1. US helps Uzbekistan fight spread of bio weapons
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The United States has boosted financing to help Uzbekistan fight the threat of the spread of biological weapons still stored in the Central Asian region, a senior Uzbek official said Thursday.
The Uzbek announcement came after a visit here by the US chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Richard Myers, as Washington continues to press on with a campaign to secure and destroy weapons of mass destruction in struggling ex-Soviet states.
Myers "informed us of the decision to increase the financing of joint projects by 21 million dollars," Uzbek Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Norov said after meeting the US general.
The latest allocation supplements 39 million dollars (31 million euros) that Washington earmarked for joint projects with Uzbekistan in 2001 aimed at preventing proliferation of biological weapons, Norov told journalists.
Among other things the money will be used to develop a system for monitoring infectious diseases, Norov said.
The allocation comes despite an announcement by Washington in July that it was freezing direct aid to this controversial ally due to a lack of political reform by the hardline leadership of Uzbek President Islam Karimov.
Previous non-proliferation projects between the United States and Uzbekistan have included cleaning up a Soviet-era biological weapons facility on an island in the Aral Sea that is split by the Uzbek-Kazakh border.
If a 10-kiloton nuclear weapon, a midget even smaller than the one that destroyed Hiroshima, exploded in Times Square, the fireball would reach tens of millions of degrees Fahrenheit.
It would vaporize or destroy the theater district, Madison Square Garden, the Empire State Building, Grand Central Terminal and Carnegie Hall (along with me and my building). The blast would partly destroy a much larger area, including the United Nations. On a weekday some 500,000 people would be killed.
Could this happen?
Unfortunately, it could - and many experts believe that such an attack, somewhere, is likely. The Aspen Strategy Group, a bipartisan assortment of policy mavens, focused on nuclear risks at its annual meeting here last week, and the consensus was twofold: the danger of nuclear terrorism is much greater than the public believes, and our government hasn't done nearly enough to reduce it.
Graham Allison, a Harvard professor whose terrifying new book, "Nuclear Terrorism," offers the example cited above, notes that he did not pluck it from thin air. He writes that on Oct. 11, 2001, exactly a month after 9/11, aides told President Bush that a C.I.A. source code-named Dragonfire had reported that Al Qaeda had obtained a 10-kiloton nuclear weapon and smuggled it into New York City.
The C.I.A. found the report plausible. The weapon had supposedly been stolen from Russia, which indeed has many 10-kiloton weapons. Russia is reported to have lost some of its nuclear materials, and Al Qaeda has mounted a determined effort to get or make such a weapon. And the C.I.A. had picked up Al Qaeda chatter about an "American Hiroshima."
President Bush dispatched nuclear experts to New York to search for the weapon and sent Dick Cheney and other officials out of town to ensure the continuity of government in case a weapon exploded in Washington instead. But to avoid panic, the White House told no one in New York City, not even Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Dragonfire's report was wrong, but similar reports - that Al Qaeda has its hands on a nuclear weapon from the former Soviet Union - have regularly surfaced in the intelligence community, even though such a report has never been confirmed. We do know several troubling things: Al Qaeda negotiated for a $1.5 million purchase of uranium (apparently of South African origin) from a retired Sudanese cabinet minister; its envoys traveled repeatedly to Central Asia to buy weapons-grade nuclear materials; and Osama bin Laden's top deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, boasted, "We sent our people to Moscow, to Tashkent, to other Central Asian states, and they negotiated, and we purchased some suitcase [nuclear] bombs."
Professor Allison offers a standing bet at 51-to-49 odds that, barring radical new antiproliferation steps, a terrorist nuclear strike will occur somewhere in the world in the next 10 years. So I took his bet. If there is no such nuclear attack by August 2014, he owes me $5.10. If there is an attack, I owe him $4.90.
I took the bet because I don't think the odds of nuclear terror are quite as great as he does. If I were guessing wildly, I would say a 20 percent risk over 10 years. In any case, if I lose the bet, then I'll probably be vaporized and won't have much use for money.
Unfortunately, plenty of smart people think I've made a bad bet. William Perry, the former secretary of defense, says there is an even chance of a nuclear terror strike within this decade - that is, in the next six years.
"We're racing toward unprecedented catastrophe," Mr. Perry warns. "This is preventable, but we're not doing the things that could prevent it."
That is what I find baffling: an utter failure of the political process. The Bush administration responded aggressively on military fronts after 9/11, and in November 2003, Mr. Bush observed, "The greatest threat of our age is nuclear, chemical or biological weapons in the hands of terrorists, and the dictators who aid them." But the White House has insisted on tackling the most peripheral elements of the W.M.D. threat, like Iraq, while largely ignoring the central threat, nuclear proliferation. The upshot is that the risk that a nuclear explosion will devastate an American city is greater now than it was during the cold war, and it's growing.
In my next column, I'll explain how we can reduce the risk of an American Hiroshima.
The radiation experts arrived at Viktor Avram's auto repair shop last month, appearing beside the wall separating the shop from an enormous factory next door. The men warned Avram to take care where he strolled.
"They told me I could walk on the road," he recalled, nodding toward a dirt track that descends to the Moscow River. "But they said I should stay to the left. To the right is radiation."
Avram works beside a disquieting legacy of the early years of the nuclear arms race, a large radioactive waste site inside a city of 11 million people.
In the territory of the Soviet Union the work of finding and recovering radioactive waste does not go on solely near the plutonium-producing reactors in Siberia or the Urals and on the test range in Kazakhstan where Moscow's first atomic bomb was detonated in 1949.
It also proceeds in the midst of daily life in Moscow - near offices, factories, train stations, highways and homes.
It is a result of the peculiar history of a rushed Soviet effort to tease secrets from the atom. Every country with atomic programs has been left with the difficult task of recovering the byproducts and waste. But the Soviet Union, under orders from Stalin, undertook extensive nuclear research in its most populated and central place, its capital.
