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AN ASSESSMENT OF THE INTERNATIONAL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY CENTER: Redirecting Expertise in Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Former Soviet Union 3 The ISTC After Two Years This chapter notes several other appraisals of the International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) and then presents the committee 's assessment of the ISTC's success, after its first two years, in meeting its primary and secondary objectives. THE ISTC'S TWO-YEAR INTERNAL REVIEW In 1996 the ISTC parties (Russia, Japan, the European Union, and the United States) conducted an internal review pursuant to Article XV(A) of the agreement and Article II of the protocol on the provisional application of the agreement establishing the ISTC. Their report, issued in March 1996, was generally positive.1 The parties reaffirmed the ISTC's objectives and their own commitment to the agreement and to the prescribed manner of implementation. The parties also recommended ways to enhance the ISTC's ability to meet its objectives. The committee agrees in large measure with the findings of the parties in their two-year review. This chapter delineates some of the areas of agreement and disagreement. THE U.S. CONGRESS The overall goals of the U.S. Department of Defense Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) program enjoy support in the U.S. Congress, as evidenced by the annual appropriations for the program since fiscal year 1992. In 1996 the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations conducted a series of hearings on global proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the U.S. Government's response to this threat. A subcommittee staff report acknowledged the role economic hardship plays in creating an atmosphere ripe for nuclear diversion and found that the ISTC “has been critical in the effort to provide challenging civilian alternatives for ex-Soviet weapons scientists.”2 However, the ISTC also has been subject to criticism from some members of Congress and other policymakers. One argument, heard among members and staff of the U.S. Congress, is that the funds going to the former Soviet Union (FSU), and Russia in particular, are in fact assisting future Russian military capabilities.3 Some members' constituents are hostile to foreign assistance and ask why the United States is supporting Russia when it has its own pressing domestic needs, and, more specifically, why the United States is supporting Russian scientists and engineers when scientists and engineers at home are being laid off by both government and industrial laboratories. Without discounting the importance of domestic funding needs, proponents of the CTR program and related programs have called such efforts “defense by other means,” pointing out the gains that the United States makes by helping to eliminate weapons of mass destruction and curb their proliferation. THE U.S. GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE The U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) issued a report to Congress in 1995 addressing, in part, these concerns. The report was generally favorable regarding the ISTC, noting that it appeared to have “made a good beginning in achieving its nonproliferation objectives by supporting work on peaceful projects for scientists engaged in weapons of mass destruction and missile delivery systems activities.”4 However, the report also noted that because ISTC projects do not necessarily fund 100 percent of scientists' time, and because most scientists funded by the ISTC continue to be employed by institutes engaged in weapons work, it is possible that they continue to spend at least some of their time on weapons-related research. 1 Agreement Establishing an International Science and Technology Center: Two Year Review, ISTC, Moscow, 29, 1996. 2 Staff Statement, U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (Minority Staff), Hearings on Global Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction: Illicit Trafficking in Nuclear Materials, March 22, 1996, p. 35. 3 See, for example, Theodor Galdi, The Nunn-Lugar Program for Soviet Weapons Dismantlement: Background and Implementation, Congressional Research Service, Washington, D.C., 1995, p. 20. 4 U.S. GAO, Weapons of Mass Destruction: Reducing the Threat From the Former Soviet Union: An Update, Report to Congress, GAO, Washington, D.C., 1995, p. 27.
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AN ASSESSMENT OF THE INTERNATIONAL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY CENTER: Redirecting Expertise in Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Former Soviet Union ISTC officials concur that ISTC grants do not necessarily support all program scientists and engineers full-time, but they disclaim the implication in U.S. newspaper articles that ISTC funds are supporting FSU military work.5 Moreover, ISTC officials stressed in response to the articles that the ISTC's goal was never to prevent all weapons scientists and engineers from working on weapons-related research in the FSU but rather to offer opportunities for other research to reduce the risk of proliferation. The committee found no evidence of ISTC funds supporting military work. CRITICISM WITHIN RUSSIA Russian critics of the ISTC and related scientific collaborative programs claim that the programs allow foreigners to steal Russia 's best ideas and brightest scientists, as discussed in the previous chapter. While the committee was confronted with these allegations by several institute heads and by Russian officials, most people with whom the committee met were supportive of the ISTC. In contrast to the early criticisms in Russia, the committee found the ISTC to be well received by the Russian Foreign Ministry and the technical institute managers interviewed for this report. One official at the Ministry of Atomic Energy noted that the “ISTC is our only hope. . . . [It] complements Russia's philosophy of disarmament and collaboration. . . . Russia does not plan to go back to the Cold War era. . . . [Therefore] we have to work [with the West] to remove all barriers. ” THE COMMITTEE'S ASSESSMENT OF THE ISTC The committee was aware of the criticisms made by members of Congress, the GAO, and the news media before its meetings and visits to Russia and paid special attention to these matters. The committee reached its own independent judgments on the effectiveness of the ISTC in meeting its objectives, as described below. THE ISTC'S PRIMARY OBJECTIVE FINDING: The ISTC has met its primary objective of providing nonweapons-related work opportunities for weapons scientists and engineers. The ISTC has given highest priority to meeting its primary objective of providing opportunities for weapons scientists and engineers, particularly those possessing knowledge and skills related to weapons of mass destruction or missile delivery systems, to redirect their talents to nondefense-related activities. The ISTC has endeavored to reach a large number of scientists and engineers in institutes throughout Russia and the other former Soviet republics. As of March 1996, ISTC grants provided some amount of salary support to approximately 12,500 scientists and engineers in the FSU, the majority of whom possess skills related to weapons of mass destruction or missile delivery systems.6 The committee visited 13 institutes involved in ISTC activities and met about 100 skillful, energetic, and informed scientists who are now earning enough money to survive in their present establishments while working on nondefenserelated research and who, therefore, are less likely to emigrate (except, perhaps, to Europe or the United states). The impact of ISTC funding on individual institutes varies greatly. At some of the institutes the committee visited, the ISTC was providing between 10 and 50 percent of the total budget. The director of the Institute for Applied Microbiology, for example, noted that the ISTC currently provides 10 percent of the institute's funds and that he hopes to increase the number of ISTC grants over the next several years. At Arzamas-16, the 50 or so ISTC-funded projects support some 1,200 scientists for about 50 percent of their time. At other institutes, ISTC support is less significant. At the Kurchatov Institute, for example, less than 2 percent of the budget comes from the ISTC. While its activities are clearly directed at weapons scientists, the ISTC itself sets no requirement for a specific level of participation by weapons scientists in a project. Rather, each participating country establishes its own funding criteria. Under its so-called Purity of Objective Criteria, the United States requires that 60 percent of a project's personnel have weapons-related experience. The committee believes that the ISTC-funded projects involve appropriate numbers of weapons scientists and that those scientists are now working on nondefense projects. As noted above, some critics of the ISTC have expressed concern that FSU weapons scientists may not be completely reoriented to nondefense-related research. It should be noted that the ISTC cannot, nor ever intended to, convert every FSU weapons scientist to 100 percent civilian work. Rather, by facilitating other avenues of work and providing incentives for weapons scientists to think about civilian applications of their work, the ISTC is decreasing the likelihood that they will want or need to sell their knowledge and expertise to hostile countries. Based on committee discussions with directors and researchers, ISTC grants on average support 50 percent of individual researchers' time. The committee finds this to be desirable because the financial benefit 5 While the GAO report never explicitly stated that ISTC funds were being used for weapons-related research, several newspaper articles, referring to a draft version of the GAO report, implied that U.S. funds may be supporting weapons-related research. See, for example, “Draft Report Says U.S. May Be Aiding Russian Nuclear-Arms, Nerve-Gas Work,” The Wall Street Journal, May 22, 1995, and “Russia Uses Pentagon Funds in Constructing New Nukes,” The Washington Times, May 23, 1995. 6 Joint Statement of the Governing Board of ISTC from its March 28 –29, 1996, meeting.
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AN ASSESSMENT OF THE INTERNATIONAL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY CENTER: Redirecting Expertise in Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Former Soviet Union and even part-time support encourages openness and the potential for increased international collaboration. FINDING: The opportunities provided to scientists and engineers in the FSU by ISTC grants offer meaningful nonweapons-related work. Since the mid-1980s, scientists and engineers have seen their salaries drop as quickly and significantly as their prestige and stature in society. As discussed in the previous chapter, many have left their scientific professions; others continue their work but see little recognition from their colleagues, superiors, or government that their efforts are of any use. The international recognition that an ISTC grant provides can assure a scientist or engineer that his work has meaning and thereby addresses the demoralization that may otherwise contribute to a scientist's being lured by unfriendly governments. The committee listened to reports from many scientists and engineers and concluded that ISTC-funded research was of high quality and on substantive issues. Moreover, based on the committee's many discussions, the ISTC is buying an enormous amount of good will toward the United States (and other participating countries) among researchers in the FSU. Scientists and engineers there are very grateful and value the opportunity to interact and communicate with sponsors and collaborators. FINDING: The ISTC management and its supporting structure (Governing Board, Scientific Advisory Committee) are working well but may need to be modified. Together, the ISTC staff, the internal Russian screening process, and the country review process are ensuring that ISTC grant requirements regarding the involvement of weapons scientists are met. In general, the committee believes that the administrative structure is appropriate and effective. One remark made by an ISTC-supported scientist was particularly telling. She said that, in contrast to many institutions in Russia today, the “ISTC is not corrupt!” A bit too bureaucratic, perhaps, in part because of its multinational responsibilities, but essentially this scientist is convinced that the ISTC operates with integrity and scientific dispassion. A concern to the committee is that the ISTC staff will soon be stretched thin. At the time of the committee's visit, each project manager was responsible for monitoring about 16 projects. This number increases with each new round of funding, although the number should stabilize as projects near their end. Effective monitoring requires regular contact with researchers and at least one annual site visit. In addition to monitoring existing projects, project managers spend a significant amount of time working with researchers to write proposals and contracts. The ISTC should consider assigning the role of monitoring to a responsible collaborator on each project. The collaborator would have as much interest as the ISTC in ensuring that the project is being carried out properly, and, while the collaborator's work in this regard would not replace all ISTC involvement, it would reduce the burden for ISTC project managers. The committee also noted some