In an effort to vie with the US's capability, the former Soviet Unionbuilt up a vast WMD stockpile and accumulation of expertise, the resultof a military-industrial complex which consumed a large proportion ofthe region's resources.
The result today is the following in WMD:
Nuclear: an estimated 5,500 deployed strategic missiles; severalthousand tactical nuclear weapons; several thousand stored nuclearwarheads.
The best protected from loss or theft are those armed on missiles.Upwards of 600 tonnes of weapons-grade nuclear material exists instorage; a further 600 tonnes is contained in up to 40,000 weapons.Nuclear procurement has dropped sharply, especially with the removal ofMarshal Sergeyev, the former defence minister and a convinced "ColdWarrior" in 2001. No Topol-M missiles were ordered last year with scarcemilitary resources being channelled instead into conventional weapons.
There is widespread access, information, and considerable foreignfunding for threat-reduction initiatives. This is the area most subjectto international scrutiny and assistance, and where most help to reducethe risk of proliferation has been made. That includes help to allowspecialists in nuclear cities to convert their military skills forcivilian use, clean-up assistance, theconversion and purchase of materials, and efforts to improve physicalsecurity. Problems with decommissioning, notably of nuclear submarines,remain. Russia has so far stalled on widespread agreements limiting theliability of international contractors involved in clean-up.
Chemical: an estimated 40,000 tonnes are stockpiled in seven sites.Russia is party to the chemical weapons convention and foreign expertshave access to sites. Considerable foreign funding has been provided fordestruction of stockpiles, matched by Russian funds - with a notableacceleration since the civilian-run Munitions Agency took charge ofdecommissioning in 1999. But destruction has not yet begun, and Russiahas formally requested an extension of the convention's 2007 deadline to2012, which may still prove far too ambitious.
Biological: This is the most secretive area. There are three militaryresearch centres where foreign observers have never been granted access.The former "Biopreparat" centres, which produced biological weaponsunder a civilian cover, insist that they undertake biotechnologyresearch and are no longer involved in military work. No verificationprocedures exist. This is in part due to the US's refusal to agree tothe creation of an international bioweapons inspection body, claimingthat visits by foreign scientists to US biotechnology centres could riskviolating commercial secrets. The Russian government claims it hasdestroyed all stockpiles, but the military maintains that extensivecultures still exist.
First use: The Russian military doctrine published in 1993, andreiterated in 2000, has provided for first nuclear strikes as a lastresort, mirroring NATO strategy. It would apply, in principle, only inthe event of an attack threatening the Russian homeland or Russianforces by a nuclear power or a non-nuclear power in alliance with anon-nuclear one.
While Cold Warriors are still a pervasive force in the Russian militaryhierarchy, and troop deployments follow the continued logic of aconflict in Europe, the political and military rhetoric is increasinglyturning to the need for small, mobile troop deployments usingconventional weapons along the new flashpoints of Russia's southernborders: within Chechnya, along the Georgian borders and into CentralAsia. Vladimir Putin recently re-emphasised the importance of a Russianmilitary presence in the Caspian. There are increasing politicalconcerns about the growing role of China.
Leakage: There are periodic reports of equipment failures, including arecent fire in a missile base near Moscow. Rare large-scale events(radiation in Chelyabinsk in the 1960s; an anthrax spill in Ekaterinburgin 1979) have occurred in the past, although nothing serious has beenreported in the post-Soviet period.
Dirty bombs: There are thousands of sites where quantities ofradioactive material exist, from research, industrial and medicalpurposes. Although small, the quantities could be sufficient to createdirty bombs. There is limited security and little foreign aid
This is the least examined area, but considered to be of increasingconcern.
Scientists: Tens of thousands of scientists and technical specialistswere involved in the Soviet military effort, although the numbers whohave sufficient overview to develop weapons elsewhere is far morelimited. Centres are under-funded or being closed, wages are a fractionof their former levels in real terms, and the traditional perks (forexample, cheap food) in the former research centres no longer exist.
There have been efforts by foreign organisations such as theInternational Science and Technology Center (ISTC) to fosterinternational academic cooperation and initiatives to develop commercialpartnerships. Most scientists remain relatively badly paid, but claimtheir situation has been improving recently improved after really toughtimes in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Sergei Ivanov, the Russian defence minister and former senior FSB/KGBofficer, has said that he has no evidence of WMD materials or equipmentfalling into foreign hands but added that there may have been sometransfer of people and expertise.
Most of the handful of claims by Russian agencies of proliferation overthe past decade are impossible to verify. They may be motivated as muchby a desire to seek additional funding and justify their existence andprove their worth as much as resulting from fact.
Guards: This is an area of concern which is frequently overlooked.Officially controlled by the military, foreign influence and funding tohelp the situation has been limited. There are regular reports in theRussian media of theft, suicide, violence and demoralisation among thelow-status guards who are poorly paid and lack good housing. Thesituation may deteriorate further, given current plans to sharply reducethe size of the armed forces.
Physical security: Thefts of material are regularly reported within theCIS. Surveys by US organisations have documented missing or unlockeddoors and low-grade security. But what is initially labelled as "weaponsgrade" frequently turns out in reality to be low-grade materialunsuitable for weapons.
Export: Effort has concentrated on supplies to the civilian nuclearpower industry in Iran. The Bushehr reactor was originally conceivedwith help from German companies. Russia took the project over, and is atan advanced stage of supplies in a contract worth more than $800m. TheUS has deemed it a "dual risk" - in other words, that it could beadapted for military means. Russia insists that sufficient safeguardsare in place to prevent such a shift.
The CIS: Many argue that the former Soviet countries of the Commonwealthof Independent States (CIS) provide a greater risk of proliferation thanRussia. Most are worse off economically, continue to house formermilitary facilities and stockpiles, and have specialists who worked onweapons programmes. However, the facilities and expertise were also morethinly dispersed than in Russia. For example, all of the USSR's ten"closed cities" involved in nuclear military research and developmentwere based in Russia, not in its neighbours. return to menu
B. Nonproliferation Budget
1. Nuclear Weapon Supplies At Risk
June 25, 2002
(for personal use only)
Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Senate expect to boost legislationtoday that would add more than $100 million annually to the effort tosecure overseas stockpiles of radioactive material.
