U.S. Contribution to the Report on Overcoming Impediments to Cooperation
By William F. Burns and Rose Gottemoeller16
Table of Contents
Barriers and impediments to cooperation between the United States and the Russian Federation on controlling nuclear proliferation take many forms. Some are the results of differing political systems or the residue of historic clashes between systems and cultures. Some are rooted in such mundane issues as differences in language or geographic location. Some spring from internal political issues that spill over into relations among states. Legal systems and bureaucratic procedures developed at one time for worthy purposes may work at cross purposes to other equally worthy causes today.
In each case, barriers and impediments to cooperation can pose serious obstacles to understanding and the search for common ground as well as to achieving program goals. Because of their nature, some barriers and impediments cannot be entirely overcome, but may be addressed and mitigated with strategies, tools, and resources (language may be the simplest example). Other barriers and impediments may be susceptible to solution through negotiations between or among states. Some solutions are best found within states themselves in the normal political process through education of the electorate and the elected leaders. This often takes time in a democracy and can delay the desirable outcomes of reducing impediments to cooperation.
Whether a national or international political barrier is susceptible to clarification, education, and resolution in the long run is an open question. In the short run, however, if they cannot be removed, barriers must be ameliorated so that the cooperation can continue.
Operational Effectiveness in a Political Environment
An essential step in overcoming an impediment to cooperation is identifying and understanding the source of that impediment. This is especially true because these programs are sometimes politically controversial. Opponents of such programs may exploit systemic or structural vulnerabilities in the programs to attack them, although the mechanism used to impede the program may have little connection to the reason for the attack. The true sources of impediments must therefore be identified before solutions can be effected.
Cooperation between nations on nuclear security involves acts of governance and diplomacy, which are by nature political. The political context is simply a fact that must be recognized in assessing impediments to progress on controlling nuclear proliferation. Indeed, were such efforts not political, they would have a life independent of the nations involved and would be unresponsive to each nation’s will. At the same time, however, for any program to be effective, it needs to be somewhat robust against political winds and attacks. Attacks that exploit or promote misunderstanding, in particular, are a perversion of truth and make cooperation on vital matters more difficult; in some extreme instances, such cooperation could be rendered impossible. There are sufficient misunderstandings in the ordinary nature of human intercourse without carrying the added burden of political argument and attack whether internal to the nation or external in the international community at large.
Categories of Barriers and Impediments
Recognizing that the sources of particular impediments to cooperation can be many and complex, it is nonetheless useful to group the sources of such barriers into five categories:
Those generated by the sensitive character of security cooperation between sovereign states.
Those generated inadvertently by established law, regulation, or policy.
Those resulting from the lack of established law or regulation.
Those generated by bureaucratic practice.
Those generated by Cold War perceptions and attitudes.
1. Impediments Resulting from the Sensitive Character of Security Cooperation between Sovereign States
There are special problems attendant to international cooperation on matters of national security. The United States and the Russian Federation, as sovereign states, hold the mission of preserving their national security as among their highest priorities. Some information is kept secret or classified to preserve national security, and information about nuclear weapons is among the most highly restricted in any system. In the United States, there are special provisions for nuclear weapons data, including the notion that some information is classified from the moment it is created, or “born classified.”
National security interests also motivate international cooperation on security matters. Successful cooperation in this arena, however, requires that the parties share information that is sensitive or
classified for national security; yet even the closest allies do not share every category of information. The added security afforded nuclear weapons data only increases the burden on those responsible for international cooperation on security matters. Thus a tension exists between the need for secrecy and the need to share secret information to enable cooperation in the interests of national security.
The difficulties of finding the right balance between sharing and withholding information are evident in cases where U.S. officials seek access to Russian nuclear facilities for purpose of oversight for U.S.-funded contracts. Because of Russia’s economic difficulties, the United States carries the bulk of the financial burden for U.S.-Russian cooperative programs. Provisions of the laws allocating U.S. funds for these programs require program managers to monitor how the funds are used and what results are achieved. U.S. officials have sought unfettered access to the closed Russian sites where the programs are being implemented (or are to be implemented), similar to what is expected by U.S. officials visiting U.S. facilities: unlimited inspections without notice, and access to not only the laboratory or facility where most of the work is going on, but to other facilities within the site. Russian officials and site managers, however, are often unwilling to grant open access to the sites, and sometimes impede access to the facilities where U.S.-funded work is taking place. Some in the United States insist that because U.S. funds are used, the United States should be granted access. Some in the Russian Federation argue, however, that site visits are intelligence-gathering activities that have little to do with ensuring proper project management. Neither of these attitudes is helpful, and both ignore important realities of the situation. The lack of clarity regarding what information is really needed and what information is truly too sensitive to share has resulted in conflicts that undermine cooperation and delays that impede progress.
2. Impediments Generated by Established Law, Regulation, or Policy
Some impediments to cooperation result from requirements, burdens, or barriers that already exist in established laws, regulations, or policies. If either the goals of a cooperative program or specific programmatic procedures are in tension with, or are in conflict with, established law or regulation, progress may be delayed, operations may be halted, or funding may be put at risk. Any and all of these reduce the program’s effectiveness. Such barriers and impediments can be seen by partners, rightly or not, as evidence of a lack of commitment to cooperative efforts, because apparent priority is given to other, unrelated concerns. Delays, for example, can be construed as resulting from indecision, incompetence, or insincerity by partners in cooperation, and can weaken the trust between the two countries.
In some instances, existing laws or regulations do not bear on a cooperative effort itself, or interfere directly with a program, but they do place restrictions or requirements on activities that support the program. Difficulties in obtaining entry visas are an increasingly common example of this type of impediment.
Nationals of the Russian Federation and the United States must obtain visas to visit one another’s countries. Prior to the terrorist attacks of September 2001 in the United States, visa issues were at times difficult, creating a hurdle that Russian and American participants in cooperative programs had to overcome to fulfill their jobs. The challenge of obtaining entry visas, of course, has only
increased since September 2001, as the United States has tightened visa policies under the USA Patriot Act, expanding the use of procedures such as interviews and fingerprinting, and broadening the scope of agency review of visa applications. At the same time, the new procedures appear to have eliminated mechanisms for expediting visas for Russians working with the United States to control nuclear proliferation, including those who have previously visited the U.S. for that purpose. New applications for Russian partners seeking entry to the United States often take months rather than weeks to be approved or rejected. In fact, rejections and delays beyond requested entry dates have prevented Russian partners from participating in meetings that promote, or even directly support, cooperative efforts on mutual and international security. The problem is now being compounded as other governments, including that of the Russian Federation, respond to U.S. visa procedures by increasing the rigor of their own visa approval processes and imposing restrictions upon Americans traveling in their countries. It should be possible to meet the need for enhanced visa screening without imposing undue burdens on beneficial international collaborations, especially those that support national and international security. The current visa system, however, interferes with both the specific and general goals of security collaboration with Russia.
Some existing laws, regulations, and policies apply to the cooperative programs more directly. An example is oversight requirements, which are provisions of laws that generally require accounting audits of program funds and verification that funded contracts are being fulfilled. Oversight requirements are not unusual in U.S. programs, and programs for nuclear nonproliferation are almost always subject to such requirements.
The standard way that audits are performed within one nation’s government, however, is not always appropriate or possible in the context of international cooperation. There are special problems attendant to international cooperation on matters of national security, as discussed above. Outside of that discussion, however, it is worth noting difficulties in both Russia and the United States related to oversight requirements. There have been several instances in which Russian partners, unaccustomed to such accounting and auditing requirements have misunderstood them or refused to fulfill them. Overseers in the United States, for their part, at times have been inflexible, demanding evidence and accounting in a manner identical to that used in the United States, making little allowance for the fact that they are dealing with ministries of a sovereign nation rather than a company under hire, or for differences in culture.
