1. Defense company awarded U.S. HHS task order to support Biotechnology Engagement Program
Lab Business Week
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Raytheon Technical Services Company LLC (RTSC), a subsidiary of Raytheon Company (RTN), has been awarded a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) task order to provide technical and management support to the HHS Biotechnology Engagement Program (BTEP).
Through this 5-year task order, which has a base year and four 1-year options - and a potential value of up to $25 million, including options - RTSC will provide program management, scientific, technical and administrative support on existing HHS projects. RTSC will also help publicize and expand the program beyond the current group of sponsored scientists and institutes. Work will be performed primarily in Russia, as well as in Kazakhstan, Georgia and Armenia.
Administered by the HHS Office of Global Health Affairs (OGHA), the BTEP program is designed to encourage former Soviet biological and chemical weapons scientists not to proliferate their weapons-related expertise and to develop new civilian-oriented research skills.
The program encourages joint teams of Russian and Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) scientists with weapons of mass destruction (WMD) expertise to codevelop projects with U.S. experts and apply for support and cooperation in areas of research and development that address urgent public health concerns in Russia and the Eurasia region. Basic and applied research, technology development and demonstration and training projects are all candidates for BTEP support.
RTSC provides technology solutions for defense, federal and commercial customers worldwide. It specializes in mission support, counter-proliferation and counterterrorism, and base and range operations.
Raytheon Company, with 2004 sales of $20.2 billion, focuses on defense and government electronics, space, information technology, technical services, and business and special mission aircraft.
2. U.S., Russia Renew Science and Technology Cooperation Pact
Department of State
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The United States and the Russian Federation have extended for 10 years their bilateral Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement first signed in 1993.
The extension, which was signed during a ceremony at the Russian Embassy in Washington January 13, provides for the exchange of scientific and technical knowledge, the pursuit of advanced and applied scientific and technical projects and the augmentation of scientific and technical capabilities, according to a Department of State media note.
One example of U.S. and Russian cooperation is an innovative program to advance research and educate children about climate change in the Arctic. (See related article.)
For information on U.S.-Russian cooperation in space and nonproliferation and energy programs, see the Web site of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.
Following is the text of Department of State announcement:
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE Office of the Spokesman January 13, 2006
UNITED STATES AND THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION RENEW SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COOPERATION AGREEMENT
On January 13, 2006, the United States and the Russian Federation exchanged diplomatic notes to extend for 10 years the bilateral Science and Technology Cooperation (S&T) Agreement. The exchange of notes took place during a ceremony held at the Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C. The extension enables the continuation of the ongoing exchange of scientific and technical knowledge, the pursuit of advanced and applied scientific and technical projects, and the augmentation of scientific and technical capabilities.
U.S.-Soviet science and technology cooperation began in the Nixon Administration. After the fall of the USSR, the United States and Russia renewed and broadened cooperative science and technology activities with the signing of an S&T Agreement in 1993. With this extension, bilateral cooperation can continue until 2015.
U.S.-Russian collaboration has produced valuable basic and applied scientific information, databases, internet-based information sharing networks and excellent cooperative relationships for continuing and new activities.
Areas for continued and potential future cooperation include:
-- Vaccine and drug discovery;
-- Ecology of infectious diseases (such as avian influenza, TB, and HIV/AIDS);
-- Clean energy technologies (such as hydrogen);
-- Fundamental research in high energy and nuclear physics;
-- Fusion energy research;
-- Observational seismology;
-- Arctic research;
-- Science education and training;
-- Cooperation in promoting S&T innovation and entrepreneurship; and
-- Biodefense and counter-terrorism science and technology in such areas as food safety, border security, and support for first responders.
3. President reviews avian flu response - U.S.-funded lab performing diagnosis on suspected cases in Tbilisi - none found to date
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While laboratory tests have not revealed any cases of avian flu in Georgia, President Mikheil Saakashvili says he is amazed by the level of anxiety among Georgian citizens who immediately report any illness or death of birds.
"It's impressive how people react on this. We have a very organized society. People react on every case and contact the government without delay," the president said Saturday while meeting with the prime minister and minister of health to discuss the government's response to the avian flu.
He noted that all local mobile teams should be provided with necessary equipment as soon as possible. "I watched Adjara TV yesterday and I saw that the sanitary service there did not have the necessary clothes, however citizens call them first for checks," he said.
Minister of Health Lado Chipashvili responded that his ministry would supply all teams with equipment within two weeks.
Chipashvili said the ministry is trying its best to inform Georgians about the virus. The ministry has issued 200,000 informational booklets, and Chipashvili said Saturday the ministry also plans to launch presentations at educational institutions.
Prime Minister Zurab Noghaideli informed the president that seven response centers have been opened throughout Georgia and disinfection teams are working at borders with Turkey, Azerbaijan and Armenia.
"In addition to preventive measures, these centers are opened with the goal that if there is a spread of the virus, [they can] as soon as possible eliminate it," he said.
The opposition, meanwhile, has suggested that the government should report to Parliament on preventive measures it is taking to avoid an outbreak of the avian flu and the amount of money it needs to take these measures.
"Our government does not say if they need money, and some budgetary changes, to fight against the spread of the avian flu. This is the case when we prefer to cooperate with the government and not oppose it," MP David Berdzenishvili said Saturday.
The special mobile teams deployed throughout Georgia have received numerous calls from concerned citizens who have reported the death and illness of different types of birds from chicken to crows. However, no case of bird flu virus has been diagnosed to date.
Georgia is able to test for the virus here thanks to a laboratory for biological and chemical agents opened in Tbilisi last year with the funding of the U.S. government. The lab was opened as part of the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program. Georgia's Center for Disease Control operates the lab.
Coordinator of the mobile centers Levan Ramishvili checked the work of the response teams on Saturday. "All services are mobilized in Poti, and the hotline works in a 24-hour regime," Ramishvili told journalists in Poti. He also said all ships are being disinfected at port facilities.
Drivers who cross the border into Georgia have said they are unhappy that they must pay for the disinfection of their cars.
"I cannot pay this money as I drive back and forth very often," a driver at the Lagodekhi border with Azerbaijan told journalists. The government has decreed that the driver of a family car has to pay GEL 3.60, of marshrutka - GEL 4.80, of bus - GEL 9.60, and of cargo vehicles - GEL 12 for the disinfection.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reported Saturday three H5N1 infected people had been already discharged from hospitals in Turkey. "We have a total of 18 human bird flu cases - three dead, and three discharged," WHO spokeswoman Cristiana Salvi said as quoted by Reuters.
So far the virus has primarily infected birds but it has also infected about 150 people worldwide and killed at least 78.
While the United States and Europe debate what to do about Iran's plan to enrich uranium, arms control experts warn about a more present danger.
"The greatest opportunity for would-be nuclear terrorists or countries seeking a quick bomb or two are poorly secured sites that contain significant quantities of highly enriched uranium," states a paper in the January issue of Arms Control Today.
Unlike plutonium, HEU can be worked without special protections and can be made into a relatively simple bomb.
According to the authors, Alexander Glaser and Frank N. von Hippel, there are 258 shuttered nuclear reactors worldwide that have not been properly decommissioned. They contain between 50 and 100 metric tons of HEU, enough for 1,000 bombs -- and most are not under proper guard.
