AIKEN - The Bush administration says it needs to build new plutonium-based triggers for nuclear weapons to ensure the future reliability of the nation's arsenal.
To deter a strike by another country or group, the Defense Department states in its most recent Nuclear Posture Review, "infrastructure must provide confidence in the reliability of the nuclear stockpile."
To that end, the Department of Energy has started the process for construction of a new triggers plant, known as a Modern Pit Facility, and Savannah River Site is among the contenders.
Environmental and anti-nuclear activists say new production of the pits, spherical triggers that are inserted into warheads, is an unnecessary proliferation gamble. They say the government has not made a case for the need.
"The Cold War is over," said Louis Zeller of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League. He was among the outnumbered protesters at last month's public meeting in North Augusta.
"If there is an analogous situation here, I don't see it. We flattened Afghanistan in a matter of weeks. And Iraq? Our military budget is more than the next 20 nations combined."
Mr. Zeller points out that the government, by its own admission, doesn't have accurate predictions on the reliability of aging triggers. The thousands of deployed and stored warheads could work fine - or simply create "a little bit less destruction," Mr. Zeller said.
Tests meant to simulate the effects of aging on the pits will continue, and project officials say the $2 billion to $4 billion facility could be scaled back or scrapped if research shows that existing triggers can be considered reliable for longer than a few decades.
Douglas B. Shaw, an international relations professor at George Washington University in Washington, was an appointee of President Clinton who served in the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. He agrees with the government's approach.
"Maintaining the United States' ability to service and produce nuclear weapons is necessary for the foreseeable future," he says.
But he says the United States is sending mixed signals to the rest of the world.
"We advocate nuclear nonproliferation for others while U.S. officials make statements - such as the suggestion we might use nuclear weapons first in a conflict - that are flatly in variance with our own nonproliferation agreements," Mr. Shaw said.
The exact number of pits the plant would produce, between 125 and 450 a year, likely will be influenced by the upcoming outcome of the Moscow Treaty.
The U.S.-Russia treaty, if ratified, would cut deployed arsenals to between 1,700 and 2,200 warheads each. The two nations now have about 6,000 deployed warheads each.
Although the treaty appears to be a positive nonproliferation move, critics say it lacks strong verification measures. return to menu
2. U.S.: Analysts Say Election Victory Will Embolden Bush Foreign Policy
November 7, 2002
(for personal use only)
U.S. President George W. Bush's Republican Party has won a landslide victory for control of Congress. How will the outcome affect U.S. foreign policy?
Analysts say America's assertive foreign policy since 11 September is likely to become even more aggressive after President George W. Bush's popularity helped spur his Republican Party to win full control of Congress in elections on 5 November.
Although Republicans made small gains in the House of Representatives -- which they already controlled -- their real victory came in the Senate, where they pushed aside Democratic opposition to grab control by two votes.
RFE/RL asked four analysts -- two moderates, a liberal, and a conservative -- how the election outcome might affect Bush's foreign policy. Except for the conservative analyst, all of them predicted the White House will now feel free to do as it pleases overseas with little thought to domestic opposition.
Joseph Cirincione, a moderate analyst with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said: "It's going to have a huge effect. Any talk of restraining the president or qualifying any of his foreign policy initiatives with congressional action is now gone. And the Democrats -- forget it, man. When they get whipped like this, it takes them a year to recover. They don't have a clue what to do."
His sentiments were echoed by Judith Kipper, a moderate Mideast expert at Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies: "There's no question that it will be interpreted here and around the world as a mandate for the administration's approach on foreign policy, on [the] war on terrorism and general confidence in running the country."
Democratic Senator Tom Daschle, until 5 November the Senate's majority leader, said Bush has free rein to do as he wants on Iraq. "I think it means that the president has an opportunity here to enact and proceed with the plan [on Iraq] as he has articulated it," Daschle said on 6 November. "I think the American people appear now to give him the benefit of the doubt."
All of which leads Cirincione to believe that the administration is likely to take a hard line on its most pressing foreign policy issues: the possible war with Iraq, and nuclear-armed North Korea.
It may also embolden Bush to follow his administration's more unilateralist impulses, which have already led to rejecting or withdrawing from several international treaties, such as the Kyoto climate accord and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty: "We will see probably an acceleration of the administration's withdrawal from, or disdain for, international treaties. I would expect that they'll be more likely to pull out of multilateral meetings, gatherings, attempts to negotiate new treaties."
Cirincione, who runs Carnegie's Non-Proliferation Project, says the administration may seek to renew nuclear testing, a move that was hinted at in its recent Nuclear Posture Review: "What happens now is that hard-liners in the administration will be encouraged by hard-liners in the Congress, and that can produce its own dynamic, propelling forward some of these policies."
Cirincione says that the Democratic Senate had been poised to add new provisions to the Treaty of Moscow on reducing strategic nuclear arms, which Bush signed last May in Moscow along with Russian President Vladimir Putin. But he says the new Senate, which still must ratify the treaty, is unlikely to take up those provisions, which would have added procedures to verify compliance and a call for another round of talks on nuclear reductions.
Phyllis Bennis is with the Institute for Policy Studies, a liberal Washington think tank. Bennis also acknowledges that Bush has the power to do just about anything he wants. But she says to do so would be a mistake, as she believes many Americans still question his policies despite the Republican victory.
