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Nuclear News - 7/18/2005
RANSAC Nuclear News, July 18, 2005
Compiled By: Jeffrey Read

A.  Editors Note
    1. Editor's Note, RANSAC (7/18/2005)
B.  Research Reactor Fuel Return
    1. 900 Kilos of Spent Fuel, The Moscow Times (7/15/2005)
C.  Submarine Dismantlement
    1. Japan to Aid Russia in Building Storage for Dismantled Nuke Subs, Kyodo News (7/18/2005)
    2. Nuclear Components Storage Facility Costs $80 Million, RIA Novosti (7/18/2005)
D.  Nuclear Terrorism
    1. Al-Qaida's U.S. Nuclear Targets,  (7/18/2005)
    2. American Hiroshima: Old News, Ryan Mauro, Global Politician (7/18/2005)
    3. Pak Man Today, Nuke Man Tomorrow, John Hall, The Cincinnati Post (7/18/2005)
E.  Nonproliferation Diplomacy
    1. Russia Supports IAEA Approach to Nuclear Cycle, RIA Novosti (7/15/2005)
F.  Russia-Iran
    1. Iran Wants to Question Former Russian Nuclear Energy Minister Adamov, Arrested in Switzerland, Bellona Foundation (7/18/2005)
    2. Possible Embezzlement at Bushehr to be Investigated - Russian Audit Chamber, RIA Novosti (7/18/2005)
G.  Russia-North Korea
    1. Russia, N Korea Discuss Prospects for Six-Party Talks in Beijing, ITAR-TASS (7/18/2005)
H.  Nuclear Industry
    1. Russia Wants to Be an International Center for Spent Fuel, Alena Kornysheva, Kommersant (7/18/2005)
    2. France Blocking Russia�s Entry to Spent Nuclear Fuel Market � Rosatom Head, MosNews (7/15/2005)
    3. Non-Nuclear Countries Offered Benefits of Nuclear Power, But Not the Technology, Tatyana Sinitsyna, RIA Novosti (7/15/2005)
I.  Nuclear Safety
    1. Alarm Over Radioactive Waste Site, Julian Evans, The Moscow Times (7/15/2005)
    2. IAEA Conference in Moscow Causes Anxiety Among Environmentalists, Rashid Alimov and Vera Ponomareva, Bellona Foundation (7/15/2005)
J.  Official Statements
    1. Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexander Alexeyev Meets with ROK Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Song Min-soon, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation (7/18/2005)
K.  Links of Interest
    1. Jane's Terrorism and Insurgency Centre (7/18/2005)

A.  Editors Note

Editor's Note
(for personal use only)

Subscribers to Jane�s Terrorism and Insurgency Centre may be interested in an article in its archives by Igor Khripunov titled �JTIC Briefing: Rethink the Threat of Chemical Terrorism�. A link to the JTIC homepage is provided in the Links of Interest section below.

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B.  Research Reactor Fuel Return

900 Kilos of Spent Fuel
The Moscow Times
(for personal use only)

Russia has imported 900 kilograms of spent nuclear fuel from research reactors in foreign countries, an official said Thursday.

The fuel has come from Soviet-built research reactors in Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Libya, Latvia and Uzbekistan, said Yulia Byba, a spokeswoman for the Federal Atomic Energy Agency.

Russia and the United States signed a deal last year that provides U.S. funds to bring both fresh and spent uranium fuel from more than 20 research reactors in 17 nations back to Russia for reprocessing in an effort to prevent it from falling into terrorist hands.

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C.  Submarine Dismantlement

Japan to Aid Russia in Building Storage for Dismantled Nuke Subs
Kyodo News
(for personal use only)

The Japanese government will join hands with Russia to build a facility to store dismantled Russian nuclear submarines on the outskirts of Vladivostok, in hopes of preventing radioactive pollution in the Sea of Japan, government sources said Sunday.

Japan will also support Moscow by operating a new radiation assessment system on a trial basis in the vicinity of where the nuclear reactor components are dismantled from the submarines for semi-permanent storage at the facility.

The 6-hectare facility will be able to store up to 100 dismantled nuclear submarines. It is estimated to cost $71 million, or approximately 8 billion yen, one of the largest projects for Japan in supporting Russia's denuclearization.

Meanwhile, Tokyo plans to provide $5 million to finance an experimental operation of the radiation assessment system, under which radiation data are collected from sea and land near where the submarines are dismantled.

The Japanese Foreign Ministry's parliamentary secretary, Katsuyuki Kawai, who visited the site July 9-11, has reported to the government that concrete measures must be taken soon.

"Having seen the conditions at the site, I feel strongly that they (nuclear submarines) need to be stored on land as soon as possible," Kawai was quoted as saying. "I hope to turn the Sea of Japan from one of conflict and unease into one of friendship and safety."

Bilateral discussions are expected to begin as early as in September and construction may start next spring for completion in 2009, the sources said.

Currently, the center parts of retired nuclear submarines, where the nuclear reactors are located, are covered by concrete and moored at port after spent nuclear fuel is removed. However, experts have expressed concerns of radioactive leaks such as through corrosion.

Japan and Russia will decide on the share of costs in upcoming negotiations. Japan's contribution will be funded from the $200 million it has pledged through a Japan-Russia committee on cooperation on denuclearization, the sources said.

Japan has been supporting Russia in dismantling retired nuclear submarines in the Far East since 1993, but progress has been slow relative to northwestern Russia which receives aid from various European countries.

According to the Foreign Ministry, there are 19 nuclear submarines near Vladivostok and 11 at the Kamchatka Peninsula waiting to be dismantled and spent nuclear fuel remains on most of the vessels. This raises concerns not only of radioactive leakage but also possible theft of the nuclear substances.

The revelation in 1993 that Russia's Pacific fleet had dumped radioactive waste from dismantled nuclear submarines into the Sea of Japan prompted Tokyo to decide to aid Moscow in tackling the problem.

With Japan's support, a facility to process low intensity radioactive liquid waste was completed in November 2001. One submarine was dismantled last October at the cost of 790 million yen paid by Japan.

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Nuclear Components Storage Facility Costs $80 Million
RIA Novosti
(for personal use only)

The construction of a storage facility for the components of nuclear reactors from decommissioned submarines in the Far East will cost about $80 million, Victor Akhunov, a Russian Federal Atomic Energy (Rosatom) official, told RIA Novosti.

Russia has already started the construction of a storage facility for decommissioned nuclear submarines of the Pacific fleet in the Razboinik Bay (Far East).

"The facility has been under construction for a while," the Rosatom official said. "Its estimated cost is about $80 million. However, the funds allocated from the federal budget will not allow us to finish the project quickly. That is why we offered the Japanese government to participate in the project."

"Japanese officials will decide whether to participate in the project by the fall of this year," Akhunov said.

He also said 195 nuclear submarines had been decommissioned. A hundred and twenty of them have been dismantled into blocs consisting of three compartments. In the future, the reactor compartments will be cut out of the blocs already without nuclear fuel and placed in a special storage facility on the shore.

Sources in Japan's foreign ministry told RIA Novosti that Japan would help Russia build the storage facility near Vladivostok, the administrative center of the maritime region on the west coast of the Sea of Japan.

