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Nuclear News - 12/14/01
RANSAC Nuclear News, December 14, 2001
Compiled by David Smigielski


A. Cooperative Threat Reduction
    1. Kazakhstan: Experts Report Progress On Safeguarding Nuclear Site, Nikola Krastev, RFE/RL (12/12/01)
    2. Missile Defense Debate Can Wait, Christopher Madison, The Baltimore Sun (12/12/01)
B. Nuclear Terrorism
    1. Report: Nuclear Experts Briefed Bin Laden, UPI (12/10/01)
    2. Terrorists Shop In Russia For Nuclear 'Dirty Bombs', Bill Wallace, San Francisco Chronicle (12/10/01)
C. U.S.-Russia Relations
    1. Lonesome George, St. Louis Today (12/13/01)
    2. Trading 'Good' For 'Iffy', Los Angeles Times (12/12/01)
    3. Bush's Nuclear Brinksmanship, Matt Bivens, The Nation (12/12/01)
    4. U.S. And Russia To Complete Talks On An Arms Control Pact, Patrick E. Tyler, The New York Times (12/11/01)
D. Russia-Iran Relations
    1. Ukraine Wants To Boost Trade With Iran, RFE/RL Newsline (12/12/01)
E. Russian Nuclear Industry
    1. Ukraine, Russia Sign Agreement On Completing Reactors To Replace Chernobyl, BBC Monitoring Service/UNIAN News Agency (12/14/01)
    2. Output Cut At Russian Nuclear Station After Coolant Leak, RIA via BBC Monitoring Service (12/10/01)
F. Announcements
    1. Remarks By The President At The Citadel (excerpt), (12/11/01)
G. Links of Interest
    1. The ABM Treaty and Missile Defense Testing: Does the U.S. Need to Withdraw Now? Union of Concerned Scientists, (12/13/01) http://www.ucsusa.org/security/ABM_analysis.pdf
    2. Chronology of Nuclear Standoff, Las Vegas Sun (12/13/01) http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/text/2001/dec/13/121308853.html
    3. Weapons of Mass Destruction and the Global Nuclear Balance: A Quantitative and Arms Control Analysis, Anthony Cordesman (12/04/01) http://www.csis.org/burke/mb/nuclear.pdf

A. Cooperative Threat Reduction

1.
Kazakhstan: Experts Report Progress On Safeguarding Nuclear Site
Nikola Krastev
RFE/RL
December 12, 2001
(for personal use only)


The U.S. Department of Energy is reporting progress in its efforts toprovide for the safe shutdown of the BN-350 nuclear breeder reactor inAktau, Kazakhstan. At a time of heightened concern over theproliferation of nuclear materials, experts say the U.S.-led program ison track to eliminate a major source of weapons-grade plutoniumproduction, while at the same time avoiding any possible environmentalincident on the eastern shores of the Caspian Sea.

New York, 11 December 2001 (RFE/RL) -- The BN-350 fast-breeder reactorin Aktau, in western Kazakhstan, was commissioned in 1972 for the dualpurpose of producing plutonium for the Soviet nuclear arsenal andproviding electricity, heating, and water desalination.

After a 1998 report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)criticized safety at the reactor, Kazakhstan announced it would shutdown the plant and secure it. It requested technical and financialassistance from the United States, which earlier in the 1990s removed alarge quantity of weapons-grade uranium from another site in thecountry.

The U.S. State and Energy departments in May 1999 initiated a project toprovide assistance to Kazakhstan. This past summer, U.S. and Kazakhofficials marked the completion of one phase of the project -- packagingspent fuel from the reactor. An international team of technicians placedthe last of 478 canisters of spent fuel in the BN-350 water storage poolunder the seal of the IAEA, completing one of the largest such effortsever undertaken.

Other key accomplishments recently announced include the installation ofextensive fire-safety equipment, the design and fabrication of "cesiumtraps" to decontaminate the reactor's radioactive sodium coolant, andthe start of procedures for sodium coolant draining and processing.

Douglas Newton, the project's manager, recently discussed the program atNew York's Columbia University. Speaking later to RFE/RL, he praised thecooperation of the Kazakh government: "I don't think we can ask for verymuch more in terms of cooperation at a national level. On the individualday-to-day basis, the people at the Nuclear Technology Safety Centerhave been absolutely invaluable in organizing the various Kazakhstanorganizations that have worked with us."

The U.S. concerns about these kinds of old-fashioned nuclear reactorsare as much about safety as they are about the ability of these reactorsto produce weapons-grade plutonium. During its lifetime, Newton said,Aktau's BN-350 has produced several tons of so-called "ivory-grade,"premium plutonium.

