1. Senate Democrats To Fight Funding Ban On New Russian Power Plants
Keith J. Costa
Inside the Pentagon
October 11, 2001
(for personal use only)
When House and Senate conferees are chosen to hash out a final versionof the fiscal year 2002 defense authorization bill, one of the itemsthey'll consider is a House provision that prohibits the use ofCooperative Threat Reduction funds to replace three plutonium-producingpower plants in Russia with conventional sources of energy.
The Senate's bill does not include the prohibition, and Senate Democratsin conference will work to prevent its inclusion in the bill that willbe sent to President Bush, sources said this week. Who will representeach chamber in the conference is undecided, but staffers from bothArmed Services committees are meeting informally this week to discussconference issues, a congressional source said Oct. 10.
Lawmakers plan to begin the conference next week and finish work on thedefense bill by the end of this month.
The three Russian reactors are located in two cities, Seversk andZelenogorsk, and are the only ones still operable among 13 once employedin the former Soviet Union's nuclear weapons complex.
The three reactors produce more than a ton of weapons-grade plutoniumeach year, "enough for 200 Nagasaki bombs," Frank von Hippel and MatthewBunn wrote in a report released last year by the Washington, DC-basedFederation of American Scientists (Inside the Pentagon, March 8, p11).Both authors worked in the White House Office of Science and TechnologyPolicy during the Clinton administration.
Russia still operates the plutonium production reactors because they areonly sources of energy and heat for one-quarter of a million peopleliving in Siberia, according to the FAS report.
The Bush administration in forming its nonproliferation policy forRussia has decided against a "core conversion" of the reactors, whichwould have meant reconfiguring the design of those plants for analternative fuel source. Instead, the administration believes buildingfossil fuel plants would better satisfy the region's energy and heatingneeds. The fossil fuel approach, which could include the refurbishmentof coal-burning boilers, is far less expensive than core conversion,notes the report accompanying the House version of the defense bill.
House lawmakers expressed support for replacing the plutonium productionreactors with conventional plants, but they are opposed to using DefenseDepartment CTR funds to pay for such an effort.
"Although the committee supports the goal of shutting down Russia'snuclear power plants, the committee believes this goal serves broaderU.S. nonproliferation and foreign policy objectives, and should befunded through sources external to the Department of Defense," thereport states. "The committee does not believe that the construction offossil fuel plants in Russia is an activity appropriate for DOD tofund."
Earlier this year, the administration requested $41.7 million in CTRfunds to eliminate the three Russian plutonium production reactors, a 30percent increase over the amount appropriated for the activity in FY-01,according to the report.
The administration's amended budget submission for DOD called for endingRussian plutonium production by shutting down the two reactors atSeversk and upgrading existing fossil fuel plants there for heat andelectricity production. "DOD has also agreed in principle to build aplant to furnish heat and electricity, and [Russia's Ministry for AtomicEnergy] will shut down the [plutonium] production reactor" atZelenogorsk, according to the budget submission.
The House Armed Services Committee, and later the full House, approvedthe requested funds, but prohibited any attempt to take the money out ofDOD's pockets.
Specifically, the bill makes permanent a provision in the FY-01 DefenseAuthorization Act that prohibited using FY-01 CTR funds for constructingfossil fuel plants in Russia. The report also notes that no funds wererequested for shutting down the existing reactors at Seversk andZelenogorsk.
Rep. John Spratt (D-SC) opposed the prohibition.
"Spratt said the main concern here is stopping plutonium production, andthis is a national security goal," a congressional source told ITP onOct. 5. "So it makes sense to use national security dollars."
The source also said those who support the ban on CTR funds are lookingat the issue from "too narrow a perspective." The focus should be onachieving an important nonproliferation objective, not on where themoney will come from, the source added.
