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Nuclear News - 12/19/01
RANSAC Nuclear News, December 19, 2001
Compiled by David Smigielski

A. Cooperative Threat Reduction
    1. USA To Provide Aid To Russia To Protect Nuclear Materials At Chemical Plant, ITAR-TASS/BBC Monitoring Service (12/17/01)
    2. US Experts Arrive At Russian Nuclear Facility, ITAR-TASS /BBC Monitoring Service (12/17/01)
    3. Do More To Safeguard Nukes, Manfred Menking, The Wichita Eagle (12/17/01)
B. Russia-U.S.
    1. Real Men Don't Proliferate, Mary McGrory, The Washington Post (12/16/01)
    2. Nuclear Threat: The Old Terror Is Still There, Cincinnati Enquirer (12/14/01)
C. U.S.-Russia HEU Purchase Agreement
    1. USEC Wins In Ruling On Imports: U.S. Tariffs Will Be Imposed On Two European Companies That Sold Enriched Uranium At Unfair Low Prices, Bill Bartleman, The Paducah Sun (12/15/01)
D. Russian Nuclear Industry
    1. Russia Plans Big Investment In Nuclear Industry, BBC Monitoring Service/Interfax (12/18/01)
    2. Russia To Build Four Nuclear Generating Sets Within Next Eight Years, BBC Monitoring Service/ITAR-TASS (12/17/01)
    3. Russian Security Service Finds Security Breach At Nuclear Power Plant, BBC Monitoring Service/Nezavisimaya Gazeta (12/17/01)
    4. Kazakh National Nuclear Company Increases Uranium Production, Panorama/BBC Monitoring Service (12/16/01)
E. Russian Nuclear Waste
    1. Audit Chamber Says Russia Facing Nuclear-Waste Crisis, Associated Press (12/17/01)
F. Russian Nuclear Cities
    1. Russian TV Visits Once-Secret Nuclear Facility Mayak In The Urals, BBC Monitoring Service/ NTV (12/17/01)
G. Links of Interest
    1. Transcript: Interview With Vladimir Putin, Financial Times (12/15/01)

A. Cooperative Threat Reduction

USA To Provide Aid To Russia To Protect Nuclear Materials At Chemical Plant
ITAR-TASS/BBC Monitoring Service
December 17, 2001
(for personal use only)

US and Russian experts are currently negotiating measures to protectnuclear materials at the Krasnoyarsk chemical complex, chief engineer ofthe enterprise Yuriy Revenko told ITAR-TASS today. He said that thecurrent visit of American experts to Krasnoyarsk was one more step inthe joint effort to ensure the safety of nuclear materials at the plant,where one of the reactors is used to produce weapons-grade plutonium.The United States has already rendered assistance to the Siberians a fewyears ago by providing them with special equipment.

However, after the 11 September events, it was found necessary totoughen the security measures both in the nuclear production departmentsof the complex and at plutonium storehouses. The sides are expected tosign a contract on US financing of additional measures to protect thenuclear materials, Revenko noted.
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US Experts Arrive At Russian Nuclear Facility
ITAR-TASS /BBC Monitoring Service
December 17, 2001
(for personal use only)

American and Russian experts are discussing the security of nuclearmaterials at the [Krasnoyarsk] chemical plant [Krasnoyarsk-26 nuclearfacility in Zheleznogorsk], the plant's chief engineer Yuriy Revenkotold ITAR-TASS.

The current visit is just another step in bilateral cooperation on thesecurity of the nuclear facility, where a nuclear reactor is used forproducing weapons-grade plutonium, Revenko said. Several years ago theUSA supplied the combine with special security equipment.

After the events of 11 September [terrorist attacks in New York andWashington] both sides felt the need to enhance the security of thenuclear plant itself and the plutonium storage facilities. The USdelegation came to Krasnoyarsk to discuss the funding of additionalprotection measures, Revenko said.
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Do More To Safeguard Nukes
Manfred Menking
The Wichita Eagle
December 17, 2001
(for personal use only)

Since 1991, the departments of Defense, Energy and State have workedwith Russia and former Soviet Union states to control, eliminate andprevent the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons,as well as weapons-usable materials. Sponsored by Sen. Richard Lugar,R-Ind., and former Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Ga., these "cooperative threatreduction" programs have provided targeted funds of close to $1 billionannually to Russia.