Paul Josephson is an associate professor of Soviet history at ColbyCollege in Maine and has written a book on Russian nuclear programs. Hetells RFE/RL that the BN-350 type of reactor was long ago abandoned inthe United States: "Breeder reactors were abandoned under PresidentJimmy Carter in the late 1970s because he recognized that reactors thatproduce as part of their operation more plutonium than they start withcontribute directly to proliferation. They make more plutonium availablethroughout the world. It's much easier to make a nuclear weapon out ofplutonium than it is out of uranium."

To make sure that Aktau's nuclear facility will never be able to restartplutonium production, the U.S. engineers have devised a plan that callsfor "irreversible shutdown." Under this plan, the radioactive moltensodium coolant of the reactor will be gradually decontaminated (ofCesium-137) and then drained. Once the bulk sodium is drained, pocketswill remain throughout the reactor's body. These pockets will be filledwith an inert gas to corrode the steel and prevent the reactor frombeing used again.

Newton tells RFE/RL that the U.S. Energy and State departments arediscussing with Kazakh officials where to store the plutonium that hasalready been produced: "The Kazakhs have signaled their intention tostore the fuel in northeastern Kazakhstan. But the [U.S.] StateDepartment is still working with them in conjunction with the Departmentof Energy. And there are several options, and [there has been] a seriesof options studies. And, of course, our primary concern is the nuclearsafety and security of the material that's coming out of the reactor."

Professor Josephson, who has visited nuclear power plants in the formerSoviet Union, tells RFE/RL that from a geographic and economic point ofview, the best place to store the produced nuclear fuel would be inRussia: "Kazakhstan recognizes this, that it's best not to have anyplutonium within your borders, but to have it somewhere where it can besafeguarded. And I would think that Russian facilities are the bestplace, given the geographic location and the long-term experience."

The U.S. Department of Energy and other agencies have also been activein helping to secure Russian nuclear facilities but acknowledge thereare still many sites that require safeguarding. One difficulty at anumber of formerly secret sites is the unwillingness of Russianofficials to give U.S. technicians access.

But experts on nonproliferation issues say the experience in Kazakhstanhas been very positive. Shutting down Aktau's BN-350 reactor has been acollaborative effort involving technical personnel and financing fromthe United States, Kazakhstan, the European Union, Japan, and Britain.The IAEA has been instrumental in organizing much of the internationalcooperative effort.

Andrew Weiss is a fellow at the Council of Foreign Relations in New Yorkand former director for Russian, Ukrainian, and Eurasian affairs at theU.S. National Security Council. He tells RFE/RL that the Aktau shutdownproject could serve as a model for international cooperation onnonproliferation issues: "The work at Aktau, I think, is just anillustration of the kind of cooperation that's developed. We've seeneven in more sensitive circumstances -- like Operation Sapphire, wherethe United States helped secretly airlift a load of very sensitivematerial out of Kazakhstan -- that they are willing to do the rightthing. I think that this kind of cooperation is something that's goingto be enduring and hopefully continuing into the future."

Operation Sapphire involved the removal of 600 kilograms ofweapons-grade uranium from Kazakhstan in 1994. Aside from collaboratingon improving its nuclear facilities, Kazakhstan has also turned over allof its nuclear weapons.

Since declaring independence in 1991, Kazakhstan has returned to Russiaall 1,410 nuclear warheads stored on its territory and closed theSemipalatinsk nuclear test site, where 456 tests had been performed inthe previous four decades.
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2.
Missile Defense Debate Can Wait
Christopher Madison
The Baltimore Sun
December 12, 2001
(for personal use only)


When the Pentagon's "kill vehicle" slammed into a mock warhead 140 milesover the Pacific Ocean in a recent test, the Bush administration and thedefense contractors cheered: National missile defense was one stepcloser to fruition.

They should have held their applause.

This was only the fifth out of at least 20 highly controlled tests thatwill be conducted even before realistic conditions are introduced. Thereality is that President Bush, even if he serves two terms, will likelybe retired before any missile defense system is ready to be deployed,assuming it works.

Yet ever since the beginning of the Bush administration, the concept ofmissile defense has taken on an urgency that has captured the attentionof Congress and the news media, damaged our relations with Russia andother allies and blinded Americans to the real threats to U.S. nationalsecurity.

Someday, if all the technological problems are overcome, missile defensemay be a military weapon. Yet it is already being deployed as apolitical weapon, and a lethal one.

Consider Sept. 11 and the war against terrorism. These devastatingattacks were low-tech and planned and executed by individual terrorists.There were no rogue state fingerprints to be found. But before you couldsay "ICBM," missile defense proponents were crowing that the attacksproved the need for missile defense.

