1. Terror War Unites Russian, U.S. Scientists in Bioweapons Fight
Scripps Howard News Service
(for personal use only)
It's a long way from the sunlit classroom on the California coast where Gennadiy Lepeshkin is learning English to the secret laboratories of the former Soviet Union where he helped make biological weapons.
As the 58-year-old Russian scientist said through a translator, ''Now it's a different time.''
The Cold War is off; a war against terrorism is on. That explains why Lepeshkin and three other visitors from Russia are ensconced at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, trying to become conversant with terms such as ''dangerous pathogens,'' ''infectious agents'' and ''probability of accidents.''
The fellows are the first of what the institute hopes will be a long procession of scientists to come to Monterey as part of a new anti-bioterrorism program run by the State Department.
We occupy them, they help us
Called the BioIndustry Initiative, it was created after the Sept. 11 attacks with the aim of helping former bioweapons scientists apply their skills to peaceful ends, such as producing vaccines and drugs.
If they can speak English and make friends here, the idea goes, the scientists will be more likely and able to collaborate with American businesses on projects that jibe with U.S. interests -- and less likely to work with enemies of this country.
''It's a complete win-win situation,'' said Raymond Zilinskas, a microbiologist and authority on biological weapons at the Monterey Institute's Center for Nonproliferation Studies. ''We occupy them, keep them from the bad guys and at the same time, we get good stuff out of them.''
The federal government handpicked the four participants and is paying their expenses. The contract with the Monterey Institute, worth up to $64,500, brings the fellows to Monterey for eight weeks.
2. Russian Researcher Serving Sentence for Nuclear Espionage Refuses Chance for Pardon
Global Security Newswire
(for personal use only)
A Russian arms control researcher serving a 15-year prison sentence on charges of passing classified information about Russiaï¿½s nuclear weapons to a London firm has refused to admit guilt in order to receive a presidential pardon, Agence France-Presse reported yesterday (see GSN, Aug. 17, 2004).
ï¿½Igor Sutyagin does not consider himself guilty and has not committed any crime. His conviction was a judicial error,ï¿½ his attorney, Anna Stavitskaya, said yesterday.
Sutyagin has maintained he gathered only open-source information, which he legally passed on to the consulting firm Alternative Futures.
Russiaï¿½s FSB security service, however, has said the company was a front for the CIA (Agence France-Presse, March 23).
The destruction of more than 4,000 tonnes of VX, the most toxic chemical agent, is expected to begin in 2006 in Kirov Oblast. There are still no environmental control and monitoring instruments sensitive enough to detect chemical agents in the environment, however. The maximum permissible concentration (PDK) has not been established for several distinct pollutants created during the detoxification of chemical agents. We need instruments capable of reliably detecting and measuring the concentration of toxic agents in the environment. We need the quick approval of the industrial technology for the recycling of the reaction mass remaining after the neutralization of toxic agents, the final choice of the state enterprises that will implement this technology, the "linking" of these enterprises with the new chemical weapons destruction facilities, and the determination of the sources and amounts of funding for the development of technology and the completion of the work involved in the recycling of reaction mass.
The protection of people from the effects of possible accidents at chemical weapons storage and destruction facilities will necessitate the provision of the population with personal means of protection and with medications and other medical equipment, including antidotes, for emergency treatment, prior to the start of operations at these facilities. Regrettably, the supply of personal means of protection in Kirov Oblast is inconsistent with the estimated population of the facility's projected protective action zone.
The population is also wary of the method of destroying the VX. Will it be completely detoxified? What kind of chemical composition will the reaction mass have? How will the products of detoxification be destroyed? The currently proposed method is no more than a set of complex chemical reactions with numerous uncertainties, including the methods for the thorough recycling of the reaction mass.
The possibility of a terrorist threat posed by the builders working on the chemical weapons destruction plant construction project has not been given sufficient consideration. According to current plans, they will be housed on the grounds of the military unit where the munitions depot is located. The presence of these 1,500 people, monitored by no one during their free time, will create additional security problems for the facility. Furthermore, it is no secret that conscripts from the North Caucasus, including some from the Chechen Republic, performed their military service in this unit in the 1970s and 1980s. The local precinct patrolmen will be incapable of maintaining law and order under these conditions.
