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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

South Africa’s Treasury advised against getting Russian nuclear reactors, but Putin is pushing for the sale

Russian-Bearflag-S.AfricaVladimir Putin’s quest for a nuclear monopoly, Mail & Guardian, South Acfric17 OCT 2014 00:00 QAANITAH HUNTER  Somehow Russia has persuaded President Jacob Zuma into agreeing to a deal for a nuclear fleet that the treasury opposed. The Russians are coming. The nuclear deal with Russia is to dominate the agenda when the South Africa-Russia joint intergovernmental committee on trade and economic co-operation meets next month.

Even though the South African government insists it has not entered into the procurement phase for the nuclear fleet, it has become clear that Russian President Vladimir Putin managed to sway President Jacob Zuma and Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson into giving Russia the entirety of the deal.

Zuma and his most trusted Cabinet ministers went against the strict advice of the national treasury and his senior advisers when a nuclear energy “agreement” was signed with Russia last month.

Two sources who also advised against it revealed this week to the Mail & Guardian that an initial bid made by Russian nuclear company Rosatom last year was rejected by the treasury and a number of Zuma’s advisers. A third credible source who was close to the negotiations confirmed their version of events.

The treasury this week did not deny advising against the initial Russian proposal.

“Nuclear would be a substantial financial commitment and government can only make that kind of commitment after careful and thorough-going modelling and an affordability assessment,” said spokesperson Jabulani Sikhakhane.

He said they had yet to discuss how the treasury would pay for nuclear energy.

Exclusive rights
It has emerged that the Russians wanted exclusive rights to South Africa’s nuclear industry. This was substantiated by a statement made by Putin in March last year, ­following his visit to South Africa, saying his country did not want to merely build the nuclear plants but would bid to run the entire nuclear industry here.

South Africa plans to enhance its energy mix by creating 9.6 gigawatts of nuclear energy by 2030.

The M&G spoke to three highly placed sources – all of them indicated that:

  • The initial Russian proposal was not affordable and the treasury rejected it;
  • The technology proposed was sub standard and dangerous;
  • It would exclude and be damaging to local industries; and
  • Even public servants who seemed loyal to Zuma had concerns about it.

One source close to the nuclear talks said the signing of the agreement was a result of about two years of courting by the Russians……….http://mg.co.za/article/2014-10-16-vladimir-putins-quest-for-a-nuclear-monopoly

October 18, 2014 Posted by | marketing, Russia, South Africa | Leave a comment

Russia protects nuclear weapons stockpiles from cyber sabotage

computer-spy-nukeCyber security units to protect Russia’s nuclear weapons stockpiles RT.com October 17, 2014  The IT systems of all Russian nuclear weapons stockpiles will be protected by a new team of anti-hackers, the Defense Ministry said after a year-long “hunting season” for programmers.

Special units of the Russian Strategic Missile Forces (SMF), responsible for the country’s nuclear weapons, will reduce the vulnerability, should it be found, in their brand-new information systems, according to the Defense Ministry’s spokesman……..http://rt.com/news/196720-russia-missile-forces-cybersecurity/

October 18, 2014 Posted by | Russia, safety | Leave a comment

Russia’s nuclear company Rosatom sends third expedition to monitor Fukushima radiation

Russia sends third expedition to Kuril Islands to monitor radiation levels October 7, 2014 Gleb Fedorov, RBTH Radiation from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant does not threaten Russian territory. However, the consequences of the 2011 accident will be felt for decades to come. RBTH spoke to the scientists involved with the third expedition to be sent to the Kuril Islands in the Russian Far East in order to monitor the radiation.
The scientific expedition vessel Professor Khlyustin, carrying Russian scientists, experts and military personnel, left the port of Vladivostok in Russia’s Far East on September 25 and headed east toward the Kuril Islands of Urup and Simushir, where they were due to take samples of soil, freshwater and silt.
……..In the space of a month, the expedition plans on crossing the Sea of Japan and sailing along the eastern shores of the Kuril Islands, a narrow chain of isles stretching 800 miles from Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula to the Japanese island of Hokkaido. The scientists’ principal aim is to monitor radiation levels in the area affected by the accident at Japan’s Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant on March 11, 2011. This is the third expedition since the disaster. The first one took place right after the catastrophe, the second – a year later. The new expedition is being carried out under the aegis of the Russian Geographical Society and has been organized by the State Oceanographic Institute. Aboard the vessel are collaborators from state nuclear corporation Rosatom, the Ministry of Defense, the Russian Hydro-Meteorological Institute, the Rospotrebnadzor Monitoring Agency and the marine-food-chainNevelsky Naval University. Results from past expeditions showed that pollution was almost zero and the biggest threat to Russia was the accumulation of radiation in fish.
………The only thing threatening Russia after Fukushima, according to Panchenko, is the accumulation of radiation in various types of commercial fish: “Fukushima’s radioactive discharges polluted the sand in the shallows where we find the little sand eels. Sand eels are caught by fishermen and are eaten by bigger commercial fish, which thus accumulate radiation.”
Source: Russia Beyond the Headlines – http://rbth.com/science_and_tech/2014/10/07/russia_sends_third_expedition_to_kuril_islands_to_monitor_ra_40417.html)

