1. RUSSIAN PREMIER TO DISCUSS FRANCE'S DEBT UNDER CHEMICAL WEAPONS DISPOSAL PROGRAM
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While on a working visit to France on December 9-10, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov will discuss France's debt under the chemical weapons disposal program, reported a source in the Russian delegation.
"The Group of Eight has worked out a program of global partnership for aid in disposing Russia's stockpiles of chemical weapons. Unfortunately, France is a major debtor under the program," said the source.
France's quota under the program is $100 million, and the country has not thus far allocated the money.
Among other issues that will be touched on at Mr. Fradkov's meetings in Paris will be Russia's G8 presidency in 2006.
Besides, the delegates may discuss reducing or abolishing customs duties on certain Renault car parts, according to the source.
The delegate recalled that the Renault-Avtoframos carmaker, a French-Russian joint venture, operated in Russia.
"The parties will apparently discuss drafting a resolution reducing or abolishing Russian customs duties on certain car parts to promote cooperation in that sphere," said the source.
He said "Russian ministries are working in this direction, which can yield a practical result in a month's time already."
If approved the draft resolution will be submitted for the consideration of the Russian government's commission on protective measures and further on for the government's consideration.
1. The cold war's nuclear legacy has lasted too long
Sam Nunn, Co-Chairman
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Ten years ago, on December 5 1994, the first Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty entered into force. Today, with the cold war behind us, the chances of a premeditated, deliberate nuclear attack have fallen dramatically. We know that. But we should also know that the chances of an accidental, mistaken or unauthorised nuclear attack might be increasing.
There are several causes: budget problems and an erosion in non-nuclear forces in Russia have led the military to increase its reliance on nuclear weapons; a tilt in the US and Russian strategic forces in favour of the US makes Russia more likely to launch upon warning of an attack, without waiting to see if the warning is accurate; and the Russian early warning system is in serious disrepair and more likely to give a false warning of incoming missiles.
America's survival could depend on the accuracy of Russia's warning systems and its command and control - an absurd situation for both nations.
There is another danger, which compounds the risk of all three: the high-alert, hair-trigger nuclear posture in both countries, which allows missiles to be launched within minutes. This hair-trigger capability would force our leaders to decide almost instantly whether to launch nuclear weapons once they have warning of an attack, robbing them of the time they may need to gather data, exchange information, gain perspective, discover an error and avoid a catastrophic mistake.
President Bush has long understood the danger. In the summer of 2000, in a speech entitled "New Leadership on National Security", candidate Bush said: "The United States should remove as many weapons as possible from high-alert, hair-trigger status - another unnecessary vestige of cold war confrontation . . . . Today, for two nations at peace, keeping so many weapons on high alert may create unacceptable risks of accidental or unauthorised launch. So, as president, I will ask for an assessment of what we can safely do to lower the alert status of our forces."
More than five years later, and 15 years after the end of the cold war, we continue to run these same "unacceptable risks". The Treaty of Moscow that Presidents Bush and Putin signed in 2002 did nothing to specifically address hair-trigger status, which in my view is the most dangerous element of the US and Russian force postures.
Keeping our nuclear weapons on hair-trigger now increases, for both nations, the risk it was designed to reduce. It is high time to find a safer form of deterrence and security. The burden of leadership falls squarely on the US and Russia. Our two presidents should eliminate this dangerous cold war legacy by making a joint commitment that would include three parts.
First, both countries should commit to a process to remove all US and Russian nuclear weapons from hair-trigger alert. This would allowmore time to think before launching - first adding hours and then days.
Second, as an intermediate step, the US and Russia should reduce the number of warheads on hair-trigger alert from several thousand to several hundred.
Third, the US and Russia should engage in a dialogue with other nuclear weapon states to de-emphasise globally the importance of nuclear weapons and gain mutual assurances that no state will, in the absence of an imminent threat, deploy its nuclear weapons on hair-trigger status.
These steps should be taken in concert with a broader presidential directive to further define and reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy.
If the US and Russia remove all nuclear weapons from hair-trigger status while maintaining smaller but survivable forces, we can reduce the danger we pose to each other. By reducing our reliance on nuclear weapons, the US and Russia will also gain the credibility now missing to get others to join in applying pressure on nations still seeking nuclear arms, and to rally the world to secure all weapons grade nuclear materials, greatly reducing the risk of catastrophic terrorism.
For far too long, we have let the nuclear legacy of the cold war linger. In doing so, we are running an unnecessary risk of an Armageddon of our own making. If it happens, God forbid, our epitaph will read like the decline of other species: "Too slow in adapting to a changing environment."
The writer, a former chairman of the US Senate Armed Services Committee, is co-chairman of the Nuclear Threat Initiative
Russia is again calling for a Moscow-New Delhi-Beijing axis, an alliance of three nuclear-armed countries of some 2.5 billion people that theoretically would be able to balance US power in coming years.
Cooperation among Russia, India and China "would make a great contribution to global security", Russian President Vladimir Putin announced in New Delhi. The Kremlin leader, on a visit to India over the weekend, accused the West of pursuing a dictatorial foreign policy and setting double standards on terrorism. A unipolar world could entail dangerous trends globally, Putin said, adding that unilateralism increased risks that weapons of mass destruction might fall into the hands of terrorists.
Putin refrained from naming the unilateral power in question, but it is widely assumed he was referring to the United States when he lashed out at "unipolar world" policies. Putin and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh issued a joint call for "multipolar world" and a greater role for the United Nations. The Russian leader also backed India's bid for a permanent United Nations Security Council seat.
A "strategic triangle" linking Russia, India and China was first suggested by former Russian premier (and incidentally Saddam Hussein's old friend) Yevgeny Primakov in 1998. Yet the idea failed to serve its immediate purpose of preventing the US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization air strikes against former Yugoslavia. The concept was dismissed by Beijing, while New Delhi remained noncommittal.
In November 2002, New Delhi denied that India, Russia and China were forming a separate axis, adding that talks among the three countries in New York were informal and not directed against the US or any other country.
However, in December 2002 Putin traveled to China and India, and high-level rhetoric about the need for greater cooperation also included thinly veiled anti-Western pronouncements and calls for a "multipolar world", Moscow's mantra for counterbalancing America's global dominance.
In late 2002, Russian hinted at a possible Moscow-New Delhi-Beijing axis, a move arguably made to highlight the Kremlin's strong disagreement with US policies on Iraq. But this stratagem also failed to prevent the US-led invasion to topple Saddam. Nonetheless, speculation resurfaced about the three countries ganging up together to form the "axis" due to a perceived sense among all three that American power must somehow be checked.
So far, the "strategic triangle" concept is yet to be formally coined. However, Russia, China and India are all understood to have a number of converging interests that could add substance to the axis talk. All three were opposed to the war on Iraq and protested against what they viewed as a rejection of the rules of the international game. They continue to back the primacy of the UN Security Council in solving crises, and support the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of sovereign states.
Apart from shared concerns of US dominance, the three have other common interests and mutually reinforcing needs. All three are weary of militant Islamic groups on their soil, and want stability in Central Eurasia.
There is also a growing arms sale relationship between Russia and the two Asian countries. The trade provides Moscow with billions of much-needed dollars and important arms-export markets, while Beijing and New Delhi receive sophisticated armaments ranging from combat aircraft to submarines.
All three countries have opposed missile defense systems, seen as detrimental to their respective nuclear deterrence. Incidentally, Russian generals have hinted they have cheaper ways to defeat an anti-missile system by using some of the Soviet-era blueprints of "asymmetric warfare". These include schemes to confuse and overwhelm a missile-defense system by the use of dummy warheads as well as multiple maneuverable warheads. China and India are reportedly interested in investigating how weaker powers can defeat stronger ones by "asymmetric warfare". Therefore, all three could be potentially interested in pursuing anti-satellite, anti-radar and anti-computer techniques designed to deny a technologically superior military power the ability to operate.
On the other hand, the idea that an Eastern axis may be the only answer to Bush administration arrogance has been dismissed as a mere byproduct of the Cold War-era mindset. It has been also argued that the trilateral axis cannot be feasible because the Indian nuclear and missile program is not so much aimed at Pakistan, but is in fact deterrence against Chinese nuclear warheads. There have been warnings that a well-armed and strong China may one day pose a threat to Russia's resource-rich Far East. The would-be triangle is also seen as implausible because India and China happen to have competing economies. Russia and China have already solved their border disputes, while China and India are still divided by a chunk of barren terrain, the Dalai Lama and a few thousand of his followers.
Meanwhile, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) can provide a convenient forum for the trilateral axis. The SCO currently includes China, Russia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, yet India has been touted as a potential candidate to join.
