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  Timeline of the Nuclear Age 2000s  2000


The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission reports that five U.S. nuclear power plants experienced Y2K-related support function problems with their weather reporting and perimeter radiation detection. A satellite spy system stopped sending information to the Pentagon. And in Japan, which has fifty-one nuclear power plants, minor equipment malfunctions were reported after the start of the new year but the problems had no effect on power generation or reactor operations. Close monitoring of nuclear missile Y2K-related glitches continued at the joint U.S./Russia command center in Colorado through the spring.

Operations will serve concurrently as NNSA Chief of Defense Nuclear Security. In addition, Edward J. Curran, a former FBI counterintelligence expert who joined the department in late 1998 as Director of Counterintelligence, will serve concurrently as NNSA Chief of Defense Nuclear Counterintelligence. The DOE Assistant Secretary for Environment, Safety, and Health will be assigned or appointed to a position inside NNSA with "authority to shut down NNSA facilities or activities in circumstances where a clear and present safety danger exists."

The U.S. Congress received plans for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), a new, semi-autonomous agency. The plan calls for the Director of the NNSA to serve as an Undersecretary of Energy and to run the Department of Energy’s nuclear weapons programs. Retired Gen. Eugene E. Habiger becomes the Energy Department’s new Director of Security and Emergency on January 8, 2000.

Acting Russian President Vladimir Putin signs into law a new national security strategy that lowers the threshold on first-use of nuclear weapons. The National Security Concept of the Russian Federation allows the use of all existing forces, including nuclear weapons, to oppose any attack, nuclear or conventional, if other efforts fail to repel the aggressor. It also allows the first use of nuclear arms "in case of a threat to the existence of the Russian Federation." The new military guidance proclaims Russia’s intention to oppose domestic unrest and secessionist challenges as well as American domination of the international arena. The doctrine states, "The Russian Federation must have nuclear forces capable of delivering specified damage to any aggressor state or a coalition of states in any situation."

A prototype missile-defense "kill vehicle" fails to find and destroy the Minuteman 2 missile playing the role of an enemy missile launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The test costs $100 million. Trying to hit a bullet with a bullet, the interceptor was fired from Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands twenty minutes after the target’s liftoff from California, and missed as the two flew in opposite directions over the Pacific Ocean 140 miles above the Earth’s surface.

Top U.S. and Russian officials end nuclear disarmament talks in Geneva with no new agreements. John Hollum, U.S. Undersecretary of State for Disarmament, and Yuri Kapralov, Head of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s arms control department, met in Geneva as the follow-up to a June, 1999 Yeltsin-Clinton agreement to discuss modifications to the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty.

An IAEA nuclear inspection in Iraq concludes that Iraq’s nuclear materials are not being used for military purposes. The inspection was conducted under the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and led by Ahmad Abuzahra, head of the IAEA. U.S. and Chinese officials resume the military-to-military dialogue that China halted last spring after the mistaken U.S. bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade by U.S. jets during the NATO air war against Serbia. The talks were the third in a series of defense consultative sessions that began in 1997, and were led by People’s Liberation Army Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Xiong Guangkai and U.S. Undersecretary of State Walter Slocombe.

The UN Security Council decides to appoint Hans Blix of Sweden as the head of the new UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, the UN weapons inspection agency for Iraq. Blix is the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which had co-responsibility with the UN Special Commission for Iraq for overseeing the destruction of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction in the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War.

U.S. President Bill Clinton appoints former Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff (1993 to 1997) General John M. Shalikashvili to lead a White House task force to get bipartisan legislative support for the U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). The CTBT has been signed by 155 nations, including China and Russia, and ratified by 51 of those nations, including the U.K. and France. In October, 1999, the U.S. Senate refused to ratify the treaty.

Jo Vallentine, a uranium mining protester and former Australian Senator, is sentenced to seven days at Bandyup Women’s Prison for refusing to pay a trespass fine incurred during a mass protest against the proposed Jabiluka uranium mine site, which is surrounded by Kakadu National Park, a World Heritage Park in Australia.

A preliminary study by the White House and Department of Energy cites higher-than-normal incidences of cancer among 600,000 workers at 14 nuclear weapons plants. During a CNN interview, U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Bill Richardson acknowledges that nuclear power plant workers "weren’t actively lied to, but they were not informed of potential exposures, so it’s not a direct lie, but it could be they were not leveled with." Richardson’s statement raises the possibility that the U.S. government might eventually compensate radiation victims or their survivors.

Pakistan test fires a new, more accurate short-range (60 miles) surface-to-surface missile, Pohkran-2. The missile can carry a variety of unspecified warheads.

At the Geneva Conference on Disarmament (CD), China’s envoy, Hu Xiaodi, formally proposes that the CD set up a committee and begin negotiations to conclude a global treaty that would ban the testing, deployment, and use of weapons in outer space. Russia’s Ambassador on Disarmament Vasily Sidorov backs the proposal.

