MOSCOW -- The terrorist attacks on the United States have moved the struggle against nuclear weapons proliferation to the top of the U.S.-Russian agenda, a top American diplomat said Monday.
Undersecretary of State John Bolton also said that the attacks made a strong argument for the United States to continue pursuing a missile shield.
"It shows that the United States faces severe threats from terrorism and rogue states and one of the things we have to continue to work on is missile defense," Bolton said after meetings with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and Deputy Foreign Minister Georgy Mamedov.
Both Bolton and Ivanov stressed the need for cooperation in facing down terrorists. "The firmer the solidarity, the more effective our counteraction to international terrorism," Ivanov said, according to the ITAR-Tass news agency.
At a news conference after his meetings, Bolton suggested the direction the United States wants Russia's cooperation against terrorism to take, speaking of the "opportunity for us jointly to make progress on the proliferation front."
The United States has pressured Russia to stop what it says is the leakage of nuclear technologies and expertise to Iran and other nations it calls rogues or sponsors of terrorism.
Bolton made no direct mention of the alleged leaks, but he suggested that -- in Washington's view, at least -- fighting weapons proliferation had supplanted U.S. plans to build a missile shield as the main issue dominating the bilateral relationship.
Bolton said that "there has never been more attention to the dangers that terrorists -- especially those who might have access to weapons of mass destruction -- pose."
"I don't think anyone doubts at the moment that it is now at the highest priority," he added.
Moscow contends it has provided Iran and other nations only with peaceful nuclear technologies, but U.S. officials have accused it of aiding their weapons programs. The security of Russia's nuclear, biological and chemical weapons stockpiles has also been questioned.
Bolton's meetings were part of a series of consultations in advance of a meeting in Washington on Wednesday between Ivanov and Secretary of State Colin Powell. In addition to continuing discussion of the U.S. missile defense plans, mutual strategic arms cuts and nonproliferation efforts, Bolton addressed the broad steps Washington and Moscow were contemplating to respond to international terrorism.
He said he had no "operational requests" to make of Moscow, and that the Russian government had not "ruled anything in or out." He and Russian diplomats did discuss the political and humanitarian impact of any strike against terrorists on the former Soviet republics in Central Asia -- an area that Moscow considers its backyard.
Bolton said Russian officials appeared to accept the U.S. intention to test and deploy a missile defense shield despite Moscow's objections. To back up his argument, he noted that Russian negotiators were no longer warning that U.S. withdrawal from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty would prompt others to abandon the system of arms control treaties.
For the past several months, U.S. officials have been engaged in a full-court push to chip away at Moscow's resistance to a U.S. missile shield, which would violate the ABM treaty. They have been hoping for some agreement before President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet in Texas in November. return to menu
B. National Missile Defense
1. U.S. to Pursue Withdrawal from ABM Pact
Susan B. Glasser
September 17, 2001
(for personal use only)
MOSCOW, Sept. 16 -- The Bush administration will inform Russia Monday that it is prepared to press ahead with a unilateral withdrawal from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty to build a missile defense system, according to a senior administration official.
Seeking to put to rest questions about whether President Bush will still make missile defense a priority after last week's terrorist attacks in the United States, the administration plans to tell Russian in talks Monday that, "if anything, the likelihood of unilateral withdrawal has increased" as a result of the attacks at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, said the U.S. official.
"Missile defense will not fade as a priority of the administration. These incidents prove that there are people in the world for whom the concept of deterrence doesn't mean a thing," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "This was high-tech terrorism; these people had jet plane pilots. And if these same people had access to ballistic missiles, do you think they wouldn't have used them?"
Undersecretary of State John Bolton arrived in Moscow today for the talks, which were to be held in London last week but were postponed after the attacks. He is to meet with Deputy Foreign Minister Georgy Mamedov Monday, and sources said the two would also likely discuss potential Russian cooperation with U.S.-led retaliatory strikes following the attacks.
