1. China could join Russia-Iran nuclear talks - Russia expert
(for personal use only)
The format of Russia-Iran negotiations on the Islamic republic's controversial nuclear research program could be expanded to include China, a Russian expert said Tuesday.
According to Vladimir Yevseyev, coordinator of the nuclear non-proliferation program at the Carnegie Moscow Center political research institute, this possibility had apparently been behind the postponing of Iranian nuclear negotiators' visit to Moscow, which was rescheduled from February 16 to 20 at Iran's initiative.
"In view of the time shortage, the status of the negotiations could also be raised," Yevseyev said.
The UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)'s Board of Governors, is to hear a report on the issue from Director General Mohammed ElBaradei March 6, and then the Iranian file may be referred to the UN Security Council. The latter has the power to impose sanctions on Iran if it is found to be in breach of its international obligations to pursue no atomic weapons program.
Yevseyev said Iran had been planning to send technical experts to Moscow to discuss Russia's proposal to enrich uranium - a process that can be used both to generate energy and to create bomb-grade material - for Iran's nuclear power plants as part of a joint venture. This proposal has been largely seen as a possible compromise capable of defusing international tensions surrounding Iran's resumption of its nuclear program.
However, Yevseyev said Russia's offer had not received full support in Iran, leading Russia to propose China's involvement in the joint uranium enrichment venture.
"If China is engaged in the negotiations with Iran, this could help alter the content of ElBaradei's report and modify the positions of Russia and China [on the issue]," Yevseyev said, adding that the opinions of the latter two would be essential, considering they had veto-welding power in the UN Security Council and could block international sanctions against Iran.
"If Russia and China back Iran on the compromise option [the joint venture], then the issue will not be pushed on to the UN Security Council without consent from Moscow and Beijing," Yevseyev said.
Meanwhile, the Russian Foreign Ministry said China's possible participation in the Russia-Iran talks had not yet been discussed.
According to Yevseyev, Iran is more concerned about its own security than guaranteed nuclear fuel supplies, which is why he proposed concluding a package agreement with the country.
The expert also said Iran's security concerns could be allayed if the United States considered offering non-aggression guarantees to Iran. He said such a move would make Russia's uranium enrichment initiative more realizable, as it could not resolve the problem without security guarantees.
"It is extremely difficult to address the problem in separate approaches because this could escalate the conflict and lead to political sanctions against Iran," Yevseyev said.
2. Russia, France for access to uranium enrichment process
(for personal use only)
Russia and France are in favor of giving countries that do not have nuclear fuel cycle programs access to uranium enrichment services, a joint statement said Tuesday.
The joint Russian-French statement was adopted Tuesday in Moscow after French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin held talks in the Russian capital.
Both sides outlined their intentions to exchange equipment and science and technical data in the use of nuclear energy, particularly with developing countries, within the framework of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on January 31 that uranium enrichment centers could be set up in other "nuclear club" countries, providing access on a non-discriminatory basis to nations seeking nuclear fuel for power stations.
Russia and France also agreed to support initiatives on multilateral approaches to the nuclear fuel cycle and to develop secure, economical and stable systems of nuclear energy.
"Nuclear energy has always and will continue to play a significant role for the coming generations in solving the problem of stable development in the context of the growing demand for energy in the world," the statement said.
3. Russia, France Urge Ban On Production Of Fissile Materials
(for personal use only)
Russia and France have spoken in favor of a swift start to negotiations on concluding a treaty banning the production of weapons-grade fissile materials.
In addition, Russia and France confirmed their commitment to the moratorium existing in this area, reads a joint Russian-French communique issued on Tuesday.
France and Russia have called on all countries to cooperate in fighting the threat of nuclear and radiological terrorism and recognized the nuclear nonproliferation regime as the cornerstone of the multilateral security system, the document says.
Russia and France also urged all countries to observe their commitments under the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and the Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA and develop effective measures to prevent the illegal turnover of nuclear equipment, know-how and materials, the document says.
4. U.S. Favors Spotlighting Non-Proliferation Treaty Violators
U.S. Department of State
(for personal use only)
The United States and its allies are committed to confronting would-be violators of the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), says Andrew K. Semmel, deputy assistant secretary of state for nuclear nonproliferation.
Working through international institutions, such as the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), smaller forums such as the Group of Eight (G8) and the European Union, as well as one-on-one partnerships, the NPT has been strengthened through America’s strategy of “effective multilateralism,” Semmel told participants at a February 9 panel discussion sponsored by American University in Washington.
The NPT is the cornerstone of the international community’s efforts to prevent and, when necessary, respond to the spread of nuclear weapons, he said.
Semmel said three major challenges face the NPT regime:
• Ensuring that countries that signed on to the NPT are complying with their obligation not to pursue nuclear weapons programs. To this end, he said, the United States has played a key role in building multilateral support for the IAEA board of governors to report Iran’s NPT noncompliance to the U.N. Security Council and for the continued diplomatic efforts to resolve North Korea’s noncompliance through the Six-Party Talks.
• Countering the rise in illicit trafficking in nuclear weapons-related technologies and equipment and the attempts of nonstate entities, such as terrorists, to acquire and use weapons of mass destruction. One of the greatest security threats is the possibility that countries in violation of their NPT obligations might partner with terrorists, Semmel said.
• Addressing the spread of nuclear technologies that could be used to develop nuclear weapons. “We must balance the right to peaceful development of nuclear energy with the need to prevent nuclear proliferation,” Semmel said.
Effective multilateralism has been used in recent years to address some of these challenges, he said, including a proposal for a U.N Security Council resolution to criminalize WMD proliferation, efforts to create a special IAEA committee on nuclear safeguards and a proposal to ban exports of sensitive uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing technologies in exchange for access to reliable, affordable nuclear fuels.
Even though the treaty faces grave challenges today, Semmel said, the international community’s response “will shape the Treaty’s viability and impact directly on U.S. national and international security.”
Semmel reminded the audience of Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar’s recent observation that “The nonproliferation precedents we set in the coming decade are likely to determine whether we are able to construct a global coalition dedicated to preventing catastrophes and giving people the confidence and security to pursue fulfilling lives.”
5. Russia, Spain Sign Statement on Joint Fight Against Terrorism
(for personal use only)
Moscow and Madrid have signed a statement on joint action in the fight against terrorism."Russia and Spain resolutely condemn all forms of terrorism as crimes that cannot be justified regardless of the reason, the place, the victims or the time of the attack," the statement reads.
The parties reiterated that attempts to link terrorism to any nation, culture or religion were unjustifiable.
Measures taken to fight terrorism should comply with international law, in particular with international standards in the areas of human rights, the rights of refugees and international humanitarian law, the statement says. Russia and Spain recognize the importance of preventing terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and are to exchange information about terrorist threats, including concerning the possibility of terrorists acquiring WMDs.
The parties took steps to develop bilateral cooperation in order to prevent financial assistance being given to terrorists and to exchange information about facts linking terrorism with international organized crime, in particular, with the trade of illegal drugs and weapons and human trafficking. Russia and Spain will strengthen the United Nations' central and coordinating role in the fight against terrorism.
1. THE UNITED STATES IS NOT PLANNING A STRIKE AT IRAN
Defense and Security/Gazeta
(for personal use only)
AN INTERVIEW WITH AMERICAN POLITICAL SCIENTIST DIMITRI K. SIMES; Dimitri K. Simes: "The position of the United States comes down to the need to give diplomats a chance, to organize international pressure on Iran to force it to accept the Russian offer concerning uranium enrichment."
Question: How likely is an American strike at Iran? And when should it be expected?
Dimitri K. Simes: I don't think the United States is planning any strikes at Iran. All the talk within the US Administration and all considerations imparted to the US Congress concern seeking a diplomatic solution to the problem.
Official Washington didn't put pressure on its allies and others to report Iran to the UN Security Council in order to go ahead and strike at Iran now. Nobody would understand that. Moreover, such a move would conflict with American priorities, since it could even lead to America being isolated. A military strike is not on the agenda at this point.
Question: "At this point." What do you mean by that?
Dimitri K. Simes: The position of the United States comes down to the need to give diplomats a chance, to organize international pressure on Iran to force it to accept the Russian offer concerning uranium enrichment.
There are many ideas the US Administration wants to try first, even before the discussion of sanctions, let alone a military operation. On the other hand, Iran is run by radicals - so nothing shall be ruled out.
When the matter concerns the possibility of a rogue state possessing nuclear weapons, nothing should be ruled out, not even a military operation. Still, I repeat that a military solution is not a priority for the United States at this point.
But I can't rule out the possibility that the president of Iran might do or say something that provokes Israel - especially if Tehran embraces Hamas or, for example, abandons radical statements in favor of supporting terrorism against Israel. This could spark first Israeli retaliation, then American retaliation. And yet, this is what the US Administration sincerely hopes to avoid.
Question: Could mere words from one side provoke the other into launching an offensive?
Dimitri K. Simes: When statements are not backed with actions, nobody intends to start a war. Withdrawing from the Nuclear Weapons Non-Proliferation Treaty, however, would be an action. Iran has been sending conflicting signals to the international community so far.
Question: The Iranian Foreign Ministry reiterated its commitment to the NNPT on February 12.
Dimitri K. Simes: I'd say it would take something more - like Iran supporting acts of terrorism, not just statements, or even withdrawing from the NNPT. Something more would be required to provoke the United States. I hope that Tehran knows where to stop.
The United States is not seeking an opportunity to strike. On the other hand, neither is it following Mikhail Gorbachev, who used to say "Never" and "Under no circumstances."
Question: Vladimir Putin's invitation to Hamas leaders to visit Moscow and Russia's offer to enrich uranium for Iran on Russian territory - what does the US Administration think of these as potential solutions?
Dimitri K. Simes: The invitation to Hamas has nothing to do with how the US will react to Iran. In my view, Putin invited Hamas leaders for a dialogue on how the Middle East Quartet could be made more effective.
Question: The war in Iraq began because of fears that Iraq might possess chemical weapons. This time, war is a possibility due to fears of nuclear weapons in Iran's arsenals.
Dimitri K. Simes: That is why I'm repeating over and over that the United States isn't planning any strikes, but is taking steps to avoid it.
Question: A few words on the cartoon scandal, please.
Dimitri K. Simes: Well, no one's burning the American flag or besieging embassies yet. So the issue is of less concern to the US than it is to Denmark or some other European countries. And yet, this is indeed a serious problem.
2. Moscow to retain clout even if Tehran rejects uranium offer - MP
(for personal use only)
Moscow's international image will not suffer if Tehran rejects an offer to have uranium for its nuclear reactors enriched on Russian soil, a senior member of the lower chamber of Russia's parliament said Tuesday.
Konstantin Kosachev, the chairman of the State Duma's foreign affairs committee, said the failure of the plan intended to ease international concerns over Iran's nuclear ambitions "will have no negative implications for Russia," whereas success may bring "additional advantages in terms of its global position."
The MP suggested that Iran's indecisive stance on the plan stemmed from its past experiences. "Iran had a negative experience in the early 1970s when it contemplated a similar uranium enrichment project with France. Iran then invested about a billion dollars, but after the [Islamic] revolution in the country, all of the invested money remained in France and Iran got nothing," Kosachev said.
"This is not an impasse, however," he said. "Russia, along with other sides, is in a position to provide Iran with all the necessary guarantees that the uranium enrichment process will not depend on political, economic, military or any other developments."
Talks over the uranium enrichment offer, which were originally scheduled for Tuesday, have now been postponed at Iran's request until February 20.
Kosachev said it was important the negotiations take place before the International Atomic Energy Agency's board of governors gathers for its next session on March 6. "The international community will then have a clear idea of whether Iran is willing to cooperate with Russia or not," he said.
Earlier on Tuesday, Iran confirmed it had resumed uranium enrichment activities at underground facilities near the town of Natanz, thus rekindling Western nations' fears that it is seeking to obtain weapons-grade uranium to build a nuclear bomb.
3. "Washington Did Not Create Anti-Iranian Coalition. It Came Together by Itself on Account of Tehran's Uncompromising Policy"
(for personal use only)
The Iranian leader is a colorful figure -- this is beyond argument. He is a combination of America's Reagan and North Korea's Kim Chong-il. From the former he has absorbed audacity, pugnacity, and a talent for bluffing. From the latter -- a gift for blackmailing "friends" just as brazenly as "enemies." The Iranian leader appears to have neither -- only interests, which also makes him resemble, in terms of cynicism, a quintessential Brit, such as Lord Palmerston. All in all, a volatile mixture, and one that evinces the most unattractive aspects of traditional diplomacy.
Being involved with such an opposite number is a headache for all concerned: Russians, Americans, Chinese, and Europeans. Even so, Russia and China nevertheless want to achieve a compromise with Tehran, the European Union seems to have lost any hope of such a compromise, while the United States essentially never wanted a compromise.
If Washington did want anything, it was not a compromise, but an international coalition (ideally, together with the states of Europe, Russia, and, if it could be arranged, with PRC) against Tehran's nuclear program. The irony of the situation is that the Americans failed to create such a coalition. The stupid thing is that it almost came together by itself on account of Tehran's uncompromising policy. Maybe the Iranian leader's special talent actually consists in quarreling with everyone and at the wrong time.
The situation is highly tense. It cannot be called the threshold of war, but Iran's diplomatic isolation is a fact, although Moscow and Beijing are still trying, without much real hope, to make their Iranian colleagues see sense. The latter, however, are refusing to understand the main argument: The slimmer the chances of two countries (Russia and Iran) or three countries (Russia, Iran and China) agreeing among themselves peacefully and for the good of all, the more probable is a non-peaceful development of events, the epicenter of which may become occupied by the American military machine. An extremely perilous game is unfolding -- in the history of international relations this used to be known as brinkmanship.
A US war against Iran would affect Russia's security interests. But these interests will also suffer if Iran develops an atomic bomb. Iran is closing its eyes to the second part of this complex equation. If a compromise on the issue of uranium enrichment is not found, Russia will most likely have to join forces with the United States and the European Union, in some form or other, to work out jointly a means of exerting coordinated pressure on Tehran.
It is precisely a US war against Iran that goes against Russia's security interests. Besides war, however, there exist other, fairly powerful instruments for influencing countries that are dangerous to Russia, such as Iran is presently becoming. The Iranian leadership nevertheless appears to be seriously mistaken in its assessment of the situation.
4. Iran: Is Russia's Offer Just A Diplomatic Device?
(for personal use only)
Iranian and Russian diplomats were supposed to meet on 16 February to discuss Russia's offer to enrich uranium for Iran, a move that would allay fears that Iran wants to develop nuclear weapons. Iran has now delayed that meeting, but Russia's offer remains on the table. How much, though, would it change? Fariba Mavaddat of RFE/RL's Radio Farda sought an answer from Mark Fitzpatrick, a senior fellow at the International Institute of Strategic Studies in London.
RFE/RL: Regardless of whether the negotiations are going to go ahead on 16 February and regardless of the extent of Iran's bargaining over the expansion of the Russian offer, how likely is it, do you think, to change things in practical terms, because even if the idea of an international consortium to enrich uranium in Russia takes off it will be no more than what already exists in the global nuclear-fuels market. Would it change anything at all?
Mark Fitzpatrick: Well, I think it the basic idea would change things in that, as far as I understand it, it would have been a bilateral deal between Russian and Iran. But I haven't seen the deal. I don't think anyone has actually seen the proposal; I don't think many of the details have even been put to paper. But as it was first proposed it would have been a new development and...a face-saving way out for Iran. Unfortunately it seems Iran is not taking this face-saving way out.
RFE/RL: So is it fair to say that it is still just a diplomatic device rather than a practical way out?
Fitzpatrick: Well, I think it could be a practical way out, although there are so many details that would have to be fleshed out and I think it would take several rounds of negotiations to get into all those details. So, for now, I think it's fair to say it's a diplomatic device. But any major deal would start off at the diplomatic stage and then proceed through the details.
RFE/RL: What do you think it would take Iran to change its course altogether to the satisfaction of the international community, short of suspending for good its nuclear program?
Fitzpatrick: I think if Iran were to suspend [its enrichment program] again temporarily while it discussed the deal with Russia or any other partners in the joint venture, then that would be acceptable. That is fundamentally what happened over the past two and a half years, that Iran accepted a temporary suspension while it negotiated with the Europeans. That came to an end; now there's another potential negotiation on the table. But to proceed with it, Iran would of course have to stop its enrichment work, otherwise there would be no basis for continuing negotiations.
RFE/RL: You mentioned the Russians are now the main partners in negotiations. How does Iran actually view the Russian role in the current crisis? Do they look at Russia as an effective and valuable partner or as a government that turned its back to Iran at the meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) earlier this month [at which the IAEA, the UN's nuclear watchdog, voted to refer Iran to the UN Security Council over its concerns about th nature of Iran's nuclear program]?
Fitzpatrick: I think Iran is probably reassessing its relationship with Russia, with China, and maybe other former friends and partners. There are many areas in which Iran and Russia have close and mutually beneficial relations and I think it would be unwise for Iran to conclude that its relationship with Russia has been transformed fundamentally. But on this aspect of its nuclear program there has been a significant transformation, and Iran should realize that, right now, Russia is growing increasingly frustrated with Iran's objectives to proceed with an enrichment program that Russia and China and almost all the rest of the world have called on Iran to stop.
RFE/RL: With that attitude on the part of Iran, is it fair to say that Iran is leading the path towards total isolation?
Fitzpatrick: That certainly seems to be the path that [it is] on and it almost seems as if the current rulers in Tehran either don't care or in fact welcome isolation because it might strengthen their political control if they can persuade the population that they are faced with an external enemy and they all now have to coalesce behind a leader who otherwise does not have such great support.
RFE/RL: How long-term that popular support would be? Because if a nation is put under too much pressure, particularly economically, they could react negatively towards their rulers.
Fitzpatrick: It's very hard for me to judge how the people of Iran would react when put under pressure. In many cases in the past people who were put under great pressure in wars continued to support leaders who later proved to be disasters. So at what point can outside pressure persuade a people that they ought to break with their leaders or at what point does it just persuade the people that they have to hunker down and tough it out? It's a tough decision.
5. Russian Nuclear Chief Explains Plan To Satisfy Iranian, World Energy Needs
(for personal use only)
Russia is completely ready to conclude an agreement with Iran on creating a joint uranium enrichment enterprise, Sergey Kiriyenko, the head of Rosatom (Russian Federal Agency for Atomic Energy), has told the American magazine Newsweek.
"We have got the production capacities for such an enterprise and a draft contract. We are ready technologically, financially and organizationally. The conditions in our proposal are clear and open for the international community. I can't say whether Iran will accept this proposal or not," it is said in the interview.
Explaining the essence of the Russian proposal to Tehran, Sergey Kiriyenko noted: "We have suggested creating a uranium enrichment enterprise on Russian territory. In exchange there will be guaranteed fuel deliveries to Iran, but without access for Iranian specialists to the technologies."
He continued: "In this way we will take the uranium away, enrich it here (in Russia) and send the Iranians ready fuel. Then we will again return the spent fuel to our country, thus guaranteeing that it is impossible to separate made plutonium from it. In this way we retain control over two most sensitive technological stages of work of a nuclear power station, excluding the threat of violating the nonproliferation regime during the development of nuclear power engineering in Iran or in any other country."
"Those countries that wish to gain access to cheap nuclear energy should have such an opportunity. A ban on access to peaceful nuclear energy will mean a violation of international law. It is discrimination," Sergey Kiriyenko believes.
