1. Western Nations Should Buy Russian Tactical Nuclear Weapons to Reduce Proliferation Risk, Experts Say
Global Security Newswire
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WASHINGTON ï¿½ The United States and other Western nations should seek to reduce nuclear proliferation risks by purchasing and disposing of Russian tactical nuclear weapons, according to a paper by two U.S. nuclear weapons experts published in the spring edition of the U.S. Naval War College Review (see GSN, May 27).
Russia possesses anywhere from 3,000 to 20,000 tactical nuclear weapons, which are intended for battlefield use and generally have smaller yields than strategic nuclear weapons, experts say. Citing ongoing security concerns at Russian nuclear weapons storage sites, experts have warned that terrorists seeking to acquire nuclear arms may seek to steal or purchase tactical weapons. The nuclear weapons range from artillery shells to landmines to missile-launched warheads, according to the Council for a Livable World.
To help reduce that proliferation threat, Timothy Miller and Jeffrey Larsen, senior analysts at U.S. defense contractor Science Applications International Corp (SAIC), have proposed that Western nations enter into a ï¿½cash for kilotonsï¿½ agreement with Russia to purchase and dismantle tactical nuclear weapons.
The United States and Russia already have a similar agreement in place with the Megatons to Megawatts effort, which seeks to eliminate 500 metric tons of highly enriched uranium removed from Russian strategic nuclear weapons. 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 (see GSN, June 17).
Miller and Larsenï¿½s proposal calls for both the United States and Russia to fully inform each other about the size and details of their tactical nuclear weapons arsenals, which would probably need to be verified by taking a joint inventory, and to then decide which weapons are in excess of national security needs.
A group of Western nations would then negotiate with Russia the price of each weapon based on a ï¿½per-kiloton-of-warheadï¿½ basis. Miller and Larsen proposed making the NATO-Russia Council responsible for the financial arrangements. The council, acting as an executive committee for the effort, would establish an initial price per unit yield for various classes of weapons, which would serve as the basis for later negotiations for final prices, according to the paper.
While the overall costs of purchasing Russian tactical weapons would probably run into the billions of dollars, such payments could be spread out over a multiyear period, Miller and Larsen wrote, adding that the weapons to be dismantled would have to be transferred immediately. The experts also proposed that Russia could be offered debt forgiveness, instead of money, for each weapon.
In their paper, Miller and Larsen called for ï¿½tight time constraintsï¿½ on the purchase price negotiations. They proposed that the countries involved should set a timetable for negotiations, and if they are not completed under that schedule, the entire process should stop and price penalties be put into effect based on which parties were responsible for the delay.
Once Russian tactical weapons were purchased, according to Miller and Larsen, they would be ï¿½immediatelyï¿½ secured and dismantled. In their paper, the two experts proposed that the International Atomic Energy Agency be given the role of custodian for the purchased weapons and responsibility for operating a facility in Russia to demilitarize the weapons and to blend down any highly enriched uranium they contain.
ï¿½We believe that a neutral third party, one that would not pose a military threat to either side, would enhance mutual confidence in a way that is critical to removing suspicion,ï¿½ Miller and Larsen wrote.
Mary Beth Nikitin of the Center for Strategic and International Studies last week questioned IAEA involvement, noting the success that the United States and Russia have had in bilaterally carrying out the Megatons to Megawatts agreement.
Once converted to low-enriched uranium, the material formerly contained in the purchased weapons could be converted to civilian nuclear power plant fuel and distributed among those countries involved in the project or sold into international nuclear fuel markets, according to Miller and Larsen. To help prevent a glut of new fuel from entering the market, they proposed that the agreementï¿½s executive committee govern the rate of fuel conversion and the sale of fuel.
Other nonproliferation experts were divided on assessing the likelihood of Russia and the United States adopting Miller and Larsenï¿½s proposal. Rose Gottemoeller of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said earlier this week that the proposal would be useful to gain ï¿½momentumï¿½ on tackling the issue of tactical nuclear weapons.
According to Gottemoeller, proposals to purchase Russian tactical weapons stretch back to the late 1980s, but at that time there was little support within the U.S. Congress to fund a direct buyout. However, she added that the successes achieved by the U.S. Cooperative Threat Reduction program, which works to dispose of and secure former Soviet weapons of mass destruction and related materials, might have helped to change the attitudes of U.S. lawmakers.
In Russia, though, the proposal is likely to run into more opposition for a variety of reasons, according to experts. Russia would likely be less interested in direct financial compensation alone in exchange for tactical nuclear weapons due to the improving state of its economy and reduced concerns over the security of its nuclear arsenal, said Mike Jasinski of the University of Georgiaï¿½s Center for International Trade and Security.
In addition, according to Jasinski, Russia views the possibility of a future arms control agreement on tactical nuclear weapons as a ï¿½bargaining chipï¿½ with which to obtain concessions from the United States on other issues, such as missile defense and U.S. plans to study new low-yield nuclear weapons (see GSN, April 22).
ï¿½There is a long list of issues that create as much concern and apprehension in Moscow as the TNW [tactical nuclear weapons] issue does in Washington. Therefore, in my view, any proposal aiming at addressing the Russian TNW issue will also have to do something about alleviating Russian concerns,ï¿½ Jasinski said in a written response to Global Security Newswire.
Russiaï¿½s continued concerns regarding NATO could also prevent any agreement on reducing tactical nuclear weapons, said Nikolai Sokov of the Monterey Institute for International Studiesï¿½ Center for Nonproliferation Studies. He said last week that Russia was unlikely to address the issue until questions of NATOï¿½s future intentions toward Moscow and the current technological and numerical imbalance between Russian forces and those of the alliance were resolved (see GSN, April 7).
ï¿½If Americans are concerned about Russian NSNW [nonstrategic nuclear weapons], why worry? Russian intentions are as benign as those of NATO. I think the relationship as a whole must change if Russia is to change its current stance,ï¿½ Sokov said in a written response to GSN.
Gottemoeller said the Russian military views its tactical nuclear arsenal as the ï¿½ultimate insurance policyï¿½ for its weakened conventional forces. She added, though, that she did not see this as an ï¿½insurmountable barrierï¿½ to reaching a future agreement.
1. RUSSIA INVITES OBSERVERS TO NUCLEAR SECURITY EXERCISES
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Russia will host exercises dealing with security provision at the country's nuclear facilities in August 2004, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said at a press conference in London.
"Russia will host exercises dealing with security provision at nuclear facilities in August, and we invite everyone who wishes [to come], including NATO and the UK as observers," Mr. Ivanov said.
"We pay particular attention to this issue, and are ready to show that the existing myths about Russia's problems on this direction are really myths," said the minister. "I am speaking at least about military facilities."
This year, 34 events are planned on the issue of interoperability in the Russia-NATO framework. This fall, several ships of Russia's Black Sea Fleet will go to the Mediterranean Sea to interact with NATO ships in the framework of retaining the WMD nonproliferation mode.
At the recent G8 summit on Sea Island (Georgia, U.S.), Russia backed Washington's initiative on measures to prevent proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, said the Russian defense minister.
The Russian minister stressed that relations with the UK are developing well in the field of retraining servicemen who pass to the reserve.
"Great Britain renders practical assistance to us in this issue," Mr. Ivanov said. He also noted that about 20,000 Russian servicemen have been retrained for the last few years.