It was a brilliant tactic. Missile defense opponents had decided to holdtheir fire after Sept. 11 to avoid being viewed as exploiting a nationaltragedy. So debate was left to the hawks, whose fuzzy assertionsobscured the real message of Sept. 11: That attacks on the United Statesare unlikely to come by ballistic missile, but instead by moreconventional means. Score one big hit for missile defense.

In case anyone missed the point, the irony was on display again lastweek. The day the latest missile defense test results were reported, themedia also reported that the administration was concerned that Osama binLaden might have a "dirty bomb," a low-tech but frightening weapon thatcombines conventional explosives and readily available nuclear waste tospread radioactive particles over a wide area. It could be delivered bytruck or other conventional means.

However, it was also reported that day that Congress was cutting thebudget for the Nunn-Lugar program, which is intended to preventterrorists and others from getting their hands on nuclear weaponsmaterials that can be used to make such rudimentary devices. Missiledefense scores again.

Missile defense also torpedoed the summit between President Bush andRussian President Vladimir Putin last month, resulting in a serioussetback to nuclear weapons control. The two leaders had been expected toannounce deep cuts in their nuclear arsenals and a deal to allow missiledefense testing without killing the ABM Treaty. Unfortunately, Mr. Bushand Mr. Putin held a love-in rather than substantive talks, in partbecause Mr. Bush was unwilling to give up the idea of quick deploymentof missile defense and a quick death for the ABM Treaty. He also isloath to put any arms control agreement in writing.

Mr. Bush's hard-line negotiating position ignored two facts: Even underthe rosiest scenario, no missile defense system will be ready before2008 at the earliest. And virtually all technical experts believe thatthe 1972 ABM Treaty does not restrict the missile defense research andtesting that the administration needs to conduct in the next severalyears. Regardless, proponents approach the debate with a theologicalfervor. They know missile defense will work as soon as the opponentsstop fighting it.

Missile defense is a debate we do not need to have now. We should keeptesting while not basing our national security strategy on a pipe dream.But Washington's most passionate debates often have a life of their ownand are fueled by egos and politics, not sound policy or reality. So itis with missile defense.

Fortunately, the fallout from this weapon so far is only political.

Christopher Madison directs the missile defense project at theWashington-based Council for a Livable World Education Fund.
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B. Nuclear Terrorism

1.
Report: Nuclear Experts Briefed Bin Laden
UPI
December 12, 2001
(for personal use only)


Two Pakistani nuclear scientists have admitted they conducted longdiscussions about nuclear, chemical and biological weapons with Osamabin Laden, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

The scientists -- Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmoodmet and Abdul Majid -- metwith bin Laden in August in the Afghan capital of Kabul, the reportsaid, citing Pakistani officials. They have insisted the talks were ofan academic nature, adding they did not provide any specific plans tothe suspected terrorist mastermind.

"They spoke extensively about weapons of mass destruction," onePakistani official said, according to The Post. The official describedthe scientists as "very motivated" and "extremist in their ideas," butadded they were "discussing things that didn't materialize, but fallunder the breaking secrets act."

The reported admissions represent a turnabout from their earlier claimsthat they met with bin Laden only to discuss their charitable endeavorsin Afghanistan, according to the accounts provided by Pakistaniintelligence authorities. Neither scientist has been charged with acrime. The Pakistani government is considering charging Mahmood andMajid with violating the national official secrets act, a crime thatcarries a seven-year jail term, the newspaper said. It would be thefirst known case of a nuclear official charged with that offense,officials said. Pakistan has been under pressure from the U.S.government to pursue the investigation of the scientists' relationshipwith bin Laden.
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2.
Terrorists Shop In Russia For Nuclear 'Dirty Bombs'
Bill Wallace
San Francisco Chronicle
December 10, 2001
(for personal use only)


One November morning six years ago, Shamil Basayev, a Chechen rebel,tipped a Russian television reporter that a radioactive weapon had beenburied in Izmailovo Park in downtown Moscow.

It was a warning of the horror Russia could face if it continuedmilitary operations in Chechnya.

In fact, a lead container with a quantity of radioactive cesium inside-- enough to irradiate a wide area if detonated properly -- was laterrecovered at the park.

Such a weapon, known as a "dirty bomb," is "the most accessible nucleardevice for any terrorist," said Bruce Blair, the director of the Centerfor Defense Information, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington, D.C.

Indeed, it's the terrorist weapon most feared in the wake of theSeptember attacks on New York and the Pentagon. There is ample evidencethat Osama bin Laden has tried to obtain nuclear devices, and theWashington Post reported last week that there was a deepening fear inthe Bush administration that there could be such an attack.

