Scattered across remains of U.S.S.R. are materials to make 'dirty bombs'
SOKHUMI, Abkhazia - It's the stuff from which nightmares are made.
Ignoring the ominous graffiti scrawled on the rusting steel doors - "Radiation! Danger!! Stop! Cancer!" - three men broke into a masonry bungalow at a medical research institute here in May 2002. They fished seven lead-lined capsules out of a containment pool.
The thieves took the containers, shaped like coffee cans, back to a garage, stripped the lead out of at least one, and planned to melt down the metal to make shotgun pellets.
But these were not ordinary canisters. Lerry Meskhi, head of nuclear and radiation safety for the former Soviet republic of Georgia, said they contained a small but potent amount of cesium 137, emitting about 33,000 curies of radioactivity - enough to cause radiation sickness or death.
The three thieves quickly fell ill. Abkhazia's de-facto government - rebels who led a successful revolt against Georgia in 1993 - had the cesium moved to the ruins of a nearby physics institute for safer storage.
But the danger posed by this deadly cache, and thousands of others like it scattered through the former Soviet empire, has by no means disappeared.
When the Soviet Union and its satellite regimes collapsed, Cold War fears of mutual annihilation were replaced by fears that Soviet-era stockpiles of plutonium and highly enriched uranium could, through bribery or theft, fall into the hands of rogue states or terrorists.
But those fears now extend to relatively common radioactive materials, including those used in medical research, agriculture and navigation devices.
Cesium 137 and these other common materials can't detonate. But an ounce or so - the weight matters less than the level of radioactivity, measured in curies - could be used to make a "dirty bomb," a conventional high-explosive salted with radioactive matter.
Such a device would have no more explosive power than a conventional bomb. But it would spread a cloud of radioactive particles that could cause additional injuries or deaths. It would certainly trigger panic.
A recent study by the U.S. National Defense University in Washington, D.C., estimated that the cleanup after detonation of one large device in Lower Manhattan would cost $40 billion.
No one has ever used a dirty bomb. But after the defeat of the Taliban in Afghanistan, U.S. troops scouring caves used by al-Qaida discovered the blueprints for one. Justice Department officials said in June 2002 that they had foiled a plot to use such a device in a major American city.
The radioactive ingredients for a dirty bomb can be found in just about every country in the world. But nowhere, it seems, are more of them kept under poor security than in the former Soviet Union.
And probably nowhere in the wreckage of the U.S.S.R. is the material less secure than in Abkhazia and other rebel-controlled bits of post-Soviet states where corruption is endemic, the rule of law weak and smuggling a mainstay of the economy.
If the three Abkhazian thieves had known what they had, they might have tried to smuggle the cesium to Turkey with a shipload of lumber. Or tried to carry it in a car through Georgia and south toward Iran.
In recent years, hunters and farmers in Georgia have stumbled on radioactive devices scattered through the countryside. They have used the hot cores to make hot water or keep them warm while camping in the mountains. This month, the Georgian government said it had found tiny amounts of cesium 137 at 30 gasoline stations across the country, used to measure the level of gas in tanks.
Abkhazia is a breakaway part of Georgia where separatists routed government troops in the fall of 1993, after a civil war that killed 10,000 people.
Today Abkhazia is one of four ethnic enclaves - the others are Chechnya, Nagorno-Karabakh and Trans-Dniester - to claim independence. Most have become havens for smugglers and criminal groups.
With its palm-fringed beaches, orange groves and sunny Mediterranean climate, Abkhazia seems like a dreamy refuge from the world of war and terrorist threats. That appearance masks a different reality.
The country is carved up among four criminal gangs who smuggle everything from timber and hazelnuts to hashish and stolen cars, according to a draft report by American University's Transnational Crime and Corruption Center. Kidnapping and assassination are common. Police are ineffective.
"The distinction among official security and police forces, criminals [and] various armed formations is totally blurred," the report says.
During the war, the medical research institute in Sokhumi was ransacked. But its radioactive cesium, used in leukemia research, was untouched.
Theft and recovery
The institute's director, Sergei K. Ardzinba, resisted foreign pressure to move the material to a more secure storage site. He hoped, he said in a recent interview, to resume radiological experiments one day.
After the theft and recovery of the cesium in May 2002, Ardzinba relinquished the material. The rebel government moved it to a vault at a former nuclear weapons lab called the Sokhumi Institute of Physics and Technology. There, it was stored with about 240 other samples of radioactive material.
Unfortunately, the Sokhumi physics institute has a poor record of protecting nuclear materials. According to Western experts, in spring 1993 it held between 1.4 and 4.4 pounds of highly enriched uranium, suitable for a nuclear bomb. Sometime after that, nonproliferation experts say, the uranium vanished.
Since the fall of the Soviet Union, there have been at least 18 reports of stolen plutonium or highly enriched uranium. But the theft in Sokhumi is unique.
"It represents, to the best of my knowledge, the only confirmed instance of missing or diverted highly enriched uranium or plutonium that was not recovered," said William Potter, a nonproliferation scholar with the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California.
For several years after the war with Georgia, Abkhaz officials barred international inspectors from visiting the physics institute. Experts with Russia's atomic energy agency, Minatom, finally gained access in December 1997. They found most buildings vacant. Any highly enriched uranium was gone.
Abkhazian officials insist they haven't lost any nuclear bomb materials. Anatolia I. Markolia, director of Sokhumi's physics institute, says he has no evidence the facility ever had highly enriched uranium. "Nothing went missing during the war," he said.
But most foreign experts believe otherwise. Valter G. Kashia, a former researcher at the institute, said in an interview he personally used 655 grams - 1.4 pounds - of highly enriched uranium at the institute to test designs of nuclear-powered electric generators for spacecraft. Kashia fled Abkhazia in 1992 and now lives in exile in Tbilisi, the Georgian capital.
Abkhazia's security chief turned down requests to visit the Sokhumi physics institute and see the vault where the radioactive materials are held.
Lack of security
Nonproliferation experts say they think cesium 137 from the medical research center is still safely stored there. But some still worry about what might happen to the material.
"Even if [radioactive material] is under lock and key and guarded, how reliable is that under the Abkhaz regime?" asked Scott Parish, a proliferation researcher at the Monterey Institute, who has been to Abkhazia.
Vilmos Friedrich, an official with the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, helps run that agency's program to clean up radioactive materials in the former Soviet Union. Among the most troublesome regions for regulators, he said, are those where central governments have little or no control.
"Of course, where the political structure is not well established, where smuggling and illicit trafficking of any kind of materials is going on, there is much higher probability that this illicit activity also includes radioactivity," he said.
Georgian authorities have caught several people attempting to smuggle materials that might be used in a dirty bomb. Last May, a taxi driver was caught headed for Tbilisi's main railroad station carrying a trunk loaded with containers of highly radioactive cesium 137 and strontium 90.
A month later, an Armenian man was arrested in a border town, on his way south to the Armenian capital, Yerevan. American-supplied radioactivity detectors set up at the roadside sounded an alarm, and border guards discovered a 4.4-pound disc of uranium hidden a shopping bag filled with tea.
Lt. Gen. Valeri Chkheidze, chief of the Georgian border guards, said Abkhazia's long coastline on the Black Sea makes it difficult to control what goes in and what comes out.
"Contraband is widespread," he said. "Drugs are being trafficked. Where there is no control, it is easy to smuggle radioactive materials as well."
MOST OF the actions to thwart nuclear proliferation that President Bush proposed last week in a speech to the National Defense University will, if implemented, reduce the danger that nuclear weapons may come into the hands of states or terrorist groups that do not have them now. It is particularly encouraging that in his response to revelations about the network transferring nuclear designs and hardware from Pakistan to Iran, Libya, and North Korea, Bush appears to recognize -- however belatedly -- that US security requires greater cooperation with other countries and international organizations. Nevertheless, Bush's speech left some key questions unanswered. As with most worthwhile programs, good intentions have to be backed up by adequate funding. One of Bush's proposals is to expand the Nunn-Lugar Act of 1991 -- meant to pay for the dismantling of nuclear weapons and the employment of weapons scientists in the dissolved Soviet Union -- to other countries such as Libya. This could be an incentive for countries weighing the pros and cons of either seeking or relinquishing a nuclear weapons program.
Bush, however, cut the funding for the current Nunn-Lugar program in the budget he recently submitted to Congress from $451 million to $409 million. Spending on this kind of farsighted defense measure may end up saving Americans billions of dollars and much future grief.
Bush also offered a constructive suggestion for closing a gaping loophole in the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. He would make it much harder for signatories to acquire the fissile material for a nuclear weapon. They would have to accept tough new inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency before they could receive nuclear-related exports from the 40 nations in the Nuclear Suppliers' Group. Those 40 countries would also be prohibited from selling equipment for enriching uranium or processing plutonium to states that do not already possess such capabilities.
Given Bush's doctrinal reluctance in the past to rely on international organizations and treaties to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction, his new willingness to strengthen the Non-Proliferation Treaty and support the IAEA represents an overdue conversion to pragmatic statecraft.
In the same vein, Bush asked the UN Security Council to pass a "resolution requiring all states to criminalize proliferation, enact strict export controls, and secure all sensitive materials within their borders." Implicit in this request is a recognition that national security requires a high level of international cooperation. Cooperation to halt nuclear proliferation means that all states have to devalue nuclear weapons. So Bush should terminate his $3 billion program to develop small bunker-busting nuclear weapons.
WASHINGTON -- U.S. President George W. Bush on Saturday called the leaders of Russia and Italy to discuss how to check the spread of dangerous weapons and keep them away from terrorists. Bush also devoted his weekly radio address to the issue of weapons of mass destruction, saying "the possibility of secret and sudden attack" with such arms "is the greatest threat before humanity today."
Bush and President Vladimir Putin discussed Bush's speech last week in which he proposed new ways to halt illicit weapons trafficking, White House spokeswoman Jeanie Mamo said. Bush warned that black-market dealings by the architect of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program had exposed holes in global enforcement efforts.
Bush wants other countries to spend more on programs aimed at securing vulnerable nuclear arsenals in Russia and other former Soviet-bloc nations. He made no mention of any additional U.S. funds for the effort.
The Kremlin said Bush and Putin also discussed the results of a series of high-level contacts, including the recent trip to Washington by Putin's chief of staff, Dmitry Medvedev. Last week he delivered a letter to Bush in which Putin pledged that Russia would remain a "reliable and predictable partner."
Bush and Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi spoke about Libya, which pledged in December to end development of weapons of mass destruction.
An antinuclear activist cheers a Cold Warrior's change of heart
WASHINGTON ï¿½ On Sunday, Jan. 25, I shook hands with Robert S. McNamara for the first time. I thought it would bring closure. It did, sort of.
During the first decade of my adult life I nourished a fantasy about doing him bodily harm if I got close enough. Someone actually did try to throw him off the Martha's Vineyard ferry during that time. I would not have gone that far, I'm sure.
Now I'm 61, and he's 87. We are comrades in the ban-the-bomb movement. All is forgiven, although a Jimmy Swaggart depths-of-the-soul apology would be appreciated.
In the biographical film "Fog of War," McNamara argues that Vietnam was President Johnson's fault, not his. But I didn't broach that subject in our brief conversation. I thanked him for coming to Helen Caldicott's "Three Minutes to Midnight" conference on nuclear war policy.
The purpose of the conference was to explore the well-documented argument by former missile silo officer Bruce Blair that Cold War nuclear alert mechanisms have not really changed. The air defense people in Colorado still have three minutes to evaluate evidence of incoming missiles and notify the president. If the checklist gets that far, odds are that you and I will be dead within the hour.
McNamara was invited to be a speaker, but he declined, citing lack of expertise. He did, however, sit in the second row and stand in line at the floor microphone after a couple of the panel presentations. From that humble position, he challenged a panelist to summarize U.S. nuclear policy in a sentence.
On hearing a hedged answer, he supplied the one he was looking for. It went something like this: "We will initiate the use of nuclear weapons against a nonnuclear state or a nuclear state whenever we believe it's in our interests to do so ï¿½ leave that out ï¿½ whenever we wish to do so. I can't understand how anybody could ever believe it's in our interests to initiate the use of nuclear weapons against anyone."
The panelist thought McNamara was going too far. After a heated exchange, he accused McNamara of being "stuck in the 1960s."
In one important aspect, I suppose we all are.
Vietnam is history, but that decade's massive buildup and deployment of solid-fueled ballistic missiles, first by the United States on McNamara's watch, then by Russia, still makes life in America a minute-by-minute affair. Although Russia and the U.S. are no longer enemies, we still have plans and hardware in place to blow each other up on very short notice.
Meanwhile, both sides continue to experience technical false alarms, warnings that the other side has launched a first strike. We have to take them seriously because each side is fully capable of launching all its missiles without warning. Readiness could be the reason we all die. We seem unable to stand down the strategic forces.
McNamara was in effect advocating a "no-first-use" policy from the conference floor last month. Such a policy would eliminate the need for our preemptive, or firstike, capability ï¿½ which is most of our nuclear force. Its physical removal would eliminate the main incentive for Russians to be button-happy. After that, we could "de-alert" the remaining retaliatory forces.
We could empty the Minuteman silos, leaving their covers open for satellite inspection, and deploy our Trident submarines near Antarctica, beyond the range of Russia, from which position they could move northward at their leisure, to murder northern Eurasia if it came to that. Both sides would then have adequate time to evaluate any warning of attack, while retaining the option to enact revenge later.
The Russians would almost certainly follow the U.S. lead in arms reductions, but it would not be necessary. These unilateral steps by the U.S. would greatly reduce the only real threat to our national survival.
So why hasn't this problem been fixed? Bureaucratic inertia is the usual explanation. The appropriate authorities haven't bothered to tell the doomsday people to find another line of work. But nearly 15 years have passed since the fall of the Berlin Wall. What are we waiting for?
Perhaps the arsenals were never really about the grand competition after all, or even about national security. Perhaps they were, and are, their own justification. This we know: The balance of terror has outlived every rationale. It survives as a pointless dance with death.
Caldicott still has the movie-star looks and Australian accent that were elements of her charisma a quarter of a century ago, when she and I traveled the antinuclear lecture circuit in New England. I burned out. She persevered and established the idea of nuclear war as a public health crisis. As a result, the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize went to International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.
The conference gave me thoughts of maybe putting more effort into saving the world. There's still work to be done, and I have experience. At the end of the second day, I went home and threw up. My malady was a microbe my 95-year-old father-in-law brought home from his senior day-care center. Some of the staff had similar symptoms. It seemed an appropriate response to all the talk of the horrible things people might do to each other in a matter of minutes.
God bless Helen Caldicott and her troops, including, even, Robert McNamara.
3. Atomic Energy Minister Praises U.S. President's Speech
Radio Free Europe
(for personal use only)
Aleksandr Rumyantsev told journalists on 12 February that he supports "every point" in the speech U.S. President George W. Bush gave on 11 February in which he called for tougher international action to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, RIA-Novosti reported. Asked whether Bush's speech applied to Russia's nuclear cooperation with Iran, Rumyantsev said: "Without doubt, the United States criticizes us and thinks we shouldn't cooperate with Iran. However, in cooperating with Iran, we are not violating any international laws, and we do not agree that we have to get out of this market." Bush's speech, Rumyantsev said, was about transfers of technology that can be used to make weapons, which he called "a completely different direction." As to U.S. fears that four or five years after Iran's Bushehr reaction goes on line Iran will have enough nuclear fuel to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty unilaterally, Rumyantsev said, "theoretically such a possibility exists, but then the...international community will react immediately." JB
Russia is preparing to "modify" its policy of nuclear cooperation with Iran, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 17 February. According to the newspaper, the evidence for that conclusion is that a planned visit to Iran by a Russian Atomic Energy Ministry delegation, which was supposed to take place on 15-18 February, was canceled at the last minute for "technical reasons." Prior to the trip's cancellation, Atomic Energy Minister Aleksandr Rumyantsev told the newspaper that the delegation would visit the Bushehr nuclear reactor, which Russian technicians are building, and discuss future nuclear cooperation. However, U.S.
