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Nuclear News - 02/23/01
RANSAC Nuclear News, February 23, 2000
Compiled by Terry C. Stevens and Benjamin D. Wampold

A. U.S. - Russian Relations
    1. Powell Ready to Discuss Russian Missile Shield Proposal With Ivanov, Agence France Presse (02/22/2001)
    2. Russian Foreign Minister Says Time for Dialogue on Missile Defense, AP (02/23/2001)
    3. Condoleezza Rice on Proliferation [Press conference excerpt], White House (02/22/2001)
    4. Bush on US-Russia Relations [Press conference excerpt], White House (02/22/2001)
B. Export Controls
    1. Threshold countries pose a threat to Russia as well, Strana.Ru (02/23/2001)
    2. Vladimir Orlov: Russia firmly follows its obligations, Strana.Ru (02/23/2001)
    3. Russia to React More Aggressively to US Claims for Export Controls, ITAR-TASS (02/23/2001)
C. Russian Nuclear Forces
    1. NATO Inspectors Find No Nuclear Weapons in Kaliningrad, Says Russian Official, Agence France Presse (02/22/2001)
D. Russian - Iranian Relations
    1. Russia to start building nuclear reactor in Iran in 2001, ITAR-TASS (02/21/2001)
    2. Russia Could Earn 7 Billion Dollars from Arms Sales to Iran, Agence France Presse (02/22/2001)
E. Russian - Indian Nuclear Cooperation
    1. Russia to continue N-fuel supply despite US protest, The Times of India (02/22/2001)
F. Russian Nuclear Power Industry
    1. Russia Opens Nuclear Power Plant, Sergei Venyavsky, AP (02/23/2001)
G. Nuclear Waste
    1. Nuclear waste import postponed, Vlad Nikiforov, Bellona (02/22/2001)
    2. Russians ponder specter of nuclear waste imports, The Taipei Times (02/21/2001)
H. U.S. General
    1. Rice names top aides to National Security Council, Reuters (02/22/2001)

A. U.S. - Russian Relations

Powell Ready to Discuss Russian Missile Shield Proposal With Ivanov
Agence France Presse
February 22, 2001
(for personal use only)

WASHINGTON, Feb 22, 2001 -- (Agence France Presse) U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell is willing to discuss Moscow's proposal for a European missile shield when he meets this weekend with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, the State Department said Wednesday.

However, spokesman Richard Boucher warned that while Powell is ready to talk about it when he and Ivanov meet on Saturday in Cairo, the plan appeared incomplete and would require serious study before Washington could begin to consider it.

"We need to study it in detail before we can make a realistic assessment of what Russia has in mind," Boucher told reporters.

As a Pentagon spokesman did on Tuesday after Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev delivered the plan to NATO Secretary General George Robertson, Boucher said the United States was pleased that Moscow appeared to realize the threat posed by so-called "rogue states" with ballistic missiles.

"We welcome the fact that Russia recognizes that Europe faces a serious threat from weapons of mass destruction and missile delivery systems and that Russia believes that defensive systems are necessary for protection and stability," he said.

"But we would also note that the deployment of missile defense for Europe would not protect the United States against ballistic missile launches and so it would not be a substitute for the deployment of a national missile defense," Boucher said.

Moscow is vehemently opposed to U.S. plans to develop and deploy a national missile defense (NMD) system, believing it to be a threat as well as a violation of the landmark 1972 anti-ballistic missile (ABM) treaty.

In an apparent effort to soften its stance, though, Russia suggested an alternative which calls for a defensive system with mobile elements placed at points most threatened by missile attack.

But the system would only be set up if Russia and the Europeans first agreed there was a threat and after talks aimed at dealing with the threat by political or peaceful means.
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Russian Foreign Minister Says Time for Dialogue on Missile Defense
The Associated Press
February 23, 2001
(for personal use only)

MOSCOW (AP) -- Setting the tone for Russia's first direct contact with the Bush administration, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said the time had come for serious dialogue with the United States on missile defense and other nuclear issues.