It should be noted, however, that both sides have improved with respect to these problems over the course of the decade of interactions since the fall of the Soviet Union. As business and commerce develop in Russia, so too does the accounting culture, and some Russian participants now see the oversight process as valuable for program management. And as overseers of U.S. government contracts gain experience in the Russian Federation and understanding of how programs operate there, they are finding ways to get the confirmations and verifications they need. But opportunities for improving these aspects of cooperation still arise frequently.
3. Impediments Generated by the Lack of Established Law or Regulation
Problems in cooperation can also be caused by the absence of a legal or regulatory framework where one is needed. In some cases, the lack of such a framework deprives participants of a
rational process for accomplishing their objectives or solving problems as they venture into uncharted territory. In others, new laws or regulations may be needed to bridge gaps between or within existing legal structures. In the aftermath of the fall of the Soviet Union, for example, the Russian government has faced the burden of designing a new regulatory and legal system, including frameworks for handling nuclear weapons and materials, and for cooperating with the U.S. on nuclear security matters.
Liability concerns are another important example of this sort of impediment. Because of the common hazards involved in any industrial operation, and the inherent danger in working with nuclear materials, governments and companies insist on protection against liability in the event of an accident. Liability protection is of such concern that it is the subject of an agreed statement under the G8 Global Partnership, coming out of Kananaskis: “All governments will take necessary steps to ensure that adequate liability protections from claims related to the cooperation will be provided for donor countries and their personnel and contractors…”17 This language does not limit the kinds of claims against which donors must be indemnified. In addition to shielding U.S. corporations and scientists in the case of accidents, the United States has sought indemnification against claims of premeditated acts that cause injury or death. The original Nunn-Lugar agreement of 1992 provided blanket liability protection for contractors, but the Russian government has resisted efforts to include blanket liability protection in subsequent agreements and the U.S. government has opposed entering into further agreements without such protection. Indeed, the Nuclear Cities Initiative Agreement, which established U.S. support for shifting Russia’s weapons workforce to non-weapons work, was allowed to lapse in 2003 ostensibly because the two nations could not agree on liability protection in cases of premeditated acts. The Plutonium Disposition Science and Technology Agreement (of 1998), in which the U.S. and Russia each agreed to the irreversible disposition of 34 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium that had been declared excess to defense needs, also lapsed in 2003 under similar circumstances.
The liability issue epitomizes the types of problems caused when a needed regulatory structure is missing. The United States and the Russian Federation need to find a mutually agreed framework that gives due attention to, on one hand, the Russian government’s reluctance to literally pay for the mistakes or premeditated acts of an American contractor, and on the other, the contractors’ desire to avoid enormous, expensive legal battles, fought in the courts of another country.
4. Impediments Generated by Bureaucratic Practice
Cooperative programs between governments necessarily require extensive bureaucratic structures to operate. But these very structures, and the processes they generate, can impede cooperative programs in many ways. As is true with legal and regulatory frameworks, existing bureaucratic necessities sometimes unintentionally conflict with specific or general program goals. Also similar to legal and regulatory frameworks, the absence of a bureaucratic framework where one is needed, or weaknesses in its design or implementation, can create their own unique impediments.
Examples of bureaucratic burdens on cooperation abound. Bureaucratic issues, for instance, are interwoven throughout the problems with entry visas cited above. Travel restrictions are another example: Participants in cooperative programs often must obtain permission from several agencies within their own government to allow international travel, completely apart from the need for visas. As a recent report says, “In the case of an expert from a Department of Energy laboratory, a typical trip requires laboratory approval, DOE headquarters approval, State Department approval, a Russian visa, and Russian permission to visit a closed area (which typically requires at least 45 days advance notice).”18 Similar to the process for travel authorization, concurrence requirements apply to approval for many other program activities, often resulting in long lead-times for processing of paperwork for even minor actions. Lack of cooperation among the agencies of one government can result in roadblocks to international cooperation as participants spend time and energy in negotiating the treacherous bureaucratic terrain between departments.
