Not under any circumstances will Russia sell weapons-grade plutonium, declared the First Deputy Minister for Atomic Energy Valentin Ivanov. That is how he commented a report alleging that the United States had plans to buy up to 100 tons of weapons-grade plutonium from Russia. Officially, he explained, there have been no such proposals from the U.S. government.
Ivanov explained that the G8 countries, primarily the United States, France, the UK and Japan were discussing conditions to set up a $2 billion fund for carrying out a program of utilizing weapons-grade plutonium.
At the moment, the Atomic Energy Ministry is acting in accordance with an agreement signed by the Russian and American governments in 2000 on utilizing plutonium no longer needed for defense purposes.
Proceeding from this agreement, Russia and the United States have pledged to utilize 34 tons of weapons-grade plutonium each to produce fuel for existing nuclear reactors and for reactors that may appear in the future.
According to Ivanov, out of the required $2 billion, $900 million will be needed for capital construction, and the rest to cover future losses.
The program for utilizing weapons-grade plutonium is to be totally financed by foreign partners. However, he explained, if the fund is not created by 2002, Russia will have every right to back out of that international program.
On the whole, the Russian-American agreement is advantageous for Russia. The program for utilizing plutonium covers a period of 20-25 years. At present, the rate of utilizing plutonium could be 4 tons per year. Out of this volume, two tons could be utilized in Russia while the remainder will be sent to the West for utilization.
The deputy minister does not rule out private capital for financing the plutonium utilization program, and even welcomed such an approach. return to menu
2. Russia may suspend utilization of weapon grade plutonium
February 8, 2001
(for personal use only)
Russia has the right to suspend the utilization of weapons grade plutonium if the West does not allocate it two billion dollars by the end of 2002 for the purpose, an official said on Thursday. First Deputy Atomic Energy Minister Valentin Ivanov said after a Cabinet meeting that he hopes the issue will be resolved. " We are planning to utilize four tonnes of plutonium a year, at most," Ivanov said.
Under the Russian-US agreement signed last September, both countries have to utilize 34 tonnes of weapons grade plutonium each. Ivanov noted that "works under this documents may continue for another 20 to 25 years. " He emphasized that Russia will never sell weapons grade plutonium. "We can sell only fuel plutonium to the West, and that only after the material ceases to be secret," he said. return to menu
3. Russian government urges to plan funding for plutonium utilization
February 8, 2001
(for personal use only)
The Russian government has instructed the Ministry for Atomic Energy and the Foreign Ministry to invigorate consultations aiming to work out an international financial plan and funding mechanisms for the program of utilizing the excess weapon-grade plutonium in the Russian Federation, the department of governmental information told Prime-Tass on Thursday. The concerned ministries and executive power bodies should prepare for the government a package of documents required to further submit a Russian-U.S. draft agreement "On utilization of plutonium, no more required for the defence purposes, and on cooperation in the sphere" to the Russian State Duma lower house of government. return to menu
B. U.S. - Russian Relations
1. Bush Takes First Step to Shrink Arsenal of Nuclear Warheads
Steven Lee Myers
The New York Times
February 9, 2001
(for personal use only)
WASHINGTON, Feb. 8 - President Bush will order a comprehensive review of the nation's nuclear arsenal, a first step toward the unilateral cuts in warheads and missiles that he promised during last year's campaign, senior military and administration officials said today.
Mr. Bush's order - outlined in one of three military-policy directives to be issued by the White House as soon as Friday - will also underscore the administration's commitment to building a defensive missile shield, the officials said.
Less than a week after Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld tried to ease allies' concerns about such a missile system at a conference in Munich, Mr. Bush will order the Pentagon to devise how best to proceed with a shield, given diplomatic, technological and financial difficulties, they said.
The review is intended to move the United States toward what officials said would be a new strategic doctrine, as well as a new approach to arms control that reflects today's world rather than the cold war's superpower standoff.
"You now have to manage the transition from the old world to the new world," a senior administration official said. "And the new world, once we get there, would be one in which defense forces play an important role in keeping the peace, in which you have offensive forces that are properly sized and configured to deal with the new deterrent tasks, rather than the deterrent tasks of 1972."
By issuing the directive, the official said, Mr. Bush will not declare his intention to withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which the United States and Soviet Union signed in 1972 to prohibit national missile defenses. The review, however, appears intended to lay the foundation for a decision to do so in parallel with nuclear cutbacks.
"The effort now," the senior official said, "is going to be to get a coherent policy that ties these pieces together so you can talk to allies and to the Russians and to others, conceptually, about the new nuclear environment."
