2
The Need for Russian Champions of MPC&A

RUSSIAN INTEREST IN MODERN MPC&A SYSTEMS

Judging from many U.S.-Russian interactions, a limited number of Russian officials and specialists are deeply committed to improving the security of weapon-usable material, by giving high professional priority to modern systems for the protection, control, and accounting of nuclear matierals (MPC&A). However, they have considerable difficulty commanding political and budgetary support for MPC&A programs from Russian governmental leaders in key positions. Within Russia there are simply many competing priorities across all sectors of social and economic development in general and, as discussed in Chapter 1, in the national security sector in particular.

Few Russian officials deny the importance of MPC&A systems, but many are not convinced that Russia must replace the traditional Soviet security methods for protecting nuclear material. Those systems relied in large measure on “gates, guards, and guns” and on primitive accounting systems—methods that were effective within the closed Soviet society. These Russian officials have been reluctant to pursue change, particularly if Russia must incur the costs of replacement systems.

Indeed, based on comments from Russian specialists and officials to the committee, had it not been for the economic difficulties in Russia and the availability of United States funding in the early 1990s, participation in the cooperative MPC&A program would have been of little interest to the Russian government and to individual facilities. In the absence of immediate and substantial financial support at a time of economic hardship, the sensitivity of the topic



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Strengthening Long-Term Nuclear Security: Protecting Weapon-Usable Material in Russia 2 The Need for Russian Champions of MPC&A RUSSIAN INTEREST IN MODERN MPC&A SYSTEMS Judging from many U.S.-Russian interactions, a limited number of Russian officials and specialists are deeply committed to improving the security of weapon-usable material, by giving high professional priority to modern systems for the protection, control, and accounting of nuclear matierals (MPC&A). However, they have considerable difficulty commanding political and budgetary support for MPC&A programs from Russian governmental leaders in key positions. Within Russia there are simply many competing priorities across all sectors of social and economic development in general and, as discussed in Chapter 1, in the national security sector in particular. Few Russian officials deny the importance of MPC&A systems, but many are not convinced that Russia must replace the traditional Soviet security methods for protecting nuclear material. Those systems relied in large measure on “gates, guards, and guns” and on primitive accounting systems—methods that were effective within the closed Soviet society. These Russian officials have been reluctant to pursue change, particularly if Russia must incur the costs of replacement systems. Indeed, based on comments from Russian specialists and officials to the committee, had it not been for the economic difficulties in Russia and the availability of United States funding in the early 1990s, participation in the cooperative MPC&A program would have been of little interest to the Russian government and to individual facilities. In the absence of immediate and substantial financial support at a time of economic hardship, the sensitivity of the topic

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Strengthening Long-Term Nuclear Security: Protecting Weapon-Usable Material in Russia would have made it extremely difficult to initiate the cooperation. Fortunately, when the MPC&A program began, scientists were building trust on both sides of the ocean; it was these scientists who helped convince the governments of the proposed program’s value. The difficulties encountered in implementing a program that lacked widespread political support in Russia are understandable. Despite these circumstances, the program has nevertheless achieved a remarkable degree of success and has laid a substantial foundation for further progress. Now the challenge is to shift emphasis from economic motivation to political motivation. Russian champions are the key to responding to this challenge. If MPC&A programs are to be truly effective in the long term, committed Russian champions must mobilize broadly based political and financial support for the current cooperative program. Without such support, upgrading MPC&A systems will be of interest only to the extent that the U.S. government is willing to finance such activities. And once upgrades have been installed, the readiness of Russian organizations to continue to support modern systems with their own funds will be less than certain. As discussed in Chapter 1, common perceptions of the nuclear threat, of facility vulnerabilities, and of the importance of modern systems in responding to that threat are essential for making the transition from cooperation to effective indigenization. There must not only be shared perceptions among U.S. and Russian counterparts, but also common perceptions within Russia. Without strong Russian champions, an internal consensus on the importance of modern MPC&A systems and their implementation will not be achieved. The Department of Energy (DOE) has consistently given high priority to the cooperative MPC&A program, and the Congress has steadfastly supported the program for more than a decade. U.S. support stems from a desire to protect the United States and the world from a nuclear catastrophe. Many influential political leaders believe that the United States is an especially likely target of catastrophic terrorism, thus creating concern about the security of weapon-usable material in Russia. However, it is hard to convince Russian authorities that they should use their limited resources to help protect the United States if they do not perceive benefits for Russia. A much better approach is to pose the threat in broad global terms, arguing with good justification that a nuclear explosion anywhere would have political, economic, and health repercussions that would adversely affect all countries. It should also be emphasized that the technological capabilities of terrorist groups, including those in Russia, are advancing with each passing year. The threat will only increase with time. CHAMPIONS AT THE HIGHEST LEVELS Leaders at the highest levels—the Russian president, the prime minster, and leading Duma members—should be informed of Western views of the vulnerabilities of Russian facilities. During international meetings they should be en-

