On a frigid day this past February, three men flew to the Siberian cityof Krasnoyarsk, rented a car and drove 60 miles northeast to a smallvillage called Atamanovo.
In Atamanovo, the men paid a fisherman 1,500 rubles -- about $50 -- totake them across the Enisei River. Once across, they trudged throughsnow along a forest road to the mammoth complex at the heart ofZheleznogorsk, one of 10 still-closed "nuclear cities" that designed themissiles, produced the plutonium and built the bombs for the Sovietarsenal during the Cold War.
As the men neared the Mining and Chemical Combine, two guards in apassing car gave them a glance and drove on. Within an hour, the men hadgone through a hole in the dilapidated fence around the combine, scaleda wall and entered a building that stores highly radioactive spent fuelfrom a nearby reactor.
The infiltrators were not terrorists. But they could have been.
Ten and a half years after the fall of the Soviet Union, the fate ofnuclear weapons and materials in Russia has acquired fresh urgency inthe wake of the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and suburban Washington.
Warheads aimed at the United States for decades and the deadly pools ofplutonium that fueled the bombs now pose a different -- and in some waysmore frightening -- threat should they fall into the hands ofanti-American terrorists or governments.
Adding to the concern about Russia are the breakdown of centralcontrols, a decline in military morale, crumbling physical facilities,economic woes and official contacts continued from the Soviet era withIran, Iraq and other nations that are deemed rogue states in Washington.
"The accumulation of a large volume of weapons-usable fissile materialin the territory of the Russian Federation continues to pose an unusualand extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy ofthe United States," President Bush informed Congress on June 18.
The Americans and the Russians are once again in an arms race, only nowthey are on the same side, working together to avert catastrophe.
"The fire next time when the terrorists attack us again could bechemical, nuclear or biological," Rep. John Spratt, a South CarolinaDemocrat, told proliferation experts in Moscow recently. "The questionis not whether, but when."
While all weapons of mass destruction are frightening, the atom bombholds a special terror. Americans who dived under desks as children incivil-defense drills know with an instant, chilling recall that anuclear detonation would incinerate everything in its wake and send awave of destruction for miles around.
"A nuclear explosion is the ultimate of all the bad things that canhappen," said Sigfried Hecker, former director of the Los Alamos nuclearweapons lab in New Mexico.
Americans' fear of nuclear attack has been aggravated in recent weeks byreports that terrorists may use "dirty bombs" -- lower-grade radioactivematerials dispersed by conventional explosives -- and the arrest of anal-Qaida operative charged with plotting to set off such a device.
The focus on Russia as a giant toolbox for terrorists arises from twomain concerns: the breakdown of totalitarian weapon controls since thecollapse of communism and the extraordinary volume of nuclear materialsspread over a vast territory covering 11 time zones.
Sergei Mitrokhin, a member of the Russian parliament from the liberalYabloko opposition party, was among the group that infiltrated theZheleznogorsk nuclear complex in February. He was joined byenvironmental activists who wanted to prove that security is lax atRussia's sprawling nuclear facilities.
When Mitrokhin returned to Moscow, he sent a letter to Russian PresidentVladimir Putin, who then met with Grigory Yavlinsky, the oppositionparty's leader. Putin promised, according to Yavlinsky, to arrange ameeting on nuclear security with Alexander Rumyantsev, head of Minatom,the Russian Atomic Energy Ministry.
That meeting has yet to take place. Instead, in late May, Rumyantsevdeclared that guards had been ordered to fire warning shots at anyonetrying to break into a nuclear complex.
"It's good if they start shooting," Mitrokhin, standing in hislegislative office a block from Red Square, said a few days afterRumyantsev issued the decree. "That would mean that Minatom has startedpaying attention to this problem. But I am not sure that firing shots isa long-term solution."
Russia's nuclear materials cover a broad spectrum of potency, fromassembled warheads including thousands of smaller, tactical ones builtfor battlefield use -- through plutonium and highly enriched uraniumextracted from dismantled bombs, spent fuel from reactors and abewildering array of radioactive junk from hospitals, factories andmilitary bases.
One hundred decommissioned nuclear submarines drift in the Arctic seasof northern Russia and in the Russian Far East, each a floating reactorwith enough uranium to make a small armory of weapons.
"You're worried about terrorists getting the nuclear bomb or nuclearmaterial?" asked Joseph Cirincione, an arms-control analyst with theCarnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.
"Go to Russia. The biggest threat is not a terrorist embarking on a20-year program to build a nuclear bomb and put it on top of an ICBM.The biggest threat is the material lying around Russia that somebodycould go get. And we know people are trying to get it."
Bush and his homeland security team appear to have gotten the message.The first budget Bush sent to Congress decreased annual spending on U.S.programs to secure and reduce Russian weapons of mass destruction to$800 million; his second budget, submitted after the Sept. 11 attacks,seeks to boost such spending to $1.2 billion.
Meeting in Washington and Texas in November, Bush and Putin saidstopping terrorists from securing weapons of mass destruction had becometheir governments' top priority. And in Moscow six weeks ago, they setup a working group of experts to accelerate control of Russia's nuclearstockpiles.
On June 27, overcoming pre-Sept. 11 resistance, Bush and Putin persuadedother leaders of the G-8 group of industrialized nations to fund anunprecedented $20 billion initiative to help Russia diminish itsnuclear, chemical and biological stockpiles over the next decade.
But a Harvard University report in May concluded that the United States'commitment to securing nuclear weapons and materials in Russia isinadequate.
"Compared to the few to tens of kilograms needed to make a nuclearweapon, there are hundreds of kilograms of military plutonium and highlyenriched uranium spread across the former Soviet Union, much of itdangerously insecure," the report said. "The U.S. response is still notremotely commensurate with the magnitude of the threat."
Matthew Bunn, a co-author of the Harvard report, said helping Russiacontrol its nuclear stockpiles is no less critical for the United Statesthan all the domestic initiatives getting momentum and money under theunified Homeland Security Department proposed by Bush.
