1. Russia, U.S. to Clean Up Nukes Around the World
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Russia and the United States agreed on Thursday to lock away some of the most dangerous nuclear material scattered around the globe to keep it away from "terrorists," but experts said that was no easy task.
The accord is part of a U.S.-sponsored global cleanout of tons of highly enriched uranium (HEU) -- which can be made into nuclear weapons -- stored in dozens of poorly guarded research reactors around the world.
U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, speaking after he signed the accord, said it would "reduce the threat of terrorism and prevent the proliferation of weapons-grade uranium."
Under the plan, Moscow will secure the return of all fresh Russian-origin HEU fuel by the end of 2005 and all spent fuel by 2010 from more than 25 reactors in 17 states.
Abraham said the program would parallel efforts to reclaim nuclear materials of U.S. origin. A total of $450 million has been allocated to programs launched by both sides.
Nuclear proliferation, however, remains a thorny issue between the two countries.
The United States opposes Russian plans to build a nuclear reactor in Iran on the grounds Tehran could use the technology to produce bombs. Russia and Iran say the reactor is strictly for civil use.
Research reactor fuel is attractive to militants as it has weapons-grade nuclear material. It can be used to make a standard bomb as well as a "dirty bomb" that needs little nuclear material but can spread radiation after exploding.
Some experts said the program's deadlines could prove unrealistic for examining all reactors, gaining permission from host countries to repatriate the fuel and agreeing on removal terms.
"Also, officials should keep in mind that heaps of radioactive equipment will be left behind," said nuclear analyst Andrei Frolov at the PIR Center for Political Studies in Moscow.
"That stuff is also perfect for a dirty bomb."
Under the deal, fresh fuel will be returned from closed reactors or those about to close, while spent fuel will be taken from working reactors after they are modernised to use lower-enriched fuel.
Thirteen countries have already agreed to return fuel to Russia, but officials would not identify them.
A source in Russia's Atomic Energy Agency said up to 10 nuclear bombs could be made from Russian material scattered around the world -- and many more "dirty bombs."
"Each research reactor has about 20 kg (44 lb) of fresh HEU on average," the source said. "That's highly dangerous stuff because enrichment levels could be as high as 80 percent, compared to just a few percent in a normal power reactor.
"If you put your mind to it, you can make a wonderful bomb with just a few kilograms of that."
The head of the Russian Federal Agency for Nuclear Energy, Alexander Rumyantsev, and the U.S. Energy Secretary, Spencer Abraham will sign an intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in the use of spent nuclear fuel today, said the agency.
"This will be an agreement on cooperation in the sphere of return to Russia of spent nuclear fuel from Russian-made research reactors. Its realization is aimed at preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons and reducing the threat of international terrorism due to reduction of the number of areas where nuclear materials that can be used to produce nuclear weapons are stockpiled," said a nuclear energy agency representative.
He added that the agreement will be signed during the meeting between Rumyantsev and Abraham on May 27. U.S. Ambassador in Russia Alexander Vershbow will take part in the meeting.
According to the source, during the meeting some issues of bilateral cooperation in the field of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and conducting scientific research in the sphere of nuclear energy will be discussed.
The memorandum on cooperation in the field of return to Russia of spent nuclear fuel from Russian-made research reactors was signed by Rumyantsev and Abraham on November 7, 2003 in Washington. It was also announced then that the sides have started work to prepare a relevant agreement.
The spent nuclear fuel problem, experts believe, has advanced to the foreground in Russo-Iranian nuclear cooperation (Russian specialists have been completing the construction of the first unit of the Iranian nuclear power plant in Bushehr - a town in the northern part of the Persian Gulf's Iranian coast). Because this problem was unresolved, the construction was delayed and the Iranian side's discontent grew. Tehran already gave its principled agreement to return spent nuclear fuel from Bushehr to Russia, and during the coming visit to Iran by Alexander Rumyantsev (it was planned in February but was postponed due to parliamentary elections in Iran), a relevant protocol will be signed.
Russia and the US today clinched a deal to retrieve highly enriched uranium from inadequately guarded research reactors in former Soviet republics to prevent terrorists from assembling crude nuclear devices.
The deal signed by US Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham and Director of Russian Federal Nuclear Energy Agency Alexander Rumyantsev provides for cooperation in retrieving uranium from 20 Soviet and Russian-designed reactors in 17 countries, including ex-Soviet 'satellites', ITAR-TASS reported.
Under the deal, which does not require Congressional and Duma ratification, Washington will provide financing, while Moscow will dispatch experts and equipment to retrieve and transport uranium to secure storage facilities in Russia.
According to Federal Nuclear Energy Agency all of the targeted reactors run on highly enriched uranium (HEU), which is enriched to more than 20 per cent, the threshold for weapon-usable material.
The deal will initially provide for the retrieval of all fuel from the reactors that have closed or are about to close, while only spent fuel will be taken from facilities that will remain operational.
The initial stage of the project will target 13 of the 20 reactors, probably in Uzbekistan, Belarus, Ukraine, Romania and Poland.
HEU will only be removed from operational reactors after they are modernised to use less-enriched fuel.
4. US ready to pay for nuclear fuel supplies to Russia
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The United States is ready to pay for nuclear fuel supplies to Russia from all Soviet-made foreign research reactors. “A relevant intergovernmental Russian-US agreement will be signed at the meeting between head of the Russian Nuclear Agency Alexander Rumyantsev and US Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham on Thursday,” a spokesman for the Federal Atomic Energy Agency told Itar-Tass. “The implementation of this agreement will assist in preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons and reducing a threat of falling nuclear materials in the hands of international terrorists,” he emphasised.
He recalled that “the fresh nuclear fuel has already been brought to Russia for storage from former Yugoslavia, Romania, Libya and Bulgaria by joint efforts.” “Nuclear fuel from about 20 research reactors of CIS, Eastern European and Southeast Asian countries is to be supplied,” the spokesman pointed out.
“Some other trends of bilateral cooperation in non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and carrying out joint researches in nuclear energy” will also be discussed at the Russian-US meeting on Thursday. “More than 20 joint projects including the processing of Russian highly enriched uranium into nuclear fuel for US nuclear power plants are being implemented,” he remarked.
5. Weapon-grade uranium won't get into terrorists' hands
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Head of Russia's Atomic Energy Agency Alexander Rumyantsev said international terrorists would be unable to obtain the uranium suitable for making nuclear charges.
Rumyantsev made the statement as he was explaining to reporters the main purpose of the Russian-U.S. agreement, signed on Thursday, on return to Russia of the nuclear fuel from all foreign research reactors built by the Soviet Union.
"It is the first concrete move to implement the U.S. initiative on returning the enriched uranium from all research reactors to those countries where recycling of these nuclear materials and their storage are secure, presenting no opportunities for international terrorists to come into their possession," he underlined.
U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, who signed the document, reiterated that the unused enriched uranium from foreign reactors, built with Russian and U.S. technologies, will be returned to Russia and the United States, respectively.
Washington is planning to allocate more than 450 million dollars for this purpose, Abraham emphasized.
An official in the American delegation said Russia was entitled to more than 100 million dollars of this sum.
Under the agreement, the United States will cover the larger part of the expenses to return fuel to Russia, the Russian nuclear agency said.
According to Rumyantsev, Russia has to bring back and recycle up to 500 kilograms of enriched uranium from 17 research reactors in countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States, eastern Europe and southeast Asia within two years.
Russian nuclear agency spokesman Nikolai Shingarev told Itar-Tass that Russia had already brought back 862 kilograms of enriched uranium from reactors in the former Yugoslavia, Rumania, Bulgaria and Libya.
Shingarev underlined that 13 out the 17 countries with such reactors gave their consent, in principle, to returning the fuel to Russia.
At present, talks are underway over the transportation of fuel from the Czech Republic, Serbia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan, he said.
"The functioning research reactors will be upgraded to run on nuclear fuel with a lower degree of enrichment," the spokesman said. The spent nuclear fuel will be brought to Russia for recycling, he noted.
