1. Bush Administration Slammed For Inaction on 'Loose Nukes'
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With the country on high alert for another Al Qaeda attack, the Bush administration is facing increasing criticism for allegedly not doing enough to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists.
The 9/11 Commission and leading nonproliferation experts say that the administration has been too lax in securing nuclear weapons and materials in Russia and other parts of the former Soviet Union. Administration officials are expected to be grilled on the issue next week, during congressional hearings on the report of the 9/11 Commission.
The commissioners, in their final report, stopped short of directly assigning blame for the situation. They did, however, mention that "outside experts are deeply worried about the U.S. government's commitment and approach to securing the weapons and highly dangerous materials still scattered in Russia and other countries of the Soviet Union."
In contrast to the Bush administration, which has focused intensely on neutralizing the threat of nuclear material transfers from Middle Eastern governments to terrorists, the 9/11 report stresses the danger of unsupervised nuclear materials ending up in the hands of terrorists. A nuclear bomb, the report states, "can be built with a relatively small amount of nuclear material." A bomb made with highly enriched uranium or plutonium "about the size of a grapefruit," detonated by commercially available explosives "would level Lower Manhattan," the report warns.
Sensing Bush's vulnerability on the issue, the democratic presidential nominee, Senator John Kerry, has recently made the problem of "loose nukes" one of his main arguments in criticizing President Bush for his performance on national security. Experts who, for the most part, agree that Bush has not made the containment of "loose nukes" a high enough priority, expect the issue to emerge during debates between Kerry and Bush.
"Kerry and [his running-mate, Senator John] Edwards, are making this a line of attack, and they have a point," said Scott Parrish, editor of The Nonproliferation Review, a journal issued by the independent Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. A month ago, the center published an extensive report on nuclear terrorism, which criticized the administration for lacking a comprehensive plan to address the threat of terrorists with nuclear capability and for not making it a higher priority.
The administration needs to be more focused on the former Soviet Union, where many nuclear facilities lack minimal safety devices, said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, an independent Washington think tank. "All the experts I know recommend that the most urgent task to prevent terrorist networks from getting their hands on such materials is to secure the stockpiles of these materials where they exist," Kimball said. "And the prime location is Russia and the former Soviet Union."
The main tool for securing the Russian and former Soviet nuclear stockpile, according to the 9/11 Commission's report, is the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, popularly known as the "Nunn-Lugar" program, named after the senators who sponsored the legislation in 1991. The program aims at destroying or converting Russian nuclear warheads, and securing stockpiles of nuclear materials and nuclear facilities in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus. The program, at first, received $300 million to $400 million per year. Some conservatives criticized it as an inappropriate use of American dollars on a former foe, which in turn could free up Russian money to further develop weapon systems.
Before September 11, 2001, the Bush administration intended to cut funding for the program, but reversed course after the terrorist attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The White House decided to maintain the $400 million figure, while promising to increase funding to a level of $1 billion for the next 10 years. In addition, the administration leveraged a pledge from members of the Group of Eight Industrialized Nations for a similar sum.
Most critics agree that the level of funding is now sufficient, but they also said the pace is too slow and that the scope is too narrow. "Ten years is too long," said Joseph Cirincione, director for nonproliferation at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and the author of "Deadly Arsenals: Tracking Weapons of Mass Destruction."
"We should be aiming to do that in the next four years. It's a perfectly reasonable timetable. Let's go out there and get this stuff," Cirincione said. "What we should be doing is implementing a very aggressive program, to go out and secure and eliminate all potential sources of nuclear weapons and materials that terrorists might attain" whether in the former Soviet Union, Afghanistan, Iran or more than 40 countries that run research reactors. "Would this be expensive? Yes. But you could do that annually for the price of about one moth of operations in Iraq: $3 billion to $4 billion a year."
Administration officials recently said that about 70% of nuclear facilities in Russia and the former Soviet republics meet the safety standards prescribed by the Nunn-Lugar program. But outside experts argue that the rate is as low as 40% to 50%.
Some experts criticized the 9/11 Commission for not going far enough in outlining the effort that is needed to curb and control nuclear proliferation, to prevent such materials from falling into the hands of terrorists.
The report concludes that preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons "warrants a maximum effort ï¿½ by strengthening counter-proliferation efforts," including an expansion of the Proliferation Security Initiative, a program to detect nuclear materials in shipments at American ports, and continued support for the Nunn-Lugar program.
Some experts say that the commission didn't go far enough. Given its focus on the specter of nuclear terrorism, one could expect bolder recommendations. "These are relatively minor measures," said Carnegie's Cirincione. "It will be good to do all these things, but this is nowhere near a maximum effort. A maximum effort, said Cirincione and other experts, would be an aggressive, comprehensive global strategy that covers all nuclear facilities worldwide. "It's too bad that the commission pulled its punches for the sake of bipartisan consensus."
