Nuclear Weapons in Russia: Safety, Security, and Control Issues

CRS Report for Congress
Nuclear Weapons in Russia:
Safety, Security, and Control Issues
January 21, 2004
Amy F. Woolf
Specialist in National Defense
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division

Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress

Nuclear Weapons in Russia:
Safety, Security, and Control Issues
When the Soviet Union collapsed in late 1991, it reportedly possessed more than
27,000 nuclear weapons, and these weapons were deployed on the territories of
several of the former Soviet republics. All of the nuclear warheads have now been
moved to Russia, but Russia still has around 5,500 strategic nuclear weapons and
perhaps as many as 12,000 warheads for nonstrategic nuclear weapons.
Many analysts in the United States and Russia have expressed concerns about
the safety, security, and control over these weapons. Some of these concerns focus
on Russia’s nuclear command and control structure. Financial constraints have
slowed the modernization and replacement of many aging satellites and
communications links, raising the possibility that Russia might not be able to identify
a potential attack or communicate with troops in the field if an attack were underway.
Some fear that the misinterpretation of an ambiguous event might lead to the launch
of nuclear weapons. Some also expressed concern that the year 2000 computer bug
could affect Russia’s command and control system, but it did not.
Some concerns are also focused on the safety and security of nuclear warheads
in storage facilities in Russia. Press reports and statements by Russian officials about
possible missing warheads have added to these concerns. However, General Eugene
Habiger, former Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Strategic Command, stated that he
had no major concerns about security at Russian nuclear storage facilities after he
visited several storage sites in Oct. 1997 and June 1998.
The United States and Russia are cooperating in many fora to improve the
safety, security, and control over Russia’s nuclear weapons and materials. Through
the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Program, the U.S. Department
of Defense has provided assistance worth nearly $2 billion to help Russia, Ukraine,
Kazakhstan, and Belarus safely transport and store weapons and eliminate launchers
under the START Treaties. The Department of Energy’s Materials Protection,
Control and Accounting Program is helping Russia and other former Soviet republics
secure nuclear materials at research and other facilities in the former Soviet Union.
The nations have also held bilateral meetings to identify ways in which they might
cooperate to improve security and resolve concerns.
This report will not be updated. For current information on U.S. and Russian
efforts to address concerns about the safety and security of Russian nuclear weapons
and materials see CRS Report RL31957, Nonproliferation and Threat Reduction
Assistance: U.S. Programs in the Former Soviet Union.

In troduction ......................................................1
Sources of Concern................................................1
Location of Nuclear Weapons in the Former Soviet Union..............1
Concerns about Command, Control, Safety, and Security...............3
Russia’s Nuclear Command and Control System.................3
Safety and Security of Stored Nuclear Warheads.................4
Former Soviet Nuclear Facilities and Materials......................5
Cooperative Programs to Address Concerns.............................7
DOD’s Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Program ...............7
State Department Programs .....................................8
Department of Energy Programs ..................................9
Agreement on the Disposition of Weapons-grade Plutonium.......10
Bilateral Meetings............................................10
The U.S.-Russian Commission on Economic and
Technological Cooperation (The Gore-Chernomyrdin
Commission) ........................................11
The Strategic Stability Working Group (SSWG)................11
Sharing Early Warning Data....................................11
List of Tables
Table 1. Strategic Nuclear Weapons in the Non-Russian Republics..........3

Nuclear Weapons in Russia:
Safety, Security, and Control Issues
After the 1991 demise of the Soviet Union, many analysts grew concerned that
nuclear weapons might be lost or stolen, or that some might be launched by accident
or without authorization by responsible officials. Many of these weapons were
located outside Russia, but have since been returned to storage areas in Russia. The
United States has offered, through efforts such as the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat
Reduction Program, to enhance safety and security at nuclear facilities in Russia.
Concerns about the long-term effects of economic hardship and the increasing age
of Soviet-era systems continue to prompt questions about the security of Russia’s
nuclear weapons and materials.
This report provides background information on the location of nuclear weapons
at the time of the demise of the Soviet Union and their subsequent relocation to
storage and deployment areas in Russia. It also provides a description of the safety,
security, and control issues raised in 1991 and in more recent years. It includes a
brief listing of the cooperative programs and assistance the United States has
provided to Russia and the other former Soviet states in an effort to address concerns1
about the safety and security of nuclear weapons and materials.
Sources of Concern
Location of Nuclear Weapons in the Former Soviet Union
When the Soviet Union collapsed in late 1991, it possessed, according to most
estimates, more than 27,000 nuclear weapons. These included more than 11,000
strategic nuclear weapons — warheads on land-based intercontinental ballistic
missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and in bombers
with the range needed to attack the continental United States — and over 15,000
warheads for nonstrategic tactical nuclear weapons (such as artillery shells,
short-range missiles, nuclear air-defense and ballistic missile defense interceptors,
nuclear torpedoes and sea-launched cruise missiles, and nuclear weapons for

