1. Russia, Us Implement Uranium Transportation Project Phase
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MOSCOW, December 25 (Itar-Tass) - Russia and the United States successfully implemented another phase of the international program to remove highly enriched uranium from former Soviet bloc countries, spokesman for Russia's Atomic Energy Ministry Nikolai Shingarev told Itar-Tass on Thursday.
Shingarev was commenting on the air transportation of 16.9 kilograms of highly enriched uranium from the depository at the Bulgarian research reactor in the town of Gorno-Oriahovitsa to the town of Dmitrovgrad in Russia's Ulyanovsk region.
"In all, 28 fuel assemblies weighing 96 kilograms have been transported," he said.
He explained the some media reports on "taking out spent nuclear fuel or even nuclear waste from Bulgaria" did not correspond to reality." The issue only concerns "the stock of fuel delivered for this reactor in Soviet times, and stored there since."
Earlier, Russia and the United States removed enriched uranium -- under control by the International Atomic Energy Agency -- from research reactors of Yugoslavia and Romania for further use in Russia, according to Shingarev.
"All these three operations were implemented by Russian and U.S. experts and funded by the United States," he emphasized.
The spokesman noted that the Russian-U.S. agreement, which underlies these operations, "envisions the removal of enriched uranium from 22 facilities in Eastern Europe, CIS states, southeast Asia and Middle East countries."
All the operations should be completed in the nearest future, he noted.
Meanwhile, U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, commenting in Washington on Wednesday on the latest transportation, described it as the next phase of the campaign intended to completely exclude the storage of highly enriched uranium at civil facilities and its getting into terrorists' hands.
Russia's Atomic Energy Ministry and Gosatomnadzor, the state-run nuclear watchdog, told Itar-Tass that "there were six cases of imports to Russian recycling companies of spent nuclear fuel from plants of Eastern Europe, which were built with Soviet assistance and under Soviet projects."
It is usual practice, adopted for all IAEA member states, Shingarev said, the countries that built nuclear power plants on the territory of other countries and supply fresh nuclear fuel for their reactors, "should import from them spent nuclear fuel for further storage and recycling."
2. U.S.-Russia Team Seizes Uranium At Bulgaria Plant
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Material Was Potent Enough for Bomb
MOSCOW, Dec. 23 -- An international team of nuclear specialists backed by armed security units swooped into a shuttered Bulgarian reactor and recovered 37 pounds of highly enriched uranium in a secretive operation intended to forestall nuclear terrorism, U.S. officials said Tuesday.
The elaborately planned mission, which was organized with the cooperation of Bulgarian authorities, removed nearly enough uranium to make a small nuclear bomb, the officials said. The material was sent by plane on Tuesday to a Russian facility where it will be converted into a form that cannot be used for weapons, they said.
It was the third time since last year that U.S. and Russian authorities have teamed up to retrieve highly enriched uranium from Soviet-era facilities in an effort to keep such material from falling into the hands of terrorists or rogue states. Experts worry that such caches of uranium scattered in obscure corners of the former Soviet Union and its satellite states represent one of the most vulnerable sources of fissile material for would-be bomb-makers.
"Proliferation of nuclear materials is a worldwide problem and requires a worldwide solution," Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said in a statement. "We must not allow terrorists and others with bad intentions to acquire deadly material, and the Department of Energy will continue doing its part."
U.S. authorities have begun stepping up such joint operations with the Russians. In August 2002, a team from the two countries retrieved 100 pounds of weapons-grade uranium from an aging reactor in Yugoslavia. The second seizure of uranium took place three months ago, when 30 pounds was removed from a facility in Romania.
"We hope that you'll be seeing this more frequently," Paul M. Longsworth, the Energy Department's deputy administrator for nuclear nonproliferation, said Tuesday. In conjunction with the Russians and the International Atomic Energy Agency, U.S. officials have developed a schedule to recover all Soviet-originated highly enriched uranium and return it to Russia by the end of 2005 for safekeeping and conversion, Longsworth said.
After last year's mission in Yugoslavia, the State Department compiled a list of 24 other foreign reactors that use weapons-grade nuclear fuel, some in old and poorly guarded facilities.
"We're certainly going in the right direction, although one might prefer speedier development," said Alexander Pikayev, a nuclear nonproliferation scholar at the Carnegie Moscow Center, a research institute here. "But it takes time. . . . Such problems cannot be solved overnight."
The complexity of the Bulgarian operation demonstrated the challenges involved. Officials focused on a Soviet-designed, two-megawatt research reactor built in 1959 at the Institute of Nuclear Research and Nuclear Energy in the capital, Sofia. The reactor was closed in 1989, and the nuclear fuel assemblies have been stored ever since.
An IAEA team, accompanied by U.S. and Russian nuclear engineers, removed seals from storage containers and verified the contents before the material was loaded into four special canisters provided by the Russian government. The U. S. government paid the $400,000 bill for the mission. The operation took 48 hours, and special units of the Bulgarian domestic police took responsibility for securing the facility and transporting the uranium to the airport at Gorna Oryahovitsa, about 100 miles northeast of Sofia.
The uranium taken from the Sofia facility was 36 percent enriched, which scientists consider usable in nuclear weapons but not the most potent form called weapons-grade, which refers to uranium enriched 90 percent or more. Still, because it has not been irradiated, officials said, the Bulgarian material would be particularly attractive to outlaw elements.
"It's quite useful to a terrorist," said Longsworth. "You can handle it without protection."
The uranium was flown aboard a Russian AN-12 cargo plane to Dimitrovgrad, in the Volga region of Ulyanovsk about 520 miles southeast of Moscow. A facility there, which is undergoing comprehensive upgrades due to be finished in the next couple of months, will blend down the uranium until it can no longer be used in a nuclear weapon, officials said. At that point, it could be sold for use in commercial nuclear power plants, officials said.
The Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy was closed Tuesday evening and no one answered telephone calls seeking comment. A spokeswoman at the Bulgarian Embassy in Washington said she was not able to discuss the operation.
1. Russia Pursues Programme Of Chemical Weapons Disposal
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MOSCOW, January 5 (Itar-Tass) - Liquidation of the first ten tonnes of the war gas lewisite has been finished at a plant for disposal of chemical weapons in the settlement of Gorny, Saratov region.
The deputy director of the regional information and analysis centre for safeguarding and destruction of chemical weapons, Igor Chistyakov, told Itar-Tass that foreign specialists monitor all operations at the Gorny plant.
He said the foreign experts rotate weekly watching technological and safety standards at the plant and in adjacent areas.
“All ecological parameters are normal,” Chistyakov said.
About 1,160 tonnes of Russia’s total 40,000 tonnes of chemical weapons, or three percent, were stored in Gorny.
The whole arsenal of yperite was destroyed and a technological line for lewisite disposal was launched at the Gorny plant at the end of the past year.
All lewisite and lewisite-yperite mixtures are to be liquidated by 2005.
Transportation to Gorny of war gases from Russia’s other arsenals is being considered.
Alexander Kharichev, an advisor to the chief of the governmental commission for chemical disarmament Sergei Kiriyenko, said “scientists and economists are modelling different variants of transportation with consideration for economic expediency and ecological safety”.
“Russia effectively fulfils its international obligations, and will fully liquidate its chemical weapons by the year 2012,” he said.
1. Russian Naval Source: K-159 to be Raised in 2005
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The ill-fated retired Russian nuclear submarine K-159, which sank in 204 metres during a towing operation last fall will be lifted in 2005, says a source in the Russian Navy, according to the Russian newspaper The Barents Observer.
The navy chief, Adm. Vladimir Kuroyedov, had said in September that the navy was tentatively planning to raise the submarine in August 2004. Kuroyedov said at the time that the stricken submarine posed no immediate radiation hazard, but that there was a danger the radiation level could increase.
Russian officials have said radiation levels remained normal in the sinking area near the entrance to Kola Bay, some 350 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle where Finland and Norway abut Russia. Indepenpendent analyses carried out buy Bellona in September confirmed this.
But environmental experts, including Bellona, have warned that the submarine's twin nuclear reactors could eventually leak deadly radiation, posing high risks of contamination in the area, which is located amid busy shipping routes and rich fishing grounds.
Planning of the now-2005 operation has started, the paper reported, citing an unidentified Naval source. The lifting will be complicated by the fact that the vessel sank in a location of high shipping traffic. Costs are estimated to $60m, the same as it cost to lift the Kursk submarine from 108 metres of water, which sank in 2000, killing all crew members aboard, the paper reported.
The cost figures for raising the K-159 reported in The Barents Observer are dubious given that the depth at which the K-159 lies is nearly twice that from which the Kursk was salvaged. Furthermore, the Russian government has only allocated $4.2m toward the salvage efffort, making the project seem even further out of reach.
Nine of the 10 crew members aboard the K-159 died when the boat sank —loaded with 800 kilograms of spent uranium fuel—while being towed from the Gremikha Naval Base to the Polyarny Shipyard on the northern Kola Peninsula for full dismantlement.
The Russian Navy blmed the K-159 incident on poor operational preparation and human error, which led to the firing of the head of the Gremikha Naval Base, Sergei Zhemchuzhnov and the suspension of the Northern Fleet 's commmander, Gennady Suchkov.
2. Court Session On K-159 Submarine Accident To Be Held Behind Closed Doors
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MOSCOW. Dec 25 (Interfax) - A January 12 court session to look into the sinking of the K-159 nuclear submarine will take place behind closed doors, a spokesman for the Northern Fleet military court told Interfax in a telephone interview on Thursday.
The spokesman said that the defendant, Admiral Gennady Suchkov, was relieved of duties as Northern Fleet commander following the incident in the Barents Sea in August.
"As the case materials contain information constituting a state secret, the case has been classified and the trial will take place behind closed doors," he said.
The K-159 submarine separated from a towboat while being transported to the town of Polyarny for disposal and sank, killing nine crewmembers. One sailor survived.
1. Azerbaijan, USA to Cooperate in WMD Non-Proliferation.
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BAKU, January 2 (Itar-Tass) -- An Azerbaijani-American intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction was signed in Baku on Friday evening, the Azerbaijani defense ministry press service reports.
The U.S. ambassador in Baku told the AzerTaj state news agency of Azerbaijan that the document stipulated $10 million in technical assistance to Azerbaijan. Baku will use the funds to reinforce the national border, develop infrastructure to detect weapons of mass destruction and related materials, and prevent storing and illegal shipments of weapons of mass destruction.
1. Does the Nuclear Thief Stand a Chance in Russia?
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The Moscow Kremlin is certainly guarded very well, but Russia's nuclear materials depots are guarded even better. "The nuclear thief does not stand a chance in Russia: it is nearly impossible to steal nuclear materials, let alone of weapons grade, such as plutonium or enriched uranium," Sergei Antipov, Deputy Atomic Energy Minister said.
