1. Matching The Rhetoric At The Bush-Putin Summit: Real Nuclear Non-Proliferation Requires More Dollars And Political Capital
Kenneth N. Luongo
November 21, 2001
(for personal use only)
WASHINGTON -- Whether or not Osama Bin Laden and his terrorist networkhave actually acquired nuclear weapons or materials, one fact remainscrystal clear: The insecure stockpiles of nuclear, chemical, andbiological weapons, and related materials, technologies, and expertisethat exist in Russia and the former Soviet states still present anunacceptable potential pathway for terrorists to acquire weapons of massdestruction.
Post-September 11, one would think that countries around the world wouldnot hesitate to accelerate efforts to secure these deadly stockpiles assoon as possible. And, in fact, since the Pentagon and World TradeCenter attacks, numerous leaders and institutions around the world haveall underscored the need to prevent weapons of mass destruction fromfalling into the wrong hands. Most recently, at their summit meeting,Presidents Bush and Putin affirmed this goal as their "highestpriority."
But the rhetoric not been matched by action to address these newrealities. There have been no new U.S. or Russian commitments,resources, or political mechanisms that would accelerate U.S.-Russiannonproliferation cooperation. Regrettably, no substantial injection ofresources either monetary or political appears to be forthcoming. Infact, the White House initially cut funding for this agenda by $100million. And now National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice asserts thatthe cuts never happened.
Also, consider the $40 billion emergency supplemental funding packagethat was approved by Congress following the September 11 attacks to helpwith disaster recovery efforts, beef-up homeland defense efforts, andexpand other anti-terrorism activities. This is an enormous amount ofmoney, yet not a single dollar was requested by the President to enhanceWMD security in the former Soviet Union. Even more startling was thepromise of a veto by President Bush if congressional leaders bothRepublicans and Democrats move ahead with their plans to increase thesize of the supplemental package in order to accommodate emergencyfundingfor nonproliferation, among other things.
However, based on authoritative reports and analyses, the three areas ofhighest priority expanding security of Russian nuclear weapons andweapons-usable materials, improving Russian and FSU border security andexport controls, and facilitating the downsizing of the Russian nuclearweapons complex and preventing brain-drain could utilize an average ofroughly $500 million this year to greatly advance their activities.
Funding at this level would represent just over 1% of the totalsupplemental package by no means an excessive amount, and a smallprice to pay for greater security.
Providing increased financial resources is only half of the equation,however, when it comes to improving nuclear security in Russia. Theother component is political capital, and both Bush and Putin need toexpend some of it if nonproliferation cooperation is to improvesignificantly in the wake of September 11. Both Presidents are payinglip service to this agenda but the rhetoric is empty.
Over the past several years, serious problems have emerged in theimplementation of many cooperative nuclear security programs. Theabsence of adequate high-level political intervention has allowed theseproblems to fester, causing serious disputes to erupt between the U.S.and Russian implementing agencies on a number of projects. An example ofthis tension is disagreement on the issue of access by U.S. officials tosensitive Russian nuclear facilities where security assistance is beingrendered, to ensure that funds are being spent appropriately.
In recent years, the United States has hardened its demands for moreextensive access to sensitive Russian sites. Russia has resisted, overconcerns that U.S. intrusion could compromise classified information,and because Russian specialists have less access to U.S. nuclearfacilities than U.S. representatives do to Russia's. This tug-of-war hasthrown the brakes on implementation of several high-priority nuclearweapons and material security efforts, and it has fed an undercurrent ofmistrust and resentment on both sides.
Instructions from the White House and the Kremlin to their respectivebureaucracies to clear away the stumbling blocks that have clogged thisagenda could provide a needed impetus to this work a decade after itbegan, and hopefully allow it to be substantially completed on a muchmore rapid schedule then is now projected.
Over the past decade, the cooperative U.S.-Russian WMD security programshave built a long list of achievements. However, much more needs to bedone if both nations are to reduce and eliminate the threat of terroristacquisition of weapons of mass destruction. return to menu
B. U.S.-Russia Relations
1. "Bush-Putin Summit Creates Optimism For U.S.-Russian Relations"
November 28, 2001
(for personal use only)
"What happened after September 11th [changed bilateral relations] in avery fundamental way ... this time the [U.S. military target] was somebodythat the Russians hated as much as we did, if not more": Strobe TalbottStrobe Talbot, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State from 1994 through 2000,and current Director of Yale University's Center for the Study ofGlobalization speaks with The Russian Observer in an exclusive interviewon U.S. - Russian bilateral relations.
Gould: Washington has exuded tremendous optimism about U.S.-Russianrelations in wake of this month's summit between Presidents Bush andPutin - on a level I take it you'd have found hard to imagine during thelate Clinton years. How much of this optimism do you share? Has thesummit really signaled a new prospect for meaningful and lastingcooperation?
Talbott: Well, I'd put it a little bit differently. I see, not just thesummit, but the rather dramatic improvement in U.S.-Russian relationssince September 11 as a consolidation and acceleration of some positivetrends that have been there for a decade, going back to the first Bushadministration, and certainly that continued as a major theme throughthe Clinton administration.
The essential notion or premise of U.S.-Russian relations after the endof the Cold War was that - in some basic sense, or some very generalsense - the U.S. and Russia were on the same side, in a way that theycouldn't be when they were ideological and geo-political enemies. Andthat was, I think, the subtext of the Bush-Gorbachev relationship, theBush-Yeltsin relationship, the Clinton-Yeltsin relationship.
The problem with it was that the premise of partnership kept getting putto the test of international conflict in which the United States was the2000-pound gorilla, mobilizing an international coalition and goingafter some bad guy. And the principal bad guys were of course SaddamHussein and Slobodan Milosevic, and Russia had its own ties with both ofthem, and it had its own reasons for being neuralgic about Americanforce being used against them.
