In Russia, crate loads full of fences, sophisticated surveillanceequipment, motion detectors and other security devices purchased by theUS government to help improve the security of nearly 123 Russian nuclearwarhead storage facilities are sitting, unopened, collecting dust.
These security supplies were furnished under Nunn-Lugar act - also knownas the Cooperative Threat Reduction act (CTR) - which has spentapproximately $5 billion the past decade of its existence to upgradesecurity around a third of Russia's weapons grade plutonium and uranium.It has also dismantled or destroyed more than 5,000 Soviet warheads,along with hundreds of ballistic missiles, bombers, submarines andsilos.
Specifically, these stranded protection devices were paid for by theMaterials, Protection, Cooperation and Accounting (MPC&A) program - oneof many non-proliferation programs run by the US Department of Energy(DOE). The MPC&A, in particular, is the United States' flagship effortto secure, control and account for weapons-usable nuclear material inthe former Soviet Union.
For fiscal year 2003, the Bush administration has requested a total of$233 million for the MPC&A program - a figure that would have beenconsiderably lower had it not been for September 11, according to arecent report on the US administration's non-proliferation budgetpublished by the Russian American Nuclear Security Advisory Council(RANSAC), a private organization that advises the two governments.Indeed, the Bush White House only requested $173 million for theprogramme in 2002, but when Congress passed a supplemental fundingpackage that gave MPC&A another $120 million in September 11'saftermath.
Protection vs. paperwork
MPC&A also has quietly become something of a political battlefield amongwarring hard line bureaucracies in Russia and the United States, and thefences and security equipment for Russian warhead sites are the spoils.
The fences and security equipment lay untouched because of jointbureaucratic ineptitude on the part of the Pentagon and Moscow whichboth have their own abstruse, pedantic points to make about futurenon-proliferation activities in Russia, analysts suggest.
The Pentagon says it would be happy to help put the fences up, but itshands are tied by a US federal Law - the Federal Acquisitions andRegulations act (FAR), which prevents the US government from paying forwork it can't inspect. There is also no shortage of Pentagon hardliners- many of whom who would torpedo CTR over a long held view thatsubsidizing weapons destruction in Russia frees up money the Kremlin candivert to weapons development programmes.
On the other side, Russia says it can't pay workers to install theequipment. Plus, the Russians don't want inspection teams from thePentagon run CTR at the top-secret facilities where the securitypackages were headed. A source at Russia's Federal Security Service -the government counterintelligence service known as the FSB - toldBellona Web that the shipments could be packed with spy equipment.
To cut through this red tape, there were even discussions of simplyallowing a Polaroid photograph of someone to stand in front of a newlyinstalled fence holding a current newspaper to suffice as proof for thePentagon that the equipment had been installed, former and current CTRand DOE officials told Bellona Web.
The problem of the unopened crates was confirmed by these sameofficials, as well as by a US Government Acquisitions Office report, andit must be noted that such snags are an exception. Approximately a thirdof Russia's weapons-grade and plutonium security has been upgradedthanks to Nunn-Lugar. But there's still enough weapons-grade uranium andplutonium, in more than 100 buildings Nunn-Lugar experts have never madesecurity upgrades to, to make thousands of nuclear weapons.
Indeed, former Senator Sam Nunn and Nunn-Lugar other-author, said at agathering of arms specialists in Moscow last week that CTR has avoidedsuch bureaucratic standoffs in 90 percent to 95 percent of the cases.
Despite the program's successes, much remained to be done, said Sen.Richard Lugar, the other author of Nunn-Lugar act, at the Moscowgathering: Only 40 percent of Russia's nuclear storage sites havereceived US assistance to upgrade security, and new security systems hadbeen installed in only 20 percent.
In the face of such figures, the crated fence problem is absurd, but ithighlights the mindless roadblocks that are also a part of Nunn-Lugar,which show no signs of abating even after September 11.
''That's an example of bureaucratic obstacles we have in this program,''former Senator Sam Nunn said in reference to the fence hold-up at theMoscow gathering, which was arranged by the non-governmental NuclearThreat Initiative, or NTI, which was founded by Nunn and media mogul TedTurner, who pledged $250 the endeavour million over the next five years- the most money a private citizen has ever invested innon-proliferation.
Nunn said he could not give any more details about the location US andRussian lawmakers of the stranded shipments.
US White House Schizophrenia jeopardizes inspections
What so frustrates RANSAC's Kenneth Luongo about the fence hold-up goesback to the Bush Administration's decision in March to not certify theNunn-Lugar programmes - which derailed any opportunities in theforeseeable future - to get those fences up.
By US law, CTR must be reviewed by the Pentagon annually to determinethat Russia is 'committed' to its CTR obligations. This spring, theprogramme was not certified over questions of Russia's openness aboutchemical and biological stockpiles and over the Kremlin's refusal toshare information about certain Soviet strains of bio-engineeredAnthrax.
This has led not only to a six to eight month lag time while congressdevelops a waiver granting the president the right to forgocertification, but also may have scratched for good an invitation fromthe Kremlin to CTR officials - an invitation US officials had tries tosolicit for years - to inspect eight sensitive sites that would havereceived some of those dusty security crates.
According to Luongo, there is no firm knowledge that US inspectionsteams actually visited the sites. But he did say that the Russians hadquietly offered an invitation, which was quashed as soon as the Bushadministration ground CTR activities to a halt by deciding againstcertification.
"After six, seven, eight years, finally it's coming to fruition, andthese guys pull the plug to make an ideological point," said Luongo in atelephone interview.
"You know, where are we? It's the triumph of politics or polemics overpracticality. Okay, you've made you political and rhetorical point aboutthe Russians not making accurate declaration aboutCW and BW, so lets try to work on this problem - but in the meantimeyou've got this problem of warhead security which is being impeded."
Luongo added that there have always been questions about the accuracy ofRussia's reporting on it CW and BW stockpiles, but "we have been willingto work with them on this side in order to keep the main thrust of theCTR programme moving forward."
The invitation to inspect the sites was hard-won and may never come upagain. Even if the Russians were to re-extend it within the next weeks -while Congress debates what sort of waiver to grant the president -Luongo said the American defence bureaucracy wouldn't allow inspectionteams to go. In short, nothing can happen until a waiver is approved.
Bush antagonism of CTR
Luongo added that the Bush Administration's antagonism of Nunn-Lugarbegan as soon as he took office with budget slashing plans in hand.After Sept. 11, though, Congress reversed the cut, freeing up $135million in supplemental funding for the for the US-Russian proliferationprogramme.
"Then the Bush administration makes an announcement right after thesupplemental was passed saying 'sorry this wasn't on our screen so nextyear we're going to pay more attention to it and increase the budget,'"said Luongo. "
"So, this year they put together a decent budget and then they sabotagedthemselves by doing this certification."
Luongo said that there is "tension" within the administration aboutthese non-proliferation programmes - tension which is brought out inbold relief whenever Bush takes the podium, as he did at the may summit,to speak of "eliminating the legacy of the cold war."
"It is absurd on it s face to make a statement like that and then turnaround and then not do anything to break this programme free from thecurrent constraints that its under, "Luogo said incredulously."Liquidating the legacy of the cold war IS what the CTR program IS allabout."
As to the question of the waiver, a House of Representatives bill haspassed through to the Senate that would grant the president the right topass a waiver for certification this year only. The Senate is alsoconsidering its own two versions of the bill, both of which would makethe waiver permanent.
But why certification was declined to begin with - thus setting inmotion several months worth of US Government machinery to churn out thewaiver - is a question that points most analysts to Pentagon hard lineelements that have President Bush's ear.
