"The Arms Control Association’s work is an important resource to legislators and policymakers when contemplating a new policy direction or decision."

– General John Shalikashvili
former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Russia Takes Back HEU from Romania

Stepping up efforts to secure materials usable in weapons of mass destruction, about 14 kg (31 lbs.) of weapons-usable highly enriched uranium (HEU) reactor fuel was airlifted from Romania to Russia on Sept. 21. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the fuel removal cost $400,000 and was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy under a cooperative U.S.-Russia-IAEA program called the Tripartite Initiative that facilitates the return of fresh and spent fuel from Russian-designed research reactors abroad. (See ACT, July/August 2002.) Russia has agreed to refabricate the fuel into low-enriched uranium (LEU).

The fresh fuel was flown from the Institute for Nuclear Research in Pitesti, Romania, to Russia’s Chemical Concentrates Plant in Novosibirsk. The fuel was originally procured for a Russian-designed two-megawatt research reactor near Romania’s capital, Bucharest. The reactor stopped operating in December 1997, and the fresh fuel was sent to Pitesti for storage. The fuel removal is part of a three-year project to convert the U.S.-designed Pitesti reactor to LEU. The United States contributed $4 million to the IAEA for the conversion.

There are currently some 80 research reactors around the world that still have weapons-usable HEU.

Russia Clinches Jet Sale to Malaysia

Russia will deliver 18 advanced combat aircraft to Malaysia in a deal concluded between the two countries during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s August 5 visit to the Southeast Asian country.

The estimated $900 million deal commits Russia to supplying 18 Su-30MKM fighter jets to Malaysia within the next few years. Malaysia will offset some of the cost of the long-range strike aircraft by providing palm oil to Russia.

Over the past few years, Malaysia has weighed buying the Su-30MKM and the U.S.-made F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, which is also a combination air combat and ground strike fighter. Malaysia’s purchase of the Su-30MKMs does not rule out the possibility it might purchase Super Hornets in the future.

Malaysia’s air force is currently comprised of both Russian and U.S. fighter jets. Russia delivered 18 MiG-29N fighters to Malaysia in 1995. Two years later, the United States exported eight F/A-18D combat aircraft to the country.

Russian Sub Patrols Sink to Zero in 2002

Russia did not send any ballistic submarine patrols out to sea in 2002 but restarted the patrols in 2003, according to the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), which monitors Russian fleet movements.

According to documents procured under the Freedom of Information Act by Joshua Handler and Hans Kristensen, consultants to the Natural Resources Defense Council, first reported in the July/August issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the number of patrols declined from 37 in 1991 to zero in 2002. Russian ballistic submarine patrols resumed in 2003, however, but an unnamed source from ONI said in a July 5 Washington Post article that only “a very small number” have been made so far.

The gradual deterioration of Russia’s ballistic nuclear submarine fleet due to financial constraints and the advanced age of the ships contributed to the absence of Russian patrols last year. Highlighting these problems, a decommissioned Russian nuclear submarine sank August 30 while being towed. Yet, despite these difficulties, Russia remains committed to extending the life of its ballistic submarine program. Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov announced July 25 that in 2006 the Russian navy would receive the Yuri Dolgoruky, the next-generation submarine currently under development. Although the hull was laid in 1996, the program’s financial difficulties postponed the boat’s completion from the original 2002 delivery date.

Russia hopes to launch two more submarines soon thereafter, Jane’s Defence Weekly reported August 13. Col. Gen. Alexei Moskovsky, Russian deputy defense minister, indicated that, with sufficient funding, the two additional boats will be in service by 2010. Moskovsky told the weekly that the three new submarines will carry Bulava ballistic missiles, which closely resemble the SS-27 Topol-M. Moskovsky warned, however, that “underfunding may result in postponing the deadlines by one-and-a-half to two years.”

Russia Acquires Soviet-Era Missiles from Ukraine

Ukraine has transferred Soviet-made SS-19 missiles to Russia, Interfax-Military news service reported July 25, but it is unclear exactly when the transfer occurred or how many missiles were involved. Each SS-19 missile can carry up to six nuclear warheads.

The Ukrainian government had approved the sale in October 2002. The missiles had remained in Ukraine after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. Experts estimate that Ukraine had possessed around 32 SS-19 missiles, but the governments refused to specify whether Ukraine transferred all of the missiles.

Previously, the United States and Ukraine had agreed to destroy the missiles under the Cooperative Threat Reduction program; it is unclear whether Russia will maintain or eventually dismantle the missiles. According to numbers reported under START I, Russia possessed 150 SS-19 missiles prior to the transfer of the Ukrainian missiles.

