1. US To Hold Back On Disarmament Projects With Russia
April 12, 2002
(for personal use only)
The United States has accused Russia of its failure to meet itsobligations under international chemical and biological weaponsconventions, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta reports.
For this reason, the US Congress will hold back on some disarmamentprojects with Russia carried out under the Cooperative Threat ReductionAct. This so-called Nunn-Lugar Program, which started in 1991, hashelped countries in the former Soviet bloc destroy nuclear, chemical andbiological weapons and associated infrastructure, and prevent the theftor spread of such weapons. The Congress has allocated about $370m forthe program over the past decade. The Bush administration has requestedanother $1.3bn for the projects, and this money is at stake now.
Under American law, the US government decides each year whether Russiais committed to complying with its treaty obligations. The StateDepartment sent a cable to Russia last week, laying out Washington'sposition on the issue. The United States was not able to certifyRussia's compliance with international arms control treaties, it is saidin the cable, and, for this reason, the Bush administration will beunable to start new projects or provide new financing for the alreadyexisting disarmament programs.
It is for the first time since the start of the threat reduction programthat the United States refused to certify Russia's commitment. This lackof certification will affect $450m in programs run by the US DefenseDepartment and the $70m supervised by the US Department of State. At thesame time, the $500 million in disarmament projects managed by the USDepartment of Energy, which do not require the certification, will notbe affected.
The US Department of State notified the Russian Foreign Ministry of itsrefusal to issue the certification a few weeks ago. However, Moscowissued its statement only this week, after corresponding reportsappeared in the American press. The Russian Foreign Ministry expressedits "surprise" at the decision of the United States. One of Washington'sdemands is that Moscow should acknowledge that the Soviet Union produced"fourth generation" chemical weapons agents, which are many times morelethal than the most advanced nerve agents produced in the UnitedStates. Citing a senior official in the US administration, the newspapersaid that this was a signal of the seriousness of the US position oncompliance with chemical and biological weapons conventions. return to menu
2. U.S. Slammed Over Disarmament Cutbacks
April 10, 2002
(for personal use only)
The United States and Russia were at odds yesterday over a U.S. decisionto curtail some disarmament projects because of concerns about Russiancompliance with treaties banning biological and chemical weapons. Moscowexpressed "bewilderment" with Washington's decision, which it called"incomprehensible," and insisted it is observing both pacts. It alsoaccused the United States of undermining the disarmament efforts bothsides have been waging for years.
"Such actions can have the most negative impact on achieving mutualtrust and can be reflected in the two countries' cooperation inliquidating weapons of mass destruction and in the sphere ofnonproliferation," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenkoin a statement.
But U.S. officials brushed aside the harsh words and said the Russians"seem to have received the message" that the Bush administration isserious about complying with the biological and chemical weaponsconventions.
At stake are some military exchanges and U.S. help in preventing thetheft of Russian nuclear warheads. Such programs are part of a $370million effort initiated by Congress in 1991 under the CooperativeThreat Reduction Act. Under current law, the U.S. government has tocertify each year whether Russia is committed to abiding by existingarms control agreements. A State Department official said theadministration had requested that Congress adopt legislation to allow awaiver of the annual certification requirement. The waiver option wouldstill allow the administration to show concern over Moscow's commitmentbut would not block funds for disarmament projects.
Until then, however, "new funds may not be obligated, and we are notsigning any new contracts with private vendors that provide hardware andservices," the official said in an interview.
"Ongoing projects will continue until the contracts expire," and theywill not be renewed until either the waiver comes into force or theadministration is satisfied with Russian compliance, he said.
The administration informed Moscow of its decision several weeks ago,the official said, but it didn't become public until an article about itappeared in the New York Times on Monday.
The decision was prompted by a series of recent actions by Moscow,including its refusal to share a bioengineered strain of anthraxdeveloped by Russia's scientists despite repeated promises to do so, thepaper said. Russia has also declined to provide a complete history ofthe decades of secret work on biological and chemical weapons during theSoviet era.
But in Moscow, Mr. Yakovenko dismissed those accusations and said anyproblems between the former foes should be discussed before makingdecisions with serious consequences. "One gets the impression that theAmerican references to Russia's supposed nonfulfillment of itsinternational obligations are being used basically in order to distractattention from the United States' own actions," he said.
Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, saidit is vital that Russia and other states comply with chemical andbiological weapons agreements, but it is not in the U.S. securityinterests to "stymie efforts to safeguard nuclear stockpiles in Russia." return to menu
3. Nunn-Lugar In Jeopardy
April 10, 2002
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The Bush administration has told Moscow that it is squeezing several newdisarmament projects because of its concerns about Moscow's compliancewith treaties banning many chemical and biological weapons, StateDepartment and Pentagon officials said Wednesday.
Some existing programs may be affected too, the New York Times reportedin an article published April 8.
By American law, the US government must decide annually whether Russiais "committed" to complying with the treaties it has signed with theUnited States.
In a cable sent to Moscow last week, according to U.S. embassy officialshere and State department officials in Washington, the State Departmentsaid the United States had not been able to certify that commitment and,thus, the administration would be unable to start new initiatives orprovide new financing for programs to reduce the threat posed by eachcountry's considerable nuclear, biological and chemical stockpiles,those officials said.
That the cable was, in fact, sent is seen as a victory for Russiadetractors within the Bush administration, the Times reported. But, saidone embassy official, it does not indicate that it will become policy.
"It's a cable, nothing more and does not mean that any of thesedisarmament programs will be cut," he said Wednesday. "It does notsignal new policy."
But if, eventually, its contents become law on Capitol Hill, it couldleave one of the most importnant Russio-American nuclear submarinedecommisioning in dry dock. According to a source that refered not to beidentified in any way, former Senator Sam Nunn, co-author of theNunn-Lugar Act of 1991 has spent most of the past two days in meetingstrying to get the Bush administration to change its tack.
