Russia will import, store and reprocess other countries' nuclear waste, following the approval of the third and final reading of a controversial bill by the Russian lower house of parliament.
Once passed by the upper house and signed by the president, the bill will earn Russia's Atomic Energy Ministry up to $20bn over a 10-year period.
The ministry has promised to use part of the money to clean up Russian regions polluted by radioactive waste from the Soviet-era nuclear programme.
But environmentalists and other opponents' previous pledges to clean up nuclear contamination have gone unfulfilled.
Grigory Yavlinsky, leader of the liberal Yabloko party and one of the main opponents of the bill, told the chamber: "One hundred million Russian citizens are against it and only 500 people are for - 300 members sitting here and 200 bureaucrats who will be getting the money."
Last month the EU Environment Commissioner Margot Walstrom told Russian officials that European countries were concerned about Russian safety levels for the processing and transportation of nuclear waste.
She said the processing centre in the Ural Mountains where it is planned to treat the waste did not meet European safety norms.
The deputy chairman of the 450-member State Duma, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, defended the bill, explaining that what the government has called waste, is actually a valuable resource.
"Waste is something found at a dump. It stinks and crawls with microbes and beetles. This, on the other hand, is a very valuable raw material for the production of plutonium and uranium, all of which may be used to heat and light the country," Mr. Zhirinovsky told Russia TV.
The bill passed by 243 to 125, with seven deputies abstaining, in a vote that took only 20 minutes.
But the speaker of Russia's upper chamber of parliament, Yegor Stroyev, warned that the Federation Council may have serious concerns about the bill.
"We will take our time with this decision," he said.
"First, we have to take a careful look at all the consequences, think about guaranteeing security, and only then make our decision."
The bill amends existing legislation to allow Russia to import and store on a "temporary" basis nuclear waste and byproducts from abroad.
It does not specify time limits.
Russian towns, rivers and large tracts of land were exposed to radioactive pollution during the secretive development of the Soviet nuclear industry, and environmentalists say they remain dangerously polluted.
Scientist Alexei Yablokov, a former presidential adviser, has said opinion polls show 90% of voters are against the bill. return to menu
2. Russia Backs Nuclear Waste Imports
June 6, 2001
(for personal use only)
MOSCOW, Russia -- Nuclear waste could be imported into Russia as part of a money-making bid after a controversial bill was approved.
Russia's Atomic Energy Ministry said it could earn up to $20 billion by importing 20,000 metric tons (22,000 short tons) of spent nuclear fuel over 10 years.
The country's lower house quickly approved the bill on Wednesday.
It would use part of the money to clean up regions polluted by radioactive waste from the Soviet-era nuclear programme, the Associated Press news agency said.
The bill has to pass the Federation Council upper house and be signed by President Vladimir Putin in order to become law.
The upper house usually quickly approves government bills, but its speaker, Yegor Stroyev, warned that broad public opposition to the proposals could delay its passage.
Opponents said the measure would make Russia the world's nuclear dump, and questioned whether the money would be used as promised.
"Our citizens are against turning Russia into an outhouse," said Sergei Mitrokhin of the liberal Yabloko faction.
Yabloko and other opponents of the bill wanted the vote postponed, but the 450-member State Duma approved the three-bill package after a 20-minute debate.
A supporter of the bill, Deputy Yegor Ligachev, a Communist and a former member of the Soviet Union's ruling Politburo, said: "I am voting for this bill because I don't want places in my country remaining dead zones, contaminated by radiation."
Alleged conflict of interest on the part of Atomic Energy Minister Yevgeny Adamov briefly stalled the bill in December.
Although he was dismissed in a Cabinet shakeup, his successor, Alexander Rumyantsev, also championed the idea and it passed on second reading in April.
Many Russian towns, rivers and areas of land were exposed to radioactive pollution during the secretive development of the Soviet nuclear industry.
Environmentalists warn that large-scale imports of spent nuclear fuel would threaten radiation safety by leaving no place for Russia's own waste from nuclear power plants and decommissioned submarines.
"The imports of spent nuclear fuel would raise the danger of accidents at our nuclear plants," said Vladimir Kuznetsov, the co-ordinator of nuclear safety programs for the Russian Green Cross, an independent environmental group.
