UNTIL the incident with China took over the headlines, we heard a lot of high-level thunder between the United States and Russia over espionage and expulsions. And with old-fashioned Cold Warriors now in power on both sides, there is bound to be several of these blasts from the past in the next few years.
But behind the gamesmanship of power politics lurks some serious business being done by both sides on the crucial issue of nuclear proliferation. For more than 10 years, Washington and Moscow have worked in partnership to safeguard Russia's nuclear materials.
This has been a vital effort during a time of unprecedented social chaos and economic breakdown in the former Soviet Union. American and Russian officials have cooperated closely to ensure that the former Soviet nuclear arsenal -- and the expertise of its atomic scientists -- don't fall into the wrong hands.
The Bush administration recently announced that it is launching a "comprehensive review" of these programs, with an eye to their cost-effectiveness. This is understandable. The United States has been spending about $760 million a year on the safeguarding effort.
Somewhat troubling, however, is that the administration has proposed significant cuts in some of the programs even before the review has started. This could suggest that the administration has already made up its mind.
At least some of the review would also seem to duplicate the efforts of a blue-ribbon, bipartisan commission that already completed a study of the programs. That panel, led by former Sen. Howard Baker, R-Tenn., urged a substantial increase in funding, including economic aid to Russian nuclear scientists. That aid has been cut by more than two-thirds in Mr. Bush's budget.
The panel's report said the risk of Russian nuclear materials and expertise being obtained by terrorists or rogue states is still "significant and real." This is especially true in a devastated Russian economy where top nuclear scientists earn less than $50 a month.
U.S. spending on the safeguard programs represents "a prudent investment in world security," the commission said. Certainly, the Bush administration should conduct its own review. But it should not be taking steps to cut the program before the study is done. It should also bear in mind that the effectiveness of such programs can't be measured in financial terms alone. Peace, security, and cooperation bring their own immeasurable rewards. return to menu
2. Nunn´s Somber Warning
The Washington Times
April 6, 2001
(for personal use only)
Terrorists assemble their weapons of mass destruction in secret then attack without warning.
But what if the authorities had the benefit of early warnings advance information on the bomb-making of the terrorists, international and domestic, who slaughtered hundreds each time they struck in the tragedies of Pan Am 103, New York City´s World Trade Center, Oklahoma City´s federal building, U.S. military barracks in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia?
Think of the lives that could have been saved, the tragedies that could have been averted, if the authorities had been able to act decisively to deny those terrorists the bombs and materials they used in their cowardly political acts.
Now think about the far greater danger that imperils all citizens of the planet if rogue terrorists are able to buy or steal poorly secured weapons of mass destruction nuclear, biological, or chemical that can kill not just hundreds, but hundreds of thousands of people in a single strike. And think about how vital it is that when the authorities have the benefit of early warnings advance information they act decisively to prevent weapons of mass destruction from falling into the hands of terrorists.
The other day in D.C., just such an early warning was sounded loudly and clearly. It was sounded by a man who knows what he´s talking about, former Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sam Nunn.
"Much of Russia´s nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and materials are poorly secured; its weapons scientists and guards poorly paid," Mr. Nunn said in a March 29 speech at the National Press Club. "We have a vital national security interest . . . in working with Russia to make sure that weapons of mass destruction do not end up in the hands of those who would not hesitate to use them against America and our allies or against Russia."
The Georgia Democrat took early retirement from the Senate in 1996 and, as happens only occasionally in Washington, he is still working for what has become his ongoing cause. Mr. Nunn is the co-chair of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a new organization that seeks to promote public awareness and official action to reduce threats posed by weapons of mass destruction. His job is to provide the expertise and direction. The other co-chair is Ted Turner, founder of CNN. His job is to provide the funding.
Mr. Nunn´s message should have been major news everywhere. But no. There is nothing much for today´s tabloidy TV newscasts no flames, no dames, no name-calling games when an ex-senator in a suit reads a speech. Even if it is an early warning that can save the planet from a nuclear tragedy. So C-Span and NPR pretty much had the story to themselves.