"The program of creating the nuclear bomb, the atom bomb, started in Moscow," said Sergei Dmitriyev, general director of the Moscow region's branch of Radon, an arm of the Russian government charged with locating, retrieving and securing radiological waste.
Radon works to undo the consequences of an incautious time, when researchers, working in totalitarian secrecy and with only an incomplete understanding of radiation's dangers, built a network of institutes and factories with little planning for dealing with the discarded material. These sites left behind all manner of radiation-emitting waste; more than 1,200 abandoned sources have been retrieved in Moscow over the years, according to Alexander Barinov, chief engineer of Radon's Moscow branch.
Moscow's own development made matters worse. Some radioactive material piled up at factories or laboratories. Much was hastily dumped in forests that, at the time, were outside the city limits. Then Moscow grew, overtaking its outskirts and sending down roots into illicit radioactive dumps.
"Eventually, housing and offices were started in these areas," Dmitriyev said.
Radon, a network of more than a dozen regional waste storage centers throughout Russia, began its work in 1961, after nearly two decades' worth of waste had been abandoned. Work became more intensive after the explosion in 1986 at Chernobyl, when the Soviet Union ordered Radon to survey population centers and search for waste. A map of work completed shows recoveries throughout the city, from Moscow's inner ring near the Kremlin to subway stops and residential areas at its edge.
Barinov said Radon recovers and stores only low- and medium-level radioactive waste. As the materials are not fissile, they are incapable of the reaction leading to a nuclear explosion. Their danger lies in emission of radiation.
Radon says much of the material has posed probable health risks, and its retrieval is essential, both to reduce these risks and to ensure that radioactive waste will not be used in terror attacks. Its officials note that the medium-level sources are sometimes sufficient for "dirty bombs," which use conventional explosives to disperse radioactive materials.
Since 1996, Radon has also been required by law to monitor new construction sites, in case workers unearth long-forgotten waste. And it retrieves unwanted sources from hospitals, institutes, factories and the city's nine nuclear research reactors, while working on several old waste sites where cleanup is incomplete, its officials say.
Once material is recovered, it is trucked to a dump about 80 kilometers, or 50 miles, northeast of the city, near Sergeiv Posad. Some of the waste is burned in intense heat and converted to black obsidian-like blocks, and the ashes are mixed with cement. All is entombed beneath cement, clay and soil, to keep the radioactivity from spreading.
Part of the work receives support from the United States, which regards the collaboration as an important area of security cooperation. "They've got a just daunting task," Paul Longsworth, deputy administrator for the National Nuclear Security Administration, a semiautonomous agency in the Department of Energy, said on a recent visit to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.
Excavation of contaminated soil and the retrieval of other waste continues at several sites in Moscow, including the Kurchatov Institute, a nuclear research center that had its genesis in the Stalin era, when its grounds were beside an artillery range in the forest. Now it is well within the boundaries of the city.
Another active site is the Plant of Polymetals in southwestern Moscow, beside Avram's garage.
Last fall, an entire building on the plant's grounds was dismantled, carted away and entombed at Radon's dump. An extensive area of contaminated soil remains, Radon says.
American officials noted that although Stalin's legacy is atypical, with so much abandoned waste in a national capital, the broader problem of Russia's radiological inheritance is not unique.
The other side of the arms race at times also conducted work in cities. In 1942, for example, before the U.S. government decided that nuclear tests should be conducted far from population centers, the world's first manmade nuclear reaction was made on a squash court at the University of Chicago.
On average, the Department of Energy recovers three unwanted, high-risk radiological sources every week in the United States, McGinnis said, and not only from isolated sites. He noted that four sources of strontium-90 were recovered inside Houston earlier this year on the day the city was host to the Super Bowl.
Still, the problem of urban radiation in Moscow is of an entirely different order, sometimes forcing residents to evaluate the safety of where they live or work. Avram, for his part, takes an accommodating view.
Shirtless and streaked with grease, he said he was not especially worried about the radiation near his garage. "I'm from Moldova and I drink Moldovan wine," he said. "It cleans everything. Radiation doesn't hurt me."
Moscow will raise its concern over Washington's plans to upgrade an early warning radar in Greenland during a meeting between Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov and U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in St. Petersburg over the weekend, the military said Thursday.
"Russia can't help being concerned" about the powerful radar, which is part of the United States' nascent National Missile Defense System, and its plans to deploy missile defense equipment in Eastern Europe, a Defense Ministry official said, Interfax reported.
"These actions directly affect Russia's security interests," said the official, who was not identified.
The United States signed an agreement on Aug. 6 with Denmark and Greenland to upgrade the radar at Thule to play a key role in the missile defense shield.
The Foreign Ministry on Monday criticized the upgrade, arguing that the location of the radar proves that it will be mostly monitoring Russian intercontinental ballistic missile launches.
The White House insists that its planned defense shield is primarily geared toward detecting and intercepting accidental ballistic missile launches and launches by rogue states.
Rumsfeld arrives in St. Petersburg on Friday evening for a three-day visit, according to the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.
In addition to missile defense, Ivanov and Rumsfeld are also to discuss Iraq and Afghanistan and sign an agreement outlining exchanges between Russian and U.S. military delegations for 2005 and other cooperation activities, Interfax reported.
Rumsfeld, on a visit to U.S. allies in Central Asia and the Caucasus region, thanked Azeri President Ilham Aliyev on Thursday for his country's support in the war on terrorism, The Associated Press reported. Azeri Defense Minister Safar Abiyev assured Rumsfeld that his country is committed to keeping 150 soldiers in Iraq.
2. Russian government approves agreements with US on uranium supplies
The Russia Journal
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The Russian government has approved an agreement between the Russian Techsnabexport company and US-based Exelon Generation Company and Constellation Generation Group, the press department of the Russian government reported.
