1. RUSSIA'S CHEMICAL WEAPONS ARSENAL IS A TICKING TIME BOMB
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Russia's chemical weapons, totaling 40,000 tons, are stored at seven sites across its territory. The elimination process, to be completed by the year 2012, has been dragging on for seven years by now. A mere 2 percent has been destroyed over that period, or 700 tons of toxic combat substances. The youngest such substance is over 25 years old, and some of the chemical munitions go as far back as World War I. Many analysts call them a ticking time bomb.
In an interview for the Vremya Novostei newspaper, Sergei Baranovsky, President of the Russian Green Cross and a member of the State Commission for Chemical Disarmament, explains why Russia is being so slow in destroying its chemical weaponry.
In the mid-1990s, when everyone wanted Russia to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention, the West pledged generous funding for programs to destroy Russian chemical munitions. But after Russia ratified the Convention, Western donors cut their pledged contributions by half so that the rest had to be covered from its public purse, Mr Baranovsky says.
Next year, the Russian government plans to earmark for the purpose twice as much as it has in 2004-11.116 billion roubles (the dollar buys 28.76 roubles, on current rates). "Our partners, especially the United States, have also stepped up activity [in that area lately]," Vremya Novostei's interviewee says. "This is partly due to the aggravation of the international terrorism threat." In the year 2005, Russia expects to receive 2.2 billion dollars in foreign aid. But that sum may prove insufficient for the destruction of its chemical weapons arsenal. For the sake of comparison, the United States initially planned to spend 2 or 3 billion dollars for the program to eliminate its 32,000 tons of toxic combat substances, but recent estimates suggest that the program will take as much as $25-30 billion to implement, Mr Baranovsky says. He believes that in order to encourage outside contributions, Russia should fully exempt foreign financial aid from taxes and duties.
But underfunding is not the only reason for the delay in eliminating Russia' chemical arsenal, the expert notes. Originally, it was planned to build three facilities where chemical munitions from storages across the country would be destroyed. "But our laws ban the transportation of toxic combat substances," says Mr Baranovsky. "So it has been decided to build seven facilities instead, one for each of the storages." So far, only one such facility is operational.
Speaking of techniques used for the elimination of toxic combat substances, Mr Baranovsky said that Russian specialists first neutralize them by mixing with special chemical solutions and then go on to the processing stage. In the United States, chemical weapons are destroyed through burning, which is a bad idea as poisonous gases may evaporate into the atmosphere, he noted. According to him, the Americans, faced with strong public pressure, are now going to switch over to Russian methods.
Under the Chemical Weapons Convention, Russia shall have eliminated one-fifth of its chemical arsenal by April 29, 2007. If it fails to meet the deadline, the country will face severe sanctions, such as a ban on the export of many of its chemical industry products. According to experts, the ensuing financial losses may exceed manifold the cost of the chemical weapons elimination program.
Scientists at a former chemical weapons factory in Russia's Saratov region are concerned that the condition of the decrepit facility could result in an environmental disaster.
They have warned Sergey Shoygu, the Russian Minister of Emergencies, Defence and Clean-up Operations, of an impending disaster in Shikhany where the State Organic Synthesis Technology Institute (GITOS) is on the brink of bankruptcy. Their greatest concern is 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 institute has specialised in the development of chemical weapons for 40 years and retains a large stockpile of toxic agents. It currently owes Rb100m (US$3m) to energy companies and to its own personnel, while all power has been shut off at the institute. Wage arrears have accumulated over the past 11 months and now total to Rb17m.
The institute has been in slow decline for more than 10 years. During that time, the 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 and hunger strikes are a regular occurrence. Today there is little demand for the specialities the institute has to offer and conversion plans for 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, although it has not produced any chemicals since 1992 when Russia signed the international Chemical Weapons Convention.
1. Bin Laden intent on acquiring nuclear devices, Canadian intelligence warns
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A newly obtained intelligence report examines the intriguing notion and concludes that whatever the answer, the terrorist network is intent on acquiring nuclear means. The assessment revives concerns that emerged as early as 1992 when Stanislav Lunev, a former Russian military intelligence officer, claimed his country's intelligence services had lost many of the portable, backpack-style devices, which weigh about 55 kilograms.
The June 2004 report, Al-Qaida Possessing Russian Nuclear Briefcases: Fiction or Fact?, was prepared by the national security threat assessment centre, a federal agency housed at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.
A copy was recently obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act. The heavily censored document, portions of which remain secret, indicates the vexing question is being taken seriously by Canadian intelligence.
"Al-Qaida is interested in acquiring nuclear capabilities in order to expand its attack arsenal," the report says.
Earlier this year, Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir said al-Qaida may already possess portable nuclear weapons. He attributed the claim to a 2001 interview with bin Laden's second-in-command, Ayman Al-Zawahri, in which the al-Qaida figure said the group had purchased such bombs on the black market in central Asia for $30 million US.
The report notes that Russian officials and nuclear scientists have argued in the media it would be almost impossible for al-Qaida to posess such devices, as they are too difficult to maintain and have a lifespan of just one to three years.
Wesley Wark, a history professor at the University of Toronto, said the briefcases are unlikely to be in the hands of extremists.
"I think that there's great confidence that those kinds of weapons are accounted for and under control," he said.
"And that's not the kind of source that you would look to for a potential terrorist weapon," he added, saying they lurk "only in Hollywood imagination."
The report suggests a "dirty bomb" - which uses a conventional explosive to spread radioactive material - may be "a feasible alternative" to the Russian briefcase models.
"Except in the most extreme circumstances, it is unlikely that a radiological 'dirty bomb' would result in more casualties than could be achieved with a comparable conventional weapon," the assessment says.
"However, a contaminated area would pose long-term health concerns and could cause panic within the population."
Canadian intelligence has increasingly turned its attention in recent years to preventing industrial items from being diverted to the manufacture of illicit weapons.
The report notes the arrest of two men in Zambia last March who were suspected of possessing a cache of bomb-grade uranium, as well as the attempt by three men in May to sell highly radioactive cesium-137 in Ukraine.
2. Intl terrorists may obtain nuclear materials - Russian expert
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International terrorists are capable of obtaining nuclear materials and making a "dirty bomb," a Russian military expert said.
"The terrorists' skills in getting involved in social and ethnic conflicts, and their links to the key representatives of the political, tribal, military and scientific elite of the Muslim-Arab states are making the outflow of secret technologies to them much more likely," Yevgeny Yevstafyev, a former Russian intelligence officer, told an international conference in Moscow on the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons in the Middle East.
1. Rosatomï¿½s Antipov stumps for international help, not supervision
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The distinction Antipov drew was at once subtle and stark. He praised the new, more ï¿½professionalï¿½ structure of the CEGï¿½which gathered in Moscow on October 13th to 15thï¿½and its embracing of several new foreign institutions to help fund solutions to Russiaï¿½s nuclear woes. He also made it clear that Russia would no longer view itself as a charity case for non-proliferation efforts, but rather a partnerï¿½if not the true policy makerï¿½in issues regarding Russiaï¿½s nuclear dismantlement.
The institutions gathered by the CEG included representatives of the G-8ï¿½s Global Partnershipï¿½which has pledged $20 billion in nuclear dismantlement aid to Russia over the next 20 yearsï¿½and the signatories of the Multi-lateral Nuclear Environmental Partnership in the Russia Federation, or MNEPR, accord.
At the same time, however, Antipov strongly advocated that the Rosatom agency have the final word on what nuclear remediation projects were the priority items, and, ultimately, how and where funding should be spent. Bellona has advocated in the opposite direction, and considers that an independent international oversight agency should be established to oversee Russiaï¿½s nuclear clean up and funding priorities.
