With much fanfare, the world's two nuclear superpowers announced in 1998 that they would destroy 68 tons of plutonium stripped from bombs and warheads. The cost, counted in billions, would be borne largely by the United States and European governments intent on removing dangerous fissile material from circulation.
Six years later, the project sits stalled. The plutonium remains intact, and no construction has begun on either of the planned processing factories. In frustration, some U.S. analysts and politicians are doubting the Bush administration's commitment.
This has happened because the United States and Russia have been unable to agree on who would pay if an accident -- or sabotage -- occurred in Russia. The Bush administration wants Russia to take full responsibility, and the Russians are balking.
The stalemate comes when the fear of nuclear terrorism is growing and President Bush is pledging aggressive action. Nuclear specialists and some members of Congress say the case highlights a failure by the White House to back up its nonproliferation ambitions with action.
"How a little issue of indemnification can hold this up is beyond me," Sen. Pete V. Domenici (R-N.M.) told top Energy Department officials at a recent hearing. "This is a way to get rid of a huge chunk of nuclear-grade plutonium."
The project was blocked by "trivial negotiating issues," Domenici said. He added that he told the White House "that maybe they ought to put some bigger people in the position of negotiating." Plutonium is not easily obtained, but Russia is considered to be the site of the largest and most vulnerable stockpiles.
"It's a very messy, messy situation," said Kenneth Luongo, executive director of the Russian American Nuclear Security Advisory Council. The project, he said, has been "in the works for a decade, and we haven't moved beyond the talking phase."
Agreements to build parallel plants in Siberia and South Carolina expired last year. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said in March that the administration hoped to resolve the issue by this spring and asserted that it "is being worked at high levels."
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld are among those who have raised the issue with their Russian counterparts. Despite intensive discussions within the administration in recent weeks, a White House official conceded that the issue is "one of those things that have been on the one-yard line a long time." Abraham reported in his annual budget request that construction was officially 10 months behind schedule but should begin by May 2005 if an agreement can be reached. He said money will be needed to start building the plants that convert plutonium into mixed oxide fuel for nuclear reactors.
"We are confident that we can work it out. We are not that far apart, believe it or not," said Paul M. Longsworth, deputy Energy Department administrator, who acknowledged that the positions remain "pretty firm right now."
"Plutonium disposition is a 20-year program that is going to eliminate enough plutonium to make far more than 10,000 nuclear weapons," Longsworth said. "You've got to start it right."
On Feb. 11, in a speech intended to amplify his record on nonproliferation and inspire other countries to do more, the president declared that governments around the world "must do all we can to secure and eliminate nuclear and chemical and biological and radiological materials."
A particular worry is that terrorist organizations or rogue states will buy or steal a nuclear weapon or the fissile material that powers an atomic blast. Many scientists and public policy experts believe that an organized group or government that acquires fissile material would have little trouble assembling a crude weapon.
To build an atomic bomb from 50-year-old technology would require about 13 pounds of plutonium, said Thomas Cochran, director of nuclear projects at the Natural Resources Defense Council. Libya, which recently abandoned its fledgling secret nuclear program, acquired a bomb design of that vintage from the illicit supply network run by Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan.
U.S. government facilities are also vulnerable, the General Accounting Office said in a report released late last month. The Energy Department's responses to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were "not sufficient" to ensure that all of its sites are prepared "to defend themselves against the higher terrorist threat present in a post-Sept. 11 . . . world," the GAO said.
In Russia, basic security improvements have not been made at dozens of military installations where more than 60 percent of the country's plutonium and weapons-grade uranium is kept, the GAO warned last year.
GAO auditors blamed Russia for failing to allow U.S. officials to visit key sites but also said Congress and the Bush administration exacerbated the delays by denying critical funds or refusing to grant contract waivers. When the report came out, the United States had spent $6 billion since 1992 to help Russia destroy or safeguard nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.
"The big problem is there's a leadership gap. These are not big obstacles. They can be handled by leaders who are determined and can be focused," said former U.S. senator Sam Nunn, who with Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.) backed the vast counterproliferation program that bears their names.
The project to destroy 68 tons of plutonium -- half in Russia and half in the United States -- was designed as part of the cooperative project to reduce the risk of fissile material falling into the wrong hands. Announced during the Clinton administration, the program was formally launched during a presidential summit in Moscow in 1998.
Domenici, who helped direct $200 million to the project in its first year, attended the summit as President Bill Clinton's guest. He has been among the sharpest critics of the Bush administration's inability to keep the program on track.
The sticking point is the issue of liability for potentially catastrophic problems. In threat-reduction agreements signed in the mid-1990s, Russia agreed to take responsibility in return for help from foreign governments in disarming former Soviet nuclear weapons and improving security.
"If something blew, Russia would pay. No ifs, ands or buts," said Leonard S. Spector, director of the Washington office for the Monterey Institute of International Studies' Center for Nonproliferation Studies. But on the plutonium program and a project known as the Nuclear Cities Initiative, the Russians insisted that if U.S. contractors were to blame, they or the federal government should be liable for damages and possible prosecution.
Sabotage is a particular worry, the Russians told U.S. negotiators, who have been led by Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton.
"They kept saying, 'Hey, you can hire Chechen rebels under contract and they could blow up our facilities, and we would be powerless to prosecute,' " said an administration official closely involved in the issues, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "We said that's ridiculous. We don't hire people who will conduct sabotage."
The Bush administration is adamant that U.S. companies and officials are engaged in a goodwill effort and should not be held liable for unintended problems. The liability negotiations commanded attention at the 2002 summit of the world's most industrialized countries, which pledged $20 billion for 10 years of nonproliferation programs in Russia.
There is a disagreement within the administration, where sources said the Defense and State departments have demanded the more stringent liability provision, while the Energy Department believed that a somewhat less rigorous formula was sufficient.
"What you would have thought was an incidental legal issue looms so large," said Spector, who suggested sharing the burden, a structure established in the civilian nuclear power sector. "Everybody is frustrated that an additional hurdle is being presented that has to be overcome."
As the negotiations continue, the potential dangers remain, critics believe.
"The implications are that you're going to have 68 additional tons of weapons-grade plutonium lying around the United States and Russia," said Luongo, the nuclear security specialist. "And Russia, in particular, is where security is not up to global standards."
1. House Committee Backs Bush Nuclear Weapons Funding (excerpted)
Global Security Newswire
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WASHINGTON ï¿½ The House Armed Services Committee yesterday joined its Senate counterpart in approving the Bush administrationï¿½s nuclear weapons research and development and test readiness initiatives for fiscal 2005, while also cutting some missile defense funding (see GSN, May 12).
