President Bush signed a temporary waiver on Wednesday that permitsmillions of dollars to be released to programs aimed at reducing thethreat posed by Russian nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.
The waiver came as Russian scientists disclosed new information about asuspicious outbreak of smallpox in 1971 that some scientists say wascaused by a Soviet biological weapons test on an island in the Aral Sea.At a pox virus conference this week in Lyon, France, Russian scientistssaid they had destroyed some tissue samples and biological material thatthe United States had hoped might shed light on the outbreak, whichkilled two children and a young woman before it was contained.
The waiver, which President Bush signed in Crawford, Tex., enablesmillions of dollars to begin flowing under a program known asCooperative Threat Reduction. The program, created 11 years ago by SamNunn, then a Democratic senator from Georgia, and Senator Richard G.Lugar, Republican of Indiana, provides money for projects in the formerSoviet Union to prevent the theft of tens of thousands of weapons ofmass destruction left over from the cold war and then to destroy them.
The legislation authorizing these programs requires that theadministration certify that Russia is "committed" to complying with armscontrol treaties it has signed. Though President Bill Clinton had signedthe certification each year, the Bush administration decided that givenits concerns about whether Russian might still be developingunconventional weapons, it would not do so. Instead, it asked Congressto permit President Bush to waive the certification on grounds that theprograms were in America's national interest.
The waiver provides only temporary relief, because it expires on Oct. 1.But it enables new projects that have been delayed for the past 10months to proceed while Congress debates whether future waivers shouldbe required each year or be made just once and permanently. Officialssaid approximately $450 million in programs managed by the DefenseDepartment and programs with a budget of $70 million run by the StateDepartment have been affected by the impasse.
Senator Lugar and former Senator Nunn, in separate responses, welcomedthe president's action. But they both warned that without a permanentwaiver, the program would be in constant jeopardy.
Conservatives in Congress have resisted granting such authority, citingsuspicions that Russia may still be developing germ and chemical weaponsin military labs that remain closed to foreigners.
Those concerns are unlikely to be allayed by news from the pox virusconference in Lyon, where Russian and American smallpox researchers metthis week to discuss joint research projects aimed at developing newvaccines and other protections against the disease, now eradicated, thatwas once one of the world's most deadly scourges.
In informal discussions, officials said, Russian scientists alsodiscussed with their American counterparts the 1971 smallpox outbreakthat had stirred fierce debate in bio-defense circles.
Last June, a team of experts at the Monterey Institute of InternationalStudies, drawing on formerly secret Soviet documents and interviews withsurvivors, published a report on the outbreak in Aralsk, a port on theAral Sea in what was then the Kazakh Republic. The report said that theoutbreak began after a ship doing ecological research sailed too closeto a military smallpox test on Vozrozhdeniye Island that sent out adeadly plume of germs, infecting a crew member who carried the virusback to the city.
The team asserted that the strain of smallpox virus in Aralsk appearedto have been unusually potent, raising questions about whether America'ssmallpox vaccine would work in the event of an outbreak.
Although officials in Kazakhstan, now independent, have beeninvestigating the epidemic's origins, Moscow has never acknowledged theoutbreak or that it ever tested smallpox in the open air.
At the Lyon meeting, officials said Russian virologists argued that theMonterey report was wrong: that there was no reason to believe that theAralsk incident was anything other than a natural outbreak.
The Russians asserted, according to officials familiar with thediscussions in Lyon, that although clinical tissue samples from thoseinfected in Aralsk had been taken at the time, the material wasdestroyed when Russia quietly moved its collection of smallpox strainsfrom a lab in Moscow to the Vector Institute in Siberia, where thecountry's large collection of smallpox strains is now stored. Thescientists said that there was nothing unusual about the tissue samplesfrom the 1971 outbreak.
Some American scientists and officials were said to have been deeplyskeptical of the Russian scientists' assertions. But others, officialssaid, described the Russians' willingness to discuss the incident,albeit informally, as a sign of progress. return to menu
2. Russia: U.S. Team Installs Krasnoyarsk Security System
Global Security Newswire
August 9, 2002
(for personal use only)
A U.S. team of specialists has arrived at the Krasnoyarsk nuclearfacility in Russia to help install a physical security system for thesite's chemical plant, ITAR-Tass reported Tuesday.
The team plans to help install a system to prevent intrusion andmodernize other security systems, said Yuriy Revenko, chief engineer forthe plant. The United States is expected to fund the purchase andinstallation of the system, ITAR-Tass reported. return to menu
B. Plutonium Disposition
1. Sideline DOE Meetings Last Week Sound Death Knell For MOX Program -Again
August 8, 2002
(for personal use only)
Recent maneuverings by an influential minister at Russia's NuclearMinistry, Minatom, to locate eventual industrial production of highlyvolatile MOX fuel at the Mayak Chemical Combine has the internationalconsortium facilitating the project casting withering doubts on theprogramme, leaving a long-standing US-Russian non-proliferation projectin tatters.
The MOX program is one of the US Department of Energy's, or DOE's,flagship non proliferation agreements with Russia, involving the futuredestruction of 68,000 tonnes of surplus US and Russian weapons-gradeplutonium in rectors in the form of a special fuel comprised ofplutonium and uranium oxide, called MOX.
But the decade-old program - which so far hasn't resulted in the burningof any MOX - has hit continual bureaucratic snags and opposition, mostlyfrom the Russian side, which, despite the agreement, is still quietlyopposed to destroying its 34,000 tonne portion of the plutonium. TheUnited States has made no progress burning its own surplus plutoniumcache either.
