The world's only confirmed case of weapons-grade uranium going missing took place in Abkhazia, a breakaway former Soviet State not recognised by any country. Tom Parfitt went there.
SERGEI ARDZINBA paws his white laboratory coat and gestures at the tumbledown building. "There's nothing harmful in there now," he says. "It was all taken away after the break-in."
Scrawled in chalk on the rusting steel doors of the disused laboratory, messages in Russian tell a less reassuring story: "Radiation! Danger! Stop! Cancer! Do not enter! You will regret it!"
Staff at the primate research institute where Ardzinba is director say they wrote the warnings to scare off inquisitive children. "Just in case", they have welded the doors shut. The reason: inside this decaying laboratory are the remains of a lethal irradiation device used to induce leukaemia in monkeys.
Two years ago, thieves broke into the abandoned building on the edge of the institute, which sprawls over a hillside in Sukhumi, capital of Georgia's breakaway republic on the shores of the Black Sea, Abkhazia.
The thieves found their prize -a lead box which they hoped to melt down to make gunshot. They did not know that inside were seven capsules of highly radioactive caesium-137, one of the isotopes that poured from the Chernobyl nuclear reactor when it exploded in 1986.
This time police were lucky. The caesium powder was found weeks later in a garage and the three criminals, suffering from acute radiation sickness, were taken to hospital. But the theft was by no means an isolated case. Across the former Soviet Union, security services are increasingly worried that radioactive and nuclear materials are falling into terrorist hands.
Abkhazia, a tinpot republic that formally declared independence from Georgia in 1999 but is not recognised by any country, holds a dubious record. It is responsible for the world's only confirmed case of missing, weapons-grade fissile material -more than half a kilogram (1.3lb) of highly enriched uranium.
Experts at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) say that more than 100 countries may have inadequate control and monitoring programmes of radioactive materials.
Jose Padilla, a suspected al-Qaeda operative, is being held in the US on suspicion of planning an attack with a radiological dispersal device, or "dirty bomb" -a conventional weapon used to spew radiation over a large area. Eliza Manningham Buller, the director general of MI5 has cautioned that a strike on a major Western city with such a weapon is only "a question of time".
Last month, Cofer Black, the US State Department's top anti-terror official, said terrorist organisations have the will and "a reasonable amount" of expertise to employ a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapon and will do so if they acquire the necessary materials.
Georgia, with its piles of abandoned Soviet military hardware, weak law enforcement and shaky separatist regions, has emerged as a potential goldmine of radioactive sources.
At least three times in the past five years traffickers have been caught there with 1kg or more of low-enrichment uranium. A smuggler trying to cross the border with Armenia had a tablet of the heavy metal stuffed in a packet of tea.
Last year, police in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, stopped a taxi riding low on its suspension near a railway station. In the boot were boxes lined with lead containing two highly radioactive materials ontium and caesium -and a jar of brown liquid used in mustard gas.
No one knows where this contraband was being taken. However, on two occasions the smugglers were going to the Black Sea port of Batumi, in the rebellious Adzharia province. Police believe that couriers planned to pick up the goods and take them to Turkey. "We think that their final destination was Iran or Arab countries," says Lerry Meskhi, head of Georgia's radiation and nuclear safety service.
Meanwhile, other "orphaned" sources of radioactivity are still unaccounted for, Meskhi. says. The IAEA is sponsoring searches for abandoned Soviet hardware such as the Gamma Kolos devices used to mutate seed with radiation. Not all of it has been recovered. Two woodcutters in Georgia suffered radiation burns when they found in a forest the remains of a radiothermal generator, once used to power a navigational beacon for military aircraft. And 15 people needed treatment after a peasant in the Svaneti region stripped out the strontium-90 core of a similar device. He liked the fact it was hot and kept it in a barrel in his garden to heat water.
These chance discoveries worry the IAEA, which believes that traffickers have already sought out other neglected sources. Concern over movement of dirty bomb ingredients, however, is as nothing to the fear that surrounds Abkhazia's missing uranium. Enriched to 96 per cent, close to the highest possible level, 655g (1.7lb) of uranium-235 was confirmed missing in 1997. Some reports from Russian sources put the quantity nearer 2kg. Non-proliferation experts say this material could be used to produce the deadliest arm of all -a nuclear weapon.
According to an inventory seen by The Times, the uranium was stored in a special warehouse in Section G of the Vekua Institute of Physics and Technology, a top-secret research centre in the Abkhaz capital that once focused on developing an atomic bomb.
After the Second World War, the Soviet Union took captured German scientists such as Manfred von Ardenne and the Nobel prizewinner, Gustav Hertz, there to work on uranium enrichment. They stayed until 1952.
In 1993, fighting broke out in Sukhumi and Georgian forces were swept out of the region by Abkhaz separatists, never to return. As gunfire echoed around a part of their compound known as "the zone", hundreds of employees fled from the physics institute, leaving behind canisters of radioactive material in a bunker. When a delegation from Minatom, the Russian ministry of atomic energy, visited four years later the vault was cracked and the uranium-235 had disappeared. Today, nobody knows where it is.
"I think it's either in the hands of the Abkhaz separatists or it was sold to terrorists," says Valter Kashia, an engineer who controlled the department at Vekua where the missing uranium was being employed for research in the 1990s.
Kashia, who now heads an institute in exile in Tbilisi, says the tablets of lethal isotope were intended for a thermal emission device to be used in space. Officials in Sukhumi, however, deny all knowledge of the disappeared uranium, claiming the last highly enriched material there was moved to Russia more than 50 years ago.
Friction between Georgia and Abkhazia has exacerbated the problem. Russian and UN peacekeepers patrol the 1993 ceasefire line between the two, and the republic is beyond Tbilisi's control. Inspection teams have been hindered by the conflict, which shows signs of breaking into all-out war. The newly elected Georgian President, Mikhail Saakashvili, has warned that the region was a "black hole", a centre for smuggling that must be broken.
Under economic blockade and rife with organised crime, Abkhazia is an embattled and isolated place. The Times reached Sukhumi by UN helicopter, but was refused permission to inspect the storage facilities of the Vekua institute.
In an interview at the Abkhaz foreign ministry, the institute's director, Anatoly Markolia, claimed no highly enriched uranium had been stored there since centrifuges were removed in 1952. He said the inventories cited by Georgian officials were "invented to blacken Abkhazia". The institute's 700 employees work on producing isotopes for medical purposes, he said.
The IAEA, which reached Sukhumi in 2001, but did not have the mandate for a full investigation, wants to conduct a more extensive inspection to learn what equipment was housed there.
Nuclear experts see the missing uranium as the key concern. "As far as we know, this is the only case in the world of weapons usable, fissile material that is unaccounted for," says William Potter, director of the Centre for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California.
Potter says terrorists would need many times the quantity of uranium lost from Sukhumi to produce a weapon, but could acquire enough material from other sources to make a "crude but effective" nuclear weapon.
"My fear is that after the Soviet breakup many employees in research facilities realised the value of what they were in charge of and stashed it away somewhere 'safe' -under their dacha, in a refrigerator, on a balcony," he says.
2. Kazakhstan: Astana Denies Links To Nuclear Smuggling Network
Radio Free Europe
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Authorities in Kazakhstan deny the country's involvement in any international nuclear-technology-smuggling network. A company suspected of playing a role in the transfer of nuclear secrets and materials from Pakistan to Iran, Libya, and North Korea was reported to have offices in Almaty and Baku, Azerbaijan. That triggered speculation about a nuclear black market in these two former Soviet republics.
Prague, 2 March 2004 (RFE/RL) -- Kazakhstan is denying any connections to Dubai-based SMB Computers that could implicate it in an international black market in nuclear materials.
The interest in SMB Computers and its subsidiaries surfaced after U.S. President George W. Bush said the firm was a front for black-market deals in nuclear technology and that its principal owner was the "chief financial officer and money launderer" in a nuclear-trafficking ring.
