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Nuclear News - 7/29/2005
RANSAC Nuclear News, July 29, 2005
Compiled By: Jeffrey Read

A.  Chemical Weapons Destruction
    1. New Disposal Facilities Key To Russian Disarmament Plans, Interfax (7/27/2005)
    2. Russia: Commission Requests More Money For Chemical Disarmament, ITAR-TASS (7/27/2005)
    3. Outdated Chemical Weapons Found at Storage Facilities Across Russia, MosNews (7/26/2005)
B.  Plutonium Disposition
    1. New Mexico Senator Shepherds Plan for Russian Nuke Material, Andy Lenderman, The Santa Fe New Mexican (7/28/2005)
C.  Submarine Dismantlement
    1. Russian Nuclear Sub Brought To Shipyard For Scrapping, ITAR-TASS (7/26/2005)
D.  Russia-North Korea
    1. Russia Says Korean Peninsula Nuclear Issue Unlikely to be Solved Shortly, Xinhua News Agency (7/29/2005)
    2. Lavrov Believes Current Round of 6-Way Talks Not to be Last, ITAR-TASS (7/28/2005)
    3. Russian Diplomat: No Nukes Yet in N. Korea, United Press International (7/28/2005)
    4. Russia Proposes Restoring Working Groups at Six-Nation Talks on Korean Nuclear Problem, RIA Novosti (7/27/2005)
    5. Russia Seeks Joint Agreement on North Korean Denuclearization, Alexei Efremov, RIA Novosti (7/26/2005)
E.  Nuclear Forces
    1. New Nuclear Submarine to Equip Russian Fleet in Far East, Xinhua News Agency (7/29/2005)
    2. Russia to Scrap Rusting Arsenal, Lyuba Pronina , ITAR-TASS (7/29/2005)
F.  Nuclear Industry
    1. Russia, China To Start Building Floating Nuclear Plant, RIA Novosti (7/28/2005)
G.  Nuclear Safety
    1. Emergency Drills at Nuclear Facility in Murmansk, Bellona Foundation (7/27/2005)
    2. Ongoing Challenges of Nuke Waste Disposal, Andrea R. Mihailescu, United Press International (7/27/2005)
H.  Official Statements
    1. Statement by the Head of the Russian Delegation at the Six-Party Talks, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexander Alexeyev, Beijing, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation (7/27/2005)
    2. Remarks by Russian Delegation Head and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexander Alexeyev at the Opening of the Fourth Round of Six-Party Talks, Beijing, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation (7/26/2005)
    3. Russian Atomic Energy Chief Sees Spent Fuel Imports As Key to Nuclear Security, RedNova News (7/26/2005)

A.  Chemical Weapons Destruction

New Disposal Facilities Key To Russian Disarmament Plans
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Russia will be able to dispose of 8,000 tonnes of chemical warfare agents, or 20% of its chemical weapons stockpiles, by April 29, 2007, if disposal facilities in the republic of Udmurtia and the Kirov region begin operating as planned, State Duma deputy and member of the State Commission for Chemical Disarmament Nikolai Bezborodov told Interfax.

"Ninety percent of the Kambarka facility and 65% of the Maradykovsky facility have already been built. The first facility is expected to start operation on December 31, 2005, and the second, one on March 31, 2006. If the facilities begin operating as planned, it will be possible to destroy 3,168 tonnes of chemical warfare agents in Kambarka and 4,000 tonnes in Maradykovsky," Bezborodov said.

The Gorny facility in the Saratov region is expected to dispose of 9,000 tonnes of chemical arms by April 29, 2007, he said.

"There is no full certainty that the aforementioned facilities will begin operation according to schedule, particularly the Maradykovsky facility," he said.

"This plant is short of 1.3 billion rubles today. In general, an additional 2.5 billion rubles need to be invested in the chemical weapons disposal program to launch the facilities in Kambarka and Maradykovsky and begin construction of similar plants in the villages of Leonidovka (the Penza region) and Pochep (the Bryansk region) and the main facility in the town of Shchuchye (the Kurgan region)," Bezborodov said.

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Russia: Commission Requests More Money For Chemical Disarmament
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The governmental commission on chemical disarmament met in the town of Kambarka, Udrmurtia, on Wednesday.

Its members said it would take about 1.6 billion roubles to finish the construction of facilities for the destruction of chemical weapons in the settlement of Maradykovo, Kirov region, and in Kamrabka [Kambarka].

The commission decided to request the sum from the federal government. Commission secretary Alexander Kharichev told Itar-Tass that the facility in Kambarka, where 6,400 tonnes of lewisite is stored, is 90 percent ready, and the facility in Maradykovo (where 6,936 tonnes of a mixture of highly dangerous substances in 40,922 aerial bombs are kept) is about 65 percent completed.

"The commission instructed the Federal Agency for Industry to ensure the completion of building and assembly work in Kambarka by November 1, and in Maradykovo by December 31," Kharichev said.

He also stressed that the destruction of chemical weapons might begin in Maradykovo from March 2006.

"The commission instructed the Federal Agency for Industry to draft a government resolution on benefits and compensation to people who live in these areas," Kharichev said.

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Outdated Chemical Weapons Found at Storage Facilities Across Russia
(for personal use only)

About 33,000 rounds of ammunition beyond their safe storage life have been found at Russian chemical weapons storage facilities.

