Someone in Osama bin Laden's terrorist network could acquire nuclearmaterials from former Soviet Union stockpiles to use in a new attack onthe United States.
President Bush gave credence to just such a doomsday threat earlier thismonth when he disclosed that the government had information that binLaden's al-Qaeda organization had tried to acquire weapons of massdestruction.
Yet recent efforts in Congress to boost spending to secure nuclearstockpiles overseas, particularly those controlled by Russia, have met ahighly effective opponent - Bush.
In a reversal of their usual partisan stereotypes, the Republicanpresident is fighting Democrats in Congress over their effort to spendmore on defense - in this instance, to safeguard such nuclear sites.
Bush says the government doesn't need the extra cash, but Rep. David R.Obey, a liberal from Wisconsin and the senior Democrat on the HouseAppropriations Committee, insists the money could be used to close gapsin nuclear security. Most other Democrats are behind him.
A key test of which way Congress will go is expected today, when theHouse will decide whether to block Obey's amendment to increase thefunds or allow a vote on it.
Obey's amendment would add $6.5 billion to the administration's budgetfor homeland defense. Beside securing nuclear stockpiles, it wouldincrease spending for local public health facilities at the front linesof any bioterror attack; for more U.S. immigration agents along theCanadian border; for stepped-up inspections of imported food; and for anew computer system for the FBI.
The most important feature, Obey said yesterday, would be the boost inspending for security at nuclear sites in the United States and abroad.
He called for a $316 million increase for securing Russia's nuclearplants and weapons depots. The money would be used to help prevent thetheft in Russia of nuclear fuel that terrorists could use to makeradioactive bombs, to pay for monitoring equipment to help Russia detectsmuggling, and to tighten security for the Russian navy's nuclearweapons.
This would expand a program first enacted into law in 1991 and supportedby leading lawmakers of both parties.
The White House-backed defense bill would boost spending on thoseactivities by $18 million - almost $300 million less than Obey'sproposal.
Obey and House Democrats also would boost spending to secure U.S.nuclear facilities by $503 million; the GOP bill would raise it by $100million.
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said Bush thinks Congress shouldstick to its earlier agreement to spend no more than $40 billion thisyear on antiterrorism efforts.
He also noted that homeland security chief Tom Ridge was reviewing thegovernment's needs for stepped-up nuclear, biological and chemicaldefenses and could ask Congress for more money if he decides that morecould be spent effectively.
House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R., Ill.) thinks he has the votes todefeat Obey. The amendment "breaks the budget; that's the reason wewon't allow it," Hastert spokesman John Feehery said.
But the GOP-led House may not have the last word.
Democrats who control the Senate share the concern that nuclear securityis getting too little money in the post-Sept.11 era - and some prominentRepublican senators agree.
Sen. Pete V. Domenici (R., N.M.), senior Republican on the BudgetCommittee, said he has repeatedly urged the White House to boostspending to protect Russian stockpiles from smugglers.
"When you add it all together, there's not enough money, but there'sbeen no indication that the White House has another plan," Domenicisaid.
Other GOP defense boosters say they are willing to wait and see whatRidge comes up with. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R., Texas), a member ofthe defense spending subcommittee, said of the issue: "It is a very highpriority. We should fully fund it, but I think we can do that" with asupplemental appropriations bill next year. return to menu
B. Cooperative Threat Reduction
1. How Secure Is Pakistan's Plutonium?
Mansoor Ijaz and R. James Woolsey
The New York Times
November 28, 2001
(for personal use only)
A deeply disturbing picture of terrorist intent has emerged in recentweeks as blueprints for building nuclear weapons have been discovered inthe wreckage of abandoned Al Qaeda safe houses. These blueprints andother documents, while largely available in the public domain,sharpen the need for a vigorous American policy to deal with unsecurednuclear, chemical and biological materials. Even if terroristmanufacture of nuclear bombs is unlikely, substantial dangers remain ofterrorists using radioactive material in low-tech "dirty" bombs.
The main nuclear security problem posed by Al Qaeda today is access toradioactive materials in Pakistan. However, for a decade we have focusedon the former Soviet Union. Since the end of the cold war, approximately175 incidents of smuggling or attempted theft of nuclear materials therehave been thwarted. But the threat remains, as the Russian DefenseMinistry reported on Nov. 6, when the last attempt at theft was made.
For Russia, a sensible solution is available the Nunn-Lugar"cooperative threat reduction" program to improve the security ofRussia's nuclear materials, technology and expertise. This week, theHouse Republican leadership will decide whether to finance the nextphase. The program is only 40 percent complete; finishing it will takeanother quarter of a century at the current rate of funding. It is pasttime to fully implement and finance this important legislation.
The Nunn-Lugar initiative can serve as a valuable precedent inaddressing security problems in Pakistan. Neither Pakistan nor India hassigned the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or the Comprehensive TestBan Treaty. Nor has either country engaged in negotiations, under theauspices of the United Nations Conference on Disarmament, to protectagainst theft of fissile materials. This reluctance in India andPakistan to recognize international norms, however, should not alter ourresolve to improve the security of nuclear materials in South Asia.
While Islamabad is widely believed to have the material for 25 to 40medium-yield bombs, most of its nuclear devices are kept in componentparts, not as assembled warheads. The storage procedures, quiteelaborate prior to Sept. 11, were altered again on Oct. 7 when theAmerican bombing of Afghanistan began. Separately stored uranium andplutonium cores and their detonation assemblies were moved to six newsecret locations around the country.
The new storage patterns were designed to allow for rapid assembly anddeployment, but attackers will nonetheless find it much more difficultto confiscate Pakistan's nuclear weapons. Even if Al Qaeda obtainedradioactive materials from a sympathizer at one of Pakistan's plants formaking weapons-grade nuclear materials, as some reports have suggested,the material would still have to be shaped into a fissionable core withdetonation switches and delivery housings.
Such a complex effort would be difficult to carry out in an Afghan cave.But we can hardly count on terrorists always being under bombardment incaves.
Pakistan's nuclear command hierarchy, overhauled in 2000, was alsorevamped on Oct. 7 in the wake of a broad military-intelligenceshake-up. Pakistan's president and army chief, Pervez Musharraf, createdthe strategic planning division and appointed a moderate general, KhalidKidwai, to oversee Pakistani nuclear assets.
Self-policing, however, is not enough. Since 1990, American sanctionshave blocked sale or transfer of any technology that might have amilitary use including technologies that would improve nuclearsecurity. American export license controls and, where necessary,Non-Proliferation Treaty and Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty compliancerules preventing United States exports should be waived to transferthe technology needed to protect Pakistan's nuclear arsenals andmaterials from unauthorized use.
The Bush administration should make available American vaults, sensors,alarms, tamper-proof seals, closed-circuit cameras and labels toidentify, track and secure Islamabad's nuclear materials.
Such precautions would dramatically reduce the probability that even themost devoted bin Laden supporter inside a Pakistani nuclear enrichmentfacility would get very far in trying to deliver stolen uranium orplutonium to terrorists.
