CHICAGO - President Bush and his new foreign policy team have announced that they plan to undertake a full review of all aspects of American policy toward Russia on matters like economic assistance, NATO expansion and missile defense. There must be a new agenda, we are told, because the old approach of cooperation and engagement pursued by the Clinton administration has been ineffective. In hinting at the tone of their new policy, Bush administration officials have promised a realist approach, which would presumably include greater attention to Russia's international conduct and less to reforms within Russia.
Reviews are necessary and rethinking of policies prudent. But why, before the review is completed, has the administration already announced plans to cut cooperative nonproliferation programs between the United States and Russia? Perhaps, after a thorough reassessment, the Bush team could make the case that the cooperative programs that we now sponsor in Russia and other former Soviet republics do not serve American national security interests. Until such a case can be made, however, the proposal to cut these programs by $100 million, or more than 10 percent, from current financing levels is bad policy and worse as symbolism. True realism on the part of the Bush foreign policy team would mean increasing, not decreasing, the size of these efforts.
Even two decades ago, it would have been unthinkable for Country A to pay Country B to destroy its weapons. But that is precisely what American-Russian nonproliferation programs have achieved in the past several years. With the end of the cold war, Russian leaders - committed to greater cooperation with the West - allowed the United States to pursue our national security interests by new, nontraditional means. In 1991, the idea that we could pay the Russians to deactivate nuclear delivery systems, enhance the storage and security of nuclear materials and keep their nuclear scientists employed was radical. It showed real leadership that George H. W. Bush, who was then the president, embraced this new approach as part of a national security strategy.
A decade later, cooperative threat reduction is widely accepted. A bipartisan review commission headed by former Senator Howard Baker fully endorses the idea, and Democrats and Republicans vote year after year to finance these programs. And President Vladimir Putin and the Russian army continue to participate willingly in them. Indeed, Mr. Putin's recent firing of the conservative head of the Ministry of Atomic Energy suggests that he might be prepared to go even further to restructure the Russian nuclear complex.
Promoting nonproliferation programs in Russia, of course, directly benefits American national security. The fewer delivery systems of nuclear weapons there are in Russia, the better; the more securely and safely stored are those nuclear materials, the better. If the Bush administration is prepared to spend tens of billions of dollars on missile defense systems to protect Americans against potential threats in the future, it cannot justify cutting the already modest budget for nonproliferation programs that help diminish a real threat in existence today.
These programs are also crucial to maintaining open channels between the United States and Russia at a time when other opportunities for cooperation are disappearing. Without question, Mr. Putin's negative activities in other areas - whether stifling the independent press or trading weapons with Iran - will make it more difficult to have meaningful and positive relations. In fact, cuts in some assistance programs to the Russian state (though not to Russian civil society, as in programs that support the development of an independent press) may be appropriate. But reducing nonproliferation programs as a reaction to objectionable Russian behavior in other areas makes no sense and is contrary to American security interests.
Ten years after the Soviet Union's collapse, it is remarkable that the decaying Russian state has not allowed more weapons of mass destruction out of Russia and that there have not been more accidents with nuclear materials. Yet, these threats to American security must not be underestimated. We should in fact be accelerating aid to dismantle this threat, not reversing course. At a time when there appear to be growing strategic conflicts between the United States and Russia, we cannot afford to undercut the one area where there is agreement and cooperation.
Michael McFaul is a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and an assistant professor at Stanford University. return to menu
2. Bush Budget Would Slice Efforts to Limit Russian Nuclear Threat
April 10, 2001
(for personal use only)
Washington, April 10 (Bloomberg) -- The Bush administration's new budget plan proposes an 11 percent cut in a range of programs to reduce the threats from nuclear weapons and materials in the former Soviet Union.
The proposed reductions include a 75 percent cut in a program to re-employ Russian nuclear scientists, a 29 percent cut in a nuclear reactor safety program for the former Soviet Union, and an 18 percent cut in a program to boost security at Russian nuclear weapons facilities, private analysts said.
The budget reductions harm U.S. security by threatening progress in all those areas, the analysts said, and contradict the recommendations by a bipartisan panel to boost threat reduction programs.
"Insecure nuclear materials and nuclear weapons scientists is one of the foremost threats in the world," said William Hoehn, Washington director of the Russian American Nuclear Security Advisory Council, a private advocacy group. "With this budget, it makes it a lot harder to get this work done as soon as possible."
The proposed cutbacks were contained in fiscal 2002 budget documents presented yesterday to Congress. Figures involving nuclear threat reduction were compiled today from those documents by study and advocacy groups that include the Russian American Nuclear Security Advisory Council and the Council for a Livable World.
Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham yesterday defended the cuts and said the Bush administration might back increases for those programs in future years after a formal administration review.
Overall, the administration proposed cutting nuclear nonproliferation activities in the Energy Department budget by 11 percent, to $774 million in fiscal 2002 from $874 million in the current fiscal year, said Steve LaMontagne, a research analyst at the Council for a Livable World.
