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Nuclear News - 10/28/2004
RANSAC Nuclear News, October 28, 2004
Compiled By: Samantha Mikol


A.  Bioweapons
    1. Biological threat greater than nuclear or chemical: British report, AFP (10/25/2004)
B.  Nuclear Terrorism
    1. Nuclear strike 'key terror risk' , BBC News (10/27/2004)
    2. Pakistan's disturbing nuclear trail, Christian Science Monitor (10/27/2004)
C.  Cooperative Threat Reduction
    1. 'Weapons' seized in 19-nation drill which enrages North Korea, AFP (10/26/2004)
    2. A Tough Nuclear Neighborhood, UPI (10/25/2004)
    3. Chemical weapons storage methods spark protests, BBC Monitoring (10/25/2004)
    4. Nuclear genie blasts out of the bottle, Marc Erikson, Asia Times (10/18/2004)
D.  Russia-North Korea
    1. N. Korea has nuclear program, but no bomb - Russian experts, Interfax (10/28/2004)
    2. Iran unveils plant, indicating it will proceed with nuclear program, Saeed Kousha and Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, Knight Ridder Newspapers (10/27/2004)
    3. Safeguards Computer System in Need of Urgent Upgrade:IAEA Seeks Extrabudgetary Contributions to Cover Shortfall in Funding, IAEA (10/22/2004)
E.  Nuclear Industry
    1. Iran unveils plant, indicating it will proceed with nuclear program, Saeed Kousha and Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, Knight Ridder Newspapers (10/27/2004)
    2. Safeguards Computer System in Need of Urgent Upgrade:IAEA Seeks Extrabudgetary Contributions to Cover Shortfall in Funding, IAEA (10/22/2004)
F.  Nuclear Safey
    1. Faulty Security Reported at Russian Nuclear Power Plants, MosNews (10/28/2004)
    2. Terror concerns lead nuclear commission to shut Web site, Associated Press (10/26/2004)
G.  Official Statements
    1. Alexander Yakovenko, the Spokesman of Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Answers Questions from ITAR-TASS Regarding Upcoming Session in Moscow of Russia-US Working Group on Counterterrorism , Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation (10/27/2004)
H.  Links of Interest
    1. Re-engaging Russia and Russians: A New Agenda for American Foreign Policy, Center for American Progress (10/25/2004)



A.  Bioweapons

1.
Biological threat greater than nuclear or chemical: British report
AFP
10/25/2004
(for personal use only)


The threat from biological weapons has outstripped that of chemical and nuclear weapons because of advances in biotechnology, the respected British Medical Association (BMA) warned in a report published on Monday.

"What we are talking about here is the development of a technology which could clearly be misused by terrorists or deranged individuals," the author of the report, Professor Malcolm Dando, told a London press conference.

"We have a much more difficult problem in controlling biological weapons (as opposed to nuclear) in the long term," said Dando, an arms control expert for over 20 years.

In 1999, the BMA -- a voluntary professional association of doctors -- issued a report calling unsuccessfully for the 1975 UN convention on biological and chemical weapons to be strengthened.

The US government argued that imposing controls on biotechnology would interfere with benign research being carried out and consequently pulled out of international talks aimed at boosting the convention in 2001.

In its latest report, "Weapons and Humanity II", the BMA warns that the window of opportunity to tackle the spread of biological weapons was shrinking fast.

If unchecked, terrorists could target specific ethnic groups and spread devastating diseases such as deadly strains of flu, a synthetic version of the polio virus or genetically-engineered anthrax, it said.

"It's never been easier to develop biological weapons -- all you have to do is look on the Internet," said Vivienne Nathanson, head of science and ethics at the BMA.

"The situation today is arguably worse than it was when we published our last report five years ago," she told the press conference.

"The very existence of international laws to protect us is being questioned, and the anthrax attacks in the US in 2001 caused widespread panic and fear."

Urging the international community to take up the issue, she said: "This report does not make comfortable reading, but it is essential governments take action on this issue now.

"If we wait too long it will be virtually impossible to defend ourselves."



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B.  Nuclear Terrorism

1.
Nuclear strike 'key terror risk'
BBC News
10/27/2004
(for personal use only)


The UK and US must realise they cannot prevent all terror attacks and should focus on making sure they are not nuclear strikes, says a top academic.

Amitai Etzioni, a key influence on New Labour thinking, says the US emphasis on an "Axis of Evil" is misplaced.

The priority should instead be on "failing states", including Russia and Pakistan, who cannot properly control their nuclear material, he argues.

His report demands a major overhaul of world rules on nuclear technology.

Arms access

Professor Etzioni was a senior adviser to President Carter's White House and is the guru behind communitarian ideas which influenced the development of Blairite Third Way politics.

In a report for the Foreign Policy Centre think tank, he says a nuclear terrorist attack is the main danger faced by many nations.

"Attempts to defend against it by hardening domestic targets cannot work, nor can one rely on pre-emption by taking the war to the terrorists before they attack," he says.

That means there is an urgent need to curb terrorists' access to nuclear arms and the materials used to make them.

"We must recognise that we will be unable to stop all attacks and thus ensure terrorists will not be able to strike with weapons of mass destruction," Prof Etzioni continues.