Japanese diplomats said their government would make an official decision in the next few days, following Katsuyuki Kawai's, the Japanese Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs, visit to the Far East on July 9-11.

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D.  Nuclear Terrorism

Al-Qaida's U.S. Nuclear Targets
(for personal use only)

Al-Qaida's prime targets for launching nuclear terrorist attacks are the nine U.S. cities with the highest Jewish populations, according to captured leaders and documents.

As first revealed last week in Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin, the premium, online intelligence newsletter published by the founder of WND, Osama bin Laden is planning what he calls an "American Hiroshima," the ultimate terrorist attack on U.S. cities, using nuclear weapons already smuggled into the country across the Mexican border along with thousands of sleeper agents.

The series of attacks is designed to kill 4 million, destroy the economy and fundamentally alter the course of history.

At least two fully assembled and operational nuclear weapons are believed to be hidden in the United States already, according to G2 Bulletin intelligence sources and an upcoming book, "The al-Qaida Connection: International Terrorism, Organized Crime and the Coming Apocalypse," by former FBI consultant Paul L. Williams.

The cities chosen as optimal targets are New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Boston and Washington, D.C. New York and Washington top the preferred target list for al-Qaida leadership.

Bin Laden's goal, according to G2 Bulletin sources, is to launch one initial attack, followed by a second on another city to simulate the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The optimal dates for the attacks are Aug. 6, the anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing, Sept. 11 and May 14, the anniversary of the re-creation of the state of Israel in 1948. No specific year has been suggested, however, this Aug. 6 represents the 60th anniversary of the Hiroshima attack.

The captured terrorists and documents also suggest smaller attacks may take place on American soil before the nuclear incidents. They may include some involving automatic weapons at schools and shopping malls, but will not include any airplane hijackings. Why? Because bin Laden does not want any failed efforts to overshadow "the success of Sept. 11." There will also not be any attacks on U.S. nuclear power plants. The rationale? The nuclear power plants can act as force multipliers when the weapons of mass destruction are detonated.

Another requirement dictated from the top at al-Qaida is that the attacks take place in daylight, so that the whole world will be able to see the images of a mushroom cloud over an American city.

One of the sources for the information is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the chief planner of the Sept. 11 attacks, who is now in U.S. custody.

As previously reported by G2 Bulletin, al-Qaida has obtained at least 40 nuclear weapons from the former Soviet Union � including suitcase nukes, nuclear mines, artillery shells and even some missile warheads. In addition, documents captured in Afghanistan show al-Qaida had plans to assemble its own nuclear weapons with fissile material it purchased on the black market.

U.S. military sources also say there is evidence to suggest al-Qaida is paying former Russian special forces "Spetznaz" troops to assist the terrorist group in locating nuclear weapons planted in the U.S. during the Cold War. Osama bin Laden's group is also paying nuclear scientists from Russia and Pakistan to maintain its existing nuclear arsenal and assemble additional weapons with the materials it has invested hundreds of millions in procuring over a period of 10 years. Al-Qaida sources indicate they would prefer to use Russian-made weapons for symbolic reasons.

The plans for the devastating nuclear attack on the U.S. have been under development for more than a decade. It is designed as a final deadly blow to the U.S., which is seen by al-Qaida and its allies as "the Great Satan."

At least half the nuclear weapons in the al-Qaida arsenal were obtained for cash from the Chechen terrorist allies.

But the most disturbing news is that high level U.S. officials now believe at least some of those weapons have been smuggled into the U.S. for use in the near future in major cities as part of this "American Hiroshima" plan.

According to Williams, former CIA Director George Tenet informed President Bush one month after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that at least two suitcase nukes had reached al-Qaida operatives in the U.S.

"Each suitcase weighed between 50 and 80 kilograms (approximately 110 to 176 pounds) and contained enough fissionable plutonium and uranium to produce an explosive yield in excess of two kilotons," wrote Williams. "One suitcase bore the serial number 9999 and the Russian manufacturing date of 1988. The design of the weapons, Tenet told the president, is simple. The plutonium and uranium are kept in separate compartments that are linked to a triggering mechanism that can be activated by a clock or a call from the cell phone."

According to the author, the news sent Bush "through the roof," prompting him to order his national security team to give nuclear terrorism priority over every other threat to America.

However, it is worth noting that Bush failed to translate this policy into securing the U.S.-Mexico border through which the nuclear weapons and al-Qaida operatives are believed to have passed with the help of the MS-13 smugglers. He did, however, order the building of underground bunkers away from major metropolitan areas for use by federal government managers following an attack.

Bin Laden, according to Williams, has nearly unlimited funds to spend on his nuclear terrorism plan because he has remained in control of the Afghanistan-produced heroin industry. Poppy production has greatly increased even while U.S. troops are occupying the country, he writes. Al-Qaida has developed close relations with the Albanian Mafia, which assists in the smuggling and sale of heroin throughout Europe and the U.S.

Some of that money is used to pay off the notorious MS-13 street gang between $30,000 and $50,000 for each sleeper agent smuggled into the U.S. from Mexico. The sleepers are also provided with phony identification, most often bogus matricula consular ID cards indistinguishable from Mexico's official ID, now accepted in the U.S. to open bank accounts and obtain driver's licenses.

According to Williams' sources, thousands of al-Qaida sleeper agents have now been forward deployed into the U.S. to carry out their individual roles in the coming "American Hiroshima" plan.

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American Hiroshima: Old News
Ryan Mauro
Global Politician
(for personal use only)

This week, the mainstream media seemed shocked when a number of news sources, including released a report about an "American Hiroshima" plot against the United States by Al-Qaeda The plot calls for Al-Qaeda to detonate nuclear weapons on American soil, having arrived over the Mexican border with the assistance of MS-13 gang members. The report claims Al-Qaeda has already obtained a large number of nuclear weapons currently being maintained by Pakistani and Russian scientists.

Why the shock? In November 2002, this author provided similar and nearly identical information to the American public and intelligence agencies compiled from private and open-sources. The result was a research project of an enormous size, summarily published on this site with the entire version published on Thus, we were quite surprised when this report rocked and shocked the mainstream media over two years after we had already published the same information.

Our original report, entitled "Exposing the Next Wave of Spectacular Terrorism: Terrorist Possession of Weapons of Mass Destruction" seems antiquated as it had been tailored to the address the concerns at the onset of Operation Iraqi Freedom, including the possibility of retaliatory terrorist attacks. Although there were several subsequent updates, we have re-compiled our information, now over two years old, to illustrate we sounded this alarm bell in 2002.

There is a significant amount of intelligence and open-source documentation suggesting that al-Qaeda has obtained and is in possession of nuclear weapons. There is, unfortunately, no way to know for certain the status of these weapons. Have they been destroyed? Do the terrorists lack the expertise to use them? Are the weapons simply old and useless, or are they being kept hidden somewhere for later use? These are the questions the intelligence community needs to be asking, and should have been asking over the last few years.

