Despite more revenue, net income for USEC Inc. dropped by nearly $62million over the past nine months, but the firm expects gradualimprovements because of cheaper enriched uranium from Russia.
USEC, which operates the 1,500-employee Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant,reported $4.3 million, or 5 cents a share, in net income during thethird quarter, ending March 31. That compares with $45.4 million duringthe same period last year.
Net income during the past nine months was $9.1 million, or 11 cents pershare, compared with $70.9 million, or 88 cents per share, during thesame period a year ago.
Third-quarter revenue rose 3 percent from $243.1 million to $249.4million, and nine-month revenue increased 30 percent from $857 millionto $1.11 billion. USEC said the rise was related mainly to timing andmovement of orders for uranium enriched for use in nuclear fuel, and waspartly offset by a 2 percent decline in average prices billed tocustomers.
Although sales rose, profits dropped because of high average inventorycosts and lower-than planned purchases of enriched uranium derived fromdismantled Russian nuclear warheads, USEC said.
Sale costs rose by $292 million during the comparative nine-monthperiods because of more enriched uranium sold, less Russian uraniumpurchased and higher production costs. USEC's cost of producing units ofenriched uranium rose because it closed Paducah's sister plant nearPortsmouth, Ohio, in June and merged the work with Paducah.
In February, the company reached a new agreement to lower Russianuranium prices through 2013, but the deal has still not been approved byAmerican and Russian governments. USEC has repeatedly said lower Russianuranium costs help preserve the Paducah plant, where production expensesare higher.
As a result of the new pact, "USEC has put into place the most criticalbuilding block for a stronger financial future and the transition overthe next decade to a new, more efficient technology," said WilliamTimbers, president and chief executive officer.
USEC expects to phase out power-intensive gaseous diffusion over thenext decade and replace it with more efficient gas centrifugetechnology. Paducah, which is competing with Portsmouth for the newprocess, is expected to offer an aggressive state-local incentivepackage later this year.
USEC expects to earn $9 million to $12 million this fiscal year. Thoseresults, lower than initially forecast, are attributable to delays inimplementing the cheaper Russian contract and the costs of winning atrade case barring governmentally subsidized foreign competitors fromundercutting USEC's prices in the United States.
Because USEC has agreed to keep paying higher prices for Russian uraniumthrough this year, better results from cheaper prices will not be seenuntil early next year, the company said. return to menu
B. Nuclear Terrorism
1. Former U.S. Defense Chief Warns Aging Weapons 'Prime Source' For Terrorists
States News Service
April 26, 2002
(for personal use only)
Warning that Russia's aging Cold War arsenals could be a prime sourcefor international terrorists looking to stock up on weapons of massdestruction, former Defense Secretary William Cohen told a Senate panelthat the "clock is ticking. it is one minute before midnight."
Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the onetimeMaine Republican senator urged Congress to ramp up funding for programsthat help Russia to guard and destroy its nuclear, biological andchemical weapons infrastructure, which remain as a lasting legacy fromthe Soviet Union.
Cohen credited one U.S. program launched in the early 1990s at the endof the Cold War with helping to deactivate thousands of nuclear weaponsin Russia aimed at the United States and its allies.
But much work remains to be done, Cohen said. He noted that Russia isstill home to brainpower and weapons components that enemies of theUnited States are committed to exploiting.
"Those pursuing these weapons know that the fastest route to obtainingthem is to acquire weapons or weapon materials from the enormousstockpiles that still sit in Russia and other countries of the formerSoviet Union," Cohen said.
There is also the temptation among underemployed Russian weapons workers"to sell their talents to the highest bidder," he added.
The committee chairman, Democrat Joseph Biden, agreed with Cohen,claiming that concern over Russia's inability to contain its weaponsmaterials and technological know-how should be the leading securityconcern in the United States.
He vowed to work to give the administration greater authority in workingwith Russia to protect its weapons stockpiles.
Calling Russia a potential weapons "bazaar" for terrorists, Biden said:"There are many sources for weapons of mass destruction, but there isone place that has it all. That place is Russia."
Presently, the combined spending for nonproliferation efforts by theEnergy, State and Defense departments total around $1.5 billion. Bidensuggested boosting that sum to $2.5 billion in the coming year, to helpRussia destroy its weapons of mass destruction and to prevent the theftof materials needed for building such weapons.
According to Biden, Russia still possesses an estimated 1,000 metrictons of excess enriched uranium - enough to produce 20,000 nuclearweapons - along with 160 metric tons of excess weapons grade plutonium.
He also said that the nation has as much as 40,000 metric tons ofdeclared chemical weapons.
Last year, a Russian nonproliferation task force led by former WhiteHouse counsel Lloyd Cutler and former Senate Majority Leader HowardBaker, recommended spending $3 billion to assist in guarding anddestroying the weapons.
The task force urgently warned that materials for weapons of massdestruction in Russia could be sold to terrorists and other groups.
Cohen agreed that sustained programs are needed to destroy such weaponsmaterials.
"This is not a foreign aid program; this is a national defense program,"Cohen said. "This is a dramatic step to protect the American people."