In recent weeks, top Russian officials have signaled a newfound willingness to accept U.S. withdrawal from the ABM Treaty, a move they previously said would be tantamount to unraveling "the entire framework of international security."
Indeed, just minutes before the planes crashed into the World Trade Center last Tuesday, a Russian general told reporters here that a U.S. withdrawal would not affect the "level of trust" between the two countries and that Russia was prepared to negotiate a new, post-Cold War security structure even after such a move.
Now, according to the Bush administration official, "the Russians have come to an acceptance that, absent some major development, the United States is going to withdraw from ABM unilaterally or at least give notice of withdrawal. They have realized that maybe we're not going to negotiate on this before the treaty is gone."
But last week's attacks by knife-wielding terrorists have also sparked a new round of public criticism of Bush's missile defense plans here. Many top Russian officials have gone out of their way to point out the relatively low-tech nature of the attacks, insisting that it undermines Washington's stated reason for spending billions of dollars on a system of missile defense aimed at heading off a nuclear attack by small, hostile states such as North Korea.
On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov is due in Washington for talks on missile defense with Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, and U.S. sources said they are expecting new proposals from the Russians then. At the same time, in Moscow, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage is slated for meetings on enlisting Russia in the anti-terrorism fight, and specifically on what support Russia can provide for possible U.S. strikes in Afghanistan.
Since last week's attacks, Russian leaders have pledged support for the United States but have ruled out Russian participation in military strikes. return to menu
2. Russia Ponders ABM Treaty Change
September 10, 2001
(for personal use only)
MOSCOW, Russia -- Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov says Russia might consider changes to the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty.
However, he said Russia was still opposed to the planned deployment of a missile defence system by the United States.
In an interview with the Interfax news agency, carried by The Associated Press, Ivanov said that "theoretically, I do not exclude the possibility" of modifying the ABM treaty.
"When I say theoretically, I mean we must clearly understand what missile defence is being conceived by the United States and what technical possibilities in air, sea, ground and space fields are envisaged," Ivanov was quoted as saying.
"Along with thresholds of nuclear weapons cuts, those are exactly the questions for which we still cannot receive answers from the American side," Ivanov said.
Russia has been willing to negotiate deeper cuts in nuclear arsenals, while still remaining adamantly opposed to the U.S. plans.
However, Washington has said it needs to complete a review of how many nuclear weapons the U.S. needs before discussing specific figures.
Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin are scheduled to meet in Texas in November, by which time observers hope Moscow might have softened its stance. But Russian officials remain firmly opposed to a national missile shield.
Prior to their summit at Bush's ranch, the two leaders are due to meet on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific economic summit in Shanghai, China, in October.
A statement from the Kremlin said the presidents had discussed preparations for the meeting in a telephone conversation earlier Monday.
"They expressed satisfaction with the dynamics of the development of bilateral relations and the intensity of contacts in the military-political, economic and other fields that have taken place on various levels," the statement said.
U.S. Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith is due to outline U.S. plans at his talks in Moscow on Tuesday with the deputy chief of the Russian General Staff, Yuri Baluyevsky.
Ivanov, speaking on a trip to Astrakhan in southern Russia, said he expected the talks to "bring new proposals."
He said the Russian-U.S. consultations would continue later this month in his meeting with U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and in talks between Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.
On Sunday Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, said Washington would make an offer to Moscow and "we hope it's an offer they can't refuse."
Ivanov said it reminded him of Al Capone: "It's much easier to convince people with a pistol and a nice smile, than without a pistol."
Russia has staunchly opposed the U.S. intention to build a national defence against ballistic missiles, saying such a missile shield would tilt the military balance in the U.S.'s favour and trigger a new arms race.
The ABM treaty barred national missile defence on the assumption that the fear of mutual destruction would discourage both nations from launching a first strike.