"Many of these facilities are in urban locations with only modest security, presenting potential targets to would-be nuclear terrorists. A large fraction are in Russia, which has yet to give adequate priority to cleaning out facilities containing HEU that is no longer needed. At several sites, there is enough HEU to make more than 10 gun-type weapons," the paper states.
Russia, which accounts for about one-third of the world's HEU-fueled reactors and more than half of the world's civilian HEU, has yet to make a commitment to convert or decommission any of its own HEU-fueled research reactors. President George W. Bush took pressure off of Russia to do so at a February 2005 summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The two leaders agreed to limit to "third countries" U.S.-Russian cooperative efforts to deal with the danger from HEU-fueled reactors.
China, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States account for more than 90 percent of the global civilian HEU inventories and demand.
5. Russia, US Extend Science, Technology Cooperation Agreement
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Russia and the United States have agreed to extend the validity of the intergovernmental scientific and technical cooperation agreement for a decade. The treaty lays down contacts, exchanges and joint projects in various spheres of science and technology. It was signed in 1993 and extended several times, but never before the extension was so lengthy.
Russian Ambassador to the United States Yuri Ushakov and U.S. Presidential Science Adviser John Marburger signed up the document extending the treaty validity at the Russian embassy in Washington on Friday. The officials said that the document opened a new epoch in the science and technology cooperation. U.S. governmental officials, scientists and Russian diplomats attended the ceremony.
Marburger welcomed the long-awaited event and recalled the long-standing history of scientific research in Russia. He said that bilateral cooperation in science and technology makes the Unites States and Russia stronger and helps them lay a technological foundation for economic prosperity. Applied science is the most promising sphere for cooperation, the adviser said. He singled out ecological, health care and energy programs.
Ushakov noted the mounting interest of Russia and the United States in bigger cooperation in the response to terrorism, nuclear and space research, biotechnologies, communication means, medicine and education. Joint projects of Russian and American specialists "contribute to the G8-led international efforts," the ambassador said. He welcomed the bilateral council for innovations, which had had a session in Moscow and would hold the next one in Washington in February.
1. Opinion & analysis - What the Russian papers say
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What is Tehran after?
General Director of the Center for Iranian Research Radzhab Safarov said the world should try to understand what Tehran is pursuing in order to avoid exacerbating the crisis around Iran's nuclear program.
Basing itself on international law and under the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) control, Tehran wants a nuclear program of its own, of an entirely peaceful nature. Iran is a signatory to the many pacts on non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. And the supervising agencies do not have evidence confirming that Iran's nuclear program has gone beyond its peaceful limits and that Tehran is violating some of the commitments it assumed.
A good deal now depends on Russia. Moscow is Tehran's principal partner in its nuclear program and Iran saved the Russian nuclear industry. The Bushehr nuclear power plant not only provided orders for Russian plants, but also allowed Russia to develop its nuclear industry further. Nuclear power is comparable to the arms industry in profitability.
By hampering Iran's nuclear program, western countries are also seeking to achieve another goal - squeezing Russia out of the lucrative Iranian power market. Construction of the Bushehr plant not only benefits Moscow economically, but it also provides it with long-term political leverage on Iran. The key country in the Islamic world is becoming Russia's strategic partner.
It is easy to guess the response in Iran and the future of Russia's image if, during this difficult time for Iran, Moscow joins the West and votes for sanctions, on top of what it did to Afghanistan in the past (leaving Najibullah at the mercy of the Taliban) and deserting Iraq just a couple of years ago.
2. Atomstroyeksport: Schedule of Work at Iranian Nuclear Plant Might Be Changed
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The schedule of construction and start-up work at Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant could be changed. The Russian company Atomstroyeksport, which runs the construction of the nuclear power plant, told ITAR-TASS news agency that "an Atomstroyeksport delegation is visiting Iran according to the previously-approved schedule of negotiations". The program of discussion also includes issues related to the schedule for the construction of the Bushehr power plant," the company said.
"Russian proposals to change the schedule of construction-assembly and start-up work at the nuclear power plant were motivated only by technological considerations," Atomstroyeksport explained. A company expert explained that this is normal practice. Such negotiations take place on a regular basis because new aspects emerge during construction work all the time." "Initially, the station in Bushehr, which Western companies had started to build, was planned as a different type of reactor," the expert pointed out.
"The preliminary approval of the final schedule of work to build the Bushehr nuclear power plant is scheduled for February," Atomstroyeksport said. The company stressed that "the construction of the nuclear power plant is continuing at a normal pace". More than 3,500 Russian specialists are working at the construction site at the moment.
Earlier reports said that according to the working schedule of the project, it is planned to launch the first generating set in Bushehr in the fourth quarter of 2006.
The Nuclear Club tries to strong-arm a large Middle Eastern country; While occupied with what it calls "nuclear research," Iran has found itself at the epicenter of a clash of interests between the United States, Russia, China, and Western Europe. Iran will not back down; Russia and China can't go on supporting it much further.
Vladimir Putin's meeting with newly-elected Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad in New York was an important political development last autumn. In fact, this meeting in New York revived Russian-Iranian contacts significantly. Some senior Iranian state officials, including Senior Vice President Goljam Reza Agazade and Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki, visited Moscow. Security Council Secretary Igor Ivanov and senior officials from the Russian Foreign Ministry visited Iran. In general, the Kremlin has been focusing more and more attention on Tehran.
Iran is a special interest zone for Russia. It lies in the middle of an "instability axis." Stable relations with Iran serve as a guarantee against unnecessary problems in the south, and - to some extent - against terrorism, drug trafficking, and other modern-day challenges.
Russian-Iranian trade contacts are fairly stable, if not very substantial. Their potential for development is considerable, but there are factors that obstruct them as well: external political interference being one of the most serious factors. The United States and Israel have already objected on more than one occasion to Russia's sales of conventional weapons to Iran, even though no existing international embargoes apply to the arms in question. Back in 2000, Moscow agreed to practically sever all trade contacts with Iran (the Gore-Chernomyrdin Pact); that decision was reversed only recently.
In late 2005, Russia and Iran signed their first major arms contract in five years: for Tor M-1 air defense systems and other military hardware. The first Iranian satellite was designed, assembled, and launched into orbit in Russia.
The Kremlin maintains that in all its relations and contacts with Tehran, Russia honors the principles of missile technology non-proliferation and WMD non-proliferation. Despite these assurances, the US Congress has imposed sanctions against a Russian university and several Russian companies, accusing them of supplying missile technologies to Iran.
Construction of a nuclear power plant at Bushehr in south-western Iran is a central project in Russian-Iranian cooperation. The contract Moscow and Tehran signed in 1992 involves completing construction of the first reactor at a power plant that Siemens abandoned due to pressure from America. Construction of the necessary buildings, a VVER-1000 reactor, and energy equipment with installation is estimated to cost $1 billion. About 500 specialists from Russia are working at the construction site, and up to 20,000 people in Russia are working on the Iranian contract.
At first, completion of the Bushehr nuclear power plant was scheduled for late 2005; then for spring 2006 (with delivery of fuel six months in advance). In the meantime, Russia has been saying for months that the reactor is "80% complete." Being somewhat less taciturn, the Iranians say that "construction is complete, and 80% of equipment has been installed." In any case, both sides have agreed to bring the power plant on line by the end of 2006.