Still, the nonproliferation programs have met with criticism.
Earlier this month, the Bush administration reportedly put Moscow onnotice that it planned to curb some programs, because it believes Russiahas failed to comply with a number of treaty bans on chemical andbiological weapons.
This was Cohen's first congressional testimony since leaving his post asdefense secretary in the Clinton administration. He now heads up theCohen Group, a Washington-based consulting firm that provides businessservices and advice to corporations about strategic opportunities inforeign markets. return to menu
2. Scary Potential For Domestic Terrorism
April 26, 2002
(for personal use only)
People who study terrorism have noticed that in recent years the deathtoll from individual acts has been steadily mounting - ''escalatinglethality,'' as Brian Jenkins of the Rand Corp. puts it. Thirty yearsago death tolls of more than a dozen were rare.
But a truck bomb in Beirut killed 241 Americans in 1983; car bombskilled 300 in Bombay in 1993; Sikh terrorists downed an Air India flightin 1985, killing 325. Then, of course, more than 3,000 died on Sept. 11.With access to ever more lethal weapons, terrorists may have much worsein store for us in the future with even higher death rates.
The Senate majority leader, Tom Daschle, speaking to the Americansociety of Newspaper Editors earlier this month, gave a chilling accountof just how vulnerable Americans are. ''There is an understandabledesire to think that the danger is past,'' Daschle said. ''But it isnot.'' Although much has been done to shore up the nation's defenses,Daschle made it clear that the glass is nowhere near even a quarterfull.
Consider the following:
Airline pilots have mistakenly intruded into protected airspaces -including over the White House - 567 times since Sept. 11.
Eighty percent of our cities and counties have no bioterrorism responseplan.
It took the vaunted Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta almost threemonths to diagnose an outbreak of West Nile virus in Georgia last yearbecause the lab was so swamped with anthrax testing.
Daschle said that a couple of years ago a film crew, working on themovie ''Outbreak,'' built a stage set for the CDC labs because the reallabs were ''so decrepit no one would believe that America's best publichealth scientists worked in such conditions.''
Every year roughly 6 million containers pass through US ports. Only 2percent are ever searched.
The Coast Guard has 95,000 miles of shoreline to protect, but 200 fewerships than it had in 1980, and fewer Coast Guard men and women than atany time since 1864.
According to a Pentagon report that was issued in January 2001, lessthan 1 percent of the food that we import into this country is everinspected. And our own farms and ranches are very vulnerable to a hostof diseases that terrorists could import.
In January, a task force co-chaired by Lloyd Cutler and Howard Bakerreported that ''the most urgent national security threat to the UnitedStates is the danger that weapons of mass destruction, or weapons-usablematerial, could be stolen or sold to terrorists and used againstAmerican troops abroad or civilians at home.''
The federal Department of Energy estimates that there are 603 tons ofweapons-grade material inside the former Soviet republics - which isenough to build 41,000 nuclear weapons.
''So far, only about a third of this material has been properlysecured,'' Daschle said. ''There have already been 14 confirmed cases oftrafficking in nuclear weapons material in those countries.''
In 1995 the Chechen rebels built a functioning ''dirty bomb,'' meaningnuclear, radioactive materials that could be spread over a city byconventional explosions. And US intelligence believes that Al Qaedaalready possesses radioactive materials.
The Army surgeon general warned that a terrorist attack on a toxicchemical plant in a densely populated area could kill 2.4 millionAmericans - twice as many as estimated earlier. There are more than 120such plants in this country.
Daschle wants ''better coordination among federal, state and localgovernments,'' and ''better coordination between intelligence and lawenforcement agencies.'' He also wants a great deal more money forhomeland security. Given the potential for catastrophic terrorism farbeyond anything inflicted on Sept. 11, we ought to give it to him. return to menu
3. Nuclear Terrorism Protection
April 25, 2002
(for personal use only)
The events of September 11 sent an urgent wake up call that the UnitedStates should take very seriously the continuing efforts by terroristgroups to acquire nuclear weapons. Fortunately, Sen. Pete V. Domenici,New Mexico Republican, has heard that call and introduced a bill thatcould help prevent a nuclear September 11.
The State Department currently lists more than a dozen rogue states andterrorist organizations, including Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda, that areactively seeking nuclear weapons. Russia's vast and undersecuredstockpiles of excess fissile materials represent the most likelypotential source of terrorist nuclear capability. According to U.S.intelligence agencies, Russian criminal groups are already supplying alQaeda with components for nuclear weapons. All that's missing is thenuclear material itself.
In the days following the September 11 attacks, Russia's FederalSecurity Service reportedly thwarted an attempt by one of these criminalgroups to sell stolen or diverted nuclear weapon-grade material to anunidentified buyer.
For several years, Russia has been hinting that it would be interestedin selling these same nuclear materials to the United States forpeaceful uses. Unfortunately, these hints have usually fallen on deafears.
Now, thanks to Mr. Domenici's leadership, we stand at the threshold ofjust such an agreement, and the timing could not be more critical.
