What was new on START Web site?

August, 2000

August 28, 2000
Russian nuclear submarine accident became a major news for the period of last two weeks. Press continues discussing possible reasons for "Kursk" sinking. There are still many questions and controversial points in official information about the accident, which creates a wide area for speculations. Eugene Miasnikov, START Web Site editor, said in an interview to Bergens Tidende, that existing facts suggest, that the accident began in fact on Friday, August 11, when the submarine sank for some unidentified reasons, and explosions, detected in Norway the next day, became the final of the tragedy ("Kursk" probably had an accident Friday, by Inge Sellevag, Bergens Tidende, August 23, 2000). Various versions of the accident are also discussed by experts:

Pictures Taken By Norwegian Ministry of Defense, August 14-th, 3000.

Eugene Miasnikov's version is also supported by the fact, that the Norwegian research vessel "Marjata" who was present 15 nautical miles from the place "Kursk" went down observed a rescue operation taking place midday Saturday. See also the pictures taken by "Marjata" on Monday, August 14-th.

"Kursk" accident emphasizes the importance of limiting covert antisubmarine activity near submarine bases:

See also our special section on submarine collisions.

Preparations for salvage of "Kursk" is going to take years and it will require participation of other countries as well. Officials and experts state that there is no danger for radiation pollution of the Barents Sea, however environmentalists already raise alarms:

Rescue operation of "Kursk" clearly demonstrated the fact that the search and rescue service of the Russian Navy did not have appropriate technical means. However, this was not surprise at all for experts. Attached articles give some retrospective and explain existing capabilities to rescue a submarine and its crew (all papers are in Russian).

Official data on the damage to the submarine
The detailed updates on "Kursk" accident were published by Komsomol'skaya Pravda, Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Izvestiya, Moskovskii Komsomolets, Novaya Gazeta and Russia Today. See also materials at the FAS and Center for Non-proliferation Studies web sites.

The accident with "Kursk" raises concerns about security of the Russian nuclear arsenal. President Vladimir Putin ordered higher pay on Friday for workers in Russia's struggling nuclear sector in his latest handout to the military since the Kursk submarine disaster.

Press media continue discussing consequences of the Security Council decision on reforming the Armed Forces

A long lost U.S. nuclear bomb probably lies on the seabed off Greenland near Thule air base

Commander of the Vladimir missile army Lieutenant-General Yuri Kirillov tells about problems of the military man: Russia Stands On Those People, (by Aleksander Dolinin, Krasnaya Zvezda, August 16, 2000)

Elimination of Russian solid fuel ICBMs is becoming problematic: A Pause for the Terminator, (by Oleg Getmanenko and Dmitri Safronov, Novyye Izvestiya, August 26, 2000, p. 5)

Toward the 50-th anniversary of Zheleznogorsk (Krasnoyarsk-26): The Place, Where Nuclear Bombs Are Born, (by Lyubov Rak, Trud, August 16, 2000)

August 12, 2000
The Russian Security Council meeting on military reform lasted for four hours and ended Friday late afternoon. In the beginning of the meeting President Vladimir Putin told he wanted to draw a line under a damaging dispute over military reforms that could change the face of Russias armed forces and nuclear arsenal. However, no details on retirement of mobile missiles, creation of new weapons or shifts in resources were mentioned publicly. Experts assume, that the the decisions were more favorable to the Head of General Staff Anatoli Kvashnin rather than to Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev, though the latter vindicated inadmissibility of sharp quick reductions of the Strategic Rocket Forces.

Before the Security Council meeting experts widely discussed possible outcomes: Director of the US and Canada Institute Sergey Rogov argues on future of nuclear deterrence, prospects for further strategic arms reductions and ABM Treaty: Counting On A Nuclear Shield, - in Russian, (Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye, N 28, August 4-10, 2000)

A highly classified intelligence report warns that deploying an American national missile defense could prompt China to expand its nuclear arsenal tenfold and lead Russia to place multiple warheads on ballistic missiles that now carry only one:

Responding to a congressional mandate, the Clinton administration promised to have a limited anti-missile system ready by 2005, when North Korea could be able to launch warheads at the American heartland, according to U.S. estimates. Until now the Pentagon has insisted that meeting the deadline was feasible, though a "high risk" proposition. Top officials are now warning for the first time that it may be impossible to get the system ready in time:

It's the most contentious national security debate since the Cold War: whether or not to build a $60 billion missile defense system involving technologies so sophisticated that some haven't even been invented. For two key players in the debate - outspoken Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Ted Postol and White House Chief of Staff John Podesta - it's also an exercise that has degenerated into name-calling. ''I must say that the overall impression you leave from your correspondence,'' said Podesta in a handwritten response last week to Postol's drubbing of the administration's antimissile plan, ''is that your brilliance is only exceeded by your arrogance.'' Insulted, Postol fired right back with sarcasm: ''I do not rule out that I could be wrong - I am not so arrogant to deny that possibility - and that there is some subtle point of basic science ... known only to you and your advisors, but not to Nobel laureates.''

"...One day top Russian officials suggest that modest changes in the ABM Treaty can be negotiated to enable deployment of a very limited system; on another different officials insist that the treaty is non-negotiable; and on a third President Putin himself proposes a program of joint, cooperative missile defense with Europe and the United States. It all smacks of tactical maneuvering in the absence of a strategic vision about where Putin wants to go..." (What's Putin Up to on NMD?, by Ivo H. Daalder and James M. Goldgeier, Brookings Institution, July 28, 2000)

Analysts comment on recommendation of British parliamentary committee to the UK government to persuade the U.S. refraining with NMD deployment:

See also:

A meeting of Minatom, Ministry of Emergency Situations, the State Nuclear Inspectorate and Russian Academy of Sciences representatives in Ozyorsk concluded to stop burial in Karachay lake and begin its backing: A Report With A Dosimeter. The Lake Of Death, - in Russian, (by Iolanta Kachayeva, Trud, August 11, 2000)

At the Russian START Forum: tritium in nuclear warheads, discussion of Nikolay Sokov's article on evolution of Russian strategic forces, alternatives for the SRF development and other issues.

August 3, 2000
The paper by Anatoli Diakov, Timur Kadyshev and Pavel Podvig Current Nuclear Balance and National Security, (The PIR Study Papers , N 14, May, 2000) is now available on-line (in Russian).

President Putin had sacked a group of generals allied with Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev, reportedly strengthening the hand of the ministers bitter rival, General Anatoly Kvashnin. Military analysts see the move as a pretext to ditch both and name a civilian to run the Defense Ministry:

Colonel-General Nikolay Solovtsov, the Head of the Strategic Rocket Forces Military Academy comments on Kvashnin's plan to reform military forces: Missile Crises, - in Russian, (Sovyetskaya Rossiya, July 22, 2000)

A British parliamentary committee Wednesday expressed serious concerns about U.S. plans to build a National Missile Defense and said Washington ''cannot necessarily assume unqualified cooperation'' from its closest ally.

See also:

Russian Foreign Ministry made a statement in relation with U.S. preparations to deploy B-2 strategic bombers in the U.K. (in Russian). See also: "Spirits" Will Fly To England, - in Russian, (by Gennadi Nechayev, Vesti.Ru, August 1, 2000)

The Canadian government plans to fly in a small test amount of Russian plutonium to burn in a nuclear reactor, with the goal of eventually helping Russia with its disarmament program: Canada to Aid Disarmament By Burning MOX Plutonium, (by By Randall Palmer, The Moscow Times, August 1, 2000)

At the Russian START Forum: effectiveness of the air leg of the Russian nuclear forces and alternatives of the SRF development.

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