Old Saint Basil's Cathedral in MoscowJohnson's Russia List title and scenes of Saint Petersburg
Excerpts from the JRL E-Mail Community :: Founded and Edited by David Johnson

JRL #5592: Plain Text

Issue No. 3
Special issue on themes relating to September 11
December 2001
Editor: Stephen D. Shenfield shenfield@neaccess.net

Introducing the issue
1. Alexander Verkhovsky. September 11 and the Orthodox anti-globalism of the Moscow Patriarchate
2. Isabelle Facon. A turning point in Russian civil-military relations?
3. Sergei Aryutunov. Coming of age in the Caucasus
4. The Islamist opposition in Saudi Arabia
5. Living conditions and attitudes to emigration of Russian weapons experts
6. Storage of nuclear materials in Russia and the CIS



The third issue of the JRL Research and Analytical Supplement departs from the usual format in order to bring together a number of pieces that in one way or another relate to September 11 and its aftermath.

The first two pieces analyze the ambivalent attitudes of two Russian institutions to the anti-terrorist campaign. In an article specially written for this issue, Alexander Verkhovsky of the Moscow PANORAMA Group discusses the reaction of the Russian Orthodox Church, while Isabelle Facon of the Paris Foundation for Strategic Research places Russian policy concerning the anti-terrorist campaign in the context of civil-military relations.

The next two pieces aim to contribute to a better understanding of the sources and character of Islamist (or "Islamic fundamentalist") movements in different parts of the world. Although there are common themes linking all these movements, we must start from the specific conditions of particular countries and regions. We cannot assume that Islamist movements have the same role and meaning in Pakistan as in Palestine, in Turkey as in Tajikistan. Sergei Aryutunov of the Moscow Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology considers the cultural and socio-economic roots of Islamism in the Northern Caucasus. Then, drawing on a study by Mamoun Fandy, I analyze the politics of the Islamist opposition in Saudi Arabia, in which Osama Bin Laden has played a major part.

Islamist terror has imparted a new urgency to the longstanding problem of nuclear proliferation. Russia's vast stocks of nuclear material and its impoverished weapons scientists constitute invaluable resources to which those seeking to acquire nuclear weapons, including terrorists, might gain access. In the last two pieces of the issue, I discuss these risks on the basis of recent reports from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

-- The editor.




By Alexander Verkhovsky (Information-Expert Group PANORAMA, Moscow)
[translated by the editor]

Practically all of Russia's public figures have responded to the monstrous attack of September 11. Nor has the Russian Orthodox Church remained silent -- either its leaders or its politically active clerics and laymen.

Radical nationalist and anti-Western figures in the Church, as outside it, have used the events of September 11 and the US counteractions as a pretext for anti-American propaganda. Characteristic public statements assert that the acts of terror in New York and Washington were probably organized by the American and Israeli special services. Both leaders of Zhirinovsky's party and radical communists and nationalists have said this.

Church leaders have, of course, said nothing of the kind. Indeed, when the head of the Church's department of external ties, Metropolitan Kirill (Gundyaev), declared that "from the Christian point of view the Americans have the right to strike back," he was sharply criticized by Orthodox conservatives and fundamentalists.

Patriarch Alexii II has repeatedly expressed the general position of the Church leadership in the following terms: "From the Christian point of view, evil must be punished, but innocent people must in no way suffer." (1)

It is naturally impossible to ensure that "innocent people in no way suffer." Nor will the first military action be the last. And the question is what attitude to take to that. The Patriarch's stance was quite rigid: as early as September 15 he declared that until the exact identity of the terrorists was proven "nobody should be accused of this crime, let alone decisions taken to make bombing strikes," and that the use of force would lead only to a chain reaction of terror and even to a new world war. (2) He repeated more or less the same thing on October 8, just before the bombing of Afghanistan.

In the ongoing propaganda war between pro-Western and anti-Western forces in Russia, the argument to the effect that resisting terror by force is useless is, for all its absurdity, one of the anti-Westerners' main cliches, calculated to appeal to the mass consciousness. Thus without making any ideological or political declarations the Patriarch in effect associated himself with the anti-Westerners.

The Church's position must, however, be viewed in a broader context. For the last 2 or 3 years, Patriarch Alexii and Metropolitan Kirill have been justifying a specific stance on world affairs and the process of globalization. Their position was officially laid out in a document adopted in August 2000, entitled "Foundations of the Social Concept of the Russian Orthodox Church":

"Spiritual and cultural expansion fraught with total unification [of humanity] should be opposed by the joint efforts of Church, state, civil society, and international organizations with a view to promoting a truly equitable and mutually enriching exchange of information and cultural values, combined with efforts to protect the identity of nations and other human communities.