SCO was originally intended to band together Russia, China and Central Asian nations to contest America's growing influence in Central Eurasia. Its secretariat is to be based in Beijing, reportedly at China's insistence. The group drafted a Shanghai anti-terror convention and has urged the UN to play a major role in efforts to eradicate global terrorism.
Given the polarizing effect of Iraq, some sort of strategic unity among Russia, China and India is not beyond the realm of feasibility. Therefore, the triangle - formal, informal or in the SCO disguise - may finally get some substance. After all, mutual interests, the greatest of all purposes, may become the cement of this alliance.
There is, thus, a motivation in all three capitals to cooperate on strategic, security and economic issues. But aside from calls for a "multipolar world", the idea of an axis seemingly has yet to evolve into a clear-cut strategy. The would-be "strategic triangle" is still short of an implementation system, a prerequisite to ensure the future success of any stratagem. In the meantime, none of the troika wants to give the impression that they are banding together against the sole superpower.
As the international situation is undergoing a major shift, Moscow may feel a necessity for some "asymmetric" moves to offset its own weaknesses. If Russian policies in Ukraine fail, the Kremlin's response could be the acceleration of alliances with India and China, or at least the acceleration of axis talk. However, "strategic triangle" talk failed to impress the West in the past, and axis rhetoric is even less likely to have an impact now.
1. Indian MPs disstressed by Russian uranium fuel freeze
Pakistan Daily Times
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Indian parliamentarians expressed concern on Monday at reports that Russia would stop supplying enriched uranium to local nuclear plants.
Raising the issue during Zero Hour, C K Chandrappan (CPI) said many several installations, particularly the Tarapur plant in South India, could not function without the enriched uranium earlier supplied by Russia.
Speaking to The Hindu, a senior Russian official said the guidelines of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) prevented Moscow from providing the fuel.
Alexander Yuryevich, director of the Russian Federal Atomic Energy Agency, denied reports that Russia was providing two additional 1,000 MW reactors to India. He said Russiaï¿½s commitments with the NSG were keeping it from expanding nuclear cooperation with New Delhi. India needs 50 tonnes of enriched uranium to keep the Tarapur plant going.
Yuryevich also said that his countryï¿½s proposal to allow India to enter the NSG as a nuclear state or an associate member was received with ï¿½a very negative responseï¿½ by member countries. He also advised India to bring all its nuclear facilities under the safeguard regime of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to improve its standing amongst NSG members. ï¿½But, you know, India cannot show all facilities,ï¿½ he told the newspaper. He was also categorical that Iran had no nuclear programme. ï¿½I did not notice any weapons programme in Iran. I know Iranian facilities and we are building a nuclear power plan in that country. We are acquainted with the facilities of the Iranian nuclear industry.
Russia is willing to supply any civilian nuclear technology and fuel for reactors to India provided New Delhi does its 'homework' by directly talking to other key members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), sources in the Government said.
"There is no problem in our ability to supply more reactors for Kudankulam or nuclear fuel for Tarapur, the problem is that we are bound by the NSG guidelines. India needs to seriously do its 'homework' by engaging other key members of the group. We have conveyed this in the past also to New Delhi," official sources told PTI on conditions of strict anonymity.
They were commenting on reports from New Delhi which quoted a member of President Vladimir Putin's delegation, Chief of Federal Atomic Energy Agency Alexander Rumyantsev, as having expressed Moscow's inability to provide more fuel for Tarapur Atomic power plants and two more reactors in Kudankulam atomic power station.
Moscow joined NSG in early 1990s after the Soviet collapse and in spite of heavy US pressure, had agreed to build Kudankulam nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu as per a MoU signed by erstwhile Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.
NSG bans nuclear co-operation with the nations like India, which have not signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) and have refused to put their nuclear facilities under the safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
3. RUSSIA TO STOP SUPPLY FUEL TO INDIA'S NUKE, TO BUILD NEW INSTEAD
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India's nuclear power industry is invulnerable and can be self-reliant, the newspaper Hindu on Tuesday quotes Anil Kakodkar, chairman of the National Atomic Energy Commission, as saying in Chennai.
It was Kakodkar's reaction to the recent words by Alexander Rumyantsev, head of the Federal Nuclear Energy Agency, that Russia is not going to ship fuel (low-enriched uranium) for the first two reactors of the Tarapur facility, founded 100 kilometres off Mumbai, Maharashtra. Rumyantsev also said that Russia will not participate in manufacturing another two reactors for the Kudankulam facility in the southern state Tamil Nadu.