There is a real risk that Pakistan's fanatics might collaborate with AlQaeda; the plans, recently discovered in Kabul, for a helium balloonarmed with anthrax have been attributed to a Pakistani nuclear scientistturned Taliban philanthropist. But the risk is manageable if we can helpthe Musharraf government focus on this threat, as Russia has done in theNunn-Lugar cooperative threat reduction program.
Unless we follow such a course, we face the very real possibility ofterrorist militias obtaining not just blueprints but the materials tofashion and detonate weapons of mass destruction. We also risksharpening the debate in Pakistani military and political circles aboutwhether its nuclear expertise should be shared with other Muslimcountries. It is hard to think of two developments that are less in ourinterest. return to menu
C. Nuclear Terrorism
1. Bin Laden's Nuclear Ambitions- And Fears
Mark Hosenball, Michael Isikoff, Daniel Klaidman
December 3, 2001
(for personal use only)
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld recently said it was "unlikely"that Osama bin Laden's terrorist network had a nuclear weapon. But U.S.officials are leaving nothing to chance. NEWSWEEK has learned that overthe last several years, Customs inspectors who check cargo at U.S. entryports have been quietly equipped with pagers containing a specialfeature: a Geiger counter that sounds whenever an inspector is near asource of radioactivity.
About 4,000 inspectors have been given the belt-mounted beepers. So far,no wayward nukes have been discovered entering the country. But AmericanCustoms officials have also distributed pagers to officers in severalformer Soviet republics. On at least one occasion, foreign cops used thebeepers to spot an illicit shipment of radioactive cobalt to Iran.
Although no specific threat of atomic terror against the United Stateshas been received, Customs Commissioner Robert Bonner says, "I think wehave to take the nuclear threat seriously." His inspectors are on whathe calls "Level One" alert. Within the last month, they got a tip that asea container was headed into a U.S. port carrying weapons of massdestruction. Inspectors descended on the container, Geiger counters atthe ready, but came up empty.
Despite the discovery of purported nuclear manuals in Al Qaeda safehouses in newly liberated Kabul, U.S. intelligence officials say thereis still no persuasive evidence that the bin Laden network has acquiredthe know-how to explode a nuclear bomb. They are, however, worried thatAl Qaeda operatives could build a "dirty bomb," in which they would tryto contaminate a wide area by blowing up a cache of chemical, biologicalor even nuclear materials with conventional explosives, spreadingradioactive fallout, germs or nerve gas to the four winds.
One former Qaeda member testified earlier this year about repeatedattempts by bin Laden to purchase uranium on the open market. Officialssay the former Soviet stockpile remains a particular source of concern:about 60 percent is not properly safeguarded.
During the 1990s, quantities of "weapons usable" nuclear materialssufficient to irradiate a significant area (but too small to make abomb) were seized from would-be smugglers in Russia and other Europeancountries including Germany, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria, U.S.intelligence officials say. Among the materials targeted by smugglersare various grades of uranium, including bomb-grade material, and smallquantities of deadly plutonium.
According to intelligence sources, bin Laden has also been preparing fora chemical or biological attack. German intelligence officials have toldthe United States that right before September 11, bin Laden ordered 200gas masks and another 200 spacesuits designed to protect against attackswith chemical or biological weapons. The suits were supposedly deliveredto bin Laden by one of his sons-in-law about a week before the 11th at ahideout near Milava, Afghanistan.
Western intelligence officials believe that bin Laden bought the suitsbecause he feared a chemical or biological onslaught by the UnitedStates or its allies, not because he is planning to launch such anattack on Western forces. Some U.S. officials warn that the story aboutbin Laden's gas-mask purchase should be taken with "a grain of salt." return to menu
2. Experts Fear bin Laden Has Nukes
The Associated Press
November 28, 2001
(for personal use only)
While there is no proof Osama bin Laden has nuclear weapons, a widerange of international analysts say he has been trying to acquire themfor years and may have succeeded, or be close.
Even experts who think bin Laden's al-Qaida network does not have anatomic bomb say it's best to assume it does and prepare for its possibleuse.
The scale and sophistication of the terror attacks on the World TradeCenter and Pentagon, for which bin Laden is the main suspect, meannothing can ever again be ruled out, no matter how nightmarish, theysay.
``The Sept. 11 attacks certainly take us a lot closer to a nuclearpossibility,'' said Paul Wilkinson, an expert on terrorism at St.Andrews University in Scotland.
Fanatical terrorists ``might resort to this kind of mass destructionweapon and we have to take that seriously,'' he said.
U.S. Army Gen. Tommy Franks, commander of U.S. military operationsagainst the Taliban and al-Qaida, said Tuesday that U.S. officials hadidentified more than 40 sites in Afghanistan where bin Laden's networkmay have been researching nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.
He said the sites were still being tested for evidence that any weaponof mass destruction had actually been produced.
Many experts fear bin Laden has a ``dirty bomb'' or could quicklyconstruct one. Not capable of producing a nuclear explosion, a dirtybomb would use conventional explosives to spread radioactive materialover a wide area and make it uninhabitable. It could be made from easilyacquired low-grade nuclear material, such as isotopes for medicine andindustry.
``The problems in finding materials for a dirty bomb practically do notexist,'' said Dmitry Kovchegin of the Center for Policy Studies inMoscow.
Bin Laden has boasted of having weapons of mass destruction. The U.S.and other Western governments say there is no evidence he has a nuclearweapon, but officials acknowledge it can't be ruled out.
``Inevitably, it will happen eventually,'' said Dr. Frank Barnaby, anuclear physicist who specializes in nuclear terrorism studies at theOxford Research Group, a private think tank in Oxford, England.
Analysts who doubt bin Laden has a nuclear bomb don't think al-Qaida hasthe skill to develop such weapons. Plans for an atomic bomb found inKabul, reported recently by the British press, appear to have been anold spoof from a humor journal that al-Qaida may have mistaken forgenuine diagrams.
But even the skeptical experts won't rule out the possibility bin Ladenhas the bomb.
``Making a bomb and getting it somewhere is a low likelihood scenario,but the consequences if they did are extremely high, so that pushes therisk level up. So I would say the risk level is medium,'' said CliveWilliams, a terrorism expert at Australian National University.
Experts have worried for years that acquiring or building a nuclearweapon of some kind is a much greater possibility since the collapse ofthe Soviet Union.
Criminals have been caught smuggling nuclear material out of Russia.There are numerous, unverified reports of nuclear weapons being sold ormisplaced. Russian officials admit security at their nuclear facilitiesis often poor. There is concern penniless nuclear scientists might behired by outsiders to develop weapons.
``Undoubtedly the disintegration of such a huge state as the U.S.S.R.created temptations and it would seem strange if nobody took advantageof them. Such organizations as al-Qaida have enough money and organizingskills to do it,'' said Vladimir Lukin, a vice speaker ofthe Duma, the lower chamber of the Russian parliament.
Nuclear weapons in the arsenals of the United States, Russia and theother nuclear powers can only be operated with codes. Even if bin Ladenhas an ex-Soviet weapon, he is unlikely to have the code to detonate it,experts say.
Analysts are divided over the chances of terrorists building a nuclearbomb. Some say it is easier than generally realized. Others counter thatIraq apparently failed to build a bomb despite a $10 billion effortlasting years.
