1. Defense Minister Defends US Nuke Deal, NATO Alliance
June 3, 2002
(for personal use only)
Countering hard-line critics, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanovsaid Monday that Moscow hasn't compromised its security interests in anuclear deal with Washington and new alliance with NATO.
"I regard as unfounded the claims that we have made concessions," Ivanovtold reporters, according to the Interfax-Military News Agency. "We didnot give up anything."
The nuclear arms accord signed by U.S. President George W. Bush andRussian President Vladimir Putin during their summit in Russia lastmonth envisaged the two sides will slash their nuclear arsenals tobetween 1,700 and 2,200 nuclear warheads each over the next decade -one-third their current level.
"We do not need the nuclear parity of the Cold War times with the UnitedStates," Ivanov said when asked whether the Russian military's plan tomake even deeper cuts - down to 1,500 warheads - would put Russia at adisadvantage.
Russian officials and lawmakers have broadly hailed the new treaty ashelping further cement already friendly relations between the twocountries - bolstered by Putin's support for the U.S.-led war onterrorism. Still, some hard-liners criticized the accord as caving in tothe United States, pointing at the Pentagon's plan to keep somedecommissioned weapons in reserve rather than destroy them as Russiaproposed.
Asked whether Moscow might follow the U.S. example and stockpile itsweapons, Ivanov said Russia's "hands were untied" because the treatyleaves it to each nation to decide what to do with its nuclear arsenal.He didn't elaborate.
Some Russian analysts and lawmakers have said it would be hard forRussia to match U.S. weapons stockpiles because its Soviet-builtmissiles have already aged past their designated lifetime and would haveto be scrapped anyway.
Ivanov also defended the agreement Russia signed with NATO last weekmaking Moscow a limited partner of the alliance by giving it a voice -but not a veto - on a range of issues including counterterrorism,nonproliferation and peacekeeping.
Ivanov said Russia wasn't striving to become a full member of thealliance, and also had no desire to take part in setting NATO's militarypolicy.
"Russia is not going to cooperate with NATO on military issues," hesaid. "We intend to work together with the alliance on the most urgentproblems that pose a real threat to both Russia and NATO members."
"By establishing the new format of relations with the alliance, Russiaeffectively is proposing an alternative format of security cooperation... as an alternative to military blocs and organizations," Ivanov said. return to menu
B. Nuclear Terrorism
1. Nuclear Terror Threat Taken Seriously
The Globe and Mail
June 1, 2002
(for personal use only)
What would happen if Russia one day said it couldn't account for all ofits weapons-grade plutonium at the same time a terrorist group said itwould destroy the United Nations headquarters with a nuclear bomb if itsdemands weren't met?
If you were the president of the United States or the UNsecretary-general, would you call the bluff? If Western intelligenceservices tell you they are 90-per-cent sure it is only a bluff, arethose odds good enough to risk ignoring the threat?
Once the stuff of Hollywood thrillers, nightmare nuclear-blackmailscenarios such as this are being taken much more seriously byarms-control experts, intelligence agencies and political leaders aroundthe world in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.
This is why U.S. President George W. Bush, at this month's Group ofEight summit in Kananaskis, Alta., will propose a $20-billion (U.S.)plan to secure Russia's huge stockpiles of nuclear material andbiological and chemical weapons. The United States would put up thefirst $10-billion, and wants the other G8 countries to cover theremaining $10-billion over 10 years.
"The Russians will tell you their stockpiles are secure. And even ifthat's true today, can we be reassured it will stay this way?" a seniorCanadian official said.
"There is plutonium, radiological material and nuclear waste stored allover the place" and ample evidence that terrorist organizations havetried to get their hands on some of it, the official said.
"Insecure nuclear bomb material anywhere is a threat to everyone,everywhere," says a study by Harvard University researchers publishedrecently by the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a private U.S. group financedby media mogul Ted Turner and backed by former U.S. senator Sam Nunn, anacknowledged non-proliferation expert.
The researchers say the detonation of a "small" 10-kiloton bomb in acity "would be a catastrophe almost beyond imagination," destroyingalmost everything in a circle with a three-kilometre diameter. Even aone-kiloton "fizzle" from a poorly built bomb "would have a diameter ofdestruction nearly half as big."
Terrorists are sure to acquire and use nuclear, chemical and biologicalweapons some day, U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Tuesday.He said the threat will arise when Iraq, Iran or North Korea developnuclear and other weapons of mass destruction and pass them along.
But some experts say the clear and present danger is right now, and itis in the former Soviet Union. The Harvard researchers say unsecured orinadequately secured nuclear material in Russia would be the most likelysource for terrorists.
It takes only a few kilograms of plutonium to build a nuclear warhead.And Russia has tonnes of it -- so much that it would take decades toburn it up as fuel in a nuclear power reactor.
The Harvard researchers point out that some Russian nuclear-researchreactors are owned by institutions that are bankrupt, can't pay thephone bills and have dead rats floating in their spent fuel pools.
Experts say terrorists are not as likely to be able to steal or buy anintact Russian nuclear weapon as they would be able to get nuclearmaterial such as plutonium and uranium and to build the bomb.
Nuclear-weapons material is harder to account for than warheads and morewidely dispersed, the Harvard study says.
And smuggling a nuclear bomb into the United States would not bedifficult if the radioactive material were shielded. "The huge volume ofdrugs successfully smuggled into this country provides an alarmingreference point," the study warns.
"Over the last decade there have been multiple confirmed cases of theftof kilogram quantities of weapons-usable nuclear material," the studysays. "Of course, how much theft has not been detected cannot be known."