But ten years ago there was a chance and a thief who used it: ten grammes of plutonium were stolen from a depot in Siberia in 1993. It takes at least ten kilogrammes to make a bomb, yet when the dangerous "bit" disappeared, all the concerned services were alerted and the stolen property was soon restored to its rightful place. 1993 was the peak year of social and economic destabilisation that swept the country after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. It turned out that a depot employee, who had not been paid for months, decided to sell the plutonium just to get something to live on.
This theft of weapons-grade materials went down as the ONLY one in Russia's 50-year nuclear history.
Like all other nuclear powers, Russia pledged to preclude the proliferation of nuclear technologies and materials, which must be registered and controlled as strictly as possible. Nikolai Shingarev, head of the PR department of the Atomic Energy Ministry, said, "All nuclear power engineering and nuclear-fuel facilities have strong physical protection systems. All nuclear and radiation dangerous facilities (about 50) are guarded by large groups of Interior Ministry Troops. A large amount of equipment and special monitoring cameras keep under surveillance the movement and actions of people on the guarded territory around the clock."
There are also protection measures against radiation terrorism, which is the use of radioactive materials to contaminate people. The nuclear industry has a strict system of registration and control of radioactive and nuclear materials. Russia stands very well in the IAEA statistics, where the ministry provides information about the disappearance and unwarranted handling of radioactive materials. Many more accidents, including the disappearance of radioactive materials, have happened in the USA.
The West mounted physical protection and defence measures at nuclear facilities after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York, while Russia did this before, when the Chechen war increased the terrorist threat and led to apartment blocks in Moscow and other cities being blown up. According to Mr Shingarev, "we continually modernise nuclear facilities' protection systems, employing the best specialists who had worked for the defence industry before conversion. They use the up-to-date, unique technologies to create security equipment for us."
Nuclear materials are controlled not only in storage but also during their transportation, meaning the delivery of fuel to nuclear power stations and return of fuel waste, the dispatch of fuel from scrapped submarines, and so on. The Atomic Energy Ministry has a Crisis Centre, whose satellites monitor the movement of radioactive cargoes across the country. Such cargoes are carried in special containers, mostly by railways and always catching the "green wave."
Every year up to 1,000 "nuclear trains" move across Russia. The containers with radioactive materials they carry are made at specialised factories and are supplied to "clients" only after extremely rigorous tests. They must remain intact after falling 9 metres onto a concrete floor, withstand direct fire from all kinds of weapons, and remain safe in a fire.
According to Atomic Energy Minister Alexander Rumyantsev, "The ministry's interaction with international organisations and foreign partners produces a considerable effect. The EU is financing several nuclear safety and waste disposal projects within the framework of the TACIS programme. Russia and the USA are working together to register, control and ensure physical protection of fissionable materials. US experts inspect related facilities in Russia and invariably praise the high standards of protection of nuclear facilities and materials."
1. Libya Presses U.S. to Move Quickly to End Sanctions
Patrick E. Tyler
New York Times
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TRIPOLI, Libya, Jan. 1 — Libya's prime minister said Thursday that the United States should act quickly to reward his country for abandoning its secret weapons programs. He warned that unless the United States lifted sanctions by May 12, Libya would not be bound to pay the remaining $6 million promised to each family of victims killed on Pan Am Flight 103.
The prime minister, Shukri Ghanim, in an interview, said that any decision by the Bush administration was strictly an "internal matter" for the United States, but that the deadlines and their consequences, made clear in the settlement with the Lockerbie families, were well known to all parties, including senior administration officials.
A quick lifting of American sanctions would allow American oil companies to return here this spring and pave the way for unfreezing $1 billion in assets that Libyan officials say are languishing in American banks.
Mr. Ghanim said his country would like to "accelerate to the maximum" the dismantling of its nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs so that President Bush would be able to tell Congress in the next few months that the Libyan leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, had fully and transparently destroyed or surrendered all his illicit weapons.
In Washington, a State Department spokesman said he could not comment on the Libyan prime minister's comments, but quoting Mr. Bush in December, he said that Libya's recent agreement to dismantle its banned weapons and compensate Lockerbie bombing victims opened the door to the possibility of improving relations, including the lifting of sanctions.
"We have indicated to the Libyans that we are prepared to talk about the remaining bilateral sanctions that apply," he said.
Last month, when Libya agreed to dismantle its weapons program, administration officials said American sanctions would not be lifted until Libya began to implement its pledge and took further unspecified actions leading to its no longer being identified as a state that sponsors terrorism.
The families of the 270 people killed when Libyan terrorists blew up the jet over Lockerbie, Scotland, have been paid $4 million each under the agreement signed last September that led the United Nations to lift its sanctions. In the settlement, Libya insisted on a stipulation that the families would not receive the full $10 million pledged unless the United States lifted sanctions and removed Libya from the list of states supporting terrorism within eight months. After May 12, the funds in escrow would be returned to the Libyan government, Libyan and Western officials said.
"The agreement says that eight months after the signing, if American sanctions are not removed, then the additional $6 million for each family of victims will not be paid," Mr. Ghanim said. "So of course," he said, referring to a lifting of sanctions, "this would be for the good of the families of the victims, but we will leave this to the decision of the Americans."
By raising the prospect of a deadline that, if broken, would deprive Lockerbie families of more than half the compensation they were promised, Mr. Ghanim injected a note of both urgency and political pressure into the immediate steps ahead.
He said publicly for the first time on Thursday that Libya would like to be paid for turning over certain nuclear materials, just as he understands some former Soviet states have been compensated for cooperating with such removals.
The prime minister, a leading reformer among Colonel Qaddafi's advisers, spoke in his large new office near the palm-studded waterfront of Tripoli's ancient harbor. A large portrait of Colonel Qaddafi looks out over the carpeted expanse of his work area. Mr. Ghanim, 61, spoke in the English that he perfected in the Boston area while he completed doctoral studies at The Fletcher School at Tufts University.
The prime minister's emphasis on the timing for an American response to Colonel Qaddafi's proclamation on Dec. 10 is the first indication that a deadline for an American response is hanging over the complicated process of dismantling the Libyan arsenal. It comes at a time when some senior Bush administration officials have questioned the ability of the International Atomic Energy Agency led by Mohamed ElBaradei to supervise the removal or destruction of Libyan weapons.
The prime minister said that as far as Libya was concerned, Dr. ElBaradei was in charge of the disarmament process, along with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. A senior Bush administration official, however, said that American and British intelligence officials, plus nuclear experts from the Pentagon, the Department of Energy and American nuclear laboratories, would arrive here this month to effectively take charge of the disarmament.
The senior official characterized Dr. ElBaradei's visit here this week as a "badly advised" public relations exercise at a time when the United States Central Intelligence Agency and Britain's MI6 spy agency were developing strong bonds with Libya's military and intelligence chiefs.
"We want to have more conversations in private with the Libyans before doing anything in public," the senior official said this week.
"Libya itself is looking for help from the United States to make its declaration" to the chemical weapons agency, "and our teams of people from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, the Department of Energy and the national labs are going to help the Libyans do the bulk of the work," the official added.
"ElBaradei has got a minuscule percentage of the knowledge" about the full assortment of Libya's illicit weapons programs, the official said, and, therefore, "he has a role, but only with the technical aspects" of verifying the dismantling of the Libyan nuclear program.
A six-member team of nuclear inspectors Dr. ElBaradei left behind declined to comment on their role. They left the country Thursday.
One Western ambassador here called the dispute over who is in charge "unhelpful," but it remains unclear how the disarmament will proceed, officials said.
One Western official pointed out that while Dr. ElBaradei's group was responsible for nuclear weapons-related material, chemical weapons removal falls under a different treaty organization, and no international body has clearcut jurisdiction over Libya's long-range missiles and biological weapons.
A large amount of chemical precursors and lethal chemical agents will have to be destroyed, officials said, but it was not immediately clear where they would be shipped for destruction.
Western diplomats here confirmed that the May 12 deadline was a prominent feature of the negotiations along with a Libyan expectation that Washington would be honor bound to reward Colonel Qaddafi not only for his declaration, but also for the steps he is taking to allow American, British and United Nations inspectors to effectively assume authority over his secret weapons programs.
"As the Libyan government takes these essential steps and demonstrates its seriousness, its good faith will be returned," Mr. Bush said on Dec. 19. "Libya can regain a secure and respected place among the nations, and over time achieve far better relations with the United States."
Libya's expectation for quick action could complicate the Bush administration's plans, Western officials here said. On the one hand, Washington is seeking to reward Colonel Qaddafi for surrendering his programs to develop illegal weapons, but on the other hand the administration must verify that all the weapons are accounted for under a monitoring program that will allow continuous access to any suspect site.
2. A Nuclear Headache: What if the Radicals Oust Musharraf?
David E. Sanger and Thom Shanker
New York Times
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CRAWFORD, Tex., Dec. 29 — Two recent assassination attempts against Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, have renewed concern in the Bush administration over both the stability of a critical ally and the security of its nuclear weapons if General Musharraf were killed or removed from office.
Administration officials would not discuss their contingency plans for Pakistan, but several said the White House was revisiting an effort begun just after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to help Pakistan improve the security of its nuclear arsenal and to prevent Al Qaeda or extremists within the Pakistani military or intelligence services from gaining access to the country's weapons and fissile material.
"It's what we don't know that worries us," said a senior administration official, "including the critical question of how much fissile material Pakistan now holds — and where it holds it."
Three years ago, American officials estimated that Pakistan had enough highly enriched uranium to manufacture 40 nuclear weapons, and it is assumed that the figure has grown.
"It's one of the things that we're concerned about — nuclear materials or weapons-related information falling into the hands of terrorists or states who harbor them — irrespective of what country we're talking about," a State Department official said Monday. "We have discussed these concerns with Pakistan, and we continue to do so. Pakistan has taken those concerns very seriously."
Under both President Clinton and President Bush, the Pentagon has analyzed whether American forces could seize or secure Pakistan's nuclear arsenal if it appeared likely to fall into the hands of terrorists or their sympathizers, part of a broad effort at planning for nuclear emergencies around the world.
But a number of current and former administration officials said they had concluded that it was impossible to be certain where all of Pakistan's nuclear materials and weapons components were stored.
One Pentagon official said any raid by the American military to secure Pakistan's nuclear arsenal during a period of chaos would be "an extremely difficult and highly risky venture." Other administration officials termed it simply impossible.
Officials said they were relatively confident that even if General Musharraf lost power or was killed, Pakistan has established some fairly reliable nuclear safeguards. Nuclear warheads, triggering devices and the delivery systems for the weapons are all stored separately; thus, it would be difficult to steal a complete weapon, according to administration officials and academic analysts.
The degree to which the United States may have aided in that process is a secret, in part because the Bush administration does not want to worsen anti-American sentiment in Pakistan. But there are other reasons, administration and Pentagon officials say.
Pakistan has not signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and so the United States is prohibited from sharing certain technology. But two years ago a senior American official said the Bush administation would not let those rules be an impediment to improving the safety of the Pakistani arsenal.