1. Russia may collect spent fuel from Uzbek scientific reactor in 2005
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Russia may import spent nuclear fuel from a scientific reactor in Uzbekistan under contract in 2005, Interfax was told at the Federal Atomic Energy Agency.
"The importation of the spent nuclear fuel from Uzbekistan is a pilot project for the two countries and the contract price may run to hundreds of thousands of dollars," an agency official said.
"There may be two contracts - for the transportation and handling of the spent fuel," he added.
The fuel will be processed at Mayak facility in Chelyabinsk region.
"The work on the contracts is under way and they are likely to be concluded by the end of the year," he said.
Earlier the agency reported that the procedure of returning nuclear fuel from research reactors in Ukraine, the Czech republic and Serbia is also being developed.
Experts estimate that taken together the nuclear fuel from scientific reactors is sufficient to make up to 10 medium nuclear warheads. The implementation of the joint project would help to reduce the threat of terrorism.
A Canadian-financed project to help Russia safely dispose of nuclear-powered submarines now rotting in the Barents Sea will involve unprecedented levels of monitoring, after two years of difficult negotiations over safety standards and transparency in the use of international funds.
The $24-million contribution for this year, part of $30-million a year for three years announced Wednesday by Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew, will be used to dismantle up to 12 submarines.
The money is a fraction of Canada's $1-billion pledge to help Russia clean up its aging weaponry, promised after the Group of Eight summit in Kananaskis, Alta., in June of 2002, when G8 leaders promised a total of $20-billion over the next decade.
Two years on, this is Canada's first direct contribution since November of 2002, when Bill Graham, then the foreign affairs minister, arrived in Moscow to hand out $5-million toward chemical-weapons disposal.
Then, Mr. Graham said negotiations were being held back by disagreements over transparency in funding and liability for projects. At the time, Russian media reported that Canada was close to a $100-million agreement on nuclear subs, an amount that Canadian officials steadfastly refused to confirm.
Now Canada has struck that deal -- but the financing depends on a strict regimen of separate bank accounts, regular reports and monthly site visits by a Foreign Affairs official, a former submarine commander and private contractors.
"It's a precedent, as far as Canada is concerned," Reynald Doiron, a Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman, said in a telephone interview yesterday. The monitoring is based on methods used by the United States.
The work is crucial, as both Russian and international observers have warned that Russia's aging nuclear stock is at risk of falling into the wrong hands. The nuclear cores of rusting submarines pose a serious environmental hazard. And even the process of dismantling old submarines is risky: last fall, nine of the 10 men on board the decommissioned K-159 submarine were killed when it fell off its pontoons as it was being towed in for dismantling and sank in the Barents Sea.
Pavel Felengauer, an independent defence analyst in Moscow, said Western funding has come slowly in part because of such concerns, though donors now seem to have hit upon a successful formula of working with a specific shipyard on a set number of subs, to track their money and limit liability.
"There are some logistical hiccups on the way, but this is a very solid way of dealing with the matter," Mr. Felengauer said. "Although, of course, the money being given isn't enough. . . . These submarines are real rusty wrecks, with spent nuclear fuel."
The first Canadian grant will be used to dismantle three Victor-type submarines at the Zvezdochka decommission site in Severodvinsk in the northern Arkhangelsk region, Russian officials said yesterday.
"The first sub is already at Zvezdochka, waiting for the work to begin. It's very good news, very serious success," said Nikolai Shingarev of the Federal Agency on Atomic Energy.
Russia has scrapped 94 of its 193 decommissioned nuclear submarines, agency figures show, and plans to scrap another 17 this year.
The agreement comes as Jane's Defence Weekly reported that North Korea is deploying two new long-range missile systems that could allow it to threaten the United States. The magazine reported that North Korea gained some of the necessary technology by buying 12 decommissioned Russian subs, which still contained parts of their missile-launch system, from Japanese scrap dealers in 1993.
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov vigorously denied the report.
"The nuclear problem of North Korea does exist, but Russia has nothing to do with it," the Interfax news agency quoted him as saying. "I can assure you that Russia has never delivered anything that is illegal or banned to any country, including North Korea."
Still, Foreign Affairs officials in Ottawa said if there is any truth to the report, it illustrates the importance of the project.
In recent weeks, Russia has also negotiated deals with Australia, Britain, Japan and Germany, which is helping to build a storage facility. Canada donated another $30-million in May of 2003 through a European Bank for Reconstruction and Development program.
2. Canada to spend $24.4M to help Russian scrap subs
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Canada has agreed to spend $24.4 million to help Russia scrap three Cold-War-vintage nuclear submarines, Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew announced today.