Russia's Cold War-era nuclear stockpiles, which include 700 to 800 tonsof highly enriched uranium and 150 to 200 tons of weapon-gradeplutonium, pose a growing risk because of serious gaps in Moscow'snuclear security. Many of these scattered stockpiles are stored inmakeshift warehouses, protected only by $5 combination locks or theequivalent. Small amounts of these materials have already beenconfiscated by European law enforcement officials from sellers lookingfor buyers.
It would take only 15 to 20 pounds of this uranium, or an even smalleramount of plutonium, to arm a device capable of leveling downtownWashington or lower Manhattan. Iraq and the terrorist group IslamicJihad have each reportedly offered Russian workers enormous sums ofmoney for enough nuclear material to produce a single weapon.
The blueprints and non-nuclear components necessary to build crude buthighly effective nuclear weapons are readily available. The onlycomponent prohibitively difficult to develop or acquire is the nuclearmaterial.
There is no reliable way of keeping a nuclear weapon or contraband frombeing smuggled into U.S. territory if it ever does fall into the wronghands. Fortunately, Moscow appears willing to sell these same materialsto the United States, or to a U.S.-led group of international investors,for just a few thousand dollars per pound.
Mr. Domenici has introduced a bill that establishes a framework for howsuch a transaction might take place. Under the bill's provisions, theU.S. government would guarantee loans to Russia in increments of $20million, up to $1 billion at any one time, accepting Moscow's fissilematerials as collateral. For each $20 million loan, Russia would place 1metric ton of uranium and 1 metric ton of plutonium under InternationalAtomic Energy Agency safeguards at a secure facility in Russia that ismutually acceptable to both Russia and the IAEA.
As part of the deal, Russia would guarantee that the fissile materialsplaced under IAEA safeguards would remain there indefinitely, meaninguntil they are used as nuclear fuel or otherwise permanently disposed.This entire process could be completed within just a few years.
The opportunity has never been greater to resolve the tremendous risk toU.S. and international security posed by Russia's enormous stockpiles ofundersecured nuclear materials.
Rep. Lois Capps, California Democrat, has introduced a companion bill inthe House. Congress should move quickly to consider these two bills,make any necessary revisions and deliver legislation to the president assoon as possible for his signature.
The only problem is, the bill has been introduced in each chamber ofCongress by a member of the minority party in that chamber.Consequently, the House version of the bill is tied up in theInternational Relations Committee, while the Senate version languishesin the Foreign Relations Committee.
One possible solution to breaking the current impasse would be for Mr.Domenici to call up his Republican colleagues in the House, remind themthat H.R. 3290 is the House version of his bill and ask them to put iton the fast track. Correspondingly, Ms. Capps should call up herDemocratic colleagues in the Senate, remind them that S.1277 is theSenate version of her bill and ask them to free it up as soon aspossible.
Otherwise, the next "act of war" against the United States might verywell turn out to be an act of nuclear war.
Brett Wagner is president of the California Center for StrategicStudies, a non-profit non-partisan policy think tank based in SantaBarbara, and executive director of the Swords Into Plowshares Project return to menu
4. Studying 'Dirty' Bomb Scenario
Los Angeles Times
April 24, 2002
(for personal use only)
In the heart of a major American city, terrorists set off an explosiveencased in radioactive waste that scatters metal debris for hundreds ofyards and coats several blocks with radioactive dust.
A handful of people suffer radioactive burns, and a small number ofothers will develop cancer as a result. The attack stirs a panic thatprompts a major evacuation and forces local officials to consider razingscores of buildings that they fear no one will ever willingly use again.
This scenario has been troubling federal officials, and especially sothis week, when the imprisoned Al Qaeda leader Abu Zubeida warned thathis group knows how to build a device that would spread radioactivityover a wide area.
While these "dirty" bombs are likely to kill relatively few directly,they exploit fears of radioactivity in a way that makes them adevastating terrorist weapon.
"The sheer psychological impact is enormous," said Nikolai Sokov, ananalyst at the Monterey Institute's Center for Non-ProliferationStudies. "More people may be killed from the stampede that follows thanfrom the bomb."
U.S. officials and outside experts acknowledge that some of theirknowledge of the subject is based on guesswork.
So far no group has set off a dirty bomb.
Most experts reason that the chances of such an attack in the UnitedStates remain low because terrorists could be reluctant to use such acomplex and risky device when conventional explosives are easy to useand readily available.
Nevertheless, the materials and know-how needed to build such devicesare widely available, and even apart from Zubeida's statements therehave been indications that militant groups have been seeking to buildsuch devices.
Radioactive waste materials are widely available in the United Statesand elsewhere, from civilian and military sources. Radioactive productsare used in medicine and industry, including those from nuclear powergeneration.
Governments have sought to control the handling of such materials, butofficials have acknowledged since Sept. 11 that rules haven't been tightenough.
Officials are adding detection devices at key border crossings, yet theyacknowledge that smugglers could cross the border in unguarded areas.
Overseas, highly radioactive nuclear materials are scattered widely,including in the former Soviet Union. In December in the former Sovietrepublic of Georgia, three hunters gathering firewood died of exposureto three abandoned canisters of radioactive material.
U.S. officials are not sure how seriously to take the threats ofZubeida, who may have been trying to frighten Americans. But Al Qaeda'sinterest in dirty bombs has been well established, including through the1998 trial of suspects in the bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya andTanzania.
In 1995, Chechen rebels left an unexploded dirty bomb in a Moscow parkto frighten Russians, noted John Parachini, an analyst at the Rand Corp.think tank in Washington. The event received wide publicity, he said,though the radioactive level of the materials was so low that Russianauthorities "laughed it off."
No conventional military is believed to keep dirty bombs because oftheir ineffectiveness against troops.
Yet few doubt that they are within the technical capabilities of majorterrorist groups.
A senior U.S. official said such devices are "fairly simple to make;anyone who can come up with the material can build it. . . . The rangeof entities that can do this is probably pretty broad."
It is more complicated to use the devices effectively, experts say.
The user would need to figure out how powerful an explosive it wouldtake to spread enough radioactivity to contaminate an area, based on howradioactive their materials were. Wind conditions and other factors alsowould affect the blast.
"There are a lot of environmental variables that are hard to gauge,"said Rand's Parachini.
People near a dirty-bomb explosion could protect themselves fromlow-level radioactivity by taking some simple precautions, such asstaying inside and taking showers, for example. Gas masks offerprotection as well.
The difficult question for the authorities in such an attack would behow much radioactivity exposure to accept.
At a Senate hearing in March, Steven E. Koonin, provost of Caltech,testified that under U.S. government guidelines the dispersion of afraction of a gram of a certain isotope over a square-mile area wouldmake the area uninhabitable.
Yet, exposing the population to that quantity of the material would onlyadd four more cases of cancer per 100,000 people--in addition to the20,000 cases that are statistically likely to result from all othercauses, Koonin testified.
Koonin said he also could imagine an attack that exposed people in 100square blocks of a business district to three times the acceptable levelof radioactivity. At that level, the attack would probably produce nofatalities.
Nonetheless, the area could be sealed off for months of decontamination,and hundreds of thousands of people could be expected to show up athospitals for screening. Dozens of buildings might be razed because ofthe difficulty of decontaminating them.
"There would be billions of dollars of economic damage," Koonin said. return to menu
5. U.S. Takes Claim Of `Dirty Bomb' Seriously
The Chicago Tribune
April 24, 2002
(for personal use only)
Despite deep skepticism about the credibility of captured Al Qaedaleader Abu Zubaydah, the U.S. intelligence community is taking seriouslyhis claim that his organization has the capability of building aradioactive "dirty bomb," a U.S. official said Tuesday.
American intelligence agents have undertaken a widespread search forevidence to corroborate the statement made to U.S. interrogators in anundisclosed location where the Pakistani militant has been held sincehis arrest last month, the official said.
"The United States remains a nation that is at war," said White Housespokesman Ari Fleischer at his daily briefing Tuesday. "On the one hand,we have been very fortunate that there has been a real lull, that therehave been no incidents taking places in the United States. ... But noone should be under any illusions. We have an enemy that is trying tohit us and strike us."
Zubaydah, who is believed to have been Osama bin Laden's chief ofoperations, said Al Qaeda had given high priority to making such a bomband using it against important targets in the U.S.
"The question of whether or not they have acquired a dirty bomb ... issomething that we have previously identified as something we know theywanted to do," Fleischer said.
Although Zubaydah may be practicing psychological warfare, the threathas to be taken seriously because of the ease with which such a bomb canbe constructed and detonated, the U.S. government official said.
"He has a reputation for being much less than truthful," this officialsaid. "You can launch a terrorist attack just by claiming something andcausing panic. This kind of disinformation may be what he's trying todo.
"But we're taking this very seriously. It doesn't take much skill tomake one of those things."
Unlike the far more complicated and dangerous atomic bomb, which derivesits enormous destructive power from initiating an explosive nuclearchain reaction, a dirty bomb can be made by simply combining radioactivematerial with explosives.
"The idea is to spread radioactive elements over a wide area," saidPeter Stockton, former special assistant to the energy secretary fornuclear security. "You can use radioactive waste from medical labs. Yousimply fill the material with C4 explosive and set it off in a crowdedplace."
Stockton, a senior investigator for the Project on Government Oversightwatchdog group in Washington, said an additional concern is lax securityat government nuclear weapons labs at Los Alamos, N.M., and elsewhere.
In a report issued last fall, the group cited exercises in which mockterrorist teams provided by the U.S. military were able to penetratedefenses at Los Alamos.
He said there is also a problem with what the Energy Departmentdescribes as "inventory differences" in which U.S. nuclear labs havebeen unable to account for missing radioactive matter.
However, in a recent speech in Washington, Los Alamos NationalLaboratory Director Donald Cobb said the nation's nuclear weaponslaboratories are secure.
Whatever the amount or source of radioactive matter, the primary concernabout dirty bombs is not simply the casualties at the scene, which wouldbe comparatively light, but the widespread panic and fear.