Russia has rejected U.S. arguments that the planned missile defence, intended to deal with threats from such nations as North Korea, is not capable of deterring a massive strike of the kind Russia is capable of launching. return to menu
C. Nuclear Terrorism
1. Russian Official Says Terrorists Unlikely to Make Bombs with Spent Nuclear Fuel
BC Monitoring Service
September 17, 2001
(for personal use only)
Text of report in English by Russian news agency Interfax
Moscow, 17 September: Terrorists are not likely to operate technologies of making A-bombs from used nuclear fuel, Vitaliy Nasonov, deputy head of the Russian Atomic Energy Ministry's press service, told Interfax today. He was commenting on reports that Usamah Bin-Ladin, the Saudi millionaire suspected of masterminding the terrorist attacks in the United States, had shown interest in acquiring used fuel from the nuclear power station in the Bulgarian town of Kozloduy.
Used nuclear fuel does contain uranium-235 that could be used to make nuclear bombs, but appropriate technologies are needed for that, Nasonov said.
The station built with Russian aid has been abiding by an intergovernmental agreement under which nuclear waste must be sent back to Russia where the fuel elements are made, he said.
Bulgaria's Darik radio station has reported that Bin-Ladin discussed the possibility of obtaining used nuclear fuel with the Kozloduy station's director, Ivan Ivanov, in a suburb of Peshawar, Pakistan, in April.
Source: Interfax news agency, Moscow, in English 1011 gmt 17 Sep 01 return to menu
2. Attack on U.S. Raises Specter of Germ War, or Worse
September 16, 2001
(for personal use only)
WASHINGTON -- This week's deadly terrorist attacks could be followed by devastating assaults involving biological, chemical or even nuclear weapons, U.S. lawmakers and experts said on Saturday.
"In my judgment, it's not a question of if there will be a biological or chemical weapons attacks, but when -- and of what magnitude," said Rep. Christopher Shays, the Connecticut Republican who heads the House Government Reform subcommittee on national security.
Attacks involving nuclear weapons were less likely, but remained a possibility, Shays told Reuters.
Shays, whose committee has held 17 hearings on terror threats, said the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, which may have killed over 5,000 people, underscored the need to step up efforts to combat terrorism.
"The bottom line is, a chemical, biological or nuclear attack by a terrorist is a very real possibility," Shays said. " It sends shivers down your back."
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw on Friday urged immediate attention to the "next threat to our collective security," noting that the people responsible for Tuesday's attacks would stop at nothing.
"It should now be obvious to everyone that people who have the fanaticism and capability to fly an airliner laden with passengers and fuel into a skyscraper will not be deterred by human decency from deploying chemical and biological weapons, missiles or nuclear weapons or other forms of mass destruction, if these are available to them," Straw said.
Over the past few years, U.S. government officials and independent experts have urged increased efforts to brace for any such attack -- warning that the United States is currently ill-prepared to deal with terrorist threats.
Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, newly confirmed chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, last week told U.S. senators the U.S. could be "vulnerable" to a rogue attack with biological weapons.
"I think it's a recognized shortfall ... the ability to combat weapons of mass destruction to include chemical and biological," Myers said during his confirmation hearing.
Former Sen. Sam Nunn this month told lawmakers a simulated terror attack involving a release of smallpox showed how difficult it would be to defend against such an assault.
The exercise ended with more than 1,000 people dead and 15,000 reported smallpox cases -- all simulated -- less than two weeks after 24 "patients" first showed signs of an undiagnosed illness at an Oklahoma hospital. The simulation ended with no resolution to the "epidemic."
Smallpox is a highly contagious disease last seen in the United States in 1949. Vaccination ceased in 1972, leaving current generations of Americans with no immunity.
Nunn, a Georgia Democrat, told a Senate Armed Services committee hearing Sept. 5 that smallpox killed more than 300 million people in the 20th century, more than those killed in all the wars of the century combined.