Other barriers to cooperation stem from the differences in Russian and American bureaucratic management cultures. Russians and Americans tend to approach problem-solving, bureaucratic processes, social interactions, professional relationships, and many other aspects of cooperative programs in different ways, and these differences can be difficult for those on each side to understand. Differing approaches to project planning illustrate this point. Relying here on generalizations, Americans tend to pursue goals by laying out a clearly defined framework and making detailed plans before proceeding. Russians often do not (or cannot) use the same approach. As a result, both Americans and Russians may feel that projects are proceeding improperly, because the approach taken does not conform with their cultural norms that define how projects should be done.
5. Impediments Generated by Cold War Perceptions and Attitudes
The final source of barriers to cooperation to be discussed here is in many ways the most difficult to identify and address. The long enmity between the United States and the Soviet Union, which was extremely costly both in lives and money, has left many scars on the relationship between the United States and the Russian Federation. Animosity, stereotypes, and mistrust built up over years or decades do not disappear instantly, and misunderstandings or procedural delays can easily be misconstrued as proof of negative stereotypes.
Although agreements on international cooperation are made between nations, the success or failure of these programs depends on the actions of individuals. Personal attitudes and relationships, then, can be critically important, and residual Cold War thinking can undermine cooperative efforts.
Cold War attitudes can be overt or subtle. In the United States, political leaders who mistrust cooperation with the Russian Federation on nuclear security can damage relationships or impede progress. Because the United States provides most of the funds for cooperative nonproliferation
programs, the appropriations process is where some fights over cooperative programs occur. Individual members of Congress who are opposed to security cooperation with Russia can block funds, delay action through investigations, and attach to an appropriation conditions that undermine or complicate the programs.
Cold War attitudes may manifest themselves more subtly within cooperative programs. The attitudes may take the form of explicit or implicit disrespect or mistrust, as when participants believe that their counterparts are not capable or worthy of being peers and trusted partners in joint projects. An example of such disrespect is evident when American program managers make decisions affecting Russian interests without consulting their Russian counterparts. Similarly, some Russians believe that cooperative programs are merely a front for espionage. This attitude is apparent when, for example, American government staff take a previously-agreed trip to a Russian facility to check on progress, having followed all relevant U.S. and Russian procedures, and are refused entry at the facility because the local directors have security concerns.
“Fixes” for Barriers and Impediments
The U.S. and Russian governments have succeeded in coping with these barriers and impediments to nonproliferation cooperation over the past decade, but it is clear that they have found no single solution, no “silver bullet,” to do so. Given the variety of barriers and impediments described in the preceding section, this should come as no surprise. The problems that have arisen vary in their legal status, in their political impact, in their technical aspects, and in their overall importance to the success of the joint projects. With some impediments, it has been possible to bump along, continuing—albeit with difficulty—project implementation. In other cases, impediments have stopped the cooperation cold.
Mechanisms found by program managers and others to resolve problems fall loosely into seven categories. Two of them involve steps that a government might take unilaterally, such as a change to national law or a governmental reorganization. The remaining five relate to bilateral steps, whether formal agreements or more informal “fixes.” In the following section, we describe these categories, provide examples of each, and consider how they might be applied in future.
1. Changes in National Law or Policy Procedures
When the United States and Russia embarked on the “cooperative threat reduction” or Nunn-Lugar program in 1992, they had few precedents to guide them. On-site inspections in the arms control process had begun only a few years before, with the implementation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. Prior to that time, there had been no routine way for Russians to visit U.S. military nuclear facilities, or vice versa. As far as the weapons laboratories were concerned, the nuclear scientists on each side had built up an enormous stock of respect for the work of their counterparts, but they had had few opportunities to interact with them directly, and no opportunities to visit each other’s facilities. Thus, the nonproliferation threat reduction programs were stepping out into virgin territory.
In this context, it is fairly amazing that they were able to do so with relatively few changes to national laws, given the extreme sensitivity of many of the sites involved in the cooperation. In the U.S. case, legislative activity has been focused on providing authorization and appropriations for the programs through the normal congressional budget process, which has enabled new legal language to be generated in budget acts according to needs and requirements. In some cases, it should be noted, this legislative activity has attached conditions to the programs that have themselves constituted impediments to implementation. In other cases, the conditions have been helpful in moving the cooperation forward, such as in the case of the condition that noted the need for increased Russian funding to the Schuch’ye chemical-weapons-destruction plant.
