1. The Real Sum of All Fears: 'Dirty bombs' are just one of the nuclearthreats that Americans face
William C. Potter and Leonard Spector
Los Angeles Times
June 11 2002
(for personal use only)
It is not a matter of "if" but "when" one of our cities confronts anuclear emergency. Monday's announcement of the May 8 arrest in Chicagoof an alleged Al Qaeda operative accused of planning to build aradioactive "dirty bomb" suggests that the date for a domestic nuclearcrisis is rapidly approaching.
Less obvious, however, is the kind of nuclear terrorist threat aboutwhich we should be most concerned.
There are four varieties of nuclear terrorism. In addition to theseizure of a nuclear weapon by a renegade military faction-the preferredscenario for Hollywood thrillers--these threats include the theft ofnuclear material for the purpose of fashioning a nuclear explosivedevice, the attack on or sabotage of civilian nuclear powerinstallations or spent fuel storage sites and the matching of highlyradioactive nuclear material with conventional explosives to createradiological dispersal devices or, in common parlance, "dirty bombs."All of these nuclear terrorist threats are real, all merit the urgentattention of the U.S. government and the international community and allrequire the significant expenditure of resources to reduce thelikelihood and impact of their occurrence.
The threats themselves, however, are different and vary significantly intheir probability of occurrence, their consequences for human andfinancial loss and the ease with which their likelihood of occurrencecan be reduced.
The most immediate threat is apt to arise from the use of a conventionalexplosive to disperse radioactive debris.
Millions of tons of radioactive material exist globally, much of it inthe form of spent nuclear fuel. Highly radioactive sources also are usedwidely for radiotherapy and diagnoses, to irradiate food, foragricultural purposes and in industry.
It is estimated that in the U.S. alone there are several million devicesusing radioactive material. No reliable inventory of these materialsexists, and a large percentage of them are no longer in use, have beendiscarded or are lost. "Orphan" sources from other countries have turnedup repeatedly on the black market and are known to have been acquired byChechen rebels in Russia.
The risk of nuclear sabotage also is a serious one. Although not widelyknow in the West, there were at least four episodes in the mid-1990s inwhich nuclear power plants in the post-Soviet states were the targets ofterrorist actions. Three of them involved the Ignalina nuclear powerplant in Lithuania and one had to do with the Kursk nuclear powerstation in Russia. There is good reason to believe that U.S. nuclearpower plants also are vulnerable to armed assault, cyberterror (todisable the plants' safety devices) and insider malevolence.
Were individuals or groups to succeed in acquiring a sufficient amountof highly enriched uranium, one also could not rule out their ability tomanufacture a crude but effective nuclear bomb.
What has changed since Sept. 11 is not that it has suddenly becomeeasier to fashion a nuclear bomb--it hasn't--but that we now must assumethat there are organizations that covet fissile material for the purposeof detonating nuclear explosives in our cities. The main obstacle intheir path is obtaining highly enriched uranium.
Finally, although less likely than the other nuclear terroristscenarios, we must take seriously the need to guard against the theft ofintact nuclear weapons. Of particular concern are relatively smalltactical nuclear weapons, of which thousands exist, none covered byformal arms control accords.
Today there is an urgent need to assess the full range of nuclearterrorist threats and invest finite resources where they can have thegreatest impact.
It will be years before we can secure all of Russia's highly enricheduranium against theft, and it may never be possible to control everyradiological source that might find its way into a dirty bomb. But itshould be possible in a matter of months to beef up security at U.S.nuclear power plants and prepare the public psychologically for themanageable dangers from a radiological bomb attack.
These must be our immediate priorities as we pursue a more comprehensiveplan to compare, assess and combat the multiple threats posed by thedifferent faces of nuclear terrorism. return to menu
2. Arrest Shifts Focus to U.S. Sources of Atomic Isotopes
June 11, 2002
(for personal use only)
Long before the May 8 arrest of Abdullah al Muhajir, the U.S. governmentconcluded that Osama bin Laden controls enough cesium, strontium orcobalt to mount a radiological attack in the United States. The problemfor al Qaeda, analysts believed, was reaching America with the requiredcrude device.
Yesterday's disclosures about al Muhajir, accused of conspiracy to buildand detonate such a "dirty bomb," came amid a shift in thinking aboutthe locus of greatest risk. Instead of smuggling in radioactivecontaminants, counterterrorist sources said, al Qaeda may be planning tobuy or steal them here.
The U.S. intelligence community, knowledgeable officials said, believesthat bin Laden's modest cache of radioactive metals almost certainlyremains in south and central Asia. No sign of the nuclear materials hasbeen found by U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and analysts lean increasinglytoward the view that bin Laden is unlikely to risk transporting such ascarce and valuable resource across U.S. borders.
Counterterrorist officials said, after al Muhajir's arrest was announcedyesterday, that they are focusing their investigation on the theory thathis plans relied on a domestic source of nuclear isotopes. A dirty bomb,known among specialists as a "radiological dispersion device," would useconventional explosives to fling those isotopes in an airborne plume ofradioactive dust.
Because a dirty bomb's greatest impact is terror, specialists in and outof government said even small quantities of radioactive metal wouldserve al Qaeda's aim.
"It is much more likely they will acquire them in the United States ifthey want to use them here," said a senior official familiar with theanalysis. "They will try to obtain them locally."
That assessment marks a significant shift in thinking about a threat theU.S. government has taken seriously for years. Most of the emphasisbefore now has been on the unraveling of the vast nuclear complex,civilian and military, of the former Soviet Union. Al Qaeda is known tohave made substantial efforts to buy black market isotopes there.
For at least a year, government specialists have believed that thoseefforts succeeded. That consensus emerged months before Sept. 11, whenfour dozen intelligence analysts converged on a classified facility inChantilly, just down Lee Road from the National Reconnaissance Office.