… While always open to cooperation with people of non-religious convictions, the Church seeks to assert Christian values in the process of decision-making on the most important public issues at both the national and the international level. It strives for recognition of the legitimacy of the religious worldview as a basis of social action (including by the state) and as a vital factor influencing the development of international law and the work of international organizations." (3)

There is, of course, nothing objectionable in the fact that the Russian Orthodox Church, as a religious body, calls upon the world community to take its faith into account as much as possible. But what might such appeals mean -- what do they already mean -- in practice?

Within the Church there flourishes a powerful anti-globalist movement based upon the ideas of Orthodox fundamentalism. Moreover, the lower one goes in the Church hierarchy, the farther from the control of the Patriarchate, the more radical this movement becomes. (It may be supposed that the ideological discourse recently adopted by Metropolitan Kirill is only a concession to this movement, but that does not change the essence of the matter.)

In the fall of 2000, the fundamentalists mounted a campaign against the introduction of individual taxpayer numbers, alleging that the "satanic" number 666 had been implanted into the bar codes. Since the Patriarchate itself took up their complaints, many people began to perceive it as a moderate representative of the fundamentalists.

The idea proposed by the Church that multiculturalism should shape international law appears especially problematic. Contemporary international law is based on modern European law, and not on Islamic or Byzantine law. Metropolitan Kirill does not explain how all this can be combined -- which is not surprising, as it is quite difficult to imagine.

The events of September 11 might have prompted the Church leaders to reconsider their approach, but they merely repeated the same ideas in the same problematic context. Here is what Metropolitan Kirill said on September 17:

"Events may now develop in accordance with either of two scenarios. The first and more frightening scenario is an attempt in response to change the Moslem peoples by force, to make them transform themselves and forever give up their inner freedom. That way looms the specter of a global Christian-Moslem confrontation…

There is a second scenario. This is a transition to the peaceful coexistence of various value systems -- religious, philosophical, cultural. There are many such systems in the world, and behind each stand tens or hundreds of millions, in some cases more than a billion, people. It cannot be permitted that only one of them should dominate and be considered "pan-human," while the others -- be it Islam or be it consistent Christianity -- are humiliated. Each value system must have its proper degree of influence upon the development of international law, and be taken into account when decisions are taken at the world level. If this happens, we shall knock the ground from under the terrorists' feet. No longer will they be able to appeal to public opinion by decrying an unjust world order." (4)

First of all, Metropolitan Kirill here repeats the anti-Western propaganda cliché according to which the USA intends to wage war to "teach" the Moslems to give up Islam. Secondly, he proposes to take account of Islamic norms in international relations to such an extent that Moslem terrorists will no longer be able to "decry an unjust world order." But, after all, these terrorists themselves adhere to fundamentalist views, and are therefore disinclined to take any account of other religious or secular norms. From their point of view, the world order will be just only when it is based on the Shariat [Moslem law]. Such a prospect can hardly be to the liking of Metropolitan Kirill, and no doubt it is not what he has in mind. Once again he has resorted to a propagandistic device in order to reaffirm his general concept of the "equality" of cultural and legal systems.

And once again this concept is not elaborated upon in any way, prompting the thought that it is not meant to be elaborated upon, and that what is valued in it is the "defensive" assertion that "general human values" must not predominate over the values of the Orthodox Church -- at least not in Russia and its strategic outposts (in Yugoslavia and Ukraine, for instance). And it is quite natural for the Church to make such an assertion.

The problem is that the theories of the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church have a broader resonance, influencing society as a whole, including such aspects of secular affairs as foreign policy alliances, which are in principle none of the Church's business. And this influence tends strictly in an anti-Western and anti-liberal direction. In the present instance, it exerts pressure on the country's political leadership to distance itself as far as possible from the anti-terrorist coalition that is taking shape, which may have very far-reaching consequences for Russia.


(1) Gazeta.Ru 9/18/2001 [http://www.gazeta.ru/2001/09/18/pravoslavnaa.shtml]

(2) Pravoslavie.Ru 9/15/2001 [http://www.pravoslavie.ru/news/010917/01.htm]

(3) http://www.orthodox.org.ru/sd00e.htm

(4) Prizrak Apokalipsisa. Vystuplenie mitropolita Smolenskogo i Kaliningradskogo Kirilla. Trud 9/20/2001


1. Seeking common ground with Islam against Western civilization is not a new tendency in Eastern Orthodoxy. In the early middle ages Orthodox Christian mystics in Greece and Russia expressed their opposition to the Roman Catholic Church in the motto: "Better the turban than the tiara." [See the essay by G. V. Miloslavsky in the booklet "Islam v SNG" (Islam in the CIS) published in 1998 by the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.]

