Kosovo: Vinca

ex Singidunum (beograd@brazil.tcimet.net)
Fri, 16 Apr 1999 13:00:52 -0400

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From: Peter & Darka

16. april 1999.
could use

By Bill Gertz

.S. intelligence agencies warned NATO
military commanders last week that
Yugoslavia could resort to nuclear-laced
weapons in the Balkans conflict, The
Washington Times has learned.
Nuclear material for a radiological
weapon -- also known as a "dirty nuke" --
is being stored at the Vinca Institute of
Nuclear Sciences, located about six miles
southeast of the Yugoslav capital of
Belgrade, according to officials familiar
with a Pentagon intelligence report.
A "dirty nuke" does not result in a large
explosion but could kill by spreading
radioactive material with conventional
explosives in lethal doses, the officials said.
NATO bombing planners have taken
steps to make sure the facility is not
bombed, the officials said.
"This is not on anybody's target list,"
said one Pentagon official, who noted that
NATO war planners know about the facility
and the nuclear material there.
The Pentagon report estimates about 2
kilograms (4.4 pounds) of highly enriched
uranium --weapons-grade fuel for a nuclear
bomb -- are stored at the Vinca center.
About seven kilograms would be required
for fueling a nuclear bomb.
-- Continued from Front Page -
The research center also has 53
kilograms of freshly irradiated Uranium-235
and about 10 kilograms of spent fuel from
a research reactor. That material is not
regarded as "weapons grade" fuel but is
dangerous because of its radioactivity and
its potential use as a contaminating
"If this were reprocessed, it could be
used in a radiological device," said the
The warning was contained in a
classified report on nuclear material being
stored at a poorly guarded Serbian
research center near Belgrade.
President Clinton said Thursday after a
speech in San Francisco that the use of
weapons of mass destruction is a danger
known to U.S. intelligence agencies.
Asked how he would respond to the
use of such arms, Mr. Clinton said: "My
response would be swift and
overwhelming, and we have, obviously,
intelligence about the Serbs in a number of
areas militarily.
"But I think they are quite well aware of
the dangers of overly escalating this," Mr.
Clinton said. "And I think that's all I should
say about it right now."
The president appeared to be restating
the Pentagon policy first outlined several
years ago by then-Defense Secretary
William Perry that the U.S. military
response to the use of battlefield nuclear,
chemical or biological weapons would be
devastating attacks with conventional arms.
The Pentagon intelligence warning said
that the nuclear material is vulnerable to
theft. Satellite photographs taken recently
of the Vinca center reveal the facility is
protected with a single guard booth and
that it does not appear to be well secured.
A U.S. official said the Belgrade
government has documents, equipment and
precursor chemicals that could be used in
making chemical weapons, as well as
production facilities. It is not known
whether the Serbs actually have munitions
weapons for chemical arms or stockpiles
of such weapons, the official said.
The precursor chemicals indicate that
the Serbs could produce the deadly nerve
agent sarin, the official said. Sarin is
extremely toxic; small amounts can disrupt
the central nervous system.
Serbian forces also may have
capabilities for producing choking agents or
blistering agents such as mustard gas, as
well as riot-control agents that have
weapons potential, the official said.
A 1996 report by the group Human
Rights Watch said there were witness
testimonies indicating Serbian-backed
forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina used
chemical weapons in carrying out the
massacre of Bosnians in Srebrenica in the
summer of 1995.
The report stated that the Yugoslav
army in 1991 had a chemical weapons
program that included stocks of sarin,
mustard gas and a psychochemical
incapacitant known as BZ.
"There are no indications that the
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia has
destroyed its stockpiles of chemical agents
or disassembled its chemical agent
production equipment since" the breakup of
Yugoslavia in 1992, the report states.
Yugoslav army doctrine, according to
report, also called for troops to use
chemical weapons "in surrounding and
destroying a group," or when army forces
are blocked from moving.
Belgrade's biological weapons
capabilities, if any, are not known.

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