October 8, 2014 Posted by | Japan, radiation, Russia | Leave a comment

Lack of accountability of Russia’s nuclear corporation Rosatom

Russian-BearAnalysis: Why we won’t be getting any nuclear power plants from Russia anytime soon, Daily Maverick, DIRK DE VOS SOUTH AFRICA  25 SEP 2014 …….who is this Rosatom, then, and what is their track record? Full details of Rosatom are hard to find, but the organisation is tracked by a Norwegian-based NGO, the Bellona Foundation, which has a significant presence in Russia. It was cobbled together from the husk of the Soviet era nuclear programme, incorporating more than 250 enterprises and scientific institutions, including all civil nuclear companies of Russia and nuclear weapons complex’s facilities. It covers everything from exploring, mining and enriching uranium, constructing and operating nuclear power plants, nuclear plant decommissioning and managing and storing spent nuclear fuel. It emerged from Russia’s energy 2003 strategy of 2003, which prioritised reducing reliance on natural gas-based power supplies which could be more profitably exported.

Rosatom is part of a central concept in Russia’s President Putin’s economic policy of having national champions or vertically integrated companies in strategic sectors that are expected to become self-sustaining, but also to advance the interests of Russia. Rosatom is the result of Putin’s efforts at restoring its nuclear energy industry, subsidised up to 2015 by $42.7 billion from the federal budget to nuclear power and industry development before 2015. Quite quickly, Rosatom has become a major player in the global nuclear sector. Rosatom owns the world’s 2nd largest uranium reserves, is the 5thlargest uranium miner, is the 4th largest in electricity generation, provides 40% of the world uranium enrichment services and 17% of the world nuclear fuel market.

…..the corporate and governance structure of Rosatom is unusual. It is governed by its own legislation, enacted in 2007, roughly translated as “On the State Atomic Corporation Rosatom“.  The Corporation is not a part of the government apparatus and does Kiriyenko--tsarnot report to government either. It has been headed by Sergey Kirienko from the outset, who, in terms of the specially adopted legislation, is appointed by the Russian president and can also be dismissed by him. The president retains wide-ranging powers. For example, by decree various enterprises and organisations can be placed under the auspices of Rosatom and become a property investment of the Russian Federation. While it is separate from the state, its funding is closely tied to the state budget.

More unusually, especially in the context of nuclear energy, its powers cover important aspect of the licensing and control over the activities of entities engaged in development, preparation, experimentation, transport, storage, liquidation and dismantlement of nuclear weapons and military nuclear energy installations. Rosatom also has the responsibility for assuring government control for the safety of nuclear materials transport, for radiological installations, and also for taking measures to warn of nuclear and radiological disasters. It therefore exercises significant oversight functions over its own activities and this function is not monitored by the Russian state either. Instead it operates under its Director General, appointed at the discretion of the Russian president.