>From early morning until late that night, the unusual gathering stagedwhat one participant called a deadly serious "analytical game."Conferees in the Top Secret/Codeword exercise divided into two groups.The first made the strongest case it could, from evidence in hand, thatbin Laden possessed the makings of a dirty bomb -- or worse, a devicecapable of producing an atomic detonation. The second group rebutted.
The doubters, officials said, did not convince themselves with anyconfidence. Even those who thought it improbable that al Qaeda had anatomic bomb acknowledged that the evidence did not rule it out. And mostagreed that bin Laden's organization had the wherewithal to build aradiological weapon.
After Sept. 11, The Washington Post has reported, the Bushadministration rushed sophisticated sensors -- neutron flux detectorsand gamma ray detectors -- to ports of entry and choke points aroundmajor targets such as Washington and New York. At the time, the CustomsService fielded about 4,000 pager-sized "personal radiation detectors"for use by inspectors.
President Bush also placed Delta Force, the nation's elite commandounit, on standby to seize control of nuclear materials that the sensorsmight detect. Although far from an impermeable cordon, the newdeployments increased the risk to al Qaeda that a dirty bomb might bediscovered before it could be used.
The administration continues to press the three national laboratories,led by the NIS-6 Division at Los Alamos, N.M., to address what oneEnergy Department report called "shortcomings in the ability of[detection] equipment to locate the target materials which if known byadversaries could be used to defeat the search equipment and/orprocedures." Crash research and development programs include the use ofneutron generators to "interrogate" suspicious objects and othertechnologies for long-range detection of alpha particles.
These defenses against the external threat reflect a history in whichthe most serious known breaches of nuclear security -- involvingmaterials enriched for use in nuclear weapons, or large quantities oflesser isotopes -- have taken place overseas.
The National Intelligence Council, an umbrella organization ofinteragency analysts, reported to Congress in February that"weapons-grade and weapons-usable nuclear materials have been stolenfrom some Russian institutes" at least four times from 1992 to 1999.Beyond that, the report said, "we assess that undetected smuggling hasoccurred."
Hundreds of thefts have been reported of less threatening nuclearbyproducts, incapable of atomic detonation but harmfully radioactivenonetheless. In November 1995, Chechen rebels demonstrated the risksinvolved when they placed a 33-pound package containing cesium, wrappedin yellow paper, on a bench in Moscow's Izmailovo Park. There were noexplosives, but Chechen rebel field commander Shamil Basayev said he hadenough materials left to cause "several mini-Chernobyls."
Two close calls overseas were also serious. On May 25, 1999, a Bulgarianinspector -- trained and equipped by U.S. Customs -- discovered 10 gramsof weapons-grade uranium in the trunk of a Toyota sedan crossing theDanube River. And in March 2000, a 23-ton truckload of metals arrived atthe Uzbek border from Kazakhstan with gamma rays pouring out of it at100 times the permitted limit.
Plutonium and weapons-grade uranium are thought to be well secured inthe United States, but that is not true of the lower-grade nuclearmaterials required for a dirty bomb.
Thousands of private companies and universities use cesium, strontium,cobalt or americium to treat cancer patients, irradiate food againstharmful microbes, sterilize equipment, monitor the operation of oilwells and inspect welding seams. The quantities involved range from tinytraces of americium in smoke detectors to thick rods of cobalt, each afoot long, that are used by the score in a single food processing plant.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission reported last month that U.S.companies have lost track of nearly 1,500 such radioactive parts since1996, and more than half were never recovered. Up to 30,000 radioactiveparts are believed to have been abandoned or thrown away, according toan Environmental Protection Agency estimate.
Of the thousands of nuclear sources still in use, or decommissioned toknown storage sites, many are thought to be vulnerable to theft or blackmarket sale. And few hospitals or food processing plants are secureenough to withstand an armed attack by people intent on seizing thematerials by force.
Most of the lost and stolen items generate small amounts ofradioactivity, but some are potent enough to be used in a dirty bomb.
As recently as March, an industrial gauge with a significant quantity ofcesium turned up at a scrap-metal plant near Hertford, N.C., wheresomeone had accidentally discarded it. That find led to the recovery ofat least three other gauges that had been thrown away by a company inMaryland.
Henry Kelly, a physicist who directs the Federation of AmericanScientists, testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee thatthe cesium in the Hertford incident alone could contaminate "a swathabout one mile long covering an area of 40 city blocks." He made thecrucial, and controversial, assumption that a terrorist could mill thecesium into fine particles and disperse it efficiently with 10 pounds ofTNT. "If the device was detonated at the National Gallery of Art," hesaid, "the Capitol, Supreme Court and Library of Congress would exceedEPA contamination limits and might have to be abandoned for decades."
More worrisome to regulators was a 1998 incident in which thieves stole19 tubes of medical cesium from a hospital in Greensboro, N.C., a crimeinvestigators believe was committed with inside help. Police scoured theentire region with radiation-sensing aircraft but found no trace of thecesium. To this day, authorities have no idea where the material went,saidJohnnie James, radiation emergency coordinator for North Carolina'sRadiation Protection Section.
The biggest obstacle to handling industrial cesium is the same intenseradiation that makes it useful in a bomb, said Arjun Makhijani, anuclear-trained engineer and president of the Institute for Energy andEnvironmental Research in Takoma Park.
"It's not difficult to get a hold of this stuff, but if they don't knowwhat they are doing, they could easily kill themselves," Makhijani said.
Until the recent turnabout by analysts, the U.S. government gave onlymodest attention to the risk that terrorists would build a dirty bombdomestically.