6. Energy Department Plans a Push to Retrieve Nuclear Materials
Matthew L. Wald and Judith Miller
New York Times
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In an effort to keep the raw materials for nuclear bombs out of the hands of terrorists, the Energy Department will undertake a $450 million campaign to retrieve nuclear materials that the United States and the Soviet Union originally sent around the world for research purposes, the energy secretary will announce on Wednesday in Vienna.
The department has been trying for years, with limited success, to recover unused uranium fuel at research reactors. An audit, announced in February, found that the department was likely to recover only about half of the 5,200 kilograms of uranium it was seeking and that no effort had been made to recover an additional 12,300 kilograms. Depending on the skill of the designers and builders, it takes as little as 5 kilograms to make a bomb the size of the one that destroyed Hiroshima, experts say.
The energy secretary, Spencer Abraham, plans to announce Wednesday in a speech to the International Atomic Energy Agency that the effort will be accelerated and will expand to include used Soviet-era fuel from research reactors, as well as unused fuel, from research reactors that the United States has long been seeking to collect. The used fuel typically contains large amounts of unused uranium of the type suitable for bombs, which can be extracted and purified with techniques that are 60 years old and widely known.
In addition, Mr. Abraham will report that the United States has drafted a global list of material that could be used to make bombs, ranked by risk factors, including the volume of material, the political stability of the area where it is located and the way it is guarded. In the past, American officials have looked at the materials by type or by region, but not on an integrated basis. Officials say the list is near completion.
In a telephone interview on Monday, Mr. Abraham said, "We've had these programs on the books, but the programs haven't been formalized and there hasn't been a specific budget commitment to it."
The American fuel was sent overseas under an Atoms for Peace program, starting in the 1960's and was lent or given to countries that promised not to develop nuclear weapons. The Soviets sent fuel to areas that became independent with the breakup of the Soviet Union and to other former Eastern Bloc countries.
In remarks prepared for delivery in Vienna, Mr. Abraham said that as part of the new campaign, the Global Threat Reduction Initiative, all unused Russian-origin fuel would be repatriated by the end of next year. Used fuel would follow by 2010. A copy of the remarks was made available to The New York Times by the Energy Department.
Fuel that originated in this country would also be returned on an accelerated basis. When the Energy Department began seeking return of the material, in the mid-1990's, it anticipated finishing the job by 2006, but officials are now hoping for 2010.
The fuel in question is highly enriched uranium. Weapon design using highly enriched uranium is so simple that the first such bomb, used by the United States at Hiroshima in August 1945, was not even tested beforehand. Modern plants use centrifuges to enrich uranium, but a country or terrorist group that acquired enough highly enriched uranium would have a major head start on a bomb, experts say. Much of the material would also be suitable for use in a ''dirty bomb," a conventional explosive spiked with radioactive material. The effects of the radiation from such a bomb would be limited and unlikely to cause acute illness, except perhaps of the bomber himself. But such radiation could contaminate valuable real estate and could require expensive cleanup or abandonment for decades.
Graham Allison, a Harvard professor and author of a new book on nuclear terrorism, said Mr. Abraham's new initiatives would be "important if the words are matched by deeds." Nonetheless, he added, the scale and speed of the effort are still woefully inadequate. "There is still a serious imbalance between the magnitude of the nuclear threat he describes and the remedies proposed," he said.
Some of the fuel is in Western European countries, and those countries will pay the expenses to send it back to this country, energy officials said. Other fuel is spread around the world, including Iran and is not considered recoverable at the moment.
7. Plan Launched to Reclaim Nuclear Fuel – Intensified U.S. Effort Would Thwart Terrorism, Rogue States, Abraham Says
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The Bush administration, citing the danger of nuclear terrorism, will announce intensified efforts to retrieve and secure tons of highly enriched uranium scattered among research reactors and repositories around the world.
Decades after the United States and Russia began supplying nuclear fuel abroad, the plan is to spend more money and sharpen the focus of both governments to repatriate it -- "to fill this enormous gap," Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said yesterday by telephone from Vienna, where he is to announce the $450 million initiative in a speech today.
Accelerating and concentrating existing efforts, Abraham said, the Bush administration will target the "most dangerous, least secure" nuclear materials first. In seeking to convert research reactors in the United States and abroad to less dangerous fuel, the most vulnerable ones will take priority.
Abraham's announcement, months in the making, comes after criticism from outside analysts and the Energy Department's inspector general that the administration has been moving too slowly. Auditors said in February that large amounts of highly enriched uranium produced in the United States "were out of U.S. control."
Just this week, a pair of Harvard University researchers said less fissile material was secured in the two years after Sept. 11, 2001, than in the two years before. The makings of an atomic bomb exist in hundreds of buildings in more than 40 countries, the report said.
Abraham, in Vienna to meet with Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, intends to acknowledge in his remarks that more must be done.
"We would be fooling ourselves -- and endangering our citizens -- to think that these past efforts are enough," an advance text of his speech says. It describes "the 21st century's greatest conflict" as a battle between "the civilized nations of the earth and the terrorists and terrorist states that would use devastating technologies to destroy them."
The Energy Department intends to remove the uranium retrieval programs from its oft-criticized Environmental Management Program and appoint a coordinator. Nuclear specialists have long said the federal government's nonproliferation programs are too diffused.
Little of the new money projected for the program will be spent soon, a senior Energy Department official said. In the coming 18 months, about $20 million will be added to existing programs, an amount likely to reach $60 million in peak years.
"We will find whatever funds are necessary to get this accelerated," the official said.
Matthew Bunn, co-author of the Harvard report, reacted positively to the administration's plan.
"What's new is pulling these things together, an explicit focus on eliminating the gaps," said Bunn. "If the Abraham initiative is followed through rapidly and flexibly, we have a real chance to get the dangerous nuclear material out of the world's most dangerous sites in a few years."
Beginning in the 1950s, the U.S. government delivered bomb-grade uranium to dozens of countries under the Atoms for Peace program. The idea was to help countries develop peaceful nuclear programs, whether for electrical power or scientific research.
Most of the fuel was to be returned to the United States, either in its most potent form or as spent fuel. Although some has been recovered, many tons of U.S. and Russian fuel remain in distant places.
Under Abraham's plan, all fresh Russian-produced highly enriched uranium would be repatriated by Dec. 31, 2005. Spent fuel would be returned by 2010. U.S.-produced spent fuel in research reactors would be repatriated within a decade, and U.S. authorities will work to convert U.S. and Russian civilian research reactors to safer fuel.
Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham announced a $450 million plan Wednesday to rid the world of the ``dirty bomb'' threat by keeping nuclear materials out of terrorist hands.
Abraham said the Global Threat Reduction Initiative would remove and secure high-risk nuclear materials that pose a menace to the international community.
Since the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, concerns have grown that terrorists might be trying to acquire material for a so-called ``dirty bomb'' - a device that uses conventional explosives to spread low-level radioactive material over several city blocks.
Abraham said the objective was to collect, secure and dispose of dangerous radioactive materials from around the world.
``Where 100 years ago authorities had to worry about the anarchist placing a bomb in the downtown square, now we must worry about the terrorist who places that bomb in the square, but packed with radiological material,'' Abraham told an International Atomic Energy Agency conference on nuclear safety.
Abraham said the new global program would reduce the proliferation threat by cutting off access to materials and equipment by ``whatever the most appropriate circumstance may be, as quickly and expeditiously as possible.''
By handling problems that require attention anywhere in the world, he said, officials will ensure that nuclear and radiological materials and equipment ``will not fall into the hands of those with evil intentions.''
A dirty bomb uses conventional explosives to spread radiation over several city blocks. It has no atomic chain reaction and requires no highly enriched uranium or plutonium. Both materials are normally kept under tight security, so they are difficult to obtain.
Instead, the radioactive component is of lower-grade isotopes, such as those used in medicine or research. If a dirty bomb were to be detonated, the radiation release probably would be small.
IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei described Abraham's plan as ``a major initiative to adjust the nonproliferation regime'' by strengthening the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
``This is clearly a key in our fight to control proliferation ... to protect ourselves from nuclear terrorists,'' ElBaradei said. ``We need to re-examine our rules of the game. We need to adjust our defenses ... The first line of defense is having adequate protection of nuclear material.''