Barnaby said an atomic bomb can be built fairly easily using highlyenriched uranium. Only Pakistan uses this material to build atomicbombs, which is worrisome, he said, because of known links between binLaden and some former Pakistani nuclear scientists.
But if bin Laden had a nuclear weapon, wouldn't he have used it?
Analysts aren't so sure, saying terrorists traditionally build upattacks to heighten terror, so a nuclear attack might be saved for afinal blow. The collapse of al-Qaida in Afghanistan could increase thechances, they say.
``They would want to keep things up their sleeves. Terrorists need toescalate attacks. They have to notch it up all the time,'' said Barnaby.
``The next natural move would be a nuclear terrorist act.'' return to menu
D. NATO-Russian Relations
1. Robertson tells Russia that Nato will grow
November 23, 2001
(for personal use only)
Lord Robertson, Nato secretary general, on Thursday told senior Russiandiplomats the alliance intended to go ahead with enlargement next yearand it was not in Russia's interests to oppose it.
In one of the clearest statements to date on the issue, Lord Robertsonsaid in speeches made in the south-eastern city of Volgograd and laterin Moscow that enlargement was going to take place next year.
This is despite concern among the Russian defence ministry - especiallyamong the General Staff - that a Nato enlargement that would include theBaltic states would have security implications for Russia.
"Nato will issue invitations to some new members next year," said LordRobertson. Enlargement, he added would not "translate into a net lossfor Russia".
"A state that joins a co-operative Nato will itself become part of thisco-operative momentum," he said. "Russia will benefit as a result. Thenotion of a 'new dividing line' is a myth. We are not a threat to youand we do not consider and we do not consider you to be a threat to us."
The venue for the next stage of Nato enlargement to the Baltics would bethe Prague summit of Nato leaders scheduled next November. Between nowand then, said Nato diplomats, the alliance and Russia would make a realpush to upgrade their relations.
The current relationship between Nato and Russia is based on the 1997Permanent Joint Council, a monthly forum in which Russia and the 19other Nato ambassadors discuss a wide range of issues.
For Russia, the PJC has insufficient weight. All decisions, said seniorRussian officials, were pre-arranged among the 19 Nato ambassadors. Inany case, Sergei Kislyak, Russia's ambassador to Nato, said, Russia hadno real input in the sense that it could not block decisions.
The fear among some Nato countries is that if the PJC was upgraded so asto include Russia automatically with the other ambassadors for certainissues, it could exercise a veto.
"How can we be sure that Russia will not block certain things? Andbesides, if Russia can join the other 19 ambassadors, does that not giveit an entry ticket into Nato even though it has done nothing to tackleis own defence reforms?" asked another senior Nato diplomat.
Lord Robertson spent the morning in Volgograd, formerly known asStalingrad, where he paid tribute to Russia's second world war dead.Located 1,000km south-east of Moscow, and the site of a decisive andbrutal siege, the city remains symbolic of Russia's sacrifice in the waragainst the Nazis.
Lord Robertson delivered a speech to students at the city's TechnicalUniversity, saying it was time to explain to "ordinary people" in Russiawhat Nato was about.
The students could not get enough. Even before he took the podium todeliver a speech and answer questions, they were desperate to know moreabout an alliance demonised by former Soviet leaders.
Lord Robertson tried to answer scores of questions. He was constrictedby time as much as the system. Students had to send their writtenquestions - traditional Soviet style - on pieces of paper to auniversity administrator who then selected them. "We just want to knowwhere we are going," said Andrei, 17 years old. "Can Nato tell us?" return to menu
2. Blair seeks closer Russia-Nato Links
November 19, 2001
(for personal use only)
Tony Blair, British prime minister, has set out ambitious proposals formuch closer co-operation in security issues between Russia and the Natoalliance.
Though his suggestions stop short of advocating Russian membership ofNato, they are likely to be controversial for some European governmentsthat believe London's calls for a "step-change" in Nato-Russianrelations are premature.
Mr Blair has sent a letter to Lord Robertson, Nato secretary general,who is due to visit Moscow in the next few days for talks with PresidentVladimir Putin. The UK proposals have also been sent to other Natoleaders.
Lord Robertson, a former UK defence secretary, is also enthusiasticabout building links with Moscow and has been discussing with Mr PutinNato assistance in much-needed reforms of the Russian armed forces,which still harbour deep Soviet-era suspicions of the alliance.
British officials say the Nato-Russia Permanent Joint Council, whichmeets monthly at the alliance's Brussels headquarters, is a "talkingshop" that has achieved little. Mr Blair wants to replace it with a"Russia North Atlantic Council" giving Moscow much closer and morepractical involvement in Nato affairs.
The new body could discuss security co-operation in the fight againstterrorism, countering proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,peace support operations and dealing with new threats. It could lead toNato and Russia taking joint action, for example in the Balkans.
It could also foster collaboration in technical areas of defence such astransport, communications, joint exercises, civil emergency planning andmodernisation of armed forces.
Officials said the ideas built on collaboration since September 11,under which Russia has shared intelligence and co-operated in other wayswith the west. Mr Blair and Mr Putin have spoken seven times bytelephone and met once since the crisis began. UK officials also notedthe warm relations between Mr Putin and President George W. Bush at thisweek's summit.
"This does imply a very marked change in the way we do business," one UKofficial said. Britain recognised Russia and Nato countries would stillhave differences - such as on missile defence - but "we have to stopseeing any of these issues as zero-sum games". Russia would not takepart in the military structure of Nato and would not have a veto overNato's actions.
The proposals appeared to fall in with Mr Putin's desire for Nato tobecome a more political organisation concerned with security policyissues. However, some European diplomats believe there has beeninsufficient consultation within Nato about Russia and that there can beno "half-way house" between taking part in Nato decision-making and notdoing so. return to menu
E. Russian-Iranian Relations
1. The Iran Game: How will Tehran's nuclear ambitions affect our budding partnership?
Seymour M. Hersh
The New Yorker
November 26, 2001
(for personal use only)
The Islamic Republic of Iran, depicted by the State Department as one ofthe world's most active sponsors of state terrorism, has also emerged asone of America's newestand most surprisingallies in the war againstOsama bin Laden and Al Qaeda. Another new ally has been Russia. And oneof our oldest allies doesn't like it.
On October 24th, more than two weeks after the American air war began,Israel sent a government delegation to Washington for official talks.The delegation included Gideon Frank, the director-general of theIsraeli Atomic Energy Commission, and Major General Uzi Dayan, the headof Israel's National Security Council, and its purpose was to warn theAmericans, not for the first time, about new evidence of Iran's effortsto become, with Russia's help, the world's next nuclear power.
The Israeli message, as a participant summarized it, wascharacteristically blunt: the Iranian atomic-bomb program was makingrapid progress, and something had to be done about it. As far as theIsraelis were concerned, this meant that the Bush Administration shouldput Russia's support for Iran at the top of its foreign-policy agenda.
