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  • Author: David Nusbaum
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Nuclear research reactors are used in many countries for many different purposes. Most of the reactors are used for research (mainly in physics), training for nuclear operators and engineers, materials testing in radiation conditions, or the production of radioiso¬topes for medicine and industry. Some countries, like Iran, are building new reactors ostensibly to fill these needs. Many of these reactors operate with highly enriched uranium (HEU) nuclear fuel — in most cases, enriched to around 90 percent, the same as fuel for nuclear weapons. The production and fabrication of HEU fuel, and the handling, transport, and storage of both fresh and spent fuel containing HEU entails considerable proliferation, security, and safety risks as well as very high costs. The global stockpile of highly enriched uranium was about 1500 tons in 2012, which was enough for more than 60,000 simple, first gen¬eration implosion weapons. About 98 percent of this material is held by the nuclear weapon states, with the largest HEU stockpiles in Russia and the United States.
  • Topic: Security, Education, Energy Policy, Health, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Iran
  • Author: Andrei A. Kokoshin
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: In this discussion paper Andrei Kokoshin, member of the Russian Academy of Sciences and sixth secretary of the Russian Security Council, offers a concise discussion of the essence of the most dangerous nuclear crisis in the history of humankind.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, International Relations, Security, Defense Policy, Cold War, Nuclear Weapons, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Daniel W. Drezner
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: China has challenged the United States on multiple policy fronts since the beginning of 2009. On the security dimension, Chinese ships have engaged in multiple skirmishes with U.S. surveillance vessels in an effort to hinder American efforts to collect naval intelligence. China has also pressed the United States on the economic policy front. Prime Minister Wen Jiabao told reporters that he was concerned about China's investments in the United States: “We have lent a huge amount of money to the U.S. Of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets. To be honest, I am definitely a little worried.” The head of the People's Bank of China, Zhou Xiaochuan, followed up with a white paper suggesting a shift away from the dollar as the world's reserve currency. China's government has issued repeated calls for a greater voice in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank. To bolster this call, Beijing helped to organize a summit of the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, and China (BRIC) to better articulate this message.
  • Topic: Security, Debt, Government, Intelligence
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, China, India, Brazil
  • Author: Vladimir Dvorkin
  • Publication Date: 04-2004
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: In the first paragraphs of their declaration at the Evian Summit in early June 2003, the G8 leaders stated, .We recognize that proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their means of delivery poses a growing danger to us all. Together with the spread of international terrorism, it is the pre-eminent threat to international security.
  • Topic: Security, Arms Control and Proliferation, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Bruno Coppieters, Tamara Kovziridze, Uwe Leonardy
  • Publication Date: 10-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Since its declaration of independence on April 1991, Georgia's sovereignty has been challenged by civil war and by secession attempts on the part of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Negotiations on the reintegration of these two entities through federalization have failed. The Russian Federation, the United Nations (UN), and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation (OSCE) in Europe were involved in a series of negotiations on a federal division of powers between Georgia, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia, but these negotiations did not achieve practical results. The positions between the Georgian government and the Abkhaz authorities concerning the status of Abkhazia have been moving even further apart.
  • Topic: Security, Politics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Central Asia, Georgia, South Ossetia, Abkhazia
  • Author: Simon Saradzhyan
  • Publication Date: 03-2003
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: The likelihood of a catastrophic terrorist attack against Russia is growing, as radical separatists in troubled Chechnya increasingly become more desperate, and security at many of Russia's civil nuclear facilities remains insufficient. They have already demonstrated their capability and willingness to inflict massive indiscriminate casualties by organizing an apartment bombing in the southern Russian city of Buinaksk. They have acquired radioactive materials, threatened to attack Russia's nuclear facilities, plotted to hijack a nuclear submarine, and have attempted to put pressure on the Russian leadership by planting a container with radioactive materials in Moscow and threatening to detonate it. These incidents occurred between 1994 and 1996, during Russia's first military campaign in Chechnya at a time when separatists were so overwhelmed and outmanned they believed that acts of terrorism employing nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) materials—if not weapons of mass destruction (WMD)—could be the only way to force Russian troops to retreat from Chechnya.
  • Topic: Security, Nuclear Weapons, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Lynne Kiesling, Joseph Becker
  • Publication Date: 05-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Recent changes in Russia's domestic oil industry have had dramatic effects on world oil markets, including Russia's emergence as the number two exporter of oil after Saudi Arabia. These effects are occurring even though Russia is not close to fully exploiting its reserves. Russia's oil industry has large growth prospects, and this potential will allow Moscow to take a greater market share away from OPEC in the future. A number of factors will facilitate this trend. Russia's target oil price is lower than OPEC's, which gives it an incentive to continue exporting beyond OPEC's wishes. Also, Russia's oil industry is more privatized than the oil industries in Persian Gulf states, which allows it to be more entrepreneurial in attracting investment and joint ventures.