"Our position lies in the fact that we must help those countries to overcome energy poverty, but at the same time our responsibility is to prevent any threat to violate the nonproliferation regime. We are talking today not only about Iran. We need to establish some kind of common rules. Otherwise we come up against such a situation around Iran today and tomorrow we encounter exactly the same situation around another country that wishes to develop nuclear energy," the head of Rosatom told the magazine Newsweek.
In his words, "the rates at which energy use is growing in the world show that existing sources of generating energy based on fossil raw materials cannot satisfy this rapidly-growing demand. (Passage omitted: More in same vein, quoting calculations.) Hence the conclusion that the world energy balance will be reviewed in the direction of increasing the share of (energy) generation namely via nuclear power as a sector that is capable of satisfying economic demands."
Iran will be referred to the UN Security Council after all. but how effective will UN sanctions be?
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Directors, which met in Vienna for an emergency session, was informed about the decision by the "Group of 6" to hand Iran's case to the UN Security Council, which could impose sanctions. And although the issue of sanctions against Iran is not likely to be raised before March 6 (when the IAEA is expected to present its report on Iran's nuclear problem to the UN), the prospect of an economic blockade cannot be ruled out even now. Will such a move be successful?
Radzhab Safarov, general director of the Center for Iranian Studies, explains.
- UN sanctions will have no effect and could provoke Iran into taking tough retaliatory action.
Iran adopted a law on economic sanctions against "politically hostile states," which can lead to a complete termination of trade and economic relations with such states.
Furthermore, Tehran could make this decision without formally announcing it. Last year, India and South Korea supported an IAEA resolution calling for Iran's referral to the UN Security Council. Soon afterward, India had to dismiss its foreign minister and apologize to Iran so as not to lose two contracts for the supply of Iranian liquefied natural gas, worth billions of dollars. South Korea sustained serious losses: All of its export shipments were under various pretexts detained at Iranian customs points of entry. Today, there is increasing pressure within Iranian society for stopping imports from Italy, Iran's major trading partner in Europe. An embargo against Iran would have catastrophic consequences: Italian companies have invested billions of dollars in the Iranian economy, including the South Pars natural gas project.
Why would Italy have to face such severe punishment?
Recently, an Italian court made an unprecedented ruling, freezing the bank accounts of the Iranian embassy in Rome, based on a lawsuit filed by three U.S. families whose relatives were killed in a terrorist attack in Israel on April 9, 1999. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack. The claim was based on the premise that at that time Iran was providing financial and military assistance to Hamas. Soon afterward, the Brussels Prosecutor's Office followed suit and froze the accounts of the Iranian embassy in Belgium, but as a result of negotiations between the Iranian ambassador and Belgian authorities, the accounts were then unfrozen.
Meanwhile, according to The Financial Times, prior to that, the U.S. claimants had received $ 56 million from Iran. Presumably, they thought that was not enough. Furthermore, 29 Americans who suffered as a result of a 1983 bomb attack on the U.S. embassy in Beirut also intend to lodge claims against Iran in European courts, arguing that the terrorist attack was carried out by the Lebanese group Hezbollah, which allegedly was also sponsored by Iran.
Which, in your opinion, was not the case?
I doubt that U.S. lawyers will be able to provide conclusive evidence proving that Iran was involved in those terrorist attacks.
According to some reports, every year, Iran has been transferring $ 1 million to Palestinian and $ 75 million to other international terrorist organizations.
According to this logic, lawsuits could be brought against any Arab monarchy in the Persian Gulf: All have been providing far more substantial aid and assistance to Palestine than Iran has. Today, a very curious situation has evolved: Organizations that, according to the United States and Israel, are radical and terrorist, enjoy the most support and popularity among the Palestinians. Hamas has just won a landslide victory in Palestinian elections. You see, if the United States really wanted to help the families of those victims, its citizens would not have to go to European courts: There are frozen Iranian bank accounts on U.S. territory. It is simply that Iran is being deliberately pitted against the EU and other countries. Meanwhile, Iran could in theory also flood the United States with lawsuits. U.S. companies have outstanding debts to Iran under contracts to supply arms and military equipment that were in fact never delivered: They received advance payment but failed to fulfill their obligations, citing the Islamic revolution in Iran as an excuse. Perhaps not many people know that in his time, Iranian Shah Reza Pahlavi financed a design and development project on the multirole F-14 Tomcat fighter aircraft, but the United States never supplied Phoenix missiles for those planes.
What, then, are the grounds for saying that Iran backs terrorism?
All rumors to this effect are cooked up in the same kitchen where the "reliable, conclusive" evidence about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was fabricated. I only know that Iran, just as the United States and Israel, is suffering from organized terrorism. I would not like to compare the number of victims in terrorist attacks, but during the 27 years of the Islamic Republic's history, terrorists have not been able to hijack a single Iranian airplane. At the same time, Iranian security services have lost more than 200 officers. Furthermore, Iran is waging a full-blown war against drug traffickers from Afghanistan. More than 3,000 border guards, police, and Basij volunteers have been killed in this war. Last year, more than 200,000 metric tons of hard drugs were seized in Iran. Incidentally, since U.S. and UK troops were brought into Afghanistan, production of opium, heroin, and hashish in that country has grown by hundreds of times, exceeding 4,000 metric tons year on year. The money to deal with drug trafficking - and this is billions of dollars - comes not from the U.S. or the UK, but from Iran's state budget.
Furthermore, with an ongoing war in Iraq and the lack of control over the Lebanese sea coast, it would not pose any problem for Iran's special services to deliver modern weapons and explosives to Palestine. But Iran does not use these opportunities out of considerations of principle. Furthermore, if they wanted to, Iranian special task forces, which have an eight-year experience in a bloody war with Iraq, could have long passed that experience to Palestinian militants. But, as we can see, this is not happening.
Supposing Iran's support for international terrorism is a fabrication, as are its nuclear ambitions. But surely you will agree that statements by President Ahmadinejad against Israel are quite real.
They certainly are. Still, I would like to recall one well-known proverb: "Don't be afraid of the one who is shouting, but of the one who is silent." The impression is that with their threats of political and economic sanctions, the United States and Israel are deliberately trying to provoke the Iranian leadership into making offensive statements and accelerating the effort to develop a complete nuclear cycle. Without such "assistance" on the part of the United States and its allies, Russia, in a calm and good-neighborly environment, could resolve all of Iran-related problems much faster.MN
Dr. Bruno Tertrais, director, the Foundation for Strategic Research (France)
Is Iran's nuclear threat real or, rather, a figment of the West's vivid imagination? I believe that Iran is a threat. Should it acquire nuclear weapons, that would have serious political repercussions throughout the Near East, also jeopardizing Europe which is within the range of Iran's modern tactical missiles Shihab-3. - ed. . It would also effectively bury the nonproliferation regime.
The 1968 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty conveniently divided all countries into three groups. The first is comprised of those that had conducted nuclear tests prior to that date and only reaffirmed their nuclear status. The second, and largest, group includes countries that formally renounced their nuclear ambitions. The third are those that did not sign the Treaty. People who are asking, "Why is it that Israel, India, and Pakistan may have nuclear weapons, but Iran may not?" forget that the first three countries did not accede to the Nonproliferation Treaty and therefore have not violated a single provision of international law. But Iran did accede to it, thus assuming strict obligations. Furthermore, unlike North Korea, Iran has expressed no intention to withdraw from the Treaty.
Iran is stepping up its nuclear program mainly in order to acquire a new political status. The atom - both peaceful and military - is a symbol of power and development. Security considerations in the case of Iran are only secondary. Washington delivered Tehran from two main enemies - Saddam Hussein and the Taliban movement. It is true that today the Iranian leadership sees an additional motive for possession of nuclear weapons in the sheer presence of Western troops near the country's borders.
There are conclusive indications that the Iranian nuclear program has a military dimension. In all fairness, during more than three years of inspections, the IAEA has produced specific technical details. Iran has dispersed numerous nuclear facilities throughout the country that make no scientific or technical sense if confined purely to peaceful uses of nuclear energy. For example, laser enrichment technology and polonium-210 production programs. Any physicist - not necessarily even nuclear physicist - who has read IAEA inspectors' reports will realize that Iran's nuclear program is dual-use.
If Iran continues its research program at the same pace, it will be five to ten years away from the nuclear bomb. If it accelerates the pace, using state-of-the-art enrichment technology, the period will be reduced to two years. But there is also a third scenario: secret nuclear facilities with super-powerful gas centrifuges. If this is indeed the case, then, I am afraid, it is already too late.
1. Profile: Sergei Kiriyenko, Russia's 'Kinder Surprise'
(for personal use only)
In August 1998, Russia spiraled into financial meltdown. The subsequent ruble devaluation was a severe blow to the country's financial system and millions of people lost their savings. At the helm was Prime Minister Sergei Kiriyenko, who, along with his government, was subsequently forced to resign by then President Boris Yeltsin. Since that career low, Kiriyenko's fortunes have changed. Currently in charge of Rosatom, Russia's Federal Atomic Energy Agency, he is thought by many to be a politician on the up.
Sergei Kiriyenko comes from a typical Soviet family. His grandfather, Yakov Israitel, made his name as a devoted Communist, who for his good service to the party received an inscribed pistol from Vladimir Lenin. In the 1930s, Yakov Israitel served as the head of the KGB border guard on Russia's southern frontier.
Sergei Kiriyenko was born in 1962 in Sukhum, the capital of Abkhazia, and grew up in Sochi, in southern Russia. After graduation from high school, Kiriyenko enrolled in the shipbuilding faculty at the Nizhny Novgorod (Gorky) Water Transport Engineers Institute, where his divorced father taught. At this time, he dropped the Jewish family name of his father and adopted Kiriyenko, the Ukrainian name of his mother.
After graduation he began his work at the Red Sormovo Shipbuilding factory in Nizhny Novgorod, which produced parts for nuclear submarines. Like many other figures in contemporary Russian politics and business, Kiriyenko's real career began in the Komsomol, the youth wing of the Communist Party, at first as the Komsomol leader in his factory and then as a first secretary in the organization's Nizhnegorodskaya (Gorkovskaya) Oblast branch.
When Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev began the liberalization of the economy in the late 1980s, Kiriyenko went into business and became the head of the Komsomol-run trading and services company, AMK. At this time, he was also involved in organizing scratch-card lotteries -- he even invented a special type of scratchcard, which he patented in 1997, according to peoples.ru. Kiriyenko has proposed integrating all Russian nuclear facilities into a single state corporation. He also says by 2025 Russia should control up to 20 percent of the world atomic energy market.
After finishing a two-year management course at the government-funded National Economy Academy, in 1993 Kiriyenko became the head of a commercial bank, Garantiya. In 1996, he was appointed chairman of the board of a medium-sized oil company, Norsi-oil.
Kiriyenko was linked politically with then-governor of Nizhny Novgorod Oblast, Boris Nemtsov. Kiriyenko was an active member of the Union of Rightist Forces, which was co-chaired by Nemtsov. When Nemtsov moved to Moscow in 1997 to become a first deputy to Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, he brought Kiriyenko with him. In 1997, Kiriyenko was appointed first deputy fuel and energy minister and then later became minister proper.
In November 1998, President Boris Yeltsin appointed Kiriyenko, then relatively unknown outside the government, as prime minister. For his baby face and surprise entrance into top politics, the Russian media dubbed Kiriyenko "Kinder surprise," a reference to popular chocolate eggs containing surprise toys.
He lived up to the nickname when, on 17 August 1998, Russia unexpectedly descended into financial default and Boris Yeltsin forced Kiriyenko and his government to resign.
From Yeltsin To Putin
But as a politician, Kiriyenko survived. In 1999, he led the Union of Rightist Forces to modest success in parliamentary elections. But his true political second coming was shepherded by President Vladimir Putin, who was likely attracted by Kiriyenko's political loyalty and reputation as an able manager.
In May 2000, Putin appointed Kiriyenko as presidential envoy to the Volga Federal District. The district has crucial importance for the Kremlin as it comprises, along with some ethnic Russian regions, several non-Slav republics, including the predominantly Muslim Tatarstan and Bashkortostan. The Volga district also houses the Russian Federal Nuclear Center in Sarov, Nizhnegorodskaya Oblast, which is responsible for designing nuclear weapons. In 2001, Putin also entrusted Kiriyenko to head the State Commission for Chemical Disarmament, which is responsible for the destruction of the Soviet chemical arsenal. The program is partially funded by the United States.
Putin, likely satisfied with Kiriyenko's performance in the potentially troublesome region, then appointed him as the head of the national nuclear agency, Rosatom. Putin said that he expected Kiriyenko to revitalize Russia's decaying nuclear power sector, RIA Novosti reported on 22 November 2005." Kiriyenko has been transferred...not [just] to head an agency. It will not be enough. I believe that, in this sector, we have obvious advantages, accumulated from previous decades, and we should not lose them," the Russian president was quoted as saying.
Following his appointment, Kiriyenko announced an ambitious program to increase Russia's share of nuclear energy generation from the current 16-17 percent to 25 percent by 2030. To do so, Rosatom plans to build up to 40 new reactors at a cost of $60 billion. By comparison, since the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia has built (or is building) only eight reactors, five in Russia and others in China, India, and Iran.
Within the framework of Putin's plan to make Russia an "energy superpower," Kiriyenko has suggested integrating all Russian nuclear centers, research, and production facilities into a single state corporation, ITAR-TASS reported on 9 February. He also suggested that, in the next 20 years, Russia should control up to 20 percent of the world atomic energy market by exporting its nuclear technology.
In perhaps his most daunting task, President Putin has charged Kiriyenko with the sensitive mission of negotiating with Tehran about the possibility of building a uranium-conversion facility in Russia.
Sergey Kiriyenko wants to unite all Russia's nuclear enterprises and institutes into a vertically integrated nuclear holding. In his opinion this will enable Russia to take one of the leading positions on the nuclear energy market. Rosatom (Federal Atomic Energy Agency) is already conducting talks on the consolidation of a controlling share in Atomstroyeksport.
Civilian nuclear energy sector should be under state control -- Sergey Kiriyenko, head of the Federal Atomic Energy Agency, has made a statement to that effect. This requires not the reorganization of Rosatom, but consolidation. There should be a gathering together, "along the lines of the USSR Ministry of Medium Machine Building."
"A vertically integrated holding company should be built, which, by analogy with Gazprom, could be called 'Atomprom,'" Kiriyenko stressed.
The structure of the integrated company should include the entire manufacturing cycle for civilian nuclear power generation, from uranium extraction to the recycling of waste, including machine building and design and construction organizations.
Rosatom is already conducting talks on consolidating a controlling share in Atomstroyeksport under state control. The time frame for completion of the talks is not known, an anonymous source told Interfax.
"The pooling of efforts to develop nuclear power machine building is extremely necessary, while Russia's enterprises still preserve their scientific and manufacturing potential," Yuriy Saakyan, general director of the Institute of Problems of the Natural Monopolies, has no doubt. "The choice of the instrument for such a pooling of efforts should be carefully considered: The development of nuclear power machine building in Russia requires a speedy solution, but there will be no second chance."
In Kiriyenko's view, the creation of a nuclear holding company will enable Russia to compete successfully with the transnational nuclear corporations, and this applies to both the domestic and the foreign market. In particular, the Rosatom chief stated that Russia should occupy at least one-fifth of the nuclear power generation market.
"It is necessary to set the task of seizing 20% of the nuclear power generation market. That is on the order of 60 gigawatts," Kiriyenko stated.
The situation that has currently taken shape in the civilian nuclear power industry is not to the liking of the experts. "Basically, nuclear power stations now have three bosses: the Rosenergoatom (Russian State Concern for the Production of Electricity and Thermal Power at Nuclear Power Stations) representative, the station's director, and the state itself," Yuriy Vishnevskiy, ex-chief of Gosatomnadzor (Russian Federal Inspectorate for Nuclear and Radiation Safety), says. "This situation leads to a situation where everybody's business is nobody's business. There is also evidence of the squandering of colossal resources allocated to the nuclear industry.
"For instance, the third unit at the Kalinin Nuclear Power Station, which is being rebuilt, has cost the state nearly twice as much as the construction of a new one, at $1.7 billion as against $1 billion."
Specialists welcome Kiriyenko's idea of consolidating enterprises connected with the nuclear industry and power generation based on Rosatom. "Changes in the structure will make it possible, in my view, to bring the system of management of facilities into good order," Vishnevskiy believes. "Of course, I would not describe Gazprom as a model to imitate, but its shareholders can talk quite openly about shortcomings in the company's work and point out weaknesses. I agree with Kiriyenko's view that it is wasteful, to put it mildly, to live with the old package that we used to have."
3. System For Recycling Radioactive Waste To Be Created In Russia By 2015
(for personal use only)
Russia's Federal Atomic Energy Agency (Rosatom) plans to set up a uniform state system for recycling radioactive wastes and spent nuclear fuel by 2015, Rosatom's public relations center told Interfax.
A plan for creating the system was proposed at a seminar on nuclear and radiation safety at TSNIIATOMINFORM state company at Rosatom's order. The seminar was held outside Moscow on February 8 to 11.
Under the plan, a list of companies dealing with fissile materials, including research centers fitted out with research reactors, will be drawn up. In addition, a federal program for nuclear and radiation safety is to be outlined and a fund created specially for it, to be run by a management company.
The plan is intended to solve the numerous pressing issues that have cropped up since the first Soviet-era nuclear projects were launched, including the problem of the Techa cascade at the Mayak nuclear wastes disposal facility.
The program will also cover the hitherto unsolved problem of recycling the graphite cores of uranium-graphite reactors, weapons-grade plutonium, the strategy and methods of handling non-recoverable wastes and other long-overdue problems.
4. Duma committee votes to slash SNF reprocessing—while Rosatom gets ready to take on more
(for personal use only)
Duma resolution reveals expanding fuel types that would be recycled
The State Duma Environment Committee has passed a resolution that proposes gradually reducing the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel (SNF) at the Mayak facility, while at the same time, it has emerged that Rosatom had secretly been preparing to reprocess SNF from VVER-1000 reactors at Mayak—which the facility is not equipped to handle.
Despite this, the deputies did not vote to deprive Mayak of its reprocessing license, as earlier threatened.
Bellona Web has obtained the text of the resolution adopted at the State Duma Environment Committee session held on February 8th at which problems at the Mayak facility were discussed.
The resolution calls for guaranteeing safety at Mayak to be a “state task of the greatest importance,” and recommends that Rosatom gradually reduce reprocessing of SNF at the facility.
“This is not a populist decision—we really want to stop this madness with the dumping at Mayak,” committee chairman Vladimir Grachev told Bellona web. “We have already managed to get the decision accepted by Rosatom.”
According to the deputies, the first stage should be to restrict SNF reprocessing to volumes “necessary for fulfilling international agreements, and also environmental and defence programmes.”
“This means fuel from submarines,” Grachev said. “If we leave that out, it will be even more dangerous than reprocessing it.”
Rosatom's secret plans The Duma resolution also recommends “reducing work linked to the reprocessing of SNF from VVER-1000 reactors.”
Until now nothing was known about Rosatom's plans to reprocess fuel from VVER-1000 reactors at Mayak. Fuel from such reactors—which are used at three nuclear power plants in Russia—is not presently reprocessed anywhere in Russia, but rather put into temporary storage at the Krasnoyarsk Mining and Chemical Combine’s RT-2 facility.