Despite years of joint U.S.-Russia co-operation to secure nuclearmaterial in Russia, only 40 per cent of it has been secured. Some ofthese "rapid upgrades" of security at nuclear facilities involvebricking over windows or piling heavy blocks on material, the Harvardstudy says.
Real security will be expensive, the experts say. But it will seem likepeanuts the day after a terrorist nuclear attack. return to menu
2. Six Arrested, One Sought In Radioactive 'Dirty Bomb' Plot
Nick Paton Walsh
June 1, 2002
(for personal use only)
European investigators are looking for a German national suspected oftrying to buy radioactive material in Lithuania, which they fear mayhave been sold to terrorists wanting to make an unsophisticated "dirty"nuclear bomb.
Six Lithuanian nationals were arrested in the Lithuanian capital,Vilnius, in a raid on Thursday, during which a large amount of theradioac tive metal, caesium-137, was confiscated.
US officials have warned that terrorists might try to obtain some of theradioactive material that has become available on the black market sincethe break-up of the Soviet Union. This could be detonated withconventional explosives as a "dirty bomb" which would spew outradioactive particles.
The caesium-137 was obtained by the Lithuanian suspects, unemployed menin their 30s, from another unspecified country in the former SovietUnion. They took the metal, weighing a kilogram, to the LithuanianInstitute of Physics in Vilnius, to have its value and content verified.A sale to a German national, believed to have connections with organisedcrime, was then arranged.
But shortly after the visit to the institute, the police became aware ofthe plot, and arrested the six Lithuanians, who were known to them astraders in illegal metal. The German national fled.
Investigators think he wanted to sell the metal, valued at $125,000(£90,000), on the western black market. They doubt that the kilogram ofmetal is pure caesium-137; that much radioactive material would need tobe kept in protective casing.
"There are now close contacts between German and Lithuanian organisedcriminals," a Vilnius police spokeswoman said. 'This is the first timewe have found such metals on sale here. This sort of metal is sold onthe black market mostly for weapons, and we presume it came from Russiaor Belarus.'
International atomic security experts are very concerned about theconsequences a "dirty bomb" and about the availability of suchradioactive metals. "This is the same metal that Chechenrebels left in Izmailovo park in Moscow in 1996 to prove they coulddetonate a dirty bomb if they wanted to," said Melissa Fleming,spokeswoman for the International Atomic Energy Authority. The Moscowdevice was a deadly mixture of caesium-137, one of the by-products ofnuclear fission, strapped to sticks of dynamite.
Security analysts have calculated that if a similar device weredetonated in Manhattan during rush hour, 2,000 people would die, andmany thousands more contaminated. A top-rankingal-Qaida leader, in US custody, Abu-Zubaydah, told investigators thatBin Laden was seeking material to make a dirty bomb, or radioactivedispersal device as it is often known. The CIA have also warned of thethreat.
The incident marks the latest in a long line of incidents in which thesecurity of military installations in the former Soviet Union has beencalled into question, and restricted materials have been found in thewrong hands.
In the past eight years, there are reported to have been 175 instancesin which radioactive materials suitable for a dirty bomb have beensmuggled out of the former Soviet Union. Bin Laden operatives reportedlyalso tried to buy enriched uranium in South Africa in 1993.
But black market activity has not been limited to dirty bomb materials.In July last year, police in Paris, arrested three men and confiscatedseveral grams of highly enriched uranium, a key component in a nuclearbomb. return to menu
3. Bin Laden Nearly Obtained The Most Dangerous Weapon
May 30, 2002
(for personal use only)
Russia's Federal Security Service prevented leakage of poisonoussubstance that had been stolen from an enterprise specializing inutilization of worn out nuclear submarines. Fortunately, the "poisonousbomb" did not detonate.
Here is the official information from Russia's Federal Security Service:
"An unauthorized attempt to sell and purchase a virulent poisonoussubstance, thallium, was prevented. The FSB discovered a group of peoplewho schemed the resale of the poisonous metal. Special search activitieswere held to withdraw about five kilogram of thallium. The people weredetained, and a criminal case based on the RF Criminal Code article #234was initiated. The substance is extremely dangerous. The maximumconcentration limit of thallium in water makes up only 0,0001 mg/m3, and0,0004 mg/m3 in free air. Thallium is extremely ecologically dangerousbecause it quickly oxidizes when exposed to air."
The investigation of the criminal case is not finished yet, which is whywe are not authorized to report all the details. We will try to explainthe potential danger of five kg of thallium in simple words: the amountis quite enough to poison hydraulic works of such large cities likeMoscow or St. Petersburg. The tragedy would kill more people than theSept.11 terrorism attack in New York.
In addition, bin Laden's terrorists studied characteristics of poisonoussubstances in Afghanistan's training centers of Taliban. Thallium is oneof the key substances they studied. Indeed, the metal is the mostinvisible weapon. At the same time, it has not yet been officiallyreported that the stolen thallium originates from Chechnya, it is just asupposition.
A competent person, who requested anonymity, said, "Originally, weidentified two persons who offered so-called thallium cartridges(components of measuring devices at nuclear subs). We know nothing yetabout other members of the group and origin of the poisonous substance.A special activity called "controlled supply" was held to identify theway the poison could be stolen from the enterprise. People involved inthe murky deal were caught red-handed. One man, a former security guardat a northern enterprise specializing in the repair of nuclearsubmarines, was arrested and taken to a special isolation cell. Othermembers of the group, a kind of chain consisting of four people, werereleased after giving a written undertaking not to leave the area. Thecase was brought before the Martial Prosecutor's Office. The criminalchain started with a senior naval officer; four thallium cartridges werewithdrawn from him. Simultaneously, another channel for stealingthallium was discovered. Former police officer worked at one of themilitary units; nine thallium cartridges were found on him.
