1. Russian-Japanese Submarine Disposal Agreement May Be Signed Before the End of 2005
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The Russian-Japanese executive agreement on the disposal of nuclear submarines may be signed before the end of 2005, RIA Novosti was told at the Federal Atomic Energy Agency (Rosatom) on Thursday.
Disposal contracts may also be concluded before the year's end.
The decision to sign the agreement was taken last January at the 24th session of the board of the committee for cooperation in assisting the destruction of Russian nuclear weapons to be reduced, for the disposal of nuclear submarines removed from the inventories of the Russian Far Eastern nuclear submarine fleet.
Russia and Japan have agreed upon cooperation in disposing of three Viktor-III nuclear submarines, one Viktor-I submarine and one Charley submarine, leaving the inventories of the Russian naval fleet in the Far East,
At the present time, four Viktor submarines are near Vladivostok and the Charley submarine in Kamchatka.
"The total cost of the Russian-Japanese nuclear submarine disposal project is over $30 million," said the Rosatom spokesman.
1. Weapons of Mass Destruction: Nonproliferation Programs Need Better Coordination
Menï¿½s News Daily
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Since 1992, the Congress has provided more than $7 billion for threat reduction and nonproliferation programs in the former Soviet Union. These programs have played a key role in addressing the threats of weapons of mass destruction and are currently expanding beyond the FSU. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004 mandated that the Government Accounting Office assess Department of Defense and Department of Energy strategies guiding their threat reduction and nonproliferation programs; and efforts to coordinate DOD, DOE, and Department of State threat reduction and nonproliferation programs that share similar missions.
GAO found that there is no overall strategy that integrates the threat reduction and nonproliferation programs of the DOD, DOE, and others. DOD and DOE have strategies governing their respective programs, which generally contain the elements of a strategy as established by the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993. These strategies include a mission statement and goals, identify external factors that could affect meeting these goals, establish metrics to evaluate the performance of the programs, provide cost estimates, and cover a period of at least 5 years.
Given the involvement of multiple agencies, and the expansion of the threat reduction and nonproliferation programs beyond the FSU, integration of agencies' strategies is important. The agencies' implementation of very similar programs has not always been well coordinated. While the majority of programs in DOD and DOE are distinct, GAO found three program areas that perform similar functions in the FSU.
GAO found that the coordination of programs enhancing security at Russian nuclear warhead sites improved after the National Security Council staff issued guidance. Specifically, the guidance delineates agencies' roles, interactions, and ways to resolve disputes. The biological weapons scientist employment programs in DOD, DOE, and State are well coordinated and also have NSC staff guidance addressing roles, interactions, and disputes.
By contrast, there is no government-wide guidance delineating the roles and responsibilities of agencies managing border security programs. According to DOD and DOE officials managing these programs, agencies' roles are not well delineated and coordination could be improved.
Nuclear materials from the former Soviet Union remain a dangerous proliferation and environmental threat, Russian and U.S. experts warned Friday.
Russian researchers from the Bellona Foundation, a Norway-based environmental organization, released their latest report on the state of the Russian nuclear industry and the need to reform it. They said the Soviet nuclear legacy has left Russia and the world vulnerable to nuclear materials left over from the Cold War.
Joining the Russians on a panel at Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies was Mark Helmke, a staff member for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He said the lack of security around nuclear sites in Russia was a much larger threat than the environmental one.
Helmke has been a major supporter of the program crafted by former Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Ga., and Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, that since 1991 has provided billions of dollars to Russia to tighten security around nuclear facilities and dispose of nuclear materials.
Helmke said the issue is more or less a race against time in trying to keep terrorists from getting nuclear materials from the former Soviet Union.
"There are a number of unreconstructed cold warriors on both the American and Russian sides, and they often use that to slow down important non-proliferation work," he said. "We have to understand the sense of urgency here. It is remarkable that no terrorist in the past 10 years has been able to get ahold of and use any of the nuclear, biological or chemical weapons that are spread all over the former Soviet Union."
Helmke said the issue still needed to become a top global priority for political leadership. "For some reason, this does not seem to rise up as a concern in Europe," he said.
Helmke said issues such as global warming that have held the attention of world leaders need to be put aside for more immediate concerns.
"What is the more immediate threat that we face? Is it climate change or is it a terrorist getting his hands on and fashioning a dirty bomb?" Helmke asked. "The problem is that too many of us are whistling past the graveyard on this threat. The threat is so frightening to so many people that we tend to discount it politically and focus on other issues that might be easier to get your heads wrapped around and motivate the public."
A lack of technology has made it impossible to dispose of large stores of nuclear material that if released into soil or water would pose serious threats to those nearby.
"Thirty-seven percent of former usable nuclear weapons have been disposed of, but it is the advanced and technological projects that hit the wall," said Igor Kudrik, a Russian researcher and co-author of the report.
Kudrik said the Russian nuclear program needed to be reformed to ensure the proper disposal of these materials. "We need to separate ourselves from the Cold War legacy waste that is taking away from today's activities," he said.
Alexander Nitkin, a contributing author to the report, said Russia needed to comprehensively re-evaluate the nuclear policies it had inherited from the Soviet Union. He said funds given by the United States to dispose of materials were often misspent on unnecessary infrastructure.
Nitkin and Kudrik also called for international oversight to account for the massive amounts of foreign funds pledged to Russia for nuclear remediation projects. "We also need to establish what are the most important nuclear hazards that need to be addressed," he said.
One major area of concern is the Mayak Fissile Material Storage Facility near St. Petersburg, Russia's second-largest city. It has reportedly been bankrupt since 2003 and has been a habitual violator of anti-dumping policies in nearby rivers.
Mayak is Russia's only spent nuclear fuel reprocessing facility. It has also been the scene of serious security threats in the past decade. A soldier was arrested for allegedly attempting to break into a warehouse on the premises, copper cabling has been stolen, a stash of aluminum rods was discovered outside the perimeter of the plant and scrap stainless-steel valves with a high level of radioactive contamination were found off the premises.
Still, Russia has come a long way in downsizing its once highly threatening nuclear program, the experts said. This summer, 10,000 nuclear warheads will be disposed of.
Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty, executive vice president of global energy firm USEC, said her company had helped achieve one of the most successful non-proliferation stories. "Ten percent of the electricity we use in this country comes from (the fuel for nuclear reactors provided by) nuclear warheads that were once aimed at us," she said.
Bellona researchers said they hope their report will grab the attention of major world leaders so they can work more efficiently to modernize the Russian nuclear industry and properly downsize and dispose of nuclear materials.
"The victims of a future dirty-bomb attack won't want to know what we have or have not done," said Helmke. "This absolutely must become a priority."
3. US Funding in Russia Should Encourage Nuclear Reform in Moscow
Charles Digges & Igor Kudrik
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It is the assertion of The Bellona Foundation that money sent to Russia by the United States for the purposes of improving nuclear and non-proliferation safety would be more effective if that funding supported a fundamental reform of the Russian nuclear industry. In Bellonaï¿½s assessment, simple and well established programs supported by the United States, such as submarine dismantlement, are in good working order. However, more complicated programs involving western investment such as the Mayak Fissile Materials Storage Facility (FMSF) in the Southern Urals, and the shut down of Russiaï¿½s remaining plutonium production reactors, have faltered. Such programs as the HEU-LEU programï¿½whose funding is allocated on a freer basisï¿½allows Russia to maintain the Soviet-era status quo of its nuclear industry, and offer no impetus for Moscow to re-assess the current structure of its nuclear industry.
The United States contributes approximately $1 billion to $1.3 billion annually to nuclear dismantlment and security projects in Russia. Nearly half of this funding is accounted for by the US Defence Departmentï¿½s Co-operative Threat Reduction (CTR) program, which began in 1992. after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, with the goal of neutralising ex-Soviet weapons of mass destruction. Among these items are ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs), bombers, inter-continental ballistic missiles, nuclear war-heads, missile silos and launchers, and chemical weapons.
CTRï¿½s efforts are combined with those of the US Department of Energy (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), and the US Department of State. The DOE contribution consists mainly of bolstering nuclear security at additional vulnerable sites, finding alternative employment for out of work weapons scientists, the on-going shutdown of Russiaï¿½s three remaining plutonium production reactors, and building coal-fired sources of energy in the towns that these reactors power. The DOE also heads up the Plutonium Disposition program, under which both nations have agreed to destroy 34 tonnes each of surplus weapons grade plutonium.
Additionally, the 1993 HEU-LEU Agreement, also known as the ï¿½Megatons to Megawattsï¿½ program, brings up to $500,000 million annually into the Russian nuclear industryï¿½s coffers, and is, indeed the industryï¿½s lifeblood. Through this program, Russia down-blends weapons usable highly enriched uranium (HEU) and sells the resultant low enriched uranium (LEU) to the United States for use in commercial reactors. The US agent for this program in the United States Enrichment Corporation (USEC). Tenex, Russiaï¿½s nuclear fuel exporting giant, is USECï¿½s Moscow-based counterpart. Russia draws on its Cold War stocks of HEU to keep this program in operation. The program is scheduled to end by 2013. By that year, the Russian nuclear industry will have netted $7.5 billion from the program.
Effects of the programs
The targeted programs, or structured programs, run primarily by the DOE and DOD have gained considerable results. The programs have succeeded in dismantling nuclear submarines and securing many nuclear sites with updated technologies. More complex programs like the FMSM and plutonium reactor shut down, however, have fallen short of expectation.
The DOD-run CTR scorecard for nuclear materials destroyed, as of January 27th 2005, includes:
6,564 of 13,300 targeted warheads deactivated (49 %);
570 of 1473 targeted ICBMs destroyed (38 %);
of 831 targeted missile silos eliminated (57 %);
17 of 442 targeted ICBM mobile launchers destroyed (3.8 percent);
142 of 228 targeted bombers eliminated (62 %);
761 of 829 targeted nuclear ASMs destroyed (91 %);
420 of 728 targeted SLBM launchers eliminated (57 %);
28 of 48 targeted SSBNs destroyed (58 %);
194 of 194 targeted nuclear test tunnels and holes sealed (100 %).
Yet CTRï¿½s project to open a safe storage facility for 50 tonnes of plutonium and 200 tonnes of HEU have flagged considerably. Begun in 1993, FMSF is CTRï¿½s longest running program to date. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held for the facility in December 2003, but additional safety equipment installation, training and test remain before the facility can being to receive fissile materials for storage.
DOE run programs are harder to quantify, but its Materials Protection, Control and Accounting (MPC&A) programs have offered both so-called ï¿½rapid upgradeï¿½ and ï¿½comprehensive upgradesï¿½ at sites storing weapons usable nuclear material. In conjunction with its Weapons Protection Control & Accountability (WPC&A) sister program at CTR, 37 percent of weapons usable nuclear material has been secured under lock and key in the past dozen years. Many in US Congress and a host of nuclear experts have complained that this progress is far to slow. But Senator Richard Lugar has argued that the alternative to slow progress is no progress at all. Bellona supports his position. The MPC&A programs have also received substantial budget increase requests for 2006.
The DOEï¿½s efforts to shut down Russiaï¿½s remaining weapons-grade plutonium production reactorsï¿½two in Seversk near Tomsk, and one at Zheleznogorsk near Krasnoyarsk, all in central Siberiaï¿½ have been hobbled.
As the reactors in question also supply heat and electricity to the communities where they are located, the DOEï¿½s task it to shut the reactors down completely and build or refurbish nearby fossil fuel plants to compensate for the power loss when the reactors go off-line. But this project has become overburdened by bureaucracy and contractors, and a plan to shut down the reactors have yet to be developed. It is highly unlikely that the program will be effected prior to 2011. The reactors are meanwhile pumping out a combined 1200-1500 kilograms of weapons-grade plutonium each year they remain operational.
