The US Response to the Russian Nuclear Legacy
by Jo L. Husbands
An Introductory Note
This paper discusses the US approach to cooperative efforts to improve the security of nuclear weapons and fissile materials in the former Soviet Union (FSU). Given my own experience, it spends much more time on the issue of fissile materials. I also believe these problems are relatively more urgent -- and that it is possible to show greater evidence of success.
The two key US programs are the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program (a.k.a. Nunn-Lugar) of the Department of Defense and the programs on material protection, control, and accounting (MPC&A) now funded and managed by the Department of Energy. But the International Science and Technology Center run by the State Department, the agreement to purchase 500 metric tons of highly enriched uranium (HEU) from dismantled nuclear weapons, the options for disposition of excess weapons plutonium now under consideration, the programs to improve export controls run by a number of US government agencies, and agreements to exchange data on warheads and fissile materials stockpiles signed at the 1994 summit (and endorsed at subsequent meetings but not yet implemented) should also be considered part of the US approach. I would argue that only this broad view genuinely reflects the degree of US engagement in addressing the problems of the Russian nuclear legacy.
Some General Observations
I believe it is fair to say that the US approach to the nuclear legacy of the former Soviet Union has been driven primarily by worries about proliferation, that is, the dangers of "loose nukes." A second important motivation has been to ensure that the commitments undertaken in START I -- and the denuclearization of Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan -- were fulfilled. Very quickly it was realized that, given current conditions in Russia and the other FSU republics, these goals could not be met without substantial financial support from the United States.
Much of the energy and creative drive for dealing with the risks of the Russian nuclear legacy has come from Congress and from experts outside the Executive Branch -- including some who then entered government to carry out the programs they had advocated. As with many stories of US national security policy, personalities matter a great deal to understanding the policy choices that were made.
The sense of urgency in the US government about the risks of loose nukes has risen and waned -- but has never been as high as some outside experts believe it should be. At the moment, thanks in part to General Lebed and his stories of missing "suitcase" bombs, we are in another cycle of press and Congressional attention to the risks in Russia, and of accusations that the US government is lagging in its efforts. The consequences of failure are so obvious and so great that it is easy to be critical of the US approach, but I end up on the side of those who argue that, given the circumstances and a 50-year legacy of secrecy and profound mistrust, the United States and its Russian and other FSU partners have done quite a remarkable job.
Current Status of US Programs
The various US programs that require annual authorization and appropriations from Congress all survived the most recent budget process more or less intact, but as I will discuss below, the battles are difficult each year. Taken together, the US programs try to address the Russian nuclear legacy by efforts to improve the security and safety of (1) nuclear warheads; (2) fissile materials; and (3) people with critical knowledge and skills.
The Cooperative Threat Reduction Program under the Department of Defense received $382 million dollars for FY1998, which began October 1st. Not all of this will go to nuclear programs in Russia, since CTR now devotes considerable attention -- and expects to give an expanding share of resources -- to the other so-called "weapons of mass destruction," CW and BW. Congress has also restricted its mandate to nonproliferation, ruling out programs devoted to conversion. This has been a source of considerable frustration and tension with the Russians, since it has by and large precluded assistance for housing for retired officers, which many MOD leaders consider a critical problem.
As of mid-1997, the CTR program had helped to deactivate 4,500 Russian nuclear warheads, destroy 81 ICBMs, eliminate 125 ICBM silos, destroy 20 bombers, eliminate 64 SLBM launchers, and seal 58 nuclear warhead test tunnels. In addition, the program helped Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan to fulfill the terms of their accession to START I and the Nonproliferation Treaty as nonnuclear weapons states by returning some 6,000 nuclear warheads they inherited from the Soviet Union to Russia. Working with Russia to fulfill the terms of the START I and (it is hoped) START II treaty remain the focus of the CTR program.
