SENIOR EXECUTIVE INTELLIGENCE BRIEF

Created: 5/4/1999

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Russia: Mikhaylov Pressing for Hydronuclear Experiments

Days before the Security Council meeting last week. First Deputy Minister for Atomic Energy Mikhaylov published an article justifying hydronuclear experiments, which he said release "practically no" radiation. While emphasizing the safety benefits of such tests, he noted that none of the nuclear powers rejects the improvement of nuclear weapons or the development of qualitatively new types,

Commenting on tbe US insistencezero-yield" interpretation of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaiy, Mikhaylov argued that determining the scope of permitted activities is not simple and that only "professionals" can address it correctly.

He said even US specialists now speak of the needbroader interpretation" of permitted activities. i-

In addition, Mikhaylov supported his argument for hydronuclear experiments by saying that, because the US reserves the right to renew underground nuclear tests if necessary for maintaining confidence in stockpiles of nuclear weapons, Russia should proceed from the same principle. He asserted that nuclear proliferators would not be able lo validate weapons designs based on hydronuclear experiments alone, and ibe established nuclear powers could use such exrwriments lo help improve the reliability of their nuclear arsenals.

countries, he said, would gain from this practice because it would reduce the risk of nuclear accidents.

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Council Adopts Nuclear Weapons Plans

Analytic Perspective

President Yei'tsinession of the Russian Security Council last Thursday signed two decrees on Ihc development and use of nuclear weapons, according to Russian press reports. Security Council Secretary Putin emphasized to journalists that the weapons covered by these decrees include tactical nuclear weapons,

Putin said Yei'tsinhird top secret document but refused to disclose its nature.

Putin said the scheduled meeting was unrelated to events in the Btilkarvt,ecurity Council staffereporter that recent changes tn NATOa reference to the NATO Strategiccombat operations against the FRY "did not go unnoticed, i

Russian press reports have speculated that thecontents have not been madea fast-use nuclear strike posicrc renege on Moscow's unilateral pledge1 to eliminate the Ground Forces' tactical nuclear capability, and direct the redeployment of nuclear weaponsorder areas and Belarus.

The last of these speculations appears unfounded^T

inimum, the decrees pointore robust tactical nuclear arsenal, suggesting Moscow is moving away from relying almost solely on strategic weapons for deterrence. Several Russian civilian defense experts have said Russia's tactical nuclear stockpile is becoming obsolete and will soon disappear.!

Concern About Ability To Teat

rutin said tbe Council discussed problems in the area of nuclear weapons testing. He asserted that Russia was first among the nuclear powers to slop testing and risks being ieit behind if it does doc develop "such technologies as would enable us to hold nuclear tests" without violating treatyith which be said Russia "will unfailingly comply.'"

Russian experts nave said the superior computing power of Western nuclear laboratories gives the West the ability to substitute simulations for nuclear testingegree impossible for Russia.

Authorities mcluding First Deputy Minister for Atomic Energy Mikhaylov have said Russia is lookingange ofincludingthey say would allow them to continue warhead design and maintenance research within me limits of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty]

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