The warning poses a dilemma for the Bush Administration. Iran, which ispredominantly Shiite, and has long-standing religious and political tiesto Afghanistan (the Afghan population is about one-sixth Shiite), hasoffered to let American search-and-rescue helicopters stage operationsfrom bases on its soil and has relayed sensitive intelligence fromAfghanistan to the United States. According to one former Americanintelligence official, Ismail Khan, the Northern Alliance leader whosetroops reclaimed the western city of Herat, is known to have been acovert asset of Iran's two intelligence services, the IslamicRevolutionary Guard Corps and theMinistry of Intelligence and Security. Both organizations have beenavowedly anti-American since the seizure of the American Embassy inTehran, in 1979, and their collaboration with the American war effort isseen as striking evidence of a larger shift toward moderation.
Since the terrorist attacks of September 11th, President MohammadKhatami of Iran, a reformer who is seeking to improve relations withWashington, has repeatedly criticized bin Laden's interpretation ofIslam and said that if the Palestinian people chose to recognizeIsrael's right to exist Iran would respect their wishes. The Americanintelligence community, however, is unsure of the extent of Khatami'sindependence from Iran's conservative religious leaders. The mullahsremain in control of the country's intelligence services, which financeand work closely with Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations thatoperate inside Israel.
Iran's secret push for the bomb and the support it has received fromRussia are being closely monitored by American intelligence agencies,and American and Israeli officials have been meeting in secret since themid-nineteen-nineties to share information on the nuclear program.(Israel has had a nuclear arsenal for decades, although it has neverpublicly acknowledged this.)
Iran has always denied that it is trying to build a bomb. ("I hate thisweapon," President Hashemi Rafsanjani, Khatami's predecessor, told "60Minutes" in 1997.) Nonetheless, many American and Israeli intelligenceofficials estimate that Iran is only three to five years away fromhaving launchable warheads. The immediate question is whether thecountry has passed the point of no returnthe point where its domesticcapability can no longer be derailed by export controls or interdictionof potential suppliers. "They're closer to that point than we should becomfortable aboutand the fact that we can't pin it down also makes meuncomfortable," one American intelligence officer told me. For now,intelligence officials believe, Iran's biggest hurdle is thelaborious process of producing weapons-grade material. However, if Iransomehow managed to acquire fissile material on the Russian black market,all the careful American and Israeli intelligence estimates would beirrelevant.
Following the pattern set by Pakistananother American ally in the waragainst the TalibanIran established a maze of covert companies toconceal its nuclear program. In the last two years, according to aformer senior Pentagon official, intelligence services have observed"extensive digging" in Iran as nuclear engineers rushed to constructhidden production facilities. "We know that they're going deep andclandestine," the former official said. An Israeli official confirmedthat the hidden sites "are spread all around the country." The Iraniansapparently hope to minimize the potential damage from what anotherAmerican intelligence official called "theIsraeli version of counterproliferation"a preëmptive air strike. (In1981, the Israeli Air Force attacked and destroyed a new Iraqi reactor afew months before it was scheduled to come on line.)
A European diplomat who has undertaken sensitive United Nationsassignments in Iran for the past two decades called Iran's push for thebomb "contradictory behavior." He said, "This is the time to call theirbluff. This is a time for the U.S. to really make or break it withIran."
Iran began its pursuit of nuclear weapons in the mid-nineteen-seventies,when Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, flush with oil money, ambition, andAmerican support, set up the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran andannounced that his kingdom would construct twenty-three nuclear powerreactors. The Shah invested an estimated six billion dollars in nuclearprojects, and Siemens, the West German conglomerate, completed more thanhalf the construction needed for the installation of two reactors atBushehr, near the Persian Gulf. Thousands of Iranians were abroad,studying physics and related subjects. American intelligence reportsindicated that the Shah also planned to build a nuclear bomb; anuclear-weapons design team had been set up,and covert efforts were made to acquire the materials and know-hownecessary to produce weapons.
This effort came to an abrupt end in 1979, when the Shah was overthrown.The government was, eventually, taken over by the ProvisionalRevolutionary Government, headed by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. In"Going Nuclear," a 1987 study of the spread of nuclear weapons, theproliferation expert Leonard S. Spector noted presciently that ifAmerican policymakers had understood more about the power of Muslimfundamentalism and anti-American sentiment in Iran they might have actedmore aggressively to keep the Shah's nuclear assets out of the newgovernment's hands. Nonetheless, throughout the nineteen-eighties thereseemed to be little reason for official concern, as Iran and Iraq foughta devastating war that weakened both. Iran's nuclear programs wereessentially shut down, and the half-completed buildings at Bushehr werebadly damaged in an Iraqi bombing raid.
The war ended in 1988, with Iran's defeat. The ruling mullahs turnedonce again to West Germany and Siemens, but the German government, underpressure from Washington"Death to America" was still the Iranianrallying crydecided to end its nuclear involvement in Iran. At thetime, Iran and the Soviet Union's mutual antagonism to the United Statesdid not translate into a close relationship with each other.During theIran-Iraq war, the Soviet Unionwhich shared a twelve-hundred-mileborder with Iranhad been Iraq's main supporter and its most importantarms supplier. After Ayatollah Khomeini's death, in 1989, however, theIranian religious leadership turned for help to China and also, in amajor geopolitical shift, the Soviet Union, and signed a comprehensivearms and trade agreement with the Soviets that included coöperation onthe "peaceful uses of atomic energy." The new alliance fit Moscow'sneeds well, coming when the Soviet Union was in the final stages ofimperial and economic collapse.
The Yeltsin government agreed to rebuild Iran's bombed-out facilities atBushehr, and, in 1995, the two countries signed aneight-hundred-million-dollar contract under which the Russians wouldhelp install a powerful reactor there, to be run by a Russian-Iranianteam. Since then, a vast complex of buildings has been constructed atthe site. Russia also began a training program for Iranian physicistsand technicians, and set up clinics on how to operate a nuclear powerplant.
Intelligence officials told me, however, that Iran's most importantnuclear production facilities are not at Bushehr, which is open tointernational inspection by the Vienna-based International Atomic EnergyAgency, but scattered throughout the country, at clandestine sites,under military control. The clandestine facilities have not been"declared"that is, they are not subject to I.A.E.A. inspection. Oneimportant hidden site is believed to be at the Sharif University ofTechnology, in Tehran, which allegedly serves as a procurement front andresearch center for the bomb program. An American officer who has workedclosely with Israeli intelligence told me that at one point in the earlynineties the Israelis traced a flow of illicit high-tech materials fromGerman manufacturers to Iran, and determined that Sharif wasas he putit"the secret place."
More troubling intelligence came in the late nineties, when it waslearned from sensitive sources that Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, who directedthe Pakistani nuclear program from the nineteen-seventies until hisretirement, earlier this year, made at least one secret visit to anIranian nuclear facility. (He often travelled in disguise on suchtrips.) Khan is known to many in Pakistan as the father of the Pakistanibomba tribute to his ingenuity when, after secretly procuring plans forsophisticated gas centrifuges from Europe in the nineteen-seventies, hehad his laboratories producing weapons-grade uranium by themid-eighties. Khan was under American surveillance because he had madeclandestine visits to North Korea. American officials believe that hebrought no actual materials with him to Iranjust his years of hands-onexperience in bomb-making. "This guy moves around," one Americanintelligence official said of Khan. "He's in bad places at bad times."
