Partnership for Global Security: Leading the World to a Safer Future
Home Projects Publications Issues Official Documents About RANSAC Nuclear News 4/15/13
Location: Home / Projects & Publications / News
Sitemap Contact
Google www PGS
Nuclear News - 02/21/02
RANSAC Nuclear News, February 21, 2002
Compiled by David Smigielski

A. Cooperative Threat Reduction
    1. Russian Experts Design "Unique" Security System For Nuclear Facilities, ITAR-TASS (02/21/02)
    2. Kazakhstan Down To Its Last Six Missile Silos, Interfax (02/21/02)
    3. Russian Urges Labs To Back Push For Nuke Power, Lawrence Spohn, Knoxville News Sentinel (02/19/02)
B. Russia-U.S.
    1. Russia, US Agree To Speed Up Nuclear Arms Cut Talks, Business Recorder (02/20/02)
    2. They Could Come In Handy, Valery Volkov, Izvestia (02/18/02)
C. Russia-Iran
    1. Iran's Nuclear Challenge: Deter, Not Antagonize, Scott Peterson , The Christian Science Monitor (02/21/02)
    2. The U.S. Needs Russia To Help Contain Iran, Brenda Shaffer, Los Angeles Times (02/21/02)
    3. Iran Ties Cloud Russia-US Partnership, Reuters (02/21/02)
    4. Americans Tell Vladimir Putin Who His Friends Are, Mikhail Zygar, Anton Chernykh,Kommersant (02/20/02)
    5. Who Got Cold Feet - Iran Or Russia?, Victoria Whall, Russian Observer (02/20/02)
    6. Moscow Confirms It Has Transferred Nuclear Technology To Iran, RFE/RL Newsline (02/19/02)
    7. Russia In Talks On Building Another Nuclear Power Unit In Iran, Interfax (02/18/02)
D. Russia-China
    1. Military Cooperation With China Seen As Threat To Russia's National Security, RFE/RL Newsline (02/21/02)
E. Russia-India
    1. Russian Firm Signs Contract To Supply Indian Nuclear Power Plant, Interfax (02/18/02)
F. Russia-Burma
    1. Burma's Nuclear Plans Worry IAEA, Far Eastern Economic Review (02/21/02)
G. Nuclear Terrorism
    1. Expert Says Russia Not Protected From Nuclear Terrorism, RFE/RL Newsline (02/21/02)
    2. Russian Physicist Rules Out Theft Of Weapons-Grade Materials, ITAR-TASS (02/20/02)
H. Nuclear Safety
    1. Greens Expose Absence Of Security At Nuclear Facility, (02/18/02)
    2. Reactor Incident Suspected In Russian Capital, Komsomolskaya Pravda (02/17/02)
    3. Thieves Steal Dangerously Radioactive Ampoules From Russian Plant, Russian AVN Military News Agency (02/14/02)
I. Russian Nuclear Industry
    1. Atomic Energy Ministry Creates Own Power Company, RFE/RL Newsline (02/21/02)
J. Announcements
    1. Russian Deputy Minister Of Foreign Affairs Georgy Mamedov Meets With Ambassador Of The Islamic Republic Of Iran Gholam Shafei, Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (02/19/02)
K. Links of Interest
    1. A New Strategic Framework? Detailing The Bush Approach To Nuclear Security Interview with Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John R. Bolton Arms Control Association
    2. The Battle For Energy Dominance, Edward L. Morse and James Richard Foreign Affairs, March/April 2002
    3. Russia To Lease Two Nuclear Submarines To India Monterey Institute of International Studies

A. Cooperative Threat Reduction

Russian Experts Design "Unique" Security System For Nuclear Facilities
February 21, 2002
(for personal use only)

A unique system to ensure security at nuclear facilities has beencreated at the Krasnoyarsk mining and chemical combine. Thedirector-general of the combine, Vasiliy Zhidkov, today told anITAR-TASS correspondent that the designing and production of specialequipment which would make it impossible for anyone to take even onegram of plutonium from the territory of the enterprise, had been fundedby the US Department of Energy.

It is virtually impossible for an unauthorized person to get inside ahuge mountain which houses a nuclear reactor and radiochemicalproduction facilities, Vasiliy Zhidkov believes. Meanwhile, the newsecurity system, which is worth over 2m dollars and which was designedin Russia, makes it possible to avoid instances of unsanctionedwithdrawal of plutonium by combine employees, if any of them ever daresdo this.

Heightened security measures were also introduced at a nuclear fuelstorage facility, where special assemblies are sent to from nuclearpower stations in Russia and abroad. The facility is protected by atriple security belt in a bid to bar unauthorized persons from thestorage facility. The "greens" recently tried to approach the buildingbut they only managed to film its roof. Incidentally, "such visits donot pose any threat", Vasiliy Zhidkov said.
return to menu

Kazakhstan Down To Its Last Six Missile Silos
February 21, 2002
(for personal use only)

Six silos for intercontinental ballistic missiles [ICBM] are stillintact in the Leninsk testing ground in Kzyl-Orda Region, CGS MalikSaparov told a group of parliamentarians in Astana on Thursday [21February].

Following the disintegration of the USSR, there were 1,040 ICBM and 370heavy bomber warheads in Kazakhstan, which were moved to Russia in 1995,Saparov said. Within a year, Russian engineers blew up 61 silos in themissile base of Zhangiz-Tobe, 61 in the Derzhavinsk missile base, 13 inthe Leninsk testing ground and 12 in the Semipalatinsk nuclear testingground, he said.

The US has undertaken to finance the re-cultivation of those areas,Saparov said. The cost of activities already performed totalled 170mdollars.
return to menu

Russian Urges Labs To Back Push For Nuke Power
Lawrence Spohn
Knoxville News-Sentinel
February 19, 2002
(for personal use only)

U.S. and Russian nuclear scientists hope by June to submit a formalappeal to the presidents of both nations asking them to collaborativelyjump-start nuclear power.

An informal agreement to produce a joint Russian-American report onnuclear power to the two presidents followed the appeal late last weekof prominent Russian physicist Evgeny Pavlovich Velikhov to hiscounterparts at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque.

In a formal address, Velikhov specifically asked his Sandia colleaguesto help prepare a joint report within two months for President Bush andRussian President Vladimir Putin stressing the urgency of revitalizingnuclear power research and development.