According to Greenpeace, Russia’s Minatom plans to build a repository for spent nuclear fuel at Zheleznogorsk. The repository would handle up to 30,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel that would be sent to Russia from all over Europe and Asia by truck, train, and river barge for both intermediate storage and final disposal. Plutonium re-processing could begin in 2020 after a new reprocessing plant is completed in Ozersk. According to Greenpeace, the U.S.-Russia partnership would be funded through the U.S. Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention Project.

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter urges nations to support the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, which is scheduled to begin in April, 2000 at the UN headquarters in New York. Carter declares, "In April, it is imperative that the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty be reconfirmed and subsequently honored by leaders who are inspired to act wisely and courageously by an informed public. This treaty has been a key deterrent to the proliferation of weapons, and its unraveling would exert powerful pressures even on peace-loving nations to develop a nuclear capability. All nuclear states must renew efforts to achieve worldwide reduction and ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons. In the meantime, it requires no further negotiations for leaders of nuclear nations to honor existing nuclear security agreements, including the test ban and anti-ballistic missile treaties, and to remove nuclear weapons from their present hair-trigger alert status. Just as American policy is to blame for many of the problems, so can our influence help resolve the nuclear dilemma that faces the world."

During his visit of Snezhinsk (formerly known as Chelyabinsk-70), Russia’s president-elect Vladimir Putin urges the Duma, the Russian parliament, to ratify the stalled START-II arms control treaty. Putin also reaffirms his intent to restructure Russia’s nuclear industry.

China urges India to stop its nuclear development program in talks on global and regional security issues. China Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhu Bangzao said that India should obey a UN Security Council resolution that condemns the 1998 nuclear tests, and calls on India and Pakistan to stop all nuclear development programs. Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee maintained that India would keep its nuclear weapons until all weapons of mass destruction were dismantled, and that India "will continue to be guided by [the] imperative of India’s strategic autonomy and the need to maintain [a] credible nuclear deterrent."

Demonstrators in Tokyo protest against nuclear weapons by laying roses at the grave of Aikichi Kuboyama, a Japanese fisherman who died as a result of a U.S. atomic bomb test on Bikini Atoll forty-six years ago. The 1,700 protesters include members of Japanese civic groups and representatives from the U.S. and Marshall Islands, as well as groups protesting nuclear power for civilian use, a growing concern in Japan after the death from radiation of a Tokaimura nuclear fuel plant worker in December, 1999. Kuboyama was a radio operator aboard the tuna fishing boat, Lucky Dragon, on March 1, 1954. The boat was about a hundred miles away from where the United States tested a nuclear bomb on Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

The Australian Senate passes a resolution that calls on their own government and other countries to implement the Canberra Commission recommendations and to pressure the nuclear weapons states to abide by their treaty obligations to eliminate nuclear arsenals. The vote comes a few days after the visit of New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, an ardent nuclear abolitionist. In 1999, Australia abstained in a UN General Assembly vote to endorse the New Agenda Coalition resolution that urged nuclear weapons states to abide by their obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and demanded that nuclear weapons be taken off alert status.

Russia and the Netherlands sign a cooperative agreement for the dismantling of old Russian nuclear warheads and nuclear submarines. U.S. President Bill Clinton signs the Iran Nonproliferation Act of 2000. According to the Act, the U.S. will only live up to its promise to pay $650 million beyond its original pledge for Russia’s space station, if Russia does not transfer missile technology or nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons to Iran. The U.S. also has taken administrative actions against ten Russian companies for transferring weapons materials and technology to Iran.

Taiwan elects a new president, Chen Shui-bian, whose pro-independence party replaces the long-ruling Nationalist Party.

Longtime peace activist Philip Berrigan, 77, is sentenced to 30 months in prison on charges of conspiring to damage U.S. fighter aircraft at a U.S. Air National Guard base in December, 1999. Three others were sentenced to twenty-seven months, including a reduction for time already served in jail awaiting trial. The group protests the use of anti-tank bullets containing depleted uranium (DU). The judge would not allow defense witnesses to testify about the hazards of depleted uranium.

The U.S. conducts its second subcritical nuclear test this year, Thoroughbred, at the LYNER facility on the Nevada Test Site.

The U.S. abandons its plans to build a nuclear waste incinerator 100 miles upwind from Yellowstone National Park, the nation’s oldest and largest national park, after reaching a settlement in a lawsuit by environmental opponents. The incinerator would have burned waste, laden with PCB and plutonium from weapons laboratories, which the government argued, was too dangerous to ship. Gerry Spence, internationally renowned trial lawyer and adviser to the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, led the legal efforts of the environmental activists and secured the victory.