Ukraine has transferred Soviet-made SS-19 missiles to Russia, Interfax-Military news service reported July 25, but it is unclear exactly when the...

Liability Concerns Jeopardize Renewal of Nonproliferation Programs

Christine Kucia

Two U.S.-Russian nuclear security programs administered by the Department of Energy (DOE) could be terminated because U.S. officials refuse to continue them under existing liability agreements that are deemed inadequate.

DOE officials insist that the liability language in the charter of the Plutonium Disposition Scientific and Technical Cooperation and the Nuclear Cities Initiative agreements—both set to be renewed this year—must “include liability provisions meeting U.S. standards,” according to a July 22 DOE press release. The same statement cited Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham: “We hope that the Russian Federation will accept our broad proposal on liability in time to allow for the extension of the Nuclear Cities Initiative Agreement,” which is set to expire September 22. The plutonium cooperation agreement lapsed July 24.

Washington insists on negotiating comprehensive liability provisions for foreign projects carried out in Russia to prevent the U.S. government and its representatives from being sued for accidents or problems that arise during the facilities’ building or operation. DOE operates an extensive array of U.S.-Russian nonproliferation programs under a variety of liability agreements. The plutonium and Nuclear Cities agreements, originally inked in 1998, contain fewer liability protections than language offered in other programs.

Bryan Wilkes, spokesman for DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration, said August 20, “We’re confident the dispute is going to be resolved because the programs are important to both countries. In the short term, this [dispute] will have no effect. But in the long term, if it goes unresolved, it will have a negative impact on the programs.” Wilkes added that, until the liability matter is settled, DOE will not start any new projects in either program.

The Nuclear Cities Initiative provides U.S. assistance to Russia to shut down former weapons production sites that comprised the core of Russia’s nuclear weapons infrastructure during the Cold War and to channel the talents of former nuclear weapons scientists and engineers into non-nuclear or civilian projects. The plutonium initiative enables U.S. and Russian scientific collaboration to help Russia dispose of excess plutonium, and the program is a key component of current efforts to establish mixed-oxide fuel facilities in both countries to begin disposing of 34 metric tons of plutonium under a September 2000 agreement. (See ACT, March 2002.)

Administration officials have sent mixed signals about each program’s future. According to the July 22 DOE statement, Abraham told Russian Atomic Energy Minister Alexander Rumyantsev that, despite the legal dispute, the United States intends to continue the Nuclear Cities Initiative under a provision that would allow the existing projects to continue.

Yet, State Department spokeswoman Tara Rigler told Global Security Newswire July 29 that projects under the now-expired plutonium agreement have been put on hold pending the negotiation of the liability agreement. Wilkes, however, noted August 20 that some plutonium disposition projects might continue under the auspices of the 2000 Plutonium Management and Disposition agreement. “Things are still moving forward,” Wilkes said.

In a July 22 letter to President George W. Bush, Representatives Chet Edwards (D-TX), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Ike Skelton (D-MO), John Spratt Jr. (D-SC), and Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) called for extending the nuclear security programs while continuing negotiations on liability language. They said that allowing the agreements to lapse or expire would not only jeopardize nonproliferation work in Russia but related plutonium disposition efforts in the United States as well. “The current situation raises doubts about the administration’s commitment to rapidly and effectively addressing the well-known nuclear security and proliferation concerns with Russia,” the members added.

Meanwhile, even the 2000 Plutonium Management and Disposition agreement faces questions about liability protections. Russia and the United States initially deferred liability discussions related to construction work on a facility in Russia that will process excess plutonium into mixed-oxide fuel for use in nuclear power plants—helping Russia fulfill its commitment to dispose of excess weapons-grade plutonium. A government source familiar with the issue warned that the present struggle over adequate liability provisions is the precursor to liability negotiations for building these facilities. Talks will intensify this fall because construction must begin in 2004 in order to meet the agreement’s timeline of beginning plutonium disposition in 2007. According to the source, “Russia needs to take the political decision to run its own facilities without a loophole to sue the U.S. for building the facilities.”

Administration officials point to liability provisions contained in the 1992 Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) umbrella agreement with Russia as the appropriate template for all nuclear nonproliferation programs. The Russian Duma, however, has not agreed to the liability requirements outlined by the United States, which would govern a large portion of U.S. threat reduction activities in Russia, so the umbrella agreement is considered provisional by the governments. Other nonproliferation program agreements negotiated after the CTR umbrella agreement did not contain the same strong liability provisions outlined in the CTR program.