"I believe the request [to see information pertaining to Russia's bio-and chemical weapons programs] was made, in part, because they knew theRussians would refuse," Jon Wolfsthal, a former DOE official now at theCarnegie Endowment told Bellona Web.
"What you've got is a bunch of ideologues saying the Russians owe usthis information," saidLuongo. "They're being pushed on by the intelligence agencies who havesome kid of axe to grind on this question, I assume, and they decidednot to certify."
But the final point, in Luongo's view, is being made with the pedantryonly pencil pushers can appreciate.
"The politics of this waiver are not comprehendible," he said. [They're]putting at risk real security improvements for the sake of paperdocumentation, which you're never going to be able to verify to 100percent anyway." return to menu
2. Russia Holds Anti-Terror Exercise
June 6, 2002
(for personal use only)
Russian authorities held a security exercise at a chemical weapons depotin central Russia to practice emergency procedures in case of aterrorist attack, officials said Thursday.
Police, security agents, weapons experts and health officials dealt withan imaginary terrorist attack on a chemical weapons facility in the townof Kambarka in the Udmurtia autonomous republic, Russia's EmergencySituations Ministry said in a statement.
The exercise emphasized coordination between law enforcement and medicalworkers to provide rapid treatment and evacuation of residents who couldbecome exposed to chemicals in the event of an accident or attack, thestatement said. The exercise also tested how to contain any chemicalspill or explosion as quickly and safely as possible.
U.S. officials have warned repeatedly about the dangers of poor securityat Russia's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons facilities - andthe possibility of international terrorists either getting their handson weapons material or staging an attack at a poorly guarded facility.
The U.S. Nunn-Lugar program has spent billions of dollars to improvesecurity at weapons storage sites in Russia and other former Sovietrepublics, but U.S. officials say only a fraction of Russia's weaponssites have sufficient safeguards in place. return to menu
B. Nuclear Terrorism
1. The Unthinkable Isn't Inevitable
Thomas J. Bray
Wall Street Journal
June 4, 2002
(for personal use only)
As if John Q. Public needed any help obsessing about what the nextterrorist strike might look like, "The Sum of All Fears" is now playingat a theater near you. The movie's most shocking scene is a nuclearblast annihilating a Super Bowl crowd in Baltimore.
The timing is uncanny. India and Pakistan seem to be at the brink ofnuclear war over a place called Kashmir. And several weeks ago, New YorkTimes columnist Bill Keller reported on his research into thepossibility that terrorists might get their hands either on a crudenuclear weapon or enough material to build a "dirty" bomb that couldshower radioactive material over a wide area.
"Experts on terrorism and proliferation agree on one thing," assertedthe Times headline. "Sooner or latter, an attack will happen here. Whenand how is what robs them of sleep."
If true, that is certainly something to lose sleep over. Mr. Kellerasked an environmental scientist to estimate the death toll from a farsmaller device exploded in Times Square. The answer: 20,000 dead in amatter of seconds in the immediate blast area alone. The far biggerbombs dropped on Japan killed an estimated 90,000 to 140,000 inHiroshima (population 310,000) and 60,000 to 80,000 in Nagasaki(population 250,000) from blast effects and acute radiation poisoning.
"The best reason for thinking it won't happen is that it hasn't happenedyet, and that is terrible logic," concludes Mr. Keller.
But is it? Surely the fact that nobody has done such a thing yet exceptAmerica in a time of all out war--when military authorities rationallypredicted an even bigger toll if we were to invade Japan--carries somesignificance. The technology is easily accessible, we are told. And it'snot as if there has been any lack of enraged, marginalized people aroundwho might want to inflict extreme violence on the U.S. (or otherpowers). What's holding the terrorists back?
Perhaps it's just that nukes aren't as easy to make or deliver ascommonly feared. But perhaps it's because terrorists themselvescalculate that their purposes can be served by using cheaper, lower techweapons, which we now know include suicide aircraft. The term terroristis often used synonymously with the word madman, as if terrorists wereirrational and thus characterized by deranged behavior. President Bush'sis right, of course, to describe al Qaeda and other such groups as evil,but that doesn't mean they're crazy.
Truly deranged people have a hard time acting in an organized fashion.They may be able to attract a few likeminded accomplices--think of JohnWilkes Booth or Timothy McVeigh--but they seldom are capable of mountingthe sort of organization that can put together something assophisticated as a nuclear research program. If they do, they soondevelop an "address," as Osama bin Laden has learned. In addition,sophisticated organizations also tend to think about risks and benefits.Why blow up tens of thousands and risk retaliatory fury when you cankeep a society off balance and demoralized--the real point of politicalterrorism--with far less?
Moreover, wanton slaughter has other untoward effects, from theterrorist point of view. The attack on the World Trade Center, whichapparently wreaked even more destruction than Osama intended, served tounite American society to a degree not seen since Pearl Harbor. It alsobrought America a good deal of sympathy, not to mention valuablemilitary and logistical support, from countries around the world.
The most likely use of nuclear material, experts say, might be in theform of a "dirty bomb," triggered by conventional explosives, thatspreads radioactive material over a substantial area. After a generationof trial-lawyer propaganda about how the least bit of pollution canpoison whole regions for generations to come, this would doubtlesscreate a tidal wave of panic. And for those who are directly exposed,the results could indeed be grisly.
But, again, it's hard to see how a terrorist cause would be advanced bysuch a terrible act. In fact, we already know a lot more aboutradiological dangers than we used to--and not all of that information iscause for pessimism, though you may not find out about it in your localpaper.
The biggest nuclear event of our time--the 1986 accident atChernobyl--led to the release of radiation hundreds of times as intenseas at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This did cause widespread panic anddisruption, but to date there have been only 30 deaths and an elevatedrisk of thyroid cancer, which can be prevented or reduced with iodine ifidentified in time.
Long-term data from a joint U.S.-Japan study of 80,000 people whosurvived the initial blasts and massive radiation exposure in theHiroshima and Nagasaki bombings also is yielding some surprisingresults. As of 1990, according to the Radiation Effects ResearchLaboratory Web site, the "excess" death toll from cancers attributableto radiation--over and above the 4,900 cancer fatalities that would benormal in a Japanese population that size--was a grand total of428--even though those studied were within about a mile and a half ofground zero at the time of bombing and were exposed to an average doseof 0.16 gray--80 times as high as the natural background level of 0.002gray. (A gray is a common measure of the amount of energy from ionizingradiation deposited in tissues.)
One obviously shouldn't minimize either the risk or the effects of anuclear attack. The Sept. 11 attack would have seemed implausible onSept. 10, and the anthrax attacks threw Washington and much of the restof the country for a severe loop with far less loss of life--though theyalso taught us much about how to cope with such an event.
But Americans have always been more than the sum of their fears. And ifSept. 11 taught us something about the vulnerability of an open society,it has also taught us something about its strengths--as well as thevulnerabilities of terrorists. One of our strengths is a willingness tothink the unthinkable and then to cope with the unthinkable when ithappens. But it is not terrible logic to think that because somethinghasn't happened, there might be valid reasons it won't. return to menu
2. Analysis: Weapon Cut May Not Be Good Thing
United Press International
June 3, 2002
(for personal use only)
The U.S.-Russian agreement to slash their nuclear weapons arsenals bytwo-thirds is A Good Thing, right? On the contrary, it may prove to be aVery Bad Thing, especially for the United States, and quite possibly forRussian President Vladimir Putin, too.
A statement like that amount to blasphemy both on the right and whatremains of the left in U.S. politics. On the left, arms control and theneed to slash nuclear weapons arsenals between the United States and theSoviet Union -- since 1992, with Russia has been a article of faith formore than 40 years. On the left, arms control is not a policy or even amantra, it is a fanatically held religious faith.