The agreement says Canada will eventually help dismantle 12 of the Victor-class subs, at a cost of more than $100 million.
Russia has 56 retired submarines awaiting disposal in the Barents Sea region, Foreign Affairs said.
The Canadian contribution is part of a $20-billion program to help dispose of Russian nuclear weapons and materials, which was announced at the Kananaskis, Alta., G-8 summit meeting two years ago.
"Spent nuclear fuel in Russian submarine reactors presents an international security risk and an environmental threat to the Arctic and Barents Sea," Mr. Pettigrew said. "Funding this initiative is a key element of our international security agenda."
Canada joins Britain, Norway, Japan, Germany and the U.S. in funding Russian nuclear submarine dismantling.
Canada plans to contribute up to $1 billion to the G-8 program over 10 years.
At the end of the Cold War, Russia was left with nearly 200 nuclear submarines rusting at the dockside. The Victor-class boats were the workhorses of the Soviet-era sub fleet.
Scrapping decommissioned nuclear subs is a long and costly process. The vessels have to be guarded, moved to a defuelling facility and stripped of their radioactive fuel. That material has to be safely disposed of, along with radioactive equipment such as the reactor itself.
1. US must start paying for astronauts' flights: Russian official
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A top Russian space official reportedly warned that from next year Moscow would expect the United States to cover the cost of sending US astronauts to the International Space Station (news - web sites) (ISS).
The assertion by the director of Russia's Federal Cosmic Agency, Anatoly Perminov, signified the increased strain between Washington and Moscow over the United States' reliance on Russian Soyuz spaceships to get its astronauts to the ISS.
"This is our position: if in 2005 the Americans want to fly aboard Soyuzes, let them pay the cost of these flights," Perminov told the ITAR-TASS news agency.
1. Russia Admits N Korea Nuclear Problem, Denies Involvement
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Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said on Thursday that the North Korean Nuclear problem really existed, but denied allegations that Russia was involved in this problemï¿½s creation, the Interfax news agency reports.
ï¿½We know who was really involved in creation of the North Korean nuclear problem. The problem is truly very serious, but the statement of Russiaï¿½s involvement in its creation is a myth,ï¿½ the minister told reporters in Cholpon-Ata, Kyrgyzstan.
Ivanov called groundless the allegations that Russia was involved in missile and nuclear technologiesï¿½ proliferation. ï¿½Today it is North Korea, tomorrow Iran will re-surface again, and the next day it will be Sudan, but all these accusations are groundless,ï¿½ he said.
ï¿½I can say with all responsibility that Russia has never supplied anything illegal or forbidden to other countries, including North Koreaï¿½ Ivanov said. The minister also added that there were no facts to prove the accusations. ï¿½If there were such facts, they would have been presented already, creating a great international scandal,ï¿½ Ivanov said.
Russian Defence Minister Sergey Ivanov is currently in Kyrgyzstan on a working visit. On Thursday Ivanov is scheduled to meet Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev and on Friday he will be watching the second stage of the Rubezh-2004 counter-terrorist exercises.
Washington has criticised Russia for supplying Iran with nuclear technology, which Moscow and Tehran say is for peaceful purposes. Russia has also been criticised by human rights groups for selling warplanes to Sudan.
The latest allegations were particularly serious because missiles based on submarines or warships could be positioned close to their targets before being launched, giving them greater range than land-based weaponry.
2. Russia denies it helped North Korea to develop nuclear missiles that could hit US
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Russian military experts with close links to the government poured scorn yesterday on claims that Moscow has helped North Korea develop two new ballistic missile systems capable of hitting mainland America with nuclear warheads.
The authoritative journal Jane's Defence Weekly has alleged that Siberian missile specialists helped Pyongyang design and possibly build ballistic missile systems closely based on a decommissioned Soviet submarine-launched missile dubbed R-27.
"[This] would fundamentally alter the missile threat posed by [North Korea] ... and could finally provide its leadership with something that it has long sought to obtain - the ability to directly threaten the continental US," the journal claimed.
The journal pointed the finger at staff from the VP Makeyev Design Bureau in the Siberian city of Chelyabinsk, whom it claimed had made an unspecified number of trips, along with other defence specialists, to North Korea since 1992, under the cover of helping to develop a space-launch vehicle.
The magazine also suggested that North Korea had obtained further vital missile intelligence from its 1993 purchase of 12 decommissioned Russian Foxtrot and Golf II-class submarines.
But Eduard Baltin, the former commander of Russia's Black Sea fleet, yesterday described the claims as "absurd". Insisting there was no way such sensitive missile technology would have been transferred from Russia to North Korea, he said the R-27 missiles had been painstakingly dismantled when withdrawn from service.
