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Nuclear News - 04/04/02
RANSAC Nuclear News, April 4, 2002
Compiled by Michael Roston


A. Cooperative Threat Reduction
    1. Kazakh-US agreement on silos extended, BBC Monitoring Service (04/03/2002)
    2. U.S. Seeks Tighter Security to Prevent Dirty Bombs, Tabassum Zakaria, Reuters (04/02/2002)
    3. Nuclear Threat Did Not Die With Cold War, Richard L. Klass, Defense News (04/01-07/2002)
B. US-Russia Relations
    1. Bury The Cold War With New Ideas On Arms Control, Arthur Hartman, James Goodby and Alexander S.Yereskovsky, International Herald Tribune (04/03/2002)
    2. Russian President and Defense Minister discuss US nuclear plans, RBC (04/03/2002)
C. Russia-Iran Cooperation
    1. Russia, Iran discuss building second power unit at Bushehr, BBC Monitoring Service (04/04/2002)
    2. Russia is not supplying Iran with nuclear missile technology - defence minister, BBC Monitoring Service (04/04/2002)
    3. Russian deputy minister says nuclear cooperation with Iran to continue, BBC Monitoring Service (04/03/2002)
    4. Kharazi to begin visit to Russia Thursday, Agence France Presse (04/02/2002)
D. Russia-India Cooperation
    1. Russian official in India says cooperation in nuclear sector to continue, BBC Monitoring Service (04/04/2002)
    2. UPI Hears., United Press International (04/03/2002)
E. Nuclear Safety
    1. Lithuanian troops find part of stolen nuclear fuel assembly, BBC Monitoring Service (04/04/2002)
    2. Russia: Five radioactive containers found in Chechen capital, BBC Monitoring Service (04/02/2002)
    3. Japan to continue receiving Russian trainees to study nuclear safety, BBC Monitoring Service (04/02/2002)
    4. Russia to Dump Radwaste in Volcano, Charles Digges, Bellona (04/02/2002)
    5. UN Urges Money for Chernobyl Areas, Tim Vickery, Associated Press (04/01/2002)
F. Nuclear Energy
    1. Russia's nuclear power sector set to expand, BBC Monitoring Service (04/02/2002)
G. Announcements
    1. Interview with Alexander Yakovenko, Official Spokesman for Russian Foreign Ministry, in View of Iranian Foreign Minister's Visit to Russia due on April 4-5, Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (04/04/2002)
H. Links of Interest

A. Cooperative Threat Reduction

1.
Kazakh-US agreement on silos extended
BBC Monitoring Service
April 3, 2002
(for personal use only)


Text of report by Russian news agency ITAR-TASS

Astana, 3 April, ITAR-TASS correspondent Oral Karpishev: The Kazakhparliament voted today for extending the Kazakh-US agreement oneliminating ballistic missiles silos, clearing the aftermath ofemergencies and preventing nuclear proliferation.

After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan voluntarilygave up nuclear weapons. The work on destroying nuclear arsenals at theSemipalatinsk testing ground has been completed. At the same time, siloswere destroyed at the military testing grounds of Zhangiz-Tobe,Semipalatinsk and Leninsk. Thus, the work in the military sector hasbeen completed. At the same time, according to the management of thenational biotechnology centre in Stepnogorsk, measures to dismantle theinfrastructure for the production of biological weapons have not beencompleted yet, the reason being that "agreements on methods ofdismantling the buildings and on expenses have not been reached yet".The US side proposes to blow up the buildings. The Kazakh side does notsupport the idea fearing contamination of the environment.

The agreement [on silos] has been extended until 13 December 2007.

Source: ITAR-TASS news agency, Moscow, in Russian 1110 gmt 3 Apr 02
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2.
U.S. Seeks Tighter Security to Prevent Dirty Bombs
Tabassum Zakaria
Reuters
April 2, 2002
(for personal use only)


The United States is seeking greater global security for radioactivematerial that could be used by extremists to create what securityexperts call a "dirty bomb," the Energy Department's chief of nuclearsecurity said on Tuesday.

Non-proliferation efforts have mainly focused on securing nuclearweapons and fissile material that could be used in those arms, and moreefforts are needed to secure lower level radioactive materials, saidretired Air Force Gen. John Gordon, head of the National NuclearSecurity Administration.

"The next frontier though is to get into the non-weapon grade fissilematerials as well, and that's an area we're just starting to engage in,"he told a Defense Writers Group breakfast. "We're really exploring thatarea hard."

Since the Sept. 11 attacks on America, U.S. officials have expressedgreater concern that terrorists might try to build a radiologicaldispersal device, or "dirty bomb."

While such a device would not have the destructive capability of anuclear weapon, materials for it could be easier to obtain.

The United States has started discussions with its allies and Russiaabout the issue, Gordon said.

"It's not stored as weapons grade material, it's not shipped as weaponsgrade material, so it may or may not be inventoried as well," he said.

"I think we are asking people to start opening their eyes a little bitmore and say, do we have adequate physical control on this? Do we haveadequate inventory? It undoubtedly varies by country. France and Britainare very, very good," he said.