Activating the Bushehr reactor will require about 90 tons of fuel. This fuel is currently stored in Novosibirsk. It will be delivered to the power plant right before the reactor is activated.
When should that be expected? We will know the answer to this question in February, when the final schedule for the power plant launch is set out on the agreement between Nuclear Energy Minister Sergei Kirienko and Iranian Ambassador Golam Reza Ansari. At his meeting with the Iranian diplomat on December 7, Kirienko was particularly eloquent regarding the need for cooperation with the IAEA.
The West has always tried to depict the Bushehr nuclear power plant as something related to Iran's plans to build a nuclear bomb. Former US Undersecretary of State for International Security John Bolton used to say that the Bushehr plant would make enough fissionable materials for 30 bombs per year.
In fact, the Bushehr nuclear power plant lacks any military aspects whatsoever. It is being built under IAEA supervision and will be operated under IAEA supervision as well. Moscow and Tehran reached an agreement last February that all spent nuclear fuel would be returned to Russia. All this eliminates the very possibility of Iran accumulating weapons-grade fissionable materials. Even the United States (Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice) has grudgingly acknowledged the civilian nature of the Bushehr nuclear power plant.
In fact, criticism of the Bushehr facility from across the ocean is fuelled by considerations of competition. It was the United States itself that initiated the Iranian nuclear program, by persuading the Shah to start a major program of nuclear power plant construction in order to save oil for exports. The Americans even supplied equipment for Iran's first research laboratories. These days, Rice claims that Iran, as an oil-producing country, doesn't need nuclear power plants at all. Western European corporations retain some interests in Iran as well.
But all these acknowledgements don't solve the problems created for Russian-Iranian cooperation by the conflict situation around Iran's nuclear program. The whole conflict is centered around Tehran's determination to build facilities where it will manufacture nuclear fuel for its own purposes. Tehran persists in its determination to set up a complete fuel cycle; it will not budge, either in talks with the IAEA or in negotiations with the European Trio (Britain, Germany, France). But the international community insists and demands that Iran should not have a complete fuel cycle.
Moscow has proposed a solution: processing uranium for Iran on the territory of Russia. The proposal postponed a transfer of the Iranian nuclear dossier to the UN Security Council, which the IAEA was almost ready to do in late November.
The Iranians took their time considering the offer. The Kremlin made the proposal to Tehran on at least three occasions: during Ivanov's visit to Tehran in early December, in the form of a diplomatic memorandum in mid-December, and at the talks in Tehran conducted by a Russian government delegation comprising Security Council Deputy Secretary Valentin Sobolev and Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak on January 7-8.
Tehran's first reaction was inexplicable. It stated that it had not received any such proposals. Moscow responded by making a formal announcement that a memorandum with proposals has been sent to Tehran. In the meantime, representatives of the Iranian authorities imply in unofficial contacts with the West that the only acceptable options are those that involved uranium processing on the territory of Iran itself.
The Iranian authorities unsealed three nuclear facilities on Monday, and this certainly stirred up the international community. IAEA Director Mohamed El-Baradei said that the international community is losing patience. The United States and the European Trio unanimously condemned Tehran. Even Iran's traditional defenders - Russia and China - criticized Tehran publicly for the first time. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Rice spoke by phone, and assured each other that the Iranian decision is a "major disappointment." A spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry officially mentioned that Beijing is "concerned."
Tehran's reliance on contacts with Russia and China, permanent members of the UN Security Council, has paid off until now. Moscow and Beijing value their trade and economic interests in Iran. Even that, however, doesn't really matter. Both Russia and China understand all too well that the Iranian crisis could deteriorate into an extremely dangerous international confrontation.
Although they sympathize with Tehran, Moscow and Beijing have never said they will forsake their obligations, as official members of the Nuclear Club, concerning WMD non-proliferation.
Other major players on the global scale, primarily the United States and Western European powers, have also become noticeably more active. In short, the Nuclear Club (the permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany) is trying to strong-arm a relatively large Middle Eastern country. All this means that Iran will remain at the geopolitical crossroads in the coming months.
Teheran's willingness to continue cooperation with the IAEA and consider a possible Russian-Iranian uranium-enrichment venture may play an important role in settling the Iranian nuclear issue, Andrei Kokoshin, a State Duma member and an ex-secretary of the Russian Security Council, believes.
"We welcome the statement of Iranian officials that Russia's proposal on establishing a joint Russian-Iranian uranium-enrichment venture is being closely examined by the Iranian government," Kokoshin told Interfax-Military News Agency on Tuesday.
According to him, the joint uranium-enrichment venture is a key to solving the problem, and finding a way out of the deadlock.
Kokoshin emphasized that Russia had the necessary scientific and technical capabilities for establishing such a venture, which would ensure Iran's legitimate interests in the sphere of civil nuclear development. In addition to that, it would be a major contribution to solving the urgent problem of the international energy security.
"It is also important that Iran is willing to continue cooperation with the IAEA and allow IAEA observers and other international watchdogs to visit its nuclear facilities," Kokoshin said.
The protracted, slow-moving intrigue around Iran's nuclear program accelerated sharply last week as the international seals on the research facility at Natanz were removed. The frustrated European "troika" -- France, Germany, and the UK -- interrupted their fruitless negotiations with Iran, and the United States strongly condemned Iranian actions while questioning the very rationale behind its "peaceful" intentions to possess a full nuclear cycle.
An important shift was also registered in Moscow: For the first time, a reasonably clear signal was sent that Russia would not object to the transfer of the Iranian "dossier" from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to the UN Security Council (Vremya novostei, January 13). Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, in an interview with Ekho Moskvy radio (text available at www.echo.msk.ru), very carefully chose the words he used to explain this shift without joining the ranks of what Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad calls "bullying states." Lavrov insisted that relations with Iran were not taking a turn to the worse and that Russia wanted to help it to avoid international isolation.
Moscow definitely has its own reasons for being upset with Iranian behavior besides unsealing the Natanz lab or creating outrage in the West with anti-Israeli rhetoric. Last fall Russia presented a plan for defusing this crisis through a joint venture with Iran that would build a uranium enrichment plant on Russian territory. The idea appeared acceptable for the European "troika" and even the unenthusiastic United States was ready to give it a try. The Kremlin saw a rare opportunity to make a difference in resolving a crucial international issue. This initiative could have been a crowning moment in Russia's chairmanship of the G-8, which is a matter of colossal personal importance for President Vladimir Putin. All that was needed for this sweet triumph was an expression of interest from Tehran but, after several lukewarm signals, it bluntly turned down the plan in the first week of this year (Gazeta.ru, January 14). Moscow, apparently, cannot quite believe in the collapse of its cherished initiative, and Lavrov recited again the economic benefits of importing the ready-made fuel, while Sergei Kirienko, the newly appointed head of the Federal Nuclear Power Agency, Rosatom, confirmed his readiness to visit Tehran and explain every detail of the proposal (Izvestiya, January 13).
