TOOLS FOR OVERCOMING IMPEDIMENTS TO COOPERATION
Many workshop participants said that although the U.S. and Russian governments have succeeded in coping with many barriers and impediments to cooperation on nuclear nonproliferation over the past decade, 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 standing, political impact, technical aspects, and overall importance to the success of the joint projects. With some impediments, it has been possible to make slow progress, continuing—albeit with difficulty—project implementation. In other cases, impediments have stopped the cooperation cold.
One workshop participant offered a list of program characteristics that can improve a specific program’s chances for success:
Specific program goals to which both sides agree at the outset
An agreed list of specific actions that will signal attainment of program goals
Links between funding from the U.S. Congress and the agreed goals and actions
An agreed plan for project and funding responsibility to move from the United States to Russia.
It was noted that, while these characteristics are necessary, they are not sufficient to guarantee program success. This is particularly true with regard to goals or actions which are not quantifiable, but are nevertheless crucial.
During the course of the workshop, and in the background papers, a number of approaches to overcoming impediments to cooperation—both general and specific—were suggested:
Establishing and institutionalizing mechanisms for interaction at all levels of cooperation
Identifying and seizing new opportunities for international cooperation, such as on developing proliferation-resistant nuclear energy technologies
Facilitating changes in national law, policy, or procedures
Creating mechanisms for communicating and disseminating the benefits of experience among program participants
In the following section, we describe these approaches, provide examples of each, and consider how they might be applied in future.
MECHANISMS FOR INTERACTION AT MULTIPLE LEVELS
When developing and implementing new cooperative programs, or attempting to improve current ones, efforts to encourage and develop interactions between the United States and Russia at all levels of official cooperation are of crucial importance. There are a number of existing and potential mechanisms for interaction between the United States and Russia, and they range from high-level, international interactions to those between individual program participants.
Interactions Within the International Community
The proliferation of nuclear weapons, of course, is not only a problem for the United States and Russia. As the background materials for the workshop suggested, nuclear weapons and materials pose a global threat, and the security challenges they present are often most effectively addressed in the context of the international community. Although operating in a multinational environment can involve painstaking negotiations and difficult compromises, the benefits of multinational cooperation may be considerable once agreement is reached. By distributing responsibility for a project among several nations, multinational collaborations may decrease the negative effects of strained bilateral relations on projects, reduce the financial burden on individual nations, increase the number of parties having a direct interest in a successful outcome, and generate support within the broader international community.
Several important examples of international interactions were discussed during the workshop:
The international effort to help Russia dismantle its nuclear submarine fleet. As noted earlier, the United States provided Russia with equipment for dismantling ballistic missile submarines but does not fund the dismantlement of attack and cruise-missile submarines. The fleet, however, poses significant environmental risks, and Japan and Norway in particular have strong interests in seeing Russia’s fleet of attack and cruise-missile submarines dismantled safely. Japan and Norway, with the help of several other nations, are therefore providing funds for the dismantlement effort. In 2003, the contributions are expected to total $32.8 million.14 This cooperation is part of the G8 Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction, mentioned above.
Other examples of the potential of international interactions under the G8 Global Partnership are in the area of chemical weapons destruction—a major effort to which a number of countries have been contributing—and safe storage of nuclear waste materials.
It is hoped that the Multilateral Nuclear Environmental Program in the Russian Federation (MNEPR) will reduce the problems associated with the taxation of funds for programs being financed internationally.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) clearly plays a crucial role in reducing nuclear proliferation risks, not only through safeguards and verification but also by facilitating the sharing of information among states and providing a forum in which international standards can be established and rigorously tested. As well, the IAEA
provides opportunities for bilateral cooperation in several areas designed to prevent and combat nuclear terrorism.
The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and its associated regimes and institutions offer a number of opportunities for increased cooperation between the United States and Russia on nuclear nonproliferation. One such example is the IAEA, noted above. Another is the regular NPT review process, during which states parties to the treaty reassess the treaty provisions in light of current events and trends. Export control regimes such as the Zangger Committee and the Nuclear Suppliers Group provide opportunities for cooperatively restricting the export of materials or technology which may contribute to proliferation.
A number of Russian participants noted, and American participants generally agreed, that the development and implementation of bilateral U.S.-Russian cooperative programs in this very sensitive area should be increasingly converted from programs consisting of U.S. economic, scientific, and engineering assistance to Russia to cooperative programs based on equal partnership and balanced inputs of intellectual, material, and financial resources. This is especially true given Russia’s recovering economy, the nuclear capabilities of the United States and Russia, and the high international nuclear nonproliferation profiles of the two countries. The recent highest-level declaration of Russia’s intent to contribute about $2 billion to the success of the “Global partnership” program within 10 years started the transition of Russia from the category of a recipient country to a partner, which undoubtedly should have a positive impact on Russia’s cooperation with other countries, including the United States.