There is much speculation over the reasons security and intelligence agencies are going to such great lengths to guard against chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear terrorism. One of the most recent ones today is that President Bush and Tony Blair were personally advised that al-Qaeda had obtained nuclear weapons through their contact with former KGB agents. Reportedly, during the last week of October 2001, CIA director George Tenet met with the president to discuss fresh intelligence about the nuclear threat. It is said that Bush was startled by the discussion and immediately proceeded to make preparation for nuclear terrorism a top priority despite its expenses. Perhaps this is the meeting that Paul L. Williams refers to in his new book when he says our leadership was informed of the terrorists' nuclear capabilities and "went through the roof."

Testimony About the Threat

Stanislav Lunev, the highest-ranking defector from Russia's GRU intelligence service has testified that al-Qaeda possesses nuclear weapons from the Soviet arsenal. "They [Al-Qaeda] hatched their plan over years and trained well for it. They used 'cheap' weapons not because they did not have 'expensive' weapons of mass destruction; all evidence indicates they have such weapons." He has said that the Israeli Mossad concluded in the 1990s that Bin Laden had obtained nuclear warheads, artillery shells, and torpedoes from the former Soviet Union.

Representative Christopher Shays (R-Conn), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on National Security, became a leading voice after September 11, 2001 and warned about our vulnerability to nuclear terrorism. He repeatedly warned that up to 60 briefcase-sized nuclear weapons (1-3 kilotons each) may have been stolen from the former Soviet Union. Shays cites the testimony of an advisor to Russian President Putin for that figure. The weapons have been "missing" for a long time, in fact as far back as 1997 when Boris Yeltsin was still the President of Russia, General Aleksandr Lebed (the former National Security Advisor) warned that around 100 "suitcase-sized" nuclear weapons were unaccounted for.

Representative Curt Weldon (R-PA) stated that a former top aide to Yeltsin confirmed the same thing to him, saying "scores" were missing. The aide said that high-ranking military figures were selling off the technology, with explosive power ranging from one to 10 kilotons.

John Colarusso, an expert on the Caucasus at McMaster University in Ontario (and an advisor to President Clinton on Chechnya) has said: "I am reasonably certain that they have or had at least three warheads," referring to Chechen militant groups. He said warheads were found in an abandoned ballistic missile silo in Bamut. The missiles were destroyed in the mid-1970s by a propellant fire which left two warheads at the bottom of the shafts. The third weapon he said the Chechens possessed was a nuclear-tipped air-to-surface missile.

Shaykh Hisham Kabbani, founder of the Islamic Supreme Council of America, said in 1999 to the State Department that a coalition of terrorist organizations including Osama Bin Laden had received over 20 "suitcase-sized" nuclear weapons from criminals in the former Soviet Union. He was warning them about the growth of Islamic radicalism in Muslim mosques and organizations.

Press Accounts

The first major Western paper to report that Osama Bin Laden had obtained nuclear weapons was the London Times. In October 1998, they reported that he had purchased nuclear weapons from the former Soviet Union, as did the London-based paper, Al-Hayat. Al-Watan al-Arabi, Al-Quds al-Arabi, Al-Wasat, Al-Majalllah, Izvestiya (Russia), Yossef Bodansky (former director of the US Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare) and Paul L. Williams (a former terrorism consultant to the FBI) have all described virtually the same account: Al-Qaeda has purchased up to 20 nuclear weapons through the Chechens and Russian Mafia from the former Soviet Union, most reports saying it was done for around $30 million and two tons of opium (worth at least $700 million if sold in the West).

Al-Watan al-Arabi's report dated November. 13, 1998, said the weapons obtained from Russia reached Afghanistan via Uzbekistan, and that former Soviet scientists had removed the active uranium so it could be processed and put into backpack-sized bombs. On October 28, 2002, the Washington Times in an article titled "Al-Qaeda Nukes For Real, Intelligence Says," appears to give additional confirmation to this story, saying "reliable sources" reported that the nukes were smuggled into central Asia by the Russian Mafia and technicians had been hired to maintain them.

There is additional confirmation that Al-Qaeda obtained nuclear weapons through Chechen sources from, a weekly intelligence digest edited by Bill Gertz of the Washington Times and Robert Morton of The publication reported on July 28, 2001 that their sources confirmed Al-Qaeda had nuclear weapons, but the estimated number varied between intelligence services. Russian intelligence believes they obtained "a handful," while the Arabs (specifically the Saudis), indicated it could be 20 or more. published a similar report back on August 9, 1999.

Yossef Bodansky's claims in "Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War on America" and Paul L. Williams in his books tell a story that is almost identical to these Arab press reports. The reports state that all the way back in 1988, Bin Laden hired five nuclear scientists from Turkmenistan to work at Khost, Afghanistan. Their leader worked at the Iraqi nuclear reactor before it was destroyed. Here the scientists began working to remove the fissionable material to be moved into smaller backpack-sized packages. Reportedly, it is possible hundreds of scientists and technicians were hired. Williams has written that Al-Qaeda has figured out how to detonate the weapons. Bodansky has been silent, except for saying there was also intelligence indicating Russian experts had been hired for that purpose.

Using ties to the Chechen mafia and militant groups, at a cost of $30 million and two tons of opium, he bought up many nuclear weapons (possibly over 20) from Russia, the Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, and began trying to hire former Spetsnaz operatives who were trained in maintaining and using the nukes. The Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies in New Delhi, citing "moderate Arab sources," also reported that approximately 20 nukes had been obtained and hidden around Khost and Kandahar, as reported by Chris Todd (in Web Today, August 19, 2000).

The El Mundo paper, often called France's version of the New York Times, issued a report dated September 16, 2001 as well, saying Al-Qaeda had obtained nuclear weapons, writing: "The latest information out of the U.S. is that the leader's emissaries succeeded in purchasing out of the Ukraine 3 mini-nukes known as RA115 and RA116. These can be carried in a suitcase, and 700 of them were manufactured in the Soviet Union. Russian sources admit they have lost at least 100 of these."

Paul L. Williams in his book, Al-Qaeda reveals that his sources are reportedly two criminals involved with the deal. Williams says the crime ring involved and was operated by a former KGB officer who sold weapons from Chechnya, and then expanded his activity into New York. Two of his criminals told the FBI that the deal that made the crime ring rich was with "Afghan Arabs" looking for nuclear weapons. Williams says that the Taliban's heroin sales to the Sicilian Mafia and other organizations helped pay for the weapons.

So, what is the bottom line on this? Either our own intelligence sources have been hoodwinked by "bad" intelligence, numerous open sources have also been fooled en masse, or it means there is indeed credible information al-Qaeda currently possesses nuclear weapons. The private consensus among intelligence insiders for the last few years is indeed that al Qaeda has nuclear weapons in their possession.

Separate but Related Report

On November 10, 2001, Pakistan's The Frontier Post reported that Al-Qaeda had obtained nuclear weapons, providing information very similar to the recent information offered by WorldNetDaily's and Paul Williams. That report said there was a Pakistani-American investigation into the subject and it was concluded that at least two briefcase-sized nukes had reached US soil. At least one was traced back to central Asian groups and Al-Qaeda. It reportedly is a small bomb around 8 kg, with at least 2 kg of fissionable uranium and plutonium. The Russian device has a serial number of 9999 and a manufacturing date of October 1998. The uranium and plutonium are contained in separate compartments, each with a separate charging mechanism.

