1. U.S.-Russian HEU Deal Remains on Track Despite Breakup of Russian Atomic Energy Ministry
Global Security Newswire
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WASHINGTON ï¿½ Russiaï¿½s elimination of its Atomic Energy Ministry as part of a massive government reorganization will not affect an agreement with the United States to convert highly enriched uranium from Russian warheads to civilian use, sources said this week (see GSN, Jan. 16).
Earlier this month, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced he would reassign the ministryï¿½s activities to other cabinet-level departments during a reshuffling that saw the number of Russian ministries cut almost by half (see GSN, March 10). Under the new governmental structure, expected to be finalized within a few months, nuclear activities will be handled by the Federal Atomic Energy Agency, which will be part of a new Industry and Energy Ministry.
ï¿½In our rights we may not be the successor of Minatom [the Atomic Energy Ministry], but in our functions that is what we are,ï¿½ agency Director Alexander Rumyantsev, who formerly headed the Atomic Energy Ministry, said Monday during a press conference in Moscow.
According to Matthew Bouldin of the Russian-American Nuclear Security Advisory Council, three approaches are being considered for the final delineation of control over various Russian nuclear activities. In one approach, the new atomic energy agency could directly transfer defense-related nuclear activities to the Defense Ministry. Another approach being considered is for the Industry and Energy Ministry and the Defense Ministry to have ï¿½dual jurisdictionï¿½ over the new agency ï¿½ an approach similar to the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration, Bouldin told Global Security Newswire today. He also said that a ï¿½bureaucratic influenceï¿½ approach might also be implemented, under which the Defense Ministry would have ï¿½more influenceï¿½ over the atomic energy agency.
It remains ï¿½up in the airï¿½ as to which approach will be used, said Bouldin, who is set to release today a paper on the nonproliferation aspects of the new Russian government reorganization. He added, though, that he expected some combination of the three to be implemented.
While some experts have raised concerns that the reorganization could complicate U.S.-Russian nonproliferation efforts, both U.S. and Russian sources said that one such effort ï¿½ the ï¿½Megatons to Megawattsï¿½ project ï¿½ will be unaffected.
The Megatons to Megawatts program took effect in 1994, aiming to remove 500 metric tons of highly enriched uranium from Russian nuclear weapons for conversion to civilian nuclear power plant fuel by 2013. As the program reached its halfway point this year, it has eliminated the equivalent of 8,000 nuclear warheads and has provided enough nuclear fuel to power a city the size of Boston for about 300 years, according to the U.S. Enrichment Corp. (USEC), the U.S. commercial agent for the program.
Rumyantsev said Monday that the Megatons to Megawatts contract is being fulfilled ï¿½like clockwork.ï¿½
Similarly, USEC does not see the program being hindered by the Russian government restructuring, company spokesman Charles Yulish told GSN today. He said he was ï¿½quite confidentï¿½ the program would continue unabated, noting that the Russian governmental reorganization would leave the same people and agencies in charge of the effort there. In addition, Russia is proud of the programï¿½s success to date and receives about $500 million per year from the effort, Yulish said.
One unresolved question, however, is how the proceeds from the Megatons to Megawatts program will be used, according to Bill Hoehn, director of the RANSAC Washington office. Previously, a ï¿½substantial amountï¿½ of the funding received through the effort was transferred back to the Atomic Energy Ministry for use in consolidating the Russian nuclear weapons complex and to redirect some of its workforce, Hoehn told GSN today.
1. Soviet Nuclear Briefcases Not a Myth ï¿½ Expert
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Portable nuclear weapons really did exist in Russiaï¿½s armed forces, the former head of the Russian Strategic Forces, Colonel-General Victor Yesin, said in an interview published by the Newsru.com web site. But while the ï¿½nuclear briefcases", as they were known, are not a myth, there is no chance of them getting into the wrong hands, he said.
According to the nuclear weapons expert, the devices were first created in the United States in 1964, where they were known as Special Atomic Demolition Munitions (SADM), weighed about 70 kilograms and numbered about 300.
The Soviet Union created similar compact special purpose nuclear weapons, or ï¿½special mines", in 1967, but fewer than in the United States.
As for the possibility of these weapons being stolen or falling into the wrong hands, Yesin said it is non-existant. ï¿½I am 100 percent certain that this is impossible,ï¿½ he said in an interview given to a correspondent of the Yezhenedelny Zhurnal weekly. ï¿½Special mines were stored in a single depot in the Ministry of Defense. These weapons were stored in an arsenal that was on the territory of the Russian Federation. And special mines from this arsenal were never given out to troops. This has been determined by expertise.ï¿½
General Alexander Lebed, the politician and presidential candidate who was killed in a helicopter crash in 2002, first sparked fears that the portable nuclear weapons could have gotten into the wrong hands in 1997. He claimed then that they numbered anywhere from 100 to 500, and even gave the serial number of a ï¿½nuclear briefcaseï¿½ that had allegedly been lost.
Later the Russian ecologist Alexei Yablokov said that about 700 compact nuclear mines existed in the Soviet Union, where they were developed for use exclusively by KGB agents. He gave this information before a U.S. Congressional committee.
Meanwhile, Stanislav Lunev, a former agent for Russiaï¿½s Central Intelligence Directorate living in the United States since 1992, also testified before the U.S. Congress in 1998 that he had been given orders to plant these mines, which to him looked more like refrigerators than briefcases.
Citing numerous examinations of arsenals where these special mines have been stored, Yesin denied in his interview that something like this was possible. However, he said that identical dummy heads could have sparked the controversy.
ï¿½Plaster casts filled with sand that were identical to the special mines were used in training operations,ï¿½ Yesin explained. ï¿½These casts may have been stolen after the collapse of the Soviet Union.ï¿½
1. Chechen Rebel Leader Publishes Threats To Kill Russians Outside Country
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MOSCOW ï¿½ The Chechen rebel leader threatened on Tuesday to strike Russians outside the country to avenge the killing of a senior rebel leader in Qatar.
Shamil Basayev also said the rebels fighting for independence from Russia reserved the right to use chemical weapons, according to a letter published Tuesday on a rebel Web site.
Basayev accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of ignoring Basayev's earlier call for Russian authorities to observe international law in Chechnya ï¿½ specifically to end to alleged executions without trial and the disappearance of civilians ï¿½ in return for an end to Chechen terrorist attacks against civilians in Russia.
