1. Anti-Americanism May Benefit Russia, Nationalist Politician Says
Ekho Moskvy radio, Moscow, in Russian
1400 GMT, November 15, 2002
(for personal use only)
[Presenter] Russia can benefit from the existence of nuclear and bacteriological weapons in North Korea, Duma Deputy speaker Vladimir Zhirinovskiy has told our radio station.
[Zhirinovskiy] We will benefit from this. It is a grand scenario for the next 10 years. In addition to Iraq, there are the following countries in the US line-up: Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iran, for example. But this will end, and then it will be necessary to deal with China. And China is a reliable ally of North Korea. In order to prepare public opinion, this conflict in the Far East will be allowed to smoulder at times to make it possible, later, to strike against North Korea and accuse China of some things, and to gradually start playing the yellow card. We have the green card now, but it should be balanced out by the yellow card so that the Muslims did not think that everything is against them. This scenario is to last for the next 100 years. We will be fighting terrorism in the green zone, mainly in the Middle East, northern Africa and Asia, gradually moving towards China. This will be carried out in one key: the axis of evil, from North Korea to Libya, and Americans will be shooting down those countries from time to time. But we can benefit from all this because of these huge anti-American feelings all over the world, and Russia will look more peace-loving, so to speak. We will be neutral. return to menu
WASHINGTON - There is a 10 to 40 percent chance that terrorists will conduct a successful attack with a crude "dirty bomb" in the next five to 10 years, David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, said Friday (see GSN, Nov. 15).
Albright outlined the likelihood of a variety of nuclear terrorism scenarios during a panel discussion at a nonproliferation conference held by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The chances of terrorists conducting a successful attack on a nuclear power plant, detonating a more sophisticated radiological weapon or a crude nuclear weapon within the next 10 years range from 1 to 10 percent, he said (see GSN, Oct. 30). While these percentages are low, they indicate that there is still a possibility of nuclear terrorism, which officials need to take seriously, Albright added.
There are also fears terrorists could construct a plutonium-based nuclear weapon, Albright said. While the chance of a successful attack using such a weapon is low - no more than 5 percent - it still poses a potential risk, he said. Even though a crude plutonium-based weapon might achieve an explosive yield of only a few hundred tons or a few kilotons - which would be a failure by U.S. standards - that could be sufficient for terrorist aims, Albright said.
The chance of what many would consider the worst-case scenario - terrorists obtaining and detonating an intact nuclear warhead - is less than 1 percent, Albright said. Even though the chances of a successful sophisticated nuclear or radiological terrorism attack are relatively low, the high consequences of such an attack should lead to the United States making its prevention the highest priority, he said.
2. International Response: Lawless Regions Pose Proliferation Risks
Global Security Newswire
November 15, 2002
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WASHINGTON - Terrorists and international criminal organizations are becoming increasingly able to obtain contraband materials, including weapons of mass destruction, in international "gray zones" - regions with weak governmental control and rule of law, Vladimir Orlov, director of the Nuclear Nonproliferation and Russia Program at the Moscow-based PIR Center, said yesterday (see GSN, Oct. 8).
Three of the most critical gray zones are Southeast Asia, the former Soviet Union - primarily Central Asia - and the Transnistria region of Moldova, Orlov said during a panel discussion at a nonproliferation conference sponsored by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. In Southeast Asia, a lack of government control has led to an increase in terrorist and organized crime activities in Indonesia, the southern Philippines and the "Golden Triangle" - consisting of sections of Myanmar, Laos and Thailand, he said.
Continuing instability in Afghanistan and Tajikistan, as well as in Chechnya, the Georgian region of Abkhazia and the Russian Ingushetiya region, also pose illegal trafficking concerns, Orlov said (see GSN, Oct. 23). In the Transnistria region of Moldova, there have been reported contacts between Russian and other international nonstate groups, he said. Representatives from al-Qaeda, Hamas, Iran and Chechnya are also believed to have traveled to the region.
States of concern might also take advantage of the lack of governmental oversight and control in the international gray zones to expand their contacts with terrorist and organized criminal groups, Orlov said. For example, there have been reports of meetings between Libyan representatives and terrorists in unstable regions of Colombia, he said. In the mid-1990s, North Korean agents are believed to have attempted to obtain chemical weapons from Russian organized crime groups, Orlov said.