Details of the Bush proposal, according to LaMontagne and other private and congressional analysts, include:
-- a 75 percent reduction, to $6.6 million from $26.6 million, in the Nuclear Cities Initiative, which works to create civilian job opportunities in Russia's nuclear research cities;
-- a 40 percent cut, to $8.9 million from $15.8 million, in a program for spent nuclear fuel storage in Kazakhstan;
-- an 18 percent cut, to $138.8 million from $169.7 million, in the Materials Protection, Control, and Accounting program, which upgrades security at Russian nuclear weapons facilities; and
-- the elimination of several other programs, including work on creating a spent fuel repository in Russia, and on immobilizing plutonium by sealing it in glass.
The proposed cuts counter the recommendation earlier this year by a bipartisan task force led by Howard Baker, Bush's pick to become U.S. ambassador to Japan, and former White House counsel Lloyd Cutler that proposed spending $30 billion over 10 years on programs to reduce the nuclear weapons threat from the former Soviet Union.
The Baker-Cutler panel said the threat posed by Russia's stockpiles of nuclear weapons and weapons-usable materials is "the most urgent unmet national security threat to the United States today."
Russia wants to close about half of its 10 nuclear research cities and needs to find civilian jobs for an estimated 30,000 to 50,000 nuclear scientists, Hoehn said.
By the end of last year, only about 20 percent of the estimated 850 metric tons of weapons-useable nuclear material in the former Soviet Union had been placed in fully secure facilities, he said.
Abraham said the Bush budget places a priority on avoiding a waste of U.S. tax dollars.
"Thoughtful critiques, both inside and outside the department, convinced us that a status quo budget, while it might be the safe road to take, in some cases, would simply perpetuate mistakes and waste money by locking us into programs we might wish to adjust in later budgets," he said.
The cutbacks will face criticism on Capitol Hill.
"That is utterly irresponsible," Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware, the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said of the proposed cuts. return to menu
3. Bush Attaches Strings To Aid
Andrew F. Tully
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
April 10, 2001
(for personal use only)
Washington, 10 April 2001 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. President George W. Bush would impose conditions on aid to Russia, according to the details of his proposal for federal government spending next year.
The $1.96 trillion budget proposal, issued today in Washington, would set aside $808 million for the former Soviet states, including Russia, and $610 million for Eastern European countries, including the Baltic and Balkan states.
The $808 million for the former Soviet republics matches the amount set aside during the current fiscal year. But aid to Eastern Europe is $263 million less than was set aside for the region this year.
The spending plan for the 2002 fiscal year -- which begins on 1 October -- is subject to approval by Congress.
Bush's proposal left it up to Congress to decide exactly how much of the money for the former Soviet states should be spent on Russia. But it stressed that 60 percent of that figure would be withheld if the president believes Moscow has not stopped helping Iran develop a nuclear reactor and a ballistic-missile program.
According to the document, Russia also would have to cooperate with international groups investigating reported war crimes and atrocities in Chechnya, and with non-governmental organizations trying to help people displaced by the fighting in the breakaway republic.
Another specific amount that Bush has suggested for Russia is $20 million which should be set aside for the Russian Far East. And it proposes $45 million to promote child survival, a cleaner environment, and generally promoting improved health in Russia.
Meanwhile, Bush's plan would give at least $170 million to Ukraine in 2002 -- $5 million less than the amount appropriated during the current fiscal year. At least $25 million of the amount proposed for fiscal 2002 would be set aside for nuclear-reactor safety, and a $5 million would be devoted to the Ukraine Land and Resources Management Center.
Another former Soviet republic singled out is Georgia, which would get $92 million in aid from the U.S., including at least $25 million for border security. And Armenia would receive a grant of at least $90 million. There were no further details.
Meanwhile, the spending for Eastern Europe would include at least $5 million for the Baltic states, at least $1.3 million for Kosovo, and no more than $80 million for Bosnia.
But Bush's proposal said aid for Bosnia's economic revitalization would be withheld if the government in Sarajevo, among other things, has not ended intelligence cooperation with Iran. return to menu
4. Nuclear Threat Initiative Releases Statement Regarding President Bush's Budget, Cuts in Nonproliferation Programs
NTI Press Release
April 10, 2001
(for personal use only)
Former Senator Sam Nunn, Co-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, today released the following statement regarding President Bush's Fiscal Year 2002 Budget Plan, which proposes large funding reductions in many U.S. Department of Energy nonproliferation programs:
"I support a top-down review of all threat reduction programs to ensure efficiency, strengthening and better coordination. However, I am disappointed that the Administration has proposed reductions in many of these essential programs - apparently before that review is completed. President Bush's support for threat reduction during the campaign indicated his willingness to make these programs a priority, but this budget proposal, unless corrected by Congress, would take a dangerous step backward.
"We face a broad spectrum of threats from weapons of mass destruction - nuclear, biological and chemical. The threat from these weapons constitutes a clear and present danger to the security of the U.S. and the world. This is America's greatest unmet security threat. I believe that once these programs are evaluated, the Bush Administration will determine that no defense related expenditure can produce a return of higher value. Until that time, this budget proposal puts these programs in question, which is counterproductive to both the timing and momentum needed." return to menu
5. Rep. Spratt Urges President to Fund Non-Proliferation Programs
U.S. Representative John Spratt (D-SC) News Release
April 6, 2001
(for personal use only)
WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. John Spratt (D-SC), a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, is urging President Bush not to cut funding for critical U.S. non-proliferation programs aimed at reducing the risk of weapons proliferation in the former Soviet Union.
