GENEVA, Switzerland (Reuters) --Russia's foreign minister has called for "active dialogue" with the U.S. over its proposed National Missile Defense (NMD) programme.
Speaking a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin and the new U.S. President George Bush had their first telephone conversation, Igor Ivanov suggested a set of fresh measures which he said would preserve their Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty.
Measures to dispel perceived "new missile threats" would include setting up the agreed joint U.S.-Russian Missile Launch Data Exchange Centre and international cooperation regarding theatre missile defence systems, Moscow's top diplomat said on Thursday.
Following his speech to the United Nations Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, Ivanov headed for Berne for talks with his Swiss counterpart, Joseph Deiss.
Those talks were expected to include the politically explosive case of former Kremlin aide Pavel Borodin, held in New York last month on a Swiss arrest warrant for suspected money laundering in connection with refurbishment of the Kremlin.
Bush favours constructing the shield --- at an estimated cost of $60 billion -- to protect America from so-called rogue states, such as Iran, Iraq and North Korea, but the 1972 ABM pact bans such systems.
"We think it necessary that an active and meaningful dialogue on this topic be resumed with the new U.S. administration as soon as possible," Ivanov declared.
Quoting Roman philosopher-statesman Lucius Seneca, he said: "Some medicines are more dangerous than diseases themselves."
Ivanov added: "As an alternative to a national missile defence system we propose a whole package of constructive political and diplomatic measures. Their aim is to dispel concerns -- not only by the United States -- about the so-called 'new missile threats' while preserving the ABM Treaty."
Ivanov reiterated Russia's call to negotiate with the United States on a START-III pact to cut their arsenals of strategic nuclear warheads to 1,500 each, instead of 2,000-2,500 each. "We are ready subsequently to consider even lower levels," he added.
The U.N. body's 66 member states include the five official nuclear powers (Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States) and nuclear-capable India and Pakistan.
Russia, China and Pakistan have strongly criticised the proposed U.S. missile shield which they say would violate ABM and upset global strategic stability.
Ivanov called on the Geneva talks -- mired in a stalemate for four years -- to launch negotiations to ban an arms race in outer space and also to ban production of nuclear bomb-making fissile materials (plutonium and highly enriched uranium).
"It is high time that a reliable international legal 'safety net' be created in this respect. Efforts and resources of our space agencies should be aimed at peaceful, including commercial, cooperation," Russia's foreign minister said.
In a speech, British envoy Ian Soutar called the fissile talks "an essential step" in nuclear disarmament, but said the time was not ripe for full-fledged negotiations on outer space. return to menu
2. Putin, Bush Hold Friendly First Talks by Phone
February 1, 2001
(for personal use only)
MOSCOW, Feb 1, 2001 -- (Reuters) Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke for the first time by telephone on Wednesday with U.S. leader George Bush and both men backed maintaining a close dialogue in the future.
In the first soundings by the new U.S. administration of its Russian counterpart, a Kremlin spokesman said Bush had called Putin. As well as Russian-U.S. ties, the two leaders also touched on the case of former Kremlin aide Pavel Borodin, detained in New York on a Swiss arrest warrant.
"Both sides expressed the firm intention to develop Russian-U.S. cooperation, a close and fruitful dialogue between the two countries and to find mutually acceptable solutions to problematic questions," a Kremlin statement said.
In Washington, the White House said the two leaders had spoken for about 15 minutes.
"Both presidents stressed the importance of engaging one another in an ongoing dialogue," National Security Council spokeswoman Mary Ellen Countryman said. "They agreed it would be a good idea to meet."
She said Bush had sent a letter to Putin on Tuesday, in response to the Russian leader's letter last week. The Kremlin had said the letter from Putin set out Moscow's views on how to improve bilateral relations.
Countryman would not give any details of the conversation on Wednesday or the letter except to say they covered a range of topics.
TRICKY QUESTION OF ARMS CONTROL
One of the issues likely to be on the agenda of any future face-to-face meeting between the two presidents is the tricky question of arms control and preserving the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty.
Bush appointees have said they favor building a National Missile Defense (NMD) system for the United States to protect it from what Washington calls rogue states, such as Iran and Iraq.
