Russia has emerged in recent months as a key player in international efforts to end the diplomatic crisis over Iran's nuclear program. In a week that saw Iranian and Russian officials meet for two days of talks in Moscow, Fariba Mavaddat of RFE/RL's Radio Farda turned for a Russian perspective on Iran's negotiating policy to Aleksei Arbatov, the co-chair of the nuclear nonproliferation program at the Carnegie Moscow Center and formerly a liberal deputy in the Russian parliament and chairman of the State Duma's Defense Committee.
RFE/RL: With both sides adamant on their positions, what possibilities do you think there are for bringing them together?
Aleksei Arbatov: I think that Iran is playing its own game. It understands that there is very strong opposition to the Iranian plan to acquire a full nuclear-fuel cycle, because that technology is very close to the acquisition of nuclear weapons. So it is bargaining for as much as it can gain. In particular, Iran has already made a concession, saying 'OK, Iran will not aim for full-scale industrial enrichment capacity, but it would like still to retain a research, experimental enrichment capacity -- smaller, not sufficient for the large-scale enrichment of uranium but important for us to keep on top of technology and expertise.' If that is not given to it, it will go on bargaining for other things.
"The position of Iran depends on its assessment of the unity of the United States, the EU, Russia, and China in opposing what Iran wants to gain. It doesn't depend on technical, nitty-gritty things."
RFE/RL: Iran has responded in contradictory fashion to the Russian offer to enrich uranium in Russia on Iran's behalf and seems to be dragging its feet in order to avoid being referred to the United Nations' Security Council. How much weight do you therefore give to Tehran's negotiations this week?
Arbatov: Well, I think the position of Iran depends on its assessment of the unity of the United States, the EU, Russia, and China in opposing what Iran wants to gain. It doesn't depend on technical, nitty-gritty things. So, if Iran feels that Russia, the United States, the EU, and China -- and India -- are determined not to let it get away with [developing] enrichment capabilities, it will eventually forego that. But not before Iran feels that the opposition is really strong and really tough. The complicated problem here is that legally -- or legalistically -- the Iranian position has some serious merits, because the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) does not prohibit any country from having a full nuclear-fuel cycle, provided that this technology is under the control of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Iran says that it is willing to acquire this technology and provide for this control, for the IAEA safeguards. So, from this point of view, the position of the countries that do not want to let Iran to gain [a uranium-enrichment capacity] is to a very great extent based not on the letter of the NPT but on an assessment of the danger that may emanate from the Iranian regime. Because this is a regime that may withdraw from the NPT and openly opt for nuclear weapons, just as North Korea did two years ago. So, in this sense, Iran saying that it should not be segregated, that the fact that it is disliked by the United States does not mean that it does not have the same rights to a full nuclear cycle as other NPT member-states have, for instance Japan, for instance Germany, the Netherlands, Brazil and a number of others that have uranium enrichment [capacities] while being non-nuclear states. This position is legalistically very strong -- and Iran is going to play it to the full.
RFE/RL: But given the international pressure, how much longer is Iran able to hold on -- and what then?
Arbatov: Well, if Iran feels that the leading powers are determined not to let it have [an] enrichment [capacity] no matter what the NPT permits or does not permit, if it feels that this political position is really strong and that the leading states are willing to go to the UN Security Council and to pass a resolution providing for sanctions against Iran and providing for the possible use of military force to deprive Iran of its nuclear infrastructure, then Iran will certainly make a concession, at least for some time. And besides, do not forget that Iran is also following a parallel path, which is not a uranium but a plutonium path. It has started building a heavy-water production plant, it has started building a heavy-water natural uranium reactor, a reactor that works from natural uranium and does not reach any enrichment but produces a lot of plutonium as burnt, irradiated nuclear fuel. Which may be a path that, in parallel, Iran may have as, so to say, an alternative option…That is exactly the path that was followed by North Korea.
"In the end the Iranians will accept the Russian proposal. But they will not do so immediately; they will delay their final decision until March or April, perhaps until early May. At the moment Iran has no need to enrich uranium; the first unit at Bushehr has not even started working yet. So the problem of enrichment will become really topical for them in about 10 years' time. Right now they simply have to show that they are prepared for negotiations, in order to deflect the American stranglehold; that is why they have come. They realize very well that they will not be given access to the technology itself, but they can say all sorts of things -- after all, they also need to save face."
"Iran wants to create nuclear weapons or to achieve a level of technology that would make it possible, if necessary, to assemble a nuclear bomb at any moment. First, the Iranians really are afraid that the United States could conduct a strike against them; second, a nuclear weapon is nothing less than an entry ticket to the club of world powers. However, they have no need to use a nuclear weapon in this way. They realize very well that they would be unable to hit US territory, and Israel could conduct a preventive strike. Tehran needs a bomb in order to use it according to the "North Korean scenario": Let the whole world guess whether or not they have bomb. This is why the Iranians have been playing this cat-and-mouse game for several years now.
The first round of Moscow talks on the Russian proposal to set up a joint venture on Russia's soil to enrich uranium for Iran has been postponed, in an expected move which is totally in line with Tehran's logic of keeping its mouth shut and avoiding unambiguous answers.
What the world has been expecting from Iran - a "yes" or "no" in response to the Russian initiative - now seems a remote possibility anytime soon. Iran will hardly say such a "yes" that could not be reverted into a "no" at a later stage.
Although Tehran declares its nuclear program is totally peaceful, its ambition to have access to a full nuclear fuel cycle, from primary enrichment operations to spent fuel management, suggests such a level of nuclear technology, at which a nuclear bomb becomes a matter of political will rather than physical ability.
Russia's proposal could have allayed Western fears over Iranian nuclear file but at the same time it, in effect, denies Iran access to a full nuclear cycle and leaves it in dependence on foreign-produced ready-to-use fuel. Iran, accordingly, seems to have dug its feet on not reaching out to the West and keeping others in the dark. Tehran even takes little notice of Russia's concern and certainly does not align its assessment of the talks with Moscow.
Despite Russia's great hopes and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's promise to President Putin that Moscow would try to break free from the deadlock on this issue and avoid any scenario that could involve the use of force, Russian negotiators seem no less worried in the wake of the first round.
Sergei Kiriyenko, head of Russia's Federal Agency for Nuclear Power, said in comment on his forthcoming visit to Iran that the talks on a Russian-based joint venture would be continued.
"Russia will do its best to give [Iran] a peaceful and constructive face-saving opportunity," he said.
Tehran has described the past round of talks as "positive and constructive." Dr. Seyyed Ali Hosseini Tash, second-in-command at Iran's Supreme National Security Council, said the best result of the talks was that a UN Security Council referral was seen as "not a constructive move" and it was up to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the global nuclear watchdog, to make ultimate decisions on the issue.
In other words, Iran still wishes to hide behind Russia's back but Moscow's West-supported criticism grows. Konstantin Kosachev, head of the State Duma International Affairs Committee, said Iran could have shown more goodwill in resolving the dispute around its nuclear program. Russia does not want to be left doing everything alone, he said.
"It takes two to tango. Russia, dependent on - if not taken hostage by - Iran's reluctance to show good or evil will, has not seen much goodwill so far," the Russian lawmaker said and warned against a North Korea-style scenario with an Iran withdrawing from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and refusing to cooperate with IAEA.
"I am afraid this will do the international community more harm than good, so we need to use a chance as long as it is there. This is what Russia is doing now," Kosachev said.
However, the provisional outcome of the Moscow talks over Tehran's nuclear file suggests that Russia is apparently still the only party ready for a tango.
4. Russia-Iran Coop Depends On Solution Of Nuclear Issue-Rosatom Head
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The chief of Russia's atomic energy agency Rosatom, Sergei Kiriyenko, believes that the solution of Iran's nuclear problem will be crucial to Russian- Iranian cooperation in other fields.
"As the co-chairman of the Russian-Iranian inter-government commission for trading and economic cooperation I am going to discuss not only nuclear power industry-related problems, but the entire package of Russian-Iranian economic relations," Kiriyenko said on the eve of his visit to Iran beginning on February, 23.
The just-ended bilateral consultations on the nIran later this week. "The negotiations will proceed as long as necessary. Russia will do its utmost to give Iran a chance to find a way out of the current situation by peaceful means," Kiriyenko told Itar-Tass.
Asked about the consultations with the Iranian delegation in Moscow on the creation of a uranium enrichment joint venture he said "it is very good the Iranian delegation has worked her for two days."
"I believe that the Russian delegation does all it can and should to find a way out by constructive, peaceful means," Kiriyenko said. "On the one hand, Iran would retain its right to have a civilian nuclear power industry, and on the other, the world community would have guarantees that the non-proliferation regime has not been abused. Russia's role in efforts to resolve this problem is tangible," Kiriyenko said.
"Russia solved part of this problem by signing a contract with Iran for the return of spent nuclear fuel to Russia. That risk was properly addressed. From this standpoint the security of the world community and of Iran has been guaranteed. There remains the second problem, that of uranium enrichment. The Russian proposal is on the negotiating table. We shall be prepared to implement our proposal within the tightest deadlines technologically and legally, provided there is the consent of our Iranian counterparts."
"Iran's nuclear program will be the focal point on the visit's agenda. If the issue is resolved successfully, then we shallbe able to advance cooperation in aircraft building, transport and some other industries where there exists a vast potential," Kiriyenko said.
Sources at Rosatom have said that in the course of his three-day visit to Iran Kiriyenko would hold talks with the co-chairman of the inter-governmental commission for trading and economic cooperation. Also on the agenda are negotiations with Iran's Vice-President, chief of the Atomic Energy Organization Gholamreza Aqazade and a visit to the Bushehr nuclear power plant construction site. Kiriyenko will review progress in construction and assembly work and hold working conferences with the chiefs of contractor organizations and representatives of the customer.
He will fly back to Moscow late Sunday night.
"There are no hindrances to completing the Bushehr nuclear power plant construction. The international community has no questions to ask," Kiriyenko told the media earlier.
The resolution on Iran's nuclear dossier the IAEA board of governors adopted in early February has no bearing on Bushehr.
Russia's permanent representative at the Vienna-based international organizations, Grigory Berdennikov, said, "Bushehr had not been discussed at the IAEA governors' meeting.
Russia and Iran signed the Bushehr nuclear power plant construction contract eleven years ago. Iran agreed to pay one billion dollars to Russia, whose specialists undertook to finalize the nuclear power unit Germany's Siemens concern had begun to build a long while ago.
The reactor is scheduled to be launched in the fourth quarter of 2006. The schedule of works still to be done is to be finalized during Kiriyenko's visit to Iran. Currently over 3,500 Russian specialists are employed at the Bushehr nuclear power plant construction site.
The first unit will be equipped with a 1,000-megawatt water-cooled VVER-1000 reactor.
Under a special agreement signed last year Iran pledged to return spent nuclear fuel to Russia for processing and storage.
5. Russia: Politologist Says Iran Seeking To Drag Out Nuclear Talks
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Russian-Iranian consultations in Moscow did not fail, but they may be treated as a round of negotiations that could continue for a long time, Russian Political Studies Institute Director Sergei Markov told Interfax on Tuesday.
"The Moscow meetings could be described in terms of bad eternity, rather than in terms of failure or stalemate," he said.
Monday and Tuesday saw two rounds of Russian-Iranian negotiations on creating a uranium enrichment joint venture, however, no official information is available as yet.
Iran "will seek to drag out the negotiations, because while they are ongoing the possibility of referral to the United Nations Security Council and the possible implementation of economic sanctions are almost zero," Markov said. "Iran will negotiate with Russia articulating ever stricter demands and balancing on the brink of failure without reducing to it," Markov said.
"Iran is showing its aspirations not only to develop a peaceful nuclear program, but also for something more: either the acquisition of nuclear weapons or its recognition as a full member of the international community, rather than a second rate country with its rights infringed," he said.
"Russian diplomacy is interested in long negotiations with Iran," Markov said. "While the negotiations remain open, Russian hi-tech companies will keep on receiving money from Iran. Furthermore, the international community will consider Russia as a country on which the settlement of the most pressing international issue depends," he said.
6. Russia: Senior Official Says Iran Nuclear Issue Could Repeat North Korean Scenario
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Should the Russian-Iranian talks on the proposed uranium enrichment joint venture on Russian territory fail, Iran may isolate itself in the same way as North Korea, State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Konstantin Kosachyov said.
"We may see a repeat of the North Korean scenario whereby Iran will isolate itself and withdraw from the Treaty (on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons) and will cease cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency," Kosachyov told journalists.
"It is obvious that the Moscow negotiations are the only channel of interaction with the Iranian authorities on the nuclear issue and should this channel be closed, one could see mutual demands, mutual ultimatums and, possibly, mutual threats that are unlikely to promote a constructive decision," he said.
The international community will lose if the negotiations are unsuccessful, he said.
One must wait for the end of the negotiations. However, "Teheran is not showing sufficient good will," Kosachyov said.
7. Russian Analysts Ponder Likely Outcome of Iran Nuclear Talks in Moscow
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The Russian-Iranian talks in Moscow "could given Tehran a chance to settle the situation surrounding its nuclear dossier", head of the Modern Iran Studies Centre Radzhab Safarov told ITAR-TASS.
"The negotiations process on the Iranian nuclear dossier has become deadlocked," he said. "Those taking part in today's talks are faced with important decisions on Russia's proposal for the creation of a joint enterprise for uranium enrichment."
He believes that up until now Tehran "has not been entirely ready to accept this project and agree to a compromise." Moscow starts from the premise, he said, that "if Iran accepts the Russian proposal it would make it possible to create the basis for a settlement of the situation." "But such an approach will hardly be entirely to Tehran's liking, whose ultimate aim is to create a complete nuclear cycle on its own territory," he said.
He said that Russia "has an interest in a positive outcome of the talks because of the prospects for large-scale involvement in Iran's civilian nuclear program." "But to a still greater extent the Moscow consultations are important to Tehran itself - if they are not crowned with specific positive results, the question of the nuclear program will be passed to the UN Security Council," he said. "This will lead to further aggravation of the situation around Iran and to the most unpredictable consequences for security in the region."
"The fact that it is precisely the deputy secretary of the Iranian Supreme National Security Council, Ali Hoseyni-Tash, who has been sent to Moscow - an influential politician and strategist in the country - underlines the great importance the top levels of power in Iran attach to these talks," Safarov said.
(Moscow Interfax news agency quoted another analyst, Vladimir Yevseyev of the Moscow Carnegie Centre, as saying Iran would agree to the Russian proposal if Tehran received security guarantees from the United States. "If the Russian proposal were supplemented by security guarantees from the United States, it would be possible to solve the problem at a fundamental level," he said.
He said the Russian proposal on uranium enrichment should be looked at in a package of agreements. "First of all, such a package should propose security guarantees to Iran. Such guarantees are important to Iran, mainly on the part of the United States. But the United States is not currently ready to take part even in multilateral talks with Iran," he said.
He predicted that the Moscow talks with Iranian officials would be difficult. "In my assessment, there is not much likelihood of a compromise being achieved. I don't see any breakthroughs as yet, and all the indications are that following the discussion at the IAEA Board of Governors on 6 March the matter will be submitted to the UN Security Council with possible political sanctions against Iran," he said.
He said that during the Moscow talks the Russian side could propose a multilateral format for a joint uranium enrichment plant. "Such countries as China and India could take part in the project. This would be quite a realistic proposal, considering, for example, the high volume of trade between Iran and China, and also the high level of trust Tehran has in Beijing," he said.
He added, however, that Russia will not agree to the creation of a joint uranium enrichment plant on Iranian territory. "There is no way Moscow will agree to giving Iranian specialists access to nuclear technology," he said.
Another Interfax report quoted Viktor Mikhaylov, head of the Strategic Stability Institute, as saying that under the Russian proposal Iran will be able to request Russia to enrich uranium at a plant for a certain price, which could be 150-200 dollars per kilogram of uranium.
"We hand over one of our plants to an international center, to which Iran could submit a request for uranium to be enriched for a certain price. We enrich the fuel for them, supply it to their country, load it into the reactor, remove it after it has been used and return it to Russia," he said in an article published in today's edition of Vremya Novostey.
He added that "uranium enrichment for peaceful purposes is not a cheap process, so the price of our services will not be cheap either." "We anticipate setting the price at 150 dollars per unit of separation work (approximately equivalent to one kilogram of uranium - Interfax) With time it could increase to 200 dollars," he said.
He said the Iranians would not be able to gain access to the fuel. "We guarantee that it will be off limits at all stages," he said.
He said the Russian side would buy the spent fuel from Iran, adding that he was sure the Iranians would not be able to remove the spent fuel from the reactor and use it for military purposes. "In the first place, this is impossible from the technological point of view," he said. "You can't just take uranium out of the container and straight away start processing it while it's 'hot', or even transport it. It has to stand at the plant, in a container, so as to 'cool down', to reduce its radioactivity. This is a lengthy period, up to five years, even 10 years."
He said that "the fuel extracted from the reactor contains plutonium isotopes which could be used for military purposes, but you need special plants to separate it." "Such plants exist in all the recognized nuclear states, and also in Pakistan and India. But there is no question of the Iranians taking part in such a process. Perhaps, within 10-20 years they might be able to carry out such processing," he said.)
8. Russian Expert Says Uranium Enrichment To Cost Iran $150 Per Unit of Fission Work
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Russia is willing to put one of its plants for uranium enrichment at the disposal of the Iranian nuclear program, but the price of the service will be rather high, said Viktor Mikhailov, ex-head of the Ministry of Atomic Energy, now director of the Institute of Strategic Stability.
"We shall permit to use one of our plants as an international center, to which Iran will be able to appeal for uranium enrichment at a fixed price. We shall enrich uranium for it by ourselves, we shall deliver it to Iran, we shall load it into the reactor, we shall take it out of the reactor after it is used and we shall transport it back to Russia," he said in an interview with the Vremya Novostei newspaper, published on Monday. He explained in the interview the essence of Russia's proposal to Iran on uranium enrichment.
Mikhailov pointed to the fact that Russia possessed unique technologies in the nuclear sphere. "At present our production capacities, intended for 20 million reference units of fission work (over 20,000 tons of uranium a year), are not being used to the full," he said.
He stressed that "uranium enrichment for peaceful purposes is a rather costly operation, and the price of our services is not going to be low. We are planning to charge 150 dollars per one unit of fission work, and in the future it may go up to reach 200 dollars."
According to Mikhailov, Iranians will not get access to nuclear fuel, because "we guarantee a closed regime on all the stages." He is sure that Iran will not be able to take the used fuel out of the reactor, in order to use it for military purposes. "The technology does not permit it. It is impossible to take out uranium and to start processing it, or even transporting it, right away. It should be stored in a storage facility near the power plant for five, or even up to ten years, in order to "cool down," so that its radioactivity will be reduced," Mikhailov explained.
According to his information, "the fuel, taken out from the reactor, does contain plutonium isotopes, which could be used for military purposes, but special production facilities are needed for extracting them." He added that "all the recognized nuclear powers, as well as Pakistan and India, have such production facilities, but the participation of Iran in that process is out of the question. Perhaps, it will be able to do uranium processing of that sort in ten to twenty years."