Despite the dispute, other U.S.-Russian threat reduction programs operated by the Energy Department are moving forward. The United States and Russia negotiated access arrangements for a U.S. project to help shut down the last three of Russia’s plutonium-producing reactors in the closed nuclear cities of Seversk and Zheleznogorsk, the Energy Department announced July 17. Under the program, fossil fuel facilities will be constructed to replace the reactors, which still provide electricity to Russian residents and businesses in the region. After the fossil fuel plants are brought online beginning in 2008, the two countries will shut down the plutonium reactors. (See ACT, April 2003.)


Two U.S.-Russian nuclear security programs administered by the Department of Energy (DOE) could be terminated because U.S. officials refuse to continue them under existing...

Russia Finishes Destroying Tanks


Fulfilling a commitment made a dozen years ago, Russia announced June 7 that it had completed the destruction of thousands of tanks moved east of the Ural Mountains in 1989 and 1990. The United States and its NATO allies confirmed and welcomed the Russian announcement.

In June 1991, Moscow pledged to destroy or convert to civilian equipment 6,000 tanks, 1,500 armored combat vehicles (ACVs), and 7,000 heavy artillery pieces to ease Western criticism over its repositioning of some 57,000 of these weapons east of the Urals. If Moscow had not moved the weapons, it would have had to destroy most of them under the terms of the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty then being negotiated with NATO. Although Russia’s relocation of the weapons did not violate any of its international commitments, NATO saw it as contrary to the spirit of the CFE talks.

The CFE Treaty aimed to balance the conventional armed forces of NATO and those of the Soviet Union and its allies in Europe. The treaty’s weapons limits applied only to arms in Europe, which was defined as ending at the Urals. Any weapons east of the Urals would not have been counted against the Soviet Union’s limits.

Originally, the Kremlin was supposed to finish its reduction activities before the end of 1995, but it failed to do so. Russia then agreed in 1996 to complete the task by 2000.

Yet, NATO and Russia recognized that completing the tank obligation by the 2000 deadline might not be possible. As a stopgap measure, the two sides agreed that Russia could temporarily meet its reduction goals by substituting up to 2,300 ACVs in lieu of tanks. This agreement, however, did not obviate Russia’s original requirement to make militarily unusable 6,000 total tanks but simply gave Moscow more time to do it—a task it finally accomplished this month.


The Post-Hussein Era: America, Russia,

Representatives Curt Weldon and Chet Edwards

The nations of the world are moving warily into the post-Saddam Hussein era. Bruised feelings, suspicions, and strained relations among old and new friends and allies abound. France, Germany, and Russia, which once saw little of common interest, now nurse a common grudge against what they see as America’s willingness to ignore their counsel. Healing all of these wounds will be important for America’s national interest, but none is more significant than restoring our increasingly close strategic relationship with Russia, for Russia is the only country that can make or break our war on terrorism.

Of paramount importance to the lives and safety of the American people are the massive stockpiles of nuclear weapons and materials and the expertise for building them that Russia and the other independent states inherited from the Soviet Union. The size of those inventories and that pool of scientific know-how, along with their dangerous vulnerability to theft or diversion, continue to pose dangers of immense proportions, dangers that we have not done enough to address.

A recent Department of Energy estimate put the amount of Russian weapons-usable nuclear materials at more than 1,500 tons.1 That is enough for more than 100,000 nuclear weapons.2 Just one weapon with an explosive power of 10 kilotons, somewhat smaller than the Hiroshima bomb, detonated at Grand Central Station in New York could kill about a half-million people and inflict about a trillion dollars of direct economic damage. The U.S. government considers that a real possibility; in October 2001, it was concerned that al Qaeda might have smuggled a 10-kiloton warhead into lower Manhattan. The fact that a Russian nuclear commander had recently reported that he could not account for a warhead that size ostensibly under his control was part of the reason for the concern.3

If a terrorist group setting off such a weapon were to claim the ability to detonate one or more additional bombs, the effect on the American people, our government, and our economy would be too horrific to assess.

It has been 12 years since Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) and then-Senator Sam Nunn (D-GA) alerted the nation to this kind of danger and successfully proposed bold, forward-looking legislation establishing threat-reduction programs in the states of the former Soviet Union. They saw the danger to the United States, and to the whole world, of the Soviet-era nuclear legacy that had fallen to Russia and the other states of the former Soviet Union.

The Need for More Threat Reduction

The Nunn-Lugar and related nonproliferation programs are beginning to account for and secure the nuclear stockpiles of the former Soviet Union while developing sustainable commercial employment for the tens of thousands of scientists and technicians who used to work in the development and production of weapons of mass destruction. The programs are aimed at exactly the right targets. As Nunn recently observed, “It becomes obvious from analyzing the terrorist path to a nuclear attack that the most effective, least expensive way to prevent nuclear terrorism is to secure nuclear weapons and materials at the source. Acquiring weapons and materials is the hardest step for the terrorists to take, and the easiest for us to stop.”4

What is distressing to note, looking back over the past decade, is that we have not moved with greater speed and determination to protect American lives from this great danger. These programs, despite being effective, are too small and have been operating at a pace that does not match the size and urgency of the problem. To cite just one example, working with Russia, we certainly by now should have completed “comprehensive upgrades” at all vulnerable nuclear sites in that country. These upgrades involving sophisticated security systems are along the lines of what we use here in the United States to protect our own stocks of weapons-grade materials. According to the Department of Energy’s fiscal year 2004 budget documents, even by October 2004, comprehensive upgrades will not have been completed at facilities containing enough material for more than 22,000 nuclear weapons. This is far too risky given that a recent CIA report faulted the security of Russian nuclear arsenal facilities, noting that “undetected smuggling has occurred.”5

There is little to be gained from pointing fingers. Neither the Clinton administration, the Bush administration, nor the Congress, under either Democratic or Republican leadership, has given these programs the priority they deserve.

It strains credulity that we are apparently comfortable with leaving such large quantities of bomb material so lightly protected, or essentially unprotected, in sites in the former Soviet Union for years and years while we keep our own under heavily guarded, highly sophisticated, electronically based security. There is no doubt that terrorists not only want nuclear weapons but that they are actively attempting to acquire them. A Harvard study commissioned by the Nuclear Threat Initiative recently reported that “[i]n October 2001, the commander of the force that guards Russia’s nuclear weapons reported that during that year, terrorist groups had twice carried out reconnaissance at Russian nuclear warhead storage sites—whose very locations are a state secret.”6 This report was confirmed by the official Russian government newspaper.7 In addition, there have been numerous other reports in the Russian press of terrorists reconnoitering nuclear warhead transport trains.8 Also, it has been reported that the 40 armed Chechens who seized hundreds of hostages at a Moscow theater in October 2002 had considered seizing a nuclear reactor with hundreds of kilograms of highly enriched uranium (HEU)—enough to build several nuclear weapons.9

As the readers of this publication are well aware, the bipartisan task force headed by former Senate Republican Leader Howard Baker and former Clinton administration White House counsel Lloyd Cutler concluded in January 2001 that an effort in the magnitude of $30 billion over eight to 10 years was necessary in order to deal with nuclear threat reduction and nonproliferation problems in Russia.10 We have not yet even approached that level and are currently devoting only about $1 billion a year to this problem.

Last year at the Group of Eight (G-8) summit in Kananaskis, Canada, the participants established a Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction and promised to “raise up to $20 billion” for the initiative over the next 10 years. That is still $10 billion shy of the Baker-Cutler recommendation and is spread over a much broader range of problems than preventing the proliferation of Russia’s nuclear weapons, materials, and know-how. It will address the spread of weapons of mass destruction on a global basis and include matters relating to nonproliferation, disarmament, counterterrorism, and nuclear safety and environmental issues. Thus, whether or how much the G-8 initiative will actually increase threat-reduction and nonproliferation efforts in Russia cannot be discerned at this point.

For example, the U.S. pledge of $10 billion essentially assumes a straight-lining of the U.S. programs at 6 percent less than the fiscal year 2002 level 11 and would be even less in real dollars after adjusting for inflation.

Another factor requiring increased U.S.-Russia nonproliferation efforts over the coming years is the fate of the thousands of Russian strategic warheads that will be removed from deployment under the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT). The already beleaguered Russian system of accounting, securing, and destroying nuclear weapons and materials will be further stressed by the downloading of these warheads. Ensuring that these warheads do not proliferate should be a key U.S. objective in the years to come.

Clearly, we in Congress need to be doing more to enhance and accelerate these programs. A leading observer has noted the unsatisfactory pace of the U.S. programs this way: “Continuing on the current course…could leave key objectives unmet at the end of this decade.”12 That plainly is unacceptable.

