1. Russia Plans to Complete Nuclear Sub Disposal in 2010
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Russia plans to complete the disposal of its decommissioned nuclear submarines and surface vessels in 2010, said Federal Atomic Energy Agency chief Alexander Rumyantsev.
Rehabilitation of the territory adjacent to the military bases of the Northern and Pacific Fleets should be finished by 2015-2017, Rumyantsev said while speaking at the State Duma on Friday.
Developed countries are prepared to provide Russia with free financial assistance to scrap nuclear submarines and chemical weapons, but not because Russia cannot cope with the problem itself, Rumyantsev said.
"Russia can resolve this problem itself, but assistance from foreign states will halve the timeframe within which this program can be implemented," he said.
1. Expectations Low For Advances on Nonproliferation at G8 Summit
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This weekï¿½s summit of the Group of Eight (G8) industrialized countries is unlikely to make significant steps on nonproliferation, observers said last week.
The meeting, scheduled for July 6-8 at the Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland, may be the scene for the resolution of the liability dispute that has held up U.S.-Russia plutonium disposition efforts for almost two years, but some of the analysts expressed doubts about that as well.
In his prepared testimony for a June 30 hearing of a House International Relations subcommittee, Leonard Spector of the Center for Nonproliferation Studies said that while high-level officials from Moscow and Washington had agreed in principle on an approach to breaking the liability logjam, ï¿½Russian negotiators are still refusing to conclude an agreement with us on this matter.ï¿½ Spector said he said recently spoken with an administration official who was ï¿½hopeful but not confidentï¿½ the issue would be resolved before the summit.
The dispute concerns the type of liability indemnification that will be applied to U.S. nonproliferation work in Russiaï¿½in particular, on the project to build and operate a facility in Siberia to fabricate mixed-oxide (MOX) reactor fuel from Russiaï¿½s surplus weapons plutonium. Another source who follows the MOX program closely was pessimistic, saying he saw the whole program as ï¿½hanging by a thread.ï¿½ In spite of the general agreement on how to proceed on the liability dispute, there are still problems because the Russians are ï¿½bringing other issuesï¿½ into the negotiations, he said.
There also are broader problems with the program, and the liability dispute has in some respects been a ï¿½good fig leafï¿½ because it has masked them, he said. On the U.S. side, there has been ï¿½concern all alongï¿½ about ï¿½how enthusiastic the Russians areï¿½ and ï¿½how capable [they are] of pulling together disparate elementsï¿½ in their government to back the project, he said.
ï¿½Thereï¿½s no doubt in my mind that U.S. confidence in the Russians is not high,ï¿½ the source said. He added that there may be an indication soonï¿½because of the imminent summitï¿½as to whether the Russians are ï¿½really seriousï¿½ or whether they are ï¿½diddling us,ï¿½ he said. He said there has been a ï¿½chronic propensityï¿½ in the U.S. government to place a great emphasis on these summits, but they generally end up producing ï¿½pablum.ï¿½ Spector said this weekï¿½s meeting was likely to result in a ï¿½blandï¿½ statement on nonproliferation.
Others have expressed a more positive view, at least on the prospects for the liability agreement. Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), a strong proponent of the disposition program and the chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that funds it, has been quoted in the media as saying he has seen significant strides recently in solving the liability program.
At the House hearing, witnesses said they saw problems in other parts of the G8ï¿½s overall nonproliferation effort, known as the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons & Materials of Mass Destruction. As part of that effortï¿½launched three years ago at the summit in Kananaskis, Canadaï¿½the countries agreed to provide $20-billion over 10 years for nonproliferation, with half of the money coming from the U.S. and half from the other G8 members. Since then, non-G8 countries also have made pledges.
In her testimony, Michele Flournoy of the Center for Strategic & International Studies, said, ï¿½The reality is that not enough funds have been pledged, not enough pledges have been converted to projects, and not enough projects have addressed the core security concernï¿½[of] preventing the spread of the worldï¿½s most dangerous materials to the most dangerous people.ï¿½ She singled out Japan for lagging behind the other G8 members in pledgesï¿½pledging slightly more than $200-millionï¿½ even though it has the worldï¿½s second largest economy. She also pointed to other shortcomings. While Italy and
France are two of the largest contributorsï¿½with pledges of 1-billion euros (about U.S.$1.2-billion at June 30 exchange rates) and Eur 750-million ($900-million), respectivelyï¿½they have ï¿½achieved almost no progress in actual project implementation,ï¿½ she said.
She and Spector also questioned the expenditures on Russian submarine dismantlement, a project they said was not as urgent as some of those dealing more directly with the goal of controlling materials that could be used in weapons of mass destruction. Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), who chaired the hearing, wondered in his opening statement ï¿½if the Global Partnership is losing steam.ï¿½
But there have been some recent advances in programs to control potential nuclear threats in Russia. DOEï¿½s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) announced last week that the U.S. and the Netherlands had signed a memorandum of understanding under which the Dutch government will contribute Eur 1-million ($1.2-million) to a U.S. program to shut down Russiaï¿½s three operating plutonium production reactorsï¿½two at Seversk and one at Zheleznogorsk. Under the program, the U.S. is funding the refurbishment or construction of coal plants to replace the heat and electricity that the production reactors provide. The Dutch contribution will go to the construction project at Zheleznogorsk, the NNSA statement said. The U.K. has committed $20-million to the program and Canada $7.4-million.
DOE said in its fiscal 2006 budget documents that it is looking to receive non-U.S. funding for Zheleznogorsk, whose reactor is scheduled for shutdown in 2011. Under DOEï¿½s FY-06 request, the vast majority of the funds for the reactor-shutdown program is to go to Seversk, whose reactors are scheduled to go out of service in 2008 (NF, 14 Feb., 1).