The Senate of Canada adopts a motion urging the nuclear weapon states to move to the total elimination of their nuclear weapons, as called for by the Non-Proliferation Treaty. The motion was introduced by Douglas Roche, O.C., Independent Senator from Alberta, and was adopted without a vote. Senator Roche referred to the Middle Powers Initiative (MPI) appeal for nuclear weapon states to "affirm unequivocally that there are legally binding obligations to engage in good faith negotiations to eliminate nuclear weapons and to commence these negotiations as a matter of utmost urgency." Roche also called for de-alerting nuclear weapons, a No-First-Use pledge, and legal assurances that nuclear weapons would never be used against non-nuclear weapon states.

The Ukrainian government announces it will close the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, site of the world’s worst nuclear accident, by the end of the year 2000. A Ukraine Cabinet delegation will continue negotiations with the Group of Seven (G7) and the European Union to ensure "full and proper implementation" of a 1995 aid memorandum in which Ukraine promised to close Chernobyl in exchange for aid that was delayed when Ukraine decided to use the aid for the completion of two new nuclear reactors.

Sixty-three activists who walked onto the property of Alliant Techsystems, Inc. on Nov. 1, 1999 to protest manufacture of depleted uranium-238 (DU) weapons were convicted of trespassing. The demonstrators, are all fined $25, except for ten who spent more than eight hours in custody after their arrest and who were sentenced to time served.

The Russian Federation ratifies the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START II). START II was signed in 1993 by Presidents George Bush and Boris Yeltsin and will reduce U.S. and Russian long-range nuclear warheads to 3,000-3,500 each from current levels of about 6,000 each. Treaty provisions do not, however, require warheads to be dismantled. Instead, START II focuses on reducing delivery systems. Also, the U.S. Senate approved an earlier version of START II and must still agree to a 1997 agreement to extend the deadline for START II and agreements related to the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

Nearly a ton of radioactive material hidden in 10 lead boxes is recovered from a truckload of scrap metal bound for Pakistan via Iran on a trip that began in Kazakhstan. The seized material is emitting about 1,200 milli-roentgen per hour, enough to cause radiation sickness. The discovery reinforces worries about smuggling of nuclear material from countries of the former Soviet Union to such countries as Iran and Pakistan. The material was tested for its radioactivity level at the Semipalatinsk National Nuclear Center, a facility in eastern Kazakhstan formerly used to test Soviet nuclear weapons.

The U.S. conducts its third subcritical test for this year, "Oboe 4," in Nevada.

U.S. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson announces plans to compensate workers who became seriously ill from exposure to radiation while toiling in ten U.S. government nuclear weapons plants during the Cold War. The plan, which has to be approved by Congress, would offer lump-sum payments of at least $100,000 to workers or their survivors. The Energy Department has estimated about 3,000 former workers at nuclear weapons plants or their families are likely to be eligible because of exposure to radiation in the 1950s and in some cases, into the 1970s. The plants are the Hanford Reservation in Washington State, Oak Ridge Complex in Tennessee, Savannah River Site in South Carolina, the Nevada Test Site, Rocky Flats Complex in Colorado, the Pantex Plant in Texas, the Mound Plant, Fernald Environmental Management Project, and Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plants, all in Ohio; Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, and the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Kentucky.

The Duma, Russia’s parliament, ratifies the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). U.S. Ambassador to Russia James Collins confirms that negotiators handed Russia a draft of proposed amendments to the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, in the form of a new protocol that would allow the U.S. to build a national missile defense system.

Delegates from the 187 signatories to the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) meet at UN headquarters in New York for a month-long review of the treaty. For documements, see: NPT

On the anniversary of the Chernobyl accident, U.S. President Bill Clinton vetoes the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, a.k.a. Mobile Chernobyl bill, that would have brought 40,000 tons of highly radioactive nuclear waste from U.S. commercial power plants in thirty-one states to a Yucca Mountain storage site in Nevada. In an official White House statement, Clinton listed his reasons for veto: the bill passed by Congress created duplicate and unnecessary layers of bureaucracy; does little to minimize the potential for continued claims against the federal government for damages as a result of the delay in accepting spent fuel from utilities; does not include authority to take title to spent fuel at reactor sites; and restricts the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) authority from issuing final radiation standards until June 2001. The U.S. Senate was unsuccessful in overriding Clinton’s veto.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in a new UN report on the continuing effects of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986, which spread a radioactive cloud over Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, and western Europe, states that "Chernobyl is a word we would all like to erase from our memory... More than 7 million of our fellow human beings do not have the luxury of forgetting. They are still suffering, everyday, as a result of what happened...Not until 2016, at the earliest, will be known the full number of those likely to develop serious medical conditions." The report states that 3 million children require treatment and many will die prematurely. The Ukraine Minister of Health Olha Bobyleva said that consumption of radioactive food produced in the northern and central Ukraine regions of Kiev, Chernihiv, Zhytomyr, Cherkassy, and Rivne pose continuous public health dangers.