This is not an insignificant point: When there is no history of independent nuclear regulators standing at arm’s length to the state, the processes and detailed assessments required to guarantee safety of any future facilities in the country were they are to be built are not necessarily top priority. Nuclear firms from western countries can point to a tradition of independent regulation. Safety is not just about reactor design; the Rosatom reactors  1200 MWe VVER (AES-2006) appear up to standard. Safety in nuclear is about relentless quality control, which is harder when there is no regulatory background, or when there are questionable records on quality control and corruption……

Rosatom’s success in building its book is widely ascribed to the financing terms it is able to offer. This is described in detail in different postings in a fascinating blog run by Aaron Stein who runs the nonproliferation programme at the Centre for Economics and Foreign Policy Studies in Istanbul, where he works on security and proliferation issues in the Middle East. In one posting, he gives a fascinating and detailed history of the efforts to build a (desperately needed) nuclear power plant  at a site known as Akkuyu. The history goes back to the 1980s, when Turkey’s government developed a build-operate-transfer (BOT) financing model for nuclear procurement. This would see the supplying company pay 100 percent of the construction cost, operate the reactor for a specified period of time, and then transfer the operation and ownership to a local firm. The foreign nuclear firm would recoup its expenses through guaranteed electricity sales at a fixed cost.

Eventually in 1996, Stein describes how Turkey tried to open a bidding process, but after intense lobbying by nuclear firms and several missed deadlines, this mismanaged tender process was cancelled in 2001, only to be revived in 2008. Because Turkey insisted on its BOT financing model and the tight construction deadlines imposed, only a Russian-led consortium submitted a bid. The BOT financing model was one of the major reasons for this lack of interest. The problem for Turkey was the price of electricity to be generated from the facility. Eventually, this tender was also cancelled. Rather than pursue a new nuclear tender, Turkey and Russia opted to negotiate bilaterally and came to an agreement for four reactor units at a total cost of $20 billion. …..http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2014-09-25-analysis-why-we-wont-be-getting-any-nuclear-power-plants-from-russia-anytime-soon/#.VCXSO2ddUnl

September 26, 2014 Posted by | politics, Russia | Leave a comment

Ukraine crisis is holding up Russia’s nuclear technology export business

Russian-BearRussia’s Nuclear Energy Ambitions Run Into Trouble Over Ukraine Moscow’s Backing for New Reactors in Several European Countries Fuels Political Tension, WSJ, SEAN CARNEY And  JUHANA ROSSI, 23 Sept 14, 

When it comes to expanding its influence in Europe through energy, Russia has been looking to move beyond natural gas into financing for nuclear-energy projects. But its investment push has become complicated by rising political tensions over the Ukraine crisis.

Several countries along the European Union’s eastern flank have nuclear projects in the works that are intended to help meet the bloc’s climate-policy goals. Funding, however, has become harder to obtain since Germany turned against nuclear power in the wake of Japan’s Fukushima disaster in 2011.

Russia has been seeking to fill the gap in recent months, but is facing more resistance in some places as the EU tightens its economic sanctions on Moscow.

Finland’s government last week came near to breaking up after a conditional permit was granted to a Russian-backed consortium to build a new plant in the country’s northwest that could cost up to €6 billion ($7.7 billion)…….http://online.wsj.com/articles/europe-wrestles-with-russian-nuclear-diplomacy-1411385720

September 24, 2014 Posted by | politics international, Russia | Leave a comment

USA and Russia co-operate in removing Polish high-enriched uranium

US says cooperates with Russia in removing Polish high-enriched uranium, Thomson Reuters Foundation Source: Reuters –  By Fredrik Dahl VIENNA, Sept 22 (Reuters) - The United States said on Monday it had worked with Russia to help remove 50 kg of highly-enriched uranium from Poland as part of a global campaign to reduce the use of nuclear fuel that could also serve as material for bombs.

Washington and Moscow continue to cooperate on a case-by-case basis in areas of mutual nuclear security concern despite a current “substantial strain” in their relations, U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz said………

The U.S.-based Arms Control Association, a research and advocacy group, last year said that HEU spent fuel from converted research reactors in Poland would be returned to Russia by the end of 2016.

In mid-2013, the United States and Russia used another IAEA meeting in Vienna to announce that they had helped ship out nearly 16 kg of HEU from Vietnam.

There are about 1,440 tonnes of HEU and 500 tonnes of plutonium stockpiled and in nuclear arms globally, the Nuclear Security Governance Experts Group (NSGEG), which lobbies for action to ensure that such material does not fall into the wrong hands, said last year.

Most of these stockpiles are under military guard but some for civilian uses is less stringently secured.

Analysts say that radical groups could theoretically build a crude but deadly nuclear weapon if they had the money, technical knowledge and materials needed but that merely obtaining sufficient material for an attack poses a formidable challenge.

