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Nuclear News - 03/27/02
RANSAC Nuclear News, March 27, 2002
Compiled by David Smigielski


A. U.S. Russia HEU Purchase Agreement
    1. Russia To Renew Nuclear Fuel Export To USA, RBC, March 27, 2002
B. Russia-U.S.
    1. Nuclear Weapons To Become Tool Of Resolving Conflicts, RBC, March 26, 2002
    2. The Cynicism Of Strength Plus A Nuclear Bluff, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, March 25, 2002
C. Russia-North Korea
    1. North Korea's Other Axis: With Moscow, James Brooke, New York Times, March 24, 2002
D. Russia-Iran
    1. Russia To Complete Iran Nuclear Plant, Associated Press, March 27, 2002
    2. Russia To Send Iran Nuclear Fuel, Take Spent Fuel For Reprocessing, Interfax, March 27, 2002
    3. Russia's Relations With Iran Approach A Reckoning Point, Alex Vatanka, EurasiaNet.org, March 26, 2002
    4. Russian Foreign Ministry Denies Role In Iranian Nuke Plan, RFE/RL Newsline, March 25, 2002
E. Russia-Southeast Asia
    1. Russia Woos Southeast Asia With Weapons, Technology, Dan Eaton, Reuters, March 27, 2002
F. Russian Nuclear Forces
    1. Russian Environmentalist Against MP's Proposal To Resume Nuclear Tests, Ekho Moskvy, March 23, 2002
G. Russian Nuclear Industry
    1. Russia To Boost Nuclear Power Output 5.6 Per Cent In 2002 - Ministry, Interfax, March 27, 2002
H. Nuclear Waste
    1. Burying Death, Izvestia, March 27, 2002
    2. Radioactive Containers Found In Eastern Kazakhstan, Interfax-Kazakhstan,March 27, 2002
    3. Kazakhstan To Bury Radioactive Scrap Metal Received From China -Agency, Kazakhstan Today, March 26, 2002
    4. Concern Over Nuclear Waste Rises In Russia, Sergei Blagov, Asia Times, March 24, 2002
I. Nuclear Terrorism
    1. West Scours Georgia For Nuclear Trash, Ian Traynor, The Guardian, March 27, 2002
    2. Tajiks Arrested With Stolen Uranium, BBC, March 26, 2002
J. Links of Interest
    1. Russian Military Violating Nuclear Safety And Inventory Rules By Shipping Damaged Fuel, Elena Sokova, Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Monterey Institute of International Studies, March 25, 2002
    2. Needless Obligations: Why Does Russia Want A Treaty With No Substance? Anatoli Diakov, Timur Kadyshev, Eugene Miasnikov and Pavel Podvig, Center for Arms Control, Energy and Environmental Studies, March 18, 2002

A. U.S.-Russia HEU Purchase Agreement

1.
Russia To Renew Nuclear Fuel Export To USA
RBC
March 27, 2002
(for personal use only)


The Russian Atomic Energy Ministry plans to restart the export ofnuclear fuel to the USA in April 2002, head of the ministry AlexanderRumyantsev declared at a press conference today. He was quoted as sayingthat during the next month the USA and Russia would sign all necessarydocuments to renew the export of low-enriched uranium (LEU) to the USA.The agreement envisages exports until the year 2013 with an annualexport volume worth $500m. Rumyantsev pointed out that difficulties withexports had begun when the new US administration came to power. Howeveras a result of the negotiations conducted in December 2001-February2002, the parties agreed on restarting the export.

Rumyntsev said that in 2001 about 5,000 tons of equipment was sent tothe Busher nuclear power station in Iran. Moreover, Russia and Indiasigned a memorandum on cooperation in constructing a nuclear powerstation in India. Additionally, the Atomic Energy Ministry plans toparticipate in a tender on constructing a nuclear power station inFinland in 2002. The head of the ministry pointed out that the economicgrowth of the enterprises of the Atomic Energy Ministry in 2001 was 15to 20 percent more than it was planned.
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B. Russia-U.S.

1.
Nuclear Weapons To Become Tool Of Resolving Conflicts
RBC
March 26, 2002
(for personal use only)


The United States will resume the nuclear weapon tests in the nearfuture, according to the former Minister of Atomic Energy of Russia,current Advisor of the Minister of Atomic Energy, scientific supervisorof the Scientific and Research Energy Institute Yevgeny Adamov. As theIzvestia newspaper reported today, Adamov said that the role of nuclearweapons might soon change: its status of a force for containment may bechanged to the cheapest retaliation tool.

"The United States is very likely to resume nuclear weapon tests. Andyou can't say who will profit more from the violation of the ban onnuclear weapon tests - the US or Russia, which desperately needs toupdate its nuclear arsenal. In ten years we'll have no more specialistswho participated in nuclear weapon tests. Imagine a pilot who hasn'tflown for 20 years, and they tell him: come on, get in and take off. Soeither the countries of the world agree on an utter disposal of nuclearweapons, or the nation that has them in possession will be forced totest them. And any country will do that regardless of its strategicconcepts".

In Adamov's view, the question is not about the use of nuclear weapons,but about their existence. "I think the role the nuclear weapons willsoon change: they will cease to be conceived of as a containment factor,they may well turn into the easiest means of resolving a conflict withan aim to spare the use of men and materials. If you imagine that Russiais invaded by hoards of Talibs, we may well face the choice: either wesend lots of our fellow countrymen to die, or use nuclear weapons. And Ibelieve that you'd rather opt for the latter".
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2.
The Cynicism Of Strength Plus A Nuclear Bluff
Nezavisimaya Gazeta
March 25, 2002
(for personal use only)


Almost every month the U.S., the only glorious Empire of Good, bafflesmankind with another surprise. It promised to deliver a strike againstIraq. Then it came up with the idea of establishing a Pentagon centerfor global misinformation. Now, it says it is ready to smoke outterrorists by using miniature nuclear bombs in Iraq, Iran, North Korea,Libya and Syria, and, if necessary (in an unexpected militarysituation), to bombard China and Russia with something more serious.