The nation's arsenal as of last year included 7,519 nuclear warheads on missiles, submarines or bombers, compared with Russia's 6,464. But the review is expected to lead to cuts below the 2,000 to 2,500 warheads proposed by the United States and Russia in 1997 as a goal for a third round of strategic arms reduction talks, or Start III.
Significant reductions in the American arsenal could smooth anxieties among opponents about the administration's pursuit of a missile shield. At the same time, they could expose new differences between Mr. Bush and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who were dismayed by Mr. Bush's decision not to propose an immediate infusion into their budget.
Last year, when President Clinton was considering ways to cut nuclear warheads below the Start III proposals, the chiefs publicly warned against it. The Air Force's chief of staff, Gen. Michael E. Ryan, and the Chief of Naval Operations at the time, Adm. Jay L. Johnson, both said they would be "uncomfortable" with an arsenal that low.
The other directives expected this week will outline the administration's intent to conduct a broader review of the armed services, the officials said. One will focus on the military's strategy and structure, something Mr. Bush has said he wanted to see before deciding how much, if any, to add to the Pentagon budget. The other will focus on pay, benefits and other issues affecting the nearly 1.4 million service personnel and their families.
For the broader review, Mr. Rumsfeld has turned to an eminent analyst, Andrew W. Marshall, head of the Pentagon's Office of Net Assessment. In an interview tonight, Mr. Marshall said he would present preliminary findings next week. "I've simply been asked to provide my views on strategy," he said.
The review of personnnel issues is being led by Adm. David Jeremiah, retired, who was vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff when Gen. Colin L. Powell was chairman.
Mr. Bush first outlined his vision for a strategy that coupled cuts in nuclear warheads with a missile shield during a speech last May, declaring that the nation's security no longer required "a nuclear balance of terror." He also said it was possible to move ahead with defensive missiles and still "defuse confrontation" with Russia, even though President Vladimir V. Putin and others have ardently opposed such a shield. While Mr. Bush did not specify limits on the warheads in the shield, he pledged to seek "the lowest possible number consistent with our national security."
The directive for reviewing the strategy is highly classified, but officials said the president was asking for a review of the nation's strategy, its method of selecting targets, its stockpile, and new and potential threats to the United States and its allies. It is also expected to focus on another of Mr. Bush's campaign promises, to consider whether nuclear weapons can be removed from the highest alert status, at which they are prepared to launch within minutes.
At a hearing today before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said the country's aging weapons-production facilities had deteriorated badly and needed an overhaul.
"The Department of Energy has allowed its nuclear-weapons production plants to degrade over time, leaving a tremendous backlog of deferred maintenance and modernization," he said. "The deterioration of existing facilities is a very serious threat."
The results of the review are expected to provide the broad policy guidelines for a Congressionally mandated "nuclear posture review" that is to be completed this year under the direction of the military, the first such review since 1994.
Bruce G. Blair, a nuclear weapons expert who is president of the Center for Defense Information in Washington, said it was important for the White House to set clear guidelines. Otherwise, he said, military commanders would be unwilling to reduce their reliance on nuclear arms. One official said a report by the National Institute for Public Policy, a Washington research group, provided a broad road map to the administration's approach.
The report, released last month, called for abandoning what its authors called cumbersome arms-control forums with the Russians by moving ahead with unilateral reductions based on a thorough review of nuclear strategy. That view is shared by some Republicans, beginning with Secretary Rumsfeld, who has referred to the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty as "ancient history."
"As long as we can meet our strategic requirements, the question of whether the Russian numbers are somewhat higher or somewhat lower is in a sense irrelevant," said Keith B. Payne, the institute's president and director of the study.
Some of those involved in drafting the institute's report have joined the new administration and are expected to help shape strategic policies: Stephen J. Hadley, the deputy national security adviser; Robert Joseph, a national security aide overseeing counterproliferation; Stephen Cambone, a special assistant to Mr. Rumsfeld; and William Schneider Jr., who informally advised Mr. Rumsfeld during the transition.
Another participant, William E. Odom, a former lieutenant general who served as the director of the National Security Agency from 1985 to 1988, said the group generally believed it was possible to reduce the number of warheads without jeopardizing national security.
Although the institute's report does not specify a figure, General Odom said he believed the United States could accomplish any conceivable military mission with as few as 1,000 to 1,500 strategic nuclear warheads and not have to slog through difficult negotiations with the Russians before doing so. return to menu
2. Russia Angry after CIA Chief Lists it as Threat
February 9, 2001
(for personal use only)
MOSCOW, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Russia reacted angrily on Friday after the head of the CIA accused Moscow of trying to limit U.S. global influence and helping spread technology for weapons of mass destruction.