Bunn said he believes that current nonproliferation programs directed atRussia are spread among too many agencies -- the Defense, Energy, Stateand Commerce departments all run such programs -- and should instead becombined under one leader, perhaps within the Homeland SecurityDepartment.
Since the Soviet Union ceased to exist in December 1991, the UnitedStates has spent about $8 billion helping Russia consolidate andgradually reduce its nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, with thebulk of the money going for nuclear security.
A key early success was transporting nuclear warheads to Russia fromUkraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus in the early 1990s after those formerSoviet republics gained independence.
Not all the U.S. money remains in Russia. Scores of American defensefirms have landed lucrative contracts helping Russians dismantle nuclearsubmarines, cut up intercontinental ballistic missiles, destroy silosand upgrade plutonium storehouses.
There is broad consensus on both sides of the Atlantic that Russia'snuclear stockpiles, thanks in large measure to the U.S. aid, are moresecure than they were a decade ago after the Soviet Union collapsed. Andthere is general agreement that Russian warheads are better protectedthan the large stores of plutonium and highly enriched uranium -- andthat those fissile materials, in turn, are more closely watched thanspent fuel reserves and still lower-grade radiological materials.
But the consensus breaks down over how much of a threat Russia stillposes as a potential nuclear grocery store for terrorists or unfriendlygovernments, with Russian military and political officials more likelythan their American counterparts to pooh-pooh the dangers.
Much of the concern in the West over Russia's "loose nukes" dates to ahighly publicized claim in 1996 by Gen. Alexander Lebed, then PresidentBoris Yeltsin's national security adviser, that 84 suitcase-size nuclearweapons had gone missing from Russia's arsenal.
Other Russian officials denied the claim, and U.S. officials discountedit.
There are no known cases of missing warheads of any size or type, fromRussia or any other nuclear power. The Vienna-based International AtomicEnergy Agency has documented 18 cases in which weapons-grade nuclearmaterial was stolen -- most of them in the former Soviet Union - butvirtually all of the material was recovered.
Since Sept. 11, a number of senior U.S. government officials andarms-control analysts have cited alleged attempts by al-Qaida operativesof Osama bin Laden to acquire bomb-making material. But experts whoclosely track the nuclear black market are puzzled by their inability toprove such a link.
"That's been the bane of the nuclear smuggling business for years," saidRensselaer Lee, a Congressional Research Service analyst who wrote a1999 book on the topic. "You need to see some kind of connection betweenthe willing seller and the interested buyer, but we see evidence of alack of connection between buyers and sellers."
Lee quickly added, however, that intelligence officials and analystssuch as himself simply may not have enough information.
"It's what we don't see that is disturbing," he said.
Within Russia, U.S. programs have focused on replacing a human-basednuclear security system that worked well enough under Soviet rule --"guns, guards and gulags," as Hecker, the former Los Alamos director,put it -- with technological controls more suitable for an open society.
American money has paid for barbed-wire fences, computerized accountingsystems, radiation detectors, video surveillance cameras and a host ofother high-tech improvements. In the urgent atmosphere since Sept. 11,some more remote storehouses have seen low-tech quick fixes such asbricking up windows and cutting back brush that could hide infiltrators.
Former Sen. Sam Nunn, who with Sen. Richard Lugar co-sponsored thelegislation that started the nonproliferation programs, said 40 percentof Russia's nuclear facilities have received upgrades, with half ofthose now meeting U.S. standards for permanent security.
But he said there is a big difference between what Russian officials saypublicly about their nuclear security needs and what they say privately.
"They are officially defensive," Nunn said in an interview in theWashington offices of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a foundation heco-chairs that was set up with a $250 million grant from Ted Turner lastyear. "When you talk to them privately, they acknowledge that not onlydo they need help, but they're very grateful for what they've alreadygotten. But if you ask any Russian military guy if his weapons aresecure, the answer is: 'Absolutely.' "
One such military man is Gen. Vladimir Dvorkin, who was responsible fordeveloping Russian strategic nuclear forces before his retirement lastyear. Sitting in a conference room of the Center for Policy Studies, aMoscow think tank where he now works, Dvorkin in a soft-spoken butdefiant manner declared that Russian nuclear warheads are every bit assecure as American bombs.
And even if terrorists were somehow to obtain a warhead, Dvorkin said,they could not detonate it.
"A nuclear explosion is impossible," he said. "You need to know thecodes. There are many protection stages. It's a very complicatedprocess, and it is better not to discuss the details."
At best, he said, terrorists might be able to use the fissile materialinside a warhead to make "dirty bomb." return to menu
2. A $20 Billion Payoff – Disguised As Aid
July 8, 2002
(for personal use only)
It’s well known that in Russia, when faced with insolvable problems,people wait for a miracle. And sometimes one occurs. For the last 10years, Russia has not known how to liquidate 40,000 tons of chemicalweapons and 150 aging nuclear submarines. The arsenal of chemicalweapons and submarines still loaded with nuclear fuel present a realthreat, but billions of dollars are required for their liquidation.
But behold, at the G-8 summit Russia was promised $20 billion for thisvery program. This seems to be the first material result of Russia’s newforeign policy of cooperation with the West. But, strangely enough, onlySergei Kiriyenko, who heads the interdepartmental commission on thedestruction of chemical weapons, called this a victory for PresidentVladimir Putin. In private, officials from the Nuclear Energy, InternalAffairs and Defense Ministry tediously reiterated that free cheese onlycomes in a mousetrap. In their opinion, it’s far from certain Russiawill receive the promised funds.
After all, the funds will be distributed only for certain concreteprojects, which must be worked out and agreed upon, and the conditionsunder which these projects must be realized are quite strict.