The right has always sneered at such things. To Reaganites -- andespecially the neo conservatives whose influence dominates the Pentagon-- any arms control agreement has always been a Sell-Out and a Munichthat will leave America defenseless. But they are not cheering this one.Indeed, two of their greatest champions, Under Secretary of State JohnBolton and Under Secretary of Defense Douglas Feith, negotiated it. Andthey agreed to the scrapping of more nuclear arms than in any previousarms control agreement in history. What gives?
Bolton and Feith pushed for this arms control agreement because they areconvinced that this is not an arms control agreement at all. It is -- bydeliberate U.S. intent -- an arms control agreement without teeth. Thereare no serious provisions whatsoever in the agreement for the kind ofserious verification procedures that were the backbone of the SALT,START-I and START-II Treaties. Neo-conservatives and other Republicanhawks always used to argue that those verification procedures would justtie America's hands while the Russians would cheat and break themanyone. So why sign a treaty that has no serious inspection orverification procedures in place at all?
The reason is that Bolton and Feith, with the full blessing of PresidentGeorge W. Bush, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and DeputySecretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, came with the opposite purpose inmind., They came, as William Shakespeare's character Mark Anthony put itin the play "Julius Caesar," not to praise arms control but to bury it.
No verification procedures on Russia also mean no verificationprocedures on the United States. And that, the Bushies believe, willgive them a free hand to use America's vast technological and resourcebase superiority to push ahead with developing and deploying newgenerations of nuclear and anti-missile technologies that neither theRussians -- nor anyone else -- can hope to match. Better, they believe ahollow shell of an arms control treaty that defuses annoying publicpressure on them to come up with the real thing.
The new agreed cuts to an unprecedented low level of "only" 1,700 to2,200 deliverable warheads on either side. But the proposed mechanismfor the cuts will be just unilateral cuts by both the U.S. and Russiangovernments in their own stockpiles.
The START-I and START-2 treaties contained hundreds of pages ofintricate details specifying the weapons to be dismantled and how thiswould be done. They went into obsessive detail about what monitoring andinspection procedures would be in place each side to be assured that theother was not cheating on such matters of thermonuclear life and death.The new treaty airily glides over these thorny issues in a couple ofpages.
Nor does the new treaty tackle the continuing question of nuclear wasteand the environmental and security problems it raises. Reaganite hawksand neo-cons have always regarded such issues as of concern only forliberal wimps, not real men. But since the Sept. 11 terroristdestruction of the World Trade Center twin towers in New York City withhijacked airliners, those issues have moved to center stage. And the newtreaty will make them far worse rather than better.
In both Russia and the United States, security control and environmentalsafeguards over nuclear waste have been far poorer than the safeguardsmaintained over actual nuclear weapons. Several catastrophicenvironmental disasters occurred in the former Soviet Union over thepast half century as a result.
In the United States, federal investigators have concluded thatterrorist cells connected to Osama bin Laden, accused mastermind of theSept. 11 attacks, were exploring ways of stealing nuclear waste fromU.S. dumps to use as weapons of mass destruction.
Now that the nuclear arms cuts have been agreed, these problems will bevastly increased, creating major new headaches for both Moscow andWashington. The nuclear material from thousands of warheads in Russiaand the United States will no longer be stored in warheads atop missilesin maximum-security establishments continually guarded by the most eliteand effective security forces in both nations.
Instead, they will be either stored or the fissionable material in themdumped disposal sites were security has in the past been patchy at bestand often derisory, with minimum oversight. It is an open secret in theU.S. Federal Government that administrative procedures and securitystandards at Department of Energy nuclear installations and dumps havelong been a hideous joke.
The great debate over the wisdom or recklessness of the strategic armsreduction treaties made sense throughout the Cold War when the UnitedStates and the Soviet Union were ideological enemies and superpowerrivals with no other nuclear armed enemy to seriously threaten either ofthem.
But the new 21st century world that exploded into hideous reality onSept. 11, 2001, is a very different place. Now the greatest threat byfar to the United States is not the Russian nuclear weapons arsenal --as long it stays firmly under the control of a Russian leadership notbent on nuclear war with the West. It is the acquisition of such weaponsby terror groups like bin Laden's al Qaida, who would use them toincinerate U.S. cities like New York or Washington with as littlecompunction as they would fire an aerosol to kill flies. The new nucleartreaty, by removing so much weapons-grade nuclear material from highestsecurity military oversight to sloppy, ill regulated storage and dumpingfacilities on both sides, makes that a lot more likely than less.
It has also outraged Russian military leaders, who believe that Putinand his defense minister, Sergei Ivanov, bowed to U.S. dictates on theagreement. And it has therefore added to the already worryingly highlevel of anti-U.S. sentiments among policymakers in Moscow. Thecomfortable and complacent assumption among Bush policymakers inWashington has been that these sentiments do not matter. But if Putin isunexpectedly toppled or -- more likely -- simply changes direction, theywould matter a lot.
In the short term, the new nuclear treaty is excellent politics forPresident Bush and it gives his Pentagon high tech hawks the go-ahead topush ahead towards realizing their Star Wars dreams while convenientlygutting and burying arms control along the way. But they should notcelebrate too soon -- although they will. By winning a free hand forthemselves, they have guaranteed a free hand for everyone else too. return to menu
1. Russian Nuclear Roulette
Stephen F. Cohen
June 25, 2001
(for personal use only)
A baccalaureate should be an occasion to celebrate the present andexpress optimism about the future, but I must come to you today withvery bad news about Russia, my subject of study, and therefore withgreat alarm about the future. If America's post-cold war triumphalismhas led you to believe we are now safer than we were before, I recommendan adage Russians use only partly in jest: "An optimist is an uninformedpessimist."
The bad news is this: Because of what has happened in Russia since theend of the Soviet Union ten years ago, you are graduating into a worldmore dangerous than ever before. For the first time in history, a fullynuclearized nation is in a process of collapse. The result ispotentially catastrophic.
Most of Russia's essential infrastructures--economic, social,technological--are in various stages of disintegration. The state isvirtually bankrupt, unable to reinvest in those foundations or evenregularly pay the wages and pensions of its own people. The country hasbeen assetipped, impoverished and left on the verge of a"demographic apocalypse," as a Moscow newspaper recently termed it.Technology is breaking down everywhere, from electricity and heating tosatellites.
In these and other ways, Russia has been plunging back into thenineteenth century. And, as a result, it has entered the twenty-firstcentury with its twentieth-century systems of nuclear maintenance andcontrol also in a state of disintegration.
What does this mean? No one knows fully because nothing like this hasever happened before in a nuclear country. But one thing is certain:Because of it, we now live in a nuclear era much less secure than wasthe case even during the long cold war. Indeed, there are at least fourgrave nuclear threats in Russia today:
There is, of course, the threat of proliferation, the only onegenerally acknowledged by our politicians and media--the danger thatRussia's vast stores of nuclear material and know-how will fall intoreckless hands.
But, second, scores of ill-maintained Russian reactors on land and ondecommissioned submarines--with the destructive capacity of nuclearweapons--are explosions waiting to happen.
Third, also for the first time in history, there is a civil war in anuclear land--in the Russian territory of Chechnya, where fanatics onboth sides have threatened to resort to nuclear warfare.
