Partnership for Global Security: Leading the World to a Safer Future
Home Projects Publications Issues Official Documents About RANSAC Nuclear News 4/15/13
Location: Home / Projects & Publications / News
Sitemap Contact
Google www PGS
Nuclear News - 09/18/02
RANSAC Nuclear News, September 18, 2002
Compiled by David Smigielski

A. Russia-U.S
    1. Defence Minister Of Russia Begins His Visit To USA, RIA Novosti, September 18, 2002
    2. Russia Is Prepared To Cooperate With US In The Area Of Strategic Missile Defense Only On A Parity Basis, Olga Semenova, RIA Novosti, September 18, 2002
    3. U.S. Slaps Sanctions On 3 Defense Contractors, Lyuba Pronina, Moscow Times, September 16, 2002
    4. Moscow Announced The Inappropriateness Of Us Sanctions Against Three Russian Defense Enterprises, Aleksander Smotrov, RIA Novosti, September 13, 2002
B. Russia-Iran
    1. U.S. Uneasy At Russian Company Building Nuclear Reactor In Iran, Douglas Birch, Baltimore Sun, September 13, 2002
    2. USA Receives A Few Answers To Questions On Russia's Cooperation With Iran, RIA Novosti, September 13, 2002
C. Russia-NATO
    1. Baltics Deny They'll Deploy Nuke Weapons, Associated Press, September 19, 2002
D. HEU Transfer
    1. US And Russia Agree To Move Highly Enriched Uranium From Uzbekistan,, September 13, 2002
E. Submarine Dismantlement
    1. Nuclear Official Frets Over Spent Sub Fuel, Anatoly Medetsky, Associated Press, September 18, 2002
    2. Russian Official On Utilization Of Nuclear Submarines Whose Service Life Is Over, Anatoly Ilyukhov, RIA Novosti, September 17, 2002
    3. UK Ready To Invest $125m In Nuclear Subs Disposal In Russian Far East, RBC, September 16, 2002
F. Russian Nuclear Power Industry
    1. Russia's Nuke Industry Wants To Clean Up PR Image, Charles Digges, Bellona, September 16, 2002
G. Nuclear Terrorism/Smuggling
    1. Practical Training Within IAEA International Project In Vladivostok, Anatoly Ilyukhov, RIA Novosti, September 16, 2002
H. Announcements
    1. Georgy Mamedov, Deputy Foreign Minister And Russia's Political Director In The Group Of Eight, Meets With Gianfranco Facco Bonetti, Italian Ambassador To Moscow, Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, September 17, 2002
    2. Joint Statement: Secretary Abraham, Minister Rumyantsev, U.S. Department of Energy, September 16, 2002
    3. IAEA Verification Of Weapon-Origin Fissile Material In The Russian Federation And The United States, 46th IAEA General Conference, September 16, 2002
    4. On The Course Of The Ratification In The State Duma Of The Russia-USA Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty, Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, September 13, 2002
I. Links of Interest
    1. Statement To The Forty-Sixth Regular Session Of The IAEA General Conference 2002, Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, IAEA General Conference, September 16, 2002
    2. Assistant Secretary Of State For Nonproliferation John Wolf Provides Details On G-8 Global Partnership Against The Spread Of Weapons And Materials Of Mass Destruction, Monterey Institute of International Affairs, September 9, 2002

A. Russia-U.S.

Defence Minister Of Russia Begins His Visit To USA
RIA Novosti
September 18, 2002
(for personal use only)

Today, Minister of Defence of the Russian Federation Sergei Ivanov isbeginning his three-day visit to the USA. He will participate in thefirst meeting of the Russian-U.S. Consultative Group on StrategicSecurity set up upon the decision of the presidents of Russia and theUSA in the course of their Moscow summit last May. The Group is led bythe heads of military and diplomatic departments of the two countries.

The Russian Minister also intends to discuss with the heads of USlaw-enforcement bodies and secret services the possibilities ofinteraction of the two countries in the struggle against internationalterrorism and proliferation of mass-destruction weapons.

RIA Novosti learned from diplomatic sources that the Russian DefenceMinister would leave the USA for Portugal and Spain for short visits,and then for Poland. An informal meeting of the Defence Ministers of theNATO countries to which the head of the Russian military agency wasinvited will be held there on September 24th-25th.
return to menu

Russia Is Prepared To Cooperate With US In The Area Of Strategic MissileDefense Only On A Parity Basis
Olga Semenova
RIA Novosti
September 18, 2002
(for personal use only)

According to the report of the RIA Novosti correspondent, first deputychief of General Staff of the Russian Armed forces, Colonel-General YuriBaluyevsky stated at Shannon airport on the way to the USA to where hewas accompanying Russian Defense minister Sergei Ivanov, that Russiawould cooperate with the USA "in the area of strategic anti-missiledefense but only on a parity principle based on a legitimate component."In the opinion of the General, such cooperation is mutuallyadvantageous. Nevertheless, according to him, "Russia and the USA bothhave the laws presently prohibiting them to ensure full-scalecooperation in this sensitive area." That was why Baluyevsky wasadvocating creation by both countries of the necessary legal basis. Heemphasized that "cooperation with the USA in the missile defense areamight provide Russia with a good impulse to develop those technologiesin which presently we were seriously lagging behind." Baluyevsky statedthat "at the same time Russia, on its part, was prepared to propel theUSA forward through application of its own developments." According tohim, "the most important is this area is not to have the US-developedanti-missile defense system aimed at Russia." He also appealed "toclearly determine that the information which we are going to exchangewith the USA will never become property of a third party." The Generalstated that Russia was constantly insisting on that but the USA showedno preparedness to do that." He added further that, "according toWashington, the strategic national missile defense system would ensurethe security not only of the USA but also of its friends and allies."Nevertheless the matter is "whether Russia becomes a US friend or allyand whether the USA will ensure our coverage by their strategic NMDsystem."
return to menu

U.S. Slaps Sanctions On 3 Defense Contractors
Lyuba Pronina
Moscow Times
September 16, 2002
(for personal use only)

The United States has blacklisted three Russian defense contractors itsays are "transferring lethal military equipment" to countriessupporting terrorism.

