1. Moscow Daily Views Russian Response to DPRK Missile Launches
Artur Blinov, Vladimir Ivanov, Aleksandr Babkin and Igor Verba
(for personal use only)
"Under Fire From Friendly Missiles. Russian Generals' Refusal To Comment on North Korea's Pranks May Be Attributable to Total Undefendedness of Far East"
An event took place yesterday (5 July) that radically changed the security situation in the Pacific region. During Tuesday-Wednesday (4-5 July) night, and also yesterday during the day, North Korea launched several missiles of various ranges, some of which fell in immediate proximity to Russian territory. Maritime Kray, Sakhalin, the Kuril Islands, and Kamchatka have thus become part of the zone at risk of an unpremeditated missile strike.
This risk is all the higher because it was shown that both the civil authorities and the country's military structures are totally unprepared for such a situation. It is common knowledge, however, that P'yongyang sees the United States as the main target for its missiles. And the trajectory of the long-range ICBMs that the DPRK is aiming at Alaska lies over the said Russian regions. So, given the imperfection of North Korean missile technology, the danger of an unpremeditated strike is constant. Especially given that P'yongyang, as experience shows, prefers not to inform either Russia or the rest of the world community about its launches.
The DPRK conducted the first launch at 0330 hours. The tests were conducted over five hours. The United States counted six launches. The South Korean agency Yonhap, citing intelligence sources in Seoul, maintained that 10 missiles had been tested.
According to the Japanese Defense Agency, the first, fourth, and fifth launches were Scud short-range tactical missiles, and the second and sixth were Nodong medium-range ballistic missiles (1300 km). The Taepodong-2 ICBM, which flew further than the others, was launched third. It was launched at about 0500 hours and fell 10 minutes later approximately 250 km southeast of Vladivostok. As the Japanese Defense Agency said, one missile exploded a few dozen kilometers from Nakhodka. Thus two missiles fell within the Russian economic zone in the Sea of Japan.
"Russian and US missiles are equipped with emergency self-destruct systems for use in the event of deviation from the planned trajectory, provided the missile is in a safe area," Colonel General Viktor Yesin, head of the Strategic Missile Troops General Staff in 1994-96, told. "The fact that the Korean missiles fell close to our territory indicates either that such systems are not present or that they are of poor quality."
According to the expert, the Russian Federation Defense Ministry took no steps to avoid the consequences of the unsuccessful launch of North Korean missiles.
Meanwhile, the Russian Federation Foreign Ministry is displaying extreme astonishment. It is totally obvious that the Defense Ministry did not inform the Russian Federation Government about the implications of P'yongyang's threats to conduct a missile strike against Alaska or to conduct missile tests in the region.
"When conducting tests on missiles with the range of Taepodong-2, reasonable people ought to have directed its trajectory into a safe area of the Pacific," Viktor Yesin believes. "But it is pretty difficult to make any predictions regarding North Korea. It is difficult even to imagine what they were thinking of. Civilized countries are obliged to provide at least three days' warning of such events, to give the location of the fall area, and to send ships to guard the danger zone, in other words to take all the necessary safety measures. Korea did none of that."
The general was unable to say whether our antimissile defense and air defense systems picked up the Korean missile launches. "In principle they should have everything necessary in order to do that," he said. But the expert is not entirely sure whether antimissile systems prepared to promptly repel an attack are deployed in that area. The appropriate air defense systems are in operation in that area and have the necessary degree of readiness. "They are capable of hitting ballistic missiles in the final stage of their trajectory," the expert believes. "But we do not expect a strike from that direction. We have danger sectors in that region, but North Korea is not among them. I don't mean that North Korea is in some way threatening us, but the incident shows that it could cause unpremeditated harm to the Russian Federation."
Let us note that, whereas Japan immediately sent its ships into the danger areas, the Pacific Fleet was not even put in a state of combat-readiness. Neither were there any reports yesterday that the Air Force and Air Defense Forces commands had put the air defense forces in a state of combat-readiness in order to shoot down "missiles that strayed toward us."
The Russian Federation Defense Ministry is not commenting on the North Korean missile incident because, as a senior military functionary said, this problem is currently being dealt with by the Russian Foreign Ministry. However, competent sources at the Russian Federation Space Forces headquarters told that they knew the missiles' provisional trajectory from intelligence information and special calculations.
The launch of the missiles was not a sensation for the Russian Federation Space Forces. They were prepared for the development of such a situation, as was confirmed by a source in the entourage of the Russian Federation defense minister who preferred to remain anonymous. The basis for this were special calculations based on intelligence information. For some reason, however, this did not lead to a stepping-up of security measures in the Far East.
Meanwhile, Yuriy Baluyevskiy, chief of the Russian Federation Armed Forces General Staff, said that Russian monitoring systems tracked the launches. "The fact that the missiles were launched was confirmed by our monitoring systems," he said in Chita yesterday. At the same time, he admitted that he could not give the precise number of missiles launched or their class, because he had not received the monitoring reports. In that case it is not clear what sort of monitoring this was, if not even the number of missiles was known; second, it becomes doubtful whether the DPRK informed the Russian Federation about its launch plans in advance (if so, the monitoring would have been of better quality).
Moscow was one of the last to respond to Kim Chong-il's launches. The first countries to categorically condemn P'yongyang's "provocation" were the United States, Japan, South Korea, and Australia. The United States published a White House statement containing a "firm condemnation" of P'yongyang's actions. The South Korean authorities called Kim Chong-il's decision "unwise," and described the tests themselves as unsuccessful. Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi conducted an urgent meeting with his ministers. Tokyo is threatening P'yongyang with "severe measures," including a reduction in food aid and the suspension of financial transactions."
Russian Foreign Ministry special spokesman Mikhail Kamynin expressed "regret that North Korea conducted missile tests." "Such actions," the diplomat stressed, "certainly do not help to strengthen stability and mutual understanding in the region, and also exacerbate the situation surrounding North Korea's nuclear program." Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov planned to discus the DPRK launches with representatives of the countries involved in the six-party talks on Korea's nuclear program. Consultations were also held yesterday in New York, where the UN Security Council convened for an emergency session at the request of Japan and the United States.
"The DPRK leadership should have informed Russia about the missile launches, their trajectories, and so on," Aleksandr Zhebin, head of the Russian Academy of Sciences Far East Institute's Korean Studies Center, believes. "Especially given that we are talking about a friendly country that has repeatedly given support to P'yongyang and twice received visits from Kom Chong-il. Politically, the launches are a warning to Russia and the other participants in the upcoming G8 St. Petersburg summit. In this way P'yongyang is warning the G8 leaders against their intention to include in the final summit documents 'US-Japanese' statements regarding the DPRK that it would find unacceptable."
"The North Korean missiles' fall near the Russian coast is an accident caused by technical malfunctions," Professor Hajime Izumi of Japan's Shizuoka University, for his part, believes. "For P'yongyang, Russia is a friendly power, and P'yongyang has no reasons to cause problems for it. The UN Security Council will not be able to go further than a simple condemnation of the DPRK's conduct of the tests and an appeal to P'yongyang to abandon its missile program. The United States and Japan would like to 'punish' the DPRK with economic sanctions, but it will not be possible to secure such a Security Council ruling. Russia and China will oppose it. Their main motive is to prevent the destabilization of the North Korean regime."
The report of the North Korean missiles' fall near Nakhodka has not yet caused any particular stir in the kray center. As was told by the duty officer at the Russian Federation Emergencies Ministry Main Administration for Maritime Kray, no special measures were taken 5 July in either Maritime Kray or Nakhodka.
True, military patrols with dogs were seen on the streets of Vladivostok yesterday afternoon, but the Emergencies Ministry Main Administration maintains that this was not linked to the events in the DPRK.
The duty officer at the Emergencies Ministry Main Administration in Nakhodka virtually confirmed what his Vladivostok colleague said, telling that so far the only official instruction from the Emergencies Ministry leadership in connection with the North Korean missile launch was to step up readiness to make decisions in the event of further reports being received.
However, a number of media reported panic in the city. In the morning several dozen city residents contacted the Nakhodka administration with questions about the danger of the missiles for city residents. Apparently they were all given the answer that "these were training launches, the missiles could not have been carrying warheads, and there is no danger for Nakhodka." It was also reported that residents tried to obtain explanations from the DPRK Consulate-General, because of which acting Mayor Aleksandr Kostenko ordered a beefed-up police presence outside it.
However, in a telephone conversation with your correspondent the Nakhodka public security police duty officer expressed bewilderment about such reports. He said that patrol vehicles regularly drive past the DPRK Consulate in Nakhodka, and no gathering of citizens had been observed there during the day or was to be seen there at present.
2. Perfidious Downfall - North Korea shot missiles into Russia’s water area
Ivan Safronov, Andrey Ivanov, Vladimir Solovyev, Mikhail Zyga, Alexandra Terentyeva and Andrey Chernyshev
(for personal use only)
North Korea practiced missile firing on Tuesday night. It launched one strategic and five tactical missiles. All of them flew towards Russia and fell into north-western part of the Sea of Japan, into 200-mile economic zone of Russia. Pyongyang did not notify Moscow about the launch, and Russia’s missile warning system apparently did not react, despite the assurances of Russian military officials. Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the launch a provocation on Wednesday morning. However, it changed its attitude to the launch closer to yesterday’s evening. During the emergency session of the UN Security Council, Russia and China voted against imposing sanctions on North Korea, while the U.S. and Japan insisted on these measures.
North Korea carried out missile-firing exercise on Tuesday night without warning. The first missile was launched at 10:30 p.m. Moscow time. It was a Scud-C rocket with 300 kilometers firing range. By the way, it was launched 8 minutes before the space shuttle STS-121 in the United States. Koreans waited for half an hour, and fired Nodon medium-range missile (flight range 1,500 kilometers). At midnight, Taepodong-2 strategic missile with flight range of 6,000 kilometers was launched. Then North Koreans had a 2-hour break, and then fired 3 more rockets: 2 Scud-C missiles and 1 Nodon. The firing exercise ended at 3:20 a.m. on Wednesday. However, Joint Chiefs of Staff of Armed Forces of South Korea has information that North Korea launched the seventh rocket, which fell into the ocean to the south of Russia’s Primorsky region, 6 minutes after its launch on Wednesday’s afternoon. Japan’s defense department said all missiles fell in Russia’s 200-mile economic zone (near the cities of Nakhodka and Vladivostok).
Nocturnal missile-firing exercise was a bolt from the blue for Moscow. According to Kommersant, Russian Ministry of Defense and the General Staff of Armed Forces gathered first information on the launches from the Internet. Russian military officials could neither locate the starts, nor specify the weapon impact point.
