If suicide bombers come to America, they are likely to be carrying biological, chemical or nuclear weapons with them, according to an al-Qaida memo discovered by Pakistani authorities.
Pakistan President Pervez Musharaf, under heavy American pressure, has once again instructed his security and intelligence chiefs to focus on jihadi suicide volunteers ï¿½ this time because of a memo showing they will be used to carry weapons of mass destruction, reveals Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin.
The president, himself under the constant shadow of militants threatening to assassinate him, reacted to a coded memo discovered during a recent raid on pro-al-Qaida activists in Karachi, by sharing parts of the memo's alarming contents with friendly governments.
Topping the memo's list stands the U.S., although European countries are also specified as preferred targets. Unlike many other discoveries of terrorist documents, this memo has an added factor causing more than the usual concern.
In it are detailed a number of ideas and options for attacking the West with WMDs by using suicide volunteers.
Related to this memo is a Spanish decision, voiced by Interior Minister Antonio Alonzo, to assign close to 2,000 security agents to a training and deployment program on the danger of nuclear, chemical and bacteriological terror attacks.
Information from Russia passed on to the Pakistani intelligence and security service, following the disaster at the Beslan school, has contributed even more tension to the situation. The Russians claim many of the so-called Arab mujahedeen killed during the attack on the school had visited Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan on several occasions. Similar claims and information came from the U.K. where law-enforcement agencies are still in the midst of their recent anti-terror operation that began last month. Several of those apprehended in the U.K. are of Pakistani origin with strong ties to anti-Musharaf forces.
A well-connected source in Islamabad told Western diplomats the captured document included phrases not immediately and correctly analyzed. One such phrase says: "Aamaliat b'anika." It was later learned that "b'anika" actually means "Panica," or "panic," and "Aamaliat" means "operation." Experts on terror attempts to hit the U.S. with WMDs further analyzed the sentence and associated it to a 1968 Hollywood production titled "Panic in the City."
The movie describes in detail a terrorist plan to build a nuclear bomb by using easily available materials and working in the basement of a Los Angeles home. In the movie, an agent sacrifices his life to fly the bomb away from the city to the open ocean where it explodes, sparing Los Angeles.
Supporters of Osama bin Laden have said on numerous occasions their master had studied over the years a variety of Western fictional material, and it is quite possible this movie was one of the Hollywood productions he actually viewed. In recent years, several TV and movie productions dealt with similar scenarios, such as in the TV series "24" and the movie titled "The Sum of All Fears."
Interest in suicide bombers who may be carrying WMDs has increased since the discovery of the memo and evidence of a possible Pakistani terrorist connection to Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Egypt. Western intelligence agencies are convinced Pakistan is now the No. 1 producer of jihadi suicide candidates and that many of Pakistan's madrassas and militant mosques are hosting an ever-growing number of Muslim foreigners.
The presence of non-Pakistanis in the militant milieu of many mosques and religious schools, mostly those near and in the Peshawar region, is a reason for major concern. Recently Pakistani mullahs and imams have begun to describe suicide attacks in India in terms such as "a three-year success story," making it clear to their disciples suicide bombings are a morale booster to the larger Muslim world.
An Israeli intelligence officer, an expert on suicide bombing and recruitment methods for volunteers ready to die in the name of Allah, stated he believes suicide bombings will hit Europe and the Americas much sooner than previously expected. Pro-al-Qaida agitators are now active in many pockets inside Muslim immigrant communities around the world where candidates are being selected and tactics of recruiting jihadi suicide bombers have been changed. In most cases volunteers are no longer sent to be trained in Pakistan or other so-called sympathetic environments. More often than not the entire training, indoctrination and brainwashing process is now undertaken within the target countries. On the other hand, friendly and accessible Pakistani scientists remain the main attraction for terrorists seeking nuclear know-how.
The growing number of young Muslim converts ready to act in their own countries is alarming. A U.S. official commented lately on the difficulty of identifying homegrown youth as candidates for evil. Similar statements were echoed by a growing number of law-enforcement officials in the U.S. and Europe who say they have great difficulties in understanding who-is-who in Muslim communities.
Three years after 9/11, there is no consensus on whether we are safer. But presidents and would-be presidents, along with a raft of experts, agree on one thing.
The greatest danger is that Islamic terrorists will steal or acquire a nuclear warhead or the highly enriched uranium to construct a crude device. They would smuggle the weapon into a city and explode it, potentially killing hundreds of thousands of people.
Given that threat, I posed a question to a wide range of experts on nuclear terrorism, some of whom have served in senior government posts.
Imagine, I said, that terrorists set off a nuclear weapon in some Western city. The president immediately convenes a national security council meeting and asks, before any hard data is in, what are the most likely sources for the weapon.
Two suspects topped all lists -- Russia and Pakistan. Others making most lists included North Korea and former Soviet republics such as Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine.
Russia's vast arsenal of nuclear weapons and its scattered stores of bomb-quality uranium and plutonium are vulnerable to theft and terrorist assault.
Two years ago I investigated Russia's arsenal of thousands of tactical nuclear weapons. These are smaller bombs to blow up bridges or fit in artillery shells, many of them portable enough to fit in the trunk of a compact car.