Standing agreements about the location of the MOX fuel'sindustrial-scale fabrication had specified well equipped and bettertechnically suited Zheleznogorsk Mining and Chemical Combine, or GKhK,near Krasnoyarsk - which has a vast array of underground labs - as thesite of choice.
But according a document obtained by Bellona Web, and interviews withofficials close to the project who authored that document, Minatom - ina decision driven by First Nuclear Power Minister Mikhail Solonin -plans to scrap GKhK as the MOX production facility in favour of theUrals Mountains Mayak facility, whose environmental fitness for anundertaking of this magnitude is severely impaired.
In fact, the suggestion will likely be turned down by Russia's nuclearregulatory body, Gosatomnazor, or GAN, unless unprecedented pressure isbrought to bear on the nuclear watchdog.
No official announcement of this switch in venue is scheduled untilOctober, and indeed, Minatom this week refused to acknowledge that anyrelocation has taken, or will take place. In fact, in recent pressreports, Solonin himself still refers to GKhK as the site where the MOXfabrication will take place.
But administration officials at the Zheleznogorsk GKhK, told Bellona Webthat rumours were already circulating that the combine will be passedover in favour of Mayak, representing a bitter financial blow toZheleznogorsk.
By 2006, the closed nuclear city's plutonium reactor is scheduled to beshut down as part of another US-Russia non-proliferation agreement whichwill effect the employment of one out of every five nuclear workers inthe city, the administration official, who spoke on the condition ofanonymity, said.
"We needed those [MOX fabrication] jobs," he said. "Now our only hope isstoring foreign spent nuclear fuel at RT-2, which isn't even finishedyet."
State department "hijacking"
Another blow to the MOX program, according to the sources, came when theUS State Department "hijacked" an agreement with Solonin by signing offon a plan to use Russia's BN 600 fast neutron reactor and retrofittedVVER-1000's to burn the fuel.
The so-called steering committee protocol, signed by Solonin and StateDepartment non proliferation negotiator Michael Guhin, includes notimetables, and actually eliminated the fast track start date for theplutonium disposition program. State Department officials contacted thisweek said they had no comment to offer on the protocol.
According to the document sources, the protocol offered no newinformation about the reactors, which have long been the DOE andMinatom's leading candidates - for lack of better current options - forburning MOX. But the protocol did include a provision offering Mayak asa possible site for industrial level production of MOX at the woefullyinadequate Mayak, the sources said.
Just hours after that deal was signed, however, Solonin's own staff atMinatom was quietly celebrating what they called a "non-decision" withGuhin, and toasting a protocol that would delay the MOX plutoniumproject for at least two years, if not indefinitely.
Many DOE officials were, according to the sources, fuming at theintervention of the US State Department, which has postponed - yet again- the beginning of the MOX plutonium disposition project perhapsindefinitely.
Ed Siskin, the DOE's chief of Fissile Materials Disposition, who was inMoscow for the meetings, declined comment.
Mayak vs. GKhK
Long standing plans among the Russian, French, German and US government- who have all had a technical hand in the MOX project - have stipulatedthat the conversion of weapon's grade plutonium would be taking place atMayak. The plutonium oxide - a powder fit for transport in specialbarrels -would then be shipped to Zheleznogorsk GKhK, and its copiousunderground tunnels and labs for the large scale and hazardousindustrial production of MOX.
But the authors of the document passed to Bellona Wed - who were membersa French German-Russia-US side-delegation during last week's visit toMoscow by US Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, wrote in their jointlyprepared document, that "Minatom has backtracked on its previous siteselection for the French-German-Russian MOX fuel fabrication plant."
This decision, according to authors of the statement - who haverequested anonymity - "[has] drastically changed the programme andthreaten its ultimate viability."
The document also said that the tripartite government agreement betweenFrance, Germany and Russia had expired in June and that Germany - whichhad been slated to provide much of the technology needed for the MOXfabrication - has withdrawn from the project altogether.
Solonin's crony connexions
"Everybody [.] wants [industrial fabrication of MOX} at GKhK, from atechnological viewpoint, from an environmental viewpoint, from a safetyviewpoint," said one of the sources in an interview.
"But Solonin wants it at Mayak."
Aside from being first deputy nuclear minister, Solonin is the formerhead of Moscow's Bochvar Institute for nuclear research and development,which has bosom ties with Mayak.
Mayak's off-sight engineering and scientific research is done at Bochvarlabs, and the industrial production of MOX at Mayak, if given the nod bySolonin, could mean lucrative research and development contracts forBochvar.
"Solonin, [.] was nominated to his current position earlier this year,"the joint statement by the MOX delegation read. "He is now suspected ofsteering work away from [GKhK] to Mayak [.] and his former institute,the Bochvar Institute."
The document said that Solonin's reopening of the question about wherethe MOX will be fabricated "may delay the [MOX production] facility'scommissioning by at least two years because of the significant progressmade" on designing the fabrication facility to the specifications ofZheleznogorsk's GKhK.
As evidence of Russian stalling tactics, the document cited Minatom'scontinued failure to sign a so-called Justification of Investment forthe GKhK, and noted that "the creation of a similar document for a newsite may require an additional two years simply to return the programmeto its current status."
"Bochvar is a mafia scientific organization," said one of the documentsauthors in an interview with Bellona Web. "
"It wants all the money channelled through it. So if Mayak [gets themass MOX production], then Bochvar will be skimming millions of dollarsin worthless, needless research and development. If its GKhK that getsthe contracts, Bochvar doesn't get any money - it's as simple as that."
Despite several attempts to contact First Deputy Nuclear MinisterSolonin, and messages left with his staff, he could not be reached forcomment.