Warnings From Al-Qaeda

In November of 2001, Osama bin Laden admitted to Hamid Mir, a major Pakistani journalist that he had nuclear weapons. "They're not difficult to obtain if you have contacts in Russia with other Islamist groups. They are available for $10 million and $20 million." He said they were a deterrent force, to be used in retaliation. It should be noted that back in late 1998, when the weapons were reportedly received, Bin Laden gave an interview saying that he had nuclear weapons, and that it was justified because the West had them and had used them.

This point is interesting by its very nature because ALL of Osama's grievances against the West are related to crimes against the Muslim people, EXCEPT for the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He and other Al-Qaeda operatives have said this is something we need to be punished for, and has cited it as one of our atrocities. Why throw in this grievance with all the others that are strictly related to our treatment of Muslims? There can only be one logical answer: Bin Laden needs to justify some sort of attack with nuclear weapons.

Ahmed Salama Mabruk, head of Egyptian Islamic Jihad's operations in Cairo (the group merged with Al-Qaeda) and thus, a top aide to Ayman al-Zawahiri, told Mohamed Salah of al-Hayat that Al-Qaeda obtained nuclear weapons from several countries. Mabruk said there were strict instructions for them not to be used unless Osama gave his direct orders.

Jamal Ahmed al-Fadl worked for Al-Qaeda in the early 1990s. He explained how he was sent to check out a three foot high cylinder full of enriched uranium from South Africa while he was in Sudan for $1.5 million. Although he was unsure if the deal was consummated, he confirmed that the leadership of Bin Laden's organization was negotiating the purchase of "nuclear suitcases" from the Russian Mafia in Chechnya.

The origin of the latest "American Hiroshima" story citing the death of 4 million U.S. citizens stems from Abu Ghaith, al-Qaeda's top spokesperson. He said in 2003 that Islam had the right to use chemical and biological weapons since the USA has used them; kill four million Americans including one million children; leave eight million homeless; and cripple hundreds of thousands of Americans. It is unclear whether Ghaith meant this would be done all in one attack.

An interesting claim being investigated by our intelligence agencies but something so far ignored by the Western media is a claims by a well known radical Islamic web site claiming to be affiliated with Bin Laden's organization. In late 2002, a "nuclear fatwa" was reportedly issued and was accompanied by a disturbing photo-shopped picture of a nuclear explosion in New York City with Bin Laden in the background. That image, pictured below, was first published on this web site in 2002 along with references to al Qaeda's nuclear capabilities as outlined by this analyst as well as others within this organization. In 2002, we were considered pariahs and alarmists by the major media and others while the NEST aircraft were busy conducting their searches across the U.S.. Now, those same individuals are engaged in collective hand-wringing over this "new, earth-shaking news" that we outlined years ago.

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Pak Man Today, Nuke Man Tomorrow
John Hall
The Cincinnati Post
(for personal use only)

One of the most important intelligence breakthroughs of the past decade by our battered CIA was forcing Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to rat on the underground nuclear trade network being run out of Pakistan.

The mastermind of this scheme was the father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb, A.Q. Kahn, whose motives appeared to be sheer profit.

The outing of Kahn, through the efforts of the Directorate of Operations working alongside British intelligence, is looking even more important as London police trace a Pakistani pipeline to the bus and subway bombings. The world shudders to think what this incident would have meant for all of mankind if the Pakistani connection had been a nuclear connection.

Pakistan is a nuclear nation but a dependable U.S. ally. It is filled with decent people and its government said it alerted Britain several times during its recent election of other terrorist plots. Having said that, Pakistan is still a chamber of horrors. It is a breeding ground for terrorists, a refuge for militants and a suspected haven for al Qaeda.

At least one of the London bombers had just undergone three months of "religious" training in Pakistan, according to his uncle. He apparently came back with a chest full of hate. Somebody gave the Pak men satchels full of high explosives. It could have been worse.

Al-Qaida and the remnants of Afghanistan's Taliban drift across the border into Pakistan's remote regions, and it is rumored that Osama bin Laden himself is in residence.

If Kahn were still trying to peddle a "one-stop shopping" nuclear market as he was doing before he was stopped, the likelihood would have been stronger that the London suicide bombers would have had a nuclear device of some kind at their disposal. The miracle is that they didn't.

The Robb-Silberman Commission on Intelligence Capabilities found little comfort in the roll-up of the Kahn network. It reported in March that others may try to replicate Kahn because the gray market for nuclear trafficking has created a "burgeoning industry" in nuclear weapons.

Is it just a matter of time before bin Laden or some other terrorist buys one? The situation is complicated with an adversary like North Korea in the game and Iran, with a new, potentially more dangerous leadership, on the brink of developing nuclear weapons.

Intelligence agencies have been predicting that al-Qaida and other Islamic terrorists would eventually use a radiological, nuclear, germ or gas warfare device somewhere. The nation's Homeland Security secretary, Michael Chertoff, announced plans last week to step up defenses against biological and nuclear terror.

Though radiological devices are no small technological hurdle, the raw material apparently is abundant. A top British expert on "loose nukes" told a recent closed-door international conference that there is so much of the stuff lying around in Russia today that it "is plainly a practical possibility" for terrorists to find radiological components. He said that was partly because of inadequate funding of the Nunn-Lugar clean-up program during President Bush's first term. Russia's Kola Peninsula seems to be a center of the problem.

With one exception - Sen. Richard Lugar, the Indiana Republican - no one in Congress seems to worry about nukes very much, and that's because the public isn't listening. And why should we?

Right now, Washington's leadership consists of a theater of the absurd. A "house-that-Jack-built" scandal is reaching gale force about who leaked the name of a CIA agent who was the wife of the ambassador who wrote the report that knocked down the theory that Saddam Hussein was buying uranium in Africa. It is well known now that he was not buying uranium and Iraq did not have nuclear weapons. Bush was mistaken, the intelligence community was duped and the Iraq war was fought, with tragic consequences, on fallacious grounds.

But no one can take an ounce of comfort in any of this silliness. The central problem of the age continues to be the proliferation of nuclear weapons and whether wise men can rise to the awful challenge.

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E.  Nonproliferation Diplomacy

Russia Supports IAEA Approach to Nuclear Cycle
RIA Novosti
(for personal use only)

Russia supports the initiatives of the International Atomic Energy Agency on comprehensive approaches to the nuclear fuel cycle, an IAEA official said Friday at an international conference.

Yuri Sokolov, IAEA Deputy Director General for Nuclear Energy, said that the Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov and the head of the Russian Federal Agency for Nuclear Power (Rosatom) Alexander Rumyantsev had expressed their support for the IAEA initiatives on a rational approach to the nuclear fuel cycle.

On July 13-15 Moscow hosted an international conference to examine comprehensive technical and organizational approaches to the nuclear fuel cycle to strengthen the nuclear non-proliferation regime.

Sokolov said the international conference, "had allowed the parties to better understand one another and provided a good basis for further cooperation."