Critics have recommended that the administration inform Russia that ithad not issued the certification and, therefore, that there would be nonew Cooperative Threat Reduction projects. Nor would existing programsbe extended beyond their current level of financing. These same criticshad been pushing for months for a tougher stand toward Russia on weaponsof destruction and its compliance with arms control treaties, eventhough the administration has concluded that the programs benefitAmerican national security, said the Times.
The lack of certification affects a range of disarmament activities -from military exchanges to American help in stopping the theft ofRussian nuclear warheads, Pentagon officials said Wednesday. Suchprojects account for about $370 million in programs carried out underthe Cooperative Threat Reduction Act, an effort started in 1991 onCapitol Hill that has enjoyed strong support from Congress and theClinton administration, and record budget requests from Mr Bush, StateDepartment officials said Wednesday.
The cable, coming a month before President Bush is to meet the Russianpresident, Vladimir Putin, in Moscow, does not accuse Russia ofviolating the bio and chemical weapons treaties. Nor has theadministration ruled out a certification in the future, a US Embassysource said.
But the decision puts Moscow in the hot seat that Washington insists onmore co-operation and transparancy with respect to weapons of massdestruction, local and US anaysts say.
"The last few months Russia has not been co-operating with inspectionteams," said Alexander Pikayev of the Carnegie Endowment forInternational Peace on Wednesday.
"Whether or not they are hiding anything is one question, but the truetragedy of any cuts to CTR would be the submarines awaiting fulldecommissioning in Murmank and Vladivostok," he added. "This wouldsimply fuel an ecological disaster for political posturing."
State Department Officials said in emails and phone interviews that thebulk of the $1.3 billion in projects intended to reduce the threat ofunconventional weapons would not be affected by the lack ofcertification. For example, the $500 million in disarmament projectssupervised by the Department of Energy do not require the certification.
But the approximately $450 million in programs managed by the DefenceDepartment and the $70 million run by the State Department will probablybe affected, officials said.
The threat reduction program has aided countries in the former Sovietbloc destroy nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and associatedinfrastructure, and stop the theft or spread of such weapons.
In exchange for American aid and scientific co-operation, the lawrequires that the administration certify that Russia is "committed" tocomplying with the treaties it has signed banning and restricting suchweapons.
While several similar programs permit the president to waive thecertification requirement if the program is deemed essential to nationalsecurity, the law authorising Cooperative Threat Reduction projectscontains no such waiver.
The Clinton administration issued the certification each year and mostrecently in January 2001. But the Bush administration did not issue thecertification when it was due this January.
In March, Mr. Bush's top aides and cabinet members decided to askCongress to give the administration the authority to waive thecertification requirement. The administration has included the requestfor such authority in the emergency supplemental spending bills for theState Department it sent to Capitol Hill House and Senate aides said ininterviews last week that while it was likely that Congress would grantthe waiver authority, it was unlikely to do so before Mr Bush travels toRussia to meet with Mr. Putin, the Times reported.
Hard-liners in the Bush administration have grown increasingly disturbedby Russian actions with respect to its chemical and biological weaponstreaty commitments. Though the United States has approved plans to helpRussia destroy vast stocks of chemical weapons, officials noted, Moscowhas yet to acknowledge that it made in Soviet times "fourth generation"chemical weapons agents, which are many times more lethal than the mostadvanced nerve agents the United States produced, the Times said.
While Western scientists have been able to visit several former Sovietfacilities where such weapons were made, Russia has not given anyforeigners access to the four biological laboratories that have beencontrolled by the military. Russia maintains that it is not violatingthe biological or chemical warfare conventions, and argues that Americanmilitary labs are not open either.
"Russia's actions, like its declarations about what was done in Soviettimes, the lack of transparency in its ostensibly defensive programs,and its refusal to share the strain, among other things, raise seriousquestions about Russia's willingness to abide by its treatyobligations," one state department official was quoted as saying in theTimes on Tuesday.
Lietenant Stepan Nikorov of the the Defence Ministry press office,however, took a more optimistic view of the situation.
"Well, if we're not destroying weapons, that's all the better for usthen, isn't it?" he asked rhetorically. return to menu
B. Debt For Nonproliferation
1. Closing The Cold War Account: The West Should Reward Russia For ItsStance On Terrorism By Forgiving Its Soviet-Era Debt
April 11, 2002
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One of the last unsettled financial questions of the cold war isRussia's Dollars 42bn of Soviet era debt to official creditors. Sincethe Soviet collapse there have been calls to forgive all or part of it.
A plausible option for Russia's creditors is to do nothing. But in theaftermath of September 11, President Vladimir Putin's closer politicalalignment with the west has boosted the chances of a debt deal, asyesterday's agreement between Russia and Germany over Soviet debts withthe former East Germany illustrate.
Russia's ability to repay its Soviet-era loans has increasedsubstantially since the 1998 financial crisis. But while MikhailKasyanov, Russia's prime minister, reassures markets that Russia canmeet its external obligations - helping the country's credit ratings -Russian experts continue to call for debt forgiveness. Group of Sevengovernments are reviewing the options.
There are three arguments for debt forgiveness. The first is symbolicbut important. It relates to George W. Bush's mantra that the cold waris over, as he reminded the world in defence of scrapping theAnti-Ballistic Missile treaty. The magnitude of this historic transitionsupports relief from the Soviet Union's financial legacy. There areprecedents for large-scale moral or political debt forgiveness. Forexample, Poland and Egypt received such relief in the early 1990s, asdid Yugoslavia last year.
The second, related argument is strategic. Russia has emerged as apartner in the war on terror. There are few things the west can do ineconomic terms to respond to Mr Putin's apparent "paradigm shift"towards the transatlantic community. One is to support early accessionto the World Trade Organisation; another is to provide debt relief.
The third argument is economic. Although Russia may not qualify forrelief based on orthodox financial criteria, its fiscal outlook andinvestment climate would certainly be enhanced by well structured debtrelief. The same is true of a number of other so-called "middle income"countries such as Nigeria, Indonesia and Jordan, all of which have beencandidates for new thinking on debt relief.