From the outset, the Russian government was unwilling to permit the United States to have a role in the actual dismantlement of former Soviet/Russian nuclear warheads. The United States therefore cannot say with certainty how many warheads have actually been dismantled at the four Russian dismantlement facilities -- which is a source of criticism from Congress. As one looks ahead to the possibility of a START III agreement, the March 1997 Helsinki summit statements suggest that this situation will have to change. The US government, however, is just beginning to work through both the technical and political challenges this will entail.
The CTR program (with some additional funds from DOE) will also support the recently completed agreements that will end Russian production of weapons-grade plutonium by converting the cores of three reactors so that they no longer produce significant amounts of plutonium. Progress is also being made on the fissile material storage facility at Mayak, the so-called "plutonium palace," although a number of important issues regarding monitoring have yet to be resolved.
Perhaps the single biggest problem with the CTR program has been its inability to actually provide funds to Russians. Initially, explicit "Buy America" provisions meant that almost all the funds went to Western contractors; when those were removed, procurement regulations and the general obduracy of the DOD contracting bureaucracy meant that relatively little funding reached Russian scientists or facilities. In some cases, American equipment would be shipped to Russia or the three other FSU republics even if equivalent local equipment was available. The situation has improved substantially in recent years, but many Russians continue to criticize the program -- and frequently to regard it as the exemplar of the US approach.
The Materials Protection, Control, and Accounting Program at the Department of Energy (DOE) received its full requested appropriation of $137 million for FY1998. This program has grown dramatically, from just a few million dollars 5 years ago. Its scope has also grown, particularly since 1994, as DOE finally found the key to success with the Ministry of Atomic Energy (Minatom): direct cooperation between US national laboratories and their Minatom counterparts in Russia. By keeping activities "below the radar screen" of the political process in Moscow, the "lab-to-lab" program was able to assess the extent of the problems with fissile material security, demonstrate approaches to resolving those problems to people who stood to benefit directly from solutions, and build sufficient momentum that the (continuing) reluctance from Minatom headquarters could be overcome. The DOE program was also able to avoid many of the contracting restrictions suffered by CTR, so that almost from the beginning significant funds actually reached Russian facilities and scientists.
As of now, DOE has some form of access and MPC&A upgrades programs at 44 "sites" in Russia, representing approximately 90% of the facilities with fissile materials, and has completed its upgrades work in Belarus and Uzbekistan. Cooperation to improve the security of materials during transport within and between facilities -- a major source of vulnerability -- is now underway. Cooperation with the Russian Navy and the icebreaker fleet to improve the security of materials for the power reactors used in their vessels has also begun.
These genuine achievements notwithstanding, daunting problems remain. All of the programs got off to an unconscionably slow start; for that, both the United States and Russia share responsibility. Citing the legacy of Cold War mistrust and suspicions brings understanding, but it does not excuse the failure to respond more quickly to obvious risks to international security posed by the deteriorating situation in Russia.
The largest single problem confronting the US government is how much it does not and cannot know. It is now accepted that the Russian government does not know how much fissile material was produced and how much is held at various sites -- and perhaps even whether all the storage sites are known. DOE estimates that tons of material are now under internationally acceptable safeguards and tens of tons are in partially acceptable systems, but MPC&A systems remain to be installed for hundreds of tons more. As of mid-1997, there had been no confirmed cases of thefts or attempted thefts of nuclear materials in over two years, but that could simply be due to thieves becoming more skilled. In particular, the flow of goods across the borders of the Central Asian republics is essentially unmonitored and uncontrolled. It is very easy to be frightened by the risks that remain, particularly given the continuing economic problems in Russia and the growing threat from organized crime.
In spite of this grim picture, the MPC&A program has nonetheless achieved genuine successes, and I find myself agreeing with those who argue that it is unrealistic to expect that more have been achieved before now. The real test will come over the next few years as the programs to take advantage of the greatly expanded scope and access are put into place. This is the time at which substantial additional funding might be absorbed and used well.