"Strategic second-generation submarines were armed with the R-27 missiles, [but] at the beginning of the 1990s they were removed from service, from both the Northern and Pacific fleets," he said. "They were completely cleaned up at the decommissioning factory and their warheads and military guidance systems removed. All that was left was a solid metal shell which was no good for anything apart from scrap." Russian experts said they doubted that the decommissioned submarines, which had also been carefully stripped of sensitive technology, would have helped the North Koreans either.
Vladimir Dvorkin, a former senior weapons specialist at the Defence Ministry, said he thought Pyongyang only possessed short-range Scud-like missiles and could only develop long-range missiles in future using its own, not Russian, technology. "North Korea doesn't have any other means," he said.
Relations between Moscow and Pyongyang have warmed in recent years with a visit to Russia by Kim Jong Il in 2002; Russia is one of six countries working to resolve a standoff over North Korea's nuclear programme.
3. Russian admiral sees no missile technology drain to N. Korea
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The former commander of Russia's Black Sea Fleet Eduard Baltin does not think missile technology could drain from the Russian navy to North Korea.
He described as "absurd" American media reports saying that Russia helped North Korea create a ballistic missile on the basis of the R-26 missile (an analogue of the U.S. Polaris), capable of reaching U.S. territory.
1. Russia says no militant threat to nuclear arsenal
The Russia Journal
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Russia's nuclear arsenal is safe and militants could never steal an atomic bomb from the country, Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov was quoted as saying on Tuesday. Russia has pledged to slash its numbers of nuclear warheads by about two-thirds from current levels of around 6,000 in a decade, but many experts fear militants might still be able to seize some from storage sites in the former Soviet Union.
"Unfortunately, in different regions of the world the myth is propagated that Russian nuclear weapons are guarded badly and weakly. This is a myth," Ivanov was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying. "We give this question the highest priority because Russia understands its responsibility to protect nuclear weapons and to prevent possible accidents."
The deterrent value of Russia's nuclear weapons, built up during its Cold War stand-off with the United States, remains the foundation of its defence policy. Since the end of the Cold War, Washington has made the prevention of nuclear terrorism a top priority, helping Russia to safeguard nuclear sites and stepping up surveillance to catch governments or individuals suspected of nuclear proliferation.
In contrast to its nuclear potential, Russia's conventional forces remain underfunded and demoralised after more than a decade of stop-start reform aimed at creating a force capable of dealing with modern threats.
Ivanov said all Russian nuclear weapons were accounted for and that no militants had come close to stealing one. "Never in the history of the Soviet Union or Russia have there been genuine attempts to steal nuclear weapons. And there have been no attempted terrorist attacks on nuclear installations."
Ukraine is trying to get Russia to lower prices for nuclear reactor fuel. The money it saves will go toward a program promoting the countryï¿½s atomic energy independence.
Though Russian and Ukrainian officials recently announced their willingness to form a single economic zone, economic problems between the two countries are multiplying. Along with disputes over pipes, sweets and pastries, cars, and cement chronicled on the pages of Expert, a new issue has recently emerged, the supply of Russian fuel to Ukrainian nuclear power plants.
Atomic energy is one of the most important sectors of the Ukrainian economy. The 14 reactor blocks at various Ukrainian plants generate around 45% of all Ukraineï¿½s electricity at half the price of coal-powered plants. The equipment at these coal plants is obsolete and worn out and cannot produce any additional electricity. In many ways, the future development of the Ukrainian economy depends on the expansion of atomic energy.
All fuel for Ukrainian reactors is imported from Russia, which costs Ukraine $300 million a year. This figure has become the subject of a new scandal. This spring, many in the Ukrainian media argued that Ukraine was buying Russian fuel at artificially high prices. Deputies to the upper house of parliament followed fast on the journalistsï¿½ heels and at present the atomic issue is the concern of the highest levels of the Ukrainian establishment.
From the horseï¿½s mouth
ï¿½For historical reasons, reactor fuel for the entire former Soviet Union is only produced in Russia by the TVEL Company,ï¿½ Nikolai Shteinberg, former Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Fuel and Energy, explained to Expert. ï¿½This monopoly has led to the current situation, when according to our estimates Russian fuel already cost 10-15% more than on world market prices but is of lower quality.ï¿½ Other Ukrainian specialists give even higher figures. ï¿½I think that the price of fuel should be calculated according to pure uranium content,ï¿½ argues Mikhail Vatagin, head of the Kiev consulting firm Effektivnaya Energetika. ï¿½Then, as the world market price for uranium is around $980 a kilogram, Russia should sell us reactor fuel for $1200-1250.ï¿½ Ukrainian nuclear experts are particular angered by TVELï¿½s policies toward Russian customers. ï¿½TVEL sells fuel to Russian plants at half the price it offers Ukrainian ones,ï¿½ complains Shteinberg. ï¿½And as we give TVEL around 60% of our export earnings, we are in effect compensating their losses for supplying Russian plants.ï¿½
Not surprisingly, those in the Russian atomic industry have their own opinions.
