Koskinen says U.S. all clear for now; Russian scud a Y2K dud

A world that has been relatively calm during the Year 2000 rollover received a minor jolt this evening when the U.S. Space Command in ColoradoSprings, Colo., picked up signals that a Russian missile had been firedearlier this afternoon.

But officials at both the Pentagon and federal government's Year 2000 warroom in Washington, D.C., emphasized the missile firing was not Year 2000related but instead part of Russia's ongoing military action againstChechnya.

The missile was picked up by the U.S. Space Command's Defense SatelliteProgram, whose satellites have been upgraded since the Persian Gulf War todetect short-range missile launches. Russian military officials are workingside by side with the U.S. Space Command officials in Colorado Springs as acheck against accidental missile firings.

Meanwhile, Year 2000 chief John Koskinen reported at 5 p.m. that no majordate-change-related glitches had surfaced in the United States.

But he cautioned it would be next week before officials would be able tosay for sure that there were no problems around the world.

"It is far too early to declare the rest of the world, the developingworld, safe from Y2K problems, Koskinen said. But as 40 countries rolled over to the Year 2000, "noreports" of major problems have been received, he said.

Koskinen said only minor problems have been reported in the United Statesso far that can be linked to Year 2000 glitches. Among them was theshutdown of 150 slot machines at three racetracks in Delaware that were notYear 2000-compliant. There were also minor problems at nuclear power plantsin three states—Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Georgia—but theywere not Year 2000 related.

Even so, officials at the Vogtle nuclear power plant outside of Augusta,Ga., took no chance that the public may be confused. "Early reports inWashington that the unit was shutdown because of Y2K problems are false,"according to a statement the power plant released hours after the ICC gavea news briefing.

"By the end of business on Monday, we should have a clear view of what theproblems are," Koskinen said.

In a show of confidence about the FAA, Koskinen said he would be on a 6:30(EST) shuttle to New York tonight.

Thomas Pickering, the undersecretary of State, said the State Departmenthas received reports from 11 time zones and as of 4 p.m. EST, "No problemshave been experienced by U.S. citizens overseas that we know of." he said.

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