Strategic stability and the future of the 1972 ABM Treaty were the main subject of another round of Russo-American consultations. This time negotiations involved Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld who arrived in Moscow shortly before they went under way.
The Moscow phase of the consultations consisted of two parts: in the morning the U.S. Defense Secretary spent more than an hour at an "eye-to-eye" meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergei Ivanov. Afterward both had a meeting with President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin, and then their respective delegations joined them at the Russian military department.
The consultations ranged over international and regional security, prospects for further Russia-NATO dialogue and the military operations in the Balkans. Also under review were bilateral military cooperation, non-proliferation of weapons of mass annihilation and missile technologies and strategic offensive arms reductions.
Sergei Ivanov stressed that negotiations on the ABM Treaty "cannot be separated from many other agreements, including those in the field of offensive weapons." After his meeting with his American counterpart, Ivanov spoke of common ground on many issues. He expressed the view of both sides by saying that the consultations had sprung to "a vigorous start."
He feels "it would be premature to make any final conclusions about the fate of the ABM Treaty, the more so that American partners have not fully disclosed the essence of their plans on the national missile defense system." Moscow still occupies a principled position with respect to the maintenance of the Russo-American ABM Treaty because it regards it as the foundation of the entire system of treaties on arms control, which ensures strategic stability. In Ivanov's opinion, "a radical reduction in nuclear weapons by Moscow and Washington can only be carried out on condition of continued strategic stability but it will hardly be possible if the United States starts implementing its NMD plans."
Missile defense was uppermost on the minds of U.S. negotiators in the course of the Moscow consultations. It has become clear that Washington has not abandoned its intention to create what it calls a limited but effective missile defense system against a limited missile attack, for which reason the United States seeks to withdraw from the 1972 ABM Treaty. The U.S. administration is anxious to convince Russian leaders that this step is necessary and that Washington wants to take it together with Moscow.
By all appearances, the two sides are still probing each other, and therefore the U.S. Defense Secretary said in Moscow he did not expect a breakthrough at the current stage of negotiations on NMD. In his opinion, the Moscow consultations are part of a process of getting accustomed to each other, which will take some time to come because countries who have been at loggerheads for half a century cannot be expected to build a new type of relationship overnight and put aside the rules of behavior and rhetoric that took root during the cold War.
During his meeting with the U.S. Secretary Vladimir Putin said he hoped for an agreement with the United States on offensive weapons and defensive systems, especially considering the high level of the talks. He reiterated Moscow's readiness for talks on offensive arms reductions. The head of the Russian state also declared that he "would like to receive the military and technical parameters of the proposals formulated at the U.S. military department."
The heads of the foreign departments of Russia and the United States will preside over another round of Russo-American talks on ABM and other issues in New York in September. By that time Washington may have allowed Moscow to see the parameters of proposals that Putin mentioned. return to menu
2. Transcript: Background Briefing on Rumsfeld Trip to Moscow
U.S. Department of State Washington File
August 10, 2001
(for personal use only)
A senior Defense Department official briefed journalists August 10 at the Pentagon on Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's upcoming trip to Moscow.
Rumsfeld will meet with Russian Minister of Defense Sergey Ivanov and his team on Monday, August 13, to "lay the groundwork" for upcoming meetings between President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin, the official said.
"Some of the preparation for these Moscow talks was done this week in talks that we had here at the Pentagon. The Russians sent a delegation headed by General-Colonel Yuri Baluyevsky, who's the first deputy chief of the general staff," the official said, adding that the talks themselves were confidential.
"The idea is to build a new relationship between the United States and Russia, a relationship that will be entirely different from the relationship that existed between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. And it's a relationship that will require us to be moving beyond some of the institutions of the Cold War, such as the ABM Treaty," the official said.
In Moscow, the talks will not be focused narrowly on missile defense or military matters, but rather on this "new relationship" which will encompass economic, political and military matters.
"The discussions in Moscow, we would expect, will also deal with offensive strategic force reductions, with missile defense and the ABM Treaty, and with areas of cooperation that can be developed between the United States and Russia," the official said.
"The best basis for strategic stability is a good relationship.... We are looking to create the kind of normal and friendly relations that will provide a good, solid basis for security and stability."