Nikolai Shingarev, who heads Minatom's department for relations withgovernment bodies and information policy played down the apparent switchof fabrication venues in an interview with Bellona Web by saying "itwill be a long time before we reach a stage where we are ready toprocess MOX fuel at industrial levels."
"Whether this happens at GKhK or Mayak is not really the issue now -there are still many, many experiments that have to be done."
A spokesman for Bochvar said the institution was "only interested in thebest possible process and the possible place for making MOX," but wouldnot comment on whether he thought that place was Mayak or the GKhK."This will be decided later," he said, but would not confirm if he meantthe scheduled announcement date of October, when the sources said GKhKwould be announced as the loser in the race for industrial production ofMOX.
According to one of the sources behind the document, there may be othermotives behind the wrench Solonin just threw into the works by quietlymoving industrial MOX production over to Mayak.
"The big problem with this is that the Russians never wanted the MOXprogramme," said the source.
"The Russians would rather store the plutonium and eventually use it inthe BN-800 reactor," he said referring to a reactor that currentlyexists on paper but has the possibility of burning both MOX and pureplutonium. He went on to say that destroying plutonium now wouldinterrupt plans for constructing a closed plutonium fuel cycle inRussia's future.
"What they want to do is recycle their nuclear arsenal, not destroy it,"said the source. Indeed, he implied that the plans to fabricate MOX atMayak may only be a stalling technique - which would nonetheless lineBochvar's coffers with research contracts.
"Mayak is a really stupid choice because the regulatory bodies, unlessyou really lean on them very heavily, are not going to approve [theplans] because of environmental issues," he said.
A spokesman for Yury Vishnevsky, who heads Russia's nuclear regulatorybody Gosatomnadzor, or GAN, told Bellona Web flatly that "Mayak is theworst possible place for [industrial MOX fabrication] and I am sure wewill do all we can to oppose it."
But that may be part of the plan. Rejection of the Mayak option wouldsend the whole plan back into the bureaucratic mill and delay theprogram even further, buying Minatom time to pursue other options tokeep its 34,000 tonnes of plutonium from being destroyed. return to menu
C. Submarine Dismantlement
1. Nuclear Submarine Emergency In Floating Dock During Decommissioning
August 7, 2002
(for personal use only)
An Echo-II class submarine - K-104 - which was in a floating dock PD-63at the naval shipyard No. 10 in Polyarny - also named Shkval - at theKola Peninsula fell on its portside on June 29th at around 5 a.m. Moscowtime. The incident happened in a matter of seconds, but nobody was hurt.No increased levels of radiation were measured, according to officialreturns.
The incident was reported only on August 6th by Pravda.Ru - a website ofthe biggest newspaper once upon a time in the Soviet Union. This is thefirst major incident with the Russian submarine since the Kursk sank twoyears ago. But the military system is still holding back its 'secrets'even though such incident can threaten health and environment.
The submarine had spent nuclear fuel unloaded from its two reactors inspring 2002. The super structure of the boat was removed as well. Thisvery fact ensured to a certain extent that the submarine did not damagethe floating dock severely and it stayed afloat.
K-104 was commissioned in 1963 and stayed in active service until 1990.>From 1976 and till 1981, the submarine was under upgrade and repairs atPolyarny shipyard. Echo-II class submarines are 115.4 meters long andhave 5,760 tonnes displacement submerged.
The inquiry commission set up by the shipyard's management believes theworkers who were engaged in decommissioning of the submarine did nottake into account the fact that the weight of the submarine increasedduring the 1976-1981 upgrade and selected wrong sized keel holders.
Officials at the shipyard claim that the floating dock itself is stableand there is no danger of sinking. The sideboards of the dock werepatched up and new keel holders were installed. The officials at theshipyard say, however, that they will not take chances to dump the dockagain in order to trim the submarine. Shipyard's workers will continueto cut the submarine in its tilted position. The operation will benon-standard and will require additional efforts. Things will complicatefurther with the harsh weather coming up already in October.
Polyarny's bad record
The shipyard in Polyarny has long tried to grab its share in thedecommissioning work of the submarines without any particular bigsuccess. Reactor compartments from Polyarny and other shipyards at theKola Peninsula and in Severodvinsk, Arkhangelsk county, are towed toSayda Bay, located not so far from Polyarny. The commander of Sayda Bay,once interviewed by Bellona Web, said that the compartments andpartially dismantled submarines that arrive from Polyarny are usually inpoor condition and sometimes have gamma radiation emissions.
This year Yury Vishnevsky, head of Russia's Nuclear Regulatory, or GAN,addressed the cabinet with an alarming letter describing a close toaccident situation with fuel shipment from a submarine defuelled inPolyarny. Mr Vishnevsky wrote that the train with spent nuclear fuel,which arrived to Mayak reprocessing plant in the southern Ural in May2001, carried casks with damaged spent nuclear fuel. Some parts of thespent nuclear fuel were missing and their location is unknown. This factwas not indicated in the documents sent with the train and wasdiscovered during unloading of the fuel.
The damaged fuel originated from Echo-II class submarine K-192, whichsuffered an accident in 1989 and has been stationed in Polyarny until itwas defuelled in 2000.
GAN inspectors were not in place when the damaged fuel was loaded intoTUK-18 type casks destined for the Mayak plant. GAN was stripped of theauthority to inspect military installations back in 1993. And themilitary nuclear safety inspection had no interest to complicate mattersby informing Mayak about the damaged fuel arrival. The Mayak plantcannot reprocess damaged fuel and could bluntly refuse to accept it. Theway-out was just to pretend that nobody noticed that the spent fuel wasbroken in parts, some of them missing, and get rid of the headache. Theavailable storage sites are full in the Northern Fleet, whereas thesolution to manage damaged fuel has not been found so far.