U.S. military muscle flexing "in the struggle against terrorism" hasnever gone that far before. The public was told captivating storiesabout "intellectual weapons," "high precision strikes," and aircraftcarriers and the Marines. Now it turns out that this is not enough;nuclear arms are required in that struggle.

The nuclear arms issue receded into the background after the end of theCold War when there was no more confrontation between the two opposedblocs. The threat of a nuclear apocalypse no longer kept the world inconstant suspense, even though the nuclear arsenals remained. Diplomatsconcentrated on minimizing the number of nuclear warheads. But thesedays, Washington has once again tried to dispel mankind's long-cherisheddream of advancing, although slowly and in a contradictory way, towardsa nuclear-free world. The Pentagon again lists nuclear arms amongpossible means of warfare.

This is a fact. And the world response is sure to be negative. It ishard to imagine that the political strategists on President GeorgeBush's team could not foresee such a response. Nonetheless they venturedto organize another "information leak." This reflects the logic of thepresent U.S. conduct on the world stage - the U.S. not so much seekscollective political decisions than relies on its own strength,including military capability.

Having gone too far, the U.S. administration is trying to calm down thealarmed world. Secretary of State Colin Powell is again cooingassurances that his country has no concrete plans to use weapons of massdestruction. The Pentagon humbly announced that it is working on anumber of scenarios for unforeseen threats to the U.S. and its allies,and that it is doing this for intimidation purposes in view of possibleattacks. So, this means that Washington has not scrapped the deterrencestrategy, although the U.S. president seems to have listed it among coldwar relics. In this way, he is justifying the U.S. unilateral withdrawalfrom the ABM Treaty.

The U.S. nuclear scenarios can hardly be regarded as "a mind game."They've been drawn up for the Pentagon, not for Hollywood. The negativeconsequences of such moods among the hawks in the U.S. administration onguaranteed universal security are obvious. They can only obstructefforts to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction andspur threshold countries, and not only them, to acquire them. Sincesketches of limited, local and other nuclear catastrophes havereappeared in the absence of the former "balance of fear," safetymechanisms could be loosened and the limits for using either tactical orstrategic nuclear arms could be lowered. So, the Pentagon's unilateraland arbitrary responses and preventive actions could cause more thantheoretical instability in the world.

Russia has to keep this in mind, and not so it can go head to head withWashington, either. In this situation, a bad peace with the Americans isbetter than a good quarrel with them, although cooperation and, whereverpossible, interaction would be better still. But when dealing with theonly superpower, which is clearly aspiring for world supremacy, you needto maintain self control and self-reliance and firmly defend yourinterests, just as the Americans are defending theirs. It wouldn't bebad if we could predict the present U.S. administration's sometimesinsidious behavior, taking into account its strange idea of partnershipand friendship, not to mention its cowboy unscrupulousness. A case inpoint is the report about Russia's inclusion on the list potentialtargets for a U.S. nuclear attack; it was made public on the eve of theRussian defense minister's visit to Washington.

To be sure, it is not easy to deal with the U.S. today. Too much in itsapproach to relations with other countries, even its closest allies, isnow determined by its "superiority complex." These kinds of things arenot eternal, though. Attempts to impose ideology on other countries,attempts to establish hegemony over vast regions of the world, thespending of immense financial and other resources on arms - all this,unfortunately, is present in U.S. policy today, just as it was in theUSSR's. It would be good to know where it will ultimately lead the U.S.
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C. Russia-North Korea

1.
North Korea's Other Axis: With Moscow
James Brooke
New York Times
March 24, 2002
(for personal use only)


In the North Korean capital, the Russian Embassy's annual springcarnival - a folksy celebration of song and dance, wine and pancakes -received a surprise visitor: Kim Jong Il, known in his country as GreatLeader.

Bringing along a large part of the ruling Korean Workers Party CentralCommittee, Mr. Kim knew his way around the Soviet-era building; afterall, the visit last weekend was his third in 10 weeks.

Before this year, no one can recall any visits he made to the RussianEmbassy in his eight years in power. But after President Bush includedNorth Korea in an "axis of evil," Russia has suddenly become quitepopular in Pyongyang, the capital. Russia is also close commerciallywith the other nations that Mr. Bush referred to, Iran and Iraq.

"The North Koreans want to know clearly that the Russians will be ontheir side" if the administration starts to put together a coalitionagainst the North, said Alexandre Mansourov, who worked in the embassyas a Soviet diplomat in the 1980's. "If crunch time comes, they want toknow that Russia will not support any military action."

After President Bush uttered his famous phrase, a leaked nuclear-policyreview listed North Korea, along with six other nations, as a possibleAmerican nuclear target. On Wednesday, Washington decided not to certifyNorth Korea as compliant with a 1994 accord that was to allow NorthKorea two proliferation-proof reactors in return for internationalinspections. On Friday, North Korea threatened to walk away from thedeal.

Although the reactors are supposed to be completed next year, noconcrete has yet been poured in the $4 billion project. So North Koreais turning to Russia. Choe Thae Bok, chairman of the Supreme People'sAssembly, visited Moscow this week and asked the industry minister, IlyaKlebanov, for a nuclear power plant and the technical help to upgradecoal- and oil-fired plants built during the Soviet era.

The Russian minister, aware of world sensitivities about North Korea'snuclear capabilities, was noncommittal.

