Cover Image


View/Hide Left Panel

and President Vladimir Putin have worked well together since their first meeting in 2001, and both have confirmed their commitment to cooperate on nuclear security issues.2 On her visit to Moscow in April 2005, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice further emphasized the potential to work together on proliferation problems: “We see Russia as a strategic partner moving forward. We see Russia as a strategic partner in the war on terrorism. We see Russia as a strategic partner in stopping the spread of weapons of mass destruction.”3

Once again, this commitment of the leadership is not always consistent, which creates political problems for the joint work, an issue that will also be discussed further below. However, the interest of the presidents, combined with the slow accumulation of successes in the implementation of nonproliferation and threat reduction initiatives, has meant that the cooperation on nonproliferation has been among the most active spheres of the U.S.-Russian endeavor over the past decade.

In this sense, threat reduction and nonproliferation have led the way along a continuum that grew out of the Cold War disarmament relationship. Indeed, the first task of the threat reduction programs was to eliminate Soviet-era weapons platforms under the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START). As the programs evolved, they focused more and more on a critical new security threat to both Russia and the United States: the potential that nuclear weapons or materials would fall into the hands of terrorists. The challenges that this threat poses have forced the programs themselves to change and to become more complex, which in turn have created new impediments and difficulties for their implementers. The process of overcoming these new problems has, in turn, built up the foundation for partnership.

Thus, the notion of a true Russian-U.S. partnership on nonproliferation and threat reduction is not new; it is part of a natural progression. The joint committee conducting this study decided that it was time to consider this progression more fully. In particular, they recognized that the potential exists for U.S. cooperation with Russia to shift away from an assistance relationship—which was the necessary result of the economic crisis that struck after the demise of the Soviet Union—and toward partnership.

For this reason, the joint committee decided that future cooperation should be considered in two aspects. First, can the two countries implement existing programs in the former Soviet Union as full partners, working in the most efficient and effective way possible? Second, can they expand their cooperation to include joint efforts to solve proliferation problems in other countries and regions of the world? Exploration of the potential for a cooperative relationship that progresses to a fuller partnership was seen as an important goal for this study.

To accomplish this vision of full partnership, the joint committee agreed on a two-tiered approach: first, the establishment of a short-term commission to examine past progress and determine a joint strategy for future cooperation; second, the establishment of a joint group made up of agency representatives from both governments to supervise cooperative efforts for the indefinite future.

As a first and fundamental step, the joint committee recommends that the presidents of the Russian Federation and the United States establish a Joint High-Level Commission with the responsibility of preparing a strategy for current and future U.S.-Russian cooperation to combat nuclear proliferation.

This Joint High-Level Commission could be organized in several ways. For example, its membership could include current and former government officials as well as eminent nongovernment experts, or it could be made up of government officials supported by an advisory group of nongovernment experts. Another alternative is that it could be made up of former senior officials, including retired members of the U.S. Congress and the executive branch, operating under the aegis of a U.S. government agency.4 Or its membership could be drawn primarily from the scientific community, drawing on scientists at the national laboratories in the United States and Russia as well as those at the universities of both countries. Each of these approaches has merit, and others of merit could be devised.

The joint committee believes that experts from outside the government should participate in the commission’s work, either as members of the commission itself or as part of an advisory body to the commission. The rationale for this approach is linked to the joint committee’s view that the cooperation is progressing to a new stage—fuller partnership—that has both positive potential and a number of continuing pitfalls that must be countered. The definition and description of a strategy for this new stage will require a brainstorming approach that might not be possible under the constraints of a purely governmental body or with only one type of expert—e.g., from the scientific community—in the room. The main emphasis should be on developing new ideas and


Joint Statement by President Bush and President Putin on Nuclear Security Cooperation, Bratislava. Online. Available at Accessed April 26, 2005.


Interview with Aleksey Venediktov of Ekho Moskvy Radio, Secretary Condoleeza Rice, Moscow, Russia, April 20, 2005. Online. Available at Accessed April 26, 2005.


This was the model of the Baker-Cutler Commission, which was formed under the Secretary of Energy’s Advisory Board in the U.S. Department of Energy. See Howard Baker and Lloyd Cutler, A Report Card on the Department of Energy’s Nonproliferation Programs with Russia. Online. Available at Accessed May 13, 2005.

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement