WASHINGTON -- Already three years on the drawing board, a U.S.-Russian center aimed at avoiding accidental missile launches won't open for at least another year, a Pentagon official said Wednesday.
Plans to convert a building on the outskirts of Moscow into a joint early warning center are hung up on Russia's insistence the United States pay taxes on the equipment it takes into the country and accept liability for the construction, said Philip Jamison, deputy director of the Defense Department office on international security.
"It essentially boils down to diplomatic issues," he told a seminar at the Cato Institute. Jamison said the center could be open for testing at the end of 2002 if those matters can be resolved within the next two months.
Though the issues seem small in relation to the hoped-for benefits of the center -- that is, to prevent accidental nuclear catastrophe -- U.S. officials have said they don't want to set a precedent on taxes and other matters that could create problems elsewhere.
When plans for the center were announced in September 1998, then-President Clinton said it was aimed at averting "nuclear war by mistake." Officials said that because Russia doesn't have money to properly maintain its warning system, it could mistakenly think the United States had launched a nuclear missile -- and retaliate.
In 1995, Russia's military briefly mistook a scientific rocket from Norway for a U.S. intercontinental ballistic missile. Officials say Moscow's constellation of warning satellites has seriously decayed since then, with some out of orbit and believed not functioning.
The new center is to be staffed jointly by three dozen U.S. and Russian officers. The system planned at the center would collect information from the warning systems of each country and share it, reporting such things as time and location of any missile launches, the missile type, direction it was heading and place it would hit.
The center was to open months ago. Besides the tax and liability problems, the project lost momentum late last year as Clinton was leaving office and early this year as President Bush was just coming in and reviewing U.S. policy toward Moscow.
Another panelist, Geoffrey E. Forden of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, argued the center won't work anyway because Russian officers won't have confidence in it. In times of tensions between the two countries, Forden said, Moscow will not rely on information received from the United States.
Washington should help Russia repair its own warning system instead, he said.
The United States and Russia have been holding talks focused on the Bush administration's intention to build a missile defense system.
Russia accepts the inevitability of a U.S. system even as it objects to violations of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, a senior U.S. official said Wednesday.
In fact, Russia appears willing to accept limited defenses as part of an agreement that also would cut U.S. and Russian arsenals of long-range nuclear weapons, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The third panelist, Hank Cooper of the private missile defense research group High Frontier, suggested Washington could win concessions on the system it wants by helping Russian with its warning system.
"I wouldn't just go off and buy them a warning system," Cooper said. "Our demand ought to be that we do it in the context of a global defense ... in the context of building a system that we want." return to menu
2. Will We Ever Get Russia Right?
August 31, 2001
(for personal use only)
The Bush administration came into office vowing to put the U.S. relationship with Russia back on track. This meant progress in key areas where the Clinton team had dropped the ball: strategic arms and missile defenses, support for Russian reforms instead of coddling Yeltsin and his oligarchs, and pulling no punches on Russian atrocities in Chechnya and press freedom. Yet its actual policy seems to be falling into the predictable pattern established by Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton -- a close personal relationship with the Russian leader, lip service to Russian reform and an all-out push to get Russia to accept U.S. terms on the burning issue of the day, with little regard for the long run.
Russia is neither a friend, nor a foe. It is so big and so nuclear that it cannot be ignored, yet so weak that it cannot stand up to the United States short of brandishing its nuclear missiles. It has confounded three U.S. presidents -- Clinton and both Bushes -- with the choice between the right cause and a flawed Russian leader. Their choice -- always favoring the man over the cause -- has left growing numbers of Russians and Americans suspicious of one another and feeling that the relationship is in danger of being broken beyond repair.
Vladimir Putin's record at home and abroad has been mixed at best. To his people he has delivered stability, but at a price. The new regime quickly reined in all potential sources of opposition. It has waged a ruthless campaign in Chechnya with no regard for civilian casualties. Abroad, Putin has made it his specialty to curry favor with rogues and dictators -- Saddam, Milosevic, Castro.
The response from the White House has been curious. It has punted on issues such as press freedom and the war in Chechnya, and chosen to curry favor with Putin. U.S. influence over Russian behavior is, of course, limited, but it is disappointing to watch how missile defense is displacing all other issues from the U.S.-Russian agenda.
This has a familiar ring to it. During his term in office, President George H. W. Bush embraced Gorbachev and ignored pro-democracy leaders and their causes. Boris Yeltsin -- then the leader of Russia's pro-democracy movement -- was treated by the Bush team as a nuisance. His domestic popularity undermined White House favorite Gorbachev.
