1. Russian Sierra-I nuclear submarine soon back in active service
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The repairs at the Russian multipurpose nuclear submarine K-276 ï¿½Krabï¿½ (project 945, Barrakuda) have been completed recently.
At the moment the submarine has finished sea trials and is moored at the shipyard for painting and correcting defects noted by the acceptance committee, Interfax reported. It is expected that the submarine will be back in active service in the end of 2005. At the same time the preparation works for repair works on another submarine of this class are carried out at the moment.
Krab joined the Northern Fleet in 1987. It has been presumably in reserve since 1997. Four submarines in total of this class were built in Russia. The first submarine of this project (K-239, Karp) was taken out of service in 1997-98.
2. UPDATE: Strategic ballistic missile launched in White Sea - Defense Ministry
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MOSCOW - Russia has successfully conducted the first in-flight test of a Bulava strategic ballistic missile in a White Sea trial, a top defense ministry official said Tuesday.
The missile was launched from the Dmitry Donskoy, a Typhoon class ballistic missile submarine, at 5:22 p.m. Moscow time (1:22 p.m. GMT).
"At the estimated elapsed time a dummy warhead hit the designated 'target' at the Kura test site on the Kamchatka Peninsula," a navy spokesman said.
In 2004, Russia successfully conducted surface and underwater pop-up tests of the Bulava strategic ballistic missile.
Russia's Borey-class nuclear submarines will be equipped with Bulava missiles. Two submarines are being constructed at the Sevmash plant in Severodvinsk in the Arkhangelsk region. The first submarine, the Yury Dolgoruky, will be commissioned in 2006 and the second, the Alexander Nevsky, in 2007.
1. Staff Report: Nuclear Trafficking Latest Statistics Released
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Countries reported 121 incidents to the IAEA in 2004 of illicit trafficking and other unauthorized activities involving nuclear and other radioactive materials, newly released statistics from the Agency's Illicit Trafficking Database (ITDB) show.
The ITDB report also shows that one incident was reported since 2003 that involved fissile material -- highly enriched uranium (HEU) or plutonium -- that is needed to make a nuclear weapon. It occurred in June 2003 when an individual was arrested in possession of 170 grams of HEU, attempting to illegally transport it across the border.
During the two-year period 2003-2004, the number of incidents reported by States substantially increased compared with previous years. "Improved reporting may in part account for it," the report said. "The majority of the incidents reported in 2003-2004 showed no evidence of criminal activity."
The Past Twelve Years: 1993 - 2004
Nuclear Weapons Grade Material
Since the database started in 1993, there have been eighteen confirmed incidents involving trafficking in HEU and plutonium. A few of these incidents involved seizures of kilogram quantities of weapons-usable nuclear material but most involved very small quantities. In some of the cases the seized material was allegedly a sample of larger quantities available for illegal sale or at risk of theft. More than two dozens incidents involved trace amounts of plutonium sources.
In the past twelve years, 220 incidents involved nuclear materials. The majority of confirmed cases with nuclear materials involved low-grade nuclear materials, mostly in the form of reactor fuel pellets, and natural uranium, depleted uranium and thorium. While the quantities of these materials have been rather small to be significant for nuclear proliferation or use in a terrorist nuclear explosive device, these cases are indicative of gaps in the control and security of nuclear material and nuclear facilities.
The majority of confirmed incidents with nuclear materials recorded during 1993-2004 involved criminal activity, such as theft, illegal possession, illegal transfer or transaction. Some of these incidents indicate that there is a perceived demand for such materials on the "black market." Where information on motives is available, it indicates that profit seeking is the principal motive behind such events.
From 1993-2004, a total of 424 incidents were reported involving other radioactive materials mostly in the form of radioactive sources. Radioactive sources are used worldwide in a host of legitimate applications while measures to protect and control their use, storage or disposal are much less strict than those applied toward nuclear materials.
In the hands of terrorists or other criminals, some radioactive sources could be used for malicious purposes, for example in a radiological dispersal device or "dirty bomb." Uncontrolled radioactive sources also have the potential to harm human health or the environment. Unlawfully discarded or disposed of radioactive sources, when melted at scrap metal recycle plants, may lead to severe environmental and economic related consequences.
The majority of incidents involved radioisotopes and portable radioactive sources used for various industrial applications, such as gauging or radiography.
Activity levels of the majority of these sources were too low to pose serious radiological risk if used for malicious purposes. About 50 incidents involved high-risk "dangerous" radioactive sources, which present considerable radiological danger if used in a malicious act. The overwhelming majority of incidents involving "dangerous" sources were reported over the last six years.