These reasons make a strong case for considering comprehensive treatmentof Russia's Soviet era debt. But several counterpoints must also beweighed.
The most obvious is that creditor-club orthodoxy does not supportforgiveness. If a country can pay, it should. But the G7 is looking formore creative financial tools to advance core policy objectives. Hencethe Highly Indebted Poor Countries Initiative of recent years and thenew foreign aid pledges at Monterrey last month. Financial orthodoxy isimportant, but it is a bad reason to miss big foreign policyopportunities. One option is to provide relief outside the Paris Club.
A more subtle objection is that after the Soviet break-up, Russia gotthe benefit of the so-called "zero option", endorsed by theinternational community. Under it, Moscow assumed both the externalliabilities and the assets of the Soviet Union. Would debt forgivenessnow amount to promising one thing and doing another? Not really. First,after joining the Paris Club as creditor in 1997, Russia wrote down muchof the debt owed by Soviet client states. Second, the west used the zerooption to give the non-Russian successor states a full Soviet-era debtwrite-off. That deal should not preclude a new deal for Russia.
The balance of factors favours a debt deal. But has Mr Putin reallyembraced the west? The best tack is to manage this risk by phasing thedebt write-off over several years, as in the Polish, Egyptian andYugoslav cases, and to explore fresh mechanisms such as debt-for-equityand debt-for-policy swaps. Key US legislators have already signalledinterest in authorising debt forgiveness conditional on Russian fundingfor "threat reduction" programmes such as containment of nuclear weaponsmaterial.
Russia's western creditors are not all united. Germany, by far thelargest creditor, with 48 per cent of the Soviet debt, is torn. Berlin'straditional national interests favour generosity, but Gerhardt Schroder,German chancellor, faces tough elections in September, and there islittle appetite for more spending. But Soviet-era debt is heavilydiscounted on most G7 budget books, so a write-off would cost a fractionof par value.
The US, with only a 6 per cent stake, must lead the way politically. Theother G7 countries are likely to support a united US-German approach,which may include a menu of debt relief options spread over years, withreasonable burden-sharing among creditors.
As Mr Bush and his advisers prepare for the St Petersburg summit in May,debt is likely to be high on the agenda. Peter the Great's famous"window on the west" would be an appropriate setting for the twopresidents to close another chapter of the cold war.
The writer is a principal of AG Global Solutions in Washington. He was aUS Treasury and National Security Council official under President BillClinton. return to menu
1. Russia And U.S. Near Agreement On Warheads
Todd S. Purdum
New York Times
April 12, 2002
(for personal use only)
After a day and a half of meetings here, Secretary of State Colin L.Powell and Foreign Minister Igor S. Ivanov of Russia said today thatthey had made progress toward negotiating an agreement on reductions innuclear warheads that could be signed by President Bush and the Russianpresident, Vladimir V. Putin, at a summit meeting in Russia next month.
But they did not offer concrete details of the advances. While theyechoed optimism that Russian and American negotiators have expressed formany weeks, both men said that important details remained to be workedout, including precisely what form the agreement would take and how itwould handle the disposal of warheads.
American negotiators have proposed that excess warheads could bewarehoused, while the Russians have said they want them destroyed.
"It is a very difficult, complex document that requires comprehensiveanalysis of all aspects," Mr. Ivanov said at a news conference here. Herepeatedly referred to the document as a "treaty," but some officials inthe Bush administration have said they would prefer some kind of lessformal document. Asked about his use of that word today, Mr. Ivanovrepeated that both sides had agreed that any document would be "legallybinding," a commitment Secretary Powell had earlier made.
"We have an understanding between the parties that this would have to bea legally binding document," Mr. Ivanov said. "The Russian side standsfor making the reductions real and not virtual, so that we have a realunderstanding on both sides which levels of nuclear warheads anddelivery means each of us possess."
Secretary Powell has said in the past that the document could be anexecutive agreement that requires approval by a majority of both housesof Congress, or a treaty that requires two-thirds ratification by theSenate.
Senator Joseph R. Biden, Democrat of Delaware and the chairman of theForeign Relations Committee, and Senator Jesse Helms, Republican ofNorth Carolina and the committee's ranking member, have writtenPresident Bush asking that any agreement be a formal treaty.
A senior American official said that President Bush had concluded that"what really mattered was the number of operational warheads." Mr. Bushand Mr. Putin have each pledged to reduce nuclear arsenals by abouttwo-thirds over the next decade, to between 1,700 and 2,200 warheads.
It is still not clear precisely what verification procedures would beused to confirm compliance. The senior American official said that somewere already in place and noted that, in contrast to the days ofSoviet-American mistrust, "the idea is that there should be a lot ofopenness in any agreement."
The official said a "slightly updated version" of draft language hadbeen exchanged. But American officials said that Secretary Powell andMr. Ivanov had spent so much time discussing the Middle East and otherissues that they had not delved as deeply into arms control asoriginally envisioned.
Expert negotiators for both sides are to meet in Moscow again next week,and Mr. Ivanov is due in Washington for further negotiations in earlyMay. return to menu
1. Russia Considers Second Bushehr Reactor
United Press International
April 11, 2002
(for personal use only)
The good news from the Moscow visit of Iranian Foreign Minister KamalKharazi is that Russia has decided not to sell Iran three more nuclearreactors. The bad news is that Russia's Atomstroieksport group hasopened negotiations to sell a second, to be built alongside thecontroversial Bushehr reactor that Russian technicians are supposed tocomplete early in 2005. Russian sources say that President VladimirPutin personally vetoed to the Iranian request for the three extrareactors. On the shore of the Persian Gulf, near the port of BandarAbbas, Bushehr is to be protected by a dense network of anti-aircraftand anti-cruise missile defenses for fear of Israeli pre-emptivestrikes, similar to the 1981 attacks that destroyed the Iraqi reactor atOsirak.