“Rosatom was planning to increase reprocessing at Mayak, and had already bought equipment to break up fuel rods from these reactors and prepare it for reprocessing,” Grachev said.
Mayak's RT-1 facility currently reprocesses spent fuel from VVER-440, BN-350, and BN-600 reactors, as well as naval reactors and some research reactors. Some 120 tonnes of SNF is reprocessed annually at Mayak, though the facility has a theoretical annual capacity of 400 tonnes.
Mayak keeps its license The deputies watered down the original text, removing a demand to revoke Mayak’s licence to reprocess SNF and dump waste into local water systems.
However, dumping of radioactive waste into the Techa reservoir system along the southern Urals’ Techa River is the focus of the complaints against Mayak. In January 2003, the federal nuclear oversight agency stripped Mayak of its licence for precisely this reason—although the licence was subsequently renewed anyway, and agency head Yury Vishnevsky sacked, apparently for revoking the licence in the first place.
He was replaced by then-Minatom—Rosatom’s predecessor—Deputy Minister Andrei Malyshev.
Recommended measures The Duma resolution talks about the necessity for a comprehensive plan to deal with Mayak's environmental problems “with an analysis of the situation, development of basic measures and an assessment of the environmental consequences.”
As well as the reduction in reprocessing, front-line measures include action to improve safety in the Techa reservoir system, including reconstruction of the top of dam no. 11 and the construction of a first-level combined sewerage system to take run-off water into the left-bank canal.
In addition, deputies recommended that the Emergency Situations Ministry, together with the Chelyabinsk Regional administration, carry out a raft of social, medical, and legal measures stipulated in federal and local target programmes to protect the local population.
Russian-American plans While the deputies were making recommendations on ending SNF reprocessing, US President George Bush announced his readiness to work with Russia in order to increase reprocessing in both counties. Bush suggested that the US and Russia would deliver reactor fuel to other countries, and then collect the used fuel in order to reprocess it and prevent it being used for military purposes.
Programmes to recycle nuclear waste in the United States were curtailed under President Jimmy Carter, and re-establishing them would take considerable resources and time.
Bush proposed allocating $250m in his 2007 federal budget request to develop the new technologies.
Grachev said joint Russian-American plans do not contradict his committee's position.
“My reaction to this proposition is very positive,” he said. “We should not confuse fuel reprocessing at Mayak with fuel reprocessing in general. Reprocessed fuel should be kept at two or three locations under strict control in order to stop proliferation around the world.”
5. Russia Drafting New Technological Platform For Atomic Industry
(for personal use only)
The Russian Atomic Energy Agency has set up a group to draft a new technological platform for the atomic industry development, an agency source told Itar-Tass on Friday with the reference to agency head Sergei Kiriyenko.
"TVEL chief scientist Mikhail Solonin has been appointed as the group head. He will have the status of an honorary adviser to the agency head for the period of the group deliberations. The group was set up after the second seminar organized by the agency administration to discuss development priorities .125the first seminar was held last December and focused on the design of the VVER 1,000+ unit.375," the source said.
The agency thinks "a conceptual breakthrough is possible. It will move the Russian atomic energy industry to the forefront in the international race for energy leadership," the source said.
"Atomic energy specialists were ordered to design a VVER 1,000+ experimental unit within 2-2.5 years on the basis of the existent water-cooled water-moderated reactor," the source said. The construction of such units will take 48 months.
"The Federal Atomic Energy Agency and the Kurchatov Nuclear Institute should use the entire potential for building 40 nuclear power units before the year 2030 in keeping with the presidential order," Kiriyenko said on Wednesday. This task is feasible in case "of the quick construction of a BN-800 fast neutron reactor and the design of a VVER 1,000+ reactor," he said.
The future units will supply electricity inside and outside Russia. "We would like to build 60 power plants with the total capacity of 60 gigawatt abroad within the next 25 years," Kiriyenko said. Russia will concentrate on the "South East Asian markets, because the swiftly developing region is hungry for energy," he said.
The Russian atomic energy industry will cease to exist by 2030 without the construction of new units, Kiriyenko said at a Friday meeting of the agency board.
"The Russian atomic energy industry will go extinct by 2030 even though the service life of the existent units is extended for 15 years," an agency source quoted Kiriyenko to Itar-Tass.
"Nuclear power plants will produce only 3.2% of national electricity instead of the current 16% if the construction of new units is not sped up," he said. "There is a governmental order and a political will to speed up the development of the national atomic energy industry. I am sure that we will accomplish this task." In late January President Vladimir Putin ordered to enlarge the share of nuclear power plants' electricity to 25% by 2030.
The unity of raw material, enrichment, fuel, energy, machine-building and research components is necessary for the achievement of this goal, said speakers at the board meeting. "The industry will not be divided. On the contrary, we should pool it together," Kiriyenko said. "We have a rare chance of atomic energy industry renaissance - that would require reunification of the former atomic industry system."
6. Russian Official Warns Nuclear Power Sector Could Vanish by 2030
(for personal use only)
Russia's nuclear power sector will disappear by 2030 without the introduction of new capacity, head of the Russian Federal Agency for Atomic Energy Sergey Kiriyenko said at a collegial meeting of his department devoted to the results of the past year and to short- and long-term objectives, ITAR-TASS was told at the department today.
"An analysis of the situation shows that even with a 15-year extension in the operational life of the existing nuclear power plants Russia's nuclear power industry will in effect cease to exist by 2030," he said.
"At the current rate of introducing new capacity, the nuclear industry's share (of national power generation) by 2030 will total just 3.2 per cent, against 16 per cent in 2005," he said. Therefore, he said, "the inertia scenario for the development of nuclear energy simply does not exist, since its implementation clearly leads to the elimination of nuclear power in the country."
"There is the state order and there is political will on the part of the country's leadership for the accelerated development of nuclear energy. I am convinced we will be able to meet the objective we have been set," he said. (Passage omitted: background)
(Another ITAR-TASS report quoted Kiriyenko as saying he could guarantee the reliability of Russia's nuclear arms sector for years to come, but not that of the nuclear energy sector.
"The nuclear arms sector is capable of dependably meeting the objectives set by the state and of ensuring competitiveness in the long term," he said. As regards the nuclear energy sector, it is "capable of meeting the set objectives and ensuring competitiveness only in the short term", he said.
"Moreover, the disappearance of nuclear energy from the productive sector will in a short space of time inevitably lead to a reduction in the defensive capacity of the nuclear shield," he added.)
1. Expert: Russia Could Counter Security Threats By Employing Medium-Range Missiles
(for personal use only)
Russia could employ medium-range missiles to counter security threats, resulting from nuclear proliferation, Major General Vladimir Vasilenko, head of the 4th Central Research and Development Institute of the Russian Defense Ministry, told Interfax-Military News Agency on Tuesday.
"There are still nuclear proliferation trends, and certain states of the ex-nuclear club upgrade and beef up their nuclear stocks. Researches prove that such new challenges may pose certain threats to Russia in the future. Deploying ground-based medium-range missiles may be one of the options for ensuring national security," Vasilenko said.
The 4th Central Research and Development Institute specializes in strategic arms.
According to Vasilenko, Russia has preserved the technological backlog for developing ground-based medium-range missiles, as well as corresponding production facilities.
At the same time, according to Vasilenko, the fact that Russia is a signatory to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), singed by the USSR and the U.S. in 1987, is of paramount importance.
He pointed out that under the INF Treaty all signatories are not to produce, test, or deploy ground-based short- and medium-range ballistic and cruise misiles.
"The INF Treaty is not limited in time, although any party is entitled to withdraw from the treaty if it decides that its provisions jeopardize such country's higher interests," Vasilenko said.
According to him, mass media have repeatedly discussed the feasibility of Russia withdrawing from the INF Treaty over the past few years.
"The issue is regularly discussed in military, political, and scientific circles as well. In this light, it is worth mentioning the official statement of the Russian Foreign Ministry, made in 2005, which says that Russia adheres to the INF Treaty," he said.
2. ICBM Development Does Not Envision Increasing Nuclear Power - Expert
(for personal use only)
The development of future missile systems underway in Russia does not envision increasing nuclear power, Major General Vladimir Vasilenko, head of the Defense Ministry's 4th Central Research and Development Institute, told Interfax-Military News Agency on Tuesday.
"I would like to mention a crucial thing - research and development, aimed at refining missile systems in service with the Strategic Missile Forces and the strategic nuclear forces as a whole, does not intend to increase nuclear power or find any other nuclear effects," Vasilenko said, commenting on major features of missile systems being developed.
The 4th Central Research and Development Institute specializes in strategic weapons.
According to Vasilenko, developing new strategic missile systems is a natural process of maintaining the combat strength of the Strategic Missile Forces, since service lives of existing missile systems tend to expire.
"First and foremost, new strategic missile systems feature increased protection against nuclear effects and conventional weapons, including those in the inventory of sabotage teams and terrorist units," Vasilenko said.
According to him, given the ever increasing terrorist threat, the new systems feature cutting-edge nuclear security enforcement techniques.
"They are also more reliable at all stages of operation," Vasilenko said.
For instance, according to him, better maneuverability, camouflage and endurance of a mobile independent ground-based missile launcher will considerably increase its survivability.
"Contemporary missiles can efficiency penetrate numerous missile defenses," he said.
According to him, the strategic nuclear forces have decided to standardized systems, integrated into various missile systems, as much as possible, which will considerably reduce the cost and simplify modernization of the strategic nuclear forces.
3. Russia Launches Project To Create Next-generation Nuclear Submarine
(for personal use only)
Russia's navy command has approved a project to design and build a next-generation submarine with limited displacement, Anatoliy Shlemov, head of the Defence Ministry's Naval Orders, Deliveries, Armaments and Hardware Department, told Interfax-Military News Agency on Wednesday (8 February).
"A submarine of this class will guarantee force protection (boyevaya ustoychivost) to Yuriy Dolgorukiy-class strategic nuclear-powered missile submarines and fulfil other tasks performed by multipurpose nuclear submarines," Shlemov said.
"The displacement of this class of submarines must be 5,000-6,000 tonnes," the military said.
According to him, "the mission has been assigned, and it will be carried out during the development of the state armament programme, which is currently conducted by the Defence Ministry."
"This is what the navy has suggested including in the armament programme, but so far it is only a concept based on the analysis of the Russian navy's submarine forces development in the year of their 100th birthday," Shlemov noted.
He stressed that a tender will be held to determine the enterprise that will be tasked with building the submarines. "Both the Rubin central naval design bureau and the St Petersburg-based Malakhit naval machine-building design bureau have quite interesting developments," he added.
Asked why the missions assigned to the new submarine cannot be accomplished by the multipurpose submarines currently under construction, such as the Severodvinsk, Shlemov said, "The Severodvinsk is an assault submarine, and it is quite expensive, because it carries a lot of armaments, and it would be incorrect and wasteful to use such a submarine for providing force protection of underwater cruisers."
"That is why we have assigned the mission to create a new submarine with limited displacement on the basis of design bureau developments in underwater shipbuilding," he concluded.
Russian Navy Commander Vladimir Masorin told reporters in St Petersburg on 31 January that four submarines will make up the nucleus of the Russian Navy's submarine forces.
"The Borey complex will be the backbone of the strategic submarine forces. A multipurpose nuclear-powered cruise missile submarine (the Severodvinsk - Interfax-AVN) is being built at Severodvinsk shipyards, tests of a diesel-electric submarine (the Lada Project - Interfax-AVN) are nearing completion and the construction of one more submarine is planned," Masorin said. He declined to name the fourth submarine type.
1. Chernobyl tender winner to be revealed in several weeks - EBRD
(for personal use only)
The winner of a tender to build a new shell that should keep the site of the world's worst nuclear disaster safe for future generations will be announced no sooner than in a few weeks' time, a spokesman for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development said Tuesday.
The EBRD representative thereby refuted previous media reports citing Ukrainian Emergency Situations Minister Viktor Baloga that the winner of Chernobyl tender would be announced in London today.
The spokesman said that a Chernobyl Shelter Fund (CSF) Donor Assembly's meeting was being held in London, but added that the process to assess bids could take few weeks.
In May 2005, 28 member states of the CSF Donor Assembly agreed to allocate $200 million for the construction of a new, safe shelter for the power plant in Ukraine, which was hit by an accident almost 20 years ago that sent shockwaves throughout the world.
The new structure will replace the old "sarcophagus", which was built in 1986 to cover the reactor at the center of a blast that spewed radioactive clouds across the region and beyond. It has since covered Unit 4 at the plant, but emerging cracks have led to fears that high radioactivity may again seep out.
The fund, which is managed by the EBRD and includes the elite Group of Eight industrialized nations, the European Union and Ukraine, has already collected more than $1 billion.
The construction of the new shell, an arch-shaped structure big enough to house the Statue of Liberty, will begin in 2007 and will be completed in one or two years. It is designed to serve for at least 100 years.
EBRD President Jean Lemierre said he was confident that Ukraine would build the reactor shell, which is only about 130 kilometers (80 miles) north of the capital Kiev, within the project's timeframes and the country's government would maintain strict control over expenses.
Following the 1986 Chernobyl accident, the worst in the history of nuclear power, about 135,000 people from within a 30-kilometer (18-mile) radius were evacuated, which has left the surrounding area looking like a ghost town to this day. After the explosion which happened during testing on the night of April 25-26, 1986, radioactive contamination spread not only across Ukraine (then part of the Soviet Union), but also into neighboring Russia and Belarus and even some countries of northern and western Europe.
2. Head of Russian Nuclear Plant To Face Negligence Charges
(for personal use only)
RIA-Novosti reported that Russia's Supreme Court has endorsed a regional court's decision to strip the head of the Mayak nuclear reprocessing plant of his parliamentary immunity and start criminal proceedings against him over alleged negligence leading to an increase in radiation levels.
Russia's Supreme Court deems as legal the decision by the Chelyabinsk Region court in the Urals to go ahead with proceedings against Director General of the Mayak chemical plant, Vitaliy Sadovnikov, the report said.
The Mayak plant is in the closed town of Ozersk, where the Russian Atomic Energy Agency (Rosatom) has facilities.
Sadovnikov is a deputy in the Chelyabinsk Region Legislative Assembly, but in accordance with Russian law deputies can be brought to criminal account if a court decides they have acted criminally, RIA-Novosti reported. As director general of the Mayak plant, Sadovnikov "carried complete responsibility for the water system," the agency was told at the Urals Federal District prosecutor's office.
In 2001, radiation levels in the Techa River were found to be "dozens of times higher than the set norm," the report said, quoting Deputy Prosecutor General of the Urals Federal District, Yuriy Zolotov.
"It emerged during investigations that he (Sadovnikov) did not inform the heads of Rosatom about the situation, nor request means to correct the situation," the agency quoted Zolotov as saying earlier.
During investigations launched in April last year, it was found that "10 million cu m. of liquid radioactive waste are seeping into the general water basin through a worn-out dam and the dikes leading from it", RIA-Novosti was told at the Urals Federal District prosecutor's office.
1. Ignalinsk Nuclear Power Station Linked with Al-Qaeda
(for personal use only)
Viktoria Zakurko, a Lithuanian citizen, was arrested in the UK last weekend suspected of links with al-Qaeda. British and Lithuanian law enforcement agencies are particularly apprehended since the detainee’s father works in the security of the Ignalinsk nuclear power station.
The Lithuanian, who now resides in Liverpool, has been arrested on the grounds of her relations with Lebanon’s citizen Mohammed Benhammedi who is believed to be a financier of al-Qaeda. The 19-year-old met the Lebanese businessman through mutual friends and left for Liverpool where she “met him every second night”, she says.
Benhammedi was detained last Wednesday and charged with violations of migration regulations. His accounts were frozen as suspected to be financing al-Qaeda. Viktoria Zakurko told the British press that she does not believe the accusations and ready to wait for her lover all her life.
The British police got apprehended as they learnt that the girl’s father, Sergey Zakurko, works in Lithuania as a security man at the Ignalinsk nuclear power station.
1. Andreeva Bay cleanup needs regulatory, infrastructure changes
(for personal use only)
Special regulations for workers trying to clean up nuclear waste and spent fuel at the former military base at Andreeva Bay and the village of Gremikha in northwest Russia have to be developed quickly, Norwegian radiation authorities said in a report published at the end of last year.
However, completely improving infrastructure to help make the work safer could increase the potential of radioactive contamination, they said. That's because spent fuel storage could deteriorate further during the six to seven years it would take to shore up the infrastructure, they said.
The report suggests that the best solution could be to make some critical infrastructure improvements?such as new roads and decontamination facilities?combined with new regulations, for an optimum combination of safety and expediency.
The authors also noted that cleanup workers are using radiation protection equipment and standards that were used by naval personnel working with nuclear material and that they are not appropriate for land-based cleanup in a harsh climate. In addition, they said that much of the individual protection gear is antiquated.
The Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority (NRPA) has been working closely with the Russians on cleanup of the areas. In their report, officials said that both areas have "dose rates higher than allowed by the routine regulations ... on site operations carry a significant health risk."
They added that work that would improve the situation, such as moving the spent fuel to safer, temporary storage, is also not permitted under existing regulations.
Although infrastructure changes such as repackaging of spent fuel would increase the safety of the cleanup work, the Norwegians said that ultimately "it would not change the basic nature of the work that has to be carried out in the most radiation-hazardous conditions."
The main radioactive contaminants at both sites appear to be cesium-137, cobalt-60 and strontium-90, the report's authors said. But they emphasized that information about the type and amount of radioactivity in the two areas needs to be better researched and verified. "It is impossible to assess the overall influence of the facility on the environment on the basis of the limited data available," they said.
2. RADIO INTERVIEW ON CHEMICAL WEAPONS WITH VIKTOR KHOLSTOV, DEPUTY HEAD OF THE FEDERAL AGENCY FOR INDUSTRY
Official Kremlin International News Broadcast
(for personal use only)
Anchor: Good day. It is the Panorama program on Mayak radio. I am Vladimir Averin. Mayak again discusses the problem of elimination of chemical weapons because this is really a very important problem for Russia, because it concerns those who live in populated areas where chemical weapons scrapping facilities are under construction or are in operation, because this problem has been used by some individuals for speculation purposes. Rossiiskaya Gazeta has been very active in discussing this problem, and the Federal Industry Agency deals with all those problems. Our guest is Viktor Kholstov, deputy head of the Federal Industry Agency. Good day, Viktor Ivanovich.
Kholstov: Good day.
Anchor: I have mentioned Rossiiskaya Gazeta, and I would like to quote excerpts from an article published last December. Several years ago a child was born in a hospital in Shchuchye, where such an enterprise is in operation, and doctors and his mother were shocked. The baby was born without hands and legs. Naturally, environmentalists protesting against the construction of a chemical weapons scrapping facility have used that child as their symbol.
It later turned out that the mother, a Chelyabinsk resident, behaved in a very loose manner, and during her pregnancy she never visited medical people. She decided to give birth to her child in the best district hospital of the Kurgan region, where she came from Chelyabinsk. It later turned out that the baby was born disfigured not because his mother lived in an area where chemical weapons were scrapped but because she was a drunkard, a drug addict, and that was happening in the city of Chelyabinsk. Just in case, she chose the best hospital.