The companies, all state owned, are Rostvertol, which manufactures theMi-24 attack helicopter and the giant Mi-26 transport helicopter; theTula Design Bureau of Instrument Building, or KBP, which makesanti-aircraft and anti-tank systems; and Bazalt, which makes grenadesand other munitions.

"It is the policy of the United States government to deny all U.S.government assistance, contracts and defense-related licenses to theseentities," the department bureau of nonproliferation said late Thursdayin the public notice printed in the official Federal Register.

"We made the determination that these three companies were involved inthe transfer of weapons to state sponsors of terrorism and we aredeclaring them sanctioned under American law," a U.S. State Departmentofficial said by telephone from Washington on Friday.

Those "state sponsors of terrorism" are Syria, Sudan and Libya,according to The New York Times, but the official would neither confirmnor deny the report.

While of little consequence commercially, the sanctions, which will bereviewed in one year, added fuel to the growing political fire betweenthe two Cold War foes over a range of issues, including Georgia andIraq.

Government officials and the enterprises themselves all expressedoutrage and astonishment at the move, which was compounded by astatement released by Washington the same day slamming PresidentVladimir Putin for threatening to carry out attacks on Chechen rebelbases in neighboring Georgia.

"Military-technology cooperation between Russia and these countries isabsolutely legitimate," Foreign Ministry spokesman Boris Malakhov wasquoted by Interfax as saying.

"We are particularly disappointed that such a groundless action wastaken by our partner in the anti-terror coalition," he said. "Ourdemarche has been made known to the American side."

Visiting U.S. Undersecretary of State John Bolton defended thesanctions, saying they had to be imposed because U.S. laws regardingterrorism had been violated.

KBP's deputy chief designer, Leonid Roshal, said by telephone Fridaythat the sanctions were an attempt by Washington to divert the attentionof the world community away from its policies on Iraq and Georgia.

"U.S. officials have clearly stepped up their confrontation with Russiaand decided to squeeze a few Russian enterprises that bear no relationto them," Roshal said, adding that his company's work would not beaffected.

"We are not under the command of the U.S. State Department," he said.

"Experience shows that Russian weapons, air defense systems andanti-tank systems are better than the Americans', and that makes theU.S. nervous," he said.

Roshal said this is the third time the State Department has blacklistedKBP. The last time was after the company delivered Kornet-E anti-tankmissiles to Syria in 1998. "They said that by delivering the Kornetmissiles to Syria we considerably weakened the capabilities of Israel,America's strategic partner," he said.

He added that KBP had not signed any contracts with Syria since then andit has only held talks with Sudan and Libya.

He said his company's main clients are China, India, the United ArabEmirates and Greece.

A Rostvertol spokesman was quoted by The Associated Press as saying thatthe sanctions are just an attempt by Washington to edge Russiancompanies out of a competitive market, noting that his company had justsigned deals with countries in South America and Asia.

In 2000 and 2001, Rostvertol delivered as many as 10 Mi-24 helicoptersto Sudan, according to Marat Kenzhetayev, an expert with the Center forArms Control think tank in Moscow.

Rostvertol has also sold dozens helicopters to Syria and Libya,according to the London-based International Institute for StrategicStudies.

As for Bazalt, Kenzhetayev said it had sold a few thousand anti-tankgrenades to Sudan.

State-owned arms export monopoly Rosoboronexport declined to commentFriday.

But the head of the agency, Andrei Belyaninov, said last month that itworks "within the international obligations that Russia has."

"Therefore, we do not work with countries where there are internationalbans," he said.

The last time the United States imposed sanctions on Russian entitieswas in 1999, when President Bill Clinton's administration blacklistedseveral Russian companies and institutes, including the ScientificResearch and Design Institute of Power Technology, the MendeleyevUniversity of Chemical Technology and the Moscow Aviation Institute.

Washington said they were guilty of breaking nonproliferation agreementson missile and nuclear technology cooperation with Iran.
return to menu

Moscow Announced The Inappropriateness Of Us Sanctions Against ThreeRussian Defense Enterprises
Aleksander Smotrov
RIA Novosti
September 13, 2002
(for personal use only)

On Friday night Boris Malakhov, deputy official representative of theRussian Foreign Ministry's representative, stated that Moscow declaredthe inappropriateness and its resolute unacceptability of sanctionsintroduced by the USA against three Russian defense enterprises.

According to him, on 4 September the American side officially informedthe Russian Foreign Ministry that it introduced sanctions against threeRussian defense enterprises: State Unitary enterprise "Design BureauPriborostroyeniye", Federal state unitary enterprise "Bazalt" and thejoint-stock "Rostvertol" company justifying the move by shipments ofRussian military equipment to Libya, Syria and Sudan.

On 12 September senior Deputy US State Secretary John Bolton wasreceived in the Russian Foreign Ministry where he was informed of theinappropriateness of such actions. Malakhov stated that "our demarchewas brought to the attention of the American side also through otherchannels." The Russian diplomat stressed that "Russia was especiallysurprised by the fact that such an unjustified step was made by itspartner in the anti-terrorist coalition." He reminded that no decisionsof an international character to prohibit or limit shipments ofarmaments to Libya, Syria or Sudan existed. Boris Malakhov stated that"military and technical cooperation between Russia and those countrieswas absolutely legitimate, moreover it was of an extremely limitedcharacter." According to him, Russia was engaged in export of armamentson the basis of its national, among them economic, interests. He pointedout that the Russian Foreign ministry, other departments were in thisconnection undertaking necessary measures to protect rights andinterests of Russian enterprises involved in military and technicalcooperation with foreign states.