A recent meeting between Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi andRussian President Vladimir Putin reinforced growing Russian-Iranianeconomic cooperation. The meeting, coming just months after US PresidentGeorge W. Bush included Iran in an international "axis of evil" withnuclear potential, reaffirmed Putin's intentions to sell Iran aRussian-built nuclear reactor that has nettled US-Russian relations.
Earlier this year, relations between Moscow and Tehran appeared tenuous.Many observers viewed the postponement of Kharrazi's visit, originallyslated for mid-February, as a sign of friction between the countries.[For more information, see the EurasiaNet Business and Economicsarchive]. Some speculated that Putin had privately declined to receivethe Iranian foreign minister. This stalled progress that Putin had begunin March 2001, when he and Iranian President Mohammed Khatami signed thecountries' first cooperation treaty since Iran's 1979 Islamicrevolution. On April 5, 2002, as the treaty took effect, Putin buriedthe February impasse by promising to receive Kharrazi in the Kremlin andtelling the RIA-Novosti news agency that Russia affirms "traditionalties" with Iran.
These ties can produce economic as well as strategic payoffs. Iranreportedly has shown interest in buying spare parts for theirRussian-made arms and systems, such as MiG-29 and Su-24 bombers. Iranalso seems curious about Russian-made anti-ship missiles and air defensesystems, such as the S-300 surface-to-air missile system. Some haveargued that Iran could become Russia's third-largest arms importer,after China and India, representing $250 million to $400 million inannual inflows. (Russia sold about $4 billion worth of arms in 2000,according to Congressional testimony by Celeste Wallander of the Centerfor Strategic and International Studies.)
Russia seems more willing to openly sell Iran nuclear technology than itdid during Boris Yeltsin's presidency. A secret memorandum signed in1995 by then-US Vice President Al Gore and then-Prime Minister ViktorChernomyrdin obliged Russia to stop deliveries of weaponry systems underexisting agreements by Dec. 31, 2001, and to refrain from signing newarms deals. Prior to the signing of this memorandum, Russia haddelivered three Project 877 diesel submarines and eight MiG-29 fightersto Iran and sold a T-72 tank production license as part of a series ofdeals dating back to Soviet times. Yet the Kremlin warned Washington inNovember 2000 that it was abandoning its agreement.
Since then, Moscow has defined its economic relationship with Tehrannarrowly. Russia is unlikely to agree to sell Iran long-range missiles,which could be used to block oil shipments across the Persian Gulf.Three years ago, the United States threatened to bar Russian rocketsfrom launching American satellites to punish Russia for alleged exportsof missile and nuclear know-how to Iran. In 1998, Azerbaijan stopped a22-ton shipment of Russian nuclear ballistic missile parts allegedlybound for Iran. Subsequently, the United States imposed sanctions onseven Russian research and manufacturing companies for alleged sales ofsensitive missile technology to Iran. The Kremlin has repeatedly arguedthat it honors international agreements banning the proliferation ofnuclear and missile technologies.
In recent months, Bush and his advisors have grown more alarmed aboutIranian nuclear potential. In prepared testimony to Congress on March19, Central Intelligence Agency director George Tenet citedRussian-Iranian arms deals as a threat to American security. "Russiacontinues to supply significant assistance on nearly all aspects ofTehran's nuclear program. It is also providing Iran assistance onlong-range ballistic missile programs," Tenet's testimony said.
Russian and Iranian officials have emphatically dismissed allegations ofproliferation. During his visit to Moscow, Kharrazi declared areas ofbilateral cooperation, including military ties and commercial nuclearpower, to be transparent. Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov alsodismissed rumors that Moscow had leaked missile technology informationto Tehran.
Still, Russia remains committed to helping build a 1,000-megawattlight-water nuclear reactor in Bushehr, on Iran's Persian Gulf coast.Moscow has brushed off repeated US entreaties to cancel the $800 millionproject. Moscow and Tehran argue that the plant can be used only forcivilian purposes and will remain under international control. TheUnited States, on the other hand, worries that it could serve militaryaims.
Moscow has a contract to build one reactor for Bushehr by December 2003and may get to build three more. On April 5, Kharrazi indicated thatTehran might order a fourth reactor; later in the same press conference,Ivanov described "axis of evil" rhetoric as a "Cold War relic."
In the issues that dominate the region today - division of the CaspianSea and military spheres in Central Asia - Russia and Iran seem fairlycongruent. In talks with Russian officials, Kharrazi called thecontested Caspian a sea of "friendship and peace," according to RIA.
Speaking to reporters on April 4, Kharrazi declared that foreign troopsin the region "always" lead to destabilization, and that American troopswould be no different. Putin did not voice agreement, but he did praiseIran during Kharrazi's trip for playing a "very important role" inholding the region together. With divisions between Uzbekistan andRussia deepening - and instability growing throughout the region - Putinmay be warming to Iran to deepen his own political clout in the region.Russia limited its presence at the World Economic Forum's EurasiaEconomic Summit 2002 in Almaty, Kazakhstan, on April 8-9, sending onlyDeputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko.
Editor's Note: Sergei Blagov is a Moscow-based specialist in CISpolitical affairs. return to menu
1. Russian Nuclear Subs High On India's Shopping List
April 12, 2002
(for personal use only)
Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes arrived in Moscow on Wednesdayto negotiate the acquisition of the Admiral Gorshkov, a 44,500-tonneSoviet aircraft carrier and the "associated" lease of twonuclear-powered submarines.
India wants the nuclear submarines to go into service by 2004 to bolsterits nuclear deterrence that it says is based on land, sea and air-basedassets and also expand its navy's growing operational responsibilities,especially to counter Chinese expansion in the Indian Ocean region. TheIndian Navy recently agreed to patrol the Malacca Straits along with theUS Navy, a region over which the Chinese navy exercises considerablecontrol. The United States wants to police the Straits through whichmore than 80 percent of Japan's oil supplies from the Middle East passand to establish its presence in the region over the long term.
