1
Responding to the Threat of Nuclear Terrorism

THREAT OF A NUCLEAR CATASTROPHE

The terrorist attacks in New York and Washington on September 11, 2001, and subsequent bombings in Moscow, Madrid, Istanbul, Bali, London, and elsewhere have vividly demonstrated the determination of terrorist groups to cause large numbers of civilian casualties and massive damage even if their attacks require suicide missions. Should terrorists acquire the capability to detonate a nuclear device in a major urban area, recent events strongly suggest that they would attempt to do just that. Such a nuclear catastrophe could kill or maim hundreds of thousands of city residents, with radioactive fallout extending hundreds of miles from the site of the detonation.

The interest of terrorist groups in obtaining nuclear devices can be traced at least to the mid-1990s, when the Aum Shinrikyo cult in Japan explored the possibility of acquiring uranium for possible use in terrorist attacks. More recently, documents with primitive sketches of nuclear weapons obtained from al Qaeda camps and statements by al Qaeda leaders suggest that this terrorist network has also considered the possibilities of nuclear terrorism. At present, however, there is no publicly available information indicating that a terrorist group, operating independently of a government, has made significant strides in developing a nuclear device. Indeed, constructing a nuclear weapon is not an easy task for terrorists, even if they possess the required material. But this possibility cannot be precluded as terrorists become more skilled in the applications of nuclear technology.

The recent revelations of an international black market in nuclear technolo-



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



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 11
Strengthening Long-Term Nuclear Security: Protecting Weapon-Usable Material in Russia 1 Responding to the Threat of Nuclear Terrorism THREAT OF A NUCLEAR CATASTROPHE The terrorist attacks in New York and Washington on September 11, 2001, and subsequent bombings in Moscow, Madrid, Istanbul, Bali, London, and elsewhere have vividly demonstrated the determination of terrorist groups to cause large numbers of civilian casualties and massive damage even if their attacks require suicide missions. Should terrorists acquire the capability to detonate a nuclear device in a major urban area, recent events strongly suggest that they would attempt to do just that. Such a nuclear catastrophe could kill or maim hundreds of thousands of city residents, with radioactive fallout extending hundreds of miles from the site of the detonation. The interest of terrorist groups in obtaining nuclear devices can be traced at least to the mid-1990s, when the Aum Shinrikyo cult in Japan explored the possibility of acquiring uranium for possible use in terrorist attacks. More recently, documents with primitive sketches of nuclear weapons obtained from al Qaeda camps and statements by al Qaeda leaders suggest that this terrorist network has also considered the possibilities of nuclear terrorism. At present, however, there is no publicly available information indicating that a terrorist group, operating independently of a government, has made significant strides in developing a nuclear device. Indeed, constructing a nuclear weapon is not an easy task for terrorists, even if they possess the required material. But this possibility cannot be precluded as terrorists become more skilled in the applications of nuclear technology. The recent revelations of an international black market in nuclear technolo-

