IMPEDIMENTS AND THEIR CAUSES
In trying to develop strategies for overcoming impediments to cooperation, participants in the workshop not only examined successes, but also looked at programs that have not consistently succeeded in overcoming barriers to progress. Along with the positive results described in Section 2, the decade of experience with U.S.-Russian cooperation on nuclear nonproliferation has revealed a number of “weak points” and impediments which have hindered and at times even halted some programs.
Many workshop participants saw identifying and understanding the source of an impediment to cooperation as essential to overcoming that impediment. Barriers and impediments to cooperation take many forms, but the impediments identified within the workshop can be understood in terms of six kinds of issues: (1) political issues, (2) legal issues, (3) issues related to scientific and technical cooperation, (4) issues related to program organization and management, (5) issues related to the legacy of the Cold War mentality, and (6) funding issues.
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 be immune and unresponsive to each nation’s interests.
As argued in the American background paper, to be effective a program must have both constancy and consistency despite operating within a sometimes turbulent political environment. Programs can be impeded, often unwittingly, when their schedules make them a political issue in one or both countries. The Russian background paper suggests that bilateral cooperative programs and their impediments be considered in terms of how they affect and reduce international proliferation risk, minimizing the effects of domestic political trends of the day in the United States and Russia.
Several workshop participants, from both countries, pointed to what they considered insufficient political will as a fundamental source of political impediments to cooperation. Decisions made at the highest levels can facilitate bilateral cooperation in general, and expressions of high-level support can enhance interactions at all levels of the governments and between the two societies more generally. However, insufficient political will, or the absence of strong, high-level political support for a program, can manifest itself in many ways. Some participants argued that the lack
of consistency with which both governments approach cooperation on nuclear nonproliferation has undermined programmatic efforts that build mutual confidence in the area of arms reduction. As a specific example, some Russian participants noted that changes in the work strategy of every new U.S. administration, and the subsequent reshuffling of the U.S. program management, is problematic for cooperative programs.
The following subsections more specifically address higher-level political issues that were part of the workshop.
Linkage of U.S. Funding for Cooperative Programs to Actions Outside of the Programs
The Russian background paper suggested that an ultimate objective of the international nuclear nonproliferation regime is to prevent nuclear weapons from spreading in the world. Therefore, according to the paper, the bilateral U.S.-Russian cooperative programs on nuclear nonproliferation, and impediments to them, should be considered in terms of this international context, i.e., how they affect and reduce the proliferation risk. Bilateral programs with such objectives meet the interests of both sides, and are therefore least subject to changing political goals of current administrations. Insulation from these shifting political goals is a necessary, but not sufficient, prerequisite for program success.
Although such insulation would clearly bring some benefits to cooperative nonproliferation programs, the realities of cooperation are sometimes different. Provisions of both overarching legislation and individual appropriations bills in the United States sometimes link cooperative programs to requirements for action by Russia. Some American participants suggested that, while such legal provisions are sometimes regrettable, these linkages are generally unavoidable within the U.S. political system. For example, in the case of destruction of chemical weapons under the CTR program, funding could only be provided if the president of the United States certified Russia’s compliance with chemical and biological arms control accords. The requirement for annual recertification was modified in 2002, allowing waivers of the requirement at the president’s discretion until 2006, except for demilitarization of the Schuch’ye site, which continues to need annual recertification. In 2002, before the U.S. Congress granted the president the authority to waive recertification, funding was held up for several months.
A whole array of restrictions, including funding restrictions, applies to U.S. interactions with parties that are believed to be assisting Iran in any of several ways. The Iran-Libya Sanctions Act of 1996, and several executive orders imposing these restrictions, which are part of a broader U.S. policy regarding Iran, are examples of U.S. actions that pressure Russia to freeze its collaboration with Iran in the area of nuclear energy. According to the Russian background paper, the U.S. intelligence community assesses that Iran is seeking to develop and acquire nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and the means to deliver them, and that Iran hopes to exploit access to the Russian nuclear establishment to promote the Iranian weapons program.
