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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 52, November 2000

US-Russia Non-Proliferation Projects

' Cities' Initiative

' Center in the Russian City of Snezhinsk Commissions Non-Weapons Related Jobs.' US Department of Energy Press Release, R-00-289, November 20, 2000.

"Former Ambassador Ronald Lehman, Director of the Center for Global Security Research at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, joined with senior officials from the US Department of Energy on Saturday, to commission the '' Open Computing Center in Snezhinsk, one of 10 closed and formerly secret nuclear cities in Russia.

' the Strela Open Computing Center lays another brick in the foundation of our work with Russia to reduce proliferation dangers and enhance the national security of both of our nations,' said Ambassador Lehman. ' center will make it easier for Western firms to employ Russia' highly skilled computer programming and software experts in non-weapons work.'

The Strela Open Computing Center ('' translates to '' in English) will provide commercial research opportunities to former nuclear weapons specialists in computer software programming and modeling and computer-assisted engineering and design. Four projects with commercial support or interest will begin immediately and include:

(i) improving numerical simulation for wood composite manufacturing with Virginia Polytechnic Institute;

(ii) developing multimedia data interchange and communication software components for the Animatek World Builder;

(iii) developing genome sequence analysis tools with research partners at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for use in the pharmaceuticals industry;

(iv) improving mechanical engineering simulation code useful in the automobile and other industries with the Livermore Software Technology Corporation.

Five additional projects at the Strela Open Computing Center are expected to get under way in the next several months. Taken together, as many as 120 former weapons specialists are likely to be engaged in high-tech jobs in the first year, with the number expected to double in the following year as the city' capabilities and commercial opportunities become known.

The Strela Center was established under the Department of Energy' Nuclear Cities Initiative, a US-Russian cooperative program designed to accelerate Russia' planned consolidation of its nuclear weapon complex, while also lowering the risk that displaced Russian nuclear weapons specialists might sell their know-how to countries of proliferation concern or terrorists. In addition to opening the Open Computing Center, the Department of Energy also announced that it would provide $9.7 million in funding for new and ongoing projects for Snezhinsk. This includes $3.9 million from NCI and $5.8 million from DOE' Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention, which, like NCI, is designed to prevent a ' drain' of former Soviet weapons of mass destruction specialists. The US government funding is also expected to leverage and attract additional investments from private industry and foundations."

Nuclear Material Security

' Metric Tons of Russian Nuclear Material Secured,' US Department of Energy Press Release R-00-288, November 17, 2000.

"The US Department of Energy' National Nuclear Security Administration today announced the completion of an effort to consolidate and secure approximately 10 metric tons of weapons-usable nuclear material - enough material for more than 500 nuclear bombs - at the Novosibirsk Chemical Concentrates Plant in Siberia, Russia. The materials were moved from three separate storage locations to a new central storage facility equipped with comprehensive nuclear material security and accounting systems.

'' announcement shows the continuing commitment of the United States and Russia to reduce the risk that terrorists or countries of proliferation concern might acquire nuclear materials for use in a weapon,' said Secretary Richardson. ' is essential we continue this vital work to protect America' security and safety.'

The systems were installed as part of the US-Russian Material Protection, Control and Accounting (MPC&A) program, a cooperative effort with Russia designed to protect hundreds of metric tons of plutonium and highly enriched uranium against theft or diversion. Sizable consolidation projects are also underway at large nuclear facilities like the Scientific Production Association in Luch and the Institute of Physics and Power Engineering (IPPE) in Obninsk. Consolidation efforts will reduce the number of storage areas by roughly 65 percent at these facilities, greatly increasing the efficiency by which DOE can ensure that attractive nuclear material in Russia remains secure now and well after DOE' work at the sites is complete.

The MPC&A program was launched in 1993 in partnership with Russia and the New Independent States to correct serious deficiencies in systems to secure nuclear materials against insider and outsider threats. Through this program, security upgrades are underway for 750 metric tons of the estimated 960 metric tons of nuclear materials requiring security. The main thrusts of the program are to install modern physical security and material accounting systems; reduce risks by consolidating materials into fewer buildings and converting highly enriched uranium to forms not usable in weapons; and promote sustainability by fostering the development of Russian capabilities to maintain security upgrades over the longer term."

© 2000 The Acronym Institute.