1. Iran to back Russia's JV offer if enrichment right is retained - embassy
(for personal use only)
The Iranian authorities will accept Russia's offer to set up a uranium enrichment joint venture if Iran is allowed to retain the right to enrich uranium, the Iranian embassy in Russia said in a statement on Friday.
"As far as Russia's offer is concerned, we have repeatedly stated that Iran will support any suggestion made as part of the project proposed by the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the UN if such initiatives envision Iran's right to peaceful nuclear technology, including uranium enrichment," the statement reads.
"As our country's Foreign Ministry spokesman has said in his statements, the offer remains on the negotiating table," it reads.
2. Russia May Back Resolution on Iran Crisis If It’s Amended — UN Envoy
(for personal use only)
Russia’s new UN ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, said Moscow would be prepared to back a Franco-British draft resolution on the Iranian nuclear crisis if its concerns were addressed, AFP reported. But he made clear that his government remained opposed to the use of force or sanctions to resolve the nuclear standoff with Tehran. Churkin spoke to reporters after attending Security Council consultations at which France and Britain circulated a draft resolution that would legally oblige Iran to comply with UN demands that it freeze uranium enrichment, but does not call for sanctions, AFP noted.
The text, worked out in close consultation with Germany and the United States, invokes Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which can authorize economic sanctions, or even, as a last resort, the use of force, in cases of threats to international peace and security, the report added. It says “Iran shall suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development, to be verified by the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), and suspend the construction of a reactor moderated by heavy water”.
“In our view the resolution would be a means to advance the diplomatic and political resolution of the issue,” Churkin said. “The goal of the Russian federation is to make sure that the regime of non-proliferation is strengthened. We do not believe that the matter can be resolved by the use of force.”
Russia and China, which are close trading partners of Tehran and have veto powers by virtue of being permanent members of the council, have said they oppose sanctions or the use of force, AFP stated. Asked if Moscow would be eady to accept the draft if it was amended to address its concerns, Churkin replied: “Of course, we participated in taking the decision that we should go ahead with the resolution.”
“We have some things we feel very strongly about,” he said. “If people agree with those things, then as far as we are concerned it could be a very quick process. If not, then it will probably take some time.”
Churkin expressed a hope that the council could reach agreement on the draft before the foreign ministers of Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States meet in New York on Monday to look at the broader picture of the Iranian crisis, AFP added. “Political and diplomatic solutions are still possible, the IAEA still has a lot of work ahead of it,” he said, adding that Moscow was “skeptical” about sanctions.
The Franco-British text does not call for sanctions at this stage, but says the council would “consider such further measures as may be necessary to ensure compliance with this resolution and decide that further examination will be required should such additional steps be necessary”.
It stresses that “full verified compliance by Iran, confirmed by the IAEA Board, would avoid the need for such additional steps”.
The council also reviewed IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei’s report which concluded Friday that Tehran had failed to meet a 30-day UN deadline to freeze its uranium enrichment. Tehran insists that its nuclear program is peaceful and has rejected demands to end its uranium enrichment.
The draft also calls on “all states to exercise vigilance in preventing the transfer of items, materials, goods and technology that could contribute to Iran’s enrichment-related and reprocessing activities and missile programs”.
The IAEA report on Iran presented to the Security Council yesterday turned out not to be too critical. The United States is nevertheless insisting that the United Nations sanction the start of military action in Iran as soon as possible. Russia and China continue to be against extraordinary measures. The two countries are likely to succeed in toning down the eventual Security Council resolution.
The IAEA report, compiled following 30 days of checks on Iranian nuclear sites, was sent electronically on Friday afternoon simultaneously to the UN headquarters in New York and the IAEA's Vienna office. Contrary to most analytical forecasts, the document proved not to be sharply critical, albeit on the whole negative. The full text of the report has still not been published. Having seen extracts from the document, however, the BBC produces a list of the key IAEA complaints against Tehran.
The main thesis in the report is that the checks carried out by the international inspectors in Iran confirmed the claims made this month by Tehran to have successfully enriched uranium. Accordingly, the main complaint against the Iranian leadership is that Tehran ignored UN Security Council demands at the end of March that it cease uranium enrichment, that it has done practically nothing to explain the purposes of its nuclear program, and that it did not allow the IAEA to check all its nuclear installations.
The report also says that Iran has used plutonium in laboratory experiments without informing the IAEA and has, in addition, failed to produce the specifications of its nuclear projects, particularly the details of the centrifuges and other equipment being used.
The Iranian side has notably called the ElBaradei agency's report "on the whole acceptable."
"The report contains no negative elements. It demonstrates that the agency is still capable of making an assessment of Iran's nuclear program," Iranian Atomic Energy Association deputy head Mahmud Sa'ideh stated on Friday. Moreover, Tehran has made it clear that it is prepared to continue cooperating with the IAEA on condition that the so-called Iranian nuclear file is returned from the UN Security Council to IAEA jurisdiction.
Russia and the PRC, which have lobbied consistently for a diplomatic settlement of the Iran crisis, have also seen no direct pretext in the IAEA report for immediate sanctions against Iran. "Russia's position on the Iranian nuclear problem has not altered: It should be resolved through the offices of the IAEA, which has all the necessary potential for doing so," Russian deputy permanent UN representative Konstantin Dolgov stated on Friday following the presentation of the ElBaradei agency report. "As for the UN Security Council, its main task is to provide political support for the IAEA's work," the Russian diplomat added. China's permanent UN representative, Wang Guanya, stated for his part that "all UN Security Council members should work for a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear problem."
As expected, the United States and the European "troika" (Britain, Germany, and France), which have spent the past few months pushing the idea of punishing Iran with sanctions, have drawn contrary conclusions from the IAEA report. According to Euronews, Washington and London are intending to submit a tough draft resolution against Iran, invoking Chapter 7 of the UN Charter (which provides for the use of coercive measures including military force), to the UN Security Council as early as next week. "I think it is clear from the report that Iran has done nothing to implement the existing IAEA resolutions. It is obvious that Iran is stepping up efforts to obtain nuclear weapons," US permanent UN representative John Bolton has argued.
Despite the American side's tough statements, observers believe that the newly-begun consultations in the UN Security Council will end in the adoption of a moderately tough anti-Iran resolution, leaving out the points about using military force against Iran and imposing an economic embargo. The reason is, again, Russia and the PRC's categorical objection to undue pressure on Tehran.
Given this position, observers believe, especially if Iran continues to ignore the UN Security Council and IAEA demands, the United States and the European troika will try to secure the adoption of a new resolution in the coming weeks in which the demand that Iran cease enrichment will be presented as a harsh ultimatum. Ultimately the United States and its European allies may look at the possibility of imposing sanctions on Iran outside the UN framework. Political analysts see this prospect as the most realistic, especially if Russia and China's support for Iran does not weaken in the immediate future. It is hard to predict, however, exactly how likely the option of punishing Iran outside the United Nations (essentially the scenario for the latest Iraq campaign) is to be applied.
President Ahmadinezhad's government, at least, does not believe that the West will ultimately have the resolve to attack Iran and dismisses as bluff the war threats made by politicians in the United States and Britain.
Bear in mind that Iran has also made threats this month to hit American targets around the world if it does become the object of US military action. In addition, Ayatollah Khamene'i, spiritual leader of the Islamic Revolution, stated this week that his country is ready to share nuclear technologies with other states if the pressure on his country continues.
4. Iran proposes consortium for uranium enrichment - 1
(for personal use only)
Iran is willing to form a uranium enrichment consortium with Japan and other countries, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told a visiting Japanese delegation Wednesday.
Mottaki said trust should be mutual in solving the current nuclear crisis.
"Iran has been voluntarily maintaining a moratorium on nuclear activity for three years to create trust [during talks with EU3], but Europe has failed to offer us anything we could accept," he said at a meeting with a Japanese delegation visiting Iran. "We have lost our trust in the West, and it is their turn now to create confidence-building measures."
He said Iran would not stop its nuclear research program.
Iran's foreign ministry also called Wednesday for the Iran-6 negotiators - the United States, Russia, France, Britain, China and Germany - to acknowledge that the Islamic Republic has nuclear technology and would not renounce its right to civilian nuclear energy.
Gholamreza Aghazadeh, the country's vice president and head of the Atomic Energy Organization said Tuesday that Iran has enriched uranium-235 to 4.8% and planned to build a total of 3,000 centrifuges by March 21, 2007 at a uranium-enrichment plant in Natanz.
Aghazadeh also said Iran had opened a uranium-concentrate field and would announce a tender for the construction of two new nuclear power plants within two months, adding that $200 million would be paid in advance to the tender's winner.
5. Russia not interested in having nuclear neighbour, expert says
(for personal use only)
Russia does not want Iran to either develop a nuclear bomb or be subjected to a US nuclear attack, Aleksandr Konovalov, the president of the Institute of Strategic Assessments, said in an interview to Russian Mayak Radio's "Panorama" presenter Elmira Malikova on 3 May.
Konovalov said that Russia believes it expedient to try and keep Iran within the Treaty on Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and under the control of the International Atomic Energy Agency. "This would be much more constructive than threatening (Iran), which would encourage it to seek its own nuclear capability," he said.
Speaking of Iran's motives for antagonizing the international community, Konovalov opined that Iranian president Mahmud Ahmadinezhad is provoking the USA to use force against his country in order to consolidate the Iranian population against a common external enemy, thus keeping domestic opposition movements in check.
Konovalov said that "Iran has so far violated nothing" and remains within the NPT scope as a non-nuclear country. He noted that the treaty does not prohibit member nations from producing fuel for their nuclear power plants.
"Iran is still too far from (developing) a bomb; several grams of uranium enriched to 3.5 per cent is not a bomb", Konovalov said, adding that it would take the country several years to attain nuclear capability. However, if Iran sets itself the goal of making the bomb, it may well do so, he said.
Konovalov said that in case of a conflict with the international community Iran's retaliation options would be fairly wide, including a temporary withdrawal of its crude from the global market and the blocking of the Strait of Hormuz to seal off the Persian Gulf. He also said that a very high percentage of Iranian residents wish for their country to have a nuclear capability. "I think that the day when reports come in of nuclear tests in Iran would be a day of nationwide joy (in the country)," he said.
He also stressed that, as distinct from India and Pakistan, if Iran made a nuclear bomb it would be regarded in the world "not as an Iranian bomb but as an Islamic bomb", because the Iranian leadership has openly promised to share the nuclear technology with neighbours, that is, with Bin Laden and Shi'i groups in the region.
Asked by a phoning-in listener whether Iran should attain the nuclear capability to protect itself from the USA, Konovalov said: "I think that everything should be done to preserve the NPT."
He further said that Iran is a very close neighbour of Russia, and the range of its missiles is already long enough to reach Russia's southern parts. Different disagreements may occur between the two countries, "and we would not at all like it if Iran owned such an instrument of influence" as a nuclear bomb. "Not even in the sense of it being used against Russia. What if (Iran) decides to use this weapon to support Shi'is in Iraq who, if we are to believe Iraqi authorities, are much more loyal to Iran than to the Iraqi leadership?"
Asked by the presenter whether Iran appreciates Russia's calls for a diplomatic solution, Konovalov said: "I do not see any specific gratitude from Iran." He explained that Iran obviously pursues its own agenda of demonstrating that it can ignore US pressure for as long as it needs, and that it does not really care whose side other countries take in this standoff. "However, at some point the question of choice will inevitably arise for us," he said.
Konovalov said that any military action against Iran would probably require the use of tactical nuclear weapons to destroy the country's heavily protected underground nuclear facilities. "We would not like to see nuclear bombs explode near our borders," Konovalov concluded.
6. Russian Analyst Says Iran Resolution Could Be Clarified by 10 May
(for personal use only)
United Nations Security Council members will come up with a coordinated position on the Iranian nuclear issue no earlier than the middle of the next week, Ivan Safranchuk, head of the Russian office of the International Defense Information Center, said.
"Some provisions of a new resolution on Iran could be clarified by the middle of the next week," Safranchuk told Interfax on Wednesday.
The parties may compromise on the text of a resolution, however, the real positions of the UN Security Council member states will remain opposite, he said.
"This means that even if a new resolution is passed, permanent members will interpret it differently," Safranchuk said.
The most important issue deals with what measures could be used to force Iran to implement a Security Council resolution, he said.
China will coordinate its position with Russia within the framework of the Security Council, the expert said.