Russia considers the United States’ concerns unjustified, stating that under the economic, scientific and engineering cooperation program whereby Russia assists Iran in completing and starting up the nuclear power plant in Bushehr, both Russia and Iran fulfill their international nuclear nonproliferation obligations. The Russian government views cooperation with Iran as an
ordinary and legitimate commercial venture in civil nuclear energy that is in Russia’s national economic interests.11
Some participants noted that from the United States perspective, both isolation of Iran and promotion of U.S.-Russian cooperative programs on nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation are in the national security interests of the United States and Russia. Where these interests conflict, one may override the other. From the Russian perspective, promoting the peaceful use of nuclear energy is a component of a healthy international nuclear nonproliferation regime: if the nations that have advanced nuclear energy programs supply nations that have little nuclear energy capability with nuclear power plants and supporting facilities, the nations with indigenous nuclear energy programs can control the kinds of technologies deployed and build nonproliferation requirements into the contracts, effectively raising the relative cost of proliferation. Thus, if agreed international standards are met, there should be no quarrel.
It was observed that some Americans mistrust the effectiveness of the nuclear nonproliferation regime, and rely on U.S. unilateral capabilities such as intelligence assessments as the driver for United States policy. In the view of the authors of the Russian background paper, the problems with the nuclear nonproliferation regime simply indicate that new international standards must be agreed upon that would have the double benefit of clarifying the components of nuclear nonproliferation and of providing a standard with which the policies of nuclear states must be consistent, rather than applying a double (or even triple) standard. Further, because the U.S.-Russian cooperative programs meet the vital interests of both countries, linkage of their implementation to any extraneous political condition seemed counterproductive to some participants. In light of the U.S. policy, Russia also faces a tension, in this case between its interest in cooperation with the United States on nonproliferation and its interest in cooperation with Iran on nuclear energy. The United States views the differences on the “Iranian issue” as an impediment to concluding an agreement on U.S.-Russian cooperation on peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Russia views the lack of such an agreement as impeding substantially all related bilateral programs in this area (both on-going and planned), including those on nuclear nonproliferation.
The example above demonstrates a formal linking of funding to other actions. Informal links also exist. For example, an American participant described how the failure of the effort to construct a facility to destroy stocks of solid rocket motor fuel (heptyl) has had an impact on the whole CTR program. There was disagreement among the participants as to the cause of the failure—whether the project was ill-conceived, lacked sufficient political support, or lacked local support—but many workshop participants from both sides noted that new appropriations, even for nuclear projects, come under greater scrutiny because of the $200 million wasted on the failed heptyl project.
The situation with regard to Iran has changed significantly since this workshop was held in September 2003. During a visit of the foreign ministers of France, Germany, and the United Kingdom to Tehran on 21 October 2003, the Iranian government and the visiting officials issued a statement in which Iran expressly forswore nuclear weapons and agreed to cooperate fully with IAEA. Iran provided IAEA with a full nuclear declaration two days later, and signed an Additional Protocol on Nuclear Safeguards on 18 December. During the early months of 2004, however, tensions have risen again over the accuracy and timeliness of the data provided by Iran and over IAEA inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities. Source: http://www.iaea.org/NewsCenter/Focus/IaeaIran/iran_timeline.shtml, accessed 22 April, 2004.
United States officials seek access to Russian nuclear facilities receiving U.S. funds to monitor how the funds are used and what results are achieved, as required by the laws appropriating the funds. Some participants noted that U.S. officials have at times sought detailed data about facilities storing nuclear materials and 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. This has included large numbers of visits and access to not only the Russian laboratory or facility where most of the work is going on, but to other facilities within the site. At some sites, dozens of American groups have visited within a single year, with only a vague articulation of why each visit was necessary or how they related to each other. The authors of the Russian background paper argued that these requests for site access and information are sometimes excessive in number. Some Russian workshop participants also noted that American program staff sometimes make unacceptable requests for confidential analytical data on the vulnerability and effectiveness of physical protection systems at specific facilities.
Russian and American participants agreed that Russian officials and site managers 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 American participants stated that there have been several examples of Americans receiving approvals from Minatom for a site visit, traveling to the site, and finding that they are not granted entry. 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 that site visits are intelligence-gathering activities that have little to do with ensuring proper project management. Several participants argued that neither of these attitudes is helpful, and that 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.
Some Russian and American participants observed, however, that progress has been made in this arena. With some restrictions (e.g., a special request notification deadline of 45 days preceding any visit to a Russian classified site), access is granted under the U.S.-Russian cooperative programs using yearly-approved lists of the United States delegates, which are updated once every six months. Only a limited number of multi-entry visas for U.S. specialists involved in the implementation of Minatom programs are granted by Russia because in most cases such work involves visiting sensitive facilities. To mitigate the entry-visa problem, at present Russia grants double-entry visas to Russia for the U.S. specialists for a period of three months. But difficulties remain.