On Tuesday, the United States provided Greek police and border officials with radiation detection equipment to help guard the Aug. 13-29 Athens Olympics against a nuclear or ``dirty'' bomb.
Abraham said his first priority is to bring back to the United States some 330 tons of Russian-origin, highly enriched uranium by the end of 2005.
More than 220 tons have been eliminated so far. All Russian spent fuel would be recovered by 2010.
``It has become clear that an even more comprehensive and urgently focused effort is needed to respond to emerging and evolving threats,'' Abraham said. ``Moreover, we are prepared to spend the resources necessary to guarantee success.''
``But we will need more funds, and heightened international cooperation, to finish the job,'' he said.
The IAEA conference was examining how to better secure nuclear and radiological materials at atomic research reactors and other facilities worldwide.
The Vienna-based U.N. nuclear watchdog agency estimates as many as 110 countries worldwide do not have adequate controls over radioactive devices that, if enough of them were obtained, could be used to build an explosive device that would spread radioactive material.
9. U.S., Russia work with U.N. on global nuke threat
Louis Charbonneau, Reuters
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The United States, Russia and the U.N. are working to round up nuclear material across the globe to keep it out of the hands of rogue states and militants trying to acquire anything from crude "dirty bombs" to atomic weapons.
U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham gave details of the initiative in a speech on Wednesday to members of the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Washington has earmarked more than $450 million for the plan, he said.
Abraham said the initiative addressed "the threat posed by the entire spectrum of nuclear materials (and) reflects the realities of the 21st century that were so startlingly made clear on a September morning three years ago".
IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei said the plan was a crucial step in reducing the nuclear threat in light of the recent discovery of a global black market that supplied sensitive atomic technology to countries like Libya, North Korea and Iran.
"We live in an increasingly polarised world," ElBaradei told reporters. "If you put these...things together -- a polarised world, the proliferation of (nuclear) technology, the proliferation of terrorism -- you know we will need to adjust, augment, strengthen our defence."
The initiative includes a plan to repatriate all unused Russian-origin highly enriched uranium (HEU) fuel by the end of next year and all spent nuclear fuel by 2010. Spent fuel can be reprocessed to extract plutonium.
Nuclear arms can use either weapons-grade HEU or plutonium. Of the two bombs the United States dropped on Japan in 1945, one had an HEU core and the other was made of plutonium.
Abraham is meeting senior Russian officials on Thursday, when they are expected to sign a bilateral deal outlining the terms of the initiative, U.S. officials said.
13 COUNTRIES ON BOARD
A Russian Atomic Energy Agency official told Reuters in Moscow there were 17 states with Russian HEU to be repatriated.
"Thirteen of these countries have already agreed to sign up to this initiative and return their HEU to Russia," he said, without identifying the countries.
Abraham said Washington would complete the repatriation of all used U.S.-made research reactor fuel within a decade. Some U.S. research reactors used bomb-grade HEU.
He also said Washington would convert civilian research HEU reactors to use low enriched uranium fuel instead -- not just in the United States but across the globe.
"We will target those reactors first where the threats and vulnerabilities are the highest," he said.
Washington is already working with Libya, which agreed in December to renounce all nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programmes, to convert its research reactor.
Abraham said the U.S. and Russian governments had already cooperated on several missions to recover HEU from different countries, including 17 kg (37 lb) of HEU fuel from Bulgaria, 14 kg (31 lb) from Romania, 48 kg (105.6 lb) from Serbia and 17 kg from Libya -- all repatriated to Russia.
The initiative will not be limited to weapons-useable materials but also those that could be used in a so-called dirty bomb -- created when an explosive like dynamite is laced with radioactive material to spread it across a wide area.
Asked why the initiative was limited to Russian and U.S. material and did not include countries like Pakistan, which are known proliferators, Abraham said it was partly because the United States and Russia produced the bulk of it.
10. US and Russia to sign enriched uranium retrieval deal
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The US and Russia will sign a bilateral initiative as early as this week to retrieve highly enriched uranium from unsecured research facilities.
Spencer Abraham, US energy secretary, is expected to outline the initiative in a speech at the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna tomorrow, before he travels on to Moscow.
Mr Abraham said the problem of uranium being vulnerable to theft by terrorists was "one of the most significant challenges that are unaddressed fully right now".
In an interview with the FT, he said: "We are very close to a government-to-government agreement to go from an ad hoc to a more formalised and very systematic programme to retrieve fresh and spent fuel and convert reactors to work without them."
The programme, which has in the past targeted facilities in countries such as Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria and Libya, should fill "major gaps" in the fight against proliferation of nuclear materials.
In Vienna, Mr Abraham hopes to heighten awareness among non-nuclear weapons states about the safety of nuclear material in their research laboratories.
The US hopes to reduce the risk that terrorists could obtain stolen nuclear material to build a radiological or dirty bomb, or even short- cut the process of making the core of a nuclear bomb.
Under the US-Russian programme, highly enriched uranium - originally supplied by Russia and the US - would be extracted from reactors with the agreement of the host country, and taken back to where it came from. The reactor would then be converted to use uranium which was not so highly enriched and therefore unusable in a nuclear weapon, Mr Abraham said. He added that the US "pays the bill".
The US is also concerned about research reactors in Iran, but Mr Abraham said Washington would need a third party with diplomatic ties to Tehran to help secure the uranium there.
There are 15-17 reactors using enriched uranium that originated in Russia and about the same number of facilities using material that originated in the US.
The United States and Russia will sign an agreement Thursday that should finally lock down some of the world's most dangerous and poorly guarded nuclear fuel.
Atomic scientists have long warned that supplies of highly enriched uranium at research and university reactors around the world are particularly vulnerable to theft by terrorists. The new U.S.-Russia program would retrieve the uranium from 20 reactors in 17 countries and bring it back to Russia for storage.
"This fuel is of great interest to terrorists, so the program is quite significant," said Daniil Kobyakov, a nonproliferation expert at the PIR Center, an independent policy research organization in Moscow.
Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham is expected to sign the accord in Moscow on Thursday with Alexander Rumantsyev, the head of Russia's nuclear agency. It will be formally known as the Russian Research Reactor Fuel Return.
Research-reactor fuel is especially attractive to terrorists because it can be used to make simple nuclear weapons - about 50 pounds of enriched uranium for one device. Smaller amounts could be used in "dirty bombs" - conventional bombs containing nuclear material that would spread radiation when they explode.
The research-reactor fuel also is easily transported and often can be handled without elaborate shielding precautions.
But the biggest worry is that it's usually lightly guarded.
"Academic and research reactors at universities are simply not capable of providing a defense against a terrorist assault," said Edwin Lyman, senior scientist in the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington. "The great concern is a paramilitary-type assault on one of these facilities and the material is forcibly removed."
Lyman said a U.S. government study found that thieves could carry off the uranium in a storage pool in about an hour.
The fuel coming back to Russia is expected to be stored at Dmitrovgrad, where it will be cooled and eventually "downblended," in essence, diluted.
Russian officials say there's no storage room left at the country's only fuel-reprocessing plant, the trouble-plagued Mayak facility. Mayak is swamped with fuel taken from Russia's fleet of rusting nuclear submarines and icebreakers.
Scientists and antinuclear activists are optimistic about the new fuel-return program, but they're also concerned that Russia is taking on large new imports of highly dangerous uranium. They point to Russia's poor record in storing and safeguarding the atomic material it already has.
"Bringing all this back to Russia, yes, it's a little paradoxical, given all the warnings about proliferation in Russia," said Lyman.
There have been numerous security breaches at sensitive nuclear facilities, including one in which radioactive material disappeared.
Two years ago, for example, a Greenpeace activist, a Russian lawmaker and a camera crew made their way into a "high security" area where thousands of tons of spent nuclear fuel were stored. They spent several hours in the facility, located in Krasnoyarsk. They walked past any number of guards and sentry posts, shot their film and left without incident.
"Our protection system against terrorist attacks must be modernized," said Nikolai Shingarev, chief spokesman for Minatom, the Russian nuclear agency. "We know this. We pay great attention to it."
Shingarev acknowledged "discrepancies" in inventory-taking at nuclear plants and "very small thefts" of radioactive material.