Staffers for Sen. Pete Domenici, a New Mexico republican, said he wouldattempt to amend a $379 billion defense bill to seek the additionalfunding. The amendment primarily would bolster programs aimed atsafeguarding Russia's aging nuclear weapons program. It also wouldprovide additional money to help track down radioactive devices theUnited States shipped to 33 countries for disposal that have sincedisappeared.
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported Sunday that there are so fewcontrols on tracking low-level radioactive waste that the NuclearRegulatory Commission has no idea how much waste is generateddomestically each year. Federal officials also say they need moreresources to recover radioactive material that could be fashioned into aso-called dirty bomb.
The issue has taken a high profile following the Sept. 11 terroristattacks. A terrorist suspect was arrested recently and accused ofplotting a "dirty bomb" attack against the United States.
In a compromise to build support for passage, the new legislation wouldscale back an earlier request for an additional $400 million moreannually to such programs.
Domenici's legislation already has secured some high-profile support.Co-sponsors include Sens. Joseph Biden, a Delaware Democrat; and RichardLugar, an Indiana Republican, both former presidential candidates.
Congressional staffers familiar with the latest strategy said thelegislation had a good chance at passage.
Attempts to reach Pennsylvania Sens. Arlen Specter and Rick Santorum,both Republicans, were not successful yesterday.
The United States currently spends from $1 billion to $1.5 billionannually on nuclear nonproliferation issues.
The legislation would pump an additional $40 million annually intoprograms that render highly enriched uranium and plutonium in Russiaunsuitable for nuclear weapons. The legislation also would allow othercountries to participate in that program for the first time.
An additional $30 million annually would go to research into how todetect and respond to acts of radiological terrorism. One method wouldbe to provide radiation censor devices at border crossings. Another $30million would be available for increasing foreign aid for safeguardingnuclear reactors overseas from terrorist assaults and theft.
Some of the new money would be used to secure orphaned industrialradioactive devices in foreign countries. According to a March 2001report from the U.S. Department of Energy, some of those devices hadbeen shipped overseas by the U.S. government.
That report said that the federal government shipped radioactive-ladendevices to 33 countries, beginning in 1954. Those shipments continuedfor decades, but the federal government no longer can account for thosedevices, the report stated. All of the devices together contained about5 pounds of plutonium.
The legislation follows the release in January 2001 of a report from atask force chaired by former U.S. Sen. Howard Baker, a TennesseeRepublican; and Lloyd Cutler, former White House counsel to PresidentCarter and President Clinton. Their report called for $30 billion to bespent over the next 10 years to secure Russia's radioactive stockpile.
"The most urgent unmet national security threat to the United Statestoday is the danger that weapons of mass destruction or weapons-usablematerial in Russia could be stolen and sold to terrorists or hostilenation states and used against American troops abroad or citizens athome," the report concluded.
That report found that Russia built more than 40,000 nuclear weaponsduring the Cold War and has enough highly enriched uranium and plutoniumto build another 40,000 nuclear weapons. It also documented delays inpayments to guards at nuclear facilities and inadequate protections ofstockpiles.
The report listed several attempted thefts of radioactive sources,including the December 1998 arrest of an employee from Russia's premiernuclear weapons laboratory in Sarov, in central Russia southwest ofMoscow. The individual was arrested for espionage and charged withattempting to sell documents on nuclear weapons designs to agents ofIraq and Afghanistan for $3 million, the report stated.
In addition, when Russia officials reported that case, they confirmedthat this was not the first case of nuclear theft at Sarov. Theyexplained that such thefts were the result of the "very difficultfinancial position" of workers at such defense enterprises. return to menu
C. Spent Nuclear Fuel
1. Russia Plans To Build Dumpsite On Arctic Archipelago To Store SpentSubmarine Fuel
June 21, 2002
(for personal use only)
Russia will build a dumping facility on the Arctic Novaya Zemlyaarchipelago to store nuclear waste from the decommissioned NorthernFleet submarines, a top nuclear official said Friday.
State environmental experts have given approval to build a dumpsite thatcould hold 50,000 metric tons (55,000 tons) of waste, and localauthorities have also sanctioned the project which is expected to costabout dlrs 70 million, Valery Lebedev, Russia's deputy nuclear powerminister, said at a news conference.
Engineers will begin design work on the project next year, he said at anews conference.
Lebedev said the project was vital for dismantling 190 decommissionednuclear-powered submarines, two thirds of which are located in thenorth.
"Building the dumpsite is a task of national importance," Lebedev said.
Officials have said that nuclear fuel has been removed from only 97submarines, while others have languished dockside with nuclear fuelaboard for as long as 15 years, as the shortage of funds stalled theconstruction of dismantling and storage facilities.
The entire dismantling effort was estimated to cost dlrs 2.5- 3 billion- a huge sum for the cash strapped Russian government. Some EuropeanUnion nations have offered to provide funds for dismantling thesubmarines, but the talks have been difficult because of Russia'srefusal to accept full legal responsibility for all nuclear risks, offertax breaks and give Western inspectors unlimited access to alldismantling sites.
Lebedev said the government would finance the construction of the newburial ground on Novaya Zemlya. He said it wasn't immediately clear howlong it would take to complete the project, but said that it could takefrom five to seven years to build the first part of the dumpsite,expected to hold 5,000 metric tons (5,500 tons) of waste and cost aboutdlrs 15 million.
The dumping facility would be located at the southern tip of NovayaZemlya archipelago which was used for nuclear tests during the Cold Wartimes, the last explosion there conducted in October 1990.
Moscow then introduced a moratorium on nuclear tests, and used thearchipelago for subcritical test explosions, in which plutonium isblasted with explosives too weak to set off an atomic explosion. Thosetests are not prohibited by the international Comprehensive Test BanTreaty, which Moscow signed in May 2000.