  • Topic: Security, Energy Policy, International Organization
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Middle East, Moscow, Kabardino
  • Author: Duncan DeVille, Danielle Lussier, Melissa Carr, David Rekhviashvili, Annaliis Abrego, John Grennan
  • Publication Date: 03-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Russian support for U.S. efforts in the war on terrorism has surprised many Western observers. But this was not the only recent surprise from Moscow — Western advocates for the rule of law in Russia also had much to celebrate in the closing months of 2001. Under strong prodding by President Vladimir Putin, the Duma passed several impressive pieces of reform legislation, including an entirely new Criminal Procedure Code, a potentially revolutionary land reform law, new shareholder protections in amendments to the Joint Stock Company Law, and the first post-Soviet Labor Code.
  • Topic: Security, Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, Europe, Asia, Moscow
  • Author: Ilias Akhmadov
  • Publication Date: 02-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Observers of the situation in Chechnya know that the "prospects for peace" that Akhmadov's title refers to are virtually nil, as Russian president Vladimir Putin and Chechen rebel leaders continue to lock horns on how to end the hostilities that broke out in war over two years ago. Akhmadov devoted considerable time in his discussion to the problems confronting Chechnya since the development of a Bush-Putin alliance to combat "Islamic fundamentalism." He also challenged Putin's insistence that the conflicts in Chechnya are domestic and therefore not subject to international monitoring or mediation. Akhmadov opened his talk with the assertion that the destruction he had discussed at the Davis Center in January 2000 had grown more serious, with levels of physical devastation and civilian casualties on the rise and the world community more supportive than ever of armed Russian intervention. To illustrate his point that the Russian Federation is unfairly using the international war on terror to justify actions in Chechnya, Akhmadov said that two days after FBI agents found diskettes containing flying instructions which had belonged to the terrorists responsible for the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the US, Russian FSB agents reported finding similar diskettes belonging to Chechen terrorists in the woods near a pilot-training school. Akhmadov considered the presence of such a school in those woods unlikely. He added that a high casualty rate among Chechen civilians is now officially connected to the search for members of Al Qaeda. Akhmadov reminded the audience of a speech made by Putin on September 24, 2001, in which the Russian president expressed support for the United States' war on terror and urged Chechen rebels to disarm and abandon their separatist fight. Akhmadov's response to that speech was that disarmament could not be a condition for starting peace talks. As for the November meeting between Viktor Kazantsev, Putin's envoy to Chechnya, and Akhmed Zakayev, a prominent representative of Chechnya's rebels, Akhmadov said it "left no room for illusions about their relations, or about the Russian government's position on Chechnya." The talk ended when Zakayev refused to comply with Kazanstev's request that the rebels disarm. Akhmadov addressed allegations of ties between the rebels and Osama bin Laden in the question-and-answer session, restricting himself during his talk to criticism of what he considers unwarranted BBC and CNN reports about the "thousands of Chechens fighting in Afghanistan." While Akhmadov allowed for the possibility that a few Chechens could be fighting for the Taliban, he stressed the unlikelihood that Chechens played a critical role in Taliban efforts and reported that nobody yet had been able to provide any "concrete facts to verify that Chechens are fighting for the Taliban." Putin's affirmations that Chechnya belongs to Russia apparently strike Akhmadov as oxymoronic, as indicated by his remark that "the Russian Federation wants to integrate the territory of Chechnya but not the people." To convey the extent of destruction wrought by the Chechen-Russian conflicts, Akhmadov cited data culled by Russians showing that before the first war in 1994, there were 1 million Chechens; 100,000 people were killed between 1994-6; that casualty figure has been greatly exceeded during the fighting that started in 1999. In addition, 400,000 Chechens have emigrated or become displaced persons. Akhmadov pointedly remarked that "we don't count as refugees, because that only happens during a war . . . What is happening in Chechnya is, according to Russia, 'a small, minor anti-terrorist operation.'"Finally, Akhmadov stated that impartial monitoring groups were needed to observe the conflict. He also asserted that a one-on-one dialogue with Russians was not a realistic solution and that intermediaries were needed to promote discussion between Russian and Chechen leaders. Following his prepared talk, Akhmadov replied to questions from the audience about issues including Chechen rebel fighting in Abkhazia, hostage-taking, and Russian bombing of civilian and industrial areas. In response to a question about Maskhadov's ability to rebuild the war-torn region, Akhmadov said that "neither Maskhadov nor any other Chechen can do anything with Chechnya's meager resources." He also said that the international community should aid Chechnya in future attempts to rebuild the war-torn republic and that visiting Ground Zero in New York had given him the "feeling that I had seen that [kind of devastation] somewhere before, only on a larger scale." Finally, Akhmadov answered an audience member's question about Russian and Chechen military strategy by saying that it was hard forhim to believe that "someone is sitting at a map plotting points . . . We're [Russians and Chechens] just killing each other . . . Russians see us, they kill us, and vice versa. It's a snowball effect."