At a news conference Thursday, two days before he meets Secretary of State Colin Powell for the first time, Ivanov said the world political climate depends on relations between the United States and Russia -- a view contested by the Bush administration which does not consider Russia its equal.

"We are in the mood for the most active dialogue at all levels, starting with the highest level ... on the entire range of issues in Russian-American relations," Ivanov said.

Ivanov refused to comment on the arrest this week of Robert Philip Hanssen, a career FBI agent who was charged with spying for Russia, saying he thought the U.S.-Russia agenda was significantly broader than that issue.

Powell and Ivanov will meet Feb. 24 in Cairo. Ivanov said the meeting place was chosen because both diplomats planned to be in the Middle East at the same time.

In Washington on Thursday, Bush said he was encouraged by recent comments from Russian leaders on missile defense, and he hoped to discuss the matter further with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"Their words indicate that they recognize that there are new threats in the post-Cold War era, threats that require theater-based, anti-ballistic missile systems," Bush said.

A chill has been blowing between Washington and Moscow since Bush took office last month, with U.S. officials accusing Russia of trying to revive its Soviet ambitions and selling missile technology to countries like North Korea and Iran.

Ivanov's measured, almost bland assessment of U.S.-Russian relations contrasts with the tough talk from Defense Ministry and Kremlin officials who in recent weeks have accused officials in Washington of maligning Russia's reputation.

Saying U.S.-Russian relations had "significant potential in guaranteeing international security, Ivanov added that "We realize perfectly well that to a great extent the world climate depends on just how relations with Russia and the United States take shape."

Missile defense is likely to be the hottest topic on Saturday's agenda; others includes missile defense, NATO expansion, the Middle East, Iraq and the Balkans, Ivanov said.

Russia opposes U.S. plans to develop a national missile defense system, and this week presented NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson with an outline for a nonategic missile defense proposal for Europe to counter the American initiative.

Ivanov repeated the standing Russian argument that a U.S. missile defense program would violate the 1972 ABM treaty and destroy global strategic stability.

"If we pull out one of the links of such a security structure, then it could fall apart," Ivanov said.

Ivanov proposed holding multilateral talks to assess the threats that prompted the United States to consider developing a missile shield. The dialogue should include all states concerned, including European nations and China, he said.

"Even the strongest world power cannot solve such problems alone," Ivanov said. "Historical experience shows that. We propose finding joint paths."

He also proposed holding talks on developing a global system to control rockets and rocket technology.

Joint action is strongly emphasized in the Russian proposals. One of the NATO officials getting their first close look at Russia's missile defense proposals said Thursday they were broad, but enough to start serious discussions. "We would need to see a lot more," said the official, peaking on condition of anonymity.

What cheers top officials at NATO is that they believe Moscow has acknowledged a missile threat exists, and they can begin talking about how to meet that threat.

The United States wants to develop interceptors that will shoot down ballistic weapons fired by small potential nuclear powers like North Korea, Iran or Iraq. The Americans say they are willing to provide the European allies and Canada with the technology, if they want it.

The Russian approach would work in phases, NATO officials said. The first phase involves Russian and allied experts evaluating and defining missile threats. If it is decided a military response is required, the two sides will study how that can be accomplished.

"They put a high degree of emphasis on joint development and deployment," said the NATO official. "There is no specific mention of any system."

It is clear from the proposal, however, that it would not be what is called a "boost phase system," that destroys the missile in the firing stage rather than trying to hit it while it is en route to the target.

The Russian ideas apparently involve mobile anti-missile weapons deployed in the areas of greatest risk aimed at shorter-range missiles rather than intercontinental threats.
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Condoleezza Rice on Proliferation [Press conference excerpt]
The White House
February 22, 2001
(for personal use only)

Q: Dr. Rice, I assume that another issue that you will discussing with the British will be relations with Russia. We all know that Prime Minister Blair tried to build sort of a personal relationship with President Putin. Do you support those efforts? And while you're at it, could you please tell us, what exactly did you mean when you said in your Figaro interview that Russia is a threat to the Europeans?

