In 2006, the Russian navy will continue its renewal program for submarine and surface forces, the chief commander of the Russian Navy Vladimir Masorin said to the daily Krasnaya Zvezda.
The navy rearmament program stipulates construction of the new missiles strategic submarine, which should become the basis for the future Russian submarine fleet. Besides, a multipurpose submarine and a diesel submarine are under construction now. These three projects on the submarine forces should be implemented in the nearest years. According to Masorin, the navy is to receive a new ballistic missile Bulava already in 2007. Yury Dolgoruky nuclear submarine should also enter service in 2007 and be armed with the Bulava missiles. The surface forces will receive a new corvette, a frigate and a few destroyers. The ships will be constructed with the new technologies, reported Krasnaya Zvezda.
At a sprawling, run-down industrial complex in Donetsk, Ukraine, weeds grow along a rusty rail spur that winds among World War II-era warehouses and factories. Little security is evident, and the facility looks like a giant junkyard.
In a way, it is -- except the "junk" consists of thousands of tons of live military munitions. When we went there last summer, we saw mortar rounds, land mines and artillery shells of all sizes stacked in huge piles and strewn carelessly about.
Sold on the black market, these conventional weapons could end up in the hands of terrorists or militant extremists anywhere in the world. Donetsk is only one of several ill-secured stockpiles of conventional weapons in Ukraine, a major dumping ground for weapons, and there are perhaps scores more in dozens of countries around the world.
These vast numbers of unused conventional weapons, particularly shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles that can hit civilian airliners, pose a major security risk to America and democracies everywhere. That's why we have introduced legislation to seek out and destroy surplus and unguarded stocks of conventional arms in Asia, Europe, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East.
Our bill would launch a major nonproliferation initiative by addressing the growing threat from unsecured conventional weapons and by bolstering a key line of defense against weapons of mass destruction. Modeled after the successful Nunn-Lugar program to dismantle former Soviet nuclear weapons, the Lugar-Obama bill would seek to build cooperative relationships with willing countries.
One part of our initiative would strengthen and energize the U.S. program against unsecured lightweight antiaircraft missiles and other conventional weapons, a program that has for years been woefully underfunded. There may be as many as 750,000 missiles, known formally as man-portable air defense systems, in arsenals worldwide. The State Department estimates that more than 40 civilian aircraft have been hit by such weapons since the 1970s. Three years ago terrorists fired missiles at -- and missed -- a jetliner full of Israeli tourists taking off from Mombasa, Kenya. In 2003 a civilian cargo plane taking off from Baghdad was struck but landed safely.
Loose stocks of small arms and other weapons also help fuel civil wars in Africa and elsewhere and, as we have seen repeatedly, provide ammunition for those who attack peacekeepers and aid workers seeking to stabilize and rebuild war-torn societies. The Lugar-Obama measure would also seek to get rid of artillery shells like those used in the improvised roadside bombs that have proved so deadly to U.S. forces in Iraq.
Some foreign governments have already sought U.S. help in eliminating their stocks of lightweight antiaircraft missiles and millions of tons of excess weapons and ammunition. But low budgets and insufficient leadership have hampered destruction. Our legislation would require the administration to develop a response commensurate with the threat, consolidating scattered programs at the State Department into a single Office of Conventional Weapons Threat Reduction. It also calls for a fivefold increase in spending in this area, to $25 million -- a relatively modest sum that would offer large benefits to U.S. security.
The other part of the legislation would strengthen the ability of America's friends and allies to detect and intercept illegal shipments of weapons of mass destruction or material that could be used in a nuclear, chemical or biological weapon. Stopping weapons of mass destruction in transit is an important complement to our first line of defense, the Nunn-Lugar program, which aims to eliminate weapons of mass destruction at their source.
We cannot do this alone. We need the vigilance of like-minded nations, and the existing Proliferation Security Initiative can enlist their help. But while the Proliferation Security Initiative has been successful in creating cooperative arrangements, many of our partners lack the capability to detect hidden weapons and interdict shipments. Our bill would address that gap.
The legislation would create an office at the State Department to support detection and intervention regarding weapons of mass destruction. It would set aside $110 million to start up the program and proposes an innovative use of our current assistance to other nations: The president would ensure that countries receiving foreign military financing to purchase U.S. equipment use 25 percent of the funds on interdicting weapons of mass destruction. This offers a potent but flexible tool to build a robust international network for detecting and interdicting weapons of mass destruction.