Unwavering U.S. support for German unity, for Eastern Europe's "velvet revolutions" and for democratic, peaceful change is what we remember as the hallmark of U.S. policy during that romantic period. But there were other chapters in the saga -- for example, the first Bush administration clinging to Gorbachev despite his alliance with the reactionaries in a hopeless bid to keep the Soviet Union intact. The low point came when, on a visit to Kiev, President Bush lectured independence-bound Ukraine about the dangers of nationalism.
To be sure, keeping Gorbachev's Soviet Union together made sense in 1991. Gorbachev delivered -- on arms control, on getting his troops out of Europe, on the Middle East. t was easy for U.S. leaders to ignore his failings: the fact that he owed his presidency to clever manipulation of fellow Politburo members rather than a bona fide victory at the polls; that his domestic reforms were going nowhere; and that the country was teetering on the brink of starvation. But the narrow focus on Gorbachev obscured the truth that the people of Russia, Ukraine and Latvia had had enough of Gorbachev as their president and of the Soviet Union as their country. They were ready to move on, even though the U.S. administration was not.
Clinton's dealings with Russia and Yeltsin followed the same pattern. After the first U.S.-Russian summit in Vancouver in March 1993, America's embrace of Russian reform became Bill Clinton's embrace of Boris Yeltsin. And Yeltsin delivered -- more troop withdrawals from Europe, missile and warhead dismantling, NATO enlargement and Kosovo.
That again made it easy for the Clinton administration to overlook the crony capitalism in Russia; to compare the war in Chechnya to the Civil War in the United States; and to support pumping billions of dollars into the Russian economy as it careened out of control in the summer of 1998.
The same get-rich-quick approach to diplomacy is responsible for the Clinton administration's embrace of Putin. What else can explain then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's thumbs-up assessment of Putin in January 2000 -- as Russian guns rained death on Grozny?
Now a new Bush administration wants to "end" the Cold War for the third time in 10 years. The administration may well get a deal on missile defense and the ABM Treaty by the time Putin and Bush meet in Crawford, Tex., in November. But the kind of partnership the administration maintains it wants with Russia cannot rest solely on agreements about missile defenses. It needs to rest on shared values, which no amount of presidential camaraderie can replace.
The writer is a senior fellow at the National Defense University's Institute for National Strategic Studies. The views here are his own. return to menu
B. Russia - NATO Relations
1. Putin Slams NATO on Finnish Visit
St. Petersburg Times
September 4, 2001
(for personal use only)
HELSINKI - President Vladimir Putin lashed out Monday at plans to expand NATO eastwards and said only a "sick mind" could believe Moscow poses an aggressive threat to European security.
"I underline that we don't see any objective reason for the Baltic states to become members of NATO," Putin, on his first state visit to Finland, told a news conference with Finnish counterpart Tarja Halonen.
"We are not happy about this. We think it is a mistake," he stressed.
Putin said that expanding the Western alliance would not solve a single problem in Europe's current security environment.
"Only in a sick imagination could one think that some aggressive elements could ... emerge from Russia," he said.
Putin's remarks came on the second day of his two-day visit to non-aligned Finland, which is not seeking to join NATO, but insists the door to the Western alliance must remain open and that states have the right to decide whether to join.
The former Soviet Baltic republics, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, all hope to join the transatlantic alliance but Russia vehemently opposes enlargement of NATO to its doorstep and into the area of the former Soviet Union.
Halonen said she believed the Baltic states would eventually become full members of NATO.
Putin praised Finland's example to its Baltic neighbors. "Finland has in a magnificent way shown the benefits of neutrality over the decades," he said.
Finland is the only European Union member bordering Russia.
Earlier in the day, a handful of demonstrators held placards outside the Presidential Palace demanding "Russia out of Finland" and "Return our territory."
They referred to the area of Karelia, a part of pre-war Finland, annexed by the Soviet Union at the end of World War II.
No major bilateral agreement was signed Monday, partly because a key investment treaty was not yet ready.
Putin also held talks with Finnish Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen and Finnish business leaders Monday.
Putin and his wife, Lyudmila, arrived at Turku Airport, 160 kilometers west of Helsinki, on Sunday and were whisked off to Kultaranta - President Halonen's summer residence - for talks.
Putin's visit is mainly a courtesy call at the invitation of Halonen, who visited Moscow in June 2000, a few months after she became president.