In another development, the White House announced June 30ï¿½the same day as the NNSA announcement on the Dutch contributionï¿½that President George W. Bush had received the first of the reports on U.S.-Russian nuclear security cooperation that are to be produced by a working group established at Bushï¿½s February meeting in Bratislava with Russian President Vladimir Putin (NF, 28 Feb., 3). According to the White House statement, Bush and Putin have agreed to conduct bilateral workshops this September on security culture and related issues. The two presidents also have agreed to undertake a ï¿½tabletopï¿½ exercise this October on emergency response to nuclear incidents, the statement said.
According to the White House, the two presidents also reached accord on an action plan for security upgrades at Russian facilities. Another area of agreement, the White House said, was on ï¿½prioritized timelinesï¿½ for the return of fresh and spent high-enriched uranium (HEU) fuel from U.S.- and Russian-designed reactors ï¿½in third countries,ï¿½ as well as the conversion of those reactors to low-enriched uranium. The phrase ï¿½in third countriesï¿½ was used in the statement issued after the Bratislava meeting and has drawn objections from some nonproliferation advocates because of the implication that Russia does not intend to convert its own HEU-fueled reactors. But in between the Bratislava statement and last weekï¿½s, Vladimir Kuchinov, the head of Rosatomï¿½s Department of Internal and External Cooperation, indicated Russia was working on converting its HEU reactors. Speaking at a May 23 briefing at the United Nations, he said he could not provide ï¿½exactï¿½ details on the timetable for the conversions.
Securing HEU and converting HEU-fueled reactors around the world have been a focus of efforts by a number of nonproliferation advocates. At the June 30 House hearing, Jon Wolfsthal of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace called for the G8 countries to agree ï¿½immediatelyï¿½ to phase out HEU use in civilian facilities. Five of the G8 countries operate HEU-fueled reactors, he said. In a later interview, Wolfsthal said this was a concern both because it undercut efforts toward a worldwide phaseout and because officials of the G8 governments ï¿½underappreciate the security riskï¿½ of having HEU in their countries.
On the sideline of this week's G8 Summit at Gleneagles, US President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet one on one. Atop their agenda will be commitments they made four months ago in Bratislava to address an issue even more important to the well-being of Russian and American citizens than African aid and climate change, the issues that will headline the G8.
Recall the first televised presidential debate last fall when the moderator asked both President Bush and Senator John Kerry: ''What is the single most serious threat to American national security?" Both answered: nuclear terrorism. President Bush said: ''I agree with my opponent that the biggest threat facing this country today is weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a terrorist network."
Last February's Bratislava summit put nuclear security at the top of the agenda. For the first time, Bush and Putin accepted personal responsibility for addressing the issue and assuring that their governments act urgently. Recognizing that at the sluggish pace of the last several years, Russian nuclear facilities would not be adequately secured until 2020, they established a target of 2008 for completion. They agreed to share ''best practices" for improving nuclear security and to focus increased attention on the security culture in both countries. They promised to develop new emergency response procedures for missing nuclear materials or dirty bombs. They pledged to convert all US and Russian research reactors that have been provided to developing and transitional countries from weapons-usable high-enriched uranium to harmless low-enriched uranium fuel.
More important than these promises was the establishment of points of accountability in each government. The two presidents named US Secretary of Energy Sam Bodman and Russian Federal Atomic Energy Agency Chief Alexander Rumyantsev as chairs of a ''senior interagency group" to organize implementation of these commitments and to report back regularly on their performance.
A former chief executive from the business world who served in the first term of the Bush administration as deputy secretary of commerce and deputy secretary of the treasury, Bodman is known for his low-keyed, unflappable, unstoppable determination. Though he had been on the job less than a week when given this new assignment, he accepted the mantel recognizing, as one of his colleagues observed, that if a nuclear bomb exploded on Bush's watch, Bodman had been identified as the ''stickee."
The prospects of a potential joint hanging did much to concentrate minds not only in the Department of Energy, but in the much more difficult environment of Russia's Atomic Energy Agency. Working groups were actually formed and have been communicating regularly each week. Bodman visited Rumyantsev in Moscow on May 24, and welcomed Rumyantsev for a reciprocal visit at the Department of Energy on June 16 to ratify and sign the Bratislava work-plan and review the progress.
Surprisingly, especially to experts who have been following this issue for many years, the combination of acceptance of personal responsibility, designation of a point of accountability, and development of timetables with milestones and performance measures has begun moving more balls down the field faster than ever before. At Gleneagles, the two presidents will be able to announce that they agreed on a list of specific Russian nuclear sites that need upgrades, are improving their countries' emergency response capabilities to track down missing nuclear material, are conducting a series of workshops in Russia to address nuclear security culture, and are steadily cleaning out research reactors that use high-enriched uranium.
On other issues, like the liability debate that has delayed the elimination of more than 4,000 potential nuclear bombs of plutonium for more than two years, the administration scored a breakthrough. With former undersecretary John Bolton sidelined, Secretary Rice's State Department effectively said yes to Russia's reasonable demands regarding accountability for nuclear accidents on its territory. The ball is now back in Russia's court where Foreign Ministry lawyers are, as usual, finding it difficult to accept ''da" for an answer.