ambiguity in the role of the ISTC's Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC). According to the ISTC agreement, the SAC is responsible for providing scientific advice on proposals submitted to the ISTC. For this task the U.S. members of the advisory committee have relied principally on scientists and engineers at U.S. national laboratories to conduct peer reviews. From the committee 's early discussions with laboratory personnel and SAC members, this process is working but is on the verge of overburdening laboratory personnel and SAC members. In its own internal review, the ISTC noted that it is “difficult or impossible for the SAC to submit review results to the Board within the deadlines defined in the Agreement. ”7 The committee understands that the ISTC is addressing this issue. In some cases, laboratory employees may not be the most appropriate reviewers (e.g., in cases of commercially oriented research), and more involvement by industrial laboratories may be appropriate. The committee returns to this issue in the next chapter. The SAC is also responsible for providing advice on questions of policy. However, it is not clear that it has been called on to advice or that procedures exist for it to influence the ISTC's policies and future directions. THE ISTC'S SECONDARY OBJECTIVES The founding parties of the ISTC recognized that supporting a weapons scientist or engineer for one or two years is not sufficient to induce a permanent career move or reorientation of an individual's and institute 's research. But by concentrating on its primary objective, the ISTC has helped to create an environment that is more conducive to the larger R&D transition taking place in the FSU; the primary objective is supplemented by secondary objectives intended to support the broader R&D transition. Of course, ultimate responsibility for redirection of the R&D effort and revitalization of civilian R&D rests with the governments of the former Soviet republics. But the ISTC can help provide a bridge for the transition. This section, in discussing the secondary objectives of the ISTC, addresses the questions: How long and wide does the bridge have to be? What is at the other end of the bridge? There are also questions that need to be answered and issues to be addressed in the near term. The ISTC's secondary objectives are to: contribute to the solution of national and international technical problems, reinforce the transition of the FSU to a market-based economy that is responsive to civilian needs, 7 ISTC, op cit., p. 2.
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AN ASSESSMENT OF THE INTERNATIONAL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY CENTER: Redirecting Expertise in Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Former Soviet Union support basic and applied research and technology development for peaceful purposes, and promote integration of FSU scientists into the international scientific community. FINDING: The ISTC is contributing to the solution of national and international technical problems. Science and engineering are often enhanced when they are directed at solving real problems. The ISTC's 1995 annual report lists examples of projects aimed at solving important national and international technical problems—for example, research on nuclear reactor safety, radiation technologies, development of building blocks for general-purpose communications systems, instrumentation, and nontraditional energy sources. Three ISTC-sponsored projects at the Central Aerohydrodynamics Institute (TsAGI) are noteworthy illustrations that demonstrate implementation of this ISTC secondary objective. One project involves the development of methods for laminar flow control and turbulent drag reduction, which are fundamental problems of modern fluid and gas dynamics. Major advances could significantly reduce the drag, weight, fuel consumption, and operating costs of a high-speed aircraft. Another project at TsAGI is tackling environmental problems (noise, atmospheric pollution, etc.) that must be solved if a next-generation supersonic transport is to be built. TsAGI engineers have a great deal of expertise to offer in this area because they participated in the design, testing and flight certification of the TU-144, a Russian supersonic transport that operated for 10 years before it was withdrawn from service. Another project concerns wake-vortex evolution. The goal of this project is to develop criteria that will permit less separation of aircraft, particularly in the takeoff and landing phases, without compromising aircraft safety. Results from all of these projects are of great interest not only to the United States but to the international aeronautical community as well. Through ISTC funding, the TsAGI engineers and scientists are bringing a different perspective and a highly competent multidisciplinary approach to bear on the solution of these complex problems. In a similar demonstration of research directed at solving national and international problems, a project at the Institute of Chemical Physics is aimed at the theoretical understanding of neurological diseases involving neuron degeneration (e.g., Alzheimer's disease) and the development of drugs to counter this degeneration. At the St. Petersburg State Electrical Engineering University, an ISTC grant is allowing researchers to continue work on silicon carbide devices that would operate reliably at much higher temperatures and power levels than devices made from presently available materials. Of particular interest is the potential of these devices to increase the reliability of control systems for power plants. FINDING: The ISTC's objective of reinforcing the transition of the FSU to a market-driven economy has had only limited success. Today science and technology play an important role as an “engine” of economic development. Industries and economies become successful by converting scientific and technological advances into innovative products for the marketplace. Thus, the connection of research activities with market needs is a vitally important one for economic development. This connection between research and market needs was absent under the Soviet system and today is only beginning to develop in Russia and the other former Soviet republics. Traditional Russian industry is in very poor condition (except perhaps the oil and gas industry). High-tech industry, with the exception of aerospace, undertakes almost no research and is without the capital to exploit new developments. The private sector is simply not strong enough to give rise to a substantial domestic demand for innovations. While the ISTC can and should help, it should be explicit about its goals and objectives in this area. The conversion of weapons institutes to civilian work is an extremely difficult—some