Nuclear News

August 11th, 2004 - by admin

Kyodo News Service, Albuquerque Tribune, Yomiyuri Shimbun – 2004-08-11 10:31:49

Russia’s Nuke Tests Anger Hiroshima, Nagasaki
Kyodo News

(August 11, 2004) — The Hiroshima and Nagasaki mayors expressed anger Wednesday over Russia’s reported subcritical nuclear tests.

”I feel strong anger,” Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba said in a written message to Russian President Vladimir Putin. ”If the report is true, it will betray the wish of atomic bomb victims and others around the world hoping for the elimination of nuclear weapons.”

The protest followed a report on Wednesday by Russia’s Itar-Tass news agency that Alexander Rumyantsev, the country’s atomic energy minister, said Monday that Russia has conducted subcritical tests on several occasions this year.

Nagasaki Mayor Itcho Ito said in a released comment, ”It seems Russia is showing off its possession of nuclear weapons and this tramples down the wish (for termination of nuclear arms) of Nagasaki citizens as well as people around the world.” He added, ”I feel strong anger.”

Akiba warned that Russia’s behavior would hamper international efforts for nuclear disarmament and eventual abolition of nuclear weapons under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, while Ito reiterated his demand that every type of nuclear test should be suspended.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki marked their 59th anniversaries last Friday and Monday, respectively, of the 1945 U.S. atomic bombings.

Russian Ambassador to Japan Alexander Losyukov attended the memorial service held by the Hiroshima city government together with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and other political leaders. Losyukov offered his condolences to A-bomb victims.

The United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on Aug. 6 and 9, 1945, respectively, in the closing days of World War II.

Labs’ Testing Capability Is Flawed
Sue Vorenberg / Albuquerque Tribune

The United States might have a problem if it wants to restart its nuclear testing programs, according to the Department of Energy’s Inspector General’s Office.

Congress wants the department to be able to restart nuclear testing in an 18 month timeframe, should the need arise. But the Inspector General’s Office found several problems and time gaps in plans to do that.

An Aug. 3 report from the office said the National Nuclear Security Administration, charged with planning for the tests, had fallen significantly behind on deadlines to restore that ability by September 2005.

“While we noted examples of schedule slippages that could potentially impact the program, we were unable to determine whether NNSA was on track to meet its Enhanced Test Readiness goal,” assistant inspector general Rickey Hass said in a memo.

The Department of Energy stopped all underground nuclear testing in 1992 as part of a national moratorium on the practice. When it stopped, Congress mandated the administration should be able to resume the department testing programs, should the need arise, in a 24- to 36-month timeframe.

In 2002 Congress decided to reduce the timeframe to 18 months as part of the Enhanced Test Readiness Program. The program costs an estimated $30 million a year over three years, but might not be finished by the deadline, the report said.

Both Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories are involved in the testing activities and programs.

In response, Michael Kane, NNSA associate administrator for management and administration, said most of the problems were caused by funding delays which shut down planning for six months. He said the administration has caught up in several areas since the audit was performed.

The delays were not related to any of the recent classified materials shutdowns at Los Alamos or Sandia, said John German, a Sandia spokesman.

The two labs have continued programs for U.S. nuclear stockpile stewardship after the 1992 nuclear test ban, but moved the bulk of their testing to modeling and simulations on supercomputers.

Their programs predict the status of the U.S. stockpile of nuclear weapons as they age. They are designed to make sure the weapons still work.

Even though the computer models help, underground nuclear testing is still the best way to assure those materials actually do what scientists think they will do, experts at both labs have said.

Should an emergency arise, the United States might need to resume underground testing to get a better handle on the stockpile, but it remains to be seen whether the administration can meet Congress’ mandate to resume those operations in a timely fashion, Hass’ memo said.

His report said organizations involved in testing hadn’t finished key work in three areas as part of its readiness program.

The groups – including Los Alamos and Sandia – have not finished preparing documents to assure protection of workers, the public and environment; trained all workers needed to perform underground tests; and prepared and maintained test materials or equipment, the report said.

“Los Alamos National Laboratory and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory delayed the completion of a conceptual study on a diagnostic capability,” the report added.

That study, which would identify facilities and equipment needed in the tests, is six months behind schedule, the report said.

Kane added the administration has already fixed most of the problems found in the report.

To help meet the deadline, the administration will provide DOE with an updated annual program plan, provide monthly updates, continue to refine plans, develop a risk management program and provide a detailed work breakdown structure, Kane said.

Push for CTBT Ratification in September
Yomiuri Shimbun

Japan and other nations that have ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) plan to hold a foreign ministers meeting in New York in late September in a bid to facilitate the early entry into force of the treaty, government sources said Monday.

The government organized a similar meeting of foreign ministers, the first of its kind, jointly with Australia and the Netherlands in September 2002.

But there has been no prospect of the treaty coming into effect since then, leading the government to conclude it would be necessary to urge–on a political level–those countries that have not signed or ratified the treaty to do so, the sources said.

The government plans to hold the meeting to coincide with the time general speeches are given at the U.N. General Assembly, which will start on Sept. 21, the sources said.

Tokyo also plans to announce a joint declaration with other nations that stipulates the need to persuade more countries to ratify the treaty, and to establish an inspection system that would assure they comply with it, the sources said.

According to the sources, countries such as Finland and those that organized the first meeting have expressed interest in jointly holding the September meeting.

The government expects more than 18 nations will participate in the meeting, the sources said.

The CTBT, adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in September 1996, stipulates that it will come into effect when ratified by 44 nuclear powers or nations with the capability to develop nuclear weapons.

Only 32 such nations, including Japan, have ratified the treaty so far.

At the meeting, the government plans to declare its intention to urge nonratifying Asian nations among the 44, including Indonesia and Vietnam, to ratify the treaty, the sources said.

Of the 44, nine countries, including the United States and China, have signed but not yet ratified the treaty.

North Korea, Pakistan and India have not signed it.