Central Intelligence Agency head George Tenet, speaking on his annual report on national security threats before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday, accused Russia of supplying military technology to countries such as Iran and Libya.
"He touched on ties with Russia, although in contrast to U.S. President George W. Bush, he preferred to put the Russian theme in the context of 'threats' to U.S. security rather than in that of cooperation," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
"Of course, there are differences in approach to some major international issues, some of them serious," it said.
"But we base our policy on the idea that Washington is an important partner in mutually supporting international security and strategic stability and that Russia and the United States no longer see each other as enemies," it added in a statement.
It also rejected Tenet's comments Russia was helping spread weapons of mass destruction and noted that Moscow had ratified the START-2 arms reduction treaty as well as the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, while Washington had not yet done so.
On the question of arms control, the ministry said: "Practice shows that empty calls and wordy accusations are not needed, but careful and delicate work to strengthen bilateral and multilateral dialogue on these questions, in which the CIA, unfortunately, has not always showed its good side."
New Secretary of State Colin Powell said at his confirmation hearings in January that the United States could only have a strong relationship with Russia if the country stuck to the path of reform and stopped the proliferation of weapons technology.
Tenet also told the Senate panel that Russian President Vladimir Putin wanted to restore Russia's status as a great power even if it was at the expense of neighbouring states or civil rights. He also accused Putin of trying to make media magnate Vladimir Gusinsky give up his independent media company. return to menu
3. Russia entitled to declare its interests
February 8, 2001
(for personal use only)
Deputy Chairman of the Duma International Affairs Committee Konstantin Kosachev comments on some points in a CIA report for Strana.Ru.
The fact that the CIA director has classed Russia among countries posing a threat to the United States is a source of deep concern. The statement signifies another change of attitude to the world in general and Russia in particular on the part of the U.S. administration. It was said immediately after the endorsement of the results of the U.S. presidential election that the United States no longer regarded Russia as a partner although it did not pose a threat either. A month later it is being said that Russia is among countries presenting a threat.
The situation reveals two tendencies. One is that the United States is isolating itself from the world. Now Washington unreservedly perceives itself as the world's only real epicenter of power and is shaping its foreign, security and defense policies accordingly.
The other tendency is evident in its assessments of the situation in Russia. As far as can be gathered from what Tenet has said, he sees the threat coming from Russia on three counts.
For one thing, Russia is earnestly trying to reinstate its superpower status, something that the United States regards as a threat to Russia's neighbors and, needless to say, the United States itself. Washington believes, therefore, that attempts by any countries to achieve an identical or comparable level with the United States should be nipped in the bud because they threaten the United States.
Second. Political instability allegedly reigns supreme in Russia. How events will develop there cannot be predicted, which in itself poses a threat to the United States. I do not agree with that at all because if my memory does not fail me, today the political situation is more stable than at any time in recent decades.
Third, the prospect of cooperation between Russia and Third World countries such as Iran, China, Iraq, India and North Korea allegedly presents a threat to the United States. I cannot agree with that assessment because Russia's cooperation with those countries is quite in line with relevant international agreements and limitations. This also applies to nuclear nonproliferation as has been confirmed by IAEA and a number of other independent international institutions.
We shall continue promoting trade and economic cooperation with those countries because we want to profit by our external contacts. We are denied access to markets we are interested in (the United States and Western Europe). There is no doubt that we shall be squeezed out of those markets and we shall have to go to other markets but this is not so much our choice as the choice of our partners, including the United States.
How is Russia supposed to behave in these conditions?
To start with, we must present an official reaction to that report, and it needs to be a tough response without mincing words. Also, we must declare in no uncertain terms that in this situation we are not changing our foreign policy and still regard the Commonwealth of Independent States, Europe and Asia as its priorities. In other words, we must declare our national interests in different parts of the globe in the same way as the United States has been doing for years but we are still too shy to do that. return to menu
C. Nuclear Waste
1. Russia as Nuclear Garbageman?
The Christian Science Monitor
February 9, 2001
(for personal use only)
It's a dirty job, but the country could get rich doing it, say supporters of a draft law that could turn Russia into the world's biggest importer of nuclear waste.
It's a catastrophe in the making, counter environmentalists and other critics, who say the idea of taking in other countries' radioactive garbage is just a scheme to turn a quick profit and could lead to nuclear accidents.
At issue is legislation, facing a second reading in the Duma on Feb. 22, that would legalize the import of spent fuel from foreign nuclear reactors to be treated and stored in Russian facilities. The proposal appears to be on the fast track to approval, after passing its first reading in December by 319 to 38 votes. Bills require three readings in the Duma, the lower house, before being taken up by the Federation Council.