"I think that China will not veto sanctions against Iran unanimously, and it is likely to support the Russian veto. However, should Russia agree to compromise, China will not veto a resolution on its own," he said.
Asked about the possibility of the United States choosing a "military scenario" bypassing the Security Council, Safranchuk said that it is possible, but unlikely to happen today.
7. The Non-Proliferation Treaty Is To Blame for Everything
(for personal use only)
This is the opening day of an international conference on nuclear safety issues in Moscow. For three days, Russian and foreign political analysts will discuss ways of resolving the Iranian crisis. Roundtables and forums of this type are held daily in various countries because the threat of war in the Middle East is increasingly imminent. The futility of negotiations suggests the need for a change in the entire system of nuclear treaties.
This applies above all to the 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). At a roundtable discussion yesterday, one of the authors of the NPT text, Roland Timirbayev, the chairman of the council of the Center for Political Research in Russia (PIR-Center), said that the document had always put some countries in a more privileged position than others: "The states that already had nuclear weapons, for example, were not restricted in their right to use them. The other countries that ratified this document may have had the theoretical chance to work on research projects without violating international commitments, but they always aroused the suspicions of the IAEA."
This legal obstacle was one of the causes of the Iranian conflict. Even with its uranium enriched to 3.5 percent, Iran did not violate the letter of the treaty. The world community objected, but these objections stemmed from apprehension rather than from the results of the research. "There is nothing in the NPT to restrict civilian and military research," General Director Rajab Safarov of the Center for Contemporary Iranian Studies told. "It does not even set a maximum percentage for uranium enrichment for states with no intention of violating international commitments." The analyst suggested that this omission had enabled Iran to hide its development projects for 17 years.
The most common argument against the existing international treaties is the fact that three countries -- Israel, India, and Pakistan -- did not ratify the document and developed their own nuclear weapons within a few years. Furthermore, the United States also circumvented the NPT when it signed an agreement with India on cooperation in the nuclear sphere two months ago.
Retired Lieutenant-General Gennadiy Yevstafyev, an adviser to the PIR-Center, blames the inefficacy of the NPT on the absence of a statute of limitations. Because of this, the treaty cannot be adjusted to fit changing circumstances. "One of these adjustments should have endowed the IAEA with broader powers, including the authority to send representatives of special services to inspect facilities," Yevstafyev declared.
The ayatollah's regime is fully aware of the judicial weakness of the NPT and still has not ratified the Supplementary Protocol to the NPT, which is one of the absolute requirements of the IAEA and the UN Security Council. "The Supplementary Protocol is like a trump card in the Ahmadi-Nejad's hands. He will adhere to all the provisions of this document, but will simply abrogate the treaty in the event of a military threat and will begin enriching uranium without any oversight," Rajab Safarov said.
Ahmed Montazeran, a political adviser in the Iranian Embassy in Moscow, reiterated Tehran's official stance: "If we had not concealed our development projects, the IAEA simply would have forced us to shut down all of our nuclear institutes under pressure from the West."
A discussion of adjustments of the NPT on the highest level could take place at the G8 summit in June this year. The main objective is to prevent Iran from becoming another Iraq before that time, because diplomatic and legal texts will have no influence whatsoever if this should happen.
Russian political analysts believe the Iranian nuclear issue could also be resolved by obtaining guarantees of non-aggression from the United States. This might be discussed at a meeting of Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador in Baghdad, and an Iranian diplomat (probably the first deputy foreign minister) in the beginning of May. The representatives of the two countries will discuss ways of securing stability in Iraq. According to former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Robert Einhorn, this issue is not on the meeting agenda, but this dialogue could serve as a bridge to continued negotiations on a higher level.
Rajab Safarov, on the other hand, feels that this prospect is unlikely: "Iran will never demand any official guarantees from Washington. Even if these were to be offered, Ahmadi-Nejad would never give up his plans to win a leading position in the Middle East."
8. EX-PM Primakov: Russia to Push Hard for Iranian Solution
(for personal use only)
"Russia will do its utmost to prevent the further escalation of tension in the Iranian nuclear crisis," Yevgeny Primakov, former Russian prime minister and foreign minister, said over the weekend in an exclusive interview with The Jerusalem Post.
On a short visit to Israel and other countries in the Middle East, Primakov added that he believed a deal on Iranian uranium enrichment on Russian soil might still be salvageable, despite Teheran's refusal to accept it until now.
"An air strike on Iran would most certainly bring about very serious consequences in the whole region. It might cause a huge wave of extremism in the Arab world, and the Arab regimes might find it very difficult to survive in this situation," Primakov said. "Therefore, Russia is determined to make all diplomatic efforts possible to prevent these developments, but also to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. We consider it a very negative and dangerous scenario. Russia is not at all interested in Iran obtaining nuclear arms.
"The problem is that as of today, despite a few anomalies, Teheran has not violated the non-proliferation agreement and therefore harsh measures cannot be implemented against it," he said.
Primakov, who was foreign minister and then prime minister in the late 90s, after heading the Foreign Intelligence Service from 1991-1996, said he believed the Russian deal, whereby Iran's uranium enrichment would take place on Russian territory, might still be workable.
"This year, Russia will serve as a temporary president of the G-8, and it is very possible that the amended offer will again be discussed during the coming G-8 summit," he said. "The idea is that the countries interested in uranium enrichment for peaceful means would turn to well-established members of the nuclear club for that purpose, instead of pursuing that process themselves. This way, the uranium will be available to Iran and other countries, and Iran will be one of many. This will allow Iran to comply with the offer without losing face," he said.
However, it was still unclear how the Iranians would react to such a deal if it was offered to them, Primakov said.
Primakov will also visit Jordan and may meet in Ramallah with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas if Abbas returns from abroad in time. Primakov was invited to visit here by the Israel Manufacturers Association, and is due to meet with its leadership, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and a group of senior political analysts.
Referring to Russian-Israeli relations, he said that "the full potential of these relations has not yet been fulfilled, due to the lack of trust between the parties. There is an opportunity for much more significant cooperation, both in the political and economic spheres. It's important to understand that Russia plays a major role in Middle Eastern diplomacy, and I doubt that the conflict can be resolved without Russia's involvement.
"It's important to understand that unlike during the era of the Cold War, these days we stand in the Middle East with both of our feet -- in Israel and in the Arab world -- and we can contribute a great deal," Primakov said.
9. Iran's Time Has Run Out. Moscow Reflecting on Expediency of Supporting Tehran
(for personal use only)
The situation surrounding Iran's nuclear program promises to become extremely heated in the next few days. The 30-day period set by the UN Security Council for the country to resume its moratorium on enriching uranium expires today. Also today, IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei presents his latest report on the Iranian nuclear program to the Security Council.
Despite Tehran's tough rhetoric, Russia still has no intention of altering its official position. A diplomatic source at the talks on Iran told that "ElBaradei's latest report will be quite negative, but it will not contain any new facts." "On that basis, Moscow continues to see no threat to international peace and security from the Islamic Republic, and its position is hardly going to change at this particular stage," the source explained. In informal conversations, however, diplomats are hinting that the Russian Federation is reflecting more and more seriously on the expediency of continuing to try to "save" Iran.
According to our source, "the next Security Council meeting on Iran is expected in the region of 10 April (date as published)." Meanwhile he did not rule out the possibility that "an emergency session of the IAEA Board will be convened before then, and its conclusions will serve as a basis for subsequent Security Council actions."
The situation surrounding the Islamic Republic is being discussed at all levels right now. It was the lead topic at the latest NATO foreign ministers' session in Sofia. It was even touched on in Tomsk in the course of the talks between Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin and FRG Chancellor Angela Merkel. But the most intense debate on the problem is expected on 2 May in Paris, where the Iran question will be discussed by Foreign Ministry deputy heads from the "Six" -- Russia, the United States, China, Britain, France, and Germany.
According to information from diplomatic sources, "Russia may try to persuade the sides to restrict themselves at this stage to one more statement on behalf of the Security Council chair." As far as a draft resolution is concerned, on the basis of Moscow's official position the main task for Russian diplomats will be to avoid mention of Chpater VII of the UN Charter, which talks about threats to peace and security and provides not just for sanctions but for the option of force to resolve a conflict. It should be recalled that the previous consultations among the "Six" were held in Moscow in mid-April, but no decisions were made.
1. Nuclear Gaining Favor as Clean Energy Source for World, Alternatives unlikely to meet demand for large-scale power, experts say
U.S. Department of State/Bureau of International Information Programs
(for personal use only)
Nuclear energy is the best option for large-scale power generation that does not add to emissions associated with global warming, according to U.S. officials, industry representatives and an increasing number of foreign governments and international groups.
"Nuclear is the only form of energy from which you get so much electricity from so little fuel with no emissions," Andrew Paterson, a U.S. Energy Department policy analyst, said in an April 20 interview.
That is why the Bush administration has supported plans to revitalize the nuclear power industry, according to U.S. officials, after a quarter century when no nuclear plants were ordered or built principally because of financing cost, safety concerns and public opposition. In 2002, the administration launched a program to encourage the industry to build new nuclear plants in the next decade.
COUNTRIES TAKE A SECOND LOOK AT NUCLEAR
Nuclear power industries in some countries have fared better than in the United States. In 2004, some 17 nations derived more electricity from nuclear power than the United States' 20 percent: France, 78 percent; Lithuania, 72 percent; Belgium, 55 percent; South Korea, 38 percent; and Japan, 30 percent, according to the department's Energy Information Administration.
With high and volatile energy prices and use of oil and natural gas by a few countries as a political weapon, nations that froze their nuclear power program in the past or never had one are taking a second look at nuclear energy, according to energy experts.
China has an ambitious nuclear power program, and the United Kingdom, Italy and Sweden are reviewing their energy options to consider whether to build new reactors, according to news reports. Worldwide, 130 reactors are under construction.
Energy ministers from the Group of Eight (G8) -- the United States, France, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, Japan, Italy and Russia -- recently endorsed nuclear energy as an essential part of the energy portfolio. Leaders of the G8 countries will be meeting in July in St. Petersburg, Russia, where energy issues are expected to top the agenda.
"Wide-scale development of safe and secure nuclear energy is crucial for long-term environmentally sustainable diversification of energy supply," the energy ministers said in a statement issued following their March meeting.
The International Energy Agency, which represents 26 developed countries, is expected to publish a study that is "highly likely" to support expansion of nuclear power as the best way to a greater energy security and the best solution to global warming, according to the Financial Times of London.
GLOBAL PARTNERSHIP AND PROLIFERATION
The Bush administration recently launched an international partnership to promote nuclear energy worldwide. The program, called the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP), promises to increase nuclear power efficiency, address proliferation concerns and help fulfill electricity needs of developing countries, particularly those that are rapidly growing. (See related article.)
Developing countries alone are projected to use 125 percent more electricity by 2025 than they use today, according to the Energy Department. The department estimates that generating this much power entirely with coal -- the prevailing source of power generation -- would produce 5 billion tons of additional greenhouse emissions each year, more than double the level of current U.S. emissions from coal-fired plants. Nuclear power plants produce no gases such as carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas, which contribute to global warming.
"People everywhere are coming to see nuclear energy not only as an acceptable or responsible choice, but as a desirable one," U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman recently said.
The GNEP addresses nuclear weapons proliferation, one of the major risks associated with nuclear power. New technologies would help recycle spent nuclear fuel to squeeze more energy from it and reduce radioactive waste. These technologies would ensure that plutonium, which can be used to produce nuclear weapons, is not separated during reprocessing.
However, some experts and environmental groups doubt whether the program ever will work. And even if it does, says Thomas Cochran, director of the nuclear program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group, it is going to be "enormously" expensive.
In addition, it "would make proliferation risk to the United States worse rather than better” because as the United States starts reprocessing spent fuel “other countries will emulate us," he said in a March 23 interview.
According to Paterson, people like Cochran are missing the point.
"The GNEP could indeed be expensive," Paterson said. "But if it is providing a way of ramping up nuclear power worldwide and dealing more assertively with proliferation risk, then it might be worth the cost."
John Deutch of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the proposed arrangement would be much less risky than having pure plutonium stored and transported around the world.
"So while there are risks and very serious matters that require attention [in this arrangement], they are preferable to more serious risks associated with the existing closed fuel cycle and reprocessing activities," the former U.S. director of central intelligence said in a February 17 interview. (See related article.)
See also “U.S. Nuclear Power Industry Sees Expansion in Near Future.”