Other sources said the ban is also being opposed because it wouldcontradict Bush administration policy on building fossil fuel plants inRussia with DOD dollars. Moreover, DOD officials said they wanted to bein charge of eliminating the three plutonium production plants when somelawmakers in the past proposed giving the mission to the EnergyDepartment, the sources said.
The House Armed Services Committee was unable to respond to ITP'srequest for comment on its CTR prohibition by press time (Oct. 10). Thecommittee, though, has "traditionally supported the overriding goal ofthe CTR program to reduce the threat to the United States posed by theformer Soviet Union's residual weapons of mass destruction," the panel'sreport states.
However, in recent years the committee has raised concerns about the CTRprogram, including an expansion in the program's scope, the difficultyof measuring the success and efficiency of various CTR projects, thelack of transparency agreements with Russia, the possibility that Moscowmight be using CTR money for arms modernization, and whether certain CTRefforts should be funded by agencies outside DOD, the report states.
To William Hoehn, director of the Russian American Nuclear SecurityAdvisory Council's Washington, DC, office, the House prohibition on CTRfunds represents the "sort of bureaucratic nonsense" the he says shouldhave been cast aside after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks against theWorld Trade Center and Pentagon. Following those strikes, RANSAC askedofficials in theUnited States and Russia to place a higher priority on achievingnonproliferation goals to prevent the spread of weapons of massdestruction to terrorists groups.
Concern about whether it is appropriate for DOD to fund Russian fossilfuel plant construction should take a back seat to getting the plutoniumproduction reactors off line, Hoehn told ITP Oct. 10.
"It is frightening that there are officials comfortable saying, inessence, that an extra one and half tons of plutonium in that part ofthe world each year isn't a bad thing," he said. "We should be doingeverything within our power to put a lid on proliferation risks, andthese guys are trying to hold the process up over a technicality." return to menu
(AFP 10/15/01):The al-Qaeda terrorist network tried to obtainweapons-grade nuclear material with the help of the Russian mafia, theGerman ARD television network says in a report to be broadcast Mondayevening.
Friedrich Steinhaeusler, an arms control specialist with California'sStanford University, said in an interview to ARD that an attempt toobtain enriched uranium was foiled in Prague. "We know that there werevery definite attempts by al-Qaeda to obtain nuclear material throughmiddlemen and representatives of Russian organised crime and that theseconversations are believed to have taken place in Europe and are alsobeing investigated by European security services," said Steinhaeusler.
He said that several kilograms of highly-enriched uranium of Russianorigin had been seized in Prague in connection with the attempted deal.The gang involved had worked with middlemen from Belarus, the Czechrepublic, Germany and Russia, according to the report.
The report said that according to the FBI, Osama bin Laden's formerfinance chief Mamduh Mahmud Salim, who was arrested near Munich in 1998and handed over to the United States, had tried to obtain nuclearweapons components.
Steinhaeusler said in the report that a Stanford university surveyshowed that nuclear material was not kept under sufficient security by anumber of states.
Bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network have been blamed by US investigatorsfor the September 11 attack that devastated the World Trade Center anddamaged the Pentagon, leaving about 5,500 people dead. return to menu
2. Israel Finds Radiological Backpack Bomb
United Press International
October 14, 2001
(for personal use only)
WASHINGTON, Oct 14, 2001 (United Press International via COMTEX) --Israeli security last month arrested a man linked to suspected terroristmastermind Osama bin Laden armed with a radiological backpack bomb, ashe attempted to enter Israel from the Palestinian Territories via aborder checkpoint at Ramallah, according to U.S. government officials.
The arrest took place during the last week of September, according toone knowledgeable official who spoke on condition of anonymity. Hedeclined to give the exact date of arrest. Two other sources interviewedby UPI confirmed the incident, but also declined to give furtherdetails.
"People know how to walk a dog back," one said, meaning that relatingtoo exact an account could lead to the identification of the source ofthe information.
Regarding the arrest, a U.S. government official said: "There was onlyone individual involved. He was from Pakistan."