While selling this initiative, Moscow increased its efforts to sell arms to Iran; in December 2005 an agreement on exporting Tor-M1 surface-to-air missiles was finalized, and deliveries scheduled for the first half of this year. Russian experts argued that these missiles, due to their short range, could not provide reliable coverage of nuclear facilities but would be perfect for protecting the more complex C-300 missile system (Gazeta.ru, January 13). According to usually well-informed Kommersant (January 13), a Russian delegation interrupted the negotiations on exporting C-300 missiles and returned to Moscow last week in order to show Russia's disappointment at Iran's lack of interest. In a surprisingly fast response to this article, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov asserted that there had never been any plans for selling C-300 to Iran and no negotiations had been held (Newsru.com, January 13).
Kommersant (January 14), nevertheless, stands by its report and reminded its readers that in 2005 it had revealed plans to export surface-to-surface Iskander missiles to Syria. The defense minister also firmly denied that account, only to have it later confirmed by Putin, who characterized it as a "military initiative" that had been stopped by his intervention. What makes the latest "leak" plausible is the fact that a Russian delegation led by Valentin Sobolev, deputy secretary of the Security Council and former deputy chief of the FSB with the rank of colonel-general, had a series of "closed-door" meetings in Tehran for two days seeking to achieve a last-minute breakthrough.
Moscow appears ready to grant its consent to tackling the Iranian issue in the UN Security Council at a January 16 meeting in London, and it hardly expects that a cautious China would block this move. In some ways, debates around the top security table in the world, where it has a veto, suit Russia better than the deliberations in the IAEA, where expert opinions often carry more weight than political intrigues. However, there is little doubt that the forthcoming UN debates would be centered on the issue of sanctions, which is certainly a tricky one since Iran could always respond by reducing (even slightly) its oil exports -- and that could push already astounding oil prices to a stratospheric level. The two most logical avenues for sanctions could be arms exports and nuclear cooperation, and they both affect Russia's interests quite directly. As of now, Moscow could still insist that its work on constructing the nuclear power station in Bushehr (which should be finished this October) and readiness to supply nuclear fuel for it under the IAEA safeguards is an entirely different matter than the controversy over uranium enrichment. In the UN however, it could be proven beyond reasonable doubt that Bushehr is as much a part of the Iranian nuclear program as is Natanz -- and no veto could disprove this fact.
Russia intends to continue its maneuvering, presenting itself simultaneously as a responsible member of the G-8 and as Iran's "best friend," and may even score some tactical points -- but it stands to loose a crucially important commodity in international relations: trust. Lavrov heavily emphasized this point in his interview, arguing that Iran could not exercise its right to develop a nuclear program until it regains the trust of the international community, which had been lost when parts of that program were concealed.
Lavrov definitely has a point, but there is also a question lurking beneath the surface: How could Iran trust Russia to supply it with nuclear fuel when Moscow shows such short-sighted arrogance when it comes to supplying Ukraine with natural gas? A larger question is about the trust in the non-proliferation regime that was built upon the commitment of five nuclear powers to eliminate their arsenals. Defense Minister Ivanov solemnly confirmed last week that Russia considers nuclear weapons to be the central element of its security system (Vedomosti, January 12). How can a non-nuclear country trust that such a nuclear-dependent and self-centered neighbor would guarantee its security?
6. Russia: Analyst Says Moscow Will Not Follow West's Cue On Iran
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Russia in the past has discouraged a push by the United States and Europe to refer Iran to the United Nations Security Council over its pursuit of a complete nuclear fuel cycle the West fears could be used to make atomic weapons. But Moscow has signaled a change in its stance toward Tehran. In recent days, officials including Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov have indicated they would not block a Security Council referral, although they would likely still oppose sanctions. Vladimir Mukhin, a military analyst with the Russian newspaper "Nezavisimaya gazeta" and a professor at the country's Academy of Military Sciences, spoke on 11 January to Ivanov about Iran. Mukhin told RFE/RL Tajik Service correspondent Iskander Aliev about the interview.
Vladimir Mukhin: I'm curious whether a military scenario would unfold after Iran continues its nuclear tests. [Russian Defense Minister Sergei] Ivanov said he was concerned. Of course, he was echoing a statement by the Foreign Ministry. However, the day before, he said he was hoping that tensions between Iran and the West would not develop into armed conflict.
Why such a statement? Probably because the Russian chiefs of staff are not excluding the possibility of a military solution. That's exactly what we're thinking about right now. Why? Because it is clear that Iran is challenging the West, particularly the United States, but also, to some extent, Russia. Tehran rejected Russia's proposal to enrich Iranian uranium on our soil, saying they wanted to do it on their own. We can speculate, with some certainty, on Iran's desire to build an A-bomb and, if we have sufficient basis for suspicion, then military action against Tehran will be highly likely.
The Americans have been the first to prepare for this. In the press, we have already seen some analyses of how things could play out. Several times last year, [U.S. President George W. Bush] hinted that the United States might have to confront Iran in order to depose the harsh regime and create an Iraq-style government. To what extent is this likely? I think the possibility certainly exists, and the longer Iran continues these nuclear tests, the higher the probability of it happening. Most likely, Russia and China will block the handing over of the so-called nuclear dossier [to the UN Security Council].
It is not profitable for Russia to impose sanctions on Iran, since we just recently signed an agreement to sell them nearly $1 billion worth of medium-range anti-aircraft weapons. These modern weapons are capable of hitting targets of up to 25 kilometers away and will probably be used to defend various testing sites in Iran. Therefore, if some attempt is made to strike at the country and the deliveries from Russia are made quickly enough, we can expect a strong response. In other words, Iran will be able to defend itself. However, if ballistic missiles are used, then nuclear sites can be targeted effectively. We must not forget that Russia has its experts working on some of these sites, and is not interested in a military scenario, if only to protect them.
China has similar interests, because it buys oil from Iran. The Americans are a viable threat, since they have virtually surrounded Iran. First of all, they have planes stationed at air bases in U.S.-occupied Afghanistan, so that is one place they can strike from. At the same time, there is Iraq. There is also the possibility that in the case of an attack, the United States will use Azerbaijan. There has recently been such a tendency and communications outposts are already being developed on the border with Iran. These are troubling symptoms of a potential military conflict. This is very alarming. I am 100 percent sure that Russia will block any sanctions because it profits from trade with Iran and loses out from sanctions against the country. At the same time, Russia understands that the Iranian regime is taking certain false steps and this is where diplomacy must be put to work. Right now, it is difficult to say what success this diplomacy will have, because Iran is currently behaving with confidence and even defiance. These are my prognoses.
RFE/RL: Yesterday, members of Russia's Security Council...reported that although Russia's proposal concerning Iran's possible enriching of uranium on Russian soil was rejected, the next stage of talks will take place in Moscow in February and this topic will come up again. Do you think we can anticipate a change in the stance of either side, Iran or Russia?
Mukhin: You mean whether Iran will agree to enrich its uranium in Russia?
Mukhin: I wouldn't exclude this possibility. Why? Because Russia has ways in which it can pressure Iran. First, there is the weapons supply. There haven't been any supplies to Iran in a long time and the army is demanding new equipment. This is one argument. The other is that Iran and Russia have common interests around the Caspian Sea and if Iran wants to pursue close relations with Russia, this will be an area where influence can be gained by either side. Perhaps, Russia will offer more advanced weapons to Iran, including systems like the S-300, which we supplied to Syria. Iran, of course, is a different kind of country. It is rich, and if Russia wants to, it has ways of persuading Tehran.