would say impossible—task. Critics of the possibilities for successful defense conversion are abundant in the United States. As noted by K. Adelman and N. Augustine in writing on defense conversion, “Defense work has little in common with civilian work. These two areas demand different skills and marketing techniques and have different cultures and organizations. ”8 The problem is even larger in the FSU, where many weapons scientists and engineers have lived under greater isolation than in the West and the market system is only starting to develop. On the other hand, individual defense scientists and engineers can and have used their experience and talents to develop technologies with civilian applications. This requires access to information and an environment conducive to entrepreneurial activity. Unfortunately, the typical weapons scientist in the FSU has no knowledge or experience in how market-driven organizations function or in how to select a potentially useful problem to solve and then transfer significant research results to commercial practice. Driven by economics, FSU institutes are spinning off small companies, while researchers within institutes are engaging in various forms of entrepreneurial activity in hopes of attracting foreign partners and foreign capital. The committee heard from individuals at the Institute for Applied Microbiology, the Institute of Chemical Physics, Arzamas16, and others about joint ventures they are pursuing and products and skills they plan to market. In a particularly noteworthy example, a researcher at the Institute of Radioengineering and Electronics has developed his own company within the institute to produce laser metrology instruments. He has received more orders than he could accept and is 8 Kenneth L. Adelman and Norman R. Augustine, “Defense Conversion: Bulldozing the Management,” Foreign Affairs, vol. 71, no. 2, 1992, p. 27.
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AN ASSESSMENT OF THE INTERNATIONAL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY CENTER: Redirecting Expertise in Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Former Soviet Union establishing a subsidiary in Germany to handle marketing. This example is perhaps exceptional. The committee found various levels of business and marketing expertise in the FSU, and in most cases the attitude seemed to be closer to “We have a product, so you should buy it ”rather than “What is the market demand and how do we meet it?” Russian science leaders are divided on how much attention the ISTC should pay to this objective at this time. One researcher considers the objective impractical, in the short term, and recommends that the ISTC concentrate its activities on ensuring survival of the scientific work force. Another government official still considers enforcing the transition to a market economy an important ISTC objective, although he recognizes that it is only likely to be met via active “collaboration ” with U.S. and European industrial researchers, which currently is not a strong point of the program (see below). FINDING: The ISTC is supporting basic and applied research and technology development for peaceful purposes. This objective is closely related to the primary objective of providing weapons scientists in the FSU with opportunities to engage in nonweapons-related work. The scientists and engineers the committee spoke to were nearly unanimous in their opinion that the ISTC has been a major factor in mitigating the decline in basic research and development in the scientific fields in which the ISTC operates and in beginning work on peaceful goals. An added benefit of the ISTC is the recognition it gives the grantees in their own country and internationally. ISTC proposals go through an extensive review process in Russia and in each of the participating countries. In the United States the national laboratories have taken the lead on reviewing proposals.9 With similar reviews in the other ISTC participating countries, the award of an ISTC grant carries a recognizable “seal of quality” for a scientific project and its researchers and leads to additional opportunities for funding. The ISTC process also acts as a stimulus for teaching applicants how to write internationally competitive proposals. Competitive funding of scientific research is new for most scientists and engineers in the FSU. The Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR)10 and other grant-making organizations have been operating in Russia for only a few years, and most scientists and engineers in the FSU have little or no experience in writing a competitive proposal. ISTC project managers spend a considerable amount of time with scientists and engineers developing their proposals and preparing them for submission to the ISTC. Clearly, the knowledge and experience this process provides will help FSU scientists and engineers obtain other funding. FINDING: The ISTC is promoting integration of FSU scientists into the international science community but should do more in this regard. The integration of FSU weapons scientists into the international science community is closely related to the primary goal of nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction and one of the most important goals of the ISTC. The committee strongly believes that the more contacts a scientist has with the West, and the more opportunities for active collaboration with Western colleagues, the less likely he/she will be to accept offers from other, less friendly, governments. Moreover, integration of FSU scientists into the international science community also will make a reversal to weapons-related research less likely. Hence, one of the most important aspects of the ISTC program is that it alleviates the isolation of FSU scientists by providing collaborations with foreign scientists. The ISTC encourages those applying for grants to include Western collaborators in their proposed research, which many researchers have done. But the committee repeatedly heard from Russian grant recipients about their desire and need for more active participation from their collaborator(s). At the Institute of Theoretical and Experimental Physics, the St. Petersburg Electrochemical University, and Arzamas-16, Russian researchers lamented the lack of significant professional participation from the Americans who had enthusiastically supported their proposals. ISTC policy does not allow grant funds to be used for Western collaborators to travel to the FSU or participate in conferences. They must cover such costs on their own. It appears that many of the foreign persons named as collaborators in ISTC grant proposals have demonstrated very limited activity in this regard, perhaps amounting to one brief visit per year. FSU scientists, on the other hand, are called on to issue reports quarterly and many hold formal meetings to discuss research progress and directions. Under current ISTC policy, funds for travel, publications, and participation in conferences and workshops are very limited; the committee recognizes the importance of making the largest possible percentage of ISTC funds available to FSU scientists and engineers. The committee also recognizes the time and funding constraints faced by U.S. laboratories. But publication of research results and other means of communicating research results to the international community are important ways to reduce isolation. The ISTC should seek other means of achieving these objectives. While it does not recommend using ISTC grant money to pay for visits to the FSU by Western collaborators, the committee does urge the ISTC to do more to increase the participation of foreign collaborators. We return to this issue in the next chapter. 