I've slighted my share of Republican senators in print. But I can onlythink of one to whom I owe an apology. In fact, I may even owe him mylife. Let me explain: Back in 1996 I was a smart alecky TNR intern eagerto wisecrack my way into print. Richard Lugar was a Republican senatorrunning one of the most hopeless presidential campaigns in modernhistory. Lugar was an awful candidate. His grimacing, mechanicalapproach to primary-state retail politics made Steve Forbes look likeWarren Beatty. Stating the obvious during the campaign, he told onereporter, "I've never purported to be an entertainer or performer or abon vivant." His candidacy was instead based on that perennially losingtheme of technocratic mastery. Lugar's edge was that, as a hardworking20-year senator, he simply knew the issues better than anyone else did.Naturally, his candidacy went nowhere.
And so perhaps the most rational, levelheaded candidate of all time,acted like a maniacal dictator: He went nuclear. In December 1995 Lugarran a four-part ad campaign telling the story, docudrama-style, ofterrorists who steal three Russian nuclear warheads and threaten todetonate them in the United States. In one spot, a little girlplaintively asks at bedtime, "Mommy, won't the bomb wake everybody up?"Others depicted panicky aides begging a befuddled president forguidance. The implication was that most presidential candidates would beill-equipped to deal with such a calamity. But not Lugar. Long beforeThe Sum of All Fears gave Americans mass nightmares, Lugar had becomefixated on the possibility that former Soviet nukes might be stolen andexploded on American soil; he had spent countless hours working on thatvery question in the Senate. And so the ads concluded with Lugar,looking solemn--and, back then, vaguely ridiculous--issuing his gravewarning: "Nobody wants to talk about nuclear terrorism. But hiding fromit won't make it go away." In those blissfully ignorant days Lugar'sdoomsday ads felt like a desperate, even exploitative, ploy. And so Ismugly typed out a short, unsigned item for TNR's "Notebook," declaringthat Lugar had "managed to undermine the one element that sets him apartfrom his competitors: seriousness." That showed him!
Today Lugar's nightmare scenario feels rather lesscartoonish--especially here in Washington, a city whose security DickCheney comments upon by decamping to his "undisclosed location." Yet I'msurprised how few Washingtonians talk seriously about the risks involvedwith living here. When Bill Keller wrote a terrifying, 8,000-word coverstory in the May 26 New York Times Magazine chronicling thenuclear-terror risk, he concluded, "The problem is not so much that weare not doing enough to prevent a terrorist from turning our atomicknowledge against us (although we are not). The problem is that theremay be no such thing as 'enough.'" He went on to note, "I'm notevacuating Manhattan, but neither am I sleeping quite as soundly." Well,if there may be no such thing as "enough," at what point do we evacuate?Big-city dwellers are today playing an unspoken game of chance orretreating into denial. But that could change. A journalist friend ofmine recently confessed, for instance, that The Bomb would be a factorin his decision the next time a job offer in a smaller city came along.This might suggest a future pattern: Because no one wants to be acoward, people aren't fleeing D.C. or New York. But given a good excuse,we just might conveniently relocate. It's a checklist for a newgeneration: How good are the schools? How high are the taxes? What doesthe threat matrix say?
Dick Lugar, bless him, saw this coming a decade ago. And he's probablyworked harder than anyone else in Congress to protect us. A program heformed with then-Georgia Senator Sam Nunn in 1991 has spent billionskeeping nuclear weapons from reaching our shores. Nunn-Lugar pays foreverything from alarm systems at a plutonium dump in Belarus to gainfulemployment for bribe-susceptible former Soviet nuclear scientists. It'sthat rarest of federal programs: forwardlooking, efficient--and utterlylacking a political constituency. As a result, although the UnitedStates is satisfied with security systems at only 20 percent of Russiannuclear storage sites, Nunn-Lugar has spent just $4.5 billion over thepast decade and even next year will spend only $1.3 billion more--about0.3 percent of the Pentagon budget, a level of funding The Economistlast month declared to be "outrageous folly." As the White Housepromotes its shiny new homeland security strategy, it could use somereminding that it's a lot easier to keep a nuke from reaching thehomeland than defending against it once it's here. And so I herebynominate Dick Lugar to replace Tom Ridge.
As you can probably tell, my little pre-September 11 swipe at theIndiana senator has been weighing heavily on my post-attack conscience.Things got worse when I learned recently that Lugar is a faithful readerof TNR. In fact, one of his aides explained to me, Lugar has been knownto ask about his copy when it hasn't arrived on time. I stammered outsome expression of gratitude--but found myself secretly awash in guilt.I had a chance in 1996 to give Lugar a small morale boost when he neededit most; but I blew it. Now I fear that if Washington is vaporized,historians will look scornfully upon my "Notebook" item. So I apologize.I'm the one whose seriousness was undermined, not Lugar.
Paranoid though I may be, I'm not prepared to abandon Washington justyet. But I was happy to escape briefly last month on a trip to northernMontana's gloriously pristine Glacier National Park. Even in this ruggedEden, however, the memory of Mohammed Atta and friends loomed. A smallbut lovely portion of Glacier Park lies north of the Canadian border,and this "international" aspect of our trip posed difficulties. Myfriends and I had planned to take one of the most popular day trips:riding a boat from the Canadian side of the huge and shimmering WatertonLake to its Montana shore and, from there, hiking a scenic trail knownas Goat Haunt. But the modest Montana dock had been newly deemed a"point of entry," and the U.S. Customs service had closed it pending adecision on how best to monitor travelers. The restriction was patentlyfoolish--a would-be terrorist would still have to hike miles throughgrizzly-infested wilderness to reach the nearest road; and any terroristdetermined enough to hike that far could still hike around the lake--andmainly served to upset plans like ours. (Meanwhile, none of thecheckpoints on area roadways prevented us from brazenly smugglingcoolers filled with contraband fruits and alcohol over the border andback.) Customs eventually realized its mistake. A few days after myvisit, Goat Haunt was reopened to documented American citizens. And justin time: I was getting ready to complain to President--er, SenatorLugar. return to menu
B. U.S.-Russia HEU Purchase Agreement
1. A Nuclear Power Fissure
August 19, 2002
(for personal use only)
No electric utility in the United States has ordered construction of anew nuclear power plant in more than two decades. Yet these are headydays for Nick Timbers, president and chief executive of USEC Inc., thenation's only supplier of enriched uranium fuel for commercial nuclearplants.