"Since September 11, there has been no urgency about materialsaccounting and reporting -- and this should Priority No. 1," Makhijanisaid. return to menu
3. Radiological dispersal devices: an assessment
Rob Fanney and Jim Tinsley
Jane's Chem-Bio Web
June 11, 2002
(for personal use only)
Attorney General John Ashcroft announced yesterday the capture of aterrorist known to be connected with Al-Qaeda who was allegedly planningto build and explode a radiological dispersal device (RDD) within theUnited States. The suspect, according to reports, was apprehended on 8May after flying into Chicago's O'Hare International Airport fromPakistan.The fear generated by the terrorist use of weapons of mass destructionis hard to overestimate, but understanding the capabilities andlimitations of radiological devices - also known as 'dirty bombs' - asweapons puts the effects in better context.Unlike a nuclear weapon, which is designed to release massive amounts ofenergy such as heat and radiation, by splitting or fusing atoms. Thebasic design of a radiological device is based on packing radioactivematerial inside or around a conventional bomb. The conventional bomb isthen exploded in order to disperse radiological material as widely aspossible.While the conventional bomb used in an RDD would cause casualties andstructural damage, radiological experts believe most RDDs would notgenerate immediate radiation-related deaths. The limited delivery areaof most devices means the radiation would not inflict massivecasualties. Depending on the concentration and radioactivity strength ofthe material, radiation damage would not occur immediately, if at all.If undetected and untreated, it could take days, months or even yearsfor some RDDs to generate casualties. This is particularly true in urbanareas, where building materials such as concrete would provide someshielding.There is also generally a finite upper limit to the amount ofradioactive material incorporated into an RDD. Without immense amountsof shielding the use of a powerful radiation source could kill thedevice's builder and whoever transported the materials to the target.There are a wide range of radioactive materials that could be used in anRDD. Low-level radioactive materials include those used in medicine andresearch as well as low-grade, unenriched uranium. Of note is the factthat jars, drums and cases of low-grade uranium were found inunderground caches at Kandahar, Afghanistan, early this year. High-levelradioactive materials include enriched uranium, plutonium and fuel rodsfrom nuclear power plants. High-level materials are quite rare outsidethe major nuclear powers, although there is an illegal internationalmarket for such materials and there have been reports of missingmaterials in the former Soviet Union.The lethality of an RDD is largely a factor of the amount of radioactivematerial involved, the amount of explosives involved, and the amount ofshielding between the device and its victims affects its overalllethality (urban settings can actually provide more protection thanother areas). Whatever the size or overall impact of the device used,however, RDDs are more a means of causing mass disruption than trueweapons of mass destruction, although those disruptive effects may beconsiderable. The economic consequences of having an important urbanarea contaminated with radiation could be severe. return to menu
4. Abandoned Radiation Detected in Georgia
June 11, 2002
(for personal use only)
Specialists of the International Agency for Nuclear Power and attendantsof the Georgian Emergencies Department started searching for twostrontium rechargeable batteries that were lost in the region at the endof the 1980s. The area of the search zone is 550 square kilometers. Theoperation started four months after four people complained of seriousindisposition: they suffered from radioactive poisoning after they foundobjects that radiated strontium-90.
Eight strontium rechargeable batteries were delivered to Georgia at thebeginning of the 1980s for the construction of two hydro-electricstations. The batteries were meant for communication purposes. Six ofthem were found and neutralized. The remaining two batteries were foundin the woods at the end of last year by three local citizens. They triedto separate the lead coating of the container and were exposed to a highlevel of radiation as a result.
Over 280 radiation sources have been detected in the former Sovietrepublic of Georgia since the middle of the 1990s, some of them wereleft on the territory of the republic after the withdrawal of Soviettroops. The International Agency for Nuclear Power has been cooperatingwith Tbilisi since 1997. However, as the specialists of the agency say,Georgia is not the only country where abandoned, dangerous sources ofradiation might be located. The director of the agency said that thesituation in the republic of Georgia could only testify to the fact thatmore serious security issues might exist in other regions of the world. return to menu
5. Bin Laden and the 'dirty bomb' - Nuclear material can be used in "dirtybombs"
Natalie Malinarich and Nick Caistor
BBC News Online
June 10, 2002
(for personal use only)
The possibility that terrorists might acquire a nuclear device has beena nightmare scenario to defence analysts and Western governments evenbefore 11 September.
Although it is widely believed that Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network -which the US blames for the 11 September attack - does not have thecapability to build a conventional atomic bomb, experts fear it coulduse radioactive material to make a "dirty bomb".
Such a device - which spreads radioactive material using conventionalexplosives - has been described by some experts as "the poor man'snuclear device."
Radiation could be scattered from the top of a building by detonatingexplosives wrapped with the radioactive material or by piloting anaircraft into a nuclear reactor.
Such a device could be used in a car bomb, driven right into the heartof an urban population centre. Thousands could be exposed, causing bothshort and long-term deaths and rendering areas uninhabitable for years.
But propably the most important aspect of a "dirty bomb" explosion in anAmerican city would be as propaganda for those who want to attack theUS.
Call to arm
"We call for the Muslim brothers to imitate Pakistan as to thepossession of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons," read a letteralleged to have been written by Bin Laden and seized in London threeyears ago.
In October 2001, Bin Laden reportedly told a Pakistani newspaper thatal-Qaeda did possess chemical and nuclear weapons.
The Dawn newspaper quoted him as saying: "If America used chemical ornuclear weapons against us, then we may retort with chemical and nuclearweapons. We have the weapons as a deterrent."
In December the US said it had found documents in a building in Kabulbelieved to have been used as a safe house by al-Qaeda militantscontaining instructions on how to build a nuclear device.
US special forces who raided former al-Qaeda facilities in Afghanistanalso spoke of evidence that they were planning to create weapons of massdestruction, including nuclear devices.
Where al-Qaeda may have got nuclear materials - if they have them - isnot known, but many fingers are pointing to ex-Soviet republics orPakistan.
Independent nuclear consultant John Large thinks that al-Qaeda couldwell have enriched uranium bought in a former Soviet republic, possiblyKazakhstan or Uzbekistan.
"With the break up of the Soviet Union there were many leaks, typicallyabout 30 cases of smuggling of nuclear materials a year. It is like anopen sieve.
"You get a superpower like the Soviet Union break up and of course itsmaterials will come out."
David Kyd, a spokesman for the United Nations Atomic Energy Authoritytold the BBC that there were some 175 cases of seizure of nuclearmaterial being smuggled from the former Soviet republics.