Another source said U.S. officials believed that the suspect hadprobably gotten to the territories via Lebanon.
Information on the arrest went immediately to U.S. President Bush and aclose circle of advisors, another U.S. official said. He described theappearance and character of the top-secret report circulated among theCabinet members and signed by each official present.
Former Pentagon terrorism expert, Peter Probst, described a radiologicalbomb as a device with a small explosive core that is encased inradioactive material. "It would not kill a great many people, but itwould contaminate a considerable area with radiation," he said.
A U.S. government expert said that the weapon captured by Israel was abackpack device that CIA officials learned about through Russianintelligence agents in place in 1995.
He emphasized it was not a so-called nuclear suitcase bomb.
The CIA had intelligence reports from senior Arab intelligence officialsalleging that in October 1998 bin Laden had obtained one or two nuclearsuitcase weapons from a Central Asian republic in return for $30 millionin cash and two tons of heroin worth $70 million - a deal brokered bythe Chechen mafia.
Russian Gen. Aleksandr Ivanovich Lebed, a former national securityadvisor to then-President Yeltsin acknowledged publicly in 1997 thatseveral nuclear suitcase bombs had disappeared from Russia's arsenal.
But former CIA counter-terrorism official Vince Cannistraro has nopatience with such accounts: "All talk of bin Laden having a nuclearsuitcase bomb is crap," he said.
Cannistraro could not be reached for comment about the backpack device.
Nuclear suitcase bombs were designed for Soviet Speznatz or specialoperations troops to assault and destroy NATO command and controlbunkers in Europe in the event of a NATO-Soviet war. The devices couldnot be detonated without matching codes held in strictest security byMoscow, a former CIA official said.
Backpack bombs have no such codes, but they were also designed forSpetznetz forces and have such an intricate and complex system ofactivation that the ability of a terrorist to detonate one "would beincredibly limited," according to one U.S. government official.
"There is such a complicated sequence you have to perform that someterrorist isn't going to be able to get it to work. You have to be veryhighly trained," an intelligence official agreed, describing the chancesthat the device could have been activated as "practically miniscule."
Probst is nevertheless convinced that radiological bombs are still adanger for New York City. "Bin Laden is fascinated by Wall Street. Myfear is that he will attempt to smuggle in some "dirty" bomb thatwouldn't kill many people but would dangerously contaminate the area,"he said. return to menu
C. US-Russia Relations
1. Condoleezza Rice: Threat Of Terrorism Has Brought Us Closer Together
October 15, 2001
(for personal use only)
"Dressed in an elegant black dress, Condoleezza Rice meets me with hertraditional broad smile," the Izvestia correspondent writes. "The firstsubject in our conversation concerns the upcoming meeting between thepresidents of Russia and the United States in Shanghai."
Following are some excerpts from the interview that have beenretranslated from the Russian transcript into English.
Q: George Bush has reduced his stay in Shanghai to two days. In view ofthat, have there been any changes in his program for holding talks withVladimir Putin? Do you expect anything new from that meeting?
A: President Bush attaches a great deal of attention to that new meetingwith Mr. Putin. I think that what we call "the spirit of Ljubljana andGenoa" will be consolidated at that meeting. Doubtlessly, the twoleaders will discuss the main questions related to bilateral relations.I have a feeling that they already want, not in words but in deeds, tobuild out a new concept of interstate relationships. That work had beensuccessfully going on even right up to September 11, but I consider thatthe tragic events of that day gave a new, very strong impetus (forstimulating) bilateral relations. Our common concern in view of thethreat from international terrorism has brought us closer together.Doubtlessly, this subject will be given priority at the meeting inShanghai.
The presidents will also discuss such questions as strengtheningeconomic relations, the situation in different regions of the world aswell as questions of non-proliferation of mass destruction weapons. I amconvinced that on all these questions, the bilateral relations arechanging for the better right before our eyes. The fact that PresidentBush has reduced his stay in Shanghai has not changed either the agendaor the duration of his talks with Vladimir Putin.
