1. Expert Group From US Department Of Energy Inspects Nuclear ProductionPlant Near Krasnoyarsk
August 6, 2002
(for personal use only)
Another five experts from the US Department of Energy have startedinspecting the mining and chemical plant located in the restricted townof Zheleznogorsk in the nearby Krasnoyarsk.
Experts will inspect the plant's schemes to register, control and securethe nuclear materials stockpiled there.
Pavel Morozov, the head of the facility's PR department, said on Tuesdaythat "this is a routine inspection," which would be held in compliancewith a Russo-American intergovernmental agreement signed in October 1999on the monitoring of weapons-grade plutonium production at the plant.
The thing is that the Americans are no longer producing weapons-gradeplutonium, while the Siberian facility cannot but produce it because thefacility's reactor is simultaneously supplying heat and electricity tothe 100,000-population town. Another two reactors were shut down in the1990s, the last one will be closed in 2006, when an alternative powersource for Zheleznogorsk is constructed.
The Russian side in conjunction with the Americans, who will also coverpart of the expenses, are creating a joint command centre, which willreplace separate posts monitoring nuclear storage facilities. Inaddition, it has been decided to equip the plant with a special radiocable, which will improve communication within the plant whosefacilities are located deep under ground, which hampers the use ofregular radio communication systems.
The Americans are expected to leave the Russian production plant onAugust 10th. return to menu
2. Ukraine: Kiev Arranges To Destroy Bombers, Cruise Missiles
August 6, 2002
(for personal use only)
Ukraine plans to dispose of 30 strategic bombers and more than 200cruise missiles within the next 2 1/2 years, Interfax reportedyesterday.
The U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency and the Ration TechnicalService Company signed a contract last month on the disposal project,said Ihor Mityayev, head of the center responsible for implementing armsdisposal treaties. Under the contract, about 30 Tu-22 bombers and morethan 200 Kh-22 cruise missiles will be destroyed, he said.
"After the disposal, the hardware will be used as metal scrap andearnings will be [spent] on welfare payments for the military," Mityayevsaid return to menu
1. The Genie Is Out Of The Bottle
August 6, 2002
(for personal use only)
If the two atomic bombs that exploded over Japan in 1945 forced an endto a bitter and destructive world war, they also began a dangerousnuclear-arms race. To some, the futility of that race was evident fromthe outset. Niels Bohr, the Danish physicist, defined the essentialnuclear dilemma in a single lucid sentence: "We are in a completely newsituation that cannot be resolved by war."
We have lived with nuclear weapons, and with the hovering spectre ofnuclear annihilation, for so long now that they and it have come to seemimmutable. However, the character of the nuclear-arms race has changedsignificantly since the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, and largely forthe better.
Today there are many thousands fewer nuclear weapons in the world thanthere were a decade ago. Russia has reduced its operational nucleararsenal to about 8,400 warheads, the US to about 8,000, down from about35,000 and 25,000 respectively. Another 8,000 to 10,000 from eacharsenal are stored in reserve but not quickly deployable. In May thisyear, Presidents Bush and Putin agreed to reduce their operationalarsenals further, to between 1,700 and 2,200 warheads each by 2012. Theydid not agree to destroy the warheads that will be removed from service,which made some arms-control experts unhappy, but given the pressure onthe Bush administration from the US rightwing to maintain and evenexpand the US arsenal (and the administration's own bellicosity), theBush-Putin agreement was a step in the right direction. Nuclearabolition has to advance by just such small steps.
The US-Russian "Megatons to Megawatts" initiative, begun in 1993,carries arms reductions further, converting bomb-grade uranium from oldRussian warheads into low-enriched fuel for nuclear power stations; thisyear it will pass the 6,000-warhead mark. About half of the US's 103nuclear power stations are fuelled with converted Russian weapons'uranium. The converted warhead materials are essentially unrecoverable.In the long run, diluting weapons' uranium and plutonium and using it asfuel for nuclear reactors is the only way to render it unusable.
Short of the destruction of civilisation, it is inconceivable thathumans will lose the knowledge of how to release nuclear energy, whichmeans the nuclear dilemma has to be managed, not wished away. LastApril, the leader of the Japanese Liberal party, Ichiro Ozawa, notedthat it would be easy for Japan to make nuclear weapons from itsstockpile of recycled power-reactor plutonium, which it accumulates as areserve for power production. In this sense, Japan has been a nuclearpower for decades, as are most other advanced industrial nations.
But it is curious and promising that only a few countries have chosen todevelop nuclear weapons. In 1992, John Deutsch, whom Bill Clinton wouldlater appoint director of the CIA, estimated that some 20 to 25 nationshad explored the acquisition of a nuclear-weapons capability and couldbegin building such weapons within a relatively short time - perhaps sixmonths or less - but had decided not to do so. Deutsch named no names,but any list of 25 would have to include Switzerland, Sweden, Canada,Brazil, Australia, Argentina, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Germany andTaiwan. Deutsch's estimate implies that the fears of those who believethat nuclear-weapons acquisition is driven primarily by technology areunfounded. In short, it's not lack of technical know-how that stopspeople building bombs.
What does make a country go nuclear? Historically, only a perception ofa fundamental threat to a nation's survival. The Anglo-AmericanManhattan Project was driven by fear that Nazi Germany would beat theAllies to the bomb and reverse the outcome of the war. The USSR raced tobuild the bomb after 1945 to counter the US nuclear monopoly. The UK andFrance sought independent deterrents against the Soviets, China againstthe US and the USSR, India against China and Pakistan, Pakistan againstIndia. Israel feared engulfment by Arab conventional forces.
In the 1970s, South Korea and Taiwan halted weapons programmes intendedto deter China in return for US nuclear guarantees. South Africa, anodder case, built a small nuclear arsenal in the 1980s as a defenceagainst engulfment by black Africa and pointedly dismantled its sevenuranium bombs before relinquishing the reins of government to its blackmajority. Iran and Iraq fought a terrible, eight-year trench war in the1980s that produced millions of casualties and even involved the use ofpoison gas; it was this that led both countries to begin nucleardevelopment - Iraq at that point was still aligned with the US.