  • Topic: Security, Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Grigory Yavlinsky
  • Publication Date: 02-2002
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Mr Yavlinsky began by thanking the Belfer Center for the invitation and said that the main topic of his talk will be to explore the progress of Russian Democratization. According to Mr. Yavlinsky, the process of democratization involves not only creating some set of democratic procedures, like free elections or free press. It is necessary to look behind the formal democratic institutions to ask what people applying and using them have in mind. Only after analyzing such motivations is it possible to understand how essentially democratic and legitimate institutions produce results contrary to their nature. The value of freedom of speech is nonexistent, if people have nothing to say, the freedom of action is needless if people are only willing to march in military ranks. Hence democracy can only work if the society enacting it has some basic democratic values, education, beliefs or moral principles. The democratic institutions and procedures per se are merely tools, able to transform these ideas and beliefs into reality. That is why the benefits of mere democratic procedures are so limited. It is for this reason that the economic base of any democracy is one of its crucial elements, providing for independent individuals as its basic members. In Mr. Yavlinsky's opinion, these facts represent the main challenge for Russian democracy. Russia's small and middle business enterprises are important for its democracy. Mr. Yavlinsky called them a "conditio sine qua non" for any democratic society. Only if the economy of the country can ensure the independent economic behavior of its citizens and only if these citizens have a certain level of democratic education and democratic values, only in this case the democratic procedures can work for the common benefit. From Yavlinsky's point of view the main challenge for the Russian reforms is that the country has to perform an acrobatic act, similar to riding a bicycle, where it must accomplish two operations simultaneously: the Russians have to engage in actions preparing democracy and at the same time practice this democracy with no reference to any previous historic democratic record. After presenting these general thoughts Mr. Yavlinsky moved on to a deeper analysis of the present Russian situation. He assumed that the present political elite consists of people coming from the Soviet administrative system and still thinking in Soviet categories. To achieve their goals they use a democratic cover "quasi democracy," a somewhat modernized version of the famous "Potemkin villages." Just like Stalin's constitution, which was considered to be one the most progressive democratic constitutions, the present formally democratic institutions in Russia do not constitute real democracy. Yavlinsky described the present state of political life in Russia as a controlled or managed democracy. This is a state where the democratic tools are used to achieve any result desirable for the leader of the country. The most recent example of this type of manipulation was a recent proposal drawn up by the parties close to the Russian president. According to this proposal, elections should only be considered valid if voter participation was at least 50 percent and only if one of the candidates was able to achieve more then 50 percent of the votes. In the opinion of Mr. Yavlinsky such a regulation would easily lead to an election deadlock, which would benefit the president. Mr. Yavlinsky underscored the difference between this type of controlled democracy and a totalitarian rule. While the latter destroys all the democratic institutions directly and openly, the main strategy of controlled democracy is not to destroy, but to adjust the institutions to serve the goals of the ruling elite. If any adjustment of institutions is impossible, the government prefers to replace the people controlling these institutions (like replacing the owners of the free TV stations) or substitute these institutions with new, more easily manageable organizations (as happened in the case of the Media Union, which was created to weaken the influence of the Union of Journalists). Speculating on the future of the Russian democracy, Yavlinsky stressed the special and very important role of bureaucracy in implementing this new "vertical of power." However as any bureaucracy, it will lead to more corruption. In order to keep the corruption under control, the government will have to use intense enforcement mechanisms, which might go as far as creating a police state. Of the three core democratic elements — free press, free elections, and an independent judiciary — Mr. Yavlinsky specifically spoke about the press. Yavlinsky said that the situation with the press in today's Russia is certainly not comparable to the situation in the Soviet Union. Everyone can read anything in the press, even the most incredible and slanderous information about most prominent political figures. Restricted is any systematic explanation or critical analysis of the political events. For example, state television stations have a list of people who are not to be shown on the air. The same is true for the list of forbidden topics. Certainly there still are a some newspapers who still cover critical topics (e.g. Obschaya Gazeta and Novaya Gazeta). However, they unfold their activities in a kind of a glass box, their presence is not really essential, and is only useful for the government in order to demonstrate to foreign observers that free press exists. As a result of such media control, the Russian population is subject to the management and manipulation of human choice. According to Mr. Yavlinsky this ability to manipulate and control is actually one of the main results of the last 10 years: it is not hard to manipulate the choice of the Russian public. Just like one could convince it to vote for Yeltsin or vote for a totally unknown newcomer Putin, you can always manipulate the public opinion. In the question and answer section Yavlinsky addressed various issues. In speaking about the best way western countries could assist Russia on its way towards democracy, Yavlinsky rejected any form of financial credits or subsidies. He is convinced that the help must be conducted in a smart way and this means in the first place the west should give up any policy of double standards towards Russia and address Russia as an honest and valuable ally. Regarding Putin's intentions, Yavlinsky mentioned two of them: the intention to make Russia a strong state and to protect his own power. The question is not whether these goals are good or bad, but rather which instruments Putin is prepared to use to implement those goals.
  • Topic: Security, Human Rights
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Asia