According to Kommersant, the space segment of Russia’s missile warning system can control only US territory. Russia does not have a geostationary satellite for round-the-clock monitoring of rocket situation in Asia-Pacific Region. Kosmos-2397 satellite, launched in April 2003, broke down several days after its launch. Dnepr radiolocation station from the ground segment of the missile warning system, situated in Irkutsk region, could not trace the launches because North Korean missiles did not go up high enough for Dnepr to notice them. Only radio-technical facilities of 23rd air defense corps of Vladivostok were able to watch North Korean missiles fly before they fell into the ocean.
Comments of Russian military officials sounded perplexed. Press Service of Pacific Fleet headquarters in Vladivostok redirected Kommersant to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs: “We will not take away the Ministry’s work. It is their prerogative to comment on such situations.”
Commandant of Irkutsk garrison Sergey Lysevsky told Kommersant that he had not heard about North Korean missiles at all. “I don’t know where and whatever fell, and whether it fell well, but our armed forces are the best in the world,” said Lysevsky. To the question whether Dnepr radio detection and ranging equipment located the missiles, Lysevsky answered with a counter-question: Perhaps you are from the secret service? How come you know where the tracking stations are situated? I won’t tell you anything.”
Head of Russian General Staff Yuri Baluevsky, who was in Chita for strategic exercise “Baikal-2006”, spoke on Korean incident only 9 hours after the launches. He said that “North Korea launched 9 missiles”, and could not specify what missiles they were. “According to some data , they were rockets of various classes, according to other information, all of them were intercontinental,” said Baluevsky. He said the class of the launched missiles should be discussed only when “technical control facilities of Russian armed forces provide the data.”
First news that North Korea prepares test launch of long-range rocket appeared in US newspapers as early as June 13. Washington warned Pyongyang then not to make any provocations. A couple of days later, the U.S. announced that North Korean rocket was already standing on the launching site and was filled with fuel. On June 18, North Korean mass media called the country’s people to wait for an important message. However, neither that day, nor the next one, brought any news. Pyongyang’s representative in UN Han Son Nel hinted on June 21 at why North Korea began this game. Nel said that if the U.S. is so very concerned about the matter, Pyongyang is ready to join Washington in two-sided talks. Since it was obvious that North Korea will try to exchange its promise not to launch missiles for the lift of economic sanctions, Americans did not agree to hold such meeting. Instead, US destroyers appeared near the Korean peninsula, equipped with Ballistic Missile Defense System which was right away successfully tested. North Korea called this action of the U.S. “escalation of aggressive steps of the U.S. and preparation for a new war”. Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs warned on July 4 that Pyongyang will reply by nuclear war, should the U.S. attempt to attack nuclear and other military buildings of North Korea. The US Department of State urged Pyongyang to refrain from “unwise steps”.
North Korean leaders ignored US warning. While the U.S. was celebrating the Independence Day, missiles were fired from cape Musudan. When President Bush discovered what kind of fireworks Kim Jong-il had for him, he held an urgent meeting with Defense Secretary Donald Ramsfield and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. According to White House sources, George Bush called North Korea’s test firing of missiles “a challenge for the world community”.
Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs also reacted sharply at first. The Ministry expressed “serious concern about the launch of missiles,” urging Pyongyang to “moderation and following the agreements in rocket sphere”. The Ministry also stressed that launch without warning breached the moratorium on missile firings, and presented a threat for international navigation in the water area of Pacific Ocean. The Ministry invited North Korean Ambassador in Moscow Pak Y Chun to tell him the stand of Russia. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the phone yesterday. According to the Ministry, Lavrov expressed perplexity of Russia once again.
China expressed its “deep concern about North Korea’s missile-firing exercise” as well. Yet, it is Japan who feels the deepest concern about North Korea’s actions. Tokyo suggested to carry this issue out to yesterday’s emergency meeting of the UN Security Council. Japan suggested ratifying a resolution to impose international sanctions on North Korea. The U.S., Great Britain, and France supported Japan’s initiative, while China and Russia (actually the victim of Pyongyang’s missiles) voted against the resolution. Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin said that Russia is against imposing sanctions on North Korea, and supports the idea to ratify the resolution on behalf of UN Security Council Chairman. Such resolutions are always regarded as a milder measure than a large-scale resolution.
The firing of North Korean missiles can affect the situation in the neighboring crisis region. Talks between EU high representative on foreign policy and security Xavier Solana and Iran’s Security Council Secretary Ali Laridjani were to be held in Brussels yesterday. Yet, having learned of North Korean rocket crisis, Iranian leader cancelled his visit, saying the trip to Europe is unsafe for delegation members. Apparently, Iran decided to watch how the West will punish Pyongyang for its demarche. If the reaction is weak, Tehran will have grounds for accusing the U.S. of double standards and biased attitude to Iran.
On the other hand, Korean factor can later be used by western diplomats in talks to Moscow. Warning Russia against supporting odious regimes, the U.S. and EU will be able to say that rockets of another unpredictable partner of Russia—Iran who develops its own nuclear program—may accidentally land on Russia’s territory as well.
North Korea on Wednesday test-fired a barrage of missiles, prompting an international furor and the Foreign Ministry to summon North Korea's ambassador in protest. One missile fell harmlessly in Russian waters near the Far East port of Nakhodka, just 250 kilometers from Vladivostok.
North Korea's decision to fire the seven to 10 missiles was a violation of its own seven-year moratorium on tests and threatened to lead to international action against the maverick Communist regime.
Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Alexeyev expressed "serious concern" to North Korean Ambassador Pak Ui Chun during a meeting at the Foreign Ministry, the ministry said.
"It was emphasized that North Korea's missile launches damage peace and stability in the region and complicate the potential for resolving the nuclear problems on the Korean Peninsula to the benefit of all interested states and the international community as a whole," it said in a statement.
The ambassador promised to "swiftly inform Pyongyang of Russia's position," it said.
The ministry last summoned him less than two weeks ago, when it became clear that Pyongyang was considering tests. It told him then that Russia opposed any threat to regional stability.
Alexeyev met earlier Wednesday with ambassadors from Japan and China, North Korea's closest ally.
Russia was not notified about the tests, the Defense Ministry said. The chief of the General Staff, General Yury Baluyevsky, said the military had tracked 10 missiles. "The fact that missiles were launched has been confirmed by our tracking systems," he told reporters.
Other governments spoke of seven missiles being test-fired, including one long-range missile that could reach the United States.
Russia's official reaction was mild compared to that of the United States and Japan. While expressing concern, Alexeyev called the launches "an ambiguous event."
Diplomats promised that Russia would take an active part in a special meeting of the United Nations Security Council that took place later in the day.
Several State Duma deputies adopted sharper rhetoric. Konstantin Kosachyov, the chairman of the Duma's Foreign Affairs Committee, called the launches "a clear provocation aimed against Russian Federation, neighboring countries and the international community." He said that "Russia's reaction should be harsh," but he stopped short of calling for sanctions, saying they would only radicalize Pyongyang.
Mikhail Margelov, the chairman of the Federation Council's Foreign Affairs Committee, also warned against sanctions and called for a dialogue with North Korea in which Russia and China played a larger role.
Russia, China, the United States, Japan and South Korea have been engaged in talks with Pyongyang since 2003, trying to convince the government to give up its nuclear program in exchange for security guarantees and economic perks.
Moscow has tried to persuade North Korean leader Kim Jong Il to agree to the deal by invoking memories of Soviet-era ties with Pyongyang. President Vladimir Putin has visited North Korea once and twice played host to Kim in Russia.
Moscow's diplomatic strategy, however, has apparently proved fruitless. North Korea has taken a tough and unpredictable stance, on various occasions abruptly pulling out of talks and ditching its earlier commitments and promises.
In recent months, international concern about Iran's nuclear ambitions has eclipsed that over North Korea's.
North Korea's latest move raises the stakes, but the negotiators, particularly Russia, have little to offer to counter Pyongyang's play, said Ivan Safranchuk, head of the Moscow office of the Center for Defense Information, a Washington-based think tank.
"North Korea has not breached any major international treaty with these launches, and while the Security Council is free to discuss them, any resulting sanctions would not be legitimate," he said.
Moreover, Russia has no economic or political pull over North Korea, he said.
With the launches, North Korea has forced itself onto the agenda of next week's Group of Eight summit in St. Petersburg, said Daniil Kobyakov, an analyst with PIR-Center, a security think tank. He said the launches would spur negotiations with the North and that G8 leaders would need to coordinate the positions of the key players during the summit.
A Putin aide confirmed late Wednesday that North Korea's test missile launches were indeed likely to be discussed at the G8 summit.
"Without doubt ... North Korea will most likely be discussed by the leaders," Igor Shuvalov, the Russian official organizing the G8 summit in St. Petersburg, told Rossia state television.
"The leaders traditionally discuss the question of [nuclear] nonproliferation, and Korea's capabilities have significantly increased through the acquisition of ballistic missiles, and of course this question will be touched upon as part of the nonproliferation theme," Shuvalov said.
4. Russia: Duma's Kosachev Says DPRK Situation Develops According to Worst Scenario
(for personal use only)
The situation regarding North Korea develops according to the worst scenario, and Pyongyang's actions may upset the six-nation talks on its nuclear programme, Konstantin Kosachev, the head of the State Duma Committee on International Relations, told reporters on Thursday, commenting on the DPRK's missile tests.
"Pyongyang's actions are utterly counterproductive; they are aimed at disrupting the six-nation talks," Kosachev said. At the same time, he believes that "Pyongyang should by all means be kept within the six-nation dialogue."
Kosachev believes that international sanctions cannot make the DPRK change its stand. In his opinion, North Korea is not afraid of sanctions, as it has been living de facto in the regime of international isolation for years. "This, indeed, is a difficult country, a difficult regime, but it is only by persuasion and talks that it is possible to influence Pyongyang," Kosachev said.
The head of the committee stressed that many problems of North Korea "have been provoked from the outside." He said the Kim Jong-il regime "fears being overthrown, the way it happened in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan." The missile launchings are, certainly, "an ugly response to the attempts at pressure on Pyongyang by other states," he said.
Kosachev, at the same time, expressed the confidence that diplomatic talks with North Korea should continue. Russia, United States, South Korea, Japan and China take part in the talks with the DPRK.
1. 'Hawks' Give Iran a Week. Washington Demands Response to Its Proposals from Tehran
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Russian Government Paper Reviews Current State of Iran Negotiations Talks with Tehran on the Iranian nuclear program are to resume today after a month's break.
EU High Commissioner for Foreign Policy Javier Solana will meet with Ali Larijani, Iran Supreme National Security Council secretary.
Once again there is no unity among the "six" mediators (the United States, Russia Britain, Germany, France, and China). The Americans were the first whose nerves frayed. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, arriving in Moscow last week for a meeting of foreign ministers on the eve of the St. Petersburg G8 summit, hinted that Washington is expecting a most speedy response from Tehran to the highly alluring package of proposals received back in early-June for the settlement of the crisis. Meanwhile the other members of the group of six continued to remain silent.
