In the October 4th issue of Nuclear News, the article, ï¿½Presidential campaign focuses on nuclear proliferationï¿½ published by Scripps Howard News Service and located under the Cooperative Threat Reduction section of Nuclear News included an error. The original article stated incorrectly that ï¿½42 pounds of nuclear material were securedï¿½. A corrected version of the story issued subsequently by Scripps Howard noted that ï¿½42 metric tons of nuclear material were secured.ï¿½
1. Russia to get 2.3 Bln rubles in foreign aid to eliminate chemical weapons
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Russia is to receive 2.3 billion rubles in aid from abroad under intergovernmental agreements for implementing its chemical weapons disposal program.
"Aid coming from states that have signed the Chemical Weapons Convention is one of the extra-budgetary sources of funding the Russian chemical weapons disposal program. In 2005, Russia is expected to receive an estimated 2.5 billion rubles in aid," Deputy head of the Federal Industry Agency Viktor Kholstov told the State Commission for Chemical Disarmament in Moscow on Wednesday.
1. Anxiety voiced in Tashkent over threat of nuclear terrorism
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Nuclear physicists are concerned about the danger of the illegal transfer of radioactive materials, the president of Uzbekistan's Academy of Sciences said on Tuesday.
Bekzod Yuldashev was speaking at the third Eurasian conference in Tashkent on nuclear science and its application that brought together about 250 scientists from various countries and representatives of international bodies.
He said the conference differed from the previous ones in that "the events of the past few years have radically changed people's notions of international terrorism and of the extremely serious character of the threat that it poses and the need for comprehensive security, including nuclear."
2. Al Qaeda leader identified in 'dirty bomb' plot
The Washington Times
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A top al Qaeda cell leader spotted in Mexico and Canada has been identified as an active player in a scheme to obtain radioactive materials for a so-called "dirty bomb" that could be smuggled into the United States, federal authorities said.
Adnan G. El Shukrijumah, who worshipped at the same South Florida mosque as Jose Padilla ï¿½ now being held as an enemy combatant in a plot to detonate a "dirty bomb" ï¿½ has attempted unsuccessfully to enter the United States using phony passports, authorities said.
The al Qaeda leader reportedly was observed last year during a trip to Canada, where authorities suspect he posed as a student at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. An FBI informant told authorities the terrorist leader was seeking material to build a dirty bomb ï¿½ a conventional explosive laced with radioactive material.
McMaster University has a five-megawatt research reactor, whose uranium-based fuel rods come from the United States. Canadian officials have denied any security breach of the McMaster facility.
Authorities said El Shukrijumah lived in the same South Florida area as Padilla and that the two worshipped at the Darul Aloom mosque. It is not clear whether they knew each other, but authorities said their names surfaced during the interrogation of captured senior al Qaeda organizer Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, one of Osama bin Laden's closest advisers.
Mohammed has been called a mastermind of the September 11 attacks.
Meanwhile, a seven-count indictment unsealed yesterday in Boston accused a British man of conspiring with Richard C. Reid to use shoe bombs to blow up airplanes. Saajid Badat, 25, was charged with attempted murder and trying to destroy an aircraft. The indictment said bomb components similar to Reid's were found at his home.
El Shukrijumah, for whom the State Department has offered a $5 million reward, is being sought for questioning by the FBI in connection with terrorist threats against the United States. He was named in a March 2003 material-witness arrest warrant by prosecutors in Northern Virginia, where U.S. Attorney Paul J. McNulty said he is sought as a potential terrorism threat.
Known to law enforcement officials as the "diminutive terrorist" because of his 5-foot-4-inch stature, El Shukrijumah also is believed by authorities to have met with alien smugglers in Mexico and Honduras, seeking help in bringing al Qaeda members illegally into the United States.
Authorities said those meetings involved members of the Mara Salvatrucha gang, which U.S. immigration officials said has smuggled hundreds of Central and South Americans ï¿½ mostly gang members ï¿½ into the United States.
They said El Shukrijumah was spotted in July in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, meeting with leaders of the gang, which has been tied to alien, drug and weapons smuggling, along with numerous killings, robberies, burglaries, carjackings, extortions, rapes and aggravated assaults ï¿½ including at least seven killings in Virginia.
Padilla, a Muslim convert also known as Abdullah al Muhajir, was arrested by FBI agents on a material witness warrant in May 2002 at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport after a flight from Pakistan. He was carrying $10,000 in U.S. currency from his al Qaeda handlers.
El Shukrijumah also was friends in Florida with Imran Mandhai, one of two college students convicted of conspiring unsuccessfully to bomb electrical stations, a National Guard armory, Jewish businesses and Mount Rushmore.
Authorities said El Shukrijumah also is believed to have taken part in or directed surveillance efforts by al Qaeda members of the financial districts in New York ï¿½ which led this summer to an increase in the terror alert level from Code Yellow to Code Orange in New York City, Washington D.C., and Newark, N.J.
They said there were specific threats against the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in the District, the Prudential Building in Newark, and Citigroup and the Stock Exchange in New York City.
An FBI bulletin in March said El Shukrijumah was born in Saudi Arabia, although the Saudi government has denied that he is a Saudi citizen.
The biggest threat facing the United States - and the world - is the spread of nuclear material to rogue states and terrorists. So say terrorism experts. Both major American presidential candidates concurred in last week's televised debate.
So why is the US moving plutonium from military to less secure civilian control? And why, critics ask, is it embarking on research programs that teach other nations how to use plutonium in nuclear power plants after a quarter-century of opposing such moves? That's what Tom Clements wants to know.
Lurking beside major highways that cut through the heart of France, Mr. Clements and other antinuclear activists from Greenpeace usually watch for unmarked white trucks carrying plutonium-based fuel to French nuclear power plants. Their aim is to dramatize how easily terrorists could spot the trucks and steal their contents. This week, however, they hope to track more dangerous quarry: a convoy laden with about 275 pounds of plutonium oxide shipped from the US. Unlike nuclear fuel for power plants, which terrorists would have to convert to make a bomb, this plutonium is weapons grade - enough dark, coarse-grained powder that could be used immediately to make 15 to 20 atom bombs the size of the one dropped on Nagasaki in World War II.