In addition to that Boris Malakhov concluded that the Russian Federationin general was "carrying out a responsible policy in the area oftransfer of armaments and was strictly adhering to provisions of the UNCharter, all resolutions of the UN Security Council and the UN GeneralAssembly, UN governing principles in relation to international shipmentsof armaments dated 6 December 1991 as well as to all its obligationswithin the framework of international regimes of non-proliferation andexport control."
return to menu

B. Russia-Iran

U.S. Uneasy At Russian Company Building Nuclear Reactor In Iran
Douglas Birch
Baltimore Sun
September 13, 2002
(for personal use only)

By many measures, the high-tech, state-controlled company calledAtomstroyexport is a shining example of Russia's progress towardcapitalism. It has won overseas orders worth billions of dollars and isseeking new business that would employ tens of thousands of highlyskilled workers.

But Atomstroyexport - from the words for Atomic Construction Export - isalso a source of growing concern for the Bush administration, which ispressuring Russian President Vladimir V. Putin to halt the company'swork on a nuclear power plant in Iran.

About 600 Atomstroyexport workers recently began assembling the reactorand turbine generator for the Bushehr nuclear power plant in the Iraniancity of Halileh, on the coast of the Persian Gulf.

The Bush administration, and many Russians, fear that Iran will use the$840 million, 1,000 megawatt reactor to produce the highly enricheduranium or plutonium necessary for nuclear weapons.

Officials at Atomstroyexport, which serves as the marketing arm ofRussia's atomic energy ministry, Minatom, insist that the design of thereactor and an agreement for Russia to acquire the power plant's usedfuel render the project harmless.

Minatom has also proposed five more reactors in Iran over the nextdecade, for $6 billion to $10 billion.

"Russia in principle is not interested in the proliferation of nuclearweapons," Viktor V. Kozlov, general director of Atomstroyexport, said aninterview this week. " ... Russia is cooperating in the construction ofthe power plant here because it is absolutely sure that that is not thesituation."

U.S. officials have described the power plant as the most divisive issuein Russian-American relations. U.S. Undersecretary of State John Bolton,who arrived here yesterday, is expected to raise it again in his talkswith Russian officials.

U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, in remarks last month, summarizedthe administration's skepticism: "We have long been concerned thatIran's only interest in nuclear civil power, given its vast domesticenergy resources, is to support its nuclear weapons program."

Threat to U.S., Russia

Many Russians share these concerns.

"The construction of the nuclear unit is the preliminary stage which isobligatory for the future nuclear program, which will result in Iranobtaining the technology of making nuclear weapons," Maxim Shingarkin, aformer colonel in Russia's strategic weapons program, said.

Highly enriched uranium and plutonium are inevitably produced in theuranium used as nuclear fuel in reactors. Minatom officials say theirdesign minimizes the quantities being produced, reducing the risk thatBushehr will help Iran develop nuclear weapons.

Robert Norris, a nuclear expert with the Natural Resources DefenseCouncil in Washington, agreed yesterday that the Russian reactor designproduces less plutonium than some others. But he said the reactors canstill be used to produce such material. "You haven't eliminated theproblem," he said. "You've lessened it somewhat."

Minatom pledges to take custody of the Bushehr's used fuel and eitheralter it or dispose of it, so the Iranians can't reprocess it -chemically refine the metal to yield the small amounts of plutonium andenriched uranium it will contain.

Control of the spent fuel is the critical consideration, Norris said. IfIran is intent on building nuclear weapons and obtains used nuclearfuel, reprocessing it "is well within the capability of Iranianscientists."

But critics here wonder what will happen if the Iranians ignore theagreements for spent fuel.

"After four years, Iran will have enough plutonium for 10 bombs," saidShingarkin, who now works for the environmental group Greenpeace.

Iranian officials note that Iran is a signatory of the NuclearNon-Proliferation Treaty, by which it pledges not to acquire nuclearweapons. Gholam Reza Shafei, Iran's ambassador to Russia, told reportersin February, "There is nothing about production of nuclear weapons inthe agreement signed between Russia and Iran on use of the atom forpeaceful purposes."

Radzhab Safarov, director of Russia's Iranian Studies Center in Moscow,said he assumed Iran was seeking nuclear weapons, in part because of thepresence of nuclear powers in the region, including Israel and Pakistan,and the presumed nuclear weapons program of Iraq.

"I don't know for sure, but I can suppose that it would be reasonableand logical under the circumstances that the country would deal with itssecurity properly," Safarov said. "And security in modern times isprovided by powerful weapons."

Other Russian officials fear that Iran could export nuclear technologyand weapons to Islamic rebels in the former Soviet states of Uzbekistan,Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Muslim separatists are also fighting Russianrule in Chechnya.

"Iran has not abandoned the idea of exporting the Islamic revolution,"said Sergei S. Mitrokhin, a member of the Yabloko faction in Russia'sparliament. "Nuclear weapons in the hands of Iran will be a huge threatto Russia. And it will be a bigger threat for Russia than for the UnitedStates."

Minatom inherited control of Russia's nuclear weapons and its agingnuclear power plants in 1992. It is a vast agency with about 300institutes and production facilities, and more than a million peoplelive in cities built around Minatom plants. Some of those cities remainoff-limits to foreigners.

"Minatom is a state inside a state, which has its own budget, its owncities and of course its own foreign policy," Mitrokhin said.

Corruption charges

Minatom, along with other Russian bureaucracies, has been accused ofpervasive corruption. The state Accounting Chamber reported in Januarythat $270 million in U.S. and European aid earmarked for improving thestorage sites for radioactive waste had vanished.

The Bushehr nuclear project, begun 30 years ago for the former shah bythe German firm Siemens, was 85 percent complete when the Islamicrevolution swept Iran in 1979. During the Iran-Iraq war, in the 1980s,the site was repeatedly bombed by Iraq.

After the war, Iran decided to complete at least one reactor there. WhenWestern countries declined to help, Iran in 1995 turned to Minatom.

Alexei Yablokov, then environmental adviser to President Boris N.Yeltsin, learned that secret parts of the contract between Minatom andIran called for construction of facilities specifically designed toproduce material suitable for nuclear weapons.

When Yablokov told Yeltsin about those provisions, Yeltsin canceled thecontract. But Yablokov has said he fears that Minatom continued to helpIran acquire weapons technology.