Money to aid in securing and destroying weapons of mass destruction and associated materials in the former Soviet states was also approved in full as the committee unanimously sent the $422 billion defense authorization bill for fiscal 2005 to the full House of Representatives.
Nuclear Arms Control
The committee also fully approved the Defense Departmentï¿½s $409.2 million request for its Cooperative Threat Reduction program, which largely aims to secure and eliminate former Soviet nuclear, chemical and biological weapons capabilities.
While Hunter has been an outspoken critic of the program, the summary praised the Pentagon for ï¿½positive stepsï¿½ to oversee the effort.
However, it noted ï¿½reasons for concernï¿½ about Russiaï¿½s commitment to the programï¿½s goals, citing:
Continued Russian strategic force modernization, including several new intercontinental ballistic missiles (see GSN, March 1);
Questions about the completeness and accuracy of Russiaï¿½s declarations regarding its chemical weapons stockpile; and
Russiaï¿½s lack of a credible plan to destroy its nerve stockpile agent.
1. Zvezdochka Received Delta-I Sub For Dismantling
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The Russian navy handed over its 31 years old nuclear submarine Kislovodsk to the Zvezdochka plant, ITAR-TASS reported.
The US Cooperative Threat Reduction program, or CTR, will finance the dismantling works. Zvezdochkaï¿½s press secretary Nadezhda Sherbinina told ITAR-TASS that the plant received total over $60m from the CTR program what helped to establish an infrastructure for nuclear submarine dismantling and safe handling of the radioactive materials and waste. Besides, six submarines of Delta-I type have been dismantled. K-447 Kislovodsk (order no.311) was built in 1973 at the Sevmash plant in Severodvinsk, Arkhangelsk region. The submarines of this type have 139-m length, 550-m submergence depth, 26 knots speed and a crew of 120 submariners. Kislovodsk could carry 12 ballistic missiles of SS-N-12 type.
2. Berlin To Allocate Russia 300 Mln Euros To Store Sub Reactors
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BERLIN, May 13 (Itar-Tass) - Germany expressed readiness to allocate 300 million euros to build coastal facilities for long-term storage of reactor sections of N-submarines, written off by the Russian navy, said on Thursday deputy head of the Russian Nuclear Energy Agency Sergei Antipov in an interview with Tass.
Antipov holds talks at the German Foreign Ministry on prospects for Russian-German cooperation in implementing the Agreement on realizing multilateral nuclear-ecological programme in Russia.
Construction of a storage, which will be conducted on Cape Saida in the Barents Sea, ï¿½is now the largest projectï¿½ within the initiative ï¿½Global partnership against the spread of weapons and materials of mass destruction,ï¿½ Antipov emphasized. The document was adopted in 2002 by the G-8 leaders at the summit in Canadian Kananaskis. ï¿½All in all, we concluded around ten contracts with the German side, and several dozen millions of dollars are involved in the construction,ï¿½ Antipov continued. ï¿½Germany repeatedly got convinced that the appropriated funds were used strictly for the construction.ï¿½
The project of the storage was designed by experts of the Russian research center Kurchatovsky Institute and the German energy enterprise Energiwerke Nord.
3. Russia Can Scrap Written-Off N-Submarines By 2010
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BERLIN, May 13 (Itar-Tass) - If the present rates of scrapping written-off nuclear submarines of the Russian navy are maintained, Russia can complete this work by the year 2010, said on Thursday deputy head of the Russian Nuclear Energy Agency Sergei Antipov in an interview with Tass. According to the deputy head, agencyï¿½s companies annually scrap 15 written-off nuclear subs.
Antipov holds talks at the German Foreign Ministry on Russian-German cooperation in fulfilling the Agreement on implementing multilateral nuclear-ecological programme in Russia.
The Russian navy wrote off 193 nuclear subs as of April 1, 2004. As many as 96 of them have been already scrapped, while 35 are in the process of cutting. Another 62 submarines wait for their scrapping. A total of 55 of them have nuclear fuel aboard. Antipov emphasized that Russia ï¿½has no apprehensions that these submarines can be a radiation sourceï¿½. There is no danger either (thanks to reliable protection) that terrorists will lay hands on radioactive materials.
Three billion dollars are needed to carry out comprehensive scrapping of the remaining N-submarines. Russia annually appropriates 65-70 million dollars for this purpose. If Western countries refuse to help Russia in settling this problem, it can do this on its own. However, it will take 40 years rather than the planned 10-12 years in this case, Antipov added.
According to the agency executive, in 2002, the G-8 leaders expressed readiness at the summit in Canadian Kananaskis to offer Russia lacking funds. Since that time, ï¿½Russia received only 47 million dollars from all member countries to settle the problem of scrapping N-subsï¿½, Antonov added. ï¿½All the money, spent for processing the fuel of N-submarines, are money of the Russian budget,ï¿½ he emphasized.
1. USA Sponsor Fossil Fuel Plant For Zheleznogorsk
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The US Congress should approve $300m for implementation of this project.
According to the governor of the Krasnoyarsk region Alexander Khloponin, a call for tenders will be launched in September. The plant is needed to substitute the Zheleznogorsk plutonium reactor, which is scheduled for shut-down in 2007 as part of a non-proliferation agreement with the United States, which has already closed all the 14 plutonium reactors of its own. The capacity of the new plant will be 117 MW/h and 660 Gcal of heat per year.
The Zheleznogorsk Institute of Atomic Industry will become the chief designer. The Federal Russian Atomic Agency will be presented by Rosatomstroy company during the construction. The US party will be presented by two companies , including Reyteon. According to the general director of the Rosatomstroy Valery Dudanov, the site of Sosnovoborsk fossil fuel plant was visually inspected. The results appeared to be disappointing. The construction was stopped back in 1992 and since then the site has not even been preserved. ï¿½Some buildings have degraded and have to be demolishedï¿½ said the director to Press-Line. He added this fact would influence the dates and the cost of the new plant. The site will be thouroghly inspected in the nearest times to determine the scale of demolishing works.
SAROV, Nizhni Novgorod region, May 14 (Itar-Tass) - The city of Sarov, formerly known as Arzamas-16, or the home of the Russian federal nuclear centre, is marking its 50th anniversary on Friday.
A festive social event will take place in the community centre of the National Research Institute of Experimental Physics on Friday evening. Its participants will sum up the results of the 50 years of work of the ï¿½nuclear town.ï¿½
Sarov, a city with a population of 80 thousand people, has much to be proud of. The countryï¿½s nuclear shield was created here with the participation of outstanding scientists, such as Yuli Khariton, Yakov Zeldovich, Andrei Sakharov and many others.
All of them contributed to the brave developments in the use of atomic energy for peaceful and defence purposes.
Radioactive material is common and often not secured. Al Qaeda is said to be planning an attack.