DR. RICE: Let me take the second question first. What I said was that in the context of proliferation behavior, where we have been quite concerned about Russian proliferation behavior, vis-a-vis, for instance, Iran, that there is a problem and a threat to all of our interests.

If you look a little further in that interview, however, I say that I think that Russia is a partner and even a potential ally. And so I don't think I was being inconsistent. It is absolutely the case in the context of proliferation behavior that we have a lot of work to do together. And I think that we would hope as our relationship, as the relationship of this administration with the Russian Putin administration evolves, that we can start to get a better handle on these proliferation problems.

I think it is a very good thing that Prime Minister Blair has developed a good relationship with President Putin. There is no reason that we should be anything but glad about that. And I am sure that President Bush will look for an assessment and advice from Prime Minister Blair on his views of how to handle the U.S.-Russian, as well as the Russian relationship with the allies more generally.
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Bush on US-Russia Relations [Press conference excerpt]
The White House
February 22, 2001
(for personal use only)

Q: Mr. President, do you think that U.S.-Russian relations have been damaged by the new spy case? And secondly, are the Russians showing any flexibility on a missile defense system?

THE PRESIDENT: I intend to deal with Mr. Putin in a very straightforward way, to be up front with him on all matters. I am, of course, disturbed about the espionage -- the alleged espionage that took place. I'm mindful that there are people who don't particularly care what America stands for, and people who are interested in our secrets.

Secondly, I was pleased to see comments from Russian leadership that talked about missile defense. It is a -- their words indicate that they recognize that there are new threats in the post-Cold War era; threats that require theater-based antiballistic missile systems. I felt those words were encouraging.

When I meet with Mr. Putin I'm going to talk to him about exactly what he meant by those words. We have no meeting set up yet, I might add. But I took that to be encouraging. It reminded me of what happened after I met with Mr. Ivanov. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Putin also talked about theater-based systems and the ability to intercept missiles on launch. And to me, it's indicative of his recognition of the realities of the true threats in the post-Cold War era -- threats from an accidental launch, or threats as a result of a leader in what they call a rogue nation, trying to hold ourselves or our allies or Russia, for that matter, hostage. So I was pleased with what I saw.
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B. Export Controls

Threshold countries pose a threat to Russia as well
February 23, 2001
(for personal use only)

"An even greater number of so-called "threshold' countries have appeared in the world in the recent time, which in different ways seek to obtain such terrible mass destruction weapons as nuclear," Russian Federation Security Council Secretary Sergei Ivanov told journalists in the Kremlin February 22 after the Security Council's meeting. "In principle, such a threat really exists, and it exists for Russia as well," he added.

According to Ivanov, the Security Council meeting considered a set of legislative and information measures designed to make the export control system, which had taken shape in Russia and operated sufficiently well, function in a more precise way.

In his words, the matter is being tackled by different ministries, including AO Rosaviaprom, organizations participating in the military-technical cooperation, and scientific organizations. President Vladimir Putin has ordered that their work be coordinated.

Ivanov admitted the existence of the "brain drain" problem, which particularly concerned scientists who possessed various secrets and were able to use their knowledge abroad in relevant areas. The function of export control, he stressed, was "not in banning something but in controlling."

"One must know and command the entire amount of information and control this sphere," he said. "Of course, there are things, which are not subject to export in any form, specifically nuclear-tipped missiles. They, naturally, are not subject to export ever."

At the same time there are "complex spheres, such as dual-purpose technologies." Those technologies may be used both in the civilian and the military spheres, he said. In this area, "We are prepared for full-scale cooperation both with the United States, with which we have pursued this cooperation over the last one and a half or two years and sufficiently actively at that, and international organizations, primarily with NATO as well as with EU member states," he said.
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Vladimir Orlov: Russia firmly follows its obligations
February 23, 2001
(for personal use only)

[Vladimir Orlov,] Director of the Center for Political Studies and head of the Non-Proliferation in Russia program, comments on export control problems in an interview with Strana.Ru observer Alexander Roubtsov.