One of three U.S. nuclear weapons labs, Sandia has played a majorresearch role in nuclear energy, particularly in the realm of safety andtesting.

President of the prestigious Kurchatov Institute in Moscow, Velikhovsaid, "Nuclear energy has a very important role to stabilize things(economically) in Russia."

Soon, he said, it will be crucial as well to the economy and security ofthe United States and could play a central role in enhancing globalsecurity and environmental integrity.

In addition to references to energy insecurity fueling global conflict,Velikhov said that human health and the threat of global warming - bothat risk because of traditional fossil fuels - should motivate the twonations to lead a resurgence of nuclear power that he noted does notpollute the atmosphere.

Critics of nuclear power argue that radioactive waste is a big problemwith nuclear energy.

Sandia President C. Paul Robinson pledged his labs' support in theendeavor, saying his scientists hold similar views and concerns aboutthe long-term energy supply for the United States and the world.

Robinson in recent years has stressed that U.S. national security isfundamentally linked to the country's energy, environmental and economicsecurity.

Saying Sandia's own studies show there are national security, economic,environmental and geopolitical reasons supporting a resumption ofnuclear energy development, Robinson said: "The time is ripe for that (abinational research effort)."

While Sandia also has been a world leader in developing green energyalternatives, like solar and wind power, many scientists there believethat these sources remain immature and incapable of supplying the vast,growing and unlimited demand for instant energy at the flick of aswitch.

Sandia Vice President Joan Woodard, however, warned that scientists havea major task in convincing a fearful public that nuclear energy is safeand can be made even safer.

Velikhov agreed but said the first hurdle is convincing governmentleaders, noting his scientists already are making strides in the RussianDuma, or congress.

He suggested Americans should have a much easier task because theproblem in Russia, since the Chernobyl nuclear reactor incident, "isfive orders of magnitude" worse than here.

"We must have a very comprehensive program of public education," hesaid.

Velikhov warned that the task must be undertaken soon because bothcountries are rapidly losing their nuclear expertise, as nuclearphysicists and engineers age and die.
return to menu

B. Russia-U.S.

Russia, US Agree To Speed Up Nuclear Arms Cut Talks
Business Recorder
February 20, 2002
(for personal use only)

Russian and US negotiators agreed to "intensify" their efforts to drafta binding nuclear disarmament deal in time for signing at May'spresidential summit, the Russian foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

John Bolton, the visiting US Under-secretary of State for arms controland international security, presented Washington's latest proposals forthe wording of the historic pact, the ministry said.

Moscow added that Bolton end Russian Deputy Foreign Minister GeorgyMamedov agreed to hold their next round of negotiations in March.

"The two sides agreed to intensify their efforts to prepare a Russian-USdocument that would include a legally-binding agreement on cuts, inoffensive weapons and the formation of a new strategic relationship"between the two sides, the ministry said.

But Moscow gave no details of the progress made Tuesday after Mamedoventered the talks declaring he was looking, for "substantial endtangible result's" from his meeting with Bolton.

Bolton was due later Tuesday to brief reporters on the deal, which willbe signed at a May meeting in Moscow between US President George W. Bushand Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

At the same time Russian officials urged other nuclear powers to jointhe disarmament process now under way as Moscow sought to positionitself as a leader in nuclear non-proliferation issues.

"The question of nuclear stability cannot be the prerogative of onlyRussia and the United States," the Kremlin's advisor on strategicstability issues, Igor Sergeyeve, was quoted as saying by Interfax.

"The parameters of strategic arms limitations announced by Moscow andWashington should be taken into account by all nuclear powers," saidSergeyev, a former Russian defence minister.

Moscow has sought a legally-binding document with Washington that wouldput a ceiling at 1,700-2,200 warheads on the two sides respectivenuclear arsenals over the next 10 years.

Moscow also wants to be freely able to check on the progress of USdisarmament, and has opposed Washington's suggestions that some of thedecommissioned warheads could be held in temporary storage rather thandestroyed.

The cuts in nuclear weapons were decided by Putin and Bush at theirsummit last November in Washington and Texas, but the US government hasuntil recently been reluctant to formalise the agreement on paper.

The last meeting between Bolton and Russian negotiators was held inWashington last month, who Moscow officials presented their ownproposals for the wording of the summit agreement.

The Putin-Bush summit has been tentatively scheduled for May 23-25.
return to menu

They Could Come In Handy
Valery Volkov
February 18, 2002
(for personal use only)

U.S. Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and InternationalSecurity John Bolton arrived in Moscow Sunday on "a return visit"following the Washington round of talks in late January. He and Russianofficials will consider a treaty on strategic arms reductions thatMoscow would like George W. Bush to sign during his visit to Russia inMay.

By that time Moscow hopes to put the finishing touches to a treaty onstrategic arms reductions and strategic stability. The last round oftalks on the issue took place in Washington on January 29. DeputyForeign Minister Georgy Mamedov led the Russian delegation.

A Russian military delegation led by General Yury Baluyevsky had visitedWashington a week before. On his return to Moscow several days later,General Baluyevsky reported to the president on the outcome of thevisit. Although it was never made public, the outcome could hardly bedescribed as comforting for the Russians. According to the Americans, sofar the negotiations have focused on form, not content.

Each of the sides is adamant about its position. The Bush administrationis flatly against legally binding documents. For its part, Moscow isinsisting on the signing of a treaty on mutual cuts in strategic armsdown to 1,700-2,200 nuclear warheads over ten years and wants the cutsto be "radical, real and reliably verifiable." It is also in favor ofthe two countries signing a declaration of new principles on strategicstability.

The Americans say Russia wants the two presidents to reiterate theircommitment to the idea of reducing offensive arms, establish a linkbetween offensive and defensive arms reductions and agree on jointmeasures to monitor cuts in offensive arms. In addition, it wants theUnited States to continue financing some of its disarmament programs.