A thorough, multifaceted nonproliferation strategy is essential to fully defend the American people. The Nunn-Lugar program has provided a solid foundation, valuable experience and measurable results. With the Lugar-Obama legislation, we could take the next critical step forward to reshape, refocus and reinvigorate our country's nonproliferation mission.
Richard G. Lugar is a Republican senator from Indiana and chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. Barack Obama is a Democratic senator from Illinois.
1. Moscow-Washington military and strategic ties may weaken - Lavrov
(for personal use only)
MOSCOW - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said that Russian-U.S. military and strategic ties are set to weaken.
"Drawing from the results of this year, one could conclude that the strength of Russian-U.S. military and strategic ties, which play a stabilizing role not only for our countries, but for the world as a whole, are set to weaken under new conditions," Lavrov said in his article 'Foreign Policy Results of 2005: Thoughts and Conclusions published on the Russian Foreign Ministry's website on Monday.
"If we want sustainable, constructive bilateral relations aimed at the future, their base should be modernized according to present day realities," he said.
2. Russia annoyed at Poland missile shield plan: paper
(for personal use only)
WARSAW -- Russia is annoyed at Poland's plans to host a U.S. anti-missile system, a top Moscow general told a Polish newspaper, adding that such a space umbrella in central Europe would only make sense in a conflict with Russia.
In what critics said was a diplomatic lapse, Warsaw's new conservative government said last month that it was considering hosting the U.S. anti-missile system, making public what had previously been a subject of discreet talks with Washington.
"Of course (such a system) would be aimed against us," General Yury Baluyevsky, chief of Russia's general staff, told Gazeta Wyborcza in an interview published on Friday. "Rockets from other states would never fly to the West over Polish soil."
"Including central Europe in the U.S. anti-missile system would strengthen it in case of a conflict with Moscow--I don't expect a nuclear conflict between Russia and the West."
The United States is investing tens of billions of dollars to develop the Missile Defense Initiative (MDI), which would use rockets to shoot down ballistic missiles that could carry nuclear, chemical or bacteriological warheads.
Poland's ruling conservatives, who won September's general elections, regard the United States as the guarantor of security for Poland and want the NATO and European Union member to continue its close military co-operation with Washington.
A former Polish foreign minister said Washington had asked Warsaw to remain discreet about the shield plans to soothe Russian concerns that the move would be aimed against Moscow.
The debate about the missile shield coincided with Russia's decisions to ban the import of most Polish food products after reported irregularities in health standards and certificates. Warsaw officials say the trade row may be politically motivated.
Baluyevsky said Russia had no plans to stop Poland from obtaining a rocket shield, saying: "What can we do? Go ahead build the shield, but think what will later fall on your heads."
1. Russia could build another nuclear power plant in Iran
(for personal use only)
MOSCOW - Russia can build another nuclear power plant in Iran, a senior official from the company that builds Russian-designed nuclear plants abroad said Monday.
"If Iran holds a tender to build a nuclear plant, Atomstroieksport will bid for it, because we have the opportunity for the successful construction of another nuclear power plant in Iran," Vladimir Pavlov said.
He said Russia's recent successful projects to build nuclear power plants overseas, including in China, attested to Russia's ability to carry out another project in Iran.
Earlier reports said an Iranian government session chaired by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad decided to build another nuclear power plant in its southwestern province of Huzestan.
In early 2005, the Iranian parliament ratified a bill on the construction of nuclear power plants in the country in the next 10 years, targeting 20,000 Megawatts to satisfy Iran's electricity demand.
Russia is currently finishing the construction of the first unit of a nuclear power plant in the Persian Gulf city of Bushehr to become operational in 2006.
2. Six-party talks example for Iran negotiations: Russia
Xinhua News Agency
(for personal use only)
MOSCOW -- The six-party negotiations on the Korean nuclear issue provide an example for a possible format of consultations with Iran over its disputed nuclear program, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday.
In an article posted on the Foreign Ministry's website, Lavrov said everybody recognized that neither the Korean nuclear issue nor the Iranian one can be solved by military means or imposing sanctions.
"There is a common rule applicable to both cases: problems are best resolved through involvement, rather than by the isolation of problem states'," Lavrov said.
"It would be useful to compare the two situations if we agree that there is no alternative to a political and diplomatic settlement," he said, adding that such comparative analysis would prove that re-arranging existing contacts could become a considerable resource in resolving the Iranian nuclear problem.
"All these contacts could be brought together to establish bilateral dialog," Lavrov said.