The three companies signed the agreement on March 31, 2004. Under the agreement, Russian companies are to deliver low-enriched uranium to the US within the framework of the intergovernmental agreement regarding the utilization of highly enriched uranium extracted from nuclear weapons (the HEU-LEU agreement). The Russian Foreign Ministry has been entitled to inform the US Department of State on the approval of the mentioned above agreements.
According to bilateral agreements, Russia depletes nuclear warhead uranium and delivers LEU to the US, which uses it as fuel for nuclear power stations.
1. Russia completes fuel deliveries in full for Chinese NPP
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Russia has already delivered nuclear fuel in full for the first generating block of China's Tianwan nuclear power plant, Vice President of Tvel Corporation Anton Badenkov told Interfax.
"All contract obligations which were signed with China in 1997 are being fulfilled," he said.
"Some 160 fuel elements have been sent to China for the first loading of the generating unit," Tvel said. The company also said "nuclear fuel for the second generating unit of the Tianwan plant is expected to be sent by the end of this year."
"It is clear that the station will be physically launched by the end of the year. This was confirmed by the Chinese. The station will be completely launched next year, as planned," Head of Russia's Federal Nuclear Power Agency Alexander Rumyantsev said.
Experts said the cost of building one generating unit of the station would be some $1 billion.
Russia's former Atomic Energy Ministry said earlier that spent nuclear fuel was planned to be stored in China.
Tvel is one of the world leaders in producing nuclear fuel. It has a 17% share of the world market of nuclear fuel supplies.
2. RUSSIA, CHINA INTEND TO COOPERATE IN NUCLEAR ENERGY SPHERE
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Russia and China have confirmed their intention to actively cooperate in the sphere of peaceful uses of nuclear energy, RIA Novosti was told on Thursday in the Federal Nuclear Energy Agency after the session of the Russian-Chinese sub-commission on nuclear issues in the framework of the commission on the preparation of regular meetings of the two countries' governments that took place in China.
The Russian delegation is headed by Federal Nuclear Energy Agency chief Alexander Rumyantsev, the Chinese by Chairman of the Commission of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense Zhang Yunchuan.
An agency official said the session touched upon the results of Russian-Chinese cooperation in the sphere of peaceful uses of nuclear energy for last year.
"Alexander Rumyantsev and Zhang Yunchuan noted successful and fruitful work of Russian and Chinese enterprises on a whole number of cooperation trends," he said.
In particular, according to the official, Russia and China noted efficient cooperation as regards the construction of the Tianwan nuclear power plant, construction of a fast neutron reactor, in the field of peaceful uses of space nuclear energy industry.
"Scientific-technical cooperation results were also considered. Russian and Chinese scientific-research organizations carried out a great amount of work on such directions as controlled thermo-nuclear synthesis with magnetic holding of the plasma, technology of underground lixiviation of uranium ore, drafting the solution reactor for production of medical isotopes," said the official.
The head of the Russian Federal Nuclear Energy Agency, Alexander Rumyantsev will lead the eighth session of the Russo-Chinese sub-commission for nuclear issues in Beijing on August 12.
The agency's press release said Mr. Rumyantsev would visit China from August 10 to 13.
The goal of the visit is to attend the eighth session of the Russo-Chinese sub-commission for nuclear issues within the framework of the commission for preparing regular meetings between the heads of the Russian and Chinese governments. Zhang Yunchuan, chairman of the committee for science, technology and industry for national defense is the chairman of the sub-commission on the Chinese part.
At this session, which will result in signing a protocol, the sides will discuss cooperation between the two countries in some spheres, such as the construction of the Tanwan nuclear power plant and of the experimental fast neutron reactor.
Apart from that, they will also discuss cooperation in the sphere of the space nuclear power industry, conversion, science and technology. The sides also intend to discuss cooperation in nuclear safety and security and in building floating nuclear power plants.
Russia and China are currently jointly building the Tanwan nuclear power plant in the city of Luangang in the eastern province of Jiangsu. Russia will deliver uranium fuel. But it is not clear so far whether the spent fuel will be sent back to Russia.
A Russian designed experimental fast neutron reactor is being built in China. Its prototype is the BN-600 fast neutron reactor at the Beloyarsk nuclear power plant. The reactor being built in China has a capacity of 60 megawatts. The reactor is being built because Chinese scientists showed great interest in the possibilities of a large-scale nuclear power industry based on fast neutron reactors.
1. RUSSIA CURRENT ON ITS COMMITMENT TO AVOID NUCLEAR TESTS
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Russia has not violated its commitments to avoid carrying out any nuclear explosions, stresses the Russian Foreign Ministry.
"In 2000, we ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, in line with which Russia undertook the legal commitment not to carry out any nuclear explosions. We are current on this commitment and intend to do it in the future too," reads the statement of the Russian Foreign Ministry information and press department in connection with a message of the Hiroshima mayor on nuclear tests.
Since Russia gained its sovereignty, it has not made a single nuclear explosion, emphasized the Russian Foreign Ministry.
Hiroshima mayors have since 1968 sent protest letters to countries where nuclear tests are conducted.
2. Russia Denies Testing Nukes After Japan Complaints
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Russiaï¿½s Foreign Ministry has denied that Russia has ever conducted nuclear testing, after several Japanese mayors accused Moscow of betraying the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
The ministry issued a statement saying that Russia has never tested nuclear weapons since becoming a sovereign state in 1991, after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Earlier Russiaï¿½s atomic chief said that Russia conducted a series of ï¿½sub-criticalï¿½ nuclear tests this year at its Arctic testing ground Novoya Zemlya, the countryï¿½s Chief of Atomic Energy agency had said Monday.
In ï¿½sub-criticalï¿½ tests the explosion is contained, and no radiation is released.
ï¿½Such experiments are conducted every year to verify the integrity of nuclear warheads,ï¿½ Chief of Atomic Energy Agency Alexander Rumyantsev was quoted as saying earlier by Itar-Tass.
