When developing and implementing new cooperative programs, or attempting to improve current ones, efforts to encourage and develop interactions between the United States and Russia at all levels of official cooperation are of crucial importance. There are a number of existing and potential mechanisms for interaction between the United States and Russia, and they range from high-level, international interactions to those between individual program participants.
The proliferation of nuclear weapons, of course, is not only a problem for the United States and Russia. As the background materials for the workshop suggested, nuclear weapons and materials pose a global threat, and the security challenges they present are often most effectively addressed in the context of the international community. Although operating in a multinational environment can involve painstaking negotiations and difficult compromises, the benefits of multinational cooperation may be considerable once agreement is reached. By distributing responsibility for a project among several nations, multinational collaborations may decrease the negative effects of strained bilateral relations on projects, reduce the financial burden on individual nations, increase the number of parties having a direct interest in a successful outcome, and generate support within the broader international community.
Several important examples of international interactions were discussed during the workshop:
The international effort to help Russia dismantle its nuclear submarine fleet. As noted earlier, the United States provided Russia with equipment for dismantling ballistic missile submarines but does not fund the dismantlement of attack and cruise-missile submarines. The fleet, however, poses significant environmental risks, and Japan and Norway in particular have strong interests in seeing Russia’s fleet of attack and cruise-missile submarines dismantled safely. Japan and Norway, with the help of several other nations, are therefore providing funds for the dismantlement effort. In 2003, the contributions are expected to total $32.8 million.14 This cooperation is part of the G8 Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction, mentioned above.
Other examples of the potential of international interactions under the G8 Global Partnership are in the area of chemical weapons destruction—a major effort to which a number of countries have been contributing—and safe storage of nuclear waste materials.
It is hoped that the Multilateral Nuclear Environmental Program in the Russian Federation (MNEPR) will reduce the problems associated with the taxation of funds for programs being financed internationally.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) clearly plays a crucial role in reducing nuclear proliferation risks, not only through safeguards and verification but also by facilitating the sharing of information among states and providing a forum in which international standards can be established and rigorously tested. As well, the IAEA