Germany, France and Britain, which have represented European Union in talks with Iran, had been trying to persuade Tehran to scrap uranium enrichment, but the talks collapsed after Iran ended a freeze on uranium conversion in August. Iran has insisted on a full nuclear fuel cycle.
Moscow has proposed a plan that would allow Iran a civilian nuclear program but transfer uranium enrichment, the most sensitive part of the nuclear fuel cycle, to Russia. The proposal was backed by the EU and the United States.
3. Iran ready to resume nuke talks with EU: Lavrov
(for personal use only)
LONDON - Iran is ready to resume talks on its nuclear program with the European Union, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, expressing hope negotiations will resume in the near future, AFP reported.
Lavrov said that thanks the close contacts Russia has maintained with the parties "we have succeeded in keeping the Iranian question within the framework of the IAEA ... which gives us the possibility of relaunching negotiations between the EU-3 and Tehran, and Iran is ready for that," Lavrov told journalists.
Last month the UN nuclear watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) put off taking Iran to the UN Security Council, which could impose sanctions, after the EU-3, Britain, France and Germany, agreed to give more time for new Russian diplomacy to work, AFP noted.
Backed by the United States, the European Union is trying to resume talks with Iran on guaranteeing the Islamic Republic is not secretly developing nuclear weapons, as Washington claims.
Lavrov reiterated Moscow's proposal, even though Tehran has rejected it, which would allow Iran to conduct uranium enrichment outside the country in Russia. In that way Iran would not be able to obtain the nuclear technology crucial to making atom bombs, AFP stated.
"We think" the idea of organizing the uranium enrichment outside Iran's borders "is still possible" and "could allow us to reach an accord and manage the Iranian nuclear problem," Lavrov said.
He also said the talks will take place "in the near future," after a meeting with his new German counterpart, Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
Steinmeier added that Germany hoped "Iran would realize the necessity of returning to negotiations and we see a good chance of attaining results at the next round of talks."
EU-Iran talks collapsed in August when Iran ended its suspension of uranium conversion, the first step towards making enriched uranium, which can be used to fuel nuclear reactors or as the explosive core of atom bombs.
On Wednesday Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said preliminary negotiations on resuming talks between Iran and the EU will start within two weeks.
Moscow will sell Tor M-1 (SA-15 Gauntlet) surface-to-air missiles capable of knocking down cruise missiles and aircraft bombs to Iran. This contract does not violate any of the Kremlin's international commitments.
"Several days ago, Russia and Iran signed a contract for the delivery of Tor M-1 SAM systems," a defense factory manager said. "This concerns missiles that were produced on a previous Greek contract," an air defense industry official added. In all, Athens bought 21 Tor M-1 systems and had the right to purchase another 29. However, it decided to scrap this deal in the late 1990s.
"The Greek contract was worth $526 million, while the Iranian contract's price may exceed $700 million," Dmitry Vasilyev, an expert at the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, said.
"In 2000, Moscow withdrew from a Russian-U.S. agreement that restricted arms deliveries to Iran. Consequently, it was believed that Iran would become the third largest importer of Russian combat hardware after China and India. But Tehran spent not more than $300-400 million on Russian weaponry because it was not sure whether Moscow could implement its military-technical policies without asking Washington's advice," said Mikhail Barabanov, scientific editor of Arms Exports magazine.
"The sale of Tor M-1 missiles to Iran should be viewed as a purely commercial operation because they are tactical weapons," Vagif Guseinov, director of the Institute for Strategic Assessments and Analysis, believes. "Iran must defend the Bushehr nuclear power plant due to be completed by Russia by 2007, because Israel has repeatedly said that it was examining a possible preventive strike against that facility," Professor Sergei Druzhilovsky from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), explained.
"Iran is not covered by any international arms-trade sanctions," Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the State Duma's international affairs committee, noted. In his opinion, the Russian-Iranian contract does not therefore violate any of Moscow's international commitments. "Instead of taking legal action, the West would react politically to this deal," Kosachev stressed.
1. Russia, N. Korea stress importance of joint statement
(for personal use only)
MOSCOW - Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Alexeyev and North Korean Ambassador to Moscow Pak Ui Chun have recognized the importance of fulfilling the provisions stipulated by the joint statement adopted at the fourth round of six-sided talks on the North Korean nuclear problem.
"The importance of the implementing the joint statement approved after the fourth round of talks by all parties was singled out," a ministry report says.
Alexeyev and Pak also exchanged opinions on matters related to the continuation of the fifth round of the talks at their meeting on Monday.