The weapons slated for destruction at the Maradykovskiy facility are aircraft munitions and missile warheads. They represent 17.4 percent of the toxic agents in the entire Russian supply of chemical weapons. The news media have displayed increasing interest in the issue of chemical disarmament. This has been the subject of more than 600 articles and radio and TV reports in Kirov Oblast since 2000. An analysis of these indicates the existence of "third parties" striving to take advantage of the chemical disarmament issue for political and economic gain, including campaign advantages. Several articles are of a clearly incendiary nature. The Kirov Oblast Government has encountered resistance in the media by the Union for Chemical Safety. Some articles about the plans for the destruction of chemical weapons at the Maradykovskiy facility are arousing unwarranted fear in the population and fueling anti-chemical hysteria. At the request of certain groups, the government's actions in connection with the construction of the plant, the destruction of the aircraft munitions, and the choice of technology, are being criticized. The oblast population is being urged to oppose the plans for chemical disarmament.
On the other hand, many other articles address the confusion in the Russian regions and the regime's attempts to use chemical disarmament programs to raise the level of socioeconomic security. Residents are concerned about social protection, the safety of the chemical weapons destruction process, and the compensation and benefits envisaged in the law "On the Destruction of Chemical Weapons."
Renewal talks for the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) are scheduled for May, yet the United States and other nuclear powers seem indifferent to its fate. This is remarkable, considering the addition of Iran and North Korea as states that either possess or seek nuclear weapons programs. A recent United Nations report warned starkly: "We are approaching a point at which the erosion of the non-proliferation regime could become irreversible and result in a cascade of proliferation."
A group of "Middle States" has a simple goal: "To exert leverage on the nuclear powers to take some minimum steps to save the non-proliferation treaty in 2005." Last year this coalition of nuclear-capable states -- including Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden and eight NATO members -- voted for a new agenda resolution calling for implementing NPT commitments already made. Tragically, the United States, Britain and France voted against this resolution.
So far the preparatory committee for the forthcoming NPT talks has failed even to achieve an agenda because of the deep divisions between nuclear powers that refuse to meet their own disarmament commitments and the nonnuclear movement, whose demands include honoring these pledges and considering the Israeli arsenal.
Until recently all American presidents since Dwight Eisenhower had striven to restrict and reduce nuclear arsenals -- some more than others. So far as I know, there are no present efforts by any of the nuclear powers to accomplish these crucial goals.
The United States is the major culprit in this erosion of the NPT. While claiming to be protecting the world from proliferation threats in Iraq, Libya, Iran and North Korea, American leaders not only have abandoned existing treaty restraints but also have asserted plans to test and develop new weapons, including anti-ballistic missiles, the earth-penetrating "bunker buster" and perhaps some new "small" bombs. They also have abandoned past pledges and now threaten first use of nuclear weapons against nonnuclear states.
Some corrective actions are obvious:
ï¿½ The United States needs to address remaining nuclear issues with Russia, demanding the same standards of transparency and verification of past arms control agreements and dismantling and disposal of decommissioned weapons. With massive arsenals still on hair-trigger alert status, a global holocaust is just as possible now, through mistakes or misjudgments, as it was during the depths of the Cold War. We could address perhaps the world's greatest proliferation threat by fully securing Russia's stockpiles.
ï¿½ While all nuclear weapons states should agree to non-first use, the United States, as the sole superpower, should take the lead on this issue.
ï¿½ NATO needs to de-emphasize the role of its nuclear weapons and consider an end to their deployment in Western Europe. Despite its eastward expansion, NATO is keeping the same stockpiles and policies as when the Iron Curtain divided the continent.
ï¿½ The comprehensive test ban treaty should be honored, but the United States is moving in the opposite direction. The administration's 2005 budget refers for the first time to a list of test scenarios, and other nations are waiting to take the same action.
ï¿½ The United States should support a fissile materials treaty to prevent the creation and transport of highly enriched uranium and plutonium.
ï¿½ Curtail U.S. development of the infeasible missile defense shield, which is wasting huge resources, while breaking our commitment to the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty without a working substitute.