Instead, Basayev charged, Russians killed rebel leader Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev in a February car bombing in Qatar ï¿½ for which two Russian intelligence agents are in custody there awaitng trial ï¿½ and continued to abduct civilians in Chechnya and the neighboring Russian region of Ingushetia.
"What Russians can do we can too," Basayev said in the letter published on the Kavkaz Center Web site, which has been a voice for his rebel camp.
"I swear to Allah, we have possibilities to destroy Russians in practically any country, but we had not carried military activities beyond the borders of Russia and today the events in Qatar will be decisive in our further activities," he wrote.
Basayev said his rebels would not touch mosques, synagogues, pagodas and churches other than Russian Orthodox ones, nursery schools, orphanages or psychiatric institutions in Russia, but he did threaten attacks within Russia.
"We will, to the extent possible, bomb, blow up, poison, set ablaze, and organize natural gas explosions and fires on everything else on Russian territory," he said.
Basayev also alleged that Russian forces were using chemical weapons and poisons against Chechens.
"That is why we reserve the right to use chemical and toxic substances and the same poisons against Russia," he said.
Russia's Federal Security Service refused to comment on the letter.
Basayev has taken responsibility for many terrorist acts, including the rebels' seizure of some 800 hostages in a Moscow theater in October 2002 and a recent series of suicide bombings in Moscow and other cities.
In early 1995, shortly after Russian forces entered Chechnya for the first war, Basayev claimed responsibility for a container of radioactive material found buried in a Moscow park. Basayev claimed it was planted by his cohorts as a warning of the mayhem they could inflict.
The current war in Chechnya, which began in 1999, has deteriorated into a bloody stalemate with Russian forces unable to decisively crush the outnumbered and outgunned rebels.
In the previous 24 hours, four soldiers and two police died in rebel attacks and mine explosions, an official in the Moscow-backed Chechen administration said Tuesday on condition of anonymity.
The bodies of five men were discovered Tuesday in the basement of an abandoned house in the Chechen capital, Grozny, the official said. The men's bodies showed signs of torture, he said. All were dressed in civilian clothes.
Chechens living nearby told The Associated Press that the remains were discovered in a well and that a military vehicle had been seen there about a week ago, discarding several sacks. Residents said they were frightened to investigate out of fear the area was mined to keep them away.
RUSSIAN nuclear officials have turned to Scotland for help to keep weapons expertise out of the hands of rogue nations.
With thousands of nuclear weapons scientists facing unemployment in the aftermath of the ending of the Cold War, the British government is keen to ensure that they are not tempted to tout their skills on the open market.
Yesterday, a Russian delegation arrived in Rosyth as part of a week-long visit to Scotland to explore commercial alternatives based around the technical expertise of the nuclear scientists.
Vladimir Starosotnikov, representing the Federal Agency for Atomic Energy, said they were keen to see how Rosyth had adapted to the loss of submarine work to England.
"We have been facing problems since the beginning of the Nineties, when Russia was involved in the reduction of nuclear weapons," he said.
Mr Starosotnikov, the deputy head of the Atomic Industry Conversion Department, said that with thousands of workers facing redundancy, programmes had been started to create new jobs within the civil sector. About 15,000 jobs had already been created, he said, but more were needed.
"We are trying to do our best not to create a situation where people would want to leave the country," he said. "This visit contributes to some extent to improving the situation in Russia and avoiding those circumstances."
The Defence Diversification Agency, which acts as a go-between with industry to exploit the Ministry of Defenceï¿½s technology, research and science resources, is also heavily involved in the visit.
A spokeswoman, Antonia White, said the agency, set up in 1998 as an offshoot of the MoD, was keen to share its models for innovation with the Russians.
"We are diverting them from other activities that the West might not like as much," she explained. "There is so much knowledge sitting there that could be used to turn round the Russian economy."
Most of Russiaï¿½s nuclear weapons experts live in the Russian Federationï¿½s ten closed nuclear cities, a legacy of the old soviet system.
The cities were created to carry out the various stages of the design, manufacture and maintenance of nuclear weapons and were effectively sealed off from the outside world. The ten towns are home to a total of 770,000 inhabitants, of whom some 127,000 are employed in nuclear weapons-related activities.
The DTI believes the Closed Nuclear Cities Partnership between the UK and the Russian Federation - under which this weekï¿½s visit is taking place - can limit the spread of weapons of mass destruction by tackling the threats inherent in the nuclear legacy of the former Soviet Union.
In a statement it said: "Many of these are highly-skilled scientists and technicians, whose expertise could be extremely useful to states seeking to acquire the capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction.
"In addition, these people are responsible for managing the production, storage and disposal of a massive inventory of sensitive nuclear materials, which could pose a threat to humanity if they fell into the wrong hands."
The DTI said that one of the problems that had to be overcome was that, having worked for many decades for a single client in conditions of secrecy and isolation, the inhabitants and the institutions of the closed nuclear cities had been exposed to relatively little contact with commercial business practices.
Yesterdayï¿½s programme for the delegation involved a presentation from Fife Councilï¿½s Economic Development Service about the Rosyth ferry project, and meetings with representatives from the BAE Systems & Defence Technology Centre.
Although the visit is aimed at sharing information and business models, it is also expected to produce commercial opportunities which could lead to contracts with Scottish firms.
2. Nine Sister City Partnerships Awarded Sustainable Development Grants
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Nine sister city partnerships were awarded $45,000 in grant funds by Sister Cities International to fund joint projects focused on sustainable development in Eastern Europe and Eurasia.
The grants are funded and managed by the Office of Citizen Exchanges, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State.
The grant recipients are: (1) Arvada, Colo. - Kyzylorda, Kazakhstan; (2) Bloomington-Normal, Ill. - Vladimir, Russia, (3) Cambridge, Mass. - Yerevan, Armenia, (4) Eugene, Ore. - Irkutsk, Russia, and World Services of La Crosse, Inc., representing (5) Blount County, Tenn. - Zheleznogorsk, Russia, (6) Fox Cities, Wis. - Kurgan/Shchuchye, Russia, (7) La Crosse, Wis. - Dubna, Russia, (8) Livermore, Calif. - Snezhinsk, Russia and (9) Los Alamos, N.M. - Sarov, Russia.
Sustainable development is a key focus for the growing international organization, say organizers. "Engaging communities in projects that can be sustained for the long-term is important," said Tim Honey, executive director of Sister Cities International. The organization began a network focused on sustainable development two years ago to facilitate collaboration and share best practices.