The problem is that the potential donors have insisted on seriousadvantages for themselves, advantages that our country has refused togrant – even recently. Russia’s partners tried to take into accountanything that might conflict with the realization of theAmerican-Russian Nunn-Lugar program. In part, it is a question of tryingto observe what is supposed to be secret. Often Americans were strictlyprohibited from even approaching programs for which they were paying tomake safer. Therefore, Washington has always suspected that the Russianside was not spending money on what it was intended for.
But now Washington wants Russia to guarantee "adequate access to workareas for donor representatives," for which it is necessary to work out"mutually agreed upon and effective measures and procedures formonitoring, auditing and guaranteeing transparency."
Since aging submarines and the entire store of chemical weapons areslated for liquidation, they can hardly contain military secrets. But itseems that Moscow is not enthusiastic about demonstrating to the worldthe condition this junk is in after all these years.
Besides secrecy, for years Americans have been bothered by the problemof taxes and duties. The fatherland’s bureaucrats have always strived tosiphon this gratuitous aid into the meager Russian budget, and this wasa primary concern for Washington. The Americans were not simply beingstingy, but supposed their dollars were financing – if indirectly –activities about which they were less than ecstatic, such as the Chechenwar.
Now, G-8 documents contain direct demands to exempt the aid "from taxes,customs, deductions and other duties." In addition, Russia must providelegal immunity to all Western participants in the program, something theRussians have always resisted doing. In many cases, realizing thesedemands requires changing Russian legislation and setting undesirablelegal precedents. Of course, a joint declaration is not an internationalagreement. It only formulates the aims that need to be achieved. But theWestern partners have made it quite clear that without tax exemptionsand legal immunity, there won’t be any money.
But that’s not the half of it. What’s more serious are the strictpolitical conditions Russia will have to adhere to. Aid to Russia is themost important element in a global program to stop the spread of arms ofmass destruction. G-8 documents show unequivocally that the aid isdirectly linked to Russia fulfilling its obligations regardingnonproliferation. "The global partnership will focus primarily onRussian projects," the statement reads, "whose primary responsibility isfulfilling the obligations and demands made of this country in terms ofthe global partnership."
It’s not hard to guess what this demand means. In April, the UnitedStates halted funding of new aid programs in Russia, citing its failureto destroy biological weapons. In Senate testimony, a governmentrepresentative stated that Moscow has "biological weapons with offensivepotential."
The accusation is as serious as it is unproved. The 1972 convention doesnot prohibit the development of vaccines to protect a country against abiological-weapons attack. These can be developed only with speciallycreated and very dangerous viruses and bacteria. The conventionstipulates certain control measures for this, and Americans would liketo be convinced that of four Russian laboratories engaged in militaryresearch, all the work is exclusively on vaccines. But at the same time,they would like someone to control the work in this area.
Russia, on the other hand, insists on complete equality. This demand isperfectly justified, and it’s impossible to object to it – until suchtime as Russia is in dire need of aid. Some sources say the question ofbiological weapons caused a heated argument at the summit in Canada. Itseems the West wants to expand the program for the destruction ofchemical weapons and submarines to include the "offensive" potential ofbiological weapons, which Moscow was supposed to have destroyed 30 yearsago.
Finally, the thorniest problem is Russia’s relationship with Iran.Washington affirms that nuclear, chemical and biological weapons androcket technology are leaking from our country to Iran. Russia isdemanding proof, which the United States is having difficulty providingfor fear of losing its information sources. Meanwhile, the Russian armsindustry is making no secret of its hopes to sell a wide spectrum ofarms to Iran. Many analysts do not rule out that the $20 billion mightvery well be a payoff to stop working with Iran. And such an exchangecould be quite beneficial to Russia: Hopes of big profits from the saleof modern arms to Iran may be inflated. On the other hand, there is acamp of government officials lobbying to expand cooperation with Iran.And the question of whether or not nuclear submarines will be used doesnot worry them. return to menu
3. Russia's Felgengauer Strikes Cautionary Note Over Nunn-Lugar Monies
July 2, 2002
(for personal use only)
It has been announced in Kananaskis that the West will allocate Russia$20 billion to protect itself against the nuclear legacy of the USSR.
The assistance will be allocated over 10 years.
The United States is prepared to grant $10 billion, the other $10billion are to be added by its allies. The amount surprised many peoplein Moscow, where no talk of such substantial amounts of aid has beenheard for many years since the days of great friendship with the West atthe start of the 1990s.
The West is not about to provide hard cash within the framework of the10 + 10 initiative, though. But, on the other hand, this will not beloans, which also were frequently termed "assistance" in the 1990s andwhich are now having at considerable effort to be repaid with interest.The assistance truly will be offered free of charge, but quite stiffterms will be set, and the expenditure of the money will be veryspecifically monitored.
We are essentially talking about an extension and a certain expansion ofthe Cooperative Threat Reduction program, also known as the Nunn-Lugarprogram after the coauthors of the law passed by Congress in December1991--Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar--which has been in existence for 10years now. Within the framework of this project Russia and other formerSoviet republics have been allocated funds (up to $500 million a year)for the destruction of the Soviet nuclear potential.
The assistance has consisted, more often than not, of us having beensupplied with equipment purchased in the United States from Americanmanufacturers and then of checks to see how we with the aid of thisequipment are cutting into pieces our submarines, missiles, andaircraft. Or American tracking and monitoring facilities have beeninstalled at our nuclear facilities, say. American budgetary legislationvery strictly requires that taxpayers' money be spent primarily withinthe country and affords its own contractors big advantages whengovernment procurement contracts are placed.
This was not all that much to the liking of our contractors, naturally,and Washington also understood that if all this money were to be spentat home, the Russians would have no great interest in continuing thecooperation. The American military, which has been responsible for thebulk of the program, has publicly said repeatedly that Nunn-Lugar is nota handout, that it is in this way really removing a threat to the UnitedStates itself. In time Russian subcontractors also appeared in theprojects within the CTR framework. The best example are the contractsthat the Pentagon regularly signs with our Zvezda, Zvezdochka, and Nerpashipyards for the dismantling of our strategic submarines with paymentfor all operations in full.