Kuznetsov, who previously worked at the state nuclear safety watchdog agency, also said that lax security and crumbling railroads would pose additional risks if nuclear waste was imported. return to menu
3. Duma Approves Spent Nuclear Fuel Imports
June 6, 2001
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The lower house of the Russian parliament, the State Duma, has passed the law to allow the import of nuclear waste to Russia. At Wednesday's plenary session, the lawmakers passed the amendments to effective legislation on nuclear energy use and environmental protection in the third and final reading. The majority of deputies did not seem even slightly concerned about the negative public attitude to the move.
250 deputies backed the amendments to the Law on Nuclear Energy Use, 125 voted against and 243 voted for and 125 voted against the amendments to the Law on Environmental Protection. Now the draft amendments will undergo the formality of being approved by the upper house - the Federation Council, and then will be signed by the head of state.
A Duma deputy in the pro-Kremlin Unity faction told Gazeta.Ru that the bills are not likely to encounter any opposition in the Federation Council because the majority of senators - 110 - are members of the pro-government bloc called Federatsiya (Federation)
Gazeta.Ru has learnt that the former head of the Nuclear Ministry Yevgeny Adamov has been a frequent guest in the upper house lately. Since losing the ministerial post, Adamov has continued an active campaign in favour of irradiated fuel imports to Russia. There have been numerous reports that he has an invested interest in the future nuclear fuel reprocessing business
Adamov headed the Russian delegation which in April this year held talks on spent nuclear fuel with EU-representatives in The Hague.
According to the Nuclear Ministry's plan, the construction of a new reprocessing plant is to be completed by the year 2021. And after 2021, the level of radiation of imported and stored fuel will fall, whereupon it will be safe to reprocess it. They say reprocessing will require another 20 years, till 2041.
However, according to the State Atomic Inspectorate, the Nuclear Ministry cannot count on the first Soviet-era reprocessing plant RT-1, known as PO (Proizvodstvennoye Obyedineniye) Mayak.
The Chief of the State Atomic Inspectorate (Gosatomnadzor) Yuri Vishnevsky told Gazeta.Ru that in its better years Mayak, Russia's only reprocessing plant reprocessed up to 400 tons of spent nuclear fuel per annum, but over the past 10-15 years its reprocessing capacities have halved and the facilities deteriorated.
For instance, in 2000, the plant reprocessed only 162 tonnes of fuel.
In order to boost Mayak's capacities the plant needs full modernization. And, in Vishnevsky's opinion, the plan to complete Russia's second reprocessing plant within 10 years is unrealistic.
Vishnevsky said the construction of the RT-2 near Zheleznogorsk was frozen, to be more exact abandoned, in 1992 and since then all the facilities already constructed deteriorated beyond repair. "In fact one may say that the RT-2 plant does not exist at all," said Vishnevsky. He said that the plant has enough storage space for a maximum of 3 thousand tons of spent nuclear fuel.
The Nuclear Ministry plans to import 2 thousand tons of spent nuclear fuel a year. Then there is the spent nuclear fuel from Russia's 26 nuclear power stations.
Vishnevsky says that it would take 6-7 years to build a new modern storage facility. So if, as looks more than likely, spent nuclear fuel is imported to Russia beforehand, there will be nothing left to do but to store it "in the open air", said Vishnevsky.
Igor Forofontov of the Russian branch of Greenpeace told Gazeta.Ru, that 'greens' have nothing left to do but to "shoot themselves."
"Or, at least, quit Greenpeace," said Forofontov, "since henceforth Russia, apart from importing foreign spent nuclear fuel, may as well sell domestic nuclear fuel to such states as India, China and the Iran and then take it back for reprocessing. That means that every second, there will be at least one wagon carrying spent nuclear fuel rolling through the territory of our country. And even now, when a nuclear train rolls through the country once or twice a month, the number of accidents during transportation amounts to dozens a year."
The Mayak plant is in the Krasnoyarsk Region in western Siberia and the incomplete RT-2 plant is in the Chelyabinsk Region, central Siberia. All imports would have to travel huge distances to reach the plants.
Forofontov explained that operating nuclear power stations is the safest part of the exploitation of nuclear fuel, whereas transportation and reprocessing are the most dangerous and storage is the lengthiest. Now Russia will have it all...
Environmentalists have warned the deputies that during the next parliamentary elections they will campaign against all those who voted in favour of the nuclear amendments.
Prior to the vote the deputies received copies of an opinion poll conducted by the independent think tank ROMIR, entitled: "Would you vote for a deputy who voted for the 'nuclear drafts'?"