I was able to literally walk through a hole in the wall of the command headquarters of the unit that guards all of Russia's nuclear weapons. Unchallenged, I wandered a base where security equipment, including armored trains to transport warheads, is stored and repaired. I did not come away with a good feeling about the state of Russian security.
Pakistan represents a different challenge. Abdul Qadeer Khan, the man who built Pakistan's bomb, turned out to be the leading global nuclear black marketeer, selling warhead designs and equipment to Libya, Iran, North Korea and who knows who else.
``Pakistan is a shaky state in which a substantial number of people in the army and intelligence services have serious ideological ties to Al-Qaida,'' says Harvard's Graham Allison, author of the chilling new book ``Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe.''
North Korea, which may have a handful of nuclear warheads, is a less likely potential terrorist source. The North Koreans might, however, be willing to sell nuclear material to the black market.
More dangerous, but less publicized, are research reactors with stores of highly enriched uranium. Some 20 countries have more than a bomb's worth of material at such sites. The most vulnerable are in former Soviet republics.
Al-Qaida's desire to get a hold of enriched uranium is well-documented. If they succeed, ``we have significantly underestimated the ease of manufacturing a crude but effective nuclear weapon,'' warns the Monterey Institute's William Potter, co-author of a new book on ``The Four Faces of Nuclear Terrorism.''
I asked the experts a second question -- does the allocation of counter-terrorism resources reflect their list of likely nuclear suspects?
The universal answer was a loud no.
Programs to secure bomb-grade material in Russia and to upgrade security at weapons storage sites have either stalled or remained at pre-9/11 levels.
``In the two years after 9/11, fewer potential nuclear weapons have been secured in Russia than in the two years before,'' says Allison, a former senior defense official.
Pakistan's cooperation is highly limited -- U.S. officials have not even been allowed to directly question Khan.
The Department of Energy has spearheaded a new initiative to gather up stores of enriched uranium around the world. But ``outside the DOE, I don't have the impression that the Bush administration recognizes the urgency of the problem,'' says Potter.
Why isn't more being done? One reason is denial -- not only here but also in Russia. Many experts downplay the ability of Islamic terrorists to build a bomb or to steal one.
The 9/11 Commission report talks of ``the failure of imagination'' on the part of our law enforcement and intelligence community to grasp that threat. When it comes to nuclear terrorism, the same ``failure'' is at work today.
This month's hostage tragedy in Russia is a stark reminder of the potent terrorist threat that country still faces -- a threat that could result in a nuclear Sept. 11 if terrorists manage to gain access to Russia's nuclear stockpiles.
Unfortunately, the recent claim by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov that inadequately secured nuclear stockpiles in Russia are only a "myth" is far from the truth. There has been a decade of improvements in Russia, but the work remains dangerously incomplete and the threat to nuclear facilities is terrifyingly high. While many of the best-known thefts of nuclear material occurred a decade ago, it was only last year that the chief of Russia's nuclear agency testified that nuclear security was underfunded by hundreds of millions of dollars. At nearly every site U.S. experts visit, they reach quick agreement with Russian experts on the need for substantial security upgrades. Russia's decision to send additional troops to guard nuclear facilities in the wake of the most recent terrorist attacks belies the notion that these facilities were adequately secured before. Moreover, that heightened troop presence is not likely to last and will do little to reduce the danger of theft by insiders.
Meanwhile, terrorists are zeroing in on these nuclear stockpiles. Top Russian officials have confirmed at least two cases in 2001 of terrorists carrying out reconnaissance at Russian nuclear warhead storage sites. The 41 heavily armed, suicidal terrorists who seized hundreds of hostages at a Moscow theater in 2002 reportedly considered seizing the Kurchatov Institute instead -- a site with enough highly enriched uranium (HEU) for dozens of nuclear weapons. In 2003 proceedings in a Russian criminal case revealed that a Russian businessman had been offering $750,000 for stolen weapon-grade plutonium for sale to a foreign client. Al Qaeda has been actively seeking nuclear material for a bomb and has strong connections to Chechen terrorist groups.
Comprehensive U.S.-funded security upgrades have been completed for only 22 percent of Russia's potential nuclear bomb material; upgrades for tens of thousands of bombs' worth of material are still incomplete. Disputes over access to sensitive sites, liability, and other bureaucratic and political obstacles have been allowed to stymie progress for years.
This is a global problem. More than 130 research reactors in dozens of countries still operate with HEU fuel, and many have no more security than a night watchman and a chain-link fence. Pakistan's heavily guarded nuclear stockpiles face huge threats, from both insiders and outsiders, including large remnants of al Qaeda and the Taliban in the country.
The good news is that this is a solvable problem. Plutonium and HEU -- the essential ingredients of nuclear weapons -- are too difficult for terrorists to make. If the world's stockpiles can be locked down and kept out of terrorist hands, nuclear terrorism can be prevented.
Many of the needed programs are in place. In addition to continuing efforts to secure Russia's stockpiles, the administration has been exploring similar cooperation with Pakistan and others -- and Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham has just launched a Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) designed to remove potential bomb material entirely from the world's most vulnerable sites rapidly.
Three steps are urgently needed if the world is to win the race to lock down these stockpiles before the terrorists get to them.
