Ali Larijani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council and chief nuclear negotiator, arrives in Moscow today, March 1, 2006. The talks are hardly to be fruitful despite the basic agreement reached in Tehran past weekend on establishing the joint venture to enrich uranium in Russia on behalf of Iran. For Iran, it is not the venture that is the prime concern today. More likely than not, Iran is just playing for time, aiming at delaying transfer of nuclear files to the U.N. Security Council. For Iran, the time is short now. On March 6, IAEA will hear a report on its nuclear program, which is bound to result in transferring the nuclear files of Iran to the U.N. Security Council and imposing sanctions in the next move. By pretending to take clear interest in Moscow proposals, Tehran might count on avoiding the sanctions or delaying their introduction at the minimum.
Iran made a tactical move past weekend. By results of Tehran visit of Russia’s Atomic Energy Agency’s head Sergey Kirienko, Iranian Vice President Gholamreza Aghazadeh announced Iran’s consent to Russia’s proposal and specified the need to canvass details over the next round of negotiations in Moscow. The talks begin today, March 1, 2006.
Moscow hosts Iranian delegation of undoubtedly high status now; its members are Ali Larijani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, and Vice President Gholamreza Aghazadeh. On the eve of the visit, Iran pledged to accept Russia’s proposal concerning the joint venture should the agreement entitle it to proceed with the own research in this field.
As to Russia in particular and the world community in general, the basic provision is the mandatory refusal of Iran to enrich uranium on its soil. The moratorium on enriching uranium in Iran will be one of the highlights of negotiations, Mikhail Kamynin, official spokesman of Russia’s foreign ministry, confirmed yesterday.
2. "'We Are Keeping the Door Open.' Moscow Not Losing Trust in Tehran's Common Sense"
Yekaterina Grigoryeva and Aleksey Bausin
(for personal use only)
Iran will reply to Russia's proposal for the creation of a uranium enrichment joint venture at the last moment, just before the session of the IAEA Board of Governors: This was the conclusion reached by Rosatom (Russian Atomic Energy Agency) specialists at the end of their talks in Tehran. Yesterday (25 Feb) Rosatom head Sergey Kiriyenko met with Iranian Atomic Energy Organization head Gholam-Reza Aqazadeh, but this meeting also brought no obvious result. Meanwhile, the states in the region are already beginning to prepare for the worst-case scenario, trying to predict what the consequences would be for them if a military operation were to be launched.
"We are keeping the door open, and we will keep it open to the end," a source in the Rosatom delegation in Tehran said yesterday. It is becoming increasingly difficult to hold the door: Tehran has still not agreed in principle to Russia's proposal for joint uranium enrichment, and experts believe that this makes the threat of the start of a military operation more and more significant. "We realize the critical nature of the situation, and it so happens that only the Russian proposal can save the day," Rosatom says.
Let us recall that the earlier talks in Moscow also failed to produce a result. "We are not losing our optimism. We believe that Russia's proposed way out of the crisis is entirely acceptable to our partners," Vladimir Putin said during his visit to baku. Although Iranian issues officially were not among the most important purposes of that visit, in essence that is what they became. Some 30 million ethnic Azeris live in Iran -- mainly in the north of the country, in the provinces of East Azerbaijan and West Azerbaijan (8 million live in Azerbaijan itself). So a deterioration in the situation could cause a massive flow of refugees, whose route, for geographical reasons, could pass through conflict areas. Furthermore, experts are already predicting an increase in radical felling in the region if a military operation is launched. Sources say that, at his talks with the Azerbaijani president, Putin was very keen to hear Ilham Aliyev's view on how the situation regarding Iran could develop. The presidents did not divulge the results of this discussion.
Slightly over a week remains until the IAEA Board of Governors session (it is scheduled for 6 March), and for the time being Moscow is trying, if not to be optimistic, then at least to seem so. At any rate, in Baku Putin deemed it necessary to cite Iran as an example of totally peaceful and predictable cooperation in the energy sphere. Admittedly, he was talking about electricity -- mutual sales in border areas, which are proving more effective that deliveries from the countries' hinterlands. "We are tackling such tasks on a trilateral basis with Iran," Vladimir Putin said in response to an question. However, as far as future prospects are concerned, experts in Putin's entourage are highly pessimistic: They are no long trying to persuade anyone that the Russian-Iranian talks could produce a positive result.
Tehran is also trying to save face and is publicly making confident plans for its future. "Russian organizations will be given priority in future tenders," Iranian Finance and Economy Minister Davoud Danesh-Ja'fari said yesterday (25 February) after talks with Kiriyenko. He was referring to tenders to build new nuclear power stations: Tehran asserts that it intends to develop this sector in earnest. "We have good experience of cooperating with Russian specialists on the construction of Bushehr," Danesh-Ja'fari said in support of his promise.
Meanwhile, "Iran's friends" are still trying to deflect the threat of international sanctions. At the same time as Kiriyenko was in Tehran, Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Lu Guozeng was on a three-day visit there. According to him, "the PRC together with Iran will study ways of moderating the crisis." The Chinese emissary, like the Russian ones, will probably try to persuade the Iranians to renew the moratorium on all work on uranium enrichment on their own territory.
IAEA General Director Mohamed ElBaradei will present his report on Iran's nuclear program to the Board of Governors at the beginning of next week. It will outline the results of the three years' work by IAEA inspectors, who have spent all this time trying to establish whether Tehran's nuclear program really is civilian in nature, or if the Iranians want to create a nuclear weapon. It is possible that the inspectors will also be able to shed light on how Iranian specialists managed to acquire "sensitive technologies" in other countries, such as Pakistan. The report's conclusions will largely determine the course of the IAEA Board of Governors session.
If it is decided in Vienna to send the "Iranian dossier" to the UN Security Council, economic sanctions theoretically could be imposed on the Iranian regime. Theoretically -- because the decision on this will be made by the Security Council. And Iran's "advocates" -- Russia and China -- could well use their right of veto. Unless Tehran's reluctance to compromise angers Moscow and Beijing once and for all.
"Obviously on 6 March the IAEA director will have grounds for delivering a verdict on Iran by deciding to pass its nuclear dossier to the UN Security Council," Radzhab Safarov, general director of the Center for the Study of Contemporary Iran, told. "The Iranians are prepared for such an outcome; after all, the punishment machine has already been started up. The consequences are totally unpredictable. It could be a local conflict or a global confrontation and war."
3. ENRICHMENT OF TERMS - Iran is told to suspend all work with uranium
Defense and Security/Vremya Novostei
(for personal use only)
Ali Hosseini-Tash, deputy head of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, is expected in Moscow today. Negotiations on the Iranian nuclear problem will take place in Moscow tomorrow. Hosseini-Tash's previous visit to Moscow last week produced no results. Moscow and Tehran have until March 6 - the day the IAEA directors meet in Vienna. Unless they come up with something, Iran's nuclear dossier will be handed over to the UN Security Council and that may end in sanctions against Iran.
Hosseini-Tash is running out of time. In the meantime, some progress has been already made. Sergei Kirienko of Rosatom made a trip to Tehran the other day and returned with Iran's primary consent to establish a joint venture in Russia to enrich uranium for Iran. IAEA Assistant Director Tomihiro Taniguchi said yesterday, "Considerable progress was made in the Russian-Iranian talks in the last ten days, particularly in the matter of the joint venture. Foreign ministers of 25 EU countries also hailed Russia's efforts in conflict settlement.
The only problem is that the joint venture alone is not the solution in itself. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov emphasized yesterday that the Russian offer was "but an element of joint efforts to solve the problem of the Iranian nuclear program." He mentioned "a moratorium on uranium enrichment in Iran itself" as another condition. The said moratorium should remain in effect "pending clarification of all questions by IAEA experts." Even Rosatom is convinced that establishment of the joint venture should not be regarded separately from other matters of fulfillment of the non-proliferation regime by Tehran.
In fact, the moratorium became a stumbling block in Russian-Iranian negotiations. A source in the Iranian diplomatic circles told this correspondent that "Iran considers it necessary to develop its own scientific technologies." Foreign Minister of Iran Manoucher Mottaki confirmed yesterday that Tehran does not intend to suspend nuclear research, and even described the international community's stance on the matter as "nuclear apartheid". Mottaki tied acceptance of the Russian offer with recognition of Iran's right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
The IAEA February 4 resolution, however, urges Iran to suspend "all work at uranium enrichment and processing." The Russian offer of a joint venture on its own territory is a corollary of this demand. All and any reservations concerning "uranium enrichment for scientific purposes in Iran" will only invalidate the initiative and make Moscow's efforts at crisis prevention futile.
White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said yesterday that "the United States will have to take a look at the terms of the accord," but essentially backed Russia's efforts. Foreign Minister of Germany Frank Walter Steinmeyer was even more caustic. He accused Tehran of the intent "to drive a wedge into the ranks of the international community."
A confidential report on the potentially military nature of the Iranian nuclear program circulated among IAEA directors yesterday.
Original source: Vremya Novostei, February 28th, 2006, p. 2.
4. Russia: Duma Vice Speaker Says Russia Against Referring Iran Dossier To UNSC
(for personal use only)
Russia is against referring the Iranian nuclear dossier to the UN Security Council, State Duma Vice-Speaker Yuri Volkov said at Tuesday negotiations with Iranian Majlis Speaker Gholam Ali Haddad Adel.
"Russian diplomats are doing their best to prevent the reference of the Iranian nuclear dossier to the Security Council," he said. "Russia is under a big pressure, they want to us to agree with the dossier's transfer to the UN Security Council, but that has not happened yet. Everything depends on Iran. Russia has done its best."
Itar-Tass asked Volkov about a possible outcome of negotiations on settling up a uranium enrichment joint venture in Russia. "Serious progress was achieved at Tehran consultations of Federal Atomic Energy Agency head Sergey Kiriyenko last week. The remaining questions will be discussed at the upcoming negotiations in Moscow," he said.
"Russia is very experienced in building nuclear power plants and handling nuclear technologies," he said. "The State Duma supports the establishment of the uranium enrichment joint venture on the Russian territory. Historical connections and common interests guarantee the success of joint projects." As for the Russian construction of the nuclear power plant in Bushehr, Volkov said, "the power plant will be commissioned as soon as possible."
5. Russian Senator Says International Community May Take Measures Against Iran
(for personal use only)
The International Community may take "pressure measures" against Iran if it does not agree to a compromise on the nuclear issue, believes chairman of the Russian Federation Council's committee for international affairs Mikhail Margelov. The member of the upper house of parliament on Tuesday expressed the hope that Teheran will make a correct decision, but pointed out that the situation around the Iranian nuclear programme remains tense.
"The nuclear problem talks continue and there are many covert hindrances that should be overcome before March 6," Margelov said in an interview to Itar-Tass. The Iranian delegation will arrive in Moscow on Wednesday, March 1 and the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will meet in session on March 6. IAEA Director-General Mohammed ElBaradei's report has already been prepared for the board meeting.
As became known from sources in the IAEA headquarters, it is said in ElBaradei's report that the IAEA still cannot give guarantees that the Iranian nuclear programme pursues exclusively peaceful purposes. It is fraught with the referral of the Iranian nuclear dossier to the UN Security Council with the following threat of international sanctions introduction against Iran.