Following is a transcript:
Department of Defense Washington, D.C. August 10, 2001
BACKGROUND BRIEFING ON SECRETARY RUMSFELD'S UPCOMING TRIP TO MOSCOW
Adm. Quigley: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.
This afternoon we're here in the briefing room to do a backgrounder on the secretary's upcoming trip to Russia, leaving this weekend. And this is a background briefing attributable to a Senior Defense Official. And this is the individual that will be briefing you this afternoon.
Q: Could I just ask briefly, Craig --
Adm. Quigley: Yes, sir.
Q: -- before we get going, as the spokesperson in the room, has there been any analysis at all of the bombing raid in Iraq this morning? Have you any idea whether or not the targets were hit?
Adm. Quigley: Not that I have heard, no, we have no assessment of the damage yet.
Adm. Quigley: Okay?
With that, over to you, sir.
Sr. Defense Official: Good afternoon.
The secretary and our group will be departing on Saturday evening for Moscow and will be having a day of meetings with the Russian minister of defense, Sergei Ivanov, and his team on Monday. There's been a lot of back and forth between us and our Russian colleagues on trying to get the schedule organized.
And both Minister Ivanov and the secretary, having lots of things to do, were interested in organizing the calendar so that they could intensify the meetings, and they were able to succeed in getting it done so that we could have an intense day of meetings on Monday, and then we would be able to return on Monday night. So it'll be quite a full day.
The preparation -- some of the preparation for these Moscow talks was done this week in talks that we had here at the Pentagon. The Russians sent a delegation headed by General-Colonel Yuri Baluyevsky, who's the first deputy chief of the general staff.
The talks themselves were confidential, but I can make a few remarks about them. I think it's accurate to say that we conducted them in a spirit of consultation, cooperation, transparency. The idea is to build a new relationship between the United States and Russia, a relationship that will be entirely different from the relationship that existed between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. And it's a relationship that will require us to be moving beyond some of the institutions of the Cold War, such as the ABM Treaty.
Now the topics for discussion in Moscow, we would anticipate, will be developed to continue to lay the groundwork for the meetings that are coming up between President Putin and President Bush. They will include the -- how comprehensive and broad the new framework for U.S.-Russian relations is -- in other words, that this new relationship covers economic, political, and military matters; it's not focused narrowly on the military, much less on missile defense. We are talking broadly about a new relationship.
The discussions in Moscow, we would expect, will also deal with offensive strategic force reductions, with missile defense and the ABM Treaty, and with areas of cooperation that can be developed between the United States and Russia.
We are approaching this dialogue with a number of themes in mind. One of them is that the best basis for strategic stability is a good relationship. And we don't focus on simply mechanical balance or numbers or weapons systems; we are looking to create the kind of normal and friendly relations that will provide a good, solid basis for security and stability. And in that context, the United States is going to be building a limited but effective missile defense, as various administration officials have pointed out, against handfuls, not hundreds or thousands of missiles. And it is in the interest of both the United States and Russia that we withdraw jointly from the ABM Treaty in the course of developing this new relationship.
And I'll be happy to take your questions.
Q: Could you tell us what areas you're talking about in military cooperation, aside from cutting nuclear weapons and withdrawing jointly from the treaty?
Sr. Defense Official: There are a number of areas, I think, that we can continue to explore as areas of possible cooperation in the missile defense field and outside. There will be continuing discussion of projects that have existed for some time in the area of early warning, and there's a Russian-American observation satellite. Those projects have existed for a while, and we'll be exploring the possibility of new projects also.
Q: Also, is there a chance he will meet with Putin while he's there? Are you exploring that, or --
Sr. Defense Official: I don't know.
Q: What specifically do you hope to accomplish with regard to progress on the question of the ABM Treaty?
And are you interested in getting the Russians to agree that the test program, which you've (apparently ?) briefed them on, is not in any way a violation of the treaty?
Sr. Defense Official: The points that have been made about the treaty are that we cannot go forward with the missile defense program that we've laid out, this research and development and testing and evaluation program, within the constraints of the ABM Treaty. And the effort is not to trim the program or try to stretch the treaty terms to make them fit. It's quite clear that the program is going to require us to move beyond the treaty. And we hope to do it cooperatively with Russia, and we think that it's actually in the best interests of both sides that we do it cooperatively.