OCR for page 11
Strengthening Long-Term Nuclear Security: Protecting Weapon-Usable Material in Russia gies operated by the Pakistani scientist A. Q. Khan have blurred the distinction between governmental and nongovernmental activities and highlight the urgency of securing weapon-usable material. Further, thwarting access to weapon-usable material by subnational or international groups also serves to prevent access to such materials by irresponsible states. Both dangers deserve priority attention. Thus far, the acquisition of a nuclear weapons capability by terrorist groups has been constrained primarily by the difficulty these groups face in obtaining sufficient quantities of highly enriched uranium (HEU) or plutonium that could be fashioned into crude nuclear weapons.1 The protection, control, and accounting of these materials remain imperative to mitigating the threat of nuclear terrorism. Russia, along with the United States, has by far the world’s largest inventories of weapon-usable material. Since the disintegration of the Soviet Union, incidents of theft and attempted theft of small quantities of weapon-usable material from Russian facilities have been occasionally reported. In each case, the quantities of material involved have been far less than the amount required for a nuclear weapon.2 The number of reported incidents of attempted theft of weapon-usable material in Russia has been declining but there is no basis for judging the actual number of unreported attempts or the number of successful thefts.3 Upgraded physical protection and accounting systems, which are the focus of this report, may have contributed to the reduced number of attempts to steal material. Further, the cooperative materials protection, control, and accounting (MPC&A) program has involved thousands of Russian participants and has certainly heightened sensitivities to the possibility and consequences of thefts. In 1996, another NRC committee visiting Moscow was informed that there had been 23 attempted thefts prior to that time. However, these attempts related only to a limited number of Russian facilities. While in Russia in 2003, the committee was informed of three unsuccessful attempts to steal weapon-usable material from Russian facilities since 1996. Each effort was foiled by the Federal Security Service (FSB) within the facility or in the immediate vicinity of the facility. Reports of a smaller number of incidents are included in the database of 1   For the purposes of this report, HEU consisting of more than 20 percent of uranium-235 or plutonium that has been separated from fission products and other actinides is referred to as weapon-usable material. 2   The amount of material required to construct a crude nuclear device is often cited as 8 kilograms of plutonium or 25 kilograms of U-235 contained in HEU. The committee considers these estimates to be reasonable. The exact amount required depends on a variety of factors including the sophistication of the weapon design and the exact characteristics of the material. The amounts involved in the reported incidents of attempted material theft have usually been much less than these amounts. 3   In a 1999 interview published in Izvestiia, V. B. Ivanov, then deputy minister of atomic energy of the Russian Federation, stated that during the Soviet period two cases of denied access to nuclear materials were reported; between 1992 and 1995, 28 cases were reported; and after 1995, three or four cases were reported.

OCR for page 11
Strengthening Long-Term Nuclear Security: Protecting Weapon-Usable Material in Russia the International Atomic Energy Agency. Although the record of actual and attempted thefts is unclear, the security of weapon-usable material in Russia is of major concern; and upgrading inadequate security systems to prevent thefts is the objective of the long-standing U.S.-Russian cooperative program on MPC&A systems in Russia. In general, HEU is more widely available in Russia and arguably less protected in some cases than plutonium. Plutonium is concentrated in a limited number of institutes and enterprises, with most of the stockpiles in relatively secure locations in closed cities. But not all HEU is at high risk of theft, nor is all plutonium at low risk. For example, HEU from dismantled weapons at Mayak and Tomsk-7 is probably more secure than plutonium at some institutes in and near Moscow. Poorly secured plutonium metal may be a more serious concern than HEU in certain circumstances (such as that comprising only 21 percent U-235 that is diluted in a fuel matrix and stored in a heavily shielded reactor building). While terrorists may find it easier to fabricate a weapon with HEU than plutonium, the manufacture of a weapon based on plutonium is not beyond the reach of technically advanced terrorists. Further, as previously noted, proliferation concerns extend beyond terrorist groups to irresponsible governments with nuclear ambitions, and some have the technical capabilities to develop crude devices based on either plutonium or HEU. Thus, the optimum strategy for protecting weapon-usable material in Russia, and indeed in all countries, is to address the problems posed by HEU and plutonium in parallel. The Russian MPC&A program places equal emphasis on the protection of HEU and plutonium. In the late 1990s, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) highlighted the following MPC&A deficiencies in Russia that were attributed to the lingering Soviet legacy and to economic difficulties that continue at some sites today:4 lack of unified physical protection standards and inadequate defenses of buildings and facilities within site-perimeter fences lack of portal monitors to detect fissile material when leaving a site inadequate central alarm stations and inadequate alarm assessment and display capabilities inadequate protection of guards from small-arms fire and inadequate guard force communications lack of material accounting procedures that can detect and localize nuclear material losses and determine when they have occurred inadequate measurements of waste, scrap, and hold-up nuclear materials 4   NRC. 1999. Protecting Nuclear Weapons Materials in Russia, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., p. 10.