In a written message to President Vladimir Putin Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba expressed his anger, saying that ï¿½if the report is true, it will betray the wish of atomic bomb victims and others around the world hoping for the elimination of nuclear weapons.ï¿½
3. Russia tests intercontinental ballistic missile
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Russia successfully launched an intercontinental ballistic missile in a test firing yesterday, the Strategic Missile Forces said in a statement.
The RS-18 missile blasted off from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and hit a set target in the Kamchatka peninsula in the Russian Far East, about 6700 kilometres east of Moscow. The missile, also known as the SS-19, was launched to determine whether its service life could be extended. It has been in service for 27 years.
The launch was the fifth this year by the Strategic Missile Forces and a total of 10 launches have been scheduled for 2004, the Interfax news agency reported.
Earlier this year, Russian military forces suffered two embarrassing failures of ballistic missile launches from submarines during highly publicised naval manoeuvres.
Later in February, Russia said it had successfully tested a space vehicle that could lead to weapons capable of penetrating missile defences. Details remain sketchy, but military analysts believe the device is a manoeuvrable ballistic missile warhead.
1. Brand-new Ukrainian nuclear power plant shut down
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Automatic security systems at the Khmelnitsky nuclear power plant first cut off the reactor from the power grid Sunday only hours after it was launched, an official with Ukraine's governmental commission for atomic energy said.
The reactor was reconnected to the grid three hours later, but had to be totally shut down later because of a failure in the cooling system caused by a power breakdown, the official added.
It was restarted Monday, only to be stopped again Tuesday, officially to test its shut-down system and cooling units.
It is scheduled to be relaunched Thursday.
A plant spokesman contacted by AFP declined to comment, stressing that there had been no rise in radioactivity levels in and around the plant.
The K2 Russian-type water reactor, which has a capacity of 1,000 megawatts, came on stream on Sunday, at a ceremony attended by Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma.
In a separate case, Ukrainian authorities on Wednesday gave the go-ahead to the controversial launch of a new nuclear reactor at the Rivne nuclear power plant on the country's western border with Poland, despite European protests and safety concerns.
Nuclear plants produce half of Ukraine's energy, which is otherwise forced to rely on supplies from Russia and its own decrepit and dangerous coal mining industry.
In 1986 one of the reactors at Chernobyl in Ukraine blew up in the world's worst nuclear accident, contaminating a large part of Europe.
Since the disaster, an estimated 25,000 people from all over the former Soviet Union who came to clean up after the accident have lost their lives.
The reactor at Khmelnitsky power station had to be shut down on Sunday, less than two hours after it went into operation, Interfax news agency reported on Wednesday. Further technical failures prevented it operating on Monday and Tuesday.
"These incidents do not represent any threat to the public or to the environment," state nuclear energy company Energoatom said in a statement.
Ukraine was the scene of the world's worst civilian nuclear disaster in 1986, when a reactor at Chernobyl nuclear power station exploded, contaminating large areas in Ukraine and neighbouring Belarus and Russia.
Energoatom confirmed incidents had occurred at Khmelnitsky but said it "saw no cause for concern". "Certain media inflated the affair," it said.
The K2 Russian-designed VVER pressurised water reactor at Khmelnitsky, which has a capacity of 1,000 megawatts, was brought on stream on Sunday at a ceremony attended by Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma.
But it ground to a halt almost immediately.
An official at Ukraine's governmental commission for atomic energy said that automatic security systems at the power plant had cut off the reactor from the electricity grid.
The reactor was reconnected to the grid three hours later but had to be totally shut down later because of a failure in the cooling system caused by a power breakdown, the official added.
The reactor was restarted on Monday, only to be stopped again on Tuesday, officially to test its shut-down system and cooling units.
Energoatom said the incidents had been linked to tests conducted after the start up of the reactor. These tests were expected to continue until December.
Four nuclear power stations provide nearly 50 percent of Ukraine's electrical power.
Chenrobyl finally closed down in 2000, a move imposed by the international community before it would provide further aid to Ukraine's power programme.
3. Russia not to raise nuclear fuel prices for Ukraine
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Russia will not change its prices for nuclear fuel for Ukraine despite an increase in prices for uranium, Anton Badenkov, the Vice President of TVEL Corporation, Russia's nuclear energy producer, made a corresponding statement in Kiev. According to him, prices for uranium have advanced by 60 percent on international markets this year. Although Ukraine exports all its uranium (about 1,000 tons) to Russia, this is only 30 percent of the uranium needed to produce nuclear fuel for Ukrainian nuclear power stations.
1. Concern on Russia nuclear plants after Japan mishap: environmentalists
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Most Russian nuclear power stations are old, poorly maintained and pose serious risks of an accident at least as dangerous as that which occurred Monday in Japan, Russian environmental experts said.
"Nearly 70 percent of Russian reactors are approaching the end of their planned service life," the Russian chapter of the international environmental organization Greenpeace said Tuesday in a statement.
"With each passing year, the risk of serious accidents grows. But rather than shutting down dangerous reactors, the Russian Federal Atomic Energy Agency extends their use," the statement added.
Russia's newest nuclear power plant, a single-reactor facility brought online in 2001 and located in the southwestern city of Volgodonsk, was temporarily shut down last November in an automatic emergency procedure triggered by a short-circuit, Greenpeace noted.
Another Russian environmental group, Ekozashchita, said separately that "Russia may soon find itself in a situation much more serious than Japan because Russian reactors are older."
Russian nuclear authorities are "playing with fire" by extending the life of outdated reactors, the group said.
The operator of the Japanese facility at Mihama admitted Tuesday that a pipe which leaked steam and killed four workers had not been properly inspected in 28 years.
The site of the world's worst nuclear disaster, Chernobyl, is located in Ukraine -- but at the time of the 1986 accident Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union.