The HEU-LEU agreement an ï¿½unstructuredï¿½ program
We refer to the HEU-LEU Agreement as an ï¿½unstructuredï¿½ programï¿½that is the program serves its goal by converting HEU to LEU, but at the same time supplies considerable financial resources directly to the Russian nuclear industry. It has, in other words, less build-in financial accountability than do CTR and DOE programs. The question is, how does Russia spend the estimated $500 million annual financial windfall it yearly receives from the HEU-LEU program? In 2004, only 16 percent of the received funding is spent on increasing safety at nuclear installations. The bulk of this HEU-LEU funding is spent on construction of new nuclear sites outside of Russia (41 percent). Only 7.8 percent goes to reforms within Russiaï¿½s nuclear industry. Another 29 percent of the proceeds are used for unspecified expenses (approximately $162 million dollars in 2004).
In reality this funding channel not only helps Russia to build nuclear power plants and other nuclear sites in such countries as Iran, India and China, but also supports the Cold War era nuclear infrastructure that has remained basically unchanged since Soviet times, and could barely survive without this funding feeding tube.
Restructuring the programs
As seen above the target programs (such as those sponsored by CTR and the DOE) bring leverage, but also have their share of remediable flaws. The HEU-LEU program converts weapons grade material, but at the same time pumps cash into the Russian nuclear infrastructure and Russian nuclear ambitions abroad, essentially putting the two programs at cross purposes.
Massive Cold War uranium resources, equalling some 1200 tonnes of HEU, are of no use to the Russian military. These resources prevent the reform, as the country can live on them without reforming anything. But these HEU resources are finite. What will the United States and other donor countries do when these resources are depleted and Russia asks for considerable support again? Is it not better to make sure that these issues are resolved sooner rather than later, and that Russiaï¿½s nuclear infrastructure (both technical and regulatory) begins reforms now?
The answer is obviously affirmative. But what should be done to achieve that goal? The problem is that Russia has yet to perform a true evaluation of its past strategies and policies, and has simply taken habits and practices inherited from Soviet times for granted. One such policy is the closed nuclear fuel cycle that Russia employsï¿½taking spent nuclear fuel, reprocessing it at great danger to the environment and proliferation, and putting the separated uranium and reactor grade plutonim back into use. Is it this an effective strategy for Russiaï¿½s beleaguered nuclear industry that can barely keep up with its reprocessing back-log at Mayak? Nobody among Russiaï¿½s top nuclear brass has ever even tried to answer this question. Meanwhile, the current Plutonium disposition agreementï¿½should it overcome its current liability deadlockï¿½stipulated the destruction of only 34 tonnes of Russiaï¿½s estimated stockpile of 100 to 150 tonnes of weapons grade plutonium. What is to become of the rest?
These questions remain unanswered, and will remain so as long as such policy questions are not evaluated in Moscow and no clear political decision has been made. There have been "concepts" forwarded by Russiaï¿½s current nuclear industry authority, Rosatom, but they are arguable on many points, even within the nuclear community itself. It must be asserted therefore that no political decision is in place.
The lack of policy decisions in Moscow have led to roadblocks in a large number of US led programs, as well as European programs.
To resolve this issue the EBRD has launched a project to create a so-called ï¿½Master Planï¿½ for nuclear remediation of Northwest Russiaï¿½s limping nuclear infrastructure. The resultant Master Plan for Northwest Russia produced by Moscow fell short of expectations. The paper produced by Russian counterparts contained a methodically prioritised list of projects or areas of urgency. But there was a pronounced lack of comparisons to similar problems, and questions of what to do with Russiaï¿½s mounting stock of spent nuclear fuel were not elaborated upon.
Russia should be encouraged to make clear, reason-based policiesï¿½a Master Plan for the whole Russia. Only then it will be clear how and what projects will work and whether they will be effective in the long run. Russia should also be encouraged to spend funds received from such philanthropic agreements as the HEU-LEU agreement for the safety and restructuring, rather than on the mere survival of Cold War era enterprises.
Such policies will also create a clear picture on whether a particular project genuinely contributes to Russiaï¿½s nuclear security, instead of the Russian nuclear industry's corporate ambition.
4. Legislation Signals Dissatisfaction With Bush Administrationï¿½s Nuclear Threat Reduction Efforts
Global Security Newswire
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Three pieces of recent federal legislation cut funding and expressed deep dissatisfaction with the Bush administrationï¿½s efforts to resolve a key dispute in nuclear security cooperation with Russia, an international security organization announced yesterday (see GSN, May 5).
The House and Senate versions of the Defense Authorization Act, as well as the House Energy and Water Appropriations bill all indicate dissatisfaction with the inability to resolve a disagreement on liability protections under U.S.-Russia cooperative nuclear threat reduction agreements.
ï¿½Congress is sending a clear signal to the administration to drive the liability dispute to a conclusion. Hundreds of millions of dollars were cut because promises of progress are no longer enough,ï¿½ said Kenneth Luongo, executive director of the Russian-American Nuclear Security Advisory Council. ï¿½The heart of the Nunn-Lugar agenda is at risk if the impasse continues.ï¿½
The dispute has prevented construction of mixed-oxide, or MOX, fuel facilities in the two countries that are necessary for disposal of weapon-grade plutonium, according to RANSAC (RANSAC release, June 1).
5. U.S. Senator Seeks Access to Russia's Nuclear Weapons
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Russia and the US must reach an agreement on monitoring tactical nuclear weapons. This statement was made by Sam Nunn, former senator and co-designer of the Nunn-Lugar program. According to him, such monitoring would prevent terrorists from obtaining such weapons. This time Moscow and Washington have not responded to his appeal, though the White House and the Kremlin always listened to his opinion.
Information about tactical nuclear weapons is top secret. No one knows how many such weapons the two sides have. Washington claims that Russia has 18,000 to 19,000 tactical nuclear weapons. The Russian nuclear agency reports that the Soviet arsenal did not exceed 14,000 units in 1990. Russia is scrapping 1,600-1,700 nuclear warheads a year.
The problem of monitoring tactical nuclear weapons became topical in the early 1990s when Russia and the US became concerned about control over nuclear weapons in general. Unlike the sector of strategic weapons where the sides agreed to cut the number of strategic warheads and carriers, and implemented mutual control, the dialogue over tactical nuclear weapons reached a deadlock.