Q: After the meeting in China, President Putin will be visiting the USA.Are their any plans for Putin to address both chambers of the AmericanCongress?
A: That question is more within the competence of the Capitol ratherthan the White House. But I can assure you that many important andinteresting meetings are in store for Putin in Washington.
Q: Several days ago, while speaking at a meeting of the American-RussianBusiness Council, you remarked that the USA and Russia were headingtowards an absolutely new relationship that could not even be imaginedonly a few years ago. How do you visualize this "new" relationship?
A: Russia lately has been changing very rapidly. Therefore, it is notsurprising that America's attitude towards Russia is also changing, thebasis of our relationships. Considerably more emphasis is now beingplaced on economic ties. President Bush was very impressed by theefforts Mr. Putin has undertaken on the way to strengthening economicreforms and the primacy of law in Russia. For us, it is important thatthe executive in Russia be concerned with creating conditions formassive American investments. And when those conditions are created,your country, with its tremendous potential, will become very attractiveto the foreign investor. I know that President Bush will be discussingthe economic questions with Vladimir Putin particularly in this vein.
Cooperation in the sphere of security is another major indicator of theprogress of bilateral relations. Until recently in one way or anotherour contacts were based on Cold War tenets and were marred by fears of anuclear strike by either side. Fear is not what expect from relationswith countries who are not our enemies, and Russia is not an enemy. Oneof the most pressing tasks facing our countries is reaching an agreementto make significant cuts in offensive and defensive nuclear arsenals.
Q.:Several days ago President Bush described Putin as a friend. He saidthat in reply to a question about whether the United States was going tomodify the tenor of discussion on anti-missile defense, considering thatthe issue was a powerful irritant in our relations and taking Moscow'spositive frame of mind into account. Do you expect Bush and Putin todiscuss the problem in a somewhat different light when they meet inShanghai?
A.:We have always insisted that the new format of strategic relationsinclude a reduction in offensive nuclear weapons and the introduction ofnew defensive weapons to protect our country from what we call "alimited threat." Just imagine terrorists using ballistic missiles onSeptember 11.They would have been the most awesome weapon in the handsof the criminals. Imagine the scale of the destruction and the number ofdeaths. Those tragic events have only supplied new evidence of the needto deploy NMD. It is in this spirit that the president intends tocontinue his discussions with Vladimir Putin. You and we have enoughmissiles to destroy the opposite side. But we are no longer enemies. Whyshould we go on working on the assumption that we can destroy eachother? The September 11 events have supplied ample evidence of the factthat America and Russia share a lot of interests in the sphere ofsecurity.
Q.:Would you say the United States and Russia might cooperate in spheresother than those mentioned by Vladimir Putin? For example, do you thinkthey might engage in joint combat operations?
We are well aware of the fact that members of the anti-terroristcoalition might contribute to the struggle in different ways. We arealso aware of the various restrictions limiting their involvement in thestruggle. Russia has demonstrated that it is a very generous partner, apartner having a sincere desire to cooperate in several areas. It hasbeen sharing intelligence reports with the US, allowed the use of itsair space and said it might take part in possible search and rescueoperations. This is a very important assistance. At present we cannotask your country to do more. But I can foresee a situation where ourcountries might successfully cooperate in some other areas as thestruggle against terrorism gains momentum.
Q.:How can you assess the first week of air strikes against the Talibanpositions in Afghanistan from the political and military standpoints?
A.:We think that we have substantially weakened the Taliban militarycapability and have destroyed several Al-Qaeda terrorist training campsover the last few days, causing the ringleaders of this criminal groupto hide. We have made it clear to the Taliban authorities that they arebeing absolutely wrong in their decision to continue granting asylum toOsama bin Laden. But we know that this is going to be a continualstruggle. The air strikes are only part of this long campaign. We areexerting effort to curb the financial feedback to terrorists. We knowthat terrorist cells are scattered around the globe and law enforcers indifferent countries should unite their efforts to eradicate them. We areworking on that together with other members of the (anti-terrorism)coalition. The President has stressed it many times that he will haveenough patience to carry on this continual struggle.