Q: But more specifically, what are you trying to accomplish in this meeting on Monday on that topic?
Sr. Defense Official: There will be discussions. I wouldn't -- I wouldn't view this as a meeting that sets a specific objective that you expect to emerge from the meeting. It's part of a dialogue. We're having a series of talks. As you know, there are two major channels that were created by the presidents for the dialogue, one of them the State Department/Foreign Ministry channel, the other the Ministry of Defense/Department of Defense channel. We had the talks here at the Pentagon this week. We have the talks in Moscow between the ministers next week. I think the following week will be talks that the State Department will conduct, and I believe the week after that there will be additional State Department talks. So there's going to be a lot of talking in coming months. And so we don't -- we're not specifying exactly what we expect to happen in each one of these -- at each one of these steps.
Q: Andrei Sitov from TASS, from Russia. A few things. A British newspaper this morning reports that they're quoting an American official that the guidance for withdrawing from the ABM Treaty will be out by the end of this year. I was wondering if you could say anything about that.
Sr. Defense Official: I don't know the report that you're referring to.
Q: Okay. Secondly, does the fact that you have compressed the program in Moscow signify that there is less expectation of a successful outcome?
Sr. Defense Official: No, I think it was just a scheduling matter, and everybody was happy that we were able to move things around so that we could do the discussions that are required in an efficient fashion.
Q: And last by not least, you want to do something. I don't want you to do it. "You say this is the deal. You take it or leave it. I will not change my position in any way, whether you like it or not." How is that different from an ultimatum rather than a consultation?
Sr. Defense Official: Well, I wouldn't characterize the dialogue that we're having in the way that you just described it.
Q: No, but --
Sr. Defense Official: There's no -- nobody's issuing ultimata to anybody.
Q: How is it different from an ultimatum? Is this an accurate presentation of the American position, the way I described it?
Sr. Defense Official: No.
Q: No? Well, how -- what is the -- where am I wrong?
Sr. Defense Official: We have -- I -- in my view, it's not even close to what we're talking about. (Laughs.)
Q: I have a two-part question . First, on offensive weapons, which is linked in some way to negotiations on missile defense. The nuclear posture review is not done yet. Won't be done for some time. How can you really be discussing how that fits into this new framework until the American side finishes the review?
Sr. Defense Official: We have lots of reviews underway on different aspects of our military policies and programs, and we have to have -- we will be presenting as much information as we have at a given time. And we'll be developing our thinking on our offensive forces, on our defensive program. And part of what we're doing in this dialogue is we're trying to create as much openness as possible in our conversations with Russia, and as we develop our thinking, we'll be bringing it to them and presenting it to them, and there'll be continuing development of the thinking on offensive forces, defensive forces and, you know, all these agenda items that I mentioned, cooperative programs and the like. It's -- we're not -- we're not rushing to get any particular thing done, you know, by a specific date. As the thinking unfolds, it'll become part of the dialogue.
Q: Well, part two of that question, if I could: Senior Defense officials have testified quite eloquently on Capitol Hill why the ABM Treaty is no longer in American national interest. The secretary of Defense and his deputy, Mr. Wolfowitz, have said it's a relic. The president has, in as many words, said the ABM Treaty is dead in his eyes. You're reaching out your hand to Russia for cooperation, but the administration has said at some point, within the legal rules of the treaty, this nation will withdraw.
So what is on the table to Russia? Why are you going? What can you negotiate?
Sr. Defense Official: There are various ways to think about strategic stability, and there are some ways that were the predominate modes of thought of the Cold War, but there are other ways and better ways, and more hopeful ways, in our view, than those Cold-War constructs. And that is an important part of what we're doing in this dialogue with Russia, is we're exploring better ways to think about strategic stability, ways that are more appropriate for this era, ways that address what we consider to be the most serious threats to our interests and to Russian interests. And as we've explained, we don't consider Russia our enemy, and we're developing our policies with that in mind. And so I think there are lots of things that one can talk about fruitfully in this area, even though it requires us -- or particularly because it requires us to move beyond Cold War thinking.