"There was one building operator who was caching away `extra' fuel in case there was a shortfall in his inventory at the end of the month," said a nuclear-security expert in Russia who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Until only recently, he said, most Russian nuclear facilities were keeping hand-written inventories in large account books. He called the system "old-fashioned" and "haphazard."
The official said, "There would be guys in smocks and caps opening up unmarked containers, saying, `What's in here?' Sometimes we'd find pretty dangerous stuff that was clearly not supposed to be where it was."
The U.S. Department of Energy is spending some $40 million to help the Russians improve security at nuclear installations.
Many of the so-called "rapid upgrades" are Home Depot-style measures: Replacing wooden doors with steel ones, putting iron bars on vulnerable windows and installing refrigerator-size concrete blocks to block access to nuclear storage casks.
Other measures are more Radio Shack style: closed-circuit TVs, electronic key-cards, motion sensors, walkie-talkies.
Russian officials also asked for field-sobriety kits to test their Atomic Guard troopers.
Nuclear experts believe successful implementation of the U.S.-Russia program will need some $80 million in funding by Congress over the next two years.
The program covers fuel that the Soviet and Russian governments originally supplied to foreign atomic facilities. In some cases, those fuel shipments began as early as the 1950s.
The United States also exported nuclear reactors and highly enriched uranium at the same time, starting with President Dwight Eisenhower's "Atoms for Peace" program. More than a dozen plants using that uranium are still operating in the United States and elsewhere, but these fuel supplies aren't covered under the new program with Russia.
Reactors in Uzbekistan, Belarus, Ukraine, Romania and Poland are thought to be among the highest priority targets for the upcoming "clean-out."
Lyman said there are substantial quantities of highly enriched uranium in the former Soviet republic of Belarus.
"Many bombs worth," he said.
The other countries covered by the fuel-return program are Bulgaria, China, the Czech Republic, North Korea, Egypt, Germany, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Libya, Vietnam and Yugoslavia.
Facilities returning their highly enriched fuel to Russia must agree to convert their reactors to operate on low enriched uranium, which is considered less of a proliferation threat.
The new U.S.-Russia program got something of a test run on Aug. 22, 2002, when military forces from both countries raided a research reactor outside Belgrade, the capital of then Yugoslavia.
The 17-hour operation, which cost an estimated $5 million, reportedly netted 100 pounds of highly enriched uranium, enough for two nuclear bombs.
Two other collections were made last year - 31 pounds of highly enriched uranium from Romania in September and another 37 pounds from Bulgaria in December. Experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency also participated.
The mental image we all have of a near-nuclear war scenario goes like this: A threat is detected; military men dutifully begin working their way through a crisp and precise set of protocols; maybe it even gets as far as the authorities ordering missile launch officers to break open those little squares of hard plastic we know from the movies, the ones that hold the launch codes.
But the threat is defused, or revealed to have been false -- and then everyone stands down from Armageddon in the same crisp, orderly fashion as they had ramped up for it.
It turns out that it's nothing like that.
Consider, for example, a fun Cold War-era fact from Bruce Blair, who is president of the Washington-based Center for Defense Information (home of Johnson's Russia List).
Blair was a Minuteman nuclear missile launch officer in the 1970s, and regularly ran through simulations in which he and his colleagues launched up to 50 missiles at the Soviet Union.
To launch a Minuteman in those days, one had to "unlock" the missile by dialing in a code -- the equivalent of a safety catch on a handgun. However, Blair reports, the U.S. Strategic Air Command was worried that a bunch of sissy safety features might slow things down. It ordered all locks set to 00000000 -- and in launch checklists, reminded all launch officers like Blair to keep the codes there. "So the 'secret unlock code' during the height of the nuclear crises of the Cold War," Blair says, "remained constant at 00000000."
Blair recently buttonholed Robert McNamara, the former U.S. defense secretary best known for overseeing the escalation of our war in Vietnam.
It was McNamara who ordered that safety locks be put on Minuteman missiles, and he spoke with great pride of this as a reform crucial to preventing accidental nuclear war. So when Blair told him the code was fixed at a line of zeros, he flipped.
"I am shocked, absolutely shocked and outraged," McNamara said. "Who the hell authorized that?"
Hmmm. Now, how could anybody be shocked -- shocked! -- to find we weren't in control of our nuclear arsenals?
Over the decades we've lived with thousands of hair-trigger-launch nukes, there have been four major false alarms (that we know of): in 1979 and 1980 (both American false alarms), in 1983 (a Soviet false alarm) and in 1995 (a Russian false alarm).
And yet the United States and Russia in 2004 -- just as in the 1970s, '80s and '90s -- still have thousands of nuclear weapons aimed at each other and poised to be launched in minutes.
Candidate-for-president George W. Bush back in 2000 talked about de-alerting the U.S. missile fleet -- reducing the launch protocols from mere minutes to hours or even days. Sadly for us, he dropped that once in office.
And so we are left to be protected by the ad-hoc freelancing of men like Lieutenant Colonel Stanislav Petrov, who was honored on Friday in Moscow by a relatively obscure American peace group. Why? Because he did not do his job -- and, frankly, for no real good reason.
Nineteen-eighty-three was, in retrospect, a terrifying year. Ronald Reagan was pushing a nuclear buildup, talking about "winnable" nuclear wars and a "Star Wars" missile defense shield, and putting missiles in Europe; the Soviets were responding with the "dead hand" nuclear launch system and other grim moves to counter a surprise attack.
In June of that year, we had the idiocy of the "Farewell Dossier" -- a recently revealed Cold War episode in which the Reagan team engineered a massive explosion at a Siberian pipeline (one that reportedly had startled U.S. war planners thinking a nuclear exchange was under way). In August, the Soviets shot down Korean Air Lines 007, killing all 269 people on board.
Weeks later, on September 26, 1983, at a half-hour past midnight, Petrov was watching horrified as a warning system he had helped create reported five U.S. missiles launched and headed toward Soviet territory.
Blair says this was the closest we've ever come to accidental nuclear war. "By all rights we should have blown ourselves to bits by now, but good luck and good judgment up and down the chain of command have spared us this fate ... so far."
All the data checked out; there was no sign of any glitch or error. Yet Petrov says, "I just couldn't believe that just like that, all of a sudden, someone would hurl five missiles at us." And: "I imagined if I'd assume the responsibility for unleashing the Third World War -- and I said, 'No, I wouldn't.'"
Petrov declared it to be a false alarm -- not because he had any evidence of that, but because he wanted it to be false.
And then, he says, "I drank half a liter of vodka as if it were only a glass and slept for 28 hours." Which is what I feel like doing every time I'm confronted with our complacence about this system we've built.
1. Russia for Iran Abiding By Its Nuclear Commitments
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Russia is for Iran's abiding by all its commitments in the nuclear sphere, Alexander Yakovenko, official spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, told the RIA Novosti news conference.
Asked to comment on the statement by Iranian President Mohammad Khatami that Teheran can resume uranium enrichment and end inspection of its nuclear facilities if the International Atomic Energy Agency does not agree to Iran's participation in the June sitting of the IAEA Board of Governors, Alexander Yakovenko said he knows nothing about the statement.
"On a broader plane, I can say that we come out for active cooperation between Iran and the IAEA. An intensive level of contacts has already been reached", he said.
"We hope that Iran will abide by its obligations on not only the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty but also the additional protocol to the IAEA Guarantees Agreement, which it has just signed". Alexander Yakovenko stressed.
On Thursday the Iranian president said that a decision by the IAEA on Iran's participation in the Board of Governors' sitting will have a say on Teheran-IAEA cooperation. "We have voluntary discontinued work on uranium enrichment and we are voluntarily fulfilling the inspections decision. We can end it all at any time", Khatami said.
Despite differences between Russia and the United States over Tehran's nuclear ambitions, Moscow is still moving toward forging a "partnership" with Iran, which has been labeled by US President George W Bush as part of an "axis of evil".
This month Russian President Vladimir Putin met with visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi in Moscow and accepted an invitation to visit Tehran this year. Putin assured the Iranian chief diplomat that Iran remained Russia's "old and stable partner".