Polyarny shipyard - Shkval
As the first nuclear powered submarines were delivered to the NorthernFleet at the end of the 1950s, the yard was modified for the docking andrepair of these vessels. Tenders, service ships and dry docks wereacquired, including the floating dock PD-63. Around 1970, the yard wasreorganised and partially expanded in order to handle the secondgeneration of nuclear submarines.
Defuelling and refuelling of the submarines at Polyarny is carried outby the Navy's Project 326M ship - an old barge. In 2000, the civiliannuclear support ship Imandra was working at Polyarny defuelling twoVictor-II submarines.
The shipyard has also two covered floating docks, onshore and floatingcranes. There are approx. 3,000 employees at the yard. The nearby townof Polyarny has just under 30,000 inhabitants.
The shipyard is capable of processing three to four nuclear submarinesat the same time. However, it has not been actively involved in thedecommissioning work. The shipyard defuelled and likely dismantled theNovember class submarine K-5 in 1996. In 1999, the Echo-II classsubmarine K-172 (K-192) was defuelled and dismantled at Shkval.
Some of the first generation submarines were also partly dismantled atShkval and later towed to Sayda Bay for storage. Currently there arearound four first generation submarines stationed at Shkval: twoNovember class, one Hotel class, and one Echo-II class - the one nowtilted in the floating dock. return to menu
D. Russian Nuclear Forces
1. Russia Plans To Retain Missile Trains
August 9, 2002
(for personal use only)
Russia will retain a unit of train-mounted intercontinental ballisticmissiles, one of the most powerful and menacing components of itsnuclear forces, a top general said Friday.
The Interfax-Military News Agency quoted Russia's Strategic MissileForces chief, Col. Gen. Nikolai Solovtsov, as saying the military willkeep one division of the train-mounted missiles.
The news agency quoted unidentified military officials as saying thatthe Kostroma division of RT-23 train-mounted missiles will remain onduty and another two divisions will be given the status of storagebases. Kostroma is a city on the Volga river 320 kilometers (200 miles)northeast of Moscow.
One division includes up to five trains, each carrying three missiles,the agency said. The RT-23 missile, known as the SS-24 in the West,became a part of the Soviet nuclear arsenal in the late 1980s. Eachmissile carries ten nuclear warheads.
Russia was supposed to scrap all its RT-23 missiles under the 1993 STARTII nuclear arms reduction treaty with the United States, which wouldhave reduced the number of nuclear warheads in each country's arsenal to3,000 to 3,500. However, the treaty was never implemented, and Russiaformally withdrew from the agreement in June after the U.S. abrogatedthe Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.
The new U.S.-Russian arms deal signed by President George W. Bush andRussian President Vladimir Putin in May calls for each country to reduceits arsenal of strategic nuclear warheads to 1,700 to 2,200, down from6,000 or more for the United States and about 5,500 for Russia.
Unlike START II, which barred Russia from deploying land-based missileswith multiple warheads, the new arms deal left it to each nation todecide which weapons it will scrap. That will allow Russia to keep themultiple-warhead missiles that have been the core of its nuclear arsenalsince the Soviet era, averting the immediate need for a costly effort toa build a replacement. return to menu
1. The Dangerous Absurdity Of The Bush-Putin Arms Treaty
Ivo H. Daalder and James M. Lindsay
The American Prospect
August 26, 2002
(for personal use only)
This September, when the Senate returns from its summer recess, theForeign Relations Committee plans to vote on the Moscow Treaty onStrategic Offensive Reductions, which Presidents George W. Bush andVladimir Putin signed at the Moscow Summit in May. Bush claims thetreaty "will liquidate the legacy of the Cold War," but it does no suchthing. Nor was this really his administration's intention. Rather, theobjective, which this treaty now codifies, is to ensure that the UnitedStates retains maximum nuclear flexibility -- by enabling it to deployits nuclear forces in any way that it wants. The result is a treaty thatmakes the world no safer than it was before, and much the worse forfailing to achieve a genuine reduction in nuclear weapons.
Bush came to office committed to "leave the Cold War behind" and"rethink the requirements of nuclear deterrence." The United Stateswould reduce its nuclear forces to the "lowest possible numberconsistent with our national security." And it would do this throughunilateral action rather than through a legally binding agreement withRussia. Last November, then, Bush announced the United States wouldreduce its strategic nuclear arsenal over the next 10 years, from itscurrent level of about 7,200 warheads to between 1,700 and 2,200warheads. At first, he resisted Russian demands to codify thiscommitment in a formal, binding agreement. But in deciding last Decemberto withdraw the United States from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty,Bush agreed to soften the blow to Moscow by affirming these offensiveforce reductions in a legally binding treaty.
But it is important to understand what the Moscow Treaty says -- andmore important, what it doesn't say. The only legally binding commitmentthe United States and Russia undertake under the terms of the agreementis to deploy no more than 1,700 to 2,200 warheads on "operationallydeployed" launchers by December 31, 2012. The treaty is deliberatelysilent on what will happen between now and then. Moreover, at the exactmoment 10 years hence, when the limits on force levels go into effect,the treaty will expire, unless both parties agree otherwise. In otherwords, the United States and Russia are free -- except for a single daya decade from now -- to deploy as many (or as few) warheads onoperationally deployed systems as they like. Yes, it is as absurd as itsounds.