Considerations of national prestige - of becoming an international"player" - figure in the calculations in most cases, of course, as Indiarecently made clear, but evidently have not been decisive in the absenceof a perceived threat to national survival. Going nuclear has majordisadvantages. It's expensive, and if it scares off your worst enemy, italso invites thewell-armed scrutiny of the major nuclear powers.
After the fact, South Africa claimed it had only gone nuclear toencourage US and European intervention if it were attacked. Nuclearexperts widely dismissed the claim at the time as bogus. India has nowoffered the same rationale for challenging Pakistan over Kashmir in themidst of the US war on the Taliban. A similar logic - forcing the US topay attention - seems to have motivated the North Korean feint in thedirection of bomb-building in the early 1990s that encouraged the US tocome to its aid, trading a moratorium for building two nuclear powerstations that the Soviet collapse had stalled. Small, desperate nationshave thus learned from the nuclear superpowers that nuclear weapons makesterling bargaining chips.
No nuclear weapons have been fired in anger since 1945. Surely nucleardeterrence deserves most of the credit for preventing a third world warin the second half of the 20th century. As the London-based Scottishwriter Gil Elliot has emphasised, however, it would be technologicalhubris to believe that what prevented large-scale war in the decades ofthe US-Soviet standoff will necessarily protect us in the post-cold waryears.
Sooner or later, by accident or deliberately, weapons that are held innational arsenals will be used. The recent very frighteningconfrontation between India and Pakistan gives urgency to this point. Inthe long run, we will not be safe, and the world will not be safe, fromdevastation and horror on a scale far beyond the Holocaust, far beyondthe two world wars, unless nuclear weapons arsenals are abolished. Theend of the cold war opened up a millennial opportunity to move in thatdirection, and arms reductions and dilution of weapons materials deserverespect. And yet: India and Pakistan have become full nuclear powers.Iran may soon follow. The major nuclear powers have only themselves toblame when they insist that nuclear weapons are vital to their securitybut that other nations should forego them.
But let us suppose the world was free of nuclear weapons; what happens,then, if someone cheats? Even if an appropriate enforcement authorityproved unable to dominate an outlaw entity; even if the conventionalmilitary forces of nations threatened by such an outlaw came tostalemate as well; the act of moving to build a clandestine nucleararsenal would be an act of war. And since knowledge of how to releasenuclear energy will always be with us, such an act of war could alwaysbe countered - deterred - by reverting to nuclear weapons production.
So it comes down to a question of delivery time. Think of it this way:early in the nuclear arms race, when the only delivery system availablewas intercontinental bombers, the time from base to target was perhaps20 hours. Today, delivery time by Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile is30 minutes, by forward-positioned nuclear submarine perhaps 15 minutes,meaning national leaders have at best 10 minutes during which to assessintelligence about a possible attack and decide to respond.
In a world without nuclear weapons, delivery time from factory to targetwould be perhaps three months, greatly extending the grace periodavailable to make a decision, to negotiate, to intervene.
This way of conceiving nuclear abolition - not as resolving the nucleardilemma (because it cannot be resolved short of ending humancivilisation) but rather as extending delivery times to give nonviolentmeans of resolution time to do their work - moves abolition from therealm of the utopian into the realm of the real. The many virtualnuclear powers already operate within such a regime.
Fifty-seven years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the knowledge that20th-century science extracted from the silence of the inanimate is partof our scientific and technological heritage. Which means that nucleardeterrence will continue to influence international relations andrestrain large-scale war even when there are no longer any actualnuclear weapons in the world.
Richard Rhodes received the Pulitzer prize for nonfiction for his bookThe Making of the Atomic Bomb. return to menu
2. U.S.-Russia: Officials Praise Nuclear Reductions Treaty For RequiringNo Cuts
Global Security Newswire
August 5, 2002
(for personal use only)
Though hailed by U.S. President George W. Bush and other senior U.S.officials for "substantially reducing" the U.S. and Russian "nucleararsenals," one of the most significant implications of the StrategicOffensive Reductions Treaty signed in May is that, contrary to suchpraise, it requires absolutely no nuclear weapons cuts, according toU.S. officials and independent experts.
During the past month of hearings preceding a Senate vote on the pact,also called the Moscow Treaty, proponents have lauded the agreement forrequiring that all except 1,700 to 2,200 "operationally deployedwarheads" to be removed from delivery platforms - bombers, missiles andsubmarines - by Dec. 31, 2012.
Both critics and proponents of the treaty, however, have said the treatyis even more important for what it does not do - require the destructionof any warheads or their delivery platforms.
Treaty supporters have championed the "flexibility" U.S. forces wouldretain to deal with unanticipated challenges of the future. Criticscharge it creates an illusion of arms control at best, while notimproving Russian arsenal security, not restricting or regulatingstrategic holdings, and possibly encouraging Russian strategic forces toremain on hair-trigger alert.
Senior Pentagon officials, meanwhile, have acknowledged that U.S.avoidance of platform cuts under the new treaty is made possible by aunique interpretation U.S. officials place on key language in theatypically short and unspecific treaty text.
Flexibility, Preserved Capabilities Praised
While the previous strategic arms reduction treaties, START I and II,also did not require warheads to be destroyed, the Moscow Treaty hasparted from its predecessors by not requiring destruction of anydelivery platforms either. Treaty proponent Senator John Warner (R-Va.)praised this treaty feature at a July 25 hearing, noting that the UnitedStates and Russia would be free to deploy their warheads in a manner"consistent with each nation's security requirements and to adapt tochanges in the international security environment."
The treaty "does not define warhead counting rules, require destructionof strategic nuclear delivery vehicles or launchers, or include limitsor sublimits on strategic nuclear delivery vehicles or launchers," hesaid.
The focus of the treaty on downloading warheads from their platforms,rather than on platform destruction, lets each country retain and fieldall of its current nuclear weapons holdings up until the deadline day,and to begin returning them to the field the day after, officials havesaid.
"The treaty is certainly somewhat unusual. Its central obligation isthat both nations will reduce their operationally deployed strategicnuclear warheads to a level between 1,700 and 2,200 some 10 years fromnow, apparently just for one day at that moment, when the treaty thenexpires," said Senate Armed Forces Committee Chairman Carl Levin(D-Mich.) at a July 9 hearing.
It furthermore enables the United States to reassign nuclear-capablestrategic delivery platforms such as the B-2 and B-52 bombers andTrident submarines to conventional missions, without having them countedtoward treaty limits, officials have said.