What happened after September 11th was that that changed in a veryfundamental way. There was a new international conflict; the UnitedStates once again used military force; but this time the target, or theenemy, was somebody that the Russians hated as much as we did, if notmore - because the territorial integrity of their own country was atstake, as they see it - and that just changed the underlying psychologyof U.S.-Russian relations in a way that Putin recognized instantly andcapitalized on.
So that's a long answer, but what I'm quarreling with is the notion thatthere was something new, either at Crawford or after September 11th. Itwasn't new; it was different, but it was different in a way that had alot of continuity with what had gone before.
Gould: A good deal of attention has been given, in the American media atany rate, to the apparent mutual friendliness between Bush and Putin.How significant to the realignment of U.S.-Russian relations do youthink this personal relationship actually is?
Talbott: I don't know how personal it is to these two individual humanbeings. What we're seeing vindicated here is a principle that we've seenvindicated many times, certainly going back to Bush-Gorbachev,Bush-Yeltsin, Clinton-Yeltsin - never quite with Clinton-Putin, becausePutin was basically waiting for the next guy. But certainly, with thefirst Bush and two Russian presidents and then with Clinton and oneRussian president, we have seen time and time again the importance ofpresidential diplomacy - which is to say, a strong working and personalrelationship between the Russian and American presidents. And that is -well, it's not only helpful, it's almost a prerequisite for having arelationship that works.
Gould: From a general security standpoint, how significant do you thinkthe agreed reduction in strategic arsenals is?
Talbott: I think it's very significant. The good news is good newsindeed. The United States has found a way of staying in the samequantitative zone with Russia while Russia does what it has to do foreconomic reasons anyway, and that is: cut back close to 1000 strategicwarheads. And that's good, because it makes it easier for the Russiansto do those cutbacks; it also sets a good example for other countries;it begins to fulfill an obligation that we have under theNon-Proliferation Treaty to reduce substantially our nuclear arsenals.
The bad news is that it isn't arms control. It's happening defiantlyoutside of an arms control framework. The word START never appears inany of the announcements on this. And of course, put that along side the- what would you call it? - the suspended animation of the ABM Treaty,and you've got a cloudy future for arms control. Which is not good, andnot a credit to the Bush administration.
Gould: How confident should we be about whether, once the missiles aredone away with, the plutonium and enriched uranium from Russian warheadswill be disposed of in a secure way?
Talbott: We should be, well, not confident but we certainly havemechanisms to do it. One of the stupider things that the Bushadministration did early on was to cut way back on Nunn-LugarCooperative Threat Reduction [the U.S. government-sponsored programs forprotecting Russian fissile material and nuclear expertise]. But thereare some signs that they are thinking better of that now, as well theyshould.
Gould: On the Russian perception of their own territorial integritybeing at stake after the September 11 attacks - going into the summit,Putin made repeated parallels between the U.S.-led campaign againstal-Qaida right now and the ongoing Russian campaign in Chechnya. What doyou make of that parallel?
Talbott: Well, it's suspect and it's fundamentally invidious andinvalid. Yes, Chechnya is teeming with people who have committedterrorism, there's no question about it. But they have been the verminthat breed on an ash heap that Russia made out of Chechnya going back avery long time. Russia created its own kind of Frankenstein monster inChechnya. It's quite different from al-Qaida's and Osama bin Laden'sgrievances against the United States. Russia subjected Chechnya to yearsof essentially imperialistic over-lordship - and in the earlypost-Soviet period to not-so-benign neglect. And then as the situationdeteriorated there, and there were real acts of criminality andterrorism, Russia came in with a degree of violence - including againstinnocent civilians - that radicalized the population.
So, I mean, there's no question that part of Putin's motive in wrappinghimself in the flag of counter-terrorism was to get more of a licensefrom the U.S. and from the international community for what he waspursuing in Chechnya, and he succeeded in doing so. But, I think, we theU.S. have to be very careful not to let our own new, understandablepreoccupation with counter-terrorism or with terrorism lead us intoexcusing, justifying, or associating ourselves with Russian repressionin Chechnya - or for that matter, Chinese repression in Xinjiang.
Gould: The Norwegian Helsinki Committee has come out with a report veryrecently indicating that Russian abuses seem to have worsened since thesummit - that is, in Chechnya. And yet President Bush remarked that hewelcomed the "progress" that was being made there, whatever he meant bythat ...
Talbott: Well, I think that there are conflicting views on that. I'vetalked to some people who think that in fact Putin is pursuing a kind ofhard/soft simultaneous strategy, and that there has been some movementtowards dialogue - if they can have anybody to have a dialogue with inChechnya. I don't think it's starkly true that the situation in Chechnyahas gotten a whole lot worse, but certainly it's still pretty bad.
Gould: So you don't fear that we're seeing a trade-off between Russiansupport for the war on terrorism and U.S. criticism of human rightstransgressions in Chechnya?
Talbott: Oh, I not only fear it - or I wouldn't say I fear it, I thinkunmistakably that that is what Putin sought to do, and it is what Putinhas succeeded in doing. Now the question is, what is he going to do withthat additional license? Is he only going to pursue a brutal militarysolution, or is he going to combine fist with open hand in some fashion?
And on that frankly there is conflicting evidence. My impression is thatthat he is trying to have it both ways - which is a move we shouldwelcome, and we should push him towards putting more reliance on thepolitical process.