"It is something that the president is concerned about and takesseriously," White Housespokesman Ari Fleischer said at a press briefing last Wednesday, "andevery precaution is being put in place."

It's a reasonable fear, Blair told The Chronicle.

"There is no question that there is plenty of radioactive waste aroundthat could be acquired and turned into a dirty bomb just by wrapping itaround dynamite," he said. "I am quite fatalistic about this threat."

SHOPPING MALL FOR TERRORISTS

Since the collapse of communism, the lax security and poor controls atSoviet nuclear warfare facilities have made Russia and its formersatellites a key marketplace -- a virtual "Sharper Image" -- forterrorists.

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that there are 603 tons ofweapons- grade nuclear material inside the former Soviet republics,enough to build 41,000 nuclear weapons.

So far, only about 200 tons of this material have been properly securedwith fences, alarm systems, detection sensors and gates, according to arecent study by the U.S. General Accounting Office. The Department ofEnergy estimates that security measures will not be in place at allRussian facilities until 2020.

A Department of Energy report issued earlier this year by a task forceheaded by former Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker and Washingtonpower lawyer Lloyd Cutler put the peril posed by weak Russian nuclearsafeguards bluntly:

"The most urgent unmet national security threat to the United Statestoday is the danger that weapons of mass destruction or weapons-usablematerial in Russia could be stolen and sold to terrorists or hostilenation-states and used against American troops abroad or citizens athome."

The Izmailovo Park device offers a glimpse at the real threat thatterrorists might devise and use a dirty, or radiation, bomb.

"What it (the incident) demonstrates is that acquiring the materials youneed to make a dirty bomb is really fairly trivial," Blair said. " . . .What this reveals is the attention that one terrorist group was willingto give to the potential for this type of weapon."

STOLEN FROM NUCLEAR PLANT

The material used in the Izmailovo Park weapon appears to have beenstolen from one of Russia's many unsecured nuclear facilities. A weekafter the cesium was recovered from the Moscow park, Russian authoritiesfound four 198- pound lead vessels in an abandoned mine shaft in theUral Mountains that contained the same material.

The cesium found in the Urals had been stolen from an industrial plant ashort time before.

It was not the first time radioactive material was lifted from a formerSoviet facility, nor would it be the last.

In 1993, scientists at the Sukhumi nuclear research center in Georgiafled oncoming Georgian insurgents, leaving behind two kilograms ofhighly enriched uranium, enough to make a deadly radiation bomb. When aRussian team returned four years later, the radioactive material wasgone.

"That is actually the most serious case," said Blair. "It doesn't getmuch more serious than that. That's the kind of material you use to makea real nuclear weapon, not just a dirty bomb."

In 1996, Russian officials reported that a large cache of nuclear waste-- including plutonium and uranium isotopes used in atomic weapons --was missing from a storage site in Chechnya.

And just last year, authorities at the border between Uzbekistan andPakistan seized ten lead-lined containers of strontium 90, a materialthat can be used to turn a conventional explosive device into aradiation weapon.

There is little question that bin Laden has coveted nuclear weaponry foryears. He once said that acquiring weapons of mass destruction for usein the war against the West was a "religious duty."

In 1998, an aide to bin Laden, Mamdouh Mahmud Salim, was arrested inGermany for reportedly attempting to obtain highly enriched uranium inthe mid- 1990s. Testimony during recent trials of bin Laden associatesin Egypt and the United States included word of his al Qaeda terroristgroup's repeated efforts to buy nuclear weaponry and radioactivematerial.

'SUITCASE BOMB'

In the past five years, bin Laden has spent more than $3 millionattempting to acquire a portable nuclear device from sources in theformer Soviet Union, said Yossef Bodansky, the staff director of theU.S. Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfareand author of "Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War on America."

Bodansky said bin Laden had been most interested in obtaining a"suitcase bomb" that would be harder to detect and easier to deliverthan a conventional bulky military weapon.

"Although there is debate over the precise quantities of weaponspurchased, there is no longer much doubt that bin Laden has finallysucceeded in his quest for nuclear suitcase bombs," Bodansky said.

Since 1991, the United States has spent roughly $2 billion on variousprograms to help prevent Russian nuclear materials from falling into thehands of terrorists.

The effort has succeeded in securing nuclear weapons and facilities in anumber of parts of the former Soviet Union, and eliminating thementirely in Kazakstan and Ukraine.

But policymakers and disarmament experts say the program has beenunderfunded and complicated by the fact that many Russian officialsremain reluctant to allow U.S. personnel to enter secret facilities orhave data on their nuclear arsenal.

Whatever the reasons, experts say U.S. efforts to deny terrorists accessto the store of Russian nuclear materials so far just haven't been goodenough.