That man, Sri Lankan businessman Bukhary Syed Abu Tahir, has been linked to top Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan. Khan has confessed to leaking nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya, and North Korea.
“There were several cases [in Kazakhstan] when similar companies were involved in the nuclear power-related operations without any license. There were several court cases on that in the past."
Mukhtar Anarbekov, a spokesperson for Kazakhstan's National Security Committee, told RFE/RL that SMB Computers is not officially registered in the country's commercial capital, Almaty, as suggested by press reports. "As a result of specially conducted investigations, it became clear that neither the company, nor its branches, have ever been registered in the Republic of Kazakhstan," Anarbekov said. "That company is also not on the list of companies licensed for activities in the sector of nuclear power. The persons mentioned in the newspapers have not entered Kazakhstan in 2000 to 2004."
The Kazakh State Atomic Energy Committee also said it has never done business with SMB Computers and never granted it a license for the export of nuclear materials.
According to SMB Computers' website, the company has a number of subsidiaries. One of them is Peripherals Gulf Limited, a Dubai-based distributor for computer giants such as Hewlett Packard. The website lists the firm as having business interests in the former Soviet republics and offices in Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. That triggered speculation in the press that the company may have been seeking to smuggle nuclear materials from Kazakhstan, the world's fourth-largest producer of uranium ore.
A representative for Peripherals Gulf, Rahim, initially denied any knowledge of the company's activities in Almaty. "Frankly speaking, we are an IT [information technology] company. We are dealing in IT products, and that's all," he said. "I have no idea about [information on an Almaty branch]. We don't have an office in Almaty. That's all."
Following media reports, however, Rahim acknowledged the company had an office in Almaty but denied any operations in Baku. Attempts by RFE/RL to locate a Peripherals Gulf office in Baku were unsuccessful. Kazakh authorities deny that SMB or Peripherals Gulf conducted any official business in the country. They also rule out the companies' involvement in any nuclear-related deals.
In an interview with RFE/RL, Rustem Tursunbaev, vice president of the state-owned KazAtomProm nuclear company, dismissed the idea that enriched uranium could be smuggled out of Kazakhstan. "We completely rule out such a possibility. There is no highly enriched uranium in Kazakhstan. There are also no facilities in Kazakhstan to enrich uranium ore. So there is a lack of presence of this material, as well as the means to get it," Tursunbaev said.
The Kazakh security agency, as well as nuclear officials, say such materials are tightly controlled and could never be transferred outside the country illegally. It’s “impossible,” Tursunbaev said. “There has never been any accident of this kind throughout the history of Kazakhstan."
Kazakhstan inherited the world's fourth-largest nuclear weapons arsenal following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Experts have often raised questions about the integrity of the country's nuclear regulatory system. Alex Vatanka, an editor and analyst with London-based "Jane's Sentinel Security Assessments," says he can envisage a scenario in which nuclear materials could be smuggled out of Kazakhstan. "There are elements in Kazakhstan, senior elements, who could have been bribed," he said. "We know corruption is a problem in Kazakhstan. We know that. I don't know if such materials [enriched uranium] are still in existence in Kazakhstan. But for the sake of argument -- if they are -- the question is: How much money would you have to pay to be able to buy it?"
The director of the Kazakh State Atomic Energy Committee, Timur Zhantikin, acknowledged to RFE/RL that such a scenario is not inconceivable. "That kind of situation is possible,” he said. “There were several cases [in Kazakhstan] when similar companies were involved in the nuclear power-related operations without any license. There were several court cases on that in the past."
After the breakup of the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan transferred all its nuclear warheads to Russia and destroyed the infrastructure at Semipalatinsk, a major weapons test site. About 600 kilograms of weapons-grade uranium were removed to the United States. Kazakhstan is still suspected of possessing weapons-grade nuclear material, however, including at two nuclear research institutes.
(RFE/RL's Kazakh and Azerbaijani services contributed to this report.)
Russia has completed the destruction of nearly 20 metric tons of lewisite from its stockpile stored at a chemical weapons disposal plant near the city of Gorny, ITAR-Tass reported yesterday (see GSN, Jan. 6).
The destruction of all 252 metric tons of lewisite at the plant is expected to be completed by the end of next year, at which point the facility will be converted for civilian use (ITAR-Tass/BBC Monitoring, March 3).
TASHKENT, Uzbekistan, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- The shrinkage of the Aral Sea in Central Asia has turned Vozrozhdeniye Island, where the former Soviet Union tested biological weapons, almost into a peninsula, posing a threat to the local population and wildlife, scientists told United Press International.
The Soviet Union first tested biological weapons on the island in the 1930s. However, the work was suspended before long when the operation's head, Ivan Velikanov, was arrested. The Soviets resumed testing in 1954 and continued until 1991.
Anthrax, tularemia, brucellosis, plague, typhus, Q fever, botulinum toxin, and Venezuelan equine encephalitis had been tested in open-air sites on the island, now shared by Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, according to Gennady Lepeshkin, director-general of Kazakhstan's National Center for Biotechnology. The experiments were conducted on horses, monkeys, sheep, donkeys, mice, guinea pigs and hamsters, Lepeshkin said in 2001.
In the southern part of Vozrozhdeniye, the scientists studied such processes as how bacteriological warfare agent aerosols disseminate, how to detect them, and the effective range of aerosol bomblets with biological agents of different types, Lepeshkin said.
The U.S. and Uzbek governments have begun a project to decontaminate the island within the framework of the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program. In 2002, a team from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency of the Department of Defense deposited anthrax stocks in 11 concrete-lined pits and mixed the anthrax with calcium hypochlorite as a decontamination agent, said Aminjon Nematov, director of the Uzbek Center for Prophylaxis of Quarantinable and Most Hazardous Infections.
Despite such efforts, the island remains a threat, said Oleg Mitropolskiy, head of the zoological and parasitological laboratory at the Uzbek prophylaxis center.
"Under adverse conditions, anthrax strains change into spores that are very stable and can survive for up to 300 years," he told UPI. "Hitting an organism, such spores come to life."
In essence, the U.S. team repeated the operation conducted by Soviet troops in the late 1980s when they mixed anthrax with bleach.
"Tests of anthrax bacteria buried on the island by Soviet troops before anything was done demonstrated that some were still alive and virulent even after 10 years," said Raymond Zilinskas, of the Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in California.
"Although the decontamination work conducted by (the Department of Defense team) was quite successful -- in that no viable organisms survived -- follow-up environmental monitoring will be necessary for the foreseeable future," he told UPI.
Zilinskas added that scientists will need to test the soil continually to learn if disease-producing agents are surviving under the surface and in rodent and insect reservoirs. At the same time, he said, there is no precise information on how much anthrax was moved to the island, since the Russian government has refused to provide any information on this subject.
Anthrax is a potentially fatal disease, which affects sheep, cows and sometimes people. It is caused by the spore-forming bacterium Bacillus anthracis. In September and October 2001, someone sent anthrax-laced letters to several sites in the United States and caused five deaths.
"Estimates made by U.S. experts are that between 100 and 200 tons of anthrax bacteria in slurry were buried in (the) 11 ... pits," he said, adding that although the threat has decreased due to the decontamination procedure, scientists need to conduct further investigations and decontamination actions on the island.
"The sooner we do that the better," he added.
Because the Aral Sea is shrinking, a land bridge has appeared, connecting Vozrozhdeniye with the Uzbek mainland -- and the peninsula is growing wider. Hence, there is a danger of island animals carrying diseases organisms will migrate to the mainland. Also, if people start traveling to the island, they might come into contact with disease agents, either buried in the soil or carried by rodents and insects, he explained.
"We have to finish decontamination work before this can happen," he said.
