relations are to move to a level of complete trust and collaboration.

While the ISTC has contributed to these positive trends, the proliferation threat has not abated. Indeed, the concern is growing, with studies and reports appearing almost daily that cite actual instances or potential avenues of proliferation of weapons and weapons expertise. A staff report by the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations concluded as much, noting that “what is currently known about illicit trafficking in nuclear materials and know-how demonstrates a threat this Nation cannot ignore. . . . The threat of nuclear diversion and trafficking from the former Soviet Union is our Nation's number one national security threat.”1 Further, as noted earlier, the economic and social conditions remain poor for scientists and engineers in the FSU, and the temptation to respond to overtures from undesirable parties must be high.

The ISTC has provided up to 50 percent of the staff salaries in some of the most important weapons institutes in the FSU. If this source of potential funding, and the opportunities it offers, were withdrawn precipitously, the threat could increase significantly. In particular, Arzamas-16 and other formerly closed cities will become an even higher proliferation risk than they are currently. Russia and the other republics simply are not ready to take the steps needed to continue the progress toward a stable science and engineering sector. Furthermore, as long as the deterioration and despair continues, the threat exists not only of individual defections but also of large-scale emigration and of individuals selling their knowledge and experience to states or groups of proliferation concern.

RECOMMENDATION: The United States should continue core funding of the ISTC.

The committee believes that providing opportunities to former weapons scientists and engineers to apply their knowledge and skills to nondefense-related research is a desirable means of addressing the nonproliferation goal.

U.S. Department of State officials responsible for management of the ISTC envision a U.S. contribution of $18 million annually through 1998 and then a gradual decline to almost zero by fiscal year 2003.2 They are seeking funding from other U.S. government mission agencies and the private sector to supplant their diminishing department' s contribution. The committee agrees that the ISTC should seek other sources of funding, as discussed below, but concludes that this is not sufficient to meet U.S. national security objectives or to allow the United States to exert sufficient influence and leadership in ISTC activities.

In part because of its relatively large financial contribution, the United States has played a significant role in the establishment and management of the ISTC. The center's first two executive directors were from the United States, and the United States has exerted much influence on the overall structure and administration of the ISTC. Now, with the directorship going to the European Union, U.S. financial support decreasing, and other countries and private entities being brought into the ISTC, the United States risks losing some of its influence in determining overall program direction. By continuing to provide core funding, the United States will be able to exert leadership in maintaining existing, and/or in setting new, objectives and priorities.

Therefore, based on its success to date, the continuing threat of proliferation, and the other benefits to U.S. national security objectives, the committee concludes that the activities of the ISTC continue to be in the U.S. national interest and recommends that the U.S. Government continue annual core funding for the center until, and probably beyond, 2003.

In recommending continued core funding for the ISTC, the committee, of course, recognizes the responsibilities of the other participating governments and other related U.S. programs. U.S. participation in, and funding of, the ISTC should be based on Russia and other FSU governments continuing to meet their obligations for funding and access to facilities. Russia, through its Ministry of Atomic Energy, provides the facilities that house the ISTC and other in-kind support. The committee heard no comments to suggest that this economic support would end, although the future political climate in Russia is difficult to predict. As noted earlier, some FSU government officials criticized the ISTC during its implementation, claiming it would be a means for the United States to steal Russia's best technologies, scientists, and engineers. Also, as noted earlier, the Russian Parliament has never formally ratified the agreement establishing the center, which might suggest some doubt about the Russian Government's long-term commitment to the ISTC. However, based on its discussions, the committee believes that the lack of formal ratification is due to the Russian Government having many other higher-priority issues to deal with and does not reflect significant active opposition to the ISTC. While some critics remain, the committee believes that the ISTC is generally well regarded.

U.S. funding for the ISTC must also be done in tandem with that of the European Union and Japan. Indications are that Japan and the European Union will continue to provide at least moderate funding for the ISTC beyond 2003, although that funding may come with different restrictions on its use.3 Also, Sweden and Finland have joined the Center and contributed funds, and other countries have expressed interest in joining.

Finally, the United States and the ISTC's management must continue to ensure that the center's activities comple-

1  

U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Staff Report, Washington, D.C., 1996, p. 2.

2  

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. 29.

3  

Committee discussions with U.S. State Department officials.



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