SCOPE, RESULTS, AND GOOD PRACTICES OF THE U.S.-RUSSIAN COOPERATION ON NUCLEAR NONPROLIFERATION AND RELATED AREAS
Useful experience has been gained in U.S.-Russian cooperation on nuclear nonproliferation, and many specific, practical results have been obtained. Participants in the workshop saw it as useful to examine programs that are generally regarded as having succeeded in overcoming impediments to cooperation. Some elements of the organization, management, planning, implementation, and reporting of these programs may serve as models for current and future projects. Much of the information in this section is drawn from the background papers.
THE COOPERATIVE THREAT REDUCTION PROGRAM AND RELATED NONPROLIFERATION PPROGRAMS
The Cooperative Threat Reduction Program (CTR) was the first large-scale program for U.S.-Russian cooperation on nuclear nonproliferation, and became the basis for collaborative nonproliferation efforts on chemical and biological weapons as well. An umbrella agreement on the safe and secure transportation, storage, and destruction of weapons and the prevention of weapons proliferation, the agreement implementing CTR was signed by the presidents of the United States and Russia in June 1992 to provide a framework for accelerated implementation of the START I Treaty and to facilitate large-scale cooperation between the United States and Russia on nuclear nonproliferation. Also known as the Nunn-Lugar program (named for the U.S. senators who sponsored the legislation), the initiative focused on Russia and some other former Soviet republics.8
Over the course of more than 10 years, CTR has facilitated the efforts of the United States and Russia to address several challenging problems in nuclear nonproliferation, such as:
Ensuring that nuclear weapons and components were shipped safely to Russia from the Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan
Enhancing significantly the level of safety in storage of both nuclear weapons at Russian Federation Ministry of Defense facilities and spent nuclear fuel at the Russian Navy facilities
Modernizing the systems of nuclear material protection, control and accounting at more than 25 Russian nuclear facilities
Building a storage facility in Chelyabinsk (Mayak) for surplus weapons-grade fissionable materials (due to open in 2004)
Planning construction of fossil-fueled power plants to replace the plutonium-production reactors at Seversk and Zheleznogorsk (previously Tomsk-7 and Krasnoyarsk-26, respectively)
The ability of the CTR agreement to expand and adapt in response to evolving circumstances was suggested by some workshop participants as one of the program’s strengths. Supplementary agreements have been used to broaden CTR’s role to include a wide range of bilateral interactions, such as safety improvements in the construction of a storage facility for surplus weapons-grade fissionable materials. The agreement has also been adapted successfully to address implementation problems and resolve disputes between the two sides.
Fissile Material Disposition
The United States and Russia have agreements to work toward eliminating their stockpiles of weapons-grade plutonium and HEU, which were produced in their weapons programs during the Cold War. Their work to dismantle the weapons stockpiles, both within and outside agreements such as START, has only increased the size of these fissile materials stockpiles. These stockpiles were not only generally seen as a proliferation risk, but were also regarded by some participants as a threat because they would facilitate any efforts on either side to re-arm in violation of START, SORT, or other disarmament agreements.
The Russian-U.S. HEU Agreement, it was argued, is possibly the most successful U.S.-Russian effort to collaborate on fissile material disposition. This agreement, signed in 1993, provides for 500 metric tons of Russian HEU to be blended down into LEU over the course of 20 years. After it becomes LEU, the material is shipped to the United States, where it is fabricated into fuel for commercial reactors. It was expected that, by the end of 2003, more than 200 metric tons of HEU—enough for 8,000 nuclear warheads—would have been diluted, and 6,000 metric tons of LEU shipped to the United States. This is equivalent to approximately half of the U.S. demand for nuclear fuel and generated up to 10% of the annual electricity production in the United States. As compensation, Russia was to receive about $4 billion in revenues by the end of 2003, which are to be spent to upgrade the safety level of the nuclear power industry, “convert nuclear cities,” and conduct research and development on advanced nuclear reactors and fuel cycles.9
Nuclear Submarine Dismantlement
One aspect of cooperation under the CTR umbrella is the dismantlement of Strategic Ballistic Missile Submarines (SSBNs) built by the Soviet Union. This program operates under the SOAE, signed in August 1993 to provide a mechanism for expediting arms elimination in accordance with START I. SOAE is a major component of the CTR program.
The dismantlement of nuclear submarines is a large-scale political, engineering, and environmental problem involving a multitude of facilities and a large complex of interrelated technologies. Among engineering operations related to dismantlement, some participants noted that those dealing with unloading, storage, transportation, and reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel, i.e., those directly related to nuclear nonproliferation, are the most sophisticated and important. Financial considerations weigh particularly heavily in the submarine dismantlement program, because Russia cannot afford to either maintain the submarines safely at dock or dismantle them on its own at an acceptable rate.10 A number of participants expressed concern that as the submarines rust and otherwise decay, they pose a growing environmental and safety risk, and that the significant amounts of HEU fuel involved pose a proliferation hazard.
The United States has purchased and installed specialized facilities and equipment for submarine dismantlement, such as an automated guillotine to cut submarine hulls into sections, cable reprocessing facilities, and a radioactive-waste-treatment complex. Russian participants pointed out that Russia increasingly wants to dismantle nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs) and cruise-missile carrying submarines (SSGNs), which are far more numerous than the SSBNs, and that Russia wants to add its own financial contributions to those made by other countries. Because the United States does not perceive its national security to be directly threatened by non-operational SSNs and SSGNs, however, the United States only provides funds for SSBN dismantlement. The resulting tension, it was further noted, has been mitigated by the fact that the United States permits Russia to use the equipment for SSN dismantlement at Russian expense.
Nuclear Material Protection, Control, and Accounting
Upgrading and improving the system of nuclear material protection, control, and accounting (MPC&A) became one of the largest and most important areas of the U.S.-Russian cooperation on nuclear nonproliferation because of its central role in protecting nuclear materials from theft or diversion. Most of these projects went forward under the aegis of DOE and Minatom. Such cooperation made it possible to:
Construct new nuclear material storage facilities at Minatom enterprises and upgrade existing ones
Develop MPC&A-related standards and regulations
Develop a federal information system for nuclear material control and accounting
Upgrade instrumentation, metrological, and methodological support of nuclear material control and accounting
Improve radio communication for facilitating facility security Improve safety when shipping nuclear materials
Institute departmental security training centers
Equip Minatom enterprise security units
Establish departmental supervision at Minatom enterprises
A recent report of the Russian Federation Audit Chamber provides additional information on the financial management of the submarine dismantlement effort. It is available at http://www.bellona.no/en/international/russia/navy/31937.html,accessed26January2004.
Maintain operability of MPC&A-related systems and equipment
Train Minatom’s new protective force
Promote a nuclear-security culture among Russia’s nuclear site managers and employees
MPC&A cooperation between the United States and Russia has been in progress for about ten years and was characterized in the Russian background paper as highly efficient and as achieving appreciable practical results. The paper states that the security level of nuclear materials was improved considerably at more than 25 Minatom facilities involving tens of tons of nuclear materials (including fissionable weapons-grade materials). Among such facilities are the All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Experimental Physics (VNIIEF, Sarov), the All-Russian Research Institute of Technical Physics (VNIITF, Snezhinsk), the Institute of Physics and Power Engineering (IPPE, Obninsk), and the Russian Research Center “Kurchatov Institute.” in Moscow.
A long-term plan of joint activities at ten other Russian nuclear warhead facilities not managed by Minatom was also agreed upon. This project, intended to equip Russian Federation Ministry of Defense (MOD) facilities with up-to-date physical protection systems, obtained over 120 perimeter protection systems, 400 sets of computer equipment, devices to detect alcohol and drugs in human bodies, and a training complex for maintenance personnel. Although many Minatom and MOD facilities are participating or intend to do so, however, there are many Russian nuclear facilities that remain outside the MPC&A framework.
Transparent Dismantlement of Nuclear Weapons
Between 1996 and 1998, during preparation for the anticipated third iteration of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START III) and in compliance with the Joint Statement of the U.S. and Russian presidents (Helsinki, March 1997), multi-purpose studies were carried out at weapons laboratories in the United States and Russia. These studies focused on potential approaches, technological and organizational measures, and other techniques that could be used to ensure transparent dismantlement of nuclear weapons in the context of future arms reductions. Research work focused on several technical areas: radiation spectroscopy for materials identification, detection of explosives, elimination of nuclear weapons casings, and elimination of explosive components.
DOE and Minatom also cooperate on export controls. There are many bilateral cooperative export control programs, and several agencies in both countries are involved with administering them. Export controls address a wide range of dual-use technologies both within and outside the nuclear sector. Some of them operate within ongoing bilateral cooperative programs, while in other cases, independent structures are created for specific export control regimes.
For example, two Minatom export control laboratories were established in 1997 at IPPE and VNIITF. These laboratories perform extensive research for Minatom, conduct training, develop
tools and methods for export control at Minatom enterprises, and review export contracts for identifying science-intensive export products.