But building such a system would need amendments to the ABM pact, which Russia and China have said could lead to a new arms race. French President Jacques Chirac voiced similar fears this week and other Western countries have expressed reservations.
The two leaders also discussed a timetable for the first meetings to take place between senior officials.
Putin and Bush also discussed Borodin's case.
"Putin expressed the hope that a solution will be found for this problem which will correspond both to legal and humanitarian principles. Such an approach was met by G. Bush with understanding," the statement added.
Borodin has been held in a New York jail cell for two weeks after being detained by police on the Swiss warrant.
Swiss prosecutors have accused Borodin of money laundering connected to alleged kickbacks from Swiss construction companies during Borodin's time as head of the Kremlin's huge property empire under former Russian President Boris Yeltsin.
Borodin denies the charge but has twice been denied bail. Russia has asked the courts to free Borodin, now head of a body overseeing a union between Russia and Belarus. return to menu
3. Lawmaker Promises Responses to U.S. NMD Deployment
Military News Agency
February 1, 2001
(for personal use only)
MOSCOW, Feb 1, 2001 -- (Military News Agency) Russia knows what to respond to violation of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty by the United States, Army General Andrei Nikolayev, defense committee chairman of the State Duma lower house of parliament, said on Wednesday.
Nikolayev was asked by the Military News Agency to comment on the recent statements by newly-appointed U.S. administration members concerning the possibility of National Missile Defense (NMD) deployment.
"On the whole the NMD reminds of the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) and cannot be an absolutely reliable system," said Nikolayev.
Even U.S. specialists admit that the NMD efficiency does not exceed 80-85 percent, stressed Nikolayev. That means that two out of ten launched missiles will reach the U.S. territory all the same. The U.S. leadership should admit the necessity to invest USD 70 billion to 80 billion in the national defense industry rather than try to make its citizens believe that a 100 percent reliable system can be set up, Nikolayev said.
In case America deploys the NMD, Russia may come back to the idea of "heavy missiles", each carrying several powerful warheads, the lawmaker stressed. return to menu
4. Germany, Russia mull U.S. missile shield
January 30, 2001
(for personal use only)
MOSCOW, Russia -- Objections to the United States' new missile defence programme have topped the agenda in talks between German and Russian military officials.
Germany's Defence Minister Rudolf Scharping is in Moscow to discuss the National Missile Defence (NMD) system, currently being promoted by President George W. Bush, with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and top military officials.
Scharping shares the reservations of most European NATO members about the U.S. proposal to build an anti-missile shield and the amendments it will almost certainly entail to the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty.
French Defence Minister Alain Richard also upheld a commitment to ABM during Moscow talks this month.
Russia, backed by China, sees ABM as an untouchable foundation for all disarmament talks.
As Scharping was beginning his day of talks with Ivanov, Russia's military chiefs were issuing a fresh warning that proceeding with the National Missile Defence (NMD) system could unleash a new arms race.
Colonel-General Valery Manilov, Russia's First Deputy Chief of Staff, said an alternative Russian system involving NATO and the European Union would leave the military balance untouched and serve the same purpose of eliminating the threat of missile strikes by "so-called rogue regimes."
"If it is deemed necessary to modernise the system, then this must be done gradually, with the agreement of other countries," he said.
Russian missile experts are travelling to the U.S. to work with specialists on a defence system seen as an alternative to NMD.
The new Bush administration is keen on NMD, dubbed in Europe the "Son of Star Wars", and U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld last week repeated his belief that ABM was of limited value in the post-communist era and that Bush was committed to NMD.
The U.S. system is supposed to guard against the possibility of missile strikes from "rogue states" like Iran and North Korea.
NMD "unrealistic" - Scharping says
Scharping told a German newspaper last week that he viewed NMD as unrealistic.
Like Russian officials, he has called on Bush to discuss the proposal with Washington's European allies. Scharping was also likely to discuss the effects of depleted uranium munitions used by NATO in Balkan wars through the 1990s.
He was at the centre of a diplomatic tiff with Washington this month when he summoned the U.S. charge d'affaires to seek more information about possible plutonium traces in the weapons.
Russia has denounced their use in both the Balkans and the 1991 Gulf War and called on NATO to conduct and pay for investigations into the effects of their use.
Scharping is also likely to discuss the EU's plan to raise a force of up to 60,000 men for disaster relief and peacekeeping.