Although relatively few changes to national law have been required to implement the programs, in some cases national law has had an enormous impact on that implementation. This has been the case, for example, with the changes in visa regulations that have flowed from the USA PATRIOT Act, mentioned previously. It is important to note, however, that these new regulations have impacted a wide range of international cooperation, not only those involved with Russia or the nonproliferation cooperation. If the law were to be adjusted in this case, a range of parties well beyond the nonproliferation community might be interested in engaging.
Implementing procedures or regulations can also be changed without impacting the law itself. For example, U.S. and Russian consular officials might decide to streamline procedures or introduce special technologies (“smart passes”) that would enable an acceleration in the issuance of visas. This streamlining would be within the existing law, but would refine its implementation.
Changes in national law or the introduction of new laws often require a number of steps in the national political process (whether Russian or American) and a significant amount of time to accomplish. For that reason, pursuit of new laws has not been a frequent mechanism used to speed or ease implementation of the nonproliferation programs. More frequent have been steps worked out on a bilateral basis within the structure of existing laws.
2. Government-to-Government Agreements
At the outset of the cooperation in 1992, the United States and Russia completed an agreement, called the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Umbrella Agreement, that provided the first legal underpinnings for the CTR program in the Department of Defense, and, later, for additional nonproliferation cooperative programs in the Department of Energy. Other government-to-government agreements were negotiated to underpin additional cooperative programs, such as the Plutonium Disposition Science and Technology Agreement in July 1998, and the Nuclear Cities Initiative Agreement in September 1998.
Such agreements are negotiated with the full permission and oversight of the respective interagency authorities in both countries. For example, in the United States, a so-called Circular 175 process must be completed prior to the start of negotiations, taking into account comments and concerns from a number of government agencies. A similar process appears to take place on the Russian side. Usually, they are signed at a ministerial level, although in the case of the
Plutonium Disposition Agreement, it was signed by the U.S. Vice President and the Russian Prime Minister.
Thus, these agreements enjoy high legal and political status in the two governments. As such, they can provide much-needed authority to advance implementation of joint activities. In the Russian case, they seem to be necessary for certain permissions to be forthcoming, such as access to sensitive sites in the defense or nuclear complex.
However, although such agreements are necessary legal instruments, they are not always sufficient. For example, access to Ministry of Defense facilities in Russia has not ensued simply on the basis of the CTR Umbrella Agreement, but has required a significant amount of agency-to-agency negotiation of special access arrangements.
3. Agency-to-Agency Agreements
With the CTR Agreement as the legal umbrella, agencies such as the Department of Energy and the Ministry of Atomic Energy have negotiated and signed at their level implementing agreements to address the particular issues and concerns related to their specific programs. For example, the Material Protection, Control and Accounting (MPC&A) Program has its own implementing agreement, negotiated and signed in 2000, that provides for particular access arrangements and other details related explicitly to the MPC&A Program. For certain legal protections, such as those related to liability, the MPC&A Program relies on the CTR Umbrella Agreement under which its implementing agreement is nested.
The Defense Department and the Energy Department have negotiated a number of implementing agreements under the CTR Umbrella Agreement. In other cases, agencies have negotiated specific agreements to facilitate project implementation. For example, the Department of Energy has negotiated special additional access arrangements for the MPC&A Program and the Nuclear Cities Initiative; and it has negotiated special project management arrangements for the Plutonium Production Reactor Shutdown Agreement.
In dealing with barriers and impediments to cooperation, such agency-to-agency agreements are especially important, because they flow from the particular experience and concerns accumulated in the course of project implementation. Project managers are able to sit down with their counterparts and articulate exactly what steps will be required to facilitate progress. This type of specificity has been important to the Russian side, where concerns have often been expressed about blanket requests for access or information. The Russians have frequently complained that the United States is simply engaged in intelligence gathering pursuant to the joint projects. Thus, when the United States is able to narrow its requests to areas that are clearly relevant to project management or implementation, it eases concerns on the Russian side.