According to experts, the United States might agree to sign a legallybinding treaty, but only because of the opportunity to gain access toinformation concerning Russian warheads. It is worth noting in thisconnection that existing disarmament programs allow U.S. monitors toinspect Russian installations, although it is true that their access islimited. Russia has been reducing the number of its warheads in theabsence of a relevant agreement and is, therefore, insisting that theUnited States should also reduce its nuclear potential. According toexperts, Washington has responded by saying the nuclear warheads couldstill be useful in a rapidly changing world.
return to menu

C. Russia-Iran

Iran's Nuclear Challenge: Deter, Not Antagonize
Scott Peterson
The Christian Science Monitor
February 21, 2002
(for personal use only)

Surrounded by hostile neighbors, Iran is a nation under constantdiplomatic - and miliary - pressure. But while its quest for regionalsecurity may have led it to quietly explore weapons of mass destruction,that exploration has led it into the jaws of US criticism. Now that theUS has declared war on terrorism and pronounced Iran, Iraq, and NorthKorea an "axis of evil," such a threat perception in Washington couldyield serious consequences.

Iran is stuck in a strategic Catch 22, Western and Iranian analysts say.On one hand, it wants to portray itself as an indomitable regionalpower. On the other, it wants to avoid the wrath of Pentagon planners.But incur the wrath of the US it has. Washington, backed by Israel,charges that Tehran is "aggressively" pursuing weapons of massdestruction and the long-range missiles to deliver them.

Of all Washington's concerns, those of Iran's possible nuclear ambitionstop the list. The CIA in early 2000 determined - controversially - thatIran was already capable of building a nuclear weapon. Just ascontroversial, among analysts and diplomats, a 1998 commission headed bynow Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld found that Iranian missilescould cause "major destruction" to the US "within five years."

Having already declared its interest in effecting "regime change" inIraq, a negative US assessment about Iranian intentions could pave theway for powerful US action. Israel's 1981 airstrike on Iraq's Osiraknuclear reactor provides a window into one possible course of action forthe US - or its close ally, Israel - if they decide that Iran presents anuclear threat. Iran's reformist President Mohammad Khatami says Iran isinterested only in civilian nuclear power, and has repeatedly called forthe Mideast to be turned into a zone free of nuclear, biological, andchemical weapons.

"It's better for the American administration to decide among themselvesif they want to raise the flag of war, or of dialogue," Iranian ForeignMinister Kamal Kharrazi said this week. "America believes it is the onlysource of right and wrong."

Indeed, independent assessments of Iran's abilities are often at oddswith official US rhetoric. But the country may have reasons entirelyseparate from its rivalry with the US and Israel to research weapons ofmass destruction.

"Iran has 15 neighbors and no friends, and these neighbors are not themost charming," says a Western diplomat in Tehran. "They know how weakthey are. They need a smokescreen - and to give the impression that it'sterribly dangerous behind it."

The easiest way to create such a deterrent, the diplomat says, is to"build up a rocket program that flies,... and then leave in doubt thatwhat you put in it is not TNT."

But Iran is having trouble putting together working advanced missiles,to say nothing of any nuclear filling. Since 1998, Iran has tested threeShahab-3 missiles, which are based on North Korea's No-Dong, and have arange of 600 miles which could reach Israel. No more than a dozenremain, by one count. Two tests failed. Russian experts brought to workon the Iranian missile project in the late 1990s, according to TheWashington Post, say the program was disorganized and that they werehired largely "for show."

"There are doubts about what Iran is doing," says another Westerndiplomat, who asked not to be identified. "But at the same time, theyare years behind entering the nuclear club, and their ballistic missileprogram is in difficult shape. The problem is the US and Israel say Iranis building ICBMs [inter-continental ballistic missiles]. This isquestionable."

Iran's nuclear program is also far weaker than many of its alreadyweaponized neighbors, including Pakistan and Israel. Against the wishesof the US, Russia plans to complete two civilian power reactors in Iranby September 2003.

"Iran's [nuclear] program is in shambles, and the people who read allthe intelligence know that," says Amin Tarzi, an Iran specialist at theCenter for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterrey Institute inCalifornia. "If anybody blows up Bushehr [reactor], they are wastingtheir money."

Despite the risks, Iran would have good reasons for seeking a nuclearcapability, Mr. Tarzi says, regardless of who rules in Tehran.

"Pakistan showed that having nuclear weapons can change the policy ofgreat nations," Tarzi says. "Iran looks at this, and if you are dealingwith the US - especially after this 'axis of evil' business - the onlything that works is nuclear weapons. You are treated differently."

Unlike its nuclear neighbors Israel, Pakistan, and India, Iran hassigned the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and allows the UNInternational Atomic Energy Agency to inspect its nuclear material.

"From our point of view, Iran has been playing by the rules," saysMelissa Fleming, spokeswoman for the IAEA in Vienna. "However, theserules, under the safeguard system that we have now, are limited."

The limitation is that Iran (along with the US and a host of othercountries) has not fully ratified the "additional protocol" that enablesgo-anywhere inspections. But analysts say that any clandestine nuclearambition - if only for prestige in a dangerous neighborhood - mirrorsits chaotic political system and has little political commitment ormoney.

Per capita, Iran spends far less militarily than the US or Israel - $137a person, as compared with $1,382 for the US and $1,515 for Israel.Still, the worst-case scenario about Iranian military ambition hasinfluential adherents.

"It's a misunderstanding to believe you can bring security to thisregion without Iran and by demonizing Iran and its identity," saysMohammad Hadi Semati, a political scientist at Tehran University. "Thishas produced a marriage of convenience between hard-liners in Iran,Washington and Tel Aviv."
return to menu

The U.S. Needs Russia To Help Contain Iran
Brenda Shaffer
Los Angeles Times
February 21, 2002
(for personal use only)

President Bush didn't leave much room for interpretation when hedeclared Iran a part of an "axis of evil." What wasn't clear was whetherthe U.S. is willing to go beyond tough rhetoric and take concrete stepsto stop Iran from obtaining weapons of mass destruction.

One of the ways for the United States to prevent Tehran from developingthese weapons is for Washington to address one of the sources of Iran'sproliferation advances: Russia. Over the past decade, various governmentministries and defense companies in Russia have contributedsignificantly to Iran's advancement toward acquisition of these weapons.

