"Why do you use an ax when you can use a bulldozer?" -- Osama bin Laden
As Republicans convene less than four miles from Ground Zero, the presidential contest is crystallized by that proximity. The next four years will be the most dangerous in the nation's history, because the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, were pinpricks compared with a clear and almost present menace. This year's pre- eminent question, beside which all others pale, is: Which candidate can best cope with the threat of nuclear terrorism?
A blood-chilling book on that is "Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe," by Graham Allison, a professor at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and an adviser to John Kerry. Allison's indictment of the Iraq war -- as a dangerous distraction from and impediment to the war on nuclear terrorism he advocates -- is severable from his presentation of stark facts about the simultaneous spread of scientific knowledge and apocalyptic religious worldviews.
A dirty bomb -- conventional explosives dispersing radioactive materials that are widely used in industry and medicine -- exploded in midtown Manhattan could make much of the island uninhabitable for years. As many as one in every 100 Manhattanites might develop cancer. Perhaps even more people would die in the panic than would be killed by radiation. But even dirty bombs are relative pinpricks.
The only serious impediment to creating a nuclear weapon is acquisition of fissionable material -- highly enriched uranium (HEU) or plutonium. In 1993 U.S. officials used ordinary bolt cutters to snip off the padlock that was the only security at an abandoned Soviet-era facility containing enough HEU for 20 nuclear weapons. In 2002 enough fissile material for three weapons was recovered from a laboratory in a Belgrade suburb. Often an underpaid guard and a chain-link fence are the only security at the more than 130 nuclear reactors and other facilities using HEU in 40 countries.
Allison says that at least four times between 1992 and 1999, materials usable in weapons were stolen from Russian research institutes but recovered. How many thefts have not been reported? The U.S. Cold War arsenal included what are known as special atomic demolition munitions, which could be carried in a backpack. The Soviet arsenal often mimicked America's. Russia denies that "suitcase" nuclear weapons exist, so it denies reports that at least 80 are missing. Soviet military forces deployed 22,000 tactical nuclear warheads -- without individual identification numbers. Who thinks all have been accounted for? Russia probably has 2 million pounds of weapons-usable material -- enough for 80,000 weapons.
In December 1994 Czech police seized more than eight pounds of HEU in a parked car on a side street. A senior al Qaeda aide's proclaimed goal of killing 4 million Americans would require 1,400 Sept. 11s, or one 10-kiloton nuclear explosion -- from a softball-sized lump of fissionable material -- in each of four large American cities.
Of the 7 million seaborne cargo containers that arrive at U.S. ports each year, fewer than 5 percent are inspected. Less than 10 percent of arriving noncommercial private vessels are inspected. Given that 21,000 pounds of cocaine and marijuana are smuggled into the country each day, how hard would it be to smuggle a softball-sized lump of HEU on one of the 30,000 trucks, 6,500 rail cars or 50,000 cargo containers that arrive every day?
President Bush recently said that Democratic critics of rapid development of ballistic missile defenses are "living in the past." Perhaps. Some missile defense is feasible and, leaving aside costs, desirable. But costs cannot be left aside. Kerry, were he politically daring and intellectually nimble, might respond:
"The president is living in 1983, when Ronald Reagan proposed missile defenses to counter thousands of Soviet ICBMs. A nuclear weapon is much less likely to come to America on a rogue nation's ICBM -- which would have a return address -- than in a shipping container, truck, suitcase, backpack or other ubiquitous thing. So allocating vast amounts of scarce financial and scientific resources to missile defenses rather than other security measures is imprudent."
On the other hand, Allison argues that any hope for preventing, by diplomacy, nuclear terrorism depends on "readiness to use covert and overt military force if necessary" against two potential sources of fissile material -- Iran and North Korea. But the candidate Allison is advising has opposed virtually every use of U.S. force in his adult lifetime.
Intelligent people can differ about all that Allison says. But campaign time is becoming scarce for intelligent differing about how to prevent some American Ground Zero from becoming so poisoned by radiation that no one will be able to come within four miles of it.
About half a century ago, President Dwight Eisenhower and his aides had what seemed to be a brilliant idea to avert a nuclear arms race. It came to be called "Atoms for Peace." Those who had nuclear weapons, mainly the Soviet Union and the United States, would help those who didn't have such weapons develop peaceful nuclear energy projects, like power reactors. In return, those nations were expected not to divert uranium to build a bomb.
The idea backfired disastrously. It hastened the spread of nuclear technology--and weapons--around the world. Moreover, it stoked a lucrative private competition to supply such technology to more and more countries and demolished any attempts even to partially stuff the nuclear genie back in the bottle.
Now the world faces a looming threat. Osama bin Laden has spoken of acquiring nuclear weapons as a "religious duty." North Korea may have as many as eight bombs, and has reportedly begun selling key ingredients for making bombs to other countries. Iran is playing a cat-and-mouse game with the United Nations' nuclear inspectors while it continues work that will enable it to build its own bomb.
Earlier this year, a vast nuclear black market was exposed, its tendrils leading no one knows exactly where. But this is certain: All the nuclear technology and know-how needed to make a bomb was for sale, short of the actual fissile material, to the highest bidders. The market, led by Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, was thriving, dramatically accelerating the capability of North Korea, Iran and Libya to build bombs.
That black market--dubbed the "nuclear Wal-Mart"--has exploded years of assumptions and presumptions about how effective efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation have been.
Even the normally cautious director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, has been speaking bluntly about the need for urgent reform in the treaties and agreements that are supposed to limit the spread of nuclear weapons.
"If the world does not change course," he wrote, "we risk self-destruction."
That is not hyperbole. A bomb far more powerful than those exploded at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II can now fit into a car trunk.
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On July 1, 1968, the U.S. and dozens of other countries signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. It sought to freeze the number of nuclear nations at five--the U.S., France, Britain, the Soviet Union and China--while helping nations that forswore nuclear weapons to build peaceful nuclear reactors.