Russia has offered no objections to the plan but wants to be kept abreast of developments.
They are also to talk about the situation in the Middle East.
Scharping's visit comes ahead of a European security conference on Saturday in Munich, Germany, which is expected to discuss the NMD system and which Rumsfeld is expected to attend. Putin proposed an alternative limited missile defence last year, which unlike the U.S. plan, apparently would not violate the ABM treaty. However, few details have been released. return to menu
5. Russia Worried About NATO Expansion
January 30, 2001
(for personal use only)
MOSCOW (AP) - NATO (news - web sites)'s eastward expansion could plunge Russia's relations with the West into crisis, Russian officials warned Germany Tuesday. They also renewed their opposition to U.S. plans for a missile defense system.
Sergei Ivanov, the secretary of President Vladimir Putin (news - web sites)'s powerful Security Council, gave the blunt warning about NATO to German Defense Minister Rudolph Scharping. Germany is a key member of NATO.
"If implemented, these plans will create a fundamentally new situation in Europe that objectively infringes on Russia's political and military interests," Ivanov was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency. "This could lead to a serious crisis."
Former Warsaw Pact nations Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic joined the Western alliance last year, bringing NATO to the border of Russia's militarily strategic enclave of Kaliningrad, a chunk of Russian territory wedged between Lithuania and Poland but separated from the rest of Russia.
The former Soviet republics of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia are eager to join NATO. Russia vehemently opposes their membership, which would make Kaliningrad surrounded by NATO and give the alliance another border with mainland Russia.
Unconfirmed reports this month said Russia had sent tactical nuclear weapons to Kaliningrad, possibly as an expression of its opposition to NATO expansion. Scharping told a news conference that Germany had no evidence that Russia had sent such weapons to the enclave.
Scharping also discussed arms control issues, including Russia's opposition to a U.S. plan to deploy a limited missile defense system, with Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev.
Russia has steadfastly opposed U.S. proposals to change the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty to allow such a missile defense system and has lobbied U.S. allies in Europe against the proposal.
Sergeyev told reporters Tuesday that Russia would continue to insist on preserving the ABM treaty, calling it a "cornerstone of international security and stability," Interfax reported.
Scharping said at a press conference that although Germany was not part of ABM, his country "had a strong interest in maintaining and observing the treaty." The new administration of President Bush (news - web sites) should conduct "intensive negotiations both within NATO and with Russia" to work out differences over arms control, he said.
He said Russia, the United States and Europe should work together to preserve the existing framework of arms control agreements. "We must not endanger the international security architecture of arms control and disarmament," Scharping said.
Scharping's visit comes ahead of a European security conference Saturday in Munich, Germany, which new U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is expected to attend.
The Munich talks are expected to include discussion of the U.S. missile defense proposal. U.S. leaders say deployment of a missile defense system is necessary to protect the nation against limited ballistic missile attacks by such nations as North Korea (news - web sites) and Iran. Russia and China contend that deployment of the system could re-ignite the arms race.
Putin proposed an alternative shared European missile defense last year. However, few details have been released, and Scharping said Tuesday that such a system was not yet practical. "It is senseless to talk about goals that remain only goals and cannot be implemented," he said. return to menu
B. Plutonium Disposition
1. Moscow Seeks Nuclear Power's Holy Grail
St. Petersburg Times
January 30, 2001
(for personal use only)
Editor's note: This is the first article in a two-part series examining Russia's nuclear industry and its plans for the future.
Plans by the Russian government to import and reprocess spent nuclear fuel have caused something of a stir in recent months. As the Nuclear Power Ministry claims potential revenues of billions of dollars, its critics have loudly voiced their concerns on safety issues, financial viability and nuclear accidents in the past.
Meanwhile, the United States and Russia are set to implement another billion-dollar agreement to develop special fuel using weapons-grade plutonium and burn it in existing nuclear reactors.
At first glance, the two projects seem to contradict one another. Reprocessing the imported spent nuclear fuel will give Russia uranium, liquid waste, and plutonium. Yet the agreement with the United States appears predicated on non-proliferation - reducing the world's stocks of plutonium.