Gould: A number of Russian political commentators, prior to the summit,were saying that Putin was going out of his way to help Bush, but withthe prospect of very little in return. The closing of Russian militarybases in Cuba and Vietnam, in particular, rankled the Russian militarybrass. And the opening of Russian airspace for the U.S. operation inAfghanistan was said to have the potential irreparably to damageRussia's relations with the Arab world. From the perspective of Russia'snational self-interest, what would you say to Russians looking for amore tangible quid pro quo out of the summit?
Talbott: My answer to that, John: "It's the economy, stupid." [Talbott'sreferring to the famous 1992 presidential campaign mantra coined byJames Carville, then Clinton's campaign manager, ed.] Or I'd give you atwo-word answer: WTO and debt. That's where they want the trade-off.Gould: And will they get it?
Talbott: They're already getting it on WTO and I suspect they will get alot on debt. I think the short answer is, yes.
Gould: To what extent, then, do you expect that the success of Russia'snew partnership with the U.S. will hinge on Russia's economic growth?Could an economic slowdown or downturn not destabilize Putin, or evenlead to a new wave of mistrust toward the West?
Talbott: Sure, but, you know, I have limited tolerance for ChickenLittle predictions about Russia. I've seen so many of them. The fact ofthe matter is, the Russian economy is doing pretty well. Take a look atthe Business Week cover story on Russia and the Russian economy. Growthis up, consumer confidence is up, inflation is down.
I think one of the more interesting stories is Russia's decision to buckOPEC on cutting back on oil production in order to keep prices high. Imean, that is a very interesting strategic call on their part, becauseRussia's a net exporter and therefore has a stake in high prices, andyet they've decided to cast their lot with the G8 rather than with OPEC,which suggests both a degree of long-range planning and, I think, someoptimism about their economy.
So yeah, sure, you can say: if the Russian economy completely tanksagain, you're going to have political instability and it will redoundagainst Putin - yeah, that's true, but the Russian economy doesn't seemto be tanking. We saw in '98 how vulnerable it is to global trends, andin that case to the Asian financial contagion. But there were a lot ofpredictions in late August and early September and well into the fall of1998 that Russia was going to completely melt down, economically andpolitically; it didn't happen. It was rough, but they came out of itactually stronger in some respects, economically.
And Putin has retained, whatever your misgivings, and I certainly havemy own, about some of his domestic policies, especially with regard tofree media and that kind of thing - he has kept, with German Gref andothers, a reformist economic team around him, and apparently he'slistening to them. return to menu
2. Cooperate With Russia On Nuclear Security: It's Time to Reverse the Record of U.S.-Russian Distrust
Leon V. Sigal
November 28, 2001.
(for personal use only)
NEW YORK -- Cooperating with strangers has become the watchword inWashington since September 11, and for good reason. The United Statescannot track, disrupt, or destroy the Al Qaeda network without help fromothers -- bases, intelligence, police work.
President Bush also wants help from Russia. The question is, will hecooperate with Russia in return? This question goes beyond theimmediate issue of stopping Al Qaeda. The main threat to U.S. survivalremains the spread of nuclear arms, and the principal danger comes fromRussia, not Iraq or North Korea or Iran or Al Qaeda.
With the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the threat that nuclear warcould arise out of a superpower conflict in Europe or elsewhereevaporated. Instead, new nuclear dangers came to the fore. They persistto this day.
First and foremost is the danger of nuclear leakage: that a few bombs'worth of nuclear material, neither fully accounted for nor thoroughlysecured, could be smuggled out of Russia. A second is the danger ofnuclear accident because Russia lacks the capacity to maintain thethousands of warheads and launchers it has. Third is the danger ofunauthorized nuclear use as Russia relies on nuclear forces to counterthreats along its borders and maintains those forces on hair-triggeralert. Fourth is the danger of a nuclear brain drain: with hundreds ofnuclear scientists and technicians at the mercy of the market, some maybe tempted to sell their know-how to the highest bidder.
Dealing with the new nuclear dangers in Russia should have been theoverriding foreign policy objective of the United States since 1989. Ithas not been.
The best way to reduce those dangers is to cooperate with Russia.Cooperation cannot be confined to nuclear matters alone, but must extendto many other aspects of our relationship. Yet from the time thatMikhail Gorbachev came to power in Moscow until now, the United Stateshas not tried cooperation in any comprehensive or sustained way. Failureto do so has cost dearly.
The United States did little to help Gorbachev gain politburoacquiescence to a unified Germany in NATO or arrange an end of empire inEastern Europe. Similarly, the United States failed to give Gorbachevthe political cover he sought for his retreat from Afghanistan -- aninternational agreement on Afghanistan, backing for an internalpolitical settlement there, or cessation of the U.S. supply of arms tothe Afghan resistance. Instead President Reagan and Bush, withbipartisan support in Congress, kept up the pressure throughout 1987,1988, and 1989, paving the way for the eventual triumph of the Taliban.
As with Putin today, skepticism about Gorbachev's aims and his chancesof achieving them reigned supreme among the conservative realists whoheld office in the Reagan and Bush years. It also prevailed in theforeign policy establishment.
Ronald Reagan was a notable exception. Neither realist nor conservative,he was a true believer who thought of the world in ideological terms, asa contest between freedom and communism. By 1986, over the opposition ofmost administration officials, he was ready to declare victory over the"evil empire" and cooperate with Gorbachev in disarming. In an exchangeof letters culminating at Reykjavik, Reagan and Gorbachev agreed on deepcuts and eventual elimination of nuclear arms, only to have others inhis administration prevail on him to reverse course.
George H.W. Bush had enough political leeway to follow in Reagan'sfootsteps, but if Reagan was a nuclear radical, the elder Bush was anuclear conservative. He thought Reagan had gone too far in questioningdeterrence, in valuing defense over offense, and in contemplatingnuclear abolition. He wanted to restore the old nuclear verities, and hewas in no hurry to negotiate with Mikhail Gorbachev, who, like Reagan,seemed all too eager to call those verities into question.