The non-proliferation treaty and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which was empowered to monitor treaty compliance, have failed to halt the spread of the bomb. Determined cheaters could, and did, develop weapons in secret, capitalizing on the expertise gained legitimately from nuclear nations. A map of the known and suspected nuclear nations appears on today's Commentary page.
The current web of international treaties and controls on nuclear weapons and power reactors was set up for a far different world. For one thing, these agreements were targeted at nations. They were not designed to deal with the likelihood that a terrorist group would, at some point, attempt to buy, steal or build a bomb, or detonate radioactive material in a so-called dirty bomb. All those frightful possibilities are more likely now.
In June 2003, Eliza Manningham-Buller, director of Britain's domestic intelligence service, MI5, told a London think tank that renegade scientists have helped Al Qaeda in its effort to develop chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons (CBRN). "Sadly, given the widespread proliferation of the technical knowledge to construct these weapons, it will only be a matter of time before a crude version of a CBRN attack is launched at a major Western city and only a matter of time before that crude version becomes something more sophisticated," she said.
The U.S. seems to agree. The federal government reportedly is resurrecting a scientific art that had faded since the cold war: fallout analysis. That's the ability to quickly trace the roots of a nuclear explosion to who detonated it and where the nuclear material originated.
There is no way to rid the world of this threat. It can be reduced, but not eliminated. It would be simpler if it were only a matter of dismantling nuclear weapons, but it's not. There are hundreds of tons of the materials needed to build bombs--highly enriched uranium or plutonium--all over the world. Some of it is well guarded, some not. Some is used in hundreds of civilian reactors, often located on university campuses, used for research, training and medicine.
By one estimate, there's enough highly enriched uranium and plutonium already in the world to fuel at least 100,000 nuclear weapons. There are plants in several countries churning out even more enriched material.
Ever since Atoms for Peace, there has been talk of banning the manufacture of more bomb-grade materials for weapons and even for peaceful uses. Unfortunately, that has come to nothing. And even if a ban were enacted tomorrow, the threat would still be immense. Because the threat is so diverse, there is no magic bullet, no single approach, to thwart it.
Diplomacy alone won't do it. Some nuclear nations--notably India, Pakistan and Israel--haven't even signed the non-proliferation treaty. There's no way to stop the nuclear trade without international law enforcement and an enhanced global intelligence effort. A U.S.-led effort, known as the Proliferation Security Initiative, scored a huge coup in recent months, helping force the shutdown of Libya's nuclear weapons program and exposing the underground nuclear bazaar.
Earlier this year, Russia joined the effort, another positive development. The U.S. and Russia must accelerate programs to dismantle weapons and secure weapons-grade materials in the former Soviet Union and elsewhere. Behind that must be a credible allied military threat against any nation that seeks to secretly develop nuclear weapons.
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Diplomatic efforts have not been entirely feckless. Over the years, those efforts have helped to restrain many nations from developing weapons and spreading nuclear technology. More nations have abandoned nascent efforts to acquire or develop nuclear weapons than now possess them. Egypt, Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Yugoslavia, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Australia, Libya, Argentina and Brazil have considered and abandoned the goal of going nuclear.
Sweden and Switzerland, however, are not Iran and Iraq. The difficulty that Saddam Hussein's Iraq had in trying to build the bomb was not a testament to the IAEA, which was completely bamboozled.
Iraq came perilously close to succeeding. David Albright, who worked as an IAEA weapons inspector there, says the Iraqis were hampered by inexperience, poor management and technical mistakes. One example: A technical error in the melting of uranium metal caused so much to be wasted that there wasn't enough left for a bomb. The world can't rely on such luck to stop the spread of nuclear weapons.
The first step to controlling nuclear proliferation has to be the creation of a potent IAEA, empowered to focus on blowing the whistle early on countries such as Iran and North Korea. The idea should be to alert the world to nuclear outlaws more quickly than is accomplished now--and to act on that information. As it is, the IAEA is so bound by its narrow rules, it still hasn't declared Iran is seeking to build nuclear weapons.
Gary Milhollin of the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control rightly has called the IAEA's response "the blunder of the century."
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For many years the world assumed that the horrific consequences of a nuclear explosion, and the threat of nuclear retaliation, were deterrent enough. That's no longer the case. Terrorists, living in their shadowy worlds, cannot be deterred in the way that nations can. There are no economic or political capitals of terrorism to target for retaliation.
The task, then, is evident: to make it as difficult as possible for terrorists or rogue states to buy, steal or develop nuclear weapons. As the world's only superpower, the U.S. can set a nuclear agenda for the world. With its economic and diplomatic clout, it can make things happen.
It won't be easy. Many countries with nuclear capabilities shun more international controls, often because they're costly to enforce and threaten to cut into lucrative nuclear markets.
Treaties alone won't do it. A treaty is still just a piece of paper. Terrorists don't sign treaties. Those nations that would help them often don't abide by treaties.
The world is a far different place than was envisioned by Atoms for Peace. In the 1950s, some officials, including some top Soviets, apparently protested to Ike that his Atoms for Peace idea could easily spread weapons-grade materials--and the potential to build bombs--worldwide, writes Paul Leventhal, founding president of the Nuclear Control Institute. The U.S. response? "Ways will be found" to prevent that.
Fifty-one years later, it's obvious that those ways never were found. That doesn't mean a nuclear holocaust is inevitable. But it does mean that the world cannot afford to believe in serendipity to protect itself from the most devastating weapons ever devised.
At the dawn of the nuclear age, Eisenhower's aides comforted themselves with one myth. As the 21st Century nuclear threat grows and evolves, world leaders have been clinging to another: That the world's most dangerous weapons could be kept out of the hands of terrorists through diplomacy and good intentions.
We cling to that myth at our peril.