Still, the computerized, encoded nuclear safeguards are among the United States' most prized secrets, and military officials fear they could pass through Pakistan's hands to adversaries. Pakistan, too, might reject an offer of the safeguard technology because it would have to share its own nuclear design secrets with the United States to create a compatible system.
Shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks, George Tenet, the director of central intelligence, and Richard Armitage, the deputy secretary of state, visited Pakistan and raised the delicate issue. On Monday, officials declined to describe the results of those discussions.
But administration officials appear less concerned that General Musharraf would lose control over actual weapons than over highly enriched uranium. Terrorists in possession of bomb fuel, even without the triggering devices needed to produce a nuclear explosion, could build a "dirty bomb" that spews radioactive material, or could attempt to engineer a crude nuclear device.
Documents seized after the invasion of Afghanistan suggested that while Al Qaeda sought to develop a nuclear weapon, it was not close to doing so. But Pakistan's scientific community has that ability, and much of the American concern centers on the issue of whether General Musharraf has the loyalty of his nuclear scientists.
"When people talk about the safety and security of Pakistan's nuclear programs, they often focus on facilities and weapons and whether, if you have a coup or the death of Musharraf, these facilities come under some kind of hostile control," said Mahnaz Ispahani of the Council on Foreign Relations. "But an equal threat is the nature of these scientists, and what their connections are, and how well they are screened and monitored."
George Perkovich of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace is among those who argue that Pakistan's self-interest is reason for confidence in the security of its nuclear arsenal. "You have an organization that runs the country that would be quite obsessive about maintaining control over these weapons," he said. "They are the crown jewels, the ultimate deterrent and source of pride and prowess."
That calculation changes, experts warn, should Pakistan, fearing war, assemble the weapons and transport them about the country for possible use. And the recent attacks raise a fresh set of concerns.
"It's very unsettling what these assassination attempts imply, that the inner security circle for Musharraf has been breached," said Gaurav Kampani of the Center for Nonproliferation Studies. "If security for the president, for the head of the Pakistani Army, cannot be guaranteed, what guarantee is there that nuclear assets and missiles and so forth are safe?"
1. Iran, Russia Discuss Mutual Peaceful Nuclear Energy Programs
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Moscow, Jan 5, IRNA -- Iran`s Ambassador to Russia Gholam-Reza Shafei and the Russian Minister of Atomic Energy Alexander Rumyantsev in a meeting on Monday discussed bilateral cooperation in peaceful atomic energy projects.
In the meeting, Rumyantsev underlined that to expedite the implementation of Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant he will hold further talks with the contractor in charge.
He added that to get briefed on the trend of the ongoing operations to the effect he will soon visit Tehran to discuss the issue with relevant Iranian authorities.
The minister also expressed grief over Bam killer quake which caused thousands of deaths and injuries and condoled with the Iranian nation and government.
For his part, Shafei hoped that Rumyantsev`s visit will help the project on Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant gain further momentum.
He also hoped for growing cooperation in the field of atomic energy between Iran and Russia would be be materialized during the upcoming visit.
The diplomat thanked the sympathies of the Russian government and nation as well as their relief packages donated to the Bam quake victims shortly after the catastrophe.
A spokesman of Russia`s Ministry of Atomic Energy had earlier declared that Rumyantsev is scheduled to visit Tehran in February.
2. Nuclear Power Plant Site In Iran Not Affected By Earthquake
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MOSCOW , December 26 (Itar-Tass) - The nuclear power plant constructed with Russia’s assistance in Bushehr, southern Iran, has not been affected by the earthquake that erupted in the southeast of the country early on Friday, a senior official of Atomstroieksport company, Vladimir Toroshchilov, said.
According to preliminary information, the quake with a magnitude of 6.3 to 6.7 on the Richter scale killed up to 40,000 people in the area of the city of Bam.
Totoshilov told Itar-Tass that “constructors from Russia and several CIS countries, who together with families number 1,300 people, are working and living in a normal regime”.
Reports from the construction site to the company’s head office in Moscow said “strong tremors were not felt in the area of the city of Bushehr”.
Meanwhile, Atomstroieksport vice-president Konstantin Kuranov told Itar-Tass on Friday that “Russian organizations design facilities of nuclear power plants for seismically hazardous areas that are able to withstand tremors with a magnitude of 9”.
“The building of the energy unit at the nuclear power plant in Bushehr has been designed even with a certain margin” of strength, Kuranov said.
He said installation of equipment, reactor control and safety systems was continuing the turbine room of the Bushehr plant.
Kuranov stressed that the Bushehr construction site is located 1,200 kilometres from Tehran in the south of the country and about 500 kilometres fork the epicentre of the earthquake”.
3. Iran-IAEA Accord Opens Up New Prospects For Relations With Russia
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MOSCOW, December 11 (Itar-Tass) - The signing by Iran of a supplementary protocol with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) opens up new prospects for the development of Russian-Iranian relations, Russian deputy foreign minister Yuri Fedotov said.
According to him, “The Iranian eldership has made an important step by signing the supplementary protocol to the Agreement on guarantees with the IAEA. “It was a courageous decision, which we welcome,” the senior diplomat said in an interview with Qatar’s state television corporation. “We are no expecting Iran to cooperate with the IAEA in the fulfillment of the provisions of the supplementary protocol.”
If it comes to be, if the process of implementation of the provisions of the supplementary protocol proceeds effectively, “any apprehensions and suspicions related to the Iranian nuclear programs will prove to be groundless,” Yuri Fedotov said.
In this way, “Iran will be able to participate in its full right in the multilateral cooperation in all fields,” the Russian deputy foreign minister said, “ which, in turn, provide additional prerequisites for the development of our relations with Iran.”
MOSCOW, January 6, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - Russia worked out a system of planetary defense, which can challenge threats from the space.
The creators of the system are specialists from Lavochkin research-and-production enterprise, Institute of Applied Astronomy of Russian Academy of Sciences disclosed, commenting on the recent news on falling of large meteorites in Spain.
According to the RIA Novosti interlocutor, all the provisions of the planetary defense program have been worked out. "Russia has nuclear stock and rocket-space vehicles, capable of eliminating such objects or changing their flight course," the agency's interlocutor said.
Meanwhile, experts are aware that the system of the planetary defense exists only on papers and appeal to the world scientific society to study thoroughly the problem of the asteroid danger.
According to Russian specialists, approximately 400 asteroids and 30 comets will pose danger to the Earth in the future. "Their orbits, physical parameters and energy rates are listed in the catalogue of the Institute of Applied Astronomy of Russian Academy of Sciences in the scientific monograph "Asteroids and Comets Approaching the Earth", the Institute of Applied Astronomy of Russian Academy of Sciences disclosed.
2. Russian Space Forces To Upgrade Defense Capability In 2004
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MOSCOW, January 5 (Itar-Tass) - The space forces will have to make a substantive contribution to enhancing Russia’s defense capability in 2004, a source in the press service of the forces told Itar-Tass on Monday.
Among the main tasks for the space forces to accomplish this year are the replenishment of the orbital grouping of military spacecraft in orbit and the input to the launches of new spacecraft in accordance with the federal space program.
The main efforts will focus on the extension of the technical resource of the available systems, as well as the preparation of a number of new systems and complexes for commissioning.
Thus the flight tests of the Rokot space missile system will continue at Plesetsk cosmodrome and the testing of the Soyuz-2 carrier rocket will begin there.
In addition, work will intensify at the northern space center to prepare for the testing of the space missile complex Angara that is due to begin in the early 2005.
Multi-purpose space programs will be implemented at Russia’s leading launch site at Baikonur in 2004. These programs include launches of military and dual- purpose spacecraft.
Work to develop the light Strela (Arrow) space missile system is expected to run to completion at the Svobodny cosmodrome in the Russian Far East. Its first flight tests are due to take place there too.
Russia formally deployed six new Topol-M long-range ballistic missiles at the Tatishchevo missile base in the Saratov region Dec. 21, according to the Associated Press (see GSN, Dec. 11).
Each of the missiles has been armed with a single nuclear warhead, but there are plans to load three individually targeted warheads on each missile, according to AP.
“This is the most advanced state-of-the-art missile in the world,” Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said in remarks broadcast by Russian television stations Monday. “Only such weapons can ensure and guarantee our sovereignty and security and make any attempts to put military pressure on Russia absolutely senseless,” he added.
Col.-Gen. Nikolai Solovtsov, head of the Russian Strategic Missile Forces, said that a mobile version of the Topol-M missile is expected to be operational next year (Associated Press/CNN.com, Dec. 22).
Solovtsov also said earlier this month that the Strategic Missile Forces plan to conduct 10 ICBM training launches next year. The purpose of the launches is to evaluate the dependability of Russian missiles and to prolong their service lives, he said.
In addition, Solovtsov said that the 10-warhead SS-18 ICBM would remain in service for another 10 to 15 years (ITAR-Tass, Dec. 17).
4. Ballistic Missile Blasts Off From Russian Missile Submarine
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MOSCOW, DECEMBER 26. /RIA NOVOSTI CORRESPONDENT ALEXEI BEREZIN/ -- The Yekaterinburg nuclear missile submarine of Russia's North fleet has made an underwater launch of a ballistic missile, aide to the commander-in-chief of the navy Igor Dygalo, Captain 1st Rank, said to journalists on Friday.
The missile has been launched from the Barents sea to check combat readiness of the marine strategic nuclear forces and in line with the plan of combat training, said Dygalo.
The warhead has hit the target on the Kura proving ground near Kamchatka peninsula in the Russian Far Eastern region.
On December 25, at one of its last sessions in 2003, the government examined and approved a State Defence Order programme for 2004. This, as it is said in the defence industry, is a kind of sensation in the outgoing year. Never before in the past ten years has this been done.
Usually, a state defence order was agreed and approved at best by April-May of the next year. Money for its implementation was not allocated before June-July, and all work to develop new prototypes of arms and combat equipment, to test them and supply to troops was, as a rule, a rush job. What is more, even such "acceleration" did not make it possible to spend all the money provided for by the armaments programme.
Beginning with 2004, Deputy Economic Development and Trade Minister Colonel-General Vladislav Putilin said to this RIA Novosti military analyst, the situation is to change cardinally. A government resolution on a state defence order will see the light of day in 2003, and in the same year newly budgeted sums will be assigned to it, which is no less and no more than 341.2 billion roubles - 14 per cent of the country's entire budget. Another distinctive feature is that contracts to purchase new equipment, do research and development work, repair and upgrade armaments, and conduct capital construction in the interests of the armed forces will be concluded by the Defence Ministry and other law enforcement bodies in advance - two to three months before a state defence order is approved. True, not for the entire sum, but only for 70 per cent of its volume. But in any case, this approach enables both generals and industrial managers to work according to schedule, with an eye to the future - looking at least three years ahead, during which time no one is going to change orders for new and highly sophisticated military equipment. Its list, featuring the prototypes and units, says the deputy minister, has already been approved at a session of the military-industrial commission. These prototypes are known to number more than two hundred, with 98 of them given top priority. They are spacecraft and rockets for military and civilian use in outer space, GLONAS navigation and information systems, with two and a half times more money to be spent on them than in the previous year, Topol-M strategic missile systems - not only of silo but also of mobile basing - missiles for Project 955 Borei Class nuclear submarines of the fourth generation, as well as orders for the submarine itself, for an advanced aviation system for front-line aviation, the Mi-28N strike helicopter capable of hitting targets both by day and night, and the new Iskander theatre missile system for ground troops. It is also planned to purchase 14 T-90 tanks, which have not been supplied to the Russian army in recent years.
