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What Was New On the START Web site?

November, 1998

November 28, 1998
Yesterday's Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye NG (N 45, November 27 - December 3, 1998) continues the discussion on expediency of integration of strategic nuclear forces:

Minatom press-service has disproved L.Maximov's claim, expressed in his open letter to the First Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Maslyukov - in Russian (After the Uranium Deal, - in Russian Zavtra, N 46, November 17, 1998). See also our recent comment on Maximov's letter (- in Russian).

U.S officials raise concerns on safety of Russian nuclear weapons:

Recent publications of the Center for Security Policy criticize appeals for U.S. unilateral nuclear reductions.

November 26, 1998
Zavtra newspaper has published an open letter (in Russian) by L. Maximov, the acting Director of the Institute of Physical Problems of Metallurgy and Special Machine Building, to the Prime-Minister First Deputy Yuri Maslyukov (The Uranium Deal, by L. Maximov, Zavtra, N 44, November 3, 1998). The author asserts, that $12 billion for 500 tons of enriched uranium, which will be sold by Russia to the U.S. during the next ten years according to the existing mutual agreement, is only 0.1% of the actual cost of the uranium. Unfortunately, the author did not provide with the detailed estimates, which would support the claim. We have made our own estimates, so that we could discuss the matter with the author of the letter and all those who honestly try to find the answer to the question raised. For the details, look at our comment How Much Does Weapon Grade Uranium Cost? (in Russian).

The 98-99 United States nationwide policy debate topic is the state of U.S. foreign policy towards Russia. This years resolution states, that this policy should be substantially changed. One of the issues widely discussed is continuing cold war practice of trailing of Russian submarines. We continue getting dozens of letters from debaters with their questions on our publications about reasons of submarine collisions. A page with Eugene Miasnikov's answers to the questions of debaters was updated yesterday.

Izvestia correspondent supposes, that the U.S. is already prepared to ship a special equipment for Typhoon class SSBN disposal to the Russian northern shipyards (Russian "Typhoons" May Happen To Be Disposed Of, by Yuri Golotyuk, Izvestiya, November 20, 1998, p. 1). Though the author states, that the Russian Navy calls the idea to begin urgently disposing Typhoons absurd, according to our opinion, in a year or two this solution may become inevitable, if current tendencies with START I implementation do not change.

There are rumors about a possible resignation of Minister of Defense Igor Sergeyev, who "...forwarded an active work on urgent unification of Russian Strategic Forces..." (Sergeyev's Resignation Is On The Cards., by Andrey Korbut, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, November 21 1998, p. 2).

For the last two years Russian armed forces have got eight Topol-M ICBMs only instead of planned 60 (We Need Missiles Yet. Yuri Maslyukov in Izhevsk, by Vyacheslav Smolentsev, Zavtra, N 45, November 10, 1998).

New Chancellor of Germany Schroeder raised the issue of a possible changing NATO nuclear posture in a meeting with NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana in Berlin two weeks ago. Joschka Fischer, the foreign minister and a member of the Green Party, returned to the question in an interview in this week's issue of the magazine Der Spiegel. Asked about the first use of nuclear weapons, he said that he had raised the matter with Solana and that "we will have to discuss these matters because we see things differently." The U.S. reaction was quick and quite sharp (Germans Irk U.S., Urging NATO Shift Atom Policy, by Roger Cohen, The New York Times, November 24, 1998). After meeting at the Pentagon with Defense Secretary William Cohen, German Defense Minister Rudolf Scharping said that "there is no intention in my government to question any core element of NATO strategy, including the fact that nuclear forces play a fundamental political role."

Driven by budget constraints as much as diminishing security threats, Pentagon officials are quietly recommending that the Clinton administration consider unilateral reductions in the nation's nuclear arsenal.

BASIC has recently published its new report The Bug in the Bomb: The Impact of the Year 2000 Problem on Nuclear Weapons, (by Michael Kraig, Research Report 98.6, November 1998).