Russia warning

He suggests so-called rogue states such as Iran and North Korea are less of a problem than "failed and failing states", which are more likely to be a source of nuclear materials.

He names Russia as the "failing state" of gravest concern as it has an estimated 90% of all fissile material outside America.

And he is also worried about Pakistan after one of its top nuclear scientists, Abdul Qadeer Khan, admitted leaking nuclear secrets.

Prof Etzioni criticises the US for overlooking those reports, suggesting it was done in return for Pakistani help in hunting Osama Bin Laden.

"This is like letting a serial killer go because he promised to catch some jay-walkers," he says.

Among his proposals for an overhaul of the current world non-proliferation regime are:

� Upgrading security at nuclear arms stores as a temporary measure
� Creating a new Global Safety Authority to tackle nuclear terrorism, using the intelligence links established in the wake of 11 September - backed by the United Nations' authority
� Encouraging, pressuring and using "all available means" to persuade countries to switch their highly-enriched uranium for less dangerous less-enriched uranium
� When possible, taking fissile material away from failing states to safe havens where it can be blended down or converted
� Compelling "failing and rogue states", and eventually all states, to destroy their nuclear bombs.


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2.
Pakistan's disturbing nuclear trail
Christian Science Monitor
10/27/2004
(for personal use only)


It's been a year since US and British agents boarded a German ship in the Mediterranean Sea that led to the exposure of the unimaginable: a vast black-market nuclear arms bazaar operating under superpower radar for more than a decade.

Today, investigators from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and some 20 countries working together have uncovered many parts of the clandestine network run by the father of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program, Abdul Qadeer Khan. Just in the past month, three more people who allegedly acted as middlemen were arrested in South Africa.

The records confiscated from these men's companies, together with other confiscated documents and information from Dr. Khan and his top aides, have led to the virtual shutdown of the clandestine network.

But government officials and experts say that in today's world, where both major presidential candidates say nuclear proliferation is the nation's most critical security threat, much more needs to be done.

"Overall, the Khan network is the biggest nonproliferation disaster of the nuclear age," says Matthew Bunn, a nuclear expert at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. "It is certainly good news that at least the beginning of breaking up that network has occurred. Unfortunately, a substantial number of players in that network are still walking around free people."

Those walking free are probably additional businessmen, still unidentified, with specific technical capabilities to manufacture parts for centrifuges, the machines used to enrich uranium, a necessary ingredient for a nuclear bomb.

Moreover, Dr. Khan and his top aides remain free, or at least semi-free. Although Khan publicly admitted his guilt this past February, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf pardoned him. Khan is said to be under house arrest in five costly mansions. His top aides are free as well, their movements apparently monitored.

Neither US nor IAEA investigators have been given access to Khan and his aides - a huge problem, investigators say, because they need to know if other countries besides Libya, North Korea, and Iran were offered Khan's plans and/or technology. For example, investigators in Iraq found records indicating that before the 1991 Gulf War, Khan offered Saddam Hussein, through a middleman, the same blueprints that he provided Libya.

Pakistani officials have interviewed Khan and his aides, and have "provided some information," says a Western diplomat close to the IAEA. "But they could provide much more."

Far more useful, say experts familiar with the network, have been documents confiscated in the raids on the various companies tied to the network - in Germany, Switzerland, Turkey, Malaysia, Dubai, and South Africa.

The IAEA, the nuclear watchdog arm of the United Nations, has no leverage on Pakistani officials. The United States is widely seen as the only country with the clout to pressure Pakistan.

But Washington walks a fine line with Islamabad: It must avoid alienating the country, since it's crucial to the US war on terror. At the same time, however, by backing the Musharraf regime too much, the US could inflame Islamic radicals in the country, leading to the government's overthrow. Relations between the two nations are tenuous.

Still, on balance, many experts think the US could do more to persuade Pakistan to let IAEA investigators interview Khan. "For the US to leverage Musharraf so the IAEA could talk to Khan, how does that destabilize Pakistan?" asks David Albright, president of the Institute of Science and International Security in Washington.

US government officials, for their part, won't talk about how much information Musharraf has handed over, nor how much pressure they are applying. A CIA official said the State Department is the government's focal point for tracking the network. Secretary of State Colin Powell has only said he's speaking with Musharraf, who is cooperating.

Still, investigators and officials are concerned that Khan's plans and technology may have been passed to other unknown people or countries.

One top concern: Critical parts for the centrifuge remain unaccounted for, even though individuals and companies in some 30 countries have been apprehended and searched, IAEA officials say. That suggests that other companies or people, still not caught, may be able to produce the missing parts.

"There's no sense that all the information this network possessed - gas centrifuge or nuclear weapons design or fabrication - has been recovered," says Dr. Albright. "It's still out there and could be offered to others."

"The most disturbing sign found in Libya was the bomb blueprints," says the Western diplomat close to the IAEA. "Is there some hard disk somewhere that has all these designs and where are they?"

Melissa Fleming, an IAEA spokeswoman, says an intensive probe is under way. "We need to determine who all the players were, what was involved, who the customers were, and to what extent it has now been busted or contained."