VIENNA ï¿½ Concerns are growing that Al Qaeda or a related group could detonate a "dirty bomb" that would spew radioactive fallout across an American or European city, according to intelligence analysts, diplomats and independent nuclear experts.
Although safeguards protecting nuclear weapons and their components have improved, experts said the radioactive materials that wrap around conventional explosives to create a contaminating bomb remained available worldwide ï¿½ and were often stored in non-secure locations.
Detonating a dirty bomb would not cause the death and devastation wrought by a nuclear weapon, but officials and counter-terrorism experts predicted that it would result in some fatalities, radiation sickness, mass panic and enormous economic damage.
Intelligence agencies have reported no reliable, specific threats involving dirty bombs or nuclear weapons, but senior U.S. and European officials and outside experts said several factors had heightened fears in recent weeks.
They said concerns were focused on three Al Qaeda operatives who led experiments involving dirty bombs and chemical weapons and on widely held suspicions that a special wing of the terrorist network was planning a spectacular attack.
They also said that chatter justifying the use of nuclear weapons against the U.S. had increased on radical Islamic websites as the occupation of Iraq stretches into its second year.
One focus of anxiety is the Athens Olympic Games in August. Recent security exercises there concentrated on mock attacks involving a dirty bomb, a chemical explosion and a hijacked jetliner.
Another potential target is the North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit scheduled for June in Istanbul, Turkey, which will be attended by President Bush. The threat was underlined by Turkey's disclosure Monday that it had arrested members of a group linked to Al Qaeda who reportedly planned to bomb the summit.
The threat of attack is great enough that a senior European intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it is "not a matter of if there is a nuclear-related attack by Al Qaeda, but when it occurs."
The warning echoed remarks made last June by Eliza Manningham-Buller, director of Britain's domestic intelligence service, MI5. She said renegade scientists have aided Al Qaeda's efforts to develop chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons, sometimes referred to as CBRN.
"Sadly, given the widespread proliferation of the technical knowledge to construct these weapons, it will only be a matter of time before a crude version of a CBRN attack is launched at a major Western city and only a matter of time before that crude version becomes something more sophisticated," she told a London think tank.
Experts inside and outside government said sophisticated extremists have the ability to plan and execute the detonation of a dirty bomb. They had no answer for why a dirty bomb has not been unleashed.
"I'm very surprised that a radiological device hasn't gone off," said Matthew Bunn, a nuclear expert at Harvard's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. "There is a bigger puzzle ï¿½ why no Al Qaeda attacks since Sept. 11 in the U.S.?"
The European intelligence official said planning for a large-scale attack has suffered setbacks with the arrests of numerous Al Qaeda operatives. But, he added, "the division is still focused on spectaculars, and they take three or four years to plan and execute."
U.S. intelligence has long known that Al Qaeda coveted a nuclear weapon, but there is no evidence that it has succeeded in getting one.
"We won't know if Al Qaeda has its hands on this kind of material until it is too late," said M.J. Gohel, head of the Asia-Pacific Foundation in London.
Building a dirty bomb is far easier, and the terrorist network's attempts to do so have been documented through evidence uncovered in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
Three men identified as Al Qaeda's weapons of mass destruction committee would likely plan the attack, said two European intelligence officials and independent experts.
The committee leader is Midhat Mursi, an Egyptian chemical engineer also known as Abu Khabab. Officials said he is regarded as Al Qaeda's master bomb builder and is one of the group's most-wanted fugitives ï¿½ although there have been unconfirmed reports that Mursi is in U.S. custody.
A second member is Assadalah Abdul Rahman, a son of Omar Abdul Rahman, the blind Egyptian cleric convicted in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. The son ran a camp near Jalalabad, Afghanistan, that provided training in chemical weapons.
The third was identified as Abu Bashir Yemeni, who also worked in the Afghan training camps and at a house in Kabul, the Afghan capital, that authorities suspect was the committee's headquarters.
Documents describing research into chemical weapons and dirty bombs were discovered in the house by CNN in late 2001. In caves used by Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, U.S. troops also found detailed instructions on how to manufacture and deploy a dirty bomb.
Much of Al Qaeda's leadership has been destroyed, but counter-terrorism experts said the organization is divided into two tiers. The more visible wing is loosely aligned with other extremist groups and helps organize small-scale attacks on "soft targets," such as the conventional bombings in Bali, Indonesia; Casablanca, Morocco; Istanbul; and Madrid.
Long-term planning for a bigger attack in the U.S. or Europe is being carried out by a second core group of experienced Al Qaeda figures, including the weapons committee, according to the European intelligence official and two counter-terrorism experts.
"There is a sense that one part of Al Qaeda is waiting and putting into place the big, spectacular attack," said Magnus Ranstorp, director of the Center for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. "It will come out of left field, and it may well be a dirty bomb."
U.S. authorities say they thwarted the beginnings of a dirty bomb plot with the arrest of Jose Padilla in Chicago in May 2002. Al Qaeda leaders had sent Padilla, a U.S. citizen, on a reconnaissance mission, authorities say. He is being held as an enemy combatant.
Although less devastating than a nuclear explosion, which could cause an astronomical number of deaths, a dirty bomb would have severe economic and psychological consequences, experts say.
A computer simulation by the Federation of American Scientists found that detonating a device containing 1.75 ounces of cesium in Lower Manhattan would distribute radioactive fallout over 60 square blocks.
Immediate casualties would be limited to people hurt by the blast, but the simulation suggested that there would be cases of radiation sickness and that relocation and cleanup costs would reach tens of billions of dollars.
Steven E. Koonin, a counter-terrorism consultant to the U.S. government and a former Caltech provost, said even small amounts of contamination would send hundreds of thousands of people to hospitals for screenings and could leave dozens of buildings uninhabitable under current radiation limits.
"There would be billions of dollars in economic damage," he said.
Terrorists could make a similar impact without an explosion. A diplomat in Vienna described the consequences of leaving an open container of cesium in a public place for a day or two before reporting the attack.
"Contamination would have spread across a wide area and people would be in an absolute panic," said the diplomat, who asked that his name not be used.
Fears of contamination, more than the actual danger, are why experts often describe dirty bombs as "weapons of mass disruption" rather than weapons of mass destruction.
Although authorities say trafficking in enriched uranium and plutonium for nuclear weapons has dropped in recent years, the number of reports involving radioactive materials suitable for dirty bombs has increased.
Most of the 60 incidents of trafficking in nuclear material reported to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations' nuclear watchdog, in 2003 involved radioactive, not fissile, material.
Two of the most serious cases involved cesium-137, an isotope used in radiotherapy. In its most common form, cesium is the perfect dirty bomb ingredient ï¿½ a fine, talc-like powder that is easily dispersed and binds to asphalt and concrete.
In June, U.S. and Thai authorities arrested a teacher in Bangkok when he tried to sell a small amount of cesium for $240,000. Thai police said the cesium originated in a former Soviet republic.
Although Russia and other former Soviet regions have improved security over nuclear weapons and fissile material, officials with international agencies said controls over radioactive material suitable for dirty bombs need improvement.
"Sensitive fissile material is well protected, but we have to make it more difficult for any terrorist organization to get these other materials," said Anita Birgitta Nilsson, head of nuclear security for the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Police in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, discovered two metal containers of radioactive material and a small quantity of nerve gas in a taxi a year ago. Police said the material was destined for sale.
One container held strontium-90, a highly radioactive substance used during the Soviet era to power generators in remote areas. The other contained cesium, which had widespread medical and agricultural uses under the Soviets.
Georgian security and nuclear officials said there are no records of how much radioactive material remains scattered around the country. Safeguards are weak, they added.
"We can show you what we possess, but it's impossible to know what we don't possess," said Shukuri Abramidze, head of the Atomic Energy Commission of the Georgian Academy of Sciences.
Even when material is collected, there is no central storage site in Georgia. As a result, it is stored in makeshift facilities that authorities acknowledge offer meager protection.
One site is a concrete shed west of Tbilisi that officials said during a recent tour contained enough cesium, strontium and cobalt to contaminate Los Angeles.
An elderly, unarmed man guards the shed in exchange for free use of a nearby house. Its alarm system is often disabled because of power failures.
Officials from the IAEA and the U.S. Department of Energy installed steel doors and an underground container at the shed, but Georgian authorities worry that it is not enough.
"The danger is quite real that terrorists could take these sources and use them in dirty bombs," said Zaur Chankseliani, head of the radiological institute 100 yards away.
U.S. officials are concerned that the material is within reach of Islamic extremists and Chechen rebels in the Pankisi Gorge, a remote area near Georgia's border with the breakaway Russian republic of Chechnya.
Chechen rebels were responsible for the only known incident involving a dirty bomb. In 1995, they planted an explosive device containing cesium in a Moscow park, then informed reporters of its location before it was detonated. Authorities believe that the tipoff was a warning but that the Chechens were not prepared to risk the retaliation likely to be provoked by detonating a dirty bomb.
Extremists searching for the ingredients of a dirty bomb need not look as far as Georgia. Sources are plentiful throughout the world, including the United States, and often they are not stored securely, experts said. The IAEA estimates that 110 countries lack adequate controls over material that could be used in a dirty bomb.
Nearly 10 million containers of radioactive material ï¿½ including the detritus from medical facilities ï¿½ exist in the United States and 49 other countries, according to a 2003 survey by the congressional General Accounting Office.
The agency said that each year, hundreds of containers are lost or stolen in the U.S. and other countries, particularly in the former Soviet Union. The report warned that the radioactive material posed a "national security threat" and urged that controls be strengthened worldwide.
1. Eliminating Russian HEU Stockpile Needs European Help, Swedish Study Says
Global Security Newswire
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WASHINGTON ï¿½ A report released this week by the Swedish Nuclear Power Inspectorate (SKI) proposes that European countries help reduce stockpiles of Russian highly enriched uranium by financing the blending down of the material to a lower enrichment level (see GSN, March 26).
Russia has 1,000 to 1,500 metric tons of highly enriched uranium stored at more than 50 sites, according to the report prepared by a panel of international experts. The report warns that the radioactive material poses an attractive target to terrorists seeking to develop a crude nuclear weapon and cites concerns that Russian storage sites are poorly secured.
To help reduce the risk, the report proposes that the European Union finance the blending down of Russian uranium to a level below 20-percent enrichment, making it unusable for weapons purposes. Russia would be allowed to retain the resultant low-enriched uranium, which could be sold abroad for use as civilian nuclear power plant fuel, the report says.
The report estimates the total cost of the effort at $10 billion. It states that donor countries should only pay for the blending down of the material, either through interest-free loans or possible debt swaps, and not the later conversion of the material into civilian fuel.
Another potential clause would require Russia to use the profits gained by the sale of the converted uranium to improve security at its nuclear material storage sites, Lars van Dassen, director of the Swedish Nuclear Nonproliferation Assistance Program at the inspectorate, said Tuesday.
The proposal is similar to a U.S.-Russian effort, known as Megatons to Megawatts, which seeks to blend down 500 tons of highly enriched uranium that Moscow has declared to be in excess of its national security needs. Under the 20-year program, which was launched in 1994, Russia converts material removed from its nuclear warheads into low-enriched uranium, which is then purchased by the U.S. Enrichment Corp. for sale as civilian nuclear plant fuel. To date, the effort has eliminated more than 200 metric tons of Russian highly enriched uranium.
The Megatons to Megawatts program demonstrated how ï¿½commercial meansï¿½ could be used to convert weapon-grade materials to civilian purposes, van Dassen said. He said that one key difference between the U.S.-Russian effort and the proposal for the European Union ï¿½ allowing Russia to retain possession of the blended down material ï¿½ came out of the fact that most EU members are ï¿½violently opposedï¿½ to nuclear fuel and would be ï¿½reluctantï¿½ to take control of the uranium. An effort modeled exactly on the Megatons to Megawatts program would be seen by many EU members as an attempt to expand the use of nuclear power and would therefore be strongly opposed, he said.
The SKI report has been submitted to the Swedish Foreign Office for further consideration, van Dassen said. The issue of HEU elimination is being considered ï¿½in a very pronounced mannerï¿½ by Sweden, he said.
Praising the European proposal as potentially useful, Matthew Bunn of Harvard Universityï¿½s Project on Managing the Atom said Tuesday that any future agreement would have to be ï¿½structured carefullyï¿½ to serve all interests.
One hurdle the proposed European HEU deal might face, according to the report, is that Russia has not declared any additional amounts of highly enriched uranium as being in excess of its national security needs beyond that already covered by the Megatons to Megawatts program. This has led to a ï¿½lukewarmï¿½ reaction from Russia to the proposal, van Dassen said. The report also notes, though, that Russia did not designate the initial 500 tons as excessive until the United States demonstrated a willingness to purchase surplus material.
Russia could have as much as ï¿½hundreds of tonsï¿½ of excess highly enriched beyond the material covered by the Megatons to Megawatts program, Bunn said.
Rose Gottemoeller of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said today that the European proposal would need to include verification and transparency measures such as those used in the U.S.-Russian HEU deal to ensure that the downblending was actually being conducted and on military-related materials. The Megatons to Megawatts program uses both on-site monitoring by U.S. teams that visit Russian sites several times per year and a technological monitoring system to track the material when inspectors are not present.
