The deputy head of the US mission in Uzbekistan David Appleton grantedspecial equipment to the Uzbek Emergency Situations Ministry on Fridayas a token of mutual efforts of both countries in intensified fightagainst proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
According to the information, given by the US embassy in Tashkent, thespecial equipment worth $270 thousand will be used by the UzbekEmergency Situations Ministry, National Security Service and Ministry ofHome Affairs for monitoring, identification and decontamination of suchweapons, acquired during the investigation of crimes, related with theirproduction and proliferation. return to menu
2. UK To Construct Terminal To Inspect Cargoes At Turkmen-Afghani Border
July 26, 2002
(for personal use only)
The UK embassy will finance the construction of a covered terminal forinspecting vehicles and cargoes at the Serkhetabad /former Kushka/customs at the Turkmen-Afghani border.
For this purpose the UK embassy renders gratuitous help of $500,000.
It is possible that the new terminal will be equipped with facilities,necessary for inspecting cargoes, by the US government, which isallocating about $7 mln to Turkmenistan for an export control program.
Expectedly, if the project of customs terminal construction is asuccess, similar constructions will be set up in the republic's otherborder towns. return to menu
1. US Officials Meet With Russia Nuke Chief
July 31, 2002
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Two top U.S. officials met with Russia's atomic energy minister todiscuss nuclear proliferation issues Wednesday amid tension overRussia's plans to increase cooperation with Iran.
U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham and Undersecretary of State JohnBolton, who handles arms control issues, met with Nuclear EnergyMinister Alexander Rumyantsev, the U.S. Embassy said.
The visits were planned long ago, but the Americans arrived just daysafter the Russian government announced a 10-year program for cooperationwith Iran that includes plans to build five nuclear reactors there inaddition to one already under construction.
The existing dlrs 800 million deal has been a sticking point inRussian-American relations for years because U.S. officials fear itcould help Iran develop nuclear weapons. Russia maintains the aid servespurely civilian purposes and that the construction is underinternational control.
Neither Bolton nor Abraham spoke publicly Wednesday, and a newsconference announcing the release of a report by a U.S.-Russiancommittee exploring cooperation in the development ofproliferation-resistant nuclear fuel technology was canceled.
The U.S. Embassy cited a change in Abraham's itinerary as the reason.
In Washington on Tuesday, State Department spokesman Philip Reeker saidthe U.S. officials would convey American concerns about Russian-Iraniancooperation while in Moscow.
"We've consistently urged Russia to cease all nuclear cooperation withIran," Reeker said. "Contributing to Iranian nuclear weapons ambitionswould be counterproductive ... to Russia's broader strategic interests."
Abraham's spokeswoman, Jeanne Lopatto, would not say whether hediscussed the Iran dispute with Rumyantsev.
The Russian program, which must still be approved by top officials inRussia and Iran, also calls for Russia to help Iran explore oil fields,launch satellites and build passenger jets and conventional powerplants.
A Russian expert on Iran, Radzhab Safarov, said he expected portions ofthe program might be watered down before it gets final approval - inpart because of pressure from the West and pro-Western officials inRussia.
The debate comes at a time of improved Russian-U.S. ties ushered in byPutin's westward-leaning policies and his support for the U.S.anti-terror campaign following the Sept. 11 attacks.
Safarov, director of the Moscow-based Center for the Study of Iran,which he said was independent, said plans to boost ties with Iran do notmean President Vladimir Putin has abandoned his priority of close tieswith the West - but signal that Russia will not bow to the West when itbelieves it is against its interests.
"The Russian leadership seems to have judged that it must go where thenational interests of Russia dictate," he said. return to menu
2. US Secretary Of Energy To Meet Russian Energy Minister And NuclearEnergy Minister In Moscow
July 31, 2002
(for personal use only)
US Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham will be received on Wednesday byRussian Energy Minister Igor Yusufov and Nuclear Energy MinisterAlexander Rumyantsev.
The sides will consider the first results of the work by a jointRusso-American expert working group on reducing the stores of weaponsgrade plutonium and uranium and nuclear waste from atomic power plants.
In the course of the visit /July 30th--August 4th/ Abraham Spencer willalso meet representatives of Russian fuel-oil companies. return to menu
3. Russian And US Foreign And Defence Ministers To Meet In Washington OnSeptember 20
July 31, 2002
(for personal use only)
The first meeting of the Russian-American commission at the foreign anddefence minister level will take place on September 20 in Washington.This was agreed during a meeting between Igor Ivanov and Colin Powell.
According to the Russian diplomatic chief, the meeting will examineimplementation of accords on strategic offensive reductions, and alsoproblems relating to the weapons of mass destruction non-proliferationregime and anti-missile defence.
"We agreed that after the treaty on strategic offensive reductions isratified in Moscow and Washington, it will be immediately followed by ameeting of the working group on its implementation," Ivanov said.
He highly praised the results of the working group's meeting at thelevel of deputy foreign ministers of Russia and the US on joint effortsin the fight against new threats and challenges, held in Washington onJuly 26. "The sides have demonstrated once again that Moscow andWashington are expanding mutual understanding and cooperation in theface of these threats," the Russian foreign minister said. He expressedhope that Russia and the US would further collaborate in this area. return to menu
4. Russian-US Military And Political Agreements Are Discussed In Moscow
July 30, 2002
(for personal use only)
Political Director of Russia among G8 countries, Deputy Foreign MinisterGeorgy Mamedov met with US Under Secretary of State John Bolton inMoscow today. The officials discussed exact ways of implementingmilitary and political agreements reached at a summit in Moscow and a G8summit in Canada as well as other urgent problems of Russian-US militaryand political relations, the information and press department of theRussian Foreign Ministry reported to RosBusinessConsulting.