Yablokov, now a member of a presidential commission for monitoringradioactive materials, is convinced that Iran's goals haven't changed."Iran is still seeking to have access to nuclear weapons," he said.

Asked why an oil-rich state would need nuclear power, Kozlov repliedwith soothing equanimity, "Nuclear power in the future will be veryimportant for all countries. Yes, Iran has fuel. Maybe enough for today,but who knows about tomorrow?"

He noted that, a decade ago, Minatom planned to build a nuclear powerstation in North Korea, but Washington intervened by citing the dangerthat the regime would use material and technology from the power plantto build nuclear weapons.

"And we stopped," Kozlov said. The Clinton administration, along withJapan and South Korea, then promised to provide North Korea with tworeactors, in exchange for North Korea promising to suspend its weaponsdevelopment. The Bush White House has stuck with that plan.

"I think that if we leave Iran, after five or 10 years the United Stateswill build a nuclear power station in Iran, or some other competitorwill," Kozlov said.

In a recent opinion piece in The Boston Globe, Rep. Edward J. Markey, aMassachusetts Democrat, conceded the point. "As long as the UnitedStates is engaged in a deal that would hand over two nuclear reactors toNorth Korea," he wrote, "why isn't it appropriate for the Russians toengage in a similar deal with Iran?" He called for cancellation of bothprojects.

Under U.S. pressure, Ukraine scrapped a $45 million deal to supplyturbines to Bushehr four years ago. But analysts here say Washingtonnever made good on its promises of new investment to make up for theloss.

Kozlov dismissed accusations that Minatom was not answerable to thegovernment. "Our activities are completely under state control," hesaid. "We were able to start negotiations with Iran only after the statesigned an intergovernmental agreement. We have no right to do anythingwithout permission."

Russia is building five nuclear power-generating reactors, two each inChina and India as well as the one in Iran.
return to menu

USA Receives A Few Answers To Questions On Russia's Cooperation WithIran
RIA Novosti
September 13, 2002
(for personal use only)

The USA has received a few answers to the questions regardingWashington's concern about Russia's cooperation with Iran, said USDeputy Secretary of State John Bolton at a press conference in Moscow.During his latest visit to Moscow about a month ago, he handed theRussian side a number of documents for consideration, he said. In thesedocuments the USA expressed its concern about Russia's cooperation withIran. "This meant the steps that could be taken in order to reducecooperation with Iran connected with creating weapons of massdestruction," Bolton stated.

His current visit to Moscow is the next step, he said. Answers given byMoscow will be studied and taken into account. The results will bepresented at the first coming session of the Russian Americanconsultative group on strategic stability issues scheduled for September20th in Washington. Foreign and Defence Ministers of the two countrieswill participate in the session.
return to menu

C. Russia-NATO

Baltics Deny They'll Deploy Nuke Weapons
Associated Press
September 19, 2002
(for personal use only)

Officials in the three ex-Soviet Baltic republics on Tuesday deniedRussian suggestions that they planned to deploy nuclear weapons in theirnations when, as expected, they join NATO in a few years.

An unnamed Russian Defense Ministry source was quoted as telling theInterfax-Military News Agency Monday that "we have information that someBaltic heads have already expressed their readiness to deploy any typeof NATO weapon, including tactical nuclear arms, after their countriesjoin the alliance."

Baltic leaders and defense officials unanimously denied the claim.

"Such Russian fears are completely ungrounded," Lithuanian DefenseMinister Linas Linkevicius said.

Latvian Prime Minister Andris Berzins said the U.S.-led defensivealliance hasn't even broached the issue of putting nuclear arms in hiscountry.

"And we don't see any future need for them to do so," he said in aninterview at his office in Riga, the capital.

Estonian Defense Ministry spokesman Madis Mikko said Estonia hasn'tcategorically ruled out the option but that "in the foreseeable futurethere are no plans," to deploy nuclear weapons.

The Baltics made NATO membership a top priority after they regainedindependence during the 1991 Soviet collapse. Moscow has said the entryof the nations along Russia's northwest flank would be seen as asecurity threat.

The Baltic states, with combined populations of 8 million people, areexpected to win invitations to join the alliance during a key NATOsummit in Prague in two months. Seven other nations are also vying formembership.
return to menu

D. HEU Transfer

US And Russia Agree To Move Highly Enriched Uranium From Uzbekistan
September 13, 2002
(for personal use only)

The US and Russia have announced plans to move approximately 70kilogrammes of highly enriched uranium (HEU) from a research reactor inUzbekistan, due to 'insufficiently guarded borders' with neighboringstates Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan, NucNet reported citingthe Nuclear Society of Russia.

Officials say the HEU, currently stored at the Institute of NuclearPhysics of the Uzbekistan Academy of Sciences in Ulugbek - which housesa 10 MW water research reactor - is considered to be in a vulnerablecondition due to the reactor's proximity to "unstable" countries. Thehead of the Russian atomic energy ministry's public relationsdepartment, Nikolai Shingarev, confirmed that the joint operation willgo ahead within the "next month or two", but he gave no further details.He added that all HEU shipments "are delivered with reinforced guard".

The development follows a recent announcement by the US Department ofEnergy (DOE), detailing the successful removal of approximately 50 kg ofHEU from the Vinca Institute in Belgrade, in co-operation with theInternational Atomic Energy Agency. US energy secretary Spencer Abrahamsaid the material will be converted to low enriched uranium (LEU) inRussia.
return to menu

E. Submarine Dismantlement

Nuclear Official Frets Over Spent Sub Fuel
Anatoly Medetsky
Associated Press
September 18, 2002
(for personal use only)

A nuclear official has raised alarm bells about the storage of spentnuclear fuel from Russian nuclear submarines, saying the facilities usedto store the material are inadequate and that security around thefacilities is frighteningly lax.

Viktor Akhunov, head of the Nuclear Power Ministry's department ofecology and decommissioning, told an international conference on nuclearsecurity in Vladivostok on Monday that corrosion is eating away at thehulls of 39 ships that store spent nuclear fuel from submarines.