ï¿½ Act on nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, an increasing source of instability in that region. Iran has repeatedly hidden its intentions to enrich uranium while claiming that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only. This explanation has been given before, by India, Pakistan and North Korea, and has led to weapons programs in all three states. Iran must be called to account and held to its promises under the Non-Proliferation Treaty. At the same time, we fail to acknowledge how Israel's nuclear status entices Iran, Syria, Egypt and other states to join the community of nuclear weapons states.
These are vital questions, and the world will know the answers during the NPT conference in May.
2. Soldier Detained in Russian Nuclear Missile Base for Smoking Dope on Duty
(for personal use only)
A serviceman of the strategic missile unit in Russiaï¿½s Siberia has been detained for smoking marijuana while on duty and selling drugs to his comrades, the Interfax news agency reported.
A warrant officer at military unit No 28151 of the Glukhov Guards Division of the Strategic Missile Forces was detained on March 23 while selling marijuana to fellow soldiers. He did not resist arrest and military police chose not to place him in custody demanding a written pledge not to leave his unit instead.
During questioning the serviceman confessed that he had smoked marijuana for over a year, both in joints and through a home-made pipe. He also said that he had repeatedly been on combat duty while under the influence of drugs.
Commanders of the unit were quick to announce that the soldier had no access to the ï¿½nuclear buttonï¿½. They said the warrant officer served as a technician at a communications post.
The Glukhov Guards Division is stationed near Novosibirsk in West Siberia. The division is armed with Russiaï¿½s newest Topol intercontinental ballistic missiles.
3. US Expands Control Over Russian Nuclear Facilities - Nunn-Lugar Program Undergoes Further Development
Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye
(for personal use only)
The Joint Statement signed by the Russian and US Presidents at the Bratislava summit on nuclear security cooperation has provoked equivocal interpretations. There was a leak at an official Russian site (accidental or deliberate?) of information indicating that Russian nuclear facilities would be placed under tight American control before this December. Soon afterwards, this was confirmed in a statement by FSB Director Nikolay Patrushev: "The danger from international terrorists has increased many times over in connection with their possible use of weapons of mass destruction." And he called for creation of a "common antiterrorist front." At the same time, Army Chief of the General Staff General Yuriy Baluyevskiy warned publicly that small nuclear weapons soon may leave the control of nuclear powers and become accessible to the world. In his opinion, an understanding of this situation "exists both at the political and at the military level in the US, Russia, and other members of the 'nuclear club.'" Since there is "understanding," it is time to move on to coordinated action. Experts conclude that the "information leak" as well as the statements of the two highly placed officials are no accident. Matters are reaching the point where American inspections of Russian nuclear munitions storage facilities will be expanded. It is obvious that the first step of American control over Russian nuclear arsenals has been taken, and the plan for the joint nuclear group indicates that there will be more. The history of the problem and its modern understanding are analyzed by the Deputy Director of the Institute of the USA and Canada, Pavel Zolotarev, who used to hold an important post in the Ministry of Defense and is a retired major general.
The initiatives of American Senators Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar to provide assistance to Russia, Belorussia, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine in safeguarding the security of nuclear arms and materials, as well as in eliminating surplus nuclear ammunition and their delivery means, have been interpreted ambivalently in Russia since the start. There were and are people who think that the initiatives of the senators, unofficially dubbed the "Nunn-Lugar Program," are nothing less than a US effort to unilaterally disarm Russia.
THE NUNN-LUGAR PROGRAM
The Joint Threat Reduction Program (Nunn-Lugar Program) was developed in accordance with the Soviet Nuclear Threat Reduction Act of December 12, 1991. Within the framework of the US military budget, every year since 1992, funds have been allocated to assist in WMD elimination in Russia, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine. The legal basis for the use of funds in Russia is the Agreement Between the United States of America and the Russian Federation Concerning the Safe and Secure Transportation, Storage and Destruction of Weapons and the Prevention of Weapons Proliferation (Framework Agreement ) of June 17, 1992.
The basic areas of cooperation are: scrapping of removed strategic offensive arms, safe and secure transportation of nuclear materials, including weapons-grade plutonium and uranium, and destruction of chemical weapons.