It emerged that only 3.4% - respondents answered 'definitely yes' and 'most likely, yes' - would support such a deputy, whereas 78.9% would not vote for him/her. 12.4 % respondents said they would most likely not support the candidate. return to menu
4. Greenpeace Calls on President Bush to Veto Exports of U.S.-Controlled Nuclear Waste to Russia
June 6, 2001
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Greenpeace today called on President Bush to veto any shipments of US-origin spent nuclear fuel to Russia following today's vote in the Russian parliament to overturn a ban on the import of radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel.
Recent calculations based on data provided by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) show that more than 90% of foreign radioactive waste (spent nuclear fuel) considered for import by Russia's Ministry of Atomic Energy (Minatom) is under U.S. control (http://www.atomsafe.ru/news/august.htm).
Only 180t (or 7.5%) of the 2,400 tonnes of spent nuclear fuel produced annually, by Minatom's claimed potential client countries, could be exported to Russia without U.S. approval. This material is produced in China, Eastern European countries and at some reactors in Switzerland, which are not of U.S. design.
"U.S. permission for the export of spent nuclear fuel to Russia would be a clear contradiction of the most fundamental U.S. nuclear non-proliferation policy." said Tobias Muenchmeyer of Greenpeace International. "Reprocessing of imported spent nuclear fuel, as envisaged by Minatom, would clearly undermine all U.S. efforts to discourage the accumulation of plutonium and the proliferation of nuclear weapons."
"Without U.S. support the whole grandiose Minatom program shrinks down to the simple old Soviet practice of taking back spent fuel from the Socialist brother countries," said Muenchmeyer.
The Russian Duma today finally approved a controversial amendment to the environmental bill allowing the import of radioactive waste to Russia. With 243 votes in favor of the amendment, the supporters of spent fuel imports got only slightly more than the minimal required 226 votes.
The Duma vote ignored popular opposition to the proposal with more than 2.5 million Russians signing a petition, sponsored by Greenpeace and other environmental groups, calling for a national referendum on the issue. However, on 2 November, last year, Russia's Central Election Committee declared 600,000 signatures invalid, taking the number below the 2 million thresholds required to trigger a referendum. Also an opinion poll, conducted for Greenpeace in May, this year, by independent Russian public research center ROMIR, found that 78.9 per cent of Russians were opposed to the import of radioactive waste and would not vote for Duma members who supported this legislation.
The law changes, approved by the Duma today, must now go to the Russian Upper House. The leader of Russia's Upper House is opposed to the radioactive waste import legislation. Federation Council Chairman Yegor Stroyev told the Interfax news agency on March 7 this year: "Only the mafia could be interested in laws that actually open the way to imports of nuclear wastes and turning Russia into a nuclear dump. The idea of importing nuclear wastes to Russia is insane."
The permission for importing radioactive waste, being promoted by the cashapped Minatom, is designed to allow Russia to become the world's nuclear waste dump. Minatom believes that over the next decade it could import up to 20,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel from countries including Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Switzerland, Germany and Spain - in contracts worth up to $21 billion.
The main promoter of the radioactive waste import scheme, former Atomic Minister Evgeny Adamov, was sacked by the Russian President Vladimir Putin on March 28. The dismissal of Adamov followed the release by Greenpeace, on March 3, of a confidential report from the Russian Parliamentary Anti-Corruption Commission detailing Adamov's large-scale illegal business activities.
The proposed sites for Spent Nuclear Fuel storage are Mayak in the Ural Mountains and Krasnoyarsk in Siberia. Mayak is the world's largest nuclear complex and one of the most radioactively contaminated sites in the world. According to a 1998 statement by G.J. Dicus, a commissioner for the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission: "As a result of early operational practices and some accidents at Mayak, workers at the plant and populations around the site were exposed to unusually large amounts of radiation and radioactive materials. In many cases, the doses were comparable to those received by survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings."
Tobias Muenchmeyer, Greenpeace's expert on Russian nuclear issues, was declared persona non grata by the Russian Foreign Ministry in December 1999 and has been banned from entering Russia ever since. No reason has been given why Muenchmeyer is not allowed to enter Russia anymore, except that it "is in the interest of state security" to deny him a visa. Greenpeace is campaigning to overturn this undemocratic decision, which strikes at the heart of free speech. return to menu
5. Arbat Traffic Stops for Waste Debate
June 4, 2001
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Nuclear Power Minister Alexander Rumyantsev showed up at a downtown restaurant Sunday for a cup of tea, a slice of cake and a debate with Yabloko head Grigory Yavlinsky on a controversial plan to import spent nuclear fuel. Yavlinsky and Rumyantsev were guests of the "Bender Show" on Ekho Moskvy radio, which is broadcast live from a restaurant on Arbat and named after Ostap Bender, the charming con-man hero of the classic 1920s novel "Twelve Chairs." Cracking jokes and assisting in the writing of a silly poem about nuclear waste, an unrelenting Rumyantsev maintained that earning billions of dollars by importing spent nuclear fuel was the only way for Russia to clean up areas contaminated by nuclear tests and storage leaks.
