1. Russian proposals to Iran still on table - defense minister
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Russia's offers to help solve the long-running controversy around Iran's nuclear program are still on the negotiating table, the Russian defense minister said Wednesday.
Sergei Ivanov, who is also Russia's deputy prime minister, said all countries had the right to use scientific and technical progress, but under strict international control.
"Russia has expressed its opinion on this issue: On the one hand, we believe that every country should be able to use the advantages of the nuclear energy industry for peaceful purposes, but on the other hand, we stand for strict and transparent control over proliferation of weapons of mass destruction," Ivanov said at a meeting of defense ministers of the Commonwealth of Independent States, a loose association of former Soviet republics, in Azerbaijan's capital, Baku.
He also said Russia had put forward a number of proposals and initiatives aimed at resolving the Iranian nuclear crisis, and that the proposals had had a positive response worldwide.
Russia has proposed setting up a joint venture to enrich uranium for Iran on Russian soil and to construct new-technology reactors in a move to dispel suspicions that Iran was developing nuclear weapons.
Iran has come under heavy international pressure to re-impose a moratorium on its nuclear research program, which some countries say is being used as cover to develop a nuclear bomb. The Islamic Republic has vehemently denied the allegations, and says it is interested only in nuclear power for civilian purposes.
2. Russia: Deputy FM Kislyak Notes 'Certain Progress' In Iran Nuclear Settlement
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Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak told Itar-Tass on Tuesday, "A certain progress has been shaping up" in the search for ways of the Iranian nuclear problem settlement. "However, we cannot say that we have settled all the details," the diplomat stressed.
The aim of the talks of the "group of six" is to work out a package of ideas that would help to settle the Iranian nuclear problem by diplomatic methods, the high-ranking Russian diplomat pointed out. "We had no doubts that the Iranian issue should be settled in a diplomatic way," Kislyak said. "We are glad that our partners from the United States, China, Great Britain, France and Germany speak the same language."
"There are still many contradictions," the deputy foreign minister went on to say. "First of all I'm referring to the search for a formula that would help to find a decision, lay a foundation for further serious negotiating process," Kislyak noted. According to him, "The task is to attain a serious talks level."
The diplomat said that telephone conversations of deputy foreign ministers of the "group of six" are planned for Tuesday to discuss ways of settling the Iranian problem. According to him, the sides are considering a meeting of the foreign ministers of Russia, the United States, China, Great Britain, France and Germany that may take place "as early as this week."
3. Ballistic Diplomacy in Action in Iran - Igor and Sergey Ivanov protect Iran from the United States
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Secretary of the Security Council of Russia Igor Ivanov arrived in Tehran Saturday evening for closed negotiations with head of the Iranian Supreme National Security Council Ali Larijani. Diplomatic sources say that Ivanov was sent to convince Larijani not to add to the nuclear crisis and to accept the new package of initiatives to exchange for giving up its uranium enrichment. The success of Ivanov's “good cop” mission will be seen when the permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany meet again later this week.
This meeting comes after Russian Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov confirmed that Russia would fulfill its contract with Tehran for the delivery of Russian Top-M1 ballistic missile complexes in spite of U.S. objections. Moscow has thus made efforts again to confirm its “special relationship” with Iran and to take the initiative away from the more bellicose. Moscow says that there are new bases for a diplomatic solution to the conflict now, including progress achieved at the last meeting between the Security Council members and Germany in London last week. Chairman of the State Duma International Affairs Committee Konstantin Kosachev said that there are encouraging signs that the United States would not try to pass a harsh resolution in the Security Council. “There is hope that the dialog may continue,” he said. “Any other option is beset with unpredictable consequences.”
Tehran has softened its rhetoric as well, after a series of especially militant statements by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Iranian UN representative Javad Zarif said on Friday that “Iran is prepared to consider and accept proposals for the foundation of a consortium with the participation of various countries, including the U.S., for joint ownership and management of its nuclear facilities.” He added that “Iran does not intend to split plutonium and is ready to agree to the establishment of a ceiling on the degree of enrichment of uranium at the level of reactor fuel. Iran is also prepared to take other measures to guarantee that the nuclear fuel that we produce will not be subject to secondary enrichment and will be used only as fuel and not for any other purposes.”
No agreements from the negotiations between Igor Ivanov and Larijani were announced. The meeting of the UN Security Council permanent members and Germany this week should how convincing Russia can be with its special partner, however.
4. IRAN MUST ANSWER IAEA QUESTIONS TO GUARANTEE NUCLEAR RIGHTS
Russia & CIS Diplomatic Panorama
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Russia, the United States, the European Troika and China are ready to guarantee Iran's right to peaceful nuclear energy if Tehran answers the IAEA's questions, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a Moscow meeting of the PACE Bureau and Standing Committee on Monday.
Russia, "the same as China and the United States," supports European efforts to resume negotiations with Iran, he said.
The sides are holding consultations to consider proposals, which may restart the negotiations, Lavrov said.
"The idea is very simple - we are ready and would like Iran to fully engage in international economic cooperation and regional security efforts, and, simultaneously, we will guarantee the Iranian right to peaceful atomic energy if it answers the earlier questions from the IAEA," he said.
The answers should be given "in the course of cooperation between Iran and the IAEA," he said.
Another condition is Iranian compliance with non-proliferation commitments and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) additional protocol.
Iran said on Monday it had no intention of moving all of its uranium enrichment work to Russia to allay the international community's fears that it could use nuclear fuel technology to make atomic bombs.
Western countries say the only way Iran can prove it is not seeking a bomb is for it to stop enriching uranium. But the Islamic Republic insists it has every right to turn the uranium ore mined in its central deserts into nuclear reactor fuel.
"There is no discussion about plans to give up enrichment on our soil and it is a wrong argument that the enrichment should be done in Russia," said government spokesman Gholamhossein Elham.
"Enrichment in Iran ... will continue," he told a weekly news conference.
A Russian offer to enrich uranium on Iran's behalf has made little progress with Tehran saying it would be willing to pass some but not all of its fuel work over to Moscow.
Igor Ivanov, Secretary of Russia's Security Council, held talks with senior Iranian officials in Tehran on Sunday.
But there was no sign of a breakthrough with Iran's Supreme National Security Council issuing a statement to say that the two sides had agreed to continue talking.
"The general approach is that Iran's case should remain in the (International Atomic Energy) Agency and if it does so all international and legal supervisions will continue and that is in everyone's interest," Elham added.
Iran's case has been referred to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions. Tehran says it is developing a nuclear program that will produce electricity, not bombs.
Angered by its referral to the world body, Tehran stopped allowing snap U.N. checks of its atomic facilities.
Russia, a veto-wielding member of the U.N. Security Council, has criticized Iran for enriching uranium in defiance of the world body. However, it has some important energy ties with Iran and opposes the use of sanctions against Tehran.
Russia is helping Iran build its first atomic power station at the Gulf port of Bushehr and is interested in further nuclear co-operation. Russia's LUKOIL is exploring the Anaran oilfield in the world's fourth biggest crude producer.
6. Russia's position on Iran's nuclear issue "schizophrenic", pundits tell radio
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Russia and Iran recently held talks on Iran's nuclear programme, with Tehran saying both sides agreed to continue negotiations and work towards a peaceful solution to the crisis. The results of the talks were discussed by Radio Mayak's "Panorama" programme on 29 May presented by Vladimir Averin. The guests of the programme were Viktor Mizin, head of the Centre of Strategic Estimates and Aleksandr Khromchikhin, head of analytical department of the Institute of Political and Military Analysis.
Mizin said that the talks on Iran's nuclear issue resemble the talks on Berlin in the 1960s and in essence reflect the foreign policy of world powers, Russia included, as well as contradictions between them. He described Russia's position as "schizophrenic" and said that, on the one hand, it is trying to present itself as an advocate of non-proliferation and a true member of the world powers' club, especially with the G8 summit in St Petersburg in view. On the other hand, in the old Soviet way Russia is positioning itself as a defender of the weak and a supporter of the third world countries. The former position was voiced by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov who supported the USA in that no-one needs another nuclear power and thus the issue is being dragged, which in a way suits everyone, Mizin said.
Asked by presenter if Russia can be viewed as a mediator between the European troika and Iran, Khromchikhin agreed with Mizin's description of Russia's stance as schizophrenic, but said that Russia itself may not be aware of this. He said that we do not need a nuclear Iran and we do need high oil prices, but Russia will never miss a chance to pinch the USA and to pose as a leader of the weak. That is why Russia cannot decide what to do, it does not want to quarrel with the West, with Europe in particular, but it does not want to quarrel with Iran either, Khromchikhin said. In the meantime, while everyone is playing for time Iran continues to develop nuclear weapons.
As for China, in the Iranian issue Russia may be representing the position of China that pushes Russia in a very diplomatic way to defend Chinese interests by playing on Russia's anti-American complexes, Mizin said. This also speaks for Russia lacking a clear position where it does not fully understand who it should unite with, he added.
Khromchikhin stressed that China, not Russia, has become the leader in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), that China uses it to penetrate into Central Asia, Turkmenistan, in particular. In the future Iran may join the SCO to counterbalance the G8, presenter said and added that the military aspect is becoming more prominent in the organization. If Iran joins it, shall we hold a joint military exercise with Russia, China and Iran taking part, he asked.