The minister said that during his meeting with the UK Secretary of Defense, "a very frank exchange of opinions on bilateral relations issues took place." The sides also discussed the situation in the world's hot spots.
1. Russia ready to cooperate with UK in non-proliferation
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Russia is ready for ï¿½cooperation with the United Kingdom in the containment of weapons of mass destruction. The uncontrolled spreading of technologies and equipment, which can be used in the production of WMD, goes on, and that threat has become real,ï¿½ Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said in London on Sunday.
He said he would have negotiations with British Defense Secretary Geoffrey Hoon on Monday to discuss WMD, bilateral military cooperation, and the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan.
2. Russia and Germany to build facility to scrap decommissioned Russian nuclear submarines
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Russia and Germany have been successfully implementing their join project to scrap decommissioned Russian nuclear submarines.
The German Ministry of Economics said on Friday that the foundation would be laid in the Saida Bay, Barents Sea, for a storage facility capable of holding about 120 reactors from nuclear submarines.
According to the ministry, the facility covering an area of 5.5 hectares will be used to interim storage of reactors for 70 years.
The construction of the facility, for which Germany will contribute about 300 million euros, is expected to be completed at the end of 2007. But the first reactors can be stored there already this autumn when the first segment of the facility will be commissioned.
Federal Industry Agency deputy director Viktor Kholstov met with a French delegation to discuss joint efforts aimed at disposing of Russia's chemical weapons stockpiles. "The French delegation was led by head of the French Foreign Ministry's department for chemical and biological disarmament Marion Paradas. The meeting addressed the drafting of a Russian-French agreement on cooperation in disposing of Russia's chemical weapons stockpiles," a Russian agency spokesman told Interfax on Friday. The delegations underscored the need for more rapid steps to put this cooperation program into effect. France suggested that it could join a Russian-Swiss agreement on the disposal of chemical weapons before its documents with Russia are signed and ratified. "Russia accepted this proposal with gratitude," the spokesman said. The meeting's agenda also involved France's potential role in setting up an environmental monitoring agency for the Shchuchye chemical weapons disposal facility in the Kurgan region. It is planned to create the agency at the beginning of 2006.
Iraq's national security adviser said Sunday unconventional weapons material might have gone to neighboring states in the war and Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is probably trying to get some.
Mowaffaq al-Rubaie also said the Iraqi interim government had approved the transfer of all radioactive material in its possession to the United States, but said he could not be sure more material was not hidden inside Iraq by Saddam Hussein.
Rubaie did not provide any evidence that unconventional weapons materials had crossed the border, or of attempts by militants to acquire them in Iraq.
U.S. and U.N. officials said Wednesday Washington had transported about 1.8 tonnes of enriched uranium out of Iraq for safekeeping more than a year after looters stole it from a U.N.-sealed facility left unguarded by U.S. troops.
Artillery shells found by Polish troops in Iraq in June contained the deadly nerve agent cyclosarin, the Polish army said last week.
"Just imagine if these weapons of mass destruction or any of these capabilities of making a dirty bomb or a chemical weapon or anything like this, if it falls in the hands of Zarqawi's gangsters and Zarqawi's people and these global terrorists or Saddam's former regime, what will happen?" he said.
"I have no shadow of doubt that..., with his evil mind, he (Zarqawi) will try to acquire these unconventional weapons," he told a news conference.
Zarqawi is Washington's top militant target in Iraq and has offered a $25 million reward for his capture. Zarqawi's group has claimed responsibility for bombings in Iraq and the beheadings of an American and South Korean.
Asked if unconventional weapons material may already be in the hands of Zarqawi or others like him, Rubaie said: "We don't know. We have no intelligence information on that."
But he said "many mistakes" were made in failing to secure sensitive sites after the U.S.-led war that toppled Saddam.
Rubaie said the transfer of about 1.8 tonnes of low enriched uranium and almost 1,000 radioactive sources to the United States involved everything collected in Iraq. But he said he could not be certain Iraq was free of weapons of mass destruction.
"Whether he (Saddam Hussein) has smuggled these through the borders during the conflict of last year, whether he has hidden these weapons of mass destruction... we don't know," he said.
The United States and Britain have failed to uncover any stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, even though the possession of such weapons was one of the reasons cited for launching the March 2003 invasion.
Rubaie said there were indications that some unconventional materials had crossed borders into neighboring states, and said Iraq would seek to have it returned if so.
"There are some indications that these (unconventional materials) have gone that way during the conflict and immediately after the conflict," he said but gave no details.
2. Iraq security chief says fate of WMD materials still a concern
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Iraq's national security advisor warned Sunday that "dangerous materials" that could be used by terrorists in the manufacture of so-called dirty bombs might remain in the country despite the US-led coalition's failure to find any banned weapons.
Muwaffaq al-Rubaie said his interim government had evidence some might already have been smuggled out during the anarchy that followed last year's US-led invasion.
"This is a huge country ... I cannot put my hand on my heart and say that cross my heart, wish to die, that Iraq is free of weapons of mass destruction," Rubaie told reporters.
"We have intelligence information and proof that during the height of the crisis last year and afterwards vehicles carrying suspicious materials crossed the country's borders."
Rubaie declined to detail the nature of the materials or their destination but said the smuggling was made possible by the "security vacuum" in the country following the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime in April last year.
"There have been so many mistakes committed then ... we did not secure these sites immediately, so there is a possibility that it may be in the hands of (enemies of Iraq)."
Rubaie said his government was heartened by the recent removal of 1.7 tonnes of enriched uranium and other radioactive materials and their shipment to an undisclosed location in the United States.
"Could you imagine what catastrophe it would be if Zarqawi gangsters, global terrorists and Saddam loyalists possessed any of these materials?" Rubaie asked.
He was referring to fugitive Jordanian-born Islamist Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi whom the interim government and its coalition backers accuse of masterminding some of the deadliest attacks here in recent months.
Foreign fighters battling Iraq's interim government could have seized materials for weapons of mass destruction during the "security vacuum" after last year's invasion, the country's national security adviser said yesterday.
Declaring that Iraq would be "a country free of weapons of mass destruction", Mouwaffaq al-Rubaie said 1.8 tons of low-enriched uranium and nearly 1,000 radioactive sources had been transferred to the United States to keep them away from terrorists.
But some material might already have been acquired by insurgents after the fall of Saddam Hussein. "There were so many mistakes being committed then, there is a possibility it might already be in their hands," he said.
Mr al-Rubaie singled out Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian-born Islamist, as the biggest threat to Iraq. "The central core of Zarqawi's and al-Qa'eda's strategy and tactics is inflicting massive damage on people just to have a huge psychological impact.
"What could have a bigger or larger psychological impact than using WMD. There is no ceiling for these people . . . with his [Zarqawi's] evil mind, he will try to acquire these unconventional weapons."
He brushed aside intelligence failures over WMD before the Iraq war. "I don't think that this is very important," he said. "Iraq and the Iraqis waited for 35 years to get rid of Saddam and his regime, not only because he owned WMD or was using them against his people, but because of the mass graves, continuous wars, oppression, and economic backwardness and wasting Iraq's riches."
Saddam had undoubtedly possessed such weapons. "We have intelligence information and proof that during the height of the crisis last year and afterwards vehicles carrying suspicious materials crossed the country's borders."
Russian President Vladimir Putin believes that objectively Russia and the U.S. have every opportunity to develop cooperation.
"Relations with the U.S. always need paying attention to," he said at the meeting with ambassadors in the Russian Foreign Ministry.
"We have objective prerequisites for long-term partnership on the basis of due account for one another's interests, constructive dialogue, and predictability," he said.
According to the Russian President, all this is needed in the first place to jointly counter international terrorism, maintain strategic stability, and execute arms control.
According to Putin, "good and confidential relations at a level of leadership of the two countries contribute to close cooperation."
At the same time, he said, "this is not enough for sustained and fully strategic partnership."
"Broader American quarters, including businesses, should be interested in good relations with Russia," Vladimir Putin said.
He also said that the damage inflicted by the EU and NATO enlargement should be minimized.
"The latest wave of EU and NATO enlargement has created a new geopolitical environment on the European continent," he said, "and we must not adapt to it, but rather minimize potential risks and damage to Russia's security and economic interests."
He added, "here we have to find advantages and try to capitalize on them."
According to the Russian President, to that end equal cooperation with the EU and NATO should be developed.
"Development of ties with countries showing real interest in strengthening ties with Russia - I mean Germany, Italy, and France - could be an important element of this policy," the President went on.
However, he noted, the development of new foreign policy areas should not overshadow a need to maintain Russia's standing where plenty of resources have been spent.
"Economically, the Asia Pacific region is the most rapidly developing center," he recalled, "We must closely connect our foreign policies oriented to closer cooperation with the Asia Pacific region to our internal affairs," for example, developing Siberia and the Russian Far East.
According to the Russian President, the nation has great opportunities in relations with China and India.
"On the whole," he said, "we must broaden the perspective of the Russian foreign policy and search for new cooperation opportunities."
As to Russia's standing in regions where plentiful resources had been spent before - Vladimir Putin cited Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Latin America, - he said that it should be maintained if not advanced, "which strongly depends upon the Embassies' initiatives," he said.
According to Putin, "we are remembered and well-known there," and there are good attitudes toward Russia in those regions.
For months if not years, the U.S. has attempted to persuade Russia to stop building a nuclear power plant in Iran. The Russians seemed for a while to be listening, but the project is back on track now. The reactor is scheduled to be finished as early as next year.
That's not good news. Once the fuel that powers that reactor is spent, it can be reprocessed into plutonium, the explosive material in a nuclear bomb. Iran doesn't have a reprocessing plant--at least inspectors don't believe it does--but a crude plant theoretically wouldn't take all that long to build.
Late last month, the International Atomic Energy Agency, which has been in high dudgeon over Iran's continued flagrant lying about its nuclear intentions, seemed to endorse the Russian effort to help Iran build a nuclear power plant at Bushehr. After a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei said Russia's project was not a cause for international concern, and ElBaradei endorsed Russia's plans to insist that Iran return any spent nuclear fuel so that it could not be converted into bomb material.
Problem solved? Hardly. What ElBaradei seemed to overlook is that Iran can't be trusted to return that fuel or abide by the nuclear non-proliferation treaty it has signed.
He shouldn't need much reminding. Only a few days earlier, Iran had broken another promise it made late last year to suspend its uranium enrichment program. It announced that it would resume building the centrifuges that are used to enrich uranium, often for bombs.
ElBaradei decried that setback, urging Iran to reverse its decision. "Iran needs to do the maximum to build confidence after a period of confidence deficit," he said. Confidence deficit?
Try confidence bankruptcy.
The IAEA's mixed message is built into its charter and the nuclear non-proliferation treaty itself. The IAEA is supposed to promote peaceful civilian nuclear power while attempting to limit nuclear weapons to those states that already possess them. What the IAEA should be saying, along with the rest of the world, is: Until Iran agrees to come clean and completely dismantle its nuclear weapons programs, no country in the world should help it in the nuclear arena in any way.
Building a civilian nuclear power plant in Iran is not as dangerous as allowing it to build plants that can enrich uranium or reprocess plutonium. But such a power plant poses significant risks nonetheless. Who's to say that the Iranians won't decide to break the agreement and keep the spent fuel? What's to stop Iran from powering up the plant and then withdrawing from the nuclear treaty? Then they would be free to toss out inspectors, as North Korea did, and start the process of making bomb material from the spent fuel rods of the reactor.
Iran can't be trusted. After years of lying and obfuscation about its programs, that should be apparent. Even the Europeans are starting to understand that the government, which proudly supports terrorists and openly represses the democratic hopes of its people, cannot be trusted to forswear nuclear weapons. "We are seeing a pattern of Iran making promises and then trying to find ways around them," one senior French official told The New York Times. "The Iranians are fighting us trench by trench. They are very clever cheaters."
The world is approaching a confrontation with Iran. Now is not the time to be helping it build a reactor or advance its nuclear ambitions.
2. ALL SET FOR INKING RUSSIAN-IRANIAN AGREEMENT ON RETURN OF WASTED NUCLEAR FUEL
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The Russian-Iranian agreement on return of wasted nuclear fuel may be signed in autumn during the trip to Iran by Alexander Rumyantsev, head of Russia's Federal Nuclear Energy Agency.
"The agreement may be signed during the visit in October-November. I'll hardly go there in summer", Rumyantsev said.
It can be signed "even tomorrow" without technical clauses supplemented, he added.
But, technicalities surrounding the return of wasted nuclear fuel have not yet seen resolved. Such as prices for keeping it in Russia.
"Nothing has actually changed here but differences remain. The procedure for the return of the fuel has not yet been fixed and special containers still have to be developed", Rumyantsev said.
The head of the Federal Nuclear Energy said that the typical price of wasted nuclear fuel is about 1,000 dollars per kilogramme, averaging from 600 to 1,500 dollars.
Asked by RIA Novosti whether, during the visit, he will talk with Iranian representatives the possible building by Russia of the second unit of the Bushehr nuclear power plant (Russian specialists have been building the first light-water reactor in Bushehr in southern Iran since the 1990's. Its physical start-up is slated for late 2005, commercial operation for 2006), Rumyantsev said that experts are only studying the matter.
"Of course, Russia can begin another project in Iran. But the matter still has to be discussed at a high intergovernmental level", he said.
Rumyantsev recalled that the construction of the second Bushehr unit was begun in its time by Germany's Siemens firm (way back in the Shah-ruled Iran before the 1979 victorious Islamic revolution. After it, Germany had to end construction under pressure from the United States, which turned overnight from the main ally of Iran into Foe No I of the Islamic Republic).
"If we do decide on construction, it will be survey work in case it is a new site or study what has been built by Seimens in order to complete the unit. In case of the latter, it will be a long process", he said.
Alexander Rumyantsev voiced the hope that the regular IAEA session in Vienna in 2005 will close the Iranian "nuclear dossier". "The Vienna session of the IAEA may close the "nuclear dossier", as seen from the present favourable situation", he said.
(However critical, the resolution on the Iranian nuclear programmes, adopted in by the IAEA Board of Governors in mid-June, noted Teheran's voluntary decision to end its projects on the enrichment of uranium and reprocession of this fissionable material, as well as IAEA's permission to host verification inspections. The resolution admits that, as a result of Iran's cooperation with the IAEA, international inspectors have gained access to all the nuclear facilities in Iran, including those under the Defence Industry Organisation. Most importantly, the resolution does not contain a clause on passing the Iranian "nuclear dossier" to the UN Security Council for consideration of anti-Iranian sanctions, which Teheran so much feared. Iran's first reaction to the adoption of the resolution was sharply negative. Its authorities even began to talk of ending cooperation with the IAEA and resuming manufacture of parts to laser centrifuges P-2, accused the European troika - Britain, France and Germany - of non-observance of the agreements earlier reached with Iran. Later, passions subsided and Teheran declared continuation of the constructive cooperation with the IAEA.)