OCR for page 11
Strengthening Long-Term Nuclear Security: Protecting Weapon-Usable Material in Russia during processing, and inadequate accounting of transfers of nuclear materials between facilities antiquated tamper indicating devices (seals) on nuclear material containers The chain of security is no stronger than its weakest link, and all Russian facilities where HEU and plutonium are located should have robust security systems. In Russia, where the economy is still a long way from complete recovery and where corruption within the security services has been repeatedly criticized by the Russian president, the importance of modern MPC&A systems cannot be overstated. The rapid deployment of additional security personnel to nuclear facilities following the destruction of two Russian airliners by suicide bombers and the hostage-taking at a school in Beslan near Chechnya in September 2004 underscores the heightened concern over nuclear terrorism within the Russian government. That concern seems to focus on sabotage by Chechen militants and on the importance of guards and perimeter defenses. But the need to strengthen security systems so that neither facilities nor material can be reached, even with the help of disenchanted employees (insiders) or corrupt officials, is clear. THE COOPERATIVE PROGRAM Given the potentially catastrophic consequences of the detonation of a nuclear weapon in a populated area, DOE has been conducting a cooperative MPC&A program with Russian counterparts for more than a decade (see Table 1-1). The program is structured around the following well-accepted security concepts:5 physical protection systems provide for the detection of any unauthorized penetration of barriers, portals, and other security measures surrounding material, and trigger an immediate response to such penetrations, including the use of force if necessary material control systems prevent unauthorized movement of material and provide for the prompt detection of theft or diversion of material material accounting systems ensure that all material is accounted for, enable the measurement of losses, and provide information for follow-up investigations of irregularities In principle, these concepts seem well accepted in Russia. Full implementation, however, continues to require more extensive efforts by both U.S. and Russian experts. The initial projects in the cooperative program to upgrade MPC&A systems 5   Ibid, p. 12.

OCR for page 11
Strengthening Long-Term Nuclear Security: Protecting Weapon-Usable Material in Russia TABLE 1.1 Components of an MPC&A System Within a Facility   Physical Protection Control Accounting Detection and assessment (sensors, alarms, assessment systems such as video) X X   Delay (barriers, locks, traps, booths, active measures) X X   Response (communications, interruption, neutralization) X X   Response team X     Entry-and-exit control (badges, biometrics, nuclear material detectors, metal detectors, explosive detectors) X X   Communications and display X X X Measurements and measurement control (weight, volume, chemical analysis, isotopic analysis, neutron, gamma, calorimetry)   X X Item control (barcodes, seals, material surveillance)   X   Records and reports     X Inventory   X X Integrated planning, implementation, and effectiveness evaluation X X X Supporting functions (personnel, procedures, training, organization, administration) X X X   SOURCE: NRC. 1997. Proliferation Concerns: Assessing U.S. Efforts to Help Contain Nuclear and Other Dangerous Materials and Technologies in the Former Soviet Union, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., p. 8.

OCR for page 11
Strengthening Long-Term Nuclear Security: Protecting Weapon-Usable Material in Russia in Russia began in 1993, and related activities have continued until the present (see Appendix G). More than $1.5 billion dollars have been appropriated to DOE to support this program since 1993, initially through the DOD-led Nunn-Lugar program and then directly to DOE. Appendix H indicates appropriations from FY1999 to FY2003 as well as Congressional funding for FY 2005 and projected requests for FY 2006-2009. Appendix I identifies the Russian facilities that participate in the program. WAVERING POLITICAL SUPPORT FOR MPC&A IN RUSSIA During the past decade, the presidents of both countries have made numerous statements regarding the importance of cooperation in nuclear security, and they have reported general progress in the program. In 2004, U.S. Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham promised that the current cooperative program to improve protection of 600 tons of weapon-usable material in Russia would be completed in 2008, two years ahead of schedule.6 While the program may not encompass all weapon-usable material in Russia, the intended acceleration of the schedule is nevertheless a positive sign of interest by the U.S. government in moving forward with dispatch. In general, the U.S. government has given high priority to implementation of the program. On the other hand, the Russian government gives much higher priority to other security concerns. A number of well-informed Russians consistently cited other priorities when queried by the committee during a visit to Russia in 2003. Top priorities were the safekeeping and destruction of stockpiles of chemical weapons, dismantling of nuclear submarines, and preventing theft of radioactive material that could be used in dirty bombs. Since that time, it appears that protection of nuclear power plants has also become a key security priority as terrorists grew more aggressive in Moscow and in southern Russia during the summer of 2004. These Russian priorities are all directed toward enhancing domestic security. Prevention of these catastrophes in Russia seems to be the principal concern of the Russian government. But there apparently is less concern in Russia that sub-national groups could steal weapon-usable material from Russian facilities, use the material to construct a weapon, and detonate that device in a populated area of the country. While Russia supports U.S. efforts to upgrade protection of HEU and plutonium in Russia, the overall security concerns that drive these efforts differ among U.S. and Russian experts. This is reflected in differing approaches to security in general and upgrades in particular. To prevent unauthorized access to, and sabotage of, nuclear facilities (often considered by Russian experts to be a key threat), Russian managers emphasize perimeter security. The U.S. priority of preventing 6   Abraham, Spencer. Washington Post. July 17, 2004. How to Stop Nuclear Terror. A19.