On Friday, Russia's Atomic Energy Ministry issued a statement saying"there have been no official appeals from North Korea" for a nuclearpower plant, adding: "Neither have our countries negotiated the issue."

The talks, however, reflected the end of a decade-long estrangementbetween the two countries, motivated in large degree by Russia's sensethat it might have spotted a valuable commercial market.

A decade ago, Russia was in North Korea's diplomatic freezer. After thecollapse of the Soviet Union, Boris N. Yeltsin, then Russia's president,recognized South Korea diplomatically and slashed the once-hugediplomatic, military and technical aid delegation in Pyongyang. AndreiV. Kozyrev, then Russia's foreign minister, said that because NorthKorea's government was a serious violator of human rights, a change ingovernment was needed.

Since then, Russia's president, Vladimir V. Putin, and Mr. Kim haveexchanged visits. As Japan and the United States have becomeincreasingly hostile to the North Korean government, relations withRussia have become close.

"The Russian ambassador sees Kim Jong Il almost once a week now," saidMr. Mansourov, who teaches security studies at the Asia-Pacific Centerfor Security Studies in Honolulu. Fueling the relationship, hecontinued, is the shift in American policy back to the time when itespoused a " rollback of Communism on the Korean Peninsula."

Eying an advantage, the Russians are pushing hard to move forward withdevelopment and energy projects. No longer motivated by socialistsolidarity, the Russians are pushing investments to provide commercialbenefit and development to Russia's far east.

Last fall, Russia agreed to start supplying electricity, probably on abarter basis, to North Korean coastal area across the border fromRussia. Work has already begun on improving the rail link between thetwo countries, and last month, the Russians agreed to upgrade wharvesand port infrastructure at Najin, 25 miles south of a rail bridge toRussia. With an ice-free port, this rail terminus would allow Russia'sfar east to export freight year round to Pacific markets.

At the same time, about 40 Russian technicians have been surveying NorthKorea's railroads, with an eye to an eventual link with theTrans-Siberian Railroad, which would give Russia rail access to SouthKorea. The Russian Railway Ministry has set aside $250 million tofinance the project.

"What really matters with the Russians is the railway," said PeterHayes, a Northeast Asia expert who is executive director of the NautilusInstitute for Security and Sustainable Development. "Of course, Kim JongIl, hopes to keep his share of the railway project to a minimum. And hewants to use the Russians against the Chinese."

Ever since its founding half a century ago, North Korea has played theRussians off the Chinese following a strategy intended to win themaximum amount of aid and autonomy.

A joint Chinese-Russian-South Korean consortium is studying an $11billion natural gas pipeline development that would bring gas down fromSiberian fields, through China and North Korea, to the industrialheartland of South Korea.

North Korea's courtship of Russia is part of the nation's push todiversify trade, aid and diplomatic relations. In the last month, Europeand Southeast Asia have been targets of North Korea's charm offensive.

Next Thursday, Indonesia's president, Megawati Sukarnoputri, is toarrive in Pyongyang for a three-day visit, followed by a three-day visitto Seoul. Reflecting the dynastic politics of Asia, the Indonesianpresident has said that she may be able to use her "siblinglike"relationship with Kim Jong Il to get the Korean peace effort back ontrack. In 1965, when their fathers were presidents of their respectivecountries, Miss Megawati, then 18 years old, greeted Mr. Kim, then 25years old, with a bouquet at Jakarta's airport when he arrived with hisfather, Kim Il Sung, for a conference.

After North Korean officials visited Europe this month, 10 Europeancompanies decided to send delegates to the Pyongyang International TradeFair in May. About 30 European companies have registered for a fair inPyongyang in September. On Thursday, Sweden appointed its firstambassador to North Korea since the countries established relations in1973.
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D. Russia-Iran

1.
Russia To Complete Iran Nuclear Plant
Associated Press
March 27, 2002
(for personal use only)


Russia will complete construction of a nuclear power plant in Irandespite U.S. complaints and is looking at North Korea's tentativerequest for a similar plant, the top Russian nuclear official saidWednesday.

"Iran has signed all required international agreements and undertakenfull obligations on transparency and checks ... and unfailinglyfulfilled them," Nuclear Minister Alexander Rumyantsev said at a newsconference. He added that the Bushehr reactor would be completed by 2005as planned.

The United States has long urged Russia to abandon a 1995 contract withIran to complete a nuclear reactor at Bushehr worth about dlrs 800million, saying the project could help Iran build a nuclear bomb. Russiasays the reactor could only be used for civilian purposes and willremain under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The controversy over Russia's nuclear cooperation with Iran and U.S.claims that Russian companies have leaked missile technologies to Tehranremains a major irritant in U.S.-Russian relations.

Rumyantsev insisted that the nuclear cooperation with Iran posed nothreat of proliferation. He said that a new law passed by the Russianparliament last year strengthened non-proliferation guarantees byallowing spent fuel from nuclear power plants abroad taken back toRussia for reprocessing.

"We will ship nuclear fuel to Iran under the contract which envisagesthat the spent fuel will be taken back to Russia," Rumyantsev said."There has been no other cooperation that could help Iran build nuclearweapons."

On a conciliatory note, he added that Russia was viewing the U.S.concerns with "great attention" and voiced hope for a "compromise thatwould help strengthen confidence and peace while allowing Russia to reapeconomic benefits."

Rumyantsev said Russia would earn about dlrs 500 million a year from adeal with the United States to sell uranium taken from dismantledRussian nuclear weapons.

But he also said that his ministry was looking at tentative request fromNorth Korea for the construction of a nuclear power plant.