1 For a more detailed description of many of these programs, see U.S. Library of Congress,
Congressional Research Service. Nonproliferation and Threat Reduction Assistance: U.S.
Programs in the Former Soviet Union. CRS Report RL31957, by Amy F. Woolf.

shorter-range aircraft).2 By early 2003, after fully implementing the START I Treaty,
Russia retained around 5,500 warheads on its strategic nuclear weapons.3 According
to some reports, Russia also still has between 7,000 and 12,000 warheads for
nonstrategic nuclear weapons.4
In 1991, more than 80% of Soviet strategic nuclear weapons, including all
ballistic missile submarines, were deployed at bases in Russia. The remaining
strategic nuclear weapons were deployed in Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan. By
the end of 1996, these states had all returned their nuclear warheads to Russia and
begun to eliminate the launchers for strategic nuclear weapons under the terms of the
START I Treaty. By the end of 1998, only Ukraine still had Soviet-era strategic
missiles in silos on its territory, and it continued its efforts to eliminate these missiles
and their silos. The last SS-19 ICBM was eliminated at the end of February 1999,
and all SS-24 silos were eliminated by October, 2001. After lengthy and
unsuccessful negotiations with Russia, Ukraine began to dismantle the Soviet-era
bombers on its territory. However, in August 1999, Ukraine and Russia announced
that Russia would take 8 of these aircraft as partial payment for Ukraine’s debt for
natural gas deliveries from Russia. In October 1999, the two nations completed the
details of the transaction and noted that Russia would buy 11 of the strategic bombers
from Ukraine. Table 1, below, depicts the number of nuclear weapons deployed in
these states in late 1991 and their status today.
Many of the Soviet Union’s tactical nuclear weapons were also stationed outside
Russia, in Eastern Europe or in republics that were closer to prospective theaters of
operation. The weapons in Eastern Europe had reportedly been returned to Russia
by 1989. In late 1991, the majority of weapons outside Russia reportedly were in
Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan, with perhaps less than 5% in Georgia and the
Central Asian states (Kirghizia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.)
According to officials in Russia and these other states, all the weapons had been
moved to storage areas in Russia by the end of 1992.
The command and control system for all Soviet strategic and tactical nuclear
weapons was centered in Moscow. As the Soviet Union dissolved in December
1991, Russian President Boris Yeltsin replaced Soviet President Gorbachev at the top
of the command authority, but the rest of the system remained the same.

2 Comparison of U.S. and Russian Nuclear Cuts. Arms Control Association Fact Sheet.
March 6, 1992.
3 U.S. Department of State. START Aggregate Numbers of Strategic Offensive Arms. Fact
Sheet. Bureau of Arms Control. April 1, 2003.
4 For a discussion of the range of estimates for Russian nonstrategic nuclear weapons see,
Safranchuk, Ivan. Tactical Nuclear Weapons in the Modern World: A Russian Perspective
in Alexander, Brian and Alistair Millar, editors. Tactical Nuclear Weapons. Brassey’s Inc.

2003. p. 58.