Vladimir Kuchinov, head of the Rosatom department for international and external economic affairs, said that international efforts to strengthen the nuclear non-proliferation regime must be consolidated for the future development of nuclear energy.

The conference reported that the existing methods for producing and transporting nuclear fuel were at "a technically acceptable level despite the considerable growth of nuclear energy powers." They provide a basis for the development of international nuclear fuel cycle centers.

Talking about the establishment of an international center for processing spent nuclear fuel, Kuchinov said the issue should be discussed at an international level under the supervision of the IAEA.

He said that the proposal to establish a reserve stock of nuclear fuel under IAEA control had been discussed for many years. He added that some political, technical and organizational issues still had to be addressed.

"Setting up international working groups should be the next step toward establishing a reserve stock of nuclear fuel under the IAEA," he added.

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F.  Russia-Iran

Iran Wants to Question Former Russian Nuclear Energy Minister Adamov, Arrested in Switzerland
Bellona Foundation
(for personal use only)

The Russian and Iranian supreme audit institutions will investigate the considerable delay in the construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant, the head of the Russian Audit Chamber said in an interview on national television.

The Russian and Iranian supreme audit institutions will investigate the considerable delay in the construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant, the head of the Russian Audit Chamber said in an interview on national television, as reported by RIA News.

After his recent trip to Iran, Sergei Stepashin told the Rossiya TV channel, "My Iranian colleague and I have agreed to carry out a parallel investigation into why this project has been delayed."

"We have reached unpleasant conclusions. A certain organization, Atomstroiexport, was established under the Nuclear Energy Ministry in 1998. This organization acted as an intermediary. Then Kakha Bendukidze (a well-known Russian oligarch of Georgian origin who became the Georgian Economic Minister under President Mikhail Saakashvili) acquired the company. After that, the state lost all its positions in the company."

"Iran has many questions for that company," Stepashin said. Fortunately, it has undergone a change in ownership and now belongs to Gazprombank. This means that it is a state-run organization now. Iran also has questions it wants to ask former Russian minister for nuclear energy Adamov (currently under arrest in Switzerland on fraud charges brought by the U.S.). Iran says that several heavily funded programs have never been implemented."

"We are waiting for our Iranian colleagues (to send us) documents and we will study them very closely with our specialists," Stepashin said.

"I think the Russian Prosecutor General's Office should study this case very carefully."

The head of the Audit Chamber said that he expected the multi-billion Bushehr nuclear power plant to be operational by the end of next year. "This would allow Russia to continue working in Iran, including in its nuclear market. In the next 80 years, Russia could make about $80-100 billion from its projects in Iran," Stepashin said.

Both the United States and Israel have objected to the building of the Bushehr reactor, which could go online at the end of next year, as they claim Iran is secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons and that having such a facility will be a proliferation risk. Russia signed a cooperation agreement with Iran in 2002 that opened the way for the construction of up to five reactors, including another one at Bushehr, over the coming decade.

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Possible Embezzlement at Bushehr to be Investigated - Russian Audit Chamber
RIA Novosti
(for personal use only)

The Russian and Iranian supreme audit institutions will investigate the considerable delay in the construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant, the head of the Russian Audit Chamber said in an interview on national television.

After his recent trip to Iran, Sergei Stepashin told the Rossiya TV channel, "My Iranian colleague and I have agreed to carry out a parallel investigation into why this project has been delayed."

"We have reached unpleasant conclusions. A certain organization, Atomstroiexport, was established under the Nuclear Energy Ministry in 1998. This organization acted as an intermediary. Then Kakha Bendukidze (a well-known Russian oligarch of Georgian origin who became the Georgian Economic Minister under President Mikhail Saakashvili) acquired the company. After that, the state lost all its positions in the company."

"Iran has many questions for that company," Stepashin said. Fortunately, it has undergone a change in ownership and now belongs to Gazprombank. This means that it is a state-run organization now. Iran also has questions it wants to ask former Russian minister for nuclear energy Adamov (currently under arrest in Switzerland on fraud charges brought by the U.S.). Iran says that several heavily funded programs have never been implemented."

Stepashin said that Russia was expecting to obtain information from Iran on this issue. "I think the Russian Prosecutor General's Office should study this case very carefully," he added.

The head of the Audit Chamber said that he expected the multi-billion Bushehr nuclear power plant to be operational by the end of next year. "This would allow Russia to continue working in Iran, including in its nuclear market. In the next 80 years, Russia could make about $80-100 billion from its projects in Iran," Stepashin said.

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G.  Russia-North Korea

Russia, N Korea Discuss Prospects for Six-Party Talks in Beijing
(for personal use only)

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Alexeyev and North Korean Ambassador to Russia Pak Ui Chun discussed on Monday prospects for the coming six-party talks on the Korean nuclear problem to be held in Beijing late in July, Tass learnt at the Russian Foreign Ministry.

According to the ministry, the sides �examined at the meeting development of bilateral relations. They also exchanged opinions on the situation around settling the nuclear problem of the Korean Peninsula�.

Moscow �advocates offering Pyongyang security guarantees�, Alexeyev told Tass in connection with the coming resumption of the negotiating process. �We regard the question on granting security guarantees to the DPRK an important component part of settling the nuclear problem,� the deputy minister said. �We are ready to participate in implementing such guarantees both on a bilateral as well as on multilateral basis.�

According to Alexeyev, �taking into account the fact that one year passed since the previous round of talks, participants in their new round should confirm again their commitment to aims of settling the nuclear problem�. He contended that is necessary �to concentrate on a search for specific ways of settling the problem on the ground of existing proposals by the sides, possible mutually acceptable solutions and flexibility in approaches�.

Pyongyang crusades �for denuclearising the peninsula�, emphasized last Thursday North Korean chairman of the State Defence Committee Kim Jong Il at a meeting with member of the Chinese State Council Tang Jiaxuan in Pyongyang, reported the Zhongguo Xinwen news agency. Kim hopes that �the mechanism of the six-party talks will be an important platform for achieving this goal�.

Russia participates in the six-party negotiating process along with the two Korean states, China, the US and Japan.

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H.  Nuclear Industry

Russia Wants to Be an International Center for Spent Fuel
Alena Kornysheva
(for personal use only)

An international conference on the nuclear fuel cycle concluded on Friday in Moscow. It was held under the aegis of the International Agency for Atomic Energy. Under discussion there was the turnover of spent nuclear fuel. Russia is lobbying for the establishment of an international center for the processing for storage of spent nuclear fuel outside Krasnoyarsk, but the project has limited support so far.

Alexander Rumyantsev, head of the Federal Agency for Atomic Energy (Rosatom) said that the large nuclear powers should take a common approach to the problem of nuclear waste. It was rather simple in his view. The spent fuel that has been accumulating for 50 years now �could be placed in a four-story apartment building, and the spent fuel that will accumulate in the next several hundred years, even without processing, could fit on a soccer field,� he explained. The statistics look more frightening. According to Rosatom, there are already more than 200,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel in storage, 16,000 of them in Russia. More than 90 percent of the spent fuel can be processed and reintroduced into the nuclear fuel cycle, and only about 5 percent of it is waste that should be sealed up and buried.