Igor Valynkin, chief of the 12th department of the Defense Ministry (this organization is in charge of Russia's nuclear weapons), said that Moscow and Washington promised to withdraw tactical nuclear weapons from all warplanes, warships and submarines to ammunition depots, and start scrapping such weapons. For instance, Russia has scrapped all nuclear anti-personnel landmines and artillery shells. The number of warheads for torpedoes, anti-aircraft and cruise missiles has decreased by 30%. As a result (judging from unofficial sources) Russian and US arsenals have decreased by 75%. Meanwhile, the two sides fail to open negotiations over tactical nuclear weapons. Why?
For instance, the US still has 150 B61 nuclear bombs in Europe. Washington claims that this is some kind of security guarantee for European nations. It neglects to specify where the presumed threat originates.
Yevgeny Maslin, former chief of the 12th department: "We should not negotiate with them until they withdraw their nuclear weapons from Europe. In addition, all members of the nuclear club must be involved in this process."
Vladimir Verkhovtsev, deputy chief of the 12th department: "Even if the US withdraws tactical nuclear weapons from Europe this will not solve the problem. The infrastructure for storing tactical nuclear weapons will remain, and it will be possible to re-deploy such weapons during 12-14 hours. This is why this infrastructure must be destroyed under international oversight."
However, the idea of destruction of nuclear weapons does not appeal in the US. In particular, the agreement on strategic offensive weapons, signed in Moscow three years ago, is aimed at cutting strategic nuclear arsenals to 1,700-2,000 warheads. But no mechanism of monitoring the implementation of the agreement has been created over this time. This is why this agreement presents a declaration of intent. It's obvious that the two sides do not want to reveal their secrets about tactical nuclear weapons, which they probably consider as the last containment factor.
6. The Human Factor is the Weakest Chain in the Nuclear Protection System
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Russia 's nuclear storage facilities do not have all of the modern physical protection equipment. But the joint control of nuclear weapons, which the US demands, cannot be considered even hypothetically, as this contradicts the Russian legislation. Protection systems are being modernized, including with the money provided by the US and Germany , which contribute about $50 million a year.
US experts can visit the facilities where Russian companies work on their money three times: before the beginning of the project, when it is halfway through, and upon the project's completion. And then, they will be allowed only to the surrounding fence and the technical protection equipment, but not to the nuclear storage proper.
The human factor is the weakest chain in the nuclear protection system. Russian scientists have created a system that can protect the facility without humans. During a recent exercise a group of special operations forces failed to enter such a facility, and neither will the real criminals. The Russian defense ministry is working to equip all nuclear facilities with such systems, which ensure several times better protection.
On the other hand, the graduates of military schools and academies who will serve at such facilities pass careful selection and inspection, including on the lie detectors. They are also checked during service. Special exercises are held regularly. In particular, nuclear accidents were simulated during the Avariya-2004 exercise held in the framework of the NATO-Russia Council. The alleged terrorists attacked an automobile convoy and a railway train that carried nuclear weapons.
In April this year, a group of Russian officers took part in the exercise organized by the US Air Force Space Command and the Department of Energy. The Americans showed how they train protection units and how they guard convoys.
The sides agreed that they have common attitudes to ensuring the safety of nuclear weapons in their countries but could learn from each other protection methods and ways of clearing up the consequences of accidents.
Why do US authorities need Russian former Minister for Nuclear Power, Yevgeny Adamov?
Russia's former Minister for Nuclear Power, Yevgeny Adamov, is currently staying in a Swiss jail, waiting for his extradition to the USA. The living carrier of Russian nuclear secrets is likely to find himself in the hands of curious US authorities, which accuse the minister of embezzling nine million dollars. Isn't it a cheap price to pay for the Russian minister, albeit a former one? Adamov might face more serious charges in Russia. He can be accused of disrupting an international agreement, causing Russia's default on its obligations, or losing many billions of dollars.
Russian authorities have managed to take certain measures, though. Russia's Office of the Prosecutor General accused Adamov of fraud and power abuse. A Moscow court authorized the arrest of the former minister afterwards. The government of the Swiss city of Bern will have to decide, which inquiry for Adamov's extradition is to be executed, the Russian or the American one. Details of Russian accusations against Adamov are not know yet. It transpired, though, that one of Adamov's accomplices was summoned to the Office of the Prosecutor General. It was an old partner of the former minister, Vyacheslav Pismenniy - the former director of the Trinity Institute for Innovative and Thermonuclear Research of the Russian Nuclear Power Industry, Dni.Ru wrote.
According to the results of the investigation of Adamov's activities (the investigation was conducted under the aegis of the State Duma's Anti-Corruption Committee), Mr. Pismenniy acts as one of Adamov's closest partners in a variety of shady operations. The HEU-LEU contract stands out among those operations.
The HEU-LEU contract, which also carries an informal title - Megatons to Megawatts - is a joint US-Russian project for the processing of 500 tons of military uranium extracted from about 20,000 Russian nuclear warheads. The average enrichment of the uranium is 90 percent, isotope 235, high-enrichment uranium (HEU), is to be processed in the low-enrichment uranium (LEU) that is used as fuel for nuclear power plants. The contract was launched in 1993; it embraces the period of 20 years.
The contract had a rather ambiguous reaction in Russia. The idea of military uranium, the basis of Russia's nuclear power, being handed over to the "likeliest enemy," contradicts to beliefs of the majority of patriotic Russian citizens. Certain paragraphs of the contract raise criticism even among those experts, who believe that the whole project or certain aspects of it are not profitable to Russia.
The uranium delivery scheme took Russia's interests into consideration to a certain extent. Americans pay for the low-enrichment uranium (LEU) received from high-enrichment uranium (HEU) partially in cash, whereas the so-called natural constituent (NC) is returned to Russia. The natural constituent is purified natural uranium, which can be used both in space industry and for the production of military uranium, in order to receive the low-enrichment uranium in the end. Russia receives the natural constituent in the volume that is considered necessary during the production of the low-enrichment uranium from it. According to one of the former ministers for nuclear power, Viktor Mikhailov, Russia receives over 9,000 tons of the natural constituent a year, as terms of the contract stipulate. A certain part of the natural constituent is used for diluting the military uranium within the scope of the HEU-LEU contract. The rest of the material is sold, and the profit is transferred to the Russian budget.