Alongside with military hostilities, the United States has launched ahumanitarian operation in Afghanistan. It is extremely vital for us tomaintain cooperation with Russia in this field. We have been trying tomake it clear in every way that this war is not targeted against theAfghan people who sustained numerous suffering in the past. We areconcerned with civilians' fate. President Bush has called on eachAmerican child to contribute one dollar to a relief fund to helpfamineicken children in Afghanistan.
Q.:Do you think that the U.S leadership has got a better understandingof what Moscow is facing in Chechnya after the September 11th attacks?
A.:We have always been saying that a political settlement is necessaryin Chechnya. We are very pleased with President Putin's recentstatements. It looks as if he seriously means to start talks with theChechen leaders. We continue stressing that human rights is also a vitalissue for Chechnya, which, however, is as important as respect for therights of its ethnic minorities. We know that terrorists operate in andaround Chechnya. We are calling on the Chechen leaders to alienatethemselves from terrorists who can be in their ranks. We cannot beopposed to terrorists in Afghanistan, on the one hand, and createfavorable conditions for them in Chechnya, on the other hand.
Q.:We know that you, a recognized U.S expert on Russia, made a comebackto big politics just ten months ago. Has your impression of Russiachanged over the last few months?
A.:We have always tried to find some kind of realistic approach toRussia and have sought a convergence of our mutual interests. That hasnever been easy, though. But, perhaps, things have really started tochange. Previously, we used to talk about searching for newopportunities or losing some of them. Now...now we regard it extremelysignificant that President Putin was the first foreign leader to callthe White House after the September 11 terrorist acts. I was withPresident (Bush) when Putin phoned, and I saw how he appreciated thatgesture of solidarity. That call also meant a lot for me personally.This is exactly what our future relations with Russia should be like. return to menu
D. Nuclear Safety
1. Small emergency at Leningrad NPP
October 16, 2001
(for personal use only)
Leningrad nuclear power plant, the notorious safety troublemaker outsideSt Petersburg, once again lost control over one of its dangerous RBMKreactors. Monday afternoon, the safety system of reactor no. 4 forcedthe power output from the reactor to be reduced to the half.
The reactor in question is similar to the one that exploded and burnedin Chernobyl back in April 1986. A serious accident at Leningrad nuclearpower plant could cause enormous radiation troubles for the Baltic andin worst case, the entire northern Europe. The safety problems, alongwith the lack of safe storage for the spent nuclear fuel and the highlyradioactive waste are the main reasons why the Bellona Foundation, alongwith many other international experts, recommends the closure of thisparticular nuclear power plant.
A broken valve in turbo generator no. 7 at reactor no. 4 caused Monday'sfailure. While the workers on duty did their very best to repair thevalve, the result was only more broken valves in the reactor's system.The RBMK reactors at Leningrad nuclear power plant are criticisedbecause there are so many thousands of small pipes and valves inside thereactor core. This makes it difficult to locate the troubles as itcomes.
The press-service of Leningrad NPP says the troubles should be repairedby 24 hours. In the meantime the reactor has to operate at halfcapacity, less than 500 MWt.
Leningrad NPP operates four reactors of the RBMK-1000 type. These arethe oldest civilian reactors in Russia of the Chernobyl type. The firstone started its operation in 1973, while Monday's trouble reactor is thenewest one from 1980. According to the official monitoring, theradiation levels in the area around Leningrad NPP are normal at all 23sites where on-line measurements are updated today.