"As you know, under the Moscow Treaty the United States has the optionof storing those warheads not operationally deployed," said head of U.S.Strategic Command Adm. James Ellis in prepared testimony last Thursday."From a military perspective, it is essential that we retain thecapability to respond to emerging threats or weapon safety andreliability issues."
The treaty "allows me the flexibility to take the dual-use platforms,these strategic platforms that have such important tacticalapplications, and transform them in support of the nation's securityneeds in a broader way," Ellis said.
The retention of warheads and delivery systems, however, has provokedconcern from arms control-minded legislators and independent experts.
"My concern is not that we're going to 1,700 or 2,200, but [that] we'vemaintained the capacity to go back to 5,700 to 6,200, and what the restof the world reads from that and what everyone else thinks theirrequirements are," said Senate Foreign Relations Committee ChairmanJoseph Biden (D-Del.) at a July 9 hearing.
The theory supporting previous strategic arms control treaties, Bidensaid, "was if you took an American missile out of a silo, took thewarhead off of it and crushed the canisters, you could not rapidlyreload that on to anything that was out there."
"Here, we have a situation where you take the warhead off, the launcherstays in place . and you have the launcher here and you have the warheadhere. And the theory is, at least, you could rapidly marry them up againand use them," Biden said.
Christopher Paine, a senior analyst at the Natural Resources DefenseCouncil, in July 23 testimony argued the treaty's structure encouragesno reduction to the Russian strategic arsenal.
"It's a stunningly bad tradeoff," he said. "The Moscow Treaty imposesno limitation whatsoever on the current or future size of U.S. andRussian nuclear forces and warhead stockpiles."
Requiring no cuts, it "does nothing to move Russia or the United Statesdown the road toward deep verified nuclear force reductions, verifiedwarhead elimination, and eventual nuclear disarmament," said Paine.
Many treaty supporters, including Biden, have said while the treatyaccomplishes little, it is nevertheless worthwhile because it takesU.S.-Russian relations a step in the right direction.
Critics, including Biden, on the other hand, have pointed to oneparticularly negative consequence - Russian officials have indicatedRussia may choose to retain its existing multiple-warhead ICBMs ormodify single-warhead systems to carry multiple warheads, in an effortto counteract U.S. capabilities.
Bush administration officials have said they are no longer concernedabout Russian multiple warhead nuclear weapons, which were historicallyconsidered to be Russia's most destabilizing strategic technologythroughout the Cold War because they tend to be kept closest tohair-trigger alert.
The Bush administration intends to meet treaty requirements by keepingwarheads separate from their strategic bombers, Myers said July 25.
"We will count as operationally deployed those weapons that are kept onthe base with the bombers in the weapon storage areas, becausepresumably you can upload those in a matter of, let's say hours," hesaid.
ICBM warheads will also be separated, but it could take longer to reloadthem, he said.
"Those weapons will be stored in the weapons storage area at the base,"Myers said, noting that the moving a warhead from storage facility to anICBM silo could take as long as a six-hour drive.
Four Trident submarines, as noted above, will be reconfigured fornonstrategic nuclear missions. Warheads assigned to bombers and missilesubmarines in overhaul also will not be counted in Moscow Treaty totalsas they are by START.
Under START counting rules, reductions are made only by eliminating thedelivery vehicles - by destroying submarine launch tubes, cutting upbombers and blowing up missile silos.
Differing Interpretations of the Treaty
With their country unable to afford to operate a large strategic force,Russian negotiators had sought more stringent START-like counting ofreductions throughout the negotiations, and insisting the words"operationally deployed" not be included in the treaty text.
"The Americans seem to have said that the missiles and the warheads mustnot be destroyed, they must be mothballed and be capable of swiftredeployment on the carriers and be rapidly returned to the battle-readyforces," said First Deputy Chief of the Armed Forces General Staff YuriBaluyevsky in a May 24 interview with reporters.
"You understand that we could not accept such conditions and we did notaccept them. And today in the treaty neither directly nor between thelines on the pages of the test you will not see the words 'operationallydeployed warheads,'" he said.
Abandonment of START-counting rules for the Moscow treaty was madepossible, the U.S. officials said, because of a special interpretationthe United States applies to the Moscow Treaty.
The treaty text calls for reducing and limiting "strategic nuclearwarheads" and Bush administration officials have repeatedly said theybelieve the treaty will require a reduction of the U.S. "strategicarsenal" down to the 1,700 to 2,200-threshold range.
As Myers indicated in his July 25 testimony, however, the Bushadministration devised a special definition to apply specifically to thenew treaty, the words "strategic arsenal" would encompass onlyoperationally deployed warheads.
While the START methodology "counts warheads even if there is not awarhead deployed in the delivery platform," Myers said, "Under theMoscow Treaty,the U.S. will only count operationally deployed warheads."
A reduction through the Moscow Treaty would not necessarily count as aSTART reduction, he said.
"The U.S. may remove a warhead to comply with the Moscow Treaty but anotional warhead may still be counted under the START Treaty as wefulfill our obligations under both treaties," Myers said.
This definition is key for retaining offloaded strategic capabilities,said Ellis said in his testimony.
"This construct allows the United States to retain, reduce, orrestructure critical dual-use weapons delivery platforms - those thatalso can deploy conventional weapons - so as to meet a broader range ofmilitary requirements," he said.
Most Capabilities Retained
In pursuing the Moscow Treaty, Bush administration officials have saidthey will not pursue future agreements to reduce the numbers of nuclearweapons as counted through START rules.
START II, which was signed but remains unratified by the United States,would have cut strategic nuclear warheads down to 3,000 to 3,500 fromthe START I ceiling of 6,000 by cutting delivery platforms. START IIInegotiations, which stalled during the Clinton administration, wereaimed at requiring further cuts to 2,000 to 2,500 warheads and wereexploring ways to require the destruction of both warheads and deliveryplatforms.
Though not required to by the Moscow Treaty, U.S. officials have saidthey are planning cuts. They plan to complete Clinton administrationinitiatives to eliminate 50 Peacekeeper ICBMs carrying 500 warheadstotal, deploy only one warhead on each of 500 Minuteman III missiles,and convert four of 18 Trident strategic submarines, a total of 768warheads, to perform conventional operations.