Carved out of the federal government, when it was known as the U.S.Enrichment Corp., and turned into a public company four years ago, USEChas struggled financially in its infancy while competing againstforeign, government-supported companies. Nonetheless, it has gained thebiggest foothold in the world enrichment market, all the while usingCold War-era technology to manufacture about half of the enricheduranium it sells to the owners of the world's 433 reactors.
Now, however, the occasionally blunt Timbers thinks that in a matter ofmonths, USEC has achieved, through a variety of decisions andagreements, a stability that bodes well for his company's future.Longtime acerbic critics of USEC's operations remain skeptical of thatviewpoint, but Timbers dismisses them as foes "fighting yesterday'sbattles," academics and energy industry analysts who never wanted thefederal government to spin off USEC in the first place.
Earlier this year, in a pair of rulings sought by USEC, the CommerceDepartment and the U.S. International Trade Commission decided that twoof USEC's three competitors in the enrichment business, Eurodif, aFrench government-owned company, and Urenco, a consortium of British,Dutch and German government and corporate entities, had unfairly dumpedtheir products at cheaper prices in the U.S. market. As a result,Eurodif has now been forced to pay an extra 53.5 percent duty and Urenco3.7 percent.
Then, a few weeks ago, USEC signed two agreements it considers crucial.One of them was with the Russian government-owned enrichment companyTenex for a market-based pricing plan starting in January that couldsave USEC millions of dollars in the next 12 years as USEC continues tobuy nuclear fuel reprocessed from Russian nuclear warheads under a20-year U.S. Russian "Megatons to Megawatts" pact that already hasconverted bomb-grade material capable of making 6,000 nuclear warheadsinto commercial nuclear reactor fuel. About half of the nuclear fuelUSEC sells to 50 or 60 utilities here and abroad comes from thedecommissioned Russian warheads.
In the other agreement, USEC and the Energy Department committed to worktogether to develop an advanced centrifuge uranium enrichment plant bythe end of this decade and have it operational by 2010 or 2011 toreplace the antiquated, 50-year-old gaseous diffusion technology USECnow uses at its Paducah, Ky., plant.
William H. "Nick" Timbers, the graying, roundish-faced USEC leader,waxes poetic at the recent turn of events for USEC, seemingly convincedthat nothing but good fortune awaits the firm.
"All these things that have happened are an extraordinary story,"Timbers said.
Under the current, fixed-price arrangement with the Russian governmentrunning through the end of 2002 to buy their bomb-grade material,Timbers said, "we were paying them more than we could sell it for. Thedeal became uneconomical. We renegotiated with the Russians for valuesthat float with the marketplace.
"This is one of the key building blocks of this company, putting it on asolid financial and operating basis," Timbers said recently at thecompany's Bethesda headquarters. "This was an essential resolution, avery significant accomplishment."
Timbers declined to predict how much the company would save under thedeal, but USEC agreed to pay the Russian government the $8 billionoriginally guaranteed under the 20-year plan to dismantle the nuclearwarheads and turn them into fuel for electricity generation.
"Promises made, promises kept," Timbers said, referring to the $8billion figure. "The way it was going, probably we were on a path topaying more than that."
He said the pact with the Energy Department was "part and parcel ofcreating a solid platform. We believe it will be the most efficienttechnology in the world."
Given the contentious nature of USEC's existence -- whether it should beprivatized out of the government; the closing of its productionfacilities at a plant in Piketon, Ohio; the drop in the price of itsshares from $14 at its inception to its current $7 value -- it is notsurprising that many of the firm's critics continue to think thatTimbers's view of the company's prospects is wildly overstated. Also,previous attempts to update USEC's production methods have not pannedout.
Some critics say they think the Russian deal will fall apart. Otherssuggest that the company may not survive in the long term, that it willnot be able to find the money to build its enrichment plant. Moreover,some critics think a Urenco-led consortium, including three large U.S.nuclear power utilities, that is in the early stages of seeking approvalto build an enrichment plant in the United States will upstage the USECeffort and open sooner.
Matthew Bunn, a senior research associate at the Managing the Atomproject at Harvard University, said of the new Russian agreements,"They're good for the company, but are they good enough?"
Bunn said USEC still "is the highest-cost producer [of enriched uranium]in an oversupplied market. It's not a comfortable position to be in."
Jeff Combs, president of UX Consulting Co., an Atlanta nuclear-fuelconsulting firm, said that "as a company, they do the lobbying very well[to secure favorable contracting provisions]. They describe themselvesas a global energy company, but they're actually a global lobbying firm.Their technology is sort of antiquated."
He questioned whether USEC will be to raise the estimated $1.5 billionnecessary to build the enrichment plant. He said that if one newenrichment plant is built in the United States, he would bet on thesuccess of the Urenco-led group known as the LES Partnership.
Peter Lenny, president of Urenco's U.S. marketing operation, said thatthe Urenco partnership, which includes such energy industry heavyweightsas Duke Energy, Entergy Corp., Exelon Corp., Westinghouse Electric Co.and Cameco Corp., a Canadian uranium mining firm, hopes to send itsapplication for the plant to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission by theend of 2002, win approval by mid-2004 and open it by the end of 2006,years before a new USEC plant would be running.