The United States is discussing the possibility of a civilian nuclear energy agreement with Russia that could help wean Moscow away from cooperation with Iran, according to US officials.
The move comes as Western powers are increasingly alarmed about what they say is Iran's determination to produce nuclear weapons. Diplomatic efforts to persuade Tehran to reverse course so far have been frustrated, in part because of US and allied differences with Russia, the only major power still engaging in lucrative nuclear cooperation with the Islamic republic.
In recent interviews, several US officials said a possible nuclear energy accord with Moscow is under review. They spoke anonymously because the issue is sensitive and no final decision has been made.
Such an agreement would be a significant change in US policy, which now prohibits most nuclear cooperation with Russia because of Moscow's pivotal role in building Iran's 800 million dollar nuclear power plant at Bushehr.
A cooperation agreement is ''something that we're actively evaluating'' and have discussed with the Russians over the past two months, one official told Reuters.
1. Nunn-Lugar at 15: No Time to Relax Global Threat Reduction Efforts - Details of CTR Budget Emerge
Paul F. Walker
Arms Control Today
(for personal use only)
The Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) program, which will celebrate its fifteenth birthday later this year, is one of the clear successes of post-Cold War diplomacy. CTR was established in 1991 to prevent the proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons after the end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Since then, the program, also known as Nunn-Lugar, after two of its founders, Senators Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) and Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), has deactivated more than 6,800 nuclear warheads and overseen the end of nuclear weapons programs in Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine.
Yet, throughout the last decade and a half, the program has wrestled with recalcitrance on the part of some Russian bureaucrats and military officials and with opposition from some U.S. policymakers who have perceived it as a diversion of precious Pentagon resources.
The pressure to slow down or terminate the program has intensified recently in Washington, illustrated by less than optimal CTR budget requests from the Bush administration and reluctance by Congress to expand particular programs. Bilateral tensions also have spiked, leading to differences over funding priorities and potentially risking these efforts.
Now is not the time to abandon this valuable program. Thousands of nuclear warheads await deactivation, thousands of tons of chemical weapons remain to be destroyed, and dozens of nuclear submarines among other Cold War weapons systems await dismantlement. Although some significant changes need to be made, too much valuable work remains to be done to let relatively minor difficulties stand in the way of fulfilling this historic opportunity to improve both national and global security.
Post-Cold War Concerns
As the Cold War wound down in the late 1980s and early 1990s, a major concern, particularly in light of the growing lack of structure in East European and former Soviet capitals and militaries, was the threat of proliferation of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and related launch systems. The Soviet Union and United States had negotiated and signed several important bilateral arms control agreements throughout the 1970s and 1980s. These agreements had already led to important weapons reductions, including destruction of some 1,800 short- and intermediate-range missiles by the end of 1990.
However, the nuclear arsenal of the former Soviet Union still bristled with nuclear warheads and launch systems in 1990: an estimated 1,398 ICBMs, 61 strategic nuclear submarines with 930 submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and 175 long-range strategic bombers. In addition, the Soviet Union was thought to have at least 40,000 tons of chemical weapons and an unknown number of biological weapons and pathogens.
The breakup of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact thus led to much concern about “loose nukes” and the overall security of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the former Soviet republics. As a result, Congress established the CTR program in November 1991 in the fiscal year 1992 defense authorization act. Both Nunn and Lugar, along with Rep. Les Aspin (D-Wis.)—who would later serve as secretary of defense—and others actively supported this new initiative. After the failed coup in Moscow in August 1991 and the complete disintegration of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, this initiative became all the more urgent. The final legislation, the Soviet Nuclear Threat Reduction Act of 1991, authorized $400 million in Department of Defense funds to help the Soviet Union and its “successor entities” with three broad tasks:
to “destroy nuclear weapons, chemical weapons, and other weapons”;
to “transport, store, disable, and safeguard weapons in connection with their destruction”; and
to “establish verifiable safeguards against the proliferation of such weapons.” Lugar, in the minority on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the time, warned in late November 1991 that the Soviet breakup risked harming “international stability” and could mean much less security for nuclear arsenals. Senate colleagues warned of the “seizure, theft, sale or use of nuclear weapons or components…particularly if a widespread disintegration in the custodial system should occur.” They also warned of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction beyond the former borders of the Soviet Union. Nunn, then chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, summed up these major concerns as follows: “We are on the verge of either having the greatest destruction of nuclear weapons in the history of the world or the greatest proliferation of nuclear weapons, nuclear materials, and scientific know-how on how to make these weapons, as well as chemical weapons, ballistic missiles, even biological weapons the world has ever seen.”
Other Senate proponents such as Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.), a senior member of the Foreign Relations panel, argued that the Nunn-Lugar amendment would be “assisting ourselves,” not just the Soviet Union, in preventing terrorist use of weapons of mass destruction. Yet, critics such as Sen. Malcolm Wallop (R-Wyo.) and other conservative Cold War politicians emphasized that this was simply foreign aid to an enemy state and would allow the Soviet Union to reinvest its own resources in more military hardware.
By 1993, two years after congressional passage, the CTR program acquired its current name and enlisted the help of the Departments of State and Energy for weapons security, transportation, demilitarization, and weapons scientist redirection efforts. Four years later, both of the departments would begin to request funds for their own complementary programs in nuclear nonproliferation and security.
Over the past decade, Energy Department programs have broadly focused on security and management of fissile materials, while State Department efforts have sought to engage former Soviet weapons scientists in civilian projects in order to preclude brain drain. Today’s Energy Department programs are managed under the National Nuclear Security Administration and include a variety of nuclear materials protection and cooperation assistance efforts, proliferation prevention initiatives, and the elimination of weapons-grade plutonium. Energy Department funding mechanisms are complex, but the total request for fiscal year 2007 is about $834 million. State Department programs have also supported export control and border security projects, have helped establish international science and technology centers in Moscow and Kiev for the retraining of weapons scientists, and have participated in legal negotiations on nonproliferation. Annual State Department funding, including the Nonproliferation and Disarmament Fund, is about $150 million.
This analysis focuses, however, on the Defense Department’s ongoing CTR program. Congress authorized $400 million annually out of the defense budget for the CTR program for its first four fiscal years, 1992-1995. Over the next decade, annual requests ranged from a low of $328 million in 1997 to a high of $476 million in 2000. Although the debates noted above have continued over the years regarding whether CTR funds are truly necessary for nonproliferation or rather a stealthy foreign aid program for the former Soviet Union, both parties in Congress have generally been receptive to executive branch requests. Over 15 years of funding requests, from 1992 to 2006, Congress has reduced funding only twice and increased funding only once. Approximately $6.1 billion has been requested and authorized over the period, averaging $407 million per year. Combined with Energy and State Department requests for global nonproliferation efforts but without amounts for U.S. fissile material reprocessing in the Energy Department budget, annual funding is about $1 billion, the amount to which the United States committed at the 2002 Group of Eight (G-8) summit in Kananaskis, which established the Global Partnership (see page 38). The current request for fiscal year 2007 for the CTR program is $372 million. In addition, the administration has requested $45 million in a fiscal year 2006 supplemental bill for enhanced warhead security.
The primary goal for the CTR program, as noted in the initial programmatic goals above, has been the security and elimination of former Soviet nuclear weapons. At the time of the CTR program’s establishment in late 1991, the Soviet Union’s strategic nuclear arsenal was estimated at well over 10,000 strategic nuclear warheads and bombs (some estimates, which include tactical weapons, range up to three times this amount) and deployed in Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine, in addition to Russia. Early projects included purchases of armored blankets, storage containers, railcar improvements, and emergency response vehicles for nuclear warhead security. CTR support remains ongoing today in weapons transportation and storage security. It has also focused on fissile materials storage as thousands of nuclear warheads are dismantled and bomb-grade fissile materials must be safely stored for the longer run. A major effort since the mid-1990s has been the construction of a $400 million storage facility at Mayak, outside of Chelyabinsk, designed to hold more than 25,000 fissile material containers from approximately the same number of nuclear warheads.
In addition to security, transportation, and storage of nuclear warheads and bomb-grade fissile materials, the dismantlement and destruction of nuclear weapons systems have been major CTR tasks and have helped to implement the 1991 START I and the 2002 Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (Moscow Treaty). The CTR program can claim a long list of accomplishments in reducing former Soviet weaponry. Perhaps most important, all nuclear warheads have been returned to Russia from the former Soviet republics of Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine. All strategic weapons infrastructure, including missiles and silos, has also been eliminated in Belarus and Kazakhstan, and elimination is underway in Ukraine.
The safe storage and destruction of Russian chemical weapons has also been a top priority of the CTR program. Russia signed the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1993, along with the United States and many other countries, and ratified it in November 1997, six months after the U.S. Senate had approved the treaty. Russia declared seven chemical weapons stockpiles containing a total of 40,000 metric tons of nerve and blister agents. The United States, after a July 1994 inspection of the chemical weapons destruction site at Shchuch’ye, decided to help Russia build a large demilitarization facility at the 5,400-ton nerve agent stockpile. This stockpile was chosen primarily because of its proximity to the southern Russian border and the portability of its two million artillery shells. To date, the CTR program has committed more than $1.1 billion for this effort, including provision of mobile testing laboratories, construction of a Central Analytical Lab (CAL) in Moscow, and the dismantlement of two former chemical-agent production facilities.
Although a trip report from the 1994 on-site inspection included a recommendation to secure and destroy this site as soon as possible, construction did not officially begin at the site until March 2003, and demilitarization operations are predicted to commence as late as 2010, according to March 29 testimony by Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy Peter Flory. Because of the long delays in this project, Congress allocated $20 million in fiscal year 1999 for security upgrades at the two nerve-agent artillery shell stockpiles—Shchuch’ye and Kizner—which were completed three to four years later.
The CTR program has also sought, based on its original congressionally mandated tasks, to engage Russia in demilitarizing its enormous biological weapons establishment, estimated at 60,000 employees at more than 50 dispersed sites. Over the past decade, efforts have been made to improve security of biological weapons sites and specifically of biological pathogen collections, to redirect former weapons scientists through the Moscow International Science and Technology Center, and to help Russia develop more modern surveillance and monitoring systems. Progress in this area, however, has been very slow, as pointed out in a 2003 General Accounting Office report, because of lack of Russian transparency and site access, especially to military-related sites. This has caused the CTR program to focus more recently on former Soviet republics, such as Georgia, that have been more cooperative with Western partners.
The CTR program, after almost 15 years of work and some $6 billion in appropriations, has accomplished a great deal. The deactivation of over 6,800 nuclear warheads and almost 1,000 strategic missile launchers and silos alone is an enormous accomplishment for global security and homeland defense. As former Defense Secretary William Perry has noted, it is “defense by other means,” particularly important in today’s terrorist- and proliferation-threatened world.
Perhaps equally important, it has brought the major Cold War enemy, Russia, back into cooperative and allied relations with the West along lines—deep cuts in weapons of mass destruction—that many observers only dreamed about more than a decade ago.
Problems Requiring Resolution
However, there have been many tough challenges to threat reduction programs over the past 15 years that need to be resolved before the CTR program will have much hope of making better progress in the next decade.
Eliminating Bureaucratic Obstacles and Enhancing Transparency
Perhaps first and foremost is the need for cooperative, supportive, and transparent behavior on the part of all partners in nonproliferation and threat reduction efforts. This challenge covers a wide swath of territory and issues, but the many roadblocks that have been built over the years to inhibit cost-efficient project implementation require elimination.
Both access to Russian sites and Russian visa regulations for foreigners no doubt top most complaints of CTR officials. As noted, Russia has been very grudging in providing access to biological weapons facilities and needs to do more so that better security can be provided for dangerous pathogens. Likewise, U.S. officials rightly complain about Russia limiting or denying access to nuclear weapons facilities where they have installed equipment, thus preventing accountability.
In addition, paperwork for site access continues to be overly complicated. Although not surprising, especially when compared to current regulations in the United States for access to similar U.S. sites, one would hope that a more streamlined and trusting approach could have been developed over a decade of bilateral work. Likewise, Russian and U.S. visa regulations require expensive, complicated, and time-consuming processes that continue to inhibit constructive exchanges and cost-efficiencies in projects. Major CTR projects in Russia have spent millions of CTR dollars simply processing Russian short-term visas and covering travel for employees out of country during application processes. Visa approvals and denials can also be capricious and harmful at times, as was the case when a CTR project manager was detained at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow and deported two years ago. This drains both financial resources and productive worker time and undermines mutual trust.