A Ministry of Defense spokesman said Fernandes' five-day Moscow trip isa continuation of the Inter-Governmental Commission on MilitaryTechnology, which met here in February but failed to reach an agreementon the carrier and the two nuclear-powered submarines despite protractedtalks. Consequently, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov, whoheaded his country's delegation at the Delhi meet and was the maininterlocutor for the sale of defense equipment to India, was "divested"of his military responsibilities upon returning to Moscow. Indianofficials said Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov would head theInter-Governmental Commission on Military Technology meeting at Moscow.
Official sources said Russia had predicated leasing the two nuclearsubmarines to the Indian Navy buying the Admiral Gorshkov, which isbeing offered for the price of its refit at about US$750 million. Indiais unwilling to pay this amount for the carrier, which was seriouslycrippled by a fire and has been lying unused for more than a decade.Russia is also insistent that India buy about 40 MiG-29K fighters forthe carrier's air group for about $1.3 billion.
"Serious differences over the Gorshkov's refit costs and its air groupled to a breakdown of talks between Fernandes and Klebanov in February,"a military officer said. While the matter remains undecided, India isunlikely to get the nuclear submarines it is anxious to operate, addedthe officer, who declined to be identified.
Three Indian naval teams have visited Russia since 1995 to examine thefeasibility of acquiring the Gorshkov and have recommended that thecarrier is capable of remaining in operational service for 20 yearsafter its refit. Though India finds the price for the refitunacceptable, the final investment decision will be made after therecommendation of a newly constituted defense committee, ministryofficials said.
India is expected to pay for the construction of the two nuclearsubmarines it wants under an agreement that is in an advanced stage ofdiscussion with Rosoboronexport, Russia's state-owned arms-exportingagency. Negotiations for the two nuclear subs received a boost afterIndian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's visit to Russia in Novemberand the admission by Indian naval officials that local development ofthe nuclear submarines, known as the Advanced Technology Vessel, had runinto serious technological and financial problems.
This vessel's design is based on a Charlie I-class cruise-missilenuclear submarine, one of which India leased for three years in 1988.Thereafter, India planned on acquiring about four or six nuclearsubmarines, but the disintegration of the Soviet Union put an end to itsplans.
Fernandes will also discuss the long-standing proposal to provideDelhisix S 300 PMU 1 anti tactical ballistic missile (ATBM) systems for$1 billion. India has been negotiating for the ATBM system for nearlyfive years and plans on merging the locally developed Akash low-tomedium-altitude surface-to-air missile and the indigenous Rajendra radarwith the S300 PMU 1, to reduce its price.
"The integrated air-defense proposal will certainly be on the tableduring Fernandes' visit," said Vladimir Simonov, head of the Russiangovernment agency for defense control systems. Russia also plans toestablish several joint ventures with Indian companies to produceelectronic devices and radars, both for civil and military applications,Simonov added.
Also to be discussed is the first Indo-Russian joint-venture companyBrahMos (an acronym for Brahmaputra-Moscow), which will begin seriesproduction of an anti-ship cruise missile successfully test-fired lastyear to a range of 280 kilometers.
Official sources said Fernandes is also expected to ask Moscow toexpedite the delivery of 310 T90S main battle tanks that India boughtlast year for more than $700 million. The first batch of about 40 tankshas already arrived and is undergoing pre-induction trials.
The sale of three Kilo-class submarines, three Amur-classdiesel-electric submarines and transfer of technology to build sixadditional submarines too will feature in the defense ministers' talks.
Meanwhile, the symbolic "cement pouring" ceremony to begin constructionof two 1,000 megawatt nuclear power reactors that Russia is building ata cost of Rs140 billion ($2.9 billion) at Kudankulam in southern TamilNadu state was held this month. The plants' enriched uranium will besupplied by Moscow, while India will reprocess the spent fuel andsafeguard it. return to menu
1. Russia Aims To Build Vietnam Nuclear Power Plant
April 11, 2002
(for personal use only)
Russia has offered to build Vietnam's first atomic power plant, a seniorRussian executive said on Thursday, in a long-term project which couldtake about a decade to materialise.
The executive from Atomstroyexport, an affiliate of Russia's Ministry ofAtomic Energy, told Reuters Russian nuclear experts gave presentationsto Vietnamese officials, including some from state utility Electricityof Vietnam (EVN), on Thursday.
The executive, who did not want to be identified, said the Vietnameseaudience included officials from the Planning and Investment Ministryand EVN's Energy Institute, which is in charge of planning Vietnam'sfirst nuclear plant.
"We are interested in building such a plant in Vietnam and Russia isready to do it," the executive said at a business meeting on thesidelines of an international trade fair in Hanoi.
Earlier this month, Vietnam's official media said energy authoritiesplanned to complete a pre feasibility study for a 2,000-megawatt atomicpower plant, that would cost about $4 billion, by late next year. Localmedia did not say how Hanoi would fund the project.
Vietnam and Russia signed an agreement on cooperation in nuclear powerlast month during a visit by Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov,but industry sources have said Japan and South Korea are also interestedin building the plant.
The Russian executive said Russia was not concerned about competitiongiven its experience in the field. He said it was currently buildingplants in Iran, China and India.
Last month official media said Vietnam aimed to start operating itsfirst atomic power plant in 2017 or 2019 to meet rising energy demand,even though the country has plenty of natural gas and coal, and suitableconditions for hydropower.
Four possible locations, all in southern Vietnam, have been selected.Two are in Ninh Thuan province, one in Binh Thuan and another in PhuYen.
Vietnam's official media last week quoted Nguyen Manh Hien, head ofEVN's energy institute, as saying it would take at least eight years tobuild an atomic plant and around 15 years to train personnel to run it. return to menu
G. Nuclear Terrorism
1. Al Qaeda Sought Nuclear Scientists
April 11, 2002
(for personal use only)
Two Afghan nuclear scientists, in the strongest indication yet that alQaeda was trying to construct a nuclear bomb, have revealed how theterrorist group attempted to recruit them. The scientists disclosed howthey had risked their lives by hiding radioactive materials, sufficientto make dozens of "dirty bombs," in the ruins of the old Aliabad mentalhospital in Kabul and in the grimy basement of Kabul University'snuclear physics department.