But interviews with experts and government officials here and in America show that Russia has a long-term vision: the acquisition - at Western expense - of an infrastructure that would allow Russia to abandon traditional uranium energy sources in favor of a more dangerous, but potentially inexhaustible, supply of plutonium fuel.
In other words, Russia is in pursuit of something that has always eluded the nuclear world: a closed-cycle, self-perpetuating nuclear energy system based on plutonium. All it needs is the cash. And both the above plans fit into that scheme.
LEFT HAND, RIGHT HAND
With the plutonium disposition agreement signed last summer by Bill Clinton and Vladimir Putin, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is seeking to reduce surplus weapons-grade plutonium in both countries by destroying 34 metric tons in the U.S. and 34 tons in Russia. (Former Russian president Boris Yeltsin stated in 1997 that Russia has about 50 tons of surplus weapons-grade plutonium stored in dismantled warheads, about half of the total surplus in the world.)
While this agreement was being thrashed out, Yevgeny Adamov, Russia's nuclear power minister, was campaigning vociferously for a pet project he has been discussing for several years - the paid import of nuclear waste from other countries for disposal and reprocessing in Russia. So confident was Adamov that the Duma would support him, he struck a deal in December with a nuclear power plant in Bulgaria to import a shipment of nuclear waste from the plant, before the law allowing Russia to accept such imports had even cleared its first reading in the Duma. It passed that first reading a few days later, and it is expected to fare just as well at its final reading in February.
In a country that cannot keep up with its own mounting nuclear waste, however, such a program sounded to many activists like madness. Environmentalists demanded the question be put to a nationwide referendum, and collected 2.6 million signatures - well above the required 2 million - on a petition to get the process going.
The Central Election Commission, or CEC, however, disqualified 800,000 of the signatures over what appeared to be minor technicalities. In several instances, signatures were disqualified because the signatories used "incorrect" abbreviations for their addresses, for example.
Adamov, meanwhile, has managed to shout down any critics in government by showing the bottom line: By charging other nations a fee for taking nuclear waste off their hands, Russia's cashapped nuclear industry could make $21 billion over the next 10 to 15 years. The money would go on increasing the country's nuclear industry, upping its share of energy production from the current 14 percent to 30 percent in 2030, improving salaries and living conditions for nuclear workers, and programs to clean up the various leaks and spills that have blighted Russia's reputation in this field.
In interviews, the DOE said it has no argument with Russia's import plans. According to officials there, the imports would have "no connection" with the DOE's project because, among other reasons, they would do little to enhance Russia's weapons-grade plutonium stocks once reprocessed.
Officials pointed out that the United States has dibs on 94 percent of spent nuclear fuel worldwide - it either possesses it outright, or has consent rights to it in other countries. Adamov can't get his hands on a significant amount of spent fuel without U.S. say-so.
Nonetheless, the DOE's stance makes it clear that Washington will not stand in Adamov's way. The DOE's job, as it sees it, is to dispose of the agreed-upon 68 tons of weapons plutonium over the next 25 years. Whatever happens to the Russian imports is the business of Russia.
CONNECTING TRAINS AND MOX
Whether or not the DOE acknowledges it, however, its own plutonium disposition plan - when enacted in the context of the Nuclear Power Ministry's waste import program - may set the stage for a situation in which Russia not only doesn't deplete its plutonium base, but is given the basic tools by Western countries to increase its plutonium stock infinitely, and virtually for free.
The centerpiece of the DOE's plutonium disposition plan, the organization's Web site says, is the production of a mixed-oxide nuclear fuel, or MOX, a mixture of plutonium oxide and uranium oxide. This fuel would then be burned, on the Russian side, in retrofitted VVER-1000 type reactors, a standard nuclear-power block known as a light-water reactor. Russia has seven of these.
In early January, however, the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, or IEER, released a report that raised a number of technical and security problems with MOX. First, while MOX reactors exist in a number of European countries, they use commercial, reactor-grade plutonium, rather than weapons grade. (Both categories can be used to make a nuclear bomb, although the yield with reactor-grade material is much less predictable.)
A test to see whether weapons-grade plutonium can be used in MOX fuel is about to start at the Chalk River laboratories in Canada. Initial results will be available in four years. If successful, plans to convert Russian light-water reactors to burn MOX will likely go ahead.