It is worrisome, however, that a number of the most skilled and effective people in the US government with MPC&A responsibilities have left. Their replacements are not yet all in place, and there is a general sense that the urgency accorded the issue by the White House has declined. If MPC&A issues do not regain high priority and, even more important, sustained high-level attention, then progress could easily stall.
Suggestions for MPC&A
I want to offer two general suggestions for the US approach to the MPC&A, based on the work done at the Academy over the past five years on these issues. In that I am drawing on the work of by many others, both staff and members of our volunteer committees.
Recognition of the ultimate Russian responsibility needs to infuse all US programs. We invented a terrible, bureaucratic verb -- to "indigenize" -- in our effort to convey the importance of finding ways to ensure that, when US funding ends, and when US experts no longer work regularly with their Russian counterparts, the systems they helped put in place will be maintained. This involves everything from political work at the highest levels to create greater recognition of the importance of nonproliferation, to building a culture within Minatom that will enforce and support the new systems, to buying and promoting Russian equipment.
Recognition of the need for clear goals and an "exit strategy" is growing slowly within the DOE program, but there is still a tendency to count the easily quantifiable and not enough thought about what "success" really means. When DOE declared the upgrades completed in Belarus and Uzbekistan in 1996, it was not possible to get a clear statement of what the new "internationally acceptable" standards were to which these facilities now conformed. Nor did there appear to be a plan in place for how those countries would keep those facilities at that level. One finds the same tendency in the programs in Russia. There is an obvious tension between gaining access to as many facilities as possible in Russia while the opportunity exists and finishing the job at any one facility. So far, DOE has continued to emphasize breadth.
The true measure of overall success of the US approach must be the extent to which the vulnerability of nuclear weapons and materials is reduced. As noted above, the US role in addressing the Russian nuclear legacy cannot and should not continue indefinitely. Achieving the goal of the highest possible standards of security is ultimately the responsibility of Russia. The appropriate measure of the effectiveness of specific US programs is thus how well they contribute to achieving security for warheads and materials -- and to enabling Russia to do so on its own. The question of the success of the US approach should be evaluated by such measures as: Did the United States take advantages of opportunities to increase cooperation? Was an appropriate balance found between depth and breadth? Were projects and technical improvements appropriate to Russian needs? Did the projects encourage and support a sense of Russian responsibility, of "ownership" of the programs? These measures are most directly relevant to the programs directed toward improving security for fissile materials and for people with critical knowledge and skills, but it is relevant to the entire US approach.
Domestic Politics and the Future of the US Approach
Every year, the various elements of the US approach to the Russian nuclear legacy face a difficult passage through Congress. The Nunn-Lugar program originated on Capitol Hill, but that enlightened leadership is matched by a group of Senate and House members who remain deeply skeptical of, and in some cases openly hostile to, CTR and other programs.
Part of the Congressional opposition is to spending Department of Defense funds on anything but "real" military programs. Secretary of Defense Perry's eloquent arguments for "defense by other means" failed to persuade these critics, who oppose even such seemingly obvious benefits to US security as cooperation in the dismantlement and destruction of strategic delivery vehicles. Other opposition is part of a general rejection of "foreign aid," no matter what the program. Finally, there is a core in Congress who remain profoundly suspicious of Russia, and who therefore do not want the United States to become engaged in cooperative ventures with a nation they simply do not trust. These people have their counterparts in the Russian Duma, and each frankly serves the interests of the other by reinforcing their mutual suspicions.
