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The end of the US-Russian agreement on plutonium

Giancarlo Elia Valori



On October 3 last the Russian Federation suspended the agreement reached in 2000 with the United States to downblend the bilateral surplus plutonium for nuclear weapons. The two powers had 34 metric tons of weapons grade plutonium each, at least according to the agreement signed in June 2000, at the time of the famous Reset between Russia and the United States.

The above stated agreement was reconfirmed in 2010, .but President Obama’s 2017 budget submission proposes a “dilution and disposal” approach as enabling the plutonium to be disposed of sooner, at lower cost and with lower technical risk than conversion to mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel. Incidentally, some technological considerations are appropriate in this regard.

Mixed-oxide fuel, which accounts for 5% of the nuclear fuel currently used, consists of plutonium recovered from nuclear reactors mixed with depleted uranium, which can also produce electricity.

Hence, for budgetary and strategic reasons, President Obama has proposed halting the construction of a facility in South Carolina to downblend the plutonium into MOX fuel for use in commercial reactors.

However, regardless of the plutonium downblending technology, the MOX use had been defined in the 2010 agreement between Russia and the United States.

Hence, in essence, as early as last April, Vladimir Putin has been accusing the United States of not keeping their word, as they have failed to destroy military plutonium by instead permitting a reprocessing method that allows plutonium to be extracted and used again in nuclear warheads.

The bill Putin submitted to the State Duma sets out pre-conditions for the 2000 agreement to be resumed, including the reduction of US military infrastructure and troops in the countries that joined NATO after September 1, 2000, namely Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Putin also requires the lifting of all US sanctions against Russia and “compensation for the damage they have caused to the country.”

Furthermore, in May 2015, President Obama drew a line under the completed “Megatons to Megawatts” program by terminating a state of national emergency that had been declared in 2000 to help to ensure payments to Russia under the 1993 agreement.

The agreement regarded the US downblending of surplus military highly-enriched uranium that could not be assigned otherwise.

President Obama told Congress that “the conversion of 500 tons of highly-enriched uranium extracted from Russian nuclear weapons was over”.

In fact, in 1993, the US and Russian governments signed an agreement to purchase, over a 20-year period, 500 tons of Russian “surplus” highly-enriched uranium from nuclear disarmament and military stockpiles.

The material was bought by the United States for use as fuel in civil nuclear reactors.

Under the deal, the United States had to transfer to Russia a similar quantity of natural uranium to that used to downblend the highly-enriched uranium.

The deal was signed and complied with by Russia until last year.

The agreements suspended by Putin also include the Research & Development one signed in 2003 and again related to the nuclear sector.

We must consider, however, the complex strategic logic behind these seemingly quick Russian decisions.

The main shock was Ukraine.

During the Russian operations in the country, Putin and his aides launched many nuclear signals to NATO.

In March 2015 Putin said that he “could put the nuclear system on alert during Crimea’s annexation”.

Hence Russia still wants to “escalate to terminate” a possible nuclear attack on the EU and NATO, while continuing to perfect the sub-nuclear weapons and focusing on an increasing role of the nuclear strategy in its military posture towards the West.

A case in point was the simulated nuclear attack on Sweden in August 2015.

What is missing, in fact, is the implementation of the New Start Treaty signed in 2015 by Obama and Medvedev, which reduces to 1,550 the nuclear warheads available to each of the two countries.

The Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM) and the strategic bombers have been both reduced to 700 units.

The United States, however, have 741 launchers with 1,481 nuclear warheads, while Russia has 521 launchers with 1,735 warheads.

From this viewpoint, apart from the other military nuclear technologies, the United States and Russia have an equivalent potential. The difference is that the Russian weapons seem to be better and more effective than the American ones, from the technological and operational viewpoints.

Nevertheless the United States have not honoured the deal with Russia, thus instilling the legitimate doubt that much of the plutonium and uranium assigned by Russia is used by the United States for military purposes.

Putin, however, is right in substance and has probably not studied the US arguments and reasons well.

Let us go back in time: in the 1990s, the United States reported to have a surplus of 61.5 metric tons of plutonium out of a total equal to 90 metric tons, all intended for military use.