Talks about the creation in Russia of a joint enterprise for the enrichment of uranium for Iranian nuclear power engineering will be held in Moscow on Monday. Ali Hoseini-Tash, deputy secretary of the National Security Council of Iran, will lead the high-ranking Iranian delegation. Experts believe Russia's proposal is one of the few remaining chances to settle the Iranian problem by diplomatic means.
9. Russian offer means no access for Iran to nuclear fuel - paper
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Russia's proposal to enrich uranium for Iranian power plants on Russian territory means that Tehran will not have access to a full nuclear fuel cycle, a popular Russian daily wrote Monday.
Hours before talks with Iran opened in Moscow on the latter's initiative to build a uranium enrichment joint venture in Russia, Vremya Novostei published an interview with ex-Nuclear Power Minister Viktor Mikhailov, who now heads the Institute of Strategic Stability, an analytical center attached to the Federal Agency for Nuclear Power.
Mikhailov said the crux of the proposal would be that Iran would have only "closed access" to nuclear fuel.
"We would reequip one of our plants to accommodate an international [nuclear fuel] center where Iran would send uranium enrichment orders for a certain price," Mikhailov said. "We would enrich fuel, supply it to Iran, load a reactor, and bring the spent fuel back to Russia."
The expert said that uranium enrichment could be conducted for both peaceful needs and military purposes, thereby echoing international concerns that Iran might be seeking to build nuclear weapons, an accusation the Islamic Republic has repeatedly denied.
Mikhailov said it was therefore important to curb the spread of enrichment technology.
However, he said that all countries had the right to peaceful nuclear energy and suggested that international enrichment centers would spare them the need to seek the full enrichment cycle.
The expert dismissed the argument that Iran could use spent nuclear fuel to build a nuclear bomb, saying it was "technologically impossible."
While admitting that spent uranium contained the plutonium isotopes necessary for military production, Mikhailov said, "Uranium cannot just be taken out of a storage facility for reprocessing or even transportation. It has to 'cool down' in a power plant storage facility to become less radioactive. The process can take five or even 10 years."
He added that specially equipped plants were needed for reprocessing and Iran would only be able to do that in 10 or 20 years' time, as the country did not have a single such facility.
Mikhailov also said that Russia planned to buy the spent fuel from Iran, adding it had been the Soviet Union's usual scheme in nuclear transactions with its European allies - Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, and East Germany. Russia had bought uranium irradiated in nuclear reactors from those countries, as they were unable to process the spent fuel themselves, the expert said.
He said Iran understood that it could not keep the fuel on its territory.
Asked to comment on Tehran's plans to build another nuclear power plant in its southwestern province of Khuzestan and the possibility that it would build a further 10-20 units if no economic sanctions were imposed on it, Mikhailov said that the country had pursued such plans under the last sheikh, who was forced into an exile following the 1979 revolution and was known as a devoted ally of the United States.
Mikhailov said that the construction of a reactor in the port of Bushehr in southern Iran had been started by German industrial giant Siemens, which had abandoned the project after constructing two buildings. Russia picked up one of them in the early 1990s.
"Iran is a modern country, which has the right to pursue the development of national civilian power engineering. The nuclear powers, for their part, must help its efforts in this sphere," Mikhailov said.
The Iranian ambassador to Russia explained to Duma deputies why Iran could not launch a nuclear strike against Israel. Because it feels sorry for Jerusalem. The deputies were not happy with the reply.
The Thursday meeting between members of the State Duma international affairs committee and Iranian Ambassador to Russian Gholamreza Ansari was on the Iranian side's initiative. It was Tehran's way of enlisting extra support ahead of the important talks to be held in Moscow between the two countries' diplomats on 20 February. The Russian peace plan to enrich the Iranian atom in Russia is to be discussed at the meeting. You will recall that Iran has not yet accepted this proposal, even when threatened with the referral of the nuclear dossier from the IAEA to the UN Security Council and with international sanctions.
"We hope that the Russian-Iranian talks will take place on time," Russian internal affairs committee head Konstantin Kosachev said at start of the meeting.
"We would also like to make clear our concern about a number of what we regard as unacceptable statements by new Iranian President Ahmadinezhad about Israel and a number of other states," Kosachev diplomatically stated, referring to Ahmadinezhad's undiplomatic statement that Israel must be wiped out.
In rely, the Iranian ambassador promised to make everything clear. "Both states (Russia and Iran --) are opposed to Iran's having nuclear weapons," Gholamreza Ansari said, talking about his state in the third person. The diplomat did his best to demonstrate willingness for talks. "We are prepared to cooperate with the IAEA and are absolutely transparent; we are acting within international rules and laws and want our rights to be respected in return," the ambassador said, hinting at Iran's long-held right to develop a peaceful nuclear program.
At this point journalists were barred from the chamber. When the talks ended 90 minutes later, Kosachev and Ansari tried their utmost not to answer journalists' questions.
The Iranian, for example, was asked what was stopping Iran accepting the Russian enrichment offer. "If I were to answer you, why should an Iranian delegation then come here and what would it have to do?" the ambassador joked.
Kosachev was asked whether the deputies were happy with the Iranian ambassador's explanation of his president's belligerent statements. In reply, Kosachev said that "explanations were given, but they did not satisfy us, and we still regard the statements as unacceptable."
According to a source, the Iranian ambassador's explanation to the deputies was that "Iran could never launch a nuclear strike at Israel, because to the Muslim world Jerusalem is a holy city."
The deputies were not placated, but they clearly failed to get the ambassador to disavow his boss's actual statements.
"I got the impression that the Iranians are prepared to adjust their position," Yuliy Kvitsinskiy, first deputy chairman of the international affairs committee, told. According to him, compromise accord is expected to be reached at the 20 February talks. "My understanding is that the Iranians want as far as possible to hold on to the full nuclear cycle, but are prepared for some temporary solutions, maybe prepared to suspend some matters," Kvitsinskiy suggested.
"Russia's task is to prevent a crisis in its southern soft underbelly, although if the Americans go and launch a military operation anyway, they will get a full-blown crisis," the deputy said.
Another meeting participant, Duma international affairs committee member Ruslan Yamadayev, told that his feeling was that although Iran is "perfectly read to compromise," it is also mindful of a possible military scenario. If the dispute were to escalate, Yamadayev suggested, Ira would have the support of the Muslim world. "They (the Iranians --) have not breached any accords or agreements," the deputy believes.
1. Global Initiative Aims To Boost Nuclear Energy, Nonproliferation - Policy shift to allow aggressive technology development, U.S. says
U.S. Department of State/Bureau of International Information Programs
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The United States has launched an international technology initiative that it hopes will expand the nuclear power industry around the world without raising the risk of nuclear proliferation.
Clay Sell, U.S. under secretary of energy, said the global initiative, called the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP), "will allow us to increase U.S. and global energy security, encourage clean development around the world, while improving the environment and reducing the risk of nuclear proliferation."
Increased international cooperation is a key element of the initiative. (See related article.)
Because of its grand ambitions, the GNEP faces many political, security, financial and logistical challenges, he added.
"But we think with technology and with strong international participation, it is possible," he said at a February 16 briefing in Washington.
He said the GNEP seeks to:
• Promote nuclear energy for electricity generation as a clean alternative to fossil fuels, especially coal, which produce greenhouse emissions and other pollutants when burned;
• Recycle spent nuclear fuel in a way that not only would reduce the weapons proliferation threat but also dramatically decrease the amount of radioactive waste; and
• Give developing countries access to clean and affordable energy within a proliferation-resistant framework of nuclear fuel services provided by developed countries.
MAJOR POLICY CHANGE
GNEP requires a major shift in the U.S. policy on nuclear reprocessing and depends on a number of advanced technologies still in their infancy.
Sell said the Bush administration wants to reverse President Carter's 1977 ban on the commercial reprocessing of spent fuel, which was put in place to prevent nuclear weapons proliferation. Spent fuel contains pure plutonium, which could be used to produce a nuclear bomb.
This has been a stance that "virtually no one [else] followed," Sell said. The United Kingdom, France, Japan and Russia have proceeded with commercial reprocessing based on U.S. technology. Now, the United States wants to develop an advanced reprocessing technology that will make it a "leader rather than a spectator," Sell said.
But a reversal of the U.S. policy, after such a long hiatus in commercial reprocessing, is likely to create uneasiness around the world at a time of increasing concern about nuclear weapon programs in North Korea, Iran and other countries, according to John Deutch of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Deutch, who served as director of central intelligence in President Clinton's first administration, says he is a strong supporter of the initiative, which enjoys bipartisan support. But in a February 17 interview with the Washington File, he said the Bush administration will have a hard time persuading countries it believes are developing or may consider developing technology for weapons to refrain from reprocessing at the time the United States is resuming reprocessing spent fuel.
Administration officials argue the United States intends to resume work on reprocessing only to make spent nuclear fuel "proliferation-resistant" and is not doing it unilaterally but as part of the international effort.
Sell said the administration consulted the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, Japan and the International Atomic Energy Agency and found "broad agreement" on all objectives of the initiative.
At the center of the GNEP is urex-plus, an advanced version of the existing reprocessing technology that does not separate plutonium from other long-lived radioactive elements. Reprocessed materials, which retain about 90 percent of energy content of primary fuel, can be burned in advanced reactors to produce even more energy, according to Department of Energy fact sheets.
However, reprocessed fuel cannot easily be used to produce nuclear weapons and will be difficult to handle without advanced robotics. Spent fuel coming from advanced burner reactors can be recycled again and again, reducing greatly the amount of waste and its radioactive toxicity.
In addition, the new process would allow burning of more than 200 metric tons of existing plutonium stockpiles, thus reducing the proliferation threat even further, Sell said. It also would dramatically reduce the need for underground storage of radioactive waste, which has been one of the major obstacles to faster expansion of the nuclear power industry, he added.
This dramatic reduction of radioactive waste and its reduced toxicity also might help to soften the opposition of mainstream environmental organizations to nuclear power, according to nuclear-power industry analysts. Such groups have opposed nuclear energy because of perceived risks associated with nuclear power plant operations and disposal of large amounts of radioactive waste.
However, urex-plus and accompanying technologies are years away from a commercial application. Although they have been tested successfully in the laboratory, "the practicality of these schemes is not yet established and requires additional scientific and engineering research," according to 2005 testimony from an official of the Argonne National Laboratory before the House of Representatives Science Committee.
Under Secretary of State Robert Joseph said February 16 that the U.S. goal is to demonstrate advanced reprocessing technology beyond the laboratory environment, "hopefully" in the next five years, and have a pilot advanced burner reactor in the next 10 years. The administration hopes to have a commercial reprocessing system in place by 2025, officials said at an earlier briefing.
This is a wildly optimistic estimate, Deutch said.
"We are talking about the programs it will take many decades to develop," he said.
Deutch's view is shared by many experts inside and outside the U.S. nuclear-power industry. Mitch Singer, spokesman of the Nuclear Energy Institute industry group, said that the institute's analysis indicates that those technologies will not be ready to use for 50 years to 60 years.
Nevertheless, he said in a February 21 interview, the industry supports the initiative as a crucial effort to address nuclear waste disposal and other issues essential for the industry's expansion.
Sell said the administration is contemplating "dramatically" accelerating work on a new generation of nuclear technologies to follow an "admittedly aggressive time schedule."
Joseph said that the administration still is discussing the time line of GNEP projects with potential international partners.
For additional information on U.S. initiatives, see Energy Policy.
2. Global Partnership Aims To Change Nuclear Power Arrangements - Partners will offer incentives, assurances to poorer countries, U.S. officials say
U.S. Department of State/Bureau of International Information Programs
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The United States seeks to work with other countries on an initiative that would reorder international nuclear power arrangements to reduce the weapons proliferation threat and encourage sustainable development, U.S. officials say.
Under Secretary of State Robert Joseph told reporters February 16 that international participation is "absolutely essential" to the success of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) initiative, requiring the sharing of nuclear-power expertise, experience and costs.
Clay Sell, under secretary of energy, said at the same briefing that the Bush administration has requested $250 million from Congress for the initiative for the fiscal year that begins October 1. Sell said he hopes that level "will be matched in a very significant way by international partners."
The goals of the international technology initiative were laid out at a February 16 briefing in Washington. (See related article.)
POWER FOR DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
GNEP aims not only to expand the nuclear-power industry but also to make nuclear energy available to less developed countries in a way that would prevent the spread of sensitive fuel enrichment and reprocessing technologies. These technologies can be used to build nuclear weapons.
Joseph said that the initiative addresses the weapons proliferation threat "not by denying any state its rights under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but rather by providing incentives."
Under GNEP, developed countries with nuclear capabilities would provide affordable nuclear fuel to developing nations and then take back spent fuel for reprocessing and ultimate disposal. In addition, simpler, smaller and less costly reactors would be promoted for use in developing countries.
John Deutch of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said such an offer would be very attractive to less developed countries that care more about meeting energy needs than acquiring nuclear technology.
"They will believe this is a godsend because an offer for enrichment, reprocessing and waste disposal by nuclear-supplier states is likely to be economically quite attractive," Deutch, former U.S. director of central intelligence, said in a February 17 interview with the Washington File.
He was less certain about the reaction of larger, emerging-market countries -- such as Brazil and Iran -- that either have tried or plan to develop nuclear power on their own.
Demonstrating as early as possible that the new arrangement can create benefits for developing countries would be crucial, he said.
"The people are going to evaluate it not in the abstract but how it is really working in practice," he said.
Joseph said that the United States already has been working to assure non-nuclear countries that they can have access to nuclear fuel while discouraging them from investing in very expensive and sensitive technologies.
He said the GNEP concept would advance nonproliferation and would be "intended to prevent future Irans, future contingencies."
ADVANCED REPROCESSING AND NONPROLIFERATION
Some environmental groups and energy experts question the nonproliferation value of the initiative. They argue that, with a wide global network of temporary storage sites and transportation routes, terrorists would have more opportunities to steal nuclear materials and build devices dispersing radioactive materials.
Deutch said reprocessed spent fuel must be transported with the greatest care to prevent any accidents or hijacking by terrorists. He added that the proposed arrangement would be much less risky than having pure plutonium stored and transported around the world.
"So while there are risks and very serious matters that require attention [in this arrangement]," Deutch said, "they are preferable to more serious risks associated with the existing closed fuel cycle and reprocessing activities."
Sell said new technologies will allow GNEP partners to build a sophisticated system to monitor and control any diversions of nuclear materials as well as promote best practices in handling those materials worldwide.
For additional information on U.S. policy, see Arms Control and Nonproliferation.
3. Russian State Duma Defense Committee Supports Ratifying Agreement Within CTBT
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The State Duma Defense Committee supports ratifying an agreement between Russia and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) Organization on establishing a global nuclear test monitoring system.
"We recommend that the State Duma ratify the agreement," committee chairman Viktor Zavarzin told Interfax-Military News Agency on Tuesday.
According to him, the passing of a corresponding federal law will establish a legal basis for cooperation between Russia and the CTBT Organization in the sphere of establishing, modernizing, certifying, and operating the Russian component of the global monitoring system.
Noting that the agreement was in Russia's national interests, he said that the document defined the cooperation framework and liabilities of the CTBT Organization's Preparatory Commission, tasked with assisting Russia in establishing and modernizing a nuclear test monitoring system on its territory without strings attached.
The cost of establishing the Russian component of the global monitoring system was earlier assessed at about $15 million.
The CTBT was signed on September 24, 1996. Russia ratified the treaty in June 2000. The treaty bans any test nuclear explosion or any other nuclear explosion, spurring, inspiring, or participating in conducting a test nuclear explosion.
Under the decision of CTBT signatories, the CTBT Organization's Preparatory Commission established the global monitoring system for enforcing provisions of the treaty. The global monitoring system comprises seismological, radionuclide, sonar, and subsonic monitoring.
The Russian government has submitted the agreement to the State Duma for ratification.
4. Interview with Russian Deputy Foreign Miinster Alexander Yakovenko on the Iraq's Nuclear Dossier
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
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Question: Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with Demetrius Perricos, Acting Executive Chairman of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC). During the meeting the parties discussed the situation around the Iraq file concerning mass destruction weapons in that country. Was not the file closed after it turned out that Iraq possessed no mass destructions weapons?
Alexander Yakovenko: The IAEA and UNMOVIC, on the basis of relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council and on the results of their work in Iraq, had to report on the availability of mass destruction weapons in that country. According to Dr. Hans Blix, who headed UNMOVIC at the time, several months were required to give the final answer. But we all know what followed. The United States and Britain decided to take a unilateral military action bypassing the UN Security Council.
Still, in formal terms, the Security Council has not closed the file. Therefore, it is now necessary to revisit the Iraq disarmament file in the Security Council's framework.
Question: The Americans looked for mass destruction weapons, yet they failed to find anything.
Alexander Yakovenko: Really a survey group led by Charles Duelfer worked in Iraq. After many months of searches, they prepared a relevant report. But, first, the document has not been published. Only some facts that leaked into the press are known. Besides, it is not certain that the information that has been published accurately reflects the survey group's findings and conclusions. Second, it is a report prepared by one country and that country is strongly involved in the Iraqi affairs. The UN Security Council cannot make its decisions on that basis. UNMOVIC and the IAEA have to analyze American materials yet again and submit conclusions to the Council.
Let me note that the American report strongly differs in structure terms from UNMOVIC's findings, which means that it will be necessary to collate and analyze the data. Besides, UNMOVIC and the IAEA could raise the issue of new onsite inspections, the need to discuss it with Iraq scholars and take other steps. For that to be done, it is necessary to get the go-ahead from Iraq's new government to be formed on the results of the parliamentary election held in December, 2005.
I hope that the United States will show readiness to cooperate on the issue. Washington will then have to provide the findings of its survey group to the United Nations. Naturally, not all findings, but only those directly related to the competence of UNMOVIC and the IAEA. After those organizations provide reports and after potential inspections of Iraqi facilities are carried out, the Security Council should adopt a resolution that would sum up the results of UNMOVIC's and the IAEA's activities in Iraq and would fix the completion of the mandate of those organizations.
Question: What are the general criteria for Iraq's disarmament?
Alexander Yakovenko: Naturally, such criteria do exist. As for the goal of Iraq's disarmament, it is not limited to physical elimination of certain components of mass destruction weapons and delivery means. Plans call for exercising control over Iraqi facilities in the long run, which would allow preventing the implementation of programs related to designing, development and production of mass destruction weapons and would put related materials, technologies and equipment under control.
Under the current conditions, the problem of Iraq's mass destruction weapons has grown even more acute, especially with account of military political instability in Iraq, where elementary guarantees that those dangerous elements will not fall into the hands of terrorist organizations are lacking. Facts are well known when such components used to be moved out of Iraq as scrap metal.
Question: Are there restrictions in place for supplies of certain materials to Iraq?