9 In addition to the scientific review, each proposal is reviewed by an interagency group to ensure that it meets U.S. policy requirements, including the percentage of weapons scientists involved in the project. 10 The RFBR was established by a decree of the President of the Russian Federation in 1992. It is an independent state organization whose primary goal is to support, on a competitive basis, research initiatives in all fields of basic research. The RFBR's receives most of its funding from the Russian Government.
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AN ASSESSMENT OF THE INTERNATIONAL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY CENTER: Redirecting Expertise in Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Former Soviet Union Related to the integration of scientists from the FSU into the international science community is internal integration. As of March 1996, more than 100 funded projects and close to 400 proposals involved more than one institute. The committee saw numerous examples of projects in which two or more institutes were cooperating. Where previously scientists knew very little of what their colleagues in neighboring labs and institutes were doing (to say nothing of institutes in other cities and republics), they are now cooperating on joint proposals and projects. Bringing together research teams as former weapons scientists join in new collaborations constitutes one of the most important contributions of the ISTC, because it acculturates weapons scientists to new ways of thinking and new directions of research. ARZAMAS-16 AND OTHER CLOSED CITIES In this section the committee provides its views on the special considerations of formerly closed cities such as Arzamas-16 and Chelyabinsk-70. A subcommittee visited Arzamas-16 in November 1995 to discuss the impact of ISTC grants. Arzamas-16 and Chelyabinsk-70 are the nuclear weapons design laboratories of the FSU, roughly analogous to Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore national laboratories in the United States. Both Arzamas-16 and Chelyabinsk-70 are located in remote cities, and even today access to them is closely controlled. Visits by foreigners must be requested months in advance and approved by the Ministry of Atomic Energy. Arzamas-16 has approximately 20,000 personnel in a city of about 80,000 people. Since the collapse of the FSU, research funding has been reduced to about 25 percent of its former (1980s) level. The funding is augmented, somewhat, by other sources, but the total is much less than what is needed. Consequently, funding priority is given to salaries, even though these are at a poverty level, while funding for facilities maintenance and utilities is meager and funds hardly exist for equipment. There is no realistic plan to deal with this unsatisfactory situation. Arzamas-16 personnel hope for increased general funding and aspire to become an “international R&D center” in five or ten years, but this would require substantial changes as well as funding to open the city and build modern facilities. Although the number of institute staff has decreased by about 5,000 in recent years, much of this is due to privatization of services; there has been no real downsizing of science and engineering personnel to meet the reduced funding. The reasons for this are several: the Government appears to control the movement of these people and seems to allow very little emigration; the Russian economy offers few opportunities for relocation; and the institute personnel seem to prefer that Arzamas-16 retain its current personnel level and remain as a closed city, even though this means reduced funding and loss of some benefits the institute held under the Soviet Government. Because of the tight control on mobility and its remote location, there has been less risk at Arzamas-16 than elsewhere of scientists being lured by undesirable parties. But the committee senses that dissatisfaction is growing among the scientists and that the risk also may grow. Reflecting the ISTC's goal of reaching core scientists and engineers in the nuclear weapons complex, the largest number of ISTC grants have been awarded to Arzamas-16 and Chelyabinsk-70. As of March 1996 the two institutes combined had primary responsibility for over 40 grants, and their scientists and engineers were involved in many more ISTCfunded projects as collaborating partners. At the time of the subcommittee's visit, the ISTC grants to Arzamas-16 assisted about 1,200 scientists. Although hard to verify, the committee believes that these scientists and engineers are from the weapons field. The committee found the ISTC support to be substantial and important in allowing scientists, who have been quite isolated, to interact with foreign collaborators and to learn where commercial applications of their technologies may exist. There are other sources of Western support at Arzamas16. Under the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Lab-toLab Program, scientists and engineers are working with Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories, and the DOE Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention program provides some support. However, there has been no U.S. private investment. The committee notes one difficulty for the ISTC that is specific to the closed cities. Periodic audits, which are called for under ISTC regulations, involve work at Arzamas-16 that is done in classified areas where key equipment exists. Reflecting the original concerns expressed by members of the Supreme Soviet during negotiations on the ISTC, some Russian researchers and officials at Arzamas-16 remain concerned that staff members from nonweapons states are intrusive during their visits and may be seeking sensitive weapons technologies. The committee believes that the ISTC's staff understand these concerns and is attempting to resolve them. The subcommittee reviewed several projects and visited several work areas and found the projects to be addressing important technical problems. In one project, for example, researchers are using a deuterium-fluoride laser and comparing absorption at two wavelengths to develop a technique for environmental monitoring of gas pipeline leaks. They have identified Gazprom as a potential client and are working with Los Alamos National Laboratory. Another project is seeking to develop ways to safely store large amounts of plutonium or highly enriched uranium. A third project uses fibrous composites in the construction of a containment device for the storage and transport of explosives, sensitive materials, or documents. Researchers on this project have already had some success with a two-layer spherical container. Other projects at Arzamas-16 provide evidence of attempts at commercialization. One group, obviously well versed in piezo-electric transducers, is working on micro-