And most immediate and potentially catastrophic, there is Russia'sdecrepit early-warning system. It is supposed to alert Moscow if USnuclear missiles have been launched at Russia, enabling the Kremlin toretaliate immediately with its own warheads, which like ours remain eventoday on hairtrigger alert. The leadership has perhaps ten to twentyminutes to evaluate the information and make a decision. That doomsdaywarning system has nearly collapsed--in May, a fire rendered inoperablefour more of its already depleted satellite components--and become aform of Russian nuclear roulette, a constant danger of false alarms andaccidental launches against the United States.
How serious are these threats? In the lifetime of this graduating class,the bell has already tolled at least four times. In 1983 a SovietRussian satellite mistook the sun's reflection on a cloud for anincoming US missile. A massive retaliatory launch was only barelyaverted. In 1986 the worst nuclear reactor explosion in history occurredat the Soviet power station at Chernobyl. In 1995 Russia's early-warningsystem mistook a Norwegian research rocket for an American missile, andagain a nuclear attack on the United States was narrowly averted. Andjust last summer, Russia's most modern nuclear submarine, the Kursk,exploded at sea.
Think of these tollings as chimes on a clock of nuclear catastropheticking inside Russia. We do not know what time it is. It may be onlydawn or noon. But it may already be dusk or almost midnight.
The only way to stop that clock is for Washington and Moscow toacknowledge their overriding mutual security priority and cooperatefully in restoring Russia's economic and nuclear infrastructures, mosturgently its early-warning system. Meanwhile, all warheads on both sideshave to be taken off high-alert, providing days instead of minutes toverify false alarms. And absolutely nothing must be done to cause Moscowto rely more heavily than it already does on its fragile nuclearcontrols.
These solutions seem very far from today's political possibilities.US-Russian relations are worse than they have been since the mid-1980s.The Bush Administration is threatening to expand NATO to Russia'sborders and to abrogate existing strategic arms agreements by creating aforbidden missile defense system. Moscow threatens to build more nuclearweapons in response.
Hope lies in recognizing that there are always alternatives in historyand politics--roads taken and not taken. Little more than a decade ago,Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, along with President Ronald Reagan andthe first President George Bush, took a historic road toward ending theforty-year cold war and reducing the nuclear dangers it left behind. Buttheir successors, in Washington and Moscow, have taken different roads,ones now littered with missed opportunities.
If the current generation of leaders turns out to lack the wisdom orcourage, and if there is still time, it may fall to your generation tochoose the right road. Such leaders, or people to inform their visionand rally public support, may even be in this graduating class.
Whatever the case, when the bell warning of impending nuclearcatastrophe tolls again in Russia, as it will, know that it is tollingfor you, too. And ask yourselves in the determined words attributed toGorbachev, which remarkably echoed the Jewish philosopher Hillel, "Ifnot now, when? If not us, who?" return to menu
2. Looking Back on One Hell of a Summit
June 10, 2002
(for personal use only)
Isn't it a huge improvement that we've agreed to take about 7,000nuclear warheads off ballistic missiles? Because soon we'll have just4,400 warheads aimed at each other, which is a completely differentstory.
Before, we could each destroy about 5,500 targets in the other'scountry. But in about 10 years we'll each only be able to destroy atmost 2,200 targets. Phew, what a relief!
So for Russia, a nuclear exchange will soon mean at most losing Moscow,St. Petersburg, Murmansk, Vladivostok, Omsk, Tomsk, Perm, Yekaterinburg,Vladikavkaz, Oryol, Ryazan, Pyatigorsk, Magnitogorsk, Lipetsk,Arkhangelsk and about 2,185 other targets.
And the worst America can expect going toe-to-toe with the Russkies willbe to lose New York, Washington, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Houston,San Francisco, Boston, Seattle, Denver, Dallas, Des Moines, Cleveland,Juneau, Philadelphia, and about 2,185 more targets.
Granted, no one is planning to go toe-to-toe with anyone. And even ifone did, there are few scenarios in which one launches all one'smissiles, because those sneaky Chinese are still out there, so somenukes would be held back. Others might fail, or hit targets at sea.
Then again, even if a few dozen of our 4,400 nukes were exchanged, itwould be enough to cause unprecedented panic and death across vastswathes of our national territories.
So thank goodness for the summit.
True, not much was done about hundreds of missiles left on hair-triggeralert. Should early-warning systems report an incoming attack, the U.S.government allows itself a healthy 22 minutes to decide whether to nukethe enemy. The Russian government allows itself six minutes. There wasthat time in 1995 when Norway launched a scientific rocket and PresidentBoris Yeltsin was warned the United States might be attacking. But thatturned out all right in the end. As did the fire last May that cutRussia off from four of its military satellites.
And then there are those, ahem, other warheads, the ones not loaded onmissiles, like those "suitcase nukes" once described by the late GeneralAlexander Lebed as "missing." We didn't hear much about them at thesummit, but all told they come to another 23,000 or so. (No one knowsfor sure: The Cold War practice was to count and admit to missiles, notwarheads.)
Had our leaders put our collective arsenals on the table, they couldhave discussed a total of 33,500 nuclear weapons -- 11,000 of themAmerican and 22,500 or so of them Russian, according to theWashington-based Arms Control Association. (To put it into perspective,runner-up China has about 400 nukes, 250 of them loaded on missiles,according to the Center for Defense Information.)
Reducing this collective 33,000-plus warhead arsenal would have beensmart and responsible. Few insist we need such a stockpile and manymilitary experts argue we could do with far less. A BrookingsInstitution study three years ago asserted the United States could getby with just 200 nukes. (Russians eager to go toe-to-toe against thatarsenal would need the stomach to risk Moscow, St. Petersburg, Murmansk,Vladivostok, Omsk, Tomsk, Perm, Yekaterinburg, Vladikavkaz, Oryol,Ryazan, Pyatigorsk, Magnitogorsk, Lipetsk, Arkhangelsk, and about 185more targets.)
But still, what a summit that was. And the good thing about any summitis that we're all still talking, still at the table, still "workingtogether." Because if the summit had collapsed in acrimony, or under theweight of public ridicule, then ... then ... why, we'd have had to holdanother summit. return to menu
3. State Duma To Start "Political Procedure" Of Arms Treaty Ratification InJune - Rogozin
June 6, 2002
(for personal use only)
As early as mid-June, the State Duma may effectively start the"political procedure" of ratification of the Treaty on StrategicOffensive Reductions, which was signed by the presidents of Russia andthe United States in Moscow in late May, chairman of the State Duma'sinternational affairs committee Dmitry Rogozin told Interfax onThursday.
"We are speaking only about a political, not about a legal procedure,"the committee chairman said.
The State Duma is expected on June 14 to consider a draft of the decreethat will outline the deputies' general attitude on the treaty.
Rogozin said that deputy faction leaders are expected to holdconsultations with Putin to discuss the whole range of issues concerningthe country's nuclear forces and a number of other relevant issues.
He said the draft of the chamber's decree will "in principle outline theState Duma's attitude on the arms control treaty."
Rogozin said the draft decree's authors put much focus on those benefitsthat will be brought by the implementation of the Russia-U.S. treaty. Hesaid this includes predictability in the development of the twocountries' nuclear forces, and Moscow's new capabilities, as it will begiven a free hand in choosing the means of nuclear deterrence, he said.
Rogozin underscored the importance that the treaty "outlines aspectsaimed at strengthening the non-proliferation regime."
He said the deputies want to voice their concerns about the timeframeand guidelines for cutting strategic offensive arsenals.
"This timeframe has not been specified, and no steps may be taken toimplement the treaty for ten years, and to reduce strategic offensivearsenals to the set 1,700-2,200 units at the last day before thetreaty's expiration," Rogozin said.
He said that he would like to draw attention to the fact that the treaty"should be reinforced by new measures of confidence."