November 20, 1998
Today's Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye NG (November 20-26, 1998, N 44) presents a very interesting discussion on expediency of creation a Unified Main Strategic Command, which was proposed by Igor Sergeyev, the Minister of Defense, on November 3, 1998.

Sen. Richard Lugar, visiting Moscow on Thursday, stood firm against any changes to the START II treaty. "To add an item such as no nuclear weapons in the Baltics, or something of this variety, as a condition clearly would be unacceptable," he told a news conference. (Russia Drafts New START-II Treaty, Associated Press, Thursday, November 19, 1998; 6:06 p.m. EST). On Wednesday he and senior U.S. officials got their first look at a vast storage site at the high-security Mayak Fissile Material Storage Facility, which will be ready to receive the first plutonium and weapons-grade uranium in 2002. (U.S. Team Visits Major Russian Weapon Storage Site, by Reuters, Russia Today, November 19, 1998).

The Russian press comments the situation on START II ratification:

Ukraine started destruction of Tu-160 and Tu-95 strategic bombers (Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye NG, November 20-26, 1998, N 44, p.3). Current state and future of Russian air leg of strategic forces is a subject of an article in the recent issue of Air International journal (Blackjack and Further..., by Malcolm Davis, Air International, November, 1998). By the way, participants of the Military History forum opened a discussion (in Russian) of the publication. The paper is also translated into Russian.

November 18, 1998
The New York Times has published a special report describing the life of citizens of Krasnoyarsk-26. The largest weapon grade plutonium production facility is located in this closed city (Special Report: The Hidden City. Hard Times Now at Russia's Once-Pampered Nuclear Centers, by Michael R. Gordon, The New York Times, November 18, 1998).

In the recent issue of Disarmament Diplomacy (N 31, October, 1998):

and other papers.

November 17, 1998
Segodnya newspaper reports, that voting on START II in the State Duma is scheduled for December 4, 1998. A package of documents to be ratified has been already sent out to the Duma factions and committees (START II: The Auction is Announced / Chances of Ratification Are 50 to 50, by Pavel Felgenhauer, Segodnya, November 17, 1998).

Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.) today plans to call on President Clinton to order immediate unilateral reductions in U.S. strategic nuclear forces and to remove the hair trigger from many of those that remain. Kerrey's proposal would reduce today's roughly 6,000 U.S. warheads deployed on strategic missiles to "no more than" the proposed START III amounts of 2,000 to 2,500 warheads, and would immediately take all missiles above that level off of hair-trigger alert by removing their warheads. (Kerrey: U.S. Should Cut Nuclear Arms Unilaterally, by Walter Pincus, The Washington Post, Tuesday, November 17, 1998; Page A13).

A journalist thinks, that Russian communists can approve START II for the IMF money (The Brest's Treaty II, by Aleksandr Akulov, Itogi, November 16, 1998).

Aleksandr Lebed said, Russia's armed forces cannot fight a large-scale war with conventional weapons and the country must maintain its nuclear forces at all costs (Lebed: Russia Must Maintain Nukes, Associated Press, Sunday, November 15, 1998; 10:06 a.m. EST)

Senator Lugar leads a delegation on a nine-day inspection of field sites in Russia where missiles, missile silos, bombers and missile-firing submarines are being dismantled and destroyed. What is of particular interest, the group will review plans for dismantlement of the first Typhoon nuclear submarine. Though at least two submarines of this class were withdrawn from service by now, nothing was known about their future so far (Russia Still Dismantling Weapons, Lugar Says, by Walter Pincus, The Washington Post, Saturday, November 14, 1998; Page A05).

November 13, 1998
Thursday Nezavisimaya Gazeta has published a review (in Russian) on the book Russian Strategic Nuclear Weapons. Our Center's recent publication is included in top five of the yesterday's weekly supplement Ex Libris NG of Nezavisimaya Gazeta.

