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Tea with plutonium

Author : Sergei Medvedev

Respondent : Sergei Oznobischev

Source : 112 Ukraine

Expert on Russia, nuclear and plutonium issues, and nuclear missiles
18:22, 17 October 2016

Read the original text at radiosvododa.org.

AFP

Sergei Medvedev: We'll start the conversation is not with the future but with the past, because the shadows of the past suddenly descended on the pages of newspapers and television screens. Closer than ever looming specter of the nuclear threat, the nuclear winter in connection with the recent statements of the Russian leadership to withdraw from the agreement on the disposal of weapons-grade plutonium, and thus turned the whole spiral of fear about nuclear war. Let's talk about what is happening at all with nuclear weapons, to what extent is the legacy of the twentieth century has passed us in the XXI century and whether it will remain. My companion is Sergey Oznobischev, director of the Institute for Strategic Assessments.

Let's start with plutonium. Plutonium - is, as they say many experts, the symbolic thing, it does not affect the strategic balance, or does it have any impact?

Sergey Oznobischev: largely symbolic. Judging by the original calculation, which was at the conclusion of the contract in 2000 there were 125 tons of plutonium in Russia and, in my opinion, 100 in the United States. They considered to allocate 34 tons to destroy.

I brought a protocol 2010. As always, such documents are easy to remember name: It says that the US government's program will be based on the irradiation of recycled plutonium and completion of the installation for the production of active mixed fuel. Start of operation is scheduled for 2016. Then they began to count the money and decided to change the method of disposal.

You know the competition among our people who work in this field: where to find something to hurt America, find a thorn in the eye.

And what about the rest of strategic offensive arms - they are not under threat?

Sergey Oznobischev: Each time is unique, but we now live in a very unique time to time even the height of the Cold War. Since the 60-ies (non-proliferation treaty of nuclear weapons - 1968), we pledged that the parties of the treaty, that is, the nuclear states, will hold talks on the reduction and total reduction of nuclear weapons. Since then, it took almost 50 years, and it is all the time we poke developing countries that we discourage go nuclear path. They are worried about their safety, worried and rightly so, as they see: without nuclear weapons with them can happen anything.

Related: Putin's plutonium bluff

It is like Ukraine, which gave up its nuclear weapons and lost Crimea.

Sergey Oznobischev: Yes, here is an example, although the former President of Ukraine said that while it was like a monkey with a grenade. Ukraine stood up from the knees and has almost an equal to talk with Washington. Kazakhstan and Belarus are a little smaller, and Ukraine tried to make a reputation of semi-nuclear state powers.

 Russian energy reactors, the Russian fuel ... primarily to enrich it, for warheads?

Sergei Medvedev: I think it is some kind of global error of mankind, because it is unclear what to do now with this plutonium. Nuclear physicists have decided that it is needed to burn it: manufactured MOX fuel, then it is burned, but after a while you can retrieve all of the burned-out fuel again.

Related: Russian secret base with nuclear weapons detected near Ukrainian border

As a result, in the XXI century, the role of nuclear weapons would grow. That is a big cycle that started in the 70s, it is almost 50 years old. 30 years lasted the active phase of the nuclear cycle, 50 years in the disarmament phase, and now this phase of disarmament in the eyes begins to sag.

We all found the time when it was a completely different political thinking, a completely different attitude to the world, people weretrying to make the world a better and safer from nuclear weapons. The program "A world without nuclear weapons" of Gorbachev in 1986 is very important.

It seems to me that we are now in a state of some farcical Cold War, and ultimately it can be very dangerous, can go to the hot phase.

Related: Putin intimidates with plutonium: the danger of Russia's threats

Today, there is a possibility that a nuclear-free horizon will come and we will be immersed in a natural spread of nuclear weapons. With ISIS everything is becoming more and more dangerous. There is a powerful organization with vast resources and a very effective ideology. It has been recognized that there are several thousand of our compatriots, and we can assume that there are also a few specialists who can understand these things.

Plutonium could theoretically get to ISIS?

Sergey Oznobischev: Theoretically everything is possible. But ways of storing, preservation of nuclear fuel waste in the five nuclear powers at all times - this is the highest degree of efficiency. There are so many degrees of protection ...

We are now in a state of some farcical Cold War, and ultimately it may go to the hot phase.

But there is the so-called unrecognized members of the nuclear club. Pakistan, India, Israel.

What is not shared - again territorial disputes begin. After all, it is important to not only the existence of nuclear capabilities, but also the leaders of civilization. Not so long ago we heard absolutely wild statements from our close ally of Iran, where the leaders said they wanted to lose Israel and all the rest in the sea. In conjunction with this political factor immediately gives a high level of danger.

And the same is now in North Korea is a country geographically close to us, we try to negotiate, but we cannot exclude the degeneration of the North Korean regime in the complete outcast.

Related: Another test of nuclear weapon in North Korea

Global missile defense system does not monitor all of these unauthorized launches?

Sergey Oznobischev: Today, there is a possibility that we will be immersed in a natural spread of nuclear weapons.

Of course, track, although no defense and protection system cannot be completely effective. But one thing, if you have a highly efficient system - 80-85%, but at least 90% ... When it comes to conventional armed forces, you 90 intercept missiles. Very effective missile defense work over Israel, intercepting missiles, an iron dome, and some still falling.

 

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A nuclear missile is an unacceptable risk.

Sergey Oznobischev: One, two - and ready, you do not have a pair of cities, a pair of object.

A scary metaphor. If you go back to Russia in its present political state, with the current ideology here will increasingly rely on nuclear weapons. What happens now with the Russian nuclear weapons - it is modernized?

Sergey Oznobischev: Based on our present vision is not. We are now producing excessively on commodity nomenclature, we have spent a lot of surplus funds - it is quite obvious. But our defense capability is at a high level. However, the problem lies in the fact that we live in a unique time, when there are no negotiations on the next steps in the field of arms reduction and limitation, I'm not talking about their destruction.

Related: Russia suspended implementation of agreement on plutonium disposal

The unique time! For 60 years, this process lasts ... And any peaceful initiative of the Soviet Union in the 40s - even destroy a world without nuclear weapons ... developed civilization have long wanted to deal with it. But the situation is unique because it is not conducted any negotiations.

We say, let's execute the Prague START, and then we'll see, in 2020, could be extended. But our mountain experts say, no, not to our advantage to prolong it, we have nothing to talk to them. They write great articles, writings on the matter, claiming that it will affect our defense. We now have a very definite view that the US wants through agreements to limit the development of our nuclear weapons. And then - Albright hunt before our Siberia, we take our Siberia? Our society, our expert and political community, unfortunately, are in a state of war hysteria.

Nuclear weapons are coming to the fore. You paint a frightening picture.

In preparation for this show, I began to look for what is happening in recent years in the field of disarmament, and found almost nothing.

Related: Lavrov: US actions force countries to think about obtaining nuclear weapons

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