"It's a serious threat, and one that requires serious attention," saidGraham Allison, director of the Belfer Center for Science andInternational Affairs at Harvard University and an assistant secretaryof defense during the Clinton administration.

"But if you look at our performance on preparing for chemical orbiological or nuclear weapons, it looks a lot like airport security didbefore Sept. 11," he said. "If we were giving a report card, you wouldhave to say we are failing."
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C. U.S.-Russia Relations

1.
Lonesome George
St. Louis Today
December 13, 2001
(for personal use only)


In Some Ways, President George W. Bush's decision to abandon the 1972Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty next spring can be seen as the rightdecision for the wrong reason. The treaty is a product of differenttimes, hardly more reflective of today's political realities than theTreaty of Ghent. Had the president agreed with Russian PresidentVladimir Putin to work out a new agreement and reduce nuclear weapons,it would have been a diplomatic coup of the first magnitude.

Mr. Bush didn't do that. He just gave Mr. Putin the required six months'notice that the United States would no longer be bound by the terms ofthe treaty. The president's purpose is to clear the way for increasedtesting of his National Missile Defense system; such tests are forbiddenby the ABM treaty.

Thus the president has created several bad outcomes: abandoning yetanother international agreement at a time when the U.S. is relying onworld-wide coalition against terror; making Russia, which sees the ABMtreaty as the last vestige of its superpower days of glory, very upset;making its NATO allies nervous, and setting the U.S. on a course tospend anywhere from $60 billion to $200 billion in the next 10 years ona missile defense system. Problem is, it's a system that (a) may neverwork; (b) eats up money that could better be spent on other defenseneeds, and (c) does little, if anything, to address the real threatsthat now face the nation, or are likely to in the foreseeable future.

Mr. Bush is a zealous convert to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld'sTom Swiftian view of the future. Mr. Rumsfeld and other NMD proponentsbelieve that the U.S. can safely hide behind a Maginot Line of missiledefense, using technology to fight wars long distance. They adjust theseviews to fit changing circumstances. At first, NMD was going to protectus from worldwide nuclear war. Then it was going to protect us from"rogue states" like North Korea or Iraq, which may develop dirty bombsand launch capability. Now it's going to protect us from terrorists whobuild ballistic missiles in their caves and launch them from the back ofToyota pickups.

"Suppose," Mr. Bush said in his speech at the Citadel military collegeTuesday, "the Taliban and the terrorists had been able to strike America. . . with a ballistic missile?"

They didn't have to. Box-cutters and postage stamps did the trick.Ballistic missiles are extraordinarily hard to build and almost as hardto conceal. Putting a nuke in a crate and shipping it up the HoustonShip Channel is far easier, not to mention that it makes retaliationharder. ICBMs leave a nice trail; rogue nations that launch them todaywill be smoking rubble tomorrow. This "mutually assured destruction" waswhat made the ABM treaty work.

A real-world solution to nuclear terrorism lies not in missile defense,but controlling nuclear stockpiles and fissionable material. There'sstill time to work this out. President Putin has indicated a willingnessto reduce Russia's nuclear arms and get control of his nation's nuclearinventory. Mr. Bush said Wednesday he is willing to help. Other nationscould sign on to a truly international arms control agreement, a worthysuccessor to the ABM treaty.

Mr. Bush has a choice. He can lead a worldwide coalition for globalnuclear security, or continue riding off, a lonesome cowboy chasing amirage.
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2.
Trading 'Good' For 'Iffy'
Los Angeles Times
December 12, 2001
(for personal use only)


So much for multilateralism. The Bush administration took officeignoring or promising to scrap treaties, not holding much regard for theUnited Nations and looking to go it alone in foreign policy. After Sept.11 there was hope that had changed.

But now come reports that Washington will abandon the 1972 AntiballisticMissile Treaty, a cornerstone of relations with the Soviet Union andlater with Russia. Washington is expected to announce its intentionsoon, within weeks or perhaps even days. The administration said theUnited States would be better off with a national missile defense systemto protect against nuclear attack. What's really best for the U.S. isfor Washington to work with Russia to interpret or amend the ABM treatyso that some testing and construction of missile defenses could occur.

A national missile defense system would be enormously expensive, andthere are no indications it's feasible. The ABM treaty shouldn't bejunked for a "maybe" defense. The timing of the reports are unfortunate,coming one day after Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said in Russiathat both sides were "very close" to an agreement on exactly how manyoffensive nuclear weapons each would destroy. That represents progressin removing an existing threat.

Bush said in his speech at the Citadel Tuesday that the U.S. needs"limited and effective defenses against a missile attack." He againcalled the ABM treaty a relic of "a different era."