Table 1. Strategic Nuclear Weapons in the Non-Russian
StateStrategic Nuclear Weaponsin 1991Strategic Nuclear WeaponsToday
Belarus81 SS-25 single-warheadAll SS-25 single-warhead
mobile ICBMsmobile ICBMs, with warheads
and launchers, removed in
Nov. 1996.
Kazakhstan104 SS-18 10-warhead silo-All SS-18s removed from silos
based ICBMs (1,040 war-and silos destroyed; all
heads)warheads, bombers and cruise

40 Bear H bombersmissiles returned to Russia.

Ukraine130 SS-19 6-warhead silo-All SS-19 silos and SS-24 silos
based ICBMshave been destroyed. Ukraine
46 SS-24 10-warhead silo-has completed dismantling of
based ICBMsbombers, after transferring 11
About 40 strategic bombersto Russia, and transferred or
More than 500 air-launcheddismantled all cruise missiles.
cruise missiles
Source: U.S. Department of Defense.
Concerns about Command, Control, Safety, and Security
Many in the United States and Russia have voiced concerns about safety,
security, and control over nuclear weapons in Russia. These concerns center on three
general areas — concerns about weaknesses in Russia’s command and control
system; concerns about the possible loss of nuclear warheads due to lax security or
accounting at nuclear weapons facilities; and concerns about the loss or theft of
nuclear materials from the former Soviet Union’s nuclear weapons facilities.
Russia’s Nuclear Command and Control System. Russia’s nuclear
command and control system consists, generally speaking, of early warning satellites
and sensors that would warn of an imminent attack on Russian territory; the senior
political and military leaders who would assess the nature of the attack and, if
necessary, authorize a response using Russia’s nuclear weapons; and the
communications links that these commanders would use to consult with each other
and to transmit messages authorizing the use of nuclear weapons to commanders in
the field. These messages would contain the authorizing and enabling codes needed
to “unlock” the permissive action links (PALs) and other technologies used to make
sure that nuclear weapons could not be armed and launched without authorization
from the central command authority.5
Analysts in the United States and Russia have pointed to the degradation of
Russia’s early warning network of satellites and radars to note that Russia may

5 For a more detailed description of this command and control system, see Russia’s
Nuclear Forces: Doctrine and Force Structure Issues, CRS Report 97-586, by Amy
F. Woolf.

eventually lack the ability to monitor and react to strategic threats to its own territory.
In early 1997, Russia’s Defense Minister Rodionov stated that he feared a loss of
control over Russian strategic nuclear forces in the future if additional funding were
not available to maintain and modernize the communications links in the nuclear
command and control structure. Furthermore, in June and July 1998, both of
Russia’s geostationary early warning satellites failed; leaving Russia to rely on older
satellites and ground radar stations for early warning of ballistic missile attacks.
These systems could not provide continuous coverage of U.S. missile launch sites.
Furthermore, at the end of August, 1998, Latvia shut down the Skrunda radar, which
had provided Russia with early warning of ballistic missile attacks. Russia has since
replaced some of these assets, but concerns remain about potential gaps in coverage.
The U.S. Defense Department has downplayed concerns about a loss of control
over Russia’s nuclear weapons, noting that the central command structure remains
in place. But some analysts fear that Russia could respond to the degradation of the
system by disseminating codes needed to launch nuclear weapons to commanders in
the field to make sure that these commanders could launch missiles in a conflict.
This might increase the possibility of an accidental or unauthorized use of these
In addition, according to Russian press reports, strategic rocket forces personnel
have faced serious financial hardship over the years. Some analysts fear that
inadequate funding for training and maintenance, along with low morale, could lead
to an eventual breakdown of authority. Although problems with the troops probably
would not lead to the unauthorized use of nuclear weapons, they could make it
difficult for Russia to remain confident in the reliability and effectiveness of its
nuclear deterrent. The National Intelligence Council reported, in February 2002, that
these concerns had eased somewhat in recent years, as the Russian economy had
improved and wages were restored. Russia has also implemented several programs
that screen troops responsible for nuclear weapons for psychological, drug, and
alcohol problems.
Safety and Security of Stored Nuclear Warheads. In the early 1990s,
Russia withdrew most nonstrategic nuclear weapons from deployment and placed
them in secure storage areas. Russia has consolidated these weapons, reducing from
several hundred to, perhaps, less than one hundred storage facilities. Russian
officials also contend that they have begun to dismantle these warheads at a rate of
around 2,000 per year. The United States does not have independent confirmation
of this number, and some analysts suspect that Russia could still have 12,000
warheads for nonstrategic nuclear weapons in its storage facilities. Many in the
United States remain concerned about the level of security at these facilities and
some fear that, as a result of poor security and inadequate record-keeping, Russia
may not be able to keep track of all its warheads.
In September 1997, former Russian Security Council head and national security
advisor Alexander Lebed alleged that Russian authorities could not locate 100 out of
250 small portable nuclear demolition munitions. The Russian Defense Ministry
responded by noting that “the Russian system of nuclear weapons safety keeps
nuclear weapons under full control and makes any unauthorized transport of them
impossible.” It also stressed that all nuclear weapons had been withdrawn to Russia