The IAEAï¿½s illicit trafficking database was set-up to facilitate the exchange of authoritative information on incidents of illicit trafficking and other related unauthorized activities involving nuclear and other radioactive materials among States. Over the years its purpose has expanded to maintaining and analysing this information to identify common trends and patterns.
1. Russia makes significant progress in chemical weapons destruction - German ambassador
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NIZHNY NOVGOROD - The German ambassador to Russia said Tuesday that the country had made considerable progress in implementing its chemical weapons destruction program.
Walter Jurgen Schmidt met with Sergei Kiriyenko, the Russian presidential envoy to the Volga Federal District and chairman of the state chemical disarmament commission, in Moscow Tuesday.
Schmidt praised the performance of the plant based in Gorny, a village near the Saratov region (Volga area). He also said Russia's second facility to destroy chemical weapons would be commissioned in Kambark in the republic of Udmurtia, northeastern European Russia, late this year. Germany has contributed to the project in Kambark.
Schmidt said German experts were considering participating in the construction of a plant near the village of Leonidovka in the Penza region in Central Russia.
Under the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, and Stockpiling of Chemical and Bacteriological Weapons, Russia is to destroy 20% of the chemical weapons it inherited from the former Soviet Union by 2007. The stockpiles must be completely destroyed by 2012.
Russia ratified the convention, which stipulates four phases of destruction, in 1997. One percent of the weapons are to be destroyed in the first phase, 20% in the second phase, 45% in the third, and the remaining 34% in the fourth phase.
Russia's has a total of 40,000 metric tons of chemical weapons.
Iran lambasted the UN nuclear watchdogï¿½s resolution requiring the countryï¿½s nuke program to be reported to the UN Security Council. Teheran threatened to resume the enrichment of uranium, denying UN inspectors access to Iranï¿½s nuclear facilities and using trade to punish the countries that had backed the resolution. The Iranian atomic issue is also being discussed at the 49th session of IAEA in Vienna.
"We have many friends but would like to express our special gratitude for those countries who were not led astray by the propaganda against Iran: Russia, China, Venezuela, Algeria, the South African Republic, Mexico, Tunisia, Pakistan, Nigeria, Yemen, Brazil, Sri-Lanka and Vietnam," Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said at the Monday session of the countryï¿½s government. President Ahmadinejad called the Western policy in relation to his countryï¿½s nuke program 'nuclear apartheid'.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hamid Reza Assefi expressed a negative attitude over the voting of India that supported the resolution moved by the Euro 3. "We are particularly surprised at Indiaï¿½s position and dissatisfied with it. We will take adequate steps given the existing circumstances." This reaction, among other things, may take its toll on the would-be construction of the Iran-Pakistan-India gas-main which is still up in the air, though the final decision will be made by the end of the year. The Iranian Foreign Ministryï¿½s official statement says that if the West does not give up its intention of handing over its files to the Security Council, Teheran will resume the enrichment of uranium and shut down the country for UN inspections.
These blunt statements were voiced at a time when the 49th IAEA conference is discussing the Iranian nuclear issue in Vienna. The head of the Russian Atomic Energy Agency Alexander Rumyantsev seems to be the only one who did not breach upon the Iranian question during the conferenceï¿½s first day. He favored the creation of a system of secure fuel supplies to the countries that decided against developing national technology on the enrichment of uranium. "Russia is ready to carry out the supplies," Rumyantsev said.
Alexander Rumyantsev was to meet Samuel Bodman, U.S. secretary of energy, yesterday. However, the U.S. official failed to come to Vienna, engaged in relief efforts after hurricanes swept across the United States, and the head of the Russian nuclear agency had to change his plans. "Perhaps, I will have to fly to Washington soon," Alexander Rumyantsev told Kommersant. The Russian atomic official is to coordinate with his stateside counterpart a report of the two countriesï¿½ presidents that will include recommendations on nuclear safety, including issues of fast response to contingencies.
Rumyantsev met on Sunday Reza Agazade, Iranian vice-president on nuclear energy issues, a Kommersant correspondent learnt. The head of the Russian atomic agency did not disclose the details of the talks but a source in the Russian delegation at the conference, familiar with the talks, told Kommersant that "Iranians are now trying to find a way out of the situation. But they mustnï¿½t commit follies, thatï¿½s the most important thing," the source said.