Among the great puzzles about the first term of the Bush administration was the gap between words and deeds in combating nuclear terrorism. Verbally, both the president and the vice president declared this to be the single greatest threat. In contrast, the administration's performance in addressing this threat, from loose nukes in Russia to North Korea's quadrupling its nuclear arsenal, earned barely passing marks. Six months into the second term is surely too early for any final grades. But at this midterm of the first year, on this critical front, the administration's performance has improved significantly and is on a trajectory to good marks that could make America greatly safer.
An East Pittsburgh security services firm has added a $2.2 million contract to its list of government work helping to prevent nuclear materials developed in the former Soviet Union from falling into the wrong hands.
Gregg Protection Services, an off-shoot of Gregg Services Inc., is now past the $8 million mark in its share of a massive U.S. financial effort to forestall civil and military nuclear materials from drifting from former Soviet nations into Iran, Iraq or some other part of the Middle East where they could be turned against U.S. citizens. For this contract, Gregg Protection Services is a subcontractor with Raytheon Technical Services, a division of defense industry giant Raytheon Inc.
Raytheon Technical Services recently was awarded a $57 million contract for work securing and upgrading Russian nuclear facilities. The work is being funded through the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, a division of the U.S. Department of Defense.
Robert Keib, a vice president with Gregg Protection Services, said the $2.2 million contract is to provide security for one year at four former nuclear military facilities in Russia. He said because of the sensitive nature of the work, further details are being held confidential. Keib said there are approximately 38 Gregg Protection Services employees on the ground in Europe and western Asia performing security to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Keib said there are a total of 40 former nuclear military facilities in Russia that will need to be guarded. He said as the Russian government makes available further sites, Gregg Protection's contract amounts for that sort of work could grow. "The Department of Energy and the Department of Defense are putting huge amounts of money into this," Keib said.
But U.S. taxpayers aren't the only ones funding the security effort. Keib said members of the G-8, a group of eight major industrial nations including France, Great Britain, Canada and Germany, also contribute.
On Sept. 7, 2001, the U.S. Army awarded a $5 billion ongoing Cooperative Threat Reduction Integrating Contract to five U.S. companies to help ensure that nuclear materials couldn't be stolen and handed off to terrorists. In addition to Raytheon Technical Services, contracts were awarded to Bechtel National Inc. of San Francisco, Parsons Delaware Inc. of Pasadena, Calif., Washington Group International Inc.'s International Alliances of Cleveland and Brown & Root Services, a division of Haliburton International Inc. of Arlington, Va. Four days after the award, terrorists used commercial airliners to attack the United States.
Raytheon Technical Services also has contracts for hundreds of millions of dollars to provide transportation services for the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation and to transport materials regulated by the Cooperative Threat Reduction program, according to Raytheon spokeswoman Kristen Giddens Pinto-Coelho.
Keib said two previous $1.5 million contracts through the Argonne National Laboratory-West in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tenn., awarded through the Department of Energy have been completed. He said work on a $3 million contract with the DOE's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash., is ongoing.
3. Hopes, Pressure Rise for End to U.S.-Russian Stalemate on Liability in Nuclear Security Projects
Global Security Newswire
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A looming deadline and policy pressures are fueling new hopes that the United States and Russia might find a way out of a legal stalemate that for years has hampered the countriesï¿½ cooperation on work to secure and eliminate nuclear materials in Russia (see GSN, June 20).
Foreign-policy and domestic-security discussions here have been marked in recent months by a new focus on the threat of nuclear terrorism, with Russia mentioned frequently as a possible source of stolen or diverted material for a potential terrorist attack.
Meanwhile, a key U.S.-Russian agreement on locking down and destroying various materials in Russia is fast nearing expiration. Unless a new extension is agreed upon, the 1992 Cooperative Threat Reduction ï¿½umbrella agreementï¿½ will run out in the middle of next year.
The threat and deadline pressures could lead at last to a resolution to the dispute, officials and experts have indicated in recent interviews and public statements.
ï¿½They would like to get it doneï¿½ within the next few months, a U.S. official close to the talks said in an interview this week. ï¿½We should have sorted this out a while ago.ï¿½
The disagreement centers on the extent to which U.S. officials and contractors should be shielded from lawsuits arising from their work in Russia to secure nuclear materials. Washington has until recently sought to impose, as a standard to be observed in all U.S.-Russian nuclear security agreements, broad liability protections such as those in the current umbrella agreement.
Related accords on U.S.-Russian nuclear security work have shielded U.S. officials and contractors from liability when engaging in activities under the agreements but, in a notable exception, left them exposed to liability in cases where damages or injury result from individualsï¿½ intentional acts. The Cooperative Threat Reduction agreement, however, contains no such exception, providing more complete immunity for U.S. personnel.
Two U.S-Russian accords from 1998 ï¿½ the Nuclear Cities Initiative and the Plutonium Science and Technology agreements ï¿½ were allowed to expire in 2003 because they contained the exception for premeditated acts.
Later in 2003, Russia ratified the Framework Agreement on a Multilateral Nuclear Program in Russia, which governs European- and U.S.-aided programs to clean up nuclear sites in northwestern Russia. The liability provisions of the treaty contained the exception for intentional acts and, as a result, were laid out not in the main text but in a side agreement with European countries that the United States did not sign (see GSN, Dec. 15, 2003).
ï¿½I think that there probably need to be some compromises on the U.S. side,ï¿½ Institute for Science and International Security Director David Albright said at a congressional hearing this week. ï¿½There has been a sense that some of the resistance on the U.S. side has been unnecessary.ï¿½
Contractors Question U.S. Focus in Talks
In early 2004, U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration head Linton Brooks defended the tough U.S. line on liability, saying Washingtonï¿½s position was based on fears of ï¿½manipulationï¿½ of the Russian legal system, potentially leading to malicious lawsuits against U.S. contractors (see GSN, Jan. 14, 2004).