The State Duma in April passed on second reading a bill that would allow the import of about 20,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel during the next 40 years, a plan its authors say would earn $20 billion. The Yabloko party is the loudest opponent of the bill. Dressed casually, Yavlinsky and Rumyantsev jovially debated the bill on a sunny afternoon in the middle of the street surrounded by cameras and a crowd of about 50 onlookers. The debate lasted a short 10 minutes and was dominated by journalists, who didn't give Muscovites a chance to ask any questions. Ekho Moskvy journalists presented the men with the results of an informal street poll taken on Arbat hours earlier that showed 62 of the 67 pedestrians surveyed had voted against the import of nuclear waste.
"But I am also against importing nuclear waste," Rumyantsev said, playing with semantics. "Only, we're not planning to import waste. We'll be importing spent nuclear fuel." "Of course, we can call it spent nuclear fuel," Yavlinsky replied. "But the countries that will be sending it to us call it waste." Yavlinsky criticized the authors of the bill for not taking into consideration the poor state of Russia's railroads and nuclear plants, which would need to be used for transporting and reprocessing the fuel. He called for the bill to be suspended before it gets to the third reading and for a referendum to be conducted on the issue. A date for the third hearing has not yet been set.
National opinion polls show that 90 percent of Russians are against the import of spent fuel. An earlier attempt by a group of environmental organizations to call for a referendum failed when the Central Elections Commission threw out just enough of the 2.6 million signatures to invalidate the appeal. Yavlinsky also said that the bill in its current form presents a fertile ground for corruption and that the money earned by importing fuel would end up in politicians' pockets rather than in programs for the cleanup of areas contaminated with radiation, as the ministry envisions.
"Today's Russia is not ready for such an operation," he said. "Not with nonexistent systems of control, not with our banking system, nor with our bureaucracy." Rumyantsev agreed that the bill passed in the second reading does not guarantee transparency or public control over the way the money earned by imports would be spent. "But I am giving my word that I will keep everything transparent," Rumyantsev said. After the debate, Yavlinsky and Rumyantsev continued their conversation in private at a coffee table on the restaurant's terrace. Outside, volunteers dressed in T-shirts with radiation danger signs and gas masks pretended to collect nuclear waste and a group dressed in white jackets swept the street in a mock demonstration of how Russia would have to clean up radiation if the bill is passed. return to menu
6. Russian Minister, Liberal Politician Join Street Discussion on Nuclear Waste
BBC (TV6, Moscow, in Russian)
June 3, 2001
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[Presenter] Today [Russian] Ekho Moskvy radio conducted an investigation into public opinion on the import of spent nuclear fuel to Russia. The demonstration "Otkhody Protiv Dokhodov" [Waste Against Revenues] took place on Staryy Arbat [street in the centre of Moscow]. Our correspondent Darya Litvina returned from the demonstration just now.
[Correspondent] People in gas masks were walking along the Arbat this Sunday and collecting imaginary nuclear waste. The passers-by appreciated the joke. Empty bottles, cigarette butts and even money were thrown into the bag.
In actual fact, it was a very serious demonstration. Environmental organizations tried once again to attract public attention to the issue of the import of spent nuclear fuel into Russia. This idea of the [Russian] Atomic Energy Ministry, which [State Duma] deputies have already approved in two readings, is causing a lot of protest from environmentalists. The Atomic Ministry is planning to import spent nuclear fuel for reprocessing and then send it back to the countries it came from. They say that it will earn Russia 20bn [American] dollars a year.
Environmentalists say that all the money will be spent on the transportation and reprocessing [of nuclear fuel] itself; that accidents may happen during the transportation; that no [foreign] country would ever take its reprocessed waste back.
[A man in gas mask, speaking to camera] I was in Kiev in 1986 [during the Chernobyl disaster]. It is very bad when a big and beautiful city is without birds and children for a whole summer. It was a dead city.