Mr. Nunn cited some early successes: "In 1994, in Prague, authorities confiscated 2.7 kilograms of extremely potent nuclear bomb-making material. In 1998, an employee at a Russian nuclear weapons laboratory was arrested trying to sell nuclear weapons designs to agents of Iraq and Afghanistan."
But he noted that weapons of mass destruction especially in the former Soviet Union are increasingly vulnerable to preying terrorists. "Throughout the 1990s, thousands of Russian weapons scientists saw their jobs cut or wages slashed, and thousands responsible for the security of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and materials went months without pay. During this period, Iranian intelligence officers began making recruiting trips to Russia, offering biological weapons scientists many times their pay to move to Iran."
And Mr. Nunn recalled the vow of the richly financed leader of the terrorists who prey: "In 1999, terrorist Osama bin Laden, said: 'To seek to possess the weapons that could counter those of the infidels is a religious duty.´ " On the day of Mr. Nunn´s speech, the New York Times led its front page with an exclusive detailed report by correspondent Judith Miller about the Bush White House´s new comprehensive review of all programs designed to help Russia safeguard its weapons of mass destruction and destroy those that are obsolete. The U.S. government spends $760 million a year on these programs.
While Mr. Nunn welcomed a Bush administration review to improve efficiency, he said: "I am puzzled as to recent rumors which indicate that budgets for these essential threat reduction programs may be seriously reduced. If true, this would be heading backward. No one knows how long the present window of opportunity will remain open."
And Mr. Nunn added, accurately and urgently: "No investment pays a higher dollar-for-dollar dividend in national security than investment in threat reduction. None." return to menu
3. Senate Adopts Warner-Domenici Amendment Assuming Boost For DOE Defense Programs in 2002
News Release of Senator Domenici
April 4, 2001
(for personal use only)
WASHINGTON -- The Senate today approved an amendment coauthored by U.S. Senator Pete Domenici that recommends adding $900 million to the president's budget requests for Department of Energy defense programs, with the funding focused on the stockpile stewardship and nonproliferation programs. The DOE defense funding is assumed within the massive $8.5 billion amendment written by Senator John Warner, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Domenici. The Senate approved the amendment on a 84-16 vote today.
Domenici, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, said the amendment would help redress projected shortfalls in science-based stockpile stewardship and nonproliferation programs. The amendment allows for $800 million for stockpile stewardship and $100 million for nonproliferation programs. "This is our opportunity to address known problem areas in the president's budget. I believe I am putting forth a prudent means for maintaining our nuclear stockpile and the reliability of our nuclear deterrent. We should not permit the deterioration of this work, particularly when we have been told clearly and repeatedly the demands needed to sustain this important aspect of our national security," Domenici said.
As budget chairman, Domenici is managing the week-long Senate debate on the FY2002 Budget Resolution, which is a broad budgetary blueprint for the federal government next year and beyond. In essence, the resolution determines the size of the budgetary pie and recommends the distribution and use of federal funding.
For the DOE stockpile stewardship program, the president requested $5.3 billion, leaving a shortfall of $800 million based on a National Nuclear Security Administration five-year budget plan that identifies the actual requirements of the stockpile stewardship plan.
Domenici pointed out that the NNSA has identified a need for addressing the crumbling facilities across the 50-year-old nationwide complex, refurbishing three nuclear weapons systems, representing over half of the active stockpile (W76, W80, and B61); and, known physical and cyber-security deficiencies.
Domenici also finds the proposed $100 million cut from nonproliferation programs in Russia troubling, saying, "There is no more important issue, I believe, than to help the Russians protect and properly dispose of their nuclear materials and capabilities.."
Overall, the national defense amendment adds $8.5 billion in FY2002 budget authority over President Bush's budget requests. It represents a $22.4 billion increase in budget authority over FY2001. The amendment assumes all the increases in Bush's budget for military personnel pay raises, retention and housing.