The most egregious example of a lack of transparency was the failure of a $100 million liquid rocket fuel disposition facility in Krasnoyarsk. After the CTR program built the facility, Russia announced that it had already used its strategic liquid-fueled missiles in space launches. Unfortunately, the lack of communication and transparency among the United States and Russian federal governments and agencies, and the primary U.S. contractor caused the facility to be finished long after the need for it had disappeared. There continues to be miscommunication among all parties in many projects, perhaps partly caused by language barriers and the failure of the CTR program to promote Russian language studies in its personnel, but this is also no doubt caused by lingering Cold War suspicions both by Russian and CTR managers.
Ending CTR Political Conditions
Another major and ongoing challenge to successful CTR projects is the need to overcome political conditions that stall and inhibit demilitarization efforts. The congressional debates over whether threat reduction projects are advantageous to national security have resulted in two sets of six congressional conditions being placed on CTR funds. Six broad conditions, such as whether Russia is adhering to all arms control and human rights agreements, require annual certification by the administration for all CTR projects. A second set of six conditions have been emplaced on the chemical weapons destruction work and require, for example, annual certification that Russia has fully and accurately declared its chemical weapons stockpile. Congress has fortunately provided annual waiver authority for the president, that is, the ability of the president either to certify or waive these 12 conditions in the interest of national security. Lugar was successful in 2005 in amending the fiscal year 2006 defense authorization act to eliminate these conditions all together. Unfortunately, his amendment did not survive the House-Senate conference on the bill. These conditions, now outdated and nonproductive, need to be removed for good. Lugar is expected to reintroduce his amendment again this year, a very positive step in facilitating more efficient and timely CTR efforts.
More Community Involvement
A third major obstacle for the CTR program has been the lack of project funds to support local community involvement and transparency at major CTR project sites in Russia. Most informed observers have recognized for a decade or more that centralized, authoritarian implementation by the Russian federal government of dangerous and contentious projects in Russia is no longer feasible because of local opposition and Russia’s democratic evolution. This first became obvious in 1989 when dozens of local factories and thousands of workers went on strike to protest the proposed opening of a secretly constructed chemical weapons destruction facility in Chapayevsk. This facility today remains open only for limited military training.
The first CTR program director, Major General Roland Lajoie, and his successor, Brigadier General Thomas Kuenning, both recognized that proactive community outreach was critical to project implementation and risk reduction. They both supported establishment of public outreach offices, managed by the environmental nongovernmental organization (NGO) Green Cross Russia and overseen by Global Green USA and Green Cross Switzerland, as a neutral, independent facilitator at the controversial Shchuch’ye site. The active involvement of the local community, including public hearings, independent health and risk assessments, and establishment of a Citizens’ Advisory Commission, have been central to making progress in this important project. Unfortunately, this model of project implementation has not been replicated at other CTR project sites, and community opposition continues to be a major challenge for most work in Russia.
The case of Votkinsk well illustrates this problem. The CTR program had agreed to help Russia destroy its solid rocket propellent and strategic missile stages at the Votkinsky Zavod, one of the largest missile factories in Russia. The project goal was to construct a closed-burn facility where some 800 or more large missile stages could be safely ignited and toxic gases carefully scrubbed. Russia had moved the project to Votkinsk after it had earlier been rejected by local authorities in Perm. After investing more than $100 million, about a quarter of the estimated project costs for the CTR program, the project was shut down because neither the CTR program nor the Russian government would meet local requests from the Udmurt regional government for some local investments. For want of 1-2 percent of project costs, a major strategic and environmentally sound disarmament initiative was lost.
Over the past few years, several members of the G-8 Global Partnership—Canada, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and others—have recognized the importance of community involvement and have begun supporting local outreach offices. At the urging of NGOs and the new U.S. ambassador to Russia, William Burns, the U.S. Agency for International Development has also begun engaging local communities on a very limited basis. Additionally, the Russian federal government has begun over the past three years to invest limited resources in local communities. These efforts must be expanded and supported more actively by all threat reduction programs, including the projects of the Defense, Energy, and State Departments.
Lastly, adequate and predictable funding remains a major challenge for successful CTR implementation. Opponents of CTR funding regularly complain about the lack of burden-sharing among allies, including Russia. The establishment of the G-8 Global Partnership in 2002 at Kananaskis, Canada, where $10 billion was pledged over 10 years—essentially a match to the U.S. pledge of $10 billion—was a major step in the right direction. Russia, in participating in this pledge, also stepped up its funding profile. This was about 10 years late, but the delay is understandable given the difficult economic transition it weathered throughout the 1990s. Although some observers believe that the Global Partnership should have accomplished more over the past four years, it continues to expand its work as more countries commit funds to Russian nonproliferation projects.
Yet, the fiscal year 2007 CTR request of $372 million remains more than $40 million below the fiscal year 2006 appropriation and $80 million less if one includes the fiscal year 2006 supplemental request. Compared in real terms to the early years of the Nunn-Lugar appropriations, the CTR program receives less than half the funds it used to receive. It is apparent from this request, especially when several recent bipartisan studies have proposed spending at least double this amount, that a certain weariness is setting into CTR programs. Perhaps the Defense Department judges other more directly battlefield-related projects of higher priority. However, much still remains to be done in threat reduction; we would be terribly remiss, indeed irresponsible, not to take advantage of this unique opportunity to eliminate long-standing threats and proliferable weapons of mass destruction before they fall into the wrong hands.
The fiscal year 2006 defense authorization act requests a report from the Defense Department on impediments to successful implementation of nonproliferation and threat reduction programs. This report must fully cover these major challenges and offer short-term solutions to move these important projects forward.
According to recent CTR figures, the U.S. goal is to eliminate at least another 6,500 nuclear warheads, 850 ICBMs, 350 ICBM silos, 80 strategic bombers, almost 400 SLBMs, 300 SLBM launchers, 19 strategic ballistic missile submarines, and 5,400 tons of nerve agent; and this is the short list. More than 100 nuclear-powered attack submarines await dismantlement; another 34,000 tons of chemical agents are still to be destroyed; and tons of fissile material remain to be secured and safely stored, far beyond these initial threat reduction goals.
The CTR budget should be increased by at least $100 million to $472 million for fiscal year 2007, and high priority should be placed on accelerating warhead dismantlement, fissile material security and storage, and chemical weapons destruction at the nerve agent sites of Shchuch’ye and Kizner. International and multilateral projects are never simple or cheap, but every day lost to unnecessary bureaucratic obstacles, underfunded budgets, and lingering Cold War suspicions only increases risks to global and homeland security. This is not a time to lose commitment or energy for implementing the 1991 Nunn-Lugar threat reduction goals. This is not a time to reduce or sunset any nonproliferation programs.
This year also heralds renewal of the 1992 bilateral CTR Umbrella Agreement, which was amended and extended in 1999. Should this agreement lapse in June 2006, all CTR projects would run the risk of being halted. Fortunately, Flory testified before the Senate in March 2006 that Russia “has accepted U.S. terms for extension of this framework and we believe that we will be able to conclude negotiations well before the June 2006 deadline.”
Threat reduction projects, both bilateral and multilateral, remain extremely important. President George W. Bush has placed top priority on such initiatives in his recent National Security Presidential Directives regarding nuclear, chemical, and biological threats and promised “comprehensive strategies” to combat WMD proliferation. Political differences among the United States, Russia, and other countries, however challenging they may be, must not be allowed to stand in the way of securing and eliminating these potential tools of terrorists. The forthcoming G-8 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, in July offers a timely opportunity for Bush, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and other national leaders to reaffirm their commitments to cooperative nonproliferation and threat reduction goals and, equally important, to the elimination of ongoing obstacles to safe, efficient, and mutual disarmament objectives. Global security demands no less.
Details of CTR Budget Emerge William Huntington
Funding for Department of Defense chemical weapons destruction in Russia will be cut sharply if Congress approves President George W. Bush’s fiscal year 2007 budget request, according to Pentagon documents released late March.
The Pentagon request for the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) program includes a proposed 61 percent cut in such assistance. In 2005, Congress approved $108.5 million in funds for the chemical weapons program for the current fiscal year, which runs through Sept. 30. But the administration only requested $42.7 million—a $66 million cut—for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.
The Defense Threat Reduction Agency, which administers the CTR program, claims no more funds are needed beyond those requested for 2007, as those funds, in combination with funds already appropriated for 2005 and 2006, will allow for the completion of the chemical weapons destruction facility at Schuch’ye in Russia. But some nongovernmental advocates note that Russia is lagging far behind on its overall destruction commitments under the Chemical Weapons Convention (see ACT, April 2006) and would benefit from additional assistance.
All told, the administration is seeking a cut of more than 10 percent to the CTR program, which seeks to secure, dismantle, and destroy weapons of mass destruction (WMD), their delivery systems, and their production facilities in the former Soviet Union. The president requested $372.2 million for the CTR program for fiscal year 2007, down $43.3 million from the fiscal year 2006 appropriation of $415.5 million.
The administration has sought to step up current spending on the program before the fiscal year ends. The president included an additional $44.5 million for CTR warhead security programs within his 2006 supplemental appropriation request for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, which is now being considered by Congress.
The WMD Proliferation Prevention program also faces a cut. The administration requested $37.5 million for the program, down from its 2006 appropriation of $40.6 million. Within the program, a significant increase of nearly three times is slated for the Caspian Sea Maritime Proliferation Prevention program in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, while the Land Border and Maritime Proliferation Prevention program in Ukraine is marked for a 48.5 percent cut. These programs seek to improve border controls and block WMD smuggling in certain former Soviet states.
The administration requested $77 million for the Strategic Offensive Arms Elimination program in Russia, down $1.9 million from the 2006 appropriation of $78.9 million. This program allows for the destruction of Russian strategic nuclear delivery systems, including ICBMs and submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and for the defueling and partial dismantlement of Delta- and Typhoon-class nuclear submarines.
The president has also requested increases for some CTR programs.
The Biological Weapons Proliferation Prevention program is slated to receive $68.4 million, an increase of $7.6 million, or 12 percent, from the 2006 appropriation of $60.8 million. The program assists states of the former Soviet Union with the development of modern disease detection and response, provides for secure storage of pathogen libraries, and supports cooperative research ventures.
Funding for the Nuclear Weapons Storage Security program was requested at a level of $87.1 million, up $3 million, or 3.5 percent, from the 2006 appropriation of $84.1 million. However, the programmatic increase is in fact larger than the top-line number suggests, as the 2006 appropriation included a one-time sum of $10 million for the construction of a training site for Russian WMD security officers.
The administration also requested a small increase for the Nuclear Weapons Transportation Security program, up $3 million, or 10 percent, to $33 million. The program works to improve security for nuclear warheads during transport, including the provision of special railcars.
1. News Analysis: The Global Partnership—A Mixed Record
Arms Control Today
(for personal use only)
Nearly four years ago, several leading countries agreed to better coordinate and expand their efforts to secure and destroy stockpiles of unconventional weapons and materials housed in Russia and other former Soviet states. Almost halfway through the initiative’s planned 10-year lifespan, funding and projects are up from past levels, but total pledges and contributions have fallen well short of projected goals. Meanwhile, Russia and the donors continue to spar over funding goals, and several programs have been slowed by bureaucratic hurdles.
At a June 2002 Group of Eight (G-8) summit in Kananaskis, Canada, the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States established the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction. The initiative, also known as “10 Plus 10 Over 10,” calls on members of the group, as well as other interested donors, to match a U.S. pledge of $10 billion over 10 years to help lockdown and eliminate residual Soviet materials and weapons considered vulnerable to unauthorized use or theft.
Today, 18 countries and the European Union have joined the United States in funding such work in Russia, Ukraine, and beyond. Yet, funding pledges are $3 billion shy of the $20 billion promised, according to the last official estimate from donor countries in June 2005. Among others, Canada, Germany, and the United States have been generous in their pledges, while those from some members, such as Japan, have been more modest.
Moreover, actual contributions appear to fall significantly short of even these pledges. No comprehensive accounting is available, but reports from individual countries such as Germany and Japan indicate that they have not yet delivered on their pledge. In 2002, Germany pledged $1.5 billion to the Global Partnership and as of 2005 had spent the equivalent of $206.5 million at current exchange rates. Japan initially pledged $200 million and has since contributed the current exchange rate equivalent of $6.9 million. In addition, in a 2005 informal poll of government officials and nongovernmental experts conducted by the Moscow-based, independent PIR center, roughly 80 percent of the responders believed that there is a significant gap between the pledges being made and the money that is being received in Russia. When asked whether the $20 billion pledge has been successfully realized as a “floor” and not a “ceiling,” 75 percent said “no.”