First, it will be crucial to implement GTRI as quickly, flexibly and comprehensively as possible -- with a target of removing potential bomb material from the world's highest-risk facilities within four years. Congress should give Abraham both the explicit and flexible authority and the additional funds he needs.
Second, the United States and Russia must drastically accelerate their efforts to secure Russia's stockpiles. The next U.S.-Russian summit should focus on agreements to sweep aside bureaucratic and political obstacles and set an agreed deadline for getting the job done. President Bush needs to make clear to Russian President Vladimir Putin that locking down these stockpiles quickly and permanently is central to U.S.-Russian relations and to Russia's own security.
Third, the United States must expand the security upgrade effort to the rest of the world, forming a fast-paced global partnership to quickly lock down all the vulnerable nuclear caches that cannot simply be removed or eliminated.
Making all this happen will require a sea change in the level of sustained White House leadership, no matter who is president. A full-time senior official is needed -- one who has the president's ear -- to lead the myriad efforts in many agencies meant to block the terrorist pathway to the bomb. This official must also keep the issue on the front burner at the White House day in and day out. Only then will we have done all we should to reduce the risk of a nuclear Sept. 11.
4. Loose nukes scare security officials: Experts worry about 'nightmare scenario' if material proliferates
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Krasnoyarsk 26 is a rusted Soviet nuclear plant, one of hundreds of Cold War relics that could lead to Homeland Security's worst nightmare ï¿½ a nuclear bomb, hidden in a terrorist's backpack like the one depicted in the movie, "The Peacemaker."
Hollywood fantasy? Not hardly, say experts like former Senator Sam Nunn.
"The bottom line is our leaders have not focused and made this a top priority," says Nunn.
Government reports have repeatedly painted an alarming picture. Russia has enough nuclear material "in forms attractive to theft" to build 40,000 bombs. It's stored at hundreds of buildings in 40 sites around Russia.
But the Bush administration's top weapons expert says the Russians are doing a good job. "The Russians themselves know their vulnerability to terrorist groups as the Chechens have proven again and again," says Undersecretary of State John Bolton.
But a nuclear watchdog group says fewer than one-quarter of Russia's nuclear weapons plants are secure.
Who would steal this stuff?
In 1998, Osama bin Laden said: "This is a duty on the Muslims to possess a nuclear bomb. And Chechen rebels who took over a Moscow theater in 2002 said their first target was a nuclear facility. Experts say there is an easy solution ï¿½ buy Russia's loose nukes and bring them to the U.S.
"This is a preventable catastrophe," says nuclear expert Graham Allison of Harvard University. "There's a finite list of things that we could do, that if we did them ï¿½ this wouldn't happen." One successful operation in 1994 code-named Project Sapphire spirited 1,200 pounds of uranium from Kazakhstan to Tennessee.
But another "quick fix" is on hold ï¿½ detectors to safeguard Russian warheads were bought, but never installed. Why? Arguments between Moscow and Washington over who will pay, and obstacles from congressional hard-liners.
"Until all the material is secure at every site, this is going to be a subject of worry for me, for our government leadership and for the president," says Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham.
And what if a terrorist did try to smuggle nuclear material into the U.S.? Congress has set aside $35 million to build a super Geiger counter that could detect it, even on a huge ship. But sponsors say, in spite of the continuing threat, that money still has not been spent.
One thing that hasn't changed much in Russia since Soviet days is the tendency of high officials to cover up when disaster strikes.
So it was with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and the Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1986. So it was with President Vladimir Putin and the loss of the submarine Kursk in 2000. So it was in the first days after the schoolhouse massacre in southern Russia.
While Russian television was told to go easy on the grim footage from Beslan, officials were understating the death toll and overstating the effectiveness of the special forces deployed to end the confrontation.
When President Putin finally came out of his shell on Saturday to deal with rapidly growing popular anger, he went on television to say, "This crime of the terrorists, inhuman, unprecedented in terms of its cruelty" represents the "direct intervention of international terrorism against Russia."
He did not acknowledge that the hostage-takers had demanded an end to the war in Chechnya. It was clearly in Putin's interest to represent the assault as connected with international terrorism rather than a homegrown liberation movement.
With his regime as close to destabilization as it has been in his five years in office, Putin was reaching out to the West, and especially the United States, for support in his crisis. In his television speech, Putin alluded to fears abroad of a Russian nuclear threat that "must be removed."
The US has reason to worry about an unstable Russia. According to Harvard professor Graham Allison in a new book, "Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe," 90 percent of all fissile material outside the US is stored in the former Soviet Union. And, because of its huge supplies, its shaky safeguards, and its extensive corruption, Russia poses the greatest threat of loose nukes.
The Nunn-Lugar program designed to help finance the removal of Russian nuclear weapons has not been faring well under the Bush administration. But Bush officials might want to have another look at the danger of Russia's loose nukes in an unstable country.
1. U.S. Should Reassess Support for Programs to Address Aging Russian Nuclear Submarines, GAO Report Says
Global Security Newswire
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As U.S.-funded WMD threat reduction projects advance toward completion in Russia, Washingtonï¿½s participation in the Arctic Military Environmental Cooperation program ought to be reassessed, the Government Accountability Office concluded in a report released yesterday.