Alexander Yakovenko: Such restrictions are fixed in the Security Council's relevant decisions. Along with materials, they concern technologies. But this is not enough. Iraq should adhere to the additional protocol to the IAEA Safeguards Agreement and the Chemical Weapons Convention. Talks on the issue are underway, but they have yet to yield results.
Original source: Rossiiskaya Gazeta, February 20, 2006.
1. UKRAINE NEEDS FUNDS TO PROCESS SOVIET-ERA MISSILE FUEL, PAPER SAYS
BBC Monitoring International Reports
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A facility in Lviv Region where missile fuel has been stored since the 1960s is safe but the fuel needs recycling, a military newspaper has reported. The fuel of the same type has successfully been recycled using foreign funding in Georgia and Moldova. The following is the text of Mykhaylo Hrynevych's article headlined "Melangephobia" and Oleksiy Trubitsyn's comment "Peculiarity of melange" published in the Ukrainian military daily Narodna Armiya on 10 February; subheadings have been inserted editorially:
Ahead of the parliamentary elections [in March 2006], some media are for the umpteenth time focusing their readers' attention on problems of keeping missile fuel which was piled up at storage facilities starting from the early 1960s and is not used in the Ukrainian armed forces anymore. Quite a lot has been said and written to this effect, in particular, about threats posed to the population and the environment by the storage sites of missile fuel, such as melange. Melange essentially is concentrated nitric acid which is used as an oxidant for medium- and short-range missile fuel.
Source of hazard
Our correspondent has visited one of melange places of storage near Radekhiv, a [rural] district centre in Lviv Region.
The Radekhiv storage facility was used not only to keep melange but also to provide current supplies of fuel and lubricant for military units stationed in the regions of Lviv, Ternopil and Lutsk. As a result of reform, the facility has become a branch of the 48th fuel supplying centre of the western operational command [of the armed forces of Ukraine]. Now its main task is the safekeeping of missile fuel. How is the service going and what problems are facing people who have to deal in line of duty with very toxic substances such as melange?
"The technological equipment of our tank facilities is maintained by specialists trained for us at the Desna training centre for land forces and by personnel of the missile fuel department," the branch chief, Lt-Col Oleh Vurhanov, has told us.
According to Vurhanov, there is 3,200 t of melange being kept here in special tanks ranging from 17 to 100 cubic metres in capacity. The tanks are made of an aluminium alloy or stainless steel. Their service life ranges from 13 to 15 years. Such tanks have been used to keep missile fuel since 1998. Five units of missile fuel storage have been re-equipped over the past seven years.
I asked Lt-Col Vurhanov about the health of people working on the equipment. Many of them have been doing their service for more than one year there, living with their families next to the melange storage facility. The officer spoke about himself as a case in point. He had graduated from a higher military engineering school in Ulyanovsk [Russia] and had to do with missile fuel practically all the time of his 20-year career. Yet he had no special complaints about his health condition.
Lt-Col Vurhanov has a pretty good collection of newspaper publications on problems of melange storage and recycling. Most of them, he said, not only lack in objectiveness. They appear to have little of missile fuel except that it is a highly toxic substance.
Even children in the garrison know that melange itself will not burn even if you pour it into a bucket and set fire to it. It will do if you mix it with its "elder brother" heptyl. Yet this special missile fuel, which does not decompose in nature, cannot be found in Ukraine. It was recycled 10 years ago when the USA funded a programme to destroy strategic missile complexes.
Ways and means
The military have nothing against recycling melange which is a chemically aggressive substance capable of eroding any metal in time. On the contrary, they actively support the idea of getting Western grants as soon as possible for the full recycling of missile fuel components. In 2005 alone, NATO, OSCE and German experts visited Radekhiv to work out a blueprint for missile fuel recycling. Previously specialists from the US agency for minimizing the threat of missile fuel storage had surveyed the melange storage site using special instruments. Their conclusion stated in no uncertain terms that it was absolutely safe. Nor did they find environmental contamination exceeding established standards. Yet it is not worth dwelling on. Everybody is perfectly aware that this component of missile fuel must all be destroyed.
Ukrainian specialists think that Rivneazot [ammonia plant] could recycle all the melange being stored in Radekhiv within one month. For this purpose it is necessary to re-equip Rivneazot and certainly find the funds. This is just what is lacking. It is not envisaged in the state budget for this year. According to Lt-Col Vurhanov, 0.13m hryvnyas [about 25,000 dollars] was allocated from the Defence Ministry's budget in 2005 to this unit to ensure the trouble-free storage of missile fuel components and to bring its storage conditions into line with regulations. This is fairly good money compared with previous years when they were short of funds, for instance, to replenish their stocks of aqueous solution of ammonia. In actual fact, the Radekhiv branch needs at least 1m hryvnyas for these purposes. Ukraine has eight such branches and storage sites keeping missile fuel. According to expert estimates, the full recycling of this component of missile fuel will take about 20m dollars.
To save the scanty budget funds we need to sustain efforts lobbying for grants from special foreign foundations. Incidentally, this is the path taken by the neighbouring Moldova and Georgia. In Moldova, NATO's agency NAMSA has allocated funds for the full recycling of more than 350 t of melange at a base in (?Dencenti) near Chisinau. The entire operation was successfully accomplished back in 2002. Interestingly enough, a Ukrainian firm was a hired as a subcontractor on that occasion. In the same year, Georgia successfully eliminated its stocks of melange at its base in (?Meriya). Funds from western European states were involved in the project while the project itself was coordinated by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe [OSCE].
Lastly, the parliamentary campaign gathering momentum may give rise to a "melangephobia" with the use of buzz words such as "chemical threat", "dangerous arsenals" and the like. Will missile fuel storage sites get any safer for all that? Melange calls for permanent rather than pre-election attention.
Peculiarity of melange
Narodna Armiya has repeatedly covered problems of storing and recycling the liquid missile fuel component generally referred to as melange. Specifically, in an interview with reserve Lt-Gen Oleksandr Fomenko who is adviser to chief of the General Staff of the armed forces of Ukraine on combat against terrorism and protection of military sites. The interview was published under the headline "Melange does not know the word 'wait'" on 27 May 2005.
The problem has two aspects: storage and recycling. Experts including foreign ones think that the tanks containing melange are approaching the end of their service life today. The corrosive mix has thinned down their walls from 12.5 to 2.5 centimetres. OSCE experts visited each of the armed forces' eight storage facilities towards the end of 2005 to satisfy themselves that so it is. Oleksandr Fomenko accompanied the foreigners on their trip which actually constituted the first practical step of the Ukraine - OSCE - Melange international programme.
As regards the practical destruction of melange, it is no doubt a pressing problem and the above said OSCE programme envisages steps along these lines as well.
No contractors have been identified yet because no international tender has been held. It is hard to say who is to win because it is to be funded by the OSCE.
As regards domestic companies and firms wishing to take part in that work, we have them enough and to spare today and not only in Rivne Region. They have only one request: give us money, they say, to upgrade our technologies. Unfortunately, Ukraine has no time-tested and, more importantly, cheap practices to recycle melange. This is another thing that representatives of international organizations saw for themselves last year.
Original source: Narodna Armiya, Kiev, February 10, 2006, p. 3.
2. US Inspectors Find No Violations Of START-1 At Russia Base
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US military experts have not found violations of the Russian-American Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START-1) during an inspection of the Russian Northern Fleet's base of nuclear-powered submarines at Yagelnaya Bay.
A Defence Ministry official told Itar-Tass on Monday that "ten representatives of the Pentagon checked the base of storage of ballistics missile of submarines".
The inspectors wanted to ascertain the presence and type of the sea-based submarines at the storage facility that had been declared by the Russian side as of January 1, 2006.
The START-1 that came in force in December 1994 stipulates the reduction of numbers of deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine launched ballistic missiles and heavy bombers to 1,600.
The treaty limits the number of nuclear warheads to 6,000.
The conversion of Cold War weapons plutonium at Savannah River Site into fuel for commercial nuclear reactors isn't likely to start until 2015, six years later than originally planned.
Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman gave that assessment in a letter to the U.S. Senate's Armed Services Committee on Wednesday. The agency is required to provide annual progress reports on the mixed-oxide fuel fabrication facility, or MOX.
The project, part of a nuclear nonproliferation treaty with Russia, is of particular concern to local leaders because the Energy Department plans to ship 34 tons of radioactive plutonium to SRS for conversion at the MOX facility.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved construction of the plant and site preparation continues, Mr. Bodman wrote, but "the MOX performance objective is unlikely to be achieved before 2015."
"The department will continue to explore ways to accelerate its schedule for this important mission so as to permit achievement of the MOX production objective at the earliest possible date," Mr. Bodman wrote.
This latest delay has some people questioning whether the program will be completed and whether it's worth the rising cost.
"It underscores the need to re-evaluate the whole program and look at other options," said Tom Clements, a former Greenpeace International member who monitors nuclear issues. "The real question is where is proper congressional oversight on this thing?"
When the MOX plan was hatched in 2000, the Energy Department was supposed to start the conversion process by the end of 2009 or pay fines to South Carolina of up to $1 million per day. In November, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., helped craft an extension that gave the Energy Department an extra three years to start production.
"Sen. Graham continues to be concerned by delays in the MOX program," his spokesman, Kevin Bishop, said in a statement. "MOX is a key component to our national security and nonproliferation efforts. The sooner we can get the MOX facility built and operational, the better."
Construction on the plant has been continuously postponed because of liability issues in Russia, which is supposed to build a similar plant as part of its agreement with the United States. The SRS project also has been plagued with mismanagement that increased the estimated price tag to $3.5 billion, more than $2 billion higher than the initial budget.
Officials say they hope to start construction in May, even though private contractors have yet to complete designs for the facility.
The Aiken County Council sued the Energy Department last year, asking it to stop sending plutonium to SRS and to provide an updated time frame for its construction.
County Councilman Chuck Smith, a vocal critic of the handling of the MOX project, said he was encouraged that the Energy Department remained committed to the project but was skeptical nonetheless.
"We're getting more rhetoric that they're committed to do this," he said. "But I'll believe them when I start seeing them lay blocks."
The latest delay in completion of the mixed-oxide fuel fabrication facility at Savannah River Site raises questions about the disposal of 34 tons of radioactive plutonium that the U.S. Department of Energy plans to ship to the site.
1. Sevmash to manufacture containers for icebreakers’ spent nuclear fuel
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Sevmash defence enterprise located in Severnaya Dvina (Arkhangelsk region) concluded a contract on the manufacture of a new batch of transport-packaging sets (TUK-120) for spent nuclear fuel.
The representatives of the Sevmash plant, the Murmansk Shipping Company, and UK company Crown Agents signed the contract. The project is sponsored by the United Kingdom.
Containers TUK -120 are intended for the storage of spent fuel of Russian atomic icebreakers based at Atomflot Enterprise in the Murmansk region. All 50 containers are to be placed in a specially equipped coastal storage facility to ensure the safe storage of non-processible nuclear fuel of Russian icebreaker fleet in the next fifty years.
2. Nuke energy to be among key items on G-8 agenda in Petersburg
Dmitri Kersanov and Andrei Chytov
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The Bush Administration expects energy to be among the key items on the agenda of the G-8 summit, which will be held in St. Petersburg this summer. Russia is to chair it for the first time. Moreover, the United States believes nuclear energy will be an important element of this section of the upcoming summit's agenda. U.S. Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security Robert Joseph expressed this view at the Thursday briefing for foreign journalists here in reply to an Itar-Tass query.
He said Russia would chair the G-8 and, as far as he knew, it was planning to advocate the energy agenda. Washington believes nuclear energy should be its important element, he added. In Joseph's opinion, Russia shares this view and, of course, it will head the efforts in this domain.
U.S. First Deputy Secretary of Energy Clay Sell also attended the briefing, which was devoted to the launching of Washington's new initiative - the so-called ``Global Nuclear Energy Partnership''. The purpose of this new initiative is to sharply boost atomic energy in America and in the entire world on the basis of new technologies, which will be safe from point of view of non-proliferation.
International dimension is an indispensable condition for the success of this partnership, Joseph stressed.
Moscow, he added, was sufficiently receptive to several ideas pertaining to the ``Global Nuclear Energy Partnership'' initiative, which were explained to it during the preliminary contacts with American officials. At the same time, Joseph added, Russia and the United States have not discussed so far anything concrete concerning their interaction within the framework of this initiative. Both sides are now studying it, the expert admitted. Nevertheless, he noted, the American side is impatiently looking forward to the day when the U.S. will be able to achieve more active cooperation with Russia. has learned that Joseph is to shortly hold consultations with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak in one of the European capitals. The U.S. Under Secretary refused to indicate the problems that are to be discussed at that meeting and merely added that the ``Global Nuclear Energy Partnership'' initiative would most likely come up in the context of enlarged agenda. We are periodically holding meetings and consultations on a broad range of problems, for which we are responsible within the governments of our two countries. I would prefer not to go into details this time, he stated.
During his brief talk with Itar-Tass correspondent after the briefing, Joseph added that working trips to Moscow were planned for the near future.
1. Nuclear storage ship Lepse to be dismantled at Nerpa shipyard
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The project on Lepse nuclear storage ship will be carried out at the Nerpa shipyard in Murmansk region, where Kursk submarine was previously scrapped.
The Lepse is a floating storage facility for spent nuclear fuel, and liquid and solid radioactive wastes from the Russian icebreaker fleet.
The Nerpa chief engineer Rostislav Rimdenok, said to Interfax that the first coordinating meeting has already taken place where the main Russian participants of the project gathered: Nerpa shipyard, company Aspect-Konversia (Rosatom’s daughter company), Severodvinsk design bureau Onega. The project is financed by the European Commission in the frames of the TACIS program. The appropriate contract was signed in the end of 2005. According to the specialists, the project cost of the whole project is about $30m.
Rimdenok said to Interfax, that it should be decided how the ship can be transported to Nerpa and on which platform it should be mounted before dismantlement. It should be taken into consideration the fact that Lepse is a real threat to the radiation safety of Murmansk and the whole region. He added that Nerpa is the only site where Lepse can be dismantled safely, but it requires significant time and financing.
According to the contract, the project’s preliminary stages will be carried out during 18 months. In particular, it concerns the development of the best alternative of the facility dismantlement, working out of the chosen alternative, paper work for the tender. The Lepse managing committee has been established and headed by the NEFCO representative Magnus Rystedt.
The technical support vessel Lepse presents the biggest nuclear and radiation risk of all retired nuclear service ships in Russia. In 1988, the vessel was taken out of service, and, in 1990, it was assigned the category of "laid-up vessel." The Lepse's spent nuclear fuel storage holds (in casks and caissons) 639 spent fuel assemblies (SFAs), and a significant portion of them is severely damaged. Extraction of the SFAs from storage holds would present a radiation risk and be a complex technical operation, the framework for which has still not been worked out. The ship is presently laid-up at Atomflot, which carries out service on nuclear powered icebreakers. Atomflot is located in the Kola Bay, two kilometres from the boarder of Murmansk city, which has population of 400,000. The ship is operated by joint stock company Murmansk Shipping Company (MSCo).
The safe dismantling of the Former Soviet Union's nuclear submarine fleet is one of the world's top security and environmental objectives. A UK team tackled two Oscar-I class warships in 2003.
On the basis of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START agreement) of 1991, the governments of the USA and the Russian Federation signed a framework agreement in July 1992 concerning 'cooperative threat reduction' (CTR). This led in turn to the signing, in August 1993, of an agreement for the elimination of strategic offensive arms. Responsibility for the implementation of this agreement was given to the Ministry of Economy of the Russian Federation in 1997. Under this agreement, disposal of the agreed number of the Russian Navy's strategic nuclear submarines (those equipped with ballistic nuclear missiles), was largely completed by 2003 with the help of US funding.
However a larger proportion of the Russian submarine fleet is made up of general purpose rather than strategic nuclear submarines. About 100 have so far been decommissioned from the Navy, 23 of which are still awaiting dismantling. Many of these submarines are stored afloat, mostly in a poor condition and some still with spent nuclear fuel (SNF) on board. These range from relatively new classes to those constructed at the beginning of the Former Soviet Union's (FSU's) nuclear submarine programme in the 1960s.
The environmental and nuclear proliferation risks presented by the submarines had become of concern not only to the Russian Federation but the also to the international community at large. To address these and other concerns about the spread of weapons and materials of mass destruction it was agreed at the G8 summit meeting in Kananaskis, Canada, in June 2002 that a global partnership would be formed and a financial commitment made to counteract the threat. The safe treatment and disposal of decommissioned submarines and the associated radioactive and toxic materials was highlighted as one of the priorities of the global partnership programme. The UK was to make its contribution to this partnership through its 'nuclear legacy programme', to be funded through the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). To this end the DTI contracted a British based team from RWE Nukem to manage its programme in northwestern Russia, including the submarine dismantling programme, and negotiations were begun with the Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy (now Rosatom) and the Sevmash shipyard of Severodvinsk to fund the dismantling of two Oscar-I class cruise missile submarines. Keel Marine, also of the UK, was subcontracted by RWE Nukem to provide marine expertise and support during the dismantling process. The final dismantling work was carried out at Zvezdochka shipyard in Severodvinsk under contract from Sevmash.
As a precursor to the dismantling of the submarines, Russian documentation covering environmental, safety, operational, and technical issues had to be prepared and submitted to Russian regulatory bodies for approval. This set of documentation included an environmental impact assessment covering the whole project.
In addition to the dismantling of the submarines, funds were also made available for shipyard infrastructure improvement projects to ensure that the dismantling work could be carried out safely and efficiently. These included additional containers for scrap metal and radioactive and toxic waste, as well as additional gas cutting equipment.
The Oscar-I class is a steel-hulled third generation nuclear submarine with a length of approximately 145m and overall beam of approximately 18m (11m diameter of pressure hull), making it among the largest submarines in the FSU fleet. The two submarines considered for dismantling were the only examples of this class to be completed. They had the serial numbers No 605 and No 606, and they were named Arkhangelsk and Murmansk, respectively. Arkhangelsk was in service between 1980 and 1996 and Murmansk between 1983 and 1997. The SNF had already been removed from the submarines prior to dismantling.
Safety and Environmental Issues
The dismantling of the submarines clearly raises a number of safety and environmental issues. Not only does the shipyard have to contend with the normal hazards associated with ship recycling but extra risk is introduced with the handling, treatment, storage and disposal of a variety of radioactive and toxic wastes removed from the submarine.
A detailed risk assessment for the complete project was carried out at an early stage. However, this identified that the greatest risk to the UK team came from travelling by road to the shipyard.
General safety procedures in the shipyard do not appear to be well defined, although there can always be found a written procedure for almost everything, if you know where to look. However the general safety record of the yard seemed very good, and during the period of the dismantling no work-related accidents were reported. In fact the most commonly reported accidents are not related specifically to the activities of the shipyard but are as a result of people falling on the snow and ice that is a feature of the area in the winter months, when temperatures down to -30 degC are not unusual.
Radiological safety has been ensured throughout the project in a number of ways. Before work began at the yard a radiological survey was carried out to determine the levels of contamination and radioactivity in various areas. No unexpected anomalies were found. The shipyard's own practices and procedures in radiation protection were found to be adequate, and similar to (sometimes more stringent than) equivalent UK standards.