During the searching operations, an inspection was held at severalshipyards, military units and vessels belonging to the Northern Fleet.It may seem a paradox, but all officially registered thallium cartridgeswere right in their places.
Where do the extra cartridges come from? No doubt, they originate fromRussian submarines. People close to the problem say that the incidentprovoked a special collegium of Russia's Ministry of Justice. Indeed,lawyers are to pay special attention to the precedent.
Article #234 of the Russian Criminal Code provides calls forimprisonment of up to eight years if the case can be characterized as"an organized crime," "large-scale fraud," or "crime in agreement."Experienced layers say that almost all members of the group are free nowand are unlikely to be further imprisoned, as the case is reallycontradictory. The court will not probably find enough reasons to bringthe people into criminal account for the thallium case. Thallium is noton the list of substances to which the article #234 can be applied. Thearticle is called: "Illegal turnover of strong and poisonous substancesfor further re-sale." At the same time, it is said in the comment to theCriminal Code: "Name of the article #234 is not good enough. It becomesclear when we compare the article with a similar one #228, in which alloperations with poisonous substances are enumerated (production,storage, sale, transportation, etc.)" On the whole, layers have gotenough problems to think over as concerning this very case.
A naval expert of PRAVDA.Ru and former submarine engineer suggested hisown version of the incident based on his own experience. He says thatthallium cartridges are components of AK 198 oxygen meters installed inwater-chemical labs in the tenth compartment of practically all subs of667 modification. The devices are designed to measure oxygen content inwater circulating in steam-turbine plants. In beginning of the 1990s,control over the liquidation of worn out submarines was not tightenough, which is why some spare thallium could appear. Thanks God, Usamabin Laden does not seem to be connected with the thallium fraud. Passionfor money-grubbing, so typical of Russians, seems to be the cause of theproblem.
Thallium (lat. Tallium) is a silvery white metal with a grayish tint.Has no taste and smell; criminals try to profit from the characteristicsbecause the poison is difficult to identify. Thallium poisoning isextremely dangerous, because it causes inflammations for which there isno cure. The poisoning appears to be flu or pneumonia, which is whydoctors prescribe antibiotics that are certainly of no effect in thiscase. Symptoms of thallium poisoning are affection of nervous system,kidneys, stomach, and the loss of hair." return to menu
1. Selling Homeland Through Arms Trade
June 4, 2002
(for personal use only)
Iran remains the only stumbling bloc in relations between Russia and theUnited States who have pledged to be allies in global struggle againstinternational terrorism.
Russia and the United States do not seem to have any differences overtheir policy towards Iraq and are determined to continue a constructivedialogue. Despite pressure from domestic supporters of President SaddamHussein, Russia no longer regards him as a national property and is moreconcerned with ensuring its economic interests in a post-Saddam Iraq.
Things are slightly different with Iran.
Russian President Vladimir Putin told a joint news conference after theRussian-US summit that Moscow could provide convincing proof that anumber of western companies were involved in Iran's nuclear programs. Astatement made at such a high level doesn't leave any doubts that Russiahas the evidence and that it was presented to the U.S president. It iswell-known that French, British and other western companies have helpedIraq to develop its nuclear programs.
Young Russian capitalists are as ambitious as their western colleagues.A Russian container loaded with steel required for the production ofnuclear missiles has been detained on the Azeri-Russian border. Anotherscandalous incident involved a Russian ministry, Minatom, that signed asecret protocol with Iran to deliver a centrifuge for splitting uraniumisotopes capable of producing enriched weapons-grade uranium.
As if by chance, Putin admitted what was already known and would bestupid to deny. It is absolutely clear that Iran wants to build itsnuclear potential and America's concerns in this respect are justified.At the same time, the evidence of western involvement in Iran's nuclearprograms made it possible for the Russian president to brush asideaccusations of Russia's violation of non-proliferation regime. In fact,Russia's policy towards Iran goes father than Russian-Americanrelations, especially in the light of Iran's recent claims in theCaspian Sea.
Vladimir Putin also expressed concern over Taiwan's nuclear program buthere his remarks were fuzzier and less convincing. return to menu
2. Russia's Role In Iran And Iraq
New York Times
June 3, 2002
(for personal use only)
President Bush and President Vladimir Putin of Russia made a littlehistory when they signed the Treaty of Moscow to cut the nucleararsenals of both nations. Yet the principles they agreed on were littledifferent from what Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin had agreed oncountless times in the past: nuclear arms reductions, cooperationbetween Russia and NATO, solidarity against 21st century threats,increased trade and investment, and so on. What the new leaders add isthe political strength and authority to make these ideas real.Seventy-percent approval ratings have their uses.
Now Mr. Bush and Mr. Putin have to turn to problems on which theirpredecessors could not agree. Iran and Iraq top the list. Mr. Putin ispolitically stronger than Mr. Yeltsin ever was, and he may be morewilling to accommodate the United States on these issues, too. But itwon't be easy. Organized Russian trade and economic interests - aspowerful a force in Russian policy today as ideology was in the past -stand in his way.