Washington is beginning to forge a new strategic framework for itsrelations with Moscow. This new deal should require that Russia curtailits cooperation with Iran in areas that could enhance Tehran's abilityto acquire weapons of mass destruction. For the U.S. to succeed on thisfront, it must understand the importance that Russia attaches to itsrelations with Iran and offer significant trade-offs that will helpMoscow. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, a momentous opportunityemerged for U.S.-Russia cooperation. There are different explanations asto which side is more at fault for the failure of this partnership todevelop. It is clear that both failed to demonstrate significantconsideration for the other's security needs and continued to interactin a competitive manner.

American policymakers have been upset with Russia's cooperation withIran in areas that help Tehran acquire nuclear weapons. Russian leadershave been disappointed by Washington's promotion of the expansion of theNorth Atlantic Treaty Organization into Eastern Europe and its decisionto unilaterally pursue a national missile defense system.

However, it is now time for a new and mutually beneficial strategic dealbetween Russia and the U.S. An important component would be the issue ofproliferation in Iran.

In the last 11/2 years, Russia has shown signs that it recognizes thatit has some common interests with the U.S. on energy and securityissues. Russia's refusal in November to cut back its oil production inaccordance with OPEC demands has prevented the world economy fromplummeting deeper into recession. In addition, Russia has removed itsactive opposition to the building of the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline fortransport of Caspian oil.

On security issues, not only has Moscow mobilized full-fledged supportfor the war on terrorism, it has permitted an extensive U.S. militarypresence in Central Asia. The Russian government also has made effortsto establish export controls to rein in some of the proliferationactivities of Russian companies.

Russia, however, has not been willing to compromise its cooperation withIran. Moscow views its neighbor Iran as an important partner inmaintaining stability in the Caucasus and Central Asia, and Tehran playsthe leading role in minimizing Muslim backlash against Moscow for itsmilitary campaigns in Chechnya. Iran and Moscow also see each other asimportant "poles" in maintaining a multi-polar international system andpreventing U.S. hegemony. Thus, Moscow will be reluctant to endanger itsrelations with Iran, especially if it appears that Russia is reacting toU.S. pressure.

But a strategic reformation that includes concessions by Washington onissues of the highest order that affect Russian national security--suchas missile defense and further expansion of NATO--ultimately could leadto an important change in the nature of Moscow's cooperation with Iran.

As part of a new deal with Russia, the U.S. should focus on preventingthe transfer of a limited number of sensitive items that couldcontribute most seriously to the advancement of Iran's nuclear weaponsprograms. The U.S. should not oppose all military cooperation betweenRussia and Iran, such as pacts on conventional weapons. The U.S. shouldnot do anything to weaken political relations between Iran and Russia,and instead focus only on proliferation issues. Washington would benefitfrom initiating quiet diplomacy with Russian President Vladimir V. Putinon the issue of Iran, without making it seem like a Russian concessionto U.S. demands.

Bush has signaled to the world that he wants to get tough with those whodabble with weapons of mass destruction. The administration now needs togo beyond words and threats and work intelligently with Russia tocontain Iran's drive for such weapons.

Brenda Shaffer, research director at the Caspian studies program atHarvard University, is the author of "Partners in Need: the StrategicRelationship of Russia"
return to menu

Iran Ties Cloud Russia-US Partnership
February 21, 2002
(for personal use only)

The Iranian foreign minister's abrupt no-show in Moscow reflectsRussia's struggle to reconcile its desire for closer ties to Washingtonwith its economic and security interests in the demonised Islamicrepublic.

Some Moscow-based diplomats and analysts were scratching their headsover the snap decision by Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi tocancel a long-scheduled visit.

But some newspapers said the move was the result of pressure fromvisiting U.S. Undersecretary of State John Bolton, who made plain onTuesday Washington's irritation at Moscow's close ties with a state itconsiders part of an "axis of evil".

"They (the Americans) told Vladimir Putin who his friends are", theKommersant daily headlined its front-page article.

Other observers suggested Moscow decided it would be tactless to sign anew cooperation deal with Iran during Bolton's visit, prompting Kharrazito call off his trip.

Putin has striven to fix Russia in the Western orbit, offering stalwartsupport for the U.S. war against terrorism launched in the wake of theSeptember 11 attacks against the United States.

Putin earlier this week stripped a senior official of his control of theatomic energy ministry, a driving force in nuclear exports to Iran.

That could point to a desire not to antagonise Washington, althoughSergei Markov, foreign policy editor of the Kremlin-linked strana.ruwebsite, said it was unclear if the two events were linked.

Russian officials are frustrated by Washington's go-it-alone approachwhich brushed aside Moscow's concerns on missile defence and security,and its economic interests.

And some complain that Putin has little to show for ditching Moscow'straditional truculence towards America.

"If the U.S. wants a real strategic alliance with Russia it must be soprofitable that it could give up its relations with Iran," Markov said.That meant opening Western markets to Russian arms firms and giving thema role in missile defence.

No such deal is on the table, but there has been talk of rewardingRussia's support over Afghanistan by boosting U.S. imports of Russiancrude, an issue officials from the two countries discussed on Wednesdayin Moscow.

Viktor Kremenyuk, deputy director of the USA-Canada Institute, saidMoscow was not ready to curtail lucrative nuclear power and armscontracts with Iran.

Putin earlier this month opposed blacklisting states, and seniorofficials on Wednesday again rejected U.S. accusations it was helpingIran develop ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons.

Russia's top space and aviation official Yuri Koptev said the UnitedStates had presented "expressions of concern" on 14 occasions recently,but had failed to produce any evidence.

"Looking for a black cat in a dark room when he isn't there is somethingwe cannot do," said Koptev, who met Bolton on Monday.

Russia needed to find a way to balance its ties with the United Statesand Iran, Kremenyuk said, for Russia had many reasons to maintain goodrelations with Iran. They include a money-spinning contract for anuclear power plant at Bushehr, a deal with Iran and other littoralstates over the Caspian Sea's oil riches, and the fragile situation inAfghanistan.

"Mr Bush should understand that neither the Russians nor the Europeansare ready to sacrifice their relations (with Iran) simply because theAmerican president says so", Kremenyuk said.

Markov said Washington would soon replace its anti-Tehran rhetoric withdiscreet U.S. diplomacy with moderate Iranian leaders.