When US Under Secretary of State for Arms Control John Bolton traveled to Moscow shortly afterward, he urged Russia not to supply nuclear fuel to Iran's Bushehr reactor until Tehran addressed international concerns that Iran might develop a nuclear-weapons program. Bolton told journalists in Moscow that "tactical" differences between the US and Russia remained over Iran's nuclear ambitions.
In response, after a meeting with Bolton, the head of Russia's Nuclear Power Agency, Alexander Rumyantsev, reiterated that Russia abided by international agreements banning the proliferation of nuclear technology.
Russia has long been under fire for its help in building the Bushehr nuclear plant on Iran's Persian Gulf coast. The US has insisted that the Russian technology could be used to develop nuclear weapons, but Moscow and Tehran argue that the plant will only be used for civilian purposes. Moscow has brushed off repeated US demands that it cancel Bushehr's 1,000-megawatt light-water nuclear-reactor project.
Russia has said it would freeze construction on the US$1 billion Bushehr plant and would not begin delivering fuel for the reactor until Iran signed an agreement that would oblige it to return all of the spent fuel to Russia for reprocessing and storage. This agreement was reported as close to being signed last September, but so far an agreement has failed to materialize fully.
This month Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced in Moscow that the issue of the return of the spent fuel to Russia had been solved. However, he conceded that "commercial" differences with Iran over the issue remained.
Last October, Russia announced a delay for the launch of the Bushehr nuclear reactor until 2005 and urged Tehran to improve disclosure of its nuclear plans. However, there has been no talk in Moscow about dropping the Bushehr project. Last week, Russia's Nuclear Power Agency reportedly indicated it would finish a nuclear reactor in Iran regardless.
For years, the Kremlin has resisted US pressure and declined to limit ties with Iran. In March 2001, Putin and Iranian President Mohammad Khatami signed a cooperation treaty. Subsequently, in October of that year, Moscow and Tehran signed framework agreements for $300 million to $400 million a year of Russian military supplies to Iran, including spare parts for Russian-made weapons, new fighter jets and possibly air-defense, ground-to-ground and anti-ship systems.
Apart from attempts to discourage Russia from fueling Iran's nuclear ambitions, the US has pursued its efforts to persuade Russia to join the US-backed non-proliferation initiative. The hawkish Bolton regularly visits Russia for non-proliferation talks. However, last week Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak announced after a meeting with Bolton that no agreement had been reached on Russia joining the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI).
Moscow has so far refrained from a clear commitment to join the PSI. Russia is the only Group of Eight member that is yet to join the PSI, which was announced by Bush last May.
Apart from the Bushehr project, Russia has other interests in Iran. Last Thursday, top railway executives of Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan met in Moscow and agreed to build a Kazvin-Resht-Astara rail link connecting the three nations. Gennady Fadeyev, head of the state-run Russian Railways Co (RZD), pledged to build a $100 million, 340-kilometer link connecting Russia to the Persian Gulf via Azerbaijan and Iran. Fadeyev claimed that the link could funnel up to 20 million tons of freight to India and Pakistan.
Russia and Iran have long discussed the restoration of a rail link between the two countries as a viable alternative to Red Sea routes. This alternative transport link from Asia to Europe - from Mumbai to the Caspian port of Olya in the Astrakhan region via Bandar Abbas in Iran - is expected to bring Russia billions of dollars in revenues.
Russia, India and Iran signed an agreement on the development of this so-called North-South Corridor in September 2000. Russia estimates that the link could become a rival of the Suez Canal. Russia estimates that annual trade turnover through the corridor could reach $10 billion per year, with Russia and Iran becoming the main beneficiaries.
Meanwhile, Moscow's "partnership" with Tehran could prove double-edged, notably after Iran clinched a controversial gas deal with Russia's sole ally in the volatile Trans-Caucasus region, Armenia. In mid-May, Iran's minister of oil, Bijan Namdar Zanganeh, traveled to Armenia and signed an agreement on the construction of a 114km Iran-Armenia gas pipeline that would cost $120 million. Iran reportedly agreed to supply 1.27 trillion cubic feet (36 billion cubic meters) to Armenia from 2007-27.
The Iran-Armenia pipeline could also be extended through Georgia to Ukraine and on to the European Union. The Iran-Armenia-Georgia-Ukraine-Europe gas pipeline, with a 550km underwater section from the Georgian port of Supsa to the Crimean town of Feodosia, has been estimated to cost $5 billion. The planned gas supply would amount to 2.12 trillion cubic feet (60 billion cubic meters) per annum, including 353 billion cubic feet (10 billion cubic meters) for Ukraine.
Russia has been wary that the extended pipeline could be used to funnel Iranian gas to European markets. It could also allow Turkmenistan to circumvent Russia's gas-pipeline network. However, Armenia is yet to make a decision on the extended pipeline.
Armenia is traditionally Russia's closest partner in the Caucasus. Sandwiched among hostile Azerbaijan and Turkey and volatile Georgia, Armenia has little option but to remain a supporter of Russia's geopolitical moves in the Caucasus. However, some divergent interests have emerged recently, notably Armenia's aspirations to limit its dependence on Russian energy supplies by building a gas pipeline from Iran to Europe. Therefore, Russia's "partnership" with Iran could have its limits after all, and not because of the United States.
1. Weldon speaks of boosting missile defense cooperation with Moscow
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A U.S. congressman on Tuesday spoke in favor of expanding technical cooperation with Russia in the development of an anti-missile system the United States is determined to build.
U.S. Representative Curt Weldon, R-Pa., praised the decade-old Russian-American Observation Satellite program, or RAMOS a joint effort to permit early detection of missile launches but said follow-up projects are needed to engage Russia in missile defense activities.
Projects ranging ``from the use of Russian radar systems to the potential involvement of Russia in targeting and other aspects of missile defense'' are being considered, said Weldon, who is heading a congressional delegation to Moscow and was accompanied by four senior leaders from the U.S. missile defense agency.
After years of fervent protests against U.S. plans to build nationwide defenses against ballistic missiles, President Vladimir Putin reacted calmly when Washington withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002 in order to deploy such a shield. Putin said the move was a mistake but not a threat to Russia.
U.S. officials have tried to soothe Russian concerns about American plans for a missile shield by talking about prospects for cooperation on anti-missile systems.
The RAMOS program was begun under President George H.W. Bush as a measure aimed to build trust not long after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Satellites and other means of detecting and tracking missiles in flight are crucial to defending against attack. Interceptor rockets cannot work properly if they aren't cued to their target in time.
Weldon, who is vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said he had earlier suggested to Russia's military leadership that cooperation based on Russian technology such as air defense missile systems, or on boost-phase interceptors, be considered.
The American delegation had meetings with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, members of Russia's parliament, military officials and business representatives.
Among the issues discussed was the need for increased investment in Russia. Weldon said the delegation had offered support for a new US$50 million venture capital fund in Russia.
On international affairs, Weldon said that Russia should play a critical role in Iraq and that ``the effort there to deal with the terror cells is as important to Russian security as it is to American.''
Emphasizing Russia's role in finding a lasting settlement on the Korean peninsula, Weldon said Russia can help by providing energy support to North Korea and by transporting energy through North Korea for purchased by South Koreans, Japan and Chinese.''
1. Vietnam Thinks High of Nuclear Energy Cooperation with Russia
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Vietnam thinks high of nuclear energy cooperation with Russia, Vyong Gu Tan, head of Vietnam's Nuclear Energy Institute, said at the first Vietnamese international exhibition on nuclear energy, opened on Wednesday. Its five participants are Russia, France, Japan, India and South Korea.
At this exhibition, the leading Russian enterprises Atomstroiexport, OAO TVEL, Tekhsnabexport for the first time showcase mock-ups of modern nuclear power stations, nuclear technologies used for peaceful ends, attendant equipment.
Galina Gorshtein, director of the research and marketing centre of the Federal Nuclear Energy Agency, said that Russia is interested in nuclear energy cooperation with Vietnam "at every stage, from cadre training to turnkey construction of nuclear facilities".
The Vietnamese show interest in Russian nuclear energy expertise, cooperation in the training of specialists, other spheres of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy - medicine and the development of new technologies.