�Checks have revealed 11,810 aviation and over 21,000 artillery munitions are beyond their safe storage life,� a source in the Federal Industrial Agency in charge of the destruction of chemical weapons was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying.

�The guarantee terms of storage for all the munitions have expired, and the terms of their safe keeping are also expiring,� the source said. He added that under a schedule, unsafe munitions are being destroyed at the storage facilities for safety reasons.

For instance, 23 faulty rocket warheads loaded with sarin have been destroyed in the village of Kizner in the internal republic of Udmurtia, 10 similar munitions were destroyed in the town of Shchuchye in the Kurgan region and 16 faulty aviation bombs (VX) in the village of Maradykovskiy, in the Kirov region.

According to the Federal Industrial Agency, Russia has 4,351,700 chemical munitions, including 4,158,200 munitions for artillery, rocket systems and missile warheads, and 193,500 aviation munitions. They were all manufactured between 1953 and 1987.

Earlier, Russia�s commission for chemical disarmament reported that the storage life of chemical weapons at chemical storage facilities in Russia were extended until 2006. �Recently, the technical condition of 83,100 aviation and 2,001,100 artillery chemical munitions was checked. Documents have been issued which extend the arsenal�s storage life until 2006 inclusively,� a source in the commission was quoted by Interfax as saying.

Last week, the Russian government approved a draft program to eliminate the country�s chemical weapons by 2012. Russia plans to destroy 20 percent of its chemical weapons in 2007 and another 45 percent in 2009. The disarmament will be completed in 2012.

Russia has so far built one chemical dismantling plant in the Saratov region in Central Russia. Six other plants will be commissioned in 2005-2009. Russia pledged to eliminate its large stockpile of chemical weapons within 10 years in 1997 with the signing of the Chemical Weapons Convention, but was later allowed to extend the deadline by five years due to funding difficulties.

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B.  Plutonium Disposition

New Mexico Senator Shepherds Plan for Russian Nuke Material
Andy Lenderman
The Santa Fe New Mexican
(for personal use only)

New Mexico's senior senator is hopeful the Russian government will soon formally approve a plan to convert 34 metric tons of its own nuclear-weapons material into fuel for nuclear reactors.

U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., told the Senate earlier this month that President Bush's administration and Russian officials have agreed on liability concerns that had stalled the initiative, which aims to create mixed-oxide fuel that can be burned in nuclear reactors. The final plan has yet to be approved by the Russian Duma, or parliament.

"As we see the world become more and more dangerous," Domenici told the Senate, "it is critical that we make progress on reprocessing plutonium into (mixed-oxide fuel). Black marketers and terrorists would love to get their hands on this plutonium. President Bush has worked hard to engage (Russian) President (Vladimir) Putin on this issue, and as a result of that continuing dialogue, there is now an agreement to implement a (mixed-oxide fuel) program."

Robert Kuckuck, director of Los Alamos National Laboratory, said in a news release the initiative is "the largest nonproliferation project in history."

However, at least one citizen watchdog says the project is costly and offers no additional nuclear security.

The plan calls for each country to build a mixedoxide-fabrication facility and to eventually process 34 metric tons of excess plutonium, respectively, Domenici told the Senate.

Sixty-eight metric tons of plutonium is enough to supply 8,000 nuclear weapons, according to Domenici's office.

The initiative has been stalled since July 2003, when a liability agreement that protected U.S. workers on duty in Russia expired. A new agreement that protects workers was agreed upon July 19 of this year.

Now, Domenici said, the agreement must go to Putin, be signed by American and Russian diplomats and finally ratified by the Duma.

Once the document is signed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Domenici said, the federal Department of Energy will move forward with plans for a mixedoxide-fuel-fabrication facility in Savannah River, S.C. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2006. The cost of each facility is estimated at $1 billion, Domenici staffer Scott O'Malia said.

Domenici also pressured House and Senate members to fund the program, which he said had been cut by the House and Senate armed-services committees.

So far, the governments of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Italy and France have pledged $860 million to help finance the Russian facility, Domenici said.

A spokesman for the watchdog Los Alamos Study Group, Greg Mello, took issue with the project.

"It's not a good way to get rid of bomb material," Mello said. "That's just a public relations ploy."

Mello said weapons material is expensive to convert into fuel and unsafe to use in reactors.

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C.  Submarine Dismantlement

Russian Nuclear Sub Brought To Shipyard For Scrapping
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A nuclear submarine of the Tayfun class of large Russian submarines has been brought to Severodvinsk from a base on the Kola Peninsula for recycling . ITAR-TASS learned this at the Sevmash defense shipyard today.

The nuclear sub 713 will be recycled at the Sevmash within "Cooperative Threat Reduction" Russian-US program. This year Sevmash completed scrapping of the first Tayfun - 712 - with US financial support.

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D.  Russia-North Korea

Russia Says Korean Peninsula Nuclear Issue Unlikely to be Solved Shortly
Xinhua News Agency
(for personal use only)

Russian delegation head Alexander Alexeyev said on July 28 the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue is unlikely to be solved within a short period of time as it has been an issue for years.

"The problems have accumulated over the years, no matter how wishful you are or how serious the problem is, it could not be solved within three or five days," Alexeyev told a press briefing on the six-party talks under way.

The delegations of the United States and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) held three-hour one-on-one consultations on Thursday morning and agreed to continue consultations.