Norway, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States participate in the multilateral effort to reduce the environmental effects of Russiaï¿½s arctic military activities, particularly Russiaï¿½s aging fleet of nuclear-powered submarines.
The U.S. Defense Department, in a 1999 program plan submitted to Congress, stated that AMEC projects would support the goals of U.S. threat reduction programs, specifically efforts to dismantle Russian ballistic missile submarines. The congressional auditors found, however, that only one of eight AMEC projects supported the threat reduction goals.
The environmental cooperation program is heading in a new direction that represents a significant expansion from its original charter, the report states. Moreover, AMEC officials have not adequately justified expanding the program to secure spent nuclear fuel and other material and to address security problems at Russian shipyards, naval bases, support vessels, and other facilities associated with the dismantlement process.
The U.S. Defense Department, which is responsible for U.S. projects aimed at securing nuclear materials in Russia, told GAO investigators that spent nuclear fuel and other associated radioactive materials from Russiaï¿½s nuclear submarines do not pose a high-priority security threat and that the department would not fund any new initiatives in this area.
The report also identifies AMEC member countriesï¿½ financial contributions to the program. From the programï¿½s establishment in 1996 to April 2004, member countries contributed about $56 million to the effort. The United States has been the largest contributor, providing about $31 million, or 56 percent of the total.
However, the GAO found that the overall U.S. contribution decreased from fiscal 1999 to fiscal 2004, as U.S.-funded projects were completed and as other AMEC member countries increased assistance.
The GAO report recommends that the defense secretary, in consultation with the secretaries of Energy and State, reassess further U.S. involvement in the program.
1. Russian, U.S. bases in Kyrgyzstan not to trigger rivalry - Kyrgyz president
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The deployment of Russian and American military bases in Kyrgyzstan does not trigger rivalry but promotes cooperation, particularly in the fight against terrorism, Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev said when presenting his new book "Optimistic about the Future. Thinking about the Foreign Policy and World Order" in Moscow on Monday.
"The territory of Kyrgyzstan will never become a scene of rivalry between the two great nations [Russia and the United States - Interfax], it will be a scene of cooperation," he said.
Nearly six decades after American scientists led by Robert Oppenheimer detonated the world's first nuclear device in the White Sands desert south of here, the U.S. has come to another important turning point in its long relationship with nuclear arms.
Congress this session will take up the question of whether the U.S. should continue its post-Cold War policy of lowering its military nuclear profile or instead embrace a new Bush administration program to research and develop a family of tactical nuclear weapons intended for use against terrorist enclaves and hostile nations.
The Bush plan initially was expected to sail through the Republican-controlled Congress, but it has foundered at least temporarily because of bipartisan opposition on a key appropriations subcommittee headed by Rep. David Hobson (R-Ohio).
"What worries me most about the robust penetrator," Hobson said at a recent National Academy of Sciences symposium, referring to one of the weapons under consideration, "is that some idiot might try to use it."
In marked contrast to its Senate counterpart, led by nuclear arms champion Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), Hobson's subcommittee has eliminated all funding for Bush's new nuclear arms program as proposed in an Energy Department spending bill.
The Bush White House wants Congress to appropriate $27.6million for the "robust nuclear earth penetrator" or "bunker buster" bomb in the new fiscal year, along with $9 million for tactical nuclear weapons research and $30 million to prepare for resumption of atomic testing. The fiscal year begins Oct. 1.
Congressional authorization for these programs was approved by the House and Senate. But because the Department of Energy runs the nuclear weapons programs, the spending bills securing the money must go through the two energy appropriations subcommittees instead of the more hawkish defense appropriations subcommittees.
The Senate subcommittee approved the funding. But in the House, Hobson's panel eliminated funding for the new weapons, instead increasing money for dismantling of nuclear weapons and nuclear lab security. Now a conference committee must try to work out a compromise.
Among the proposed devices would be "advanced concept" nuclear weaponry that could include lower-yield, tactical nuclear munitions such as those the U.S. once stockpiled in case of a Soviet invasion of Western Europe. Tactical nuclear weapons are short-range, have less fallout and are intended for battlefield use, as opposed to the mass destruction of "strategic" missile warheads deployed essentially as deterrents to enemy nuclear attack.
Among the most controversial of the weapons contemplated is the bunker buster, which could be used against suspected underground enemy weapons labs or the subterranean redoubts of terrorists and leaders of enemy nations.
The administration argues that the funding is needed to determine whether such weapons would be feasible and to provide this president or his successors with new options for confronting threats. For now, the money would be only for research, the administration says.
"We're not going to restart the arms race," said Linton Brooks, administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, which runs U.S. nuclear weapons programs. "We're not going to resume nuclear testing. We're not going to develop any new missiles."
But critics fear that the weapons' relatively limited radioactive fallout, coupled with the "pre-emptive war" doctrine adopted by the Bush administration, might invite the first hostile use of nuclear weapons since atom bombs were dropped on Japan in 1945.
Opponents also assert that U.S. development of new nuclear weapons would prompt other nations to do the same, provoking a new arms race at a time when the U.S. is urging North Korea and Iran to halt their nuclear programs.