The state defence order also has funds for the modernisation of the Su-24 and Su-25 assault planes, which are badly needed today in Chechnya, for the development of strategic long-range aviation (Tu-160 and Tu-95MS bombers), long-range MiG-31 interceptor fighters, high precision means of destruction, including airborne ones, and for intelligence, targeting and communications facilities. Lastly, the soldier's Barmitsa individual outfit will not be purchased for troops, but about 50 million roubles has been earmarked to continue its development.
All the money allocated for these purposes has been distributed to the last rouble, says the deputy minister. So in 2004, and in the subsequent years, there is a good chance that the state defence order will be fulfilled fully and in time.
True, far from all defence plant managers share Putilin's optimism. They are undoubtedly pleased that the state defence order has been approved so early (although this was done merely in time, by major reckoning). But from previous experience they are not sure that the money would be coming to the producers regularly. This has never been the case over recent years, so the defence industry is not accustomed to believing such promises, although it would very much like to. The main thing most regretted in the defence sector is that the state defence order does not take into account unplanned price growth. Not only for electricity and raw materials, but also for components. How can the state defence order be carried out in such conditions? The government does not have a simple and straightforward answer to these questions.
Also, there are inter-branch contradictions. Far from all defence enterprises have got united into holdings. Many of them - especially aircraft manufacturing and aircraft repair plants belonging to the air force - are laying claim to all state defence order, trying to survive, to keep skilled personnel and find their niche in the market economy. The top brass of the industry, and of fighting services, anxious not to offend anyone and not to lose a unique production base, spread budget money thin, with the result that troops fail to get upgraded aircraft, and new combat equipment, because there was not enough money for either.
A way out of this situation, the government thinks, is to revive military-technical commissions, which used to exist in Soviet times under the Soviet Communist Party Central Committee and the USSR Council of Ministers. The decisions they took with the participation of leading defence specialists, branch heads, and merited generals, became a kind of law. Those commissions' main achievement remained continuity and a comprehensive approach to the development of one or another type of weapon and military equipment, the ability to make no mistakes in planning ahead, and create appropriate research and development and material-technical facilities.
To revive such commissions, which will naturally operate on new principles, to create a reliable system of defence industry management based on the market principles of the economy with elements of state regulation, to set up economic and tax preferences for branches and enterprises engaged in ensuring the country's defence - these steps, according to military experts, will help revitalize the Russian defence industry.
The 2004 state defence order, approved by the government in the last days of the outgoing year, does not solve all these problems, but brings the country and the army as close as possible to such objectives.
Russia's Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov said in late December 2003 that he would inform President Vladimir Putin about specific aspects of developing the country's strategic nuclear forces in 2004 early next year. "We intend to streamline all strategic nuclear forces still further, enhancing the quality and efficiency of our nuclear triad, first and foremost," Ivanov told a traditional conference involving the President and Government members.
As far as national pride is concerned, the Minister's statement makes one quite optimistic. But how will the implementation of these plans influence global strategic stability?
First of all, it should be noted that Russia's decision to enhance its nuclear potential in the obtaining military-political situation is quite an entirely justified and essential step. The decision is motivated by specific US plans to deploy new national missile defence system's first echelon in late 2004.
The shield's weapons and infrastructure components are to be sited in the United States, as well as in Western Europe, Scandinavia and South Europe, i.e. Great Britain, Norway and Hungary, while other components will be based in Japan and Israel.
Moreover, the United States is now establishing a joint global data-exchange and reconnaissance network that will feature satellite clusters.
The US Administration's special memorandum, which was published in early May 2003 and deals with the national ABM (anti-ballistic missile policy), notes that the projected system should shield the United States and their allies from accidental missile launches, as well as single terrorist-launched missiles. This system cannot threaten the security of other countries, including Russia, the document reads.
However, Alexei Arbatov, director of the Centre of Political and Military Forecasts (Russian Academy of Sciences), believes that the advanced US ABM system is, in reality, spearheaded against Russia and China because it will apparently shield the entire US territory. This was previously forbidden by article 1 of the 1972 Soviet-US ABM Treaty. Washington itself admits that Russia and China are just about the only countries that could launch a hypothetical nuclear strike against North America in the coming decades.
The Russian leadership has repeatedly stated that it will opt for an asymmetrical response, if the United States goes ahead with its ABM programme. In other words, Russia does not intend to deploy new ABM-system elements immediately. On the contrary, Moscow will attach priority to strategic offensive arms, enhancing their anti-ABM capabilities all the same, while new combat options will also be chosen. Moreover, this country will prepare to conduct active operations against the most vulnerable "enemy" ABM-system components to neutralise them.
Sergei Ivanov and Vladimir Putin will discuss all these aspects in early 2004.
Strategic offensive and defensive arms are inter-dependent, constituting an integral system of strategic arms. It is no coincidence that the SALT-I Treaty and the ABM Treaty were both signed on May 26, 1972. Russia continues to believe that the ABM Treaty considerably slowed down the arms race and enhanced strategic stability. This document had great significance because any potential aggressor, which lacked a territorial ABM system, was bound to suffer grievously as a result of a retaliatory, albeit limited, nuclear strike. Consequently, anyone, who launched first, was going to die second. This was the gist of the MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction) concept, which minimised the chances of an all-out nuclear war.
Russia will now have to rely on the retaliatoryike concept more actively than before, while it will also have to maintain considerable part of its nuclear forces in a state of permanent readiness. These forced measures will not enhance nuclear security, nor will they rule out any accidental nuclear conflict.
It is an open secret that no country can build a safe world for itself to the detriment of other countries. This was proved by the horrendous September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. Consequently, Russia and the United States must launch a constructive dialogue, discussing strategic-stability issues in line with the START-ABM format.
This is the only way to prevent another round of the arms race and to cut the available nuclear arsenals to reasonable levels.
SAROV (Nizhny Novgorod region), December 29 (Itar-Tass) -- Russian scientists at the Federal Nuclear Centre in Sarovtry to light an artificial sun on the earth.
The director of the Russian Research Institute of Experimental Physics, Viktor Selemir, told Itar-Tass on Monday that by the end of this year scientists had managed to produce with the help of explosions at one of research sites in Sarov a “magnetic field that is 20 million times stronger that the magnetic field of our globe”.
Selemir said “in future, superstrong magnetic fields will allow obtaining a controlled thermonuclear reaction that will become an inexhaustible and ecologically pure source of energy”.
“The sun is a huge thermonuclear reactor. To “light” a hand-made sun, it is necessary to compress plasma heated to several millions of degrees with a magnetic field in a very bried period of time measuring tens of nanoseconds – billionth fractions of a second,” Selemir explained.
As result of conversion of mechanical energy to thermal, plasma heats to 100 million degrees.
The time of compression that the scientists have achieved so far is only five microseconds.
Researchers are going to speed up the process at a new facility that is being designed in Sarov.
They are sure that thermonuclear electric stations will be a main source of energy on the earth in the future.
“Hydrogen isotopes, reserves of which in the World Ocean are unlimited, will be used at them as fuel,” Selemir said.
1. Russia’s Atomic Energy Minister Set The Guidelines For 2004
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Russia’s Minister for Atomic Energy Alexander Rumyantsev has laid down the guidelines of the ministry’s activities in 2004, the RF Government Information Department reported. They will be the preservation and development of the scientific and technological potential, industrial and test basis indispensable for further security and reliability of nuclear weapons; increase of nuclear power generation through a higher capacity factor and launch of new power units; continuation of the construction of N-plants in Iran, India and China, reaching first criticality and commissioning at the Tianwan-1.
The minister also pointed out the first criticality and start of commercial operation at Kalinin-3 to be completed in 2004, further construction work at high preparedness power units, such as Kursk-5, Volgodonsk-2, Balakovo-5, Beloyarsk-4, modernization and lifespan extension of power units at the Kola NPP and the Leningrad NPP; activities aimed to create long-term dry spent fuel storages, increase exports of nuclear fuel and nuclear technologies; further disposal of scrapped nuke-subs, continuing disposition of surplus weapons-grade nuclear materials.
Concerning the international activities Mr. Rumyantsev said it would be a priority for Minatom of Russia to participate in large scale international projects in the sphere of advanced reactor and nuclear technologies related to the energy security of the sustainable development of the mankind (ITER, INPRO, GT-MHR); further implementation of Russian and international projects regarding the conversion of defense enterprises aimed to launch high-tech and science-intensive production for civil purposes; continuation of basic and applied research work in order to develop nuclear power generation and fortify the defense capabilities.
2. V. Asmolov: Making Pans is Not the Conversion, It’s Wasting Time and Money
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A lacking of or underfinancing is one of the major constraining factors for development of the national nuclear power, because there are the political will, which has been declared for many times, to pursue it, and technological bases. Moreover, the public opinion in Russia is more or less positive but owing to the amorphism rather than effective work. Finance is an everlasting problem and it appears hard to resolve so far. This topic started Nuclear.Ru’s interview with Vladimir ASMOLOV, the Deputy Minister of the Russian Federation of Atomic Energy, who attended the recently held conference “Small Power Generation-2003”.
Nuclear.Ru: The design of nuclear heat and electricity generating plant basing on the floating power unit in Severodvinsk has passed the State expert review, and the declarations of intent regarding the sites to build the floating nuclear power plant (FNPP) in Vilyuchinsk (Kamchatka) and Pevek (Chukotka) have been signed. However, addressing the conference you noted that the stumbling block is finance – the investments are necessary to implement the project. How to attract them?
V. Asmolov: In my view, there are several options. The today’s state regulation rules out the private capital. However, there is a lot of examples in the world where nuclear power is private but there are other examples, like France’s, where nuclear power, similarly to Russia, is state-owned. But the level of capital is different there. Therefore, in our conditions we should have, so to say, combined opportunities. Let’s assume that the present owner of FNPP design is Rosenergoatom Concern that is a state-owned enterprise with the state-owned capital. For example, if the Concern were to take credits from private banks, investors at a certain interest rate and if there were a mechanism of paying these interests, this would have been a financing options. The current state-imposed mechanism does not allow the Concern to pay the interests out of the public funds. For instance, out of the state investments, which will be slowcoming and delayed. Or pay for the interests with heat and electricity generated by FNPP. In other words, there are various ways but the interest payment mechanism should be worked out first. These issues are under discussion now. And the small power generation is the best example for working out such mechanism because investments aren’t large. It’s not a 1000-megawatt power unit that costs over billion dollars. The amount is orders lower in the small power generation.