A group of independent experts, headed by former senators Warren Rudman and Gary Hart, have released three reports over the past three years identifying terrorism as the most urgent national security issue facing the United States.
The group's third and final report, released in January, recommended creation of a National Homeland Security Agency -- with a seat on the Cabinet -- and an overhaul of national security priorities.
Vice President Dick Cheney is leading an administration working group to assess terrorist threats and is expected to report the findings to Congress by October 1.
Recognizing the seriousness of the bioterrorism threat, the United States is producing small amounts of chemical and biological warfare agents, including one for a deadly new form of anthrax, in order to develop protection against them.
"The threat is real. It is growing, and it is the responsibility of the United States military and this administration to protect us against it," Defense Department spokeswoman Victoria Clarke told reporters earlier this month.
She said no actual agents had been produced yet in the "defensive" program, which has been going on for at least four years, but there were plans to develop agents to cause such diseases as a new and virulent strain of anthrax within the restrictions of the global Biological Weapons Convention.
That 1972 treaty, signed by the United States, bans nations from developing or acquiring weapons that spread disease, but it allows work on vaccines and other protective measures.
Joseph Cirincione at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said there was no hard evidence that Saudi exile Osama bin Laden, a prime suspect in the attacks, had acquired nuclear, biological or chemical weapons.
But he said bin Laden, who has been living in Afghanistan, could easily buy such weapons from corrupt officials in Russia, or steal them from poorly guarded facilities, where some 20,000 battlefield nuclear weapons are stored.
Alternately, he could also acquire chemical or biological agents through cooperation with Iraq, Cirincione said.
"It's certainly possible," Cirincione said. "Do I think it's likely? No, but it is possible."
Sen. Joseph Biden, the Delaware Democrat who heads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told CNN's "Larry King Live" the United States should increase its focus on gathering intelligence as part of a major effort to battle terrorism.
"I think this is a heck of a wake-up call," Biden said.
He lauded President Bush's effort to build a global coalition to fight terrorism.
"This is an opportunity to begin the end of international terrorist networks. We can't do it alone, we've got to do it with the help of other countries," Biden said. return to menu
D. Nuclear Cities
1. Nuclear Cities Face Uncertainty
Contra Costa Times
September 10, 2001
(for personal use only)
Still encircled by tall fences 10 years after the Cold War ended, Russia's 10 nuclear weapons cities have brand new names but an uncertain future.
These closed cities in Russia's most remote regions were once the heart of the nuclear weapons industry, with an elite status that made them sealed enclaves of science and culture.
Now the cities' 760,000 residents are underpaid -- at times, unpaid -- and must rely on backyard gardens for food because store shelves are often bare.
Along with their counterparts in missile, biological and chemical weapons cities, these homes of nuclear know-how present the most daunting challenge facing governments and nuclear watchdog groups.
Fears that scientists and other weapons workers, desperate to support their families, will take their knowledge and bomb-making materials to countries such as Iran, Iraq and North Korea, have fueled efforts to employ scientists and economically strengthen these cities, with spotty success. The one U.S. program specifically designed to help the secret cities' transition from weapons work to mainstream industry has faced years of precarious funding and support.
"In Russia, there is a complicated situation," said Alexander Pikayev, who studies nonproliferation issues at the Carnegie Moscow Center. "There is no money to support (weapons scientists) to continue their activities. There is no money to convert them to civilian proposals."
Until recent years, Russia's nuclear cities didn't appear on maps.
They were known only by post box numbers in nearby towns, such as Tomsk-7 or Arzamas-16.
Residents were not allowed to leave to visit their families or travel. No foreigners were permitted inside.
The cities and their research institutions were swept up in the stirrings of democracy and capitalism that accompanied the collapse of the Soviet Union. They changed their names, held their first city elections and encouraged entrepreneurship. They allowed Westerners inside the fences for the first time. Several established close ties with U.S. laboratory towns, which have much in common with their Russian counterparts. Snezhinsk is home to a laboratory like its sister city of Livermore, site of Lawrence Livermore Lab.