European leaders, not to mention the Chinese and the Russians, disputethat. Powell flew from Russia to Germany, where Chancellor GerhardSchroeder said that while arms control agreements might be modified,they should not be tossed into the trash. Russian Foreign Minister IgorS. Ivanov described the ABM agreement as key to ensuring stability inthe world--although he indicated that Russia might not take reprisals ifWashington abrogated the pact. The ABM treaty is not a relic but astrategic foundation; that's why it has lasted so long.

Washington needs Russian cooperation on other matters, includingassistance to Iran's nuclear power program and security at Russiannuclear sites, so old Soviet weapons don't someday wind up in the UnitedStates on a ship or plane in the custody of terrorists. The UnitedStates has warned Russia of its concerns about Iran and rightly ishelping with funds to improve security of nuclear weapons. For eachdollar spent, Washington--and the world--will get more safety fromsecuring existing weapons than from a technically very iffy missiledefense that requires the U.S. to scrap a long-standing and usefultreaty.
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3.
Bush's Nuclear Brinksmanship
Matt Bivens
The Nation
December 12, 2001
(for personal use only)


It's perhaps impolite to dwell on it, but throughout Vladimir Putin'svisit last month to President Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, the USmilitary had nuclear missiles aimed unwaveringly at his office back homein Russia.

Overall, there are still 2,000 strategic nuclear weapons poised forlaunch on extremely short notice--in just minutes--and aimed at 2,360Russian targets, according to Bruce Blair, president of the Center forDefense Information.

This may sound like a passive situation--missiles standing aroundwaiting to be used, as they have been for decades--but it's actuallyquite active. The US military still sends frequent reconnaissance planesprowling the edge of Russian air space, looking for entry corridors forstrategic B-2 and B-52 bombers, should that sad day ever come. "They flyaround the borders checking the performance of air defense radars,assessing coverage, looking for where the holes are," said Blair.

Several months ago, Blair--a former Minuteman missile launchofficer--spoke with a flight crew in Omaha, Nebraska, that was freshback from just such a Russian border-probing exercise. The crews toldhim they hadn't seen a Russian fighter jet come up to challenge them inyears.

Meanwhile, a launch somewhere in the world just about every day sendscrews at NORAD, the strategic command outfit, into "three-minutehuddles." They are supposed to emerge in that time period with anevaluation of the threat, if any, and recommendations for the President,if appropriate.

Blair, on a recent visit to NORAD, said he watched just such anemergency huddle in response to a Russian missile launch report. Itturned out to be a Russian Scud missile fired into Chechnya, he said.

Blair was speaking at a conference in New York on weapons of massdestruction, "Cold War Legacies in a Post-9/11 World," sponsored by theNation Institute, the Institute for Policy Studies and three New Yorkuniversities, which also featured remarks by Jonathan Schell, FrancesFitzGerald, Michael Klare and many others.

To a rapt audience Blair recounted how two years ago he watched juniorofficers in Wyoming performing the same job Blair had performed thirtyyears ago: rehearsing a nuclear missile launch. For Blair and a filmcrew, two young officers in their 20s simulated turning the keys tolaunch fifty ICBMs carrying a total of 500 nuclear warheads--a task theywould be expected to accomplish within just two minutes of receivingorders.

The occasion of Blair's Wyoming visit was the Y2K problem--rememberthat? Washington and Moscow had judged it prudent to have Russianmilitary observers present in Colorado Springs on New Year's Eve at aY2K center, where they could track US military activity.

There was much talk afterward of a joint missile warning center to bebuilt near Moscow, but work on it ground to a halt about a year ago."The Russians got the signal from the Bush Administration that they werenot interested in continuing with this," Blair said in an interviewafter his New York talk.

But aren't we friends with the Russians now? And didn't candidate GeorgeBush talk about de alerting nuclear weapons? And aren't we getting ridof a whole bunch of missiles now after the Crawford handshake?

Well, if we are friends with the Russians, our nuclear policies are onlyslowly catching up. A classified Nuclear Posture Review drawn up by theBush Administration should soon be in the hands of key members ofCongress. Sources familiar with the report's contents say it does indeeddowngrade the Russian threat--part of the justification for Bush'sannouncement in Crawford that we will stand down our current6,000-missile arsenal to as low as 1,700.

But what's odd is that Bush said this would take ten years --even thoughhis Administration is not dismantling the missiles, only "de-alerting"them, i.e., taking the warheads off and storing them. "Why that wouldtake ten years is beyond me," said John Isaacs of the Council for aLivable World, a disarmament group focused on lobbying Congress. (And asto those 1,700 missiles, there are still another 4,000 tactical nukes onhand, Isaacs said, nearly all of them many times larger than the bombsthat destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki.)