The IEER report was highly critical of the concept, saying MOX experiments in Japan and Europe during the 1980s found light-water reactors increase plutonium isotopes, effectively making the plutonium unfit for repeated use as fuel.
This method of destroying the plutonium was selected by Minatom and its DOE counterparts, said the DOE's Laura Holgate, who brokered the disposition accord, because the Russian side steadfastly refused to consider immobilization - that is, burial of fuel in special ceramic chambers.
"I've sat across the negotiating table from Minatom, and they consider plutonium to be a viable resource," said Holgate in a telephone interview from Washington last week.
"The only way they will agree to get rid of it is by burning it in a reactor. If plutonium disposition is to be a reality with the Russians, immobilization is out of the question."
To take the MOX route and burn the plutonium, Russia needs approximately $1.7 billion to convert its reactors and to build, or transport from elsewhere, a plant to fabricate MOX fuel. Though more costly than immobilization, it will at least meet the disposition goal.
The MOX agreement has been hailed as a route to a safer world, an aid to disarmament, a barrier to "loose nukes", as well as a way of generating more electricity in Russia and thus fulfilling Adamov's stated plans.
But experts say that these issues are a sideshow to the real plan. If Russia gets a MOX fuel production facility, it will have made serious inroads into securing a self-perpetuating, plutonium-based economy.
"The U.S. Department of Energy's MOX-producing plans would create a plutonium economy for Russia and stand the plutonium economy of the world on its head," said Edwin Lyman, scientific director of the Nuclear Control Institute (NCI), a Washington-based nuclear energy watchdog organization.
Lyman said further that Holgate's assertion that Russia won't capitulate to an immobilization plan is "a smoke screen."
"Western countries [participating in the plutonium disposition plan] see it as a business deal - with a veneer of social responsibility."
The MOX plan would give Russia a MOX production plant for free, probably by dismantling an unfinished one from Hanau in Germany and rebuilding it here. Regardless of whether or not Russia's light-water reactors are converted, Russia could earn money by selling MOX fuel to other countries. Importing spent fuel is a further source of money, at the same time as its reprocessing would produce more plutonium. In short, Russia would get the cash, the technology and the fuel, without spending a ruble. All this leads in one direction, say analysts: the construction of a new generation of Russian breeder reactors. "This has been the philosophy [of Russia nuclear agencies] going back to the Soviet Union," said Adrian Collings, an industry expert with the London-based Uranium Institute, a non-profit, non-governmental nuclear forum.
Breeder reactors were built to answer the problem of what to do when supplies of uranium ran out. In short, they are designed to create more fuel than they consume by converting a non-fissile isotope of uranium into fissile plutonium, which can then be used as fuel.
However, as the IEER report states, the idea never really worked because breeder reactors proved tricky and expensive to run, while the price of uranium steadily declined, making the reprocessing of spent fuel to extract plutonium uneconomical by comparison.
With a ready stock of military plutonium, however, the breeder reactor could run on MOX fuel - technically a far better means than converted light-water reactors. As MOX fuel passes through a light-water reactor, its energy supply is reduced as the isotopic composition of the plutonium degrades.
This doesn't happen with the breeder. In fact, a breeder reactor can actually increase the purity of the plutonium during the reaction process.
Nothing about breeder reactors is written into the U.S.-Russia agreement on MOX fuel. But as stated above, in order to build a closed plutonium economy, Russia needs - aside from the Western-funded MOX-fabrication facility - breeders, and the cash with which to build them. The latter, recalling Adamov's spent-fuel import program, could already be taken care of. According to the IEER report, the cost of Russia's only existing breeder reactor, the BN-600 located at the Mayak reprocessing facility, in the Chelyabinsk Oblast, would be $918 million if translated into today's terms. Should Adamov's plans reach fruition, Russia would feasibly have the money to build several breeders.
Nuclear Power Ministry spokesman Yury Bespalko said in a telephone interview from Moscow last week that Russia has had a so-called BREST breeder reactor on the drawing board for some years. This reactor is designed to create plutonium on a one-to-one ratio, which would make it, for lack of a better term, a perpetual-motion machine.
Bespalko would provide no further details, and Lyman was skeptical that the Russians could get the reactor to work.