Orlov said he was skeptical of the effectiveness of encouraging the authorities in the so-called gray zones to take a greater role in cracking down on illegal trafficking and possible WMD proliferation. Instead, an international response should begin to be considered, which could include exchanges of information and threat assessments, he said. return to menu
1. Russia Mindful Of Non-Proliferation Dealings With Iran: Ivanov
November 16, 2002
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Paris -- Russia is not violating any commitment to non-proliferation in its cooperation with Iran, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said here on Friday.
Ivanov told reporters that Russia maintains normal commercial contacts and agreements with Iran, stressing that Moscow will observe all international norms and rules in its interactions with Tehran.
"Unfounded statements that Moscow's cooperation with Tehran is necessarily a violation by Russia of some obligations is a myth. But this myth is widely developed in the world, and I will not conceal it, (and) is encouraged by some countries," he said.
Ivanov further stressed that Russia's building a nuclear power plant in Bushehr in Iran is under full control of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
"For this reason, when accusations of violating the non-proliferation regime in this project are presented to Russia, this does not cause anything but our indignation," he said. return to menu
D. Cooperative Threat Reduction
1. U.S.-Russia: Nunn Calls for Naming Threat Reduction Czars
Global Security Newswire
November 15, 2002
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WASHINGTON - The presidents of Russia and the United States should each appoint a single person to oversee efforts to secure nuclear, chemical and biological materials to raise the profile of the "the greatest danger in the world today," according to former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn, co-chairman of the private Nuclear Threat Initiative.
"The first step is to put our own houses in order - identifying, accounting for, and securing the weapons and materials in Russia and the United States," Nunn said in a speech to a nonproliferation conference sponsored by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "Each president should appoint one high-level person, reporting directly to the president, to take full responsibility for this issue, and this issue alone."
He added, "Both presidents should pledge to complete this task at the fastest possible pace and urge other nations to do likewise."
Nunn, an original co-sponsor of the so-called Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program, the decade-old U.S. effort to secure former Soviet weapons of mass destruction and related materials, said that despite dramatic progress in recent years, "I think we have been slow to perceive this danger and respond to this threat."
"The likeliest use of these weapons is in terrorists' hands," he said.
In addition to naming a senior official in the U.S., Russian and other governments to coordinate cooperative threat reduction efforts, Nunn recommended that Moscow and Washington:
Immediately begin outlining adequate safeguards for tactical nuclear weapons - a perfect terrorism weapon that is not covered by any arms control treaties;
Devise operational changes in the alert status of U.S. and Russian nuclear forces to reduce the risk of accidental launch or miscalculation, while expanding the decision time for each president to decide whether to retaliate to a perceived nuclear attack;
Combine their collective biological defense knowledge, beginning with a joint fight against infectious diseases in Russia; and
Launch a global partnership against catastrophic terrorism, based on the premise that the greatest dangers of the 21st century are threats to all nations and must be solved by all nations.
Moreover, there is no doubt that securing WMD materials at their source will be the most effective way to stave off the terrorist WMD threat, he added.
"Acquiring weapons and materials is the hardest step for the terrorists to take, and the easiest step for us to stop. By contrast, every subsequent step in the process is easier for the terrorists to take, and harder for us to stop. Once they gain access to nuclear materials, they've completed the most difficult step - and our nightmare begins."
Quoting statistics provided by Wall Street investor Warren Buffet, who recently pledged $2.5 million to the Nuclear Threat Initiative, Nunn said even a small improvement in security can make a big difference over time.
If the chance of a weapon of mass destruction being used in a given year is 10 percent, the chance of getting through a 50-year period without a disaster is only .51 percent, Nunn said. If the chance can be reduced to 1 percent each year, there is a 60.5 percent chance of making it through 50 years safely, according to Nunn.