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C.  Cooperative Threat Reduction

1.
'Weapons' seized in 19-nation drill which enrages North Korea
AFP
10/26/2004
(for personal use only)


Nineteen countries on Tuesday practised ways to seize smuggled weapons in waters near Tokyo, in an exercise which the United States described as a signal to nearby North Korea and other alleged proliferators.

Ships and a total of nearly 900 troops from the United States, France, Australia and host Japan and observers from 15 other countries took part in the "Team Samurai" drill, the first of its kind in Asia.

"We are sending a signal to everybody who wants to traffic weapons of mass destruction that we have zero tolerance for that," said John Bolton, US undersecretary of state for arms control and international security.

He said that while the United States had concerns with alleged proliferation by China, which did not take part in the drill, the chief suspect was North Korea.

"North Korea is a serious proliferation problem and it's the world's foremost proliferator of ballistic missile technology," Bolton told reporters.

He said the exercise showed the determination of the "civilized world" not to allow "the world's most dangerous weapons to fall into the hands of the world's most dangerous people".

On a rainy morning a US vessel handed over a cache of "chemical weapons" to a Japanese boat in Sagami Bay, 50 kilometers (30 miles) south of Tokyo, triggering a high-speed chase by Australian, French, Japanese and US ships.

As five helicopters roared overhead, the Japanese coast guard shot a red powder at the suspected ship to signal it to stop.

Multinational inspectors, some in chemical-proof suits, searched and seized suspicious material from the cabin, which was sealed off with yellow tape by the Australian coast guard.

The drill, known as the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), was launched by US President George W. Bush in May 2003 to improve global coordination to intercept weapons shipments by rogue states and terrorist groups.

The United States has said the drills elsewhere helped persuade Libya to give up its program to develop weapons of mass destruction and provided intelligence that broke up the network of Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan's atomic bomb accused of assisting North Korea, Iran and Libya.

Stalinist North Korea, which has exported missiles and claims to be developing nuclear weapons, said the exercise showed a "US strategy to militarily blockade and stifle" it.

"This is a serious infringement upon the sovereignty of the DPRK (North Korea) and an intolerable military provocation to it," the official Korean Central News Agency said Monday.

Amid the blistering criticism, North Korea's neighbors China and South Korea did not respond to invitations to take part in the exercise.

North Korea is refusing to re-enter six-nation talks on its nuclear program.

The North Korean statement Monday said: "These moves only make the prospect of the negotiations ... dimmer as the days go by. Dialogue can never go together with war exercises."

Australian Army Colonel Mark Hoare said in Sagami Bay that "this is not an exercise targetting any country.

"Proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is a big concern for the international community and Australia," Hoare said.

French Air Force Colonel Maurice Dumond said France's "concern against proliferation is very strong and we fully support all these initiatives".

It is the 12th time the weapons drill has been held but the first time in Asia.

In the Japanese version, the seized material is Sarin -- the nerve gas spread in the Tokyo subway in 1995 by the Aum Supreme Truth cult which killed 12 people and injured more than 5,000.


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2.
A Tough Nuclear Neighborhood
UPI
10/25/2004
(for personal use only)


Pakistan's Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence knew Iran was willing to cough up several billion dollars - much of it in free oil - for Dr. Strangelove Khan's (pictured) nuclear secrets. AQK and some of his nuclear scientists made several trips to Iran in the late 1990s.

From the days of Cyrus the Great and Darius the Great who ruled the Persian Empire some 500 years before Christ through the Shah en Shah (king of kings) who lost his throne to revolutionary clerics in 1979, the talons of military supremacy ruled strategic thinking. The shah, not the ayatollahs, decided Iran would be a nuclear power.

Before the cancericken emperor was forced into exile, he had launched a plan to build 20 nuclear reactors, including two in Bushehr, which became a Russian project. The shah's regime also ratified the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in 1970 - and promptly began R&D efforts on fissile materials for nuclear weapons.

Today, as the ayatollahs survey the neighborhood, Iran is surrounded by nuclear powers - Russia to the north, Israel to the West, Pakistan and India to the east. That's four of the world's eight nuclear powers.

No amount of economic sticks and carrots will deflect the Iranian theocracy from a course originally set by the late shah. The ayatollahs will lie and cheat, but they won't roll over and play dead like Libya's Col. Muammar Gadhafi, who surrendered is embryonic nuclear weapons program.

Russia made clear in 2002 it will finish construction of the $840 million nuclear reactor in Bushehr and has contracted to build five more Iranian reactors over the next 10 years for $10 billion.

Jobless former Soviet nuclear engineers are known to have landed lucrative contracts in Iran. Could this know-how and expertise have rubbed off on Iranian counterparts in the form of weapons technology?

With 140,000 U.S. soldiers next door in Iraq, and U.S. carrier task forces south and west in the Arabian Sea and the Mediterranean, and the Israeli Air Force rehearsing preemptive strikes against Iran's underground nuclear facilities, the incentives, as the ayatollahs see them, are to speed things up.

Tehran is also buying time by agreeing to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency. A new IAEA report on Iran won't be ready till mid-February 2005.

We have a lot of work to do before we can conclude that Iran's program is exclusively for peaceful purposes, as the clerics claim, said IAEA Director-General Mohamed el-Baradei. Meanwhile, uranium enrichment and a parallel plutonium effort continue in 11 different underground facilities. These are designed to reduce the risk of detection or attack.