Bennis says several members of Congress who opposed the recent congressional resolution giving Bush power to wage war in Iraq won resounding re-elections on 5 November. They include Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, Jim McDermott of the state of Washington, and Michigan's John Conyers. Bennis says none of them comes from a traditional hotbed of radicalism.
She says the lesson from this, for Democrats, is to stick to your principles as an opposition party: "This is a sorely divided country, a sorely divided Congress. So even with the Republican victory, the notion that we are speaking with one voice, the voice of President Bush, is simply not true."
The winning camp, however, doesn't appear to be gloating -- at least not yet. Nor does it appear to speaking with one voice.
Dana Dillon is with the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. He said the victory gives Bush a chance to pursue his policies, but not a mandate to do as he pleases: "I hope he reaches out across the aisle. This gives him an opportunity, but it's not a blank check. He needs to work with members of Congress. And even majority Congresses inevitably have people who don't agree with each other inside the majority."
But none of the other analysts believes anyone in Congress -- let alone Republican moderates -- will risk standing in the American president's way on vital foreign policy issues. Bush is just too popular -- a popularity that helped many of them get elected in the first place.
"There'll have to be some stumbles, some real disasters before any senators find a critical voice," Cirincione concludes. return to menu
1. Russia Adds Range To Iran's Latest Missiles
The Telegraph (UK)
November 12, 2002
(for personal use only)
Iran has been supplied by Russia with powerful new technology and parts for long-range missiles that will put Israel and the whole of the Middle East - including British and US forces in the region - within its reach, The Telegraph has learned.
The missiles' range of up to 1,300 miles would also allow Iran to strike parts of North Africa and of south-eastern Europe.
Successful test-firings were conducted this summer with the help of Russian and North Korean scientists at a desert range in central Iran, according to the opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and American intelligence.
Teheran has been pressing ahead with its plans to become an international missile power in tandem with its efforts to develop compatible chemical warheads.
The revelations about Moscow's new role in building the military strength of a state named as part of the "axis of evil" by President Bush follow American anger earlier this year when it emerged that Russia was building a new Iranian light-water nuclear power reactor. The plant is seen as a front for gaining nuclear weapons expertise.
The NCRI has been told by its contacts within the regime that Teheran twice successfully test-fired the new Shahab 4 missiles this summer in front of the country's military leaders. Although Iran is widely believed to be working secretly on the Shahab 4 project, the Pentagon believes that the recent tests involved an upgraded version of the Shahab 3 missile. Ali Shamkhani, the Iranian defence minister, insisted that the recent tests featured the existing version of Shahab 3, which can strike targets about 800 miles away. Shahab 4 would have a range of about 1,300 miles, while it is not known how far the upgraded Shahab 3 could reach.
Western and Israeli intelligence and the Iranian opposition have received fresh details of the crucial contribution of Russian, North Korean and Chinese scientists and companies in Teheran's missile programme, though Iran routinely denies receiving foreign assistance.
The Shahab 3, based on the North Korean Nodong missile, suffered two failed test launches out of three in 1998 and 2000. US intelligence believes that the Russians have provided Iran with a powerful new motor to replace at least one of the Nodong engines, making the upgraded Shahab 3 a Russian-North Korean hybrid.
The new Shahab 4 is based on the old Soviet SS-4 missile and uses entirely Russian technology. The Russians have also provided high-grade steel and special alloys for the Shahab 4 missile casing and for foil shielding around guidance systems.
Teheran has signed a $7 million (£4.6 million) contract with a Russian company for the transfer of SS-4 missile parts to Teheran, according to documents seen by the NCRI.
The deal demolishes Iranian claims that they are not working on the Shahab 4. Mr Shamkhani had boasted that Iran was working on Shahab 4 in 2000, but then retracted his remarks after condemnation by America and the EU.
Since then, Teheran has insisted that there is no Shahab 4. The White House is urging Russia to reduce its co-operation with Iran. Moscow publicly denies supplying the Iranians with missile technology.
When presented with evidence of the deals, Russian officials insisted that individual companies were acting without authorisation. return to menu
C. Nuclear Terrorism
1. US Fears Groups May Get Radiation Devices - Report
November 12, 2002
(for personal use only)
WASHINGTON - The Bush administration is concerned that devices used in the former Soviet Union to measure the effects of radiation on plants may fall into the hands of terror groups that could use the material to make so-called dirty bombs, The Washington Post reported yesterday.
U.S. and international nuclear experts are searching the former Soviet republics for the lead-shielded canister devices that contained radioactive cesium 137 in the form of pellets or a fine powder, the newspaper said.
Some of the tests the devices were used for were to determine farming conditions after a nuclear attack.
The total number of experimental devices put in the countryside by Soviet scientists during the 1970s range from 100 to 1,000, an official from the International Atomic Energy Agency told the Post. Only nine of the devices have been found so far.
A few ounces of cesium 137 put into a conventional explosive would make a "dirty bomb" that could contaminate a large area with radiation. A computer simulation showed a "dirty bomb" attack on New York City with about 1.75 ounces (50 grams) of cesium could spread radioactive fallout over 60 city blocks, the paper said.
Victims nearest the blast would be the initial casualties, but the relocation of people and businesses and the cleanup could cost tens of billions of dollars, the paper said. return to menu
2. Analysis: Russian Cesium Threat Low
Scott R. Burnell
UPI Science News
November 12, 2002
(for personal use only)
Misplaced canisters of a radioactive isotope of the element cesium in the former Soviet Union should be an item of concern but not excessive worry, scientists told United Press International.