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Worldwide nuclear stockpiles 2004
Total estimated warheads: 28,185
NPT* nuclear weapon states
*Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty 1. Russia 17,000 2. United States 10,000 3. China 410 4. France 350 5. United Kingdom 185 Non-NPT weapon states 6. Israel 100 7. India 50-90 8. Pakistan 30-50 Suspected weapons or weapons program 9. Iran 10. N. Korea
Source: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
3. Leaders Must Give Increased Priority to Nuclear Terrorism Threat in U.S., National Security Experts Say
Global Security Newswire
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National security experts, including a prominent senator, have recently warned again that U.S. government leaders must give higher priority to addressing the potential threat of terrorists using a nuclear weapon.
ï¿½It is past time for our government to set as its highest priority the prevention of this catastrophe and then having set the priorities act on the priorities,ï¿½ said former Clinton administration Defense Secretary William Perry in a speech this month to the National Academy of Sciences.
He estimated a greater than 50 percent chance of nuclear terrorism against a major city in the next 10 years.
The next president ï¿½must bring the full weight of U.S. diplomatic and economic power to bearï¿½ to make breakthroughs on at least a dozen proliferation issues, said Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) in a speech at the National Press Club, also this month.
ï¿½Persistent diplomacy at the highest levels of our government is needed each day if we are to succeed,ï¿½ he said.
A similar warning was made in a book recently published by Charles Ferguson and William Potter of the Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute for International Studies.
Titled The Four Faces of Nuclear Terrorism and co-published by the Nuclear Threat Initiative, the book recommends the United States ï¿½alter dramatically its ranking of threats to its national security and to that of its friends and allies.ï¿½
It says U.S. leaders have correctly identified the prospect of nuclear terrorism as a serious national security challenge facing the country but have failed to address that threat accordingly.
ï¿½Despite the recognition of the dangers of nuclear terrorism by President [George W.] Bush and other U.S. leaders, numerous U.S. policies remain mired in the past and are impeding measures to reduce the nuclear terror dangers of today,ï¿½ it said.
The book said there is insufficient information to calculate the probability of nuclear terrorism. It said, though, while the challenges to terrorists of exploding a nuclear weapon make it less likely to occur than other forms of terrorism, the potential devastation is so great it must be given the highest priority.
Concerns for Nuclear Terrorism Expressed
Both Bush and Democratic presidential candidate Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) in major speeches this year identified the prospect of nuclear terrorism as the gravest national security concern facing the United States and recommended actions to address the issue.
Kerry said in a June 1 speech that ï¿½the greatest threat we face todayï¿½ is the ï¿½possibility of al-Qaeda or other terrorists getting their hands on a nuclear weapon.ï¿½
In a major address in February, Bush similarly said, ï¿½The greatest threat before humanity today is the possibility of secret and sudden attack with chemical or biological or radiological or nuclear weapons.ï¿½
The Bush administration, though, has been subject to criticism by Kerry and others for not sufficiently emphasizing nonproliferation measures to address the threat, for instance, with respect to obtaining a reversal of North Korea and Iranï¿½s suspected nuclear weapons programs and efforts to secure and eliminate nuclear weapons and materials worldwide
ï¿½The honest answer, in each of these areas, is that we have done too little, often too late, and even cut back our efforts or turned away from the single greatest threat we face in the world today, a terrorist armed with nuclear weapons,ï¿½ Kerry said in the June 1 speech.
Bush in a June 2 speech said, however, that the government is ï¿½using all elements of our national power to deny terrorists the chemical, biological and nuclear weapons they seek,ï¿½ including nonproliferation measures.
He has cited as administration successes Libyaï¿½s renunciation of weapons of mass destruction, the invasion of Iraq in pursuit of such weapons ï¿½ though no stockpiles have been found ï¿½ and the rollback of the proliferation network associated with Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan.
Kerry has said one of the most important challenges is securing nuclear materials in the former Soviet Union, and said the Bush administration has previously under-funded the so-called ï¿½Nunn-Lugarï¿½ that aims to do that.
Lugar, who co-authored the program and has been its tireless proponent, in his speech said Bush has ï¿½embracedï¿½ the effort and that government attitudes toward it are changing.
ï¿½Until recently, we ï¿½ faced a general disinterest in nonproliferation that made gaining support for Nunn-Lugar funding and activities an annual struggle,ï¿½ Lugar said.
He advocates high-level government diplomacy with Russia to make more progress, as well as numerous other measures, including securing Russian tactical nuclear weapons, a new effort to contain fissile materials worldwide and foremost negotiating a ï¿½phased, verifiable agreementï¿½ to eliminate North Koreaï¿½s suspected nuclear weapons program.
Despite apparent recognition by both candidates of the seriousness of the issues, neither appears to have made nuclear proliferation and terrorism a central issue of his campaign, with nuclear proliferation infrequently mentioned in speeches around the country.
That may be partly due to a traditional lack of strong public concern about nuclear terrorism, said John Isaacs, president of the Council for a Livable World arms control organization.
ï¿½Itï¿½s not a cutting issue. Itï¿½s not an issue that brings votes. Kerry has staked out an advanced position. But it does not pay to talk about it day-to-day,ï¿½ he said.
Lugar ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for president in 1996 focusing on the threat posed by nuclear proliferation.
ï¿½I found that this was not an issue that moved voters or generated media interest,ï¿½ he said.
Since the Sept. 11 attacks, though, he said the issue is getting greater attention, citing the candidatesï¿½ major speeches, support for the Nunn-Lugar program, and a June 2004 New York Times/CBS poll suggesting a historically large number of Americans (38 percent) want foreign policy to be the top issue of discussion of the campaign.
Greater public interest, Lugar said, makes room for more aggressive policies to stop nuclear proliferation in ways he has suggested.
ï¿½I am confident that whoever is elected in November would find substantial public support for this set of initiatives.ï¿½
The dangers posed by today's non-conventional weapons necessitate prompt and vigorous action to dismantle arsenals and block the transfer, stockpiling, and production of highly enriched uranium and plutonium -- the fissile material needed to build nuclear weapons. U.S. leaders have long recognized that such arms control efforts must be reinforced with effective means to monitor compliance. As President Ronald Reagan told the Soviets, "Trust, but verify."
Fittingly, the negotiation of a global, verifiable fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT) has been a major U.S. nonproliferation priority at the Conference on Disarmament (CD) for more than a decade. But not any more.
Following a lengthy policy review, the Bush administration has adopted a new and counterproductive "trust, but don't verify" FMCT position. Although the administration says it supports negotiations for a treaty to end the production of fissile material for weapons purposes, it has indicated it will oppose negotiations on an "effectively verifiable" treaty.
The goal in past years has been to negotiate a global treaty with an effective verification regime focused on facilities that are capable of uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing. This could provide high confidence that no country is secretly producing bomb-grade nuclear material for weapons.
The FMCT would reinforce the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and lock in the halt on production of fissile material for weapons currently observed by the five established nuclear-weapon states: China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Perhaps more significantly, a verifiable FMCT would cap the supply of bomb material available to NPT holdouts India; its nuclear rival, Pakistan; and Israel.
The U.S. policy shift is a body blow to the long-delayed FMCT talks, however. The United States wants the 65 member states at the CD to reach consensus on a new mandate for negotiations, an exceedingly difficult task that will further postpone the start of FMCT talks. The new U.S. policy is yet another shameful rejection of key disarmament commitments made at the 1995 and 2000 Review Conferences of the NPT.
According to the Bush review, an FMCT inspection program would be "so extensive that it could compromise key signatories' core national security interests and so costly that many countries will be hesitant to accept it." No verification system is 100 percent effective, nor is it free. But as major U.S. allies still insist, verifying such a treaty is technically feasible and politically possible, and it is in everyone's core interests to make the treaty more than a symbolic gesture.
The additional financial cost of expanding the scope of current nuclear inspections to cap the size of the world's arsenals is well worth the price. As recent events in Iraq, Iran, and North Korea show, when international arms inspectors have the political and legal authority to visit relevant sites and investigate suspicious findings, they can detect and deter cheating and, if necessary, help mobilize international action against violators. In many cases, the IAEA can visit and take measurements at sites and facilities about which national intelligence agencies can only raise suspicions.
So, what is really behind the reluctance to negotiate an effectively verifiable FMCT? The policy is yet another symptom of this administration's strong allergy to multilateral arms control. It also reflects the Bush administration's insufficient regard for the effect of Israel's and Pakistan's unregulated nuclear weapons programs on regional security and nonproliferation objectives. Pressing forward with a verifiable FMCT would help bring those states, along with India, into the nonproliferation mainstream and enhance efforts to ensure that other states comply with their treaty obligations.
The Pentagon has resisted FMCT negotiations altogether. Officials there fret about protecting information related to Navy programs that supply enriched uranium fuel for nuclear-powered ships, despite the fact that the FMCT would not prohibit production for such purposes.
This is not the first time the Bush administration has torpedoed verification provisions designed to improve compliance with arms control treaties. In 2001 the Bush administration blocked approval of a verification regime for the Biological Weapons Convention. In 2002 it declined to seek additional monitoring and inspection measures as part of its Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty with Russia. Absent better verification, illicit national bioweapons programs may continue, and our knowledge about the size and security of Russia's nuclear arsenal will be far less certain.
President George W. Bush said in February that he is committed to stopping weapons of mass destruction "at the source." The United States cannot achieve this objective by itself or without more new and verifiable initiatives such as the FMCT. Tragically, the Bush approach on the FMCT and other nonproliferation agreements denies our nation and the international community the chance to more effectively monitor and enforce compliance with the global nonproliferation standards essential to our security.
2. US to give Georgia USD 30 million for biologic non-proliferation
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The United States will give Georgia USD 30 million instead of previously planned USD 15 million to improve storage facilities of biological agents and laboratories in the republic, the U.S. embassy said.
The relevant agreement will be signed Monday in the Georgian capital. Senator Richard Lugar will attend the signing ceremony. Lugar is also scheduled to meet Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania, Speaker Nina Burdzhanadze and Security Council Secretary Gela Bezhuashvili.
The immediate task of international space legislation is to draft legal norms regulating certain types of human activity in outer space. First of all, this refers to the development of anti-satellite weapons and the elements of a space-based missile defence system.
It should be noted that neither Russia nor the US has declared its intention to deploy in near-Earth space any weapon systems capable of hitting targets both in space and on our planet. Moreover, at a Geneva session of the Disarmament Conference that was held in late August, Russia's permanent representative Leonid Skotnikov frankly stated, "the Russian Federation has no plans to create space weapon systems and deploy them in outer space. The creation of space weapons is not our choice."
At the same time, he specifically pointed to "obvious loopholes" in international space legislation that allow work on anti-satellite weapons and the elements of a space-based missile defence system to be conducted. This, in turn, is fraught with "the most serious complications and dangers. Why is the disarmament process linked with the military-space subject? Why is it that anti-satellite weapons might upset the militaryategic balance in the world and lead to the militarisation of space?
Firstly, in the late 1990s, a new strategic concept for fighting wars with precision weapons was clearly formulated in the world. Secondly, the US still decided to create a missile defence system, albeit in an abbreviated version. The connection with anti-satellite weapons is obvious. For a missile defence system to work, just like for precision weapons, the number of satellite support groups must be increased several fold. Considering that experts believe the total number of precision weapons in the more developed countries may reach 30,000-50,000 by 2010, while a new US missile defence system is, under the Memorandum of May 21, 2003, "a systemdesigned to protect the territory of the United States, our Armed Forces and those of our allies", it is easy to imagine the scale of the necessary orbital formations.