OCR for page 11
Strengthening Long-Term Nuclear Security: Protecting Weapon-Usable Material in Russia theft focuses more heavily on close-in security of materials. However, both perimeter security and close-in security should play a role in ensuring overall security and protection of weapon-usable material. As a result of these different perceptions of the threat and different views on vulnerabilities of Russian facilities, the Russian government has not moved as quickly as desired by the U.S. government in implementing MPC&A upgrades. In 1996, the Russian government enacted the Law on Funding Sites and Facilities of the Highest Radiological and Nuclear Hazards, which should have been a strong point of departure for cooperation. However, the Russian Federal Agency for Atomic Energy (Rosatom) has allowed the cooperative program to become somewhat inflexible, with many problems inhibiting rapid progress, for example requiring strict lists of approved U.S. visitors to sites. Further, it has committed very limited amounts of Russia’s own resources to the program. At the same time, while always advocating more rapid progress, the U.S. government has also been periodically inflexible, including in some areas of importance to Russian officials and managers, such as the frequency of intrusive access to sensitive facilities in Russia. Consequently, administrative impediments to cooperation have arisen on both sides, and the program has fallen many years behind schedules set forth in the 1990s. ADAPTING TO A CHANGING ENVIRONMENT Twelve years of cooperation have fostered a considerable degree of mutual respect and understanding among officials and specialists from the two countries, enabling Russian counterparts to become well acquainted with Western approaches to MPC&A. During that time, the technical, regulatory, and economic conditions surrounding the cooperative program have changed significantly. The Russian government has issued regulations that impose new security requirements on activities at nuclear facilities, including those addressing the protection of weapon-usable materials. In recent years, the Russian economy has been slowly recovering, and the World Bank predicts continued growth. Salary levels at nuclear facilities remain low, however, despite gradual improvement. Despite the significant increase in Russian technical capabilities, DOE continues to dominate the selection of MPC&A upgrade priorities and approaches at specific sites. With few exceptions, DOE managers determine the size and content of the contracts with Russian institutions; these contracts are the primary mechanism for implementing the MPC&A upgrade program. Although Russian specialists participate in discussions to determine priorities and contracts, they are at a great disadvantage since DOE controls the funding and does not hesitate to use this control in insisting that its approach be followed. In short, within DOE, a contract administration culture has emerged that too often regards Russian counterparts simply as contractors whose role is to comply with U.S.-determined checklists.