"We are holding discussions and trying to find out whether it would beeconomically feasible," he said. "But these are only discussions withoutany specific foundation."

Pyongyang has begun looking into whether Russia could do the job afterthreatening to opt out of a 1994 agreement with Washington that urgedNorth Korea to freeze Soviet-designed reactors suspected of producingweapons-grade plutonium in exchange for a U.S.-led consortium buildingtwo dlrs 4.6 billion light-water reactors in North Korea.
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2.
Russia To Send Iran Nuclear Fuel, Take Spent Fuel For Reprocessing
Interfax
March 27, 2002
(for personal use only)


Russia will supply fresh nuclear fuel to Iran for the Bushehr nuclearpower plant on condition that it be returned to Russia for reprocessing,Russian Minister of Atomic Energy Aleksandr Rumyantsev told a pressconference in Moscow on Wednesday [27 March].

The minister recalled that Iran has already signed all internationalagreements on the nonproliferation of nuclear materials and is observingall the commitments it has taken on.

Russia, as well as the US, "are very concerned about the proliferationof fissionable materials," Rumyantsev said. The minister said hediscussed this problem with US specialists and expects to reach acompromise with them on this issue...
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3.
Russia's Relations With Iran Approach A Reckoning Point
Alex Vatanka
Eurasia Net.org
March 26, 2002
(for personal use only)


Iranian-Russian relations are approaching a reckoning point. In recentmonths, Moscow has striven to remain on good terms with both the UnitedStates and Iran, two countries whose own bilateral relations have beenmarked by growing hostility. Russian President Vladimir Putin may soonhave to make difficult strategic choices, and he now appears reluctantto do anything that would disrupt the emerging US-Russian partnership.At the same time, the Russian leader seems intent on keeping his optionsopen.

The postponement of Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi's visit toMoscow, originally scheduled for mid February, was the first sign ofdiscord in Iranian-Russian relations. Kharrazi cited an overcrowdedschedule as the reason for the postponement, but some observers suggestthe Iranian foreign minister put off the visit after Putin declined toschedule a tete-a-tete meeting. Putin's cagey approach towards Iranhints at the evolving nature of Russia's foreign policy.

Putin's options are based on calculated risks. Iran has been a majorpurchaser of Russian military hardware for almost a decade. Yet, whileRussia surely appreciates the income from Iranian arms sales, Putinevidently believes that the United States has more potentially to offer.

The Russian leader has a number of reasons for not wanting to alienatethe United States at present. For one, Washington could play a key rolein securing Russian membership in the World Trade Organization. Putinalso wants to retain as much Russian leverage as possible over theongoing NATO expansion debate. Good bilateral relations would alsoimprove the chances for stronger arms control treaties.

Putin has offered unflagging support for the US-led anti-terrorismcampaign, in the face of increasingly vocal domestic opposition. [Forbackground see the Eurasia Insight archive]. The Russian president isnow eager to see whether his support for the United States sinceSeptember 11 will pay off with concrete American concessions. Putin'sdecisions may be influenced heavily by the outcome of his scheduled Maysummit with US President George W. Bush.

While Russia is not prepared to surrender its Iranian ambitionsentirely, bonding with Iran ranks lower on the Russian list ofpriorities than pleasing the United States. This dynamic reinforcesothers that are seriously limiting the bounds of Russo-Iranian alliance.

The gradual improvement in bilateral relations between Iran and Russiaover the last decade was largely the result of a complex mix ofgeopolitical developments. In part it came from Iran's internationalisolation in the 1980s, ongoing US-Iranian tension and a Russian desireto secure a larger share of global military trade. Iran, subject toUS-led arms embargoes, needs a reliable source of weapons andtechnology. Meanwhile, Russian authorities candidly assert that armsexports are an economic priority.

Putin has linked arms export revenue to the country's budget forscientific, engineering and manufacturing jobs and capacity. Indeed,Moscow wants to replace Britain as the world's second-largest armsexporter by the end of this decade. Iran remains a significant factor inRussian calculations in this regard. Accordingly, Iran has ordered anestimated US$4 billion in Russian hardware, technology and servicessince 1989 and may soon become the world's third largest buyer (afterChina and India) of Russian military equipment.

Despite this arms trade connection, experts believe Russia and Iran donot make natural diplomatic partners. The two states have interests thatoverlap in a few areas, including shared disdain for Afghanistan'sdeposed Taliban regime, and an inherent suspicion of American, Turkishand Pakistani ambitions in Central Asia.

However, Russian and Iranian objectives are divergent in several keyareas, including the development of energy resources and export routes.Russian and Iranian diplomats have argued for months over theterritorial division of the Caspian Sea [For background see the EurasiaInsight archives]. In addition, the two countries have competed overproposed pipeline routes. While Russia and Iran might initially appearto have a mutual interest in counterbalancing America's rising poweraround the Caspian, their own competition for the same clients willprobably block co-ordination of policy between them in the next severalyears.

Russian geoategic aspirations in the Middle East will notnecessarily encourage stronger ties. Moscow had stronger ties withSaddam Hussein's Iraq than with Iran during the Soviet era, and thisdynamic still seems intact. Like its relationship with Iran, Russia'sfriendliness to Iraq plays out in economic terms. Witness the Iraqigovernment's extensive concessions to Russian energy and constructionfirms. In Iran, Russian participation in the energy sector is minimaland the presence of Russian technicians is mainly limited to thoseengaged at the construction of the Bushehr nuclear plant.