The total amount of assistance to Russia in the Program from 1992 through 2002 was around 3 billion dollars, or according to American data, around 7 billion dollars. The fact is that 60-70% of funds allocated by the American side remain in the United States at enterprises which produce the special equipment, and in laboratories. There have been cases in which tens of millions of dollars were spent on business trips to Russia.
In the law on 2004 national defense spending approved by the US Congress, the US planned to allocate no less than 328 million dollars to implement the Nunn-Lugar Program in Russia.
Appropriations for chemical disarmament are 200.3 million dollars (133 million dollars in 20003). Of these funds, 190 million dollars will go to construction of industrial zones for the chemical weapons destruction facility at Shuchche, and 10 million dollars will be spent to eliminate former chemical weapons production plants at Novocheboksarsk and Volgograd.
Up to 130 million dollars have been allocated for the "nuclear program," of which 57.6 million dollars (12.5 million dollars less than in 2003) is for reduction of strategic offensive arms, 48 million dollars (40 million dollars in 2003) is for ensuring secure nuclear weapons storage, and 23.2 million dollars (around 20 million dollars in 2003) is for safe transportation.
It is proposed that 54.2 million dollars be allocated to finance the non-proliferation of biological weapons in space. Russia's share has not been decided, and it is said that the amount will depend on our readiness to cooperate, especially as regards access of American experts to biological facilities.
In the defense budget, it is proposed that monitoring of the use of allocated funds to decommission Russian WMD be stepped up. For the US this means tightening of control over work at facilities, and it also wants the Russian side to promptly issue authorizing documents for implementation of the corresponding projects.
As follows from the budget of the Ministry of Energy, 463.7 million dollars were invested in coordination of non-proliferation with CIS countries in fiscal 2004. Out of this, it was proposed that Russia be allocated no less than 425 million dollars. The program for physical protection, control, and accounting of nuclear materials traditionally enjoys special support (266 million dollars).
A total of 50 million dollars have been allocated to the program to prevent the production of weapons-grade plutonium (closure of reactors at Seversk and Zheleznogorsk). Forty-seven million dollars have been allocated for the program to recycle surplus weapons-grade plutonium. Forty million dollars have been appropriated for the "Atomic Cities" program and the "Initiative to Prevent Proliferation."
In the current fiscal year, 140.4 million dollars have been invested through the State Department for non-proliferation assistance to the CIS, of which Russia gets around 90 million dollars. A total of 69 million dollars is being given to implement projects within the framework of the International Scientific-Technical Center (MNTTs), including conversion of biological and chemical weapons facilities. Fifteen million dollars is to strengthen the export control system.
Achievements in the recycling of nuclear weapons in the post-Soviet space are counted among the most important results of the Cooperative Threat Reduction Agreement. Specifically, as of January 12, 2005, 6564 nuclear warheads have been eliminated (a total of 13,3000 nuclear warheads will be destroyed), 560 ICBMs (1473), 477 ICBM silo launchers (831), 17 mobile ICBM launchers (442), 142 strategic bombers (220), 761 air-to-ground ballistic missiles (829), 420 submarine launchers (728), 543 submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) (936), and 28 ballistic missile nuclear submarines (SSBN) (48).
In addition, storage safety has been improved for more than 260 tons of fissile materials, physical protection measures have been improved at 60 nuclear warhead storage facilities, and 208 tons of high-enriched uranium (HEU) have been converted to low-enriched uranium (LEA), while security has been stepped up for 30 percent of Russian chemical weapon stocks. Advances are also being registered in the biological program. Thus the US is working jointly with Russia to improve the security of 4 biological weapons research centers. Conversion of 49 similar facilities which have ceased operations is on the agenda.
One can especially note the role of the US-sponsored international scientific-technical centers whose operations involve 58 thousand scientists formerly employed in the military field. Besides this, within the framework the international program to prevent WMD proliferation, 750 civilian projects have been financed, with the participation of 14 thousand former specialists of the nuclear complex.
ESSENCE OF THE PROBLEM
Unfortunately, ideological blinkers will long prevent an unprejudiced view of many spheres of coordination between Russia and the West.