In other words, reconnaissance spacecraft, military navigation and weather satellites, as well as early warning satellites, although harmless in themselves, are becoming the components of a weapon system called "precision weapons - missile defence system". Any action is known to cause a reaction. It is quite probable that the world may be thrown back to the 1950s when the two superpowers started accelerating work on space interceptors. However, this time the situation will be more complicated than the bilateral confrontation.
The proposal to draft a treaty to prohibit the deployment of weapons in space, the use or threat of force in relation to space objects, set forth by Russia and China in 2002, is designed to partially fill in the gaps in international space legislation.
Experts in Geneva note that the initiative of Russia and China has received strong support at the Conference, which has 65 member countries. In particular, a Russian proposal to impose a moratorium on the deployment of weapons in space until the international community reaches a respective agreement on space weapons has been met with aproval.
1. GOP platform approves Washingtonï¿½s policy towards Russia
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President George Bush builds up new relations with Russia, proceeding from a premise that the United States and Russia are no longer strategic adversaries. This approach by the present US administration is formalized in the political platform of the Republican Party, approved on Monday by its national convention in New York. Around half of the document, numbering 94 pages, deals with questions of foreign policy and national security.
The Russian section of the platform contains full approval of Washingtonï¿½s course with respect to Moscow. It notes that Bush correctly accentuates attention on cooperation with Russia in new spheres which may be of mutual interest for the two states. They include further development of already broad partnership in the war against terrorism as well as boosting of bilateral trade and investment contacts.
1. Moscow, Tehran may sign spent nuclear fuel deal soon
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Moscow and Tehran should soon sign an agreement on returning spent nuclear fuel from Iran to Russia, Iranian Ambassador to Russia Gholamreza Shafei said at a Thursday press conference in reply to a question by Interfax.
"This should happen very soon. All fundamental problems have been resolved, and therefore the signing of the agreement should not take a lot of time," he said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed concern about Iran's atomic programme on Tuesday and said it must not be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons.
"Russia has cooperated with Iran and we will continue to do so, but like our European colleagues France, Germany, Britain, and the US, we are concerned by the fact that questions are being raised about Iran's nuclear programme," Putin said.
"We are categorically against an enlargement of the club of nuclear powers, and that includes Iran," Putin said after talks with the German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and French President Jacques Chirac.
Russia is constructing Iran's first nuclear power plant in the southern city of Bushehr despite international protests, although negotiations over price and logistics are holding up the launch.
But the United States and Israel say Iran, a major oil and gas producer, has no need for nuclear power and accuse it of only seeking weapons.
"We are in negotiations with our Iranian partners. We are going to try to obtain certain guarantees from them, including in the form of agreements. This problem can and must be examined by the international community, at this stage in the framework of the IAEA (the UN atomic agency)," said Putin.
Putin's comments were echoed by Schroeder, whose country along with Britain and France has been pushing Iran to abandon its nuclear fuel cycle work altogether, in addition to not enriching uranium.
"The situation gives reason for worries about Iran. No one should be brought under suspicion wrongly ... The worry is that Iran is not following the agreement to the letter.
"There will be cooperation between the three European countries and Russia. We want together to prevent Iran getting atomic weapons," Schroeder said.
3. RUSSIA WILL BUILD NEW NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS IN IRAN
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Russia is preparing to build new nuclear power plants in Iran. Their construction will be launched in the desert near the city of Bushehr, not far from the place where the building of the first reactor under the Iranian-Russian contract is being completed.
Note that Assadolah Saburi, deputy head of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran (AEOI), told journalists in Teheran recently that "the new contract with Russia provides for building another nuclear power plant." In the words of Alexander Afrov, vice-president of the Russian Atomstroiexport company and director of the department for building nuclear power plants in Iran, what is meant is a double-unit nuclear power plant. In his opinion, it is more expedient to build double-unit reactors from the point of view of power engineering since it is much more rational and economic to use technological systems common for such units.
However, there is no contract yet between Moscow and Teheran for building new nuclear power plants. The sides just expressed their mutual wish for further cooperation as a conception and a desirable prospect, without any feasibility studies and assessments. At present, the contract is being drafted. It is expected to be signed this November. Analysts link the forthcoming visit of Alexander Rumyantsev, chief of Russia's Federal Atomic Energy Agency, with this event.
According to Assadolah Saburi, at least two European countries display interest in building nuclear power plants in Iran. It was not said, however, which countries did this. Nevertheless, Russia was made an offer to build the second unit.
Afrov said that at Iranians' request Atomstroiexport examined several scenarios of continuing the construction. The possibility to finish construction of the half-destroyed second unit abandoned by the German Siemens company (it stopped work when the Iranian-Iraqi war of 1980-1988 started), or wreck the unit andbuild a new one in its place, was also considered. Another scenario provided for building a nuclear power plant in another place, i.e., in the vicinity of the city of Ahvaz near the Iraqi border. However, according to specialists' estimates, a double-unit nuclear power plant in Bushehr with the same VVER-1000 units as in the first reactor (a water-cooled power-producing reactor with the capacity of 1000 megawatt hours) promises the lowest price per one kwh of electricity. These nuclear power plants are listed with the most reliable ones in the world and meet all modern safety standards.
Saburi stated that Iran was going to add eleven nuclear reactors to the country's energy network by 2021. Russian nuclear power engineers do not conceal that they would gladly build all of them despite the spate of criticism against Russia for its cooperation with Iran.
The world press cites John Bolton, US Undersecretary of State, that even a single reactor in Bushehr can become a potential plutonium supplier allowing Iran to make 30 nuclear bombs a year. However, specialists know only too well that no one has ever made and will hardly make a bomb out of reactor-grade plutonium (as distinct from weapons-grade plutonium), since this is an extremely expensive, dangerous and unproductive method. Besides, a major chemical plant would be needed for implementing such plans, which could not be left unnoticed by the world.