Pakistani denials notwithstanding, nuclear black marketeer Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan (AQK), the father of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal and arguably his country's most popular figure, built his fortune by assisting North Korea and Iran - two of the evildoers on President Bush's axis of evil - in their nuclear quest.

AQK supplied the centrifuges now used to process uranium into fuel for reactors or fissile material for bombs.

Iran received AQK's centrifuge designs as early as 1987. That was when Gen. Zia ul-Haq, Pakistan's late dictator, greenlighted secret nuclear cooperation with Iran.

Pakistan's Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence knew Iran was willing to cough up several billion dollars - much of it in free oil - for Dr. Strangelove Khan's nuclear secrets. AQK and some of his nuclear scientists made several trips to Iran in the late 1990s.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has assured the Bush administration he knew nothing of Dr. Khan's extracurricular activities. If that were true, Musharraf was conceding by the same token he didn't know what the ISI was up to. Dr. Khan and ISI were - and still are - connatural.

Some ranking European diplomats based in Tehran have told their home governments Iran will pursue its nuclear ambitions as long as Israel remains the only nuclear power in the Middle East. Israel, for its part, long ago concluded its very survival depends on its nuclear monopoly in the region. Hence, its decision to destroy Iraq's nuclear reactor before it went critical in 1981.

With 10 percent of the world's oil reserves and oil at $50 plus per barrel, Iran may not be too impressed by the threat of U.S. and European sanctions under counter-proliferation strategies. But these may persuade Iran to opt out of NPT and, like North Korea, go nuclear before the United States can figure out how to neutralize its efforts.

North Korea's latest act of nuclear defiance came over the weekend with a warning it would double its nuclear deterrent force if the United States persists in challenging its nuclear-weapons program.

Iraq has drained what little credibility the U.S. has left in the Middle East. For the U.S. to demand an end to Iran's nuclear programs while developing a new class of bunker-busting tactical nukes and to acquiesce in Israel's nuclear arsenal by pretending it doesn't exist, doesn't build back trust.

Unencumbered by image problems in the Middle East, Israel may take it upon itself to find a military solution to Iran's budding nuclear threat.

That may well be the message the Bush administration intended when it was leaked that the United States had supplied Israel with 500 deep-penetration precision-guided bombs. They are effective through concrete walls and ceilings to a depth of 100 meters.

There is little doubt Israel - using fighter-bombers, air-to-air refueling over Iraq, and submarine-launched cruise missiles from the Gulf - can retard Iran's nuclear plans several years.

But there is also little doubt such an Israeli strike would inflame the region. Some Arab intelligence sources believe Iran would retaliate by activating a new Iran-Iraq front. That, in turn, would spell quagmire for U.S. forces in Iraq.



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3.
Chemical weapons storage methods spark protests
BBC Monitoring
10/25/2004
(for personal use only)


Scientists from a former chemical weapons factory in Russia's Saratov Region have written to Russian Emergencies Minister Sergey Shoygu warning him of an impending disaster at the facility. The State Organic Synthesis Technology Institute in the village of Shikhany faces bankruptcy after years of declining demand. The scientists say the facility owes millions of roubles in debts and the 500 personnel have not been paid for months. They warn that no provisions have been made by the state to safeguard the stockpiles of toxic agents at the institute when it goes into liquidation.

The scientific associates of the federal state unitary enterprise State Organic Synthesis Technology Institute (GITOS) located in the settlement of Shikhany in Saratov Region, have written a letter to Russian Emergencies Minister Sergey Shoygu. They likened the current state of affairs at the enterprise to a natural disaster.

The institute, which specialized in the development of chemical weapons for 40 years and accumulated an impressive stockpile of toxic agents, owes R100m to energy companies and to its own personnel. All of the power has been shut off at the institute. The institute's wage arrears were accumulated over a period of 11 months and ultimately amounted to R17m.

"This is not a current problem. We have lived with it for more than 10 years," the chemists wrote. During that time, the personnel staff was cut to one-seventh of its previous size, decreasing from 3,500 positions to 500. The remaining personnel have nowhere to go: They cannot afford to move (they do not even have money for food, and hunger strikes are no longer a rare occurrence here), and there is no demand for such highly specific specialities in the country today. The institute's conversion plans (entailing the production of scarce medicines) have been difficult to implement: Investors face almost insurmountable difficulties because the institute still has the status of a restricted facility.

The institute's problems began in 1992 after Russia signed the international Chemical Weapons Convention. Now bankruptcy (or reorganization) proceedings have been instituted at the enterprise after all, but they might take a long time because of that nefarious restricted status.

According to the letter's authors, the Federal Agency for Industry, which took control of the institute along with the rest of the Russian Munitions Agency's charges, feels no responsibility for the hazardous production facility. According to the chemists, the agency only cares about the profitable portion of the enterprise (the one that barely makes a living on pharmaceuticals). For most of GITOS, the reorganization will mean liquidation (some of the institute buildings are already being dismantled). No one knows how the toxic agents, whose containers have to be renewed regularly, will be stored in the absence of personnel. In addition, no one knows what will happen to the personnel. An official resettlement programme has been instituted for them, but it can only handle a few families a year.