ï¿½We donï¿½t want to subject our companies to that,ï¿½ Brooks told reporters at the time.
Among those pushing for a quick resolution to the dispute, though, are many of the companies to which Brooks referred. While they could be at the center of any lawsuits resulting from damages that occur during the nonproliferation projects, the contractors have questioned the U.S. insistence that liability protections include no exception for individualsï¿½ premeditated acts.
The Contractors International Group on Nuclear Liability, which counts such members as Battelle Memorial Institute and General Electric, late last month wrote U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to express support for speeding ratification of the International Atomic Energy Agencyï¿½s Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage ï¿½as a long-term and comprehensive solution to the liability issue impasse.ï¿½
Voicing support for the conclusions of a recent U.S.-Russian expert report on the subject, the group said Russia and the United States should place more emphasis on the international treaty process and on Russian liability law rather than on ï¿½more than decade-oldï¿½ efforts to reach a bilateral arrangement.
The contractorsï¿½ counsel, Omer Brown of the law firm Harmon, Wilmot & Brown, wrote in the letter to Rice that the group considers no current bilateral or multilateral agreement to provide adequate nuclear liability protection but that the solution is in the international treaty, not in insisting on liability protections for premeditated acts.
ï¿½Ad hocï¿½ bilateral agreements with the United States, Brown wrote, could even diminish Russiaï¿½s motivation to adopt more comprehensive measures such as the U.N. treaty ï¿½ a text contractors support, he added in an interview today, in part because it would require Russia to substantially increase the maximum amount it agrees to pay out in compensation after a nuclear incident. He said the treaty would raise Russiaï¿½s limit for such payments from about $60 million, the figure it is contemplating under the 1963 Vienna Convention on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage, to about $450 million.
ï¿½Too much emphasis has been placed by the U.S. government on resisting Russiaï¿½s insistence that any agreement exclude coverage for premeditated acts of individuals,ï¿½ Brown wrote in the letter. ï¿½Such a provision has been a feature of the 1963 Vienna and 1960 Paris conventions [addressing nuclear liability], under which contractors have done work for four decades. The exclusion does not appear unreasonable.ï¿½
While the United States focuses on the question of intentional acts, the contractors said, it fails to address a more important deficiency in the liability provisions.
ï¿½Weï¿½re not hung up on this acts-of-individuals, because that is something weï¿½ve lived with under the conventions for 40 years, intentional acts of individuals. Thatï¿½s something that the State Department has been insisting on, and itï¿½s kind of held things up,ï¿½ Brown said today. ï¿½What they havenï¿½t been concentrating on is the most important part, which is the waiver of sovereign immunity.ï¿½
Brown wrote in his letter to Rice that the ï¿½critical deficiency of all prior nuclear indemnity agreements with Russiaï¿½ was the lack of such a provision, in which Russia would waive its immunity as a sovereign country from lawsuits. Since a government cannot be sued without such a waiver, he said today, contractors would have no recourse if Russia simply refused to honor provisions in liability agreements that nominally require Moscow to provide compensation or come to the legal defense of contractors.
The chairwoman of the expert report group, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Senior Associate Rose Gottemoeller, said contractors believe none of the existing U.S.-Russian agreements to provide adequate liability protection but are not eager to see work stopped either.
ï¿½Theyï¿½re kind of holding their nose and proceeding with work,ï¿½ the former U.S. Energy Department nonproliferation specialist said in an interview this week.
U.N. Compensation Treaty, Multilateral Cleanup Accord Considered
The Cooperative Threat Reduction umbrella agreementï¿½s language on liability remains the United Statesï¿½ ï¿½first positionï¿½ in negotiations, the U.S. official close to the talks said, but ï¿½Iï¿½m not sure weï¿½re going to get it.ï¿½
In the absence of that language, the parties could find solutions in the Multilateral Nuclear Program in Russia liability protocol or in the IAEA compensation treaty.
The multilateral accord, as signed by European countries and Russia, protects the European governments and their contractors from all legal proceedings brought by Moscow, ï¿½with the exception of claims for injury or damage against individuals arising from omissions or acts of such individuals done with intent to cause injury or damage.ï¿½ It also requires Russia to ï¿½provide for the adequate legal defense of and indemnifyï¿½ foreign contributors ï¿½in connection with third-party claims,ï¿½ again stipulating the exception for intentional acts.
ï¿½Thatï¿½s pretty good,ï¿½ the U.S. official said of the agreement, ï¿½and that in itself might be one to use.ï¿½
The IAEA convention would create a ï¿½worldwide liability regimeï¿½ in which each country would be responsible for maintaining reserves from which parties injured during activities at its facilities would be compensated. After a countryï¿½s reserve was paid out, the other treaty countries would contribute any additional compensation to injured parties, with the various countriesï¿½ payouts determined by a formula laid out in the treaty.
The convention assigns ï¿½absoluteï¿½ liability to the country in which the nuclear site is located but adds an exception for damage resulting from ï¿½armed conflict, hostilities, civil war or insurrectionï¿½ or from a ï¿½grave natural disaster of exceptional character ï¿½ ï¿½pretty standardï¿½ language that contractors can live with, Brown said.
Neither the United States nor Russia has ratified the pact so far. Both countries are unlikely to do so before the umbrella agreement expires next year, but observers say its principles could still influence the countriesï¿½ liability talks.
In the United States, the treaty is pending before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; the contractorsï¿½ group said the panel is expected to hold a hearing on the pact this year. The committee refused to confirm such a hearing was planned.