Rogozin said the Treaty on Strategic Offensive Reductions is goingthrough pre-ratification procedures. "I hope that at a meeting with thedeputy leader in June, Putin will provide the exact date when he isgoing to submit the treaty to the State Duma for ratification," thecommittee head said.
Rogozin particularly stressed that deputies' voting of the draft decreeon June 14 will clearly outline prospects for the treaty's ratification.
President George W. Bush expressed hopes that the U.S. Senate willratify the Russia-U.S. treaty by the end of 2002.
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer confirmed that the president willinsist on the Senate's ratifying the treaty by the end of 2002.
Bush believes this would be a very constructive step by the Senate, andwould prove that the United States fulfils its obligations, the WhiteHouse spokesman said. return to menu
4. Russian President Proposes "Arc Of Stability"
June 6, 2002
(for personal use only)
Leading nations of the world, including China, Russia, Western Europeancountries and the United States, might build an "arc of stability", saidRussian President Vladimir Putin in an interview with the Chinesenewspaper Renmin Ribao on the eve of a summit of the ShanghaiCooperation Organization.
The Russian leader said Russia had established closer relations with theNorth Atlantic alliance several years ago, and a few days ago Russia andNATO nations had signed an agreement in Rome to expand theircooperation.
"We are ready to cooperate closely with the European Union in buildingEuropean security systems and participate in the European securitypolicy as much as possible," Vladimir Putin stressed. At the same time,he pointed out that Moscow attached great importance to its cooperationwith China. According to the Russian President, China's weight,significance and role, not only in Asia but also in the whole world, canplay an important role in creating the new system. Under this system,nations will cooperate within regional organizations in the West and inthe East, united by one idea - the creation of a multi-polar world andthe responsibility for the fate of humanity, Vladimir Putin believes. Hesaid this would be an "arc of stability" from China through Russia tothe Atlantic.
The Russian President said one of Russia's foreign policy goals was tobuild normal, predictable and equal relations with the United States,which would meet the interests of the two states and the entireinternational community. Relying on its history and geopoliticalsituation, Russia pursued a multi-vector foreign policy, and itsrelations with the United States was one of the priorities, VladimirPutin said. At the same time, the Russian leader admitted that there wasa number of problems in relations with Washington. "Often we have tosettle disagreements connected with a difference in approach to thecorrelation of unilateral and multilateral elements in world politics,the role and modality of forceful methods, and the interpretation andapplication of international norms," he said.
However, Vladimir Putin pointed out that Russia was conducting "asubstantial dialog with the United States" on these issues. "Not allquestions can be settled quickly, but the most important is that we nowdetermine our priorities and policies in the whole range of bilateraland international issues, acting jointly and on a parity basis," hestressed. And it was in this vein that the recent Russia-US summit hadbeen conducted, the Russian President said. return to menu
5. Russian, U.S. Defense Chiefs Discuss Strategic Stability
June 6, 2002
(for personal use only)
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov and U.S. Defense Secretary DonaldRumsfeld met in Brussels on Thursday and discussed the enforcement ofRussian-American agreements on strategic stability.
"We have discussed the creation of a concrete mechanism for launching aconsultative group that will deal with the regime of enforcement of theTreaty on Strategic Offensive Reductions," Ivanov told reporters in theBelgian capital.
"This consultative group will also deal with the entire implementationof Russian-American treaties and agreements on security."
The group will consist of "four ministers - the two defense ministers[the Russian defense minister and U.S. defense secretary], and also theRussian minister of foreign affairs and the U.S. secretary of state. Thefour ministers will meet together and not separately as before, and atleast twice a year," Ivanov said.
"In addition, we discussed the issue of combating internationalterrorism and the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Thesetwo subjects are, by mutual agreement and complete understanding, thethreats to which the main attention will be paid in the security spherein the immediate future," he said. return to menu
6. Bush presses key senators for ratification of new nuclear treaty
June 5, 2002
(for personal use only)
President Bush summoned lawmakers Wednesday to press for Senate approvalthis year of the nuclear arms reduction treaty that he and RussianPresident Vladimir Putin signed last month.
But the senators expressed concern that Russia doesn't have the money tosafely store warheads deactivated under the treaty.
Bush called to the White House Sens. Joe Biden, D-Del. chairman of theSenate Foreign Relations Committee, and Richard Lugar, R-Ind., a seniormember of the panel, to discuss the new treaty.
The president told them he has a "hope and expectation" the Senate willratify the treaty "before this Congress was over," Biden said afterward.Congressional leaders have set an Oct. 4 target date for adjournment,but the session is almost certain to last longer.
Bush and Putin signed the pact May 23 during Bush's trip to Russia. Itcalls for the United States and Russia to slash their deployed strategicnuclear arsenals by two-thirds over the next decade, to 1,700-2,200warheads each, down from about 6,000 each now.
After the Oval Office meeting, Biden said he foresaw a half-dozen Senatehearings on the three-page treaty. He predicted it would reach the fullSenate by fall.
Both senators said they were concerned about how Russia will storenuclear material from decommissioned warheads, and whether the materialcan be kept out of terrorists' hands without additional U.S. financialassistance. The new treaty does not address what should be done withwarheads taken out of service. Both countries are expected to store someof them.
Lugar and former Sen. Sam Nunn launched the decade-old U.S. effort tohelp contain the threat of weapons of mass destruction in the formerSoviet Union.
The Nunn-Lugar program has helped the former Soviet republics ofUkraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus become nuclear-free nations and providedassistance to Russia in costly efforts to dismantle its nuclear weapons,secure nuclear and chemical stockpiles and find civilian jobs forweapons scientists.
Lugar said he urged Bush to certify that Russia had met conditions toreceive U.S. funds for Nunn-Lugar efforts.
U.S. law requires the government to certify that Russia is committed tofull compliance with existing treaties before new initiatives can bestarted or additional money provided for existing programs to reduce thethreat of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.
In April, the Bush administration said it will hold back on somedisarmament projects with Russia because of concerns over Moscow'scompliance with chemical and biological weapons treaties.
"At the very moment we need the money to destroy the weapons, the moneyhas stopped, because the administration has not certified," as the U.S.government had done for the last nine years, Lugar said. Bush indicatedhe "will be thinking about it," Lugar said.
Biden said he told Bush directly that "it was a mistake to conclude,frankly, that you couldn't certify this year."
Secretary of State Colin Powell briefed members of the House and Senateon Wednesday on the agreement and on the developing relationship withRussia. At the closed meetings, Powell spoke in support of the treaty,which could be sent to the Senate this month, officials said.
But Daryl Kimball, executive director of the private Arms ControlAssociation, urged the Senate to take a close look "at the serious gapsin this sparse and incomplete treaty." He urged the senators to consider"constructive conditions and declarations that would improve the UnitedStates' nuclear risk-reduction efforts."
Kimball said the treaty does not provide verification measures essentialto tracking the Russian arsenals, and the two sides remain at odds aboutwhich warheads the treaty would reduce.
"For what it is, the treaty is useful," he said. "But it is an enormousmissed opportunity."
The speaker of the Russian parliament's upper house said after thetreaty signing in April that he sees no obstacles to Russianratification of a new nuclear arms reduction treaty with the UnitedStates. He said it probably would not happen until autumn. return to menu
D. Tactical Nuclear Weapons
1. Let's Finish the Job
June 4, 2002
(for personal use only)
When Presidents George Bush and Vladimir Putin met at the ranch inTexas, they declared that keeping weapons of mass destruction out ofterrorist hands would be "our highest priority."