The roots of the problems which led to the Nunn-Lugar Program go back to the 50s and 60s of the 20th century. The arms race, which embraced the sphere of nuclear arms and other types of weapons of mass destruction, developed without changes in fundamental approaches to arms and military equipment production.
As we know, arms and military equipment passed through three phases--R&D (scientific research and experimental design work); testing, production, and transfer to the troops; operation by the troops. When arms and military equipment were developed, it never occurred to anyone to devise technologies for their destruction.
This was not a problem as long as we were dealing with conventional arms. The outmoded systems could be sold to third countries or used in exercises, including as targets, or simply warehoused in the provinces with minimal mothballing and security measures.
It is clear that the sale of decommissioned nuclear systems is impossible, although there would be no dearth of buyers. And for understandable reasons we could not use them in exercises.
So as it happened, by the 90s many such systems were nearing the end of their acceptable operating life. For instance, in the Navy alone more than 150 nuclear-powered submarines had accumulated by that time. In addition, some strategic arms were subject to removal in accordance with international obligations, but their relative share was not very high (on the order of 20% of the total number of recycling operations).
Russia faced two problems after the collapse of the USSR: the lack of destruction technologies and the need for considerable spending on the destruction process itself.
The advent of new states in the space of the former USSR, on whose territories nuclear weapons remained, made the problem even worse. Weapons remaining on the territory of Ukraine, Belorussia, and Kazakhstan were subject to destruction or removal (for example, mobile SMT missile complexes, nuclear weapons with fixed missile complexes, etc.). The nuclear ordnance removed to Russian territory could not be stored in stacks in the open air. It required special storage conditions and not only from the standpoint of physical protection from outside persons, but also as regards provision of a temperature and humidity regime in facilities, the capability to conduct the necessary maintenance work, etc.
Russia could implement only a small part of the necessary actions, and this posed a serious threat not just to Russian security.
From the very start, the Nunn-Lugar Program was aimed at providing concrete assistance for a broad range of problems, from help in elimination of nuclear weapons in Ukraine, Belorussia, and Kazakhstan, to improved security of nuclear weapons storage, to creation of jobs for Russian engineers and scientists previously employed in WMD development.
Russia receives on the order of 500 million dollars a year through the Nunn-Lugar Program, considerably more than we are able to allocate ourselves every year in the federal budget.
One can say without exaggeration that it is only thanks to this program that the Russian Ministry of Defense was able to raise the safety of weapons stored at warehouses to a qualitatively different level. For instance, in accordance with a special agreement signed in 1995 by Russian and US defense officials, the Russian side (MoD 12th Main Directorate) received on the order of 400 sets of computing equipment for automated accounting and oversight systems, a hundred special rail cars for transport, 200 sets of video surveillance systems, and hundreds of kilometers of signal cable, renovated training facilities for security personnel at installations, created the technical facilities for quality selection of maintenance personnel, etc.
Around 400 million dollars were allocated through the program just for a storage facility for surplus weapons-grade fissile materials of the NPO Mayak at Chelyabinsk. The facility is intended to store up to 50 tons of weapons-grade plutonium. Other positive examples could be cited.
Nevertheless, despite the funds allocated in the Nunn-Lugar Program, a number of processes are proceeding slowly. This applies both to the destruction of chemical weapons and to the decommissioning of submarines with nuclear reactors. Some of the reasons are objective--it is impossible, with existing capacity and existing technologies, to increase the rate of submarine decommissioning. But there are also subjective difficulties.
There are many opponents of the Nunn-Lugar Program in the United States and especially in the Pentagon. Their position is simple--we are giving money to Russia to scrap old weapons, and with the money they save they develop new weapons, and even candidly state that those weapons are aimed at our defensive systems.
But there are also critics of a different sort on the American side. For instance, John Kerry, the former election opponent of the current president criticized George Bush Jr. for the slow rate of assistance to Russia. He emphasized that in ten years they have managed to safeguard the security of just 38% of nuclear materials storage facilities. Kerry promised to increase spending and resolve all the problems by 2008. Incidentally, judging from the documents signed in Bratislava, the Bush administration has taken this criticism into account. This is evidently why the text of the joint statement of the two presidents calls for development of a plan of operation on joint projects before 2008.