An attack would be "not very effective as a means of causingfatalities," Richard Meserve, chairman of the federal Nuclear RegulatoryCommission, told a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee last month."But it could have a psycho-social effect, and terrorists' greatestweapon is fear."
Cobb told the committee that Russia is working to keep tight control ofits nuclear weapons but that other sources of radioactive matter werefar more accessible.
"Nuclear weapons and weapon-usable materials tend to be focused inmilitary applications under tight government oversight," he said."Radiological sources are more widespread and have fewer controls."
Zubaydah had earlier warned that Al Qaeda had targeted banks in thenortheastern United States for terrorist attack, which prompted an FBIalert last week.
Fleischer was asked Tuesday whether the White House considered Zubaydahto be credible.
"Those are judgments that intelligence experts make based on not onlywhat he says but on other pieces of information that will corroborateinformation," Fleischer said. "Obviously, his capture is a significantasset to the United States government." return to menu
1. Mamedov: Nuclear Deal Not A Sure Thing
April 26, 2002
(for personal use only)
Hours after a top U.S. arms control negotiator left Russia unexpectedly,his Russian counterpart said doubts remained about whether the sides canreach an agreement on nuclear arms cuts before a presidential summitnext month.
"One cannot say yet whether we will have a treaty because there arestill certain differences," Deputy Foreign Minister Georgy Mamedov saidon national ORT television.
Mamedov had led the Russian side in talks with a U.S. delegation led byUndersecretary of State John Bolton. The sides on Tuesday began talksthat were expected to last through Wednesday, but Bolton left Moscowearly Wednesday.
A U.S. Embassy spokesman said no information was available on why Boltonleft. The Russian Foreign Ministry would not comment Wednesday onBolton's departure.
In a statement late Tuesday, the ministry said the first day of talksproduced "a constructive and substantive exchange of opinions with theaim of solving the remaining disputed questions." Mamedov said Wednesdaythat "the only question is how strong the guarantees of implementingthese cuts will be."
U.S. President George W. Bush has said he is ready to reduce the U.S.nuclear arsenal to 1,700 to 2,200 warheads from the current 6,000 eachcountry is allowed under the START-1 treaty.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he would go further, to 1,500warheads. Bush initially favored an informal deal, but later acquiescedto Putin's push for a legally binding agreement.
Bush and Putin are to hold a summit in late May in Moscow and St.Petersburg and the sides have hoped an agreement could be signed at themeeting.
However, talks have snagged on Moscow's objection to the Pentagon'sdecision to stockpile decommissioned nuclear weapons rather than destroythem.
The Foreign Ministry stressed that Russia is pushing for an agreementthat would produce "real, controllable cuts" to 1,700-2,200 warheadseach.
Top Russian arms control experts spoke out this week against the deal,saying it would require bowing to U.S. demands. They predicted thatoverall U.S.-Russian relations, bolstered by Putin's support for theU.S.-led war on terror, would remain strong even if a nuclear treatyisn't signed in May.
Mamedov also said U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld would meetSunday in Moscow with Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov. It was not clearwhether that meeting was connected with a potential arms deal. return to menu
1. Russian engineering company wins Indian N-plant contract
April 25, 2002
(for personal use only)
A Russian company has clinched a deal to supply equipment for a nuclearpower plant in India. OMZ (Amalgamated Engineering Plants) is to providethe Kudankulam plant, which will begin operating in 2007, with 12,000tonnes of equipment, including reactor frames, steam generators, heatexchangers and pipes under an agreement with Russian companyAtomstroyeksport. The total cost of the equipment is 294m dollars, OMZsaid.
Two water-cooled reactors will be built at Izhorskiye Zavody [IzhoraPlants], an OMZ division in St Petersburg. Both will be taken to Indiain 2005.
1. Inspection Unit Says Russia's Decommissioned Subs Are A Threat
April 26, 2002
(for personal use only)
According to a recent analytical memorandum of the State AtomicInspection agency, 190 nuclear submarines that were decommissioned fromthe Russian navy because of their miserable safety conditions now pose aserious threat to the population and environment, "Trud" reported on 25April. More than 30 percent of these submarines are waiting to bescrapped. Moreover, more than half of these submarines still havenuclear fuel on board, and the navy stores 14,000 cubic meters of liquidand 26,000 cubic meters of solid nuclear waste on the Russian coastline,according to the memorandum, as cited by the newspaper. The totalradioactivity of this waste is 500 million curies, or double the amountof radioactivity released into the atmosphere after the Chernobylnuclear-power-plant catastrophe on 26 April 1986. The problem isexacerbated by the fact that the navy considers the decommissionedsubmarines military objects and bans the State Atomic Inspection agencyfrom inspecting them. Meanwhile, a group of ecologists and scientistshas written a letter to President Putin asking him to intervene in orderto allow the State Atomic Inspection agency access to nuclear militaryobjects, according to "Trud." Prior to 1996, the agency had access tosuch objects. return to menu
2. New N-Sub Could Replace Kursk: Official
April 26, 2002
(for personal use only)
A new Russian nuclear submarine belonging to the same class as the Kurskcould replace the doomed sub that sank to the seabed in August 2000causing the death of its 118 crew members, a military constructionofficial said.