So far, the urgency of the problems in Russia and the sustained leadership of a number of members of Congress have saved the programs. But the struggle will continue unless the 1998 Congressional elections result in a significant shift in party alignments or change the composition of the membership. I do not want to end on a pessimistic note, but there is certainly plenty of work for those who advocate US engagement and support for Russian efforts to cope with its nuclear legacy.
by Annette Schaper
Motivations and triggers of cooperation
There were several motivations for the cooperation programs between Russia and other Newly Independent States (NIS), and Europe. One of them were security and safety concerns of the nuclear complexes in Russia and the NIS. A major trigger were the nuclear-smuggling incidents in Summer 1994, that caused big headlines especially in Germany. The reasons are the involvement of weapon-grade materials for the first time, and simply the timing: because of the summer holidays, there was a shortage of other interesting news. Another factor was the German public that was already very sensitized, mainly because of environmental concerns. Especially the case of the MOX-finding at the Munich airport caused a tremendous press echo and a substantial scandal. But while in the US the proliferation concerns are predominant and the activities aim mainly at the prevention of leakage of materials, technologies, and nuclear weapon-relevant knowledge, and of a rearmament of any NIS or of a future state in case of a further breakup of Russia, European concerns are much more in the field of ecology and safety. Also, the smuggling incidents fuelled concerns more in this direction: the major public worry was not a new nuclear weapon state somewhere in East Asia or elsewhere far away, but scenarios of terrorists polluting the environment in Europe.
Memories of the Chernobyl experience are still lingering in the European public, and the public acceptance of nuclear energy is low. Therefore, also the nuclear industry has a strong interest to prevent any other incident in Russia because this would kill all remainders of acceptance immediately. In addition, ecological concerns have a longer tradition in Europe, especially in Germany, than in the US.
Another motivation for cooperation are simply prospects for new markets. Firstly, all cooperation would help to promote the prerequisite which is the transition to market economies in the East. This automatically would create new business opportunities. Secondly, the European nuclear industry is a market leader in safety technologies, and the NIS can become a major customer. Security technologies can play a similar though smaller role, since they are less costly, but on the other hand are practically applied in Europe for many decades already. A potentially big field of cooperation is seen in plutonium recycling technologies, especially MOX, in which the Europeans have long practical experiences in contrast to the US who have a policy of discouraging others from a closed fuel cycle because of nonproliferation.
However, within some elites, the problem of the deteriorating security and the lack of modern standards of material protection, accountancy, and control is also considered important. The security of the Russian nuclear production complex is estimated to be far below Western standards and in danger of deteriorating even further. Also, a modern State System of Accountancy and Control (SSAC) which is the prerequisite for IAEA safeguards is still lacking in Russia. But it is an official foreign policy goal of Germany and several other European states to implement international safeguards universally, e.g. also in nuclear weapon states. Therefore, also a foreign policy motivation to raise the standards in Russia exists. Another motivation is simply the pressure of the international community on industrialized states to share the burden in a necessary international task.
Scope of cooperation
In principle, the cooperation with the NIS covers a lot of fields similar to that of non-European states. Tasks of all international cooperation can be distinguished in three areas: disarmament, security and management, and other related topics.
Disarmament cooperation takes place in the fields of weapon systems storage, transportation, dismantlement and destruction of warheads, components and materials storage and disposition of plutonium (Pu) and highly enriched uranium (HEU). A problem of disarmament is the difficulty of verifying the dismantlement of nuclear warheads, because all technical aspects are highly classified. But also the technical irreversability of the disarmament process is still low: so far, the nuclear components still remain intact, and it is easy to refabricate new ones. Naturally, projects that are close to classified and proliferation relevant information on warheads are not taken up by non-nuclear weapon states such as Germany. Russia has a special tradition of secrecy that goes beyond that of the US, so that even cooperation between these two states is sometimes slow and difficult. However, US-Russian workshops on the verification of dismantling of warheads are said to have produced useful results. European participation in this field focuses on storage, transportation and disposition. Especially the field of disposition is noteworthy where a joint project of constructing a pilot MOX plant for Russian weapons plutonium is taking place (more details are explained further below). Additional projects aim also at other nonnuclear weapons of mass destruction. There are especially German efforts to destruct chemical weapons.