He declined to say where the ships were based or how much fuel theycontained, but said the corrosion on their hulls poses "the greatestdanger." He said two such ships had been decommissioned over the pasttwo years, and one of them was already six years past its intended lifespan.

Akhunov also said security is lacking and storage facilities dilapidatedat the military bases around the country that store spent nuclear fuelfrom 170 submarines. Four of those bases are located in the Far East, hesaid.

Of the 190 Russian submarines that have been decommissioned since theend of the 1980s, only 71 have been dismantled and had their nuclearfuel removed, Akhunov said. Others remain docked off the Pacific coastand in the Arctic Ocean, waiting to be salvaged.

Two of the submarines have had accidents in their reactors, andsalvaging them could be dangerous, said Vladimir Shishkin, chiefdesigner of the Nuclear Power Ministry's Institute for Energy EquipmentResearch and Design, who also spoke at the Vladivostok conference.

The government plans to build a special shelter to store the submarinesuntil the fission capability in their nuclear reactors ends in about 300years, he said.

Akhunov said the current federal budget assigns the equivalent of $70million to improve nuclear safety in the country -- the most fundingallotted since the breakup of the Soviet Union but still insufficient tomeet the program's basic needs. He said Russia plans to salvage 131submarines by 2010 -- an effort that will cost $3.9 billion.

Akhunov said several projects to improve the storage and reprocessing ofspent nuclear fuel are dogged by a lack of funding. He said his ministrywas trying to drum up $7 million in foreign funding to upgrade arailroad link that would connect the Zvezda storage plant in the FarEast with a reprocessing facility.

He also said a new construction project -- to be a nuclear fuel storagebase at Razboinik Bay near Vladivostok -- lacks sufficient funds. Thebase would store fuel from 19 submarines in the bay that are currentlybeing kept afloat with pontoons.

The Razboinik Bay project gained urgency after two decommissionedsubmarines sank off the northeastern Kamchatka Peninsula in 1997 and1999, said Pacific Fleet Vice Admiral Nikolai Yurasov, who overseesnuclear safety in the navy. The submarines were quickly raised andcaused no environmental damage, he said.
return to menu

Russian Official On Utilization Of Nuclear Submarines Whose Service LifeIs Over
Anatoly Ilyukhov
RIA Novosti
September 17, 2002
(for personal use only)

Three written-off nuclear submarines of the Russian Pacific Fleet whichare in the state of emergency and utilization of which is impossiblehave long been moored in the Maritime Territory in the Far East ofRussia, deputy Head of the Ministry of Atomic Energy of Russia ValeryLebedev said in Vladivostok on Tuesday. He is participating in theinternational conference on the problems of utilization of nuclearsubmarines and development of the nuclear power industry which is beingheld here.

According to the official, the construction of sarcophagi for the firsttwo of the above-mentioned submarines will begin in 2003. Theapproximate cost of the operation is 18 million dollars. It is plannedto build a sarcophagus for the third submarine, too, in the longer term.

Valery Lebedev stated that, to more dynamically do the work on utilizingthe written-off nuclear submarines, the construction of a burial forsolid radioactive waste and one-compartment reactors will start at theZvezda plant at the town of Bolshoi Kamen in the Maritime Territory nextyear.

The Deputy Minister noted that the problem of storing nuclear waste isas serious. According to him, the two burials of radioactive materialswhich exist in the Russian Far East are in the state of emergency andneed urgent repair.
return to menu

UK Ready To Invest $125m In Nuclear Subs Disposal In Russian Far East
September 16, 2002
(for personal use only)

The main aim of the conference Ecological Problems of Disposal ofNuclear Submarines and the Development of Nuclear Energy in the Regionis to attract foreign investments in the disposal of nuclear waste anddismantling of decommissioned nuclear submarines. As Russian DeputyNuclear Energy Minister Valery Lebedev declared, maintenance ofradiological security is not a national but a global task, theVostok-Media news agency reported. "We have long been cooperating withforeigners at the Northern Fleet, and now we want to show foreigninvestors that there are the same problems here in the Far East," thedeputy minister pointed out.

In Lebedev's opinion, Russian specialists perfectly know the technicalaspects of the disposal of radioactive materials, and only financing isrequired from foreign partners. The most important thing is that infact, the foreign representatives do not oppose such 'division oflabor.'

An official of the Department of Trade and Industry of the UK declaredthat his country was ready to invest $125m in the disposal of Russiansubmarines at any moment. Nonetheless, there are two conditions: Britishcontrol of the allocation of funds and permission to analyze the processof the dismantling, which Britons will soon need for resolving a similarproblem of disposal of first-generation nuclear submarines. Thisquestion is to be resolved by the Russian Foreign Ministry now.According to the British official, it has not shown adequate interest sofar.
return to menu

F. Russian Nuclear Power Industry

Russia's Nuke Industry Wants To Clean Up PR Image
Charles Digges
September 16, 2002
(for personal use only)

The ministry has covered up or denied catastrophic accidents; the Uralsreprocessing plant Mayak - which offered a rehearsal for the 1986Chernobyl disaster by blowing up in 1957 - dumps nuclear waste in anopen pit that used to be a lake; hundreds of rusting nuclear submarines,awaiting decommissioning, bob with the tide at dockside for months andyears, still loaded with their nuclear fuel; the navy, often unable topay for the electricity that keeps these subs afloat, faces an almostmonthly nightmare that they will sink if the power is switched off;security at fissile materials storage sites has allowed dozens ofkilograms of radioactive material to go missing without a trace; andwhistleblowers like journalist Grigory Pasko and Bellona's AleksandrNikitin are persecuted and jailed for exposing Russia's nuclear wastedisposal practices.

To top it off, Minatom is financing what is says is a civilian nuclearprogram in Iran that US officials - and even one Russian scientist onthe project - have said is a cover-up for a nuclear weapons program inthat country.