The authors of the Russian background paper noted that Russia recognizes the need for a solution to the issue of access control for foreign partners if Russia is going to attract U.S. private investments, and some Russian participants noted that creative solutions can be found to specific site access problems. The difficulty of obtaining access for American business leaders participating in the Nuclear Cities Initiative was cited as an example. Problems might be solved by removing the relevant facilities from the jurisdiction of the site.
Questions of access to data can be as problematic as site access. As part of the START process, there were early concerns about how to satisfy the United States’ demand to verify irreversible dismantlement of nuclear munitions while at the same time addressing Russian concerns that classified information not be disclosed. Studies were undertaken on both sides and the United States demonstrated a flexible approach at the early stages, while Russia strictly limited release of information on the facilities to be dismantled and related technologies. Later on, Russia expressed its readiness for greater openness, but by that time the United States had lost interest in the matter.
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, obtaining entry visas was, at times, difficult. Several meeting participants noted that the challenge has 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. Several Russian participants noted that, although they understood the reasons for tightening immigration controls since the events of September 2001, they were concerned about the effects on cooperative nuclear nonproliferation programs of recent changes in United States immigration policy. Russian citizens, including those working on nuclear nonproliferation, undergo increasingly complicated procedures for obtaining entry visas as a result of new visa restrictions. Some workshop participants pointed out that this is negatively effecting the quality of cooperative programs as well as their implementation schedules, and suggested that the problem needs to be addressed at a high level.
Many Russian participants noted that the requirement that all applicants for a visa to visit the United States be interviewed in person is especially problematic. This often causes additional expenses for interviewees if a trip to a U.S. consular office requires travel. It is also irksome because the United States approach seems unbalanced. Because American project participants who hold diplomatic or government passports do not need to be interviewed when applying for a visa to Russia, the U.S. government recently began replacing passports of their specialists with the “right” ones, exempting them from the interviews in the Russian Consulate.
Further, some American participants noted that 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 United States 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 American background paper noted that the problem is now being compounded as other governments, including that of the Russian Federation, respond to the imbalances in visa requirements by increasing the rigor of their own visa approval processes and imposing restrictions upon Americans traveling in their countries. Several workshop participants
expressed the opinion that 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. Visa application procedures for specialists from both the United States and Russia could be simplified if they are well-known persons (e.g., included in some pre-agreed lists) involved in the implementation of known (intergovernmental and interdepartmental) projects. The current visa system, however, interferes with both the specific and general goals of U.S.-Russian security collaboration.
Internal Interagency Difficulties
Both American and Russian participants described difficulties in their respective governmental interagency processes. Neither the United States nor the Russian government is organized for maximum efficiency in implementing cooperative nuclear nonproliferation programs. Some American participants argued that the interagency structure in the United States is fairly well defined, but that 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, to veto it outright.
The maturity of the legislative foundation, the availability of appropriate organizational frameworks and mechanisms to ensure practical application of existing laws, and other legal issues directly affect the implementation of cooperative programs. A comprehensive analysis of legal issues was beyond the scope of the discussion, but specific legal impediments to U.S.-Russian cooperation on nuclear nonproliferation were highlighted in the Russian background paper, namely taxation of the assistance, access control of foreign specialists to WMD destruction facilities, holding tenders for the right of performing WMD destruction-related work, and nuclear liability related issues, including the issue of ratifying the Vienna Convention on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage.
Several of the cooperative programs have an economic-aid component, wherein the U.S. government is the “donor” and Russian federal, regional, and local executive bodies, legal entities, and individuals are the “recipients.” Agreements on cooperation in Russia provide “donors” and “recipients” exemptions from or refund of the value added tax (VAT), income tax, and other taxes collected by the federal budget, when using funds, equipment, labor and other services within the Russian Federation during the execution of cooperative programs. The rationale behind such exemptions is that they enhance the effectiveness of the funds, and that American assistance should support only the activities it has agreed to support, and not the programs supported by the taxes (such as Russia’s national defense).
The Russian background paper stated that there have been no serious complications related to the exemptions related to CTR activities because the tax exemption clause in the CTR agreement is so clear. Even when it expired, the parties signed a protocol in June 1999 extending the CTR program for seven years. Programs have operated provisionally under that agreement as the protocol remains to be ratified by the Russian State Duma.