from the former Soviet republics. Other Russian observers also discounted Lebed’s
allegations. In early October 1997, Lebed appeared to withdraw his allegation,
stating that he had investigated the matter and had found no evidence of missing
nuclear weapons. Nevertheless, the debate in Russia continued, with some alleging
that Russia never had such small munitions and others confirming that the munitions
existed but denying that any are unaccounted for. The White House stressed that the
United States had “no credible information that any [Russian] nuclear weapon ... has
ever been available on the black market.”
In late 1997, George Tenet, the Director of Central Intelligence indicated that
the United States remained concerned about the possible loss or theft of nuclear
weapons and materials in Russia due to declining social and economic conditions.
He did not, however, offer any evidence that such losses had already occurred. But
conditions continued to deteriorate, and some wages went unpaid for several months
during the financial crisis that began in mid-1998. As a result, many analysts have
continued to express concerns about the “human factor” and the possibility that low
morale and poor living conditions may combine to weaken security and controls over
nuclear weapons.
General Eugene Habiger, the former Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Strategic
Command, visited nuclear weapons storage facilities in Russia to observe safety and
security procedures on two occasions, in October 1997 and June 1998. He stated that
he was impressed with what he saw, although he acknowledged the tour only focused
on strategic nuclear weapons and provided no information about security procedures
at storage facilities for nonstrategic nuclear weapons. He also noted that Russia
lacked many high-tech devices the United States used to maintain security at its
nuclear bases and seemed to rely more heavily on added manpower. But he stated
that he did not have any serious concerns about the security of Russia’s nuclear
Some in Congress have also expressed concern about Russia’s stockpile of
nonstrategic nuclear weapons. The Senate added an amendment to the FY1999
Defense Authorization Act (P.L. 105-261) and the FY2000 Defense Authorization
Bill (S. 1059) calling on the President to press Russia to reduce these weapons in
accordance with its pledges from 1991 and 1992. The amendment also required that
the Secretary of Defense submit a report detailing the numbers, types, strategic
implications, and proliferation risks associated with Russia’s nonstrategic nuclear
weapons. A request for this report remained in the House and Senate versions of the
FY2001 Defense Authorization Bill.
After the terrorist attacks in Washington and New York in September 2001,
Russian officials reportedly increased security at nuclear weapons facilities. They
also denied, on several occasions, that any Russian nuclear weapons were missing.
They insisted that terrorists had not gained access to Russia’s nuclear arsenal.
Former Soviet Nuclear Facilities and Materials
Concerns about the loss or theft of nuclear materials from Russia have grown
since the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, although
more because of growing concerns about the demand for those materials than new