Iran and Iraq have created problems in Russian-American relations foryears. In the last decade both have had good relations with Russia whilethe United States has considered them enemies. American officials havelong complained that Russian diplomats shield Iraq from pressure in theUnited Nations. And George Tenet recently told Congress that Iran stillgets "significant" Russian help on long-range missiles and nuclearweapons.
President Bush has two advantages in pushing for Russian cooperationthat President Clinton did not have. The new amity between Moscow andWashington, which Mr. Putin surely wants to preserve, gives him reasonto help us. And Mr. Bush's strong rhetoric makes plain that for him Iranand Iraq stand above all other problems.
So Mr. Putin is repositioning himself - but only a little. Russiandiplomats, who last year blocked revisions to the internationalsanctions imposed on Iraq, have joined with the United States to put arevised program in place. Where they used to say Iraq needs assurancesthat sanctions would be lifted if Iraq met international demands, theRussians now emphasize Iraq's obligation to show that it has no weaponsof mass destruction. Russian commentators say the Kremlin knows howstupid it would be to wait too long to switch sides.
Russia's handling of Iran also hints at change. After Mr. Bush's "axisof evil" speech in January, Mr. Putin quickly canceled a visit to Moscowby the Iranian foreign minister. Recently he broke with Tehran onterritorial control of the Caspian Sea, siding for the first time withother energy-producing states in the region. And in Moscow, Mr. Putinoffered what President Bush called "comforting" assurances aboutsafeguards for the nuclear reactor Russia is building in Iran in thePersian Gulf city of Bushehr.
These steps are a start, but they do not wrest control from Russiandomestic interests that benefit most from keeping Russian policy on Iranand Iraq as it is.
Russian companies have by far the largest share of Iraqi trade under theUnited Nations' oil-for food program, and Iraqi officials admit thisfavoritism has only one purpose: to buy Russian support. Saddam Husseinhas also offered Russian companies the rights to vast future energydevelopment projects - worth, Russians boast, as much as $60 billion.
That's why Russian oil and gas companies and major exporters to Iraqwant Mr. Putin to maintain Iraq's favor by making sure that inspectionsdo not threaten Saddam Hussein. Meanwhile, the Russian nuclear-powerindustry wants him to keep Iran's favor by making sure restrictions atBushehr do not block covert nuclear cooperation. So far both groups aregetting what they want.
Russian officials tell Americans they are ready to discuss ways toinsure that the Bushehr reactor doesn't help Iran's nuclear weaponsprogram. But the offer is irrelevant as long as Russia provides Irandangerous nuclear assistance outside of the Bushehr project - and deniesit. The Bush administration may not be willing to put up withdouble-dealing on this issue for very long.
Mr. Putin can't be happy with the box he is in. If he yields to pressurefrom Mr. Bush, he gives an opening to critics who say he lets Washingtonpush him around. But rejecting American concerns, which some of hisadvisers clearly favor, takes the shine off a relationship that is nowthe centerpiece of Russian foreign policy.
Still, he may feel a little less squeezed by Mr. Bush than he did beforethe recent summit. In Moscow, President Bush showed that he is notdemanding an immediate solution on Iran and won't berate Mr. Putin aboutit in public. And Russia is under less pressure on Iraq while the UnitedStates weighs its options for dealing with Saddam Hussein.
Yet Mr. Putin can't draw much comfort from this reprieve. Having seenthe Clinton-Yeltsin relationship decline, he knows the differencebetween a real partnership and one that limps along with keygeopolitical issues unresolved.
There is a way to ease Mr. Putin's predicament that could help him averta clash with Washington without seeming to embrace American policyoutright: He can close the gap between Russian actions and Russianrhetoric.
If Russian diplomats became unyielding advocates of an exhaustive andunconditional inspections regime in Iraq - and showed they meant it -they would not be doing Washington's bidding but carrying out their ownstated policy. And if Mr. Putin stopped letting the Russiannuclear-power establishment provide dangerous technology to Iran -something he says he opposes - he would only be enforcing officialRussian policy.
Neither Tehran nor Baghdad will like Russian policies that mean whatthey say. Saddam Hussein may retaliate by ending the favoritism Russiancompanies now enjoy. The Iranians may say that if the flow of illicittechnology is cut off they'll cut back their legitimate trade withRussia, too.
Standing up to Russian business interests will carry political costs forMr. Putin. But by doing so, he can enhance American confidence in thenew partnership with Russia - perhaps enough to get Washington todiscuss how Russia's economic sacrifices should be recognized.
Iran and Iraq have taken a toll on Russian-American relations for a longtime. Mr. Putin has a chance to break this pattern. Unless he does, wemay remember the summit for its promise of an alliance that might havebeen - but wasn't.
Stephen Sestanovich is a senior fellow at the Council on ForeignRelations and professor of international diplomacy at Columbia. return to menu
D. Nuclear Waste
1. Russia, Nordic Governments Agree To Build $80 Million Nuclear WasteStorage Facility
June 3, 2002
(for personal use only)
Russia has agreed with the governments of Norway, Finland and Sweden onthe construction of an 80 mln usd nuclear waste storage facility on theisland of Novaya Zemlya off Russia's Arctic coast, Interfax reportedciting Anatoly Yefremov, the governor of Russia's northern Arkhangelskregion.
The storage facility will be used only for storing low andmedium-radioactivity wastes currently located in Arkhangelsk andMurmansk, Yefremov said.
He said the design of the storage facility, which should be completedwithin the next 33 months, would take into account considerations suchas global warming.