The initial focus of American and Israeli intelligence was less onIran's progress in building the bomb than on what Iran might be able tobuy ready-made from Russia. After the breakup of the Soviet Union, in1991, Russian military officers, whose forces were starved for cash,sometimes proved willing to sell off weapons, including missiles, toalmost anyone. Economic despair also struck Russia's Ministry of AtomicEnergy, known as Minatom, the huge enterprise that ran the ten closednuclear cities where, during the Cold War, nuclear warheads werefabricated and weapons-grade uranium and plutoniummore than a thousandtonswere produced. Minatom was responsible for maintaining and, later,dismantling Russia's huge arsenal of nuclear weapons. But by 1998 theRussian government was funding only about twenty per cent of Minatom'soperating expenses, and thousands of scientists and technicians in theclosed cities were going unpaid for months at a time. Russian mobsters,taking advantage of the poverty and disarray of post-Soviet Russia, gotinto the business of buying military equipment and selling it to thirdparties.
For many in Russia's military-industrial complex, these off-the-booksdeals are windfalls. "They make moneya lot of money," a former Americanintelligence officer explained. The military leadership, he said, isfilled with generals carrying old resentments"a bunch ofunreconstructed assholes who don't understand that the Cold War isover." He went on, "If you're an unreconstructed Russian general whothinks all evil begins and ends with the United States, you help out aregional friend. The military was a state within a state under Yeltsin.The biggest problem facing the new guy"Vladimir Putin, who replacedYeltsin at the end of 1999"is how to get control of the military."
Iran is believed to have made a serious effort in the earlynineteen-nineties to buy specialized materials for nuclear weapons froma factory in newly independent Kazakhstan. According to WilliamCourtney, who was the first American Ambassador to Kazakhstan, a team ofAmerican weapons experts from the United States Embassy and the OakRidge National Laboratory inadvertently stumbled onto the planned dealin 1994, when they were called to the factory to inspect a cache ofhighly enriched uranium that Kazakhstan had offered for sale to theUnited States. The uranium, Courtney recalled, was to be made into fuelrods for the reactors inSoviet nuclear submarines but had been "left behind" when the SovietUnion collapsed. "The Soviets just forgot about it," Courtney said.Along with the uranium, the experts found piles of packaged materialsmarked for shipment to Iran. Courtney explained that the Kazakhstanislater acknowledged that the Iranians had approached them about buyingthe goods, but claimed that they had decided against making the deal.Whatever the truth, the discovery heightened American eagerness to getall the materials out of Kazakhstan, and, in a clandestine operation,the uranium was turned over to the United States for a larger share offoreign aid.
Another American intelligence official offered a cynical view of theRussians. "They have real disdain for the indigenous capability of theIranians," the official said, adding that by the early nineties theRussians were reasoning that the Iranian program, which was then headedby a bureaucrat, was poorly run, and that any sale of high-techequipment was unlikely to lead anywhere. "Four lab assistants wererunning the program, and they were all dropouts from Florida State," aC.I.A. operative joked. In 1997, however, after Khatami was electedPresident, the Iranian operation was put under the aegis of GholamrezaAghazadeh, a former oil minister who also served as Khatami'sVice-President. "It's better nowmore focussed and moving ahead," theintelligence official told me.
In June of 1995, Vice-President Al Gore visited Moscow and negotiated anagreement with Viktor S. Chernomyrdin, the Russian Prime Minister. Thepact protected Russia from economic sanctions in return for a pledgethat Moscow would cease all deliveries of conventional arms to Iran bythe end of 1999. There was also a personal pledge, an aide who wasinvolved told me, from President Yeltsin to President Clinton assuringhim that the Russians would not provide sensitive nuclear technology toIran. The Russian promise proved to be meaningless: Russia's support forIran, both overt and covert, continued.
Soon afterward, the United States and Israel began holding meetings todiscuss the Iranian nuclear threat and other security issues. TheAmerican team was headed by Leon Fuerth, the national-security adviserto Vice-President Gore. The Israeli delegation was usually led by apolicy adviser from the Prime Minister's office, and always included oneor two military-intelligence officers.
The Israelis continued to produce what they insisted was solid evidenceof Russian complicity in the Iranian missile and nuclear program. In onecase, Israeli and American intelligence agencies tracked the activitiesof a Russian military team as it took control of a mothballed productionfacility that made SS-4 missiles, which are capable of carrying nuclearwarheads twelve hundred and fifty miles, and shipped it, "piece bypiece," as one former American intelligence officer put it, to Iran.Chernomyrdin subsequently denied that Moscow had authorized theshipment. (According to a 1999 report in Jane's Defence Weekly, anupgraded version of the SS-4 missile, known as the Shehab 4, was beingdeveloped as part of the Iranian arsenal.)
The American meetings with the Israelis were often tense. The Israelidelegation was unsparing in its criticism of the Russians and in itsinsistence that the United States put more pressure on Moscow to cut offthe supply route to Iran. The Clinton Administration, according to theIsraelis, persisted in viewing Russia's ties to Iran as a mereby-product of corruption, greed, and lack of state control in acollapsing economy; the Israelis argued instead that the nuclear saleswere part of a larger Russian strategy to begin regaining superpowerstatus and to enlist Iran's assistance in dealing with the export ofIslamic fundamentalism.
"From the start, the Israelis took the view that Russia must want Iranto have a long-range-missile capability," a former State Departmentofficial told me. "Otherwise, why not stop it?" He went on to say,however, that "over time the Israelis began to see just how screwed upthe Russians' controls were." Nonetheless, "the Israelis were almostshrill. The implication was 'You Americans have other fish to fry withthe Russians, and are not giving enough attention to our securityrequirements.' "
Throughout its second term, the Clinton Administration continued toemphasize publicly the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's regime inIraqan emphasis that tended to take the pressure off Iran. "It wasalways a question of priority," a former Pentagon official recalled."NATO expansion was a more important issue, and there was Bosnia,Kosovo, and Chechnya."
In Leon Fuerth's White House office, meanwhile, there were some smallsuccesses in the struggle to contain Russian greed and prevent Iran fromgetting the atomic bomb. With help from the Mossad, the Israeliintelligence agency, U.S. officials isolated a group of privatecompanies in Germany, Ukraine, and the Czech Republic that were willingto sell nuclear technology to questionable customers, and persuaded themto discontinue their Iranian contacts. Other potential trading partnerswere discouraged from doing business with Iran through diplomaticinitiatives, economic sanctions or aid, and political arm-twisting.Putin responded to American pressure and changed the leadership of thestill troubled Minatom. But by the end of the decade the average pay forskilled scientists in Minatom had diminished to subsistencelevelshardly a deterrent to the sale of fissile material that could endup on the international black market.