Russia had a stock of 180 metric tons of plutonium, 128 of which already adapted for military use, while also reporting to have a surplus of 50 metric tons of fissile material.

Plutonium is always hard to be downblended: either it is used to produce MOX, which is suitable for civil nuclear power plants, or it is “immobilized”, which means it is mixed with highly radioactive material, so that these substances can cover and prevent the radiation of plutonium itself.

However, with a with to making the radioactive material safe, a long and complex industrial process is needed.

The United States had started to build their own ad hoc facility along the Savannah River banks in South Carolina but, for various organizational and technical reasons, the cost of the project agreed with Russia proved to be not affordable for the federal government.

There is speculation that today the completion of the project agreed by the United States with Russia would cost over 30 billion dollars.

Hence President Obama stopped the construction of the facility in the Savannah River site.

At that juncture, the above stated dilute and dispose approach was developed.

It consisted in mixing plutonium with inert material and burying it underground in New Mexico.

As already noted, this is the reason why President Obama halted the construction of the facility in the Savannah River site and started the dilute and dispose project.

In the agreements with Russia, however, the only way to manage excess plutonium is the production of MOX – the dilute and dispose approach is not contemplated at all.

In fact, as underlined by Russia, this technique leaves the plutonium isotopic composition intact.

Hence there is the not remote possibility that plutonium can be extracted from the ground and used again for military purposes.

Therefore, at technical and political levels, Putin is right and, as also US scientists maintain, nothing prevents the buried plutonium from being really reused for military purposes.

However, both for technical and scientific reasons and for a cost analysis, the United States cannot really afford to convert all military plutonium into MOX.

Hence what can be done?

The US plutonium can be transferred to IAEA, which could downblend it in “third party” facilities, also under the Russian Federation’s control, or deal with a European nuclear country to downblend the US plutonium, again under Russian control.

Nevertheless, we must once again note the growing US military and technological backwardness, which seems ever more suited to an Iraq or Syria-style war rather than to a fair confrontation on an equal footing.

If the EU begins to think wisely on these issues, time will come to envisage a small pan-European nuclear military unit, particularly capable of seriously controlling its own borders.

But we already know that this is an impossible dream.

Advisory Board Co-chair Honoris Causa Professor Giancarlo Elia Valori is an eminent Italian economist and businessman. He holds prestigious academic distinctions and national orders. Mr Valori has lectured on international affairs and economics at the world’s leading universities such as Peking University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Yeshiva University in New York. He currently chairs "La Centrale Finanziaria Generale Spa", he is also the honorary president of Huawei Italy, economic adviser to the Chinese giant HNA Group and member of the Ayan-Holding Board. In 1992 he was appointed Officier de la Légion d'Honneur de la République Francaise, with this motivation: "A man who can see across borders to understand the world” and in 2002 he received the title of "Honorable" of the Académie des Sciences de l'Institut de France

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Why At Least Two Nuclear Super-Powers Are Essential

Eric Zuesse



My distinguished colleague at Strategic Culture Foundation, Federico Pieraccini, has recently argued that “nuclear-armed powers decrease the likelihood of a nuclear apocalypse”, and this is a response to that:

Obviously, if there were no nuclear-armed powers, then the possibility of a “nuclear apocalypse” would be zero; so, that statement is false on its very face. However, in a carefully modified form, I agree with something not too far different from it; and here is that form:

In the nuclear-weapons era, at least two nuclear super-powers are essential in order for there to be any realistic possibility of warding off a nuclear apocalypse, global annihilation.

Here, the concept of “nuclear super-power” is absolutely core (merely “nuclear-armed power” is not): a nuclear super-power is a nation that possesses second-strike capability, the ability to retaliate so effectively against a nuclear attack from any other nuclear power so as to annihilate that attacking country, even though this responding power might be annihilated by the attacking one.

As I have documented in prior articles (such as here), the United States, ever since at least 2006, has been virtually officially pursuing the goal of achieving “Nuclear Primacy” so as to be able to ‘win’ a nuclear war and conquer Russia — the prior military geostrategic system, called Mutually Assured Destruction or “M.A.D.,” being ended on the American side. (Russia’s Vladimir Putin says that it had actually ended when U.S. President George W. Bush made the — as was brilliantly explained here — “decision in 2001 to withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, and the bipartisan failure by both the Bush and Obama administrations to engage meaningfully with the Russians over their concerns about American missile defenses.”

