5

The Science and Technology Center in Ukraine

The United States signed an agreement with Sweden, Canada, and Ukraine in 1993 to establish the Science and Technology Center in Ukraine (STCU).1 The STCU is completely independent of the International Science and Technology Center (ISTC), although its goals and objectives are similar to those of the ISTC. The STCU's main objective is to keep the pool of talented scientists and engineers, particularly those with knowledge of weapons of mass destruction, in Ukraine and thereby contribute to the conversion to a market-driven economy.

UKRAINIAN R&D

In some respects the STCU appears to have a much easier job than the ISTC. The institutes of proliferation concern are much fewer and are located in a smaller geographic area, and the number of scientists and engineers with knowledge of weapons of mass destruction is much lower. But in terms of supporting a broader transition, the task in Ukraine is made more difficult by its past subordination to Moscow. Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, most science and technology in Ukraine was concentrated in ministry research institutes that were administered by officials in Moscow. The research institutes were cut off from the end users of their products, most of whom were in other republics of the Soviet Union. Thus, today many Ukrainian institutes are small parts that have been cut off from their larger organizations.

Ukrainian science and engineering played a prominent role in the Soviet Union, accounting for 13 to 15 percent of the country's R&D potential, according to some estimates.2 Apparently, at least 40 percent, and possibly as much as 70 percent, of the projects being carried out in research institutes and technological bureaus on Ukrainian territory were based on military orders.3 Of particular interest to this report was the Ukrainian role in the Soviet military aerospace industry. Ukraine continues to give very high priority to that sector, in particular, to the development of an economically competitive space industry.

Relatively few nuclear weapons design, development, and testing activities took place on Ukrainian territory, although certainly some Ukrainian scientists and engineers have experience in the nuclear field and should be the target of the STCU's activities. Similarly, although there is no evidence now of biological or chemical warfare activities in Ukraine, there are a number of chemical and biological scientists who have the potential to contribute to such activities in facilities where such research could be carried out.

Emigration from the science sector in Ukraine is similar to that occurring in the former Soviet Union (FSU) as a whole (see Chapter 2 ). One recent journal paper estimates that Ukraine lost 36 percent of its R&D personnel from 1988 to 1993. The paper further states that “it is recognized that R&D institutes in the former USSR were over-crowded, and that reductions were inevitable. But it is evident, too, that a very high proportion of young researchers left the R&D sector in 1990-1992. ”4The committee believes that most scientists and engineers who have left their fields have shifted to the commercial sector or emigrated to the United States or other Western countries.

The economic decline in Ukraine since independence and its impact on science and technology have both been severe. Science magazine reported in March 1996 that “the country's 90,000 researchers and support staff have received almost no state salary for the past 5 months.”5 While there has been moderate improvement in the economic situation, there is little hope that domestic demand for R&D output will increase in the near future.

1  

See Appendix C.

2  

Igor Egorov, “The Transformation of R&D Potential in Ukraine,” Europe-Asia Studies, vol. 47, no. 4, 1995, p. 654.

3  

Ibid., p. 661.

4  

Ibid., p. 658.

5  

“Cash-Starved Researchers to Undergo Trial by Peer Review,” Science, vol. 271, March 1996, p. 1802.



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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 5 The Science and Technology Center in Ukraine The United States signed an agreement with Sweden, Canada, and Ukraine in 1993 to establish the Science and Technology Center in Ukraine (STCU).1 The STCU is completely independent of the International Science and Technology Center (ISTC), although its goals and objectives are similar to those of the ISTC. The STCU's main objective is to keep the pool of talented scientists and engineers, particularly those with knowledge of weapons of mass destruction, in Ukraine and thereby contribute to the conversion to a market-driven economy. UKRAINIAN R&D In some respects the STCU appears to have a much easier job than the ISTC. The institutes of proliferation concern are much fewer and are located in a smaller geographic area, and the number of scientists and engineers with knowledge of weapons of mass destruction is much lower. But in terms of supporting a broader transition, the task in Ukraine is made more difficult by its past subordination to Moscow. Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, most science and technology in Ukraine was concentrated in ministry research institutes that were administered by officials in Moscow. The research institutes were cut off from the end users of their products, most of whom were in other republics of the Soviet Union. Thus, today many Ukrainian institutes are small parts that have been cut off from their larger organizations. Ukrainian science and engineering played a prominent role in the Soviet Union, accounting for 13 to 15 percent of the country's R&D potential, according to some estimates.2 Apparently, at least 40 percent, and possibly as much as 70 percent, of the projects being carried out in research institutes and technological bureaus on Ukrainian territory were based on military orders.3 Of particular interest to this report was the Ukrainian role in the Soviet military aerospace industry. Ukraine continues to give very high priority to that sector, in particular, to the development of an economically competitive space industry. Relatively few nuclear weapons design, development, and testing activities took place on Ukrainian territory, although certainly some Ukrainian scientists and engineers have experience in the nuclear field and should be the target of the STCU's activities. Similarly, although there is no evidence now of biological or chemical warfare activities in Ukraine, there are a number of chemical and biological scientists who have the potential to contribute to such activities in facilities where such research could be carried out. Emigration from the science sector in Ukraine is similar to that occurring in the former Soviet Union (FSU) as a whole (see Chapter 2 ). One recent journal paper estimates that Ukraine lost 36 percent of its R&D personnel from 1988 to 1993. The paper further states that “it is recognized that R&D institutes in the former USSR were over-crowded, and that reductions were inevitable. But it is evident, too, that a very high proportion of young researchers left the R&D sector in 1990-1992. ”4The committee believes that most scientists and engineers who have left their fields have shifted to the commercial sector or emigrated to the United States or other Western countries. The economic decline in Ukraine since independence and its impact on science and technology have both been severe. Science magazine reported in March 1996 that “the country's 90,000 researchers and support staff have received almost no state salary for the past 5 months.”5 While there has been moderate improvement in the economic situation, there is little hope that domestic demand for R&D output will increase in the near future. 1   See Appendix C. 2   Igor Egorov, “The Transformation of R&D Potential in Ukraine,” Europe-Asia Studies, vol. 47, no. 4, 1995, p. 654. 3   Ibid., p. 661. 4   Ibid., p. 658. 5   “Cash-Starved Researchers to Undergo Trial by Peer Review,” Science, vol. 271, March 1996, p. 1802.