Even worse, and directly undermining Bush's claim that it liquidates theCold War's legacy, the treaty is silent on what happens to the weaponsto be retired. They can be stored, put in reserve or dismantled --whatever the parties wish. There is no obligation to liquidate anything.The treaty also says nothing about how many warheads a missile can carryor how many launchers each side can have. Russia, for example, will befree to put multiple warheads on its new land based missile forces -- aprocedure banned by the START II Treaty that the elder George Bush andBoris Yeltsin signed in January 1993. (START II, which never enteredinto force even though both the U.S. Senate and the Russian Duma gavetheir conditional consent, was slated to have been implemented by 2007.)What remains in effect is START I, a Reagan-era arms-control documentthat we signed with the Soviet Union, which stipulates force reductionsthat both nations have in fact already achieved. Now this will beaugmented by an agreement to reduce U.S. and Russian forces for at leasta single day 10 years from now. If either Washington or Moscow decidesit does not like that constraint, it can withdraw from the treaty bygiving 90 days notice. And this is called arms control!
To be sure, it is possible that 10 years from now the United States andRussia will decide to extend the life of the Moscow Treaty. It is evenpossible that the two nations will agree to dismantle the retiredweapons. The relationship between Moscow and Washington is changing --and for the better. Nuclear weapons, and joint measures to control them,are becoming a less contentious part of their relations.
But one cannot assume that U.S.-Russian relations will grow inexorablycloser. Putin is attempting a fundamental shift in Russia's foreignpolicy, one that has left much of Russia's elite grumbling. Economichardship or foreign-policy humiliation could produce an unstoppabledemand to return Russian policy to its traditional antagonism to thewest. One role of arms control is to guard against this danger. Yet thisis precisely what the Moscow Treaty fails to do. Remarkably, anadministration that prides itself on its hard-nosed realism is ignoringthe first rule of international politics: Hope for the best, but guardagainst the worst.
What accounts for this failure? The Bush administration argues that armscontrol reflects old fashioned Cold War thinking, that what is neededtoday are not formal, detailed agreements about mutual obligations butinformal exchanges of intentions. As National Security AdviserCondoleezza Rice puts it, the Moscow treaty "codifies what PresidentBush and President Putin have decided independently are the levelsneeded to defend their countries ... in a way that doesn't look like anagreement that you would make with an enemy like the Soviet Union, butrather more like a defense-planning guidance with the Russians." Inother words, friends don't do treaties. Putin needed a treaty and gotone, but that was Bush's only concession. In keeping with trueadministration policy, the treaty's actual provisions were drafted tofacilitate a strategy that has nothing to do with arms control.
The Bush administration does not so much object to arms control per se(although it does that as well) as it does to placing any constraints onAmerica's freedom of action. It believes that as the most powerfulnation on earth, the United States should not and cannot be constrainedin ways that other lesser powers can. The Bush administration has madethis abundantly clear, from the Kyoto Protocol to the ABM Treaty, theInternational Criminal Court to the Comprehensive Test Ban. It rejectssome treaties, withdraws from others, and even engages in the novelpractice of "unsigning" those it truly detests.
This Thucydidean philosophy -- that the strong do as they can and theweak suffer as they must - is the leitmotif of the administration'sforeign policy. Thus, the Nuclear Posture Review that the Pentagon sentto Congress in January raised the prospect of using nuclear weapons inthe midst of a conventional conflict to attack targets capable ofwithstanding non-nuclear attack. This fetish for flexibility emergedeven more clearly in Bush's West Point speech in June, when he embraceda new policy of preemptive nuclear war. The administration now proposesto "strike first" -- regardless of whether there is political support athome or abroad for such an action, and perhaps without proof that athreat to our safety actually exists. So much for the Constitution and200 years of military practice.
The Moscow Treaty elevates this flexibility fetish into the law of theland. As a senior administration official told The New York Times, "Whatwe have now agreed to do under the treaty is what we wanted to doanyway. That's our kind of treaty."
Unfortunately, it does little to liquidate the Cold War's primarylegacy: many thousands of nuclear weapons. For that, a different, moreambitious agenda is necessary. Its central goal must be to marginalizenuclear weapons. That requires taking the following steps:
Reduce U.S. nuclear forces to 1,000 strategic weapons. In a world inwhich Russia is a friend and no other potentially hostile country hasmore than a few dozen strategic warheads, 1,000 nuclear warheads woulddeter anyone who can be deterred. As McGeorge Bundy recognized more thanthree decades ago, "in the real world of real political leaders ... adecision that would bring even one hydrogen bomb on one city of one'sown country would be recognized in advance as a catastrophic blunder; 10bombs on 10 cities would be a disaster beyond history; and a hundredbombs on a hundred cities unthinkable." We have long lived in Bundy'sreal world -- and we certainly do so now.
Complete the weapons cuts by 2004. The Moscow Treaty gives both sides 10years to implement its reductions. But because weapons can be stored,those reductions can be accomplished much more quickly. In nine monthsin 1991-92, the United States removed more than 4,000 tactical nuclearweapons from active duty. There is no reason why these reductions shouldtake much longer.
Agree with Russia to eliminate all tactical nuclear weapons. The newtreaty is silent about the thousands of short-range nuclear weapons theUnited States and Russia have in storage. They serve no militarypurpose, and they are precisely the kind of weapons Osama bin Ladenwould love to obtain.
Destroy all weapons to be retired. More than 10 years after the Cold Warended, the United States and Russia still have 30,000 nuclear weaponsbetween them. That is a Cold War legacy we can surely do without.
Ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. This treaty would create aworldwide system, including sensors in closed societies such as Chinaand Iran, for monitoring clandestine nuclear explosions. The resultwould reduce the nuclear proliferation threat.