Knowing terrorists are seeking nuclear material, nations have made strides to secure bomb-grade highly enriched uranium (HEU). But they have paid far less attention to an alternative: plutonium.
The US shipment of weapons-grade plutonium to France, its first overseas, is not only a security threat but also clouds America's nonproliferation message, critics say. Moreover, it focuses attention on plutonium from another source - nuclear power plants. This "separated" plutonium can be converted into a weapon and poses a threat comparable to HEU, most experts say.
"The big risk we face with separated plutonium is from theft by terrorists at a factory making reactor fuel - maybe an inside job," says David Albright, a researcher at the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), a Washington think tank. "You always have to worry about the physical protection of plutonium. Nations always tell you their protection is good. But it may not be enough."
ï¿½ The world is swimming in plutonium. Although military stockpiles have stabilized, the amount of civilian-held plutonium has doubled in the past 13 years, says a new ISIS report. At the end of 2003, 14 nations' civilian reactors held 235 metric tons of the most dangerous variety in terms of a terrorist threat - separated plutonium. That's enough material to fashion some 40,000 Nagasaki-sized weapons; the amount is growing by five to 10 tons a year.
ï¿½ France annually converts tons of this plutonium to a mixed-oxide or MOX fuel, which is trucked to its nuclear power plants. Despite its "reactor grade" label, MOX could make an effective bomb - as a US test in 1962 revealed. Even if a weapon "fizzled" because its plutonium was only reactor-grade, it would still yield a one-kiloton explosion that would "rip the heart out of a city," says Leonard Spector, deputy director of the Monterey Institute's Center for Nonproliferation Studies.
ï¿½ While it's far simpler to make a bomb from HEU, it's conceivable that terrorists could build a plutonium-based device with expert help, observers say. Just 15 pounds of the material, a baseball-sized chunk, would be enough to wipe out a large portion of a major city. Last month, Kyrgyz security agents arrested a man trying to sell 60 small containers of plutonium.
The US has carefully protected the onetime shipment of plutonium to France, counters Bryan Wilkes, a spokesman for the National Nuclear Security Administration, an arm of the Department of Energy. "There are efforts and procedures in place we're not going to discuss publicly."
By developing new technology to reprocess the plutonium in nuclear fuel, the US can boost its energy independence and reduce the volume of nuclear waste, the administration argues. It contends this could make unnecessary a second nuclear-waste repository beyond Yucca Mountain.
"It is our hope that this technology will ... provide the benefits of recycling spent fuel without increasing proliferation risks," Kyle McSlarrow, deputy secretary of Energy, told Congress in July.
Two forms, one menace
Plutonium is created when uranium fuel is irradiated within a nuclear reactor. Reprocessing extracts the plutonium from spent fuel, which may then be fabricated into more fuel for reactors. Civilian plutonium comes in two basic varieties: the separated plutonium and irradiated plutonium, which is embedded within spent nuclear fuel rods.
Ironically, irradiated plutonium is less worrisome because it is so radioactive. Terrorists typically wouldn't be able to handle spent rods without fatal consequences, though desperadoes could steal it for use in a dirty bomb. But separated plutonium could be diverted within a plant or stolen en route and readily transformed back into metal plutonium suitable for bombs, nonproliferation experts say.
The arrival in France Wednesday of US weapons-grade plutonium - destined for fabrication into commercial reactor fuel - highlights these concerns.
During the 1960s, it was thought that future shortages of uranium would make it economical to extract plutonium from reactor waste and use it for fuel. Some nations forged ahead, Britain, France, Japan, and the Soviet Union among them, despite the higher cost of reprocessing. So did the US - until India in 1974 conducted a "peaceful nuclear explosion" using a device created with plutonium culled from a research reactor.
Recognizing the danger of nuclear proliferation, presidents Ford and Carter discouraged the use of plutonium as a fuel in civilian reactors. The US government withdrew its support for a "plutonium economy," throttling back America's use of plutonium as reactor fuel.
So while the US military has plenty of weapons-grade plutonium, America has refused to reprocess spent nuclear fuel to extract plutonium for civilian use. Therefore, the US does not have a growing stockpile of civilian plutonium - which some would say is a huge blessing, given the costs involved in disposing of it.
Even so, the idea of using plutonium for civilian use gained a toehold during the Clinton administration. The US and Russia in 2000 signed a disarmament treaty to dispose of "excess" military plutonium by following a dual-track approach. Some of the 34 metric tons of military plutonium from each country would be mixed with nuclear waste and put into canisters for burial - while the rest would be made into MOX for use in the US and Russia.
Russia had resisted the burial option, declaring plutonium a valuable resource. In January 2002, the Bush administration dropped the idea, too. Instead, Energy secretary Spencer Abraham announced all 34 tons of excess US weapons plutonium would be made into MOX for power plants.
"The US and Russia have agreed to dispose of 34 tons each of weapons plutonium through the Russians' preferred method of conversion to MOX," says Mr. Wilkes, whose agency oversees the joint weapons-to-MOX program. "We need the Russians on board."
The US plan calls for France to create a limited amount of reactor fuel from the weapons-grade plutonium and then ship it back to South Carolina's Catawba nuclear-power plant for a test next spring. After that, the plan is for MOX to be made on US soil at a new $2.2 billion fabrication plant in South Carolina. The facility is to be completed by 2008 by a US subsidiary of Areva, the French company that's supplying the MOX to Catawba.
The plan faces some obstacles. Environmentalists have filed suit in a bid to block the use of MOX fuel in the Catawba plant. A bigger obstacle is a dispute between Russia and the US over who would be liable in case of an accident or terrorist act involving US contractors working in Russia on the new MOX plant there. Absent an agreement, the whole plan will grind to a halt, analysts say.
Officially, the US still discourages other nations from using plutonium-based fuels in civilian reactors. But shipping plutonium to France to make MOX undercuts any US efforts to discourage the likes of Iran and North Korea from reprocessing spent reactor fuel, several experts say.
Even for disarmament purposes, the use of MOX in US power plants "sets a terrible example for the world" when burying the material is still an alternative, says Paul Leventhal, head of the Nuclear Control Institute in Washington. "You don't want to in any way legitimate the use of bomb-grade fuels to generate electricity - because you can do that with low-grade fuels. So why allow it?"
The US has in recent years begun promoting nuclear fuel-reprocessing technology for extracting plutonium, experts note. In May 2001, the Bush administration's new National Energy Policy emphasized the use of nuclear power to meet energy needs. At the same time, it also endorsed and promoted reconsideration of "advanced reprocessing" of spent reactor fuel. Despite the administration's hopes, this futuristic material would not significantly decrease terrorists' ability to use it to make a bomb, critics say.
"The Bush administration has explicitly changed its policies," says Edwin Lyman, a senior scientist in the global security program of the Union of Concerned Scientists. "It is actively promoting recycling spent fuel at home and abroad."
The US has spearheaded the Generation IV International Forum with some 10 nations to develop new generation nuclear power plants. At least three of the five reactor designs under consideration would use recycled plutonium, Dr. Lyman says.
The US has also contracted with South Korea and other nations to work on the International Nuclear Energy Research Initiative, which includes new technologies for recycling plutonium. South Korea revealed last month that in 1982 some of its civilian researchers, without permission, had separated plutonium.
From power to bombs?
The revelation caused an uproar among nonproliferation experts, who worry about civilian programs developing reprocessing expertise that can lead to weapons development. International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei called the experiments "of serious concern."
Meanwhile, Japan has a new reprocessing plant seeking certification. India wants to expand its reprocessing capacity. China has said it, too, wants to reprocess for civilian purposes.
"Plutonium production is a machine that just won't stop," says Dr. Spector of the Monterey Institute. "The nuclear establishment is so powerful in some countries, it just drives forward by its own inertia."
The spread of reprocessing technology, combined with the move to use MOX fuel in US reactors, comes at a time when the world is desperate to corral loose nuclear material before terrorists can get it.
Plutonium is especially hard to track. When it's being reprocessed or fabricated, it sticks to nearly everything it comes in contact with. Last year, for example, international nuclear inspectors reported that the Tokaimura nuclear-fuel reprocessing plant north of Tokyo could not account for some of its plutonium - enough to make 25 nuclear weapons. Similarly, France's COGEMA Cadarache plant where the US is shipping its excess military plutonium, was found by EURATOM in 2002 to have "an unacceptable amount of material unaccounted for," according to a recent report in Nuclear Fuel, a trade publication.
"It's like seeing an accident in the future and pressing on the accelerator.," says Henry Sokolski of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center. "We're all human, and we make mistakes in government. But on this we should just cease and desist."
1. 200 American nukes said to be in Western Europe
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The US administration is seriously concerned with Russia's failure to reduce tactical nuclear arms
Washington is seriously concerned that Russia has incompletely fulfilled its obligations to reduce tactical nuclear arms in Europe. The statement has been released by Stephen Rademaker, Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, after the talks with the Russian specialists. The talks were devoted to issues of control over nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.
According to the American official, the European community is concerned about the large quantity of Russian tactical warheads in the region and about the countries, at which those nukes are aimed. Rademaker said that tactical nuclear arms of NATO countries do not raise so much concern for the US administration.
In 1991, the US president stated that the American tactical nuclear arms in Europe would be considerably reduced. US nukes were removed; their utilization was completed last year. Russian President Boris Yeltsin announced the reduction of nuclear arms at that time too. However, the US administration believes that Russia failed to stand by its commitments.
The high-ranking American official did not specify either the reason or the ground of such concerns. Stephen Rademaker did not say why US specialists suspect several Russian companies of providing assistance to Iran in the development of long-range missiles. According to Rademaker, it is highly dangerous: Iran presently possesses 2,000-kilometer distant missiles, which cannot reach the USA. However, Rademaker added, the range could be increased some day. The US administration believes that such missiles will be rather important for Iran, if they are capable of taking weapons of mass destruction to large distances. In addition, the US diplomat said, Iran supports terrorist movements in several Mideast states. The American administration is seriously concerned about a possibility for one of those terrorist groups to obtain nuclear weapons.
Rademaker's statements have probably been timed to the forthcoming visit of the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to Iran. The visit is scheduled for October 10-11. The talks will reportedly touch upon the issues of nuclear cooperation between Iran and Russia. Tehran has repeatedly stated that its nuclear program was solely peaceful. Spokespeople for the Russian Foreign Ministry did not comment Stephen Rademaker's statements.
As far as the tactical nuclear arms are concerned, one has to believe politicians, when they say that the arms have been reduced. Unlike strategic nuclear forces, which have been repeatedly calculated and inspected, the international community cannot control the tactical warheads. However, both Russia and Washington express their concerns on the issue from time to time. The American administration is basically worried about the deployment of nukes in Russia's Kaliningrad region, whereas Russia denies the nuclear presence in the region. In return, Russian officials remind Washington that there are 200 B-51 American nuclear air bombs in Western Europe. The US administration neither rejects their existence, nor does it say that the arsenal is useless from the military point of view.
Eight Russian delegates arrived in Los Alamos Sunday night for a weeklong study of ecological and environmental issues with local experts.
This is the first trip to America for the delegates, comprised of government officials, environmental leaders, academics and environmental activists who are visiting as part of the Los Alamos/Sarov Sister City Initiative coordinated by Lawry Mann, chair; Fran Berting, treasurer, and member Dr. Robert Thomsen and others.