Russia, the largest recipient of such assistance, has also clashed with European and U.S. donors over where the funds should be directed. Russia has placed priority on destroying decaying nuclear submarines and chemical weapons, as it is worried about their environmental consequences and is striving to meet its pledge under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) to destroy its entire arsenal of such arms. Many Western donors, by contrast, would like to see funds directed toward programs to secure Russian biological and nuclear weapons facilities and relevant weapons and to retrain experts in these fields.
Moreover, Russia has balked as donors have sought to shift funds to other former Soviet republics or outside the region entirely. (See ACT, June 2004.)
In those areas in which Russia has backed the funding, some progress has been made.
The pace of nuclear submarine dismantlement has accelerated since the Global Partnership began. A fleet of nuclear submarines located in northwest Russia is expected to be dismantled by 2010. Already 32 of the 100 or so submarines in the region have been destroyed, 20 since 2002 alone. Canada, Germany, Japan, Norway, and the United Kingdom are the principal donors for work in the submarine field.
The Global Partnership has been successful in increasing efforts to redirect weapons scientists to peaceful employment through such centers as the International Science and Technology Center in Moscow, which coordinates the multilateral funding of projects for scientists in Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Russia. By 2004, more than 200 private and governmental organizations were participating in the funding of more than 100 research projects.
The partnership has also helped Russia make limited progress in dismantling its vast chemical weapons stockpile, which is the largest in the world. Under the CWC, Russia must complete the destruction of its stockpile by 2012, although this deadline is unlikely to be met (See "U.S. Unable to Meet CWC 2012 Deadline"). Originally, the deadline was set at 2007, but as delays on all sides have mounted, an extension of five years was granted. As of February 2006, Russia had eliminated less than 3 percent of its total stockpile.
But even these efforts have seen setbacks.
The ongoing construction of a chemical weapons destruction facility at Shchuch’ye was slated to be one of the United States’ largest ventures in the Global Partnership. Since 2002 the United States has subsequently earmarked $540 million to destroy the 5,450 metric tons of nerve agents stored at that facility and in neighboring regions. It was scheduled to be completed and operational in time to comply with the original April 2007 deadline.
But inconsistent U.S. funding, a shortage of qualified labor, subcontractor bankruptcies, and Russian government delays have delayed construction. Shchuch’ye is now scheduled to begin operations in late 2008 at the earliest. To try to meet a revised 2007 deadline for eliminating 20 percent of its chemical weapons arsenal, Russia has been forced to focus its efforts on stockpiles at other sites.
Coordination and Legal Challenges
Beyond chemical weapons and submarine destruction, broader problems remain. A challenge for all sides has been coordination. A multitude of disagreements exist over where, when, and how the money is being spent. Laura Holgate, who previously helped manage U.S. assistance efforts at the Departments of Energy and Defense in the Clinton administration, told Arms Control Today March 30 that “identifying collective priorities and making sure that projects are being handled with the best coordination possible is just not happening.”
Donors have not put in place a comprehensive mechanism to oversee the allocation of funds to projects in the recipient countries, creating accountability issues between donors and recipients. Members disagree over how to measure the sums of the pledges reaching the recipient and whether the funds are being used effectively on the ground.
Still, the most significant obstacle is the failure to match stated pledges with actual funds. Both donors and recipients appear to share responsibility for these problems.
Citing national security concerns Russia has refused to provide access to nuclear weapons facilities and projects where foreign equipment has been installed and nuclear warheads are stored. But this has made it difficult for Western governments to convince their legislatures that the programs are delivering good value for their money. As Stephen Rademaker, acting assistant secretary of state for security and nonproliferation issues, explained at an April 12 press conference in Moscow, “[O]ne of the practical challenges in implementing these programs is to strike the balance between our need for accountability and Russia’s need to be satisfied that its national security is being protected.”
A graphic example of this type of problem is the U.S.-built fissile material storage facility near Mayak, Russia. The facility is capable of holding thousands of bombs’ worth of fissile material under tight security while they await destruction. However, because of oversight disagreements between the United States and Russia, the Mayak facility has remained empty since it was handed over to the Russians in 2003.
Moreover, Russia has set up complicated legislative procedures and conditions for completing bilateral agreements, including passage through the Duma. This has slowed the process of sorting through liability and tax exemption legislation, preventing several projects from getting started.
In June, the Cooperative Threat Reduction Umbrella Agreement, which covers U.S. liability for the program, will expire. Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy Peter Flory told the Senate in March that Russia “has accepted U.S. terms for extension of this framework and we believe that we will be able to conclude negotiations well before the June 2006 deadline.” However, the extension to the agreement will still have to be put through the lengthy process of review and approval in several U.S. and Russian government agencies, plus passage through the Duma.
Still, Global Partnership officials have emphasized the need for long-term outlooks in planning and project proposal to ease coordination efforts and avoid overlap in the future.
Holgate suggests that more must be done now to address the urgency of the threats that exist under present conditions. Holgate maintains that “the donors don’t yet themselves internalize the degree to which insecure [weapons of mass destruction] globally are a threat to them and their own interests…and if the powers that be in the donor countries did see the threat to them and their security, they would be doing a lot more a lot faster.”
But Annalisa Giannella, the European Union’s senior nonproliferation official, puts the blame on Russia. “The difficulties that we encounter in implementing our projects in Russia do not encourage us to envisage more projects,” she said. “In addition, there isn’t full agreement with the Russians on the scope of the cooperation under the Global Partnership.”
2. Russian G8 Sherpa: Iran Not Yet on G8 Summit Agenda
(for personal use only)
Russian G8 sherpa Igor Shuvalov said the Iranian nuclear problem was not on the agenda of the upcoming G8 summit in St. Petersburg so far, however it may be included into it.
"On the eve of the summit G8 foreign ministers will take a decision on a possible inclusion of the issue into a separate item of the agenda, which will be submitted for discussion of the heads of state", he told reporters upon concluding consultations with his G8 counterparts.
He said Russia, which currently presides the G8, proposed three main issues for discussion - energy security, education, and the fight against infectious diseases, as the problems are global and important not only for G8 countries, but for the whole world.
Commenting on the plans of Russian Gazprom giant to expand its presence in Europe, Shuvalov said: "European countries have to understand that the situation is changing. Russia believes it is necessary to create a situation when one region depends on the other."
"We believe our G8 partners have to propose new approaches to energy security, but not the traditional ones, which we see from OPEC or from the countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development." As far as possible protests of anti-globalists at the G8 summit are concerned, Shuvalov said Russia was ready for them.
"We would definitely prefer that they (anti-globalists) do not come exclusively for security reasons. But we shall not tell them not to come and we shall not erect official barriers for them either. They will enjoy the same rights, which they enjoyed during the presidency of any other country", he said.
The United States is considering aiding Libya with the destruction of its chemical weapons stockpile, but Department of Defense officials are expressing reservations about spending the department’s limited threat reduction funds on a potentially expensive project.
In December 2003, Libya pledged to eliminate all elements of its nuclear and chemical weapons programs and soon thereafter acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which prohibits states-parties from developing, producing, or using chemical weaponry. (See ACT, March 2004.) During an initial inspection in March 2004, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the CWC’s implementing body, verified Libya’s declared stockpile of 23 metric tons of mustard gas and more than 1,300 metric tons of precursor chemicals. The CWC requires Libya to destroy both by April 29, 2007, although Libya has requested an extension.
Libya has already destroyed more than 3,500 unfilled aerial munitions and received permission from the OPCW to convert a former chemical weapons facility at Rabta into a pharmaceuticals plant. (See ACT, October 2004.)
James Tegnelia, director of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), told reporters March 30 that, based on initial estimates, U.S. assistance for destroying the weapons could cost more than $100 million. That would represent a substantial slice of the Defense Department’s budget for implementing the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) program to dismantle weapons of mass destruction programs in the former Soviet Union and elsewhere. For fiscal year 2007, President George W. Bush has asked Congress to provide $372 million for the program. (See ACT, March 2006.)
By comparison, the United States expects to give Albania about $20 million in assistance over two years to destroy its 16 metric tons of chemical agent. (See ACT, December 2004.)
Peter Flory, assistant secretary of defense for international security policy, told Congress April 5 that any destruction project would be “fairly expensive” because the weapons and materials are stored in a remote location in the desert, about 600 kilometers from Tripoli, Libya’s coastal capital. Speaking at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, he said that transporting these weapons would almost certainly be necessary. “Where these things are now does not have any water, and chemical [demilitarization] is a very water-intensive process.” He also noted that temperatures during the day often reach 140 degrees Fahrenheit at the location, which was not disclosed for security reasons.
The choice of destruction method and the issue of transporting the chemical agent to a more suitable location will have an effect on the final costs. A joint team of officials from DTRA and the Department of State has visited Libya and is in the process of drafting a report on possible options.
Given the technical challenges, both Tegnelia and Flory expressed reservations about using limited CTR funds for this project, especially given the other projects competing for funding, particular in the former Soviet Union. “We have to consider what are the opportunity costs of doing that particular bit of work,” said Flory, who also stated that any decision should carefully consider the conditions of the munitions, their proliferation risks, and the technical challenges.
“In the end, meeting the Chemical Weapons Convention responsibility is the Libyan government’s responsibility,” Tegnelia added.
But Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), who chaired the April 5 hearing, said, “It would seem that the Cooperative Threat Reduction program is the most logical candidate” to bear the costs of the destruction. Cornyn said that Congress in December 2003 authorized the use of CTR funds outside of the former Soviet Union “with the specific example of Libya in mind.”
The United States has announced that it will not be able to destroy its stockpile of chemical weapons before a final deadline required by the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), even with the maximum one-time extension permitted by the treaty.
In April 10 letters to the chairs of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said that by April 2012 the United States anticipated destroying only 66 percent of its stockpile, the second largest in the world. As of mid-April, the United States has destroyed about 39 percent of its 38,000-metric-ton stockpile. A Department of Defense official said that based on the current timeline, destruction activities will not be completed at all sites until 2017.
The convention requires the United States to destroy its stockpile by April 29, 2007. However, the treaty does permit states-parties to request a one-time, five-year extension to the final deadline, allowing destruction activities to continue until April 2012. The Conference of States-Parties, the CWC body that must approve all deadline extensions, effectively granted the United States the one-time extension in 2003 when it extended an interim deadline for destroying 45 percent of the stockpile to December 2007.
During an April 20 informal meeting of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Executive Council, Eric Javits, the U.S. ambassador to the international body, indicated that the United States planned to formally request the final deadline extension to April 2012, but acknowledged that the United States would not be able to meet even that target. The executive council will consider the U.S. request at its next meeting May 16-19 and send any recommendations to the Conference of States-Parties for approval in December.
“It has taken longer than anticipated to build facilities and to obtain the necessary permits and consent to begin destruction of chemical weapons, and we have found that, once operating, our facilities have not destroyed weapons as rapidly as we initially projected,” Javits said.
During an April 17 briefing in Washington, a State Department official said that although the United States might miss the 2012 deadline, it was not a reflection of the commitment to the goal of the CWC, which remains “strong.”
The consequences of the U.S. failure to meet the CWC’s final deadline are unclear. Article XII of the convention permits states-parties to take measures to address issues of noncompliance but does not spell out any automatic penalties. CWC states-parties could choose to pursue various individual or collective actions against the United States. (See ACT, June 2005.) However, the State Department official did not believe the other states-parties would impose any serious sanctions and downplayed the possibility of amending the CWC to extend the deadline.
The United States is not alone in its tardiness. Of the five other states that have declared stockpiles of weapons, only Albania is expected to complete destruction activities by April 2007, a State Department official said. Despite claims that it will destroy its entire stockpile in accordance with the CWC, Russia is also widely expected to miss the 2012 deadline. Russia has destroyed less than 3 percent of its stockpile, which at 41,000 metric tons is the largest declared stockpile.
South Korea has already received a deadline extension until the end of 2008, while the Executive Council will be considering May 16-19 requests from India and Libya along with that from the United States. Libya is awaiting a U.S. decision about whether to provide destruction assistance (See "Libya Chemcial Weapons Destruction Costly"). India and Libya, said the State Department official, are expected to request one-time extensions of less than five years. Japan and China have also requested an extension to the deadline to destroy the chemical weapons Japan abandoned in China at the end of World War II.