1. NATO Experts Observe Anti-Terrorism Exercise in Russia
Department of State
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NUCLEAR WEAPONS ACCIDENT RESPONSE EXERCISE HELD IN MURMANSK REGION
From 3 to 5 August 2004, NATO experts observed a Russian military exercise, Avaria 2004, focused on protecting and defending nuclear weapons convoys and responding to terrorist attacks.
The exercise, part of the NATO-Russia Council work programme, was held at a testing ground near the town of Olenegorsk in the Murmansk region.
It simulated a scenario in which terrorists attack a truck or rail convoy with the aim of capturing the transported nuclear weapon. The convoy guards were to repel the terrorist attack before arrival of main response force, a team of helicopters and armoured vehicles to assist the guards.
Divers also demonstrated searching for and recovering a container holding a nuclear weapon from a submerged vehicle.
Openness and Transparency
Fifty experts from 17 NATO countries and NATO headquarters attended the exercise, the first time that Alliance representatives have observed a Russian military exercise of this kind.
Speaking at the exercise, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov emphasized that Russia "seeks to hold an open exercise to show our possibilities in ensuring safety at nuclear facilities".
Avaria 2004 involved over 1,000 people including 700 servicemen of the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation, representatives of the Leningrad and Moscow military districts, Air Force, Air Defence, North Fleet naval helicopters as well as rescue units of the Emergency Management Ministry of the Russian Federation and the Federal Atomic Energy Agency.
Since the fall of the Soviet Union, vulnerability to the use of weapons of mass destruction has been the number one national security dilemma confronting the United States. After many years, the events of September 11, 2001, and the subsequent public discovery of al-Qaeda's methods, capabilities, and intentions finally brought our vulnerability to the forefront.
The War on Terrorism proceeds in a world awash with nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and materials. Most of these weapons and materials are stored in the United States and Russia, but they also exist in India, Pakistan, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Sudan, Israel, Great Britain, France, China, and perhaps other nations.
We must anticipate that terrorists will use weapons of mass destruction if allowed the opportunity. The minimum standard for victory in this war is the prevention of any terrorist cell from obtaining weapons or materials of mass destruction. We must make certain that all sources of WMD are identified and systematically guarded or destroyed.
The Nunn-Lugar Program
To combat the WMD threat in the former Soviet Union, our country has implemented the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program. Since enactment in late 1991, Nunn-Lugar has devoted American technical expertise and money for joint efforts to safeguard and destroy materials and weapons of mass destruction. To date, the weapons systems deactivated or destroyed by the United States under these programs include: ï¿½ 6,312 nuclear warheads; ï¿½ 537 ICBMs; ï¿½ 459 ICBM silos; ï¿½ 11 ICBM mobile missile launchers; ï¿½ 128 bombers; ï¿½ 708 nuclear air-to-surface missiles; ï¿½ 408 submarine missile launchers; ï¿½ 496 submarine launched missiles; ï¿½ 27 nuclear submarines; and ï¿½ 194 nuclear test tunnels. In addition: ï¿½ 260 tons of fissile material have received either comprehensive or rapid security upgrades; ï¿½ Security upgrades have been made at some 60 nuclear warhead storage sites; ï¿½ 208 metric tons of Highly Enriched Uranium have been blended down to Low Enriched Uranium; ï¿½ 35 percent of Russiaï¿½s chemical weapons have received security upgrades; ï¿½ Joint U.S.-Russian research is being conducted at 49 former biological weapons facilities, and security improvements are underway at 4 biological weapons sites; ï¿½ The International Science and Technology Centers, of which the United States is the leading sponsor, have engaged 58,000 former weapons scientists in peaceful work; ï¿½ The International Proliferation Prevention Program has funded 750 projects involving 14,000 former weapons scientists and created some 580 new peaceful high-tech jobs; ï¿½ Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan are nuclear weapons free as a result of cooperative efforts under the Nunn-Lugar program. These successes were never a foregone conclusion. Today, even after more than twelve years of work, constant vigilance is required to ensure that the Nunn-Lugar program is not encumbered by bureaucratic obstacles or undercut by political disagreements.
Sam Nunn and I have devoted much time and effort to maintaining the momentum of these programs. We have worked in cooperation with uncounted individuals of great dedication serving on the ground in the former Soviet Union and in our own government. Nevertheless, from the beginning, we have encountered resistance to the Nunn-Lugar concept in both the United States and Russia. In our own country, opposition often has been motivated by false perceptions that Nunn-Lugar money is foreign assistance or by beliefs that Defense Department funds should only be spent on troops, weapons, or other warfighting capabilities. We also have encountered latent and persistent Cold War attitudes toward Russia that have led some Nunn-Lugar opponents to be suspicious of almost any cooperation with Moscow. Until recently, we also faced a general disinterest in non-proliferation that made gaining support for Nunn-Lugar funding and activities an annual struggle.
Explaining and promoting the Nunn-Lugar program has been complicated by the fact that most of its accomplishments have occurred outside the attention of the media. Although progress is measurable, it does not occur as dramatic events that make good news stories. At Surovatikha, for example, Russian solid fuel SS-18 and SS-19 missiles are being dismantled at a rate of four per month. This facility will grind on for years, until all the designated missiles are destroyed. At Shchuchye, the United States and Russia are building a chemical weapons destruction facility that will become operational in 2007. It will destroy about 4 ï¿½ percent of Russiaï¿½s currently declared chemical weapons stockpile per year. This is a painstaking business conducted far away from our shores. As such, building a knowledgeable coalition in favor of non-proliferation programs has never been easy.
Nunn-Lugar in the Presidential Campaign
Presidential campaigns are one of the best barometers of public and media interest in a particular issue. By this measure, non-proliferation enjoyed very little cachet prior to the September 11 attacks.