Russian officials paid the most attention to the preparation for thefirst meeting of an advisory strategic security group headed by theRussian and US Foreign and Defense Ministers. It was established inaccordance with a joint declaration signed by the Presidents of Russiaand the USA in May 2002. The group is supposed to hold a session inWashington D.C. this September. In particular, it will discuss theprocess of ratifying a strategic arms reduction treaty by the RussianFederal Assembly and the US Congress, the perspectives of interactingand coordinating measures of trust in the ABM sphere as well as the mosturgent arms non-proliferation matters, including the ones in view of aglobal anti-terrorist struggle.
The officials also talked about the course of preparing for thebeginning of Russian-US negotiations over the implementation of a G8global partnership plan against the proliferation of weapons of massdestruction approved at a summit in Canada. It is mainly oriented at theallocation of new money to destroy chemical weapons and utilize oldsubmarines in Russia. return to menu
5. Rumsfeld Says Destroying Nuclear Warheads Is Irresponsible, DespiteSecurity Concerns
July 25, 2002
(for personal use only)
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told Senate lawmakers today thatalthough he is worried about the security of Russia's tactical nuclearweapons and fissile material, he does not believe the United States andRussia should commit to destroying warheads removed from missiles orbombers.
He warned that since the United States no longer produces nuclearwarheads, it would be irresponsible to destroy decommissioned warheadsrather than have them available in the event there is a problem with thesafety or reliability of some element of the U.S. arsenal, or if somesignificant change in world events poses a threat to U.S. security.
Moreover, "the U.S. nuclear arsenal remains an important part of ourdeterrence strategy," because it dissuades potential competitors by"underscoring the futility of trying to sprint towards parity with usor, indeed, superiority," Rumsfeld said during a Senate Armed ServiceCommittee hearing.
The hearing evaluated the national security implications of theStrategic Offensive Reductions Treaty, known as the Moscow Treaty, whichPresident Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin signed on May 24.Bush submitted it to the Senate for approval on June 20.
The treaty calls for each country to reduce the number of operationallydeployed strategic nuclear weapons from about 6,000 to between 1,700 and2,200. The reduction process is to be completed by December 31, 2012.
Senators questioned Rumsfeld at length about complaints the treaty stillpermits a great number of nuclear weapons to exist and does not requireremoved warheads to be destroyed, which has led many Capital Hill lawmakers to question whether this leaves the United States even morevulnerable to attack if the nuclear material gets into the hands ofterrorist states.
Rumsfeld dismissed this logic, saying "this charge is based on . . . aflawed premise that irreversible reductions in nuclear weapons arepossible." He added that every reduction is "reversible, given time andgiven money."
However, Rumsfeld did admit that the United States has little visibilityinto what the Russians are doing to secure their nuclear stockpile andthat he worries "about the security of weapons while they're waiting tobe destroyed or while they're waiting to be redeployed or replace anunsafe or an unreliable weapon."
Alluding to the Baker-Cutler task force's report, committee ChairmanCarl Levin (D-MI) said, "the greatest threat to our security is theproliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the presence of nuclearweapons and nuclear material on Russian soil, because of the fact thatthey are unable to secure it to the extent that it should be secured."
The Baker-Cutler task force was a bipartisan effort led by former SenateMajority Leader and current U.S. Ambassador to Japan Howard Baker andformer White House Counsel Lloyd Cutler. The report concluded that inorder to protect U.S. interests, the government should spend $30 billionover the next 10 years in nonproliferation activities.
Referring to the report's recommendation, Rumsfeld said, "I think it'simportant for all of the countries of the world to recognize that it isnot just the United States that has the obligation to destroy Russiannuclear weapons."
"Russia has an obligation, and they have to make priorities and choices.And they have people who are potentially every bit as vulnerable asanyone in the United States to the mismanagement or mishandling or lackof security of their weapons," he said, adding, "But so, too, do thecountries in Western Europe have an obligation and an interest."
The committee will hold a second hearing on the Moscow Treaty on Aug. 1.The senators will hear testimony from U.S. Strategic Command chief Adm.James Ellis and a representative from the National Nuclear SecurityAdministration.
In a separate hearing held today by the House International RelationsCommittee, lawmakers and experts testified on proposals to use Russia'sSoviet-era debt to fund strengthened nonproliferation programs inRussia.
During her opening statement, Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) endorsed thetheory that restructuring Russian debt would ultimately advance U.S.interests, stating, "debt-for-security swaps are the ideal investment."
Tauscher is a consistent supporter of the debt relief concept. On March4 she introduced the "Russian Federation Debt Reduction forNonproliferation Act of 2002, " with co-sponsor John McHugh (R-NY). Thebill would enable Russia to restructure its debt with the United States,if Moscow takes actions to better safeguard its nuclear materials. return to menu
6. Rumsfeld: Arms Reduction Treaty's Simplicity And Flexibility Fit NewRealities
July 25, 2002
(for personal use only)
U.S. Secretary Donald Rumsfeld July 25 rebutted Senate lawmakers'concerns that the new U.S. Russian arms control agreement did notcontain sufficient guidelines for reducing the nations' operationallydeployed nuclear weapons, arguing that language of the treaty providedthe flexibility required in the post-Cold War era.