Q: President Putin has called for reductions in nuclear weapons to 1,500 warheads or below. Is that a level that the United States feels is possible to reach in terms of cuts to its own arsenal? And also, is the U.S. position still to make unilateral cuts, or is it looking to have some sort of a negotiated, you know, reduction in nuclear arsenals with the Russians?
Sr. Defense Official: I can't comment on specific force levels. Our work -- our review of the issue of offensive force levels is still ongoing.
On your question about negotiations, as Dr. Rice, the national security adviser, has said, we are not in negotiations with Russia, we are in consultations with them; we're discussing these topics. We are not seeking a Cold War style arms control negotiation or treaty in these talks, we're looking to put the whole relationship on a basis that reflects today's realities, and one of the key elements of which is that we're not in the Cold War anymore and we are not enemies anymore.
Q: So does that mean that you'll be discussing unilateral cuts? And also, if what you say is true, what happens to like the START II treaty? Is that out the window?
Sr. Defense Official: We're going to be discussing the issue of offensive force reductions, we're going to be reviewing the existing agreements, and -- I mean, all of those issues are on the table and they're all subjects of discussion. So we're in the process of discussing that with Russia.
Q: Does the United States plan -- oh, sorry.
Sr. Defense Official: This lady here.
Q: The Russians yesterday said they didn't hear any concrete suggestions for the ABM Treaty or a variation of it. Do you have any for the future?
Sr. Defense Official: Well, I'm not going to get into -- as I said at the beginning, the talks were confidential, and I'm not going to get into exactly what was said in those consultations. But there was -- I will say that we provided -- in the talks this week, we provided a general review of the concept of strategic stability for the future as we see it. We provided a substantial briefing on our missile defense program, a briefing on threats, a briefing on our offensive force reductions. We went out of our way to make sure that our briefings were translated into Russia. We presented voluminous written materials to the Russian side. And I think they went away with a lot of information, they posed lots of questions, and in fact complimented us for the forthrightness of the answers.
General Kadish, the director of our Ballistic Missile Defense Office, provided the briefing on our missile defense program, and he did that on the first day of our two-day talks here. There were so many questions, we asked him to come back for the second day, which he did. There were no questions that he did not respond to.
So I don't know exactly what might be claimed by some people about the talks, but the talks were quite rich in information, and we provided a lot. And I think that the Russian side, as I said, got important information and was able to get lots of questions answered. So we're quite confident that anybody who really, you know, understood what was going on there would see that it was a serious exchange.
Q: A little more mundane matter. Are they going to be discussing the U.S.-Russia cooperation in the Balkans at any time during this?
Sr. Defense Official: The ministers -- the secretary of defense and the minister of defense are obviously free to discuss whatever they see fit to discuss. As I said, what I would -- what I can at this point anticipate will be discussed will be the items that I mentioned.
Q: Is Russia's nuclear assistance to Iran going to play into the talks at all, and offensive reduction?
Sr. Defense Official: I can't go into more detail on what's going to enter into the talks than basically the topic headings that I gave here. But as I said, I mean, when the ministers get together, I would not presume to say what they're going to discuss or not going to discuss. It's up to them.
Q: Without going into detail, could you tell us whether technology sharing with respect to NMD is something that will be discussed?
Sr. Defense Official: What will be discussed will be possible areas of cooperation in the area of missile defense.
Q: Is technology sharing one of those areas of cooperation?
Sr. Defense Official: I don't think I want to get more detailed than that.
Q: A question on how the different tracks, the State Department and Defense Department track, are handling it.
It's interesting, because arms control used to be the province of the State Department and ministries, and you want to get away from that and seem to deal with it on a mil-to-mil level. Will the State Department on their track be overlapping with you on these subjects, or is this pretty much a Pentagon thing?
Sr. Defense Official: I think it's inevitable that there will be a fair amount of overlap, because, as I said, what we're talking about fundamentally is a relationship, and when you have a normal and healthy relationship, the elements interrelate. And so the quality of political relations, economic relations and commercial relations have strategic significance. They're part of the issue of strategic stability.