Rather than continuing with treaties that are all form and no substance,Washington and Moscow should return to the bargaining table and comeback with a compact that truly makes major, enduring reductions innuclear weapons. Yes, the United States would have to sacrifice someflexibility. But it would get something more important in return:enhanced security. return to menu
2. USA To Start Dismantling The Remaining 35 B-53 Warheads
August 8th, 2002
(for personal use only)
The US Department of Energy will soon start dismantling the remaining 35B-53 9-megaton bombs, the most powerful bombs ever produced in the USA.The Washington Post learned on Thursday that each of the B-53 classbombs equals 400 bombs that obliterated Hiroshima.
Removed from combat duty five years ago, these gigantic thermonuclearbombs were designed for the destruction of underground bunkers built inthe Soviet Union for the protection of top Soviet Communist Partyleaders and military command stations of Moscow, the newspaper writes.
The B-53 bombs were scrapped in 1997 after the USA created a new B-61nuclear gravity bomb of the 11th edition for the destruction ofunderground bunkers, The Washington Post writes. return to menu
3. Powerhouse H-Bomb Heads For Graveyard
August 8, 2002
(for personal use only)
The United States will soon begin to dismantle the 35 remaining B-53s,the most powerful thermonuclear bombs it ever built, 40 years after theweapons first became operational and five years after they werewithdrawn from active service, according to Energy Department officials.
With a yield of 9 megatons (the equivalent of 9 million tons of TNT),each B-53 has the power of more than 400 Hiroshima atomic bombs. Theweapon was originally designed to destroy the Soviet Union's deeplyburied bunkers built during the Cold War to protect top Communist Partyleaders and Moscow's military command posts.
The 9,000-pound bomb remained in the active stockpile until 1997 becauseit was the only giant thermonuclear weapon, or H-bomb, that StrategicCommand planners felt confident could destroy Russian, North Korean andIraqi hardened targets hidden in mountains or buried underground,according to active and retired Defense and Energy departmentspecialists.
It was only in 1997, when the newer B-61 Mod 11 nuclear bomb, with aspecial earth-penetrating warhead, became operational, that theStrategic Command during the Clinton administration put the B-53 intosecure storage warehouses.
An unplanned lag has developed over the years in the Energy Department'sability to dismantle its older, retired nuclear weapons at its Pantexplant in Texas, the only facility where U.S. nuclear weapons have beenassembled and disassembled. Like the B-53, a line of other nuclearweapons has developed waiting to be taken apart in a highly technicaland potentially dangerous process.
This little-publicized delay, along with the growing number ofrefurbished nuclear bombs and warheads in line to go through the Pantexplant and be returned to operational status, is the reason there will beno immediate dismantling of the warheads removed under the new Bushadministration strategic reduction treaty with Russia.
For example, the W-79, the eight-inch nuclear artillery shell that inthe 1970s was to provide a neutron radiation effect that would killpeople but leave buildings intact, still has not been completelydismantled.
The 500 so-called neutron artillery shells were retired in 1991 byPresident George H.W. Bush, but there still is "ongoing dismantlementwork" on the W-79 "that's been under[way] for several years," Everet H.Beckner, deputy administrator for defense programs of the NationalNuclear Security Administration, told the Senate Armed ServicesCommittee last week.
The W-79 program was supposed to have been completed in August 2000 butwas held up when complications developed.
Another weapon retired by Bush and still being dismantled is the W-56,the warhead for the Minuteman II intercontinental ballistic missile(ICBM). The 500 W-56 warheads were supposed to have been dismantled bySeptember, but Beckner told the committee the process "will continuethrough fiscal year 2005."
Also in line to begin disassembly soon are the tactical B-61 nuclearbombs that first came into the inventory in 1963.
Dismantling nuclear bombs and warheads takes years of planning, Becknertold the committee, "since we must safely and securely handle thethousands of parts that will be generated by the process." Radiationhazards must be analyzed and safety standards approved. Transportationfrom secure storage areas must be programmed; storage at Pantexarranged; and each weapon radiographed to see if its critical safetycomponents are operational, all before any dismantling.
Each weapon has to be taken apart in a separate, secure work bay. Theprimary chemical high explosive must carefully be separated from theplutonium and special radioactive materials that cause the thermonuclearblast.
The chemical high explosives are burned at Pantex and the plutonium isstored there because no plant exists to take that section apart. Otherspecial nuclear materials can be disposed of under the existing materialdisposition programs. Some other subassemblies can be retained for usein other weapons, while highly enriched uranium from the dismantledbombs and warheads could be sent to the Energy Department's Y-12 plantat Oak Ridge, Tenn., for storage or further processing.
The dismantling system is so complex and the plans for refurbishingweapons so large that the Pantex plant, with its limited number ofsecure work bays, will not be able to take on new dismantling withoutexpanding the workforce, Beckner told the senators.
"We have some room . . . between now and about 2005," Beckner said."From about 2005 to 2012 or so, we have a large workload in the lifeextension program," he added.
The B-53 experience shows how weapons needs can affect the dismantlingprocess.
In the mid-1980s, plans were made to retire and dismantle the B-53 andreplace it with the lower yield B-83. But in 1987, after accidentscaused the Pentagon to deactivate the Titan II liquid-fueled ICBM force,which used a 9-megaton warhead, the decision was made to halt B-53retirements and keep 50 operational.
At the time, it was disclosed that the giant bomb was the only weaponwith the ability to destroy deeply buried hard targets. A life extensionprogram for the B-53 was undertaken in the late 1980s to give itadditional safety equipment. But even when the Cold War ended, StrategicCommand planners continued to need a giant nuclear warhead to attackunderground facilities. As the 1990s progressed, additional "targetsets" required retention of the B-53, which was no longer considered assafe as other nuclear weapons.