But resources are not the only problem. The United States and Russia still have not ironed out the problems of working together efficiently, including problems of access to sensitive sites in Russia where security upgrades are necessary and of the need for the United States to be assured that work that has been paid for has been completed. Other problems include the fact that there are dozens of U.S. programs operated by three cabinet departments and other agencies. Thus, problems in the coordination or synchronization of the programs continue to arise.13

The challenges are as urgent as they are clear, and they require two immediate responses. First is ensuring that U.S.-Russian relations are on a plane where these nuclear nonproliferation programs can move ahead more aggressively and the difficulties in carrying them out can be resolved. This clearly is an issue requiring the attention of Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin in their June 1 summit in St. Petersburg and in any subsequent talks between the leaders. Americans and Russians alike need the protection that these programs can provide, and they need that protection now. Many have recommended that these two leaders each designate a top-level official reporting directly to their respective president to lead and coordinate these programs.14 We agree. In both countries, these officials should each be charged with developing an integrated plan for their government’s part in these efforts, meeting with their counterpart, offering advice on the budgetary requirements for carrying out these plans, and alerting their president when problems requiring his intervention arise.

Urgent Next Steps

A strong congressional effort to take the Nunn-Lugar-type programs to a new level is necessary and is beginning to take shape. On April 10, we, together with a bipartisan group of 22 other members of Congress, introduced the Nuclear Security Initiative Act of 2003 to do just that.15 Many of these provisions have been included in the House version of the fiscal year 2004 defense authorization bill. (See ACT, June.) The Senate and the White House would be wise to endorse them as Congress hashes out the final House-Senate compromises on the defense bill.

Important next steps for Congress to address include: Enhance Security Upgrades and Expand Them to Research Reactors

We should accelerate the Department of Energy’s International Nuclear Materials Protection and Cooperation (MPC&A) program in order to quickly improve basic security measures at all nuclear weapons and materials storage facilities in the former Soviet Union. According to the Department of Energy’s own fiscal year 2004 budget documents, by October 2004, enough nuclear material to build 16,000 bombs will still be in Russian facilities lacking the most basic security protection, such as fences, strengthened doors and locks, and bricked-up or barred windows. These are the protections—the kind you would expect to find at a warehouse for storing home appliances in the United States—that can prevent ordinary burglars from breaking into buildings containing the makings of enormous tragedies in U.S. cities.

In addition, hundreds of facilities around the world, many of them too poor to provide basic security, have various quantities of plutonium or HEU.16 This situation poses a grave and immediate threat to our security, and we need a new approach to deal with it.

The recent success in Vinca, Yugoslavia, is illustrative. A research reactor facility there that had received HEU from the Soviet Union cooperated with an international team that returned the material to a secure site in Russia, where it was reduced to non-weapons-usable, low-enriched uranium (LEU). The United States provided $2 million to $3 million for this project, and making up for a gap in the U.S. government’s authority, a private nonprofit group, the Nuclear Threat Initiative, donated $5 million.17 But we cannot afford the several months of interagency negotiations and the enlistment of private help that are currently needed to cobble together each of the dozens of Vinca-like projects that need to be undertaken as quickly as possible around the world.

Our legislation provided for such an expedited effort by permitting expansion of the MPC&A program authority to countries outside the former Soviet Union. It also would allow the administration to offer incentives to convince managers to part with fissile material that they see as critical to a research reactor’s reason for existing. Thus, our broader program would include the authority to purchase vulnerable HEU and plutonium and transport it to the United States or elsewhere for secure storage or neutralization and the authority to offer targeted financial and other incentives to encourage facilities to release the material. Incentives might include assistance with managing nuclear waste, funding to convert a reactor to the use of LEU, and decommissioning reactors and related facilities. Where it might be practical for a country to retain the fissile material, our expanded MPC&A program could assist with security upgrades that are considered adequate and sustainable.

Acceleration of HEU Blend-Down Program

Under a 1993 U.S.-Russian HEU Purchase Agreement, the U.S. Enrichment Corporation (USEC), a corporation serving as the U.S. executive agent under the agreement, each year buys about 30 tons of Russian HEU that has been removed from dismantled nuclear weapons and blended down to LEU, which is not weapons usable. USEC then sells the LEU on the U.S. market to nuclear power companies. The amount of HEU blended down annually is geared not to U.S. or Russian security demands but to what the U.S. market will bear without causing prices to drop too far or pushing American producers out of business. The agreement covers 500 tons of HEU and will run through 2013.
There are at least another 600 tons of HEU in Russia, however, that must be dealt with. Thus, section 3157 of the Bob Stump National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2003 authorized a new program for blending down additional quantities of HEU in Russia that are not covered by the 1993 agreement. Our bill provides funds for expediting the expanded program of blending down HEU that is critically important to our security.