But Collings at the Uranium Institute said that the Russians were well versed in breeder technology, describing the BN-600 reactor as "highly successful." "Russia has enormous nuclear-research capabilities at the laboratory level," he said.
One voice of dissent, published on the Norwegian environmental group Bellona's Web site, came from Alexei Yab lo kov, a former Yeltsin environmental adviser, who said the Russians would be unlikely to attempt a breeder economy, opting instead for cheaper fresh uranium and a host of new light-water reactors.
And a DOE official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the United States would refuse any technical cooperation on any breeder programs in Russia as long as Russia continued supporting the development of a nuclear energy program in Iran.
Other alternatives available to the United States, said the official, were to pressure Russia's potential waste disposal client states - like Switzerland, Taiwan, South Korea and Eastern European states such as Bulgaria - into not letting go of their spent fuel.
But when the MOX plan is through, that still leaves Russia 16 tons of weapons-grade plutonium declared surplus, another 30 metric tons of separated commercial plutonium stored at Mayak, plus waste disposal contracts that may exist without U.S. knowledge, said NCI's executive director Richard Rosenthal.
Summing up their objections to the DOE's plutonium-disposition plan, Arjun Makhijani, the author of the critical IEER report, wrote:
"The net result will be that the first military plutonium will be used in the MOX plant, decreasing the military plutonium stock, while commercial reprocessing increases the commercial plutonium stock.
Then the military-origin MOX spent fuel can be reprocessed while already separated commercial plutonium is fabricated into MOX fuel. In the meantime, more breeder reactors would be built. All but the last element would be financed with Western money.
"This seems to be the plan that Minatom is banking on." return to menu
C. Russian-Iranian Relations
1. Iran Nuclear Plant to Be Operational by 2003
Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2001
(for personal use only)
TEHRAN, Iran - Iran's first nuclear power plant, under construction in the southern city of Bushehr, was expected to be operational in about two years, according to a media report Wednesday.
The Persian daily newspaper Jam-e Jam quoted Khalil Mousavi, the head of public relations office of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, as saying that construction of the plant was at "full speed."
The construction is being handled by Russian technicians. According to the newspaper, Russia signed a contract with Iran in September 1998 to finish the project within 52 months.
The plant was designed to generate 1,000 megawatts of electricity during the first phase, Mousavi said.
The facility was initially to be built by the German company Seimens, but the company pulled out following the 1979 Islamic revolution and the subsequent Western embargo on high-technology transfers to Iran. Iran filed a lawsuit against Germany seeking compensation for losses, while Germany counter-sued on claims that Iran failed to meet its commitments.
The United States has voiced fierce opposition to the construction of Iran's nuclear plant, claiming Iran can use it for producing weapons of mass destruction. Iran has repeatedly stressed its "peaceful objectives" in pursuing the production of nuclear energy. return to menu
D. Russian Nuclear Power Industry
1. Nuclear Plants Planned
The Moscow Times
Frebruary 1, 2001
(for personal use only)
Russia plans to build 40 nuclear reactors by 2020 to prevent a potential "energy crisis," Agence France Presse quoted Deputy Nuclear Energy Minister Boulat Nigmatulin as saying Monday.
"We are 20 years behind. These reactors have to be built by 2020," Nigmatulin told AFP.
He explained that the original plan to build the reactors was devised in the 1980s but stalled in the 1990s.
Russia currently has 19 nuclear reactors operating at nine plants. "Russia's European flank will soon face an energy deficit. The only possible solution open to the government is to build new reactors," the deputy minister said. return to menu
2. Ukraine, Russia discuss supply of nuclear fuel
January 30, 2001
(for personal use only)
KIEV, January 30 (Itar-Tass) - Ukraine and Russia are holding negotiations on the supply of nuclear fuel in 2001. Kiev would like to buy fuel for all the 13 units of nuclear power plants, and the fuel cost may make about 210 million dollars, a source in the PR department of Ukraine's Energoatom company has told Itar- Tass.
There are also negotiations about the transportation of used nuclear fuel to Russia's Krasnoyarsk mining and chemical plant and the Chelyabinsk Mayak plant.