The Russian official position to Iran is the same. "We still advise Iran to stop conversion and not to start enriching uranium, i.e. to announce a moratorium on the enrichment of uranium again. Besides that, we recommend that Iran continues cooperation with the IAEA and the Euro 3 since we are convinced that the matter can only be settled by diplomatic means. But this is only friendly advice," Rumyantsev underscored yesterday.
2. Russia wants continued peaceful nuclear cooperation with Iran
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VIENNA - The head of Russia's Federal Agency for Nuclear Power told a news conference Tuesday that peaceful nuclear cooperation with Iran should be continued.
The Iranian nuclear file should not be submitted for the consideration of the UN Security Council because the IAEA's work with Iran is effective, said Alexander Rumyantsev, who is heading the Russian delegation at a session of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
According to Rumyantsev, Russia is not recommending that Iran enrich uranium, although the country is allowed to do so for peaceful purposes. He said Iran should give up having a nuclear cycle of its own since it is inexpedient until the country has at least 10 nuclear power plants.
Rumyantsev said Iran should continue its dialogue with the IAEA and the European Troika (the U.K., Germany and France) and stressed that the Iranian nuclear problem should only be resolved diplomatically.
1. Defense minister praises Bulava missile system tests
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MOSCOW - Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov Wednesday praised tests of the new Bulava missile system, which the Armed Forces will get by the end of 2007.
"We focused financial and administrative resources on designing the fourth-generation Bulava system," Ivanov told a conference on the 60th anniversary of the Russian nuclear industry. "The Armed Forces will get these weapons by the end of 2007."
"A new RS-30 missile, a part of the Bulava missile system, was successfully launched by the Dmitry Donskoi nuclear submarine from an underwater position Tuesday," he said.
Bulava may also be combined with the Topol-M surface-based missile complex, the minister added.
Ivanov said the ministry would help nuclear power companies.
"We understand that sometimes the Russian nuclear shield needs protection in the new market economy conditions," he said. "The Defense Ministry will give you [the nuclear industry] its protection."
2. Russian Army to get Hypersonic Strategic Missiles
Global Security Newswire
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Russia plans to develop hypersonic strategic missile systems, President Vladimir Putin said yesterday.
"We are developing and will provide the army with new, high-precision strategic complexes that are unique and unlikely to appear earlier in any other country," Putin said.
The missiles would use hypersonic sound to change course and altitude and "will be virtually invulnerable, even to the missile defense systems being developed in some of our partner countries," Putin said (Associated Press, Sept. 27).
Meanwhile, the Russian navy said it successfully tested a new submarine-launched ballistic missile yesterday, the Associated Press reported.
The Bulava solid-fuel missile was fired from a nuclear submarine in the White Sea and struck a target on the Kamchatka Peninsula, navy spokesman Capt. Igor Dygalo said in a statement.
Yesterdayï¿½s test was the first live fire of the missile, which has a range of 5,000 miles, according to AP.
"The successful test launch demonstrated the high level of readiness of the naval strategic nuclear forces and effectiveness of the navyï¿½s military command," Dygalo said.
The Russian navy expects to get two newly equipped nuclear submarines in 2006 armed with the missiles, Dygalo said. Interfax reported that each of the submarines would carry 12 missiles (Associated Press, Sept. 27).
1. Minister promised nuclear icebreaker by the end of 2006
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Nuclear icebreaker 50 Let Pobedy, or 50th anniversary of Victory, the only icebreaker under construction in Russia, can be finished by the end of 2006, the Russian transport minister Igor Levitin said to the journalists in Vladivostok on September 18.
He added that all nuclear icebreakers would be taken out of operation by 2015 and at the moment a new nuclear icebreaker design is being developed. Besides, his ministry has an idea to attract funds from the Russian Investment fund to sponsor nuclear icebreaker construction, Interfax reported.
The Russian state budget is allocating $5.7m in 2006 for the icebreaker construction when $26.6$ is needed. Icebreaker 50 years of Victory's completion was originally scheduled for 1995, but financial difficulties led to the numerous delays and this year Russia already celebrated 60th anniversary of Victory, but the icebreaker is still not finished.
The keel of the icebreaker was laid in 1989 and it was put into the water at the end of 1993. But due to the lack of financing, construction was suspended. Partial financing was renewed in the late 1990s. A contract for completing the ship was signed by Baltiysky shipyard and the government in February 2003. It will join the other nuclear icebreakers run by the Murmansk Shipping Company in Murmansk.
2. Survey: two-thirds of Russians in favor of nuclear engineering development
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MOSCOW - A survey released Wednesday by a leading Russian polling agency shows that nearly two-thirds of Russia's residents favor further development of the nuclear power industry, while only a quarter want all nuclear programs scrapped.
Forty-nine percent of those interviewed by VTsIOM believe the government should focus on developing new, environmentally friendly energies, including solar, wind and tidal power.
More than a half of the respondents (57%) think a nuclear accident on par with the 1986 Chernobyl disaster could happen, but 28 % argue a repeat is unlikely. Just 6% are almost certain there will be no reoccurrence.
Forty-seven percent believe the biggest threat to the environment comes from the shipment and storage of nuclear waste, but 32-35% contend that industrial production, logging and household waste dumping cause more environmental and health hazards than the nuclear industry does.
Twenty-nine percent call nuclear power stations the main source of environmental hazards and one-quarter (25%) see means of transportation like motor vehicles, trains and airplanes as the most damaging.
A sample of 1,600 adults from 153 urban and rural communities across Russia were polled September 24 and 25, with a statistical error of 3.4%.
VIENNA - Russia is ready to join the United States in creating a bank of uranium fuel for countries which pledge not to make enriched uranium but wants strict regulations, the Russian atomic chief said on Tuesday.
"We support this American initiative," Alexander Rumyantsev, who is head of the Russian federal nuclear agency, said in Vienna.
But he said it should be "incorporated in international agreements" since current US-Russian efforts to turn weapons-grade highly enriched uranium (HEU) into low-enriched uranium (LEU) were governed under a bilateral, US-Russian political agreement.
The fuel bank should be overseen by the UN watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency, Rumyantsev said.
"The IAEA is the organization that will have to develop the regulations and rules for such a mechanism," he said.
The United States is ready to convert HEU into LEU, which does not have a proliferation risk, and offer it to countries which give up the enrichment process, US Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said Monday in a statement read out on his behalf.
A senior US diplomat said the offer was made in order to "kick-start" the creation of a multinational fuel bank so that countries could have access to nuclear fuel without having the capability to make it themselves.
This so-called "break-out" capability is a proliferation risk since HEU can be either fuel for reactors or bomb material. LEU, which is also reactor fuel, is not a direct bomb risk.
Both US President George W. Bush and IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei have made proposals to create an international fuel service but details have never been made clear.
One problem is that there are abundant supplies of enriched uranium on the world market, experts have said.
The senior US diplomat said Bodman was trying to deliver the message "that the United States strongly supports the peaceful use of nuclear energy."
The diplomat said the exact amount of HEU the United States is ready to "blend down" is 17.4 metric tons, which is enough for hundreds of atom bombs and would make enough low enriched uranium to power 10 nuclear reactors.
The HEU is an amount "currently in the US inventory but declared in excess of national security needs."
The blended-down LEU will be "available about 2009."
IAEA officials said they had been alerted to the US offer but had not yet studied it.
1. Highly Enriched Uranium Recovered From Czech Technical University: HEU Fuel Returned to Russia, Reactor Conversion Process Underway
National Nuclear Security Administration
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PRAGUE - The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) announced today that 14 kilograms of highly enriched uranium (HEU) were safely and securely returned to the Russian Federation from the Czech Republic today under NNSA's Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) program.
The secret operation from the Czech Technical University in Prague was a joint effort between the United States, the Czech Republic, the Russian Federation, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The shipment was part of the prioritized, accelerated schedule implementing a key element of the Bush-Putin Bratislava Joint Statement on Nuclear Security Cooperation.
"The return of this highly enriched uranium is an important milestone in the administration's Global Threat Reduction Initiative campaign to reduce stockpiles of this high-risk, vulnerable material worldwide," said NNSA Administrator Linton F. Brooks. "It was only with the strong cooperation of the Czech Republic, Russia and IAEA that we were able to successfully complete this critical international nonproliferation project. In particular, I would like to congratulate the Czech Technical University for its assistance regarding this shipment."
The HEU, which could be used for nuclear weapons, was airlifted under guard from an airport near Prague, Czech Republic, to a secure facility in Dimitrovgrad, Russia, where the material will be down-blended to low enriched uranium (LEU). The United States has provided security upgrades at the facility in Russia under NNSA's U.S.-Russian Material, Protection, Control and Accounting Program.