Margelov said that Teheran in principle agrees to the Russian proposals on the establishment of a JV for uranium enrichment on Russian soil, but so far is not ready to fully abandon research in this sphere in Iran. "As of today it is the main obstacle that can destroy the negotiating process," the FC committee chairman stated.
In his view, the difficulty of the situation consists in the need "to reach a compromise that would guarantee Iran's right to develop the atomic power industry for peaceful purposes and would provide absolute guarantees of the nuclear weapons non-proliferation regime preservation." The FC member admitted that "it is practically difficult, as many research spheres and processes, including uranium enrichment, are of dual nature."
Margelov expressed the hope that the Russian side "will manage to agree with Iran during the remaining week on the whole range of nuclear cooperation and convince it of inefficiency of research that is fraught with international isolation." "Russia's compromise proposals on the establishment of a JV for uranium enrichment in our territory can be considered only in combination with Iran's refusal from developing similar process in the country and until Iran does not give such guarantees I would not rule out pressure measures on the part of the international community," the FC committee chairman emphasised.
6. "Moscow Will Finish Building Nuclear Electric Power Station in Bushehr. Sergey Kiriyenko Has Been Promised New Contracts To Build Nuclear Stations in Iran But Is in No Hurry To Discuss Them"
Artur Blinov and Andrey Vaganov
(for personal use only)
Last weekend Rosatom (Federal Atomic Energy Agency) head Sergey Kiriyenko visited Bushehr, where the first nuclear electric power station in Iran is being constructed with Russian assistance. The previous day the Russian delegation held talks in Tehran with representatives of the government of the Islamic Republic, during which Russia was promised new contracts for nuclear electric power station units and other promising orders. The Iranians for their part insistently asked Kiriyenko about the timing of the commissioning of Bushehr Nuclear Electric Power Station. Kiriyenko is to tell the Iranians at the end of the trip about the schedule for completing the work.
The talks which Kiriyenko had held the day before with his colleague -- Iranian Economics and Finance Minister Davud Danesh-Ja'fari, cochairman of the Russian-Iranian Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation -- were marked by their emphatically optimistic thrust. The Iranians not only displayed readiness to expand ties (commodity turnover between the two countries has now reached $2 billion) and to make new purchases (including aircraft and road transport) but also advocated setting up a "headquarters" to develop these ties. On the Iranian side it will include Iran's vice premier, the economics and finance minister, the head of the Foreign Ministry, and Iran's defense minister.
At the same time Kiriyenko's meeting with Gholamreza Aqazadeh, vice president of Iran and head of the Atomic Energy Organization, failed to produce visible progress on another important topic of discussion between Moscow and Tehran -- the question of setting up a uranium enrichment joint venture in Russia. The Rosatom head confined himself to the remark that the talks were not proceeding easily and proposed "not hurrying events."
Subsequently both sides assiduously tried to dispel the version about the "politicization" of the topics under discussion: The Iranians refuted this view of the question of the Russian proposal, while the Russians did so with regard to Bushehr Nuclear Electric Power Station.
"There are no political obstacles to constructing the nuclear electric power station in Bushehr," Kiriyenko declared. According to him, Russia intends to finish building the station as quickly as the technical conditions allow. Specialists in the Rosatom head's entourage also emphasized that after the signing exactly a year ago of the treaty on returning spent fuel from Bushehr to the Russian Federation, it is possible to finish building the station perfectly calmly, and no one can reckon that this is unsafe.
It is known that Iran intends to obtain from Russia the nuclear fuel for the power station in Bushehr. The first consignment of fuel is now in Novosibirsk. According to the technical conditions, it has to be delivered to the nuclear electric power station some six months prior to its physical launch.
Representatives of the Russian delegation do not rule out the possibility of new contracts in the future to construct other nuclear units in Iran. However, they see no urgency here, since "much work in Russia itself" lies ahead. According to them, "there are enough orders, for several dozen nuclear units are to be built in Russia."
As Sergey Kiriyenko told earlier, the Russian proposal to set up a uranium enrichment joint venture "enables Iran to develop peaceful nuclear energy and (enables) the entire world to be guaranteed that this will not lead to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction."
"We have placed on the negotiating table an agreement that Iran can obtain access to the possibility of enriching natural uranium through participation in a joint venture on the territory of the Russian Federation," Kiriyenko emphasized. "Iran will be able to obtain enriched energy uranium in a guaranteed manner and receive its share of the income from the activity of this joint venture but not gain access to the technologies, since the technologies are, all the same, dual-purpose technologies."
The recent visit of Sergey Kiriyenko, head of the Federal Agency for Nuclear Power (Rosatom), to Tehran did not change much the situation, which has taken shape in the last few months around Iran's nuclear program.
The question of whether this program is peaceful or potentially military has not been removed. Russia's proposal to enrich uranium at a joint venture on its territory under IAEA control has remained unanswered.
The world has heard nothing new from Tehran. After the talks Iranian Vice President Gholamreza Aghazadeh said: "Regarding this joint venture, we have reached a basic agreement. Talks to complete this package will continue in Russia during the forthcoming negotiations." He added that the question had many political aspects.
Just as before, the Iranians have reserved for themselves a possibility of retreat, and are doing everything to stall time. But there is not too much time left - the situation will clear up before a session of the IAEA Board of Governors on March 6.
As expected, the Russian-Iranian talks have evoked a reserved response both in Russia and the rest of the world. "The Russian-Iranian basic agreement to establish a joint venture on uranium enrichment on Russian territory is a positive but not final step in the solution to Iran's nuclear program," said Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the State Duma international affairs committee. "This agreement is just part of the solution to the problem, which Russia is trying to find. Russia is moving in the right direction."
U.S. President National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley has told CNN it is too early to say anything, because in such agreements the devil is always in the details, and time will show what comes out of it. This statement is well justified, just as the intention of Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso to find out more details about the Russian-Iranian joint venture during his forthcoming trip to Tehran. The response in other world capitals was very much the same.
Apprehensions about Iran are only natural because it itself generates mistrust with misdirected energy. Enough to mention almost 20 years of secret nuclear efforts, numerous statements by President Ahmadinejad about his desire "to erase Israel from the face of the Earth," and endless evasion of a straight answer to Russia's clear-cut IAEA-approved proposal of a joint venture. Alarm is further fuelled by statements of Iranian officials about Tehran's intention to reserve for itself the right to engage in small-scale, experimental nuclear enrichment on its own territory, in addition to work in the joint venture. In effect, this statement disavows the very idea of the joint venture. What's the point if uranium is upgraded both in Russia and in Iran?
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov made a very clear statement on this score: "Tehran is still linking the formation of the joint venture with limited albeit national R&D effort on its territory... Russia cannot agree to build a joint venture on such terms because its very idea will vanish, and because it contradicts the February IAEA Board of Governors resolution, which urges Iran to stop any work on uranium enrichment."
In other words, the news about a breakthrough and a basic agreement reached in Tehran by Sergey Kiriyenko is an exaggeration, to put it mildly.
This situation is not likely to change by March 6 even if the international community compels Tehran to say the final "yes" to Russia and sign a joint venture agreement. Regrettably, the Tehran regime's word and signature are not 100% trustworthy.
To sum up, even in the best case scenario for all, the Iranian nuclear issue will simply go into another phase, which will be less seen by the public. IAEA experts and security services of many countries will be zealously controlling Tehran's compliance with its commitments.
Neither the U.S., nor Russia, nor Europe, nor Israel or any other country, for that matter, has the slightest desire to see the Iranian military carrying the "football."
8. Russia uranium enrichment proposal beneficial for Iran-expert
Veronika Romanenkova and Alexei Tsypin
(for personal use only)
Accepting the Russian proposal on uranium enrichment on Russian soil Teheran would be able to get ``not only political, but also economic advantage,'' a source in the Russian delegation accompanying head of the Federal Atomic Energy Agency (Rosatom) Sergei Kiriyenko on his visit to Iran told Itar-Tass in an interview.
Russia has proposed to Iran to establish a joint venture for uranium enrichment that would provide fuel for Iranian nuclear power needs. Kiriyenko's trip is devoted to the continuation of this dialogue.
In the view of the Russian expert, ``The Russian initiative makes it possible to work using market mechanisms on a multilateral basis.'' He said, ``Iran could join the venture and then be getting profits from the work of the uranium enrichment facility for other countries that wish to develop their nuclear power industry. Other countries as well can join the JV.''
As far as the politics are concerned, ``The Russian initiative not only helps to find a way out of the specific political crisis, but also creates a prototype of universal mechanisms of non-proliferation guarantees,'' the expert is certain.
He explained that the energy consumption growth throughout the world has made it necessary to review the fuel and energy balances practically in all developed countries. The leading energy powers have decided to increase the share of the atomic power industry in their total generation - France from 75 to 80 percent, the United States from 20 to 25 percent, Russia from 16 to 25 percent. Inexpensive nuclear power is attractive also for those countries that until now have been using only hydrocarbons - oil, natural gas and coal.
However, the existing mechanisms for the non-proliferation regime ensuring are creating obstacles to free access of new countries to the atomic power industry. ``The spread of uranium enrichment and irradiated fuel processing technologies necessary for operation of nuclear power plants creates prerequisites for proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,'' the Russian expert noted. He specified that during uranium enrichment ``there emerges a possibility of bringing the level of fissile uranium-235 isotope from natural uranium (with 0.71 percent of U235) not only to the energy (4.4 percent), but also to the weapon-grade uranium (over 80 percent of U235).'' There is a possibility to extract plutonium during the processing of spent fuel.
At present the international community is facing the problem how to open access to the interested countries to the atomic power industry, but without breaking the non-proliferation regime.
``So Russia is offering a method of overcoming the energy poverty in the world at the same time guaranteeing strict observance of the non-proliferation regime norms - we help build nuclear power plants but prevent the creation of atomic bombs,'' the Russian specialist pointed out. ``The regime of nuclear weapons non-proliferation should not impede the spread of atomic power for peaceful uses,'' the expert added.
The Russian delegation member told Itar-Tass, ``Moscow has proposed to establish in the territories of the countries members of the nuclear club an infrastructure of international centres for the provision of nuclear fuel cycle services (enrichment of uranium and disposal of irradiated fuel) without the access of specialists of third countries to dual-use technologies.'' According to the specialist, ``Another possible task of such centres will be the training and certification of personnel for work at nuclear power plants.'' He insists that ``personnel qualification is a matter of security and the countries that are only beginning to create the nuclear power industry will not be able to create their own base for personnel training and education with real-size reactor simulators and the corresponding software.''
He also believes that the ``prospects for international cooperation in this sphere consist in the pooling of scientific potentials for the creation of the fourth-generation reactors and launch of a fast-neutron commercial reactor.''
1. Interview for Russian and Foreign Channels on the Priorities for Russia’s Presidency of the G8
(for personal use only)
QUESTION: I would like first of all to look at the very fact that Russia is presiding over the G8 this year. How do you see this event, how important is it for us and what are the main priorities for Russia’s presidency?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: The G8 is a forum for the leaders of the world’s eight leading countries and we see it as a matter of great responsibility. I do think however, that the global problems that are traditionally discussed at such meetings cannot be effectively resolved without bringing in our partners from other countries too, countries whose contribution to the world’s development is already considerable today and who will play an even greater role in the coming years. I am referring here to major players on the international stage such as the People’s Republic of China, India and several other countries. Nevertheless, the G8 meetings are traditionally a forum for discussing the most acute, pressing and vital issues of the moment and for outlining the solutions to this or that problem facing all of humanity. We have chosen three global issues as the priorities for our presidency in 2006. We chose these issues through consultations with our G8 partners and we think that they are of the greatest relevance today not only to us but to the entire international community. What are these three issues? First is energy security, second is the fight against infectious diseases, and third is the development of education. These are the three main priorities that will be on the agenda for our discussions.
QUESTION: Could we say that energy security really is the number one item on the agenda?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Yes, this is indeed the case. As I said, we have agreed with our partners on these priorities that we proposed. All of our colleagues agree that these are very important matters and that paramount among them is the question of energy security. At any rate, energy security is one of the biggest problems facing us today and it will be a big issue for the future too given that without energy, without resolving energy issues, no development at all is possible. But I want to make it clear that by energy security we mean not just the energy needs of the most industrially developed countries but the needs of every member of the international community. We are well aware that billions of people – around two billion by our estimates – have problems with access to the benefits of modern civilisation precisely because their countries have insufficient energy. And we know for a fact that millions of people do not even have electricity. In talking about energy security then, we are talking about the needs of the entire world and not just of the industrially developed countries. Of course, we also chose to address this issue because we believe that Russia can make a noticeable and significant contribution to its resolution. I do not think there is anyone in the world today who would doubt that Russia can make a contribution to resolving this global challenge that we face.
QUESTION: You have also selected the fight against infectious diseases as a priority. What are the prospects for making progress in this area? Are there plans to take practical steps?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I certainly hope that we will make progress not just in examining this issue but also in resolving the problems that we face in our fight against infectious diseases. Humanity has waged a war for survival against infectious diseases throughout its entire existence. History gives us numerous examples of these battles in Europe and on other continents, in other countries. In our modern history too we have the example first of AIDS, and then it was SARS that was in the headlines, and now we face the challenge of avian flu. This is all not just chance and I think therefore that we are right to make this combat against infectious diseases a priority. We must be ready for any turn the situation may take. We can prepare ourselves by uniting forces in the fight against disease and by making the necessary resources available on time. And these resources need to be made available not just in countries riding the wave of economic or financial success but also in countries that do not have such possibilities today. Our common effort will be effective only if it is as global as the threat itself. I very much hope that by uniting the efforts of politicians, scientists, public figures, informal organisations and NGOs, we will be able to make real progress and achieve real improvement on this front.
QUESTION: Education is one of the priority items on the agenda for the G8 this year. This issue is important not just for the other G8 countries but above all for Russia itself.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: It is important not just for Russia. Education is an issue that concerns all countries without exception, regardless of their level of economic development. Of course, there are countries in need of particular support for the development of education. But the issue concerns all countries because even in the developed countries we often face the problem of illiteracy or low levels of literacy. This is a huge problem and it is not just linked to education. There can be no economic or social development without education - that is clear. But poor education and illiteracy also have other repercussions that are not even linked to education at first glance. To give an example, poorly educated people are easy prey for all manner of radical preachers and for missionaries from various extremist organisations. Poor education creates fertile soil for xenophobia and for stirring up interethnic and inter-religious hatred. Ultimately, poor education creates a breeding ground for terrorism. Education therefore is an area of great importance, closely linked to many other areas, and as such it is always high on the agenda at the G8 summits and will be one of the priorities for our presidency.
QUESTION: You have named the main priorities for the G8’s work this year, but I am sure that other problems will also be raised. What other issues will be discussed at the summit in St Petersburg?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: There are issues that are almost always on the agenda from one summit to another. We were just talking about education for example. I remember when I first took part in a G8 summit, in Japan I think it was, and we discussed the education issue then too. Our discussions at that time centred on education for girls and women because this is a serious problem in some countries, a serious social and education issue. So as you can see, education is present on the agenda in one form or another from year to year. There are also other matters of concern that keep coming up on the agenda. The fight against terrorism is one example. This is a vital issue for the world today and we cannot ignore it and will certainly discuss various aspects of work in this area. Other issues that come up from one summit to the next include economic development, financial stability, world markets and global trade. Then there are of course the current problems on the international agenda. I am sure that we will examine the situation in the Middle East, in Iraq, and the situation with the Iranian nuclear programme. Another matter that is perhaps less pressing at the moment but is still always discussed in one format or another is the situation on the Korean Peninsula and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear programme. This issue has not yet been closed and there are still problems to be settled. The G8 is useful in that it creates the opportunity to meet informally and concentrate on two or three main priorities while also giving the chance to discuss any other relevant issues of concern to the leaders of the member countries and the entire international community. I very much hope that we will be able to create a welcoming, friendly and at the same time business-like atmosphere at our meetings in St Petersburg in July 2006.
2. Russia: G8 Nations Discusses WMD Nonproliferation in Moscow Talks
(for personal use only)
Nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction was discussed at a meeting of the group of directors of foreign ministries of the G8 states in Moscow, ITAR-TASS has been told at the Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation. The group includes heads of departments of the foreign ministries of Russia, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Canada, the US, France and Japan (the countries other than Russia are listed in Russian alphabetical order).
"The meeting noted the importance of enhancing the coordinated efforts of the G8 in this direction," a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman said. "Russia confirmed its commitment to the common G8 line on nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction as coordinated in an action plan at Sea Island and confirmed at Gleneagles."
The Moscow meeting was the group's first since Russia had taken over G8 presidency. The next meeting of the directors is scheduled for 13 April.
1. Russia inaugurates second chemical-weapons destruction plant
(for personal use only)
Russia launched its second chemical-weapons destruction plant Wednesday, a member of a government inspection team at the facility said.
Yevgeny Samokhvalov said that the Kambarka plant, in the Republic of Udmurtia about 700 miles east of Moscow, would use cutting-edge technology to produce chemicals for use in medicines, both on the domestic market and for exports.
Local officials said that about 1.7 metric tons of lewisite had been destroyed during tests conducted at the plant, which comprises about 50 facilities, since December.
Russia is also building a chemical-weapons destruction plant in the village of Maradykovo in the central Kirov Region, about 550 miles northeast of Moscow.
About 20% of Russia's chemical weapons will be destroyed by 2007, according to provisional calculations. 4,000mt of weapons have been destroyed at Gorny, Russia's first destruction plant, and another 4,000mt will be destroyed at Kambarka and Maradykovo.
With the Kambarka plant and the first part of Maradykovo operational, Russia will complete the second stage of an internationally backed program intended to destroy Russia's 40,000-mt weapons stockpile by 2012.
Under the program, Russia is set to build in 2008 its third destruction plant in the Western Siberian Kurgan Region, which borders Kazakhstan.
2. War gas disposal facility launched in Russia region
(for personal use only)
The first phase of the technological complex for destruction of chemical weapons will be launched in Udmurtia’s town of Kambarka on Wednesday.
This is the second facility in Russia for destruction of poisonous substances under the programme of chemical weapons disposal.
More than 6 thousand tonnes of lewisite are stored in Kambarka since the 1940s, which is 16 percent of Russia’s total volume of chemical weapons.
By ratifying the Hague convention banning the development, stockpiling, use and spread of chemical weapons in 1997, Russia has assumed the obligation to destroy all of its 40 thousands tonnes of especially dangerous weapons of mass destruction that are its legacy from the former Soviet Union.
Seventeen countries participating in the Global Partnership programme have committed themselves to give financial assistance.
In 2001, Russia destroyed powder charges and phosgene from ammunition ahead of schedule.
More than 1,143 tonnes of yperite and lewisite, which are blister war gases, were destroyed in last year’s December.
“The capacity of the facility in Kambarka are approximately 6-8 times larger than in Gorny,” the deputy chief of the Udmurt government’s department of conventional problems, Valery Malyshev, told Itar-Tass.
He said that 360 kilogrammes of lewisite would be destroyed at the technological complex in Kambarka.
It is planned to bring the facility to a rated capacity in 2006, allowing the disposal of 2.5 thousand tonnes of lewisite a year.
“The transformation of especially dangerous poisonous substances into safe reaction masses will be done with an alkaline hydrolysis method, but the engineering arrangement of technologies will be somewhat different as compared to the first facility in the settlement of Gorny,” Malyshev said.
He explained that “this will provide a possibility for increasing volumes of lewisite engaged in the detoxification technological process and keep the timetable of the international obligations, according to which all reserves of lewisite stored in Kambarka must be destroyed within three and a half years,” he said.
1. Sayda bay storage facility to receive first reactor compartments
(for personal use only)
The first batch consisting of eight reactor compartments from nuclear submarines will be delivered to the long-term onshore storage facility in Sayda bay, Murmansk region, in April-May 2006.
The first stage of the facility will be able to accommodate 30 empty reactor compartments, Interfax reported with the reference to the Nerpa shipyard chief engineer Rostislav Rimdenok. The tests of the German-sponsored equipment have been successfully completed, he added. The reactor compartments will be shipped with the help of floating dock from the Nerpa shipyard, where retired nuclear submarines are being scrapped.
The completed facility should be able to receive 120 reactor compartments as well as radwaste from the nuclear service ships. The end for the construction is scheduled for 2008. The project will solve the problem of safe storage for the reactor compartments, seventy of which are currently stored afloat in Sayda bay. The Russian Kurchatov Institute and the German Energiewerke Nord GmbH, or EWN are supervising the project.
THE REAL threat to the security of US ports comes not from Arab ownership of the terminals' managing company but from the failure of the United States to better monitor what comes through our harbors, big and small. Each day, about 25,000 cargo containers enter the country. The Coast Guard has estimated it would cost about $7 billion to equip US ports with the scanners and other equipment needed to meet high standards of surveillance. But since 9/11, the United States has spent about $1.6 billion.
As a result, just a small percentage of cargo is machine-scanned or manually inspected for a dirty bomb or other nuclear device, either in the port from which the cargo originates or in the US port where it arrives. Officials have also failed to establish a secure system of identification documents for port workers that would include background security checks.
Perhaps the most effective initiative for protecting the United States from dangerous contraband cargo is the program established by Senators Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar in 1991 to secure the nuclear-weapons materials and facilities of Russia and other former Soviet republics. Funds from Nunn-Lugar have helped to deactivate about 7,000 nuclear warheads and destroy more than 1,000 ballistic missiles.
But because of lack of support from Congress, the program's goals will not be met for years, with fissile material and thousands of former Soviet warheads still available for diversion to terrorists. Democratic Representative Adam Schiff of California, a member of the International Relations Committee, said yesterday that an Al Qaeda nuclear weapon is more likely to arrive in this country in a crate than on a missile. Graham Allison, the former Clinton administration official who is now the director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Kennedy School of Government, wrote in his book ''Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe" that ''if we continue along our present course, nuclear terrorism is inevitable."