However, their silence did not reassure the Washington "hawks," which was obviously what Europe and Europe were counting on but, on the contrary, merely egged them on. The upshot being that yesterday Nicholas Burns, US under secretary of state for political affairs, effectively presented Iran with an ultimatum. He said that the Bush administration would resume considering the Tehran nuclear dossier at the UN Security Council if no concrete answer to the proposals from the "six" had been received by 12 July.
The choice of 12 July was no coincidence. Once again after the G8 foreign ministers' meeting in Moscow it became known that the next round of consultations might go ahead on that day within the framework of the "six" mediators on the Iranian nuclear problem.
However, Washington's peremptory tone has once again not bothered the Iranian leadership at all. Iranian Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Larijani told journalists that he had no intention of providing any answers during his meeting with Solana. Admittedly, he said nothing about what steps Tehran would take in the week until 12 July.
Back on 6 June having received the "six's" package of proposals from Solana, Larijani said virtually straightaway that Tehran still had a few questions. Evidently, these questions will be asked today. Only then will the Iranian leadership be able to embark on the final stages of discussing its response.
The European intermediaries obviously agree with this entirely logical sequence of arguments. At any rate Larijani said that during his last telephone conversation with Solana the sides did not discuss the "subject of Iran's definitive response to the package of proposals." The Russian Foreign Ministry does not intend to hound Tehran either. "I would like to know Iran's reaction, not necessarily its definitive response," Sergey Kislyak, deputy head of the Russian Foreign Ministry, explained.
Right now Moscow is calling into question the time for the next meeting of the "six" mediators. Andrey Krivtsov, deputy director of the Russian Foreign Ministry's Information and Press Department, said that the date and place for the consultations had not been decided. And he added that this issue may only be clarified following Solana's meeting with Larijani.
2. Russia: Academic Says Iran Still Has Time To Accept Russia's Nuclear Fuel Offer
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Iran still has time to accept Russia's offer of building nuclear fuel enrichment facilities on its soil, nuclear physicist and the director of the Kurchatov Institute, Academician Yevgeny Velikhov said.
"It would be good if Iran responded to Russia's initiative to create nuclear fuel enrichment centres," Velikhov told Itar-Tass on Wednesday, adding, "It is important that the whole world responded and supported this idea."
In his view, it would be "economically more beneficial for Iran" to accept Russia's offer than build its own facilities.
"No one in the world, except two aircraft giants, tries to create wide-bodied planes," he said.
"The spread of these technologies is not banned, but they are sophisticated and mastering them is so costly that becomes unprofitable," Velikhov said.
"This logic fully applies to nuclear energy, too," he added.
He believes that in order to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, it is necessary to use economic tools. "Of course, the political aspect cannot be excluded, but the best solution would be economic pressure on Iran," he said.
1. THE AIR FORCE GETS A BOMBER FOR FIGHTING TERRORISTS
What the Papers Say
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Upgraded Tu-160 bomber can carry conventional missiles; Russia's threat to strike at terrorist bases anywhere in the world took on a realistic outline yesterday. Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov visited the Gorbunov Aviation Enterprise in Kazan to take delivery of a fully modernized Tu-160 strategic bomber.
Russia's threat to strike at terrorist bases anywhere in the world took on a realistic outline yesterday. Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov visited the Gorbunov Aviation Enterprise in Kazan to take delivery of a fully modernized Tu-160 strategic bomber. Unlike other aircraft of its kind, this Tu-160 is now capable of delivering not only cruise missiles with nuclear warheads, but also the full range of conventional high-precision cruise missiles and bombs.
"The fact that we have started modernizing Tu-160 aviation systems is a significant phenomenon," said Ivanov. "It indicates that Russia's defense capability situation is slowly but surely changing for the better. State arms procurement is growing with every year, and this will continue."
The Tu-160 strategic missile-carrying bomber (known to NATO as the Blackjack) has been dubbed the White Swan in the Russian Air Force, because of its beauty. It forms the foundation of the aviation component of Russia's strategic nuclear deterrent forces. This is the world's most powerful strike aviation system, designed to hit targets at a range of 12,500 kilometers. It can carry 12 Kh-55 cruise missiles, or up to 40 tons of bombs. The Air Force has been using the Tu-160 since 1986. Thirty of these aircraft were produced before the USSR collapsed; Russia now has only 14. The delivery of the 15th aircraft is indeed a big event. "In my view, this is the best aircraft in the world, and it will keep flying for decades to come," said Ivanov.
2. Russia's space industry to have 10 holding companies
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The Russian government has approved the basics of the space rocket industry development strategy for the period until 2015 submitted by the Federal Space Agency, Igor Panarin, the agency's press secretary, said today.
"The strategy provides for setting up about 10 integrated bodies before 2010 and for coming up with three to four comprehensive space rocket corporations before 2015," Panarin told Russian Military News Agency AVN today.
According to him, the strategy provides for increasing the workload of space rocket industry enterprises by an average of 30-40 per cent and reducing current expenses and overheads related to manufacturing military and commercial products.
"The strategy is aimed at boosting Russia's competitiveness on the space services market. The strategy envisages a series of new measures that primarily deal with missile and space industry enterprises reform and increasing the quality and reliability of space rockets," he said.
According to Panarin, the strategy is to be implemented in two stages - the first before 2010 and the second before 2015. "The strategy provides for preserving a high growth pace in the space rocket industry. Summing up results of 2005, the growth pace in the space rocket industry was twice as high as in other Russian industries. Space rocket industry enterprises employ about 250,000 people," Panarin said.
3. Russia, India Not in Talks on Leasing of Nerpa N-Submarine
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Russia is not conducting talks with India on possible leasing of a Project 971 Nerpa nuclear submarine (NATO-codename Akula-2), the deputy head of the Russian federal service on military and technical cooperation, Vladimir Paleshchuk, told a news conference on Wednesday.
In reply to an Itar-Tass question on prospects of using Nerpa that was recently set afloat from the Amur shipyard, Paleshchuk said the talks on leasing of Russia's submarines, but not nuclear ones are in progress.
Earlier, some mass media reported that after tests Nerpa would be leased to India.
Project 971 nuclear submarines have in service eight torpedo launchers, cruise missiles Granit and underwater missiles Shkval.
Nerpa was designed back in 1991, but funds shortages delayed the construction for 15 years.
High-level delegations from 140 countries will meet in Vienna Sept. 19-20 in an attempt to encourage countries to forgo two critical technologies that could lead to nuclear weapons while ensuring that they receive civilian nuclear fuel. The effort comes as several countries with advanced civilian nuclear programs, including the United States, have put forward their own suggestions on the matter.
The meeting, which is to be held at the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) headquarters as part of its annual general conference, is designed to develop a “new framework” that would encourage countries to renounce uranium-enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing capabilities. These technologies are used to produce fuel for civilian nuclear reactors but can also be used to make fissile material—highly enriched uranium (HEU) and plutonium—for nuclear weapons.
The dual-use nature of these technologies has become a critical sticking point in the current dispute over Iran’s uranium-enrichment program. Iran says it needs to produce its own fuel for its civilian nuclear program in order to hedge against cutoffs in foreign supply, but the United States and its allies have alleged that Iran is developing enrichment facilities to provide material for nuclear weapons.
A June 14 press release from the IAEA said that the objective of the two-day event is to focus on “‘assurances of supply and assurances of non-proliferation’ and on identifying the next steps for the near-to-mid-term.”
The announcement came soon after IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei told the IAEA Board of Governors June 12 that the six nations that now provide the bulk of enriched uranium—France, Germany, the Netherlands, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States—had sent the board a communication entitled “Concept for a Multilateral Mechanism for Reliable Access to Nuclear Fuel.”
A European diplomat said that the May 31 communication was intended to open a discussion with potential recipients of nuclear fuel about how a possible series of overlapping fuel-supply assurances might convince potential fuel customers that they do not need to possess enrichment technology themselves. Countries are permitted such technologies under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
Gregory L. Schulte, U.S. permanent representative to the IAEA, told Arms Control Today June 7 that the six countries had “put together a basic set of reliable fuel supply [proposals] that would be implemented by the IAEA and that would be available to countries who have chosen not to have enrichment capabilities.” Schulte said the states planned to brief the agency’s 35-member Board of Governors about their plans at a June 12-16 meeting.
According to a late June fact sheet from the U.S. mission, the voluntary IAEA mechanism would include three basic elements. The IAEA would facilitate new commercial arrangements if a country should find its supply interrupted for reasons other than failure to comply with non-proliferation obligations. Reserves of enriched uranium, held nationally or perhaps by the IAEA, would serve as a fuel reserve of “last resort.” The agency would determine eligibility based on a country’s compliance with IAEA safeguards, and acceptance of nuclear safety standards, as well as the renunciation of “sensitive fuel cycle activities,” such as uranium enrichment or spent fuel reprocessing.
Schulte said the six countries hoped the IAEA would take these ideas and develop a more detailed plan in time for a September board meeting, which would take place shortly before the broader two-day forum.
The objective, Schulte said, was not to interfere in the civilian market for nuclear fuel but to “put in these basic assurances for countries who worry that for some reason the market might fail them…. The goal is to have the mechanism be sufficiently diverse so that if there were an issue with one supplier, that the IAEA would be in a position where it could facilitate supply from another country.”
The proposal follows an initiative first announced by Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman at last year’s IAEA general conference. Under that proposal, the United States said that it planned to blend down 17 excess metric tons of HEU into low-enriched uranium, which cannot be used to make weapons. The lower-grade uranium is the primary fuel for nuclear reactors. Under the U.S. proposal, the United States would retain ownership of this fuel rather than placing it under multilateral control. That means that, unlike a true fuel bank, Congress could then intervene and pass laws restricting how the fuel reserve would operate. (See ACT, November 2005.)
Russia has also expressed a willingness to provide fuel supply assurances through such initiatives as a proposed multilateral fuel center in Russia. Additionally, the nongovernmental Nuclear Threat Initiative has offered to fund efforts to establish a multilateral fuel bank. Their efforts follow a February 2005 report by an international experts group appointed by ElBaradei. That group outlined five different methods that might be used to provide multilateral fuel-supply assurances. (See ACT, March 2005.)
“To my mind, an assurance of supply mechanism is key to coping with an expanded use of nuclear energy, and is a prerequisite for stemming the spread of sensitive nuclear fuel cycle activities,” ElBaradei told the IAEA board.
2. Nonproliferation Diplomacy: An Interview with Ambassador Gregory L. Schulte
Arms Control Today
(for personal use only)
As U.S. permanent representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and other Vienna-based organizations, Ambassador Gregory L. Schulte has been deeply involved in U.S. efforts to limit Iran’s nuclear program, develop a series of multilateral nuclear fuel assurances, and other nonproliferation initiatives. Arms Control Today met with Schulte in his Vienna office June 7 to discuss the status of U.S. efforts.