"We can make it 120 times less likely that we will suffer from a use of these weapons for the next 50 years. As Warren Buffet would say, that's real leverage," Nunn said. return to menu
2. Russia Seeks Foreign Funding To Scrap Old Nuclear Submarines
November 15, 2002
(for personal use only)
BOLSHOI KAMEN - The towering rock in the bay that gave this town its name is long gone, blown up by engineers who called it a hindrance to navigation. Gone, too, is the town's one-time livelihood: refueling and repairing the submarines that were once the backbone of the mighty Pacific Fleet.
Today, half a century since its birth as a secret Soviet military town, Bolshoi Kamen, Russian for Big Rock, has a less grandiose mission. It's home to Zvezda (Star), one of Russia's two principal centers for scrapping the submarines that Russia no longer needs.
For eight years, Zvezda has received tens of millions of dollars from the United States to safely dismantle 22 submarines that were taken out of service under U.S.-Russian disarmament treaties. But next year, after it cuts up the last such submarine, the U.S. funding will dry up - leaving Zvezda in search of new money to tackle the scrapping of dozens of other subs that did not target the United States, yet remain grave security and environmental threats.
And Russia says the money needs to be found quickly. "Nuclear things are like a volcano and can explode any time," said Deputy Nuclear Power Minister Valery Lebedev.
Altogether, Russia has decommissioned about 190 nuclear-powered submarines over the past 15 years. According to Russian officials, 90 of them still languish dockside with nuclear fuel in their reactors.
The abundant fissile material aboard the subs, the poor condition of the Far East naval facilities and their proximity to North Korea and China provoke "significant proliferation concerns," according to the Center for Nonproliferation Studies at California's Monterey Institute of International Studies.
Lack of adequate maintenance has also created a risk of contaminating the sea around the subs with radiation.
"People basically didn't look after the hulls properly, and now they are sinking," said Ian Downing, director of U.K. Nuclear Industries Directorate.
Russia plans to destroy 131 submarines by 2010, according to Viktor Akhunov, head of the Russian Atomic Energy Ministry's ecology and decommissioning department. Almost all of them were decommissioned in the 1980s, at the end of their service life.
Two of these submarines sank off the northeastern Kamchatka Peninsula in 1997 and 1999 but were quickly raised and did no harm, the navy said.
Still, submarines of this type cause serious concern.
"They are dangerous and the danger will grow with every year," said Vice Admiral Nikolai Yurasov, who oversees submarine dismantlement at the Pacific Fleet.
Akhunov said 55 of the retired submarines are floating in the waters of the Russian Far East.
According to Akhunov, it would cost $3.9 billion to scrap the 131 submarines. Yet this year, the Russian government has budgeted just $70 million for improving nuclear safety in the country as a whole, he said.
"These funds are obviously insufficient," Akhunov lamented.
One of the most pressing tasks is construction of a storage base for 19 reactor compartments that are currently floating in Razboynik Bay, near Bolshoi Kamen, Akhunov said.
Because Russia has no onshore facility for storing decommissioned submarine reactors, the practice is to cut three-compartment sections out of the submarines - the reactor compartment in the middle, flanked by compartments on either side that provide buoyancy. The three-compartment sections are stored afloat - but they corrode and can sink with time. And they remain radioactive.
Construction of the storage facility, which would cost an estimated $70 million, is slated to start next year, but Russia is still soliciting funds from abroad. The facility would include a dock to raise the sections from water, equipment to cut out the reactor compartments and a reinforced concrete site to store them.
Russia is also seeking $18 million to build a shelter for two submarines whose reactors have had accidents and emit high radiation. The subs, currently floated by pontoons in a bay near Bolshoi Kamen, would be stored in the shelter for 300 years until fission capability in their reactors ends.
One other challenge is to find $7 million to modernize a rail link to ship casks with spent nuclear fuel to a processing plant. If the upgrade is not done, said Zvezda director Yuri Shulgan, a new U.S.-funded nuclear fuel-removal facility that is due to open in November will be useless, and Zvezda will have to revert to the more dangerous technique of shipping the fuel by sea to a reliable rail link, increasing the risk of radiation exposure.
Bolshoi Kamen, about 37.5 kilometers (17 miles) east of the Pacific port of Vladivostok, still remains a secret town closed to foreigners except those with special permission. This is despite the fact that most of Zvezda's equipment to dismantle submarines, which is its main work now, has been donated by foreign governments.