In 1995 and 1996 when I was running for the Republican Presidential nomination, I made combating nuclear terrorism a centerpiece of my campaign. On the campaign trail, I spoke of the risks of nuclear proliferation and explained what we were doing with the Nunn-Lugar program. For example, like the other Republican presidential candidates, I traveled to Dallas in August 1995 to bid for the backing of activists at the ï¿½United We Stand Americaï¿½ Conference ï¿½ a convocation of the independent political movement begun by Ross Perot during his 1992 presidential candidacy. I delivered a 20-minute speech on non-proliferation, saying, ï¿½Nothing threatens the lives of American citizens more than unsecured nuclear materials and weaponry in the hands of Third World fanatics and terrorist groups.ï¿½
I found that this was not an issue that moved voters or generated media interest. In December 1995, I ran a four-part series of television ads dramatizing the dangers of nuclear terrorism. In those ads I stated: ï¿½Ready or not, the next president will be forced to deal with (nuclear terrorism).ï¿½ Some observers denounced the ads as ï¿½fear-mongering.ï¿½ More charitable commentators described my focus on non-proliferation issues as an eccentric preoccupation of a candidate who was too interested in foreign affairs.
The 1996 Presidential campaign provides a benchmark of the slow evolution of public attention to catastrophic terrorism. We had already seen the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center, the March 1995 sarin gas attack in a Tokyo subway by the Aum Shinrikyo cult, the April 1995 Oklahoma City truck bombing, and the November 1995 incident in which Chechen terrorists threatened to detonate a package containing radioactive Cesium 137 in a Moscow park. Despite these frequent reminders of our vulnerability, neither the public nor the media paid attention to proliferation issues.
The general disinterest in this topic was underscored by an April 11, 1996, Pew Research Center poll entitled ï¿½Public Apathetic About Nuclear Terrorism.ï¿½ The poll found that 59 percent of Americans surveyed professed ï¿½not to be worriedï¿½ about nuclear terrorism. Only 13 percent ï¿½worried a great dealï¿½ about the prospect. The summary of the poll stated: ï¿½Most Americans acknowledge the fact that terrorists could strike a U.S. city with nuclear, chemical or biological weapons, yet few worry about the possibilityï¿½.The poll confirms the lack of public engagement on this issue experienced by Senator Richard Lugar, who made this the central issue of his unsuccessful Republican presidential campaign.ï¿½
Even by 2000 -- two years after the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania -- the presidential campaign was almost devoid of discussion of nuclear terrorism and non-proliferation. In three extensive Presidential debates, the issue of non-proliferation never came up except for brief mentions of the need to contain Iraq by then Governor George W. Bush. A comprehensive feature on the candidates on the CNN website cataloged 121 stated positions of Al Gore and 105 of George Bush. None of these 226 positions dealt with nuclear terrorism or non-proliferation strategies. The only mentions of nuclear issues were the opposing positions of the candidates on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and Missile Defense and Vice President Goreï¿½s statement that he would continue the Clinton policy on North Korea.
I recall this history to illustrate how much political discourse has changed since the September 11 attacks. We have turned a corner -- the public, the media, and the candidates are paying more attention now. Not only are both major 2004 Presidential candidates supportive of the Nunn-Lugar program, they have delivered major speeches on counter-proliferation and their representatives are sparring over who is more capable in this area. During the recent Democratic primary season, we even experienced a bidding war in which candidates competed to offer the most effusive endorsements and the largest funding increases for the Nunn-Lugar program and other non-proliferation efforts. Howard Dean and John Edwards called for a tripling of funds devoted to Nunn-Lugar, while John Kerry called for a ï¿½majorï¿½ increase in funding without specifying an exact amount. The recent 9/11 Commission Report weighed in with another important endorsement of the Nunn-Lugar program, saying that ï¿½Preventing the proliferation of [weapons of mass destruction] warrants a maximum effortï¿½by strengthening counter-proliferation efforts, expanding the Proliferation Security Initiative, and supporting the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program.ï¿½
As one of the founders of the program, I am gratified that it has become a featured issue in the debate over national security policy. Although resistance to the program still exists in the U.S. government, we have achieved a rough political consensus on the need for Cooperative Threat Reduction Programs. Perhaps as important, a much higher percentage of policymakers are taking an interest in the Nunn-Lugar program and other non-proliferation efforts.
Nunn-Lugar On the Ground
But this emergence from relative obscurity has been accompanied by misconceptions. Exuberant calls to triple funding for Nunn-Lugar are appreciated for their enthusiasm, but they do not reflect how the program works or what is needed most.
In particular, observers of the program must understand that in our immediate future, funding is only one of the limitations on our non-proliferation progress. I support all the funding for the Nunn-Lugar Program that can be used effectively. Nunn-Lugar represents an enormous value for our national security dollar. But in the short run, increasing funding does not ensure that Russiaï¿½s vast WMD arsenal will be reduced faster or more efficiently than current capabilities.
At this stage, diplomatic breakthroughs with resistant Russian authorities are almost a prerequisite to putting major funding increases to work. Although the Russian government has opened a remarkable number of facilities to the Nunn-Lugar program, others remain closed. Convincing Russia to accelerate its dismantlement schedules, to conclude umbrella agreements that limit liability for contractors, and to open its remaining closed facilities are the most immediate challenges for Nunn-Lugar. Whoever wins election in November must make the removal of these roadblocks a priority. As the roadblocks are removed, Congress and the President, as well as our allies, must commit the funds necessary to exploit the openings.
Another limitation on the usefulness of increased funding in Russia is the engineering dynamics of assembly line dismantlement. Every project has its own engineering challenges that require a specialized infrastructure. In cases where that infrastructure is mature, incremental increases in funding may be hard to absorb productively. For example, the only way increased funding could be useful to the dismantlement of SS-18s and SS-19s at Surovatikha would be to construct additional dismantlement capacity to complement the current infrastructure that can destroy four missiles a month. But at this stage, Russian authorities have indicated that they are not prepared to deliver more than four missiles a month to Surovatikha. Russian agreement would be necessary both to construct a new facility and to make such a facility worthwhile by supplying it with missiles at a faster rate.