A fairly simple-to-design bomb would require about 50-60 kg of HEU, the NSGEG said. More sophisticated devices would requires less material.

A message from U.S. President Barack Obama read by Moniz to the IAEA meeting in Vienna said the United States continued to work successfully with Russia to implement the new START treaty, “decreasing our deployed strategic warheads to the lowest levels in nearly 60 years”.

The pact that was agreed in 2010 caps deployed strategic nuclear warheads, those meant to travel long including intercontinental distances, in Russia and the United States at 1,550 each by 2018, down from the previous ceiling of 2,200. http://www.trust.org/item/20140922165343-gvnzt

September 24, 2014 Posted by | Russia, safety, USA | Leave a comment

In conflict situation in Ukraine, Russia ramps up its nuclear weaponry

Russia successfully tests nuclear missile, more planned: navy chief  MOSCOW Wed Sep 10, 2014 (Reuters) Russia carried out a successful test of its new Bulava intercontinental nuclear missile on Wednesday and will perform two more test launches in October and November, the head of its naval forces said.

The armed forces have boosted their military training and test drills since the start of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, which Russia considers in its traditional sphere of influence…….http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/09/10/us-russia-nuclear-idUSKBN0H519C20140910

September 11, 2014 Posted by | Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Russia to copy USA and get a nuclear pre-emptive strike policy?

Note:  USA already has a pre-emptive nuclear strike policy 

missile-risingRussian General Seeks Nuclear First-Strike Option Against US NEWSMAX,, 04 Sep 2014  By Sean PiccolA Russian defense minister wants his country’s official military doctrine rewritten to allow for a pre-emptive nuclear attack against the United States and NATO, the Russian-language news agency Interfax reports.

Russian Army Gen. Yury Yakubov said the doctrine, last revised in 2010, should be updated to classify the United States and other NATO countries as the “main enemy” of Russia, Interfax reported on Wednesday.Yakubov, who is from the defense ministry’s inspector general’s office, also said it is time “to hash out the conditions under which Russia could carry out a pre-emptive strike with the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces,” according to a translation of the general’s remarks by the English-language Moscow Times.

Russia categorizes its nuclear arsenal as a defensive measure to be used in the event of an imminent attack that threatens the country’s existence, Interfax reported.

Nuclear war talk has crept back into official Russian discourse amid the fighting in Ukraine, where pro-Russia separatists are being armed by Moscow and supported with Russian ground troops.

The United States and the European Union have jointly condemned Russia’s actions in Ukraine and imposed successively harsher economic sanctions. The rhetoric from Moscow has followed suit…….The Russian general’s remarks came ahead of joint military exercises between NATO and Ukrainian forces that are scheduled to begin on Sept. 16 and “likely to further fuel suspicions between Moscow and the West,” the Toronto Globe and Mail reported. http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/Russian-pre-emptive-nuclear-strike/2014/09/04/id/592739/

September 6, 2014 Posted by | politics international, Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Ukraine tensions cause stalling of U.S.-Russia nuclear deal

U.S.-Russia Nuclear Deal Stalls as Tensions Over Ukraine Rise NYT, By  and AUG. 2, 2014 WASHINGTON — The growing confrontation between Washington and Moscow over Ukraine has derailed a recent accord that promised one of the most expansive collaborations ever between the countries’ nuclear scientists, including reciprocal visits to atomic sites to work on projects ranging from energy to planetary defense.

It was only 11 months ago that the American energy secretary — Ernest J. Moniz, a former M.I.T. professor who has championed scientific programs that would bury the Cold War competitions between the United States andRussia — went to Vienna to sign the agreement, an indication of how recently the Obama administration believed it had a chance of building on a quarter-century of gradual integration of Russia with the West.

Handshakes and congratulations exchanged with Mr. Moniz’s Russian counterpart, Sergey V. Kirienko, sealed an arrangement that would let Russian scientists into, among other places, the heart of the American nuclear complex at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, where the first atomic bomb was constructed 70 years ago, and a dozen sister laboratories devoted to the making of the American nuclear arsenal. In return, American scientists would be allowed deep into Russian nuclear facilities, including the birthplace of the Soviet bomb……

Today, the real-life accord is on ice. This year, the Energy Department canceled nuclear meetings, symposia and lab visits with Russia……http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/03/world/europe/us-nuclear-deal-with-russia-fails-as-tensions-rise.html?_r=0