Export control is an important component of non-proliferation of mass destruction weapons. It would be erroneous to think that the concepts of non-proliferation (of mass destruction weapons) and of export control are synonyms. Export control is one of the mechanisms whereby Russia implements its international obligations in the area of non-proliferation of mass destruction weapons as well as takes into account its own national security interests.

What is important is that the RF Security Council pays constant attention to and keeps track of export control problems, its yesterday's meeting being just one case in point, while its staff seeks to coordinate the operation and positions of different agencies, both the secret services that are supposed to assure the absence of violations in this sphere and the export-oriented ministries and organizations.

At the legislative level, the matters of export control in Russia have been settled. There is an on the whole well-conceived Law "On Export Control," which was passed in 1999, and a considerable set of governmental instructions and presidential decrees. All of these are fully in conformity with the international obligations Russia has assumed. At the same time, the practice of export control is still limping. In part this is explained by objective reasons: enterprises lack sufficient information, much time is needed for bringing the necessary equipment to customs posts, etc.

But there are subjective reasons as well. For example, separate producers and even ministries have an idee fixe about selling the most sensitive materials and technologies, which may hit Russia's interests in future.

The Security Council has sent an unambiguous signal to these activists. Russia does not intend to and will not make exceptions from the rules, which have been accepted in the country and are being translated into practice.
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Russia to React More Aggressively to US Claims for Export Controls
February 23, 2001
(for personal use only)

MOSCOW, February 23 (Itar-Tass) - Russia will react "more aggressively" to U.S. claims for export. This opinion was expressed by a high-ranking source at the Russian Security Council in an interview with Tass on Friday.

The source who refused to be identified, noted that Russia has claims to the United States "for assistance by American firms in developing nuclear and missile programmes in states which are not members of "the nuclear club".

Moscow believes that the ballyhoo, whipped up by Americans concerning the construction by Russia of a nuclear power plant in Bushehr, "is a graphic example of dishonest competition and double standards, while the U.S. itself is ready to build a similar reactor in North Korea.

The source at the Security Council emphasised that Russia "studies, painstakingly together with secret services, all U.S. claims and thoroughly checks every fact". "Accusations have not been confirmed a single time, and the U.S. openly admits this," he stressed.

"However, it clamps down sanctions immediately, while dragging feet with the reverse process. As a result, Russian firms lose profits, paying fines."

"In this field of stiff competition of high technologies, the expert control gives a chance to turn from excuses to an aggressive position," the source stated. "A comprehensive control can start operating in conjunction with measures of higher responsibility, including the criminal code."

"Our business competitors are following this line. They make punishment tougher," he underlined. The U.S. has the world's only system of sanctions, based on the principle of exterritoriality when national law is put above international.
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C. Russian Nuclear Forces

NATO Inspectors Find No Nuclear Weapons in Kaliningrad, Says Russian Official
Agence France Presse
February 22, 2001
(for personal use only)

MOSCOW, Feb 22, 2001 -- (Agence France Presse) Polish and Danish inspectors who wrapped up a visit to military bases in the Kaliningrad enclave last month concluded there were no nuclear weapons there, a Russian official said Wednesday.

The head of the Kaliningrad branch of FSB counterintelligence, Alexander Suvorov, told Interfax that the inspectors from the two NATO member states had told a news conference on January 18 that "there are no nuclear weapons on the territory of the Kaliningrad region."

There was no independent confirmation of the Russian's official's assertion.

The Washington Times reported originally last month that Russia had moved nuclear weapons into the region, citing U.S. intelligence sources.

A recent follow-up report in the newspaper said that U.S. spy satellites had pinpointed Russian tactical nuclear weapons in Kaliningrad, contradicting Moscow's stout denials of a transfer of battlefield arms.

Satellite photographs allegedly revealed weapons being unloaded from a ship in the Baltic port and moved to a military airfield in Kaliningrad.

However, Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev denied the press report, which was dismissed as a "provocation" by Kaliningrad's governor Vladimir Yegorov.
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D. Russian-Iranian Relations

Russia to start building nuclear reactor in Iran in 2001
February 21, 2001
(for personal use only)

MOSCOW, February 21 (Itar-Tass) - Russia will begin major construction work in Iran this year to build the first reactor for a nuclear power plant in Bushehr.

Reactor equipment and the turbine made in Russia will be delivered to the construction site, Deputy Atomic Energy Minister Yevgeny Reshetnikov told journalists on Wednesday.

He said the construction of the first reactor in Bushehr goes by plan and is expected to be finished at the end of 2003. Seven hundred and eighty Russian specialists are now at work on the construction site.

Reshetnikov noted that specialists from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are re-examining the Bushehr project. They have already checked about half of the equipment to make sure it meets IAEA standards and requirements for nuclear power plant construction. So far their conclusions have been positive, which may mean that the final stage of the examination will go faster.
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Russia Could Earn 7 Billion Dollars from Arms Sales to Iran
Agence France Presse
February 22, 2001
(for personal use only)

MOSCOW, Feb 22, 2001 -- (Agence France Presse) Russia could earn up to seven billion dollars in the next few years from the resumption of military cooperation with Tehran, Iran's ambassador to Moscow was quoted as saying as Thursday.

The proceeds -- much higher than Russian estimates of potential sales -- would be earned from selling conventional weapons and training specialists, the Iranian envoy Mehdi Safari told Interfax news agency.

Russia told the United States in November it was scrapping a secret five-year-old agreement to cease conventional arms sales to Iran, prompting the White House to threaten Moscow with sanctions.

Interfax has reported that Iran is interested in buying from Russia S-300 anti-aircraft missiles, Mi-17 combat helicopters and Su-25 fighter planes.

An official in Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev's delegation to Teheran last December, quoted by Iran's state IRNA news agency in December, said future arms sales could be in the long-term worth as much as two billion dollars.

Russia exported a record four billion dollars worth of weapons in 2000.
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E. Russian-Indian Nuclear Cooperation

Russia to continue N-fuel supply despite US protest
Arun Mohanty
The Times of India
February 22, 2001
(for personal use only)

MOSCOW: Russia's nuclear fuel supply to India will not be stopped under any outside pressure, a top Russian diplomat here has asserted.

Alexander Alekseyev, director of the Third Asia Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry, said Russia would continue its nuclear fuel supply to India's Tarapur power reactors despite American protest.

"Russia, as a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, is bound by certain international obligations and we have not violated any of our obligations and explained our position to US," Alekseyev said.

"Russia changed its internal legislation on the issue and made its position clear to everybody," he said. "We would definitely continue our cooperation with India in this area."

The US has expressed regret over Russia's shipment of low enriched uranium fuel to India's Tarapur nuclear station and said Moscow's action is in direct violation of its commitments to preventing nuclear proliferation as a member of the Nuclear Supplies Group.

Members of the 39-member Nuclear Suppliers Group, which does not include India, are committed not to provide any nuclear material to facilities in countries whose programs are not under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) supervised safeguards. While the Tarapur reactors in Mumbai are under international safeguards, other facilities in India are not.

Indo-Russian cooperation on the sensitive issue has come under heavy fire from Washington's new administration, with the U.S. practically clubbing India with the "rogue states" of North Korea and Iran.

Alekseyev clarified that while the US did club India with North Korea and Iran on the issue it did not describe India as a "rogue state." Russia will not swallow such a description of India easily, said Alekseyev.
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F. Russian Nuclear Power Industry

Russia Opens Nuclear Power Plant
Sergei Venyavsky
The Associated Press
February 23, 2001
(for personal use only)

ROSTOV-ON-DON, Russia (AP) - Russia on Friday officially opened its first new nuclear power plant since the Soviet era, with officials calling it a breakthrough for the industry after years of financial troubles and public opposition.

More than 20 years after construction began, the first reactor at the Rostov Atomic Energy Station in southern Russia has been turned on to minimal output. It will gradually be cranked up to full power over the next several months, said plant spokesman Yegor Obukhov. It will provide electricity to the Rostov province and elsewhere in the North Caucasus region.

The reactor had been almost complete when construction was frozen in 1990 on government orders because of public protests prompted by the 1986 explosion at the Soviet Union's Chernobyl plant.

But as deterioration at coal-powered electricity plants and chronic funding shortages led to increasing blackouts across Russia, the government announced a drive to revive the nuclear energy industry. The Atomic Energy Ministry allocated funds in 1999 to complete the Rostov reactor and several other stalled projects.

The Soviet-designed VVER-1000 reactor at Rostov is considered structurally more sound than the RBMK reactor that blew up at Chernobyl. The main difference is the VVER-1000's concrete containment structure designed to hold in damage from an explosion.

It can also withstand a magnitude-7 earthquake and the crash of a 20-ton aircraft, plant officials say.

Environmentalists and many residents of the forested region continue to oppose the plant, saying it was built too close to a major reservoir and in an area prone to earth tremors. They also say the reactor was not properly maintained while construction was stalled for nine years.

"This is the last thing the Rostov province needs. We've seen what those monsters can do and should never forget it," said Alexander Filipenko, chairman of the Rostov Chernobyl Union.

The director of the new plant, Vladimir Pogorely, promised that it would create thousands of new jobs for the depressed town of Volgodonsk, adjacent to the station, and claimed its reactor would be the safest in Russia. The country has nine nuclear plants and 29 operating reactors that produce about 12 percent of its electricity.
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G. Nuclear Waste

Nuclear waste import postponed
Vlad Nikiforov
Bellona Foundation
February 22, 2001
(for personal use only)

The second reading of the nuclear fuel import bills did not take place in the Russian State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, on February 22nd. It is postponed until March 22nd after the increased activity of the greens protesting against the amendments.

Several actions organised by greens preceded this decision in Russia. On February 19th, Russian environmental activists from Socio-Ecological Union, Ecodefense and liberal Yabloko party held a rally outside the State Duma. About 300 activists from various environmental organisations took part in the action. 20,000 signatures against the nuclear bills were handed over to Grigory Yavlinsky, head of Yabloko party, who will later pass them over to the Russian President. The Russian Nuclear Ministry needs these bills put in force to allow spent nuclear fuel import to Russia. The greens and some politicians believe this plan will damage environment and expenses for the waste management will be much higher than the predicted profit.

On February 19th, the Environmental Committee of the Russian State Duma examined the amendments to the nuclear import bills initiated by the deputies from different factions. The amendments mainly concerned effective financial control for each nuclear delivery to Russia, guarantees for returning the nuclear waste to the country of origin. Only one amendment was approved, however, regarding the necessary approval of each contract for nuclear delivery by the State Duma.

On the same day, Ecodefense group released documents saying that the US Department of Energy has plans to deliver spent nuclear fuel from Taiwan to Krasnoyarsk in Siberia for final disposal. Shipment of 8,000 tons is scheduled to begin in 2007.

On December 21st 2000, the Russian State Duma approved in the first reading bills calling for import of spent nuclear fuel. After that more than 40 protests took place in the various Russian cities. The activists were supported by local parliaments in the Russian regions, which sent their protests to the Duma against the bills. In autumn 2000, the polls showed that 93.5% of the Russians are against nuclear import.

"In such situation the legislators should not postpone the reading but rather cancel it," Vladimir Slivyak, co-chairman of Ecodefense group, said.

"Some regions consider to call back their deputies [from the State Duma] who voted in favour of the nuclear import," he added.

Before the bills enter force, they must be approved in the second and third readings in the Duma, then by the Federation Council, the upper chamber of the Russian parliament, and finally by the President. The bills 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 the Kremlin supporters, is strongly opposing the project and has joined the campaign.
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Russians ponder specter of nuclear waste imports
Monique Chu
The Taipei Times
February 21, 2001
(for personal use only)

A visiting Russian parliamentarian and Russian experts voiced mixed views yesterday on whether Russia should become the destination for Taiwan's nuclear waste once the State Duma passes a bill to allow Russia to import highly radioactive waste from foreign countries.

While some said economic interest was what drove a majority of Duma deputies to support the bill, others opposed the import of Taiwan's nuclear waste for the sake of environmental protection.

"The main purpose [for the amendment of the law] is to attract foreign currency which Russia badly needs," Alexandr Alexandrovich Karelin, a member of the State Duma, said after emerging from a briefing on Taiwan's development at the Government Information Office yesterday afternoon.

Russian Nuclear Power Minister Yevgeny Adamov has claimed that Russia would earn up to US$20 billion over the next 10 to 15 years by importing foreign waste.

Karelin, who won medals for wrestling at the 1988, 1992 and 1996 Olympics, said that projects would involve transnational cooperation.

"There is an international aspect to the project. Not only Russia, but other countries will have shared responsibilities," Karelin added.

Although polls in Russia have shown that the Russian public is unequivocally opposed to such imports, Duma deputies last December passed the first reading of a government-backed bill with a vote of 319-38 that would allow the country to import highly radioactive waste from foreign countries. The second reading of the bill is scheduled to take place tomorrow.

The London-based Guardian newspaper reported from Moscow on Monday that a leaked document showed that the US had backed plans to turn Russia into an international nuclear dump to accommodate waste from Taiwan, South Korea and Japan.

The US Department of Energy denied on Monday that it had played a role in pushing for the shipment of nuclear waste from Taiwan to Russia for permanent disposal.

However, a spokesperson for Taipower admitted yesterday that although both Taiwan and Russia had shown willingness to push the deal through and that a related memorandum of understanding had been signed, the document was not legally binding and the deal not yet finalized.

One Russian analyst based in Taipei voiced his opposition to the proposal, saying that imports of high-level radioactive nuclear waste could only jeopardize what they described the already "serious environmental problems" in Russia.

"If the authorities decide to do this, I will be against it because it's contrary to the interests of our country ... it is a problem of environmental security," Michael Kryukov, a professor at the Institute of Russian Studies at Tamkang University, said.

Noted US journalist Colin McMahon has said that it's estimated that 60 million out of 145 million Russians live in "environmentally dangerous" conditions.

Russian officials such as Adamov have argued that spent nuclear fuels are valuable commodities which can be reprocessed and recycled.

Meanwhile, some Moscow-based analysts such as Pavel Felgenhauer have argued that it was "defense considerations" that drove the Russian political elite to support the passage of the bill -- which would allow Russia to develop a new generation of weapons by reprocessing nuclear waste from other countries.

It was immediately after Russian President Vladimir Putin -- in his capacity as then-secretary of the Security Council -- ordered the nuclear power ministry in April 1999 to speed up the development of a new generation of nuclear weapons that Adamov started to clamor for foreign nuclear waste and the bill was introduced in the Duma, Felgenhauer wrote in the Moscow Times on Jan. 4.
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H. U.S. General

Rice names top aides to National Security Council
February 22, 2001
(for personal use only)

WASHINGTON, Feb 22 (Reuters) - U.S. national security adviser Condoleezza Rice appointed a number of top aides on Thursday to head key divisions of the National Security Council.

Daniel Fried, a senior State Department adviser for the former Soviet Union and former U.S. ambassador to Poland, was named senior director for European and Eurasian affairs.

Fried also worked at the NSC from 1993 to 1997, when he helped develop policy on NATO enlargement and NATO's relations with Russia.

Robert Joseph, a nuclear strategy expert who served former Presidents George Bush and Ronald Reagan, was named senior director for proliferation strategy, counterproliferation and homeland defense.

Joseph will play a leading role in U.S. policy on a national missile defense, which President George W. Bush intends to deploy against missile attacks from rogue states, an NSC aide said.

A longtime Defense Department official, Franklin Miller, will be in charge of defense policy and arms control.
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