For their part, Russian enterprises are ready to cooperate with Vietnamese partners. "We hope that in the future Russian and Vietnamese specialists will jointly work on large projects, such as the construction of the first nuclear power station in Vietnam", Alexander Volchkov of Atomstroiexport said.
Russia is the traditional partner of Vietnam in nuclear power engineering. In 2002 they concluded an agreement on cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
A programme on such cooperation has been drawn up for 1004-2005, intending discussion of the making of a nuclear power station in Vietnam.
According to the Nuclear Energy Institute, Vietnam is going to put into service its first facility of 2,000 to 4,000 megawatts before 2020. An international tender will be announced for its construction.
Vietnam's programme to build its first nuclear power plant by 2020 is gathering steam, with officials saying Wednesday that a pre-feasibility study will be submitted to the government this year.
Le Doan Phac, the director of the international affairs department at the Vietnam Nuclear Energy Institute, said the study had determined three possible locations for the plant in the coastal provinces of Phu Yen and Ninh Thuan.
"We cannot give a precise date when we will formally submit the pre-feasibility study. That depends on the government, but we can say that we expect it to happen this year," he said.
The blueprint envisages that the plant, which will have a capacity of either 2,000 or 4,000 megawatts, will be built with international cooperation.
Phac's comments came as government experts and nuclear power companies from France, Russia, Japan, South Korea and India -- the frontrunners hoping to cash in on Vietnam's nuclear ambitions -- began a four-day meeting in Hanoi.
Experts say the communist nation is not capable of developing nuclear technology on its own, even though it profited during the 1980s from information exchanges with the former Soviet Union.
In February, Russia and Vietnam signed a memorandum of understanding in which Moscow agreed to help Hanoi build its first nuclear power plant, but experts say the door still remains wide open for its competitors.
"It is very early days. It is still a negotiating process," said one foreign energy specialist, who requested anonymity.
Vietnam's Institute of Technology for Radioactive Materials said last year the country had an estimated 230,000 tonnes of uranium and could run a nuclear power station for at least 24 years.
Development of Vietnam's energy infrastructure is one of the most significant challenges facing the power-hungry Southeast Asian nation, where the World Bank forecasts economic growth will hit 7.0 percent this year.
According to government estimates, the country will experience an electricity shortage of eight billion kilowatts by 2015, increasing to a massive 35 billion to 60 billion kilowatts by 2020.
Despite having a vast network of rivers and significant oil, gas and coal reserves, the government is concerned about their finite nature, and believes the future of its energy production depends on diversification.
Observers also believe that Hanoi's desire to pursue the nuclear power option dovetails with its military-security policy.
"Nuclear power is always tied up with national defence, so it is very difficult to say whether a shortage of energy in 2015 requires developing this option in a country with a lot of capacity in hydro-power and coal," the foreign specialist said.
"But if you look around at Vietnam's neighbours, Taiwan, South Korea, North Korea, Japan and China upstairs, it is understandable that they are going to think of nuclear power as a long term option. It is a prudent move."
Sceptics, however, say the nuclear programme will come with an exorbitant price tag and is not essential in a country where average per capita income hovers around a paltry 440 dollars a year.
A spokesman for the World Bank in Vietnam said Wednesday the organization would not be involved in financing the nuclear power project.
"We do not finance nuclear projects and have no intention of financing nuclear power," he said.
Critics of Vietnam's nuclear programme also believe the government has been too conservative in its forecasts of when the country's oil and gas reserves will dry up.
1. IAEA Welcomes US New Global Threat Reduction Initiative
International Atomic Energy Agency
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The IAEA has welcomed the US announcement of a new comprehensive global initiative to address the issue of nuclear security around the world and reduce the threat of nuclear terrorism.
The Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) was announced by United States Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham 26 May at a meeting with IAEA senior officials at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna. The initiative aims to minimize as quickly as possible the amount of nuclear material available that could be used for nuclear weapons. It will also seek to put into place mechanisms to ensure that nuclear and radiological materials and related equipment -- wherever they may be in the world -- are not used for malicious purposes.
"We will do this by the securing, removing, relocating or disposing of these materials and equipment-whatever the most appropriate circumstance may be-as quickly and expeditiously as possible", Secretary Abraham said.
At a press conference, IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei said security issues have become a global priority in the past several years, with nuclear weapons related know-how spreading extensively. He said this makes the control of nuclear material that could be used for nuclear weapons extremely critical, and welcomed the proposal on the part of Secretary Abraham and the United States.
"The proposal is a continuation and extension of initiatives that the IAEA, the USA and others have been working on for many years, and with renewed intensity in the past couple of years, to address nuclear security around the world", Dr. ElBaradei said.
Under the GTRI initiative, the US would work with the IAEA and other partners to:
• Repatriate all Russian-origin fresh high enriched uranium fuel (in cooperation with Russia and th eother countries concerned) by the end of next year, and accelerate and complete the repatriation of all Russian-origin spent fuel by 2010. • Take all steps necessary to accelerate and complete the repatriation of all U.S.-origin research reactor spent fuel under existing US program from locations around the world. • Work to convert the cores of civilian research reactors that use high enriched uranium to use low enriched uranium fuel, throughout the world. • Work to identify other nuclear and radiological materials and related equipment that are not yet covered by existing threat reduction efforts, and rapidly address the most vulnerable facilities first, to ensure that there are no gaps that would enable a terrorist to acquire these materials for malevolent purposes.
The US will establish a single organization within the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration to focus exclusively on these efforts. It plans to dedicate more than $450 million to them.
International and global cooperation will be an integral part of the GTRI initiative. At his announcement, Secretary Abrahams also proposed that the IAEA and international community join in holding a Global Threat Reduction Initiative Partners' Conference.
This conference would examine how to address material collection and security in places where a broader international effort is required. It would also focus on material collection and security of other proliferation-attractive materials, such as those located at conversion facilities, reprocessing plants, and industrial sites, as well as the funding of such work.
2. United States and Russian Federation Cooperate on Return of Russian-origin Research Reactor Fuel to Russia
Department of Energy
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MOSCOW, RUSSIA - On May 27, 2004, the U.S. Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham and Director Rumyantsev of the Russian Federal Agency for Atomic Energy signed a bilateral agreement between the U.S. and Russian Federation governments concerning the repatriation of Russian-origin high-enriched uranium (HEU) research reactor fuel to Russia. Under this agreement, more than a dozen countries are eligible to receive financial and technical assistance from the United States and others to ship their fresh and spent research reactor fuel to Russia for safe and secure management. This agreement reaffirms the United States and Russian Federation's shared commitment to reduce global stockpiles of weapons-usable nuclear materials, to reduce the threat of international terrorism, and to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
"With today's agreement, we are moving forward to complete the important work of repatriating fresh and spent HEU fuel, which will reduce the threat of terrorism and prevent the proliferation of weapons-grade uranium," Secretary Abraham stated.
Abraham also said that this program supports President George W. Bush's goal of ending the use of weapons-grade uranium in research reactors and we are pleased to partner with the Russian Federation and the International Atomic Energy Agency on this vital effort.
Beginning in December 1999, representatives from the United States and the Russian Federation, in cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), began developing a new program to support the return to the Russian Federation of Soviet or Russian supplied fresh and irradiated HEU fuel, currently stored at foreign research reactors. Through these tripartite discussions, more than 20 research reactors in 17 countries have been identified as having Russian/Soviet-supplied fuel. As an integral part of this Russian Research Reactor Fuel Return (RRRFR) program, participating countries agree to convert their research reactors from using HEU to low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuel upon availability, qualification, and licensing of suitable LEU fuel.
In September 2003, under the RRRFR program, Russia accepted approximately 14 kilograms of fresh Russian-origin HEU from Romania. The HEU was airlifted from Bucharest, Romania to Russia where it will be down-blended and used for nuclear power plant fuel fabrication. In December 2003, also under the RRRFR program, Russia accepted approximately 17 kilograms of fresh Russian-origin HEU from Bulgaria. Most recently, in March 2004, under the RRRFR program, Russia accepted 17 kilograms of fresh Russian-origin HEU from Libya. In addition, preparations are well advanced for the first shipment to Russia of irradiated fuel containing HEU from a research reactor in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
3. Address to the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation (excerpted)
President Vladimir V. Putin
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Undoubtedly, modernization of the army is a task of national importance. We need effective, well-equipped and modern Armed Forces for reliable protection of the country. So that we can easily solve internal socio-economic tasks.