August 4, 2014 Posted by | politics international, Russia, Ukraine, USA | Leave a comment

Russia considers leaving 1987 intermediate range nuclear forces (INF) treaty

Moscow may walk out of nuclear treaty after US accusations of breach http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/29/moscow-russia-violated-cold-war-nuclear-treaty-iskander-r500-missile-test-us

Russia said to be on point of leaving 1987 treaty, after Obama administration said it violated the accord with tests of R-500   in Moscow and   The Guardian, Tuesday 29 July 2014

Russia may be on the point of walking out of a major cold war era arms-control treaty, Russian analysts have said, after President Obama accused Moscow of violating the accord by testing a cruise missile.

There has been evidence at least since 2011 of Russian missile tests in violation of the 1987 intermediate range nuclear forces (INF) treaty, which banned US or Russian ground-launched cruise missiles with a 500 to 5,500-mile (805 to 8,851km) range. But the Obama administration has been hesitant until now of accusing Moscow of a violation in the hope that it could persuade Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, to stop the tests or at least not deploy the weapon in question, known as the Iskander, or R-500.

Washington has also been reticent because of the technical differences in definition of what constitutes the range of a missile under the INF treaty. That ambiguity now seems to have dropped away. According to Pavel Felgenhauer, a defence analyst and columnist for the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, Russia has indeed broken the treaty by testing the R-500 which has a range of more than 1,000km.

“Of course, this is in gross violation of the 1987 treaty, but Russian officials including Putin have said this treaty is unfair and not suitable for Russia,” Felgenhauer said. “The United States doesn’t have [medium-range missiles] but other countries do have them, such as China, Pakistan and Israel, so they say this is unfair and wrong.”

Russian press reports have suggested the missile may even be in deployment, with state news agency RIA Novosti reporting in June that the “Russian army currently uses its Iskander-M and Iskander-K variants.” Felgenhauer said he doesn’t believe the missile has been deployed, although he said it’s entirely possible that Russia will leave the treaty amid tensions with the US.

“The present situation of a new cold war in Europe – and not even cold, at least not in Ukraine right now – it’s a situation in which Russia can abrogate the 1987 treaty, and the possibilities are rather high,” Felgenhauer said.

Russian officials have previously criticised the 1987 treaty, including former defence minister Sergei Ivanov. In 2013, Ivanov, then presidential chief of staff, said of the treaty: “We are fulfilling it, but it can’t last forever.”

  • According to Kremlin-linked analyst Sergei Markov, Russia has a far greater need for medium-range cruise missiles than the |US, because military rivals including China are located near its borders and because Moscow lacks the Americans’ long-range bombing capabilities.”Russia would be happy to leave this agreement, and I think Russia is using the Ukraine crisis to leave the agreement,” Markov said.

    As for Russia’s complaints about US aegis missiles, Felgenhauer said they reflect the genuine belief among Kremlin top brass that the US missile defence has a secret attack capability and poses a threat to Russia.

    “This was a normal Soviet practice that missile interceptors had the in-built capability to be used as an attack missile,” Felgenhauer said.

 

July 30, 2014 Posted by | politics international, Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Russia ramps up marketing nuclear technology to India

Russian-BearIndia and Russia hold major consultation to set up 22 nuclear power projects in India By ET Bureau | 30 Jul, 2014 NEW DELHI: India and Russia held major consultation in the realm of nuclear research away from the public eye ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with President Vladimir Putin in Brazil in July.

Nuclear energy was a key element at Modi-Putin talks. Both countries are discussing to set up Russian assisted 22 nuclear power projects in India.

Last month a scientific forum was held at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR) in the Russian city of Dubna with  ..  http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/39250290.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst

July 30, 2014 Posted by | marketing, Russia | Leave a comment

Serious effects on Europe’s nuclear power if Europe puts sanctions on Russia

exclamation-Smflag-EUSanctions on Russia have potential for nuclear impact, PennEnergy, July 23, 2014  International Digital Editor  Recent events in Ukraine have put Europe’s energy security again under scrutiny, and while there is great concern about the bloc’s vulnerability to Russia retaliating to sanctions by turning of the gas, not as much attention has been paid to the nuclear power aspect.

Russia is highly influential in terms of the EU’s nuclear power capability.

It is an important supplier of the raw material for nuclear fuel, uranium, accounting for 18 per cent of EU supplies.