Describing the U.S.-DPRK consultations as difficult, Alexeyev said "it is the first time for both sides to speak so deeply," adding that "they are tough, but they could be more flexible."

According to Alexeyev, the fourth round of six-party talks is not the final round.

Alexeyev, also Russian deputy foreign minister, said he would leave Beijing for Moscow on Saturday. But he added that his deputy would remain in Beijing and he would come back "as soon as it's necessary to come back,"

Some members of the other delegations will also return home to consult with their respective governments, he said.

The fourth round of the six-party talks, involving China, the DPRK, the United States, the Republic of Korea (ROK), Russia and Japan, began on Tuesday in the Chinese capital.

A major task for Russia and other parties is to push forward the process of the six-party talks, and to work together with the United States and DPRK to find "reasonable and fair" solutions to the nuclear issue, Alexeyev said.

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Lavrov Believes Current Round of 6-Way Talks Not to be Last
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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov believes the current fourth round of the six-sided talks on the North Korean nuclear problem will not be able to solve all the problems and the round will not be the last.

Lavrov expressed this view after talks with his South Korean colleague Ban Ki Moon on Thursday. The ministers are taking part in a session of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in the Laotian capital.

�In our common view, the talks are proceeding rather well. However, there are questions that are still unsettled, not solved from the point of view of the tasks this round is facing,� Lavrov said.

�The current round of the talks in Beijing will certainly be not the last,� Lavrov noted. �However, we are watching with cautious optimism the development of the discussion in Beijing - both in the six-sided format, between America and North Korea and between North Korea and Japan,� the Russian foreign minister said.

The Russian and American delegations are meeting on Thursday within the framework of the six-sided talks in the Chinese capital. This meeting was preceded by a conversation between the U.S. and North Korean officials on which the result of the current round largely depends.

Head of the Russian delegation, Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Alexeyev said on Wednesday, �We shall continue work towards bringing the stances of the U.S. and North Korean representatives closer together.�

The Chinese side is expected on Thursday to announce the draft final document. According to informed sources, the North Korean delegation has already confirmed it is �not against� the adoption of this document that will contain the �coordinated general principles� of the North Korean nuclear problem solution.

According to Alexeyev, the Russian side is �for providing security guarantees to Pyongyang.� �We believe the issue of providing security guarantees to North Korea is an important part of the nuclear problem solution,� Alexeyev said. He added, �We are ready to participate in providing such guarantees both on a bilateral and multilateral basis.�

Russia is participating in the talks in Beijing with the two Koreas, China, the United States and Japan.

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Russian Diplomat: No Nukes Yet in N. Korea
United Press International
(for personal use only)

A Russian diplomat involved in the six-party talks says North Korea has no nuclear weapons ready for use.

Interfax news agency describes the diplomat as a source close to the negotiations over North Korea's nuclear plans.

The diplomat said the North Korean government now describes the country as a nuclear power because they have the technical capability to manufacture nuclear weapons. That took several decades because the country had difficulty developing the capacity to manufacture detonators.

Interfax said its source does not believe that North Korea will spend money on a nuclear arsenal as long as its leaders expect a good outcome from the six-party talks with the United States, Japan, China, Russia and South Korea.

"North Korea will have to develop a nuclear arsenal for self-defense if the United States and its allies do not provide safety guarantees to Pyongyang or if they make unacceptable demands on it," the diplomat said.

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Russia Proposes Restoring Working Groups at Six-Nation Talks on Korean Nuclear Problem
RIA Novosti
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Russia is proposing making the six-nation talks on the North Korean nuclear problem more frequent and resuming activities of working groups designed to smooth contradictions between the parties, said Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Alekseyev, who is heading the talks' Russian delegation.

"This proposal implies that there are no big breaks between the rounds," he said. "If we agree upon the main principles and package solutions of a Korean peninsula nuclear-free status, we need a group of experts to tackle technical issues following political decisions."

He also said delegates might discuss the dismantling of North Korean nuclear facilities and compensating Pyongyang's economic losses in order to improve relations with the Unites States.

"We are proposing that this group of experts should gather as soon as possible," for instance, in mid-September, Alekseyev said.

The six-nation talks involving Russia, North Korea, South Korea, the United States, China and Japan were launched in August 2003.

Three rounds of the six-nation talks were held to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear program.

The fourth round scheduled for late September 2004 was postponed when North Korean negotiators refused to participate, citing what they described as a hostile climate created by the U.S. North Korea demanded clarity on South Korea's uranium and plutonium experiments, conducted since 1982.

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Russia Seeks Joint Agreement on North Korean Denuclearization
Alexei Efremov
RIA Novosti
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Russia hopes to adopt a joint agreement on the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula as a result of the fourth round of six-party talks, Alexander Alexeyev, deputy Russian foreign minister and head of the Russian delegation, said in Beijing Tuesday at the opening of talks.

Alexeyev said the agreement should reflect the positions of all the negotiating parties, including Russia.

He also said Russia's position was definitely clear. "We stand for a nuclear-weapons-free Korean peninsula," Alexeyev said.

The head of the Russian delegation said "the negotiations should be based on respect and equality" as well as mutual concessions and compromise.

Russia welcomes the intention of the various parties to solve "bilateral concerns" through bilateral talks within the six-party negotiations.

Alexeyev told RIA Novosti yesterday that the United States and North Korea have demonstrated an approach that raises optimism over the negotiation's results.