Japanese nuclear plant worker, Masato Shinohara, 40, dies on the morning of April 27th, becoming the second person to die from Japan’s worst nuclear accident, which occurred on Sept. 30, 1999 at a uranium-processing facility in Tokaimura, 70 miles, northeast of Tokyo. Masato Shinohara and two other plant workers had been directly exposed to massive amounts of radiation, and a total of 439 people, including nearby residents, were exposed to radiation in the accident. The accident was caused by human error when three workers placed too much uranium in a solution and set off an uncontrolled atomic reaction.

Two Russians from Kaluga are sentenced to a year each in prison for posing on the Internet as renegade nuclear rocket commanders with plans to wipe out cities in Europe. The two had posted messages claiming to be officers at a strategic rocket unit, driven to the edge by the harsh realities of post-Soviet life, who would launch a nuclear strike on European cities if their demands were not met. The nuclear blackmailers are convicted under a Russian statute that outlaws alarmist hoaxes causing material damage or danger to the public.

In exchange for a shipment of 400,000 tons of food through the World Food Program, famine-stricken North Korea allows U.S. officials to reinspect an enormous tunnel at the Kumchang-ri military site suspected to be part of a secret nuclear weapons program.

A raging wildfire enters the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory (LASL) compound, a 43-square-mile U.S. nuclear weapons facility in New Mexico and consumes some historic lab buildings relating to the Manhattan Project. The fire was deliberately set by forest rangers to clear dry brush in the Bandalier National Forest surrounding the lab. A LASL spokesperson, Jim Danneskiold, said most of the three tons of plutonium on the lab grounds was stored in stainless steel cans in fireproof concrete bunkers and that the fire only came within thirty yards of that storage facility. Tritium is similarly stored at LASL.

The Marshall Islands Nuclear Claims Tribunal announces that it would pay islanders from Enewetak $199 million for loss of the use of their island, $108 million to clean up and restore the atoll, and $34 million for their 33-year exile and hardship. In 1947, 145 residents were removed from Enewetak, about 2,500 miles southwest of Hawaii, to permit atmospheric nuclear tests to be conducted on their atoll. In 1980, the people were allowed to return to their parts of the island. Parts of the island had been vaporized by forty-three nuclear blasts, while the rest was pockmarked by explosions or contaminated by radiation from the U.S. nuclear tests in 1946-1958.

May Shipments containing low-enriched uranium, taken from Russian nuclear weapons stockpiles to be used in U.S. commercial nuclear reactors, are halted after Russia’s Minister of Atomic Energy notified Energy Secretary Bill Richardson that a Swiss creditor would seize proceeds as part of an unrelated litigation. As an effect of the suspended shipments, uranium starts accumulating at a dock in St. Petersburg for several weeks, raising security concerns. The shipments are part of the "swords-to-plowshares" uranium deal between the U.S. and Russia. The U.S.-Russian contract is worth about $11 billion and calls for Russia to export more than 500 tons of recycled uranium from scrapped weapons to the U.S. over a twenty-year time period. The deal is a U.S. attempt to prevent nuclear weapons material from falling into the hands of terrorists. [See June 2000]

A packed UN conference room listens to presentations by Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference. In his opening address, Iccoh Itoh, the Mayor of Nagasaki, reminds the audience, "As a result of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings, more than 210,000 people were either killed instantly or died of injuries during the ensuing months. The vast majority of these people were not soldiers but non-combatant citizens...Even today, 55 years later, about 300,000 atomic bomb survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki continue to live in fear of death and to suffer from late effects."

The Defense and Foreign Affairs Journal reports that the Taiwanese military have obtained a pair of medium-range ballistic missiles with two nuclear warheads, aimed at mainland China. The journal, published by the International Strategic Studies Association in Washington, says the nuclear weapons and carriers were originally owned by South Africa and obtained in an under-the-counter deal brokered by an "intermediary Middle Eastern country." Taiwanese officials strongly deny the report.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reports to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference that since December 1998, it was "not in a position to implement its Security Council-mandated activities in Iraq" and was therefore not able to provide assurances that Iraq was compliant with its obligations under the UN Security Council Resolutions. With respect to its NPT Article III obligations, the IAEA notes that although it carried out a physical inventory verification of nuclear material in January 2000 "this inspection is not... sufficient to provide assurance that Iraq is in full compliance with all its safeguards obligations..."

In Israel’s largest anti-nuclear protest ever, almost two hundred people mark Women’s International Day for Disarmament and Peace at a protest demonstration near Israel’s major nuclear reactor in Dimona, calling for Israel to dismantle its nuclear weapons and to open all its nuclear facilities to independent local and international inspection. Among the speakers are Knesset Member Issam Makhoul (Hadash), who initiated the first-ever parliamentary debate on Israel’s nuclear policy, and Mary Eoloff who brought this message from Mordechai Vanunu, a nuclear whistleblower in Israeli prison, "Nuclear weapons will lead to a second holocaust. The Dimona reactor is a second Auschwitz. The State has no right to kill civilians, but that is exactly what these weapons are for -- killing civilians."

Gulf Technical industries is established in Dubai. This organization acts as a business front for A.Q. Khan's nuclear materials sales. 