The Nordic governments have expressed serious misgivings about theaccumulation of nuclear materials in the Barents Sea, which NovayaZemlya borders. They are also concerned about Russia's decision toimport other countries' atomic wastes for storing or processing, whichthey believe could see Russia become a nuclear dumping ground for therich nations.
Environmentalists have warned that the area around Novaya Zemlya isalready heavily radioactively polluted, in particular with the dumpingof reactors from nuclear vessels, some of them still containing spentfuel. return to menu
2. Risks Seen Reducing Nuclear Forces
London Free Press
June 3, 2002
(for personal use only)
At a lavish Kremlin ceremony last week, U.S. President George W. Bushand his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin signed a landmark accord toslash their strategic nuclear forces by two-thirds over the next decade.
But Russian environmentalists are not cheering. They warn under the newtreaty thousands of atomic warheads will be removed from well-guardedmissile silos and put into storage facilities where notoriously laxsecurity and poor staff discipline will leave them vulnerable toaccidents or theft by terrorists.
"Plutonium stocks are set to skyrocket, but Russia cannot afford tosafely house the 150 tonnes of weapons-grade material it already has,"said Vladimir Chuprov, an expert with Greenpeace-Russia.
"Because of the security nightmare, the nuclear weapons in storage arescarier than those mounted on missiles."
Scattered across Russia's vast hinterland are 52 military storage depotsfor the enriched uranium and plutonium from which nuclear warheads aremade.
The few visitors who have seen these facilities report yawning gaps insecurity and safety procedures, ill-paid and surly staff who are oftendrunk, and virtually no clear accounting for materials in storage.
"The key problem in Russia, which will not be resolved by the currentRussia-U.S. dialogue, is that we have no civilian oversight in thenuclear sphere," said Sergei Yushenkov, deputy head of the State Duma'sSecurity Committee. The Duma is the lower house of Russia's parliament.
"The glimpses we have are very worrisome, but even in the Duma, wecannot get a full picture."
In even worse shape than military installations are hundreds of civilianfacilities around Russia, where security is often non-existent, housingthousands of tones of spent reactor fuel and other nuclear wastes.
Such materials can't be fashioned into atomic weapons but might provideterrorists with the stuff for a so-called "dirty bomb" -- radioactivesubstances wrapped around a conventional explosive -- which couldtrigger mass panic if detonated in an urban area.
"Control over low level nuclear wastes in this country is very weak,"said Dimitry Kovchegin, a nuclear safety specialist at the independentPIR Centre for Policy Studies in Moscow. "It's possible to findradioactive wastes in any city dump. Terrorists could easily acquire themeans to make a dirty bomb in this country. This threat is very, veryreal."
Last February a group of Duma deputies and environmental activistsdramatized the danger by climbing through a broken fence and literallywalking into a medium-security nuclear waste storage centre in Siberia,where they spent six hours beside a building housing 3,000 tonnes ofhighly-radioactive spent reactor fuel.
"I was amazed at how easy it was," said Sergei Mitrokhin, one of thedeputies.
"No one challenged us. Guards walked past us, and never asked who wewere or what we were doing. If we were terrorists, we could have stolenas much material as we wanted."
According to a report issued by Harvard University last week, only about40 per cent of Russia's bomb-grade materials and less than a seventh ofenriched uranium have been secured, despite billions of dollars in U.S.aid.
A key concern is the Russian navy's nuclear submarine fleet, most ofwhich was hastily decommissioned after the demise of the Soviet Union.
At Moscow's Kurchatov Institute, Russia's nuclear nerve centre,specialists are trying to devise ways to quickly dismantle and store thereactors and fuel rods from some 120 nuclear subs, many of which arerusting away in open harbours on Russian naval bases.
"No one could have been prepared for all those ships going out ofservice at the same time like that," said Andrei Gagarinsky, theinstitute's director of research and development.
"There is a huge amount of spent fuel to be dealt with, and the Russiannavy has no funds to ensure security."
About five years ago, he said, a group of sailors in the northern navalbase of Severodvinsk actually hijacked an entire reactor unit from adisabled submarine, complete with fuel rods, hoping to sell it on theblack market.
"Of course they failed," said Gagarinsky. "But there's no doubt thisarea needs a lot of attention."
It is not known how much nuclear material may already have gone missing.The former U.S.S.R. had more than 20,000 strategic and tactical nuclearweapons and as much as 650 tonnes of weapons-grade uranium andplutonium, experts said.
Russia still deploys about 6,000 strategic and 8,000 smaller tacticalwarheads. return to menu
3. Nuclear Energy Ministry Dissatisfied With Environmental Program Funding
June 1, 2002
(for personal use only)
Russia has allocated 136 million rubles over the past two years for theenvironmental rehabilitation program, Russian Nuclear Energyrepresentative Nikolai Shingaryov told Interfax.
According to Shingaryov's estimation, more funds are needed, as the costof the program is six billion rubles. For example, in the U.S. $6-7billion is allocated for a similar program each year, he said.
There are some 40 polluted regions in Russia, he said. The NuclearEnergy Ministry is planning to finance the program out of the money madefrom importing foreign spent nuclear fuel, he said.
Russia's nuclear and radiation safety program was adopted in 2000 forfive years. It has been financed out of the budget since 2001. return to menu
4. 20 Tons Of Radioactive Wastes By Our Side
May 31, 2002
(for personal use only)
Last year Russia made a resolve that shook the world, it allowed importof spent nuclear fuel from other countries. The Atomic Ministrypresented really very convincing arguments that excluded any possibleobjections from the State Duma, Federation Council or Russian Presidenthimself as concerning the problem. The Ministry was really veryconvincing, but it is not always easy to realize words in practice, thisarticle is another confirmation of the fact.