The material in question, cesium-137, is "a particularly unfriendly isotope," said P. Andrew Karan, radiation safety officer at the University of Rochester in New York and director of external education for the Health Physics Society. With a half-life of 30 years, however, the 1970s-era sources have expended almost half their radioactivity, he told UPI.
Soviet researchers used the pellet-shaped or powdered cesium to study how a nuclear war might affect agriculture. Russian officials have said they are unsure where all the sources are, or even how many exist, raising concerns about terrorists gaining access to them.
Large amounts of the material emit life-threatening levels of gamma radiation, Karan said. The powder could be combined with conventional explosives to make a "dirty bomb," capable of contaminating large areas -- but potential terrorists could not obtain both effects simultaneously, he said.
"My analogy is like a load of dirt -- you can dump a whole bunch on one person and crush them, or you can spread it around a whole city and irritate everybody," Karan told UPI.
Terrorists would have to use a lot of lead or other shielding to transport a source large enough to be immediately dangerous, Karan said, to prevent both detection and premature injury to the delivery person. Such a container hardly would be inconspicuous in the areas where it could do damage, he said, making detection easier.
"The physics of the situation dictate that you've got to have something that's very heavy, heavier than it ought to be, or something that's more radioactive than it ought to be," Karan said. Some handheld detectors now in use could spot cesium sources lacking obvious shielding, he said.
The attention directed towards the Russian cesium sources is surprising, said Edwin Lyman, president of the Nuclear Control Institute, a non-proliferation research and advocacy organization in Washington. It is highly unlikely the sources could be shielded well enough to cross U.S. borders undetected, he said. Both Lyman and Karan pointed to the recent detection of radioactivity on a cargo ship outside New York City, caused by tiles containing minute amounts of uranium, as evidence that border radiation monitoring is effective.
Although the Russian sources have undoubtedly decreased in overall radioactivity, no processing is needed to isolate the remaining active isotope, Lyman said. Even a depleted source still could contribute to a dirty bomb, he said.
The Bush administration could be highlighting the overseas situation to mask the issue of potential problems with domestic radioactive sources, such as spent nuclear fuel and university research facilities, Lyman told UPI.
"It's easy to point at some sources that have been misplaced in (former Soviet republics), and clearly that's a problem," Lyman said. "But if they're lost, chances are al Qaida's not going to have an easy time locating them."
Terrorists could cause far greater problems by attacking containers of spent fuel at locations around the country, some close to major metropolitan areas, Lyman said. A single successful attack of this type would release millions of times more radioactivity than the Russian cesium sources, he said.
Such an attack, however, would have to overcome dedicated passive and active security measures, as well as the highly reinforced buildings at nuclear plants. Studies have shown even a Sept. 11-style attack using commercial airliners is unlikely to damage reactors or spent fuel sites enough to disperse radioactive material.
Lyman disagreed, however. The cumulative effect of damage throughout a site could lead to some release, he said.
The situation in the former Soviet republics merits serious attention, however, especially in the area of monitoring border activity, Karan said. During a just-completed HPS trip to Lithuania, Karan and other society members instructed their counterparts in areas including securing radioactive sources. Lithuanian officials recovered several unused nuclear fuel pellets at the border during his visit, he said.
Russian officials have asked the European Union to create a "transit corridor" between Russia and the city of Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea, where shipments would require minimum customs checks and other monitoring, Karan said. In a report to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Karan recommended extensive screening for nuclear materials at both ends of such a corridor. return to menu
3. Dirty Bomb Threat Possible-Expert (Excerpted)
November 8, 2002
(for personal use only)
A terrorism expert says an initial Home Office warning of a terror attack using chemical or radioactive weapons is still a "possibility".
Confusion surrounds a briefing given by the government to journalists and later withdrawn which warned Britain was at risk from "dirty" radioactive or chemical bombs at the hands of terror network al-Qaeda.
Professor Paul Wilkinson of the Centre for Terrorism Studies at St Andrews University said it was a "possibility" that the threat did exist and that the original Home Office warning was "not inaccurate".
"We know the American intelligence authorities are quite convinced that al-Qaeda have been examining the possibility of using a dirty bomb in the United States and of course we have known for some time that al-Qaeda's been seriously pursuing chemical and biological weapons," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
"So it's sensible to look at the worst case and also to take into account, as the earlier alert from Mr Blunkett said, that the more traditional forms of terrorism are still a danger.
1. International Thermonuclear Reactor Construction Accord Draft Due By Mid-2003
November 8, 2002
(for personal use only)
MOSCOW -- The draft of an international agreement on the construction of an experimental thermonuclear reactor is due to be prepared by mid-2003. The Russian Foreign Ministry said Friday this timetable was hammered out at the sixth round of talks between Russia, Canada, Japan, and the European Union on the project ITER, or Research Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, in Rokkase, Japan, last month.
A Foreign Ministry Information and Press Department statement details that delegates to the talks examined construction site options in Canada and Japan from the standpoint of their compatibility with the project's technical requirements. Assessment of sites in Spain and France was planned, with results due by the beginning of 2003.
The official name of the organization tasked with running the project has been negotiated as 'International Synthesis Energy Organization ITER.' A radical solution to energy supply issues in the future, to which the implementation of the ITER Project is one step, "is important to humanity's attainment of welfare, preservation of peace worldwide, and protection of the environment," the Foreign Ministry noted.