No further platform cuts are planned, however. Rather, the Pentagonplans to retain the remaining 14 Trident submarines, 500 Minuteman IIIICBMs, and 76 B-52s and 21 B-2s, all of them capable of deliveringstrategic nuclear weapons, according to excerpts of the administration'sNuclear Posture Review leaked this year.
A rough calculation shows that altogether, those systems could deliver atotal of about 5,000 warheads according to START counting rules, downfrom the 6,000 allowed by START I.
Some of the platforms will be deployed with strategic warheads and somewill be involved in conventional missions, according to a Pentagonofficial in a June briefing. Additional delivery vehicles will be sentinto storage, and some bombers and submarines will be put into overhaul.
"The thought was that retaining the existing platforms, and taking thereductions, essentially by downloading warheads, gave us enormousflexibility in terms of responding to changes in the securityenvironment," said the Pentagon official.
"But also, it was based on a recognition that at least today, a portionof that force, the bomber force, is also heavily involved or engaged inconventional capabilities," said the official.
An Energy Department official, meanwhile, testified Thursday thedepartment was expecting to dismantle no warheads under the treaty untilat least until 2014. U.S. officials otherwise have been contradictory onthe fate of downloaded warheads.
Russian Forces Likely Outmatched
As the United States is expected to retain and improve its strategicnuclear capabilities, Russian strategic forces are expected to dwindleto below 2,000 weapons by 2015 for lack of resources, according to thelatest published U.S. intelligence estimate.
Russia has few options to match U.S. strategic capabilities other thanto leave aging ICBMs "rotting in their holes" a few years longer, andadding additional warheads to other missiles, the U.S. analyst said.
Citing an improving U.S.-Russian relationship, U.S. officials have saidprojected levels of U.S. strategic forces are no longer structured tocounter Russian or any other specific country's forces.
Echoing the Nuclear Posture Review, however, Rumsfeld at the July 17hearing suggested the 1,700 to 2,200 operationally deployed rangereflects Russian capabilities, as well as Chinese - "they are increasingtheir defense budget and they are increasing their nuclear capabilities,purposefully" - and those of "other countries."
Retaining remaining warhead and delivery platform capabilities, Rumsfeldand other U.S. officials have said, will make available spares toreplace faulty warheads and will discourage other countries from"sprinting" to numerical parity.
They also provide the military flexibility to rearm to respond to aradical change in the international strategic environment such as theemergence of an unforeseen peer competitor on the scale of the SovietUnion, the officials have said.
Arguments Against Deep Cuts
The administration's desire to avoid further platform reductions alsocan be explained as a product of institutional resistance from withinthe Pentagon, bolstered by strategic rationales.
There was a concern with some in the Pentagon, some experts said, that arequirement to eliminate platforms could have possibly eliminated, or atleast seriously undercut, one leg of the Pentagon's nuclear "triad" oflong-range bombers, ICBMs and submarine-launched ballistic missiles.
"You can't get down to 2,500 using the START rules unless you cut uplots of bombers, and the Air Force did not want to cut up lots ofbombers, because it uses them for conventional missions," said a U.S.government arms control analyst.
Eliminating additional strategic submarines would have been an"operational nightmare," said the analyst, because if the Navy operatedless than 10 or 12 there would not be enough submarines to justify twoports, on the Atlantic and the Pacific. That would limit globalcoverage and make it easier for an enemy to locate and pick off thesubmarines, the analyst said.
Land-based missiles, meanwhile, also have special advantages, accordingto the Strategic Command: on continuous alert, they can be quicklytargeted and launched. Eliminating them would not greatly reduce theoverall strategic numbers, but could make the Strategic Command a lessattractive career for senior Air Force officers, the analyst said.
"There is a constituency there and you're not going to do that," theanalyst said. "So it's both nuclear arguments and conventional politicsthat prevent you from cutting up any one particular leg of your triad."
Eliminating one leg of the triad has always been "a bridge too far,"said Rose Gottemoeller, a former deputy undersecretary of defense fornonproliferation during the Clinton Administration, now with theCarnegie Endowment for International Peace.
"There's been huge resistance over the years from [the StrategicCommand], you know the nuclear guys, to moving beyond that, movingbeyond the 2,000 barrier, because that's where in theory we would haveto get rid of one leg of the triad."
Gottemoeller, however, said other areas of the military leadership haveseemed less resistant to additional platform cuts.
"It's my understanding that there is some worry about this among some ofthe uniform ranks because of the drain that this will bring about ondefense budgets, to sustain platforms over time," she said.
The administration's decision to avoid additional platform cuts, shesaid, was driven by a "mania among a rather limited group of peoplewithin the [defense secretary's office] who came in with thisadministration and have this kind of maniacal emphasis on flexibility."
At the July 9 hearing, Secretary of State Colin Powell suggested thechosen force levels were driven purely by strategic rationale, arguingcost considerations would have discouraged keeping more weapons thanneeded.
"As chairman and the succeeding chairmen that followed me, we have everyincentive to reduce the number. These are expensive. They take awayfrom soldier pay ... They take away from lots of things. There is noincentive to keep more than you believe you need for the security of thenation," Powell said. return to menu
3. When Energy Comes From Russia, It's Also Power
Patrick E. Tyler
New York Times
August 4, 2002
(for personal use only)
Behind the decision facing President Bush on whether to make war on Iraqis a set of calculations that ought to be called the realpolitik of oil- and Russia is at the center.
Since Sept. 11, oil experts and politicians, including PresidentVladimir V. Putin, have been touting Russia and its burgeoning energysector as the strategic antidote to the threat of another oil shock. Thebig fears are of war in the Middle East or a move orchestrated againstWestern interests by Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf heavyweights inOPEC, as unlikely as that has seemed for a long time. Many oil traderssay there is a $3 to $5 premium on Middle Eastern oil already, becauseof war jitters.
But Russia has been engaged in a strategic migration to the West sinceSept. 11 that buttresses the view of Russia as a critical partner to theWest. And this is changing the psychology of both the marketplace andgeopolitics.
Neither Mr. Bush nor Mr. Putin would be impolite enough to say he hasbeen drawing up an insurance policy against allies - the stableoil-producing kingdoms and sheikdoms that have abandoned the notion thatoil is a weapon in global politics.