Spratt's position is detailed in an April 4 letter to Bush, co-signed by several key House defense policy makers, including Democratic Leader Richard Gephart (D-MO) Armed Services Committee Ranking Democrat Ike Skelton (D-MO), and Reps. Norm Dicks (D-WA), Chet Edwards (D-TX), James Moran (VA), Vic Snyder (D-AR), and Ellen Tauscher (D-CA).
In their letter, Spratt and his colleagues called the Department of Defense Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) programs and Department of Energy Nuclear Nonproliferation programs "critical components of our efforts to protect against the dangers of nuclear and other WMD proliferation." The letter stated that by the end of 2000, the CTR program had deactivated 5,288 warheads, 419 long-range missiles, and 367 silos.
"These numbers," said Spratt, "dwarf the number of warheads even a robust National Missile Defense system could ever hope to stop."
Spratt's letter also noted that a blue ribbon panel had recently concluded that the nonproliferation programs were among the United States' most critical national security investments.
The panel, chaired by former Sen. Howard Baker and former White House Counsel Lloyd Cutler, concluded that "the most urgent unmet national security threat for the United States today is the danger that weapons of mass destruction of weapons-usable material in Russia could be stolen and sold to terrorists or hostile nation-states, and used against American troops abroad, or citizens at home. Non-proliferation programs in the Department of Energy, the Department of Defense, and related agencies have achieved impressive results, thus far. But their limited mandates and funding fall short of what is required to adequately address the threat."
Spratt's letter concluded that President Bush should "recognize that a cut in our support of these programs would be a mistake, and would send the wrong signals to Russia and our allies about our commitment to reducing the threats posed by weapons of mass destruction at a time when we should be reaffirming that commitment. We urge you to fund these programs aggressively." return to menu
B. U.S. - Russian Relations
1. Transcript: Powell, Ivanov Remarks after Meeting in Paris April 12
The Washington File
April 12, 2001
(for personal use only)
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov told reporters April 12 following their meeting in Paris that plans are underway for President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin to meet before or during the G-8 foreign ministers' meeting in Genoa this June.
"We are also going to begin a dialogue between the two sides at every level -- between trade ministers, economic ministers, finance ministers," Powell said, adding that he and Ivanov want to meet with members of the Duma and U.S. Congress, respectively. Additionally, Ivanov will visit Washington next month, and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage has been named to the U.S.-Russia Working Group on Afghanistan.
Ivanov said the "very substantive" meeting with Powell covered a wide range of topics including strategic stability; the recent peace talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan on Nagorno-Karabakh; the Balkans, including the shooting death of a Russian peacekeeper in Kosovo April 11; and the situations in the Persian Gulf, in the Transdniestria region, and the Abkhazian region. They also issued a joint statement on the situation in the Middle East, calling on both sides to take reciprocal steps to reduce the violence and create an environment conducive to resuming the negotiation process.
Powell added that "we had a good discussion on [Russian] arm sales to Iran.... The Minister is well aware of our concerns on those sorts of sales, and we will continue that discussion."
Responding to a question, he said the two would discuss NATO enlargement "in greater detail" at their next meeting, and that the alliance "will of course take into account Russia's interest and views on the subject.... We will continue to evaluate the expansion of NATO on the basis of standards and conditions that NATO sets. Minister Ivanov can be absolutely sure that we will exchange views with him as we move forward towards a decision" on enlargement.
Powell and Ivanov were in Paris for a meeting of the Contact Group of six nations -- the United States, United Kingdom, Italy, France, Germany and Russia -- to discuss the situation in the Balkans, particularly in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Following the press briefing, Powell departed for a two-day visit to the Balkans.
Following is a transcript of their remarks:
Russian Ambassador's Residence Paris
MINISTER IVANOV: We have just had very substantive talks with Secretary of State Powell. First of all I would like to stress that these talks were very candid and very open. We have discussed a broad range of issues. First of all these issues included the state and development of Russian-American relations. Secretary of State Powell underlined that the Administration of the United States is interested in promoting constructive cooperation by our countries. This is fully in accordance with the position of the Russian leadership.
In this connection, we examined the question of a possible U.S.-Russian summit. We are proceeding from the assumption that such a summit meeting could take place at the G-8 Summit in Genoa or even before it.
Secretary Powell invited me to visit the United States, and we assume that this visit will take place in the near future. We exchanged views on a large number of key issues. We began with the consideration of issues related to strategic stability, and we will continue this dialogue during my visit to Washington. We also discussed regional problems.
We have made a joint statement on the situation in the Middle East. In this statement, our countries called upon both sides to take reciprocal steps to reduce violence, normalize the situation, and resume the negotiation process.
We have expressed our mutual satisfaction concerning the work of our representatives negotiating the settlement in Nagorno-Karabakh, and we will pursue this cooperation in the interest of reaching a final settlement.
We have also agreed to resume the work of our bilateral group on the issues of an Afghanistan settlement.