Marina Pershina, 27, is an ecological engineer in Sarov.
"Los Alamos has an absolutely wonderful landscape - it's a very friendly, quiet and cozy town," Pershina said.
Dr. Ann Wadstrom is a four-time host of Russian delegates visiting Los Alamos.
"We enjoy having them stay with us," Wadstrom said. "They share so much of their culture with us and are like us in so many of our feelings and values. One night two doctors stayed with us from a visiting medical group. We were sitting around the table and they began to sing Russian songs to us and one began to play songs on the piano; it was so much fun."
Thomsen also has been very active in the Russian medical exchange program, Mann said. He is participating heavily with the current visitors also.
"I'm involved because I think it's important to create a bridge between our communities," Thomsen said.
Russian environmentalists face tremendous challenges because their country's vast territory contains valuable natural resources but suffers from degradation and exploitation.
Despite economic difficulties, Russia has a growing nongovernmental sector working to preserve the country's forests, water supplies, and endangered species.
"One of my every day activities is to work so there will be no fires," said Andrey Zinenko, 38, director of city forestry. "My first impression in Los Alamos is that the trees are exactly like the trees in my home in Siberia."
Nina Hecker has been going to Russia for nine years and actually got the medical exchange program going in Los Alamos after visiting a newborn wing at a Russian hospital.
"I told Sig that we had to do something to help the newborns," Nina said. "When we returned to Los Alamos, I spoke with doctors here and the program began to evolve."
The Heckers have grown close to the Russian people of Sarov, Nina said. She said it was actually a friend from Russia that told them their home had survived the 2000 fire.
"We were staying with friends in Santa Fe when we found out from a friend in Sarov that our home was OK," Nina said. "He e-mailed Sig that our house was okay because the phone was still ringing."
The Los Alamos/Sarov Sister City Initiative works in conjunction with the State Department's Open World Program, initiated in 1999 by the Library of Congress and authorized by the U.S. Congress to increase understanding between the United States and Russia and to support Russia's efforts to strengthen its democratic reforms.
Hosts include Hecker and Nina, Alice Mann, Paul White, Jody Howell, Wadstrom, Thomsen, and Ron Augustson.
Translators for the week include Olga Augustson and Valida Dushdurova who both work at UNM-LA.
The Open World Russian facilitators include Natalia Shaydorova from Novgorod and Yaroslav Pisarev from Chelyabinsk.
The group toured Bandelier Monday and met with Open Space Specialist Craig Martin. Martin spoke about the Cerro Grande Fire, recovery efforts, open space programs, and community and youth involvement.
On Tuesday, they listened to Lorrie Bonds-Lopez, division office chief of staff at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Bonds-Lopez spoke at Fuller Lodge about risk reduction and environmental stewardship, LANL work on environment cleanup and issues of legacy waste.
John Bartlit of New Mexico Citizens for Clean Air and Water lead a discussion on citizens' roles in cleanup and the importance of advisory groups.
The delegates went to the Bradbury Science Museum for a tour and talk on Russian scientific interchanges by Hecker.
Berting spoke today about the Northern New Mexico Citizen's Advisory Board at Fuller Lodge and Barbara Gonzales spoke about Indian Pueblos. The group also toured the landfill and heard a recycle talk by Regina Wheeler. Thursday they will hear a talk on solid and liquid waste programs at Fuller Lodge by Deputy Utilities Manager Tim Glasco, and an alternative energy talk by Buck Monday, utilities manager. Friday begins with an Open World program planning session at Fuller Lodge by World Services of La Crosse Inc., followed by a talk from Rep. Jeannette Wallace on the legislature on environmental concerns and state energy conservation.
Early in October Moscow hosted deputy U.S. Secretary of State for armaments control Stephen G. Rademaker. He held a number of consultations with officials of the Foreign Ministry and the Defense Ministry on the issues of mutual concern and met deputies of the State Duma. Today, finishing his visit he gave a press conference for Moscow reporters.
"The main goal of my visit to Moscow, said Mr. Rademaker, is to discuss arms control issues as well as the progress of the Moscow Strategic Potentials Reduction Treaty and the START-1.
The USA has provided the agenda of these forums with a number of new proposals regarding prohibition of fissionable materials production as well as production and export of unliftable mines, and the American side was interested in hearing the opinion of the Russian counterparts on these initiatives.
During the meetings with his Russian counterparts Mr. Rademaker paid great attention to the adjusted Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) and the conditions, which should ensure its ratification by most of the parties to this document as well as to deployment of the U.S. national missile defense. The U.S. deputy secretary of state briefed the reporters that Russia within the framework of START-1 had brought to the attention of the USA the main performances of new Bulava sea-based strategic missile, which had recently been tested in the northern seas. But the dialog over its compliance with the fundamental provisions of this treaty will be resumed within the framework of the Geneva conference, he noted.
The most topical questions that the deputy secretary of state was asked during the press conference related to the future of the CFE Treaty: "Has this treaty lost its significance against the background of the recent dramatic changes in Europe? Why are NATO states not ready to ratify it, although Russia has already done it?".
Mr. Rademakers response was rather traditional: "Our countries are not ready to do it because Russia has not fulfilled its commitments undertaken in 1999 during signing of the adjusted treaty in Istanbul. There Russia promised to withdraw its troops from Moldavia and sign an agreement with Georgia on the terms of withdrawing its troops from that country. Neither one thing nor the other has been done over the last five years". "The United States is ready to back the process by its own means, said the deputy secretary of state, and we are wondering why there is no progress here".
Mr. Rademaker also repeated Washington's position on Russia's concerns over the "grey zones" in the Baltic states, which had not joined the CFE Treaty, which means that any amount of heavy armaments, not subject to international control, may be deployed on their territory.
"They can not sign the treaty, said the deputy secretary of state, because prior to its ratification by most of the participants it does not exist de-facto". As soon as Russia fulfils its Istanbul commitments, the Baltic states, as they have repeatedly stated, will join the document.
The deputy secretary of state confirmed the readiness of his country to unconditionally adhere to the commitments undertaken within the Moscow Strategic Potentials Reduction Treaty. Before 2012, he said, we have reduced our Peacekeeper intercontinental missiles and three Trident submarines. As for stowing or disposing of the nuclear warheads dismounted from undeployed missiles, no treaty between the USA and the USSR or the USA and Russia mentions it, he pointed out. Inspection of these warheads constitutes a very complicated problem, therefore this issue is left outside bilateral accords.
Mr. Rademaker also voiced U.S. concerns over Iran's nuclear missile programs. "According to the information that we have, Iran supports international terrorist organizations, and if they catch hold of nuclear materials, the horrors of in New York and Beslan would seem childish jokes", he said. Although the reporters did not hear a word on how reliable the information about Tehran's links with terrorists was. But the U.S. representative referred to the presence of ballistic missiles in Iran explaining deployment of national missile defense elements in Alaska and other regions of his country as well as the endeavor to deploy such systems on the territory of some European states, with whom Washington was holding negotiations with this regard.
A legacy of plutonium production on the wane and a future that depends on economic diversification -- these are some of the things that the Tri-Cities and Zheleznogorsk, Russia, have in common. But the two places also share a bond through a joint U.S-Russian program meant to help Russia's "closed" nuclear cities survive a post-plutonium future and keep nuclear weapons material and expertise out of the hands of rogue nations or terrorists.
On Tuesday, Zheleznogorsk's deputy mayor, Pavel Yakushin, visited the Tri-Cities with representatives of other closed cities where the Soviet Union produced plutonium for nuclear weapons. The group hoped to learn more about how the Tri-Cities is adapting to a post-Hanford future.
The trip was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy's Nuclear Cities Initiative, which also brought Yakushin to the Mid-Columbia in 1998.
"We've been cooperating since then," Yakushin said during a Tuesday news conference at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The 1998 trip led to the 2000 opening of Zheleznogorsk's International Development Center to help train and assist those starting new businesses.
Modeled in part on other PNNL economic development efforts, the development center has helped bring about 500 new jobs to the city of 100,000 in southcentral Siberia, said Ron Nesse, PNNL's Nuclear Cities Initiative program manager.
"They have been the most successful of the closed cities in terms of economic development," Nesse said of Zheleznogorsk, which produced weapons-grade plutonium for decades in an underground complex that didn't appear on any maps.
Economic development is meant to help the scientists and engineers involved with nuclear weapons work find gainful employment, so they aren't tempted to sell material or expertise to parties seeking nuclear weapons for nefarious ends.
The Russian visitors toured Hanford on Tuesday and also met with Richland city officials to talk about how their American "nuclear city" has worked to diversify its economy.
Nikolay Kuzmenko, mayor of Seversk, a closed city seeking to join the NCI program, explained the difficulties of shifting from a centrally controlled, Soviet-style economy.
Not only does the Siberian Chemical Combine, the entity which operates the city's nuclear reactors, make up about 70 percent of the city's overall economy, but the city itself operates many of the functions handled by private businesses in America.
"We are helping small companies take root," Kuzmenko said. "Perhaps the large combine will have to undergo changes as well."
4. U.S. may meet SOR treaty obligations earlier - diplomat
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The United States hopes to meet the obligations outlined in the Russian-U.S. Strategic Offensive Reductions (SOR) Treaty ahead of the deadline set in the document, Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for Arms Control Stephen Rademaker said.
Speaking at a news conference in the Interfax main office on Wednesday, Rademaker said that the SOR Treaty envisions reducing the number of nuclear warheads to 1,700-2,200 by 2012. But the United States will not wait for the deadline to finish this work, he said.
5. U.S. suspects some Russian firms of aiding Iran nuke program - diplomat
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Sanctions against a number of Russian entities that Washington suspects of assisting Iran in pursuing its long-range missile program will remain in place until such suspicions are dispelled, said U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control Stephen Rademaker.
"The United States has believed for a long time that Russian entities, Russian firms, were involved in providing some assistance to the Iranian missile program," Rademaker said at a press conference at the Interfax main office on Wednesday, adding that, as long as sanctions against these companies are in place, this means that the suspicions have not been dispelled.
1. Lavrov may discuss Iran missile program during visit
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Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Alexander Alexeyev has said the Iranian missile program might possibly be a subject for negotiations during Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's upcoming visit to that country.
Speaking at a press conference in Moscow on Thursday, Alexeyev said "this subject does not figure on the list of issues for the conversations that has been drafted for the minister."
At the same time, "the record shows that, in addition to the issues that we suggest, some other questions can always come up," he said.
2. RUSSIA IS SET TO CONTINUE COOPERATION WITH IRAN IN PEACEFUL NUCLEAR POWER SPHERE
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Russia intends to continue cooperation with Iran in the sphere of the peaceful use of nuclear energy irrespective of influence that may be exerted upon it, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Alexeyev told a press conference at RIA Novosti.
"The outlook is clear, we will carry on cooperation with Iran in the sphere of the peaceful use of nuclear power. And it does not matter whether Russia is being influenced by other countries in this respect or not," said the deputy minister.
Mr. Alexeyev said cooperation would be continued in line with relevant international obligations.
Mr. Alexeyev said influence on Russia over its nuclear cooperation with Iran had not been heightened of late. "Increasing whatever pressure on Russia always produces counterproductive results," said the deputy foreign minister.
"Our position is well known by our partners and colleagues at the IAEA, as well as our Iranian colleagues," said Mr. Alexeyev. This position falls in line with the Agency's rules, the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and Russia's obligations under other treaties and agreements.
"Russia has formed its position on Iran's nuclear program and cooperation with the IAEA in accordance with relevant understandings and obligations," said Mr. Alexeyev.
"Russia, by all means, advocates the development of cooperation between Iran and the IAEA," Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Foreign Ministry official spokesman, said for his part. Iran's compliance with the relevant resolution will be discussed in November, according to the diplomat.
"We believe Iran should have a transparent nuclear program," added Mr. Yakovenko.
3. Russia will continue its nuclear energy cooperation with Iran
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Russia will continue its nuclear energy cooperation with Iran, a senior Russian official said Thursday, despite international concern that Tehran might be trying to develop atomic weapons.
"We have been cooperating and will continue to cooperate with Iran in the peaceful usage of nuclear energy," Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Alexeyev said, according to the Interfax news agency. "It does not matter if there is pressure or not, but it does matter that we will comply with all legal commitments in cooperation with Iran."
Russia is completing a US$800 million (ï¿½650 million) deal to build a nuclear reactor at Bushehr in southern Iran, a project that has drawn concern from the United States.
"Russia has said more than once that cooperation with Iran will be developed in line with the well-known norms," Alexeyev was quoted as saying.
The International Atomic Energy Agency, which is the United Nations' nuclear watchdog agency, is investigating nearly two decades of covert nuclear activity by Iran. Tehran maintains its program is meant to generate electricity, but Washington claims it is a weapons program.
Russia has repeatedly emphasized that Iran has the right to develop a peaceful nuclear energy program, but Moscow has urged Iran to voluntarily halt all efforts to enrich uranium as a sign of goodwill and to show greater openness to IAEA inspectors. The IAEA has also called on Iran to halt uranium enrichment _ a technology that could be used to make weapons.
4. RUSSIA'S COOPERATION WITH IRAN IN NUCLEAR SPHERE BASED ON NPT
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Russia's cooperation with Iran in the atomic sphere is based on the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, said Russian foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko at a RIA Novosti press conference.
"As the IAEA does not have any contraindications against cooperation with Iran, there are no grounds to terminate such cooperation," said Mr. Yakovenko.
He noted that Russia in this issue is guided by the IAEA's opinion. "When the Agency says such cooperation is not welcome or prohibited, Russia won't cooperate with any state in this case," said Mr. Yakovenko.
In his words, should any country violate provisions of the NPT and the IAEA announces this, cooperation will be automatically terminated.
He recalled that in line with the NPT's fourth article, all nuclear states should render assistance to other states in the development of peaceful nuclear power industry. "So Russia also implements the fourth article of this treaty's provisions," he added.
At the same time, he added that Russia takes into account the concern of a number of states on Russian-Iranian cooperation. "In this connection, we have reached an agreement with the Iranian side on that the nuclear fuel delivered to Iran will be returned to Russia as it is used," he recalled. "This is an important element of our cooperation with Iran as regards construction of a station in Bushehr," stressed Mr. Yakovenko.
5. Iran, Russia may sign nuclear waste deal in November
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Iran and Russia may sign an agreement on the repatriation of spent nuclear fuel during Russian Atomic Energy service head Alexander Rumyantsev's visit to Tehran which is expected in the second half of November, Iranian Ambassador to Russia Gholam Reza Shafei said.
"We will be working for the sides to sign it during Alexander Rumyantsev's visit to Iran," he told Interfax on Wednesday.
"If the visit of the head of the Russian nuclear agency takes place on time, the questions related with fuel for the [Bushehr] nuclear power station will be settled on the scene," he said.
Asked whether the time of commissioning the station may be postponed, the diplomat said: "Fuel questions can hardly become a reason for postponing the station's launch."
He said that during Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's visit to Tehran on October 10-11, emphasis will be put on Iranian-Russian nuclear cooperation.
Head of the Russian Federal Atomic Energy Agency Alexander Rumyantsev will pay a visit to Iran in November. As head of the PR department of the Russian Federal Atomic Energy Agency (Rosatom) Nikolay Shingarev said, the next meeting of the Russian-Iranian intergovernmental commission for trade and economic cooperation will be held late in November. According to Shingarev, the end of the construction of the Busher nuclear plan will be discussed at the meeting. The parties plan to negotiate on the issues of the delivery of nuclear waste from the Busher nuclear plant to Russia. As Shingarev said, the two parties are close to signing an agreement and are negotiating the financial problems related to nuclear waste shipments. The Busher nuclear power station is to become operational by the end of 2005 and it is to be connected with the Iranian power system in 2006.
1. Russia says North Korea talks unlikely until late Nov
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Six-nation talks on North Korea's nuclear programme are not likely to resume before late November, a senior Russian diplomat said on Thursday.
North Korea said it would not rejoin talks with South Korea, the United States, Japan, China and Russia until Seoul's atomic experiments, disclosed in September, were fully dealt with.
"We have basically failed to ... hold the planned fourth round of the six-nation talks in September," Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Alexeyev told a news conference.
"We've agreed to set a new date, or at least an approximate date ... I don't think that would be possible before the second half of November," he said.
Russia, which shares a border with North Korea and used to sponsor the tiny state in Soviet times, is the only member of the Group of Eight leading industrialised countries to have regular contacts with both Koreas.
Russian nuclear officials say Moscow has had no nuclear contacts with North Korea for about 10 years.
Analysts say Pyongyang is awaiting the results of the Nov. 2 U.S. presidential election.
The North faces international pressure to scrap all nuclear programmes in exchange for security guarantees and energy aid.
The communist state denies having a uranium-based nuclear programme, but has repeated it has made weapons-grade plutonium reprocessed from spent fuel rods to deter a U.S. attack.
The crisis erupted in 2002 when U.S. officials said North Korea had admitted pursuing a secret nuclear weapons programme.
1. Koodankulam nuclear power project ahead of schedule
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The 13,200-crore Koodankulam nuclear power project, being built with the help of Russians in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu will be completed well ahead of schedule. Construction of the project, which began on March 31, has surged ahead by six months.
If things move on an even keel, the first unit is expected to generate electricity by March 2007, a year ahead of schedule.
Project Director SK Agarwal said: "In terms of where we are today the projected target for the completion with Government of India and the Government of Russian Federation is December 2007 for the first unit and in that respect we can say that we are nine months ahead of the schedule and we are going to complete in March 2007 the first unit, 15 months ahead of the schedule. The second unit that is supposed to be completed by December 2008".
Impressed with the pace of work at the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project, the Centre has allotted it Rs 1700 crores for the financial year 2003-04, which is 600 crore more than the original allotment.
Two Russian reactors called VVER-1000 are under construction at Koodankulam in Tirunelveli district. The project will generate 2000 MW of electricity.
1. Nuclear Technology Park May Be Built at Former Soviet Testing Center, Similar Parks Planned Elsewhere
Kazakhstan News Bulletin
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Daniyal Akhmetov, Prime Minister of Kazakhstan, announced on a visit to the town of Kurchatov near Semipalatinsk, that the Government will soon decide whether or not to build a ï¿½Nuclear Technology Parkï¿½ there. He said there is a need to examine the general plan for the development of such a park more thoroughly and noted the decision should be expected in a month.
Kurchatov, formerly a secret city not seen on any maps, was at the center of a Soviet nuclear weapons testing program carried out at nearby Semipalatinsk test site. Since Kazakhstanï¿½s independence in 1991, Kurchatov has become the center of decommissioning and destruction work at the test site, much of it done with the United States under the Nunn-Lugar Program. Currently, it houses research facilities for the National Nuclear Center of Kazakhstan and employs scores of nuclear scientists and experts.
The idea of a peaceful ï¿½Nuclear Technology Parkï¿½ is part of the innovative strategy to develop industries where Kazakhstan has considerable potential. The country will offer favorable conditions for local and foreign companies to produce internationally competitive goods. In the case of a nuclear center, it seeks to capitalize on existing research data and experts, as well as Kazakhstanï¿½s abundant uranium reserves. The reserves are ranked number one in the world. Kazakhstan already is a major uranium producer and seeks to expand its share of the world market in the near future.
Other areas Kazakhstan seeks to develop include biotechonology, software and space technology. The Biotechnology Park is rising at Stepnogorsk, former home of a major Soviet biological weapons production facility close to Astana. The Information Technology Park is being built in Alatau, a suburb of Almaty in the south of Kazakhstan. Several foreign companies, including Microsoft and Cisco Systems of the United States, and firms from Singapore and South Korea are either working with local partners or have announced their intentions to set up shop in Alatau.
2. Hot uranium prices push Cameco shares past $100 mark
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After nearly 20 years in the doldrums, spot uranium prices are soaring, a trend that has seen enthused investors push Cameco Corp. shares over the $100 mark for the first time since they were listed in 1991.
Improved prospects for uranium have also lit a fire under the share prices of several junior resource companies with uranium projects in their portfolio and boosted exploration spending in Saskatchewan, where companies are scouring the Athabasca Basin for new deposits of the mineral.
While uranium prices are notoriously difficult to predict, analysts expect the upward trend to continue for at least the next few years.
"While the recent price move brings a variety of new projects into economic viability, we believe that the time lag necessary to review, permit and construct these projects will result in continued tightness in the market for the next several years," CIBC World Markets Inc. analyst Stephen Bonnyman said in a recent report.
Cameco shares fell 79 cents to close at $103.96 on the Toronto Stock Exchange yesterday. They have risen 39 per cent in the past 12 months.
Cameco, with uranium mines in Canada and the United States, is the world's largest uranium producer. It also provides refining and conversion services that process uranium for use in nuclear reactors, and owns 31.6 per cent of Bruce Power, which runs six nuclear plants in Ontario.
Cameco spokeswoman Alice Wong said current market conditions reflect shifting supply and demand trends. Over the past 20 years, uranium consumption has exceeded mined production, but the difference has been made up from stockpiles coming on the market, including uranium recovered from former nuclear weapons.
Currently, those supplies appear to be dwindling.
"The drawing down of the inventory, which we have been forecasting for many years now, is coming to fruition," Ms. Wong said.
Uranium prices spiked in the 1990s, only to fall back when new supplies came on the market, but analysts say they are not expecting similar surprises this time around.
"If there had been any excess inventories, we would have seen them by now," said Raymond Goldie, an analyst at Salman Partners Inc.
Prices are also being influenced by uncertainty over some sources of supply, Ms. Wong said, such as Rio Tinto PLC's Rossing mine in Namibia. Rossing produces about 6 per cent of the world's uranium.
Rio Tinto is currently assessing whether to keep the mine operating until 2017, or close it earlier.
Even though uranium prices soared in U.S. dollar terms in the past three years, Rossing has not enjoyed the full benefit of higher prices, because its costs are in Namibian dollars, which are pegged to the South African rand, which has appreciated against the U.S. dollar.
The improved outlook for uranium, now trading at about $20 (U.S.) a pound, has boosted exploration spending in the Athabasca Basin, home of the world's biggest and highest-grade uranium deposits.
Gary Delaney, director of the northern geological survey at Saskatchewan's Ministry of Industry and Resources, said companies are expected to spend about $25.9-million (Canadian) on uranium exploration this year, up from $13.3-million last year.
The total mineral exploration spending for the province is expected to exceed $50-million this year, up from $31.3-million last year.
1. Center for monitoring radioactive materials opened in Uzbekistan
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Uzbekistan's institute of nuclear physics has opened a center for monitoring radioactive materials, sources in the Uzbek Academy of Sciences told Interfax.
The center will analyze and identify materials, measure radioactive levels of various objects and monitor the environment.
An academy spokesman said that "the center has been established to meet the increasingly stringent international nuclear safety requirements, to observe the principles of nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction and to promote the struggle against terrorism, and reflects the necessity to tighten border and customs control."
"The center will broaden the institute's analytical capabilities and facilitate research and practical work in various fields," the spokesman said.
The Uzbek Institute of Nuclear Physics has a 10-megawatt nuclear reactor which was put into operation in 1969. Experts of the International Atomic Energy Agency inspected the reactor in 1993 and 1998.
The institute is participating in international programs, including programs launched by the IAEA and NATO.
2. Cracked Reactor Lid Delays Start of Russiaï¿½s Nuclear Power Plant
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Cracks have been discovered in the reactor lid of the Novovoronezh nuclear power plant in South Russia, a representative of Russiaï¿½s nuclear agency Rosenergoatom told the Interfax news agency on Wednesday. The discovered fault caused the delay of the running in of the fifth energy block, initially scheduled for September 2004, till January 2005.
ï¿½The reason behind the delay was the discovery of cracks in the welded seams of the reactor lid of the fifth block,ï¿½ a representative of Rosenergoatom has said. Experts hold that the cracks had appeared due to a production defect.
The Novovoronezh nuclear power plant in the first Russian power plant that uses the water-water reactors. The 30 years service period of the fifth block expires in 2010, but Russian experts say that it may be prolonged for another 20-year period.
At present, only the third block of Novovoronezh power plant is working. The first and the second blocks have been shut down and the fourth and the fifth blocks are undergoing repairs.
In Russia, 30 power blocks are currently running at 10 nuclear power plants.
1. Alexander Yakovenko, the Spokesman of Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Answers a Russian Media Question at Press Conference at RIA Novosti Concerning Russia's Initiatives for Reducing Tactical Nuclear Weapons
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
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Question: US Assistant Secretary of State Stephen Rademaker yesterday voiced concern that "the Russian side has not fully met its commitments to reduce tactical nuclear weapons in Europe." Could you please comment?
Answer: In the first place, the word "commitments" in this context is incorrect. The question is one of the unilateral 1991-1992 initiatives, that is a goodwill gesture on the part of Russia. Those initiatives envisaged the reduction not only of tactical nuclear weapons (TNW), but also of a number of other disarmament measures and their implementation has been going on consistently. This May we announced that more than 50% of the total nuclear ammunition for sea-based tactical missiles and naval aviation, antiaircraft missiles and nuclear aviation bombs had been liquidated. And the reduction of tactical nuclear weapons is continuing. Thus, Russia has practically carried out in full all of the TNW reduction initiatives that had been put forward.
All those weapons, unlike the situation with the United States, are located solely within our national territory. They are under reliable control. They are effectively secured. So there are no reasons for the concern Mr. Rademaker voiced.
2. PM of Kazakhstan surveyed enterprise of the National Nuclear Center
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Today as a part of the working tour of the city of Kurchatov of Eastern Kazakhstan PM of Kazakhstan Daniyal Akhmetov surveyed the work of the enterprise of the National Nuclear Center Baikal (research water-heterogeneous shell-type reactor, experimental stand Angara, the storage of ampule sources of ionizing radiation).
The National Nuclear Center consists of 6 affiliate enterprises ï¿½ institute of atomic energy, institute of nuclear physics, institute of radiation safety ands ecology, institute of geophysical research, Kazakh state scientific center of explosive works and enterprise Baikal.
--U.S.-Russian Nonproliferation Program Continues to Make the World Safer--
USEC Inc. announced today that 225 metric tons of Russian weapons-grade uranium, the equivalent of 9,000 nuclear warheads, has been recycled into fuel purchased by USEC for use in Americaï¿½s nuclear power plants. Acting as executive agents for the U.S. and Russian governments, USEC and Techsnabexport (TENEX) commercially implement this program, known as Megatons to Megawatts, at no cost to their governments. The program will recycle 500 metric tons of bomb-grade uranium into fuel by its conclusion in 2013. Approximately ten percent of Americaï¿½s electricity is produced using Megatons to Megawatts fuel.
By using the weapons-derived fuel in nuclear power plants, the program permanently eliminates this excess Russian warhead material while providing clean, emissions-free electricity for homes, businesses, hospitals and schools in the United States. Once blended down to low-enriched uranium fuel, the material is no longer usable in a nuclear weapon. USEC purchases approximately $450 million of the fuel annually. Russia uses that money to support nuclear safety, environmental and security programs. To date, USEC has paid the Russian treasury over $3.5 billion for purchases of the fuel. By the programï¿½s end, total purchases from Russia will be approximately $8 billion.
ï¿½The Megatons to Megawatts program is one of the most successful nonproliferation efforts worldwide,ï¿½ said USEC President and CEO William H. Timbers. ï¿½We are proud of our excellent working relationship with Russia and the fact that Soviet-era nuclear warheads once aimed at American cities are now lighting and powering our country from coast to coast.ï¿½
More information on the Megatons to Megawatts program can be found at www.megatonstomegawatts.com.
USEC Inc., a global energy company, is the worldï¿½s leading supplier of enriched uranium fuel for commercial nuclear power plants.
4. DOD Hosts First Proliferation Security Initiative Maritime Interdiction Game
Department of Defense
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The Department of Defense announced today (October 1) that it welcomed operational experts from seventeen countries to the first Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) maritime interdiction game hosted by the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island September 27 through October 1.
Delegations participated in a series of intensive simulations designed to test decisionmaking about potential interdictions of proliferation-related shipments. The event was intended to assist in developing the operational capability of PSI participants to interdict maritime shipments of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), their delivery systems, and related materials.
Participants in the PSI maritime interdiction game included operational experts from Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.
PSI is a global initiative to enhance and expand efforts to interdict shipments of WMD, their delivery systems, and related materials to and from states an non-state actors of proliferation concern. More than sixty countries around the world are supportive of PSI, which was launched by President Bush on May 31, 2003.
The U.S. Naval War College has one of the premier war-gaming departments in the world. War gaming has been an integral part of the Naval War College since 1887, and the college today uses various gaming techniques to support a gaming schedule of approximately 50 games a year.
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