Officials have previously dismissed concerns that the planned burialfacility on Novaya Zemlya would accept nuclear waste imported fromabroad. Last summer, President Vladimir Putin signed a law allowingRussia to import spent nuclear fuel from other countries for storage andreprocessing. return to menu
D. Nuclear Terrorism/Smuggling
1. International Terror To Be In Focus At G8 Canada Summit
June 25, 2002
(for personal use only)
The upcoming G8 summit, due on June 26-27, will sum up results of thefirst stage of antiterrorist efforts and map out further goals in thisfield, reported Alexander Yakovenko, official representative of theRussian Foreign ministry.
The leaders of the leading countries will consider reports by theirforeign, interior, justice and finance ministers. In the opinion of theRussian diplomat, at this summit "a serious impulse will be given tocooperation in the matter of antiterrorist ensurance of internationaltransportation".
Yakovenko said that in this direction questions of G8 workinginteraction through relative departments are already being worked out.Specifically, agreement has been reached on the participation of theRussian federal frontier service in the 2002 drill of the G8 bordercontrol services. Cooperation between the Russian State CustomsCommittee and its partners will be held as daily electronic informationexchange for the ensurance of safe transit of high-risk cargoes/radiation, chemical and others/, more efficient work against thecontraband of arms and explosives.
Moscow believes that "efficient counteraction against terrorism is onlypossible within the framework of a broad comprehensive approach to thesolution of key problems of international security and strategicstability," stressed Alexander Yakovenko. return to menu
2. Missing: Soviet Radioactive Dust
June 21, 2002
(for personal use only)
Specialists tracking the world's radioactive material revealed a newconcern yesterday: a highly radioactive powder, used by the Soviets,whose location is currently unknown. The Soviet Union used the substancein a bizarre series of agricultural experiments, the specialists said, adisclosure that raises concerns that terrorists could acquire the powderand use it to fashion radioactive ''dirty bombs.''
Although details about the program remain murky, a spokeswoman for theInternational Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna said yesterday that it hadreceived reports of the program from ''reliable sources'' in Russia, aswell as photos of trucks used to move the powder around. The agency isalarmed because the powder is highly radioactive, easily dispersed, andunaccounted for.
''It is the post 9/11 era, and we don't want this stuff to get in thewrong hands,'' said Melissa Fleming, the IAEA spokeswoman.
Fleming said that the United States and Russia will announce Tuesday ajoint two-year program to locate and secure radiation sources thatauthorities lost track of when the Soviet Union fell apart, and thatfinding the powder will be one of their priorities. The joint program,which will be managed by the IAEA, will receive about $40 million,according to an article in today's issue of the journal Science, whichalso reported the existence of the agricultural program. An advance copyof the Science article was provided to journalists yesterday.The material used by the Soviets was a form of cesium-137 called cesiumchloride, Fleming said. According to IAEA's sources, the radioactivepowder was placed in the back of a truck, with heavy lead shielding toprotect the driver, and driven over fields, to expose planted seeds toradiation.
The precise purpose of the experiments is unclear, as is their timing,Fleming said. Exposure to radiation would cause random genetic changesin the seeds.
The experiments were abandoned, Fleming said, but it is not known whatwas done with the radioactive material. Such material becomes lesspowerful over time, but cesium-137 decays slowly, losing half of itspotency about every 30 years.
The security of radioactive material has been an increasing concern,especially since the US government announced earlier this month that ithad disrupted a plot to explode a radioactive bomb in the United States. return to menu
3. Deadly Soviet Caesium Is Missing
June 21, 2002
(for personal use only)
Large boxes of powdered caesium 137, a powerfully radioactive substance,are lost in the former Soviet Union. In the hands of terrorists, justone would provide enough "dirty bomb" material to badly contaminatelarge urban areas, forcing their evacuation and possibly theirabandonment.
These caesium sources are a major reason why the US has committed atleast $25 million in 2002 to an urgent effort to track lost radioactivesources in former Soviet states, as New Scientist reported on Thursday.
Media reports that the caesium was originally spread on fields in secretSoviet agricultural experiments are wrong, says MelissaFleming,spokesperson for the International Atomic Energy Agency inVienna, which is helping to coordinate the recovery drive. That wouldhave given rise to vast tracts of contaminated farmland, and probablyconsiderable human exposure.
But the truth may be worse. The ceasium was in fact enclosed withinshielded boxes, and used as a source of gamma rays to irradiate grain,to keep it from germinating in storage, says Abel Gonzales, director ofradiation and waste safety at the IAEA. The gamma rays were also used toinduce mutations in seeds, a common method for generating improved cropvarieties.
But because the caesium was used entirely as a source of radiation, itremained enclosed within the mobile gamma sources. Hence it is all stillthere, and with a half-life of 32 years, much of it is still veryradioactive.
The project, named "Kolos" after the Russian for an ear of corn, waslarge. "We have no idea how many of these sources there are," saysGonzales.
That is bad, because each of them contained 3500 Curies of caesium."That is very, very big," says Gonzales. By comparison, a caesium sourcelost from a hospital in Goiania, Brazil in 1987, which killed fourimmediately and exposed dozens more to heavy doses of radiation heldonly a few hundred Curies.
Unlike the solid Strontium-90 in lost nuclear power sources that havebeen the subject of recent searches in the former Soviet Union, ProjectKolos's caesium was powdered, so in theory it would be easy to pack intoa "dirty bomb" - or several. These bombs use conventional explosive toscatter radioactive material.
The sources were housed on trucks. But since the fall of the SovietUnion, the trucks have been diverted, so their potentially verylucrative cargoes could be anywhere, experts fear. US participants inthe joint Russian-US-IAEA drive to recover the sources say there will beexperts in the field in the next few weeks looking for clues. return to menu
4. Uranium Theft May Be Part of Decade Old Heist
June 21, 2002
(for personal use only)
Two kilograms from a uranium fuel rod discovered by traffic police inthe trunk of a car in Izhevsk, Southern Russia, may be part of a decadeold international heist from the Chepetsk Mechanical Plant, during which300 kilograms of low-enriched uranium were stolen in 1992 for resale inEurope and the Middle East.