Russian newspapers comment the situation with START II ratification:

Yuri Maslyukov, the First Deputy Prime-Minister, believes that the question of START II ratification is about making the choice between, on one hand, moving toward more stable nuclear balance at lower levels and retaining a capability to influence on the process of expansion of the nuclear club, and, on the other hand, giving to the U.S. an opportunity to keep its strategic forces on START I level, so that they become the only superpower by 2005.

He has also pointed out, that Russian strategic forces can be able to retain no more than 3900 deployed nuclear warheads by 2003, and no more than 930 by 2007. The maximum figures can be only achieved by prolonging service lives by the factor of 2-2.5. Russia does not have an appropriate experience yet.

Yuri Maslyukov urges the Duma to ratify START II Treaty to pave the way for START III negotiations. In his opinion START III should include such provisions as restricting the deployed numbers by 2000 warheads (though 1500 would be even better for keeping the strategic balance); elimination of the "breakout potential", verified elimination of downloaded warhead platforms and warhead casings (in a similar way as it is done in the INF Treaty); confirmation of adherence to the ABM Treaty and the demarcation agreements; decreasing the costs and simplifying the process of verification of START implementation (We Keep The Balance of Strategic Nuclear Forces, by Yu. Maslyukov, Parlamentskaya Gazeta, November 11 1998, p. 1, 2. The full text is published by Oborona i Bezopasnost bulletin, November 13, 1998).

November 12, 1998
Russian parliament leaders decided Tuesday to speed up the long-stalled ratification of the START II arms reduction treaty with the United States. The agenda-setting council of the parliament's lower house, the State Duma, gave parliamentary committees 10 days to prepare documents for ratifying the treaty.

Centrist Aleksander Shokhin said after a meeting of a council which manages the Duma, that the vote on an amended version of the ratification law might take place as early as this month. "The ratification process is now getting to the final stage," said Shokhin, head of the Our Home Is Russia bloc's parliamentary group. "It is possible that by the end of November or early December the issue will be up for voting at a Duma plenary meeting."

Gennady Seleznyov, speaker of the State Duma, said "If the president agrees (with our final version), we'll put it on the agenda for ratification." Roman Popkovich, head of the Duma's Defense Committee, said that possible revisions of the treaty would not alter the ``essence'' of the treaty.

Press sources continue discussing our Center's recent book. See a paper by Mikhail Pogorely, published at the Global Beat web site of the New York University.

The first part of the report The Economy of Weapon Grade Plutonium Disposal in Nuclear Reactors (-in Russian) by Anatoli Diakov and Eugene Sharov is now available on-line. Though the paper has been prepared a year ago, the problems discussed remain still important. The full text will be published soon. By the way, a group of U.S. arms control experts warns, that the U.S. government may face the dilemma of having to subsidize Russia's nuclear-power program or risking indefinite postponement of plutonium disposition in Russia and the United States as well, if the current emphasis on the MOX option persists. Congress is known to have made clear that disposition should not proceed faster in the United States than in Russia (DOE Analysis Must Include All Relevant Costs of Plutonium Disposition in Russia, Global Beat of New York University, November 4, 1998).

A publication "Russia Has Found An Alternative to the Skrunda Radar" (by Vladimir Georgiyev, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, November 5, 1998, p. 5) caused a somewhat sharp response. See an article Analysis: Replacing Skrunda, (Russia Today, November 10, 1998).

Two latest issues of Yadernaya Bezopasnost, June-July (NN 13-14) and August-September (NN 15-16) have been finally published in the Web. Contents of the issues include opinions on prospects for START II ratification (by Alexander Goltz), Russian strategic forces development (by Vladimir Maryukha, Alexander Goltz and Dmitri Safronov), the roles for tactical nuclear weapons (by Vladimir Belous) and other interesting papers.

Ambassador Linton Brooks thinks, that it is extremely unlikely to see START II ratification in the near future. At this circumstances, the Administration will have to redefine in a less costly way what it means to remain at START I levels. The U.S. could reduce its forces in a way to maintain a parity or slight superiority over Russian forces (Waiting for START III: Arms Control and Submarine Force, by Amb. Linton F. Brooks, The Submarine Review, October 1998, pp. 25-31).