We should secure our country from any forms of military and political pressure and potential foreign aggression. And thus modernizing the Russian Armed Forces remains a very important task, including equipping strategic nuclear forces with the most modern systems of strategic armaments. We have everything needed for this. And also, we need to equip other types of the Armed Forces with the appropriate tactical and operational weapons. I would like to note once more: an adequate quality of weapons is the characteristic that directly determines the degree of battle readiness of a modern army.
We are also beginning reform of social guarantees for soldiers. A mortgage system will be created for them. Three years after joining this system, a soldier will be able to receive housing on mortgage conditions.
I also think that military education for training specialists of unique professions that are required by a modern army can also be gained at civil institutes of higher education.
I would like to stress: for successful modernization of the entire military organization of the state, we need to know precisely how to spend considerable sums of money – including providing soldiers with housing, military medicine and education. Furthermore, the army and other law-enforcement departments have an enormous amount of property. And this also needs to be evaluated and managed effectively. A transparent military economy is the necessary condition for reform.
All these steps should increase the prestige and attractiveness of military service.
I would like to remind the Defence Ministry and the Government as a whole: the volumes of funds spent, the interests of the country’s defensive capacity, and also the important social parameters of reform make civil control over the effectiveness of changes in the army essential.
* * *
The growth of the economy, political stability and the strengthening of the state have had a beneficial effect on Russia’s international position. We have been able to a significant degree to make our foreign policy both dynamic and pragmatic.
It is clear that the scale of the tasks that the country faces has now changed substantially. And we need to make our foreign policy adequate to the goals and capabilities of the new stage of development. In other words, we need to use the tools of foreign policy for a more appreciable practical return in the economy, and in the realization of important national tasks.
We will continue to develop political and economic dialogue with the U.S.A. and with such major partners as China, India and Japan, and we will work with other countries. Border and interregional cooperation are also a significant reserve of development of trade and economic, cultural and humanitarian ties.
It is clear that a necessary condition for solving these tasks is the effective security of Russia, and the inviolability of its borders. And an adequate response to the most serious threats of the 21st century – international terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, regional conflicts – can only be provided by the united efforts of the international community, relying on the tools of the UN and international law.
4. Department of Energy Launches New Global Threat Reduction Initiative – Will accelerate and expand the security and removal of proliferation-sensitive materials
Department of Energy
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VIENNA, AUSTRIA – In Vienna today, Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham launched a comprehensive global initiative to secure and remove high-risk nuclear and radiological materials that continue to pose a threat to the United States and the international community. The Secretary spoke to an audience of delegates at the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Abraham said that while the Department of Energy has made significant strides in the security and removal of nuclear materials of concern by improving the security of hundreds of tons of weapons-usable material in Russia, there still exists a significant amount of nuclear materials in dozens of research reactors and other locations throughout the world that is of significant proliferation concern and must be addressed as rapidly as possible. The Global Threat Reduction Initiative will be carried out in close cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency and global partners in order to ensure that such nuclear and radiological materials do not fall into the hands of terrorists or other rogue actors.
“We have worked with Russia to down-blend over 200 metric tons of high-enriched uranium (HEU) from dismantled Russian nuclear weapons, and just in the last eight months have repatriated 48 kilograms of Russian-origin HEU in three separate operations, including the most recent removal of 17 kilograms of Russian-origin HEU from Libya. Nevertheless, we must continue to press forward in our efforts to reduce the threat posed by proliferation-sensitive nuclear materials and high-risk radiological materials,” the Secretary stated.
In order to achieve this, the Secretary has directed the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to consolidate and accelerate the department’s nuclear materials removal efforts and rapidly identify and address any gaps in current security coverage and recovery or removal efforts. Under this new initiative, which will include the establishment of a new office under the Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation, the department will develop a threat-based, prioritized approach to systematically address facilities that possess high-risk fissile and other nuclear materials.
“I have instructed the National Nuclear Security Administration to work closely with the Department of State and other agencies to develop the diplomatic strategy necessary to secure, remove, or eliminate these materials,” the Secretary said. The department will draw from its world class scientific and technical expertise and leverage existing nonproliferation programs to identify and prioritize vulnerable materials, remove or
secure such materials, convert research and test reactors, and take any other steps necessary to meet changing threats. This new initiative will build upon existing and long-standing U.S. nonproliferation efforts to minimize and eventually eliminate any reliance on HEU in the civilian fuel cycle, including conversion of research and test reactors worldwide from the use of HEU to the use of low-enriched uranium fuels and targets.
This is just the latest step in the department’s efforts to address the global threat posed by dangerous nuclear and radiological materials. On April 14, 2004, Secretary Abraham directed NNSA to consolidate the U.S. Foreign Research Reactor Spent Nuclear Fuel Acceptance Program within its nonproliferation mission, and instructed the appropriate offices within the department to initiate actions necessary to extend the program’s fuel acceptance deadline. Taken together, these efforts will reduce the threat worldwide of high-risk and proliferation-attractive materials.
5. Remarks prepared for Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham – International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna
Department of Energy
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Thank you, Director General ElBaradei.
Today, I have a special message for the men and women on your staff, many of whom are in the room today, and for the delegates and representatives to this body.
Your efforts are crucial to international safety and security in a world that grows ever more dangerous each day. I know that it often may seem like thankless work – certainly it is often anonymous work.
But believe me when I say that you labor on the frontlines of the 21st century’s greatest conflict – a conflict between the civilized nations of the earth, and the terrorists and terrorist states that would use devastating technologies to destroy them.
Tens of millions of people in New York, Rome, Geneva, Tokyo, Sydney, London, and other spots all over the globe will sleep soundly tonight because people like you and others who work on these challenges are tireless in their efforts. They rest assured that very capable men and women are on the job, thwarting the malignant designs of very bad people.
My government takes your mission very seriously. It is our mission as well. We thank you, and we pledge our determination and resources to help you go about the business of making the world a safer place.
Saying you want to make the world a safer place is simple. The challenge of actually doing that is the hard part. And that challenge is growing increasingly complicated in a world where technology and science make constant advances ... and where terrorists and rogue states look to use these advances for nefarious purposes.
Where one hundred years ago, authorities had to worry about the anarchist placing a bomb in the downtown square … now we must worry about the terrorist who places that bomb in the square, but packed with radiological material.
Whereas once we had to worry about the madman whose ambition, within the realm of possibility, was to assassinate a world leader … now we must worry about the madmen whose ambition is to destroy a world capital.
The recent revelations of the complex network established by A.Q. Khan give startling scope to the nonproliferation challenge we collectively face. Coupled with the horrific attacks of September 11, 2001, Bali, and, most recently, Madrid, we are forced to assume that rogue states and terrorists, in concert with for-profit proliferators, will act vigorously to achieve their ends.
The large quantities of uncontrolled or lightly controlled nuclear and radiological material of potential use in nuclear weapons or radiological dispersion devices have added an entirely new dimension to this worldwide threat. Over 200 of the world’s research reactors are nearing the end of their lifespans. Four hundred reactors have already shut down or been decommissioned, creating large quantities of spent fuel and radiological sources that must be secured and/or disposed of.
Our challenge could not be more clear: As the 21st century takes shape, the stakes are higher. The dangers are increased. The worries are graver. Our challenge is more pronounced.
Commensurately, our resolve must be greater.
The United States already plays a prominent role in responding to these myriad proliferation threats.