The Ministry of Atomic Energy, known as MinAtom, claims the plan could reap $21 billion over the next decade, vault Russia into first place in the burgeoning global nuclear-services industry, and provide cash to clean up radioactive hot spots - ecological disaster zones from the Soviet era.
"Our aim is to make Russia competitive in one of the most lucrative high- tech industries," says Yury Bespalko, spokesman for MinAtom, a vast empire that controls Russia's 29 civilian atomic power reactors, most nuclear-related scientific work and also many aspects of military research and weapons production. "We have the technology and the necessary facilities, but we need fresh sources of income."
Mr. Bespalko says he expects the legislation to be passed and importation to begin before year's end.
MinAtom has recently sold Russian atomic power stations to Iran and India, and is eagerly eyeing the Chinese market, where plans call for building up to 20 nuclear power stations at a cost of $50 billion in coming decades. "Russia must be able to provide the full service to prospective customers in this highly competitive field, including storage and reprocessing of spent fuel," says Alexander Kosarikov, a Duma deputy with the pro-Kremlin Unity party. "And why not? Russian nuclear products are reliable, safe, popular and comparatively cheap."
Environmental critics of the proposed law tell a very different story. They say the Kremlin has used political pressure and outright chicanery to bulldoze the law through, despite widespread popular opposition. Last year, in one of Russia's first-ever mass grass-roots advocacy campaigns, a coalition of ecological groups gathered 2.5 million signatures on a petition calling for a public referendum on the proposal.
Under Russian law, a vote must be held if 2 million citizens demand it. Ecologists cried foul when the Central Election Commission rejected the petition, claiming 700,000 of the signatures were invalid and allowing the groups no time to gather more.
The proposal, says Igor Farafontov, a nuclear expert with Greenpeace-Russia, "is being rammed through without political due process, and with no consideration of the environmental or even economic consequences that will follow in its wake. The only goal of this scheme is to make money to keep MinAtom alive. And that's bad, because MinAtom is a dangerous, ramshackle, and incompetent organization that should be closed down."
Russia already has vast amounts of its own radioactive waste, which critics say cannot be safely transported, processed, or stored. At present, Russia has just one plant for processing nuclear fuel, the 40-year-old Mayak station near Chelyabinsk in the Urals. MinAtom says profits from foreign deals would enable it to complete a modern new facility in Siberia that could handle up to 1,500 tons of spent fuel a year.
"Processing nuclear fuel generates huge quantities of new waste products, and there is no place to store them," says Vladimir Slivak, director of the antinuclear program at the Social-Ecological Council, a Russian environmental group. "All the infrastructure would have to be modernized and rebuilt to make this a secure project, but that would cost far more than it's worth."
Russia's dilapidated transport network is a key source of concern.
"Russia's rail lines are in terrible shape; its roads are worse," says Anatoly Greshnevikov, deputy head of the Duma's Ecology Committee. "We have no secure vehicles, containers, or systems for transporting this stuff. And we cannot afford to build them."
Another worry is that the draft law contains no provisions for financial compensation if there are accidents.
Some analysts warn that profits from MinAtom's civilian business may go into the development of a new range of ultra-modern Russian nuclear weapons. They point to the rise of former KGB hawks in the Kremlin and Moscow's determination to regain its superpower status in the face of US intentions to build an antimissile defense shield. "The gist of the (MinAtom) plan - to make the West pay for a new generation of nukes that may eventually be used against it - has clearly captured the imagination of the Russian elite," military expert Pavel Felgenhauer wrote in the English-language Moscow Times newspaper last month. return to menu
2. Nuclear wasteland faces a new threat
Sydney Morning Herald
February 7, 2001
(for personal use only)
Polluted Russia is poised to poison itself further, Craig Nelson reports from Muslyumovo.
The Soviet Union paid a high price for breaking up the US monopoly on atomic weapons.
The gently flowing Techa River curving through the southern Urals has been contaminated by five decades of radioactive discharges from a state-run factory that produced most of the Soviet Union's nuclear arsenal.
The village of Muslyumovo is 47 kilometres downstream from the plant.
Critics say the Government is going to make a grim situation worse. Legislation to allow the Atomic Energy Ministry to import spent nuclear fuel is speeding through Parliament.
Within months, tonnes of irradiated waste produced by nuclear power plants in Asia and Europe could be bound for storage and reprocessing in a region that doctors and environmentalists already call "the most contaminated area on earth".
