programs on nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation are of crucial importance for further strengthening of strategic stability and, therefore, meet the vital interests of both countries, linkage of their implementation to any political condition seems counterproductive.
3.1.2. The U.S. Dissatisfaction with the Access Control of U.S. Representatives to Classified Russian Nuclear Sites.
When solving the access-related issues, both sides are guided by their own legislation in force. Despite some restrictions (e.g., a special request notification deadline of 45 days preceding any visit to a Russian classified site), within the U.S.-Russian cooperative programs such access is granted on the basis of yearly-approved lists of the U.S. delegates, which are updated once every six months. Multi-entry visas to Russia for U.S. specialists involved in the R.F. Minatom program implementation are granted by Russia on a limited scale because in most cases such work involves visiting sensitive facilities. To mitigate the entry-visa problem, at present the R.F. Minatom confers double-entry visas to Russia for the U.S. specialists for a period of three months.
At the same time the Russian side fully realizes that in order to attract U.S. private investments (to fund, e.g., the project of “converting” classified nuclear towns in Russia), the issue of access control for the U.S. partners necessitates a more general solution.
It seems that in future a possible solution of the issue could be a removal of concerned production units of the classified facility to be converted from the site’s jurisdiction. The nuclear center "Arzamas-16" (town of Sarov) has had some good experience on this subject related to the joint production with an American company of an artificial kidney machine at the former defense plant "Avangard" (which used to specialize in assembling nuclear warheads).
In its turn, considerable toughening of the U.S. immigration policy after the September 11, 2001 events also resulted in an increasingly complicated procedure of granting the U.S. entry visas to Russian citizens, including specialists involved in the implementation of joint nuclear nonproliferation programs. Having an understanding of the objective reasons for such measures, one has to confess that such a situation cannot help affecting negatively the quality and due dates of program implementation, and needs to be corrected at a high level (i.e., at least at the level of foreign policy departments).
The recently established practice of interviewing Russian citizens at the U.S. Consulate in Moscow prior to granting a U.S. entry visa is also worthy of addressing. Today the U.S. side requires personal attendance at such interviews by every Russian citizen who applies for a U.S. visa. This leads, on the one hand, to additional expenses for interviewees (travel to Moscow, lodging, etc.) and, on the other, results in unnecessary tension due to the unbalanced visa requirements of the sides. Given the arrangement of not interviewing project participants with diplomatic or governmental (business) passports, the U.S. side recently began replacing passports of their specialists with the “right” ones exempting them from the interviews in the Russian Consulate.