tal body with members from both the United States and Russia, the joint committee believes that the effort in this case is justified. It is the only way in which, in the view of the joint committee, the result envisioned can be achieved: a fundamentally new strategy that would effectively continue and complete existing work in the Russian Federation and develop practical, imaginative steps toward cooperation on nonproliferation initiatives in new countries and regions.
To develop new ideas for cooperation or methods to streamline the joint work, the commission might appoint special working groups that would investigate specific issues. This report also offers recommendations on issues that might benefit from the attention of such working groups. It is anticipated that, once the commission has completed the process of designing a strategy for the short-term and long-term future of U.S.-Russian cooperative nonproliferation programs, it would be disbanded. An appropriate tenure would be approximately two years.
The partnership that this commission will facilitate is grounded in the fact that Russia and the United States, the leading powers possessing both nuclear weapons and stockpiles of fissile material, bear special responsibility for protecting and preventing them from falling into the hands of international terrorists or states attempting to acquire nuclear weapons clandestinely.
The challenges involved in implementing the programs designed to pursue nonproliferation and threat reduction goals are considerable, however. Although President George W. Bush of the United States and President Vladimir Putin of Russia have clearly stated their concerns about the threat and their support for the joint cooperation, they have many other concerns, both domestic and international. Thus, these two individuals cannot always be available to focus on the programs, nor can lower-level leaders in the departments and ministries of either government.
The joint committee therefore welcomed the Senior Interagency Group that was established by Presidents Bush and Putin at the Bratislava Summit. Chaired by the Secretary of Energy and the Director of the Russian Atomic Energy Agency, the group will be responsible for overseeing the implementation of U.S.-Russian cooperative efforts on nuclear security.4 Presumably, this means that the group will have the authority to resolve issues that arise in the existing cooperation, with the possibility of raising them to the presidential level as needed.
In the joint committee’s view, the Senior Interagency Group is the necessary second tier of the proposed two-tiered approach. It is a wholly governmental entity formed at a high level and focused on ensuring the efficient implementation of cooperative efforts on nonproliferation. The joint committee envisions that the Senior Interagency Group will have effective communication channels to the Joint High-Level Commission as the commission makes its recommendations on strategy. The Senior Interagency Group, along with other governmental entities, will have the responsibility for translating those recommendations into policy.
The joint committee recommends that the Senior Interagency Group also be empowered to create working groups to address specific issues that arise in the implementation process. The present study describes several such issues that the joint committee believes would benefit from detailed and careful discussions by working groups.
Financing issues are among the key challenges for bilateral nuclear nonproliferation programs. One potential source of additional resources for nonproliferation is the nuclear energy industry in both the United States and Russia. It is in the interest of nuclear energy providers to promote nuclear security and nonproliferation because it will both increase the security of their facilities and bolster public confidence in the safety and security of nuclear power plants. Where it is possible to align economic incentives and national security objectives, the results are self-sustaining efforts of greater durability than programs that rely on political and bureaucratic processes that are less infused with the commercial self-interest of the parties.
U.S.-Russian nuclear nonproliferation cooperation is built on a framework of government-to-government agreements and national laws. Although much of this framework serves joint efforts well, disagreements over legal issues have in some cases significantly impeded cooperation on nonproliferation efforts. The United States and Russia must together overcome these legal impediments. Doing so would not only facilitate the more rapid implementation of current cooperative nonproliferation programs but would also establish an improved framework for future U.S.-Russian work in this arena.
One of the most persistent and challenging impediments to U.S.-Russian cooperation on nuclear nonproliferation is the disagreement between the two governments about liability protection. The governments of the United States and Russia disagree about the level of liability protection that should be afforded agents and contractors of the U.S. government who are working on projects involving nuclear technology in Russia. The U.S.-Russian impasse over liability protection has had a significant negative effect on cooperation on nonproliferation. Solving this problem should be a very high priority. The joint committee recommends that the governments of the United States and Russia, as a long-term and comprehensive solution to the liability issue, adopt and ratify the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage.
Joint Statement by President Bush and President Putin on Nuclear Security Cooperation, Bratislava. Online. Available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/02/20050224-8.html. Accessed April 26, 2005,