This gives rise to many questions: why is it necessary to try to convince people every time that those areas where those enterprises exist are safe? Are they really safe? Can one be 100 percent confident? Why is the best hospital in the Kurgan region located in Shchuchye? Lots of questions, but let us start with the main one: is there really a 100 percent guarantee of safety in those places where chemical weapons are scrapped?
Kholstov: Really, safety and security of facilities where chemical weapons are scrapped is a very topical question from the point of view of emergence of such rumors, which often fail to be confirmed. In line with the federal law on the scrapping of chemical weapons in the Russian Federation, No. 76, adopted in 1997, focus should be made on the safety of storage and elimination of chemical weapons.
For that reason, this problem has been addressed from all aspects by specialists at all stages of preparation for the scrapping of chemical weapons, including the designing and construction of facilities. Naturally, all scientific approaches related to safe storage and scrapping of chemical weapons are taken into account. Certainly, given that chemical weapons have certain specifics, there are grounds to say that far from all the population understands what chemical weapons means.
A specialist can say: yes, I know that there are pollutants, but he may have questions about the way the process is being implemented. He needs information to draw conclusions. Rank-and-file citizens may not know what war gas means. Therefore, it is necessary to tell them what it is, what ways to scrap chemical weapons exist, and in what way this is done at this or that particular facility.
Anchor: I am not a big specialist in chemical weapons. Still, from the course of civil defense, I know that there are several types of pollutants, by their physical essence. There can be gas, liquid, solid substances. There are various types of gas.
Therefore, I can suggest that various technologies are required for each particular type of chemical weapons, for scrapping them. It is very unlikely that there is some common technology allowing equally safely dealing with all types of chemical weapons, scrapping them without any hazard for human health and the environment.
Kholstov: As for technologies, I would say that really it is quite possible to define certain approaches that could be common. For example, there is a high temperature treatment technology, such as burning.
Anchor: What Americans used once?
Kholstov: Yes, what they use in other countries. It can be applied to various types of weapons. In principle, as we know, everything burns in high temperatures. But that technology cannot be applied to any chemical weapons. For example, arsenic containing products cannot be disposed of this way. The thing is that oxides and other arsenic containing components emerging during the application of that burning technology cannot be trapped by existing systems. That is, it should all go into the atmosphere.
Anchor: And no one knows which is worse.
Kholstov: On the other hand, Russia has developed the so-called two-stage technology. It is a soft process. During the initial stage, detoxication takes place -- chemical weapons interact with chemical component neutralizing those pollutants and they cease to be pollutants. That is, a substance that is not as toxic as war gas is obtained. This is an initial process. And this is not done under high temperature. The highest temperature applied is about 110 degrees Centigrade, while burning requires temperatures of 1,000 degrees and higher.
The second stage is processing of that obtained mass which is no longer a pollutant. Russia has developed this process as a result of protracted experiments, when it was selecting technologies for the scrapping of chemical weapons.
I have to say that this approach is universal to a certain measure. That is, every polluting substance has its chemical structure. It interacts either with the basic products or with acids. To dispose of those substances, various agents are required at the initial stage, and their choice depends on the specifics of a particular substance.
Anchor: Well, they are technological details. But I am also interested to know the following. If there are differences in technologies, the facilities under construction in Gorny, Shchuchye and Kambarka use various technologies, perhaps? Or have used the same technologies? Is it possible to, say, build one facility in Gorny and move all chemical weapons there from everywhere in the country? Or are different technologies used in various locations, at various facilities?
Kholstov: That's a good question. I would say that with account of specifics of chemical weapons, specifics of war gas, munitions containing war gas, every type of munitions has its own specifics. That is, it is impossible to use one line for the scrapping of all chemical weapons. But from he point of view of the ultimate goal, approaches are similar for all chemical weapons.
Anchor: I am asking because this is about the price of the issue. This is really very serious. The money that has been spent, that has been provided by the international community the money Russia has allocated for that. And it turns out that -- initially, there was one storage facility for chemical weapons, and there are other storage facilities for different types. Are those storage facilities built close to scrapping facilities? Or do you still have to move chemical weapons to long distances from those old storage facilities to new scrapping facilities, which is quite dangerous, perhaps. Is there a system for such shipments? Or has it been localized, and storage and scrapping facilities are located close to each other?
Kholstov: In principle, the problem of big shipments of chemical weapons does not exist today. Why? The thing is that those shipments are very costly. And which is less expensive: creating one facility and moving everything there, which would guarantee the whole technological cycle, or creating several facilities and scrapping chemical weapons where they are stored?
Various options were considered. An optimal solution was made. It is that facilities should be created or there are stockpiles of chemical weapons. Let me note that we have three categories of such stockpiles. The first one is chemical weapons in reservoirs, including very big reservoirs. They cannot be moved anywhere for scrapping.
The second group is chemical weapons in munitions. Actually, it might be possible to move them but --
Anchor: But it is better not to move them, if possible.
Kholstov: Right. It is better not to move them. Besides, they cannot be moved to facilities intended for scrapping chemical weapons in reservoirs, because different technologies are required. Or it is then necessary to expand the capacities of those scrapping enterprises, which adds costs. Plus there are shipment costs.
The third group is chemical weapons in aviation munitions. They also have their specifics due to their size and availability of certain pollutants in some or other munitions. Therefore, this requires the creation of special lines to scrap those chemical weapons, and this should be done to deadlines stipulated by the convention.
Anchor: Perhaps, we will speak about deadlines later. Another question I wanted to ask you. It is in connection with what I cited about the best hospital in the Kurgan region. Why is it in Shchuchye?
Kholstov: I would say that the creation of social infrastructure for ensuring citizens' safety is government policy in the process of scrapping of chemical weapons and the implementation of a relevant federal targeted program. Really, the program stipulates that up to 10 percent of funds allocated for the construction of facilities in a particular region should be used for the development of social infrastructure.
The list of social infrastructure facilities is defined as agreed with the local administration and the regional administration. Special focus is made on health institutions.
Anchor: I am afraid our listeners may be tempted to ask the following question: once so many funds have been spent on health care, something must be threatening their health. If special hospitals are built there, this means that it is necessary to treat people there. Or is there any other logic behind the decision to build health infrastructure in areas where scrapping facilities are built?
Kholstov: As for district hospitals, this problem is raised by the local administration. It is necessary to modernize hospitals, because scrapping facilities are mostly located in underdeveloped areas. So, it is quite logical that the leadership of those regions take care of the population's health.
Anchor: So, regions decide it, right?
Kholstov: Yes. As for the program, health and diagnostic centers are being built in the program's framework. Why are they needed? They are needed to monitor the population's health in those areas. People should know what disease they have now, before those facilities come into operation. Those diseases are caused by their usual problems, and people should know this. This explains why those diagnostic centers are being launched there.
When scrapping starts, naturally, medical specialist will be able to understand what happens to people's health, whether or not those facilities are hazardous to people's health. So, those medical institutions, additional institutions are being built, so the population would be able to know whether or not those facilities influence their health.
Anchor: Another problem, which also concerns government spending. Those facilities are actually greenfield projects, launched from scratch. When a facility is built, it requires labor. Then roads, housing, medical institutions, police precincts have to be built for that facility to be able to work.
All stockpiles of chemical weapons should be disposed of by 2012, as far as I remember. And this will create new problems. Just imagine: a facility will be built, there will be housing, and people will live there. In Shchuchye, for instance, the chief surgeon of the district hospital told me that the birthrate has grown, because people have jobs and they have money, 20-30 babies more are born there than in previous years.
But they may face a catastrophe in 2012, because that facility will grind to a halt as all chemical weapons will have been scrapped. And the state would tell them: okay, the program is over, and you should know decide on ways to live on. What are they going to do there?
Kholstov: This is really a big problem and the Russian government has paid attention to it. When we considered modifying the federal targeted program for the scrapping of chemical weapons in Russia, the government many times considered this problem. It is necessary to look for solutions now.
Naturally, infrastructure that is being created requires huge material and financial resources, and it would be a crime on our part not to use that infrastructure, modern infrastructure in the future.
Therefore, plans call for later converting those scrapping facilities so they would manufacture products required for the country and those regions.
Anchor: Going back to technologies and future conversion. When technologies are developed for the scrapping of the chemical weapons, are those facilities designed in such a way that it would be possible to convert them for other purposes in the future? There is a facility. Will it be necessary to mount different production equipment there to manufacture some other products?
Kholstov: In principle, production equipment should be different. As for planning for ten years in advance, you certainly realize that this is hardly possible in market conditions. There is demand for certain product today, but it is no longer needed three or four years later.
Therefore, decisions on particular products to be manufactured using those facilities, converted facilities, will be made three or four years before the end of the functioning of those facilities. That is, in 2008 or 2009 there should be understanding what products will be manufactured in this or that region as a result of conversion of those scrapping facilities. Proceeding from that, the form of ownership of a particular enterprise emerging at that converted facility will be determined.
Anchor: Another problem Rossiiskaya Gazeta addressed. Chemical weapons are scrapped and certain products are obtained as a result. I would rather not mention particular facilities, because I could mix them up, but one of them, as a result of processing, produces asphalt which could be used for road construction, in particular. And they claim that it is a safe product.
Still, they have decided not to employ it in road construction for the time being. They have decided to store it for some time there. This means that another storage facility is emerging there. There used to be a chemical weapons storage there, and now they create a storage facility for what is obtained as a result of chemical weapons disposal. This means that another dead zone is emerging there. I am afraid that as a result of that there will be a certain area there which one would fear to approach.
What can be done about it, about storage facilities, buildings, structures, munitions, reservoirs from which chemical weapons have been removed, and what has been obtained as a result of processing? Can that be used in some way? Or will it stay there surrounded by barbed wire?
Kholstov: Naturally, it is possible and necessary to use all that. The thing is that part of products obtained as a result of disposal of chemical weapons can be and will be in demand in the national economy. Take munitions. True, they are polluted, but as a result of treatment those munitions, that is, metal obtained is no longer dangerous, no longer polluted.
Anchor: So, it is just clean metal scrap?
Kholstov: Yes, metal scrap, and it will be returned into the national economy and used to make other products that are in demand in the country.
The same is true about other problems. In particular, the problem of obtaining products that are really needed from arsenic. In Russia, we do not have reserves for the production of arsenic- containing products, demand for which is quite substantial. As a result of processing of lewisite, compounds are obtained that yield arsenic oxide and arsenic proper, which is also in demand in the national economy.
Anchor: In demand by industry.
Kholstov: As for other aspects, we worked on problems of utilization of various components for decades. In fact, the raw materials base is limited. Therefore, this does not allow developing required technologies, investing funds in them to be able to later use those products.
On the other hand, the social and psychological situation strongly influences approaches to the utilization of products obtained as a result of disposal of chemical weapons.
There should be higher sanitary and hygienic requirements to those products. This is complex problem. I would say that the new version of the program takes all those aspects into account, addresses them in detail. Measures will be taken to use that infrastructure at its most, products obtained as a result of chemical weapons disposal would also be used in the national economy, make their contribution into dealing with the problems we are facing.
Anchor: I have no doubt that technology problems will be resolved. But it would be good not to forget people, not to forget specialists working there, those trained by higher educational institutions now to deal with that problem, those who work in those populated areas, those who get jobs there. One of the main objectives is making sure that they would not lose their jobs. We will continue to monitor developments.
Thank you very much. Viktor Kholstov, deputy head of the Federal Industry Agency, was our guest today. All the best.
1. First contracts on Gremikha navy base rehabilitation signed with EBRD
(for personal use only)
The projects will be carried out in the frames of grant agreement with the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development, Interfax reported.
Total four grants are signed with the participation of Rosatom, Murmansk administration and SevRAO Company. The first contract concerns the conditions for storage of the spent nuclear fuel from Alfa class nuclear submarine with liquid metal coolant reactor.
Two contracts deal with developing the concept of removing spent nuclear fuel and solid radwaste from the open storage facilities and securing safety conditions for the spent nuclear fuel in the existing facilities. The last contract concerns improving of the physical protection at the Gremikha base. The SevRAO chief engineer Victor Khandobin said to Interfax that the active phase of the contracts would begin in March. However, in the frames of the fourth project the first mobile decontamination station has been already installed. The second decontamination station is to be established by spring. The France takes part in the project in the frames of the agreement signed by France, European Bank of Reconstruction and Development and TACIS program.
Gremikha is the second land storage facility of the Northern fleet and is the biggest site for the laid-up nuclear submarines, mostly first generation. The base is situated approximately 350km from the Murmansk harbour and cannot be reached by land transport. The connection is only by sea or air. The base is accommodating 800 rods with spent nuclear fuel and six active zones from the reactors with liquid coolant of Alfa class submarines, project 705. Besides, 19 submarines and 38 reactors with unloaded spent nuclear fuel are also stored at the site. In 2001, the navy on-shore facilities in Gremikha and Andreyeva bay were handed over to the ”Northern Federal Company on handling with radioactive waste”, or SevRAO, which was established by Russia to create infrastructure on nuclear submarines dismantling, handling of the nuclear spent fuel and radioactive waste, rehabilitation of the nuclear sites in the North of Russia, reported Interfax.
1. About The Joint French-Russian Statement on Using Nuclear Energy
(for personal use only)
Russia and France are making a joint effort to improve the nuclear nonproliferation regime, disarmament, counterterrorism, and the development of nuclear energy for peaceful means.
The Joint French-Russian Statement on Using Nuclear Energy, adopted following French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin's working visit to Russia, states that the nuclear nonproliferation regime is a cornerstone of the multilateral security system.
Russia and France call on all states to comply with their obligations stemming from the Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and the guarantees resulting from the Agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and to develop effective measures to prevent illegal trafficking of nuclear equipment, technology and materials. As states parties to the NPT, Russia and France believe in ensuring the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials, and scientific and technical information to be used for nuclear energy for peaceful means and in full compliance with nonproliferation obligations.
In relation to this, Russia and France are united in their determination to settle important issues concerning the consequences of the Iranian nuclear programme for nonproliferation. Recognizing the Iranian people's legitimate right to develop a secure permanent nuclear energy program in conditions that guarantee that it will be used for peaceful means, Russia and France call on Iran to fully comply with the February resolution and requirements of the IAEA Board of Governors, including fully ceasing all activities linked with enriching and refining uranium.
The Russian proposal to create a joint venture for enriching uranium on Russian territory benefits from broad support among the international community and represents an opportunity for advancing in this direction.
2. Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov's Meeting and the Consultations at the Russian Foreign Ministry with Demetrius Perricos, Acting Head of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC)
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
(for personal use only)
On February 13, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov received acting head of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) Demetrius Perricos, with whom consultations were also held at the Foreign Ministry on matters related to the Commission's activities in Iraq and the situation with the Iraqi "disarmament dossier."
There was reaffirmed on the Russian side the necessity to close the "disarmament dossier" of Iraq on an international legal platform through the adoption of an appropriate resolution of the United Nations Security Council. In this connection the importance was emphasized of arranging constructive engagement by Iraq with international inspection and monitoring mechanisms, UNMOVIC and IAEA.
There was reconfirmed the urgency of Iraq's accession, in execution of the relevant UNSC resolutions, to international agreements and treaties with respect to the prohibition and nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction, which would among other things contribute to the strengthening of security in the region.
3. Vladimir Putin met with the G8 finance ministers
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
(for personal use only)
The finance ministers are in Moscow for a meeting between the heads of the financial departments of the G8 member states. The meeting is taking place within the framework of Russia's G8 presidency that began in 2006.
British Finance Minister Gordon Brown, German Federal Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck, Italian Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti, Canadian Finance Minister James Flaherty, American Secretary of Finance John Snow, French Finance Minister Thierry Breton, and Japanese Finance Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki took part in the meetings in Moscow.
Austrian Federal Finance Minister Karl-Heinz Grasser, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Rodrigo de Rato, World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz, and head of the delegation of the European Commission Jose Joaquin Almunia were also at a meeting in the Kremlin.
Presidential Aide Igor Shuvalov and Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin took part from the Russian side.
The President of Russia opened the meeting. The dialogue then proceeded informally over lunch.
Earlier on at the National Hotel in Moscow the first round of meetings between G8 finance ministers took place. The meetings' purpose was to prepare the G8 summit in St Petersburg and discuss issues linked to the world economy such as energy markets and further steps on the agenda for the development and economic aspects of the struggle with infectious diseases on a global scale. Following the summit the ministers adopted a joint declaration.
Opening Address at the Meeting with G8 Finance Ministers
Good afternoon dear gentlemen!
I am very glad to welcome you to Moscow and I expect that this first meeting between G8 finance ministers during the Russian presidency will create a good basis both for further joint work in fields such as energy and education, and for future high-level contacts.
I must say at once that the G8 presidency in 2006 represents one of Russia's foreign policy priorities. And we believe that it is extremely important to not only make a new contribution but also to continue the work begun by the G8. It is obvious that such an approach will allow us to seriously increase the positive results that are a product of the G8's work over the past few years. We intend to work in just that way concerning all the issues that have been put forward for the summit's agenda in St Petersburg.
As you know these issues are the following: international energy security, the struggle with infectious diseases, and problems related to education.
We consider that these issues are extremely important for the whole international community as well as for our partners within the G8. And I shall add that today all of these issues are priorities for Russia itself, since Russia is embarked on large-scale tasks concerning economic modernization, the development of human capital, and strengthening its position in the world's financial and economic system.
You are certainly familiar with the general results of our work in 2005. I shall just allow myself to say that in 2005 GDP growth was 6,4 percent, the gold and currency reserves grew and today amount to 185 billion USD. The federal budget surplus amounts to 7,5 percent of GDP. We are reducing the trade surplus by a significant amount.
According to leading international agencies and auditors the forecasts concerning Russia's future remain favourable. We have almost completed negotiations for Russia's accession to the WTO. I hope that this will take place. Today the main problem that has not been resolved are negotiations with our American partners. I expect that in the very near future we will also be able to conclude these negotiations.
Returning to the agenda of this year's G8 summit I shall touch on its general characteristics and main items.
In many respects energy defines international security and social and economic development today. In practice the well-being of millions of people directly depends on it, on energy security. We consider that the G8 will be able to develop a coordinated strategy in this sphere, a strategy that allows us to ensure that the world's population and global economy have access to energy resources at affordable prices and with minimal damage to the environment.
In our opinion, we need a number of measures to ensure the stability and predictability of the supplies of electrical energy, nuclear energy and raw materials such as oil and gas for world markets. Unfortunately, today these markets are subject to serious political, technical and ecological risks.
One of the most important tasks is increasing energy supplies and their effectiveness, developing alternative sources of energy, and the struggle with the so-called energy poverty of developing countries.
Forming a favourable investment climate and stable transparent rules in the global energy sector have a serious role to play in energy security. In Russia we are already working on such rules and are ready to discuss them with our partners.
Another fundamental direction is developing a constructive dialogue between basic producers and consumers of energy resources. In our opinion, that dialogue must be supported by developing coordinated collective measures aimed at stabilizing markets, especially in crisis situations. Therefore when we speak about collective measures we must not forget that market mechanisms play the key role. And the task of the G8 and other international forums is to create the conditions for them to be able to work in an uninterrupted way.
The G8 must address the topical problem of the spread of infectious diseases. These illnesses are responsible for a third of all the deaths that occur in the world. We believe that we should pay very close attention to strengthening the global network that allows us to gain information and monitor infectious diseases, including those that are reappearing today.
Such a system must react to new threats in an operative way so as to minimize both the human and economic losses from epidemics.
In addition we suggest adopting a G8 action plan concerning the struggle against the avian flu and preventing a possible pandemic of flu among humans, and also developing a number of measures to prevent natural catastrophes from resulting in epidemics.
In connection with this I highly value the results of January's conference on avian flu that took place in Beijing and following which donors took upon themselves the responsibility for allocating 1,9 billion USD to finance measures in the struggle against this disease.
We also welcome proposals from finance ministers on how to analyse the financial and economic consequences of a possible flu pandemic. I believe that in addition to being able to make an accurate forecast it is important to develop concrete coordinated steps to minimize the potential losses for the global economy.
Certainly during the Russian presidency we shall look at how previous decisions by the G8 regarding eradicating polio, the struggle against HIV infections, AIDS and tuberculosis are being implemented.
It is obvious that problems in the field of education are global in nature. Today improving the quality and effectiveness of national education systems is an absolute must. Mankind's general progress and, especially, the prospects for developing a dialogue between civilizations and cultures, and counteracting extremist ideology that uses violence, intolerance, and the threat of terror directly depend on this.
By raising the issue of education we shall also discuss systematic problems such as innovative policies, demography, language and the social and cultural acclimatization of migrants.
2005 was a successful year for the global economy and the rates of growth exceeded four percent. However, despite good predictions for growth in 2006 there are a number of occasions for concern. The global economic and financial architecture can prove unstable. We are also going to touch on this problem during the St Petersburg summit. Of course I would like to hear your opinions on this issue during today's meeting.
In this context I would also like to touch on the theme of preventing money laundering and terrorist financing. We suggest that G8 members share their experience in this issue and further strengthen the potential for other countries to be effective in this field. It is important to expand the geographical aspect of the said tasks and pay special attention to Central Asia. We consider that the G8 countries could participate in a more active way in the activities of the Eurasian countries along the lines of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. In particular by sending experts together with Russian specialists to carry out training sessions in these countries.
Certainly, during the Russian presidency we are going to bring up a number of questions concerning so-called development assistance. In the past few years we have paid constant attention to these issues and Russia plans to increase its participation in international efforts in this direction. Literally just the other day we made fundamental decisions about participating in the IMF's programmes for providing financial assistance to poor countries suffering from all kinds of external shocks—technical, financial and economic ones. Between 2006 and 2010 a voluntary payment of 30 million special loan rights, equivalent to approximately 43,5 million USD, will be allocated for this purpose.
I would like to draw your attention to another one of our initiatives that we believe will help the development of the poorest countries. I am referring to Russia's readiness to carry repay the Paris Club up to 11,9 billion USD ahead of schedule. I know that Mr Kudrin has already discussed this problem with you and I think that a little later you will be able to express your opinion on this issue. I would be interested to know your opinion.
It is well-known that today some creditor countries lack the necessary amounts of free financial resources. And they can use financial resources from Russia to fulfil their obligations to the International Development Association for cancelling the debts of the poorest countries. From a budgetary and technical point of view this is easily resolved because if Russia repays its debts ahead of schedule it means that this money will not have been taken into account in your countries' current budgets.
In turn, Russia is ready to pay the International Development Association up to 587 million USD to cover the remaining deficit in its balance, the so-called structural financing gap.
Implementing our numerous proposals will allow us to ensure the financial stability of the International Development Association for a minimum of five to ten years, depending on the scenario we choose.
This initiative supplements the obligation taken by the G8 members at Gleneagles to write off the debts of the poorest countries. And I emphasize that this does not go against the financial and political interests of the donor countries.
I believe that our partners' support for Russia's proposal will act as real proof of the G8's readiness to carry out its obligations concerning writing off the debts and helping the poorest countries of the world.
And in conclusion I would like to say that I am absolutely convinced of the fact that the Russian Federation's high-quality work in various formats, including in the meeting between G8 finance ministers, will undoubtedly help the search for finding more effective joint solutions to the tasks at hand.
Once again I warmly welcome you to Moscow and I wish you successful work.
Thanks very much for your attention.
We agreed that we shall now have a public meeting in which the press will also participate that will be followed by a photography session. We shall then pass to lunch where we will be able to discuss all the problems you consider necessary in an informal atmosphere.
I hope that yesterday evening was successful and that, despite the cold, you are enjoying Moscow.
4. HEARING OF THE SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE - NEW INITIATIVES IN COOPERATIVE THREAT REDUCTION
Federal News Service
(for personal use only)
SEN. LUGAR: (Sounds gavel.) The meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is called to order. The committee meets today to examine United States policies and programs in two critical threat reduction areas: conventional weapons dismantlement and counter- proliferation assistance.
Senator Obama and I observed first-hand United States efforts in both of these areas during visits to Ukraine and Azerbaijan last August. These visits and our subsequent joint research convinced us that the United States can and should do more in these areas. On November 1, 2005, we introduced Senate Bill 1949, the "Cooperative Proliferation Detection and Interdiction Assistance and Conventional Threat Reduction Act." Modeled after the Nunn-Lugar program, our new legislation seeks to build cooperative relationships with willing countries to secure vulnerable stockpiles of conventional weapons and to strengthen the ability of other nations to detect and to interdict illicit shipments of weapons or materials of mass destruction.
The Nunn-Lugar program must, and will, remain our flagship nonproliferation program. The elimination of threats at their source is the most effective means of preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction. But the United States has the ability to perform multiple missions in response to proliferation threats. Focusing more attention on the threats posed by conventional weapons and improving the capabilities of other nations to interdict weapons of mass destruction can be achieved without negative consequences for the Nunn-Lugar program. The lessons learned from the Nunn-Lugar experience should be applied to other fronts in the fight against terrorism and weapons proliferation. To do less would be irresponsible and would forfeit critical national security opportunities.
The first part of our legislation would energize the United States program against unsecured light-weight anti-aircraft missiles and other conventional weapons. There may be as many as 750,000 man- portable air defense systems in arsenals worldwide. The State Department estimates that more than 40 civilian aircraft have been hit by such weapons since the 1970s. In addition, loose stocks of small arms and other weapons help fuel civil wars in Africa and elsewhere and provide the means for attacks on peacekeepers and aid workers seeking to stabilize war-torn societies.
In Iraq, we have seen how unsecured stockpiles of artillery shells and ammunition have been reconfigured into improvised explosive devices that have become the insurgents' most effective weapons. Senator Obama and I are attempting to ensure that everything possible is being done to secure such stockpiles worldwide.
American efforts to safeguard conventional stockpiles are underfunded, fragmented, and in need of high-level support. The United States government's current response is spread between several programs at the Department of State. The planning, coordination and implementation of this function should be consolidated into one office at the State Department with a budget that is commensurate with the threat posed by these weapons.
The second part of the Lugar-Obama legislation would strengthen the ability of America's friends and allies to detect and intercept illegal shipments of weapons and materials of mass destruction. American forces cannot be everywhere at once. Our security depends not just on the willingness of other nations to help; it depends on whether they have the capabilities to be effective. The State Department engages in several related anti-terrorism and export control assistance programs. But these programs are focused on other stages of the threat, not on detection and interdiction. Thus, we believe there is a gap in our defenses that needs to be filled.
The Proliferation Security Initiative has been successful in enlisting the help of other nations for detection and interdiction operations. But some PSI countries lack the capabilities to be active and effective partners. Lugar-Obama seeks to improve the capabilities of foreign partners by providing equipment, training and other support.
Examples of such assistance may include maritime surveillance and boarding equipment, aerial detection and interdiction capabilities, enhanced port security and the provisions of hand-held detection equipment and passive WMD sensors.
The legislation would create a new office at the State Department to support and coordinate United States assistance in this area. Existing foreign assistance law contains discretionary authority for the secretary of State to establish a list of countries that should be given priority in U.S. counterproliferation funding. It is our view that these efforts have been insufficient, and as a result, we believe that such a program should be mandatory.
The Lugar-Obama bill sets aside $110 million to start up the program and proposes an innovative use of current foreign military financing assistance. Under the bill, the president would ensure that countries receiving foreign military financing would use 25 percent of these funds on weapons of mass destruction interdiction and detection capabilities, unless the president determines that U.S. national security interests are not served by doing so. This offers a potent but flexible tool to build a robust international network to stop proliferation.
Senator Obama and I have sought to work closely with the administration on our legislation.
We have raised the issue in several venues and have been given general statements of support. But today we are eager to finally receive an official reaction from the administration and to discuss ways in which our legislation can be perfected.
I believe the Bush administration recognizes the problems we're trying to address. Last month Senator Obama and I wrote to Secretary Rice urging full funding for programs aimed at counterproliferation and safeguarding conventional weapon stockpiles. I'm pleased that funding for the Nonproliferation, Anti-Terrorism, De-mining and Related Programs account received a $43 million increase in the administration's budget request over the amount enacted last year.
Historically, however, new threat reduction techniques and proposals have not always been warmly received by the executive branch. I remember well the initial executive branch reaction to the introduction of the Nunn-Lugar program in 1991. Senator Sam Nunn and I were told by the administration the United States was already doing everything necessary to address the problems proposed by proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the collapse of the Soviet Union. We were astounded by this response because other sources, including Russian military leaders themselves who had come to visit with us, were describing rampant difficulties with the security around weapons of mass destruction. They voiced their fears of an emerging black market in WMD fueled by economic desperation and collapsing governmental authority. Only months later, after Defense Department officials were on the ground in Russia witnessing the problem, did the administration begin to recognize the urgency of the situation.
The proliferation threats that Senator Obama and I have witnessed may be less comprehensive than those that confronted the United States at the genesis of the Nunn-Lugar program, but the problems are obvious, nonetheless. Moreover, the security gaps exist in an era when we know that terrorist groups are actively seeking both weapons of mass destruction and lethal conventional arms.
We have seen these vulnerable stockpiles in person and we are resolved to do something about them. We understand that the United States cannot meet every conceivable security need everywhere in the world, but filling the security gaps that we have described should be near the top of our list of current priorities.
We are asserting that these problems have not received adequate attention.
Senator Obama and I are hopeful for a constructive response that recognizes the nuances of the threats involved and the necessity of preventing bureaucratic obstacles to action. We are hopeful for a partnership with the administration that assigns these tasks a high priority. We look forward to working closely with the administration to get this done.
To assist the committee in our evaluation today, I am pleased to recognize our friend Undersecretary of State Bob Joseph. Undersecretary Joseph has been a good friend of this entire committee and a tireless advocate for United States national security through his work on the Proliferation Security Initiative, Libya's renunciation of weapons of mass destruction and many other important projects. We especially appreciate his willingness to appear today, given the intense schedule he has undertaken with regard to the Iranian nuclear issue. We thank you in advance for being with us and to share the administration's views of the legislation, to help us through important nonproliferation/threat reduction issues.
Before calling on Secretary Joseph, I'd like to call upon the distinguished ranking member of the committee, Senator Biden, for his opening statement.
SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Welcome, Mr. Secretary. Thanks for making the time to be here.
And thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing.
The spread of weapons of mass destruction and conventional weapons like shoulder-fired missiles, quite frankly, may be the gravest threat to our country today, especially if those weapons end up in the hands of terrorists.
We need to keep close watch on these issues in all their complexity, and the administration, it seems to me, has to give more than a voice to our fears here. It needs to address this issue in a practical way. And I think you and my colleague -- our colleague Senator Obama have suggested a way that may be a route to that.
I especially commend you for you introducing the legislation to bring more order and funding to the State Department's effort to control the proliferation of small arms, light weapons, surface-to-air missiles and tactical missiles. These weapons are, as I said, not weapons of mass destruction, but they're the -- they cause more deaths and destruction year in and year out and around the globe than all the world's strategic weapons. From Colombia and the Andes to Central Africa and South Asia, the automatic weapon in the hand of a criminal, the explosive and missiles in the hand of a terrorist pose a tremendous threat to U.S. personnel and interests, as well as to friend governments and societies.
And although our gravest concern is dealing with what Nunn-Lugar has put us on the path to deal with -- and it has not been embraced as fully, in my view, as it should be, although better now -- we can't take our eyes off the ball on this matter. We ought to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time.
And so, in my view, we may need to -- and I haven't had a chance to speak with my colleagues, but I have a few notions about S. 1949 -- it may need some amendment, and it may not, before we report it out.
But I fully expect to be a supporter of the bill at the time it's reported out, and I hope the administration will also support 1949, that is, the Lugar-Obama amendment. It seems to me the effort should be a collaborative one here, and I hope the -- I hope the secretary's here to offer support and constructive criticism, if any, to how to make it better if that's possible. Proliferation is an issue that demands cooperation among all of us who recognize the need to do more.
And Mr. Chairman, Undersecretary Joseph is, of course, a senior policymaker regarding WMD as well, and I admit at the outset I may take advantage of your presence, Mr. Secretary, to ask you a few questions about nuclear programs of Iran and North Korea, if that's permissible. We need to know where you're going, and I think your, quite frankly, editorial comment moving in the right direction on Iran. I'm not sure about Korea, but at some point maybe we can talk about that as well. Notwithstanding, the central focus is this legislation.
So I thank both of my colleagues for their initiative, and I thank the secretary for being here.
SEN. LUGAR: Well, thank you very much, Senator Biden, for your opening statement.
I'd like to call upon our colleague, Senator Obama, for his opening statement.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL): Thank you so much, Mr. Chairman.
I don't think I can do a better job than you have along with our ranking member, Senator Biden, in laying out the issue that -- as you just did. So I'm going to try to keep my opening remarks relatively short.
Mr. Secretary, thank you for taking the time to be here.
You know, first of all, I want to thank our chairman, Senator Lugar, for your tireless leadership on this issue, for holding this hearing and for letting me work with you to introduce what I believe is a very good bill. And I want to thank Senator Biden for his insights and his long track record of good work on nonproliferation issues, and I think that Senator Biden's absolutely right. We've introduced this legislation. We want to fine tune it. We want to be in a cooperative relationship with the State Department to make sure that it works. But we think that this is something that needs to be done.
The Lugar-Obama legislation, S. 1914 (sic/1949), does two basic things. First, it enhances our ability working with friends and allies to detect and intercept illegal shipments of weapons and materials of mass destruction. Second, the bill bolsters ongoing efforts to destroy conventional weapons such as light-weight anti-aircraft missiles.
As the chairman pointed out in his opening statement, many of these efforts are underfunded, they're fragmented and in need of high- level support. I take note of the chairman's comments that new threat reduction proposals, even the Nunn-Lugar program, are not always received warmly by the executive branch. I agree with your testimony, Secretary Joseph, that the department does need flexibility to deal effectively with global threats and international diplomacy, but that isn't, as I see it, the issue before us today.
Every member of this committee wants to give the State Department the flexibility it needs. The issue here today is whether the State Department can use additional resources and coordination to more effectively deal with two critically important threats -- interdiction of WMDs and the destruction of conventional weapons. And I believe that it can.
I'm also concerned that the issue just simply does not get the attention it deserves within the Stat Department. I know that both the president and Secretary Rice have expressed their commitment to -- proliferation issues, but four key State Department interdiction and nonproliferation programs are either flatlined or slated for only modest increases in the president's budget. Meanwhile, a $1.2 billion increase is proposed for the Millennium Challenge Account, which will provide funding to such nations as Cape Verde, Madagascar and Vanuatu. I'm supporting the MCA and I'm not saying these countries aren't worthy of assistance, but, you know, a budget is about prioritizing strategic objectives, and in my view, the priorities don't appear appropriately aligned with the strategic threats we confront today.
Secretary, despite my concerns, I'm hopeful we can work together to make an adjustment in our budget priorities with regard to Lugar- Obama. I'm also confident that we can work in a collaborative spirit to make a good bill even better.
I would just make -- add one personal note. You know, I recently returned from Iraq. Both of you have made these trips; Joe, you've been there repeatedly. This was my first trip. And, you know, we toured in a Black Hawk helicopter with the vest and the helmet on. And the same day that I was flying to Fallujah and Kirkuk was the same day that another Black Hawk further north got shot down or something happened where 12 of our brave Marines were killed.
And we don't know exactly what happened, but I guess I would simply make the point that if it was a shoulder-to-air missile, which is possible, then those lives could potentially have been saved if we did not have -- if we did not have the kind of proliferation that we do and the ease with which MANPADS may be available on the black market. Heaven forbid if these got into the hands of terrorists and there was a commercial flight that was targeted. So, you know, I just think that when we're thinking about our defense systems and our security, that this has to be at the top of the priority list.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. LUGAR: Well, thank you very much, Senator Obama.
I'd just add one more anecdotal note before asking for your testimony. A year ago, in the summer of 2004, I went with cooperative threat reduction personnel to Albania, and that was on a mission that had been initiated by the Albanians, who were requesting help in trying to secure nerve gas, as it turned out, 16 metric tons.
One of the side aspects of this -- and it was an interesting trip because it was the first extension of the Nunn-Lugar Program outside of the United States, and we had to send memos back to Secretary Powell, eventually to the president of the United States for signature to obtain the $20 million that is now being utilized to neutralize that nerve gas.
Now in the spirit of the day, the Albanians took us to sheds in which there were 79 MANPAD missiles; likewise beyond our recognition or knowledge, other than the fact that in the spirit of the occasion, they agreed to destroy them with our assistance. They are not covered by Nunn-Lugar, and they're not covered by anything. But it led to at least some thoughts as to how they got there, the origins and the international relations that are complex. As we've mentioned, they are not the only 79 in the world. They -- thousands that are out there are important. But it is an issue that you've been dealing with, sir, and we want to appreciate both the need for flexibility, but likewise the resources as these opportunities become available.
Will you please proceed with your testimony?
MR. JOSEPH: Mr. Chairman, Senator Biden, Senator Obama, thank you very much for the opportunity to testify today. It's always an honor to appear before this very distinguished committee.
Today I've been asked to talk about the role of the State Department in implementing several key aspects of the president's strategy to combat weapons of mass destruction and to reduce the threat of dangerous conventional arms. I have provided a written statement to the committee, which I would like to summarize.
SEN. LUGAR: It will be made part of the record in full.
MR. JOSEPH: Thank you, Senator.
Let me say from the outset, as I said during my confirmation hearings this past spring, we very much want to work closely together you and your staffs, as we are doing, to achieve what I know are shared goals. Your letter of invitation to me to testify today lays out the broad objectives of S. 1949, the Lugar-Obama Bill.
Specifically, you stated that the United States must do more to assist others in detecting and interdicting weapons of mass destruction and in eliminating conventional weapons stockpiles that pose a security threat. As you know, I fully share those objectives, as well as the need that you point out in the legislation to give greater focus to the threat, and to improve the coordination of both policies and programs within the State Department, within the interagency and a multinational level.
We are working to achieve these same objectives, from stopping the proliferation trade to ending the humanitarian and security threats posed by surplus and abandoned conventional weapons stockpiles, including of course the key threat that we face from MANPADS in the wrong hands.
There are a number of elements of S. 1949 that I believe are very helpful.
At the most general level, through your sponsorship, you bring new and needed attention to these priority objectives, shining the spotlight where it is needed as you did in your speech at the U.N. on Monday.
At the operational level, the legislation offers an important broader definition of conventional arms, which is in keeping with the comprehensive nature of the threat, again, even as it puts needed emphasis and priority on the danger of MANPADS.
We also, of course, welcome the provision to provide permanent authority for the use of NDF funds outside the former Soviet states.