Many workshop participants pointed out that the support of high-level political leadership is important to the success of joint nuclear nonproliferation programs. Some Russian participants suggested that a cooperative program has a better chance of success if its major goals, subject scope, organization, and management issues are discussed and agreed upon in intergovernmental agreements, and, if necessary, ratified by the U.S. Congress and the State Duma of the Russian Federation. Several agreements were cited, in the background materials and during the workshop, as examples of government-to-government agreements which, with high-level support, contributed significantly to facilitating U.S.-Russian bilateral cooperation. The essence of these agreements rapidly reached the public community in both countries, contributed to the enhancement of cooperative activities, and gave an impetus to the managerial structures directly concerned with the development and implementation of cooperative programs.
Of course, there is ample precedent for the role of government-to-government agreements in cooperation between the United States and Russia. As was mentioned previously, at the outset of the cooperation on nuclear nonproliferation in 1992, the United States and Russia completed the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Umbrella Agreement which provided the first legal underpinnings for the CTR program in the Department of Defense, and, later, for additional cooperative nuclear nonproliferation programs in the Department of Energy. Other government-to-government agreements were negotiated to lay the foundations for 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 typically negotiated with the full permission and oversight of the respective interagency authorities in both countries. These agreements therefore enjoy high legal and political status in the two governments. As such, they can provide much-needed authority to advance implementation of joint activities.
While such agreements are necessary legal instruments, however, they may not always be 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.
Joint Coordinating Committees
Several Russian participants noted a number of program management practices that they have found worthy of emulation. These include the establishment of ministerial joint coordinating committees and joint consultative and coordinating groups comprising lead scientists and specialists of both countries. They also promoted transparent project implementation based on a wide access to related scientific, technical, organizational, administrative and financial information. Both Russian and American participants noted that joint coordinating committees provide a high-level mechanism for making decisions and addressing problems. Because they meet on a regular basis, they can give an impetus to cooperative programs by imposing regular deadlines upon project managers. If, for example, a specific project is reviewed during the regular committee meeting, the managers for that project know that they must show progress, or have explanations for the lack of it, by the next meeting. By the same token, a joint committee with a high-level membership is in a political position to lend support to program managers who need it to meet their short-term goals. The Joint Coordinating Committee for the International Nuclear Safety Program, mentioned above, may serve as a useful example of this sort of collaboration. One Russian participant noted that, while creating a new bureaucratic entity is not always an effective solution to a problem, a joint coordinating committee on these issues might well be helpful.
The authors of the Russian background paper suggested the creation of a bilateral U.S.-Russian commission on nuclear nonproliferation to directly coordinate the implementation of bilateral projects on nuclear nonproliferation, including issues of confidentiality and information protection. Based on specific arrangements with agencies involved in cooperation on nuclear nonproliferation, this commission could facilitate the coordination and prioritization of projects, project selection, and progress reporting. An example of this sort of collaboration is the U.S.-Russian Joint Commission on Economic and Technological Cooperation. This commission is no longer operating, but during its tenure it regularly reviewed a variety of the U.S.-Russian cooperative issues on nuclear energy and identified new opportunities for interaction between the countries.
Agreements between implementing agencies of both countries were also considered by some to be vital to successful cooperation. 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. Examples of agency-to-agency implementing agreements include the access agreements that were negotiated for the Nuclear Cities Initiative and the special project management arrangements that were established for the Plutonium Production Reactor Shutdown Agreement.
Some participants, both American and Russian, suggested that such agency-to-agency agreements are especially important in dealing with barriers and impediments to cooperation on nuclear nonproliferation because they flow from the particular experiences 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 project managers, who must respond to often-expressed concerns about blanket requests for access or information. As noted above, Russian officials often suspect 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.
The background documentation noted that 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 plutonium production reactor shutdown effort.
Manager-to-Manager Working Methods
Several workshop participants also suggested that, although implementing agreements have been a key element in agency-to-agency collaborations, project managers define working methods during the course of a particular project. 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).
It was suggested that a key to the success of manager-to-manager relations across programs has been the maintenance of small project teams. Experience indicates that if teams of a few people (4-6) on each side are designated and sustained over time then the individual trust they build within their small group may be carried over into the broader range of cooperative programs, helping to build the confidence needed to develop working methods in real time, when agency regulation or procedure to guide an operation might be nonexistent. In those instances, 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. It was noted that one problem with such small teams 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.