In one of the most vivid stages of dismantlement, gigantic guillotine-like sheers, courtesy of the United States, clank deafeningly as they chop up huge chunks of submarine hulls to be sold as scrap metal. Nearby a concrete windowless building processes thick power cables to extract valuable copper, using up-to-date U.S. equipment.
In addition to the U.S. funding, Zvezda received a $42 million barge-mounted complex from Japan to treat low-level liquid radioactive waste from the laundry that handles plant workers' clothes.
Shulgan said that when work to scrap the nuclear submarines started in the late 1980s, "such waste was dumped in the waters of the Sea of Japan because the infrastructure for its collection, processing and storage was lacking."
Later, the plant built underground storage facilities out of reinforced concrete, but these quickly filled up, prompting the resumption of dumping of radioactive water into the Sea of Japan, he said. The problem caused the Russian government to ban the scrapping of subs at the plant in 1997-98.
The Japanese-funded treatment complex went into operation a year ago and has treated all the waste that had accumulated over several years, Shulgan said. The Japanese named the complex Suzuran - Japanese for lily of the valley.
"Dismantlement of nuclear submarines wouldn't have been possible without this facility," Shulgan stated.
The Japanese government has earmarked $158 million more for cleanup work at Bolshoi Kamen - funding prompted in part by Russian military journalist Grigory Pasko's whistleblowing on nuclear waste dumping in the area.
Pasko is in a prison near Vladivostok, serving a four-year term for illegally attending a meeting of top brass and possessing notes he made there. He says his trial for treason and prosecution on lesser charge are punishment for his revelations of the navy's nuclear pollution.
The additional Japanese money however has yet to be spent. The Japanese government blamed the delay on red tape in Russia and on what one Japanese diplomat visiting Vladivostok described as "a communication problem." However the diplomat, who wished to remain anonymous, said he saw light at the end of the tunnel.
But another Japanese diplomat, Yukiya Amano, director of the arms control agency at Japan's Foreign Ministry, told a recent Vladivostok conference on Russian nuclear legacy that, "Japanese public is beginning to wonder whether Russia needs this money."
Other foreign governments also experienced difficulty in donating money toward nuclear cleanup in Russia.
The United Kingdom, which in 2001 set aside $125 million to spend in the former Soviet Union, mostly in Russia, to dismantle submarines and improve nuclear safety and waste management, complained that unresolved legal issues stopped implementation of the program.
"The Russian government says that after the work is finished it will pass the liability back to us," said Ian Downing, director of the nuclear industries directorate of the U.K. government. "It's not in conformity with the international legal framework."
"We have been trying to resolve the issue for the past 18 months and largely have spent nothing," he added, speaking on the sidelines of the Vladivostok conference that took place in September. "We hope that we will have resolved the problem by the end of this year." return to menu
E. ABM Treaty
1. Taking Bush to Task on ABM -- And to Court
November 18, 2002
(for personal use only)
WASHINGTON -- Remember when U.S.-Russian relations were going to sour over the ABM Treaty? Remember when President George W. Bush finally rejected the treaty this summer -- and the Russians shrugged, and life went on?
As an intelligent reader, you were probably pleased you'd no longer be hearing about the 30-year-old Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. Whether or not you approved of Bush's decision -- he ditched the treaty because his administration wants to put weapons in space -- you at least could enjoy the closure. The treaty is dead. Fine. Let's move on.
Not so fast. It turns out a fundamental question about the U.S. constitutional system -- whether the president has the authority to tear up a treaty -- has never been settled. Now 32 members of Congress are suing the president. They argue that before junking any treaty he is required under the Constitution to seek and obtain congressional assent before junking a treaty.
The case has been championed by Dennis Kucinich, the Ohio Democrat -- it is officially Kucinich v. Bush -- and argued by the Lawyers' Committee on Nuclear Policy (filings can be found at www.lcnp.org).
The Constitution is silent on who gets to renounce a treaty. But it does say that once adopted, a treaty becomes "supreme law of the land." The Kucinich team argues that since the president can't repeal laws, he can't repeal treaties.