And there was a certain -- there were certain special problems that arose from the Cold War relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union that led people to approach aspects of the relationship in very distinct channels. And part of what we're saying now is that is not required anymore, and what we're looking at is the broader relationship, which means we wind up talking about -- in the context of security and stability, we wind up talking about issues in the relationship that do overlap with the kinds of things that the State Department will be discussing with the Russians. And that's fine.
Q: Putin on a couple of occasions has sort of referred to the possibility of Russia sometime in the future joining NATO, and Rice also has sort of indicated that that's not an impossibility. Is that something that's on the table?
Sr. Defense Official: I can't say specifically that it's on the table, but as I said, we're going into this, you know, open to discussing matters broadly. So I'm not in a position to rule anything in or out.
Q: Sir, can you give us a sense -- I apologize if you already addressed this earlier in your remarks, but can you give us a sense of how prepared you feel the Russians are to be receptive to U.S. overtures to further curb conventional arms trading by the Russians as a part of the overall discussion framework of our relationship with them, involving missile defense and nuclear force reduction? That seems to be in this post-Cold War environment that you continue to refer to a growing problem that the Russians need to address.
Sr. Defense Official: There are -- there are -- in the relationship, there are issues that are issues where we have common approaches, there are issues that -- where we have differing approaches. I don't want to get into a discussion now of specific areas of difference. But one of the key points is that one -- in a normal relationship with a country with whom one's not hostile, you can deal with differences in -- you know, in a fairly open and sometimes even cooperative fashion. You -- each side might retain its position, but there's a way to deal with these issues that don't -- don't create -- there are ways to deal with it that don't create major instability. And so we're going to -- what we're interested in doing is establishing that we can deal with all kinds of issues, some of them in common, some of them where we debate, but you're not running the risk of the kinds of dangers that you ran during the Cold War, when the United States and the Soviet Union disagreed about important subjects.
Q: Do you expect a debate on this issue on this particular trip?
Sr. Defense Official: As I said, I want to stay away from commenting on how we're going to deal with very particular issues.
Q: As I understand it, President Putin, didn't he sign an order this week putting specific curbs or perhaps expanded curbs on the transfer of certain technology and weapons to other countries? And are you anxious to get a briefing on that and hear about that?
Sr. Defense Official: I'm not familiar with the particular thing you're referring to. Sorry.
Q: I want to probe you a little bit more on this possible area of cooperation in arms -- in missile defense. Last year, you may remember, Mr. Putin offered a proposal somewhat amorphous about boost- phase defense to the Clinton administration that came into this building and disappeared. Does that proposal at all have a shelf life where you can use that as a basis for potential boost-phase cooperation?
Sr. Defense Official: I'm not going to comment on particulars at this point. It's just not -- we're not ready to make comments on particular proposals.
Q: Do you expect any kind of formal --
Q: On national versus theatre missile defense, (even any ?) tactical missile defense versus national, or is there an approach for theater you're going to be taking this trip versus national --
Sr. Defense Official: As I said, I don't want to get into the particulars.
Q: Do you expect any kind of formal agreement out of this meeting of any type, on cooperation or -- do you hope for any kind of --
Sr. Defense Official: No, I do not anticipate coming out of this meeting with an agreement. This is a consultation.
Q: General Nance described the testing program for the next fiscal year. Can you tell us now that this program is not possible within the constraints of the ABM Treaty?
Sr. Defense Official: I would refer you to the very skillful testimony of my colleague, Paul Wolfowitz. The deputy secretary has testified at great length before the Congress and has addressed that question, which was posed to him probably a dozen different ways. So there's a rich -- there's a rich record in answer to that question.
Q: That was before General Nance's briefing.
Adm. Quigley: One more, please.
Q: Can the reduction in the length of the trip be seen at all as a reflection of the Russians' disappointment in your lack of responsiveness on the question on offensive reductions in talks this week? I was led to believe that there was some sentiment from the Russians that there really won't be that much to talk about in Moscow if you-all weren't prepared to go a lot farther than you were here on the offensive question.
Sr. Defense Official: That's not my understanding. There's going to be hours and hours of consultation in Moscow, and we've just, as I said, organized it in a way that we're going to be going from morning till night. And that wouldn't be my understanding at all.