concerns about their security in Russia. For example, some analysts and government
officials have noted that Osama bin Laden may have sought to acquire nuclear
materials, possibly to construct a nuclear explosive device, but, more likely, to
construct a “dirty bomb.” With this type of weapon, nuclear waste or other
radioactive materials would be combined with conventional explosives and dispersed
over a wide area.
Over the years, there have been numerous reports of nuclear materials from
facilities in the former Soviet Union appearing on the black market in Europe. In
most cases, the materials lacked the purity to be used to manufacture nuclear
weapons. However, in several of the reported cases, the materials could have been
useful to a nation seeking to develop nuclear weapons. In May 1999, the National
Research Council, an arm of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, issued a report
stating that security at Russia’s nuclear materials facilities was worse than previously
reported.6 The report argued for sustained cooperation between the United States and
Russia to improve security and prevent the diversion of these materials. Officials
from the Russian Atomic Energy Ministry disputed these reports and argued that
some safeguards are Russian facilities were more stringent than those at U.S.
facilities. The National Intelligence Council also highlighted the risks of theft or
diversion from facilities housing nuclear materials in its report to Congress in
February 2002.7
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that there may be enough
weapons-usable nuclear materials to produce 40,000 nuclear weapons at facilities in
8 countries that were once a part of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union secured
most of these facilities by placing them in closed cities or by using gates and armed
guards. But, according to DOE, budget cuts and political upheavals have eroded this
system. Many facilities lacked fences, monitors, alarms, and comprehensive
accounting systems to keep track of materials. Reports indicate that even those
facilities with security and monitoring systems often disconnected them to save
money on electric bills and to reduce false alarms. They also have been unable to pay
the guards and officers charged with maintaining security at the facilities.
Deterioration of economic conditions and the decline in military spending
displaced many scientists and engineers who worked in Soviet nuclear programs.
Although reports of scientists moving to other countries have waned, the economic
problems continue. For example, on July 23, 1998, several thousand staff members
at Arzamas-16, one of Russia’s premier nuclear research facilities, stopped work
during a three-hour strike. They sought back payment for wages and budget
allocations for 1997 and a pay increase for 1998. Nuclear workers from several of
the closed cities participated in a strike in mid-September 1998, with many traveling
to Moscow for protests at the Atomic Ministry (MINATOM).

6 Protecting Nuclear Weapons Material in Russia. Office of International Affairs, National
Research Council. Washington, D.C. 1999.
7 National Intelligence Council. Annual Report to Congress on the Safety and Security of
Russian Nuclear Facilities and Military Forces. Washington, D.C. February 2002.

Cooperative Programs to Address Concerns
The United States and the former Soviet states have cooperated in many ways
over the years to address the concerns described above. The United States provides
nearly $1 billion per year in assistance, through programs in the State Department,
Energy Department, and Defense Department, to help the former Soviet states secure
and eliminate nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons, to help secure and
eliminate the materials used in these weapons, and to help provide alternative
employment for the scientists and engineers who had been a part of the Soviet
Union’s weapons complex. These programs, which have provided nearly $7 billion
in funding in the past 12 years, are designed to reduce the risk that weapons,
materials, or scientists from the former Soviet Union might provide useful to other
nations seeking their own weapons of mass destruction. They have met with many
challenges over the years, but most analysts agree that these cooperative efforts have
helped reduce potential threats from former Soviet weapons of mass destruction. The8
following section briefly describes some of these programs.
DOD’s Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Program
In November 1991, Congress allocated $400 million in Department of Defense
funds to help the former Soviet republics secure their nuclear weapons. The funds
were to provide Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan assistance in 1) the
transportation, storage, safeguarding and destruction of nuclear, chemical and
biological weapons and the dismantlement of missiles and launchers; 2) the
prevention of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; and, 3) the prevention
of diversion of weapons-related scientific expertise. Although some Members have
questioned the benefits and administration CTR Program, Congress has consistently
supported its central objectives, allocating between $300 and $475 million each year
since the program’s inception.
During its first decade, the CTR program allocated most of its funds to projects
that were designed to help Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan eliminate
strategic offensive nuclear weapons limited by the START Treaty. It has also helped
improve the safety and security of nuclear warheads in transit and in storage. The
program has also provided funding to help Russia build a facility to dispose of its
chemical weapons; this project has proven far more controversial in Congress than
projects aimed at the elimination of strategic offensive nuclear weapons. For
example, Congress denied funding for this project in FY2000 and FY2001.
The Bush Administration conducted a wide-ranging review of U.S. threat
reduction and nonproliferation programs in Russia during its first year in office.
Many analysts expected this review to lead to reductions in funding and the
elimination of some projects. The Administration, however, concluded that the
programs did serve U.S. national security interests; it identified several efforts that
would receive added funding. At the same, time, though, the Administration altered