Citizen exchanges will play a critical role in developing these projects. "Ordinary citizens can transcend cultural divides and unite across cultures to tackle a difficult problem together," said Honey. "Citizen diplomacy can be amazingly effective."
These are the first grants the network has awarded. A total of $45,000 will be distributed as $5,000 seed grants. Funded projects will tackle issues such as micro-financing, tourism development, economic development, government, youth education, health care and environmental management.
Arvada, Colo. and Kyzylorda, Kazakhstan will survey water management, power supply and community planning. The partners aim to develop an ongoing relationship that will design and help finance improvements to the water and power supply system in Kyzylorda through joint planning.
Bloomington-Normal, Ill. and Vladimir, Russia are working to develop tourism in Vladimir. They will assess and inventory existing tourism resources, compile a tourist market profile and develop a strategic plan for the Vladimir region.
Cambridge, Mass. and Yerevan, Armenia will develop school-based projects on energy efficiency in both communities to educate youth about sustainable development and focus on linking students from opposite sides of the globe. A childrenï¿½s summer camp will focus on environmental issues and provide training to help teachers expand the program in Yerevan.
Eugene, Ore. and Irkutsk, Russia will create an entrepreneurial partnership to sell native Siberian artwork in the Pacific northwestern region of the U.S. This project builds on previous art exchanges between the two communities and will help fund future exchange activities.
The final five sister city pairs - Blount County, Tenn. and Zheleznogorsk, Russia, Fox Cities, Wis. and Kurgan/Shchuchye, Russia, La Crosse, Wis. and Dubna, Russia, Livermore, Calif. and Snezhinsk, Russia and Los Alamos, N.M. and Sarov, Russia - funded through this program are part of a unique consortium called the Communities for International Development. Under the management of World Services of La Crosse, the consortium will sponsor exchanges to Russia to conduct planning sessions and develop a strategic plan addressing education, economic development, federalism, health and the environment.
Representing more than 2,400 communities in 123 countries, Sister Cities International is a citizen diplomacy network creating and strengthening partnerships between the U.S. and communities abroad. Begun in 1956 after a White House summit where U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower called for people-to-people exchanges, sister city partnerships are tailored to local interests and increase global cooperation at the grassroots level. Sister Cities International promotes peace through mutual respect, understanding and cooperation by focusing on sustainable development, youth and education, arts and culture, humanitarian assistance and economic growth programs.
The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State conducts over 30,000 exchanges annually, bringing professionals and academics to the United States as well as sending Americans abroad for study and research. The Bureau supports programs that promote respect and mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.
It is curious that President Bush's critics accuse him of a unilateral, highhanded foreign policy when, with some partial exceptions, the opposite is true. The president has patiently built an alliance in Asia to confront North Korea on its nuclear ambitions, and is cooperating -- at some risk -- with the lenient approach taken by the European Union and Russia in trying to curb Iran's. He has also created a new alliance, the Proliferation Security Initiative, to strengthen legal curbs and enforcement powers on trade in nuclear technology.
The latest instance of this openness to international cooperation came last week, when Mr. Bush played host to the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Egyptian diplomat Mohamed ElBaradei. Following his meeting with the president, Mr. ElBaradei told reporters Mr. Bush had pledged to work with his organization to further strengthen safeguards against nuclear proliferation.
"My suggestion to the president is that we need a good plan to clean up all this nuclear weapons-usable material that is all over the place," he told reporters. He also suggested new international rules that would discourage additional nations from creating uranium enrichment programs. Uranium enrichment is one path to creating nuclear weapons. Finally, he said that because of the nuclear black market run by Pakistani scientists, exposed when Libya decided to abandon its nuclear weapons program, United Nations members need to "revisit the export controls regime."
Mr. ElBaradei was but sounding an echo. Mr. Bush has been urging such steps for at least a year. The Proliferation Security Initiative was announced in May 2003, but had been under discussion with allies -- including France and Germany -- for some time. In an address to the United Nations in September, Mr. Bush called for the swift passage of a Security Council resolution calling on nations to criminalize proliferation activities, enact strict export controls, and secure sensitive materials that could be used to manufacture weapons of mass destruction.
Last month Mr. Bush, in a speech at the National Defense University, expanded his message. He called on industrialized nations to take cooperative steps to reduce and secure material, such as reprocessed plutonium and highly enriched uranium, by expanding programs pioneered by the United States under the Nunn- Lugar legislation, and extending them to nations beyond those of the former Soviet Union. He also proposed that the 40 nations belonging to the Nuclear Suppliers Group promise ready access to fuel for civilian nuclear energy programs to any nation that renounces the enrichment of uranium or reprocessing of plutonium, and refuse to sell enrichment or reprocessing equipment to any nation that does not already have a full-scale functioning enrichment or reprocessing program.
The fact is that Mr. Bush has seized international leadership on the vital issue of strengthening safeguards to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of rogue nations and terrorist groups -- a leadership position that has been bolstered, not weakened, by his decision to invade Iraq for failing to cooperate with U.N. disarmament demands. It is true that the invasion was opposed by some (not all) U.N. members, notably France and Russia, both of which were engaged in beneficial trade with Saddam Hussein's government. It is also notable, however, that France and Russia are cooperating with the United States on stopping the Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs, and that France is a leading member of the Proliferation Security Initiative. That's not something you'll hear from the president's critics, but it represents a significant diplomatic accomplishment.
1. U.S., Russian Officials Discuss Improvements to Nuclear Confidence-Building Measures
Global Security Newswire
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WASHINGTON ï¿½ Two Russian officials today wrapped up a week of meetings with their U.S. counterparts here on how to improve a system used by the two countries for the exchange of data required under the Strategic Arms Reduction treaties and other agreements (see GSN, March 4).
In a first-ever exchange, watch officers from Moscowï¿½s Nuclear Risk Reduction Center met with U.S. personnel from a parallel center housed in the State Department. U.S. watch officers are slated to visit Moscow next month and annual visits to each country are planned thereafter.
U.S. Nuclear Risk Reduction Center Staff Director Harold Kowalski, who has headed the U.S. operation since it began, said the meetings this week focused on how better to use, distribute and translate information exchanged by the centers.
The U.S. center handles up to 3,000 messages a year on nuclear matters, along with 15,000 communications on conventional weapons. The center has also begun communicating some Chemical Weapons Convention data, an activity Kowalski said is ï¿½just in the infant stages,ï¿½ with the center handling three or four messages weekly.
Kowalski also told reporters his center has been informally aiding nuclear rivals Pakistan and India in their bid to set up an arrangement similar to the U.S.-Russian Nuclear Risk Reduction Centers.