The smuggling cartel that investigators say was behind the originaltheft at the plant - located in the town of Glazov in the AutonomousRepublic of Udmurtiya, Russia - has cast their nets for potentialclients and perpetrators from Russia to the Baltics, to Poland and tothe Middle East. According to investigators and news reports, amultimillion-dollar deal with Iran for some of the stolen material waseven brokered in Grozny, Chechnya, two years before the outbreak of opencivil war there.
Nuclear scientists were quick to point out that low-enriched uranium(LEU) would be infeasible for making bombs because sophisticated,difficult to obtain equipment - not to mention scientific expertise - isnecessary to re-enrich the uranium to truly destructive levels.
Nonetheless, the Chepetsk uranium has, for the past decade, been turningup all over, said Lyudmila Zaitseva, who is an information analyst forStanford University's Database on Nuclear Smuggling, Theft and OrphanRadiation Sources.
"Parts of the material [stolen from the Chepetsk plant] went indifferent directions, were seized on several occasions in Belarus,Chechnya and Lithuania. And some of it may still be coming up," she toldBellona Web. Zaitseva added that it was "likely" that the uranium thatturned up last week in Izhevsk - Udmurtiya's capital - in the trunk ofthe car, a Zhiguli, is connected to the 1992 theft.
Traffic police in Izhevsk Wednesday told Bellona Web that the Zhiguli,allegedly driven by a 48 year-old man they would only identify asRifkat, was stopped on June 10 for reasons police spokesmen would notspecify. Russian news reports said the driver, who was employed locallyin Izhevsk, was from Tatarstan, a multi-ethnic republic in CentralRussia. When officers searched the trunk of the suspect's car, theyapparently found two kilograms of uranium as well as 300,000 roubles(around $9,700) that police allege was payment - or partial payment -for the uranium.
The material was sent to the Chepetsk Mechanical Plant - which is run byRussia's Nuclear Power Ministry (Minatom) - for analysis. Tests revealedthat the seized material was part of a uranium rod used as fuel atnuclear power plants, but shed no light on the origin of the rod,investigators said.
At the time of the seizure, the two kilograms of uranium were emitting2,000 micro-roentgens per hour - much higher than the backgroundradiation level considered safe for humans - a local spokesman for theUdmurtiya Federal Security Service, or FSB, said. He said the seizurewas made as the result of a covert operation by security service, incooperation with the Izhevsk police, to recover the uranium, which hesaid "was more than likely" connected to the 300 kilograms that wentmissing ten years ago.
The FSB, spokesman, who did not wish to be identified, said the suspectallegedly expected to net $50,000 from the supposedly intended sale.
"We cannot say for certain if the uranium is from [the same 1992theft]," said the spokesman. "But we are pursuing that possibilityvigorously." He would not say if any connection between the suspectarrested last week and the original Chepetsk thieves had beenestablished. When asked if security services had been engaged inlong-term surveillance of the suspect, or if any other suspected uraniumpeddlers were currently on the FSB watch lists in the autonomousrepublic of Udmurtiya, he declined further comment.
Discovery Of The 1992 Theft
Stanford's Zaitseva corroborated the suspicions of the FSB. According toher research, the theft from the Chepetsk Mechanical Plant wasdiscovered when 300 kilograms of LEU turned up missing during aninventory in October, 1992, after Russian security services andofficials from the Izhevsk Prosecutor's Office foiled an attempt bythieves - one of whom worked at the Chepetsk plant - to sell 100 to 140kilograms of the uranium.
The material stopped by the initial sting, which investigators fixed at100 kilograms, was valued at $100,000 to $170,000 per kilogram, anofficial at the Udmurtiya Prosecutor's Office, who was familiar with theaging case, told Bellona Web. However, Vladimir Kuznetsov, a formerRussian nuclear regulatory official who now works with the NGO GreenCross, said the initial intercept of low-enriched uranium (LEU of 0.2 to0.4 percent), was closer to 140 kilograms.
The remaining 160 kilograms, according to Kuznetsov's data, haveremained at large and apparently done some traveling.
Two months after the theft was discovered, Prosecutors in Udmurtiya,announced that a group of 13 people had been arrested for stealinguranium from the Chepetsk Mechanical Plant, and smuggling it intoPoland, according to an Agence France Presse report of December 1992.
The lion's share of the material - prosecutors could not indicate howmany kilograms that share was - allegedly was sold for $700,000 perkilogram in Western Europe, its ultimate destination apparently beingcountries of the Middle East. Another portion of the uranium turned upin Grozny, the capital of Russia's breakaway Republic of Chechnya, whereit was eventually purchased by a group of ethnic Azeris for resale inIran for $15 million, the spokesman for the Udmurtiya Prosecutor'sOffice said Wednesday.
Buyers of un-enriched uranium-238 stolen from the Chepetsk Plantincluded an allegedly organized-crime group of ethnic Armenians who, inNovember of 1992 - just a month after the theft was discovered -reportedly paid 280 million old denomination rubles (about $9,000) foran unspecified amount of the material. According to JPRS-ProliferationIssues' Nov. 24, 1992 edition, the transaction took place also in Groznyand the material was shipped to Iran.
Days earlier, Belarusian KGB officers arrested two Russians, aBelarusian and a Polish citizen after they were found in possession of2.35 kilograms of low-enriched uranium-238, according toJPRS-Proliferation Issues' Nov. 12 1992 edition. The periodical reportedthat the smugglers were part of a larger group that had stolenapproximately 100 kilograms of uranium from the Chepetsk MechanicalPlant.
Then, in 1993, a Lithuanian businessman who had bought two uranium rodsin hopes of selling the material abroad dumped his cache into theNevezis river in Lithuania after he heard the original thieves had beenarrested. The uranium had been stolen from the Chepetsk plant, accordingto Reuters.