2. The movement against "globalization" takes a variety of forms in Russia, as it does elsewhere. It may take isolationist and obscurantist forms like the religious fundamentalism that Alexander Verkhovsky has described above or the "Eurasianist" ideology of Alexander Dugin -- forms that are indeed anti-Western and anti-liberal. But it may also take a form more consistent with modern liberal democratic values. See, for instance, the article on Russia and the international "anti-globalization" movement by Dmitry Glinsky, senior research associate at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences and co-author (with Peter Reddaway) of "The Tragedy of Russia's Reforms: Market Bolshevism Against Democracy" (Washington, DC: U.S. Institute of Peace Press, 2001) at http://oppozitsiya.narod.ru/N34_Glinski.htm




Isabelle Facon (Fondation pour la Recherche Strategique, Paris)
Original source: Insight Vol. 1, Issue 5 (September 15, 2001) at Post-Soviet Armies Newsletter, ed. Elisabeth Sieca-Kozlowski [http://www.psan.org/]. Reproduced in edited form with author's consent.

Civil-military relations in Russia have been less hectic under President Putin than under his predecessor. Putin has devoted more attention to the fate of the army and to strengthening its combat capabilities. He has been helped to do so by the improvement in the budgetary situation since 1999. But there are still many sources of tension. Putin has tried hard to overcome the resistance to military reform from some elements of the army apparatus and its traditional reluctance to outside control of military affairs. This is reflected in the appointment in March 2001 of a former KGB general, Sergey Ivanov, as defense minister.

In this context, Putin's efforts to improve Russia's relationship with the United States as a result of the September 11 terrorist attacks could prove decisive in the development of civil-military relations. The US military presence in Central Asian countries neighboring Afghanistan has produced negative reactions on the part of military officials. Some fear that the military operation in Afghanistan may heighten instability in a region that they consider vital to Russia's security. Others think it likely that the US will use the situation to establish a long-term presence in the region, to the detriment of Russian security and economic interests. From this point of view, the anti-Taliban operation is a continuation of efforts by the US in recent years to reduce the dependence on Russia of the armed forces of the Central Asian states.

The Russian military in general remains wary of American designs concerning their country. Especially after Putin's decisions to close down the Russian military bases in Cuba and Vietnam -- rightly or wrongly seen in Russian military circles as further concessions to the US in the wake of September 11 -- Putin is under strong pressure to get concessions from Washington in return in the sphere of arms control and strategic stability. Much of Russia's High Command still views the Cold War structure of arms control agreements as a very important component of the country's residual status in the world. The recent softening of Putin's stance on NATO enlargement and on US plans for an anti-missile shield may be accepted by the Russian military without too much resentment only if accompanied by serious guarantees that the cuts promised in US strategic nuclear forces will be implemented. (Some US officials also stress the continuing need for a sound mechanism to verify the destruction of strategic nuclear forces.)

Putin appears to be heeding the concerns of his generals. The contribution Russia has agreed to make to the "anti-terrorist coalition," as described by Putin on September 24, takes their sensitivities into account. There is to be no direct Russian military involvement, and use of Russian airspace will be allowed only for humanitarian missions. On the eve of his visit to the US, Putin insisted on preservation of the ABM treaty and a formal agreement regarding cuts in nuclear arsenals.

Putin's caution is linked to his determination to make the current moment a turning point for civil-military relations in Russia. Over recent weeks Putin has pushed hard on military reform. And signs have been growing that the Russian government is trying to move forward toward a settlement in Chechnya. Both issues are very sensitive for civil-military relations.

Since Putin came to power he has managed to push through reforms in many spheres. Moreover, the Russian military is definitely not monolithically conservative and anti-American. But one may wonder whether Putin's leadership and consensus-building skills will suffice to cope with military opposition to the scale and speed of change in both domestic and foreign affairs. Especially should the newborn Russian-US "anti-terrorist alliance" yield no long-term benefits for Russia's international standing.