However, Putin highlighted the changed relationship between Russia and Finland on Monday by placing a wreath at the tomb of Carl Gustaf Mannerheim, the field marshal who led Finland's vastly outnumbered forces against the Red Army from 1939 to 1944.
The Finns, remembered for the Winter War and their white-clad "ghost army" on skis, put up unexpectedly tough resistance.
However, they were finally defeated and were forced to cede 11 percent of their territory - mainly parts of Karelia and a southeastern region near St. Petersburg - from which 400,000 people were evacuated.
But the country was never occupied nor subjugated to communism like most of Eastern Europe. During the Cold War, Helsinki walked a tightrope between the hostile East and West blocs in uneasy friendship with Moscow.
While Finns may no longer fear an attack, they still eye the joint 1,260-kilometer border with some trepidation - concerned primarily about illegal immigration and pollution.
Within the EU, Helsinki has spearheaded a so-called Northern Dimension, aiming to draw northern Russian regions into energy, infrastructure and other projects to bridge the gap in living standards between Russia and the West.
Trade between Finland and Russia has developed in recent years, and Finnish exports are recovering from the collapse caused by Russia's 1998 economic crisis.
Among the main economic issues in Putin's visit were plans for a $3 billion pipeline to pump up to 20 billion cubic meters per year of Russian natural gas under the Baltic Sea to Western Europe.
Sources said that Norilsk Nickel would also sign a deal with Finnish metals firm Outokumpu on building a $130 million to $140 million ore concentrator plant for Norilsk.
Two other agreements were signed, one on health cooperation and one on competition and anti-monopoly policy.
In the health area, Finland is concerned about control of contagious diseases, including AIDS.
But talks on an investment-protection agreement, underway for two years, were not completed in time for the visit, Finnish officials said. Finland says the agreement is overdue, but was not satisfied with a draft Russia drew up last spring.
The draft treaty produced by Russia offered insufficient investor protection, Finnish officials said. The Finns have also said that the draft treaty lacked some of the main principles of the World Trade Organization. In July, Russia asked Finland for support for its bid to join the WTO.
Earlier this week, Putin - a frequent visitor to Finland before becoming president - told Finnish YLE television in Moscow that he had fond memories of the country.
Russia has concluded that a U.S. missile defense system is "inevitable" and will eventually strike a deal to allow the system to proceed, a senior Bush administration official predicted yesterday.
Briefing reporters on the condition of anonymity, the official said President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin could reach at least the outlines of a deal on the missile defense plan when they meet in Texas in November.
Russia has sent conflicting signals recently over whether it is prepared to amend or scrap the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, which forbids the kind of extensive missile defense system Mr. Bush favors. Mr. Bush has said he's prepared to abandon the ABM Treaty, but he would prefer a negotiated deal with Moscow that could include deep cuts in offensive nuclear weapons as well.
"You may not find individual Russians using the word 'inevitable' about missile defense, but that's my impression of the attitude there now," the official said.
Mr. Bush argues that the missile defenses are needed to counter nuclear threats from "rogue states" such as North Korea and Iraq - threats not even contemplated in the Cold War era when the ABM pact was signed.
The Russians "see rogue states around them closer to their borders in most cases than to ours," the U.S. official said. "I do believe that they are prepared at the end of the day to accommodate limited defenses. Now they want to know just how limited it will be."
While consistently opposing a unilateral U.S. withdrawal from the ABM Treaty, Moscow in recent days has toned down its rhetoric. Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov told reporters in Moscow Tuesday that Russia's relations with the United States can survive the missile defense dispute. He also said that Mr. Putin was prepared to discuss the "new strategic framework" Bush administration aides have proposed to replace the ABM Treaty and other Soviet-era arms-control pacts.
"We believe that bilateral relations with any nation must not be held hostage to any one problem, even if it is a very large one," Mr. Ivanov told the Itar-Tass news service.
Top Pentagon and State Department arms experts will be meeting their Russian counterparts over the next two weeks, ahead of a planned meeting of Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and Mr. Ivanov later this month.
The administration official dismissed a recent Russian threat to put multiple warheads on its missiles to ensure the U.S. defensive shield does not overwhelm Russia's arsenal. He noted that Mr. Putin in an interview with a Finnish newspaper earlier this month expressed the view that the limited U.S. defensive plan did not undermine Russia's deterrence capability.
The administration official said one continuing "sore point" in U.S.-Russian relations is the aid being provided by Russian firms to help Iran develop nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, with top Russian researchers being permitted to travel to Iran.