The BBC reports that 30 per cent of the enrichment work to make uranium suitable for power generation is done by Russian companies.

Meanwhile, many countries within the EU have a significant number of older, Russian-designed nuclear reactors – 18 in all. Finland has two – and all the reactors in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary (who are in deals with Russia to build two more) are Russian-designed.

These states are heavily reliant on their nuclear capacity, with 50 per cent of Slovakia’s electricity and 45 per cent of Hungary’s being accounted for by these plants.The fuel for a reactor also has to be supplied in a form – called a fuel assembly – that meets the specifications of the particular reactor, and for Russian-designed nuclear reactors the fuel comes from a Russian company, TVEL. Anything that disrupts the supply of the fuel assemblies needed for these countries’ reactors would be a serious problem for them. A recent European Commission report argued that, “Ideally, diversification of fuel assembly manufacturing should take place, but this would require some technological efforts because of the different reactor designs.”

Because of the implications to countries’ power sectors and, subsequently, their economies, many are reluctant to back aggressive sanctions against Russia……..http://www.pennenergy.com/articles/pei/2014/07/sanctions-on-russia-have-potential-for-nuclear-impact.html

July 28, 2014 Posted by | EUROPE, politics international, Russia, Ukraine | 1 Comment

Russian firms to star in nuclear materials, nuclear weapons sales festival in London

Russian-Bearflag-UKDiary: Russians selling nuclear weapons expertise in Westminster? What’s not to like? Reception at Westminster Abbey, gala dinner in Kensington, maybe even a night of top-flight football at the Crabble. Business as usual for Alexander, Lyudmila and comrades, you might say 

Will there be a resounding silence in September at the World Nuclear Association symposium and exhibition in Central Hall, Westminster?

The world’s nuclear industries will be strutting their stuff: 700 business and leaders from 30 countries discussing such issues as the fuel cycle front-end (no, me neither), the security of nuclear fuel supplies, financing new builds, and uranium resources. There will be a reception at Westminster Abbey and a gala dinner at the Natural History Museum.

And, to crown it all, a discussion panel. That is due to feature Alexander Lokshin, deputy director general of Rosatom, the organisation that controls Russia’s nuclear weapons companies, research institutes and safety agencies; and Lyudmila Zalimskaya of Tenex, which exports the country’s nuclear materials, such as enriched uranium, and is big in the Emirates and China. So far 34 Russian delegates have booked (last year there were 70), but it’s early days. “We have not been told that they will not be allowed to come,” says an organiser. So, business as usual. Maybe…….http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/jul/24/stephen-bates-diary-tenex-crabble

July 26, 2014 Posted by | marketing, Russia, UK | Leave a comment

Threat of nuclear strike against Ukraine ?

Russia Threatens Nuclear Strikes Over Crimea http://thediplomat.com/2014/07/russia-threatens-nuclear-strikes-over-crimea/ Russian FM Lavrov warned that Russia could resort to nuclear weapons if Ukraine tried to retake Crimea.By Zachary Keck July 11, 2014 A senior Russian official appeared to issue a nuclear threat against Ukraine over Crimea on Wednesday.

In recent weeks, numerous senior level Ukrainian officials have promised to return Crimea to Ukraine despite Russia’s decision to annex it earlier this year. Following his appointment as Ukraine’s new minister of defense, Colonel General Valeriy Heletey promised the parliament in Kiev he would work to retake Crimea from Russia.

“Believe me, there will be a victory parade — there will be for sure — in Ukraine’s Sevastopol,” Heletey said, referring to the capital city of Crimea. At the same hearing, Heletey pledged he “will work day and night for restoring the military capability of our armed forces.” Similar pledges have been made by Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko, who has promised to oversee the “revival of the army,” as well as Ukraine Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin.

When asked about these comments at a press conference on Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov responded, “If it comes to aggression against Russian territory, which Crimea and Sevastopol are parts of, I would not advise anyone to do this.” He then added, “We have the doctrine of national security, and it very clearly regulates the actions, which will be taken in this case.”

This is a not-so-subtle threat to use nuclear weapons to retain Crimea. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia’s conventional military capabilities have deteriorated significantly. As a result, it has come to be increasingly reliant on nuclear weapons to protect its national security. This has been reflected in its post-Cold War military doctrines, particularly the ones since 2000. These military doctrines have greatly reduced the threshold that would needed to be crossed before Russia would resort to the use of nuclear weapons.