"Both the United States and North Korea have signaled that their delegations in Beijing will have a certain flexibility leading to constructive debate. This will encourage some progress during the fourth round," Alexeyev said.

The diplomat said the Russian delegation would not put forward any new initiatives during the fourth round, as the adapted principles discussed in the previous rounds of talks remain unchanged and the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula still remains the ultimate goal. It should be a step-by-step process, including the dismantling of North Korea's nuclear program along with taking into account Pyongyang's concern over its security and energy supply.

The six-party negotiations involving Russia, the United States, China, Japan, North Korea, and South Korea began in August 2003. Three rounds of talks have been held to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear program.

The fourth round, initially scheduled for September 2004, was postponed when North Korean negotiators refused to take part, citing what they described as a hostile climate created by the U.S. North Korea declared itself a nuclear power in February 2005.

A deadline for the fourth round of talks has not yet been set as the delegations have decided to work without time constraints.

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E.  Nuclear Forces

New Nuclear Submarine to Equip Russian Fleet in Far East
Xinhua News Agency
(for personal use only)

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said Thursday that Russia is to equip its Pacific fleet with a new generation of multi-functional missile nuclear submarine.

During his visit to the Kamchatka peninsula in Russia's Far East, Ivanov said that the nuclear submarine base of the Pacific fleet will be set in the Viliuchinsk city of the peninsula.

The government will invest heavily for the completion the infrastructure of the base and it will be built into one of the most modernized in one and a half year.

Ivanov also revealed that Russia's new-generation strategic nuclear submarine Iuri Dolgorygiy, which is still under construction, will be launched in 2006. The submarine will be equipped with the new-generation "Bulava" missile which can carry 10 nuclear warheads.

Another missile nuclear submarine Alexander Nevsky will be launched in 2007. After that, Russia will continue to construct other nuclear submarines, said the defense minister.

Ivanov added that Russia is ready to equip its forces in the Far East with modern weapons.

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Russia to Scrap Rusting Arsenal
Lyuba Pronina
(for personal use only)

Russia will spend $2.5 billion to dispose of weapons like the SS-18 missile.

The Cabinet on Thursday approved a six-year, $2.5 billion program to dispose of piles of strategic and conventional arms no longer used by the Russian armed forces.

The federal program drafted by the Industry and Energy Ministry was debated behind closed doors and approved on Thursday, a ministry source said.

The program will require financing of 73.15 billion rubles ($2.5 billion), according to the program documents made available to The Moscow Times. The state budget will finance 26.5 billion rubles of the program while the rest will come from other sources, including the U.S. government.

The disposal is expected to generate over 13 billion rubles ($452 million) through the sale of byproducts such as ferrous, non-ferrous and precious metals.

Kommersant reported Thursday that the disposal list included 500 intercontinental ballistic missiles, 40 strategic bombers, 1,000 airplanes and helicopters, 84 nuclear submarines, 30,000 anti-aircraft and 5,000 cruise missiles, about 6,000 tanks and over 5 billion units of ammunition.

Six regional disposal centers will be created, offering jobs to 20,000 people.

Formerly under the aegis of the Defense Ministry, the disposal process will now be controlled by the Industry and Energy Ministry.

Cleaning up obsolete arsenals is a major issue facing the Russian military, but the progress has been slow, mostly due to insufficient funding.

Russia has been under increasing international pressure to dispose of rusting weapons for fear they may end up in the hands of terrorists or cause environmental damage.

"There still is a lot of unsupervised ammunition lying around, especially beyond the Urals," said Pavel Felgenhauer, a Moscow-based independent defense analyst. "Most of it is quite dangerous, too."

In 1994, the government adopted a program on ammunition disposal but it never took off due to lack of funds at the Defense Ministry, said Marat Kenzhetayev, an expert with the Center for Arms Control.

"As a result, there have been regular fires and explosions at military storage sites in the Pacific and Baltic fleets and Army storages in Vladivostok, Chelyabinsk and other places," he said.

"In the 1990s, there was no financing from the budget at all; it all came from the West," Felgenhauer said.

In 1991, the United States launched a program to assist former Soviet Union countries in controlling and protecting their nuclear weapons and delivery systems. Washington spends around $1 billion per year on the program.

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F.  Nuclear Industry

Russia, China To Start Building Floating Nuclear Plant
RIA Novosti
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Russia and China have signed an $86.5-million contract for the construction of the world's first floating nuclear power plant, Vladimir Uryvsky, deputy department head at the Federal Nuclear Energy Agency, told the newspaper Trud.

China will build the body and Russia will be responsible for the power block. The plant will look like a ten-story 140m-long and 30m-wide floating building with the displacement of 21,000 tons.

It is to be sited in Severodvinsk, in the Arkhangelsk region in Russia's European north, to supply electricity and heat to the Sevmash defense enterprise there. Its will have a 70-megawatt capacity and a maximum thermal capacity of 150 gigacalories per hour, enough for a city of 200,000. The construction is to begin next year and end in 2011.

Uryvsky said the 6-billion ruble ($208.84 million) project would be recouped in 12 years with electricity returns of 46 billion rubles and thermal energy returns of 61 billion. Accrued profits are expected to top 65 billion rubles during the plant's exploitation.