OCR for page 11
Strengthening Long-Term Nuclear Security: Protecting Weapon-Usable Material in Russia BOX 1.1 Views of Two MPC&A Experts “Inspections are everything. No one invests in MPC&A until the inspector is coming and is going to catch them if they don’t.” SOURCE: U.S. senior official, December 2004. “My priority is to correct the deficiencies uncovered by the inspection team sent by the Procurator’s Office.” SOURCE: Director of a Russian nuclear institute, April 2004. New Russian regulations place primacy on measures to protect entire nuclear facilities. However, until quite recently, DOE’s MPC&A priorities were not consistent with these regulatory requirements. For years, DOE specialists argued that perimeter protection had only a marginal impact on security of material housed inside buildings. They have emphasized security upgrades close to nuclear materials in order to improve materials security rapidly and cost-effectively. As a result, the cooperative program did not reflect Russian regulatory requirements. Two Russian facility managers displayed for the committee recent inspection reports of their facilities by Russian enforcement officials itemizing many deficiencies that were not being addressed through the cooperative program. The priority of the managers was to correct the deficiencies in the reports, not adjust security measures to accommodate DOE’s views (see Box 1.1). DOE security experts now acknowledge that depending on the size of the facility and the topography of a site, an external physical protection system based on an active perimeter can be an essential part of an integrated MPC&A system. Active perimeters can alert reaction forces and provide a deterrent effect against overt attacks aided by an inside collaborator. Therefore, DOE is currently reassessing the use of active perimeters for certain nuclear facilities in Russia, where their installation can improve site security. This change in approach may help alleviate the past inconsistency between DOE priorities and Russian regulations. Finally, neither the Russian government nor facility managers have shown an interest in increasing their financial contributions to improving MPC&A systems. Indeed, the facilities have become accustomed to obtaining support from DOE, and Russian managers have few incentives for directing additional funds of their own to MPC&A unless deficiencies are found by external Russian inspectors. One well-informed and respected former facility director who currently has a prominent position within the Russian government noted that if he had received budget increases, the highest priority would have been improved bus service for the employees; MPC&A would have been very low on his priority list.

OCR for page 11
Strengthening Long-Term Nuclear Security: Protecting Weapon-Usable Material in Russia PREPARING FOR INDIGENIZATION The committee has defined indigenization as “the process of making the transition from the U.S.-Russian cooperative program financed largely by the DOE to a program managed, maintained, and financed by Russia that ensures the security of weapon-usable material at a level that is necessitated by the threat of international terrorism and is consistent with internationally acceptable practices.” Further development of a U.S.-Russian partnership based on common approaches and greater cost sharing is an imperative step toward MPC&A indigenization. Unless Russian officials and managers fully embrace the importance of upgraded systems, such as those that are installed through the cooperative program, and indeed are willing to use their own funds to help install them, they will have little incentive to maintain adequate systems once they themselves must pay for their upkeep and operation. Additionally, unless Russian regulatory requirements are incorporated into the adopted approaches, the likelihood of effective indigenization is low. Both Russian and U.S. experts should show greater flexibility in developing approaches that adequately protect weapon-usable material and at the same time are acceptable to the other side. Building on Existing Cooperation Indigenization of upgraded MPC&A systems is clearly linked to ongoing DOE efforts to assist in improving these systems. Thus, a review of a few relevant experiences drawn from the current cooperation will provide important background when considering the main topic of this report. There have been notable successes in the cooperative program. Overall, security at many facilities has been greatly improved as the following examples indicate. The projects to enhance security of fresh nuclear fuel in the possession of the Russian Navy have been very well implemented, according to many U.S. and Russian participants in the program. Working through the Kurchatov Institute as a facilitator, DOE has been able to greatly reduce the need for intrusive access to sensitive facilities by U.S. specialists while maintaining a high level of technical performance by all concerned parties. Substantial MPC&A system modifications have reportedly been made at the nuclear weapons centers in Sarov and Snezhinsk (see Box 1.2 for the view of a Russian participant in these activities). The committee was not able to visit these facilities and therefore cannot verify the statement. The programs at Luch Scientific Production Association (NPO Luch) and at the Scientific Research Institute of Atomic Reactors (RIAR) in Dimitrovgrad to blend down HEU collected from several other facilities have provided NPO Luch and RIAR with income for enhancing MPC&A while reducing the quantity of