Our present course is to give half-hearted support to the Nunn-Lugar program and to treat the security gaps at the nation's ports as if they were a problem the nation had decades to solve. Republicans often say the administration's terrorism-based abridgements of civil liberties are opposed by critics with a pre-9/11 mentality about national security. But both Congress and the administration have approached the danger of terrorists smuggling loose nukes into this country with the same lack of imagination that the 9/11 commission said blinded US officials to the threat of hijacked airliners used as weapons.
Whoever has the port management contract, the United States will be responsible for security. Congress should focus better on that task.
Let's be blunt: this fuss about ports is really about Arabs.
Port terminals have been managed, without alarm, by companies from Britain, China, Japan, Singapore and Taiwan. So let's look at the arguments of those who believe we should discriminate against Arabs.
Look, Kristof, if this is discrimination against Arabs, that's because it was Arabs who attacked us on 9/11 and still threaten us today. If Singaporeans were plotting to set off nuclear explosions in American cities, then we'd scrutinize them, too.
Even if you believe in racial profiling, you have to look beyond the profile. Senators talk about Dubai in dark tones that suggest they've never been there. Dubai is the Disneyland of the Arab world -- it's the place people go to relax, to shop, to drink. It is staunchly pro-American and pro-business, and its vision of the Arab future is absolutely the opposite of Osama bin Laden's. If we want to encourage Arab modernization, we should be approving this deal -- not engaging in quasi-racist scaremongering.
Critics of the deal seem to suggest that swarthy men in black turbans are going to be arriving to provide port ''security'' in Newark. But Dubai Ports World is run mostly by Western executives, under an American chief operating officer. Nothing is going to change on the ground in Newark.
That's easy for a columnist to say; by this time tomorrow, your words will be forgotten at the bottom of the bird cage. But you can't be sure of what will happen in Dubai in 10 years, and this is about ports, the weak link in our homeland security.
Suppose you were Osama bin Laden and wanted to set off a nuclear weapon or a ''dirty bomb'' in front of the U.S. Capitol. First you would bribe Russians with access to loosely secured nuclear materials.
Then you would ship them to the U.S. -- but the key step would occur in the foreign port: hiding the materials in the shipping container of a well-known and trusted exporter. If the container were shipped out of Rotterdam and seemed to contain Lego toys, for example, U.S. customs officials (who are now also based abroad) might not bother to examine it.
So even if agents of Al Qaeda infiltrate Dubai Ports World, and some manage to get U.S. visas and be stationed in Newark, it's not clear that they could help the plot.
So you're claiming that there are no security implications about a company from Dubai running American port terminals?
Sure, there are ''implications,'' but they are manageable. And there are also implications about rejecting and scorning a modernizing ally like the United Arab Emirates -- that would be a gift to Qaeda propagandists.
The reality is that ports aren't the only investment with security implications, and all countries wrestle with such concerns. China imported American telephone switches and discovered that the U.S. could eavesdrop more easily on Chinese officials; the Chinese imported U.S. planes, and the U.S. installed sophisticated bugs on the Chinese version of Air Force One.
So every country accepts trade-offs. We admit European tourists without visas, even though terrorists may slip in as well. But since 9/11 there has been a nativist, Know-Nothing streak in politics; a year ago it blocked China's deal to acquire Unocal, and today it rages at the Dubai ports deal.
Secretary of State Cordell Hull used to say that ''when goods do not cross borders, armies do.'' If we want to promote global markets, as an avenue to peace, we have to practice what we preach.
Look, 9/11 showed that you can't be blase about national security.
But paranoia doesn't work so well, either -- it has led us to Iraq, Guantanamo and domestic N.S.A. wiretaps. It was counterproductive for Republicans to get so hysterical about national security that they justified locking up hundreds of Muslims after 9/11. And it's just as wrong for Democrats to get hysterical today.
If Democrats want to improve national security, they can tackle it in a thousand ways. The biggest vulnerabilities in our ports could be addressed by increasing customs inspections abroad, by adding radiation detectors, by examining more containers or by making containers tamper-proof. And if the aim is to reduce the risk of nuclear terrorism, then how about more support for the Nunn-Lugar program to secure Russian nuclear materials?
Democrats have so many legitimate reasons to criticize President Bush -- from ruining our nation's finances to despoiling American wilderness -- that it's painful to see them scaremongering in just the way that Mr. Bush himself has.
1. Russian Regulatory Chief Outlines Proposals for Moscow Nuclear Conference
(for personal use only)
Russia could create an international centre for the storage and processing of nuclear waste, the head of the Federal Service for Ecological, Technological and Nuclear Monitoring (Rostekhnadzor), Konstantin Pulikovskiy, has told reporters. He was speaking at the IAEA international conference on nuclear security, which opened in Moscow today.
"The Russian Federal Atomic Energy Agency and Rostekhnadzor are drawing up proposals for such a centre," he said, adding that "a number of leading countries including the USA are offering to set up the centre on their territories". The idea "has the support of the IAEA's director, Muhammad al-Baradi'i", Pulikovskiy stressed.
He also said the conference would discuss an offer to establish an international centre for licensing nuclear power installations. "There is a need for this, especially when it comes to building new generating sets in countries that want nuclear power and are obtaining it with the help of other countries," he added. "Often it's not just one or two but several countries taking part in building new generating sets, and the operation of these sites has to be monitored and overseen with the cooperation of several countries' monitoring agencies."
Asked by ITAR-TASS if such a body would exert political pressure on countries building new generating sets, Pulikovskiy said "its work would be of an advisory nature". He stressed that "if it is decided to set up such a centre, there would have to be certain agreements reached with the IAEA".
Leading figures from the nuclear and radiation regulatory bodies of 65 countries and representatives of international organizations are taking part in the conference, which continues until 2 March. Its participants intend to draw up a series of recommendations for improving the work of regulatory bodies in IAEA member countries.
Russia plans to pump $10 billion into expanding its uranium resource base over the next 10 years, part of a program to accelerate the country's nuclear energy output, top government officials said Monday.
Spearheaded by the Natural Resources Ministry and the Federal Atomic Energy Agency, the program would increase annual uranium production sixfold by 2020, ensuring ore supplies for existing and new nuclear stations.
If the government does not act, Russian stockpiles of the ore will dry up in less than a decade, said an official from the Federal Subsoil Resource Use Agency, part of the Natural Resources Ministry.
"Our geological exploration has greatly lagged behind production for the last 10 to 15 years, since the government did not spend any money on it," Anatoly Ledovskikh, head of the agency, said Monday at a briefing.
In 2005, the country's three uranium producers mined just 3,325 tons of ore, one-fifth of the amount Russia annually consumes to fuel nuclear power stations and to meet military needs and export obligations, Ledovskikh said.
To increase future supply, the government would double production at existing uranium mines and start exploration at a number of fields in Siberia and Buryatia. It would also set up joint ventures with CIS partners.
The investment plan comes at a time when Russia is seeking to increase its nuclear energy production to diminish its dependence on fossil fuels.
Last month, President Vladimir Putin said nuclear power's share of Russia's energy use would increase from 15 percent to 25 percent by 2030. To achieve that goal, Russia plans to build 40 new nuclear reactors in place by 2030.
According to the ministries' plan, Russia would mine 60 to 70 percent of its uranium needs by 2015, with a further 30 percent coming from joint ventures in CIS countries, Vladimir Bavlov, deputy head of the Federal Subsoil Resource Use Agency said at the briefing.
With global uranium prices nearly twice what Russia's state nuclear fuel monopoly TVEL pays domestic producers, the country needs to minimize its exposure to global markets, he said. In 2005, TVEL paid $17.30 per pound for yellowcake, a type of processed uranium, mined at the Priargunsky Combine, Russia's largest uranium producer. The world price for yellowcake in 2005 was $27.30 per pound, according to a report published by investment bank UBS earlier this month.
Securing supplies of uranium comes at a time of increasing energy consumption both at home and abroad.
Russia needs an additional 40 gigawatts of nuclear energy annually within 20 years to meet Putin's target, Federal Atomic Energy Agency head Sergei Kiriyenko said recently in a speech published the web site of the agency, also known as RosAtom. By 2030, global annual nuclear power usage will amount to 600 gigawatts, according to U.S. Energy Department estimates, and 570 gigawatts by to Russia's estimates, Kiriyenko said.
Under the ministries' plan, production at the country's largest uranium producer, the Priargunsky plant in Krasnokamensk, is set to almost double from 3,300 tons to more than 5,500 tons per year. The miner, which is 84 percent owned by TVEL, currently accounts for 7.5 percent of world uranium ore output.
The smaller Khigda and Dalur mines, which together accounted for just 200 tons of ore in 2005, will be brought to 1,000 tons and 2,000 tons annual production capacity within a decade.
"We'll take on ourselves not only the risks of geological exploration but also bind ourselves to deliver uranium to factories for enrichment," said Bavlov.
A key part of the plans will be start of production at Elkonsky Gorst, a deposit in south Sakha, that has proven resources of 342,000 tons, Bavlov said.
"As of now, the infrastructure around Elkonsky Gorsk is in place. We expect it to mine annually 3,000 tons in 10 years, and 6,000 tons in 15 years," Bavlov said.
Russia also has some early-stage uranium resources in eastern Siberia and several uranium veins discovered in Buryatia, Bavlov said.
The country's total proven uranium reserves are estimated at 615,000 tons, according to Federal Subsoil Resource Use Agency data.
Analysts questioned mainly how financing would be secured.
"It's extremely ambitious. Whether Russia can meet the whole amount -- and I am skeptical -- is a serious question. But this is very good news," said Al Breach, chief strategist at UBS.
As Russia competes with France and the United States to build nuclear reactors for countries unable to build their own, setting up a reliable uranium network will be key.
"TVEL also supplies enriched uranium to countries which have nuclear reactors built by Russia, and they will want to stay in that market," Breach said. Russia supplies enriched uranium mainly to Ukraine, Kazakhstan, India and China, he said.
"RosAtom has no money, so where will the money come from?" said Gennady Pshakin, a nuclear industry expert at the Obninsk Institute of Physics and Power Engineering close to Moscow.
2. Rosenergoatom Hopes N-industry Program To Be Published Late March
(for personal use only)
Russia' nuclear power concern Rosenergoatomhopes a program for the nuclear power industry's development till the year 2030 will be published at the end of Mch, Rosenergoatom General Director Stanislav Antipov told a news conferenc at the Itar-Tass head office.
"T [sic] drafting of the program is nearing comletion. When the program has been finalized, it will possible to name the $final costs and sources of financing" he said.
Under the program the shre of nuclear power plants-generate electricity is to grow from the current 16 percent to 25 percent by 2030.
Rosenergoatom plans to be building t nuclear power plant units a year as of 2010.
By the year 2010 the conern is to build the 2nd unit of theVolgodonsk nuclear power plant, 4th uni the Kalinin nuclear power plant,and 5th unit of the Balakovo power plan, as well as a 880-megawatt unit at tyarsk nuclear power plant.