For nearly 40 years, the secret factory, known as Mayak, was the heart of the Soviet Union's nuclear weapons production. It processed fuel for its first atomic bomb and assembled up to 40 per cent of its nuclear arms stockpile.
From 1949 to 1956, Mayak dumped 76 million cubic metres of toxic nuclear waste into the Techa, according to a joint report by Norwegian and Russian experts. In 1957 a radioactive waste container at the plant exploded, sending a plume over a 1,000-square-kilometre area and exposing more than a quarter-million people to dangerous levels of radiation.
About 10,700 residents of what is now called the "Eastern Ural Radioactive Trace" were moved away. But neither they, nor the so-called "liquidators" recruited to raze their contaminated farms, were given any explanation. It was not until 1989 that the Kremlin admitted an accident occurred.
Today the level of radiation in the river near Muslyumovo is 400 curies, and the amount of radiation still absorbed by the residents of the village is 10 times the internationally acceptable levels, according to regional environmental officials.
Looking back, Lubov Chuchkalova is horrified.
"People swam in the Techa. They washed their clothes in it and they drank from it. Women raved how it made their hair soft," said Chuchkalova, a 42-year-old kindergarten teacher in Muslyumovo who grew up on the banks of the river.
The health effects of the contamination have been devastating, a reality the Russian authorities try to hide. Health records are off limits. In 1992 and again last year, Muslyumovo's 4,500 residents, mostly ethnic Bashkirs, a local Muslim nationality, were transported to a regional hospital for examinations by specialists. They have never been told the test results. Local doctors also refuse to supply them with their medical records.
However, experts quoted in the 1997 Norwegian-Russian study concluded that the region had experienced a 200-500 per cent increase in cases of radiation-related illnesses.
To date, Mayak is responsible for releasing at least 16.7 million curies of radiation into the region's air, soil and water. By comparison, the Chernobyl accident in April 1986 released 5.8 million curies.
The lower house of parliament, or State Duma, recently approved legislation that would multiply the 15,000 tonnes of nuclear waste Russia already has in temporary storage and keep Mayak solvent.
Under the legislation, the Atomic Energy Ministry would import and store up to 21,000 tonnes of spent fuel, most of which would end up at Mayak, where it would be recycled for resale abroad or for use in Russia's nuclear plants.
The bill's authors, which include the brother of one of the ministry's deputy ministers, say Russia could earn up to $US20 billion ($36.3 billion) over 10 years by entering the $US100-billion-a-year nuclear waste business.
But the residents of cities and villages near Mayak oppose the plan, saying it would turn their already benighted land into a nuclear waste dump.
Under a remedial 1993 law, the inhabitants of Muslyumovo are supposed to receive food rations due to traces of plutonium-239, strontium-90 and cesium-137 found in their food chain. However, no supplies have arrived in months, so residents must rely on food from gardens cultivated in contaminated soil.
In an extraordinary political initiative, environmental groups around the country collected 2.5 million signatures for a petition demanding a public vote on the issue. But what would have been the first national referendum ever in Russia was quashed last month, when the Central Elections Commission rejected the petition on technical grounds.
"Practically speaking, we are now powerless," said Natalie Mironova, president of the Movement for Nuclear Safety, a group that gathered the signatures of 57,000 citizens. "We live in another country now. We live in 'Nuclear Wasteland'."
The plan still has to clear two more votes in the Duma, pass the upper chamber of Parliament and be signed by President Vladimir Putin. Easy passage is expected. return to menu
3. Duma to hold second nuclear fuel import hearing
February 1, 2001
(for personal use only)
The Russian State Duma will evaluate in the second reading the nuclear fuel import bills on February 22nd.
The State Duma, lower house of the Russian parliament, will consider in the second reading the bills in favour of spent nuclear fuel import and leasing on February 22nd. Russian environmental groups - Ecodefence and Socio-Ecological Union - have released an update on the situation around the nuclear spent fuel import project.
Russian environmental groups and political parties are planning a mass rally on February 19th in the centre of Moscow. The rally will gather activists from across the country to protest against the plan of the Russian Ministry for Nuclear Energy, or Minatom, to import spent nuclear fuel from across the globe. The rally will demand from the Duma members to reject the bills.
The activists were supported by local parliaments in the Russian regions, which sent their protests to the Duma against the bills. On January 24th, the local legislative body in Novosibirsk sent an appeal to the Duma calling for rejecting the nuclear import bills. High-level nuclear officials, among them the director of Novosibirsk nuclear fuel producing plant and the manager of the storage for nuclear fuel in Krasnoyarsk-26, participated in the session but failed to convince Novosibirsk Duma to support the import of nuclear waste. The local Duma in Ekaterinburgh, Ural region, the third largest city in Russia, will send a request to the Russian Constitutional Court to examine the new laws submitted by Minatom. All in all, 21 Russian regions out of 89 protested against the bills.