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AN ASSESSMENT OF THE INTERNATIONAL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY CENTER: Redirecting Expertise in Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Former Soviet Union miniature devices that have a host of applications, including accelerometers and spark plug devices. They already have orders for about 150 and see a market in the tens of thousands. However, they need a manufacturing facility and are looking for partners. The United States and the European Union are funding the work, but the Arzamas-16 researchers claim to have no U.S. contacts. As discussed in the next chapter, this lack of contact is an area in which the committee believes the ISTC can do more. Overall, the committee found the projects at Arzamas-16 to be of high quality and responsive to ISTC objectives. During this period of economic transition, when conditions are quite poor at these weapons laboratories, the ISTC grants are providing an extremely important bridge. It seems unlikely that the Russians will be able to transition these labs to a status that they can reasonably support for at least several years, and ISTC support will be even more important over that time. The Russians will also have to formulate realistic plans to transition the installations in the closed cities to an appropriate post–Cold War status. BIOLOGICAL AND CHEMICAL WARFARE This section provides the committee's views on the special circumstances of biological and chemical warfare (BW/ CW) institutes in the FSU, compared to other weapons institutes, with regard to the ISTC and related assistance programs. A subcommittee reviewed the available information on BW/CW research and visited the State Research Center for Applied Microbiology in Russia. Subcommittee members discussed the state of scientific research at the research center and the impact of ISTC grants with the center's director and numerous scientists. In reaching the conclusions and recommendations below, the committee relied on publicly disclosed information about the Soviet Union's BW/CW research program and has not drawn any new conclusions on the existence or extent of an offensive BW/CW program. The State Research Center for Applied Microbiology was part of the Soviet “Biopreparat” complex, one of three types of BW-related research programs in the Soviet Union. The Biopreparat complex was, ostensibly, under the control of the Ministry of Health but was funded by the Ministry of Defense (MOD). These facilities were clearly engaged in research for the military on dangerous strains with potential BW applications and were at least marginally involved in their use in military applications. The other two groups of facilities were the institutes of the Russian Academies of Sciences and Medicine, which received funds from the Ministry of Defense for basic research with potential relevance to BW, and the military-operated highly secret programs for both offensive and defensive BW. The U.S. Government has limited knowledge about the latter group of institutes and their activities. The research center is in the town of Obolensk, which has a population of approximately 6,000 and is located about 60 miles south of Moscow. The research center is the primary employer for the town. While not a “closed” city, Obolensk is relatively isolated. The primary source of funding for the research center today is the Ministry of Science and Technology. Being designated a “state research center” (one of 61 in Russia) ensures stable funding from the state. However, as noted by the director and as is obvious from the condition of the buildings and laboratories, the amount of funding received from the ministry does not meet the center's need. Outside sources of funding are sorely needed to upgrade equipment, increase salaries to a reasonable level, and allow useful research to continue. In this respect the research center resembles many other FSU institutes. The perception a visitor receives is that of a deserted campus. Many buildings are half occupied; there are spacious grounds with untended grass and that are overgrown with dandelions; and the main laboratory (only about 20 years old) is poorly lit and the safety doors need repair. The number of employees—currently 1,350—is 50 percent of the 1990 level, and researchers acknowledged that many of the best scientists have left. They did not know, or would not say, where those scientists are now; the committee was led to believe they had either emigrated to Western Europe or the United States or had gone into other professions in Russia. While no proof was offered by Obolensk representatives, nothing suggested that the scientists who had departed had gone to “rogue” states. But as with all scientific institutes, the economic crisis makes this a continuing threat. The research center has been trying to develop commercial activities, in particular, contacts and collaborative projects with Western institutes and industry. For example, there is a pharmaceutical company operating at the research institute, and some activities are under way with U.S. firms. But, in general, the research center has had very little success to date in developing commercial and/or research contacts with the West. The research center's difficulties in developing ties with the West are likely due, in part, to its isolated location, the condition of its facilities, and its inadequate communications abilities (e.g., although the center has access to the Internet, it is very limited because of poor and narrow bandwidth communications). But even more, the institute's lack of contact with the West illustrates the problem that BW institutes face: to an even greater degree than nuclear institutes, BW institutes are still shrouded in a cloak of suspicion and secrecy. Russian leaders have not acknowledged in any detail the work that was done at specific institutes; nor have they acknowledged that any of the BW research performed was offensive in nature. Verifying chemical and, especially, biological weapons disarmament poses special difficulties for programs designed to assist the conversion of former BW and CW institutes. Both BW and CW involve dual-use technologies, BW completely so. It is very hard to be confident that all the work