Personal dosimeters were issued to staff visiting the shipyard, which were then analysed on return to the UK. No significant levels were identified during the project.
Floating health physics facilities were moored close to the submarines during dismantling, containing areas which had to be passed through by shipyard workers going both to and from areas which may have been contaminated. Facilities on these barges included 'clean' and 'dirty' changing areas, showering and laundry facilities, separation barrier, radiation monitoring and security.
Protective overshoes and clothing were always provided to all staff by the shipyard when visiting SNF, solid and liquid radioactive waste (SRW and LRW) handling and treatment areas, along with a full radiation and contamination monitoring regime.
During the early stages of negotiation with the shipyard it was agreed that representatives from RWE Nukem would make visits to the yard on a monthly basis to monitor progress and assess milestone achievement claims.
To make the milestone payments significant without being too large it was decided that 24 milestones would be required for each submarine. The frequency of these payments ensured that the yard would not be placed under undue financial pressure which may encourage them to cut corners and jeopardise safety to bring forward large payments. This was also reinforced by the frequency of the visits which meant that if the yard were to miss a milestone or if a claimed milestone was rejected, it need be only a month before it could be resubmitted.
The whole project was continually tracked by both the Russian and the British sides using Microsoft Project in a schedule linking the dismantling process to the 24 milestones, with well-defined criteria for assessing each.
In addition to the monthly monitoring, weekly progress reports were sent to RWE Nukem by a local representative who would attend weekly shipyard meetings. In the early stages of the project these weekly reports were invaluable in assessing likely compliance with the programme.
The monthly monitoring visits would usually be carried out by two people, generally one representative from RWE Nukem and one from Keel Marine. The visit would take the form of a shipyard tour followed by a progress meeting. The agenda for each progress meeting had to be presented at least a month ahead, as translation was required and the list of attendees had to be submitted at least 21 days in advance to obtain security clearance for entering both Severodvinsk city and the Zvezdochka shipyard.
This approach to the project management meant that, despite some minor delays in certain areas of the project, the overall objectives were successfully achieved on budget and ahead of schedule.
The submarine is considered in three blocks: the aft (rear) block, the forward block and the central reactor compartment block. The reactor compartment block consists of the reactor compartment itself and watertight compartments forward and aft of the reactor. This block is also known as a three-compartment unit. At this stage it is possible to fully dismantle the forward and aft blocks. The three-compartment unit is used as a means of providing long-term floating storage of the reactor. In addition it is also used to store most of the SRW, such as piping systems, that is removed from the submarine. This material is cut up, sealed in metal containers and secured permanently in the reactor compartment.
The process of dismantling begins with the submarine being divided into these three sections. The forward and aft blocks are then cut up and moved to a separate dismantling area within the shipyard for further size reduction. It was possible for this to start as soon as both Oscar-I submarines had their SNF removed and transported for safe storage, and LRW (from cooling systems etc) drained off and stored for subsequent treatment and release.
The forward and aft blocks are dismantled in a fairly conventional fashion. All the hull coatings, insulation, cables, pipes and equipment are removed before the hull structure is cut from the submarine in large pieces. Equipment and large metal sections are then cut down into manageable sizes suitable for sale as scrap, using gas cutting and mechanical shearing techniques.
The electrical cable from the submarine (of which there are many kilometres) is typically cut into short lengths and passed through a cable shredding machine. This separates the cable into granulated insulation and granulated pure copper.
Most of the metal extracted from the submarine (such as steel, copper, titanium and other precious metals) is sold as scrap. At the beginning of the project the revenue expected from the sale of these materials was anticipated to be fairly small compared to the funds required to dismantle the submarine. However, the recent escalation in the value of steel and other scrap materials has changed this considerably.
Following the removal of the forward and aft blocks the remaining three-compartment unit (containing the reactor) is then prepared for storage. The majority of the SRW removed from the submarine is secured in the reactor compartment. The unit is then sealed, painted and re-floated for transport to an interim storage site such as Saida Bay.
A longer-term solution for the storage of these reactor compartments (of which there are currently about 60 afloat at Saida Bay), is being built. This new facility (due for completion in 2006) will be able to accommodate approximately 120 reactor compartments (cut down to single compartment units) on land, for long-term dry storage.
Russian regulations consider almost all wastes as 'toxic-waste', graded in toxicity from 1 (highly toxic) to 4 (virtually non-toxic). Hence a large proportion of the 'toxic' waste comes from the outer hull coating of the submarines, which is made up of thick rubber tiles to provide acoustic damping. Other 'toxic' substances produced in the dismantling process are lubricants, oils, refrigerants, insulation materials, mercury from lamps and asbestos-based lagging. Although asbestos is considered to be of relatively low risk under Russian regulations, the safe storage of such materials has been carefully considered. Indeed, a new long-term store for closed containers of non-treatable toxic waste was nearing completion as the two Oscars were being dismantled.
Mercury from the lamps is recovered locally and recycled; oils are generally used in heat generation by incineration; rubber is sometimes granulated and used in road surfacing - remaining rubber is simply stored in open compounds and insulation; asbestos, plastics and other toxic waste is contained and kept in long-term toxic waste storage.
SRW (for example from piping systems, tooling, glass, plastics and personal protection equipment) is compacted at a new processing facility in the shipyard and then packed into closed containers for securing in the three-compartment unit for long-term storage. Some small quantities of SRW, in particular the residue from the treatment of LRW (contaminated salt, resins, filters and so on) are packed into special drums and placed into interim storage in a compound within the shipyard.
LRW from the submarine is primarily contaminated cooling water from the reactor, decontamination fluids, and laundry water from decontamination stations. This is stored and treated in a purpose-built facility in the shipyard which underwent a programme of modernisation in 1999 by Kvaerner. The treatment produces an effluent which is so clean that it can be discharged into the environment. The Russian criteria for allowing this discharge are very stringent and strictly applied.
The SNF from the submarines had already been removed prior to docking, and was transferred by train to the Mayak reprocessing facility in the Urals region of Russia for storage and reprocessing.
The End Products
The three-compartment unit safely moored in interim storage is the most evident end-product of the dismantling. The other end-products are the various waste streams described above, and very importantly, train and truck loads of scrap metals of various kinds, cut into small pieces and sold for recycling. Details of all metals cut from each submarine, and all lots subsequently sold, were recorded by the shipyard in a series of transport logs. These important documentary records were regularly audited by the monitoring team throughout the project.
Now that Oscars No 605 and No 606 have gone, the experience gained and the lessons learned during the project are being put to good use on the next UK-sponsored general purpose submarine dismantling. This is a Victor-III class submarine at the Nerpa Shipyard near Murmansk, and the first project monitoring visits are currently taking place. In addition, the UK team has provided consultancy to both Canada and Norway to assist them in establishing their own submarine dismantling programmes. In particular, the team is contributing to the monitoring of a Norwegian-sponsored submarine (also a Victor-III being dismantled at Nerpa).
1. New reason for withholding information: offending a lawmaker
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Despite the chairman of the State Duma Environmental Committee Vladimir Grachev’s accusations toward Bellona Web of “misinterpreting” a resolution made by his committee that calls for slashing spent nuclear fuel (SNF) reprocessing at the Mayak facility, he and his staff continue to stonewall by refusing to provide reporters with a full copy of the resolution.
Information in the initial article was obtained through a press release issued by his committee, and Grachev’s continued refusals to provide Bellona Web a full version of the resolution make it impossible to corroborate the supposed misinterpretations that have irritated the committee chairman to the point of slamming down the telephone on Bellona Web when further requests for the document were made.
In the absence of any official information refuting the article “Duma committee votes to slash reprocessing—while Rosatom gets read to take on more,” Bellona Web’s editors stand by the original story published here on February 13th.
The article reported on a resolution of the State Duma’s Environmental Committee in which lawmakers called for Rosatom to minimize SNF reprocessing at the Mayak facility. After reading the article, Grachev contacted Bellona Web and expressed dissatisfaction both with its general tone and with some of the details, complaining that the resolution was presented in an unfavourable light. His precise words were that the resolution was presented as a “shabby subtext.”
Grachev also considered offensive the assertion that lawmakers stopped short of calling for Mayak’s license to be revoked, saying that this creates an “unworthy interpretation” of the committee’s resolution.
“Whether [the license] remains or not is not for us to decide. This is decided by [state oversight body] Rostekhnadzor,” he said.
However, Bellona Web had solid grounds for including this section on depriving Mayak of its licence because the draft resolution included this proposal, which we reported in the February 9th article “Duma demands an end to nuclear reprocessing at Mayak.”
Ground for a correction?
Grachev also attempted cleared up one detail: The deputies recommended that the raft of measures to protect the local population be implemented not by the Emergency Situations Ministry and the Chelyabinsk Region administration, but by the Russian Government.
Bellona Web thanks Vladimir Grachev for contacting its editors, and is pleased to give him the opportunity to present his position. However, it should be on the record that it was the Emergency Situations Ministry and the Chelyabinsk Region administration that were mentioned in the press release circulated by Grachev’s Environmental Committee following the adoption of the resolution.
Thus, the supposed discrepancy between the text of the press release—which Bellona Web reported from and which Grachev said included the committee’s final resolution—and the final text of the resolution, which unfortunately was not made available to our correspondent, cannot be independently established by Bellona Web journalists.
“I spoke with [Grachev], and he said that the press release would be enough for you,” a committee official told Bellona Web, guaranteeing the disparity in interpretation.
Bellona Web has been unable to establish whether the text of the adopted resolution is classified information, as it Bellona Web’scontinued attempts to obtain a copy have been unsuccessful. It seems, though, that the information has been withheld from Bellona Web took Grachev took offence at the article, and not for any formal reasons.
Rosatom planning VVER-1000 fuel reprocessing at Mayak
Bellona Web also notes that more important information given by Grachev in an interview and included in the offending article has not been refuted. In particular, Grachev has not denied that Rosatom is planning to process another type of fuel—from VVER-1000 reactors—at Mayak.
““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 in the interview.
Bellona web has obtained confirmation of this from Rosatom as well.
Igor Konyshev, an advisor to Rosatom head Sergei Kirenko, said Rosatom “has carried out research and preparatory work” in order to reprocess VVER-1000 fuel.
“The modernization of Mayak has been going on for some years,” Nikolai Shingarev, director of Rosatom’s Information and Exhibitions Centre, told Bellona web. “This involves replacing technological equipment, changing technologies, and so on—a raft of technological measures.”
This was the first time that Rosatom’s plans to reprocess VVER-1000 fuel at Mayak had been made public. Currently, fuel from these reactors, which are deployed at three NPP’s, is not reprocessed but sent for storage at the Krasnoyarsk Mining and Chemical Combine’s RT-2 facility in central Siberia.
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.
As for the Environmental Committee’s call to reduce SNF reprocessing, it seems that Rosatom remains doubtful as to the efficacy of this step. According to Konyshev, Mayak is already reprocessing a minimal amount of fuel.
“I can say that the resolution [of the Environmental Committee] was implemented long ago, and everything being reprocessed there is minimized as much as possible,” Konyshev said. “The State Duma is simply reporting things that have already been carried out.”
2. Russia's nuclear chief spells out $1.5bln investment plan
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Russian regions could receive $1.5 billion in investment, if they build nuclear power plants under a peaceful atomic energy program, the country's nuclear chief said Tuesday.
Sergei Kiriyenko, the head of the Federal Agency for Nuclear Agency, said after a board meeting of an association of territories and nuclear energy operators that the development of nuclear energy in Russia should include joint work with regions.
"It is very important for us to ensure joint work with regions at the stage of drafting a peaceful nuclear energy development program," Kiriyenko said. "The construction of nuclear power plants can bring regions $1.5 billion. Now regions are competing for this investment."
According to Kiriyenko, this competition must be open and understandable.
He added that the Russian government had issued instructions to prepare a map for the location of generating capacities in the country.
Kiriyenko said the nuclear industry had to build two atomic power plant units a year to maintain its share in the country's electricity output.
Kiriyenko earlier said the share of nuclear energy in Russia's electricity output was expected to rise to 25% by 2030 from the current 17% under the country's energy strategy.
3. Russian State Returns Control Over Atomstroiexport Company
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The Tekhsnabexport Company, incorporated in the structure of the Russian Federal Agency for Nuclear Energy (Rosatom), signed a contract on acquiring a four-percent stock package of the Atomstroiexport Company from Gazprombank. Following the implementation of this contract, companies, incorporated in Rosatom and controlled by the state, will own controlling interest of Atomstroiexport (50.2 percent of authorized capital). The deal will be clinched in seven days.
Rosatom head Sergei Kirienko told pressmen on Tuesday that the market where Atomstroiexport operates, has become more active, Prime-Tass reports. For instance the US plans to build around 300 gigawatts of nuclear power generating facilities by 2050, and Russia is bound to fight for foreign markets.
Kirienko also expressed satisfaction that control over Atomstroiexport returned to the state. "I do not understand why the state lost control of this Russian company, building nuclear projects abroad. It should be returned under state control," Kirienko emphasized.
The Rosatom head noted that "all nuclear power stations in Russia should belong to the state and, consequently, the state should increase investments in their construction". Nevertheless, Kirienko did not preclude a chance that "private investors should be invited to build new nuclear power plants". He assured that "the state will increase its share in construction of nuclear stations in the near future".
1. Russian Director Says Amur Shipyard Building Nuclear-Propulsion Submarines for Navy
(for personal use only)
The Amur shipyard based in Komsomolsk-on-Amur is a vendor of nuclear-propulsion submarines of Project 971 for the Russian Navy, the plant's Director General Anatoly Adamenya told a Monday news conference at the Interfax main office in Moscow.
"The plant builds the subs not for leasing and neither for any third party, but only for the Russian Defense Ministry. We have no other objectives," Adamenya said when asked to comment on media reports that one or two of the shipyard's subs would be leased by the Indian Navy as soon as their are built.
According to him, the manufacturing process is organized in full compliance with the schedule.
The first of Project 971 (Shchuka-B or Akula in NATO classification) subs entered inventory back in 1984.
The submarine displaces 8,140/12,770 tonnes, and can dive to 600/520m. Its cruising speed is 35 knots, with endurance of 100 days and crew of 63.
The sub is armed with RK-33 Granat cruise missiles, featuring the effective range of 3,000km, as well as 533-mm torpedoes.
1. Extracts from Transcript of Meeting with the Cabinet
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FOREIGN MINISTER SERGEI LAVROV (in response to a question from President Vladimir Putin on talks in Moscow on the Iranian nuclear issue):
Today, in just a few hours time, an Iranian delegation headed by the Secretary of the Security Council will arrive to hold talks with our Security Council and our Foreign Ministry. We will try, during these talks, to break the current deadlock in the situation with the Iranian nuclear programme before the next meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors at the beginning of March. We will try to make progress on the basis of our proposals to establish a joint venture for producing fuel for Iran’s civilian nuclear programme on Russian territory. These were the proposals that you advanced and subsequently developed as an initiative to establish multilateral centres for nuclear fuel production that would be open to all interested countries. We will also try to make use of the argument of Iran’s right to the nuclear fuel cycle once the IAEA experts have cleared up all the questions that have arisen in the past regarding Iran’s nuclear programme.
To be honest, we are not overly optimistic in our expectations, but we will try to do all we can to prevent the situation from escalating and keep it on the road to peaceful resolution.
Good morning. This coming week, I will visit Wisconsin, Michigan, and Colorado, to discuss our strategy to ensure that America has affordable, reliable, and secure sources of energy. The best way to meet our growing energy needs is through advances in technology. So in my State of the Union Address, I announced the Advanced Energy Initiative. We will pursue promising technologies that will transform how we power our vehicles, businesses, and homes -- so we can reduce our Nation's dependence on foreign sources of energy.
This morning, I want to speak to you about one part of this initiative: our plans to expand the use of safe and clean nuclear power. Nuclear power generates large amounts of low-cost electricity without emitting air pollution or greenhouse gases. Yet nuclear power now produces only about 20 percent of America's electricity. It has the potential to play an even greater role. For example, over the past three decades, France has built 58 nuclear power plants and now gets more than 78 percent of its electricity from nuclear power. Yet here in America, we have not ordered a new nuclear power plant since the 1970s. So last summer I signed energy legislation that offered incentives to encourage the building of new nuclear plants in America. Our goal is to start the construction of new nuclear power plants by the end of this decade.
As America and other nations build more nuclear power plants, we must work together to address two challenges: We must dispose of nuclear waste safely, and we must keep nuclear technology and material out of the hands of terrorist networks and terrorist states.
To meet these challenges, my Administration has announced a bold new proposal called the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership. Under this partnership, America will work with nations that have advanced civilian nuclear energy programs, such as France, Japan, and Russia. Together, we will develop and deploy innovative, advanced reactors and new methods to recycle spent nuclear fuel. This will allow us to produce more energy, while dramatically reducing the amount of nuclear waste and eliminating the nuclear byproducts that unstable regimes or terrorists could use to make weapons.
As these technologies are developed, we will work with our partners to help developing countries meet their growing energy needs by providing them with small-scale reactors that will be secure and cost-effective. We will also ensure that these developing nations have a reliable nuclear fuel supply. In exchange, these countries would agree to use nuclear power only for civilian purposes and forego uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities that can be used to develop nuclear weapons. My new budget includes $250 million to launch this initiative. By working with other nations under the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, we can provide the cheap, safe, and clean energy that growing economies need, while reducing the risk of nuclear proliferation.
As we expand our use of nuclear power, we're also pursuing a broader strategy to meet our energy needs. We're investing in technologies like solar and wind power and clean coal to power our homes and businesses. We're also investing in new car technologies like plug-in hybrid cars and in alternative fuels for automobiles like ethanol and biodiesel.
Transforming our energy supply will demand creativity and determination, and America has these qualities in abundance. Our Nation will continue to lead the world in innovation and technology. And by building a global partnership to spread the benefits of nuclear power, we'll create a safer, cleaner, and more prosperous world for future generations.
3. GNEP - CLAY SELL, U.S. DEPUTY SECRETARY OF ENERGY; AND ROBERT JOSEPH, UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE FOR ARMS CONTROL AND INTERNATIONAL SECURITY
Federal News Service
(for personal use only)
MR. SELL: Thank you very much. It's a pleasure to be here with each of you today, and I look forward to being joined by Undersecretary Joseph.
To begin, I would like to give a short presentation. It is a modification -- or it is similar to the presentation that I gave to the United States press last week with the rollout of our budget.
The Global Nuclear Energy Partnership is a comprehensive strategy that the United States is proposing that will allow us to increase U.S. and global energy security, encourage clean development around the world while improving the environment, and reduce the risk of nuclear proliferation.
It's important to start with the challenge. And the challenge is a dramatic increase in global energy demand over the next 25 and 50 years. We project that global energy demand will increase by 50 percent in the next 25 years and will double in the next 50 years. We must find a way to meet this growing energy demand, to assist the emerging economies to develop, to insure against failed states. It's consistent with our president's democratization initiative. Energy is key to development, and we need to find a safe and environmentally appropriate way to meet that growing energy demand.