In the eight years of Bill Clinton government the Republican oppositionstrongly criticized the Nunn-Lugar program for squandering public fundsand for the fact that the Russians, while in receipt of the Americanassistance, are at the same time cooperating with Iran. After GeorgeBush assumed office, attempts were made to wind down the programcompletely. Now, though, having come to like our president, Bush hasdecided to expand the project, attract additional sources of financing,and thereby show his gratitude for the change in foreign policy.
The new $10 billion + $10 billion program also says that Russia canwrite off some of its foreign debt by exercising activities to reducethe nuclear threat. But it should all the while be borne in mind that wehave been promised "up to $20 billion," not this amount specifically.Experience of more than $5 billion was pledged in the US budget forNunn-Lugar, what was actually spent was many times less.
All the particulars pertaining to each specific project have first to bereconciled, then the American executive goes to Congress, which canfreeze funding at any moment. We do not have our own lobby inWashington, and projects in which substantial funds are earmarked forour contractors would be the first to come under the knife in the eventof another disagreement on Iran, chicken imports, what you will.
The idea of offsetting the debts appears particularly hard to execute.The bulk of our debt is to the Europeans, who are much less concernedthan the Americans at the fate of the Soviet nuclear legacy, rightlybelieving that if Islamic terrorists get their hands on anything, theirfirst target will be New York.
The West is afraid that our bureaucrats will misappropriate the moneyand will build for themselves country cottages instead of nuclearstorage pits and are for this reason demanding unprecedented measures ofopenness and accountability. The sole criminal investigation under wayin the Pentagon, meanwhile, has to do with the larceny of Americanmiddlemen that worked in Moscow on the CTR program, though. return to menu
4. AMEC Survives Despite Lack Of Liability Agreement
July 2, 2002
(for personal use only)
The US, Russian and Norwegian Arctic Military Environmental Cooperation(AMEC) will continue its work on nuclear safety in the north. UnitedKingdom may join the successful team.
The current US involvement in the AMEC programs runs out on September31st this year, and previous signals from the US State Departmentsuggested pulling out of the co-operation due to the lack of theinfamous umbrella agreement on tax and liability issues with the RussianFederation. Norway, who has its own bilateral liability agreement withRussia through its plan of action for nuclear safety, has said acontinued US involvement is essential for its own participation in AMEC.
Ministries of Defence in Norway, Russia and the USA manage the programsunder AMEC. Most of the programs are related to nuclear safety,including the development of a prototype 40 tonnes cask for submarinespent nuclear fuel, storage and transportation containers for solidradioactive waste and currently a facility for compacting radioactivewaste from decommissioned Northern Fleet submarines.
While the uniform-officials from Pentagon and the Russian Navy have agood working relation, their civilian dressed colleges in the US StateDepartment and the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs have been arguingfor years about the liability and tax issues, without coming to anagreement.
At late April NATO-conference in Moscow on issues related todecommissioning of Russian submarines, US officials involved in the AMECprograms were not too optimistic about the future. This issue was ofgreat concern to the representative from the Norwegian Ministry ofDefence. The future of the AMEC programs was also highlighted at aconference held in Oslo on June 1st, where US Senator Richard Lugar andformer Senator Sam Nunn met with Norwegian officials and NGOs, amongthem the Bellona Foundation.
Senators Nunn and Lugar initiated the first US support programs to aidRussia with securing its nuclear material and decommissioning ofstrategic submarines in the early 1990s when the collapse of the SovietUnion was a fact. The Nunn-Lugar program has been working closely withAMEC. For instance, the prototype storage container for naval spentnuclear fuel and the pad for their storing at nuclear poweredicebreakers base Atomflot in Murmansk are developed with AMEC money, butwill be used by the Nunn-Lugar program.
Coming back to Washington after his Oslo meetings, Senator Richard Lugarwrote to Deputy Secretary Richard Armitage urging the State Departmentto maintain a leadership role in the AMEC. Lugar said it was importantfor the US to continue to participate with technical support, even if anumbrella agreement on tax and liability with the Russian Governmentcould not be reached.
Then, on June 26th, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage repliedto Senator Lugar saying:
The State Department is committed to maintaining a leadership role inthe AMEC program. I wish to assure you that the United States willremain an active participant in the program providing leadership to thetrilateral process and the sharing of technical knowledge, even if thenegotiations do not produce an acceptable trilateral agreement in thenear term. The United States will continue to work closely with Norwayto meet common challenges posed by former Soviet military equipment andinstallations in northwest Russia.
The positive change of minds in the US State Department opens for aneven more active military cooperation in the north to secure spentnuclear fuel, radioactive waste and to solve other military relatedenvironmental challenges. So far, Norway has donated $10 million, US hascontributed with $25 million and Russia has put in $6.5 million intovarious AMEC projects.
The three countries have also had talks with the United Kingdom aimed toexpend the success with yet another country. In March 1999, Britishforeign minister Robin Cook visited Murmansk and stated:
The British Government is determined to tackle the problem. We are keento work with them. So, too, is the British nuclear waste managementindustry.
Later the same year, Cook announced a £8 million commitment to nuclearsafety in northwest Russia. So far, this money is still on account inLondon, and Great Britain sees the AMEC cooperation as a good way toinvolve itself into the ongoing nuclear safety programs. return to menu
1. A Good Treaty, But We Should Make It Better
Karl F. Inderfurth
July 9, 2002
(for personal use only)
The United States must remain focused on what should be the primary goalof U.S.-Russia cooperation on the nuclear weapons front: preventing theacquisition of nuclear weapons or materials by terrorists - the mostserious threat to U.S. and world security. This must be kept in mind asthe Senate Foreign Relations Committee opens hearings today on theStrategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (Treaty of Moscow) signed byPresidents Bush and Vladimir Putin in May, an agreement that opens a newand encouraging chapter in U.S.-Russia relations.
There are steps the Senate could take while carrying out itsconstitutional role in the treaty ratification process to reduce thelikelihood that "loose" nuclear weapons will fall into the hands ofterrorists or terrorist states.
By taking these steps, the Senate can help the Bush administration"liquidate the legacy of the Cold War," as President Bush proclaimedshortly before signing the treaty. The Senate would also be more fullycarrying out our obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty(NPT) - obligations that the Moscow treaty recognizes but fails toadvance to the necessary degree.
First, the Senate should call for full treaty compliance on anaccelerated timetable.
The treaty requires both sides to cut by two-thirds their number ofoperationally deployed long range nuclear weapons by Dec. 31, 2012, frommore than 6,000 today to between 1,700 and 2,200. Why more than 10years? Moving sooner would be militarily prudent and would demonstratethat the United States is committed to fulfilling its obligations underthe NPT as quickly as possible, thus enhancing overall compliance.
Second, while moving in the right direction, the Moscow treaty does notdo enough to address related issues of threat reduction and tacticalnuclear weapons.
As Russia begins the process of removing thousands of warheads from itsmissiles in accordance with the treaty, paradoxically, the dilemma ofloose nuclear warheads could be exacerbated.
The challenge of safely storing nuclear weapons and materials - atpresent, Russia has about 20,000 assembled nuclear weapons and enoughmaterial to construct at least 60,000 more - will grow more difficult asthese Russian nuclear weapons are taken off line, with some warheadsbeing stored and some dismantled.
It is important that the United States and Russia consider how toaccelerate efforts to account for, secure and eliminate excess nuclearweapons and materials. Currently, after 10 years of U.S. Russiacooperation, only about 40 percent of Russian nuclear material storagesites have been upgraded to standards that Washington recognizes asacceptable. The Senate should therefore consider attaching a conditionto the treaty mandating enhanced levels of threat reduction cooperationbetween the two countries in order to ensure that weapons and materialsare managed as staged reductions occur.
Finally, the question of tactical nuclear weapons was not addressed inthe treaty. The United States is uncertain about how many tacticalnuclear weapons Russia possesses, though the number is clearly in thethousands.
These weapons are tempting targets for terrorists because they combineportability with a high destructiveness capability (a 12.5 kilotonnuclear weapon could kill up to 250,000 people if detonated in a denseurban area and render the area uninhabitable for decades). As part ofits deliberations on the treaty, the Senate should consider pressing theadministration to address the tactical nuclear weapon issue throughother agreements and programs with Russia.
Unlike previous arms control pacts that generated strong debate andfierce opposition, this agreement has attracted widespread bipartisansupport. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is therefore in anexcellent position to make a good treaty better and provide greatersecurity for us all.
Karl F. Inderfurth, a senior adviser to the Nuclear Threat ReductionCampaign and professor at the Elliott School of International Affairs atGeorge Washington University, was deputy staff director of the SenateForeign Relations Committee during the SALT II debate in 1979. return to menu
2. Ambitious Nuclear Arms Pact Faces A Senate Examination
July 7, 2002
(for personal use only)
The Senate opens hearings Tuesday on the shortest yet one of the mostfar-reaching treaties in four decades of arms accords with Russia, anovel document billed by the Bush administration as the embodiment ofits minimalist vision of nuclear arms control.
The Senate may come to adopt that vision. It is widely expected amongarms control analysts that the pact reached by President Bush andRussian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow in May will be ratified, butmembers of the Foreign Relations Committee plan to pose some oldfashioned questions about the new approach, according to lawmakers andtheir aides.
They plan to ask Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and DefenseSecretary Donald H. Rumsfeld about the sturdiness of a treaty whose bodycontains only 10 sentences. They will ask how permanent the cuts willbe, and how the United States can be certain that Russia will do what itpromised.
The hearings, which are expected to stretch through the summer, willopen a window onto the administration's nuclear strategy as well as itsassessment of the U.S. relationship with Russia. They also will exposehow Bush and Putin jettisoned many of the dogmas that have characterizednegotiations with Russia and its Soviet predecessor since the 1960s andbuilt an accord based largely on expectations of good faith.
Gone are the covenants, caveats and vast appendixes typical of nucleardeals. Gone, too, if all goes well, will be two thirds of the strategicnuclear arsenals of the former superpower rivals. At the accord's heartis Bush's conviction that "Russia is a friend," as he put it in a June20 letter that accompanied the treaty to the Senate. "There is no longerthe need to narrowly regulate every step we take."
The document is unprecedented in allowing the United States and Russiato do as they please, as long as they cut their strategic nucleararsenal to no more than 2,200 warheads by Dec. 31, 2012. That means achange from Senate hearings that once focused on the minutiae ofverification. This time, said former Armed Services Committee chairmanSam Nunn, senators must "determine what the treaty really means."
"There are no mileposts for performance. There is nothing really toverify except good faith," said the Georgia Democrat, who called thetreaty a strong step forward. "If things start going sour between thetwo countries and we get into a period of intensive distrust, thisdocument will be looked back on as having no legal enforcementmechanism, no performance mechanism and not much of an accomplishment atall."
The treaty's simplicity resulted from complex negotiations conducted ona six-month timetable -a blink of an eye in the arms control world. Both sides ultimatelyemphasized broad assurances over detail, yet the outcome reflected animbalance of power that favored the United States. In the process, Bushand Putin pledged the steepest strategic nuclear reductions in history.
'A Piece of Paper'
On Nov. 13, side by side with Putin in the East Room of the White House,Bush announced the United States would cut its long-range arsenal of6,000-plus nuclear warheads to between 1,700 and 2,200.
Bush had vowed during the 2000 campaign that he would dramaticallyreduce the country's nuclear arsenal -- and would do so on the basis ofU.S. strategic needs, without a treaty if necessary. Putin wanted toreduce his nuclear stockpile as well, although his motivation wasdifferent: Russia couldn't afford to maintain its weapons.