Another concern is that Russia also does not view HEU elimination as a high nonproliferation priority, van Dassen said. Under a program initiated in 2002 by the Group of Eight global economic powers to help fund nonproliferation projects, primarily in Russia, Moscow has instead chosen to focus more on nuclear submarine dismantlement and chemical weapons disposal, he said.
A ï¿½main difficultyï¿½ for Russia in implementing the European proposal would be in securing adequate funding from the EU, said Danill Kobyakov of the PIR Center in Moscow. The EU has been slow to implement its funding pledge under the G-8 Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction and any possible funding increases are expected only after 2007 when a new budgetary cycle begins, he said today.
Kobyakov also said, though, that he believes Russia would ï¿½be in general favorableï¿½ to the proposal. ï¿½I do not think that there are any serious obstacles to its development,ï¿½ he said in a written response to questions.
Also uncertain, Kobyakov said, is how the European proposal would affect the world HEU market and its possible impact on the U.S.-Russian HEU deal. He said that the issue of the commercial impact on the major international nuclear fuel companies still needed to be considered. Bunn said the proposal would not prevent the United States from reaching another HEU agreement with Russia once the Megatons to Megawatts program expires. He said the stockpiled low-enriched uranium created through the European proposal could be used to fill any future U.S.-Russian agreement, adding that the U.S. nuclear industry is already assuming that deliveries would continue once the Megatons to Megawatt program has expired.
1. Iraqi Scientists Targeted ï¿½ Killings Prompt Calls For US To Evacuate Weapons Researchers
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The assassination of several of Iraq's former weapons scientists has hit US plans to employ them to help rebuild the war-torn country. The killings, together with the deteriorating security situation in Iraq, have led some non-proliferation experts to call for the researchers to be evacuated from the country.
Between five and ten scientists have been killed in the past six months, according to a US Department of State official who runs programmes aimed at keeping former weapons scientists in employment. "The most common explanation is that they've shown an interest in working with the coalition," says the official, who declined to be identified by name and who returned from Iraq earlier this month.
Between them, the Iraqi scientists hold considerable knowledge of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons from programmes that now seem to have been defunct long before the US-led coalition invaded Iraq in March 2003. But the killings are only the latest setback in plans to redirect their knowledge and skills. Non-proliferation experts who wanted to work with Iraqi scientists were angered when initial responsibility for contacting them was given to military forces. Some scientists hid, fearing that they could be taken prisoner (see Nature 423, 371; 2003).
Such independent experts have since left Iraq because of security concerns, further weakening non-proliferation efforts. And David Albright, a former nuclear-weapons inspector in Iraq, says these problems mean that attempts to keep researchers in Iraq should no longer be a priority for the US government. "They should shift the programme to getting people out," says Albright, who now heads the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington. "There are scientists with secret documents who could go to Iran or Syria."
Such a change in policy would come too late for Majid Hussein Ali, a nuclear scientist reported to be at Baghdad University. Ali was not directly involved in weapons research, but he was said to have met with US weapons inspectors. He was killed by an unknown gunman in Baghdad in February.
Despite the death of Ali and other researchers, state-department officials insist that most scientists want to stay in their country. Officials have visited Iraq regularly this year, and say that they were able to win the confidence of Iraqi scientists by distancing themselves from the military activities of the coalition forces.
The state department sought to ramp up its activities last November with a US$2-million programme aimed at identifying former weapons researchers and finding them work in Iraq (see Nature 426, 371; 2003). Since then, officials have drawn up a list of 400 scientists, engineers and technicians who had worked on weapons research and related fields. Officials say that about 75 of these people are unaccounted for, but nearly all of the others have been located in Iraq.
The officials add that these researchers would stay in Iraq if meaningful work can be found for them. Most are currently employed in industry and academia, at least in theory. But many universities and other facilities have been closed by the invasion and subsequent insurgencies.
"They are all employed in the sense that they get a pay cheque," says the state-department official. "But some are very unhappy because they have nothing to do." The official is trying to raise $40 million for reconstruction projects over the next three years. "We're talking to coalition partners now," he says.
State-department staff have meanwhile established an International Center for Science and Industry in Baghdad, consisting of office space that they say will be used to house Iraqi researchers who will determine how any reconstruction money will be spent.
Many Iraqi scientists have criticized schemes by outsiders to unite the country's researchers, officials at the state department acknowledge. They say that scientists felt excluded from an attempt by a largely expatriate group of Iraqi researchers to form an Iraqi academy of science (see Nature 426, 484; 2003). By ensuring that local scientists play a prominent role in the new centre, the officials hope that the facility will be accepted as legitimate by Iraqi researchers.
But Albright, who initially backed the state department's programme, is worried about what will happen to the former weapons scientists. He went to Iraq last year and helped US officials to locate many of them. Such trips ended in the autumn, as the security situation worsened. Even then, Albright says, "everyone wanted to get out".
1. United States Looking at Russian Radars, Targets to Help Missile Defense Development
Global Security Newswire
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The United States is considering using Russian radar systems and targets in U.S. missile defense efforts, Representative Curt Weldon (R-Pa.) said Wednesday (see GSN, March 30).
The Missile Defense Agency is interested in using Russiaï¿½s ï¿½very goodï¿½ expertise in constructing ballistic missile-tracking radars, Weldon said. By obtaining access to radars in Russia, the United States could improve its monitoring of potential Chinese or North Korean ballistic missile threats, he said.
In addition, the missile agency would like to work with Russia on producing targets for use in missile defense tests, according to Weldon. He said, though, that it is unlikely that Russia would agree to participate in that effort.
ï¿½I donï¿½t think the Russians really want to be in a position of having America constantly shoot down what they put up in space,ï¿½ Weldon said (Marc Selinger, Aerospace Daily & Defense Report, May 13).
1. Duma Official Views Prospect Of Iran-Russia Ties Promising
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Tehran, May 14, IRNA -- First Deputy Chairman of Russiaï¿½s State Duma Lyubov Sliska here Friday referred to the prospect of Iran-Russia cooperation in various fields as satisfactory.
He told IRNA that political pressures would have no impact on such collaboration, particularly in the economic domain.
"Cooperation between the two states are based on friendly and historical ties and would be further bolstered in future," he added.
The Russian Duma official underlined that fortunately both states have always favored a peaceful policy based on avoiding interference in one anotherï¿½s internal affairs.
"Besides Iran and Russia enjoy commonalties in a number of regional and international issues.
"In view of the aforementioned remarks, the most favorable political grounds have been prepared for reinforcing cooperation on peaceful application of nuclear energy as well as military and economic sectors among others," he added.
Expressing his support for collaboration between the two states, Sliska hoped that the upcoming trip of Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi to Moscow would give a new momentum to strengthening joint undertakings in future.