Since the first agreements were signed, the American side has striven and had the opportunity to monitor procedures for use of allocated resources, including the inspection method when possible. The US would prefer that its assistance not be plundered in Russia, or used to develop new weapon systems.
This created some imbalance in the information level of each of the sides in a rather delicate area. Therefore, during a visit by Russian Defense Minister S.B. Ivanov to the US, the invitation from US Defense Secretary Rumsfeld for Russian experts to visit nuclear security exercises appeared to be no accident.
It should be especially emphasized that in Bratislava, Russia and the US agreed for the first time on two new things. First of all, on provision of assistance to third countries in safeguarding nuclear security. And second, Russia and the US agreed on "enhancing an emergency response capability to deal with a nuclear or radiological incident, including development of additional technical methods to detect nuclear and radioactive materials that are, or may be, involved in the incident." and implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1540, that is, on the use of any necessary measures in the event that WMD fall into terrorist hands.
One can only be surprised at the confusion which arose in connection with the text of the documents signed in Bratislava. This only prompted suspicions that, as in Soviet days, our officials are prepared to inform the Americans, Europeans, UN, OSCE, etc. on military questions, but not their own people.
In addition, there are "patriotic" howls about Russian "capitulation" in Bratislava. Today we are witnessing an intense activation of political forces which want to see the US only as an enemy, and because of this are prepared to join forces with the most extreme right-wing quarters in the United States itself. What alternative do they propose--to abandon the Nunn-Lugar Program and take no money from the US, EU, and Japan? I mean, are we supposed to get the money from retirees, or cut the weapon upgrade program of our Ministry of Defense? After all, American assistance amounts to roughly half of the spending of our government for arms recycling and nuclear security. This year it is roughly 30 billion rubles, including 5.3 billion rubles to meet treaty obligations.
The Iranian Parliament ratified a bill concerning the construction of new nuclear power plants in Iran with total output of 20,000 megawatts.
"Iranian Majlis has ratified the proposal of the parliamentary energy commission on the construction of 20 new nuclear power plants with the total output of 20,000 megawatts," Kamal Daneshyar, the head of the Majlis energy commission told journalists on Monday.
According to him, "the introduction of nuclear power plants, which will be conducted in the course of the next ten years, will substitute for the lack of the electric energy in the country."
The MP didn't specify the location of the new construction sites.
Currently Russian specialists complete the construction of the first unit of the nuclear power plant in Bushehr - the northern part of the Iranian shore on the Persian Gulf. The launch of the unit is scheduled for late 2005 with the commissioning in 2006.
Documents concerning the return of the spent nuclear fuel from the Bushehr power plant and conditions for its deliveries were signed in the course of the recent visit of Alexander Rumyantsev, the head of the Russian Federal Atomic Energy Agency, to Iran in march this year. This visit relieved the remaining obstacles concerning the construction of the facility in Bushehr, which was conducted in full compliance with international standards and under the IAEA supervision.
1. Russia and China Have Common Views on Solution of North Korean Nuclear Problem
(for personal use only)
Russia and China have formed a common position on the solution of North Korean nuclear problem, Russian deputy foreign minister Alexander Alekseyev told the journalists at the end of a round of consultations with Chinese officials in Beijing.
"During consultations, the sides agreed that they share common views on the solution of the nuclear problem on the Korean peninsula," Alekseyev announced.
He said both sides consider it necessary to renew six-party talks as soon as possible. Alekseyev emphasized that the renewal of talks would be the best step toward the solution of the nuclear problem in the region.
"Both Russia and China believe that the six-way negotiation process will suit the best the task of freeing the Korean peninsula of nuclear weapons," Alekseyev underlined. The Russian diplomat added that it was the major goal of all sides participating in the talks.
"We also believe that the final solution of this problem meets state interests of Russia and China," Alekseyev stated.
The deputy foreign minister also told the journalists that during the consultations in Beijing, the sides informed one another of the content of their dialogue with other participants of the talks.
The sides agreed to coordinate mutual efforts aimed at the renewal of the negotiation process in the near future and determine the date of the next round of talks, the Russian diplomat added.