Because of the political sensitivity of cooperation on export control, Minatom coordinates export control in the nuclear sector by involving representatives of all ministries that bear responsibility for the export control system in Russia. Some participants suggested that such an approach reduces bureaucratic impediments to cooperation. They also argued that the issues of export control and nuclear nonproliferation will continue to be one of the most important dimensions of the U.S.-Russian collaboration in the near future.
The nonproliferation regime also provides the United States and Russia with multiple multilateral opportunities for cooperation on export control. These include the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Zangger Committee, and, to some extent, the Wassenaar Arrangement.
JOINT VERIFICATION EXPERIMENTS
Cooperation between Russian nuclear centers and U.S. national laboratories began in the late 1980s. Joint experiments on verification of compliance with the 1974 Treaty on the Limitation of Underground Nuclear Weapon Tests, also known as the Threshold Test Ban Treaty (TTBT), were the first major collaborations between Russian and U.S. government laboratories. Within the project framework, experts from the U.S.S.R. carried out measurements of underground nuclear explosions at the Nevada Test Site (August 17, 1988), while American scientists performed measurements at the Semipalatinsk test site (September 14, 1988). Participants who raised this example of early cooperation stressed that, when implementing this project, both sides had to overcome many objective and subjective impediments. These included the need to protect sensitive information concerning fundamental national security issues, mutual mistrust and suspicion, differing technical approaches to nuclear testing and measurement, access control issues related to the arrival of large groups of technical experts from the other side, and examination of sophisticated equipment for planted intelligence devices.
Negotiations in Geneva that produced an inter-governmental agreement helped the parties overcome these impediments. High-level managers who headed the teams of both the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. experts were empowered to resolve urgent problems. Because of the positive nature of these interactions, and the useful data they produced, some participants in the workshop stated that the joint verification experiments were a major step toward strengthening confidence between Russia and the United States.
INTERNATIONAL SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY CENTER
The idea of establishing the International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) emerged in the course of a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Baker to VNIITF in the early 1990s. The major purpose of the ISTC is to motivate Russian weapon scientists and experts to pursue peaceful science projects in Russia, thereby preventing the scientists from leaving Russia and contributing to illegal nuclear weapons development programs in other countries. ISTC became the source of
significant support for such scientists during the hardest years of restructuring the Russian economy.
In the last 10 years, ISTC funded about $500 million in research involving over 51,000 scientists from 700 research institutes in Russia, Byelorussia, Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. Several Russian participants attributed ISTC’s success in part to the fact that the following key issues were agreed at the preliminary stage and formalized as an international agreement:
Requirements for project proposals and format of their presentation
Mechanism of coordination with Russian governmental bodies
Project review procedure: project proposals receive expert appraisals by a Scientific Advisory Board, then decisions are made by the funding parties at the ISTC Board of Governors meetings
Issues of audit and access to Russian institutions for evaluation
Reimbursement of (exemption from) taxes and customs duties
Payment of project grants for their participants
Operational support of ISTC projects by its Executive Directorate
In addition to ISTC, it is important to note two other programs that work to reduce the likelihood that Russian weapons expertise will leave Russia. The Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention and the Nuclear Cities Initiative are run by the U.S. Department of Energy and have different approaches than ISTC. Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention focuses on the involvement and investment of private industry in the weapons complex of the former Soviet Union. The Nuclear Cities Initiative, which operates within the previously secret “nuclear cities,” emphasizes the transformation of the Soviet weapons complex infrastructure to commercial use.
INTERNATIONAL NUCLEAR SAFETY PROGRAM
The International Nuclear Safety Program (INSP), though not focused directly on nuclear nonproliferation, is related to this subject. Some Russian workshop participants held up the program as a good example of U.S.-Russian cooperation, saying that the experience gained applies to other areas of cooperation, and that the program was remarkable for its transparency and free access to financial and project information. The INSP program was initiated shortly after the Chernobyl accident and was directed to assist Russia and other countries with Soviet-built nuclear power reactors to improve the safety of their operating plants. The work of the program has now largely been completed.
Information on the progress of program implementation within specific areas of safety improvement initially could be obtained from quarterly and annual reports compiled by DOE. Later, as the number of joint projects increased, the reports were organized by subject and made available on the world wide web, along with detailed project descriptions, staff contact information, and financial data. Regular progress reports were also posted on the Internet and distributed to relevant Russian organizations, including power-plant operators. The Russian background paper emphasized that this high level of transparency and communication, and routine meetings among managers of individual INSP projects from both countries, were among the program’s strengths.