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 You are in: Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security > Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation (ISN) > Releases > Remarks > 2003

Nuclear Safety in Northwestern Russia -- Next Steps to Realizing the G-8 Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction

John S. Wolf, Assistant Secretary for Nonproliferation
Remarks at Conference Sponsored by the Norwegian Embassy and Nuclear Threat Initiative
Washington, DC
April 4, 2003

Mr. Minister, Senator Nunn, Distinguished Participants:

Thank you for this invitation. I am delighted to be in such distinguished company, including especially Senator Nunn who, with Senator Lugar, has done so much for the cause of nonproliferation.

Let me be brief. The proliferation problem is bad and getting worse. I agree with Senator Nunn and Charlie Curtis on the central role nonproliferation must play in today's global security agenda. G-8 Heads of Government in Kananaskis last June, under Canada's able leadership, underscored this fact and committed their countries to two sets of action paths. One set of proposals aims at preventing terrorists, and states that harbor them, from gaining access to weapons or materials of mass destruction. The second created the Global Partnership -- that is, cooperative projects, focused initially in Russia, that address nonproliferation, disarmament, counterterrorism, and nuclear safety.

The Kananaskis initiative crystallized, and brought together, many strands of our nonproliferation policy, with special reference to terrorist access to WMD [weapons of mass destruction] materials. The Kananaskis statement referred to the architecture of international treaties and regimes including the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and various export control regimes. Kananaskis underscored what the United States, and its partners, have long recognized as key elements of nonproliferation: enforcement of export controls, physical protection measures, safe storage or disposition of fissile material, and effective border controls. These are all hard-headed, practical, down in the weeds measures, but they are each vital contributors to our security. This architecture is important; far more important though is the will to follow through -- rigorous enforcement where countries not only have catch-all provisions on the books but are catching violators and penalizing them severely.

Where are we now on the Global Partnership?

Now, about the Global Partnership, we've come a way since Kananaskis, but we have much to do before Evian. Threat reduction is not a new idea. Since 1992, the United States has provided over six billion dollars in threat reduction assistance to countries of the former Soviet Union. The U.S. Congress has been innovative, determined, and supportive, and we owe much to Senators Nunn and Lugar for their inspiration and their attentive oversight. But the idea of the Global Partnership was to encourage much greater international participation, including an increased effort by Russia.

The U.S. continues to lead by example. For the current fiscal year, we expect the Administration to obligate about one billion dollars, through projects led by the Departments of Defense (DOD), Energy, and State. I'll describe what we are doing, and then I want to talk about partnership.

Our projects this year include the following:

  • $160 million for the Shchuchlye Chemical Weapons Destruction facility.
  • Disposal of fissile material not required for defense purposes. This includes purchase of Russian highly enriched uranium (HEU) blended down for use as low-enriched fuel for U.S. civil nuclear reactors.
  • We have just completed an agreement to close Russia's three plutonium production reactors.
  • The Department of Energy (DOE) is running a Materials Protection, Control, and Accounting program to secure nuclear weapons, weapons-usable nuclear materials, and radiological sources. We plan to spend over $200 million in FY-04.
  • Senator Nunn frequently talks about the threat posed by highly enriched uranium at research reactors and in spent fuel pools around the world. We are dealing with that problem.
  • Already, more than three dozen designed reactors have been converted to low-enriched fuel, and almost 500 kilograms of spent HEU fuel have been brought back to the U.S. since 1996.
  • We're working with Russia on a similar HEU minimization program for Soviet supplied reactors. We already have commitments for two research reactor conversions; we've completed a shipment of 50 kilograms of fresh HEU fuel from Serbia to Russia. We're planning a pilot spent fuel shipment from Uzbekistan to Russia for late summer or fall; and Ambassador Linton Brooks at DOE and I have a plan to address a slew of other similar cases.
  • In State-led programs, and via programs at DOD and DOE, the U.S. is redirecting former weapons scientists to peaceful civilian research and commercial activities, offsetting the inducement for them to sell their expertise to the highest bidder.
  • Further efforts include the destruction of missiles; more export control work with Baltic, Balkan, South Asian, and Southeast Asian states; and expanded cooperation to stop the flow of dangerous materials.

Doing projects in the former Soviet Union is tough work. The weapons sites are often in isolated, austere settings. While much of this work should manifestly be Russia's responsibility, we are helping because it is in our interest to help ensure that the wrong stuff does not fall into the hands of the wrong people.

And we're determined to do that in partnership -- with the G-8, and through outreach with others who see the value of these initiatives, led by Norway, I'm pleased to note.

The first challenge is money. Even the Global Partnership's $20 billion falls short of overall needs. The Shchuchlye chemical weapons facility will cost two billion dollars alone. For that reason, the G-8, Norway, and other partners must spend well, and spend in a way that exploits complementarities in our respective national projects. The French G-8 presidency is leading

this effort to shape the partnership through a Senior Officials Group, which has met five times since the Kananaskis summit, and meets again next week.

While money is one problem, the other principal problem has been arriving at mutually acceptable terms that would govern Global Partnership projects in Russia. The linchpin here is the 11 implementation guidelines that I spoke of earlier, especially tax exemptions and liability releases for the companies that perform threat reduction projects.

These guidelines are not arbitrary; they are not a political ploy; they are essential to get new projects going. Taxpayers must be confident that their money is going to be used for the purpose intended, that dangerous weapons and materials are being destroyed or safeguarded, and that former weapon scientists are doing genuinely useful, new work. They will insist too that their money is not drained off to pay taxes or claims.

Recently, Russia and a number of European states have reached agreement on the Multilateral Nuclear Environmental Program in the Russian Federation (MNEPR) framework. This is welcome news and a testament to Norway's leadership since it chaired the negotiations. This agreement, however, does not substitute for agreement among the G-8 Senior Officials on the outstanding issues in bilateral and multilateral negotiations to implement the Global Partnership. We hope officials will reach agreement on these and get ready to proceed with project implementation before the summit in Evian in June.

In his discussions with me earlier this week, Ambassador Antonov stressed the importance of getting projects under way quickly. I agree. We can finish agreement on implementation guidelines, identify projects and get ready to work quickly, and do all this at the same time.

Time is short. There is a lot to do. I am pleased that Norway is helping to push the process along. I hope others here today will send home the message about the Global Partnership and the importance it can play in keeping the wrong stuff out of the wrong hands. The need has never been greater. Thank you.


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