These are my notes of a lecture delivered at Brown University (Providence, Rhode Island, US) on November 30, 2001 by Sergei Aryutunov, head of the Department of the Caucasus at the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow. In the lecture, which was part of a series in honor of the centennial of the eminent American anthropologist Margaret Mead, Professor Aryutunov explained how current cultural and socio-economic conditions in the Northern Caucasus, especially in Daghestan, are conducive to the growth of Islamic fundamentalism. I have omitted the first section of the lecture, which was devoted to the influence of Mead's work on anthropologists in the USSR and post-Soviet Russia. -- ed.

The traditional societies of ethnic communities in the Northern Caucasus were rigidly stratified. The most elaborate social structure was that of the Circassians in the north-western Caucasus. They had 12 strata -- from princes (and a special stratum of bastards of princes!), nobles, and three ranks of knights through yeomen (free farmers) and peasants down to serfs, semi-slave serfs, and full slaves, who were mostly recent captives and were treated like animals.

Most other ethnic groups had about 4 strata. The most important dichotomy was that between freemen or "uzden" (knights and yeomen) and unfree "kur" (peasants, serfs, and slaves). The Chechens were unique in that they were all "uzden" (yeomen), although they kept non-Chechen captives as slaves.

"Kur" and "uzden" were brought up with different values. "Kur" learned to value honest decent agricultural and cattle-rearing labor. "Uzden" -- and especially knights and above -- were taught to view war, sudden raids, robbery, abduction of cattle and brides as indicators of courage and noble behavior.

The purpose of robbery was never that of adding to one's personal wealth. Cattle that had been abducted on a raid were either distributed as gifts or slaughtered for big feasts to which all neighbors were invited.

An important institution among some North Caucasian peoples, especially the Circassians, was "atalyk" (step- fatherhood). The son of a prince or noble would be brought up by a step-father, a man at least two ranks lower in the social hierarchy than his biological father, to whom he would return only at age 15. As soon as a baby boy was born in a princely household, the knights would vie or even fight with one another for the honor of being the child's step-father. The man chosen would find a wet-nurse and take the baby the next day. It was his duty to teach his step-son horse-riding, fencing, archery, and the use of a rifle. The only productive skill the boy would learn was how to take care of sheep and cattle, because it might take him several weeks to bring home livestock abducted on a raid on a distant village.

One consequence of "atalyk" was deep alienation between fathers and sons. Girls were not affected, so relations between mothers and daughters were much closer.

There is a story that illustrates the strength of the custom that a man of high rank must not be seen to concern himself with the care of his underage son. A man was standing with his friends on the flat roof of his house, discussing military affairs, when his young son, a toddler, wandered up there and came dangerously close to the edge. Without seeming to pay the least attention or pausing, he stepped as if by chance on the hem of the child's robe until the mother heard his cries and rushed to pick him up. Thereby he saved his son's life, but "inadvertently."

Besides the step-father, older male relatives such as uncles and grandfathers would also teach the growing boy how to behave. The son of a noble must never say: "I belong to such-and-such a family." Only kur "belong" to anyone. He must say: "I come from such-and-such a family."

Members of a household had to observe strict rules concerning avoidance. In particular, a daughter-in-law had to avoid her father-in-law for up to 10 years after her marriage. They must not meet or see one another, let alone speak to one another. In addition to the division of the house into two separate sections, this required two sets of doors -- one set used only by the older men, the other only by the younger women.

Tsarist rule did not change these customs much. Russian culture had much less impact on the Northern Caucasus (with the partial exception of North Ossetia) than it had on Georgia and Armenia, which effectively became part of Europe after joining the Russian Empire.

What was the impact of Soviet rule? The traditional structure was affected in different ways in different places. Thus among the Karachai kur (serfs) managed to take and hold on to power. Officials of serf origin discriminated against people of knightly origin. But a more typical situation was that in Kabarda, where uzden remained openly dominant.

In general, peasant values went out of use in the Soviet period, and were replaced by knightly values throughout the population. Even where "kur" were in power, they did not publicize their true origins, but pretended to be noble. The usual Soviet attitude that it was OK to steal from the state took an extreme form in the Northern Caucasus, where stealing from the state was elevated to the status of a positive virtue. Boys were taught: When you can steal, you must steal, it is right and manly.

What had previously been the values of only one section of each ethnic group came to be identified as ethnic or "national" values. Just as in Japan Bushido, the Way of the Samurai, was transformed by the state in the early 20th century into the national code of Yamato, so in Circassian society the Knight's Way, an exact replica of Bushido, became the Circassian Way.

Atalyk was no longer possible under the Soviet regime, but the traditional alienation between father and son remained. Fathers continued to take little part in the upbringing of their sons.

Avoidance rules are observed even today. Husband and wife do not go out to the movies together, and a woman will not speak at a public meeting out of fear that her father-in-law may be sitting in the audience.

