to be gained, the potential transfer of militarily sensitive technology or know-how, the foreign policy impact of space cooperation, why the Soviet Union wanted to pursue space cooperation, and how all of these issues factored into overall U.S.-Soviet relations. At the time of the report, the United States had a decade of experience with a Soviet relationship that was characterized by OTA as “strained, unpredictable, and ambiguous.”2 However, the report concludes: “From a scientific and practical point of view, past experience has shown that cooperation in space can lead to substantive gains in some areas of space research and applications, and can provide the United States with improved insight into the Soviet space program and Soviet society as a whole.”3 The OTA risk-benefit analysis came out in favor of cooperation.

Similarly, the Joint Verification Experiment Agreement of May 31, 1988, addressed many sensitive nuclear testing issues and ultimately led to an extraordinary set of interactions that allowed scientists, technicians, and observers from the United States and the Soviet Union not only to observe an underground nuclear explosion experiment at each other’s test sites, but also to measure explosion yields and discuss the test results.4 Although clearly distinct from the beginning of the DOD CTR program, these U.S. efforts provided important underpinnings for the DOD CTR effort, especially on the Russian side.5

The DOD CTR program has never operated in a vacuum, but rather as a component of much broader national and international efforts. The threats that the United States faces today and is likely to confront in the future are more diverse and complex than were those posed by the former Soviet Union (FSU). The committee has found that DOD CTR and other cooperative threat reduction programs have been successful in the past, and is confident that these programs can be adapted and applied to new situations.

The DOD CTR program was created in response to the unique circumstances surrounding the collapse of the Soviet Union. The events leading to the August 1991 coup and subsequent breakup of the Soviet Union had their roots in the accelerated change inspired by the 1980s glasnost’ (“openness”) policy


Ibid. p. 1.




“At a summit in Washington, D.C. in December 1987, the two countries agreed to a set of on-site reciprocal experiments to monitor nuclear explosions at their corresponding test facilities. This culminated in the Joint Verification Experiments (JVE) where Soviet experts monitored a nuclear explosion at the Nevada Test Site on August 17, 1988, and U.S. experts monitored a nuclear explosion at the Semipalatinsk test site on September 14, 1988. … The JVEs laid the foundation for future technical cooperation between Russian and American scientists.” National Academy of Sciences. 2005. Monitoring Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear-Explosive Materials: An Assessment of Methods and Capabilities. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press. 31-32 pp. Available as of March 2009 at


For a Russian perspective on the contributions of the JVEs, see National Research Council. 2004. Overcoming Impediments to U.S.-Russian Cooperation on Nuclear Nonproliferation: Report of a Joint Workshop. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press. 71-72 pp.

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