"We cannot exclude the possibility that Bin Laden's group could get holdof this material to make a radioactive weapon rather that buying anuclear weapon off the shelf or making one themselves," he said.
However, experts insist that al-Qaeda does not have the technicalcompetence to build a sophisticated nuclear weapon.
"It is difficult to think of a sub-national group doing it without thehelp of a nuclear state," says John Large.
"A nuclear bomb is difficult to manufacture and requires a lot ofindustrial infrastructure, materials, machines and tools. It also takesa long time to develop the capability."
Israel, for example, took about 15 years to achieve nuclear status.
But not being able to build an atomic bomb does not mean thatradioactive materials cannot be used to cause extensive damage, as manyspecialists have warned.
According to some experts, it would be sufficient to explode an oldX-ray machine containing cobalt 60 to produce radiation poisoning.
Alternatively, a nuclear power station might be a tempting target forterrorists to attack.
Crashing an aircraft into the cooling pool holding spent fuel would havea devastatingeffect on the nearby population and environment.
Recognising the threat, the French military has stationed surface-to-airmissiles at key nuclear processing sites in western France as aprecaution against airborne suicide attacks.
Both the UK and US governments have reviewed security measures atnuclear plants since the 11 September attacks. return to menu
6. Analysis: Making a 'dirty bomb' - A "dirty bomb" could make a regionuninhabitable for years
BBC News Online
June 10, 2002
(for personal use only)
A so-called dirty bomb is the type of weapon you would build if youcould not construct a conventional nuclear device.
It would be messy but effective for many reasons.
It would consist of a bomb made of conventional explosives such as TNT,salted with radioactive material.
Such a bomb would be straightforward to construct if terrorists hadaccess to radioactive material and were able to transport it withoutdetection.
The obvious place to obtain radioactive material would be from a nuclearweapon. It is not unknown for criminals to offer such material.
But to most experts' knowledge no such dirty bomb has actually beenbuilt.
Difficult to counter
Experts say that such a weapon could be locally devastating as well ascausing fear and panic nationally.
The dispersal of radioactive material in an urban area could have severeconsequences for anyone who was contaminated with radioactive material,though depending upon how much nuclear material was present theconventional explosive could cause the most damage.
Effective decontamination would present health authorities with severeproblems not least because the extent of the nuclear fall-out would atfirst be unknown and because of the large numbers of unaffected peoplewho would demand treatment.
The 1995 Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway demonstrated just howdifficult it can be to deal with such events. A dirty nuclear bomb wouldbe far more difficult to counter.
A contaminated region could be rendered uninhabitable for years andpeople exposed to radiation would have to be monitored for the rest oftheir lives. Those contaminated could be subjected to an increased riskof cancer and other diseases.
In the past decade there have been over 175 cases of terrorist andcriminal incidents involving the smuggling and attempted procurement ofradioactive material. It has been speculated that some nuclear materialwas lost after the chaotic fragmentation of the Soviet Union.
In the wake of the Cold War, for example, large numbers of smallportable nuclear generators were simply abandoned in former Sovietterritory.
Late last year, three woodcutters in northwest Georgia suffered massiveinjuries after stumbling on one of these radio thermal generators in theforest.
Alternatively, nuclear material could be stolen from a hospital, a foodirradiation plant or some other research site. A recent official studysaid that US business and research facilities had simply lost track ofnearly 1500 pieces of equipment with radioactive parts since 1996.
In January it was reported that in the wake of last September'sterrorist attacks President Bush put the US Nuclear Energy Support Team(Nest) on standby with orders to covertly search for any evidence thatsuch a dirty bomb attack could be being planned.
It has been reported that Nest surveillance teams have been patrollingsome cities with unmarked vans containing gamma-ray and neutrondetectors (both signatures of radioactive materials) to determine ifsuch a terrorist cell planning such an attack could be detected.
Since it was established in 1975 Nest has responded to over 100 cases ofnuclear threats from criminals and terrorists. They were all hoaxes. return to menu
B. Cooperative Threat Reduction
1. Throw the Net Worldwide
Ashton B. Carter
June 12, 2002
(for personal use only)
There's been much talk in the past few weeks about failures to connectthe dots to find a pattern that might have alerted us to the terroristplot of Sept. 11. Recently I visited a dot in a more fearsome patternconfiguring the virtual certainty of mass terror involving nuclear,chemical or biological weapons if the international coalition does notextend its efforts from hunting al Qaeda-like cells to locking up theingredients of mass destruction.
The dot I visited was at Mayak, east of the Ural Mountains in AsianRussia. There, a huge concrete sarcophagus rises from the landscape. Itspurpose is to entomb some 20,000 nuclear bombs' worth of plutonium andhighly enriched uranium. Russia is dismantling the Soviet Union's ColdWar surplus warheads. The fissile metal chunks taken out of the bombswill be placed in stainless steel cans and the cans embedded in aconcrete "massif," itself enclosed within 16-foot thick walls. Access toand from this fortress will be highly restricted and monitored with thelatest in radiation and other sensors.
Fortunately, when the sarcophagus is completed, it will be nearlyimpossible for a terrorist raid, or even a military assault, to breachMayak's security. This fortress is being built with U.S. Department ofDefense funds, through the foresight of former senator Sam Nunn and Sen.Dick Lugar, who led last week's trip to Mayak. The Defense program,universally known as Nunn-Lugar, is probably the wisest investment insecurity, dollar for dollar, of any piece of the defense budget.
Unfortunately the cans of fissile material have not yet been loweredinto the massif at Mayak, nor will they be for several more years. Onlya fraction of Russia's huge store of fissile materials, enough for astaggering 80,000 bombs, has yet been furnished with the latestprotections. And if terrorists such as al Qaeda get such materials,there will be no shield of deterrence or negotiation as there wasbetween Washington and Moscow; terrorists will simply use them.