CIA Director George Tenet, in testimony to Congress this year, saidOsama bin Laden and his al Qaeda network were believed to be seeking anuclear device and a dirty bomb.

The United States has blamed bin Laden and al Qaeda for the Sept. 11attacks that killed about 3,000 people.

While speculative reports have emerged of nuclear materials or even aweapon missing from Russia's stockpile, there was no evidence that hadoccurred, Gordon said.

"There's Russian assurances, and no other data to suggest that's wrong,"Gordon said. "I think weapons grade material is under pretty goodcontrol," he said of Russia.

"But what I wonder about ... is the controls and security of fissilematerial that is not weapons grade -- generally it comes from eitherreactor fuel, spent reactor fuel or reprocessed fuel -- I think that'san area for non-proliferation that we need to really start getting ourhands around a little bit more," Gordon said.

He reiterated that the U.S. nuclear stockpile was reliable and there wasno need to conduct tests in the near future.

"To say that we would never have to do a test, I can't do that. On theother hand I can say I don't have a need to test now," he said.

Nuclear weapons facilities were safe from a Sept. 11 style attack anddespite a stream of reports of suspicious characters lurking about, "Ihave no specific threats to any of the facilities," Gordon said.
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3.
Nuclear Threat Did Not Die With Cold War
Richard L. Klass
Defense News
April 1-7, 2002
(for personal use only)


The ghosts of the Cold War have certainly come back to haunt us,especially those of us involved in strategic nuclear issues at thattime. First, it was revealed that a "shadow government" was activatedoutside of Washington, DC shortly after the September 11 attacks. Thesefacilities, designed to ensure continuity of government in the event ofa disruption or destruction of normal government operations, had neverofficially been activated before, not even during the Cuban missilecrisis.

Then the reason for the activation was revealed: there were genuinefears of an attack, perhaps a nuclear attack, in the wake of theSeptember 11th terror. This fear was reinforced by a plethora of reportsand stories. A CIA report on the security of theRussian nuclear arsenal stated, "Weapons-grade and weapons-usablenuclear materials have been stolen from Russian institutes." Reportssurfaced that the U.S. government has deployed sensors around Washingtonand at other choke points that attempt to detect a nuclear weapon beforeit is detonated. And, a recent issue of Time magazine stated that lastOctober a wave of fear swept through the U.S. government after aninformant claimed that al Qaeda had acquired a 10-kiloton nuclear deviceand was planning to detonate it in New York City. If placed in lowerManhattan, such a device would probably kill 100,000 people instantlyand seriously injure tens of thousands more.

So, ten years after the Cold War ended, the greatest danger to USsecurity remains Russian nuclear weapons. Not danger from a deliberateattack by Russia, but danger that unsecured weapons or materials willfall into terrorist hands. What can be done? In the short term we haveto have confidence that the US government is doing what it can to detectany such weapons entering the country.

The longer-term response is more complex and more vital. First, we mustcontinue the war on terrorism to disrupt al Qaeda and other terroriststhat pose weapons of mass destruction (WMD) threats. Second, we must cutoff the potential supply of WMD material, especially nuclear weapons andmaterial by supporting critical non-proliferation programs. Despiteefforts by some in the new Bush Administration and Congress to reducethe level of funding for U.S.-Russia nonproliferation cooperation inFY2002, these attempts were reversed after 9/11. The FY03 Bush budgetcalls for a substantial increase in these programs.

But there is much more to be done - and we need Russia's help. There areover 1,000 tons of weapons-grade material in Russia, enough to construct60,000 warheads, in addition to the approximately 20,000 alreadyassembled. Much of this material, and some of the warheads, which arestored in over 400 buildings, is inadequately secured. Russia has anunknown - to us and perhaps even to them - number of tactical nuclearweapons, with estimates ranging from 2,000 to 18,000. These smaller andhence more portable weapons are particularly attractive to terroristsand terrorist states. Also, security upgrades, as well as a basicinventory, is needed for hundreds of tons of weapons-ready Russiannuclear material.

Clearly, one of the most important steps we can take is to account forand secure sources of nuclear material. At their November 2001 summit,Presidents Bush and Putin agreed to create a strategic framework toaddress the nuclear and biological weapons threat. As their next summitapproaches in May, it is critical for both nations to come to the tablewith a legally-binding agreement to secure existing weapons. No longershould the United States and Russia allow old debates to impede progresstoward addressing the acute problem of loose nuclear warheads ormaterial proliferating to those that would do us harm. U.S.-Russianonproliferation cooperation must be a high priority issue for the MayBush-Putin summit.

Fortunately, some far-sighted Senators and Congressmen are promotingcreative ideas for funding new non-proliferation initiatives.Representatives Tauscher and McHugh introduced the Russian FederationDebt Reduction for Nonproliferation Act to help provide Russia with theability to engage in concrete nonproliferation activities to lessen thethreat of nuclear material falling into the possession of terrorists or"rogue" states. Their important national security efforts build upon theextraordinary work of many members of Congress, including RepresentativeSpratt and Senators Biden and Lugar.