8 A more detailed description and history is available in CRS Report RL31957,
Nonproliferation and Threat Reduction Assistance: U.S. Programs in the Former Soviet

the stated objectives of the program. Past legislation had stated that the CTR
program should provide Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan assistance in the
transportation, storage, safeguarding and destruction of nuclear, chemical and
biological weapons and the dismantlement of missiles and launchers, the prevention
of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; and the prevention of diversion
of weapons-related scientific expertise. The program’s new objectives are to
dismantle weapons of mass destruction and their associated infrastructure in the
former Soviet Union; consolidate and secure weapons of mass destruction and related
technologies and materials; increase transparency and encourage higher standards of
conduct, and support defense and military cooperation with the objective of
preventing proliferation. Although these new objectives may not alter CTR priorities
in the near-term, the potential exists for significant changes in the future. In
particular, funding may shift away from the transportation, storage, and elimination
of nuclear weapons towards efforts to secure and eliminate chemical and biological
Furthermore, the new emphasis on encouraging “higher standards of conduct”
confirms that Administration’s added interest in conditioning U.S. assistance on
policies and activities pursued by the recipient nations. This focus was evident in
Bush Administration policies in early 2002 when the Administration stated that it
would not certify that Russia was committed to its arms control obligations under the
Chemical Weapons and Biological Weapons Conventions. The law states that this
certification is necessary for a recipient nation to receive assistance under the CTR
program or the State Department nonproliferation programs. The Administration
indicated that Russia had not cooperated fully with the United States in sharing
information relevant to the implementation of these treaties. It then asked Congress
to waive the requirement for the certification, so that the United States could
emphasize its concern with Russian compliance without interrupting funding for the
CTR program. Some observers criticized the Administration’s certification policy,
noting that even the Administration agrees that these programs serve U.S. security
interests, and that their suspension could undermine U.S. nonproliferation policy.
State Department Programs
The State Department funds several nonproliferation programs in Russia and the
other former Soviet states. Several of these are designed to help with border and
export controls, to reduce the risk that nuclear materials might be smuggled out of
the former Soviet territory. The State Department also administers the International
Science and Technology Center in Moscow and the Science and Technology Center
in Ukraine. These centers are designed to provide research and peaceful employment
opportunities for nuclear scientists and engineers. The Centers began operations in
1992 and have, thus far, funded around 450 projects at a cost of $145 million. More
than 17,000 scientists and engineers have participated in ISTC projects. Many
continue to work at their primary jobs in Russia’s research facilities. But, because
most have not received their full salaries at their primary jobs, the grants from the
ISTC permit them to support their families without contemplating selling their
knowledge to nations seeking nuclear weapons. The Bush Administration has
recommended expanding the science centers, in part due to concerns about the
potential risk that biological weapons scientists might be lured to programs in other
nations. Its budget for FY2003 contained $52 million for a program that combines

the Science Centers and the State Department’s program for redirecting biological
weapons scientists in the former Soviet Union.
Department of Energy Programs
Although the Nunn-Lugar CTR program, in its early years, focused on securing
nuclear weapons, it did include some funding for materials control and protection.
But government-to-government negotiations with Russia and the other republics
proceeded slowly, so projects at facilities with these materials did not begin until

1994. In a parallel effort that sought to reduce these delays, experts from the U.S.

nuclear laboratories also began, in 1994, less formal contacts with their counterparts
in Russia to identify and solve safety and security problems at Russian facilities.
Together, the government-to-government and lab-to-lab projects constitute the
Material Protection, Control and Accounting (MPC&A) program, which is funded
through the U.S. Department of Energy.
The MPC&A program began with less than $3 million in the FY1993 Nunn-
Lugar budget; it had grown to more than $220 million per year by FY2003. These
funds are used to help upgrade security and monitoring systems at facilities that
house nuclear materials in Russia and the other former Soviet states, and to help
secure naval nuclear weapons in Russia. By early 2003, DOE had helped upgrade
security at buildings that contained about 38% of the 603 metric tons that DOE
believed were at risk of theft. These upgrades include the installation of improved
security systems that use modern technology and strict material control and
accounting systems. The program has also provided security training for Russian
nuclear specialists. DOE officials have noted that the program had has experienced
some problems and results have been limited because most of the materials are in
Russia’s closed nuclear cities and nuclear weapons complex. MINATOM, which is
responsible for these facilities, has been slow to provide DOE with information about
and access to these facilities because of the sensitive nature of the nuclear weapons
The Department of Energy also implements two programs that are designed to
discourage Russian nuclear weapons scientists from selling their knowledge to other
nations. The first of these, the Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention (IPP) Program,
funds projects with non-military applications that have commercial value for both the
United States and the former Soviet republics. The program has coordinated lab-to-
lab contacts that sought to identify technologies at former Soviet weapons facilities
that might have commercial applications. It also matches U.S. government funds
with funds provided by U.S. companies in projects that seek to commercialize these
technologies. Congress has authorized approximately $20-$30 million for this
program each year since FY1994.9
The second program, the Nuclear Cities Initiative (NCI) is designed to bring
commercial enterprises to Russia’s closed nuclear cities, so that scientists and