The plant will use the closed technological cycle and multiple hermetic protection. The energy block will have five independent safety barriers, more than those on a nuclear submarine or icebreaker. Even the first stationary nuclear power plants did not have such protection. The block could not even be depressurized if a plane crashed down on it, giving the design full safety guarantee, Uryvsky said.

He said the design also includes anti-terrorist measures. Divers and submersible craft will be stopped a long distance from the power block.

Such plans will be in demand in Siberia and the Far East, which are short of energy. The leaders of the nuclear energy sector and the administrations of the Chukotka autonomous area and the Kamchatka region have signed declarations of intentions on the construction of similar power plants. Canada, Indonesia, India and several other countries have expressed interest in the project.

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G.  Nuclear Safety

Emergency Drills at Nuclear Facility in Murmansk
Bellona Foundation
(for personal use only)

Exercises simulating an emergency situation at Atomflot nuclear maintenance facility took place yesterday in Murmansk, an Atomflot official told RIA Novosti.

The exercises simulated a situation where a container with spent nuclear fuel, loaded from a floating technical base near the shore, has been damaged. The goal of the exercises was to test the skills of the company's personnel in emergency situations and check the readiness of the system that warns residents in the Murmansk region and neighboring countries about the danger of radiation.

"The exercises are being carried out under a Russian-U.S. cooperation agreement on research of the radioactive impact on the population and environment," the source said. He also said experts from the U.S., Sweden, Norway, and relevant Russian ministries are attending the exercise as observers, RIA Novosti reported.

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Ongoing Challenges of Nuke Waste Disposal
Andrea R. Mihailescu
United Press International
(for personal use only)

As the United States, Russia and six other states look to construct international storage sites for spent nuclear fuel, risks still surround storage facilities.

"Electricity production at nuclear power plants will be up 100 to 200 percent by the middle of the century," according to estimates from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog.

Nuclear power plants will emerge in Nigeria, Morocco, Vietnam, Turkey, Poland as well as a number of other countries in the next 15 to 20 years.

But properly storing nuclear waste continues to be a challenge. Exelon Chief Executive Officer John Rowe said the United States is unlikely to construct new reactors until the industry has greater security about storage. His firm provided some 15 percent of U.S. nuclear energy.

The greater the amount of fuel at a site, greater is the risk of an accident.

"For all plants, that risk really doesn't change," David Lochbaum, nuclear safety engineer with the Union of Concern Scientists, a private nonprofit watchdog group, told North Carolina's News & Observer. "You have to store the spent fuel in the pool for the first five years. The consequences, however, are determined by how much spent fuel is in the pool. The more spent fuel, the greater the consequences will be."

Wet pool storage is higher risk than dry cask storage since radioactive fire poses greater risks to a spent fuel pool. Fire causes the container for the fuel to break and release radioactivity. "The fire propels that radioactivity far and wide and puts more people in harm's way," said Lochbaum. "The chances of a spent fuel accident are low, but the consequences are high."

While a wet pool has a capacity to hold hundreds and in some cases thousands of tons of spent fuel, dry cask hold some 20 tons. If an accident or act of terrorism hits a dry cask, the size of a radioactive cloud coming from a cask is much smaller than that coming from a spent fuel pool.

Because equipment is necessary to prevent overheating at a spent fuel pool, it is more likely to have a spent fuel problem than a dry cask accident. Risk is greater when plant owners do not keep spent fuel pools to the minimum level.

Lochbaum recommends transferring fuel that came out of a reactor more than five years ago into dry casks, which would reduce the spent fuel risk by maintaining minimum levels.

As the House-Senate conference committee negotiates an energy bill that includes several proposals to increase nuclear power plant construction, the lack of proper nuclear waste storage still remains, raising questions about nuclear security. Congress has been planning to store the country's nuclear waste in the Yucca Mountain in Nevada since the 1970s. One interim suggestion raised was to construct a series of dry casket storage facilities that would keep waste safe for some 100 years. But such temporary sites could be unpopular in communities where they would be located.

No country really has a long-term solution to nuclear waste disposal. France is looking to store waste for about 100 years in an interim site until deciding on a long-term repository while German plans to build a geological repository but has not yet opened one.

IAEA Deputy Director Yuri Sokolov said: "Demand for nuclear power reactors and nuclear fuel supplies is the greatest China, India and Southeast Asia in general."

The IAEA warned members about proper safekeeping and recycling of fuel supplies and its repatriation for safekeeping and recycling.

"Facilities for the civilized keeping and recycling of spent nuclear fuel should be created at international nuclear centers in the United States, Finland, Russia and some other countries where such technologies have been created and are at the highest level," said Sokolov.

Russian Atomic Energy Agency Head Alexander Rumyantsev said: "Such a center may incorporate fresh nuclear fuel storages, from where the fuel might be leaded to the user countries with newly-built nuclear power plants."

Rumyantsev argues centers could create an emergency reserve of fresh nuclear fuel in case of a suspension of commercial supplies to the countries whose nuclear power industry is in the development phase.

Under a U.S.-Russian agreement, the two sides held training exercises Tuesday to assess preparedness on unexpected potential damage to a facility with nuclear waste in the process of its transshipment from a technological platform to a ground for provisional storage. Observers from the United States, Norway and Sweden were present.

Waste will continue to be a problem. Britain uses an expensive process by repossessing its waste. The United States continues to use swimming pools to store fuel. Industry experts say the best alternative is geological storage which is a method of interring waste very deep.