The most widely accepted of those verities, however untrue, was thatAmerican nuclear arms offset a Soviet advantage in conventional forces.That motivated the Bush administration to slow talks on limitingstrategic arms to a standstill while first seeking cuts in Sovietconventional forces. Trying to retain a firm foothold in Europe, theadministration insisted on retaining more troops than the Soviets,making an accord more difficult to reach.
As a result, a START accord was delayed. The treaty was not signed untilJuly 31, 1991. By then it was too late. The centrifugal forces unleashedin the Soviet Union had already loosened central control over its vastand dispersed nuclear infrastructure, a risk we still live with. Yet aNational Security Council study group chaired by Condoleezza Rice failedto draw the obvious implications.
In 1990, capitalizing on the Army's eagerness to rid itself of itsnuclear arms and the Navy's desire to remove them from surface ships,then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell proposedunilateral withdrawal of all but a few dozen U.S. tactical nuclear armsbased overseas. To his credit, President Bush accepted Powell'srecommendation over the objections of Defense Secretary Dick Cheney.But the withdrawal, scheduled for early August 1990, was put off whenIraq invaded Kuwait. It was not carried out until a few weeks after theAugust 1991 coup in Russia, when Moscow reciprocated. But even today,missiles armed with thousands of nuclear warheads remain onhair-trigger, ready to launch at a moment's notice.
Under President Clinton, the United States resisted deeper cuts innuclear arms -- cuts that Russia was -- and still is -- ready toaccept. Instead, it adopted what it called the "hedge strategy" againstthe remote possibility of resumption of the Cold War. Congress wasgrudging in providing aid for Russian disarming. The administrationeven wanted to circumvent Russia with oil and gas pipelines, crimpingits source of hard currency. Washington's rush to expand NATO eastwardin violation of understandings with Moscow, only fueled a reaction inRussia, making broader security cooperation politically precarious.
For the Bush administration, the consequence is that today Americansstill live under the shadow of a potential loss of nuclear control inRussia.
Leon V. Sigal, an analyst for Foreign Policy in Focus, is director ofthe Northeast Cooperative Security Project at the Social ScienceResearch Council in New York. He is the author of Hang Separately:Cooperative Security between the United States and Russia, 1985-1994. return to menu
C. Nuclear Terrorism
1. Experts Say There Is Enough Material And Know-How Out There For Terrorists To Mount A Lethal Radiological Attack With A 'Dirty Bomb,' Turning A U.S. Downtown Into A Death Zone
Bill Nichols and Peter Eisler
November 30, 2001
(for personal use only)
It's a scenario even more horrific than the Sept. 11 attack thatdestroyed the World Trade Center: Terrorists launch a nuclear strike onan American city.
If a crude nuclear bomb were set off, as many as 100,000 people would bekilled instantly within a 3-mile radius of the blast. Thousands morewould die slowly of radiation poisoning.
This nightmarish picture might be on the minds of many worried Americansin the wake of Osama bin Laden's statements that his al-Qaeda networkhas acquired nuclear weapons. There also have been reports that al-Qaedamembers have boasted of plans for a ''Hiroshima'' against America.
But U.S. intelligence and defense officials have some comforting news.They don't believe that al-Qaeda, which the Bush administration and itsanti-terrorism partners believe carried out the Sept. 11 attacks, or anyother terrorist group has acquired or built a nuclear bomb -- yet.
The more immediate worry is a lethal radiological attack. Experts sayterrorists could construct a ''dirty bomb'' that uses dynamite todisperse radioactive material in an urban setting. It lacks the force ofa nuclear blast but still could kill 1,000 people in an urban district,render the area unlivable for months and pose cancer risks for decades.
The radioactive material needed to construct a dirty bomb is moreaccessible than the uranium and plutonium used in nuclear bombs, and theamount needed for such a device could fit into a measuring cup. Buildinga dirty bomb ''is not a daunting task for a terrorist,'' says BruceBlair, president of the Center for Defense Information.
By contrast, nuclear weapons are extremely difficult to steal orconstruct. ''It's really hard to get one,'' Iranian President MohammadKhatami told reporters in New York this month. He should know: Iran hasbeen trying to acquire nuclear technology for years.
So too, apparently, has al-Qaeda. U.S. military officials said Tuesdaythat they have found 40 sites in Afghanistan where bin Laden forcesmight have conducted research on chemical, biological or nuclearweapons. Earlier this month, U.S. officials said al-Qaeda papers werefound in Kabul on how to make nuclear bombs, but they were crudediagrams that lacked technologicalsophistication.
An idle boast from bin Laden
In an interview with a Pakistani newspaper this month, bin Ladendeclared, ''If America used nuclear or chemical weapons against us, thenwe may retort with chemical and nuclear weapons. We have the weapons asdeterrent.'' U.S. officials, however, dismiss such rhetoric as an idleboast.
Mohamed el Baradei, director of the United Nations International AtomicEnergy Agency (IAEA), says the odds are slim that terrorists couldobtain a ready-to-use nuclear device. Even so, after Sept. 11, he urgedall eight nuclear powers to review their arsenals' security.
But el Baradei shares the concerns of many U.S. officials andproliferation experts about the possibility that terrorists could stealor purchase on the black market enough nuclear fuel or radioactivematerial to build a rudimentary atomic weapon or, more likely, a dirtybomb.
>From 1993 through 2000, the U.N. agency, which monitors nuclearsecurity, confirmed 153 cases of theft of nuclear materials. The theftsincluded plutonium and highly enriched uranium that could be usedimmediately as fuel for a nuclear weapon, as well as less volatilenuclear material, such as uranium fuel and wastes from nuclear powerreactors, that would need high-tech processing before it could trigger anuclear blast.