Disease agents causing tularemia, plague, cholera, and brucellosis are known to have been field tested and used for experiments on the island, Zilinskas said.
"Consequently, the soil, flora, and fauna were contaminated with these organisms, although most were quickly killed off by desiccation and (ultraviolet) light," he said.
Over the past several years, local residents of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan have flocked to the island to seize abandoned equipment, building materials and scrap metal after the Russians left. Reportedly, there have been some cases of infectious diseases among people who had spent time on the island or used equipment carried from it.
Penetration of the island by a burrowing desert rodent, such as the Great Gerbil, or Rhombomys opimus, certainly would lead to an infection of animals with diseases, Mitropolskiy said. This in turn, would create natural breeding grounds for the diseases. The Great Gerbil digs longstanding burrows and lives in colonies.
Some of the microorganisms tested on Vozrozhdeniye can hold out in the soil and other objects for a long time, Lepeshkin noted.
"Some scientists believe that local rodents that were exposed to the weapons-grade bubonic plague bacteria, which are transmitted by fleas from animal to animal, might still be carrying them," Zilinskas said. "There is no data, however, on the level of contamination."
There is no doubt Vozrozhdeniye Island poses a threat, Nematov said. "Dangerous pathogens can be there but we don't know where they are," he told UPI.
1. U.S. Offers Training, New Opportunities for Iraqi Scientists
Department of State
(for personal use only)
National Nuclear Safety Administration plays leading role in initiative
Washington -- As part of its commitment to help Iraq get back on its feet following the war, the Bush administration has launched a program involving Iraq's top scientists, technicians and engineers, many of them overworked and underpaid.
According to the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), which is playing a lead role in the initiative, the program seeks not only to support reconstruction efforts but also aims at preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
The program will complement other administration initiatives that seek to support reconstruction, and keep WMD from falling into the hands of terrorists or rogue nations.
NNSA Administrator Linton F. Brooks said the new program addresses the critical need to provide meaningful opportunities for all scientists in Iraq.
"Moreover, it is helping them rebuild Iraqi science and technology infrastructure and reintegrate Iraq into the international community," Brooks said.
NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency of the Department of Energy. It maintains the U.S. nuclear-weapons stockpile, promotes international nuclear nonproliferation and safety, reduces global danger from weapons of mass destruction, provides the U.S. with safe and effective nuclear propulsion, and oversees its national laboratories to maintain U.S. leadership in science and technology.
The new effort is in cooperation with the Arab Science and Technology Foundation and the Cooperative Monitoring Center at Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico.
The program will also help rebuild key elements of Iraq's infrastructure, and promote business opportunities that provide sustainability to Iraqi science and technology.
The first phase of this long-term effort is completion of a survey of Iraq's current needs and resources.
Once the survey is completed, a workshop will convene in the region to bring together leading experts from Iraq, the United States, and the international science community. The object will be to begin work on several of the highest-priority projects facing Iraq.
The program is being implemented by an international partnership of scientists. It complements the State Department's recently established Iraqi International Center for Science and Industry and work by the Coalition Provisional Authority.
While the NNSA keeps a low profile -- few even know that it exists -- it is highly important to the world. It advises Congress, foreign governments and international organizations, including the UN Security Council and the International Energy Agency.
The NNSA's Office of International Nuclear Safety seeks to promote worldwide nuclear safety. Its core functions include leading the U.S. government program to shut down Russia's plutonium production. Plutonium is used in nuclear weapons and as a reactor fuel.
WASHINGTON President George W. Bush pledged in a speech Feb. 11 that America would "rise to the hard demands of dangerous times" - specifically, to prevent the world's deadliest weapons from falling into the hands of rogue regimes and terrorists. The president's attention to nonproliferation issues is welcome, as is Libya's apparent renunciation of weapons of mass destruction. Yet a sustained and comprehensive strategy for dealing with the proliferation threat is still lacking.
We are losing the fight to stop the spread of nuclear-weapons capabilities to rogue states. In too many places, the approach to proliferation challenges is curiously complacent - marked by an inability to translate rhetoric into action.
Recent events have underscored the risk of nuclear breakout. The deal brokered by three European foreign ministers with Tehran last autumn is not stopping Iran's development of an infrastructure that could ultimately produce weapons-grade fissile material for nuclear bombs. Worse, Iran's foreign minister said twice last week that Tehran intends to sell nuclear fuel abroad.
The European approach is based on two premises: first, that Iran's nuclear program is motivated primarily by nationalist ambitions to achieve world-class technological prowess; and second, that Tehran would ultimately relinquish the militarily applicable parts of its program in exchange for international assistance in developing the rest of its nuclear agenda. Unfortunately, this represents more wishful thinking than reality. Compelling evidence suggests Iran's nuclear program is intended to give Tehran a nuclear-weapons hedge against what Iranians see as very real threats to their national security, and that Iran will not give up its nuclear aspirations until those concerns are addressed. Yet, the Bush administration stubbornly resists any suggestion of a "grand bargain" with Iran.
As for North Korea, Kim Jong Il has clearly slipped the bonds of the nonproliferation regime. Analysts may debate the number of nuclear bombs North Korea has built, but it is virtually certain that Pyongyang possesses considerably more reprocessed plutonium today than a year ago, on its way to potentially becoming the first nuclear weapons Wal-Mart for terror groups. Given this reality, the Bush administration's dithering on serious diplomatic engagement is inexplicable.
Recent disclosures about the activities of the Pakistani nuclear scientist and proliferation entrepreneur Abdul Qadeer Khan underscore additional risks. We know there are sophisticated clandestine procurement networks for nuclear fuels and technology. Yet the administration remains complacent in securing loose nuclear materials around the world and redirecting weapons scientists and assets to peaceful, constructive purposes.
The Nunn-Lugar initiative is designed to dismantle or transform potentially dangerous nuclear activities in the former Soviet Union. At present funding levels, it will not complete the job for more than a decade. Meanwhile, as Senator Sam Nunn has said, right now, "tons of poorly secured plutonium and highly enriched uranium - the raw materials of nuclear terrorism - are spread around the world."
What would a serious strategy for containing the spread of nuclear weapons look like?
First, it is time to define clear strategic choices for Iran and North Korea. Washington should publicly offer to normalize relations with Iran - including a commitment not to change its government by force - and help it integrate into the global economy, provided that Iran gives up, definitively and verifiably, its weapons of mass destruction programs and ties to terrorist organizations.
The United States also should lay out for North Korea the security guarantees and economic benefits it could expect for dismantling its nuclear weapons program and abandoning its nuclear ambitions - as well as make clear that further separation of plutonium will result in serious consequences, coercive if necessary. Only by defining North Korea's options in such stark terms, and demonstrating our willingness to get to Yes, can the United States marshal the regional and international support we will need if Pyongyang says No.
Second, we must deal with the crisis of unsecured nuclear materials around the world. We must globalize Nunn-Lugar programs and fund them at the levels necessary to do the job, which will be much greater than the administration's current budget envisions.
Third, it is time to close increasingly obvious gaps in the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. The president's proposals are fine as far as they go, but they do not go far enough. Tighter regulation of fuel cycle activities, keeping states under investigation by the International Atomic Energy Agency off the agency's board of governors, and mandating implementation of the Additional Protocol as a condition for nuclear imports are all essential steps. But we also need to make sure that if states provide assistance to others for peaceful nuclear energy, spent fuel rods are returned to international storage, under international supervision.
Further, we need to make it illegal for a state to withdraw from the nonproliferation treaty if its nuclear activities are under investigation. America should lead the UN Security Council in defining sanctions that would be imposed automatically on any state threatening to use the treaty as a springboard for nuclear weapons development.
As Bush stated Feb. 11, the consensus among nations that proliferation is intolerable "means little unless it is translated into action." But translating counter proliferation goals into action will take sustained American leadership and engagement, skillful diplomacy, and serious investments of political and financial capital. None of those have been forthcoming so far.