The Belgorod, which belongs to the same Antey class -- known as Oscar-2in NATO classification -- is 70 percent ready, the Interfax AVN newsagency quoted a spokesman for Russia's main submarine factory SevernoyeMashinostroitelnoye Predpiyatye as saying.
However, the plant is in need of extra funding to complete itsconstruction, the spokesman conceded.
Severnoye also built the Kursk, once the pride of Russia's NorthernFleet and one of its most modern subs.
Most of the 18,000-tonne Kursk, which is to be dismantled shortly, wasraised from the bottom of the Barents Sea last October, although thenose was cut off prior to the raising for safety reasons and is to bebrought to the surface in a separate operation.
No definitive explanation has yet been given for the explosions thatsent the submarine to the bottom, but a preliminary report said adefective torpedo filled with a cheap but very volatile fuel that hasnot been used in Western navies in over four decades was probablyresponsible.
The last of the 118 seamen whose bodies were recovered from the wreckwere buried in Saint Petersburg last month. return to menu
3. Russia commissions Ukrainian-built floating dock for nuclear subs
April 25, 2002
(for personal use only)
Russia hoisted its tricolour on Thursday [25 April] on a floating dockbuilt by Ukraine's Pallada shipyard for the Russian navy as part of itsprogramme to repair and utilize nuclear submarines.
"Today's event can be regarded as a showcase of the strategicpartnership between Russia and Ukraine," Russia's deputy Black Sea Fleetcommander Rear Admiral Aleksandr Kovshar emphasized at the commissioningceremony. The facility, whose construction began in 1993, has passed theacceptance and delivery trials and is due to go in service with Russia'sPacific Fleet. The dock will considerably expand the Pacific Fleet'srepair capabilities and help resolve one of its pressing problemsrelated to the utilization of decommissioned submarines, Kovshar said. return to menu
F. Russian Nuclear Power Industry
1. Russia Announces Plans For Nuclear Power Station In Siberian Region
April 25, 2002
(for personal use only)
Russian Atomic Energy Minister Aleksandr Rumyantsev told a newsconference in Tomsk today that the first nuclear power plant would bebuilt in Siberia in the next ten years.
Rumyantsev said that two power units would be built in Seversk, whichhas been a "closed" town for the past 40 years because of the Siberianchemical integrated works that produces nuclear fuel. Only two out ofits five huge atomic reactors are operational at the moment. Theygenerate electric and thermal energy for the Tomsk Region.
A new nuclear power plant in Seversk will make it possible to shut downthe two operating reactors whose service life will be over in the nextten years.. return to menu
2. Russian Nuclear Power Minister Mulls Role On International Markets
April 24, 2002
(for personal use only)
Domestic producers should be supported through the import of spentnuclear fuel and the re import of enriched fuel, Russian Atomic EnergyMinister Aleksandr Rumyantsev has said.
"This market must not be given up," Rumyantsev told the Argumenty iFakty newspaper.
Construction of a nuclear reactor abroad might fetch up to 1bn dollarsfor Russia's state budget, he said. "We have all we need, including thehigh technologies, to succeed. The enriched uranium we produce is noworse than other countries' products. There is a demand for it," hesaid.
If Russia ships enriched uranium to non-nuclear states, it must take outspent nuclear fuel. "Otherwise, we would breach the treaty onnon-proliferation of fissionable materials that can be used in a nuclearbomb. If we export uranium, we must import it," he said.
Asked about the situation on the international market, Rumyantsevreplied that "nobody would volunteer to give us contracts, they must bewon". "The British and the French control all of Europe and part ofAsia. They take uranium from there and they are in no hurry to cut backtheir positions. Moreover, they keep eyeing our share," he said.
Russia needs money to implement clean-up programmes related to nucleararms production and reactors in submarines and icebreakers, he said. InRussia, "200m tonnes of various nuclear wastes, including low andhigh-activity substances, have been stockpiled", he said.
The state is unable to finance the recycling of spent nuclear fuel. "Weexpect to make money by building new nuclear power plants and recyclingspent nuclear fuel and then deal with the environment," he said. return to menu
1. Lawmakers Announce Legislation to Reduce Nuclear Threat
Press Release, Rep. Tauscher and Rep. Spratt
April 24, 2002
With reports that a top leader of Al Qaeda has told American officialsthat terrorists are close to constructing a crude nuclear device to beused against the U.S., Representatives Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) and JohnSpratt (D-SC) announced their intention today to introduce the NuclearThreat Reduction Act of 2002 (NTRA) to strengthen U.S.-Russian effortsto reduce the nuclear threat.
"The threat of weapons of mass destruction falling into the hands ofterrorists who wish to do the U.S. harm is real, "said Rep. Tauscher."It is imperative that our government work with Russia to ensure that weare doing everything in our power to secure both our nations' weapons ofmass destruction."