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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 THE STCU'S OBJECTIVES The STCU's goal and objectives are “to support R&D activities by Ukrainian scientists and engineers, formerly involved with weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, as part of the general process of conversion from a largely centralized planning military to a civilian, market-driven competitive environment, more useful for Ukraine” (see Appendix C ). THE STCU'S MANAGEMENT AND FUNDING Initially, as determined by diplomatic consultations among the four founding parties, the STCU's executive director and administrative officer are Canadian, the principal deputy executive director is from Ukraine, a second deputy executive director and the chief financial officer are from the United States, and the third deputy executive director is from Sweden. All other staff are Ukrainian. At the time of the committee's visit, the deputy executive director from the United States had not yet been appointed and the financial director had just begun. The United States has contributed $15 million for the activities of the STCU, and Canada and Sweden have provided $5 million and $1.5 million, respectively. Ukraine is providing office space and other in-kind support, similar to the situation with the ISTC. There are strong indications that the European Union will join the STCU in 1996 at a level of $4 million to $5 million, and early in the establishment of the STCU, Japan expressed an interest in joining with a contribution of $3 million.6 THE STCU'S ACTIVITIES TO DATE As of May 15, 1996, the STCU had received 346 proposals from Ukrainian scientists and engineers. Of those, 128 had passed the Ukrainian State Security Review, which is necessary before the STCU will officially accept a proposal and forward it to donor countries for evaluation. The STCU Governing Board had its first meeting in December 1995, at which time it formally approved various official STCU documents and 12 proposals, for a total dollar amount of $1.6 million. The board held its second meeting in May 1996 and approved 37 additional proposals, bringing the total number of scientists and engineers supported by STCU grants to approximately 1,000. THE COMMITTEE'S VIEWS The STCU is in the early stages of its activities and is only beginning to sign contracts on funded projects. Therefore, it is too early to assess its impact on the proliferation threat and on Ukrainian science and technology, but the committee provides some initial observations below. The STCU's staff and supporting management in the participating countries have established a fully functioning center in a remarkably short time, given the conditions in which they had to operate. The STCU 's facilities are first-rate; the telecommunications capabilities surpass those of all other institutes and offices that the committee visited; and the office environment is very pleasant and comfortable. The STCU is independent of other Ukrainian ministries and institutes and has a separate line item in the Ukrainian budget, which will help ensure that it is held in high regard by Ukrainian government officials. The STCU management has interpreted its objective of supporting the transition to a market-based economy, to include supporting and contributing to the conversion of attitudes and work practices to those common in market-driven economies. The STCU staff consider the interactions with scientists and engineers during the proposal preparation process to be an important part of their jobs and strive not only to improve the scientific quality of proposals, but also to impart Western attitudes about peer review, competitive funding, and work ethics. These are valid and important objectives for the STCU. RECOMMENDATION: The U.S. Government should expedite the appointment of U.S. representatives and staff to the STCU. The committee does make one caution. The STCU staff, with the exception of the senior staff (executive director and principal deputy executive director), do not appear to have significant scientific expertise, leading to some concern that the nonproliferation and scientific goals of the United States are being subordinated to the STCU's broader goals of changing research attitudes and ethics. Of course, the scientific reviews by the United States and other participating countries are the primary means of determining and ensuring scientific merit. But STCU staff have significant input in proposal preparation and project monitoring. Moreover, unlike the ISTC, the STCU does not have a scientific advisory committee. It is important that the United States have representation at the STCU with adequate experience and expertise to support U.S. national interests and scientific goals. In this regard the committee is concerned about the slow pace at which the United States is assigning staff to the STCU. As noted above, at the time of the committee's visit in May 1996, the U.S. deputy executive director had not been formally appointed and the financial officer had not yet arrived.7 While this may be attributed to unavoidable bureaucratic delays, the committee is concerned about the message 6   Committee discussion with U.S. Department of State officials, February 1996. 7   Since the committee's visit in May 1996, a U.S. deputy executive director has been appointed.

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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 this sends to the Ukrainian Government about the importance the United States gives the STCU. Like the ISTC, one of the STCU's objectives in meeting its primary nonproliferation goal is to support the integration of Ukrainian scientists into the international science community. The committee stresses the importance of this integration and urges the STCU to continue its encouragement of active participation in STCU-funded projects by Western collaborators. The committee discussed this issue in Chapter 3 and Chapter 4 with regard to the ISTC; the discussion applies equally to Ukrainian scientists and engineers and the STCU. The subcommittee heard criticisms from scientists and engineers at the Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology (KIPT) that the distribution of grants from the first two funding rounds was biased toward Kiev. Though the Kharkiv Institute played a significant role in the Soviet weapons program, and therefore should be a primary focus for the STCU, KIPT personnel pointed out that almost 60 percent of current grants (29 out of 49) have Kiev institutes as their primary site. Subsequent conversations led the committee to conclude that while Kiev-based institutes may have had an advantage over institutes in other cities and regions during the first few months of the STCU 's operation because of easier access to information about the STCU and easier interaction with its staff, information about the STCU has since become more widely disseminated and STCU staff and representatives have increased their direct contacts with institutes around the country, thereby minimizing any regional advantages. The committee also notes that many proposals submitted by KIPT were undergoing the Ukrainian internal security review at the time of the first meetings of the STCU's Governing Board and are only now under consideration by the STCU itself. In this report the committee merely notes the criticisms expressed by KIPT.