The public face of Minatom, characterized by cloak and dagger secrecy,was not earned without reason, and it was fitting that it took Chernobyl- the world's worst nuclear accident to date, which was denied byauthorities for weeks - to shed a garish glow on a history of otherdisasters and near disasters that have plagued the industry, and thecountry at large, since Stalin's secret "Sredmash," the Soviet-era codeword for Minatom, first began operation.

A kinder, gentler Minatom?

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Minatom has changed its name fromits secret designation, and it is even possible to find out bits ofinformation about its doings. The past decade has seen the installationof a press office, and in that press office there is often someone whowill answer reporters' calls - though on some issues you may be asked towait as long as 45 days for comment.

Minatom also has a sharply designed web site ( thatdisplays press center announcements about once every four days and postsabstracts of articles about nuclear issues in Russia - though accessingany but the press office postings requires a Minatom-supplied passwordand a subscription that costs $1,000 a year - the atomic age meetscredit card web-based commerce.

Minatom's Director for Information Policy, Nikolai Shingarev, who spokeat last week's "Irradiated Nuclear Fuel Management 2002: New RussianInitiatives" conference in Moscow, said his ministry has a long way togo before winning the hearts of the public over what Minatom says arethe low risks associated with atomic power in general, and the import toRussia for long term storage and eventual reprocessing of foreign spentnuclear fuel (SNF), in specific.

He candidly displayed statistics, based on polls commissioned by hisministry, which showed the hard-core unpopularity of Minatom's SNFimport plans with the Russian public.

"We are opening our doors," said Shingarev citing the number of ways -including the paid website and planned informational pamphlets - thatthe public can avail itself of atomic information.

"Because of that," Shingarev added in his presentation at theconference, "we hope the public will see that atomic energy is safe."

Environmentalists say that Minatom only wants the public to know somuch, and that the battle for public trust was lost long ago. Changingminds is no easy undertaking for a government ministry that has for thepast five decades, and counting, been complicit in covering up andfeeding some of the most egregious health, environmental and securitythreats the world has ever known.

Ever since Minatom began operations in the late 1940s for the purposesof developing a Soviet nuclear arsenal, it has enjoyed almost uncheckedpowers. But recently Minatom has become so unmoored from the governmentit serves that many Duma and Kremlin officials have considered plans forsplitting up the Ministry to diminish some of its muscle.

In July, a blueprint for the split-up of the ministry - drafted byunknown authors whose anonymity has been closely guarded -was presentedto President Vladimir Putin by lawmaker Grigory Yavlinsky, who heads theliberal Yabloko party. According to Yabloko Duma Deputy SergeiMitrokhin, Putin was "worried" about the direction Minatom was taking.It is still unclear whether the break-up will occur. No action has yetbeen taken, but Mitrokhin has said that Putin recently convened a groupof experts to discuss the possibility.

Minatom admits SNF unpopular

Though rumours of Minatom's dismantlement were not discussed at theconference, Shingarev, in his presentation, was open about the public'snegative image of the ministry's SNF import and reprocessing plans.Citing a poll conducted for Minatom, he said some 90 percent of thecountry was opposed to the imports, which are now beginning to tricklein from Eastern European customers.

It was a familiar figure: Two years ago, while the Duma was debatingthree bills that eventually legalized radioactive imports to Russia, apoll showed even then that 90 percent of the population was against thelegislative package. It was later revealed that Duma approval had beenlargely bought with political favours, and in some cases even bribes, bythe aggressively lobbying former Minatom chief Yevgeny Adamov.

Simultaneously, a nation-wide petition drive to force the importquestion to a national referendum was scuttled by the Central ElectionCommission, or CEC. Environmentalists across the country collected over2.5 million signatures - more than the required 2 million in 60 regionsof the Russian Federation. But 600,000 of these signatures weredisqualified by the CEC for such things as "incorrect" streetabbreviations.

And in May, a similar regional referendum attempt was thrown out by theRegional Court in Krasnoyarsk, which will receive the lion's share offoreign SNF for storage at the as-yet incomplete RT-2 storage facilityin the closed nuclear city of Zheleznogorsk. The court passed thedecision back to Moscow, saying the disposition of SNF was a federalissue.

Does the public have a voice?

Given such an accrual of events, the Russians - with their overwhelmingopposition to SNF imports - have by now likely concluded that theiropinion doesn't matter a toss to Minatom.

Indeed, it may not.

"I don't think it's the people's business to decide technical problems.Technical problems are decided in all countries in an established order.It's unreasonable to decide such things with a referendum," saidShingarev during the spent fuel conference in an interview with Bellonaweb.

"Democracy, of course, is a good thing - the people must decide manyquestions, but not technological questions. Practice has shown that theyare emotional and thus wrong," he said. Shingarev cited a case inArmenia where completing the construction of an atomic power station wasvoted down. But when severe power and heat shortages became apparent,construction was reinstated and the plant was opened.

"You ask someone [on referendum] if he wants waste and he will say 'no Idon't want it,'" Shingarev added. "Or you ask him 'do you want yourchildren to work, or do you want a normal salary at the cost of importedfuel and improvements in the environment' and he'll say 'yes, I wantthat.'"

It is Shingarev's job to sugar-coat the seemingly technocratic approachespoused by his ministry, and his statement above provides a goodexample of that. He also said he hopes that Minatom's newly-statedpolicy of providing more public information will help the public see the"real" picture behind SNF imports and nuclear power in general.

But often, he indicated, the atomic lobby is simply out-gunned in themedia by the green faction.

"Of course, it would be desirable if there were published more realinformation about what atomic energy is [...] because if you take anynews agency getting daily information from Greenpeace or Ecodefence!,[these agencies] get information from Minatom, in the bestcircumstances, once a week, although we have a lot of news," he said.

"[A policy of more frequently distributing news] is a policy we need tointroduce and develop."

Minatom's statements anger environmentalists

Shingarev's words concerning the voting public's inability to comprehendtechnical issues ignited the ire of many local and internationalenvironmentalists and journalists. Foremost among their complaints wasthe near blockade of important information about the ministry's doingsand the useless bones that are occasionally tossed to mollify them.