Timbers said his firm's technology will prove superior in the long run."I'm more concerned what we do, not others," he said. "We're veryconfident the USEC centrifuge will be the most efficient in the world."
As for the capital needed, Timbers said: "I believe there will be thefinancial resources for the company, possibly new investors. Thefinances have not been determinedyet."
Rep. Ted Strickland (D-Ohio), in whose district USEC once operated thePiketon plant and still maintains a large clean-up force of workers,scoffed at the notion: "Where's USEC going to get the resources todeploy a new technology . . . unless the federal government bails themout? I think they'll come to Uncle Sam for it. If they fork it overagain, what did we accomplish by privatization?"
One longtime critic of USEC's operation is Thomas Neff, a seniorresearcher at Center for International Studies at the MassachusettsInstitute of Technology, who in a New York Times op-ed article firstpublicly suggested the use of the decommissioned Russian warheads ascommercial nuclear fuel.
Although Timbers declined to discuss fuel prices under the new deal withthe Russians, Neff said that the country will receive $440 million nextyear compared to $500 million this year.
Neff predicted the Russians will become so disenchanted with the dealthat they will back out of it. "My sense is that the Russians can't livewith that," Neff said. "They're already complaining."
USEC has grown so annoyed at Neff's critiques of the company that it hasprepared a list of his predictions that it says have been proven wrongover the years.
Timbers said: "I don't see that other companies get the flock of criticswe do. His predictions are inaccurate, misleading and sometimes verymalicious. It's a classic example of someone fighting yesterday'sbattles," in this case the 1990s fight over whether the company shouldhave been privatized. "I hope we can break this chain of cynicism thatwe've had for years."
James Schlesinger, a secretary of energy during the Carteradministration who now serves on a USEC strategic advisory council, saidthat "given the agreement with the Russians, [USEC's prospects] aregood."
He said he sees no reason why the deal with the Russians would fallapart, saying, "It's backed by the American government and the Russiangovernment."
Ernest J. Moniz, an undersecretary of energy during the Clintonadministration and a new member of the USEC council, agreed about theRussian deal, saying, "Right now it's as stabilized as it's ever been."And because USEC's stock dipped below $5 a share in 2000 and now hasrecovered to Friday's close at $7.53, Timbers likes to note that in thepast two years, counting both share appreciation and dividends,investors in the firm have had a total return of 125 percent, well aheadof the performance of the declining market in that period.
Stock analyst Scott Sprinzen of Standard & Poor's Corp. in New Yorktakes a more neutral view of USEC. "It seems like things have stabilizedwith the company after a period of deterioration since the initialpublic offering," he said. "Its financial performance had been sliding.
"But their earnings are still just fair and they face some majorchallenges, particularly in their future production," Sprinzen said."What's the capital cost for the new technology?"
But those concerns are for days and weeks down the road, leaving Timbersto reach a simple conclusion: "The agreements we've reached are good forthis company, good for this country's energy independence." return to menu
1. Putin's Concessions To U.S. Are Limited By The Bottom Line
August 16, 2002
(for personal use only)
Over the last year, Russia has given the United States most everythingit could want. It watched quietly as U.S. forces moved into Central Asiafor the war on terrorism. It closed its own bases in Cuba and Vietnam.It even stopped trying to block development of a missile defense systemand the expansion of NATO.
But in the new and refined relationship between former adversaries,Moscow seems to have drawn a red line around one area: nuclearcooperation with Iran. The reason: an $800 million check from Tehran,with more possibly to follow.
The recent dust-up between U.S. and Russian officials over the issueduring meetings in Moscow demonstrated that the single most definingpriority governing President Vladimir Putin's foreign policy iseconomic. In making concessions on strategic issues once unthinkable fora Kremlin ruler, Putin has shown he expects an economic trade-off fromthe West and likewise has evinced little willingness to budge indisputes with an economic cost to Russia.
The same dynamic that has created headaches for U.S. officials worriedabout nuclear proliferation involving Iran also stands to complicate theBush administration's stated goal of a regime change in Iraq. WhileWashington would like to win at least private acquiescence from Putinfor the overthrow of President Saddam Hussein, Russia has even broaderbusiness interests in Iraq's oil fields than it does in Iran's nuclearindustry.
Putin's focus on economic matters, according to analysts, stems from thebelated recognition that Moscow no longer plays the same muscular rolein world affairs it once did. To restore its influence, Putin believes,Russia needs to rebuild an economy that today is smaller than that ofthe Netherlands.
"Economic policy is dictating all the other aspects of internationalrelations," said retired Russian Gen. Vasily Lata, who spent yearsnegotiating arms control agreements. "Putin sees the future of Russia abit further. He sees that without positive economic development, Russiahas no future."
With that in mind, Putin has spent little energy lately fighting thegeopolitical battles of the past. While it still rankles traditionalistshere that U.S. forces have been deployed to former Soviet republics inCentral Asia and that NATO will soon offer membership to former Sovietrepublics in the Baltics, Putin evidently sees little practical gain ina major confrontation. Likewise, once he accepted that President Bushwas determined to scuttle the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of 1972,Putin decided the issue was not worthy of rupturing the relationship.
At the same time, he closed an old Soviet military base at Cam Ranh Bayin Vietnam and the eavesdropping post at Lourdes in Cuba, moves seen asgestures to the West but decisions also driven by economics. Closing theCuba base alone saved an estimated $200 million a year.
"The Cam Ranh base was militarily useless because it was in such badtechnical condition," said retired Gen. Vladimir Dvorkin, a formerleading strategist in the Russian military. "To reconstruct it wouldhave cost a lot and it was even more expensive than the rest."