Nevertheless modern attitudes are more commonly found among women than men. The average level of education of women is higher. Almost all teachers and physicians are women. Young men will not enter those professions, preferring a military, business, or criminal career.

Traditional structures were able to adapt to the Soviet order, but they are being deeply undermined by post-Soviet conditions. The big change is that young men have lost all respect their elders.

In Soviet times, a young man could say to himself: "I needn't worry. My father will use his connections or bribe someone to get me into university. If I feel like it I can study, but even if I don't he'll make sure I get my diploma. Then he'll find some relative who will help me get started on a career. And when he decides the time has come for me to marry, he'll find me a suitable bride."

But the old connections are now broken. Only money matters, and few fathers have enough to pay all the necessary bribes. Why should the young man respect his father or the village elders, who are no longer able to help him? So he looks for a substitute "father" who can help him.

Such a "father" may be the boss of a criminal or semi-criminal business. If there is an armed conflict in progress, a field commander may play the role. And if the young man lives in a part of the Caucasus where Islam is strong, his new "father" may well be a fundamentalist preacher with plenty of money from Saudi Arabia. Perhaps someone with links to Bin Laden and Al-Saiqa.

Islam can take many different forms. Islam has existed in Tatarstan for almost 1,000 years, but it has not impeded social development, and today Tatarstan is the most cultured and prosperous part of the Russian Federation after Moscow and St. Petersburg.

In the Caucasus there is a sharp contrast between the north-west and the north-east. Islam came to the north-west from the Crimean Khanate only in the 17th and 18th centuries, and its impact has been quite superficial. In the north-east -- Chechnya and especially Daghestan -- Islam is much more deeply rooted.

Daghestan became Moslem as early as the 7th century. Even in the worst years of Soviet rule, schools teaching Arabic literacy and the Koran managed to operate. Islam forms the core of society.

In every jamaat (village community) you will now find two mosques. The mullah of one will be an old man who adheres to traditional Sufi Islam and recognizes adat (customary law). The other mosque will have an active young mullah -- a so-called Salafi or "true Moslem," educated in Saudi Arabia or the Emirates, who recognizes only Shariat (Islamic law) and accuses his older rival of all imaginable heresies and sins. Most of the younger men, and some of the middle-aged too, support him. His ultimate goal, proclaimed openly in private conversation, is an Islamic state based on the Shariat.

So there is a high probability that the culture of Islamic fundamentalism will take root in the north-eastern Caucasus. It all depends on economic conditions. If young people can be taught practical professional skills and provided with jobs in which they can put those skills to use and earn a decent living, then the advance of Islamic fundamentalism can be halted. And there are a few signs of economic recovery in some parts of the Caucasus. But in Daghestan the economic situation keeps on deteriorating.




SOURCE. Mamoun Fandy. Saudi Arabia and the Politics of Dissent. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999.

One of the contexts in which Usama bin Laden has been active is that of Islamist opposition politics in Saudi Arabia. The best informed and most objective study of the Saudi Islamist opposition is that of Mamoun Fandy, who examined numerous original sources and interviewed many of the leading activists.

The very existence of an Islamist opposition in Saudi Arabia seems at first glance paradoxical. In countries with a secular form of government, the goal of Islamists is to establish an Islamist state based on Shariat. But Saudi Arabia, after all, claims already to be such a state. Moreover, the Islam that serves as its state religion consists of the fundamentalist teachings of the 19th-century religious reformer Wahhabi, alliance with whom brought the House of Saud to power.

The trouble is that the Sauds do not live up to the official ideals. In any ideocratic society, it is natural for dissent to take the form of purist denunciation of the rulers for betraying the faith of which they are supposed to be the guardians. Just as socialist dissidents in the USSR accused Stalin and his successors of betraying Leninism, so do Saudi dissidents accuse the Sauds of betraying the Wahhabi legacy.

Nevertheless, there were variations in how Soviet dissidents understood "true socialism," and there are variations in how Saudi dissidents understand "true Islam." The nature and political significance of these variations are not widely realized, and one of the great merits of the author is that he explains them.

The institutional base of the Islamist opposition is the official clerical hierarchy. For while al-Baz and other leading clerics carefully maintain the public appearance of loyalty to the Sauds, they allow a certain scope to the activity of dissident clerics, with whose views they apparently sympathize to some degree. These dissident clerics do not belong to any opposition organizations, but the ideas they express in their sermons, sound tapes of which are widely circulated, have enormous influence on the whole Islamist opposition.