ACT: The latest that I’ve heard about the controversy over Iran’s nuclear programs is that Javier Solana, secretary-general of the Council of the European Union, delivered an offer to the Iranians. Can you tell us a little more about what’s in the offer?
Schulte: We have chosen to not reveal the details of the offer. It was something agreed among the six foreign ministers [ China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States] because we want to give the leaders in Tehran every opportunity to consider the offer carefully and to give it a reasoned response. We don’t want to provoke them into a negative response because our goal, of course, is to convince them to suspend all enrichment-related activities, including research and development, and to start negotiations. The six foreign ministers laid out very clearly two paths. One is a positive path that will offer the Iranian people benefits, including access to civil nuclear power. The negative path is one that goes through the [UN] Security Council. We want to give them all opportunities to make the right choice, which is the positive path.
ACT: Have you defined what suspension means?
Schulte: Suspension has been defined again and again. It means all enrichment-related activities to include research and development. We’re not looking to parse that in some fashion. We’re looking for a full suspension.
ACT: Let me ask you about another area. I understand there is a pending U.S. proposal dealing with fuel assurances that is going to be announced at the IAEA Board of Governors meeting next week. Do you have any more details on that proposal?
Schulte: Well, for some time [IAEA] Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei has been urging countries to start work on a multilateral set of fuel assurances that could be made available to countries who are interested in nuclear power but who do not have an interest in investing in the enrichment and ultimately reprocessing capabilities associated with nuclear power. So in response to his request and recognizing that more and more countries are interested in nuclear power, the United States and France have worked with other nuclear fuel-supplying countries to put together a basic set of assurances for reliable nuclear fuel supply that would be implemented by the IAEA and that would be available to countries who have chosen not to have enrichment capabilities. Our intention is to brief the Board of Governors on this basic concept at the meeting next week.
Then we hope that the IAEA Secretariat will be in a position to move forward to start developing the more detailed legal, technical, and other aspects of this proposal so we might have a very basic mechanism that could be considered and potentially adopted by the board in September. Now, one thing I should stress in all this is we actually think that the civilian fuel market is quite adequate. It’s very diverse. It does a good job. It gives people interested in fuel a variety of countries and companies that it can turn to. So, the last thing we want to do is somehow interfere in the market. But we are prepared to work with the IAEA and others to put in these basic backup assurances for countries who worry that for some reason the market might fail them.
ACT: One of the reasons the Iranians have cited for why they need to have enrichment is as a kind of backup guarantee. Would Iran—if it down the road agreed not to go forward with enrichment, would Tehran be eligible for such programs?
Schulte: This program is designed for countries that choose not to have enrichment and reprocessing capabilities, and any country that participates in it of course would need to be abiding by its safeguards obligations. So, Iran has some major violations that they have to deal with first. When we put these assurances together, it was not with Iran specifically in mind. We were learning the lessons of Iran and looking to the future, recognizing that more and more countries are interested in nuclear power.
One of the things that Iran has illustrated to us is that there is a major loophole in the [nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty] NPT. The loophole is one whereby countries, under the guise of a civil program, can develop the wherewithal for nuclear weapons. They can, as Iran has done, develop an enrichment capability when it’s not actually for a civil program, when it’s actually for a military program. This is a loophole that’s been recognized by not just the United States but also by [UN Secretary-General] Kofi Annan and ElBaradei. Part of our goal to fill that loophole is in fact to put fuel assurances in place to give countries additional confidence that they don’t have to develop these type of enrichment and reprocessing capabilities.
ACT: Would countries such as the United States, for instance, ultimately still have to give approval for deliveries of this fuel to go forward?
Schulte: The goal is to have the mechanism be sufficiently diverse so that if there were an issue with one supplier, the IAEA would be in a position to facilitate supply from another country and the arrangement might even be backed up with some standing reserves of fuel. For example, in September of last year, [Energy Secretary Samuel] Bodman announced that the United States was prepared to downblend 17.4 metric tons of highly enriched uranium [HEU], which was surplus to our military requirements, and use that as part of a U.S. contribution to a backup reserve. Other countries have also been looking at whether they would be prepared to contribute in a similar fashion.
ACT: Have any other countries committed to contribute?
Schulte: We know that Russia, for example, has been looking at this as a possibility.
ACT: Switching topics to India, IAEA officials tell me that the Indians have yet to present any safeguards proposal to the agency. Do you know when they will, and do you know why they have not yet done so? As you know, members of Congress are looking to consider the IAEA safeguards proposals as part of their decision-making process. How would this work out in terms of staging?
Schulte: There are a number of moving parts here. There’s the congressional piece, where Congress needs to make changes to the Atomic Energy Act and would also need to approve a U.S.[-Indian] 123 agreement. The Nuclear Suppliers Group would need to, in our judgment, make an exemption to existing rules for India. There’s the safeguards agreement that needs to be negotiated between India and the IAEA, and finally there’s the 123 agreement, which needs to be worked out between the United States and India. Our goal is to try to move all of these moving parts together in tandem.
So, for example, we have been urging the Indian government to move forward with the negotiations with the IAEA on a safeguards agreement. There was an initial discussion that took place a number of months ago between the head of India’s Atomic Energy Commission [Anil Kakodkar] and ElBaradei where they talked about the nature of the agreement. We hope that those talks will continue soon. The Indians have committed to a permanent safeguards agreement. We know they have to be somewhat unique for India, given the nature of this agreement. On the other hand, we also know and the Indians know that these have to be permanent safeguards that are put in place and that the Board of Governors will need to be satisfied with the arrangements put in place.
ACT: You said that they were somewhat unique. I guess the phrase that was used in the March U.S.-Indian agreement was that there would be “India-specific safeguards.” But no one can really figure out what that means. Does the United States have an idea of what that means?
Schulte: Well, I think the director-general has an idea of what that means. He thinks that it will look pretty much like a standard safeguards agreement that a non-nuclear-weapons country would have, with some adjustments for India.
ACT: Can you give me a sense of what kind of adjustments you’re talking about? Obviously, they have nuclear weapons, so some elements would not be relevant to a non-nuclear-weapon state, but which ones?
Schulte: This agreement is going to apply to various facilities, and it’s up really to the IAEA and India to work out the details of that agreement.
ACT: Part of the U.S. agreement talks about a fuel-supply agreement. Would India be eligible for this kind of assured fuel supply that you are talking about?
Schulte: The arrangements that we have put in place are for countries that have chosen not to have enrichment and reprocessing capabilities. India has enrichment capabilities.
ACT: Okay. The agreement talks about what are essentially assured supplies of fuel for the facilities. Maybe we are reading this incorrectly, but it appears that safeguards would essentially be contingent on the assurance of fuel supply and whether that goes forward. Is that a correct reading, and isn’t that also a different way of dealing with safeguards than is traditional?
Schulte: It’s very clear. They’re permanent safeguards. They’re not contingent on anything. We think that this provides a net gain to the nonproliferation treaty. Obviously, for 30 years we have been encouraging India to join the NPT as a non-nuclear-weapon state. It’s apparent after 30 years of effort that that’s not going to happen. The director-general, among others, was urging us to think differently about India. We have now thought differently about India. We’ve thought about how best we can help it meet its energy concerns and at the same time strengthen the nonproliferation regime. The judgment we’ve reached is that India has assumed enough additional commitments—safeguards commitments, commitments on not spreading enrichment and reprocessing [technology], commitments related to the Nuclear Suppliers Group [NSG] guidelines—that this is a net benefit to the proliferation regime. I certainly can’t speak for the Congress, but I’ve been involved in recent discussions of the NSG taking place here in Vienna, and it’s clear that more and more countries are understanding that this is a net benefit to the nonproliferation regime. It’s important given India’s place in the world, given their relations with India, and given India’s own requirements for nuclear power.
ACT: Actually, I have a question regarding the safeguards committee that was established by the IAEA last year. According to folks at the IAEA, all that’s happened so far with the committee is that the IAEA Secretariat has submitted a couple of papers that have recommendations and people are considering them. Is there any more that you can tell me about what is going in this regard?
Schulte: The committee was established in June of last year. It had its first meeting in November. It’s gone through an organizational phase. I think it’s now starting to get down to work. As you say, the secretariat has submitted a number of recommendations, meant to strengthen the safeguards system. There was a good technical discussion of those recommendations. The committee is considering those recommendations. We have also provided a briefing on lessons learned from the A. Q. Khan network to the committee to encourage countries to think about how you deal with these future challenges. We anticipate next week that there will be a first progress report from the committee to the Board of Governors. We hope that, when it reconvenes in September, it will have transitioned fully out of the organizational phase and really started to get down to work.
ACT: One of those suggestions, as I understand it, was for certain satellite providers to give priority access to the IAEA for imagery. Is that something the United States will support?
Schulte: We have a support program that’s very active in terms of providing support for the IAEA. We have looked at ways of providing them enhanced access to satellite imagery. We’ve looked at ways of providing them enhanced access to open source information. We recognize increasingly that, for the IAEA to carry out its role, it doesn’t do it just with inspections and by taking swipe samples. But it also needs to take advantage of the wealth of information that’s out there, for example, just from open sources. So, we’re looking for ways to help them with that.
ACT: A couple more questions on Iran. I understand that there will probably be a written report from the director-general on where the investigation stands [the report was released June 12]. Do you expect anything else in terms of debate or substance on Iran at the Board of Governors meeting?
Schulte: We’re expecting a written report tomorrow. It will probably be a very short report because unfortunately we haven’t seen and the agency hasn’t seen really any cooperation from Iran. The last report we received said there essentially had been no cooperation over the last month. We suspect that the upcoming report will say something similar. Of course, we’ll look very carefully at the report to tell us if Iran is preparing to suspend its enrichment-related activities, which we called upon them to do, or if Iran seems poised to move forward quickly. But we don’t see next week’s board meeting as a diplomatic deadline or decision point. Right now, the decision does not lie in Vienna, the decision lies in Tehran. And we are looking for the leadership in Tehran to choose the constructive path. From here in Vienna, we will be watching to see, are they prepared to meet IAEA demands to suspend enrichment and reprocessing activities, are they prepared to start cooperating with the IAEA, are they prepared to start implementing the additional protocol? We, of course, will be doing our best to make clear that the Board of Governors and nations more broadly called upon them to do three things: suspend the activities that concern us so much, cooperate with the IAEA, and start to negotiate in good faith.
ACT: What do you think of their responses so far?
Schulte: I think it’s too early to judge. We want to give them the opportunity for a considered response. As the president [George W. Bush] said, the initial response after the package was presented to Iran sounded positive, but we’re giving them the opportunity to respond. We want them to make the positive decision, but they need to manifest this by a willingness to negotiate seriously, and they need to manifest this by verifiably and fully suspending their enrichment-related activities.