Victor Mikhailov, former minister for nuclear energy in Russia, said that he was not in favour of the project. He criticised the present minister, Yevgeny Adamov, for pushing ahead the legislation allowing the import of spent nuclear fuel. Mikhailov said Russia is not prepared to manage such amount of spent fuel. Minatom's plans suggest importation of 20,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel.
On December 21, 2000 the Russian State Duma approved in the first reading bills calling for import of spent nuclear fuel. Before the bills enter force, they must be approved in the second and third readings by the Duma, then by the Federation Council, the upper chamber of the Russian parliament, and finally by the President. The bill can allow the nuclear industry of Russia to import spent nuclear fuel from other countries for reprocessing or up to 50 years of storage. Russian environmental groups assessed this initiative as an attempt to turn the country into an international nuclear dumpsite and started a nation-wide campaign to stop the project. Yabloko party, an opposition minority in the Duma dominated by Kremlin supporters, is strongly opposing the project and has joined the campaign. return to menu
1. Russia retains capability to pierce U.S. national missile defense system
February 8, 2001
(for personal use only)
Russia will be compelled to adequately respond to America's departure from the 1972 ABM Treaty, declared an expert with the Center for International and Strategic Studies, Yury Lebedev.
If the new U.S. Administration turns a deaf ear to the voice of the world public and violates the fundamental document on reducing offensive nuclear weapons, Russia will be compelled to resort not only to political, diplomatic but military levers of containment as well.
START-II does not prohibit arming the Topol-M missile with three independently-targeted re-entry vehicles. Such a modification of the Topol-M could be tested in record short time and put into serial production. Such a missile that has only a 2-minute launching phase against the 5-minute booster phase for the SS-18 is capable, with a higher degree of probability, of piercing a hypothetical U.S. national missile defense system even if it has a space-based echelon.
Starting with 2005-2007, Russia is to begin deploying new missile systems on the base of Yury Dolgoruky-class submarines. (In Russian, the word "dolgoruky" means "long-arm"). The Tu-95MC and Tu-160 long-range strategic bombers are to be armed with a new modification of cruise missiles. The Russian expert also pointed out that measures would be taken to modernize the combat control system, the missile attack warning system as well as the space reconnaissance system. return to menu
2. U.S. experts inspect strategic military facility in Russia
February 8, 2001
(for personal use only)
Within the framework of the Treaty on reducing and limiting strategic offensive arms (START-I), U.S. experts have inspected a Russian strategic military facility. They found no violations of the Treaty by the Russian side.
A representative of the National Center for reducing nuclear danger, Colonel Vladimir Osetrov who accompanied the American experts, made an announcement to this effect on February 8.
He explained that the officers from the Pentagon inspected the former missile base at Bershet (Perm region) that previously held silo installations for launching SS-11 intercontinental ballistic missiles.
START-I that came into effect December 1994 provides for reducing the number of deployed ICBMs, ballistic missiles based on submarines and heavy bombers to a level of not more than 1,600 units and no more than 6,000 warheads. return to menu
E. Loose Nukes
1. Radioactive Substances Found In Grozny
February 8, 2001
(for personal use only)
Radioactive Substances Found In Grozny School Emergency Situations Ministry's specialists have found three containers with radioactive substances hidden among the ruins of a school in the Chechen capital, Grozny, Itar-Tass news agency reported on Thursday. return to menu
F. Russian Nuclear Forces
1. Cold realities of Russia's Navy
The Christian Science Monitor
February 7, 2001
(for personal use only)
For Russia's Navy, the gap between hope and reality couldn't be wider in Vladivostok. Abandoned, half-sunken submarines crowd one of the city's bays, locked like beached Leviathans in the ice of the coldest winter in 50 years.
Near one of the jutting relics, Viktor Kuzyanov, a former submariner, ice-fishes from a seat atop an upside-down enamel bucket. "We were the most powerful Navy in the world, and now there is nothing left," he laments.
Russia's top Navy brass is developing a new naval doctrine that calls for transforming the country back into a strategic force on the high seas. But few specifics are known. After a decade of chronic underfunding, a shrinking fleet, low morale, and the dangerous decay of its nuclear-powered submarine force, skepticism runs deep in the West, and in Russia itself.
Three Russian warships set out Jan. 15 toward India, in one of the longest naval deployments since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The two-month mission "will demonstrate Russia's ability to proudly display its naval flag, [and] guarantee its national interests in the oceans," said a statement from the Pacific Fleet, based in this remote Far East port city.