Russia and Iran also very often clash on crude oil price forecasts, eventhough both states are major oil exporters dependent on oil revenues.Russia has made it clear that it is interested in gaining more marketshare, while Iran - seemingly always hawkish in promoting productioncuts to sustain prices - is looking to bring crude prices back up to therange of US$22-25 per barrel. Meanwhile, Russian officials have said thecountry can live with oil prices at US$18 per barrel or lower. (Iran'sstate machinery depends more on oil revenues than Russia's does.) Bothstates in essence envisage themselves as major global energy players,and to date there has been more rivalry between them than collaboration.

So Moscow's relationship with Tehran looks opportunistic rather thangeopolitical. While US Iranian hostilities persist, Moscow can continueto pursue its lucrative business dealings with Tehran. However, the flowof Russian military hardware to Iran in exchange for cash constitutespretty much the only natural symbiosis for the two states. Indeed, inthe event that the US and Iran normalize relations, Tehran seems morenaturally destined to confront Moscow than to court it.
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4.
Russian Foreign Ministry Denies Role In Iranian Nuke Plan
RFE/RL Newsline
March 25, 2002
(for personal use only)


Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov has denied that Russia has been helpingIran develop nuclear weapons, Interfax reported on 23 March. Ivanovcalled the allegations made by CIA director George Tenet, "groundlessand against the spirit of current Russian-U.S. relations." Ivanov addedthat "such statements can only cause regret. Mr. Tenet surely is awareof our contacts with representatives of the U.S. administration. We havealways said that if someone has facts, if Mr. Tenet has suchinformation, it must be reported."
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E. Russia-Southeast Asia

1.
Russia Woos Southeast Asia With Weapons, Technology
Dan Eaton
Reuters
March 27, 2002
(for personal use only)


Russia is seeking closer ties with Southeast Asia as its old spheres ofinfluence crumble, wooing countries in the region with high-techgadgetry ranging from nuclear reactors to missiles and fighter jets.

Regional economies are emerging from the crisis of the late 1990s andmothballed weapons procurement programmes are being dusted off at a timewhen Russia is losing ground in Central Asia as the U.S.-led war inAfghanistan grinds on.

"The economic boom may be over, but there is a slow recovery underway inthe region and military programs that were suspended or scaled back arenow starting to surface again. Of course Russia is interested," saidRobert Karniol, Asia Pacific editor of Jane's Defence Weekly.

Late last month, Vladimir Artyakov, the director-general of Russia'sstate arms-exporter Rosoboroneksport, said while attending the AsianAerospace 2002 exhibition in Singapore that the arms market in SoutheastAsia was estimated to be worth $20 billion over the next decade.

He told Russia's ITAR-TASS news agency Moscow was looking to expand itslethal exports to the region.

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov is currently touring oldcommunist ally Vietnam to promote a strategic partnership which willinclude cooperation in nuclear energy, as well as arms sales to Hanoi'smainly Soviet-equipped military.

NUCLEAR REACTOR

Russia's LOMO Corp is due to deliver 50 portable SA-18 surface-to-airmissiles to Vietnam this year under a $64 million contract, according toRussia's Interfax news agency.

Military-run Myanmar recently took delivery of a dozen Russian MiG-29fighter jets, and in January confirmed for the first time that it wasnegotiating to build its first nuclear reactor with Russian help.

The Malaysian air force is also mulling the purchase of a squadron ofgeneral-purpose fighter planes. Russia's Sukhoi Corporation, offeringstate-of-the-art Su-30MK fighters, is seen as a strong contender, sayanalysts.

Moscow is also pursuing Singapore, traditionally a client of U.S. andEuropean arms makers, to buy Sukhoi jets to replace its ageing McDonnellDouglass A-4 Skyhawks.

During Southeast Asia's economic boom in the mid-1990s, Russia madeseveral breakthroughs selling arms to the region, including the sale ofMiG-29 fighters to Malaysia, surface-to-air missiles to Singapore andMi-17 helicopters to Myanmar.

Moscow also tried unsuccessfully to break into the market in Thailandwith advanced fighters and kilo class submarines.

Russia's interest in Southeast Asia is largely commercially driven, sayanalysts, but it is not without a strategic dimension as the countryseeks to find new direction in the wake of its fall from superpowerstatus and the end of the Cold War.

That search has taken on a new urgency post September 11.

TIGHT BUDGETS

The U.S.-led war in Afghanistan has resulted in a Western militarybuildup in Central Asia which Russia has traditionally jealously guardedas its own backyard.

"There is another a strategic aspect to all of this...it has to do withdomestic issues," said Karniol.

"The Russian armed forces have been going through a very tough time forthe last decade and budgets have been very tight. Moscow has this vastdefence industry staffed by highly skilled people that has to besustained."

For the next 10 years, while Russia rebuilds its military, the country'sdesperate defence establishment will therefore have to focus on exports.

That plays into the hands of some Southeast Asian nations deniedtechnology and weapons by Western countries concerned over politicalreform and human rights.

Many of the poorer countries in the region are also seeking to pay formilitary hardware through barter deals.

"Russia is much more flexible on price and terms," said oneBangkok-based diplomat on condition of anonymity. "With respect to humanrights, they are also somewhat less concerned."

A good example is Moscow's sale of fighter jets to Myanmar, and itsagreement to supply the impoverished military-ruled nation with anuclear research reactor in return for timber and agricultural products.

As Russian ambassador to Myanmar Gleb Ivashentsov explained to Reutersin an interview last year:

"Do not demonise Myanmar. They should not be denied the right to developtheir own Atomic energy. The general situation (in Myanmar) is very muchmisrepresented in the media. You do not see people in distress."
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F. Russian Nuclear Forces

1.
Russian Environmentalist Against MP's Proposal To Resume Nuclear Tests
Ekho Moskvy
March 23, 2002
(for personal use only)


President of the Russian centre for environmental policy [academician]Aleksey Yablokov sees no logic in a suggestion that Russia should resumenuclear tests, recently made by [former deputy defence minister, nowleading member of pro-government Fatherland-All Russia faction in theState Duma] Andrey Kokoshin.