"The international credibility of the U.S. is already in tatters," said Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.). "Now the Bush administration wants to continue pursuing new kinds of nuclear weapons like the nuclear bunker buster while simultaneously telling other countries not to. That's like preaching temperance from a bar stool."
Russians air concerns
During a recent visit to the U.S., Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov voiced similar concerns.
"We are pretty well aware of those plans, and we sometimes discuss those plans during frank discussions with members of the Pentagon," Ivanov said. "We take those plans with a high degree of caution and prudence. This could be a case of letting the genie out of the bottle."
But Brooks, the National Nuclear Security Administration chief, said the money at this point would fund nothing more deadly than preliminary studies. He decried "unfortunate rhetoric--some on the Hill and some elsewhere--that suggests this is some bad new nuclear arms race, some effort to lower the nuclear threshold."
At a recent briefing, Brooks said he expects presidents to take nuclear warfare seriously no matter what the weapon.
"I think that crossing the nuclear threshold remains one of the most awesome decisions any president will ever make, and I don't know that anything we're doing will make that any easier a decision," he said. "What we're doing is trying to preserve options, that if a future president decides we need some capability to deter, we'll have the technical wherewithal to do it."
Markey and others counter that the White House's five-year spending plans for the bunker buster call for funding of nearly a half-billion dollars--enough to carry the weapon into the development stage.
Brooks painted a picture of the weapon as potentially playing a vital part in deterrence.
"We want, in some hypothetical future confrontation with a hypothetical generic dictator, to make it absolutely clear that he doesn't have an invulnerable sanctuary," Brooks said. "We can take this energy [the robust nuclear earth penetrator] and hole it. . . . We can do it while minimizing, not eliminating, collateral damage, and therefore you should not believe you have any sanctuary."
At their peak, the U.S. and Soviet Union each had more than 30,000 warheads, but both stockpiles have declined significantly, starting in 1965.
Up to 2,200 warheads left
According to Joseph Martz, deputy director of Los Alamos National Laboratory's Applied Physics (X) Division, the exact number of deployed American warheads is classified, but the official estimate is 1,700 to 2,200.
The Los Alamos lab controls about 80 percent of the U.S. stockpile, which contains a mix of seven types of bombs and missile warheads belonging to the Air Force and the Navy.
"We had 27 different deployed systems in the 1970s," Martz said.
Relatively low-radiation tactical nuclear weapons are nothing new. The U.S. for years depended on the "Atomic Annie" or "Atomic Cannon"--155 mm howitzers and long-range 8-inch field guns equipped with shells containing nuclear warheads--as a deterrent and last-ditch defensive weapon against a Soviet invasion of Western Europe.
But U.S. stockpiles of atomic artillery shells were ordered destroyed by President George H.W. Bush in 1991, and the last one was dismantled last year. The Davy Crockett missile, an atomic weapon launched from a Jeep, also has been discontinued.
Plans call for conversion of the B-61 nuclear gravity bomb for use as a "bunker-busting" penetrator. Brooks describes this not as creating a new nuclear weapon but as providing an existing weapon with a new capability.
The penetrator has sparked controversy not only because of fears that it could be misused or trigger a new arms race but also because it is not clear how effective it would be. According to a report by the Congressional Research Service, even high-yield nuclear weapons might not work against a deeply buried, hardened bunker.
And as critics point out, low-yield tactical weapons produce some radioactive fallout. A U.S. nuclear attack on an enemy bunker situated near a populated area could cause a tremendous number of casualties.
In a report from the Monterey Institute of International Studies, Princeton University physicist Robert Nelson warned: "A 1 kiloton earth-penetrating `mini-nuke' used in a typical Third World urban environment [such as Baghdad] would spread a lethal dose of radioactive fallout over several square kilometers, resulting in tens of thousands of civilian fatalities."
Tactical nuclear weapons have a destructive power ranging from .1 kiloton, the equivalent of 100 tons of TNT, to 1 megaton, or 1 million tons of TNT. The atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima had a force roughly equivalent to 12,000 tons of TNT.
Tactical nuclear weapons are not covered by any nuclear arms treaty. The U.S. began eliminating such weapons under the first President Bush, and the Soviet Union followed.
The plan now advanced by the White House would remove a congressionally imposed 1993 ban on research into new tactical nuclear weapons.
Underground testing of nuclear weapons was halted more than a decade ago; the Bush plan also calls for an increased readiness program that would permit the U.S. to restart nuclear testing within 18 months.
3. Russian, U.S. diplomats discussing nonproliferation
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Russian and U.S. diplomats began consultations on nonproliferation issues in Geneva on Friday, a source told Interfax.
"These consultations, which began in Geneva at noon Moscow time, are being chaired by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak and U.S. Under Secretary of State John Bolton. The agenda for their meeting involves a wide range of nonproliferation issues," the source said.
Kislyak said in an earlier interview with Interfax that he and Bolton would hold these consultations as part of a meeting of high- ranking G8 representatives, the main session of which is taking place in Geneva on Friday.
"My U.S. counterpart and I will discuss the whole range of issues of bilateral relations, including all non-proliferation issues," he said.