The two most popular of the dissident preachers are Sheikh Safar al-Hawali and Salman al-'Auda. The messages they convey are similar in many respects, but there is also a significant difference in their world outlooks.

Al-Hawali perceives the US and the West in a totally negative light as enemies of Islam and Moslems. He attributes the hostility of the US to the influence not only of Jews but also of Christian fundamentalists. Al-'Auda, in contrast, makes a distinction between US foreign policy toward the Moslem world and Western ideals of democracy, freedom of expression, and human rights, which he admires and does not regard as incompatible with Islam. What he condemns is not Western values as such, but rather the hypocrisy of Western behavior.

The first opposition organization discussed by Fandy is the Committee for the Defense of Legitimate Rights headed by Muhammed al-Mas'ari. Al-Mas'ari set up office in London, whence he bombarded Saudi Arabia with faxes exposing the corruption and incompetence of the Sauds. An attempt by the British government to deport him at Saudi request was defeated in the courts. Al-Mas'ari gained extensive publicity in the Western media, and acquired a misleading image as a fighter for human rights. In fact, the term "legitimate rights" in the title of his committee means "Shariat rights" -- that is, rights that are recognized by Islamic law, not human rights in the usual modern sense.

Later al-Mas'ari started to pay less attention to specifically Saudi issues as he got more involved in extremist pan-Islamic activism. This led to a split within the Committee for the Defense of Legitimate Rights, the original agenda of which was taken over by Sa'd al-Faqih and his Movement for Islamic Reform in Arabia.

Al-Faqih, like al-'Auda, has a complex and far from unremittingly hostile attitude toward the West. He professes to admire Western efficiency and professionalism, as exemplified by the postal and medical services he discovered on a visit to England -- qualities in short supply in his homeland. With some provisos, he also admires Western democracy, arguing that it is in closer accordance with Islamic ideals of justice and shura (government by consultation) than are most Middle Eastern regimes.

The next figure examined by Fandy is Usama bin Laden -- a name less well known at the time the book was written than it is now. Bin Laden established an organization called the Advice and Reform Committee. His outlook owes much to al-Hawali, although bin Laden is even less sophisticated.

The last figure considered is Sheikh Hassan al-Saffar, leader of the Shi'a Reform Movement in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province. Although Saudi Arabia is predominantly Sunni and Wahhabism is a branch of Sunni Islam, there is a substantial Shi'a minority, especially in the eastern part of the country. The Shi'a have traditionally been excluded from power and subjected to discrimination.

Initially the Shi'a movement in Saudi Arabia had close ties with the Shi'a regime in neighboring Iran, and supported Ayatollah Khomeini's "Islamic revolution." In recent years the orientation of the movement has undergone a radical shift. On the one hand, al-Saffar has moderated his rhetoric and sought -- with some success -- to have his movement accepted by the regime as a loyal opposition. On the other hand, he now stresses democratic values like pluralism, openness, and tolerance, in accordance with the interests of the Shi'a community as a religious minority.

It was a revelation to me to learn from this book that Islamism can be such a heterogeneous phenomenon, and in particular that it need not be hostile to Western civilization understood in a broad sense. It is rightly part of the official position of the anti-terrorist coalition that Islam as a religion is not the enemy. But perhaps it is possible and necessary to go further than this and declare that even Islamism -- that is, political movements acting in the name of Islam -- is not necessarily an enemy, and that an accommodation with it can be reached.


A useful sociological study of the attitudes of young people in Saudi Arabia today is: Mai Yamani, Changed Identities: The Challenge of the New Generation in Saudi Arabia (London: Royal Institute of International Affairs, 2000).

An illuminating history of Islamist dissent in Saudi Arabia is at: http://www.miraserve.com/englishnew.htm




SOURCE. Valentin Tikhonov. Russia's Nuclear and Missile Complex: The Human Factor in Proliferation. A Report by the Non-Proliferation Project of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington DC. The full report in English can be downloaded from www.ceip.org/npp

In an earlier issue we discussed the financial straits in which Russia's "ZATO archipelago" of closed cities finds itself (RAS issue #1, item 1). Valentin Tikhonov, a leading researcher at the Institute of Economic Forecasts of the Russian Academy of Sciences, examines the effect of economic stringency on the living and working conditions of the nuclear-weapon and missile experts in these cities. How likely is it that some of them will resort to selling their skills to countries or organizations seeking to acquire nuclear weapons?