In 1997 TVEL won a contract to supply fuel to Ukrainian nuclear power plants. We were competing against the American company Westinghouse,ï¿½ TVEL Vice-President Anton Badenkov recounts. ï¿½We are now supplying Ukrainian plants based on that contract. All of its conditions are being fulfilled and no changes have been made. Supply prices are confidential and I am not at liberty to discuss them, but since 1997, when the contract was awarded, the world markets for both uranium and reactor fuel have changed dramatically. Thus, one could say that we are supplying Ukraine at 25% less than market price, not 25% more.ï¿½
There are some in Ukraine who confirm this. In the summer of 2002, Vitaly Gaiduk, who was the Ukrainian minister of fuel and energy at the time, noted in an interview: ï¿½According to our contract with the Russian company TVEL, the price of atomic fuel supplied to Ukraine is 25% below market for the third year in a row. This discount will continue for another four years, but will decline gradually.ï¿½ In other words, until 2006 Ukraine will get Russian fuel for its nuclear power stations for less than world market price.
In addition to the alleged inflated prices for Russian fuel, the Ukrainians are also complaining about its low quality compared to Western products. ï¿½Western fuel generates around 50,000 megawatts a day per ton of uranium, while Russian fuel at best generates 40,000,ï¿½ claims Shteinberg. ï¿½This means a loss of 10-15%. Moreover, Russian fuel assemblies have to be changed every two-three years, while Western ones last four. Changing the assembly means stopping the reactor for several months. Thus, if Ukrainian nuclear plants were using American fuel right now, it would cost 25% less.ï¿½ Here, Russian atomic specialists also do not see eye to eye with their Ukrainian colleagues. ï¿½The fact of the matter is that Ukraine only began this year to move to a new type of fuel,ï¿½ says Badenkov. ï¿½For many years, it used the old type that naturally was of lower quality than the fuel we produce today. The quality of our new fuel is exactly the same as that of American products and this is proven by its record at plants in Eastern Europe. Just take a look at their reports and itï¿½s clear as day. We are familiar with the specifications of both American and French fuel and for this reason we can boldly bid in any tender because we will win in terms of both quality and price. We have proven this in Eastern Europe, Finland, and Asia.ï¿½ Yet the Ukrainians refuse to relent.
If TVEL does not revise its pricing policies, we will be forced to change to American fuel,ï¿½ says Shteinberg. ï¿½This will be a great loss for both countries and losing the Ukrainian market will mean bankruptcy for TVEL. The Russian parties should resolve this matter quickly because Westinghouse is ready to supply the first six assemblies for the South Ukrainian Nuclear Plant by as early as the end of the year. We will need to evaluate the fuel for two or three years, but by 2009 we will be able to completely change over to American fuel.ï¿½
The Russian parties involved remain undaunted. ï¿½I am very sorry that Ukraine wants to use American fuel and waste tens of millions of dollars, as we are very familiar with Westinghouseï¿½s prices. They are much higher than ours,ï¿½ says Badenkov. ï¿½The proof of this fact is the contracts we won recently in Eastern Europe. Even in countries that are now joining the EU, plants prefer to conclude contracts with TVEL until they close, thanks to the price and quality of our products.ï¿½
The main goal of this recent campaign in Ukraine is obvious: to convince Russia to lower prices for reactor fuel. Those in the Ukrainian atomic industry are not just interested in saving money for its own sake. The countryï¿½s authorities see its dependence on other nations for reactor fuel as a direct threat to national security. For this reason, one of the most important positions in the policy document, Ukraineï¿½s Energy Strategy until 2030, is a program to develop a Ukrainian domestic nuclear fuel cycle, or in other words, the entire atomic fuel production chain. This includes uranium ore mining and dressing, uranium hexafluoride production and enrichment, zirconium ore mining and dressing, zirconium alloy production, fuel assembly production, and finally fuel storage. Ukraine already has the capacity to do much of this and ranks sixth in the world and first in Europe in confirmed uranium deposits. Ukraine also has significant amounts of zirconium and facilities for dressing uranium and zirconium ores, as well as factories to produce zirconium rolled products. A fuel storage facility is currently under construction in the Zaporozhye region.
However, money for implementing this ambitious project is constantly short. Ukrainian experts estimate that the total cost of creating a full production cycle could come to almost a billion dollars. The program is supposed to be financed from Energoatomï¿½s profits. Due to the low rates charged for electricity generated by nuclear plants, as of June 1st 2003 the program lacked around $200 million in funding. Attempts to raise rates met strong opposition from Ukrainian manufacturers. It turns out that the only way to increase profitability in the industry and free up money to finance the new production cycle is to squeeze fuel and parts suppliers. Ukraine hopes to get Russia to back down today in order to be independent tomorrow.