3. BUSHEHR NUKE PLANT CONSTRUCTION: RUSSIA GOOD ON ITS WORD
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Russia has scheduled a Unit One physical start-up at the Bushehr nuclear plant for December 2005-as against a previous deadline of this year's end. The unit will offer its first electricity early in 2006, says Alexander Rumyantsev, Russian Nuclear Power Agency head.
The new schedule has been coordinated with the host country, he said to Novosti. The start-up was put off as Iran previously intended its own, if partial, equipment supplies to the plant. Market studies, however, proved that analogues of Russian design and manufacture reduced the costs by 20 per cent, so Russia needed a postponement to produce necessary technologies.
Nothing prevents compliance with the schedule any longer, and nuclear fuel has been stocked up. There is only one more thing to do-sign an agreement on spent fuel return to Russia. It may be signed any day, even tomorrow. The matter has been settled in principle, and only minor technicalities stay under debate-in particular, details of spent fuel certifying and transport, and prices Iran will pay Russia for storage and procession.
As for the prices, Mr. Rumyantsev hopes commercial agents will eventually come to terms, though the matter is now at a standstill. Average spent nuclear fuel prices are keeping within a $600-1,500 corridor a kilogram-a thousand dollars, most frequently.
There is still some time to settle all fuel return intricacies, said our interviewee. He expects the agreement will be signed as he visits Teheran, tentatively, late November or December's start. He will go to Iran, beyond doubt, as Bushehr construction needs his personal supervision.
As to whether Russia will take up Unit Two construction, no talks have started yet on the issue. Several years ago, Iran called all who wished to join its civil-oriented nuclear programme. It aims to generate an annual seven gigawatts within the next ten years, with another six units similar to the Bushehr Unit One. No one has answered the call for today-in-depth market studies are underway, despite all commercial benefits of the idea.
Mr. Rumyantsev confirmed reports of repeated Iranian proposals to Russia to take stock of prospects for its partnership in Unit Two construction. As Russia replied every time, it ought first to come closer to Unit One start-up. It will be wiser to do the job on schedule than disperse attention on tentative contracts.
Russia has every opportunity to start Unit Two construction, he stressed. The matter demands thorough consideration from political, technical and economic points on a bilateral expert arrangement.
The Siemens commenced Unit Two construction years ago. So, if Russia takes up the job, if will have to determine whether to complete the German efforts or start from scratch on a new site. If the latter option is preferred, prospecting will be necessary, which usually takes something like six months. "So you see, the matter demands quite some time," remarked Alexander Rumyantsev.
Be all that as it may, the issue pertains to Russo-Iranian relations. Iran is Party to the nuclear nonproliferation treaty, so there are no limitations on its nuclear plant construction. Even the USA, whose extreme apprehensions of Iranian progress in nuclear power industry are well known, is gradually coming to acknowledge that spent fuel return to Russia is sufficient guarantee.
Mr. Rumyantsev hopes the Iranian nuclear file will be sealed as the IAEA Board of Governors gathers in Vienna, autumn next.
4. IAEA could soon close dossier on Iran: senior Russian official
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The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) could close its dossier on Iran's nuclear program within months, the head of Russia's federal atomic energy agency said Friday. "There is a chance that Iran's dossier could be closed during IAEA's autumn session," Alexander Rumyantsev told reporters in Moscow.
"Iran has opened up and has been cooperating with the agency," he said.
Russia has been pressing Iran to continue to cooperate with inspectors from the United Nation's nuclear watchdog agency, which has been investigating the Islamic state since February 2003 for allegedly hiding a secret weapons program.
In June the IAEA criticized Tehran for being less than forthcoming over its activities.
Russia has faced a barrage of criticism over its construction of Iran's first nuclear power station at Bushehr, especially from the United States and Israel that say Iran can use fuel for the reactor for a covert weapons program.
Moscow and Tehran have for months been negotiating a contract for the return of the plant's spent fuel. Russia has said it will not deliver fuel to Bushehr until the contract is signed.
5. Price negotiations holding up launch of Bushehr: Russian official
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Negotiations over price and logistics are holding up the launch of Iran's first nuclear power plant at Bushehr that Russia is contructing despite international protest, Moscow's top nuclear official said Friday. Alexander Rumyantsev said the 1,000 megawatt plant is now expected to go online in 2006.
Russia says it will not begin delivering fuel to the plant until Moscow and Tehran sign a contract for the return of spent fuel back to Russia.
"The principles of the contract have been decided at all levels," Rumyantsev said.
But the two sides are still negotiating over the price that Teheran will pay for Russia to store that spent fuel and the logistics of how it will be transported back, Rumyantsev said.
The talks over the contract have dragged on for years, prompting speculation that Moscow was yielding to pressure from the United States, which says the Islamic state could use fuel from the plant for a covert nuclear weapons program.
Spent fuel is highly radioactive and in some cases can be recycled for weapons use.
On a visit to Moscow in late June, Mohammed ElBaradei, the chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), gave a thumbs up to Bushehr's construction that he said was "no longer at the center of international concern."
1. Russian ships prepared to join NATO fight against proliferation of WMDs
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Russian warships are prepared to cooperate with NATO in countering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov told a news conference in London on Monday.
"Several ships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, which will be patrolling in the Mediterranean Sea in the fall, are prepared to cooperate with NATO warships in countering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction," he said.
Russia will be involved in 34 NATO events in 2004, Ivanov said.
One of the main causes of the Tu-22M3 bomber's crash was a technical malfunction, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov told reporters.
"Most likely it was a technical malfunction," Sergei Ivanov said.
The long-range Tu-22M3 plane crashed in the Novgorod region (the Northwestern Federal District) on July 8 at about 11:40 p. m., Moscow time. The four members of the crew died. In connection with the accident, the flights of this kind of the aircraft have been terminated. A criminal case has been launched under Article 351-y of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (violation of the rules of flights and of the preparations for them).
The crew of the Tu-22M3 bomber, under the command of the chief of the flights' safety service of the Soletsky air regiment, Major Oleg Tyapkin, was carrying out a training flight of one hour and forty minutes duration. The assignment was successfully accomplished, the plane was already in the area of the airdrome and started a landing approach . When rolling into final some ten kilometres from the aerodrome at the height of 500 metres a non-provided for situation arisen.
After four or five seconds after, the strategic bomber deviated from the course and with a great vertical speed and with a considerable left bank crashed to the ground.
The initial inspection of the place of the accident and the analysis have shown that the crew took the necessary actions to save the plane.
Both flight recorders have been found - one is in a good condition, and the other - in a satisfactory.
The commander of the bomber, a military pilot of the first class, the navigator, also of the first class, and the other two members of the crew were very experienced professionals who had more than a thousand hours of flying time.
2. WILL RUSSIA & UK SIGN SUB SAFETY AGREEMENT? MINISTER HOPEFUL
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Sergei Ivanov, Russia's Defense Minister, hopes his country and Great Britain will sign an agreement on safe submarine navigation outside territorial waters.
Naval affairs are where Russian-UK cooperation is at its closest. There are fine prospects for the agreement, and another one-on wrecked submarine crew rescue. Russia has signed a similar framework agreement with NATO, and is getting over to bilateral documents with the leading NATO countries, the minister said to the media in London, where he is on visit.