One more option is to make the small power generation private. Say, amend the law “On the Use of Atomic Energy” first, which prohibits floating. Nuclear power is a hi-tech product. Nuclear fuel has one cogent advantage that is its super-concentrated energy constituent. But dialectics states that if there is an advantage, look for a disadvantage. So the disadvantage is operational safety. Therefore, any nuclear power, even the smallest power generation, should be subject to the laws, which cover the large power generation – the ensured safety. In our case the ensured safety is associated with the state ownership of property. There is a term “safety culture” which was devised by the IAEA after Chernobyl accident. Culture is an element of the superstructure, which includes everything: quality assurance program at all stages, quality of personnel training, quality of equipment, quality of operation, quality of decommissioning, etc. We have come to people with nuclear power, we have brought its benefits and we must leave a green grass after we’ll have departed.
Nuclear.Ru: It appears that this way – the amendment of the law “On the Use of Atomic Energy” - is longer and difficult than the one you named first?
V. Asmolov: Not exactly. This law was adopted in a certain historical period of development. It was our first law. Before that we had only bylaws, which we – atomic community – treated as laws.
Nuclear.Ru: So, you think that it is necessary to float, at least, small power generation first?
V. Asmolov: Yes, we won’t do without it. It’s small power, however, we need much. At the conference Bilibino NDHP was mentioned. I remember perfectly well how it was constructed: I participated in its construction in summer 1971 within a group of young engineers from Kurchatov Institute and Obninsk IPPE. At that time there was a diesel-based boiler, which supplied the city of Bilibino and - the main thing – the fields. The cost of electricity was 21 kopeks per kWh, while in Moscow it was 4 kopeks. And these 21 kopeks was self-cost, and in Moscow the self-cost was 1.5 kopeks – the population paid 4 kopeks. But look, the closest place the boiler oil could be brought from was 200 kilometers away and the road could be used only in winter. If you didn’t bring necessary amount of oil in winter, the boiler would stop. So they built Bilibino NDHP with four 12-megawatt units. This is small power generation. The plant has been operating for 30 years already without a single accident. It was a super-modern technology at that time. Today the critical path is economy rather than technology. Today you just voice a possibility to implement, and our institutes will come up with a pile of projects right away!
Nuclear.Ru: Is there a possibility to attract foreign investments?
V. Asmolov: Certainly, yes, there is. Indonesia and South Korea are showing interest but it is at the level of intents so far.
Nuclear.Ru: What about China?
V. Asmolov: China is a country with enormous population. Considering China’s coastal regions where the floating nuclear plants can be used, there are cities where millions live. Such heat and energy source will be insufficient to them. Therefore, China implements its own nuclear power development program. They will call for tenders where we will participate. Besides, French, Americans and Japanese will take part too. On December 17 we presented our capabilities at new sites. Two nuclear power units are being built to our designs. It is highly likely that we will construct two more units at the same site.
Nuclear.Ru: What type of reactor you are going to present in China, the same as was for Finland?
V. Asmolov: We plan to present two types of 1000-megawatt reactors. I’m certain, these two will merge in the coming two years to become a kind of a united design in Russia. But some difference in approached should be overcome for this to happen. In both designs the reactor installation is nearly the same and the difference is negligible. These two units - VVER-92 and VVER-91/99, which was offered for the Finnish tender – super-advanced technologies. If we could merge them, we will come up with a perfect state-of-the-art nuclear power unit, which will be competitive at any tender. Some words about VVER-640 that is of medium power capacity. We think, such installation would be of great interest for countries and regions, like the northern regions of China, where the grids are poorly developed and 1000-megawatt plants cannot be accommodated by them. And finally, we presented VVER-1500, but for another purpose. We suggested China to jointly complete the design development. These are the foreign investments. This is because neither Minatom nor Rosenergoatom have money to develop the design as it should be developed.
Nuclear.Ru: Coming back to the foreign cooperation as regards the implementation of the floating NPP design, what are the main terms and conditions for investments?
V. Asmolov: We must build a reference nuclear power unit in Russia. This is the customer’s condition. Personally, I believe that even five years ago there was an opportunity to build this KLT-40S in Severodvinsk. We have lingered for five years passing through all authorities, peer reviews…. Certainly, this is very important and necessary. But the detailed design was available five years ago.
Nuclear.Ru: Could you tell the specific dates of Severodvinsk project implementation?
V. Asmolov: There are concrete plans. I may sound optimist but I think it can be done by 2010, still the wish is to have it earlier.
Nuclear.Ru: Do you have other small power generation projects and what are their implementation prospects?
V. Asmolov: There is a design of absolutely safe nuclear power plant, so-called “unattended plant”. Its prototype has been in operation for fifteen years already in Kurchatov Institute. This is Gamma facility, the plant’s name is Elena. This is already a “hi-tech”, it’s not a pool-type reactor but thermal emission converters. It’s perfect in terms of physics. This is a self-controlled facility, which is operated without personnel at all. The problem is who would wish to have it. Elena can be built in a settlement, a village. But it is not a coal-fired boiler, it’s a nuclear power plant, a hi-tech kind of thing. It’s more expensive to build because the capital costs in nuclear power are higher as compared with “fossil” plants but the fuel constituent is much lower. It’s because safety is treated differently in case of nuclear. And when you construct a nuclear plant you always think how to decommission it, dismantle, dispose of… when the time comes.
NIKIET has interesting developments, for instance, the reactor installation UNITERM. There are very good designs of smaller power facilities – not 70 megawatt but 300-megawatt one. Recently we were reviewing a conceptual design done by OKBM named after Afrikantov (Nizhni Novgorod) – VBER-300. I think it’s a perfect facility in terms of safety and adaptability for manufacture. In other words, at present we are not lacking of engineering offers as regards sound power units of small and medium capacity. Constraints are on the other side: before offering a design for export we must build a reference power plant in this country first. This is the requirement of nearly all tenders. But to build it here we need money, money and again money. For example, to build KLT-40 reactor-based NDHP of small power capacity would cost USD 150 million.
Nuclear.Ru: Yes, we have a lot of interesting designs, plenty of wonderful specialists. But Nuclear.Ru readers often express an opinion that the industry’s scientific potential is not kept and developed, that cadre are being lost due to the conversion and, in turn, there is no an opportunity for them to transfer the experience. What would you say to that?
V. Asmolov: Let’s come back as far as twenty years – to mid-1980s. What did we have that time while training the personnel, setting the institutes, etc.? We had an overambitious program of nuclear power development in the USSR. According to different estimates we were to approach 100-150 gigawatt of installed capacity. And we were prepared to do it as in terms of science as in terms of manufacturing plants and reactor pressure vessel fabrication technologies. Atommash had been built, along with large-scale turbine manufacturing capacities. But then came Chernobyl in 1986 … So, what Chernobyl is? As Anatoli Petrovich Alexandrov said once, “this is my life’s tragedy”. In fact, Chernobyl was all our lives’ tragedy. Civil reactors do not explode, they cannot explode. This is not a theorem, it’s the axiom. But this one exploded. It showed the bomb properties. When we were thoroughly finding out the cause of what had happened, it was safety culture that had caused the thing. Certainly, there were deficiencies in reactor physics. We thought – and psychologically it was absolutely correct – that the maximum hazard was the maximum reactor power. This reactor wouldn’t have ever exploded at nominal power; it was absolutely safe at maximum load. But it was 10% of nominal power that turned out to be the most dangerous level.
The reactor “lives” at this power either during start-up or shutdown, i.e. during a very short period. But this fatal experiment was carried out exactly at that power level! It featured everything: human factor, a wish of the operator – high-class professional engineer – to demonstrate his skills, to compete with the reactor. Because the reactor had been shutdown before the experiment. It couldn’t be brought back to power following regular procedures. To start it up from that state, make critical again and make operable was practically impossible. But the operator “pulled it out of the iodine well”! He stabilized it but failed to bring it to the power level required by the test program and the reactor was stabilized at 200 megawatt. Later on, in Kurchatov Institute we spent 800 hours of computing with BESM-6 computer to understand why this mode had turned out to be the most dangerous one. Previously who would have ever given us 800 hours to use this computer, which was overloaded with other tasks…. So, the causes of accident were: the reactor physics (deficiencies in the scientific program of safety justification); the emergency protection system, which was also designed proceeding from the economical grounds because at that time economics prevailed over safety. As a result the emergency protection system turned out to be absolutely inefficient for the state the operators had brought the reactor to.
All I’ve said about Chernobyl, about the human factor, has led to the fact that Chernobyl became our lives’ tragedy. Then the problem of demand has naturally popped up. It was overlapped with perestroika, new democratic trends, shutting down construction projects even those 95% completed. For example, like in Nizhni Novgorod where Mr. Nemtsov terminated construction of Nizhni Novgorod nuclear district heating plant and factually profited by it seizing the region governor’s post. Later, when we conversed he didn’t even reject the fact that this had been a purely populist action. So what we had prepared by that moment, prepared to make a “great jump” – and we indeed prepared much – became undemanded. At that point of time we had the industry, people, entities. There was even a certain surplus of such resources. That potential was envisioned for that time power generation and now we don’t have even one fifth of what we expected. The result is people tragedies, young cadre drain, and aging of teams. All this taken together has led to the situation where if we hadn’t done anything for a decade more, the nuclear industry in this country would have been lost. Are we capable of outfooting Japanese in car making industry? No, we aren’t, for we are behind them forever.
Nuclear.Ru: But in nuclear industry we have always been one big step ahead. Wouldn’t the overindulgence with conversion take us one step back?
V. Asmolov: When has the nuclear power renaissance started? When the Russian industry started demanding more power. Why no one was talking about power generation at all in 1988-1997? Because there was a complete backfall of productions and what was in grids was quite sufficient. Now the economy is growing and power is in demand again. And those projects we had on paper have become feasible. These feasible projects involve our design institutions, research and scientific organizations such as Kurchatov Institute, IPPE, NIIAR and others. But still we are few for such projects. Young specialists are not enough, and on the other hand, there are a lot of old cadre. Therefore, the paramount task I see is the consolidation of efforts of all design, engineering and scientific organizations. Because today each director thinks of all those who work for his institute. He must provide them with interesting and fairly paid job for them not to be ashamed of when coming back to their families.
Thus, a severe competition is starting between scientific, design and engineering organizations because there are plenty. And all this competition is about to get an order rather than design a better facility. You have got an order that means you’ve got money. It is easier to be a deputy minister: I communicate with the directors. But I communicate neither with technicians nor lab assistants nor young engineers. That’s for the director and it is the director who is responsible for providing them with jobs. That is why today we need to consolidate and integrate these institutes. Assuming there are two Atomenergoproekts – Moscow and St.Petersburg. These are two good organizations but one is better in designing reactor halls with the other being good at turbine halls. Today it hasn’t even occurred to them that they can merge and distribute the work. Each of them fights for orders.
Nuclear.Ru: What about such scientific centers as VNIIEF and VNIITF? Should they also merge or it’s better for them to pursue conversion?
