After years of warnings, hard work and billion-dollar budgets, the "loose nukes" of Russia and other nations are coming under tighter control, and nuclear smuggling cases have fallen sharply, international and U.S. agencies report.
Despite the good news, however, the potential nightmare of nuclear terrorism still haunts those charged with preventing it.
"There's still so much to be done," said Jerry Paul, whose U.S. Energy Department office aims to complete work by late 2008 upgrading security at Russian nuclear sites, two years ahead of the original schedule.
Here in Vienna, the International Atomic Energy Agency says only a dozen incidents of uranium or plutonium trafficking were reported worldwide in 2004, down from an average of about 30 a year in the mid-1990s. Only one reported last year involved bomb-grade material, and that was a minor amount.
"What does it mean?" asked Anita Nilsson, the agency's nuclear security chief. "That we can relax and go on holiday? I don't think so."
In a nuclear world of too many unknowns, experts say, no one should expect al-Qaida's leadership to abandon its longtime goal of a doomsday weapon. More than a decade after it first showed a nuclear bent, however, there's no evidence the terror group has found anything but dead ends.
In 1994, for example, al-Qaida agreed to pay $1.5 million for a cylinder supposedly holding bomb material, highly enriched uranium, but it turned out to be radioactive junk, an al-Qaida ex-operative later testified in a U.S. court. In 2001, in Afghanistan, U.S. forces found a crude "superbomb" drawing and related writings at an al-Qaida location, but they displayed more nuclear ignorance than know-how.
Now al-Qaida's leaders are either captured or deep in hiding, their movements, communications, finances circumscribed.
"With the pressure they're under, our assessment is that the most likely threat comes from conventional weapons" (ordinary explosives) "because they know they can do it," Donald Van Duyn of the FBI's Counterterrorism Division said in Washington.
Since the late 1990s, sensational, thinly supported reports in the Arab and Western news media have repeatedly claimed that al-Qaida had obtained enriched uranium or even complete atom bombs--from the Russian mafia, from Ukrainians in Afghanistan, or from Kazakhs, or Chechens. But among the more than 730 cases of trafficking or loss confirmed by the IAEA since 1993, no terrorist connection was ever established.
Almost all involved non-bomb material--low-grade uranium or radioactive sources, such as cesium-137 sealed in radiation-therapy equipment. Sometimes workers pilfered material from nuclear sites in the former Soviet Union in hopes of finding a buyer. Some traffickers dealt in abandoned radioactive sources.
In the last known case of smuggling of bomb material, confirmed last year, an individual was arrested in June 2003 trying to cross from ex-Soviet Georgia into Armenia with six ounces of highly enriched uranium--a tiny fraction of what's needed for a nuclear device. Its origin hasn't been determined, and further details weren't released.
Such trafficking surged after the Soviet Union's breakup in 1991 weakened government controls there. In 1994-95, European and Russian authorities foiled nine attempts to smuggle small amounts of highly enriched uranium or plutonium, the other bomb fuel. Cases typically involved opportunists seeking buyers. Investigators are not known to have found links to foreign governments.
Why has activity declined dramatically? "Apparently it's the result of improved security at nuclear facilities, and the vigilance of law enforcement authorities, especially in European countries," said Viacheslav Turkin, in charge of IAEA's trafficking database.
Since 1994, Russian work crews and U.S. money--some $6 billion thus far--have been hardening walls, installing surveillance cameras and radiation detectors, and otherwise "locking down" 600 tons of Russian bomb-grade material that isn't inside warheads.
The Energy Department's Paul, chief deputy in the National Nuclear Security Administration, pointed out that 75 percent of the buildings in Russia's vast nuclear network have gotten full upgrades. "We're very proud of the progress," he said in Washington.
Others note, however, that the unimproved sites hold most of the nuclear material. The pace of work has been tripled this year in hopes of meeting the 2008 target.
In Latvia, Romania and elsewhere, meanwhile, the IAEA and the U.S., Russian and other governments are retrieving highly enriched uranium from university and other nuclear research reactors, and working to convert them to low-enriched fuel. But these "takebacks" are going slowly, and more than 100 such reactors worldwide still run on highly enriched uranium, with up to 55 pounds of the bomb-usable material.
That's the amount the IAEA calls "significant," that is, possibly enough to build a bomb.
Physicists debate whether nonspecialists could readily fabricate a basic, Hiroshima-style weapon, in which two loads of highly enriched uranium are slammed together to create a critical mass, a fission reaction and a blast.
The IAEA's Jacques Baute, a former French weaponeer, is skeptical. "You would get a critical accident. You would kill people around it. But it would not be the same as a Hiroshima." Much more goes into true bomb design, Baute said.
He worries instead about terrorists acquiring a readymade bomb along with people who know how to use it. Others note, however, that Japan's Aum Shinrikyo terrorist cult, with millions of dollars and thousands of adherents in Russia, failed to acquire a nuclear weapon there in the early 1990s despite years of effort.