Fighting the Smuggling of Weapons of Mass Destruction and Related Materials

Another provision of the bill addresses the need to back up our efforts to secure nuclear weapons and materials with measures to combat smuggling of the weapons, materials, and technologies. Although terrorist organizations lack the capacity at this time to attack the United States with a ballistic missile, it is quite likely that a terrorist organization that gained control of a nuclear weapon or the material to build one could smuggle it into the United States across our northern or southern border or by boat. Only about four kilograms of plutonium or 20 kilograms of HEU is needed for a bomb.18

Several states of the former Soviet Union with stockpiles of nuclear materials, however, lack the legal and institutional frameworks to monitor and control exports effectively, as well as the infrastructure and personnel necessary to implement such controls. In many cases, these countries have borders that are thousands of miles long and national governments that often do not have the ability to monitor, patrol, or secure them. According to the latest estimate, only 45 percent of Russia’s customs checkpoints have operable radiation detectors and monitors.19 Some borders in the former Soviet Union are considered particularly sensitive, including points of entry into Iran on the Caspian Sea.

The same provision also recognizes the great challenge we face in monitoring the more than 20,000 shipping containers that enter the United States each day. New technology could help us determine if any vessel in a port contains nuclear material. If we placed such equipment in ports overseas, we could determine whether a vessel is free of nuclear materials before it departs for the United States rather than after it has entered a U.S. port.

Our legislation authorizes aid to the former Soviet states to improve their border controls, to track and intercept illicit transfers of weapons of mass destruction and the materials and technologies for building them, and to work with other countries to install in their ports devices to detect nuclear or radiological weapons or materials.

“Silk Road” Initiative

In addition to work in Russia to reduce the threat of weapons of mass destruction, more work needs to be done in the countries on Russia’s periphery to ensure that materials and weapons that terrorists might attempt to smuggle out of Russia are interdicted and to ensure that people with weapons of mass destruction expertise in states of the former Soviet Union other than Russia find gainful, peaceful employment. To this end, we want to establish a “Silk Road” Initiative (SRI). The SRI would provide assistance to develop sustainable employment opportunities for scientists, engineers, and technicians formerly employed in the production of weapons of mass destruction in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. These countries—new and struggling democracies that have been very helpful to the United States in the war against terrorism—would benefit considerably from this assistance, and U.S. national security would be enhanced.

Under the leadership of the secretary of energy, the SRI would incorporate the best practices under current and former Department of Energy “brain drain” programs with Russia and facilitate commercial partnerships between private entities in the United States and scientists, engineers, and technicians in the Silk Road countries. Our bill requires that, before fully implementing this new program, the secretary of energy carry out a pilot program with respect to one Silk Road state, preferably Georgia.

Chemical, Biological Weapons Plan

In addition to addressing the threat posed by nuclear weapons, the United States needs to improve its efforts to reduce the threat posed by biological and chemical weapons. Our legislation would address two of the most important steps that could be taken on this front: the creation of a comprehensive plan for biological and chemical weapons nonproliferation programs in the states of the former Soviet Union and the designation of a senior official to coordinate those programs. For too long, these programs have operated without a strategic vision and strong leadership. The principal objectives of this proposal are to focus the very top levels of government on the issue; to fill the need for one high-level official to take responsibility for overseeing and coordinating these programs; and to establish priorities, identify gaps and overlaps, and take advantage of synergies.

Inventory Nuclear Weapons

During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union produced more than a thousand metric tons of weapons-grade nuclear material, enough to build approximately 175,000 nuclear warheads.20 In 1986, at the height of the U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons buildup, the two countries possessed almost 64,000 nuclear warheads.21 Today, the United States and Russia possess more than 95 percent of the world’s assembled nuclear weapons and weapons-grade material.

Unfortunately, the Russian nuclear establishment is unable to account fully for its inventory of weapons-grade material and nuclear weapons. With its closed society, complete with closed and isolated nuclear cities, closed borders, and an intrusive KGB, the Soviet Union never saw the need for the extensive record keeping and physical security measures the United States adopted for nuclear installations during and since the Cold War. This appears to have been especially true for weapons-grade nuclear material and maybe even for portable “tactical” nuclear warheads.22 Now that we are partners with a newly democratic Russia, we need to do all we can to correct that situation in order to help us work together to secure weapons and materials.

For these reasons, the United States must establish a comprehensive inventory of U.S. and Russian nuclear warheads and materials, accompanied by exchanges of the inventory information. Our legislation requires that particular attention be paid to tactical warheads and warheads that are no longer operationally deployed. Such inventories and exchanges, which would be the first steps in a long process, would accelerate the process of establishing fissile material and warhead inventories in which both sides have confidence. Additional steps would include ongoing declarations, inspections to check the accuracy and completeness of the declarations, and measures to verify the dismantling or safe storage of warheads and the elimination of warhead components.