This is serious business. Just last month, the Bulletin of AtomicScientists' Doomsday nuclear clock was moved two minutes closer tomidnight, the same position as it was in 1947, the dawn of the cold war.The clock is ticking. It is time to act.
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B. Russia-U.S. Relations

1.
Bury The Cold War With New Ideas On Arms Control
Arthur Hartman, James Goodby and Alexander S. Yereskovsky
International Herald Tribune
April 3, 2002
(for personal use only)


President George W. Bush and the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, have anopportunity at their May summit meeting in Moscow to move toward anentirely new framework of nuclear arms control for the post-Cold Warworld.

The fact is, Russia and America have been caught in the nucleardeterrence trap since the 1950s. Bush has spoken of "mutual cooperation"between Russia and the United States. A model of U.S.-Russian relationsbased on "mutual assured cooperation" makes a great deal of sense. It istruly time to escape from the Cold War framework of mutually assureddestruction.

A major down payment on a new strategic framework could be made atMoscow, including these elements: First, there should be an even deeperreduction in the number of the nuclear weapons than the two leaders nowcontemplate. Even 1,500 deployed warheads, which Putin is ready toaccept, are more than what is required by their present relationship andthe new threats they face.

Actions should be taken to make the cuts as irreversible as technologyand transparency can make them. Russia now seems to have decided also tokeep operationally ready nuclear warheads in storage, thus compoundingsecurity and safety problems.

Dismantling nuclear warheads is slow work, limited by the currentphysical capacity to do so and by the available secure storagefacilities. Inevitably there will be a need to store some warheadsawaiting dismantlement. But the two countries can establish a process tomonitor the elimination of excess warheads and to account for storedwarheads. They should do so as soon as possible.

A second essential element can be built on joint actions to counter thethreat of attacks by rogue states or terrorist groups. Since Sept. 11,the record on this score is encouraging. But the key to putting theirmemories of enmity behind them would be Russian-American cooperation inballistic missile defense.

This requires a NATO-Russia joint project, aiming first at theater-wideair and missile defense, focusing on research, development, productionand deployment. If successful, a joint project of this type would be aforce multiplier. It would effectively integrate the European-Atlanticcommunity in countering threats from the air and from space. The era ofmutual assured destruction would become a part of history.

Third, Russia and America should establish a high-level U.S.-Russiastrategy group headed by the two presidents, with trustedplenipotentiaries acting as chief operating officers. A mechanism isneeded to steer the two countries generally in the same direction, justas Britain and America needed a combined chiefs of staff committeeduring World War II, as they experimented with the unfamiliar task ofacting together in security matters.

Treaties are not necessary for this. U.S.-Russian cooperation is neededin an array of projects like early warning of air and missile attacks,reducing reliance on prompt launch procedures for their ballisticmissiles, and transparency in the area of short-range nuclear weaponssystems. The lack of a properly constituted, high-level forum forharmonizing defense decisions is one of the reasons that a more rapidtransition to an alliance-like relationship has not occurred.

These are the essential elements of a program that would begin to builda new strategy of "mutual assured cooperation" a combination of minimumnuclear forces; a slowly growing joint defense against ballistic missileattacks; and, most importantly of all, institutionalizedacross-the-board cooperation as befits de facto allies.

The May summit meeting is the time for an entirely new Russian-Americansecurity relationship, totally different from that which existed duringthe Cold War. Only strong and daring political leadership, and a soaringstrategic vision, can build such relations.
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2.
Russian President and Defense Minister discuss US nuclear plans
RBC
April 3, 2002
(for personal use only)


In the evening of April 1 Russian President Vladimir Putin and DefenseMinister Sergey Ivanov met in Sochi. The President and the DefenseMinister discussed the results of the recent consultations betweenRussian and American experts regarding the parameters of the newagreement about offensive strategic weapons. The problem was the veryreason for the Minister's visit to the President: they had to closelylook into the current situation at the Russian-American talks aboutoffensive strategic weapons. The problem is that in their nucleardoctrine the US made a stake in the development of nuclear ammunition ofsmall and super-small capacity. Such nuclear ammunition is viewed as adefensive weapon, which, according to the US' version, should not beincluded in the agreement.

The new nuclear doctrine lists the countries that may become targets forsuch weapons: South Korea, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Libya. A separateposition is reserved for China and Russia as potential adversaries undercertain circumstances. The US can deliver a nuclear strike to them, too.Sergey Ivanov has already told that, during his visit to Washington, heobtained explanations of the core problems contained in the US nucleardoctrine. Some unresolved problems still need to be addressed, though.They were first voiced by President Vladimir Putin on March 28 at hismeeting with the defense industry scientists after his telephoneconversation with US President George Bush.

Putin made clear that the launch of the production of nuclear warheadsof small capacity reduced the ceiling restraining nuclear weapon use.The conditions of this use, according to the Russian President, may beextended "up to disaster proportions", the Nezavisimaya Newspaperreported.
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C. Russia-Iran Cooperation

1.
Russia, Iran discuss building second power unit at Bushehr
BBC Monitoring Service
April 4, 2002
(for personal use only)


Text of report in English by Russian news agency ITAR-TASS

Moscow, 4 April: Russia is holding talks with Iran on construction ofthe second unit at the Bushehr nuclear power plant, ITAR-TASS learnt onThursday [4 April] at the Atomstroyeksport company's public relationscentre. According to the appraisal of Atomstroyeksport managing directorViktor Kozlov, "talks are proceeding successfully".