"Russia's cooperation with Iran is completely correct," said Alexander Rumyantsev, chief of Russia's Federal Atomic Energy Agency. "It is provided for by international law on the use of nuclear power for peaceful purposes and the IAEA Charter which reads that nuclear powers must help non-nuclear powers when they want to develop peaceful nuclear programmes."
1. OFFICIAL URGES CONTINUED DEVELOPMENT OF NUCLEAR ARSENAL
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Atomic Energy Agency Director Aleksandr Rumyanstev on 29 August urged the continued development of nuclear weapons, saying that they are "the only type of weapons whose improvement reduces the probability of their use," ITAR-TASS reported. Rumyantsev told a conference marking the 55th anniversary of the Soviet Union's first successful nuclear test that nuclear weapons are "a weapon of deterrence, an instrument of peace." Rumyantsev said that Russia can continue developing its nuclear arsenal without resuming nuclear testing if "modeling processes are perfected, and supercomputers, laser systems, and other equipment are developed."
1. Griffiths Supports Move from Nuclear Weapons to Computer Games
Department of Trade and Industry of the United Kingdom
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DTI brings together Russian nuclear scientists and UK software companies
The DTI is to help British software companies tap into the expertise of former Russian nuclear weapons designers by bringing them together at a major software show this week.
Software designers and programmers from three of Russiaï¿½s closed nuclear cities will be showcasing their technical capabilities at the European Games Network exhibition in Londonï¿½s Docklands thanks to the DTIï¿½s UK-Russia Closed Nuclear Cities Partnership (CNCP). With outsourcing of software programming gaining popularity among UK companies in order to maintain their competitive edge, the CNCP is hopeful that some long-term commercial partnerships can be forged.
Trade and Industry Minister Nigel Griffiths said:
ï¿½Games software designers today are looking for increasingly sophisticated programmers with backgrounds in physics and advanced maths. These are exactly the skills that these former nuclear weapons scientists have who need to find ways to use their skills in peaceful pursuits. By encouraging such partnerships we aim to help UK businesses stay competitive while reducing the risk to international security.ï¿½
The ï¿½6 million four-year CNCP programme is part of the UKï¿½s contribution to a 20 billion pledge by G8 countries designed to counter proliferation of nuclear material, nuclear safety and ecological concerns in the former Soviet Union. It aims to limit the spread of weapons of mass destruction by supporting the long-term economic viability of the 10 closed cities ï¿½ set up in the Cold War to develop the Russian nuclear weapons programme ï¿½ and promoting alternative employment opportunities for its numerous former nuclear weapons personnel.
Notes to Editors
The scientists are from Sarov, Snezhinsk and Zheleznogorsk. They are experts in graphics design, simulation, mathematical modelling and image manipulation and are well suited to low cost, high quality games development. They will be exhibiting at the European Games Network at Excel in London from September 1-3. They will also be hosting a special session at the event on September 2 at 1pm. For further details about the visit contact Mark Allington of AEA Technology on 07968 707233.
1. The Closed Nuclear Cities Partnership (CNCP) between the UK and the Russian Federation was established in 2002. Changes to Russian defence policy is expected to lead to some 15,000 job losses in the ten cities over the next five years, with many more likely to go in the following decade. CNCP gives grants to support sustainable civil sector commercial activities, training, commercial partnerships and local economic development. One success followed from a ï¿½30,000 DTI grant. This money, to support market research and the production of a business plan for a project in the Russian closed nuclear city of Seversk, leveraged in ï¿½17m of Russian money for the construction of a Nitrogen Triflouride chemical production plant, which promises to create over 100 jobs, of which 30 are engineering and managerial, by Autumn 2005. For further details of the CNCP, including information on current projects, see
2. In 2002 G8 Leaders pledged to provide up to 20billion over 10 years for a new global partnership against the spread of weapons of mass destruction. The Prime Minister announced that the UK would make up to 750 million available to fund projects in pursuit of the partnershipï¿½s aims.
3. Other projects supported by the UK in Russia include:
ï¿½ a portfolio of 17 projects worth some ï¿½2 million under the bilateral Nuclear Safety Programme, intended to encourage the adoption of Western standards of safety and regulation for their operating plants as well as providing systems training and expertise.
ï¿½ ï¿½15 million to construct a spent nuclear fuel facility at Murmansk (details announced by Secretary of State Patricia Hewitt in July).
ï¿½ ï¿½2 million on management of spent nuclear fuel stocks at Andreeva Bay, a former waste nuclear materials site in north west Russia, for the Russian Navy.
ï¿½ ï¿½11.5 to dismantle two nuclear submarines, also in north west Russia.
ï¿½ ï¿½10 million contribution to the EU Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership (to fund further environmental projects in north west Russia).
4. Further information on the UK G8 Global Partnership projects is available at http://www.dti.gov.uk/energy/nuclear/fsu/index.shtml
2. U.S., Russian Scientists Exploring Collaboration on Floating Nuclear Power Plants
Global Security Newswire
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U.S. and Russian scientists are considering possible collaboration on the development of floating nuclear power plants, which could reduce proliferation concerns, the director of the U.S. Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico told Global Security Newswire this week.
The idea was discussed during a meeting last month between representatives of U.S. and Russian national laboratories at the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, said Sandia Director Paul Robinson. The meeting resulted in the creation of a joint document calling for the increased use of nuclear power that has been submitted to the U.S. and Russian governments for consideration.
ï¿½The time has come to develop a comprehensive and realistic plan to ensure the development and deployment of nuclear energy,ï¿½ the joint document was quoted in a Sandia press release as saying. ï¿½It must preserve access to nuclear energy sources for all countries of the world, and in parallel, reduce the risks of nuclear arms proliferation, nuclear terrorism and hazardous impacts on environment and population health.ï¿½
The full text of the joint document has not been released.
Russia is already interested in developing floating nuclear plants, with several design bureaus that previously worked on nuclear submarines exploring the concept, Robinson said. As described by Robinson, such nuclear plants would be sent to a recipient country, travel into the interior where needed via canals and linked to the countryï¿½s power grid. The plants would be provided under ï¿½turnkeyï¿½ agreements, Robinson said, which would require the recipient to return the plant to its country of origin once it has ended operation. By returning the plant, the recipient country would lose access to equipment and materials that could be used to produce nuclear weapons.
There has been increasing concern that countries seeking to develop nuclear weapons may do so under the guise of operating civilian nuclear programs, which share many of the same elements. As an example, U.S. officials and some independent experts have pointed to Iranï¿½s nuclear program, which Tehran has repeatedly claimed is for civilian purposes.
The Bush administration has proposed several measures intended to close what it describes as a ï¿½loopholeï¿½ in the nuclear nonproliferation regime, such as a ban on the export of enrichment and reprocessing technologies to countries that do not already possess them. During this yearï¿½s meeting of the Group of Eight top global economic powers, G-8 members agreed to a one-year freeze on new initiatives to export enrichment and reprocessing capabilities.
Floating nuclear plants could also benefit nonproliferation by requiring less expertise and personnel on the part of the recipient country to operate, reducing the likelihood that the country would develop a cadre of nuclear-trained scientists that could later be used in weapons efforts, said Matthew Bunn of Harvard Universityï¿½s Project on Managing the Atom
Bunn also said, though, that Russiaï¿½s atomic energy agency has supported the development of floating nuclear plants that would use highly enriched uranium as fuel, which could limit the nonproliferation benefit of such facility. A proposal before the International Science and Technology Center nonproliferation program to develop low-enriched uranium fuel for such plants has not received funding, he said.
In addition, because the floating plants would likely be used in more remote areas of a country, they may have less security and thereby increase the risk of the possible theft or diversion of nuclear materials, Bunn said.
The United States could aid in the development of floating nuclear power plants by assisting their marketing to other countries, Robinson said, adding that Russia has acknowledged the difficulties they would have in promoting the plants themselves. Russian nuclear reactors are still burdened with the legacy of the 1986 Chernobyl reactor meltdown, he said.
Past cost estimates for floating plants considered by Russia for its own use ranged from about $100 million to more than $300 million. Cost or schedule estimates have not been developed for a potential U.S.-Russian plan.
Robinson said last monthï¿½s meeting was ï¿½very promising,ï¿½ and that U.S. scientists were impressed with the nuclear engineering expertise of their Russian counterparts. U.S. and Russian scientists now plan to begin examining possible nuclear collaboration measures by the end of the year, he said, adding that the issue could be discussed during a possible U.S-Russian summit in early 2005.
Russia deployed extra troops to guard dozens of nuclear facilities across the country on Wednesday after militants seized a school in the south and a suicide bomb attack in Moscow, the nuclear authority said.
Russia, the world's No.2 atomic power after the United States, has come under international pressure to do more to protect its Soviet-era nuclear facilities against attack.
"After the latest terrorist attacks security services decided to send more interior ministry troops to all nuclear sites across the country," a Russian Atomic Energy Agency spokesman said.
He would not say how many additional troops were sent.
He said the government extended the order right after militants seized a school near rebel Chechnya, taking up to 150 people hostage, and a Tuesday suicide bomb attack in central Moscow which killed at least nine people.
Russia runs dozens of atomic reactors, uranium enrichment facilities and nuclear research reactors -- some in the far-flung corners of Siberia and which are poorly guarded.
Reactors are also attractive to militants because atomic fuel stored at many sites can be used in nuclear bombs.
2. Spent nuclear fuel stays put as U.S., Kazakhstan quibble
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In a storage pool at a mothballed nuclear power plant on the shores of the Caspian Sea rests a key ingredient for anyone seeking to build a nuclear weapon: containers of spent atomic fuel with enough plutonium to make dozens of bombs.
Despite international concern about the waste at the Mangyshlak nuclear power plant, plans to transport it from the Caspian shore have stalled in a dispute between Kazakhstan and the United States over how it should be removed and to what location.
Kazakhstan has earned much international good will for unilaterally disarming after the 1991 Soviet collapse and handing over its nuclear arsenal to Russia under watch of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Still, the nation's atomic legacy as a testing ground for the Soviet nuclear program has left it with numerous waste sites, as well as the remnants of an active atomic-power program.
The Mangyshlak Atomic Energy Complex is one of those places, lying in a decrepit industrial area outside the city of Aktau in the moonlike desolation of western Kazakhstan. The reactor was shut down in 2003 for economic reasons, having worked a decade beyond its intended 20-year lifetime. It lies behind two series of walls and radiation detectors, past a security checkpoint featuring metal detectors and X-ray machines, then gates opened by electronic badges and a numeric code.
The sealed canisters of radioactive materials lie in a pool under metal floors welded together with seals from the IAEA. Video cameras with satellite feeds to the IAEA monitor the room, and IAEA experts visit once a month.
The 330 tons of spent nuclear fuel contain more than 3 tons of plutonium enriched to more than 90 percent. That's better-than-usual weapons-grade but would require extensive processing to be made into bombs.
The fuel has been cooling for so long and was so lightly irradiated to begin with that it is no longer radioactive enough to be "self-protecting" against theft, according to the Washington-based Nuclear Threat Initiative, an anti-proliferation organization.
"Thieves could load it into a boat and take it away without necessarily receiving radiation doses that would immediately be incapacitating," the NTI wrote on its Web site.
Kazakhstan is one of five countries sharing the Caspian Sea with Iran, which is suspected of seeking nuclear weapons. Iranian cargo ships sail by regularly, and the NTI notes that Tehran has shown interest in Aktau and has talked of opening a consulate there.