"We think that the Russians need to confront this contradiction in their own policy," the U.S. official said. "On the one hand they say they are against proliferation ...but the continuing pattern of activity can't be unknown to the Russian special services." return to menu
2. No Deal Soon on Missile Defense Plan, Russia Says
September 6, 2001
(for personal use only)
MOSCOW, Sept. 5 -- The Kremlin today ruled out the possibility of reaching a substantive agreement with the United States on missile defense before a planned November summit between President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying it would take a year or more to settle the issue.
Russia views Putin's scheduled visit to Bush's ranch in Texas as an "intermediate stage" that would simply create a framework for actual negotiations on missile defense and strategic arms cuts that would probably last until at least September 2002, according to Oleg Chernov, deputy secretary of Putin's security council and point man on missile defense.
Bush and Putin first agreed to link discussions on offensive and defensive weapons at their July meeting in Genoa, Italy, but the subsequent talks have not yielded as much progress as U.S. officials expected and an early breakthrough appears elusive. Chernov said there was no chance of working out a mutually agreeable deal by November that would free the United States from the restrictions of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty as Bush hopes.
"It's impossible," Chernov said in an interview at security council headquarters not far from the Kremlin. "Even if today, now, we were discussing this [substantively], it's a complex issue." Instead, he suggested, the United States could proceed with only the limited testing and development allowed under the treaty for another year while the two sides talk. "We only propose to postpone it, at least not to make hasty decisions."
The Putin aide's comments left the Bush team taken aback. "I'd be surprised if they really thought we'd sit still for a year," a senior administration official said by telephone from Washington. The United States, he added, would not agree to restrict testing to the stationary anti-missile facilities allowed under the treaty, as Russia suggested. "They'd love that. But that isn't going to happen."
The development underscored the wide gulf between the two sides as they pursue intensive talks on the future of arms control in the post-Cold War era. Bush wants to abandon the ABM Treaty in order to build a defense system that would knock down ballistic missiles launched accidentally or by hostile states such as Iran or North Korea. Russia strongly opposes abrogating the 1972 pact, calling it the foundation of decades of arms control, but is eager for joint arms cuts.
The question of what to do about the treaty has taken on increasing urgency as the United States accelerates plans to test systems banned by the accord. The Bush administration has said its program would violate ABM restrictions within "months, not years" and has awarded a contract to begin work on a testing facility in Alaska next spring. To withdraw from the treaty, the United States must give six months' notice, which would have to come in November to allow the April work in Alaska.
While Bush has disclaimed any deadline for an agreement with Russia, his team has made clear that it hoped something could be unveiled at the November meeting in Crawford, Tex. Bush said recently that the United States plans to "withdraw from the ABM Treaty on our timetable," with or without Russian assent.
But the administration has been trying to reach a consensus with Russia if for no other reason than to quell criticism from congressional Democrats and European allies. A parade of senior U.S. officials made the pilgrimage to Moscow this summer, and two more high-level meetings are scheduled for next week here and in London. After that, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov will meet in Washington on Sept. 19, and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov will get together the following week. Bush and Putin also will meet in October in Shanghai on the periphery of an Asian-Pacific economic summit.
U.S. officials had considered the Powell meeting in two weeks a critical juncture, an "action-forcing event," as one put it, where they expected Igor Ivanov to deliver Russia's formal response on missile defense to move the talks to a new stage. But Chernov said today that no such response was planned for that meeting. Instead, he said, Russia was waiting for Washington to make more specific proposals and to open genuine negotiations instead of just briefings.
"Our readiness for negotiation has not changed," he said. "We would like to start concrete, substantive consultations and not just presentations of our positions. . . . We are waiting for them."
Given the lack of movement in recent weeks, U.S. officials are now moderating expectations. A senior State Department official told reporters in Washington today that the administration hopes to find "the beginning of a compromise" by November. "I think there's a reasonable chance we can make significant progress, at least in sketching out the outlines of a new framework by then," he said.
The official said the U.S. side had detected a "remodulation" of the Russian position suggesting that negotiations over a new strategic framework could continue even if Bush unilaterally withdraws from the ABM Treaty to pursue testing of the missile shield. While predicting that a unilateral U.S. pullout would prompt a "rough patch in relations," the official said, "I don't think it will be a crisis."
Moscow's strategy could be to play for time. Chernov, a former KGB agent who worked as a television correspondent while undercover in Berlin, recently traveled through the United States promoting Russia's point of view and appeared to be hoping that Bush's missile defense plan ultimately would be weighed down by budget concerns and domestic public opinion.