Even when the new earth-penetrating B-61 became operational in January1997, the B-53 was initially to be retained as part of the hedgestockpile, according to an announcement at the time return to menu
1. Fuel In The First Power Unit Of Iran's Bushehr NPP Is Expected To BeLoaded In December 2003
August 9, 2002
(for personal use only)
Russian experts are planning to load fuel in the first power unit ofIran's Bushehr nuclear power plant, which is under construction withRussia's help, in December 2003, Russian Deputy Atomic Energy MinisterAndrei Malyshev said Monday. According to Xinhua news agency, Mr.Malyshev stressed that Russia had always regarded the Bushehr plant,which is due to start operation in June 2004, as a purely civilianfacility. Russia signed an agreement of 800 million U.S. dollars withIran in 1995 on building a nuclear plant at Bushehr on the Gulf coast.
Mr. Malyshev also said the building of the first unit of the BushehrN-Plant plant had passed several checks, including that by theInternational Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and no violations ofinternational agreements have been revealed. As for the possibleconstruction of a second unit at the Bushehr plant, the Deputy Ministersaid no such project has been agreed on so far. If such an agreement wasreached, the reactor would likely be similar to the first unit, headded.
Meanwhile, Nikolay Shingaryov, spokesman for the Russia's Atomic EnergyMinistry, said that Russian-Iranian long-term cooperation programprovided "only for already existing technical abilities whoseimplementation depended on a lot of factors including economic ones." Atthe 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 Co-operationbetween the Russian Federation and the Islamic Republic of Iran for aPeriod until 2012'. The resolution envisages Russian help to Iran in theconstruction of up to six reactors, including Bushehr-1 and Bushehr-2,as well as two more power units at the Bushehr site and two power unitsat the Akhvaz site. return to menu
2. Iran's Russian Power Play
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
August 4, 2002
(for personal use only)
Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham was in Moscow last week, trying topersuade the Russians to abandon their plans to build nuclear powerplants in Iran. Abraham's lobbying effort, however, went nowhere. Now,rather than pursue what appears to be a lost cause, the administrationshould instead do its best to see that the plants produce onlyelectricity - and not bombs.
The issue arises because fuel for the plants can be enriched orreprocessed and then used in the production of atomic weapons. PresidentBush has condemned Iran as part of an "axis of evil" because of itssupport for terrorist groups, its opposition to Mideast peace and itsquest for weapons of mass destruction.
The week before Abraham arrived in Moscow, however, the Russians saidthey would not only help Iran finish a long-delayed power plant atBushehr, but build five new ones. Russia, which desperately needs themoney, is selling conventional arms to Iran and supplying it withtechnology that can be used to make chemical and biological weapons aswell as industrial products. But the nuclear thorn is the biggest andsharpest.
Both Russia and Iran have gone a long way toward easing the pain thatthorn may inflict. Moscow has agreed to supply Iran with the fissilefuel for the plants and to ship spent nuclear material back to Russiafor storage. For its part, Iran has signed a treaty that requires itsnuclear plants to be regularly visited by U.N. inspectors to see thatall the nuclear fuel is accounted for.
These safeguards would not prevent Iran from diverting the nuclear fuelfor military purposes, but they probably would ensure that suchdiversions were promptly detected. The Russians, moreover, argue thatthe power stations they intend to build in Iran are essentially the samekind that the United States, in 1994, agreed to help build in NorthKorea as part of a deal under which North Korea - another element ofBush's "axis of evil" - abandoned its nuclear weapons program.
U.S. complaints about Russian-Iranian nuclear cooperation date back morethan 20 years, to 1979. Building the six nuclear plants in Iran wouldgenerate nearly $5 billion for the cash strapped Russian economy, andthe work would provide jobs for thousands of Russians for more than 10years.
Given all this, it's probably going to take a lot more than jawboning topersuade Moscow to call its workers home, and Abraham made it evidentlast week that the U.S. won't attempt to pressure Moscow with economicor political reprisals. In diplomacy, as in poker, you have to play thecards you are dealt. In this game, the U.S. should do its best to seethat the Russians and Iranians abide by their legal and contractualobligations. return to menu
G. Nuclear Terrorism
1. Kazakh Rescuers To Be Trained By USA In Handling Aftermath Of MassDestruction Weapons Use
August 8, 2002
(for personal use only)
About ten associates of Kazakhstan's agency for emergency situations areto be trained in Washington in handling aftermath of the use of massdestruction weapons, reports the agency's press-service. This is done inaccordance with the US state department's programme againstinternational terrorism.
Kazakhstan's former capital Alma Ata was last summer the venue of aseminar on initial activities after the use of mass destruction weapons,initiated by the US state department with a view to training rescuers toact in situations when chemical, biological and radioactive substanceshave been applied. return to menu
2. Uzbeks Block Central Asia's Nuclear Corridor
Christian Science Monitor
August 7, 2002
(for personal use only)
Like a database of criminal mug shots, a computer at this Central Asianborder post keeps one photographic image of every vehicle that passes -along with a record of its radiation level.
Every vehicle, every bag, and every body that passes through the ornatesilver-domed portal into Uzbekistan from Kazakhstan is quietly scannedfor radioactive contraband by a state-of-the-art detector paid for bythe United States.