2. LITHUANIA WILL BRING IRRADIATED NUCLEAR FUEL TO RUSSIA FOR TESTING
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The Research Institute of Nuclear Reactors in Dimitrovgrad, Russia's Ulyanovsk region (Volga Area) is expected to study the irradiated uranium fuel to be brought from Lithuania.
Russia will for the first time conduct research in this sphere for a European Union country, the institute's press service told RIA Novosti.
Four fuel assemblies that are 3.5 metres high, 80 millimetres in diameter and contain 2.4% of uranium each, will be brought from the Ignalinsk nuclear power plant. The project timeframe has not been revealed for security reasons.
"These are the assemblies of an RBMK industrial 1,500 MWt reactor with. Reactors of this type operate in Russia, and the institute has appropriate skills to deal with such assemblies," said the press service.
The fuel for the Ignalinsk plant was produced in Russia. Technical errors were registered at the plant and the reactor had to be switched off, and the assemblies removed, explained the institute.
"Lithuania laid a claim against Russia. However, Russia demanded an expert examination. There is no place in Europe to test the fuel without damaging the assembly, whereas the Dimitrovgrad institute has appropriate techniques. We will have to find out what causes assembly errors," said the press service.
The contract for the test was agreed on at the inter-government level. It was signed by the Russian and Lithuanian prime ministers, and an official from Belarus via which the assemblies will be transported to Russia, according to the institute.
Russia's first nuclear power plant with SVBR-75/100 reactor unit will go on line in the city of Novovoronezh (Voronezh region), says the web site of the Federal Nuclear Energy Agency. Earlier, such units powered Russian nuclear submarines and their new overland application will promote lump-sum solution of problems of nuclear power engineering.
Russian-developed modular multipurpose fast reactors SVBR-75/100 of 75 megawatts with lead-bismuth coolant provide a basically higher level of safety, experts say. Such a unit is loaded, instead of annually, once in seven to ten years. In combination with other characteristics, this enables "unlimited" service until the end of service life of concrete structures - 150 years. SVBR-75/100 fires different fuels, as well as utilizes weapon-grade and reactor plutonium, without changes in design.
The high consumer qualities of SVBR-75/100 will let Russia, until now holding monopoly of the technology, dominate on the high nuclear technologies market and largely broaden the export capabilities of the sector, noted Vladimir Rozin, head of the service ensuring the quality of nuclear power plants.
4. RUSSIA ASKS LITHUANIA NOT TO SHUT ITS IGNALINA NUCLEAR REACTOR
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The top management of major energy companies in Russia, Belarus, Estonia and Latvia (Unified Energy Systems (UES), Belenergo, Eesti Energia, and Latvenergo, respectively) have approached the Lithuanian government with a request that it should not shut down the Ignalina nuclear reactor until a thermal generating facility, with a projected power capacity of 450 megawatt, starts its operations in Kaliningrad, a Russian exclave on the Baltic Coast. They have forwarded their request to Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas, reports the Lietuvos Rytas newspaper.
According to Lietuvos Rytas, the construction of the new thermal generating facility in Kaliningrad is still ongoing; its launch is scheduled for November 2005. As for the Ignalina nuclear plant, Lithuania has been planning to shut it down at the end of this year-something the country committed itself to before it was admitted to the European Union.
Some time ago, Unified Energy Systems (UES), Belenergo, Eesti Energia, and Latvenergo agreed with Lithuanian counterparts that their power grids would be operating in conjunction, and the closure of the Ignalina reactor may disrupt the whole system.
UES spokespeople confirmed to RIA Novosti Tuesday that the company had indeed approached the Lithuanian government with such a request.
"To ensure smooth passage through the autumn and winter season, we deemed it necessary to approach the Lithuanian government, as we believe the extension of the Ignalina plant's operations will be pivotal to the normal functioning of the Baltic energy hub and to the parallel operating of UES and the power grid shared between the three Baltic countries" that used to be part of the Soviet Union, Tatyana Milyaeva, official spokeswoman for UES, said.
The Lietuvos Rytas newspaper, for its part, quotes reliable sources as reporting that already, Lithuanian authorities have been informally instructed to look out for arguments that would help convince Brussels of the need to prolong the Ignalina plant's operations. It should be allowed to run for at least another half-a-year, as long as there are guaranteed fuel supplies to keep it going, the newspaper says.