Russia and the United Kingdom have a good practical program to retrain retired soldiers for civilian careers. More than 20,000 Russian military officers have got through it since 1995.
As Mr. Ivanov and Geoffrey Hoon, Britain's Secretary of Defense, meet at the negotiation table tomorrow, they will discuss international issues, too-developments in Iraq and Afghanistan, and mass destruction weapon nonproliferation.
Russia is eager to join efforts with the UK on the latter, which is an essential issue-the spread of know-how and equipment with which WMDs can be manufactured has gone out of control, and the dire prospect is looming, said the minister.
4. Flights of Tu-22 bombers suspended following crash
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Following the Thursday night crash of a Tu-22M3 bomber in Novgorod region, flights of this type of warplane have been suspended, Russian air force spokesman Col. Alexander Drobyshevsky told Interfax on Friday. "The flights of Tu-22M3 tactical bombers have been suspended by a decision of air force Commander-in-Chief Vladimir Mikhailov until the causes of the air crash in Novgorod region are clarified," he said. On Friday morning, a commission of the Armed Forces Flight Safety Service led by section chief Col. Sergei Yakimenko flew to the scene, service chief Lt. Gen. Sergei Solntsev told Interfax. He said it is premature to speculate on the causes of the crash. "The commission will thoroughly check all scenarios of this grave accident, as usual," he said. Solntsev accounted the growing accident rate in Russian aviation to an increasing number of flights. "In my opinion, the rise in the accident rate involving warplanes in July stems from a jump in flight intensity, various exercises and preparations for them," he said. Meanwhile, a source on the Defense Ministry commission probing the accident told Interfax that the bomber crew had been ordered to bail out of the aircraft, but for some reason did not do so. "Only the communications of the crew with the flight commander have been deciphered so far, making it clear that when the plane approached its landing, the crew extended the undercarriage and turned on the lights. When the bomber was 14 kilometers away from the runway, the lights went off and the plane started turning. The flight commander ordered the crew to eject, but for reasons so far unknown, the pilots did not fulfill the order," the source said. The plane hit the ground at an angle of about 90 degrees, he said. "The crash resulted in an explosion at a distance of about 10 kilometers from Saltsy airfield," the source said. The commission is considering several possibilities, primarily equipment failure and human error, he said. "However the exact reason for the accident will be established only after the flight recorders, which have already been recovered at the crash scene, are deciphered," the source said. Earlier, Drobyshevsky told Interfax that communications with the plane were lost at 11:40 p.m. Moscow time on Thursday. The search for the aircraft was launched at 11:45 p.m., and it was located, along with the bodies of four crewmen, at 00:30 a.m. on Friday, he said. Drobyshevsky stressed that there were no weapons aboard the bomber.
A Tupolev Tu-22-M-3 Backfire supersonic strategic bomber serving with the Russian Air Force's strategic-air command crashed in the Novgorod region July 8, killing four crew members. This was disclosed to RIA Novosti by Alexander Drobyshevsky, chief of the national Air Force's press center.
According to Drobyshevsky, all radio communications with the plane were lost at 11.40 p.m. Moscow time in the vicinity of Soltsy airfield (Novgorod region, north-western Russia). The Tu-22-M-3 was performing a routine night-time flight.
The aircraft crashed five km from Velebitsy near Soltsy, people at the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry's Novgorod department noted.
The bodies of four dead pilots were also found at the site of the crash, Drobyshevsky noted.
The Tu-22-M-3 was carrying no weapons, Drobyshevsky stressed.
The bomber crashed, after completing its training flight, and while executing a landing approach, RIA Novosti's Defense Ministry source noted. There were no weapons onboard, the source added.
Talking to RIA Novosti, eyewitnesses said that the Tu-22-M-3 had caught fire in mid-air, before ploughing into the ground.
We saw flames engulf the flying plane, they added.
Eyewitnesses also say that they heard a popping sound, while the plane was flying above Khvoinoye; the Tu-22-M-3 then flew on for another 1,000 meters, or so, subsequently crashing in a nearby forest.
The Military Prosecutor's Office is examining several air-crash theories, Igor Lebed, military prosecutor of the Leningrad military district, told correspondents in the morning of July 9.
The Veliky Novgorod - Porkhov air corridor near Soltsy town had been closed pending a subsequent investigation, officials at the State Traffic Police Inspectorate's Novgorod department told RIA Novosti.
Criminal proceedings have been instituted in connection with the Tu-22-M-3 crash in the Novgorod region, RIA Novosti learned at the Chief Military Prosecutor's Office.
According to RIA Novosti's source at the Military Prosecutor's Office, criminal proceedings have been instituted in line with article 351 of the Russian Criminal Code (violating flight regulations and pre-flight regulations).
Investigators are now working at the scene, RIA Novosti's interlocutor noted.
The Tu-22-M-3 bomber's fragments are scattered over an area of one square kilometer, RIA Novosti learned today at the national Emergency Situations Ministry's Novgorod department.
Fire broke out at the scene of the crash.
Three specialized fire engines and their crews helped put out the blaze. According to RIA-Novosti's sources, the fire was extinguished completely by 0.57, Moscow time.
The Tu-22-M-3 is a modified version of the Tu-22-M bomber; Soviet designers started developing the Tu-22-M in 1967. Meanwhile batch production of the Tu-22-M-3 was mastered in 1978.
A prototype Tu-22-M-3 performed its maiden flight June 20, 1977; it was mass-produced by the Kazan aircraft production association over the 1978-1993 period. All in all, 268 Tu-22-M-3-s rolled off the assembly line.
Each Tu-22-M-3 has a maximum ordnance load of 24,000 kg.
This bomber is designed to hit visible targets, radar targets, single targets, area targets, ground and naval targets, as well as moving and stationary targets, by its air-to-surface missiles and free-fall bombs inside the enemy's strategic area of defense any time of the year and also round the clock. The Tu-22-M-3 can operate in adverse weather conditions.
The bomber's onboard equipment features avionics, a radar, an optical/remote-control bomb sight, an automatic control system and a weapons-control system, as well. All these automated components help navigate and control the plane along preset routes and in line with computer programs, also sighting and activating its weaponry.
The Tu-22-M-3's weapons are located inside its fuselage and on external stores, comprising guided air-to-surface cruise missiles, anti-radar cruise missiles, as well as bombs and mines.
A Tu-160 Blackjack supersonic swing-wing strategic bomber crashed September 18, 2003 in the Saratov region's Sovetsky district, also killing four crew members.
6. Thorough investigation of Tu-22M3 bomber crash needed
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It is necessary to conduct a thorough investigation into the catastrophe of the Tu-22M3 bomber in order to establish its true causes, believes Russian Minister for Emergency Situations Sergei Shoigu.
ï¿½Now it is important to understand what was the cause of this catastrophe,ï¿½ Shoigu told journalists on Friday.
ï¿½If it was technical malfunction, the equipment should be refined. If it was a piloting error, more professional personnel should be trained,ï¿½ the minister noted.
ï¿½In any case, it is premature to speak about the causes of the crash yet,ï¿½ he said.
According to Shoigu, ï¿½the investigation cannot be too short, as its mistakes may lead to another such catastrophe.ï¿½
The bomber crashed overnight to Friday 10 kilometres off the Saltsy airdrome.