But as Dvorkin noted, "A lot of our military leaders didn't agree withthe decision." In fact, Putin's concessions collectively have generatedsubstantial resentment within a military establishment less focused oneconomic factors.
And so far, Putin has been able to show few tangible benefits to justifyhis policy to domestic skeptics. Hopes for early admission to the WorldTrade Organization have faded so much that some Moscow analysts nowbelieve it will not even happen until after the next presidentialelection in 2004. While many foreign investors are giving Russia asecond look as a result of the new political climate, the checks haveyet to clear; direct foreign investment decreased by 25 percent in thefirst half of this year.
Putin's policy is predicated on the idea "that concessions on militaryand political issues may encourage economic cooperation, and that'swrong," Alexei Arbatov, one of the most influential members ofparliament, said in an interview. "That won't happen and he'll be leftwith little economic cooperation and a very weak strategic positionafter selling out in a lot of areas."
>From the Russian perspective, the Bush administration has not comethrough with the payoff Putin deserves. The most it has offered has beenofficial U.S. recognition that Russia now has a market economy, adesignation even Kazakhstan had already won.
The biggest symbol of Russia's disappointment has been the Bushadministration's failure to push Congress to lift Jackson-Vanik traderestrictions. Under Jackson-Vanik, a Cold War-era law intended to punishCommunist countries for their repressive emigration policies, Russiamust still win an annual waiver to enjoy normal trading rights with theUnited States -- something even China no longer must do, although it isstill governed by the Communist Party.
Bush aides had hoped to repeal that requirement, first last fall andthen by this spring's Moscow summit with Putin, but so far have gottennowhere.
"America has gotten used to taking Russia for nothing," said Arbatov."The administration doesn't consider itself obliged to live up to itsvery small commitments."
And so as the Americans come calling for more concessions, the Iranissue, long a source of tension, has taken on heightened importance inMoscow.
Just days before a U.S. delegation was due to arrive last month to urgeRussia to halt nuclear cooperation with Iran, Putin's governmentreleased a 10-year plan for expanding its nuclear assistance to Tehran.Not only would Russia complete the $800 million civilian reactorunderway at Bushehr, it would build five more reactors under the plan.
Such a program could be worth another $6 billion to $10 billion toRussia's nuclear industry, depending on the estimate, or roughlyequivalent to the country's entire official annual military budget.
"If one were to calculate the cost of such a plan, it would be quitehigh," said Deputy Atomic Energy Minister Lev Ryabev. "I consider itvery important. These would be respectable, solid financial resources,fairly beneficial contracts. Of course, we show interest."
The same economic interest motivates other Russian policies that concernU.S. officials, such as arms sales to countries the United Statesconsiders hostile. Russia, the world's No. 2 arms supplier, aggressivelypromotes the sale of tanks, planes, ships and other powerful weaponry.
"Why do we do that? Because no NATO country buys our weapons," saidDmitri Babich, foreign editor of the Moscow News. "The market for thesepeople is not with rich Western countries. . . . So where do they go tosell these? They go to China, India and, at worst, Iran."
The recent American visitors, led by Energy Secretary Spencer Abrahamand Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton, tried to make the point thatgood relations with the United States would ultimately be worth more.
"The real question they need to consider eventually is [whether this is]penny-wise and pound foolish," said a senior U.S. official. "Do theywant to do business with us or do business with Iran? In the long termit's very shortsighted."
After Abraham and Bolton complained vigorously, Russian officials backedoff somewhat and described the Iran plan as merely a technical document,hinting that there were disagreements about it within the government.
In an interview, Ryabev confirmed that his boss, Atomic Energy MinisterAlexander Rumyantsev, did not know about the document before it wasreleased. "It was coordinated but not at the top ministerial level," hesaid. "That goes to show that this document is more of a proceduraldirection rather than one of concrete agreements for implementation."
Asked if Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov signed it, as reported, Ryabevsaid: "The prime minister signed it but I'll put it this way: He signedit not as a program between Russia and Iran approved by the government.He signed it as a direction for discussion of this issue for futuretalks between Russia and Iran."
Still, like other Russian officials, Ryabev bristled at the implicationthat Russia's civilian nuclear assistance would help Iran build nuclearweapons. "It all remains just an emotional call to stop suchactivities," he said. "What are the complaints? The specific complaintsfor spreading proliferation? There were no specific complaints." return to menu
2. Russia's Defense Minister Speaks With U.S. Defense Chief
August 15, 2002
(for personal use only)
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov and U.S. Defense Secretary DonaldH. Rumsfeld spoke on the telephone Thursday, discussing plans for ameeting next month that will also include the nations' foreign policychiefs, Russian officials said.
"The telephone conversation addressed preparations for a consultativemeeting of the defense and foreign ministers of Russia and the UnitedStates in September," the Interfax news agency quoted Ivanov's spokesmanNikolai Deryabin as saying.
He said Ivanov and Rumsfeld agreed that the meeting in Washington wouldinclude discussions of security guarantees and armed resistance toterrorism as well as weapons proliferation and worldwide "hot spots"that threaten international security.
The creation of a Consultative Group for Strategic Security, headed bythe foreign policy and defense chiefs of Russia and the United States,was agreed upon during the summit between Presidents George W. Bush andVladimir Putin in May.
U.S. officials have said little about the entity, but Russian officialshave repeatedly said Rumsfeld and Ivanov, along with Russian ForeignMinister Igor Ivanov and U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, willgather in Washington for its first meeting in September. return to menu
1. Minatom Says Binding Plans For Return Of Iranian SNF Ready To Be Signed
August 15, 2002
(for personal use only)
Russia's Nuclear Energy Ministry, Minatom, is finally drawing up legallybinding documents to insure the return of spent nuclear fuel from thereactor it is building in Bushehr, Iran, that it expects will be signedby the end of August, top Ministry officials have said.