The Russian Ministry for Atomic Energy (Minatom) announces that it will proceed with subcritical nuclear weapons testing at the test field on Novaya Zemlya. The Novaya Zemlya test range is off-limits for civilian regulatory authorities, which makes it difficult to assess any possible radioactivity discharges and the nature of tests conducted there. In 1999, Minatom conducted seven subcritical tests.

U.S. President Bill Clinton and Russian President Vladimir Putin announce an agreement on the removal of 34 metric tons of plutonium from their military stocks.

U.S. President Bill Clinton and Russian President Vladimir Putin reach an Early Warning Agreement during the Moscow Summit. According to a U.S. defense official, two Memorandum of Agreement (MOAs) are involved. The first concerns the flow of early warning information to a Joint Data Exchange Center in Moscow, which is scheduled to open in 2001. The second MOA addresses pre-launch notification arrangements. Although joint-monitoring does not solve the dilemma of an accidental nuclear exchange, the early warning system is expected to reduce the risk of an accidental ballistic missile launch and to help prevent misinterpretations of events. Around mid-June, lawyers hired by the Clinton administration advise the president that in their view, building the first piece of a national missile defense system would not violate the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. Although the lawyers’ interpretations are likely to be rejected by Russia, they offer President Bill Clinton a means to continue developing the controversial national missile defense system, while letting the next administration decide whether to break the ABM Treaty.

North Korea and South Korea sign a joint declaration. Both countries agree to unite families separated by the Korean War and to pursue economic ties.

In a radio interview, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright announces that the U.S. State Department will no longer use the term "rogue state" in reference to countries including Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Serbia, and Sudan. In April 1994, during a public lecture, Albright had defined a rogue state as one that had no part in the international system and tried to sabotage it.

U.S. President Bill Clinton issues an executive order to guarantee that money paid to Russia as part of the "swords-to-plowshares" uranium deal is not seized by creditors. The order allows resumed shipments of processed Russian uranium to the U.S. For more, see May 2000.

General Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan’s military ruler, calls upon India to agree to a "strategic self-restraint" between the neighboring nuclear rivals. General Musharraf tells the official APP news agency that "unlike India," Pakistan did not harbor any ambitions of global or regional status, and that Pakistan would not subject the Pakistani people to economic deprivation by entering into a nuclear arms race with India. The call comes after resuming formal dialogues with the U.S. on nuclear and security issues in the region.

Russian President Vladimir Putin issues a statement calling for the U.S. and Russia to reduce strategic nuclear weapons to below 1,500 on each side.

Israel cancels sale of $250 million Plalcon early warning radar system to China under U.S. pressure. Washington had threatened to cut $2.8 billion in annual American aid to Israel if it proceeded with the sale. The U.S. claims that the system could jeopardize U.S. forces in any future conflict with China.

President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation and Chairman Jiang Zemin of the People’s Republic of China issue a joint statement noting deep concerns for U.S. plans to deploy a national missile defense (NMD). The statement reaffirms the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty as the "cornerstone of global strategic stability and international security and the basis of the structure of key international agreements on the reduction and limitation of strategic offensive weapons and on the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction."

For the first time ever, scientists from the U.S. are able to reproduce a three-dimensional simulation of detonations that produce the explosive output of thermonuclear weapons. The simulations allow the scientists to follow the activity of a thermonuclear warhead on a computer as it explodes, which previously could only be done by an actual underground test. The simulation programs are part of the Department of Energy's "Stockpile Stewardship" program. The supercomputers are housed at Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico and Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in California.

At a forum hosted by the Heritage Foundation in Washington D.C., Peter Brookes, the principal adviser to the congressional committee on East Asian Affairs, openly states that the "real reason" behind U.S. deployment of a missile shield is a "perceived threat from China." Prior to this date, political figures cited "rogue states" (now called "states of concern"), such as North Korea, Iran, and Iraq as the reason for deploying a national missile defense.

The U.S. General Accounting Office reports that the Department of Energy and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory now estimate that the National Ignition Facility will cost about $3.3 billion and be completed in 2008--more than $1 billion above original estimates and six years behind schedule.

The National Academy of Sciences releases a report entitled "Long-Term Institutional Management of U.S. Department of Energy Legacy Waste Sites," commissioned by the Department of Energy. The report states that most of the sites where the U.S. federal government built nuclear bombs will never be cleaned up enough to allow public access to the land. The report also notes that the plan for guarding sites that are permanently contaminated is inadequate. It further states that the government can try to declare certain areas permanently off-limits, but it does not have the technology, money, and management techniques to prevent the contamination from spreading.

The Kursk, a Russian nuclear-powered submarine, plunges to the bottom of the Barents Sea. Although Russia made a series of rescue efforts, Norwegian divers found that the vessel was full of water and all 118 crew members on-board were pronounced dead eight days after the accident. The Kursk was powered by a nuclear reactor and also may have carried nuclear warheads. It was the fifth Russian submarine to sink.