Anil Kakodkar rejected the assertions that India's oldest Tarapur nuke can only fire low-enriched uranium. To him, the MOX fuel (mixed uranium-plutonium oxide), production of which has begun in India, is partly used in Tarapur reactors.
In the Kudankulam plant two power units with VVER (water-moderated energy) reactors of 1,000 megawatts each is being built, with the involvement of Russian specialists,.
In 1996 the International Atomic Energy Agency banned the shipment of modern nuclear technologies to India after its refusal to sign the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The Kudankulam units are in the making upon the bilateral agreement concluded way back in 1988, before the ban came into force.
In 2001, minding its critical shortage of fuel, Russia shipped 58 tonnes of nuclear fuel to the Tarapur plant, casing the disgruntlement of the nuclear suppliers' group.
The Russian state-run enterprise Technopromexport is going to participate in tenders for the construction of new electrical facilities in India.
The possibility of its partaking in the Northern Karampura and Subansiri tenders were discussed at the meeting in New Delhi between Indian Energy Minister Said and Sergei Molozhavy, chairman of Technopromexport.
"Indian electricity workers note the high professionalism of Russian specialists and their abidance by the contract commitments. We hope this will let us expand the presence of our company on the Indian energy market", Molozhavy said on results of the meeting.
Currently, Technopromexport is working in India on two project of about 100 million dollars total cost.
They are retooling the Obra thermal power plant and supplying hydromechanical equipment for the Indira Sagar hydropower station. Technopromexport also participates in the tender for the supply of furnace fuel for the Bar thermal power plant.
Since the 1960s, Technopromexport has put into operation in India eleven power facilities of over 3,000 megawatts, or approximately ten percent of the national energy system.
Russia has offered India a strategic defense partnership to jointly develop high-tech weapon systems but ruled out supplying nuclear submarines to New Delhi.
Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said: We are prepared to transfer high-tech frontier technology to India in a strategic tie-up based on a new pattern of defense cooperation.
Ivanov said Moscow was not planning to sell or lease a Project 941 (Typhoon) ballistic missile submarine to India, Interfax reported.
We are delivering conventional submarines to India and do not rule out their future upgrade. As for nuclear submarines, we fully rule out their delivery, Ivanov told reporters in the Indian capital.
The visiting minister said that the time had come to change the pattern of defense cooperation to make it transcend buyer-seller relationship and take it to levels of frontier technology.
India and Russia will also hold joint military exercises involving their elite paratroopers next year, Ivanov said.
Ivanov is in India to lay the groundwork for the Russian President Vladimir Putin's three-day visit that begins Friday. Putin is expected to sign a series of bilateral agreements with Indian officials to bolster the bilateral ties between Moscow and New Delhi.
Officials of the two nations are trying to resolve Moscow's concerns on the protection of intellectual property rights and New Delhi's concerns over a time-bound delivery schedule for the weapons and spares.
Russia wants India to ink an IPR agreement to ensure that advanced weapon systems developed jointly are not handed over to third countries without mutual agreement.
India is not averse to signing such an agreements but wants Russia to stick to its delivery schedules of contracted weapon systems and an uninterrupted supply of spares and life-term product support.
Huge multi-million contracts signed with Russia in recent years like the ones for the Sukhoi-30MKI fighters, the T-90S main battle tanks and the Talwar class stealth frigates have been dogged by several delays, The Times of India reported.
India is seeking to include stiff penalty clauses in all such weapon procurement contracts.
Although India has been defense shopping in Israel and the United States following the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russia continues to be the backbone of Indian defense supplies.
Nearly three-fourths of Indian military's hardware is of Soviet make, and India is hard pressed for the required spare parts. India's ageing fleet of MiG fighter jets is dogged by a series of fatal accidents, often blamed on poor spares.
Putin's visit is aimed to iron out a series of differences and bolster the bilateral ties between the two former allies of the Cold War era.
Besides defense pacts, Putin is expected to sign agreements concerning the banking and information technology sectors.
Meanwhile, the Russian cabinet on Thursday approved a bilateral accord for visa-free travel with India for diplomatic and official passport holders.
The new visa agreement would benefit the large Indian contingent involved in defense projects in Russia.
Russia revealed it was fitting its strategic bombers with cruise missiles capable of delivering a massive precision strike thousands of miles away -- giving away the first clear hint of its post-Cold War military strategy.