The end of the Cold War was also a time of pain. Gone were the perks and comfortable salaries of old. Russia's budget for its nuclear weapons facilities is one-seventh of what it was 10 years ago. Its average weapons assembly worker earns $56 per month.
"There is a lot of resentment of the difficult economic times," said Eileen Vergino, deputy director of the Livermore lab's Center for Global Security Research and a sister cities leader who has visited Snezhinsk a dozen times.
Dire conditions at these cities and throughout Russia's nuclear complex panicked many international observers.
"We were literally worried about these people picking up stakes and going to bad places," explained Laura Holgate, who heads Russian nuclear programs for the Nuclear Threat Initiative, formed by Ted Turner to fight the spread of weapons of mass destruction.
In the early 1990s, the United States and Europe set up stopgap programs to keep scientists from taking their knowledge to rogue states, and there have only been a few isolated cases of that happening. But the larger issue remains: Russia has too many nuclear sector employees -- at 75,000 more than twice as many as the United States -- and no money to convert them to peacetime work.
As the United States did a decade ago, Russia's Ministry of Atomic Energy (MinAtom) plans to convert its nuclear program from active weapons production to maintenance. It expects to shut three of six assembly plants by 2005. In all, half the nuclear work force -- 35,000 people -- will be out of work.
For closed cities, especially those where plants are shuttered, this means massive unemployment. MinAtom has plans to help these cities by, for example, encouraging industry to develop software products or medical devices, said Alexander Antonov, head of the agency's department of conversion.
"The main idea is to use the incredible intellectual resources that are in the closed cities," said Antonov from MinAtom's Moscow offices. "We have to organize a favorable environment for them to work."
But MinAtom has little money. Because of this, Russians say they welcomed working with the United States on the Nuclear Cities Initiative, the only program specifically designed to help conversion of nuclear cities.
This Department of Energy initiative aims to strengthen city governments, help weapons institutes turn to industrial work, and encourage entrepreneurship among Russia's well-trained, but market-illiterate, citizens.
In three cities -- Sarov, Snezhinsk and Zheleznogorsk -- the initiative has opened business development and computing centers, funded training on proposal writing and career changes, and sponsored city leadership training.
In its most touted success, the initiative moved a mile-long concrete fence inside the closed city of Sarov, opening up former weapons disassembly buildings to industrial development. Already, a kidney dialysis equipment maker has moved into this area.
But the program has fallen short of its goals during its three years, directly creating 370 jobs instead of thousands and drawing criticism in the United States and Russia. The General Accounting Office has called the program ineffective, and a recent National Security Council review recommended dropping some elements and merging the rest with other initiatives.
The two major sticking points are money and access.
Funding for the Nuclear Cities Initiative has gone up and down constantly since it began in 1998, peaking at $30 million a year. President Bush's budget for 2002 bottomed out at $6 million, although Congress will likely give the program more. That is much less than the $550 million program managers had expected over a five- to seven-year period.
Russians say sporadic funding tests their commitment to continue working with the United States. Worse, very little money -- they say only $1 million total, although initiative officials dispute that -- has gone to cities and instead goes to U.S. labs and the Department of Energy, which runs the initiative.
Initiative officials say start-up years are hard and require more money for management. Now that the program is established, more money will go to create jobs in cities.
"In my opinion, we have not given it time to work." said Ken Baker, head of Russia nonproliferation programs at Energy. "The main thing is that we're in there. We're in Russian closed cities. It cannot be oversold right now."
The stickiest problem may be access.
After a decade of relative openness, a new federal security service -- the successor to the KGB -- and the cities are again clamping down. Foreign visitors must have approval to enter a closed city 45 days before their trip, a point critics say scares potential business investors. Even that notice doesn't get them in every time -- GAO investigators didn't get into any closed cities, and neither did this reporter. U.S. lab researchers who have been visiting for nearly a decade are now having problems.