1. On the Granting of Political Asylum to Ilyas Akhmadov by US Authorities
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
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News of the coming into effect of the decision of Boston's immigration court on the granting of political asylum in the US to Ilyas Akhmadov, who calls himself "minister of foreign affairs of Ichkeria," has been received by the Russian MFA with profound disappointment. Nor can we fail to note that this outcome stems from the decision of the US Department of Homeland Security to recall the appeal filed earlier by it against the court's decision to grant Akhmadov political asylum. We had repeatedly approached the US side with well-grounded demands for the extradition of this accomplice of international terrorists on the Russian law enforcement agencies' most wanted list. It has to be stated with regret that these requests were finally ignored. In this connection we can only regard the decision to grant Akhmadov political asylum in the US as an obvious manifestation of double standards in questions of the fight against terrorism. Against this background, news of the receipt by Ilyas Akhmadov of a grant from the US Congress-financed National Endowment for Democracy sounds particularly cynical. Such actions in no way correspond to either the partner spirit of the Russian-US relationship or the task of jointly countering international terrorism.
2. CANADA HELPS RUSSIA DISMANTLE NUCLEAR SUBMARINES
Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade of Canada
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Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew today announced the signing of a $24.4-million agreement to assist Russia to dismantle its decommissioned nuclear submarines. The initiative is part of Canadaï¿½s $1-billion pledge under the G8-led Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction.
ï¿½Spent nuclear fuel in Russian submarine reactors presents an international security risk and an environmental threat to the Arctic and Barents Sea,ï¿½ said Mr. Pettigrew. ï¿½Funding this initiative is a key element of our international security agenda and a high priority for Canada under the G8 Global Partnership announced at Kananaskis.ï¿½
Russia currently has 56 retired nuclear submarines in the Barents Sea region awaiting disposal. Canadaï¿½s contribution will be to assist with the dismantlement of three Victor class nuclear submarines. Canada will be concluding at least three more similar annual agreements to support the dismantlement of 12 submarines at a total cost of approximately $116 million.
The recently concluded bilateral agreement between Canada and Russia provides the framework that governs Canada and Russiaï¿½s bilateral cooperation under the Global Partnership, and the dismantlement of decommissioned nuclear submarines is the first project under that agreement. This project complements Canadaï¿½s initial funding of $32 million for environmental remediation of Russiaï¿½s naval nuclear legacy via the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, previously announced by the Prime Minister in May 2003.
Canada now joins the United Kingdom, Norway, Japan, Germany and the U.S. in funding Russian nuclear submarine dismantlement activity. Germany is funding infrastructure to safeguard empty nuclear reactors that are left after the dismantlement and nuclear defueling process. Russia is the second-largest contributor to the Global Partnership, with US$2 billion, following the U.S. with US$10 billion.
3. CANADIAN SUPPORT FOR THE DISMANTLEMENT OF DECOMMISSIONED RUSSIAN NUCLEAR SUBMARINES
Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade of Canada
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The dismantlement of decommissioned Russian nuclear submarines was listed among the priority concerns enumerated by G8 leaders when they launched the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction at the 2002 G8 Summit in Kananaskis. Under the Global Partnership initiative, the G8 leaders undertook to raise up to US$20 billion to address a number of non-proliferation, disarmament, counterterrorism and nuclear safety issues, initially in Russia.
Canada, for its part, will contribute up to C$1 billion to the Global Partnership over 10 years. The first tranche of Canadian funding was announced in advance of the 2003 G8 Summit in Evian, and those projects are currently being developed and implemented. Included in this first announcement was a contribution to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) program to secure and safely store spent nuclear fuel and radioactive wastes removed from Russiaï¿½s Northern Fleet. The second series of projects, announced in 2004, includes over C$100 million for the dismantlement of decommissioned nuclear submarines in Russiaï¿½s North. This joint Canada-Russia project will involve dismantling three nuclear submarines per year over the next four years (for a total of 12 nuclear submarines). The conclusion of a bilateral agreement with Russia at the Sea Island G8 Summit enables Canada to conduct projects directly with Russia, and the submarine project is the first to be announced under that agreement.
The end of the Cold War arms race left Russia with a legacy of nearly 200 nuclear submarines in need of immediate dismantling. Over the past 10 years, Japan, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States have supported Russiaï¿½s submarine dismantlement process. However, much more now needs to be done by the international community to secure the nuclear fuel on these submarines from both terrorism and proliferation threats, in addition to removing the enormous threat these submarines pose to the fragile ecosystem of the Arctic basin. It is to reduce the threat of both terrorism and proliferation that G8 leaders identified the dismantlement of decommissioned nuclear submarines as a key priority under the Global Partnership.
Submarine dismantlement Dismantling decommissioned nuclear submarines is a lengthy and expensive process consisting of 14 broad steps as outlined below. The total cost of dismantling all of Russiaï¿½s decommissioned nuclear submarines will likely reach several billion dollars.