"There are those who would have preferred a voluminous, legalistic armscontrol agreement, with hundreds of pages of carefully craftedprovisions and intrusive verification measures," Rumsfeld said in hisJuly 25 testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee. "Thesecritics operate from a flawed premise," he argued, since Russia and theUnited States are independently committed to "deep reductions in theirdeployed nuclear weapons."
In marked contrast with the Cold War era, "the idea of an arms racebetween the United States and Russia today is ludicrous," Rumsfeld said,a fact that eliminates the requirement for a detailed verificationscheme for arms reductions. Even if such a scheme were needed, he said,it would be all but impossible to carry out. "There simply isn't any wayon earth to verify what Russia is doing with all those warheads."
U.S. President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putinagreed May 13 to reduce their respective operationally deployedstrategic nuclear arsenals by roughly two-thirds, to between 1,700 and2,200 warheads, by the end of 2012. Their agreement, dubbed the MoscowTreaty, was submitted to the Senate for review June 20.
During a July 9 hearing on the treaty, Senate Foreign RelationsCommittee Chairman Joseph Biden, D-Del., said that while he wouldsupport ratification of the treaty by the end of the year, he wasconcerned the agreement did not specify a detailed timetable for thestrategic reductions.
Biden's reservations were echoed by Senate Armed Services CommitteeChairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., during his opening statement at the July25 hearing. Levin also expressed concern that the new treaty didn'tcontain provisions for actually destroying the number of warheads eachside maintained, but merely called for the removal of operationallydeployed strategic nuclear weapons from high-alert status, where theycould be stockpiled for later redeployment.
Rumsfeld dismissed this complaint, arguing that since "the knowledge ofhow to build nuclear weapons exists--and there is no possibility thatknowledge will be lost every [arms] reduction is therefore reversible,given time and money."
The secretary further asserted that the lack of a timetable was acrucial element of the new treaty, which would provide the United Statesand Russia with the necessary flexibility to safeguard their nationalinterests in an increasingly uncertain world.
Given the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to a growingnumber of terrorist sects and so-called rogue states, posing a threat to"hundreds of thousands or millions" of U.S. and Russian lives, theworld's two reigning nuclear powers should "retain the ability to leveloff their draw-down" of operationally deployed strategic nuclear weaponsat any time, Rumsfeld said. "My guess is there will be an unevendraw-down," of weapons leading up to the 2012 treaty end-date, he said.
"If we had pursued the path of traditional arms control," by engaging in"lengthy, adversarial negotiations" on issues of verification, timingand reversibility of arms reductions, Rumsfeld added, "we would still benegotiating today." return to menu
1. Moscow Reaffirms Intention To Continue Nuclear Energy Ties With Iran
July 31, 2002
(for personal use only)
Moscow is prepared to discuss U.S. concerns over Russia-Iran ties if theUnited States backs its claims with specific facts, diplomatic sourcestold Interfax on Wednesday.
The U.S. media reported that while in Moscow, U.S. Secretary of EnergySpencer Abraham and U.S. Under Secretary of State John Bolton will focuson Russia's construction of nuclear power plants in Iran, and ask Moscowto curb its nuclear energy ties with that nation.
Russia "has expanded relations with Iran on a basis of pragmatism andmutual benefit and will continue to do so. Russia has no intention ofbreaching its international commitments in the non-proliferationsphere," the sources said.
"Cooperation focuses on economic aspects that do not undermine thenon-proliferation regime," they said. "If the U.S. side has any doubtsabout this, we want to hear specific facts," they said. return to menu
2. Russian Deal With Iran Alarms U.S.
July 30, 2002
(for personal use only)
A Russian customs inspector recently turned up in the U.S. with adisturbing story. Working at one of the country's main ports, he cameupon a group of boxes destined for export to a "Middle East" country.
He opened one of the boxes, labelled as a commercial shipment, anddiscovered what he called "strategic material" a euphemism for itemsrelated to nuclear weapons development. He wasn't more specific. Butwhen he reported the discovery to his superiors, he was told, bluntly,to forget about it.
The inspector, who fled to the U.S. after receiving threats, can't benamed, and the details of his story can't be confirmed. But itunderlines what many experts agree is a continuing problem of officialRussian acquiescence in illegal or questionable exports.
And that, in turn, puts into perspective a decision taken by Moscow lastweek.
Last Friday, the Russian government released a 10-year plan of energyco-operation with Iran that, among other items, included help inbuilding six nuclear power plants.
The announcement represented an embarrassing setback for Washington. Yetit's also an opportunity to bring some clarity and transparency to themurky network of arms traders and commercial entrepreneurs who have beenbuilding the foundations for nuclear, chemical and biological weaponsprograms in the Middle East and elsewhere.
For nearly a decade, Moscow and Washington have been stuck in bitternegotiations over nuclear assistance to Iran.
The U.S. approach has been to ban exports of any form of "dual-use"technology to Iran, and to penalize private companies that engage insuch exports.