"We would again join the arms race. I see neither geopolitical, noreconomic, nor strategic logic in it. What I see is a boyish desire toscore off someone," Yablokov said in a live interview with Ekho Moskvyradio.

Kokoshin, deputy chairman of the State Duma Committee for Industry,Construction and High Technology, said that Russia might resume nucleartests speaking at the ongoing 10th assembly of the Russian Council onExternal and Defence Policy. He said that new nuclear tests on theNovaya Zemlya testing range would be quite possible if the United Statescontinues to work on its nuclear programme.

"Of course, America's decision to prepare for more nuclear tests promptsour military to do the same. It would be silly, because we and Americanshave different problems," Yablokov said.

He said that Russia has enough weapons to provide for strategicdeterrence.
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G. Russian Nuclear Industry

1.
Russia To Boost Nuclear Power Output 5.6 Per Cent In 2002 - Ministry
Interfax
March 27, 2002
(for personal use only)


The Russian nuclear energy sector plans to increase its output by 5.6per cent to 144bn kilowatt hours in 2002, the Atomic Energy Ministryannounced on Wednesday.

In 2002 its output amounted to 136.4bn kilowatt/hours, which was 4.7 percent more than in 2000.
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H. Nuclear Waste

1.
Burying Death
Izvestia
March 27, 2002
(for personal use only)


Only temporary nuclear waste storages exist in Russia today. Accordingto Izvestia, Simushir Island, one of the Kuril Islands, may soon becomethe first place in the country with a permanent nuclear waste storagecenter. That desolate and almost uninhabited island is regarded to be aseismic zone. However, scientists believe that there is no better placeto bury nuclear waste.

Only temporary nuclear waste storages exist in Russia today. Accordingto Izvestia, Simushir Island, one of the Kuril Islands, may soon becomethe first place in the country with a permanent nuclear waste storagecenter. That desolate and almost uninhabited island is regarded to be aseismic zone. However, scientists believe that there is no better placeto bury nuclear waste.

At the same time, the co-chairman of the environmental organization,Ecoprotection, Vladimir Slivyak said that "terrorists couldn't find abetter place than an uninhabited island at the back of beyond for theiractivities." "This is even more true since Simushir is easilyapproachable from the sea. It is unlikely that money to adequately guardthe island will be allocated from the budget."
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2.
Radioactive Containers Found In Eastern Kazakhstan
Interfax-Kazakhstan
March 27, 2002
(for personal use only)


Ust-Kamenogorsk (the administrative centre of East Kazakhstan Region)emergency situations subunits are resolving the issue of scrapping fourradioactive containers with dimensions of 3 cm in diameter and 7 cm inheight each, the [Kazakh] State Emergency Situations Agency told theInterfax-Kazakhstan news agency today.

Containers with a "Radioactive" sign, according to the emergencysituations agency, were found in a garage cooperative in the town lastnight.

Gamma radiation on the surface of the containers measured 300microroentgen per hour and the background radiation level at a distanceof 1 m is normal, the emergency situations agency said.

A police post has been set up on the spot where the containers werefound and the issue of burying them is currently being solved.
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3.
Kazakhstan To Bury Radioactive Scrap Metal Received From China -Agency
Kazakhstan Today
March 26, 2002
(for personal use only)


A radiation source stored in a train carriage with scrap metal inArkalyk [in northern Kazakh Kostanay Region] since November 2001 hasbeen removed and sent to the Baykal-1 testing ground [untraced] forburial, the chief of the Kostanay Regional emergency situationsdepartment, Yevgeniy Batov, told the Kazakhstan-Today news agency.

[Passage omitted: the train carriage with scrap metal was received fromChina on 13 November 2001]

The work to remove the radiation source has been carried out byspecialists from the Kazakh agency for technical exploitation of atomicpower-engineering facilities and the St Petersburg scientific centre foratomic power-engineering problems [in Russia].

A total of six capsules and five components of equipment used in miningand a small amount of soil were removed from the train carriage whichwas stationed at the Arkalyk railway station. The specialists' findings,measuring over 7,000 microroentgen per hour, were placed in a speciallead container covered with three layers of concrete blocks and weresent to the Baykal-1 testing ground especially designed for scrapingradioactive waste. Radioactive-free metal scrap was also loaded ontotrain carriages and was prepared for sending for ordinary processing.

According to the Arkalyk branch of the Kazvtorchermet [Kazakh secondaryferrous metal] company, the dangerous cargo reached its destination[Baykal-1 testing ground] on 25 March.
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4.
Concern Over Nuclear Waste Rises In Russia
Sergei Blagov
Asia Times
Marsh 24, 2002
(for personal use only)


Russia's dangerous radioactive legacy of the Soviet-era nuclear sectorhas become a matter of domestic and international concern. While theRussian authorities, notably the Nuclear Power Ministry - or Minatom -argue that the country's nuclear facilities sector is safe, someinternational environmental organizations, non-governmentalorganizations (NGOs), and parliament deputies are far from convinced.

The issue of nuclear safety was placed under the spotlight when SergeiMitrokhin, a State Duma deputy from the liberal Yabloko faction, alongwith two Greenpeace activists and three NTV cameramen, broke into theKrasnoyarsk-26 plant where the spent nuclear fuel from Bulgaria is beingstored. The break-in, broadcast on NTV, was designed to show that thecountry's system of nuclear safety was "non-existent", Mitrokhin said.