Congress Applies Pressure Amid Reports of Progress in Negotiations
In recent months and weeks, there have been signs that the push for progress on securing nuclear sites could supersede U.S. worries about the liability language.
The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives this year have both used authorization and appropriations legislation as a forum for expressing dissatisfaction about the dispute (see GSN, June 2).
The Washington Post reported June 20 that, according to negotiators, the United States and Russia had made progress on the liability concerns and that an accord would be announced at next weekï¿½s Group of Eight summit in Perthshire, Scotland. An Associated Press interview with U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), published the same day, echoed that report.
The U.S. official familiar with the talks said there was a push to ï¿½get something doneï¿½ at the Scotland meeting but indicated agreement could also be weeks or months, rather than days, away. ï¿½Weï¿½re negotiating with the Russians right now,ï¿½ the official said.
The official identified next yearï¿½s expiration of the umbrella agreement as the main force driving recent progress in the talks. In the absence of an agreement on liability, the approaching expiration could begin to affect programs long before the deadline actually arrives, the source said, as offices involved in the effort begin to curtail new hiring or purchasing.
ï¿½I think people are realizing we have to come to some kind of wayï¿½ to resolve the dispute, the official said. ï¿½If weï¿½re going to continue this, weï¿½re going to have to do something.ï¿½
The official questioned the Postï¿½s report that the departure from the U.S. State Department of former Undersecretary John Bolton, who has been nominated as ambassador to the United Nations, was instrumental in breaking the liability stalemate.
ï¿½One could come to that conclusion,ï¿½ the source said, ï¿½but on the other hand, I think, partly, the deadline, too, is focusing peopleï¿½s minds ï¿½ and the criticism.ï¿½
If Bolton was still in the State Department, the official said, ï¿½He might have gotten browbeaten so badly, it might have started moving anyway.ï¿½
Brown expressed skepticism about the prospects for an agreement but said he had no way of knowing whether rumors of an imminent solution were more accurate now than in the past.
ï¿½Weï¿½ve been told for two years that the agreement was imminent,ï¿½ he said.
4. Russia Scraps ICBM Launcher, Cooperates With Canada
Global Security Newswire
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Russia yesterday blew up a silo-based launcher for its RS-20B Voyevoda ICBM, known in the West as the SS-18 Satan, ITAR-Tass reported (see GSN, June 16).
The Russian Defense Ministry previously eliminated another launcher this year. ï¿½Another four SBLs of the Kartaly missile division will be scrapped by the end of this year,ï¿½ a source said.
ï¿½The combined unit was taken off combat duty in May and by December it will be completely disbanded according to reform plans for the Strategic Missile Troops,ï¿½ the source said.
Russian silo-based launchers are being deactivated under the START 1 Treaty with the United States.
Two divisions of Strategic Missile Troops remained armed with more than 80 Voyevoda missiles, ITAR-Tass reported (ITAR-Tass/BBC Monitoring, June 30).
The lower house of Russiaï¿½s parliament today approved an agreement under which Canada will provide funding and technical support for elimination of Russian nuclear submarines and chemical weapons, ITAR-Tass reported.
While the Duma document does not indicate a specific funding amount, a Canadian official previously indicated that Ottawa had set aside $220 million for the effort (Sofia Filippova, ITAR-Tass, July 1).
Russia plans to eliminate all decommissioned nuclear vessels ï¿½ estimated by one Duma lawmaker at 90 submarines and two surface ships ï¿½ by 2010, Atomic Energy Minister Alexander Rumyantsev said today.
The vessels are breaking down in naval shipyards, stoking fears of radioactive leaks or diversion of nuclear materials, the Associated Press reported.
Rumyantsev said Russia has enough money to dispose of the ships and submarines, but that foreign funding would quicken the process, according to Interfax (Associated Press, July 1).
5. Chairman Linder Holds Hearing on the Security of Fissile Materials Abroad
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Yesterday, Congressman John Linder (R-GA), Chairman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Prevention of Nuclear and Biological Attack, held a hearing on "Pathways to the Bomb: Security of Fissile Materials Abroad." The hearing focused on the location and security of fissile materials around the world, including plutonium and highly enriched uranium (HEU), with a focus on states other than those of the former Soviet Union (FSU). In his opening statement, Congressman Linder also urged that there be a focus on ensuring that security programs have sound policies to make certain that there is accountability and measurable progress.
"The challenge of securing weapons-usable nuclear material around the world is a daunting task," Linder said. "Some estimates indicate that approximately 2,400 metric tons of weapons-useable nuclear material is spread over two dozen countries - enough to build 'hundreds of thousands of nuclear weapons.'"
Since 1992, the Federal government has worked to improve security of fissile materials and nuclear weapons in states of the former Soviet Union. However, a great deal of work remains to be done. In addition to improving the security of fissile materials in this region, the attacks of September 11, 2001, have accelerated U.S. efforts to secure fissile materials in other countries.
There is growing concern, for example, that materials in Pakistan and India may require security enhancements, and a number of nuclear security experts have advocated adapting programs used in Russia to secure materials and warheads in these countries.
"The mission of this Subcommittee is to ensure that a nuclear attack on U.S. soil never occurs," Linder continued. "As such, I want to emphasize that we will be very focused on this critical issue, and will continue to provide vigorous oversight and legislative guidance to the Department of Homeland Security in this effort."
Witnesses at today's hearing included: Mr. David Albright, Director, Institute for Science and International Security; and Ms. Rose Gottmoeller, Senior Associate, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Immediately following today's hearing, the Subcommittee received a classified briefing from relevant Federal government witnesses on the same subject matter.