"As conflict with Iraq becomes inevitable, to combine that with conflictwith Iran would be politically extremely dangerous," said Markov. Itcould unleash Kurdish nationalism, destabilising neighbouring U.S. allyTurkey and oil markets.

But the immediate prospects of that happening appear remote. Bolton madeclear on Tuesday that Washington was incensed by leaks of rocket andnuclear know-how from Russia to Iran.

He said it was "very important" that Russia, the United States and theWest "treat the question of nuclear and missile proliferation in thesame way."
return to menu

Americans Tell Vladimir Putin Who His Friends Are
Mikhail Zygar, Anton Chernykh
February 20, 2002
(for personal use only)

The Iranian Foreign Minister, Kamal Kharrazi, put off his visit toMoscow yesterday. During the day, Iranian diplomats gave differentreasons for the decision, ranging from bad flying weather in Tehran tothe lack of a confirmed program. More likely, however, it was Moscowthat asked for the cancellation - at the United States' insistence.

Mr. Kharrazi was due in Moscow late Monday night. Tehran was pinningtheir hopes on his forthcoming meetings with Russian officials. AfterU.S. President George W. Bush included Iran in his "axis of evil,"Moscow's support would be most welcome for Tehran. Iranian politicianshad been quite forthcoming in the run-up to the visit.

On Sunday, Deputy Foreign Minister in Economic Affairs Mohammad HosseinAdeli went on record as saying that OPEC, of which Iran is one of thekey members, should coordinate its policy with non-OPECoil producers, primarily Russia. Deputy Foreign Minister Mehdi Safaristressed on the same day that the basic documents for reaching anagreement on the status of the Caspian Sea were the Soviet-Iraniantreaties signed in 1921 and 1940. These had given Iran only one-sixth ofthe area; Tehran has been insisting of late on a revision. Coming from aformer Iranian ambassador in Russia, this unexpectedly mild statementleads one to believe that friendship with Moscow is currently of greaterimportance for Tehran than the Caspian dispute. According to reportsthat appeared approximately at the same time, Russia's AtomstroiexportCompany is likely to start building yet another atomic power plant inIran. The first power plant at Bushehr is due to be launched as early asnext year. Russia is going to be paid $800 million for the job.

Mr. Kharrazi himself also stated before the planned visit that relationsbetween Iran and Russia were at a good level and displayed a steadytendency for growth. He was to spend two days in the Russian capital,meeting with Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov on Wednesday. Reportedly, theminister was expected in the Kremlin the day before. It was not clearwho he was to have a meeting with there, but judging by all appearances,Mr. Kharrazi hoped for a personal meeting with President Vladimir Putin.

However, this scenario failed to materialize. The Iranian foreignminister did not arrive on Monday. The embassy in Moscow put the blameon bad weather in Tehran and declared that the minister would arriveTuesday evening. Yet, the explanation proved unconvincing (Kommersantfound out that the regular Tehran flight did arrive at Sheremetyevo).

The embassy gave another reason, saying that the program of the visitwas inadequately coordinated. Somewhat later, Tehran announced that Mr.Kharrazi's visit had been put off for an indefinite period and thatthere would be no explanations. The Russian Foreign Ministry stated thatthe visit had been put off "by mutual agreement."

It is obvious that Iran could hardly wish to disrupt negotiations withits most important ally. Indicatively, the U.S.'s John Bolton came toMoscow on exactly these days for talks on strategic stability. TheRussian delegation was led by Deputy Foreign Minister Georgy Mamedov.Before the delegations met once again on Monday, Mr. Mamedov paid avisit to the Iranian Ambassador, Mr. Gholamreza Shafei. The Iranianministerial visit to Moscow was put off soon after their meeting.

It looks like Russia simply decided against making waves and havingtalks with "unreliable" Iran right under John Bolton's nose. The U.S.emissary indirectly confirmed as much yesterday, saying that he haddiscussed the Russian-Iranian cooperation in the nuclear sphere with theRussian leadership and once again conveyed Washington's displeasure withthat fact. How can even one single Russian national see the advantage ofIran having nuclear weapons, he asked journalists. Apparently, he putthe same question to his Russian hosts. Perhaps he even explained whythat question was far from rhetorical.
return to menu

Who Got Cold Feet - Iran Or Russia?
Victoria Whall
Russian Observer
February 20, 2002
(for personal use only)

With the Iranian embassy citing bad weather and then blaming inadequatecoordination of the program on one side, and the Russian ForeignMinistry saying that the visit had been put off by "mutual agreement"due to a need to settle a few issues in bilateral relations on theother, clearly something was afoot when the Iranian Foreign MinisterKamal Kharrazi mysteriously cancelled his visit to Moscow on Tuesday -either Iran had been scared off or Russia had decided to avoidantagonising the U.S.

The way Russian Daily Vremya Novostei tells the story, the cancellationof the visit came as a surprise to the Russian administration whoapparently didn't realize that the visit was off until Mr Kharrazididn't turn up as scheduled. It reports that it was left to RussianForeign Minister Igor Ivanov to telephone Mr. Kharrazi and find out whatwas going on.

Russian daily Kommersant on the other hand,seemed in no doubt who wasbehind the sudden change of schedule, the headlines on Wednesday's frontpage article rings loud and clear: "Americans Tell Vladimir Putin WhoHis Friends Are." Kommersant correspondents Zygar and Chernykh assertthat Moscow itself asked the Iranian foreign minister to cancel his tripdue to pressure from the U.S.

Coincidentally, Deputy State Secretary John Bolton was in Moscow to talkabout strategic stability when Kharrazi's visit, originally scheduledfor Monday was at first postponed and then cancelled.

Answering questions after meetings with the Deputy Foreign MinisterGeorgy Mamedov, John Bolton said that the U.S. was concerned byRussia-Iran cooperation in the sphere of nuclear weapons and ballisticmissiles, reported on Tuesday.

Whoever it was that initiated the canceling of the visit, one thing iscertain, it comes as a blow to Russia, which has been keen to maintainits good relations with Iran, one of the countries said to represent an"axis of evil".

Russia has no intention of breaking its contract to construct Iran'sfirst nuclear power station. The deal is apparently worth approximately$800 million and construction is expected to be completed in 2003.