Created in 1988 by the United States and the Soviet Union, Nuclear Risk Reduction Centers now exist in Russia, the United States, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan. The centers are used for routine exchanges of information, most often regarding movements of missiles, Kowalski said.
ï¿½Itï¿½s been a very vanilla operation,ï¿½ he said.
America will ignore the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty
Disarmament is over. The United States is not going to cut its nuclear arsenals further, despite agreements with Russia. According to Lyndon Brooks of the Energy Department, who addressed the US Senate yesterday, America's nuclear arsenal is to be cut by "around two-thirds" by 2012, but "the reduction will not reach the level of between 1,700 and 2,200 warheads."
A figure of 1,700 to 2,200 warheads is specified by the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT), which Vladimir Putin and George W. Bush signed in Moscow on May 24, 2002. The Federation Council and US Senate ratified it a year later.
"The dramatic reduction demanded by the SORT is based on the assumption that Russia doesn't pose a direct threat to the United States," Brooks explained. "The past 15 years should have taught us, however, that we must not build our security upon a false conjecture that we can predict the future."
"Russian and American nuclear arsenals still have each other in their sights," said Sergei Oznobischev, director of the Strategic Evaluations Institute. "No matter what is said about the priority of the war on terrorism, neither terrorists nor problematic regimes can be handled by strategic arsenals."
The SORT doesn't require warheads to be dismantled. Brooks' statement indicates that if required, the United States will return its mothballed warheads to missiles. "Adequate number of nuclear warheads will be preserved against a potential situation where a more convincing deterrent is required," Brooks said.
As for Russia, it cannot count on the so-called return potential. "A substantial part of our strategic nuclear arsenal is becoming obsolete. It is difficult for Russia to maintain its nuclear potential at a rational level," Oznobischev said. He doesn't think that Russia can "persuade the United States to accept some additional limitations without commitments to a compromise in some other spheres Washington is interested in."
Quite unexpectedly, Russia and the United States reached a consensus in the UN Security Council and submitted a joint draft resolution on WMD nonproliferation. According to Deputy Foreign Minister Yuri Fedotov, "it boils down to prevention of the threat of WMD ending up in the hands of non-states, primarily terrorists." The resolution demands from all UN members (191 countries) additional legislative measures to prevent illegal turnover of WMD and their components. Secret negotiations on the text of the document took months. According to Fedotov, "Russia has done a lot to make the compromise possible." The draft resolution concurs with the strategic nonproliferation initiative George W. Bush proposed last year. That initiative calls for interception of suspicious cargoes and shipments throughout the world - an idea Moscow refuses to accept. Russia did not subscribe to the initiative, unlike 14 other countries (including seven G-8 states).
MOSCOW (AFP) Mar 25, 2004 Russia's defense minister Thursday repeated an earlier warning to NATO that he may order a build-up of the country's nuclear defenses should the US-led alliance continue to expand and take an unfriendly view of Moscow.
Sergei Ivanov said the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was following an aggressive strategy and treating Russia as a threat rather than a partner.
"If NATO continues to keep to its offensive military doctrine, then Russia's military planning and the principles of Russia's military procurement -- including in the nuclear sphere -- will be adequately reevaluated," the Interfax new agency quoted Ivanov as saying.
"Russia is carefully observing the process of NATO's transformation," said Ivanov, who is seen as one of President Vladimir Putin's closest political allies in government.
He said that some new NATO members both "directly and indirectly" display anti-Russian policies.
Russia and NATO have recently come to blows over the alliance's plans to station warplanes in the three Baltic states and former Soviet republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
All are due to formally join NATO on April 2. Russia had spent years fruitlessly trying to avert the expansion up to its borders and is growing increasingly concerned that the warplanes stationed in the Baltic region will spy on its defenses.
The State Duma lower house of parliament spent the day Thursday drafting a tough new resolution to be issued on the day of the expansion while senior diplomats said they mostly feared that NATO would only continue to grow.
"The majority of the population of our country sees NATO expansion as a threat to Russia," the Duma's security committee chief Vladimir Vasilyev told Interfax.
Meanwhile Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Chizhov said Russia was concerned because "this is not the first and obviously not the last wave."
The Russian defense minister's tough comments on potential nuclear weapons expansion Thursday are almost exactly the same that he made on October 2 in remarks that startled Western nations.
Russia and the United States signed a nuclear disarmament treaty in May 2002 aimed at slashing the size of the two country's "operationally deployed" arsenals by two-thirds over 10 years -- a deal aimed at sealing a new friendship between the two Cold War era foes.
But a senior US administration official said in Washington this week that the United States may use a loophole in the treaty to keep an unlimited number of warheads in storage.
And Ivanov has made repeated comments in recent months suggesting that Russia could be ready to reevaluate its own stance on that deal.
"Should NATO remain a military alliance with its current offensive military strategy, this will prompt a fundamental reassessment of Russia's military planning and arms procurement," said an internal document released by Russia's defense ministry in October.
Ivanov also reaffirmed his vow from that day that Russia reserved the right to preemptive strikes against other nations if it felt its security was under threat.
"We cannot absolutely rule out the use of preemptive force, if this serves either Russia's interests or is required by its obligations to allies."
1. Russian Official Calls On Iran To Keep On Cooperating With IAEA
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Moscow, March 30, IRNA -- Russia`s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Alexander Yakovenko here on Tuesday called on Iran to continue its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Speaking to reporters and in response to a question raised about the remarks made by the Head of Iran`s Atomic Energy Organization (IAEO) Gholamreza Aghazadeh on production of enriched uranium at a nuclear installation in Isfahan on a trial basis within a few days, he said that the issue has been examined by the Russian Foriegn Ministry.
"Given that no formal information has been porvided by Iran to this effect, it would be hard to make any comments on the issue. But in any case, Russia would support Iran-IAEA cooperation. "IAEA will see to it that the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is fulfilled and if Iran doesn`t take any step against it, Russia would certainly welcome such collaboration," he added. Yakovenko noted that fortunately Iran has signed the NPT and would comply with it.
Concerning Russia`s approach towards Georgia`s parliamentary elections, he told IRNA that in view of its great significance to Russia, the process is closely followed up.
"The primary results show that election has been held without any violation of laws.
The official further castigated the expansion of NATO and its acceptance of new members.
Referring to the move as obsolete, he said that it does neither suit the requirements of the present era nor the new level of Russia-NATO ties.