Last week, a team of specially trained British soldiers equipped withstate-of-the-art instruments were led to the caches by the two nuclearphysicists. What they found astounded them.
There was a broken radiotherapy machine, containing enough cobalt 60 tokill a man instantly, in the lead-lined cancer treatment room of thehospital. In the basement of Kabul University, there were containers ofsolid and liquid radioactive material, some broken or with the lids off;chemical warfare agents; and instruments emitting radiation.
"We've been finding stuff that's far more potent and dangerous than even'dirty bombs,' which are made of nuclear waste," said Capt. JamesCameron, who heads an eight-member team from the Joint Nuclear,Biological and Chemical Regiment, based in Bury Saint Edmunds, England,which also monitors the activities of Iraq's Saddam Hussein from Kuwait.The team is in Kabul to protect the international peacekeeping force.
Capt. Cameron said much of the material was left over from the Soviets,"who used far higher doses of radiation than we would." Some of thecontainers were damaged by the Afghan mujahideen in the early 1990s, hesaid "But al Qaeda and the Taliban never knew about it. The atomicscientists tore up their papers and never said a word," Capt. Cameronsaid.
Last week, the two Afghan scientists, Mohammed Jan Naziri, a professorof applied nuclear physics, and Jora Mohammed Korbani, a nuclear physicsprofessor, revealed how they had concealed their knowledge from theTaliban. They said that in 1996, when the Taliban militia first enteredKabul, they and some other colleagues on the faculty had gathered allthe radioactive sources and instruments they could find from theuniversity's laboratories and stored them in the nuclear sciencefaculty's basement. Because they had no radiometers and no protectiveclothing, the scientists moved the items as carefully as they could,storing them between sheets of lead. They then tore up their researchdocuments and papers on atomic physics.
"We didn't really know how radioactive some of the sources were," Mr.Naziri said. "We just tried to protect them." Initially, the Talibancame to the university and simply registered the names of all theprofessors in the nuclear physics department. "They didn't understandanything about physics or what we were doing, but we knew they werelooking for physics and chemistry experts," Mr. Korbani said. Then, oneday a man from Kandahar, the Taliban's heartland and Osama bin Laden'smain base, came to talk to the scientists at the faculty. Mr. Nazirisaid he refused to talk to the man, whom he described as "an Arab whospoke Pashtu and Farsi poorly." He said he asked the man for officialletters of request from the Foreign Ministry or the university and toldhim he couldn't do anything without the Atomic Energy Authority'spermission. "We never saw him again," Mr. Naziri said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Korbani, who lost his job a year after the Taliban tookKabul, was approached by a mysterious aid agency called the "ChandGroupi," or "Multi Group," which operated out of a house in Kabul'sWazir Akbar Khan district, where bin Laden kept several safe houses andwhere many Arab al Qaeda fighters lived. The agency operated separatelybut was linked to the Ummah Tameer-e-Nau charity, run by the renegadePakistani nuclear scientist Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmoud, who the CIA hascalled "bin Laden's nuclear secretary." Mr. Mahmoud is currently underhouse arrest in Pakistan.
Although evidence found by the Sunday Telegraph last November - and morerecently, the joint team headed by Capt. Cameron - in Mr. Mahmoud'shouse revealed that he was engaged in an experiment to float a heliumballoon filled with anthrax over the United States, the Multi Group wasclearly attempting to construct a nuclear bomb. "They said to me, 'Weknow you're working for the faculty of nuclear science, and we needyou,'" Mr. Korbani said. "They offered me a lot of money and said thatthey wanted me to find 100 other nuclear scientists and technicians andcome to Karachi."
Mr. Korbani was then asked to write a paper on atomic energy. "They toldme, 'Pakistan has a very powerful atomic bomb, and we are very keen onbringing such a power to Afghanistan,'" he said. The men told him thatpeople in Pakistan's tribal areas would pay for the program. "They keptcalling me, but I never returned [the calls]. I knew it was toodangerous."
Capt. Cameron said there was little doubt that al Qaeda and the Talibanwere attempting to make chemical weapons. If not for the KabulUniversity scientists, al Qaeda might have successfully constructedseveral "dirty bombs," he said.
Unlike a conventional nuclear bomb, in which atoms are split to producea massive explosion, a dirty bomb is simply a conventional bomb wrappedin radioactive material. A dirty bomb is much easier to produce becauseit requires only a conventional explosive plus some radioactive waste,such as spent fuel from a nuclear power plant or radioactive materialused in medicine.
"The Taliban would have given their eyeteeth for the stuff these menwere hiding, and if they'd found it, I hate to think what they'd havedone," Capt. Cameron said. return to menu
H. Russian Nuclear Power Industry
1. Russia To Loan 45m Dollars To Ukraine For Nuclear Power Plants
BBC Monitoring Service
April 10, 2002
(for personal use only)
Russia will loan 45m dollars to Ukraine this year to let it finalize theconstruction of the Rivne and Khmelnytskyy nuclear power plants, RussianPrime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said after talks with his Ukrainiancounterpart Anatoliy Kinakh on Wednesday [10 April].
The loan will be used to finance last equipment supplies and the finalphase of building work, Kasyanov said. return to menu
2. Incident Happens On Volgodonsk Nuclear Power Station
April 10, 2002
(for personal use only)
As a result of some technical defect a reactor facility of theVolgodonsk nuclear power station was shutdown. The reactor No 1 wasscrammed by its protective system at 5:07 today. The reason for this wasa false closure of a shut-off valve on a steam drum of steam generatorNo 4. All technological systems and the personnel of the station areworking normally. Radiation level at the station and within a 30 km zonehas not changed and it is normal. The power-generating unit is expectedto restart on April 11. return to menu
I. Nuclear Forces
1. US Revives Cold War Nuclear Strategy
April 12, 2002
(for personal use only)
The Bush administration is contemplating the use of nuclear warheads onthe intercepters it hopes will protect the US from attack as part of itsplanned missile defence system.