The Russians became involved in an $1.2 billion project to build anuclear plant at Bushehr, in southern Iran, after the Germans abandonedit in the early 1990s. The project was important to reviving theirimpoverished industrial export sector, as well as to their own policiesin the region.
Having Iran as an ally limited Russia's exposure to Muslim unrest in theCaucasus and Central Asia, and it was an effective counterpoint to thegrowing influence of Turkey and the U.S.
In response to American objections, Moscow agreed to keep control overthe entire "fuel-cycle" of any plants built in Iran, specificallyensuring that spent fuel or plutonium which could be used to makenuclear weapons would be returned to Russia. And they also agreed toride herd on the dozens of Russian arms and technology firms who wereinvolved in private deals with Iran.
But Americans wanted a blanket halt to the Bushehr project. At thesummit meeting between Presidents George Bush and Vladimir Putin inMoscow last May, Iran was the only sour point in an otherwise happy moodof co-operation that led to their historic agreement to slash nucleararsenals.
Bush said his talks with Putin on Iran were "frank" and "honest" theusual diplomatic euphemism for head-knocking disagreements. Washingtonwanted to "make sure that a government run by radical clerics doesn'tget their hands on weapons of mass destruction," Bush said. "It could beharmful to us and harmful to Russia."
Putin dug in his heels. "Russia's co-operation with Iran is not of acharacter that would undermine the process of non-proliferation," hesaid.
Now, to Washington's shock, Russia will not only build two plants atBushehr, but four others elsewhere in the country.
On the surface, it's a wounding blow to U.S.-Russian relations. Andpessimists might also see it as an ill omen: Will Washington's hopes ofparlaying Russian co-operation in other strategic areas now fall apart?
Not necessarily. The fact is, Washington's position on Iran has proveduntenable.
Earlier this year, key U.S. arms control experts were calling forWashington to develop a new framework for technology transfers to Iranthat recognized Russia's economic and political interests. Otherwise,Washington "could end up with the worst of all worlds additionaltransfers of power reactors, continued clandestine and perhaps evenovert Russian fuel cycle assistance (and) inadequate constraints onIranian nuclear activities," warned Robert Einhorn and Gary Samore, twoformer Clinton administration officials.
It's still not too late.
The biggest question has always been how much control Russia actuallyhas over its exports of dangerous materials. The story of the customsinspector illustrates that such exports directly implicate governmentofficials themselves, either through corruption or the use of "rogue"government agencies pursuing policies to which Moscow officially closesits eyes.
Given the materials, would Iran actually develop nuclear weapons? Thejury is still out, despite its inclusion by the Bush administration inthe "Axis of Evil."
But a more straightforward agreement, with U.S., Russian andinternational involvement, would allow a real crackdown on subterraneannuclear trading, and bring transparency to a corruption riddled areathat has been left murky for too long and not only in the Middle East. return to menu
3. Mild US Reaction To Russia-Iran Deal
July 29, 2002
(for personal use only)
The White House reacted mildly on Monday to Russia's approval of along-term program to boost nuclear cooperation with Iran as senior U.S.officials prepared to visit Moscow for talks on the subject whichcontinues to dog improving U.S.-Russia relations.
The trip by Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham and Undersecretary of StateJohn Bolton was scheduled before plans for the expanded Russia-Irannuclear program became public, but is certain to add urgency to theirmission.
Russia has approved plans to construct up to six nuclear power reactors,expand conventional power stations, develop oil and gas deposits,jointly produce aircraft and cooperate in communications and metallurgy.
This would be in addition to Russia's 1990s agreement with Iran to builda nuclear plant at Bushehr on the Gulf coast, a project that hasinfuriated Washington, which considers Iran part of an "axis of evil"along with Iraq and North Korea.
Asked about the latest deal, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer notedthat at their last meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin andPresident George W. Bush had reached "agreement on the outcome, which isto prevent proliferation."
"We differ in some ways on how to get there but we're still working thatthrough with Russia to make certain that anything they do - if they doanything in Iran - is done in a manner that does not lead toproliferation problems," he said.
The measured response reflects an administration suspicion that theexpanded Russia-Iran cooperation plan reflected internal Kremlinpolitical debate and was not necessarily a done deal, one official said.
Since the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon,the Bush administration has become even more determined to crack down oncountries supplying Iran and other so-called "rogue states" withtechnology for weapons of mass destruction. According to U.S. officialsRussia and China are the world's leading arms technology suppliers tothese states.
A TEST OF NEW DOCTRINE?
The Washington Post reported on Monday that Bushehr has become thesubject of debate between the U.S. and Israel over whether the plantshould be allowed to come on line in the next two to three years.
Israel, which views Bushehr as a threat to its security, has suggestedit will not allow the plant to open.
"But as the plant moves nearer to completion, it also has emerged as apotential test case of the Bush administration's new doctrine ofpreempting threats to U.S. national security," the newspaper said.
But a senior U.S. official, asked if any other country besides Iraq wasa likely near-term target of U.S. military action, told Reuters: "Notthat I can see at the moment."
Another U.S. official dismissed talk of U.S. military action againstBushehr as "way out there."
The Bolton-Spencer trip, following on recent discussion between Bush andPutin in Moscow and Canada, will include a meeting with the head ofRussia's ministry of atomic energy, among other officials.
"Bush believes Putin has committed pretty strongly to the idea that hedoesn't want a nuclear-capable, ballistic-missile-equipped Iran," asenior official told Reuters.