Now the largest nuclear countries are developing national spent fuel storage facilities, and those countries that have less developed atomic energy or that do not have all the elements of the technical cycle (no uranium fields or nuclear fuel production, for instance) can pay other countries for their technical needs and avoid many problems. The price for processing and storing ranges from $1000-2000 per kilogram of spent fuel. �Now we are talking about five to seven countries processing and utilizing the waste from atomic energy,� Rumyantsev said. One of those countries is Russia, which is lobbying for the establishment of an international center for handling spent nuclear fuel at the Chemicals and Mining Combine in Krasnoyarsk Territory.

Rumyantsev has support from deputy general director of the International Atomic Energy Agency Yury Sokolov, who stated that �it is not very effective to solve problems with spent nuclear fuel in the framework of national programs,� referring to the fact that free access to nuclear materials has the potential risk of the spread of nuclear arms and may be a temptation for terrorists. Nigeria, Morocco, Algeria, Vietnam and Turkey plan to develop atomic energy programs in the next ten years. They are expected to have generating power within the next 15-20 years.

Experts at the International Atomic Energy Agency also support the foundation of an international center, which would be under that agency's control. Russia presented several reports at the recent conference with proposals for the establishment of the center outside Krasnoyarsk. The All-Russia Scientific Research Institute for Industrial and Energy Technology (ARSRIIET) has even done preliminary calculations for the project. Igor Rybalchenko, scientific director of the ARSRIIET, stated that equipping the center at the above-mentioned combine outside Krasnoyarsk would cost between $3 billion and $4.7 billion, depending on its capacity. However, the main players on the spent nuclear fuel market oppose Russia's debut there. England and France have sufficient processing capacity of their own and the U.S. controls 80 percent of the market at present.

Discussion at the conference showed that support for the Russian proposals was limited. Neil Chapman of the Arius Association said that there are four countries in Europe �France (which is the world's leader in spent fuel processing), Germany, Sweden and Finland � that hold strictly to national principles of spent fuel processing. England and Spain have yet to define their strategies. Fourteen countries in the European Union are in favor of an international approach to the problem. Don MacKnilis of the University of South Carolina was openly skeptical of Russia's proposal. �That storage facility is now being used for internal Russian needs. To rebuild it for international use, legislative and organizational changes are needed,� he said.

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France Blocking Russia�s Entry to Spent Nuclear Fuel Market � Rosatom Head
(for personal use only)

Russia admitted difficulties with its plans for reprocessing spent nuclear fuel, in the face of competition from France and opposition by the U.S., AFX reported.

Alexander Rumyantsev, head of the Russian atomic energy agency Rosatom, acknowledged that since Moscow adopted a June 2001 law permitting it to import nuclear waste �we have not imported a single gramme of spent nuclear fuel produced abroad�.

His comments do not include fuel from power stations built by the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe.

�France does not let new players enter the market,� he told reporters.

�And the Americans who criticize us over Iran do not accept the importation to Russia of (spent nuclear) fuel which is under their control in different countries,� he added.

Russia was not yet able to reprocess large amounts of fuel, he said, adding: �Our industry can only reprocess some hundreds of tonnes of fuel a year. But Russia can develop its industry.�

Russia continues to import spent nuclear fuel from Romania, Bulgaria and Serbia under Soviet-era contracts.

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Non-Nuclear Countries Offered Benefits of Nuclear Power, But Not the Technology
Tatyana Sinitsyna
RIA Novosti
(for personal use only)

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has taken another significant step on the road toward non-proliferation of sensitive nuclear technologies and chosen Moscow as a venue for the International Conference on Multilateral Technical and Organizational Approaches to the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Aimed at Strengthening the Non-Proliferation Regime, hosted by the Federal Agency for Nuclear Power on July 14-15. The 227 participants from 22 countries continued discussions on how best to dispose of nuclear waste.

"The Moscow conference is only the beginning of the road, and the main thing is that there is light at the end of the tunnel and that we start moving towards meeting a noble goal," IAEA deputy director Yuri Sokolov said.

The aim was to summarize the results of discussions lasting more than a year of IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei's proposal to create an international procedure for the group of states that have the technology to produce and use nuclear fuel, as well as experience in building nuclear power plants, to guarantee fuel supplies (and processing and storage) to states developing nuclear power, FANP head Alexander Rumyantsev said.

"So these countries are offered the benefits of nuclear power engineering in pure form," he added.

Russia has experience of many years of guaranteed supplies of nuclear fuel and fuel returns for storage and processing. Research nuclear reactors built in 17 countries - including former Soviet states, former socialist countries in Eastern Europe and the Far East, plus Libya and Egypt - were designed in the Soviet Union. ElBaradei's proposal will allow Russia to retain its competitive edge on the nuclear-fuel market. According to Sokolov, "The IAEA regards Russia's experience in this sphere as valuable and important."

It is hard to imagine that 1.6 billion people still have no access to electricity. For example, Ghana consumes a mere 80 watts per head a year - roughly the power of an electric lamp in a Russian house. Development forces humankind to seek reliable sources of energy, but thus far nuclear power has no serious rivals. "Clean" renewable sources (solar power, wind power, tidal power, etc.) cannot compare with the power of a fissionable atomic nucleus.

Countries pursuing a nuclear-power program today include Nigeria, Morocco, Algeria, Indonesia, Vietnam, Turkey, and Poland.

"Solving the problem of waste for small states with limited nuclear power capabilities is not very effective on a national scale," Rumyantsev said. "For the industry to pay its way, a country should have 8-10 nuclear reactors of 1,000 megawatts each. Iran has been given calculations proving this. And the servicing of the entire cycle is not a heavy burden on a country's economy."

The main problem is creating security mechanisms. One of the key problems at the Moscow conference was how to ensure effective and inexpensive access to peaceful uses of nuclear power, while making it impossible to develop a military nuclear capability. In a nuclear reactor fuel rods are irradiated, uranium decays and plutonium is accumulated. The result could well be a nuclear bomb. Many countries today may develop uranium enrichment technologies, and they could bypass international export control regulations and launch a nuclear program. Thus, a mechanism is sought to restrain the spread of nuclear technologies.

Curiously, Greenpeace representatives declared that a "secret purpose" of the conference was to establish an international storage centre for nuclear waste in Krasnoyarsk Territory (Siberia). Russia does not hide the fact that it is going to take part in a tender for a right to build a nuclear waste storage, and that the mining plant in the town of Zheleznogorsk is considered as a potential site. FANP experts consider that tens of thousands of tons of irradiated fuel from around the world can be stored in Krasnoyarsk Territory. In 2001, the State Duma even passed a law to create the legal conditions. Russia's budget will gain about $1 million for every ton of stored nuclear waste, while Zheleznogorsk will be paid good sums to deal with environmental problems (up to 25% of the profit).

"The Moscow conference does not set itself the goal of deciding where exactly the storages will be located and what countries will monopolize the delivery of nuclear waste. The answers will be determined by the political will of states and an IAEA decision," Rumyantsev said. He stressed that, for a public concerned about radiation problems, it is important to know the amount of nuclear waste that has been accumulated in the world during the 50-year history of nuclear power.