In the United States, at least six of nine chemical weapons disposal facilities will be continuing operations beyond 2012, including four U.S. Army incineration facilities. Of these, a facility in Umatilla, Oregon, is not expected to finish until 2017. A fifth Army-operated disposal facility in Newport, Indiana, has begun neutralizing chemical agents but has encountered resistance from the public and certain state governments to a plan to transport hydrolysate, a caustic by-product of the neutralization process, to New Jersey for further treatment. Construction of an on-site treatment plant could add $300 million in costs and up to four years to the destruction process, said a Defense Department official.
Two other planned destruction sites in Pueblo, Colorado, and Blue Grass, Kentucky, are still in the design phase. Both facilities, which are operated by the Defense Department independent of the Army, are not expected to be operational until 2011 and would not complete their destruction activities until 2017.
In the past, Senators from Colorado and Kentucky have blasted the Defense Department for failing to adequately fund efforts at both sites (see ACT, March 2005). Recently, Colorado’s two Senators offered a non-binding resolution acknowledging the importance of meeting the treaty’s deadline and calling upon the department not to slacken its efforts.
A Defense Department official estimated that, without further changes, the final costs of destroying the entire stockpile, including the costs of cleaning up and closing the disposal facility sites, would be $32 billion. That number is up from the initial estimate of $14.6 billion and the 2001 estimate of $23.7 billion. (See ACT, May 2004.)
3. A long way to go in eliminating chemical weapons
Jonathan B. Tucker and Paul F. Walker
(for personal use only)
THIS WEEKEND marked the ninth anniversary of the international Chemical Weapons Convention, which bans the development, production, and use of deadly chemical agents and requires the destruction of existing stockpiles.
One year remains until the deadline for completing the destruction of all declared chemical weapons stocks, more than 71,000 metric tons globally. Yet only about 13,000 tons (18 percent) have been destroyed, requiring the treaty timetable to be extended. Of the six countries that have declared chemical stockpiles under the convention, only one -- Albania -- has any chance of eliminating them on time. Despite this setback, we must not abandon the goal of ridding the world of these weapons.
The United States and Russia, which possess more than 95 percent of the Cold War stockpiles of chemical arms, have both requested a five-year extension of the deadline until 2012, as permitted under the treaty. By mid-April, the United States had destroyed about 39 percent of its declared inventory of 28,575 metric tons stored at eight Army depots around the country. But Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, in an April 10 letter to congressional leaders, admitted that the United States will destroy only about 66 percent of the stockpile by April 2012.
Russia is further behind, having destroyed less than 3 percent of its 40,000 metric tons by the end of March. Both the United States and Russia will likely take another decade to eliminate their aging and dangerous chemical arsenals.
Four other countries -- Albania, Libya, South Korea, and India -- have declared much smaller chemical weapons stockpiles and pledged to destroy them, while Japan is faced with eliminating the vast buried stockpile that it abandoned in China during World War II.
Albania possesses 16 tons of a mixture of two blister agents in barrels, discovered in 2002 by Albanian officials searching for weapons caches. Because some of these containers bear Chinese labels, it is suspected that Albania's former communist regime imported them during the 1980s from the People's Republic of China. The United States is helping Albania to destroy its stockpile, with additional assistance from Greece, Italy, Switzerland, and the European Union. Destruction is slated to begin in July and should be completed by April 2007, the convention's deadline, should no unanticipated delays occur.
Libya has declared 23.62 metric tons of mustard agent and more than 1,300 metric tons of chemical ingredients for making nerve agents, stored at a remote site in the Libyan desert. The cost of elimination is estimated at about $100 million, which Washington has agreed to fund with congressional approval. The timeline for destruction is uncertain because of several political obstacles, not least the fact that Libya remains on the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism. To cover the worst case, Tripoli will probably request a five-year extension until 2012.
South Korea has declared a single chemical weapons production facility and a stockpile of 156,000 sarin artillery shells of the ''binary" type, in which the lethal agent is produced only after the shells are fired. By the end of March, Seoul had incinerated 67 percent of the binary agents; it aims to eliminate the rest by December 2008, also requiring an extension of the deadline.
India has a declared stockpile of 1,044 metric tons of sulfur mustard. Less than 2 percent of the agent was filled into artillery shells and the remainder stored in bulk containers. As of March, India had destroyed 53 percent of its stockpile, including all of the filled munitions, but it will probably need an extension until 2009 to complete the process.
Japan, although not a current possessor of chemical weapons, abandoned large stocks of chemical munitions in northeastern China during World War II. China contends that some 2 million Japanese chemical shells, containing a total of about 100 metric tons of agent, remain to be recovered, while Japan estimates the total number as closer to 700,000. Although the convention is somewhat vague about the deadline for destroying old and abandoned chemical weapons, China is urging Japan to request an extension.
A number of other states that have not yet joined the convention are believed to possess chemical weapons, including Egypt, Israel, Syria, and North Korea. Egypt, a close US ally, has so far refused to sign the convention but has proposed a Middle East free of all weapons of mass destruction. Israel has signed the convention but declined to ratify the treaty until its hostile neighbors, Syria and Iran, give up their own alleged chemical warfare capabilities. (Although Iran is a party to the convention, the US government claims that it retains illicit chemical weapons production facilities and possibly an active stockpile.) Another holdout, North Korea, has an estimated 2,500-5,000 tons of blister and nerve agents, much of which is weaponized in artillery shells and rockets within firing range of Seoul.
The latest delays by the United States, Russia, and other countries in destroying their stockpiles are troubling, particularly given the risk that poorly secured weapons could fall into the hands of terrorists. It is essential for governments and nongovernmental organizations to continue pressuring all states that possess chemical arms to join the Chemical Weapons Convention and destroy their stocks as quickly and safely as possible. Only by keeping our eyes on the prize will it be possible to eliminate this entire class of weapons of mass destruction.
China Urges Japan to Speed up Destruction of Abandoned Chemical Weapons 2006-05-02 15:16:48 Xinhua Related: Diplomatic Move Adopted to Improve Sino-Japanese Ties
China has asked Japanese diet members to urge their government to fulfill the promise it made to the international community and China on destroying the Japanese abandoned chemical weapons, and to completely destroy them as early as possible, the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.
Between April 29 and May 2, Endo Otohiko, head of the Japan-China New Century Association, led five diet members of the association and paid a visit to some burial sites of the abandoned chemical weapons in northeast China's Jilin Province and south China's Guangdong Province.
Takamatsu Akila, who is in charge of the Abandoned Chemical Weapons Office of the Cabinet Office, kept them company during the visit.
Officials of the two Chinese ministries who accompanied the Japanese visitors briefed them of the harm and menace those abandoned chemical weapons brought to the Chinese people and the environment.
They urged Japanese diet members to urge their government to fulfill the promise it made in the Convention on the Banning of Chemical Weapons and the memorandum of the two countries on the destruction of the Japanese abandoned chemical weapons, and to completely destroy all these weapons as early as possible.
Official statistics show that Japan abandoned at least 2 million tons of chemical weapons in about 40 sites in 15 provinces in China when it was defeated in World War II, with a large proportion in the northeast China.
A total of 2,000 Chinese people have fallen victims to the chemical weapons over the past decades.
An August 2003 toxic leak which killed one and injured 43 others in Qiqihar City of northeast China's Heilongjiang Province was the most serious tragedy in recent years.
China and Japan signed a memorandum in 1999, in which Japan agreed to provide all the necessary funds, equipment and personnel for the retrieval and destruction of all Japanese abandoned chemical weapons in China by 2007.
4. 166 tns of lewisite eliminated over two months at Kambarka
(for personal use only)
Over 166 tonnes of lewisite has been eliminated at the chemical arms disposal facility in Kambarka, Udmurtia. The first unit of the facility went operational two months ago, on March 1. The second unit, built in Russia under the federal program for chemical arms elimination program was commissioned three weeks later.
“The capacity of the facility in Kambarka is approximately 6-8 times that of the industrial complex built in Gorny, the Saratov Region,” the deputy chief of the conventional problems department in Udmurtia’s government, Valery Malyshev told. “Two to three and a half tonnes of lewisite, one of the most dangerous chemical warfare agents, is eliminated there a day.”
The process of lewisite’s detoxication and conversion into less hazardous agents is automated and it rules out the participation of humans or their presence inside the industrial facility.
Kambarka is one of Russia’s seven chemical weapons stockpiles, where more than 6.3 tonnes of lewisite (15.9 percent of all of the country’s chemical warfare agents) have been kept in stock since 1940s. All lewisite at Kambarka is to be eliminated over three and a half years.
By ratifying the Hague convention prohibiting the development, creation, stockpiling, use or proliferation of chemical weapons Russia assumed the international obligation to eliminate all of the 40,000 tonnes of chemical warfare agents it inherited from the USSR.
“Today the world is celebrating Chemical Weapons Victims Day, proclaimed by the 10th session of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. We can say that all of our obligations have been fulfilled as expected. The facility operates at the expected pace, the amount of lewisite in store is shrinking and the territory of our republic is becoming a safe place,” Malyshev said.
1. Doomsday cargo is safe after top-secret odyssey
(for personal use only)
After six years of international wrangling a deadly nuclear stockpile has been removed
IT WAS the stuff of modern nightmares: nearly 10st (63 kilograms) of weapons-grade uranium — enough to make 2.5 nuclear bombs — sitting in a poorly guarded research facility in the former Soviet republic of Uzbekistan.
For six years American, Russian and Uzbek officials wrangled over how to dispose safely — and secretly — of the stockpile near the Uzbek capital of Tashkent.
This month they finally pulled it off.
In an unprecedented operation, the highly enriched uranium was taken on a train to a reprocessing plant in Russia, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency. The mission was the first of its kind since the Soviet collapse in 1991, and could serve as a model for dozens of other sites around the region, the IAEA said.
“This may be a small quantity, but it is a very important step forwards — it’s a pathfinder,” Pablo Adelfang, an IAEA official, told The Times. “With the lessons learnt from this one, the others will come easier.”
Environmental groups welcomed the operation, but gave warning that Russia was creating similar problems for the future by exporting nuclear fuel to other countries, including India and Iran. “It’s important that Uzbekistan does not have this kind of material,” said Jan Vande Butte, the head of Greenpeace’s nuclear campaign. “But overall this is not going to reduce the risks because Russia’s policy is to increase exports of such materials.”
Moscow first sent the fuel to Uzbekistan in the Soviet era for use in a ten-megawatt research reactor at the Institute of Nuclear Physics of Uzbekistan, 19 miles from Tashkent.
When the Soviet Union collapsed it was among hundreds of nuclear facilities that were left vulnerable to theft, terrorist attacks or accidents because of poor security and funding.
Concerns about such sites grew after September 11, 2001, and the US set up the Global Threat Reduction Initiative in 2004 to try to stop terrorists from obtaining nuclear material.
The Uzbek reactor was of particular concern because of its large stockpile of spent fuel, Mr Adelfang said. “In other words, it would no longer injure anyone who handled it for a short period of time and therefore would not deter potential thieves.”
The IAEA, the US, Russia, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan took six years to agree on a plan to transport the fuel by train through Kazakhstan to the Mayak nuclear processing plant in the Russian city of Chelyabinsk. The mission involved about 50 people, but fewer than 10 knew all its details because of security concerns.
Russia is still fighting Chechen rebels who have carried out a string of recent terrorist attacks. This month Kazakh border guards found a bomb near the Aksu railway station on the Russian border.
Uzbekistan is dealing with the aftermath of last year’s uprising in the eastern city of Andijan which security forces crushed, killing dozens of people. US criticism of the massacre soured relations between Washington and Tashkent, complicating the nuclear mission.
Brian Wilkes, a spokesman for America’s National Nuclear Security Administration, said that the US had funded the $11 million (£6 million) operation and provided equipment and training.
The fuel, which was stored under water, was placed in Russian casks in reinforced containers. There were four shipments between January and April 19. For each one, three trucks transported the fuel six miles to a station where they were loaded on a train.
The IAEA is now helping to convert the Uzbek reactor to run on fuel that cannot make a nuclear weapon; 33 such research reactors have been converted. But more than 100 others — many in the former Soviet Union — still run on weapons-grade uranium.