3. Rosenergoatom Won't Participate In Russia-Iran Uranium JV
(for personal use only)
Russia's nuclear power concern Rosenergoatom will not take part in a future Russian-Iranian uranium enrichment joint venture, Prime-Tass reports.
Rosenergoatom General Director Stanislav Antipov has said the concern will be prepared to participate in the construction of more reactors in Iran and furnish technical support throughout their life cycle, including personnel training and measures to maintain the safe operation of power units.
4. Ukraine plans to meet all nuclear fuel needs from own resources - minister
(for personal use only)
Ukraine plans to provide its domestic nuclear power sector with fuel from its own resources, but it is not considering the option of establishing a closed nuclear fuel cycle, including enrichment of uranium, Ukraine's Fuel and Energy Minister Ivan Plachkov has said.
"The energy strategy that has been developed really does envisage providing the nuclear power sector with fuel that is 100 per cent from domestic resources. But we are not considering establishing a closed nuclear fuel cycle," he told journalists in Brussels on 28 February.
Plachkov explained that according to plans, Ukraine envisages establishing "elements of a nuclear fuel cycle", in particular, it will increase uranium extraction and production of uranium concentrate, and build a plant for nuclear fuel fabrication. "We are working in these areas with our colleagues from Russia, France and the USA," he said.
Plachkov categorically ruled out the possibility of organizing the process of uranium enrichment in Ukraine. "We are not considering uranium enrichment in Ukraine: today there is an international market for enriching uranium, and we will use the market possibilities that exist," he said.
Plachkov noted that to this end, President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov have ordered the formation of the Atomenerhoprom concern, which will unite all businesses in nuclear energy complex. "This will allow to concentrate all capacities to ensure, first of all, an increase in uranium extraction, and to make use of all the technical and scientific potential that exists in Ukraine, for creation and provision of the elements in a nuclear fuel cycle, the final goal of which is providing our atomic energy with nuclear fuel," Plachkov said.
(At 1805 gmt, Interfax-Ukraine quoted Plachkov as saying that it would be possible to join the Ukrainian and European power systems to work in parallel in two to three years' time. Plachkov was in Brussels for a presentation of the Ukrainian energy sector in the European Commission.)
5. Ukraine to set up titanium, ferroalloys, nuclear corporations - premier
(for personal use only)
Ukrainian Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov has said that Ukraine is planning to set up several serious companies at an international level, for example, in such industries as titanium, ferroalloys and elements of a nuclear fuel cycle.
Yekhanurov was meeting students and faculty of the Poltava consumer cooperation university on Saturday (25 February).
"We are planning to set up several serious companies at an international level. This will be the Atomprom (Nuclear Industry) corporation for an incomplete nuclear fuel cycle. This will be a corporation in the titanium sector, where Ukraine has significant deposits, and the Antonov corporation in the ferroalloys sector," Yekhanurov said.
He said that Ukraine is facing the task of setting up another several corporations of this kind to compete in individual niches on the international market.
"A further several corporations of this kind need to be found so that we could have about 10-15 corporations of an international level," Yekhanurov said.
He recalled that a decision would shortly be taken to unite four Kharkiv-based machine-building plants working for the power engineering sector.
In the Russian Urals, in Sverdlovsk Oblast, there are plans to create a huge complex with which to assimilate the technologies of the fast reactors able to breed their own fuel. This is one of the projects called upon to realize, in the words of President V. Putin, the "underutilized, ignored potentials of atomic energy." And these potentials are sizable. Among them are technologies determining the future of the energy problem, and of atomic energy as such. They include fast reactors with a sodium heat-transfer agent making it possible to efficiently utilize a closed fuel cycle.
The significance of these reactors was described exhaustively by Academician Yevgeniy Velikhov, president of the Kurchatov Institute Scientific Research Center: "Physicists are well aware that nuclear energy has no future without fast reactors. Without them, nuclear energy will be just a minor subplot of the story about the search for ways to divest ourselves of what mankind has managed to create in the way of atomic energy."
It was fast reactors that were selected by Russia for realization of the RF government-approved "Strategy for Development of Atomic Energy in the First Half of the 21st Century." The idea of creating "fast reactors" is not a new one, for it was with it that atomic energy had initially intended to begin its own story. It was first put forward back in the 1930s by Leo Szilard, a prominent Hungarian physicist, who patented it in 1946. So it appears that physicists knew right from the start that fast reactors able to breed their own fuel through recycling processes were most suitable path for development of atomic energy. Such a reactor also solves concurrently the important problem of spent nuclear fuel. Uranium, plutonium, and lesser actinoids will be recovered from it for subsequent use. Consequently there will be no "wastes" (they are what strike terror in people today), and that means that we will not have to worry about where to store them -- we will only need to process them.
In the early stage of nuclear energy a rather large amount of attention was devoted to fast reactors in Russia. Power Generating Unit No 3 -- a BN-600 experimental industrial fast reactor, which is still operating successfully -- was launched in 1980 at the Beloyarskaya AES (in the Urals). For construction on a major scale, however, water-moderated reactors were found to be more economical, and so priority was placed on them. Today in Russia, and in other countries as well, water-moderated atomic power generating units are being operated and built predominantly, while fast reactors are a rarity in the world.
The task of developing further the technologies of fast reactors, now for commercial purposes, has been posed in the country. "We have a great need for fast reactors, even though the investment component and the cost of kilowatt-hours are somewhat greater for them at this time. In particular, completion of the new BN-800 reactor will cost 46 billion rubles," explained Russian Academy of Sciences Corresponding Member Mikhail Solonin, scientific director of the TVEL OAO (Open Joint-Stock Company) Technology and Innovation Center (in the Rosatom system). "But this is a necessary phase in the birth of competitive commercial reactors, during which we must find a compromise in the solution of two main problems -- safety and economy, and assimilate recycling of nuclear materials on an experimental industrial scale."
The BN-800 reactor and its successor, the BN-1800, are to be sited on the grounds of the Beloyarskaya AES. According to Solonin this is the optimum solution, because this is where scientific and technical potential has been accumulated, and personnel have gained considerable experience. The new reactor will operate with blended uranium-plutonium fuel. The uranium will not have to be enriched to obtain the 235 isotope, moreover: not only does it not have to be natural, it can even be depleted. Physicists believe that from the practical aspect this is "inexhaustible fuel." The BN-800 generating unit will need a special facility for the production of uranium-plutonium fuel, and experience in creating it has been accumulated at the Mayak Chemical Combine in Ozersk, 150 km from Beloyarsk. There also is the RT-1 Plant, which processes fuel from VVER-440 reactors and atomic icebreakers and submarines, including ones subjected to disposition, and which could be used to process spent nuclear fuel from the BN-800 reactor. Thus all of the components necessary for development of fast reactor technologies are concentrated at this place in the country.
How much time will it really take to make the new BN-800 reactor operational? According to Solonin not less than 8 years will be needed for erection of the entire complex, including the reactor and the fuel. The BN-800 is to be the successor of the BN-600, which will have served its useful life by that time. The BN-800 reactor is not a duplicate of its sibling, the BN-600. Its thermal output is 40 percent greater, which is also accomplished with a minimum increase in size. For the moment, the BN-800 serves not a commercial purpose, but an experimental, demonstrative one. It will be used for technological verification of engineering concepts that are to lie at the basis of creation of the next reactor, which will be a commercial one.
The state treasury recently appropriated the first billion rubles out of the needed 46 billion for completion of the reactor. Atomic scientists are hopeful that both the state and domestic business interests will display additional investment activity. "Today, fast reactors are a realistic technology that may be assimilated rather quickly and commercially justified," Solonin says with certainty.
It would be reasonable to ask how the inhabitants of Sverdlovsk and Chelyabinsk oblasts, and of the rest of the Urals, feel about "atomification" of their region. The uninformed layman is of course anxious, and this is explainable. Radiation accidents that have occurred in different countries of the world, and especially the Chernobyl disaster in the USSR (1986), severely compromised atomic energy in the eyes of society, and created an atmosphere of hostility.
"Nuclear technologies", meantime, have been one of the specializations of the region for a good 60 years. Many inhabitants of the Urals work at atomic industry enterprises, and know that such production is safe today. High labor culture, adequate wages, and good social protection of the industry's workers also have significance. All of this taken together imparts prestige to atomic enterprises, vesting them with the status of "persona grata" in the society.
According to Velikhov, "Atomic scientists have learned everything they could from the Chernobyl tragedy." Issues concerned with the safety of AES took center stage, and maximum effort was applied to drop the accident rate of atomic power generating units to zero. "Experience accumulated not only in detailed analysis of the physics of reactors, and in the creation of safety systems and new materials, gives us the right to say that there will be no more Chernobyls," Solonin asserts. "The probability of incidents at atomic power stations is generally very low today, in any case significantly below the probability of accidents occurring in mining and chemical industry, not to mention transportation." To be sure, sometimes we seek solutions where it is easier, and not where they need to be sought.
7. Yekhanurov says Ukraine will not enrich uranium
(for personal use only)
Prime Minister Yuri Yekhanurov said that Ukraine does not plan to enrich uranium, backtracking on comments a fortnight ago that Ukraine planned to produce its own nuclear fuel within a dozen years.
'Ukraine does not intend to enrich uranium,' the Interfax news agency quoted Yekhanurov as saying.
The US had been alarmed that Ukraine might enrich uranium, as it is keen to stem nuclear proliferation in the region. Enriched uranium is needed to run nuclear power stations but, depending on the level of purification, can also be used as the explosive core of a nuclear bomb.
Ukrainian authorities have said their country currently buys all the nuclear fuel for its four nuclear power stations from Russia, on which it is also dependent for much of its annual gas and oil needs.
President Viktor Yushchenko has made diversifying the nation's energy supplies one of the main priorities of his administration.
Ukraine agreed to give up its nuclear weapons and capacities in 1994 in exchange for security guarantees from the world's nuclear powers. The nation was also the site of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl power plant in 1986.
The new boss of Russia's nuclear industry, Sergei Kiriyenko, has announced ambitious expansion plans which alarm environmentalists worried about continuing radioactive contamination.
This week prosecutors charged the director of Russia's main nuclear waste processing plant - Mayak in the Urals - with violating safety rules.
Vitaly Sadovnikov is accused of allowing many tons of liquid radioactive waste to be discharged into the River Techa in 2001-2004.
In a separate investigation, the former head of Russia's Federal Agency for Nuclear Energy (Rosatom), Yevgeny Adamov, was arrested in Switzerland last year on corruption charges and extradited to Russia.
The Mayak plant was also the scene of a major nuclear accident in 1957, when a waste storage facility blew up, releasing 20 million curies of radiation into the atmosphere. The scale of the disaster was kept secret by the Soviet authorities at the time.
Despite that experience, and the 1986 disaster at the Chernobyl plant in Ukraine, the new Rosatom boss believes nuclear power is vital for Russia's future.
Mr Kiriyenko argues that the world's hydrocarbon resources are in decline and only nuclear power can prevent an acute energy crisis.
Mayak remains the flagship of Russia's nuclear industry and is still discharging tons of liquid radioactive waste into poorly isolated reservoirs.
The Russian parliament's environmental committee has recommended that Rosatom move towards halting nuclear waste processing at Mayak.
The committee's chairman, Vladimir Grachev, has warned that the dams standing between the radioactive water and the Ob river basin may collapse.
Environmentalists say dangerous waste water has been seeping into the soil for years.
Gosman Kabirov, an environmental activist who has spent years near the Mayak plant, says "the situation is indeed very dangerous, because the reservoirs have accumulated 1.2bn curies - that is 22 Chernobyls".
Every time they failed to produce weapons-grade plutonium, they simply discharged it into the river Gosman Kabirov, Russian environmentalist
In January, President Vladimir Putin announced plans to create a network of international centres for uranium enrichment.
Environmentalists fear that Mayak could play a significant role in that - and want the plant closed.
But Rosatom's spokesman Vladimir Novikov told bbcrussian.com that Mayak "theoretically... could be included in these plans".
Mr Kiriyenko has approved a project to prevent the waste reservoirs at Mayak overflowing and announced a tender for a comprehensive solution to the plant's environmental problems.
Rafail Arutyunyan, deputy director of Russia's Institute for Nuclear Safety, insists the plant's current activities "do not increase the environmental risks".
He warns that "once a facility is decommissioned, the level of attention and scale of work always decrease".
When Mayak was built in 1949 under the supervision of Stalin's secret police chief Lavrenty Beria, nobody worried about the environment.
"Every time they failed to produce weapons-grade plutonium, they simply discharged it into the river", Mr Kabirov says.
Then came the 1957 explosion at Mayak - and nobody knew how to deal with such an emergency.
Local villagers, soldiers and workers from the plant were mobilised to clear up the mess without any protection. Children from nearby villages had to dig up potatoes with their bare hands in fields still wet from radioactive rain.
"My wife's father was one of the first people to die from leukaemia. He was a policeman and had to shoo people away from the River Techa," Mr Kabirov says.
Some of the villages were evacuated, but others remained as they were, their residents becoming an invaluable resource for Soviet research centres studying the effects of a nuclear war.
In one such centre, specially created in Chelyabinsk, sick people were kept in the same building as cows and pigs from the contaminated area.
No similar accidents occurred over the next 50 years, but contamination continued.
Natalia Mironova, leader of the Movement for Nuclear Safety in Chelyabinsk, says that even today plutonium isotopes can be found as far as 400km (250 miles) from the plant.
Local villagers call themselves "guinea pigs".
"One in four children has genetic mutations," Mr Kabirov says.
According to Ms Mironova, the occurrence of deformities in new-born babies is twice the national average.
And tragic incidents still occur.
"In the village of Tatarskaya Karabolka a girl who visited her grandmother on holiday went to wash a carpet in the river. Very soon she developed symptoms of acute leucosis and died", Ms Mironova said.
2. Russia: Head of Mayak Nuclear Waste Disposal Facility Charged
(for personal use only)
Charges have been officially brought against Mayak Nuclear Waste Disposal Facility Director General Vitaly Sadovnikov.
Sadovnikov is accused of violating environmental safety regulations while handling environmentally hazardous substances and waste, the press service of the deputy prosecutor general in the Urals Federal District has reported.
The charges cover offences which "in 2001-04 caused several dozen million cubic meters of liquid radioactive waste to spill into the Techa River," the press service said.
Travel restrictions have been imposed on Sadovnikov.
"Possessing authentic information about radioactive waste leaks into an open hydrographic system, Sadovnikov failed to take any effective measures to protect the natural environment, even though he had sufficient financial resources to do so," the press service said.
Checks revealed that the Mayak management spent part of the revenues to maintain their representative office in Moscow and to provide financial aid to various organizations, or spent the money otherwise, instead of putting it into environmental protection programs.
Mayak is a major Russian center for the recycling of radioactive materials. It handles nuclear waste from the Kola, Novovoronezh and Beloyarsk nuclear power plants, as well as from nuclear submarines.
1. Russia committed to nuclear disarmament - diplomat
(for personal use only)
Russia will continue pursuing the course of disarmament, a high-ranking diplomat said Tuesday.
Valery Loshchinin, the permanent representative of Russia to the UN Office in Geneva, told a meeting of the Disarmament Commission that Russia had been taking steps to reduce its nuclear arsenal "on a continuing basis, without pauses or breaks."
According to the diplomat, the country's nuclear stockpile has been reduced by more than five times since 1991, and its nonategic nuclear arsenal by four times since 1999.
As of January 1, 2006, Russia still had 927 operational carriers of strategic offensive weapons and 4,300 warheads that fall under the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.
Loshchinin said Russia had been meeting its obligations to reduce its nuclear arsenal according to its unilateral commitments and agreements with the United States, including the Treaty on Strategic Offensive Reductions, which stipulates that both Russia and the United States must lower the number of strategic nuclear warheads to 1,700-2,200 by 2013.
2. "No Grounds for Destroying the Nuclear Triad: Nuclear-Powered Submarine Missile Platforms Are Capable of Mounting an Attack on an Enemy Both at Sea and in Base"
Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye
(for personal use only)
The debate and arguments in specialized military print publications over the role and significance of components of the country's strategic nuclear forces (Strategic Missile Troops, sea-based strategic nuclear forces, and airborne strategic nuclear forces) resume periodically with this degree of intensity or the other. Noticeable here is the attention of a number of publications in NVO in 2005, including Vladimir Dvorkin's article in issue #26 of the weekly ("Why Do We Need the Triad?"). Its content is in need, in my view, of various serious criticism and explanation.
The article maintains, for example, that "the first nuclear-powered missile submarine... was commissioned by the fleet in 1961." But, in actual fact, the first Type 658 nuclear-powered strategic missile submarine (that same long-suffering K-19 nicknamed "Hiroshima," if I am not mistaken) with a D-2 launch system (R-13 ballistic missiles) was commissioned by the Navy in 1960. But this is a trifling matter (I say, off by a year!). More serious for so respected a specialist as Professor Dvorkin, specially one, if you'll permit the expression, from the bosom of the Navy (he graduated from the Nakhimov Black Sea Higher Naval School and served in the fleet, from where he switched to the RVSN (Strategic Missile Troops)), is the deliberate or unintentional glossing over in silence of more important facts concerning the development in the Navy of strategic missile weapons. They are as follows.
The first time an R-11FM ballistic missile was fired from a Type V-611 B-67 diesel-powered submarine (Captain 3d Rank Kozlov, commander) was on 16 September 1955. The first diesel-powered Type AV-611 strategic missile submarine fitted with the D-1 missile system with R-11FM ballistic missiles was commissioned by the fleet in 1959. This launch system was simultaneously taken into service with our Navy, which thus became the world's first fleet to commission strategic missile submarines.
Yes, the Strategic Missile Troops were formed in 1959. But it is not with them, it is with the Navy, that the story of the development and combat use of our strategic ballistic missiles began. The RVSN did not become the "mighty missile shield of the motherland" all at once, this took several years, in the course of which the mission and responsibility for strategic deterrence were borne by diesel-powered, and subsequently, nuclear-powered, strategic missile submarines. It was they, with no ICBMs as yet either, that were forced to undertake combat patrolling in ocean areas directly adjacent to the shoreline of likely adversaries, conducting assault crossings and penetrating ASW defense zones and forces.
Vladimir Dvorkin's reasoning concerning the doubtful expediency of the "planning of subsequent nuclear strikes" (a counterstrike, that is), since "following the death of civilization," as he believes, there would, seemingly, be one to inflict such strikes on the enemy, is incomprehensible.
A counterstrike could in any event be carried into effect only by our strategic missile submarines deployed in areas of interest (in protected areas in direct proximity to their base facilities, what is more), whereas the majority of RSVN permanent sites (silos) and mobile (ground-vehicle) ICBMs could be wiped out by a preemptive strike. But it is the existence of nuclear-powered submarine missile platforms that holds any probable adversary back from such a step. The possibilities of their advance detection, on the other hand ("from their wake (?)," as Vladimir Dvorkin writes) are extremely low.
Petr Deynekin and Valentin Rog ("National Security in Thrall to Theories," NVO #20, 2005) rebuke Vladimir Dvorkin for his proposals for "reducing to a minimum the sea-based component of the strategic nuclear forces." He says in objection to this that he meant the maintenance "on... patrol of a number of strategic missile submarines no fewer than... in the past two decades...." But he immediately explains further on here that it is necessary to "reduce the overall composition of the sea-based strategic nuclear forces, in this way bringing the proportion of subs on... patrol if only to the European level" (?!).
But what is meant by this "European level"? Have, like the navies of Britain or France, one (or no) strategic missile submarine each in the area of interest?
Vladimir Dvorkin goes on to comment admiringly on the achievements of the Academician V.P. Makeyev Machine-Building Design Bureau national missile center. But he hereupon cites various allegedly essential reasons for the shutdown of the missile center's work on the Bark launch system (D-19 UTTKh (improved tactical performance specifications) intended earlier for armament of the Type 955 strategic missile submarine: the great weight of the RSM-52 missiles (90 tons compared with 58 tons for the Trident II US SLBM), the inferior technical sophistication of the componentry of the missile system compared with the American level, and so forth. The author also criticizes the design properties of the Type 941 missile platforms: their tonnage, dimensions, difficulties of basing and maintenance.... But what have curtsies to the "technical sophistication" of the American missiles got to do with it or the Bark missile system, upon whose further development account would surely be taken of both the shortcomings of the D-19 and all the innovations (American included) in missile manufacture of the 1990s? This is unclear.
Vladimir Dvorkin also considers unwarranted the provision made for the launch of missiles of our strategic nuclear submarines from a surface position, from base facilities or dispersed anchorage locations, that is, since this allegedly results in an "increase in the launch weight" of an ICBM, he says that the nuclear-powered submarines in bases would not "escape the strike" of an enemy (preemptive, evidently--V.Z.). I believe that the professor is mistaken. On the contrary, the majority of naval specialists believes that the possibility of Russian submarines firing from a surface position is an important operationalategic advantage of theirs, which expands the range of the conditions of the accomplishment of launches of the missiles of our strategic nuclear submarines and hereby enhances their combat possibilities.
The US Navy's SSBNs do not have this capability, which the Americans most likely regret. And we should not worry that in a period of threat (or in the pre-nuclear period of a war) that we could not conceal (disguise) the location of the strategic missile submarines that are for some reason at this base facility (or anchorage location) or the other, but that are ready for the operational use of their weapons. The system of dispersing the fleet's forces in a period of threat, particularly on the vast shorelines of the Northern and Pacific theaters, which abound in harbors, bays, and straits, was optimized long since.
3. Russia Observers Inspect Foreign Military Facilities From Air
(for personal use only)
Russian observers have for the first time this year conducted aerial inspection of military facilities and troops groups of foreign countries within the framework of the Open Skies Treaty. The Russian Defence Ministry sources told Itar-Tass that on Saturday "the specialists from the National Nuclear Threat Reduction Centre completed the inspection of military facilities in the Turkish territory."