"Russia`s approach to the issue is to be be brought up at the informal meeting of NATO-Russia joint council on Friday," he added. Condemning the terrorist acts in Uzbekistan, he concluded, "The recent measures once more proved that terrorism does not recognize any border, religion and politics."
1. Russia Doing Much For North Korea Talks: Chinese Ambassador
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MOSCOW, MARCH 30 (RIA NOVOSTI) - China greatly appreciates Russian contribution to negotiations on North Korea, Liu Guchang, Chinese Ambassador to Russia, said to a news conference.
"China and Russia are coming out in close contact on the international scene. Talks on the North Korean nuclear issue are no exception," he added.
Russia is in duty bound, and has every opportunity, to be prominent in solving the problem. That has been the Chinese opinion ever since the negotiation started.
Thanks to Sino-Russian team efforts, the second round of the six countries' negotiations made a stride toward a nuclear-free status of the Korean Peninsula, stressed the diplomat.
With its active stance, Russia has been keeping in close contact with China, and persuading North Korea and the USA. The result is there for all to see - an accord has been achieved to set up an ad hoc team, and to coordinate a final negotiation document, said Mr. Liu as he highlighted Russian consent to offer energy supply guarantees to North Korea.
"We highly appreciate what Russia has done for successful negotiations, and we look forward to further cooperated efforts with Russia to come to peaceful settlement of the Korean nuclear issue," he said.
The negotiations on the North Korean nuclear issue involve North and South Korea, the USA, Japan, China and Russia. Beijing was hosting a second round in February 2004.
2. China Can Speed Up Korean Nuclear Problem Solution - Russian Diplomat
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BEIJING , March 26. (RIA Novosti). North Korea is ready to speed up preparations for setting up a working group which will be engaged in preparations for the third round of the six-party talks on overcoming the crisis around Pyongyang's nuclear problem.
First deputy foreign minister Valery Loshchinin said in an interview with RIA Novosti that he was informed about this by Chinese foreign minister Li Zhaoxing in the wake of latter's visit to North Korea.
Taking part in the six party talks are the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), South Korea, the USA, Russia, China, and Japan.
The Chinese side considers that the contacts that Li Zhaoxing had in Pyongyang on this problem were "very successful," Loshchinin said. He noted the importance of support by China for the dynamic line, which makes it possible to keep within the negotiating process on the Korean nuclear problem.
"Our Chinese partners are a kind of a locomotive capable of speeding up the solution of the nuclear problem on the Korean peninsula, and Beijing and we have full understanding on this problem. This contributes to the negotiating process," the diplomat said.
"And although it is too early to speak about achieving specific results, the most important thing is that the negotiating process is going on and we must go over the level of guarantees ensuring the security of North Korea, while simultaneously tackling the issues of the non-proliferation of the nuclear weapons,"Loshchinin said.
The first two rounds of the six-party talks took place in August of 2003 and in February of this year. The USA and North Korea failed to overcome their differences at them and agreed to set up a working group which will try to smooth sharp angles in the positions of the two sides in preparing a third round of the regional forum. The third round is supposed to be held in the summer of this year.
MOSCOW, MARCH 28, 2004. (RIA Novosti). On February 18 this, President of Russia Vladimir Putin was present at the launch of "Molnia" booster-rocket at the Plesetsk launching center and watched by the TV another launch - that of the RS-18 missile at the Baikonur testing ground. (Baikonur has been under lease by Russia from Kazakhstan for the term of 49 years).
Later on the President made a symbolic statement to the effect that Russian strategic missile forces would be equipped with the newest intercontinental missile complexes in the nearest future. These complexes are able to hit their targets in any part of any continent with the hypersonic speed, high accuracy and able to alter their initial flight pattern as far as the altitude and the course are concerned," stated the head of Russia. According to him no other country has such systems. "And this fact gives us every ground to assert that taking into consideration the already available defense means Russia guarantees its security for many years ahead," said President Putin.
The head of state did not rule out a probability of the creation of anti-missile defense system of Russia. "Antimissile defense system has being elaborated for decades. At some stage we can turn to creation of new antimissile systems," the head of state explained. He also stressed that this activity's main principals are military efficiency at a minimal cost.
"We will watch how other countries solve this problem, keeping our efforts at a constant pace," he said.
The President emphasized that "there are no aggressive intentions behind strengthening and modernization of the Russian armed forces. The only goal is to defend its citizens and to protect its national interests." Vladimir Putin has also said that Russia has neither imperial nor hegemonic ambitions.
"Russia has its national interests, and them she will protect and defend in juridical and economic ways as well as with the use of the razor-edged technologies," the President said.
According to him Russia together with its nuclear club partners bears responsibility for nuclear security. "At the same time our military potential should answer adequately today's challenges," the head of state said.
Russian President emphasised that the development of new and the modernisation of existing weapons in Russia are not intended against any country including the USA.
MOSCOW, March 28, 2004. (RIA Novosti). Russian modern weapons such as inter-continental strategic complexes with the ability of changing the original flight pattern on altitude as well as the course "overpass and make useless any Anti Missile Defense (AMD)." A high-positioned informant in the Russian Ministry of Defense disclosed this far.
According to him these newest strategic systems are "connected with future development of nuclear weapons in the world.
This is doubtfully a new, even a revolutionary step forward. The recent experiments taken during full-scale war games confirmed that it affects the whole philosophy of militaryategic interaction," the source added.
Russian strategic missile forces will be equipped with this up-to-date complex in the nearest future.
According to the source the new weapon is not kept under so much secret. The informant reminded that President Vladimir Putin told about this weapon while visiting Plesetsk launching grounds (to the south of the Archangelsk region - a vast area in the North of the European part of Russia.) "Let us see what the Americans will invent for their ADM system," he has said. According to him the "classified" label's life is rather short.
"With the present nuclear deterrence potential and with the new weapons systems nothing will threat Russia for a long time to come. It gives us the chance to assess the quality of the work done and its costs, and to choose and introduce the ADM system we think satisfy us," said the interlocutor.
According to him it is a well-considered policy in the sphere of strategy. "This will require certain expenditures but not as huge as some other countries have to make even before they know the outcome. These are very unsecured investments which we cannot afford. We will not do such things and without any damage to the defense potential of Russia at that," the source said.
3. Navy Shipyard Workers Have Not Received Salary Since September 2003
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The Northern Fleet trade unions sent a letter of protest to the Russian Chief Navy commander, TV Murman reported.