1. Russia for Broadening Scope of Nuclear Convention
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Russia is in favor of broadening the scope of the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.
"Russia is in favor of essentially broadening the scope of the Convention, so that besides international transportation, it can be applied to activity using nuclear material inside a country," the ministry's press department said in a statement to coincide with a conference at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna on July 4 to review the Convention.
It also said Russia wanted to improve cooperation between states in the prevention and management of nuclear accidents.
The ministry stressed that most countries shared Russia's views and supported its approach toward improving nuclear security.
"It is obvious that these objectives can be achieved by improving interaction in prosecuting those who violate the Convention's regulations," the document released by the ministry reads.
The Convention provides for the safety of nuclear material during international transportation to prevent it from falling into the hands of terrorists and other criminals.
This week 550 delegates from 92 countries will consider ways to improve the physical protection of nuclear material and make amendments to improve the global community's ability to counter the threat of nuclear terrorism, and to improve global nuclear security.
The conference will end with the adoption of a final act on July 8.
2. Ukraine Will Not House Nuclear Weapons If It Joins NATO: Minister
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Ukraine will not allow the deployment of nuclear weapons on its territory by NATO members if it joins the alliance, Defense Minister Anatoliy Grytsenko said June 30.
ï¿½If someone is convinced that after Ukraine joins NATO there will be nuclear weapons on our territory, I want to assure them: there will be no nuclear weapons on our territory,ï¿½ Interfax quoted Grytsenko as saying.
The administration of President Viktor Yushchenko, who came to power last year vowing to steer ex-Soviet Ukraine toward membership in both the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union, has been struggling to overcome deep public mistrust of the Cold War-era alliance.
A May opinion survey showed that 55.7 percent of the Ukrainians were against their country joining NATO, up from 48 percent in February.
NATO chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, who visited Kiev earlier this week, sought to reassure skeptical Ukrainians, saying that the alliance had changed since its Cold War-era beginnings.
ï¿½I know that many people here in Ukraine still think of the Cold War when they think of NATO,ï¿½ Scheffer said June 27. But the alliance today ï¿½is a different NATO than the NATO of the Cold War... Todayï¿½s NATO is designed to help provide security in a new world.ï¿½
Separately, Grytsenko said that NATO members were ready to give Ukraine up to 10 billion euros toward a program to decrease its weapons stockpiles and that Kiev hoped to destroy up to 20,000 tons of weapons with the funds.
Details of the program were still being worked out and would have to be approved by the Ukrainian government, he said.
1. Russia Prepared to Build More Power Units in Bushehr
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The head of the Russian Audit Chamber, the country's financial watchdog, said Russia was interested in building more power units at the nuclear power plant in Bushehr, Iran. "While visiting the first unit of the Bushehr nuclear power plant being built by Russian specialists, Russian and Iranian officials discussed whether Russia would take part in the construction of second, third, and fourth units," Sergei Stepashin said. Stepashin said: "Russia is prepared for and genuinely interested in this."
"However, the question is what the current Iranian government means by the new nuclear policy of the Islamic Republic," said Stepashin.
"Russia will continue constructing more power units in Bushehr if Russia, Europe and Iran will succeed in coordinating their positions on Iran's nuclear programs," he said.
"Iran's nuclear programs are a sore point in the current negotiation process," Stepashin said. He added that it was important to see how existing agreements were observed, which primarily concerned the positions of the International Atomic Energy Agency and European countries.
According to him, the first unit of the Bushehr plant will be put into operation in late 2006. Stepashin said everything was ready with exception of a few technical problems remaining.
"It is worth mentioning that we have a capable team working at the plant. Another 500 Russian specialists are expected to join it soon," he added.
"This team of specialists is ready to complete the construction and in next five or six months can start drafting agreements on the construction of other power units in Bushehr," Stepashin said.
2. Russian, Iranian Audit Heads to Conduct Parallel Audits at Bushehr NPP
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Russia's Audit Chamber and Iran's Supreme Audit Court will conduct parallel audits at the Russian-built first reactor of the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), Audit Chamber head Sergei Stepashin said Monday. "My colleague Dr. Mohammad Reza Rahimi and I have agreed to conduct parallel audits in Russia and Iran to monitor financing allocated for the implementation of the project," Stepashin said. "Considerable allocations from the Russian budget are involved in the project, and the Audit Chamber is interested in seeing on the spot what needs to be done to move the project further."
He said that construction of the NPP's first unit "is a serious joint project."
"Russia intends to remain in Bushehr," Stepashin said. "Moreover, we have a program to implement other projects after we complete construction of the first unit."
The first unit of the Bushehr NPP will come online in the second half of 2006, he said.
Rahimi was upbeat about the meeting, saying that "the talks were very positive and we hope that the developing cooperation between the Russian Audit Chamber and the Supreme Audit Court of Iran will help to enhance all-round relations between Moscow and Tehran."
He said that Iran is ready for proactive bilateral cooperation.
"Everything is ready to increase the current level of relations between Russia and Iran," adding that new Iranian President Mahmound Ahmadi Nejad "is interested in promoting bilateral cooperation with Russia in all spheres."
The Iranian Parliament has already ratified an agreement on constructing NPPs with output totaling 20,000 megawatts.
The head of Russia's Federal Agency for Nuclear Power, Alexander Rumyantsev, said recently that Russia was ready to cooperate with Iran.
"I personally support the development of the Iranian peaceful nuclear energy, and hope that global society will stop debates on this issue by the end of the year," he said. "Given the stance of a number of countries, including Russia, which say that Iran should not have its own nuclear-fuel cycle, I hope the decision concerning the development of the nuclear energy program in Iran will be positive."