"Guided by the results of work on the first power unit," Kozlov noted,"the sides are now discussing a possibility of completing constructionof the second unit. It is possible to sign a contract for another twoyears."

"Around 3,900 Russian and Iranian specialists now work at theconstruction site of the first unit of the Bushehr nuclear power plant,"Atomstroyeksport experts noted. "Last year, Russia partially shipped themain equipment, including the reactor. All in all, 5,000 tonnes ofequipment were shipped.

"It is also planned to make some major deliveries this year. The reactorof the first power unit is planned to be put into operation in December2003."

Atomstroyeksport specialists noted that the Iranian side requested theRussian Atomic Energy Ministry in 1994 to complete construction of thefirst unit of the Bushehr station that had been under constructionearlier by the German Siemens company.

Iranians asked to complete construction, using to the utmost buildingconstructions and equipment brought from Germany, as well as Iranianequipment whose quantity ran into about 80,000 pieces. This was a verydifficult scientific and technical task.

As a result of studies of the state of the project by Russian firms,they confirmed the possibility of completing construction of the Germanunit with application of equipment and technology of the Russian powerunit VVER-1000.

In August 1998, the sides signed an addendum to the contract on handingover construction of the station on a turnkey basis to theAtomstroyeksport company.

Source: ITAR-TASS news agency, Moscow, in English 1229 gmt 4 Apr 02
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2.
Russia is not supplying Iran with nuclear missile technology - defenceminister
BBC Monitoring Service
April 4, 2002
(for personal use only)


Athens, 4 April: Russian Defence Minister Sergey Ivanov has bluntlydenied reports about Moscow's supply of nuclear missile technology toIran.

"The issue of Russia's alleged supply of nuclear or missile technologiesto Iran has been discussed for a long time, but it is nothing but amyth," Ivanov said after negotiations in Athens with Greek NationalDefence Minister Ioannis Papandoniou on Thursday [4 April].

"They have never produced any facts to confirm cooperation betweenMoscow and Tehran in that sphere, and we know they will not do so in thefuture, because there are no such facts," Ivanov said...

Source: Interfax news agency, Moscow, in English 1230 gmt 4 Apr 02
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3.
Russian deputy minister says nuclear cooperation with Iran to continue
BBC Monitoring Service
Apr 3, 2002
(for personal use only)


Text of report in English by Russian news agency Interfax

Moscow, 3 April: Russia will continue to cooperate with Iran in allspheres of mutual interest, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister AleksandrLosyukov told Interfax ahead of Iranian Foreign Minister KamalKharrazi's visit to Moscow beginning on 3 April.

He confirmed that Russia refers the nuclear energy sector andmilitary-technical contacts to "important areas of cooperation".

"We intend to continue cooperation in these spheres in line with thecurrent agreements and do not think that these contacts are detrimentalto anyone's interests," Losyukov said.

He said that Russian-Iranian cooperation in the so-called "sensitiveareas" is sufficiently transparent and is not violating anyinternational nonproliferation regimes.

He said in commenting on US officials' statements that Russia isassisting Iran in creating ballistic missiles, that "unfoundedaccusations are not the best way to act".

"By cooperating with Iran, Russia is not pursuing any covert goals. Norhas it any secret agreements with Iran," said Losyukov.

Source: Interfax news agency, Moscow, in English 0553 gmt 3 Apr 02
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4.
Kharazi to begin visit to Russia Thursday
Agence France Presse
April 2, 2002
(for personal use only)


Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi begins a two-day visit to Russiaon Thursday, during which he will meet his counterpart Igor Ivanov fortalks expected to include the construction of a Russian-built nuclearplant in Iran, the Interfax news agency reported Tuesday.

Kharazi, whose visit had originally been slated to start Wednesday, willhold talks with Ivanov on Friday focused on "military technicalcooperation and nuclear power," diplomatic sources told Interfax.

The two men are likely to discuss speeding up the construction of aRussian-built nuclear plant at Bushehr where delays have accumulated,much to the displeasure of the Iranians.

Washington, which has branded Iran as part of an "axis of evil," seesBushehr as the possible means for Tehran to build nuclear weapons andhas accused Moscow of being an "active proliferator."

Iran is also interested in purchasing conventional weapons from Russiaafter Moscow in November 2000 backed out of a secret Russia-US agreementbarring arms sales to the Islamic republic.

Last October Moscow and Tehran signed a military cooperation agreementopening the way to a resumption of arms sales.

The two sides will also discuss the legal status of the Caspian Seaahead of a regional summit slated for late April in Turkmenistan to tryand narrow differences between the five shoreline states over thedivision of the sea's oil riches.

The Kremlin said it had no information on whether the Iranian foreignminister would meet President Vladimir Putin.