RIA Novosti sources indicate the ITER reactor, designed for nuclear power plants, is based on a whole new technical concept of electricity generation. For the first time, ITER will utilize thermonuclear energy accumulated by superconducting magnets. One result will be a substantial increase in heat generation by the nuclear elements and hence in the reactor's performance.
The cost of the project to create ITER is estimated at $5.8 billion.
The next round of talks between Russia, Canada, Japan, and the EU is due December 9-10 in Barcelona, Spain. return to menu
E. Cooperative Threat Reduction
1. Ukraine Started Eliminating TU-22 Heavy Bombers
November 12, 2002
(for personal use only)
KIEV -- On Tuesday, Ukraine is starting to eliminate its Tu-22 heavy bombers which it inherited from the USSR.
31 scrapped and combat-ineffective heavy bombers are to be eliminated during 2.5 years, the press service of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry reported on Tuesday.
These measures will help the Ukrainian armed forces to get rid of redundant military equipment and arms, the maintenance of which requires substantial expenses from the state. return to menu
2. Lugar to Pursue Weapons Elimination Ken Guggenheim
November 8, 2002
(for personal use only)
WASHINGTON - Long before "weapons of mass destruction" became a regular phrase on the nightly news, Sen. Richard Lugar (news, bio, voting record) worried about them, warning that deadly arms from the former Soviet Union could fall in the hands of terrorists and other enemies.
Eleven years later, the weapons have become more widespread and Lugar is still worried. As he prepares to become chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Lugar will try to ensure that the United States uses its diplomatic, economic and - if necessary - military might to keep those weapons from harming Americans.
The Republican takeover of the Senate, along with the retirement of Sen. Jesse Helms (news, bio, voting record), R-N.C., leaves the 70-year-old Indiana Republican poised to take over next year a committee that he last led in the mid-1980s.
Lugar is more of a centrist than Helms, the conservative who was chairman from 1995-2001. Helms was known for shooting down President Clinton (news - web sites)'s diplomatic nominees and for ridiculing international organizations including the United Nations (news - web sites).
"I think it's quite a change from Helms," said former Rep. Lee Hamilton, an Indiana Democrat, a former chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. "Dick is an internationalist and he tries always to be constructive and supportive."
Lugar's views are more in line with those of the current Democratic chairman, Sen. Joseph Biden (news, bio, voting record), D-Del., and no major shifts are expected in the committee's work. The two worked closely together under Biden's leadership and both Democrats and Republicans say they expect that relationship to continue with Lugar in charge.
They took a common stand on the biggest foreign policy issue Congress faced this year: the resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq. Biden and Lugar worked together for a resolution that would have placed a greater emphasis on diplomacy, but ultimately voted for the language the White House wanted.
Some of the biggest differences between Biden may be in style. Compared to the talkative, sometimes acerbic Biden, Lugar is soft-spoken and more apt to resolve differences quietly.
"Joe Biden tends to have a more cutting edge to how he deals with people and issues. Dick Lugar is probably more of a velvet knife," said Jay Farrar, a former Defense Department legislative liaison, now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
But friends and analysts say that behind the low-keyed political style, Lugar holds strong opinions and a passion for foreign affairs. He is widely considered the most knowledgeable senator on international matters. While loyal to the president, he is not afraid to disagree with him.
"Sometimes people confuse the style and don't see that behind the style are pretty firmly held set of views," said Jeff Berner, who served as Lugar's staff director in the 1980s when he was last committee chairman.
Among the issues he feels most strongly about is arms control. He lists among the top achievements of his 25-year political career a program, co-sponsored by then-Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Ga., that has dismantled about 6,000 nuclear warheads from the former Soviet Union since 1991 and found work for weapons scientists, preventing them from offering their expertise to U.S. enemies.
Last year, he issued the "Lugar Doctrine," calling on every nation to account for its weapons of mass destruction and safely secure them so they do not fall in the hands of other nations or groups.
When nations refuse, "our nation must be prepared to use force, as well as all diplomatic and economic tools at our disposal," he wrote.
He said the United States shouldn't rule out improving cooperation with Iran, Syria or Libya to make sure they secure any weapons of mass destruction. The State Department considers all three to be state sponsors of terrorism.
Lugar has been a strong supporter of the ratification of NATO (news - web sites) expansion and an advocate of free trade and promoting democracy.
His ascension to chairman could be a further setback for the ratification of a 22-year-old international treaty aimed at promoting equality for women. The committee voted in July to ratify the treaty, but the full Senate has not considered it.
Lugar and most other committee Republicans voted against the treaty, known as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. If the Senate does not approve it in the brief, postelection session, it would have to be considered again by the committee in the new Congress before the full Senate could vote on it. return to menu
3. Where Bush Might Miss the Dems
November 7, 2002
(for personal use only)
When it comes to foreign policy, not all of his fellow GOP'ers -- especially the powerful Richard Lugar -- will blindly follow
With the Republican sweep of the House and Senate in Election 2002, President Bush has plenty to smile about. Control of Congress may well help him push through his domestic political agenda, but winning foreign-policy initiatives could be another matter entirely. Just take a look at some of the Republican senators who have been vaulted back to strengthened positions of power and influence.
When Democrats controlled the Senate, the Bush team often cowed them by questioning their concerns about a possible war with Iraq and about the administrative mechanics of a Homeland Security Dept. It was easy: Bush would subtly -- and sometimes not so subtly -- question their patriotism.