Difficulties connected with the USA's prohibition for the delivery of radioactive materials to Russia were overcome with the help of the coordinated scheme of the natural constituent's turnover. The scheme was as follows in 1999: three leading companies on the market of nuclear technologies - Cameco (Canada), Cogema (France) and RWE Nukem (Germany, the USA) obtained the right to purchase about two-thirds of the entire volume of the natural constituent from Russia. The one-third part of the constituent, as well as the non-redeemed constituent, could be returned to a special warehouse in Russia for diluting the military uranium and for its partial sale on the world market.
The joint-stock company Tekhsnabexport acted as an agent of the Ministry for Nuclear Power in the contract on Russia's part. The scheme also involved the affiliated agent, Global Nuclear Services and Supply (GNSS), Switzerland.
JSC Tekhsnabexport exports goods and services produced by enterprises of the Russian Ministry for Nuclear Power. The company also imports up-to-date technological, scientific, medical and other equipment.
The company GNSS was founded in 1991 on the base of the decision of several Soviet ministries to promote Russian uranium products on the world market. GNSS's control shareholding originally belonged to JSC Tekhsnabexport. However, Tekhsnabexport's share in GNSS considerably reduced as time went by. The closing report from the Auditing Chamber said that GNSS's shares are currently owned by:
TEXI, USA - 62 percent. V. Pismenniy controls the shares on the power of attorney; JSC Tekhsnabexport - 38 percent.
The control over the Swiss company in 1998-1999, when Yevgeny Adamov took the office of the nuclear power minister, had been handed over to nearest companions of the new minister: Vyacheslav Pismenniy, the director of the Trinity Institute for Innovative and Thermonuclear Research of the Nuclear Power Ministry, and Alexander Chernov, his partner.
This group of people appropriated the control shareholding of GNSS, which subsequently aroused numerous questions from the Russian Auditing House. It is a subject of a different story, though. It is also possible that the story was reflected in the claims of the American justice to Adamov. The accusations, which US prosecutors sent to Pittsburgh Court, include the question about $250,000, which were written off from one of Adamov's firms to the company TEXI, which Vyacheslav Pismenniy controled, the report from the Auditing House of the Russian Federation says. The time, when the above-mentioned funds were wired, coincided with Mr. Pismenniy's acquisition of 49 percent of GNSS's shares.
The virtual and shady owners of GNSS used the company to the maximum. GNSS and its head, Vyacheslav Pismenniy, were playing an important role in the attempts to take possession of the industry's Conversebank. The bank has a right to register documents for transactions to export uranium and uranium constituents, including the material on the HEU-LEU deal. In addition, the advisor of the US Undersecretary of State, James Timbey (the curator of the HEU-LEU contract on USA's part), wrote in his article "The Energy of the Bombs" that Tekhsnabexport gave the company GNSS a right to sell the entire Russian share of the HEU-LEU natural constituent. Mr. Timbey missed one aspect on the matter, though: when Yevgeny Adamov chaired the Nuclear Power Ministry, it was Revmir Fraishtut, who managed Tekhsnabexport. Fraishtut was very close to the minister.
The Russian side did not control GNSS by that moment; it was completely controlled by Minister Adamov's partners.
Nobody knows what kind of business Mr. Adamov's daughter had, although the business required bank accounts in Switzerland. Adamov unblocked them personally - this question remains unknown too. It is not ruled out that the commission, which was received from reselling the Russian uranium, was wired to the accounts of the former minister's daughter. Then it becomes clear, why US authorities detected the accounts so fast. All members of the uranium market are being kept under special control.
The fact of the inquiry from the Russian Office of the Prosecutor General became known from the press release of law-enforcement agencies of Switzerland. The grounds for Adamov's extradition to Russia thus remain unknown. However, one can see that the requirement about the extradition cannot be described as a formal procedure. To crown it all, the measure is not being taken to save the former Russian minister from the American justice. The accusations that the Russian Office of the Prosecutor General set forth against Mr. Adamov are one of the most interesting aspects in the story. It follows the central question, though: why do Americans need Adamov?
A delegation of the Federal Assembly and some federal ministries headed by Vitaly Margelov, Deputy Chairman of the Security Committee of the Duma, visited Washington on an invitation from the US Congress and Department of State. The delegation attended a meeting of the parliamentary group for export control and nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction. This correspondent met with Margelov who agreed to answer some questions.
Question: Russian-American cooperation in the sphere of export control and nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction is taking place on different levels at once. The government of the Russian Federation is involved in it too. What issues does the parliamentary group handle?
Vitaly Margelov: Indeed, the Russian-American cooperation in this sphere is under way on different levels and planes. The Foreign Ministry, Federal Agency of Nuclear Energy, Federal Service of Technical and Export Control of the Defense Ministry, Federal Customs Service are involved on our part, the Department of State and departments of commerce, defense, energy, and internal security on the American.
Contacts between the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation and the US Congress are promoted traditionally and in the light of the existing realities of global cooperation and partnership. Informal parliamentary group for export control and the related nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction contributes a great deal to these contacts and their advancement. The group includes representatives of committees and structures of both houses of our parliament who tackle problems of legislation pertaining national defense, export and border control, nonproliferation, war on terrorism, smuggling, and crime.
The group is acquainting specialists in export control and non-proliferation from the Federal Assembly and other federal power structures with the appropriate legislation and export control practices in the United States and other foreign countries.
Question: What matters were discussed in the course of the trip to Washington? Were the talks productive?
Vitaly Margelov: We discussed matters at length with appropriate committees of the Senate and House of Representatives, with the Department of State, departments of commerce, internal security, with the Auditing Commission. We met with a number of prominent businessmen and public figures. The agenda included discussion of problems of the Russian-American cooperation in the sphere of export control and nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction, advancement of our bilateral cooperation and interaction with the international community in the war on new challenges and threats and first and foremost with international terrorism on the basis of the latest decisions of the UN Security Council (Resolution 1540). We also discussed the ongoing Russian-American programs of dismantlement of surplus or obsolete weapons of mass destruction in Russia, improvement of their storage security, employment of weapons specialists and specialists in the spheres of nuclear weapons and chemical warfare means in the light of Russia's international obligations and bilateral accords between Moscow and Washington.