The press service of the main Military Prosecutor's Office of Russia told Itar-Tass the criminal case has been opened under Article 351 of the Criminal Code (violation of rules of flights and flight preparation).
All flights of this type of aircraft have been suspended until the crash causes are established.
The men who died in the crash of the Tu-22M3 strategic bomber as it was approaching the landing strip of the Saltsy airfield close to midnight on Thursday, were Major Oleg Tyapkin (crew commander), Captain Ilya Laskov (co-pilot), Major Nikolai Tolstov (air navigator) and Captain Alexander Ivanov (navigator-radio operator), an official of the Novgorod region department of the Ministry for Emergency Situations told Itar-Tass.
The official said the bodies of the four crewmembers were being prepared for evacuation from the crash site.
The bomber crashed while performing a planned night flight. All contact with the crew was lost at 23:40 Moscow time on Thursday, July 8 and search-and-rescue aircraft took off at 23:45. Their crews spotted the crash site and the bodies of the bomberï¿½s crewmembers at a distance of 10 km from the Saltsy airfield in the Novgorod Region at 00:30 Moscow time on Friday.
The Tu-22 was the first supersonic bomber put in service with the Soviet Air Force in 1962. In 1974, a decision was made on the further modernization of the plane. After its aerodynamic characteristics were improved and its total weight was reduced, the bomber was named Tu-22M3 and it performed its maiden flight on June 20, 1977. It could carry high-explosive bombs weighing 24 metric tons and guided X-22MA and X-15 missiles.
After 1992, 235 Tu-22M2 and Tu-22M3 bombers remained in service with the Air Force and the Naval Aviation wing. Planes of this type have taken part in combat actions and have been sold to Iraq and Libya.
7. Tu-22MB frontline bomber crashes in Novgorod Region, killing all four crewmembers
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A Tu-22MB frontline bomber has crashed in the Novgorod region, killing the four crewmembers, spokesman for the Air Force press service colonel Alexander Drobyshevsky told ITAR-TASS on Friday morning.
All contact was lost with the bomber at 23:40 Moscow time on Thursday, Colonel Drobyshevsky said. Search and rescue aircraft took off at 23:45. Their crews spotted the wrecked bomber and the bodies of its four crewmembers at 00:30 Moscow time ten kilometres from the Saltsy airfield in the Novgorod region.
ï¿½There were no armaments on board the bomber plane. And there is no sign of destruction on land,ï¿½ the Air Force spokesman said.
The official said the bodies of the four men were being prepared for evacuation from the crash site.
The bomber crashed while performing a planned night flight. All contact with the crew ended at 23:40 Moscow time on Thursday, July 8 and search-and-rescue aircraft took off at 23:45. Their crews spotted the crash site and the bodies of the bomberï¿½s crewmembers at a distance of 10 km from the Saltsy airfield in the Novgorod Region at 00:30 Moscow time on Friday.
The site has been sealed off but the search for the planeï¿½s flight recorders has been suspended until sunrise because of a thick fog. An ad hoc commission of the Defence Ministry formed to look into the circumstances of the accident is expected to arrive soon along with military prosecutors.
The strategic bomber had been in the air for 104 minutes when it crashed at the approach to the runway, hitting the soil at a distance of 10 km from the Saltsy airfield.
According to the official, a thick fog has reduced the visibility range at the site of the accident to less than 20 metres. The rescuers have retrieved the bodies of all four crewmembers but have been unable to spot the flight recorders.
Until the Defence Ministryï¿½s ad hoc commission decodes the recordings, it is too early to speak about the causes of the accident. However, specialists believe that ï¿½the human factorï¿½ is to blame for the crash.
ï¿½It was most likely an error in piloting,ï¿½ a source at the Federal Aviation and Space Search-and-Rescue Directorate told ITAR-TASS.
This supposition is borne out by the fact that the Tu-22MZ crashed while approaching the Saltsy airfield for landing. According to experts, the crews of this type of airplanes encounter great difficulties when steering them to land. The poor visibility from the cabin and a high landing speed of up to 320 km an hour require top-notch piloting skills and have repeatedly caused incidents at landing.
Another defect of the plane is that in an emergency situation the crew seats are propelled not upwards but downwards, which rules out the possibility of a safe escape from the bomber at a low altitude.
Spokesman for the Air Force press service Colonel Alexander Drobyshevsky told ITAR-TASS that the ill-fated bomber had been on a regular night flight without armaments on board.
It was the second recent loss of a strategic bomber of the Russian Air Force and the crews. The previous crash happened on September 18, 2003, when a strategic missile-carrying Tu-160 fell near the Stepnoye locality in the Saratov Region.
The commission that investigated that accident admitted that the crash had been caused by technical factors, not human error. Consequently, the crewmembers who had done their best to save the craft in the most dramatic circumstances were later awarded high state distinction.
However, eleven flight incidents in the units of the Air Force of the Russian Federation in summer and autumn of 2003 were caused by ï¿½human errorï¿½ and could by no means be attributed to the tear-and-wear of the hardware, the Commander in Chief of the Russian Air Force, Colonel-General Vladimir Mikhailov told reporters in January 2004.
Bearing in mind last yearï¿½s grievous experience, the Air Force Command plans to pay special attention to the technical training of the pilots and flight commanders, who ï¿½in critical situations did not always act in the best way,ï¿½ Mikhailov said at that time.
1. IAEA invites Armenia to build new nuclear plant
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The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has developed two plans for advancing Armenia's energy sector through 2020, one of which includes building a new nuclear power station, chief of the Armenian nuclear oversight authorities Ashot Martirosian told Interfax.
He said Armenia hopes to build either a new nuclear plant or develop other generating capacities.
He said the IAEA believes a nuclear station would be preferable from the environmental point of view because thermal stations, which are considered the main alternative to a nuclear facility, would increase carbon dioxide emissions.
Martirosian said that since 1994 the IAEA has been helping Armenia improve safety at its nuclear plant.
2. Nuclear officials talk about what isnï¿½t there
Rashid Alimov, Bellona
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Speaking to the July 5th ï¿½ 8th St. Petersburg conference, entitled ï¿½The System of State Accounting and Control of Radioactive Material and Waste,ï¿½ Sergei Lukovnikov, deputy director for the Northern European Inter-regional Department of the Federal Service for Nuclear Oversightï¿½known in is Russian abbreviation as FSANï¿½frankly contradicted the name of the conference, stating that ï¿½a state system of accounting for radioactive materials and radioactive waste has not factually been created in any full sense.ï¿½ FSAN used to be Gosatomnadzor, or GAN, but was rearranged in a government reshuffle in March enacted by President Vladimir Putin.
Lukovnikovï¿½s assertion also directly contradicted opening statements by Alexander Agapov who heads the Department of Nuclear and Radiation Safety at the Federal Atomic Energy Agencyï¿½formerly Ministry of Atomic Energy, or Minatom until the same March reshuffle. Agapov said during his introductory statements on July 5th that all radioactive material and waste in Russia were under full control.
The announcement was somewhat of a slap in the face to the former Minatom from the former GAN, who have a history of rivalry over who gets to oversee what sector of Russiaï¿½s vast nuclear industry. In this case, it is more likely that FSAN has more concrete knowledge about the controls and accounting systems that areï¿½and are notï¿½in place for radioactive waste.
In accordance with governmental decree No. 1298 from October 1997, such an accounting and control system should have been in place more than three years ago, beginning January 1, 2001.