"There is no doubt that U.S. security is tied to the security ofRussia's nuclear arsenal," said Rep. Spratt. "This legislation will takeimportant steps forward to expand and strengthen non proliferationprograms in the U.S. and Russia and ensure our homeland is trulysecure."
Specifically, NTRA calls for:
Expanded Accountability and Inventory of Weapons of Mass Destruction inthe U.S. and Russia
A recent CIA report faulted the security at Russian nuclear arsenalfacilities stating that "undetected smuggling has occurred." Recognizingthe shortcomings in the Russian system for accounting for nuclearwarheads and weapons-grade material, the U.S. will assist Russia inestablishing comprehensive inventories and data exchanges of Russian andU.S. nuclear, chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction withparticular attention to tactical warheads - one of the most likelyweapons a terrorist organization or state would acquire - and also onweapons which have been removed from deployment.
Outside of the U.S., Russia possesses over 95% of the world's nuclearweapons and material. There are more than 20,000 Russian weaponsscientists who have knowledge that could aid terrorists seeking todevelop weapons of mass destruction. Moreover, the Russians haveproduced thousands of tons of the viruses that could lead to a seriousbioterrorism threat.
NTRA would increase funding for non-proliferation programs with Russiaand help find peaceful employment for Russian scientists and terrorists.
Cooperative Threat Reduction Waiver Authority
In a supplemental appropriations request to Congress, President Bushasked for the authority to expedite funding to reduce and prevent theproliferation of weapons of mass destruction and materials for nationalsecurity purposes. Recognizing that an essential priority of the UnitedStates is to reduce and prevent the proliferation of weapons of massdestruction, materials, and expertise, this bill allows the President towaive certification requirements previously placed on the CooperativeThreat Reduction program if he judges this to be in the nationalsecurity interest of the United States. This waiver will ensure thatthese programs may be implemented unencumbered and efficiently. NTRAsupports the President's request.
Nuclear Posture Review Clarification
NTRA supports the President's objective outlined at the Bush-PutinSummit last November and echoed in the Nuclear Posture Review to achievea level of 1,700-2,2000 operationally deployed warheads. NTRA calls uponthe President to report back to Congress progress on:
the number of operationally deployed nuclear weapons
the number of nuclear weapons in the responsive force
the number of active and inactive nuclear weapons in the reserve force
the number of weapons slated for dismantlement.
NTRA also calls for a report from the President to Congress on how thefull implementation of cuts announced by President Bush at the November2001 Summit and outlined in the Nuclear Posture Review could beaccomplished by 2006, 2008, or 2010, as compared to the current timelineof 2012.
The U.S. has voluntarily refrained from conducting underground nucleartests since 1992. This moratorium has helped dissuade Russia and Chinafrom testing. NTRA supports the continued moratorium, but states that ifthe President determines that the national security interests of theU.S. require conducting an underground nuclear test, he would berequired to notify Congress no less than 18 months prior to the intendeddate of the test. return to menu
2. On Russian-American Talks
Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
April 23, 2002
The fourth round of Russian-American talks on the preparation, by theRussia-USA summit in May, of an agreement on subsequent cuts instrategic offensive arms and of a declaration of new strategic relationsbetween the two countries started on April 23 in Moscow. The Russiandelegation is headed by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs GeorgyMamedov, and the American by Under Secretary of State John Bolton.
A constructive, substantive exchange of views, for solution of questionsstill outstanding, took place. The Russian side emphasized theimportance of reaching a legally binding agreement which would providefor real and verifiable cuts in strategic offensive arms, down to thelevel of 1,700-2,200 strategic nuclear warheads, reflect the organiclink between strategic defensive and offensive arms, enhance thepredictability of the development of the strategic situation andstrategic stability and rely on the provisions of the operative START-1Treaty.
It noted, in particular, that the conclusion of a new START Treaty wouldbe a contribution to the fulfillment by our countries of their nucleardisarmament obligations under the Treaty on the Nonproliferation ofNuclear Weapons.
Bolton was received by Minister of Defense of the Russian FederationSergei Ivanov.
The START-ABM talks will be continued under the framework of theupcoming visit of Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian FederationIgor Ivanov to the United States early this May. return to menu
3. Committee Reviews Proposals To Reduce The Threat Of Loose Nuclear,Chemical, And Biological Materials In The Former Soviet Union
Senate Foreign Relations Committee
April 23, 2002
The United States must renew its efforts to reduce weapons of massdestruction and the means to make them in the former Soviet Union,Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph R. Biden, Jr. saidtoday. Biden pointed out that in locations across the former SovietUnion there is enough highly enriched uranium to produce roughly 20,000nuclear weapons, about 40,000 metric tons of declared chemical weapons,and many well-educated weapons scientists who are under-employed. FormerU.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen noted that enemies of the UnitedStates "are working hard to lay their hands on weapons of massdestruction, and particularly in the case of terrorist groups there isno doubt that they would use them. Those pursuing these weapons knowthat the fastest route to obtaining them is ... from the enormousstockpiles that still sit in Russia and other countries of the formerSoviet Union, or to hire technical experts from the former SovietUnion."