After more than 50 years of nuclear power usage, the world has accumulated 200,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel of which, 70,000 tons has been processed while the rest is kept at nuclear power plants. This is fraught with possible risks if they are kept or recycled in incompetently or become available to international terrorists.

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H.  Official Statements

Statement by the Head of the Russian Delegation at the Six-Party Talks, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexander Alexeyev, Beijing
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
(for personal use only)

Esteemed Mr. Chairman,

Esteemed colleagues,

The agreement to hold this round, as well as the meetings held yesterday and on the eve of its opening between delegations bear out the correctness of the decision to restart the negotiation process and the absence of ways and means to solve the nuclear problem of the Korean Peninsula other than a patient and keen dialogue, based on its participants' good will, and their readiness for compromises. The common sense that has prevailed and the active efforts by all the parties have helped to overcome a number of dramatic moments which the "six-party format" had gone through during the past year. In this connection I would like to once again thank all the delegations, which have made their contribution to having the negotiation process resumed, and primarily the Chinese side for the hospitality and the diplomatic work done.

The Russian Federation is deeply interested in a just settlement of the nuclear problem of the Korean Peninsula, directly bordering on Russia's Far East. Therefore we consider that six-party talks should continue until a comprehensive solution has been achieved to all the issues related to ensuring a nuclear-weapons-free Korean Peninsula, gradually normalizing relations between the DPRK and the US and establishing conditions for the ongoing economic development of the DPRK and the region as a whole.

Acquaintance with the positions of our partners, which were set forth in the course of the bilateral contacts and during their statements, gives us grounds to conclude as follows: that all the participants of the six-party process share its chief objective, that of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. So, in this context, it appears completely justified, the agenda suggested by the organizers of this round.

We hold that for continued productive work and to move our talks forward we need at this round to start a serious discussion, and where possible, agree on what is to be incorporated in the concept "denuclearization," on what principles it will be carried out, and what stages the parties have yet to cover in order to achieve the ultimate objective. Our vision on that point is as follows: the denuclearization must embrace all the nuclear programs and militarily focused experiments, as well as an activity that has or might have a relationship to nuclear weapons programs, including the work on the development, manufacture and storage of nuclear devices. Undoubtedly, the process of denuclearization has to be verifiable and synchronized by states. It would be well in this connection to return to the still relevant "word for word, action for action" principle. And as the first stage of denuclearization to again consider the idea of a freeze on the DPRK nuclear program, that has to verifiable, transparent and synchronized with measures in response, presupposing a normalization of the situation around the DPRK and the rendering to it of energy and other assistance. In this connection the obligations of North and South Korea regarding denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, which they assumed in the Joint Declaration of 1992, merit the closest attention and profound analysis, in our opinion. We consider it advisable to agree that the Korean sides should hold consultations on the establishment and modalities of a verification mechanisms which will effect the appropriate monitoring of the freeze on, and a subsequent dismantling and termination on the Korean Peninsula of nuclear programs having a relationship to military activity, or uranium and plutonium experiments that might be militarily significant.

In our opinion, if we managed in principle to work out a common approach towards the questions related to the accomplishment of denuclearization and write it down in a joint final document, the idea of whose adoption we entirely support, this would constitute a real and weighty result of the work of the fourth round. As far as the details of the realization of our possible agreements are concerned, including the issues of the launching of a denuclearization mechanism, the Working Group could take this up in the future, for which we could also prescribe specific instructions in the final document.

It would also be important if we succeeded in documenting what appears to us to be the prevalent sentiments among the participants of the talks to build our relations with each other on the basis of the principles of peaceful coexistence and other universally recognized rules of international law with an eye on a full normalization of relations in the future. In our view, having a clear and distinct ultimate guideline, it is significantly easier to tackle both the multilateral problems of mutual concern and the questions of a bilateral nature.

We are convinced that all the delegations came to Beijing with a firm intention to achieve real results and outline ways of further advancing the six-party process in order to impart to it an irreversible character. In this connection we expect that all the participants will show maximum political will, flexibility and constructivism. Ideally we would like to hear from our North Korean partners a confirmation of their striving to lead matters towards a freeze on and subsequently the total dismantling of all their military nuclear programs in exchange for reciprocal steps. From the US colleagues we expect a confirmation of their readiness to build their relations with the DPRK in the spirit of coexistence and a gradual normalization of bilateral relations. We hope that the South Korean initiative to render energy assistance to the DPRK will also find its use and exert a positive influence on the course of the negotiation process. For its part the Russian delegation is ready to confirm its intention to consider the possibility of providing energy assistance to the DPRK together with the other participants of the talks under a comprehensive plan for settlement of the nuclear problem of the Korean Peninsula.

We consider that, given a shared keen disposition to achieve concrete results, the elaboration of mutual agreements is fully possible. We also believe that in the course of our further discussions we shall manage to make up our minds as to the date for the next round as well. This date has to be connected with the results of the work of the Working Group. The Working Group itself could be convened not latter than the middle of September, tasking it with an expert elaboration of necessary concrete measures at the first stage of denuclearization (meaning a freeze, verification measures, compensations, initial steps along the road of normalization of relations between the US and the DPRK, other questions). That is at the expert level there should be developed a "basket" of measures or a "roadmap" or "package agreements," where the concrete gradual measures of movement towards the ultimate objective of the six-party process will be designated. And this work has to start as soon as possible.