Worse news, and far less well known, is that caches of bomb-makingpotential literally dot the globe. Research reactors in nations fromSerbia to Ghana use bomb-sized quantities of highly enriched uranium asfuel. Pakistan and India brandish nuclear arsenals. Pakistan's politicalfuture is at least as shaky as Russia's was in 1992, when the Nunn-Lugarprogram began. Plutonium remains in North Korea, though under U.S. andinternational observation. Even non-nuclear allies such as Japan andBelgium have repositories of weapons-capable plutonium as a byproduct oftheir nuclear power programs.
Nowhere is this material protected to anything like Mayak's standards,and in many cases there are not even armed guards at the repositories.The grim bottom line is that the wherewithal for nuclear terrorismexists in scores of nations and in hundreds of individual buildings.Once these materials get out, they are extremely difficult to locate andretrieve. And once a terrorist fashions a bomb from them, no vaccine orantibiotic offers protection.
After leaving Mayak, I traveled with Nunn and Lugar to the "hot zone" ofa once-secret city in Siberia that houses the only known smallpoxculture outside the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention inAtlanta. Another dot. The ingredients of biological and chemicalterrorism are even more widely available than fissile material, sincemany are widespread and necessary parts of industry and scientificpractice.
In short, sleeper cells of the makings for catastrophic terrorism dotthe globe. If a bomb goes off in New York, Moscow or Berlin, won't it beclear in hindsight that we should have connected these dots?
What is needed, as Nunn and Lugar have pointed out, is a globalcoalition against catastrophic terrorism, patterned on the coalitionformed after 9/11. It should be spearheaded by the United States and theRussian Federation, a forward-looking move for Bush and Putin, and arefreshing change from once again declaring an end to the Cold War.
Members of the coalition against catastrophic terrorism would includeevery nation that has something to safeguard or that can make acontribution to safeguarding it, including Europe, Japan, China, India,Pakistan and the many nations that host research reactors usingweapons-grade fuel. All nations, however much they might differ overpolicies on the nuclear arsenals possessed by governments, can recognizea clear shared interest in unifying to keep weapons of mass destructionaway from terrorists.
Each member could make a contribution to the coalition's activitiescommensurate with its capabilities and traditions. As with the coalitionagainst al Qaeda, this one would extend its reach to wherever in theworld the means for terrorism using weapons of mass destruction can befound. Nations in the coalition would cooperate to combat such terrorismin all phases -- prevention, detection, protection, interdiction andcleanup.
For nuclear weapons, the coalition would agree to world-class standardsfor protecting all fissile material everywhere as though it were a bomb.Assistance could be offered to those who need help meeting thestandards. Coalition members could also agree to come to one another'said to find materials lost or seized.
For bioterrorism, the coalition would develop world-class standards forsafeguarding such pathogens as the Siberian smallpox cache, developpublic health surveillance methods to detect bioterrorism in its earlystages and perform cooperative research in vaccines, treatments,forensics and decontamination.
The coalition approach would open a new and more important front in thewar on terrorism. It would also extend the principles of the successfulNunn-Lugar program in a new way -- from dots in Russia to dotsworldwide, from a Pentagon-funded program to wider internationalparticipation, and from a focus on putting the Cold War behind us tofocusing on the 21st century's most riveting security problem. return to menu
2. Bellona suggests peace prize to nuclear safety
June 11, 2002
(for personal use only)
For their intensive efforts to secure radioactive material in Russia andformer Soviet republics, Bellona supports to nominate the two Americansenators Richard Lugar and Sam Nunn for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Nobody has done more for securing radioactive material in Russia overthe last decade than the two American Senators Sam Nunn (D) and RichardLugar (Rep.). In the autumn of 1991, while the Soviet Union was on thebrink of collapse, the two Senators took the initiative to establish aninternational co-operative effort to reduce the global threat fromweapons of mass destruction held in the former Soviet Union. At thattime, the administration of President George Bush was not supportive ofNunn and Lugar's proposal to spend hundreds of millions of dollars onnon-proliferation in the USSR. But Nunn and Lugar prevailed in pushingthrough the legislation in late November 1991, creating the programmenamed Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR). President Bush signed theNunn-Lugar initiative into law in December 1991, the last month of theexistence of the Soviet Union.
$2 billion to nuclear security
Since the start in 1991, the United States has spent more than $2billion through its CTR programme on dismantlement of nuclear missiles,submarines and securing fissile material. The programme also includesprovision of financial support to approximately 20,000 former Sovietweapons scientists and engineers who have been given employment inresearch projects of potential benefits to the civilian economy. CTR hasalso initiated projects for securing Russia's huge arsenal of withdrawnchemical weapons.
Most successful cooperation with Russia
Bellona argues that Nunn-Lugar's CTR programme has been the mostsuccessful in the work of decommissioning of nuclear submarines in theRussian Arctic. Economical and technical support has been provided tothe shipyards in Severodvinsk and the Nerpa shipyards at the KolaPeninsula. So far 21 strategic submarines are decommissioned with aidfrom the Nunn-Lugar programme. By 2007, this number will increase to 41.
Kola and Severodvinsk in focus
CTR has invested $75 millions in cutting equipment at the naval yardZvezdochka in Severodvinsk and Nerpa at the Kola Peninsula. Another $140million are spent on the actual decommissioning work. CTR has also spent$57 million on various equipment and containers for handling and storingof fissile materials such as spent nuclear fuel from the submarines.
Monday's news on an al-Quaida terrorist's plan to make and detonate aradiological bomb in the United States shows clearly the importance ofthe work on securing the various sites where radioactive material can beobtained. Around Russia, hundreds of sites with radioactive waste anddifferent fissile materials have bad physical protection.
A threat with new aspects
The involvement of senators Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar against theproliferation of weapons of mass destruction should, in Bellona's view,represent an example to be followed by other countries. The aftermathof September 11th has with clarity proved that terrorist groupings withrelatively sparse resources are capable of creating massive securitychallenges to the world society.