The trade union leaders are concerned with the situation at the navy shipyards in Polyarny and Roslyakovo on the Kola Peninsula. Social tensions rise among the workers due to the lack of salaries. They received the last wages in September last year. The total debt for the wages is about one million dollars at the Polyarny shipyard despite the fact that the workers fulfil the work in time and with good quality. The Defence ministry transfers the money for the repaired submarines in time; however, it does not reach the workers, TV Murman reported.
Most of the money is taken by the tax authorities to pay off the debt for the previous years. Similar situations at these two shipyards were in the end of 90ï¿½s marked by the mass protests. Today wage debts have reached $2m at the two plants, while the shipyardsï¿½ debts to the extra-budgetary and pension funds are $14m. The Northern Fleet trade unions demand Russian Chief Navy commander to pay for all fulfilled orders in 2004, TV Murman reported.
1. Nuclear Storage Facilities May Be Established In Two Russian Ports
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The Russian Nuclear Agency suggests to create facilities for radioactive waste and nuclear materials storage in the Finnish gulf (Ust-Luga) and in the Far East (Bolshoy Kamen).
The General Director of the new port in Ust-Luga near St Petersburg Valery Izrailit said that Ust-Luga port is on the list of the ports allowed to handle cargo of 7th class of hazard ï¿½ nuclear fuel. He said it would not be reprocessed fuel, but the fuel, which is not dangerous for the people. One can assume he meant fresh nuclear fuel for nuclear reactors.
The approximate price of the project is $20m. It is expected that the turnover of the 7th class of hazard cargo will not exceed 50 tons. At the moment export and import of the nuclear materials and radioactive waste is carried out through St Petersburg port and the local storage facility Izotop. In the beginning of March the Finnish parliament sent a request to its government regarding the Russian plans on using Ust-Luga port for nuclear materials temporary storage and transportation as well as influence of this activity on the environmental situation in the region. It is mention in the request that the Finnish authorities are not aware of the projectï¿½s details.
2. Japan, China Ready To Join Fast Reactor Project At Beloyarsk
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MOSCOW, March 24 (Itar-Tass) -- Japan and China are ready to participate in a project to build a fast BN-800 880 megawatt-reactor at the Beloyarsk nuclear power plant in Russia, the Russian nuclear power industry concern Rosenergoatom has said.
According to Rosenergoatom chief Oleg Sarayev nuclear scientists in the Western countries and Southeast Asia have shown great interest in Russian research into fast neutron reactors.
Rosenergoatom specialists have described as an indisputable advantage of fast reactors (breeders) the possibility of establishing a closed nuclear cycle. Such reactors produce no radioactive waste and make it possible to burn the waste accumulated so far.
Besides, such reactors are unable to produce an emergency situation capable of causing radioactive contamination of the environment.
Russiaï¿½s sole industrial fast reactor BN-600 has demonstrated flawless operation for a period of 24 years. Currently a fourth generation reactor BN-800 is under construction at the Beloyarsk nuclear plant.
After the project has been upgraded and recalculated, the costs may total 1.22 billion dollars, Sarayev said.
The new fast reactor is scheduled to go operational at the end of 2009.
The Rosenergoatom chief is certain that fast reactors will provide a stable energy source for humanity for several thousand years to come, whatever the demand.
3. Russia Bids for Bulgaria's Second N-Plant Construction
Sofia News Agency
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Russia will bid for the construction of second Bulgarian Nuclear plant at Belene, according to Russia's Deputy Minister of Nuclear Energy Vladimir Asmolov.
The new Bulgarian plant will be equipped with two VVER-1000 nuclear reactors, Russian news agency RIA Novosti informed.
The operating Bulgarian N-plant at Kozloduy has two Russian reactors of that type, decommissioned upon demand from the European Commission.
June is the deadline for selecting the technology for the Belene's N-units operation. Besides Russia's VVER-1000, the Bulgarian authorities have been offered the Canadian CANDU by the Canadian state company Atomic Energy of Canada (AECL).
Last year Bulgaria's Cabinet lifted the ban on the construction of Bulgaria's second nuclear plant. The project was shelved in 1992 after pressure from environmentalists.
4. Russia To Launch One New Power-Generating Unit A Year
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MOSCOW, March 24 (Itar-Tass) - Russia plans to make operational at least one new nuclear power-generating unit every year in the nearest future, deputy chief of the former Atomic Energy Ministry Vladimir Asmolov told Itar-Tass on Wednesday.
A third unit will be put on stream at the Kalinin nuclear plant this year, he said. At present, new control and safety systems of the unit are being tested in dry and hot runs.
The next step in building up the potential of the Russian nuclear power plants will see the completion of the construction of the fifth unit at the Kursk plant and its connection to the grid in 2005, he said.
Along with that, the construction of the second unit at the Volgodonsk nuclear plant is in progress and its launch is scheduled for 2006.
1. New Russian Nuclear Reactor A Danger To 4.5 Mln People: Ecologists
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MOSCOW (AFP) Mar 25, 2004 Russian ecologists on Thursday denounced the construction of a new nuclear reactor in the Urals region of Sverdlovsk as a danger to the surrounding region's 4.5 million inhabitants.
"The construction of the fourth reactor of the Beloyarsk power plant could provoke radioactive leaks of plutonium which could affect 4.5 million people," the Ecodefense green lobbying group said in a statement.
Russia is currently looking for foreign capital to finance the construction of the fast neutron reactor, which is due to be opened at the end of 2009.
Sources in Rosenergoatom, the state-run body that is responsible for nuclear facilities in Russia, said Wednesday that China and Japan and possibly the United States were ready to participate in the 1.2-billion-dollar project.
Ecodefense denied assertions by Rosenergoatom that the Beloyarsk nuclear power station had an exemplary safety record, saying that there had been 27 leaks -- including radioactive -- and 14 fires over the past 24 years.
In September 2000, the station's automatic shutdown system did not function because of a short circuit. "The reactor would have exploded if the staff had not shut it down manually," the organisation said, citing the local Federal Security Service (FSB, ex-KGB).
1. On the Submission by Russia and the US to the UNSC of a Draft Resolution on the Nonproliferation of WMD
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Daily News Bulletin
(for personal use only)
On March 24 Russia jointly with the United States submitted to the UN Security Council a draft resolution on the nonproliferation of WMD, their delivery vehicles and related materials. The draft had been prepared in the course of the intensive consultations held among the five permanent Council members.
Russia was among the initiators of the development of the resolution, as it proceeds from its principled line on combating the serious challenge of our time which the threat of the proliferation of WMD and their delivery vehicles is, "and the most dangerous thing," as President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin stressed at the 58th session of the UN General Assembly, "is if they get into terrorist hands."