A side benefit of this agency-to-agency activity is that it has brought Russian experts into contact with project management methods that are standard in U.S. practice. This, in turn, has eased mutual understanding of the most efficient way to accomplish milestones and deadlines in project implementation. This understanding is particularly important in large construction projects with major engineering components, such as the reactor shutdown effort.
4. Manager-to-Manager Working Methods
Although implementing agreements have been a key element in agency-to-agency work, project managers have often found it not only possible but also expedient to define working methods on the ground, in the course of particular project work. Thus, for example, the Department of Energy has worked together with the Russian Navy to develop routine procedures for Navy sites. These include a site survey, vulnerability assessment, initial installation of “quick fixes” (such as simple security improvements to doors and windows), and longer term security upgrades (e.g., new fences, alarm systems, guard towers).
Key to the success of manager-to-manager relations across programs has been the maintenance of small project teams. If teams of a few people (4-6) on each side can be designated and sustained over time, then it greatly facilitates development of the confidence needed to develop working methods in real time, when agency regulation or procedure to guide an operation might be nonexistent. In that case, Russian and U.S. managers have to fall back on mutual confidence that they can accomplish the task of enhancing nuclear security, without causing breaches of security in other areas. The problem with such small teams, of course, is that the individuals involved become exhausted from repeated project trips in very difficult circumstances. Manager burn-out is a constant problem in the most effective and fast-moving programs.
5. “Ad Hoc” Arrangements
The first few years of cooperation between the United States and Russia on nonproliferation projects saw a number of “ad hoc” arrangements to enable project work to move forward, often on the basis of last-minute decisions undertaken by facility managers or security directors. It must be stressed that these arrangements were not in contravention of Russian law or regulation, but simply fell into unknown territory. The United States and Russia had never worked together at sensitive sites in the past, with a few exceptions, such as on-site inspections under the INF Treaty. Ad hoc arrangements thus arose out of the necessity of getting work done in unique circumstances, where the two countries had no agreements to fall back on, but were committed to establishing and carrying forward the cooperation. Sometimes, those involved were working under a commitment set at a very high level, such as at a Presidential summit, and therefore they were accorded some political cover. In other circumstances, however, progress came because individuals were willing to proceed, essentially on their personal recognizance.
In latter years, such ad hoc arrangements have occurred mainly in the context of high level activities, such as ministerial visits. In these cases, the hosting minister has often taken personal responsibility for negotiating special access to sensitive sites or other arrangements with counterpart ministries—thus placing a heavy burden on his store of political capital. It is no surprise, therefore, that willingness to pursue ad hoc arrangements has become more and more rare at high levels in Moscow. Likewise, as attention to the cooperative programs has risen in the Russian Duma and in other agencies such as the Federal Security Bureau (FSB), ad hoc arrangements have virtually disappeared at the facility level.
While ad hoc arrangements have been useful to the programs historically, it is not surprising that they should recede as the programs develop a system of agreements and procedures to underpin implementation. In essence, as project work becomes more routine, there naturally are fewer stretches of unknown territory where the two sides have no precedent—whether legal or experiential—to rely on. Ad hoc arrangements, therefore, will naturally become more rare, but they must not be abandoned all together. At times, intervention from an individual willing to take responsibility—whether minister or facility manager—might be necessary to accomplish an urgent project goal. This necessity should be acknowledged on both sides.
6. General Confidence-Building Activities
Taking responsibility for the risks inherent in the cooperation can be eased through a range of general confidence-building activities that improve the bilateral relationship over time. Thus, for example, military-to-military contacts between the United States and the Russian Federation have played an important role over the past decade in developing the policy environment that has enabled threat reduction cooperation to advance in the Ministry of Defense in Moscow and the Department of Defense in Washington. It seems likely that some of the difficulties encountered in implementing the MOD-DOD programs have come about because of the slow-down in military-to-military cooperation that occurred after disagreements over the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. Restoring military-to-military contacts to the level that they enjoyed earlier in the 1990s might thus enable an acceleration in the defense threat reduction programs.