V. Asmolov: This is not power generation. I wouldn’t like to discuss the military weapons complex. I haven’t studied them in details; there are experts in this area. But I know that we involved these centers in conversion programs and both Sarov and Snezhinsk did perfect job for the programs I was in charge of while in Kurchatov Institute. They have highly qualified experts and the research they did at reactor facilities was perfect. This is the real conversion. Making pans is not the conversion. It’s wasted time and money because a pan made there will be more expensive and poor in quality. I recollect one of the Kurchatov Institute’s divisions deciding to manufacture car jacks. Those car jack, possibly, could jack up a car but considering that it was non-specialized production they were five times more expensive than those manufactured by specialized enterprises.
Nuclear.Ru: Possibly, it would be more reasonable to produce something related to medicine, for example, isotopes?
V. Asmolov: Yes, it would. Medical isotopes are a real conversion. It should be something that is industry-specific, familiar to our research centers and organizations. For example, medical isotope fabrication is both a share of Kurchatov Institute’s income and great benefit for Moscow. That’s where the real conversion is. The involvement of our “weapons” institutes like VNIIEF in the large-scale nuclear power generation in areas where they are fit to work in as professionals and can be much of benefit is also the real conversion. Arzamas also carries out programs jointly with Gazprom. Again, it is also not just a work. They do regular hydro and gas dynamics they have been involved in throughout all their life.
Nuclear.Ru: Still, the experts are leaving the industry and young generation ingress is low. Wouldn’t there be a situation where you have just no one to transfer the experience to?
V. Asmolov: Today’s problem is different: there are few people who have done the whole path. Those who are fifty today and who are prepared to take over the mission done by those who are seventy. They are few, and they are in the science, operation, engineering and design.
Late December JSC Tekhsnabexport (TENEX) management met journalists who write about Russia’s nuclear industry. Summing up results of the year TENEX’s Director General Vladimir Smirnov notes the growth in export, stable fulfillment of HEU Deal, the signing of plutonium-238 supply contract for the U.S. aerospace program. According to Smirnov, during the recent decade (1994 – end of 2003) the TENEX’s product turnover has increased 1.7 times with annual increment of about 1-2%. The export within the same period also has nearly doubled and two last years demonstrated 7% increment. As regards the isotopes, the export has increased 11% during two recent years. Non-nuclear products outcome has grown by 3%. In two years the company’s net profit has increased 2.5 times with the dividends got by the State growing 2.2 times. The structural reorganization is underway, with Uranservice transformed into Direction of Uranium Products comprising four separate departments responsible for regional activities: the South America, North America, European customer’s club, South East Asia and Africa.
In the field of investments Smirnov pointed out two main directions. The first is the setting of a joint venture with TVEL and Kazatomprom in Kazakhstan. “The joint venture has started working and I hope that in 2006 Russia will get the first uranium from this deposit”, he said. The second direction is the draft governmental decree developed jointly by the Ministry of Transport and Minatom of Russia on the development of Russia’s seaport infrastructure. Presently TENEX uses only St. Petersburg seaport, however, its management thinks that the Far East infrastructure should be appropriately developed for TENEX to have an opportunity of conducting direct operations in this region. After the governmental approval a company was set up, which will be having its own berth in the city of Ust-Lug in Leningrad Region. The second location is the coastal city Bolshoi Kamen. “We attach great significance to this project because we use only one seaport ant this limits our capabilities very much”, Smirnov said adding that the company was to work on these projects throughout the next year.
Elaborating more on the export issue, Smirnov especially noted the return of TENEX to the African market: the winning of tender for the five-year uranium supply contract for Eskom, which operates the only South African nuclear power plant Koeberg. Alexei Grigoriev, the TENEX’s Deputy Director General reminded that Russia had already supplied low enriched uranium to South Africa under a five-year contract, which expired in 2000. “But we have been in a regular contact with the plant and Eskom’s management”, Grigoriev said. “Early this year there was a call for tender concerning the five-year LEW supply contract, where all world’s largest suppliers participated”, he said. The winner was announced in December 2003. The contract has not been signed yet, that should be preceded by technical negotiations to get agreement on certain provisions. “Since we have an experience in working with this company, I don’t think we’ll encounter any problems with the signing and we’ll sign it in the first half of the next year at the latest”, he said. The deliveries will start in 2005 with fuel assemblies for Koeberg nuclear plant being fabricated in France. “In other words, TENEX is for 2005-2010 contracting, - Smirnov stressed. – “Certainly, we have spot deals for this year, which give us the growth in exports. But our task is to anticipate what the market will be after three to five years”.
Speaking on prospects of cooperation with Japan Smirnov noted that a substantial obstacle to integrate into the Japanese market was a lacking of an intergovernmental agreement in the field of peaceful uses of atomic energy. “However, after a number of political meetings the heads of our countries have proposed the following formula to the market: the politicians are to discuss and solve their issues while business must seek for the paths of mutually acceptable cooperation”, Smirnov said. One path could be a single-time consent of the governments to this or other delivery. As regards the signing of a long-term contract to supply uranium products to Japan, Smirnov said it was “a solved issue”. “The contract hasn’t been signed yet. The concurrence procedure is underway but it is very complicated because there are no agreements”, he said. Lyudmila Zalimskaya, the Direction of Uranium Products head, said that presently negotiations were carried out with five Japanese utilities. “This is the indication of the interest shown by Japanese companies regarding the cooperation with us, she noted. “If previously we were talking about spot contracts, now we’re discussing medium-term ones, for three to five years, with two companies”. If the contracts were in place the uranium wouldn’t be supplied to Japan directly but to the countries and plants where this or other utility or nuclear power plant orders fuel assemblies from. Smirnov also said that TENEX may set an office in Tokyo in January 2004.
Besides, TENEX continues operating in the South Korea, traditionally works with the Europeans, however, this cooperation doesn’t go smoothly because of the EU position regarding quotas. The TENEX’s supplies of LEU to Mexico, announced recently, is the example of factual geographic expansion of the company’s operations. The supplies will be arranged through the company’s trader – the Germany-U.S. concern RWE Nukem. Such arrangement is due to financial conditions of the tender called for by the Mexican utility. RWE Nukem officially won the tender and TENEX will be its subcontractor in uranium supplies. Explaining on the situation Grigoriev said that the special tender conditions stated payments through credits. “In other words, there will be no a direct payment after the shipment. Accordingly, if we were participating in the tender directly, this would have contradicted the Russia’s currency control provisions”, he said. “Therefore, we have involved our partner – RWE Nukem – who cared of all financial and crediting issues. It won the tender but with the Russian LEU. We have already signed the contract with RWE Nukem, but there are still minor issues related to its future developments”.
Vladimir Smirnov commented, exclusively for Nuclear.Ru, on the several-month long conflict between TENEX and Swiss Globe Nuclear Services and Supply GNSS, Ltd:
Nuclear.Ru: Your company’s press release states that next year TENEX anticipates the sales of a part of natural uranium, covered by HEU Agreement to the U.S. utilities. Who is going to be the sales agent if TENEX stops selling uranium to GNSS starting from January 1, 2004?
V. Smirnov: We will. Speaking about the overall situation, it is rather simple. All HEU contracts are not the commerce; they are a system of intergovernmental agreements. TENEX is the agent of Russia’s Government and USEC is the agent of the Government of the USA. The only commercial aspect in our work with USEC is that the money is paid not out of the U.S. budget but – after USEC’s privatization – out the private company’s funds; still it hasn’t ceased being the U.S. Government’s agent. And all mechanisms we have worked out with USEC were approved by the Governments of Russia and the U.S. The second very complex package of contracts is the sales of feed component by a group of western companies. It is not a commerce either. This scheme was developed upon a request of the Governments of Russia and the USA in 1999. After the system of contracts had been established, a group of western companies became the agent of both the Russian and the U.S. Governments. And no one has abandoned the mechanism. There is the feed component sales mechanism and the Governments have approved it.
Now, the TENEX-GNSS contract. The system of contracts includes the Russia’s quota and TENEX got the right to sell this quota in the U.S. territory. To this end, there is a system of balancing, which provides for both the feed component sales to the American utilities and the commitments to return some material to Russia. When we analyzed our interactions with GNSS, we came to a conclusion that it was not beneficial for Russia. You understand, it was not we who terminated this contract by our will. According to the American commercial law no one can be force to implement a contract. If you are not happy, bear the losses but no one can be forced to implement. The GNSS’s attempt to sue us resulted in the following: in Washington D.C. the court even didn’t look into the case. The ruling states the contract is not a commercial one, GNSS is not a governmental agent but TENEX, being the Russia’s governmental agent, has immunity in the U.S. territory.
We tried to settle it peacefully, got an agreement but we were categorically refused and saw no will to cooperate. That is why today we have come back to what is states in the intergovernmental agreement: we have the right to sell our quota on our own in accordance with the system described in diplomatic notes and the agreements between the two countries. They also provide for the return of a part of the material to Russia, to the federal stocks. We also consulted the U.S. since we have accommodated the U.S. concerns having an understanding that some American utilities were counting on this material. We are ready to consider their requests. So far we don’t have any information about the U.S. utilities’ demands. But if we promised that we wouldn’t be playing hard on the market but the feed component sales in accordance with the rights we were entitled will be conducted only within the frames set by the intergovernmental agreements. Thus, I think sometimes you have to pick up the stones thrown earlier and to look soberly at the situation. Of cause, GNSS filed a case to the court of arbitration. Let’s see what would come out …
Recently, I gave an example at the negotiations: just imagine that we’ve made a deal – you sold and I bought the Eiffel Tower in Paris. But here either you or I had to ask the city mayor for the permit. What is the difference with our situation? The Russian federal property in the U.S. territory, which is fixed in the sales register, was sold by a private company to other private companies. I’m asking the American utilities: what have you done, bought the Eiffel Tower? Why didn’t you ask the Paris mayor then? Why didn’t you ask TENEX and request a warranty? Aren’t you aware that it is a federal property? Yes, they say, we are. In fact we have always had and have certain relations with the American utilities, however, we have been “partitioned” from them by this illuctured arrangement with GNSS. This is one more fact that doesn’t work in favor of such system of relations. They are not in a hurry for far and are not panicking. The rest is just emotions of those who are not quite happy with the situation.
Nuclear.Ru: Haven’t you considered a possibility of making GNSS or any other company a TENEX’s agent in the USA?
V. Smirnov: We can involve any trade agent but with the governmental consent. Now TENEX considers that we don’t need anyone. If it is necessary, we could set TENEX in the USA as we set TENEX in the South Korea – 100% our affiliated company. We’ve got such proposal. The legal procedure takes two moths after the Board has made a decision. Our Chairman of the Board is the first deputy minister and we have representatives of the Government and Minatom of Russia on the Board. If a decision is made, we will set. But, so far we don’t think it is necessary. In conclusion I’d like to stress once again: today we control the situation and have a dialogue with all the players. We are settling it in a calm and civilized manner.