Forget that ploy now: It won't work with independent-minded, outspoken GOP senators with sterling combat credentials such as John McCain of Arizona and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska. McCain and Hagel have no compunctions about questioning Bush's thinking and strategy on the world stage. And they have plenty of expertise.
The biggest thorn in the Administration's side, though, could well be veteran Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), a highly respected centrist who can again lay claim to the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. It wouldn't be the first time he bucked a Republican Administration. Lugar led the legislative charge for economic sanctions against South Africa -- a move opposed by the Reagan Administration -- that led to the demise of apartheid. The Indiana lawmaker also overcame resistance from the first Bush Administration to enact legislation to bankroll the dismantling of Russia's weapons of mass destruction.
LONG-TERM PLANNING. That legislation, co-sponsored with then-Democratic Senator Sam Nunn of Georgia, showed Lugar's penchant for trying to work out bipartisan solutions -- something the Bush Administration, for all of the President's rhetoric, rarely does. Lugar tried that approach again earlier this year when he crafted an Iraq resolution with Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph Biden (D-Del).
Lugar and Biden thought the White House version of a resolution was too vague and broad. They wanted more details about the goals and rationale of any military intervention. Plus, they wanted to make sure the Administration would try to get U.N. approval and report to Congress on its effort before military action. After tough negotiations with the White House, Lugar and Biden got much of the clarification they wanted.
Lugar also still seems to harbor reservations about how well the Administration has thought through winning the peace after any military victory in Iraq. As a rule, he looks at major foreign-policy issues from a perspective of three to five years down the road, and the Administration has provided little information to Congress or the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about its plan for a post-Saddam Iraq.
OUTSIDE THE HARDLINE. Iraq isn't the only issue where Lugar may have differences with the Bush team. A free trader, Lugar vigorously opposed the agriculture subsidies the Administration pushed. He felt they made little sense at a time when international negotiations to reduce such subsidies were ongoing.
Look for him to confront the conservative hardliners on funding for Russian disarmament. Lugar's approach to reducing Russian nukes has broad support in both parties on Capitol Hill, but Administration hawks have put the brakes on fund disbursements by refusing to certify that Russian chemical and biological weapons comply with international arms-control agreements. The certification has been virtually automatic for years, and as a result, scores of nukes have been dismantled. However, the hawks now have clout in the bureaucracy of the national security agencies, and they remain suspicious of Russia -- despite Bush's effort to strengthen ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Lugar also may part ways with the Administration on questions of engagement with rogue states such as Cuba and North Korea. Lugar opposed the nomination of hardliner Otto Reich as Assistant Secretary of State for Western hemisphere affairs because Reich wants to keep Cuba isolated. Lugar also may push a diplomatic approach to ending the furor over North Korea's new nuclear program, and that ultimately may mean the kind of dialogue with Pyongyang the Administration is resisting.
QUIET CONFLICTS. Indeed, Lugar's top agriculture aide spent some time this summer in North Korea, inspecting the results of the U.S. agricultural-assistance program, one source says. Lugar's view is that the goal should not be to isolate and chill North Korea but to disarm it and prevent it from obtaining materials it needs for weapons of mass destruction, a spokesman says.
Fortunately for the Administration, Lugar is no flame-thrower. He's serious, thoughtful, and highly diplomatic, so many of his differences may be aired behind closed doors, rather than in public. But some conflicts over key issues are all but inevitable, especially if Bush tries to strike out in unilateral fashion again. And if his past performance is any indicator, Lugar won't be reluctant to let the Bush team know exactly how he feels. return to menu
F. Non-Proliferation Budget
1. House Passes Defense Authorization Bill
November 13, 2002
(for personal use only)
WASHINGTON - The House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a final $393 billion defense authorization bill after a last-minute deal that would expand benefits for combat-injured veterans but avoid a veto from the White House, which had opposed costlier plans.
Scrambling to complete a lame duck session of Congress by Friday, the Republican-led House passed the huge wartime Pentagon bill on a voice vote after a flurry of meetings between key members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees to reach a deal to increase benefits for some disabled veterans.
The Senate was expected to vote later this week on final passage to send the bill to President Bush.
The final plan allows veterans with major disabilities from injuries sustained in combat or combat-related activities or training to receive full retirement and disability payments, easing a ban on veterans receiving both benefits in full.
The House earlier had passed a plan to phase out the prohibition over five years for 20-year veterans with 60 percent disability, while the Senate's earlier version would repeal the ban outright for those same veterans.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said that the $18.5 billion to $58 billion 10-year costs of the original House and Senate plans would "divert critical resources away from the war on terrorism, the transformation of our military capabilities and important personnel programs."
Critics also said those plans would provide concurrent benefits for people who were disabled from injuries that happened after their military service.
The standoff threatened to block the legislation, which authorizes defense and nuclear weapons programs, clears the way a 4.1 percent pay raise for military personnel, and frees money to help control material in Russia and elsewhere that could be used for weapons of mass destruction.
With Democrats making a campaign issue of Bush's opposition to the increased veterans benefits, the final deal on the authorization bill was put off until Congress returned for a post-election session to wrap up the federal budget and other uncompleted work.
If the deal was not struck quickly, lawmakers had said they would bypass the measure until the next Congress convened in January as the Pentagon already was set to receive a nearly 12 percent funding boost from a defense budget bill that cleared Congress before it recessed before the Nov. 5 election.
Under the last-minute compromise, veterans whose disability resulted from enemy fire and military retirees whose 60 percent or greater disability stemmed from combat-related activities, including live training exercises, would get full disability and pension benefits.
Rep. Ike Skelton of Missouri, top Armed Services Committee Democrat, called the plan "a significant step in the right direction."
The bill also contained a compromise on the Pentagon's demand that it be exempted from requirements to protect migratory birds, which it complained was blocking activity at a firing range in Guam and interfering with other training.
The bill temporarily exempts the Pentagon from the migratory bird protections during authorized military readiness activities, and directs the Interior Department to consider a regulation for a long-term exemption.
It also contains key compromises struck earlier this year to fund Bush's program to develop a national missile defense program and to back the Pentagon's decision to kill the 40-tonself-propelled Crusader howitzer, but save a number of jobs and technologies from the $11 billion program. return to menu
1. Russia And India Hit New Level Of Co-Operation
November 12, 2002
(for personal use only)
DELHI -- Russian Ambassador to India Alexander Kadakin told a RIA Novosti correspondent on Tuesday that Russia and India were embarking on a new level of co-operation set apart by joint production and technological exchanges. These areas are expected to be developed further during President Vladimir Putin's forthcoming visit to India and will be enhanced by a series of bilateral agreements in various spheres.
Kadakin said that both sides were confronted with common threats and, therefore, had to step up their interaction and co-operation to expand the basis of their friendship.
According to the Russian ambassador, the Russian side is particularly happy with the achievements of scientists from Bangalore (in the state of Karnataka) in developing electronic and hi-tech information technology. It would be enough to mention that their super-computer has been installed at the Moscow Centre of Mathematical Research.
The ambassador also pointed to the implementation of a joint project in Kudamkulam (in the state of Tamil Nadu) to construct energy units for a nuclear power station, which, according to him, could become comparable in the 21st century to the construction of the metallurgic plant in Bhilai during Soviet times.
The development of co-operation also concerns the military-technical sphere. Russia and India are embarking on the joint production under licence of the up-to-date Su-30 MKI multi-purpose fighter and T-90S tanks.
Alexander Kadakin pointed out that the Delhi Declaration on Strategic Partnership, which was signed in October 2000, and the Moscow Declaration on Combating Terrorism from 2001 lay at the basis of Russo-Indian co-operation.
In this connection he said that one of the main problems for India was cross-border terrorism. This problem also exists in Chechnya. Russia and India share the position that there can be no double standards when addressing the subject of terrorism and constantly stress this on the international arena. return to menu
H. Nuclear Safety
1. Antiterrorism Bill Scraps Nuclear Safety Funding
November 13, 2002
(for personal use only)
OSLO - In the wake of the hostage drama in Moscow, the Russian government intends to spend more on the anti-terrorism campaign and scrap funds for federal nuclear safety programmes.
The Federation Council, the upper chamber of the Russian parliament, drafted a 7bn rouble bill - equivalent to $233m - for additional funding of the Russian security forces. The amount was later reduced to just over 3bn roubles by the Russian cabinet. Other budget items, such as security at strategic sites, will be increased, contributing to the overall rise in security funds.
But the increase will cut other spending; among these are funds earlier agreed for nuclear safety projects in the Russian Federation.
One of the projects to have its funding slashed is Lepse - a storage ship filled with damaged spent nuclear fuel assemblies moored outside Murmansk at the Kola Peninsula.
The Lepse project
The Lepse project has been dragging since 1994, when Bellona in co-operation with Murmansk Shipping Company, or MSCo, - the commercial operator of Russia's nuclear-powered icebreaker fleet - facilitated the EU Commissioner's visit to Murmansk, which brought the first international funding to the project.
Lepse has onboard 639 spent nuclear fuel assemblies, which have been stored there for 20 to 37 years. The conditions onboard are considered to be a health hazard for the personnel. This prompted Bellona to finance onshore cabins for the dilapidated ship's crew to reduce risks to their health. Even though Lepse is being constantly monitored, it has an aged hull and is located in the Kola Fjord area, a region of heavy shipping, which presents a risk to the environment in case of accident.
The urgency of Lepse's remediation has been recognised by international experts and governments. But only this year the final framework agreement was signed to release funds and to start working on the ship. Two years will be spent on paper work - preparation of the project on how to unload damaged fuel assemblies from the ship's hold with the use of robotics. This work and the eventual unloading operation will be funded by western donors, including the EU and Norway.
But there are other expenses to take care of, such as keeping the ship afloat. This year, MSCo received 50m roubles to maintain the ship from the federal budget. A larger sum was in the federal budget for the year 2003, but now the chances of getting the funding are slim, the money will be transferred to the security forces, Bellona's sources at MSCo say.
In the long run, the Russian side is also to foot the bill for managing the fuel after it is extracted from Lepse and put onshore, as well as decommissioning the ship. There are other sources to possible funding, but these depend on the signing of the Multilateral Nuclear Environmental Programme for the Russian Federation (MNEPR).
MNEPR to be discussed at Putin's visit to Oslo
MNEPR was to become a universal agreement between Russia and other states wising to contribute to nuclear safety projects in north-west Russia. The agreement was to regulate tax exemption, nuclear liability and other issues in international nuclear safety projects. Despite the good idea supporting the agreement, negotiations between Russia and potential donor states have been carried out for years without result.
The last issues remaining to be discussed relate to value-added taxes. As soon as this problem is resolved, the first part of the 62m euro-fund pledged by the European countries can be spent on projects in north-west Russia.
MNEPR, according to Russia's Foreign Ministry, is on the agenda when Russia's President Vladimir Putin arrives in Oslo for the one-day visit on November 12th.
But signing MNEPR may not be enough for the eventual release of the funds. Russia has to be also one of the contributors and allocate 10m euros of the 62m fund. So far, Russia has only pledged to do so, without giving a final confirmation. Such a confirmation may be complicated, considering the new spending earmarked for the security forces included in Russia's 2003 budget.
Other nuclear programmes are in danger
The discussion of the 2003 budget is still pending in the Russian State Duma, but the initial reactions indicate that there will be no major opposition to cuts in nuclear safety. So far, there have been no reports on other specific nuclear safety projects to be buried in 2003, but those are usually the first candidates to be deleted as the past 10-year experience shows.
At the same time the Russian Ministry for Nuclear Energy, or Minatom, which has responsibility for managing radioactive waste, is prioritising commercial projects, or so it thinks, such as building new nuclear power plants and developing nuclear fuel cycle infrastructure; including the grand plan to import foreign spent nuclear fuel to the Russian Federation for storage and eventual reprocessing. What it hopes for is unclear. Miantaom's development of projects and obtaining international funding for them has been slow and some times such projects were simply stalled. return to menu
2. Russia To Remove All Spent Nuke Fuel From Kola Peninsula
November 12, 2002
(for personal use only)
MOSCOW - Russia will remove all the spent nuclear fuel currently stored on and near the Kola Peninsula, an Arctic region bordering on Norway, within the next six years, the governor of the region said.
Governor Yuri Yevdokimov said that the government had instructed the Defense Ministry and Atomic Energy Ministry to clean up the fuel that had been used by Russia's nuclear submarine fleet, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported Tuesday.
In July, the European Union, Russia and Norway pledged an initial 110 million euro (dlrs 109 million) to support a cleanup fund to rid Russia's northwestern coast of nuclear waste from the submarines.
Norway has financed construction of a special train to carry nuclear fuel from submarines, helped build a radioactive waste recycling facility in Murmansk, about 1,450 kilometers (906 miles) north of Moscow, and taken part in renovating a spent nuclear fuel storage site 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the Russian-Norwegian border, ITAR-Tass said. return to menu
3. Russia And Norway Stress Importance Of Cooperation In Recycling Nuclear Waste In Russian North
November 12, 2002
(for personal use only)
OSLO -- Russia and Norway have emphasized the importance of cooperation in the disposal of nuclear waste in the Russian north.
This problem is mentioned in a joint statement which was signed on Tuesday in Oslo following their negotiations by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Norway's Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik.
In the document the sides point to the "importance of bilateral and multilateral cooperation in north-western Russia in the recycling of nuclear submarines and the handling of radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel".
Moscow and Oslo are agreed "that any transportation of nuclear materials should be undertaken in accordance with international standards ensuring a high level of safety".
Russia and Norway, together with other partners, "will continue the work of concluding an agreement on a multilateral nuclear ecological programme of the Russian Federation".
This sphere of cooperation encompasses "prevention of radioactive pollution, development of 'clean production', protection of nature and preservation of biological diversity, retention of the natural and cultural heritage, and control of land and marine ecosystems, including an exchange of findings from assessments of possible consequences of activities hazardous to the environment".
The statement also stresses the significance of continued efforts to develop a mechanism for notification of severe accidents and search and rescue operations. return to menu
I. Missile Defense
1. U.S.-Russia: Negotiators Near Joint Satellite Agreement
NTI: Global Security Newswire
November 6, 2002
(for personal use only)
The United States and Russia are close to finalizing a memorandum of understanding on jointly building and operating two experimental satellites to track ballistic missile launches, Jane's Defense Weekly reported today (see GSN, July 2).
Officials are developing the satellites through the Russian-American Observation Satellite (RAMOS) program created in 1992 to help facilitate U.S.-Russian missile defense cooperation. One component of the project is to evaluate the effectiveness of tracking missile bodies as opposed to missile plumes, Jane's reported.
"We are in active negotiations ... with the Russians over closing an agreement on the RAMOS program," U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Ronald Kadish, director of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, said last month.
The memorandum would create the legal framework for constructing the satellites - which officials expect to launch in 2007 and 2008 - and operating them for two to five years, according to Jane's.
The United States plans to fund the more than $300 million project and to provide the necessary infrared sensors and other cameras, Jane's reported. Russia plans to build and launch the satellites and to provide control systems for a joint U.S.-Russian operations center to be located in Moscow (Michael Sirak, Jane's Defense Weekly, Nov. 6). return to menu
1. Vladimir Vinogradov Was Dismissed From The Position Of The First Deputy Minister RF On Atomic Energy Due To Retirement.
November 11, 2002
(for personal use only)
According to order of the Government of Russia No. 1533-p dd. 1 Nov. 2002, Vinogradov Vladimir Grigorievich was dismissed from the position of the First Deputy Minister of the Russian Federation on atomic energy due to retirement.