[Correspondent] Quite naturally, Atomic Energy Minister Aleksandr Rumyantsev is backing the import of spent nuclear fuel. Citing his own experience of managing the Kurchatov Institute [of nuclear physics in Moscow], he says that the operation is safe. He insists that spent nuclear fuel should not be called waste.
[Rumyantsev, speaking to camera in a crowd] We would make this country a rubbish tip if we were to bring in all kinds of waste. In fact, we shall work on cleaning up the damage caused by the production of nuclear weapons in the country. Nobody has addressed this issue for decades. There is no money for this in the budget, and there will be none in the foreseeable future. How can we make the money? The atomic industry can do it by using nuclear technologies that we already have.
[Correspondent] [Russian liberal party] Yabloko leader Grigoriy Yavlinskiy does not agree with this. The argument between him and the atomic minister watched by a crowd in the Arbat was not the first one. Yavlinskiy says that the safety of a complicated and dangerous technological process cannot be guaranteed in our country.
[Yavlinskiy, speaking to camera] We have been promised 20bn dollars within 40 years. We will never see this money - that is my position.
[Correspondent] Rumyantsev insisted that Russia would not become a nuclear waste burial ground. He believes that other countries would willingly buy the fuel reprocessed in Russia. Moreover, he says that Russia would be up against tough competition from Great Britain and France, which also reprocess nuclear fuel. He called on the [Duma] deputies to pass the bill in the third reading.
However, the minister failed to persuade either Yavlinskiy or the environmentalists, who ended the action by sweeping the roadway in protest.
[broadcast at 11'14'35": video shows the action; Rumyantsev and Yavlinskiy arguing in the street] return to menu
7. Russian Ecologists Urge Moldova to Ban Bulgarian Nuclear Waste
Agence France Presse
June 1, 2001
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Russian ecologists have called on Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin to refuse to allow the transit of a cargo of Bulgarian nuclear waste bound for treatment in Russia.
"If you allow nuclear waste to go through your country, you will put the people of Moldova and Russia at risk of radiation and nuclear accidents," the Ecodefense group said in a statement.
"Nearly half of all nuclear accidents, including depressurization of waste containers and radioactive leaks, happen during transportation," the activists warned.
Moldova is considering allowing Bulgaria to transit the nuclear waste through its territory in return for a reduction in consular fees, but so far, no accord has been reached, Ecodefense said.
Moldova has declared itself a nuclear-free state and did not ratify a 1997 agreement on the free transit of nuclear waste, even though neighbors Russia, Ukraine and Bulgaria have ratified the accord.
In April, the Russian parliament backed a controversial bill that paves the way for importing nuclear waste, ignoring fierce protests and gloomy forecasts by the ecologists.
The scheme will earn Russia some 21 billion dollars over the next 10 years, according to official figures.
However, the reprocessing centre in which Russia is proposing to treat huge quantities of imported nuclear waste does not meet European safety norms, environmentalists warn.
"The Mayak factory is an old and insecure facility. It was also the site of a major nuclear accident in 1957, which had worse consequences than the Chernobyl explosion," the world's most notorious nuclear accident, Ecodefense's leader Vladimir Slivyak said. return to menu
B. National Missile Defense
1. Bush Missile Defense Plan Could Backfire, Group Says
June 6, 2001
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A group of liberal scientists and arms control experts said yesterday that President Bush's plan to build missile defenses could worsen rather than ease what they consider the most immediate nuclear threat to the United States: more than 1,000 Russian nuclear missiles on hair-trigger alert.
"The greatest nuclear danger to the United States today and in the near future is a Russian attack resulting from an error in Russia's warning system or a failure in its command-and-control system," according to a report issued yesterday by the Federation of American Scientists, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Bush sees things differently. In a major speech May 1, the president described "today's most urgent threat" as coming "not from thousands of ballistic missiles in Soviet hands, but from a small number of missiles in the hands of [rogue] states -- states for whom terror and blackmail are a way of life."
The panel of 16 experts, including former nuclear weapons designers and arms control negotiators, argued that a U.S. missile defense system would trigger reactions by Russia and China that "could result in a net decrease in U.S. security."