RFE/RL: What is the range of the S-300?
Mukhin: Up to 300 kilometers. The equipment I was talking about earlier is for protecting sites on the ground. The S-300, on the other hand, can intercept a ballistic missile. This is one of Russia's strongest cards, since Iran's priority right now is the protection of its territory. The country is basically surrounded by NATO bases and American bases, so sooner or later the conflict could develop into a military one.
RFE/RL: Are there any other details that you, as a military specialist, would like to add that I haven't asked you about yet?
Mukhin: I think that given the current situation, Russia will not take any serious steps or follow the West's cue. As I already mentioned, Russia will probably defend its own interests while helping Iran solve this problem. The reasoning is military and geopolitical. Moscow really doesn't like American activity in the South Caucasus.... Moscow will never go for a souring of relations with Iran, no matter what Iran does. Right now, Iran can act as an ally, because there is the current question of Iran joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. It has already been accepted as an observer [just like India] and in this particular case Russia will profit from creating some sort of alliance with Iran to resist the expansion of NATO and the United States in the South Caucasus and the Middle East. These are important goals for Moscow, and our understanding [of them] allows us to predict what [Moscow] will be doing in the future.
RFE/RL: One last question. Next Monday [16 January], the presidents of Iran, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan plan to meet on the border between Iran and Afghanistan [eds. meeting has since been cancelled]. It has something to do with a highway that will connect the three countries. Iran has lately been investing more in the Tajik economy. Do you think that Russia will support this activity in the future? After all, it wants to have influence in the region.
Mukhin: I will say this. In Tajikistan, Iran is no competition for Russia. I am 100 percent sure of this and Moscow's desire to build new factories to produce aluminum is key here. One single factory would double Tajikistan's GDP. You know well that Tajikistan's GDP is only $3 billion. Russia's military budget is $20 billion. Tajikistan is a poor country with good resources, so Russia profits from the investment, even if it comes from Iran. This isn't bad at all. It revives the country and Russia benefits from a stronger Tajikistan, so in this case Iran's actions are only welcome. You may be aware that currently, with India's help, Tajikistan is modernizing the airfield in Aigi and a new Russian air base will be stationed there. Again, there is no competition here, but simply geopolitical pragmatism. This is why I think Russia's, Iran's, and India's goals in Tajikistan, as well as in Central Asia in general, should only be welcomed.
7. RUSSIAN EXPERT SAYS RUSSIA CANNOT INFLUENCE IRAN
BBC Monitoring International Reports
(for personal use only)
Excerpt from report by Russian Mayak radio on 13 January
[Presenter] Defence Minister Sergey Ivanov has denied reports by some media outlets that a Russian delegation has allegedly visited Iran and held talks on the sale to that country of S-300 long-range air-defence missile systems. Regarding Iran's nuclear programme, the minister indicated that the handing of the Iranian dossier to the UN Security Council is possible, if Tehran does not review its position. Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinezhad says he will not make any concessions.
Yekaterina Nekrasova reports about the conflict surrounding Iran.
[Correspondent] The resumption by Iran of its nuclear programme is now top news in all European countries. [Passage omitted]
However, some Russian officials still continue to show restraint. Russia's permanent representative at the UN, Andrey Denisov, has stated that it is too early to involve the Security Council. Experts explain that such statements are related to the interests of military departments. Only at the end of last year, Russia and Iran signed an agreement on supplies of our Tor-M1 air-defence missile systems worth 700m dollars. If the situation worsens, the fate of a new contract on supplies of S-300 systems, which is also very profitable, could become very problematic. But despite the ambiguous situation in which Russia has found itself, political relations with Iran will have to be sacrificed, believes the deputy director of research at the Council for Foreign and Defence Policy, Dmitriy Suslov.
[Suslov] The latest talks between Russia and Iran have shown that Russia does not have political influence over Iran and is incapable of forcing the Iranian leadership to carry out the enrichment of uranium on Russia's soil and not on Iran's soil. As is known, this is a Russian proposal, which - it seems to me - was the last chance to avoid the handing of Iran's dossier over to the UN Security Council and it has been rejected.
[Correspondent] The Iranian president today responded to all the threats with his ultimatum. We will not cede ground one iota, and if you hand the dossier over to the Security Council, then we will leave the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] altogether. This, in turn, threatens the world with big trouble, believes the director general of the Modern Iranian Studies Centre, Radzhab Safarov.
[Safarov] Iran is currently a member of the IAEA, a member of various agreements on non-proliferation and a convention [unspecified which] and this allows the international community to have legal levers of influence and control over Iran's nuclear programme. In that case [if it leaves the IAEA], Iran frees itself from any obligations and will be developing its nuclear programme completely independently and to its own discretion. In that case, the world will come to the verge of a new global crisis.
[Correspondent] Although Great Britain today officially stated that sanctions against Iran will in no case mean military actions, analysts already consider the implications of use of force. The most innocent retaliatory step by Iran will be the closure of the Persian Gulf, which will instantly cause oil prices to soar up to at least 100 dollars a barrel.
Senior United Russia deputies said Tuesday that the party would make sure that "substantial sums" from the federal budget were directed at the development of Russia's next generation of nuclear reactors. The initial 1 billion rubles ($ 33 million) allocated from the 2006 budget for the BN-800 fast neutron reactor project will be followed by regular financial backing, with the next installment possible before the end of the year, Viktor Opekunov, head of the State Duma's subcommittee for nuclear energy, said at a news conference Tuesday.
United Russia will also use its Duma majority to push for the use of the state investment fund, which is linked to the petrodollar-collecting stabilization fund, for the financing, said Andrei Burenin, a member of the Duma's Budget and Taxes Committee.
"In some areas of nuclear energy we have already fallen behind, but with the right support, Russia can maintain leadership in certain parts of it," Opekunov said.
Supporting innovation and research, along with diversifying the economy, was one of the main themes of United Russia's year-end congress, at which party leader and Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov vowed to make sure more budget funding went toward research into nuclear energy, machine-building and space technology.
"We want to invest in enterprises that can alter the economic map of our country, diminishing our country's reliance on natural resources," said Andrei Kokoshin, head of the Duma's CIS Affairs and Relations With Russian Nationals Abroad Committee.
In the nuclear sector, backing will primarily go to the development of fast neutron reactors those that can process relatively highly enriched uranium or plutonium and floating nuclear energy stations, a technology that Russia has been pioneering, Opekunov said.
The first BN-800 fast neutron reactor has been earmarked for the Belayarskaya nuclear power station and requires 46 billion rubles ($ 1.59 billion) in investment, Sergei Kiriyenko, head of the Federal Atomic Energy Agency, said last month.
Although the allocation of 1 billion rubles is barely 2 percent of the required investment, the budget allocation for research and development on such a scale is "unprecedented," agency spokesman Sergei Novikov said Tuesday.
If the rate of funding picks up, allowing Russia to build BN-800 reactors within five to six years, the country could maintain a leading position in a niche many industry insiders call the future of nuclear energy, he said.
"A lot depends on United Russia's support. They are the controlling party in the parliament, and they are instrumental in allocating budget funds," Novikov said.
Nuclear energy has sharply risen to the top of the nation's political agenda, as and President Vladimir Putin met with his Ukrainian and Kazakh counterparts last week to agree on a strategy to unite their efforts in the sector.
The political will to develop nuclear energy technology that is both suitable for domestic needs as well as a commercially viable export will be key, Vladimir Orlov, director of the Moscow-based PIR Center, which monitors nuclear policy, said by telephone from Geneva.
"The BN-800 project could bring us a lot. Not many people have heard of it, but it is one of Russia's key projects," Orlov said. Potential export markets for fast neutron reactor technology would be China, India, Brazil and Southeast Asia, he said.
"These reactors are unique in that they cannot be switched to military use" as they are proliferation-resistant, Orlov said, referring to reactors that have fuel cycles that are almost impossible to turn from civilian aims to military purposes.
Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko said on January 13 that his country should produce its own nuclear fuel for its power plants, part of the Westward-leaning leader's effort to reduce its reliance on Russia for energy following a bitter dispute over natural gas prices.
''We must change our uranium policy -- our policy on the use of uranium for peaceful purposes,'' Yushchenko said on national television. ''We must cooperate with international allies on a serious political and economic level so that we can have a full cycle of processing and production of nuclear fuel.''
4. Govt To Support Federal Nuclear Centers - Kiriyenko
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The government will do its best to support fundamental science and federal nuclear centers, Federal Atomic Energy Agency head Sergei Kiriyenko said at a Sunday meeting with researchers from the Sarov federal nuclear center.
"Any review of the status of Russian nuclear centers is out of the question," Kiriyenko said.
He lauded the participation of Sarov nuclear researchers in the development of a special economic zone and a techno-park in the Nizhny Novgorod region. The scientific and technical potential of the region makes one feel optimistic about the projects' success, he said.
5. Russia's Mikhailov Says UN Sanctions May Hinder Completion of Bushehr Plant
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U.N. Security Council sanctions against Iran, should they ever be taken, may hinder work to complete the construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant's first reactor, Russia's former Atomic Energy Minister, Viktor Mikhailov, has said.
"Besides, Russia's default on the inter-government agreement and a number of related contracts as a result of such sanctions is fraught with great financial losses," Mikhailov said after the European troika and the United States declared their intention to take the Iranian issue to the U.N. Security Council and to impose economic sanctions on Teheran.
Mikhailov recalled that "Russia has certain experience of curtailing cooperation in the field of nuclear technologies and freezing nuclear power plant construction projects in North Korea and Cuba, which caused great losses."
"We had to end cooperation with North Korea after building a research reactor there, providing nuclear fuel, conducting extensive work to select sites for several nuclear power plants and training personnel," he said.
In Cuba, the Juragua nuclear power plant project was frozen at the 80-percent completion stage. That decision was not connected with sanctions by the international community, though, Mikhailov said.
In such cases most specialists are recalled from the construction site, except for a small supervision group. This is precisely what happened to the Juragua project.
Russia's former atomic energy minister believes that a stalled nuclear plant construction project can be unfrozen even after a ten to fifteen-year suspension.
However, "the forced idleness of the assembled equipment will have adverse effects on the ultimate construction costs," he warned.
"Who will pay for the suspension of construction and the replacement of some parts, pipelines and control and safety equipment and for default on the inter-government contract will depend on the terms the customer country and contractor country will be able to agree on after the sanctions have been lifted," Mikhailov said.
He recalled that it cost Russia tens of millions of dollars to mothball the semi-finished Juragua nuclear power plant, suspended in 1992.
The chief of the Atomstroiexport company's Bushehr nuclear power plant construction department, Vladimir Pavlov has told Itar-Tass that work on the project proceeds as usual and no plans for evacuating the 3,500 Russian specialists have been considered.
6. RUSSIAN REACTOR DEVELOPMENT; PLOUGHING THE WAVES
O. B. Samoilov, A. V. Kurachenkov, V. I. Alekseev, A. I. Eliseev, A. N. Lepekhin and A. A. Falkov
Nuclear Engineering International
(for personal use only)
While one floating nuclear plant is already destined for a shipyard in northwestern Russia, more advanced designs are being developed.
OKBM's 325MWe VBER-300 reactor plant is based on marine modular reactors and guided by OKBM's long-term experience in the development, fabrication, and operation of marine reactor plants.
VBER-300 is a promising power source for cogeneration plants and floating power plants with a short construction period and attractive economics. It would also solve the problems of creating regional nuclear power sources for heat and power supply as well as the expansion of nuclear power's application areas. The VBER-300 design does not require fundamental R&D work - a crucial factor in the deployment of a new design.
Main technical features
The VBER-300 is a pressurised water reactor, the most proven class of reactor in the world and represents an evolution of the marine unit. The VBER-300 reactor unit is shown in the Figure and its main data described in the Table on page 19. Its main features are:
- Modular design providing a compact reactor unit. The reactor, steam generators, and main circulation pump are connected by short nozzles without long pipelines.
- Four-loop leaktight primary system.
- Once through modular coil steam generator.
- Core assembled of VVER-1000 TVSA-type fuel from full-size PWR units that correspond to the general VVER nuclear fuel cycle but with reduced power density.
- Application of passive safety systems.
- Application of proven processes of installation, repair, and equipment replacement, as well as monitoring, diagnostics and instrumentation.
In the course of design development, the thermal capacity of the basic design option was increased from 850 to 900MWt during optimisation of mass and size characteristics using the same external configuration and basic design decisions for reactor unit. Secondary pressure was also increased at the same time.
The power range of the series was extended owing to the application of two- or three-loop configurations of the primary system using standard VBER-300 equipment. Plants of various power (150-325MWe) were developed to satisfy the entire spectrum of anticipated regional demands.
Reactor core, fuel cycle
The VBER core concept is based on maximum use of the technical solutions developed and proven during VVER-type core design and operation.
The core uses TVSA type shroudless fuel assemblies (FAs) with a skeleton structure developed by OKBM. The high operation reliability and safety of TVSA has been confirmed by the operation of the design at the Kalinin VVER-1000 units. The adoption VBER core and FA designs provides FA geometric stability and core neutronic and thermohydraulic characteristics stability respectively. Technical decisions for VBER FA and core design are validated completely by positive experience of VVER-1000 operation.
The core for all reactor plant design options is composed of 85 hexahedral FAs arranged in the nodes of a regular 236mm-pitch triangular lattice located inside the reactor cavity. Core height is 2900mm; circumscribed diameter, 2420mm.
When using standard VVER uranium dioxide fuel, three-batch refuelling intervals come every two years, and for metal-ceramic fuel in silumin matrix, every three years.
The low power density of cores in two- and three-loop VBER options as well as the mild conditions of fuel operation and the decreased heat rating of the fuel provide the possibility to implement long-term fuel cycles. Fuel cycles based on metal-ceramic fuel with single core refuelling and a refuelling interval of 10-15 years can be considered.
The use of U-235 fuel with a maximum enrichment of 20% meets IAEA requirements for non-proliferation.