We brought up the subject of materiel and financial assistance to Russia within the framework of the Joint Abatement of Threat (colloquially known as Nunn-Lugar program) and in accordance with the G8 decisions in Kananaskis and at Sea Island, not to mention the accords our presidents reached in Bratislava this February.
Question: We regularly encounter the so called policy of dual standards on the part of the West. And how is the state of affairs in the sphere of cooperation in export control and nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction?
Vitaly Margelov: The American side regularly brings its worries over efficiency of the Russian export control system. In the meantime, Russian experts point out serious flaws in the American's own system. The matter concerns numerous violations of the law and export control rules by the Americans themselves.
The United States are still using economic sanctions against Russian enterprises and organizations on the pretext that they have allegedly violated export control procedures or sold foreigners dual-application products or technologies. Omsk Motors and M. Vorobei, a scientist employed at the Moscow Aviation Institute, fell victim of this American practice. The sanctions the US Administration is using against Russia and other countries are, in fact, an exterritorial application of American national legislation to Russian state enterprises. A gross violation of international law, it is frowned on in Russia. At the same time, I would not call it a policy of dual standards. As I see it, the matter boils down to excessive and unwarranted suspiciousness on the part of state officials; or perhaps, interests of rival structures.
Question: How would you appraise the current condition of the Russian-American cooperation within the framework of the parliamentary group? What are the prospects of this cooperation, in your opinion?
Vitaly Margelov: The parliamentary group could be more effective, if you ask me. For the time being, it is a purely informal structure. Perhaps, we should consider making it an official consultative team working for some appropriate committee of the Duma. Even profile committees of the Federation Council are welcome to offer the group an official status. In the meantime, I think we should continue using the expert potential of nongovernmental organizations like the Moscow Center of Export Control Problems that helped with organization of our trip to Washington. Establishment of a system of parliamentary investigation in Russia could come in handy too, and also promote close cooperation with our American counterparts.
Iranï¿½s long march to develop nuclear weapons continues behind the facade of so-called negotiations with the European-3 (France, Britain, and Germany) and with Russia. How anyone could consider this bunch as having any ability to restrain the mullahs is beyond comprehension. After all, the reactor at Bushehr originally was designed and constructed by the Germans, and is now being refurbished by the Russians, a highly lucrative undertaking. It is absolutely ludicrous that we would expect results from nations that risk losing billions of Euros and Rubles in contracts to develop the very same nuclear capabilities that we are trying to forestall.
The mullahs have a very robust and dispersed nuclear infrastructure, but the commercial power reactor at Bushehr garners most of the worldï¿½s attention. The primary area of concern is that the E-3 and Russian agreement with Iran calls for the spent fuel rods to be shipped back to Russia for reprocessing, to keep the plutonium out of the hands of Iranian weapons scientists.
The Bush Administration is rightfully suspicious of this arrangement, especially since the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been unable or unwilling to conduct proper inspections and report violations to the UN Security Council concerning Iran, and in years past with Iraq and North Korea. In fact, if recent news reports out of Russia are correct, Iran will not only have the fuel to run the reactor at Bushehr, but through a technical slight of hand will retain the spent fuel rods in the country for many years, despite Russiaï¿½s claim to the contrary.
On April 1 of this year, Moscow RTR TV broadcast a news segment about the Novosibirsk nuclear fuel fabrication facility in Siberia. Specifically, the video showed how the plant was producing fuel for Iran's Bushehr nuclear reactor. The report also notes that under the terms of a contract signed last January, the Novosibirsk plant is ready to ship about 80 tons of nuclear fuel to Iran. But buried toward the end of the broadcast was a statement that was ostensibly designed to allay US fears about proper control of the spent fuel rods, but in reality raises more questions about the true intentions of Putin and his nuclear scientists:
[Correspondent] However, spent nuclear fuel will not be returned to Russia that soon. Safety regulations dictate that it must first be kept in a so-called cooling pond for a minimum of 10 years. [emphasis added]
Ten years? Either someone at the Novosibirsk plant is very confused about nuclear industry procedures, or the true intentions of the Russians concerning the spent fuel rods inadvertently slipped out. My wager is the latter, because the industry standard for spent fuel to lie in the cooling pool is generally for a minimum of five months, not 10 years. This minimum cooling period of 150 days is used as the reference point for light water reactors (LWR), which is exactly the type of reactor at Bushehr.
When spent fuel is removed from the reactor, it emits radiation, primarily from the fission fragments and heat. The spent fuel is loaded into the cooling pool, normally adjacent to the reactor, to allow the radiation levels and the quantity of heat being released to decrease. The pools are both shields against the radiation and absorbers of the heat released. The cooling process allows most of the fission products of short half-life to decay, to reduce overall beta and gamma emissions, and, lastly, but most important to the Iranians, to allow the decay of heavy isotopes into elements which can be separated from more important products.
One of these desirable products would be plutonium, which is extracted by a process known as plutonium and uranium recovery by extraction (PUREX). The plutonium could then be used as a partial replacement for the uranium fuel in the Bushehr reactor, or as the fuel in a fast breeder reactor, such as the one under construction at Arak. Alternatively, of course, the plutonium can also be used in nuclear weapons.
There is no technical reason to keep the spent fuel rods from Bushehr in a cooling pool in Iran for 10 years prior to shipping them back to Russia. Even if Russian scientists decided to err on the side of safety and doubled the industry minimum standards, it would result in the fuel being stored in the cooling pool for less than one year. And if the IAEA continues its flawed inspection regimen, look for the spent fuel rods to eventually disappear over the 10 year ï¿½safetyï¿½ period, even though they were under IAEA ï¿½seal and control.ï¿½
We are witnessing a repeat of an old con game that was played to perfection by Saddam Hussein, France, Russia, and the IAEA prior to the Iraq War. Saddam was allowed to keep hundreds of tons of yellowcake, low-enriched uranium, and other radioactive source material to support two reactors and an enrichment lab that had been destroyed in separate operations by Israel and the US.