"It is not very big, and could easily be housed in a four-storey three-entrance underground building. It only has to be done reasonably."

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I.  Nuclear Safety

Alarm Over Radioactive Waste Site
Julian Evans
The Moscow Times
(for personal use only)

Russia is seeking approval to build the first international storage facility for nuclear waste. The plan has aroused strong opposition from Russian environmentalists.

Aleksandr Rumyantsev, head of the Russian Federal Nuclear Power Agency (Rosatom), says that it makes sense to store waste in one large site rather than many small ones, which are more vulnerable to terrorist attack.

He presented the plan at a conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which the Russian Government is hosting in Moscow this week. �It is a good idea to have the facility in Russia, partly because of our space, and partly because we are the only country whose law allows it to import nuclear waste,� he said.

Since 2001 the import and storage of nuclear waste from other countries has been permitted, though only temporarily. Russia imports small amounts of waste from former Eastern bloc countries such as Hungary.

The Government says that the Zelenogorsk nuclear storage facility near Krasnoyarsk is the most likely site for the dump. It could store 8,000 tonnes more nuclear waste than it is storing now, Mr Rum- yantsev said. The Government could also use the Mayak facility near Chelyabinsk, which environmentalists claim is the most radioactive place on Earth after a nuclear disaster there in 1956.

According to the Kremlin, its plan has the support of Mohammed ElBaradei, head of the IAEA, though the agency declined to comment. An ambassador who works with the agency in Vienna said: �The idea is quite popular with the IAEA. It is a question of whether the Russian people would accept it.�

On Wednesday, Greenpeace Russia held noisy demonstrations outside the conference to protest against the plan. Vladimir Chuprov, head of its anti-nuclear campaign, said: �About 95 per cent of the population is against the plan.�

Mr Rumyantsev said: �Of course, people�s attitudes are negative. They think it is dangerous because of former crises like Chernobyl. Also, the media hype up opposition from organisations like Greenpeace.�

However, the Government�s strong approval ratings and control of television news mean it is likely to be able to secure national support for its proposal. It managed to pass the law allowing imports of nuclear waste despite a petition against it signed by almost three million Russians.

Igor Kudrik, director of Bel- lona, an environmental campaign group based in Oslo, said that the plan to build one large, high-security storage facility for international nuclear waste made sense. But he added: �Russia is not a good place for it. They have problems taking care of their own waste, let alone (that of) other countries.�

Russia and other former Soviet republics have been affected by several serious nuclear accidents, including the Chernobyl disaster of 1986, in Ukraine.

The US provides financial assistance to Russia to help it to process its nuclear waste and import waste from former Eastern bloc countries. America also provides Rosatom with about 40 per cent of its annual revenues, through a long-term contract to provide the US with uranium that Russia signed in 1993. However, that contract will run out in 2013.

The Russian Government estimated that the facility would cost more than �11 billion to set up and manage, and that it would make Rosatom about �4 billion in profits. Greenpeace and Bellona claim that the estimate of the costs of importing, storing and protecting the waste is too low and that the project could cost Russian taxpayers large amounts.

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IAEA Conference in Moscow Causes Anxiety Among Environmentalists
Rashid Alimov and Vera Ponomareva
Bellona Foundation
(for personal use only)

The International Conference on "Multilateral Technical and Organizational Approaches to the Nuclear Fuel Cycle aimed at Strengthening the Non-Proliferation Regime" takes place in Moscow, July 13�15. The conference is organized by the IAEA and Russian Federal Agency for nuclear energy, Rosatom.

Over 200 representatives of Russian and foreign organizations and companies involved in the nuclear fuel cycle, regulatory bodies and scientists take part in the conference.

Vladimir Chuprov, an expert from the Greenpeace, is confident that the widely formulated topic actually signifies another discussion on the construction of an international nuclear waste repository in Russia.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of the UN supports the construction of the world's first nuclear-waste storage facility in Russia. This, in IAEA's opinion, will prevent dangerous materials from falling into the hands of terrorists. This was first claimed by IAEA director general Mohamed ElBaradei in Moscow in June 2004.

"But all the Rosatom's policy shows that nonproliferation idea doesn't play a key role in decision making," according to Greenpeace.

The building of a nuclear powerplant in Iran and the planned construction of the floating nuclear power plants, which burn weapon-grade uranium, so as to lend them to the South-East Asia, are typical examples of the lack of adherence to non-proliferation policy.

Another reason to argue against such projects is the multiple preexisting unsolved problems in the Russian nuclear industry. The list of these problems was recently published in Bellona�s report "The Russian nuclear industry: the Need for Reform."

"In recent years, and in the future, the Russian nuclear industry together with the IAEA will do their best to convince the people of Russia of the necessity of such a waste repository," claims Greenpeace. In Chuprov's opinion, the current conference is one of many steps taken by the IAEA and Rosatom to pave the way for the creation of the international repository in Russia.

One year ago, the head of Rosatom, Alexander Rumyantsev, revealed plans to organize an international conference to discuss two variants for contruction for the waste repository. He made this statement after meeting with El-Baradei. He didn't comment, however, on what the two variants were, and when the conference would take place.
Bellona Web failed to reach Rosatom's press-service on the phone before the conference, though we've managed to accredit our correspondent at a press-briefing before the event. Access to the conference is restricted, and Greenpeace was barred from entry on the grounds that the conference is being held only for specialists.

In the morning of July, 13 activists of Greenpeace met participants of the conference with a poster "Chernobyl - repository No 1. Russia - repository No 2?" One activist climbed the statue of Hermes near the Moscow World Trade Center. The mountain-climber hung a poster "Here they sell the future" on the leg of the god. He also applied a radiation symbol to a glass ball at the pedestal of the figure. Two activists were detained.

Unsolved Problems

The recent Bellona report "Russian Nuclear Industry: the Need for Reform" critisizes Rosatom for lobbying in favour of nuclear waste import into the country. As for the international cooperation, the authors stress the lack of coordination and audit, which makes it possible to spend international money without any control.

Besides, funds invested into the nuclear safety projects actually often support the dangerous and unprofitable structure of Russian nuclear industry instead of stimulating any reforms. Such programs as the HEU-LEU programme�which is based on a business to business agreement between the US and Russia�s nuclear fuel manufacturers�allows Russia to maintain the Soviet-era status quo of its nuclear industry to the tune of $500m a year and offers no impetus for Moscow to re-assess the current structure of its nuclear industry.

"They are perfectly satisfied to take nuclear waste to Russia and its huge expenses, create more radioactive hazards for the environment and human life for a little money," commented on the IAEA initiatives Alexander Nikitin, Chairman of the Environmental Rights Center Bellona, or ERC, Bellona�s St. Petersburg Branch, in 2004, when the initiatives just had been unmasked.

"I have always thought this was a terrible idea, but I am more worried now than before because it is being discussed at such high levels."