However, I have argued that, in essence, the U.S. regime had already made the decision for nuclear primacy and secretly imposed that decision upon its allied or vassal-regimes as being henceforth the U.S. side’s aim, back on 24 February 1990, and that decision was made by George Herbert Walker Bush but has continued ever since. Putin is politic; so, he needs to filter what he says through a political screen, in which he refers to the United States as being a ‘partner,’ which I — myself an American and no politician at all and not representing any country at all — do not need to do.

Whereas the U.S. regime has been committed for a long time to achieving nuclear primacy (regardless whether it’s since 2006, or since 2001, or since 1990 — the initial decision was actually made on 24 February 1990, and has merely been in its execution-phase on the American side from that time till now), Russia has been responding to that decision as best it has been able to. A crucial effort on the part of Russian President Boris Yeltsin in the 1990s to deal with it produced the so-called “NATO Founding Act,” but the U.S. regime trashed that in 2016. President Putin recognized as soon as George W. Bush trashed the ABM Treaty, that unless Russia would somehow block the U.S. from achieving nuclear primacy (if any side even is capable of achieving nuclear primacy now or in the future), then a surprise intended planned nuclear first-strike against and annihilating Russia would be the outcome (given the U.S. regime’s by-then clear record on the matter); so, he has carefully worked, ever since that time (2002), so as to not only block it, but, finally, on 1 March 2018, announced to the entire world, that Russia is now able, reasonably and with evidence, to say that Russia is securely in a position so that if the United States attempts a surprise nuclear attack against Russia, then the United States will also be annihilated.

What is crucial here, during the nuclear-military age, is that there be at least two nuclear super-powers, not just one.

As I have argued elsewhere under the heading “The Three Global Suerpowers”: “There are currently three global superpowers, three nations that lead the world: China, Russia, and US.” However, this is true regardless of whether or not China is a nuclear super-power (I don’t think it is), because China is clearly a leading economic power, and may come to lead above the United States in other fields as well. In economic matters, the trend-lines are watched with at least as much and close attention as are the absolute or current numbers, and China, in any case, is clearly one of the three global super-powers already, regardless of whether it’s a military super-power.

What, then, will be the result if China comes to be a third nuclear super-power? The problem, if any, is not whether there will come to be a third nuclear super-power: the problem is whether there will, ever again, be a nuclear super-power that is attempting military conquest of the entire world. This was the point that Putin was making in his March 1st speech.

first published at

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Why Super-Rich Rush to Buy Nuclear-Proof Bunkers

Eric Zuesse



The rush amongst the super-rich started after the key event of 2014; this single stunning event suddenly sparked that rush by the super-rich to buy nuclear-proof bunkers, and the rush has been nonstop since that event. Though many news-media in The West have reported on the existence of this suddenly booming market for luxurious and supposedly nuclear-proof bunkers, none has reported on what actually caused it — the event that had sparked it. In fact, that event is still a secret in The West — not publicly mentioned here; it is, practically speaking, banned from being publicly even mentioned, in The West. So: since that event is necessarily mentioned in this article, and is even linked-to here, so that the reader can see videos of it that were posted of it online while it was happening, and there is even “smoking gun” evidence showing government officials actually planning it, and covering it up, and blatantly lying about what they had done, this report, explaining why the super-rich rush now to buy nuclear-proof bunkers, violates that ban. As a consequence, probably none of the hundreds of major news-media in The West that this news-report is being submitted to for publication, will publish it. But perhaps a half-dozen of the small ones will publish it. After all: a few small news-media cannot have much impact. The government and media don’t need to fool everyone in order to succeed, but only to fool the vast majority of people. (However, maybe now they don’t any longer even need to continue worrying about public opinion, at all. So: maybe they no longer need to continue such bans. But they do continue them, perhaps simply out of institutionalized bad habit.)