We exchanged views on the situation in the Balkans, in connection with yesterday's meeting of the Contact Group, and I expressed my appreciation to Secretary Powell for his condolences over the death of a Russian peacekeeper yesterday.
We also discussed the situation in the Persian Gulf, in the Transdniestria region and the Abkhazian region, and we also discussed other issues. I would like to stress again that we had a very fruitful, open and constructive discussion on all issues, and I think that it is on these lines in this period that we should continue the dialogue between our countries.
SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you very much, Mr. Minister. I thank you for the hospitality of your beautiful Embassy, and I agree with you that we had a very, very fruitful discussion this morning.
Let me again now publicly express my condolences on the loss of the Russian soldier yesterday who gave his life in the cause of peace.
The Minister has well covered all of the various issues that we discussed this morning. Let me just say that I am very much looking forward to receiving him in Washington, where we can continue our discussions. We hope that this meeting will take place in the very near future.
We are also going to begin a dialogue between the two sides at every level -- between trade ministers, economic ministers, finance ministers. We have also committed this morning that Deputy Secretary [of State Richard] Armitage will participate in the Working Group on Afghanistan that has done productive work in the past, and has the potential to do so in the future.
The Minister made an excellent suggestion that we should spend more time with our respective legislatures, and should have inter-parliamentary conversations and talks. So when he comes to Washington I will invite him, and I am sure he will be invited directly by members of Congress, to spend time with the Congress. I look forward to doing the same with the Duma when I make my reciprocal visit to Moscow. I suggested to the Minister that perhaps we should let him go through a confirmation hearing so he can get the full sense of what the American Congress is all about.
Of course we're looking forward to the meeting of our two Presidents, which will happen no later than the G-8 meeting in July. We hope that there may be a possibility of doing it earlier, but the schedules are difficult to reconcile. Both Presidents -- I think I can speak for Igor -- both Presidents are anxious to see this meeting take place as soon as possible, but no later than the time of the G-8 Summit.
QUESTION: I have a question for both of you. Should we understand from your comments then that the U.S.-Russian relationship has recovered from any damage that has been done by the mutual expulsions of diplomats from Washington and Moscow? And Minister Ivanov, could you respond to reports in Russian newspapers this morning that you may be about to move onto a new job?
MINISTER IVANOV: On the first question, by having today's talks I think we have clearly demonstrated that we are both interested in turning this page, and that we have strong interests in building constructive and productive mutual relations. As to the second question, I can say that I have not received any other proposals from anyone.
SECRETARY POWELL: I agree with the Minister's comment with respect to your first question. We have moved on from that incident.
QUESTION: How do you assess the prospects at the current stage for the development of Russian-American relations in the context of strategic stability? Are there any possibilities for moving forward in this direction?
SECRETARY POWELL: We had an opening discussion on American ideas with respect to how we should move into the future concerning strategic offensive systems, defensive systems, the proper role of arms control in the strategic relationship. It was an initial discussion of some of the concepts that are coming out of the American review of strategic forces, and we will have a more extensive discussion of these issues when the Minister visits next month with his experts.
MINISTER IVANOV: At the beginning of our meeting today, the Secretary of State said that the U.S. administration is interested in promoting a dialogue with us on all issues, both on those where our positions or views coincide and on those where we have disagreement. And I think that it is through such a constructive dialogue that we will be looking for ways to achieve mutual understanding on all issues on our agenda.
QUESTION: General Powell, did Minister Ivanov assure you that Russian arms sales to Iran are not destabilizing the region, and number two, given the size of the American-Russian relationship with 27 agencies operating in Moscow, is there any idea of replacing the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission as a framework? What would be the framework for this dialogue?
SECRETARY POWELL: On the second question, we won't replicate the Gore-Chernomyrdin model, but we will have other models. I have already spoken to members of the President's cabinet that they should begin dialogues with their counterparts in Russia. I think there will be a variety of contacts going back and forth that will more than make up for what some people think may have been lost with the end of the Gore-Chernomyrdin discussions.
I think you will see a very, very vibrant set of exchanges at a number of different levels. Frankly, we announced a couple of these this morning, with what Ambassador Armitage will be doing with the Working Group on Afghanistan and what Igor and I will be doing with our meetings next month, I hope. We have already seen that our economic ministers and our trade ministers have already begun having discussions. I think we'll more than replicate that.
We had a good discussion on arm sales to Iran and we will continue to have that discussion at our next meeting, I'm sure. The Minister is well aware of our concerns on those sorts of sales, and we will continue that discussion.
QUESTION: Have you discussed the issue of NATO expansion, and how important do you think it is for you to take into account Russia's position, Russian interests, while discussing this issue within the North Atlantic Alliance?
SECRETARY POWELL: It's an area that, I think, we will discuss in greater detail when we have our next meeting, and we will of course take into account Russia's interest and views on the subject. But NATO, as you know, is an alliance of nations that have a common purpose, and the purpose of this alliance in no way is a threat to any other country in Europe. So we will continue to evaluate the expansion of NATO on the basis of standards and conditions that NATO sets. Minister Ivanov can be absolutely sure that we will exchange views with him as we move forward towards a decision whether or not there should or should not be an expansion to NATO.
QUESTION: Can you say whether the issue of Chechnya was discussed? And did you have any assurances on the kinds of arms that Russia would be selling to Iran?
MINISTER IVANOV: As to the Iranian issue, Secretary Powell has already responded to this question. We pay attention to the concerns which are raised by the U.S. side, and we are ready to pursue the dialogue and discussions on all the issues which might be raised in this connection.
Concerning the situation in the Chechen Republic, Secretary Powell has informed me that this issue is a subject of concern of U.S. public opinion. I think that the openness that the Russian side is demonstrating on this issue must help the public opinion in the United States and in other countries to understand what is happening there, and what steps the Russian leadership is taking.
QUESTION: Secretary Powell, can you make a comment about the American crew now that they're back on American soil?
SECRETARY POWELL: I am very pleased that they are back on American soil. I don't know the exact status. I assume they are taking a few hours of relaxation and getting debriefed in Guam, and then they'll head on to Hawaii. But that's all I know about the situation right now.
QUESTION: Are you optimistic that you will in fact get the plane back?
In 1861, with Union spirits low after Bull Run, Charles Wilkes, captain of the U.S. warship San Jacinto, intercepted the British steamer Trent, removed Confederate agents Mason and Slidell, who were sailing to Europe, and brought his prisoners to Fort Warren in Boston Harbor.
Unionists went wild. But Victoria was not amused. The queen regarded Wilkes's coup as piracy and kidnapping on a vessel flying the British flag. With all of England howling for war with the detested Yankees, the Royal Navy cleared the decks and 8,000 troops sailed for Canada. A stunned Abraham Lincoln beat a hasty retreat, let Mason and Slidell go, and told his secretary of state, "One war at a time."
Sound advice. As President Bush decides whether to arm Taiwan with advanced U.S. warships, and Beijing's belligerence mounts, why are we antagonizing Russia? Recently U.S. officials met an envoy of Chechen rebels who had just murdered 21 Russians and wounded 130 in car bomb attacks. A week earlier, we expelled 50 "spies." The White House has said Bush has no desire to meet President Putin any time soon.
Again, why are we driving Russia into the arms of China?
A decade ago, Moscow marched the Red Army out of Eastern Europe, allowed the captive nations to dump over their Communist regimes, and let the Soviet Union dissolve into 15 nations. Ronald Reagan, who had decried the "evil empire," was being cheered in Red Square.
Yet since Russia called off the Cold War, we have broken our word and moved NATO to its borders, smashed its old Serb ally and now collude with Azerbaijan and Georgia to cut Russia out of the Caspian oil trade. Bush aides talk of bringing Baltic states into NATO and forging new military bonds with ex-Soviet republics.
How would we react if a Russia, victorious in the Cold War, invited Cuba into the Warsaw Pact, handed a war guarantee to Panama and cut us out of the oil trade with Mexico?
But U.S. arrogance is matched by Muscovite folly. If Tony Blair is complaining of spies, Putin is overloading the circuits. Russia is also selling weapons to Iran and providing Beijing with destroyers, anti-ship missiles, submarines and fighter-bombers to contest the U.S. Pacific Fleet.
Putin must know that America, its superpower hubris aside, does not threaten Russia. But the Islamist regime in Iran is a threat in the Caucasus; and after Hong Kong and Taiwan have been digested, China will look to recover its lost lands in Russia.
In the treaties of Aikun and Peking in 1858 and 1860, China was swindled by agents of Alexander II out of 350,000 square miles along the Amur and Ussuri. On that territory today sits the trans-Siberian railroad and port of Vladivostok. In 1969 Soviet and Chinese troops clashed on both rivers. Chinese settlers are slowly moving in, just as Americans once moved south into the Mexican province of Texas.
Russia is a dying nation. Its population is down to 145 million, and Putin has said it may fall to 123 million by 2015 -- a 15-year loss as huge as all the dead in the Great Patriotic War. By 2025, Iran will have as many people. Russians are today outnumbered by Chinese 9 to 1. East of the Aral Sea, the ratio is closer to 50 to 1. In the 1990s the quarrels that exploded into wars within and between nations were ideological, territorial, religious and tribal. With Bolshevism dead, no such quarrel exists between America and Russia. If there is any vital U.S. interest, it is that Russia not be dismembered by the warriors of Islam or by a China which, by 2025, will have 1.5 billion people.
Bolshevik Russia was an enemy, but Orthodox Russia is part of the West, a natural ally. Why, then, treat it as a potential enemy? Would we really prefer the Chinese across the Bering Strait?
Moscow has behaved boorishly, but Beijing drowned in blood the Tienanmen Square heroes, has persecuted Christians and the Falun Gong, shipped nuclear technology to Pakistan and missiles to Iran, fired rockets over Taiwan, threatened us with war if we dare to intervene, upgraded Saddam's air defense against U.S. pilots -- and been rewarded with annual favored-nation trading status and $400 billion in trade surpluses with the United States in a single decade.
That was Clinton's legacy. Is it the Bush policy as well?