Kharrazi is scheduled to visit Moscow on Sunday heading a high-ranking Iranian delegation.
2. In Russia, Iran Foreign Minister To Look Into Iranian Nuclear Programme, Iraqi Crisis
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TEHERAN, May 14 (RIA Novosti's Nikolai Terekhov) - In the course of his upcoming official two-day visit to Russia, Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi with discuss with Russian top officials problems of the Iranian nuclear programme and the Iraqi crisis, a source in the Iranian foreign policy establishment told RIA Novosti on Friday.
It is expected that, "alongside bilateral Russian-Iranian relations, Kharrazi will consider the problem of the Iranian nuclear programme and interaction between Teheran and Moscow in the field of peaceful nuclear research", the source said.
"In recent time, Iran has been taking active diplomatic steps to create in the international community a favourable atmosphere in view of the future sitting of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which due in Vienna in June", the Iranian ministerial expert said.
"Kharrazi's Russian visit can be a logical continuation of his two Western tours, during which the Islamic Republic, standing for the closure of the 'Iranian dossier' at the IAEA, sought EU support at the forthcoming Board of Governors sitting", the source said.
In his opinion, "Moscow has always been for the continuation of peaceful-atom cooperation with Iran in the face of pressure from the United States. This time, Teheran again hopes for Russian support during the sitting of the IAEA leading body".
The IAEA specialists go in inspecting Iranian nuclear facilities. Very soon Iran will table it a comprehensive report on its nuclear activities.
The Iranian expert believes that "the Iraqi crisis will be another central theme at the forthcoming talks. Against the background of the situation in Iraq because of the actions of the force of occupation, Russia and Iran are in need of a coordination of their positions and elaboration of specific decisions for easing the tension obtaining in the region".
"Serious problems are actually out at the current stage of Iranian-Russian relations. Cooperation in the energy, industrial, trade-economic and other vital sectors is developing with success. The positions of Moscow and Teheran coincide, or are close, on many political matters, such as the settlement of critical situations in Iraq and Afghanistan", the Iranian ministerial expert said.
Kamal Kharrazi's Moscow visit is expected to take place on May 16 through 18, 2004.
3. MFA RF: Russia Applauds the Continuing Active Cooperation of Teheran with the IAEA in Regards to Iranï¿½s Nuclear Program
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Translated by RANSAC Staff
Russia ï¿½applauds the continuing active and constructive cooperation between Teheran and the IAEA in regards to Iranï¿½s nuclear program.ï¿½ This was announced today at the MFA RF [Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation] in connection with the up-coming visit of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iran, Kamal Kharrazi, to the RF on the 16-17th of May. The agenda of his consultations in Moscow ï¿½includes discussing perspective relations with Russia, and the search for new steps for strengthening them.ï¿½
The Russian side, they continued at Smolensk Square, ï¿½stands for clearing-up the Agencyï¿½s remaining questions, strengthening the corresponding confidence building measures, including extending Iranï¿½s compliance with its voluntarily self-imposed commitment to freeze uranium enrichment activities.ï¿½ Moscow considers it important ï¿½to hasten Iranian ratification of the Additional Protocol to the agreement on guarantees with the IAEA.ï¿½ Such a line by Teheran ï¿½would enable the depolitization of the Iranian question, and its shift to a technical course, and also ensure favorable conditions for the further development of Russian-Iranian cooperation in atomic power.ï¿½
In the Russian MFA they expressed satisfaction with the pace of bilateral economic partnership. ï¿½The largest object of cooperation,ï¿½ they noted in the foreign-policy agency, ï¿½is the construction of the NPP at Bushehr.ï¿½ Other projects in the oil and gas and energy spheres are being realized as well.
4. Russian Foreign Ministry: USA is not Withdrawing from CIS (excerpted)
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MOSCOW, May 12 (RIA Novosti) - Former head of Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service and now first deputy head of the Russian Foreign Ministry Vyacheslav Trubnikov discussed in an interview with Russia's (Nezavisimaya) newspaper the situation in Trans-Caucasia and Central Asia, the issues of the anti-terrorist coalition and the Iranian nuclear program. Below is the summary of the interview.
Q: Iran is the country, which the USA is accusing of the violation of the non-proliferation treaty and nuclear ambitions. In this connection, similar claims are made to Russia.
A: These claims are absolutely unfounded. We are doing everything possible to prevent Iran from using our peaceful technology we are supplying to Bushehr for military purposes. Since the fears do exist, we have done very much to make Iran cooperate actively with the IAEA. We have done everything possible to ensure that we get spent nuclear fuel back. So, Iran will not possess nuclear weapons.
5. In Moscow Iran Delegation To Ponder Bushehr Nuclear Power Project Progress
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TEHERAN, May 11 (RIA Novosti's Nikolai Terekhov) - Matters of building the first unit of the Bushehr nuclear power plant are expected to be in discussion during the visit to Moscow by an Iranian delegation led by Asadullah Saburi, deputy head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation. The visit begins on Tuesday.
Iranian specialists are going to meet with managers of the Russian Federal Nuclear Energy Agency, a source in the Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation told RIA Novosti. "It will be an exclusively working visit", the source stressed.
Repeatedly put off, the visit to Iran by the head of the Russian nuclear agency Alexander Rumyantsev is still topical.
During the visit, Rumyantsev and the head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation Golam Reza Agazade may ink an additional protocol on the return of wasted nuclear fuel. The Iranian side has many times voiced readiness to sign the document. Now, the sides are agreeing upon the commercial side of the contract.
1. Russia Hopes For Success Of Talks On NKorea Nuclear Problem
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BEIJING, May 14 (Itar-Tass) - Russia expects the meeting of the working group, which is currently preparing the ground for the third round of the negotiations on the settlement of the North Korea nuclear problem, to achieve positive results, Leader of the Russian Delegation and Deputy Director of the First Asia Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry Valery Sukhinin told Itar-Tass. ï¿½We are looking forward to positive results, and we are working towards this end,ï¿½ he stated.
Dwelling on the time, which the groupï¿½s work will take, Sukhinin said: ï¿½At present, it is difficult to indicate the needed days, months or weeks.ï¿½ He said the principle of closed-doors negotiations was now in force and it can only be said that ï¿½work is going on, is being continuedï¿½.
At the same time, according to some diplomatic sources, the Thursday deliberations had shown that there are still ï¿½serious contradictionsï¿½ between the North Korean and American delegations.
A Pyongyang diplomat told reporters, who had gathered last night at the gate of the North Korean embassy in Beijing, that the Korean Peopleï¿½s Democratic Republic could discontinue the discussion of the idea of ï¿½freezingï¿½ the nuclear program in exchange for a compensation, if the United States were to insist on the complete, irreversible and verifiable liquidation of all the North Korean nuclear research as a precondition for the discussion of the problemï¿½. He described those U.S. demands as ï¿½humiliating and applicable only to a militarily vanquished nationï¿½. At the same time, he added, the North Korean side ï¿½is determined to be patientï¿½ at the Friday meeting.