Yesterday, during the first day of the two-day operation, approximately 14 kilograms of HEU were loaded into three specialized Russian transportation containers. IAEA safeguards inspectors and U.S. technical experts were present at the university to monitor the process of loading the fuel into the canisters. Today, a Russian airplane transported the HEU fuel back to Russia.
The HEU, originally supplied to the Czech Republic by the Soviet Union, was used as fuel for the Department of Nuclear Reactors of the Czech Technical University in its VR-1 Sparrow research reactor.
The repatriation of the HEU fuel from the VR-1 research reactor was part of the joint effort between the NNSA, the Russian Federation and the IAEA to convert the VR-1 reactor to operate on LEU fuel and supply new LEU fuel to the university. The VR-1 research reactor is the first Soviet-/Russian-supplied research reactor to convert to LEU fuel. At the end of July, the HEU fuel was discharged from the reactor in preparation for return to Russia. U.S. and Czech technical specialists conducted all necessary calculations to assure safe and efficient operation of the VR-1 research reactor using LEU fuel.
This is the eighth successful shipment of uranium returned to Russia under NNSA's GTRI program. To date, approximately 122 kilograms of fresh HEU have been repatriated to Russia from Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Libya, Uzbekistan, the Czech Republic, and Latvia. This is the second shipment of fresh HEU fuel from the Czech Republic this fiscal year and highlights the aggressive efforts of the GTRI program. With the successful completion of this mission, all Russian-origin fresh HEU fuel designated for repatriation has been removed from the Czech Republic.
The mission of the GTRI is to identify, secure, recover and/or facilitate the final disposition of high-risk vulnerable nuclear and radiological materials around the world as quickly as possible.
NNSA enhances U.S. national security through the military application of nuclear energy, maintains the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile, promotes international nuclear nonproliferation and safety, reduces global danger from weapons of mass destruction, provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion, and oversees its national laboratories to maintain U.S. leadership in science technology.
2. U.S. Advocates Global Network To Head Off Nuclear Terrorism;
Washington File: U.S. Department of State
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Given the current threat of global terrorism, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Robert Bonner says it is impossible to overstate the importance of intercepting dangerous weapons, production materials and delivery systems.
While addressing a September 14 air cargo workshop in Los Angeles, Bonner said the international community must do everything possible to intercept and deny terrorists access to assembled nuclear weapons, the fissile material and components needed to assemble them and required delivery systems.
The workshop brought experts from the fields of law enforcement, private industry, the military and customs, all of which have a vested interest in preventing such assets from falling into the wrong hands.
The United States and 60 other nations that participate in the two-year-old Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) clearly are concerned about preventing the illegal transfer of these weapons to rogue governments, Bonner said.
"But it is not just governments," he said, "We are here because the private sector -- especially the carriers of cargo -- know the supply chain. Such cargo carriers need to play a role in how PSI interceptions are conducted," the commissioner said, "whether thatï¿½s an oceangoing maritime carrier, or an international air cargo or express carrier."
Bonner said the workshop brought together a group of experts to grapple with the issue of how better to prevent airliners and their cargos from being used as a potential weapons delivery system by a hostile government or network.
The task, he said, "is to understand the requirements of nonproliferation security in the post-9/11 era: to find ways to work together to mold an international order and create global systems that are strong ... and connected enough to prevent global terrorists from acquiring or delivering a weapon of mass destruction."
The ultimate fear, Bonner said, is that there may be a nuclear weapon in a box traversing the seas or in the air hidden in a cargo container.
"Those containers could easily become bulky missiles -- crude, but nevertheless, missile delivery systems." That is why, he said, PSI can be viewed as "part of an anti-missile defense system."
Even if the al-Qaida network does not have a nuclear weapon now, Bonner said, the reality is that PSI must be expanded to prevent the terrorists from obtaining such a weapon or the special nuclear materials to make one. Al-Qaida must be prevented from delivering a nuclear device, he said.
"Nothing is more important for PSI. Nothing is more important to homeland security and the security of the global economy," Bonner said.
Even if the existing risk is small now, Bonner said, "we cannot afford to do anything but our utmost to develop the kind of security strategy that protects all modes of transportation from being used as the means to provide these terrorist groups with the ultimate instrument of terror, or from delivering it upon a target." If the United States were targeted successfully, he warned, "the consequences would be profoundly felt by all."
Part of the broader security strategy, according to the commissioner, is to prevent the introduction of, or cross-border movement of illegal nuclear, chemical or biological weapons-related materials, "but doing so in ways that do not impede the flow of legitimate cargo."
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