ACT: Does this suspension have to be permanent?
Schulte: We’re just asking for a suspension.
Click here for a complete transcript of the interview.
1. Wade Boese, “U.S. Proposes Nuclear Fuel Safety Net,” Arms Control Today, November 2005, p. 35.
2. The United States submitted a draft civil-nuclear agreement to India in March 2006. The Indian government countered with their own version in May. The two governments are now negotiating over these two drafts. See Wade Boese, “U.S.-Indian Nuclear Deal Simmers,” Arms Control Today, June 2006, p. 44.
3. The Nuclear Suppliers Group is a 45-nation group that voluntarily seeks to coordinate the export of nuclear materials.
4. Wade Boese, “Bush, Singh Advance Nuclear Deal,” Arms Control Today, April 2006, p. 32.
3. Reviving Disarmament: An Interview With Hans Blix
Wade Boese, Paul Kerr, and Daryl G. Kimball
Arms Control Today
(for personal use only)
The WMD Commission at a Glance
Hans Blix for the last two years has served as chairman of the WMD Commission, an independent international body launched by the Swedish government to explore ways to reduce threats posed by biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons. Blix, who was formerly head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the UN Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) in Iraq, shared the commission’s findings and recommendations during a June 6 interview with Arms Control Today.
ACT: In its report, the WMD Commission provided 60 recommendations for reducing biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons. If world leaders were to take one message or theme away from the study, what would it be?
Blix: The revival of disarmament. We are in a situation where there is a stagnation of multilateral, global efforts. It’s worse than that. There’s also the incipient beginning of arms races. In space there’s one. On new types of nuclear weapons, there’s a second one. On missiles, [there’s] certainly a third one. All these need to be addressed. There is some activity on the bilateral and regional [fronts], but you need global cooperation. “Cooperative disarmament” would be another term that we would use.
ACT: Many of the recommendations appear aimed at the countries that already have nuclear weapons, rather than measures to prevent new countries from getting these weapons. How would you explain to an American, British, or French citizen that their countries’ weapons are a problem just like North Korea’s or potentially Iran’s?
Blix: Actually, the report addresses both. In the chapter on nuclear weapons, we begin with proliferation because that’s the most acute. I don’t think we are by any means neglecting or putting proliferation in a second category. They’re on an equal basis. We address the two cases we think are absolutely acute for nonproliferation, namely Iran and North Korea. On the more general front, we address the problem of hair-trigger alerts, of launch on warning, on the need for reduction of strategic weapons between the United States and Russia, and on the need to withdraw [U.S. and Russian tactical nuclear] weapons from the European front back to U.S. territory and into central storage in Russia. We also point to the obligation that we see certainly for the nuclear-weapon states under the NPT [nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty] to undertake nuclear disarmament, which many non-nuclear-weapon states feel that [the nuclear-weapon states] have walked away from. We point to the difficulty of persuading and espousing nonproliferation by other states so long as the nuclear-weapon states are themselves not taking that obligation seriously.
ACT: But how do you persuade citizens in the United States, France, and the United Kingdom that their weapons are a concern to the developing world and other countries that don’t have these weapons? How do you make them realize that this is a problem?
Blix: We are saying that all nuclear weapons are dangerous in whosever hands. We also say that, yes, some [regimes] can be more ruthless and reckless than others. Regimes can change. But [all nuclear weapons] are dangerous. There are none that are in secure hands. We have hair-trigger alert, there can be misunderstandings, and there can be regime change.
ACT: As you know, the commission’s report is being released when much of the international community is concerned about Iran’s nuclear program. What would Iran need to do to prove to you that its nuclear program is not intended to produce weapons?
Blix: This is my view: I think it would be very difficult for Iran under current circumstances, even for a long period of time, to prove that they have no intentions [to pursue nuclear weapons]. How do you prove that you have no intentions? I don’t think any amount of IAEA inspection will tell the world, “Ah, there’s nothing, so they can go ahead with enrichment.” As in the case of Iraq, we saw that the Iraqis tried to assert [that they did not have weapons of mass destruction] and we said, “Well, there’s things unaccounted for. We can’t exclude it.” So, that will be hard.
I’m somewhat critical about the tendency in many places to talk about the Iranian nuclear weapons program as if it were proven. Don’t we have sufficient experience in the Iraq affair to be a little cautious about that? But I don’t at all exclude it. Iran is much further ahead in its nuclear program than Iraq was. They have infrastructure, they have people, they have money, et cetera. Iraq was a scrapheap in 2003. Nevertheless, some of the circumstantial evidence [in Iran] is perhaps more suggestive. You talk about the many years in which they breached their obligations on the safeguards agreement. Well, that could be because they had an intention to go for nuclear weapons, but it could also be because they were worried about counterproliferation, that they would reveal where sites were and they could be subject to sabotage. I don’t interpret, but I’m saying don’t jump to conclusions. In fact, when we put someone before a court, we like to have evidence before we give them a severe sentence. Shall we be more easygoing when it comes to sentencing states to bombardment or war? A little caution in this respect is desirable.
Now, on the Iranian side, I think it’s a weak argument when they say they need to have self-reliance, they have the right and must use that right. No, you can have rights without making use of them. There’s also no economic interest in it for them. They have two nuclear power plants. My country, Sweden, has 10, and we are importing uranium. The [Iranian nuclear] establishment will work on a 40-megawatt heavy-water reactor—that’s an excellent plutonium producer. Now, that may suggest there is an intention behind it, but there are other countries in the world that have heavy-water reactors, so it is not conclusive. Yet, the commission comes to the conclusion that it would be desirable that Iran suspend or renounce enrichment for a prolonged period of time because [enrichment] will increase tension. We come to that conclusion, and then we suggest that if you want to take a country away from its potential interest in nuclear weapons, you have to look at its incentives [to acquire nuclear weapons]. We think that security is one of them, as in the case of North Korea. Security has been missing from the packages that have been put on the table [to Iran] so far.
We have put forward another suggestion that we haven’t seen elsewhere, which was inspired by the Korean case. We suggest that you might have a region that renounces or suspends the use of enrichment or reprocessing. In the Korean case, it is established in the 1992 declaration. In the Middle East case, what we are suggesting is, as a confidence-building measure, Iran and other countries in the Middle East renounce this. That would mean, in the case of Israel, that it would do away with or renounce reprocessing. It doesn’t affect their weapons program—that would not be at all plausible—but you could imagine having commitments from all the countries, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, et cetera, to not go for any enrichment or reprocessing.
ACT: Given what we know about the current proposals from the EU-3, the United States, and other countries about how to resolve the situation, do you think that that proposal and approach are sufficient? It does not contain that recommendation that you just mentioned. What should be done to make it more effective?
Blix: I doubt it is sufficient. I think that, on the question of assurance of supply, there are relatively good answers. The Russian proposal is a relatively good one, although the Iranians might say, “Look what happened to the Ukraine. Can we trust this thing?” But there could be assurances from others as well, not only from Russia but from China as well. I think the latest proposal about the offer of light-water reactors is good because it demonstrates that these states are not saying “no” to Iran going into the nuclear age. But the way in which the offer has been made, namely to say that “hey, we are taking a huge step forward. We are offering to sit down with you about your suspending or renouncing enrichment, but before we sit down you better suspend enrichment”—they are making a condition for discussion the outcome they seek from the negotiation. The Iranians did suspend under [Iranian President Mohammad] Khatami for a period of negotiations, and thereafter they expected a good bid, and what they got was something they did not consider a good bid, and therefore they resumed [enrichment]. They say we’re back to square one, and that’s where they remain.
There is a great deal of prestige, frankly, on both sides. If Iran were today to suspend and say, “Fine, we will sit down and talk,” that would be taken as an accomplishment on the side of the Europeans. Any step back into enrichment, they would say was another act of defiance, that [ Iran was] breaching something they saw as a commitment. We, the commissioners, [would like to see Iran] decide to suspend enrichment. The ways of getting there one can address in different ways.
ACT: Going to the other side of the globe for a moment, North Korea. Between December 2002 and January 2003, North Korea ejected IAEA inspectors and announced its withdrawal from the NPT. Although the matter has been referred to the UN Security Council, North Korea has suffered no Security Council penalties for its action. Does this case undermine the legitimacy of the NPT as well as the international community’s ability to deal with arms control noncompliance?
Blix: I think the United States would probably be among the states that first affirmed the right of withdrawal in accordance with [treaty] clauses. It did so with the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. There are specific [withdrawal] clauses in other treaties. Of course, withdrawal from the NPT by non-nuclear-weapon states is a worrisome thing. It may be a sign. We recommend that the Security Council automatically grapple with any such case. Whether the council wished to take an action immediately or common resolution or whatever, this, I think, one has to leave up to them. They must be seized with the issue, but what they do will depend upon political circumstances.
ACT: Are there any potential legal consequences on ruling on such a matter? I don’t think the Security Council has said one way or the other on whether North Korea is officially part to the treaty or not.
Blix: No, I think it is very hard to know how they view that, whether it was legally done or not, but that may land us in legal niceties. The substance of the matter after all is that [ North Korea] claims it has nuclear weapons. I think, and I think the commission also feels, that the negotiation about North Korea is going in a fairly good direction. Whether it is successful is another matter. In particular, I think the latest things we have read about [that are welcome are] the U.S. suggestion that there could be some kind of assurance against aggression and there could be also diplomatic relations with the United States and Japan and the public discussion about the possibility of a peace treaty. All of these things are geared to assure North Korea that they will not be subject to a military attack, any regime change efforts, and intervention to that effect. Since the commission takes the view that security concerns are basic, this is what one can do. The opposite, of course, is waving the stick all the time, that if you don’t behave, we will attack you, or if you don’t behave, we will try to instigate a regime change as they did in Iran in 1953 when [Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed] Mossadegh, an elected leader, was thrown out with the help of the CIA.
ACT: On security issues, Iran hasn’t publicly suggested that it wants security assurances from the United States, so how do we know that that will lead it to engage in negotiations?
Blix: As far as I know, there were plans among the United Kingdom, France, and Germany to have a separate committee dealing with security issues, and it never met. It may well be that the Iranians may not want to ask for such things that might be seen as a sign of weakness. But the issue of security has surfaced. I would hazard [a guess] that there is an interest, especially if you have 130,000 American soldiers in Iraq and American bases in Afghanistan and an increased number in the north. I think it’s a relevant issue.
ACT: In the commission’s report, there are two issues that were singled out as being of the highest importance for renewing momentum on nonproliferation and disarmament: bringing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) into force and negotiating a fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT). On the first, can there be progress on a CTBT as long as Washington doesn’t ratify? For instance, why can’t China go ahead and ratify it?
