hundreds of tons of chemical weapons; and a massive biological weapons research, development, and production infrastructure. Much of the remaining weapons of mass destruction (WMD) capability existed in closed cities and limited access areas, many of which were known only by postal codes and never appeared on official Soviet maps. The potential loss of weapons and the vulnerability of weapons materials and expertise drove a sense of urgency.

U.S. negotiators arrived in Moscow with no specific plan and through constructive discussions between senior military officers, officials, and technical experts, the Cooperative Threat Reduction program was born. The initial focus was to assist the Newly Independent States (NIS) of the former Soviet Union (FSU), particularly those in which nuclear weapons were located.

The DOD CTR program was initially authorized by Public Law 102-228. The law defined three primary program objectives: (1) assist the former Soviet states to destroy nuclear, chemical, and other weapons; (2) transport, store, disable, and safeguard weapons in connection with their destruction; and (3) establish verifiable safeguards against the proliferation of such weapons. In 1992, these objectives were expanded to include dismantling missiles and missile launchers; destroying destabilizing conventional weapons; preventing diversion of weapons-related scientific expertise; establishing science and technology centers; facilitating demilitarization of defense industries and converting military capabilities and technologies; and expanding military-to-military and defense contacts.

The DOD CTR program had few precedents to guide its initial development, but there was a sense of urgency that was shared by leaders in both Russia and the United States, in some cases for different reasons. Russia’s new leaders were interested in remaining the sole nuclear power in the region, but also recognized that foreign financial assistance would be critical to consolidate, safeguard, and in some cases dismantle weapons systems as well as to help the country through a turbulent economic period. U.S. leaders were concerned about the potential threat from four new nuclear states, about accountability for any U.S. assistance provided for threat reduction, and how to ensure that assistance provided was not used to sustain or enhance former Soviet weapons capabilities.

DOD policies, procedures, and rules developed to implement its CTR program were complex, and the process of putting agreements into place to govern the new program activities were unfamiliar to the leaders of the NIS. In the United States, some individuals in Congress were unconvinced that the program was in U.S. national security interests and saw the program more as foreign assistance. Despite a long record of CTR accomplishments, the challenge of demonstrating the national security benefits of CTR 2.0 will also require an ongoing set of consultations between the executive and legislative branches to ensure that members of Congress and their staffs understand the program’s strategy and approaches.

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