During his election campaign, President George W. Bush advocatedstrengthening cooperative threat reduction. However, the president's2002 budget request represents significant reductions, with 32 percentlower allocations for the Department of Energy's nuclear-securityprograms. This includes a massive cut to only $15 million forsafeguarding and disposing of Russian plutonium, the prime material formaking a nuclear bomb. Last month, the president declared hisdetermination not to accept an increase of spending for cooperativethreat reduction.

Following the Taliban retreat from Kabul on Nov. 15, detailed designplans were recovered from an abandoned house, revealing the al-Qaidanetwork's quest for nuclear bombs. British intelligence sources reportevidence that Osama bin Laden and his terrorists consider acquisition ofsuch weapons a "religious duty."

Even if they currently lack the know-how to design a nuclearchain-reaction weapon, the terrorists could build a "dirty bomb" byadding plutonium into a conventional explosive, spreading deadlyradioactive plutonium over wide areas.

A January 2001 task-force report of the Department of Energy -- headedby Howard Baker, a former Republican Senate majority leader and thecurrent ambassador to Japan, and former White House counsel Lloyd Cutler-- stated that "the most urgent unmet national security threat to theUnited States today is the danger that weapons of mass destruction orweapons-usable material can be stolen and sold to terrorists or hostilenation-states and used against American troops abroad or citizens athome." The report recommended that funding for threat reduction programsshould be tripled to about $3 billion per year and increased to $30billion in eight to 10 years.

Last March, Baker told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: "Itreally boggles my mind that there could be 40,000 nuclear weapons, ormaybe 80,000 in the former Soviet Union, poorly controlled and poorlystored, and that the world isn't in a near state of hysteria about thedanger."

With a projected military budget of more than $350 billion for 2002,increased funding must be available. The billions now spent onintercontinental ballistic missile defense would be vastly moregainfully directed toward this much greater immediate threat.

Manfred Menking lives in Wichita and is a member of Physicians forSocial Responsibility.
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B. Russia-U.S.

Real Men Don't Proliferate
Mary McGrory
The Washington Post
December 16, 2001
(for personal use only)

It was a wonderful week for national missile defense. George W. Bushtriumphantly announced he was taking a powder from the ABM Treaty thatinhibits his progress to Star Wars. It was a terrible week fornon-proliferation legislation, which had, in the Senate, another of itsnear-death experiences.

The goal in both enterprises, of course, is to protect us fromattack,either nuclear or biological. They couldn't be more different in concept-- and cost. The president's beloved NMD, with all the bells andwhistles, could bring in a bill in the neighborhood of $130 billion to$150 billion. Full funding of the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative ThreatReduction Program would come to $40 billion, according to former senatorSam Nunn (D-Ga.), who with Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.) created the programcalculated to bring Russian nuclear storage out of the used-car lotclass.

Bush gave lip service to Nunn-Lugar in the campaign, but in the WhiteHouse has not put his money where his mouth is. The president cut $40million and later $73 million for bright ideas such as relocatingunemployed and hungry Russian scientists to commercial ventures. SenateForeign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) pointsout that the Russians need our help to manage their enriched uraniumsupply. "These are materials which could be made into bombs in terroristhands."

Nunn, who still enjoys an enormous reputation among his erstwhilecolleagues, complains that we have never taken seriously enough thewarning of a special task force created late in the Clintonadministration. It was headed by two impeccably conventional figures,former Senate majority leader Howard Baker (R-Tenn.) and former ClintonWhite House counsel Lloyd Cutler. Their conclusion: Unsecured Russianweapons, materials and know-how comprise "the most urgent unmet nationalsecurity threat to the U.S."

The Bush administration seems to regard the unglamorous Nunn-Lugareffort the way it regards conservation -- as something sissy. Real mendrill -- they drill for oil in Alaska; they drill holes in Alaska toaccommodate the hardware required for the Star Wars system.