Clean coal will play a very significant role. Other technologies, renewable technologies will play a significant role, but nuclear power must and, we believe, will play a great role in meeting this increased energy demand. And in fact we're already seeing that around the world today. There are over 130 nuclear reactors under construction, planned or under consideration around the world today. The U.S. has not ordered a nuclear power plant in over 30 years. We have 103 nuclear power plants in this country. We have more than any other country. But we have not built one in about 30 years. And so we are anxious to get back into the nuclear generation business ourselves.
It is our goal from a U.S. public policy standpoint to be in a position to influence how the next generation of facilities will be designed from a safety, from a waste disposal and from a proliferation resistance viewpoint. So our goal is really to think about the next 25 and 50 years and how we can meet this dramatic expansion in nuclear power and what kind of technologies, what kinds of policies, what kinds of international regimes do we want to have in place so that we can meet the growing demand for electricity with nuclear power and do it in a way which enhances our nonproliferation concerns.
I will eventually learn how to use this clicker. The slide is consistent with our long-held national energy policy to advance nuclear power and to develop advanced recycling technologies. We've proposed an additional -- a new $250 million in the budget this year for the United States to begin work on developing the advanced technologies that I'll go into in greater detail in a moment.
I would like to spend just a moment to elaborate just a little bit more on the benefits, why we need such a dramatic expansion of nuclear power.
Here in the United States, we are serious about reducing our dependence on fossil fuels, particularly coal and natural gas, for electricity generation. We want to be able to meet this increasing energy demand in a way that does not significantly increase our carbon emission. We want to develop technologies that allow us to recycle spent fuel. In the United States, we do not recycle like other advanced nuclear states do. As a result, it makes the challenge of disposing of that waste a very significant challenge. And so we want to reduce the quantity, the radiotoxicity and the heat load of the waste that we ultimately have to dispose of.
And we also want to capture the energy value which is in spent fuel, and we also want to -- and if we are able to do that, we can optimize and make our geologic repository in the United States at Yucca Mountain much more efficient. If we keep our policy and we don't recycle in the United States, we will have to build nine Yucca Mountains over the course of the century, if we just keep Yucca Mountain at 20 percent of our -- if we just keep nuclear power at 20 percent of our electricity generation. If we recycle and can burn down those wastes in the way that we are proposing, we will be able to use -- that one Yucca Mountain will be able to last for the entirety of the century.
There are 17 elements of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, and I will quickly tick through each one of those. And then we'll open it up to questions.
The first element is to expand dramatically the use of nuclear power here in the United States. We think -- today we have a hundred nuclear reactors. Many of those are going to start phasing out in the coming decade. We think we really need to be -- from a public policy standpoint, we're shooting for 300 reactors in 2050. That's a significant increase. That's what we think would be appropriate to meet our energy needs, as well as to manage our greenhouse gas emissions. And that's going to require significant advances in technology.
Again, the goal is to minimize nuclear waste. I mentioned that earlier.
And the key effort in GNEP that allows us to do that is, we want to join in partnership with the other advanced nuclear states to develop advanced recycling technology.
Now let me just spend a moment on this. In the 1970s the United States had commercial reprocessing of spent fuel, based on an old technology that separates plutonium. Now President Carter made a decision to suspend commercial reprocessing in the United States because of the proliferation concerns about the separated plutonium.
But many other nations around the world -- France, the United Kingdom, Japan and Russia -- proceeded with those technologies, and they still have commercial reprocessing based on the PUREX technology.
It is our goal to develop the technology that allows us to recycle in a way that is proliferation resistant. And when I say "proliferation resistant," what I mean is pure plutonium is not separated as part of the recycling process. It is bound together with the other long-lived actinides, which makes the materials of a sufficient quantity and of a sufficient heat load that concerns about diversion as a proliferation matter are greatly reduced. So that is a key technology that we seek to develop in partnership with our international partners -- advanced recycling.
We want to take the stream of material that comes out of the advanced recycling process and burn that, burn the actinides down in something called an advanced burner reactor, which is a modification of a fast spectrum reactor, many of which have been built around the world.
For instance, there's quiet advanced and there's fast-reactor technology, as is Russia, as is Japan, and the United States has substantial experience with it. But if we can develop advanced recycling and then burn down the actinide strains in fast reactors, we get a tremendous amount of electricity generated in that process, we significantly reduce the volume of the waste that ultimately has to be disposed of, and it is of a much lower radio toxicity. And it really allows us to envision a future in the coming decade where we have the technology that can help us dispose of the over 200 metric tons of civil separated plutonium that have been produced and is stockpiled around the world today.
So there are really two significant -- or three significant nonproliferation benefits: the reduction of plutonium stockpiles, number one.
Number two, we would hope, as we develop these technologies, we can accelerate the phase-in of these technologies in other countries that have commercial recycling so that we have a recycling infrastructure that is much more proliferation resistant in the future than it is today.
And finally, we think that would help us to envision a future where we can bring the benefits of nuclear power to the developing world. And our interest is in providing nuclear power to the developing world, and if you have an ability to take spent fuel, recycle it, burn it down and dispose of it in fast reactors, you can really envision a future of fuel leasing, where advanced fuel cycle states with the full elements of the fuel cycle can lease fuel and then take it back for ultimate recycling and burn down in a fast reactor.
And on -- in this slide we've tried to demonstrate graphically how that might work with the fuel cycle state, enriching the fuel, leasing it to a user nation. The user nation can send it back to the fuel cycle state, where it would be recycled, burned down in fast reactors, and then, you have a much more benign waste product that has to be ultimately disposed of, either in the originating country or to be sent back possibly to a third ultimate disposition location elsewhere.
Another key aspect of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership is teaming together with a number of nations on advanced reactor technology, and a lot of the reactors that are on the market today are appropriate for -- they are of great scale, and they're appropriate for the most advanced electricity grids, where there are huge load demands. But we would like to develop, in partnership with other nations, advanced reactors that are passively safe, that could have a lifetime at the reactor cores, that are possibly meltdown proof, that can be built on a modular basis, can perhaps even be factory-built, shipped to a country and deployed.
There are tremendous opportunities with advanced reactor technology that we think are critical and that can be developed in a way that will allow us to safely bring the benefits of nuclear power to the developing world. And working in partnership with other nations in developing these technologies is a key part of our initiative.
The seventh and final aspect of the initiative is enhanced nuclear safeguards. As we develop our advanced recycling technologies, we will build in the most advanced proliferation resistance technologies and technologies to monitor and control diversions, and it also allows us to build in and monitor and promote best practices, as it relates to handling nuclear material worldwide.
The next steps here in the United States are we're going to continue to press forward on our efforts, which really began with the energy bill that the president signed last summer and expanding nuclear power. We hope to move out aggressively, starting with our budget of $250 million, and we hope that will be matched in a very significant way by other international partners in developing these advanced technologies and to really build a consensus on a global vision as to how we're going to take the benefits and bring the benefits of nuclear power to the developing world.
A few weeks ago Undersecretary Joseph and I made an initial round of consultations -- and I want to emphasize it was just an initial round of consultations -- in London, Paris, Moscow, Beijing and Tokyo. We also stopped to visit with Dr. ElBaradei at the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna. And we just talked about our interest in taking these ideas forward, and really we focused on the key objective: a world that needs a lot more nuclear power, a world that needs to develop recycling technologies that don't separate plutonium, a world that wants to -- that should facilitate fuel leasing concepts that will allow developing nations to enjoy the benefits of nuclear power and reduce the risk of the proliferation of the fuel cycle, and that we should work in partnership to do this. And on all those objectives, we found agreement with our potential partners, and we look forward to advancing our cooperation.
So in conclusion, we really hope to envision a world with much more nuclear power, with much greater nuclear energy security which comes from energy diversity, a world that advances significantly our development goals, a world with much less carbon and pollution intensity, a world with much less nuclear waste, and a world with less proliferation risk and less stocks of fissile material.
We're optimistic about what we can accomplish. The magnitude of what we are proposing is significant. We are really proposing ultimately to work in partnership with other nations to reorder the global nuclear enterprise. But we think with technology and with strong international participation, it is possible.
With that, I know we'll take questions, but I want to introduce and turn the mike over to Bob Joseph, undersecretary of State for Nonproliferation.
MR. JOSEPH: Good afternoon. I will be very brief. I think Secretary Sell has done an excellent job in outlining the principal elements of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership. I'll just explain why I'm here.
I'm here because, first of all, the international dimension is absolutely essential to the success of the partnership. Secretary Sell has talked about the partnership that we seek to establish in the area of research and development to build on the expertise and the experience and to share the resources in terms of the investment for paving the way to this new comprehensive vision for nuclear energy.
And second in terms of the international dimension, we want large buy-in by the international community in terms of sharing the benefits, the fruits of this initiative, because in that way it becomes truly a win-win for all of us -- in terms of energy security, in terms of our environmental objective and, of course, in terms of our non- and counterproliferation goals.
And that's the second reason I'm here, because the vision that has been laid out for you does, I think, go a far way in advancing for the future the type of world that we envision in terms of stopping the proliferation of nuclear weapons capabilities. It does so, of course, in a number of ways, first by ending the reprocessing that involves the separation of plutonium and the actual burning down of those plutonium stocks that have been accumulated. It does so by stopping the spread of very sensitive technologies associated with enrichment and reprocessing. It does this not by denying any state its rights under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, but rather by providing incentives, financial incentives as well as incentives dealing with the disposition of spent fuel.
The deputy secretary mentioned the vision that we could provide fuel assurances that will give assurance to the consuming countries, those that are consuming the fuel, that they will have that fuel in a reliable and cost-effective way. Feb 16, 2006 14:33 ET .EOF
The third nonproliferation benefit is that the concept does deal with spent fuel, which is one of the key problems that we've faced, both from an energy perspective and an environmental perspective and also from a proliferation perspective.
And finally, in terms of non and counterproliferation, as Secretary Sell said, we intend to build in to this future generation of capabilities -- whether it's the recycling or the advanced reactors or the small reactors -- the very latest, the most effective international safeguards that we can, and so it's essentially important that we work together with the IAEA. And in fact, one of the stops that we made when we did this initial set of consultations was with the IAEA, and we had a very encouraging discussion along these lines with Dr. ElBaradei.
Let me stop there, and we can take some questions.
MODERATOR: We'll go to the third row there.
Q Thank you. Omlert Zazak (ph) with Turkish business daily, Referans. There are rumors that Turkey is buying nuclear energy -- nuclear reactors from the United States. Can you confirm that?
And my second question is, certain lawmakers in Turkey are accusing the United States of selling low-technology, first-generation nuclear reactors to the country, and if I can get your comments on this.
MR. SELL: I cannot confirm the rumor, but I can tell you that Turkey is a classic example, in our judgment, of a nation that we would like to work in partnership with not to bring old technology, but to bring advanced technology and the benefits of nuclear power.
So I would anticipate this is something that leaders in Turkey would welcome, and it's something that I hope we could work with them on.
MODERATOR: Go here in the first row.
Q Thank you. Andrei Sitov, ITAR-TASS, from Russia. My understanding is that the coming G-8 summit in Saint Petersburg might be an ideal place to jumpstart the initiative, the partnership. So my question is, what steps do you intend to take in the next few months before the summit to make it happen, if any of this? And also, on a specifically Russian angle of this story, I understand both countries are working on the fourth generation nuclear reactors.
And the Russians have a number of times suggested that we pool our efforts in that direction. Why isn't it happening? And what's the position of the administration towards pooling that -- those efforts? Thank you.
MR. SELL: Why don't you take the last one first?
Q (Off mike.)
MR. JOSEPH: Yeah. Let me just say that with regard to the G-8, we of course did stop in Moscow. Moscow, of course, was quite receptive to a number of the ideas that we laid out.
Russia, of course, is the president of the G-8, and it's, I think, going to advance an energy agenda for the term of its presidency. And nuclear power, we believe, should be an important element of that. And I'm sure the Russian government shares that. But it's really up to the Russian government to lead the effort in the G-8.
In terms of cooperation with Russia, Russia does of course have a great deal of experience and expertise in a number of the areas, particularly in advanced reactors. And we look forward to the day in which we can have more cooperation with Russia.
Q (Off mike.)
MR. JOSEPH: Well, nothing specific. We're in the exploratory phase at this time regarding the Global Energy Partnership.
MR. SELL: Yeah. And let me just add we've had initial consultation. We have -- we -- a technical team will soon follow and go to Moscow and talk about the relative capabilities each of our countries could bring to the table as it relates to advanced technology.
We certainly -- there are issues that need to be resolved as to the level of cooperation. But we -- the Energy Department would anticipate a day when our interests will come together on that and that we can cooperate more fully in developing these advanced technologies.
Q What about the GIF? The GIF -- (off mike). What about the GIF?
MR. SELL: Well, fourth-generation technology -- the Generation IV Initiative, the GIF, is an existing, ongoing effort to develop a series of fourth-generation technologies: fast reactors, high- temperature gas reactors, reactors optimized for hydrogen production and other things.
The fast reactors that we contemplate using as an advanced burner reactor are -- that is a fourth-generation reactor. And we would contemplate dramatically accelerating our work within the context of Generation IV and outside the context of Generation IV as an addition to Generation IV in developing these technologies.
MODERATOR: We have another question on Russia. (Pause.) Yeah. Go ahead. And we'll move on.
Q Thank you. It's on a related subject, Secretary Joseph. Sir, I believe tomorrow you are meeting with your Russian counterpart, Sergei Kislyak, either in Vienna or Brussels. Will GNEP part of the agenda, what other issues do you intend to discuss, and what do you intend to achieve as a result of this meeting? Thank you.
MR. JOSEPH: This issue very well may come up in the context of the broad agenda that I have with my Russian counterpart. We do periodically meet and consult on a wide range of issues for which we are mutually responsible in our own government. I wouldn't want to get into any of the specifics at this time.
Q Thank you. My name is Huada (sp). I am Japan's Mainichi newspaper. I have some questions regarding the international consortium you are going to formulate for the development of technology for proliferation-resistant fuel and recycling. What kind of time frame you are thinking for the formation of this consortium? And also, could you also elaborate on the definitions of, for example, "nuclear supplier nations" and also the conditions you are thinking for providing this fuel to developing nations that forego enrichment and recycling? Thank you.
MR. JOSEPH: On matters of time line, that is a topic that we are discussing with our partners. The technologies that we are talking about, particularly the advanced recycling technology, have only been proven at a laboratory scale. And so, it will be important in the coming years, hopefully within the next five years, to demonstrate those technologies at an engineering scale.
And we will work in partnership with other nations as to developing the appropriate place, the location, and exactly how that effort will be carried out.
And we would also hope that -- and expect that we could develop on a pilot scale an advanced burner reactor within the next 10 years. The key challenge on -- the burner reactor technology is fairly well understood. The key challenge is qualifying the fuel, the actinide- based fuel that comes out of the recycling stream, and that's going to require a significant amount of work, a significant amount of R&D. And that's something that we will hope to work in partnership with.
So, kind of five years on advanced recycling, and 10 years as a goal on the advanced burner reactor to develop those technologies.
MODERATOR: Go to India in the back.
Q I'm Chidu Rajghatta from The Times of India. How does the GNEP fit in with the bilateral nuclear deal which the administration is trying to arrive at with India?
And also, the president goes to India in less than a fortnight and the proposed deal is nowhere in sight. Is the safeguards issue over fast reactors a deal-breaker? And if it is, how does one get around it?
MR. SELL: We would anticipate -- you know, last year the president and Prime Minister Singh jointly agreed to move out on nuclear cooperation, provided India met a number of nonproliferation commitments. And we would anticipate that once India has met its nonproliferation commitments, that in addition to expanded civil nuclear cooperation, which was originally talked about, we would also look forward to expanding our cooperation and our partnership with India on the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership.
Q And the first question, the fast breeder reactor and the deadlock over that, is that a deal-breaker, and how do you get around that?
MR. JOSEPH: Well, I wouldn't want to get into any of the specifics, and certainly I wouldn't want to describe any of this particular issues as "deal-breakers." We are working very closely with our Indian colleagues to try to achieve the goals that were set in July by the president and the prime minister. A key element, of course, of that is the separation of the civilian and military facilities, and that is an issue that we're working very hard because both of our countries will benefit from success.
MODERATOR: Let's go to the middle. Wait for the mike, please.
Q My name is Dubasa (ph) from the SADC in South Africa.
I was wondering if in this very impressive plan of yours, particular of building a global partnership with other nations to develop this energy -- you talk about enlisting partners to limit the spread of sensitive nuclear -- I was wondering if this is not the best opportunity of enlisting partners, such as Iran, for instance. Wouldn't you doubt if they can use this energy for -- I mean, this nuclear for energy purposes? I was wondering if you can enlist countries like that, and Zimbabwe, which has also made the point that it needs to use this nuclear energy -- I mean, nuclear power for energy.
MR. JOSEPH: It's a very good question.
I think that as you look at the timelines associated with this very comprehensive concept that's been laid out for you, you will see that part of it, in terms of the nonproliferation benefit, is intended to prevent future Irans, future contingencies. There's circumstances in which a country may seek to acquire the sensitive technologies associated with enrichment and reprocessing, but really for purposes other than nuclear energy. That would be dealt within the context of this comprehensive concept.
But Iran is a problem for today, and certain elements of the concept apply. We are working very hard, for example, to develop a set of assurances associated with the supply of fuel so that countries even today do not need to invest in these very expensive and sensitive technologies.
MODERATOR: Let's go to Italy.
Q Giampiero Gramagila, Italian News Agency, ANSA.
As you know, there are in Europe countries, as Italy, for instance, which has voted with the referendum against any new nuclear energy initiative. How do you deal with these countries, and how those countries could impact the success of your initiative?
MR. SELL: Well, our initiative is grounded in a few principles.
One of them is that the partnership is voluntary. Secondly, it is based on -- or in the future would be based on commercial relationships and commercial incentives. And so to the extent countries are interested in bringing the benefits of advanced nuclear power to their economies to help their economies grow, we hope to develop the technologies and the regimes that will allow them to do that in a way which serves the global nonproliferation interests. And if countries are not interested in doing that, then they will pursue their own sovereign choices.
Q Umit Enginsoy, NTV, Turkey. I have a follow-up on Turkey. Secretary Sell, what kind of cooperation are you proposing for Turkey regarding Turkey's newly announced nuclear program? And Secretary Joseph, your ambassador to IAEA, George Schulte, is presently in Turkey for Iran talks. What's your message? What's happening there?
MR. SELL: Well, in the near term, the immediate opportunity for Turkey is to -- or would conceivably be to acquire the latest technologies, what is referred to in the trade as the Generation III- 1/2 light-water reactor technology for deployment in their electricity grid. The president has made previous proposals that would help assure the fuel supply. GNEP, once it's fully developed and realized, would assist in our ability to assure an adequate fuel supply to countries acquiring nuclear technology and deploying nuclear reactors in their country.