The U.S. say that the reactor could ease Iranian efforts to buildnuclear weapons but the Russian administration argues that the powerstation will only be for civilian use. They point to measures in placemaking it hard for the Iranian government or any groups it might sponsorto use the station for military purposes. In addition to the fact thatthe station will be subject to international observance, Iran Maniareports that nuclear waste - which is the problem - will be recoveredfrom Iran's Bushehr nuclear plant and brought to Russia forreprocessing.
return to menu

Moscow Confirms It Has Transferred Nuclear Technology To Iran
RFE/RL Newsline
February 19, 2002
(for personal use only)

Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi arrived in Moscow on 18 Februaryfor talks with his Russian counterpart Igor Ivanov that will focus onnuclear energy and military-technical cooperation and problems of theCaspian, ORT reported. By receiving Kharrazi in Moscow, Russia isdemonstratively ignoring the U.S. definition of Iran as one of the "axisof evil" states, as well as the warning issued by CIA Director GeorgeTenet during his 7 February testimony to the U.S. Congress concerningRussia's transfers of nuclear technology to Iran (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"8 February 2002), commented on 18 February. Meanwhile, the AtomicEnergy Ministry announced that it has prepared technical documentationfor construction of a second nuclear reactor in Iran in addition to thatat Bushehr now nearing completion, Interfax reported on 15 February. Thenew reactor, the location of which has not yet been decided, will cost$800 million. The ministry is also ready to train Iranian nuclearspecialists, Interfax added.
return to menu

Russia In Talks On Building Another Nuclear Power Unit In Iran
February 18, 2002
(for personal use only)

Russia and Iran are considering building a new nuclear power unit inIran, Viktor Kozlov, director-general of Atomstroyeksport, told Interfaxtoday.

Talks on this subject are under way, Kozlov said. He could not say whenthey are expected to be completed.

Russia has sent Iran a feasibility study containing plans for buildingnuclear power units in Iran, which suggests sites where a new power unitcould be constructed, Kozlov said.

The Iranians have repeatedly said that they need three power units, buthave not said where they want the units to be constructed.

Atomstroyeksport, engaged in the construction of the first power unit atthe Bushehr nuclear power station, expects to launch the unit at the endof 2003, Kozlov said.

The Iranians have been investing in the project as agreed, he said.

The Bushehr construction contract is worth over 800m dollars.
return to menu

D. Russia-China

Military Cooperation With China Seen As Threat To Russia's NationalSecurity
RFE/RL Newsline
February 21, 2002
(for personal use only)

Writing in "Nezavisimoe voennoe obozrenie," No. 5, military expertSergei Orlov said that in becoming the No. 1 importer of Russian arms,China has led the best minds and weapon designers of the former Sovietmilitary-industrial complex to ignore Russian interests and work tobuild up China's defense capabilities. Today, China is buying Russia'smost advanced weaponry, while Chinese "head hunters" are carefullyrecruiting leading Russian scientists and research collectives that canfortify Beijing's ambitions to modernize its nuclear industry anddevelop its space program, including piloted space flights, Orlov said.At present, Russian military cooperation with China is based on severalbilateral agreements and codified in a "friendship treaty" signed inJuly 2001, in which Beijing managed to incorporate maximum guaranteesfor itself while minimizing its own obligations to Russia. Orlov saidthat while it would be very shortsighted to judge China's intentionsbased only on such documents, it is clear that once Moscow helps Beijingreach its objectives, Russia's donor role will expire and subsequentlyRussian weapons in Chinese hands will pose a threat to Russia itself.
return to menu

E. Russia-India

Russian Firm Signs Contract To Supply Indian Nuclear Power Plant
February 18, 2002
(for personal use only)

The Izhora works last week signed a contract with Russia'sAtomstroyeksport to manufacture equipment worth 5m dollars for theKundankulam nuclear power plant in India.

The Izhora works, which is based in St Petersburg, said in a newsrelease that it intended to supply 300 tonnes of equipment, such asfilters and metal parts required for the initial stages of nuclear powerplant construction.

The contract follows the signing on 12 February of a framework agreementbetween Atomstroyeksport and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India forthe supply of priority and long manufacturing cycle equipment.

The Izhora works and Atomstroyeksport plan to sign the first subcontractfor the supply of reactor and steam generator housing, internalmechanisms and main piping systems for two generating units atKudankulam in March. However it takes abut three years to make a reactorhousing, and Izhora started preparations back in December last year.

Russian Atomic Energy Minister Aleksandr Rumyantsev and Anil Kakodkar,Chairman of the [Indian] Atomic Energy Commission, signed a memorandumon the main principles of cooperation on the power plant's constructionin November last year.

Atomstroyeksport and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India signed ageneral agreement on the construction of the VVER-1000 power plant withtotal capacity of 2,000 megawatts outlining mutual obligations, suppliesand services and a schedule of works to be completed in 2007-2008.
return to menu

F. Russia-Burma

Burma's Nuclear Plans Worry IAEA
Far Eastern Economic Review
February 21, 2002
(for personal us only)

While Burma has admitted entering into negotiations with Russia for theinstallation of its first nuclear reactor, inspectors from theInternational Atomic Energy Agency are alarmed. Diplomats in Rangoon sayIAEA inspectors recently visited power stations in Burma and found thatsafety standards were terrible, raising concern about likely standardsat any nuclear plant. Burma has hydroelectric as well as gas- anddiesel-fired power stations. Russian diplomats, meanwhile, say thatwhile some 300 Burmese have been sent to Moscow for nuclear training, nofinal deal has been signed between the two countries. They add thatRussia is still engaged in discussions with the Vienna-based IAEA overthe Burma project. One Moscow diplomat says Russian safety inspectorswould have to be based at the site in order to allay the concerns of theIAEA. Rangoon's military junta has said the reactor would be used forpeaceful purposes, but the United States has called on Burma and Russiato ensure that the proposed project include extra security to ensureradioactive material would not be vulnerable to theft.
return to menu

G. Nuclear Terrorism

Expert Says Russia Not Protected From Nuclear Terrorism
RFE/RL Newsline
February 21, 2002
(for personal use only)

Aleksandr Koldobskii, the leading expert from the Moscow StateEngineering and Physics Institute (MIFI), told a conference on nuclearterrorism held in Moscow on 19 February that he has no confidence thatRussia and the rest of the world are sufficiently protected from thethreat of nuclear terror, and ITAR-TASS reported. Koldobskii alsosaid that in the years following the fall of Soviet Union, nuclearfacilities in Russia were left practically unguarded and the thefts offissionable materials multiplied by several times. Koldobskii added thathe personally does not believe that reports about stolen weapons graderadioactive materials have anything to do with nuclear terrorism because"it's simply impossible to steal the amount of plutonium needed for abomb." But Koldobskii pointed out that among the some 700,000 peopleworking for the Atomic Energy Ministry "one always can find a person whofor money will give you access without asking questions or looking tosee what you are taking away."
return to menu

Russian Physicist Rules Out Theft Of Weapons-Grade Materials
February 20, 2002
(for personal use only)

There is no possibility of weapons-grade materials being stolen inRussia to make bombs, a conference in Moscow on nuclear terrorism wastold today by Aleksandr Koldobskiy, a senior technician at the MoscowState Institute of Engineering and Physics and candidate of physics andmathematics.

The country's nuclear installations have reliable security and areaccessible to only a small number of people, he said. "Not only that,but to make the simplest type of nuclear explosive device or projectileyou need a lot of uranium-235, at least 40-45 kg in raw-material terms.With the existing security arrangements it's simply impossible to stealthat amount for criminal purposes."

Reports of the theft or disappearance of nuclear material have nothingto do with nuclear terrorism, he believes. "Of course there's nothinggood about the theft or loss of natural or slightly-enriched uranium(strontium, caesium or cobalt), but even getting hold of the stuff won'tbring terrorists any nearer to creating nuclear explosives," Koldobskiysaid.
return to menu

H. Nuclear Safety

Greens Expose Absence Of Security At Nuclear Facility
February 18, 2002
(for personal use only)

State Duma deputy Sergei Mitrokhin and Greenpeace activists haveconducted an independent investigation into security at one of Russia'slargest storage facilities for spent nuclear fuels in the Krasnoyarskregion. They claim they managed to visit the installation and discoveredthat it is virtually unguarded and thus a prime target for a terroristattack.

State Duma deputy Sergei Mitrokhin and Greenpeace activists decided tocheck for themselves the security measures in place at a storagefacility for spent nuclear fuel in the Krasnoyarsk region in Siberia.According to the activists' findings the facility is virtually unguardedand hence a vulnerable target for a potentially devastating terroristattack.

On Friday Yabloko party member and State Duma deputy Sergei Mitrokhinand Russian Greenpeace activists held a news conference in Moscow toreport the "sensational results" of the investigation, reportedlyinitiated by Mitrokhin.

At the beginning of February Sergei Mitrokhin and two environmentalactivists entered the restricted area of the mining and chemicalprocessing works near the town of Zheleznogorsk, a closed town, formerlycalled Krasnoyarsk-26. They reportedly walked to within metres of thenuclear waste storage facility unimpeded.

In order to reach the storage facility where allegedly several tons ofused nuclear fuel is stored, the Duma deputy and the environmentalistscrossed the Yenisei River in a boat that they rented from a localresident. After crossing the river they walked about 2 kilometres alonga road to the storage facility.

Mitrokhin said there were "large holes" in the barbed wire fencesurrounding the grounds of the storage facility, thus it "was not a bigproblem" to enter the restricted area, Mitrokhin told the press onFriday.

Once inside the restricted area the deputy and the activists soon foundthemselves in front of an unfinished building, adjacent to the mainstorage facility.

Mitrokhin climbed onto the roof of the annex and then made a detailedobservation of the main installation through binoculars and then walkedeven closer to it.

"What I saw there was astounding," Mitrokhin told the news conference,"Anybody can get close to the storage facility for especially dangerousmaterials and do what he wants".

According to the environmentalists information, there are over 3 000tons of spent nuclear fuel with a radioactivity count equivalent to over1 billion curie stored at the facility in Zheleznogorsk. To put thatinto perspective, the radiation leak caused by the Chernobyl disasterwas calculated at around 50 million curie.

Therefore, environmentalists are convinced that "on the account of theAtomic Ministry, Russia faces the threat of the largest nuclear disasterin the history of mankind".

The two environmental activists who accompanied Sergei Mitrokhin to thetop-secret nuclear installation filmed everything.

A Greenpeace representative admitted to Gazeta.Ru that one ofMitrokhin's companions was a member of his organisation but added: "Thatmust not be mentioned in the press".

The environmentalists fear that if the Atomic Ministry and theauthorities learn of their participation in the investigation, therecould be serious repercussions for Greenpeace's Russian branch.

But an official in the Atomic Ministry told Gazeta.Ru that the ministryis well aware of Greenpeace's activities in Russia and in particular itsinvolvement in Mitrokhin's investigation.

"Why do you think the greens dragged Mitrokhin there (to the KrasnoyarskRegion - Gazeta.Ru)?" an official at the ministry's press-service askedour correspondent and immediately answered his own question. "Simply tofacilitate their work and keep the guards out of the way".

But according to Mitrokhin and the environmentalists, the storagefacility they visited is not guarded by anyone and nobody but localresidents, who steal radioactive materials from the restricted area tosell, walk around the area.

Greenpeace activists say that they commissioned "military experts" todevise a detailed plan of how to seize the storage facility. They didnot specify, however, who their "military experts" were.

Sergei Mitrokhin and the environmentalists reported that they hadforwarded that plan and their own recommendations to president Putin,the Federal Security Service and the Prosecutor General's Office.

The environmentalists claim that in order to cause a huge disaster atZheleznogorsk, a military type seizure would hardly be necessary. Theyclaim a couple dozen kilograms of explosives would suffice to completelydestroy the storage facility.

An official in the Atom Ministry claimed that he and colleagues hadwatched the video footage of Mitrokhin's press conference which, hesaid, had caused much laughter: "Of course Sergei Mitrokhin andGreenpeace have never been to any guarded installations," the ministryofficial said. "In actual fact the deputy visited a deserted Soviet-eraconstruction site which is guarded only formally, since according to thelaw Zheleznogorsk is still a closed administrative-territorial unit.Maybe, there really were holes in the barbed wire fence, after all, butthere is nothing to worry about: the site poses no environmentalthreat".

