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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 45, April 2000

New 'Nuclear Cities' Contracts

March saw the conclusion of three contracts under the terms of the US Energy Department's Nuclear Cities Initiative (NCI) designed to facilitate the transition to civil production and employment in the former 'closed cities' of the Soviet nuclear weapons complex. On March 17, two contracts were signed between the Department's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and SPEKTR, a State Unitary Enterprise in Snezhinsk, related to a range of conversion projects including, as summarised in a DOE release, "developing oil production technology and improving Russia's fibre optic cables for the commercial market." On March 24, LLNL signed a contract with the Avanguard Foundation in Sarov for the conversion of a weapons facility to a site producing kidney dialysis equipment. The latter contract particularly pleased the Department. In the words of Secretary Richardson: "Russians who used to make weapons of mass destruction are now going to apply their scientific knowledge to designing life-saving equipment… Such profitable, commercial industries must be introduced to Russia's closed cities so these scientists don't defect to rogue nations willing to offer generous salaries in return for nuclear expertise." Rose Gottemoeller, Acting Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Non-Proliferation, was equally excited: "Until now this facility has refused to allow any Westerners inside. Now they are permitting us to make structural changes to the facility and negotiate with private businesses to work inside this factory that has been used to manufacture nuclear weapons components. This is a major breakthrough for the Nuclear Cities Initiative…"

Reports: US Department of Energy announces Russian contracts, US Department of Energy Press Release R-00-078, Russian weapons plant to manufacture medical equipment, US Department of Energy Press Release R-00-083, March 24; Energy Department updates cost and schedule estimate estimates for clean-up of nuclear weapons complex, US Department of Energy Press Release R-00-106. April 14.

© 2000 The Acronym Institute.

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