custodians, since there were no financially affordable disposal pathways for those that had exceeded their useful lifetimes or were no longer needed. Poorly protected IRSs, and particularly those that have been abandoned, can become easy prey for terrorist groups.
The IAEA is leading international efforts to enhance security of IRSs. The agency has prepared the Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources and supporting documents that provide guidance for ensuring both the safety and the security of IRSs. Also, it has long had a technical assistance program to help member states improve the security of IRSs. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), in close cooperation with the IAEA, has undertaken a limited but important set of cooperative activities with other countries in enhancing security of IRSs in those countries. Programs in Russia have been an important component of this global effort.
The committee decided to concentrate its efforts on the radiological terrorism threat posed by inadequately protected IRSs in Russia and on feasible approaches to upgrading the security of IRSs in Russia. Based on site visits by committee members, consultations with dozens of Russian and U.S. specialists, and reports prepared by our Russian collaborators, the committee concludes that shortcomings in the security and life-cycle management of IRSs in Russia present a serious problem. Hence, the special attention directed to security of IRSs in Russia within DOE’s global programs is very appropriate.
A successful RDD detonation in Russia, or indeed in any country, poses serious problems for the United States. Such attacks could provide a “proof of principle” for terrorists who have not yet used radiological weapons, possibly encouraging copycat attacks by terrorists in the United States or against U.S. interests abroad. An RDD attack in Russia or elsewhere could undermine the credibility of the IAEA as an effective international organization for ensuring nuclear safety and security, just at a time when the United States is firmly committed to strengthening this organization to deal with nuclear security and nonproliferation issues worldwide. The United States has considerable interest in helping to ensure that the security of IRSs in Russia meets an international level of acceptability and that Russia improves the full life-cycle management of its IRSs.
The committee is deeply concerned over the continuing decline in the level of DOE resources being allocated to the cooperative program in Russia. DOE should move forward promptly to work with Russian counterparts to address the most urgent problems and help them develop and implement their program. Of special relevance to development of a comprehensive Russian program for addressing the security of IRSs is the approach of the Federal Atomic Energy Agency (Rosatom) in the area of “safety” of IRSs and radioactive waste. Rosatom has developed and regularly articulates a comprehensive overview of safety-related actions that are needed and are under way. According to Rosatom officials, this overview is very helpful in guiding the national effort.
During the past several years, and particularly since September 11, 2001, inter-