President George W. Bush then gave an anti-proliferation speech on 11 February in which he proposed, among other things, new restrictions on the sale of nuclear fuel for civilian power plants. A "noticeable cooling" in relations between Russia and the European Union has forced Russia to take greater account of U.S. concerns about Iran's nuclear program, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported. JB
2. Russia Defies US Pressures To Halt Cooperation With Iran
(for personal use only)
Moscow, Feb 17, IRNA -- Russia will never yield to US pressures to stop nuclear cooperation with the Islamic Republic of Iran, said a Russian atomic energy official here Tuesday.
Spokesman for the Russian Ministry of Nuclear Energy Nikolai Shingariev told IRNA "we have always stressed that there is no evidence of Iranï¿½s attempts to build atomic weapon."
His remarks were in response to claims raised by some US authorities that Iran is seeking to acquire nuclear material for making nuclear bombs.
He underlined "Iranï¿½s stance, given its signing up to the additional protocol to Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as well as its close cooperation with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), is quite clear."
Turning to US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitageï¿½s remarks on Bushehr power plant, he said "we have repeatedly announced that Russiaï¿½s activities in Bushehr plant are quite clear. So, we are ready to respond to any questions in this regard." He added "if our American partners have some questions over Bushehr power plant, they may raise their questions directly to receive appropriate response."
US Under-Secretary of State Richard Armitage said last week Iran is still seeking to acquire nuclear weapons, despite commitments made to the international community.
Iran has always denied trying to make a nuclear bomb, saying its nuclear program is simply intended for generating electricity. Russiaï¿½s activities in Bushehr power plant are in compliance with the UN atomic watchdog regulations and it does not help the country proliferate atomic weapons, said the Russian official. He further said that Russiaï¿½s cooperation with Iran and presence of IAEA inspectors in Iran would further strength NPT.
Turning to US President George W. Bushï¿½s claims that some countries have the potential to exploit a nuclear peaceful program to make atomic bomb, he said "each country should come under investigation separately."
He stressed "I cannot express my point of view over other countries` nuclear activities. But it is clear that IAEA is considered as a reliable organization to supervise nuclear activities and it has the right to control all nuclear-related issues."
Asked if he thought the trend of Iran-Russia nuclear cooperation is progressing at present, the official said "our cooperation is fruitful", adding construction work on the first phase of the Bushehr power plant continues, and economic and technical studies on its second phase are under way."
He further said that if Iran is determined to construct the second phase, Russia is ready to cooperate.
The two countries are going to cooperate in field of using nuclear technology in medical and scientific researches and an intergovernmental joint commission is reviewing such cooperation, added Shingariev.
He reiterated that Russia will continue mutual cooperation with Iran as long as no international decision is taken against such cooperation.
The Russian official stressed that his country has defied US pressures to halt its nuclear cooperation with Iran.
Regarding upcoming visit by a Russian atomic energy delegation , headed by Minister of Nuclear Energy Alexandr Rumyantsev, to Iran, he said that the visit will certainly take place.
He stressed that the said delegation will visit Iran to study cooperation with Iran.
3. Russia Stresses Continuation Of Nuclear Cooperation With Iran
(for personal use only)
Moscow, Feb 17, IRNA -- Russian minister of atomic energy reiterated here Tuesday Moscow`s intention to continue nuclear cooperation with Tehran.
In a bulletin on the ministry`s internet site, Alexander Rumyantsev also outlined Russian nuclear program`s priorities in 2004.He said in addition to Iran, Moscow will continue with construction of nuclear power plants in China and India and plans to increase its exports of nuclear fuel and technology to satisfy Russia`s contractual obligations.
Also, spokesman for Russia`s nuclear energy ministry said that Moscow will not succumb to pressure by the US over its cooperation with Iran.
Speaking to IRNA, Nikolai Shingariev said the construction of the initial phase of Bushehr nuclear plant is continuing and `feasibility studies including technical research is underway for building the second reactor`.
In addition, he said, the two countries` state commission is holding talks on application of nuclear technology in scientific and medical research.
"Russia`s position over nuclear cooperation with Iran has not changed," Shingariev stated.
Meanwhile, Rumyantsev said Monday that the decision for the postponement of his visit to Iran has no political background and are purely technical.
"Documents related with the contract on the return of spent nuclear fuel to Russia from Iran`s Bushehr nuclear power plant have not been finalized yet," he said.
"Originally it was expected that Russia`s TVEL corporation -- the monopoly producer and provider of nuclear fuel and Iran`s Atomic Energy Organization will draft a contract for the removal of spent nuclear fuel from the Bushehr nuclear plant by the middle of February.However, the price to be charged for keeping spent nuclear fuel is still to be agreed on. The differences may be settled within two or three weeks," Rumyantsev said.
The Russian atomic energy minister`s visit to Tehran for talks on completing the construction of the first reactor at the Bushehr nuclear power plant, originally scheduled for the middle of February, has been postponed till early March.
In the course of his talks in Tehran, Rumyantsev will meet with his Iranian counterpart to review progress in the construction of Bushehr`s first reactor.
4. Iran, Russia Can't Agree On Bushehr's Completion
Middle East Newsline
(for personal use only)
Russia has acknowledged the failure to resolve a dispute that has delayed completion of the Bushehr nuclear reactor for Iran.
Russian officials said the disagreement has resulted in the cancellation of a meeting of the nuclear chiefs of Moscow and Teheran scheduled for this week. The Russian delegation, led by Atomic Energy Minister Alexander Rumyantsev, has delayed its visit to Teheran by at least two weeks.
Rumyantsev said the dispute regards Iran's refusal to return spent nuclear fuel for the Bushehr plant to Moscow. Iran insists that Russia bear the costs of securing the spent nuclear fuel as well as its transfer from Bushehr to Moscow.
The minister said another disagreement concerns the price of the Bushehr project, reported at $1 billion. The project is said to have overrun its original price by 25 percent.
MOSCOW, Feb 13 (Iran Daily) -- Iran's Ambassador to Moscow Gholamreza Shafei and the vice-speaker of the Russian State Duma, Vladimir Pukhtin discussed ways of boosting bilateral cooperation in all key economic and political areas.
Members of the Duma energy and economic commissions were also present at the meeting in which the two sides discussed issues related to cooperation and the participation of Russia's oil giant Gasprom in the world's largest gas project, South Pars.
Pukhtin underscored the significance of cooperation between Iran and Russia, stressing that Moscow is ready to help expand bilateral economic relations and remove the existing obstacles to this effect.
Shafei, for his part, briefed the Russian State Duma commissions on the latest status of the bilateral cooperation, saying the value of two-way trade has reached $1.5 billion. Nuclear cooperation was also on the meeting's agenda and the two sides established that it is necessary to complete the Bushehr nuclear power station at the earliest.
They also stressed on the need to facilitate the process of Iran officially signing up to the nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and returning spent nuclear fuel to Russia. The two sides agreed to form parliamentary friendship groups.
6. Russian Nuclear Expert Says Bushehr Did Not Look Like 'Ordinary Energy Reactor'
(for personal use only)
Interview with Academician Viktor Mikhaylov, head of the Ministry of Atomic Energy Institute of Strategic Stability and scientific leader of the Russian Federal Nuclear Center -- All-Russia Research Institute of Experimental Physics, by Aleksandr Yemelyanenkov; date, place not given: "Who Will Take Up the Nuclear 'Scalpel' First. Academician Viktor Mikhaylov Believes a Radical Change Is Brewing in the Evolution of Nuclear Weapons"
For the past five years Academician Viktor Mikhaylov of the Russian Academy of Sciences has been head of the Russian Federation Ministry of Atomic Energy's Institute of Strategic Stability that has been set up in the nuclear weapons complex, and at the same time scientific leader of the Russian Federal Nuclear Center -- All-Russia Research Institute of Experimental Physics in Sarov. Before that, from 1992 through 1998, in the years that were most crucial for our economy, he was head of Russia's nuclear sector. And maybe he considers his most important service during that period to have been the preservation of the scientific and intellectual potential, unity, and reliable manageability of the country's nuclear industry complex.
A doctor of physical and mathematical sciences and professor, he is also known as a brilliant polemicist who openly defends his own convictions and views of events. And our meeting with him began with a heated dialogue over the spy scandal in Pakistan and the statement by IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei about the "collapse of the international nonproliferation regime." I asked Academician Mikhaylov to comment on the admissions by Abdul Qadeer Khan, head of the Pakistani nuclear program, about the transfer of weapons technologies to Iran, Libya, the DPRK, and Malaysia.
The Mote in Someone Else's Eye (subhead)
"If you want comments about Pakistan you should ask those who helped it with its nuclear affairs," my interviewee immediately got into his stride. "It is nothing to do with us. In the USSR and later in Russia there was very strict monitoring of the nonproliferation regime. Our country was and is a depositary of that (NPT) treaty. Back in 1995-1996, speaking at the annual IAEA conferences, I said frankly: Your approach is one-sided. You keep an eye on the delivery of advanced technologies to needy countries so as to help them to develop nuclear power. And the United States is constantly insisting on monitoring the military atom in our country. But I believe it is not only the military atom but, first and foremost, the peaceful atom that should be at the center of attention, it should be placed under IAEA oversight everywhere, as has been done with India. But that does not happen in the United States, or China, or Britain, or France..."
(Yemelyanenkov) Do you have any special grounds for saying things like that?
(Mikhaylov) Yes, because they are trying to blame us for things that other people are responsible for. It was not Russia that started the construction of the nuclear power station in Iran, as you know. And when we got there I saw with my own eyes things that clearly did not fit the design of an ordinary energy reactor. I saw finished programs for the design of the core -- the neutron flow and temperature regimes in the reactor core; I saw a generator of 14-megavolt neutrons, which are obtained from the fusion of deuterium and tritium... Why was all this necessary for a peaceful nuclear power industry at the stage that Iran has reached?
(Yemelyanenkov) Since you saw and understood that, why did you set about completing the construction of the Bushehr power station?
(Mikhaylov) The Russian side's commitments were extremely clearly stipulated in the intergovernmental agreement, and that was drawn up in accordance with IAEA requirements. I know the question of our supplying centrifuges for uranium enrichment was raised. But we wrote it into the protocols with Iran that when their nuclear power industry develops, when there is extraction and ore enrichment of uranium, then we will examine the possibility of supplying technologies for the centrifugal method of separating isotopes, that is, we gave them future prospects in the "peaceful atom." After all, we were already supplying China at that time. But -- and I want to draw special attention to this -- we were supplying them (to China) at a point in the industrial process where you are never going to get weapons-grade uranium. In addition, all the Russian equipment that was transferred to China was delivered under IAEA guarantees and with technical monitoring by Russia. That gives us the opportunity to go along every year and monitor the situation, to see that nothing has changed in the industrial process involving the centrifuges...
(Yemelyanenkov) What do you think about US President Bush's initiative to tighten monitoring of the nonproliferation of nuclear technologies, nuclear weapons, and components using forcible preventive measures -- up to and including the seizure of ships and aircraft?
(Mikhaylov) Whatever I might think, the United States is already operating under that system -- they have shown us that clearly in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, and Iraq. I have never supported this approach and I still do not support it, believing that it is contrary to the principles of human morality. The US position today is very harsh. It contains very little that is human -- more evil than good. Clearly they have set the goal of using force to become first in the world. And everyone else must follow them and learn from them how to "organize democracy..." I regard this as evidence of an undisguised intention of building their own empire -- in a new, contemporary form. Look at their military strategy -- preemptive strikes. They no longer distinguish between what kind of weapons to use -- nuclear or non-nuclear. That is why they have set about developing low- and ultra-low-yield weapons.
(Yemelyanenkov) Not only in theory, but in practice already?
(Mikhaylov) Let me put it like this: From items published in the Western press we can see the American nuclear scientists' desire to create "penetrating" nuclear weapons -- weapons that could destroy a specific target at depth. The range of yields is from hundreds of tons to 10 kilotons. That means just a few tens of kilograms in weight, with colossal external protection. That is to say, the nuclear charge itself is surrounded by a solid casing that burns up when it enters the ground. When the burned-out layer reaches the charge, the explosion occurs, but this will be tens of meters underground. A powerful but local seismic wave is created. And -- which is no less important -- the radiation impact on the environment is minimal in this case, you can bring troops into the territory within a foreseeable period and organize the "new order"...
(Yemelyanenkov) And it was in this context that your colleagues started talking about the nuclear "scalpel"?
(Mikhaylov) Please note, I never said anywhere that Russian nuclear scientists are developing this type of new nuclear weapon. But we have our "finger on the pulse" on these matters. And in the United States they really are examining an integrated system for the use of offensive and defensive weapons -- nuclear and conventional. In other words, they believe that the use of nuclear weapons should not be distinguished from the use of conventional arms. That concept is not without an element of intimidation... (Mikhaylov's answer ends)
Preventive Deterrence? (subhead)
(Yemelyanenkov) That is to say, nuclear weapons cease to be simply a deterrence factor and become a weapon for real use in specific conditions? An instrument of destruction? How do the other nuclear powers react to this?
(Mikhaylov) When you talk about the nuclear powers you must bear in mind that, among them, only Russia and United States are comparable in terms of their nuclear possibilities and potential. The others are far from that level. As for penetrating nuclear munitions, this is a very complex problem. It may be resolved no earlier than in 10 or 15 years' time. The Americans admit that they are any managing to penetrate 5-6 meters (into firm, rocky ground). If you are talking about tens of meters, that is very difficult to do, although the laws of nature do not prevent it.
(Yemelyanenkov) The Russian nuclear scientists, as you said, have their "finger on the pulse" here. Could you explain what is behind that vague expression?
(Mikhaylov) Only in the most general terms. Work on developing weapons based on new principles of the use of nuclear energy has certainly taken place in our country too. And we know very well that there is no limit here, just as in any sphere of science and technology. Recent times have shown that they are following in our wake on these matters, including penetrating ultra-low-...
(Yemelyanenkov) "They" meaning the United States?
(Mikhaylov) Yes. Until approximately 1955 the Americans were ahead of Russia in the sphere of developing nuclear weapons. But after 1955 we not only caught up but overtook them significantly...
(Yemelyanenkov) In quantitative or qualitative terms?
(Mikhaylov) Qualitative too. And that is why they hang on our every word...
(Yemelyanenkov) Is there anything analogous to your Institute of Strategic Stability in the United States? Or some other body that you are in contact with?
(Mikhaylov) There is nothing analogous as such. And I do not know that anyone has expressed a desire to make contact with us...
(Yemelyanenkov) But who keeps the "finger on the pulse" over there -- who monitors questions of maintaining strategic stability?
(Mikhaylov) I think this is done by the State Department and Defense Department. Apart from that, all their nuclear laboratories, including Livermore, Los Alamos, and Sandia, are attached to universities. Which is not the case with us. And the scientific community helps a lot there... The special issues belong, of course, to the Defense Department, State Department, and Energy Department but the scientific part is "cooked up" in the universities...
(Yemelyanenkov) But you also combine the post of director of the Institute of Strategic Stability with the potential offered by being scientific leader of the federal nuclear center at Sarov, the oldest in Russia, which is widely known abroad. Indeed, the baton of scientific leader of the Research Institute of Experimental Physics passed to you directly from (the Institute's celebrated head) Academician (Yuliy) Khariton...
(Mikhaylov) Yes. And I'm very proud of that. From his own hands, in his lifetime. Yuliy Borisovich signed with his own hand the letter that the scientists at Arzamas-16 sent to President Boris Yeltsin asking him to appoint me scientific leader... That was in 1992. And until 1996, right up until Academician Khariton's death, we used to meet regularly. It is a great honor to me that I became scientific leader of the Research Institute of Experimental Physics in his lifetime, that he recommended me, and nobody else. In a sense, this was an appraisal of my scientific activity...
(Yemelyanenkov) It will soon be the 100th anniversary of Yu.B. Khariton's birth. How are they planning to mark that date in Sarov?