The issue of reclaiming the spent nuclear fuel from the $800 millionreactor on the Persian Gulf which is expected to go into service in 2003or 2004 - became a heated issue last month when Ministry documentsleaked to Greenpeace and shown to Bellona Web revealed that Minatom hadno legally binding agreement for the spent fuel's return in place.
When SNF is reprocessed, it yields plutonium that can be used in makingnuclear weapons, and the United States has long contended that Russia'sconstruction of the civil plant is cover for the development of anuclear weapons program in Iran.
Western concerns reached a fever pitch late last month when Russiaannounced sketchy plans to build another five reactors in Iran over thenext ten years - plans Minatom has somewhat toned down after scathingcriticism from US Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham, who visitedMoscow days after the plans were revealed.
First Deputy Atomic Minister Lev Ryabev on Thursday told Bellona Webthat Minatom has drawn up a packet of documents that will insure thefuel's return to Russia "so that Iran cannot use the SNF for any otherpurposes."
"This is a civilian project, as we have said many times, and we aredoing everything possible to guarantee that no possibility formanufacturing weapons can be realized," he said.
But neither Ryabev nor First Deputy Atomic Minister Valery Lebedev wouldprovide any more specifics about the plan - for instance, whether Iranwill be charged to return the fuel to Russia as part of Minatom's planto reap billions in SNF imports, or precisely when the contract would besigned.
"We expect it will be signed by the end of August, but whether we willbe charging or not we cannot say," said a spokesman for Lebedev. Ryabevwas equally vague, saying: "There is still much to be discussedregarding this power bloc."
A spokesman for the US Department of State told Bellona Web that theannouncement of binding documents on the fuel's return was "a positivestep." But the spokesman emphasized that the United States is "stillopposed to this project and we will be monitoring it carefully."
Speaking at a press conference earlier this week, Ryabev repeated thenon-committal stance on building more reactors in Iran that Minatomadopted after a dressing-down by Energy Secretary Abraham, who, whilevisiting Moscow, became the highest ranking US official to publiclysuggest a tie between the Bushehr plant and a possible nuclear weaponsprogram in Iran.
"I would not like to say that we will build only one reactor. But I alsowould not like to say that we will certainly build six or any othernumber of reactors, since any such statements would be premature," saidRyabev to reporters, according to Interfax.
He added, however, that "the most realistic follow-up of the cooperationwould be to complete the second power generating unit of the Bushehrplant. But, so far, there are no corresponding agreements or documents."
Ryabev repeated that there was "no military cooperation between Russiaand Iran in the nuclear area," Interfax reported. But he criticized theAmerican stance on the reactor project as unfounded, saying: "There isonly criticism, and when you ask for documents to prove this concern, nosuch documents are made available. Only an emotional call to stop thiscooperation follows," the agency quoted him as saying. return to menu
E. Russian Nuclear Forces
1. Defense Minister To Visit Division Of Strategic Missile Forces Today
August 16, 2002
(for personal use only)
Defense Minister of the Russian Federation Sergey Ivanov will visit theSouth Ural division of strategic missile forces today. It is equippedwith the most powerful intercontinental ballistic missiles in the world- RS-20. The USA and NATO classified them as Satans or SS-18.
While on a brief working visit, Ivanov will also consider theperspectives for supplying the division with the new generation ofintercontinental ballistic missiles and the possibility of using writtenoff RS-20 missile carriers in space programs. return to menu
2. Defense Minister Says Russia Will Keep Nuclear Triad
August 16, 2002
(for personal use only)
Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said Russia will keep its nuclear triadof air-, land-, and sea-based weapons.
"We intend to keep the nuclear triad in the future, but the governmentgives priority attention to the land component of the strategic nuclearforces," Ivanov told reporters while visiting a Russian StrategicMissile Force regiment in the Chelyabinsk region.
"The RVSN [Strategic Missile Force] has always been an importantmilitary-political factor constraining aggressive tendencies andintentions against Russia and our allies," Ivanov said.
"This was duly reflected in plans for reforming the rocket forcescovering the period up to 2016," he said.
Ivanov said he is quite happy with the current condition of Russia'sstrategic nuclear forces. "We are currently thinking of what we willhave in 2015-2020," Ivanov said. return to menu
3. Russian ICBM Troops No Longer Independent Branch
August 16, 2002
(for personal use only)
The Russian military top does not intend to reinstate strategic missiletroops as separate branch of the Armed Forces, says Nikolai Solovtsev,in command of the troops.
The formal status and personnel strength matter far less than thequality of missile installations on the alert, and practical efforts todevelop nuclear missile arsenals. All three parts of the Russianstrategic nuclear arms will make equal progress with no preference toany. return to menu
4. Russia's Missile Forces Won't Be Rebuilt In Wake Of U.S. Withdrawal FromAbm
August 16, 2002
(for personal use only)
During his Friday visit to a strategic missile unit deployed in theChelyabinsk Region, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said the USwithdrawal from the ABM Treaty would not affect the structure of thatservice of Russia's armed forces.
Ivanov stressed that "the Russian strategic missile forces has been themost important military and political factor to deter aggressiveinclinations and intentions against Russia and its allies. That was therole given to this armed service by the country's leadership." Accordingto the minister, this was reflected also in the plans to reform theStrategic missile Forces, through the year 2016. The defense ministerpointed out that the strategic missile forces' major objective was toarrange its missile systems in accordance with existing and potentialthreats to military security as well as to rationally combine measuresto support troops, maintain their combat readiness and ensure theirsteady development.