Over the course of the last decade, we have developed a number of programs to support the global effort to remove and/or secure vulnerable nuclear and radiological materials:
• To reduce stockpiles and available quantities of nuclear materials, we have been working closely with Russia to irreversibly blend-down at least 500 metric tons of surplus high enriched uranium (HEU). At the end of 2003, over 200 metric tons had been eliminated. • We have accelerated our efforts to secure 600 metric tons of weapons-usable material in Russia. To date, we have upgraded security on over 40 percent of this material. • We are working to further reduce quantities of weapons-usable HEU by converting research reactors in the United States and abroad to use low-enriched uranium (LEU), and we are working to eliminate 174 metric tons of HEU in the United States. • We are also working proactively and cooperatively with Libya, the IAEA, and international partners to dismantle Libya’s weapons of mass destruction infrastructure. • We are coordinating with our counterparts in Moscow to return Russian-origin HEU fuel to Russia. In 2003, in cooperation with the IAEA and with Minatom, we removed 17 kilograms of Russian-origin fresh HEU from Bulgaria and returned it to Russia for safe storage. • We also returned approximately 14 kilograms of fresh Russian-origin HEU from Romania to Russia to be down-blended and used for civil nuclear purposes. And most recently, working with the IAEA, we returned 17 kilograms of HEU from Libya’s research reactor to Russia. • Under the U.S.-Origin spent fuel return program, we have returned approximately 1,100 kilograms of HEU spent fuel to the United States for final disposition. • We are cooperating with approximately 40 countries to improve the security and controls of high-risk radiological materials that could be used in a radiological dispersal device, or “dirty bomb.” • And, we have recovered and secured approximately 10,000 high-risk radiological sources in the United States, a figure that exceeds our congressionally mandated target for recovering and securing our domestic sources.
In addition, last year the United States and the Russian Federation co-hosted an international conference with the IAEA to address the threat posed by dirty bombs, and to come up with a joint course of action.
It was a very successful conference. More than 120 nations participated, and it produced action on a variety of fronts, including:
• Identifying high risk radioactive sources that were not under secure and regulated control, including “orphan” sources. • Launching an international initiative to facilitate the location, recovery, and securing of such sources. • And, calling on all IAEA member states to enhance their own national regulatory bodies to address safety and security of radioactive sources in their countries.
I am proud of our action to deal with RDDs, just as I am proud of all of the efforts I mentioned. The work my Department has done in conjunction with the IAEA and the international community has, to a large degree, been very effective.
But we would be fooling ourselves – and endangering our citizens – to think that these past efforts are enough. The continually shifting nature of geopolitics … the ever-forward advancement of science and technology … the hardened determination of terrorists to sow death and destruction – all of these demand that we continually reassess the situation, that we constantly revisit the topic at hand, and that we incessantly update our defenses and our plans to combat proliferation threats.
That is why I have come to Vienna this week.
As the global proliferation threat continues to evolve, it has become clear that an even more comprehensive and urgently focused effort is needed to respond to emerging and evolving threats.
Although we are accomplishing much, there is more we can do.
So this morning I am announcing that, in order to respond to this evolving proliferation threat, the United States is establishing a new initiative to secure, remove, or dispose of an even broader range of nuclear and radiological materials around the world that are vulnerable to theft.
We are calling this new initiative the Global Threat Reduction Initiative – or GTRI.
This Global Threat Reduction Initiative is an attempt to present a workable strategy for addressing the threat posed by the entire spectrum of nuclear materials. It reflects the realities of the 21st century that were so startlingly made clear on a September morning three years ago.
We have developed this initiative with the expectation it can comprehensively and more thoroughly address the challenges posed by nuclear and radiological materials and related equipment that require attention, anywhere in the world, by ensuring they will not fall into the hands of those with evil intentions.
We will do this by the securing, removing, relocating or disposing of these materials and equipment—whatever the most appropriate circumstance may be—as quickly and expeditiously as possible.
Specifically under the Initiative:
• We will first work in partnership with Russia to repatriate all Russian-origin fresh HEU fuel by the end of next year. We will also work with Russia to accelerate and complete the repatriation of all Russian-origin spent fuel by 2010. We will do this on a priority basis according to security threat, so that we remove or secure the most dangerous materials first. • Likewise, we will take all steps necessary to accelerate and complete the repatriation of all U.S.-origin research reactor spent fuel under our existing program from locations around the world within a decade. Again, we will undertake these efforts in an order dictated by the need to handle the most dangerous, least secure materials first. • Third, we will work to convert the cores of civilian research reactors that use HEU to use low enriched uranium fuel instead. We will do this not just in the United States – where we are scheduled to complete core conversion by 2013 – but throughout the entire world. And we will target those reactors first where the threats and vulnerabilities are highest. • Fourth, we will work to identify other nuclear and radiological materials and related equipment that are not yet covered by existing threat reduction efforts, and we will rapidly address the most vulnerable facilities first, to ensure that there are not any gaps that would enable a terrorist to acquire these materials for evil purposes.
To help do all this, we will establish a single organization within the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration to focus exclusively on these efforts.
Moreover, we are prepared to spend the resources necessary to guarantee success. The United States plans to dedicate more than $450 million to this effort which should be more than sufficient to complete the U.S. Foreign Research Reactor Spent Fuel Return, the Russian Research Reactor Fuel Return efforts and to also fund the conversion of all targeted U.S. and Russian supplied research reactor cores under the Reduced Enrichment for Test Research and Test Reactors (RERTR) program. But we will need more funds – and heightened international cooperation – to finish the job.
Dedicated as we are to this effort, it is also clear to me that a truly effective nonproliferation regime is made up of the collaboration of efforts by all of us, not just a few. This is particularly the case regarding the collection of materials that are not of Russian or American origin, or that may be located in places where cooperation requires a broader international effort, and that pose certain challenges that the United States and Russia cannot address alone.
So today I am also proposing that the IAEA and international community join us in holding a Global Threat Reduction Initiative Partners’ Conference later this Fall. This conference would examine how to address material collection and security in places where – as mentioned before – a broader international effort is required. It would also focus on material collection and security of other proliferation-attractive materials, not of U.S. or Russian origin, such as those located at conversion facilities, reprocessing plants, and industrial sites, as well as the funding of such work.
In the coming weeks, we will be discussing this event in more detail with Director General ElBaradei and the IAEA and I expect we will be issuing invitations very soon.
Consolidating current programs … speeding the return of Russian and U.S. origin fuel … securing the most dangerous materials worldwide to reduce the most perilous threats … working together on an international basis. That is the agenda before us.
We will take these steps because we must. The circumstances of a dangerous world have thrust this responsibility on the shoulders of the civilized world. We don’t have the luxury of sitting back and not taking action.
As President Bush said in a speech at the National Defense University in February: “The greatest threat before humanity today is the possibility of secret and sudden attack with chemical or biological or radiological or nuclear weapons… America, and the entire civilized world, will face this threat for decades to come.”
He is right: We will face this threat for years to come.
Not only will we … we must.
The responsibility falls to us … to take necessary action to prevent the horrors of 9/11 being replayed, but on a nuclear scale. That is why the President has increased attention on this evolving threat and as a result of his February speech we have undertaken this new Initiative.
The responsibility falls to us … to ensure that the civilized world continues to enjoy the peaceful uses of the atom – in medicine, electricity generation, and beyond – while minimizing or eliminating any dangers.
I am optimistic that we can do this.
And because of the resolve shown by President Bush, Director General ElBaradei, Member Nations and the dedicated men and women of the IAEA, I am confident that we will.
6. Turner Responds to Department of Energy Annoucement
Office of Rep. Jim Turner
(for personal use only)
Congressman Jim Turner, Ranking Member of the House Select Committee on Homeland Security, made the following statement following the announcement of the Department of Energy's Global Threat Reduction Initiative.
"The DOE's Global Threat Reduction Initiative is a step in the right direction but as Secretary Abraham noted, more international cooperation and resources are needed to rid the world of materials that would be devastating in the hands of terrorists.
I applaud the announcement of initiatives to "remove and secure vulnerable nuclear and radiological materials." This major concern is something noted in the Winning the War on Terror report which I released in April of this year. That report, and Secretary Abraham, calls attention to the threat we face from these large quantities of uncontrolled or lightly controlled dangerous materials.
I have asked Chairman Cox to call hearings that can help resolve the stumbling blocks that exist in our government when it comes to availability of radiological materials around the world.
We must do all we can to protect the nation from an attack from a source that is becoming more of a concern each day."
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