9 For a more detailed funding history, see U.S. Library of Congress, Congressional Research
Service. Nonproliferation and Threat Reduction Assistance: U.S. Programs in the Former
Soviet Union. CRS Report RL31957, by Amy F. Woolf.

engineers will not be tempted to sell their knowledge to nations seeking nuclear
weapons. It seeks to promote nonproliferation goals by helping to redirect the work
of nuclear weapons scientists, engineers, and technicians and to develop commercial
opportunities in those cities. For example, it helped finance a computing center in
Sarov, formerly known as Arzamas-16, that will produce software for sale around the
world. The Clinton Administration had requested and received $30 million for NCI
in FY2001. The Bush Administration, however, cut funding for the NCI program
sharply, requesting $6.6 million for FY2002. With this low level of funding, the
program would have to withdraw from two of the three nuclear cities that participate.
The Administration has also indicated that it would like to eliminate the NCI
program and merge its remaining projects into the IPP program. In the Conference
Report on the FY2002 Defense Authorization Bill, Congress approved the merger of
the two programs, into a new Russian Transition Initiative, but, at the Senate’s
insistence, required that DOE continue to plan for and fund the NCI programs
separately. It also increased funding for the combined program from the President’s
request of $28.8 million to $42 million in the Energy and Water Appropriations Bill
and an additional $15 million in the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Bill.
The Bush Administration has requested and received $39 million for this combined
program in its budget for FY2003. It has requested approximately the same amount
for FY2004, with $17 million allocated to NCI and $23 million allocated to IPP.
However, the NCI program ended in late 2003 because the United States and Russia
have been unable to complete a new implementing agreement. They remain at odds
over liability protections.
Agreement on the Disposition of Weapons-grade Plutonium. In
September 1998, Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin agreed that each nation would
convert 50 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium to a form that could not be
returned to nuclear weapons. Clinton Administration officials estimated that this
amount was approximately half of the U.S. stockpile and perhaps 25% of Russia’s
stockpile. The agreement highlighted two means for converting the plutonium — the
parties could either convert it to fuel for nuclear power reactors or mix it with other
nuclear wastes and dispose of it in a way the would preclude its use in nuclear
weapons. This agreement is designed to ease concerns about the possible theft or
diversion of weapons-grade plutonium by nations or others seeking to develop their
own nuclear weapons. Congress allocated $200 million for this program in the
Omnibus Appropriations Act passed at the end of the 105th Congress. After its
review of U.S. nonproliferation programs with Russia, the Bush Administration
indicated that it would seek an alternative plan, that would be less costly and less
complex, to address concerns with Russia’s stockpile of weapons-grade plutonium.
Under the new plan, the two nations will each convert plutonium to MOX fuel. But
U.S. assistance to Russia for the construction of its MOX plant ended in late 2003
because the United States and Russia have been unable to complete a new
implementing agreement. They remain at odds over liability protections for U.S.
companies and individuals participating in the program.
Bilateral Meetings
During the 1990s, the United States and Russia also participated in bilateral
discussions, in several fora, that sought to identify and resolve issues related to the
potential loss of control over Russia’s nuclear weapons and materials. The Bush