OCR for page 11
Strengthening Long-Term Nuclear Security: Protecting Weapon-Usable Material in Russia BOX 1.2 Initial MPC&A Modifications “Thanks to a significant financial and technical contribution by the United States, integrated MPC&A systems and multi-tiered information systems have come on line in Sarov and Snezhinsk. Many U.S. and indigenous technologies have been commissioned, and numerous instruments and devices have been put into operation. These systems have been developed and operated by Russian experts whose work has only in part been paid for with U.S. assistance funds. This could very well serve as a model for other Russian facilities. The nuclear weapons centers could take on the role of general contractors implementing modifications to the MPC&A systems at such facilities.” SOURCE: Senior Russian scientist, February 2005. BOX 1.3 Spotlight on Training: Russian Methodological and Training Center, Obninsk, Russia U.S. participation with the RMTC began in 1995, with the goal of enhancing Russia’s state system of accounting and control of nuclear materials. In 1996, Gosatomnadzor [Russian Federal Inspectorate for Nuclear and Radiation Safety] formally acknowledged the RMTC as a central training facility for its inspectors and instructors. The RMTC was developed using a phased approach, including conducting a needs analysis to determine training requirements, joint U.S.-Russian development of training courses, and joint U.S.-Russian instruction of courses leading to a transition to all-Russian instruction at the RMTC. All 27 existing courses have transitioned to Russian instructors. Project initiatives are designed to ensure indigenous Russian methodologies and training capabilities to support long-term sustainability of the RMTC. SOURCE: Official communication provided by DOE to the committee, September 2004. HEU in Russia. With substantial DOE encouragement, the earnings have been applied in part to MPC&A enhancements at those two facilities. A significant cadre of skilled Russian instructors is now available to provide MPC&A training at the Institute of Physics and Power Engineering in Obninsk (IPPE) and elsewhere (see Box 1.3). Finally, the security of material in rail and road transit has been substantially improved through the provision and use of security-enhanced rail cars and trucks.

OCR for page 11
Strengthening Long-Term Nuclear Security: Protecting Weapon-Usable Material in Russia Even taking into account such progress, the cooperative program has moved very slowly in bringing hundreds of tons of weapon-usable material under an acceptable level of security. Not all Russian facilities with material participate in the DOE program. Further, according to DOE, the U.S.-Russian cooperative program has resulted in security improvements for about 50 percent of the approximately 600 tons of weapon-usable material in Russia, raising questions as to whether former energy secretary Spencer Abraham’s goal of 100-percent coverage by 2008 can realistically be achieved.7 This will be particularly difficult without high-level commitments on the Russian side. The reasons for a lack of faster progress are manifold. They include, as previously indicated, Russian confidence in the adequacy of existing systems, at least for the time being, and complications over foreign access to some facilities in Russia. The frequent DOE program management changes over the past decade, the replacement of experienced DOE MPC&A managers in some cases with less experienced personnel, and a tendency on the part of remaining experienced personnel to tire of the demanding workload and travel required have also impeded progress. Likewise, the administrative reform of the Russian government in 2004 hindered efforts for a period of time. In addition, there is continuing concern within DOE as to appropriate use of contract funds, due in part to careful scrutiny by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). This has led to a practice of issuing small contracts that consume as much time and energy on both sides as issuing large contracts covering a greater number of activities. Putting in place even a small contract requires reviews and approvals in both Russia and the U.S. and typically takes several months (see Chapter 4 for additional discussion of this issue). Rapid progress is essential in confronting terrorist threats. It is also important in setting the standard for indigenization. Unless the completion of security upgrades is made a priority by both sides, there will be little priority placed on indigenization. Moving Toward Indigenization: Initial Success Stories As the cooperative program continues its critical work of securing weapon-usable material in Russia, several success stories provide evidence of progress and areas upon which experts can build in the future. Specific examples of success in moving toward indigenization are as follows: The navy program is clearly the primary example of indigenization achievements. The Russian navy leadership seems fully committed to maintaining and operating appropriate security systems for the indefinite future. 7   These figures were provided to the committee by DOE in January 2005.