There are also possibilities for countries that do not currently have the fuel cycle but who are interested in joining together in partnership to develop advanced-generation reactors to participate in the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership. That would be our hope and our expectation.
MR. JOSEPH: Ambassador Schulte is a very articulate spokesperson and is making a number of appearances in the context of our public diplomacy with regard to proliferation challenges more broadly, but specifically with regard to the challenge that Iran presents.
He's playing a critical role in the IAEA context and in building international support, wide international support, for taking those actions that are necessary to get Iran to change course and to resuspend its enrichment-related activities
MODERATOR: I believe we have a question from New York. If you would go ahead, New York.
Q Hi. My name is David Barou (sp) from the French newspaper Les Echos. France, the U.K. and Japan have invested heavily already in other recycling technology. Would that make it -- what -- how compatible would that be, then, for them to join your initiative? They would have reinvest, or can they use some other investment that they have already had in the past?
MR. SELL: We do not seek and it is not the goal of the initiative to render investments that other countries have made, and where they are operating those investments in a way that is safeguarded and secure, it is not our interest to render those investments on economic -- but there is broad agreement in each of the countries that we mentioned -- that you mentioned and that we visited that we should join together in developing the next generation of recycling technologies that do not result in separated plutonium.
MODERATOR: Go to Venezuela here.
Q Thank you. Sonia Schott with Radio Valera, Venezuela. Yesterday in Caracas the president of the legislative body said -- offers his help to Venezuela -- from Iran to Venezuela in developing nuclear energy. I just want to know if you have some comments on that. Thank you.
MR. SELL: I'm not aware of the offer, and I don't have a comment on it.
MR. JOSEPH: I would just say that the vote at the IAEA board of governors meeting earlier this month speaks for itself, with 27 nations voting to report Iran to the Security Council and three nations voting against that, with five abstentions.
MODERATOR: Can we go to the second row here? Yes, yes.
Q Thank you. Akemi Yoshimoto from Kyodo News. My question is about the Japanese contribution. What kind of contribution do you expect or at least hope from Japan, number one, technically, and number two, financially?
MR. SELL: Expansive on both counts. (Laughter.) Look, Japan has great capability in recycling technologies. They're about to open or they will soon open the world's newest commercial reprocessing facility. We think there are potential opportunities there to test and demonstrate new technologies. And they have at least two, I believe, operating fast spectrum reactors that could prove useful as a test bed in the near term. So we think there are many great opportunities for participation, and this is -- the commitment is one not just -- it's not just an agreement on the objectives, but it is a commitment of each of our nation's talents and each of our nation's resources to develop these technologies as quickly as reasonably possible.
MODERATOR: I think we have time for one more.
Q Thank you. Eric Weiner, Tokyo Broadcasting System. Could you talk a little bit about the initial consultations? How did they go, and what was -- were the Japanese responsive to your ideas and requests?
MR. SELL: The -- I'll leave it to others to characterize, but I did characterize it earlier. There was -- I found broad agreement on the goals and objectives that we laid out in each of the capitals that we visited.
MODERATOR: We have -- yes, ma'am.
Q During your -- sorry -- FENIX (ph) Television of Hong Kong. During your consultation with the Chinese, I assume your counterparts asked how can China benefit from this initiative since China already has the technology and capability to build and run nuclear power plants. I would assume they would focus more on the obligation this initiative would bring to them. For example, would this initiative require China to change its current conduct of its nuclear power plants or to require China to make public of its -- some of its nuclear activities it otherwise wouldn't do?
MR. JOSEPH: Well, China, of course, has the intention of expanding significantly its generation of nuclear power, and this concept deals with the future and the establishment of a new nuclear enterprise. It would not require, as the deputy secretary said, any country to do anything. These are sovereign choices that countries make.
But I think that our reception in Beijing, like our reception in other capitals, was quite positive, because I think there are many elements, if not all elements, of division that we laid out that are shared in each of those capitals.
4. HEARING OF THE SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE - DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY DEFENSE ACTIVITIES BUDGET
Federal News Service
(for personal use only)
SEN. JOHN WARNER (R-VA): Good morning Mr. Secretary. We understand that you have a commitment with the President down at the Whitehouse. So we're going to make it possible for you to make those commitments and I will ask unanimous consent of myself to include my statement in the record as stated in full.
But we're pleased to see you this morning and I do recollect the last time you were here a year ago thereabouts, you'd been in the office two weeks. So this morning we expect you to be fully up-to- speed.
SEC. BODMAN: I was here a year ago, sir and I think your recollection is accurate. Two weeks is about right and I hope you'll find me up-to-speed, sir.
SEN. WARNER: Alright, I'll cover some of the points in my opening statement in the course of questioning. Senator Levin.
SEN. CARL LEVIN (D-MI): Mr. Chairman, I'll also reserve most of my points for questions as well, put my statement in the record if you would. And just want to also welcome Secretary Bodman. I do wish, however, that you would Secretary, in your opening comments address at least a couple of issues.
One is the recommendations that were made some months ago, I think eight months ago by the Department of Energy Advisory Board who did a comprehensive study conducted at the request of Congress to make recommendations to improve and consolidate the nuclear weapons complex. If you could comment on the status of those recommendations.
And also if you would address the issue of the Department of Energy Advisory Board which has now been disbanded apparently by you, and abolished.
Something similar happened to an advisory board at the National Nuclear Security Administration a few years back. So we have this trend which is troubling where we've got these controversial and technically complex issues without these outside balanced advisory boards now. In both cases involving the Department of Energy.
So if you could address that in your opening statement and then I'll save the rest to my opening statement comments and weave those into my questions. Thank you.
SEN. WARNER: Senator Sessions, do you have a comment or two you would like to make; and then Sen. Reid.
SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R-AL): -- (Off mike) -- opening statement but if you would prefer, I'll just hold that off as you have.
I'm concerned about where we are and some of these matters are - - good portion of this budgetary item before our sub-committee - strategic sub-committee.
SEN. WARNER: And I thank you very much. And Senator Reed, you likewise will forego any opening remarks?
SEN. REED, D-RI: Yes.
SEN. WARNER: Mr. Secretary please commence. We have a vote; I think it is at 10:30. Is that correct?
SEN. LEVIN: Yes.
SEN. WARNER: Thank you.
SEC. SAMUEL BODMAN: Thank you Mr. Chairman, Senator Levin. I'm very pleased to be here this morning to talk to you about the Administration's priorities for nuclear weapons; threat reduction programs; and DOE's environmental clean-up program.
All this is spelled-out in detail in my written testimony. I want to take just a couple of -
SEN. WARNER: We will put the entire statement onto the record.
SEC. BODMAN: Sure, I appreciate it. I want to just take a couple of minutes to share some of the highlights.
First our budget request supports NNSA's three fundamental national security missions.
These are first to assure the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile while at the same time transforming that stockpile and the infrastructure that supports it.
Secondly to reduce the threat posed by nuclear proliferation.
And third, to provide reliable and safe nuclear reactor propulsion systems for the United States navy.
To pursue these missions, the budget proposes a total of $9.3 billion in fiscal year 2007. This supports the requirements of the Stockpile Stewardship Program consistent with the Administration's nuclear posture review and the revised stockpile plan submitted to Congress in June of '04.
Approximately $1.4 billion in fiscal '07 is requested for the directed stockpile work. To guard the integrity of our facilities; information systems; and infrastructure the budget also requests $665 million to fund the requirements of the design basis threat.
And to support the Department's efforts to contain and roll-back the proliferation of dangerous materials as well technology and know- how, the budget proposes $1.7 billion for nuclear non-proliferation and threat-reduction programs.
In addition to funding the national security missions of the NNSA, out budget seeks to fulfill our environmental commitments with the request of $5.8 billion to clean-up Legacy Waste sites that were involved in the development of nuclear chemistry and physics.
We recently announced the completion of clean-up at Rocky Plats in Colorado. It's a former nuclear weapons plant located at the site just outside of Denver.
In fiscal '06, DOE will also complete the environmental clean-up of the Fernald and Columbus sites in Ohio; the Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico; and several smaller sites as well.
There is a lot more, Mr. Chairman, that I could go into but I'm sure we will get into the details that are of interest to the senators.
Before I close I would like to mention a couple of things about the balance of the Energy Department's program.
In the President's State of the Union Address, he announced two initiatives: the American competitiveness initiative; and the advanced energy initiative; which aim to ensure that America remains at the forefront of an increasingly competitive world by pursuing transformational new technologies.
And by increasing investment in clean energy sources that will transform our transportation sector. In fact, they should have an impact on our whole society.
As a part of the advanced energy initiative, our budget request includes $250 million to begin investments in the global nuclear energy partnership which may be of interest to this committee. This is a ground-breaking new international effort to expand safe emissions- free nuclear power while enhancing our ability to keep nuclear technology and material out of the hands of those who would seek to use it for non-peaceful purposes.
If I may sir before concluding, address Senator's Levin's questions.
The SEAB report to improve the nuclear weapons complex is something that we take very seriously. That's the so-called Overskei Report, I believe that you're referring to sir, named after the Chairman or at least, that's what we've come to call it.
The NNSA is working on a very comprehensive response to it. Many of the things recommended in there are efforts that are already ongoing. For example, the new type of warhead that we are trying to design that will replace or the so-called reliable replacement warhead is one of those items.
There are other issues where we will see very large expenses in terms of trying to consolidate all of our highly enriched uranium and other special nuclear materials in one site. So that I think will be a problem. We will have a complete report and a comprehensive report for you, I would think within the next couple of months.
Secondly, the SEAB -- the decision regarding SEAB, that's more a reflection of me frankly. I tend to operate with fewer specific advisors and more people who are there on the payroll doing the work.
I have talked to the Chairman of SEAB and I have explained to him that I don't have a regular series of things that I would like them to do but that I feel quite confident that the Chairman, the Vice- Chairman and other members of the committee will be very happy to be responsive if we have specific matters that we need to take up; and we can simply reform them.
I just didn't want to feel, frankly the pressure I was feeling to identify areas to put them work. It's a very diverse group and something that I felt was in the best interests of the Department. So that's the decision that I made.
Mr. Chairman I'd be happy to take -
SEN. WARNER: Thank you Mr. Chairman. Thank you Mr. Secretary. We'll proceed with a six-minute round for all members present and I'm going to yield my position to the Chairman of the Strategic Sub- Committee. Senator Sessions.
SEN. SESSIONS: Thank you, you're very gracious. Mr. Secretary, I've got great admiration for you and I've enjoyed our talking with you; and I know you've had now a year under your belt and beginning to grasp some of the magnitude of the programs that we're dealing with.
You also are charged with a lot of leadership responsibilities in reducing our addiction to foreign oil, to use the President's word, and I appreciate that.
But I serve as Chairman of the Strategic Forces Sub-Committee which amazingly has jurisdiction over 60 percent of the entire Department of Energy budget. This Full Armed Services Committee has jurisdiction over 66 percent of DOE budget.
Now I've started to take a very serious look at the DOE programs authorized by the Committee. The largest of these programs clearly are the weapons activities and the environmental management program.
In the Strategic Forces Sub-Committee, this year Sen. Nelson, my Ranking Member and I, will be holding a hearing on March, 7th where we will hear very detailed testimony from two DOE program officials about the fiscal year 2007 budget in these areas: weapons activities, environmental management.
Today, rather than address those details, I'd like to describe in broad terms my concerns about these programs and the DOE budget overall.
In my view, the amount of funding provided by Congress for DOE "atomic energy defense activities", that's what the budget account is called is very large.
Last year Congress provided $16.2 billion for DOE defense activities. For fiscal year 2007, DOE has requested $15.8 billion. That is a small reduction. The $16 billion per year this Committee authorizes for the Department of Energy and though, represents a very large investment.
I've asked my staff to find the total budget for the last twenty years that has been spent on DOE atomic energy defense activities. The number is approximate but roughly $230 billion.
We're in a situation Mr. Secretary, where we have not added new warheads to the nuclear stockpile in over a decade. We're not producing new warheads. We do not have the capability to manufacture many of the essential components of warheads such as plutonium pits.
We have a decaying production complex much of which has already been closed down, the rest of which is so old and contaminated that workers have to wear any contamination suits to go in them for routine matters.
We have treaties which require us to dismantle warheads at a faster and faster rate, yet we don't have enough space in facilities that we have left to do the work or to store the dismantled parts, nuclear and non-nuclear.
We have national laboratories that do a lot of gee-whiz science but I'm not convinced that science is all related to national security defense issues but it is paid for out of Defense accounts.
We have an environmental management program that doesn't seem to be managing very well, frankly.
We have projects such as the waste treatment project at Hanford. In the years when this project was running up a cost overrun of approximately $5 billion to $6 billion. That's the overrun. Now this project had essentially zero oversight from DOE headquarters personnel, of course, before your tenure. In fact, DOE personnel apparently routinely accepted weekly status reports from the contractor claiming the contract was perfectly on target for both cost and schedule, something we now know to be untrue.
DOE environmental clean-up budgets and commitments appear to be driving the most -- driven oftentimes by the most vocal outside groups. They seem to be setting out standards and directing the investment. And by compliance agreements, many of which were made years ago, it may have seemed like a good idea at the time but technology and reality tend to intervene over the years.
It has not been, in my opinion, based on capital analysis of real environmental situations, which ones pose the greatest risk, and how much clean-up could be done at each site in what priority.
So Mr. Secretary, I think your challenge - now there's a lot of billion Dollars there, if we could save just a billion or so a year, that would be real helpful.
My question is exactly: are the American people getting their money's worth from these programs? Is it time for Congress to call for a review of the entire Department of Energy expenditure program for both efficiency and value to the government?
SEC. BODMAN: Well the Senator has just accurately described the challenges that I confronted when I arrived, as the Chairman said, one year ago.
I wouldn't say sir that I agree with every one of your specific comments but your general comments, I think, are well you know, well taken.
This department has not been known for its managerial expertise in my view. There were certainly lapses. The most noted of which you've already mentioned, namely the vitrification plant at Hanford where it was clear that there were problems with respect to the contractor; and the kind of reporting that the contractor was doing.
There were problems with respect to the Department and the way the Department was overseeing and providing guidance to the contractor.
And to answer your question directly, if I look backward and ask: are the American taxpayers - were the American taxpayers getting their money's worth in some of these programs? I would say no sir, the American taxpayer was not.
My job, as I see it, is to rectify that situation and I'm in the midst of attempting to do that.
And I have shutdown the activities with respect to the two most important parts of the vitrification plant at Hanford.
We have had a complete review done. I have met three times with the Chief Executive of the contractor. We now have quarterly personal face-to-face meetings scheduled. The next one will be in April.
I am very satisfied with the changes that we have made in the leadership of the environmental management activities at the Department, who take a much more hands-on attitude apparently. I don't know what went on before, I can't comment on that but apparently a much more hands-on attitude.
I do believe we have the -- one had to make a judgment. Do you retain the contractor or do you try to find a new one. I have made the judgment that we should retain the contractor, at least that that's my preliminary judgment pending on their response. They seem to be responding very well.
And so I feel that we are well on our way to improving the situation. We have an estimate to complete this. This is - you were quite right that it's $5 billion to $6 billion more. It was $5 billion plus before, it's $10.9 billion today as an estimate, to complete. And I will tell you that I think there are reasons - specific reasons to believe that it may be higher than that.
This is a very significant source of environmental problem that's been inflicted on the environment in Hanford in and around the river there; and I mean to fix it. That's been the job, I believe, that I've been given by the President and by this -- the Senate Committee who confirm me.
And I am comfortable that we are making progress. I am not comfortable that we are at this point in time on top of everything
SEN. SESSIONS: Thank you and I appreciate you bringing to bare all your vast managerial skills to bring these matters under control; and we'll be continuing to follow-up in our sub-committee.
SEC. BODMAN: I'm sure you will sir.
SEN. WARNER: Thank you very much Senator. Senator Levin.
SEN. LEVIN: Thank you Mr. Chairman. Welcome again Secretary Bodman. Five years ago Howard Baker and Lloyd Cutler, serving as co- chairs of the Energy Advisory Board task force on Russia, issued a report on the Department of Energy's non-proliferation programs with Russia.
One of the key findings in that report was that "the most urgent unmet national security threat to the United States today is the danger that weapons of mass destruction or weapons usable material in Russia could be stolen and sold to terrorists or hostile nation states; and used against American troops abroad or citizens at home".
Now we're five years later. They had recommended that we spend $3 billion each year to secure the Russian weapons-grade materials.
We're not spending anywhere near that. The DOE has increased its spending and broadened the scope of non-proliferation programs in the last five years but not relative to that most significant challenge which is the Russian nuclear material challenge.
I'm wondering if you could give us a brief - give us your brief view on the state of play of our program with Russia, why we have not carried out. Is it just a financial limitation, why we've not carried out the Baker-Cutler recommendation?
And also, what has the G8 done to support its commitment to provide $10 billion over ten years to address non-proliferation issues?
SEC. BODMAN: I'm not familiar specifically with the report to which you refer. I am of course familiar with our efforts with respect to Russia.
We have a number of programs and are doing everything that I could imagine that we should be doing to ameliorate the situation. I do not believe that we have any major problems with respect to amount of funding that has been made available. By and large this Congress has been quite responsive to requests.
We do have a program that calls for the return of nuclear materials that have been shipped out of Russia to other countries and are now located in laboratories all over the world, to return those materials and replace them with low enriched uranium at the sites that are referred to.
We have a similar program in the United States. And the idea is that we have sought to work with the Russians in parallel. The Russians, of course, are a sovereign nation and we do not dictate to them what they do and what they don't do. We have, how -
SEN. LEVIN: Are we spending all the money that we really need to be spending to address that challenge with nuclear material?
SEC. BODMAN: I - you know, would I do it faster if I had the power to spend money? I probably would but I'm not dealing with a country that I control. I'm dealing with a country that Mr. Putin has responsibility for.
SEN. LEVIN: But is that where the limits come from or is it financial resource limits here at home?
SEC. BODMAN: I think it's much more sir, in the responsiveness and the receptivity in Russia. They have been responsive and they are -- you know, I don't want to say that they have not, they have been but it is measured and it takes time.
The Russian bureaucracy sir, even despite Senator Session's comments about how poorly we have operated and I don't dispute his comments, the Russian bureaucracy makes us look pretty speedy. And so there are issues with respect to getting decisions made there but I feel that we are doing everything that I can see -- these are the professional non-proliferation people -
I have intervened to come to know Mr. Kirienko who is the new head of Rosatom, Mr. Putin's newly-designated person to manage their nuclear affairs. I'll be meeting him personally next month but I have spoken with him on the phone; we'll talk to him, hopefully tomorrow, that's also scheduled.
And so I think we're making progress but we have, for example, we've had the so-called MOX program which I know Senator Lindsay is very interested in. This is the use of plutonium in Russia and the creation of a metal oxide fuel that can be used in commercial reactors both in the US and in Russia.
We have had two years delay on that while we have argued over the terms of liability and we finally have resolved that matter last summer. We've then negotiated final terms and it is still working its way through as of now as I sit before you, Senator Levin, I do not have a signed piece of paper that says the Russians have signed-off on this but I'm hopeful. Our interlocutors on the other side indicate that everything is fine and that this is how long it takes to get things done.
SEN. LEVIN: Thank you Mr. Secretary. You've made reference to the global threat reduction initiative which is a series of programs that secure US-origin highly enriched uranium fuel at research reactors around the world; take back the spent fuel; and then tried to convert that fuel into a low enriched uranium.
SEC. BODMAN: Yes, that's -- excuse Senator, that's both Russian and US reactors. So it's both.
SEN. LEVIN: Right and that's an excellent program but the funding for that program is restricted quite severely is my understanding, is about $100 million in your request.
And my question is this: is that program hindered by a lack of money specifically? Are there countries with research reactors that use US-origin highly enriched uranium fuel that want to return that fuel; and close down and convert their reactors to low enriched uranium fuel but can't do so because of lack of funds in that program?
SEC. BODMAN: I do not know.
SEN. LEVIN: Okay, you let us know then -
SEC. BODMAN: I'll be happy to get you an answer to that specific question sir.
SEN. LEVIN: Thank you. Senator Collins and I proposed in the Energy Bill passed by Congress last August, a provision which was adopted to develop procedures for acquiring oil through the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, in order to minimize the cost to the taxpayers of filling that reserve and to minimize the effect on oil prices.
Has the DOE implemented that provision?
SEC. BODMAN: I do not know the answer to that either.
SEN. LEVIN: Alright, my time is up and I will -
SEC. BODMAN: Be happy to get you that answer.
SEN. LEVIN: Thank you. I appreciate that, for the record.
SEN. WARNER: Mr. Secretary I would observe that the committee appreciates your acknowledgement of what you know and what you don't know. Were all in that boat. Sometimes some of us maybe lack the courage to admit it but I appreciate you are going to look into it. And I want to follow-up on-
SEN. LEVIN: Can I just comment on that-
SEN. WARNER: Yes, Senator Levin.
SEN. LEVIN: Because I agree with your by the way, Mr. Chairman. The Secretary of Defense sometimes tells you don't know what you don't know. You do know what you don't know and we appreciate that.
SEN. WARNER: No, but I think it's refreshing. It's refreshing. But I want to return to Senator Levin's first question about the Howard Baker report. There's really -- that's got to be a priority that I urge you to put at the very, very top because in this exceedingly troubled world and the desire for countries to access some knowledge and indeed the materials to foster their own goals, to join the nuclear club or have possession of dirty bombs and the like, we've really got to put a lot of emphasis on that.
I'm going to ask you to go back and look at that Howard Baker report; study it; and provide for the record your own assessment of the validity of the goals as they are compared to the facts facing us today. Maybe some of those goals should be changed. What the Department did in compliance thus far with the recommendations; and what in your judgment remains to be done to fulfill the objectives of that report?
I remember it quite well and it was an exceedingly valuable contribution at that time when the level of concern was greater. But I personally, speaking for myself, and I think my colleague and others, we think it's a high priority.
SEC. BODMAN: Sir I didn't want to suggest that this matter is not a high priority.
SEN. WARNER: Alright.
SEC. BODMAN: It is a very high priority in the Department. Has been -- it seems to me that the greatest threat to our country is the potential for proliferation of nuclear materials.
SEN. WAGNER: Absolutely right.
SEC. BODMAN: And I assure you I behave and we allocate our time and effort in that direction.
SEN. WARNER: Your point is well taken.
SEC. BODMAN: Well I have not read that specific report and I will be happy to do that and respond to your request sir.
SEN. WARNER: For the record-
SEC. BODMAN: Yes sir.
SEN. WAGNER: That we're making this morning.
SEC. BODMAN: Happy to do it.
SEN. WARNER: Now the Stockpile Stewardship Program again is a subject that's of intense interest to this committee because it is our means to monitor the safety, the validity and the potential that these weapons still retain for fulfilling those strategic objectives that we have established.
An awful lot of money is being put into that program. My understanding is it's $6 billion in the budget before you today.
Give us your assessment of the status of that program. Do you feel that it is fully operational today? If not, when do you hope to have it be fully operational?
And as our stockpile continues to age as noted by my colleague from Alabama that we're not acquiring new weapons. What recommendations do you have for the future?
SEC. BODMAN: First I believe sir that the Stockpile Stewardship Program is satisfactorily managed today. This is a matter that I have spent a lot of my personal time investigating; and I've also had Dr. Orbach who was the head of the Department of Energy's Science Office, who will manage the increase in scientific research that I mentioned -- that I alluded to in my preliminary remarks.
Ray is a PAT physicist, former Chancellor of the University of California at River Site. A great physics professor.
He too as an outsider looked at the Stewardship Program and has been involved with me side-by-side in looking at things like the National Ignition Program out at Lawrence Livermore where the commitment there -- or the intention there is to, in a laboratory create an environment that comes very close to simulating the innermost workings of a nuclear weapon at ignition.
The Stewardship Program has led this Department to develop -- to create and then develop some of the most remarkable science that I have ever seen.
I am trained in this field, as perhaps you know. I'm a little out of date I would hasten to add but I do have training in engineering and in chemistry and in physics; and the work that has been is quite exceptional.
I have looked in detail at whether we should come as a part of this budget to fund the new ignition facility -- to continue funding that. I've concluded that we should do that.
There's a very elaborate process that goes on at the three weapons laboratories where each laboratory, they divide up the weapons among them and then they look very hard at issues that might be created by the aging of these materials.
These are materials, forgive my lecturing you, but the materials which by their definition since they're radioactive, they change with time by definition. And therefore understanding the metallurgy and the details of that is very important.
They do that. They do it very well. I have sat with them and probably spent six or eight hours with all of the directors of those laboratories in preparation for a receipt from them of letters which are scheduled to arrive within a month from them, certifying the efficacy of the stockpile. I am then required to co-sign -
SEN. WARNER: I'm full aware of all that. So in other words your assessment is that program is fully up and running as designed.
SEC. BODMAN: Yes sir.
SEN. WARNER: And that effectively is giving you the data on which you Secretary can make the reports as required by the Congress' existing law to the President and to the nation regarding the safety of these weapons; and the viabilities of these weapons to fulfill our strategic posture.
SEC. BODMAN: Yes sir.
SEC. WARNER: Alright, I thank you very much.
Let's talk about the reliable replacement warhead. You're doing a study on that. You will analyze the technical approach to warhead design and maintenance which cold potentially, I underline potentially, eliminate many of the most costly and hazardous materials that are used in the current nuclear stockpile.
What role do you believe such a reliable replacement warhead might play in shaping the nuclear stockpile in the future? How could it compliment the Stockpile Stewardship Program?
SEC. BODMAN: I think sir that the reliable replacement warhead, ROW, is crucial to the Stewardship Program. Inherent in what I said before related to the efficacy or viability of the stockpile, the materials in there change with time.
They were designed at a time when no one expected a cessation of testing. And therefore they were not designed to be devices that would have a lot of tolerance and flexibility. They were designed such that they would be put into place and that they would work which they did. They were tested, it wasn't a problem.
Here we have a situation where we are not allowed, as you are well aware, to test the devices. Therefore having a design that essentially replicates the same military -- would replicate the same military effect of the weapon on the one hand, yet create a device that would be much more easily certified by future Secretaries of Energy and Defense is the goal.
There is a competition now related to a single weapon. I think it's the B76 where Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos are developing competing approaches to the design of a reliable replacement warhead, a strategy if you will. And that will be pulled together, a judgment will be made and I'm sure will be made known to your committee as to what the recommendations are. But that's ongoing and we'll be forthcoming this Summer.
SEN. WARNER: Well now, in you discourse with allies namely, France and Great Britain; and given that these programs are designed primarily for the safety of the storage of these weapons; and the safety of the people that must handle them; and the communities in which proximity of these weapons are stored, is there any exchange of information? Is there any commonality, you know, if there was a misfortune of a weapon to be somehow accidentally -- in other nation, if it would impact our own -- sets us back here in the United States very heavily. Is there any exchange of-
SEC. BODMAN: There is. Yes, there is. There's definitely exchange. There is, if you will, there's kind of a community of people who-
SEN. WARNER: Alright, that's what I wanted to know.
SEC. BODMAN: Who exist around the world. I can't -- I have met members of the British community who have come through. I'm certainly engaged with members of the Russian community who are engaged in these matters. I have not personally met with the French but I do believe that there is a good exchange of information.
It is not to say that there is a commonality. These devices were developed in different times with different assumptions but if you will the nuclear culture that must exist in terms of the safety and the reliability of these devices, I think that is something that we believe exists in common. And there certainly is -- there are conversations and meetings that go on with professionals who deal with these matters.
SEN. WARNER: Alright, that's reassuring. Senator Clinton.
SEN. CLINTON, D-NY: Thank you Mr. Chairman. Welcome Secretary Bodman and thank you for the partnership and work that you've done with my office on a number of issues that of importance to New York.
I want to focus on the nuclear waste reprocessing proposal that is in your budget and that you mentioned at the end of your testimony. The Global Nuclear Energy Partnership or is it GNEP, is that what we're calling it, the acronym?
SEC. BODMAN: That's correct GNEP. That's our term of art.
SEN. CLINTON: Okay. Now this, as you know, is a proposal to create a global system of nuclear reactors and reprocessing plants over the course of decades that could cost tens if not hundreds of billions of Dollars.
I believe that this may be a well-intentioned proposal but one which has serious problems; and I don't think it holds up to the claims that the Administration has made about it.
If you look at the independent research that has been done about this issue. The 1996 National Academy of Sciences Report; a 2003 MIT study; and even by DOE Research, we know that we're taking enormous risks going down this path.
And I want to ask you just a couple of discreet questions and if we could get through them, I'd appreciate it.
Now one of the big concerns about reprocessing obviously is that it creates plutonium which can be used, as we know, to make nuclear weapons.
This is a problem associated with the reprocessing technologies used in France and elsewhere; and it is the reason why we have consistently opposed reprocessing.
The Administration as I understand it, is claiming that GNEP reprocessing technology would not separate the plutonium from other elements and therefore that the reprocessed material would be proliferation resistant. But that's only in comparison to other reprocessing methods.
In fact, the MIT and other studies I cited conclude that conventional spent fuel is far more proliferation resistant. The reason being it's too radioactive to be handled safely by terrorists.
So my question is this -- my first question: isn't it true that any conceivable reprocessed fuel would be more easily handled by terrorists than conventional spent fuel and therefore, doesn't reprocessing under GNEP increase proliferation risks rather than decrease them?
SEC. BODMAN: You know I don't know the answer to that specifically senator. I guess I would say that the goal is to recover plutonium and other actinide materials that in a form that would not be useful to terrorists.
Whether they would be more useful than the spent fuel that we now have, I don't know but I would think that there would -- my best guess is there wouldn't be a great difference but that's just a guess.
I'd be happy to get you a more thoughtful answer on that than I'm able to provide here real time. I just would tell you that we have run this in the batch -- on a batch scale out of Argonne and -- not on a batch scale, it's been a continuous reaction but it's been on a bench scale -- a small scale and it seems to work. And it's so that -- it's something that I believe is worthy of examination.
And the problem with the spent fuel that we now have scattered all over this country, including your state, is that those materials -- we've only extracted about 10 percent of the energy out of it and the uranium has been transformed into plutonium and other actinide materials; and this is merely an effort to recover that energy in a fashion that would be proliferation resistant.
Now I can't comment more than that but I'd be happy to give you and answer on it.
SEN. HILLARY RODHAM-CLINTON (D-NY): Well Mr. Secretary I really appreciate that because I think our oversight duty requires us to really understand what it is the Administration is proposing and attempting to accomplish.
I think we have two competing goals here. One is to find a cost- effective safe ways to increase the role of nuclear power in our energy sector; and the other is to be as vigilant as possible against the potential spread of nuclear materiel and proliferation. I think we can-
SEC. BODMAN: I agree with both of those.
SEN. CLINTON: Right and I think we can pursue the first goal which I'm open to, as I'm sure many people are because of our energy challenges. But at least in my review of the information available through the National Academy of Sciences, MIT, DOE Research the reprocessing, at least as it is currently available, seems to raise more dangers and questions than answers.
And there are other ways to pursue the potential for greater use of nuclear power within our energy electricity production.
You know, part of the reason I'm so concerned about this is that West Valley Demonstration Project in western New York is the site of the only US commercial reprocessing effort to date. And the reprocessing occurred in the 1960's. The clean-up has lasted until now. We're still not done with that clean-up.
It's cost billions. And so the idea that somehow reprocessing is going to solve our waste problem, at least insofar as I'm aware of it, seems a little optimistic to say the least.
I'm also concerned about costs. You know discretionary spending Dollars are very scarce and in the FY '07 budget, the Administration spends $250 million on GNEP. That's a project with uncertain and very distant benefits in my opinion.
I think the money would be much better spent in looking at some of the DOE research that is on the brink of being commercially applicable on conservation and alternative smart energy production because we're cutting a lot of DOE programs that we know have a direct positive impact on our energy usage. And based on DOE documents, the FY '08 and FY '09 costs would total over $1.5 billion, forcing further cuts in other programs.
And then it ramps up to $1.3 billion for a ten-year demonstration phase. I've seen no DOE estimates beyond that point but the best studies that I can find suggest that the reprocessing and transmutation of existing fuel from US reactors would cost upwards of $100 billion.
So there are a number of very serious issues around this proposal about GNEP. And Mr. Chairman I would like to submit a series of questions in writing because I think this is going to be one of the areas we really need to zero-in on as we move through the authorization process.
SEN. WARNER: Thank you Senator from New York. I concur in that and all members will be given that option -- given the brevity of this hearing we are going to have to resort to submitting questions. The Chair has a number that I will submit.
SEC. BODMAN: May I just comment sir-
SEN. WARNER: Yes.
SEC. BODMAN: To the Senator.
SEN. WARNER: Forgive me, I didn't-
SEC. BODMAN: There may be some confusion over what the French and other related processes produce which they do, in fact, separate plutonium.
This is intended not to separate plutonium but to leave it in a mixture with other actinides that is not, we believe based on what I know, proliferation -- there's not -- it is intended to prevent and to intercept the potential proliferation.
It will also require the development of a reactor to burn that separated plutonium and actinide material which is a so-called fast reactor.
So this -- you were quite right, this is a very expensive long term project. I think the number $100 million would be higher than I would give. My number is sort-of in the $20 million to $40 million range.
I don't know what it will be once we work it out and the goal here is to spend money over the next two or three years such that we would be in a position to narrow those error bands; and to make a more intelligent and thoughtful analysis of this problem.
But it is a way of trying to simultaneously do both things that you mentioned: expand the availability of nuclear energy on the one hand; and defeat terrorism and proliferation on the other hand.
So we have the same objective and so it's a question of how to go about it.
SEN. WARNER: Thank you very much. Now we go to Senator Thune.
SEN. JOHN THUNE (R-SD): Thank you Mr. Chairman and Secretary Bodman and welcome to the Committee. Over here, on the end.
And thank you for your leadership on energy issues for this country and I appreciate the work that your department has done in supporting the use of renewable energies which is something that's important in my area, in the Mid-West.
I have a question for you and I ask that you would be frank with your answer.
And I preface it by saying that I am concerned by the recent pattern that Congress has taken to zero-out funds for programs that are aimed at ensuring America keeps one of its greatest weapons, and that is deterrence.
And while we need to be a leader in international efforts to curb proliferation, I don't believe that we cannot; and nor should we make ourselves a target by compromising our nuclear arsenal in the process.
And so my question is: do you believe that Congress is asking you to maintain a high standard of performance but not providing you with the resources that are necessary to complete your mission?
SEC. BODMAN: This is with respect to the stewardship of the current nuclear stockpile sir?
SEN. THUNE: Correct.
SEC. BODMAN: No, I believe that we have had adequate resources and that we -- I can certify as to the efficacy or the viability of the stockpile with the resources that we now have.
It will get increasingly difficult, Senator, to do that as time moves on because we have the inevitable change in the materials that are inside these weapons.
I've alluded to that before in answering the Chairman's question and it's a problem that I think we need to resolve by the reliable replacement warhead approach.
That is to say, to redesign the weapons such that they accomplish the same military objective but do so in a fashion that is much more reliable and manageable; so that future Secretaries of Energy do not have to come and make the same statement 20 years from now to your successor -- or to you or your successor.
SEN. THUNE: Yeah, and I -- in following up on the Chairman's line of questioning which you -- I think you kind of exhausted or at least, got on the record many of the questions that I had with respect to the age. But my understanding is that -- of course, we haven't had new warheads in the arsenal built since 1989 which makes the current arsenal fifteen plus years old.
And it's also my understanding that during the Cold War, those nuclear weapons were retired and replaced every fifteen to twenty years. Given that average age and I know you've covered this to some degree already with the Chairman, would be you comfortable going to war with our current nuclear stockpile in it's current aging condition?
SEC. BODMAN: I would and I so attest each -- this will be my second time to do it. This year I will tell you that I do it with more knowledge than I had a year ago and that's why I have spent as much time with the laboratory directors from the three weapons laboratories.
And I have looked into this really up to the limit of my technical ability to evaluate what we know; how they go about their work. And I have been very impressed. These are great Americans, the men who run these laboratories -- the men and women who run laboratories generally but the three directors are men; and they do a great job and I've been very impressed with their work.
SEN. WARNER: I have to intervene for a minute, I must go to the floor to make arrangements for a very important vote by this Committee to be taken at the conclusion of the full Senate vote. It regards our nominees but hopefully we can get to the floor tonight.
We are anxious to -- if we can conclude the questions that I see colleagues on the right. I do not see further colleagues on the other side of the aisle. I'll entrust the hearing to you, one of you select to be Chairman and finish it up; or you have the authority to keep this hearing open; recess it; and then we'll resume at the conclusion-
SEN. : -- (Off mike) -- the vote.
SEN. WARNER: Of the votes on the floor.
SEN. THUNE: Mr. Chairman, I have a Energy Committee hearing ongoing and so in the interests of time, I'm willing to submit my questions for the record.
SEN. WARNER: Alright.
SEN. THUNE: That'll help expedite the hearing.
SEN. WARNER: I would ask the senator from South Carolina, Mr. Graham?
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Can I ask questions now or you want me to Chair for-?
SEN. WARNER: Well you're going to follow Senator Cornyn.
SEN. GRAHAM: Okay.
SEN. WARNER: Senator Thune still has a minute or two. Well I think you could work it in gentlemen, quite nicely.
So Senator Graham you have the Chair and if you would be kind enough to make the decision whether to resume or not, just inform me, I'll come back right after the floor vote is concluded and the committee vote.
SEN. GRAHAM: I'll try to live up to the responsibility (Chuckling).
SEN. THUNE: Well thank you Mr. Chairman.
One final question and I do have a question that I would like to submit for the record that has to do with dealing with -- the question we are all here to discuss here at the Committee and on the floor about whether or not we have adequate numbers of scientists and engineers to keep up with the demands that are out there. And whether or not that's a problem.
