The present report is an interim Russian version of the future joint U.S.-Russian Academies report. It comprises the results of the analysis of the impediments and problems to the U.S.-Russian bilateral cooperation on nuclear nonproliferation based, largely, on relevant programs in which the Russian participants of the Project, as well as their departments and agencies, were and/or are involved.
Based on the results of the U.S. and Russian interim reports and their discussions in Vienna, further research will be carried out in order to develop and release a joint Final Project report tentatively in January 2004.
It is believed that in the present-day world nuclear weapons serve as deterrents, a sort of the "Sword of Damocles,” that would be an inevitable punishment for a potential aggressor. However, nuclear weapons by their very nature have huge destructive power and the many other deadly effects inherent in weapons of mass destruction. In case of uncontrolled nuclear proliferation there is a potential threat to the established system of maintaining international stability. Therefore, the responsibility of the nuclear-weapon countries (the so-called “Nuclear Club” comprising, among other countries, the U.S. and Russia) for international stability is extremely high.
On a very general level, factors that may encourage a non-nuclear country to acquire a nuclear weapon, are as follows:
General status of the collective security system (the UN) and the efficiency of the international safeguards to ensure the security of a given country as regards any potential aggressor. However, this first-priority challenge goes beyond the scope of this study.
Fulfillment by Nuclear Club countries of their commitments within the framework of the international nuclear nonproliferation regime concerning, first and foremost, the reduction of their nuclear arsenals to the minimum acceptable and sufficient level. This problem is rooted in the cold war, as a relic of the arms race, when nuclear countries (and first of all, the U.S. and Russia) fabricated and accumulated nuclear weapons in such quantities that their destructive potential was many times over the above level.
Fundamental obligations of the U.S. and Russia on reducing their nuclear arsenals were stated in the Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START-I, 1991) and in the Treaty on the Reduction of Strategic Offensive Potentials (SOP, ratified by the sides in 2003). Among the U.S.-Russian projects dealing with the problem under consideration, the following ones should be singled out:
Dilution of Russian Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) into Low Enriched Uranium (LEU) and shipping it to the U.S. to fabricate fuel for commercial nuclear reactors (HEU-LEU Agreement of 1993)