That priority seemed to have lost its edge, though, by the recent summitin Moscow. Bush and Putin agreed to collectively take about 7,000nuclear warheads off of ballistic missiles. That still leaves Russia andAmerica with up to 4,400 nuclear missiles aimed at each other, manyhundreds on high-alert status. Should early-warning systems report anincoming rocket, the American government allows itself twenty-twominutes to decide whether to order a return strike. The Russiangovernment allows itself just six minutes. (Check out "Back from theBrink," a campaign to remove nuclear weapons from hairtrigger status,for a breakdown of the decision-to-launch timeline. Note that theRussians only allow six minutes to act because US rockets come in sorapidly.)
But whatever else one can say about keeping thousands of nuclear weaponson ballistic missiles, at least they remain inaccessible to terrorists.
The same cannot be said of nuclear weapons removed and put intostockpile storage or kept around for portable battlefield use-so-calledtactical nukes. The Administration congratulated itself after the summiton agreeing with the Russians to reduce existing missile-mounted nukesto about 2,200 on each side. But that's still enough hairtrigger muscleto erase America. And shockingly, this treaty says nothing of anadditional 23,000 non-missile-based nukes-17,000 in Russia and 6,000here. (In fact, it only says it may add to those stocks by storing someof the nukes it removes from missiles.) These thousands of unconsiderednukes could be politely described as "of proliferation concern," whichmeans they could be stolen-in fact, there have been compellingassertions they've already been stolen-and someday floated up thePotomac River or into the Marina del Rey.
Given that our highest priority is stalemating nuclear-hungryterrorists, why this odd silence on the thousands of the most portable,and hence most frightening, nuclear weapons?
The distinction between missile and nonmissile nukes has always been anartificial construct: We needed a way to start counting and reducingweapons during the secretive and mistrustful cold war, and it wasexpedient to count missiles, whose existence can be verified bysatellites. One side-benefit of this is that, thanks to reportingrequirements in the international architecture of treaties, each sidehas published information about the "strategic" (or missile-based)weapons. There has never been any such requirement to report on tacticalweapons. Therefore the alarming truth is, no one knows how many nuclearweapons Russia and America actually possess.
They could have cut to the chase in Moscow and put our collectivearsenals on the table. That would probably come to 33,500 total nuclearweapons-11,000 on the American side and in the ballpark of about 22,500on the Russian, according to the Washington-based Arms ControlAssociation. (For perspective, China, the third major nuclear power, hasabout 400 nuclear weapons, 250 of them on missiles, according to theCenter for Defense Information.) And we could start arguing for deepcuts, or at least more transparency about who has what, and how wellit's guarded.
After all, the proliferation of nuclear weapons-and particularly oftactical nukes-is emphatically not in US military interest. We firstpursued battlefield nukes in the cold war and spread hundreds of themacross Western Europe, as a way of deterring a hypothetical invasion bythe enormous Red Army.
Today, however, we are the ones with the overwhelming conventionalmilitary superiority, and we don't need battlefields gummed up withradiation; while the Russians, by contrast, have an ever-weakerconventional military, and so have embraced tactical nukes as criticalto their national defense. Modern Russian military strategy even has aword for using a tactical nuclear weapon that belongs in the EvilEuphemism Hall of Fame: "de-escalation." This refers to detonating asmall nuclear explosion amid a conflict that seems to be spiraling outof control, and by so doing demonstrating you have the cojones to do itagain. The theory is that this will give pause to even a militarilysuperior enemy. (Much the same "de-escalation" theory could be appliedby, say, Pakistan, should its troops find themselves in danger of beingoverrun by a far larger Indian military.)
A better approach to de-escalating would be to disarm. The United Statesstill maintains about 180 tactical nukes in seven European nations,according to Alistair Millar, an arms control expert with the FourthFreedom Forum, which works for nonviolent conflict resolution.
Writing in Arms Control Today, Millar argues these 180-odd weapons serveno real military purpose, and suggests that an offer to withdraw them-orat least, to disclose their exact number and location-could jump-startnegotiations with the Russians about accounting for and reducing theirown arsenal. "If Washington is serious about working with the Russiansto prevent nuclear terrorism, it could put the issue of reducingtactical nuclear arsenals back on the table at the Moscow summit,"Millar writes.
Doing this would continue the work of the first President Bush. When theSoviet Union disintegrated eleven years ago, Washington was rightlyconcerned about portable and terrorist-friendly tactical nukes.President George Bush announced a unilateral reduction of US tacticalnuclear arsenals, and invited the Russians to reciprocate. MikhailGorbachev and then Boris Yeltsin both pledged to do so, and in 1997Presidents Bill Clinton and Yeltsin reaffirmed that commitment tonegotiate on tactical nukes. Yet suddenly, in the wake of September 11,this is no longer important?
Madmen seeking weapons of mass destruction threaten the existence of theUnited States. The first President Bush got a good start on this, butdidn't go far enough. Now it's time for his son to go back in and finishthe job. One of the best ways to wage the war on terrorism would be toput the US tactical nuclear arsenal on the table-and invite the Russiansto follow suit. return to menu
1. US Opposes Russia's Sale Of Uranium Fuel To India
June 8, 2002
(for personal use only)
The US has opposed Russia's sale of uranium fuel for nuclear powerplants in India arguing it violates Moscow's non-proliferationcommitments, while holding forth the threat of sanctions if Moscow failsto curtail cooperation on sensitive technology with countries like Iran.
"In selling uranium fuel to India in the face of overwhelming oppositionfrom the Nuclear Suppliers Group," Russia has made decisions contrary tothe non-proliferation guidelines to which it is a party, AssistantSecretary of State for Non-proliferation Thomas Wolf said.
Accusing Russia of putting a narrow interpretation on non-proliferation,he said it tended to "downplay the threat posed by proliferant weaponprogrammes and express the belief that the limited technologicalcapability of proliferant states will prevent them from developingweapons of mass destruction (WMD) and missiles."
"That view," he told a Senate Subcommittee hearing on Thursday, "isshortsighted and dangerous."
Russia's cashapped defence, bio-technology, chemical weapons andnuclear industries, he said, profit from exports and transfers to stateson the US list of sponsors of terrorism.
The US has "made clear to Russia that it must take enforcement action tostop assistance to proliferators--and that does not mean just Iran. IfRussian action does not terminate such assistance, US sanctions may berequired", he said. return to menu
1. US Sent Data to Russia on Iran WMD
Middle East Newsline
June 10, 2002
(for personal use only)
The United States has sent intelligence data to Russia to demonstratethe involvement of its companies and government bodies in theproliferation of missiles and weapons of mass destruction to Iran.
Russian authorities received the U.S. intelligence information anddetained suspected leakers in the government and industry. The resultwas that vital intelligence sources required by Washington wereeliminated.
Richard Perle, a senior adviser to the U.S. Defense Department, calledthe U.S. transfer of intelligence information to Russia "absurd." Perlesaid the U.S. practice of providing Russia with intelligence data endedafter Moscow cracked down on intelligence leaks.
"The problem has been unfortunately that various Russians with whom wehave discussed this deny that the activity is taking place in the firstplace," Perle said. "And in the absurd way governments tend to behave,our response to that was to turn over intelligence reports, whereuponthe sources on which those intelligence reports were based ceased toprovide further intelligence. So, I think we've decided to stop doingthat. We should have decided a long time ago to stop doing that." return to menu
2. Russia's Risky Iran Connection
New York Times
June 10, 2002
(for personal use only)
Over the past year, Washington and Moscow have found common ground onmany issues that once divided them, with one notable exception. Russiastill refuses to restrain its transfers of nuclear and weaponstechnology to Iran. Russian technology could help Tehran's radicalmullahs acquire nuclear weapons and delivery systems that could threatenthe United States and Europe, including Russia itself. PresidentVladimir Putin should reconsider this relationship, and President Bushneeds to make clear that Russia's ties with Iran are a seriousimpediment to Moscow's international aspirations.