The Russian national security elite remains divided about what to do if Bush insists on scrapping the ABM Treaty. Some officials and analysts argue that Russia should try to wring concessions out of the United States and remain a world player, while more fervent ABM supporters maintain that Moscow should do nothing to make it easier for Washington to throw away a 29-year-old pact.
"If Russia agrees with American proposals now, then we may win something," said Yuri Fyodorov, deputy director of the PIR Center, a Moscow research organization. "We may try to limit to some extent the size and capacity of the future [anti-missile] system. At the same time, if America is not able to deploy it, then we lose nothing. The rational strategy is to discuss and to get as much as we can for our acceptance of this."
Not so, according to Victor Koltunov, a member of the permanent U.S.-Russian consultation committee on ABM issues. "This is exactly the occasion where there is no place for bargaining," he said. "We're trying to show by every way possible that this isn't in the interest of the United States. . . . Trading would be out of place."
Even if Putin decided to deal, veteran officials agreed it could not be done quickly. "Frankly speaking, I have very big doubts that in such a short period of time we can make such dramatic steps," said retired Maj. Gen. Vladimir Belous, author of a new book on missile defense. "They haven't even transferred from the stage of consultations to negotiations."
Russia wants to focus the discussions on nuclear arms cuts, which it needs to reduce the country's financial burden. Putin has proposed that each side slash its arsenal to 1,500 strategic warheads, but the Bush administration is still waiting for a Pentagon nuclear review to be completed in late September or early October.
That timetable explains why the two sides could not come to a serious agreement replacing the ABM Treaty with a new arms control pact by November, Chernov said. Asked how long it would take, he said, "That depends on the will. I think that could be done within the next year or even maybe within a year from now -- I mean from September 2001 to September 2002. I don't necessarily mean 2003."
In the meantime, he said, Bush should hold off withdrawing from the treaty. "The Americans can develop their strategic ABM system within the framework of the existing treaty," he said. "Simultaneously, conducting a more active dialogue with us and with other nuclear states about building a new [arms control] system, this could be the less painful way out of the situation in which President Bush has found himself."
The Russian position conflicts sharply with the U.S. desire to avoid the sort of lengthy negotiations that resulted in 500-page treaties during the Cold War. While U.S. officials have not ruled out a treaty to replace the ABM, they prefer a less involved -- and less constraining -- joint declaration, an idea resisted in Moscow.
"You can say anything in consultations and then not follow it," said retired Maj. Gen. Yuri Lebedev, a former Soviet arms control negotiator. "But a treaty signed by heads of state is a document which the sides must abide by. They cannot just ignore it." return to menu
D. Nuclear Waste
1. Bulgaria Negotiates Spent Fuel Transport to Russia
September 4, 2001
(for personal use only)
Next week the Kozloduy nuclear power plant in Bulgaria will make a decision on transporting their spent nuclear fuel to Mayak for reprocessing. By 2003 the storage pools with spent nuclear fuel at Kozloduy NPP will be filled to capacity if the fuel is not transported away. The only alternative place to transport the spent fuel is to Russia, says the plant's management. Negotiations are under way with Russia, which in the first place manufactured both the Bulgarian reactors and its nuclear fuel.
"The Russians have offered us very attractive terms of spent fuel storage and processing. We believe it should go where it came from in the first place - Russia," says the plant's executive director Yordan Yordanov in an interview with the Bulgarian news agency BTA.
He wants to ship the entire amount of spent nuclear fuel generated at the plant to Russia. "The storage pools are becoming a major cause for concern. Unless it is solved by 2003, we will have to shut down the nuclear power plant," Yordanov said.
The challenge for the plant's management is to find funding for the transportation to Russia for reprocessing. Therefore, a plan to export electricity to other countries is made. The proceeds from export of a mere 1,000 kWh of electricity can cover the costs. At present the Kozloduy NPP utilizes less than 60 percent of its capacity. If it operates its reactors at full capacity, and sell part of the electricity abroad, the extra income will cover the costs to get rid of the spent nuclear fuel.
A decision on this will be made at a September 12 meeting of the consultative council. The Kozloduy NPP operates six reactors of the Soviet designed VVER-440 type. The Russian environmental group Ecodefense has for years opposed the planned shipping of spent nuclear fuel from Bulgaria to the reprocessing plant in Mayak in the South-Ural. return to menu
DISCLAIMER: Nuclear News is presented for informational purposes only. Views presented in any given article are those of the individual author or source and not of RANSAC. RANSAC takes no responsibility for the technical accuracy of information contained in any article presented in Nuclear News.