Answering the question Mizin said Russia is currently supplying defence weapons to Iran, which does not do much credit to it. Attempts to build various military blocs will eventually turn against Russia, he said. In his view Russia's main priority should be the national projects and the domestic policy, he added.
Khromchikhin concluded by saying that if Iran joined the bloc comprising China and Russia and if the bloc became a military one, this would make the bloc anti-American and would mean declaration of another cold war.
The nuclear problems of Iran and the Korean peninsular cannot be resolved through unilateral measures, military force or sanctions, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Yakovenko has stated.
"Any use of force, especially unjustified use of force, is a humanitarian catastrophe," Yakovenko told the 6th International Likhachev Scientific Lectures in St Petersburg today.
He added that these problems cannot be resolved by using sanctions. Yakovenko said that the latest events in the world indicate that attempts to use unilateral actions to cope with modern threats are also invalid.
He described this sort of approach as a type of isolationism and stressed that Russia, like the overwhelming majority of other states, thinks that the future world order should be based upon collective mechanisms for resolving international problems.
"The only possible way is a political and diplomatic settlement working towards involvement in the international community and not isolation, towards direct dialogue between the chief protagonists," Yakovenko said.
"Considerations of an ideological nature should not be an obstacle to a peaceful solution of crises," he went on.
He stressed that Moscow proceeds from the need to avoid mechanical approaches when drawing up criteria according to which the UN Security Council is obliged to agree to the use of force.
"It is important that a decision on the international community intervening in one crisis or another, particularly when it is a matter of so-called `preventive intervention', should be taken on the basis of tested, irrefutable facts and not fabrications and unsubstantiated accusations," Yakovenko added.
8. HITTING IRAN WITH OIL; Russia faces a difficult dilemma
What the Papers Say
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It would be more logical for Russia to support sanctions against Iran; The solution to the question of what to do about Iran has not been found yet. Since Tehran doesn't really care about whatever Moscow is trying to convey, the Kremlin had better accept the need for sanctions and stop fighting them in the UN Security Council.
Security Council Secretary Igor Ivanov is going to Iran tomorrow for another attempt at persuading the Iranians to abandon their nuclear programs. Negotiations between permanent members of the UN Security Council (Russia, United States, China, Britain, and France) and Germany in London were reported to have made "some progress" - but the solution to the question of what to do about Iran has not been found yet.
Washington is resolute. It insists on a uncompromising resolution of the UN Security Council on the basis of Chapter VII of the UN Charter (measures up to and including demonstration of strength to whoever compromises international peace and security), to be followed by sanctions aimed to keep Tehran under pressure.
Europe's position is less radical. The Europeans also propose a resolution, but so that the sanctions are limited for the time being (embargo on export of certain commodities, and travel restrictions for Iranian leaders). Before having the UN Security Council come up with the resolution, however, the Europeans have an offer to Tehran. Britain, France, and Germany already made an offer to Iran once. It was scornfully turned down in August 2005. Europe expects to force Tehran to choose between cooperation and isolation (with sanctions) now.
Russia and China object to any and all sanctions. In the case of China, it is understandable and predictable, made so by China's dependance on Iranian oil. With Russia, it is more complicated than that. The nuclear power plant is being built in Bushehr with Russia's help. The Iranian energy market is closed to most suppliers, the fact that promises the Russians new lucrative contracts (or at least makes them a distinct possibility). Considerable hopes are pinned on the bilateral military-technical cooperation. Russia categorically objects to references to Chapter VII in the future resolution. It was Moscow that torpedoed the resolution the Europeans drafted in early May.
Sanctions may look an effective mechanism of persuasion only at first sight. In fact, they may have the desired effect on Tehran only when the embargo is all-encompassing and includes a ban on import of oil and natural gas from Iran. The ban will close practically the only channel of hard currency flow into the Iranian state treasury. An embargo on export of gas to Iran itself may deliver an even heavier blow at Tehran. Iran's own refining facilities are thoroughly inadequate for the needs of the country, and a great deal of gas is therefore imported. The catch is, European countries would not even hear of an oil embargo because it will send oil prices soaring. A barrel already costs more than $70...
The "gas option" is fine by the Europeans, but the Americans object. Iran is buying a great deal of gas from India which will certainly be hurt by the embargo. A quarrel with New Delhi is the last thing Washington wants or needs at this point. The two countries are advancing bilateral relations of strategic partnership, and value them. All this means that the question of sanctions remains unanswered at this point. Moreover, it will defy an answer for a long time to come yet. In the meantime, the West believes that limited sanctions are the only political leverage that may be used against Tehran.
The more obstinate the Iranians get the tension mounts, the less envious Russia's position becomes. Despite the efforts of the international community, Iran won't listen to reason. On more than one occasion, Iran has heard Moscow's arguments that IAEA requirements should be honored and uranium enrichment suspended. This disdainful ignoring of IAEA calls and Moscow's arguments makes Russia's efforts to spare Iran sanctions look certainly odd.
All these efforts would have been justified had Russia really had anything to lose. As things stand, however, Bushehr is the only project under way. All other Russian-Iranian projects have never progressed beyond the state of good intentions. It is hardly surprising because their implementation depends on stability of the situation. The Russians are even unlikely to get any new contracts for construction of nuclear power plants in Iran. Construction of the Bushehr facility is three years behind schedule, a fact that doesn't really compliment Russian atomic exporters. Along with everything else, it is highly unlikely that Iran can afford more one or two nuclear reactors at this point and that is not enough to warrant all-out defense of the regime whose nuclear programs make a nearly undeniable emphasis on military research.
Russia has to choose. Either it agrees that Iran becomes another "threshold country" but Moscow will continue cooperation with it all the same, or (if it knows better than wishing for another nuclear power on its southern borders) it throws its weight to add to pressure other countries are already applying. If the former is chosen, then Russia should not even balk at invoking its veto power in the UN Security Council. It will only prove Russia's determination in promotion of its national interests.
Now the latter choice will mean that Russia's interests are centered around the nuclear non-proliferation principles. Since Iran has been scornfully slighting Russia's initiative, it is only logical to support the resolution and the sanctions, which won't hurt Moscow too badly. Moscow is maneuvering instead. It is involved in the negotiations with the Iranians who are clearly stalling for time and refuse to listen to common sense. (It seems that Tehran has already considered the "confrontation option" and will act regardless of Russia.) Attempts to pacify all parties in a clearly unsolvable conflict simultaneously are never productive. They only result in the loss of political face in both directions. The conflict is unfolding, and Russia is involved and cannot pull out. Let it choose then. Choose the best option and go for it without hesitation.
Original source: Vremya Novostei, May 26, 2006, p. 5
There has been no breakthrough at the London talks of the six mediators on Iran. The sides tried but failed to find a balance between possible incentives and sanctions for Iran. Further talks on a draft resolution will be held in the near future at the level of the six countries' foreign ministers.
Consultations at the level of heads of the diplomatic delegations of the group of six mediator countries (Russia, the United States, China, France, Britain, and Germany) were held Wednesday (24 May) afternoon at the British Foreign Office. As was the case at previous such consultations, the Russian delegation was headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Kislyak. The main topic of the consultations was a package of proposals for Iran if it halts its nuclear program. As before, the talks were held behind closed doors. The results of the talks can be judged from the brief statements of the participating countries' representatives. "We have had a constructive and valuable discussion. We have made certain positive progress," John Sawers, British Foreign Office spokesman, told journalists at the end of the meeting. "This was encouraging but there is still much to be done. The sides will hold additional consultations," the British diplomat added.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice did comment on the results of the London consultations yesterday. In her words, "significant progress has been achieved at the London meeting."
Despite the positive assessments of yesterday's meeting by UK and US diplomats, it is obvious that the consultations have again not led to the conclusion of a mutually acceptable agreement on Iran. It is known that yesterday's talks examined a new package of proposals from the EU-3, offering Iran a whole series of benefits in the sphere of security, trade, and technology while in parallel allowing the possibility of the imposition of sanctions if Iran rejects the new initiatives. According to Western media leaks, the package of proposals on Iran includes the cost-free transfer to the Iranian authorities of a light-water nuclear reactor in exchange for Iran's abandonment of uranium enrichment work. This initiative was included in the anti-crisis package despite the fact that the Iranian president has previously stated that he has no intention of exchanging Iranian gold for Western trinkets.
The reasons for the failure of the London consultations are not entirely obvious. There were clear signals at the start of the week that the EU-3's new proposals would probably be supported by Russia. Sergey Kiriyenko, head of the Federal Atomic Energy Agency (Rosatom), hinted at such a possibility this week after a meeting with representatives of the US leadership in Washington. Among other things, Kiriyenko reported at a press conference on Tuesday that the draft London resolution that is being prepared would contain two aspects. "Aspect one is the demand on Iran for a control and nonproliferation regime, aspect two is the absence of the dual use of nuclear fuel by Iran (that is, its use for military purposes is not allowed)." The US media took the Rosatom head's words as a sign of Russia's readiness to support the new package of EU proposals on Iran. The opinion was expressed that Moscow would lift its objections to a reference in the draft resolution on Iran to Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which authorizes an embargo and military action in regard to a country which violates the nonproliferation regime. Certain media suggested that the United States has "bought" Moscow's support on the Iranian question by offering Russia a series of lucrative energy contracts.