The area of security and management involves projects on physical protection and management technologies, material control and accountancy (MC&A) which is the technical prerequisite for a legal SSAC, safeguards training and cooperation, national legal systems, export control consultancy, and cooperation on the development of common international standards. Most plants in the US, Russia, China, and in the SON have not been planned to take up safeguards. Therefore, designated measurements points, designs that specifically facilitate an overview on material flows and define strategic points, access for taking samples, installations that enable the applications of tags and seals, limitations for human entries, and other favourable prerequisites for the installation of control equipment might be lacking. Similarly, SSACs compatible with IAEA standards are still lacking. Russia, at the time being, is reforming its system. Before, the key element was control over people but not technical control over nuclear material. In November 1995, the new Law On The Use Of Atomic Energy was put into force in Russia introducing the internationally recognized principle of measured material balance as a basic concept of the Russian SSAC in contrast to controlling people. It is not yet clear which Russian agency will be reponsible for which kind of controls and regulations. In general, the present concept specifies the following: Minatom is responsible for effecting the MC&A of nuclear materials intended for civil and defense purposes, the Ministry of Defense for effecting the MC&A of nuclear materials for defense purposes, Gosatomnadzor for the oversight of nuclear materials intended for peaceful purposes, and the State Customs Committee controls the transport of nuclear materials across Russian borders.
Other related cooperation programs cover a wide variety of projects, some of them not dealing with nuclear matters at all. But they must also be mentioned because they are extremely costly and constitute the main reason for the obvious imbalance between US and European financial efforts on assistance for the NIS in the nonproliferation and disarmament field. Other projects are defense industry conversion, the International Science and Technology Center (ISTC), a large fraction is spent on reactor safety, and environmental protection and cleanup. And there is special German spending on officers resettlement and retraining, and housing. This has been motivated by the German desire to end the presence of Russian soldiers in Germany after reunification. The sum spent on resettlement, retraining and housing since reunification is estimated to many tens of billions of German mark, which is several times multiplied by thousand of what is spent on the disarmament aid. It can be understood that such exceptional historical circumstances create much stronger motivations than those described in the beginning of this paper. Unfortunately, in the perception of the majority of the public and the parliament, a saturation of spending on Russia has been more than reached. The present economic difficulties add to the unwillingness to increase any funding, despite the insight, that the Russian problems also affect European security.
Comparisons between US and European activities are not only difficult because of the emphasis on different cooperation fields but also because of the large number of actors, who often act independantly from each other. There is no institution that coordinates or simply has a comprehensive overview on the various activities. Bilateral programs exist at least between NIS and Denmark (Dk), Germany (D), France (F), Great Britain (GB), Italy (I), the Netherlands (Nl), Norway (N), Finland (SF), Sweden (S), and some others. There are addtional European and international institutions and programs that run similar projects. The most important ones are:
Funding of bilateral programs
The following table covers the period of about mid 1992 Feb. 1997 ( in million US $, unless noted otherwise) according to information provided by the governments. It must be emphazised that more assistance takes place in those NIS where additional European countries are active, e.g. Sweden has a large cooperation project with the Baltic states. For comparison, also Canada (Ca) and the US are included in this table. A distinction is made between the categories of nuclear disarmament, security, and nonproliferation and all others.
* only 1995 Feb. 1997
The large number in the category "other" in the German funding can be explained by the housing and officer resettlement program. It is still only a small fraction of the total spending because it is only the sum after 1995.
Two examples will be explained in more detail: the MOX pilot plant and the Tacis program.