Wherever you’re so fortunate as to be reading this: here is the reason why the market for luxurious deep-underground nuclear-resistant bunkers has so suddenly blossomed:

In February 2014, an extremely violent, and US-engineered but ‘democracy’-masked, coup in Ukraine on Russia’s very doorstep, was successfully culminated by its overthrowing Ukraine’s neutralist and democratically elected leader, and then by its installing there a rabidly anti-Russian government, out for Russian blood, just like Hitler had been, and, in fact, strongly inspired by him, in many ways, including an ethnic-cleansing campaign. Within less than a month, Russia responded to that coup by accepting the still predominantly Russian Crimea back into Russia. (Crimea had been part of Russia until the Soviet dictator had arbitrarily transferred it to Ukraine in 1954.) For Russia’s having done that, US President Barack Obama (and America’s foreign vassals) slapped economic sanctions against Russia and mobilized NATO troops and weaponry onto and near Russia’s borders — as if they wanted to out-do 1962’s Cuban Missile Crisis, which they are doing, but in reverse direction (against not America, but, this time, against Russia).

Ever since that singular 2014 event — that coup (which destroyed Ukraine) — the hottest market amongst the super-rich has been nuclear-resistant bunkers deep underground: such as here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here, and here.

I think that the three best of these articles about luxury nuclear bunkers, are this (with the best pictures of one of these facilities) and this (with the best commentary about the entire phenomenon), and this, which discusses the increasing number of builders of these facilities. Some billionaires, however, are instead moving to New Zealand.

So: ever since 2014, private planning to survive a nuclear war is the most booming field amongst the super-rich. This is a real-estate market that no ordinary person could afford to buy into. These people are either principals themselves in the aristocracy, or else prime agents for them and thus likewise extremely wealthy and already well on their own personal ways to entering the aristocracy — the aristocracy of extreme wealth. They’re thus all well-connected; they’ve got the best contacts and sources inside governments. And, since 2014, they are rushing to prepare: to prepare for a nuclear war.

If these people aren’t well-informed about the global situation, then no one is. And they’re investing accordingly. Lots of people invest in stocks, bonds, gold, etc, but only the richest few can afford to invest in nuclear-resistant bunkers, and that’s where the boom nowadays especially is, amongst only the super-rich. (We’re not talking here about high government-officials; they’ve got their Spartan nuclear bunkers long-since paid for by US taxpayers; but these are all just private and extremely wealthy individuals.) Maybe their attitude is: if you’ve got three-or-more homes, then at least one of them should be designed for the post-WW-III world and near enough to your main home so that maybe you can reach it before any missiles will be flying.

A nuclear war between US and Russia would be over within less than 30 minutes, start-to-finish; so, there won’t be any time to plan if the nuclear phase of the NATO-v.-Russia (plus, maybe China) war appears to be imminent — waiting that long in order to depart for one’s private bomb-shelter would already be too late. A quick ‘vacation’ to the secret location would thus necessarily be of the unplanned sort, which means that the system by which the owner will reach the spot, needs to be operational 24 hours every day, and needs to be maintained continuously, until — if and when — the nuclear exchange starts. Therefore, these facilities have airports and helicopter-access, and are continuously staffed, so that the richest people in the US and its allied countries, can arrive there at any moment’s notice and receive the full range of services that they are accustomed to.

Any of these billionaires and centi-millionaires could have chosen instead to establish (either alone or in combination with one-another) the first foundation or other propaganda-operation to publicize the fraudulence of the US-and-allied case for sanctions against Russia, and the fraudulence of NATO’s continuing assertions after 1991 that it’s a ‘defensive’ military alliance (it’s no longer that, at all), and the fact (contrasted against that fraud) of NATO’s being nowadays purely an alliance for aggression against Russia and China, as if the Cold War had never ended (and it never really did end except on the Russian and Chinese side, which now recognize that the US and its allies had lied in 1990); so, all of these billionaires rather buy private nuclear-bomb shelters, than establish a foundation to expose to the public the US side’s apocalyptic lies, which actually cause the danger that’s heading to destroy the entire world.