Russia's long-range air force finally has a new weapon," the government's Rossiyskaya Gazeta daily announced in a headline. "We now have a strategic cruise missile with a non-nuclear warhead," the paper wrote.
"We have broken the US monopoly on the use long-range conventional cruise missiles," an unnamed senior air force commander told ITAR-TASS.
The technology appears to be similar to cruise missiles that the United States has long attached to its own intercontinental bombers like the B-2 Stealth bomber.
The announcement followed months of cryptic statements from President Vladimir Putin and his top generals that Russia was developing a new missile program that is a step ahead of any Western rivals -- including technology developed by the United States.
Putin declared last month that Russia had "conducted tests of the latest nuclear rocket systems" in a cryptic comment that puzzled military strategists but seemed aimed at Washington and its mooted missile defense shield that Moscow considers illegal.
Russia has been developing a range of new missiles capable of penetrating US defenses as a result.
Generals announced earlier this year the successful tests of a hypersonic intercontinental missile that has no officially-confirmed rival in the United States.
Moscow is also believed to be developing a multi-stage intercontinental ballistic missile that uses cruise missile technology to zigzag and avoid being shot down once it re-enters the earth's atmosphere.
Finally Russia announced that it was making its most feared and powerful trans-Atlantic missile mobile within the next two years.
But the latest technology announced Monday would see old Soviet-era conventional missiles be carried by strategic bombers with a global range.
The Russian government daily said tests of the new system were being conducted in military exercises now under way in southern Russia.
"This year, our strategic Tu-160 and Tu-95s bombers have been equipped with new non-nuclear precision weapons," ITAR-TASS quoted an unnamed Russian air force general as saying.
"These cruise missiles have a range of more than 3,000 kilometers (1,800 miles) and can miss a target by no more than a few meters while carrying a warhead of hundreds of kilotons," the source said.
The report failed to specify the type of missile being used.
The bombers currently carry an intercontinental ballistic missile called X-55 (AS-15 Kent according to Western classification) that was first deployed in 1983.
But Russian news reports said at least some of the planes will now be re-equipped with a new smaller missile which in Russian is called OFAB-500 and which carries a massive cluster bomb weighing 515 kilograms (1,130 pounds).
The pudgy weapon only has a top speed of 1,200 kilometers (720 miles) an hour but would be launched from bombers that can reach any spot on earth.
A military source told ITAR-TASS the first Tu-160 has been equipped with 45 tons of bombs -- or about 90 missiles.
"These new cruise missiles are a very precise weapon," the Krasnaya Zvezda (Red Star) official defense ministry newspaper wrote.
"The crew will be capable of delivering, as they say, a 'present' through an open window," the paper said.
However the Russian government daily pointed out that Moscow has a long way to go before it can catch up with Washington.
Rossiyskaya Gazeta estimated said the United States now has 5,000 non-nuclear-tipped cruise missiles with up to 700 of them attached to global B-52 and B-2 bombers.
The unnamed general told ITAR-TASS that Russia's technology was primarily aimed for "anti-terrorist operations" rather than a major war.
Scientists now say 100 million degrees C is not too hot to handle in this powerful energy-generating process.
When two physicists gather at a restaurant with steak on the menu and fusion on the agenda, you're likely to find scribbles. Or so it must have seemed to the server who cleared Robert Goldston's table recently.
A colleague had missed a talk Dr. Goldston had given on new developments in fusion-energy research. So the two repaired to a local eatery for a recap. By the time the check arrived, "the napkins and half the table cloth were covered with equations," recalls Goldston, director of Princeton's Plasma Physics Laboratory.
Fusion, in other words, is generating renewed excitement among scientists in the field.
Given the challenges facing today's nuclear reactors, they have long dreamed of harnessing the same energy source that powers the sun. In theory, they could generate power more efficiently, more safely, and with less nuclear waste than today's reactors, and use a virtually limitless source of fuel - hydrogen. Fusion reactors represent a kind of holy grail for an energy-dependent world.
Now, researchers are poised to take the next big step in evaluating the technology's commercial potential. Scientists say they are more confident than ever that they can successfully build and operate a planned experimental fusion reactor. The bigger hurdle now looks political. The six-nation project - called the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, or ITER - is caught in a big-money squabble over where to put the $5 billion reactor. Japan and France both want the privilege.
Scientists, meanwhile, are chafing to loose the bulldozers.
