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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 40, September - October 1999

US Energy Secretary Visit to Moscow


"Richardson Advances US-Russia Partnership", US Energy Department Press Release R-99-270, October 2, 1999.

"As he concluded his trip to Russia [29 September - 2 October], US Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson today stressed the importance of the relationship between the United States and Russia and said he wants to expand joint efforts to prevent the theft of nuclear weapons materials. Richardson's Russian counterpart Yevgeniy Adamov, Minister of Atomic Energy joined him at some of the stops of the four cities he visited. ...

Stopping the Spread of Nuclear Weapons and Materials

Richardson toured a storage site in Murmansk which houses Russian nuclear naval vessels' fuel that had been vulnerable to attack. He saw first-hand an upgraded security system to protect nuclear fuel developed under the Material Protection Control and Accounting Program. Fresh nuclear fuel used by the Russian Northern Fleet will be consolidated at the site so it can be secured against insider and outsider theft.

Reducing the Nuclear Arsenal

Reviewing novel techniques for disposal of excess weapons-grade plutonium highlighted Richardson's trip to the Research Institute for Atomic Reactors (RIAR) in Dmitrovgrad. The Department of Energy (DOE) provided support for the work, which accelerates the disposal of plutonium. RIAR has recently upgraded security at its storage vaults and computer tracking capability of nuclear materials on-site.

Employment Transition for Nuclear Scientists

Visiting the closed and formerly secret 'nuclear city' of Sarov, Richardson turned his attention to the need to help former highly-skilled nuclear scientists transfer their skills to non-nuclear weapons enterprises. The Sarov Open Computing Center will help match the superb technical skills of the scientists with the worldwide demand for computer software programming and modeling and computer-assisted engineering and design.

Also in Sarov, Richardson announced that the closed nuclear cities of Sarov, Snezhinsk and Zheleznogorsk will benefit from a partnership with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The partnership will help create commercial jobs and non-weapons industries within the nuclear cities through the bank's highly successful Small Business Loan Program.

Promoting Nuclear Safety and Security

Through a live interactive link with the DOE headquarters' Emergency Operations Center, Richardson opened the MinAtom Situation and Crisis Center in Moscow. The real-time MinAtom Center will allow experts from both countries to have direct communication in times of nuclear or environmental emergency such as nuclear accidents, the accidental release of radioactive materials or the theft or diversion of nuclear materials.

Drawing on extensive experience and expertise and signaling a growing trust, cooperation and respect between their countries, Richardson joined Adomov in immediately extending an offer of assistance for the Tokaimura, Japan nuclear accident. ...".

US-Russia Crisis Centre

"Richardson, Adamov Open First Crisis Situation Video Link Between Nuclear Agencies", US Energy Department Press Release R-99-268, October 2, 1999.

"United States Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson and Russia's Minister of Atomic Energy Yevgeniy Adamov today dedicated the Russian nuclear agency's first Situation Crisis Center.

It is linked by voice and video to the Department of Energy (DOE) Washington, D.C. headquarters' Emergency Operations Center. The Moscow Situation Crisis Center (SCC) will allow enhanced real-time international communication between the US and Russia in times of nuclear or environmental emergency such as nuclear accidents, the accidental release of radioactive materials or the theft or diversion of nuclear materials. It is equipped with DOE's own unclassified Emergency Communications Network System.

"This unique and historic partnership is already working," Secretary Richardson said. "Just this week we combined our areas of expertise and offered information assistance to the government of Japan. It also will allow us to have a swift and coordinated response in the event that radioactive materials fall into the wrong hands".

To emphasize their commitment to a safer nuclear world, Richardson and Adamov also signed two nonproliferation agreements at the ceremony - one to strengthen the Nuclear Cities Initiative, providing civilian jobs to downsized Russian nuclear scientists and engineers, and the other to secure nuclear materials through DOE's Material Protection, Control and Accounting (MPC&A) Program.

The Crisis Center will be used to communicate information to the US and Russia in the event of nuclear and environmental emergencies. It will provide the Ministry of Atomic Energy (MinAtom) and its Emergency Management Commission with information about public health and safety, buildings safety, nuclear material control and accounting, emergency preparedness, early warning of nuclear or environmental accidents, and measures to deal with accidents. The center will provide radiation and technological monitoring during emergency situations, and analyze financial and economic repercussions of any accident.

DOE began work on the video and telecommunications link in March, 1999 when Secretary Richardson and Minister Adamov signed the Report of the Nuclear Committee Meeting of the US-Russian Joint Commission on Economic and Technological Cooperation. They agreed to establish an emergency center working and assistance relationship, provide DOE assistance with technology implementation and engineering of the Situation Crisis Center and its planned future expansion within Russia, and provide MinAtom with DOE emergency management training and exercise assistance.

The Crisis Center will also be responsible for a new system managing the use of nuclear energy that requires prompt analysis of a large amount of diverse information".

© 1999 The Acronym Institute.

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