Recently Biden mesmerized a Democratic caucus lunch with an account of aRussian biological weapons stockpile that was inspected by Nunn andLugar. It looked like a chicken coop. Its only security was a padlock,Biden said.

But two days later, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to cut $46million in Nunn Lugar funds. Lugar hastily rounded up a high-levelprotest, recruiting Chairman Biden, Senate Armed Services CommitteeChair Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) toimportune the members to remember we are in a war against terrorism, anda cut in funds could send a wrong signal. It worked.

Bush's announcement came at a particularly hectic moment. The movie ofthe week was a home video of bin Laden gloating over Sept. 11. Thepresident didn't claim that NMD would have stopped our worst domestictragedy. He only says that if these fiends get hold of missiles, we canhandle them. We can, that is, if the contraption works. That's a big if,and an expensive one, but nobody seems to want to contradict George Bushthese days.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, Bush's new best friend, for instance,seemed extremely subdued. He said the decision to withdraw was "amistake," but indicated it was one he could live with. Other Russiannotables grumbled some, but not too convincingly, rumbling on aboutPutin's naivete in thinking that George Bush would make his life easier.Even the Chinese were quite polite in the end. After all, Uncle Sam is agood customer.

Nunn was ever the good soldier, sober and correct and presenting thepositive view. The ABM Treaty allows a six-month grace period betweennotice of withdrawal and an actual departure. He expressed the hope thatthe interlude might be used by both sides to negotiate an agreementwhereby Bush could press on without actually violating the treaty. Fatchance.

The reality check came from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, anunabashed, career-long Star Warrior. "I personally think," he said athis Thursday matinee, "that people ought to be relieved that this isbehind us. It has been kind of a sticking point."

Over the past three months, we've had lots of time to think about whatmight have stopped the tragedy of Sept. 11. Air marshals on flightswould have been a deterrent. The only thing we know for certain thatcould have stopped the carnage were locked cockpits. What we may needmore than all the sensors and lasers and other high-tech paraphernaliais a tough and reasonable approach to Russia's starving scientists. Weshould be fashioning blood-curdling warnings that if they so much aslook at terrorists who want to buy their talents, we'll stop at nothingto stop them.
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Nuclear Threat: The Old Terror Is Still There
Cincinnati Enquirer
December 14, 2001
(for personal use only)

What's the most dangerous nuclear terror facing the United States? Abomb built by a rogue state such as Iraq or North Korea? Some al-Qaidafanatic sneaking a dirty nuke over the border in a suitcase?

Wrong. Even though President Bush said Thursday that "the Cold War islong gone," the most dangerous nuclear threat to the United States stillis a missile launch from Russia. That's according to Bruce Blair,president of the Center for Defense Information in Washington D.C., andformer senior fellow with the Brookings Institution.

Mr. Blair deals in threat assessments. For 13 years at Brookings he wasa senior fellow in the Foreign Policy Studies Program. He is an experton the security policies of the U.S. and Russia, specializing in theirnuclear command and control systems. His experience is more thanacademic. From 1970-74 he was an Air Force Minuteman ICBM launch controlofficer with the Strategic Air Command - one of the people with hisfinger on the button.

Last week he addressed a group of editorial writers during a seminar onthe world of terror. He told us that to understand the risk of nuclearassault, we should understand just who controls the forces.

In this country, it is likely to be two guys in their 20s sitting in abunker under the Wyoming prairie with 500 high-yield warheads at theirfingertips. For them, the cold war has never ended. The missiles stillare aimed at the same Eastern Bloc targets they always were (even thoughthe Eastern Bloc isn't there any more). These guys still operate asthough the security of the American way of life depends on their abilityto fight large scale nuclear war on a moment's notice.

Actually, two moments' notice - that's how much time is supposed toelapse between the order and when the missiles leave the silos. Mr.Blair notes that in the 25 years since he was a missileer in such abunker the protocols for unleashing world-ending destruction remainunchanged. Those protocols weren't affected by Thursday's announcmentthat we no longer need the 1972 ABM Treaty.

Each side could fire 4,000 missiles with the combined power of 80,000Hiroshima bombs. All they have to do is run down the checklists.