"There have been dramatic advancements in our scientific understanding" over the past five to 10 years, Goldston notes. The basic conclusion: The "fire" in the type of reactor planned for ITER may not be as finicky to control as many had previously believed.
Initial simulations had suggested that triggering and sustaining the fusion reactions might be too difficult. But "we've made enormous steps forward," says Anne Davies, director of the US Energy Department's Office of Fusion Energy Science. An International Atomic Energy Agency meeting last month in Portugal generated considerable excitement because experiments with test reactors around the world suggested ITER's reactor would work as designed.
The idea behind fusion is fairly straightforward. Today's nuclear reactors derive their energy by splitting atoms in a process called fission. Fusion works by combining them - actually the nuclei of two forms of hydrogen known as deuterium and tritium. Fusing nuclei requires more energy than splitting them, but the payoff is larger. A fusion reaction gives off three to four times as much energy as a fission reaction does.
The challenge: For fusion to occur, the surroundings must be torrid. Researchers anticipate their experimental reactor will run at 100 million degrees C - roughly six times as hot as the sun's core. At these temperatures, atoms and their electrons part company and form a roiling particle soup called a plasma. Such temperatures also give the nuclei of the atoms enough speed to fuse with other nuclei when they hit them. But because the plasma is filled with electrically charged particles, many researchers hold that the only way to keep the plasma bottled up is with magnetic fields.
Enter ITER, which would represent a major step toward a commercial fusion reactor. Researchers have designed it to generate at least five times the amount of power it consumes in sustaining fusion reactions. It would use a reactor roughly shaped like a hollow doughnut, surrounded by magnets. The plasma forms and the reactions occur within the doughnut. The magnetic fields are designed to keep the plasma from hitting the reactor walls. If it did, it would cool sufficiently to snuff the reactions. "No one would get hurt, but if you were trying to sell electricity, you wouldn't be very happy," Goldston quips.
For years, researchers worried that at the energy levels ITER was aiming for, the plasma would fail to remain stable or that the magnetic fields would fail to keep the plasma bottled up.
But since the mid-'90s, technological advances have yielded fresh insights into the way such reactors can operate. They include improved test equipment, new ways to tweak the reactions from outside the reactor vessel, and more-powerful computers that model the conditions in the reactors. "Now we know what we're looking at," Goldston says.
For example, when the plasma grows turbulent, it forms eddies and the plasma cools. Researchers had a difficult time figuring out what determined the size of the eddies and how to control them. With the added computational horsepower and the new instruments, they determined the factors that controlled their size. Just as important, they found that they could apply more push to the flowing plasma than the system would generate on its own, shearing off the eddies almost before they got started.
"If you play that card right, you get these regions that are very quiet" and have distinctly higher temperatures than the regions surrounding them, Goldston says.
Another troublesome question revolved around how powerful a magnetic field the ITER reactor would need to contain the plasma.
"This is a key issue," he says. "Magnetic fields cost money and plasma makes fusion. If you can hold a lot of plasma in a little magnetic field, you can make money. If you can only hold a little bit of plasma in a big magnetic field, then you ought to find a different job."
Researchers are encouraged by the results they've gotten in this area so far.
Scientists are targeting other issues as well, the DOE's Dr. Davies says. A search is under way for materials that can line the reactor chamber without succumbing to the corrosive effects of the reactions. Scientists are also seeking new materials that will lose lethal levels of radioactivity faster than is currently the case. Today's fission reactors generate large amounts of long-lasting radioactive waste. Fusion reactors are expected to generate smaller amounts of highly radioactive waste. Scientists would like to use materials, such as silicone carbide, that don't become radioactive at all.
In addition, researchers are looking at alternative approaches to designing the reactor core itself.
"The fusion energy program has risen to a new level of scientific understanding," Davies says. "We're now measuring and controlling plasmas consistent with computer simulations. This represents an enormous step forward."
1. U.S. and Kazakhstan Sign Nunn-Lugar Agreement Amendment to Prevent Biological Weapons Proliferation
Richard G. Lugar, Senator
Office of Sen. Richard Lugar
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Today the United States and Kazakhstan signed an amendment to a bilateral agreement that will expand cooperation against the threat of bioterrorism through the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program. The goal of ongoing U.S.-Kazakhstan cooperation in this area is to counter the threat of bioterrorism and prevent proliferation of biological weapons technology, pathogens, and expertise at their source.