I knew about a unique technology for radioactive metal melting ten yearsago from one of the technology's authors, former director of the SosnobyBor department of the All-Russian research and design institute ofenergy technologies Yeugeny Konstantinov.
He told me then: "Amount of radioactive wastes stored in the country isextremely great. But they are in the dead weight, not processed andconsequently, require more and more financing for maintenance. It is anawful black hole for the economy! We suggest melting as a new way ofnuclear wastes processing."
In Konstantinov's words, melting of metal radioactive wastes is verymuch like a revolution. First of all, after melting nuclear wastes areexpected to reduce several times and consequently require lessradioactive wastes disposals, that are extremely expensive. Second, barsof melted radioactive wastes are less dangerous for storage, asradionuclids are inside the metal in this case. So, melting is a reallygood way to prevent radioactive wastes from leakage because of poorstorage conditions. And finally, Russian scientists discovered aknow-how: if special fusing agents are added to melting furnace, notactive but pure metal can be received as a result.
Several years later, on September 1, 1995, Russia's Government adopted atarget program "Processing and utilization of metal radioactive wastes"based on the melting technology.
A new white two-storied building was built on the premises of theLeningrad nuclear power plant within two years. A unique enterprise, ZAOEcomet-S is the owner of the building. It is Russia's first privatecompany working with radiation technologies. The Ministry of AtomicEnergy target program rates the company the leader in melting ofradioactive metals. What is really very important here is that thecompany managed to attract great investment in the construction, forexample, Gazprom's credit made up over $10 million.
Direction of the Leningrad nuclear power plant stated, it was ready tosupply electricity, water, heat and security to the private company,because it understood importance of the problem.
On October 13, 2000 Deputy Minister of Atomic Energy Valentin Ivanovsigned a resolution #319-P and recommended directors of the Ministry'senterprises to transport radioactive metal to Sosnovy Bor. The Siberianchemical enterprise, Angara electrochemical plant and several otherswere given the instruction.
Head of the Sosnovy Bor ecological and environmental protectiondepartment Natalya Malevannaya says: "The instruction was ratherunexpected for us at that moment, as we thought it was not right to bein command of the city's fate without previous coordination with thelocal authorities. Indeed, problem of spent nuclear fuel at theLeningrad nuclear plant is really pressing enough. Over 30,000 burntfuel installations have piled up at the Gulf of Finland shores. Whenconstruction of the nuclear plant was still in the process, it wassupposed that spent nuclear fuel would be removed from the area forprocessing. But within 25 years since that time no technology for spentfuel processing has been developed by the Ministry of Atomic Energy. TheLeningrad nuclear power plant stores its spent fuel itself and verylikely to do it in the future.
Depositaries of liquid and firm radioactive wastes are filled up at thenuclear power plant. Besides, there are three nuclear test plants inSosnovy Bor. And despite the unfavorable situation in the area, theMinistry decided to deliver spent nuclear fuel right to that place.
Then the Ministry of Atomic Energy suggests that ZAO Ecomet-S can also"process nuclear submarines, ships and other vessels of the RussianNavy." The problem was also discussed at a Leningrad regional governmentsession on January 17, 2002. And the local authorities, once again, seemto be quite unaware of the plans." Natalya Malevannaya also adds, theMinistry violates RF legislation and interests of local population.
Last autumn, October 16, the green movement of Sosnovy Bor kicked up arow when a railway car with 20 tons of radioactive wastes was discoveredat the railway station of Kulische. It was an event that could hardly beimagined several years ago. The radiation made up 15,000 microroentgenan hour, that was 1,000 times more than the natural radiation level.There was no special marking on the car, and passengers boarded onsuburb trains quite nearby.
Oleg Bodrov, chairman of the Green World public charitable organizationsays: "We found out that the dangerous car was delivered to Ecomet-Sfrom Udmurtia with violation of norms, without escorting and necessarydocuments. The Ministry of Atomic Energy took up radioactive smuggling."
In Bodrov's words, freight of a similar kind was delivered to SosnovyBor five times already; and Ecomet-S melted about 160 tons of spentnuclear fuel taken to the city from other places.
So, the reasonable suggestion of scientists turned out to be a greatevil. Why did people agree to process dangerous wastes? Some expertssay, this is because of pure metal that the enterprise gets as a resultof processing. Capacity of the processing line is over 8,000 tons ofmetal bars a year; supply of spent nuclear wastes in Russia is estimatedat 600,000 tons. Great part of the wastes is made up by precious metalsof high refinement degree, like copper, titanium, nickel, high-alloysteel, aluminum.
The mentioned above target program of the Ministry provides for handingof "metal radioactive wastes in ownership of processing enterprises withfollowing burial of secondary wastes." Thus, the technology promisesunbelievable profits for the private company, tens of millions ofdollars every year.
Over the past year Ecomet-S melted about 1,500 tons of wastes, at thetime when reserves of the Leningrad nuclear power plant make up 25,000tons.
A scandal between Ecomet and Leningrad special enterprise Radon, wherewastes of the Leningrad nuclear power plant are stored as well, brokeout 1,5 years ago. The scandal is about opening of Canyon 24 at thebuilding 668 B2 that had been preserved ten years ago. There are Germansilver pipes in the canyon. With its plan to open the canyon Ecomet-S isconcerned more about non-ferrous metals, not radiation safety, directorof the enterprise Radon, Mikhail Yakushev says.