"I believe that this new century will see us leaving the docks and heading for the ocean," said Adm. Vladimir Kuroyedov, the Navy's chief commander and a primary author of the doctrine, in remarks published in Moscow's Russia Journal.
But dreams of reestablishing Russia's superpower Navy, analysts say, are a mixture of theater and illusion in a nation where impoverished sailors have taken to growing their own food, begging sponsorship from also-poor cities, and theft. "Obviously, to show its worth under [President Vladimir] Putin, the fleet feels the need to fly the flag," says Joshua Handler, a naval analyst at Princeton University in New Jersey. But the result is a "classic Potemkin village," in which a facade that all is well means that "none of the serious issues are being addressed.
"The nuclear-submarine force is down to its last very thin mooring line," Mr. Handler says. "It's up against basic mathematics. The problem is they are trying to run a first-world fleet on a third-world economic base....The Navy is walking on the edge of disaster here."
For Mr. Kuzyanov, the ice fisherman, "the collapse of the Navy is a symbol of the collapse of the Soviet Union and all Russia." A red thermos of tea keeps the biting chill at bay while he twiddles his line, hoping for a catch. "It's very sad. It burdens my heart."
It also burdens Western analysts and environmentalists, who worry about Russia's lack of money to deal with the risks presented by the aging and decommissioning of Navy ships - much less new hardware. Training and maintenance have been hardest hit, and Russian fleets have a history of dumping nuclear waste at sea, especially in fragile Arctic waters. The United States has spent $5 billion to safeguard nuclear material throughout the former Soviet Union - including a program to fund the safe dismantling of some 41 nuclear subs.
The Kursk disaster, in which 118 sailors died when the sub sank Aug. 12, cast the spotlight on navy weaknesses and poverty. Newspapers were full of pictures later that month of the Russian aircraft carrier Kiev, which was sold to China for scrap. And hair-raising stories have emerged of sailors stealing critical parts to sell.
"There is neither modernization nor rearming," says Grigory Pasko, a military journalist who spent 20 months in prison on treason charges for revealing the extent of Pacific Fleet polluting. "It is more profitable when a ship becomes old to make nails of it. The current slogan is 'Our fleet will return to the world ocean!' But this is only a slogan."
Already 183 Russian nuclear submarines have been decommissioned, though some 143 are attack subs that won't be dismantled under existing US-funding programs, says James Clay Moltz, a nonproliferation expert at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California. The US Congress in August passed a law permitting possible expansion to include them, and Japan has contributed money as well. More than half of the subs still retain nuclear fuel, but have no crews and are "waiting for an accident to happen," says Mr. Moltz.
While hunting for cash, he says, Russia seems interested in a deal with India to lease nuclear submarines begun in Soviet times. One, nearly complete, is still in dry-dock, but recently was loaded with nuclear fuel.
President Putin has voiced strong support for the Navy, making a high-profile overnight stay on the sub Karelia in April. He also attended Admiral Kuroyedov's doctoral dissertation on naval strategy over the summer.
But defense chiefs are debating whether to spend on strategic nuclear-missile forces or advanced conventional ones. Reining in fleet ambitions to match the shrinking overall military budget has proven difficult, with Russia moving - almost by default - to its historical strength as a land power. "They could get by with a coastal defense force. They have enough nuclear weapons on missiles in the middle of the continent," says Handler, the US-based naval analyst. "But instead they persist in trying to have a superpower, let alone a first world, Navy."
For many Russians, though, such prestige is an article of faith. Fresh-faced sailors in thick black woolen coats still tour the S-56 submarine that sank 10 enemy ships during WWII. It sits beside the Pacific Fleet headquarters here. "I saw the Soviet Navy at its peak in the 1970s, when we controlled the oceans," recalls retired Maj.-Gen. Valeri Sofronov. "Back then, it was impossible to imagine the situation in the Navy as it is now." The new doctrine, he says, shows "people in government understand how bad the situation is.
"Knowing the Russian soul," General Sofronov adds. "I'm sure these dark times will finish, and we will rebuild our great military and Navy again." return to menu
2. US ambassador interviewed on Ukraine's defence, economy, political developments
Zerkalo Nedeli (Kiev)
[Translated from Russian]
February 3, 2001
(for personal use only)
US Ambassador to Ukraine Carlos Pascual [..excerpt]
[Yuliya Mostova] As you know, Russia's defence minister has recently been here. The results of the agreements reached here have received different comments in Kiev and Moscow. In Russia, statements have been made that the agreements are primarily political. They were talking about creating a joint squadron, about the movement towards joint command of the fleets, etc. My next question is, will this be harmful for the joint exercises with NATO, like the Sea Breeze held in the Black Sea?