Other provisions included in our proposal further strengthen programs to provide former weapons of mass destruction scientists and engineers with sustainable commercial employment, accelerate programs for closing nuclear weapons production facilities in Russia, enhance the program for improving security at facilities in Russia containing “dirty bomb” radiological materials, and establish a formal Duma-Congress nuclear threat reduction working group.

Preventing terrorists and hostile states from acquiring nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction is the central requirement of the U.S. national security agenda. As President Bush has stated, “The gravest danger our Nation faces lies at the crossroads of radicalism and technology. Our enemies have openly declared that they are seeking weapons of mass destruction, and evidence indicates that they are doing so with determination. The United States will not allow these efforts to succeed…. We cannot defend America and our friends by hoping for the best…. History will judge harshly those who saw this coming danger but failed to act.”23 By taking the steps outlined above, the leadership of the United States will be acting to fulfill its primary duty—protecting the security of the American people.


1. March 6, 2003, letter from the Associate Administrator for Management and Administration of the National Nuclear Security Administration, Department of Energy, reprinted in the General Accounting Office report, “Weapons of Mass Destruction: Additional Russian Cooperation Needed to Facilitate U.S. Efforts to Improve Security at Russian Sites,” GAO-03-482 (March 2003), p. 80 (hereinafter GAO report).

2. This figure is based on the conservative assumption that all of this material is highly enriched uranium, requiring about 20 kilograms (44 pounds) for a nuclear weapon, although it contains much plutonium, of which only about 4 kilograms (about 9 pounds) is needed. See Matthew Bunn, Anthony Wier, and John P. Holdren, “Controlling Nuclear Warheads and Materials: A Report Card and Action Plan,” (Project on Managing the Atom, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University 2003), p. 13, n. 9 and accompanying text, available at http://www.nti.org/e_research/cnwm/index.asp (hereinafter NTI study).

3. Massimo Calabresi and Romesh Ratnesar, “Can We Stop the Next Attack?” Time, March 3, 2002.
4. Sam Nunn, “Keynote Address,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace 2002 Non-Proliferation Conference, November 14, 2002, available at http://www.nti.org/c_press/speech_samnunn_1114.pdf.

5. Central Intelligence Agency, “Annual Report to Congress on the Safety and Security of Russian Nuclear Facilities and Military Forces,” (February 2002), available at http://www.cia.gov/nic/pubs/other_products/icarussiansecurity.htm.

6. NTI study, p. 14.

7. Ibid.

8. Ibid.

9. Ibid.

10. “A Report Card on the Department of Energy’s Nonproliferation Programs with Russia,” Task Force of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board (January 2001).

11. The fiscal year 2002 level totaled $1.065 billion. William Hoehn, “Observations on the President’s Fiscal Year 2004 Budget Request for Nonproliferation Programs and the Former Soviet Union,” (Russian American Nuclear Security Advisory Council, February 11, 2003), available at http://www.ransac.org/new-web-site/index.html.

12. Text of April 24, 2003, letter from the Russian-American Nuclear Security Advisory Council to the U.S. Congress on the future of weapons of mass destruction threat reduction, available at http://www.ransac.org/new-web-site/index.html.

13. NTI study; GAO report, p. 43, (concluding that the Departments of Defense and Energy need “an integrated plan” for their related programs for helping secure Russia’s nuclear warheads).

14. NTI study, pp. 122-24.

15. In addition, another two cosponsors subsequently signed on.

16. NTI study, p. 142.

17. Department of State, Fact Sheet, August 23, 2002.

18. NTI study.

19. U.S.-Russian Legislative Working Group on Nonproliferation, “Statement on the Need to Expand Nonproliferation Export Control Assistance to Russia,” adopted January 28, 2003.

20. Harold Feiveson and Steve Fetter, “Verifying Deep Reductions in Nuclear Forces,” in Harold Feiveson, ed., The Nuclear Turning Point: A Blueprint for Deep Cuts and De-alerting of Nuclear Weapons (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 1999), p. 221.

21. Natural Resources Defense Council Nuclear Notebook, “Global Nuclear Stockpiles, 1945–2002,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 58, no. 6, (Nov./Dec. 2002), pp. 103–104.

22. John D. Steinbruner, Principles of Global Security (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 2000), pp. 73-80.

23. The White House, “The National Security Strategy of the United States of America,” September 2002.

Curt Weldon (R-PA) is a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee. Chet Edwards (D-TX) is a member of the House Appropriations Committee.


Russia Destroys 1 Percent of CW Stockpile

Russia finished destroying 1 percent of its most dangerous chemical weapons April 26, according to Russia’s foreign ministry and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The event marked the first milestone of the country’s commitment under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) to destroy its stockpile. Russia, however, reached the road mark three years after its original deadline.

Under the 1997 treaty, Russia committed to destroy 1 percent of its Category 1—the most dangerous—chemical weapons within three years of the agreement’s entry into force. In October 2002, CWC member states granted Russia an extension on this deadline, as well as on its 20 percent destruction deadline. Destruction of all Russian chemical weapons was slated initially for 2007, but Moscow has requested that the CWC push back the final deadline to 2012. (See ACT, November 2002.)

Russia reached the 1 percent mark by destroying 400 tonnes of mustard gas at the Gorny facility in southern Russia. Sergei Kiriyenko, chairman of Russia’s Chemical Disarmament Commission, noted in remarks commemorating the event that the mustard gas destruction line would be temporarily shut down for maintenance, Interfax reported April 26. The line has now been halted, but mustard gas disposal will restart later this year.

Meanwhile, Russia is preparing to destroy lewisite, another blister agent stored at Gorny. According to a May 12 ITAR-TASS article, testing on the lewisite line commenced in mid-May with small amounts of the chemical in preparation for full-scale destruction, set to begin in June.

Russia plans to build two other facilities to help destroy Russia’s complete chemical weapons holdings, estimated at about 40,000 tonnes—the world’s largest stockpile.


NATO-Russia TMD Cooperation In New Phase

The 19-member NATO alliance and Russia will begin trading technical information on their various systems to counter short- and medium-range ballistic missiles to see if the defenses could possibly work together or operate side by side in battle. NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson announced the new cooperation at a May 13 meeting in Moscow.

This new “interoperability” study is expected to take months, not years, and will cost approximately one to two million dollars, according to a NATO spokesperson. The objective is not for NATO and Russia to build a joint system, but to assess how their separate systems might function together.

A NATO-Russia Council ad hoc working group on theater missile defenses (TMD) will conduct the study. TMD systems do not include defenses against long-range ballistic missiles. Created in June 2002, the group recently completed a compendium of approximately 250 common terms for air and missile defenses in English, French, and Russian.

Lord Robertson expressed optimism about the new study, predicting that it would be “enormously productive in the future.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin first proposed the creation of a European TMD system in mid-2000. Russia later presented a vague proposal on the subject to NATO in February 2001. Some commentators interpreted Moscow’s efforts as an attempt to undercut the U.S. push to win acceptance of its strategic missile defense plans.

Bush, Putin Mending Ties, Sign SORT

Wade Boese

En route to a June 1-3 Group of Eight summit in Evian, France, President George W. Bush traveled to St. Petersburg to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The meeting marked the first encounter between the two leaders since they split over how to disarm Iraq, chilling the warming relationship both had strived to forge.

Bush and Putin were expected to exchange views on Iraq, Iran, North Korea, and the war on terrorism. The UN Security Council’s May 22 vote to lift sanctions on Iraq diminished one potentially nettlesome issue.

Bush’s visit was to be crowned with an exchange of instruments of ratification for the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT), which the Russian Duma approved May 14, during a preparatory visit by Secretary of State Colin Powell. The Federation Council, the upper chamber of Russia’s parliament, passed the treaty May 28, clearing the way for the presidents to bring the treaty into force. The U.S. Senate unanimously endorsed the ratification of the agreement March 6. (See ACT, April 2003.)

Missile defense has also emerged as a possible topic at the meeting. Over the past several months, Russian officials and press reports have indicated that Moscow would like some type of political agreement or joint declaration on missile defense, and Russia said several months ago that it had sent a draft text to Washington. In a May 14 interview, a State Department official said that Moscow appears to want an umbrella agreement to permit U.S. and Russian companies to work together on missile defense projects.

Russia’s interest in missile defense cooperation remains largely confined to defenses against short- and medium-range ballistic missiles. Moscow continues to express concern about the U.S. plan to build a multilayered defense against long-range ballistic missiles and strongly opposes the possibility of U.S. space-based defenses.

The United States has publicly disclosed plans to put three to five armed satellites in space by as early as 2008 to test whether such a defense is feasible. Russia has joined China in pressing for a treaty to be negotiated at the UN Conference on Disarmament barring any type of weapon from being placed in space.



En route to a June 1-3 Group of Eight summit in Evian, France, President George W. Bush traveled to St. Petersburg to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin...


Subscribe to RSS - Russia