Blix: There can be some progress. There is a special ambassador who is touring the world to try to persuade various states, like Indonesia and Colombia, that have not ratified it. There are some cases where I think it would happen. I would be pleasantly surprised if the Chinese went ahead and ratified it before Washington. We think that no other act in the global system would inject more renewed optimism than the CTBT entering into force. We think if the United States does it, then we’re pretty sure that the Chinese would. If the Chinese would, the Indians would; if the Indians did, the Pakistanis would. It would be a good domino effect. Whereas, if the treaty continues in limbo as it does, there are risks. Fortunately, the [testing] moratorium is still holding. If the United States were to test, I’m pretty sure that others would test again, and we would go into a new arms race. The motivation, justification, or the rationale for the treaty remains what they were, namely, that it will impede qualitative development—not altogether, because the United States and others can do quite a lot by computers. It would also strengthen nonproliferation, making it more difficult for states at the lower level to do so. But the signal would be tremendous.
The other one you mention, the FMCT, is already on the table. The United States has advanced a proposal in Geneva. I think that’s welcome. The commission’s position is that we should have no confusion about [starting negotiations on an FMCT] without any preconditions, whether relating to verification or [existing] stocks. However, the commission takes clearly the view that such a treaty is verifiable, which is in contrast to what the U.S. administration has been saying. The reason why we say so is that we have two non-nuclear-weapon states that have their enrichment and reprocessing plants already verified: Brazil and Japan. You have three nuclear-weapon states with verification: the United Kingdom and France have EURATOM [European Atomic Energy Community] verification, and China has a plant which was supplied by Russia under the condition of IAEA verification.
So if it is the contention of those who say that we should not have verification because it’s unverifiable, do they consider that what we have now is meaningless? I don’t think so. I think it is verifiable. I think the contrary views have a certain disdain vis-à-vis international verification, which is not justified. The United States referred in Geneva to “national verification,” national means of verification. Can anyone after the Iraq affair say that national verification is so superior to international verification? My view is that both are needed. The international groups can go in on the ground, and nations can go in and listen to our cell phones and many other things. The governments are the recipients of the reports from both, and they eventually decide. It’s not the IAEA that eventually judges and decides. I agree with the [Bush] administration on that.
ACT: Why do you think there is disdain toward international verification?
Blix: That’s hard to say. Clearly, it is true that, in the 1980s when I was the head of the IAEA, we failed to see what was going on in Iraq. It was due to an inspection system that was formulated in the 1970s when inspection was directed at countries like Germany and Sweden, democratic states that were fairly open. On-site inspections [in the 1980s] were something new, and they were not used to it. We have come a long way since then. In 1991, when we discovered what happened in Iraq, I went to the [IAEA Board of Governors] and said that we need access to more sites, more access to information, and we need access to the Security Council. Then, a number of years went by, and we had the [Model] Additional Protocol  adopted eventually in 1997, the last year I was director-general. It is now ratified by many [states] but not yet [ratified] by Iran. So, the world learned something. The commission endorses that all non-nuclear-weapon states should accept the Additional Protocol. The negative attitude you refer to—this is my personal impression—there is something doctrinaire about it. There is also, of course, a somewhat doctrinaire, skeptical attitude vis-à-vis international organizations. I think it enters into that more general, philosophical attitude toward global instruments and institutions.
ACT: Negotiations on an FMCT have been stalled, in part, because of the inability of the Conference on Disarmament (CD) to agree on a work program. Given that the commission attached so much importance to concluding an FMCT, would you support the U.S. position that the CD should focus exclusively on an FMCT?
Blix: No. I think that there are a number of other items that are valid for discussion. One of our other proposals is that the CD should be allowed to adopt its work program by [two-thirds] majority. The General Assembly of the [United Nations] can put any item on its agenda with a simple majority. We are simply saying that the consensus that’s required in the CD is a relic from the Cold War. It should be possible for the world community to use its chief negotiating organ to take up items for discussion with a qualified majority. I think that would be a difficult thing to get adopted. We’re not saying how we should go about it, but we are venturing that it would be a reasonable arrangement.
ACT: Because the commission put so much stock in concluding an FMCT and the importance of bringing the CTBT into force, should India be required to cease fissile material production for weapons and at least sign the CTBT before being allowed to participate in increased civil nuclear trade with the world, as proposed by the United States?
Blix: We discuss the case of the proposed India agreement between the United States and India. We say in a rather short form that it has many aspects, including energy. We aren’t going into that, but that is an important part of it. I myself would attach a lot of importance to enabling countries with huge populations to reduce or restrain the pressure on the use of oil and gas. However, we also recognize that proliferation concerns have been raised, and we do take the view that the NPT does not per se prohibit nuclear cooperation between the nuclear-weapon states and nonparties to the NPT. What the treaty says is that [nuclear-weapon] states should facilitate cooperation with states that adhere to the treaty. However, such cooperation must not conflict with the duty of states-parties to the NPT to work for nonproliferation. The objections raised that India might import uranium under this agreement and thereby enable itself to use more of its own uranium for enrichment for weapons purposes, these are valid concerns. There are two things that could be done in order to allay such concerns, and one would be a verified FMCT and the other would be the CTBT. It would seem to me that the United States is handicapped in its wishes so long as it does not itself accept the verified FMCT and the CTBT. I think it is an additional illustration of the desirability that the United States move [forward] with both the verified FMCT and the CTBT. The CTBT is already verified. There is nothing that is better verified in this world.
ACT: Given that the CTBT and FMCT appear a ways off, though, because of the U.S. position, should India unilaterally halt fissile material production for weapons?
Blix: I don’t think anything is a given, the U.S. or Israeli stance, et cetera. No, it’s open for negotiations. If they see a great advantage, if they feel that they must have an FMCT with India, if Congress will demand it, well then, [the Bush administration] may reconsider. The [U.S. decision not to ratify the] test ban is also not written in stone. There are some in the administration against it, but that is something the United States can still do. At one stage, most of the military and others were in favor of it, but then it fell by the wayside for a while.
ACT: The commission did not call for India and Pakistan and Israel to join the NPT. Why not?
Blix: If there was any chance of getting them to join the NPT as non-nuclear-weapon states as South Africa did, fine. But we have deemed it futile to have a direct recommendation that they should do so.
ACT: While it might appear futile, as you know, the five nuclear-weapon states through the NPT are committed to disarm, while India, Israel, and Pakistan are not. How do you remedy that?
Blix: We are taking a stand on that. We are saying that we think that all states with nuclear weapons have a duty to participate and to walk away from nuclear weapons. We are saying that those who have the most, Russia and the United States, should take the lead. France and the United Kingdom will have to consider how they continue. The United Kingdom faces a decision very soon. We are not letting anyone off the hook. We see [disarmament] as an obligation of all to do so.
ACT: The commission recommends phasing out all production of highly enriched uranium, regardless of whether it is for weapons, but it does not take a similarly strict position on plutonium and reprocessing. Why not?
Blix: That’s right. For highly enriched uranium, there is already rather limited use. In the United States, it is being used as fuel for submarines. The French do not; they use low-enriched uranium for submarines. There may be some research reactors that still have it, but by and large I think there is at least a growing consensus on this issue that highly enriched uranium is something that you can phase out, although not overnight. When it comes to plutonium, we discuss it at length. We are aware of the production of [mixed-oxide] fuel and reprocessing in the United Kingdom, France, Russia, et cetera. It’s not really the economic proposition that it once was meant to be because uranium prices have been kept low. However, we do have some breeder reactors, and there will be more of those. They run on plutonium. I don’t think our view was that it was desirable that they should be considering when to phase them out. When you see the latest U.S. proposal, the [Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP)], well, I think that is based upon the same consideration, mainly, breeder reactors will be needed in the future because of the energy situation. The GNEP talks about a new type of reactor which would work on enriched uranium and plutonium and neptunium, and it would not be possible to use this material for a weapons purpose. One uses the energy contents of the uranium, something like 80 times more if you have reprocessing. In a world where the energy problem is a big one, it’s a significant factor. So, that’s the background why we are more cautious and less far-reaching, less categorical on plutonium.
ACT: As you know, there are treaties outlawing biological and chemical weapons and severely limiting the possession of nuclear weapons with the long-term goal of their complete elimination. Why shouldn’t a similar ban be pursued on ballistic missiles?
Blix: The world is in a very difficult situation when it comes to ballistic missiles. There have been, as we note, two working parties in the UN which examine the issue at length. They said it was very dangerous but could not come to any agreement on what to do about it. We have no formula that is particularly good either. I discussed it at length but without much success. What we say on the missile shield is that before any country establishes a missile shield, they should first examine whether they can remove the threat that moves them toward a missile shield. If they can’t do that, then at least they should work toward confidence-building measures to reduce the tension that will arise. We haven’t found a path. No one else has, and that’s regrettable because it is a very dangerous area.
ACT: The report puts a lot of emphasis on resolving weapons dangers though cooperative, rule-based approaches and is quite critical of the Bush administration’s general approach to dealing with weapons of mass destruction threats. Are you concerned that the commission’s report might be dismissed by some as just another swipe in the perceived bout between Hans Blix and the Bush administration?
Blix: I think there is an effort by the commission to be evenhanded. We are discussing the [Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI)], both pros and cons. The PSI was a U.S. initiative, and the commission takes the view that the control and enforcement of export restrictions is a good one. It also points to the concerns about the laws of the sea being respected. We also raise the question, “How often has [PSI] been useful?” We have heard about cases, but they are not substantiated. It would be interesting to know just how useful [it has been]. We, the commission, think that the closer cooperation between intelligence is a useful feature of it. This is a U.S. initiative in which we see some advantage but at the same time also warning that [its success] should not be exaggerated.
Security Council Resolution 1540 is another initiative the commission looks favorably upon and sees as something institutionally and constitutionally rather new. The Security Council has the power and the duty to determine whether a situation constitutes a threat to international peace and security under Article 39, so they’re the judge. It has also executive power in Articles 41 and 42 in the designing of sanctions by obligatory members. Now, it has added in [Resolution] 1540 a legislative power in telling member states that they must, under Chapter VII, enact the following type of legislation. How effective will that be? Well, that’s another matter.
What the commission says on counterproliferation is that here has been an emphasis on military force and not on cooperative security. We are of the view that the vast majority of countries in the world rejected the justification given for the use of force in the case of Iraq. Today, we are faced with a similar thing. We can see vividly in the world that no one is accepting the thought of using military force against Iran. Maybe many will accept economic pressures but not military force. The United States is saying itself that it is not on the agenda or the plan, but that is not exactly the same thing as rejecting it.
ACT: With respect to how countries move forward on the agenda that the WMD Commission has laid out, one of the recommendations is that there should be a summit at the United Nations to move forward on this. But in light of the failures at the NPT review conference in 2005 and the UN Millennium +5 Summit in September, how could such a summit break the deadlock? How do we move ahead?