Delegations of the United States, North Korea, China, Russia, South Korea and Japan are taking part in the consultations of the six-nation working group. Tokyo is determined not to backpedal on its demand for the complete liquidation of North Koreaï¿½s entire nuclear potential and believes it is possible to persuade Pyongyang of the expediency of such an approach, Secretary-General of the Japanese Cabinet Hiroyuki Hosoda told a press conference in Tokyo. ï¿½We are aware that North Korea is firmly opposed to the principle of complete, verifiable and irreversible liquidation of its nuclear program, which complicates the achievement of an agreement,ï¿½ he stated. ï¿½However, in our opinion, the current stage of the negotiations is designed to explain why this principle is approved by international community and how it could be implemented,ï¿½ he added.
The participants of the meeting took time out on Friday after a brief morning meeting. According to some reports, an excursion to the Great Chinese Wall is expected to be arranged on Friday afternoon. It is presumably intended to relax the situation at the six-nation consultations, which has become increasingly tense.
2. Russian Delegation Thinks Constructive Expert Discussions Of Nuclear Problem In Korea Peninsula
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BEINING, May 14 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian delegation views as "positive and constructive" the expert discussions in Beijing within the framework of the working group's first sitting at the six-lateral talks on the nuclear problem on the Korea peninsula.
"It was quite a useful sitting specifying the positions of the sides", sources in the Russian delegation told RIA Novosti.
At the same time, it is hardly possible to expect prompt results in settling the nuclear problem, Russian experts said.
The discussions were over on Friday. Their participants have agreed to gather for a second meeting of the working group, a date for which will be specified through the diplomatic channels.
"During the sitting of the working group, its participants from six countries confirmed their agreement that the third plenary round of the six-lateral talks on the nuclear problem on the Korea peninsula at the level of foreign deputy ministers will be held at the earlier coordinated timeframe in the end of June", representatives of the Russian delegation is quoted as saying.
Earlier, official spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry Liu Xiangciao said that at that sitting all participants "have added a new content to their positions", laid down "honestly and consistently", although serious differences are preserved between the main participants in the negotiating process - the United States and North Korea.
Japanese sources said that, during the working-group meeting, the delegations of the United States and North Korea met at least two times, which is also a new phenomenon in this negotiating process. Observers in Beijing also note this circumstance: the North Korean delegation has become more open to the mass media and during two days held two briefings at the gates of the North Korean embassy.
The first sitting of the working group of experts from China, North Korea, the United States, South Korea and Japan will be officially crowned by a Saturday meeting between the participants and Dai Bingo, Chinese first deputy foreign minister, RIA Novosti learnt from diplomatic sources in the Chinese capital.
On Saturday Nin Fukui, ambassador for problems of the Korean peninsula, chairing the three-day meeting of the working group, will hold a briefing, at which he will give the press a sidelight on the sitting.
3. Russia Says No Chance of Breakthrough at Korea Talks
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BEIJING (Reuters) - U.S. and North Korean envoys were reported to be planning a face-to-face meeting on Thursday to try to defuse the North's nuclear crisis, but Russia's envoy said there was no chance of a breakthrough at second-tier talks.
Envoys are in the Chinese capital for the first working-level meeting of six-party talks on the crisis that also include South Korea, Russia, China and Japan. Veiled in secrecy, the discussions entered their second day on Thursday.
U.S. chief delegate Joseph DeTrani and his North Korean counterpart, Ri Gun, might discuss a U.S. demand that the North completely dismantle its nuclear programs including a suspected uranium enrichment program, Japan's Kyodo news agency said.
But diplomatic sources and other news reports said the North continued to reject demands to scrap all of its programs and was sticking to its stiff denial of a uranium enrichment program.
``We came to discuss compensation for a nuclear freeze. A nuclear development program involving uranium enrichment does not exist,'' the Japanese daily Yomiuri Shimbun quoted Ri as saying at talks on Wednesday.
Valery Sukhinin, head of the Russian delegation, told the Itar-Tass news agency that no breakthrough could be expected at the working-level session, China's Xinhua news agency said.
Delegates could exchange views on details of some issues but could not revise the stances of their governments, Sukhinin was quoted as saying.
``It seems that the meeting would go on for another day, two days or three days, and all depends on the progress of the meeting,'' he said.
Publicly, neither North Korea nor the United States, the two main protagonists, has shown any willingness to budge from its position during the inaugural talks that are intended to pave the way for higher-level meetings.
Pyongyang's state media, in typical form, kept up its anti-U.S. vitriol on Thursday, accusing the ``imperialists'' of preparing for war.
The first day of the six-way talks ended with the United States and North Korea toughening their stands, a Russian negotiator said, while South Korea urged its northern rival to be more flexible.
The six-party working-level talks are open-ended and could last several days.
North Korea wants compensation to give up its nuclear ambitions, with a deal for a freeze as a first step. The United States wants the North to agree first to complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantling.
The United States, South Korea and Japan had agreed to discuss energy aid on Wednesday, but only if the North pledged to give up its nuclear programs, South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted Japanese sources as saying.
The North was willing to discuss issues related to the freeze, including extent and duration and inspections to verify it, said Japanese public broadcaster NHK.
Kyodo said the North had also broached the possibility of allowing foreign inspectors back into the country as a step toward dismantlement.
The nuclear crisis erupted in October 2002 when U.S. officials said North Korea had disclosed it was working on a secret program to enrich uranium for weapons in violation of an international agreement.
North Korea, which denied the disclosure, then pulled out of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, expelled U.N. inspectors and took a plutonium plant out of mothballs.
4. Russia Stands for the Return of the DPRK to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty System
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Translated by RANSAC Staff
Moscow considers the return of the DPRK to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) system the ideal variant, giving Pyongyang the right for keeping ï¿½peaceful atomics.ï¿½ This was announced to ITAR-TASS correspondents today by the Deputy Director of the First Department for Asia of the MFA [Ministry of Foreign Affairs] of the Russian Federation Valery Sukhinin. He heads the Russian delegation at the first session of the working group for preparing the third round of the six party talk for the resolution of the DPRK nuclear problem, which opened yesterday. North and South Korea, the U.S., China, Russian and Japan are participating in the negotiations.