The governmental target program directs Ecomet-S at production ofmelting plants and their installation at the enterprises of the Ministryof Atomic Energy. Over the period of 1998 - 2002 four plants of thiskind are to be produced for processing of up to 35,000 tons of spentnuclear fuel per year, as provided by the Program. This is the way tosolve the problem of Russia's radiation safety.
As of today, not a single plant has been produced by ZAO Ecomet-S.
Citizens of Sosnovy Bor doubt that the unique technology will be usefulfor security. Ecomet-S started construction and test melting against thelegislation, without authorization of an ecological expertise.
As concerning the methods with which the Ministry of Atomic Energyrealizes the target program, it is hardly believed that officialsresorted to improper actions.
Citizens of Sosnovy Bor say, they do not object to Ecomet-S and itstechnologies, but the people are against radioactive smuggling andimport of spent nuclear wastes from other places to the Baltic shores.The target program is to be realized legally, they think. return to menu
E. Nuclear Power Industry
1. The Programme Of Adopting U.S. Nuclear Fuel For Ukrainian N-Plants Is"An Experiment With An Open Result", Official Said
May 31, 2002
(for personal use only)
On May 25-28, 2002 talks were held in Moscow between the delegations ofUkrainian Ministry of Fuel and Energy, headed by Nikolay Shteinberg, theministry's Sub-Secretary of State, and Russian Ministry for AtomicEnergy (Minatom), headed by Bulat Nigmatulin, the Deputy Minister. Asource in Minatom told Nuclear.Ru that one of the issues discussed wasusing U.S. fresh nuclear fuel produced by Westinghouse at UkrainianNPPs. According to local media, the South-Ukrainian nuclear power plantwill begin experimental use of six Westinghouse-supplied fuel cartridgesat reactor No. 3 next year. If tests prove successful after one year,Ukraine could buy as many as 42 fuel cartridges from Westinghouse.
A member of the Ukrainian delegation, clarifying the situation, claimedthat the programme of adopting the U. S. nuclear fuel is "an experimentwith an open result". Even if the tests are completed successfully, hesaid, this fuel would not be competitive in the current economicsituation for its prime cost is half as high as the cost of the Russianfuel. However, the project has being developed just in case "a forcemajeur situation takes place when deliveries of fresh nuclear fuel fromRussia become impossible", the official said. Yet the Ukrainian-Americanco-operation programme does not influence the current payments for fueldeliveries. "They [he Ukrainian part] have been making all the paymentsregularly and carefully," the source stressed. return to menu
1. Alexander Yakovenko, The Official Spokesman Of Russia's Ministry OfForeign Affairs, Answers A Question From The Kyodo Tsushin News AgencyRegarding The Statements By Leading Japanese Politicians About ThePreparedness Of The Leadership Of Japan To Review Its "Three FundamentalNon-Nuclear Principles" In The Future
Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
June 2, 2002
Question: Please comment on the statements of leading Japanesepoliticians, including Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda, made on May31 at a press conference in Tokyo, to the effect that the leadership ofJapan is prepared to review the country's "three fundamental non-nuclearprinciples" in the future and for the purposes of self-defense to arm itwith nuclear weapons. These statements have already caused a wave ofprotests from opposition parties.
Answer: Proclaimed by the Japanese parliament, the "three non-nuclearprinciples" over the course of many years were positively regarded inthe world as evidence of the realistic character of the foreign policyof Japan.
The current statement of the official spokesman of the Government ofJapan about a possible review in the future of these principles arousesan understandable concern. Japan - a large world power, the only victimof atomic bombings - was always in the front ranks of the supporters ofnuclear disarmament. Now that this problem has assumed specialrelevance, and leading nuclear powers are taking steps in the directionof reducing their nuclear capabilities, such statements by Japan'sofficial spokesmen, in our view, do not contribute to the strengtheningof the nonproliferation regime and look an obvious anachronism. return to menu
2. U.S.-Russian Relations In The Post-Post-Cold War World (Excerpted)
Ambassador Richard N. Haass
US Department of State
June 1, 2002
Integration is also essential to Russia's security. As a Europeannation, Russia has much to gain from fully normalizing its relationswith the individual nations and multilateral institutions of Europe.Russia needs stability, including the absence of security concerns inits front yard, and the related opportunity for growing economicinteractions with Europe. Thus, it is not surprising that Russia placesa high priority on building political and economic relationships withthe EU and its individual member states.
The shared American, Russian, and European interest in Russia'sintegration was on display earlier this week in Rome, where theNATO-Russia Council was launched. The Council represents a new era inNATO-Russia relations through a new level of Russian involvement inEuropean security. As a start, the Council will focus its efforts in the areas of counter-terrorism, crisismanagement and peacekeeping, non-proliferation, theater missile defense,search and rescue at sea, military-to military cooperation, and defensereform. Successes on this challenging agenda should open the door toadditional areas for cooperation.
New bodies are important, but the real test will be whether this Forumcan progress from a "talk shop" to an "action shop." It is now up toRussia and the NATO members to make this new mechanism a serious vehiclefor enhanced cooperation and joint action in areas where Russia and theAlliance have traditionally been reluctant to work together.
Russia, the United States, and Europe have also begun to join forceswith other like-minded nations to promote shared objectives outside theborders of Europe. President Putin's response to September 11 has helpedcreate a strong base of cooperation in fighting terrorism around theglobe. The three of us, along with the United Nations, are cooperatingclosely on the Middle East in the "Madrid Quartet." The United States,Russia, France, and Britain also worked closely together in the UNSecurity Council to agree on a revised "smart sanctions" regime forIraq.