Complicating our efforts is the fact that the Russian government is not a monolith. The President, the Foreign Ministry, the military, local base commanders, and even local governments near dismantlement sites all exert influence on the cooperation and access that we receive. In my travels in Russia, I have often encountered situations where Russian authorities have blocked or complicated visits to sensitive sites. For example, in 2002, I led a small delegation to the city of Kirov, to meet with personnel of a nearby biological weapons facility. We had obtained permission to visit Kirov from the Foreign Ministry. But after boarding our 12-seat aircraft in Moscow, we were informed that we could not take off because the runway at Kirov had not been inspected to determine if it could handle our plane. We knew that the runway at Kirov routinely accommodated airliners the size of 737s. Unnamed officials somewhere in the Russian bureaucracy had tried to shut down our visit. We eventually reached Kirov, but we were not allowed into the biological weapons facility.
This fragmentation of government, however, also has worked in our favor. I visited the Perm missile base in the foothills of the Urals in 2003 to attempt to build support for the destruction of liquid fueled SS-24s and SS-25s. The Governor of the Perm region, Yuri Trutnev, has been a vocal advocate of using the missile base as a dismantlement facility for the ICBMs. When I visited there I witnessed an example of the evolution of Russian democracy. Governor Trutnev arranged for a joint press conference with me at the airport that was designed to underscore the regional economic benefits of a missile dismantlement facility and to address environmental concerns raised by local interest groups. Like most politicians, he is hoping to draw jobs and money to his region, and he sees a Nunn-Lugar dismantlement operation as a source of steady work for his constituents.
Encouraging these positive forces within Russia is one of the reasons why I have traveled frequently to Nunn-Lugar sites. Russian military and political leaders as well as local economic interests want to know that the U.S. is engaged and committed to the program. The appearance of American officials strengthens the hand of Russians who have embraced the Nunn-Lugar program and improves our chances of gaining access to new dismantlement opportunities.
Taking Nunn-Lugar Global
The Nunn-Lugar Program has established a deep reservoir of experience and talent that could be applied to non-proliferation objectives around the world. The original Nunn-Lugar bill was concerned with the former Soviet Union, because that is where the vast majority of weapons and materials of mass destruction were. Today, we must be prepared with money and expertise to extend the Nunn-Lugar concept wherever it can be usefully applied.
I can attest to the energy and imagination of technicians, contract supervisors, equipment operators, negotiators, auditors, and many other specialists who have been willing to live in remote areas of the former Soviet Union to get this job done. This is an instrument begging to be used anywhere that we can achieve diplomatic breakthroughs.
The utility of the Nunn-Lugar concept rests not only with raw numbers of weapons destroyed. It also has been an important vehicle for communication and cooperation. The Nunn-Lugar Program continued as a constant in the U.S.-Russian relationship even when other aspects of the relationship were in decline. It has improved military-to-military contacts and established greater transparency in areas that used to be the object of intense secrecy and suspicion.
During the last Congress, I introduced the Nunn-Lugar Expansion Act, which allows $50 million in Nunn-Lugar funding to be used outside the former Soviet Union. President Bush signed the legislation into law in 2003. This Act allows us to take advantage of non-proliferation opportunities wherever they may appear. President Bush has embraced the Nunn-Lugar concept and has endorsed efforts to apply it worldwide. Russia will continue to be a major focus but emerging risks must also be addressed in the Middle East and Asia. In addition, Nunn-Lugar concepts and experience may be valuable in addressing specific vulnerabilities involving radiological material that could be used in dirty bombs. Nunn-Lugar has developed a unique capability to meet a variety of proliferation threats. But the program needs firm policy guidance and aggressive diplomacy to engage potential partners.
Seeking Breakthroughs in Non-proliferation
So what is the non-proliferation agenda for the winning presidential candidate? In my view, he must bring the full weight of U.S. diplomatic and economic power to bear on pursuing at least the following twelve breakthroughs. Admittedly, this is a daunting list. No President will achieve every objective enumerated here. He will have influence over all of them, but he will have absolute power over none of them. The list illustrates that the uncertain work of non-proliferation requires flexibility, persistence, creativity, and allied cooperation. It also illustrates how many different areas present grave risk to our national security.
1. Achieve the Complete, Verifiable, and Irreversible Dismantlement of North Koreaï¿½s Nuclear Program. North Korea must be the number one non-proliferation priority. It may have as many as six nuclear weapons, and Pyongyang is notorious for selling its weapons technology to anyone with ready cash. To achieve a complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement of its nuclear program, the North must freeze and disable all its nuclear weapons, components, and facilities, and place all of its fissile material under safeguards. We must also pursue a phased, verifiable agreement to eliminate the weapons program and terminate its export of ballistic missiles. In doing so, we should insist that an exhaustive and creative verification methodology is at the heart of any agreement. Realistically, I do not expect North Korea to immediately embrace an intrusive inspections and dismantlement program. But the Bush Administration has done the right thing by suggesting using the Nunn-Lugar program as a model for future action.
2. Establish International Will to End Iranï¿½s Nuclear Program. Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons program, no matter how loudly they may deny it. Our challenge is to rally the international community, which largely shares our views on that fact, to apply significant pressure on Teheran to verifiably abandon its nuclear weapons ambitions. If Iran does not immediately change course, we should insist that the issue, now before the International Atomic Energy Agency, be referred to the United Nations Security Council for action. To compel Iran to abide by its obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which includes submitting to full inspections and safeguards, the Security Council must be prepared to impose the entire range of sanctions --diplomatic, economic, and military.
3. Bring Russian Tactical Nuclear Weapons into the Nunn-Lugar Program. For all the successes we have had in dismantling Russian intercontinental missiles and strategic warheads, Moscow refuses even to discuss the issue of tactical nuclear weapons, which in many ways may be even more dangerous. Theyï¿½re more portable, and theyï¿½re usually stored closer to potential flashpoints. Moscow should fully account for its stocks of tactical nukes as a first step toward bringing them into Nunn-Lugar.