ï¿½The Global Partnership has appeared, the Institute of Senior Officials has appeared, which is now the Global Partnershipï¿½s group of experts, and which is also pushing to coordinate all activities,ï¿½ Antipov told Minatom.ru, a Rosatom sponsored Web site.
ï¿½[i]t is precisely the CEG that has more favorable chances of becoming such a chief professional organization. Chief not in the sense of making decisions but as an expert organ for giving the most professional recommendations, the most deeply studied practical issues of integrated submarine dismantlement.ï¿½
International coordination in, international supervision out But Antipovï¿½who was appointed to his deputyï¿½s post at Rosatom from his former position heading up its department of nuclear decommissioning last weekï¿½was, like the deputies who presided at the Ministry of Atomic Energy, or Minatom, strongly against ceding Rosatomï¿½s prerogatives on deciding funding priorities to an international coordinating structure.
ï¿½Why build another unneeded structure on top of an already existing one,ï¿½ he said. ï¿½We always say that such an organ is Russia in the face of Rosatom. We define and order what Russia needs to do first in integrated submarine dismantlement, and we decide in what order this need to be done,ï¿½ he said. During the CEG meetings, said Antipov, the Russia delegation was ï¿½strictï¿½ in announcing to a number of participating donor nations that they were not only not helping, but holding back progress, even though these nations were likely unaware of this. He did not elaborate as about which nations this applied to, nor would other Rosatom staff comment on this.
ï¿½Under no circumstances should aid turn into a burden or hinder us [ï¿½] and we intend to insist on our position henceforth,ï¿½ Antipov said.
Antipov said it was equally important that Russia be furnished with audits of pledged and spent funding from donor nations.
European and American officials were divided in their comments on Antipovï¿½s approach. ï¿½On the one hand, this sort of aggressive engagements from the Russia side is what we have wanted for some time,ï¿½ said one EU official who requested he not be further identified, ï¿½But this cannot eliminate the prerogatives of MNEPR signatories to set their own agendaï¿½s and influence Russiaï¿½s.ï¿½
Another official close to the US Department of Defenceï¿½s Cooperative Threat Reduction programme noted ï¿½we are not just helping the Russians to help Russia but to help the world. This means that under no circumstances will they unilaterally be deciding where non-proliferation and nuclear clean up funding will be spent.ï¿½
The American official added that ï¿½itï¿½s not just a matter of calling up the West with a grocery list and saying buy this stuff. Projects must be negotiated and designed in a multi-lateral way.ï¿½
Sub Dismantlement Nonetheless, Viktor Akhunov, deputy director of Rosatomï¿½s Department of Decommissioning Nuclear and Radioactively Dangerous Facilities, rattled a sub dismantlement figure of 18ï¿½five of which were funded by foreign donorsï¿½ for 2004 while speaking at the CEG conference.
He added that by the beginning of 2005, 83 more of Russiaï¿½s 195 decommissioned submarines would head for dismantlementï¿½41 from Russiaï¿½s northern fleet and 42 from its Pacific Fleet. Of these submarines, 52 still have their spent nuclear fuel aboard. Akhunov noted that contracts to dismantle 17 of these had already been signed but did not say with whom. The Russian government has decreed that al 93 of these submarines will be dismantled by 2010.
According to Akhunovï¿½s calculations, which he presented at the CEG, Russia will have to dismantle some 15 to 18 submarines a year, but that the country is only capable of dismantling 13 per yearï¿½two short of the minimum to fulfil the government mandated quota. . He projected therefore that at least five submarines per year would have to be tackled by international donations and contracts, thus upping the dismantlement tempo to 20 submarines a year.
He also noted that appropriate storage facilities for the spent nuclear fuel from these submarines would have to be constructed.
ï¿½In conclusion, we need money," he said. ï¿½Preferably the sooner the better so that we can begin to set priorities in work and get down to business.ï¿½
Dues to Russia earn Rosatom approval In his interview, Antipov noted that he was keenly aware of those nations represented at the CEG meeting that paid Russia its rhetorical dues when addressing the assembled representatives.
ï¿½It is gratifying that almost every participant in the meeting underscored in their presentations that it cannot be forgotten that we are, before all else, working on the territory of Russia, specifically for the interests of Russia and therefore the last word [ï¿½] on issues of prioritising programmes must be Russiaï¿½s, more particularly, Rosatomï¿½s,ï¿½ he said.
ï¿½This understanding, though it was not immediately grasped by some people participating in the CEGï¿½s work, pleases us.ï¿½ Again, Antipov did not elaborate on which CEG representatives were opposed to the notion that Rosatom be the sole arbiter of its nuclear remediation priorities.
Flood of donor money confuses priorities Beginning with the signing of the MNEPR accord in May, 2003, a cash crop of money has been pledged by donor nations from the G-8 and Europe. Many countries, like Norway, the United Kingdom, and Japan immediately engaged in nonategic submarine dismantling projects. These submarines, however, were in relatively good shape when dismantlement work began, bringing encouraging headlines, but ignoring the vast number of submarines in worse shape that remain in need of immediate attention.
Other countries signed their own bilateral agreements with Russia under MNEPR guidelines, and still others donated funding to the Northern Dimensions Environmental Partnership, or NDEP, an EBRD-held fund for environmental and nuclear clean up in Northwest Russia. Donors to NDEPï¿½s ï¿½nuclear windowï¿½ï¿½as those funds reserved for nuclear clean up are calledï¿½also have their own nuclear priorities for Russia that they wish to pursue without having Rosatom as a middleman.
Additionally, Minatom often mishandled or misdirected funding that came from foreign nations, and several million dollars have been diverted from their intended projects, giving pause to many donors about trusting Rosatom, whose directorship has not substantially changed since a government reshuffle abolished Minatom and replaced it with the new agency. How far foreign donors are willing to go based on Rosatomï¿½s wordï¿½and how far Rosatom is willing to go to back up its words with actions, are, as yet, unknown.
Russiaï¿½s sub dismantlement master plan In December 2003, what was then Minatom adopted a so-called master plan for dismantling submarines, which provided for a surprising breadth of items on the Westï¿½s wish list. These items included tighter scrutiny of foreign funded nuclear dismantlement projects before they begin, mandates for higher levels of transparency, accountability and access for donor nations while the projects are underway, and complete and transparent audits upon completion.
At the time the plan was first being drafted, Antipovï¿½then still a deputy minister at Minatomï¿½said the plan must encompass a complete picture of all ecological problems and planned work, the consistency of their proposed solutions, and an assessment of cooperation between separate projects and contracts of donor nations. He also said, as he did at Octoberï¿½s CEG meeting, that Russiaï¿½s main nuclear industry institution should be the liaison for cooperation.
ï¿½Considering that Russia is the defining link in the ï¿½nuclear windowï¿½ projects, meaning that Russia decides which particular projects should be the first to receive fundingï¿½ of course, this should be done by a representative of Minatom,ï¿½ said Antipov in an interview in January.
The plan was well received by western donor countries and European parliamentarians, many of whom had gathered at the Inter-parliamentary Working Group, or IPGW, hearing in Brussels in 2003, and which was dedicated to the improvement of risk assessment and funding coordination for nuclear dismantling in Russia.
Getting master plans off the ground At the CEG gathering, however, Antipov noted that the legal base for many signatories of the MNEPR agreement had not yet ratified the accord via their national parliaments, making it impossible for Rosatom to conclude bilateral agreements with many countries anxious to begin making donations.
This, he said, has forced Rosatom into the awkward position of searching out alternative agreements such as inter-ministry accords. For instance Australia, which joined the Global Partnership group of donors only this year, for instance, sent a $7 million contribution toward submarine dismantlement via Japan, which is a long-standing Global Partnership donor.