Canada and its partners In keeping with its commitment to increase global security, Canada is working bilaterally with Russia and multilaterally with its G8 and other interested partners to address the decommissioned nuclear submarine problem in an effective and coordinated manner. Canada is also cooperating with multilateral organizations such as the EBRD, where Canadaï¿½s contribution will help ensure that Russiaï¿½s nuclear fleet is safely dismantled and the resulting materials secured against potential terrorism or proliferation threats.
The largest contributor, the United States, is contributing US$10 billion over ten years. Russia is the second-largest contributor to the G8 Global Partnership, with a commitment of US$2 billion over the next 10 years. This is a concrete demonstration of Russiaï¿½s own commitment to this important global initiativeï¿½a true partnership.
Nuclear submarine dismantling steps/stages STEP/STAGE 1: Decommissioned submarine. The submarine is afloat at its navy base, and responsibility for the submarine rests with its naval crew. The submarine is out of service and has been identified for decommissioning. It is assumed to be at a site other than its intended dismantlement location for the purpose of this process evaluation.
STEP/STAGE 2: Surveillance and maintenance. The submarine is subject to ongoing security surveillance and monitoring by the naval base. This ongoing effort is intended to safely maintain the reactor and condition of the submarine until such time as it is transported for dismantlement.
STEP/STAGE 3: Preparation for transit. The submarine is prepared for transportation to the defuelling location. The development of a dismantlement plan is initiated while the ship is at the site of origin. As part of this process, the ship designer performs an inspection of the submarine to determine its transportation requirements (physical modifications or repairs, safety considerations, etc.). Maintenance and repairs required to safely effect transport of the submarine to the dismantlement location are made.
STEP/STAGE 4: Transportation. The submarine is moved to its defuelling location by a contracted non-military transportation company. For this evaluation, it is assumed that this move is to the submarineï¿½s final dismantlement location.
STEP/STAGE 5: Arrival and acceptance. The submarine arrives at the defuelling location. The shipyard accepts the submarine for defuelling and assumes all responsibility for the submarine.
STEP/STAGE 6: Preparations for defuelling. The submarine is prepared for defuelling. All equipment, personnel, supplies and infrastructure are put in place in preparation for this activity, and permission is obtained to start the defuelling process.
STEP/STAGE 7: Defuelling. The fuel is removed from the submarine by either a support ship or a fixed transfer station at the dock. The fuel can be loaded onto a service ship at the pier or moved to a storage container on the pier (stored for future transportation by ship or train). After the removal of the fuel, the submarine is no longer considered a nuclear submarine. This represents the start of the fuel handling cycle.
STEP/STAGE 8: Preparations for dismantlement. All of the equipment and support infrastructure for the dismantlement process is put in place. The dismantlement plan is used to direct this effort.
STEP/STAGE 9: Construction of three-compartment unit. The reactor compartment is separated in the form of a three-compartment unit. The fore and aft sections of the submarine are cut and removed to produce the reactor compartment unit. The fore and aft sections are moved away from the reactor compartment, leaving the remaining reactor compartment unit.STEP/STAGE 10: Generation and management of waste and product streams.
Steps 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 produce waste and product streams that require management, handling and disposition. These streams include spent nuclear fuel, scrap material, radioactive waste (solid and liquid) and non-radioactive waste (hazardous and non-hazardous). The following are the types of dismantlement products produced: insulation (asbestos, etc.); liquid radioactive waste, including chromium and other constituents; solid radioactive waste; organic wastes (fuels, oils, lubricants, tars, epoxy material, etc.); non-radioactive and non-toxic wastes (metals, pipes, precious, ferrous, non-ferrous materials, etc.); toxic wastes (leads, coating, PCBs); and support waste steams (contaminated laundry waste). The volume of waste generated from one submarine is approximately 1,000 cubic metres.
STEP/STAGE 11: Dismantlement of fore and aft compartments. The fore and aft compartments are separated from the reactor three-compartment unit. Dismantlement of the fore and aft compartments generates waste materials and scrap for resale (monies returned to Russian government).
STEP/STAGE 12: Segregation of waste and product streams. Waste and product streams are segregated for storage either on support ships or on shore. Material is sent to an interim storage location to undergo some initial treatment or volume reduction.
STEP/STAGE 13: Transport. The reactor compartment unit is prepared for waterborne transportation and interim storage. The three-compartment unit equipment is removed, and the compartments are sealed to permit flotation and interim waterborne storage. Radioactive waste generated during the dismantlement process is stored either on shore, on a support service ship or within the reactor compartment.
STEP/STAGE 14: Reactor compartment transportation. The reactor compartment is moved to an interim or final storage location and transferred to the Russian Federal Agency of Atomic Energy for long-term storage. (Note: Germany is building a long-term storage facility as its contribution to this important initiative.)
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