Nunn-Lugar assistance will have five key goals: (1) prevention of the proliferation of biological weapons expertise through the cooperative biological research program; (2) securing dangerous pathogens and strains by strengthening biosafety and biosecurity at facilities; (3) consolidation of dangerous pathogens at secure central repositories; (4) elimination of biological weapons-related equipment and infrastructure; and (5) fortification of Kazakhstanï¿½s biological threat agent detection and response system to protect against bioterror attacks.
ï¿½I applaud the work of the Department of Defense and the Administration in concluding this important work with the Government of Kazakhstan. I congratulate President Nazarbayev and his government on having joined Georgia and Uzbekistan in partnership with the United States to work toward successfully eliminating the risk of biological weapons and preventing bioterrorism. This is a critical step forward in addressing the threat posed by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.ï¿½ Lugar said.
Lugar visited Kazakhstan in August 2003 to discuss the need for strong cooperation in the areas of biological weapons proliferation prevention and combating bioterrorism. During his visit, Lugar met with Kazakhstani officials in Almaty and toured the Kazakh Science Center for Quarantine and Zoonotic Diseases, a former Soviet anti-plague institute currently engaged in public health research.
Lugar urged Kazakhstani leaders to sign this amendment and announced that the Nunn-Lugar Program plans to build a diagnostic reference laboratory and infectious disease surveillance system to improve Kazakhstanï¿½s ability to detect, diagnose, and respond to natural and bioterrorist infectious disease outbreaks.
The Amendment raised the amount of funding that will be spent on biological weapons proliferation prevention projects in Kazakhstan by approximately $35 million. Part of this effort involves the joint study of dangerous pathogens for the purpose of developing medical countermeasures to better protect our populations from dreaded infectious diseases. Through this program the U.S. and Kazakhstan will develop and test new molecular diagnostics and therapies to cure endemic diseases in Central Asia.
2. Waiver of Restrictions on Assistance to Russia under the Cooperative Threat Reduction Act of 1993 and Title V of the FREEDOM Support Act
President George W. Bush
The White House
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Consistent with the authority vested in me by section 1306 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2003 (Public Law 107-314), I hereby certify that waiving the restrictions contained in subsection (d) of section 1203 of the Cooperative Threat Reduction Act of 1993 (22 U.S.C. 5952), as amended, and the requirements contained in section 502 of the FREEDOM Support Act (22 U.S.C. 5852) during Fiscal Year 2005 with respect to the Russian Federation is important to the national security interests of the United States.
3. DOE Extends Acceptance Policy for Spent Nuclear Fuel from Foreign Research Reactors; Fuel Recovery Advances Nonproliferation Efforts Under the Global Threat Reduction Initiative
Department of Energy
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Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham today announced that he has extended a policy that to date has enabled the United States to recover nearly 500 kilograms of uranium-235 - enough to build about 20 crude nuclear weapons - in U.S.-origin high-enriched uranium (HEU) used to fuel foreign research reactors. The Department of Energy's (DOE) decision to extend the period for spent fuel acceptance will provide additional time for research reactors to convert from HEU to low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuel.
The current acceptance policy established by DOE and the State Department in 1996 permits the United States to accept certain eligible spent fuel that is irradiated by May, 2006, and returned to the United States by May, 2009. A revised record of decision, signed by National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Administrator Linton Brooks on November 22, 2004, extends the irradiation deadline to May, 2016, and the acceptance deadline to May, 2019.
"A principal goal of this administration's nonproliferation policy is to secure and reduce worldwide stocks of HEU to keep potential weapons material out of the hands of terrorists and hostile countries," Secretary Abraham said today. "This extension will enable the United States to recover HEU that will not be ready for return to the United States by the original deadlines."
Some countries with eligible fuel have not used their fuel as rapidly as projected or have made alternative fuel processing arrangements, and there have been technical delays in the development of LEU alternatives. The acceptance policy is a cornerstone of the DOE Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI), which focuses on minimizing, and, where possible, eliminating the use of HEU in civil applications by converting research reactors to LEU and securing, returning or recovering vulnerable nuclear material. Since 1996, the acceptance program has successfully conducted 30 shipments involving 27 countries, resulting in the safe return of over 6,300 spent nuclear fuel assemblies.
Research reactors have important medical, agricultural and industrial applications. Under the Atoms for Peace program established in the 1950s, the United States provided reactor technology to further other countries' research into peaceful uses of atomic energy.
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