Yesterday's meeting in London, therefore, demonstrated that if the mediators have been coordinating their position on Iran, it is still not fully coordinated.
Meanwhile, the optimism of the British and the Americans indicates that the sides were close to coordinating a package of proposals on Iran this time. Observers do not rule out that this document will be supported by all six mediators at the foreign ministers' meeting. According to a Reuters report, such a meeting could take place in the next few weeks.
The scale of the Global Threat Reduction Initiative is expanding dramatically; Recent success may offer a template for streamlining the repatriation process; Four tonnes of spent Russian fuel are estimated to be spread across 17 countries
The US government's formal campaign to rid the world of highly enriched uranium (HEU) materials that could be used to make dirty bombs marked its second anniversary in May, but the scope of the undertaking appears to be increasing faster than the campaign can show progress.
The US Department of Energy launched the Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) on 26 May 2004. The plan called for investing USD450 million to repatriate all fresh and spent HEU fuel from foreign research reactors of US and Russian origin by the end of the decade.
To date, more than 200 kg of HEU fuel has been returned to its source, according to the National Nuclear Security Agency (NNSA), but it is clear that the original GTRI plan severely underestimated the scale of effort required.
Two years after the GTRI was launched, the Bush Administration now expects to spend far more than the original budget and the campaign is expected to stretch out for another 10 years before all HEU fuels are repatriated and all foreign reactors are converted to a non-weapons grade fuel called low enriched uranium (LEU).
US officials also have been forced to drop an original plan that called for the owners of the foreign research reactors to pay for the conversion to LEU fuels and for transporting the irradiated HEU fuels back to the source nation.
The US now offers financial incentives to countries that cannot afford it, such as the Czech Republic. Wealthier nations, such as Germany and France, are still expected to pay the conversion and transport costs themselves, recognising the value of the goals of non-proliferation.
There are signs that the pace of returning spent, irradiated HEU fuels may be about to increase. Fresh HEU fuels can be transported by air because they pose no environmental hazards. Irradiated material has to be moved overland by truck, which requires adhering to cumbersome environmental and security regulations.
For example, it took GTRI officials two years to complete the paperwork necessary to make four shipments of spent HEU fuels from Uzbekistan to Russia.
GTRI officials note that the Uzbek shipments create a template that should help speed up the process for arranging similar shipments of spent HEU fuels from other countries. In 2004, US officials estimated that spent fuel of Russian origin amounts to more than four metric tonnes scattered among 20 research reactors in 17 countries.
In June, the GTRI plans to begin expanding its effort to recover so-called "gap materials": HEU fuels that came from countries other than the US and Russia. A request for proposals will be issued in June for a US contractor to take over that element of the process, said Andrew Bieniawski, an NNSA assistant deputy administrator.
So far, the Bush Administration has supported the growth of the initiative rather than cling to the original budget goal.
In Fiscal Year 2006, the US invested about USD96 million in GTRI, or nearly a fifth of the cost of the original plan.
The Bush Administration has requested a 10 per cent funding increase for GTRI in 2007, but the NNSA is unwilling to release a new estimate of the campaign's total cost.
"You can see that if you add up what we're going to be doing over the next couple of years, the [overall] budget is going to be more than that USD450 million," said Bieniawski.
"I can't talk about the out-year numbers beyond the request for 2007."
OAO Tekhsnabeksport has completed a program to remove spent nuclear fuel from a research reactor in Uzbekistan. That marks the end of one stage in a joint United States-International Atomic Energy Agency program to remove fuel from research reactors. Twenty more research reactors in 17 countries are awaiting removal of spent fuel. Tekhsnabeksport deputy general director Alexey Lebedev said that the company intends to complete its program no earlier than 2012 or 2013, while the Americans plan to complete the program by 2010. The total worth of the operation is $150-200 million.
The U.S. was to pay the expenses for the removal of the spent fuel as part of its effort to curb the distribution of material that can be used to produce atomic bombs. But the U.S. is financing only part of the removal costs. Low-enriched spent fuel is the responsibility of the IAEA, which is seeking sponsors for the project. Tekhsnabeksport will remove spent fuel from reactors in Latvia, the Czech Republic, Kazakhstan and Serbia as well. Former head of the Russian Atomic Energy Agency Alexander Rumyantsev estimated that Russia could earn $20 billion on the spent nuclear fuel market in the nest 20 years, but Russia has yet to be let into that market. Lebedev estimates Russia's share of the market at less than 1 percent, while it could occupy a fifth of the market. Throughout the world, 240,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel have been produced, and only 80,000 tons of it has been processed. “Processing of spent nuclear fuel is not very profitable, so many countries choose very long storage, more than 300 years, or delay the issue,” Lebedev explained.
Russia's capacity for spent fuel processing is not great. The Mayak production association is capable of processing 400 tons of fuel per year, but its current load is 150 tons. Full implementation of capacity, Lebedev says, will be possible only with the cooperation of the U.S., IAEA and European Union. “We cannot remove spent nuclear fuel from any country that has contacted us, because it is all under American restrictions. To overcome them, Russia and the U.S. have to sign an agreement on cooperation in the peaceful use of atomic energy,” he said. Tekhsnabeksport deputy general director Valery Govorukhin noted that Russian Atomic Energy Agency head Sergey Kirienko raised that issue during his recent talks in Washington, and a response should be had within a year. Industrial-scale processing of spent nuclear energy will only be profitable if the price of uranium continues to rise quickly. A kilogram of uranium cost $9-10 in 2000. Now it costs $100.
3. Russia to repatriate used nuke fuel from abroad before 2013
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The Russian nuclear industry's exporter and importer Techsnabexport expects to complete before 2012-2013 the return of used nuclear fuel to Russia from 20 research reactors built by the Soviet Union in 17 countries, Alexei Lebedev, deputy general director of Techsnabexport, told reporters Monday.
The return of fuel is carried out in accordance with a relevant agreement between the governments of the U.S. and Russia aimed at the prevention of the proliferation of nuclear weapons, as research reactors operate on high-enriched uranium, which can be used in the production of nuclear weapons, Lebedev said. The U.S. finances the program, which is estimated to cost U.S. $150-$200 million.
Techsnabexport already removed 90 kilograms of used nuclear fuel from a research reactor in Uzbekistan in April-May, which was a pilot project, Lebedev said.
It plans to withdraw used nuclear fuel from reactors in Latvia, the Czech Republic, Kazakhstan, Libya, Vietnam, Hungary, Bulgaria, Poland and Ukraine, Lebedev said.
North Korea and China have not responded to Russia's proposals to withdraw used nuclear fuel from their reactors, Lebedev said.
The Federal Nuclear Energy Agency controls Techsnabexport.
4. Russian Company To Produce Containers for Spent Nuclear Fuel by Year-End
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The Sevmashpredpriyatie production association has assembled another 12 TUK-108/1 transportation containers for spent nuclear fuel of Russian Navy ships.
The production is organized in the framework of the cooperation of the U.S., Russia and Norway under the Arctic Military Environment Cooperation (AMEC) program.
Approved in September 1996, the program is aimed at providing groundwork for resolving ecological problems in the Arctic, caused by military activity.
The contract on 35 containers was signed between the Defense Threat Reduction Agency of the U.S. Department of Defense and Sevmashpredpriyatie in September 2004, a company spokesman told Interfax Monday.
The containers will most likely be ready in autumn 2006.
The company had already provided 25 such containers to the navy under the first such contract signed earlier.
The experimental container was built at the company in autumn 2002. Now mass production is on at the enterprise in Severodvinsk and the Izhorskie Zavody plant in St. Petersburg.
The development and production of the transportation container for long-term storing and transportation of defected and non-defected spent nuclear fuel of nuclear propulsion ships is said to be the priority project among the 15 ones, AMEC is currently running.
According to assessments made, a total of about 200 such containers will be required for the Russian navy.
Sevmashpredpriyatie is now also building a batch of 50 TUK-120 containers designed to transport and store spent nuclear fuel of nuclear ice-breakers from the Lotta floating base, where it is accommodated now, to coastal storage.
The production of containers for 50-year storing of spent nuclear fuel and its transportation for disposal is being under way in the framework of building a coastal storing facility on the premises of Atomflot, with the cornerstone laid in November 2004.
The construction work is funded by Great Britain that earmarked 16.2 million pounds ($30.2 million) for the purpose. The project also involves Crown Agents, the Murmansk maritime transportation company and Atomflot, acting under the Global Partnership program.
5. Y-12 getting rid of bombs - Oak Ridge complex steps up efforts to dismantle nuclear warhead parts
Knoxville News Sentinel
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OAK RIDGE - The bomb builders are taking them apart - with vigor.
Dismantlement of nuclear warheads has always been a part of the workload at the Y-12 National Security Complex. But not like this.
"Historically, it's been viewed as sort of filler work. That has changed this year," said Dan Linehan, 45, a manager in the plant's Directed Stockpile Work organization.
To comply with international treaties, reduce the storage-space requirements for plant modernization, and provide materials for new uses, Y-12 is breaking down bombs like never before.