The inspection was conducted during four days from board the Russian surveillance aircraft An-30B. The flight route was above the groups of troops stationed in the central part of the country. The flight distance was some 1,200 kilometres. Last year, the Russian observers from the centre performed flights over military facilities and groups of troops in the territory of 28 countries.
Over 40 inspections of foreign countries' territories are planned for 2006. Starting from this year the nuclear threat reduction centre experts launched the second stage of the treaty implementation. It envisages an increased number of surveillance flights on aircraft additionally equipped with radar side looking systems.
The Open Skies Treaty was signed in 1992 by 27 European countries, as well as by the United States and Canada. Finland, Latvia, Sweden, Lithuania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, as well as Croatia joined the treaty in 2002-2003. The main goal of the treaty is the observance of the arms control agreements, as well as building up of confidence measures in the military sphere.
DID RUSSIAN SPECIAL FORCES SMUGGLE SADDAM'S WEAPONS OUT OF IRAQ?; General John Shaw, former deputy undersecretary of defense, claims that Russian secret services smuggled WMD out of Iraq shortly before the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime. He alleges that Yevgeny Primakov, now head of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, took part in the sensitive operation.
The Intelligence Summit, a conference held last week in Virginia, near Washington D.C., gathered former and currently-serving officers from 16 American secret services. General John Shaw, a former deputy undersecretary of defense, was certainly the star of the show. One of the first speakers, Shaw stunned the audience with some sensational claims. He said that the reason American intelligence failed to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq wasn't because there had never been anything to find there, but because Russian secret services had smuggled the WMD out of Iraq just before the war.
According to Shaw, he reached this conclusion on the basis of his personal investigation in the matter, an investigation that started when he visited Baghdad in 2003. Shaw went there not long after Saddam Hussein's downfall in April. He never trusted the Iraqis to come to their senses and dismantle all banned weapons in the 1990s. Shaw was assisted in the investigation by the head of MI6, a senior Ukrainian source close to David Nicholas (the OSCE representative in Ukraine, who died a year ago), former British ambassador to Kiev Julian Walker (once ambassador to Qatar and Iraq), and former Ukrainian military attache in Washington Igor Smeshko.
With their help, Shaw says he discovered the existence of Operation Sarandar - which he translates as Operation Emergency Exit. "The US secret services knew from defectors of this standard GRU operation, planned back in the Soviet era," Shaw said. Yevgeny Primakov, a former foreign minister who now heads the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, flew to Baghdad within the framework of the operation in December 2002. He was accompanied on the trip by Vladimir Achalov, former deputy defense minister, and Igor Maltsev, former chief of staff of the Air Defense Forces. Shaw said, "Primakov was responsible for fulfilling a clandestine pact between the GRU and Iraqi intelligence for withdrawing WMD from Iraq."
Shaw claims that Primakov remained in Baghdad until the start of the American operation against Saddam Hussein in March 2003. In fact, the generals accompanying him to Iraq remained there even longer. According to Shaw, several large convoys of trucks left Iraq for Syria when the Russians were in Baghdad. The trucks allegedly carried WMD, WMD components, and manufacturing equipment. Shaw also said that two Russian ships had sailed out of Umm-Qasr, Iraq, on early March 2003. "They travelled in the direction of the Indian Ocean. En route, they threw the WMD they were carrying into the water," Shaw said.
Actually, Shaw can't claim to be making a sensational discovery. Lieutenant General Jon Michai Pachepa, former senior deputy director of the Romanian Department of Foreign Intelligence, who defected to the United States in 1978, was the first to reveal the existence of Plan Sarandar. When the American secret services were frantically seeking WMD in Iraq in August 2003, Pachepa told The Washington Post that Moscow had evacuated the WMD from Iraq.
According to Pachepa, the USSR and its satellites had a standard procedure for concealing WMD the Soviet Union had helped certain Third World countries to obtain. In fact, Pachepa himself had carried out such a program in Libya (Operation Sarandar). The Romanian said that the plan required all chemical weapons to be burned or dropped in the sea. Technical documentation (on microfilm) would be placed in watertight containers to ensure its survival. "I know for a fact that such a plan for Iraq did exist," The Washington Post quoted the Romanian defector as saying. "Nicolae Ceausescu, Yuri Andropov, and General Yevgeny Primakov told me so. Primakov was in charge of the Iraqi weapons programs in the 1970s."
The traitor's words were mostly dismissed as bragging back then. It seems that Shaw decided to use the information three years later. At the very least, the story he told bore a strong resemblance to what Pachepa had said.
On the other hand, Shaw did come up with something new as well. According to Shaw, the US Administration knew practically all there was to know about Moscow's clandestine operations in Iraq, including details of Primakov's mission. He says this made him all the more surprised when no counter-measures were taken. "I was told by military intelligence that all this was an element of 'Israeli disinformation,'" Shaw said. As for the CIA, he said it had tried to compromise his British and Ukrainian contacts.
Richard Perle, another former undersecretary of defense who now chairs the Pentagon's Defense Council, tactfully told us that "Shaw's information is quite interesting," but added that he lacked any "corroborative data from independent sources." Mark Leventhal, former CIA director for analysis and operations, declined to comment at all, claiming that he doesn't know "either Shaw himself or his sources."
Primakov said, "All these sensational revelations are nonsense. In the first place, I never went to Iraq in 2002. I went there three weeks before the American invasion, carrying President Putin's message to Saddam Hussein - urging the latter to step down. As for the speculations over how the USSR supplied nuclear weapons or WMD to someone else, they are nonsense too. The Soviet Union didn't even give anything to China in the midst of a crisis. It's really laughable to think that we supplied anything of the kind to anyone. It's really absurd. I was once accused of having sold nuclear weapons components to Saddam Hussein for $800,000 when I was the foreign minister! First of all, foreign ministers do not deal in such commodities. Second, the sum is ridiculous. The US got itself into a mess and need someone to blame for its own failure. There have never been any WMD in Iraq."
It is widely believed in Washington that suspicions of corruption were what persuaded Shaw to resign in the first place. Apart from looking for the "Russian connection" in Iraq, Shaw assessed contracts for rebuilding telecommunications. He was asked to do a favor for his friends whose company lost the contest. Walker, Shaw's source in the matter of Russia's alleged removal of WMD from Iraq, was on the board of directors of the company in question.
Original source: Kommersant, February 28th, 2006, p. 11.
U.S. Department of State/Bureau of International Information Programs
(for personal use only)
Iran’s "pattern of deception and denial" about its nuclear program caused it to be brought to the attention of the United Nations Security Council, according to a State Department official.
For more than three years the International Atomic Energy Agency has investigated Iran's undeclared nuclear fuel cycle activities, said Andrew K. Semmel, acting deputy assistant secretary of state for nuclear nonproliferation policy and negotiations.
The IAEA has written nine reports based on those investigations, he told an audience at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, February 24.
Those reports show that Iran systematically has carried out secret nuclear activities since the mid-1980s, including enriching uranium and separating plutonium -- elements essential for nuclear weapons and for nothing else, Semmel said.
Iran's repeated response, he said, has been deception, denial and a failure to cooperate fully -- and continued pursuit of nuclear fuel cycle capability.
Iran can have no sensible economic reason for its nuclear activities, Semmel said. Its huge investment in its nuclear program -- especially given its world-class oil and gas reserves, its lack of any functioning nuclear reactors and Russia's commitment to supply nuclear fuel for the only Iranian reactor currently being built, make it impossible to conclude anything other than that it is pursuing a weapons program, he said.
Recently, the IAEA inspectors found an Iranian document indicating that Iran had "received information from a clandestine source on casting and machining hemispheres of uranium metal," Semmel continued, adding that there is no application for such hemispheres other than nuclear weapons. In addition, Semmel said, Iran has yet to explain fully its relations with this clandestine proliferation network.
Those findings prompted the IAEA board of governors to report Iran to the United Nations Security Council on February 4, Semmel said. The United States expects the Security Council to act on the matter after the next IAEA board meeting, scheduled for March 6.
"Iran's continued failure to comply will necessitate a long, hard look at the nonproliferation regime and what needs to be done to strengthen it," Semmel said. Without such a review other states might emulate Iran’s example by secretly developing their own nuclear weapons programs, he said, concluding, "The stakes involved are extremely high."
The text of Semmel's remarks follows:
U.S. Department of State
Nuclear Proliferation: Today's Challenges and the U.S. Response
Andrew K. Semmel, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Nonproliferation Policy and Negotiations
Remarks at Washington and Lee University Lexington, Virginia February 24, 2006
Thank you. It is pleasure to be here today on a campus with so rich a history and tradition and so strong a commitment to public service and the development of its students.
I welcome the opportunity to speak to university audiences, because the diversity of ages, experience, and perspectives enriches the dialogue and the learning. Many of you are acutely aware of the challenge posed by nuclear proliferation and the dangers inherent in the spread of nuclear weapons to states that did not previously have them. Some of you learned this at the dawn of the atomic age with news of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or grew up with the ever-present reality of a Cold War arms race between two nuclear superpowers. For others, the Cold War is something that ended when you were three years old, and nuclear weapons may seem like another generation's concern.
Since the beginning of the nuclear age, mankind has faced a stark dilemma: how to exploit nuclear energy's peaceful and productive potential, while preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. Rather than fading with the Cold War, that dilemma is even more acute and multifaceted today, making the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, particularly but not exclusively nuclear weapons, today's pre-eminent threat to international peace and security. I'd like to take this opportunity to discuss the nature of that threat and how the Bush administration is responding to it.
The Nature of the Threat
The international community faces the threat posed by states attempting to develop nuclear weapons, despite solemn international obligations under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, or NPT, to refrain from proliferation. In recent years, we resolved such threats posed by both Iraq and Libya. In the recent past, we worked to ensure that only one state with nuclear weapons, Russia, emerged from the break-up of the Soviet Union, rather than four. We brought South Africa, Argentina and Brazil into the nonproliferation regime as non-nuclear-weapon States, which meant South Africa relinquished its nuclear weapons and Argentina and Brazil gave up serious nuclear weapons ambitions.
Today, the international community faces the challenge posed by North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons and, most prominently in today's headlines, from Iran's drive to acquire a nuclear weapons capability. Despite Iran's claims that its nuclear program serves purely peaceful purposes and its solemn obligation to develop nuclear energy only for peaceful purposes, it is clear that Iran seeks a nuclear weapons capability. I will return to the Iran issue in a moment.
The new threat posed by nuclear proliferation is the rapid rise in non-state actors' involvement in the proliferation of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. As the world learned with the discovery of the secret A.Q. Khan supply network, that involvement includes illicit trafficking in nuclear- and nuclear weapons-related technology, weapons design, and equipment. It also includes non-state actors', particularly terrorists', efforts to acquire and use nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction (WMD). It is made more dangerous by potential cooperation between these groups and states that have violated their NPT nonproliferation obligations.
Also greatly magnified in recent years is the challenge stemming from the spread of nuclear technology, particularly from those technologies that have direct relevance to the development of nuclear weapons. We must balance the right to peaceful development of nuclear energy with the need to prevent nuclear proliferation.