William Schneider, the Pentagon's top scientific adviser, told theWashington Post that he had been encouraged by the defence secretary,Donald Rumsfeld, to re-examine the feasibility of nuclear-tippedintercepters, nearly 30 years after the idea was abandoned astechnically and politically unacceptable.
It is the latest in a series of signs that the Bush team is radicallyrethinking the role of nuclear weapons in its arsenal, in a way that itscritics believe will blur the distinction between conventional andnuclear warfare.
Late last year the Pentagon produced a nuclear posture review whichcalled for research into low-yield "mini-nuke" bombs for use as tacticalweapons to penetrate enemy underground bunkers.
Mr Schneider said that Mr Rumsfeld had asked the board to think "outsidethe box" on missile defence. "We've talked about it as something thathe's interested in looking at," he said.
The system being tested relies on "hit-to-kill" technology by whichintercepters destroy incoming missiles by force of impact rather than bydetonation.
This approach presents enormous technical problems in programming theintercepter to ignore decoy war heads and hit the live missile.
A nuclear explosion in space would destroy everything in the vicinity,including chemical and biological warheads, Mr Schneider pointed out.
Apart from the risk of accidents, electromagnetic shock waves andionized clouds, a nuclear blast in space could also disablecommunications satellites and knock out ground-based electronics.
These potential problems caused research into nuclear intercepters inthe mid-1970s to be shelved.
"It seems to be a sign of desperation that they cannot solve the problemof the hit-to-kill programme of distinguishing targets from decoys,"Henry Kelly, president of the Federation of American Scientists, said.
"It was rejected three decades ago for very good reason: a one megatonexplosion would knock out a great number of satellites, and that isobviously much more of a problem now than it was then."
Mr Bush decided in December to withdraw from the 1972 anti ballisticmissile (ABM) Treaty, which presented an obstacle to research and testsof the embryonic missile defence system. He also accelerated thetimetable for missile defence deployment, making 2004 the deadline forthe deployment of a basic system.
The US conducted its latest test of the "hit-to-kill" intercepter lastmonth over the Pacific, scoring a direct hit on a dummy incomingmissile. The Pentagon hailed the test as a success, pointing out that itwas the fourth hit in six tries. return to menu
2. Russia Moves To Upgrade Missile Defence System This Year
April 11, 2002
(for personal use only)
Russia has begun work to rebuild and upgrade its missile defence system.Work is to be complete by autumn 2002. Interviewed by the Russiannewspaper Izvestia, the general director of the Russian Agency forControl Systems, Vladimir Simonov, said there was a concern that thecountry's experience of missile defence might go to waste just as theUSA was putting its own missile defence plans into effect. It was,therefore, necessary to press on with existing projects as well as toensure that specialist firms remained solvent. Simonov noted that ifRussia had more funds, the missile defence programme might well be apriority. Even the current level of funding, however, was sufficient toensure the nation's defence, he said. The following is an excerpt fromthe report which was published on 9 April; subheadings have beeninserted editorially:
Without waiting for the 1972 ABM Treaty to officially expire (as it doeson 13 June), Russia has begun rebuilding its own antimissile defencesystem. According to Defence Ministry plans, by next autumn an equipmentupgrade will have been completed at the A-135 System facility - Moscow'santimissile defences - as will assembly work at the state-of-the-artVolga radar station near the Belarusian city of Baranavichi. All thisstems from the implementation of the Putin approved programme to arm thearmy up to 2010, which is, inter alia, a response to the United States'new nuclear missile plans.
Russia moves to ensure minimum research and development into antimissiledefence
Vladimir Simonov, general director of the Russian Agency for ControlSystems (RASU), told Izvestiya that at one of the most recent meetingswith Vladimir Putin the question was raised of a Russian antimissilesystem able to counter the new threats. According to the RASU generaldirector, the discussion did not go beyond the realm of theory: Againstwhom are we going to defend ourselves? Is there any need to do so atall? Why are we presently defending Moscow as opposed to some facilityin the country that is of greater strategic significance?
The country's leadership has not raised the question of a concertedstart to work on a national missile defence programme. Nevertheless,according to the RASU general director, there is concern within thegovernment that the scientific and technical potential built up overmore than 40 years in the field of devising antimissile defence systemsis simply going to waste. As a result, a decision was adopted to restorea minimum level of research and development for antimissile defence.
Work to produce preliminary plans for a Soviet antimissile defencesystem, code-named the A-35 System, began in 1958. But it was only in1994, following a series of improvements and upgrades, that the secondversion of the Russian antimissile defence system, the A-135 system, wascommissioned. At its heart lay the multifunctional Don radar station anda computer control centre, housed in a single building shaped like atruncated r-sided pyramid located near the city of Sofrino. Launch silosfor A-350 long-range antimissile missiles were installed at sixlocations along the Moscow outer ring road.
Focus on getting antimissile defence enterprises "back on their feet"
Actually, the new US nuclear doctrine mentions the necessity to havedefences that are "capable of ensuring active defence against targetslocated within close and medium range". The military think these wordsmask Washington's desire to deploy nuclear weapons in space or rightnext to the borders of potentially dangerous states, among which Russiamight be placed following the slightest cooling in relations with theUnited States.
"The main task today," Simonov says, "is to get the stagnatingenterprises and scientific research institutes involved in antimissiledefence back on their feet." They must be rescued from bankruptcy. Thiswill have to be achieved through collaboration between the Moscow citygovernment (the main enterprises and institutes - the ideologists of theantimissile defence system - are located in Moscow) and the commercialstructures which have acquired their debts. Aside from this, anagreement has been reached by a further two institutes - the Vympelinterstate joint-stock corporation and Sistema Radio Electronics andInformation Systems - to establish a new scientific research associationbased on them, which will develop long-range radar systems, includingover-the-horizon radar.