"People are losing their patience," the chemists informed Shoygu. "There have been demands for mass hunger strikes and highway traffic blockades. It has become exceptionally difficult to keep the work team within the law." The authors of the letter suggested that the failure of the Russian government to take action in this situation could lead to a man-made disaster.

A similar situation has taken shape in another part of the region, in the settlement of Gornyy, located near a chemical weapons destruction plant. As Nezavisimaya Gazeta already reported, 3,000 people in Gornyy attended a protest rally in spring last year. They demanded the dismissal of Aleksandr Timofeyev, the head of the district administration, saying that he had "lobbied for their interests badly on regional and federal levels".

Actually, GITOS had once wanted to be included in the chemical weapons destruction programme, but its request was denied for some reason. By the same token, the Gornyy residents were not included in the Mikhaylovskoye closed administrative territorial entity that was established around the plant. The offended Gornyy residents, who do not have standard water mains, sewers, and heating systems, threatened to prevent the opening of the second section of the dangerous plant, which was located nearby. A few days ago, the deputy governor of the regional government, Sergey Lisovskiy, introduced a new district leader to the residents of the settlement. He is Gennadiy Kuznetsov. This change of leadership took place at the same time as the protest of the chemists from GITOS.



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4.
Nuclear genie blasts out of the bottle
Marc Erikson
Asia Times
10/18/2004
(for personal use only)


US presidential candidates George W Bush and Senator John Kerry don't see eye to eye on much of anything, but in their first debate they found one point of agreement: that the single greatest danger to national (and global, we presume) security was the prospect of nuclear weapons in the hands of terrorists and detonated in a major population center.

Well, guys, just in case it's news to you (though it shouldn't be), the chances of that happening sooner rather than later are pretty close to a hundred percent and you'd better get ready for it - and I don't mean get ready for a "dirty bomb" filled with radioactive waste. That sort of bomb might kill someone if it dropped right on his head, some more people might be killed in the ensuing panic, and the cleanup would be a pain and take a while. But it would fall into Senator Kerry's "nuisance" category. The real threat is the real thing - a nuclear-fission device in the kiloton range capable of killing tens if not hundreds of thousands.

Bush's and Kerry's one and only time-worn prescription for how to keep nukes away from terrorists was enforcement of a strict non-proliferation regime. But that hasn't worked particularly well in the past and will prove even less efficient in the future. A recent reminder of that was the August 23 admission by South Korea that in 2000 it had enriched uranium in the course of atomic vapor laser isotope separation (AVLIS) experiments that had not been declared to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was opened for signature on July 1, 1968, and came into force on March 5, 1970. After that, at least five nations - Israel, India, Pakistan, South Africa, North Korea - engaged in clandestine nuclear-weapons programs and actually succeeded in developing nukes. Many others tried - Taiwan, South Korea, Argentina, Brazil, Iraq, Iran, Libya, to name just the best-known cases. Still others - Japan, Germany, Canada, Sweden, and so on - have the certain capability and have proliferated nuclear or dual-use technology. Beyond that, there are thousands of eminently capable nuclear scientists of the nations of the former Soviet Union and other countries who are for hire at the right price, not to speak of the tons of nuclear materials that vanished when the Soviet Union collapsed.

All this makes for a noxious mix. The long and the short of it is that 60 years after the detonation of the first nuclear device by the US Manhattan project in World War II, nuclear-weapons know-how, technology and materials are widespread, relatively inexpensive, and largely uncontrollable. Vast technological advances and the spread of civilian nuclear technology (some 450 reactors in 31 countries) make control and detection of diversion of dual-use technologies to weapons development virtually impossible.

The recent revelation of South Korean AVLIS experiments is a case in point. Laser isotope separation for uranium enrichment (first tried in 1973 at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in California, the United States' premier weapons lab) is a higher-tech, lower-cost, more difficult to detect way of enriching uranium from 3-5% enriched reactor fuel to 90%-plus weapons-grade uranium. The Koreans say it was an experiment by a "rogue" scientist unknown to higher-ups and the government. Nonsense! You don't set up and carry out million-dollar experiments on the sly in the government's main nuclear energy research facility, Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI).

Taiwan, similarly, has been in pursuit of nuclear weapons since the late 1960s. And as late as 1995, president Lee Teng-hui told the National Assembly: "We should re-study the question of nuclear weapons from a long-term point of view," adding, "Everyone knows we had had the plan before." Indeed, they had. A few years after mainland China exploded its first nuclear device in 1964, a Taiwanese program was set up. Siemens of West Germany was to supply reactors and reprocessing facilities. Eventually, a Canadian Candu "research reactor" was purchased - the same type of reactor delivered to India and used there to extract weapons-grade plutonium.

Japan, for what it's worth, has had a laser isotope enrichment program since 1980 and, of course, has all the facilities for producing weapons-grade materials for more than 20 years. "Eighteen months" was the answer of a top Japanese nuclear scientist when asked a few years back about how long it would take for Japan to build a nuke.

Iraq? After the Israelis destroyed a French-supplied plutonium-capable nuclear reactor (Osirak) in 1981 on the orders of prime minister Menachem Begin, Saddam Hussein started an electromagnetic isotope separation (EMIS) program to get highly enriched uranium (HEU) for nuclear-weapons production. Technically, it's easy and copies the first US enrichment program developed by Lawrence Livermore Labs. It's unknown how far it advanced. Recent news is that all traces of the technology developed in the 1980s and '90s has vanished.

