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additional requirements and a verification mechanism capable of ensuring, at least for the foreseeable future, that a country developing a nuclear power industry will not be applying nuclear technologies for military purposes.

As a key step in this process, the joint committee believes that a U.S.-Russian joint technical working group composed of technical experts from each country’s national laboratories and universities could, as a minimum, provide significant clarification of these issues to the two governments and, as a maximum, suggest new technical paths forward. This working group may well argue for interaction and cooperation between two major international research efforts that are under way in this area: the Generation IV International Forum and the International Project on Innovative Nuclear Reactors and Fuel Cycles. Such a working group could also develop procedures that could serve as a paradigm for increased scientific cooperation in other areas. The charter of the working group should not specify the case of Iran uniquely (although that situation may be a useful case study) but should require a more general study of nonproliferation risk assessment and mitigation in multinational nuclear energy projects. The working group should use adversarial teams and other mechanisms to ensure a critical look at the assertions of the various views represented.

The joint committee recommends the establishment of a joint technical working group on risk assessment and mitigation relating to nuclear energy projects in nonnuclear-weapons states under the charter of the Joint High-Level Commission.


Although the scale of death and destruction that would result from the use of a radiological weapon, or “dirty bomb,” would be dramatically less than that caused by a nuclear explosive device, the long-term effects of a radiological attack on public health, the environment, and the local economy could be significant. In the earlier section on legal issues, the joint committee considered the legal steps that the United States and Russia could take against this threat. This section examines the ways in which U.S.-Russian cooperation on science and technology may be able to help address the complex threats of radiological terrorism:

  • The actual damage that would result from a radiological attack would vary considerably, depending on the design of the weapon and the circumstances of its use. Scientists could work together to select common criteria for prioritizing potential hazards and response measures, as well as designing specialized computer software that could help to optimize the response to an attack.

  • Joint scientific research could contribute to ongoing work on radiological monitoring systems to warn of an attack and to assess the progress of cleanup efforts and protective measures that either prevent or reduce human exposure to radiation.

  • Scientists could play an important educational role so that policy makers, emergency and medical personnel, and the general public have the information that they need to respond appropriately in the event of an attack.

  • Scientific collaboration could inform the development of information management systems designed to reduce the risk that nuclear material will be stolen.

In the joint committee’s view, there is much that cooperation between U.S. and Russian scientists and technical experts can contribute to the two nations’ efforts to reduce the threat of radiological terrorism and reduce the damage that occurs in the event of such an attack. In addition to the previous recommendations regarding information exchange on legal issues and a new government-to-government agreement on cooperation against radiological terrorism threats, the joint committee recommends the establishment of a bilateral scientific and technical working group on combating radiological terrorism under the charter of the Joint High-Level Commission to guide this cooperative effort.


The United States and Russia have much to gain by enhancing their ongoing cooperation on scientific and technical issues. This collaboration contributes to scientific knowledge and technical acumen; strengthens national and international security; and builds personal, institutional, and governmental relationships between the two countries. Most importantly in the context of this study, expanded cooperation between U.S. and Russian scientists and technical experts can provide a firm foundation on which to transform the bilateral relationship into a true partnership that strives to improve nuclear security and bolster nuclear nonproliferation efforts both within and beyond the borders of the United States and the former Soviet Union.


The material in this section draws heavily on the paper Radiological Terrorism in the Context of Nonproliferation (Appendix L).

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