But one final question and that is-
SEC. BODMAN: Yes, it is a problem Senator.
SEN. THUNE: Good, well I would like to hear you elaborate on that too. In the interests of time I'll submit that one for the record.
But the final question I have has to do with coal liquification which is something that -- we have abundant resources and reserves of coal in this country and limited resources of oil. We import most of our oil. And we, of course, fuel our airplanes with that oil.
There is increasing discussion that I've had with folks at the Department of Defense about the possibility of being able to convert to liquefied coal as an energy source. And I'm just interested to hear what thoughts you might have. How familiar you are with efforts that are ongoing out there and whether you believe that's viable in the near term.
SEC. BODMAN: Yeah, I think it's viable. The issue that the Department of Energy has had, in this area we are a research agency Senator and so we do work on processes and on approaches that are new and novel.
This is pretty well known technology. It's been around for some time. You gasify the coal and you go through a Fischer-Tropsch reaction and you convert it into a liquid. And the people in South Africa, Sasol I think it the same of the company in South Africa, has done this.
And so the issue is, is there a role for things like loan guarantees and that sort of thing. There is a loan guarantee program that was described in the -- or in -- created by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 that you all passed last year. The President signed into law.
We are working hard to try to get that created. I will tell you that creating a loan guarantee program where you are guaranteeing the construction of a one-off new chemically-based process is a formidable task. Without going -- it's -- I used to do that for a living and it's very, very hard. And how we create that inside the government, I simply am unsure of right now.
But nevertheless, the program does exist and that might be an area that would be useful in stimulating further use of this technology. But there is relatively little research component to it. This is more a funding and a commercialization of already known technology.
SEN. THUNE: I'd like to explore that with you some more but yield back Mr. Chairman.
SEN. GRAHAM: Thank you, Senator.
SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): Secretary Bodman thank you for being here today and for your service to our nation.
I know that several senators have raised the issue of non- proliferation and it remains a huge concern given the times we're living in and the threats that exist.
And just for the information of my colleagues we're going to be having a hearing before the Emerging Threats and Capabilities Sub- Committee on that subject later this Spring; and hopefully shed some additional light on that critical subject.
We all agree that our nuclear weapons complex is critical to our national defense and equally important that we provide the resources to carry out this critical mission to the good stewards of a taxpayer's money.
I have a particular interest in this issue, not just because of my interest in the national security but also because of in Amarillo, Texas as you know, we have an important facility called Pantex that plays a key role in the Stockpile Stewardship Program.
And although the good work they do there and in similar sites around the nation are not news, or not often in the news and that's fine with me, I want to pay special recognition to the good work that they do.
But specifically I want to ask you Mr. Secretary, last year I expressed my concerns to you regarding the condition that we found the nuclear weapons complex five years ago. Specifically the nuclear weapons production plant such as Pantex and the Y-12 National Security Complex in Tennessee.
Fortunately, we've seen increases in the budget over the last five years to fund repairs; and demolition of old buildings; putting up new ones; and replacing aging equipment.
Unfortunately, we still see a downward trend in the facility recapitalization and infrastructure program know as FIRP. It funds deferred maintenance and equipment replacement backlogs.
In fiscal year 2005, $313 million was appropriated. In 2006, it was $149 million. And in 2007, $291 million is requested but fiscal year 2007 remains below 2005 levels.
It's supposed to -- FIRP as you know is supposed to sunset at the end of fiscal year 2011 and I'm concerned that the funding levels this year and next, could leave an excessive deferred maintenance backlog at the nuclear weapons plants after 2011. The very problem that FIRP was supposed to fix.
So my question is simply this: do you have sufficient funds for this program?
SEC. BODMAN: Senator you know, I can't answer that definitely at this point in time.
I can tell you that based on my experience in other departments, there are issues with respect to maintaining the quality of facilities as a general matter throughout the government for reasons that I think are fairly clear. It is much -- it is easier to generate support in the Congress for the creation of a new program than for fixing an old one. And so it is a challenge.
Having said that, the -- I have been to Oakridge and I have looked at what is going on there. I can speak about that.
I will be going to Pantex soon but I have not yet been to Pantex.
At Oakridge, we have made a lot of progress, for example, in developing and funding a very expensive new facility for storing highly enriched uranium materials, special nuclear materials. That's a very important part of what we're doing there.
But there are other buildings that are at Oakridge that eventually will need to be destroyed and cleaned up; and that will take years.
What we did in this country during the Second World War, was to -- and it affected not just Pantex; it affected not just Oakridge; and not just Savannah River; all of the different great storied facilities. Storied in the scientific history sense.
Unfortunately, were hell-bent on getting the material and the chemistry and physics right so that we can build a bomb and bring the war to an end; and there was less attention given to the matters of the sort that you describe.
And so we face this throughout this complex and the goal here is to try to develop; and that's where the Overskei Report which we have been asked about already. This is a SEAB report that looks at the entire complex and makes recommendations to the Department as to how we should proceed.
We need to make some decisions about that. What we're going to do about consolidation of special nuclear materials; and then go forward to deal with some of these matters.
So if I were to answer -- I can't give you a glib answer. I will try to give you a better answer in writing if I may.
SEN. CORNYN: That would be very helpful. Thank you.
SEC. BODMAN: Thank you.
SEN. CORNYN: Mr. Secretary in 2004 the DOE launched an initiative to provide employment opportunities for Iraqi scientists, technicians and engineers who may have been involved in WMD programs. This initiative was intended to support reconstruction efforts in Iraq and to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction expertise to terrorists or proliferant states.
Can you update the Committee regarding the status and progress of this program? Have, in fact, Iraqi scientists been able to take advantage of this opportunity to put their talents to work on productive and non-military research activities? And roughly how many Iraqi scientists do you believe might be eligible to participate in this program; and is the program of a sufficient size to meet this anticipated demand?
SEC. BODMAN: There are two areas if I may, if I can broaden your question. There are two areas -- two countries in which we've had these kind of programs.
SEN. CORNYN: Is Libya.
SEC. BODMAN: One is Iraq and the other is Libya. The Libyan program has gone forward and has effectively, I believe, been able to redirect some of the technical people into matters related to the oil fields; into matters related to environmental stewardship, into matters related to desalination. And I don't have numbers and I'll go get you number about Libya. You know, I don't know about Iraq. I don't try get -- you know, the whole Iraqi situation is one that has continued to be a challenge because of the insurgency. And getting people to work in more productive parts of the economy has been a challenge.
And so exactly what our contributions have been, I can talk to you about in general, it's the same general areas. Environmental stewardship; desalination; things that will be required in Iraq. They have major needs in the energy infrastructure.
Just how man of them and what the numbers are, I don't know. I'd be happy to get it for you.
SEN. CORNYN: I would appreciate. I understand you may not have all those facts and figures and tip of your tongue but I do think it's important we get at least the facts before us. Good, bad or ugly and then we can use -- we can determine whether we're making progress or going backwards.
SEC. BODMAN: Senator I'd be happy to provide that for you.
SEN. CORNYN: Thank you.
SEN. GRAHAM: Thank you Senator Cornyn. Mr. Secretary I've had my welcome to you to the Committee. I promise you we'll get you out here just in a few minutes.
The vote is on I think, so I'll take about -- no more than ten minutes and we'll let you get on your way.
One I'll make a comment about the President's budget, about the idea of recycling or reprocessing spent nuclear fuel, I think is visionary. I support the concept that the President and the Department of Energy is advocating for us to look at the fuel cycle differently; and try to adopt some reprocessing, recycling technology that's new and exciting, being employed in other places in the world.
So I want to be a partner with you there.
SEC. BODMAN: Great.
SEN. GRAHAM: And see if we can expand the nuclear footprint to make our country and the world less dependent on fossil fuels.
Savannah River Site. You know how much of my time I've spent on it and how I appreciate your time and attention you've been there. There's three programs. The MOX program -- when you talk about non- proliferation as you did with Senator Cornyn, we've got thirty-four metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium. Material that formerly was in a nuclear weapon that will be converted hopefully into commercial- grade fuel at Savannah River Site as well as in Russia.
And this is bomb material to be taken off the market for ever, to be used for peaceful purpose.
I was instrumental, along with Senator Thurman, in getting the Governor of South Carolina and our state officials to accept this plutonium.
The MOX program, according the IG Report, has been poorly handled financially; and it was originally a billion Dollar program. Now it's $3.5 billion. This year's behind schedule. We've had liability problems with the Russians. We've had management problems. And the funding line right now, Mr. Secretary, puts us behind not forward. Honest assessment, what do you see happening with the MOX here?
SEC. BODMAN: We are informed Senator, by our interlocutors in Russia that all is well with respect to getting the liability matter resolved. I hope that is true. My colleagues tell me that they believe that it's true. I'm a little bit of a -- probably like you, so I see-
SEN. GRAHAM: (Chuckling) -- We've heard this before haven't we?
SEC. BODMAN: No, I understand and you know, until we get that done, I'm a little bit of a doubting Thomas on it.
So we continue to work with them. I will be visiting with Mr. Kirienko next month when I travel to Moscow for the G8 Energy Ministers gathering. And I will -- I have spoken with him by the telephone but I have never met him personally. And so this will be my first meeting. He's just been in office a few months.
So I will, you know, work -- I think sir, I understand your conviction and your interest in this and the vital nature of it. And believe me sir, it has my attention; and it will be one of the first items I take up when I see him.
It's hard to gauge exactly what's going on in Russia and I will, you know, even when-
SEN. GRAHAM: That's fair.
SEC. BODMAN: Even when I talk to experts.
SEN. GRAHAM: That's fair and my hope is that once we get the liability issue off the table that we can assure people in South Carolina that the money will be there; that we will get the program up and running. Then the delays, we're about three years behind that we're committed to making it happen. I-
SEC. BODMAN: Yes, all of that's -- we are committed absolutely to making it happen as soon as we're -- that I'm satisfied that it's there. We've had a huge delay. We've had huge run-up in steel and concrete and all other things and so -- that's in significant measure, not totality but in significant measure the reason for the up tick in costs.
Each time we delay one of these big projects, it's a billion Dollar decision.
SEN. GRAHAM: And I will talk to you about the IG Report. You know, we just need to make sure there's -- people take their -- this job more seriously.
We've got five more minutes.
South Carolina entered into an agreement with DOE that I thought was historic about tank clean-up. It was a very close vote in the senate. It was forty-eight to forty-eight. I thought we made a rational decision by coming up with a clean-up standard that made sense.
Our tanks are leaking. There are forty-something tanks with high- level waste. And the deal was that we would leave a small footprint in the bottom that would take years to get out. Spent $16 billion more than we need. And now that program is behind, you know, we're fourteen months behind.
The cell waste processing facility is behind. We've got funding problems.
Could you just give me a few minutes about where you see this going and how we get back on track?
SEC. BODMAN: Well I think we're there, I mean, we're finished the -- I think it's with Section 31-16, I think is the section of the law that you were instrumental in getting passed. And I've made the first determination of that within the last couple of months.
We have a similar finding that will go forth with respect to the Idaho facility. And there were suggestions that we should pay more attention to the potential seismic impact on the new plant that will be built. And that decision was deemed to be correct by -- my colleagues and I subscribed to it.
So we will -- it will delay the start-up of the facility by a year and half and add a billion Dollars or so to the cost. And I'm convinced that it's the right thing to do and we will proceed with it.
SEN. GRAHAM: Well thank you Mr. Secretary. As you can tell South Carolina is certainly a very friendly state when it comes to making good decisions for our national security and high-level waste.
You know, I want it cleaned-up. I don't want the tanks to leak but I don't want to set standards that are unnecessary; and send things to Yucca Mountain that really don't need to go but I've got a problem at home, everything is behind schedule and under-funded.
And I appreciate any effort you can make and that you have made to get us back on track because these are very important programs for the nation and the state.
And thank you for your service. I know you came out of the private sector. I know this is a tough job but we need people like you, really now more than ever because we're at some -- some exciting opportunities present themselves.
SEC. BODMAN: Thank you.
SEN. GRAHAM: And the reprocessing, recycling of the spent fuel that's in abundance in this country, to me is exciting. It's a chance to make some good, rational decisions about nuclear power.
So I want to congratulate you and the President for embarking down that road and with that the hearing will be adjourned and have a good day.
SEC. BODMAN: Thank you sir, I appreciate your help.
1. U.S., Russian Space Science Cooperation Honored - Pioneering work advanced space surveillance in both countries
U.S. Department of State/Bureau of International Information Programs
(for personal use only)
The American Association for the Advancement of Science has named a team of Russian and American scientists the recipient of the 2005 International Scientific Cooperation Award.
The awardees are Kyle Alfriend, Paul Cefola, Felix Hoots and Kenneth Seidelmann from the United States, and Andrey Nazarenko, Vasiliy Yurasov and Stanisla Veniaminov from Russia.
The scientists, once adversaries, are being honored for their determination to transcend Cold War era limitations to collaboration and their pioneering work to advance state-of-the-art space surveillance in both countries for the benefit of the global astrodynamics community and the safety of human activity in space.
At the beginning of the Space Age, the United States and the former Soviet Union created separate systems for surveying space and classifying objects floating in space to ensure their own strategic and tactical advantages.
The resulting databases, called space object catalogs, contained regular tracks and orbital elements of the floating objects and were not shared between the two countries.
The information divide restrained advances in astrodynamics and impeded international knowledge of all satellites orbiting Earth and the scope and safety of human activity in space.
Beginning in 1994, the awardees embarked on an exceptional series of workshops aimed at exchanging information on the mathematical methods and systems used for space surveillance in the two countries, and comparing space object catalogs.
As a result of these collaborative efforts, it was possible to achieve near real-time determination of upper atmospheric density -- the nagging problem for estimating drag on satellites -- and improving orbits of geostationary satellites.
The reduction in estimation errors led both the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office to proclaim this as the "greatest improvement in atmospheric drag modeling over the last 30 years."
Information about the AAAS awards is available on the organization’s Web site.
Text of the AAAS press release follows:
American Association for the Advancement of Science [Washington, D.C.] Press release, February 15, 2006
2005 AAAS ISC Award goes to a team of Russian and American scientists
AAAS, the world's largest general scientific society, named a team of Russian and American scientists to receive the 2005 International Scientific Cooperation Award. They are Dr. Kyle T. Alfriend, Dr. Paul J. Cefola, Dr. Felix R. Hoots and Dr. P. Kenneth Seidelmann from the United States, and Dr. Andrey I. Nazarenko, Dr. Vasiliy S. Yurasov and Dr. Stanislav S. Veniaminov from Russia.
Once adversaries, these dedicated scientists are honored for both their determination to transcend numerous limitations to collaboration and their pioneering work to advance state-of-the-art space surveillance in both countries for the benefit of the worldwide astrodynamics community and the safety of human activity in space.
At the beginning of the Space Age, the United States and the former Soviet Union created separate systems for surveying space and classifying objects floating in space to ensure their own strategic and tactical advantage. The resulting data bases, called space object catalogs, contained regular tracks and orbital elements of the floating objects, and were not shared between the two countries. In addition to restraining advancements in astrodynamics, this information divide impeded international knowledge of all satellites orbiting the Earth and the scope and safety of human activity in space.
Beginning in 1994, the awardees embarked on an exceptional series of workshops aimed at exchanging information on the mathematical methods and systems used for space surveillance in their two countries, and ultimately on comparing space object catalogs. Given the proximity of these meetings to the collapse of the former Soviet Union, the scientists could have easily been deterred by the many logistical challenges alone. But they persevered. They held six workshops in the United States, Poland and Russia, which opened communication between U.S. and Russian experts in space surveillance, fostered cooperative research addressing common problems of space surveillance, and led to sharing of data, exchange of catalogs, and communication between people and organizations.
As a result of these collaborative efforts, it was possible to achieve near real-time determination of upper atmospheric density -- the nagging problem for estimating drag on satellites -- and therefore, improving orbits of geostationary satellites. The reduction in estimation errors led both the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office to proclaim this as the "greatest improvement in atmospheric drag modeling over the last 30 years." Background descriptions on the award winners follow:
Dr. Alfriend is the Distinguished Research Chair Professor of Aerospace Engineering at Texas A&M University. He is a mechanical engineer and a recognized international expert in astrodynamics and satellite attitude dynamics and control. His research has contributed to protecting the International Space Station from collisions with floating objects and navigating satellites.
Dr. Cefola is a lecturer in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Aero-Astro Department and an independent consultant, with over 30 years experience in the Aerospace industry. He is a mechanical engineer with research interests in the application of optimization techniques to the design and maintenance of satellite constellations and of parallel processing paradigms to astrodynamical problems.
Dr. Hoots is the Group Manager of Space Programs for AT&T. He is an expert in astrodynamics and mathematical modeling, linear programming modeling and satellite motion, mechanics and geometry. He previously served in the directorate of astrodynamics at the U.S. Air Force Space Command and as an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs.
Dr. Nazarenko is the chief scientist of the Space Observation Center, Department of Information Technologies, Russian Aviation-Space Agency. His main research interest is developing the statistical theory of motion of a satellite ensemble and applying it to studies of space debris. He also helped establish the Russian Space Control System.
Dr. Seidelmann is a dynamical astronomer and research professor in the Astronomy Department at the University of Virginia. After military service as a research and development coordinator at the U.S. Army Missile Command, he joined the U.S Naval Observatory, where he was director of the Nautical Almanac Office, the Orbital Mechanics Department, and the Directorate of Astrometry. He co-originated (with Dr. Veniaminov) the series of workshops this award honors.
Dr. Veniaminov is an engineer and leading scientist of the Scientific Research Center "Kosmos" of the Russian Department of Defense. He is an expert in cybernatics and cooperates internationally on space surveillance and debris contamination of near-Earth space. He has helped develop a theoretical base and method for optimum search of space objects on highly elliptical orbits and in geosynchronous orbit. He co-originated (with Dr. Seidelmann) the series of workshops this award honors.
Dr. Yurasov is a project manager for Space Informatics Analytical Systems (KIA Systems) in Moscow with more than 25 years' experience in astrodynamics, orbital mechanics and information technology, including research, development and management in public and private sectors. He has worked on optical measurements processing technology for geostationary satellite orbits, a comparison of satellite theories, and determination of satellite re-entry time with the help of numerical and semi-analytical methods.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world's largest general scientific society, and publisher of the journal, Science (www.sciencemag.org). AAAS was founded in 1848, and serves 262 affiliated societies and academies of science, reaching 10 million individuals. Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world, with an estimated total readership of 1 million. The non-profit AAAS (www.aaas.org) is open to all and fulfills its mission to "advance science and serve society" through initiatives in science policy; international programs; science education; and more. For the latest research news, log onto EurekAlert!, www.eurekalert.org, the premier science-news Web site, a service of AAAS.
For more information on AAAS awards, see http://www.aaas.org/aboutaaas/awards. Awards will be bestowed at the 2006 AAAS Annual Meeting in St. Louis, Mo., on 18 February.
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