De-alerting missiles means keeping them but making them much harder tolaunch in just minutes. Candidate Bush had talked about de-alertingnearly all of the missile fleet. But in the new Nuclear Posture Review,Blair said, "They've categorically rejected de-alerting. [Bush] hasreversed himself completely."
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4.
U.S. And Russia To Complete Talks On An Arms Control Pact
Patrick E. Tyler
The New York Times
December 11, 2001
(for personal use only)


Russia and the United States said today that they had agreed to completenegotiations on a new strategic arms control accord that could codify asignificant reduction in offensive weapons - to about 2,000 weapons each- even if they do not reach agreement on missile defenses.

After meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin, Secretary of State ColinL. Powell said for the first time that the accord might take the form ofa treaty, something the Bush administration has resisted in its quest toact unilaterally in structuring the American nuclear arsenal for thefuture.

Secretary Powell and the Russian foreign minister, Igor S. Ivanov, saidat a Kremlin news conference that they were under instructions from bothpresidents to prepare the arms control accord and have it ready forsigning when President Bush makes a state visit to Moscow in the middleof next year.

Both Secretary Powell and Mr. Ivanov agreed, by contrast, that they hadmade no progress on the thorny issue of missile defenses as the UnitedStates continues to press forward with plans for a series of tests nextspring that would violate the terms of the 1972 Antiballistic MissileTreaty.

The envisioned accord on reducing nuclear arms would include significantprovisions borrowed from the Start I and Start II treaties to ensurethat each side was informed of the capabilities and deployments of theother side's nuclear forces, Secretary Powell said.

"Both of our presidents have charged us to finish this work as soon aspossible," Secretary Powell said, "and find ways to formalize thisagreement at lower levels of strategic offensive numbers and to try toget the work concluded in time" for a Moscow summit.

"Both of us recognize the need for there to be a codification of the newlevels, and we will be discussing the form that will take," he added."It might be the form of a treaty or some other way of codifying it."

Mr. Ivanov echoed those remarks, saying, "There is an understandingexpressed by both sides that these reductions need to be imported intosome treaty formulation and here in the negotiations, we will decidewhich form it will take."

Last month, after Mr. Putin and Mr. Bush met in Crawford, Tex.,Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, said pointedly thatwhile the Russians had spoken of the need for a treaty, the Americanside had not.

Secretary Powell's remarks today suggested that a treaty might benecessary if any new accord that set limits on the size of the nucleararsenals was to extend beyond the term in office of both leaders.

The announcement today appeared to affirm that Mr. Bush and Mr. Putinhave moved well beyond the testy oratory that characterized the openingmonths of the Bush administration.

Moreover, Mr. Bush appears to have modified his initial approach to armscontrol after developing a personal relationship with Mr. Putin, arelationship that has been bolstered by cooperation with the Russiansafter the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

In the meetings in Moscow today, Secretary Powell said he expected toreceive a detailed description from the Russians of strategic armsreductions Moscow was willing to make. The United States has said itwill reduce its arsenal of about 6,000 warheads to between 1,700 and2,200.

Mr. Putin has spoken of his desire to go as low as 1,500 warheads, whichwould save Moscow from having to make major investments in new strategicmissiles to replace the Soviet-era multiple-warhead rockets reaching theend of their service life in the next decade.

A State Department official said that the Russians did not provide anumerical breakdown on how they planned to reduce their offensivenuclear forces today.

"Maybe they are still editing the draft," the official said, adding, "Itis up to them to announce it when they want to but I don't think we haveany concern about that." The administration knows, he said, that thenumbers are going to be in the ballpark of the American reductions.

A State Department official traveling with Secretary Powell said theagreement on reductions in offensive weapons could go forward despitethe deadlock over missile defenses.

The official indicated that Russian officials wanted the United Statesto engage in detailed discussions on each level of missile-defensetesting, something that Washington fears would amount to giving Moscow aveto over tests if the Kremlin deems a particular test would violate,even nullify, the ABM treaty.

"We have always been willing to explain our testing program," the StateDepartment official said, adding, "That is different than giving themapproval for any particular test."

Mr. Ivanov said today that Russia "has never put any prerequisites orconditions with regard to the ABM treaty," which he said stillrepresented "the key element of the whole treaty system of providingstrategic stability in the world."

The Russian view that the ABM treaty is the cornerstone of strategicarms control is largely shared by Washington's allies in Europe.

While in Moscow, Secretary Powell also met with leaders of the RussianParliament, whose members wanted to know whether the intensification ofRussian-American relations during the antiterror campaign in Afghanistanwould disappear after the United States achieved its objectives.