The pilot plant for MOX fuel from weapons plutonium
While the largest success in US activities so far is a purchase of large amounts of HEU from dismantled weapons, less progress has been made in US-Russian cooperation on Pu disposition. The main reason is the incompatibility of Russian and American plutonium policies. In Russia, plutonium is regarded a precious recource that has been expensive to produce, and the US view, that it should be treated as a dangerous waste is not accepted in Russia. On the contrary, a prevailing view holds that in contrast, an elaborate civilian plutonium recycling industry should be installed, including reprocessing and fast breeders. A compromise is a joint Russian-French-German project on a pilot MOX plant for plutonium from dismantled weapons between Minatom, Cogema, the Gesellschaft für Anlagen und Reaktorsicherheit (GRS), and Siemens. So far, a feasability study has been completed: it designs a pilot plant that would process about one ton W-Pu per year. In a first step, plutonium pits will be dissolved and a powder of uranium oxide and Pu-oxide will be produced as feed material. This part is still close to classified nuclear weapon design, and it will be accomplished by the Russian and French partners. The German partner contributes the technology and the equipment necessary for the fuel rod fabrication, made from the feed material. The German equipment will be used only for WWER-1000 fuel fabrication (light water reactors), while Russian equipment will be used for BN-600 fuel fabrication (breeders).
One ton per year would be just sufficient for the four Russian WWERs, but the amount of Russian excess plutonium is estimated to be about 50-100 tons. The plant will therefore only be a first step that will demonstrate some action and progress. For a larger-scale disposition campaign, additional consuming reactors would be needed. Canada and Japan have already expressed some interest in collaboration. Canada has no domestic closed fuel cycle, but Candu-reactors seem to be easily convertable to MOX fuel. The authors of the feasibility study claim that the scale of the plant could be enlarged rather easily. The costs of the building and equipment of the MOX part are an estimated DM190 million, the cost of the fuel is estimated at about DM2800/ kg heavy metal. A German condition for participation is that the facility and the consuming reactors will be submitted to IAEA safeguards.
Tacis is a EU initiative for NIS assistance "which fosters the
development of harmonious and prosperous economic and political links between the EU and
More than 2200 projects were funded from 1991 1995 with a total of ECU2268 million. About 1 - 2 % were related to nuclear disarmament, nonproliferation, MC&A, and similar projects. This reflects the priorities of interests explained in the beginning of this paper.
Criteria for assessment
There are several questions that must be asked for the evaluation of projects. However, it is unlikely that all questions can get a positive answer simultaneously.
For the sake of nuclear disarmament, this is an important criterion. An example that does not fulfill it is an ISTC project (No. 074) on scientific collaboration between Sarov (Arzamas 16) and Los Alamos on "Shock Waves and Extreme States of Matter". This is typical nuclear weapon physics. However, this project helps to fulfill the second criterion.
Funding of projects alone is not sufficient for the situation of highly specialized and qualified experts. They also need a professional satisfaction, which makes the conversion difficult. A project that helps to provide individual satisfaction is the above quoted project No. 074 which is therefore effective in preventing brain drain. However, satisfaction could also stem from intelligent scientific conversion.
Not all projects that can be positively evaluated with the other criteria fulfill this one. Basis science does rather not, projects directed at technical applications are more likely. Especially many Tacis projects fulfill this criterion.
Especially projects that promote the security of fissile materials and nuclear installations fulfill this criterion. An important task is the transition of MC&A to international standards.
by Victor Zaborsky
The nuclear legacy of the former Soviet Union in Ukraine is two-fold: nuclear weapons, and nuclear facilities for peaceful purposes. So, in my brief comments I would like to touch upon international efforts in two major areas: withdrawal of nuclear warheads from Ukraine, and ensuring that the civilian nuclear facilities would not become a proliferation threat.
Nuclear weapons. Ukraine inherited 130 SS-19 ICBMs and 46 SS-24 ICBMs with a total number of about 1,800 warheads. The international community faced two challenges at that point - Ukraine's ratification of START I, and Ukraine's joining the NPT as a non-nuclear-weapon state.
As you may recall, Ukraine put forward three major conditions to its ratification of START I and joining the NPT: security guarantees from the nuclear weapon sates; financial assistance in dismantling nuclear weapons; and financial compensation for nuclear materials contained in the tactical warheads withdrawn to Russia in 1992. While the third condition was left mostly at the discretion of Russian and Ukrainian governments, the first two requirements were to be met by Western nations. The United States took a lead in that.
Security guarantees. The US administration launched a series of consultations with Ukraine, Russia, as well as with Great Britain, France, and China on this matter. Certain security guarantees for Ukraine were provided in the US-Russian-Ukrainian Trilateral Statement of January 14, 1994. On February 3, 1994 the Ukrainian Parliament voted in favor of exchanging the instruments of ratification of the START I treaty and the Lisbon Protocol. On November 16, 1994, the Ukrainian Parliament approved Ukraine's accession to the NPT, however, contingent upon receiving security guarantees from the nuclear nations in a form of separate documents. Guarantees from the United States, Russia, and the United Kingdom were provided in a memorandum at the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe on December 5, 1994 in Budapest. France and China provided security guarantees to Ukraine in separate documents. Thus, Ukraine formally became a non-nuclear weapon state party to the NPT on December 5, 1994.
Financial assistance. The CTR program provided Ukraine with $175 million assistance, conditional, however, upon Ukraine's ratifying the START I treaty and joining the NPT. Later on, in July 1993, the US decided to begin delivering the dismantlement aid dropping this condition. In March 1994, during President Kravchuk's visit to Washington, President Clinton announced that the US would double its aid for dismantling the nuclear weapons in Ukraine to $350 million.
The bottom line: On June 1, 1996, the last of some 1,800 nuclear warheads was moved to Russia.
Remaining problems. Although all warheads have been removed, the missiles are still in Ukraine. The Ukrainian government has committed itself to destroy both SS-19s and SS-24s. In 1996, a three-year operation began to dismantle 130 SS-19s. In May 1997, during his visit to Washington, President Kuchma announced a decision to dismantle SS-24s as well. But Ukraine lacks the necessary funds. To facilitate dismantlement, in May 1997, US Secretary of Defense Cohen and Ukrainian Defense Minister Kuzmuk signed a document to add $47 million to the dismantlement projects in Ukraine. However, due to the project's complexity and high costs, these funds may not be sufficient.
Ukrainian civilian nuclear legacy: The five nuclear power plants in Ukraine are located at Chernobyl, Khmelnitsky, Rivne, Mykolaiv, and Zaporizhye, with fifteen operational units. There are two research reactors in Ukraine: at the Institute for Nuclear Research in Kiev and at the High Marines School of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense in Sevastopol. Also, Khar'kiv Physical-Technical Institute possesses about 12 kilograms of uranium in bulk form enriched up to 90%. There are two principal uranium mining districts in Ukraine, both located near Zhovti Vody (Yellow Waters): Kirovograd region, and Kryvy Rig region. All in all, there are about sixty facilities in Ukraine, producing nuclear-related goods and technology. In September 1994, Ukraine signed agreement on full-scope safeguards with the IAEA. This agreement came into force on January 13, 1995. The agreement provides IAEA inspection on all Ukrainian peaceful nuclear activities. The first ad-hoc inspections began in February 1995. The Ministry of Environmental Protection and Nuclear Safety is formally responsible for inventory and control over nuclear materials in Ukraine. In late September 1995, the Ukrainian government set up a body within the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Nuclear Safety to monitor safety precautions at nuclear power plants, nuclear waste storage sites, and nuclear fuel production facilities. The new body is called the Main State Directorate for Control Over Nuclear Safety.
There are other international programs to make Ukrainian civilian nuclear facilities safer and more "proliferation proof." The United States has been the key driving force of these programs. The Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Program provides for a number of nonproliferation tools, the most important of which are MPC&A and promoting effective export controls.