OCR for page 11
Strengthening Long-Term Nuclear Security: Protecting Weapon-Usable Material in Russia BOX 1.4 Scientific Research Institute of Atomic Reactors (RIAR) Support for Sustainability of Upgrades at the Central Storage Facility Comprehensive upgrades at the RIAR Central Storage Facility were completed in 1999 and have been in operation since then. To assist with sustainability of these systems, DOE has provided assistance with the procurement of spare parts, and operator and basic maintenance training. Additionally, DOE funds the security systems vendor, Eleron, to conduct biannual site-wide systems testing, maintenance, and emergency service for the site-wide system as a whole. Given these tools, RIAR has taken responsibility for the routine maintenance and adjustments necessary to ensure the continued operation of the upgraded security systems at the central storage facility. This type of service generally happens on a daily basis, with a more intensive monthly servicing. SOURCE: Official communication provided by DOE to the committee, October, 2004. One Russian facility is prepared to pay the total costs for training its personnel at IPPE in Obninsk, even as it develops its own on-site training capabilities. According to reports received by the committee, upgraded MPC&A systems at several storage facilities are operated by Russian personnel, and in some limited cases Russian management has assumed responsibility for costs associated with maintaining them (see Box 1.4). The Russian government and private sectors have developed new capabilities to provide equipment and services in support of MPC&A activity, although more needs to be done in this area. The Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) has developed a plan and committed initial funding to improve the MPC&A system at its single reactor site, with or without international assistance. In addition to these critical successes by Russian experts and by joint U.S.-Russian efforts, DOE has also advanced its own indigenization projects. In 2004, DOE prepared its first sustainability guidelines. The key concepts of which are reflected in the sustainability indicators set forth in Appendix E. These guidelines provide much useful guidance for DOE teams implementing the cooperative program. Further, Rosatom and DOE agreed during the fifth Joint Coordinating Committee meeting in August 2004 to establish a Rosatom-DOE working group to develop a joint strategy on sustainability. Such an achievement should be an important reflection of Russian support. To this end, DOE should insist that

OCR for page 11
Strengthening Long-Term Nuclear Security: Protecting Weapon-Usable Material in Russia Rosatom lead these discussions even if such an approach delays the joint effort. Additionally, the strategy should be aimed at indigenization rather than simply sustaining current efforts, as discussed below. Since Russian facility managers must ultimately implement the strategy after the DOE program ends, they should lead by setting forth their vision. Also, DOE and Rosatom would benefit from an external review of a draft strategy by knowledgeable experts. Such a review would provide an independent perspective as cooperation moves into a new phase of activities. INDIGENIZATION AND SUSTAINABILITY: KEY COMPONENTS OF LONG-TERM SECURITY Sustainability and indigenization are closely related terms. However, indigenization allows, and indeed requires, Russian managers to augment and modify installed systems at the facility level in order to comply with Russian regulations as they evolve. Indigenization also requires recognition that MPC&A systems must be consistent with technical and financial realities of operating within Russia. For example, Russian managers might seek to modify existing components of systems if such modifications ensure adequate protection. If an imported item needs repair, the facility manager might decide to use an alternative approach that ensures a comparable level of security rather than to search for spare parts abroad. On the other hand, sustainability could suggest that the upgraded systems should be maintained as installed. Also, it may imply to some Russian organizations that there will be never-ending financial support from the United States to ensure that the “American” systems work. While both concepts have the same purpose—to ensure internationally acceptable levels of safekeeping of weapon-usable material for the indefinite future—indigenization recognizes that the systems ultimately must be integrated into the Russian technical and legal culture. Indigenization is therefore a broader concept which includes the entire approach to security at both the national and facility levels and is a more desirable and achievable goal. Prompt adjustments in the cooperative program to further indigenization are important. This report sets forth a number of recommendations that should be helpful in this regard. Many of the suggestions not only address near-term concerns but also, if implemented, would facilitate the transfer of responsibility for maintaining well-designed upgraded systems to the managers of Russian facilities for the long term. The Framework for Continued Cooperation Past approaches have too often been characterized by technical assistance, whereby DOE is the dominant party due to its control of the funds. The new