With Europe steaming, Moscow embittered, Arabs enraged, Iran and Iraq hostile, North Korea threatening and China forcing down U.S. planes, perhaps we should recall Mr. Lincoln's counsel to Mr. Seward, "One war at a time."
The writer was the Reform Party candidate for president in 2000. return to menu
C. Fissile Material Storage
1. Mayak Collective Favors Imports of Spent Nuclear Fuel
April 11, 2001
(for personal use only)
MOSCOW, Apr 11, 2001 (Itar-Tass via COMTEX) -- The 14,000ong work collective of the Mayak association, the Russian atomic industry's pioneering enterprise, has appealed to the State Duma, or the lower house of Russian parliament, to amend Russian legislation so as to permit importation of spent nuclear fuel for storage and re-procession in Russia.
The appeal notes that Mayak has been regenerating nuclear fuel spent in the reactors of numerous nuclear power plants since 1972, and both practical workers and theoreticians have accumulated unique scientific, technological and production experience over this period.
The appeal further notes that the Association is capable of solving a number of serious environmental problems in the course of regeneration of spent nuclear fuel. But the restrictions imposed my a number of Russian laws with respect to the processing of spent fuel from foreign nuclear power plants have resulted in a reduction of the Mayak work load: at present three-thirds of its production capacities are idling.
"Russia is being resolutely pushed into the backyard of the civilised world and turned into a raw-material appendix of the economically developed states," the appeal stresses.
The work collective of Mayak, Russia's single enterprise specialising in the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel, urges the State Duma deputies "to examine attentively the issue of the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel, show state wisdom and make changes to the existing legislation of the Russian Federation that would permit importation of spent nuclear fuel in the Russian Federation for storage and reprocessing." return to menu
2. Risk Factor Growing in Russian Atomic Energy Industry
Military News Agency
April 10, 2001
(for personal use only)
MOSCOW, Apr 10, 2001 -- (Military News Agency) The Russian Atomic Energy Ministry has been violating the division of powers principle since 1998, trying to take over the State Atomic Inspection's functions related to licensing activities and expert examination in the sphere of atomic energy use, inspection chairman Yuri Vishnevsky said on Monday.
Vishnevsky spoke at parliamentary hearings on the state of the government system of nuclear and radiation security control and related legal issues.
The country that attaches so much importance to atomic energy industry, possesses such huge stocks of nuclear weapons and has an enormous number of military installations fitted with nuclear reactors, should stick to the division of powers principle, Vishnevsky stressed. Federal inspection of the country's nuclear and radiation security should be carried out by a federal body directly subordinate to the Russian president, he stressed.
Viktor Ilyukhin, chairman of the parliamentary subcommittee for security, told the hearings that many installations of the industry are time-expired, and their equipment modernization progresses very slowly. Those problems are further complicated by poor guarantees of security in the sphere of weapons-grate plutonium scrapping, and as a result, the risk factor in the Russian atomic energy application sphere is very high.
Participants of the hearings agreed over the necessity to develop methods of risk assessment on the basis of an objective criteria system. For this matter, it is necessary to speed up consideration and adoption of the bills "Concerning Radioactive Waste Treatiment", "Concerning Legal and Administrative Responsibility for Causing Nuclear Damage and its Financial Backing" and "Concerning Special Environmental Programs of Radiation-Contaminated Territories Rehabilitation", the participants said. return to menu
3. New Method to Predict Plutonium Stability
April 11, 2001
(for personal use only)
LONDON (Reuters) - In a finding that could lead to safer handling and storage of nuclear weapons, scientists in the United States said Wednesday they have devised a new method to predict the physical properties of plutonium.
Scientists at Rutgers University in New Jersey used analytical and computer calculations to predict changes in the structure of the solid states of plutonium from a dense, unstable phase to a safer state.
"The potential decomposition into the unstable phase over time is a matter of concern in old, stored nuclear warheads, where this could ultimately result in changes in the mass that could lead to a chain reaction," said Gabriel Kotliar, a professor at the university.
With stockpiles of plutonium-based weapons stored around the world, effectively predicting stability changes is of international importance.
In a report in the science journal Nature, Kotliar and his colleagues Sergej Savrasov and Elihu Abrahams describe their new technique, the first in 30 years, which is a potential landmark achievement in solid-state physics.
"While the search for answers about plutonium phases generally has been through experimental methods, we employed analytical and computer calculations to predict changes in the structure of the solid states of plutonium," Kotliar explained.
The scientists used a U.S. Department of Energy supercomputer and a grid of 80 computer processors to predict the volume and stability changes between the different phases of the element.
"We are dealing with an extremely delicate balance between the two phases, and which one wins and when this happens is information that is necessary to assure the safe storage of this important material," Kotliar added.
Plutonium, an artificial element that was made for the first time in 1940, is one of the most mysterious, toxic and dangerous substances known. It is dangerous to handle, difficult to store and impossible to dispose of.
The silvery-white radioactive element occurs only rarely in nature and is produced synthetically from uranium. Plutonium has a half-life of 24,000 years, which means it loses only half its radioactivity over that period.