7. Organizational Changes inside Government
Neither the United States nor Russian government is organized for maximum efficiency in implementing the nonproliferation cooperative programs. In the U.S. case, the interagency structure is fairly well defined, but the process is often weak or non-existent, resulting in poorly coordinated project activity and, at times, duplication of effort. Such duplication, of course, leads to sharp criticism and even greater consequences, such as budget cuts, at the hand of Congress. In the Russian case, the interagency structure has been in considerable flux in recent years, with frequent reorganizations hampering understanding of exactly which agencies must participate in the decision-making process. Agencies not directly responsible for implementation have, as a result, had opportunities to hamper progress or, in some cases, outright veto it.
Solutions in the United States and Russian cases are likely to be different. Some U.S. experts have called for the appointment of a single senior official with links directly to the President. This “tsar,” who would reside in the Executive Office of the President, would wield authority over the budgets that individual agencies garner for implementation of the programs. Naturally enough, the notion that wide-ranging budget authority of this kind would reside in the White House rather than in the individual agencies has drawn the ire of many inside the government. Some have argued that, instead of a tsar, a more coherent and focused interagency process should be sought, within the normal tradition of the National Security Council. Such a process would enable efficient coordination and communication among the agencies, but would not control their budgets.
Whether an arrangement of either type would be relevant to the Russian case is unknown. Russian implementation of the programs has evidently benefited from time to time from high-level appointments, such as the appointment in 2003 of a Deputy Prime Minister with responsibility for them. The specifics of Moscow interagency arrangements, however, must be left to the Russian side.
Summary of Observations
After some three months of meetings and interviews with practitioners in and out of government, a number of themes recurred. These center in the two areas that we have highlighted in this paper: barriers and impediments to nonproliferation cooperation and what can be done about them. Although many agree on what the problems are, there is a wide variety of approaches to fixing them. Certain solutions were identified as most appropriate to early stages of cooperation, but they have lost importance as the relationship matured. Other solutions, such as national laws or government-to-government agreements, have proven vital to provide the legal underpinnings for cooperation at high levels. Since those underpinnings have been in place, however, it has not been as urgent to pursue additional high-level undertakings to support implementation of the program. New high-level solutions might be sought in future, but the existing ones are currently sufficient for implementation to proceed.
Instead, the bulk of the solutions that have been identified were engineered to overcome barriers and impediments to program implementation. These have been developed primarily at the agency-to-agency or manager-to-manager level. In general terms, practitioners see this result as positive, because it bespeaks a consensus between the two sides that the programs must move forward and that they can be implemented without constant reference to the political level of government.
This development is consistent with the idea, which the Russian Federation has been emphasizing in its official discussions, that Russia can be more of a full partner in the cooperation, rather than simply an aid recipient. Russia’s economy has been growing, and it is contributing a significant amount to the G8 Global Initiative—$2 billion over ten years, which is a contribution second in size only to that of the United States. With Russia beginning to fund or partially fund some of the programs itself, it will assume a more equal role with the United States in designing, planning and managing cooperative projects. It is natural that most of these activities will take place at an agency-to-agency or manager-to-manager level, rather than at a political level.
Of course, barriers and impediments to cooperation are numerous, persistent, and continue to hinder implementation of the joint nonproliferation programs. This analysis merely suggests that the focal point for solutions to these problems is likely to be found at the agency and managerial levels. In addition, the overall tenor of the cooperation would improve if the United States and Russia could return to a vigorous agenda of confidence-building activities, beginning with military-to-military contacts.
Most importantly, both nations would do well to draw from a variety of solutions to problems. Insisting on a “one-size-fits-all” approach has done much to slow or halt program
implementation over the years. In implementing the programs over the past decade, no single solution has been found to be clearly superior to all others in addressing a particular problem. As long as solutions, even quite various, remain within the realm of national law in both countries, they should be considered to be potentially beneficial to effective implementation of the programs. A solution set is a useful goal, rather than a single right answer.