OCR for page 11
Strengthening Long-Term Nuclear Security: Protecting Weapon-Usable Material in Russia approach to MPC&A cooperation should be one of partnership, with Russian counterparts being the lead partners. Only then will Russian support for implemented procedures be deeply internalized and self-sustaining. In this regard, Russian specialists supported by facility managers and security personnel should now lead: (1) the design of MPC&A systems that are to be installed at Russian facilities; (2) the selection of equipment for these systems; (3) vulnerability assessment exercises (known in the United States, but not in Russia, as “Red Team” exercises) and related exercises to test and validate the effectiveness of the systems; and (4) verification that indigenization is incorporated into all activities. Both governments need to give strong support to material conversion and consolidation activities within the MPC&A and related cooperative programs, such as the establishment of the Mayak Fissile Material Storage Facility, constructed under the DOD CTR program, and the plutonium disposition program supported by DOE. The objective is to reduce the amount of weapon-usable material stored at Russian facilities and to consolidate the remaining material into fewer facilities and fewer locations within facilities. Joint efforts to reduce the enrichment of many tons of HEU to low enriched uranium (LEU) that can be used in civilian power reactors is an excellent example of a program that can reduce MPC&A requirements at some facilities. As to consolidation across facilities, there are few publicly reported successes—outside the navy program—in reducing the number of facilities that retain some level of material. This is largely because facilities currently benefit from having weapon-usable material even when there is no near-term or long-term need for it: the mere presence of the material often justifies retention of a significant workforce. At the same time, however, internal consolidation of material is moving forward at a number of facilities. In this regard, DOE should continue to explore means of encouraging Russian facilities to permanently remove weapon-usable material when it is not immediately required for the operation of the facility. The provision of modern scientific equipment or laboratories may be among the incentives offered in exchange for the elimination of material. DOE should give special attention to assisting Rosatom and other organizations in removing fuel from obsolete research reactors, converting operating reactors that use HEU to reactors dependent on LEU, and shipping the excess HEU to appropriate storage sites. While the consolidation of HEU is more frequently discussed, the consolidation of plutonium also cannot be neglected. Metrics should be developed and implemented by Russian specialists in cooperation with DOE specialists to measure progress toward the establishment of acceptable MPC&A systems at the facility level and to measure progress toward indigenization. The emphasis should be on measuring the integrated effectiveness of entire systems, not simply on counting the number of security upgrades installed. Integrated assessments should incorporate factors that mea-

OCR for page 11
Strengthening Long-Term Nuclear Security: Protecting Weapon-Usable Material in Russia sure indigenization, account for internal and external facility environments, and adjust to changing risk assessments. The sustainability indicators proposed by DOE could be helpful in this regard (see Appendix E). Greater awareness among Russian officials, managers, and specialists of the importance of protecting nuclear material by developing a strong, modern nuclear security culture should be generated through education and training programs, training exercises, and awards. A number of Russian specialists have had temporary assignments at the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, where they have been deeply immersed in training and international work emphasizing the importance of protecting material. They provide a strong cadre from which to spread awareness of the importance of MPC&A, particularly among facility leaders; and they should be encouraged to continue their outreach. The education and training programs that DOE has supported in Moscow, Obninsk, and Tomsk are also facilitating the development of a security culture. A skilled and motivated workforce at the facility level could promote effective security in parallel with efforts to strengthen and modernize security policies and could contribute to the protection of material even if Russian leaders do not give sufficient priority to MPC&A.8 In sum, Russia and the United States have unique nuclear experience, and they have an unequivocal obligation to use this experience to prevent a nuclear catastrophe anywhere in the world. The first priority is for both countries to ensure that the weapon-usable material in its own possession is under adequate security. The cooperative MPC&A program provides an important mechanism for enhancing security of material throughout the Russian nuclear complex, but such cooperation will be limited in duration. Unless Russia continues to maintain adequate security systems for decades into the future, the entire cooperative effort will serve no long-term purpose. The result could be a nuclear disaster. Thus, both the U.S. and Russian governments must make protection of nuclear material a top global priority. The work initiated through the cooperative program must be finished correctly, rapidly, and in a manner that facilitates indigenization—the transfer of full MPC&A responsibility to the Russian Federation. 8   For more information on security culture, see: Khripunov, I., D. Nikonov, and M. Katsva. 2004. Nuclear Security Culture: The Case of Russia, Center for International Trade, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia.

OCR for page 11
Strengthening Long-Term Nuclear Security: Protecting Weapon-Usable Material in Russia This page intentionally left blank.