2. Russia, North Korea could restore cross-border rail track together
(for personal use only)
MOSCOW - Russia's Transportation Minister said Monday that his country was willing to restore and operate the Khasan-Tumenjiang-Rajin cross-border rail track with North Korea on a shared-cost basis.
Igor Levitin, who is also co-chair of the intergovernmental commission for economic, scientific and technological cooperation, discussed the possibility of jointly restoring the 55-km track at a meeting with North Korean Ambassador Pak Ui Chun. Transportation-related issues dominated the agenda.
"The reconstruction by Russian engineers of this railroad section will be a practical step toward implementing agreements reached earlier between the heads of state of Russia, the Republic of Korea and the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] while also demonstrating Russia's support and willingness to continue participating in the project," Levitin said.
The minister also pointed out the feasibility of jointly using the port of Rajin, where a large oil refining facility is based.
Earlier this year, Russian and North Korean officials began negotiating the possibility of the track's extension to Rajin so that Russian crude could be taken there by rail for subsequent refining.
1. Russia set to conduct second test launch of Bulava-M missile
(for personal use only)
MOSCOW - Russia will conduct the second in-flight test of the sea-based Bulava-M strategic ballistic missile, one of the missile's chief designers said Friday at a news conference.
"We will conduct the second launch in December and commence the final test stage in 2006," said Yury Solomonov, director of the Moscow Institute of Thermotechnics.
Russia successfully conducted the first in-flight test of the Bulava missile in a White Sea trial in September 2005.
The Bulava (SS-NX-30) is the submarine-launched version of Russia's most advanced missile, the Topol-M (SS-27) solid fuel ICBM.
Solomonov said Russia's design bureaus had been working on increasing the so-called "survivability" of missiles, citing an example of the Topol-M ballistic missile that can penetrate existing air defenses.
"This missile has a very short active flight phase, which makes it practically impossible to intercept during the active phase," the chief designer said.
MOSCOW - The modernization of Russian missile systems might double their service period and reduce the costs of arms upgrading, the commander of the Russian Strategic Forces said Friday.
"We can extend exploitation terms for weapons if they provide for what they were constructed for," Colonel General Nikolai Solovtsov said. "The extension of the service life costs far less than the construction of new weapons."
He said modernization is also convenient from the political point of view within the framework of Russia's obligatory reduction of weapons under international agreements.
4. Russian army acts on possible "nuclear club" expansion
(for personal use only)
MOSCOW - The plans to develop Russia's Strategic Missile Forces /RVSN/ take into account all threats related to a possible expansion of the "nuclear club", i.e. the countries possessing atomic weapons, RVSN commander Col-Gen Nikolai Solovtsov told reporters on Friday.
"At present, many countries are eager to come in possession of nuclear weapons; the nuclear club will be expanding. The RVSN's development plan takes into account all these threats. We are working on new missile complexes and new types of equipment with completely new characteristics," the commander said.
NEW DELHI -- Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said low-enriched uranium used for the Tarapur nuclear reactors is separate from a signed U.S.-India nuclear agreement.
"The fuel for Tarapur is a separate question; it is not related to the nuclear deal," said Singh, The Hindu newspaper reported Monday.
"The agreement is clear. In the meantime the United States will encourage its partners to also consider this request (of fuel supplies for safeguarded reactors at Tarapur) expeditiously," said an Indian Foreign Ministry official.
He said this means the supply of low-enriched uranium is not linked to the implementation of other commitments like the separation of civil and military facilities.
The United States disagrees with India's interpretation of the nuclear deal signed on July 18, arguing that a low-enriched uranium agreement goes beyond the U.S.-India deal, making it harder to pass legislative changes in the U.S. Congress.
India signed a deal with the United States in July, whereby Washington agreed to provide nuclear energy to New Delhi for civilian use provided India separates it civilian and nuclear facilities.
Singh noted that issues related to energy security would figure in his discussions with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.
"It is quite possible that we may touch upon uranium for Tarapur as well," Singh said.
The Foreign Ministry official said early indications from Russia were positive and that even if the India-United States nuclear deal were to hit a major roadblock, Moscow was leaning towards providing low-enriched uranium for Tarapur commitments like the separation of civil and military facilities.
The Russian Atomic Agency is set to demand that prices for uranium bought in Ukraine and of nuke fuel supplied by the Russian state-owned company be leveled, Interfax news agency quoted on Friday a high-ranking official at the atomic agency as saying. The authorities explain that uranium prices have shot up, whereas fuel price remain the same, so the company annually loses $150 million on the Ukrainian contract. The Ukrainian Fuel and Energy Ministry calls these estimates misleading and says fuel prices were fixed up to 2010.