The suspect, Raimondas Urbonas, admitted to smuggling 486 kilograms ofuranium from Russia to Lithuania to be sold in Poland. Urbonas saidthat, afraid of being caught, he dumped the material into the river.Prosecutors believe that he was lying, and that the material had alreadybeen sold, the Daily Telegraph reported.
Security Concerns At Chepetsk - And Beyond
All told, this litany of thefts from the Chepetsk facility points to anentire international syndicate, which comprises - or once comprised -Russia, Belarus, the Baltic states and Poland, and smuggles LEU toWestern Europe, the spokesman for the Udmurtiya Prosecutor's Officesaid.
He added, though, that last week's comparatively paltry discovery couldmean the cartel is dissolving. Indeed, according to Kuznetsov, currentsecurity at the Chepetsk Mechanical Plant is "among the best in Russia."
"Security upgrades performed there with the help of [US Department ofDefence financed Cooperative Threat Reduction Act (CTR)] came shortlyafter the upgrades performed at Moscow's] Kurchatov Institute, which areamong the best anywhere," he said in a telephone interview with BellonaWeb. Granted, he said, those security upgrades did not begin for sometime after the CTR Act came into existence in 1992.
Even with 300 kilograms of LEU floating around Europe and the MiddleEast, Kuznetsov said the best security that could have been hoped for1992 theft is the low grade of the uranium stolen.
"You need to put the uranium in a reactor to enrich it and produceplutonium, and that's expensive, requires specified knowledge andattracts attention," he said.
Of special concern are the multimillion-dollar sales of some of thepinched uranium in Grozny, which authorities said were bound for Iran.The high prices paid indicate a higher grade LEU that could feasibly beburned in reactors and reprocessed for plutonium, defence analyst PavelFelgenhauer said. This uranium, according to Kuznetsov, would have to beabout 4 percent enriched to be used as fuel. The Stanford Databaseindicated that fuel of such enrichment was among that which went missingin 1992.
Russia's Nuclear Power Ministry, Minatom, furthermore, is engaged inbuilding a nuclear power plant in Bushehr, Iran, which the United Statesand Israeli governments have all but called a front for a nuclearweapons program. If burned in these reactors, this stolen LEU fromChepetsk could yield plutonium waste, Felgenhauer said.
"Perhaps [the Iranians] were putting a little something away for thefuture," when their emissaries bought the LEU in 1992, Felgenhauer said.
Minatom has repeatedly insisted that the reactor project is for"peaceful purposes," and did so again when contacted Thursday. Spokesmenrefused, however, to answer questions regarding the possibility ofreprocessing the stolen uranium into weapons usable material and saidthey would require 40 days to respond to questions regarding the decadeold theft and any connection it may have to Iran. return to menu
E. Nuclear Safety
1. Russia: Nuclear Reactors Based In Moscow Cause Concern And Fears
Radio Free Europe
June 22, 2002
(for personal use only)
In the Russian capital of Moscow, several dozen nuclear reactors arefunctioning at various scientific research institutes. Many of thereactors are located in residential sections of the densely populatedcity, and antinuclear activists and ecologists say they are concernedabout the potential risk posed by aging equipment and spent fuelstorage. Authorities, however, deny there is any danger.
There are nearly 40 nuclear reactors of varying capacities functioningin scientific research institutes in Moscow, a city with 11 millioninhabitants. The installations are not powerful and used only forscientific purposes, but Russian activists say they represent a risk.State officials, however insist the situation is completely undercontrol.
While the reactors used by scientific institutes are less powerful thanthose in nuclear power plants, they still use nuclear fuel, making theirpresence in a number of Moscow's residential neighborhoods a worry formany.
The problems posed by Moscow's scientific reactors are similar to thoseof Russia's aging brigade of power plants: potential leaks ofradioactive material, the storage of spent nuclear fuel and waste, andpoor security standards leaving open the possibility of theft.
Nuclear activists and ecologists say they cannot even agree with stateofficials on the exact number of reactors currently functioning in thecapital city.
An official with Atomnadzor, Russia's federal inspectorate for nuclearand radiation safety, told RFE/RL there are 39 reactors in Moscow. ButVladimir Kuznetsov, the former chief inspector of Atomnadzor who nowworks as a nuclear activist, says there are closer to 45. The mostpowerful -- and potentially dangerous -- reactors are at the KurchatovInstitute, located in a northwest district of the city.
Founded in 1943, the Kurchatov Institute played a key role in thedevelopment of the first Soviet nuclear bombs, and is home to one of theworld's oldest nuclear reactors. First activated in 1946, the reactor isstill activated occasionally.
Kuznetsov says, "It is impossible to speak seriously about the safety ofsuch an old reactor." He dismisses Atomnadzor's claim that Kurchatov hasa clean safety record, saying a number of incidents have occurred at theinstitute over the years: "There were three incidents in 1972 involvingradioactivity leaks. Four people were killed. There were also incidentsin 1989 when radioactive materials also leaked."
Aleksei Yablokov is a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences andpresident of the nongovernmental Russian Center for Ecology Policy.Yablokov told RFE/RL that Kurchatov is not the only institute posing asafety risk to Muscovites. He says even the weakest reactors can causebig problems if their safety system fails and a leak occurs: "The dangerposed by the reactor does not depend so much on its power. The fact isthat an accident can happen and bring various unpleasant things."
The secrecy that surrounded the nuclear industry during the Soviet erahas lifted only slightly over the past decade. Yablokov says it is stilldifficult to know for sure how many incidents occur with the country'snuclear reactors, adding that even now Atomnadzor seems inclined tocover up such reports: "The incidents with leakages were concealed allthe time and you cannot trust statistics. I think there have been evenmore leakages than Kuznetsov was speaking about, but there is noofficial information."