Iran? Russian officials said in September 2000 that they would freeze shipment of a laser isotope separator to Iran, after repeated requests by the US administration of president Bill Clinton. Was the program actually suspended? No one knows for sure. But it would take up a whole lot less of space to conduct AVLIS enrichment than the widely publicized centrifuge enrichment now in contention.

What is clear is this: there now exist technological capabilities and know-how to make nukes anywhere, with little chance of detection. The US found out about the Taiwanese program in 1988 when a top Taiwanese weapons scientist defected after having supplied information to the Central Intelligence Agency for nearly 20 years. The CIA hasn't been that lucky with its human intelligence efforts elsewhere. The Vienna-based NPT watchdog agency, the IAEA, has nowhere near the already suspect and insufficient capabilities of the CIA.

Could a weapon made in Iran be passed on to terrorists? Did weapons information get passed from Pakistan to terrorists? We don't know. All we have is the testimony of Abdul Qadeer Khan, Pakistan's premier bomb maker, that information and technology were passed to North Korea in return for missile technology.

It would probably take at least the blind eye of a state favoring terrorists' aims for a period of a few years in order for nuke makers to get a bomb ready for delivery to the US or elsewhere in the West. But there are several such states that would turn a blind eye and there are several states that don't have sufficient control over their own territory for them to take notice.

As for delivery itself, it's not a big deal. I'm not talking about the Tom Clancy scenario of delivery via container ship to Baltimore. I'm calling attention to the delivery of tons of marijuana on fishing vessels from Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America to the US west coast. A bunch of guys in Bangkok (onetime bar owners there) did that on several occasions. On one final run, they got caught. They served a few years in a federal penitentiary and have since retired on their loot and proceeds.


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D.  Russia-North Korea

1.
N. Korea has nuclear program, but no bomb - Russian experts
Interfax
10/28/2004
(for personal use only)


North Korea has a military nuclear program but does not yet have a nuclear bomb, said Russian experts who are taking part in a nuclear non-proliferation conference in Moscow.

However, some experts think North Korea has one or two nuclear weapons, an Interfax correspondent reported from the conference.

"Only nuclear tests can give an answer to the dispute between the experts," said Far East Research Institute Deputy Director Vasily Mikheyev, a leading specialist in the sphere.

The absence of such tests is the main argument in favor of the opinion that North Korea does not have nuclear weapons, he said.


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2.
Iran unveils plant, indicating it will proceed with nuclear program
Saeed Kousha and Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson
Knight Ridder Newspapers
10/27/2004
(for personal use only)


Iranian officials unveiled their disputed heavy water plant 40 miles south of here Wednesday in a sign that Iran has no plans to suspend its nuclear program, despite calls from the United States to do so.

Leading a small group of journalists on the first-ever public tour of the facility, the plant's deputy director for research and development said that if the West won't provide Iran with nuclear technology, Iranians would provide it themselves. He said the United States and Europe have no reason to be concerned about the plant.

"They are 100 percent wrong" to be concerned over Iran's development of the ability to manufacture heavy water, said Manouchehr Madadi. "It is only for research."

So-called heavy water, which contains a heavier hydrogen particle than regular water, will allow Iran to run other nuclear reactors with the natural uranium it mines, rather than enriched uranium, which is far more expensive and difficult to produce, Madadi said.

But heavy water also can be used to develop material for nuclear weapons. It's that possibility that has alarmed the Bush administration, which has demanded the site be shut down and Iran's pursuit of uranium enrichment halted.

Great Britain, Germany and France, trying to avert a showdown next month between Iran and the United States before the U.N. Security Council, have offered to provide Iran with nuclear fuel and a light water research reactor that can't be used to develop nuclear weapons if Iran agrees to cease activities like those at Arak.

Iranian officials told European negotiators in Vienna Wednesday that they wouldn't suspend work on their nuclear program. Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, threatened on Iranian television to pull out of the talks if the West failed to soften its stance.

There were no signs of surrender at the plant, heralded at its entrance by a sign reading "Distillation Workshop." Anti-aircraft batteries guarded the facility.

Showing off the maze of pipes, cranes and scaffolding that took 10 years to construct, Madadi said the plant currently produces 8 tons of heavy water a year.

Within five months, he said, the plant is expected to double its output. Madadi said the plant's output would be used only for peaceful purposes.

But the facility remains a question for the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. watchdog in Vienna scrutinizing Iran's nuclear activities whose inspectors have toured it twice.

"Of all the types of nuclear reactor, why heavy water?" asked one Western diplomat reached by phone in Vienna, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.



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3.
Safeguards Computer System in Need of Urgent Upgrade:IAEA Seeks Extrabudgetary Contributions to Cover Shortfall in Funding
IAEA
10/22/2004
(for personal use only)


The computer system that IAEA inspectors use to track, analyse and verify a country�s nuclear activities badly needs an overhaul. Built in the late 1970s, the aging system is hampering inspectors from efficiently doing their jobs.

Calling on its Member States for extra budgetary contributions to upgrade the system, the Agency said, "Failure to replace the hardware and software, and to integrate fully all the information system components will carry large risks".