Linehan said he's not at liberty to discuss the actual number of warhead parts being disassembled at Y-12, but he said it's several times that of previous years.
And this new work agenda apparently is here to stay. Y-12 is dealing with a backlog of old warhead components. Some of them have been in storage for decades.
The stepped-up dismantlement effort coincides with the construction of a $350 million storage center for bomb-grade uranium - about half-finished - and plans for a $1 billion Uranium Processing Facility, which is tentatively scheduled for completion around 2015.
"We'll be dismantling well beyond when UPF comes on line," Linehan said in a telephone interview.
According to Y-12 Report, the plant's quarterly publication, as many as seven retired weapon systems are targeted for dismantlement during the next five years.
That includes components from air-dropped bombs; Minuteman I and III intercontinental ballistic missiles; Lance tactical missile; and Spartan surface-to-air-missile, the report states.
The report notes that the U.S. nuclear arsenal is being revamped to comply with arms-control agreements and to address national-security requirements.
"The Moscow Treaty of 2002 commits the U.S. and Russia to a total of 1,700 to 2,200 deployed warheads each by the end of 2012," the Y-12 Report states. "This commitment requires accelerated dismantlement and disposition efforts to reduce the need to hold large amounts of materials in reserve. The question is how and where to dispose of the surplus materials in a safe, secure and environmentally sound way."
There are active programs in which surplus quantities of highly enriched uranium - almost pure U-235, the fissile isotope - are "down-blended" to reduce the weapons capability and then converted into fuel for nuclear reactors.
Y-12 is the nation's principal storehouse for bomb-grade uranium. The exact quantity of uranium stored there is classified but it has been estimated at more than 400 metric tons and growing because of weapon retirements.
The Oak Ridge plant's primary defense role is manufacturing so-called secondaries - the second stage of thermonuclear warheads - with enriched uranium and other materials. Y-12 continues to refurbish warheads as part of the "life-extension program" for deployed weapon systems
Traditionally, production plants in the nuclear weapons complex have been responsible for dismantling and recycling the components they built originally. Y-12 gets most of its shipments from the Pantex Plant near Amarillo, Texas, which is the main assembly and disassembly center for nuclear warheads.
In some cases, Y-12 gets other parts in addition to its warhead secondaries. For instance, the plant currently is responsible for re-entry vehicles for the Minuteman I warhead, and BWXT is subcontracting that recycling work to another vendor.
According to Linehan, Y-12 ends up with these components because it's sometimes easier and safer to ship warhead assemblies as a package - rather than breaking them down into parts at Pantex.
Duratek Inc., which operates a nuclear-waste processing facility in Oak Ridge, has handled some of these recycling projects in the past. But Y-12 officials would not confirm whether Duratek is doing the work on the Minuteman re-entry vehicles - apparently because of classification concerns.
When Y-12 workers disassemble warhead parts, materials to be reused - such as the enriched uranium - are placed in secure storage. Other materials are targeted for disposal.
Bill Wilburn, a BWXT spokesman, confirmed that a limited amount of classified waste is disposed of at Y-12, but most of it is transported to the Nevada Test Site for burial there.
Linehan said the Oak Ridge plant already has shipped almost 10,000 cubic feet of warhead waste to NTS this year. That was the original target for the entire year, so the plant likely will exceed that goal, he said.
The number of people working full time on dismantlement is only 20-30, Linehan said, but that number is sort of misleading. Many others at Y-12 support the effort, ranging from those who work in weapon receipts and disposition to those in security and environmental monitoring.
Y-12 doesn't necessarily dismantle the oldest warheads first, Linehan said. It depends on the hazards involved and the size of the components. "Some systems take up more space than others," he said.
Linehan is an electrical engineer by training. He recently returned to Y-12 after a six-month assignment in Washington, D.C., where he served as a liaison between Y-12 and the National Nuclear Security Administration. He said he's proud and happy to be involved in the dismantlement effort.
"This is a great program," he said. "It's very rewarding in the fact that you get to see tangible results. It's definitely serving a national need."
1. Russia: Decommissioned Submarine Reactors May Be Used At Floating Power Plants
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The reactors of decommissioned nuclear submarines may be used to equip the power generating unit of a floating low-capacity thermal power plant.
"It is much more effective from an economic standpoint both for the energy sector and the fleet itself," Atomic Energy Institute director Anatoly Yeperin told Interfax.
"We are planning to build two specialized twin-pontoons that will be connected later. Each of them will be equipped with a reactor," Yeperin said. The capacity of such reactors will not exceed 120 megawatts, he said.
"If a pilot project to be implemented at the Sevmashpredpriyatiye enterprise in Severodvinsk is successful and if the required amount of financing is available, the Russian Atomic Energy Agency may order a few more such stations in the future," he said.
2. Russia disposes of 61 nuke-powered subs since 2002
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Russia has disposed of 61 nuclear-powered submarines since 2002, including 17 with international assistance, Director of the Foreign Ministry’s Security and Disarmament Department Anatoly Antonov told Itar-Tass.
Being the G8 chairman, Russia “carries on the Global Partnership against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction,” which was launched at the Kananaskis summit in 2002, he said.
“It is a matter of allocating $20 billion within ten years for cooperation priorities, including the disposal of decommissioned nuclear-powered submarines, chemical weapons and fissile materials, and the employment of former weapon-makers,” he said.
G8 financial commitments until 2012 include $2 billion of Russia, $10 billion of the United States, 1.5 billion euros of Germany, one billion euros of the European Union, one billion euros of Italy, 750 million euros of Italy, $750 million of the United Kingdom, $650 million of Canada, and $200 million of Japan.
The Global Partnership “has brought results for Russia,” Antonov said. Russia has received $313.48 million for the disposal of decommissioned submarines and $373.69 million for chemical disarmament since 2002. Partners have helped Russia to commission two chemical disarmament facilities in Gorny in the Saratov region and Kambarka in Udmurtia. Another chemical disarmament facility is being built in Shchuchye in the Kurgan region. “Further assistance is possible,” the diplomat said.
The Russian budget has assigned over $1 billion for chemical disarmament since 2002, he said.
1. U.S. Committed to Transparency in Chemical Weapons Destruction; State's Javits says technical issues slow chemical weapons destruction efforts
Jacquelyn S. Porth
U.S. Department of State/Bureau of International Information Programs
(for personal use only)
U.S. Ambassador Eric Javits says that despite a recent request to extend its deadline for the complete elimination of its chemical weapons stockpile, the United States is committed to “the fullest possible transparency” of its chemical weapons destruction process.
Javits, head of the U.S. delegation to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), told delegates at The Hague attending the 45th executive council session in the Netherlands May 16 that the United States remains fully supportive of the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).
Not only is the United States dedicated to the success of the CWC, he said, but also to the success of the OPCW “as a model of effective multilateral action against an entire category of weapons of mass destruction.”
In April, the United States requested a five-year extension for 100 percent disposal of its chemical weapons stockpile, shifting its planned completion date from April 2007 to April 2012. (See related article.)
Javits said the United States will strive to achieve its goal of eliminating its entire stockpile of chemical weapons by the new deadline, or, if that turns out not to be possible, it will complete the process “as soon as feasible thereafter.” (See related article.)
He said the request for a deadline extension asserts the United States is doing everything that it can to meet the 2012 deadline, but that “our best projections indicate that the U.S. destruction effort will likely extend beyond that date.” The treaty’s success “is not dictated by the technical and political vagaries that have slowed various destruction efforts,” he said, but its ultimate success remains in the hands of the collective signatories, with each nation responsible for implementing its own national program for destruction of chemical weapons.
Javits also said that a country that has been diligent but not fully successful in meeting its destruction deadline should “not be regarded in the same way as a State Party that has made little or no effort” to comply. The U.S. Army, he said, began destroying its chemical weapons stockpile years before the convention ever entered into force. By the time all its chemical weapons are destroyed, he said, the United States will have spent $35 billion on this effort.
The United Sates also has provided money and assistance to other nations intent on destroying their own chemical weapons stockpiles. In 2006, U.S. officials made two technical visits to Asia in conjunction with the OPCW Technical Secretariat. Additional assistance visits and information-sharing meetings to three African nations, five countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, one in Asia and one in Eastern Europe also are planned, he said.
Javits said the United States and Romania have developed an implementation assistance program and offered it to other nations in English; Spanish and French versions of the program are expected soon, he added.
Vice Premier Sergey Ivanov received in his native city a German military delegation headed by Defense Minister Franz-Josef Jung. (passage omitted)
This was our vice premier's third meeting with Franz-Josef Jung. So the talk was mainly of an official nature. The leaders of the Russian and German military departments had virtually no differences of opinion on the Iranian nuclear dossier.
It is worth recalling that it was the Germans who started the construction of the nuclear power station in the Iranian city of Bushehr. And the charge against Russia that it is thus allegedly helping Tehran create nuclear weapons could indirectly also be leveled at the FRG. Yesterday Ivanov confirmed yet again that our country is observing its WMD nonproliferation commitments extremely strictly, and Jung did not contradict him.
Russia's military contacts with the Bundeswehr deserve to be spoken of warmly. Not ardently, but warmly, since we are not rushing into each other's arms, but we do not harbor ill-will toward each other either. In the fall German Air Force and Russian ship crews will jointly patrol the Mediterranean under the NATO Active Endeavor program.