Tax exemptions under other U.S.-Russian agreements, which were regulated by specific directives of the Russian government and orders of specific ministries and agencies, were much more complicated. The situation improved considerably after enactment of Federal Law No 95 of May 1999 on assistance to the Russian Federation, which brought needed order to the taxation and tax exemption processes, defining for example what forms of assistance make related goods and services exempt from taxes. A number of problems, however, still remain to be addressed:
Lack of a clear tax exemption mechanism for participants in the scientific and technical assistance programs. This situation results in ambiguous interpretation and execution of the laws as regards the tax exemption/refund mechanism (especially in case of VAT) and, ultimately, slows down the process of the cooperative program implementation.
Lengthy bureaucratic procedures for granting technical-assistance status to such projects due to insufficient “operating capacity” in the Commission on International Technical Assistance in the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, which reviews applications.
Lack in the Federal Law of any direct prescription concerning complete exemption from taxes to be paid to the budgets of Russian regions (i.e., administrative subjects).
Russian laws and regulatory documents on technical assistance to Russia (e.g., the Federal Law No 95 of May 12, 1999, and its implementation instructions) address mainly large-scale and multi-year projects, rather than a variety of short-term contracts executed by Russian enterprises within this program. DOE is proposing a technical assistance program on export control that is outside of the framework of the global MPC&A Program, which afforded tax exemptions. The use of multiple, smaller contracts can overwhelm the bodies that process applications for tax exemptions. This problem is likely to become more acute as the new assistance program comes into force, as it includes short-term contracts (2-3 months, as for training workshops) but receiving a tax exemption certificate takes 3-6 months. Thus, as a practical matter, tax exemptions cannot be provided in time for contracts of less than one year. However, if the contractors do not receive tax exemptions, they may not even be able to cover their own costs.
The Russian background paper suggested that grants from ISTC, the Civilian Research and Development Foundation (CRDF), and other organizations solve the problem of tax exemption to a large extent. However, the export-control requirements related to dual-purpose goods and technologies used in such projects, the complexity and duration of the formal project review and approval processes, and established caps on project costs substantially hinder progress toward attaining project goals.
Disagreement between the United States and Russia concerning liability provisions in their bilateral agreements has delayed extension of both the Nuclear Cities Initiative (which expired September 22, 2003 but had its projects extended by a last-minute agreement between the U.S. Secretary of Energy and the Minister of Atomic Energy of the Russian Federation) and the Plutonium Disposition Science and Technology Agreement (expired on July 24, 2003). 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…”12
The original CTR agreement provided blanket liability protection for contractors. In addition to shielding United States corporations and scientists in the case of nuclear and non-nuclear accidents, the agreement provided indemnification against claims of premeditated acts that cause injury or death. The United States insists on including this provision in every new or renewed agreement. The Russian background paper stated that Russia is willing to implement a liability exemption, but only within the standards of international law and the framework of the 1963 Vienna Convention on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage (signed by Russia in 1996 and yet to be ratified by the Russian State Duma), or the Protocol to the Multilateral Nuclear Environmental Program in the Russian Federation (MNEPR) Agreement on claims, legal proceedings, and exemption from liability for damaged property, signed in May 2003 by 10 countries, the European Union, and EURATOM, but not by the United States. Indemnification beyond that, Russia says, runs contrary to civil liability provisions of Russia’s Federal Law on International Agreements, which provide for reparation of damages by the guilty person(s). The original CTR agreement preceded this law, passed in 1995, and so was not subject to it.
Negotiations on this subject have virtually reached a deadlock. Several workshop participants observed that the United States and the Russian Federation lack 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 potentially crippling liabilities.
ISSUES RELATED TO SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL COOPERATION
International Promotion of Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy
A number of Russian participants characterized the lack of U.S.-Russian cooperation on promoting the peaceful use of nuclear energy as an impediment to cooperation on nuclear nonproliferation more broadly. Most of the American participants did not see cooperation on nuclear energy as critical to cooperation on nuclear nonproliferation. This difference of perspective illustrates, to some extent, the frustration representatives of the Russian and U.S. governments feel when these issues come up in negotiations. Russia views nuclear energy as an
important industry that it can both capitalize upon through exports and use to actively support nuclear nonproliferation, and Russia has consistently sought to expand the role of Russian nuclear power in other countries. The United States has been ambivalent about expansion of nuclear power for nearly thirty years, although it has increased international cooperation on advanced nuclear reactors and improved fuel cycles in the last five years. Both Russia and the United States hope to improve the economic, safety, environmental, and nonproliferation characteristics of the reactors and the fuel cycles. Possible future cooperation in this arena is discussed in Section 4.2.
Technical Feasibility of Proposals
Some U.S.-Russian agreements have explicitly or implicitly required technical work that may not be scientifically feasible, as noted in the Russian background paper. For example, when the agreement on converting the Russian plutonium production reactors was signed in 1997, some United States and Russian experts were skeptical that the conversions were technically feasible. After three years of joint research and development, in 2000, the governments decided to shut down the reactors without conversion once fossil-fueled power plants are able to replace the heat and electricity generating capacity of the reactors. The Russian background paper observed that while much U.S.-Russian cooperation on nuclear nonproliferation can be accomplished with existing technologies or with modest levels of research and development, technical factors can be impediments to more scientifically ambitious projects. They noted that experience has justified the practice of conducting thorough, joint examinations of the relevance and achievability of scientific and technical objectives at early stages of cooperative programs.
ISSUES RELATED TO PROGRAM ORGANIZATION AND MANAGEMENT
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. If either the goals of a cooperative program or specific programmatic procedures are in tension or conflict with established bureaucratic approaches, 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.
Achieving the appropriate balance between central and local control of program operations is a key structural question that must be answered when designing and managing these programs. The Russian background paper proposed a mechanism for establishing this balance. It was suggested that programs be diversified by status and scope because some laboratory specialists express frustration with the progress and results of the U.S.-Russian cooperation on nuclear nonproliferation. On the one hand, the laboratories express a desire to avoid excessive administration, but, on the other hand, when the issues of access control and/or taxation emerge, they look for administrative support from their ministries. An optimum balance could be found
by concluding inter-agency agreements, whose execution should be delegated to specific laboratories. Another layer of bureaucratic impediments arises when bureaucratic authority or responsibilities are not assigned properly. For example, they might not provide sufficient authority to the laboratories for execution of agreed tasks.
Personal Relationships and Managerial Flexibility
Program implementers must achieve a balance between managerial flexibility and the structural consistency necessary for institutional stability as they work together to carry out projects. Several workshop participants noted that an optimal balance cannot be reached early in collaborations because flexibility is attained, in part, through personal contacts between program managers as they gain a better understanding of each other’s problems and develop mutual trust and confidence. The challenge for managers is to determine how much latitude they have for creative decision-making within the established rules and use that latitude to the benefit of the overall program. But programs need not start anew with each project. An efficient managerial structure can build upon progress in other areas of cooperation, learning lessons from their experience and emulating their best practices.
Travel Authorizations and Other Bureaucratic Obstacles
Bureaucratic issues are interwoven throughout the problems with entry visas, but completely apart from the need for visas, participants in cooperative programs often must obtain permission from several agencies within their own government to travel internationally. 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).”13 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.
Evaluation and Personnel Issues
Some American participants noted organizational and personnel issues that have impeded cooperation. At an organizational level, the United States lacks institutionalized mechanisms for evaluating and learning from experience to improve cooperative programs. What processes there are for evaluation are underdeveloped or are focused on individual components of U.S.-Russian cooperation, rather than on each piece as part of a larger program with a range of experience. The metrics used for evaluating progress in programs are also underdeveloped, especially with respect to human factors such as training of personnel. For example, without mechanisms that compel DOE to examine its own programs, it will not learn from itself; and without greater input and feedback from specialists outside of the programs, DOE cannot learn from others.
With respect to personnel, the United States has made errors that hindered cooperation on nuclear nonproliferation. First, as some Russian participants noted, turnover in personnel has resulted in instances where Russian partners have had to work with a different counterpart in the same program nearly every year. This lack of continuity prevents development of trusting relationships based on mutual understanding and hampers the development of institutional memory. Most American participants agreed that high turnover was problematic, but several suggested that it is unavoidable. Second, some people’s skills are ill-suited for certain jobs, and the United States and Russia have sometimes put personnel in positions that are a poor match. Because personal interactions are a key element of success, having the wrong person filling an important position can hamper progress.
ISSUES RELATED TO THE LEGACY OF THE COLD WAR MENTALITY
Agreements on international cooperation are made between nations, but the success or failure of these programs depends on the actions of individuals. Several workshop participants noted that personal attitudes and relationships can be critically important, and residual Cold War thinking can undermine cooperative efforts.