The link in the box to the left goes directly to this official on-linemeasurement system. (ed. See link below)
Bellona's St Petersburg office currently works on a energy-proposal forthe region, also aimed to look into energy production that by time canreplace the need for Leningrad NPP. return to menu
1. Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Igor Ivanov Meets with US Under Secretary of State William Beurns
Ministry Of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
Information and Press Department Daily News Bulletin
October 16, 2001
On October 15, Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Igor Ivanov receivedUS Under Secretary of State William Beurns, in Moscow for politicalconsultations at the Russian MFA. During the talk, the sides discussed abroad range of questions, primarily those of the fight againstinternational terrorism, the unblocking of the crisis in the Middle Eastand the settlement of the Iraqi problem.
The sides expressed the view that to eradicate the threat ofinternational terrorism the combining of the efforts by all of the worldcommunity is needed. They noted that terrorism has no religiousaffiliation or nationality and underlined the importance of decisivelycountering attempts to present international terrorism as amanifestation of a "struggle of civilizations." Ivanov voiced deepconcern over the danger of the present crisis spreading to othercountries and regions, stressing the inadmissibility of a development ofevents according to such a scenario. He also laid the emphasis on thetask of eradicating the deep-rooted causes engendering terrorism.
The sides emphasized the importance of a step-up of efforts to overcomethe Palestinian-Israeli confrontation and spoke up for adoption ofurgent measures to unblock the conflict on the basis of therecommendations of the George Mitchell committee. They positivelyassessed the agreements reached between Yasser Arafat and Shimon Peres,which could launch the process of a return to stability. In thisconnection it is important that the government of Israel and theleadership of the Palestinian National Authority should accomplish realmoves aimed at ending the violence, establishing stable cooperation inthe field of security, bringing about normalization and resuming thetalks on political settlement.
The sides noted the need not to relax efforts on the other tracks ofMiddle East settlement as well.
Ivanov and Beurns considered in detail the situation developing aroundIraq. The Russian side underscored the importance of continuingenergetic work to reach an early and full-scale solution to the Iraqiproblem solely by politico-diplomatic methods.
During Beurns' stay in Moscow, he has held consultations on Middle Eastproblems in the Middle East and North Africa Department and Departmentof International Organizations of the Russian MFA. return to menu
2. National Nuclear Security Administration To Help Train Former Soviet Wmd Scientists In Commercial Information Technology Fields --Reduces Proliferation Threats--
National Nuclear Security Administration
October 4, 2001
The Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration(NNSA) and a leading Russian Information Technology (IT) company arecooperating to help reduce the threat of proliferation of weapons ofmass destruction (WMD). The NNSA's Initiatives for ProliferationPrevention (IPP) program seeks to engage WMD experts at former Sovietfacilities in the development of commercial technologies for peacefulpurposes.
Kenneth E. Baker, NNSA Acting Deputy Administrator stated, "TheInitiatives for Proliferation Prevention program prevents such expertisefrom spreading to states or terrorist organizations that seek to acquireweapons of mass destruction by engaging WMD experts in non-militaryapplications."
LUXOFT, a member company of the IBS Group, and its U.S. partner, CTG,Inc. of Wayne, PA, plan to train as many as 500 nuclear professionals atthe Moscow-based Kurchatov Institute, Russia's premier nuclear researchfacility, in a broad range of IT applications in the next few years.LUXOFT experts will spend nine months training Kurchatov scientists.After the initial nine-month training program, LUXOFT plans to expandthe training to other nuclear weapons facilities.
Both LUXOFT and CTG are members of the U.S. Industry Coalition (USIC), anon-profit association of companies and universities that are activepartners in the NNSA-IPP program. USIC works to facilitate technologycommercialization for its members.
In the wake of the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington,concerns about potential use of WMD technologies by terrorist groupshave been heightened. The IPP program is critical to U.S. nationalsecurity as it works to reduce this threat. Since 1994, the IPP programhas engaged thousands of former Soviet scientists and engineers inpeaceful technology development, thereby preventing such experts fromexporting their knowledge to those seeking to acquire weapons of massdestruction. return to menu