Ivanov stressed that "at the same time, we have to fulfil theobligations undertaken under the U.S.-Russian Treaty to reduce strategicoffensive arsenals after its ratification by the Russian and theAmerican legislatures." The minister said the Russian strategic missileforces would keep in service their RS-20 missiles, classified by NATO asSS-18 Satan missiles. These are the world's most powerfulintercontinental missiles. Each has 10 multiple, independentlytargetable reentry vehicle warheads.
According to Ivanov, missile regiments will now be discarded after themissile service terms expire rather than prior to that.
At the same time, Ivanov stressed that the decision to keep the Satanmissiles in service was not made in response to the US abandonment ofthe ABM Treaty. He said "this was a planned step, aimed at developingthis country's nuclear deterrent forces." return to menu
5. Missiles Will Fly In The Opposite Direction
August 15, 2002
The US withdrawal from the ABM treaty of 1972 and the signing of theUS-Russian agreement on cuts to offensive nuclear weapons will enablethe US to create a national missile defense; it will also enable Russiato keep its R-36 Satan multi-warhead ICBMS and unique RS-22 Scalpelrail-based missiles.
Tomorrow, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov is scheduled to visit aStrategic Missile Forces (SMF) division based near the town of Kartaly(Chelyabinsk region). Here there are heavy Intercontinental ballisticmissiles (ICBM) - R-36 or SS-18; the Satan, according to theWesternclassification. It is believed the minister may reveal President Putin'sdecision on changing the concept of reforming the SMF to 2010- 15.
Colonel General Nikolai Solovtsov, SMF Commander: "The new reform planproposes to preserve an R-16 heavy ballistic missile grouping and one ofthe rail-based ICBM divisions (only 12 units of 36 will remain in theKostroma SMF division). According to the previous plan, they weresupposed to be destroyed."
The matter of SMF reform was raised as far back as last year. Its mainideologue was Chief of the General Staff Anatoly Kvashnin, who statedthat four nuclear missile divisions of Russia's 18 would be enough toensure strategic security. Implementing that plan entailed reducing theSMF to a combat arm, so the Space Forces and air defense were withdrawnfrom then.
After the US pulled out from the ABM Treaty of 1972 and the US- Russiantreaty on cuts to offensive nuclear weapons had been signed, RussianPresident Putin decided to reconsider Kvashnin's SMF reform plan.Experts say there were at least two reasons for that. First, the newtreaty, unlike Duma-ratified START II, does not restrict numbers ofRussia's Strategic Nuclear Forces (SNF). The main drawback of START IIwas the need to cut the arsenal of 154 R-36 missiles with 10 nuclearwarheads per missile, which formed the basis of Russia's SNF landgrouping. Besides "Satan", Russian SNF also had to part with RS- 22(SS-24, "Scalpel"), unique rail-based ballistic weapons that were solelyresponsible for making the US multiply its number of spy satellites. Inexchange, Russia was allowed to increase the number of missiles deployedat sea, which in current economic circumstances was practicallyimpossible.
The second reason was the need to make some response to US nationalmissile defense plans. According to professionals, the most efficientand least expensive way to create such a "counterbalance" is to retainthe grouping of multi-warhead ballistic missiles. At the same time, ithas been rumored in the corridors of the SMF headquarters that missiles,space forces, and air defense may be reunited into one structure, as itwas under previous SMF Commander- in-Chief Vladimir Yakovlev.
There remains the question of what is to be done with heavy missileswhose intended lifetime was ten years, but which are now over 15 yearsold.
Nikolai Solovtsov: "Prolonging the operation of heavy missiles will beachieved by rearranging the missiles themselves and their combatinfrastructure. As a result, the missile forces have got a realopportunity to reserve two R-36 bodies in the SMF structure. The issueof another R-36 division is being worked out (in all, Russia had foursuch divisions)."
"Of course, costs will be quite substantial," admits the commander."Funding for this has been included in state arms procurement for 2003.But that will not be enough. Therefore, it could be decided to reducethe number of new Topol-M units to be purchased."
Representatives of the defense sector have a different view of theproblem. They say state arms procurement will not solve all the problemsof SNF development and maintenance. Funding priorities may change; sothere has been no final decision as to how the heavy missile groupingwill be preserved.
"Decisions are made and then changed depending on the situation. I thinkit will always be like that," emphasized Nikolai Solovtsov. It seemsthat the SMF have understood and submitted to the fact they will have tochange horses in mideam. Perhaps more than once. return to menu
F. Russian Defense Budget
1. About 15% Of All Budgetary Expenditures In 2003 To Be Allocated ForNational Defense
August 15, 2002
(for personal use only)
On Thursday Russian Finance Minister and Vice-Premier Aleksei Kudrinreported to journalists that the 2003 budget provided for 346.1 billionrubles (over 11 billion euros), which is 14.9% of all budgetaryexpenditures, for national defense.
According to Kudrin, national defense expenditures in the next year willgrow more than all the other spending. This was related to the increaseof monetary allowance for servicemen, to procurement of militaryequipment, to conducting scientific and research works, to armyrecruitment reform, to increase the number of contract servicemen.
While talking about the current financing of defense items, Kudrinreported that the state defense order was financed fully and timely. Bythe middle of the current year, as was planned, they financed 40 % ofall the expenditures of the defense order.
At the same time, Kudrin indicated that presently the federal budget wasimplemented strictly according to budget revenue and expendituresapproved at the beginning of the year. The Finance minister stated that"today such a mechanism of budget implementation was created that at thebeginning of the year I knew all the amounts which we would spend everymonth and might even predict them on a daily basis." return to menu
G. Russian Nuclear Power Industry
1. Russia: Trilateral Agreement On Nuclear Transport Signed
August 16, 2002
(for personal use only)
Russia, Bulgaria and Ukraine have signed a trilateral agreement, validfor 10 years, allowing the transport of nuclear material between Russiaand Bulgaria, via Ukraine, NucNet reported. A new shipment from theKozloduy nuclear power plant in Bulgaria is now expected to arrive inRussia by the end of this year.