Alekseyev agreed with opinion expressed earlier by the Chinese side that participants of the talks during the visit of US State Secretary Condoleezza Rice and North Korean Prime Minister Pak Pong-ju to China failed to achieve significant progress in the negotiation process.
Nevertheless, Alekseyev underlined, the efforts of Russian and China would still be pointed at the renewal of six-party talks in the near future. Alekseyev also stressed that consultations with various participants of the talks indicate the persistence of serious worries and other problems in the negotiation process.
"We do not expect any breakthroughs in the near future," the Russian diplomat added.
1. First Test Launch of Bulava Missile to be Held Late This Year
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The first test launching of the new Russian intercontinental submarine-based ballistic missile Bulava is to be held in the third quarter of 2005, Director and Constructor-General of the Moscow Combustion Engineering Institute Yuri Solomonov told Itar-Tass.
ï¿½Work on the Bulava missile is being done in keeping with the plans that were agreed with the Defence Ministry. In spite of the rather serious difficulties, caused by financing delays, we shall do our best to carry out the first launching in the third quarter of this year,ï¿½ the director noted. His institute had earlier designed, in particular, many solid fuel intercontinental ballistic missiles of the Topol and Topol-M types.
Commenting at the request of Itar-Tass on the readiness of the nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine ï¿½Dmitri Donskoiï¿½ to launch the first Bulava, Solomonov stated: ï¿½The submarine will also be ready to carry out the first launch. This is my personal opinion, of course, but it is based on my knowledge of the actual state of affairs and on the information obtained from the constructor of the strategic ocean-going missile submarineï¿½.
The ï¿½Dmitri Donskoiï¿½ and ï¿½Yuri Dolgorukiï¿½ type submarines are to be armed with Bulava missile systems. The ï¿½Dmitri Donskoiï¿½ will shortly join the navy again after some modernisation. This heavy nuclear-powered missile cruiser of the project 941 ï¿½Akulaï¿½ type was built at the Sevmash Yards in 1982 and numbered as submarine 711. It was modernised into a submarine of the latest fourth generation. Renovation of the submarine, the head vessel of the series of Russiaï¿½s largest submarines, lasted for ten years. It came off the slips at the end of 2002.
The ï¿½Yuri Dolgorukiï¿½ is the first submarine of the new generation (Burei project 955). Its keel was laid in 1996. Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov said the Burei-type submarines would have ï¿½substantially better hydrodynamic characteristics and acoustic parametersï¿½ than the submarines of the second and third generations.
The Bulava missile complex was designed at the Moscow Combustion Engineering Institute. According to unclassified information, this solid fuel missile is capable of carrying up to ten individually guided nuclear warheads. The Bulavaï¿½s range is not less than eight thousand kilometres.
A successful so-called ï¿½jumpï¿½ launch of the Bulava missile was made from the ï¿½Dmitri Donskoiï¿½ board on September 23, 2004. Only the automatic devices of the submarine are used during a missileï¿½s ï¿½jumpï¿½ launch. A mock missile is shot by means of a special pressure accumulator from the silo through the water to an altitude of 30-40 metres, i.e. to the height where the missileï¿½s propulsion engine goes into action during a normal launch.
1. Russian Atomic Industry Will Not Be Short of Natural Uranium
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ï¿½Russiaï¿½s nuclear energy sector is steadily developing and this calls for increasing amounts of uranium to be minedï¿½, Vice-President of the TVEL State Corporation Stanislav Golovinsky told Itar-Tass.
The TVEL Corporation, he noted, is the only company ï¿½that is mining natural uranium in Russia todayï¿½. This job ï¿½is being done by the corporationï¿½s three daughter enterprises: the Priargunskoye Mining and Chemical Complex in Chita Region, which annually mines three thousand tons of uranium, the Dalur Association in Kurgan Region, and the Khiagda Association in Buryatiaï¿½. The output of the two latter enterprises will reach one thousand tons of natural uranium each within the next five years.
In the opinion of the TVEL vice-president, ï¿½more than five thousand tons of natural uranium will be extracted in Russia in the foreseeable future, while the annual requirement of the countryï¿½s atomic industry stands at eight thousand tonsï¿½. The shortage, Golovinsky explained, ï¿½will be made up from the available stockpiles of uranium and by processing irradiated nuclear fuelï¿½.