For example, the report predicted, Russia may be unwilling to reduce its forces below the level of 1,000 to 1,500 warheads, or to change its policy of keeping hundreds of missiles on "launch-on-warning" alert, if leaders in Moscow fear that U.S. missile defenses could knock down "a significant number" of their strategic missiles. "By focusing on the wrong problem, the Bush administration is heading toward the wrong solution," said Tom Z. Collina, director of the global security program at the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Bruce Blair, president of the nonprofit Center for Defense Information and a member of the panel, said it is commonly believed in the United States that Russia's huge arsenal could easily overwhelm any U.S. missile defense. But "on any given day," he said, Russia actually fields fewer than 100 strategic weapons that it can consider safe from a U.S. first strike: one or two regiments of mobile SS-25 missiles and one or two Delta IV submarines carrying ballistic missiles.
Since even the relatively modest missile defense plan that the Clinton administration was pursuing envisioned 100 to 250 interceptor missiles, Blair said, "National missile defense looks to the Russians like it could neutralize their small deterrent capability."
The panel's report recommends that the United States promptly retire all its tactical or medium-range nuclear weapons, take its strategic or long-range weapons off alert, and ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. It also calls for the United States to unilaterally reduce its nuclear arsenal to 1,000 warheads, from the current level of about 6,500.
Under the second Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, signed by President George H.W. Bush and Russian President Boris Yeltsin in January 1993, both countries are to cut their arsenals to between 3,000 and 3,500 warheads by the end of 2007. return to menu
2. Russia Warns U.S. over Missile Pact
St. Petersburg Times (AP)
June 5, 2001
(for personal use only)
MOSCOW - Maintaining a tough stance in the run-up to a U.S.-Russian summit, Russia's defense minister warned Washington on Tuesday that its withdrawal from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty would shatter the entire system of arms-control agreements.
"If we assume that the ABM Treaty loses force, it's logical to assume that the subsequent treaties that were based on it will also lose force," Sergei Ivanov told reporters after meeting with visiting Canadian Defense Minister Art Eggleton.
"That means we will enter a phase of total unpredictability in the sphere of global security," he added.
The ABM treaty prohibits a nationwide defense against ballistic missiles. The U.S. administration has tried unsuccessfully to persuade Moscow to amend the treaty to allow Washington to develop a limited missile-defense system.
The missile-defense issue will hang over the first meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his U.S. counterpart George Bush, scheduled for June 16 in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Ivanov said Moscow was ready to discuss the ABM issue, and praised the United States for launching a series of consultations rather than taking unilateral steps.
He added, however, that the consultations had been short on substance.
"It's too early to speak about any specific parameters yet," he said.
The United States has insisted that the planned defense system would be aimed at containing threats from potential nuclear nations, such as Iran and North Korea. Russia has acknowledged that there are some new threats but argued that they must be dealt with without modifying the ABM Treaty.
Ivanov said Russia and the United States would form working groups to continue discussions. return to menu
C. Plutonium Disposition
1. U.S., Kazakstan Talk of Plutonium Security
Wall Street Journal
June 4, 2001
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U.S and Kazak officials are considering how to best go about transporting 3.3 tons of weapons-grade plutonium from the Caspian Sea port of Aktau to a more secure facility. Officials worried that leaving the plutonium where it was created by a Soviet breeder reactor called BN-350 would expose it to the possibility of theft. Considering that the location is particularly exposed to Iran and that the plutonium is enough to constructs hundreds of nuclear weapons, the officials decided to move it. The U.S. asked Kazakstan last month if it could help in transporting the material to a safer location. Kazak and U.S. officials are moving the plutonium to a secure storage facility at the former nuclear test facility at Semipalatinsk. The transport of the plutonium is the second major joint mission between the U.S. and Kazakstan following the breakdown of the former Soviet Union. return to menu
D. International Nuclear Cooperation
1. RF Ready to Share Fast Reactor Expertise with Other States
June 4, 2001
(for personal use only)
Russia is ready to share its knowledge regarding fast reactors and closed fuel cycle with interested countries under an international innovation project launched by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Atomic Energy Ministry experts said after their trip to Mexico, Argentina and Brazil.
The purpose of the trip was to explain President Vladimir Putin's initiative of energy support for sustainable development of humankind, radical resolution of non-proliferation problems and environmental rehabilitation. The initiative was put forth at the Millennium Summit on September 6, 2000.
During the trip, the Russian experts discussed bilateral cooperation in the peaceful use of atomic energy, plans of cooperation in various research and design projects, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement transmitted to Itar-Tass on Monday.
The Latin American partners showed increased interest in looking for new perfect atomic energy technologies and using them to increase energy resources, strengthen the non-proliferation reform, resolve the problem of radioactive waste and ensure the safety and competitiveness of nuclear power plants. return to menu