Just as before Operation Iraqi Freedom, the business interests of Russia and the E-3 with Iran trump any concerns about non-proliferation of WMD. Except now, more people are wise to their lies and deception.
1. North Korea Imports Nuclear Materials from Russia - Japanese Report
Yonhap News Agency
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North Korea has imported about 150 tons of highength aluminium from an unidentified Russian exporter as part of its nuclear weapons programme, Japan\'s Asahi Shimbun reported Sunday [5 June], citing US intelligence sources.
The amount of highength aluminium is enough to produce about 2,600 gas centrifuges used to enrich uranium, the report explained.
Identifying the US sources simply as former ranking Washington officials and officials involved in the six-party nuclear disarmament talks, the Japanese paper said such moves by the North have further escalated the international standoff over its nuclear ambition.
Separately, Pyongyang is known to have obtained 20 centrifuges and their blueprints from Pakistan years ago. An American source was quoted by Asahi as saying North Korea was seeking to secure a total of 350 tons of highength aluminium to produce about 6,000 centrifuges.
Fears of a North Korean nuclear test have grown after the communist state halted the operation of a key nuclear reactor in April in an apparent attempt to harvest plutonium for nuclear weapons.
In early May, North Korea said it finished unloading about 8,000 plutonium-laced spent fuel rods from the suspended reactor at its main nuclear complex in Yongbyon, north of Pyongyang, fuelling suspicions about the North\'s nuclear ambitions. Up to three nuclear bombs worth of plutonium can be extracted from the rods, experts say.
The fuel used in nuclear warheads can come from either uranium enrichment or plutonium reprocessing. North Korea has pursued both tracks.
The six-nation talks, which involve the two Koreas, the US, China, Japan and Russia, remain stalled since the third round last June. A fourth meeting, scheduled before the end of last September, did not take place due to a North Korean boycott.
1. Financial Difficulties Hinder Repairs and Upgrade of Russian Strategic Nuclear Submarines
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Difficulties with the financing of defence orders hinder the upgrade program of the Delta-IV strategic nuclear submarines in Severodvinsk.
The program originally stipulated to finish the repairs by 2007, but is likely to be postponed due to the unstable money transfers from the defence ministry, Interfax reported referring to a source at Zvezdochka shipyard.
The sea trials of K-114 Tula submarine were scheduled for spring but delays with delivery of the new sonar system led to another postponement. Meanwhile the commander of the submarine prolonged the sponsorship agreement of city Tula for the submarineï¿½s crew. The mayor of Tula promised to send working and sport clothes to the submariners as well as a minibus. In exchange, every year Tula submarine receives conscripts from the sister-city. The submarine commander also promised to invite representatives from Tula when the submarine is back in operation after the overhaul in October 2005. The upgrade of K-114 will allow the submarine to operate 10 years more. The project 667 Tula, Delta-IV, was built at the Sevmash plant in 1987 K-114 sub is one of the last Soviet built subs. Sevmash built it in 1987. Tula got its name in 1995 together with the sponsorship from the city of Tula.
The biggest difficulties are with K-117 Bryansk, which is underfinanced and could be hardly finished even in 2007. K-18 Karelia, where president Putin drank seawater and became a submariner, also lacks financing. No repair works at all were carried out at the presidential Delta-IV.
Earlier Zvezdochka shipyard has successfully repaired Verhoturye and Ekaterinburg, the subs of the same class, Interfax reported.
2. Russia Will Take Adequate Measures in Case of Space Militarisation - Defense Minister
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Russia will take adequate measures in case of attempts to militarize space, defense minister Sergei Ivanov told journalists at the Baikonur space center on Thursday. "If some state is nurturing plans or begins to orbit weapons, we will react adequately," the minister said.
Ivanov stressed that for decades Russia's stand on the matter was openly negative and remains negative.
Russia does not plan to curtail its defense and security operation in Baikonur, whose 50th anniversary is marked today.
"The Baikonur space center is not the only Russian spaceport [by agreement with Kazakhstan, Russia leased the center for 49 years]. We have recently launched many military spacecraft from other spaceports [such as Plesetsk in the north of European Russia and Svobodny in the Amur region in the Far East]. But this does not mean that we will curtail defense and security operation in Baikonur, Ivanov said.
According to him, there are no plans to withdraw the regiments or battalions of the Space Force from Baikonur.
"There should be as many servicemen here as would suffice to ensure security," the defense minister said.
Russia will be ready to discuss agreements on tactical nuclear weapons only when the countries that have them will withdraw these weapons to their national territory, Ivanov said commenting on the US Senators' offer of a treaty to ban tactical nuclear weapons.
The minister stressed that now Russia is the only country that keeps its tactical nuclear weapons on the national territory. "As you know, the other countries do not do this," Sergei Ivanov said.
Alexander Fomenko, advisor to the chief of the General Staff for combating terrorism and protecting military objects, answers the newspaper's questions. He was born in 1947, graduated from the Tank Academy and the Academy of the General Staff. He previously served as deputy chief of the General Staff.
Alexander Fomenko: "Ukraine's non-nuclear status meant that Ukraine would destroy missile silos of the 43rd missile army and scrap components of the Melanzh missile fuel. The US allocated money for this purpose. We destroyed the last missile silo in October 2001, but forgot about missile fuel. At present Ukraine stores 17,300 tons of missile fuel at eight bases. The army needs only 198.3 tons of such fuel. It will be too late to solve this problem in three years. The lifetime of fuel tanks is almost over.
In addition, Melanzh corrodes fuel tanks - the thickness of metal has decreased from 12.5 to 2.5 mm. Every base has auxiliary fuel tanks but the reserve of such tanks is not endless. Some experts say that we must burn Melanzh. It takes one ton of diesel fuel to burn one ton of Melanzh. It's too expensive. It's not ruled out that we will announce an international tender to scrap missile fuel. Israel, Germany and Austria offer their services.
German specialists recently visited us. They are prepared to transport all fuel to Germany. The cost of scrapping is $70 million. We do not have such money. Fuel tanks are stored outdoors. It should be noted that servicemen, who ensure the security of the bases, live within 500 meters of the fuel tanks. Melanzh would contaminate a territory in a radius of 1.5 kilometers in case of emergency. Missile fuel evaporates, producing brown smoke.