Another problem with many donor nations, Antipov noted, was that many of them have yet to inform Rosatom what projects they plan to work on in the short and long term and what sort of financial investment they are willing to make. This, said Antipov, makes long term planning for submarine dismantlement and other things impossible and complicates planning.
As a final note, Antipov emphasised that ï¿½all activities of an organizational, informational or financial character by donor countries must take place on a clearly defined legal field.ï¿½
Without contracts stipulating these items, he stated strongly, it will be impossible for Rosatom to furnish sensitive information about submarines and other nuclear facilities to donor states.
ï¿½Unfortunately, there are attempts to obtain such information without the necessary foundation,ï¿½ he said, without elaborating, but echoing a familiar ring of secrecy from the quarters of Russiaï¿½s nuclear industry.
2. ITALY WILL HELP RUSSIA DESTROY NUCLEAR AND CHEMICAL WEAPONS
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Italy is expected to take part in the program for the destruction of Russian nuclear and chemical weapons in the near future, Corriere dela Sera wrote on Tuesday.
An addendum to the draft law on the country's financial and economic policy next year envisages a new position of commissioner for programs for the elimination of mass destruction weapons in Russia, according to the newspaper.
Besides, Italy's Council of Ministers approved, last week, a bill ratifying an agreement on Italy's assistance to Russia in recycling the decommissioned nuclear submarines.
The two countries are thereby embarking on the implementation of two agreements their foreign ministers signed last November. The agreements stipulate Italy's intention to contribute to the implementation of programs for the destruction of Russian nuclear submarines and chemical weapons. The Italian government pledged to allocate 720 million euros for the purpose.
It is unclear whether Italy only intends to provide financial aid or Italian companies and other organizations involved will provide technological assistance to Russia, writes the newspaper.
The bilateral agreement signed last year was designed to build on the 2002 agreements that were signed by G8 countries, according to the paper. Under the agreements, the developed nations were to allocate $20 billion on the Russian programs to destroy a certain amount of Russia's nuclear and chemical weapons and enhance the safety of the remaining weapons of mass destruction. However, none of the parties to the agreements has allocated money thus far, writes the newspaper.
They were no-shows in Iraq, but tons of chemical weapons are stoking fears and costing billions to clean up elsewhere in the world, from concrete "igloos" in Oregon, to the Panama rain forest, to the highlands of China, where Japanese war leftovers reportedly have killed hundreds.
More chemical munitions have turned up lately in Australia than in Iraq, where the Bush administration said up to 500 tons would be found. As Baghdad arms hunters searched in vain, chemical-weapons material was being unearthed even in Washington, four miles from the White House.
At least 8 million such weapons are stockpiled worldwide, and concern is deepening not only over the health and safety of nearby communities, but also over the threat of theft or attacks on depots brimming with sarin or VX, fearsome nerve agents that can kill with one drop.
"Chemical terrorism is something we should all be very concerned about," said chief international watchdog Rogelio Pfirter. His Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) oversees destruction of such weapons under a 1997 treaty.
As troubling as the potential is for terrorism, "these weapons are leaking and pose a threat even without terrorist involvement," said Jonathan Tucker, a specialist in unconventional weapons at Monterey Institute of International Studies Center for Nonproliferation Studies. "The sooner we get rid of them, the better."
Inside U.S. chemical depots, shells filled with old sulfur mustard sometimes bubble over like a deadly type of champagne. Outside, the government is handing out thousands of emergency-warning radios to nearby residents. At least 12 leaks ï¿½ all apparently contained on-site ï¿½ occurred last year at one Army depot alone, in Tooele, Utah, say researchers at Washington's Henry L. Stimson Center think tank.
National Guard companies have thrown cordons around these U.S. installations since the September 11 attacks. In terrorism-plagued Russia, specialists fret over the security protecting its 36,000 tons of nerve agent.
Chemical warfare reached its depths in World War I, when mustard, phosgene and other gases left more than a million wounded and dead on European battlefields. It is World War I leftovers that cleanup crews have been uncovering since 2001 at an old Army test site in residential Spring Valley, up Massachusetts Avenue from central Washington.
Poisonous clouds also were unleashed in the 1930s, by Italian troops in Ethiopia and Japanese invaders in China, and in the 1980s by Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war. It is thought that Egyptian gas was used in Yemen's civil war in the 1960s.
The Chemical Weapons Convention, the 1997 treaty outlawing the weapons, gave governments declaring possession ï¿½ today the United States, Russia, India, South Korea, Albania and Libya ï¿½ 10 years to destroy them.
Even if extended to 2012, as the treaty allows, that deadline looks unachievable by either big holder, the United States or Russia, a U.S. government study found. By April the Americans had eliminated barely 20 percent of their stockpiles, and the Russians 1 percent.
"The greatest difficulty is purely one of resources and cost," said Richard Guthrie of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
The U.S. Army has learned how complex and costly it is to eliminate the dangerous stockpiles ï¿½ originally more than 30,000 tons, mostly sarin, a thin liquid; VX, with the consistency of motor oil; and the molasses-like sulfur mustard.
Absorbed through skin or inhaled as gas, the nerve agents can produce convulsions, paralysis and death. Mustard severely blisters skin and internal membranes.
These agents are packed into bombs and aircraft spray tanks, artillery shells, rockets and land mines, mostly stored beneath earth-covered concrete domes at eight depots across the United States.
When it began its planning in 1985, the Army thought it could destroy the weapons in nine years for $1.7 billion. Two decades later, it still faces years of work and cumulative costs of more than $25 billion.
"There have been a variety of delays," said Greg Mahall, spokesman for the Army's Chemical Materials Agency.
Chemicals that gelled, crystallized or otherwise degraded require special handling, he explained. Testing, permits and oversight requirements at all levels of government slowed construction and operation. Environmental and other local groups sought court orders to block incineration. Then the Utah plant shut down for eight months in 2002 and 2003 after workers accidentally were exposed to sarin gas.
The pace picked up in recent months as a second incineration facility opened, at the Anniston, Ala., depot; the Army began chemically neutralizing weapons, a newer method, at its Aberdeen, Md., site; and incinerators at the Umatilla, Ore., depot began ï¿½ on Sept. 8 ï¿½ burning rockets loaded with nerve gas.
Obstacles remain. Plans to chemically neutralize weapons at a Newport, Ind., depot are stalled while the Army seeks a dumping ground for the waste. Local resistance doomed a plan to process the waste in Dayton, Ohio. Similar opposition is growing to an Army alternative: discharging it from a New Jersey site into the Delaware River.
The Pine Bluff, Ark., arms depot may begin burning sarin by next year. But delays have plagued the two other sites ï¿½ in Richmond, Ky., where anti-burning activists forced the Army to convert to chemical neutralization, and in Pueblo, Colo., where neutralization may not begin until 2009.
Kentucky-based activists, the Chemical Weapons Working Group, are demanding more openness about what's going on at the facilities. Director Craig Williams noted that the Anniston Star newspaper, through a Freedom of Information Act request, found that three sarin spills had occurred inside the Alabama facility this year.
"They were serious incidents, and the only way anybody found out about them was through a Freedom of Information request," Mr. Williams said.
Information flows less freely in Russia, where destruction of chemical weapons, underwritten by U.S. and European aid, bogged down for years. Too little Russian money was available, and American aid was blocked at times as U.S. congressmen complained that Moscow wasn't doing enough. The $2 billion-plus centerpiece ï¿½ a giant plant at Shchuch'ye in the Ural Mountains ï¿½ may not be ready until 2009.
Meanwhile, "a large quantity of Russia's chemical weapons will remain vulnerable to theft or diversion," the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) warned in March.