Tikhonov supervised the interviewing of weapons experts in the summer of 1999 at 13 research, design, and production facilities in closed cities. 80-100 interviews were conduced at each facility. The experts worked on nuclear and chemical weapons (in the "nuclear cities") or on missiles and space satellites (in the "missile cities"). The figures that follow pertain to the experts working in the nuclear cities.

One indicator of economic distress is the fact that nearly 60 per cent of the individuals interviewed were working on the side (moonlighting) to earn extra money, while many more said they would moonlight were it not so difficult to find opportunities to do so in the closed cities.

Yet even earning money on the side, the weapons experts were unable to ensure what they regarded as a reasonable subsistence for themselves and their families. This would have required an income of US $160 a month -- four times as great as their regular pay and twice as much as their total earnings from their regular jobs plus moonlighting.

Attitudes to the option of working abroad depend on age. Half of the experts under 30 want to work abroad, but only 10 per cent or less in the older age groups. But even for those who want to go abroad many fears and obstacles stand in the way of actually doing so -- not least the lack of money to pay for the journey itself!

The preferred destinations of nearly three quarters of those seeking to work abroad were in Europe or North America. Only 10 per cent wanted to go to the Middle East and 6 per cent to Asia, with another 6 per cent willing to go anywhere.

Respondents were invited to name three countries to which they would NOT go under any circumstances. The countries named most often were:

Iraq by 59 per cent of weapons experts

Pakistan by 42 per cent of weapons experts

Libya by 33 per cent of weapons experts

Iran by 24 per cent of weapons experts

North Korea by 16 per cent of weapons experts

Israel by 16 per cent of weapons experts

These figures reflect differences between Russian and Western perceptions about which countries should be regarded as dangerous "rogue states." In Russia it is less usual to include Iran or North Korea in this category than it is in the West.

North Korea was, in fact, the planned destination of a large group of Russian missile experts in 1992. Their plane was prevented by security officials from taking off from Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport for Pyongyang at the last minute. It should be noted, however, that there have been no other reported incidents of this kind.

Respondents were also asked: "If interested in working abroad, would you work in the military industry of a foreign country?" Over half replied in clearly positive terms, while only 18 per cent said no. The remainder avoided giving a clear answer.




SOURCE. Jon Brook Wolfsthal, Cristina-Astrid Chuen, and Emily Ewell Daughtry, eds. Nuclear Status Report: Nuclear Weapons, Nuclear Material, and Export Controls in the Former Soviet Union. Number 6, June 2001. A cooperative project of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Monterey Institute of International Studies (MIIS). The full report can be downloaded at www.ceip.org/npp or http://cns.miis.edu. The underlying database can also be accessed by contacting MIIS through http://cns.miis.edu.

A recent article in Time Magazine provides a general picture of the problem of insecure storage of nuclear material in Russia (Jeffrey Kluger, The Nuke Pipeline, December 17, 2001, reproduced in JRL #5589). The source under review presents detailed information about each of the 68 facilities at which the material is stored, and also about the joint US-Russian program to improve the security of storage that is administered by the US Department of Energy (DOE), called MPC&A -- Material Protection, Control, and Accounting.

The sheer magnitude of the problem is daunting. The quantity of weapons-usable fissile material (defined as separated plutonium or "enriched" uranium containing 20 per cent or more of the radioactive isotope U-235) in the former USSR, most of it in Russia, is estimated at 650 metric tons. This does not include the material inside nuclear warheads or in spent nuclear-reactor fuel. Nor does it include the much greater quantity of nuclear material that though not "rich" enough to make nuclear weapons can still be packed into "dirty bombs" that spread radioactivity far and wide when exploded by conventional means.

650 metric tons equals 650,000 kilograms (kg). Yet 50 kg of enriched uranium will make a "full-scale" nuclear bomb, and just 4 kg of plutonium a "small" bomb. The nuclear material in Russia is therefore enough for tens of thousands of nuclear weapons of various sizes. To put it another way: even if 99 per cent of post-Soviet weapons-grade material were to be securely stored, the 1 per cent not securely stored would still amount to 6,500 kg -- enough for 130 full-scale nuclear bombs or over 1,600 "small" ones. This, of course, is a purely hypothetical calculation, as the proportion in secure storage clearly falls some way short of 99 per cent.

How much nuclear material has already been stolen? The article in Time Magazine suggests that there have been hundreds of thefts of amounts up to a few kilograms. The report mentions three specific cases:

-- the disappearance of nuclear material, "probably only one or two kilograms," from the Sukhumi Institute of Physics and Technology when the institute was abandoned by its staff during the Georgian-Abkhaz fighting of 1993;

-- the loss of 1.8 kg of 36 per cent enriched uranium in two fuel rods stolen from the Zapadnaya Litsa naval base in Murmansk Province, also in 1993; and

-- an unconfirmed report of the theft in 1996 of 7 kg of highly enriched uranium from the port of Sovetskaya Gavan in the Russian Far East.