Putin wanted an agreement that covered "verification and control." Hehad just finished another meeting with Bush where he got nowhere intrying to preserve the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty's limits on missiledefense tests, a cornerstone of superpower nuclear policy for 30 years.Putin promised to deliver missile cuts, but he wanted a signed documentthat committed the United States to specific terms.
"I looked the man in the eye and shook his hand," Bush said. "And if weneed to write it down on a piece of paper, I'll be glad to do that."
With that exchange, the leaders set an ambitious goal for theirnegotiators: Reach agreement on steep reductions and do it in time forBush's visit to Moscow in May.
The Russians delivered the first set of ideas in January, led by DeputyForeign Minister Georgy Mamedov, whose arms control résumé dates toSoviet times.
Problems arose early. As U.S. officials saw it, the Russian requestswere overly ambitious and drew on tired doctrine. What the Russians sawas ways of increasing predictability, the Bush administration saw aslimits on U.S. flexibility in structuring its nuclear force.
The Russians wanted both sides to eliminate missiles, long-range bombersand submarines. They reasoned that if launchers were taken out ofservice, then the warheads would follow. Fewer U.S. Trident submarinescapable of carrying nuclear weapons would mean fewer warheadsthreatening Russian targets.
But the Bush administration wanted to focus on deployed warheads. Thatmeant counting each atomic warhead on a submarine, in a missile silo oron a bomber base.
A specific Trident submarine would be counted as having only as manywarheads as it carried, not how many it was equipped to carry. TheUnited States could have as many nuclear-equipped B-52 bombers as itliked as long as the overall warhead numbers declined.
The broader position reflected Bush's campaign pledge. The detailsflowed from the Pentagon's Nuclear Posture Review, which emphasizedsufficient deterrence, flexibility and a new missile defense againstsmaller threats.
"We want to have flexibility without making them nervous," a U.S.negotiator explained.
The Russians were nervous and they were playing a weak hand. Everyoneknew they wanted to reduce their long-range atomic weapons anyway. Toreassure the Russians, Powell was the first to argue that the UnitedStates should turn Bush's "piece of paper" into a legally bindingdocument.
Something Putin Needed
In White House meetings and his daily telephone conversations withRumsfeld and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, Powell said abinding deal would help Putin at home, reassure the Europeans, andinstall some limits on Russian behavior -- a benefit, he reasoned, giventhe country's historic volatility. He also thought a written promisemight ease the sting many Russians felt at the U.S. withdrawal from theABM Treaty.
First, Powell had to persuade Bush, who was hearing from Rumsfeld andVice President Cheney that an agreement tying the hands of the UnitedStates would be a mistake. Cheney, in particular, further opposedturning the document into a treaty that would open the negotiations to aSenate debate and vote. Bush sided with Powell and signaled that thedocument would be binding.
"I think the Russians would have felt much more comfortable with anold-fashioned treaty that spelled everything out, and Bush would havebeen quite happy with no agreement at all," said a U.S. negotiator."Bush understood as one politician to another that this was somethingPutin had to have."
Negotiators had a draft text by March. As they hurried back and forthbetween Washington and Europe, the Russian position was inscribed initalic, the U.S. position in bold. The weekly goal was to remove morebrackets -- the areas in the text where the sides still disagreed. Butbarely two months before the summit, the sections in bracketsoutnumbered the sections in New Courier Normal.
Missile defense produced "huge hassles," an American negotiator said.The Russians tried for months to include limits on U.S. plans, firstseeking a pledge in the treaty that any U.S. defensive system would notthreaten Russian strategic forces. When the administration rejectedthat, the Russians pressed for a firm statement in the treaty'spreamble, which the U.S. team also rejected. More than once, the issuewas written out of the draft, only to be written back in by theRussians.
Discussions also proved difficult over how one side would know what theother was doing. Strategies for sharing information and checking itsaccuracy were the nucleus of earlier arms control deals and the essenceof President Ronald Reagan's "trust but verify" admonition. During theCold War, U.S. negotiators sought access to Russia's closely guardednuclear establishment while protecting their own facilities. But thisyear, U.S. officials said they offered the Russians more access tobomber bases and U.S. storage areas than the Moscow negotiators werewilling to permit in return.
Neither side was keen on destroying warheads, several participants said.Negotiators were wary of the cost, complexity and inevitableintrusiveness. The issue faded. But a month before Bush was scheduled toleave for Europe, the two sides became stuck on their opposing views ofhow to reach the lower warhead numbers.
Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton, the administration's chiefnegotiator, was in Moscow on April 22, when Deputy Foreign MinisterMamedov told him that Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov wanted to presenthim with a new draft. Bolton met Ivanov that evening and hurried back toWashington.
It was a conceptual breakthrough, U.S. officials said later. TheRussians had dropped their insistence on cutting rockets, bombers andsubmarines. In time, they would also agree that the 1991 START Itreaty's inspection and notification systems would govern the accorduntil more assurances could be drafted. Because essentially the samewarheads were involved in both documents, Ivanov called it "parallelbookkeeping."
The two sides had the outlines of a deal, but they kept stumbling overmissile defense. They also needed to resolve a dispute over how thecountries could withdraw from the treaty, and under what terms. TheUnited States wanted to be able to pull out of the treaty within sixmonths or exceed the 2,200-warhead limit with 45 days notice if the needarose. To the Russians, 45 days seemed suspiciously short.
With three weeks to go before the summit, Putin and Bush had each madeclear to their proxies that they wanted a deal. Igor Ivanov, the Russianforeign minister, was due in Washington to discuss the crisis in theMiddle East. He agreed to spend May 3 on the treaty. "Both sides werefeeling pressure to get things done," one of the U.S. negotiators said."If we hadn't made a lot of progress that day, the tide might haveturned."
Ivanov and Powell met at 10 a.m. in Powell's outer office. Frequenttelephone companions, they took seats facing one another by thefireplace, joined by Bolton and Mamedov, who shared a couch. Powell saidhe told Ivanov that the United States had gone as far as it intended. Hedeclared that the treaty would cover warheads, not the removal ofdelivery systems. They agreed to a three-month withdrawal period.