But even if loyalty and alliance hold between Washington and its PersianGulf friends, who can say what the effect would be if Saddam Husseinfired Scud missiles loaded with anthrax, mustard gas or some ghastlyradiological substance onto the main Saudi oil loading terminal at RasTanura, causing panic and shutdown?
And since Sept. 11, there has been an additional, intangible elementcorroding Saudi-American relations - something between uncertainty andmistrust over the heavy Saudi representation among Osama bin Laden'smartyrs and the Saudi tolerance for the culture of jihad. The Saudis,for their part, resent the loss of American initiative to secure aPalestinian homeland, so evident under the first President Bush andduring most of the Clinton years. Today, America and Saudi Arabia drinktea laced with the hemlock of unstated recriminations. "Thepsychological factor is there," an adviser to the royal family conceded.
In the world of realpolitik, public reassurances about stable oilsupplies count only up to a point. Capabilities matter, just as theywill in any war with Iraq, where President Bush will have to weigh therisks of going it alone, or nearly so.
Last fall, President Bush told his energy secretary, Spencer Abraham, toadd 108 million barrels of oil to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Butthat offers the American market just one layer of shock absorption.
"The first principle of energy security is diversification," said DanielYergin, the oil markets analyst and historian, and by that measureRussia suddenly figures in international energy markets. The post-Sovietsag in gross oil production is steadily being reversed; indeed, Russiaovertook Saudi Arabia this spring by pumping 7.28 million barrels a dayin March. In annual figures, Russian oil exports, which bottomed at 3.16million barrels a day in 1994, are expected to reach 5 million a daythis year or next.
"The Russian oil industry is growing at an amazing rate, and it isbringing in Western talent, technology and investment, but most of allit needs markets," said Sarah C. Carey, a Washington lawyer who is onthe board of Russia's second-largest oil giant, Yukos, which wants tosupply American refineries. By playing on the West's fear of disruption,Russia has found greater tolerance for its bully boy tactics in the oilmarkets since Sept. 11; the only sound from the Saudis has been thegnashing of teeth.
But here is the rub of the debate: Russia cannot supplant Saudi Arabiaas the world's guarantor of stable oil supplies in a clutch. "They areat full production," the adviser to the Saudi royal family said,referring to Russia. "Everybody is at full production except SaudiArabia, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi and Venezuela." And the lion's share of spareproduction remains a Saudi franchise.
"The Russians know that, everybody knows that, and what we say is, justdon't push us into a corner," he said, referring to fear that Russiamight try to seize Saudi markets with overzealous production. Theimplied threat is that Saudi Arabia would flood the market to driveprices down, as it has before. Since Saudi oil is the cheapest toproduce (about $2 a barrel, compared with $12 to $15 a barrel for newproduction oil), the House of Saud can best ride out low prices. "Wehave the elasticity to go down and still make money," the official said.
But Saudi Arabia's pre-eminence almost doesn't matter. Russia's surgingoil industry and the growing exports from it and from the Caspian Searegion will add to the pool of non-OPEC production over the next decade.This, as Mr. Yergin points out, will make the global market moreresistant to shock, particularly with Russia's new attitude toward theWest in mind.
"A lot of things have come together now," Mr. Yergin said, not leastthat under Mr. Putin, Russia is firmly back on a pragmatic reform path.And while Saudi Arabia raised its oil output after Sept. 11 to insurecalm markets, Russia has been changing policy in a larger way. It ismerging Russian interests with European and Western security interestsin the battle against terrorism, a strategic realignment that isdeflating its old fears of NATO expansion and Western encirclement.Russian oil and gas giants are cleaning up their act, making them saferfor Western investment, Mr. Yergin says.
And the latter-day version of the Great Game in Central Asia that sorecently pitted Russia against Western encroachment suddenly looks morelike a joint venture of shared interests. Russian oil companies arejoining major Western ones in bringing Central Asia on line as a majoroil producer. Russia wants to insure that a healthy portion of any newpipelines cross its land, but that is now less important because bothRussia and the West are beginning to see the virtue of variety andcollaboration in a world where demand will only go up with the growth ofnew economies.
In Mr. Putin, Russia's new oil barons have a leader willing to presstheir interests. "Putin is a master of making more out of what heactually has," said James Richard, a co-author of an essay this springin the journal Foreign Affairs that asserted that "the contest forenergy dominance between the world's two largest oil exporters, SaudiArabia and Russia," will have "fundamental consequences for the world'seconomy."
Those consequences don't have to hurt the competitors, other analystspoint out. If war in Iraq disrupts world markets, Russia and SaudiArabia will both mobilize their production to fill in - even thoughRussia doesn't have Saudi Arabia's vast reserves or the built-in sparecapacity.
Still, Russia wants new markets and will likely use its elbows to getthem, so some testing of its strength against the Persian Gulf giantsmay be inevitable.
One advantage for Russia is that what it lacks in oil reserves it makesup for in natural gas; it already provides a quarter of Europe's gas. Inoil, Russia doesn't like the Saudi argument that it should wait its turnand take new market share from the rising demand for oil coming out ofAsia. That argument might have more success if the pragmatic Mr. Putinwere in full control of Russia's oil giants and their aggressivemarketing strategies. On most days, instead, he happily rides the tigerof Russian oil expansion, hoping among other things that growth inenergy will spur the rest of the economy.
The Sept. 11 attacks brought Russia into the Western camp with a seat,though not membership, in NATO for debates on Western security. So Mr.Putin's stature for playing Russia's version of realpolitik has onlybeen enhanced. The question is, How will he play it? The answer almostcertainly is that he will play for national interest, whatever is bestto rebuild Russia's economy and a strong Russian state anchored in bothEurope and Asia.
This strategic partnership is based on mutual interest, the two-waystreet of any relationship. And just as the United States and Europewelcome the freedom of action they get from Russia's more muscularpresence in the oil market, Mr. Putin welcomes new opportunities forRussia, above all that Russian interests should be taken into account onthe big issues of war and commerce.
So it is more than interesting that Mr. Putin has positioned himselfbetween America and each of the states Mr. Bush counts as the "axis ofevil." He has parlayed with North Korea's Kim Jong-il to press theWestern agenda of arms control, while selling to both Koreas the conceptof a common market that would connect them with Europe via Russia'srails.