"With that kind of approach [that assumes the masses are ignorant] youcan't arrange any kind of referendum, because some person who says 'I ama specialist, and I know better than other people' will always appear,"Ecodefence! co-chairman Vladimir Slivyak told Bellona web.

"If you espouse the kind of system Shingarev is espousing, it's not evenup to the politicians to decide. You'll have a situation where thegovernment isn't needed and the president isn't needed because [Minatom]knows best. Nobody has the right to decide anything but the experts atMinatom," he added wryly.

Slivyak said that by skirting referendums in areas that would beaffected by SNF imports, Minatom is attempting to staunch criticism anddefend the carte blanche under which it operates.

"That's certainly the case with any industry," said Slivyak. "But youhave to recall that in a democratic country, industry exists for people,and not the other way around. If these people, I mean Minatom, serve thecountry, as they say they do, then they must listen to the people andtheir opinions, because Russia is not created to fulfil the wishes ofMinatom."

Last year, many of these people took a poll, and unlike the simplequestion of supporting or not supporting the import of SNF, there weremore complicated questions dealing with reprocessing. Again, saidSlivyak, the figures were near 10 percent for, 90 percent against.

"The people are much smarter and more knowledgeable about the nuclearindustry than Minatom gives them credit for," he said.

Slivyak, who runs the environmental news web site, addedthat he doubted that any "real" information, as was described byShingarev, would be forthcoming from the ministry, especially at theministry web site's prohibitive subscription costs.

Bellona's Aleksandr Nikitin, who also runs St Petersburg's ECRecological rights group, said that some technological questions are bestleft to the experts. Complicated fuel cycle issues would certainly notbe put to a vote. But he said it was crucial not to confuse a genuinetechnical question with a technical question whose results "will effectthe environment and the lives of millions."

Nikitin agreed with Slivyak - though in stronger terms - saying: "ThisShingarev, who is paid by Minatom to conduct its PR - we don't believehim any longer. The PR hot air at Minatom is dedicated to making moneyand to the manufacture of nuclear weapons and to the development ofdangerous nuclear technology and to keeping secrets."

"How else is one to interpret that access to the most importantinformation on the Minatom web site costs $1000?" said Nikitin.

"Yes there is a web site, but it is devoted, by its subscription fee, tokeeping secrets."

Financial mismanagement

An American consultant to the US Department of Energy (DOE) and Russiannational labs agreed in theory with Shingarev that not all questions canbe decided by referendum, but he added that Minatom is doing nothing toinform the public of the benefits that SNF imports could reap. He saidthe best possible PR move for Minatom would be to spread around some ofits money and take care of nuclear cities.

"The public should be informed absolutely, which Minatom is not doing:To me, if they want good PR, they should quit keeping the money inMoscow," said the consultant.

"People in America who live around nuclear facilities live veryprosperously and they are very pro-nuclear because they are very wellinformed. There is a risk involved, but 'hey look,' [say the people wholive there,] 'we have good jobs.' But this isn't happening here inRussia."

.At present, the consultant said, the government, in the guise ofMinatom, will scuttle referendum attempts because they don'twant to give the people an opportunity to vote 'no'.

"They should send the money to Zheleznogorsk and Ozersk, and I tell you,any referendum would bring a resounding yes, because so many jobs wouldbe created that would create prosperity," said the consultant.

"But for now, those people [in Zheleznogorsk and Ozersk] are living inmisery while Minatom chiefs in Moscow ride around in chauffeur drivenforeign cars. What sort of PR is that?"

"They work in the shadows," said Bellona's Nikitin. "We don't believeMinatom, which has brought this country so much misery - [Minatom] meansatomic weapons, it means atomic tests, it means the arrest of innocentpeople who expose its doings, it means a history that has led tocatastrophe after catastrophe, and so on and so on, and they reserve theright to say what is safe and what is not safe? It's ludicrous."
return to menu

G. Nuclear Terrorism/Smuggling

Practical Training Within IAEA International Project In Vladivostok
Anatoly Ilyukhov
RIA Novosti
September 16, 2002
(for personal use only)

A three-week course within the framework of the IAEA internationalproject for stemming the illegal movement of nuclear and otherradioactive materials has opened in Vladivostok on Monday.

As the press centre of the Far-Eastern customs directorate reported,specialists of the power block structures of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus,Georgia, Uzbekistan and other CIS countries arrived in Vladivostok toobtain knowledge and to share experience. IAEA experts and observersfrom the USA, Japan, China, Mongolia, Sweden and Vietnam are taking partin the course.

During three weeks the students of the course will hear out a cycle oflectures on stemming contraband of nuclear and other radioactivematerials and familiarize themselves with computer systems and devicesmaking it possible to find nuclear contraband during border-crossing.

The programme of the course includes practical training. The studentswill visit Grodekovo settlement on the Maritime sector of theRussian-Chinese border and the airport and commercial sea port ofVladivostok where systems for exposing nuclear and other radioactivematerials are already in operation.

It is not a coincidence that the Maritime Territory became the host ofsuch a large-scale course of training of CIS specialists, the presscentre of the Far-Eastern customs directorate noted. The Far-Easternfederal district was among the first in Russia to have startedfulfilling the Zashchita (Defense) Russian-U.S. programme orientedtowards stemming nuclear contraband. Up-to-date devices are already inoperation at many airports, border sea and river ports, and customscheck points.
return to menu

H. Announcements

Georgy Mamedov, Deputy Foreign Minister And Russia's Political DirectorIn The Group Of Eight, Meets With Gianfranco Facco Bonetti, ItalianAmbassador To Moscow
Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
September 17, 2002

On September 16 Deputy Foreign Minister and Russia's political directorin the Group of Eight Georgy Mamedov received the Italian Ambassador toMoscow, Gianfranco Facco Bonetti.