Samuel R. Berger, who was national security adviser to President Bill Clinton, is chairman of Stonebridge International. Flynt Leverett, who was senior director for Middle East affairs at the National Security Council from February 2002 to March 2003, is a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution.
1. Russian Nuclear Danger Reduction National Center To Visit USA
(for personal use only)
WASHINGTON, March 4 (RIA Novosti) - A delegation of the Russian national center for nuclear danger reduction will visit Washington from March 22 to 26.
The US Department of the State press service said Russian representatives will familiarize themselves with the operative work of the U.S. national center for nuclear danger reduction.
In April, the delegation of the American center will make a return visit to Moscow. The press service said this exchange will become "an excellent opportunity to improve working relations and operative efficiency of reciprocal streams of data and notifications, as well as expand the openness in our relations with Russia." The Russian national center for nuclear danger reduction was created in accordance with the Soviet-American agreement of 1987 on the creation of centers to supervise fulfillment of agreements to monitor nuclear armaments.
The US center is part of the State Department structure.
The United States and Russia have yet to hold a meeting of the Bilateral Implementation Commission to help implement the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT), which entered into force June 1, 2003. Under the terms of the accord, the commission is supposed to meet at least twice per year.
Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton discussed the commission’s status with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak during a Jan. 28-30 visit to Moscow, but they set no date for the first meeting of the commission.
In a report to Congress last summer, the Department of State indicated that the first meeting would take place before the end of 2003. The United States and Russia “will discuss operating procedures for the [commission] at its first meeting later this year,” the report predicted.
Responding to questions from Arms Control Today, the State Department’s Bureau of Arms Control stated in February, “The United States is prepared to begin meetings of the commission, although no issues have arisen that require a meeting now.” Russian media reports suggest the two sides have had differences over the commission’s setup.
SORT, also known as the Moscow Treaty, requires the United States and Russia to reduce their current deployed strategic warhead levels—respectively, almost 6,000 and nearly 5,300—to no more than 2,200 apiece by the end of 2012. The treaty limit takes effect and expires the same day. Because SORT does not obligate the destruction of warheads or delivery vehicles, weapon systems taken off deployment under the treaty could eventually be returned to service.
Last summer’s State Department report to Congress noted, “We do not yet know how Russia intends to count its reductions for purposes of the Moscow Treaty.” The treaty does not dictate how the two sides are to make and verify their reductions.
1. Nuclear Power Plant In Bushehr Undamaged By Earthquake
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TEHRAN, March 2, 2004. (RIA Novosti correspondent Nikolai Terekhov) -- There are no victims among Russian specialists and no damage in the area of the Bushehr nuclear power plant following Tuesday's earthquake, Kadyrzhan Orunov, the Russian ambassador's assistant for security affairs, reported from the place.
According to him, "after the first underground tremors, which were felt at 10:50 a.m. Moscow time, all workers and Russian specialists, fearing for repeated shocks, immediately left all buildings and structures." "So far no damage has been reported, nor there are any victims, while areas adjoining the facility are being explored," the diplomat added.
The magnitude of underground tremors recorded in the area of the populated locality of Ahram in Bushehr Province reached 5.1 points on the Richter scale, RIA Novosti was told at the geophysical centre of Tehran University. This populated locality is situated not far from the Bushehr nuclear power plant being built by Russian specialists on the Iran's Persian Gulf coast.
An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.3 points on the Richter scale, which occurred in the south-eastern Iranian town of Bam on December 26, 2003, killed more than 40,000 people and injured over 30,000. The town has been practically razed to the ground.
As every observer of North Korea knows, all analyses of anything pertaining to that country are shrouded in ambiguity. Certainly this holds true for the Beijing-run six-party negotiation process regarding North Korea's nuclear program. Indeed, making sense of what is transpiring at these talks is not unlike viewing the Japanese movie, Rashomon, in which each eyewitness recounts a different version of the truth as they saw it, or wanted to see it. Still, to understand what is going on in the North Korea talks, or at least to make some sense of the dynamics, it is important to understand the parties' positions and their motives. One of the most intriguing is Russia.
The four parties, in addition to North and South Korea, are China, Japan, the United States and Russia, which sprawls through the Far East and shares a very short, 38-mile boundary with North Korea, its former communist ally. Once Moscow buttressed Pyongyang economically and politically, but no more.
One of the most opaque aspects of this process is Russia's position and objectives on North Korea. Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Losyukov, Russia's delegate to the recent talks in Beijing, voiced the common frustration that North Korea did not verify whether or not it has a uranium enrichment program underway and expressed the equally common disappointment that not more was achieved. Yet he simultaneously opined that progress was made because the parties have indicated they will continue to negotiate later in the spring and are setting up working groups to tackle relevant issues.
Losyukov also warned that failure to verify what the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) is doing could lead the United States to undertake military action, but at the same time he indicated uncertainty as to whether North Korea indeed has a nuclear program. Although the Russian government, from President Vladimir Putin on down is on record as strongly opposing nuclearization of the Korean peninsula, neither Losyukov nor his government has indicated just what they think should be done to prevent it. Losyukov said that his government supports South Korea's proposal to give energy assistance to the North should it dismantle the nuclear program, yet Moscow remains unclear - or has not stated - which step must come first, dismantling or assistance - nor has it described how Russia visualizes a verifiable regime of inspections to confirm that North Korea has ended its program.
The fact that North Korea has broken every previous agreement its signed regarding its nuclear program does not seem to play a role in Russian public diplomacy on how to ensure that this does not happen again. Instead, Losyukov is trying to push Washington to give Pyongyang energy and other forms of aid without specifying just how the US and Russia can be certain about the termination of the North's nuclear program.
Understanding Russia's conflicting stands At the same time, though, Losyukov is not expressing any particular dismay that North Korea clearly wants to retain a nuclear program and obtain these forms of assistance. Therefore the question is: how can one understand Russia's position concerning North Korea and what lies behind it?
Russia's interests are rooted in its history, geography and policy, and understanding the hierarchy of objectives governing Russia's position on the Koreas may help make sense of the apparent contradictions inherent in its policy.
First of all, Moscow, like the other four partners outside of the DPRK, and perhaps Pyongyang too, is most worried about war and the need to prevent the onset of conflict. That shared anxiety is what creates a common negotiating space for the five states seeking to roll back the North's nuclear program. But beyond that important commonality, there are divergences among the parties, creating situations in which it becomes harder for all to agree and reach consensus; instead, one or two states agree with each.
Historically Russia has fought four wars in the 20th century to prevent Northern Korea, with whom it shares a territorial boundary near the Pacific Ocean, from falling prey to hostile powers. Those wars were the Russo-Japanese war from 1904-05; the undeclared war with Japan in 1938-39 that took place mainly in Manchuria; Russia's invasion of Manchuria and Korea, the culminating offensive of World War II in Asia in August,1945; and Russian pilots' participation in the air war during the Korean War of 1950-53.
In all cases, the point was, and is, not the unification of the Korean peninsula as such. Rather it is the conditions under which the peninsula might be united that concerned - and still do concern Moscow.
Most important is that Moscow, in approaching the two Koreas and the issue of terminating the unfinished Korean war between them, is the weakest of all the outside powers and one that is acutely aware of how little it brings to the table. Moreover, what haunts the minds of policymakers from Putin down is that Russia, due to its current economic and military weakness, could easily be marginalized and excluded from any process bringing an end to hostilities on the peninsula, reunification and denuclearization.
Russia seeks recognition as legitimate actor A war on the peninsula not only would endanger Russia's security, it also would make it abundantly clear that it cannot contribute very much to the resolution of the conflict and would be as much the object of others' policies as it would itself be an actor in Asia. Consequently, its overriding goal is simply to be recognized as a legitimate player in all the negotiations taking place in and around the Korean peninsula and to prevent war through its participation. If this means simply paying to play another round, so be it. It also means not being too particular as to how denuclearization is maintained if it is achieved at all.