Controversy swirling around U.S. Enrichment Corp. contract talks and Russian uranium has spread to the company's bid to recycle about 14 billion pounds of hazardous waste at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant.
On Monday, the Department of Energy announced that a consortium including USEC was one of three finalists for cleaning up about 57,000 cylinders of depleted uranium hexafluoride (UF6) at Paducah and closed enrichment plants in Ohio and Tennessee. DOE, which owns the USEC-run Paducah plant, expects to name a winner in late October.
American Conversion Services, composed of USEC and cleanup firm CH2M Hill, made the short list despite not being initially recommended by an Energy Department board that reviewed five bids, according to the Friday edition of The Energy Daily, a nuclear industry trade publication.
"Sources suggest various political factors involving USEC may be responsible for its late addition to the list of finalists," the article said." One rumor is that DOE wants to give USEC some other work to compensate for a possible Bush administration decision to name another executive agent to serve with USEC in implementing a U.S.-Russian nonproliferation agreement calling for U.S. purchases of high-enriched uranium derived from Russian nuclear warheads."
Contract talks with the Paducah plant's main labor union broke off Wednesday after USEC refused to withdraw the Russian uranium issue from bargaining.
USEC wants a proposed new five-year contract to expire after a year if the company fails to meet any of three goals regarding the Russian material. In voting last week, the union soundly defeated the offer, and has since accused USEC of using labor tactics to try to force a Bush administration decision.
In response to The Energy Daily story, USEC spokeswoman Elizabeth Stuckle said the company was fairly picked as a finalist for the cylinder work.
"DOE has very detailed and established processes for selection of finalists," she said. "We are confident that they adhered to these policies. We are working very diligently preparing for our upcoming oral discussions with DOE."
Energy Department spokesman Walter Perry said the board recommended three finalists, including the USEC consortium, whose names were published on a DOE Web site Monday. The selections, based on "competitive range," were approved by James Owendoff, DOE's principal deputy assistant secretary for environmental management, he said.
Stuckle said each finalist will meet separately with Energy Department officials during the next few weeks. After that, bidders can amend their proposals before a winner is picked, Stuckle said.
USEC, which has battled financial trouble since it was privatized in 1998, wants to remain sole agent for the $8 billion in Russian uranium to control its flow into the United States and hold down overall costs. The company says blending the cheaper Russian material with the higher-cost uranium enriched by the Paducah plant helps preserve jobs.
However, some industry analysts say having a second agent would spur competition and benefit consumers by lowering the prices charged to U.S. nuclear power plants that use enriched uranium. The Bush administration is considering that and other issues in its review.
The winning bidder for the cleanup work will build facilities at Paducah and its closed sister plant in Ohio to convert spent UF6 into a safer material.
Construction is scheduled to start by Jan. 31, 2004. Some past estimates have shown each plant would employ 100 to 200 people, depending on the level of government involvement. return to menu
2. McConnell Upbeat about U.S. Uranium Enrichment
August 10, 2001
(for personal use only)
The future of the uranium enrichment industry in the United States is being debated at the highest levels of government, and a decision should be made by the end of September, according to U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell.
President Bush's top cabinet members - Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice - are debating the pros and cons of the domestic production of nuclear fuel, Kentucky's senior senator said.
McConnell said he hasn't been involved in the discussion, but he speculated the decision will be to continue to support the industry because 22 percent of the nation's electricity is produced with nuclear fuel, and because of the importance of having nuclear weapons-producing capability.
"Once that decision is made, they'll take a look at the issue of the Russian uranium," he said in reference to the debate over who should be the agent for reprocessing and selling fuel that was once used in Russia's nuclear weapons.
The issues are important to Paducah, site of the nation's only plant to enrich uranium for use as nuclear fuel. The plant is owned by the U.S. Department of Energy and run by the U.S. Enrichment Corp. About 1,500 people work at the plant.
Without a domestic production facility, the United States would be dependent on other countries for nuclear fuel. McConnell said he doesn't think that is a wise idea.
The White House debate also should include discussion of options on how to keep the industry viable, such as development and implementation of new enrichment technologies, McConnell said.