George W. Bush's election, last year, led to a suspension of themeetings regarding Iran between the United States and Israeli officials.One former official explained that both sides had been reluctant tocontinue them. "When Bush took over, it dropped off the White Houseradar screen," the former official said. "And the Israelis really didn'tpush it with the new guys. Part of it may have been that the new guysneeded time. And part of it may have been the intifada"the renewedguerrilla war between Israel and the Palestinians. Another official saidthat the Israelis simply "pulled their punches" in the early days of theBush Presidency. (As it happens, the Bush Administration's 2002 budgetproposal called for dramatically reducing the outgoing ClintonAdministration's allocation for programs aimed at safeguarding theRussian nuclear stockpile.)
One factor was the Bush Administration's determination to persuade Putinto drop the 1972anti-ballistic-missile treaty and join Washington in constructing aworldwide missile-defense system. Furthermore, a former Pentagonofficial noted, many in Russia believed that "Iran was going to getthere anyway"develop a bomb"with North Korean or Chinese help. Why,then, invest a huge effort when it would secure Russian interests to befriendly with Iran? It wasn't clear that changing Russian behavior wouldchange the Iranian program."
In the past year, according to American officials, Israel assembledevidence showing that at least two Russian export companies havecontinued illicit shipments to Iran of highly specialized aluminum andsteel products that are essential for the assembly and operation ofcentrifuges. Ariel Sharon, the Israeli Prime Minister, apparentlydecided on a two-pronged approach: the formal talks with Washingtonwould be renewed and reënergized, if possible, and Sharon himself wouldfly to Moscow and confront Putin with new evidence of Russiancomplicity.
According to Israeli officials, Sharon met with Putin in earlySeptember, a few days before the terrorist attacks in New York andWashington, and turned over explicit information on the private Russiansale of nuclear-related materials to Iran. Initially, the Russiangovernment insisted that the materials were for ordinary industrial use,but it promised to investigate the matter. One Israeli official told me,"The Russians, after checking, got back to us and you"Israel and theUnited States"and said, 'This was stopped.' We knew it wasn't stopped,and that the materials reached Tehran. We also know that Putin was liedto." The Israelis remain hopeful about future relations with Putin, whohas spoken warmly about the one million Russian Jewsliving in Israel. An Israeli official told me, "Sharon, in his meetingswith Putin, made it clear that this"the Iranian bomb"was anexistential issue for Israel. Putin understands it, but he doesn't thinkthe Iranians are up to it." Meanwhile, he added, hundreds of Iraniansare continuing to get advanced training in missile- andnuclear-production technology at Russian institutions.
The Israelis returned to Washington in October with a delegation thatincluded Dan Meridor, Minister Without Portfolio, along with GideonFrank and Major General Dayan. Their contact was no longer Fuerth butJohn Bolton, the Under-Secretary of State for Arms Control andInternational Security. The Israelis found Washington preoccupied withIraq, with the coming war against Osama bin Laden and the Taliban, andwith its newfound allies in the war against terrorism. Nearly a dozenIranian diplomats were assassinated in Mazar-e-Sharif by the Taliban in1998, two years after they seized power there, and Iran was eager toprotect its political interestsand its borders. Pakistan, widelybelieved to have provided Iran with essential data onbomb design, was suddenly America's most important ally in South Asia,and the best rewarded financially. And Putin joined British PrimeMinister Tony Blair in providing repeated public endorsements of theAdministration's tactics and repeated public praise for President Bush.
One former U.S. intelligence official said that the Israelis had come toWashington to renew their warnings about the Iranian bomb, in part,because they "think it's the only way they're going to get anybody'sattention in the Bush Administration." The Administration's intelligencerelationship with Iran was reminiscent, he added, of America's decisionto side with Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war. "We gave the Iraqisintelligence support, and look at the monster we created there. Today,we're being led down the same path in Iran." Even Israel's mostskeptical critics in the American intelligence communityand there aremanynow acknowledge that there isa serious problem.
In formal evaluations, the American intelligence community lists Iran asposing a more immediate nuclear-proliferation threat than Iraq."Everyone knows that Iran is the next one to proliferateto possess anuclear weapon," an American nuclear-intelligence analyst told me. "Iranhas been the No. 1 concern about who's next for the last couple of yearsat the highest level of the government." He pointed out that, after theGulf War, the much criticized United Nations inspection program had"shut down Iraq's nuclear program to a large extent." The Iraqis, hewent on, "have the knowledgethey could very quickly get back up tospeed, but the international community isn't letting them do that.They're not as far along as Iran." Iran's drive for the bomb, he said,"is not going to be resolved by export controls and diplomacy."
The Bush Administration continues to concentrate on the threat posed bySaddam Hussein's Iraq. "It's more important to deal with Iraq than withIran, because there's nothing going on in Iraq that's going to getbetter," a senior Administration strategist told me. "In Iran, thepeople are openly defying the government. There's some hope that Iranwill get better. But there's nothing in Iraq that gives you any hope,because Saddam rules so ruthlessly. What will we do if he providesanthrax to four guys in Al Qaeda?" He said, "If Iraq is out of thepicture, we will concentrate on Iran in an entirely different way."
Iran's help in the war in Afghanistan, and many of its internaldevelopmentsfrom growing discontent with religious strictures to theincreasing participation of women in political lifeare encouraging toU.S. officials. But, one American official told me, it is alsounderstood in Washington that Iran will continue to pursue the bomb, andthat Russia will continue to help. "Even if Thomas Jefferson becamePresident, Iran is going to go nuclear," he said.
Some Israeli officials privately acknowledge that the extent of the BushAdministration's resolve in derailing the Iranian effort to build a bombwill be tied to the progress and outcome of the war on terrorism. "It'sgoing to depend on how much success you have with Osama bin Laden," oneIsraeli official said. "If the terror continues, there is no alternativefor the U.S. but to go to Iran for help." An American four-star generaldepicted the issue of priorities in more graphic terms. "We'll tell thePakistanis and the Russians to back off their help for Iran's bomb," hesaid, "but that's Chapter 2, after we put our boy"bin Laden"in a bodybag." return to menu
2. Factory Delivers Reactor to Iran
St. Petersburg Times
November 20, 2001
(for personal use only)
On Friday, the Izhorskiye Zavody metallurgical plant shipped the firstcomponent for a reactor that is to be built at the Bushehr Nuclear PowerStation in Iran.
The 317-ton reactor body, which is being delivered under a $1-billioncontract with the power station signed in 1996, is the first that Russiahas made for Iran.
"We are happy that the three-year-long construction of the reactor hasbeen completed and wish to thank the plant's workers for the work theyhave done," Mohammed Reza Zahertar, a representative of the Iran AtomicEnergy Organization, said at a ceremony at the plant marking theshipment of the new reactor body.
The reactor body is the first to be completed at the Izhorskiye plantsince 1987. In the 40-year period leading to the pause, the plant hadbuilt 200 reactor bodies.
The reactor built for Iran will have an energy-production capacity of1,000 megawatts once it is operational.
The reactor body is 13.7 meters in height, with a thickness of more than20 centimeters, and is able to withstand internal pressures equal to 160atmospheres and an average temperature from the thermal carrier locatedat the exit of the reactor of 322 degrees-celsius.
The reactor body is just one item for the reactor being manufacturedunder contract for Iran, and Izhorskiye Zavody will provide 34 otheritems, including fuel-cycle equipment and other support-system items.
The deal with Iran is not the only nuclear project in which the plant ispresently involved, as it is also under contract to construct twosimilar reactor bodies for a nuclear-power station in China. The firstis to be shipped in December and the second in the middle of next year.
Yevgeny Sergeyev, the general director of Izhorskiye Zavody, said thatthe plant also has orders to construct two 1,000 megawatt reactors forthe Indian nuclear power plant at Kudankulam. Work on that project is tobegin soon.
Officials from both the plant and the Iranian government refused tocomment on thefinancial terms of the agreement.
St. Petersburg Governor Vladimir Yakovlev, who attended the ceremony,said that local participation in the reconstruction of Slovakia'snuclear-power plants was discussed when he met with Slovakia'spresident, Rudolf Schuster, last week. return to menu
3. US Concerned About Russia-Iran Nuclear Project
November 18, 2001
(for personal use only)
State Department - The United States is again expressing concern aboutRussian nuclear cooperation with Iran - this as a Russian companyshipped to Iran Friday a key component for a nuclear power plant underconstruction on the Persian Gulf.
The U.S. comments followed a ceremony Friday in St. Petersburg in whicha Russian company officially sent off to Iran a 300-ton steel reactorbody for the Bushehr power plant being built, largely by Russiantechnicians, along the Persian Gulf coast.
Though both Russian and Iranian officials insist the plant will be usedonly for civilian purposes under international inspections, StateDepartment spokesman Philip Reeker reiterated U.S. concerns that theplant will give Iran both technical know-how and fissionable material toadvance a secret nuclear weapons effort.
"We believe Iran uses Bushehr as a cover for obtaining sensitivetechnologies to advance its nuclear weapons program," he said.
Mr. Reeker said he did not know if the issue was raised during PresidentBush's summit talks this week with Russian President Vladimir Putin, butsaid the United States has many channels through which to make itsobjections to the nuclear project known to Moscow. return to menu
F. Russian Nuclear Waste
1. Far East Gets $40M Plant to Handle Nuclear Waste
November 23, 2001
(for personal use only)
Grigory Pasko's dream has come true. Four years after the formermilitary journalist was jailed for blowing the whistle on the PacificFleet for dumping liquid radioactive waste in the Sea of Japan, afacility to process such waste officially opened Thursday in the FarEast.
But Pasko is not happy. "How could we be glad?" he said in a telephoneinterview. "I have seen its feasibility studies, and it is absolutelyoutdated because the project was launched eight years ago. Theinfrastructure is not ready. The constructors didn't even manage tobuild proper roads and railways."
The $40 million floating facility, called Landysh, is the fruit ofJapanese efforts and fundin g, with the participation of the UnitedStates, Britain, France and Norway. It is part of the Cooperative ThreatReduction program under the Nunn-Lugar Act passed by the U.S. Congressin the fall of 1991 and has a central role in Russia's implementation ofthe Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.
The Japanese Embassy said in a statement that the decision to build thefacility was made by Russia and Japan in 1993 "to prevent Russia dumpingradioactive waste in the Sea of Japan."
A Japanese-Russian committee for cooperation in the destruction ofnuclear weapons was created, and Japan provided $200 million. Theembassy information department was unable to explain what most of it wasspent on.
The facility is to process up to 7,000 cubic meters of liquid low-graderadioactive waste a year, extracted from decommissioned submarines. Themobile facility is on the territory of the Zvezda plant in the Primoryeregion town of Bolshoi Kamen -- a base for the Pacific Fleet's nuclearsubmarines. For a number of years Zvezda has been involved in thedisposal of decommissioned submarines, and for years the waste wassimply dumped in the sea or stored without processing.
Zvezda head Valery Maslakov said at the opening that the facility willprocess waste from up to eight nuclear submarines a year and the localworkload will keep it busy for six to seven years.
Deputy Nuclear Power Minister Alexander Lebedev said at a briefing inMurmansk in September that 188 nuclear submarines have beendecommissioned. About 80 are expected to be processed in the Far East.
Navy and Nuclear Power Ministry officials were unable to say how muchliquid radioactive waste is stored in the Far East and how much mayaccumulate per year from now on.
But Pasko said the Far East had 3,500 tons of waste, well below Zvezda'scapacity. Although the facility can be towed to other locations, Paskofears waste from Japan, Taiwan and Northern Korea will be brought to it.
"I am absolutely positive that after the law was passed that allowstransportation of spent nuclear fuel and the first fuel arrived fromBulgaria, we will soon start getting it from these three countries,"Pasko said. "And as the gates are open, the liquid waste will followit." return to menu
2. A Floating Complex for Processing Liquid Radioactive Waste
World Nuclear Association
November 21, 2001
(for personal use only)
A floating complex for processing liquid radioactive waste fromnuclear-poweredsubmarines was to be formally transferred from Japanese to Russianownership on 22 November. Russia has been operating the Landyshfacility, built under an agreement between the government of Russia andJapan, for more than a year. Landysh - built at a cost of some US$35million - has already processed about 800 cubic metres of waste during atest period and is expected to process 7000 cubic metres annually. return to menu
G. Nuclear Safety
1. Secret Trains
November 23, 2001
(for personal use only)
Although the transportation of radioactive materials has caused noaccidents in fifty years, Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov says thematter deserves close attention. According to him, tighter federalsafety standards will be introduced, and the public will get moreinformation about them to allay possible fears.
Some thirty trains and other vehicles carry radioactive materials acrossthe country each day. This year a plant in the country's north hassupplied the navy with 300 containers, each with a capacity of 1.4 cubicmeters, to carry and store radioactive waste from nuclear-poweredsubmarines. Each of them will remain intact if dropped from a height ofnine meters and can withstand a fire or even the impact of an aircraftcrashing into it. Although the containers have not been involved in anyaccidents so far, the government feels it important to strengthen safetyprecautions and ensure closer cooperation between federal departments(primarily the Atomic Energy Ministry and the Emergencies Ministry) onthe one hand, and regional agencies on the other. One of the measurescalls for the development of an automatic system of safe traffic.
In the opinion of First Deputy Atomic Energy Minister Valentin Ivanov,it is necessary to bring the laws of some regions prohibiting thetransportation of radioactive materials through their territory in linewith the federal law "On Atomic Energy." He insists that informationconcerning the transportation of radioactive materials should remainclassified. Further, he believes the Railways Ministry should be given aslap on the wrist for demanding prepayment for their services, therebyhelping unauthorized persons obtain information about the movement of atrain carrying radioactive waste. The government has agreed with thearguments and decided to "adopt appropriate measures to ensure limitedaccess to information concerning the physical protection of nuclearwaste and about the time and routes of its transportation."
Incidentally, "the greens" might get wind of such information and blockthe movement of "nuclear" trains. Ivanov recognized the threat ofemergency situations arising from "green" acts. For that reason, thecountry's law enforcement bodies must not allow crowds of ecologicalextremists to appear on railway tracks.