Kharazi had been due to visit Moscow in February but the visit was putoff amid uncertainty over whether he would be allowed to meet Putin inperson, and the incident appeared briefly to cloud relations between thetwo countries.
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D. Russia-India Cooperation

1.
Russian official in India says cooperation in nuclear sector to continue
BBC Monitoring Service
April 4, 2002
(for personal use only)


Text of report in English by Russian news agency Interfax

Delhi, 4 April: Russia will not yield to pressure being put on it bythird countries and will not give up cooperation with India in thenuclear sector, Russian Security Council Secretary Vladimir Rushaylotold Interfax on Thursday [4 April].

Russia attaches great importance to cooperation with India in thenuclear energy sphere and the recently launched construction of theKudankulam nuclear power plant will proceed as outlined in signedagreements, Rushaylo said.

"Some countries oppose our nuclear cooperation and continue puttingpressure on Russia," Rushaylo said. "But Russia will not give up itsright to give its strategic partner, India, all necessary assistance inthe peaceful use of atomic energy, which does not go against ourinternational commitments," he said.

He said he hopes that Delhi will take further steps to promotenonproliferation and join the comprehensive nuclear weapons prohibitiontreaty.

Source: Interfax news agency, Moscow, in English 0720 gmt 4 Apr 02
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2.
UPI Hears.
United Press International
April 3, 2002
(for personal use only)


>From those wonderful people who brought you Chernobyl -- RussianPresident Vladimir Putin will be hawking a package deal of four newlight water nuclear reactors to India on his visit, expected next month.Russia's Deputy Minister of atomic energy, E.A. Reshetnikov, revealedthe Kremlin super-salesman's plans at a ceremony to mark the pouring ofthe first concrete of India's two new 1,000 MW-each atomic power plants.
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E. Nuclear Safety

1.
Lithuanian troops find part of stolen nuclear fuel assembly
BBC Monitoring Service
April 4, 2002
(for personal use only)


Text of report in English by Russian news agency Interfax

Vilnius, 4 April: Another part of a nuclear fuel assembly that wasstolen about 10 years ago has been found near the Ignalina nuclear powerplant.

Lithuanian soldiers dug up material with a radioactivity of 18microroentgen per hour (natural radioactivity is 10 microroentgen perhour) in a swampy forest approximately 10 kilometres from Visaginas lastWednesday [3 April], chief prosecutor of the Vilnius District RamutisJancevicius told the press on Thursday. Visaginas is a settlement of theIgnalina plant staff.

The material was brought to the nuclear power plant for examination.There is preliminary information that the soldiers have found 30zirconium pipes from the nuclear fuel assembly. Judging by the pipes'weight, there is no uranium inside.

A cylinder with a radioactivity of 411 microroentgen per hour was foundnear the Utena-Kupiskis road in the Anyksciai central district severalweeks ago. It was also a part of the nuclear fuel assembly thatdisappeared from the Ignalina plant in 1992.

Some of the stolen assembly was found near Vilnius about five years ago.Thirty kilograms of radioactive uranium had been buried in the ground.About 20 kilograms of radioactive uranium was found in Visaginas atabout the same time.

Source: Interfax news agency, Moscow, in English 0936 gmt 4 Apr 02
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2.
Russia: Five radioactive containers found in Chechen capital
BBC Monitoring Service
April 2, 2002
(for personal use only)


Text of report by Russian news agency RIA

Rostov-na-Donu, 2 March, correspondents Sofya Brykanova and EdgarSaroyan: Five containers with radioactive substance have been found inthe Leninskiy district of Groznyy, the press service of the RussianEmergencies Ministry's Southern regional directorate [based in Rostov]said.

The containers were found by a reconnaissance group of the ChechenEmergencies Ministry. The radiation level at a distance of one metrefrom the containers measured 500-600 microroentgen per hour.

A potentially contaminated area of about 300 square metres has beenfenced off. Experts from the Chechen Emergencies Ministry are preparingto take the containers to a safe place.

Source: RIA news agency, Moscow, in Russian 0601 gmt 2 Apr 02
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3.
Japan to continue receiving Russian trainees to study nuclear safety
BBC Monitoring Service
April 2, 2002
(for personal use only)


Tokyo, 2 April: Japan will annually receive some 50 trainees fromRussia, China and other Asian, East and Central European countries undera new programme for cooperation in the sphere of nuclear security. Theeconomics and industry ministry announced that this five-year programmewas launched in the 2002 fiscal year which started on 1 April.

The Japanese government appropriates 250m yen (nearly 2m US dollars) forthis purpose during the first year.

The programme envisages that trainees will participate in seminars,visit projects of the Japanese nuclear power industry and will undergotraining at special centres...

The new plan is a modified version of a similar programme carried outover the past decade and [which] ended in the 2001 fiscal year. A totalof 1,042 trainees from Russia, China, as well as eight East Europeancountries and some former Soviet republics visited Japan over the aboveperiod. The aim of the programme was to help prevent incidents atprojects of the nuclear power industry in those countries, similar tothe disaster at the Chernobyl power plant in 1986.