The United States has a contract to buy $8 billion worth of uranium from Russia that was once used in 25,000 nuclear weapons. USEC currently holds an exclusive contract to process the Russian uranium and sell it as fuel for nuclear power generating plants.
However, the contract expires at the end of the year and the Bush administration is debating whether to renew the contract or add a second agent.
USEC says it is important it remains the sole agent in order to stay competitive in the world enrichment market. USEC also wants Russia to reduce its prices for the uranium.
McConnell would not express his view on whether the deal with USEC should be continued. "I have decided that before I pick sides, I want to hear the results of the internal review by the Bush administration," he said.
Union workers at the USEC plant soundly rejected a new contract offer because it was tied to the future of the Russian uranium deal. Union leaders say they wouldn't agree to that because it was an issue they do not control.
McConnell said he wouldn't take sides in the contract issue: "I'm not going to offer advice to either side on how to negotiate a contract."
A decision on the Russian uranium issue should be made be the end of the year, prior to the expiration of the contract with USEC, he said. return to menu
3. PACE Negotiations Discontinue for Now
August 10, 2001
(for personal use only)
With contract negotiations broken off, union officials have accused the U.S. Enrichment Corp. of using labor tactics to try to force federal action aiding the company's purchase of Russian uranium.
The company says the Russian issue should have been resolved before contract talks began and it has tried hard to appease the major union at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant.
USEC wants a proposed five-year contract with the union to expire after a year if goals regarding the uranium are not met. The objectives heavily depend on whether the Bush administration allows USEC to remain sole agent for the uranium and get lower prices.
Opposing the contract language and considering wage-benefit provisions substandard, the union voted overwhelmingly against the offer Aug. 2.
When talks resumed Wednesday, the union offered to renegotiate wages and benefits after a year if the Russian deal dictated, said David Fuller, president of Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical and Energy Workers Local 5-550.
"They had absolutely no interest in that," he said of USEC officials. "Based on that, in my judgment, they're wanting to foment a crisis at Paducah in hopes of leveraging a decision in Washington. I think that's short-sighted, ill-advised and if I were a legislator from this area, I'd take exception to it."
USEC spokeswoman Elizabeth Stuckle said the firm reached an agreement with Russia in May 2000 for better prices, but federal approval has not yet come.
"USEC has done everything in its power to try and expedite approval of the Russian deal," she said. "We have sought to obtain the support of business leaders, labor leaders and politicians to expedite approval of this deal that is so vitally important to the Paducah community.
"It was never USEC's intention to see this matter delayed to the point where it of necessity becomes an issue in our relationship with our bargaining unit employees."
The union represents about 700 of 1,500 workers at the plant, which enriches uranium for use in nuclear fuel. Fuller said members have no plans to strike, but could do so with a day's notice to the company. Their old contract expired July 31.
No new talks were set after bargainers left the table about 10 p.m. Wednesday, ending about 12 hours of meetings and deliberations. Fuller said there was some discussion about resuming bargaining next week, but nothing was finalized.
However, Stuckle said discussions were expected to resume the week of Aug. 20 because a union negotiator is unavailable next week.
USEC says that for a new contract to last longer than a year, it must accomplish three goals: remain sole agent for buying $8 billion in enriched uranium taken from dismantled Russian nuclear warheads; obtain a revised Russian contract for better prices; and get federal approval to buy commercial uranium from Russia.
USEC Senior Vice President Philip Sewell said earlier that Russian uranium is priced below the plant's enrichment costs. The goals are essential for USEC to control the flow of uranium into the United States, hold down expenses by "blending" the costs of Russian and Paducah material, and thus help preserve the plant, he said.
Some nuclear industry experts say having a second agent for the Russian uranium would spur competition and lower prices for U.S. nuclear plants that buy material from USEC.
The Bush administration is reviewing the matter as part of a broader look at the U.S. role in nuclear energy. USEC wants decisions before Jan. 1, when its contract with Russia expires.
The energy workers union has tried and failed to get USEC to promise to run the plant at specified production levels in return for support of the Russian deal, Fuller said.
"Without those enforceable guarantees and commitments, we will assume that a letter and a handshake means exactly the same thing as it did for Portsmouth," he said.