1. China, Russia Call For Building of New Security Framework
Xinhua News Agency
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Chinese President Hu Jintao and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin signed here Friday a joint statement, calling for a new security framework and the promotion of regional integration.
The joint statement calls on the international community to establish a new security framework on the basis of mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and cooperation.
The framework should have the universally recognized norms of international relations as its political foundation, and mutually beneficial cooperation and common prosperity as its economic foundation, says the joint statement.
The establishment of this framework should be based on the equal security rights of all nations while dialogue, consultation and negotiation on an equal footing should be the means for settling conflicts and maintaining peace, the joint statement says.
China and Russia support efforts to maintain global strategic stability, and the multilateral process of establishing legal systems on arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation, it says.
The two sides will work together to put the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty into effect as soon as possible and to push for the universality and effectiveness of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (INT), the Biological Weapons Convention and the Convention on the Banning of Chemical Weapons (CWC).
They also call for the peaceful use of outer space, and voice opposition to weapons deployment and arm races in outer space. They push for relevant international legislation to this end.
The two leaders believe that in face of new threats and challenges, further effective measures should be taken to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) as well astheir carriers and relevant materials, according to the joint statement.
The joint statement says the two sides have decided to cooperate more closely in related international organizations and forums and expand cooperation with other like-minded countries. The issue of proliferation of WMDs should be resolved through political, diplomatic and international cooperation within the framework of international law, says the joint statement.
The two sides think that a UN-led global system should be set up to deal with new threats and challenges on the basis of the UN Charter and international law, it says.
The joint statement says regional integration is an important character in the development of the current international situation.
Open, non-exclusive regional organizations are playing a positive role in shaping a new world order.
The two countries appeal for the promotion of further economic cooperation in regional integration and for the establishment of security cooperation mechanisms.
They also voice support for regional organizations to set up ties with each other and produce an atmosphere of mutual trust and cooperation, the joint statement says.
1. N. Korea Asked Russia in April to Host 6-Way Talks But Failed
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North Korea sounded out Russia in late April for it to take China's place in hosting the stalled six-party nuclear talks, but the plan was not realized due to U.S. opposition and a clash between Moscow and Pyongyang over the North's nuclear possession, a source involved in the talks said Tuesday.
"To North Korea, China is the biggest aid donor but as host of the talks, it is also increasing its pressure on the North to abolish its nuclear arms," the source said. "I believe North Korea was trying to improve its relations with Russia in hopes of fending off the pressure."
The source also said that it was unclear whether North Korea at that time had the intention of resuming the talks at an early date.
The multilateral talks, which aim to bring an end to North Korea's suspected nuclear arms programs, involve North and South Korea, China, Japan, Russia and the United States.
Three rounds of talks have been held in Beijing, the last in June last year. The negotiations have since been in stalemate, with Pyongyang declaring in February its indefinite walkout.
Upon North Korea's request in April, Russia began considering hosting the fourth round and China did not lodge any specific protest against the idea.
However, the United States opposed the proposal, saying it is important for China, which is North Korea's lifeline, to play a central role in the talks as the host country, the source said.
Soon after North Korea approached Moscow, a Russian congressional delegation visited Pyongyang. But when the Russian side stated it would not accept North Korea possessing nuclear weapons, the North claimed it was for self-defense and the two sides engaged in a heated debate, the source said.
After the conflict, Russia conveyed to other parties involved in the talks that it has no intention to host the negotiations, according to the source.
Pyongyang has refused to return to the table during the yearlong hiatus, citing what it calls Washington's "hostile" policy against it, but has recently been signaling that the talks might resume as early as July. Senior U.S. and North Korean officials have also recently resumed contact such as on the sidelines of an academic forum in New York.
1. Greenpeace Tells Russia to Scrap Floating Nuclear Power Plant
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The Russian branch of the international ecology watchdog Greenpeace has addressed the Federal Security Service with a request to ban the building of floating nuclear power plants as poor security at the objects makes them a ï¿½prime choiceï¿½ for potential terrorist attacks.
The Gazeta.ru Internet daily quoted a report issued by Greenpeace on Tuesday as saying that a typical floating power plant uses weapons-grade uranium as fuel and the supply of this material on one power plant amounts to 960 kilograms, but no special security measures are envisaged in the project.
Greenpeace called for Russian authorities to scrap the floating nuclear power plant project and concentrate on development of alternative energy sources instead.
Russiaï¿½s nuclear agency Rosatom has announced that it was ready to start building floating nuclear power plants and sell them to countries in South-East Asia. The agency received a governmental license for the project in 2002. So far, Thailand and Indonesia have expressed interest in the project and Russia is currently in talks with China and South Korea as potential customers.
In a report presented at a Moscow news conference on Monday, campaigners from the Bellona environmental watchdog urged Russia to reform its nuclear energy industry and the handling of Soviet-era nuclear waste.
The report, called "Russian Nuclear Industry: The Need for Reform," said Russia had to safely store spent nuclear fuel, rather than reprocess it, and stop implementing the "potentially dangerous and expensive" program of extending operation of aging nuclear plants. It also called for the cleanup of contamination around nuclear power stations and nuclear-powered submarine bases.
Anatoly Shulgin, who said he represented the Federal Security Service's Scientific and Technical Center, evoked a passionate response from a Bellona representative when he asked why Bellona wanted Russia's nuclear industry to "shut down."
"We speak here about reforming this absolutely crazy industry," said Alexander Nikitin, one of the study's authors, rapping the 207-page report with his finger. "It doesn't say here 'Russian Nuclear Industry: The Need to Close It Tomorrow.'"
Nikolai Shingaryov, spokesman for the Federal Atomic Energy Agency, said the agency was grateful for any advice and was ready to listen. But he defended the extended operation of nuclear power reactors as safer and less expensive than building new reactors.
The report was first published in Norway in November 2004, and Bellona has since presented it around the world.
1. States Meet to Strengthen Protection of Nuclear Material
International Atomic Energy Agency
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Hundreds of delegates from some 80 countries opened a conference in Vienna this week to consider and adopt amendments to the international Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material. IAEA Deputy Director General David Waller said the conference marked another "significant step" toward strengthening the worldï¿½s nuclear security regime.
The Conference focuses on proposed amendments to the Physical Protection Convention that were drafted over the past several years. IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei convened the conference at the request of States that are parties to the Convention, which has been an important element of the worldï¿½s nuclear security framework since 1980.
The proposed amendments would strengthen the Conventionï¿½s existing provisions and expand its scope to cover, among other points, the physical protection of nuclear material used for peaceful purposes, in domestic use, storage and transport; and the physical protection of nuclear material and nuclear facilities used for peaceful purposes against sabotage.
Right now, the Convention obliges States Parties to ensure during international nuclear transport the protection of nuclear material within their territory or on board their ships or aircraft. It is the only international legally binding instrument in the area of physical protection of nuclear material.
2. Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman Announces New Department of Energy Office in Beijing, China
Department of Energy
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Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman today announced the establishment of a Department of Energy (DOE) office in Beijing, China. The new office will support DOEï¿½s cooperative efforts with China on energy and nuclear security issues. The announcement of DOEï¿½s new Beijing office was made in conjunction with the first meeting of the U.S.-China Energy Policy Dialogue being held in Washington today.
"The United States and China have a constructive relationship on a variety of issues, including energy security and nuclear security," Secretary Bodman said. "Through the U.S.-China Energy Policy Dialogue, and with on-site assistance from the new DOE office, we can enhance our cooperation to promote energy efficiency, diversify our energy supplies, expand the use of clean energy technologies, as well as continue our mutual efforts to increase nuclear security in both our nations."
The Beijing office will provide guidance and support for DOEï¿½s cooperative activities with China, in both the energy and nuclear security fields. The office will be located within the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.
Both the establishment of DOEï¿½s Beijing Office and the U.S.-China Energy Policy Dialogue were initiated in 2004 by then-Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham, in recognition of China's role in the international community, as well as the increased numbers of cooperative agreements established between the two countries in recent years.
3. Statement on Nuclear Security Cooperation with Russia
Office of the Press Secretary, The White House
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President Bush received the first progress report from a joint U.S.-Russia working group he established with President Putin in Bratislava to improve nuclear security cooperation to deal with one of the gravest threats we face- the danger that terrorists could gain access to nuclear material or weapons.
Since that time, the U.S.-Russia Senior Interagency Working Group on Nuclear Security Cooperation, co-chaired by Secretary of Energy Bodman and Federal Atomic Energy Agency Director Rumyantsev has examined ways to advance cooperation in five areas: (1) emergency response, (2) best practices, (3) security culture, (4) conversion of research reactors, and (5) nuclear security.
The report notes that the United and Russia have agreed to:
Prioritized timelines to return fresh and spent highly-enriched uranium fuel from U.S.- and Russian-designed research reactors in third countries, and to convert these reactors to low-enriched uranium and to develop other alternative fuels;
Developed a Joint Action Plan for security upgrades at Rosatom and Ministry of Defense facilities;
Conduct bilateral workshops on sharing "best practices" and establishment of a "security culture" in September 2005;
Undertake a tabletop exercise on emergency response to nuclear incidents in October 2005.
The Working Group is scheduled to report again on December 31, 2005.
4. U.S. and Dutch Governments Sign Memorandum of Understanding on Elimination of Weapons Grade Plutonium Production
National Nuclear Security Administration
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In a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed today by the United States and the Netherlands, the Dutch have agreed to contribute one million euros to an American-led program to construct power plants that will replace the last plutonium-producing nuclear reactors in Russia. The program is part of the Department of Energy's (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration's (NNSA) Elimination of Weapons Grade Plutonium Production (EWGPP) program.
On behalf of the DOE, Clifford Sobel, Ambassador of the United States to the Netherlands, signed the agreement with Dr. Bernard Rudolf Bot, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.
"The signing of this MOU is a positive step in the effort to address nonproliferation and nuclear safety concerns shared by both Dutch and Americans. Shutting down the plutonium production reactor at Zheleznogorsk will prevent weapons-grade material from getting into the hands of terrorists," stated Paul Longsworth, NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation.
The EWGPP program's efforts will result in the permanent shutdown of the last three Russian nuclear reactors that currently produce weapons-grade plutonium. These reactors, however, also provide necessary heat and electricity to Seversk and Zheleznogorsk, two "closed cities" in the Russian nuclear weapons complex. In order to meet these energy requirements, the United States will provide support to the Russian Federation for the construction of replacement fossil energy plants.
The Russian Federation has agreed to permanently shut down the reactors once the replacement facilities are operating. The Dutch contribution will help accelerate the construction of the replacement power facility in Zheleznogorsk.
With the contribution by the Netherlands, the total international contribution to the EWGPP program has now reached approximately $28.3 million. In January 2005, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland signed a memorandum of understanding to contribute $20 million to the program. In March 2005, Canada committed $7.4 million to the program. Discussions are ongoing with other potential contributors.
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