For all of these reasons Moscow therefore believes that it needs to be on equally good terms with all parties. Every diplomatic initiative it has proffered regarding North Korea, dating back to former president Boris Yeltsin, revolves around getting everyone to see Russia as part of the solution, as a partner that can provide tangible political and material resources to a peaceful resolution of the issues there and whose participation is legitimate. While this explains why it is ready to provide electricity and energy to North Korea if asked, the fact is that for decades Washington has sought to minimize the Russian role in North Korea.
Until US President George W Bush gratuitously offered Russia an uncompensated role here in the North Korea talks, Moscow had nothing to offer and few parties wanted it involved. It was only once Putin successfully persuaded North Korea that it could be a useful interlocutor that Pyongyang said it wanted Russia involved. Undoubtedly it did so to offset China whose power is too great and whose border too long for its comfort. But Washington, which was not under any compulsion to draw Moscow into the process, did so, and required no compensation for doing it, thus giving Putin an easy victory at no discernible cost.
Thus, Russia has been freed from the responsibility of actually having to offer comprehensive proposals and to a considerable degree can be a free rider at these talks. Which means Moscow has so far succeeded in getting a seat at the table even though it apparently has no independent ideas of its own on how to proceed and precious few resources to give away in order to craft a solution.
Fears of marginalization Despite it's seat at the table, Russia continues to fear its potential marginalization in Asia generally, and Korea in particular, fears which are traced to two primary concerns:
First, that the US penchant for unilateral action may bring about a war - hence Losyukov's warnings about the dangers of unilateral US military action. A war would bring about a situation inherently dangerous and unpredictable, especially if the DPRK has nuclear weapons.
And second, that rising Chinese economic power will marginalize Moscow's ability to play a major role in Korea.
Russia is anxious over China's rising power because Moscow has major economic interests tied to its geopolitical objectives of maintaining North and South Korea in balance, integrating the North with the rest of the world, and using the two Koreas to help Russia's own stricken Eastern and Asian provinces recover economically. Thus it is seeking debt repayment from the North, even if its has to sell arms to Pyongyang. Moscow also encourages the North to reform, seeks either to pay off or have its debts forgiven by South Korea, and take advantage of its proximity to the Korean peninsula to construct its so-called Iron Silk Road, a railroad linking the two Koreas to the Trans-Siberian railroad and thus to Moscow and Europe.
The Iron Silk Road is of major geostrategic and economic significance to Russia. It would rival the European Union's Silk Road project from Europe to the Pacific Ocean, through the Caucasus and Central Asia - bypassing Russia in its course. And the Russian project, if undertaken, would also rival China's efforts to build a pan-Asian railway and advance its transport infrastructure.
Furthermore, a war on the Korean peninsula and/or any monopolization of aid to North Korea by Washington or Beijing would exclude Moscow from economic and political consideration, leaving its rundown and underdeveloped eastern provinces acutely vulnerable, mainly to Chinese economic pressure. Either or both of these contingencies - conflict or exclusion of Moscow from aiding North Korea - also makes it impossible to realize Russia's economic and political objectives regarding its Asiatic trade or the development of North Korea.
Thus, beyond being accepted as a legitimate part of any Korean "peace process", it is also essential for Moscow to be deeply involved, to whatever extent possible, in the economic dimensions of a solution to the Korean dilemma. Moreover, it does not want to have to choose among Beijing, Seoul and Washington, realizing that doing so makes it vulnerable to pressure from China or the US.
Seeking a role in the big issues of Asian security Last, the legitimization of Russia's participation in the six-power North Korea process opens possibilities for its equally legitimate participation in broader multilateral discussions, either in number or in scope, concerning the great questions of Asian security, a position that Moscow covets but which has hitherto proved elusive.
Arguably these concerns and the need to balance them to stave off nuclearization, war, or the collapse of North Korea - which also would enhance Beijing's and Washington's clout, not Moscow's - govern Putin's and Losyukov's efforts. These concerns and fears inform Moscow's simultaneous warnings to Pyongyang to denuclearize and to Washington to refrain from provocative acts, and its support for aid to the North based on its comparative advantage in energy and electricity in the region.
Therefore, it is hardly surprising that Moscow wants the talks to go on, whatever difficulties they encounter, and regards their mere continuation as progress. Likewise, it is clear why Russia wants North Korea to denuclearize and is not so insistent on the specifics of a verification regime and compensation to the DPRK in the field of energy - as long as it is included in both aspects of that part of the solution.
Similarly these goals also explain why Russia tries to maintain close ties to both North and South Korea, not to mention Beijing and Washington. Finally, this hierarchy or framework of concerns driving Russian policy also explains its very high and sustained interest in inducing the North to undertake economic reconstruction to which Moscow can contribute - but from which it also can benefit.
This assessment of Russia's position at the North Korea talks cannot answer all the questions regarding those negotiations, or even concerning Russia's position as the talks go on. But seeking greater clarity and trying to dispel the fog of ambiguity that envelops North Korea is valuable for its own sake and can help the other parties understand Moscow's goals. Now that it is an accepted interlocutor in this process - even though it gave nothing to gain this seat at the table - a clearer insight into Moscow's objectives and positions is a necessary, if insufficient, step in making progress and reaching a mutually acceptable solution to the threat of a nuclear North Korea.
Stephen Blank is an analyst of international security affairs residing in Harrisburg, PA.
2. Losyukov: NKorea Agrees To Freeze Nuclear Programme
(for personal use only)
MOSCOW, February 29 (Itar-Tass) - Pyongyang “agreed to freeze its nuclear programme while settling this problem”, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov said in an exclusive interview with Tass on Sunday after his return from Beijing where he headed the Russian delegation at the six-party talks on the North Korean nuclear problem. “This is a positive move,” he emphasized.
According to the deputy minister, “North Korea considered a possibility of getting any compensations for this, including in the energy aid sphere”. “Our delegation and China expressed support for North Korea in this issue,” he added.
“The international KEDO consortium is a dead project,” the diplomat claimed. “The United States will not participate in it, since it demands North Korea’s refusal, apart from developing nuclear weapons, from the nuclear programme in the energy sphere,” Losyukov explained. He reported that “the Beijing talks did not discuss the KEDO”.
3. Talks on NKorea Nuke Problem Largely Depend on Working Group
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BEIJING, February 29 (Itar-Tass) - Prospects of talks on the nuclear problem in the Korean Peninsula largely depend on an understanding to set up a working group. It was reached during the second round of the six-party talks which ended here on Saturday at a meeting with the participation of North Korea, the United States, China, Russia, South Korea and Japan, said head of the Russian delegation and Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov in an interview with Tass before his departure from Beijing.
“Attempts and efforts will be made in the near future to set up such a group and to outline a range of its tasks,” he noted. “If work proceeds smoothly. If not, questions will pop up on prospects of the entire process, which would be an undesirable thing of course.”
Appraising the results of the second round, Losyukov stated that “expectations have come true”. “On the other hand, there is a feeling of dissatisfaction, since the negotiators could have achieved more. But this, regrettably, depended on the positions of our leading partners in the talks – the U.S. and North Korea,” the diplomat continued.
Losyukov pointed to the persisting “great difference” in the approaches of Pyongyang and Washington, which “interferes with progress” of the dialogue. According to the deputy minister, “despite some signs of flexibility”, their stands remain “very tough”.
1. India Interested In Joint Nuclear Power Projects With Russia
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NEW DELHI, March 4 (Itar-Tass) - Russia's Deputy Atomic Energy Ministry Vladimir Asmolov said during the visit to India "an interesting an useful exchange of views took place regarding the development of bilateral cooperation in the field of nuclear power engineering."