In Iran, he has pursued the Russian power industry's interests,negotiating deals to sell nuclear power stations after Russian engineerscomplete their long delayed unit at Bushehr. As a partner with the West,he gets the right to argue Russian commercial interests in Iran, even asthe Bush administration denounces Iran's support for terrorism and itsquest for nuclear weapons.
And in the confrontation with Iraq, Mr. Putin has adopted the Americanposition that Saddam Hussein must open his borders to United Nationsinspectors or face the consequences. Still, he has kept the lines opento Baghdad to hold onto multibillion-dollar contracts to develop newIraqi oil fields. And Russia, whose equipment built Iraq's army, islikely to supply Saddam's successor, perhaps in competition with theWest.
In other words, the concept of a resurgent Russian state providingenergy security for the West is beginning to work to Russia's benefit,and the gains for Russia are palpable. In part because of PresidentPutin's relationship with President Bush, the concept seems lessthreatening than most forecasts for Russia did a few years ago, even ifRussia's new vibrance does not quite radiate to the grumpy shores of thePersian Gulf. return to menu
1. Russia To Load Fuel In Iran Nuclear Plant In December 2003
August 6, 2002
(for personal use only)
Russian experts are planning to load fuel in the first unit of Iran'sBushehr nuclear power plant, which is under construction with Russia'shelp, in December 2003, Russian Deputy Atomic Energy Minister AndreiMalyshev said Monday.
Malyshev said Russia had always regarded the Bushehr plant, which is dueto start operation in June 2004, as a purely civilian facility.
Russia signed an agreement of 800 million U.S. dollars with Iran in 1995on building a nuclear plant at Bushehr on the Gulf coast.
This plan has infuriated Washington, which makes the Iran issue a sorepoint in bilateral relation. Moscow defends its cooperation with Iran byreiterating that its aid only serves civilian purpose.
Malyshev said the building of the first unit of the Bushehr plant hadpassed several checks, including that by the International Atomic EnergyAgency (IAEA), and no violations of international agreements have beenrevealed.
As for the possible construction of a second unit at the Bushehr plant,Malyshev said no such project has been agreed on so far. If such anagreement was reached, the reactor would likely be similar to the firstunit, he added.
Despite the U.S. opposition, Russia in last month approved a long-termprogram to boost cooperation with Iran and build several nuclearreactors in the country.
Under the 10-year program, Russia will help Iran construct up to sixreactors, expand conventional power station and develop oil and gasdeposits. return to menu
2. Minatom Cools On Heated Iranian Reactor Plan
August 5, 2002
(for personal use only)
After receiving the most pointed lambasting from US officials yet forcooperation with Iran, Russia's Nuclear Ministry, or Minatom, appears tohave taken half a step backward from its plans to expand nuclearactivities with the Middle Eastern country.
On Friday, Nuclear Minister Alexander Rumyantsev was to hold a jointpress conference with US Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, who onThursday had publicly dressed down Russia's newly announced plans tobuild five more nuclear reactors in Iran. The press conference wasabruptly cancelled.
Abraham was in Moscow with US Undersecretary of State John Bolton untilSunday on a working visit.
Speaking Thursday, Abraham became the highest ranking US official topublicly tie Russia's assistance in building a nuclear power plant inthe Persian Gulf city of Bushehr to a veiled nuclear weapons programme,and implied that Russia's expanded plans were an extension of thatprogramme.
"[Iran is] aggressively pursuing nuclear weapons as well as weapons ofmass destruction," said Abraham in his Thursday public comments. "Weconsistently urge Russia to cease all nuclear cooperation with Iran,including its assistance to the reactor in Bushehr," he said.
In lieu of the cancelled Rumyantsev-Abraham press conference, theMinatom press office released later in the day a terse statement sayingRussia's programme of cooperation with Iran was not engraved in stone.
The statement said that the 10-year, $10-billion plan on expandednuclear and economic cooperation in Iran - which was approved by PrimeMinister Mikhail Kasyanov on June 24 and released two days later,literally hours before Abraham's arrival in Moscow - is "merely a listof existing technical possibilities."
"Their implementation will depend on many factors, including political[factors]," the statement continued.
In response to the US accusations that Russia's ties with Iran werehelping advance its nuclear weapons programme, the ministry reaffirmedthat the nuclear cooperation with Iran was limited to building thereactor in Bushehr.
One US official familiar with the talks described the new Russianstatement as "big progress."
"We're very pleased," the official said. "That's a change from what theywere saying early in the week," after the plan to build five morereactors in Iran was announced.
Russian officials insist that the Bushehr reactors are for civilianenergy use only and will not be used to develop fuel for nuclearweapons. They point out that they will be light-water reactors, with thesame technology the United States is using in North Korea in an effortto rein in that country's nuclear programme.
But the United States believes that Iran's purpose in acquiring thereactors isn't energy but the expertise and equipment it would gainalong the way. As Abraham pointed out in his Thursday remarks, "[theUnited States has] long been concerned that Iran's only interest innuclear civil power, given its vast domestic energy resources, is tosupport its nuclear weapons programme."
There are also unresolved issues of what will happen to the spentnuclear fuel produced at the Bushehr reactor - which, if reprocessed,would yield plutonium. Despite Minister Rumyantsev's repeated assurancesthat the fuel would be repatriated to Russia, Minatom insiders have saidthat progress to forge that agreement with Iran has been slow.
Russian nuclear experts suggested that the release of the new plan lastweek was a negotiating tactic.
"There is a strong impression that is shared by many Russian expertsthat the United States and Russia have already reached a mutuallyacceptable agreement on Iran - everything is in the bag already," AntonKhlopkov, a nuclear expert with the PIR Centre, a Moscow think tank,told Bellona Web Friday. "Both sides seem to have an understanding thatRussia will supply light water reactors to Iran, but nothing besidessuch reactors."
But Radzhab Safarov, director of Russia's Iranian Studies Centre, saidthat to convince Moscow to drop its programmes in Iran, the UnitedStates will have to put its money where its mouth is.
"Iran is a solvent country that is quite capable of paying," Safarovtold Bellona Web. "The West, however, confines its efforts to wordsalone: Do not do any business with Iran because it will affect globalsecurity. These are good words, but they are just words, nothing else.It is very unlikely that Russia will be convinced to change itspriorities only with the help of words."