1. IRANIAN PRESIDENT AFFIRMS NUCLEAR COOPERATION WITH RUSSIA
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President Khatami said on 12 September in Dushanbe that Iran will continue its nuclear-energy cooperation with Russia despite pressure from a "third party," ITAR-TASS reported. Khatami was apparently referring to U.S. objections to Russia's role in the construction of Iran's Bushehr nuclear power station. Khatami added, "Following my visit to Moscow, the Iranian side has been assured of the continuation of cooperation, including the construction of the Bushehr nuclear power station."
The radiation level in southern Primorye is within normal index of 11 to 13 micro roentgens per hour, civil defense and emergency situations officials reported, saying they carry out daily checks to monitor the situation after two powerful explosions blasted in North Korean northern province, about 400 kilometers away from Vladivostok.
Primorye's Meteorological Center is carrying out the analyses of atmosphere and precipitation, as of Tuesday no alarm information was reported.
Media sources worldwide reported a huge explosion that rocked North Korea's northern inland province of Ryanggang on September 9, triggering a mushroom-shaped cloud spreading about four kilometers. American and South Korean officials said the blasts are not likely linked to a nuclear test.
North Korean authorities in their official statement on Monday revealed the blasts were performed to demolish a mountainside at a construction site of a new electricity station. The country's authorities allowed western diplomats to inspect the site, Russian television channel Rossiya reported.
2. Seoul believes dialog with Russia on N Korea nuke prob important
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Seoul attaches ï¿½great significance to the dialogue with Moscow on regional security including the North Korean nuclear problem,ï¿½ South Korean Deputy Information Minister Yu Je-wun told Itar-Tass on Tuesday. He is on a working visit in Moscow for the preparations of the upcoming Russian-Korean summit.
According to Yu Je-wun, ï¿½the situation on the Korean peninsula will be prioritized at the summit.ï¿½ ï¿½Russia actively participates in the Korean settlement. We proceed from the assumption that its role at the six-sided talks will grow,ï¿½ he emphasized.
ï¿½We are equally interested in the granting of the nuclear-free status to the peninsula and the soonest normalization of the situation in the region on the whole,ï¿½ the deputy information minister pointed out. ï¿½The achievement of this goal through talks would open a road to the accelerated development of the Far East and whole Northeast Asia. The leadership of South Korea and Russia share this approach,ï¿½ Yu Je-wun indicated.
He voiced the hope that the Moscow summit ï¿½will provide new possibilities for further expansion of business ties and the implementation of big projects in the field of energy, modern technologies and space exploration.ï¿½ ï¿½The interaction in these fields meets the interests of the countries and have good prospects,ï¿½ Yu Je-wun remarked.
Iraq has been examining the prospect of procuring weapons and defense systems from Russia.
Iraqi officials said the Defense Ministry has been reviewing offers from Russia's defense industry to equip Iraq's military and security forces. The officials said the offers included new equipment and upgrades.
"The Iraqi military will contain mostly Soviet-origin weapons and systems so it is natural that we will look for support over the next few years," an Iraqi official said.
In September, Russia lifted a 13-year-old embargo from Iraq. Moscow said it would encourage Russian defense firms to market equipment to the new Iraqi military and security forces.
1. Secret Mission to Recover Highly Enriched Uranium in Uzbekistan Successful
Department of Energy
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Eleven kilograms of enriched uranium fuel, including highly enriched uranium (HEU) that could be used for nuclear weapons, were safely returned to Russia from Uzbekistan in a secret mission conducted by the United States, Uzbekistan, and Russia, U.S. Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham announced today. The mission was completed September 9, 2004.
ï¿½The recovery, return and eventual elimination of this highly enriched uranium are an important milestone in our campaign to reduce this dangerous material worldwide,ï¿½ Secretary Abraham said. ï¿½It was only with the strong cooperation of the Uzbeks and Russians that we were able to successfully complete this important international security mission.ï¿½
The highly enriched uranium was airlifted under guard from an airport near Tashkent, Uzbekistan to a secured facility in Dmitrovgrad, Russia. There, the uranium will be down-blended to low enriched uranium.
The nuclear fuel assemblies were originally supplied to Uzbekistan for use in the Russian-designed 10 megawatt VVR-SM multi-purpose research reactor, located near the Uzbekistan capital, Tashkent.
During the 1-day mission, approximately 11 kilograms of enriched uranium nuclear fuel, including HEU, were loaded into two specialized transportation containers provided by the Russian Federation. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards inspectors and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) technical experts were present in Uzbekistan to monitor the process of loading the fuel into the canisters.
The facility in Russia that received the material has worked closely with the United States to implement security upgrades under the Bush Administrationï¿½s U.S.-Russian Material, Protection, Control and Accounting Program. Along with a decision to return the uranium to Russia, the Uzbekistan government also has made a decision to convert the VVR-SM research reactor to use low enriched uranium fuel, furthering our nuclear nonproliferation goals.
The mission was conducted under the Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI), outlined by Secretary Abraham before the International Atomic Energy Agency in May 2004.