When Russian officials dispute U.S. claims that Iran is seeking toacquire nuclear weapons, the Americans argue that there could be noother reason for a country with Iran's oil resources to want so manynuclear power reactors.
In recent months, there have been signs of new thinking that would seekto use economic incentives instead of coercion to persuade Moscow tocease proliferation the U.S. considers threatening.
Russia has pursued the nuclear relationship with Iran in part as a wayto earn hard currency.
Senior U.S. officials have told Reuters the administration mightacquiesce in Russian sales of conventional weapons sales - excludingadvanced equipment like fighter jets - to Iran if Moscow ended nuclearweapons cooperation with Tehran.
Similarly, the administration may be able to accept continued Russianwork on Iran's Bushehr civilian nuclear power plant "if Bushehr is trulydivorced from any connection with the nuclear weapons program," said onesenior official.
The problem is that the Russians have denied involvement with theIranian nuclear weapons program, officials said.
Support for an economic compromise has come from Richard Perle, aninfluential U.S. administration adviser, who has recommended that Russiabe forgiven its Soviet-era debt as a way of persuading it to end nuclearcooperation with Iran.
Russia's $42 billion Soviet-era debt to Western lenders is one of theCold War's last unsettled financial problems.
Whether there might be any breakthrough during the Abraham-Bolton tripto Moscow was unclear. Because of Russian vacation schedules, the teamwas unlikely to have meetings with all the officials they wanted to see,officials said. return to menu
4. Russia Outlines Plans For Five More Iranian Reactors, Stoking WeaponsProgramme Fears
July 29, 2002
(for personal use only)
Russia has outlined plans to build five more nuclear reactors in Iranover the next decade, representing a sharp expansion of cooperation withTehran and an apparent disregard for US concerns about the developmentof an atomic power infrastructure in the area.
The plans have also opened a new can of worms regarding the fate of theIranian reactors' spent nuclear fuel (SNF), which - despite Russia'sassurances that it will take spent fuel back - has given credence tospeculation that the Kremlin's nuclear assistance to Tehran could leadto a nuclear weapons program.
The plan for additional civilian reactors in Iran is bound to strain thecloser ties between Moscow and Washington that were forged in theaftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and thePentagon, diplomats in Russia said. And while the two countries latelyhave smoothed over most of their disputes, the late Friday announcementabout the intended expansion of nuclear cooperation with Iran made itclear that, whatever other gains may be made between Russia and theUnited States, Iran is off limits as a topic of negotiation.
Russia has been constructing a 1,000-megawatt, light-water reactor forIran at Bushehr on the Persian Gulf for years and has consistentlyrefused to drop the $800 million project, insisting it will serve onlycivilian purposes. US officials and scientists familiar with fuel cycletechnologies, however, fear that Russian assistance could make it easierfor Iran to develop nuclear weapons, and have lobbied in vain to stopthe venture.
Russia's plan for five additional reactors was included in a broad10-year blueprint for how to enhance economic, political and scientificties with Iran, a document approved by Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanovon Wednesday and released late Friday. Iranian and Russian officialshave talked about building more reactors since 1996, but now theRussians have moved the idea closer to reality by enshrining the goal ina paper to be presented to Tehran in September.
The document signed Wednesday by Kasyanov suggested that threeadditional reactors could be built alongside the original one atBushehr, which is slated to be operational by late 2003 or early 2004.
The document also confirmed a proposal for a second plant, at Ahvaz -about 100 kilometres from Iran's border with Iraq - where two reactorscould be built. All told, it would mean billions of dollars for Russia'snuclear power industry.
No contracts have been signed with Iran yet, and given Russia's sporadicconstruction record at Bushehr, no new reactors are likely in the nearterm. But the absence of a contract also suggests the absence of alegally binding plan about what will happen with the SNF from thereactors, Ivan Blokov, Greenpeace's Campaign Director, told Bellona Web.
Indeed, it was only within the past two weeks that Greenpeace exposed inleaked government documents that Russia had no contract for repatriatingSNF from Bushehr. Since that time, Russia's Nuclear Minister AlexanderRumyantsev has issued repeated assurances that Bushehr SNF - which, whenreprocessed, yields plutonium - will be sent back to Russia.
But Blokov said Rumyantsev's assurances are based on nothing more than a"protocol of intent" which is not legally binding."There is still no contract for the return of the SNF from Iran," saidBlokov.
A government official, speaking to Bellona Web on the condition ofanonymity, confirmed this.
"The only reason we knew there was no plan for the SNF from the originalBushehr reactor is because internal documents were leaked to the press,"said the official. "The 'protocol of intent' means nothing in terms ofrepatriating the fuel."
"It's not even clear why Iran needs a nuclear reactor - to say nothingof five. They have oil, which is cheaper," said Blokov.
"Secondly, the reactors that they are being given can produce materialsto make an atomic bomb. The fact is that when they have their SNF [afterfive or six years of burning it in the first Bushehr reactor] they caneasily reprocess it, and getting hold of equipment to do that is notthat difficult - it's a long-known open secret that delivering suchequipment is not a problem," he added.
The provocative nature of the Kremlin announcement was withheld for twodays, with news of the official signing of the document delayed untilFriday news broadcasts, after much of Moscow had left for their countrydachas for the weekend. Then two plane crashes over the week - one atMoscow's Sheremetyevo airport - virtually guaranteed no attention to thenews on the part of the public.