Traces of plutonium in depleted uranium (DU) weapons used by NATO-led forces in the Balkans have aroused fears that the armour-piercing weapons could pose a health risk but defense experts have played down any potential dangers. return to menu
D. Nuclear Waste
1. Parliament Postpones Key Debate on Nuclear Waste
Agence France Presse
April 11, 2001
(for personal use only)
MOSCOW, Apr 11, 2001 -- (Agence France Presse) A key debate on a controversial bill to allow Russia to import nuclear waste has been postponed until April 18, the speaker of the State Duma lower house Gennady Seleznyov said Tuesday.
The second reading of the much-criticized bill, due Wednesday, was put back a week because the new minister Alexander Rumyantsev wished to consult with Russian lawmakers before the debate took place, Seleznyov told reporters.
It is the second time the debate, originally scheduled for March 22, has been postponed in the face of protests by ecologists and opinion polls saying a majority of Russian oppose the bill.
Rumyantsev, appointed by President Vladimir Putin in a reshuffle last month that saw his predecessor Yevgeny Adamov sacked amid a wave of corruption allegations, has pledged to guarantee the safety of the nuclear waste plan.
The atomic energy ministry says the law would enable Russia to sign contracts to reprocess 20,000 tons of waste with China, Germany, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and Taiwan, earning 21 billion dollars (24 billion euros) over the next 10 years.
The Duma in December backed the government plan, voting by a large margin to approve an amendment easing a 1991 environmental protection law banning the import of nuclear waste. return to menu
E. Russian Nuclear Power Industry
1. Out of Control
The Moscow Times
April 10, 2001
(for personal use only)
Vladimir Kuznetsov is the editor of Radiation and Society published by the International Green Cross. He is also a member of the Independent Experts Association, an organization that campaigns for the safe use of nuclear energy. He contributed this comment to The Moscow Times.
In the wake of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, the Soviet government suspended the development of its nuclear industry. For 10 years no nuclear power plants were brought into operation, and the nuclear research industry suffered severe cutbacks. But over the last few years, Russia's Nuclear Power Ministry has once again begun to expand - and, unfortunately, to expand at the expense of safety.
Originally created to produce plutonium for weapons, the former Soviet Union's nuclear energy program still retains many of its old trappings: secrecy, a dubious safety record and considerable lobbying power with whomever's in power. A 1998 report from Russia's State Atomic Inspection Agency, or GAN - which is not usually very critical of the ministry - highlighted increasing instability and worsening safety conditions at Russian nuclear power plants. Moreover, outdated and unreliable equipment, as well as the widespread lack of proper training for plant technicians, do not bode well for safe nuclear power development in Russia.
As strange as it may seem, money from Western governments donated to Russia for the reconstruction and upgrading of existing nuclear power stations plays an important role in the Nuclear Power Ministry's expansion. Western aid frees large sums of money from state coffers that would otherwise have to be spent making existing plants safe. Western aid, therefore, only hastens the construction of new nuclear power stations.
In terms of the likelihood of a nuclear accident, Russia is more dangerous than ever before. Twenty-nine reactors are currently in operation at nine nuclear power stations in Russia, producing 21,242 megawatts of electricity per year. In 1998 there were 102 incidents at Russian nuclear power stations, 23 more than in 1997. One of these incidents had a third-level classification and two were given a first-level rating. Incidents at nuclear power plants are rated by international energy agencies from zero to seven, the disaster at Chernobyl being a seven.
Most functioning plants operate according to outdated security rules and norms that were instituted back when the plants were originally constructed. Today not one of Russia's nuclear power plants fully meets modern safety requirements, especially in terms of breaches in reactor operations. Serious violations of regulations and technical requirements occur regularly, occasionally resulting in radiation exposure to plant personnel.
Such violations usually occur because plant workers are either poorly trained or simply incompetent. A 1998 report by GAN noted the increasing number of shutdowns at nuclear power plants. The report concluded that "recent personnel changes in management of the state energy company Rosenergoatom and certain nuclear power stations have led to the worsening management of nuclear energy and reduced stability in the functioning of nuclear power stations." Russia's brain drain is also cause for concern, as highly qualified personnel have left the country for better jobs and are often replaced by underqualified technicians.
This perilous situation is made still worse by wear-and-tear on existing equipment. Financing for replacement equipment is insufficient or even non-existent. Some aging reactors lack proper containment vessels, reliable control technology and emergency core-cooling systems, all normal features of modern plants. Perhaps even more than cash, however, these plants need greater regulation and a timetable for the permanent shutdown of first- and second-generation reactor types (which simply do not meet modern safety requirements). A mechanism for the proper disposal of radioactive waste is also imperative.
Observers have also been alarmed by a 1998 European Union report on the Tacis assistance program. Of the $1 billion that the EU has donated to this program, only one-third was spent as it should have been. Evidence suggests that the bulk of the money was stolen or, at best, misappropriated. Analyzing the results for 1990-97, the report's authors came to the worrying conclusion that no progress in the field of nuclear energy had been made and that the world is not necessarily safe from a second Chernobyl.
Because of Russia's long-term economic slump, power plants are increasingly operating with a deficit. The state-mandated low price of nuclear energy does not cover production costs. Nonpayment by commercial and private consumers is rife, barter payments are still widely used and funds allocated from the state budget are often not disbursed.