Russia’s atomic energy agency Minatom and the Russian Defense Ministry conduct subcritical nuclear tests at Novaya Zemlya in the Arctic. Reportedly, the purpose of the tests is to ensure that the lifetime of the old weapons-grade plutonium stocks can be prolonged. Yury Bespalko, a spokesman for Minatom, said that each test used about 100 grams of weapon-grade plutonium. Plutonium of various ages was tested to establish performance levels.

U.S. Vice President Al Gore and Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov sign an agreement for the U.S. and Russia to begin disposing 34 tons of weapons-grade plutonium each--enough to make thousands of nuclear weapons. However, the agreement does not include disposal of nuclear reactor fuel. New facilities are scheduled to be built beginning in 2007 to convert some of the plutonium into fuel for nuclear reactors, while the remainder of the waste will be buried. The process will be monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency. The U.S. Congress approved $200 million in aid to help Russia carry out its side of the agreement. Disposing of the plutonium will cost an estimated $4 billion to $5.75 billion for the United States and $1.75 billion for Russia.

U.S. President Bill Clinton, unconvinced of the technological feasibility of a national missile defense, announces his deferral of a decision on deployment to the next president. Congress passed a law in 1999 requiring the U.S. to deploy an anti-missile system "as soon as technologically feasible." In a speech at Georgetown University, President Clinton says it is too early to commit the U.S. to a missile defense, but orders the Pentagon to pursue a "robust program" to prove the effectiveness of the technology.

Brajesh Mishra, National Security Advisor of India, announces that the country has no intention of signing a global treaty banning atomic testing in the near future. Mishra states that a decision on signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) can only be made after reaching political consensus in India.

Russia's atomic energy agency Minatom and the Russian Defense Ministry conduct a subcritical nuclear test at Novaya Zemlya in the Arctic. Reportedly, the purpose of the test is to ensure that the lifetime of the old weapons grade plutonium stocks can be prolonged.

News sources report the release of India’s first-ever Strategic Defense Review (SDR) commissioned by the Indian Government and prepared by non-governmental experts. The SDR states that China has the largest nuclear and missile development program in the world. Additionally the SDR urges the Indian government to develop the capability of conducting nuclear subcritical tests to fully integrate the benefits of the Shakti series of tests carried out at Pokhran in May 1998. It also expresses apprehension about the status of the Chinese tactical nuclear weapons arsenal, and the possibilities of proliferation to Pakistan.

The U.S. Department of Energy publishes a list of more than 577 sites that may have been involved in nuclear activities, and announces that it will examine each site for possible nuclear contamination. The list includes more than forty colleges and universities that may have conducted nuclear weapons research over the last fifty years.

Bundesamt fur Strahlenschutz, Germany’s radiation protection authority, announces that the country will restart international shipments of spent nuclear fuel for the first time in two years. After discovering widespread contamination, all rail movements of spent nuclear fuel were banned by Germany in 1998. The shipments from power plants Stade, Biblis and Philippsburg will travel to La Hague reprocessing plant in France. After the announcement, a group of nearly 2,000 anti-nuclear campaigners held a demonstration, voicing their opposition to the shipments and resistance to nuclear power generation and the radioactive waste it generates.

The Russian Foreign Ministry denies U.S. allegations that a joint statement issued by Presidents Putin and Clinton in Moscow on June 4, 2000 contained provisions stating that the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty should be amended. The U.S. allegation was included in a document released by the U.S. delegation to a disarmament conference in Geneva, Switzerland.

In arms control talks between the U.S. and Russia, Russia repeats its proposal for deep cuts in both countries' nuclear arsenals. A Russian Foreign Ministry statement says it supports a reduction in U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear warheads to 1,500 or below on each side under a START III treaty. Russia warns that the proposed reductions depend whether the U.S. abrogates the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty by deploying a National Missile Defense (NMD) system.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) reported that the amount of plutonium and other man-made radioactive elements released into the soil or buried in unsafe containers during the first four decades of nuclear weapons production is 10 times larger than it had estimated. Since 1987, the DoE has stated that more than 97 percent of radioactive waste was locked up in "retrievable" storage and would be deposited into a deep burial repository. They also claimed that only three percent was poured into the dirt or buried. Using a standard measure of radioactivity, DoE officials now say there is 10 times the amount of those wastes in the soil, leaving underground water supplies extremely vulnerable. The actual amount of material that has leaked into the soil at dump sites around the country remains unknown. If the radioactive elements concentrate and contaminate the food chain, they can cause cancers, even if ingested in small amounts.

The British Royal Navy recalls its fleet of "hunter killer" nuclear powered submarines after a decision on October 20, 2000 to cancel all operations following the discovery of a serious defect linked to the reactor system. The strike force of twelve nuclear submarines is expected to be out of commission for months. The decision comes after a detailed inspection of the HMS Tireless, which was docked in Gibraltar in May 2000, when damage was discovered in the pipework running from its nuclear reactor system.