The current database systems stores confidential and exceptionally detailed information about past inspections conducted in over 900 facilities around the world. This includes countries� declarations of nuclear material, reports and analyses from inspections, and an expanse of other data. It is a powerful system that IAEA inspectors use to build a clearer picture of whether a country is using safeguarded nuclear material for military purposes.

But the outdated system is making work increasingly cumbersome for inspectors in the field and back at the Agency�s Vienna headquarters. A senior IAEA inspector described the current system as inflexible, with data spread across a "patchwork" of systems.

"Extracting information can take hours and days, making timely analysis of relevant safeguards data difficult and expensive," says the manager of the Project in the Safeguard�s Information Technology (IT) Division, Mr. Livio Costantini. "We need to prepare for new data to be included when drawing safeguards conclusions, such as open source, imagery and import and export information."

Additionally, growing IT requirements and demands by the new strengthened safeguards systems is further stretching aging resources.

"A major overhaul of the system is needed to allow inspectors immediate, secure online access to safeguards information," Mr. Costantini said. To date the US and UK have contributed over $12 million, respectively, to finance the IT overhaul but a $10 million shortfall remains.

"Our work load is increasing faster than available resources," Mr. Costantini said. "We need to integrate our IT systems to enhance our analytic capabilities so we can better help our inspectors do their job," he said.



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E.  Nuclear Industry

1.
Iran unveils plant, indicating it will proceed with nuclear program
Saeed Kousha and Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson
Knight Ridder Newspapers
10/27/2004
(for personal use only)


Iranian officials unveiled their disputed heavy water plant 40 miles south of here Wednesday in a sign that Iran has no plans to suspend its nuclear program, despite calls from the United States to do so.

Leading a small group of journalists on the first-ever public tour of the facility, the plant's deputy director for research and development said that if the West won't provide Iran with nuclear technology, Iranians would provide it themselves. He said the United States and Europe have no reason to be concerned about the plant.

"They are 100 percent wrong" to be concerned over Iran's development of the ability to manufacture heavy water, said Manouchehr Madadi. "It is only for research."

So-called heavy water, which contains a heavier hydrogen particle than regular water, will allow Iran to run other nuclear reactors with the natural uranium it mines, rather than enriched uranium, which is far more expensive and difficult to produce, Madadi said.

But heavy water also can be used to develop material for nuclear weapons. It's that possibility that has alarmed the Bush administration, which has demanded the site be shut down and Iran's pursuit of uranium enrichment halted.

Great Britain, Germany and France, trying to avert a showdown next month between Iran and the United States before the U.N. Security Council, have offered to provide Iran with nuclear fuel and a light water research reactor that can't be used to develop nuclear weapons if Iran agrees to cease activities like those at Arak.

Iranian officials told European negotiators in Vienna Wednesday that they wouldn't suspend work on their nuclear program. Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, threatened on Iranian television to pull out of the talks if the West failed to soften its stance.

There were no signs of surrender at the plant, heralded at its entrance by a sign reading "Distillation Workshop." Anti-aircraft batteries guarded the facility.

Showing off the maze of pipes, cranes and scaffolding that took 10 years to construct, Madadi said the plant currently produces 8 tons of heavy water a year.

Within five months, he said, the plant is expected to double its output. Madadi said the plant's output would be used only for peaceful purposes.

But the facility remains a question for the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. watchdog in Vienna scrutinizing Iran's nuclear activities whose inspectors have toured it twice.

"Of all the types of nuclear reactor, why heavy water?" asked one Western diplomat reached by phone in Vienna, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.


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2.
Safeguards Computer System in Need of Urgent Upgrade:IAEA Seeks Extrabudgetary Contributions to Cover Shortfall in Funding
IAEA
10/22/2004
(for personal use only)


The computer system that IAEA inspectors use to track, analyse and verify a country�s nuclear activities badly needs an overhaul. Built in the late 1970s, the aging system is hampering inspectors from efficiently doing their jobs.

Calling on its Member States for extra budgetary contributions to upgrade the system, the Agency said, "Failure to replace the hardware and software, and to integrate fully all the information system components will carry large risks".

The current database systems stores confidential and exceptionally detailed information about past inspections conducted in over 900 facilities around the world. This includes countries� declarations of nuclear material, reports and analyses from inspections, and an expanse of other data. It is a powerful system that IAEA inspectors use to build a clearer picture of whether a country is using safeguarded nuclear material for military purposes.

But the outdated system is making work increasingly cumbersome for inspectors in the field and back at the Agency�s Vienna headquarters. A senior IAEA inspector described the current system as inflexible, with data spread across a "patchwork" of systems.

"Extracting information can take hours and days, making timely analysis of relevant safeguards data difficult and expensive," says the manager of the Project in the Safeguard�s Information Technology (IT) Division, Mr. Livio Costantini. "We need to prepare for new data to be included when drawing safeguards conclusions, such as open source, imagery and import and export information." Additionally, growing IT requirements and demands by the new strengthened safeguards systems is further stretching aging resources.

"A major overhaul of the system is needed to allow inspectors immediate, secure online access to safeguards information," Mr. Costantini said. To date the US and UK have contributed over $12 million, respectively, to finance the IT overhaul but a $10 million shortfall remains.