We use a water solution of ammonia in order to neutralize it. Every base must have 350 tons of this substance. It turned out that they have only 15%-20% of the necessary reserves. The lifetime of gas masks and fire extinguishers is over. Railways are in a very bad condition, one kilometer of railway costs around 1 million grivnas. Only one out of 14 cisterns can be used for transporting missile fuel."
2. France to Invest 900 Million Euros in Russia's Nuclear Waste Storage
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France is ready to invest some 900 million euros in the program of environmental rehabilitation of the coastal storage facility for spent nuclear fuel in Gremikha (Kola Peninsula).
The federal state unitary enterprise SevRAO has already signed a 150,000-euro contract with France's Commissariat for Atomic Energy to produce and supply the first mobile decontamination and sanitary inspection facility to Gremikha. Its installation in Gremikha is expected to be carried out in August 2005.
The preparation of documents for concluding a 750 million-euro agreement has also begun. The agreement includes construction of the second sanitary facility, purchase and supply of equipment for radioactive examination of the storage facility's territory and ensuring the safety of the maintenance staff, a SevRAO representative said to Interfax.
European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the EU Tacis (Technical Assistance to the Commonwealth of Independent States) program take part in the project together with France, which is Russia's main ideological foreign partner in the implementation of the program of Gremikha environmental safety. Gremikha is the second coastal storage facility of Northern Fleet's spent nuclear fuel, it is also the largest centre for decommissioned nuclear submarines mainly belonging to the first generation.
The mobile decontamination station is a 40-feet 10-tonns shipping container. It can accommodate 10 people at a time and is used for radiation control and decontamination of the personnel engaged in operations with the radioactive waste. The equipment for the stations will be delivered from France. At the next stage of the Gremikha rehabilitation project the specialists of the Kurchatov Institute will conduct a detailed radiation examination of the site.
The France takes part in the project in the frames of the agreement signed by France, European Bank of Reconstruction and Development, or EBRD, and TACIS program. The strategic master plan on the submarine dismantling presented by the EBRD stipulates funding of the nine first-priority projects in 2005, five of them are in Gremikha, and the France is the main ideological partner, Interfax reported.
Gremikha is the second land storage facility of the Northern fleet and is the biggest site for the laid-up nuclear submarines, mostly first generation. The base is situated approximately 350km from the Murmansk harbour and cannot be reached by land transport. The connection is only by sea or air. The base is accommodating 800 rods with spent nuclear fuel and six active zones from the reactors with liquid coolant of Alfa class submarines, project 705. Besides, 19 submarines and 38 reactors with unloaded spent nuclear fuel are also stored at the site. In 2001, the navy on-shore facilities in Gremikha and Andreyeva bay were handed over to the ï¿½Northern Federal Company on handling with radioactive wasteï¿½, or SevRAO, which was established by Russia to create infrastructure on nuclear submarines dismantling, handling of the nuclear spent fuel and radioactive waste, rehabilitation of the nuclear sites in the North of Russia, reported Interfax.
3. Russia: First Part of Nuclear Fuel Storage Facilities To Be Complete in 2007
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The construction of the first phase of a so-called dry depot of spent nuclear fuel at the Zheleznogorsk ore plan near Krasnoyarsk will be finished in 2007, the deputy director of the Federal Agency of Special Construction, Mikhail Leibman , said.
He told reporters on Thursday that nuclear materials stored at the plant would be reloaded to the new facility in 2008.
The preparatory phase of the construction has been completed, and the ground infrastructure of the new depot is being built.
The time of building two other storage facilities depends on the federal financing.
"The construction is going on normally, we are on schedule," Leibman said.
The first-phase depot will store about 6,000 tonnes of spent nuclear fuel, which "will be enough for seven-eight years", Leibman said.
"So-called dry storage of nuclear spent fuel is Russia's transition to a new safety level that will not depend on either natural or technological conditions," he said.
At present, spent fuel from nuclear power plants of Russia and other states is stored under a layer of the water in a 6,000-tonne depot.
After 20 years under the water, radioactivity of fuel rods decreases to a level allowing storing them in a dry form.
4. UK Allocates ï¿½16m for Onshore Storage Facility for Spent Nuclear Fuel
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Great Britain will allocate ï¿½16m for the construction of the spent nuclear fuel long-term storage facility at the Atomflot base in Murmansk, British Embassy Naval Attache Jonathan Holloway said to Interfax in April.
The Russian-British project will be presented by the British company Crown Agents and the Murmansk Shipping Company and Atomflot Federal Company. At the moment, the ï¿½4.6m contract for all construction works is signed at the Atomflot. Earlier a ï¿½2.6m contract was signed for non-standard equipment delivery. According to the project, the facility should be ready in April 2006.
The Atomflot officials also said to Interfax about ongoing negotiations regarding UK financial participation in construction of 50 containers TUK-120 for spent nuclear fuel storage and shipment. They said the state commission would never accept the facility if containers for spent nuclear fuel were not ready.
The onshore storage facility will be used for the spent nuclear fuel stored currently onboard service ship Lotta. Then Lotta will get place for 14 additional reactor zones from the laid up submarines.
1. On Russian-American Counter-Terrorist Initiative
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
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Russia and the United States have put forward a joint initiative at the OSCE, which aims to counter the threat of a possible use by terrorists of radioactive sources of increased danger.
A draft decision has been circulated, which contains a political obligation of the OSCE member-states to join the IAEA Code of Conduct in order to ensure the security and safety of radioactive sources and implement its governing principles. The draft decision calls on the states to strengthen cooperation with each other and support the IAEA efforts in this field.
The Code of Conduct was approved by the IAEA Board of Governors in September 2003. Forty OSCE member-states, including Russia, have already joined it, and 28 countries have announced their intention to ensure that effective control over the import and export of radioactive sources is put in place by the end of 2005 in accordance with the IAEA Governing Documents.
The Russian-US initiative in the OSCE is a follow-up particularly to the Group of Eight's agreements.
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