[Carlos Pascual] I am grateful for this question, as, in my opinion, there have been a lot of misunderstanding in the media, especially in the West, about Minister [Igor] Sergeyev's visit. I have had an opportunity to discuss this visit with [Ukraine's] Minister [of Defence Oleksandr] Kuzmuk, [Ukraine's Foreign] Minister [Anatoliy] Zlenko and Mr [Oleksandr] Marchuk, [the secretary of the National Security and Defence Council], as well as some other Ukrainian government officials. I have made some conclusions from these conversations. First of all, everyone has confirmed that no agreements have been signed on creating a joint military fleet or joint squadrons. An agreement in principle was reached on creating a [naval] search and rescue unit. This unit will guide ships to ports from the high seas during storms. However, this document has not been signed yet. Also, an agreement in principle was reached on creating a joint unit to direct ships' movement to harbours. It will be like the road police at sea, but with no authority to allow or prohibit ships from entering harbours. I have personally asked all officials whether Russia would have the right to veto [the permit for] warships to enter Sevastopol. All of them said no, as it is Ukraine's sovereign right. I have also been told that Russia would have no say in the issues of Ukraine's participation in international military exercises. On the contrary, as a result of the negotiations, Russia has made a decision to take part in the next Sea Breeze exercise and other exercises, in which it previously was not taking part.
Speaking about the allegations that Russia and Ukraine will jointly develop intercontinental ballistic missiles, Mr Marchuk has told me that it is absolutely not so, as it contradicts Ukraine's international obligations, which the country sticks to.
[Yuliya Mostova] That is, you say that Ukraine has no right to employ its defence industry to manufacture missiles for the Russian army?
[Carlos Pascual] There are two issues here. First, there is an understanding that Ukraine and Russia will cooperate in the military-technical sphere. For instance, the joint production of the An-70 aircraft. Another example: there is a joint project which includes the US, Norway, Russia and Ukraine - the sea launches [the Sea Launch project]. But the second question is, will Ukraine take part in the manufacturing of intercontinental ballistic missiles? This is impossible, as Ukraine is a party to the nuclear nonproliferation treaty.
[Yuliya Mostova] But, as I understand, we may be talking about the manufacturing of carriers. Carriers, not nuclear weapons. Don't you think that the US position in this issue resembles the situation with the Ukraine-Iran contract?
[Carlos Pascual] No, it is not so. Ukraine may manufacture carriers, and, by the way, we are expecting a continuation of cooperation with Ukraine in commercial space launches. In 1998, when your country decided that it would not cooperate with Iran, we helped Ukraine join the proliferation of missile technologies treaty. Ukraine is now party to this treaty, and this opened the opportunity for your country's extensive participation in programmes of commercial space launches. I can keep on telling you about what we have done after Ukraine decided not to cooperate with Bushehr [in the construction of a nuclear power plant], but I believe you wouldn't want to continue our conversation in this area?
[Yuliya Mostova] Certainly. However, the thing is that the Pivdenmash plant is producing trolleybuses as part of its military conversion programme. Do you believe that Vladimir Putin will meet Leonid Kuchma there in order to discuss common interests in trolleybus manufacturing?
[Carlos Pascual] I would not be surprised if President Kuchma and President Putin have signed an agreement on cooperation in missile technology. There is a whole range of military and defence activities which you cannot discuss. If they agreed on cooperation which violates international agreements, it will become obvious very soon. But let us not talk about hypothetical things. It is important to stress the positive aspects of legal cooperation. This is what we are expecting.
[Yuliya Mostova] As far as I understand, the new US president seriously intends to implement his pre-election promises on a missile defence system. What kind of reaction to that do you expect in Russia and Ukraine?
[Carlos Pascual] First of all, there has been a very serious analysis of the threat for the US, Europe, Russia, Ukraine and other states from countries developing nuclear technologies. President Bush has said that he wants to maintain progress in developing an appropriate form of national defence system. He has also clearly stressed the need to meticulously analyse the programmes and the policy needed to take the right and appropriate decision. He has also said that during this analysis, there will be extensive and detailed consultations with all of our allies, with Ukraine, with Russia and with China, who are also interested in developing certain missile defence systems. In any case, I want to say that the defence systems in question will in no way pose a threat of destruction for the Russian nuclear arsenal. These systems are substantially smaller [in capacity] compared to the Russian nuclear potential. They will not be a threat for Russia's nuclear deterrent systems return to menu