On February 11, 2004, President Bush stated in a speech at the National Defense University that the greatest risk to the United States or anywhere else in the world is the possibility of a nuclear, radiological, chemical or biological terrorist attack. The U.S. Department of Energy has several ongoing efforts to combat this threat. In the latest step to increase effectiveness in preventing nuclear and radiological materials from falling into the hands of terrorists or other rogue actors, Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham announced the Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI).
The mission of the GTRI is to remove and/or secure high-risk nuclear and radiological materials and equipment around the world that pose a threat to the United States and to the international community. This initiative will comprehensively address all vulnerable nuclear and radiological materials throughout the world and secure and/or remove these materials and equipment of concern as expeditiously as possible.
ï¿½The Bush Administration continues to take the lead in implementing nonproliferation programs to benefit the international community,ï¿½ Secretary Abraham said. ï¿½I applaud the efforts of Uzbekistan for its cooperation with the United States, Russian Federation, and the IAEA under the Global Threat Reduction Initiative to reduce the threat of nuclear proliferation by returning HEU to Russia.ï¿½
ï¿½Our Administration has realized significant nonproliferation accomplishments including the breakup of the A.Q. Khan network and Libyaï¿½s decision to give-up its nuclear weapons program and work with us to remove its equipment,ï¿½ Abraham said.
This is the fifth successful shipment of uranium being returned to Russia. In the past year, DOE has repatriated a total of 48 kg of HEU fuel to Russia from Romania, Bulgaria and Libya. And, in August 2002, 48 kg of Russian-origin HEU were repatriated from a research reactor near Belgrade, Serbia.
Next week, Abraham said the United States and Russia will be hosting more than 300 participants at the GTRI International Partnersï¿½ Conference. The International Partnersï¿½ Conference will focus international attention on efforts to secure vulnerable nuclear and radiological material that pose a threat to the international community.
Some supporters of "multilateralism" prefer to talk about its glories in the abstract rather than take action in the here and now. The Bush administration's nonproliferation policies fall into the latter category. Rather than rely on cumbersome treaty-based bureaucracies, this administration has launched initiatives that involve cooperative action with other sovereign states to deny rogue nations and terrorists access to the materials and know-how needed to develop weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Our policies show that robust use of the sovereign authorities we and our allies possess can produce real results.
The Bush administration is reinventing the nonproliferation regime it inherited, crafting policies to fill gaping holes, reinforcing earlier patchwork fixes, assembling allies, creating precedents and changing perceived realities and stilted legal thinking. The front lines in our nonproliferation strategy must extend beyond the well-known rogue states to the trade routes and entities engaged in supplying proliferant countries. This can properly be described not as "nonproliferation," but as "counterproliferation." To accomplish this, we are making more robust use of existing authorities, including sanctions, interdiction and credible export controls. Most importantly, we have taken significant steps to improve coordination between sovereign states to act against proliferators.
As we learned from the unraveling of the clandestine nuclear weapons network run by [Pakistani nuclear engineer] A.Q. Khan, and from the Libyan WMD program, proliferators employ increasingly sophisticated and aggressive measures to obtain WMD or missile-related materials. They rely heavily on front companies and illicit brokers in their quest for arms, equipment, sensitive technology and dual-use goods.
In his September 2003 speech to the United Nations General Assembly, George W. Bush proposed that the Security Council pass a resolution calling on member states to criminalize WMD proliferation, enact export controls and secure sensitive materials within their borders. The resulting Security Council Resolution 1540, unanimously adopted, achieved the president's goals. Rather than requiring years negotiating treaties and creating elaborate institutions, Resolution 1540 rests on the notion that sovereign states are responsible for writing and implementing laws closing the loopholes exploited by black market WMD networks.
Among the most prominent of this administration's counterproliferation innovations is the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI). We say that PSI is "an activity, not an organization," in this case an activity designed to halt trafficking in WMD, their delivery systems and related materials. In developing PSI, our main goal has been a simple one: to enable practical cooperation among states to help navigate this increasingly challenging arena. The initiative focuses on enhancing states' operational capabilities in the intelligence, military and law enforcement arenas. More than 60 countries gathered in Poland just over a month ago to mark PSI's one-year anniversary -- and some notable successes.
The interception, in cooperation with the U.K., Germany, and Italy, of the BBC China, a vessel loaded with nuclear-related components, helped convince Libya that the days of undisturbed accumulation of WMD were over, and helped unravel A.Q. Khan's network.
Another important administration initiative is the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction, launched by the Group of Eight [G8] at its June 2002 summit. Here again, this effort relies on the commitments of sovereign states acting separately and in concert to secure sensitive materials. Like PSI, the Global Partnership is an activity, not an organization. The G8 leaders and 13 additional partners have pledged to raise up to $20 billion (=A311.3bn) over 10 years for projects to prevent dangerous weapons and materials from falling in to the wrong hands.
The U.S. already has nonproliferation projects under way not only in Russia but in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Georgia, and other former Soviet states, as do other Global Partnership countries. We recently began assistance in Iraq and Libya, and are encouraging our partners to undertake their own projects in such states. At Sea Island this year, the G8 agreed to use the Global Partnership to coordinate activities in these areas.