1. Counterproliferation Initiative Expanding, State's Joseph Says; Under secretary attributes PSI's success to voluntary nature, informal structure
David Anthony Denny
U.S. Department of State/Bureau of International Information Programs
(for personal use only)
Support for the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) now has spread to nearly 80 countries, a senior State Department official says.
Since it was first proposed by President Bush in Poland in May 2003, the number of countries supporting the PSI exceeds 70, and several others cooperate on an informal basis, according to Robert Joseph, under secretary of state for arms control and international security.
Under the Proliferation Security Initiative, participants agree to take effective measures to interdict the transfer or transport of weapons of mass destruction, their delivery systems and related materials. The PSI envisions states working cooperatively, employing their national capabilities to develop a broad range of legal, diplomatic, economic, military and other tools to interdict shipments of such items.
Participation by nearly 80 countries "represents phenomenal growth from the time that the president announced this in May of 2003," Joseph told the Washington File April 25.
PSI grew very rapidly following the president's announcement and the work of a core group of governments (Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States), he said. This core group developed a set of principles for participation in PSI and then opened the initiative to voluntary participation, he said.
Growth in PSI participation has continued at a steady pace, Joseph said, with a number of recent endorsements that represent the continued expansion of the initiative. He said PSI has been endorsed by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and is reflected in U.N. Security Council Resolution 1540 (dealing with the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction). (See related article.)
PSI "has become a standard of good nonproliferation behavior," Joseph said. In the under secretary's view, as more countries understand the nature of PSI and its successes, it will grow even more.
"The success of the initiative is in part attributable to the much different approach that we took from traditional nonproliferation initiatives," Joseph said. "This is not a treaty-based approach," but rather a bringing together of those governments "that are committed to acting proactively to stop or disrupt the trade in proliferation," he said.
PSI participants act under national legal authorities, he said, and consistent with existing international legal authorities. It has become clear throughout the international community, Joseph said, that PSI is fully consistent with international law -- particularly treaties governing the banning of certain weapons and discouraging proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
President Bush envisioned PSI as a global effort when he launched it, said Joseph, with countries from all regions involved. Participants include those located in key geostrategic regions, as well as countries that serve as major transshipment hubs for a broad range of materials.
"It is not a Western initiative; it is an initiative that is truly international," he said.
Joseph mentioned two upcoming PSI events. Turkey will sponsor an exercise in May that will focus primarily on interdiction. Poland will host the first High Level Political Meeting of the PSI -- a major policy-level gathering in June that corresponds to the third anniversary of the initiative.
In some recent exercises, he said, more than one type of interdiction was involved, including law enforcement elements and the sharing of information or intelligence, and the operation of military capabilities, including coast guards. To date 21 interdiction exercises have taken place, with complexity increasing with each exercise.
"We're trying to broaden the scope as a means of responding to the growing proliferators challenge," Joseph said, because proliferators are learning that they have to take new measures.
"What you have is an offense-defense interaction," he added, where proliferators change tactics and methods when they see that governments are prepared to stop them.
A fact sheet and a statement of principles on PSI are available on the State Department Web site.
The Turkish Straits have been the transit route for heavily radioactive materials. It has transpired that since 17 December 2004 four vessels carrying nuclear fuel material and uranium, the radioactive element used in the manufacture of nuclear weapons, have transited the Straits.
The first of these vessels passed through on 17 December 2004. The vessel, named Jaguar, took 246 tons of uranium from France to Ukraine via the Bosphorus. The second, a ship called Pegasus, took 13.7 tons of heavily radioactive material from the United States to Russia via the Bosphorus on 1 June 2005. On 27 October 2005 a ship called Tiger passed through the Bosphorus carrying 246 tons of uranium. A fourth vessel, the Jens Munk, took 287 tons of uranium from Ukraine to France passing through the Bosphorus on 27 February 2006.
Captain Salih Orakci General Director of the Coastal Security and Ship Rescue Authority, which regulates maritime traffic through the Bosphorus, confirmed the transits. Stating that they had taken measures according to the ships' transit reports, Orakci said:
"Four vessels, one in 2004, two in 2005 and one this year, stated they were carrying uranium and radioactive material and asked for us to provide environmental security for the transits. We implemented navigational and environmental security measures and ensured their passage through Turkish territorial waters."
Turkish Atomic Energy Agency experts said of the uranium oxide in the transit documents for 27 February 2006: "This material is a uranium compound. It is also known as Yellow Cake. It is a chemical compound. It can be used everywhere as nuclear fuel."
Five Years 8,000 Tons
It has emerged that Russia made an agreement with the EU for $21 billion enabling EU member countries to store their nuclear waste in Siberia. It was agreed to bring this waste into Russia via the Turkish Straits. Officials said that in the last five years some 8,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel has passed through the Bosphorus, and that a further 12,000 tons would pass through by 2012.
Sea Passage Great Risk
Prime Ministry Assistant Under Secretary for Maritime Affairs Bekir Sitki Ustaoglu said it was very risky transporting nuclear waste by sea. Ustaoglu said that according to the Montreaux Convention for the Straits Turkey could not intervene in any vessels making non-stop transits, but that precautions were taken when the ships' reports noted dangerous materials.
What Do Regulations Say?
According to the "Statues Regulating Sea Traffic in the Bosphorus" dated 1998 and which regulates the passage of vessels through the Bosphorus, there are no restrictions on the passage of nuclear waste. According to Article 26, vessels carrying cargo or waste inform the authorities of their cargo during the planning of their route at least 72 hours in advance.
1. Measure allows South Carolina to proceed with MOX plant
(for personal use only)
South Carolina could construct a factory at the Savannah River Site to convert weapons-grade nuclear material into fuel for power plants regardless of Russia's plans under an agreement passed Thursday by a U.S. House committee.
South Carolina agreed in 2002 to accept 34 tons of weapons-grade plutonium at SRS if the U.S. Energy Department built a mixed oxide fuel, or MOX, facility to convert the plutonium into fuel. At the same time, the United States agreed to help fund the construction of a similar MOX plant in Russia, meant to operate on a parallel track with the SRS plant.
Liability issues and Russia's full-funding demands have delayed the construction of both plants, U.S. Rep. John Spratt, D-S.C., said in a release Thursday.
Spratt, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said he was concerned South Carolina would receive 34 tons of plutonium without a way of processing it. He said the first draft of the Defense Authorization bill confirmed his fears.
Spratt said the bill, as passed by the committee, now allows the U.S. Energy Department to negotiate with the Russians but ensures South Carolina can move forward on MOX whether the Russians do or not.
"It helps guarantee that South Carolina won't be left holding the bag for our country's plutonium indefinitely into the future," Spratt said.
The bill still must receive approval on the House floor and in the Senate.
2. Proposed fuel plant at SRS in jeopardy; Hundreds of millions of dollars for facility frozen, cut; it could have created 1,000 jobs
(for personal use only)
A congressional panel this week slashed or froze hundreds of millions of dollars for a proposed mixed-oxide fuel plant at Savannah River Site, raising renewed doubts about the future of the planned facility.
The so-called “MOX” project at the nuclear campus outside Aiken has been touted as both a powerful S.C. job engine and a means to rid the world of tons of weapons-grade plutonium.
On top of those cuts, SRS is facing a $200 million budget shortfall in fiscal 2007.
South Carolinians in Congress say the federal government promised the money, and that without it, an unspecified number of jobs could be lost and other cleanup missions could stagnate at the nuclear waste storage site.
Still, there’s reason for hope, these same politicians say — both for the MOX plant and the SRS budget.
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett, R-S.C., on Wednesday met with Linton Brooks, head of the National Nuclear Security Administration. Brooks “is committed to building a MOX plant in South Carolina,” said Graham, who said construction could begin in the fall.
That’s whether or not, Graham continued, the Russians build a MOX plant of their own.
For years the Russian and American MOX plants developed — and stalled — as a joint project.
And Graham, who represented the Aiken area as a congressman, said he is optimistic the Senate will restore the $200 million SRS budget shortfall.
But Barrett, who succeeded Graham in the House, worried the money might not materialize. The Bush administration, he said, hasn’t pushed hard enough to ensure SRS, which once supplied much of the fuel for the nation’s nuclear arsenal, gets what it needs.
“We’ve have had a lot of promises and a lot of commitments from the Department of Energy,” said Barrett. “Unfortunately, many times the money doesn’t meet the mouth.”
Department of Energy spokesman Jim Giusti cautioned against drawing conclusions about the funding gap and possible consequences.
“It is too early in the budget process to discuss specific actions that could be taken at SRS,” he said.
It will be months until the full House and Senate agree on how much to send to the site.
As for MOX, U.S. Rep. John Spratt, D-S.C., who supports the project, sits on the House Armed Services Committee panel that cut that Bush administration’s $600 million request for the S.C. plant. Spratt didn’t support the cuts and wants to see the project succeed.
But realistically, he said, its future now appears “unclear.”
Boosters say the plant could generate 1,000 jobs in South Carolina. International politics has so far stood in its way.
Russia, with help from the United States, had agreed to build a MOX plant like the one proposed for SRS. The idea was for the S.C. and Russian plants to anchor an international effort to transform weapons-grade plutonium into commercial grade fuel in both countries. Several other U.S. allies pledged money to the Russian project to help secure some of the most dangerous nuclear material in Europe.
Russia, however, has not moved forward on MOX.
“The time is past that we want to bring the Russians along in a parallel fashion,” said Barrett. “Today is the day that if they don’t comply, we’re going to forge ahead.”
But Congress is wary about MOX in South Carolina and wants to see a clear plan before it allocates more money.
On Thursday, the panel of the House Armed Services Committee that cut $150 million and froze another $450 million for MOX said the money should not be used until the Bush administration shows either that the Russians are committed to the project or that the S.C. plant is by itself worthy of funding.
Spratt is particularly concerned about the 34 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium slated for a MOX plant at SRS. Some of it is already at the site.
In 2001, he supported former Gov. Jim Hodges, a Democrat, in a lawsuit that sought to stop the federal government from shipping high-grade nuclear waste to SRS. They argued there was no clear plan to dispose of the material, and worried it would languish in South Carolina indefinitely.
Upon taking office in 2003, Republican Gov. Mark Sanford dropped the suit.
In South Carolina, a consortium including Duke Energy would build the MOX plant and use the fuel in the company’s Catawba reactor, in York County, and McGuire reactor, north of Charlotte.
Duke and consortium spokesmen referred all questions on MOX to the Department of Energy. But Duke spokesman Tim Pettit added those reactors are not dependent on MOX fuel to provide power.
1. Uzbekistan to form uranium JV with Russian companies
(for personal use only)
Uzbekistan plans to form a joint venture with Russia's Techsnabexport and Rusburmash to develop the Aktau uranium field by the middle of this year, a source in Uzbek government circles told Interfax.
The source said this would be Uzbekistan's first uranium sector project involving foreign investors.
The Uzbek partners in the joint venture will be the Navoi Mining and Metals Plant and the Uzbek State Geology and Mineral Resources Committee.
It is thought at this stage that the joint venture will produce 300 tonnes of uranium per year, and that direct investment by the Russian companies will be approximately $31 million.
The agreement to create the joint venture could be signed by the end of the first half of 2006. The size of the joint venture's charter capital and the equity distribution have not yet been decided.
"A feasibility study is being performed and the package of founding documents is being put together," the source said, adding that the joint venture might start operating by the end of this year if financing is opened.
The State Geology Committee has said that the Aktau field contains a probable 4,400 tonnes of uranium, but that the reserves could grow 50% as the result of additional exploration.
The Navoi plant is Uzbekistan's uranium monopoly. It has three enterprises that mine uranium by the in situ leach (ISL) method. The uranium is milled at the No. 1 Hydrometallurgical Plant in the city of Navoi.
Navoi produced 2,301 tonnes of uranium in 2005, compared with 2,016 tonnes in 2004.
The geology committee has said 27 uranium fields in the Kyzyl Kum region form the core of the country's uranium resource base. The country's total uranium reserves are estimated at 55,000 tonnes.
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.
2. Russian company to take part in tender for 2 nuclear power plants
Islamic Republic News Agency
(for personal use only)
An official from the Russian Atom Stroi Export Company announced Tuesday that it is ready to participate in Iran's tender on two new nuclear power plant projects.
Head of Russia's Nuclear Power Plants Organization affiliated to Atom Stroi Export, Vladimir Pavlov told Itar Tass News Agency that they are in a position to build such power plants, given their access to relevant technology.