When terrorist groupings such as Al-Quaida make plans for takingradiological weapons into use, the world must take the responsibility ofsecuring these materials. Bellona refers to the initiative of Nunn andLugar, which in a very explicit way demonstrates that decommissioningand environmental initiatives are two sides of the same issue. The bestway to support this issue is to further acknowledge the work throughawarding the Nobel Peace Prize to Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar.
The Nobel Committee positive towards issues of the environmentBy awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to Nunn and Lugar, Bellona believesthat other countries will improve their aid to Russia regarding securityof radioactive materials. If that were to be the case, both world peaceand the environmental battle would be considered winners.
Last year, the head of the Nobel Committee, Gunnar Berge, expressedhimself in positive terms concerning the possibility to consider thecriteria of the Nobel Peace Prize somewhat differently in the future.
-- The Nobel Committee does not operate within a vacuum. We are subjectto a constant influence from the society surrounding us. Global heatingand increasing water levels seems to strike those already lessfortunate. This may be the source of new conflicts. It is therefore onlynatural to more closely connect the two issues of peacekeeping andenvironmental battle, Gunnar Berge said to the Norwegian daily VG.
established during the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and initiallycontributed to Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and Belarus returning their nuclearwarheads to Russia.
Financed the decommissioning of 435 intercontinental nuclear missiles,410 missile silos, 88 long-range bombers, 483 cruise missiles withnuclear warheads, 640 submarine missiles, 21 strategic nuclearsubmarines. In total, 5,728 deployed nuclear warheads are withdrawn bymeans of support from the CTR programme. This figure constitutes morenuclear weapons than Great Britain, France and China hold together.
Development of technology in Russia for the securing and destructionof chemical weapons.
Improved security of fissile materials at more than 50 locations inRussia, the Kola Peninsula and Severodvinsk included.
Financial support to more than 20,000 researchers formerly employed atdifferent Russian manufacturers of nuclear weapons, allowing them toemploy their knowledge in the civil society rather than to sell theirservices to other countries or networks of terrorism.
Richard Lugar is still in the position of Senator, whereas Sam Nunnwithdrew from his position in 1996. Today Nunn is the chairman of theboard of the centre for international studies in Washington, and spendsmuch of his time on the organisation Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI),which he founded together with the founder of the CNN, Ted Turner. NTIworks to prevent the dissemination of weapons of mass destruction, andfocuses particularly on Russia. return to menu
C. Export Controls/Second Line of Defense
1. Soviets trained in detecting radiation: U.S. Customs focuses onthwarting smugglers overseas
Gary Fields and Sharon Begley
Wall Street Journal
June 12, 2002
(for personal use only)
The first line of defense in the government's fight to keep terroristsfrom smuggling a dirty bomb into the U.S. isn't at the nation's borders- it's at ports thousands of miles away in the former Soviet Union.
Since Sept. 11, the Bush administration has dispatched neutron fluxdetectors and gamma ray detectors that can detect nuclear materials topoints of entry around Washington, New York and other major cities. Atthe same time, the U.S. Customs Service has outfitted its inspectorswith some 4,000 personal radiation detectors - souped-up Geiger counters- with plans to provide another 4,500 in the coming months. Customs alsohas been installing radiation detectors large enough for cars and trucksto pass through, at some border crossings. Beyond that, customs has beenusing State Department and Pentagon funds and working jointly with theEnergy Department to boost training for its agents and those of foreignagents from the former Soviet Union. In recent years, the agency hasshipped more than 600 radiation detectors to those countries to helpauthorities there stop smugglers. While no smuggling has been detectedsince the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, agents have been on highest alertsince then.
OBTAINING NUCLEAR MATERIALS
Monday's announcement that an American citizen had been working with alQaeda to detonate a dirty bomb in the U.S. has renewed concerns about alQaeda's abilities to obtain nuclear materials. The alleged al Qaedascout, Jose Padilla, now being held at a Navy brig in Charleston, S.C.,was on a mission to pinpoint either bomb sites or potential places tofind nuclear materials, law-enforcement officials said.
Unlike the military's nuclear arsenal, a dirty bomb is made withradioactive material that is wrapped around explosives. Rather thansetting off a nuclear reaction, the bomb disperses relatively low-levelradiation in a limited area.
"We have improved our training and detection capabilities and we arepushing our zone of security out further," said Customs CommissionerRobert Bonner. The agency is focusing on Eastern Europe from Estonia,Latvia and Lithuania, in the north to Turkey, Cyprus and Malta in thesouth.
One customs official said the agency fears that "a lot of unsecured[radioactive] material in the former Soviet Union" is being smuggledinto Uzbekistan, which abuts Afghanistan and is near Iran, Iraq andPakistan. "We don't want this stuff going there," he said. Much of thematerial comes from weapons programs and power-generating plants.
RADIOACTIVE LEAD CONTAINERS
One smuggled shipment nearly ended up in Pakistan in March 2000, customsofficials said. The hand-held radiation detectors provided by the U.S.started beeping wildly when a truck filled with scrap metal tried tocross the Uzbekistan border. Inside, agents found 10 radioactive leadcontainers, and an Iranian driver intent on delivering his load toQuetta, Pakistan, a border town known as a smuggling center toAfghanistan.
Detection is a matter of the training and equipment that needs to beclose by to pick up radioactive materials as opposed to satellites,which are too far away, scientists say.
"To detect a suitcase bomb you have to get very close," said seniorscientist Thomas B. Cochran at the Natural Resources Defense Council inWashington, D.C. "If the radioactive source is plutonium, a neutrondetector can see it up to a few tens of meters away." Gamma detectors,which sense the radiation signature of cobalt-60 and cesium-137 needfairly sophisticated instrumentation to sort out the energy spectra ofthe radiation; that spectrum determines whether the source is plutoniumor uranium-235, or some innocuous background source, Dr. Cochran said.These work from a few meters away - with one obvious caveat: "If it'sshielded, you'll never see it."