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AN ASSESSMENT OF THE INTERNATIONAL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY CENTER: Redirecting Expertise in Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Former Soviet Union taking place at one facility is dedicated to peaceful purposes, and the legacy of Soviet secrecy that surrounded its work on BW and CW makes it hard to dispel suspicions. As the committee argues below, this makes achieving transparency, which is one of the major goals of the ISTC assistance program, especially important, but it also makes it relatively easy for suspicion and mistrust to linger. The nature of the disarmament regimes for the two types of weaponry also poses special problems. The use of BW and CW was first prohibited by the 1925 Geneva protocol, but neither type of weapon was banned outright. Both the United States and the Soviet Union maintained major offensive and defensive BW and CW research programs.11 CW was to be banned completely by the 1992 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which has unique and demanding verification provisions. Neither the United States nor Russia has ratified the CWC, but implementation programs are being prepared in anticipation of it taking effect. The Defense Department's CTR program provides assistance to Russia for the destruction of its massive chemical weapons arsenal. By contrast, BW is governed by the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), which not only has no verification provisions beyond periodic reporting but permits defensive BW research. The problem is, up to the final stages of weaponization, offensive research and defensive research are virtually indistinguishable. In 1992 the Russian Government confirmed the termination of offensive research and agreed to a trilateral process for the United States, Great Britain, and Russia to resolve questions about past activities and provide confidence in Russia's current activities. That process has stalled, however, fueling suspicions that Russia has not ceased all offensive research. These suspicions have led some in Congress to call for restrictions on the CTR program until it can be certified that Russia is in full compliance with the BWC. Assistance to the former BW (and to a lesser extent CW) research institutes therefore operates in a difficult political climate and, in many respects, faces higher standards in proving the effectiveness of the projects. FINDING: The level of ISTC activity with biological and chemical warfare institutes is not proportional to the threat. As of March 1996 the State Research Center for Applied Microbiology had received five grants, totaling over $900,000, for projects to develop recombinant and immunobiological preparations, recombinant vaccine preparates, biopesticides, and technology for the elimination of environmental oil pollution. The committee found these projects to be useful and relevant to the ISTC's goals. The committee notes that for all ISTC grants only 7 percent of scientists funded by ISTC grants have a background in CW or BW.12 The committee believes that this level of effort is not proportional to the threat and, as discussed in the next chapter, believes more emphasis should be placed on involving scientists and engineers with BW and CW backgrounds. Biotechnology appears to be an exceptionally fruitful field that fosters the transition of Russian R&D. The Russian program includes scientists engaged in research on antiviral and antimicrobials, immunomodulators, and vaccines, as well as research on disease transmission, many aspects of which have potential utility for human and veterinary medicine. A report prepared for the ISTC in 1995 identified key BW technologies and capabilities that have the potential to be converted to civilian end uses.13 A follow-up report provided illustrative information on dual-use biotechnologies and related technologies in Russia.14 The committee notes an upcoming project, to be funded by the Department of Defense and carried out by the National Research Council, to design a comprehensive plan to engage former Soviet BW researchers in continuing collaborative research projects with the West. These projects would address public health problems in Russia as well as broader global health concerns—for example, the need to improve international research, surveillance, and monitoring of emergent diseases. U.S. agricultural research institutes also have shown interest in such research institutes as the Center for Applied Microbiology for potential collaboration on research related to agricultural biotechnology. FINDING: The U.S. biotechnology industry can benefit from partnerships with former biological warfare institutes in the FSU. One reason that large U.S. pharmaceutical firms have been hesitant to become involved with BW institutes is that they generally do not meet U.S. good manufacturing process (GMP) standards, raising concerns about liability and dual standards of quality. U.S. companies have also been unwilling to risk investing in new, from-the-ground-up facilities in the FSU to take advantage of the talent of experienced researchers15 But the problems with the facilities in the FSU 11 The United States unilaterally halted its offensive BW research in 1969 and led the effort to create the Biological Weapons Convention. 12 The International Science and Technology Center: Second Annual Report; January–December 1995, ISTC, Moscow, 1995, p. 6. 13 Biotechnology: Key Capabilities and Commercial Requirements, report to International Science and Technology Center, prepared by Orion Enterprises, Inc., Fredericksburg, VA, 1995. 14 Report to the International Science and Technology Center: Commer-cial Opportunities for Russian Biotechnology, prepared by Novecon and Technoconsult, Reston, VA, 1995. 15 This view is supported by Anthony Rimmington in a discussion of the conversion of BW facilities to civilian activities: “. . . the absence of international manufacturing standards, the possibility of contamination and the appalling quality of existing buildings has meant that such (military microbiological) facilities have failed to secure the necessary investment of Western pharmaceutical companies ” (“From Military to Industrial Complex? The Conversion of Biological Weapons' Facilities in the Russian Federation,” Contemporary Security Policy, vol. 17, no. 1, 1996, p. 81).