But just as there are positive elements, we do have some problems. The president and his administration have devoted higher priority and more funding to nonproliferation and counterproliferation and weapons reduction assistance than any of our predecessors. However, the United States, even when we are joined with very active partners, cannot do everything at once. Therefore, as I've discussed with your staff and as I know you agree, we must establish priorities, especially in a constrained funding environment.
But I would point out that even in this environment, the president's request for nonproliferation and conventional weapons destruction elements of the Nonproliferation, Anti-terrorism, Demining and Related Programs, or NADR account, would rise by a significant percentage compared to the estimate for FY '06.
Mr. Chairman, conventional weapons destruction is a significant challenge, and it does require resource -- resources that are matched to the scope of the problem. Yet it's one of a number of challenges that we face, and resources cannot come from other priorities of equal or greater value.
We carefully considered our funding proposal in light of the current budget environment and other needs. Any additional requirements that are imposed outside of the normal budgetary process would limit our ability to implement the secretary's other priorities.
In that regard, the department is concerned at the requirement in S. 1949 to devote specific percentage amounts from the NADR and the foreign military financing programs for WMD detection, interdiction and conventional arms reductions. While those objectives are clearly important and we share them, the designation of funds required by the legislation could lead us to devote resources to efforts which other agencies may be better suited to fund and could also prevent us from implementing what may be higher-priority programs in which the State Department funds might best be used.
Further, we do not support the organizational changes called for in S. 1949, but not because we disagree with their purpose. On the contrary, we believe that the recent restructuring in the State Department configures us well to pursue the objectives of the legislation in both counterproliferation and conventional weapons reduction.
As you know and as you supported, Senator, we have created a new Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, a new post of principal deputy assistant secretary for Counterproliferation and new offices responsible for counterproliferation initiatives, WMD, terrorism and strategic planning.
The Office of Counterproliferation Initiatives is bringing new focus to the department's counterproliferation efforts, including the Proliferation Security Initiative and other defensive measures against proliferation.
The Office of WMD Terrorism directly confronts the nexus between terrorism and WMD, and is working to help build the capabilities of our friends and allies to prevent, protect against and respond to the use or threat of use of WMD by terrorists.
The Office of Strategic Planning and Outreach undertakes planning, program analysis and evaluation to encourage new and innovative thinking to meet today's and tomorrow's threats.
We've also retained the relatively new Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the Bureau of Political Military Affairs, to provide a strategic focus on the growing conventional weapons proliferation threat. This office, which we formed in 2003, unites formerly separate nits responsible for humanitarian demining, mine action, and small arms and light weapons initiatives, allowing our organizational structure better to pursue the comprehensive approach to this problem that is required and that I believe is envisaged in S. 1949.
The Department of State is taking an active leadership role in pursuing both counterproliferation and conventional weapons destruction goals reflecting the strong personal commitment of the secretary and my own. These areas are important priorities both within the State Department and more broadly within the administration. The department vigorously leads U.S. efforts to deepen the international foundation for action against proliferation; examples include the progress we've made in elevating proliferation to a core concern of G-8 leaders, the passage of the landmark U.N. Security Council Resolution 1540 and the creation and expansion of the Proliferation Security Initiative.
This past fall I traveled to central Asia, East Asia and the Middle East to expand international efforts to broaden active participation in PSI by states in those regions. I emphasized to the governments in central Asia the need to cooperate more with us in improving WMD detection and interdiction, and they have responded positively. Outside of PSI specifically, the same is true with South Korea and others. Next week, we will have our first meeting of a new counterproliferation task force with the United Arab Emirates, which, as you know, is a critical transshipment point.
While much of the specific operational work for detection and interdiction is carried out by other agencies, for example, the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department's Export Control and Border Security program does help to build partners' capacity to participate effectively in PSI. And the department overall takes the diplomatic lead in establishing priorities for fostering and implementing these vital efforts.
We admittedly as a department and as an administration need to do even more in these areas, especially an effective prioritization of and follow-through on detection. But as you know, increasing our capacity for WMD interdiction is about much more than money and assistance. We have requested an increase in NADR funds for 2007 related to WMD interdiction for projects that would help partners improve their overall interdiction capability.
At its core, however, increasing WMD interdiction is even more about increasing active cooperation through PSI and other means. Many of these collaborative efforts with our friends and allies are with partners who do not need our assistance, but who do contribute greatly through information sharing and through coordination of capabilities, both with regard to military and law enforcement action. In contrast, the roles -- the role of the department in conventional weapons elimination is both diplomatic and programmatic. Working with other agencies and other governments, we provide site surveys, assistance for physical security and stockpile management and for de-mining and destruction of excess weapons and munitions.
In some cases, like Cambodia and Bosnia, our dealing with landmine problems has given us access to small arms and light weapons, particularly MANPADS.
We have fully integrated programs to address land mines, ordnance, and small-arms light weapons in Iraq, Afghanistan and Sudan and we're working to do the same in several other countries. For a relatively small amount of money, the Department of State, with the assistance, of course, of the Department of Defense and others, has destroyed or disabled over 17,000 at-risk MANPADS, and we have commitments for the destruction of over 7,000 more.
The department looks forward to working with this committee to address how best to enhance our ability to meet the full spectrum of WMD missile and conventional threats that we face as a nation. As I mentioned, more flexible funding authority could help us take on higher-priority tasks, some unforeseen, for which other agencies or other governments are not as well equipped. We also would welcome an extension of the period covered by our conventional arms destruction funds. At the moment, most of those appropriations are good for only one year. It often takes that much time, if not more, to agree with a government on a program, let alone to start it or to complete it.
Mr. Chairman, on behalf of the department, I'd like to thank you and other members of your committee for your leadership and support as we have worked to confront the threat of weapons of mass destruction, missiles, and dangerous conventional arms. As I've described, we've been working hard to develop innovative and more effective tools. We have had considerable success, but there is still much to be done.
Again, I look forward to working with you and the committee to ensure that the department implements fully the transformational diplomacy that is required to protect the American people, our friends and our allies from the threats of the 21st century.
Thank you, sir.
SEN. LUGAR: Well, thank you very much, Secretary Joseph.
Let me correct the record. I misspoke in my last comments before you began when I talked about the Albanian experience as the first outside the United States. I meant to say outside Russia. That has been the purview of the cooperative threat reduction situation.
I have several questions. And I'm going to suggest we have a time limit of 10-minute rounds so that we can proceed, and then we'll come back and raise questions that we were not able to raise in the first 10 minutes.
Let me start, Secretary Joseph, by saying that Congress has specifically authorized the president to provide countries with proliferation interdiction assistance under Chapter 9 of Part II of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. The relevant provisions state that the president should ensure that not less than 25 percent of the assistance provided in that chapter is expended on transit interdiction. More specifically, it calls on the president to enhance the capabilities of friendly countries to detect and interdict proliferation-related shipments of cargo that originate from or are destined for other countries. It goes on to suggest that priority should be given to any friendly country that has been determined by the secretary of State to be a country frequently transited by proliferation-related shipments of cargo.
My question is to you, Secretary Joseph, do you believe that Chapter 9 of the Foreign Assistance Act currently provides all the authority the department needs to coordinate and implement proliferation detection and interdiction assistance?
MR. JOSEPH: Senator, I believe that it does, and I believe that based on the fact that no one has raised the issue that we require more authorities for that purpose. And I devote an enormous amount of my time to this issue, and if there had been, you know, a suggestion of a problem, I probably would have been informed of that.
SEN. LUGAR: Let me follow up. On this same general area, is it your view the department is currently following all the provisions of Chapter 9 of Part II of the Foreign Assistance Act, in particular with regard to, one, establishing a list of countries that should be given priority in U.S. transit interdiction funding, and, two, ensuring that not less than 25 percent of Chapter 9 funds are used for transit interdiction?
MR. JOSEPH: Senator, if I may get back to you on that, I will give you the specifics.
SEN. LUGAR: Very good. If you will do so for the record, we would appreciate it.
MR. JOSEPH: I will do so.
SEN. LUGAR: Now, thirdly in conjunction with this question, what programs are used to meet requirements of Chapter 9? And what percentage of the funds expended by these programs go to detection and interdiction assistance as opposed to export controls and other efforts?
MR. JOSEPH: Senator, as I mentioned in my opening statement, we do have a significant effort that is reflected in the export control and related border security assistance. This is a program that involves efforts with 50 countries or more. It is a program that contributes to detection and interdiction in a number of ways really across the spectrum, from trying to work with others, and we've done so successfully in many cases, to build the legal authorities in those countries, to have effective export controls and to have effective customs capabilities, to training and providing equipment. It is a program that has had a great impact, I would say, on the overall objective of WMD detection and interdiction.
SEN. LUGAR: Well, with regard to this third question, will you review that, too, for the record, because I've asked what percentage of funds expended by the programs go to interdiction and detection as opposed to export controls and other efforts.
MR. JOSEPH: I will do that.
SEN. LUGAR: And I appreciate, off the top of the head, this may be difficult to respond to --
MR. JOSEPH: I'll get you the precise percentage.
SEN. LUGAR: -- but for the record, that would be helpful.
MR. JOSEPH: Yes, sir.
SEN. LUGAR: Now, in another area, listening close to your testimony, if I understand it, you believe the provisions of our bill, S. 1949, require -- requiring increased coordination are not needed, given the recent reorganization of the Arms Control and Nonproliferation Bureaus into a single International Security and Nonproliferation Bureau. Is that right, or is my understanding correct?
MR. JOSEPH: Sir, I think the key contribution of the reorganization is to put better focus on the problem -- the problem particularly related to detection and interdiction, and dealing with the threat of proliferation more broadly.
In terms of coordination, I think that we do require greater coordination, better coordination, and that we can do better in that area, both within the State Department but also within the interagency and with other countries. I think that is the key to success.
SEN. LUGAR: Now when Senator Obama and I were in Donetsk, Ukraine, we were struck by what we would call numerous moving parts within the administration on these issues. And with regard to that, I have four related questions.
First of all, would you please describe how many and which offices were involved in conventional weapons dismantlement, both before and after the reorganization of your bureaus?
Now let me ask all four of these and -- because some may require follow-up.
What mechanisms have you put in place to ensure that coordination is improved? What coordination mechanisms are in place to ensure there are no overlaps or gaps in the assistance? More specifically, how do you ensure the United States is not paying for the same item through the Export Control and Border Security program, our voluntary contributions to the IAEA fund that assists countries in similar areas, or other U.S. programs at the Department of Defense or customs?
And finally, as you have reorganized the coordination of these efforts, have you found any evidence of mismanagement or problems involving wasteful overlaps?
I'd be pleased with your response to any of this generally, but -- and then to the specific responses for the record.
MR. JOSEPH: Okay. I will provide specific responses for the record, Senator. But let me say that I am not aware, going to your last question first, of any reports of mismanagement or wasteful overlap. But again, I will get you, you know, a complete response for the record.
In terms of how many offices are involved in conventional weapons elimination or dismantlement, well, the key office, of course, is the office that I described in my testimony, the office within the Political Military Bureau dealing with weapons removal and abatement.
This was our attempt to bring together into one office the disparate functions that were separated prior to the creation of that office in 2003 relating to conventional weapons removal and de-mining -- everything from de-mining to the small arms-light weapons initiatives and the MANPAD initiatives that we have undertaken.
There are other offices that are involved. At the times, the office dealing with the nonproliferation and disarmament fund has been involved because they have provide resources for specific projects, and naturally there's a large coordination effort within the State Department involving many different offices. But the principal focus of the work is done within the PM -- the PM Bureau.
Your second question dealt with how has coordination improved. I think it has been improved through the reorganization and particularly the creation of this particular office dealing specifically with conventional weapons initiatives. And as to EXBS and the voluntary IAEA contributions and the question as to whether we're paying twice for the same horse, I'll get back to you. Again, I am not aware of any cases in that regard.
Thank you, sir.
SEN. LUGAR: I thank you.
Secretary Joseph, you've expressed concerns of specific funding allocations or earmarks for these programs would reduce your flexibility to address the full range of threats and issues for which you're responsible.
Let me just ask, how much has the department requested for conventional weapons dismantlement in fiscal year 2007, and how was that number determined? And to what extent is the request for the fiscal year 2007 based on a threat-risk assessment of known conventional weapons stockpiles? And in your testimony, you indicate some stockpiles of conventional weapons require urgent disposal. Under current plans, how long will it take to eliminate those threats? And if there was additional funding, would you be able to accomplish your goals faster?
MR. JOSEPH: Senator, let me say that I, of course, support the president's budget as has been submitted. The request for small arms- light weapons destruction in the NADR account for fiscal year 2007 is approximately $8.6 million. That is not the only account from which we could support the conventional elimination initiatives, including the elimination of at-risk MANPADS.
To the question of whether or not we could spend additional money, sure we could spend additional money, but it would be important that that money not be taken out of other accounts that reflect other priorities.
SEN. LUGAR: Well, I appreciate your loyal response.
Let me just say anecdotally that as we met yesterday with the king of Jordan -- and he expressed a number of security issues which are vital in the war against terrorism, and you are aware of many of these. It was apparent that the administration budget did not contemplate quite all of what he had in mind. He took this up directly with the president. And the president indicated what the budget is in the administration, but also indicated to the king if, in fact, he had a more favorable congressional response that conceivably the Congress might work its will. And I raise these questions with that thought in mind.
But I want your assessment, quite honestly, as to the risk that we have. In other words, my own view with regard to the weapons of mass destruction as well as these extremely important so-called conventional weapons is that if there is an urgent threat, we must meet it, and this is not simply a bookkeeping tabulation. And you share that view, I know. But I need, in addition to your loyal response to the administration's budget, your assessment as a professional of what we need to do, really, in this year that we're looking at.
I'd like to call now upon my distinguished colleague, Senator Biden.
SEN. JOSEPH R. BIDEN, JR. (D-DE): Thank you very much.
Mr. Secretary, what other priorities are equal or greater to than this one? You said there are other priorities that are greater. Can you list some for me?
MR. JOSEPH: Senator, I personally put the highest priority on combatting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. I have been working on that problem, as you know, for a good number of years.
SEN. BIDEN: We don't disagree on that. Any other priority that's higher than this?
MR. JOSEPH: I don't think there's another national security priority higher than stopping proliferation, and specifically meeting the challenge of nuclear terrorism.
SEN. BIDEN: No, I agree with that. I think we all agree, the highest priority is the challenge of weapons of mass destruction.
Now, you said there are other priorities of equal to or greater to than the priorities set out in this legislation. And my dad used to say that, "Show me a budget, and I'll tell you what you believe." You know, you can say -- I remember we used to have these discussions -- "We value the women in our staffs."
I said, well, show me to budget. How much do you value them? Do you value them? Do you have them at the top of the list? Because, well, you know, there as many women as men making the same amount of money, if you really value them? Do you tell me you -- not you -- you tell me you value, you know, taking care of the sick and the elderly? Well, show me what the budget says.
Now, we talk about proliferation, and we all have our anecdotal examples. Senator Lugar and I were in Iraq a couple times together very early on before the war and right after the war. I remember walking out in the street, and we were -- remember, Dick, they had this deal where they were paying for MANPADS -- you know, these surface-to-air launched missiles that could be held by an individual -- and we're paying 500 bucks, I guess, for the retrieval because there were 800,000 tons of weapons left unguarded at weapons dumps that we literally did not guard. They were looted extensively.
And I was told a story by a captain -- I didn't actually see it -- I think it was a captain -- that yep, there's a guy across the street in a corner from where -- and we were able to walk around town in those days. (Chuckles.) We were outside the Green Zone. Can't do that now. And there was a -- I'm told there was a -- one of these air -- shoulder-launched missiles leaning up against the chain-link fence that the guy just could come up with 500 bucks to pay this young Iraqi who came with him. He said, do you have any more? I didn't see this, now; I'm told this. Do you have any more? And he said, I thought I could only bring in one. He said, no, you could bring in as many as you have. And he came with a beat-up pickup truck literally, I'm told, completely filled with these missiles. He couldn't fit any more in the pickup truck.
So there's thousands of these things out there -- hundreds and hundreds, at least; I suspect thousands. And so I'm just wondering, what's a higher priority? Eight million bucks in this budget deal with conventional weapons like this; $8 million doesn't even get a blip in the screen. You all have underfunded Nunn-Lugar for four or five years on balance. We're doing a little better now.
So I'm wondering, what are the other things in the budget? It was referenced by Senator Obama that, you know, we're putting an extra billion bucks into it, and we all agreed we should be doing more in foreign aid.
But I get -- you know, I've already put you in too much of a spot, but you know, I don't get it, how there could be anything higher. I promise you that if a conventional airliner comes down in the United States with one of these weapons, poof, you're going to find this is the highest priority in the minds of every American citizen. But -- so I just think the priorities are a little misplaced.
I had a -- in recent years I've been pressing you with the help of the chairman for a requirement that before we sell or give arms or light weapons to a country, we ask what the State Department office that deals with these weapons -- your office -- thinks about the probable sale. And the reason for that is to give your office notice, a chance to offer assistance to the recipient country either on how they're going to secure these weapons or what they're going to do with the old weapons they're retiring. And is this something you guys could support?
And we'll send you -- I mean, I don't want to catch you off guard. It's in the -- we had it in our legislation, and we've not gotten much a response. But the bottom line is Defense decides to sell some of these weapons of the kind we're talking about. Sometimes it replaces older versions of similar weapons. What does the recipient country do with those weapons? And what do they have in place to secure the weapons we're selling them? It seems to me we should know that, and you guys are the ones that are the ones, I think, should be the ones looking at that. Do you have any objection to that legislation, that requirement?
SEC. JOSEPH: Senator, let me say that I will actively look at what you have proposed --
SEN. BIDEN: Good.
SEC. JOSEPH: -- and provide you with a response. I would like to have an opportunity to respond to the question of the budget, though, because I think that is a very important point.
SEN. BIDEN: Sure, I'd be happy to have you do that. Remember I've only got 10 minutes and I got two more questions, but go ahead.
MR. JOSEPH: Senator --
SEN. BIDEN: I'll tell you what. Let me ask you the other two questions so I get them in, and then you can respond to all of this. Okay? Because I -- you know, there's this rumor that I talk more than others -- (laughter) -- and so I want to be fastidious about the 10- minute rule here. (Laughter.) So I'm going to get my questions in. Then, you all can talk as long as you want.
I have two other questions if you mark that one down to respond to -- the budget. The other one is that -- I'd also like -- I'm going to submit an article to you you've already seen, February 7th, "State Department sees exodus of weapons experts," Warren Strobel, first-rate well-known reporter here, Knight Ridder. I have questions off of that I'll submit for the record I'd like you to be able to respond to.
But I want to move quickly before my time is up also to Iran, and as I said, I give you guys credit. I think the administration is on the right course keeping the international community together. You've made progress. You've stuck with the Europeans. You've put them in a position where they're going to have to, you know -- I love my European friends. They always want to do things by consensus, but sometimes when the rules are broken, they're not so willing to enforce. So you've kind of been backing them into a position where I think you'll -- they will have more -- I shouldn't say it this way, but more -- how can I say it? I was going to say -- spine, but I would -- won't say that -- more conviction about following up.
But here's the deal. We hear all the time that -- obviously, sanctions against Iraq (sic/Iran) by China, which is thirsting for energy, Russia that has been reluctant to take on Iran, and Europe which desperately needs energy -- that at the end of the day, when you go to the United Nations, we seek sanctions if that occurs; assuming we get them, that there'll probably not be real sanctions. But I want to know -- and I don't -- you don't have to give me the answer because it may be classified -- have you guys analyzed the impact that oil sanctions would have on Iran -- on Iran -- not the impact it would have on the consuming moral, but on Iran? Because it's my understanding that there is a -- that they're a net importer of refined fuels, gasoline, for example, and that Iran is incredibly dependent on the monies coming from crude oil market prices right now. Feb 09, 2006 16:33 ET .EOF
And I, for one, think this is a place we should have the nerve to pull the trigger on Iran if we get there. But my question is, has there been a hard analysis done of what the -- you believe the classified -- if it's classified, fine, I'd like to see the classified -- I'd like to ask the committee to have access to it, and in an appropriate time and place. But have you done a hard analysis on the impact sanctions would have on Iraq -- I mean Iran if, in fact, we found the nerve -- Europe and China not vetoing, but in supporting sanctions for their failure to cease and desist from their nuclear ambitions? (Pause.) And my time's up, and all those questions are yours.
MR. JOSEPH: (Chuckles.) Senator, thank you. I'll try to be very brief.
In terms of the budget, I think the budget that this administration has proposed does reflect our priorities, particularly in the area of stopping or combatting weapons of mass destruction. We have a record that goes back a good number of years now as an administration to meet the requirements of the comprehensive strategy that we have put forth for dealing with this preeminent threat to our nation. One element of that strategy is prevention, and this administration has a very proud record in terms of its budget requests for non-proliferation assistance programs -- not just CTR, but, of course, the DOE programs and the State programs that contribute to that effort.
We also, in that -- in that very same context, have worked with others, because we believe that this is an international responsibility. This is not a responsibility solely of the American taxpayer. And in 2002 the president achieved what I think is a major success in terms of the establishment of the G-8 global partnership to stop the spread of weapons and materials of mass destruction, which has resulted in billions of dollars -- I believe it's about $7 billion of commitments for this effort. I mean, that's real money.
SEN. BIDEN: How much has been expended?
MR. JOSEPH: I would have to give you the specific figures on what -- on what's been expended. But I think the fact that we have commitments in this regard of $7 billion is very significant.
We have also, of course, in terms of the second element of the strategy, the protective element, spent a great deal of money not just in efforts that we've talked about today like PSI in terms of detection and interdiction, but building our counterproliferation capabilities. Prevention may not always work. We need to be in a position to protect ourselves, and we are expending tremendous resources in that regard, everything from improving the ability of our troops in the field to operate in a chemical or biological environment to missile defense.
And third, in terms of the final element of the -- of the response -- of the strategy, we are developing our response capabilities. And Congress has appropriated billions of dollars just in the biological area alone. We are -- we are moving forward with a very comprehensive strategy to deal with this very dangerous and complex threat. And we are spending enormous amounts of money in a constrained environment on dealing with the threat, but we're doing it comprehensively.
Now, my sense, Senator, is that MANPADS represent a tremendous threat. And you are exactly right in your characterization of this. But if I had to compare the priority of MANPADS -- we've got to deal with it. There's no question about it. But the consequences of, you know, a coordinated attack using MANPADS would be -- would be very significant, some could say would be catastrophic. But I think the use of even a single nuclear weapon against an American city would be greater. And I think we've got to place our priorities in that framework.
F x x x framework.
SEN. BIDEN: That's what you call a straw man. That's what you call a straw man. No one's suggesting that you in any way -- matter of fact, I don't think you spend enough there. Your whole budget's about $450 million, and you're going to spend on missile defense this year, which I think is a cockamamie priority, a whole lot more. But that's -- that's above your pay grade and mine. And -- but how about the issue of Iran?
MR. JOSEPH: Senator, as we -- as we move forward -- and thank you for your words. As we move forward, we are analyzing all aspects of next steps that we might be able to take. I would not want to, in this context, get into the specifics of what we're looking at with regard to options for sanctions. But what you have said is -- you know, it's something that we know in terms of certain vulnerabilities that are -- that are out there.
SEN. BIDEN: Is there anyplace in the administration we can go in a classified way and get a sense of whether or not there's been a hard analysis done of what an oil embargo would do in terms of impact upon Iran? That's my question.
MR. JOSEPH: Why don't I talk to you right after this?
SEN. BIDEN: Okay. Great. Thank you.
SEN. LUGAR: Well, thank you very much, Senator Biden. And I would -- I would just underline Senator Biden's query when I understand the confidentiality. But that is important for us to know, not simply that there has been thinking by the administration on that specific response, but perhaps on a whole gamut of responses, so that in the event that at some point, heaven forbid, that we are called upon to take action in this committee or in this body, that we have been well informed and have been thoughtful throughout the process.
I'd like to call now on Senator Obama.
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator (sic) Joseph, thank you very much for your testimony so far. I just want to start by making sure we're all on the same page here. My understanding, in your interchange with Ranking Member Biden, is that you seem to be implying, at least, that we had an either/or choice between dealing with weapons of mass destruction and dealing with threats like MANPADS. And I just want to make absolutely clear for the record here that the question I understood Ranking Member Biden to be making was, setting aside the priority, the appropriate priority of weapons of mass destruction and the nonproliferation in that area, in which all of us would like to see probably more resources than the administration is currently devoting, you still have a pretty sizable budget remaining.
You still have a pretty sizable budget remaining. And the question then becomes what are the other priorities aside from weapons of mass destruction, nonproliferation, that you think might be higher assuring that shoulder-to-air missiles don't get in the hands of terrorists that can shoot down commercial flights either here in the United States or abroad?
Is there a priority higher than that from your perspective? And if it is, I think we want to know what that is because I'm not sure in my mind that there is another priority other than preventing nuclear weapons or biological or chemical weapons. So I never felt like I got a clear answer on that question, and I'm wondering if you could address that right now.
MR. JOSEPH: Senator, I'll give you a very clear answer. Other than stopping weapons of mass destruction, I personally do not think that there is, in the area that I work, a higher priority in keeping MANPADS out of the hands of the wrong people.
SEN. OBAMA: Right, okay. Good. So I actually think we're in agreement there.
So then the question becomes, I guess, is there room for improvement, and are there additional resources that the department could use in order to make this program more effective? Does not detract from the effectiveness of what you've already been doing, and I think we complement the efforts that have been made.
But as Chairman Lugar indicated, our observations at least have been that the problem of proliferation in this area is considerable, partly because there are a lot more MANPADS out there than there are, you know, weapons-grade nuclear material.
And so, you know, the challenges are different than the ones that you face. There may be hundreds of thousands of MANPADS floating around somewhere. We may not have tracked them sufficiently.
And so the question then, I guess, is where are the areas of improvement that can be made, either organizationally or budgetary, that would be significant?
And what I'll do is I'll just read one quote that I have from an internal State Department on this issue that came out last year. It says, and I'm quoting in part, "Globally there is a requirement to destroy large excess stockpiles of conventional munitions. However, the tools and resources available to the department are insufficient to address this requirement."
You know, this is a response, I think, to a precursor to the legislation that we have introduced back in 2004, Conventional Arms Threat Reduction Act of 2004, and this was the talking points from the department.
So it just seems to me that we can do better. You've just acknowledged this is the second-highest priority after making sure that weapons of mass destruction are secured.
The legislation here attempts to provide you additional resources and to improve organizationally how we're going about that. If this isn't it, you tell us what is the way to make this system work better, unless you think that it's working as good as it can.
MR. JOSEPH: Senator, thank you. Let me just say that we can always do better and we are striving to do better and I do believe, as I said, that MANPADS is a threat that we need to treat with the highest priority.
And in the last few years, the State Department has focused much of its budget in the small arms, light weapons account on MANPADS as well as taking the lead in working with other countries to address this threat, such as in Ukraine.
We've worked in 17 countries literally around the world on this and no country that has sought MANPADS assistance has been refused. We are trying to meet this priority threat and, you know, we are making a determined effort.
SEN. OBAMA: I have no doubt that given the limited resources you have and the fact that you've got a lot on your plate right now that you're doing the best that you feel that you can.
And then, you know, Mr. Secretary, I think you've got a wonderful reputation and you've got a big job, which is why we're interested in giving you potentially more resources -- (chuckles) -- to do your job.
And as Senator --
SEN. BIDEN: We want to throw you in the briar patch. (Laughter.)
SEN. OBAMA: As Chairman Lugar indicated, you know, we appreciate your loyalty to the president's budget. You know, we are not required to maybe toe the line in the same way that you are. So we're going to push on this.
Let me focus on a couple of points before my time is out.
You know, right now the budget for small arms and MANPADS is $8.6 million. Million dollars. That's decimal dust in our budget. And surely we can be using that money more effectively.
Now, this is taxpayer money and you start -- in Washington -- you start talking in terms of millions and people lose perspective. Millions is real money, but $8.6 million in our budget is miniscule.
You mention that anybody who asks us for help, you're happy to provide it, but there are whole bunch of countries out there who may not be asking us for help. That's part of the problem.
When Senator Lugar is wandering up in the hillside somewhere and just because he happens to be there they say oh, by the way, here are 47 MANPADS in a crate. You know, we don't want to leave securing these issues to, you know, these random encounters or some sort of conscience on the part of some foreign power somewhere.
I mean, we want to make sure that we're doing everything we can. And so, can you just tell me how could we be more proactive as opposed to what it sounds to me may be somewhat passive or at least not as systematic as we could be on this program?
MR. JOSEPH: Senator, again, if we were to devote more resources to the destruction of MANPADS, I think we could achieve more, but I would very much recommend not taking those resources from other accounts.
SEN. OBAMA: Other accounts -- I just want to be clear. Other accounts of yours in the area of nuclear or weapons of mass destruction proliferation. Am I correct? I mean, that's your point.
You don't want to shift -- I just want to make sure I'm getting your point clearly here. You don't want to shift money out of the vital work that's being done in the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction into this area. Is that correct?
MR. JOSEPH: That's correct, Senator. Obviously, I can't speak for others, but in terms of the budget's -- the budget accounts -- that are appropriate in terms of, you know, the tasks that I am responsible for.
For example, in the humanitarian de-mining we have a relatively, you know, large effort in that context.
SEN. OBAMA: That's important stuff. I don't want --
MR. JOSEPH: It's very important.
SEN. OBAMA: I don't want a bunch of kids maimed as a consequence of --
MR. JOSEPH: But Senator, these are the types of choices that, you know, that are reflected in our budget.
SEN. OBAMA: I understand that, and I don't mean to interrupt you. I guess my point is simply that I don't necessarily want to -- I don't feel constrained in a way that you necessarily are in your institutional role by just thinking just within your budget.
I'm not interested in robbing Peter to pay Paul necessarily in your budget. We've got some more flexibility. I suspect there's a whole bunch of silly money being spent on silly stuff outside your budget.
You don't have to comment on that. That's my comment that, you know, we could quadruple the budget devoted to MANPADS and I assure you there are some programs in this federal budget that would suffer no ill consequences if we did so.
So again, you don't need to comment on that. I'm out of time on this round. I'll see if I can come back on some points.
MR. JOSEPH: Could I just make one suggestion. It may be very useful to have a classified briefing given to the committee on MANPADS because there are a number of things that I think the committee could learn from if we were able to do that.
SEN. LUGAR: Well, that's a good idea and perhaps and to the extent that it's possible the discussion may be more candidly of the priorities and the problems that we have so that we could understand the criteria of the budget-making at this point, and maybe be better informed as we sort of verge into this and try to rearrange some of the cards in the deck.
SEN. BILL NELSON (D-FL): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
This must be kind of bittersweet for you -- bitter in that it goes against the grain of the administration's budget, but sweet as Senator Biden said: oh, please don't throw me in that briar patch. But you see where we're coming from.
I'd like for you to address the question of how should the United States express our disgust at Iran's government's position toward Israel? And how do we do that in a way that does not preclude a diplomatic resolution to that crisis?
MR. JOSEPH: Senator, I have spoken publicly on the issue of Iran and the threat that is posed by a potential nuclear-armed Iran. And one of the key threats, of course, in that context is that Iran, a nuclear-armed Iran, with this leadership, does represent an existential threat to the state of Israel.
When the president of Iran says that he would like to wipe Israel off the face of the map -- and oh, by the way, he said the same for the United States -- but wipe Israel off the face of the map and denies the historical reality of the Holocaust and makes other truly abhorrent statements, I think we ought to make very clear not only that we find that repugnant, but that has policy significance, that that hardens our view that we and the entire international community must band together and prevent this regime from acquiring nuclear weapons.
And quite frankly, I think that the president's comments -- the president of Iran's comments -- about Israel have hardened the opposition, have resulted in other countries moving from the abstain column, if you will, at the IAEA Board of Governors to voting with us because I think a number of countries believe that Ahmadinejad does believe what he says in this context.
SEN. NELSON: So you think we can still move toward a diplomatic solution, given the extremist positions that have been taken?
MR. JOSEPH: Senator, I think we need to do everything we can to give the highest prospect for diplomacy working. And that's what we have been trying to do. We have been trying to do that in the IAEA context. We will now try to do that in the Security Council context. But this is very hard, as you know.
Iran has tremendous resources. It has a whole number of tools that it also can play. But a nuclear-armed Iran is something that is unacceptable to us.
SEN. NELSON: Well, I'm getting around to the question of all options on the table, but tell me how long you think this thing can go on.
MR. JOSEPH: I can't give you a good sense, Senator, of the time. You know as well as I the estimate of the intelligence community in terms of five to 10 years, but I don't know what level of confidence is associated with that assessment or how many wild cards, for example -- foreign assistance -- that may be involved in that assessment.
We know that Iran drew on the assistance of the A.Q. Khan network in the past, and it may find shortcuts in the future.
We do know that it is determined. It appears to be absolutely determined to move from conversion to enrichment to weaponization.
I don't know -- I don't have a good sense of the time, but my sense is that we can't wait 10 years and 17 resolutions, you know, before we address -- before we address the full aspect of the threat.
SEN. NELSON: And what do we do with our friends, the Russians, who now have said, oh, they're willing to take and enrich their uranium? And that just plays right into Iran's hands.
MR. JOSEPH: Senator, the Russians put forth their idea, their proposal, in the context of the EU-3 negotiations. And the EU-3 negotiations are based upon the Paris Accord from November of 2004 and would not allow Iran to conduct enrichment-related activities.
The Russian proposal would not permit Iran to have access to the technologies that are associated with enrichment and would not permit Iran to enrich uranium in Iran.
SEN. NELSON: Well, they bought some time in going through that exercise. Has the United States government made clear that all options are on the table?
MR. JOSEPH: Yes, sir, the president has said that. We are working diplomacy as hard as we can. Everybody wants diplomacy to provide the solution to this threat. We are also working to deny Iran access to sensitive materials and technologies through the proliferation security initiative, through all of the other counter proliferation and nonproliferation programs and capabilities that we have built.
SEN. NELSON: Okay and is it the position of the administration that they're okay with Iran possessing nuclear power technology?
MR. JOSEPH: We, Senator, supported the EU-3 proposal. Part of the proposal that was made last August would have allowed peaceful nuclear power reactors in Iran. It would not allow conversion or enrichment and it was particularly straightforward on not permitting enrichment, which of course, is key to developing the fissile material for the weapon.
SEN. NELSON: So you said then that the administration's position would allow them to possess that nuclear power technology?
MR. JOSEPH: It would allow, you know, the current Bushehr reactor that is being built by the Russians, but under the conditions that have been made -- the arrangements that the Russians have made for providing all the fuel and taking back all of the fuel. That's a very important nonproliferation measure. We supported that. We encouraged that and of course, we have drawn the line with regard to Iran moving beyond that.
SEN. NELSON: And yet, that's the position of the administration even though Iran has cheated at every opportunity?
MR. JOSEPH: That is the position we have taken with regard to the EU-3 negotiations. Things have moved, I mean, the Iranians now have moved to conversion in August. I mean, the Europeans made this very generous proposal in August and the Iranians responded by moving to full scale conversion.
We then had a resolution of noncompliance, which I think was a significant diplomatic success for the president and the secretary in September. For the first time, we found Iran in formal noncompliance, which requires the report to going to the Security Council.
We then had Iran responding to that by its activities, I believe it was the 9th or 10th of January in which they removed seals and said they moving forward with what they called innocent research and development on enrichment. Innocent research and development which one Iranian was reported to have said takes place at most major universities, which wasn't the case from my universities or anyone that I know. I mean, clearly, this is the next step to enrichment. This is what we're trying to stop. And I think we had, you know, some success at the IAEA, but this is going to be a very difficult diplomatic effort stretching over many months.
SEN. NELSON: And there's an awful lot that hangs in the balance about us being successful and yet, every step we've seen, Iran is absolutely intent on moving toward the acquisition of nuclear weapons.
You approach this with carrots, you approach it with sticks. Why was it the position of the United States government -- with your predecessor -- who said, I don't do carrots?
MR. JOSEPH: Well, I couldn't speak for my predecessor, but we have -- we have supported diplomatic efforts that would provide real benefits to the Iranian people. I mentioned civil nuclear energy, but also much broader than that. But this is not about -- this is not about nuclear energy. This is about a state -- a government that is determined to acquire a nuclear weapons capability. That's how I see it.
SEN. NELSON: Well, on that we certainly agree, and there's a lot at stake that we have to be successful.
SEN. LUGAR: Thank you very much, Senator Nelson.
SEN. OBAMA: Mr. Chairman?
SEN. LUGAR: Yes, Senator Obama?
SEN. OBAMA: I apologize. I am going to have to leave, and I wanted leave to present some additional questions to the secretary that you can respond to in writing. And just, if you don't mind --
SEN. LUGAR: Would you like to do so right at this time, and I'll ask my questions after you've concluded?
SEN. OBAMA: Well, no, rather than take additional time and delay you, I'll just present them in writing. I'd like a response. My hope is -- just as a closing statement -- you know, I think we have very high regard for the work that your office is doing. We appreciate the priorities that you have set with respect to weapons of mass destruction.
I just want to reiterate that this has to be -- the second priority is dealing with MANPADS and other conventional weapons. I mean, we didn't talk about, when Senator Lugar and I were in Ukraine, just seeing mountains and mountains and mountains of conventional weapons; asking the manager there, how long do they expect -- at the rate they were going -- to dismantle these, you know, mortars, and he said, what, 60 years.
These are, as Chairman Lugar stated, being used to make IEDs in Iraq and now Afghanistan and who knows where next. And so we've got to deal with this, and I think that we can do better. My hope is, is that maybe outside the context of this hearing, we can have a more constructive conversation about how we can fine tune this piece of legislation to give you the additional tools that you need.
So thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. LUGAR: Senator Nelson?
SEN. NELSON: Mr. Chairman, I would just add, we hope and pray for the success of your work. It's enormous. But these questions need to be answered.
And thank you, Mr. Chairman, for providing this forum.
SEN. LUGAR: Thank you for attending the hearing.
SEN. NELSON: Thank you.
SEN. LUGAR: Secretary Joseph, just to complete the record with my questioning.
In the past, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and others have described a nonproliferation and disarmament fund, which I'll refer to after as the NDF -- nonproliferation disarmament fund -- as designed to respond to urgent, unanticipated nonproliferation events of immediate concern for the United States. And for these reasons, I and others have been strong supporters of that program; however, it appears that a disturbing trend may be developing.