4. Control Nuclear Materials Worldwide. The United States must lead a new effort to contain the weapons grade material outside the former Soviet Union that poses a threat to international security. We must help develop a comprehensive program that will address each facility that possesses high-risk material, eliminate stockpiles of spent reactor fuel that can be reprocessed, make a risk assessment of the worldï¿½s scores of research reactors and their vulnerability, and promote efforts to convert research reactors to low-enriched uranium fuel. The Bush administration has made an important start with Secretary Abrahamï¿½s announcement in May of the Global Threat Reduction Initiative, which is aimed at securing a broad range of vulnerable nuclear and radiological materials around the world. This will compliment President Bushï¿½s Proliferation Security Initiative, which expands our ability to interdict illegal shipments of such materials.
5. Win India and Pakistan Nuclear Agreements. The border between India and Pakistan has been called the most dangerous place in the world. We must devote sustained efforts to promote confidence building measures and to support the encouraging steps these two nuclear-armed foes have already taken on their own. We can promote exchanges between Pakistani and Indian security experts, and offer assistance on export controls, border security, and the protection, control and accounting of nuclear arsenals. This will require some diplomatic and administrative skill to stay within our NPT obligations.
6. Open Russiaï¿½s Biological Weapons Facilities. We are making progress in converting Russiaï¿½s biological weapons facilities to peaceful uses and in employing its former bioweapons scientists. But there is a major gap in the program: four former Soviet military facilities have not opened their doors to inspection. We must make it a priority to close that gap.
7. Secure Full Russian Disclosure of its Chemical Weapons Stockpile. While we have made hard-won progress in preparing for the destruction of Russiaï¿½s 40,000-ton stockpile of known chemical weapons, Russian obstinacy has slowed the process. At Shchuchye, where destruction wonï¿½t begin until 2007, I saw nearly two million warheads and artillery shells, many of which were so compact they could easily be concealed in a briefcase. But Moscow refuses to disclose the full extent of its chemical weapons stocks, casting a shadow over the program. It makes certification under the Nunn-Lugar program problematic and has required new legislation and presidential waivers to keep funding on track.
8. Transform the Russian Bureaucracy to End Roadblocks to Non-proliferation Cooperation. Even with adequate funding and high-level agreements, the Nunn-Lugar Program still faces roadblocks erected by Russian bureaucrats and military officers. They have denied access to sites, refused to provide tax-free status to participating countries, and failed to extend the necessary liability protections to G-8 partners, all of which stymies progress. Russia still has 340 tons of fissile material that has not been adequately secured, and 70 warhead sites that need more protection. Our government must keep pressure on President Putin to demand action and make the changes necessary to get it.
9. Win Focused Commitment from U.S. and European Companies to Engage Weapons Scientists. We have long recognized that economic hardship and desperation could drive some weapons scientists into the arms of well-financed rogue states or terrorist organizations. The tens of thousands of scientists we have employed are mostly working at government-sponsored or government-subsidized jobs, but a number of American companies have shown the way forward by employing some of these well-trained individuals. We must capitalize on this success by commercializing the process and move many more of these men and women into sustainable private sector jobs where they can put their skills to profitable civilian use.
10. Secure Russian Ratification of the Nunn-Lugar Umbrella Agreement. This agreement underpins all U.S. threat reduction programs in the former Soviet Union. It protects contributions to weapons clean-up from being taxed by Russian authorities, and protects U.S. contractors -- who are doing much of the most difficult work -- from liability in case of an accident or other mishap. Without these guarantees, work would halt. We have negotiated an extension of the agreement, successfully fending off Russian attempts to weaken it. Ratification by the Duma is critical to maintaining a solid foundation for this complex effort, and earlier this year Senator Joe Biden and I wrote a letter to Russian leaders urging quick action. Yet President Putin has so far failed to present the extension for a vote.
11. Finalize a Plutonium Disposition Agreement. Russia has 134 metric tons of dangerous, long-lived plutonium that is not currently covered by any cooperative threat reduction program. An effort to destroy this material is still blocked by the same issues of liability, accountability, and access that once hindered the Nunn-Lugar Program on weapons dismantlement.
12. Ensure the Fulfillment of Global Partnership Pledges. Under President Bushï¿½s leadership, the G-8 summit in 2002 formed the Global Partnership Against Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction, nicknamed ï¿½10 Plus 10 Over 10.ï¿½ The United States agreed to provide $10 billion in cooperative threat reduction funds over the next 10 years if our partners would add another $10 billion. Weï¿½ve done our share, and many of our allies are off to an excellent start. But overall, our partnersï¿½ pledges are $3 billion short. Moreover, not enough of the money that has been pledged has been allocated for actual Global Partnership projects. We have identified important dismantlement objectives, such as chemical weapons stocks and nonategic nuclear submarines, which need this funding. Our allies must turn pledges into projects.
I am confident that whoever is elected in November would find substantial public support for this set of initiatives. The American public wants the President to engage in foreign affairs to improve the security of the United States. A June 2004 New York Times/CBS poll found that 38 percent of Americans surveyed said that foreign policy was ï¿½the issue they most wanted to hear the candidates discuss during the campaign.ï¿½ This compared to corresponding polls by the same polling organization that found only 1 percent of Americans in 1996 and 3 percent in 2000 viewed foreign policy as the most important problem facing the country.
The American people expect their government to be working day and night to find and eliminate weapons of mass destruction. So do I. Our political leadership and non-proliferation experts must engage Russia to unlock the last doors to the dismantlement of its weapons programs. Further, they should scour the globe to identify and create opportunities to dismantle dangerous weapons programs outside the former Soviet Union. Persistent diplomacy at the highest levels of our government is needed each day if we are to succeed.
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