The U.S. Response: Effective Multilateralism
The Bush administration has constructed a comprehensive strategy against proliferation. The three pillars of that strategy are: preventing proliferation; countering proliferation; and managing the consequences of proliferation. To prevent proliferation, the administration has launched expanded efforts to prevent rogue states and terrorists from acquiring WMD, their related materials, and delivery systems. Counterproliferation recognizes that prevention does not always succeed and that we must have the capabilities to deter, detect, defend against, and defeat WMD and those who would use them for malevolent purposes. Consequence management aims to reduce the consequences or tragic effects of a WMD attack at home or abroad.
A central element of all three pillars of the administration's strategy against proliferation is a commitment to "effective multilateralism," to confronting the problems that we face with realism and determination in league with our international partners. Effective multilateralism is integral to our approach to proliferation prevention, counterproliferation and consequence management. In the prevention of nuclear proliferation, effective multilateralism has meant strengthening existing tools and developing new ones. Let me outline for you some of those tools.
The Nuclear Nonproliferation Regime
I have already mentioned one essential tool, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, or NPT. The NPT, the cornerstone of the nuclear nonproliferation regime, has created an international norm against nuclear proliferation and established the legal basis for actions against those that violate this norm. I would argue that the NPT and the associated system of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards, involving international inspections and verification procedures designed to protect against the diversion of nuclear material from peaceful to non-peaceful weapons programs, have had more success than setbacks in 35 years of attempting to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
Setbacks over the years have brought innovations. Based on the lessons learned about gaps in the then-existing safeguards system that was learned from the discovery of Iraq's clandestine nuclear weapons program in the 1990s, committed members of the nonproliferation regime negotiated the Additional Protocol, which aims to strengthen international safeguards to better detect such clandestine nuclear weapons programs. It does so via expanded access to more facilities and to more information. The Additional Protocol allows international inspectors to inspect and verify so-called "undeclared activities," not just those activities a state has declared open for inspections.
Another international tool includes multilateral export control regimes: principally the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group and the Zangger Committee. To make a nuclear weapon, a country must possess fissile material in the form of separated plutonium or high-enriched uranium. These export control regimes seek to establish guidelines to prevent a country from acquiring the technology needed to obtain either of these materials. These international voluntary bodies promote awareness among suppliers of nuclear technologies and materials that could promote proliferation; they also establish a set of common export standards to which all nuclear supplier countries agree to abide.
However, continued proliferation by rogue states and secret supplier networks has made clear that strong supplier commitments and solid national control lists do not automatically translate into prevention of illicit exports associated with WMD. We require multilateral action to enforce those standards. The disruption of the A.Q. Khan supply network and the subsequent decision by Libya to abandon its WMD and longer-range missile programs would not have been possible without effective multilateral action, based on strong intelligence, close cooperation, and active interdiction. Central to those successes was the Proliferation Security Initiative, or PSI, proposed by President Bush.
The PSI has transformed how nations act together against proliferation, harnessing their diplomatic, military, law enforcement and intelligence assets in a multinational, yet flexible, fashion. Over 70 states now support PSI and its Statement of Interdiction Principles, and the number is steadily increasing. Participants are applying laws already on the books in innovative ways and cooperating as never before to interdict shipments, to disrupt proliferation networks, and to hold accountable the front companies that support them.
The PSI-type approach involving like-minded countries is now expanding to cut off financial funding that fuels proliferation. In July, the G-8 Leaders called for enhanced efforts to combat proliferation through cooperation to identify, track and freeze relevant financial transactions and assets. For our part, President Bush issued in June a new Executive Order that authorizes the U.S. government to freeze assets and block transactions of entities (e.g. NGOs and businesses) and persons engaged in proliferation activities and support.
Another tool in our nonproliferation arsenal includes programs to secure and eliminate nuclear weapon-related facilities and materials and to redirect scientists and scientific communities involved in these projects into civilian sectors. The United States has been engaged in such programs since the launch of the Cooperative Threat Reduction program by Senator Lugar -- my former boss in the U.S. Senate -- and Senator Nunn in December 1991, just after the collapse of the Soviet Union. We have worked cooperatively with the Russian Federation and other former Soviet states since then on nuclear, as well as chemical and biological threats. International engagement on cooperative threat reduction activities has greatly increased since the inauguration of the Global Partnership Against the Threat of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction by the G8 in 2002. The United States provides about $1 billion annually for these programs for Russia and the FSU alone, and looks to our G-8 partners to fulfill their commitment to match that level.
Strengthening the Regime
President Bush has articulated an ambitious agenda in the prevention of nuclear proliferation to strengthen these existing tools and develop new ones. He has put a strong emphasis on compliance with NPT nonproliferation obligations. He has called for strengthening the IAEA safeguards system by universalizing the more demanding Additional Protocol, making implementation of the Protocol one of the conditions countries must meet to be eligible for nuclear supply, and by creating a Committee on Safeguards and Verification at the IAEA. The Board of Governors created such a Committee in June of 2005, and it met for the first time last November. The President proposed a United Nations Security Council Resolution to criminalize WMD proliferation, and in April 2004 the Council adopted Resolution 1540, which established for the first time binding, i.e., mandatory, obligations on all U.N. member states to criminalize WMD proliferation, enforce effective export controls, and secure nuclear materials.
President Bush also proposed that there be a complete ban on the export of sensitive uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing technology to all countries not now having full-scale plants, and that those countries that forego these fuel cycle programs have access to reliable nuclear fuel at prevailing market prices. He has proposed and we have seen increased international engagement on Cooperative Threat Reduction activities beyond Russia and the FSU [former Soviet Union].
There has been progress on many of these fronts, but much more needs to be done. We are working with the G-8 and the Nuclear Suppliers Group to establish effective controls on enrichment and reprocessing, and thus to prevent states from pursuing nuclear weapons in the guise of supposedly peaceful nuclear energy -- as Iran has done. We are also working with the other nuclear fuel suppliers and the IAEA to develop a mechanism for alternative nuclear supply arrangements in the event of problems with the commercial market. To enhance those efforts, Energy Secretary Bodman announced that the United States will convert more than 17 metric tons of high-enriched uranium to low-enriched uranium, and hold it in reserve to support fuel supply assurances. The results of this action will be doubly positive: it will mean more assured fuel supply which will make is unnecessary for states to develop their own fuel making capacity; and a significant reduction in the amount of weapons-related material -- enough for almost 700 nuclear warheads. We encourage other nuclear-supplier states to create such reserves as well.
I would be remiss if I did not draw attention to our reduced reliance on nuclear weapons and the number of U.S. nuclear weapons in our weapons stockpile. Under the bilateral Moscow Treaty, we have agreed to reduce our operationally deployed strategic nuclear warheads to between 1,700 to 2,200, about a third of the 2002 levels, and less than a quarter of the level at the end of the Cold War. When this Treaty is fully implemented by the end of 2012, the United States will have reduced the number of strategic nuclear warheads it had deployed in 1990 by about 80%. We have reduced our nonategic nuclear weapons by 90% since the end of the Cold War, dismantling over 3,000 such weapons pursuant to the Presidential Nuclear Initiatives of 1991 and 1992. I am hopeful we can begin serious negotiations on an FMCT [fissile material cut-off treaty] this year to end the production of weapons-usable fissile material at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. You may ask whether further or faster progress should be made now or in the future, and that is a legitimate question; but no one can or should, in good faith, question the significant advances that the U.S. has made in this area over the last 15 years.
I mentioned earlier that I would return to a discussion of the challenge posed by Iran. For nearly two decades Iran has claimed that its nuclear program served purely peaceful purposes, while at the same time it concealed sensitive nuclear fuel-cycle activities and failed to report these activities to the IAEA, as required by its NPT commitments. Since late 2002, the IAEA has been investigating evidence of these undeclared activities, and over the past three years, the IAEA has issued nine written reports (and several oral reports) on the results of its investigation. These reports document that since the mid-1980s, Iran has systematically carried out secret nuclear activities, including undeclared uranium enrichment and undeclared plutonium separation activity. They expressly accuse Iran of "Failure on many occasions to cooperate to facilitate implementation of safeguards, as evidenced by extensive concealment activities." When confronted with evidence of its activities, including evidence provided in nine IAEA Board of Governors resolutions, Iran continues its pattern of deception and denial, fails to cooperate fully with the IAEA, and continues to pursue nuclear fuel cycle capabilities in defiance of the international community.
There is no realistic economic justification for Iran's nuclear activities. It is impossible to conclude anything other than that Iran is making its huge investments in its nuclear program to develop a nuclear weapons capability -- especially given its large oil and gas reserves, its lack of any functioning nuclear reactors, and Russia's commitment to supply nuclear fuel for its one reactor currently under construction. One particularly damning piece of evidence recently revealed by the IAEA is a document uncovered by inspectors that indicates Iran received information from a clandestine source on casting and machining hemispheres of uranium metal. There are no known applications for such hemispheres other than for nuclear weapons. As with a number of other questions posed by the IAEA, Iran has yet to fully explain its dealings with this clandestine proliferation network.
As a result of this and much more, the IAEA Board of Governors found Iran in formal noncompliance with its obligations last September. And on February 4th, the Board of Governors, meeting in extraordinary session, reported Iran to the United Nations Security Council. We expect the Security Council to act on Iran's behavior after the IAEA's next Board meeting in early March. The international community is exploring and exhausting every diplomatic effort to persuade Iran to comply with its international treaty obligations. Iran's continued failure to comply will necessitate a long, hard look at the nonproliferation regime and what needs to be done to strengthen it. It could also unleash efforts of other regional states to emulate Iran by secretly developing their own nuclear weapons program. The stakes involved are extremely high.
In conclusion, I would like to draw your attention to a speech Senator Lugar made to the U.N. Security Council earlier this month. I do so because he paints clearly the gravity of the threat posed by proliferation. Senator Lugar termed WMD proliferation "not just the security problem of the moment," but "a universal economic and moral threat that will loom over all human activity for generations." He noted that the economic impact of terrorist use of a nuclear weapon would be catastrophic and global, impacting investor confidence, commerce and trade, and economic productivity. He asked, "Does anyone believe that proposals for advancing standards of living, such as expansions in education for our children, stronger protections for the environment, or broader health care coverage, would be unaffected by the nuclear obliteration of a major city somewhere in the world?" He warned that such an attack "would change the expectations of people throughout the world and would ultimately result in greater restrictions on personal freedom, stricter controls on travel and international study, more barriers to international commerce, and a massive increase in psychological disturbances and suffering. The constricting effect on international interaction would be felt in every country of the world."
I hope that you will take to heart Senator Lugar's point that "The nonproliferation precedents we set in the coming decade are likely to determine whether the world lives in anxious uncertainty from crisis to crisis or whether we are able to construct a global coalition dedicated to preventing catastrophes and to giving people the confidence and security to pursue fulfilling lives." These are wise words to remember.
DISCLAIMER: Nuclear News is presented for informational purposes only. Views presented in any given article are those of the individual author or source and not of RANSAC. RANSAC takes no responsibility for the technical accuracy of information contained in any article presented in Nuclear News.
RANSAC's Nuclear News is compiled two to three times weekly. To be automatically removed from our mailing list, click on the following link: Remove Me From The List