1. Article of First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Vyacheslav Trubnikov, Published in the Journal Pravo i Bezopasnost' (No. 3-4, December 2003) under the Heading "Terrorism - Who Defeats Whom?"
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Daily News Bulletin
(for personal use only)
Upon entering the new millennium humanity was confronted with the most dangerous global challenge of international terrorism. Today terrorism is threatening the security of whole countries and regions, terrorist groups thirst for the possession of weapons of mass destruction, and there grows the level of their financial resources and technical equipment. It will be no exaggeration to say that we have now found ourselves facing a veritable terrorist international.
After the end of the Cold War the world community did not at once realize the sharply increased terrorist threat and is only now beginning to work out adequate response mechanisms. Although the problem of terrorism has long since been in existence, it was only a couple of years ago, after the bloody terrorist acts in Moscow and the tragedy of September 11, 2001, in New York and Washington, that it began to be viewed in a global context. At issue is a many-sided phenomenon having politico-legal, psychological, historical and other aspects, which in addition increasingly coalesces with such purely criminal offenses as the illicit trade in arms and drugs.
A major component of international counterterrorist efforts is bilateral Russian-American cooperation within the joint Working Group that was set up in 2000 by a decision of the Russian and US presidents to counter the terrorist threat emanating from the territory of Afghanistan. It was by no chance that the initiative to create this group belonged to the Russian side, because our country had long before the tragedy of September 11 taken the blow of international terrorism in Chechnya.
Initially the work of the group was based on an international principle: it consisted of the representatives of the various ministries and departments of Russia and the US, with the Russian MFA and the US State Department playing the coordinating and guiding role. At the first stage in the agenda of the meetings, naturally, the main attention was devoted to the challenges to regional and international stability emanating from the Taliban regime. But with the start of the counterterrorist operation in Afghanistan the themes of the activity of the group slightly changed. The focus was now not only the struggle against the Taliban and the remaining Al-Qaida cells, but also the questions of post-conflict settlement and support for the new Transitional Administration led by Hamid Karzai.
By the seventh meeting of the working group, which was held in spring 2002, it had become perfectly clear that it was necessary to adjust its activities. Both we and our American partners had arrived at the conclusion that the manifestations of international terrorism should be assessed in their relationship. For example, the set of questions of the financing and equipment of terrorist groups may not be viewed in isolation from the problems of drug trafficking and the clandestine "arms business."
Actually at a meeting of the group the questions even before used to be touched upon that have no direct bearing on Afghanistan, but fit into the context of the global struggle against terrorism. Therefore the decision of the presidents, adopted at the Russian-American summit on May 23-25, 2002, to convert the existing mechanism into a permanent Russian-US Working Group on the combating of terrorism fully met the requirements of our time.
The widening of the group's mandate brought it to a new level of discussion and formulation of global tasks of the international antiterrorist coalition. With the increase of the number of points on the agenda on which the discussion centered and, accordingly, the number of experts taking part in the debate, the format of meetings had to be changed and additional subgroups formed to deal with specific problems.
I would like to especially note the activities of the most numerous subgroup - on the fight against a new threat of terrorism with the employment of weapons of mass destruction. It is well known that Al-Qaida and the related terrorist groups for the last few years have quite actively been seeking to acquire nuclear, biological, radiological and chemical weapons. The gas attack in the Tokyo subway, the acts of bioterrorism on the territory of the United States, and the foiled plans of terrorists to use the ricin poison in Britain have once more confirmed that the world community should take most seriously the prospect of terrorist use of weapons of mass destruction.
An important factor is that at the meetings of the Working Group it has been possible to create an atmosphere of trust among the participants, of freewheeling direct discussion of any acute problems connected to interaction within the antiterrorist coalition, and most important - to achieve the transparency of efforts in this important sector of bilateral cooperation.
In the course of the last, 9th meeting of the Working Group in Moscow on January 22-23, 2003, an extensive range of regional security issues was examined, primarily in the context of the Afghan situation. A fruitful exchange of views on virtually all the questions on the agenda took place.
The Americans, in particular, informed us of the efforts being made by them in Afghanistan, and gave an assessment to the process of the formation by Afghans of their own security system, sharing our concern over the "record-breaking harvest" of drug containing crops. In its turn, the Russian side noted that the threat of drugs from Afghanistan had not been reduced at all. Hence we attached and are attaching to this problem very serious importance. For, what is being detained on the Tajik-Afghan border by the efforts of Russian bodyguards is but a drop in the bucket, but even it gives an idea of the scale of the Afghan drug flow.
The results of the Moscow meeting, as is customary, were reported to the presidents of our countries and the heads of the foreign affairs agencies.
2. Article of Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Anatoly Safonov, Published in the Journal Pravo i Bezopasnost' [Law and Security] (No. 3-4, December 2003) under the Heading "On International Cooperation in the Fight Against Terrorism"
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Daily News Bulletin
(for personal use only)
The year that has passed since the first Lisbon meeting of leaders of various international organizations and structures has borne out the correctness of the course taken towards strengthening the coordination of antiterrorist efforts with a view to making the fullest and most effective use of the potential of the international community for the struggle against the global threat of terrorism. In spite of all the complexities and rollbacks, the general line on establishing a broad international front to counter terrorism and the related new challenges and threats is receiving ever greater support. Gradually a new political philosophy is emerging of the non-acceptance and rejection of terrorism in all its manifestations, irrespective of the proclaimed aims and ideological assumptions. On this basis, an active specialization of key international organizations and structures is taking place and their joining in the tackling of tasks in the fight against terrorism.
At the same time one cannot but see that this new antiterrorist solidarity in practice so far is often being eroded by the still-lingering differences in real approaches between states, primarily in the definition of the specific content of, and optimal perimeters for antiterrorist interaction, and by the inertia of the logic of double standards. The international community should not be allowed to find itself split and weakened by internal frictions and conflicts when special cohesion and political will are being required of it in the face of an extensive threat of terrorism.
The series of recent terrorist attacks that swept across Chechnya, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and Afghanistan, and the explosions in Moscow and Mozdok, Jerusalem and Bombay have expressly pointed to the fact that, despite the tangible blows dealt to it, international terrorism obviously is not going to surrender its positions or yield initiative and is continuing to play "for a lead." The recent wanton act in Baghdad, where the UN mission building was blown up, is yet another cynical challenge to the international community, an attempt to weaken its political will and to undermine the efforts in fighting terrorism and in settling regional conflicts. The observable step-up of activity by international terrorist structures, the "flowing over" of Al-Qaida cells, above all, to the Southeast Asia region, the revival of the combat potential of the Taliban movement in Afghanistan - these are all the dangerous signs of a mounting terrorist threat to international peace and security.
The character of present-day terrorism and its mimicry are impossible to grasp out of the context of the complex and mixed contemporary processes of globalization and of the changing schemes of politico-psychological relations between the individual, society and the state. Terrorists actively adopt not only the latest technological achievements, but also the most sophisticated methods of behavior manipulation and the suppression of people's state of mind. One most terrible example of this is the spreading practice of training suicide bombers.
The complexity and the multifaceted character of the phenomenon of contemporary terrorism demand a comprehensive approach that combines military, politico-diplomatic, economic and humanitarian actions, an effective dovetailing of antiterrorist measures taken on the national and international levels. It is a question of the need to establish a flexible system which could ensure simultaneously both the prevention of terrorism and other new challenges and threats and adequate measures for resolving the terrorism-related crisis situations that arise.
Practice increasingly convinces us that a solution to this extremely complex task can be found only on the road of strengthening the United Nations, a forum which ensures the incontestable legitimacy of international efforts and cements the monolithic character of the coalition of states in the field of combating terrorism.
Today the key to effectively countering the terrorist threat lies in the following priority areas of cooperation:
- improving the antiterrorist international legal basis; improving the mechanisms for rendering legal assistance, including the extradition of terrorists, aimed at the practical universalization of the principle: either extradite or try; the inevitability of punishment for the crimes of terrorism;
- intensifying the fight against the financing of terrorism, including the cutting off of its channels of finance being derived from the illicit drug trafficking and the laundering of dirty money;
- interdicting access for terrorists to weapons of mass destruction and their delivery vehicles and their possible use of biological substances and nuclear and radioactive materials;
- increasing control over the trade in conventional types of weaponry. In particular, taking into account the latest terrorist acts, of special importance is the transfer onto a practical plane in the near future of the elements of export controls for MANPADS now being developed under the Wassenaar Arrangement. A positive example is the cooperation of the special services of Russia, the US and Britain in putting a stop to the contraband of MANPADS in the United States;
- measures for ensuring the right of man to protection from terrorism.
It is abundantly clear that the question is one of an extensive, dynamically widening problem field, which predetermines the increasing role of international regional and sectoral organizations in the implementation of an antiterrorist strategy.
In this connection we consider fundamentally important the recently evident course of the United Nations Security Council's Counter-Terrorism Committee towards close and regular cooperation with regional structures on the key issues of the antiterrorist collaborative effort, including in the creation of an effective system of technical assistance and necessary help to concerned states for the organization of their antiterrorist systems. We attach special importance to having the Counterterrorism Action Group that has been established by a decision of the G8 summit at Evian, join in this work. Russia intends to vigorously support activities in this direction, using its experience and informational and other available resources.
We see as an important long-term task the consistent strengthening of the antiterrorist potential of the OSCE on the basis of the implementation of the OSCE Bucharest Plan to Combat Terrorism and the Bishkek Antiterrorist Program. It is necessary to focus on completing the work on an OSCE Strategy to Address Threats to Security and Stability in the 21st Century and to establish mechanisms of review of the implementation by OSCE countries of their antiterrorist commitments. The antiterrorist thrust should remain one of the priorities in its activities. This is not a momentary "tribute to fashion," but a long-term strategic line of the organization. Furthermore, it appears that the OSCE, without substituting the activities of other organizations, should act preeminently as an institution of early crisis warning and the prevention of the growth of social tension and of the manifestations of intolerance, radicalism and terrorism.
Of considerable practical interest is the unique potential of the Council of Europe on the antiterrorist front, primarily in the legal sphere. We welcome the completion of the work on an additional protocol to the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism of 1977, that considerably extends the list of crimes precluding a "political reservation" as a ground for refusal to extradite criminals and envisages the possibility of establishing a special mechanism for tracing the fulfillment by European states of their international legal obligations for the extradition of terrorists. We consider that it is now necessary to move further. The Russian Federation fully supports the idea of developing a comprehensive European Convention Against Terrorism, which on certain conditions (the open character of the Convention) could open the way to working out a universally recognized definition of terrorism.
An important step reflecting the principled approach of the international community to combating terrorism was the decision of the United Nations Security Council Committee on Sanctions Against the Taliban, Al-Qaida and the Related Individuals and Entities to include in the sanctions list the leaders of Chechen terrorists, Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev and Shamil Basayev. We welcome the similar EU decision that then followed on the inclusion of those persons in its terrorist list. This attests to the growing understanding in the world of the true nature of the events in the Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation as one of the important battles against international terrorism. We are convinced that the decision made by the EU will tell positively on the further development of the Russia-EU antiterrorist cooperation and will open up its new horizons.
The world community needs to concentrate on the elaboration of measures for overcoming the causes lying at the base of present-day terrorism and giving rise to the extremal forms of protest behavior. It is not just a matter of a well-considered line and approaches to the settlement of regional conflicts and of the prevention of any actions that may contribute to the results opposite to the suppression of terrorist activities. There is a need for specific effective actions for deepening the social orientation of the process of globalization, the sustained development of the various regions of the world and the elimination of factors contributing to the formation of a breeding ground for the spread of terrorism.
A retreat is likewise impermissible on the ideological and psychological front of combating terrorism, a front the importance of which in the present-day conditions increases enormously. Success in the fight against international terrorism to a great extent will depend on how fully the potential of civil society is used in it. If terrorists succeed in creating in a country the level of anxiety and tension that renders the normal everyday life of people impossible, this will signify the defeat of that country in the struggle against terrorism. Militants, and the sponsors and ideologists of terrorism have learned to skillfully manipulate public opinion and to use the laws of democratic society for the destruction of society itself.
It is in our common interests to do everything possible to thwart such aspirations, to find adequate means for the protection of civilizational values. In this mainstream goes the proposal of Russia to convene under UN auspices a world forum which would discuss the role of civil society and, in particular, the contribution of the mass media to creating in the world an atmosphere of non-acceptance and active rejection of terrorism in all of its forms.
The world should not be allowed to slide towards a conflict of civilizations, and so it is extremely important to stimulate the development of interconfessional dialogue and the formation of conditions for the coexistence of religions, cultures and civilizations, along with seeking to neutralize the dangerous trends of growth of religious or any other radicalism professing violence and extremism. At the same time the struggle against terrorism by itself should not be replaced with a fight against any religion or cultural tradition. It is abundantly clear that such an approach is counterproductive; terrorism has no national, religious or other identity. Russia as a multiconfessional, polyethnic country strictly adheres to these principles and is ready to actively uphold them on the international scene. The recent statement of President Vladimir Putin about the intention of Russia to join the Organization of the Islamic Conference may serve as an important confirmation of this.
Today we far more clearly understand the proportions and nature of the common threat, which has become the chief enemy of human civilization in the third millennium. It is our duty to combine efforts, to strengthen the will and to travel jointly the necessary road in the interest of building new mechanisms for providing the guarantees of peace and security, no matter how difficult and long it may be.
3. Alexander Yakovenko, the Official Spokesman of Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Answers a Russian Media Question Regarding Signing by Russian President Vladimir Putin of the Federal Law on Ratification of the Framework Agreement on the Multilateral Nuclear Environmental Program in the Russian Federation and of the Protocol on Claims, Legal Proceedings and Indemnification to the Framework Agreement on the Multilateral Nuclear Environmental Program in the Russian Federation
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Daily News Bulletin
(for personal use only)
QUESTION: On December 27 Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the Federal Law on Ratification of the Framework Agreement on the Multilateral Nuclear Environmental Program in the Russian Federation and of the Protocol on Claims, Legal Proceedings and Indemnification to the Framework Agreement on the Multilateral Nuclear Environmental Program in the Russian Federation. What practical significance does the implementation of this Agreement have for Russia?
ANSWER: These Agreement and Protocol were signed in Stockholm on May 21, 2003, and participating in them along with Russia are Belgium, Britain, Germany, Denmark, the EU, Euratom, the Netherlands, Norway, Finland, France, Sweden, and the US (haven't signed the Protocol yet).
These documents have laid a long-term groundwork for multilateral cooperation in solving the acute problem for us of the disposition of decommissioned nuclear submarines and nuclear support vessels in northwestern Russia. They will help to accelerate the creation of an infrastructure for the safe handling of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste in connection with the disposition of the nuclear submarines. An important part of cooperation will be the rehabilitation of the Russian Navy's former coastal base sites at Andreyev Bay and Gremikha. All of this is a practical contribution to solving the common problems of enhancing nuclear environmental safety.
The importance of the MNEPR Agreement and the Protocol to it lies also in the fact that they for the first time in a multilateral format set forth the rules and norms which are to serve as a legal basis for implementing specific projects in this field. In particular, this concerns governing the questions of taxation, indemnification and others. In our view, this is a good precedent which is also being used for the elaboration of bilateral agreements, including as part of the G8 Global Partnership.
SUBJECT: Waiver of Restrictions on Assistance to the Republic of Uzbekistan under the Cooperative Threat Reduction Act of 1993 and Title V of the FREEDOM Support Act
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 2004 with respect to the Republic of Uzbekistan is important to the national security interests of the United States.
I have enclosed the unclassified report described in section 1306(b)(1) of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2003, together with a classified annex.
You are authorized and directed to transmit this certification and report with its classified annex to the Congress and to arrange for the publication of this certification in the Federal Register.
5. Fresh Nuclear Fuel of Highly Enriched Uranium Has Been Transported Back to the Russian Federation
Bulgarian Nuclear Regulatory Agency
(for personal use only)
The United States of America, the Russian Federation, the Republic of Bulgaria and the International Atomic Energy Agency co-operate in the area of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.
The Nuclear Regulatory Agency informs that 17 kg fresh highly enriched uranium (HEU) were transported back to the Russian federation on the 23rd December 2003 in the framework of the Programme for repatriation of Russian nuclear fuel for research reactors financed by the USA Department of Energy. By flight at 13.55 the HEU was transported from the Gorna Oriahovitza airport to Russia, where it will be reprocessed.
The HEU assemblies have been delivered to the Institute for Nuclear Research and Nuclear Energy, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, in Sofia from the former Soviet Union to meet the demands of the Russian design research reactor with power of 2 MW. The Research reactor was shut down in 1989. At present a process of reconstruction for operation with low enriched uranium is under way. The fresh nuclear fuel was loaded into 4 transportation containers provided by the Russian Federation. The IAEA Safeguards inspectors and technical experts from the USA Department of Energy observed the loading of the fuel into the containers.
The transportation of fresh nuclear fuel for research reactors from Bulgaria to Russia is a part of the International joint initiative under the leadership of the USA for reduction and, where possible, elimination of the use and storage of HEU for civil nuclear activities.
6. Removal of High-Enriched Uranium - IAEA, USA, Russia Assist Bulgaria in Removal of HEU Fuel
International Atomic Energy Agency
(for personal use only)
The IAEA has assisted Bulgarian authorities with the removal of high-enriched uranium (HEU) stored at a shutdown research reactor in Sofia.
The HEU, 36% enriched and in the form of fresh fuel, was airlifted this month from Bulgaria to the Russian Federation, which agreed to take back the fuel and was the original supplier in the early 1960s for the small (2-megawatt) IRT research reactor in Sofia. IAEA safeguards inspectors monitored and verified the packaging of the fuel for transportation. Russia stated its intention to re-fabricate the fuel into low-enriched uranium.
The cost of fuel removal is being funded by the United States Department of Energy under a cooperative US-Russia-IAEA programme called the Tripartite Initiative, to further the aims of nuclear non-proliferation. The Tripartite Initiative facilitates the return of both fresh and spent fuel from Russian designed research reactors abroad.
The contract for the fuel's removal was concluded in early December between Bulgaria, represented by the Institute of Nuclear Research (IRNE)in Sofia, the Sosny Company in Russia, and the IAEA. The fuel's transport and removal operation was implemented within the scope of a regional IAEA technical cooperation project in which Bulgaria is engaged.
Bulgarian authorities consider the return of the HEU fresh fuel, and future construction of a low-power, low-enriched fuel research reactor at the same site, as an important phase of their technical cooperation with the IAEA. The planned reactor would mainly be used for education and training purposes.
There are currently about 80 research reactors around the world that still have HEU subject to international control as potentially weapons-useable material. The Agency has an active record in helping its Member States convert their research reactors from HEU to low enriched uranium, within the framework of programmes to improve the overall safety and security of research reactors, particularly ageing reactors, and their spent fuel storage facilities. In conjunction with a US-initiated international programme, the IAEA is helping to reduce and eventually eliminate international commerce in HEU for research reactors.
The Bulgarian removal and transport operation was carried out under the framework of the IAEA's Technical Cooperation programme in Europe, and involves the Agency's Departments of Safeguards, Nuclear Energy, Nuclear Safety and Security, Management and the Office of Legal Affairs.
This is not the first time the IAEA has helped to transfer HEU fuel back to its country of origin. In late September 2003, the IAEA assisted Romania, and in August 2002, Serbia and Montenegro.
7. U.S. Nonproliferation Efforts Continue as Nuclear Material is Removed From Bulgaria
Department of Energy
(for personal use only)
Fresh HEU Nuclear Fuel Repatriated to the Russian Federation
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Seventeen kilograms of Russian-origin highly enriched uranium (HEU) were returned from Bulgaria to the Russian Federation yesterday, U.S. Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham announced today. It was one of a string of successful efforts by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)-funded Russian Research Reactor Fuel Return Initiative. The fresh HEU was airlifted from Gorna Oryahovista airport in Bulgaria to Dmitrovgrad, Russia where it will be down-blended.
"The Bush Administration has taken the lead on nonproliferation efforts to help make our world safer," Secretary Abraham said. "With U.S. leadership and through cooperation and determination with other nations, a more secure world is eventually attainable. Proliferation of nuclear material is a worldwide problem and requires a worldwide solution. We must not allow terrorists and others with bad intentions to acquire deadly material and the Department of Energy will continue doing its part."
The highly enriched nuclear fuel assemblies were originally supplied to Bulgaria by the former Soviet Union for the Russian-designed two megawatt research reactor, located in Sofia. The reactor was shutdown in 1989, and is going to be reconstructed. The nuclear fuel was loaded into four fresh fuel transportation canisters provided by the Russian Federation. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards inspectors and DOE technical experts monitored the process of loading the fuel in the canisters. An AN-12 Russian cargo plane was used to complete the air shipment of the HEU fuel from Bulgaria.
The shipment of the research reactor fuel from Bulgaria to Russia was part of a U.S.-led cooperative international effort to reduce, and if possible eliminate, the use and storage of highly enriched uranium in civil nuclear activities.
"The Bulgarians have shown leadership as they have cooperated with the U.S., Russia, and the IAEA in seeking ways to reduce the threat of nuclear proliferation, including the return of HEU from Bulgaria to Russia," National Nuclear Security Administration Administrator Linton Brooks said. "Along with the decision to return fresh HEU to Russia, the Bulgarian government also has made a decision to reconstruct the existing research reactor in Sofia to low enriched uranium fuel. These are important steps in our overall nonproliferation efforts worldwide."
The shipment of HEU from Bulgaria is the second shipment conducted under a tripartite initiative (the United States, the Russian Federation, and the IAEA) to return Russian-supplied HEU research reactor fuel for long-term management and disposition. The first shipment of fresh Russian-origin HEU fuel from Romania to the Russian Federation was carried out on September 21, 2003.
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