The India Abroad News Service reports that India will increase its nuclear power generation capacity eight fold in the next twenty years. The country currently generates 2,720 Megawatts of power from fourteen nuclear reactors, which fulfills 2.5 percent of its total power requirement. The country’s goal is to reach 20,000 Megawatts of nuclear power generation by the year 2020, which will account for approximately 8 percent of the country’s power requirement. India was the first country in Asia to begin generating nuclear power when it set up two nuclear reactors in 1969. China has the most ambitious plan for nuclear power generation, with eight nuclear reactors under construction.

The first International Space Station crew blasts off, and General Vladimir Yakovlev, Russia’s nuclear missile chief, offers hundreds of Russian rockets to launch satellites. Old decommissioned missiles are often used to lift civilian or military satellites. General Yakovlev says he plans to sell decommissioned missiles to raise cash for the Russian armed forces. The proceeds could reach up to 20 billion rubles ($722 million USD), which is equivalent to about one tenth of Russia’s 2001 defense budget.

Khidhir Hamza, an Iraqi nuclear physicist who defected from his country in 1994, states that the U.S. report, Atomic Energy for Military Purposes, helped in designing a bomb for Saddam Hussein. Iraq’s nuclear weapons program began in the 1970s. According to Hamza, he found the Manhattan Project report at Iraq’s atomic energy library "in a corner with a pile of dust on them... sitting there telling me exactly what to do."

The Russian Foreign Ministry reports that it successfully completed a series of subcritical nuclear tests during the last week of October 2000 and that radiation levels were normal in the testing area. The Russian government has stated that subcritical tests or "hydrodynamic experiments" are necessary to ensure the safety of the country’s nuclear arsenal and theoretically are not accompanied by radioactive emissions.

Caribbean ministers repeatedly express concerns to Japanese Foreign Minister Kono that the transportation of Japanese spent fuel through the Caribbean Sea to Europe could damage tourism. Minister Kono reassures the ministers of the safety of the transportation, but fails to address the issue of perceived damage that can be caused even if no accident were to occur. Caribbean ministers argue that the mere fact that a ship with radioactive materials is passing through the Caribbean, could keep tourists from visiting the area, and they demand that such transportation plans be canceled.

The Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian Parliament) ratifies the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). The Ukraine was one of the remaining fourteen nuclear-capable states whose ratification is required for the CTBT’s entry into force.

A Global Citizens' Assembly for the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons is held in Nagasaki, Japan. The Assembly is the last anti-nuclear non-governmental organization (NGO) conference of the 20th century and is held in the last city bombed by an atomic weapon. Anti-nuclear NGO leaders from around the world join with Japanese citizens to generate a new vision for the 21st century based on activities and experiences of the past. At the conclusion of the Assembly, the Nagasaki Appeal is adopted.

The U.S. Department of Energy, reports that 10 metric tons of weapons-usable nuclear materials, which is enough to make at least 500 nuclear bombs, is secured at a storage facility in Siberia. The weapons-usable material was moved from three separate locations to a central site at Novosibirsk Chemical Concentration Plant as part of a joint U.S.-Russia effort to prevent proliferation to and theft by terrorists.

The United Nations General Assembly adopts the New Agenda Resolution, which underlines "the fundamental significance of the unequivocal undertaking by the nuclear-weapon States to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals leading to nuclear disarmament, to which all States parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty are committed under Article VI of the Treaty." The vote is 154 to 3, with 8 abstentions. The official UN resolution number is 55/33C.

The head of the United Nations Environment Program rejects proposals to accept nuclear energy as a means to slow global warming.

Japan’s Atomic Energy Commission decides to restart the experimental Monju fast-breeder reactor. The reactor was shut down in 1995 after an accident in which several tons of sodium leaked from its cooling system. The government defends its nuclear policy as vital to achieve long-term energy self-sufficiency. Plans to restart the reactor come amidst shaky public trust, especially after the nuclear industry’s history of mishaps, cover-ups, and accidents.

Thousands of protesters assemble in the streets of La Linea, Spain calling for the removal of the British submarine, HMS Tireless, from neighboring Gibraltar. Organizers of the protest report that more than 15,000 people are present to demand the deportation of the British nuclear-powered submarine, which has been stranded in Gibraltar since May 2000. British authorities recalled the entire fleet of twelve nuclear-powered submarines in October 2000, after a fault was discovered in the cooling system of the HMS Tireless.

The Russian chapter of Greenpeace vows to lead a fight against the decision made by the Central Election Commission to reject more than half a million signatures on a petition calling for a referendum that would ban the import of nuclear waste into the country. The Russian election authorities argued that they would not accept the petition because many of the signatures were not authentic. The referendum was issued in response to the Kremlin's plans to merge the Russian forestry, ecological and mining agencies and plans by Minatom, Russia's atomic energy agency, to import radioactive waste from other countries in exchange for monetary compensation. More than 2,490,000 signatures were reportedly gathered by environmentalists to pass the referendum that would guarantee that environmental and forestry agencies would remain independent and forbid the import of nuclear waste for storage and treatment.