This amendment also recommends $4.4 billion in FY2002 for very high priority readiness programs, including training, spare parts, base operations, facility repairs, fuel, and security. return to menu
B. U.S. - Russian Relations
1. A New Cold War
Graham T. Allison and Sergei Karaganov
International Herald Tribune
Tuesday, April 3, 2001
(for personal use only)
CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts Mutual retaliation in the "spy wars" that broke out last month fueled what was already shaping up to become a new rhetorical Cold War.
Hyperbole about Russia as a new "threat" and "active proliferator," in the words of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, has puzzled some Russians and alarmed others. The critique of the United States by Sergei Ivanov - then the Russian national security adviser and now defense minister - at a gathering of security graybeards in Munich in February shocked American participants, including Mr. Rumsfeld. Competition in accentuating the negative about each other's actions and intentions revives an image of Russia and America as primary adversaries in international affairs.
As seasoned observers of U.S.-Russian relations, we are reminded of Marx's observation that history repeats itself the first time as tragedy, the second as farce. In the increasingly dangerous and fragile world of the 21st century, neither the U.S. nor Russia can afford either.
Both governments should call a time-out to reflect on where this diplomatic warfare is leading. Each should start by reviewing its real national interests. Each should ask where the two nations' interests conflict and where they converge. Each should consider where cooperation is a necessary condition for its own success.
Who, for example, has a greater interest in preventing failure of Russia's early warning systems that could lead to an accidental launch of Russian nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles against American targets? It would be a supreme tragedy if unilateral American initiatives on national missile defense led Russia to heighten the hair-trigger alert status of its nuclear forces, thus making accidental launch more likely. Finding cooperative ways to address the real threat each nation faces from rogue states with missiles is an inescapable common interest.
Who should be more interested in preventing theft of Russian nuclear weapons or nuclear material that could empower terrorists to attack Washington or Moscow?
Who has larger stakes in arresting the process by which the great nuclear proliferators of the 1990s, India and Pakistan, now threaten to become contestants in a nuclear war?
Whose security would be most immediately damaged by acquisition of nuclear weapons and missile delivery systems by North Korea, Iran or Iraq? While currently more hostile to American interests, these regimes can target Russia much more easily.
Sales of advanced weapons and dual-use technologies pose a more complex challenge. While selling light-water nuclear reactors to North Korea, Americans seek to prevent Russia from making equivalent sales to Iran. Having failed to raise sanctions against India for its declaration of an overt nuclear capability, the American government now seeks sanctions against Russia for supplying nuclear fuel to Indian civilian nuclear power plants.
Through Russian eyes, Americans have become unreasonably fatalistic about civilian nuclear power, reflecting American domestic paralysis in this arena. Americans misunderstand the role that nuclear power must play to meet the world's demand for electricity in the 21st century.
Too many Americans imagine that Russia's deep internal problems and current weakness prevent it from acting in international affairs. But a hostile Russian government intent on proliferating nuclear weapons or missiles could simply sell Iran or China nuclear weapons and missiles. Alternatively, a Russian-American campaign could prevent most proliferation.
Toward that end, a renewed dialogue should begin not with renegotiation of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which will surely only harden Russia's opposition and America's resolution to deploy its proposed missile shield. Rather, what should come first is a wide-ranging discussion of strategic stability. This will provide a context for specific issues, from arms sales to missile defense, where the United States and Russia may not agree.
Russian and American leaders can, if they work at it, revive a new mini-Cold War - but at their peril. It would be wiser for both to hearken back to the approach of President George W. Bush's father, which combined realism and cooperation. As Secretary of State Colin Powell said after his first meeting with Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov: "If one speaks openly and candidly, you can make progress as long as you don't shy away from the tough issues and as long as you don't forget that there are many areas of interest that we have in common."