America’s own leading scientists on strategic weaponry have recently (on 1 March 2017) documented that the US nuclear-weapons-modernization program against both Russia and China is “planning to have the capacity to fight and win a nuclear war by disarming enemies with a surprise first strike.” Obviously, only the most-insiders of insiders will know in advance about this “surprise first strike.” (Otherwise, it wouldn’t be a surprise, and the advantage of being the first to attack will be gone.) However, nuclear-proof bunker-space is presumably so limited so that the people who are buying these few spots will be amongst those few. (Of course, high federal officials will be taken care of elsewhere.)

Ever since at least 2006, America’s Establishment — its billionaires and their agents — have been virtually unanimously and actively supporting the abandonment of the “Mutually Assured Destruction” concept that had long dominated nuclear thinking on both sides (not only on the Soviet and continuing under the Russian side, but also on that of America and its NATO military alliance) and have been replacing that paradigm, the “M.A.D.” paradigm (which has staved off WW III ever since 1945). They replaced it by the US-NATO paradigm (ever since at least 2006) of “Nuclear Primacy,” in which The West’s nuclear weapons are to be used not to stave off WW III, but instead so as to achieve ‘victory’ in an actual US-v.-Russia nuclear war. Ever since 2014, US-and-allied military moves cannot be coherently explained on any other basis than that the US and NATO are planning a blitz nuclear attack against at least Russia — and perhaps also against China.

Clearly, whoever are buying these luxury-pads for the post-apocalypse, are hoping for a NATO ‘victory’ in WW III, and are certainly not favorably inclined to preventing that armageddon, which they know is based on lies (unless they’re too stupid to be able to distinguish between their own propaganda versus the actual historical reality, which is documented in the links here, which links show that any decent billionaire in The West would instead be publicly exposing the horrific fraud that’s perpetrated by all of themselves, not trying to protect themselves from that fraud’s immediate global consequences).

Unfortunately, these people are the ultimate “conformists.” It’s clear by their 100% unity on this. They’ve become so gated-community, one-way-glassed, that they’ve no concern remaining (if they ever did) for the billions of people (not to mention entire planet) that they’re placing into the severest form of danger: global annihilation. Instead, their only concern (quite evidently) is to be ‘winners’. (Like I had said at that last link: “In military parlance, the side that suffers the less harm is the ‘winner’, regardless of any other factor. That’s the basic reality of military strategy: it’s inevitably win-lose, not win-win.” However, M.A.D. was the first-ever exception to that strategic principle; and, now, it’s gone — as of 2006 in US, and by now also in Russia (if not also in China). M.A.D. is gone; it’s been replaced by a real insanity, which is clearly psychopathic and clearly pervasive amongst the super-rich: “Nuclear Primacy”.

The psychological reality that had long staved off a WW III is completely gone. And the people who have caused it to end are now buying all these nuclear bunkers for themselves.

In a rare exception to the unanimity of the US aristocracy’s voices regarding what’s behind this change (which cause is the stifling nazi or racist-fascist ideology at the top in America), the capitol-hill newspaper, The Hill, allowed to be published on 9 November 2017, an article — even with numerous links to high-quality sources — titled “The reality of neo-Nazis in Ukraine is far from Kremlin propaganda”. An indication of just how extraordinarily thorough the takeover of the US Government by nazis has become, is that both under President Barack Obama and under President Donald Trump, the US has been among the only 3 countries (in Obama’s case) and the only two countries (in Trump’s) that officially stood up at the United Nations in support of nazism, even of its Holocaust-denial. On both occasions, Ukraine joined with the US on that vote. On one occasion, Canada also did (thus being the third). This scandal was virtually entirely ignored in the Western ‘news’ media.

This is the world we are living in today. How many ‘news’ media are reporting this reality? How many have reported it? Just one billionaire standing out from the pack, so as to reach the masses with these truths, could make a whole world of difference. But, instead, perhaps they’re all just buying nuclear bunkers, so as to be amongst the few ‘winners’, in a war on behalf of the global regime that represents, actually, only themselves.

This is the catastrophe of our times.

First published at

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5 Missile Test in Two Months: India’s Attempt to create Credible Minimum Deterrence in South Asia



In 2018, the world is more concerned about nuclear issues that the Trump administration is generating whether it is regarding fast growing capabilities of North Korea or infamous Nuclear Posture Review by residing government in Capitol Hill. The focus of all nuclear issues around the globe is the US, which is of the view that its total inventory of 6800 nuclear warheads is not enough to deter North Korea whose total stock of nuclear weapon is not more than 2 dozen.