An American official who was present quoted Secretary Powell as replyingthat "what happened on Sept. 11 didn't start something, it accelerated"an improvement in relations that "President Bush wants to makepermanent."

In his talks with Mr. Ivanov, Secretary Powell raised the sensitiveissue of Russia's arms sales to Iran and Moscow's assistance in buildingthe first nuclear power station in Iran at Bushehr.

The State Department official said Washington acknowledged Russia'sright to make certain conventional arms sales to Iran, but was concernedabout sales of sophisticated weaponry and nuclear assistance that mightadvance Iran's secret efforts to build nuclear weapons.

"Our problem is that the legitimate nuclear programs have been used as acover for a whole lot of other transfers and training that we think isdangerous in a country that we see is trying to develop nuclearweapons," the American official said.
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D. Russia-Iran Relations

1.
Ukraine Wants To Boost Trade With Iran
RFE/RL Newsline
December 13, 2001
(for personal use only)


Ukrainian Foreign Minister Anatoliy Zlenko called for a boost in tradewith Iran during talks with his Iranian counterpart Kamal Kharrazi inTeheran on 12 December, Reuters reported. "We discussed theIran-Ukraine-Europe gas pipeline project that would open up new marketsfor Iranian gas and diversify gas-supply routes to Europe ifimplemented," Zlenko told a news conference. Relations between Tehranand Kyiv suffered a setback in 1998 when Ukraine, under U.S. pressure, pulled out of a lucrative dealto sell Iran turbines for a nuclear reactor being built at Iran'ssouthern port of Bushehr by Russian engineers. "We feel that there ismuch room for expansion of trade ties in the field of aircraftmanufacturing, energy, chemicals, and agriculture," Zlenko added.
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E. Russian Nuclear Industry

1.
Ukraine, Russia Sign Agreement On Completing Reactors To Replace Chernobyl
BBC Monitoring Service/UNIAN News Agency
December 14, 2001
(for personal use only)


The governments of Russia and Ukraine have signed an agreement inKharkiv on completing and launching the No 2 power generation set of theKmelnytskyy nuclear plant and the No 4 set of the Rivne plant.[Presidents Leonid Kuchma and Vladimir Putin are meeting in Kharkivtoday.]

[The Khmelnytskyy and Rivne reactors are intended to make up for thepower output lost through the closure of Chernobyl. Ukraine said earlierthat the EBRD loan terms to complete the reactors, including a rise inelectricity tariffs, were unacceptable, adding that negotiations withthe bank would continue. The last Chernobyl reactor was shut down on 15December 2000.]
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2.
Output Cut At Russian Nuclear Station After Coolant Leak
RIA via BBC Monitoring Service
December 10, 2001
(for personal use only)


The capacity of the No.2 power set at Smolensk nuclear power station wascut by 50 per cent following a leak from a cooler filter in the No.3turbogenerator on Monday [10 December]. The generator was shut down forrepair work.

RIA-Novosti news agency was told by the station's public informationcenter that the generating capacity of the second power set is now 500MW and that of the first and third sets up to 1,000 MW. Radiation levelson and around the station premises are normal.
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F. Announcements

1.
Remarks By The President At The Citadel, December 11, 2001

".... Working with other countries, we will strengthen nonproliferationtreaties and toughen export controls. Together, we must keep the world'smost dangerous technologies out of the hands of the world's mostdangerous people.

A crucial partner in this effort is Russia-- a nation we are helping todismantle strategic weapons, reduce nuclear material, and increasesecurity at nuclear sites. Our two countries will expand efforts toprovide peaceful employment for scientists who formerly worked in Sovietweapons facilities. The United States will also work with Russia tobuild a facility to destroy tons of nerve agent. I'll request anover-all increase in funding to support this vital mission...."
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G. Links of Interest

1.
The ABM Treaty and Missile Defense Testing: Does the U.S. Need toWithdraw Now?
Union of Concerned Scientists, December 13, 2001
http://www.ucsusa.org/security/ABM_analysis.pdf
2.
Chronology of Nuclear Standoff, Las Vegas Sun (12/13/01)
http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/text/2001/dec/13/121308853.html
3.
Weapons of Mass Destruction and the Global Nuclear Balance: AQuantitative andArms Control Analysis, Anthony Cordesman (12/04/01)
http://www.csis.org/burke/mb/nuclear.pdf


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DISCLAIMER: Nuclear News is presented for informational purposes only.Views presented in any given article are those of the individual authoror source and not of RANSAC. RANSAC takes no responsibility for thetechnical accuracy of information contained in any article presented inNuclear News.



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