"Russia's nuclear industrial units are equipped with the most advanced technologies in manufacturing nuclear power plants.
"We are getting prepared to survey our facilities to participate in the tenders to be held by Iran for building nuclear power plants.
If our technical specifications are accepted and the political conditions are favorable, we will participate in the upcoming tenders," he added.
Atom Stroi Export Co. is implementing the first unit of Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant.
Pavlov added that 90 percent of the operations at the first unit of Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant has been completed.
"At present, the final stage of the installation of the equipment is underway and according to the relevant timetable, the first phase is expected to become operational by the end of the current year (2006)," he added.
He said that Russian experts working on this project have to adjust the Russian technical specifications with those designed by the Germans.
3. Why US should lift curbs on Russian uranium exports
Gulf Times (Doha, Qatar)
(for personal use only)
Last week Moscow hosted the fourth national energy forum on “Russia’s Fuel and Energy Sector in the 21st Century.”
The forum organisers and guests agreed that nuclear industry had entered a period of renaissance, which is logical in view of the common intention to reduce the share of hydrocarbons in the global energy balance.
However, participants in the roundtable that was held after the forum also pointed to certain “atavisms” in the development of the nuclear industry that do not fit the logic of constructive and equitable energy relations between Russia and the United States.
Why the two countries? Russia is the world’s main provider of enriched uranium, and is likely to keep this position in the future, while the US stubbornly upholds anti-dumping restrictions on the export of Russian uranium to the American market.
Delegates from private US consumers of uranium, who attended the roundtable, clearly spoke for reviewing the policy of the US Department of Commerce regarding Russian suppliers.
Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. is for opening markets to various components of the nuclear fuel cycle and to uranium enrichment and conversion services, said the company’s Vice President James A Tramuto. This will allow diversifying the portfolio of suppliers by stipulating work with existing and future nuclear power plans, and in this way ensure the growth of supplies.
There are no reasons to keep the restrictions because the situation has changes since their introduction, said James Malone, vice president of nuclear fuels at Exelon, the largest nuclear operator in the United States.
Jeff Combs, president of the UX Consulting Co., said retaining the restrictions would slow down the development of the nuclear industry.
Uranium prices have doubled in the last two years. The world needs Russian uranium, and Russia should keep its leading place on the global uranium market, especially because American companies have 103 nuclear power units and only one fuel supplier in the United States. This is clearly not enough to ensure the nuclear safety of the country now, let alone in the future when the US will start building 13 new nuclear blocks.
As representatives of private companies, we are well aware of this, but the Department of Energy does not want to see the problem, the American guests of the Russian energy forum said.
According to Russia’s Techsnabexport (Tenex), one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of nuclear materials, services and equipment with the annual turnover of $2 billion, Russia has 50% of the world’s uranium enrichment facilities. Russian enrichment technologies are the most efficient and profitable in the world. If Russia is given equal conditions with other countries on the global market of the nuclear fuel cycle, it will satisfy 25-30% of the world’s demand, said Tenex head Vladimir Smirnov.
The anti-dumping restriction on Russia’s uranium exports were imposed during the Soviet era, when the Soviet Ministry of Nuclear Energy delivered a huge amount of natural uranium on the world markets, including the United States, sending prices crashing. The anti-dumping procedure was complemented with restrictions on the Russian ministry. As a result, Russia now may operate on the US market only through a special agent, who is actually its rival.
But the most paradoxical thing is that the world’s most liberal American economy, of which Washington is rightly proud, is doing its best to save the unprofitable domestic producer. In fact, the US uranium producers, who are using the technologies of the dawn of the nuclear era, survive only thanks to the Russian nuclear industry. Russian nuclear technologies have surged far ahead, and uranium export restrictions are doing colossal damage to the Russian enrichment and nuclear generation sectors.
Low enriched uranium is not the natural uranium against which the restrictions were designed, but fuel for nuclear power plants. Russian producers and American consumers cannot understand why enriched uranium, which is a high-tech service, should suffer from the restrictions.
But this is not all.
The anti-dumping procedure that is being used in the United States and several European countries does not spread to the 1993 HEU-LEU (highly enriched uranium – low enriched uranium) agreement signed for 20 years.
Under it, Russia removes 500 metric tons of highly enriched uranium from its scrapped warheads, converts it into low enriched uranium and delivers it to the Untied States as fuel for American nuclear power plants.
The restrictions were suspended for the duration of the investigation, but the United States has set a quota stipulating a restrictive 116% duty on uranium exports made in excess of the quota. Russia has exhausted its quota in 2002. It can continue working despite the high duty, said Smirnov, but Tenex would appeal the size of the duty in case of the lifting of the anti-dumping measures. It will rely on the precedent of French company Areva, for which the duty was cut to near zero.
1. Russian navy set to reinforce its submarine fleet - commander
(for personal use only)
The Russian navy will invest most of its five-year budget into submarines, Navy Commander-in-Chief Admiral Vladimir Masorin told a news conference in Kazan on Wednesday (3 May).
"In the near five years, the priority domain for us will be nuclear submarines, and then we will redistribute funding for the development of general-purpose forces," Masorin said after a meeting with directors of defence industry companies from Tatarstan, which was held on the premises of the Zelenodolsk shipyard.
He emphasized that the naval leg of the strategic nuclear forces will have to be totally renewed in the coming years.
"The leadership of the Zelenodolsk shipyard did understand that general-purpose ships, i.e. surface ships, have good prospects for the future. I don't mean cruisers now, as we think that the mainstay of the future general-purpose fleet will be made of the ships we are building now, i.e. gunboats and frigates," he said.
Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaymiyev noted during the news conference that the main merit of the republic's leadership is the fact that during the time of instability it managed to keep the defence industry afloat. "The defence industry potential of the republic was retained, and the enterprises are ready to make the products needed by the navy to defend the interests of the country at sea," he said.
2. The Submarine Was only Smoldering... A Pacific Fleet Nuclear Submarine Avoided the Latest ChP [Emergency Situation]
Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye
(for personal use only)
On April 13, a fire situation emerged on a Pacific Fleet submarine at a dock in the restricted city of Vilyuchinsk (the Kamchatka Peninsula). Quite contradictory information on that score was released from the Pacific Fleet directorate in Vladivostok and from Navy Headquarters in Moscow. First, some mass media agencies reported the fire with a reference to a source at Pacific Fleet Headquarters. Admiral Viktor Fedorov, the Pacific Fleet commander, immediately refuted the report's information, having called it "nothing other than disinformation". "No incidents whatsoever have been recorded on Pacific Fleet ships in the last few days," - the admiral stressed. - "All of the ships and submarines are at their bases at readiness to put to sea based upon the order of the command authorities. Some of them are undergoing scheduled maintenance".
Three hours later, Captain 1 st Rank Igor Dygalo, an assistant to the Navy commander-in-chief, announced that not a case of a fire, but "insignificant combustion and smoke of a compartment" had occurred "while conducting welding work on a submarine". In a telephone conversation with an "NVO" columnist, the captain 1 st rank, while citing the Pacific Fleet commander's report, which was lying in front of him, reported that the submarine actually was a nuclear submarine, and a rag flared up and began to smolder during the previously mentioned work on it. "As a result of which they recorded that smoke (had filled) one of the spaces of the submarine's compartment", - Igor Dygalo said. To the question, why had Admiral Fedorov been silent about that, the assistant to the commander-in-chief responded that talking about dust cloths is not something that a person who holds a fleet commander's rank should be doing. What is more, in the captain 1 st rank's words, "in accordance with the guiding documents, what occurred is neither an incident nor a fire". "Yes and this did not pose a hazard", Igor Dygalo noted. - "The combustion was immediately extinguished using authorized fire extinguishing equipment. We also cannot talk about the threat of an explosion or of radioactive contamination. The submarine's compartment was ventilated and the repair work continued. No one was injured".
"Of course, to seamen it is more obvious what they should consider to be an emergency situation on complex naval equipment, and what is not included among them", Anatoliy Taras, told "NVO", while commenting on this incident. Taras is an historian of domestic and world navies, and the author of a recently published six-volume history of submarines. - "We all know that similar 'combustion of a rag' incidents during welding work have resulted in quite serious emergency situations, especially if that occurred on nuclear submarines. In individual cases, it has even developed into local ecological disasters. In general, any accident on a submarine with a nuclear power plant is nearly always fraught with radioactive contamination of the environment, because a loss of pressurization of the special compartment, where the reactor is located, is entirely possible. Of course, various degrees of protection are provided for there, but you always need to judge based upon the worst variant. As for the threat of a nuclear explosion, that is extremely unlikely: There has been one minor nuclear explosion - somewhere at the very initial stage of the operation of nuclear submarines - during the entire history".
In the expert's words, since 1950, the native navy alone has known of no less than 40 ignitions on nuclear and diesel submarines, which have occurred as a result of an electrical wire short circuit, welding work, explosions and other causes. These emergency situations have resulted in some or other serious consequences, which were associated with casualties, including with numerous casualties.
On January 14, 1962, Diesel Submarine B-37 experienced a catastrophe in the Polar Region. A fire began at the base and they did not manage to localize it, which resulted in the detonation of 12 torpedoes. The submarine sank instantly. The entire crew and all of the seamen, who were on the pier at that moment, - a total of 122 men - died.
On April 8, 1970, a fire broke out in Nuclear Submarine K-8. The submarine was sailing at a depth of 140 meters. The submarine surfaced. By the morning of April 9, it had been ascertained that 30 men of a crew of 125 had died. The catastrophe developed, the submarine sank, and the total number of casualties was 52 men.
On February 24, 1972, a fire started in Nuclear Submarine K-19 (that same one, about which the Americans filmed the scandalous movie). The fire broke out due to a broken pipeline, the oil from which ended up in a purification filter. Twenty eight crew members died. The submarine remained afloat, but 12 men found themselves cut off in the 9 th and 10 th compartments and, while they towed the submarine, they spent 23 days there without food and, in the process, having lost 25-30 kilograms of weight, they already could not walk independently during the evacuation, they had to be carried.
1980 (the precise date is unknown). The Nuclear Submarine K-66 burned. Radioactive contamination was such that they had to decommission the submarine. Information about the details of the catastrophe and about the number of dead has not been made public to this day.
August 21, 1981. There was a flare up onboard the Nuclear Submarine K-122. The fire resulted in the radioactive contamination of the submarine. The crew members received a large dose of radiation. The nuclear submarine managed to return to base, but 14 seamen died from radiation sickness. They decommissioned the submarine.
On August 10, 1985, an explosion (not atomic) occurred on the Pacific Fleet Submarine K-431 in the village of Dunay (Primorskiy Kray) during the replacement of the reactor's spent nuclear fuel as a result of the buildup of significant thermal energy and the cover was torn off. The precise number of casualties is unknown to this day. The experts suggest that the K-431's entire crew perished. Not only this submarine and the remains of its crew but also the neighboring Submarine K-42 were subjected to radioactive contamination. It was decommissioned and filled with concrete. The entire bay and the ship repair plant were also subjected to contamination.
October 3, 1986. The Strategic Nuclear Submarine K-219 was blazing. The fire broke out in the fourth compartment as a result of a short circuit. Then a powerful explosion took place in a missile silo. During the day on October 5, they began to tow the nuclear submarine, but it began to sink on the morning of the next day. The number of casualties is unknown. There are pictures of this submarine in the surfaced position, which were taken by American aircraft.
On April 7, 1989, the Deepwater Experimental Nuclear Submarine K-278 "Komsomolets", which had been in operation for a total of six months, sank in the Norwegian Sea. The fire broke out underwater on this modern nuclear submarine for that time, they did not manage to extinguish it and the submarine surfaced. The command authorities in no way wanted to give the "OK" for the Norwegians to rescue the nuclear submarine (the "Komsomolets" was located not far off the coast of Norway). The fire quite rapidly burned out several compartments, and the K-278 began to sink. The rescue equipment turned out to be defective - the crew managed to deploy only one raft. People ended up in the ice-cold water. Forty two men (including the captain of the "Komsomolets") died, primarily as a result of exposure.
DISCLAIMER: Nuclear News is presented for informational purposes only. Views presented in any given article are those of the individual author or source and not of RANSAC. RANSAC takes no responsibility for the technical accuracy of information contained in any article presented in Nuclear News.
RANSAC's Nuclear News is compiled two to three times weekly. To be automatically removed from our mailing list, click on the following link: Remove Me From The List