The shipment of used fuel from the first and second units of the Rovno nuclear power plant has been postponed from 2000 to 2001. The overall yearly cost of shipments will make 70-80 dollars. return to menu
E. Export Controls
1. Fast Computers, Deadly Enemies
The New York Times
January 31, 2001
(for personal use only)
WASHINGTON As President Bush sifts through the pile of his predecessor's last-minute directives to spot the executive orders he wants to - and can - overturn, there is one he should put at the top of the list. Just days before leaving office, President Bill Clinton - in a last-minute gift to Silicon Valley - moved to lower the controls on the export of America's most powerful computers.
If Mr. Clinton's directive stands (Congress has 60 days to overturn it, but probably won't), a host of foreign countries will be able to build better weapons with American equipment.
Today, he who computes fastest wins wars. The United States has always used its most powerful computers to design nuclear warheads. And in modern warfare, computers are used for surveillance, communications, targeting and the precision- guiding of munitions.
Mr. Clinton's directive will allow computers that perform up to 85 billion operations a second to be sold to countries like China, India and Pakistan - all of which are building nuclear and missile arsenals - and to Russia, which is helping Iran do the same. These computers are 44 times more powerful than the ones these countries' military plants could buy from America only about a year ago. The result will be a big increase in foreign arms production.
In a press release about the new directive, the Clinton administration said that such export relaxation is inevitable. Controls on high-speed computers, it claimed, are "becoming ineffective" because of what's known as "clustering" - the ability to achieve fast computing speeds by connecting together a number of lower-speed computers. Indeed, Mr. Clinton went so far as to recommend that export controls on all computers might as well be dropped, a suggestion that, if followed, would include the export of the multimillion-dollar (and multithousand-chip) machines in our national laboratories now trying to simulate atomic explosions.
The truth is that clustering works, but not as well as a single fast machine. It is quite difficult to assign pieces of a complex calculation to different computers and then combine the results.
Among other things, the connections between the computers slow the speed. That is why foreign buyers still pay top dollar for the fastest American computers they are allowed to buy: They can't get the same result with a bunch of laptops hooked together with cables.
In a mid-December report, the General Accounting Office criticized Mr. Clinton's previous computer-export relaxation, which raised the top allowable speed to 28 billion operations a second from 12.5. The agency said the new ceiling failed to assess "the national security impact on the United States of Russia, China, or other countries obtaining high-performance computing." That presidential directive, issued last August, goes into effect at the end of February.
And while the G.A.O. found that in some cases clustering is a successful substitute for higher-powered computers, it recommended convening a panel of experts to figure out what to do about clustering - not wholesale export deregulation.
The new administration should heed this advice and get its best brains working on the computer export problem. In the meantime, it should rescind, if it can, our outgoing president's hasty and ill-considered directive. return to menu
F. Nonproliferation Policy and Implementation
1. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY NONPROLIFERATION PROGRAMS --
(Senate - January 25, 2001)
[Page: S565] GPO's PDF
(for personal use only)
Mr. BINGAMAN. Mr. President, the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board recently completed a review of the Department of Energy's (DOE) nonproliferation programs with Russia and released a report card assessing the contributions and needs of those programs. Two renowned Americans, former Senator Howard Baker and Lloyd Cutler, served as co-chairmen of a bipartisan task force comprised of technical experts, respected academicians and distinguished Congressmen and Senators from both political parties representing both chambers of the Congress. My colleagues will be interested to know that former Senators on the task force included Senators Baker, Boren, Hart, McClure, Nunn, and Simpson. Former House Members included Representatives Derrick, Hamilton, and Skaggs. In short, this task force brought together an experienced bipartisan group of esteemed experts whose views are well respected to examine the status of DOE's nonproliferation programs with Russia. The report they have produced should be required reading for everyone concerned about what the nation needs to do to meet our most important national security requirements.
No one could question that the greatest risks of proliferating weapons and materials of mass destruction (WMD) come from the massive WMD infrastructure left behind when the Soviet Union dissolved. Experts estimate that the former Soviet Union produced more than 40,000 nuclear weapons and left behind a huge legacy of highly enriched uranium (HEU) and plutonium---enough to build as many or more than 40,000 additional nuclear weapons. We are just now beginning to comprehend the vast quantities of chemical and biological weapons produced in the former Soviet Union. We have learned much about the stockpiles of nuclear, biological, and chemical materials that still exist in today's Russia. We have a fuller understanding of the extensive industrial infrastructure in Russia which is still capable of conducting research and producing such weapons. We are anxiously aware of the thousands of experienced Russian scientists and technicians who worked in that complex, many of whom are in need of a stable income.