Information Sharing and Coordination
Effective communication is clearly important in any cooperative venture. Several workshop participants suggested that communication has been a challenge for cooperation on nuclear nonproliferation between the United States and Russia, but that some programs have devised mechanisms for encouraging effective communication.
The International Nuclear Safety Program (INSP) was cited as a good example of successful efforts to communicate effectively in a joint technical program, for several reasons. The program managers believed strongly in transparency, and that belief was reflected in the highly detailed nature of the information that they shared. The information was shared on a regular basis. Program managers took pains to ensure that everyone who needed information received it, via both the Internet and paper reports. Secrecy and access to classified information can complicate efforts at information sharing, but useful information, similar to that described for INSP, can be shared, even for programs that require some secrecy.
One Russian participant argued that the United States and Russia should establish a mechanism for sharing sensitive information that is of mutual interest but should not be made public. An American participant disagreed, pointing out that such mechanisms exist already and that the cooperative nuclear nonproliferation programs fail to use them. Another American, however, argued that both governments should do more to facilitate the sharing of sensitive information, and suggested that some of the problem could be ameliorated if each party’s limits of classification were clearly delineated.
Informal Discussion Meetings
Several participants in the meeting from both countries expressed a belief that similar informal meetings would be useful in the future. They found it beneficial to interact with their counterparts without being restrained by negotiation guidelines, outside of the protocols which govern official meetings, and without concern that their comments would later be used against them or their programs. By facilitating open dialogue and exchanges of views, such meetings may be useful in helping to identify problems, solutions, and opportunities.
Exchanges of Personnel as Confidence-Building Measures
A number of Russian participants predicted that, despite some mistrust between the sides which was inherited from the past, the long-term strategic interests of the United States and Russia in nuclear nonproliferation meet and will prevail over the short-sighted subjective considerations and interests of some managers. To this end, one of the priorities of bilateral programs should be the education, training, and promotion of specialists and managers belonging to the new generation of people who are relatively free of the negative heritage and capable of working efficiently in realities of the changed world. In particular, expanded and more balanced exchanges between the students of military and civil universities and colleges, groups of officers,
scientists, and professors will contribute to the effectiveness of interactions and cooperation between the two countries in solving nuclear nonproliferation issues. Bi- and multi-lateral scientific conferences and workshops on nuclear nonproliferation should therefore be conducted on a systematic and regular basis.
Some workshop participants also suggested that the need to take responsibility for the risks inherent in cooperation on nuclear nonproliferation can be eased through such general confidence-building activities that improve the bilateral relationship over time. Military-to-military contacts between the United States and Russian Federation were cited as an important example, and it was noted that they have played an important role over the past decade in developing the policy environment that has enabled threat reduction cooperation to advance in both the Ministry of Defense (MOD) in Moscow and the Department of Defense (DOD) in Washington. It seems possible that some of the difficulties encountered in implementing the MOD-DOD programs have come about because of the reduction 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.
Both American and Russian workshop participants suggested that there are several types of exchanges that build cultural understanding, professional competence, and relationships between individuals, all of which can contribute both directly and indirectly to the quality and efficiency of cooperation on nuclear nonproliferation.
Exchanges by students of military schools and colleges. Such exchanges could be very useful in helping to educate a new generation of specialists who are capable of understanding the positions of their partners on negotiations and whose ability to compromise is not weakened by latent Cold War attitudes. Russian and U.S. officers who studied at one another’s military education institutions would clearly have much to offer the ongoing collaboration on nuclear nonproliferation. The importance of achieving a balanced exchange of people and information was noted.
Regular exchanges by groups of officers for short-term training at institutions responsible for nuclear nonproliferation
Exchanges by undergraduate and graduate students for education on relevant subjects
Exchanges by groups of scientists for advanced training at research centers studying issues related to national and international security
Enhanced exchanges involving individual scientists to give lectures on topical problems related to nuclear nonproliferation
Organization of regular bilateral conferences and workshops on nuclear nonproliferation
It was suggested that development of new joint programs on training exchanges would contribute to the establishment of closer contacts and mutual understanding between the specialists of the United States and Russia involved in the implementation of bilateral projects on nuclear nonproliferation.
Inter-laboratory programs between the nuclear weapons laboratories in the United States and Russia, so-called lab-to-lab cooperation programs, were touched upon briefly in the workshop.