'THOUSANDS OF FACILITIES'
"Radioactive materials that could be used for such attacks are stored inthousands of facilities around the U.S., many of which may not beadequately protected against theft by determined terrorists," said HenryKelly, a physicist with the Federation of American Scientists.Radioactive materials are used in laboratories, food-irradiation plants,oil-drilling facilities and medical centers, among other places.
The agency also is getting permission from foreign countries to stationinspectors in their ports, looking at ship containers that come in,rather than waiting for them to arrive in the U.S. and be inspected.Canada is already allowing it and Singapore, the world's second largestport in terms of shipping containers, recently agreed to let U.S.inspectors come there. Customs also is in discussions with Tokyo,Rotterdam, Netherlands and Antwerp, Belgium. return to menu
1. Moscow Surprised at US Under Secretary of State John Bolton's Statement
June 11, 2002
(for personal use only)
The statement by US Under Secretary of State John Bolton on Russia'spolicy in the field of non-proliferation of mass destruction weapons andmissile technologies surprised Moscow, said official spokesman forRussia's Foreign Ministry Alexander Yakovenko on Tuesday at a briefingfor journalists.
According to the diplomat, mass media published John Bolton's statementon Russia's alleged contribution to proliferation of mass destructionweapons and missile technologies. In this connection Yakovenko recalledthat "Russia attaches great importance to the issues ofnon-proliferation of mass destruction weapons and thoroughly fulfils itsinternational obligations." At all international forums and in itsconcrete policy Russia speaks for consolidation of the non-proliferationregime. "It is an important element of Russia's policy," Yakovenko said.
"[The US] should not make such statements without presenting facts. Wehave opportunities and channels to discuss with the US any anxiety asconcerns weapons of mass destruction," stressed the Foreign Ministry'sofficial spokesman. return to menu
2. U.S.-Russia Ties Hinge on Weapons
Edith M. Lederer
June 10, 2002
(for personal use only)
The relationship between the United States and Russia depends on whetherMoscow stops providing Iran and other "rogue states" with technologythat could be used to develop and deliver weapons of mass destruction, asenior U.S. State Department official said Monday.
Russia possesses nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and theballistic missiles to deliver them "and over the years has pursuedpolicies that have led, and continue to lead in our judgment, to theproliferation of these weapons," said Undersecretary of State JohnBolton.
He said Monday's announcement that an American citizen has been accusedof conspiring with al-Qaida terrorists to detonate a radioactive "dirty"bomb in the United States highlighted the critical importance of unitingthe war against terrorism and the campaign to prevent the proliferationof weapons of mass destruction - and the need for full Russian support.
Fusing these two campaigns "is and will remain a very high priority forthe administration to make sure that states ... don't have thecapability to blackmail us or even worse to use these weapons," Boltontold a luncheon meeting of B'nai B'rith International's Council onUnited Nations Affairs.
If the United States and Russia work together, he said, they "can have apotentially critical effect on the potential for terrorists to get theirhands on chemical, biological or nuclear weapons or ... ballisticmissile technology."
But U.S. officials are concerned at Moscow's apparent transfer ofmilitarily useful technology to Iran, which along with Iraq and NorthKorea have been designated by President Bush as an "axis of evil" linkedto terrorists. Last month, a senior U.S. official expressed concern atRussian assistance that enabled Iran to develop a missile with theability to strike NATO countries in Europe for the first time.
On the positive side, Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin signedan arms control treaty last month calling for each nation's nucleararsenal to be cut by two-thirds, and Russia and NATO have embarked on anew, closer relationship.
Bolton said the United States is urging the Russian government andpeople to stop the proliferation of technologies for weapons of massdestruction in their own interest.
If the United States, its allies and Russia can work together, "thatwill be a very substantial contribution to reducing the threat thatterrorists pose for us by the ability to acquire weapons of massdestruction in international markets and from state sponsors ofterrorism," Bolton said. return to menu
3. Construction and Commissioning - Iran
Generation: Nuclear Power Quarterly
(for personal use only)
The Russian-led Bushehr-1 nuclear power project is four months behindschedule due to continued work finalising engineering design details.The VVER reactor is being built in the structure designed for an older,German reactor project that was never finished. First operation is nowplanned by April 2004. Russia and Iran are talking about constructing asecond 1000 MW NPP at Bushehr. return to menu
E. Multilateral Threat Reduction
1. Moscow Stands Against Ignoring the Role of the UN Security Council inthe Issue of Non-Proliferation
June 12, 2002
(for personal use only)
Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov believes it to be important toavoid any unilateral actions, more so by-passing the UN SecurityCouncil, when it concerns non-proliferation and the ban on theproduction of weapons of mass destruction. The Russian Foreign Ministertold reporters about it in the Canadian town of Whistler on Wednesday.
Igor Ivanov pointed out that such actions could only complicate thesolution "of these cardinal, vitally important problems for all." Today,he said, we place at one level the fight against international terrorismand the strengthening of the non-proliferation regimes.
Commenting on the possible adoption by the United States of the documenton national defence, which provides for the possibility of delivering apre-emptive strike at the countries which, according to some reasons,produce weapons of mass destruction, Igor Ivanov said that "both Russiaand the United States and, I hope, other countries, too, are notinterested in the appearance of weapons of mass destruction somewhere,more so, in their appearance in the hands of extremist groups." "Fromour point of view, there are a lot of economic, political and diplomaticmeasures which can help resolve this problem," said Igor Ivanov.
The ministers are working out recommendations for consolidating thenon-proliferation regime within the framework of the Group of EightCountries. According to Igor Ivanov, "this is a wide range of proposalswhich concern all aspects of the consolidation of the non-proliferationregime." The Russian Foreign Minister believes that "in this respect wemust act under the aegis of the United Nations Security Council, so thatthe number of the countries, which would take the same measures in thissphere, would grow as much as possible." return to menu
2. U.S. presses allies on nuclear security
Warren P. Strobel
Knight Ridder Newspapers
June 11, 2002
(for personal use only)
The United States is lobbying its European allies and Japan to spend $10billion to prevent terrorists from gaining access to nuclear, chemicaland biological materials dispersed across the former Soviet Union.