The long enmity between the United States and the Soviet Union, which was extremely costly both in lives and money, still affects the relationship between the United States and the Russian Federation. Many people involved in negotiating, funding, and implementing U.S.-Russian cooperation grew up and were educated in the Cold War years. For many, their knowledge base, political views, and attitudes were formed in a period of severe ideological and military confrontation between the two openly hostile coalitions. Despite our nations’ non-adversarial relationship today, the Cold War legacy continues to exert an influence on the thinking of younger generations. Miscommunications, setbacks, and delays can easily be misconstrued as proof of negative stereotypes. Mistrust and suspicion often cause unnecessary tension during negotiations and hinder attaining effective arrangements.
Residual Cold War attitudes can be expressed in a number of ways. Because the United States provides most of the funds for cooperative nuclear nonproliferation programs, differences of opinion about those programs among members of the U.S. Congress often surface in the appropriations process. Individual members can block funds, delay action (either intentionally or unintentionally) through investigations, or attach conditions to appropriations legislation that undermine or complicate the programs. Members who take such actions may have any number of reasons for doing so. This may well include a frank belief that the blocking action serves the national security interests of the United States, or even that the action will ultimately strengthen the program by making it possible to introduce improvements. In other cases, however, members of Congress may oppose nuclear nonproliferation cooperation with the Russian Federation on the grounds that the Russian government, by virtue of being the government of the former Soviet Union, is inherently untrustworthy. It is in these situations that Cold War attitudes appear to linger.
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.
The United States provides nearly all of the funding for bilateral U.S.-Russian cooperative programs on nuclear nonproliferation. The way funds are appropriated in the United States, however, creates some impediments to effective use of the funds in Russia and other nations. The publicly visible portion of the U.S. budget process begins at the end of January each year when the president conveys his budget request to the U.S. Congress. Congress works on the budget, aiming to pass legislation in the summer, appropriating funds for programs in the next fiscal year, which begins on October 1. In many years, the appropriations laws are not passed by the beginning of the new fiscal year, and “continuing resolutions” allow the U.S. government and the programs it supports to continue to operate as though the previous year’s appropriations continued to apply to the new period.
It should be noted that, as the Russian economy has gained strength, the Russian government has demonstrated increasing willingness to contribute financially to nonproliferation efforts generally, including nuclear nonproliferation. Russia’s commitment to contribute $2 billion over ten years to the G8 Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction is a particularly welcome development in the eyes of the United States and other G8 members.
With regard to U.S. funding of cooperative nuclear nonproliferation programs in Russia, the Russian background paper suggested that additional transparency in financial records would be helpful. Financial information that the United States supplies to Russia is often presented in an aggregate manner that makes it difficult to determine how much funding has been allocated, for example, to support the work of a specific government ministry. In the view of the authors of the Russian background paper, there is not enough transparency in U.S. funding decisions to enable Russian program managers to work effectively.
Preferences Given to Large Research Centers
Some Russian participants noted problems with the United States’ preference for funding large research centers, to the neglect of smaller institutes, in the lab-to-lab cooperative programs. In addition to neglecting important components of the research community, this practice gives
preference to institutions that are less able to handle financial matters promptly in implementing short-term contracts, because of their cumbersome financial apparatus.
These participants further noted that for most of the work under so-called “export contracts,” the United States does not allow for overhead costs, so project funds end up being used to cover indirect costs rather than just on direct support of the agreed work.
Difficulties with Alternative Funding Mechanisms
Tax problems and the difficulties mentioned above make grants, such as those through the ISTC and CRDF, more attractive for those applying for and receiving funding. But these mechanisms are not without their own problems. Some Russian participants identified one difficulty as the time-consuming procedure for getting the approval for funding of the ISTC projects. Even with partner ISTC projects, where the funding source is known from the beginning, it can take up to a year from submittal of an application until issuance of the contract. These are relatively small projects (as a rule, below $300,000), and thus do not pay for resource-intensive R&D projects.
A greater complication in ISTC projects, however, arises when dual-purpose goods and technologies liable to export control must be procured. Russian export control laws state that delivery of nuclear or dual-purpose goods and technologies is only allowed if an import/export license can be obtained. Operating under ISTC status prohibits transfer of controlled goods and technologies because they can contribute to nuclear proliferation. At the same time, projects related to development of advanced nuclear energy facilities, which employ dual-purpose technologies, are a natural alternative focus for scientists who previously worked on nuclear weapons.