Under Cheyenne Mountain, the Colorado control center made famous in FailSafe, others stand watch, looking for possible launches from "the otherside." They go through the drill two or three times a day. Sometimeswhat they see are communication satellites or missile tests. There is athree-minute assessment to see if the situation is serious enough tocall the president.

If the president got such a call, it would be followed by a briefingfrom a duty officer at SAC headquarters in Omaha. There are 30 secondsallocated for the briefing. The president then gets 12 minutes to decideif he wants to get our missiles off before they are hit by what might beincoming.

A big safeguard on this system is the high level of skill, training andalertness of all the people involved. But now look at the other side.

Somewhere in Russia is another missile bunker, manned by another pair ofyoung soldiers with similar hair-trigger protocols. According to Mr.Blair, the Russian rocket force suffers from a high level of alcoholism.It is also underpaid, which means many of the soldiers manning the silosspend their off-duty hours working a second job. So when they come onduty, there is a good chance they might be tired or hung over. Notexactly the level of alertness we might hope for to prevent anaccidental holocaust.

The scariest part of the assessment is that few people disagree with it.The day after hearing the talk, the same group of editorial writersasked Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to respond to Mr. Blair's riskestimate. He acknowledged the seriousness of the threat.

The good news is that the Russians aren't the bad guys any more.Presidents Bush and Putin realize their biggest worries aren't are eachother.

With that in mind, maybe it would be a good idea to reassess our launchprotocols. If we no longer have to fear a first strike from Russia,let's ease the hammer down on the nukes.Why not give those guys in thesilos 10 minutes instead of two? Let's give the presidents an hour tothink instead of 12 minutes.

Then let's make our top priority the people who really want to hurt us,instead of those who might just do it by mistake.
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C. U.S.-Russia HEU Purchase Agreement

USEC Wins In Ruling On Imports: U.S. Tariffs Will Be Imposed On TwoEuropean Companies That Sold Enriched Uranium At Unfair Low Prices.
Bill Bartleman
The Paducah Sun
December 15, 2001
(for personal use only)

Two European companies that compete with USEC Inc. are selling enricheduranium in the United States at unfair low prices, the U.S. Departmentof Commerce has ruled.

The final ruling issued Friday is essentially the same as a preliminaryruling issued last summer, and is a victory for USEC. The company fileda complaint a year ago with the Department of Commerce and the U.S.International Trade Commission.

The ruling says Eurodif, S.A., a firm controlled by the Frenchgovernment, and the British operation of Urenco Ltd. will be assessedhigher import duties to make their prices competitive with USEC, whichoperates the nation's only uranium enrichment plant in Paducah.

The investigation found that the companies charged prices below thosecharged in their home countries or below their cost plus a reasonableprofit. In some cases, they found the prices were low because ofgovernment subsidies.

An extra duty of 32.78 percent will be applied to the value of importedenriched uranium from France and an extra duty of 2.26 percent will beapplied to imports from Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom,according to the ruling.

The International Trade Commission on Jan. 18 is scheduled to issue afinal ruling on its investigation of the effect the low-priced uraniumhad on USEC. Earlier this year, the agency's preliminary ruling was thatthe low-priced imports threatened to harm domestic production ofenriched uranium.

The higher duty is expected to help protect jobs at the Paducah GaseousDiffusion Plant and the Honeywell plant in Metropolis, Ill., whichproduces raw product for Paducah. Together, they employ 1,800 people.

Urenco Ltd. revealed earlier this week that it is considering buildingan enrichment plant in the United States that would provide even morecompetition for USEC. The company said it could begin preliminaryenvironmental approval next month. It hasn't picked a site for the $1billionfacility.
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D. Russian Nuclear Industry

Russia Plans Big Investment In Nuclear Industry
BBC Monitoring Service/ Interfax
December 18, 2001
(for personal use only)

Next year Russia intends to invest R23.5bn in the advancement of itsnuclear power engineering on condition that electricity tariffs do notgrow more than 35 per cent, as the Russian governmentdecided earlier. The figures were disclosed to the press by AtomicEnergy Minister Aleksandr Rumyantsev after a Tuesday [18 December]cabinet meeting that discussed the investment programme of theRosenergoatom generating company.