Blix: We think that there should be thorough preparations. Those would certainly take a couple of years. We are not alone in making these recommendations. We think that governments around the world, [nongovernmental organizations], and think tanks need to study the situation. We feel a little like [UN Secretary-General] Kofi Annan, that the world is sort of sleepwalking into new arms races, as he said in Tokyo recently. After the end of the Cold War, when people felt that the risk of mutual obliteration was gone, it was as if we feel asleep. Our daily dose of anguish was turned to other sources like global warming, which are good reasons, but nevertheless, arms control and disarmament fell a bit by the wayside. We think that is wrong.
I understand some of the U.S. skepticism against global conventions in the failure of the NPT to stop Iraq and North Korea. At the same time, it seems to me that the Iraq war has demonstrated the difficulties of achieving arms control by counterproliferation and military force. No one can contend that the Iraq war was successful. Now, we’re discussing the case of Iran, and it’s taken for granted as in the case of Iraq that, yes, [prohibited weapons programs] are there. The evidence doesn’t have to be examined any further, and they are talking loudly in many quarters about the use of armed force. Clearly, when you listen to the European leaders, they will not endorse the use of armed force. There is plenty of time.
We are saying in the final chapter about the Security Council that the council should make use of its power to adopt binding decisions designed under Article 39, but it should be its power acting in accordance with the UN Charter. Chapter VII speaks about situations where the council has determined that it is a threat to international peace and security, and Chapter VI, which no one talks about, is about situations which, if they continue, may come to constitute threats to international peace and security. I think it would be useful for the council to focus upon where they are. I’ve said that the framers of the charter were not pacifists, but they were also not trigger-happy.
ACT: Thank you.
Click here for a complete transcript of the interview.
The WMD Commission at a Glance History: The Swedish government established the independent WMD Commission in 2003. It focused on reducing and eliminating WMD arsenals, halting the spread of such weapons, and preventing their terrorist use. Its purpose was to identify practical measures to achieve results in these areas, while stimulating debate and educating the public.
Members: Hans Blix served as chairman of the commission. The other commissioners were Dewi Fortuna Anwar (Indonesia), Alexei G. Arbatov (Russia), Marcos de Azambuja (Brazil), Alyson Bailes (United Kingdom), Jayantha Dhanapala (Sri Lanka), Gareth Evans (Australia), Patricia Lewis (Ireland), Masashi Nishihara (Japan), William Perry (United States), Vasantha Raghavan (India), Cheikh Sylla (Senegal), Prince El Hassan bin Talal (Jordan), and Zhenqiang Pan (China). Henrik Salander served as the commission’s secretary-general and was assisted by a secretariat of four.
Key Recommendations: The commission’s 60 recommendations are wide-ranging but united by a common theme: that eliminating weapons of mass destruction is the most reliable way to prevent their use. Many of the recommendations, for example, on strengthening treaty regimes and improving compliance and verification, are also offered elsewhere. Yet, the WMD Commission also proposes:
• Outlawing nuclear weapons. All states possessing nuclear weapons, including those outside the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), should commence planning for security without such weapons. The goal should be to outlaw nuclear weapons, not simply to manage them. Such weapons are dangerous in anybody’s hands.
• Rolling back deployments of nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons should not be deployed on foreign soil, nor should they be deployed in “triads” of ground-based missiles, submarine missiles, and bombers. Nonstrategic nuclear weapons should be withdrawn to central storage.
• Repairing institutional deficits. Parties to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and Biological Weapons Convention should establish secretariats to address administrative issues. The UN Security Council needs a special unit that can perform monitoring and inspection roles upon the request of the council or the secretary-general.
• A WMD-free zone in the Middle East. Incremental progress in freeing the region of all weapons of mass destruction, along with facilities to produce weapons-usable nuclear material, is needed as part of the peace process, not its aftermath.
• Security in the Korean peninsula. North and South Korea should formalize their 1992 joint declaration to exclude both nuclear weapons and sensitive fuel-cycle facilities from the Korean peninsula. Outside powers should offer nuclear fuel guarantees and security assurances to North Korea.
• Security in South Asia. India and Pakistan should halt the production of fissile material for weapons, pending agreement on a global ban. They should both join the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, along with all other states that remain nonparties, especially the United States.
• Missiles and space. No state should deploy a missile defense without first attempting to negotiate the removal of missile threats. All states should renounce the deployment of space weapons.
World summit. The UN General Assembly should convene a world summit devoted specifically to the challenges of WMD disarmament, nonproliferation, and counterterrorism.
1. Iran currently has no operating nuclear power plants. Russia is constructing a nuclear power reactor near the Iranian city of Bushehr. Iran plans to construct another reactor on the same site.
2. The 1992 Joint Declaration of the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula forbids North Korea and South Korea from possessing uranium-enrichment and plutonium-separation facilities.
3. Russia briefly cut off natural gas shipments to Ukraine during this past January. Russia has proposed giving Iran part-ownership of a gas centrifuge plant located in Russia.
4. The United States withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty on June 13, 2002.
5. Wade Boese, “U.S. Unveils Draft Fissile Material Treaty,” Arms Control Today, June 2006, pp. 38-39.
6. Brazil has a uranium-enrichment facility at its Resende nuclear facility. Japan has a planned plutonium reprocessing facility in Rokkasho-mura. See David Fite and Sharon Squassoni, “Brazil as Litmus Test: Resende and Restrictions on Uranium Enrichment,” Arms Control Today, October 2005, pp. 13-19; Shinichi Ogawa and Michael Schiffer, “Japan’s Plutonium Reprocessing Dilemma,” Arms Control Today, October 2005, pp. 20-24.
7. France and the United Kingdom both have IAEA safeguards agreements and additional protocols with both EURATOM and the IAEA. Established in 1958, EURATOM is a multilateral organization that manages and promotes European nuclear industries.
8. An additional protocol is a voluntary agreement that countries can conclude with the IAEA to give the agency greater inspection and oversight authority to verify that civilian nuclear technologies are not misused to build bombs.
9. Many of the 65 members of the CD favor holding negotiations or at least talks on nuclear disarmament, the prevention of an arms race in outer space, and negative security assurances. The United States has opposed a work program that includes these items.
10. See Rebecca Johnson, “End of a Nuclear Weapons Era: Can Britain Make History?” Arms Control Today, April 2006, pp. 6-12.
11. Wade Boese, “Bush Promotes New Nuclear Plan,” Arms Control Today, March 2006, pp. 36-37.
12. President George W. Bush announced May 31, 2003, that the United States would lead a new effort, the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) to interdict shipments of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and related goods to terrorists and countries of proliferation concern. Although the use of interdictions to thwart the WMD trade is not new, the PSI seeks to use multilateral cooperation to strengthen such efforts. There are approximately 70 countries reportedly supporting the initiative, including the core group of Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
13. Wade Boese, “Key U.S. Interdiction Initiative Claim Misrepresented,” Arms Control Today, July/August 2005, pp. 26-27.
14. The Security Council approved Resolution 1540 in April 2004. It requires governments to adopt laws and measures to prevent nonstate actors from acquiring unconventional weapons. On April 27, 2006, the Security Council extended the committee monitoring the resolution’s implementation for two additional years, through April 2008. See Wade Boese, “UN Extends Committee on Terrorists and Arms,” Arms Control Today, June 2006, pp. 39-40.
1. Domenici touts nuclear-scientist program at Sandia
The New Mexican
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New developments in several technologies were showcased Thursday at Sandia National Laboratories, where U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., saw the fruits of a federal program that puts former Soviet nuclear-weapons scientists to work.
Domenici saw programs involving high-temperature batteries for deep oil exploration, a so-called drilling radar for energy exploration and special bolts designed to better secure nuclear materials.
The programs were helped by the U.S. Global Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention, an effort of the National Nuclear Security Administration.
The program partners private American companies, the country's national laboratories and nuclear-weapons scientists from the former Soviet Union.
The goal of the program is to employ former Soviet nuclear-weapons workers and keep them from working for terrorists or hostile countries.
It began in 1993, a few years after the Soviet Union dissolved and parts of the region experienced dramatic economic change.
"The great scientists who knew how to do things in the nuclear-weaponry field had to make a living and had to go somewhere and had to do something and only had certain skills that were marketable," Domenici said. "... If you didn't create a market that was peaceful, they were the prey for those in the world who wanted to take from them and buy them for what they knew. And those were the rogue countries that wanted to produce nuclear weapons."
Domenici said the program did not stop all nuclear proliferation, but it should be considered a success nonetheless.
His office reported the program and its private partners have created more than 2,800 jobs in the former Soviet Union. The program has been given $186 million over time, which has resulted in $195 million in private investment.
The nonprofit U.S. Industry Corp. claims 160 companies are involved in this kind of work.
Domenici has proposed spending $28 million on the program in this year's budget.
"This program has always been vulnerable because there have been those who think that it did not have any place in the relationship between Russia ... and America," Domenici said. "But I was a believer."
Asked if $28 million was enough, Domenici said it's likely the House of Representatives will want to spend less on it.
"If I could keep $28 million all the way through, we're going to be in clover," he said.
There are eight to 10 workers at Sandia National Laboratories involved in the program. At Los Alamos National Laboratory, 12 workers are involved in programs that have resulted in about 500 new jobs in Russia, spokeswoman Nancy Ambrosiano said.
Domenici also said he got a short briefing from workers at Sandia regarding North Korea's recent long-range missile launch, one of seven launches. The long-range missile broke up less than minute after takeoff.
"It was worse now than it was years ago when they tried it," Domenici said.
2. New Russian Program Encourages Innovation in Science and Technology
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"Inoculation for Academicians" - Interview with Inna Bilenkina, deputy director of Rosnauka (the Federal Agency for Science and Innovations):
RG: US experts, naming the most important achievement of the nation in the twentieth century, gave first place not to reaching the moon, not even to the computer, but rather to the establishment of a national innovation system that converts ideas to commodity products. We are likewise funding the federal program "Research and Development in Priority Areas of Advancement and Engineering for 2002-2006." What has been accomplished?
Bilenkina: Axiom: for innovations to be effective, serious money must first be invested in them. Until 2004, the bounty of the budget sufficed for holding ground in the difficult situation of both science and innovations. Then everything changed dramatically. For example, the funds allocated for holding competitions for scientific projects suddenly increased tenfold. And now on the whole it is not just a matter of holding ground, but of serious growth.
RG: That generosity of the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Economic Development is no accident. They have been continually demanding that funds for science not be spread around over many institutes, but rather that they be allocated for only a limited number of priorities, and without exception on a competitive basis. Haven't such conditions surely been an unpleasant surprise for many institutes?