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Remarks by Russian Delegation Head and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexander Alexeyev at the Opening of the Fourth Round of Six-Party Talks, Beijing
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
(for personal use only)

Mr. Chairman,
Esteemed colleagues,

I would like on behalf of the Russian delegation to greet all the participants of the six-party talks and in the first place those who for the first time have joined them in this hall. I also wish to express gratitude to our Chinese colleagues and primarily Li Zhaoxing, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the PRC, for the hospitality accorded to us all. I think I won't be mistaken, if I say that the agreement to resume the six-party process has been the result of active and purposeful work by all of its participants.

We consider that diplomatic talks on the basis of respect for the sovereignty and equality of all the parties, accompanied by mutual concessions and reasonable compromises with regard to their interests and existing concerns, is the sole way to resolve the nuclear problem on the Korean Peninsula. We presume that the aims and principles of the six-party talks are utterly clear for all their participants - the ultimate objective was and remains the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. So the chief thing on which to focus in the course of plenary discussions and bilateral contacts at this round, in our opinion, is to try our very best and work out a common agreed understanding of just what the concept "denuclearization" incorporates and to outline specific ways and means to achieve it. It seems to us that a good basis for such work is the results we achieved in the course of the previous rounds and also the Joint Declaration of North and South Korea on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, of 1992.

It is important, in our opinion, that the steps being proposed by the parties should be synchronized in time and adequate in content. We also hope for the negotiating process as it moves ahead to be accompanied by a normalization of relations between its participants in the diplomatic, political, economic, humanitarian and other fields.

We consider it necessary that this round ends with the adoption of a joint document which would formulate an agreed-upon vision by the parties of the objectives and principles of the six-party talks as well as their principled approaches to achieving the Korean Peninsula's denuclearization.

As for the position of Russia, it stays unchanged and utterly clear - we are for a Korean Peninsula without nuclear weapons. The Russian delegation has come to Beijing with a firm intention to make its constructive contribution to advancing the negotiation process and finding mutually acceptable solutions in order to speedily resolve the nuclear problem of the Korean Peninsula. The so called "package solution" previously suggested by Russia has not lost its relevance, we think; many of its elements coincide with the initiatives of other participants in the talks. If necessary, when elaborating joint accords, a modification of our proposals is possible, their adaptation to the realities of the present situation. We are interested in achieving real progress at this round of talks and are ready to react positively to all the suggestions and considerations of the other delegations that really conduce to the attainment of the goals before us.

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Russian Atomic Energy Chief Sees Spent Fuel Imports As Key to Nuclear Security
RedNova News
(for personal use only)

The re-import of spent nuclear fuel is a key element in keeping nuclear technology out of the hands of terrorists, the head of the Russian Federal Agency for Atomic Energy, Aleksandr Rumyantsev, has said in an interview with Radio Russia on his 60th birthday. He gave details of measures to deal with nuclear waste in Russia and said he did not see any real alternative to nuclear power as a long-term solution to mankind's energy needs. The following is an excerpt from the interview broadcast on Radio Russia's "Persona Grata" programme on 26 July; subheadings inserted editorially:

[Presenter] Welcome to Radio Russia. My name is Vitaliy Ushkanov and this is "Persona Grata". [Passage omitted]

The head of Russia's Federal Agency for Atomic Energy, Academician Aleskandr Rumyantsev, is our guest today [on his 60th birthday]. [Passage omitted]

The situation regarding spent nuclear fuel is very well known and has inflamed passions. A law was passed in the end [about the import of spent nuclear fuel]. The press said this was done thanks to lobbying by the Atomic Energy Ministry [since transformed into a federal agency].

So we have the law, and there is no getting away from that. So you can do something that you could not do before.

Recently in Moscow there was a conference on prospects for the nuclear fuel cycle, where the trade in spent nuclear fuel was discussed. It is no secret that your department supports the creation of a centre for reprocessing and storing this kind of fuel near Krasnoyarsk. This again is arousing fears and has given rise to protests by environmentalists, who say that you want to make Russia virtually a pioneer in this dangerous business. Is this so?

Economic reasons behind need to import spent nuclear fuel

[Rumyantsev] Let's look at the issue in a slightly broader context. This law was passed exactly four years ago. If you recall what I said in the newspapers, TV and radio at that time, you will find that I was saying then what I will say now, four years later. This law is necessary for us as a legislative means to import into Russia spent nuclear fuel, so that we can improve our integration in the international community by getting into the market for supplying fresh fuel, enrichment services and undertaking construction of nuclear power plants outside Russia.

Our opponents around the world were always saying that since you do not have this legislation, you have no place on the market for creating these atomic energy capacities.

[Presenter] So they tried to keep you out of this market?

[Rumyantsev] We were criticized. And those countries which understood that if they construct something according to a Russian plan, and purchase Russian fuel, that we cannot return this fuel in the full volume, since we have no law governing this in detail, they would perhaps look at other countries supplying this heavy equipment which is uniquely complicated and involves high technology.

So over these four years, not a gram of spent fuel from nuclear reactors of foreign manufacture has been brought into Russia. At the same time, our export potential has risen by 150 per cent.

[Presenter] Just because of this law.

[Rumyantsev] That's right. A silence descended on the world market when they realized that this argument was no longer valid. There was even a fear that we could use dumping prices to take part of the spent nuclear fuel market from countries who do very well out of this. But we did not do this either.