He named as the most important investment projects in 2002 themodernization of the first power unit at the Kursk power station andalso the Kalinin plant in Tver Region that is to be commissioned in2003. Installation and decoration operations at the Kalinin stationshould be speeded up, Rumyantsev said.
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Russia To Build Four Nuclear Generating Sets Within Next Eight Years
BBC Monitoring Service/ITAR-TASS
December 17, 2001
(for personal use only)

Within the next eight years, Russia is planning to put into operation atleast four new generating sets at the Kalinin nuclear power station(2003), Volgodonsk nuclear power station (2005), Kursk nuclear powerstation (2002) and Beloyarsk nuclear power station (2009), RussianAtomic Energy Minister Aleksandr Rumyantsev told a news conferencetoday.

Reactors of the VVER-1000 type (water-moderated water-cooled reactor)will be put into operation at the Kalinin and Volgodonsk nuclear powerstations, an RBMK (uranium graphite channel-type reactor, similar to theChernobyl-type reactor) at the Kursk nuclear power station, and a BN-800(fast-neutron cycle) reactor at the Beloyarsk nuclear power station. Theminister said all generating sets had been modernized to meet modernsafety standards.

Aleksandr Rumyantsev believes that "post-Chernobyl renaissance" can nowbe observed in Russia's nuclear power engineering sector. He expressedthe hope that, in several years time, the volume of electricitygenerated by nuclear power stations will double following an increase inthe generating capacities of these stations, to go up from 15 per cent(of the country's total electricity output on average) to 30 per cent.

The minister said new types of cooling agents and fuel for nuclear powerstations were being designed, and this would make it possible to builtmore reliable and efficient stations.
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Russian Security Service Finds Security Breach At Nuclear Power Plant
BBC Monitoring Service/Nezavisimaya Gazeta
December 17, 2001
(for personal use only)

After Russian security service discovered serious security breach in oneof the nuclear power plants, Atomic Energy Minister Aleksandr Rumyantsevsaved his job by complaining about shortage of money in the sector,Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper reported on 14 December. The paper pointedout that, at the same time, the ministry has spent 160m dollars on aluxury ski resort in an area with restricted access and entered into acontract through an offshore intermediary to process spent nuclear fuelfrom Bulgaria at prices below commercial. The following is the text ofreport by Russian newspaper on 14 December, subheadings are aspublished:

The Ministry of Atomic Energy in the middle of a scandal. Here isinformation to ponder: roughly a month and a half ago, the FSS [FederalSecurity Service] conducted exercises where among many other things, asecurity inspection was conducted at Russia's strategic installations.According to some information, in one of the NPPs [nuclear power plants]in the Central Federal District, the Chekists managed to get to the holyof holies, the reactor room, without any special problems.

A fierce scandal broke out! On 10 November, the head of the RussianMinistry of Atomic Energy Aleksandr Rumyantsev was called on the carpetby the president. In principle many of those who by nature of theiractivity were aware of the sensational FSS operation were certain thatRumyantsev would in fact leave the Kremlin as a former minister. But inthe president's office, events started to unfold in a surprising way.

According to the Nezavisimaya Gazeta version, the events in Putin'soffice developed like this. Rumyantsev could certainly have lost his jobthat day. What saved him was that he had been appointed a minister justsix months before. Having received his portion of harsh recriminationsand given his oath, together with the FSS, to increase the security ofRussian NPPs, Aleksandr Rumyantsev complained of a shortage of money inthe sector. The plants, he said, which provide about 15 per cent of allthe electricity in the country are state unitary enterprises andconsequently do not have the right to engage in commercial activity ontheir own. So if the NPPs could just be privatized at least in part...[newspaper's ellipses]

In the 2002 budget, R9bn have been allocated for atomic programmes. Inprinciple the sum is small by state standards - 30m dollars. It issomething else that is strange here - one of the country's richestdepartments which by definition is required not to take from thetreasury butto benefit it is asking for money.

For its entire life, the Ministry of Atomic Energy has been consideredan extremely well-off institution which is clearly not on the governmentdole. And until recently that was confirmed. Among its property is notonly, for example, Konversbank, to which Rumyantsev is now prepared tothrow out enormous amounts of money, but as certain mass media write,the luxurious downhill ski resort of Zavyalikha, which sprawlsimpressively in Chelyabinsk Oblast. A first-class place! There are eightnice trails 2-3 kilometres long, contemporary and very expensive lifts,and night lighting... [newspaper's ellipses] According to ournewspaper's information, 160m dollars was spent to build the resort.Compare that with what the Ministry of Atomic Energy is asking from thebudget. Actually that amount of money is not enough to heat the complex!

Is it perhaps that the Ministry of Atomic Energy simply made a long-terminvestment - it built the super resort which in the future will attractcrowds of sportsmen and bring the Ministry nice profits? Nothing of thesort! Zavyalikha is not just located in Chelyabinsk Oblast, but in aClosed Administrative-Territorial Formation (CATF), which a simplemortal simply cannot get into it. Only with the special authorization ofthe organs. There is no use of even dreaming of any tourists here...Although actually the CATF is sometimes used by appointment - sometimesstockholders meetings of a subordinate bank are held there, in order toensure a quorum, most likely.

And that is called not having money? There may be two possibilities forthe reason the Ministry of Atomic Energy has such an expensive andclearly unprofitable complex. Perhaps Rumyantsev hopes that VladimirPutin, a big fan of the sport of downhill skiing, will visit theseplaces.

Possibility No 2 is: the Ministry's economic status is by no means asdismal as they are trying to make the Kremlin believe.

And there are also two justifications for keeping Konversbank: the firstis simply because they feel like it. Or...

The time has also come to recall the laws which make it possible toimport and process spent nuclear fuel in Russia.

The new edition of the laws on importing spent nuclear fuel was adoptedby the Duma on 1 June 2001. On 7 July Rumyantsev was asked:

"Aleksandr Yuryevich, are there already certain talks with foreignpartners underway on the topic of importing spent nuclear fuel toRussia?"

Rumyantsev answered:

"No, they have not even begun yet..."

And five days later:

"The first spent assemblies might appear in our country from the worldmarket at the earliest in three or four years."

Did They Remember the Dates and Time Periods?

In late November a train which was carrying 41 tonnes of spent nuclearfuel (SNF) slowly crossed Russia's border. The point of departure wasthe Bulgarian NPP Kozloduy. The destination was the Ministry of AtomicEnergy's Zheleznogorsk (former Krasnoyarsk-18) Mining-Chemical Combine.

But certainly that does not happen! Any businessman will confirm that itcould not take just three months from the moment of the start ofnegotiations to the moment the contract starts to be executed! Does thatmean that Rumyantsev was lying when he spoke of the three or four yearswhich Russia supposedly has to prepare to accept SNF? And that at themoment when the minister was discoursing in front of the televisioncameras on the idea that no one would simply give us the market forprocessing SNF, we would still have to fight for it, cars with radiatedfuel were actually already standing at the border?

And right before the train arrived in our country, the head of RussianGosatomnadzor [Russian Federal Oversight of Nuclear and RadiationSecurity] Vishnevskiy once again said that the conditions for processingSNF were not appropriate at the Zheleznogorsk Combine and would not befor another 20 years. Then where was the train from Bulgaria taking thewaste?

However, the riddles do not end there. Here is what Ministry of AtomicEnergy specialists said in trying to convince the deputies to adopt thelaw on SNF.

This business is very profitable. The profit norm here is extremelyhigh: roughly 1,500 dollars for each kilogram of processed fuel.

In the world today, there are 200,000 tonnes of spent nuclear fuel. Wecan apply to accept 10 per cent of the total world amount forprocessing... [newspaper's ellipses] If we process this fuel and returnthe radioactive waste to the owner, the prices will be roughly 600-800dollars a kilogram. And if we process and recover it ourselves, it willbe roughly 1,500 dollars. So the average price is roughly 1,000 dollarsper kilogram. Multiply 20,000 tonnes by 1,000, and you get 20 billion.Only later did it in fact become clear that first, the sum must bedivided at least by two. According to the official finding of theKurchatov Institute (incidentally, it was specifically here thatRumyantsev was the director before coming to the Ministry of AtomicEnergy and he simply had to know these conclusions), expenditures forfulfilling the programme for working with SNF come to R10.5bn.

Second, let us compare the prices named by Rumyantsev with those whichthe Kurchatov Institute gave. Thus:

  • processing of SNF with the return - from 600 to 1,000 dollars.
  • processing without the return - 1,200-2,000 dollars.
There is a small difference, right? The English, for example, who alsoprocess spent nuclear fuel, take at least 1,600 dollars per kilogram.But then why was the SNF from Bulgaria, which we must process and bury,estimated to be 800 dollars a kilogram, which is lower than anyconceivable limit. If we multiply the at-least 200 dollars which we failto get by 41,000 kilograms, we get more than 8m dollars, whichdisappeared somewhere. And if not 200, but 800 or more, as is the customon the world market? An altogether different sum comes out.

And that is just from one place! But how many Kozloduy are there on theplanet?

It is a regular mother lode

And the last feature: the fulfilment of the contract with Kozloduy wentthrough a certain firm Energy Invest & Trade Corporation, which isregistered in the Virgin Islands and has a main office in Liechtenstein.It is unlikely that anyone will answer what its real role in the dealand the percentage it got for being the intermediary were. Liechtensteinand the Virgin Islands are too far from both Bulgaria and Russia not toproduce such questions. Perhaps that is why the Ministry of AtomicEnergy so insistently wants to keep Konversbank under its control, sothat no one but it has information on the deals involving SNF.

This article may make people not only in the Ministry of Atomic Energyitself angry (it traditionally takes criticism against it poorly), butalso a number of bureaucrats and businessmen who are involved in theatomic business; indeed there was a reason that the well known DeputyIlyukhin was talking about the recent increase in influence on theatomic sector by Alfa-Grupp. That in itself is not so bad - at leasttheir names will become even more apparent. But even that is not thepoint.

The point is something else - you cannot fool all of the people all ofthe time. You cannot publicly name certain prices and mean altogetherdifferent ones. You cannot import nuclear waste under the pretext ofprocessing to storage facilities that are not yet completed. You cannotcall yourself a brilliant statesman and try to privatize nuclear powerplants, thereby defending the most important and "specialized" atomicasset - Konversbank, and spending colossal amounts of money for adownhill ski resort. In Russian all this is called untargetedexpenditure of state money and confirms that Minister Rumyantsev, whosestyle of leadership can be characterized in brief as "on the edge," isnot an appropriate person for the post; and today the Ministry of AtomicEnergy is in fact associated only with dividing up atomic resourcesamong the oligarchs, who in replacing one another incidentally changeministers as well... [newspaper's ellipses]

You cannot complain of poverty while sitting on enormous assets. (Thelist of things you cannot do could go on forever.) All of this seemssomehow dirty.
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Kazakh National Nuclear Company Increases Uranium Production
Panorama/BBC Monitoring Service
December 16, 2001
(for personal use only)

The Kazakh national nuclear company Kazatomprom is on course toincreasing annual extraction of uranium by 15 per cent in 2001, itspresident Askar Kasabekov said in an interview with the Kazakh newspaperPanorama.

The company's share in the world uranium production now stands at 5 percent, and is due to reach 7 per cent in 2005. Three new uranium mines,Karamurun South, Moinkum South and Akdala, were opened this year.Kazatomprom has developed new uranium fuel pellets with erbium oxideabsorber, thus securing additional orders from Russia, and is nowlookingfor customers in the West.

Increased production, combined with ever lower costs, meant that thecompany was making profit even when uranium prices slumped inDecember 2000, Kasabekov said.

In 2000, Kazatomprom's exports totalled nearly 17.5bn tenge, of whichtheCIS states accounted for 3,754m and the rest of the world, for 13,711mtenge. The company paid 2.4bn tenge to the treasury in tax and otherpayments, 60 per cent more than in 1999. By 2005, the figure will havereached 3.7bn.