Basic decisions on the safety of the VBER-300 power unit were made in terms of the system concept, integrating experience and progress in power generation and marine power safety provision with requirements dictated by proximity to large inhabited areas and by provision of resistance against external impacts (including terrorist acts).
Engineering decisions on safety provision correspond to global tendencies, followed by all designers of new reactor plants with enhanced safety, namely:
- Priority for measures preventing accidents, design simplification.
- Inherent reactor self-protection properties.
- Implementation of the defence-in-depth principle.
- Employing passive safety systems.
- Improvement of resistance against external impacts (including terrorism).
- Mitigation of severe accident consequences.
The VBER-300 cogeneration plant safety is provided by the requirements of Russian federal laws, standards and codes for nuclear power plant safety, safety concepts developed by the world community and consolidated in IAEA safety guides, as well as the requirements of foreign and national utilities for advanced nuclear plants.
In designing the VBER-300, great attention was paid to ensuring inherent plant self-protection properties: to provide reactor power and self-shutdown; to limit pressure and temperature, coolant heating rate, primary circuit depressurisation size and coolant outflow rate. The drive for passive safety to maintain reactor integrity in severe accidents resulted in the following technical features resistant to various disturbances including personnel errors and acts of sabotage:
- Negative temperature reactivity coefficients for fuel and coolant, specific coolant volume, as well as negative void and integral power reactivity coefficients.
- Decreased core power density (less than 72kW/l) as compared with marine and VVER-1000 reactors.
- Steady-state natural circulation of coolant in all heat transfer circuits that would provide heat removal from a shutdown reactor.
- Modular design with no long primary pipelines of large diameter.
- Limitation of the primary circuit depressurisation size owing to small diameter orifices in the nozzles of auxiliary systems that would eliminate medium and large loss of coolant accidents (LOCAs) in combination with the modular design.
- Possibility of LOCA changeover to steam outflow due to connection of the primary pipelines at the elevations above the core that mitigates the requirements for RCCS flow rate characteristics.
- Limitation of secondary circuit heat removal capacity increase and primary circuit subcooling due to once through steam generator application in case of steam line break.
The following main safety systems are provided as a part of reactor plant:
- Emergency reactor shutdown system.
- Emergency heat removal system (EHRS).
- Emergency reactor core cooling system (RCCS).
- Accident confinement systems involving a double containment system and isolation valves on auxiliary and interface systems of the primary circuit.
- Reactor vessel cooling system.
The emergency reactor shutdown system consists of a mechanical system which uses motor drives to insert control rods into the core under power, or passively under gravity in the event of pressure switch activation during a plant power failure. There is also a liquid absorber injection system.
The EHRS consists of passive channels and water tanks which are capable of removing core heat over a 72-hour period. There are also active channels of heat removal via the purification system heat exchanger and process condenser. The effectiveness of similar passive heat removal systems has been confirmed in test facilities and in marine steam supply system cooling without storage batteries.
The RCCS involves hydroaccumulators of the first and second stages with different flow rate characteristics, which provide core cooling over 24 hours, makeup and recirculation system pumps.
To provide safety system reliability the following basic principles were implemented:
- Passive safety through the function of systems which keep plant parameters within specified design limits within the entire range of design basis accidents over a 24-hour minimum.
- Redundancy and diversity.
- Failsafe design and train separation to avoid common cause failures.
- Control system redundancy and diversity owing to the use of self-actuated devices.
To protect plant personnel and the general population against design basis and beyond design accidents, special engineering features are provided for the containment:
- A passive system of heat removal from the containment which limits containment pressure during a loss of coolant accident.
- Separation of functions protecting against external natural and man-made impacts as well as resistance to internal emergency impacts.
- The containment of the reactor unit compartment consists of the inner metal shell and outer reinforced concrete shell.
- The outer shell of solid reinforced concrete is designed to withstand external emergency impacts including aircraft impact.
- An iodine and aerosol purification system in the inter-shell space (between containment and protective enclosure) to mitigate radioactive leaks from the containment during the accidents involving pressure increases.
VBER-300 cogeneration plant buildings, systems, and equipment are developed to withstand natural and man-made impacts and to be deployable at a wide range of sites. Impacts considered during design included earthquakes, wind loads, low and high temperatures, aircraft part impacts, whole aircraft impacts and shock waves, among others.
The VBER-300 has the advantages typical for modular reactors: high levels of reliability and survivability confirmed by extensive experience of prototype operation in ships and nuclear ice-breakers, which have total operating experience of more than 6000 reactor years.
Design basis accidents were analysed for safety validation in accordance with regulatory documentation requirements. It was shown that safety operation limits were not exceeded in any of the studied accidents. In addition, a wide range of beyond design accidents was also analysed, including a set of safety system failures and/or wrong decisions from personnel in addition to initiating events:
- Transients with safety actuation systems failures.
- Plant blackout with failure of control safety system or EHRS channels.
- Primary pipeline break with blackout or RCCS failure. In this scenario, emergency actuation by pressure-operated switch from the direct pressure in the reactor vessel terminated accident progress. Water supplied to the reactor from hydroaccumulators provided core and fuel maintenance under coolant for 24 hours.
Although the possibility of a core melt under high pressure is eliminated by the operation of a passive system, mitigating conditions for core melt confinement have been created inside the reactor: reduced power density; a substantial time margin before the onset of melting; and low thermal fluxes from any melt at the bottom of the pressure vessel.
A system is provided to cool down the reactor vessel through reactor cavity flooding with a special hydroaccumulator. In an accident scenario, the system would later function in passive mode due to condensate returning from the containment through tanks and pipes.
The VBER-300's reduced core power density, rather low decay heat release at the stage of core degradation and lower volume of core materials provide reduced thermal loads (q approx 150kW/m2) from a melt at the vessel bottom as compared with medium power reactors such as the Loviisa VVER-440 in Finland and the Westinghouse AP600.
A severe VBER-300 accident involving a primary system auxiliary pipeline guillotine break was analysed. Additional failures resulting in the loss of all alternating current sources and the failure of all active means of water supply to the reactor were postulated. It was shown that under those circumstances there would occur reactor vessel submelting, but reliable heat removal from the outer surface of the vessel bottom is provided, and the mechanical properties of the reactor vessel under originating temperature differences remained sufficient to provide load-bearing capability. The task of core melt confinement in VBER-300 vessel was successfully solved.
Evaluation of these consequences showed that in case of accidents with severe core damage, permissable emergency radiation doses for the general local population would not be exceeded and the evacuation of beyond the emergency response area would not be required. The boundary of emergency response area is at most 1km from the plant.
The radiation safety of VBER-300 is provided by fulfilment of specified requirements for limitation of radiation impact on personnel, population, and environment. Radiation dose for population beyond the site boundary is negligible at 0.01% of background radiation. Even during design basis accidents, radiation levels at the site boundary would not practically change, increasing by only 5% under the worst radiological consequences.
Floating power plant efficiency is ensured by the following factors: power unit construction at a shipyard; reduced specific capital costs; reliable power supply; easy decommissioning; and the possibility to dispose of the floating power unit with specialised enterprises that using proven nuclear ship disposal technology.
A floating power unit would be constructed under plant conditions in a highly industrialised area, tested and handed over on a turnkey basis with minimum scope for construction and assembly operations at site. The result would be a variety of autonomous nuclear power units with acceptable efficiency.