You asked about transparency. I talk about this all the time, but no-one listens to me. At the same time, those who say that Russia has been turned into a dumping ground and has been taking waste from all over the world, their slogan has been heard just about every month in various parts of the media for the past four years.

[Presenter] So you haven't taken any. But you want to, don't you?

If exports grew, then maybe that would be sufficient and we would not need any burial sites.

Fighting the terrorist threat

[Rumyantsev] The topic of this conference was completely different. At the moment we are facing a vital question. How to counter terrorism and not to allow fissile material and nuclear technology to fall into the hands of terrorists. This is referred to in UN Resolution 1540, which was passed recently.

The whole world has united, and his still uniting, in the fight against these threats. It was to this that the conference was dedicated. It was not only dedicated to the tail-end of the nuclear fuel cycle, which the Greens immediately started making a fuss about, but it was also dedicated to the start of the fuel cycle.

That is, it is being proposed to countries that they get guaranteed use only of the benefits of atomic energy and that the countries that possess nuclear technologies will build nuclear power plants for them and put the supply of nuclear fuel under state guarantees, and take the spent fuel so that there is no problem with the development of a national fuel cycle, which is very sensitive, given the fact that terrorists could get hold of individual elements as weapons, not just a weapon of mass destruction, but as a weapon with the ability to cause mass disquiet. [Passage omitted]

[Presenter] You haven't answered. So is Russia the first country importing spent nuclear fuel?

[Rumyantsev] Russia is not spoken about. It is a question of a group of countries who could offer all those elements of the fuel cycle to those countries who have given up the idea of their own national cycle.

Russia has a legislative amendment for the import of the fuel. That's why Russia held this conference. We possess at each stage all the elements of the nuclear fuel cycle and we know how to deal with these things very well. That is why this conference under the patronage of the International Atomic Energy Agency gathered together here virtually all leading member states, which presented their reports.

In my own report I said that there are number of countries here. Some supply fresh fuel and others can close the cycles. I always cite France as an example here. France operates very well on the spent fuel market. [Passage omitted]

Waste disposal programme

[Presenter] France is against us getting involved in this, isn't it?

[Rumyantsev] They understand that we do not have the same level of technology as they have. I should say this honestly. They discharge wastewater which is fit for drinking and they do not emit anything into the atmosphere. I am envious of this, in a good way. The point is that France came to nuclear technologies significantly later than, for example, the USA and Russia, and it created its atomic capacity on the basis of different foundations in terms of human development. Both we and the USA have the same problems. [Passage omitted]

But there is no global danger from what we have built up. You see that there is a clamour, but there is no instance of someone suffering radiation poisoning as a consequence of something left behind by nuclear weapons production. All these storage facilities have been properly evacuated. All of this is under control. Still, there are problems. I won't deny or dress things up.

We have administration reforms in which the approach to planning is being changed. We are looking at a three-year cycle. We are looking at results-geared funding. This is the next stage of the administrative reform. We are carrying out our departmental programme and we are looking at huge amounts of money by today's standards, hundreds of millions of roubles, for dealing with all the negative consequences which have accompanied the process of the creation of national nuclear weaponry. That is mission 522. I know by heart all the systems and measures of the Techenskiy cascade [facility in Chelyabinsk Region in which radioactive waste is discharged]. Last month I made a special visit to all these dams, all the lakes and storage facilities, and we will be making serious progress on this.

You say that you live near the Kurchatov Institute. Well, we conducted the first pilot project in this institute. Over the last few years we have taken out all the low-level waste which was kept there from the late 1940s and early 1950s when the Kurchatov Institute was leading work on solving our weapons problem. [Passage omitted]

I can say that this first pilot was carried through in close alliance with [Moscow mayor] Yuriy Mikhaylovich Luzhkov, with the Moscow government, and with some financial help from a federal programme, but with most of the money coming from the federal agency. That is how we will proceed with regard to all the facilities in our industry, where there is this kind of legacy. [Passage omitted]

No alternative to nuclear energy in long term

[Presenter] Am I right in saying that you cannot envisage the future without atomic energy?

[Rumyantsev] When a forecast goes beyond 20 years, as a scientist I am very sceptical about its validity.

But we can look at what is actually going on. There is no doubt that natural resources - oil, gas, coal - are being exhausted. The resources that have been discovered are sufficient for humanity not to experience a shortage for 100 years or a little longer. [Passage omitted]

It is true that you can make different things from gas and oil, and get energy in a different form. You can also say that uranium deposits are also running out and are sufficient only for 100 years or so.

But the thing is that you don't only have thermal neutron reactors, which are used now, you also have fast neutron reactors, which use not Uranium-235 in the fuel cycles, of which there is only 0.7 per cent in natural deposits, but the main Uranium-238, of which there are hundreds of thousands of tonnes. We don't know what to do with this depleted uranium, whether to dispose of it or not. But it can be used in this nuclear fuel cycle.

In this case, the fuel can last for 1,000 or 1,500 years if closed fuel cycles are established on the basis of either thorium, of which we have a lot, or Uranium-238.

[Presenter] What about solar power or wind power?

[Rumyantsev] They are just drops in the ocean, fractions of a per cent. [Passage omitted] Atomic energy gives us 17 per cent.

[Present] So we cannot get by without the civil atomic energy?

[Rumyantsev] More than likely. [Passage omitted]

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