Simultaneously the Prime Minister Mikhail Kasiyanov signed the order to appoint Antipenko Evald Eugenievich to the position of the First Deputy Minister of the Russian Federation on atomic energy, having dismissed him from the occupied post. return to menu
1. Energy Secretary Abraham: U.S., Russia & International Atomic Energy Agency To Host March 2003 International "Dirty Bomb" Conference In Vienna
United States Department of Energy
November 13, 2002
"International Conference on Promoting the Security of Radiological Materials" To Expand World Framework For Tackling the Problems Posed by "Dirty Bombs"
Washington, D.C. - Following bilateral meetings to discuss joint cooperation between DOE and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on continuing cooperation on nuclear nonproliferation efforts, U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham and Mohamed El Baradei, Director General of the IAEA, today announced that the United States, Russia and IAEA will jointly sponsor a three-day, international convention on radiological dispersal devices (RDD), or "dirty bombs," in March 2003 in Vienna.
Abraham proposed the conference two-months ago while attending the IAEA's 46th General Conference in Vienna. The International Conference on Promoting the Security of Radiological Materials will be open to all member countries of the IAEA to join together in addressing threats posed by dirty bombs.
Abraham said addressing the new and present threats posed by 'dirty bombs' and their potential use for terror is vital to America's homeland security and international security.
"The detailed instructions on how to make dirty bombs found in Al Qaeda's caves make horrifyingly clear our need to have a firm plan to reduce the vulnerability of dangerous radiological materials to acquisition by those seeking to use them as weapons," Abraham said.
"The primary purpose of this international conference is to address the new and present dangers posed to our communities and further develop the international framework for dealing with the specific threat posed by dirty bombs," Abraham said.
Topics of discussion for the conference will likely cover four major themes: 1) recovering and securing high-risk, poorly controlled radioactive sources; 2) strengthening long-term regulatory control of radiological materials; 3) interdicting illicit trafficking/border controls; and 4) RDD scenarios, possible consequences, mitigation strategies, and emergency response.
Radiological Dispersal Devices, or dirty bombs, are much simpler to make and use than nuclear weapons.
"Unlike nuclear weapons, which require scarce, highly enriched uranium and plutonium for their destructive capabilities, dirty bombs can be made using many different types of dangerous radiological material," Secretary Abraham said. "While dirty bombs are not comparable to nuclear weapons in destructiveness, they are far easier to assemble and employ."
Materials for use in "dirty bombs" exist in many usable forms from medical isotopes to other radiography sources. The comparative ease to which these types of materials are available and can be put to use in a dirty bomb presents a special challenge to international nonproliferation efforts.
The international conference will build on several earlier initiatives launched by Abraham and his counterparts in Russia. In May 2002, Abraham and Russian Minister of Atomic Energy Aleksandr Rumyantesev agreed to work cooperatively to secure radioactive sources in Russia. Recently, news coverage (Washington Post, Monday, November 11, 2002) outlined those joint efforts with Russia and the IAEA to halt the proliferation of such radiological materials.
Earlier this year, in June, the U.S., Russia, and the IAEA established a tripartite working group on "Securing and Managing Radioactive Sources." This working group is developing a coordinated and proactive strategy to locate, recover, secure, and recycle orphan (radiological) sources through the Former Soviet Union.
"Safeguarding weapons usable material should be the highest priority for the IAEA and its member countries," Abraham said. "However, the organization also needs to seek ways to formally expand its scope to deal with the dangers posed by lower grade nuclear materials. Working with Director General El Baradei and our counterparts in Russia, this conference is a first step to expanding those efforts." return to menu
2. Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Georgy Mamedov Meets with US Under Secretary of State John Bolton
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
November 10, 2002
On November 10 Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Georgy Mamedov received the visiting US Under Secretary of State, John Bolton.
The sides held a thorough discussion of topical military-political and disarmament questions as part of preparations for an upcoming Russian-American summit meeting.
They noted that the unanimous adoption by the UN Security Council of Resolution 1441 on the resumption of UN inspection activity in Iraq had provided some additional prerequisites for intensifying Russian-US cooperation in bolstering the basic international nonproliferation regimes for weapons of mass destruction and their delivery vehicles.
The sides also agreed that the results of the November congressional elections in the United States would be conducive to ratification of the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty even before the end of the current year. return to menu
3. Press Briefing by Ari Fleischer (excerpted)
The White House
November 6, 2002
Q. And looking beyond the lame duck session -- you will want to do I assume the budget, in addition to the terror insurance. In a new Congress, does the election sweep last night for Republicans improve the prospect for action on some of the higher profile items being talked about, such as the Social Security overhaul or the changes -- the fundamental change in the tax code?
MR. FLEISCHER: I think there's no question that last night's results increase the likelihood of getting things done for the American people. There are many initiatives that could have and should have been done in the last Congress that got bottled up and stopped that now have a much stronger chance of getting done.
Having said that, of course, in the Senate, if members decide that they still want to exercise all their parliamentary rights, they can block, they can filibuster, they can use 60 votes to thwart a growing bipartisan consensus. But let me -- let me walk through a list of the things that were left undone from the last Congress that the President still remains very interested in.
One, protecting people's pensions. It was passed by the House, not passed by the Senate. The President would like to see action taken to protect people's pensions. Homeland security, I mentioned. Faith-based legislation to help predominantly low-income Americans have a better economic shot at making it in America. Welfare reform, another way to help predominantly low-income Americans have a better life in America, was not passed in the Senate. Energy legislation to make America more energy independent was not addressed that has a better chance of passage now. The Treaty of Moscow, the ratification of the treaty to have reductions in the number of offensive weapons the United States has was not passed.
DISCLAIMER: Nuclear News is presented for informational purposes only. Views presented in any given article are those of the individual author or source and not of RANSAC. RANSAC takes no responsibility for the technical accuracy of information contained in any article presented in Nuclear News.