Yablokov says that it is possible for scientists to reconstruct thetruth but money and permission are needed to investigate the facilities.He says the Moscow city government has shown concern about the potentialdanger posed by the city reactors. In 1992, the city opted to shut downor move all of the city's reactors. But the plan failed to materializebecause of lack of funds.
The reactors pose other complicated problems. The nuclear waste and usednuclear fuel stored in the city are among the biggest of the problems.Nuclear activist Kuznetsov describes one such storage site, located nearthe Kurchatov Institute: "There is a place in Moscow, where used nuclearfuel is stored. It is not far away from the metro station OktyabrskoyePole. In terms of radioactivity, the used nuclear fuel that is alreadystored here equals half of the amount leaked during the Chornobylaccident [in 1986]."
Sergei Morozov, a safety inspector with Atomnadzor, admits that spentnuclear fuel presents a problem in the city and says serious steps arebeing taken to move the waste out of Moscow. But the task of removing 50years' worth of accumulated nuclear waste is a complicated one, andMorozov acknowledges it has been slow going: "We are still working onthe plan and it will take two years to implement it."
The Russian office of the Greenpeace environmental group gave RFE/RL aletter to the Russian government signed by the director of the KurchatovInstitute, Yevgenii Velikhov. The letter says there are 6 tons of usedradioactive fuel currently being stored at the institute. Additionaltemporary storage of other radioactive waste has been built over twohectares of land belonging to Kurchatov. The two hectares, the lettersays, have since been contaminated. Kurchatov officials estimate it willtake $100 million to deal with the problem.
Are Russian authorities doing enough to prevent terrorists fromaccessing nuclear materials based in scientific institutes likeKurchatov? Morozov of Atomnadzor says security measures have beenstepped up considerably and that it is almost impossible to stealnuclear materials. Yablokov of the Russian Center for Ecology Policysays that while security standards have improved, many institutes remainvulnerable to theft.
The problem of scientific reactors is not limited to Moscow. There aremore than 100 research reactors located throughout the country. The mostpowerful of them are in Gatchina, near St. Petersburg; in Obninsk andDubna outside of Moscow; and near the town of Ulyanovsk in centralRussia. return to menu
F. Russian Nuclear Power Industry
1. Russia Creates Program To Fix Nuclear Reactors
June 22, 2002
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Russia is confronting its growing energy shortage with an ambitiousprogram of refurbishing old nuclear reactors and building at least fournew ones, top government nuclear officials said Friday.
The country also is competing with companies from the United States,Germany and France to build a reactor in Finland, Deputy Nuclear PowerMinister Valery Lebedev said.
The expansion of Russia's nuclear program comes after years ofstagnation resulting from the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, when a reactor atthe Ukraine plant exploded, sending a radioactive cloud over much ofEurope. The explosion, the world's worst nuclear accident, is believedto have killed thousands from radiation-related illnesses.
The catastrophe in the former Soviet Union caused a public backlashagainst nuclear power and forced nuclear officials to shelve plans forexpanding the industry.
"We are going to make a big surge forward after a long period ofstagnation," said Oleg Sarayev, the head of the Rosenergoatom consortiumin charge of Russia's nuclear power plants.
Regional authorities throughout Russia are welcoming the construction ofnew plants, which now generate little public protest. Sarayev claimedRussia's nuclear safety standards were tougher than the West's.
Reactor No. 3 at the Kalinin power plant in western Russia is nearingcompletion and three reactors at the Kursk, Balakovo and Rostov powerplants will follow, Sarayev said Friday.
Rosenergoatom also is modernizing the oldest of Russia's 30 existingnuclear reactors to extend their lifetime, Sarayev said.
In March 2001, Russia opened its first new nuclear reactor since theChernobyl catastrophe at a plant in the southern Rostov region.
The new 1,000-megawatt reactor uses pressurized water to cool its fuelrods instead of the less stable graphite used in the Chernobyl reactor.
Russia also has signed contracts to build nuclear power plants in China,India and Iran, and is optimistic it will land the Finland contract.
"There is a good chance that we will win, taking into account the factthat the Soviet Union built a nuclear reactor in Finland which isconsidered one of the safest in the world," Lebedev said.
Russia's $800 million reactor deal with Tehran has vexed the UnitedStates, which fears it could help Iran build atomic weapons. But Russiahas said Iran will not acquire weapons grade material from the project. return to menu
2. Does Ukraine Need More Nuclear-Power Reactors?
RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report
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The expansion of Ukraine's electrical generating capacity by theconstruction of new reactors at the Rivne and Khmelnytskyy nuclear-powerstations will "benefit only Germany and Russia," claims an article inthe Ukrainian opposition newspaper "Svoboda" on 11 June. The article wasoriginally written last December when an environmental group, the YouthCommittee for National Safety, held a "people's hearing" in Kyiv todiscuss the expediency of completing the new reactors. Until now,however, the author, Yevhen Zelinskyy, had been unable to find apublication willing to print it. The organizers of the December eventhad wanted to call it a "public hearing," but to do so would haverequired the authorization of the state authorities. Their requests forthis authorization were ignored, however, so, to stay within the law,they redesignated it a "people's hearing." This change of name gave thebodies most concerned with the nuclear program, the Ministry of Fuel andPower, the Enerhoatom state nuclear-power monopoly, the State Committeefor Nuclear Regulation, and the relevant parliamentary committees, apretext for ignoring the hearing. Had it been a "public" and not a"people's" hearing, they claimed, they would have sent representatives.Even the "green" environment minister, Serhiy Kurykin, ignored theevent, though he is said to have doubts as to the expediency of goingahead with the reactors. The only person who came from the "nuclear"side was an engineer from the Khmelnytskyy station, who could discusstechnical matters but was hardly in a position to deal with largerpolicy issues. As a result, the questions raised by the hearing remainunanswered. These questions addressed not only the issue of safety,which, since the explosion at the Chornobyl nuclear-power station inApril 1986, has held a dominant place in the Ukrainian national psyche.The hearing duly noted that the new reactors are being built inaccordance with an outmoded (1984) Soviet design (not, incidentally,that of the ill-fated Chornobyl station), and that other similarreactors in Ukraine are still operating on only a temporary license.Furthermore, the hearing asserted, the state environmental enquiryregarding the new networks had not yet presented its report. Hence,their construction was both premature and illegal and should be haltedimmediately. When challenged over nuclear safety, however, thoseconcerned with Ukraine's energy strategy, particularly in the earlyyears of independence, have repeatedly argued the need to balanceconflicting threats: the possibility of deaths arising from a futurenuclear accident and the certainty of winter deaths from hypothermia dueto a lack of generating capacity. The surviving reactors at theChornobyl station would then have to be kept in operation until the newreactors at Rivne and Khmelnytskyy (based on a less hazardous reactordesign) are ready to replace them. But the people's hearing thereforechallenged the necessity and economics of the new reactors, saying thatnuclear generators have to operate around the clock and that Ukraine nowhas more than sufficient around-the-clock capacity. The hearingquestioned why Ukraine would construct an additional 2-megawatt capacityof nuclear power that operates around the clock, when what Ukraine needsis more top-up power to be brought on line at times of peak demand,power that could be conveniently provided by modernizing the country'sconventional generators that run on Ukraine's own coal.