The last reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear plant is shut down.

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) releases a "Strategy Report for Europe and NATO" outlining the U.S. vision of NATO’s role in deploying a national missile defense. The following is an excerpt from the report:"The NMD we envisage would reinforce the credibility of US security commitments and the credibility of NATO as a whole. Europe would not be more secure if the United States were less secure from a missile attack by a state of concern. An America that is less vulnerable to ballistic missile attack is more likely to defend Europe and common Western security interests than an America that is more vulnerable. As consultations proceed with our Allies on NMD, we realize that Allies will continue to consider the appropriate role of missile defenses in their respective national security strategies. In keeping with the fundamental principle of the Alliance that the security of its members is indivisible, the United States is open to discussing possible cooperation with Allies on longer-range ballistic missile defense, just as we have with our discussions and cooperation in the area of TMD. As President Clinton said in May 2000, ’every country that is part of a responsible international arms control and nonproliferation regime should have the benefit of this protection.’"

The U.S. conducts its fifth subcritical nuclear test of 2000 at an underground site in Nevada. The test, named Oboe 6, receives criticism and protest from antinuclear organizations and activists, who argue that the tests violate the heart and spirit of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. However, the U.S. Department of Energy maintains that the tests do not violate the treaty because no critical mass forms and no self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction occurs. Mayor Iccho Itoh of Nagasaki, Japan states, "This is a leap in the dark by a big nuclear country. The US continues to conduct nuclear tests while having agreed to a ’clear commitment to the abolishment of nuclear weapons’ at the NPT (Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty) review conference this May. I think its nuclear strategy will be denounced internationally."

The U.S. and Russia sign a Memorandum of Understanding on Missile Launch Notifications. The agreement will facilitate the provision on early warning information to the Joint Data Exchange Center (JDEC) in Moscow, and is intended to reduce the possibility of nuclear crises developing from false warnings of missile attacks. Under the agreement, Washington and Moscow are required to notify each other of missile and space launches, but allows some exceptions for national security concerns.

The Skull Valley Band of Goshutes living on a reservation in Utah agree to turn one square mile of the 17,000 acre reservation into one of the largest nuclear waste dumps in the US. Leon Bear, the Goshute tribal Chairman states that the project could be the only salvation for his dying tribe. The tribe needs the money as fewer than 30 Goshutes remain on the land where most live in run-down trailers and jobs are virtually non-existent. In exchange for the nuclear waste dump, Private Fuel Storage, a consortium of eight power companies, has pledged to give the Goshutes a first chance at the forty jobs the site will create and build a cultural center on the reservation to revive the tribe’s fading language and crafts. Opponents argue that the project will endanger the lives of those living on the land as well as the wildlife and regional economy.

The Japanese newspaper, Asahi Shimbun, reports that according to secret diplomatic records, Former Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone gave the U.S. approval in 1970 to bring nuclear weapons into his country. Declassified documents obtained by the Asahi Shimbun newspaper and Japanese scholars uncovered that Nakasone made a remark to allow nuclear weapons to be brought into Japan, despite a constitutional ban on possessing, producing or allowing the introduction of nuclear weapons into the country. The declassified documents record a meeting between Nakasone, then the director-general of the Japanese Defense Agency, and U.S. Defense Secretary Melvin Laird. Japanese records state that Nakasone told Laird that Japan would not need to develop its own nuclear weapons as long as the U.S. nuclear deterrent was in place. U.S. records also show that Nakasone indicated that Japanese defense policies should incorporate references to the U.S. readiness to provide nuclear protection for Japan, including the introduction of nuclear weapons in Japan. The issue of the U.S. nuclear umbrella is extremely controversial in Japan because of the country’s experience with the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well as the constitutional ban on aggressive warfare.

The Chilean government and Greenpeace protest the shipments of French-processed nuclear waste to Japan via Cape Horn because of its potential environmental hazards. The vessel "Pacific Swan" contains 76.8 tons of vitrified spent fuel, a highly radioactive product made of waste material from Japanese nuclear reactors. The ship is expected to arrive in Chile mid-January. Greenpeace states that because of protests from the Panamanian and Caribbean governments, the shipping company changed its route. A similar route to transport nuclear waste was last used in 1995 and at that time the Chilean Navy blocked the vessel from entering the country's 200-mile maritime limit.

The UK-based Oxford Research Group and Greenpeace release a report stating that the Plutonium Mixed Oxide (MOX) fuel produced by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TECO) is tainted. The MOX fuel is produced in Europe and intended for Japanese reactors. The report claims that, if used, the fuel will increase the risks of a catastrophic accident in the Japanese reactors. The report based its conclusions on claims that MOX fuel standards are low at the Belgonucleaire facility in Belgium and lacking vital quality control checks.