Speaking at a seminar in Brussels earlier this week, Alexander Pikayev of the Carnegie Foundation in Moscow provided a Russian view of the United States' projected National Missile Defense and of perceived changes in U.S. foreign policy. Pikayev warned that progress on NMD could undermine bilateral relations between Washington and Moscow and lead to an increase in nuclear proliferation.
Brussels. 6 April 2001 (RFE/RL) -- The Carnegie Foundation's Alexander Pikayev says the Russian government grossly misjudged the intentions of the new U.S. administration of President George W. Bush.
Speaking 3 April at a seminar organized by the Brussels-based Center for European Policy, Pikayev said Moscow's expectations of improved bilateral relations with the new administration have been far from realized. He spoke of "cold winds" recently emanating from Washington and said the administration had adopted an unexpectedly tough stance toward Russia on a range of strategic issues.
Chief among those issues is the United States' projected National Missile Defense, or NMD, which President Bush has said he is determined to put into practice. Russia has vehemently opposed the plan, saying it violates the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty and could lead to another arms race.
Pikayev says the debate on missile defense must be seen in the wider context of the U.S. administration's current review of foreign and security policy:
"[The] debates around anti-missile defense are much more important than the ABM Treaty, and the potential architecture and organization of American antimissile system, because those debates play [an] important role and represent an important part of a broader debate involving such issues as [the] American commitment to cooperative multilateral international legal regimes, American isolationism or interventionism, and the future of some American-led security alliances."
Pikayev says U.S. moves like the decisions to proceed with NMD and pull out of its Kyoto Protocol commitments to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions indicate that the Bush administration is embarking on a course he calls "unilateralist" and "unpredictable." This, he adds, bodes ill for bilateral U.S.-Russian relations as well as for U.S. global relations overall.
Pikayev says that perceived changes in U.S. foreign policy are likely to have a profound effect on existing strategic arms reduction treaties like START 1 and START 2, as well as on the treaty eliminating Europe-based intermediate- and short-range nuclear missiles (INF) and the treaty on reducing conventional forces in Europe (CFE).
"[The] ABM Treaty [and] strategic arms reduction agreements [served] for 30 years as the foundation of bilateral relations between Moscow and Washington. This process survived major crises like [the] war in Afghanistan, [the] end of détente, [the] Star Wars [program] of President [Ronald] Reagan, [the] collapse of the Soviet Union, NATO expansion, [and the] Kosovo operation. During all those crises, strategic arms control, including the ABM Treaty, represented a major stabilizing factor which [made it possible] to maintain dialogue between [the] two [capitals]."
Pikayev says that, instead of further negotiations on arms control, the United States is currently offering Russia what he calls "face-saving" talks on maintaining strategic balance. In addition, he says, growing U.S. unilateralism will have a destabilizing effect in various regions of the world, and could lead to the wider global proliferation of nuclear weapons.
During a discussion of Pikayev's views, Ivo Daalder of the Brookings Institution in Washington defended the United States' right to deploy a missile defense, provided certain important conditions were satisfied.
Daalder said Washington must simultaneously engage in a broader non-proliferation effort in cooperation with Russia as well with its European allies. To this end, he said, the United States should promote arms control talks -- including continued dialogue with Russia on modifying the ABM Treaty -- and use what he called "diplomatic persuasion" to roll back missile programs in countries like North Korea.
Pikayev says he is most concerned about the effects changes in U.S. security policy could have in Asia. As he sees it, mounting U.S. isolationism will erode the security guarantees Washington has so far underwritten in the area. In addition to worrying states like Japan and South Korea, this development could also directly concern Moscow as it falters on maintaining security in Russia's weak and underpopulated Far East.
Moreover, Pikayev says, NMD could lead to a serious arms race in Asia. In his reasoning, China would be certain to increase its arsenal of ballistic missiles in response to the U.S. project in order to boost the credibility of its own nuclear deterrent.
Pikayev says this could spark a dangerous chain reaction elsewhere in Asia:
"India clearly links its own nuclear development with [that of] China. If China goes up [in nuclear warheads], India [will] most likely follow suit. Pakistan would not remain outside because it considers India as [its] primary rival and of course it would have to build up if India continues its [own] build-up."
