A White Paper

Prepared for the White House Forum on the Role of Science and Technology
in Promoting National Security and Global Stability March 29 - 30, 1995

National Academy of Science

Statement of the Problem

In the fall of 1991, conditions in the disintegrating Soviet Union posed a clear threat to nuclear safety and stability globally. An estimated 30,000 nuclear weapons were spread among the former Soviet republics. About 3,200 strategic nuclear warheads were located outside of Russia on the territories of Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine. Political, social, and economic upheaval heightened the prospects that the former Soviet republics would not be able to provide for safe and secure storage or disposition of these nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction. These conditions also caused concerns that former Soviet nuclear weapons scientists and engineers would export their expertise or services to rogue countries and groups.

The dangers posed by this situation in the new independent states (NIS) were becoming increasingly clear: new nuclear nations could spring fully-formed from the collapse of the former Soviet Union; weapons might be diverted or used in an unauthorized manner; warheads and fissile materials might be sold to countries or groups with goals that are inimical to the United States; and Soviet weapons scientists and engineers might contribute to global proliferation. Although significant positive changes were occurring in the NIS and many of the threats that confronted the United States throughout the Cold War were disappearing, these weapons and materials continued to pose serious risks to U.S. national security. In addition, the NIS lacked the legal or political commitments to the principles of nonproliferation and their status under the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was unclear.

In the three-and-a-half years since the watershed events surrounding the first Nunn-Lugar legislation occurred, many of these conditions have not significantly changed, although today, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan have all joined the NPT. In the face of these conditions, the ability of the NIS to fully comply with, and possibly accelerate their arms reduction and arms elimination commitments, without assistance, is questionable. The problems of national security concern to the United States are not only those that have a direct role in arms reduction and arms elimination, such as shortage of equipment to cut up missiles, bombers, and submarines in compliance with the START treaties. The U.S. is also concerned about the problems that result from the vast former Soviet weapons production complex and support infrastructure. The necessity for housing demobilized Strategic Rocket Forces officers is a case in point.

Under the laws of Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine, the demobilization of military officers may be undertaken only if adequate housing is provided for them. These countries are experiencing severe housing shortages, however, as the result of large-scale military demobilizations and poor overall economic performance. The lack of housing for missile officers scheduled for demobilization may prevent or delay these countries from meeting their strategic nuclear arms elimination obligations on an accelerated basis. The United States wants to help these countries meet the accelerated schedules to reduce the threat from weapons that could be aimed at the United States. The officer housing shortage may also create a corps of disgruntled missile officers--nuclear weapons specialists who are potential proliferators--who stretch out dismantlement in order to remain in military base housing.

The bottom line is that conditions in the NIS weapons support infrastructure reach right to the heart of threat reduction. These conditions require a response that removes the threat missile by missile, warhead by warhead, person by person, and factory by factory. The U.S. response does just that.

U.S. Government Response

Congress responded to these conditions and associated threats by initiating the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) program in November 1991. Often referred to as the Nunn-Lugar program, after the Senators who spearheaded the effort, this congressional initiative provided the Department of Defense (DoD) authority and funding to assist the eligible states of the former Soviet Union in weapons dismantlement and destruction, strengthening the security of nuclear warheads and fissile materials in connection with warhead dismantlement, and demilitarization of the NIS infrastructure.

The U.S. objectives in the CTR program as established by Congress are to cooperate with the NIS to:

Through the CTR program, the Department of Defense provides equipment, services, and technical advice to Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine to assist them in eliminating (or, as in the case of Russia, reducing) the weapons of mass destruction remaining from the Soviet era, preventing proliferation, and dismantling the associated infrastructure or transforming portions of it into peaceful civilian assets. In each of fiscal years 1992 and 1993, Congress gave DoD authority to transfer $400 million from existing DoD accounts to support the Nunn-Lugar program. Subsequent legislation (FY 1994 and 1995) provided for direct appropriations of $400 million each year.

The CTR program is helping to ensure that nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction are adequately controlled and safeguarded and to prevent proliferation of these weapons and expertise. CTR assistance is facilitating the former Soviet states in meeting and even accelerating their START treaty obligations. In addition, CTR is assisting the Russians in preparing to implement the Chemical Weapons Convention. To date, CTR has helped to mitigate the threats, as noted above, by contributing to the removal of over 2,500 warheads from missile and bomber bases into secure central storage in Russia; the return to Russia of over 1,000 warheads that were located in Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan; the deactivation of four regiments of SS-19 ICBMs in Ukraine; the removal of 750 missiles from their launchers and elimination of approximately 575 launchers and bombers throughout the former Soviet Union; and the current or projected re-employment of over 5,000 Russian weapon scientists and engineers on peaceful, civilian research projects. The Project Sapphire mission in November 1994 to remove 600 kilograms of highly enriched uranium to the United States from poorly secured storage in Kazakhstan was partially funded through CTR.

CTR is not traditional foreign aid. Rather, by directly addressing the dangers in the former Soviet Union concerning weapons of mass destruction, it is defense by other means. Congress had the vision to create this unique program, and DoD will maintain the momentum gained over the past few years to see it through to its conclusion.

Programs and Dollars in Place to Deal with the Problem

The CTR program provides the services, tools, and technology required to facilitate and accelerate elimination or reduction of weapons of mass destruction and to modernize and expand existing proliferation safeguards within the NIS. The program currently consists of 36 separate projects, most under bilateral implementing agreements or memoranda of understanding between the United States and the recipient governments. CTR program activities generally fall into three categories in accordance with the objectives established by Congress.

First, Destruction and Dismantlement activities facilitate the dismantlement and elimination of weapons of mass destruction and their launchers in the four eligible states where they remain (Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine) by providing leverage to encourage these countries to dismantle and by providing the actual equipment, services, and training required to implement dismantlement decisions. Projects in this area provide assistance in dismantlement or destruction of strategic nuclear missiles, silo launchers, liquid and solid rocket propellants, and Russian chemical weapons. Also included is assistance in the destruction of the launcher tubes in ballistic missile-firing submarines, the elimination of heavy bombers, and the elimination or conversion of the infrastructure (hardware and personnel) that supports these systems.

Second, through Chain of Custody activities, the CTR program decreases the dangers from the nuclear weapons and fissile materials which remain in the NIS, particularly Russia, and which represent a potential threat to the United States. During the difficult and uncertain period of transition in these states, the continued security and custody of nuclear weapons and materials is vitally important to both the United States and the NIS. Projects provide assistance, therefore, in enhancing effective controls over nuclear weapons and the vfissile materials removed from them throughout the drawdown and dismantlement of these weapons. Projects include providing safe and secure transportation of nuclear weapons from operational sites and storage areas to dismantlement facilities; improved security and accountability for weapons in transit; safer and more secure storage and transport of fissile material removed from nuclear weapons through the provision of storage containers; and design, equipping, and possible assistance in construction of centralized fissile material storage facilities.

Finally, CTR supports Demilitarization efforts which decrease the long-term threat by reducing the capacity and economic pressures in the NIS to continue to produce weapons of mass destruction. The industrial partnership projects under CTR help to reduce the potential of a future nuclear threat at its source, by addressing weapons production capabilities. These projects also help prevent proliferation at its source by reducing the supply of weapons of mass destruction and weapons expertise available for foreign sale or diversion and the incentives for relying on such sales for income. The defense conversion investments under CTR are win-win-win: They help reduce the threats from weapons of mass destruction; they help the NIS build peaceful, commercially viable market economies while reducing excess military capacity; and they provide opportunities for U.S. industry's entry into potentially large markets for civilian goods and services. Science and technology centers, through which former Soviet nuclear scientists and engineers are being reemployed in peaceful, civilian endeavors, also address the possible long-term threat, as do projects which enhance defense and military contacts between the United States and the NIS. When the Soviet Union dissolved the successor states were left with forces, structures, and equipment that were not well suited to the post-Soviet, post-Cold War world. Through the defense and military contacts projects the United States is able to assist in the development of democratic and civilian control of military departments and the restructuring and downsizing of defense capabilities to better reflect these new independent states' current needs.

Science and technology are at the heart of many of the CTR program activities. One direct connection is the science and technology centers in Moscow, Kiev, and Almaty. These centers provide funding and information in redirecting weapons scientists to commercial research. Defense conversion serves a similar goal, helping weapons manufacturers transfer their technological strengths into civilian products, with the assistance of U.S. companies. Providing environmentally sound destruction methods has proven helpful in ensuring continued compliance with arms control treaties. Technology has provided solutions to some important bottlenecks in the dismantlement process. For example, U.S. expertise has reviewed and guided the design of the plutonium storage facility in Russia, and is helping build a pilot plant for chemical weapon destruction. U.S. experts will also review Ukrainian proposals for safe disposition of liquid rocket fuel removed from SS-19s based in Ukraine. Developing solutions to these problems will allow dismantlement efforts to continue more quickly.

Since Fiscal Year (FY) 1992, Congress has authorized a total of $1.6 billion in DoD transfer authority or appropriations for Nunn-Lugar assistance to the NIS. Although $330 million of the authority has expired, the United States has proposed to obligate $1.181 billion of the $1.27 billion in existing authority. By the end of FY 1994, the obligation rate had increased four-fold over what it had been at the end of FY 1993, and obligations at the end of the current fiscal year are expected to be at least six-and-a-half times what they were at the end of FY 1993.

In spite of the progress made by the CTR program in all areas of threat reduction, a great deal of work still needs to be done. The major priorities for the current fiscal year and to the planned end of the program--the end of FY 2001--fall into the Destruction and Dismantlement and the Chain of Custody areas. Planning for the future efforts is being guided by CTR's annual multiyear Program Plan, the first of which was developed this year.

The United States spent many billions--some say trillions--of dollars during the Cold War to deter and defend against the Soviet Union's weapons of mass destruction. The CTR program is on a significantly smaller scale, but the payoff is tremendous. The results, unlike deterrence, are tangible, observable, and even, in some cases, immediately gratifying. The program also is helping to prevent the emergence of new threats as the new independent states continue to deal with the uncertainties and instabilities of post-Soviet sovereignty and independence. It is the view of the Clinton Administration that continuing this program of defense by other means will continue to enhance U.S. national security for the future.

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