The parties focused on such issues as joint research in using thorium and safety control over operating light-water reactors, Asmolov told Itar-Tass on Thursday.
India was interested in participating in and the funding of the developing a more powerful light water reactor, which Russia plans to install at its Leningrad plant.
Unfortunately, Russia has no opportunities to fully take part in implementing Indian program in the field of nuclear power engineering, because of the bans introduced by the Nuclear Suppliers Group, Asmolov said.
But Russia, he emphasized, is ready to support New Delhi in the issue of lifting these restrictions.
At the same time, India, as the interested party, should also show the appropriate initiative, he said.
In the course of the visit, the deputy minister visited the construction site in the southern state of Tamilnadu, where India is building the Kudankulam nuclear power plant with Russia's assistance.
India expressed readiness for boosting cooperation in the Kudankulam project, and increasing the number of reactors from two to four or six.
2. Russia To Complete Construction Of NPP In Kudankulam By 2007
(for personal use only)
NEW DELHI, MARCH 4 (RIA NOVOSTI CORRESPONDENT Valery Sevryukov) - Russia fulfills the contract-established schedule of building the nuclear power plant (NPP) in the Indian town of Kudankulam (Tamil Nadu state), and is going to complete the construction by 2007. This information was disclosed by deputy atomic energy minister Vladimir Asmolov in an interview with RIA Novosti in New Delhi.
He took part in the session of the coordinating committee on the NPP construction in Kudankulam, after which the sides expressed satisfaction with the high rates and quality of the work.
The Russian-Indian contract for the building of two atomic blocks with a total capacity of two million kW was signed in July 1999. It cost has been estimated at $2.5 billion.
Asmolov reported that India is interested in the construction by Russia of still another two such blocks within the framework of the program to increase atomic energy production to 20 million kW by 2020.
According to him, Russia is ready to realize these projects. But India, as the most interested side, should be more active in negotiations with the IAEA on the non-proliferation of nuclear technologies, the deputy minister pointed out.
According to Vladimir Asmolov, Russia believes it is possible to implement similar projects in China, Iran, and Egypt in the future.
1. President Criticizes Military Over Recent Missile Failures
Radio Free Europe
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Speaking to senior government officials in the Kremlin on 1 March, President Putin ordered the military to determine the causes of a series of recent missile-launch failures "as soon as possible," and ordered the Defense Ministry to repeat the exercises during which the failures occurred, "Vremya novostei" reported on 2 March (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18, 19, and 20 February and 1 March 2004). During the meeting, acting Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said that "many other deficiencies" were uncovered during the recent exercises, but he did not elaborate. He said that Russian Navy commander Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov will travel to the Northern Fleet on 4 March to oversee the work of the commission investigating the missile failures. The daily commented that because of the launch failures "the entire world now doubts the readiness of our missiles." RC
2. Shortcomings In Russian Drill To Be Analyzed By April
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MOSCOW, March 2 (Itar-Tass) -- The interdepartmental commission will find out reasons for shortcomings in the recent strategic training of the Russian Armed Forces no earlier than April, acting defense minister Sergei Ivanov said on Tuesday.
On Monday President Vladimir Putin instructed Ivanov to analyze the shortcomings and have another drill, which will confirm that the shortcomings are eliminated.
The exercises, which involved all components of the strategic nuclear triad, the Space Troops and the Army, had their active phase on February 10-18. Computer simulation of two launches of sea-based ballistic missiles was done aboard the Novomoskovsk submarine on February 17. The automatic system failed in the launch of an RSM-54 missile (Skif by the NATO classification) in the Barents Sea. The Karelia nuclear-powered submarine launched a missile the day after. The missile deviated from the trajectory and liquidated itself.
A commission set up to investigate the causes of the unsuccessful launches of sea-based ballistic missiles during recent strategic exercises believes the failure of two 17 February launches from the "Novovoskovsk" nuclear submarine might have resulted either from a fault in the vessel's navigation system or in the RSM-54 missile itself (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 February 2004), "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 27 February. The commission, which is headed by Colonel General Aleksandr Rukshin, deputy chief of the armed forces' General Staff and chief of the Main Operations Directorate, suspects the 18 February failure of a test RSM-54 launch from the "Karelia" nuclear sub (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 and 20 February 2004) was caused either by a malfunction in the missile's guidance system or incorrect missile targeting. The commission will also probe "the unsatisfactory organization of training and of the conduct of the exercises by the Northern Fleet command," "Kommersant-Daily" reported. The Defense Ministry's newspaper "Krasnaya zvezda" reported on 25 February that a new "hypersonic missile technology" tested during the exercises will allow strategic missiles to act like "a swarm of bees" and overwhelm any potential U.S. "umbrella" antimissile system. JB
4. New Exercises To Be Held In Russia Upon Causes Of Failures Cleared
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MOSCOW, March 1, (Itar-Tass) - Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the setting up of a commission that will look into the causes of the failures that happened during the recent military exercises.
President Putin said the commission should produce a report containing not only “the causes identified but also proposals for their elimination.”
The head of state ordered new military exercises to be held in the Russian Federation for him to see that all the failures that happened during the recent war games will not happen again.
In the middle of February, air defense and missile defense launches were practiced and the anti-aircraft and missile systems were fired from the board of the Pyotr Velikiy heavy nuclear cruiser in the Barents Sea.
On February 17, the firing of two ballistic missiles from the nuclear missile submarine “Novomoskovsk” flopped. North Fleet sources said a satellite had blocked the signal for the launch. According to the official version, the two ballistic missiles were launched “virtually”, or electronically.
On February 18, the Sineva ballistic missile launched from the Karelia nuclear ship was destroyed by its self-destruct system upon deviating from the set trajectory. Experts are working to establish the causes of the failures.
The Russian Defense Ministry plans to hold new exercises to confirm that the shortfalls, which occurred during the strategic command staff training in February, have been eliminated.
President Putin told the defense ministry to “plan exercises, albeit not at the scale that was, for me personally to see” that the shortcomings have been eliminated.
Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, for his part, reported to the president that the commission “is already functioning.” He said, “A number of shortcomings” have already been identified. “We are working intensively to identify the causes of the failures, I will report the results separately,” Ivanov said.
He also reported to the president on the “episodes that remained off-screen” during the exercises. He was responding to the president’s question “Have you summed up the results of the exercises?”
Ivanov pointed to the “actions of the land forces,” whose units had been airlifted from the Siberian and Volga-Urals districts to the West. Those units “showed good combat coherency,” Ivanov said.
“If we aim at making the Armed Forces mobile, it is necessary to hold such exercises on a regular basis,” the acting defense minister said. He went on to say that “the defense ministry plans to intensively practice this form.”
The minister also recalled that the Air Force “performed 55 combat missions, including six long-range aviation missions and two launches of cruise missiles; all the targets were hit.”
1. Rosenergoatom to Allocate 10 Billion Rubles for Kursk NPP in 2004
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The Rosenergoatom nuclear power generating company will spend 5 billion rubles ($175m) on finishing fifth unit and another 5 billion on upgrading the second unit.
Rosenergoatom spokesman informed the Interfax news agency. "Seventy to eighty percent of the construction operations at the Kursk nuclear power plant's fifth power generating unit have already been completed," the spokesman said. Ivanov said that "after the third power generating unit of the Kalinin nuclear power plant starts operations, Rosenergoatom will give top priority to building the Kursk nuclear power plant's fifth power generating unit and the second power generating unit of the Volgodonsk nuclear power plant."
Kursk NPP operates four reactors of RBMK-1000 type (Chernobyl type). Rosenergoatom operates 30 power generating units at ten nuclear power plants. The company increased electricity output by nearly 6% in 2003.
2. Rosenergoatom to Spend About 50 Billion Rubles on Balakovo NPP
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The cost of launching the second phase of Balakovo NPP is estimated at about 50 billion rubles ($1,752m) a source in Rosenergoatom told Interfax.