In recent years, power station debts to their suppliers have grown faster than debts owed to the plants by their customers. The prices charged by outside companies for such services as the removal and burial of radioactive waste and the decontamination of radiation suits have risen significantly. As of last August, Russian nuclear power plants owed 23.8 billion rubles to suppliers, while they were owed 21.8 billion rubles by their customers.
As the country seeks a way out of its economic malaise, the outlook for nuclear power seems bleak. Even a small nuclear accident would wipe out any progress that has been made over the last decade and could even threaten the stability of the entire political system. Nonetheless, the Nuclear Power Ministry continues to lobby every government that comes to power with new schemes and development plans. But none of them has taken into consideration the needs of the people of Russia or the country's long-term interests. return to menu
F. Russian Nuclear Forces
1. Russian Lawmakers Discuss State of Nuclear Weapons Industry
Military News Agency
April 12, 2001
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MOSCOW, Apr 12, 2001 -- (Military News Agency) First Deputy Minister of Atomic Energy spoke in the State Duma lower house of parliament on Wednesday about prospects of Russian nuclear weapons industry backing and measures aimed to supporting fundamental nuclear science in the period of the Atomic Energy Ministry's restructuring, the Military News Agency learned.
Ryabev informed the Duma on the ministry's activities related to the nuclear weapons industry reform, implementation of the purpose-oriented presidential program of the industry development up to 2010. Among the ministry's priority tasks are elaboration of the legislative base for nuclear defense activities as well as guarantees of reliability and security of the Russian Armed Forces' nuclear arsenal, Ryabev said. The storage terms of nuclear weapons which were tested before 1990 will end in next two to three years and it is necessary to create a scientific and technical basis for their safe storage.
Commenting on the ministry's restructuring, Ryabov said that only two out of four plants that produce nuclear weapons will remain in Russia by 2003. One of two plants producing weapons-grade plutonium will be closed too. The number of people working at the industry's enterprises will decrease from 75,000 to 35,000-40,000 in five years.
Ryabov urged the lawmakers to work out and approve the law "Concerning the Russian Nuclear Weapons Industry." return to menu
G. Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR)
1. Russia Seeks Aid To Destroy Weapons
The Associated Press
April 11, 2001
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THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) - Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov affirmed Russia's commitment to destroy its massive stockpile of banned chemical weapons Wednesday, but said it needed international help to cover the huge costs.
"I have to tell you frankly that the acuteness of the problem of funding Russia's chemical weapons destruction is still present," Ivanov said in The Hague, Netherlands.
"Russia continues to have difficulty destroying in strict compliance with the convention," he said.
Ivanov described his talks Wednesday with Jose Bustani, director of the watchdog Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, as "substantive," but declined to disclose details.
The organization's officials said Ivanov's visit showed that Russia was determined to reduce stores of deadly chemicals, but they expressed disappointment that no concrete details were given about how and when it will achieve reduction targets.
Russia - which has the world's largest stockpile of chemical weapons - agreed to do away with 20 percent of stores by April 2002.
But it is lagging far behind schedule. The OPCW has extended a deadline for destroying the first 1 percent of stockpiles to 2002, meaning Russia will almost certainly miss the 20 percent requirement.
Russia has said it needs international financing for the expensive destruction process, estimated to cost $7 billion. Russian experts say it could take 15 to 30 years to destroy the entire stockpile.
Russia increased its 2001 budget for the project to $40 million - mostly to build a destruction plant in the town of Gorny, in the Volga River region of Saratov, the OPCW said. Another $1 billion was needed to build another facility in Schuchye in the Kurgan region.
The Gorny plant, which has drawn some financial support from Europe, is being built to destroy blister agents, older weapons which are at the greatest risk of leakage because of poor storage facilities. The United States is more interested in Schuchye, where more advanced nerve gas weapons are kept.
Ivanov called for international support Wednesday, saying he was confident OPCW member states would "take the necessary measures."
"It is our common interest to destroy those masses of chemical weapons," he said.
Russia has about 40,000 tons of chemical weapons, compared with 30,000 for the United States. The volume of chemicals for weapons in those two countries alone surpasses that of the rest of the world, OPCW spokesman Peter Kaiser said.
Russia was one of the inaugural signers of a chemical weapons convention that was opened for signing in January 1993. The convention has been ratified by 143 countries, including Russia in 1997. Another 31 nations have signed, but not ratified the treaty. return to menu
H. Loose Nukes
1. Radioactive substance stolen from MAP: Ukrainian News
Kiev Post News
April 11, 2001
(for personal use only)
KYIV, Apr. 11 (Ukrainian News) - The theft of a radioactive substance from the Mykolaiv Alumina Plant was uncovered at 11:30 p.m. on Sunday, the Emergencies Ministry announced Tuesday.
According to the ministry's press service, the substance can contaminate an area of 100 square meters if opened.
According to an official at the Mykolaiv regional administration's emergencies department, representatives of the Emergency Ministry, the State Security Service, the police, and the factory are presently searching for the material.
According to the MAP source, it would be difficult for a non-specialist to open the container, in which the substance is stored.
The radioactive substance is used in some types of measuring instruments and equipment. return to menu