The technology transfers flow from Russia's lucrative contracts tosupply Iran with a nuclear power reactor and advanced conventionalweapons. The sales are an important revenue source for Russia'sbeleaguered arms and energy industries. Yet Russia stands to benefit farmore from the improved trade relations now on offer from the West thanfrom these risky deals with Iran.
More than 1,000 Russian engineers and technicians are helping Iran builda civilian power reactor at Bushehr on the Persian Gulf. When completedin several years, the reactor will produce plutonium as a byproduct ofpower generation. That plutonium could potentially be reprocessed intonuclear bomb fuel using technology learned from the Russians.
Last year Russia resumed sales of conventional arms to Iran, includingan advanced air defense system. American intelligence agencies alsoreport that Moscow is secretly transferring ballistic missile technologyto Tehran, including suspected transfers through front companies in theformer Soviet republics of Moldova and Armenia. When Mr. Bush raised thenuclear and missile technology issues with Mr. Putin last month, he gotonly unconvincing verbal reassurances that Russian scientists would nottransfer dangerous technologies.
Russia misleadingly argues that the United States is helping North Koreabuild similar nuclear power reactors. Washington's deal with North Koreais specifically linked to Pyongyang's commitment not to reprocess thereactor's plutonium. Although Iran has signed the NuclearNonproliferation Treaty and has agreed to allow the International AtomicEnergy Agency to inspect the Bushehr facility, Washington has goodreason to believe that Tehran is intent on secretly developing nuclearweapons and will use Russian technology to do so. Energy-starved NorthKorea has a legitimate need for nuclear-generated power, while Iran isone of the world's leading oil producers.
Moscow's dealings with Iran belong to a bygone era and run directlycounter to Mr. Putin's goal of realigning Russia with the West. Insteadof helping the weapons programs of rogue states, Moscow should beworking with Washington to meet the threat the two countries face fromthe alarming spread of unconventional weapons. return to menu
3. WMD Sellers International
The Russia Journal
June 10, 2002
(for personal use only)
Overall, the Russian-American summit was all bliss and sugary sweetness.The one slightly sour note came during the two presidents' joint pressconference when the subject turned to Iran. This confirms that Iranremains probably the main stumbling block between the two countries,which have declared that they are "already allies in the global struggleagainst international terrorism."
With regards to Iraq, the two sides said in a joint declaration thatRussia and the United States would "continue their constructivedialogue." The use of the word "constructive" means, no doubt, thatdespite intense pressure from home-grown Saddam supporters, Moscow nolonger sees Saddam Hussein's backside as Russia's national asset, and istaking a more pragmatic approach, seeking guarantees for its economicinterests in a post-Saddam Iraq.
But concerning Iran, President Vladimir Putin used home-producedarguments at the press conference, both unexpected and interesting.
First, Putin said that Moscow had convincing proof that a number ofWestern companies are helping Iran develop its missile and nuclearprograms. That such a statement should be made at such high level leavesno doubt that this proof does indeed exist and that it was most likelyshown to U.S. President George W. Bush.
This in itself is no real sensation. The nearly forgotten 19th-centuryGerman economist Karl Marx rightly pointed out that, even at the risk ofthe gallows, there is no crime capital wouldn't commit, so long as agood profit could be guaranteed. It's well known, for example, thatFrench, British and other Western companies helped Iraq with itsnuclear-missile programs.
Russia's young capitalists are no less ambitious than their Westerncolleagues. There is a known case when containers containing a specialsteel needed for missile production were seized on the Azerbaijan-Iranborder. More scandalous was the incident when the Russian Atomic EnergyMinistry was caught red-handed going behind the Russian leadership'sback to sign an agreement to deliver to Iran a uranium isotopeseparation centrifuge able to produce weapons-grade highly enricheduranium. Of course, the Atomic Energy Ministry is not exactly a privatecompany, but a minister in Russia is more than a minister, and Marx'swords about capitalists apply equally well to Russia's capitalist-mindedstate officials.
Putin's argument also lets slip an admission that it would be foolishand impossible to deny. Iran seeks nuclear missile potential, and theUnited States is right to feel concerned about this. At the same time,by providing proof of Western companies' involvement in Iran's programs,Putin takes the issue beyond the traditional boundaries of unilateralaccusations against Russia, placing it in the context of multilateralinternational cooperation in "ensuring the security of technology,information, specialized knowledge and materials related to weapons ofmass destruction and missiles."
As one well-known character would have said, "That's a strong move,Vladimir Vladimirovich."
The second argument, suggested by some Foreign Ministry official, raisedconcerns about Taiwan's missile program - and it wasn't such a success.
As for Russia's policy toward Iran, the issue goes far beyond simplybeing a point on the Russian-American agenda, especially in light of theevermore open challenge Iran is raising for Russia regarding the CaspianSea. But I will save that subject for the next column.
The writer is director of the Center for Strategic Research. return to menu
4. Russians Warn Bushehr Could Be Used For Nukes
Middle East Newsline
June 7, 2002
(for personal use only)
Russian nuclear experts are warning that Iran's Bushehr plant could beused for the production of nuclear weapons regardless of internationalmonitoring.
The experts envisioned a scenario where Iran employs the Bushehr powerplant for the production of weapons-grade plutonium required in nuclearwarheads. They said the Russian reactor sold to Iran produces neutronsthat can help produce the material needed for nuclear weapons.
Maxim Shingarkin, a leading Russian nuclear expert, told a recent Moscowseminar that Iran has been sold a Russian nuclear reactor that can beused to produce weapons-grade plutonium. Iran has bought the VVR-1000nuclear reactor for the Bushehr facility in an $800 million deal andoperations are expected to begin by 2005.
"The reactor is a source of neutrons," Shingarkin said. "I tell you thatany VVR-1000 reactor can be used to produce -- without authorization andwithout the IAEA specialists knowing it -- weapons-grade plutonium.There are no engineering or technical complexities and the task isrealistic." return to menu
G. Russian Nuclear Forces
1. Russian Tests New Ballistic Missile
June 6, 2002
(for personal use only)
Russia launched a successful test Thursday of its new intercontinentalballistic missile Topol-M, which is set to replace Moscow's currentarsenal of SS-18 missiles, the Interfax-AVN agency reported.
The Topol-M, the equivalent of the US Minuteman-3, hit its target inRussia's far-east more than 7000 kilometers (around 4,000 miles) fromits launch in the northwest of the country.
Russia and the United States signed a strategic arms reduction treaty atthe end of May which is set to reduce the arsenals of the two countriesby two-thirds over a period of 10 years. return to menu
H. Nuclear Industry
1. Russia has good chances to win a contract for construction of newnuclear power units in Bulgaria
June 6, 2002
Russia would be extremely interested in the construction of new nuclearpower units in Bulgaria, Valentin Abolenin, head of the Eastern EuropeCo-operation department of the Joint Stock Company "ATOMSTROYEXPORT"told Nuclear.Ru His comments came in line with the protocol forbilateral co-operation in the field of nuclear energy signed last weekby Russia's atomic energy minister Alexander Rumyantsev and Bulgarianenergy minister Milko Kovachev. Mr. Abolenin also said that, if aninternational bidding was launched, Russia would likely to win acontract for construction of new N-Plant in Bulgaria. The"ATOMSTROYEXPORT" official reminded that Russia is the only country inthe world that is building 5 nuclear power units abroad and continues todevelop nuclear generation at home. In 2001, he said, Volgodonsk-1started commercial operation; the Kalinin-3 start-up is planned for2003. "We hope that our successful experience with the Tianwan NPP inChina - the world's most advanced project in terms of reliability andsafety, highly appreciated by international experts - will help toincrease our chances," Mr. Abolenin stressed.