It is with NATO that several problems in Russian-German military dialogue are linked. It is no secret that our army department is seriously perturbed by plans to deploy the bloc's missile defense systems in East Europe. Yesterday your correspondent asked Mr Jung whether these plans have been agreed with Russia. In response the minister tried to link the creation of the new European missile defense frontier with the terrorist threat. Frankly, his explanation sounded incoherent. Bringing antimissiles up to our border to deter Iraq (as published) or North Korea is like using a new Berlin wall to protect yourself against the pariah states. After all, NATO weaponry has been and will remain a long way from Iran (as published) and North Korea. On the other hand, it will be right next to Russia. It is not hard to understand against whom it will really be targeted.
2. Russia: Defense Minister Tells Putin of State Armaments Spending Program
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The Russian Military Industrial Commission will meet on June 2 to discuss a draft program of state armaments for 2007-2015, Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov told President Vladimir Putin on Monday.
Under the draft, 4 trillion 939 billion rubles will be allocated for the program. 4 trillion will go directly toward defense needs, he said.
The Defense Ministry, the main author of the program, proceeded from the national defense policy and the armed forces development plan, Ivanov said.
"While the previous program focused on the development of NIOKR (scientific research and experiments), the new one is more oriented toward serial arms purchases," he said, adding that these purchases would account for 63% of the program's budget.
The program is designed to support the development of strategic nuclear forces and other branches.
Starting from 2007, a planned re-equipment of individual troop units will begin, Ivanov said.
Speaking about state defense procurement, he noted that priority would be given to firms that would procure the army with what it needs, above all, high-tech products.
3. Engage in Arms Race and Lose. Strategic Offensive Potentials Consume Lion's Share of Funds Allocated for National Defense
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Russian Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov stated during his speech at the State Duma Wednesday (24 May) that Russia's defense budget would reach 800 billion rubles (R) in 2007. At the same time, he pointed out that there will be no militarization of the budget; instead, the program of targeted allocation of funds will be introduced for the first time, which will lead to "qualitative changes in the Armed Forces."
The switching of 70 percent of personnel to a contract footing and the purchasing of new weapons should probably be regarded as the qualitative changes. R667 billion was earmarked for national defense in 2006. The Defense Ministry will receive R573 billion out of this amount, including R225 billion for the procurement of new weapons. A lion's share of this money will be spent on strategic weapons -- the purchase of six Topol-M missiles, the construction of nuclear powered submarines and two Tu-160 strategic bombers, and the maintenance of the nuclear arsenal. The building of the Bulava universal ICBM also costs a lot of money.
All these weapons are useless in Chechnya: They will be of no help in the fight against international terrorism posing a real threat to Russia's security. These are strategic deterrence weapons that can only be used against the same kinds of weapons. Meanwhile, only the United States has similar amounts of these weapons. The 15 years that have passed since the end of the Cold War caused a new cooling of relations between the two powers. It is no accident that the president paid such a great attention to the Armed Forces in his address to the Federal Assembly. He stated directly: "The stronger the Armed Forces, the weaker the temptation to dictate one's terms."
BOTh the United States and Russia are building up strength. However, the United States not only spends one-half of the world's aggregate defense budget; it also uses its funds more frugally. For instance, it builds only Virginia class attack submarines and extends the service life of the Ohio class missile submarines. Meanwhile, Russia laid down a Borey class strategic missile submarine, a guided missile submarine of the Antey class, and a multipurpose submarine of the Yasen class. The last submarine that was built and commissioned in the Northern Fleet belonged to the Shchuka-B class. It is absolutely clear that lack of standardization substantially increases both production and maintenance costs. After all, each of these submarines needs its own moor, training ground, armaments, and many other things.
Tu-160 long-range strategic bombs are parked idle on the ground. They occasionally take off to perform training flights. Each flight costs millions rather than hundreds of thousands of rubles. There are 14 bombers of this type in long-range aviation units, but there will be 16 of them soon. It does not matter whether we have 10 or 100 of them, for they will not be sent on patrol missions with nuclear weapons onboard anyway. However, money is spent on their production and maintenance all the same.
There has been a lot of talk about the Bulava missile, which should be used both on land and at sea. The Borey class submarines are being built to deploy these missiles, which do not yet exist. They will subsequently replace the UR-100N UTTKh ballistic missiles in silos, although these missiles' service life could be extended for another 15 years and their well-organized production process has been in place for a long time now.
All the indications are that a strategic arms race has come to replace the period of arms reduction. The three-page US-Russian agreement signed in 2002 and envisioning the reduction of the US and Russian strategic offensive potentials can be observed only given mutual trust between the two powers. When relations cool off, the effectiveness of agreements drops, moreover, this happens much faster than a drop in trust. This immediately gives rise to militant rhetoric and a sharp increase in funding for purchasing strategic arms.
The arms race that was imposed on the Soviet Union in the 1970s-1980s undermined its economy and resulted in the breakup of the state. It left behind a heritage of a colossal defense industry complex demanding military orders. A competition of the US and Russian defense industry complexes is about to start again. Monopoly concerns are being set up in Russia in the form of vertically integrated structures (holding companies), which are actively lobbying for their financial interests. So far, they have kept their appetite at the level of 2.7 percent of GDP allocated for national defense, but it will be insufficient for them soon.
4. Nuclear cruiser Admiral Nakhimov included in State Arms Program
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The repairs should take 3-4 years. The spent nuclear fuel unloading could be started a few years ago, but the due to the financial problems it has not happened and this stops all the works. The workers can only dismantle the equipment and send it to the manufacturers for repairs.
The interim overhaul includes the new computerised equipment, which should be installed instead of the old radio-electronic equipment. Besides, the Granit (Shipwwreck) missile system will be changed for a newer system. The new system is ready for installation at the Russian Oskar-II nuclear submarines, the same will be installed at the cruiser, which is expecting nuclear fuel reloading at the Sevmash plant now.
The Russian Heavy Missile Cruise Ship, Project 1144.2 Kirov Class was built by the Baltic Shipyard in Saint Petersburg. The Kirov Class provides the capability to engage large surface ships and to defend the fleet against air and submarine attack. Four cruisers were built but only Admiral Nakhimov (commissioned in 1988) and Pyotr Velikhiy (commissioned in 1995) remain active.
1. US, Japan prepare for controversial smuggling drill
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The US and Japan were due to carry out a reduced version of an international anti-smuggling drill on Monday after China and South Korea pulled out apparently through fear of offending North Korea.
The US cutter Sequoia left Shanghai for Japanese waters, where it will be engaged by the Japanese coast guard in a mock operation later on Monday.
"As of today China and South Korea have not participated in the drill," said Akihisa Watanabe, an official at the Japan Coast Guard's guard and rescue division.
"The statements of both countries explaining the reason for the cancellation say that unexpected other tasks just came up," he said.
But diplomats in Beijing said China was concerned about upsetting its ally North Korea, which is widely suspected of proliferating weapons and is boycotting six-nation talks on ending its nuclear drive.
China and South Korea both refused to take part in another US-backed drill in October 2004 in Japanese waters, which the United States had called a warning to North Korea.
Japan, which organized the latest drill, said it was not part of the Proliferation Security Initiative which covered the 2004 exercises.
In a last-ditch bid to persuade neighboring countries to take part, the Japan Coast Guard revised the description of the drill to say it would simulate capturing a ship "engaged in smuggling goods and people."
The original statement had said the ship would be "carrying weapons of mass destruction."
China has hosted the six-nation nuclear talks, which have been at a standstill since November as North Korea demands the lifting of US financial sanctions over counterfeiting and money-laundering.
South Korea has increasingly clashed with the US line on North Korea and favors engaging its estranged neighbor through trade and aid.
The South Korean coast guard said it objected to Japan's reference to weapons of mass destruction.
"The Korea Coast Guard raised the issue and asked for a delay of the drill, but the request was not accepted. So it decided not to participate," it said in a statement.
2. Six-nation sea drill delayed after Chinese objections
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First-of-a-kind maritime exercises involving the United States and China were delayed Saturday, a Japanese official said, amid Beijing's objections to the focus on seizing weapons of mass destruction.
"The US Coast Guard ship, which is the first to move in the exercise, hasn't left a Shanghai port," said Akihisa Watanabe, an official at the Japan Coast Guard's guard and rescue division.
He said the exact reason for the delay was unclear due to a problem with the communication system.
Chinese officials said Friday they would not participate in the exercises, which would be the first time China would take part in such drills with five other northern Pacific nations -- Canada, Japan, Russia, South Korea, and the United States.
The drills, which were proposed last year by Japan, were to begin Saturday in Shanghai and last until Thursday in the eastern Russian port of Vladivostok.
"We still hope China will participate. But I would say the likelihood of China's participation is bleak, from what I feel from the whole atmosphere," Watanabe told AFP.
A Japanese coast guard statement revised Friday said the exercises were meant to simulate capturing a ship "engaged in smuggling goods and people."
The original statement had said the ship would be "carrying weapons of mass destruction."
Diplomats in Beijing suspected that China was concerned about upsetting its ally North Korea, which is widely suspected of proliferating weapons and is boycotting six-nation talks on ending its nuclear drive.