With all the limelight on the US, continuous and rapid nuclearization by South Asian dark horse is ignored completely. May be this ignorance is a pathway provided to India, to sail freely in the ocean of arms buildup to seize every possible opportunity. India is also not shy of taking advantage of deliberate ignorance of international community on arms race in South Asia. It is improving its nuclear arsenals inventory with rapid speed before Trump administration loses its charm of capturing wider attention. By giving hype to Trump administration’s foolish ideas many international issues of significance are sidelined which requires a lot more attention and efforts for greater peace. One of the most important issues is arms race in South Asia and inability of conflicting parties to control it.

Year 2018 is also not very different for South Asia’s nuclear pattern, that started two months ago and so far, one side has tested 5 missiles including 4 nuclear capable missile tests and one anti-tank missile tests. This series of test was started by India with rather big explosion by testing its intercontinental ballistic missile Agni V. Agni V is a three-stage solid fueled missile with an estimated operational range of 5,500 to 5,800 km. it is capable of carrying 1,500 kilotons of nuclear payload and is declared as an Indian attempt to strive for credible minimum deterrence against China. Since 2012 it was the fifth time Agni V was tested; it was a developmental test to induct ICBM into operational service.

After the test of ICBM Agni V in January 2018, India tested three more nuclear capable missiles in the month of February. On 6th February 2018, Agni-I which is a short range ballistic missile was test fired by India’s Strategic Force Command at annual training cycle to test the operational readiness of India’s missile force. Range of Agni-I is 700 to 900 km and can be armed with 1000 kilograms of conventional or nuclear payload. After testing its long range and short-range missile systems India was not satisfied with the effect of these tests and went further ahead with some more display of its credible minimum deterrence. On the very next day of testing Agni-I, India test fired third nuclear capable ballistic missile of 2018. This time India’s weapon of choice was surface to surface short range tactical ballistic missile with 350 km range which is single stage, liquid fuel missile capable of carrying 500-1000 kilogram of nuclear or conventional payload and is already in service since 2003.

Then on February 20, 2018 India again tested it’s another nuclear capable ballistic missile Agni-II which is medium or intermediate range from Integrated Test Range on Abdul Kalam Island in Bay of Bengal. Agni-II is a two stage, solid fueled with estimated range of 2000-3000 km which can carry conventional or nuclear warhead of 1000 kilogram. Agni-II is considered as a backbone of India’s land based deterrent force. Thus, it is road, rail mobile and according to media reports entire trajectory of trial was tracked with sophisticated radars, telemetry observation stations and two naval ships located near impact point in the down range area of Bay of Bengal.

After tests of nuclear capable ballistic missiles ranging from ICBMs to short range, it was not enough and India went one step ahead in display of credibility of its nuclear arsenals and tested its third generation anti-tank guided missiles in desert condition against two tanks.

Testing its nuclear arsenals to display the credibility of its nuclear deterrence to ward off the enemy is the right of every state. However, India’s display of its nuclear capability in such massive and fast manner must not be compared to credible minimum deterrence. As on India’s part testing all kinds of nuclear missiles and hurrying to operationalize them is the quest for credible deterrence rather than credible minimum deterrence. When India’s former National Security Advisor, Shivshankar Menon mentioned in his book “Inside the Making of India’s Foreign Policy” that India’s nuclear doctrine is much flexible than it is given the credit for, was right. So, even after testing 5 missiles India is linking credible minimum deterrence to military ambitiousness and declaring that these threats are its lowest possible efforts in response to the two tier threat originating from China and Pakistan

Alarming in this regard is silence of international community that is preoccupied with issues Trump administration is causing to seek attention. Moreover, lack of interest by international spectators to resolve the issues in South Asia is triggering the arms race in the region. Another significant aspect of conflict resolution approach suggested by international scholars is the imposition of a lot of conditions on Pakistan which is not a sensible approach for attaining peace and stability as peace and stability are hardly acquired on the basis of discrimination.

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