LIQUIDATION OF MASS DESTRUCTION WEAPONS IN RUSSIA REQUIRES A GREAT DEAL OF MONEY

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Ratification of the START-2 and comprehensive nuclear weapons test ban by the Duma has shed new light on the problem of discarding weapons of mass destruction. It is sufficient to say that the START-2 makes provisions for reducing the total quantity of nuclear charges at deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-based ballistics missiles, and missiles carried by heavy bombers to 3,000-3,500 by December 31, 2002, complete liquidation of MIRV intercontinental ballistic missiles, and reduction of quantity of nuclear charges of the submarine-based missiles to 1,700-1,750. That is, within the next few years, Russia will have to destroy (recycle) a few hundreds of missiles and about 3,000 nuclear warheads.

Meanwhile, according to the estimates of the Defense Ministry, economic circumstances will not allow Russia to maintain 3,000-3,500 nuclear charges at the level specified by the START-2 after 2005. That is why, according to the military, it is necessary to start preparation of the START-3 immediately and reduce the total quantity of nuclear charges to 1,500. Thus, Russia will have to discard at least 4,000-4,500 warheads.

Discarding of every intercontinental ballistic missile costs at least $1 million. Recycling of nuclear charges is another clause of expenditures, which also requires a great deal of money and lots of resources. The US is ready to buy highly enriched uranium from Russia and process it into depleted form. From this operation, the Atomic Energy Ministry annually receives about $400 million of profit. At any rate, this sum somehow has not been spent on the further discarding of mass destruction weapons, but is being used to achieve other goals of the state.

Discarded nuclear submarines also create serious environmental and social-economic problems. The Northern and Pacific Fleets annually generate about 18,000-20,000 cubic meters of liquid wastes and 6,000-7,000 cubic meters of solid nuclear wastes. The storage facilities for solid wastes, which were built in 1960-1962, are still in use, but are practically filled up. Liquid wastes are also being recycled, but in insufficient quantities.

The Navy has discarded at least 150 nuclear submarines (over 90 of then in the Northern Fleet). However, the spent nuclear fuel is unloaded only from a half of these submarines. According to experts, to solve the problem of radiation safety of old submarines in the Northern and Pacific fleets, it is necessary to spend $1-1.5 billion. Even given such spending, the priority job will take about ten years and the further recovery of the regions of submarines’ deployment will take a few years more. The overall program of nuclear submarines’ discarding costs about $7-8 billion.

Russia has not started liquidating chemical weapons yet. The program of its destruction is lagging four years behind schedule. According to official information, the Russia’s chemical weapons inventory totals about 40,000 tons, that is, almost 50% of the whole world arsenal.

According to Colonel General Stanislav Petrov, the Commander of Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Defense Forces of the Defense Ministry, since 1993, 1.6 billion rubles in current prices were assigned for the liquidation of chemical weapons, which accounts for 1.4% of the overall cost of the whole program, or for 43% of the cost of construction of the first part of the plant for chemical weapons recycling in Gorny settlement in the Saratov Region. Petrov added that such a tendency would continue in 2000. He noted that instead of 10.5 billion rubles, which is stipulated by the program, the budget assignments for these purposes amount only to 0.5 billion rubles.

According to Petrov, to improve the situation, it was necessary to focus all efforts on construction of the plants for discarding chemical weapons in the Gorny settlement in the Saratov Region (it is ready by 50%) and Shchuchye settlement in the Kurgan Region (it is only planned). Besides, according to Petrov, it is necessary to increase the budget spending, allocating about 6 billion rubles in 2001 and 13 billion rubles in 2002 and 2003 each, and about 12 billion rubles in 2004. Between 2005 and 2013, the annual spending on this program could total 6-7 billion rubles in current prices.

By and large, according to military experts, implementation of the START-2, discarding of nuclear submarines and mass destruction weapons will cost several billion dollars. Russia does not have such money. For instance, the whole military budget of Russia for 2000 equals only about $5 billion. Just compare: since 1992, the US government spent at least $9 billion on aid to Russia, that is, not less than two military budgets of our country, or 12.5% annually.

The military budget for 2000 is classified, but a simple analysis of open information about the mass destruction weapons’ problems in Russia shows that spending on discarding of chemical and nuclear weapons is insignificant. Thus, according to the report of the National Research Center of the US Academy of Sciences, over the last three years, the nuclear materials safety situation in Russia worsened and the persistent financial-economic crisis has aggravated this situation further. Due to this, the center concluded that the US Department of Energy needed to raise its aid to Russia for non-proliferation of fissible materials, establishment of reliable systems for their calculation, control, storage, and physical protection.

According to American experts, at present, at 400 objects in Russia, there are 75 tons of plutonium and 600 tons of highly enriched uranium, suitable for nuclear weapons production. Moscow and Washington have agreed to gradually reduce the quantity of available excessive radioactive materials, but this process might take many years. So far the Russian government lacks the money for the provision of safe and reliable storage of radioactive materials and prevention of their leakage and smuggling to the third countries. To prevent such incidents, the US Administration proposed the so-called “broadened initiative for contribution to weakening of threat.”

Within the framework of this initiative, in April, President Bill Clinton proposed that Congress raise expenditures on the programs of cooperation with Russia and the other former soviet republics in the field of armament reduction and non-proliferation of nuclear materials and technologies to almost $1 billion in the 2001 fiscal year. Clinton plans to assign $4.52 billion within five years to Russia and other CIS countries. American budget for 2000 allocates $889 million for this purpose. According to the US Administration, in the new fiscal year, starting from October 1, the Department of Defense will receive approximately 50% of $974 million requested within the framework of the initiative. Pentagon will spend $469 million mainly on the well-known Nann-Lugar program, which was prepared to assist Russia to dismantle its strategic armament, subject to liquidation under the START-1 and liquidate its chemical weapons.

The Energy and State departments, two other American agencies taking part in the initiative’s implementation, plan to spend $364 million and $141 million respectively. The Department of Energy cooperates with Russian Atomic Energy Ministry in the provision of protection and registration of nuclear materials, the recycling of excessive weapon grade plutonium and uranium, the conversion of military production facilities in Russian “military cities” and improvement of nuclear power stations’ safety.

In turn, the Department of State provides financial and technical assistance to the Center of Science and Technologies in Moscow, which gives temporary jobs to specialists from CIS countries, who formerly worked for defense enterprises. A separate program of the Department of State is aimed at the provision of assistance to withdrawal of Russian forces and weapons from Georgia and Trans-Dniester region of Moldova.

Thus, no matter whether Moscow wants it or not, its disarmament initiatives will be mainly paid for by American taxpayers. The American population is not very happy about such prospects, but the public understands that during the cold war much more, about $4.5 trillion, was spent on armament. Hence, the US obviously considers the strengthening of security in the world and in Russia to be its priority. Of course, American aid does not always meet Russia’s interests, but Russia is too weak yet to give up such aid.

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