"What turned it is I wasn't giving anything more," Powell said.
Ivanov failed to obtain a mention of missile defense in the treaty. Butin a diplomatic fudge, the preamble contains a reference to commentsmade by Bush and Putin in Genoa, Italy, in July 2001. The language inGenoa was generic, the sentiment safely vague. With that addition, thedeed was nearly done.
All that remained was a name.
The Russian title needed to include a noun such as "weapons" or"systems," but U.S. officials objected to such words, worried anew thatthe Russians would find a way to constrain U.S. flexibility, even in atitle. The U.S. position again prevailed. The English version is calledthe Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty. return to menu
1. Russian-Chinese Nuclear Subcommittee To Start Work In Beijing
July 9, 2002
(for personal use only)
The nuclear subcommittee of the inter-governmental committee forpreparing regular meetings of the Russian and Chinese prime ministerswill start its work in Beijing on Tuesday, said the Russian nuclearministry's press service.
"The agenda of the session will include topical issues of bilateralcooperation in peaceful use of nuclear energy, such as constructing theTian wang nuclear power plant with the Russian participation,cooperation in building a Chinese experimental rapid reactor, beginningthe construction of the 4th block of plant for enriching uranium,"according to the press service.
Russian nuclear minister, member of the Russian Academy of ScienceAlexander Rumyantsev has already arrived in Beijing, the ministryinformed. Apart from the work in the subcommittee, he intends to meetchairman of the committee for defense science, equipment and industryLiu Dibin and President of the State Nuclear Corporation Li Jifan. return to menu
D. Russian Nuclear Forces
1. Russian Suggests Joint Effort On Nuclear-Armed Interceptor
July 8, 2002
(for personal use only)
The head of Russia’s main nuclear weapons laboratory has said the UnitedStates and Russia should consider jointly developing nuclearwarhead-tipped missile interceptors as a component of a missile defensesystem, Defense Week reported today.
Yevgeny Velikhov, director of the Russian Research Center KurchatovInstitute, pitched the idea of developing low-yield nuclear warheads foruse on missile interceptors to a visiting delegation of 13 U.S.lawmakers this spring, according to a congressional aide. While U.S.and Russian Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin have discussedcooperation on a missile defense system, they have never publiclyconsidered using nuclear-armed interceptors, according to Defense Week.
William Schneider, head of the U.S. Defense Department’s Defense ScienceBoard, previously has said that U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeldis interested in using nuclear-armed interceptors, according to DefenseWeek. A report accompanying the fiscal 2003 defense authorization billpassed by the U.S. House of Representatives encouraged the Pentagon toinvestigate the idea. The U.S. Senate, however, passed legislationbanning funds for nuclear-armed missile interceptors. return to menu
2. Russia's Two New Military Space Satellites Orbited
July 8, 2002
(for personal use only)
Russia launched on Monday from the Plesetsk cosmodrome in the country'snorth two space satellites, which will operate in the interest of theDefence Ministry. About two hours after the blastoff, they reached theirorbits, said the press-service of Russia's space forces.
The flight of the satellites is proceeding normally, there is reliablecontact with them, and they are controlled by a special service set upwithin the Russian defence establishment. return to menu
3. Belgorod Submarine Could Replace Kursk In Russia's Naval Fleet
July 7, 2002
(for personal use only)
Vladimir Pospelov, General Director of the Russian Shipbuilding Agency,said that he is certain that the Russian Naval Fleet's sunken nuclearsubmarine Kursk will replaced by the Belgorod, a submarine of the sameclass that is currently being built at the Sevmashpredpriyatiye (theNorthern Engineering Enterprise shipbuilding plant).
"Two billion rubles is required to complete the construction of thisnuclear submarine. This is not anything unrealistic on the nationalscale," Pospelov said in an interview with Interfax on Sunday.
At the moment, the submarine is roughly 80% completed.
The plant's specialists believe that if the necessary money is provided,the sub could be completed within about two years. return to menu
4. Kiev Completes SS-24 Dismantlement
July 3, 2002
(for personal use only)
Ukraine has dismantled the last of its former Soviet SS-24 ICBMs,ITAR-Tass reported last week. The solid fuel from the missiles has beentaken to a chemical plant near Pavlohrad for disposal, which is expectedto be completed by 2007.return to menu
E. Nuclear Waste
1. Donors Ponder Aid To Clean Nuclear Waste
July 9, 2002
(for personal use only)
International donors debated a 1.8 billion euro ($1.78 billion)programme on Tuesday to help clean up the environment in and aroundnorthern Russia, which faces a big threat from nuclear waste. A one-dayconference chaired by the European Union and Russia was due to grant atleast 100 million euros in initial funds for the most urgent projectsneeded to reduce water and air pollution in the Baltic and Barents Searegions.
"Future generations will not understand if we do not act now to tacklethe legacy of environmental degradation, and above all the legacy ofdangerous nuclear material left in northern Europe," said EU ExternalRelations Commissioner Chris Patten. The start-up funds are toco-finance 1.8 billion euros worth of loans from international financialinstitutions such as the European Bank for Reconstruction andDevelopment for more than a dozen clean-up projects already identified.
"The conference is only one step in what will inevitably be a long-termprocess," said Patten, adding that the Commission would grant 50 millioneuros for the programme. He said about 500 million euros is to be spenton tackling dangerous nuclear waste in northwestern Russia, which ismainly the legacy of the Cold War when the Soviet Union built hundredsof nuclear submarines.
The vessels are now being decommissioned, with many just rusting away inbases on the Barents Sea, and the spent radioactive material is storedin hazardous conditions. "We must make sure that what is hazard todaydoes not become a disaster tomorrow. There are hundreds of nuclearsubmarines and reactors to be dismantled and vast quantities ofradioactive waste to take care of," Patten said. return to menu
2. Norway Misinformed About Russian Plant For Nuclear Waste
July 6, 2002
(for personal use only)
Norway was in May misled into believing that a Russian plant forcleaning nuclear waste at Murmansk was operative, when in fact it wasnot.