November 6, 1998
Today is the first anniversary since the English section of the START Web site was established. The pages of the site have been visited by at least 5,000 readers more than 20,000 times since then. Most probably, this statistics will rapidly grow in the nearest future. The number of visits was increasing by the factor of 1.5 every month since July.

First press reports about our book have appeared in the the public media. See an article by a Reuters correspondent.

The State Duma will consider a special Federal Law "About Financing of Strategic Nuclear Forces During the Period Until 2010" (Financing of Strategic Forces Will Be Guaranteed by a Law, by Igor Korotchenko, NVO-NG, N 42, November 6-12, 1998, pp. 1, 3).

To keep Russia's nuclear material from disappearing abroad, Russian, European and American partners opened a center Wednesday to keep better track of the government's stockpiles of uranium and plutonium. The Russian Methodological and Training Center, a joint project of Russia's Atomic Energy Ministry, the U.S. Department of Energy and the European Commission, is located in Russia's nuclear heartland, the site of the world's first nuclear power plant (Center to Track Russian Nuclear, By Nick Wadhams, Associated Press, Wednesday, November 4, 1998; 4:02 p.m. EST).

As the famous "Titanic", the Russian Federal Nuclear Center - the All Union Scientific Research Institute of Experimental Physics - with its nuclear weapon scientists sank to bottom after a collision with the democratic government - an opinion of a Chief Designer of a Special Construction Bureau of Minatom (Break-Up of the Nuclear Center, - in Russian, by P. Mesnyankin, Zavtra, October 20, 1998).

Arms control experts of various countries discuss problems revealed by nuclear tests in India and Pakistan (Special Report: The South Asian Bomb, Medicine & Global Survival, October 1998).

November 4, 1998
Presentation of the Center's new book Russian Strategic Nuclear Weapons (in Russian) took place yesterday at the National Press Institute. The audience included representatives from the Ministry of Defense, Minatom, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the State Duma, nongovernmental organizations and public media. The book attracted much attention. There was nearly eighty guests at the meeting. The speakers included Pavel Podvig, the Director of Russian Strategic Nuclear Weapons Project, Prof. Anatoli Diakov, the Director of the Center for Arms Control at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT), Prof. Viktor Shkolnikov, the Deputy Director of the MIPT, Major General Vladimir Belous, Ret. - Head of the Department of Military Policy in the Center for Scientific Research of the Committee of Scientists for Global Responsibility. The authors of the book answered to the questions of press reporters.

The bulletin WPS. Oborona i Bezopasnost presents an analytical paper On Current State and Prospects of the Russian Nuclear Arsenal - in Russian - (November 1, 1998). The same issue informs, that five RS-12M "Topol-M" ICBMs were delivered to the Strategic Missile Forces. The missiles are currently in Tatischevo ICBM base (Saratov region), and they will be soon put on duty in silos. By the end of December, the first regiment of ten "Topol-M" missiles is going to be deployed..

In the final days of Congress, Sen. Pete V. Domenici (R-N.M.) and a bipartisan group of senators and representatives slipped $525 million into the massive year-end spending bill to support two faltering nonproliferation programs designed to reduce Russian stocks of plutonium and highly enriched uranium taken from the dismantling of nuclear weapons. ($525 Million for Russian Nonproliferation Deals Added to Bill, by Walter Pincus, The Washington Post, November 1, 1998; Page A12). A part of the allocated money - $200 Million - is to be spent for weapon-grade plutonium disposal. However, the details are still to be negotiated with Russia. In the nearest future we are going to put the report by Anatoli Diakov and Eugene Sharov "The Economy of Weapon Grade Plutonium Disposal in Nuclear Reactors" on the START Web site. The report was first published a year ago.

What Was New?

In 1998: January | February | March | April | May | June | July-September | October
In 1997: November | December

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