For Russia, more hangs in the balance, namely the $20 billion in foreignaid that G8 nations have pledged to give Russia to bolster the securityof its dilapidated nuclear infrastructure. As one US official, speakingwith Bellona Web on the condition of anonymity, put it: "It would be ashame if the funding dried up over this Iran problem." return to menu
3. Tehran Pleased With U.S. Failure To Hinder Its Nuke Pursuits
RFE/RL Iran Report
August 5, 2002
(for personal use only)
White house spokesman Ari Fleischer reacted to Russia's announcementthat it intends to build three more nuclear reactors at Bushehr andanother nuclear facility with two 1,000 MW power units at Ahvaz(Interfax, 26 July) by saying on 30 July that the U.S. is continuing towork with Moscow on preventing nuclear proliferation. Early Augustcommentary from Tehran indicates some pleasure that this "work" does notseem to be yielding results.
Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham and Undersecretary of State for ArmsControl John Bolton arrived in Moscow on 30 July, and on 31 July theymet with Atomic Energy Minister Aleksandr Rumyantsev to discuss Americanconcerns. Abraham's comments during a 1 August press conferencesuggested that the two sides were not seeing eye-to-eye on the danger ofIranian nuclear activities. "No one should be under any impression thatwe treat this as anything except of the utmost concern and thoseconcerns have been frankly directed during our meetings here. We are inthe middle of sensitive discussions on this matter," he said accordingto "The Times" 2 August from London. Abraham also said that thesematters have been reviewed at "the highestlevels."
Back in Washington on 31 July, deputy Assistant Defense SecretaryMarshall Billingslea expressed the belief that the Bushehr project is "apretext for the creation of an infrastructure that is designed to helpTehran acquire atomic weapons." Billingslea described for a Senatesubcommittee American doubts about Iran's purported need for a nuclearfacility, according to a VOA report: "The truth of the matter is thatIran is a major natural-gas-producing country, but they are flaring orventing six times more natural gas than any other major gas-producingnation. The energy equivalent of the gas they are flaring or venting offis three times what they are going to get out of that one reactor atBushehr. So they could for a fraction of the Bushehr plant simplycapture three times as much energy if they wanted to. So there isclearly something else going on here."
Nearly two years have passed since another U.S. government officialquestioned, in similar terms, Iran's nuclear requirements. AssistantSecretary of State for Nonproliferation Robert J. Einhorn testifiedbefore the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on 5 October 2000: "Amongthe persistent indicators that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weaponsdevelopment program is the fact that Iran is attempting to obtaincapabilities to produce both highly enriched uranium and plutonium --the critical materials for a nuclear weapon. Neither of thesecapabilities is necessary to meet Iran's declared desire to have a civilnuclear power program to generate electricity, which is itselfsuspicious in light of Iran's abundant oil resources."
Iranian state radio commentaries indicated skepticism about theAmericans' visit to Moscow and pleasure about the final result. On 31July the commentary said that "America's main aim is to disrupt therelations between Iran and Russia," and concern about nuclear activitiesis "only a pretext for American interference in Iran and Russia'sforeign affairs." If the U.S. really is concerned about nuclearproliferation, according to the radio commentary, it should firstconfront Israel and its "vast nuclear arsenal."
Regarding Moscow's decision to continue its nuclear cooperation withTehran, Iranian state radio commented on 1 August, "Russia is determinedto continue its independent foreign policy." The program added thatRussia is certain about the peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclearprogram because of reassurances from International Atomic Energy Agencyinspectors. Moreover, Russia benefits from diplomatic, economic,commercial, and technical cooperation with Iran. On 2 August Tehranradio said that Abraham and Bolton left Russia "empty-handed." And itconcluded by saying that Russia-Iran ties are likely to expand in thenext decade, and the U.S. will not be able to undermine a relationshipfounded on "mutual interests and strategic policies."
Moscow on 2 August appeared to back away slightly from its commitment toIran's nuclear ambitions. A statement from the Russian Atomic EnergyMinistry said, according to "The New York Times" on 3 August: "The draftof the long-term program for the development of trade, economic,industrial, and technological cooperation between Russia and Iranthrough 2012 only mentions the existing technical possibilities. Theirimplementation depends on many factors, including political factors." Ananonymous "senior administration official" explained in "The WashingtonPost" of 3 August that the Russians are signaling that they will not goahead with the new reactors. U.S. officials also said that the Russiansthey met "expressed surprise" over the agreement with Iran, and"everyone from Rumyantsev to top economic, industrial, and ForeignMinistry officials insisted they knew nothing about it before it wasreleased." return to menu
4. Russia Only Helps Iran Build Reactors In Bushehr, No Other Nuclear Plans
August 5, 2002
(for personal use only)
Russia has no nuclear cooperation with Iran except for the Bushehr plantconstruction, Russian Atomic Energy Minister Alexander Rumyantsev wasquoted as saying at a recent series of meetings with US Secretary ofEnergy Spencer Abraham in Moscow. According to Nikolay Shingaryov, theminister also said that a draft of the Russian-Iranian long-termcooperation program in trade, economy, industry and technical scienceuntil 2012 provided "only for already existing technical abilities whoseimplementation depended on a lot of factors including economic ones."Shingaryov stressed that the Russian and US officials had reached anagreement about the next meeting and scheduled it for September at theupcoming session of the General conference of the International AtomicEnergy Agency.
At the end of July, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov signed theresolution 'On Concluding a Long-term Program for the Development ofTrade, Economic, Industrial, Scientific and Technical Cooperationbetween the Russian Federation and the Islamic Republic of Iran for aPeriod until 2012'. This resolution envisages cooperation in powerengineering projects such as the construction of Bushehr-1 and Bushehr-2nuclear reactors. return to menu
D. Nuclear Terrorism
1. Plucked Out Of Thin Air
Olga Shevel and Yelena Ayrapetova
July 28, 2002
(for personal use only)
Radioactive metals, including plutonium, fell into the hands of Chechenrebels. The leak occurred at the Rostov nuclear power station (AES) inthe town of Volgodonsk. So says London's The Guardian citing officialsin the U.S. administration
Although the paper does not disclose the details of the leak, anofficial source that requested anonymity said a large amount ofplutonium as well as other radioactive metals, including cesium,strontium, and low-enriched uranium had been stolen. Such materials canbe used to make a crude nuclear bomb capable of causing great damage tothe life and limb of many, many people. U.S. sources believe thatChechen terrorists, closely involved with rogue nations, could well havetransferred the dangerous material to their allies.
Russian officials informed of the incident the International AtomicEnergy Agency, which in turn informed the U.S. administration, althoughthe RF Atomic Energy Ministry and the Rostov AES refused to confirm thetheft.
According to some estimates, Russia has 400 tonnes of enrichedplutonium. Last month the G-8 vowed to provide Russia with $20 billionto destroy obsolete weapons stockpiles. The incident is not withoutprecedent: Such things happen in Russia all the time, the source says.
There have been repeated reports of radioactive thefts by Chechenrebels. Matthew Bunn, a senior research associate with the HarvardUniversity Project on Managing the Atom, said there was nothing newabout the fact that nuclear fuel was stolen from a nuclear power plant.Similar things also occurred in the Soviet Union. In 1996, Chechenrebels planted a substantial amount of cesium-137, packed withconventional explosive, in Moscow's Izmailovsky Park. Luckily, the bombdid not go off at the time.
AES Uses Uranium
Just how much fact, and how much fiction, is there in The Guardianreport about the theft of nuclear material from the Rostov AES? This isanybody's guess. Considering that practically anything goes in Russia,stealing plutonium and cesium is not a big deal. But it would be worthtaking a closer look at the report.
Yelena Kovaleva, of the Rostov AES information and analysis center,said: "Nothing is missing at the station and nothing has been stolen.You can take this as the station's official comment. We do not know howthe report came about. A couple of days ago we got a call from TheGuardian, asking about the plutonium theft at the Rostov AES. The factis, however, that there is no plutonium at the station. It usesuranium-238 enriched with uranium-235. Just imagine what would havehappened had the incident really come to pass. The local media wouldnever have let such information go unnoticed. A minor incident is enoughto create a stir, never mind theft of nuclear fuel."
Indeed, it is difficult to imagine that something could be stolen fromthe station at all. Even given Russian trademark carelessness, amultitier security system is well in place. Level 1 includes asurveillance system, guards, and detectors. It is impossible tocircumvent them. All personnel entering the station, not just outsiders,are screened.
Next, there are a number of control posts in the administrativebuilding, the reactor unit, and on the station premises, which areinterconnected and equipped with various detection and monitoringdevices.
Supposing radioactive material was taken out not through the mainentrance but in some other way. Even this would have been difficult todo, given a solid perimeter fence and the absence of spur roads. Theterrorists could hardly have thrown the material over the fence in fullview. The material itself can only be found in a few places: the reactorunit (which is hermetically sealed), a spent-fuel storage facility or aplace where fuel is stored temporarily before loading (this does nothappen very often, as nuclear material is a long-lasting fuel). Theseareas are in fact the most closely guarded of all.
An Armed Raid?
Supposing the terrorists bribed an AES employee who had access toradioactive material and did not arouse suspicion. Even this isunviable: Only fuel that awaits loading can actually be handled while itis all but impossible to take it out: Uranium tablets are not light, andthey are numbered. Furthermore, outside the station the protectionservice periodically carries out spontaneous checks.
So theoretically there are three ways: Stealing material at some stageof fuel transportation, bribing numerous members of the staff, includingguards and station managers, and the most radical one - an armed raid onthe station.
Of these, the last appears to be the most realistic. But fortunately, itis unfeasible in practice. Especially after the bombing of a residentialbuilding in Volgodonsk in the fall of 1999, which put everybody onheightened alert. return to menu
1. Secretary Abraham Meets With Russian Oil Producers To Promote StrongerCooperation, Announces U.S. Funding For Study Of Siberian Oil And GasPotential
United States Department of Energy
August 1, 2002
Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham met today in Moscow with Russia'slargest oil companies and Russian Energy Minister Igor Yusufov topromote stronger cooperation on oil issues and discuss the upcomingcommercial oil and gas summit to be held in Houston in October.
Secretary Abraham also announced the United States will fund an analysisof Eastern Siberian offshore oil and gas potential to determine which ofthe Russian Arctic offshore basins offers the greatest potential fordevelopment of oil and gas resources. The analysis is part of the U.S.Geological Survey's (USGS) Arctic Resource Assessment, an ongoing study.
"We want to enhance the bilateral energy cooperation between our twonations because we recognize the potential contribution of Russian andCaspian oil reserves to the stability of the global energy market,"Secretary Abraham said.
"President Bush's National Energy Policy calls for increasedinternational cooperation to improve our energy security through thedevelopment of energy resources throughout the world," Abraham said."The Eastern Siberian offshore oil and gas regions offer some of theleast studied and potentially most significant geologic basins in theworld. By assisting Russia in exploring their energy resources, weimprove global energy supplies and enhance our trade alliances as well."
The Eastern Siberian study will assess four unexplored Russian geologicbasins and lay the ground work to identify which of the basins offer thegreatest opportunity for development. The Energy Department'scontribution to the USGS study will accelerate the in-depth analysis ofthe offshore oil and natural gas resources, which will be coordinatedwith government, industry and academia.
USGS scientists Gregory Ulmishek and Donald Gautier will lead theanalysis and head the negotiations between the USGS and partners for theproject. Dr. Ulmishek is the regional coordinator for the former SovietUnion region of the World Petroleum Assessment and was recently electedas a member of the Russian National Academy of Natural Resources. Dr.Gautier is the regional coordinator for the Europe Region and is workingwith European colleagues in this Arctic assessment.
Secretary Abraham is currently in Moscow on official trip to promote theNational Energy Policy, enhance relationships with internationalleaders, and improve international cooperation on energy and nuclearnonproliferation matters. He first stopped in Paris, where he met withthe International Energy Agency, the new French Minister of Energy, andthe French Atomic Energy Commission.
While in Russia, he also received briefings from a working groupchartered by Presidents Bush and Putin to develop collaborative researchto reduce stocks of weapons-grade plutonium and enriched uranium. Upondeparting Moscow, Secretary Abraham will travel to London to tour theInternational Petroleum Exchange, and deliver a speech to the WorldNuclear Association. return to menu
F. Links of Interest
1. "Where Is Iran -- And U.S. Iran Policy -- Heading?"
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