It is unlikely to be a coincidence that both of the last two cases occurred at naval facilities. This seems to be the type of facility where security is weakest -- and it is also the type of facility where there has been least involvement by the MPC&A program.

Consider, for example, Installation 928-III, the largest storage site for spent fuel from the Northern Fleet, situated at the Zapadnaya Litsa naval base in Murmansk Province (where the second of the thefts listed above took place). This site contains more than 23,000 spent-fuel assemblies, and is filled to capacity. New deliveries of spent fuel are stored unprotected out in the open air.

The fact that amounts stolen are relatively small is not so reassuring when the apparent frequency of thefts is taken into account. A well-funded and well-organized terrorist group should be able to accumulate a sizeable reserve of weapons-grade material over time.

The nuclear material is located at facilities of several types:

-- centers of weapons research

-- centers of other kinds of research (e.g., medical)

-- plants for the design, production, and dismantling of nuclear weapons

-- plants for the production of nuclear fuel

-- other industrial facilities

-- educational institutions

-- naval facilities

Of the 68 facilities, 58 are in Russia, 3 each in Ukraine and Kazakhstan, 2 in Uzbekistan, and 1 each in Belarus and Latvia.

The number of storage sites, however, is much greater than 68. Many facilities are very large and contain numerous outdoors, indoors, and/or underground sites. Thus the All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Experimental Physics in Sarov (Nizhny Novgorod Province) stores material in 16 separate fenced and guarded areas. One goal of the MPC&A program has been to concentrate material at fewer sites. Thus the number of sites at the Luch enterprise in Podolsk, which produces reactors and other components for the nuclear power industry, has been reduced from 28 to 4.

Given resource constraints and the large number of storage sites, it is not surprising that many are not very well protected. One facility that does have good protection is the Mining and Chemical Combine at Zheleznogorsk (formerly Krasnoyarsk-26). The report describes the three concentric security zones at this plant, and notes that "the external threat to this site is considered minimal." I have not, however, found similar statements in the report pertaining to other facilities.

Some idea of progress made under the MPC&A program is conveyed by the following breakdown of the 68 facilities:

Work completed 28 facilities

Work begun but not completed 17 facilities

Work begun but suspended 1 facility

Work planned but not begun 4 facilities

Work under consideration 3 facilities

No work planned 15 facilities

The amount and technical sophistication of the work already done under the program are very impressive. (At least I am impressed, though I lack the technical knowledge to make a proper assessment.) It looks as though the program only needs a few more years to reach its goal. Unfortunately, there are three reasons for expecting that the goal will not be reached:

First, there is the issue of funding. The present US Congress and the Bush administration are not willing to maintain allocations to the program at the level that was contemplated by the Clinton administration. But in principle this obstacle could be removed by a simple policy decision on the part of the US. The other two problems are much more intractable: restrictions on access and the unreliability of Russian personnel.

American experts have not been allowed sufficient access to the more sensitive facilities to ensure the effectiveness of the program. Portal monitors and other equipment can be supplied, but there is no way of checking whether it is being used properly -- or at all. Under Yeltsin there was gradual movement toward resolving the issue, but under Putin access has become much more difficult. Facilities engaged in pure scientific research are an exception, but these account for a very small proportion of nuclear material.

In reaction to newly imposed restrictions on access, the US Department of Energy has in most cases decided not to initiate any new projects at the site involved until the issue is resolved. In regard to some facilities, notably those engaged in the production and dismantling of nuclear warheads, the decision has been to halt all work until the issue is resolved.

The weakest link in the effort to improve security at nuclear material storage sites may be the quality of personnel. Complex security arrangements and ingenious technical devices are of little use if personnel lack needed skills or are undisciplined, drunk, corrupt, in desperate material circumstances, or emotionally unbalanced.

Two incidents from 1999 will illustrate the point. Sailors and officers at Gadzhiyevo in Murmansk Province, the largest nuclear submarine base of the Northern Fleet, were arrested for stealing and selling the silver from submarine torpedo batteries. At the Gremikha naval base, also in Murmansk Province, two ax-wielding sailors attacked a sentry guarding a radioactive-waste storage facility, stole his rifle, and went on a shooting spree that resulted in five deaths.

Back to the Top    Next Issue