Officials of the corporation also said the output of uranium in the country ï¿½is to be guaranteed after 2010 by sinking new uranium minesï¿½. Golovinsky said ï¿½new large uranium-mining enterprises could be built on the basis of some large deposits in South Yakutia.
The first uranium from those mines is expected to be obtained by 2015,ï¿½ he added. True, Golovinsky noted, ï¿½these deposits, sufficient for fifty years to come, cannot be tapped without government supportï¿½.
Moreover, TVEL officials stated, ï¿½new uranium deposits are most likely to be found also in Karelia and East Siberiaï¿½. In 2004, the corporation ï¿½had invested in 51.5 million roubles in geological prospecting".
1. Earthquakes Threaten Russian Nuclear Power Plants ï¿½ Ministry
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Many of Russiaï¿½s nuclear, hydroelectric and thermal power plants are situated in earthquake-prone areas, the Interfax news agency reported on Sunday quoting experts from the Emergencies Ministry.
ï¿½Approximately 40 percent of the countryï¿½s territory are earthquake-prone areas. They are high-risk zones for earthquakes measuring more than six points on the Richter scale,ï¿½ experts from the ministry said in a recent book that addresses the danger of natural and industrial disasters and emergency situations in Russia.
ï¿½In Russia, the seismic belt extends from the Caucasus to the Kamchatka Peninsula,ï¿½ they said.
The Chirkei, Miatlino and Chiryutsk hydroelectric power plants are located in areas where earthquakes measuring up to 10 on the Richter scale can occur, the scientists said.
The Bilibino nuclear power plant, the Sayano-Shushensk, Belorechye, Irkutsk, Kolyma and Ust-Srednekan hydroelectric power plants are prone to earthquakes of up to nine on the Richter scale.
Several other facilities are located in areas that could be hit by tremors measuring seven or above on the Richter scale, they said.
2. Agreement Signed to Enhance Security of FMB Lotta
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Murmansk Shipping Company (MSC) has concluded an agreement with the Swedish Nuclear Power Inspectorate and Sturvik & Co representing the Norwayï¿½s Ministry of Foreign Affairs concerning the enhancement of physical protection system of the floating maintenance base (FMB) Lotta, the MSCï¿½s press service reports. ï¿½The agreement is implemented in frames of the Multilateral Nuclear Environmental Program in Russia (MNEPR) and provides for US$504,000 of technical assistance. The work is expected to be completed September 30. FMB Lotta will become the second nuclear support ship which is following FMB Imandra to have a new physical protection system.
The MSC press service also said the Baltiiski Zavod is nearing completion of the first batch of steam generator tubing for nuclear icebreakers, which are under the trust management of MSC. The contract to fabricate four SG tubing sets for operating nuclear icebreakers was signed in February 2003. MSC already received the first items in December 2004., with the rest to be supplied this March and June. The tubing sets are destined for nuclear icebreaker Rossia. Its equipment replacement is carried out to extend service life of the shipï¿½s nuclear steam generating installations. New SG tubing sets will extend the nuclear-propelled shipï¿½s life for up to 30-32 years.
3. Up to 20 Years Needed to Eliminate Nuclear Fleet's Impact - Official
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It will take Russia from 15 to 20 years to eliminate the negative impact the activities of the country's nuclear-powered ships have had on the environment, Russian Nuclear Power Agency deputy head Sergei Antipov told Interfax.
"Our estimates suggest that decommissioned Navy submarines will have been disposed of by 2010. But this is as far as submarines are concerned. It will take a couple of decades more to eliminate all the harmful consequences of the nuclear fleet's operations," Antipov said.
The official said he is primarily referring to coastal bases which are major storage facilities for liquid and solid radioactive wastes and spent nuclear fuel removed from nuclear submarines. "Unfortunately, there are contaminated territories which need to be cleaned up. A lot of effort lies ahead still," he said.
Of the 250 Russian nuclear submarines, 195 have already been decommissioned, Antipov said. Of them, 111 have been disposed of.
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