If they're proficient in conventional bombings, terror groups may be unwilling or unable to invest the time and resources to develop -- with unpredictable results -- chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear arms, U.S. congressional researchers argued in a 2004 study.
The IAEA's Nilsson finds such discussions "irrelevant."
"If it would happen with even the crudest nuclear explosive device, it would change so many things and be so catastrophic that we can't think about it," she said.
But the "odds" on worst cases will always be discussed, as in an official U.S. report to the U.N. Security Council that warned of "a high probability" al-Qaida would attempt a WMD attack "within the next two years" -- a report issued two years and five months ago.
1. Senators Seek to Expand Threat Reduction Programs
Global Security Newswire
(for personal use only)
WASHINGTON -- The United States should expand its overseas threat reduction activities to include eliminating dangerous conventional weapons stocks and providing assistance on WMD detection and interdiction, Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) and Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said here today.
Speaking at a Council on Foreign Relations event, the Senate Foreign Relations Committeeï¿½s chairman and its most junior Democrat said they are planning to introduce legislation today that would do that.
The proposed bill would create a State Department office to coordinate assistance for improving the capabilities of friendly countries to detect and stop weapons of mass destruction in transit.
It also would mandate that at least 25 percent of State Departmentï¿½s nonproliferation and export control assistance funding be used for that purpose.
"The U.S. military and intelligence services cannot be everywhere. We need the cooperation and vigilance of like-minded nations to detect and interdict WMD threats," Lugar said.
The 25 percent funding requirement would have required $110 million spent on such assistance in the current fiscal year 2006, according to a fact sheet provided by Lugarï¿½s office.
Conventional Arms Elimination
The legislation also would create a $25 million annual Office of Conventional Weapons Threat Reduction and authorize the State Department to conduct a global program to remove or eliminate dangerous conventional weapons stocks.
"The U.S. governmentï¿½s current response to threats from vulnerable conventional stockpiles is dispersed between several programs at the Department of State," Lugar said.
In particular, the new office would focus on eliminating shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles, he said.
"In recent years, concerns have grown that such weapons could be used by terrorists to attack commercial airliners, military installations, and government facilities here at home and abroad. Al-Qaeda reportedly has attempted to acquire [such weapons] on a number of occasions," Lugar said.
The bill additionally would provide a statutory basis for ship-boarding agreements that have been executed under the State Departmentï¿½s Proliferation Security Initiative and make permanent the authority to use State nonproliferation and disarmament funding outside states of the former Soviet Union.
Dilution of Threat Reduction Questioned
I. "Mac" Destler, a professor at the University of Marylandï¿½s School of Public Policy, asked at the event whether the proposed expansion of U.S. threat reduction activities to include conventional arms might dilute nuclear threat reduction efforts.
"It seems to me the nuclear problem is the biggest threat," he said.
Lugar said U.S.-Russian plans for nuclear weapons and missile dismantlement are 'on track' and that progress on eliminating Russian weapon-usable fissile material stores "depends upon negotiations between the two partners."
Obama said money is being freed up within the Pentagonï¿½s Cooperative Threat Reduction program as facilities construction programs are completed.
"Some of the money that was in these programs can be put into areas like conventional, biological, chemical, without any diminution of the commitment to destroying nuclear stockpiles or securing them," he said.
Lugar noted in his speech at the event that threat reduction programs have expanded in the past from a focus on safeguarding and destroying strategic nuclear weapons to a much broader array of goals involving disposing of all types of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and materials, as well as employing former weapons scientists.
Bill Hoehn, nuclear threat reduction project manager for the nongovernmental Russian American Nuclear Security Advisory Council, expressed skepticism about the idea.
"I donï¿½t like the linkage between the traditional threat reduction mission which has been focused on WMD and a new mission focused on conventional weapons," he said. "Weï¿½ve got an awful lot to do on some of these existing programs to eliminate WMD and I think it might distract attention from that central driving mission."
Lugar at the event acknowledged previously reported trouble on gaining Russian cooperation in other aspects of the program.
"The Russians are still in denial they ever made a biological weapon and there are four places [biological weapons facilities] that none of us have been to," he said.
"Weï¿½re still on the murky edges of some situations in the relationship that are really dangerous," he said.
[EDITORï¿½S NOTE: Richard Lugar serves on the board of the Nuclear Threat Initiative. NTI is the sole sponsor of Global Security Newswire, which is published independently by the National Journal Group.]
WASHINGTON - The United States will offer details of its proposal to retrain thousands of North Korean nuclear scientists and engineers for more peaceful pursuits when six-country negotiations resume later this month, a top U.S. negotiator said on Wednesday.
Joseph DeTrani, U.S. special envoy for North Korea, said he expected the talks to be productive as negotiators focus on the "actions for actions" needed to make progress toward an agreement aimed at ending Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program.
He said it was hoped North Korea's denuclearization could be accomplished within two years, but many experts continue to doubt Pyongyang is ready to give up its nuclear trump card.
Removing North Korea from the U.S. list of states accused of sponsoring terrorism is also under discussion but the timing depends on North Korea satisfying Japan's demands concerning the kidnapping decades ago of Japanese nationals by Pyongyang, DeTrani told the Cato Institute, a conservative think tank.
"We need to understand from the government of Japan that this is an issue that has either been resolved, or will be resolved very quickly and that the United States should move in a very positive way on the terrorism issue," he said.
China has proposed November 9 as the start of the next round of six-way talks, a diplomat in Beijing said Wednesday.
DeTrani said he was awaiting confirmation of the date but "we believe the next round will be a productive round."
North Korea agreed in principle during September's fourth round to dismantle its nuclear weapons programs in return for economic, political and security benefits. The other negotiating partners are South Korea, Russia and China.
In the next round, DeTrani said "we're prepared to go from words for words to actions for actions."
"We're hopeful that when we enter into the fifth round of talks and establish a very definite process to move this process forward, we will see significant movement," he said.
Washington has demanded that Pyongyang own up to all its nuclear activities, including an acknowledged plutonium program and a uranium enrichment program that the North denies.
If that happens, Washington would offer economic assistance, including "the retraining of scientists, engineers, the workforce that is on the nuclear side of the ledger and moving them to the civilian side," DeTrani said.
The September statement of principles also mandates Washington to begin a process of normalizing relations with the North and DeTrani reaffirmed that commitment.
The scientists' retraining was mentioned in a U.S. proposal laid down in June 2004 and "we'll be much more specific as we get into the next round of talks," DeTrani said.
He gave no further details and the State Department would say only that officials are looking at retraining not just skilled scientists but also "support staff."
This could involve thousands of people and cost significant sums. The precedent is a U.S.-funded program for ex-Soviet nuclear scientists after communism collapsed.
Jon Wolfstahl, a nonproliferation expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said "scientific redirection is an important" aim and shows the United States would be directly involved in a final North Korea deal.
But he urged officials to think "more creatively and ambitiously" and perhaps also pay salaries for workers hired to dismantle the North's nuclear complex at Yongbyon and to deal with environmental problems such a project will create.
1. Adamov appeals extradition to US, Russian foreign ministry to intervene
(for personal use only)
Russia says a Swiss court's ruling that allowed ex-Atomic Energy Minister Yevgeny Adamov's extradition to the United States affects Russia's rights and interests and intends to intervene in the proceedings as one of the interested legal parties, the Ministry of Foreign affairs said in a statement Tuesday, Interfax news agency reported.
Lawyers for Adamov--who is charged with embezzling some $9m allocated by US government bodies to improve Russiaï¿½s nuclear security--meanwhile filed an appeal with Switzerlandï¿½s highest court in Lausanne against the extradition. The Swiss Federal Justice Department announced its decision to extradite the former Russian minister on October 3.
"Russia has repeatedly expressed its disagreement with the Swiss authorities' decision on Adamov's extradition to the [United States], which, in its opinion, is not based on an objective assessment of all circumstances of the case and does not comply with the provisions of international law that were applied," the Russia foreign ministry said.
"Taking into account that the decision of the Swiss authorities directly affects the Russian Federation's rights and legitimate interests, it intends to take part in the proceedings, as well."
Until the Lausanne court hands down a decision on the appeal, Adamov will remain in custody in Bern, where he was arrested May 3rd on a US Warrant. The Lausanne court is not bound by a deadline, and its verdicts are not subject to appeal.
If convicted by an American court, Adamov may face a prison sentence of up to 60 years and a $1.75 million fine.
The Russian Prosecutor General's Office also launched proceedings against Adamov, charging him with embezzlement and abuse of office.
Both countries petitioned the Swiss judiciary for Adamov's extradition. The official extradition request from the U.S. was received June 24 and the request from Russia, May 17th.
BERLIN -- Russia is prepared to host a nuclear fuel production joint venture with Iran, a plan that could help break a months-long deadlock in Tehran's talks with France, Britain and Germany, diplomats said Wednesday.
The European Union's three biggest powers broke off talks with Iran in August after Tehran ended a suspension of sensitive nuclear activities.
Under the new plan, which was conceived in Russia, Iran could conduct low-grade uranium processing work at its Isfahan uranium conversion plant, provided it agreed to fully suspend all other activities.
"Uranium conversion may be the face-saving activity that Iran could be permitted to engage in," a diplomat said, adding that low-grade conversion was not overly sensitive.
2. Iranian president created problems for Russia by protecting Syria
Mikhail Meyer, Professor and Director of the Institute of Asia and Africa , Moscow State University
(for personal use only)
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad has perplexed the world's politicians. They are wondering why he is talking like Israel's opponents of the 1960s, who called for "throwing Israel into the sea." And Ahmadi-Nejad's explanation that he just repeated Ayatollah Khomeini's words fall short of a real explanation.
There are many possible theories. According to one of them, the Iranian president used aggressive rhetoric to help his ally, Syria, out of a dramatic situation. Damascus's refusal to extradite the organizers of the murder of former Lebanese Premier Rafik Hariri and his assassins could have grave economic and political consequences. This is probably why Ahmadi-Nejad decided to draw the world's attention from Syria to Iran.
This scandal could earn the Iranian leadership the glory of loyal and fearless fighters who dared to challenge the West. It will not endanger Iran, as Israel's suggestion of expelling it from the UN is unlikely to be supported. And Iran is not afraid of economic sanctions because the demand for oil is high. A military operation against it cannot be effective, only strengthening the prestige of its leaders in the Muslim world.
However, Ahmadi-Nejad's idea will not bring him the expected dividends either and only points to his political shortsightedness. By protecting one of his allies, he has created problems for another - Russia.
The Iranian leader may have expected this and probably did it to find out what is more important for Russia, the money it is earning from the Bushehr nuclear project or a peaceful settlement of the Middle East crisis. However, this supposition seems absolutely senseless, because who else besides Russia would help Iran implement its nuclear program?
MOSCOW -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's call for Israel to be "wiped off the map" has given the Bush administration a public relations boon at a time when any good news is desperately welcomed. Russia -- seen to be friendly to the Islamic republic -- declared Ahmadinejad's comments as unacceptable. The call for Israel to be "wiped off the map" maybe the wiggle room Kremlin may now want to use to "wash its hands" of a problematic relationship with Iran and the country's suspected nuclear weapons program.
Ahmadinejad's stunningly undiplomatic language may have been for consumption in the Arab world and as a means for the recently elected Iranian president to shore up political support at home. Abroad the reaction has been almost universal -- a member of the United Nations calls for the destruction of another has been met with outrage. While American foreign policy has failed to convince the world that Iran is a member of the "axis of evil," Ahmadinejad appears to have gladly appropriated this appellation for his own country in eyes of the international community.
For more than two years the United States has warned of Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program. During most of this time, Europe called for patience and engagement of Iran. Russia, the source of nuclear power know-how and the primary contractor of Iran's declared peaceful designs, maintained a hands-off approach and even vouched for one of its most important friends in the Greater Middle East would not develop a nuclear weapon.
As it often happens in Middle East the geopolitics, sands have shifted. EU countries have moved closer to the US position -- stating that unless Iran suspends its conversion activities and return to the negotiations table, they have no choice but to support having the issue referred to the United Nations and possible sanctions put in place against Iran. Russia's position, interestingly, actually hardened during this time.
Shortly after a surprise visit by Secretary of State Condoleezza to Russia early this month to discuss Iran's nuclear program, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated on national television that, "No one, including the United States, will challenge our right to continue building the atomic electricity station in Bushehr."
Move fast forward to Oct. 27 when Ahmadinejad's made his remarks: Lavrov's was crystal clear when stating the Iranian president's words would provide more arguments for those countries that wanted to refer the Iranian nuclear dossier to the U.N. Security Council.
Does this mean Russia has changed its position on Iran and the country's nuclear power program? The answer this to question is far from a simple 'yes' or 'no.' At first glance, Russia's foreign policy appears to be replete with contradictions. A closer look depicts a very different picture.
Russia's interest in seeing Iran become a nuclear power is no different from the position of the U.S. or of Europe's -- not to speak of Israel's very real and serious security concerns. Iran with a nuclear weapon would not only destabilize and already very destabilized region, but could also become a direct threat to sovereign Russia.
So why does Russia befriend Iran? There are many obvious reasons. Russia stands to earn billions of the dollars over the long-term out-fitting Iran with peaceful nuclear technology. Second, what Russian can do for Iran -- at an attractive profit -- it can do for other countries in the world seeking to develop the same technologies. Third, engagement of Iran maintains Russia position as a powerbroker in the region. Russia is keen to have good relations with all players in the Greater Middle East -- the U.S. can't say the same.
Additionally, the most important and not so obvious reason, Russia is acting upon its "multilateralism" or "multipolarism" approach to foreign policy. This is not an anti-American or even anti-Western foreign policy agenda. It is an agenda that seeks to avoid conflict with old and new friends at time that the U.S. and Europe, to some extent, are willing to draw thick and hard lines regarding international security issues. America's "unilateralism" and "unipolarism" is obviously not well received in the world, particularly as the conflict in Iraq continues without a clear outcome justifying the war in the first place.