Earlier this year the Bulgarian prime minister Simeon Saxe-Coburg Gothaannounced that his government planned to support the completion of theconstruction work at the of Belene N-Plant site, mothballed in early1990th. The project envisaged building of two power units withSoviet-designed VVER-1000 reactors. Before the construction stopped,more than USD1 bln had been invested there: the reactor building of thefirst unit had been completed, part of the equipment supplied, the siteof the second power unit prepared. The Belene NPP was constructed in theframework of an integration programme on co-operation in the field ofnuclear energy developed in the former Council for Mutual EconomicAssistance (Comecon). The equipment came from the Soviet Union,Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia and other countries. Meanwhile,Loyola de Palacio European Energy and Transport Commissioner who hadvisit Bulgaria earlier this year said the EU wouldn't object inprinciple to the completion of the Belene N-Plant provided that Sofiawas firmly committed to the premature closure of power units at theKozluduy NPP. return to menu
2. Russia, Bulgaria Agree To Settle Soviet-Era Debt
June 6, 2002
(for personal use only)
Russia will pay its dlrs 100 million Soviet-era debt to Bulgaria withdeliveries of nuclear fuel and other goods, Prime Minister MikhailKasyanov said Wednesday.
Kasyanov said he and Bulgaria's prime minister and former king, SimeonSaxcoburggotski, settled all outstanding financial issues between thetwo countries during their talks Wednesday, according to the web site ofthe Russian Cabinet.
Under the debt agreement, Russia will pay the debt with deliveries ofnuclear fuel and other goods and "a small amount of cash," Kasyanovsaid.
Russia is also taking measures to remedy its trade imbalance withBulgaria, Kasyanov said. He said duties on goods from Bulgaria were 25percent lower than those on goods from other countries.
Russia is Bulgaria's biggest trade partner, accounting for 22 percent ofimports, according to the ITAR-Tass news agency. return to menu
3. Another's Spent Nuclear Fuel Did Not Come To Russia
June 5, 2002
(for personal use only)
Russia's Nuclear Power Minister Alexander Rumyantsev has said that overthe past year Russia has not received a single kilogramme of spentnuclear fuel from abroad, refuting some media reports from the Greens.
The minister recalled that a year ago today a federal law on fuelimports into Russia was adopted.
According to him, in 2002 Russia got some shipments from Ukraine andBulgaria but these were the nuclear fuel "Moscow previously exported tothem." The minister also said that this month his ministry would submita further series of documents for approval to the Russian governmentthat will regulate imports, storage and processing of spent nuclearfuel. "It is not until these bylaws are introduced that Russia is goingto import overseas fuel," Rumyantsev emphasised.
According to him, "handling spent nuclear fuel is a highly lucrativebusiness". "Western countries are jockeying for fuel services," he said."Russia may well make up to 2 billion dollars a year on this market,because we have safe and most up-to-date technologies for working withsuch materials." return to menu
4. Belarus President For Pooling Efforts Of Russian And Belarussian NuclearScientists
Olesya Luchaninova and Vera Pollo
June 5, 2002
(for personal use only)
Russia is the main partner of Belarus in the field of energy and nuclearresearch, said Alexander Lukashenko, visiting the Sosny township onWednesday. The Joint Energy and Nuclear Research Institute is foundhere.
Lukashenko believes that, using the experience of each other,Belarussian and Russian scientists "should go to Western partners andjointly work with foreign countries. They should do what scientistsworld-wide are doing and what yields profit". If so, the state will givesupport to nuclear research, said the Belarussian president.
Belarussian researchers "have good prospects" in the field of nuclearresearch, he said. This is very much due to the classical school ofnuclear energy, which Belarus has preserved since the Soviet times,believes Alexander Lukashenko.
In the Sosny institute they are working on safe use of nuclear energyfor peaceful ends. Getting a sidelight on this work, Lukashenko held abehind-the-doors conference. Belarussian Defense Minister Leonid Maltsevwas present. return to menu
I. Nuclear Safety
1. Norwegian Government To Allocate Money To Murmansk Region For NuclearSafety Projects
June 7, 2002
(for personal use only)
Before the end of the year the Norwegian government will allocate 15.5million crones to the Murmansk region, situated on the Kola peninsula,for nuclear safety projects.
The region's governor Yury Yevdokimov and his counterpart from theNorwegian province of Finnmark Gunnar Kjonnoy signed on Thursday anumber of agreements on financing projects of ecological rehabilitationof polluted territories in the region, the regional administration'spress service told RIA Novosti.
The bulk of this sum - 14 million crones - will be allocated torehabilitate the largest storage facility of nuclear waste and fuel ofthe Northern fleet, situated in Andreeva Guba. The money will be spentfor building there a so-called Norwegian village - residential blockswith all necessary engineering networks, where specialists working onrehabilitating the storage facility will live.
1.5 million crones will be allocated for financing the project ofutilizing radioisotope thermoelectrical generators used as power sourcesin lighthouses situated in the peninsula's areas that are difficult toaccess. return to menu
2. Radiation Found Near Military Base
June 5, 2002
(for personal use only)
An unidentified high-level source of radiation was discovered at anunauthorized garbage dump next to a military base in the southern cityof Volgograd, RIA-Novosti and regions.ru reported on 5 June. Accordingto RIA-Novosti, which quoted the director of the municipal environmentalprotection department, radiation at the site was measured at 2,000 timesnormal levels. The source of the radiation has not yet been determined,and an investigation and cleanup are under way. return to menu
1. Search Begins for Missing Radiation Sources in Republic of Georgia
International Atomic Energy Agency
June 10, 2002
An international team assembled by the IAEA will begin a search todayfor two abandoned Strontium 90 generators in a ca. 550 sq km area ofWestern Georgia. About 80 people, mostly Georgian nationals, will takepart in the two-week search beginning on Monday, 10 June. Radiationexperts from the IAEA, India, France, Turkey and the U.S. are also partof the team, which will set out on horseback, foot and by car.
Such highly radioactive Strontium 90 sources were used asthermo-electric generators for communication stations in remote areas.Six have been recovered so far, and it is believed that there are twomore at large in the designated area to be surveyed.
The IAEA has been working with Georgia since 1997 to upgrade levels ofradiation safety and security in the country, where over 280 radioactivesources have been recovered since the mid-90's. Some of these sourceswere discovered on abandoned Soviet military bases and all have beenplaced in safe storage. In February 2002, a Georgian team supported bythe IAEA successfully recovered two unshielded radioactive Strontium 90sources that were found in the forest late last year. Two of the men whooriginally came across the sources are being treated in France andRussia for severe radiation sickness and burns.
The 10 June search marks the first operational phase of an action planto conduct IAEA-supported radiological surveys of selected areas inGeorgia. The action plan covers two phases of a search campaign tosurvey selected areas of Georgia with sensitive radiation detectors andinstruments to locate so-called "orphan" radiation sources that areoutside of regulatory control.
"The situation in Georgia may just be an indication of the serioussafety and security implications orphaned sources may have elsewhere inthe world" says Abel Gonzalez, IAEA Director of Radiation and WasteSafety. "The IAEA's work in Georgia is part of a comprehensive plan thatincludes Agency assistance to States to help them regain control of suchorphan sources."
The second phase - an aerial and road survey covering differentterritory - is scheduled to begin in early September. The objective isto locate and recover other known or suspected orphaned radioactivesources in the country. return to menu
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.