Source: ITAR-TASS news agency, Moscow, in English 0802 gmt 2 Apr 02
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4.
Russia to Dump Radwaste in Volcano
Charles Digges
Bellona
April 2, 2002
(for personal use only)


Atomic Minister Alexandr Rumyantsev announced that Russia would bewilling to except low active radioactive waste for permanent burial on aseismically unstable volcanic island in Russia's far eastern Kuril chainfrom Taiwan.

Speaking in Izvestiya Thursday, Rumyantsev casually said that Russiawould be willing to work with Japanese engineers to build on SimushirIsland - home to the active 1539 meter Milna volcano - a permanentradioactive waste burial facility that would be capable of withstandingthe island's shifting and jarring earth. The volcano is one of severalsuch volcanoes on the island chain located off the northern coast ofJapan add south of Kamchatka

According to confidential Duma documents obtained by Vladimir Slivyak,co-chairman of Moscow's Ecodefense!, the Taiwanese will supposedly bepaying the Russian government up to $10bn, including $2.5bn ofconstruction costs, to host its radioactive waste in thisseismologically volatile environment on a permanent basis. Thiscontradicts the law signed last year on nuclear imports to Russia thatstipulated that only spent nuclear fuel could be imported into thecountry. Russian Nuclear Atomic Energy Ministry, or Minatom, argued thatspent nuclear fuel is a resource, which could be reprocessed and reused.Waste generated during reprocessing could stay in Russia, given there isno possibility to return them back. It appears that Minatom is startingnow to advocate for import of not only spent nuclear fuel but alsoradioactive waste.

>From spent fuel import to radioactive dumpsite

A more subtle revelation contained in the Rumyantsev interview - whichwas buried in the Izvestiya interview's last paragraph - as well as thedocuments obtained by Slivyak is this: Russia will accept radioactivewaste.

This is wholly inconsistent, say a host of environmentalists, with theconditions surrounding the lifting of spent nuclear fuel importrestrictions last year, which stipulated that no radioactive waste, butonly spent nuclear fuel is legible for import.

"What Rumyantsev is doing here is entirely illegal," said Slivyak in atelephone interview Friday.

"Aside from breaching the laws about protecting the environment - whichwere breached by the lifting of the [nuclear spent fuel import] bananyway - Minatom is breaching its own self-tailored law allowing it toimport plane radioactive waste for permanent burial."

The leaked documents that Slivyak's associates showed Bellona Monday,also allegedly reveal that Duma Deputy Sergei Shashurin was thelynch-pin in arranging the nuclear waste deal with the Taiwanese nuclearplant, which he supposedly achieved with the alleged cooperation of theTaiwanese-Japanese company Asia Tat Trading Co Ltd. All were supposedlycooperating with Moscow's Kurchatov Institute Nuclear Research Centre todevelop designs for the storage facility for the waste.

Despite three days of telephone calls, Shashurin neither returnedmessages nor was available for comment. The Japanese Embassy, near whoseterritory the waste will be located, declined comment.

Reached in Taipei, an Asia Tat Trading Co. Ltd official piquantlyreferred all inquiries on the shipment to Minatom.

At the Sakhalin Oblast Administration - located eight time zones East ofMoscow and under whose jurisdiction Simushir Island falls - authoritieswere surprised to hear about the project.

Simushir is an uninhabited island except for a periodically staffedweather station, but one administration official, speaking on thecondition of anonymity, said, "It would have been appropriate of them toinform us - we have heard nothing."

Minatom, in its turn, confirmed the deal, but urged the press steerclear of the issue because the public and the media could not possiblyunderstand the implications of a nuclear waste dump on a volcanic,earthquake-prone island in some of he Pacific Ocean's most fertilefishing waters.

"Society is far from informed on these matters and so is not prepared tomake any judgment on the issue but panicked gossip," said Minatomspokesman Yury Bespalko in a telephone interview Monday.

"These are top people - Russian and Japanese teams - working to assurethe safety of this endeavour. The Japanese have experience with storingwaste under favourable seismological circumstances. But we are buildingmore than a metro tunnel here, so it will be beyond the grasp of mostpeople."

When asked whether a contravention of the law on permanent storage offoreign nuclear waste was afoot, he responded: "That is for judiciarybodies to decide."

At the Kurchatov Institute, which, according to Slivyak's research, wascontracted to help design the storage containers, press officer AndeiGagarinsky at first denied the institute had any hand in the containerdesigns, and called what Rumyantsev said in Izvestiya a "typicaljournalistic red herring."

Later in the interview, Gagarinsky backed off slightly, and admittedthat designs for permanent waste storage in the Kuril Island chain hadbeen considered. When asked if those plans are materializing, he said"The Kurchatov Institute supports the notion of a permanent wastestorage facility - be it somewhere else in Russia or in the Kurilislands."

He refused further comment.

Regulator's waning role

For all the institutions allegedly privy to this deal, one isconspicuously absent - Gosatomnadzor, or GAN, Russia's nuclearregulatory body, which under the import law is to be informed ofshipments. It is GAN's responsibility, much like a customs house, tolicense these imports.