The exercise was reportedly meant to be an informal part of the US-led Proliferation Security Initiative, which aims to track and intercept on the high seas ships suspected of carrying weapons of mass destruction.
China has not signed on to the initiative and with South Korea shunned its October 2004 exercise in Japanese waters that was designed as a signal to North Korea.
The Sequoia on May 21 became the first US Coast Guard cutter to visit China and was scheduled to take part in the exercise.
3. With all eyes on neighboring Iran, 34 countries kick off exercise against WMD in Turkey
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In a drill, Turkish commandos rappelled from military helicopters onto a merchant ship that mock intelligence said was carrying weapons of mass destruction. U.S. commandos raced to join them from a nearby warship.
The exercise Friday, with 34 countries participating, was a practice session to prepare for intercepting weapons materials before they reach a country like Iran, Turkey's neighbor.
Officials say cooperation-building exercises like this are crucial to keeping Iran or other countries from receiving shipments of materials that they could use to help build a nuclear weapon.
The drills began when a merchant ship left the Turkish port of Antalya without permission. Urgent intelligence reports then said the ship was carrying "smuggled materials." It was assumed they were weapons materials on their way to a hostile country.
Warships from the United States, Turkey, France and Portugal raced into the open seas and surrounded the civilian ship about 25 miles into the Mediterranean. Turkish helicopters taking off from the TCG Gaziantep warship engaged and chased off a civilian helicopter that was apparently trying to unload cargo from the civilian merchant vessel.
French and U.S. maritime patrol planes were also dispatched to monitor the area.
Once the merchant ship was secured and boarded by Turkish commandos from the air and American commandos from the sea via a motorboat, chemical teams boarded and began to search the ship. They eventually found a container said to be carrying chemicals for weapons, which was decontaminated when the ship was returned to port.
Officials from Turkey's atomic energy association, bomb destruction teams, police and customs agents also participated in the exercise, which included additional scenarios of searching vehicles carrying suspected weapons materials to an airport and a land customs gate.
Observers were hosted above a Turkish naval frigate the TCG Barbaros for the exercise, which is said to be the largest so far of the Proliferation Security Initiative, or PSI, a program started in 2003 by President Bush.
Though officials have repeatedly said the exercise is not aimed at any specific country, all eyes are on Iran, which is not likely to see the hosting of the nonproliferation exercise as a friendly move by its Muslim neighbor.
Countries bordering Iran, including Persian Gulf countries and Turkey, have come under increasing pressure recently to cooperate with the U.S. and pressure the Islamic Republic to give up what the U.S. says is a secret nuclear weapons program.
Analysts say the exercise will not only help increase preparedness for stopping illegal shipments that Iran could use in a weapons program, but the show of multinational forces cooperating in Turkey will send the message that most of the world is united against Iran possessing those weapons.
"Iran already has most of what it needs for a nuclear weapon, but it continues to try to procure foreign components that would allow it to reach that capability faster and better," said Mark Fitzpatrick, a senior fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has credited PSI with several successes already in intercepting shipments of missile and nuclear technology headed to Iran, but she did not elaborate on details.
PSI, however, is only one crucial part of a massive effort needed to prevent proliferation, said Charles Ferguson, fellow for science and technology at the U.S.-based Council on Foreign Relations.
"My view is that PSI fills the gaps," Ferguson said. "The borders are porous in so many different areas, that's why we can't rely exclusively on PSI ... We also need to rely on more traditional tools such as export control, IAEA inspections and diplomacy."
Ferguson said nonproliferation efforts concentrated too long on state-to-state transfers of technology and materials until Abdul Qadeer Khan, the founder of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program, admitted in 2004 to passing nuclear technology to other countries, showing that the dangerous game also involved individuals or small groups and was getting more complex.
Pakistan shares a long border with Iran.
Officials from 34 countries observed or participated in Friday's exercise either from a naval ship or by computer, as militaries cooperated to track, board, search and disable suspect vessels.
There have been more than a dozen previous PSI exercises held in other countries, though Turkey says this one was the largest yet.
When South Korea agreed to participate in an earlier PSI exercise, North Korea, also believed to have a clandestine nuclear weapons program, called it a "war crime" and threatened all-out nuclear war.
1. Cooperation Vital to Prevention of Nuclear Smuggling, U.S. Says
U.S. Department of State/Bureau of International Information Programs
(for personal use only)
International cooperation is vital to the prevention of nuclear smuggling, U.S. officials from the departments of State, Homeland Security and Energy told a congressional panel May 25.
“The risk of nuclear terrorism is not limited to the United States, and the success of our efforts to detect and deter nuclear smuggling is very much dependent on whether our foreign partners share a common recognition of the threat and a willingness to combat it,” said David Huizenga of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).
The hearing was convened by a panel of the Homeland Security Committee of the House of Representatives.
Huizenga and other Bush administration officials discussed international efforts to prevent the smuggling of nuclear materials, including U.S. programs such as the Container Security Initiative (CSI) and Megaports. They focused particularly on how better to enlist the cooperation of other countries.
Committee members stated their concerns about problems such as corruption, foreign inspection protocols, the operation of nuclear detection equipment, and its vulnerability to tampering.
CSI AND MEGAPORTS
CSI, which is operated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), is designed to prevent the smuggling of terrorists or terrorist weapons in ocean-going cargo containers. Specially trained U.S. customs agents are deployed in major non-U.S. ports to identify U.S.-destined cargo containers that pose a potential risk. Those containers receive a pre-screening inspection by local customs officials prior to departure.
The Megaports Initiative complements CSI. Created by the NNSA, the goal of Megaports is stopping illicit shipments of nuclear and other radioactive material through the installation of radiation monitoring equipment at non-U.S. borders, seaports, airports and nuclear facilities, mostly in the former Soviet Union, according to Huizenga.
In fiscal year 2005, CBP processed more than 431 million passengers, more than 121 million land border passenger vehicles, 1 million aircraft, 113,325 vessels, and more than 25 million sea, rail and truck containers, according to Jayson Ahern, CBP’s assistant commissioner for field operations.
He added that in the same period, more than 11.3 million seagoing containers arrived at U.S. seaports, and all those thought to pose a risk -- 90,000 -- were examined by means of radiation screening, nonintrusive X-ray inspection or physical examination.
Currently 44 non-U.S. ports participate in CSI, covering 75 percent of maritime containerized cargo shipped to the United States. CBP expects that these numbers will rise to 58 ports and 85 percent of maritime containerized cargo by the end of 2007.
It will not be possible to bring all 704 ports that ship to the United States into CSI because of the expense, Ahern said.
CBP has 225 radiation portal monitors deployed at U.S. seaports screening 57 percent of sea-borne containers for radiological materials. The ultimate goal is to screen 100 percent of all high-risk people, cargo and conveyances for radiation, Ahern said.
He said 14 ports currently are participating in the Megaports program. Ten more countries are close to signing Megaports agreements, and another 10 “are in various stages of discussions.” The Megaports program aims eventually to scan at least 40 percent of global traffic at 70 seaports around the world.
CHALLENGES TO MEGAPORTS
Some members of the committee wanted to know why more countries have not joined the program.
Part of the reason is that Megaports is “significantly more intrusive” than CSI, explained Vayl Oxford, director of the domestic nuclear detection office in the Department of Homeland Security.
For example, Megaports requires host countries to notify U.S. officials of detections or seizures made as a result of the equipment provided by the United States, a commitment that might “touch on sensitive national security and sovereignty matters,” Huizenga explained. Oxford characterized the “challenge of negotiating with our foreign partners” as “key.”
He told the committee: “If we cannot talk to the right people and get agreements into place, progress overseas will slow dramatically. Therefore, we need to change the way we approach our partners overseas and we need to change who we approach.”
Francis Record, acting assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation, told the committee the State Department is developing a new nuclear smuggling initiative designed to assess and address country-specific risks. “These assessments address the capabilities of host governments to prevent, detect, and prosecute illicit trafficking in nuclear and radiological material,” he said.
If problems are identified, a U.S. interagency team engages with officials in the at-risk country to agree on a list of priority projects aimed at closing the capability gaps.
“In combating nuclear smuggling and terrorism, we cannot remain content with one-size-fits-all global approaches,” Record said. “We must ensure that our strategies, initiatives and plans are tailored to the specific conditions prevailing within our partner countries.”
The texts of the witnesses’ prepared statements are available on the Web site of the House Homeland Security Committee.
Market experts note the growing interest of Russian businessmen to coal and uranium assets. The demand on uranium is forecast to double to the annual 28,000 metric tons in Russia. Uranium reserves in Mongolia are estimated at 1.4 million metric tons, and a key deposit is situated not far from Tavan-Tolgoy. The Mongolian uranium may also seem lucrative for Vladimir Potanin who is now negotiating his share in uranium projects in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
Talks on the Tavan-Tolgoy will proceed at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in mid-June.
Nuclear power landed its own top-level political guardian as President Vladimir Putin's chief of staff, Sergei Sobyanin, was named chairman of the industry's fuel monopoly, TVEL.
TVEL is slated to serve as a platform for a vertically integrated state holding that will come to control all the enterprises that make up the country's nuclear power industry.