There also were 183 cases of thefts of other radioactive materials usedby industry and medicine that could be converted into dirty bombs.
''The controls on nuclear material and radioactive sources are uneven,''el Baradei told delegates from dozens of nations gathered for aninternational symposium on nuclear terrorism this month. ''Any suchmaterials being in illicit commerce and conceivably accessible toterrorist groups is deeply troubling.''
There are four leading scenarios under which terrorists could launch astrike.
1. Obtaining a nuclear bomb
Existing nuclear weapons are the most lethal threat, but the leastlikely to be used by terrorists. There have been reports that someSoviet warheads are missing, but Russia says its arsenal is secure andintact. So do the other nuclear states: the United States, Britain,China, France, Russia, India, Pakistan and Israel. There has never beena confirmed theft or loss of a ready-to-use nuclear weapon from any ofthese nations. But deep concerns remain about the theft or black-marketpurchase of a Russian nuclear device. This month, Russian officialsrevealed a frightening lapse in nuclear security.
At a U.N. atomic energy agency conference in Vienna, a high-rankingRussian nuclear official reported a previously undisclosed securityviolation of the ''highest possible consequence'' during the past twoyears. He did not provide details.
A report submitted to Congress in January by a task force led by formerSenate majority leader Howard Baker -- now U.S. ambassador to Japan --and former White House counsel Lloyd Cutler catalogues dozens ofincidents of attempted theft of nuclear devices or material in Russiasince the Soviet Union fell in 1991.
U.S. concern centers on small, portable nuclear weapons called''suitcase bombs.'' Russian officials insist that fewer than 100 of thedevices were ever constructed and all have been destroyed or put underimpregnable security. U.S. officials fear however that the Russianscan't account for all of them.
Even if some portable devices were stolen, the sophisticated hand-heldunits would need expert maintenance -- such as replacement offast-decaying tritium used in triggering mechanisms -- to retain theireffectiveness.
2. Building a nuclear bomb
Experts fear that terrorists might obtain weapons-grade nuclear materialand build a crude bomb.
It's a steep technical challenge, but not impossible, especially ifformer Soviet weapons scientists have sold their expertise.
The U.S. government estimates that Russia and the former Sovietrepublics have about 1,100 metric tons of weapons-grade uranium and 160metric tons of plutonium at 123 sites.
Nuclear experts hotly debate how difficult it would be to build anuclear bomb using such material. Many believe a crude device ispossible using information in the public domain.
The weapon would be large, perhaps the size of a compact car, and thenuclear material would have to be shaped and packed with explosives in aprecise way. Finally, the detonation process would have to be timedperfectly to trigger a nuclear reaction.
But there would still be a threat if terrorists botched the job and thebomb didn't detonate properly. It could produce a ''fizzle reaction''equal to one-tenth the force of a normal nuclear device. Such a blastwould approximate 1,000 tons of TNT, several hundred times the force ofthe 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.
Successful detonation of a rudimentary nuclear bomb like those droppedon Japan during World War II would have the force of 10 kilotons, or10,000 tons of TNT.
3. Launching a missile
This nightmare scenario, deemed highly unlikely by experts, envisionsthe seizure of a missile site or computer codes to cause an illicitmissile launch.
Such concerns had focused on the former Soviet Union, which had nuclearwarheads scattered at missile sites throughout its republics. Thearsenal is now consolidated in Russia, however, and most experts say anunauthorized missile launch, even by a disaffected military commander,is implausible.
''It would require a lot of knowledge of launch codes,'' says ArjunMakhijani of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research.Although Russian missiles are no longer targeted at U.S. cities under a1994 agreement, ''the target codes can be restored very quickly, in lessthan a minute,'' Makhijani says, ''but you would have to know whatyou're doing.''
These days, experts say terrorists would be more likely to try to seizea nuclear weapons facility in India or Pakistan, the newest members ofthe nuclear club.
Since Sept. 11, the Bush administration has kept a worried eye onPakistan's nuclear arsenal, estimated to contain 30 to 50 bombs orwarheads. They are controlled by the Pakistani army, which containsfactions that share al-Qaeda's extremist Islamic views, intelligenceofficials say.
Pakistan's arsenal is under tight security, experts say. Nuclear devicesare kept unassembled at different locations, which makes scientificexpertise essential for assembly. U.S. officials became alarmed whenPakistani authorities detained two Pakistani nuclear scientists lastmonth because of their contacts with the Taliban. Pakistani officialsare still investigating whether the pair helped the Taliban developweapons of mass destruction.
4. Building a dirty bomb
Although a radiological bomb lacks the destructive force of a nuclearbomb, experts say it poses a far greater threat because it would notrequire weapons-grade nuclear material. There are tens of thousands ofradiation sources that would suffice, ranging from material used innuclear power plants to isotopes used by radiology clinics andindustrial machinery used to detect cracks in buildings and pipelines.
Many of the radiation sources, typically sealed in protectivecontainers, contain only tiny amounts of material. But others hold largeamounts of radioisotopes, such as cesium used in X-ray equipment, thatcould be very dangerous in a dirty bomb.
U.S. officials have particular concerns about a nuclear waste site inthe breakaway Russian republic of Chechnya, where bin Laden has support.
Chechen terrorists planted cesium in Moscow's Izmailovsky Park in 1995.The device, which contained no explosives and caused no harm, apparentlywas meant to warn how easily a dirty bomb could be set off.
Smuggling dirty bombs into the United States would be difficult. Theyprobably would lack protective shields that mask radioactive emissions,and thus could be detected at U.S. ports. In recent years, U.S. customsofficials have been equipped with Geiger counters that detectradioactivity.
The U.S. government has other equipment to locate a nuclear orradiological device, although officials would need an approximate ideaof where to look. The Energy Department has nuclear emergency searchteams equipped with special aircraft and vehicles set up with technologythat can detect the presence of a nuclear weapon. That equipment's rangeis classified.
The most difficult challenge for authorities assessing the threat ofnuclear terrorism is tracking thefts or black-market purchases ofnuclear material. Worldwide inventories are grossly inaccurate, and somecountries can't account for hundreds of pounds.
The IAEA's accounting standards allow for losses of up to 5% of thenuclear material that passes through some large processing facilities,in part because some countries chafed at having to track bits ofmaterial that might escape in waste streams. Despite the wiggle room,some countries still ignore the agency's reporting requirements.
''Nobody knows to this day what's gone missing because of the largeuncertainty factors,'' says= Paul Leventhal, president of the NuclearControl Institute, an independent watchdog group.
The U.N. atomic agency ''is fond of saying there's no evidence of anydiversion, but there would be no way to know,'' Leventhal says. ''If youhave someone inside (a nuclear facility) influenced by bribery,extortion or ideology to get stuff out, he probably is going to be ableto do it. When you talk about an industry that produces by the ton whatnuclear weapons require by the pound,the arithmetic gets very, very scary.'' return to menu
2. Old Weapons Rattle About, Causing Worry
Detroit Free Press
November 28, 2001
(for personal use only)
More than 40 sites with the potential to have been labs for chemical,biological and nuclear weapon research are being tested in Afghanistan.
Iraq refuses to let United Nations weapons inspectors into the countryto see whether SaddamHussein's people are building weapons.
The news finally helps me realize what that nagging sensation has beensince the United States and Russia recently pledged to reduce theirnuclear arsenals by two-thirds in the next decade.
What's nagging me is a question: What happens to the old weapons?
The U.S.-Russia agreement signals not only a new relationship betweenformer enemies, but a new spirit of cooperation at a time when we needevery friend we can get.
But living up to that spirit of cooperation means leveling the playingfield during war and trusting at a time when we should be skeptical.
Osama bin Laden, man without country but with money and connections, hassaid that he's looking for nuclear weapons.
Is this the time to be getting rid of them? And when we get rid of them,are we going to store them, or actually make sure they cannot be usedagain?
The problem with dismantling
Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Washington-based Arms ControlAssociation, a nonpartisan group founded in 1971, says just dismantlingnuclear weapons isn't enough.
The 37-year-old political scientist has fought for arms control for 12years. And he says we have two problems: agreements based only on trust,and dismantled weapons that can be reconstructed.
"There is a tremendous problem of safeguarding nuclear weapons andmaterials, especially in the former Soviet Union," Kimball said. "Whenthe KGB fell to pieces, the former Soviet Union lost its main means ofsafeguarding these materials. Now Russia is left with less than adequatephysical security of these materials. The U.S. has been helping themreinforce, but there is still a risk that nuclear materials could belost, stolen or sold to a high bidder."
Kimball says a lack of clarity about the future of old weapons is the"biggest threat" to any agreement between the United States and Russia.Meanwhile, he says, it's theoretically possible but highly unlikely thatbin Laden and Al Qaeda have the engineering capacity to build a nuclearbomb.
"It's more likely that they'd gain access to radioactive material to beused . . . like a poisonous chemical," he said.
That's enough threat for me.
A seemingly lesser threat
Unlike old horses put out to pasture, old weapons sometimes find theirway into hands looking for cheap goods.
The threat of nuclear war has not lessened with time. Instead, it hasbroadened. China has the bomb.France has the bomb. The United Kingdomhas the bomb. India, Pakistan and Israel are believed to have the bomb.And Iran, Iraq, North Korea and Libya are countries of concern, saidAlex Wagner, an analyst with Kimball's arms control group.
I used to dream that the threat of nuclear war could be eliminated in mylifetime. But now, in a season of despair and fortitude, in time of warand uncertainty, it seems further away than ever.
A war against terrorism makes strange bedfellows of countries withsticky histories. But I still want to make sure that we can sleep in thebeds we make -- and that we know where all the nukes are, even afterthey're thrown away. return to menu
D. U.S.-Russian HEU Purchase Agreement
1. Cameco Secures Russian Warhead Uranium Supply
November 28, 2001
(for personal use only)
Cameco Corp. and its partners in a 1999 agreement to buy uraniumsalvaged from Russian nuclear warheads have signed an amendment to thedeal committing them to buy at least 56,000 tonnes of uranium over thenext 12 years.
"We had the option of saying, 'Yes, we'll purchase this amount ofuranium or no we won't,'" Jamie McIntyre, a Cameco spokesman, saidyesterday.
"What we've done is we've essentially secured the deal by committing topurchase at least an amount equivalent to the U.S. sales quota."
The original deal, between Cameco, Cogema of France and Nukem of theUnited States and Germany and Techsnabexport, the commercial arm of theRussian Federation Ministry of Atomic Energy, gave the companiesinvolved the right to buy a set amount of uranium. The amendment commitsthe companies to buy that amount.
Mr. McIntyre explained Cameco, the world's largest uranium producer, wasalready buying the amount set out by the quota in the deal. "We didn'tsee that our practice was going to change through the remainder of theagreement so that's why we committed to purchase the equivalent to ourU.S. sales quota each year to 2013," he said.
The amendment commits Cameco and Cogema each to buy roughly 24,000tonnes over the life of the agreement, while Nukem will purchase about8,200 tonnes.