The United States has provided military assistance to bolster Kazakhstan's shore defenses and plans to give some $20 million for new radar and intercept boats.
The Kazakhs want U.S. help in a $40 million project to move the spent fuel to a safer site, but those efforts are deadlocked. The Kazakhs want to take the fuel to Semipalatinsk, the former nuclear weapons test site in eastern Kazakhstan.
But the United States wants it shipped to Russia, where other radioactive materials were sent. The Kazakhs planned to build single-use casks to transport the waste and then store it in reinforced underground bunkers. But the United States persuaded them to use dual-use casks in which the fuel can be both transported and stored. However, work on the dual-use casks is on hold, and the Kazakhs continue to work on single-use casks.
"No work is being done on the dual-use casks because no funding is coming from the United States. And we cannot understand why," said Irina Tajibayeva, executive director of the Kazakhstan government's Center for the Safety of Nuclear Technologies.
"This is not an example of good cooperation."
The U.S. Embassy in Kazakhstan declined several requests for comment in recent weeks. IAEA spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said, "We are fully aware of the status of the discussion between Kazakhstan and the United States, and materials are currently properly under IAEA safeguards."
The plant's director, Gennady Pugachev, insisted that "fears that our nuclear fuel could get into the wrong hands are groundless."
"We are not North Korea, where there is no government will to make (nuclear materials) safe," said Viktor Martyshkin, the reactor's information-security chief. "Our government wants to make sure these materials do not get into some mad, criminal hands."
Given the security at the plant, any potential theft likely would have to be at least partly an inside job. Pugachev noted that employees' salaries are minuscule, and he said he makes 20 times less than a guard at a U.S. nuclear facility. Pugachev also is well aware of the risks of loose nuclear materials, such as from a "dirty bomb" ï¿½ a device that combines conventional explosives with radioactive material.
"I know how to do it," he said.
A Western diplomat familiar with the IAEA said similar or larger quantities of spent fuel exist in dozens of countries and always represent a risk if unsecured.
Some Russian facilities are well-equipped but others are not, the diplomat said on condition of anonymity. Negotiations about transferring such material can be difficult and lengthy because many parties are involved, each with its own legal and regulatory requirements, and all want to be protected against liability and compensated for what they are being asked to do, the diplomat said.
1. Press statements and answers to questions after the meeting with French President Jacques Chirac and German Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schroder (excerpted)
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Question from a German journalist: Presidents, Federal Chancellor. The Russian Federation helps the Islamic Republic of Iran to build nuclear energy stations. There is now concern that Iran is also trying to develop nuclear weapons, also with the help of a Russian nuclear research plant. Iran also produces ballistic missiles which can reach Israel and Europe. What is Russia doing to prevent this, and what can Europe do against this? Mr. Chancellor, there are also suspicions that German firms are involved in this.
Gerhard Schroder: Firstly, one should not suspect those who do not do this. There is cause for concern about the situation in Iran. I would remind you that the foreign ministers of Great Britain, Germany and France reached certain agreements with the leadership of Iran. This agreement should be completed to the last full stop, to the last comma. But there are concerns that the Iranian side does not keep to the letter of this agreement, and we share this concern. There will be joint work between these three European nations together with Russia, so that this is clear to everyone. The international community is not prepared to resign itself to the fact that Iran possesses nuclear weapons. It may have nuclear weapons with a closed fuel cycle. We want to stop this together. There are different opinions about whether nuclear weapons should be used for peaceful purposes. A clear distinction is needed here: Russiaï¿½s deliveries for building a nuclear power station have nothing to do with other issues ï¿½ this needs to be examined separately. And from our talks today, it was also clear that we are working together to ensure that Iran cannot have nuclear weapons, i.e. only to be used for peaceful purposes without a closed fuel cycle. This is the sovereign decision of any nation. We must acknowledge this, regardless of our own position.
Vladimir Putin: Russia indeed works with Iran in many areas, and we will continue to do this. At the same time, like our European colleagues, in France, Germany, Great Britain, and like the U.S.A., we are concerned about questions that arise on the Iran nuclear programme.
We were categorically against widening the club of nuclear nations, including the addition of Iran. I want to stress this: we are categorically opposed to this. We hold talks with our Iranian partners, and we will try to achieve certain guarantees from their side, such as agreements, and we believe that this problem can and must be examined by the international community at this stage in the framework of the MAGATE. We will work with our partners on this issue, transparently, actively and persistently.
At the same time, our position is that these problems should not lead to an additional unjustified competitive fight for the according markets. The market of nuclear technology used for peaceful means is severely limited. Iran is one of these markets. We need to reach agreements according to which we act by common rules. But all of us, I repeat, are unanimous that we must do everything to prevent the widening of the club of nuclear nations, including the addition of Iran.
2. Alexander Yakovenko, the Spokesman of Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Answers Russian Media Questions Regarding Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov's Upcoming Trip to the Middle East (excerpted)
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
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Question: What are the aims and tasks of Sergey Lavrov's upcoming visit to a number of Middle Eastern countries in the next few days?
Answer: Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov will make on September 3-7 a trip to the Middle East covering Egypt, Lebanon, Israel and Syria. This visit to a region strategically important and geographically close to Russia will help continue our vigorous efforts aimed at the search of a solution to such key problems as the settlement of regional conflicts on the basis of the primacy of international law, the curbing of terrorism and extremism, and WMD proliferation.
The choice of the countries the Minister will visit clearly bears out the firm position of Russia in favor of achieving a comprehensive Arab-Israeli settlement, which presupposes the need for advancement on all the negotiating tracks.
Lavrov's talks with the leaders of those countries are meant to focus on problems in the Middle East peace process. This topic requires constant attention from the international community, including, of course, Russia with its status of a permanent member of the UN Security Council and a participant of the Quartet of international mediators for Middle East settlement.
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