"Our work load is increasing faster than available resources," Mr. Costantini said. "We need to integrate our IT systems to enhance our analytic capabilities so we can better help our inspectors do their job," he said.



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F.  Nuclear Safey

1.
Faulty Security Reported at Russian Nuclear Power Plants
MosNews
10/28/2004
(for personal use only)


A series of checks by prosecutors into Russia�s atomic power plants have uncovered faults in security at a number of plants.

Russia�s Deputy Prosecutor Vladimir Kolesnikov, in a statement to the Russian Information Agency Novosti, called the faults in the nuclear plants� security organizations �serious.�

A number of measures have already been taken to modernize and improve security, he said.

�But the problems still remain.�

Cases of nuclear materials being found by homeless people are frequent across Russia, and the West has expressed concern not only about access to nuclear materials, but the security of Russia�s nuclear arsenal as well.


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2.
Terror concerns lead nuclear commission to shut Web site
Associated Press
10/26/2004
(for personal use only)


The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has shut down its online document library, pending a review to determine what potentially sensitive documents should be removed because they might be useful to terrorists, the agency said Tuesday.

While the agency's Web site does not contain classified material, the NRC "is widening its review to remove additional information that could potentially be of use to a terrorist," the agency said in a statement.

The action came after a report by NBC that among the items found on the NRC Web site were detailed information on the location of radioactive substances, generally used in medicine and for industrial purposes, that could be used to make a so-called dirty bomb.

In some cases, the data included detailed building diagrams that pinpointed the location of the material in hospitals and other facilities, according to the NBC report.

As part of the review, the NRC said it temporarily closed public access to its online document library, its electronic hearing docket files, and to NRC staff documents related to NRC consideration of a high-level nuclear waste repository.

"This action, when completed, is intended to ensure that documents which might provide assistance to terrorists will be inaccessible while maintaining public access to information regarding NRC activities," the agency said.

After the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, more than 1,000 documents were removed from the NRC's Web site. Additional documents disappeared in subsequent reviews.

"Agency guidelines provide that any information that could be useful, or could reasonably be expected to be useful, to a terrorist in a potential attack should be withheld," said the NRC statement.



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G.  Official Statements

1.
Alexander Yakovenko, the Spokesman of Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Answers Questions from ITAR-TASS Regarding Upcoming Session in Moscow of Russia-US Working Group on Counterterrorism
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
10/27/2004
(for personal use only)


Question: Please tell us about the upcoming meeting in Moscow of the Russia-US Working Group on Counterterrorism. What are the problems it is dealing with and what is the composition of its participants?

Answer: The regular session of the Russia-US Working Group on Counterterrorism will take place in Moscow on October 28. From the American side the co-chairman of the Group is US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. Up until recently the Russian co-chairman was First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Vyacheslav Trubnikov. After his appointment as Russia's ambassador to India, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Kislyak is commissioned to serve as the cochairman of the Group.

Taking part in the session will be Anatoly Safonov, the Russian President's Special Representative for international cooperation in the fight against terrorism and cross-border organized crime, and Joseph Cofer Black, the US State Department coordinator for counterterrorism.

It will be recalled that the Working Group on Counterterrorism was established by a decision of the Russian and US Presidents in 2000, and this will now be its 12th session. Over these years the Group has become an integral part of Russian-American cooperation on the counterterrorist front. This is a unique, consistently developing mechanism for coordinating the efforts of Russia and the Unite States, in which on both sides the representatives of all the agencies engaged in the fight against international terrorism participate.

Within the Working Group, a confidential dialogue is under way in the context of elaboration of assessments of terrorist threats and the liquidation of terrorist infrastructures in various regions of the world and of cooperation within the UN Security Council Counterterrorism Committee and elsewhere.

At the twelfth session of the Group it is planned to discuss a whole variety of urgent topics. Among them, as has become established in the practice of the Group - the global struggle against terrorism (including the terrorist aspect of the problem of the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction), regional terrorist threats, counteraction against illegal drug distribution and the financing of terrorism, and the counterterrorist interaction of Russia and the United States, including that between the special services of the two countries as well as within the United Nations.

Question: How closely are Russia and the United States cooperating in the struggle against terrorism and in the field of the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction? Are the sides planning to come up with joint initiatives in these fields?

Answer: So far it is too early to anticipate specific decisions of the present Group meeting; a broad and substantive agenda will have to be worked out. As to the latest examples of Russian-American cooperation on the counterterrorist front, I shall note that it was largely thanks to the mutual understanding and joint work of Russia and the United States that UN Security Council Resolution 1540 was adopted, that is directed primarily towards the prevention of weapons mass destruction, related materials and delivery vehicles from falling into terrorist hands. After the Beslan tragedy the United States backed the adoption at Russia's initiative of UNSC Resolution 1566, which makes it incumbent upon every state to intensify efforts to identify terrorists and persons rendering them support or assistance.


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H.  Links of Interest

1.
Re-engaging Russia and Russians: A New Agenda for American Foreign Policy
Center for American Progress
10/25/2004
(for personal use only)
http://www.americanprogress.org/atf/cf/{E9245FE4-9A2B-43C7-A521-5D6FF2E06E03..


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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.

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