No System This decree endowed the executive power structures of the subjects of the Russian Federationï¿½the official name for Russiaï¿½s regions, all of which are endowed with local governmentsï¿½with the authority to account for and control radioactive materials and waste within their respective jurisdictions. Russia is divided into 88 subjects of the federation and fully 85 of these have radioactively dangerous installations. As per the decree, these regions were to have created regional informational and analytical centersï¿½or RIATs in their Russian abbreviationï¿½to deal with local radioactive waste problems.
Firms, institutes and other structures dealing with the production, use or burial of radioactive waste and materials were then, under the decree, to report on a regular basis to these RIATs organizations, or analytical centers. From there, the information was to go to Minatom and to officials in the executive structures of the subjects of the Federation, who were to be ultimately responsible for any political decisions.
Lukovnikov told the conference, however, that of 85 subjects of the Federation that have radioactively hazardous installations on their territory, 42, or fully half, have not created a RIATs, and that four subjects have created them but they are non-functional. RIATs are therefore functioning in only 39ï¿½or 45 percentï¿½of Russiaï¿½s subjects.
These data from FSANï¿½which maintains supervision over compliance with Russian legislation relative to the handling of radioactive materials and waste by organizations of various levels throughout the countryï¿½were obtained by a GAN study conducted from 2002 through 2003.
Lukovnikov underscored that his data differed strongly from the FAEAï¿½s but said the reason for that was a more accurate system of evaluation on FSANï¿½s behalf. The RIATs system, after all, was envisioned as reporting to Minatom.
ï¿½We consider that the RIATs system is created and functions only if there are corresponding decisions from the executive authorities and RIATs work is financed,ï¿½ Lukovnikov said.
Lukovnikovï¿½s statement officially acknowledged that there is a problem in obtaining information about the availability, production, accrual and transfer of radioactive materials and radionuclide sources. It also acknowledged that there is little information about radioactive waste, the accrual of radionuclides within the environment, and territorial contamination caused by them. After allï¿½as Lukovnikov not so subtilely hintedï¿½the compilation of such information is the responsibility of the RIATs system.
During a question and answer period during the conference, a representative of the Perm RIATs asked what percent of RIATs facilities were financed on a sustainable basis.
Lukovnikov said: ï¿½It is hard for me to say anything because it seems to me that it is not distinctly defined who pays for what.ï¿½
ï¿½An inventory of the state system of radioactive waste and materials accounting and control has been undertaken at only 60 percent of the organizations possessing radioactive waste and materials,ï¿½ he added.
He went on to criticize the minimal understanding that executive authorities in Russiaï¿½s subjects possess of guaranteeing their populationsï¿½ safety from radiation hazards, and said that the RIATs system must not only to count and monitor sources of radioactivity, but to furnish executive powers with information necessary for them to make educated administrative decisions in the event of an emergency situation
ï¿½In all actuality, this part of the system doesnï¿½t work,ï¿½ Lukovnikov said. He added the suggestion that the FAEA and FSAN could jointly conduct training courses for regional leaders throughout Russia in order that they better understand the principles of government control over radioactive materials and waste.
As an example of how misinformed local bureaucrats can be about the RIATs system, Lukovnikov recounted how he was contacted by the executive authorities in Kalinigrad region, who proposed that the Northern European Administration of FSAN act as Kaliningradï¿½s RIATs and then asked how much such a service would cost.
ï¿½And what, you refused?ï¿½ retorted Agapov with a wink.
New norms? Lukovnikov said that FSAN had worked out a number of addenda in existing normative acts, as well as new forms of accountability for organizations dealing with radioactive waste and materials, which he presented at the seminar.
ï¿½This doesnï¿½t concern nuclear materials, but it does concern spent nuclear fuel because this is, in fact, a variant of radioactive waste,ï¿½ Lukovnikov said.
Actually, what Lukovnikov presented varies with what is outlined in the Ministry of Healthï¿½s ï¿½Fundamental Sanitary Rules of Maintaining Radiation Safetyï¿½ï¿½or OSPORB in its Russian abbreviationï¿½which provide for accountability and safety regulations. This caused visible confusion among regional delegates and one shouted ï¿½in what form are we to account [to authorities] now?ï¿½
Agapov was once again at the ready with a wry retort, saying, ï¿½Gosatomnadzor is great, and therefore should not be confuse with OSPORB,ï¿½ The delegates, still without an answer, whispered among themselves.
What, finally, are trying to build? ï¿½We understand that legislation, to well-known degree, is overabundant with regard to not very dangerous materials,ï¿½ said Agapov, adding that this situation must be reviewed.
Sparring with Agapov, Lukovnikov said: ï¿½As a specialist, I still donï¿½t understand what we are trying to build, finally. Alexander Mikhailovich [Agapov] thinks that while accounting [for materials] we should cut out the small change and only pay attention to the big stuff.ï¿½
ï¿½Has anyone in the course of creating the system of accounting for radioactive waste and material evaluated the potential harm from the absence of this system and it worth? We have to decide whether we base our judgement on the tangibale money allocated for this system or on the harm that, as we well know, can be inflicted ï¿½ Lukovnikov added.
Illegal trafficking When asked the volume of radioactive materials estimated to be involved in illegal trade, and whether the Minatom RIATs system could estimate that volume, Agapov responded categorically that no illegal trade in radioactive materials exists in Russia.
He was supported by his colleague, the head of the FAEA training centre in St. Petersburg, Yury Lisnenko.
ï¿½From 1997 to 2001, control was lost over 50 sources, 38 were recovered. Real losses were only 12,ï¿½ said Lisnenko.
RTGs Some 1000 radioisotopic thermoelectric generators, or RTGs, are located in Russia, the majority of which are used as power generators for lighthouses. Every RTG in Russia has exceeded its engineered life-span and the must be decommissioned.
Meanwhile, data from the Yakutia Administration alone, and relative only to the northern shipping route, indicates that the region has lost control over 25 radioactive generatorsï¿½so called RTGs. Each of these RTGs contain at minimum 40,000 curies of strontium-90.
ï¿½Control over sources of ionizing radiation is lost far more frequently,ï¿½ said Bellonaï¿½s Sergei Kharitonov. ï¿½This concerns both control over the state of these source, and the control of their movement from place to place as well And the loss of any type of control is dangerous.ï¿½
Vladimir Kuznetsov, a former inspector with GAN who presently works with the Russian branch of the environmental organization Green Cross said: ï¿½On average, they lose and find 10 [radiation] sources a year.But as for the radioactive waste, this information is inaccessible."
Russia has given up plans to bury radioactive waste in Novaya Zemlya, said Alexander Agapov, chief of the nuclear and radiation safety department at the Federal Nuclear Energy Agency (FNEA), speaking at the All-Russia seminar "State Accounting and Control of Radioactive Substances and Radioactive Waste" held in St. Petersburg.
The projects for building repositories for solid radioactive waste in permafrost "have been rejected for reasons of security and reliability," the FNEA spokesman specified. As an alternative to Novaya Zemlya, a few experimental sites are considered at present, he said.
2. CHERNOBYL NUCLEAR POWER PLANT TO GET NEW SARCOPHAGUS, SOME DAY
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The Ukrainian cabinet of ministers has approved the design of a new cover, Sarcophagus, for the Chernobyl nuclear power station, the cabinet's press service told the Novosti-Ukraine news agency.