"We have to figure out how to do this differently," said Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, a strong supporter of nonproliferation programs who has visited Snezhinsk.
Many, including Tauscher, argue that opening the cities to business is essential to their turnaround. But the cities don't necessarily want to open. Staying closed has protected them from some of the widespread corruption and instability that has gripped the rest of Russia.
"They are safer and more stable in some ways," said Oleg Bukharin, a researcher at Princeton University's Center for Energy and Environmental Studies.
MinAtom officials don't think access is a problem. Researchers enter these cities every day, Antonov said, and they are far more open than during the Cold War. They say having too many visitors turns into a form of "nuclear tourism" rather than meaningful visits.
Despite access fights, Baker said an overarching agreement should be completed soon, although that settlement has been weeks away for five months. The agreement would allow businesses and lab researchers into the cities to work on the serious threat that remains.
Until these programs begin to work, officials in Russia and the United States alike agree the threat of closed cities' researchers continuing to work on weapons, either for Russia or rogue countries, hasn't waned.
"We are there trying to do not just a job for Russia and the United States but for the world," said Energy's Baker. "It is like a low-cost insurance policy for national security." return to menu
E. Russian Nuclear Power Industry
1. UES Tightens Security at Power Plants
September 17, 2001
(for personal use only)
Unified Energy Systems, apparently alarmed by the terrorist attacks in the United States, is boosting security at its power plants.
UES chief Anatoly Chubais has ordered the company's subsidiaries and representative offices to introduce additional security measures and told UES's internal security service to strengthen its cooperation with law enforcement agencies.
In a telephone interview Friday, a company spokesman said this was not the first time UES has tightened security.
"After the apartment building explosions in Moscow two years ago we were also on a state of high alert," he said.
Power plants, especially those with nuclear reactors, are seen as potential targets for terrorists.
"There are 30 nuclear power-generating units in Russia located near populated cities," Vladimir Slivyak of the environmental organization Ecodefense said by telephone Friday. "If a plane were to strike them, catastrophe would be inevitable."
Closest to Moscow is the Kalinin nuclear power plant, located about 300 kilometers northwest of the city in the Tver region. If it were attacked, a radioactive cloud could easily blanket the capital, Slivyak said.
Although the designers of Russia's power plants have said the structures would survive a plane crash, Slivyak said this was unlikely as actual tests have never been conducted.
"Even if the building itself holds out against a crash, it could still damage some subsidiary utility, like electricity supply, or hit a storehouse holding the plant's nuclear waste, and cause a major breakdown," he said.
UES plants have been targeted by terrorists in the past, according to the company spokesman. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the spokesman said there was an attempt to set off an explosion at a Volga region electricity plant earlier this year.
It was unclear Friday exactly how Chubais' order would be implemented.
In Dagestan, one of the regions that have suffered terrorist attacks in recent years, the local power supplier was unaware of the order to boost security.
"We haven't received any instructions from Moscow," a manger at Dagenergo, the local UES subsidiary, said by telephone late Friday. return to menu
F. Nuclear Waste
1. Gorbachev Doubts Wisdom of Burying Nuclear Waste inside Former USSR
August 28, 2001
(for personal use only)
Almaty -- Following his meeting on Tuesday with Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev told the press in Almaty that he doubts the expediency of burying nuclear waste imported from other countries inside the former USSR.
The ecology of the post-Soviet countries is undermined as it is as a result of the arms race, when the interests of the military- industrial complex prevailed, he said.
Law makers must be extremely careful in making a decision on this subject, Gorbachev said.
The arguments of those who want to earn enough money burying other countries' waste to bury one's own do not seem very convincing to him, he said.
On the other hand, the issue is very important and he does not possess all the information to make final conclusions, Gorbachev said. return to menu
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