The Asian ripple effect Pikayev describes could, he says, eventually reach as far west as Iran, Iraq, and Israel. In his view, it could also provoke Taiwan and possibly a future unified Korea to acquire nuclear capabilities of their own in order to meet a perceived Chinese threat.
Pikayev also says that if the U.S. administration carries out its promised reconsideration of its role in the Balkans, the European Union would not at present be able to fill the resulting security void. He says U.S. inaction in Kosovo and Macedonia could lead to a domino effect, possibly involving Greece, Bulgaria, and other Southeast European states. return to menu
3. Schroeder Hopes to Smooth US-Russia Relations
April 8, 2001
(for personal use only)
BERLIN (Reuters) - German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder heads to Russia on Monday to meet President Vladimir Putin in his hometown, St. Petersburg, for a two-day summit hoping to smooth ties between Moscow and Washington.
German government officials said Schroeder, who met Bush in Washington for talks 11 days ago, did not want to act as a formal mediator between the former Cold War foes.
But they said but said Berlin was interested in fostering dialogue between the two.
Schroeder wrote last week that Germany needed to review its ties with Russia, particularly in the light of new President Bush's determination to push ahead with a plan to build a missile defense shield that has strained ties with Moscow.
While Schroeder has shown some softening toward the missile shield idea in recent weeks, Moscow sees the plan as a threat to non-proliferation agreements with Washington, and Berlin wants to make sure Putin is not left out of the loop on the scheme.
Although Putin and Schroeder exhibit little of the hearty back-slapping of their predecessors, Helmut Kohl and Boris Yeltsin, they appear to have decent working ties.
Putin, a fluent German speaker who served from 1984 to 1990 as a KGB agent in the cultural capital of Communist East Germany, hosted Schroeder and his wife over the Russian New Year.
But even as Schroeder plays the role of global mediator, bilateral issues will also be high on the agenda of the talks, which will also be attended by Finance Minister Hans Eichel and Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer.
Germany Russia's Largest Creditor
Germany is Russia's largest creditor, with Moscow owing 40 percent of its $40 billion Paris Club debt to Berlin.
Moscow would like to convert some of its Paris Club debt into investment in Russia. Berlin says it would consider the proposal only in regard to debt owed to the former Communist East Germany and has ruled out any debt forgiveness.
An issue that could overshadow the talks in St. Petersburg is the takeover of independent Russian television station NTV by state-dominated gas monopoly Gazprom.
Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in Russia's second city on Sunday to back what the station's journalists call a fight against the Kremlin to save free media.
A government official said Germany was concerned with developments around NTV and said Schroeder would discuss the issue with Putin. He added that the chancellor would grant an interview to a sister radio station of NTV, Ekho Moskvy, as a sign of support for independent media while in St. Petersburg.
Other issues on the agenda will be Russia's war in Chechnya and continuing tension in the Balkans, with Schroeder keen to persuade Putin not to resist the extradition of former Yugoslavia President Slobodan Milosevic for trial for war crimes at the United Nations tribunal. return to menu
C. Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy (Minatom)
1. New Nuclear Minister Says Safety First
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
April 9, 2001
(for personal use only)
MOSCOW, Apr 9, 2001 -- (RFE/RL) In an interview with "Izvestiya" on 5 April, newly appointed Atomic Energy Minister Aleksandr Rumyantsev said that he believes it is possible to import spent nuclear fuel into Russia, but only if the endeavor is completed with a high level of technological security.
Rumyantsev also called for the construction of new nuclear power stations in which all safety precautions are to be observed.
Deputy Speaker (Communist) Petr Romanov told "Rossiiskaya gazeta" the same day that a ban on imported spent nuclear fuel would hurt the prospects for Russian enterprises building nuclear power plants abroad.