The new agreement, Mr. McIntyre said, will allow both the companies andthe Russians to better plan for the future.
"It secures a revenue stream to the Russian Federation which is criticalto them," he said.
The Russians blend and dilute the highly enriched uranium from thewarheads into low enriched uranium for use in nuclear power plants. Thenit is shipped to the United States, where it is made into fuel rods forreactors.
The deal stems from the earlier Megatons to Megawatts agreement betweenthe U.S. and Russiangovernments under which Russia agreed to dismantle nuclear warheads overa 20-year period.
Some 5,000 Russian nuclear warheads have been dismantled since thatagreement was signed in 1993.
Last month, Cameco reported a third-quarter profit of $15-million withmore than half of that coming from its investment in Ontario's BrucePower nuclear plants.
The Saskatoon-based company is the exclusive supplier of fuel to BrucePower's four operating reactors in Ontario. return to menu
2. Russia Aims To Agree On Uranium Price With U.S. By End Of 2001
November 27, 2001
(for personal use only)
The Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy aims to sign a deal on prices forhighlyenriched uranium (HEU) removed from dismantled warheads and supplied tothe US in low-enriched form (LEU) by the end of this year.
"We hope to sign a new agreement on prices in the very near future,"Tekhsnabeksport, the ministry's implementing agent for the HEU suppliesto the US, told Interfax. "If we cannot agree upon a new price, theissue might be resolved at government level," Tekhsnabeksport said. Theuranium deal was signed back in 1993. Russia agreed to supply the USwith 500 tonnes of HEU, diluted to a low concentration suitable fornuclear power plant fuel, from decommissioned warheads over a period of20 years. The deal was worth about 12bn dollars. The agreement on pricesexpires at the end of 2001. When prices fell on the uranium market in1999, the US Enrichment Corp (USEC), the American partner to the uraniumdeal, had to buy Russian uranium at less than the market price for alengthy period. But Russia refused to lower the price of the uranium. Itargued this had been written into the contract and that a quota for thesupplies to the US existed.
Tekhsnabeksport also said that in 2001, under the HEU-LEU deal, Russiawould reprocess "as much HEU as in 2001, but would receive a little moremoney for supplying it to the US". Russia would also get "a little more"of the natural uranium, which is used to dilute the HEU, back from theUS than in 2000.
Russia processed about 30 tonnes of HEU in 2000, supplying LEU worth550m dollars to the US. It received 4,600 tonnes of natural uraniumback. return to menu
E. Russian Nuclear Forces
1. Defense Ministry to Scrap Rail-Based Strategic Missiles
November 30, 2001
(for personal use only)
Russia has begun decommissioning mobile SS-24 strategic missiles ontrains, ITAR-TASS reported on 27 November, citing the head of thecompany that is responsible for the project. Askond head VladimirAndreev said that decommissioning the SS-24s is part of Russia'sobligation under the START-1 treaty, and that the first train carryingmissiles will be moved next week from the Plesetsk space center to aspecial facility in Bryansk. return to menu
F. Russian Nuclear Industry
1. Government Announces Plan To Develop Nuclear Industry
November 29, 2001
(for personal use only)
Deputy Atomic Energy Minister Bulat Nigmatulin said Russia willmodernize 11 nuclear power stations by 2005 in order to increase theamount of electricity generated by nuclear power plants to 20 percent ofthe total nationwide, "Moskovskaya pravda" reported on 27 November.Nigmatulin explained that the era of inexpensive gas is gone, and thatRussia now annually sees 30 percent increases in gas prices at a cost of$4 billion per year. In addition, he said, even by very liberalestimates Russian gas reserves will be exhausted in 70 years, leaving noother alternative than to use nuclear power. return to menu
G. Russian Nuclear Cities
1. Russian Regional Company Cuts Power Supply To Major Nuclear Facility
Afontovo 9 TV from BBC Monitoring Service
November 28, 2001
(for personal use only)
Krasnoyarsk's local power supplier Krasenergo is taking steps to forceits customers to pay their outstanding bills, the commercial Afontovo TVcompany reported.
Krasenergo cut the electricity supply to one of two reserved power linesto the Zheleznogorsk Mining and Chemical Plant, dealing with storing andreprocessing of spent nuclear fuel, for several hours, in an attempt tomake the enterprise pay R16m in arrears.
Pavel Morozov, the head of the public information bureau of the Miningand Chemical Plant, said on the telephone that all the emergencyservices had been informed and that power supply had been restricted inthe closed town. return to menu
1. Department Of Defense Appropriations Bill, 2002 And Supplemental Appropriations, 2002 Additional Views Of David R. Obey Keeping Weapons Of Mass Destruction Away From Terrorists (excerpted)
November 29, 2001
(for personal use only)
One of the most fundamental steps in protecting U.S. citizens fromterrorist attacks is keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of thosewho would use them against us. This requires greater efforts forsecuring of federal, non-federal and even foreign sources of materialsfor these weapons than is permitted within the amounts requested by OMB.
Securing Biological Agents
The bill as reported by the Committee contains $156,700,000 as requestedby the Administration for improved security at the Center for DiseaseControl, National Institute of Health, Food and Drug Administration, andthe U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Energy. The Democraticamendment would provide an additional $1,008,000,000 to meet the needsof these and other agencies that have been identified after theSeptember 11 terrorist attack on our nation.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said that nuclear proliferation "is oneof the foremost threats of contemporary times." President George Bushstated "Our highest priority is to keep terrorists from acquiringweapons of mass destruction." But the Administration's budget requestand the bill reported by the Committee contain no funds for nuclearnon-proliferation activities in Russia, which is perhaps the majordeficiency of this bill, which provides only $18,000,000 fornon-proliferation technology activities. The Minority amendment insteadprovides $316,000,000 more to the Department of Energy fornon-proliferation and intelligence activities:
$131,000,000 for protection against the use of spent nuclearfuel as "dirty bombs" by terrorists, consolidation of nuclear materialsand weapons within Russia, accelerated physical security over RussianNavy nuclear weapons, and increased nuclear monitoring equipment at theRussian border to detect smuggling.
$60,000,000 to assist Russia to improve physical security ofSoviet-designed nuclear power plants and to assist the United Nations indetecting and inspecting undeclared nuclear activities in countries thatsupport terrorism.
$77,000,000 for non-proliferation technology development. Someof these funds are for global surveillance and monitoring of illicitmovement of nuclear materials overseas by terrorists. The rest of thefunds are to develop tools for law enforcement and militaryapplications; chemical-agent systems for use in subways and at sportingor other highly populated events; helicopter-based biological agentdetection systems; and an advanced airport baggage inspector for tracequantities of illicit chemicals or explosive residues.
$30,000,000 for Russian nuclear and biological scientists, whoare susceptible to recruitment by terrorists. These funds are toconvert Russian biological weapons facilities to civilian vaccineproduction, and to provide seed funds to Russian scientists to developand market new technologies.
$18,000,000 for improved intelligence concerning illicitnuclear materials.
2. Department Of Defense Appropriations Bill, 2002 And Supplemental Appropriations, 2002 Additional Views Of Hon. Chet Edwards
November 29, 2001
(for personal use only)
While I voted for the Committee's mark of the FY02 Department of DefenseAppropriations Act, I was very disappointed that the Committee did notinclude an increase in funding for nonproliferation programs within the$20 billion supplemental appropriation that was attached.
I find it irresponsible and dangerous that even in light of theSeptember 11th terrorist attacks, this House has said, in effect by ourvotes, that it is less important to fund programs that protect Americansfrom the threat of nuclear terrorists than it was a year ago. Earlierthis year, the Department of Energy Appropriations bill included asmaller budget than last year's for nuclear nonproliferation programswith Russia. These programs provide for increases in security forloosely guarded Russian nuclear materials that could fall into the wronghands. At the time, I was assured that the supplemental appropriationsbill would be the appropriate place to increase this budget, as it wouldinclude programs funded to respond to the attacks of September 11th.Unfortunately, this bill did not include those funds, and the onlyamendment offered during Committee consideration of the bill that wouldhave increased our efforts in this area was struck down 34-31.
The President has made it clear that he believes this is a threat. OnNovember 13, he stated: `Our highest priority is to keep terrorists fromacquiring weapons of mass destruction * * * We agreed that it is urgentthat we improve the physical protection and accounting of nuclearmaterials and prevent illicit nuclear trafficking.' Earlier this year,a review led by former Senator Howard Baker and former White HouseCounsel Lloyd Cutler declared: `The national security benefits to U.S.citizens from securing and/or neutralizing * * * nuclear weapons andpotential nuclear weapons could constitute the highest return oninvestment in any current U.S. national securityand defense program.'
Let me review five facts that are not in dispute:
1. If the September 11th terrorists had used a nuclear bomb, with a sodacan sized lump of plutonium, and placed it in lower Manhattan, millionsof people would have died.
2. There are over 600 metric tons, enough for 41,000 nuclear devices, ofweapons-usable material in Russia today that is in urgent need ofadditional security improvements, according to the U.S. Department ofEnergy.
3. We know of 14 separate seizures of highly enriched uranium that hadbeen stolen from Russian nuclear sites since 1992. In eight of thosecases, the uranium was seized outside of Russia, in Germany, the CzechRepublic, and Bulgaria.
4. We know that since 1993 Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda organization hasmade attempts to obtain nuclear material from Russia. In fact, whenNorthern Alliance forces drove Taliban forces out of Kabul, they foundschematics and other background materials describing how to build acrude nuclear bomb.
5. Because of an agreement signed in September between the United Statesand Russia, we have a window of opportunity to put in placeanti-terrorist safeguards at numerous Russian nuclear sites. No oneknows when that window of opportunity will close.
Based on those known facts and the devastating potential of nuclearterrorist attacks, Congress should act immediately to work with Russiain providing adequate safeguards at their numerous nuclear sites.
I know that every Member of this House would do almost anything toprevent a nuclear terrorist attack on the United States. Sadly, though,our spending decisions are not consistent with that commitment.
I will vote for this bill because of the good that it does, and becauseI know that the Chairman will continue to look for an opportunity tofund these critical programs. I believe we have a moral obligation tothe American people to do everything possible to prevent terrorists fromusing nuclear weapons against American families. return to menu
3. Comments by White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer on Nunn-Lugar (excerpted)
November 26, 2001
(for personal use only)
Q A week ago last Sunday, Condi Rice said that the Nunn-Lugar program
had not been -- was not going to be cut under the administration'sbudget proposal. But your own documents show a $98-million cut from2001 to 2002 for the Department of Energy portion of that program. Howdoes that square with what the National Security Advisor said?
MR. FLEISCHER: Actually, it depends on the component you look at, atit. But, broadly, under the Clinton administration, DOD requested lessmoney in those programs than it did in fiscal year 2001 because ofspending requirements foreseen for that year. And the Bushadministration took the same position in the budget it submitted toCongress, so it matched that level of funding.
There was a separate item under the Department of Energy that a cut wastaken before the Bush administration review of the nonproliferationprograms with Russia had been put into effect. But the administrationis committed to Nunn-Lugar. The President has long believed thatworking cooperatively with Russia to help them to dismantle theirnuclear weapons is a very effective means of fighting againstproliferation around the world, and will continue in that vein. return to menu
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