This sweltering, dusty crossroads is another unlikely frontline inUS-funded international efforts to prevent terrorism.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Central Asia has beenseen as an "easy" region to acquire and smuggle nuclear materials, wherenewly independent nations have weak border controls. That has meantpotentially rich pickings for groups like Al Qaeda, which could build aradiological "dirty" bomb far more easily than a typical nuclear weapon.There have been 181 cases of illicit trafficking of nuclear materialsfrom 1993 until the end of last year, according to the UN InternationalAtomic Energy Agency. Senior US officials say that Jose Padilla, analleged Al Qaeda operative and an American citizen arrested in May, waspart of an effort to build a radiological dirty bomb with nuclearmaterial from Central Asia.
A "dirty" bomb spreads radiation with the blast of a conventionalexplosive. It is built with radioactive material such as the contents ofthe 10 lead containers concealed in a truck full of scrap metal thatpassed through these same gates in March 2000 from Kazakhstan. The haulwas discovered by Uzbek customs officials with portable radiation"pagers" provided by US Customs officials. The Iranian driver was boundfor Pakistan.
In the early 1990s, the risk of nuclear smuggling caught the attentionof American officials. In 1994, the US airlifted out more than 1,300pounds of highly enriched uranium from Kazkhstan. In 1996, there werereports of purchasing teams from Iran (which Washington believes to bepursuing nuclear weapon capability) making visits there.
In April 2000, shortly after the lead containers were found by theUzbeks, then-US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright during a visit tothe capital, Tashkent announced a $3 million package to improve bordersecurity.
The US has an array of programs run by the US Customs Service andDepartments of Energy, State, and the Defense aimed at controllingnuclear smuggling. But a June report by the US General Accounting Officecriticized the programs in 30 countries for absence of an overallstrategy among those four federal agencies, plus the FBI, and the CoastGuard. Still, US and Uzbek officials here say they are making adifference.
Uzbeks were among some 80 Central Asian customs and border officials whotook part in a three-week US Customs training course in Hidalgo, Texas,just prior to Sept. 11. They were trained to detect nuclear, chemical,and biological weapons components with state-of-the-art methods, fromfiber-optic scopes and X-ray equipment to computers.
Since Sept. 11, security upgrades at nuclear power and trainingfacilities in Uzbekistan have been stepped up, just as the massiveNuclear Threat Reduction program in Russia has received a new life - andhundreds of millions of dollars in new funding - from a Bush White Housethat before Sept. 11 was skeptical of the program.
"The whole world is concerned about this stuff," says Bekhzod Yuldashev,head of the Institute of Nuclear Physics in Tashkent and president ofthe Uzbekistan Academy of Sciences. Uzbekistan is a "pivotal transitpoint," and will become more critical, he says, as work progresses on ahighway linking Paris with Shanghai.
On a recent afternoon, as Uzbek customs officials watched a long-haultruck pass through the scanner, the alarms sound. The detection deviceis so sensitive that, in this case, it picked up higher than normalnatural radiation levels in a load of marble construction materials.False alarm.
Similar US and European-funded equipment - including an array ofhand-held and smaller, belt clip detectors - are used at the airport inTashkent, and elsewhere.
"Don't you worry in America, because we deeply understand the danger ofradiation and weapons of mass destruction," says Col. Jalilov Sadridin,an Uzbek customs official standing over the computer. "This is the firstline of our struggle in this region, because Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstanlost control of their nuclear materials. There are so many sources."
How confident is Colonel Sadridin that Uzbekistan with help from US andEuropean donors and the UN International Atomic Energy Agency can stopsuch smuggling? "One hundred percent," he replies.
The radiation detectors alone can't stop smuggling. They are notdesigned, for example, to detect bribes to border control officials. Buta Western diplomat in Tashkent says that the cooperation of Uzbekistan -which never had a nuclear weapons capability under Soviet rule, but sitsat the heart of Central Asian transit routes - is "extremely" important.
The problem for Uzbekistan is transport of nuclear materials from northto south, the opposite of the path for drugs traveling from Afghanistanalong the so-called "northern route" through Central Asia to Europe.
"We have nuclear neighbors, Russia, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, and India,"says Mr. Yuldashev. "Uzbekistan plays an important role. Transit [of allgoods] is very intensive."
Uzbeks are proud of their track record. A customs museum in Tashkentillustrates successes that in the past decade have netted 30 tons ofdrugs such as opium and heroin traveling north to Europe, and 70 tons ofprecursor chemicals traveling south to Afghanistan, for Taliban labs toturn opium into heroin.
Photographs show the ruses: plastic sacks stuffed with heroin immersedin jugs of tomato paste; a car being shipped whole in a container fullof household goods - and a drive shaft crammed with heroin.
"We are trying our best," says Sadridin. "The US is helping us to dothat." return to menu
1. Remarks By Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham - World Nuclear AssociationLuncheon (Excerpted)
Department of Energy
August 5, 2002
Finally, we are working with our counterparts in Russia to ensure thefuture viability of safe nuclear energy while at the same time helpingto keep dangerous materials out of the wrong hands.
In fact, just last week I was in Moscow for a series of working meetingswith Minister Rumyantsev of Minatom to investigate ways to furtherexpand our partnership.
In recent months we have established two new bilateral working groups,and the Minister and I discussed ways to ensure their effectiveness.
The focus of the first of these working groups is to examine ways tofurther eliminate excess plutonium and highly enriched uranium materialsthat can be used to make nuclear weapons.
This group is working to identify initiatives that could lead toreductions in nuclear materials from weapons beyond the obligationsstipulated in existing agreements and report its recommendations bymid-September.
The other working group is comprised of technical experts who exploredareas of potential cooperation for combined research on advanced,proliferation-resistant nuclear reactor and fuel cycle technologies toreduce stocks of weapons-grade plutonium and highly enriched uranium aswell as reduce waste produced by civilian reactors.
Minister Rumyantsev and I were pleased to receive the report of thisworking group last week.
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