The Russian background paper noted the great importance of these programs and suggested that the ultimate success of the lab-to-lab programs was attributable in part to the development of umbrella cooperative agreements. Such umbrella agreements do not require that general conditions of interactions be stipulated within every contract as regards specific activities and, thus, facilitate the contract consent processes both at DOE and Minatom. The Russian background paper suggested that these interactions so far have been mainly a one-way street, with funds moving from the United States to Russia and information moving from Russia to the United States. According to some Russian workshop participants, possibilities for a more balanced cooperation have begun to emerge.
INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT OF PROLIFERATION-RESISTANT NUCLEAR ENERGY TECHNOLOGIES
A number of workshop participants highlighted the importance of seeking out and exploiting new opportunities for international scientific cooperation that will strengthen collaborative nonproliferation efforts. For instance, the Russian background paper, and most of the Russian participants, heavily emphasized the potential role of cooperation on commercial nuclear energy in the international nuclear nonproliferation regime, suggesting that the goal of nuclear nonproliferation will only be realized when the burden of obtaining and possessing nuclear weapons substantially outweighs the perceived benefits. In other words, the political and economic costs of entering the nuclear club should be made high enough to render entrance too expensive and therefore unjustifiable. In the view of Russian participants, “negative reinforcement,” such as attempting to restrict the access of non-nuclear weapon states to nuclear technology, has met with limited success in curbing nuclear proliferation. They argued that, as an alternative, the United States and Russia should cooperate with the international community to adopt a more positive approach, one which facilitates the adoption of commercial nuclear energy in ways that strengthen rather than weaken the international nuclear nonproliferation regime. U.S. scientists and engineers for years have worked on designing proliferation-resistant nuclear power reactors and nuclear fuel cycles, but these projects have not had the benefit of official U.S.-Russian cooperation in this arena. A range of potential collaborative projects was proposed:
International development of advanced and innovative nuclear energy technologies that are capable of ensuring proliferation resistance by an optimum combination of predominantly intrinsic features (technologies and materials) and extrinsic measures (IAEA safeguards, nuclear material protection, control and accounting, export control)
Expanded use of permanent instrumental monitoring systems to eliminate unauthorized modifications in reactors or fuel-cycle facilities
Cooperation between the United States and Russia to develop a methodology for assessing the resistance of specific nuclear energy technologies and facilities to nuclear proliferation, especially via theft. This methodology would be internationally acknowledged and implemented.
The development of international standards on nuclear nonproliferation which would operate within the NPT framework. Such standards could comprise an agreed classification of nuclear facilities, taking the national security concerns of collaborating
countries into account. They could also specify comprehensive, symmetrical data sets on such facilities, which participating countries could agree to provide.
The creation of a mechanism for ensuring fair competition by the United States, Russia, and other nuclear countries in the markets of non-nuclear countries to support this expanded nuclear nonproliferation complex.
The Russian background paper cited several steps that have already been taken toward a more positive approach to nuclear nonproliferation, including the HEU Purchase Agreement, cooperation on disposition of weapons-grade plutonium, and ongoing multilateral efforts to develop proliferation-resistant nuclear technologies. There are now two parallel international efforts in this latter arena, the Generation IV International Forum (GIF) and the International Project on Innovative Reactors and Fuel Cycles (INPRO). In 2000, DOE initiated GIF, in which ten nations and one association participate. INPRO was initiated by President Putin and taken up by the millennium IAEA General Conference. Organized under the IAEA, the project involves 15 nations—including five GIF members—and the European Commission. Neither Russia nor the United States participates in both, and efforts to combine the programs have stalled because of the two countries’ disagreement over Iran. A number of Russian participants pointed out that the failure of the United States and Russia to cooperate on the development of nuclear energy, and disagreements between the United States and Russia on these issues—particularly with regard to Iran—constitute impediments to cooperation. These disagreements and failures to cooperate are hindering the expansion of joint bilateral research and development on advanced nuclear reactors and fuel cycle technologies which are resistant to nuclear proliferation. It was suggested that the collaborative measures cited above might be able to simultaneously help overcome these obstacles and bolster the international nuclear nonproliferation regime.
CHANGES IN NATIONAL LAW, POLICY, AND PROCEDURES
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), a significant amount of time, and effective enforcement to accomplish anything. For that reason, pursuit of new laws has not been a frequent mechanism used to speed or ease implementation of nuclear nonproliferation programs. More frequent have been steps worked out on a bilateral basis within the structure of existing laws.
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 nuclear nonproliferation threat reduction programs were stepping out into virgin territory.
It was suggested that, in this context, the programs achieved a high success rate 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. As part of this legislative process, conditions are sometimes attached to the funding of cooperative nuclear nonproliferation programs. In some instances, these conditions 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 was noted, however, that these new regulations have impacted a wide range of international cooperation, not only those involved with Russia or on cooperation on nuclear nonproliferation. It is within this broad international context, therefore, that the consequences of the act—and any future modifications of it—should be considered.