Norway has contributed NOK 40 million towards the project.
A Norwegain delegation headed by Undersecretary of State, ElsbethTronstad, visited the plant at the end of May, and were told that theycould not enter the plant, the Russian newspaper New Izvestia writes.
The reason given was that radioactive waste was being processed at thetime, according to the delegation's report.
According to the Russian newspaper, the plant has not yet been put intooperation.
The paper writes that Norway has tried to keep track of how theNorwegian money has been used, but without much result. return to menu
F. Russian Nuclear Power Industry
1. Russian Concern May Supply Equipment To Finnish Nuclear Power Station
July 9, 2002
(for personal use only)
General director of the Silovye Mashiny (Power Machines) concern YevgenyYakovlev confirmed that the companies of the concern were ready toparticipate in the tender for supplying equipment to a Finnish nuclearpower station, the press service of the concern reported. Yakovlevbelieves that the concern had good chances for getting this order, as asimilar project of the concern received positive customer references.There is one more argument for choosing Russian equipment. There is apower plant in Finland build by Russian contractors according to aRussian project. It is the Loviza nuclear power station, one of the twoFinnish power stations. It is recognized as one of the safest in Europe.In addition to Russia, Germany, France, Sweden and the USA areparticipating in the tender.
The Finnish parliament made a decision on building the fifth generatingunit of the power station on May 24, 2002. The project will beimplemented by Teollisuuden Voima Oy, a Finnish company owned by theFortum concern and the Voima Oy group, the largest energy companies ofFinland. The tender is planned for the fall of 2002. The expected costof the project is EUR1.7m; about 50 percent of it is the equipment.
The Silovye Mashiny concern includes the Leningrad Metal Works, theElektrosila engineering company and other companies. return to menu
2. Moscow To Extend Nuclear Cooperation In Asia
July 8, 2002
(for personal use only)
Speaking in Beijing on 8 July, Atomic Energy Minister AleksandrRumyantsev said that Russia will increase its transfer ofnuclear-energy technologies to China, India, Iran, and other Asianstates, ITAR-TASS reported the same day. Addressing the Russian-ChineseCommission on Nuclear Cooperation, Rumyantsev noted that his agencywill take part in the bidding to build two additional reactors for theTianwan nuclear-power plant on China's eastern coast, where hisministry has already installed two reactors. Russia is alsoconstructing two blocks at India's Kudamkulan plant and plans tocomplete the nuclear-power plant in Bushehr, Iran, in 2004-05. return to menu
G. Iraq-Former Soviet Union
1. Iraq 'Seeks Weapons Technology From Ukraine'
Tom Warner and Stephen Fidler
July 8, 2002
(for personal use only)
Iraq is exploiting its growing links with Ukraine in an effort to obtainweapons technologies, arms control experts say.
They say the government of the former Soviet republic has been taking anactive role in organising direct ties between Ukrainian companies andIraq.
Amid concerns about Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction,new evidence of links between the two countries has brought calls for aheightened international scrutiny of their relationship.
"For some years there was an intensive defence-technology relationshipbetween Ukraine and Iraq. This appears to be re-emerging and we don'twant to repeat the mistakes of the past," said Timothy McCarthy, aformer United Nations weapons inspector.
The US looks likely to launch an offensive against Iraq. PresidentGeorge W. Bush is said to be concerned about Iraqi leader SaddamHussein's nuclear, biological and chemical weapons programmes, and newsof Ukraine's relations with Iraq is likely to anger the US.
The US said on Monday the failure of talks between Iraq and the UN lastweek showed Washington was right to suspect Iraq. Richard Boucher, StateDepartment spokesman, said Iraq had not indicated "that it intends toallow inspectors to come in with unfettered access to verify thatthey're not doing what we suspect they're doing . . . that is,developing weapons of mass destruction". In recordings - heard by theFinancial Times - of what appears to be a conversation between Ukraine'spresident, Leonid Kuchma, and Yuri Alexeyev, director of Yuzhmash,Ukraine's largest rocket maker, the men mention Iraq, Iran and rockets.
The recordings were supplied by Mykola Melnychenko, one of Mr Kuchma'sformer bodyguards. Mr Kuchma and Mr Alexeyev denied having suppliedmissile technology to Iraq.
In a three-part investigation, which begins on Tuesday, the FT reveals adangerous lack of control over weapons of mass destruction and theiravailability to countries such as Iraq - and even terrorists.
An Iraqi delegation led by Hikmat el-Azzawi, deputy prime minister,visited Ukraine last month. Local media reports citing Ukrainiangovernment sources said Iraq offered to buy aircraft, ships and steelpipes. New bilateral agreements were also reportedly signed.
Ukraine opened an embassy in Baghdad in 20 00 and its ministry offoreign affairs accepted the credentials of Yuri Orshansky, a Ukrainianbusinessman, as an honorary consul for Iraq.
Mr Orshansky told Ukrainian media he has visited Iraq 40 times since1992, but denies breaking international sanctions. In 2001, Mr Orshanskyorganised a trade fair in Baghdad. "Even if they want to create anuclear bomb, we will study this," he was quoted as saying. "After all,in 50 years, maybe we will offer our services." He could not be reachedfor comment. return to menu
H. Links of Interest
1. Dirty Bombs: Washingtonpost.Com Online Chat With Jim Walsh
7. Letter Of Transmittal And Article-By-Article Analysis Of The Treaty OnStrategicOffensive ReductionsArms Control AssociationJuly 2002 http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2002_07-08/docjul_aug02.asp?printDISCLAIMER: Nuclear News is presented for informational purposes only.Views presented in any given article are those of the individual authoror source and not of RANSAC. RANSAC takes no responsibility for thetechnical accuracy of information contained in any article presented inNuclear News.