Simultaneously, Greenpeace Russia has also filed suit in a Moscowdistrict court saying that the import of some 40 tonnes of spent nuclearfuel in November from the Kozlodui nuclear plant in Bulgaria is illegal.The waste is now being stored at the Krasnoyarsk-26 in western Siberia,said Vladimir Chuprov, energy programs coordinator for GreenpeaceRussia. NGOs argue that Russia's largest waste-storage facility,Krasnoyarsk-26, has just 3,000 tonnes of unused capacity, while Minatomwants to allow other nations to pay to send more than 10,000 tonnes oftheir radioactive waste for reprocessing and storage here.

Last month, the Russian Supreme Court handed a victory toenvironmentalists, striking down a government decision that allowed theimport of nuclear waste from the Paks nuclear power plant in Hungary forstorage in Russia. Greenpeace and a group of other environmental NGOsfiled a suit against the government last year when they learned of thedecision to allow nuclear waste from the Paks plant to be sent toChelyabinsk for storage, said Chuprov. Russia imports spent fuel rodsfrom Ukraine, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Hungary for reprocessing, but isrequired to return the waste to the countries for permanent storage.

Environmentalists contest the deals clinched before a law signed lastsummer that allows the import of spent nuclear fuel from other countriesfor reprocessing and storage. The recycling process extracts usablematerial from the spent rods while reducing their potential to be usedin weapons, the Minatom has said. The new law, signed by PresidentVladimir Putin, allows the import of spent nuclear fuel for reprocessingand storage. When Putin signed the new law last July, he ordered acommittee to be formed to make recommendations on nuclear safetyprocedures but this committee has yet to start working. According toMitrokhin, the committee cannot start its work because the FederationCouncil, the upper house of parliament, is late in appointingrepresentatives to it.

Since late 2000, environmental groups opposed the law that allowed thelong-term storage of nuclear waste on Russian soil. In an attempt toblock the import of spent nuclear fuel, the environmentalist groupscollected 2.5 million signatures to initiate a national referendum toask whether voters opposed the importation of radioactive materials.

However, Russia's Central Elections Commission, citing minor technicalinaccuracies, rejected more than a fifth of the signatures, leaving theenvironmentalists 200,000 short of the 2 million needed to force areferendum. Most of the signatures were rejected on the grounds ofabbreviating the word "street" in a signer's address. Environmentalactivists moved to initiate a regional referendum in Krasnoyarsk regionand gathered 100,000 signatures. However, the authorities agreed to lookat only 40,000 and then rejected 36,000 as invalid - roughly on the sametechnical reasons.

No big wonder that some Russian environmental activists even argued thatthe twain of democracy and nuclear energy cannot meet. Nonetheless, theenvironmentalists continue to contest skipping both referendums inRussian and European courts, Chuprov said.

However, the governmental nuclear agency, Minatom, still plans alucrative business turning Russia into the world's nuclear pay dump.Advocates of nuclear-waste imports argue that Russia could earn US$20billion over the next decade by importing some 20,000 tonnes of spentnuclear fuel. Yet critics, led by Greenpeace, have lashed out the plan,saying the environmental fallout could outweigh the benefits.

Moreover, even Moscow faces nuclear-waste problems, mainly due toKurchatov Institute. Over the decades, however, the institute hasaccumulated a huge quantity of radioactive waste on its territory -located in a residential district just 15 kilometers northwest of theKremlin. The waste depositories at the institute, which still runs sixof its nine nuclear reactors, contain spent nuclear fuel, water used asa cooling agent and worn reactor parts.

Another matter of concern is the naval nuclear legacy. Notably, onTuesday deputies of the State Duma, the lower house of the Russianparliament, urged the government to approve a federal program on how todeal with decommissioned nuclear submarines and other ships with nuclearreactors. Russia now has 230 such vessels, half of which are near theend of nuclear reactors' lifespan. The deputies urged the government toincrease funding so as to decommission these vessels safely.

In 2002, no less than 10 trailoads of hazardous waste from nuclearicebreakers and submarines will be transported from Kola Peninsula to"Mayak", says Stanislav Golovinsky, technical director of MurmanskShipping Co. Apart from Krasniyarsk-26, Russia's Minatom managesChelyabinsk-65 Reprocessing Plant, or NPO "Mayak", which had been a siteof a series of dangerous accidents. Nevertheless, since 1994 a total of29 trainloads of nuclear waste have been brought from Kola Peninsula to"Mayak" so far. Yet although the operation is getting faster, all thewaste is due to be removed from Kola region no earlier than 2007.

Only afterward does the Murmansk Shipping Co plan to start removingwaste from an emergency storage facility in Andreyev Guba, where wastefrom some 100 reactors is being temporarily stored. At least five moreyears will be needed to clear Andreyev Guba, Golovinsky said.

Russia's Far Eastern regions have waste problems of their own. ThePacific Fleet's 75 decommissioned nuclear submarines are stranded inharbors, and 45 are waiting for nuclear fuel to be unloaded from theirreactors, argues State Duma Deputy Boris Reznik. He says the

Moreover, this month the Russian TV3 channel alleged that adecommissioned nuclear submarine recently sank in Krasheninnikov Bay,Kamchatka Peninsula, in Russia's Far East. But Russian officials haverepeatedly denied such allegations and claimed that the risk of anuclear accident is extremely slight. "No decommissioned nuclearsubmarines were sinking recently," navy spokesman Igor Dygalo was quotedas saying by the Russian Information Agency (RIA). However, Dygaloconceded that such incidents had taken place back in 1997 and 1999, buthe denied that there had been leaks of liquid nuclear waste.

Reznik points out that in 2001 Russia earned $66 billion from oil andgas exports, hence the government has enough money to deal withnuclear-waste problems. "The Russian military officials believe thatpreventing waste leaks just means avoiding press leaks," Reznik said.