In a separate development, the head of Russian nuclear utilityRosenergoatom, Oleg Saraev, outlined potential costs of life extensionplans at its Novovoronezh-4, Leningrad-1, Kursk-1 and Kola-1 and -2nuclear units. Mr Saraev said the lifetime extension expenses should notexceed 170 US dollars (USD) per 1 kW of installed capacity, comparedwith approximately USD 850 per 1 kW of installed capacity for a newnuclear unit.
Meanwhile, Rosenergoatom says completion work continues at the Kalinin-3nuclear > unit, while work at the Kursk-5, Rostov-2 and Balakovo-5nuclear units is nearing completion. Rosenergoatom says that once inoperation, the nuclear units should cost approximately USD 450 per 1kWof installed capacity.
Also, a train carrying spent nuclear fuel from the South Ukraine nuclearpower plant in Ukraine has arrived at the Zheleznogorsk Mining andChemical works I southern Siberia for reprocessing. Spent nuclear fuelfrom the Kalinin nuclear power plant was also received at Zheleznogorskon the same day. return to menu
2. Russia To Extend Service Of Old Nuclear Reactors
August 15, 2002
(for personal use only)
The state company Rosenergoatom, which manages the country's civiliannuclear-power plants, has announced a long-term investment program thatenvisages extending the term of service for Russia's first-generationreactors, Finmarket reported on 13 August. According to RosenergoatomPresident Oleg Saraev, work to extend the life of the reactors at theNovovoronezhskaya, Leningradskaya, Kurskaya, and Kolskaya nuclear-powerplants will be completed by 2005. At the same time, an unspecifiednumber of new plants where construction has been suspended will becompleted, adding up to 3,200 megawatts of generating capacity. Around2010, the concern will begin construction of a new generation of saferreactors. return to menu
H. Nuclear Terrorism
1. Russia Has Missile Bases, Nuke Arsenals Under Foolproof Guard
August 16, 2002
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The Russian military top rules out whatever danger of nuclear armsstolen or sabotage committed against nuclear arsenals. All such arsenalsand missile bases are under foolproof guard, newsmen heard today fromColonel-General Igor Valynkin, in charge of Board 12 of the DefenceMinistry, which is responsible for nuclear arsenals.
No terrorist gang has the slightest chance to get close to nucleararsenals, let alone penetrate them, reassured Colonel-General NikolaiSolovtsev, in command of strategic missile troops. return to menu
2. Anti-Terrorist Drill Ended At The Kalinin NPP
August 16, 2002
(for personal use only)
Russian soldiers, rescue workers and security officials completed atwo-week anti-terrorism training exercise at the Kalinin nuclear powerplant, officials said Thursday. Federal Security Service officers,Interior Ministry troops and civil defense troops the plant's personnelfor the exercise, which ended Wednesday, the national nuclear powerutility Rosenergoatom said. The purpose of the exercise was to honeskills for preventing acts of nuclear terrorism and to perfectcoordination between Rosenergoatom and other federal agencies in theevent of an emergency. return to menu
Russian military, emergency and security personnel have completed atwo-week anti-terrorism training exercise at a nuclear power plant,officials of the Rosenergoatom national nuclear power agency saidyesterday.
The exercise was meant to train personnel to prevent attacks againstnuclear plants and to develop better coordination between Rosenergoatomand other Russian agencies, officials said. It took place at the Kalininnuclear plant near Udomlya in the Tver region. The exercise scenarioinvolved a group of terrorists that scouted out and advanced on thefacility.
"We must be in a permanent state of combat readiness," said RussianDeputy Atomic Energy Minister Anatoliy Kotelnikov. "Our system ofmeasures for protecting nuclear facilities exists, and is sufficientlyreliable." return to menu
I. Former Soviet Republics
1. Central Asia: UN Official To Discuss Treaty On Nuclear-Free Zone
Radio Free Europe
August 15, 2002
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The top United Nations official for disarmament affairs, JayanthaDhanapala, embarked yesterday on a lengthy visit to Central Asia. Thevisit will focus on a draft treaty now under negotiation to create aregion-wide nuclear-weapons-free zone. Dhanapala will also address theissues of small arms and light weapons, transparency in armamentstrading, and the threat of terrorism.
Nations Undersecretary-General for Disarmament Affairs JayanthaDhanapala arrived yesterday in Tajikistan, the first leg in a two-weekvisit to the five Central Asian republics.
The visit will focus on a draft treaty to create a regionalnuclear-weapons-free zone in Central Asia now being negotiated byTajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan.
The idea to create a nuclear-free zone was originally proposed in the1997 Almaty Declaration following a summit meeting of the presidents ofall five states.
The UN declined to comment on Dhanapala's visit while it was still underway. But Christopher Langton, an analyst at the London-basedInternational Institute for Strategic Studies, described the aims of theUN in the region. "This [UN] initiative is, in brief, to lay the groundfor future work, both for the removal of existing nuclear assets fromthe region where they may exist, and also to lay the ground foragreement on nonproliferation. There are facilities from the Soviet erawhich have not been properly shut down because the countries concerneddon't have the means to do it. And if one is being utterly frank, theinternational community has not helped them to do it, even though insome cases [the countries] have requested assistance," Langton said.
The UN has adopted three resolutions to provide assistance to theCentral Asian states in order to aid progress on the nuclear-free-zonetreaty. But Langton noted that no noticeable progress has yet been made.The analyst said Dhanapala's visit is a reflection of how recent eventsin Afghanistan and the war on terrorism have put Central Asia's"dangerous assets" in the international spotlight. In addition tohosting numerous nuclear facilities, Central Asia is also a hub ofsmall-arms proliferation.