Undeclared stockpiles or abandoned weapons add another dimension ï¿½ the unknown ï¿½ to the chemical-weapons threat.
China has the biggest such "orphaned" stockpiles, at least 700,000 chemical munitions abandoned by Japanese troops at the end of World War II in 1945, most in the northeast province of Jilin. Last year, mustard-gas drums broke up at a construction site, killing one man and injuring 33.
Chinese plaintiffs suing the Japanese government say the weapons have caused 2,000 deaths since the war. Press reports in Tokyo say Japan has agreed to build a $2.75 billion facility in Jilin to dispose of the weapons, using robots to dig up the ordnance.
For its part, the U.S. military dropped 31,000 mustard-gas and other chemical munitions on Panama's San Jose island in 1944-1947 tests. The Pentagon long said it had left none behind, but in 2001 Panama's government said seven intact weapons were found.
Researchers think hundreds more lie unexploded in the rain forest.
Washington offered to clean up the seven weapons found, but Panama demanded that the whole island be cleared. "The U.S. government considers the matter closed," said State Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos.
In Australia last year, 22 mustard shells were found in remote northern Queensland, leftovers from Allied chemical-warfare experiments during World War II.
Many more old chemical weapons lie in World War I battlefields in France and Belgium, and elsewhere around the world. But bigger questions hang over secret arsenals ï¿½ in China, for example, which is suspected of having such weapons but not declaring them under the 1997 treaty.
The Middle East is a black hole for the treaty, with many of its governments ï¿½ including Egypt, Syria and Israel, all possible chemical-weapons states ï¿½ not having ratified the pact.
Mr. Pfirter of the OPCW said universal ratification is a prime goal this decade. But a more realistic goal might be his hope to better monitor the chemical trade and factories ï¿½ 4,000-plus worldwide ï¿½ whose products could end up in the hands of terrorists.
"We should continue to work toward better and greater coverage on the industrial front," he told the Associated Press. The GAO concluded in March, however, that "the OPCW faces resource challenges in addressing the proliferation threat posed by commercial facilities." Mr. Pfirter's 200 inspectors and $89 million annual budget can't meet the demand.
Faced with a mortal threat, the US must have the will to strike first and hard.
Count Bushï¿½s Doctrine of Pre-emption as a Casualty of the Iraq War,ï¿½ declared a recent headline in the Los Angeles Times.
The Times reported that, while the ouster of Saddam Hussein initially stoked public enthusiasm for preventive war, political support was blown apart by Americaï¿½s failure to find banned weapons, a bloody postwar occupation, and massive cost.
Pre-emption is not necessarily dead, said the newspaper, but the public wonï¿½t go for another ï¿½regime changeï¿½ war anytime soon.
If the overall concept of pre-emption acquires too negative an image, the US could lose a potentially valuable tool in the war on terror.
No one doubts that fanatical terrorists are seeking horror weapons to use against us. The leaders of al Qaeda openly declare their determination to inflict mass casualties and economic devastation with nukes, germs, and poisons.
Rogue states are possible sources of such weapons. The need to ward off apocalyptic attacksï¿½especially a nuclear oneï¿½may force Washington to disarm more of these states. Faced with a mortal threat, the US must have the will to strike first and hard.
In 2002, the Air Force Association stated, ï¿½We agree fully with the policy ... that we will hold open the option for pre-emptive action if that is needed in order to forestall destructive acts against us.ï¿½ AFA recently noted the key role of airpower. (AFAï¿½s Statement of Policy begins on p. 94 and is posted at www.afa.org.)
All US presidents have reserved a right to pre-empt an imminent threat to national security. George W. Bushï¿½spurred by the Sept. 11 attacksï¿½openly codified this view. In his 2002 ï¿½National Security Strategy of the United States of America,ï¿½ Bush asserted a right to disarm any nation whose weapons of mass destruction directly threaten us or could be given to terrorists.
It is worth noting that Sen. John Kerry, in the presidential campaign, also claimed ï¿½the right to pre-empt in any way necessary to protect the United States of America.ï¿½
A key point, however, is that Bushï¿½s stance went beyond traditional ï¿½anticipatory self-defense.ï¿½ Pre-emption, he noted, need not be reserved for an urgent threat (such as an imminent missile attack). It could also be used against a regime to prevent a ï¿½gatheringï¿½ danger from ever materializing.
Bush reasoned that, if a suspect state never acquired terror weapons, it could never supply them to terrorists. Conversely, once it had them, it would be too late to prevent their spread.
Critics argue that pre-emption requires US leaders to have near-perfect threat intelligence, a standard Washington will never be able to approach.
These opponents of preventive war cite Iraq as Exhibit A for their case. Under the circumstances that existed in 2003, they say, the US had no business taking the risk of going to war.
The fact that Iraq possessed no stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction reflects poorly on the worldï¿½s major intelligence services, all of whom said they existed. However, it didnï¿½t necessarily nullify Bushï¿½s decision to go to war, given the data with which the US had to work.
It wonï¿½t be the last time a president confronts the need to make a high-stakes decision on the basis of sketchy knowledge.
Bush and Kerry agreed that the principal danger to the nation was nuclear proliferation. The nightmare is that terrorists will get their hands on a nuclear weapon, smuggle it into New York or some other major city, and detonate it. That kind of nuclear attack could instantly cause 500,000 deaths.
Who might supply the weapons for such an ï¿½American Hiroshimaï¿½?
At present, worried attention has begun to focus on Iran, the worldï¿½s No. 1 state sponsor of terrorism. Tehran is thought to be within a few years of producing an indigenous bomb.
Iranian nukes, if built, will rest in the hands of fanatical Islamic mullahs who are hostile to America and who are on close personal terms with some of the worldï¿½s most cold-blooded killers.
The critics are wrong if they think the US can afford to rule out preemption as one possible means for coping with this problem.
Without question, pre-emption brings risks. In purely military terms, the US must make sure it strikes the right target. It also must have high confidence that pre-emption can succeed.
The critical question is how Washington can make sound decisions about pre-emptive war with less-than-perfect knowledge.
The record is not good. Proliferation expert Henry Sokolski, writing in The Weekly Standard, cataloged some of the surprises experienced by the US over the years: Russiaï¿½s first nuclear test in 1949; Indiaï¿½s in 1974 and 1998; Israelï¿½s efforts in the1960s; and the actions of Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, and North Korea in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.
Given the record, one should not expect unambiguous intelligence.
The US was never likely to go off on a binge of pre-emption. The problems in Iraq make that even less likely. Time-tested concepts of deterrence and containment are available, as are diplomacy and sanctions. Pre-emption should be viewed as simply one of many implements in the nationï¿½s security tool kit.
Americans may now be more reluctant to pre-empt, and the bar to such action may be higher, but, in the current world situation, the US is in no position to be giving up any of its options.
1. Diplomats: Nuke Report on Iran May Weaken U.S. Case
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A new report on U.N. nuclear inspections in Iran may be worded in a way that undermines the U.S. case for reporting Tehran to the Security Council this month, diplomats said Wednesday.
United Nations nuclear watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei is due to present a report next week summarizing his agency's two-year investigation of Iran's nuclear program, which Washington says is a front to develop atomic weapons.
Tehran insists its nuclear ambitions are limited to electricity generation.
"ElBaradei plans to say in his November report on Iran that the agency has so far found no evidence of diversion (to a nuclear weapons program)," a diplomat who follows the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) probe told Reuters.
"But he will balance that by saying that Iran's fuel cycle activities would appear to be out of proportion with the other parts of its nuclear program," the diplomat added, referring to Iran's controversial uranium enrichment activities.
Diplomats said ElBaradei had told the Iranians he would be able to pen a positive report if there was a constructive atmosphere in their talks Friday with European counterparts who want Tehran to freeze its enrichment program.
The IAEA report will be crucial in the U.S. push to have Iran reported to the U.N. Security Council for possible economic sanctions when the watchdog's board meets on Nov. 25.
While the agency has uncovered many previously concealed parts of Iran's nuclear program, it has found no "smoking gun" clearly proving the U.S. allegations.
Several diplomats said a statement that there was no hard proof of diversion would remove a key legal ground for reporting Iran to the Security Council but would not make it impossible.
An IAEA spokeswoman declined to comment, saying the report was still being drafted.
Tehran's pursuit of enriched uranium fuel is the most controversial aspect its nuclear program because it could potentially be used to produce material for atomic weapons.
ElBaradei is trying to encourage Iran to accept an EU offer of peaceful nuclear technology and other political and economic incentives in exchange for an end to its enrichment program.
"ElBaradei told the Iranians that if the atmosphere in the EU three talks is positive, then his report on Iran will also be positive," a diplomat said. "That is quite a carrot for Iran."
Friday's talks with French, German and British officials will be held in Paris.
If no deal is struck ahead of the Nov. 25 IAEA meeting, the EU is expected to support a referral to the Security Council.
Diplomats in Vienna say they expect Iran will agree to a temporary suspension of enrichment soon to avoid being referred to the Security Council. However, they said a deal was unlikely to be struck at Friday's meeting.
2. Nuclear Outlaws: Rogue States Make a Mockery of NPT
The Times of India
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General Musharraf recently claimed that Pakistan was no more a rogue state in the eyes of the world. The world, according to him, was convinced that Pakistan was not instrumental in nuclear proliferation. In his Iftaar party speech on October 25, he said he had wisely handled the issue of A Q Khan and other scientists on the international stage.
Within a few hours of this claim, the Washington Post of October 26, 2004 carried a well-researched front-page article by Barton Gellman and Dafna Linzer, on Pakistan's proliferation. The article makes a startling disclosure ï¿½ that Dr A Q Khan's proliferation activities were perhaps not confined to North Korea, Libya and Iran. Dr Khan's documents overseas suggest that there was a fourth country to which Dr Khan might have arranged supplies of uranium enrichment equipment. A whole shipload of equipment was expected in Libya in addition to 500 tonnes earlier unloaded and surrendered to the US authorities. The ship did not arrive and was believed to have been diverted to another destination. The US and British intelligence authorities are as yet unable to identify the fourth country. But they suspect it to be Syria, Egypt, Sudan, Saudi Arabia or Kuwait, in that order of probability.
Pakistan has denied western authorities and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) access to Dr A Q Khan. According to the authors of the article, while Pakistan supplies answers to written queries by the US and UK intelligence, its cooperation is less than wholehearted. Given the dismal record of western intelligence in tracking proliferation, it is difficult to accept their conclusions on the suspect fourth country. The most logical candidate is Saudi Arabia. It has already purchased long range CSS-2 nuclear-capable missiles from China. It is unlikely to tolerate a Shia, nuclear Iran without an appropriate response. The Saudis have financed Pakistan's nuclear programme. Prince Sultan was the only foreigner to be permitted to visit the nuclear facilities at Kahuta.
When the NPT review conference is held next year, the nuclear member nations not recognised by NPT ï¿½ Israel, India, Pakistan, North Korea, Iran and the unnamed nation ï¿½ could well outnumber the five recognised members, namely, the US, Russia, Britain, France and China. Of the six outside the pale of NPT, North Korea, Iran and the unnamed nation deliberately violated the treaty, thanks to Pakistan. Israel, India and Pakistan are not signatories to the treaty. Strangely, the US and UK do not consider Pakistan as a proliferating country, even as they concentrate their ire on Iran and North Korea.
Iran was subjected to WMD attacks by Saddam Hussein while the western powers looked the other way. Saddam's nuclear, chemical and biological weapon proliferation received tacit support from western companies. After this, Iran sought nuclear weapon technology from Pakistan in 1987, as was mentioned by Dr A Q Khan in his confession and confirmed by General Aslam Beg. Today, most observers agree there is no stopping North Korea and Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Sanctions are unlikely to work against oil-rich Iran or the hermit country, North Korea. After the US experience in invasion of Iraq, military action against either country seems unlikely.
It is obvious that the safeguards envisaged in the non-proliferation treaty have failed to stop members from defying the regime and acquiring nuclear weapons. Pakistan, the major proliferator, aided North Korea and Iran to turn nuclear, cocking a snook at the much-touted NPT and yet not attracting any penalties. This has only increased the risks of further proliferation. In view of this, the US and its allies have attempted to put in place new measures to halt proliferation, not envisaged in the NPT. They include criminalisation of proliferation, expediting US help to Russia under Nunn-Lugar amendment to safeguard fissile materials of the Cold War era, tightening supply of equipment and materials, strengthening the IAEA as a policing organisation, among others. Since these measures have been unilaterally mooted by the US and its allies, they have run into opposition, particularly from China, the original proliferator to Pakistan.
It is now clear that a new regime is needed to prevent nuclear weapons and materials falling into the hands of non-state actors. The risks of jehadi non-state actors attempting to get at nuclear weapons and materials are higher in the Gulf region, which has seen 1,300 years of religious rivalry between Shias and Sunnis. With Shia power expanding in West Asia and Iraq coming under majority Shia control, tensions are likely to increase between majority Shia populations and Sunni-ruling elites in the Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia.
If the fourth state to which Pakistan proliferated happens to be Saudi Arabia, then the world should worry about the possibility of nuclear escalation between Wahabi Saudi Arabia and its ally, jehadi Sunni Pakistan on one side, and the Shia Iran and Iraq on the other. The longest war with highest casualties in the developing world was waged between Shia Iran and Sunni-led Iraq, in which WMD was used. The international community should develop an effective anti-proliferation regime, keeping in mind the prevailing tensions in the Gulf, while ensuring that nuclear materials do not fall into the hands of non-state actors in this region.
3. Whatever the history of South Korea's nuclear experiments, it doesn't bother the U.S. Why not?
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The nuclear intentions of Iran and North Korea have been a major source of global angst for more than a year, and the Bush Administration is set to keep the pressure on both countries. Stopping in Seoul last week during a swing through Asia to revive talks on the North Korean nuclear crisis, Secretary of State Colin Powell said the world badly needed to get Pyongyang back to the negotiating table. North Korea "is a danger to every one of its neighbors," he said.
Powell expressed far less concern about recent revelations that South Korea, a U.S. ally, has been secretly tinkering with the ingredients for atomic weapons. The South Korean government in September admitted it had failed to tell the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) about its experiments with bomb-usable materials including plutonium, sparking an investigation by the agency into possible violations of Seoul's nonproliferation commitments. Although the IAEA is not due to report its findings until Nov. 25, Powell, in an interview on Korean television, said the case was as good as closed. "I'm quite sure that the IAEA will see it as a minor problem with experimentation," he said, "and not anything for the international community to be worried about."
Compared with its northern neighbor, South Korea certainly poses no threat to peace on the Korean Peninsula. But that doesn't mean the country is innocent of breaking its nuclear promises. Seoul signed the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty in 1975, agreeing not to pursue bomb-making technology and to submit to IAEA monitoring so that techniques and materials used in nuclear-power plants are not converted to military use.
Seoul insists its scientists were not conducting weapons research and that it has fully disclosed its activities. But there is nagging evidence that the country has for decades periodically carried out clandestine experiments to gain know-how that would allow it to quickly develop atomic weapons, specifically through the production of plutonium and enrichment of uranium. (Much of the controversy surrounding Iran's nuclear program concerns efforts to enrich uranium.) Although those radioactive elements can be found in peaceful nuclear programs (with 19 reactors supplying 40% of its electricity, South Korea relies heavily on nuclear power), Seoul agreed not to produce either enriched uranium or plutonium without notifying the IAEA because the materials are essential to atom bombs. Now, the IAEA is trying to determine the truth. Among the incidents being investigated:
ï¿½ A 1982 experiment in which a minute quantity of plutonium was separated from uranium. IAEA inspectors first became suspicious in 1997 when a swab at a research reactor near Seoul picked up traces of plutonium that shouldn't have been there. For years, Seoul offered no explanation, saying the paperwork had been lost. Finally, in September, the president of the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI), Chang In Soon, said the traces were residual material from a "one-off test" in which fuel was taken from a reactor and dissolved in chemicals, allowing the plutonium it contained to be extracted. A confidential Ministry of Science and Technology report obtained by TIME states that five fuel rods were involved and that testing took place over two months. More ominously, the test material was "depleted" uranium imported from the former West Germany in 1976. That was a red flag for the IAEA, because depleted uranium is no good for power-plant fuel and creates more plutonium when it decays than does ordinary uranium. When the agency found out, "it really got people bent out of shape," says Mark Hibbs, Asia and Europe editor at industry publication Nucleonics Week. "That made them very keen to explore more about it."
ï¿½ The IAEA is also investigating an experiment carried out in 2000 at a sophisticated lab on KAERI's sprawling campus south of Seoul. Earlier this year, after South Korea ratified a new protocol giving the IAEA broader inspection powers, Seoul told the agency that scientists at the institute had used lasers to enrich uranium. Uranium used in fuel rods is lightly enriched, usually less than 5%. During the 2000 experiment, however, researchers produced uranium that was 77% enriched, or nearly weapons grade. Seoul characterized the laser experiment as independent research carried out by curious scientists who then neglected to report it. But TIME has been told by two sources that one of the scientists involved in the 2000 experiment was Lee Jong Min, a vice president at KAERI at the time and one of the country's top laser experts. Lee's office did not respond to requests by TIME for comment.
Standing beside Powell last week, Foreign Minister Ban Ki Moon insisted his government had nothing to hide. "We're handling this in a transparent manner," he said. Officials and lawmakers in Seoul are seething over the international scrutiny, saying their country is the victim of a double standard because their ancient rival Japan is allowed to enrich uranium and separate plutonium to run reactors. "Every nation that pursues the full use of nuclear technology inevitably gets close to weapons technology," says Kim Tae Woo, a nuclear analyst at the government-run Korea Institute for Defense Analyses. "So what is wrong with that?"
The answer is easy. If a U.S. ally is allowed to get away with nuclear transgressions, there's every chance that Tehran and Pyongyang will scream bloody murderï¿½and be less inclined to scale back their own plans. Seoul's murky nuclear history didn't seem to disturb Powell. That's a judgment he may yet come to regret.
1. Carnegie analysts expect changes in Russia-U.S. relations
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The second term in office for U.S. President George W. Bush may end in a deterioration of relations between Russia and the United States, said political analyst Liliya Shevtsova of the Carnegie Moscow Center.
The United States is likely to step up criticism of Russia over Chechnya and other issues, for which Russia came under stronger criticism by Democratic challenger John Kerry than from Bush's team, Shevtsova told at a news conference in Moscow on Thursday.
"As Bush's second term draws to a close, Russian-U.S. relations may significantly deteriorate," Shevtsova said.
"During the next four years, the U.S. leader will think of extracting himself from the dire situation into which he has driven himself," she said. Shevtsova explained that she primarily meant the Iraq problem.
Because he will have to make important decisions, Bush will depart from his traditional thinking and periodically change his approaches to various international issues, she said.
In his second term, Bush will probably concentrate on U.S. domestic issues, chiefly economic problems, said Carnegie Center deputy head Dmitry Trenin.
There must be more to bilateral relations than good personal interaction between the two presidents, he said. "The two countries must work out a clear-cut agenda for cooperation," Trenin said.
2. U.S. ambassador does not rule out Russia may join NATO in future
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U.S. Ambassador to Russia, Alexander Vershbow, said Russia may join NATO in the future, but this step will depend on the Russian authorities' decision.
Entry into NATO depends on Russia and on whether it would like to raise the issue of its membership or not, Vershbow said in his residence in Moscow.
This will be a complex process plagued by numerous problems, but the U.S. position is that Russia's membership in NATO is possible, he said.
Vershbow expressed hope that today's disagreements will be resolved and Russia and NATO will become allies. Allied relations are a transitional stage between partnership ties and membership, the ambassador said.
Leading figures in the State Duma on 3 November commented on the reelection of U.S. President Bush, RIA-Novosti and other Russian media reported. Duma Deputy Speaker Dmitrii Rogozin, who heads the Motherland party, said that "the choice between the Republicans and Democrats for Russia is like a choice between a hurricane and a typhoon." He warned that Moscow must resist being dragged into any U.S. "adventures." He said he expects Bush to continue the main policies of his first term, which he described as "the maintenance of instability in the Persian Gulf region and the threat of the use of force against Iran and Syria." Economic Policy Committee Chairman Valerii Draganov (Unified Russia) said that with Bush's reelection "the United States will be more predictable." Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov noted the close and hard-fought U.S. election. "One serious conclusion can be drawn: the destruction of the balance of the planet has to a certain degree caused the destruction of the U.S. political system as well."
1. ONLY TALKS CAN FINALLY SETTLE IRANIAN NUCLEAR PROBLEM
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Only talks can finally settle the Iranian nuclear problem, Secretary of the Russian Security Council Igor Ivanov told CIS journalists on Wednesday.
"If someone is concerned about these of those aspects of Iran's nuclear program, which, according to the Iranian leadership, is peaceful, these concerns should be settled via a dialogue," Mr. Ivanov said commenting on the possibility of a solution of this problem by force.
"Russia is taking an active part in the talks. Iran is our neighbor and we are developing cooperation with this country, in particular, in nuclear sphere," the Security Council's secretary noted.
According to him, Russia is interested in Iran's further constructive dialogue with the IAEA in order to solve the remaining problems.
A regular session of the IAEA Board of Directors will be held in November and we are interested in its constructive outcome for the sake of further development of Iran-IAEA cooperation," Igor Ivanov stressed.
In his words, Russia has hailed the beginning of a nuclear dialogue between Iran, France, Great Britain and Germany.
"We want this dialogue to be effective and are ready for the necessary support for its development," Mr. Ivanov said.
"Meanwhile, we see no grounds for sanctions and use of force. We believe that any attempts to boost the process by means beyond the negotiations can aggravate the situation. The possibilities of the talks have not been exhausted yet," Igor Ivanov emphasized.
2. Russia, Iran may sign spent nuclear fuel deal in Dec 2004
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Russia and Iran may sign an additional protocol on returning spent nuclear fuel to Russia from a nuclear power plant under construction in Iran, a source in the Russian Federal Nuclear Energy Agency (Rosatom) said.
The deal may be signed off in December, 2004, if the Rosatom chief, Alexander Rumyantsev, visits Iran at this time, the source said.
"I do not rule out that this document might be signed if all financial issues on this protocol are fully resolved and the dates for the trip are agreed upon," he said.
"We can only suppose today that this trip is likely to take place in the second half of December this year," he source said. "There are no final agreements with Iran on the dates of Alexander Rumyantsev's trip to Iran," he said.
He labeled as premature media reports saying that Rumyantsev's trip to Iran in December is an issue decided upon.
1. Russia, Britain sign memorandum on nuclear cooperation
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The Russian-British memorandum on ï¿½closed citiesï¿½ will provide new opportunities for the two countries to develop bilateral economic and industrial ties, Director of the International Nuclear Policy and Programmes of the UK Department of Trade and Industry Ian Downing said on Thursday.
Downing spoke after the Russian Federal Atomic Energy Agency (Rosatom) and the British Department of Trade and Industry signed a memorandum of intent on the Atomic Cities of Russia programme.
According to Downing, British companies are seriously interested in the human and intellectual potential that exists in the closed cities of the Russian atomic industry.
The official stressed the British side hopes that the signed memorandum will provide a serious foundation for further development of economic relations between the two countries.
Downing pointed out that the memorandumï¿½s preparation took two years and the British side was simultaneously studying possibilities of the British business activities in Russiaï¿½s closed cities. Now it is utterly clear that Russia and Great Britain are on the right track, the director said.
In the words of department head of Russiaï¿½s Federal Atomic Energy Agency Vladimir Kuchinov, ï¿½one of the tasks of the programme, which is being implemented, is to stop the drain of experience and knowledge from Russiaï¿½s closed cities.ï¿½
Rosatom sources pointed out that the Russian-British memorandum signed on Thursday ï¿½considerably facilitates the task to create 30,000 workplaces in the industryï¿½s closed cities within the coming year the atomic agency is currently faced with.ï¿½
The Federal Atomic Energy Agency and the U.K. Department of Trade and Industry signed a memorandum on mutual understanding and partnership entitled Nuclear Cities.
The document was signed by head of the Federal Atomic Energy Agency's international and foreign economic cooperation Vladimir Kuchinov and Director for International Nuclear Policy and Programs of the U.K. Department of Trade and Industry Ian Downing.
The Nuclear Cities partnership is aimed to prevent the distribution of nuclear technologies and materials of mass destruction through assistance in the resolution of problems of employment in Rosatom closed cities for nuclear specialists dismissed from Rosatom enterprises during the realization of reformation and conversion programs of Russia's nuclear weapon complex.
The Nuclear Cities partnership program is financed by the U.K. Trade and Industry Department with participation of Russian partners.
It took us a lot of time to prepare this memorandum, we worked on this task for some two years, said Mr. Downing. He expressed the hope that the document would result in signing agreements between the governments of the United Kingdom and Russia.
The partnership is developing in the framework of and in full accordance with the aims and tasks of the G8 global partnership against the proliferation of weapons and materials of mass destruction.
3. UK to spend millions on Nuclear Towns program in Russia
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Britain intends to appropriate two million to three million pounds annually on the Nuclear Towns program, Vladimir Sterekhov of the Russian Federal Atomic Energy Agency's international unit told Interfax on Thursday.
This pledge is contained in a memorandum signed in Moscow on Thursday by the agency and the British Department of Trade and Industry, he said.
Fifteen projects worth over 2 million pounds are now underway in the framework of the Nuclear Towns program. Jobs are being created for redundant Russian nuclear engineers residing in Russia's closed towns.
1. Funding Strategic Nuclear Force high on Defense Ministry agenda
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The Russian Defense Ministry is giving priority to financing the country's Strategic Nuclear Forces and equipping it with advanced weapons and military hardware, Alexei Moskovsky, deputy defense minister for army procurement, told Interfax on Thursday.
"Sustaining the Strategic Nuclear Force at its required level and providing it with weapons, military hardware and special-purpose equipment as a priority are among the main tasks of the Russian Defense Ministry," Moskovsky said.
2. STRATEGIC NUCLEAR ARSENALS: UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY ADOPTS RUSSO-US DRAFT RESOLUTION
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The United Nations General Assembly 1st Committee came to a consensus to approve a draft resolution, offered by Russia and the USA, on bilateral strategic nuclear arms reduction and the new scope of strategic relations.
The draft develops on, and supplements premises of an analogous UN General Assembly resolution No. 57/68 of November 22, 2002, Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs press and information department says in a statement.
Resolution approval comes as global confirmation that Russian-US partnership is essential for international security and strategic stability, points out the ministry.
The draft highlights the two countries' practical strides to reduce their nuclear arsenals in compliance with the START treaty, unilateral initiatives of 1991-92, and bilateral partnership agreements to destroy weapon-grade fission materials.
As the draft resolution came under debate, Russia confirmed its dedication to NPT (nuclear nonproliferation treaty) pledges, and said it was willing to cut its nuclear arsenals step by step.
Further practical efforts toward nuclear disarmament demand a gradual and comprehensive arrangement without undue hurry, and proceeding from the principle of equal security for all countries, points out the Foreign Ministry statement.
The Russian military successfully test-fired two ballistic missiles on Tuesday, firing one from a nuclear submarine in the Pacific Ocean and another from the northwestern Plesetsk cosmodrome, officials said.
The RS-12M Topol missile fired from the space launching area in Plesetsk hit a designated target on the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian Far East, about 6,700 kilometers east of Moscow, Russia's Strategic Missile Forces said in a statement released to the media.
The statement said the launch was part of an effort to test the possible extension of the service life of the Soviet-built ballistic missiles. It said the Topol missile test-fired today has been on duty since 1985, more than twice as long as its originally designated lifetime.
The post-Soviet funding shortage has left the military struggling to extend the lifetime of Soviet-built ballistic missiles, as the government lacks the funds to commission new weapons.
In another test launch today, the St. George nuclear submarine launched a ballistic missile from under water in the Sea of Okhotsk in the Far East. The missile hit a set target in northern Russia, the navy said in a statement.
THE deputy head of Russiaï¿½s long-range nuclear bomber fleet has been shot dead in a contract killing, apparently in mistake for his travelling companion, whose son was once accused of mafia activity in Smolensk.
Major-General Konstantin Dementiev, 47, died on Sunday evening when the car in which he was travelling was raked with bullets. Prosecutors said that he was killed instantly just outside Smolensk, when gunmen in a Mercedes opened fire as they overtook his car.
The driver of the car was also killed and its owner, Viktor Konorov, whose son Alexei had faced mafia charges that were not proven, seriously injured. Investigators do not believe the murder was an attempt on the life of the air force officer. ï¿½The version that they wanted to kill him is not the main one,ï¿½ a source in the prosecutorï¿½s office said. Investigators have not ruled out a link with General Dementievï¿½s air force post, although colleagues said he was not involved in any financial or property issues that could have caused conflicts.
Mikhail Oparin, the former commander of the strategic long-range nuclear division said: ï¿½He had one of the brightest futures. He was a very proper person.ï¿½
Alexei Markov, the deputy prosecutor of the Smolensk region, said that one suspect had been arrested.
1. Safety Experts Endorse Single Set of International Standards for Nuclear Power Plants
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The IAEA Conference on Topical Issues in Nuclear Safety in Beijing brought together nuclear safety experts from over 37 countries.
The need to develop a single set of international standards for nuclear power plants, from design to de-commissioning, has been endorsed by safety experts from 37 countries who met 18-22 October in Beijing, China.
The IAEA Conference on Topical Issues in Nuclear Safety, hosted by the Government of China, the China Atomic Energy Authority and the National Nuclear Safety Administration, recommended harmonization of international standards for all lifetime phases of nuclear installations.
Although substantial progress has been made in improving the safety of nuclear power plants worldwide the growing diversification and globalization of the industry presents new challenges that must be addressed.
The recommendations of the 274 delegates at the conference, provide the IAEA with steps it can take to develop international co-operation and programmes in future, including:
improving the analytical processes by which the data from lessons learned as a result of low level occurrences can be used to prevent higher level incidents;
encouraging acceptance of the view that transparency plays an important role in maintaining public confidence;
creating international management approaches regarding long term operation of nuclear power facilities.
"We must seek out ways to share lessons learned in as deep and wide a manner as possible," Tomihiro Taniguchi, IAEA Deputy Director General for Nuclear Safety and Security told the closing session of the conference.
"Self sustaining networks within and between Member States based on strategic knowledge management are key to achieving this objective. The Asian Nuclear Safety Network, supported in China by the Beijing Institute of Nuclear Engineering, Chinaï¿½s Atomic Energy Authority and the National Nuclear Safety Administration, is the flagship of the IAEA's safety networks. The proceedings and results of this conference will be a key input to this network."
Ken Brockman, IAEA Director of the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security said that the identification of key challenges by the renowned experts attending the conference will assist the IAEA in providing the support needed to continue the improvement of nuclear safety world wide.
The situation has been stabilised at the Balakovo Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), Saratov Region, where an emergency disconnection of the second power unit took place on Wednesday night. The power unit continues to be disconnected. It is planned to turn on the power unit overnight to November 5, no earlier than 00.00, Moscow time, Viktor Bychkov, deputy head of the regional department of the Emergencies Ministry for the Saratov Region, told Itar-Tass.
According to his information, the incident took place at 01.24, when three main circular pumps were disconnected simultaneously as a result of vapour ejection near the sensors. The emergency protection system was set in motion, and the whole of the power unit was disconnected. The safe operation system was not upset at NPP, however. The personnel of NPP remained at their working places.
At present all the parameters of the regular working regime have been stabilised, but the power unit still remains disconnected. The emergency situation did not disrupt electricity supply to consumers, Bychkov said.
3. 8 containers of plutonium given to police in Siberia
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A resident of Zmeinogorsk in Altai territory, Siberia has surrendered eight containers of plutonium 238 to the police, city police headquarters told Interfax.
The man, a geophysicist by training, had worked at the Zmeinogorsk mine and kept the containers in his garage for six or seven years.
A criminal case on the illegal storage of radioactive materials has been opened.
The man told the police that the facility for which he had worked was closed and deserted in the early 1990s. The laboratory was looted, but the plutonium was left at the x-ray installation in which it was used. In 1997 or 1998 - he could remember exactly when - he found the containers on the grounds of his former workplace lying in a heap of litter.
He tried to trace his former superiors and wrote several letters to various institutions about the plutonium, but received no reply. Then he took the plutonium and placed it in a box in his garage, believing that as an expert, he had no right to leave the plutonium in a public place.
The man said he decided to hand the plutonium in after reading a police announcement in the local paper encouraging people to surrender weapons for a reward.
A former Russian nuclear physicist turned over 14 ounces of plutonium he found in a dump and then kept in his garage, a news agency said Tuesday. Now he finds himself facing possible criminal charges.
Leonid Grigorov said he had written several letters to authorities urging them to properly secure the eight containers of dangerous material that he said he found discarded near a mining factory in Zmeinogorsk in southern Siberia, the ITAR-Tass news agency said.
When the letters went unanswered, he placed the material in a leaden case in his garage. Each container held 1.75 ounces of plutonium.
``As an expert, I felt obliged to do that to avoid danger,'' he said, according to ITAR-Tass.
Grigorov turned the plutonium over to police after seeing a police notice inviting people to surrender weapons in exchange for a cash prize. But instead of giving him a prize, police opened a criminal investigation against Grigorov on charges of illegal possession of radioactive materials.
Nikolai Shingaryov, a spokesman for Russia's Federal Atomic Energy Agency, said that plutonium-238 is widely used in industries but could not be used to build an atomic bomb.
He would not comment on the ITAR-Tass report but said it appeared unlikely that containers in Grigorov's possession could hold such a large amount of plutonium.
Russia's nuclear chief, Alexander Rumyantsev, has said that authorities have been negligent in disposing of obsolete equipment involving lethal radioactive isotopes during the post-Soviet industrial collapse. Such equipment used for cancer treatment in clinics and in manufacturing industries has been carelessly dumped across Russia.
Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, concerns have grown that terrorists might be trying to acquire material for a dirty bomb - a device that uses conventional explosives to spread low-level radiation.
5. War-grade plutonium has never been missing in Russia ï¿½ expert
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Not a single case of missing war-grade plutonium has been registered in Russia, spokesman for the Federal Atomic Energy Agency Nikolai Shingaryov told Itar-Tass on Tuesday.
He commented on a report from Barnaul that eight containers each with 50 grams of war-grade plutonium 238 had been found and brought to the police.
ï¿½This is not a war-grade material, but an isotope used in various equipment. Any plant, which has a license, can freely buy plutonium 238, for instance from the Kurchatov Institute. As for war-grade plutonium, it is strictly controlled,ï¿½ he said.
1. The First Committee of the United Nations General Assembly Adopts
UN News Centre
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During the Fifty-ninth Session of the United Nations General Assembly, the General Assemblyï¿½s First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) adopted a resolution on the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). The resolution, sponsored by Poland and adopted unanimously, appreciated the ongoing work to achieve the objective and purpose of the CWC and expressed its determination to achieve the effective prohibition of the development, production, acquisition, transfer, tsockpiling and use of chemical weapons and their destruction.
The First Committee noted with satisfaction that the total number of States Parties to the CWC had risen to one hundred and sixty-six and called upon all States that have not yet done so to become parties to the CWC without delay. The First Committee stressed that the Convention and its implementation contribute to enhancing international peace and security, and emphasized that its full, universal and effective implementation will contribute further to that purpose and represents an important contribution to the efforts of the United Nations in the global fight against terrorism.
The First Committee underlined the importance to the Conventionï¿½s purpose of the inclusion of all possessors of chemical weapons, chemical weapons production facilities or chemical weapons development facilities, including previously-declared possessor States, among the States Parties to the Convention. Progress to that end was to be welcomed.
The Committee also noted with appreciation the progress made by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) towards achieving universal adherence to the Convention.
2. Remarks during a United Nations First Committee Plenary Session of Debate
Ambassador Jackie Sanders
U.S. Department of State
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Fundamentally, the United States supports the negotiation in the CD of a ban -- in the form of a legally binding FMCT -- on the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.
As many of you know, I announced the results of the United States' FMCT review in a CD plenary speech on July 29. Our experts in Washington put a considerable amount of thought into this review. As a result of our review, the United States believes that an FMCT cannot be verified effectively.
The U.S. sent a team of verification experts to Geneva last month to brief on how we reached this conclusion.
The nature of an FMCT imposes significant practical limits on its verification. An FMCT would ban the production of fissile material for use in nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, while allowing production for other activities not subject to an FMCT.
Under the IAEA's safeguards system, finding undeclared fissile material in a state under safeguards is sufficient to make a judgment of noncompliance. However, simply finding fissile material not declared under an FMCT would be insufficient to make a judgment of noncompliance -- it would be only the starting point, really -- given that both date of production and purpose of production then would have to be proven.
The United States has maintained a moratorium on the production of fissile material for weapons purposes for more than 15 years. While other governments have announced their own suspension of production, the moratorium is far from universal.
The U.S. believes that fruitlessly negotiating verification procedures would delay unnecessarily the creation of a ban on the production of fissile material for nuclear explosive devices.
It is imperative for an FMCT to be negotiated while it could still be relevant. The objective of an FMCT is not its verification, but the creation of an observed norm against the production of fissile material intended for weapons.
Faced with these issues, and other problems that our experts detailed in Geneva, we must rethink how to approach an FMCT in the CD.
In considering this year's First Committee FMCT resolution, we must all ask whether the overall result will promote prospects for getting an FMCT in place, or damage them.
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