U.S.-Russian relations are of course still evolving from a Cold Warrelationship dominated by efforts to prevent what we could do to oneanother to a new post-post-Cold War one based on promoting what we cando with each other. In the process, Russia and the United States areslowly moving away from a relationship that was centered on bilateralissues, first and foremost the prevention of nuclear war. To the extentthe United States and Russia are still engaging in bilateral armscontrol, like the Treaty of Moscow, it is largely to manage thestrategic relationship in a period of transition marked by continuingnuclear reductions and the likely introduction of limited ballisticmissile defenses. Beyond that, arms control efforts are focused onpreventing Cold War stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction fromgetting into the wrong hands or damaging the environment. Obviously, theUnited States and Russia must deal with the political and physicalresidue of the Cold War. But, just as RAND increasingly is devotingfewer resources to traditional nuclear security issues and more topolitical and economic issues, so too will this be true for theU.S.-Russian relationship.
The United States and Russia have not quite arrived at the day whentheir leaders meet and no one calls it a "summit" -- when it's just aregular consultation about bilateral relations and how to cope withregional and global challenges. We don't call Bush-Blair meetingssummits, nor do they require major agreements and so-called"deliverables" to be deemed successful. When the same can be said abouta meeting between the American and Russian Presidents, it will be asmall but telling indicator of an increasingly normalized relationshipbetween the two countries.
We are moving on a broad agenda of engagement with Russia. At Washingtonand Crawford, the Presidents announced their intention to shape a newU.S.-Russia relationship. The Moscow summit shows we are moving out inthe direction the Presidents laid down: They signed a strategicoffensive reductions treaty and agreed to cooperate on missile defense;pledged to further develop economic interaction, including privatesector-led business and a banking dialogue; launched a new energydialogue; expanded their counterterrorism cooperation; and reaffirmedthe importance of people-to-people links.
The United States and Russia have an opportunity to do even moretogether. Indeed, the most important and challenging task at this stageis to define a long-term positive agenda for the bilateral relationship.It has to be about more than eliminating old Cold War threats andfighting terrorism, important as those are. The relationship must bebased on new opportunities for cooperation.
Another area for cooperation is Central Asia, where the United Statesand Russia have a shared interest in the economic reconstruction ofAfghanistan, in halting drug and weapons trafficking, and more broadlyin promoting stability, moderation, trade and development. It seems tome that assuring Russia a prominent role in the economic reconstructionof this region could go a long way towards alleviating Moscow's concernsabout the growing U.S. military presence there.
The United States, Europe and Russia together can address the large anddemanding multilateral agenda that extends beyond Europe. I am talkingabout managing regional crises such as those in the Middle East andSouth Asia; tackling transnational challenges such as HIV/AIDS, drugs,and human trafficking; cooperating in the field of bioterrorism andbiodefense; addressing the threat of proliferation of weapons of massdestruction and the means to deliver them, including joint work ontheater missile defenses; and strengthening institutions in Europe andAsia that promote political stability and economic prosperity.
The Joint Declaration adopted at last week's Summit provides just such arich agenda for what it terms "a relationship based on friendship,cooperation, common values, trust, openness, and predictability."
However, as Americans and Russians look for new areas of cooperation,both sides must be realistic. The U.S.-Russian relationship has sufferedtoo often from inflated expectations and subsequent disappointment. Thiswas certainly the case in the early years of America's relationship withnewly independent Russia.
Even today, differences undoubtedly will continue in areas such astrade, non-proliferation policy, human rights, and Chechnya. But theUnited States and Russia will have to manage such differences so theydon't swamp cooperation elsewhere.
Among the most difficult issues are Iraq and its weapons programs, Iran,and North Korea. America's and Russia's historical experiences with eachof these countries are very different, so it is not surprising to finddifferences in outlook. Full and open dialogue about them is thus evenmore important. In some cases, the United States and Russia may be ableto work jointly toward a mutually desired outcome. On others, we maydiffer with
Russia. But the ability to discuss and exchange views should be betternow than it has been for a very long time.
Finally, Russia must do more to defuse the largest potential and actualsecurity threat emanating from Russia today -- its remaining Cold Warstocks of weapons of mass destruction, the means for their delivery, andrelated technology and expertise. We will keep cooperating with Russiato eliminate, safeguard and control this material and know-how to keepit from getting into the wrong hands.
But the potential for theft of these dangerous materials is only part ofthe problem. We continue to have concerns about the proliferation ofweapons and missile technology from Russia, be it government-sanctionedor not, in particular to Iran. It will be important to expanding ourcooperative relationship that we see movement toward resolving thisproblem.
In the economic arena, the EU is deepening its interactions with Russia,and both the EU and the United States are working with Russia to help itmeet the criteria necessary for WTO membership. Assuming the UnitedStates and Russia can get past the poultry dispute, we expect thatCongress will lift the Jackson-Vanik trade restrictions still in placefrom the era when Soviet Jews were prohibited from emigrating to Israel.Creditors also need to find creative new ways to help Russia deal withits Soviet-era debt. The debt-swap program whereby we will write offsome of the Soviet era debt in exchange for Russia spending the savingson non-proliferation and threat reduction programs inside Russia is oneexample whereby everyone benefits.
DISCLAIMER: Nuclear News is presented for informational purposes only.Views presented in any given article are those of the individual authoror source and not of RANSAC. RANSAC takes no responsibility for thetechnical accuracy of information contained in any article presented inNuclear News.