According to the daily, it "is Russia's duty to take this spent nuclear fuel from the power plants it built in Bulgaria, Slovakia, Finland, Ukraine, and Lithuania." return to menu
D. Nuclear Waste
1. Scientists: Back Bill on Nuclear Waste Imports
Agence France Presse
April 8, 2001
(for personal use only)
MOSCOW, Apr 8, 2001 -- (Agence France Presse) A group of Russian scientists called on parliament Sunday to approve draft laws that would authorize the import of spent nuclear fuel from other countries.
"The adoption of amendments to the laws on environmental protection and the use of atomic energy will give Russia a real opportunity to cope with the problems of storing, burying and recycling its own nuclear waste," Interfax reported.
This would "enhance its own environmental safety," the news agency quoted the scientists as saying in a statement.
Environmentalist groups bitterly opposed a proposal by former nuclear energy minister Yevgeny Adamov -- dismissed in a government reshuffle last week -- to import treated nuclear waste for storage.
Last month the State Duma (lower house) postponed indefinitely a vote on a second reading of a bill that would have authorized the move.
The scientists said they understood it was "psychologically difficult for a country that has gone through the Chernobyl tragedy" to accept the import of spent nuclear fuel, but said they believed the decision should be made "without delay."
The statement was signed by several members of the Russian Academy of Sciences including Nikolai Laverov, Vladimir Fortov, Boris Myasoyedov and other scientists, Interfax said.
Parts of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus were polluted by radioactive contamination after a nuclear reactor at Chernobyl, in northern Ukraine, exploded on April 26, 1986.
The Ukrainian government has estimated that up to 15,000 people died as a result of the disaster. return to menu
2. Bogus Greens Back Nuclear Waste Imports
April 9, 2001
(for personal use only)
A group of Russian 'environmentalists' has called upon the State Duma and the Federation Council to endorse the proposed amendments to environmental protection laws to allow the import of spent nuclear fuel to Russia. However, some sources say that even if all necessary bills were passed and enacted, no state will export nuclear waste to Russia.
On Saturday April 7th the Russian Ecological Congress (REC) and the Constructive Ecological Movement Cedar openly called upon the State Duma to pass the amendments to the laws on environmental protection and on the use of nuclear power to allow the import of spent nuclear fuel to Russia for reprocessing.
In their appeal to the lawmakers the Congress and the Cedar Movement reminded the deputies that nuclear waste imports could earn Russia $20 billion within 10-years and that one third of that amount would be earmarked for environmental protection projects.
They claim that if legislation on environmental safety is strictly observed, nothing dangerous will happen.
Coming from organizations claiming to promote protection of the environment, the announcement was incredible. Indeed Greenpeace representatives assert that the authors of the announcement are no ecologists.
Evgeniy Ousov of Greenpeace Russia told Gazeta.Ru that Cedar is a political organization, which under the guise of an environmental protection movement, tried to win seats in the State Duma in the 1999 parliamentary elections.
According to Ousov, General Alexander Lebed (presently the governor of Krasnoyarsk Region) and even Leonid Yakubovich, a popular showman from the state-controlled Public Russian TV (ORT) were one time Cedar members.
Ousov believes that someone has simply bought the Cedar organization.
As for the Russian Ecological Congress, the list of the organization's founders speaks for itself. The new organization unites high-placed officials from the Nuclear Ministry, the Ministry for Natural Resources, the Ministry for Education, the Defence Ministry, a group of academicians from the Russian Academy of Sciences, including the president of the Kurchatov Institute of the Russian Scientific Center Evgeniy Velikhov and governors of the regions where nuclear industry enterprises are located.
Greenpeace activists believe the REC was set up by the Kremlin administration prior to submitting the controversial 'nuclear waste' amendments to the State Duma, with the aim of persuading the parliamentarians pass the bill.
The first reading proved successful for the Kremlin. However, some observers believe it likely that there will be no second reading for they say the new chief of the Nuclear Ministry Alexander Rumyantsev, who replaced Yevgeni Adamov at the end of March, is set to quietly drop the bill of amendments.