MPC&A - The amount demanded from the US Congress is $22.5 million. As of May 1997, the amount obligated by Congress is about $21.5 million, and the amount disbursed is $6 million. MPC&A improvements have taken place at several sites in Ukraine, including Khar'kiv Physical-Technical Institute, the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant in Mykolaiv, the Sevastopol High Marines School Research Reactors, and the Kiev Institute for Nuclear Research.
Problems remaining. Employees at nuclear facilities remain underpaid, which increases the risk of smuggling.
Export controls - After months of difficult negotiations, Ukraine and the United States signed the Nunn-Lugar umbrella agreement on October 23, 1993. The Agreement Between the Department of Defense of the United States of America and the Expert and Technical Committee of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine Concerning the Provision of Assistance Related to the Establishment of Export Control System to Prevent the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction From Ukraine was signed in Kiev, 5 December 1993 authorizing assistance in the establishment of an export control system in Ukraine.
Under the provisions of the Agreement, the US Department of Defense will provide assistance to Ukraine in any or all of the following areas:
The initial amount set for export control assistance to Ukraine was $2.26 million. On March 21, 1994, the Department of Defense amended the agreement to propose an increase of its assistance up to $5 million. The total amount of $7.26 million was obligated in March 1994. In December 1995, this assistance was increased to $13.26 million resulting from the extension of the agreement for another two-year period. As of May 1997, the total amount obligated by Congress is about $9.5 million, and the amount disbursed is $6.3 million.
Remaining Problems. First, on the working level, Ukrainian representatives have pointed out that the assistance reaches Ukraine very slowly, and sometime not in the most effective way. Second, there was a misunderstanding between the State Service of Export Controls (licensing body) and the Customs Committee over the Nunn-Lugar funds. The most recent information indicates that both agencies have come to an agreement. Third, Ukrainian export control officials express fears that, beginning from 1998, when DoS will replace DoD in being in charge of allocating Nunn-Lugar funds, the US assistance policy may change. In private conversations they point out that the State Department demonstrates the intention to make assistance to Ukraine conditional on certain changes in Ukrainian arms sales policy. The Ukrainian government strongly opposes this approach.
US non-governmental assistance to export control developments in Ukraine. Two US nuclear facilities - the Argonne National Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory - have established programs on nuclear export controls in Ukraine. The Argonne National Laboratory has allocated $40,000 to train nuclear export control experts, and the Los lamos National Laboratory has allocated $65,000 to create a database on Ukrainian nuclear enterprises for the State Service on Export Control. Their major counterpart in Ukraine is the Kiev-based Institute for Nuclear Research. Both programs are operated through the US Department of Energy.
Other countries' assistance programs.
Japan. On March 24, 1995, Ukraine and Japan signed a document of cooperation on control of export and import of nuclear materials in order to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The document was signed by Ukrainian Environmental Protection Minister Yuri Kostenko, and officials of the Japanese Committee on Cooperation in Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. The Committee will make available equipment and services for improving the use and maintenance of control over the export and import of nuclear materials to Ukraine free of charge. Ukraine will also receive aid to improve its state system of monitoring and protection of nuclear materials. The Japanese government also allocated $16 million to assist with dismantling nuclear weapons in Ukraine.
Canada. In April 1994, Canada announced that it would grant Ukraine $15 million to assist with nuclear safety, disarmament, and environmental cleanup of military facilities.
Germany. In 1994-95, Germany invested DM 3.5 million into equipment and services to jointly develop environmentally safe silo destruction technologies. A hydroabrasive cutting method was developed and has been used since December 1995.
International Science and Technology Center
The International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) is relevant, though indirectly, for cooperation in the export control area, since it is a multilateral nonproliferation program that provides peaceful employment opportunities to scientists and engineers in the former Soviet Republics who were previously involved with weapons of mass destruction and missile technology. The Science and Technology Center in Kiev was established in July 1994. Canada has pledged to provide $2 million for the support of the STC in Ukraine, and the executive director position is to be filled by a Canadian; Sweden has pledged $1.5 million, and the United States $15 million.