When contacted by telephone on Friday regarding the Taiwanese wasteshipment to Simushir, GAN's deputy director, Alexander Dmitriev, wastaken entirely off-guard.

"Rumyantsev said what?" Dmitriev asked when told of the news. "We knowabsolutely nothing about this."

Obviously taken aback, Dmitriev guided a room full of colleagues to findthe copy of the Izvestiya that contained the Rumyantsev's comments. Whenit was finally located, the line went silent as Dmitriev read thereport.

"I am the deputy director of Gosatomnadzor and should have known aboutthis," he said, his colleagues chattering nervously in the background.

"I don't know what sort of nonsense they are up to [at Minatom], but wewill have no further comment on this rubbish until we see officialnotification," he said.

Slivyak, with his cadged Duma documents on the waste transfer, may ormay not be official enough for Dmitriev, but the fact that remains isthat the input of the deputy director of GAN matters less and less tothe consolidated lobby of Minatom. This state agency would make alldecisions about nuclear issues in Russia, including those about safety,said Green World's Sergei Kharitonov, a former nuclear power plantworker turned whistle-blower.

Laws circumvented

On paper, the 2001 law governing the import of spent nuclear fuel fromother countries is clear on the point that no radioactive waste will beshipped into the country for permanent storage. But the law has beenabused and outright ignored by Minatom a number of times - even beforeit was signed into force.

This slap-dash approach by his ministry was not a point that seemed toconcern Rumyantsev in his Izvestiya interview, where he didn't makereference to the import law once - instead taking a snipe at the "greensfor pestering [him]" about his decisions.

Among other radioactive shipments were the cases of a Bulgarian and aHungarian load spent nuclear fuel. The Bulgarians shipped spent nuclearfuel into Russia in autumn 2001 after the Russian President signed theimportation laws. Neither environmental impact study, stipulated by thespent fuel import law, nor the personal control of President Putin, asit was promised, were in place.

In a similar deal, the Hungarian Paks Nuclear Power Plant sent spentnuclear fuel to Russia backed by a governmental decree, issued in 1998,which allowed as an exception storing in Russia spent nuclear fuel (SNF)from the plant.

As a result, environmental groups of Chelyabinsk - the southern Uralscity where Mayak is located - as well as the environmental group"Greenpeace" filed suit with the Russian Supreme Court on the basis thatthe legislation at the time the decree was issued prohibited importationof radioactive waste. The current legislation, although allowing importof spent nuclear fuel, declares the "priority [for Russia] of the rightto return the radioactive waste, generated after the reprocessing [ofSNF] into the country of its origin."

The court agreed with the plaintiff, but the Federal Governmentintervened with an appeal - which according to a spokesman for theSupreme Court, reached by telephone Monday, "could delay the case formonths." The spokesman did not know, however, if the Hungarian plantwould be able to continue its imports pending a decision on its appeal.
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5.
UN Urges Money for Chernobyl Areas
Tim Vickery
Associated Press
April 1, 2002
(for personal use only)


A top U.N. official urged the international community on Monday not toabandon the region affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, eventhough the power plant no longer poses a major radiation threat.

Kenzo Oshima, U.N. undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs, wasin Moscow promoting a U.N. report that calls for a new, 10-year aidprogram aimed at raising the living standards of an estimated 5.7million people living in areas of Russia, Ukraine and Belarus that werecontaminated after the explosion and fire at the Chernobyl nuclear powerplant nearly 16 years ago.

Though the plant is closed and the destroyed reactor encased to preventradiation leakage, the international community cannot now "close thefile on the people affected in the region," Kenzo said at a newsconference.

Moscow was the first stop on his three-country tour to promote the U.N.report.

Since the April 26, 1986, disaster, Russia, Ukraine and Belarus havereceived $750 million in international emergency assistance. The plant,located in Ukraine, was closed in December 2000 after years of foreignpressure and promises of more aid.

The U.N. report proposes shifting the focus of Chernobyl assistance fromhumanitarian and technical measures to sustainable socio-economicdevelopment for the region's residents and for more than 200,000 peoplewho took part in cleanup efforts.

"The number one priority is the economic rehabilitation ofradiationicken territories, the creation of jobs, and anti-povertymeasures," Russia's Deputy Emergency Situations Minister NadezhdaGerasimova told the Interfax news agency.

U.N. officials stressed that serious new health issues also should notbe overlooked.

"The most troubling and the most tragic (problem) is the jump in thyroidcancer among children," Oshima said.

Already over 2,000 cases of thyroid cancer have been reported, and U.N.experts say it could hit 10,000 in the next two years.

The U.N. is calling on donor governments to dedicate $70 million, or 10percent of the amount already donated to create a concrete sarcophagusover the failed reactor.