The two discussed topical issues of strategic stability with an eyetoward the intensification of Russian-Italian cooperation in this areaon the basis of the agreements reached by Vladimir Putin and SilvioBerlusconi. In this connection Mamedov informed the ambassador of thepreparations for the first meeting of the Consultative Group forStrategic Security at the level of the Foreign and Defense Ministers ofRussia and the USA, the agenda of which includes priority problems ofSTART-ABM, nonproliferation, and counteraction against the seizure ofWMDs by international terrorists. Upcoming Russian-American negotiationson the implementation of the program adopted in Kananaskis for the G8Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of MassDestruction were also considered. The sides agreed to speed up thebeginning of specific Russian-Italian talks on implementing thisprogram, including the disposition of nuclear submarines and destructionof chemical weapons in Russia.

The sides also expressed satisfaction with the high quality ofRussian-Italian cooperation within the international antiterroristcoalition, and reaffirmed the key coordinating role of the UN SecurityCouncil in its formation and practical activity.
return to menu

Joint Statement: Secretary Abraham, Minister Rumyantsev
U.S. Department of Energy
September 16, 2002

In their May 2002 Summit in Moscow, the President of the United Statesof America George W. Bush and the President of the Russian FederationV.V. Putin agreed to establish a joint experts group to work outproposals on near- and long-term, bilateral and multilateral means toreduce inventories of highly enriched uranium (HEU) and plutonium. TheUnited States and Russia recognize their common interest in guaranteeingthe irreversibility of nuclear disarmament, strengtheningnonproliferation, and combating terrorism by accelerating thedisposition of excess nuclear weapon materials.

Ambassador Linton Brooks and First Deputy Minister Mikhail Soloninco-chaired the Expert Group on Accelerated Nuclear Material Disposition.We highly appreciate the results of the Expert Group. We are pleasedwith the accelerated pace the group maintained, finishing the reportthree months earlier than their initial deadline. The report will beforwarded to Presidents George W. Bush and V.V. Putin.

The Expert Group identified several areas where joint cooperation couldlead to reduction of HEU over-and-above commitments already in placeunder existing agreements. These include:

1. Creation of a strategic reserve in the United States from Russian HEUdown blended into Low Enriched Uranium (LEU);

2. Increase in the rate and quantity of HEU converted to LEU under theNuclear Material Consolidation and Conversion Project;

3. Use of LEU down blended from Russian HEU to fuel reactors in Westerncountries;

4. Use of Russian HEU to fuel selected United States research reactors,until cores are converted to LEU, and

5. In parallel, work on accelerated development of LEU fuel for bothSoviet-designed and United States-designed research reactors.

The Expert Group also identified potential new areas of near-termcooperation for weapon plutonium disposition. These include:

1. Fabrication of additional mixed oxide fuel (MOX) for use in Russianreactors, utilizing additional weapons-grade plutonium under the 2000Agreement, and

2. A variation of this scenario that would provide for the possible useof some MOX fuel in Russia and for leasing or exporting of the remainderfor use in other countries.

The Expert Group will continue to study additional options that could berelevant in the future, taking into account their technical feasibility,impacts on commercial nuclear fuel market industries and requiredfinancial resources.
return to menu

IAEA Verification Of Weapon-Origin Fissile Material In The RussianFederation And The United States
46th IAEA General Conference
September 16, 2002

Russian Federation Minister of Atomic Energy Alexander Rumyantsev,United States Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham and Director Generalof the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Mohamed ElBaradei metin Vienna on 16 September 2002 to review the status of the TrilateralInitiative and agree on its future direction.

The parties concluded that the task entrusted to the TrilateralInitiative Working Group in 1996 has been fulfilled. The work completedhas demonstrated practical approaches for IAEA verification ofweapon-origin fissile material designated as released from defenceprogrammes in classified forms or at certain sensitive facilities. Thework included the examination of technical, legal and financial issuesassociated with such verification.

The removal of weapon-origin fissile material from defence programmes ofthe Russian Federation and the United States is in furtherance of thecommitment to disarmament steps undertaken by the two States pursuant toArticle VI of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons(NPT). IAEA verification of the materials declared excess to nuclearweapons programmes and made subject to this Initiative would buildinternational confidence that this material will never again be used innuclear weapons.

Minister Rumyantsev, Secretary Abraham and Director General ElBaradeirecognized the value of the groundbreaking work completed over the lastsix years. Building on the work completed, they directed the technicalexperts to begin without delay discussions on future possiblecooperation within the trilateral format.

Minister Rumyantsev, Secretary Abraham and Director General ElBaradeiagreed that the Principals would meet again in September 2003 to reviewprogress within the trilateral format.
return to menu

On The Course Of The Ratification In The State Duma Of The Russia-USAStrategic Offensive Reductions Treaty
Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
September 13, 2002

A working meeting took place on September 12 in the Committee of theState Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation onInternational Affairs concerning the ratification of the StrategicOffensive Reductions (SOR) Treaty Between Russia and the United Statesof America.

Speaking at the meeting, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of theRussian Federation Georgy Mamedov and Colonel-General Yuri Baluyevsky,First Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces,underscored the importance of the SOR Treaty for ensuring the nationalsecurity interests of Russia in the present not simple internationalsituation, and noted its important place in the development ofRussian-American strategic relations on the principles of partnership.

Hope also was expressed that ratification of the Treaty may be completedby the Russian Federal Assembly and the US Congress even by the end ofthe current year.
return to menu

I. Links of Interest

Statement To The Forty-Sixth Regular Session Of The IAEA GeneralConference 2002
Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei
IAEA General Conference
September 16, 2002

return to menu

Assistant Secretary Of State For Nonproliferation John Wolf ProvidesDetails On G-8 Global Partnership Against The Spread Of Weapons AndMaterials Of Mass Destruction
Monterey Institute of International Affairs
September 9, 2002

return to menu

DISCLAIMER: Nuclear News is presented for informational purposes only.Views presented in any given article are those of the individual authoror source and not of RANSAC. RANSAC takes no responsibility for thetechnical accuracy of information contained in any article presented inNuclear News.

Section Menu:

© 2007 Partnership for Global Security. All rights reserved. Privacy Statement.