When developing floating power plants with VBER reactors, experience gained during the design of the KLT-40-based plant destined for Severodvinsk in the Arkhangelsk region was taken into account. That plant has been contracted for construction and licensed by Rostechnadzor, the Russian industrial and environmental regulator.
A floating nuclear power plant with two reactors would be a non-self-propelled autonomous floating installation treated as a rack-mount ship in the Russian Marine Register classification. The power unit would be arranged on a platform consisting of three (one central and two peripheral) pontoons.
Using two VBER reactors and two turbogenerators to give a total of 650MWe, PAES-600 has attractive characteristics from the commercial viewpoint and high export potential as a source of electricity or process heat for industrial use or seawater desalination.
On the basis of solutions developed for two-reactor floating plants, the option of a one-reactor floating power unit was developed, allowing implementation of floating nuclear power with lower dimensions and draught. Such floating power units could be located in shallow coastal water areas: PAES-300 is a floating installation of approx. 17,000t displacement, 29m width, approx. 180m length and 4m maximum draught.
The PAES-150 floating power unit with two-loop VBER units uses a catamaran (twin-hull) architecture, consisting of two separately constructed hulls connected afloat in a single structure in water areas of a shipyard or ship repair yard.
The development work shows that PAES-150 hulls can be constructed at various Russian national shipyards and transported through the Volga-Don canal to coastal factories. After completion, PAES-150 is supplied to potential buyers in Russia or abroad, possibly on 'construct-own-operate' terms. There is the possibility that many countries with appropriate shipbuilding facilities could participate in floating nuclear plant construction.
VBER DESIGN OPTIONS
Number of heat removal loops 4 3 2 Thermal power, MWt 900 650 450 Electric power in condensation mode, MWe 325 230 150
VBER-300 MAIN DATA
PARAMETER VALUE Thermal power, MWt 900
Electric power, MWe 325
Primary coolant pressure, MPa 15.7
Coolant temperature, deg C - outlet 331 - inlet 297
1. Defense ministry to prioritize high-tech weaponry - Ivanov
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Russia's defense minister called Tuesday for more funds to be spent on the procurement of high-tech weapons than on the country's nuclear deterrent.
Sergei Ivanov, who is also deputy prime minister, said, "At present, more than 50% of the state defense order goes on the nuclear deterrent. This is not right, although we will continue to pay particular attention to this component, maintain its high level and develop it even further."
However, Russia, with its vast territory, could survive and defend itself only if it possessed new, sophisticated weaponry, the minister told a news conference.
"In the future, we will prioritize high-tech weapons," he said, adding that the Russian army should be balanced and not "skewed" toward a particular component.
1. 'Only a matter of time before terrorists use weapons of mass destruction' Biological threat is the gravest, American security chief
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BIOLOGICAL weapons pose a far more serious long-term terrorist threat to the West than nuclear weapons, according to Washington's leading counter-terrorism expert.
And Henry "Hank'' Crumpton, the newly-appointed head of counter-terrorism at the US state department, believes that it is simply a matter of time before international terrorist groups such as al-Qa'eda acquire weapons of mass destruction and use them in attacks.
In an exclusive interview with The Daily Telegraph, Mr Crumpton, who previously spent 20 years working for the Central Intelligence Agency, warned yesterday that the "war on terror'' was likely to last for decades.
"This threat has changed the way we will fight wars in the future,'' he said. "We are talking about micro targets such as al-Qa'eda which, when combined with WMD, have a macro impact. I rate the probability of terror groups using WMD [to attack Western targets] as very high. It is simply a question of time.
"And it is not just the nuclear threat that bothers me. I think, if anything, the biological threat is going to grow. As catastrophic as a nuclear attack would be, it would be self-contained.
"But if you look at a worst-case scenario for a biological attack, it would be difficult to determine whether or not it was a terrorist attack, and it would be far more difficult to contain.''
After the September 11 attacks on the United States in 2001, Mr Crumpton, who was then a senior CIA officer, played a leading role in the campaign to overthrow the Taliban and destroy al-Qa'eda's operational infrastructure in Afghanistan, which relied heavily on covert operations.
At the end of the war, allied forces found that al-Qa'eda had been working on anthrax programmes that it intended to use on western targets. "They had hired a very experienced biologist to work on this. They were very serious about it and there is no reason to believe they have given up on their interest.''
The fear that terrorist groups may be able to acquire WMD from rogue states such as Iran or Syria explains Washington's determination to confront Iran over its nuclear programme.
"If we look at the threat posed by Iran, they have links with Hizbollah [the Lebanese Shia Muslim militia], which is a terrorist organisation with global reach, and they are actively pursuing WMD. And the leadership has made a conscious decision to defy international treaties. I am deeply troubled by this.''
As for taking action to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, Mr Crumpton insisted that "every option is on the table'' - including military action. "I would not rule out anything because of the particularly grave threat that we are facing.''
In a distinguished career with the CIA, during which he won four of the agency's highest awards, Mr Crumpton was a key figure in its covert operations against al-Qa'eda pre-September 11.
Referred to simply as "Henry'' in the 9/11 Commission Report, Mr Crumpton tried to persuade the CIA to do more in Afghanistan to hunt down Osama bin Laden before the attacks, but two key proposals to tackle al-Qa'eda were turned down.
After September 11, in which he lost many close friends, he was overwhelmed by sorrow.
"But that sorrow was soon replaced by anger, anger that al-Qa'eda could do this to innocent people - and the anger lasted for more than a year.''
Mr Crumpton stresses the coalition's achievements in disrupting bin Laden's network. In his view, al-Qa'eda's infrastructure has been so badly damaged that it is now struggling to control the groups that would like to support it.
"They can't communicate with their supporters unless the odd courier breaks through. They can't get access to money and things like that. We have made life very difficult for them.''
But despite the initial success achieved during the Afghan war in 2001, he expressed disappointment with the support Washington had received from its European allies since hostilities ended. "The job was not finished and it is not finished now.'' Bin Laden, who escaped to Pakistan, was "in all probability'' still alive, he said.
The regime of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria also seriously threatens western security.
"The regime continues to support terror organisations. And we know that the Ba'athist leadership fled to Damascus taking with them money and terrorist expertise, and we cannot rule out the fact that some of that expertise related to WMD.''
1. Russia's Nerpa Shipyard To Recycle Nuclear Waste Storage Ship
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The Nerpa shipyard in the Russian region of Murmansk plans to carry out a unique project to recycle the Lepse, a Russian ship used for storing spent nuclear fuel from nuclear- powered icebreakers. The European Commission will finance the project as part of the TACIS program. The Commission and the Aspekt-Konversiya company signed an agreement to that effect late in 2005.
The Lepse's disposal is one of priority projects to dispose of nuclear submarines under a plan commissioned by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
Specialists estimate that about $30 million is needed to scrap the Lepse. A spent nuclear fuel depot and containers with solid radioactive waste are the main sources of danger aboard the Lepse.
"There is at present no site beside Nerpa for a technologically secure process of disposal of the Lepse, but this requires considerable inputs of time and funds," Rostislav Rimdenok, chief designer at Nerpa, told Interfax.
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