Instead of responding to emergencies or opportunities -- such as Libya, which you have been heavily involved -- NDF funds would appear to be identified up-front to fill funding shortfalls in other areas. Is this an indication of a larger funding problem in the disarmament/nonproliferation accounts? And what steps can be taken to ensure that NDF is not crippled by taking up the slack for funding shortfalls in other program areas?
MR. JOSEPH: Senator, thank you.
NDF has been used for a wide number of purposes, including to support conventional weapons destruction and detection and interdiction on the WMD side. We have recently moved the money that was coming from the NDF account for -- (inaudible) -- out of that -- out of that account.
We are trying to retain this fund for the purpose that it was established because we do find that it provides great flexibility. I believe it's (no-ear/know your ?) money and it's notwithstanding. It gives us exactly the type of flexibility that we need, and we just need to be very careful in ensuring that it's used for the proper purpose, and I will do that.
SEN. LUGAR: That's for certain. And I raised the question because, once again, we have a fund here and we've all agreed on the importance of it. Obviously, it's used from time to time for other purposes, and therefore priorities may have been established ad hoc that would determine that. But then this leads, I suppose, to this final series of questions.
Your testimony outlines concerns about funding choices and basing these funding choices between projects addressing equally important threats and your need for greater flexibility. As my colleagues and I have suggested, isn't this an indication that the funding levels are insufficient? In our opinion, all of these dismantlement, nonproliferation and counter proliferation efforts are critical to the United States security. And if you're concerned about important projects being sidelined because of earmarks, isn't the answer an increase in funding for the nonproliferation accounts?
I would hope that the answer is yes, although as you've pointed out, the administration has come to a conclusion as to what the current request would be. And it could be that perhaps Senator Obama and I, in addition to offering this legislation, should craft an amendment to the appropriations bill to ensure that all these programs are fully funded and that harmful choices are avoided. My hope would be we can work with the administration on this as opposed to having a competition as to who finds more threats and more difficulties.
But I mention that, because at least one of our options as members of Congress is to offer amendments to appropriation bills. The president ultimately does not have to accept those, but nevertheless, we believe many of our colleagues would. We think there is genuine bipartisan support for what we're talking about here today. And I mention that just historically, because one of the good things about longevity in the Congress is that you outlast administrations -- three, four, five, six as the case may be. Secretaries come and go. Some are more sympathetic to programs such as we're talking about.
My hope is that your administration would be very sympathetic now, in this particular period, in this administration -- not in the next. But providence willing and the voters of Indiana are willing, I'll be around for the next one and I'm trying to indicate tactfully, persistent, as you proceed with the Nunn-Lugar efforts over the last 15 years.
So this area won't go away and this is why we really appreciate your taking time to testify today so we could have direct conversation, publicly, about these issues which are important not only to Senator Obama and myself, but I think to others who have spoken.
Now let me just offer two more thoughts given the testimony you've given. You mentioned the European contributions concerning the Hernasis (ph) idea of the G8 contributing matching, really, what amounts to about $1 billion of cooperative reduction funds plus the Energy Department and State and so forth.
It was a wonderful idea and Senator Biden may not have pressed the issue, but in asking what have the European contributions been, when we've had hearings on this issue before, clearly, there are problems. Some of the problems are posed by Russia, by the Duma or by their administration who have not given umbrella coverage in terms of liability to many European contractors in the same measure that we have requested and obtained that -- with at least our initial Nunn- Lugar funds and to some extent with subsequent efforts.
So as a result, although there were good faith pledges to move, as a practical matter, lacking coverage, many of our colleagues in the G8 have not been able to move very rapidly or successfully. Others have never quite determined their priorities. Sometimes they have established priorities that were important to them in terms of their national interest and do contribute to the whole situation -- for example, some greater interest in nuclear submarines or in the tactical missile problem, which has not really been tackled in terms of international negotiations.
I mention this because, clearly, one of the things that Senator Obama and I found when we were in this Donetsk area and visiting with people in Ukraine was that there has been -- in a small way -- European interest in this conventional arms destruction process and some appropriation of monies by a few countries, including modest amounts by ourselves. That I think is worth following through on, because very clearly, the European nations were interested in this issue, because all of those stocks are much closer to them geographically than they are to us.
In terms of proliferation and the actual carting off of the material, it is in a practical matter much more likely to occur in the European continental context and therefore, an unusual concern. I'm certain to what extent this has ever entered the agenda not only of the G8 or NATO or various other international organizations, but I would hope that it would and take the occasion of this hearing this morning simply to outline that specifically.
And finally, certainly the administration -- each administration has set priorities on this issue. But one of the discussions of cooperative threat reduction has always been the value of destruction or containment or securing weapons -- conventional or nuclear -- at the source to the extent there can be confinement there and programs of destruction. Then the problems of response are not eliminated, but at the same time, very clearly to the extent that prevention has taken care of the problem or secured it, that is a much less expensive method by and large.
Sort of a second situation -- as you know and you've given these lectures more often than I have -- is if you can't confine the problem at the source, at least try to confine it within the boundaries of a country. That there be international controls so that things do not cross boundaries. Now, with the PSI program, you have another stopper. It sort of went outside the boundaries, went to seed, but nevertheless, you stopped it before it got to somebody else's boundaries.
Ultimately, with the missile defense or various other ways that -- even out with our local officials -- we try to think through the reaction to chemical or biological attack. That is vital and the problems of that kind of response -- horrendous as they are to contemplate -- are important.
But I just get back to the point that our legislation here and the furtherance of (proper ?) threat reduction seems to me to be the least expensive method at the source. And to the extent that right there on that pile in Donetsk, whatever it is, is destroyed, that perhaps is the best solution given a willing partner in Ukraine -- those officials having taken us to that part of the country to display this.
I conclude by saying, as others have already, we saw a mountain of detritus from old wars -- plural -- all covering this acreage, much with weeds and trees growing around it and through it. I don't know what is to happen in the world, how we really deal with these problems in which, as we've been trying to with weapons of mass destruction, discover why the Soviet Union ever built 40,000 metric tons, more or less, of chemical weapons. Speaking of overkill, this is awesome.
And the problem of getting rid of 40,000 metric tons, even if by treaty you pledge to do it, under the Chemical Weapons Convention, which they have, it has been awesome for them and for us. So it's not an easy set of issues to discuss in terms of priorities, and our taxpayer funds are not unlimited, even given the safety.
But this is why we would like to work with you, if we can, to refine maybe even further the targeting of which conventional weapons -- in terms of priority -- where they are and what the -- the least expensive way of excising these from the security problems for ourselves and for our allies and to enlist the allies, likewise, who see the problems and perhaps are waiting for somewhat more enthusiasm on our part and organization of the effort.
I thank you, again, for coming today and we appreciate very much the cooperation you have given to our staff and to the senators on this committee. And it has been a generous devotion of time. And so saying, the hearing is adjourned.
Frank N. von Hippel is co-director of the Program on Science and Global Security of the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. He is a former Assistant Director for National Security in the White House Office of Science and Technology. His areas of policy research include nuclear arms control and nonproliferation, energy, and checks and balances in policymaking for technology. In early February, 2006, Dr. von Hippel spoke to Earth & Sky's Jorge Salazar about his concerns over renewed interest to reprocess spent nuclear fuels.
Salazar: Can we start with some background about nuclear power and the reprocessing of nuclear fuel?
von Hippel: Nuclear fuel, when it goes into the reactor, is basically 100% uranium. It's somewhat enriched to 4-5% in the chain reacting isotope, uranium 235. When it comes out, most of that uranium 235 has been fissioned, and that's where the nuclear energy comes from. And about 1% of the uranium has been turned into plutonium. And the original purpose, and the primary purpose of reprocessing this spent nuclear fuel is to recover that plutonium and to recycle. It has fuel value just like the uranium 235.
Now, this is an idea that is as old as nuclear power. In fact it's older than nuclear power because this process is the way in which plutonium was produced for nuclear weapons, before we had nuclear power. And that's what makes it controversial, because if we promote this as a civilian technology, it gives access to any country with nuclear power plants, it gives them access to plutonium, to separated plutonium, which can be directly used to make nuclear weapons like the Nagasaki bomb.
Now, the original reason for promoting this, from the very beginning of nuclear power, was the concern that nuclear power was going to very quickly going to outgrow the uranium resources of high-grade uranium ore, and therefore nuclear power would just be a flash in the pan, unless it was possible to make much more efficient use of uranium. Now, the current generation of reactors can't make much more efficient use of uranium, but there was an idea of a different kind of reactor which was invented called the plutonium breeder reactor, which could in fact use uranium 100 times more efficiently than the current generation of reactors could. And, in the 1960s and the 1970, countries like the United States and other advanced industrialized countries put most of their energy and R&D money into an effort to demonstrate and commercialize these plutonium breeder reactors.
It turns out that they were very expensive. One reason is that they're cooled by liquid sodium -- liquid sodium catches fire if it's exposed ot the air or water. That was a great complication. And it turned out that there was a lot more uranium than people thought, and it turned out that nuclear power didn't grow anywhere near as rapidly. The projections that were being made 30 years ago for nuclear power in the United States, it was expected that by the year 2000, the U.S. would have 1000 nuclear power plants and it would be building 100 a year. Well, in fact, we have a hundred. And we've had a hundred since the 1980s or so. There's an attempt now, with the incentives that are in the last energy policy act, to get industry to buy a few more, with the very large subsidies that are being provided there for the first ones, and then the hope that they might take off.
So, reprocessing is no longer motivated by the original purpose, which was to separate plutonium to start up plutonium breeder reactors. Today, reprocessing is motivated primarily by the fact that it's been very difficult to find a place to put spent fuel after it's discharged from nuclear reactors. It's accumulating onsite at the reactors. That's not really a problem in the near-term, because after it's cooled down for a few years, you can put it in dry storage, which is quite safe. But eventually it will have to be moved, and the destination in this country was supposed to be Yucca Mountain, this mountain just next to the nuclear test site in Nevada, which was chosen by Congress a couple of decades ago.
In fact the the Department of Energy committed that Yucca Mountain would be opened, and the Department of Energy would start removing spent nuclear fuel from U.S. nuclear power plants by 1998. Well, it didn't happen, Yucca Mountain is still not licensed. And so now there's pressure, political pressure to get the spent fuel off site and to demonstrate that there's someplace for it to go as part of the way to convince the public that this is not an inseparable problem, and that we can build new nuclear power plants which will generate more spent nuclear fuel.
So the reprocessing plans that we expect will be proposed by the Bush administration next week, if they're not already mentioned tonight in the State of the Union address, would provide another destination, another place to put the spent nuclear fuel that has being discharged from U.S. nuclear power plants until Yucca Mountain becomes available. Now, one could just simply transport the spent fuel to another site and store it there. From my point of view, that would be the best thing to do, so not to separate out more plutonium.
Right now there's hundreds of tons of plutonium that have been separated in other countries, which they're struggling what to do with as a result of reprocessing. About 30% of the world's spent fuel is being reprocessed. The U.S. took a stand against reprocessing 30 years ago for nonproliferation reasons. And so there's plenty of separated plutonium, and in fact we have excess weapons plutonium from our cold war arsenal which is being downsized, which we're struggling to figure out what to do with.
So the best thing would be to just store the spent fuel, either at the reactor sites or someplace else. The problem is that if you want to take it someplace else, there's going to be tremendous push back from the state and local government. So the unspoken political calculation is, that if we give this location, we offer a facility that represents tens of billions of dollars of investment, in fact there would be some sites in the United States which would volunteer to take this spent fuel and the radioactive waste that would be created by reprocessing it on an interim basis until some long-term solution for their waste problem can be found.
Salazar: The idea of reprocessing nuclear fuel looks good on paper. Assuming that some kinks in the way its done get worked out in the future, what's the problem?
von Hippel: First of all, there is no hurry to do this, because, in fact, spent fuel is in very stable form, and I think we can store it safely and cheaply for a hundred years if we have to. So the problem with rushing forward with this has to do with the example that we set for the rest of the world, for example for Iran. This is why, in fact, U.S. policy turned against reprocessing 39 years ago.
What happened was that the U.S. was promoting reprocessing worldwide. We were saying," nuclear power is the future of energy. And plutonium breeder reactors are going to be the future of nuclear power, and it will be essential for plutonium breeder reactors to separate plutonium and recycle it. So you might as well learn this technology now."
One of the countries that we provided the technology and trained the people in its use was India. And, we said, "of course, you understand that this technology is being provided on the understanding that it will be used for peaceful purposes only." And India did separate some plutonium from fuel, it only had a research reactor at the time. And the first thing they did with that fuel was in fact make a nuclear explosive. They said, "look, this is a peaceful nuclear explosive, so we are in conformance with our agreement with you." And, in fact, there were some people in the United States who were promoting the idea of nuclear explosives for excavating canals and harbors and things like that, so that was the fig leaf that they used.
But, in fact, after the Indians did this, The U.S. started rethinking the promotion of reprocessing worldwide. And, in fact it was just at a time when other countries as well as we were promoting and transferring the technology to countries like South Korea, Brazil, Pakistan, and so on. And we then intervened in a very forceful way. We said that we reviewed the policy and decided that it was not necessary, it was not economic, and there was plenty of uranium for what we have been practicing ever since, for what we call the once through fuel cycle, where you basically put in low enriched uranium into a reactor into a reactor and then you store the spent fuel.
And our policy was very effective. No new countries since we changed our policies have begun reprocessing. the number of countries who were on the verge of it didn't go forward, and some countries that were reprocessing have abandoned it, like Germany for example, and soon, the United Kingdom. They've found that it in fact is very costly, and that it in fact, since you have to store the radioactive waste that comes out of the reprocessing plant, you're only recovering the plutonium, why not just store everything together. And the advantages there are that the plutonium in spent fuel is mixed with very highly radioactive fission products so that you can't get at it except behind thick radiation shielding and remote handling equipment, very costly equipment, which is not available to would be nuclear terrorists. And, whereas plutonium, you can actually carry plutonium around in a plastic bag, it doesn't put much penetrating radiation at all, and therefore someone could run away with it and make it into a bomb.
Salazar: Doesn't it kind of make sense for the U.S. to take the lead on reprocessing, keep this work "in-house" and provide the services to the rest of the world, just so that we can rest assured that there will be good controls on it?
von Hippel: If in fact everybody agreed to send their spent fuel to us or Russia, or France, or Japan, and no new countries got into this business, it would at least limit the proliferation problem. France and the U.K. have been providing that service to other countries. But what they've been doing is sending back the separated plutonium, sometimes in the form of fuel, but in a much more accessible way than it is in the spent fuel.
So we'd have to do what Russia does, which is in fact to take the spent fuel and then keep the high level waste and the plutonium. And that's something that only the Russian public, well, in fact the Russian objects to that, but in fact it's not enough of a democracy yet to where they haven't been able to be overridden on that. So that's something that in fact I think would be a very tough sell in the United States.
But let's say that it could be done. We're actually trying to do this in another area right now, in the area of uranium enrichment. That's the focus of the current struggle that western european countries, the U.S. and other countries are having with Iran.
We're trying to persuade Iran that Iran does not need to enrich Uranium for its nuclear power plants. That that service can be provided by other countries, and in fact Russia is trying to continue a contract to do it for Iran's first nuclear power plant. Iran is saying that it's their right to do it for themselves. Our concern is that uranium enrichment is another route to nuclear weapons capability, because while the current generation of nuclear power plants uses uranium enriched only 4 or 5 % uranium 235, which is not weapons usable, you can put the uranium and cycle it through the plant a couple more times and you would get out weapons-grade uranium. And many people see that Iran's interest in acquiring an enrichment plant adds, in fact, a way to get a nuclear weapons option.
Uranium enrichment, really, is a service that countries need. Reprocessing is a service that countries don't need. So I think that we should try to sort this out and establish this kind of arrangement to first see if we can sell it to the rest of the world, first with uranium enrichment. And Iran is not the only country which is pushing back on this. Brazil, South Africa, and the developing world sees this as, some of them actually describe this as a kind of "nuclear apartheid," where certain number of countries want to not only be the only countries with nuclear weapons, but also the only countries with other advanced nuclear technologies. It's a very tricky political business, and there's no need, because spent fuel can be stored for many decades cheaply, there's no real need to open up a second front in this battle right now.
Salazar: A very basic question to all this business of reprocessing nuclear fuel is, how safe is it. Comments?
von Hippel: Originally, the way reprocessing was processed when we were separating plutonium for weapons was a very environmentally messy business. And there is a huge cleanup legacy, in both countries in the range of a hundred billion dollars to clean up the radioactive waste that was left by the process.
The process that's being practiced by France and the United Kingdom today, and Japan wants to get into this business soon, is much cleaner. There still are releases to the atmosphere and to water that would not happen otherwise, if the radioactivity was just allowed to decay for a hundred years in the spent fuel. But it's not a really big deal.
But was is potentially a big deal is that the radioactive waste is in liquid form after the spent fuel is dissolved, and can accumulate to very large quantities, the equivalent radioactivity of 10-100 reactors in just a few tanks in liquid form. So it would be a catastrophic event, if in fact those tanks, if there was an accident that blew up one of those tanks or if it was sabotaged. This is a real problem, and in fact it's been a great concern especially in the United Kingdom. Now, eventually that liquid waste is solidified, it's mixed with glass and comes back to a form that is comparably stable to the original form in spent fuel. But there is that intermediate stage when you really could have a major, major accident. And on the safety front, that's my main concern.
I think that the reprocessing issue has to be separated from the issue of the future of nuclear power. And it can be kept separate from that for 100 years or so, at least, until we get to very much higher levels of nuclear power. Technically, it can be separated, and in fact there's and MIT study which predicts a nuclear future where the U.S. has 500 nuclear power plants about 50 years from now, or in 2050, up from 100 now, a very robust nuclear future, where in fact the nuclear power plants would be producing as much electricity as we get from all sources today, without reprocessing. In fact they argue that reprocessing could be the kiss of death of nuclear power in the United States today, because it is so costly. The cost of reprocessing and recycling and doing everything that is being proposed as an alternative to putting the plutonium into Yucca Mountain would cost hundreds of billions of dollars, enough to buy 100 new nuclear power plants, to basically replace our whole current nuclear infrastructure. So if the consumer, the utilities were asked to pay for that, then that would make nuclear power uncompetitive. Now, the French and the Japanese are getting around that by putting a tax to support reprocessing, and if the utilities in this country were to come out in opposition to reprocessing if they had to pay for it, but they're understanding of it is that this is going to be a subsidy to nuclear power form the federal government to the tune of many billions of dollars a year. It's a completely unnecessary thing in the near term is what I'm saying, and that we have more important issues with regard to nuclear power to deal with. So, it's just complicating life for those who realistically want to promote nuclear power for the next decade.
Salazar: Thank you for your time today, Dr. von Hippel. Is there anything else that you'd like to share with the public today?
von Hippel: I guess I would encapsulate it and say that it's enormously expensive. Secondly, it will enormously complicate our nonproliferation efforts, our anti-nuclear terrorism efforts. And third, it's not necessary to the future of nuclear power in the near term, that is in the next 50-10 years.
DISCLAIMER: Nuclear News is presented for informational purposes only. Views presented in any given article are those of the individual author or source and not of RANSAC. RANSAC takes no responsibility for the technical accuracy of information contained in any article presented in Nuclear News.
RANSAC's Nuclear News is compiled two to three times weekly. To be automatically removed from our mailing list, click on the following link: Remove Me From The List