The aim of the resolution is to strengthen international cooperation among the UN member states in combating the illegal WMU traffic. One of the tasks of the document is to orient states towards the prevention of WMD and proliferation sensitive materials from getting into the hands of nonstate entities, primarily for terrorist purposes.
In this regard, we consider it important that effective legislative measures should be taken at the national level to erect a reliable barrier to leaks of WMD and related materials to "black markets," and that multilateral cooperation be developed in the fight against this phenomenon. Of course, the entire work must rest on international law and national legislation, without hindering legitimate peaceful cooperation.
The resolution, if approved by the UN Security Council, will supplement the existing nonproliferation mechanisms and can become an effective instrument in combating new-generation challenges in this field.
2. Alexander Yakovenko, the Spokesman of Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Answers Questions from Channel One Television Company Regarding Submission by Russia and the US to UN Security Council of a Draft Resolution on the Nonproliferation of WMD
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Daily News Bulletin
(for personal use only)
QUESTION: Please comment on the news that on March 24 Russia and the United States submitted a draft resolution on the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction for consideration by the United Nations Security Council.
ANSWER: The problem of the proliferation of WMD and its delivery vehicles is now becoming one of the most dangerous threats to international peace and security, especially with regard to the possibility of their getting into the hands of nonstate entities, terrorists in the first place. Combating this is the chief aim of the prepared draft.
QUESTION: What are the main elements of the resolution?
ANSWER: The resolution aims to get member states to impose strict legislative measures to interdict illegal WMD traffic. On the other hand, this draft by no means undermines the existing juridical base in the field of nonproliferation; it rests on the operative national mechanisms of export control and will not hinder states' cooperation in the scientific and technical sphere.
QUESTION: What is the mechanism for implementing the resolution?
ANSWER: The cosponsors favor the establishment of an implementation mechanism for the resolution and will be actively working in this direction.
QUESTION: Are there any other countries ready to cosponsor the draft resolution?
ANSWER: As far as I know, France and the United Kingdom have already declared their readiness to become cosponsors of the draft.
QUESTION: What is the attitude to this draft in the UN Security Council?
ANSWER: The draft has evoked heightened interest among the members of the UN Security Council. Practically all of the members underscored the urgency of the task of combating the danger of WMD getting into the hands of terrorists and nonstate entities.
QUESTION: How will the work on this resolution be conducted?
ANSWER: It has been agreed that its expert analysis will begin even on March 25 within the framework of the entire UN Security Council.
3. Information on the Possible Creation of ï¿½Stations for the Storage of Radioactive Waste at the ports of Ust-Lura in the Leningrad Oblast and Bolshoi Kamen in Primorsky Kraeï¿½ Do Not Correspond with Reality
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Translated by RANSAC Staff
There has been a recent announcement in the mass media that stations for the storage of radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel will be built at the ports of Ust-Lura in the Leningrad Oblast and Bolshoi Kamen in Primorsky Krae, allegedly at the initiative of Minatom of Russia. To explain the situation we are publishing an official letter, by the head of the Department for Coordination with Organs of State Power and Information Policy Nikolai Shingarev in answer to the inquiry of the coordinator of the energy department of the branch of the international organization ï¿½Greenpeace Councilï¿½ V.A. Chuprova, who, referring to information received from ITAR-TASS, asked for answers to the following questions: 1) Whether the construction of a storehouse for radioactive waste at the port of Ust-Lura has started. 2) Whether this plan has passed an ecological examination. 3) Whether the construction of a warehouse or storehouse for radioactive waste products and nuclear materials in the sea trading port of Saint Petersburg is proposed. 4) Whether they are proposing to transport and store spent nuclear fuel at the seaports of Ust-Lara and St. Petersburg.
4. Remarks on the Draft Resolution on Non-Proliferation, at the Security Council Stakeout (excerpted)
United States Mission to the United Nations
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AMBASSADOR NEGROPONTE: Hi. Iï¿½d like to make a few points about the resolution ï¿½ the draft resolution that we introduced on non-proliferation into the Security Council today. This draft calls on member states to criminalize the proliferation of chemical and biological weapons and nuclear weapons and their means of delivery to non-state actors. We believe that we must act now to set a higher standard to prevent these weapons, key elements used to create them, and designs used to make them from falling into the hands of non-state actors, including terrorists, who seek to do us harm. There is explicit language in the draft making clear that this resolution is not meant to supercede, undercut or undermine existing disarmament and non-proliferation regimes. The draft resolution calls on member states to refrain from providing support to non-state actors attempting to develop, acquire, possess or use chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. It also calls on member states to adopt and enforce laws prohibiting non-state actors from pursuing these activities and to establish effective domestic controls over these weapons and key items used to create them. Weï¿½ve also stated that those nations needing assistance in strengthening their controls may ask it of those of us in a position to provide such assistance. The resolution ï¿½ the draft resolution calls upon all of us to review our current procedures, to improve them, and to cooperate to prevent these very dangerous weapons from spreading beyond our control. Itï¿½s an important draft resolution, and an important step we can take together to confront a serious problem we will be facing for some time to come. Any questions?
REPORTER: Ambassador, why did the U.S. decide to take out of the resolution the call for interdiction of ships at sea?
AMBASSADOR NEGROPONTE: Well, let me say that, first of all, the fundamental purpose of this resolution is to deal with a very important gap that exists in international law today and that is the question of dealing with weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and materials that could be used to make them, falling into the hands of non-state actors. Thereï¿½s nothing in this resolution that precludes the continuation of the Proliferation Security Initiative, which is being conducted at the moment, and that's the kind of initiative ï¿½ thatï¿½s the kind of activity youï¿½re talking about in your question, which is being conducted under existing international law. The real aim of this resolution is to deal with the problem of non-state actors. There are lots of disarmament and non-proliferation agreements that bind states to certain standards of behavior. This is the issue of preventing these weapons and materials from getting into the hands of non-state actors, who of course are not parties to such treaties.
REPORTER: In the original draft, the resolution used the word interdiction explicitly ï¿½ it did call for that. Was there a decision made not to go that route?
AMBASSADOR NEGROPONTE: Well, again I come back to the fundamental purpose of this resolution ï¿½ the question of denying these weapons and these materials to non-state actors. Itï¿½s a very important problem, it's a serious gap in the international regime and itï¿½s one that needs to be dealt with on an urgent basis. It took the P-5 a certain amount of time to come up with this draft. We now expect to go into a period of consultation with the other members of the Council. There will be experts meetings to start off with. We hope to move this forward as expeditiously as possible. Yes.
REPORTER: Ambassador, not to belabor this issue too much, the Chinese delegation said earlier this week that the provision on op 7 on interdiction was essentially kicked out of the resolution as part of the final agreement. Is that the case? Does it no longer, sort of, enable you to do interdiction at sea?
AMBASSADOR NEGROPONTE: Well, again, the interdiction under the Proliferation Security Initiative is taking place or takes place under existing international law and consistent with international legal practices. I come back to the key point, the real focus of the resolution is how to prevent WMD and the materials that can be used to make them from falling into the hands of non-state actors, and the most important obligation that it asks member states of the United Nations to undertake is to criminalize the provision of such items and such materials to non-state actors through their own domestic legislation. Thatï¿½s the key part of the resolution.
5. Statement of Ambassador Linton F. Brooks Under Secretary of Energy for Nuclear Security and Administrator, National Nuclear Security Administration Before the Senate Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Strategic Forces 24 March 2004 (excerpted)
National Nuclear Security Administration
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Present and Future Nuclear Stockpiles
Our new approach, coupled with the judgment that we no longer need to plan our forces as if Russia presented an immediate threat to the United States, was the basis for dramatic reductionsï¿½codified in the Moscow Treatyï¿½in operationally deployed strategic nuclear forces. Over the next eight years, the United States will cut the number of deployed warheads by approximately two-thirds from todayï¿½s level. But the experience of the past decade and a half makes it clear that it is unwise for us to base our security on the false belief that we can predict the future. Thus, while dramatically reducing the number of deployed weapons, we must plan against an uncertain future.
Specifically, the United States needs to be prepared to respond to both unforeseen technical problems and unanticipated geopolitical change. One element of such a response is a responsive infrastructure, which I will discuss in a moment. But another component of such a response is the non-deployed stockpile. As part of its plan to implement the Nuclear Posture Review, the Administration is conducting an assessment that, when completed, will clarify the long-term requirements for non-deployed weapons. The Congress requested such a revised stockpile plan as well. The Administration is working to complete this complex task as soon as possible. While we regret the delay, the importance of nuclear weapons to our security makes it imperative to conduct a thorough review.
While I am not prepared to provide specificsï¿½and could not do so in an unclassified forum in any caseï¿½I can provide some of the considerations factoring into the review. The 2012 nuclear stockpile will be substantially reduced from current levels. But reductions will not lower the stockpile to 1700-2200 total warheads. Additional warheads over and above the operationally deployed strategic warheads will be needed for routine maintenance of the stockpile including as logistics spares and to replace those warheads eliminated during destructive surveillance testing.
In addition, a small number of warheads (reduced by 90% from Cold War levels) for U.S. nonstrategic nuclear forces will be retained, among other things, to meet commitments to allies. Finally, warheads over and above the operationally deployed force will be retained over the near term for prudent risk management in connection with mitigating geopolitical and technical risks. In particular, sufficient warheads will be retained to augment the operationally deployed force in the event that world events require a more robust deterrence posture.
We also must preserve diversity of warhead types in the overall stockpile in order to mitigate technical risks. Although we are making progress in restoring a responsive nuclear weapons production infrastructure, we are not yet able to produce replacement warheads in sufficient quantity to respond if a technical problem called into question the safety or reliability of one or more warheads critical to our nationï¿½s deterrent. Thus, for example, we are planning to deploy two types of ICBM warheadsï¿½the W87 and W78ï¿½and will retain sufficient numbers of these two types in reserve so that if a technical failure occurred in one type, there would be sufficient warheads of the other type to restore the operationally-deployed ICBM force. We seek to apply this approach, where appropriate, to other nuclear delivery means.
6. Statement Before The Senate Armed Services Committee On The Atomic Energy Defense Activities Of The Department Of Energy, In Review Of The Defense Authorization Request For Fiscal Year 2005
Spencer Abraham, Secretary of Energy
Department of Energy
(for personal use only)
We also continue to make great progress with Russia on nuclear nonproliferation. Of the $1.35 billion included in this budget for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation (NN), $999 million is requested for nonproliferation programs with Russia and other countries. We have accelerated the material protection programs and expanded the scope of our work to ensure that dangerous materials do not fall into the wrong hands. We have increased our cooperation with Russia's Strategic Rocket Forces by initiating warhead security work at three new sites.
We have extended our International Radiological Threat Reduction program to states that were once part of the Former Soviet Union and others. Working with them, with Russia, and with the International Atomic Energy Agency, we have been able to secure radiological materials in these countries.
Moreover, in this budget request we are continuing our MegaPorts program with $15 million to detect the trafficking of nuclear or radioactive materials in the world's busiest seaports. We will complete installations at three ports in FY 2004 and complete an additional three ports in FY 2005. Eventually we hope to have detection equipment in key locations all over the planet.
The largest investment in nuclear nonproliferation in FY 2005 is the Fissile Materials Disposition program. We are working to design and build facilities to dispose of inventories of surplus U.S. weapons-grade plutonium and highly enriched uranium, and supporting concurrent efforts in Russia to obtain reciprocal disposition of similar materials.
One of the major obstacles encountered this year is a disagreement with Russia regarding liability protection for plutonium disposition work performed in that country. This has resulted in a 10-month delay in the planned start of construction of a MOX Facility in Russia as well as a similar facility in the United States. The liability issue is being worked at high levels in the Administration. The President's FY 2005 budget request seeks $649 million for this program to begin construction of both the U.S. and Russian MOX facilities in May 2005, as we work to resolve the liability issue by this spring. Our out-year funding profiles reflect the Administration's full commitment for proceeding with plutonium disposition.
Not only are we pursuing the disposition of weapons-grade plutonium but we are also working hard to stop more from being produced. We have assumed the responsibility from the Department of Defense (DOD) for shutting down the last three plutonium production reactors in Russia and replacing them with fossil fuel plants by 2008 and 2011. This will result in the cessation of the annual production of 1.2 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium. Under the Elimination of Weapons-Grade Plutonium Production program, we will provide oversight for Russian contractors who will actually be performing the work. The FY 2005 request for this effort is $50.1 million.
DISCLAIMER: Nuclear News is presented for informational purposes only. Views presented in any given article are those of the individual author or source and not of RANSAC. RANSAC takes no responsibility for the technical accuracy of information contained in any article presented in Nuclear News.
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