The presidential administration is currently reviewing a bill that will approve the transformation of the sector into a corporate, market-driven structure.
TVEL's board voted in Sobyanin as chairman at a board meeting Friday, the company said on its web site.
He joins the ranks of other Kremlin officials who chair key industrial enterprises.
Sobyanin's deputy, Igor Sechin, is the board chairman of state oil major Rosneft, while First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev is the chairman of Gazprom.
A former chief of staff to Putin, Alexander Voloshin, is the chairman of the country's top utility firm, Unified Energy Systems.
Industry insiders and analysts said the appointment signaled that the proposals to transform the nuclear power industry into a corporation had the president's approval. Sobyanin's role would be to oversee the process and monitor large investments flowing into the industry from the state and possibly the private sector, they said.
Sergei Kiriyenko, the head of the Federal Atomic Energy Agency, has said Russia will need $60 billion over the next 20 years to build 40 nuclear reactors across the country. Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller last month said the company saw the nuclear sector as having investment potential.
Sobyanin's appointment was "a sign of the serious attention the state is giving to the development of the atomic industry," Kiriyenko said in a statement Monday.
TVEL would form "the basis for the atomic sector," Kiriyenko said.
"This is consistent with the government's moves in what it considers to be strategic industries," said Chris Weafer, chief strategist of Alfa Bank.
Seen as strong economic and geopolitical levers, these strategic industries are earmarked for large state financial support after the 2008 presidential elections, Weafer said.
"For the government, it is critical that they have direct control before they put resources into a business," Weafer said.
TVEL and state firm Technabexport, or Tenex, coordinate all the country's sales of nuclear fuel and uranium enrichment services.
Last year, nuclear fuel sales alone earned Russia $2.4 billion, according to Tenex figures.
The combined annual revenues of the nuclear power industry's top four enterprises -- TVEL, Tenex, generation firm Rosenergoatom and construction firm Atomstroiexport -- are about $5 billion.
The development of the nuclear sector is on the agenda in Russia. After a lengthy interval, the state is placing a long-awaited order for a big job:
-- the augmentation of the capacity of the domestic nuclear power-engineering sector (the construction of close to 40 reactors for nuclear power plants by 2030);
-- the establishment of a claim to 20 percent of the world market for nuclear power plant construction services (the construction of about 60 nuclear power units abroad by 2030);
-- the establishment of four types of international centers within Russia for the performance of nuclear fuel cycle services.
It is clear that the attainment of these objectives will require colossal administrative work and the mobilization of all existing and new physical and human resources. We have to wonder whether we are ready to do this. What kind of mechanisms will we have to set in motion to feel secure in our ability to do this? We must assess the current level of our readiness, make plans, and begin working toward this goal.
This will require coordinated work by the sector and the regions. Russia expects the regions participating in this "second atomic project" to provide all of the construction teams with accommodations and everything else they need and to train new personnel. Besides this, comfortable living conditions will have to be established for personnel arriving in the regions to work at the new facilities.
The attainment of these objectives will affect the future appearance of cities and adjacent territories. We must keep the processes in these territories under control. The new program for the development of nuclear power engineering must be supplemented with a "territorial" subprogram, envisaging the distribution of productive forces, the training of personnel, the establishment of the social infrastructure, and the acquisition of all the resources needed for these purposes.
We can analyze the cities located near existing nuclear power plants.
Russia now has 10 operating nuclear power plants. Most of their personnel live in the cities where the plants are located. People with a direct or indirect connection to nuclear power engineering and their relatives live in those same cities.
For each of them, it is important to know what the residents of the "atomic" cities can expect in 10, 20, or 30 years. This is equally important to the "active" (working) segment of the population of these cities and to the younger generation.
The administrative reform conducted in Russia turned all 10 cities into autonomous municipal entities (nearby rural territories are no longer within their zone of administrative influence, so there is no longer any need for the patronage of these territories).
The new municipal governing bodies are supposed to draw up long-range plans for the development of their cities, with a view to all external and internal factors (or to create visions of the future). The welfare of these cities and the "comfort coefficient" of the population's living conditions will depend on the right planning strategy. The strategic plans should answer questions about the future of these cities and about the conditions under which the future will conform to current plans.
We will attempt a factor analysis and categorization of the "atomic" cities (see table).
The "atomic" cities have a mission to perform, and they will be performing it as long as possible: The production of energy for the national economy. As the table indicates, however, the failure to replace ageing facilities will leave only three cities capable of performing this mission after July 2030 -- Balakovo, Volgodonsk, and Udomlya (where the "youngest" nuclear power plants are located). If nuclear power engineering were not to be developed, the other seven cities would have to change their "specialty" (shut down their nuclear power plants, mothball and recycle various elements of these plants, and develop other production units instead of specializing in energy production). If the development of the situation in these cities is not kept under control, they could suffer the same fate as the Crimean city of Shchelkino, which was deserted by its residents in the 15 years after the construction work on the Crimean nuclear power plant stopped. It has fallen into ruins through neglect and has been abandoned to the whims of fate by Crimean officials. The only current prospects for its development are connected with tourism, which is of a seasonal nature. In essence, Shchelkino has ceased to be a city and is an extremely unfavorable location for permanent residence.
Although the Russian Government has begun making long-term plans for three years in advance, the strategic planning of the socioeconomic development of the "atomic" cities for 10, 20, and 30 years in advance certainly is not a mere exercise in "projection." The reason is that the life cycle of enterprises in the nuclear sector is at least 50 years.
In view of the fact that nuclear power plants are infrastructural enterprises, in the sense that the national economy depends on their work, the planning of their operations for 10, 20, or 30 years in advance is the state's job. Consequently, the socioeconomic development of the locations of these plants must also be planned.
In addition, the cities have grown since the time our existing nuclear power plants began to be built, and it would be difficult to define them as "satellites" of the nuclear plants today. Of course, we have to admit that they still depend on the nuclear power plants to a considerable extent. In fact, this was the "weak spot" of these cities as objects of long-term socioeconomic planning.
We can single out and describe groups of cities with similar characteristics:
1. Balakovo and Volgodonsk.
2. Novovoronezh, Sosnovyy Bor, Kurchatov, Zarechnyy, and Udomlya.
3. Desnogorsk and Polyarnyye Zori.
The cities of the first group pose the greatest difficulties in long-range (strategic) planning, because they have an existing production and social infrastructure and existing problems, which could slow down the attainment of long-range objectives to a considerable extent. The attainment of new objectives will entail the resolution of an entire series of long-standing problems. In spite of this, these cities have an advantage over the others, because they already have a developed production and social infrastructure, diversified production, and sufficient human resources. There is no question that these cities could become centers of nuclear power plant construction.
The cities of the second group are the most conducive to strategic planning. They can move in any direction in their development.
Their proximity to large populated communities and transport hubs and corridors qualifies them for any type of production, including nuclear power plant construction. The relatively new infrastructure in these cities lowers the cost of accommodating new specialists arriving here.
The cities of the third group have a less promising future because of their "unfavorable" geographic location. They probably will be far away from future centers of the new economy and centers of the innovation infrastructure (primarily because of their distance from the future hubs of the transport infrastructure and the future large educational and informational complexes -- i.e., their distance from today's oblast centers). Because of this, the construction of nuclear power plants in these cities will require relatively large investments in the infrastructure.
The city in the fourth group, Bilibino, is doomed to seek ways of surviving. After the Bilibino nuclear power plant has been shut down, gold mining in that region could become less profitable, while life in the city could become much more expensive. This will motivate the population to move to other regions (primarily the nuclear specialists), and this could cause the country to "lose" the city.
We need territorial strategic plans, which should be coordinated with the new plans for the development of the country, the nuclear sector, and nuclear power engineering. The failure to pay sufficient attention to this matter could lead to a whole series of specific problems for the country and the sector (above all, these could include a personnel shortage and social friction).
The development of nuclear power engineering will have a favorable effect on the socioeconomic development of territories. This will not happen immediately. In fact, we cannot even hope for a favorable impact unless we take the situation in hand.
In summation, I want to point out the following:
-- the plans to build nuclear power plants can only be carried out if construction takes place on several sites simultaneously (at least three) and if we begin making the preparations now;
-- cities must be ready to accommodate teams of builders and new personnel, as well as their families, and all of these people must be provided with the comforts and conveniences of life without any delays or interruptions;
-- broad-scale and goal-oriented personnel training must begin now;
-- we will need forecasts of the living conditions in each of the cities as soon as the reactors for the nuclear power plants have been built.
In other words, we need a "territorial" program to supplement the new plan for the development of the country's nuclear power-engineering sector.
The regions are ready to be part of this atomic project, which is certain to benefit the country and all of the Russian people.
4. Nuclear Waste Plant Chief Dismissed for Major Pollution Reinstated
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Vitaly Sadovnikov, director of the Mayak nuclear waste processing plant, returns to his former post only three months after being dismissed for a breach of safety rules that led to the dumping of radioactive waste in rivers.
Russia’s chief nuclear official Sergey Kiriyenko on Monday told the press he had reinstated Sadovnikov in his office, Prime-Tass agency said.
“The Prosecutor’s Office charges against Sadovnikov have been settled,” Kiriyenko said.
In March, the court in the Ural Mountains city of Yekaterinburg determined that Vitaly Sadovnikov, the director of the Mayak plant, could not remain in his post.