Bilenkina: That's right. Let's say that before this we had always considered state science centers (GNTs) to be the undisputed leaders in many areas of science. To put it simply, many of them had got accustomed to living by the principle--give out money, and as much as possible. But since 2005, the same conditions have been set down for them as for everyone else. If you want to get funding from the budget, you will take part in competition on an equal footing with others, including academic institutes and colleges. The winner will not be the one with the best connections, bur rather the one that is really the strongest. Selection is done by independent and authoritative experts. In 2005, of 58 GNTs, only 48 submitted applications for participation, and lots were won by 32 of those.
RG: After long and heated arguments, it has been decided to focus on only six priority areas. Hasn't our science been excessively constricted?
Bilenkina: Science has become an expensive toy, and even very rich nations do not have pockets deep enough to do research in all areas. Each chooses for itself the section where it has strength. We have settled on six priorities: the industry of nanosystems and materials, living systems, rational use of nature, power engineering and power supply, security and combating terrorism, information and telecommunication systems.
Each of the areas is interdisciplinary, having an impact not on just one sector, but on all sectors at once, on the economy as a whole, which is the greatest buffer that our science has in such areas of promise for world science as nanotechnologies and living systems. Here in Russia at the moment all conditions are in place for being among the leaders.
RG: Still, it is strange that the privileged list does not include our pride: outer space, the atom, aviation...
Bilenkina: They have their custodians: Roskosmos or Rosatom. Considerable monies are allocated from the budget for research there. And Rosnauka received 7.148 billion rubles this year for the entire program. Not so long ago, such an amount seemed enormous. But we have now been able to allocate 3 million rubles for the smallest lot in a competition. And there are efforts that have received more than 100 million rubles.
RG: There is a gulf between the most excellent idea and its commercialization. To bring them together, a bridge has to be built that is made up of hundreds, if not thousands of industrial parks, centers of innovations and technology transfers, and so on. And we have built only dozens of tiny bridges of this kind over a period of several years, which Academician Dobretsov called "dwarves" in an interview with RG. Doesn't this look a lot like a Soviet never-ending project?
Bilenkina: Like they say, whatever the money, that will be the scale. Let's say that it takes 3-5 million marks to build the average industrial park in Germany. In Tatarstan, President Shaymiyev allocated two billion rubles for an industrial park, and it started giving results right away.
Alas, in the federal program about which we are talking no funds have been provided for building industrial parks or technology/innovation centers. We can only finance the development of their participants, provide support for young scientists and purchase equipment. But even under these conditions, in cooperation with several foundations and local administrations we have managed in Zelenograd, St. Petersburg, Tomsk, Novosibirsk, Dubna and Voronezh to build 44 industrial parks, 61 technology/innovation centers, two industrial innovation clusters, 86 technology transfer centers and four industrial innovation complexes.
I agree that it isn't much. I've already said why. But let's look at the situation from another side. The Ministry for Economic Development has now announced wide-scale action on setting up special economic zones where considerable money will finally be invested. But where are they going to spring up? In Zelenograd, Tomsk, Dubna, Moscow, Novosibirsk. Now where have we heard those addresses before? Of course, they're the same places where components of an innovative infrastructure have already been put in place.
And take the annual venture fairs that Rosnauka has been holding in St. Petersburg since the year 2000. Not so long ago, no one had any idea what the word "venture" meant. It is no accident that many specialists are saying with all seriousness that it was better for our nation to make a nuclear bomb after the war than to set up an innovation system now. Personnel to make a bomb were ready at hand. But "venture" and "innovation" sound to everyone like something alien. When our specialists were holding seminars in regional areas, the higher managers opened them, and preferred to make themselves scarce.
The situation is changing with great difficulty, with a groan, but people are gradually being inoculated with the new culture. At innovation and venture fairs, authors of scientific developments and businessmen are communicating directly, and beginning to understand each other. The geography of venture fairs has expanded: last year they were held for the first time in Kazan, Samara, Saransk, and will now be regular events there.
RG: It appears that inoculation to innovations is bearing fruit. But our business seems to be permanently immune to them. Judging from statistics, there is no rush to take risks and invest in new developments. How are you going to get entrepreneurs interested?
Bilenkina: Not everything is so obvious here. The innovation sphere is a two-way street where science and business have to be meeting each other. And it is the scientists who have to take the first serious steps. They must learn to work toward a result, and that is a special science. Besides that, there has to be a change in psychology, they must learn to think, figuratively speaking, not just about formulas, but also about how to "package" their wares more advantageously. And many scientific workers are quickly mastering this science that is new to them. This is evident from projects that have been presented at the "Innovative Achievements" exhibition under the auspices of the Tenth International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg.
And such progress of the scientific community has not been left without a response. Business has moved to the challenge, its investments in innovative projects are growing at a rapid pace. We can say that 13 megaprojects are being carried out in the state program for a total amount of 7.3 billion rubles, and more than half of that is the money of investors. In the selection of projects, the main condition has been: a ruble of investment should bring 5 rubles of profit. It is more than likely that such a ratio can be achieved. At any event, this year the volume of sales should already be 5 billion rubles. It can be said that one enterprise in Zelenograd has probe microscope sales amounting to more than a billion rubles, and a third of that is for export.
RG: President V. Putin spent several hours at the St. Petersburg exhibition. What caught his attention in particular?
Bilenkina: This was primarily an exposition for nanotechnologies, hydrogen power, and also the Gasel automobile with gasoline/hydrogen engine. The president familiarized himself with these divisions with great interest and thoroughness.
1. Russia: Reactor block storage facility to be opened in Saida Guba on July 18
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The first batch of seven single-compartment blocks from scrapped nuclear submarines will be sent to the coastal reactor block long-term storage facility in Saida Guba outside Murmansk on Friday night. The construction of the storage facility is financed by Germany.
"The first blocks will leave for Saida Guba on Friday night. They are expected to reach their destination on Saturday," the Nerpa shipyard told Interfax-Military News Agency.
"Of course, weather may interfere with the plans, but the long-term forecast does not predict any storms or rains," a Nerpa official said.
The official opening ceremony of Russia's only reactor block long-term storage facility will take place on July 18.
Initially the facility was designed to accommodate 40 blocks, but the Russian Atomic Energy Agency asked German partners to expand it to quarter 30 more blocks.
The facility will be constructed in three stages. The entire storage facility, which is to become operational in 2008, is designed to store 120 reactor blocks and waste from several dozen nuclear-powered vessels.
1. Russia confirms obligations to eliminate 8 tons of chem wpns
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TASS The current 46th session of the Executive Committee of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is one of the key ones within the framework of preparation for the eleventh session of the OPCW member states' Conference that will be held in December 2006. It is important, because it will discuss matters related to the essence of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction, deputy head of the Russian Federal Agency for Industry Viktor Kholstov told Itar-Tass in an exclusive interview here on Tuesday. He is taking part in the session work.
The first issue is determining and approval of the deadlines of chemical weapons elimination by the states signatories to the Convention, Kholstov said. A number of countries have filed applications for extending the period of their chemical weapons stock elimination. But if such countries as India, Libya and Albania have applied for the extension of the interim term of the elimination - and this issue is decided within the framework of the Convention - then the United States and Russia have filed applications envisaging chemical weapons elimination according to the final possible variant - April 29, 2012.
Another issue - measures to ensure the fulfilment of the Convention. Each state participating in the Convention should create its national controlling body or give such powers to a certain ministry or department. OPCW Technical Secretariat's Director General Rogelio Pfirter has presented an analysis according to which not all countries have determined such body so far, Kholstov said.
The third important issue, the official went on to say, is linked with international assistance. Developing countries want to see this assistance in order to ensure the development of their chemical industry and getting aid in the event of possible application of chemical weapons against them.
Taking into account that the main issue concerned the fulfilment of tasks to eliminate chemical weapons, the session participants were informed about the steps taken by Russia to fulfil them. As of June 30 the country eliminated a total of 1,750 tonnes of chemical weapons, which is almost 4.5 percent of Russia's total chemical weapons stock. Considerable progress has been registered in this sphere this year. ``As compared with the previous session we have begun to eliminate the chemical weapons stock 2.3 times more actively,'' the Russian official stressed.
Russia has confirmed that by April 29, 2007 it will complete the second stage of fulfilment of its obligations under the Convention - elimination of 8,000 tonnes of chemical weapons stockpiles, i.e., 20 percent of the total Russian stock. It was pointed out at the session that the Russian government is providing the necessary funds in full volume.
The 46th session of the Executive Council of the OPCW is being held in The Hague where the international organisation's headquarters is located.
In the near future a federal targeted program (FTsP) for the development of the nuclear-industry complex will be approved. The document has already been submitted to the government. This was announced yesterday at a sector innovation forum by the head of the Federal Atomic Energy Agency, Sergey Kiriyenko. According to him, the FTsP will ensure the accomplishment of goals set by President Vladimir Putin, in particular, keeping nuclear-power engineering's share in the country's energy balance at the 16-percent level. According to the program, the nuclear industry will turn over two power units for operation each year. Nuclear-power engineering faces bringing a total of 42 gigawatts of new capacity online by 2030.
True, Rosatom (Federal Atomic Energy Agency) has set rather modest goals for itself for the first stage. The average time for building a power unit at a nuclear-power plant is no less than five years. Thus, the startup of new power units before 2012 is not foreseen. During this time, a source in Rosenergoatom (Russian State Concern for the Production of Electricity and Thermal Power at Nuclear Power Stations) explained to, efforts will be concentrated mainly on facilities where an infrastructure has already been created -- networks, dispatching points, etc. At the same time, work will start on site preparation and an infrastructure for the construction of new power plants.
The cost of building one power unit can reach $1.5 billion. Considering that there are plans to build 40 such facilities over a quarter of a century, the price of the issue will amount to almost 2 trillion rubles. According to the existing funding scheme, the state will allocate a large part of the money under the approved FTsP. Rosenergoatom will take some of the expenditures from a development budget that is being formed through tariffs. However, Sergey Kiriyenko is proposing a unique mechanism to attract private investment. Nuclear-power generation, as you know, cannot be private. "Business will not invest money in walls and reactors, but in kilowatt-hours," emphasized our interlocutor. The interest of investors will consist of the fact that they will have the right to receive cheaper electric power from the nuclear industry for 20-30 years.
Innovation development is called on to make the sector more attractive to investment. However, even this program, in turn, requires capital investment. Kiriyenko estimates that here we are talking about 40 billion rubles a year. This is a minimum. The total volume of funding necessary to accomplish the projects presented at the forum is 80 billion rubles. This is ten times larger than the current amount of funding; today only 8-9 billion rubles are allocated for innovation in this sphere. Because of underfinancing, many projects have come to a standstill, claims the head of Rosatom. In assessing the prospects for obtaining the necessary funds, Kiriyenko noted that the amount of money needed to accomplish the projects is insufficient to apply to the Investment Fund, but at the same time too great for the enterprises themselves.
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