In recent months, Biden and Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) have worked todevelop the authority for the President to offer "debt-fornonproliferation" swaps to the Russian Federation, which would involveforgiving part of - or even all - Soviet-era debt obligations to theUnited States, if Russia uses these proceeds for mutually agreednonproliferation programs.
"Given the economic misery and porous security in Russia over the pastdecade, we should all be grateful that large-scale defections ofmaterials or personnel to foreign nations have not occurred," Bidensaid. "With our help and assistance, the Russians are mounting a nobleeffort to keep a tight noose on weapons of mass destruction. Both we andthey can do more, however, and Al Qaeda's efforts are a reminder that wemust do more."
Dr. Sigfried S. Hecker, a Senior Fellow and former director at the LosAlamos National Laboratory, offered additional suggestions fornonproliferation programs. return to menu
4. The United States/Russian Plutonium Disposition Agreement
Senator Pete Domenici
April 17, 2002
Mr. President, I rise today to bring the Senate's attention to a matterof tremendous international importance to our efforts to prevent theterrorists' use of weapons of mass destruction.
I wish to talk about the United States/Russian plutonium dispositionagreement, a commitment between our two countries to each permanentlydispose of 34 metric tons of plutonium from nuclear weapons. Thirty-fourtons is enough material to make over 4,000 nuclear weapons. I waspleased to help develop aspects of that agreement during severalinteractions with the Russian leadership of Minatom, both here and inRussia. I was in Moscow with our President in 1998 when the firstagreement was initialed. I believe this agreement represents one themost significant accomplishments between the United States and Russia inthe last 10 years in our joint efforts to keep the material andtechnology of weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of those thatseek to do us harm.
The agreement basically commits the United States and Russia to turning34 tons of plutonium into fuel that can be burned in commercial nuclearpower plants. In this way, electricity is produced and the used fuel isleft in a condition that makes it unusable in the future for nuclearbombs. Facilities will be built in both the United States and Russia toperform this work.
Our Government completed a 4-year process to decide what type offacilities was needed for this disposition mission, and where thosefacilities should be built. The United States considered four sites,Washington State, Idaho, Texas, and South Carolina, and after a vigorouscompetition in which the State of South Carolina lobbied very hard toget the mission, the decision was made to site the dispositionfacilities in South Carolina. Now, South Carolina is hesitating. Theplutonium disposition agreement is being imperiled by the unwillingnessof the State of South Carolina to reach an agreement with the Departmentof Energy on taking shipment of the plutonium identified for dispositionand building the required facilities.
It is appropriate for the Governor of South Carolina to insist on everyassurance that his State will be treated fairly, and will not simplybecome the permanent storage site for unwanted nuclear material if forsome reason the plutonium agreement should fall apart. But the Governorhas done that, he has succeeded, he has won. He should be congratulated.
The Governor has gotten the Secretary of Energy to provide SouthCarolina all of the assurances they never got from the Clintonadministration, including full funding for the MOX program, a strictconstruction schedule, and a number of mechanisms, including statutorylanguage and other measures, to ensure that the agreement will belegally enforceable.
However, the Governor is apparently insisting that this matter should bethrown to the courts and resolved through the mechanism of a courtordered consent decree. Putting the courts in charge of executive branchnon-proliferation and foreign policy affairs will slow our ability tomeet our goals of reducing Russian nuclear material stockpiles, and willallow others who are opposed to the program's goals have a voice intheir implementation. Ultimately, I fear America's national securitywill be undermined.
Further delay in reaching agreement with South Carolina will underminethe United States/Russian plutonium disposition agreement. We must moveforward with the construction of the MOX plant that will be used todispose of the plutonium at issue in order to honor our commitments tothe Russian Federation. That will be very difficult, if not impossible,in the face of litigation from the Governor of the State where the plantwill be located. The Russians will not go along to reduce theirplutonium inventory unless we do. A failure in this program means morematerial may end up on the black market where terrorists could haveaccess to it.
For 50 years now the State of South Carolina, like my home State of NewMexico, has hosted some of the most important facilities within ournuclear weapons complex.
For 50 years, tens of thousands of the sons and daughters of SouthCarolina proudly toiled in relative anonymity so that the rest of thecountry, and the world, could enjoy the peace provided by our nuclearshield during the long, dark days of the Cold War. I am proud of thecitizens of South Carolina and their unique service for our county.
Today, the children and grandchildren of the previous generations ofSouth Carolina heroes have a tremendous opportunity to almost literally,as the prophet Isaiah said, ``beat their swords into plowshares andtheir spears into pruning hooks.'' They stand on the cusp of a grand newopportunity to lead the world community in converting nuclear weapons toelectric power while at the same time keeping the material out of thehands of would be terrorists.We must go forward with this importantagreement.
Thus, I will close today by urging both the Secretary of Energy and theGovernor of South Carolina to work together to resolve theirdifferences, move out together, and not threaten this effort byresorting to litigation. return to menu
H. Links of Interest
1. USEC Inc. Reports Third Quarter Financial Results
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