Both "multilateralism" and "multipolarism" can also used to describe the Kremlin's "wiggle room" -- to sit on the fence attempting to exact diplomatic advantage while not being deemed as an obstructionist in the eyes of world opinion.
This means that Russia will support Iran's nuclear program or Syria against Western pressure as long as the political costs end as a net gain. Ahmadinejad's comments clearly over-stepped the line even for the Kremlin's approach to diplomacy. The current logic of the Kremlin's foreign policy suggests that it could withdraw its support of Ahmadinejad's regime with little fanfare.
The Kremlin garners billions of dollars a month in petroleum and natural gas revenues. Finding itself as an international pariah for the sake of a nuclear power program that could eventually threaten Russia and defending a country that goes to extremes undermine its own international standing is the last thing the Kremlin wants.
1. Russia hoping for breakthrough in next round of N. Korea talks
(for personal use only)
BEIJING - Officials in Moscow are hoping for a breakthrough in the upcoming fifth round of six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear weapons program, a senior Russian diplomat said Thursday.
Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Alexeyev, the lead negotiator for Russia at the talks, which also involve South Korea, China, Japan and the United States, said that at the fifth round, opening November 9, the sides would try to hammer out practical steps to implement the agreement reached during the previous round in September.
In the Sept. 19 agreement, North Korea committed itself to dismantling its nuclear program and returning to the Non-Proliferation Treaty in exchange for the other signatories' non-aggression guarantees and pledges to promote economic cooperation in energy, trade, and investment and to help build nuclear plants for civilian use, including a light-water reactor.
2. Russia Calls on North Korea to Scrap Nuclear Weapons
(for personal use only)
Russia has proposed that the provision of light-water reactors (LWRs) to North Korea and the Northï¿½s dismantling of nuclear weapons should take place simultaneously.
"Here you see an issue of mutual mistrust. The only solution, therefore, is to synchronize all the steps," Russian Ambassador to Seoul, Glev Ivashentsov said in an interview with Yonhap news agency. "Any preconditions may lead to mistrust and a lack of trust may delay the process."
During the fourth round of six-party talks on ending the Northï¿½s nuclear ambitions that took place in Beijing in early September the parties produced a joint statement on providing a security guarantee and LWRs and other economic benefits to North Korea in return for the Northï¿½s abandonment of its nuclear weapons and related programs.
Washington and Pyongyang, however, are at odds over the parts of the joint statement relating to an "early date" for North Koreaï¿½s return to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and an "appropriate time" for the parties to begin talks on providing LWRs to the North.
Christopher Hill, the chief U.S. negotiator, has said, "The appropriate time comes when the DPRK (North Korea) gets rid of its nuclear weapons, gets rid of its nuclear programs, comes back into the NPT and comes back into full IAEA safeguards."
North Korea, however, said it will return to the NPT and allow IAEA inspections only after receiving LWRs from the U.S., heralding a row in the upcoming fifth round of the talks in early November.
As a compromising gesture, Seoul officials said negotiations for the provision of LWRs could begin before the North dismantles its nuclear weapons, with the construction project then starting after the weapons have been scrapped.
Ivashentsov stressed the need for the participants in the six-way talks to "be a team to produce positive conditions," saying "There should not be a bloc of five parties against one. There should not be a bloc of three parties against three."
Russia and China are said to be siding with North Korea in the nuclear disarmament talks, which also involve South Korea, the U.S. and Japan.
The Russian envoy urged all the parties concerned to be patient. "A solution cannot be achieved within a week or two."
On the possible provision of food or any other economic aid to North Korea in return for the Northï¿½s nuclear disarmament, the envoy said, "We are ready to participate in any project, including one to solve the Northï¿½s energy problems, to help North Korea along with other parties of the six-party talks."
Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold a one-on-one meeting with President Roh Moo-hyun on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum which takes place in the southeastern port city of Busan from Nov. 12 to 19, according to the envoy.
It will be the 15th summit meeting between leaders of South Korea and Russia since the bilateral relations were improved 15 years ago, he said. "It shows the relationship between our countries really approaching the level of trustful and multi-sided partnership."
The envoy hoped Putinï¿½s attendance at the Busan APEC summit will "serve as an important step for Russia to bring economic cooperation with Asia-Pacific countries."
"APEC is very important to Russia because two-thirds of Russia lies in Asia. Only Russia and Brunei are self-sufficient in energy among APEC member countries," he said.
He said Russia can offer oil and natural gas as well as electric power to the two Koreas and China from its far-eastern island of Sakhalin. Energy supplies there are currently being developed.
Russia has been engaging in talks with relevant countries for a feasibility study on linking the Trans-Siberian Railway (TSR) and Trans-Korean Railway (TKR), which he described as a "pillar of economic cooperation" between Russia and its Asian neighbors.
Once connected, it will cut 25 days off the journey time of cargo containers to West Europe from Busan, which normally takes 45 days by ship. "It will be much cheaper and much handier," he said.
The envoy said South Korea and Russia need to further enhance bilateral cooperation in science and technology, noting that Russia was ready to transfer high technology to interested Korean firms.
"You see more than one third of the helicopters used in South Korea are Russian made," he said. "It will also be a big step in science and technology cooperation that a first South Korean cosmonaut will be launched into space on a Russian spacecraft by 2007 as scheduled."
1. Russia to have new-generation warheads by 2008, top brass tell Putin
(for personal use only)
[Presenter] We have just received footage of Vladimir Putin meeting the defence minister [Sergey Ivanov] and the chief of the General Staff [Yuriy Baluyevskiy]. They reported to the head of state on the plans to rearm the Russian army. In particular, they said that, during the next few years, the Defence Ministry would buy the latest strategic weapons, including Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missiles equipped with new-generation warheads.
[Putin] We spoke about the new weapon systems. What is being done as regards strategic weapons?
[Baluyevskiy] Mr Supreme Commander. On 1 November, we carried out a successful test of a standardized combat asset for our naval and ground-based strategic components, with which Bulava [ship-launched missile system] and Topol [missile] with a multiple re-entry vehicle will be equipped in the future. The test was a success. We are planning another, more complicated test, but we believe that the chosen direction is correct and there will be [a positive] result.
[Ivanov] As regards the component of our strategic forces of the future, I can add that, first; all this is manufactured in Russia. Second, we plan to complete these tests by 2008 to ensure that we have new vessels, new missile carriers and new standardized combat assets, including those with multiple re-entry vehicles, for both naval and ground-based components of our strategic forces.
Source: RTR Russia TV, Moscow, in Russian 1100 gmt 3 Nov 05
The Russian military is claiming that it has a nuclear warhead to counter the American antiballistic defense system. A RS-12M1 Topol-M intercontinental missile with the new warhead was tested in Kazakhstan yesterday. The launch from a mobile launcher was the sixth test of the system intended to overcome American antiballistic defenses. This was the first launch to take place not at the Kura testing ground at Plesetsk in Kamchatka, but at the Kapustin Yar ground, part of the Balkhash complex in Priozersk, Kazakhstan. The change was made began the radar system at Kura is in such poor condition that it would not be able to maneuvers the warheads carry out after separating from the intercontinental missiles, while American facilities in Alaska would be able to. In Kazakhstan, the Russians were able to control everything themselves.
The Defense Ministry called the launch a success. It claims that no antiballistic system existing today can stop the new warhead. According to strategic missile forces commander Nikolay Solovtsov, the new warhead will be installed on regular Topol-M missiles beginning next year. The 54th Division in Teikovo, Ivanovo Region will be the first to be equipped with it. The forces are to receive nine new launchers per year as well. Nuclear warheads will be installed on 40 non-mobile Topol-Ms and the Bulava-30 underwater missiles that are to be fitted in the Borei nuclear submarine. A warhead is being designed with a dividable warhead. If that research is successful, it will be the first new intercontinental missile Moscow has created since it withdrew from the SALT-2 treaty with Washington in response to the new American antiballistic defense system.
MOSCOW - Issues related to the disposal of chemical weapons were addressed during a two-day forum in Moscow, which closed on Wednesday.
The forum participants analyzed Russia's progress in implementing the Chemical Weapons Convention, sources in the event's organizing committee told Interfax.
While adjusting the federal program for the disposal of Russia's chemical arms stockpiles, the government confirmed the main principles approved by the State Chemical Disarmament Commission, the sources said. The government pledged that the disposal program will be finalized by 2012. The program's second stage will begin in 2007 and third stage in 2009.
2. Ukraine denies reports of chemical, nuclear repositories near Russian border
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KIEV - The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry denied Tuesday a news report about repositories of chemical weapons and nuclear waste near the Russian border.
"The information [published by a Russian newspaper last week] on such repositories...in Ukraine is false, irresponsible, and provocative," Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk said.
The ministry sent inquiries about the publication to the country's Defense and Emergency Situations Ministries and the nuclear regulation agency, he said, adding that the departments had confirmed the information was false.
1. A Strategy for Central Asia: Statement Before the Subcommittee on the Middle East and Central Asia of the House International Relations Committee, Washington, DC, October 27, 2005
Daniel Fried, Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs
U.S. Department of State
(for personal use only)
Madame Chair, Members of the Subcommittee: Thank you for the opportunity to discuss with you today developments in, and the Administration's policy towards, Central Asia. I would like to take this opportunity to outline our policy goals and the challenges we face in implementing them. We pursue three sets of strategic interests in Central Asia. These are:
Security; Energy and regional economic cooperation; and Freedom through reform. We believe that these objectives are indivisible and ultimately consistent. Political reform, economic reform and security all are mutually reinforcing.
In FY 2005, we budgeted over $240 million in assistance to Central Asia, focusing our efforts on building and strengthening civil society, promoting democratic and economic reform, and combating criminal activities and terrorism. We are also directing assistance toward promoting regional security--through counterproliferation, counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics cooperation. This is money well spent.
We pursue all three sets of our strategic interests in tandem, because failure in one area will undermine the chance of success in another. We are therefore supporting political and economic reform, rule of law, good governance, respect for human rights, religious freedom and tolerance, free trade and open markets, development of small businesses, energy investment, and cooperation in the fight against terror and weapons of mass destruction, all at the same time.
In the period since their independence, the countries of Central Asia also have been an integral part of the United Statesï¿½ nonproliferation strategy. Kazakhstanï¿½s role in the former Soviet Unionï¿½s nuclear missile launch capacity and weapons grade nuclear fuel generation goals made it one of the first countries included under Nunn-Lugar Counterproliferation assistance. Kazakhstanï¿½s cooperation with the United States under these programs has set a benchmark.
We later included the other four countries in a regional Export Control and related Border Security (EXBS) strategy to control the spread of Chemical, Biological, Nuclear and Radiological (CBRN) weapons.
Central Asiaï¿½s location as a crossroads for trade also makes it a crossroads for traffickers in weapons of mass destruction, missiles, and related technologies, particularly through their air routes. The Central Asia Republics have almost unanimously endorsed the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI). The strong stance by these governments in support of PSI will serve as a deterrent to would be proliferators, and will ensure strategically important partners to the United States and other PSI participants in our global efforts to stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
The Department of State provides nonproliferation assistance in Central Asia drawing on funding from Nonproliferation, Anti-Terrorism, Demining and Related Programs (NADR). The multi-million dollar efforts of the Science Centers Program, Bio-Chem Redirect Program, and Bio-Industry Initiative, are central to our efforts to engage former weapons experts from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, in transparent, sustainable, cooperative civilian research projects. This work is carried out through two multilateral Science Centers: the International Science and Technology Center in Moscow, and the Science and Technology Center in Ukraine in Kyiv.
Due to increasing concerns regarding terrorist access to biological and chemical expertise, the Department of State has recently targeted significant resources toward engaging biological and chemical experts in Central Asia through our scientist redirection efforts.
The Export Control and related Border Security (EXBS) Program uses funding from Nonproliferation, Anti-Terrorism, Demining and Related Programs (NADR), and the FREEDOM Support Act (FSA) to achieve the United States Governmentï¿½s nonproliferation goals. The lack of delineated and demarcated internal borders among these five countries under Soviet rule made the need for assistance to border security projects a priority. Most EXBS program funding in Central Asia during Fiscal Years 2000-2005 delivered basic equipment and training to customs officials and border guards to secure borders and detect nuclear materials transit.
Through the Nonproliferation and Disarmament Fund (NDF), the Department of State has assisted the Department of Energy in funding the draining of sodium and spent fuel disposition at the BN-350 reactor at Aktau, Kazakhstan, and is also providing funds to enhance pathogen security legislation in Georgia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Through NDF, the Department has also funded additional physical security upgrades at the Uzbekistan Institute of Nuclear Physics, including perimeter fencing, conversion of the reactor to utilize low-enriched uranium fuel, upgrades to the control room, and return of 70kgs of Highly-Enriched Uranium to Russia.
This is the kind of leadership that Kazakhstan has shown in the past when, at the end of the Cold War, it renounced its nuclear weapons and freely transferred over half a ton of weapons-grade uranium to secure sites outside the country.
Today, as the spread of nuclear weapons takes new forms, Kazakhstan is expanding its cooperation with the United States through the Proliferation Security Initiative.
President Bush has in fact cited Kazakhstan as a key example of how a state rids itself of weapons of mass destruction when it has the will to do so.
Turkmenistan recently publicly agreed to support the Proliferation Security Initiative, and adopted a decree banning over-flights of planes suspected of carrying WMD or missile technology. These are positive steps. We plan to continue our assistance in counter-narcotics training, and to enhance Export Control and related border security program activities. We also support increasing Turkmenistanï¿½s IMET participation, focusing on junior officers, and inviting participation in the Department of Defenseï¿½s Counterterrorism fellowship program.
Conclusion Our policy challenges in Central Asia are formidable but not unassailable. Pursuing a balance among our three sets of core interests--security, energy and regional cooperation, and freedom through reform--offers the best chance of success. If we can succeed in this effort, we believe that Central Asia can reemerge as a key interchange of commerce and culture, as it was for centuries during the period of the Great Silk Road, a region that contributes to Afghanistanï¿½s stability as well as to our own security.
Accomplishing this goal will require wise use of our limited resources. We look forward to working with the committee in this important effort.
2. Cooperation Between the U.S. and Kazakhstan Against the Threat of Weapons of Mass Destruction: Remarks at Ulba Blend Down Ceremony, Ust Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan
Robert G. Joseph, Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security
U.S. Department of State
(for personal use only)
Good Afternoon Mr. President. It is a pleasure to be in Kazakhstan and experience the warm hospitality of your great country. Minister Tokayev, Minister Shkolnik, Senator Nunn, Mr. Turner, distinguished guests. I am pleased to be with you today to commemorate another landmark in cooperation between the United States and Kazakhstan against the threat of weapons of mass destruction.
It is my particular privilege to present to you, Mr. President, a letter from President Bush, which underscores the importance he places on our continuing work together. Allow me to read that letter:
Dear Mr. President:
I send greetings to you and those gathered in Ust-Kamenogorsk to mark Kazakhstanï¿½s continued success in converting nuclear material to peaceful and productive uses.
Kazakhstan has been a leader in countering the threat of weapons of mass destruction. With help from the Nunn-Lugar program, Kazakhstan has eliminated the weapons of mass destruction and related infrastructure inherited from the Soviet Union.
More remains to be done, and I look forward to continuing our two nationsï¿½ cooperation to eliminate trafficking in weapons of mass destruction.
Sincerely, George W. Bush
The new downblending facility, which we saw today, is turning fuel that was to be used to breed weapons-grade plutonium, into low-enriched uranium to produce electric power. It is especially fitting that this same facility was the site of one of our greatest joint accomplishments: Project Sapphire -- the removal of over one-half-ton of highly-enriched uranium to make it available only for peaceful nuclear fuel, and not for the deadly purposes of terrorists or those who support them.
Mr. President, you and your government demonstrated from the earliest days of independent Kazakhstan that your real strength would come not from retaining deadly arsenals, but from cooperating with the world community to reduce and counter such threats.
Mr. President, you have ended the weapons legacy which you inherited from the Soviet Union. This is an important accomplishment for which we pause today to acknowledge. As we complete that work, we should seize the opportunity to cooperate more broadly against global proliferation. By transforming the facilities and expertise in your country, which once were used for weapons, you set the example for others of how to effectively transform weapons for peaceful purposes.
There is far more that we can and should do together--bilaterally, with regional partners, and with the broader international community. I applaud Kazakhstanï¿½s endorsement of the Proliferation Security Initiative, which is one tool in ending the trafficking of weapons of mass destruction. I look forward to ever closer cooperation to reduce and end the traffic in weapons of mass destruction related materials and equipment, and their means of delivery. Our cooperation of the last 12 years is a solid basis on which to build future counterproliferation efforts. The future of our strong partnership has never been brighter.
3. NNSA Expands Nuclear Security Cooperation with Russia: U.S. builds upon past success of securing nuclear material, nuclear warheads and facilities in Russia
National Nuclear Security Administration
(for personal use only)
At the February 2005 Bratislava Summit, the Presidents of the United States and Russia committed to expanding and deepening cooperation on nuclear security. The United States and Russia pledged to continue cooperation on security upgrades of Russian nuclear facilities and develop a plan of work through and beyond 2008. The Presidents also agreed to focus increased attention on "security culture," to include fostering disciplined, well-trained and responsible nuclear material custodians.
Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman and Russiaï¿½s Federal Agency of Atomic Energy (Rosatom) Director Alexander Rumyansev were charged with jointly developing this plan and will provide routine reports to the U.S. and Russian Presidents of progress achieved under these cooperative efforts.
NNSA Continues Progress on Securing Nuclear Materials and Weapons
ï¿½ NNSA has already made dramatic progress in securing sites with weapons usable material and nuclear warheads.
o As of the end of FY 2005, 95% of 39 Russian Navy warhead sites containing hundreds of warheads are secured.
o Within the 51 sites containing weapons-useable nuclear materials, a total of 150 buildings have received security upgrades. Security enhancements were completed at 80% of these sites at the end of FY 2005. Nearly half (49%) of all the nuclear materials within these sites have been secured.
NNSA will Complete Securing These Materials by 2008
ï¿½ NNSAï¿½s security efforts over the last 10 years have focused on securing the most vulnerable sites, many of which were smaller sites. Now that these smaller sites have largely been secured, the focus has shifted to securing the remaining larger sites. Meeting the objective of securing all of the nuclear materials by 2008 is feasible because these large sites are fewer in number but contain significant amounts of nuclear material.
Expanding Security Programs
ï¿½ NNSA began a pilot program with the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces (SRF) two years ago and is now working at 19 of the SRF sites.
ï¿½ NNSA has expanded the scope of its programs to include cooperation with Russiaï¿½s 12th Main Directorate nuclear warhead sites. Discussions to perform upgrade work at these sites are underway.
Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear energy. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without underground nuclear testing; works to reduce global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad.
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