Bellona physicist and International Programme Director Nils B�hmer said, "The income for a potential future repository will� if it doesn�t end up in some secret account in Switzerland�will be used to strengthen the power of the successors of Minatom."

He said the project itself will lead to further political and nuclear challenges in Russia and said that "the IAEA involvement in this project is a blow for the growing democratic movement in Russia, and will undermine this development�the people of Russia have very clearly said 'no' to any international repositories in Russia."

Spent fuels and nuclear waste imports

Currently, there is no country in the world legally allowing imports of spent fuel and nuclear waste for storage. Only imports of spent fuel for reprocessing are possible in several countries, provided that all the nuclear waste generated during the reprocessing is returned to the country of the spent fuel origin in a given short period of time.

In 2001, several amendments to environmental legislation were adopted in Russia, regardless of public opinion: it was allowed to import spent nuclear fuel for temporary technological storage and for dumping of the nuclear waste, generated during the reprocessing. And even the 'temporary storage' may actually become eternal, as the terms were never exactly stated.

But not until 2004, did Rosatom begin speaking in favor of not only spent fuel imports for reprocessing "to extract valuable materials," but of importing nuclear waste for dumping in Russia.

According to the ROMIR polling agency survey of November 2000, 93.5 per cents of Russian citizens negatively react to the plans to import radioactive materials to Russia from other countries for storage, reprocessing, or dumping.

In June 2004, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov, speaking alongside ElBaradei at a conference, said Moscow fully supported the IAEA proposal. "Russia is the only country in the world where legislation allows that," he said.

Rosatom hopes to get large-scaled international funds for the construction of such a repository, its maintenance, and waste isolation process.

Not a single country but Russia itself supports so intently the creation of an international nuclear repository in the Russian territory. And in the opinion of Vladimir Slivyak of the Ecodefence! environmental group, that would postpone any such plans, in spite of persistent lobbying and advertising.

"Currently there is no international initiative supporting such plans," says Slivyak.

"Waste storage is a serious problem, but no so pressing globally yet, to demand an urgent solution, like creation of international repositories in certain countries."

According to Chuprov, it would be possible to understand what stage the project has reached from the decisions of international institutions such as the 2006 G8 summit in St Petersburg.

"If this question [building of a nuclear repository] would be at the summit agenda, it would mean, all the undercover negotiations hit the target."

The lack of conception

Today, just before the beginning of the IAEA conference, Yury Chernogorov, the former chief technologist of a special group of the Murmansk Shipping Company, sent a letter to the minister of industry and energy Victor Khristenko, the minister of transportation Igor Levitin, and the president of the Kurchatov Institute Yevgeny Velikhov.

"Before discussing the idea of international repository it is necessary to solve the problem � and make decisions on building Russian repositories for the Russian nuclear waste," he says.

Recently, Chernogorov, as an invited expert, contributed to Bellona Web an analysis of various approaches to the dismantlement of the Lepse nuclear storage vessel, which stores tons of spent nuclear fuel from the Russian icebreakers on board. The document is published on the Bellona web site.

According to Chernogorov, the current conception does not really allow dismantling of nuclear submarines, nuclear maintenance vessels and nuclear-powered surface ships.

Rosatom's conception, adopted officially in 2000, in fact legalized the postponement of the decommissioning of nuclear submarines, � while according to this conception, the reactor compartments, cut off from the submarine hulls, are not decommissioned, but placed for 70 years in an interim storage site.

"No repositories are built meanwhile, the problem is shifted to the shoulders of our great-grandsons", Chernogorov says.

In June Rosatom's web-site published an interview with Sergey Antipov, deputy head of Rosatom.

"The most urgent task for us is to launch the object [interim waste storage at the Saida Bay] in time, before the end of the year. This means we have to install the reactor compartment on the concrete basement for long-time storage. Once we have done this, we will have grounds to say that at least one nuclear submarine has been completely decommissioned," Antipov said.

"But this absolutely does not mean complete decommissioning," says Chernogorov.

"It is decommissioning of the reactor compartment that represents the main problem. And storing the waste into the repositories, building of which is not among the priorities according to the current conception".

In December 2002 Minatom�s representative Victor Akhunov explained the 70 years period in the following terms: "The fixed period is too short for the hulls to become depressurized or lose their solidity... At the same time it is enough for the natural nuclear deactivation... to the level allowing decommissioning the reactor compartments without limits for the working shifts. It will return to the national economy hundreds of tons of high-quality metal."

"In 70 years only cobalt-60 will dissociate. Nickel-59, nickel-63 and molybdenum-93 and other isotopes will not fully decay by this time. Of course, it will be impossible to melt this metal," says Chernogorov.

"Even if some clear metal can be found there, the work of dosimetrists, as well as the work of other operations, will make it ten times more expensive than the normal market price for such metal".

The more so, the Rosatom conception, � stipulating submarine decommissioning� does not provide for decommissioning of nuclear maintenance vessels and nuclear-powered surface ships, while they are similar objects and would be dealt with at the same shipyards by the same personnel anyway.

"Another weak point of the conception is the possibility of the sinking of the reactor compartments while towing them from the shipyard no. 49 in Kamchatka, where they are cut off the submarines hulls, to the Zvezda plant, where they would be prepared for a long-term storage. The distance between the shipyard no.49 and Zvezda is 2 300 kilometers by sea," writes Chernogorov in his letter to the Russian ministers.

On August 30th 2003, while being towed from Gremikha a former naval base to the Nerpa plant, the K-159 nuclear submarine sank, taking away the lives of nine transportation-crew members. The distance between Gremikha and Nerpa is about 300 kilometers. For the moment K-159 is still on the bottom of the Barents sea with 800 kilograms of spent nuclear fuel in its reactors. The lifting operation has yet to be negotiated between the Russian governmental bodies and the Mammoet company, which lifted the Kursk submarine in 2001, sunken during maneuvers in 2002, killing all the 118 members of the crew.

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J.  Official Statements

Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexander Alexeyev Meets with ROK Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Song Min-soon
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
(for personal use only)

Consultations took place on July 18 between Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Alexander Alexeyev and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Republic of Korea Song Min-soon.

In the course of the conversation an exchange of views on the issue of resolving the nuclear problem of the Korean Peninsula took place. Alexeyev and Song Min-soon, who are the heads, respectively, of the Russian and South Korean delegations at six-party talks, welcomed the agreement reached to resume the negotiating process in Beijing, pointing out that this has resulted from the active purposeful work of all its participants.

The Russian side gave a positive assessment of the contacts resumed recently at various levels between the representatives of the DPRK and the Republic of Korea, contributing to the achievement of reconciliation and the deepening of cooperation between the two Korean states. It was stressed that the real progress in the inter-Korean dialogue unquestionably creates a favorable atmosphere around the six-party talks and leads to an improvement of the situation on the Korean Peninsula as a whole.

The Korean side gave detailed explanations concerning Seoul's initiative to render large-scale energy assistance to the DPRK.

The sides expressed satisfaction with the level and content of their engagement in the matter of resolving the nuclear problem of the Korean Peninsula and agreed to continue the joint work in this sector.

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K.  Links of Interest

Jane's Terrorism and Insurgency Centre
(for personal use only)

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