Yet, Greenpeace activists are absolutely sure that the place deputyMitrokhinv and the activists visited and filmed was the top-secretnuclear storage facility.

"If one compares the footage shot in February with the official reports,it will be absolutely obvious that it is the same building,"Greenpeace's coordinator of environmental programmes in Russia VladimirChouprov told Gazeta.Ru.

Environmental activists said their aim was to draw the Russiangovernment's attention to the problem and to prove that "the AtomicMinistry is a state within the state which is beyond any control anddoes what it wants".

They insist that in order to put an end to such a state of affaires theministry must be divided into two independent branches -civil anddefence - and should be put under full control, first and foremost rigidfinancial control.

Last year a bill of amendments was passed to allow for the import ofspent nuclear fuel from abroad. Greenpeace activists again stressed thatRussia would face a huge risk of environmental disaster if such importsstart pouring into the country.

Given the poor state and low security of nuclear fuel storageinstallations, "spent fuel imports into Russia are inadmissible", theenvironmentalists claim.
return to menu

Reactor Incident Suspected In Russian Capital
Komsomolskaya Pravda
February 17, 2002
(for personal use only)

Traces of iodine-131 have been found in the atmosphere in northernMoscow, near a site containing eight research reactors. According tospecialists in radioactive emissions, iodine-131 can only occur in theevent of a mishap with a nuclear reactor. The authorities are refusingto comment, but it seems that all 11 reactors in the city are beinginspected for signs of trouble. The following is the text of a reportpublished by the Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda on 14 February.

The Radon Moscow Science and Production Association Press Serviceyesterday released a report that in the capital's Northern District twostationary posts monitoring the atmosphere (there are more than 200 ofthese posts in Moscow) simultaneously detected traces of the radioactiveisotope iodine-131.

Sources of radioactive contamination are present in Moscow on average50-80 times a year. Furthermore the amount of iodine-131 discovered inthe air was extremely small. But according to Radon, which collects andrecycles radioactive sources in Moscow, this isotope can be present inthe atmosphere in only one set of circumstances - "if there has been abreach of the technological process during the operation of a nuclearreactor". In other words if a mini-Chernobyl has taken place in Moscow.

There are 11 nuclear reactors in an operational state within the city.Eight of them are located near the monitoring posts where the traces ofthe radioactive isotope were registered. They are at the KurchatovInstitute.

No one knows yet what happened. Or no one wants to say. People at thescientific centre have not commented on the incident. At the departmentthat organizes the supervision of ionizing sources of radiation at theCentre for Sanitary and Epidemiological Supervision they also refused totalk until the circumstances have been finally clarified.

But we were told at the capital's Administration for Civil Defence andEmergency Situations that emergency workers have now begun a check ofall the reactors in the city. It is common knowledge that a minorincident can very often develop into a major one.

[Footnote:] Where Moscow's nuclear reactors are located
The Kurchatov Institute Russian Scientific Centre has eight.
The Institute of Theoretical and Experimental Physics has one.
The Moscow Engineering and Physics Institute (MIFI) has one.
The PIiKI [expansion unknown] of Power Engineering has one.
return to menu

Thieves Steal Dangerously Radioactive Ampoules From Russian Plant
Russian AVN Military News Agency
February 14, 2002
(for personal use only)

Two Kripton-85 radiation sources have been stolen from the Polimerplenka[polymer film] enterprise located in the Verkhnedneprovsk village 100 kmeast of Smolensk, a spokesman for the Emergencies Ministry toldInterfax-Military News Agency on Thursday [14 February]. "Each sourcecontains an ampoule with radioactive gas and its emission makes 230millicurie, which is enough for a person to get a lethal dose quickly,"the spokesman said.

A ministry expert said, "the radiation level of shells with depleteduranium cores on which the global mass media reported after the NATOoperation in Yugoslavia makes some 3.4 millicurie. At the same time eachcore surface emits some 1,000 alpha particles and 36,000 beta particlesper second." According to the expert, the emission norm of threemillicurie is considered safe. An even slightly heavier dose badlyaffects a sensible [tangible] part of the population.

The ministry reported that the prosecutor's office of Smolensk Regionhad launched a criminal case to investigate the theft of the sources.Specialists of the Emergencies Ministry are taking part in the search,too.
return to menu

I. Russian Nuclear Industry

Atomic Energy Ministry Creates Own Power Company
RFE/RL Newsline
February 21, 2002
(for personal use only)

Oleg Saraev, the head of the state-owned Rosenergoatom, which is partof the Atomic Energy Ministry, announced that his agency has created anew national electric power operator called Unified Generating Company(EGK), Russian economic news agencies reported on 20 February. EGK willconsolidate the output of 10 nuclear power stations, and will compete onthe domestic and foreign electrical energy market with Unified EnergySystems (EES), which had been the only national power distributor. Theministry intends to use the profits it earns from EGK to pay debts itowes to EES, and for investment in the development of the nuclear powerindustry.
return to menu

J. Announcements

Russian Deputy Minister Of Foreign Affairs Georgy Mamedov Meets WithAmbassador Of The Islamic Republic Of Iran Gholam Shafei
Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
February 19, 2002

On February 18, 2002, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the RussianFederation Georgy Mamedov received the Ambassador of the IslamicRepublic of Iran to Russia, Gholam Shafei, at his request.

During the talk, the sides expressed satisfaction with the dynamics andquality of the Russian-Iranian political dialogue, and the level ofbilateral cooperation in the UN and other international organizations.

In discussing topical problems of disarmament and nonproliferation theyreiterated mutual desire to develop cooperation in these importantfields in the interest of preserving strategic stability, including inthe framework of the Joint Russian-Iranian Working Group on ExportControls.
return to menu

K. Links of Interest

A New Strategic Framework? Detailing The Bush Approach To NuclearSecurity
Interview with Undersecretary of State for Arms Control andInternational Security John R. Bolton
Arms Control Association

return to menu

The Battle For Energy Dominance
Edward L. Morse and James Richard
Foreign Affairs
March/April 2002

return to menu

Russia To Lease Two Nuclear Submarines To India
Monterey Institute of International Studies

return to menu

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.

Section Menu:

© 2007 Partnership for Global Security. All rights reserved. Privacy Statement.