This administration is working to make up for decades of stillborn plans, wishful thinking and irresponsible passivity. We're already late, but we are no longer bystanders wringing our hands and hoping that somehow we will find shelter from gathering threats. We are no longer lost in endless international negotiations whose point seems to be negotiation rather than decision, and no longer waiting beneath the empty protection of a reluctant international body while seeking grudging permission to take measures to protect ourselves.
President Bush has begun laying the foundation for a comprehensive, root-and-branch approach to the mortal danger of the proliferation of instruments intended for our destruction. We are determined to use every resource at our disposal -- using diplomacy regularly, economic pressure when it makes a difference, active law enforcement when appropriate and military force when we must.
We are just at the beginning, but it is an extraordinary beginning. Not only are we meeting this ultimate of threats on the field, we are advancing on it, battling not only aggressively, but successfully. And so we must, for the outcome of this battle may hold nothing less than the chance to survive.
3. G8 Senior Group Meeting: John R. Bolton, Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, Press Conference at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations (excerpted)
Department of State
(for personal use only)
QUESTION: Can we come back to the disarmament initiatives which are now completely jettisoned at Geneva? Namely, what does the U.S. think about the Russian and Chinese proposal on PAROS [Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space], where does it stand? Does the opposition continue as it is, or is there a change?
UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: We are not prepared to negotiate on the so-called arms race in outer space. We just don't see that as a worthwhile enterprise.
QUESTION: Did you discuss with Russia the fact that I believe it is helping Iran build a nuclear plant? Did you discuss this issue? Did you discuss your dismay, or has Russia allayed your dismay about this?
UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: Well, we have had many discussions about the Bushehr nuclear power plant over the years, and in particular we have urged Russia not to ship the fresh fuel for the Bushehr power plant until all of the questions about Iran's nuclear weapons program have been resolved. And in fact, for over two years now, that nuclear fuel has remained in Russia and not gone to Iran. And I think it is some indication of the seriousness with which the Russians treat the Iranian nuclear program. You may have seen President Putin's statement at Sochi a week or so ago when he said they do not accept that Iran should become a member of the nuclear club. I think that is another reflection of the depth of the feeling and the strength of the shared objective that we all have that Iran should not achieve a nuclear weapons capability. Why don't I take one or two more [questions].
QUESTION: It is a little off this, but terrorist attacks are growing, horrible ones, in Russia. Did you also discuss the leaky nuclear facilities which exist in any of the former Republics and in Russia itself in terms of strengthening those facilities so that in fact nuclear fuel doesn't
UNDER SECRETARY BOLTON: Well, that's in effect what the Global Partnership is, a continuation of the Nunn-Lugar and other American and other programs that over the past ten or twelve years have expended billions of dollars in an effort to safeguard Russian nuclear weapons, dismantle ballistic missile facilities, and destroy chemical weapons and the like. I think if you ask the Russians they would say that the risk of a loose nuke in Russia is far greater to them than it is to anyone else. And I think the recent tragedy at Beslan is a good example of the risk that they fully understand: that if terrorist groups are capable of carrying out that kind of operation, how much more horrible it would be if such a terrorist group got a nuclear weapon. I don't think we are aware of any situation where Russia has lost command and control over a warhead. Now, I want to say that it is a problem not just in Russia, but worldwide -- that radiological sources of less than weapons-grade radioactive material have not been protected in pre-September 11 days the way they should be now. We have major initiatives that President Bush has launched. That'll be carried through in part the week after next in Vienna: the Global Threat Reduction Initiative that the U.S. and Russia are cosponsoring, this is something that on a worldwide basis we need to pay more attention to because of the danger that these radiological sources could be exploited to give terrorists the capability of creating what we call an RDD, a radiological dispersion device. So this issue is one that we need to be concerned about on a worldwide basis.
A Facility Agreement between Kazakhstan and the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) was signed today by H.E. Tokaev Kassymzhomart, Minister of Foreign Affairs, on behalf of Kazakhstan, and Mr Wolfgang Hoffmann, Executive Secretary, on behalf of the Preparatory Commission. The Agreement entered into force upon signature, and grants the Preparatory Commission the necessary legal authority to carry out work on International Monitoring System (IMS) facilities on Kazakhstan's territory. The Commission has now signed 30 Facility Agreements with States hosting IMS facilities.
The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), which Kazakhstan signed on 30 September 1996 and ratified on 14 May 2002, bans all nuclear test explosions. Compliance with the terms of the Treaty is monitored by a global verification regime. The 337-facility International Monitoring System (IMS), a key part of the verification regime, uses seismic, hydroacoustic, infrasound and radionuclide technologies to detect evidence of possible nuclear test explosions. Under the terms of the CTBT, Kazakhstan hosts one primary seismic station (PS23), 3 auxiliary seismic stations (AS057, AS058 and AS059) and one infrasound station (IS31).
The IMS network consists of 50 primary seismic stations, 120 auxiliary seismic stations, 60 infrasound stations and 11 hydroacoustic stations which monitor vibrations in the atmosphere or under water that may result from a nuclear explosion. The IMS also includes 96 radionuclide facilities which sample or analyse radioactive material which may have been released during a possible nuclear explosion. Data from the IMS stations are transmitted to the International Data Centre (IDC) in Vienna, where they are processed and forwarded to the Member States for their review.
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