"This administration appears unenthusiastic about our constitutional traditions," says Kucinich.
He notes that Bush insisted he did not need congressional approval for a war with Iraq (and though he did eventually seek it, the president has never agreed he was required to do so).
"What is to prevent this or future presidents," his legal filing asks, "from terminating, by his or her sole decision, U.S. adherence to the North Atlantic Treaty (NATO), the Genocide Convention, the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, various anti-terrorism conventions, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Chemical and Biological Weapons Conventions or, for that matter, the charter of the United Nations?"
In the first court hearing three weeks ago, Judge John Bates seemed much more in tune with President Bush's Justice Department lawyer than with Kucinich's pro bono team.
The Kucinich team wanted to talk about the larger constitutional question, and was quick to move beyond it to complain broadly of the Bush administration's unilateralism -- from rejection of the Kyoto protocol to looming war with Iraq.
Bush's lawyer countered that this just demonstrated they'd lost a political battle and want to improperly refight it in the courts.
He insisted the president does have the right to scrap treaties at whim; but rather than dwell upon such heights, Bush's lawyer and Judge Bates discussed the many technical barriers to overcome before the judge can consider their case.
There is, for example, Goldwater v. Carter, the only other time members of Congress sued over a president's treaty-junking: Republicans led by Barry Goldwater in 1978 opposed Jimmy Carter's unilateral decision to pull out of a mutual defense pact with Taiwan. The sharply divided court could not come up with a majority ruling. Eventually a four-justice plurality concluded it was a political and not a legal matter.
Judge Bates should rule in a few weeks. Both sides say they'll appeal. The Kucinich team is convinced the president's unilateralist agenda endangers world security; the Bush team counters that it's the president's call to make. The ABM Treaty is dead. Long live the ABM Treaty. return to menu
F. Nuclear Safety
1. The Challenge Of Russia's Nuclear Rubbish Tip
November 18, 2002
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A communist slogan that promised to bring "atomic energy to every house" in the Soviet Union has dangerous echoes in the Kola peninsula of Russia's far north. At a site 35 miles from the Norwegian border, above the Arctic Circle, the Russian navy guards 93 reactor cores with 35 tons of fuel in conditions so bad foreigners have only in the past few months been allowed in to witness them.
Scientists visiting Andreyeva Bay report radiation levels tens of thousands of times normal. They have seen rusting containers of nuclear waste in the open air, exposed to the extreme climate, and contaminated storage boxes leaking water into the ground and sea.
The Kola peninsula is among the toughest challenges in the former Soviet Union for nuclear clean-up experts - and Andreyeva is probably the most dangerous place of all. "There is no other place in the world where such large amounts of spent nuclear fuel are so improperly stored as at the Kola naval bases," says Bellona, a Norwegian environmental group whose analyses are used by both Russia's officials and its critics.
The region became a nuclear archipelago in Soviet times as home to a substantial part of the nuclear-powered submarine fleet, the civilian nuclear-powered ice-breaker fleet, and four nuclear power stations.
After a decade of sharp decline in state funding for military and non-military purposes and bureaucratic fighting between the government and foreign donors, many long-term problems of fuel reprocessing and storage remain unresolved.
The worst fears have not been realised. The adjacent resource-rich Barents Sea remains one of the cleanest in the world. But potential dangers are enormous - not least after representatives of the rebel Chechen government of Aslan Maskhadov last month warned that Chechen terrorists might seize nuclear materials within Russia.
Only last week, Yuri Vishnevsky, head of the state nuclear energy inspectorate, admitted that several kilogrammes of uranium, including several grammes of weapons-grade material, had gone missing over the past 10 years. In that time, says the PIR Centre, a Moscow-based non-proliferation agency, while many alleged cases of theft have proved untrue, there have been at least 52 incidents of illegal nuclear trafficking involving Russia.
At a time of heightened attention towards prevention, debate is increasingly focused on the inadequacy of security measures. Mr Vishnevsky conceded that the physical protection of nuclear plants "does not, to put it mildly, quite measure up to the rules".