Most notably, Russia’s military doctrines starting in 2000 introduced the concept of de-escalation, which is “a strategy envisioning the threat of a limited nuclear strike that would force an opponent to accept a return to the status quo ante.” In other words, Russian military doctrines have said that Moscow will use limited nuclear strikes in response to conventional military attacks against it. The most recent military doctrine issued in 2010, for example, states:

“The Russian Federation reserves the right to utilize nuclear weapons in response to the utilization of nuclear and other types of weapons of mass destruction against it and (or) its allies, and also in the event of aggression against the Russian Federation involving the use of conventional weapons when the very existence of the state is under threat.”

It was this military doctrine that Lavrov was referring to at the press conference this week. As quoted above, Lavrov began by emphasizing that Moscow sees Crimea as an integral part of Russian territory. He then stated that Moscow has a military doctrine that “very clearly” outlines how Moscow would respond to threats to its territorial integrity. The military doctrine “very clearly” states that the “Russian Federation reserves the right to utilize nuclear weapons” in these situations. This is not the first time a Russian official has issued a nuclear threat against its neighboring states. For example, as tensions rose between Russian and several former Soviet Union and Warsaw states in 2011, General Staff Chief Gen. Nikolai Makarov warned a Russian legislative body that:

“The possibility of local armed conflicts virtually along the entire perimeter of the border has grown dramatically. I cannot rule out that, in certain circumstances, local and regional armed conflicts could grow into a large-scale war, possibly even with nuclear weapons.”

To enhance the credibility of its threat to use nuclear weapons, Russia’s armed forces have conducted regular military drills since 2000 in which a limited nuclear strike is simulated. These drills have become increasinglycommon since the Ukraine crisis began. In some cases, Vladimir Putin has ordered snap drills simulating nuclear strikes.

July 12, 2014 Posted by | Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Russia’s huge nuclear waste dumps in Arctic seas

wastes-1Russia announces enormous finds of radioactive waste and nuclear reactors in Arctic seas August 28, 2012 by  Enormous quantities of decommissioned Russian nuclear reactors and radioactive waste were dumped into the Kara Sea in the Arctic Ocean north of Siberia over a course of decades, according to documents given to Norwegian officials by Russian authorities and published in Norwegian media. “…..The catalogue of waste dumped at sea by the Soviets, according to documents seen by Bellona, and which were today released by the Norwegian daily Aftenposten, includes some 17,000 containers of radioactive waste, 19 ships containing radioactive waste, 14 nuclear reactors, including five that still contain spent nuclear fuel; 735 other pieces of radiactively contaminated heavy machinery, and the K-27 nuclear submarine with its two reactors loaded with nuclear fuel.

Bellona’s two decades on the case

“Bellona has worked with this issue since 1992 when we first revealed the dangerous nuclear waste laying at the bottom of the Kara Sea,” said Bellona President Frederic Hauge.

He acknowledged, however, that a precise accounting from the Russian side could hardly be expected given Russia’s own ignorance of the extent of the dumped radioactive waste………

Making way for oil exploration

Bellona’s Igor Kurdrik, an expert on Russian naval nuclear waste, said that, “We know that the Russians have an interest in oil exploration in this area. They therefore want to know were the radioactive waste is so they can clean it up before they beging oil recovery operations.” He cautiously praised the openness of the Russian report given to Norway and that Norway would be taking part in the waste charting expedition.

Bellona thinks that Russia has passed its report to Norway as a veiled cry for help, as the exent of the problem is far too great for Moscow to handle on its own.

The most crucial find missing

Kudrik said that one of the most critical pieces of information missing from the report released to the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority was the presence of the K-27 nuclear submarine, which was scuttled in 50 meters of water with its two reactors filled with spent nuclear fuel in in Stepovogo Bay in the Kara Sea in 1981.

Information that the reactors about the K-27 could reachieve criticality and explode was released at the Bellona-Rosatom seminar in February…….http://bellona.org/news/uncategorized/2012-08-russia-announces-enormous-finds-of-radioactive-waste-and-nuclear-reactors-in-arctic-seas

 

July 2, 2014 Posted by | OCEANIA, Russia, wastes | Leave a comment

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