President Putin said in an interview just before the new year that, in describing Russian foreign policy, that it was important for Russia to get over its imperial ambitions and to act on the basis of national interests. I think any American administration would welcome the first part of his statement, and ask what the second part means. In his remarks, President Putin said, We will define our interests in a -- define and defend our interests in a very consistent and hard-headed way. There is a clear potential for Russia to define its interests in a way that brings it into greater conflict with its neighbors, with other European states, with the United States as well. And I think it's fair to say that over the past year there has been a strong concern among all those states that I mentioned, whether close to Russia or not, about whether a new definition of Russian national interests and new approach to defending them is taking hold. I don't think there is a settled view of that matter anywhere as to exactly what that definition is going to be, and whether Russia will advance those interests in a way that creates more problems than solutions. But I think there is a -- what is more than uncertainty and less than alarm about whether this is going to be a major turning point in the way Russia defines its national interests. return to menu
G. Nuclear Waste
1. Planned Murmansk nuclear repossessing plant in difficulties
The Norway Post
January 11, 2001
(for personal use only)
A planned repossessing plant for liquid nuclear waste in the Russian city of Murmansk, which was to be financed by Norway and the US, is in difficulties, according to Aftenposten.
The plant is still not ready for production, six years after the project was started.
The US has withdrawn from the project, but the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority is still of the opinion that Norway ought to grant more money, Aftenposten writes.
The paper has been given access to an internal report written for the Authority.
Norway had first agreed to take part in the building up of the reposessing plant, but it soon became apparent that a secure storage plant was also needed, and Norway has now agreed to pay for this as well. return to menu