That amount, spread over the next decade, would roughly match what theUnited States is expected to spend on a wide range of protections,including better security at Russian weapons sites, disposal ofweapons-grade nuclear materials and destruction of stocks of chemicalarms.
The nuclear attacks that worry experts are far more devastating than the"dirty bomb" at the heart of a plot that U.S. authorities disclosedyesterday.
The U.S. initiative is an attempt to transform what has been primarilyan American preoccupation into a global priority. It will be on theagenda when President Bush meets with the leaders of the G-8 - theworld's seven wealthiest nations, plus Russia - inAlberta, Calgary, on June 26-27.
Along with the United States, Russia and France, members of the G-8 areCanada, Italy, Germany, Great Britain and Japan.
So far, Bush's plan for a cooperative global effort to deal with thethreat that some of this material could fall into terrorists' hands hasbeen met with praise from Washington's foreign partners - but no hardoffers of cash.
The United States spends roughly $1 billion per year on "threatreduction" programs. Outside experts have said that amount is woefullyinadequate.
"The problem is the Europeans, the Japanese have been operating at afraction of that speed for the last decade," a senior State Departmentofficial said yesterday.
Worldwide stockpiles of separated plutonium and highly enriched uranium,the key ingredients of nuclear weapons, total about 500 tons and 1.870tons respectively, according to a report last month by experts atHarvard University. Even minimal security upgrades have beenaccomplished for only 40 percent of Russian bomb material, the reportstates.
Japan has made no decisions about how much it will contribute, anembassy spokeswoman said.
Bush himself initially proposed cutting "threat reduction" programs inthe former Soviet Union, and some of his aides questioned their value.Congress boosted funding after the Sept. 11 attacks.
The White House has proposed spending slightly more than $1 billion infiscal year 2003, roughly the same as this year.
The Harvard report called that amount far too little, noting that it isa small fraction of the $38 billion allocated to homeland security. return to menu
F. Russian Nuclear Cities
1. Over 50 per cent of Russia's scientific, industrial potential is inclosed towns
June 11, 2002
(for personal use only)
Source: Ren TV, Moscow, in Russian 1730 gmt 10 Jun 02
[Presenter] According to the Russian VTSIOM [centre for studyingpeople's opinion] about 20 per cent of Russians say that they can'tendure the poor economic situation any more, 25 per cent of populationthink that the economic situation is bearable. However, about 50 percent say that life is difficult but bearable and they do not expect itto change to the better in the next few years. Only 19 per cent ofRussians are ready to fight for their rights at barricades.
It is highly unlikely that residents of the Russian westernmost closedtown of Zarechnyy [Penza Region] will join them though their discontentin the coming changes is growing.
The thing is that the Start enterprise where nuclear warheads aredisassembled is in this town. With every coming year a defence order isdecreasing and prospects for the town to be open to public become moreand more real. This scares the town residents as thanks to the specialstatus apart from the barbed wire they have a golden flow of money fromMoscow [state] budget. Correspondent Aleksandr Zhestkov gives thedetails.
[Correspondent] People of this town do not need garages for their cars,they can leave cars anywhere and not even lock them. The crime rate hereis almost the lowest in Russia.
[Viktor Gvozdev, the deputy head of Zarechnyy administration, captioned]Our people are not used to see homeless and other similar things. Wedon't have this and if the town is open all sort of people will startcoming here.
[Correspondent] The status of the closed town implies not only a barbedwire and a special regime but a separate line in the federal budgetwhich gives the town money to live on.
[omitted: about low mortgage rates]
The mayor of the town is a former FSB colonel, his deputies - formerlieutenant-colonels. Their main concern now is to set up a marketinfrastructure and to create new jobs for people if the town becomesopen.
[omitted: about producing sacks for sugar]
It has been calculated that this [sack making] workshop will bring thetown's budget as much money as Zarechnyy's nuclear enterprise isbringing.
However, staff of this plant is also cautious when speaking about thepossible openness of Zarechnyy.
[Dmitriy Yevstigneyev, chief engineer of the Politron enterprise] Wewill have to have more security as after a 12-hour shift people willstart leaving the plant at 2000 local time and we will need to protectthem.
The town's mayor office is working out plans to keep the barbed wire andsecurity regime after Zarechnyy is open. But the residents will have topay for it themselves as the money flow from the federal budget willstop.
[Presenter] There are 60 closed towns in Russia at present. Zarechnyy isone of them. About three million people live in these towns where 50 percent of the country's scientific and industrial potential isconcentrated.
[Video shows a new flat, the Politron plant, streets of the town,officials commenting] return to menu
G. Russian Nuclear Industry
1. Russia To Bid For Finnish Nuclear Power Plant Contract
June 10, 2002
(for personal use only)
Russia intends to bid for the construction of a nuclear reactor inFinland, the Russian minister for atomic energy, Alexander Roumiantsev,told the Itar-Tass agency on Monday.
The Finnish parliament last month gave the go-ahead for the constructionof a fifth reactor to be operational by 2010. The project had beenrepeatedly shelved since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.
A call for bids should take place in the coming three or four months forthe construction of the reactor for an estimated price of around 1.5billion dollars (1.59 billion euros).
Russia will be bidding against Britain, France, Germany, Sweden and theUnited States but stands a fair chance of winning, the Russian ministertold Itar-Tass.
He indicated that Finnish experts recently visited the site of aRussian-built reactor under construction in China. Finland already hastwo nuclear power plants with two reactors each.
The decision to allow a fifth reactor angered environmentalists, whofear it will send the wrong message to the rest of Europe.
The Green League, a member of Finland's ruling coalition, warned that itmight withdraw from the government in protest.
A number of European countries, including Sweden and Germany, arepreparing to phase out nuclear power.
But energy shortages, international agreements to cut greenhouse gasemissions, and the lack of viable alternatives have forced somegovernments to reconsider its benefits. return to menu
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