The Russian American Nuclear Security Advisory Council warned last week that, despite considerable efforts - notably from the US Department of Energy - about half Russia's weapons-grade material was inadequately secured. Measures to protect thousands of lower-grade radioactive stocks, which could form the basis for "dirty" bombs, were weaker still.
Nevertheless, there are signs of hope, reflecting fresh threats of terrorism and the greater willingness of other countries to provide extra resources in response, including a $20bn decade-long commitment by the G8 nations to address the issue globally. Torbjorn Norendal, the Norwegian ambassador at large for nuclear issues, says long-stalled discussions on a multilateral inter-governmental agreement with Russia to ease the work of foreign nuclear clean-up are close to resolution. The stumbling block, a willingness by Russia to waive civil liability for foreign contractors in the event of an accident during clean-up, was removed in principle by negotiators a few weeks ago.
Pro-Russian observers put some of the blame for slow progress on poor co-ordination among donors, bureaucracy, tough political demands and the lack of close personal relationships.
Bellona has been active in highlighting for a decade "the Arctic nuclear challenge" around Kola. Andrei Zolotkov, one of its activists and a former Soviet parliamentarian and nuclear engineer, risked serious trouble 10 years ago when he denounced the then Soviet Union's violation of international agreements banning the dumping of nuclear waste at sea.
Bellona was frozen out by Russian officials during the second half of the 1990s as it fought an ultimately successful battle in the courts to clear Alexander Nikitin, another activist, naval officer and journalist, of espionage charges for reporting on nuclear abuses.
Yet today, the organisation has an office in Murmansk, and Mr Zolotkov is set to participate in the next stage of dismantling the Kursk nuclear submarine after it was lifted from the Barents Sea last year.
Frederic Hauge, Bellona's president, says: "Compared with the size of the problem, there has not been too much progress. But we are not standing still. Whoever said it was going to be easy?" return to menu
G. HEU Shipments
1. U.S., Russia near deal to ship uranium to Y-12
November 17, 2002
(for personal use only)
OAK RIDGE - If a U.S.-Russian deal is completed as expected early next year, the Y-12 National Security Complex will begin receiving regular shipments of highly enriched uranium from Russia.
The nuclear material would be used to fuel several research reactors in the United States, including the High Flux Isotope Reactor at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
The proposal calls for the purchase of 250 kilograms - about 550 pounds - a year for up to 10 years, according to Bill Brumley, the federal manager at Y-12. The price tag is still being negotiated, he said.
Brumley said officials hope that a government-to-government agreement will be reached in December, followed by a contract signing in February.
"Our target is to have delivery of the first shipments in May," Brumley said.
Y-12 personnel have already made one trip to Russia to prepare for the shipments, he said.
The project is part of an international effort to reduce the risk of weapons-usable materials getting into the hands of terrorists or others seeking a nuclear capability.
Among the biggest concerns is the security of nuclear materials in the former Soviet Union. The head of Russia's nuclear regulatory agency earlier this week confirmed that small amounts of material have disappeared from the nuclear facilities, and there are suspicions of much worse occurring.
Y-12's principal mission is production of nuclear warhead parts from uranium and other materials. It is the principal storehouse for bomb-grade uranium in the United States.
The Oak Ridge plant also is heavily involved in the nonproliferation programs, regularly sending experts to Russia and other foreign countries to provide advice and assistance on nuclear security.
In conjunction with ORNL, Y-12 last year established a Joint Center for International Threat Reduction.
Y-12 will not process the Russian uranium into fuel rods or plates for the U.S. research reactors, but will store the material in high-security vaults and dispense it as needed.
Brumley declined to specify the enrichment level of the Russian uranium, but it must be extremely high if it's going to be converted to fuel for the High Flux Isotope Reactor.
The ORNL reactor uses uranium fuel that's more than 90 percent U-235, the fissionable isotope of uranium. That's in the same range as material used in nuclear weapons.
By comparison, TVA's nuclear reactors typically use fuel that's only 4 to 5 percent U-235 to produce electricity for the region.
Brumley said this would be the first U.S. purchase of highly enriched uranium from Russia that does not involve "blending down" the materials to reduce the U-235 content.
By definition, highly enriched uranium contains at least 20 percent U-235, which is the minimum concentration needed for atomic bombs.