Those huge numbers assume frightening implications when one considers that two years ago, conspirators at a Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy facility were caught trying to steal nuclear materials almost sufficient to build a nuclear weapon. At the same time, the mayor of Krasnoyarsk, a closed "nuclear city" in the Russian nuclear weapons complex, warned that a popular uprising was unavoidable in his city since nuclear scientists and other workers had not been paid for many months and that basic medical supplies were not available to serve the population. In December, 1998, Russian authorities arrested an employee at Russia's premier nuclear weapons laboratory in Sarov for espionage and charged him with attempting to sell nuclear weapon design information to agents from Iraq and Afghanistan. I am certain that many of my colleagues in the Senate have heard the stories regarding attempted smuggling of radioactive materials by Russian Navy personnel aboard their decaying submarine fleet. There are numerous other incidents that bring the Russian proliferation threat from incomprehensible quantities to real life threats of massive destruction.
In reviewing those threats and the various DOE programs underway to meet those dangers, the task force drew several major conclusions and recommendations on how we should proceed to reduce and ultimately eliminate the proliferation threats posed by Russia. Mr. President and colleagues of the Senate, let me cite those findings and recommendations for you.
The task force found that the "most urgent unmet national security threat to the United States today is the danger that weapons of mass destruction or weapons--usable material in Russia could be stolen and sold to terrorists or hostile nation states and used against American troops abroad or citizens at home." They noted that "current nonproliferation programs in the Department of Energy, the Department of Defense (DoD), and related agencies have achieved impressive results (in supporting nonproliferation objectives)......, but their limited mandate and function fall short of what is required to address adequately the threat."
The task force calls for the new Administration and the 107th Congress to increase our efforts to meet the proliferation threat, the dimensions of which we are only beginning to fully understand. In so doing, the report recommends that we undertake a net assessment of the threat, develop a strategy to meet it using specific goals and measurable objectives, establish a centralized command of our financial and human resources needed to do the job, and identify criteria for measuring the benefits to the United States of expanded nonproliferation programs. In particular, the task force urges the President in consultation with the Congress and in cooperation with the Russian Federation to quickly formulate a strategic plan to prevent the outflow of Russian nuclear weapons scientific expertise and to secure or neutralize all nuclear weapons-usable material in Russia during the next eight to ten year period. The task force estimates that it would take less than one percent of the U.S. defense budget or less than $30 billion over the next decade to do the job.
In short there is no more cost effective way to achieve our own national security goals than by investing in the DOE and DoD nonproliferation programs being conducted in cooperation with Russia. I urge the President, members of his administration, and my colleagues in the Senate to understand the importance of these programs to the nation. As we proceed in the uncharted waters of relations between the United States and Russia in the coming months and years, I hope we will be mindful of the central importance of these programs to our national security and to their great significance to cooperative relationships between our countries. I urge all of you to read this report carefully and support its recommendations during the forthcoming legislative cycle. return to menu
G. Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty
1. Russia's proposals at Geneva Disarmament Conference
February 1, 2001
(for personal use only)
Russia is prepared to start talks with the United States on drawing up a START-3 Treaty immediately, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said addressing Thursday, February 1, the Disarmament Conference in Geneva. Russia, he said, proposes greater reductions of strategic weapons than earlier agreed upon -1,500 instead of 2,500. And this is not a limit. Moscow is prepared to consider still lower armament levels in future.
Ivanov called also for consolidation of the 1972 ABM Treaty, which "remains one of the pillars of the present architecture of arms control and disarmament," and that Russia was prepared to start talks on the issue as soon as possible.
This stance of Russia is shared by the overwhelming majority of states, as is seen from the voting results at the latest UN General Assembly sessions on a resolution in support for the 1972 ABM Treaty.
The Russian minister called for ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Russia has already ratified the treaty and expects other states, on which its coming into force depends, to follow suit.
Ivanov also proposed drawing up an international document which would prohibit the use of the main weapon-grade materials - enriched uranium and pure plutonium - in nuclear electric power engineering. return to menu