Later this week, Oshima will visit affected areas in Ukraine and Belarusbefore presenting the report's recommendations to international donorsin Geneva.
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F. Nuclear Energy

1.
Russia's nuclear power sector set to expand
BBC Monitoring Service
April 2, 2002
(for personal use only)


Text of report by Russian news agency ITAR-TASS

St Petersburg, 2 April: The Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy isplanning to build nuclear power stations in Russia with a total capacityof about 40 GW, and abroad with a total capacity of up to 10 GW, by theyear 2020. By the year 2010 power generation at already functioningnuclear power plants will increase from 22 GW to 30 GW, officials ofRosenergoatom [state-run atomic energy concern] said today at theRussian Fuel and Energy Complex forum, which opened in St Petersburg.

If the share of atomic power stations in the total generating capacityof Russian power plants does not at present exceed 11.5 per cent, thenby 2010 it will rise to 20 per cent, and then to 28-30 per cent. IfRussia's nuclear power plants generated 135bn kWh of electricity lastyear, then this year Rosenergoatom is planning to generate a total of144bn kWh.

Investments in the construction of new nuclear power plants up to 2010will total R250bn, while R160bn will be invested in the reconstructionof existing power units and the extension of their service lives, theRosenergoatom officials noted.

Source: ITAR-TASS news agency, Moscow, in Russian 1350 gmt 2 Apr 02
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G. Announcements

1.
Interview with Alexander Yakovenko, Official Spokesman for RussianForeign Ministry, in View of Iranian Foreign Minister's Visit to Russiadue on April 4-5
Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
April 4, 2002


  • What are the objectives of Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi'svisit to Russia?
  • Kharrazi will come to Moscow on the invitation of Russian ForeignMinister Igor Ivanov, as part of regular contacts between the foreignministries of the two countries.
During the visit, the sides will consider the implementation of theagreements reached during the Russo-Iranian summit meeting in Moscow inMarch 2001, further dialogue with Teheran on a broad range of bilateral,regional and international issues.

In this connection, it is worth mentioning Russia's satisfaction withthe fact that Moscow and Teheran's standpoints on most internationalpolitical issues are close or coincide.

Kharrazi's reception in Moscow is meant to reaffirm the Russianleadership's commitment to developing mutually advantageous, stable,long-standing co-operation with Iran, regardless of the politicalsituation.

  • Which of the subjects to be discussed will be most crucial?
  • Among the crucial topics under discussion will be the fight againstterrorism repeatedly condemned by Russia and Iran, with drug traffickingand other global challenges of today. The sides will adjust theirpositions on the pressing international security issues, disarmament,non-proliferation and exports control.
The visit will also see a regular swap of opinions on the situation inAfghanistan, where Russia and Iran have heavily contributed to the fightagainst the extremist Taliban regime. Today our countries wantAfghanistan to be a peaceful, independent, neutral country living inpeace with its neighbours and the rest of the international community.

The parties will also consider the opportunities of Moscow and Teheranto jointly or simultaneously assist Afghanistan's social and economicrestoration.

Particular attention will be paid to the issues related to the Caspianwhich, in both countries' opinion, should become a zone of peace andstability, sustainable economic growth and prosperity,good-neighbourhood and equal co-operation between the littoral states.Negotiations regarding preparations for the Caspian leaders' meetingwill also stand on the agenda.

Under review will also be such issues of mutual concern as the situationin Central Asia, Transcaucasia, the Middle East, around Iraq and others.

  • How prominent will trade and economic co-operation be at thenegotiations?
  • As tradition has it, the current state and the prospects for trade andeconomic ties between Russia and Iraq are in the focus of the twoministers' attention. According to preliminary estimates, last yearbilateral trade turnover saw a considerable growth up to nearly the $1bln mark /in 2000--$603 mln/. Besides, the Moscow talks are meant toaccelerate the discussion of some promising large-scale projects in theareas of energy, aircraft building, and transport.
Russia is building up its economic relations with Iran in fullcompliance with international commitments, without threatening securityof third nations.
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H. Links of Interest

1.
Rule of Power or Rule of Law? - An Assessment of U.S. Policies andActions Regarding Security-Related Treaties
Nicole Deller, Arjun Makhijani, and John Burroughs (eds.)
Institute of Energy and Environmental Research and Lawyers' Committee onNuclear Policy
April 2002
http://www.ieer.org/reports/treaties/fullrpt.pdf


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2.
Nuclear Terrorism and Warhead Control in Russia
Tom Z. Collina and Jon B. Wolfsthal
Arms Control Today
April 2002
http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2002_04/colwolfapril02.asp


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3.
Required Linkage in U.S.-Russian Plutonium Disposition Program
Paul Leventhal and Eldon V.C. Greenberg
Nuclear Control Institute
March 27, 2002
http://www.nci.org/02NCI/03/Abraham-27.htm


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4.
Deconstructing the Chem-Bio Threat
Amy Sands
Center for Nonproliferation Studies
March 19, 2002
http://cns.miis.edu/pubs/reports/asands.htm


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5.
The Russian Economy in March 2002
Keith Bush
Center for Strategic and International Studies
http://www.csis.org/ruseura/rus_econ0203.pdf


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6.
From Crisis to Transition: The State of Russian Science Based on FocusGroups With Nuclear Physicists (U)
Thedore P. Gerber and Deborah Yarsike Ball
December 2001
http://cgsr.llnl.gov/future2002/Ponars_version3_12-10-01.html


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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