A number of research reactors around the world are being reconfigured to use uranium fuel with a lower enrichment. This reduces the risk of reactor fuel being diverted to use in weapons.
Y-12 is supporting this program by taking some of its surplus of highly enriched uranium and blending it with depleted uranium (which has most of the U-235 removed) to provide a fuel stock with an enrichment of 19.75 percent.
"The key is anything below 20 percent can't be used for weapons purposes," Brumley said.
The newly processed uranium is sold to research institutions with reactors that have made the conversion.
Y-12 has a $24 million contract with the Japanese Atomic Energy Institute and an $8.6 million contract with French authorities.
Another deal is nearly completed with a group in Argentina, which is designing and building a research reactor in Australia, Brumley said. Negotiations are under way with South Korea, he said. return to menu
H. Loose Nukes
1. Nuclear Material Missing For Russia's Plants: Official
November 15, 2002
(for personal use only)
MOSCOW-- Small amounts of nuclear material have disappeared from Russian atomic facilities, says the head of the country's nuclear regulatory agency.
Yuri Vishnyevsky, head of Gosatomnadzor, was vague about how much material had gone missing, but said it was either grams of weapons-grade material or kilograms of reactor-grade material.
He did not give details about when the disappearances were discovered or how the material could have gone missing.
A few grams of weapons-grade nuclear material, such as uranium-235, would not be sufficient to make an atomic bomb. Reactor-grade uranium can be enriched to weapons-grade through a complicated chemical and physical process.
Some countries, such as Iraq, are believed to possess the equipment and knowledge to perform the enrichment process.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, there has been concern over the security of the nuclear material possessed by Russia and other former Soviet republics.
The International Atomic Energy Agency noted two cases of uranium theft from Elektrosal, a Moscow nuclear factory, in 1994 and 1995. In both cases, Russian police retrieved the material. return to menu
2. Russian Official Says Nuclear Material Has Disappeared From Country's Plants
November 14, 2002
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MOSCOW - The head of Russia's nuclear regulatory agency said Thursday that small amounts of weapons- and reactor-grade nuclear materials had disappeared from the country's atomic facilities.
"Instances of the loss of nuclear materials have been recorded, but what the quantity is is another question," Yuri Vishnyevsky, head of Gosatomnadzor, said at a news conference. "Of those situations that we can talk about in actuality, they involve either grams of weapons-grade or kilograms of the usual uranium used in atomic power plants."
"Most often, these instances are connected with factories preparing fuel: Elektrostal in the Moscow region and Novosibirsk," Vishnyevsky said.
He did not give further details on when the losses were discovered or how the material might have gone missing.
The International Atomic Energy Agency lists two known thefts of uranium from Elektrostal, in 1994 and 1995. In both cases, the uranium was seized by Russian police.
The agency also lists the 1994 seizeure in Germany of 400 grams of plutonium brought in from Moscow.
A few grams of Uranium-235, the most common weapons-grade nuclear material, would not be sufficient to make a bomb. But reactor-grade uranium can be enriched to weapons-grade through a complicated process believed to be possessed by some countries trying to develop nuclear weapons, such as Iraq.
Russia's nuclear security has been a high concern in the decade since the Soviet Union's collapse brought financial troubles that reduced funding for state facilities and induced poverty that could motivate nuclear workers to sell atomic materials.
Worries have risen in the wake of rising terrorism, including last month's attack on a Moscow theater by Chechen gunmen, who held hundreds of hostages to press their demand that Russia withdraw troops from Chechnya (news - web sites).
"After Sept. 11 of last year, the situation with regard to security at all Russian nuclear facilities changed for the better, but it still has not reached perfection," Vishnyevsky said.
He estimated that bringing security to its ideal level at Russian nuclear operations would require about 6 billion rubles (US$200 million).
Vishnyevsky made his statements in the course of criticizing a proposed law on technological regulation now being considered by the Duma, the lower house of parliament.
He presented a letter to the Duma from a number of prominent scientists criticizing the proposed law for calling for "the minimal necessary demands for security at the same time that in the whole world and in our country the demands for security in using atomic energy should be the maximum" return to menu
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.