Finally, the hearing also raised political issues: Germany, it said, iscommitted to phasing out its own nuclear power over the next 20 years,and will have to import more energy; and Russia wants to sell itsobsolete reactors that no other country "except possibly Iraq" will buy,together with fuel and spare parts over the next 40 years. It is theywho will benefit, while Ukraine takes the risks. President LeonidKuchma, the hearing alleged, is prepared to accept this situation inorder to meet the needs of his "precious, too precious friends," Russiaand Germany. The hearing last December had a topical context: PresidentKuchma had just castigated the former cabinet for agreeing to a loan tofinance the new reactors with the European Bank for Reconstruction andDevelopment on terms that, he said, were tantamount to "slavery," andfor confirming that the reactors would be completed with Russian help.
During the past six months, however, the issue has not lost itstopicality, as a postscript to the original article indicates. On 29March, it reports, six people appealed to Kyiv's Pecherskyy DistrictCourt, seeking the restoration of their right to "a safe life andenvironmental safety," which, they said, had been placed at risk byEnerhoatom upon the construction of the new reactors at Khmelnytskyy andRivne. They offered documentary evidence that the construction isillegal and called on the court to halt the financing and constructionof the reactors unless, and until, the state environmental enquiry givesits clearance. On 24 April, however, the court rejected the appeal,noting that, "the plaintiffs addressed the court in the interests ofsociety" but they did not have the authority to make such an appeal.
Less physically hazardous, but not without its own dangers for Ukraine,are the plans for a consortium of Russia, Ukraine, and Germany to managegas transit through Ukraine. At first glance, it seems set to benefitall three parties: Russia will supply and Germany will receive the gas,without the danger of unauthorized Ukrainian siphoning; and Ukraine willbe ensured the financial benefits of transit, without the threat thatRussia will reroute all its west-bound gas through Belarus. A documentto this effect, signed by the Russian and Ukrainian prime ministers on21 June, guarantees gas transit via Ukraine of at least 110 billioncubic meters annually. Russia, likewise, guarantees to ensure the steadysupply of gas to Ukraine under contracts already concluded betweenUkraine and Central Asian suppliers. Furthermore, according to RussianPresident Vladimir Putin, the creation of the consortium will make itpossible to attract in the near future the $2.5 billion of foreigncapital needed to upgrade Ukraine's dilapidated pipeline system.However, "Segodnya" warns that setting up a consortium implies the"imminent corporatization of the gas transportation system," which inits turn may well prove the "first step toward privatization" ofUkraine's main gas pipelines. It is unclear what stakes the participantswill have in the consortium and if future European partners will come upwith "big money." Ukraine needs to walk warily, or one day it may findthat "the money-spinning pipeline is no longer ours, but simply runsacross our territory." return to menu
G. Russian Nuclear Forces
1. Military Will Respond To U.S. ABM Withdrawal
June 25, 2002
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General Nikolai Solovtsev, commander of the Russian Strategic MissileForces (RVSN), says his service is ready to respond to the U.S.withdrawal from the 1972 Antiballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, polit.rureported on 24 June. Solovtsev said that the U.S. decision willcertainly have an impact on the development of the RVSN and that adecision to prolong the service of multiple-warhead intercontinentalmissiles is now being finalized. He said that the RVSN hopes they cancontinue in service for another 10 to 15 years. Solovtsev said thatamong other measures under consideration is the deployment of the"Topol-M" ICBM. return to menu
1. Russia Fails To Secure Tehran Nuclear Deal
June 24, 2002
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Russia has failed to secure guarantees from Iran that Tehran will returnspent nuclear fuel which could be converted into weapons-gradeplutonium, despite repeated assertions to the contrary from Moscow.
Internal Russian government documents obtained by the Guardian show thatno agreement has been reached on the sensitive issue of how to handlethe used nuclear fuel from a power station being built by Russia inIran, which is due to come into operation in a couple of years.
Russia's nuclear cooperation and military deals with Iran have become amajor bone of contention with the US since September 11. The Russianconstruction of the 1,000-megawatt reactor at Bushehr, 500 miles southof Tehran, is at the centre of this tension.
Russia's ministry of atomic energy, which will earn $800m (£570m) fromthe contracts, says the risk of nuclear arms proliferation isnon-existent and has stated repeatedly that the spent fuel is to berepatriated to Russia for storage or reprocessing. But a paper in theconfidential documents, written for the Kremlin by the atomic energyministry, contradicts that assurance.
The paper states: "The question of managing the spent nuclear fuel isabsent in the agreement between the governments of Russia and Iran onthe construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant on Iranianterritory.
"Negotiations are taking place on the return of the spent nuclear fuelto the Russian Federation."