USEC closed its plant near Portsmouth, Ohio, in June, leaving Paducah as the only facility in the nation that enriches uranium.
But Stuckle painted a different picture. When it became apparent the Russian deal would not be approved before contract talks began, USEC tried to get the union to agree to a short contract extension to provide time for approval, she said.
"It was USEC's position that if the previous contract were extended, any increased benefits that would be finally negotiated would be retroactive to July 31," she said.
Stuckle said USEC has offered in writing to include contract language guaranteeing minimum plant production "as long as the Russian deal is in force or until a new technology enrichment plant is in operation several years from now."
She said USEC still wants "an amicable way" to resolve the contract issue pending a Russian decision, and is acting in the best interests of the community and all plant employees. return to menu
C. Russia - U.K. Relations
1. Russians Blame Sea Pollution on Sellafield
August 9, 2001
(for personal use only)
The Russian authorities yesterday blamed Britain's Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant for the worst radioactive pollution in the Arctic and the Barents Sea where the Kursk, the Russian nuclear-powered submarine, sank a year ago.
Launching a campaign to win over public opinion in the west in the run-up to the ambitious operation to lift the Kursk next month, a Kremlin-sponsored website reported that Russian researchers had proved that the British Nuclear Fuels plant in Cumbria was by far the biggest source of radioactive contamination of the northern seas.
Russian experts at meteorological agencies and a St Petersburg research institute had "evidence that the main source of pollution in the North and Norwegian seas comes from a British nuclear waste recycling enterprise in Sellafield", the Kursk141 website, launched by the Russian government yesterday, reported.
Research by the St Petersburg institute "has helped to disperse the myth about the Russian origin of most of the radioactive pollution in the European Arctic seas", the website says. "The scientists have established that the 'British track' [radioactive signature] can be found in at least half of the radioactive plutonium sediment at the bottom of the Barents and Norwegian seas. The liquid radioactive wasteflow that comes from the Sellafield plant is one of the main sources of plutonium of these sea beds."
The launch of the English-language website in London is part of a propaganda offensive in anticipation of any pollution risk from the Kursk, which sank last year after two explosions during an exercise.
Most of the contamination was discharged in the 1950s when Sellafield was known as Windscale, and currents had gradually shifted the toxins to the Arctic, the website added.
The Foreign Office last night said it had not received any representations from Moscow.
Ireland and Norway have repeatedly complained to Britain about radioactive discharges from Sellafield. return to menu
D. Russia - North Korea Relations
1. N. Korean Leader Tours Russian Nuclear Center
August 11, 2001
(for personal use only)
The North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il, has visited a Russian nuclear research centre in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk.
The visit to the Budker Nuclear Physics Institute was closed to journalists and marked by the heavy security which has surrounded the whole of Mr Kim's tour of Russia.
Mr Kim made the visit on his way back to North Korea across Russia in an armoured train.
Last week, Russia and North Korea signed a joint declaration stating that Pyongyang's missile programme was not a threat to anyone - as long as North Korean sovereignty was respected. return to menu
E. Statements, Speeches, Testimony
1. New Director Selected to Head Defense Threat Reduction Agency
U.S. Department of Defense
August 9, 2001
(for personal use only)
Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld announced today that Stephen M. Younger has been selected as the director of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. He will begin his duties on Sept. 1, 2001.
Younger is presently the associate laboratory director for nuclear weapons at Los Alamos Laboratory, Los Alamos, N.M. Previously he served as the program director for nuclear weapons technology, a position that carried primary responsibility for the laboratory's nuclear weapons Stockpile Stewardship Program.
Younger began his career at the National Bureau of Standards in Washington, D.C., where he worked on various topics in theoretical atomic physics. In 1982 he joined the Nuclear Design Department of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, Calif. At Livermore he specialized in advanced nuclear weapons design and led design groups for the nuclear-driven x-ray laser and other nuclear explosive concepts. He moved to Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1989 and led programs in inertial confinement fusion and aboveground experiments.
Younger holds a bachelor of arts in physics from Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., and a master of science and doctorate degree in theoretical physics from the University of Maryland. The Defense Threat Reduction Agency is a Department of Defense combat support agency located at Fort Belvoir, Va.; it operates field offices worldwide.
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