According to a coordinator of the antinuclear campaign Ekozashchita! Alisa Nikilina, "Hitherto the minister (Alexander Rumyantsev) has not said a single word in favour of spent nuclear fuel imports to Russia. Of course, he will not radically change his ministry's policy. However, it is highly likely that Rumyantsev will denounce the project."
So far Alexander Rumyantsev has refused to comment on potential nuclear waste imports, citing a lack of knowledge of the financial details. But his standpoint could be clarified on Monday during hearings in the State Duma on radioactive safety.
However, the head of State Nuclear Inspectorate (Gosatomnadzor) Yuri Vishnevsky has made his position quite clear. Vishnevsky predicts that none of the industrially developed nations, including Japan and Germany, would send their spent fuel to Russia because, "They have deals signed for 20 years."
Thus Russia would have to count on contracts from developing 'nuclear' states such as Bulgaria in order to develop the reprocessing industry.
Vishnevsky told Gazeta.Ru that such nations such as Bulgaria do not have enough money to pay for reprocessing spent nuclear fuel, therefore says Vishnevsky, Russia would not benefit from the nuclear waste market. return to menu
E. Russian Nuclear Forces
1. Report that Kursk Carried Nuclear Weapons Unlikely
Center for Nonproliferation Studies
Monterey Institute for International Studies
April 6, 2001
(for personal use only)
On 4 April 2001, in an interview on Norway's TV-2, Russian Duma Deputy Grigoriy Tomchin said that the Kursk was carrying nuclear weapons. A deputy chair of the Russian Property Committee, Tomchin has been a member of the Russian government commission investigating the Kursk accident since 19 December 2000, when nine Duma members were added to the commission. TV-2 also reported that Harald Ramfjord, a member of Global Tool Management who has been working on the project to raise the Kursk, said he has seen secret Russian documents confirming the presence of two cruise missiles with nuclear warheads on board the vessel. The Russian Navy immediately denied that there were nuclear weapons on the Kursk.
On 5 April Tomchin denied having stated that there were nuclear weapons on the Kursk, calling the TV-2 report a "provocation," and saying that the reporter had misrepresented his statements.
In response, TV-2 made a video of Tomchin's interview available (Windows Streaming Video ASF format) on its website. Tomchin clearly states that there were nuclear weapons on the Kursk, although he added that there is no danger from the weapons, just as there is no danger from weapons aboard the sunken US submarines Thresher and Scorpion. In the interview, he declined to answer a question regarding the type of weapons the Kursk had on board. Sources in the State Duma suggested on 5 April that the make-up of the Kursk investigative commission might be changed to eliminate current members who make "irresponsible and untrue" remarks regarding the Kursk.
The Kursk, a Russian Project 949A Antey-class [NATO name 'Oscar II'] nuclear-powered guided missile submarine (SSGN), carried 24 P-700 Granit [SS-N-19, NATO name 'Shipwreck'] antiship cruise missiles. The Granit missile can have either a 750kg high explosive or 500kt nuclear warhead. Antey-class submarines can also carry nuclear-capable torpedoes and sea-launched cruise missiles which can be launched from torpedo tubes. However, all tactical nuclear weapons were supposed to have been removed from Russian warships in 1992 following a 5 October 1991 declaration by Mikhail Gorbachev. The Kursk was launched in 1994, and entered into service on 20 January 1995. It is unlikely that it ever carried nuclear weapons. Reintroduction of tactical nuclear weapons would be politically risky and difficult to hide: traffic between tactical nuclear warhead storage facilities and the naval base would likely be visible to foreign intelligence services. return to menu
2. Russian Rules Out Kursk Theory
April 6, 2001
(for personal use only)
MOSCOW (AP) - A member of a government committee investigating the sinking last summer of the nuclear submarine Kursk dismissed the theory that a collision caused the disaster, saying Friday it was "science fiction."
Russian officials had earlier cited a collision as a likely cause of the Aug. 12 sinking, which killed all 118 men on board.