Ongoing missile defence projects outlined
Alongside these large-scale and long-term projects, the space componentof the missile attack early warning system (SPRN) will be increased. Notfor nothing did Defence Minister Sergey Ivanov say the other day that"space has been identified as a priority" of military organizationaldevelopment.
The Serpukhovo-15 spacecraft control station, that burnt down last year,has already been fully restored and even modernized and, what's more, inrecord time. As a result, control has been re-established over threeSPRN satellites. It is expected that in the near future another craftwill be put into orbit. According to Simonov, this will complete thesystem for monitoring missile launches. The third area for developmentselected was the complete modernization of interceptor missiles. Thiswork is currently being carried out by the Novator design bureau, whichis located in Yekaterinburg.
Some success has also been achieved with regard to improvingnonstrategic antimissile defence in Russia. Aleksandr Lemanskiy, chiefdesigner at the Almaz Science and Production Association, told Izvestiyathat state tests had already been completed on the new generation S-400Triumf surface-to-air missile system. In the near future, troops willreceive the first deliveries of this equipment. General Director of theAntey concern Yuriy Svirin added that they have a programme to modernizethe Antey-2500 system, thanks to which the forces will receive a newweapons system capable of intercepting ballistic missiles.
Current funding sufficient to maintain national defence capacity
"Mark my words," Simonov says, "if the country had more money, this workwould possibly become a top priority of the arms programme. You see, aswith the United States, expenditure on a national missile defenceprogramme means investment in high-tech sectors of the economy and thedevelopment of areas of science which will determine the country'sfuture. But in the immediate future we must develop electronic control,surveillance and target-designation systems, develop communications andperfect what we already have. If we take this precise line, even thefunds allotted for the state defence order will be sufficient tomaintain the country's defence capacity."... return to menu
J. Nuclear Waste
1. Russians Seek Referendum On Shipments Of Spent N-Waste
April 10, 2002
(for personal use only)
Fighting to reverse the government's decision to accept spent nuclearwaste for reprocessing, Russian environmentalists said Tuesday that theywould take their demand for a referendum on the issue to court.
Last summer, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law a plan toallow the import of spent nuclear fuel for storage and reprocessing.Proponents of the plan have argued Russia could earn $20 billion overthe next decade and use part of the money to clean up existing nuclearpollution. But environmentalists fear the program would turn the countryinto a nuclear dump.
Environmental groups said they had collected 2.5 million signatures insupport of a nationwide referendum, but the Central Election Commissionrejected the initiative, saying some of the signatures had beenfalsified.
The Greenpeace environmental organization has brought a case on theRussian government's refusal to hold a referendum to the European Courtof Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, and expects a decision in about ayear, said Ivan Blokov, a Greenpeace activist in Moscow.
Meanwhile, an election commission in Siberia's Krasnoyarsk region, wherethe waste reprocessing facility is located, has rejected a local attemptto initiate a referendum on the plan. Alexei Yablokov, president of theCenter for Ecological Policy, told a news conference Tuesday thatenvironmentalists would also file suit over that decision.
Yablokov said the government had rushed to occupy a niche in the marketfor reprocessed plutonium and uranium, but that the prices were farlower than reprocessing advocates had predicted. Instead of earning $20billion, he said, "It will maybe be $2 billion - and with that we cannotdo anything." "There is no market that has to be won," he added.
James Werner, a former U.S. Energy Department official who now heads thenon-governmental Reprocessing Policy Project, said reprocessing made nosense from an economic, environmental or national security point ofview. A glut on the market has prompted some countries to startdestroying plutonium, while reprocessing yields a small amount ofplutonium and a great volume of highly radioactive waste, he said.
"The economic and environmental reasons are always there, but now thereare security concerns, because we're extracting materials that can beused in nuclear weapons," he said. return to menu
1. Alexander Yakovenko, The Official Spokesman Of Russia's Ministry OfForeign Affairs, Answers A Question From The Associated Press MoscowOffice Regarding A US Administration Decision On The Nunn-Lugar Program
Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
April 9, 2002
Question: Please comment on the decision of the US administration toreview its position on the Nunn-Lugar program.
Answer: The US administration has decided to freeze its request toCongress for the allocation of funding for the Cooperative ThreatReduction Program (known as the Nunn-Lugar Program), aimed at helpingRussia with the destruction of the weapons of mass destruction to beeliminated in accordance with bilateral and multilateral agreements. Itcites as a ground for the decision, certain anxieties about theobservance by Russia of the conventions banning chemical and biologicalweapons (CWC and BWC).
This move by Washington has seriously perplexed us. First, Russia hasbeen undeviatingly abiding by the provisions of these documents.Secondly, if questions arise regarding their observance, they should besolved through the existing mechanisms of bilateral and multilateralconsultations.
As is known, with respect to chemical weapons we are holdingconsultations with the American side on issues which lie outside thebounds of the Chemical Weapons Convention.
Even more surprising are the references to the Biological WeaponsConvention. It is not understandable how this fits in with the JointStatement on Cooperation against Bioterrorism, adopted on November 13,2001, in Washington by the Russian and US presidents, which reaffirmstheir commitment to the BTWC and underscores their striving to expandconsultations in this field.
One gathers the impression that the American references to Russia'salleged noncompliance with its international obligations have mainlybeen used in order to distract attention from the actions of the USitself, which has refused to support a Verification Protocol to the BTWCand is disorganizing the activities of the Organization for theProhibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
Of particular concern is the fact that the American side has taken thisdecision without exchanging opinions with us and identifying theconcrete facts which raise its questions. Such actions may have a mostadverse effect on achieving mutual trust, and tell on the cooperation ofthe two countries in the work of eliminating the weapons of massdestruction and in the field of nonproliferation. return to menu
L. Links of Interest
1. United States Senate Committee On Armed Services, Subcommittee OnEmerging Threats And Capabilities Meeting
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