The new confinement will turn the sarcophagus into an environmentally safe system, "minding the removal of the remains of nuclear fuel and fuel-containing materials, doing radioactive waste-management work and dismantling (or strengthening) the unstable structures", the design reads.
The confinement will consist of an arched cover 108 metres in height, 150 metres in width at 257-metre spans.
Inside and outside, the structure will enable maintenance of the confinement structure and conversion of the sarcophagus into an environmentally safe system.
It will have hoisting and conveyance mechanisms, life-support and monitoring systems, transport containers for contaminated building refuse and equipment.
The feasibility report of the confinement has been developed by the international consortium of Bechtel and Battelle (the United States), EDF (France) with the involvement of the Kiev-based Research and Development Institute Energoproekt, Scientific-Technical Centre Sarcophagus of the National Academy of Sciences.
The sarcophagus was built in 1986 above the destroyed fourth unit of the Chernobyl station. Its goal was to prevent the spread of radioactive dust.
Today, the sarcophagus is unstable. Scientists and specialists know nothing of what is going on inside and the state of the almost 200 tonnes of the nuclear fuel inside the power unit. Its technical condition has worsened - cracks have appeared in the walls and the ceiling somewhat sagged. Experts warn that a collapse may bring about even worse effects than the April 26, 1986 accident.
To make the sarcophagus environmentally safe a new sarcophagus, No 2, has been designed. It will be erected near the fourth unit and then placed above it. Its service life will be 100 years.
The project will cost 758 million dollars. It will be financed by the International Chernobyl Fund Sarcophagus (708 million dollars) and the Ukrainian government (50 million dollars).
Building of the new sarcophagus is expected to begin in April 2006 after stabilising the structures of the old one.
Assembly of the new sarcophagus is planned to begin in February 2008.
3. EU wants Armenia to close its nuclear power plant
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The European Union is planning to collect funds to close the Armenian nuclear power plant, Janez Potocnik, a junior EU commissioner working with Enlargement Commissioner Guenter Verheugen, declared at a briefing in Yerevan, Armenia. According to him, the EU is ready to allocate up to EUR100m for this purpose and attract its partners to this project, the ARKA news agency reported.
The closing of the nuclear facility is necessary for technological and seismic safety reasons, the commissioner specified noting that Bulgaria and Baltic states also faced such problems.
At the same time, Potocnik admitted that this was a pretty complicated process, since new sources of energy were to be found. According to Armenian experts, some EUR1bn is necessary to create other energy generating facilities that would replace the capacity of the Armenian nuclear power plant.
The facility was put into operation in January 1980. Due to some political circumstances it was closed in 1989. A second rector of the plant resumed generating energy in 1995. The capacity of each reactor is 407.5 megawatts. Experts believe that the power plant can operate until 2018.
Financial flows of the Armenian nuclear power plant are managed by Inter RAO UES, which is a subsidiary of RAO UES (60 percent) and Rosenergoatom (40 percent).
1. Concerning 120th Anniversary of Trade and Friendship Treaty Between Russia and Korea
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
(for personal use only)
On July 8, at the Center of History of the Russian Diplomatic Service, on the occasion of the 120th anniversary of the Trade and Friendship Treaty between Russia and Korea an exhibition of archival documents was organized and the presentation was held of a collection documents and materials "Russia and Korea. Some Pages of History (The End of the Nineteenth Century)," prepared by the Historico-Documentary Department, the Archives of Foreign Policy of the Russian Empire and the MGIMO (U) of the MFA of Russia.
Speaking at the opening ceremony for the exhibition, the Russian Foreign Ministry's Ambassador at Large, Alexander Alexeyev, and the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Moscow, Chon Tae Ick, noted the importance of the traditions of good-neighborliness and cooperation for the further development of the forward-looking relations between our countries.
2. Russian MFA Information and Press Department Commentary Regarding a Russian Media Question Concerning Reports About the Moving by Americans of Nuclear Material Out of Iraq
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
(for personal use only)
Question: Please comment on reports about the Americans' removal of nuclear material from Iraq.
Commentary: We have taken note of the fact that on June 23 the United States took from Iraq about 1.8 tons of low-enriched uranium and around 1,000 radioactive items that it had secured from the nuclear material storage facility near the complex at Tuwaitha. It explained this move by, among other things, the necessity of ensuring the safety of those materials, which to do in the present circumstances directly in Iraq, in its view, is difficult. Of course, this aspect has also to be taken into account.
Of the withdrawal the Americans informed the IAEA, about which, in its turn, the Agency reported to the United Nations Security Council.
We presume that at present these materials are under the jurisdiction and control of the United States. Accordingly the US bears the full responsibility for their accounting and safety. These materials will have to be taken into consideration in summing up the material balance of the "nuclear dossier" of Iraq, when the UN Security Council returns to considering this question.
3. U.S. Supports Libya, Albania Bids for Weapon Deadline Extensions ï¿½ Change also sought in deadline for converting chemical facilities
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The United States supports requests by Libya and Albania to extend deadlines for destroying chemical weapon stockpiles, says U.S. Ambassador Erik Javits.
Speaking June 29 before the Executive Council of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Javits said the council had previously granted similar extensions and that the deadlines involved were intermediate ones. Both countries must still meet the Chemical Weapons Convention's (CWC) final deadline of April 29, 2007.
Javits also offered U.S. support for Libya's request to convert its Rabta chemical weapons production facility to peaceful purposes, even though the CWC's deadline for completing such work expired more than a year ago.
Libya says it wants to use the facility to produce low-cost pharmaceuticals to treat HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis throughout Africa and the developing world. Javits said the United States supports this conversion on both ethical and humanitarian grounds.
"If the [conversion] deadline is not modified, or left unaddressed," Javits said, "this could serve as a disincentive for some non-state parties to accede to the Convention."
He indicated the United States, Britain, Italy and other nations would submit a joint proposal by mid-July that would allow this change and that would apply not only to Libya but to all future acceding states.
Concerning efforts to make the CWC universally subscribed to, Javits noted "with satisfaction" the recent accession of Rwanda, the Marshall Islands, and St. Kitts and Nevis to the convention, and said he was encouraged by recent universality conferences in Ethiopia and Malta.
"We look forward to welcoming others as States Parties, including Iraq, now that sovereignty has been restored," Javits said.
Two other items on the U.S. agenda, according to Javits, are the financial and administrative reform of OPCW and the exploration of efficient ways to transparently verify destruction of chemical weapons.
Javits also called on OPCW's Secretariat to "vigorously pursue a solution to the problem of late submission of declarations" by treaty governments listing the activities they have completed within the Convention's timelines. Only 22 percent has submitted the annual declaration for 2003.
The United States praised the unanimous passage, earlier this year, of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1540, as "an important affirmation of the work being done in the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons," he said.
The mandate of the OPCW is to ensure that the CWC works effectively and achieves its purpose of eliminating the production, stockpiling, transfer or use of toxic chemicals as weapons. UNSCR 1540 requires all members of the United Nations to "enact effective export and trans-shipment controls, criminalize the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and secure all related materials within their borders," according to Javits.
The OPCW Article VII Action Plan, he said, calls for parties to the convention to fully implement their obligations under the CWC by enacting domestic legislation and establishing a national authority. Javits termed the plan "an important element that addresses the proliferation threat," and remarked that it is consistent with the goals of UNSCR 1540.
"The fundamental objective," he said, "is to keep weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery out of the hands of terrorists and rogue regimes."
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