Concerning Pyongyangï¿½s unwillingness to give up nuclear development with peaceful goals, the total curtailment of which the U.S. requires together with the liquidation of the nuclear weapons program, the Russian diplomat reminded that ï¿½in agreement with the NPT, the right of any country to peaceful activities in the area of nuclear power is recognized, and moreover, nuclear powers are required to give assistance to such peaceful activities of non-nuclear states.ï¿½ Stating the position of Russia, he said, ï¿½We recognize that all of this is possible under the conditions of DPRK membership in the NPT.ï¿½
Valery Sukhinin noted that there are other examples. India, Pakistan, and Israel are engaged in peaceful nuclear activities, and are not members of the NPT. ï¿½However, it would be ideal if the DPRK remained in the NPT and developed its peaceful activities in accordance with the regulations of this treaty,ï¿½ he underlined.
The Russian diplomat did not ruled out the possibility that Pyongyang ï¿½will correct its position depending on what the other side offers it.ï¿½
1. New Strategic Nuclear Submarine Laid Down At Sevmash Plant
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The second nuclear strategic submarine 4th generation was laid down at the Sevmash plant in Severodvinsk in March, ITAR-TASS reported.
The new submarine of project 955 Borey Class will be called Alexander Nevsky. Russian prince Alexander Nevsky (1220-1263) secured the west frontiers of Russia in the result of victorious battles with Sweden and Teutonic Knights. It is planned to equip Alexander Nevsky with the rescue chamber for the whole crew of 100 submariners. The sub will be armed with modern ballistic missiles, torpedoes and antiaircraft missiles. Vladimir Zdornov headed its design development at the St Petersburg Rubin submarine design bureau. The submarine should be completed in 2008, ITAR-TASS reported.
The last nuclear submarine of Borey class Yuriy Dolgoruky was laid down at the Sevmash plant on November 2, 1996, and it should join the navy in 2006, daily Krasnaya Zvezda reported. In the current century Borey class submarines are destined to become the foundation of the Russian navy together with project 971 nuclear multipurpose submarines. According to the Russian navy Chief Commander Vladimir Kuroyedov, the Russian navy should have in operation from 12 to 15 strategic and 50 multipurpose nuclear submarines, ITAR-TASS reported.
1. Leadership Of Greenpeace Offices Familiarises With Leningrad NPP
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ST. PETERSBURG, May 14 (Itar-Tass) - The delegation of 80 top officials of international offices of the public ecological organisation Greenpeace arrived at the Leningrad nuclear power plant on Friday to familiarise with its work. The leadership of the Federal Agency for Atomic Energy officially authorised the Greenpeace Moscow office to visit the Leningrad nuclear power plant, the plant information centre told Itar-Tass.
According to representatives of the nuclear power plant, Greenpeace was especially interested in the Leningrad nuclear power plant, as its first power unit that has expired its 30-year service life is under overhaul now. The issue of prolonging its service life is being solved.
2. Public Commission Suggested to Complete Reactor No.2 of Volgodondk NPP
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In March Volgodonsk NPP hosted a meeting of the Permanent Commission on Volgodonsk NPP Construction and Operation Control headed by the vice-chairman of the Rostov region Legislative Assembly Evgeny Shepelev.
Chairman of the Rostov Duma, lower assembly of the parliament, Sergey Sherstyuk, director of Volgodonsk NPP Alexander Palamarchuk, his deputy member of the Legislative Assembly of Rostov region Sergey Gorbunov and vice-chief engineer of the nuclear plant Vladimir Povarov also took part in the meeting, Regions.ru reports.
The Commission admitted its activities satisfactory regarding the construction control of the Volgodonsk NPP from October 2003 till March 2004. The Commission recommended Rostov region administration and the Legislative Assembly to initiate participation of the Rostov region in the Federal Program ï¿½Nuclear and radiation safety in Russia from 2000 to 2006ï¿½ in order to finance radioactive control of the air in Rostov region, Regions.ru reports.
The Commission also underlined the positive results of the plantï¿½s operation and its importance for the economical development of the region and whole Russia and suggested that the Rostov region administration would consider the issue of the second reactor construction. At the moment the first reactor generates 15% of all electricity in the south Russia, Regions.ru reports.
Attention representative of the Russian and Foreign Press!
Today, the 12th of May, the Director of the Federal Agency for Atomic Energy, Alexander Rumyantsev, held a working meeting with the Iranian delegation led by the Vice-President of the Organization for Atomic Energy of Iran, Asodalloi Saburin (OAEI).
B. Yurlov ï¿½ Deputy Director, V. Kuchinov ï¿½ Director DMCS, I. Klochko and E. Reshetnikov ï¿½ First Vice-Presidents of ZAO ï¿½ASEï¿½ also took part in the meeting; and from the Iranian side: I. Khalilipur ï¿½ Director of the Atomic Security System of Iran, G. Shafei ï¿½ Iranian Ambassador to Russia, M. Saidi ï¿½ Director of the International Department of OAEI.
The sides discussed issues connected with the course of the construction of the first power unit of the Bushehr NPP, and the conditions of the preparations of the fuel contract for the shipping of fresh fuel for the NPP and the return of spent fuel to Russia.
In the course of the meeting the issue of the length of A. Rumyantsevï¿½s visit to Iran also arose.
The Bio-Chem Redirect Program (BCR) is a targeted nonproliferation initiative funded by the Department of Stateï¿½s Nonproliferation, Antiterrorism, Demining and Related Initiatives (NADR) account. BCR engages former Soviet biological and chemical weapons scientists in transparent and sustainable civilian research projects with U.S. collaborators. While the BCR program is most active in Russia, it also funds projects in Kazakhstan, Georgia, Armenia, Uzbekistan, and Ukraine. New projects are being considered for funding in the region. The program has received from Congress a total of $85 million from its inception through Fiscal Year 2004.
BCR is overseen and coordinated by the State Department Nonproliferation Bureauï¿½s Office of Proliferation Threat Reduction (NP/PTR), which provides funds to three U.S. agencies to implement the program: the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. These agencies work through the International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) in Moscow and the Science and Technology Center in Ukraine (STCU), located in Kiev, to implement the program. In addition to its primary nonproliferation objective, the program meets important U.S. research objectives in the following areas: global public health, livestock and plant health, environmental monitoring and remediation, and measures to combat biological and chemical terrorism. The BCR program supports the following expenses: project salaries for Eurasian scientists possessing dual-use expertise; limited purchases of project-relevant laboratory equipment and reagents; and travel expenses for Eurasian scientists related to legitimate project needs, including scientific conferences, training, and meetings with their U.S. collaborators.
The programï¿½s ultimate objective is to redirect these former weapons of mass destruction (WMD) scientists in Eurasia to long-term sustainable activities in the civilian sphere. To redirect former chemical weapons scientists in Eurasia to potential commercial collaborations, BCR is funding a Chemical Science and Commercialization Conference in Moscow on September 27-29, 2004. Information about the conference is available at http://biistate.net/chemconference/.
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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