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Strengthening Long-Term Nuclear Security: Protecting Weapon-Usable Material in Russia couraged to articulate the importance of modern MPC&A systems wherever weapon-usable material is located. At the implementing level, Rosatom, Rostekhnadzor, the security services, and other responsible bodies should be encouraged to consider MPC&A systems of high priority and reflect this priority in their policy and budget decisions. Also, the Russian Security Council and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs should continue to emphasize the international significance of greater Russian attentiveness to enhanced MPC&A systems. To these ends, committed counterpart organizations within the U.S. government should use their many channels of interactions to convey the importance of modern MPC&A systems to these and other important Russian individuals and organizations. Further, the U.S. president and his advisors should repeatedly stress the significance of protecting weapon-usable material in their meetings with Russian counterparts; DOE and other departments should reinforce this message at the next level of interactions. The U.S. government is not the only government interested in the security of Russia’s weapon-usable material. Indeed, members of the G-8 have expressed both interest and concern on several occasions, and President Vladimir Putin has concurred with the importance of nuclear security in Russia and throughout the world. The topic of MPC&A should remain on the G-8 agenda for the indefinite future. Of special importance is the potential role of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which has been very effective in the United States as a regulator and an advocate for modern MPC&A systems. The NRC could share procedures, training and regulatory expertise, and enforcement approaches with Russian counterparts. Since the NRC is restricted in the use of its own funds for international activities, DOE should provide increased financial support for the NRC to work closely with Rostekhnadzor in promoting increased security over weapon-usable material. DOE should be more receptive to ideas and insights offered by experts from the NRC regarding regulation and enforcement. Also, DOE should support the efforts of nongovernmental organizations in both countries to continually emphasize MPC&A. OTHER STEPS TO DEVELOP CHAMPIONS FOR INDIGENIZATION Based on many discussions in Russia, the committee believes that several additional steps would be helpful in stimulating greater interest in MPC&A throughout the Russian government and the general public. DOE should continually share persuasive documentation on the risks associated with nuclear proliferation and high-consequence nuclear terrorism with key Russian policy officials. At the same time, DOE should not allow other DOE-funded programs in Russia (for example, those on radiological terrorism and on improving nuclear safety in future reactor designs such as inherently safe reactors) to supplant MPC&A as the top priority within the broader U.S.-Russian nuclear security relationship.

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Strengthening Long-Term Nuclear Security: Protecting Weapon-Usable Material in Russia DOE should continue to work with Rosatom to develop a common sustainability strategy, modifying the concept to embrace indigenization. Russian officials and specialists should be encouraged to develop their own concept of indigenization as a basis for reaching agreement on a common approach. Unless Rosatom is fully committed to indigenization, U.S. efforts will have a limited effect. Thus, as a first step, it is important that U.S. efforts be oriented toward supporting compliance with Russian legal obligations as a means of reducing the likelihood of theft, diversion, or misuse of material in the long term. Also, as previously noted, DOE and Rosatom should subject a draft of the strategy to external review by recognized experts in order to obtain independent perspectives. DOE and Rosatom should ensure that each site where cooperative MPC&A projects are located has a jointly developed indigenization plan. DOE and Rosatom should provide guidance for preparing such plans, recognizing that indigenization must be tailored to each individual facility. DOE and Rosatom need clearly understood and peer-reviewed metrics for measuring progress toward achieving the goals of these plans, using a methodology that is developed and embraced by Russian specialists. Progress should be measured by an appropriate Russian review body at least annually; the results of this review could then be shared with DOE. Since the cooperative program is only part of Russia’s MPC&A upgrade activities, Russian specialists should also be encouraged to share their own experiences among themselves. DOE should clarify the significance and function of MPC&A commissioning ceremonies held at Russian facilities for interested U.S. and Russian officials, specialists, and the general public. Rather than being considered the completion of the most important phase of MPC&A cooperation, these ceremonies should represent the beginning of the equally important phase of indigenization. For example, the transfer of responsibility for MPC&A equipment is a critical component of indigenizing the overall MPC&A system at the national and facility level. A limited number of U.S. specialists should continue to periodically visit commissioned facilities for several years after the ceremony to review the state of MPC&A systems and ascertain how the U.S. government might further encourage the indigenization process. DOE should provide Rosatom and other Russian counterparts with information concerning nonproliferation and the prevention of catastrophic terrorism that would be of interest to the Russian public and encourage its wide distribution. Indeed, public outreach in Russia should become an increasingly important aspect of the cooperative program. The foregoing actions, if implemented, would raise the awareness of the importance of effective MPC&A systems in Russia. They would greatly assist in encouraging Russian specialists to become MPC&A champions in both the short term and long term.