The Iranian development came just a day after President Vladimir Putinhailed the new era of friendship with the West. "Russia has completelyleft the confrontational period in international relations, and thecountries of the world can view Russia not only as a partner but also asan ally in resolving key problems of the present era," he said Thursdayat a ceremony accepting credentials of new ambassadors.
"The fact that Kasyanov signed something shows how much power the atomiclobby has in this country," said Andrei Piontkovsky of the Center forStrategic Studies in Moscow.
"Five new reactors is going to be seriously irritating to the US."
In Washington, Bush administration officials said Russian cooperationwith Iran's nuclear energy program would be on the agenda this week whenEnergy Secretary Spencer Abraham leads a US delegation to Russia todiscuss energy and nuclear non-proliferation issues, the AssociatedPress reported.
"Our concerns with regard to Russian cooperation with Iran on the issueof Bushehr are well known," AP quoted Sean McCormack, a spokesman forthe US National Security Council, as saying.
"We have expressed them in public as well as in private directly toRussian President Putin. And we will continue to work with Russia onnon-proliferation issues of concern."
After their summit in May, US President George Bush said RussianPresident Vladimir Putin had assured him that Russia would press Iran toallow extensive international inspections of the plant.
Iran has signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and has previouslysaid it will cooperate fully with the International Atomic EnergyAgency, which oversees the world's civilian nuclear power programmes.
After Friday's announcement, the chairman of the State Duma's Committeeon Foreign Affairs, Dmitry Rogozin, said Russia's plans should not hurtrelations with the United States since Moscow shares Washington'sworries.
"Neither Russia nor the United States is interested in other countries'use of peaceful nuclear technologies for military purposes," he wasquoted by Interfax news agency as saying. return to menu
5. Russia-Iran Nuclear Plans to Expand
Los Angeles Times
July 27, 2002
(for personal use only)
Despite opposition from the United States, Russia is seeking to increasecooperation with Iran, releasing plans Friday to build a new nuclearpower plant in the western part of that country.
A draft of a 10-year program of cooperation with Iran, which wasapproved by the Russian government, spelled out Moscow's determinationto build a plant in Ahvaz in addition to completing a station underconstruction in Bushehr, which the U.S. strongly opposes. The Russiansalso intend to build a second nuclear plant in Bushehr, a southernIranian city about 240 miles southeast of Ahvaz.
The plan calls for the Russians to supply six nuclear reactors, four inBushehr and two in Ahvaz.
The draft, published Friday by the government information department,also spells out cooperation in the fields of energy, industry, science,technology and trade, including plans for Caspian Sea exploration, apipeline from Iran to India and an aviation joint venture making RussianTu-204 and Tu-334 passenger jets.
Details in the 12-page document were agreed upon by Russian and Iranianofficials. No deal on further reactors has yet been signed with Iran,but release of the plan came unexpectedly and will likely create alarmin Washington.
The U.S. is against all Russian nuclear sales to Iran, fearing that thiscould help Iran develop nuclear weapons. President Bush has termed theMiddle Eastern nation part of an "axis of evil."
"We have seen these reports, and we are looking into them," said StateDepartment spokesman Frederick Jones. "In the past, we have made clearto the highest levels of the Russian government that selling sensitivetechnology to Iran could prove a serious threat to the national securityinterests of the United States, its allies and friends in the region."
In congressional testimony this month, Secretary of State Colin L.Powell said that the issue of nuclear aid to Iran would be at the top ofhis agenda when he and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld meet withtheir Russian counterparts in September.
John Tedstrom, a National Security Council aide in the Clintonadministration, said a Russian move to build a second nuclear facility"would play into the hands of the far right in the Bush administrationwho are already skeptical that Russia can be a partner in the war onterrorism" or other aspects of foreign policy.
Russia's nuclear sales to Iran remain one of the sorest points in arelationship with Washington that has improved sharply since PresidentVladimir V. Putin backed the U.S. anti-terrorism campaign.
Under Putin, Russia has insisted on its right to export civilian nucleartechnology to Iran. The Russian president plans to visit Iran this year.
Release of the plan came a day after Deputy Defense Minister MikhailDmitriyev affirmed that Russia would sell conventional defensive weaponsto Iran.
In 1995, Moscow promised to limit its nuclear cooperation with Tehran tothe construction of the Bushehr plant, but U.S. officials are concernedthat Russia is offering to help Iran in other sensitive areas that couldenable it to develop nuclear weapons. The CIA has accused Russia ofhelping Iran develop long-range ballistic missiles.
Russia has repeatedly denied these charges, arguing that nothing it wasdoing would help Iran develop a nuclear bomb and that Iran's nuclearenergy projects are internationally monitored. Moscow insists that Iranwill return the spent fuel from the reactors to Russia, so the Iranianswould not have the materials to make a nuclear weapon.
Russia's eagerness to build three more reactors at Bushehr is notunexpected, but its willingness to build a nuclear power plant at Ahvaz,involving two reactors, has not been made public before.
Quizzed by Interfax news service about the issue, Atomic Energy Ministryspokesman Nikolai Shingarov confirmed that Russia would offer to buildfour reactors at Bushehr, but he refused to comment about the Ahvazplan. The Atomic Energy Ministry could not be reached directly forcomment.
U.S. Ambassador Alexander Vershbow recently cautioned Russia aboutcountries such as Iran, Iraq and North Korea, which he said wereactively seeking to acquire nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.
"In this case, Russia has to avoid letting its desire for commercialgain end up hastening the day that these countries can pose a realweapons of mass destruction threat--a threat that could not onlydestabilize their own region but undermine the security of the entireworld," Vershbow said Monday in a speech at the Moscow School ofPolitical Studies.
In a paper on Iran's efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction,Robert Einhorn, a senior advisor at the Center for Strategic andInternational Studies, a Washington think tank, warned recently thatIran was working to establish a nuclear weapons program invulnerable tointernational pressure or supply problems.
"Within the next few years Iran could reach the point of no return, apoint after which it could succeed in achieving nuclear and long-rangemissile capabilities without further foreign assistance," he argued inthe paper, which was written jointly with Gary Samore, a senior fellowat the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
Einhorn said in an interview that he believed the U.S. was not aware ofplans for Russia to build any reactors beyond Bushehr.
He said the U.S. was most concerned about the transfer of sensitive fuelcycle technologies to Iran. The U.S. is alarmed that these technologies,which include light-water research reactors, fuel fabrication facilitiesand a uranium-enrichment centrifuge plant, could enable Iran to producehighly enriched uranium.
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail M. Kasyanov on Wednesday orderedgovernment departments to negotiate with Iran to finalize the plansspelled out in the draft.
Dmitry Rogozin, the head of the International Affairs Committee of theState Duma, or lower house of Russia's parliament, said maintaining goodrelations with the U.S. was the one of the most important planks ofRussian foreign policy.
"There are certain lines that Russia won't cross in its cooperation withcountries like Iran," he said. return to menu
6. Steam Turbine For Nuclear Plant In Iran
July 26, 2002
(for personal use only)
Leningradski metal works (LMZ, in St. Petersburg; part of SilovyeMashiny trust) has finished shipment works for a 1,000 MW steam turbine,to be installed at the Bushehr power plant which is being built in Iran.
The trust's press service informed that the turbine, the whole load of2,500 tonnes would be shipped to Iran before August.
The newly built turbine consists of three low-pressure rotors and onehigh-pressure rotor. With its weight of 1,700 tonnes and length of 39.5metres, the device is 1.3 times lighter than low speed turbines withsame power.
Designing engineers did not overlook weather conditions in Bushehr,namely extreme heat and highly humid and salinated air because of theproximity to the ocean, press service pointed out.
Vendor contract for the turbine had been concluded by Atomstroyeksportcompany and Leningradski metal works in September 1999. Designengineering took a year and a half; two more years lapsed beforebuilding was completed.
1,000 MW turbines are among the most robust engines used at nuclearplants. There are only some twenty such machines operating throughoutthe world. Four of them come from Leningradski metal works and operateat nuclear power plants in Russia and Ukraine. return to menu
1. Egypt Plans To Build Nuke Plant Near Alexandria
Middle East News Line
July 31, 2002
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Egypt plans to construct a nuclear power plant west of the port city ofAlexandria despite U.S. disapproval. Officials said the Alexandria-areaplant will be one of eight nuclearreactors being planned until 2012.Egyptian Electricity Minister HassanYunes said the Alexandria plant is at the top of his ministry's agenda.Yunes said the construction schedule has already been presented forapproval and implementation.
During a meeting with Egyptian parliamentarians, Yunes denied reportsthat Egypt has been pressured to delay launching its nuclear program.Egyptian officials have acknowledged U.S. pressure to stop China andRussia from helping Cairo design and construct the nuclear facilities. return to menu
E. Russian Nuclear Power Industry
1. Russia To Continue Participating In ITER Project
July 29, 2002
(for personal use only)
The Russian Finance Ministry will allocate $1.19m in 2002 for the AtomicMinistry to cover the expenses of Russian experts participating in theInternational Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor project (ITER). Thisdecision was endorsed by Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov on July 25,2002, the head of the scientific department of the Atomic Ministry saidin an interview with RBC. The draft of the 2003 federal budget alsostipulates the financing of the participation of Russian experts in thisproject, he stressed. Among participants of the ITER project, which wasstarted in 1988, are the USA, Japan, the European Union and Russia. Some15 to 30 Russian specialists are currently participating in the project. return to menu
1. Russian Deputy Minister Of Foreign Affairs Georgy Mamedov Meets With USUnder Secretary Of State John Bolton
Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
July 31, 2002
Georgy Mamedov, Deputy Foreign Minister and Russia's political directorin the Group of Eight (G8) countries, on July 30 received the visitingUS Under Secretary of State, John Bolton.
During the talk, the sides discussed specific questions ofimplementation of the military-political agreements reached at thesummit in Moscow and the G-8 top-level meeting in Kananaskis, and othertopical problems in Russian-US military-political relations.
The Russian side paid the main attention to preparations for the firstmeeting of the Consultative Group for Strategic Security with theRussian and US foreign and defense ministers in the lead, the creationof which is provided by the Russian and US Presidents' Joint Declarationon the New Strategic Relationship Between the Russian Federation and theUnited States of America, signed in May 2002. The meeting of this groupwill take place this September in Washington and is planned, inparticular, to discuss the course of the Strategic Offensive ReductionsTreaty ratification process in the Russian Federal Assembly and the USCongress, prospects of interaction and the elaboration of confidencebuilding measures in the ABM field, and the most pressing issues ofnonproliferation, including in the context of the global antiterroristcampaign.