Numerous foreign "greens" are also ready to block trains in theircountries. Therefore, the government asked the Atomic Energy Ministryand other federal departments to "continue working on the agreement ontransit traffic across the territory of CIS countries, an agreement inaccord with the interests of the Russian Federation." return to menu
H. Russian Nuclear Development
1. Nuclear plant near Russian-Finnish border?
November 26, 2001
(for personal use only)
Finland is concerned over Russian Ministry's for Nuclear Energy(Minatom) plans for building a nuclear power plant near the Finnishborder. Minatom dreams to build a NPP in Finland.
Some days ago, Finnish Kainuun Sanomat daily reported, that RussianMinistry for Nuclear Energy (Minatom) is carrying out negotiations withthe Finnish Centre for Radiation and Nuclear Safety (STUK) on building anew nuclear power plant near Tiiksa (in Russian spelled Tiksha), avillage in the Muezersk district in Karelia, 60km from theRussian-Finnish border.
Kainun Sanomat quoted Hannu Koponen, the STUK director, as saying thatif built, the new power plant would have the capacity of 640 to1000 MW.For the first time, the idea of building a NPP near Tiiksa wasconsidered in 1980s, but then its capacity was to be up to 6000 MW.
"Yes, there were some ideas to build a NPP in Tiiksa in the early 1990s,some research was carried out, but the plans were rejected at the sametime," the press service of the Karelian government said to Bellona Web,deeply surprised with the news.
Mr Koponen told Bellona Web that he might have been misquoted (anarticle from the Kainuun Sanomat was sent to wires in Russian by Rosbaltnews agency). No negotiations for building a NPP in Karelia are carriedout at present, and Mr Koponen does not think a NPP may be constructedthere in the near future. But STUK keeps on watching the plans,connected with building of nuclear objects near the boarder. Mr Koponensaid that, according to his information, the Russian Nuclear Regulatoryhad already issued a licence, to expand two nuclear plants in immediatevicinity to Finland. Minatom plans to build two additional reactor unitsat Kola NPP, and one reactor unit at Leningrad NPP in Sosnovy Bor.
At present, there are about 640 inhabitants in Tiiksa, a half of themare pensioners. The whole Muezersk district has no harmful industries:the majority of its population is engaged in logging.
The pulp and paper industry is the most developed industry in Karelia.Natural conditions of Karelia resemble the ones of the neighbouringFinland, where producing of energy from the wood, the by-product of thementioned industry, has been promoted heavily during the last decade andhas increased its volume for more than 70%. In 1999 wood fuels supplied19,5 % of the Finnish energy consumption. In Karelia there are a lot ofthe same wood fuels. The alternative sources of energy seem to be muchmore preferable, than building a new nuclear giant.
Finnish Greenpeace campaigner, Harri Lammi, speaking on the plans tobuild new reactor units near the Finnish border told Bellona Web: "Thatconcerns interest of the Finnish public a lot. We don't understand, whyRussia doesn't use alternative sources of energy, which are safer? WhyRussia should invest in the expensive and potentially dangerous nuclearplants and doesn't think of energy efficiency, which would be the best?"
Will Minatom build NPP in Finland? Though, it seems that such a reaction of the neighbours does not confuseMinatom. Quite the contrary, last week the director of Atomstroiexport,one of Minatom's subdivisions, Victor Kozlov, said, Russia was going toparticipate in the tender for building a NPP in Finland, planned for thenext year. In his opinion, Russia has quite good chance to win thecontest.
The Atomstoiexport director bases his opinion on the fact that Russiaproposed to Finland to build a plant with the same models of VVERreactors, as Minatom is building now in China.
According to the Atomstroiexport information, in addition to Russia,Germany, France, the UK, and Sweden will take the bid as well.
But Atomstroiexport is obviously too much in a hurry. Sami Wilkman, a MPof the Green Group in the Finnish parliament, says to Bellona Web thatthe application for building the fifth Finnish reactor has not beenconsidered in the parliament yet, and will be evaluated not earlier thanin Spring or Summer 2002. No building can start before that.
The Finnish Greenpeace campaigner Harri Lammi thinks, it is unlikelythat the parliament will give green light for the nuclear power plant."The application was considered in 1993, and it hadn't passed. I don'tsee any reason, why should it pass now," he said, mentioning thatthe majority of the Finns object to the building.
Mr Lammi said, even if the parliamentary approval is granted, it willnot mean the construction start of the new NPP. The potential investors-Fortum and TVO - have not evaluated yet the cost efficiency of theproject. They are going to consider the question of investment onlyafter a positive decision is in place from the government and theparliament.
Energy production in Finland The share of the nuclear plants in the energy market in Finland hasrecently somewhat increased and now amounts to about 25%. The most partof the energy is produced by the hydroelectric power plants. Also,production of energy from the wood, the by-product of the pulp and paperindustry has increased its volume over the last decade by more than 70%.In 1999, wood fuels supplied 19,5 % of the Finnish energy consumption.At the same time, Finland keeps on importing Russian natural gas.
The capacity of Olkiluoto nuclear plant has been recently boosted by23%. The plant operates on two 660 MW Swedish boiling water reactors,commissioned in 1978 and 1980. It is now licensed to operate until 2018.Loviisa nuclear plant, built by the Soviet engineers, operates twoVVER-440 reactors, has increased output by almost 100 MWe (11%).
Near the Finnish border two Russian plants - Kola NPP (four VVER-440)and Leningrad NPP are situated (four RBMK-1000). Reactors of LeningradNPP are considered especially dangerous on account of theirChernobyl-like design characteristics. Different variants of buildingnew reactor units are being considered now, among the projects are a newtype MKER-1000 reactor, or two VVER-1500 reactors.
According to the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, during the lastdecade, Finland has allocated more than FM 800m for the transboundarycooperation programmes, pertaining to environmental protection, nuclearsafety, forestry and agriculture. return to menu
I. Russian Nuclear Scientists
1. Interview with a Bombmaker: Saddam Hussein's Former Atomic-Bomb Developer Says Iraq is on Course to Gain 'Full Nuclear Status' (excerpted)
November 21, 2001
(for personal use only)
Khidhir Hamza is a rarity: a high-level Iraqi defector with an insider'sknowledge ofSaddam Hussein's weapons capabilities. As he detailed in hisautobiography from last year, "Saddam's Bombmaker (with Jeff Stein),"Hamza was the overseer of Iraq's nuclear weapons program. In the 1960's,he studied nuclear physics at MIT and Florida State University but wasforced to return to Baghdad in the early 70s when the Iraqi governmentmade thinly-veiled threats against his parents.
You believe that with some Russian brainpower Hussein could go nuclear.Were there any Russian scientists working with you in Baghdad? Do youthink the West would know if Hussein had nuclear capabilities?
Russians worked in the chemical weapons program but until I left therewere no Russians in the nuclear program. However, I describe in my bookhow the Russian scientists were desperate for work when I visited Russiain 1990. Iraq did use a German engineer to help in the uraniumenrichment program in the late 80's. If Russian scientists are employed,Iraq can cut considerably the time needed to produce bomb grade uraniumin large quantities. I have no direct knowledge that this is happeningnow but I think this is a logical move that Iraq was considering forsometime. Saddam may choose to detonate one [a nuclear weapon]. Thiswill make him an instant hero in the Arab and Muslim world. And it willalso provide him with the deterrence he needs to have more of a freehand in the region.
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