In an interview with Russian television earlier this month, AlexanderRumyantsev, Russia's atomic energy minister, said: "We have agreed withIran that the used fuel will be returned to Russia.
"This is fulfilment by Russia of our obligations on thenon-proliferation of weapons-grade fissile materials."
He made a similar declaration last November.
The lack of an agreement suggests Iran is playing for time and may wantto retain the spent fuel which, when reprocessed, yields weapons-gradeuranium and plutonium.
"Iran would be in possession of weapons-usable material, plutonium,"said Tobias Muenchmeyer, a nuclear expert for Greenpeace in Berlin. "Fora country like Iran, it would not be difficult to reprocess the spentfuel and isolate the plutonium. It would be a matter of weeks, notmonths."
The disclosures will increase broad unease about Russia's determinationto push ahead with the lucrative contracts for the Bushehr power plantand reinforce US criticism of the project.
Despite the recent warming in relations between the White House and theKremlin, Russia's nuclear assistance to Iran - a country on the US listof "rogue states" - is one of the biggest irritants in theRussian-American relationship.
In February President Vladimir Putin ordered the atomic energy ministryto provide an "analysis" of Russia's plans to import nuclear waste, aproject critics contend will turn Russia into the world's nuclear dump.
The Russian parliament passed three bills last year on the importationof nuclear waste and the analysis was required by the Kremlin for MrPutin to give the final go-ahead, probably within months.
Mr Rumyantsev has acknowledged the dangers of the spent fuel remainingin Iranian hands. At a dinner in Washington last month he conceded thatit was a "very sensitive issue", saying: "It is true that a nuclearpower plant can become a source of proliferation once it has accumulateda certain amount of spent nuclear fuel."
The documents recognise that the Iranian connection could scupper MrRumyantsev's plans to make Russia the world's leading importer ofnuclear waste, a scheme that could, his ministry claimed to widespreadderision, earn Russia $20bn over 10 years.
The US controls the world market in spent nuclear fuel, commanding aveto over what happens to between 80% and 90% of the highly radioactivewaste.
For the Russian import scheme to work, America's blessing is required.
Russia needs a political agreement with the US for the nuclear importsplan to be feasible, the documents state.
"For a long time now the US has been making the issue of such anagreement conditional on Russia refusing nuclear cooperation with Iran,"they add. return to menu
1. President Bush's '10 + 10 Over 10' Plan Does Not Go Far Enough
Nuclear Threat Reduction Campaign
June 24, 2002
The "10+ 10 over 10" plan that President Bush will present at thisweek's G-8 meeting is urgently needed as the world works to preventnuclear terrorism, but does not go far enough to reduce the threat ofloose Russian nuclear weapons according to the Nuclear Threat ReductionCampaign (NTRC).
Under the "10 + 10 over 10" plan, the United States will contribute $10billion over the next 10 years to threat reduction and nonproliferationprograms in Russia while the other G-8 members will collectivelycontribute the same amount over the same timeframe. This plan comes onthe heels of the Bush/Putin summit where the two leaders pledged to cuttheir strategic nuclear arsenals by two-thirds over the next 10 years.While the treaty is certainly welcome news, it also compounds thecomplexity of the task of securing Russia's approximately 20,000warheads-95% of the world total outside of the United States.
"Through the proposed "10 + 10 over 10" plan, the Bush Administration isemploying another weapon in the war against international terrorism,"said Ambassador Karl F. Inderfurth, senior advisor to the Nuclear ThreatReduction Campaign. "Terrorists will not be able to execute a nuclearattack against the United States, its troops abroad, and allies unlessthey acquire the deadly means to do so. Unfortunately, the proposed planfalls short of what is really needed to fully engage in this fight."
The NTRC pointed out that eight months before the tragedy of September11th, the bipartisan Baker-Cutler Task Force stated that "the mosturgent unmet national security threat to the United States today is thedanger that weapons of mass destruction or weapons-useable material inRussia could be stolen and sold to terrorists or hostile nation statesand used against American troops abroad or citizens at home." The mosteffective way to stop them is to secure and dispose of such weapons andmaterials at their source.
The Baker-Cutler Task Force recommended increasing funding devoted toaddressing this problem, arguing that with an investment ofapproximately $30 billion over eight to ten years, the "most urgentunmet threat" could be properly addressed. The "10+10 over 10" planfalls $10 billion short of this goal.
Currently, the United States devotes about $1 billion a year to threatreduction and non-proliferation programs in the former Soviet Union,while the other G-8 members devote a considerably smaller sum. If theUnited States dedicates $10 billion over the next 10 years, this willactually entail a slight real reduction in average annual funding whenadjusted for inflation.
"At a time when the United States is spending tens of billions ofdollars on various efforts to protect the homeland against anotherattack that could even be worse than September 11, the United Statesshould also dramatically increase funding for these crucial programs, asit is urging the other G-8 members to do," noted Lloyd Cutler, co-chairof the Baker-Cutler Task Force and former White House Counsel.
In addition to increasing funding beyond the current level, NTRC calledupon the Bush Administration to urge G-8 members to inject another $10billion into this effort through inventive mechanisms such as"debt-reduction-for-nonproliferation" swaps with Russia. Through such aprogram, a portion of Russian debt incurred during the Soviet era wouldbe forgiven in exchange for Russia's agreement to use these funds tobolster efforts to account for and secure all of their nuclear weaponsand materials. This would greatly increase Russian "buy-in" to theseprograms. Encouraging bipartisan steps have been taken on debt-reductionprograms in Congress, under the leadership of Senators Joe Biden (D-DE)and Richard Lugar (R-IN) and Representatives John McHugh (R-NY) andEllen Tauscher (D-CA).
"We are in a race against time to keep weapons of mass destruction outof the hands of those who wish us deadly harm," said Inderfurth. "Bypooling the efforts of the world's strongest countries, G-8 members cantake historic action to ensure the safety of our own populations as wellas the people of Russia and the entire world." return to menu
J. Links of Interest
1. Inadequate Control Of World's Radioactive Sources
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