Kazatomprom's subsidiary, the UMZ public company, is now increasingberyllium production after signing contracts with the US company BrushWellman and Japan's Marubeni. The company now has orders up to year2010, and is building a new production line to increase its capacity."By theend of 2003, Kazakhstan will be producing more beryllium than the USSRwas in the best of times, with all production geared to the consumermarketand destined for export," Kasabekov said.

UMZ is also trying to increase tantalum production, for which is hasmanypotential orders. To this aim it is developing the Verkhne-Irgizskoyedepositin Kazakhstan and also exploring the possibility of setting up jointventuresin Russia and Africa.

At the moment Kazatomprom exports all its output, but it may turn to thedomestic markets, both with some of its products and with its know-how.

Kasabekov said in the interview Kazatomprom was conscious ofenvironmental issues. It is currently involved in a major project topreventpollution of the waters of the Irtysh basin with toxic and radioactivemetals.Starting from next year, the company will need to raise 15-20m dollarsin"soft ecological loans" for this purpose. It also intends to invite "arespectedinternational organization" to carry out an ecological audit of itsoperations,Kasabekov said.
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E. Russian Nuclear Waste

Audit Chamber Says Russia Facing Nuclear-Waste Crisis
Associated Press
December 17, 2001
(for personal use only)

Russia is facing a crisis in the storage and disposal of nuclear waste,the country's Audit Chamber said Friday.

Over the past 50 years, Russia has accumulated waste with a combinedradioactivity of more than 6 billion curies that it does not have thecapacity to store and dispose of, the parliamentary watchdog said in apress release. That is about 120 times the radiation released in the1986 Chernobyl disaster, it said.

The Audit Chamber said the country's system of nuclear storagefacilities was on the verge of collapse due to a lack of governmentattention, funding and legislation.

"Most of the storage facilities are nearly full, and the equipment is inneed of urgent modernization and repair," the chamber said.

It said a 1996-2000 government program for nuclear waste disposalreceived only 10.7 percent of the necessary funding.

The Audit Chamber will send a report of its investigation to both housesof parliament, the Cabinet, the Nuclear Energy Ministry and the FinanceMinistry, it said.
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F. Russian Nuclear Cities

Russian TV Visits Once-Secret Nuclear Facility Mayak In The Urals
BBC Monitoring Service/ NTV
December 17, 2001
(for personal use only)

[Presenter] So far Russia doesn't have even one contract for thereprocessing of foreign spent nuclear fuel. This was reported today byAleksandr Rumyantsev, the head of the Atomic Energy Ministry...

While disputes continue in society about the merits of such deals,Russian specialists are reprocessing motherland spent nuclear fuel andhave no doubts that their work is of use. Here's a report by ViktorKuzmin from the closed-regime Mayak facility in Chelyabinsk Region:

[Correspondent] This red building was built at the end of the 1940s, oneof the first industrial buildings of the secret facility that receivedthe name Mayak...

People at Mayak now prefer not to recall facts that are 40 years old.They maintain here that they have learnt to think about safety in ahalf-century of work with radioactive elements.

In this workshop there are 2,200 cells and 870, or one-third of them,are filled with canisters that already contain vitrified nuclear waste.They will stay here for six to seven years until the containers cooldown. There is spent fuel from nuclear submarines and from nuclear powerstations in the cylinders. Waste from the 1990s is currently beingreprocessed at the enterprise...

Nuclear waste is turned into glass at the Mayak plant. A unique piece ofapparatus, which employees have nicknamed the stove, is the only one inRussia. In scientific language the unit creates a matrix that holds onto radioactive elements. In such a state waste can be stored for severalcenturies...

Such stoves exist in France and in England. People at Mayak call theseEuropean countries their main competitors.

Waste nuclear fuel has been transported to the Urals since 1972 and ithas been reprocessed for 25 years. For this very purpose an entirefactory codenamed RT-1 was built at Mayak...

[Yevgeniy Ryzhkov, worker] In 2000 we did not transport in even onetonne of irradiated fuel for storage at the plant, while our eternalcompetitors - France and Great Britain - last year, in 2000, transportedin 3,000 tonnes to their factories belonging to the firms (?Kazhema) andBNFL...
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G. Links of Interest

Transcript: Interview With Vladimir Putin, Financial Times, December 15, 2001

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