Langton said the UN, whose drug-control and crime-prevention agency isalready fighting narcotics trafficking in the region, could be useful incontrolling the small-arms trade. Both the UN Small Arms ProliferationProject and the UN Register of Conventional Arms, he added, could bemuch more effective with added international support.
Langton said large amounts of Soviet-era military hardware and nuclearmaterials remain in Central Asia. This, combined with Central Asia'ssecurity risks and porous borders, have drawn attention to the risk thatradioactive materials might be easily stolen. "[Small weapons] havebecome the currency of drug smugglers and smugglers of any commodities.One of those commodities might well be nuclear material. It is possible.So the problem needs to be looked at realistically, and from the pointof view of smuggling of any dangerous material, whatever it is, andagainst the background of the proliferation of small arms," Langtonsaid.
In June, the International Atomic Energy Agency said "uncontrolledradioactive sources" were "widespread" in Central Asia's five formerSoviet republics. The IAEA has reported 181 cases of illicit traffickingof nuclear materials worldwide between 1993 and the end of 2001.
Anxiety over the issue was heightened with the May arrest of JosePadilla, an American citizen and alleged Al-Qaeda operative accused ofplanning to build a so-called "dirty bomb" -- a conventional explosivepacked with radioactive waste -- to be used in the U.S. Padillareportedly traveled to Central Asia in April hoping to buy radioactivematerials.
John Pike is the director of the Virginia-based globalsecurity.orginformation firm. He told RFE/RL that the UN has laid down anappropriate policy agenda, even if doesn't have the money to implementthat agenda. He said the UN, unlike the U.S., is playing an importantrole in helping to unify the fractious Central Asian states. "The UnitedNations is not perceived as having any ulterior motive or a largergeopolitical agenda. The United Nations is able to serve as an impartialconvener of these meetings and bring together countries that otherwisemight not be eager to meet with each other to discuss these commonproblems," Pike said.
The U.S. does have an array of programs run by the U.S. Customs Serviceand departments of energy, state, and defense, aimed at controllingnuclear smuggling. As of June, the U.S. had spent more than $90 millionon equipping more than 30 countries, including Central Asia, withradiation-detection equipment, mobile X-ray vans, inspection tools, andtraining. Just before 11 September, about 80 customs and borderofficials from the five Central Asian republics participated in athree-week training course in Texas, focusing on radioactive contraband.
This year, the George W. Bush administration has indicated it may spendup to $25 million to help find radioactive material in the former SovietUnion. But Pike said he doubts these funds will significantly improveinspection methods. "The amount of assistance that's been provided thusfar for detecting nuclear smuggling is relatively small, and I thinkcost-effective, and [is] potentially deterring smugglers. The problem,of course, is that this detection equipment is only in place at themajor border-crossing areas. And presumably anybody who is going to betrying to smuggle the nuclear material would find some other lessclosely observed part of the border to try to get across," Pike said.
In recent years, however, agents have stopped severalradioactive-materials smugglers on or near the borders of Central Asia.Thanks in part to portable radiation "pagers" provided by the U.S.,Uzbek authorities in March 2000 seized 10 radioactive lead containersconcealed in scrap metal in a truck entering from Kazakhstan. The U.S.Customs Service reported that the Iranian driver of the truck and hiscargo were bound for Pakistan.
Before defining just how much money it will take to address the problemadequately, Pike said that radioactive materials should be quantified.He called for an accounting of all sources of radiological materials,such as hospitals, labs, and industrial facilities, as well as acomprehensive inventory of radioactive materials like plutonium,uranium, and certain isotopes of strontium, cesium, and cobalt. At thesame time, he said, control over these materials should be tightened."The initial challenge is simply to understand what sort of materialsthere are, where they are located, who is using them. And then thesecond challenge is to develop a consistent set of security standards tomake it at least a little more difficult for criminals to steal thismaterial and put in onto the black market," Pike said.
In the past 10 years, efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear materialshave had some success in Kazakhstan -- a Soviet-era nuclear-armsproducer -- by dismantling its nuclear factories and removing nuclearweapons from its soil. But, Pike said, small-scale radiological sabotagestill has to be suppressed.
In April, Moscow and Washington announced the formation of a joint taskforce to study how to secure radioactive sources in Russia. A similarapproach, however, still has to be created for Central Asia.
Pike said the international community remains uncertain how muchattention it should dedicate to detecting possible sources ofradioactive material. For its part, he added, the U.S. government hasnot yet issued new guidelines for domestic radiological security. return to menu
1. UN Official Voices Optimism Central Asia Could BecomeNuclear-Weapon-Free Zone
United Nations News Service
August 14, 2002
The top United Nations disarmament official today said he was optimisticthat five Central Asian countries could agree to a treaty banningnuclear weapons from the region.
Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs Jayantha Dhanapala, inTajikistan for the first leg of his five-nation tour of the region, saidin an interview with UN Radio that he thought making Central Asia anuclear-weapon-free zone was an "extremely realistic" idea.
"It is an indigenous proposal - it is not a proposal that has beenimposed by anybody outside the zone," Mr. Dhanapala said, noting thatthe plan arose originally in 1997 through the Almaty Declaration andthrough a UN General Assembly resolution co-sponsored by Tajikistan,Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.
"We have negotiated most of the treaty," he added. "What now remains tobe done is to spell out in detail the security assurances for thesecountries from both the nuclear weapons States and from others in theneighbouring region."
In addition to the proposal for a nuclear-weapons-free zone, Mr.Dhanapala said that he and President Emomali Rahmonov had also discussedthe issue of small arms in the country.
"It appears that they have been able to overcome the substantial part ofthe problem," Mr. Dhanapala said, noting, however, that there remained adanger from Afghanistan because the two countries shared a long borderand there was always the danger of an overspill of arms following theAfghanistan conflict. return to menu
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