Preparations for the start of Russian-US talks on the implementation ofthe plan adopted in Kananaskis for the G8 Global Partnership Against theSpread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction with emphasis on theallocation of new funds for the elimination of stockpiles of chemicalweapons and disposition of written-off nuclear submarines in Russia werealso discussed. return to menu
2. Joint Press Statement By The Russia-US Working Group On Counterterrorism
Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
July 29, 2002
The Russia-US Working Group on Counterterrorism, formerly known as theRussia-US Working Group on Afghanistan, held its eighth session on July26, 2002, in Annapolis, USA. First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs ofthe Russian Federation Vyacheslav Trubnikov and US Deputy Secretary ofState Richard Armitage co-chaired the Working Group session.
This was the first session of the Group with a broadened mandate, whichwas endorsed by President Putin and President Bush during the Russia-USSummit in May in Moscow. The delegations discussed a range of keyregional issues, including recent developments in Afghanistan, inCentral Asia, in relations between India and Pakistan, in SoutheastAsia, and Yemen. They underscored the need to cut off sources ofterrorist financing. They also discussed certain issues regarding Iraqand Iran.
Both sides assessed positively the developments in Afghanistan, theprogress made in implementation of the Bonn Agreements, and the outcomeof the extraordinary Loya Jirga. They expressed their strong support forthe Afghan Transitional Administration (ATA) and for the InternationalSecurity Assistance Force (ISAF) in implementing its mandate. The sidessupport further development of the political reconstruction process, thesocial and economic revival of Afghanistan, the eradication ofterrorism, and the establishment of a lasting peace and stability.
They expressed their concern over ongoing activities of the remaininggroups of the Taliban movement and al-Qaeda and the recent assassinationof Haji Abdul Qadir, Vice President of Afghanistan. Both sides agreedthat a regrouping of the Taliban movement and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan,in particular on its southern and southeastern borders, poses a seriousthreat both to Afghanistan and to peace and stability in the region.
The delegations also welcomed the support provided to Afghanistan by theUnited Nations, other international institutions, and bilateral donors.They agreed on the need to continue close cooperation with the UN andits Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) in the context ofenhancing a key coordinating role of the UN in the process of peacefulsettlement and social and economic revival of Afghanistan. Bothdelegations supported the UN Security Council Counter TerrorismCommittee's efforts aimed at implementing UNSCR 1373 by UN member statesand its work with international and regional organizations to encourageimplementation of that resolution.
The delegations continued their detailed discussions on other regionscoping with terrorism and instability, particularly the strategiccrossroads of Central Asia and the Caucasus. Both sides reviewed theirexisting counterterrorism and security initiatives and proposed newareas of possible Russian-US cooperation in close coordination with thecountries of these regions. The US delegation briefed on the progress inthe realization of the Georgia "Train and Equip" program. Both sidesagreed to support Georgian practical counterterrorism efforts andcooperate in that regard.
The delegations reviewed their ongoing cooperation on Operation EnduringFreedom in Central Asia. In this context, the US side reiterated thatthe United States has no intention of establishing permanent militarybases in Central Asia, but does plan long-term security relationshipswith the countries in the region. The delegations also agreed thatpolitical and economic reform and respect for human rights are essentialto promote stability and prevent the growth of terrorism and extremismin the region.
The sides agreed on a set of joint actions to support stability,security, and economic development in the countries of Central Asia andthe Caucasus.
The proliferation of Afghan illicit opiates throughout Central Asiacontinues to undermine counterterrorism efforts in the region and fuelterrorist organizations. The sides commended Afghan authorities fortaking resolute steps to end poppy cultivation in Afghanistan. Bothsides undertook to further support the efforts by the ATA and theinternational community to eliminate the narcotics trade in the region.The sides further agreed that Russia and the United States must continueto lead efforts to strengthen narcotics prohibition, and encouragecross-border law enforcement cooperation in the region, both bilaterallyand through the UN Drug Control Program (UNDCP) and other internationalstructures.
The sides noted with great concern the remaining tension between Indiaand Pakistan, despite all the efforts taken in recent months to ease itby the international community, including the leaders of Russia and theUnited States.
The sides discussed ongoing counterterrorism efforts taken together withthe governments of the Philippines and Yemen, as well as the threatposed by al-Qaeda from Somalia and other regions of the world.
In fulfillment of the instruction from Presidents Putin and Bush inMoscow, the sides discussed the threat posed by potential terrorist useof weapons of mass destruction. They agreed on the importance ofstrengthening Russian-US cooperation in addressing the threats posed bynuclear, biological, and chemical terrorism, including cooperation inconsequence management of terrorist incidents. They agreed that theseissues require the highest priority attention and the application of thefull range of intelligence and law enforcement capabilities.
The delegations also considered issues related to the cooperationbetween Russia and the United States to combat terrorism in otherregions. They reaffirmed the need to enhance further such cooperation inthe framework of the OSCE, the Russia-NATO Council, as well as otherinternational structures and on a bilateral basis.
The sides agreed to hold their next meeting in Moscow in December 2002. return to menu
G. Links of Interest
1. Let's Call Back The Stream Of Nuclear Weapons Abolition
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