Implementing procedures or regulations can also be changed without impacting the law itself. For example, as discussed elsewhere in this paper, 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.
Interagency relations in each country also have the potential to either hinder or facilitate cooperation on nuclear nonproliferation. Some of the background materials suggested that, 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, veto it outright.
The Russian background paper called for the appointment of a single senior official in each government who would work to improve coordination of all cooperative nuclear nonproliferation activities. The official would report to their respective president and head interagency groups on nuclear nonproliferation. Some participants suggested that this “tsar” should even have some authority over the budgets that individual agencies garner for implementation of the programs. Others did not go as far, but urged instead that, rather than a tsar, a more coherent and focused interagency process should be sought within the normal structure of the executive department. Such a process would coordinate, but would not have direct influence on budgetary decisions or their implementation.
MECHANISMS FOR DISSEMINATING THE BENEFITS OF EXPERIENCE
Many workshop participants suggested that it is important that participants in different programs communicate well with one another. It was suggested that a multi-program effort such as MPC&A will be most effective when the people involved in specific programs are aware of the situation in other programs and how their work relates to the overall effort. By providing opportunities for program participants to learn from the experiences of others, effective communication across programs also helps to build a common body of institutional knowledge upon which new staff members can draw when they begin their work. It was suggested that it is important to actively encourage and guide the development of institutional knowledge as part of a well-developed personnel policy, because such a body of knowledge can serve as part of the mechanism for generating, communicating, and enforcing system-wide performance expectations, and because new employees can draw on this body of knowledge to ease their transition into a cooperative nuclear nonproliferation program.
Several types of mechanisms for disseminating information were discussed. Workshops and conferences are clearly useful mechanisms for sharing ideas and experience. They not only provide venues for American and Russian program managers to interact outside of official channels, but also create opportunities for program participants to exchange ideas with experts who are not directly involved with cooperative nuclear nonproliferation programs. However, many of those involved in collaboration already have a grueling travel schedule, and some information may be most effectively imparted in the form of a report. Therefore, a system which provides well-coordinated, reliable dissemination of relevant material on paper and via the Internet, as demonstrated by the INSP program, might also enhance inter-program communication. Finally, there may be substantial benefit in establishing a unified program evaluation system which is transparent to program participants. This would provide a mechanism for negotiating and striving to meet an agreed set of program goals, for assessing where individual programs might make improvements, and for creating an institutional memory from which both new and experienced program participants can learn.
The Russian background paper noted that the goal of educating, training, and promoting a new generation of specialists and managers goes far beyond the scope of the current project and requires the long-term, large-scale, and concerted efforts of the governments and other political, scientific, and cultural institutions of both countries. It could become one of the strategic goals of the United States and Russia for the foreseeable future. Only a new generation of people, free of the negative stereotypes of the Cold War and possessing a fundamentally changed mentality, can irreversibly cement the relations of confidence, friendship, and cooperation between the United States and Russia. This transformation will be neither quick nor painless.
The need for mechanisms to establish priorities within cooperative nuclear nonproliferation programs was expressed repeatedly by both Russian and American participants during the workshop. It was argued that failures to establish agreed program priorities when programs were just beginning have increased the difficulty of completing the projects and resulted in misplaced effort. Improving the process of establishing program priorities would be quite useful in providing guidance to program participants as they make daily decisions about how to allocate time, funding, and other resources.
OTHER TOOLS AND FIXES
Exemptions and Waivers
Exemption and waiver systems have significant potential for addressing the types of bureaucratic roadblocks that are inevitable in a collaboration such as this one. Given the scale and complexity of the network of cooperative nuclear nonproliferation programs, the process of rapidly correcting the root causes of a particular problem may be more destructive than the problem itself. The use of tools such as exemptions and waivers provides the opportunity to solve immediate problems without having to wait until their more fundamental causes have been addressed.
One example that was cited was the use of waivers or exemptions to overcome the visa and site access problems that increasingly plague cooperation between the United States and Russia on nuclear nonproliferation. The goal would be to substantially reduce the number of people in both countries who must repeatedly apply for visas and access clearances to perform their regular duties.
“Ad Hoc” Arrangements
The first few years of cooperation between the United States and Russia on nuclear 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 it was suggested that they must not be abandoned altogether. At times, intervention from an individual willing to take responsibility—whether minister or facility manager—might be necessary to accomplish an urgent project goal. It was noted that this necessity should be acknowledged on both sides.