"Construction of the second phase of Balakovo Nuclear Power Plant was started in the 1980s and halted at the start of the 1990s, the fifth power-producing unit has been 60% completed and the sixth unit – 25%-30%," the source said.
"Work on the designs for the fifth unit continued this year, taking modern requirements into consideration, particularly regarding safety and reliability. The phase of public and state examination of the project is beginning," the Rosenergoatom representative said. He said that by the end of 2004 it is planned to receive a license to continue work on the fifth unit, and permission to start construction in 2004. If there is stable financing for the project the fifth unit may provide its first electricity in 2008.
Balakovo Nuclear Power Plant has four power-producing units with VVER-1000 reactors. The new units will also have VVER-1000 reactors. The cost of electricity production at Balakovo is the lowest at all Russian nuclear and thermal plants - 18 kopecks per kWh.
1. Ukrainian President To Discuss New Chernobyl Containment Building With Hans Blix
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KIEV, March 2 (RIA Novosti) - Today President Leonid Kuchma of Ukraine will hold talks with the former chief UN inspector, Hans Blix, on the construction of a new containment building for the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the site of a large-scale accident in April 1986. Dr. Blix is the head of the Assembly of Donors of the international fund that is funding the construction of the containment building.
The old containment building was built over the fourth power-generating unit of the nuclear power plant immediately following the accident. Although the guaranteed service life of old containment building expires in two years, specialists are already concerned about it because there are cracks in the walls of the containment building and its roof has sunk. Fears about the condition of the protective installation are further increased because scientists do not know anything about the current processes inside the reactor or the condition of the remaining 200 metric tons of nuclear fuel.
Experts have not ruled out that the collapse of the containment building could produce even more tragic environmental consequences than the accident itself 18 years ago.
The new containment building, Ukrytiye-2 (Shelter-2), has already been designed and will be built near the fourth power-generating unit and then moved onto it. It must have a service life of 100 years. The cost of the work to ensure security of the damaged power-generating unit, including the construction of the new containment building, is $758 million. The construction will be financed by the Ukrytiye International Chernobyl Fund ($708 million) and the Ukrainian government ($50 million). The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development acts as the operator of the financing of the project.
The work to stabilize the structures of the existing containment building will be completed by April 2006, and the construction of the new containment building's foundation will start immediately following that. The assembly of the new containment building will start in February 2008.
1. Canada Joins International Science And Technology Center
Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade of Canada
(for personal use only)
March 4, 2004 Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
Canada today acceded to the International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) in Moscow, an intergovernmental non-proliferation organization founded in 1992 by Japan, Norway, the United States and the European Union. Canada and the ISTC signed a memorandum of understanding detailing the modalities of Canada's participation as a new ISTC member. Canada will occupy a seat on the Governing Board and participate in the Science Advisory Committee. Canada will also provide $18 million annually to fund ISTC projects aimed at integrating former weapons scientists in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) into the international scientific community to carry out peaceful research activities.
"Redirecting former Russian weapons scientists into civilian applications is a key element of our international security agenda and a high priority for Canada under the G8 Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction," said Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham. "Canada's accession to the Center will allow us to contribute effectively to an organization that builds on international cooperation to enhance international safety and security. It is a very positive development in strengthening Canada's commitment to the Global Partnership."
Canada's annual funding commitment will go toward the ISTC Science Program, supplemental programs and operating budget commitments. The employment of former weapons scientists is part of the Global Partnership, launched in June 2002 at Kananaskis by G8 leaders. The Partnership commits the G8 to raise up to US$20 billion to support cooperation projects, initially in Russia, aimed at preventing the acquisition of weapons and materials of mass destruction by terrorists or those who shelter them.
ISTC objectives include giving CIS weapons scientists, particularly those with knowledge and skills related to weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, opportunities to redirect their talents to peaceful activities; contributing to solving national and international technical problems; supporting the transition to market-based economies; supporting basic and applied research; and encouraging the integration of CIS weapons scientists into the international scientific community.
For additional information on the Global Partnership and Canada's efforts, please visit http://www.globalpartnership.gc.ca.
For further information, media representatives may contact:
Isabelle Savard Director of Communications Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs (613) 995-1851
Media Relations Office Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (613) 995-1874 http://www.dfait-maeci.gc.ca
2. Canada Accedes to the International Science and Technology Center
International Science and Technology Center
(for personal use only)
The Moscow-based International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) announced that Canada has become a full member of the ISTC on 1 March 2004. Canada now joins the European Union, Japan, Russia, and the United States as Governing Board participant. With the inclusion of Canada, there are now 27 member countries in the ISTC.
Canada announced earlier in 2003 its intention to pledge annually up to CA$18 million to ISTC under Canada's Former Weapons Scientists Program, which is part of its contribution to Global Partnership. Canada is also active in the Science and Technology Center in Ukraine, whose contributions are administered by the Canadian International Development Agency.
The ISTC Governing Board Chair, Dr. Ronald Lehman II noted: "The Governing Board of the ISTC is very pleased to welcome Canada as its newest participant. The inclusion of the ISTC in the portfolio of Canada's Global Partnership activities will greatly assist all ISTC Parties in engaging scientists from the military complex in peaceful science. The new Canada resources and expertise are most welcome."
The ISTC is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the nonproliferation of weapons technologies of mass destruction. It coordinates the efforts of numerous governments, international organizations, and private sector industries to provide weapons scientists with opportunities to redirect their talents to peaceful science.
For more information:
Alexander Ivanchenko - Public Information Officer, ISTC Tel: 7 (095) 797-6044 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.istc.ru
Bill Bhaneja - Senior Program Manager, DFAIT, Canada Tel: 1 (613) 944-1732 E-mail: email@example.com http://www.globalpartnership.gc.ca
3. The Administration's Priorities In Europe (excerpted)
A. Elizabeth Jones
Department of State
(for personal use only)
A. Elizabeth Jones, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs
Testimony Before the House International Relations Committee Subcommittee on Europe
We injected new energy into our security cooperation with the EU by signing a joint statement on non-proliferation, resulting in closer coordination on multilateral export control regimes and safeguarding of nuclear materials in the former Soviet Union. Several members of the European Union have joined the Proliferation Security Initiative to interdict the illicit transfer of nuclear equipment.
The EU and member states coordinated closely with us in the IAEA to put pressure on Iran to bring its nuclear program into compliance with IAEA rules. Together with the IAEA, we are working closely to verify Iran's commitment to suspension of enrichment-related activity and transparency.
We will continue to stress to our EU partners and to Russia that any nuclear cooperation with Iran remain on hold until Iran's commitment has been carried out and verified.
Libya's about-face on its weapons of mass destruction programs and renunciation of terrorism is the prize for keen, quiet diplomacy we conducted with help from the United Kingdom and Italy. The significance of this reversal and of Libya's efforts to rejoin the community of nations cannot be overstated. We welcome Libya's change of course and encourage other countries to follow Colonel Qadhafi's example.
Following our success in Libya, the EU is seeking similar pledges from Syria, tying progress on this issue into the Association Agreement they are presently negotiating with Syria. Syria's access to EU markets would then depend on such pledges. We think it is important that improvements in economic relations between Syria and western countries be accompanied by meaningful steps to move Syria away from proliferation and terrorism. More broadly in the Greater Middle East, we hope to work with the G-8 and the EU to implement the President's vision of bringing more prosperity and open political participation to the region.
4. Watch Officer Exchange with Russian Nuclear Risk Reduction Center
Department of State
(for personal use only)
The U.S. Department of State is pleased to announce an exchange of staff by the United States Nuclear Risk Reduction Center and its counterpart in the Russian Federation. The Nuclear Risk Reduction Center, part of the U.S. Department of State s Bureau of Verification and Compliance, will be hosting two Russian Watch Officers from March 22-26. The Russian Center will host U.S. Watch Officers in April.
The Nuclear Risk Reduction Centers are responsible for vital time-sensitive communications required by arms control treaties and security agreements. Watch Officers staff their Centers around the clock, receiving, translating, and disseminating these notifications, which go directly to the Russian Ministry of Defense and the U.S. Department of State without passing through the respective Embassies. The Centers were established under an agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union in 1987. There are now equivalent Centers in Moscow, Russia; Kiev, Ukraine; Minsk, Belarus; and Almaty, Kazakhstan.
The exchange between the U.S. and the Russian Nuclear Risk Reduction Center is part of the U.S. commitment to enhance transparency in our relationship with Russia.
During their visit here, the Russian officers will meet their professional counterparts and become familiar with the U.S. Center s operating procedures.
We view this as an excellent opportunity to improve the working relationship and operational effectiveness of the reciprocal flow of treaty data and notifications, as well as to build more openness into our relationship with Russia.
For further information, contact Peter Eisenhauer, 202-647-1895
5. Chairman's Statement for The Second Round of Six-Party Talks (February 28th, 2004)
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Daily News Bulletin
(for personal use only)
1. The Second Round of Six-Party Talks was held in Beijing among the People's Republic of China, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, and the United States of America from 25th to 28th of February, 2004.
2. The heads of delegations were Mr Wang Yi, Vice Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of PRC; Mr Kim Gye Gwan, Vice Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of DPRK; Ambassador Mitoji Yabunaka, Director-General for the Asian and Oceanian Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan; Ambassador Lee Soo-hyuck, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the ROK; Ambassador A. Losyukov, Vice Minister. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia; Mr. James A, Kelly, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, United States Department of State.
3. The Parties agreed that the second round of the Six-Party Talks had launched the discussion on substantive issues, which was beneficial and positive, and that the attitudes of all parties were serious in the discussion. Through the talks, while differences remained, the Parties enhanced their understanding of each other's positions.
4. The Parties expressed their commitment to a nuclear-weapon-free Korean Peninsula, and to resolving the nuclear issue peacefully through dialogue in a spirit of mutual respect and consultations on an equal basis, so as to maintain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and the region at large.
5. The Parties expressed their willingness to coexist peacefully. They agreed to take coordinated steps to address the nuclear issue and address the related concerns.
6. The Parties agreed to continue the process of the talks and agreed in principle to hold the third round of the Six-Party Talks in Beijing no later than the end of the second quarter of 2004. They agreed to set up a working group in preparation for the plenary. The terms of reference of the working group will be established through diplomatic channels.
7. The delegations of the DPRK, Japan, the ROK, Russia and the USA have expressed their appreciation to the Chinese side for the efforts aimed at the successful staging of the two rounds of the Six-Party Talks.
6. PRESS RELEASE On Six-Way Talks Second Round Held in Beijing
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Daily News Bulletin
(for personal use only)
The second round of six-way talks on the nuclear problem on the Korean Peninsula was held in Beijing on February 25-28, with delegations from the Russian Federation, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the United States of America, the People's Republic of China, the Republic of Korea and Japan in attendance. Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexander Losyukov headed the Russian delegation.
The results of the talks were summed up in a statement by their chairman - PRC Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi.
In particular, the sides have reaffirmed that their aim is to ensure the nuclear-weapons-free status of the Korean Peninsula by peaceful means through dialogue in a spirit of mutual respect.
The sides agreed to move towards the goal set on the basis of coordinated steps and with due consideration for mutual concerns.
Agreement was reached in principle to hold the third round of six-way talks in Beijing before the end of the second quarter of the current year and to set up a working group for its preparation.
Moscow considers the talks useful and expresses readiness to do everything necessary for solving the nuclear problem of the Korean Peninsula along with ensuring the security of the DPRK and providing normal conditions for its economic and social development.
Domenici Advises Sec. State to Find Right People to Resolve Plutonium Disposition Impasse
WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Pete Domenici today strongly advised that Secretary of State Colin Powell find the right people to help resolve a technical dispute that is putting the future of a plutonium proliferation program in jeopardy.
Domenici addressed Powell and the future of the plutonium disposition program between the United States and the Russian Federation. The major international program is stalled over a dispute on liability indemnification. Powell was testifying today before the Senate Budget Committee on the FY2005 budget requests for the Department of State.
“Weapons of mass destruction, their components and scientists, are moving around the world. That is our reality today, and I find it very frustrating that we have a major program in place to deal with proliferation and it isn’t going anywhere,” Domenici said.
“I am heartened by President Bush’s significant speech on proliferation. But we have the plutonium disposition program stuck in limbo over the tiny indemnification issue that should be easily resolved. It’s not being resolved now, so I believe Secretary Powell should find the right people to do the job and stand solidly behind them until the problem is worked out,” he said.
Domenici in 1998 secured an initial $200 million to support the Plutonium Disposition Program between the United States and the Russian Federation. That year an agreement was signed under which each nation agreed to take specific action to transform up to 50 tons of surplus weapons-grade plutonium into a form that can no longer be used in nuclear weapons.
“With revelations that components for weapons of mass destruction are being spread, we must reorient ourselves with our priorities. The plutonium disposition program is in the best interest of the world, and not just the United States or Russia,” Domenici said. “I firmly believe that with Colin Powell offering firm leadership, we can move this program forward and make sure many tons of weapons grade plutonium cannot be used for weapons.”
Powell said the liability indemnification impasse has been “an issue of considerable discussion” within the State Department and related federal agencies. At today’s hearing, Powell focused on several priorities within the foreign affairs budget, including the reconstruction efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Millennium Challenge program to allocate funds to countries committed to a democratic government, and the international HIV/AIDS initiative.
Domenici commended Powell for, among other things, his stewardship of President Bush’s HIV/AIDS initiative.
Domenici, the former Budget Committee chairman, also heads the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee that funds the Department of Energy and its National Nuclear Security Administration. DOE and NNSA are responsible for a large faction of American nonproliferation activities. He is a leading proponent for nonproliferation issues in Congress.
8. Addressing the National Security Challenges of Our Time: Fighting Terror and the Spread of Weapons of Mass Destruction (excerpted)
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton
Brookings Leadership Forum
(for personal use only)
Last week, the Bush Administration took a positive step toward strengthening worldwide defenses against nuclear proliferation. The President's proposal to restrict exports of uranium enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing technology, to non-nuclear nations and has called for greater GA involvement in nonproliferation programs are welcomed.
However, by and of itself, his proposal will not do enough to stem the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The rhetoric is still not matched by the resources or the commitment.
By far, the smartest most effective, easiest thing we could do right now is to expand the Nunn-Lugar Act. This bipartisan law signed by the first President Bush and strongly supported by my husband, during his terms, channels money to the former Soviet Union to destroy weapons and to employ the scientists who created the weapons of the WMDs there. And to ensure that plutonium and uranium are rendered useless.
We know that, thanks to Nunn-Lugar, enough fissile material to make five thousand nuclear bombs is now out of harm's way. As much good as that law has accomplished already, it could do even more if we expanded it. But efforts to do so have been rebuffed at every turn.
Remarkably, despite the President's recent speech in which he praised Nunn-Lugar, the Administration's budget for the coming fiscal year actually cuts funding for the Nunn-Lugar program by 10 percent. The recent news reports that dozens of missiles equipped with dirty-bomb warheads may be missing in the former Soviet Republic of Moldova only underscores the need to get a handle on the weapons and the scientists we know are out there.
And with the recent disclosures coming out of Pakistan, we're getting more information about the network of transfers that have occurred. Now is the time to move an expand the Nunn-Lugar mandate, even beyond the former Soviet Union.
I hope that this will occur, but the signs out of the Administration, thus far, have not been encouraging.
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