Administration continues to pursue discussions among U.S. and Russian working
groups, even though it has continued the specific high-level meetings on these issues.
The U.S.-Russian Commission on Economic and Technological
Cooperation (The Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission) . In 1993, Presidents
Clinton and Yeltsin established the U.S.-Russian Commission on Economic and
Technological Cooperation, chaired by Vice President Gore and Russia’s Prime
Minister Chernomyrdin. Vice President Gore and Prime Minister Chernomyrdin
often used their meetings to address issues, such as arms control and missile defense
cooperation, on the agenda for upcoming Presidential summits. For example, in
1994, the commission announced that the two sides would cooperate in building a
storage facility at Mayak (described above) for plutonium removed from Russia’s
nuclear weapons. Vice President Gore and Prime Minister Chernomyrdin also signed
the agreement that established the program through which the United States will
purchase 500 metric tons of uranium removed from Russian nuclear weapons for use
in nuclear power reactors. The also signed an agreement requiring the shutdown of
nuclear reactors that produce plutonium for nuclear weapons in Russia, beginning a
process that evolved over the years, and remains on the agenda for U.S. and Russian
cooperation. During their June 24, 1998 meeting, Vice President Gore and Prime
Minister Kiriyenko signed two agreements on nuclear issues. The United States
agreed to provide Russia with assistance in converting plutonium from nuclear
weapons to fuel for nuclear reactors. In the second agreement, the United States
pledged $3.1 million for 9 projects that are designed to help scientists in Russia’s
closed nuclear cities convert their efforts to peaceful civilian endeavors, a project
known as the Nuclear Cities Initiative.
The Strategic Stability Working Group (SSWG). In late 1993, the
United States and Russia established an experts working group to discuss ways to
improve strategic stability, increase mutual confidence, and relax the Cold War
nuclear force postures. One of the first topics the SSWG addressed was ballistic
missile “detargeting.” In an agreement that took effect on May 30, 1994, the two
nations agreed that no country would be targeted by any strategic forces on either
side. Many observers praised this agreement as an overdue sign that the United
States and Russia no longer consider each other enemies. Some also saw it as a
move away from the nuclear hair-trigger and a concrete step to reduce the risk of
accidental missile launches. Others, however, argued that its benefits were strictly
symbolic because both sides could quickly retarget missiles during a crisis. Many
also noted that the measure was not verifiable, so neither side could be sure that the
other’s missiles were actually detargeted.
Sharing Early Warning Data
As was noted above, many analysts in the United States have expressed
concerns about the possible inadvertent launch of Russian nuclear weapons resulting
from Russia’s weakened ballistic missile early warning system. In response to these
concerns, Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin agreed in September1998 that the United
States and Russia would share early warning data for all space launches and ballistic
missile launches world wide. They agreed to share data on a continual basis, in real
time (rather than providing it annually or biannually); they agreed that data would
include information on strategic, theater, and intermediate range missiles, and on

space launches; they agreed the data would be derived from early warning satellites
and ground-based radars; and they agreed to establish a multilateral pre-launch
notification system that would be open to all nations who agreed to share data prior
to missile or space launches from their territories. The Clinton Administration
emphasized that this agreement would strengthen stability and protect against the
possibility of a nuclear launch triggered by false warning of an attack.
Administration officials have also highlighted the cooperative nature of this
endeavor; this Center will provide the first opportunity for U.S. and Russian military
personnel to be permanently involved in a joint military operation.
In mid-December 2000, the United States and Russia signed an agreement
outlining the types of information that would be exchanged in the newly-formed Joint
Data Exchange Center (JDEC) near Moscow. This agreement establishes a pre-
launch and post-launch notification system for ballistic missile and space launches
and designed to reduce the risk that a test, experiment, or space launch, could be
misread as a ballistic missile attack. Some critics of the planned center argued it
would hinder U.S. access to space by requiring that notifications before launches, but
the military space community reportedly reviewed all the provisions and approved
of the plan because it allows for exceptions to the notification requirement in the
interest of national security. Most experts hoped the center, which is to be based in
an old school building near Moscow, would begin operations in 2001. However, the
building’s renovations have not yet begun. Disagreements between the United States
and Russia about tax issues, along with a general cooling in the relationship between
the two countries, have been cited as reasons for the delay. Congress authorized
funding for the JDEC in 2002, but withheld 50% of the funds until Russia and the
United States reach a cost-sharing agreement and an agreement on taxes and liability
for U.S. participants. In a Joint Declaration signed during their summit meeting in
Moscow in May 2002, Presidents Bush and Putin emphasized that they remain
committed to opening the center. However, progress stopped in 2002 because the
two sides remained at odds over taxation and liability issues.