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Nuclear News - 03/02/01
RANSAC Nuclear News, March 2, 2001
Compiled by Terry C. Stevens and Benjamin D. Wampold


A. Arms Control - General
    1. Armed to Excess [Op-Ed], Bob Kerrey, The New York Times (03/02/2001)
    2. Russia Capable of Rebuilding Nuclear Shield, Military News Agency (03/01/2001)
B. Russian Nuclear Power Industry
    1. Reactor shut down at Zheleznogorsk, Vladislav Nikiforov, Bellona (02/28/2001)
    2. Ukraine to buy $209m worth of nuclear fuel from Russia, Natalia Kozlova, ITAR-TASS (03/01/2001)
C. Nuclear Seizures
    1. Uranium smugglers convicted in Vladikavkaz, Bellona (02/28/2001)
D. Russian - Syrian Nuclear Cooperation
    1. Russia is Developing Syrian Nuclear Program, Middle East Newsline (03/01/2001)
E. Russian - Indian Nuclear Cooperation
    1. India getting aid for nuclear programme, The Hindu (02/27/2001)
F. Russia - General
    1. Moscow Says U.S. Rocket Test Violates 1987 Accord, RFE/RL (03/01/2001)

A. Arms control - General

1.
Armed to Excess [Op-Ed]
Bob Kerrey
The New York Times
March 2, 2001
(for personal use only)


President Bush's announcement in his first address to Congress that it is time to "discard cold war relics and reduce our own nuclear forces to reflect today's needs" is an important step in the right direction.

The risk of a nuclear attack still poses the greatest single threat to our survival. Implementing steep cuts in global nuclear arms is essential to our national interest. But since 1991, when the treaty known as Start I was signed, reductions in Washington's and Moscow's arsenals of nuclear weapons have been stalled by a Democratic president who was afraid of the political consequences of "unilateral" reductions and a Republican Congress that changed federal law to prevent the president from going below Start I levels.

The result is that our arsenal is well beyond levels needed to destroy any nation that threatens the United States. We currently have 7,200 strategic warheads that could be launched against any potential enemy. Consider this: Just one of our Ohio class Trident submarines can deliver 192 separate warheads to individual targets in Russia, each of which is roughly 6 to 30 times as powerful as the atomic bomb that devastated Hiroshima at the end of World War II.

Maintaining excessively high numbers of strategic weapons is not only costly to American taxpayers, but it forces the Russians to maintain a strategic and tactical arsenal far beyond what they can afford to maintain. Russian military leaders have been urging their political leaders to reduce their arsenal to a thousand warheads or less for this very reason.

Part of the reason that Congress has not been pressing for steep reductions is that members of Congress have never seen the actual missile targeting plans developed by the military in response to presidential directives. For twelve years in the Senate - eight of which I served on the Senate's Select Committee on Intelligence - I tried without success to get this briefing. In fact, I was unable to find a single member of the Senate who had been briefed. Mr. Bush should order his military commanders to brief members of Congress on the targeting plans.

I have no doubt that President Bush would gain Republican and Democratic support if more were known about the details. A map of Russia that contained thousands of red circles each indicating a nuclear detonation would convincingly show the extent of the excess nuclear capability we have.

In addition to reducing the arsenal, Congress must also expand the Nunn-Lugar cooperative threat reduction program. This program has provided Russia with roughly $450 million a year to reduce unneeded nuclear materials in a safe and swift fashion. But the program has had only wavering support in Congress. That must end.

We should provide substantially more money to help Russia dismantle nuclear weapons and safely dispose of bomb-grade fissile materials. President Bush expressed support for this concept during the campaign. Now it's time to back up that commitment. If he delivers on an immediate and substantial reduction in the American nuclear arsenal and pushes to expand the Nunn-Lugar program, he will have done the nation and the world a great service.

Bob Kerrey, a former United States senator, is president of New School University.
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2.
Russia Capable of Rebuilding Nuclear Shield
Military News Agency
March 1, 2001
(for personal use only)


MOSCOW, Mar 1, 2001 -- (Military News Agency) Russia has completely withdrawn intermediate and shorter-range missiles from its inventory due to implementation of its obligations under the 1987 INF Treaty, Lieutenant-General Vyacheslav Romanov, head of the General Staff national center for nuclear threat reduction, told a news conference on Wednesday.

The practice of scrapping specific types of armament quickly helped enhance the international security level, Romanov said. However the United States' unilateral withdrawal from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty can considerably delay and even reverse the process.

In response to the U.S. National Missile Defense Deployment Russia will have to reconsider a number of international treaties in the sphere of strategic weapons, Romanov went on. Violation of the ABM Treaty will inevitably force other signees to make reprisals. "Russia might reconsider terms of the START-1 and START-2 treaties which limit production of heavy missiles and their equipping with separating warheads," Romanov added.

If the Russian leadership makes such a decision, the country's defense industry is capable to resurrect the national nuclear shield quickly, Romanov stressed.
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B. Russian Nuclear Power Industry

1.
Reactor shut down at Zheleznogorsk
Vladislav Nikiforov
Bellona Foundation
February 28, 2001
(for personal use only)


The only operating reactor at Zheleznogorsk Mining and Chemical Combine in Siberia has been out of operation for one week, local daily Segodnashnaya reports. On February 20th, personnel at the reactor central post registered water consumption fall in one of the reactor fuel assemblies. After the water level had reached the critical level, the reactor was stopped.

Similar incident took place at the combine in 1985. At that time five fuel assemblies had to be reloaded, now only one assembly is damaged. The personnel thought the repair works would take a couple of days, but they have been going on for one week since the problem was revealed. The reason of the incident is fuel assembly enlargement. It is extremely rare situation, but sometimes it occurs, plant's officials said.

The deformation of nuclear fuel assemblies stops normal circulation of the cooling water, therefore the reactor has to be shut down and the damaged assembly reloaded. Otherwise the fuel can melt down.

This time, the combine officials claim the fuel was not melted. The mining combine press centre stated that the event can hardly be called an accident. Even inside the facility radiation levels remained normal.

Zheleznogorsk, also known as "the Iron City", is situated approximately 50km north of Krasnoyarsk on the eastern side of the River Yenisey in Krasnoyarsk county, Siberia. The city has a population of 90,000 and was known by its code name Krasnoyarsk-26 until 1994. The Mining and Chemical Combine with its three plutonium producing reactors and a radiochemical plant are well shielded 250m to 300m underground. The first reactor was shut down on June 30th 1992, and the second followed on September 29th the same year and the third (AD-2) has been in operation since 1964.

The remaining reactor supplies the facility and residential areas of Zheleznogorsk with electricity and heat. The reactor is one of the three plutonium producing reactors still in operation in Russia. The other two are located in Seversk (former Tomsk-7). The Russian-American intergovernmental program aimed at refitting the reactors to stop plutonium production or their replacement with alternative energy sources has failed so far.

Last year the combine general director stated that the reactor's operational life time could be prolonged for a period of not less than 10 years. Yury Vishnevsky, head of the Russian Nuclear Regulatory Agency, expressed his disagreement with this point of view. He said that all three reactors exceeded the limits of operation two times and should be taken out of service.
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2.
Ukraine to buy $209m worth of nuclear fuel from Russia
Natalia Kozlova
ITAR-TASS
March 1, 2001
(for personal use only)


KIEV, Mar 01, 2001 (Itar-Tass via COMTEX) -- Experts from Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan will soon meet in Russia over establishment of a joint venture to produce fuel for nuclear power plants, Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Fuel and Energy, Head of the Energoatom national nuclear energy authority Nur Nigmatulin told reporters on Thursday.

Nigmatulin pointed out that Energoatom continued work towards starting nuclear fuel production in Ukraine. "The works have been on for five years now," he said, adding that "now we are ready to set up a joint venture to produce nuclear fuel." According to Nigmatulin, cooperation with Russia and Kazakhstan will be mutually beneficial as "uranium enrichment is not costly in Russia."
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C. Nuclear Seizures

1.
Uranium smugglers convicted in Vladikavkaz
The Bellona Foundation
February 28, 2001
(for personal use only)


Two Northern Ossetia (South Russia) residents and a citizen of Azerbaijan were convicted in Vladikavkaz of illegal purchase and an attempt to export radioactive materials. The criminals have been sentenced to different terms, Prime News announced. Last year lieutenant colonel Zaurbek Makaev illegally purchased 300 tablets of Uranium oxide (ca. 1.5 kg) and kept them in special lead containers in his garage. Makaev handed over a probe consignment of 10 gr. through his accomplice to a citizen of Azerbaijan Mr. Ibishev, who was using a forged Russian passport. The latter managed to carry the probe through Georgia to Turkey, where he found a purchaser.
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D. Russian-Syrian Nuclear Cooperation

1.
Russia is Developing Syrian Nuclear Program
Middle East Newsline
March 1, 2001
(for personal use only)


WASHINGTON [MENL] -- Russia is quietly launching steps to develop Syria's nascent nuclear program.

The CIA said Moscow has already laid the groundwork for this cooperation and could provide nuclear expertise to Syria over the next few years. Last year, Russia's Cabinet approved a draft cooperative program with Syria that included civil use of nuclear power.

"Broader access to Russian scientists could provide opportunities to solicit fissile material production expertise if Syria decided to pursue a nuclear weapons option." the CIA said in its latest report on proliferation.

Russia has approved nuclear exports to a host of countries that are not monitored by the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency. The decision was reached by President Vladimir Putin in May.

Intelligence analysts said Syria's ally, Iran, would continue to be the focus of Russian nuclear efforts for the next few years. They predicted a slower and less intense effort by Moscow in Syria.

"I don't see anything significant happening in the short term," a senior Western intelligence analyst said.
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E. Russian-Indian Nuclear Cooperation

1.
India getting aid for nuclear programme
The Hindu
February 27, 2001
(for personal use only)


WASHINGTON, FEB. 27. India continues to produce and develop sophisticated nuclear weapons and relies on foreign entities for key missile and dual-use technologies, says a Central Intelligence Agency report.

The agency, in its report submitted to the U.S. Congress, said there was evidence that New Delhi obtained foreign assistance for its civilian nuclear power programme during the first half of 2000, primarily from Russia. The U.S. State Department had recently criticised Russia for providing assistance to India's nuclear programme.

The report said the entities in Russia and western Europe remained the primary conduits of missile-related technology transfers to India since the domestic industry lacked engineering or production expertise in ballistic missile development.

On purchase of conventional weapons, the CIA report says India continues across-the-board modernisation of its armed forces mostly from Russia, although many of its key programmes have been plagued by delays.

India has also received its first delivery of Russian Krasnopol laser-guided artillery rounds to be used in Swedish- built Fh-77 155 mm howitzers.

China's aid to Pakistan

Chinese entities continued to provide assistance to Pakistan's ballistic missile programme during the first half of 2000, the report said adding that with the Chinese assistance, Pakistan is rapidly moving towards serial production of solid- propellant long-range ballistic missiles.
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F. Russia - General

1.
Moscow Says U.S. Rocket Test Violates 1987 Accord
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
March 1, 2001
(for personal use only)


Lieutenant General Vyacheslav Romanov, the head of the Russian general staff's center for nuclear security, said in Moscow on 28 February that U.S. testing of the Hera rocket is in violation of the 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) agreement that called on both countries to eliminate medium- range missiles, dpa reported. He said that the Hera is precisely such a missile. He noted that Moscow had scrapped its OTR-23 Oka missile with a similar range at the insistence of the U.S. at that time.
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