Sergey Kirienko, the new head of the Russian nuke watchdog, got down to raise the profitability of nuclear cooperation with Ukraine. The atomic agency believes that it sells Russian fuel assemblies to Ukraine too cheaply and pays for Ukrainian uranium too much. "Ukraine sells us uranium at world prices, while we supply them with nuclear fuel at ï¿½a brotherlyï¿½ price. This is unfair," says Vitaly Konovalov, Kirienkoï¿½s aide. The price for one kilogram of natural uranium has grown to $88 from $25 over the last two years, according to the Russian agency. Russian fuel assemblies cost remains unchanged.
The Ukrainians, in their turn, claim that these figures overstated. Local experts say that the price for uranium bought in Ukraine does not exceed $75. On another note, Russian won the contract for fuel assemblies supplies at an international tender back in 1996. The contract expires in 2010, so the Ukrainians underlined that all the prices were laid out there and later set by a bilateral intergovernmental agreement in 2003. At the same time, Ukraine is not bound by any similar agreement with Russia, so it is eligible to sell uranium at world prices.
Still, the Russian Atomic Agency underscore that they will not dictate categorical terms for Ukraine as yet and hope to come to terms with their counterparts in 2007.
3. Presidential envoy appointed nuclear watchdog head
(for personal use only)
MOSCOW - Konstantin Pulikovsky, 57, former presidential envoy to Russia's Far Eastern Federal District, has been appointed head of the Federal Agency for Environmental, Technological and Atomic Oversight.
Pulikovsky was introduced to his staff Monday, the agency said.
Kamil Iskhakov, mayor of the Russian Republic of Tatarstan's capital of Kazan, replaced Pulikovsky. The agency was temporarily headed by deputy head Andrei Malyshev since July 2, 2004.
Pulikovsky was deputy commander of the North Caucasus military district and was in command of the Northwest military group in the first 1994-1996 military campaign in Chechnya. From July to August 1996, Pulikovsky was commander of the Unified Federal Group of Federal Forces in Chechnya.
His political career started in Krasnodar, southern Russia, in 1998. Pulikovsky was presidential envoy to the Far East since May 2000 until his recent appointment.
4. China postpones decision on nuclear station bids
(for personal use only)
BEIJING - The general contractor for the Russian Federal Nuclear Power Agency for the construction and modernization of nuclear power plants abroad, Atomstroiexport, will likely have to wait for a decision on its bid for construction of nuclear power plants in China until next year.
Atomstroiexport, in which Russia's energy giant Gazprom has a 53.85% majority stake, has placed its bid along with France's Areva and the U.S. company Westinghouse on a CNNC-originated tender for construction of four 1,000-megawatt reactors, two in the city of Sanmen in the Zhejiang province and two in Yangjiang in the Guangdong province.
The China Daily cited Friday the China National Nuclear Corporation Director Chen Hua as saying that the decision will be most likely made in mid 2006.
"Negotiations are unlikely to be completed by year's end," the paper quoted Chen Hua as saying.
Chen Hua said the CNNC was not satisfied with proposals made by various companies in terms of cost, engineering project and safety. He said the winning bid would most likely come from either Areva or Westinghouse.
Nineteen reactors are currently operational or under construction in China, with Atomstroiexport building the first and second units of the Tianwan NPP in Lianyungang in the Jiangsu province.
1. Mikhail Kamynin, the Spokesman of Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Answers a Question from ITAR-TASS News Agency Regarding Russia's Signing of an Arms Supply Contract with Iran
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
(for personal use only)
Question: Is it true that Russia has signed a contract to supply arms to Iran?
Answer: Russia has no practice to comment upon each of its contracts in the field of military technological cooperation, with Iran among others.
All our contracts on military technological cooperation are in full accordance with our international obligations, including those with respect to nonproliferation, as well as in full accordance with Russian legislation.
All of this applies to the contract with Iran too, which deals solely with defensive arms.
DISCLAIMER: Nuclear News is presented for informational purposes only. Views presented in any given article are those of the individual author or source and not of RANSAC. RANSAC takes no responsibility for the technical accuracy of information contained in any article presented in Nuclear News.
RANSAC's Nuclear News is compiled two to three times weekly. To be automatically removed from our mailing list, click on the following link: Remove Me From The List