The Russian Prosecutor General’s office said that he had sanctioned the dumping of tens of millions of cubic meters of liquid radioactive waste into the Techa river in 2001-2004, even though the facility had enough money to prevent it.
Instead of preventing the damage to the environment, Sadovnikov had spent the money on maintaining an office in the Russian capital and on lump payments made to himself.
However on May, 11 the case was closed due to an amnesty declared to mark the State Duma’s 100th anniversary.
Mayak, located near the Ural Mountain city of Chelyabinsk, about 1,500 kilometers (950 miles) east of Moscow, produced nuclear weapons during Soviet times and is now Russia’s main nuclear waste processing plant. Some environmentalists say the area around it is among the most contaminated on the planet.
5. Russia To Build $10-$15-Bln Nuclear Reprocessing Plant
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Russia plans to build a new reprocessing plant for spent nuclear fuel costing $10 billion-$15 billion in Zheleznogorsk.
"This has been written down on paper - the creation of a management company," Alexei Lebedev, deputy general director of Techsnabexport, told Interfax.
"It will be a new plant at the Zheleznogorsk mining and chemicals complex," he said.
"The plant will cost $10 billion-$15 billion. Its first stage has actually been launched, and work has begun on a dry storage facility, mostly for Russian fuel. A reprocessing plant should eventually appear next to it," Lebedev said. The wholly state-owned Techsnabexport is Russia's main exporter of nuclear industry products and services and controls an estimated 40% of the world market for these products and services.
6. Russia To Speed Up Construction of Fast Breeding Reactor
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The Sverdlovsk regional government and the administration of the Federal Agency of Atomic Energy (Rosatom) have made the decision on the completion and launch in six years of a new fast breeding reactor, BN-800, at the Beloyarskaya nuclear power plant, Rosatom chief Sergei Kiriyenko said.
"The government has slated in the budget 57 billion roubles for this purpose, and the real financing will be opened as early as in a week," Kiriyenko said.
"All contracts and agreements have been signed," he added.
Kiriyenko, who visited the Beloyarskaya plant on Monday, said that the "BN-800 energy unit is a unit of the future of Russia's nuclear power engineering".
"Even in recognition of the Americans, we are ahead of all the rest of highly developed states of the world in this field, and we must not lose this advantage," he said.
"We begin the real construction, fulfilling the programme of development of nuclear power engineering on a rigid schedule".
"There has been only an imitation of the Beloyarskaya plant construction before this moment, because very little funds were allocated," Kiriyenko said. He thanked the Russian parliament's lower house and United Russia party for the interest they had shown in the project and their support to plans of Rosatom.
Costs of the new energy unit are 57 billion roubles, Kiriyenko said.
The Beloyarskaya plant is Russia's only nuclear energy facility combining graphite channel and fast breeding reactors at which new technical solutions are tested for the nuclear energy sector.
The decision to build the Beloyarskaya nuclear power plant with graphite reactors ABM-100 and ABM-200 in the Urals was made in 1955. The construction of the two energy units of Russia's first industrial nuclear power plant began in 1958.
The first reactor produced initial electric energy for the Sverdlovsk region in 1964.
The second reactor was put in operation three years later.
The reactors worked for respectively 17 and 21 years and were stopped. In April 1980, the world's largest fast breeding reactor BN-600 with a 600-megawatt capacity was launched, to remain a priority in Russia's nuclear energy sector.
The design of BN-600 will be used as a basis of the BN-800 reactor, the construction of which is underway.
The new fast breeder will use the radioactive element with the longest lifetime, plutonium, from spent nuclear fuel of reactors of other types. Experts say that storage of a remaining portion of spent fuel will thus be completely safe.
Besides, the new reactor can be used to "burn" weapons-grade plutonium from decommissioned missiles.
Enlarging the Beloyarskaya nuclear power plant with new-generation fast reactors is planned in prospect.
7. Three-Year Wait for Register. White House Discusses Russian Fuel and Energy Complex's Problems
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The latest session of the government commission for questions concerning the fuel and energy complex and the regeneration of the mineral and raw material base took place yesterday (23 May).
Opening the session, Government Chairman Mikhail Fradkov reported that questions concerning technological support for the fuel and energy complex and the state of affairs in the mineral and raw material base will be submitted to the Russian Security Council for consideration in the second 10-day period of June. The premier himself will deliver the report and by all accounts it will not be possible to describe the picture painted by him as rosy.
Very recently the Russian Federation President's Message to the Federal Assembly said that the power industry (just like the entire Russian economy as a whole) must be made competitive by bridging the existing gap in the fuel and energy complex's level of technological equipment compared with that of partners abroad. Reminding members of the government commission of this, Mikhail Fradkov ended: "It is obvious that the Russian power industry and economy have been traditionally oriented toward our own energy sources; in the foreseeable future economic development will depend on the stable functioning of the power industry and its mineral and raw material base." In his opinion, Russia's role as a world supplier of energy sources must not be underestimated either. "We have well-known commitments to foreign partners and declared intentions, on whose fulfillment Russia's international prestige will depend," the prime minister said. Last year the government approved a long-term program to study mineral resources and to regenerate the mineral and raw material base, thanks to which, according to Fradkov, "we now have a 'road map' for the development of the power industry's raw material base; it sets main strategic objectives and these objectives are not easy."
The government chairman believes that in the atomic energy sphere it is necessary to concentrate on solving the most important problem (which is, incidentally, characteristic not only of Russia) -- that demand for uranium considerably exceeds its production volumes. Serious attention, the premier said, must be devoted to the prospects of using coal reserves: "We have 33% of the world's coal reserves but Russia accounts for 5% of world extraction." Mikhail Fradkov believes that legislation concerning the use of mineral resources and the monitoring of the rational utilization of mineral resources needs further improvement. "We have to solve the problems holding back the development of the raw material base, find the tools to satisfy domestic needs, and increase export potential," the head of government said.
According to source in the government, the problem of ratifying the Energy Charter signed between the Russian Federation and EU, over which so many swords were crossed, was not discussed yesterday -- there were enough "domestic matters." Not the most joyful figures were cited in Natural Resource Minister Yuriy Trutnev's report: Between 25% and 60% of Russia's oil, gas, coal, and uranium fields allocated under license have not been brought into production. Russian companies are recovering only 30-35% of explored oil reserves; the rest is being irrevocably lost (the world allows only one-half to go to waste). The intensity of primary oil refining is 70% in Russia, whereas it is 90% in developed countries. Moreover, for the most part licenses dated in the nineties do not contain clear obligations of mineral resource users, and nor do they specify deadlines for bringing fields into production or the raw material extraction rate.
Technologically do we lag behind the West so badly and can we nonetheless close the gap? At the premier's suggestion the commission's members returned to this subject several times. A White House source explained to that the heads of natural monopolies who attended the session were fairly optimistic -- according to them, Russian technologies are in no way inferior to Western ones; they just need to be developed more vigorously.
Those assembled also agreed that it is necessary to accurately estimate the quantity and quality of the country's natural raw materials. But Yuriy Trutnev warned: New fields have already been estimated but it will take at least three years to compile a complete register. Furthermore, it emerged at the session that we burn around 20 billion cubic meters of associated gas a year -- that is too much. The reason is clear -- its use requires much more expenditure than ordinary gas. The problem must be solved but Trutnev is sure that "easy options should not be sought" and that there should be no attempt to extinguish the gas flames by simply and unimaginatively banning them -- that will do little good.
1. All aglow over security, but risk to reactor by terrorists remains
Sydney Morning Herald
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A SPENDING spree to bolster security around the country's new research reactor proved it was a key terrorist target, anti-nuclear campaigners say.
The Federal Government has spent $10.6 million building a sophisticated, high-tech entrance and security system to protect the reactor, under construction at Lucas Heights.
It includes advanced electronic surveillance, a centre to X-ray mail, and bollards that can block unauthorised vehicles.
Ron Cameron, the chief of operations at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), declined to detail what was involved, but said it included "a lot of high-tech science".
US Energy Department officials, who visited recently, were impressed. "They said it was possibly the best technology protecting a research reactor anywhere in the world," Dr Cameron said.
To be opened by the local federal MP, Danna Vale, on Monday, the entrance and security system were designed with advice from ASIO, the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office and ANSTO "to protect against whatever threat might come".
"The emphasis is on the ability to stop intruders passing various barriers," Dr Cameron said.
Asked if he now felt safe, he replied: "I always did. There is nothing to indicate that the threat is anything but at the low level, and it will continue to be low."
However, he also said: "We have done what the intelligence and security services have recommended."
Greenpeace's campaigns director, Danny Kennedy, said spending so much on security "speaks to the lie" that the reactor was a low-risk terrorist target.
"They are not doing this to prevent a few Greenpeace activists from breaking in," he said. "If this is what they need to protect a small research reactor, there is no chance in hell of protecting the nuclear power plants the Federal Government is talking about."
Dr Cameron conceded the heightened security was partly "a public reassurance … we want to be seen to be taking the threat seriously".
The building housing the $350 million reactor had already been designed to withstand "a major jet crash, a 767 or a 747", and a metal net on its roof could snare "light aircraft, up to a Learjet".
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