Grigory Tomchin, a member of parliament on the committee, also ruled out friendly fire during a Russian military exercise or an enemy torpedo as a cause of the disaster.
"I consider a collision from the sphere of science fiction," Tomchin told a news conference.
Tomchin said several technical malfunctions may have caused the Kursk to sink, but added that engineers would have to study the wreckage more closely, most likely after the submarine is raised in an operation now in the planning stages.
His comments were at odds with official statements. The government has not released an official explanation of how the submarine sank, and has not officially ruled out the theory that the Kursk collided with another vessel, possibly a foreign submarine.
Most foreign experts say the most likely cause was an internal malfunction, such as a torpedo misfiring, which caused an explosion in a forward compartment.
Meanwhile, Tomchin on Friday again denied he told Norway's TV-2 television station that the Kursk was carrying nuclear devices when it sank.
He said the station, which aired an interview with Tomchin on Wednesday, misunderstood when he referred to missiles or torpedoes capable of carrying atomic warheads as "nuclear weapons," but that he never intended to say there were atomic warheads on board.
"Were there nuclear weapons onboard? My answer was that this class of submarine is a carrier of nuclear weapons. There was no talk…of two nuclear warheads," he said.
In transcripts of the interview on the TV-2 website, Tomchin is asked in Russian specifically whether there were nuclear weapons aboard. He answers: "Yes. That is known to everybody."
The station said Thursday it stood by its report. The station also quoted a Norwegian engineer involved in plans to raise the Kursk as saying he had seen secret Russian documents confirming two nuclear missiles were on board. return to menu
F. Russia - EU Relations
1. EU Raps Russia on Nuclear Cleanup [Excerpt]
April 10, 2001
(for personal use only)
LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) - The European Union accused Russia on Tuesday of dragging its feet over plans to clean up its environment and said Moscow must work much harder to attract sorely needed foreign investment.
During talks in Luxembourg with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko, senior EU officials also expressed concerns about press freedom amid a fierce ownership row over Russia's sole independent TV channel, NTV.
European Commissioner for External Affairs, Chris Patten, said Moscow was holding up plans to release European, U.S. and Japanese money to tackle some of its environmental problems, especially at nuclear facilities in northern Russia.
"We are profoundly disappointed by the discussions last week (in Berlin), which actually went backwards," Patten told a news conference also attended by Khristenko and Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh.
Patten was referring to the so-called Multilateral Nuclear Environmental Program in Russia (MNEPR), which aims to tap foreign capital to tackle problems like rusting hulks of Russian nuclear submarines in the Barents Sea.
Diplomats said the main problems centered on taxation and liability for the foreign firms involved. The EU had hoped to wrap up the issue by the time of an EU-Russia summit in Moscow in May but diplomats said that now looked unlikely.
They said Russia appeared unhappy about some of the conditions donors had attached to the future investments. return to menu
G. Nonproliferation Policy and Implementation
1. Inspections Under Russia-U.S. Missile Treaty Near Completion
Apr 9, 2001
(for personal use only)
Russia and the USA have agreed dates for functions to mark the completion of inspections under the treaty on the abolition of medium- and short-range missiles.
The first deputy chief of the Russian center for the reduction of nuclear risk, Maj-Gen Sergey Burutin, told ITAR-TASS today that Russia and the USA had exchanged proposals on protocol functions timed for the finish of the inspections.
He said the Russian and American sides had agreed on procedures that are to be held by May 31, the date ending the inspections under the treaty.
"In addition, the dates and procedure of solemn functions at factories manufacturing ballistic missiles in Magna, USA, and Votkinsk (Russia's Udmurtia) have also been agreed," Burutin said.
He said the ceremonies marking an end to a class of nuclear missiles would be attended by the participants in the 13-year inspections and by delegates of Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan.
"Since 1 June 1988, when the treaty came into force, Russia's representatives have made 440 inspections and the Americans 771," Burutin said. return to menu