Tags: Shoddy | Russian | Nukes | Endanger | U.S.

Shoddy Russian Nukes Endanger U.S.

Wednesday, 02 May 2001 12:00 AM

The report said the situation in "nuclear and missile cities" populated by scientists, technicians and engineers in those industries was so dire it presented a national security emergency to the United States and other Western nations.

"This is a major threat facing the U.S.," John Wolfsthal, the Carnegie report's editor, said at a news conference at the Capitol. "The Russian nuclear and missile defense industry is a gloomy picture of underpaid but highly skilled and educated workers with poor morale who are ready to emigrate to the land of the highest bidder."

Wolfsthal said the Carnegie Endowment took a census of nuclear cities to "get a good idea of how tough life is among people in the Russian nuclear industry." The endowment looked at eight nuclear and missile cities, sampling 2 percent of their populations.

According to the survey, 63 percent make less than $50 a month, and almost none make more than $125 a month. The workers desire, on the other hand, not more than $150 a month.

"This makes it very cheap for a potential nuclear proliferater to come in and help these communities," Wolfsthal said. He said any entity helping these downtrodden nuclear workers could also be helping themselves to the necessary expertise to create a major threat to world peace.

"These people have a strong desire to moonlight," Wolfsthal said. "Fourteen percent want to get out of Russia entirely, and another 6 percent will work for anyone, anywhere." That translates to about 3,900 people on the open market with the skills necessary to design, construct and launch nuclear warheads, according to Wolfsthal.

With immense pressure to emigrate, these highly educated Russian workers might sell themselves to the highest international bidders - with dangerous rogue nations such as North Korea, Iran, and Iraq among them, he said.

"You can't build an economy on the shoulders of people who have emigrated," said Rep. Ellen Tauscher, a California Democrat whose district includes much of the Silicon Valley.

Tauscher proclaimed dismay with large cuts in the "Nuclear Cities Initiative" recommended by President Bush.

"I want the president to devote even a tiny amount of time to nuclear nonproliferation," Tauscher told reporters. That would mean sending about $26 million to the Russian nonproliferation effort, not the $6 million Bush has proposed.

Rose Gottemoeller, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment who has visited several nuclear cities, said a Russian brain drain caused by dire conditions could pose serious problems in the maintenance and safety of the nuclear stockpile. The stockpile must be eliminated, Gottemoeller said, and replaced by commercial endeavors.

"But commercialization of a defense complex is never easy, even in good economic times," Gottemoeller said. "However, we will be helping the Russians next year close down a major nuclear warhead plant in Sarov, five full years ahead of schedule."

With all the pressure for top-level Russian nuclear workers to emigrate, and a possible bidding war for their services among rogue nations, will the United States be enhancing their ability to come ashore here?

In a word, no, Tauscher said.

"We don't want to encourage a Russian brain drain or take a strip-mining approach to bringing Russian scientists over here," Tauscher said. "It would be bad for our reputation."

Copyright 2001 by United Press International.

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The report said the situation in nuclear and missile cities populated by scientists, technicians and engineers in those industries was so dire it presented a national security emergency to the United States and other Western nations. This is a major threat facing the...
Shoddy,Russian,Nukes,Endanger,U.S.
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2001-00-02
Wednesday, 02 May 2001 12:00 AM
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