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AN ASSESSMENT OF THE INTERNATIONAL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY CENTER: Redirecting Expertise in Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Former Soviet Union are much more likely to be viewed as barriers by large U.S. or European pharmaceutical companies than from the standpoint of an early-stage research biotechnology company. The latter would not require GMP facilities. The committee believes that many U.S. biotechnology companies are not well informed about the opportunities that exist in the FSU. The U.S. companies are small and highly focused on achieving profitability without distractions and hence are not inclined to actively search out partnerships with Russian institutes. Yet with open lines of communication and a mechanism through which to collaborate, U.S. biotechnology firms have the potential to benefit from some FSU technology and R&D. THE PROLIFERATION THREAT The committee's review of the ISTC's primary and secondary objectives yields a fairly positive assessment of the ISTC after two years, with noted caveats and areas for improvement. What, then, of the overall goal of the ISTC—to reduce the threat of proliferation? After two years, what more do we know about emigration and the threat of diffusion of weapons know-how? Chapter 2 gave an overview of the emigration by FSU scientists and engineers that has been occurring since the mid-1980s and noted the difficulties in assessing emigration as it relates to scientists and engineers involved in research on weapons of mass destruction. During all of its visits and discussions, the committee sought facts concerning the emigration of such scientists and engineers. Not surprisingly, we heard no outright admissions of core weapons scientists leaving for undesirable countries. The committee did find many scientists and engineers who continue to do outstanding work. There are two factors that mitigate against large-scale emigration. One is that the Russian Government still exercises control over its weapons scientists and other individuals with security clearances, particularly those in the closed cities. The second is the desire of these scientists to continue to work in their own country and to do work that will benefit their country. Unfortunately, both of these factors are very difficult to measure. While anecdotal evidence, particularly in the early 1990s, suggested that large numbers of scientists were leaving the country, no data have emerged to indicate that any scientists or engineers possessing crucial weapons expertise have fled to rogue countries. Although the ISTC cannot be solely credited with this positive result, it can certainly take credit for being a positive contributing factor. FINDING: The proliferation risk remains high, and the ISTC continues to have a role in mitigating that risk. A recent assessment by R. Adam Moody provides a sanguine update16 Remarking on the absence of reliable data concerning the emigration of Russian nuclear scientists and engineers, Moody concludes that, based on an analysis of information from some 150 sources, a “mass exodus of scientists and engineers from the post–Soviet states has not occurred.” He adds a statement from a U.S. government official who works on emigration issues: “For those few people who will be tempted to share critical information for money, there is little that can be done, regardless of whether that person is Russian, American, British, or any other nationality.” Therein lies the dilemma in assessing emigration figures as they relate to nuclear issues. The overall figures can help predict the impact of internal and external emigration on the future of Russia 's science and engineering enterprise. But figures on the emigration of scientists and engineers with knowledge of weapons of mass destruction do not yield a ready diagnosis. One or two defectors to North Korea or China—rumors are rife about both countries—could create inestimable damage. For now there is no way to accurately measure the extent of the participation of Russian nuclear scientists and engineers in the diffusion of nuclear knowhow. The economic and social conditions remain poor for scientists and engineers, particularly in the weapons institutes. The following points, raised in earlier sections, merit reiteration: The key weapons institutes in the FSU are not downsizing commensurate with budget reductions. Consequently, their staff members receive very low salaries and have poor working conditions. Although directors are applying all possible funds to salaries, at the expense of facilities and equipment, salaries remain at a poverty level. There have been overtures from undesirable parties and the temptation must be significant. Hence, although there is no evidence of weapons scientists selling out to rogue states, the risk that any would do so remains great. 16 R. Adam Moody, “Reexamining Brain Drain from the Former Soviet Union,” The Nonproliferation Review, vol. 2, no. 3, 1996, pp. 92–97.
Representative terms from entire chapter: