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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 41, November 1999

US-Russia Nuclear Assistance Centres Open

November saw the opening of two collaborative US-Russia centres designed to enhance nuclear security, safety and non-proliferation. On November 1, a Nuclear Weapons Security Assessment and Training Center was opened at a location 30 miles northeast of Moscow. A Pentagon press release provided details:

"The Department of Defense (DOD) and the Russian Ministry of Defense (MOD) 12th Main Directorate established a Security Assessment and Training Center (SATC) today at Sergiev Posad, Russia. The center will serve as a central site for testing security technologies and procedures, including interior and exterior physical security equipment. This equipment will be deployed to Russian nuclear weapons storage sites to facilitate further security enhancements. Russian guard forces will be trained to operate and maintain this equipment at the center.

The SATC will also incorporate related capabilities to support MOD's Personnel Reliability Program (PRP). The PRP will help the MOD to assure the reliability of its personnel charged with safeguarding nuclear weapons. ... The SATC will also include a small arms training center, as well as a software tool for assessing the integrity and vulnerability of nuclear weapons storage sites. ...

This effort is part of the weapons protection, control and accounting project, under the DOD CTR (Cooperative Threat Reduction) program [running since 1992]. ... In 1995, DOD and the MOD signed an agreement concerning cooperation in nuclear weapons storage security... Through fiscal [year] 1999, Congress has appropriated $133.2 million for this agreement... To date, DOD has contracted for 123 kilometers of an alarmed fence and microwave security system called 'Quick Fix,' which is the first phase of the comprehensive site security enhancements system. Other efforts under the program include development of a nuclear warhead automated inventory control system to improve accounting for nuclear weapons."

At the opening, Colonel-General Igor Valynkin told reporters: "When we started [the CTR} seven years ago, we didn't think it would be possible to work in such areas as nuclear security, transporting nuclear warheads and guarding important military sites. Today, it is a reality."

On November 2, an International Development Center (IDC) was opened in the formerly closed Russian 'nuclear city' of Zheleznogorsk.

"The invitation for Energy Department experts to help nuclear scientists in Russia's formerly secret nuclear materials production city of Zheleznogorsk is unprecedented," said Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson. "It signals a strong commitment by both the United States and Russia to do whatever it takes to contain the knowledge of how to make nuclear weapons. …"

Two additional IDCs are expected to open in the coming year in the closed Russian nuclear cites of Sarov and Snezhinsk."

Reports: Text - joint US-Russia nuclear security training center opens, United States Information Service, November 1; Russia, US open nuclear security training centre, Reuters, November 1; Nuclear cities initiative opens first International Development Center in Russia, US Department of Energy Press Release R-99-289, November 2.

© 1999 The Acronym Institute.

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