(Mikhaylov) The management of the Institute and the city authorities are in charge of this. As I understand it, there will be a special session of the scientific and technical council. They are expecting a delegation from the Ministry of Atomic Energy headed by the present Minister Aleksandr Rumyantsev. After the council session there are to be scientific readings in memory of Academician Khariton and a bust of him will be unveiled close to the city's Scientists' Institute... (Mikhaylov's answer ends)
Philosophy Of the Strong Claw
The Sarov celebrations to mark the centennial of Yu.B. Khariton, the scientific leader of this nuclear center for many decades continuously, will take place in late February-early March. But tomorrow, 12 February, is the 70th birthday of the current leader of the Russian Federation Nuclear Center -- Research Institute of Experimental Physics, my interviewee Viktor Nikitovich Mikhaylov. And toward the end of our meeting I could not resist asking him a question I had prepared earlier.
(Yemelyanenkov) When it was decided to reissue your book "I Am a Hawk (Ya -- Yastreb)," did the idea of changing the title not occur to you?
(Mikhaylov) No! It never occurred to me. Because a hawk is a wonderful bird. Throughout the world, that is what they call people who spend their whole lives defending their country's borders.
(Yemelyanenkov) But it is a predator, it finds a victim and attacks...
(Mikhaylov) And doesn't man attack?! Is he not a predator? People are always killing wild animals to make a fur hat or coat. And more than that, it is characteristic of man to kill his own kind -- what a rare species! In nature you do not often find creatures killing even the young that are not from their own brood.
(Yemelyanenkov) Is this connected with your present work? With the attempts to construct a philosophy of nuclear weapons? Or, as it says on the flyleaf of your new book -- a "philosophy of a stable peace"...
(Mikhaylov) Yes, it is directly connected. All these years, beginning with perestroyka, I have been trying to comprehend why people try to slander us and reject us. I have been trying to comprehend the reasons for the negative sentiments with regard to everything that we have done and are doing. We are defending the country, the Motherland -- what's the problem? Are we doing evil? Are we ruining anyone? I have shown that in the days when the average wage in industry was 200 rubles everyone with a job was paying one ruble a month to the nuclear weapons complex. Destroying very many things in the period of perestroyka and reforming them did not make us any richer. On the contrary, we are impoverished. We made other people rich. They are like leeches, like bloodsuckers on the body of the state. We have seen them: One buys Chelsea (soccer club; reference to oligarchic Roman Abramovich), another buys Faberge eggs (reference to businessman Viktor Vekselberg)...
(Yemelyanenkov) It has been promised that the Faberge collection will be returned to Russia and put on exhibition...
(Mikhaylov) Well, so he will exhibit it. But you won't get into the exhibition for free. And it will still be his property. He did not give it to the state -- it is still a private collection whose fate will depend on the whim of his heirs... (interview ends)
That always happens at my meetings with Viktor Mikhaylov -- they only distantly resemble interviews, basically they turn into arguments. And the man who ostentatiously numbers himself among the ranks of our feathered friends cannot, even in his thoughts, tolerate any other outcome to the duel than his own victory. Magnanimously shaking my hand in farewell, he holds the battlefield.
Moscow, Feb. 16. (PTI): A group of future operators of Kudankulam atomic power plant, to be constructed by Russia in Tamil Nadu, have begun undergoing training in one of the Russian nuclear plants.
Indian personnel is undergoing training at Kalinin atomic power plant in the town of Udomlya in neighbouring Tver region, according to ITAR-TASS.
"Ahead of the commissioning of the plant in 2008, the whole personnel of Kudankulam atomic power plant is to undergo training and practice in Russia to master the art of safely operating nuclear power plants, Russian nuclear power corporation sources said.
The 3-rd unit of Kalinin N-plant is similar to the first unit of Kudankulam plant with new generation light-water VVER-1000 nuclear reactor, under construction by Russia in India.
On the basis of 1988 protocol signed by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, India and Russia entered into contract for the construction of Kudankulam nuclear-plant in November 2001 during Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's Moscow visit.
2. Bush's New Initiative May Scuttle Indo-Russian Nuclear Co-Operation
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US President George W Bush's new Proliferation Security Initiative may scuttle the ongoing Indo-Russian cooperation under which Moscow is building the Kudankulam nuclear power plant and puts a question mark on such future projects, an influential Russian daily has said.
"Moscow has just to stop and think. For instance, Russia supplies nuclear fuel to India. But India not only enriches nuclear fuel itself but also possesses nuclear weapons, though it has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty," the 'Nezavismaya Gazeta' daily said.
"So if the US President's ideas are implemented, Russia will have to cease peaceful atomic cooperation with India, letting alone Iran," it said.
Under the deal with the ex-Soviet Union in 1988, Russia is building Kudankulam nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu which would have two 1000 MW light water reactors. Moscow is also to supply nuclear fuel for it in the coming two decades.
Talking to a news agency on conditions of anonymity, official sources here did not 'hypothetically' rule out interception of supplies for the power plant on the high seas by the US or allied warships if Bush's new initiative comes into force.
Diplomatic sources here also share this apprehension.
However, they hoped that within the ongoing strategic dialogue, India could resolve the issue amicably with the US.
Though, Moscow is yet to formally articulate official stance on Bush's initiative, earlier, it had made clear that Russia would be guided by national interests while subscribing to anti-proliferation steps mooted by US.
1. General Staff Praises Pyotr Veliky Shipboard Missile Shooting At Ballistic Targets
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SEVEROMORSK, FEBRUARY 17 (RIA Novosti) - General Staff chief Anatoly Kvashnin has praised the first Pyotr Veliky shipboard missile shooting at ballistic targets.
As Vladimir Putin conducted a session at the Northern Fleet's control center, with the participation of Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov and Navy Commander-in-Chief Vladimir Kuroyedov, Anatoly Kvashnin used a video link-up from Moscow to report to the supreme commander about the exercises.
The task of linking anti-aircraft defense and anti-missile defense was set for the first time, said Kvashnin, adding that the performance met highest standards.
The exercises that have been on for a week, were staged for strategic purposes, said Kvashnin.
Under the scenario, an imitation enemy embarked on armed hostilities at midday Moscow Time on February 17 with the purpose of undermining Russia's defense potential, damaging governance and overtaking superiority in the air.
The exercises have been staged to train troops control, the transfer of the armed forces into the lines of military activities and practical matters of anti-air and anti-missile defense.
It was for the first time that missiles were shot at ballistic targets from aboard the Pyotr Veliky. "This event was a success," said Kvashnin.
The chief of the general staff also reported that strategic aviation, that is TU-95 bombers, fired two cruise missiles later eliminated by the interceptor MIG-31.
"As regards the naval part of the exercises, the forces have accomplished their mission," said the chief of the general staff.
"The exercises are proceeding in normal mode," he added.
2. North Russia Becomes Theater For Strategic Command Training
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MOSCOW, February 17 (Itar-Tass) - The northern areas of Russia have become the main theater for the second phase of strategic command-and-staff training (SCST) of this country's Armed Forces.
President Vladimir Putin, who arrived in Severomorsk on Monday, boarded the heavy guided-missile submarine cruiser Arkhangelsk and went to sea, will watch the exercises.
Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov, for his part, is busy checking the preparedness of the Northern Fleet forces for the accomplishment of the assigned training-and-combat missions. He is monitoring on the spot the actions of the troop control agencies and verifying the credibility of the calculations of the command of strategic nuclear forces for the use of their individual units and elements in the interests of the country's security.
When at the Plesetsk cosmodrome, the Minister of Defence will direct the training-and-combat launchings of sea- and land-based ballistic missiles. The missiles will be launched by Northern Fleet submarines in submerged positions as well as from a silo at Baikonur cosmodrome.
It is also planned that during the SCST, strategic bombers Tu-160 andTu-95MS will accomplish training-and-combat missions with the launching of cruise missiles over Russia's northern areas.
The Strategic Missile Forces will carry out several training-and-combat launchings of mobile-based intercontinental ballistic missiles Topol and silo-based Stiletto ones. A carrier rocket Molniya-M with a Cosmos military satellite is also to be launched.
Anatoly Kvashnin, Chief of the General Staff, exercises direct supervision over the SCST while general supervision is assigned to Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov.
In accordance with the START-1Treaty, the US Department of Defence has been notified about the commencement of Russia's strategic command-and-staff training exercises.
3. Northern Fleet Exercises Envisaged Imitation Missile Launches Only
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SEVEROMORSK, FEBRUARY 17 (RIA Novosti) - Vladimir Kuroyedov, Russian Navy Commander-in-Chief, said that Northern Fleet exercises provided for only shipboard imitation missile launches from the Novomoskovsk nuclear submarine cruiser.
"Imitation launch is just an electronic firing of a missile without its practical silo discharge. In other words, a missile goes through all the arrangements for take-off and, finally, a imitation launch without being let out from its silo," he added.
Asked to comment on media allegations about some accidents, Vladimir Kuroyedov said, "I usually do not comment on rumors, though my statement now will be 'the work has been accomplished without any accidents'." "Ballistic firing was reduced to imitation launch, which was effected by the submarine twice - in two different regions. This is what we could observe," said Kuroyedov.
President Vladimir Putin observed the exercises.
The press service of the Northern Fleet reports about the exercises held in normal mode.
According to information available to RIA Novosti, the submarine K-407 "Novomoskovsk" has a brilliant "missile" past. In 1991, it was the world's only submarine that launched 16 ballistic missiles at an interval of several seconds and all of them hit their targets successfully.
In 1996, the Novomoskovsk, together with the K-447 submarine, fired a batch of ballistic missiles.
It was for the first time in history that in 1998 the Novomoskovsk made the shipboard launch of two artificial earth satellites.
4. Northern Fleet Uses Modernized Missiles In Naval Games
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MOSCOW, FEBRUARY 17 (RIA Novosti) - In today's exercise, the Northern Fleet was shooting updated missiles on ballistic targets. President Vladimir Putin was watching.
Our informants described the exercise as one of crucial events on current naval games in Russia's north. The experiment was great success, report officers of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces and the Defense Ministry.
The Russian military has begun a strategic exercise heralded as the biggest since Soviet times. Nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles will be fired from land and from a nuclear submarine in the Barents Sea; strategic bombers will fly simulated combat missions and fire long-range cruise missiles; Army, Air Force, Navy and airborne conventional forces will also be involved.
It is expected that President Vladimir Putin will travel the several hundred meters from the Kremlin to the General Staff and Defense Ministry building on Arbatskaya Ploshchad. There, from the crisis room of the armed forces' central command post, Putin will personally authorize the launch of one or more nuclear ICBMs at Russia's potential "enemies." The exercises will end in a resounding victory that will repel the "aggressors." Footage of Putin at the helm as commander-in-chief may well be used as electioneering fodder.
The war game is very Soviet in style and content, acting out a possible confrontation with the United States and its allies. Putin constantly states that Russia has chosen the path of democracy and market economic reforms, so why spend money preparing to fight a nuclear war with Western democracies and why suddenly this year? Does it reflect a sudden deterioration in relations with the West?
In fact, similar strategic exercises have been held year after year. The need to test-fire ICBMs is technical and does not in itself reflect anything.
The nuclear forces are armed with very old ICBMs: Some have been in service in underground silos for over 27 years. Russia officially has 728 land-based and 472 sea-based ICBMs. New land-based SS-27 (Topol-M) ICBMs are produced at a rate of approximately six per year. An undisclosed number of older-version SS-25 (Topol) and sea-based ICBMs has also been produced recently, but informed sources say no more than 10 to 20 per year.
The number of ICBM replacements is inadequate. Each year the ICBM inventory is getting older and older. The life span of most Russian ICBMs, as guaranteed by their producers, has long expired.
To ensure that the nuclear strategic deterrent is still credible, each year some of the oldest ICBMs need to be test-fired to show the world that they can still fly and hit their target. Last year, an 18-year-old land-mobile SS-25 was successfully launched from the Mirny launch pad in the north, near Plesetsk. The dummy warhead successfully hit its target at the Kamchatka missile-receiving facility.
A 27-year-old SS-18 and an SS-19 were extracted from silos, transported to Kazakhstan and launched in the direction of Kamchatka from silos at the Baikonur space center. (Russia does not launch liquid-fuel ICBMs from silos on its territory because debris containing highly poisonous "geptil" fuel may fall on populated areas.)
If a test firing of an aging ICBM is successful, the warranted life span of all the other ICBMs of the same class is extended by a year. Typically, one of the oldest ICBMs of a class is launched each year. If the launch fails or there are serious problems, it is repeated. Every year, the test should be repeated in any case.
The current test-firing routine began in the 1990s. In Soviet times, aging ICBMs were simply replaced by new ones, and the test pads at Mirny and Baikonur were busy testing new missiles. Sometime in 1994, a military chief told me that since they had to fire the ICBMs anyway and spend the money, they decided to organize a strategic exercise with a simulated nuclear war, in which they would test submarine ICBMs and cruise missiles.
That is how it has been now for a decade. In 1996, an election year, Boris Yeltsin used the occasion to pose as commander-in-chief in the crisis room at Arbatskaya Ploshchad. This year Putin may do the same thing. This year's exercise will also have the staffs of conventional forces simulating war activities, but not many real soldiers will be involved.
The main point of the exercise is to test aging ICBMs and bombers and the war-game scenario is also antiquated, involving the West (the United States) as the potential foe.
The military is caught in a time warp: Its hardware is old, its strategic ideas are outdated, it does not want to change nor does it seem able to -- irrespective of what happens politically in Russia or the world.
Now Putin has announced that some SS-19s will be in operation until 2030 and that they will be test-firing them each year. It's not a good omen.
Pavel Felgenhauer is an independent defense analyst.
MOSCOW (AP) - A technical glitch thwarted the launch of Russian ballistic missiles in the Barents Sea on Tuesday during naval maneuvers overseen by President Vladimir Putin, who watched the massive exercise while decked out in naval officer's garb aboard a nuclear submarine.
The failed launch - part of an exercise described as the largest show of Russian military might in more than 20 years - marred an event apparently aimed at playing up Putin's image as a leader attempting to restore the country's military power and global clout.
Putin, who is expected to easily win the presidential election March 14, went to the Barents Sea on board the giant Arkhangelsk submarine to observe maneuvers set to involve numerous missile launches and flights of strategic bombers.
But the ambitious exercise hit a snag when a ballistic missile - a missile that is launched on a high-arch trajectory to hit a designated target - failed to blast off as scheduled from another submarine, the Novomoskovsk, a government official said on condition of anonymity. The official said the automatic safety system blocked the launch for unspecified reasons.
A Defense Ministry spokesman refused to comment. And Russian state-run television channels, which are lavishly covering the daily activities of Putin ahead of the election, did not report the failed launch.
But the event became a hot topic for Russian analysts and military figures.
``The failed launch has shown the gap between the real condition of the Russian military and the ambitions and muscle-flexing of the Russian leadership,'' said Yevgeny Volk, the head of the Heritage Foundation's Moscow office.
Retired Capt. Igor Kurdin, who in the early 1990s served as captain of the Novomoskovsk, said a technical problem or a crew mistake might have caused the failure.
``It's very annoying that it happened in front of the commander in chief,'' Kurdin, who did not witness the exercise, told The Associated Press. ``I'm sure that the crew was getting ready for the launch very thoroughly in such circumstances.''
There were differing accounts of what happened.
The Interfax and ITAR-Tass news agencies said the Novomoskovsk had been scheduled to launch two RSM-54 missiles in succession at a practice target on the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia's Far East.
They quoted an unidentified Northern Fleet officer as saying a satellite signal blocked the missile launch from Novomoskovsk, a Delta IV-class submarine.
An online news outlet, gazeta.ru, said the missile suffered an engine failure and disintegrated immediately after its launch.
Despite earlier official statements about the scheduled launch, the Russian navy's chief, Adm. Vladimir Kuroyedov, was shown later on NTV television insisting the navy had planned only imitation ``electronic'' launches, both of which he said were performed successfully.
Putin boarded the Arkhangelsk late Monday, putting on naval officer's garb complete with white scarf and gloves. He inspected the ship, discussed the exercise's plan with the top brass and dined with the crew.
``Putin likes playing these military games and donning uniforms,'' Volk said in a telephone interview. ``It was part of the election campaign, an attempt to win the military and nationalist votes.''
Putin visited another Northern Fleet nuclear submarine in April 2000, just about four months before the sinking of the Kursk nuclear submarine in the Barents Sea. That catastrophe killed all 118 men on board and cut into the Russian navy's prestige.
After returning to the Arctic base, Putin traveled to the northern launch pad of Plesetsk. There, he was expected to watch the launch of a Topol intercontinental ballistic missile, the Kommersant newspaper reported Tuesday.
The exercises, which began in late January, reached their peak Tuesday when 13 Northern Fleet ships and seven nuclear submarines, including the Arkhangelsk, went out to sea, practicing launches of air defense missiles, according to Channel One television. Several Tu-95 strategic bombers also participated, test-firing cruise missiles.
The Russian military has dismissed media reports that the exercises closely resemble Soviet-era simulations of an all-out nuclear war with the United States, saying the maneuvers are not directed against any specific country.
At the same time, the military said the exercises reflect Moscow's concerns about U.S. plans to develop new types of nuclear weapons. It has not said when the exercises will end.
A planned large-scale demonstration of the Kremlin's nuclear capability comes amid a surge of nostalgia for Soviet strength.
MOSCOW Engaged in its biggest nuclear military exercises in years, Russia prepared Monday to test-launch a series of ballistic missiles and deploy its heavy strategic bombing force in the far north in what President Vladimir V. Putin called an attempt to guarantee the world's "strategic security."
The Russian president boarded the Northern Fleet submarine Arkhangelsk and headed for the Barents Sea, where he will oversee the launch of a powerful missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead from deep beneath the northern sea, possibly as early as today.
Military officials said several ground-based ballistic missiles, air-launched cruise missiles and a military satellite also would be test-fired in the coming days as part of an operation clearly designed to remind the world that Russia remains a nuclear superpower.
"We should by no means behave in a way that makes the world fear us," Putin said last week. "The world should see our military power as an element of strategic security."
He said Russia has not held military exercises on such a scale in recent years due to lack of financing and preparedness, but pledged that the nuclear war games would not be the last.
"During Soviet times, the very factor of the Soviet Union, its power primarily that of its nuclear forces was a serious stabilizing factor, the one balancing power in the world," Putin said. "We need to maintain this power, and we will do it."
Worried over North Atlantic Treaty Organization expansion into Poland and the Baltics, Russia in recent months has adopted an increasingly firm military tone.
This month, Defense Minister Sergei B. Ivanov even hinted that Russia might be prepared to withdraw from the Conventional Forces in Europe pact, the continent's principal conventional arms control agreement, in response to what Russia sees as the West's failure to consider its concerns over enlargement of the alliance.
Moscow analysts say the military posturing reflects a Kremlin that is ready to adopt a tougher line toward the U.S. and the European Union. Many Russians believe their nation has little to show for the more conciliatory policies of Putin's first four years as president.
With Putin aiming for reelection next month, he no doubt is mindful that a majority of Russians in recent opinion polls say their greatest wish is to see their nation restored to its former status as a superpower. In a statement to his regional campaign managers last week, Putin echoed a similar sentiment, lamenting the demise of the Soviet Union as "a national tragedy on an enormous scale."
"I think that the ordinary citizens of the former Soviet Union and the post-Soviet space gained nothing from this. On the contrary, people have faced a huge number of problems," Putin said. But he added: "We cannot only look back and curse about this issue. We must look forward."
Perhaps reflecting a common view within the country's military establishment, former top Defense Ministry official Leonid Ivashov said Putin's role at the helm of the strategic exercises "is a solid manifestation that Russia is ready to adequately react to the expansion of NATO into areas close to Russian borders, and the aggressive conduct of the U.S. military machine in the world in general."
Ivashov, who is vice president of the Academy for Geopolitical Sciences, said the exercises "are not aimed at threatening anyone, but they are certainly a warning not to be missed by those in the West who adhere only to a policy of sheer military might."
In a meeting with reporters last week, Col. Gen. Yuri Baluyevsky, first deputy chief of the General Staff of the Russian armed forces, said neither the U.S. nor any other country would be targeted in the exercises. However, he also said the operation was prompted in part by American plans to develop low-yield nuclear weapons.
"They are trying to make nuclear weapons an instrument of solving military tasks, [to] lower the threshold of nuclear weapons use," Baluyevsky said, according to news agency reports. "Shouldn't we react to that, at least on the headquarters level? I'm sure that we should, and we are doing that."
Baluyevsky declined to disclose the flight routes of the strategic bombers but said the Pentagon had been informed. He called the exercises routine, comparable to test missile launches regularly carried out by the U.S.
Russian news reports said the exercises, parts of which got underway in January, would simulate conventional attacks, including terrorist assaults, on Russia from four sides at once, including outer space a frontier that almost by definition assumes the United States as an adversary.
Rossiyskaya Gazeta reported that Tu-160 bombers would fly to the northern Atlantic Ocean, while Tu-95MS bombers would fly over the Arctic region.
Alexander Golts, defense analyst for the journal Yezhenedelny, said the exercises involve a larger-than-usual number of strategic missile launches, most likely timed to coincide with the election campaign in which Putin is expected to easily secure a second term.
"Putin firing one strategic missile after another will look much more convincing than Putin taking part in televised campaign debates," he said.
"The Russian ruling elite finds it hard to come to terms with the idea that Russia is no longer equal to the United States in the way the Soviet Union was," he added.
"The only attribute that can support them in this wishful illusion is the strategic nuclear forces."
Times staff writer Sergei L. Loiko contributed to this report.
8. Russia: Nuke Cruiser Trains Missile Shooting In Barents Sea
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MOSCOW, FEBRUARY 17 (RIA Novosti) - The "Pyotr Veliky" (Peter the Great), heavy nuclear missile cruiser of the Northern Fleet, trained anti-aircraft missile shooting in the Barents Sea today, reports the Russian naval press service. Repulsion of conventional air attacks was part of strategic command and staff troops control exercises, underway along Russia's northern coast.
The cruiser crew trained to hit all kinds of air targets, ballistic missiles included, added the Russian Navy press service.
Today's exercise proved crew efficiency in timely spotting and hitting diverse targets to repulse attacks from the air and the space, Igor Dygalo, aide to the Commander of the Russian Navy, told RIA Novosti.
9. Russian Strategic Bombers' Cruise-Missile Launches Over
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MOSCOW, FEBRUARY 17. /RIA NOVOSTI / -- In a command-and-staff drill of the Russian air force, the involved Tu-95MS strategic bombers made two launches of cruise missiles, head of the air force press service Colonel Alexander Drobyshevski told RIA Novosti on Tuesday.
"The cruise missiles have hit the set targets on a proving ground in the north of Russia. The launches were held under complicated weather conditions", Colonel Drobyshevski said.
1. Russia, Vietnam Have Good Potentialities To Build Up Cooperation
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HANOI, February 16 (Itar-Tass) - Russia and Vietnam have favorable prospects and potentialities for enhancing interaction in every direction of bilateral cooperation, Russian Deputy head of Government Viktor Khristenko declared during his meeting with Vietnamese colleague Vu Khoan.
The two vice-premiers are the co-chairmen of the Russian-Vietnamese intergovernmental commission for trade, economic, scientific and technological cooperation.
Russia attaches great significance to the enhancement and further development of the time-tested reliable partnership relations with Vietnam. ï¿½We are interested both in the continuation of cooperation in all traditional directions, such as the oil and gas industry, power engineering and machine-building, and in the development of interaction in new directions,ï¿½ said Viktor Khristenko.
Among the most promising fields of bilateral partnership, he named nuclear power engineering and the sphere of telecommunications, in which two major projects will begin to be implemented within the next few years ï¿½ the construction of Vietnamï¿½s first nuclear power station and the launch of the Vinasat communications satellite.
According to Khristenko, Russia is interested in taking part in these projects and is ready to discuss with Vietnam all aspects related to these projects.
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. On September the 11th, 2001, America and the world saw the great harm that terrorists could inflict upon our country, armed with box cutters, mace and 19 airline tickets.
Those attacks also raised the prospect of even worse dangers, of terrorists armed with chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons. The possibility of secret and sudden attack with weapons of mass destruction is the greatest threat before humanity today.
America is confronting this danger with open eyes and unbending purpose. America faces the possibility of catastrophic attack from ballistic missiles armed with weapons of mass destruction, so we are developing and deploying missile defenses to guard our people. The best intelligence is necessary to win the war on terror and to stop proliferation. So we are improving and adapting our intelligence capabilities for new and emerging threats. We are using every means of diplomacy to confront the regimes that develop deadly weapons. We are cooperating with more than a dozen nations under the Proliferation Security Initiative, to interdict lethal materials transported by land, sea or air. And we have shown our willingness to use force when force is required. No one can now doubt the determination of America to oppose and to end these threats to our security.
We are aggressively pursuing another dangerous source of proliferation: black-market operatives who sell equipment and expertise related to weapons of mass destruction. The world recently learned of the network led by A.Q. Khan, the former head of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program. Khan and his associates sold nuclear technology and know-how to rogue regimes around the world, such as Iran and North Korea. Thanks to the tireless work of intelligence officers from the United States and the United Kingdom and other nations, the Khan network is being dismantled.
This week, I proposed a series of new, ambitious steps to build on our recent success against proliferation. We must expand the international cooperation of law enforcement organizations to act against proliferation networks, to shut down their labs, to seize their materials, to freeze their assets and to bring their members to justice.
We must strengthen laws and international controls that fight proliferation. Last fall at the United Nations I proposed a new Security Council resolution requiring all states to criminalize proliferation, enact strict export controls and secure all sensitive materials within their borders. I urge the Council to pass these measures quickly.
The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, one of the most important tools for preventing the spread of nuclear weapons, is undermined by a loophole that allows countries to seek nuclear weapons under the cover of civilian nuclear power programs. I propose that the world's leading nuclear exporters close that loophole. The Nuclear Suppliers Group should refuse to sell enrichment and reprocessing equipment and technologies to any state that does not already possess full scale, functioning enrichment and reprocessing plants.
For international rules and laws to be effective, they must be enforced. We must ensure that the International Atomic Energy Agency is fully capable of exposing and reporting banned nuclear activity. Every nation should sign what is called the Additional Protocol, which would allow the IAEA to make broader inspections of nuclear sites. We should also establish a special IAEA committee to focus on safeguards and verification. And no nation under investigation for proliferation violations should be able to serve on this committee or on the governing board of the IAEA. Governments breaking the rules should not be trusted with enforcing the rules.
Terrorists and terrorist states are in a race for weapons of mass murder, a race they must lose. They are resourceful -- we must be more resourceful. They are determined -- we must be more determined. We will never lose focus or resolve. We will be unrelenting in the defense of free nations, and rise to the hard demands of our dangerous time.
2. Russia: Between Europeanism and Atlanticism? (excerpted)
Center for European Security Studies
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Alexander Vershbow, U.S. Ambassador to Russia Center for European Security Studies, Winter Academy, Moscow, 2004-02-13
Developing separate capabilities would be prohibitively expensive and would hinder efforts to transform European militaries to meet the new challenges of the 21st century, including terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). When it comes to military capabilities, Europe has much farther to go to transform its military forces to meet the new challenges to security. In short, we need each other.
Which brings me to another major point, the changing security environment. If NATO's mission were restricted to safeguarding European security alone, then one might make the case - and many have - that NATO is no longer needed and that the Europeans can do this themselves. Under such a scenario, one might argue, Russia's interests would be purely European. Certainly, over the past half-century, and especially since the end of the Cold War, NATO and EU have brought a degree of peace, security and integration to Europe that makes the prospect of a new war between Europe and Russia almost unthinkable.
But new threats emanate from outside Europe. And when it comes to confronting these kinds of threats - for instance, in Afghanistan or in Iraq - some might argue that the United States thinks and acts more globally than Europeans. But, even if Russia sided with France and Germany during the Iraq war, this has in no way prevented U.S. cooperation with France and Germany on the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) or on reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan. Similarly, the United States and Russia continue to cooperate closely on such issues as North Korea and Iran (the latter in tandem with leading EU members).
NATO's challenge today is to counter these threats emanating from outside of Europe, whether we are talking about the threat of terrorism or the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Clearly, America and Europe have a common interest in working together to address these threats. These threats are global in nature and threaten the core values and security of our societies. What's more, no single country can deal successfully with them alone. This does not mean that the United States and Europe will always agree on tactics, or that situations will never arise when the United States concludes it must act alone if necessary. But there can be no doubt about our common interest in protecting ourselves from such threats.
Obviously, the changing security environment, in particular the geographic shift of danger from within Europe to areas on its periphery, also has enormous implications for Russia. As President Putin has said, terrorism and WMD proliferation are dangers for all civilized nations. In other words, the dangers facing Russia are the same as those facing NATO and the EU, or the United States and Europe. This once again can only lead to the conclusion that there is no need for Russia to have to choose between Atlanticism and Europeanism in confronting them.
The recognition of this is reflected in Russia's decision to join the NATO-Russia Council. And it justifies our references to the broader Euro-Atlantic Community of which Russia is a part. In short, the United States, Europe and Russia all have a common interest in working together to counter these threats. This explains why Russia has supported United States and NATO involvement in Afghanistan, as well as a temporary U.S. military presence in Central Asia in support of the war on terror. If NATO should decide to become involved in peacekeeping in Iraq, I hope that Russia would also agree to support that on the grounds that Iraq's long-term security and stability is also in Russia's interest.
If I had a complaint, it would be that, although Russia seems to agree on the importance of cooperation against the 21st century threats of terrorism and the proliferation of WMD, unfortunately it does not yet always fully appreciate the advantages of proactive cooperation in promoting stability to help prevent threats before they arrive. This is particularly true for the former Soviet republics on Russia's borders, where Russia has tended to view NATO's and the United States' interest in promoting stability in these regions as a threat to Russian interests. It is a case of zero-sum thinking - in which one's gain is automatically viewed as another's loss - instead of what we would call a win-win situation, in which all can benefit. I would argue that all these countries, and Russia itself, can benefit most by a cooperative approach that involves Russia, Europe, and the United States. We should work together to promote democratization and economic reform, together with regional cooperation against the full spectrum of threats - from terrorism to organized crime to infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS. This can be accomplished not only through NATO, the Partnership for Peace and the NATO-Russia Council, but also through the OSCE, EU mechanisms, and direct bilateral engagement.
3. USEC Megatons to Megawatts Program Advances U.S. Nuclear Nonproliferation Goals
(for personal use only)
Bethesda, MDï¿½In a major announcement earlier this week outlining his new seven-point plan to limit black market sale of nuclear material and equipment, President Bush referenced the successful Nunn-Lugar Act of 1991, which directed the United States to secure and eliminate nuclear materials in the former Soviet Union.
Over the past 10 years, one unique and exciting U.S.-Russian program has eliminated 200 tons of Russian weapons-grade uranium -- equivalent to 8,000 nuclear weapons. Better still, this material is being recycled into fuel for U.S. nuclear power plants, enough to power a large U.S. city for nearly 300 years. The program, Megatons to Megawatts, is implemented by a publicly traded, Bethesda, Maryland-based company called USEC Inc. (NYSE: USU). USEC is the world's leading supplier of enriched uranium fuel for commercial nuclear power plants
The U.S. government designated USEC its exclusive executive agent responsible for this program. In coordination with its Russian partners, USEC purchases the fuel and markets it to its utility customers. Megatons to Megawatts is continuing through 2013, with an additional 300 metric tons of Russian warhead material -- equal to 12,000 warheads -- expected to be recycled into fuel.
Wednesday evening (February 11), former Sen. Sam Nunn, speaking on national television (Charlie Rose, PBS), said the U.S. purchase of Russian warhead-derived uranium, more than any other proposed by President Bush, should become his No. 1 priority in the battle to halt nuclear proliferation and urges the President to meet with Putin quickly to accelerate the program.
For more information on Megatons to Megawatts, please contact, Mr. Philip Sewell, senior vice president, at USEC Inc. at (301) 564-3305.
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