It is widely accepted that Russia now faces a longer-term safety problemas its existing nuclear-waste storage facilities are getting closer tobeing filled to capacity.

Russia's scientists, officials, NGOs and environmental activists agreethe country urgently needs to monitor and control its post-Sovietnuclear legacy - notably nuclear waste. Environmentalists, however, castdoubts on the effectiveness of the governmental programs to tackle themess.
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I. Nuclear Terrorism

1.
West Scours Georgia For Nuclear Trash
Ian Traynor
The Guardian
March 27, 2002
(for personal use only)


Leading western countries are planning a massive search in Georgia forpotential "dirty bomb" materials - highly radioactive and mobile nuclearbatteries which, it is feared, could be combined with conventionalexplosives to lethal effect by terrorists.

An emergency meeting of western nuclear safety specialists, includingexperts from Britain, in Paris in a fortnight is expected to agree onair, road and foot searches of the post-Soviet state for two missinglead containers of strontium-90, the first such national quest everundertaken.

The alarm was raised in December when three lumberjacks working in themountains of northern Georgia came across another two nuclear batteries,stripped of their lead casing. The men innocently carried them away inrucksacks and suffered severe burns and radiation sickness. One of thethree is fighting for his life in a French hospital.

"September 11 has made everyone think differently about this," saidMelissa Fleming, a spokeswoman for the Vienna-based International AtomicEnergy Agency, which will also attend the Paris meeting. "There is morethan an assumption that there are two more [abandoned nuclear devices]left in Georgia."

In the 1960s and 70s, the former Soviet Union manufactured at least1,000 of these small nuclear batteries to generate electricity in remoteareas to power lighthouses, and transmission towers. They were also usedextensively by the Soviet military and in satellites.

In the post-Soviet chaos, the devices were abandoned, frequently withoutsupervision. There are believed to be many more of them scattered inremote areas of Moldova, post-Soviet central Asia and the Russian fareast.

"In Georgia you have a weak state and Muslim extremists," said a seniorEuropean official in Tbilisi. "If you put the strontium together withclassical explosives, you could make a town highly radioactive."

The strontium in the small power generators has a radioactivity of40,000 curies, so potent that an international salvage crew sent intoGeorgia to recover the devices found by the lumberjacks operated inspecial clothing. They were allowed to manipulate the heavy metal onlyfrom a distance of two metres and for only 40 seconds at a time.

The two batteries are being stored at an undisclosed location outsideTbilisi.

Ms Fleming said the strontium in the two missing containers - christened"orphan sources" - would be encased in very hard ceramic, making itdifficult to disperse.

However, she said: "It is potential for a dirty bomb if it is shroudedin conventional explosives and then set off. But the strontium wouldneed to be naked - someone would need to handle it and shroud it. Theperson [making the bomb] would need to be prepared to die."

In the wake of the September 11 attacks on the US, there is widespreadwestern concern about suicide nuclear bombers.

An internal IAEA paper last month by the its director general, MohammedEl Baradei, stressed the sense of increasing urgency because of thediscovery of the "two highly radioactive sources" in Georgia, close tothe Middle East and cheek by jowl with the war in Chechnya.

"Radioactive sources are vulnerable to theft. Some are completelyunprotected because they have become orphaned from regulatory control,"Mr El Baradei said.

The IAEA knows of almost 400 cases of trafficking in nuclear and otherradioactive materials since 1993. Of those, 18 involved small volumes ofweapons-grade plutonium or highly enriched uranium, and most of thosecases originated in the former Soviet Union.
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2.
Tajiks Arrested With Stolen Uranium
BBC
March 26, 2002
(for personal use only)


Authorities in Tajikistan have arrested four men caught with two kilosof stolen uranium.

A spokesman for the Tajik security ministry said the group was arrestedin the northern city of Chkalovsk.

They refused to say where they obtained the uranium or what they wereplanning to do with it.

But laboratory tests showed it to have been stolen from theVostokkredmet metal plant in the town of Taboshar, near Chkalovsk.

An official investigation is under way.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, numerous incidentsinvolving the theft of radioactive materials have been reported informer Soviet republics.

Officials have said that all such thefts involved low-concentrationsubstances in small quantities unfit for making nuclear weapons.

But the incidents have raised fears that the stolen material might beused to build a crude nuclear device or a "dirty bomb".

Radiation released

A "dirty bomb" is made by wrapping radioactive material such as spentnuclear fuel rods around ordinary high explosives, then detonating thedevice.

The package could be used in a car bombing or a similar attack.

Damage is not caused so much by the explosion, but by the radiationreleased into the atmosphere.

That could cause deaths, cancers and other health problems over manyyears, as happened after the nuclear accident at the Chernobyl plant inthe Ukraine.

Concerns over the security of former Soviet biological weapons have alsobeen voiced.

On Tuesday, a United States senator called for the clean up of a formertesting facility in Uzbekistan.

Tons of biological weapons lie buried on an island in the Aral Sea.

Senator Bill Nelson said action must be taken to prevent lethal bacteriafalling into the hands of terrorists.
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J. Links of Interest

1.
Russian Military Violating Nuclear Safety And Inventory Rules ByShipping Damaged Fuel
Elena Sokova
Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Monterey Institute of International Studies
March 25, 2002
http://cns.miis.edu/pubs/week/020325.htm


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2.
Needless Obligations: Why Does Russia Want A Treaty With No Substance?
Anatoli Diakov, Timur Kadyshev, Eugene Miasnikov and Pavel Podvig
Center for Arms Control, Energy and Environmental Studies
March 18, 2002
http://www.armscontrol.ru/start/publications/izv031802.htm


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



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