Researchers at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies and the Center for Energy and National Security Studies, supported by NTI as part of its effort to promote U.S.-Russian cooperation on nuclear security, have published a new report with recommendations for U.S.-Russian cooperation in strengthening nuclear security in the former Soviet states and in Southeast Asia. The report was edited by Anton Khlopkov and Elena Sokova; authors include Anton Khlopkov, Dmitry Konukhov, Bryan Lee, Stephanie Lieggi, Miles Pomper, Robert Shaw and Elena Sokova.
The United States and the Russian Federation have engaged in bilateral and multilateral nuclear security work for more than two decades. This cooperation was launched in reaction to the break-up of the Soviet Union and the urgent need to introduce measures to secure nuclear
materials and facilities in the former USSR (FSU). Through this cooperation, both countries increased mutual confidence in the nuclear area, established regular contact between Russian and US nuclear government experts and nuclear scientists, and enriched overall nuclear security technologies and procedures—all of which has ultimately led to sustainable progress in nuclear security in Russia and has benefited nuclear security in the United States and globally.
However due to the increase in energy demand and the rapid development of nuclear energy technologies, new nuclear security challenges are emerging in other regions of the world where implementation of sustainable nuclear security measures is largely constrained by limited resources and insufficient domestic capacity. This trend raises the specter of attacks or sabotage on nuclear facilities by non-state actors or the illicit procurement of radioactive or nuclear materials, resulting in the creation of a radiological or nuclear explosive device—all serious threats to global security. This set of conditions creates an imperative to leverage US-Russian expertise and experience in cooperative threat reduction into a new agenda for global nuclear security.
With global nuclear security risks in mind, and the potential role of US-Russian engagement in minimizing these threats, the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS), the Center for Energy and Security Studies (CENESS), and the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation (VCDNP) undertook a project to investigate nuclear security challenges in third countries. For this initial review of potential US-Russia cooperation in nuclear security, the focus is on Southeast Asia (SEA) and the former Soviet states of Central Asia.
The US-Russian experience over the past 20 years has been a clear example of how to identify challenges and needs within a domestic nuclear security framework, overcome distrust and cultural and political barriers, and, through cooperative action and relying on the strengths of all stakeholders, establish cooperative programs to dramatically improve nuclear security arrangements. Emulating a number of features universal to successful US-Russia cooperative programs will ensure success and sustainability for potential multilateral cooperation on nuclear security. These features include: reliance on indigenous technology and knowledge, cost-sharing between partners, an infrastructure for human capacity building, and a clear “exit strategy” that would allow for tangible benefits even after initial financing ends. Ultimately, all parties need to recognize the benefits of cooperation.
Following is a set of recommendations for US-Russian cooperation considered most likely to be successful in the regions selected (as well as potential other regions):
Education and Training of Nuclear Security Specialists. Training of regional specialists should take advantage of Russian nuclear security training centers and academic programs that have been established in cooperation with the United States. In addition, joint US-Russian teams of instructors can travel to various countries and regions, allowing for broader reach. The United States and Russia should also offer their joint expertise in establishing national material protection, control and accounting (MPC&A) programs and nuclear security support centers worldwide.
Legal and Institutional Framework. The United States and Russia should offer their legal expertise and resources to draft national nuclear security legislation and regulations in the target regions. Where appropriate, they should also assist with drafting ratification legislation for key nuclear security conventions, including the Amended Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (ICSANT), as well as assist in strengthening capabilities, resources, and independence of relevant regulatory bodies.
Border Controls. Russia and the United States should expand their cooperation in the area of border controls, particularly in the former Soviet states in Central Asia, where borders remain porous. In Southeast Asia, they could offer a joint initiative to address key nuclear security challenges under a Southeast Asia Second Line of Defense (SEASLD) program. These efforts should include the provision of radiation detection equipment, development of regulations and procedures, and training of specialists.
Strategic Trade Controls. In collaboration with regional partners and organizations, U.S. and Russian experts should facilitate the development of legal frameworks specific to strategic trade controls, as well as a communication infrastructure with appropriate equipment, particularly information technology (IT). In addition, Russia and the United States are well positioned to provide relevant training to export control specialists and personnel, including on "dual-use" commodities.
Radiological Source Control and Management. The Russian Federation and the United States should increase cooperation with other countries aimed at enhancing their legal and regulatory framework for radiological source security and strengthening their capacity to provide sound management for radioactive sources through their entire life cycle, including licensing, monitoring, storage, and final disposal.
As noted throughout this report, many opportunities exist for the United States and Russia to work together on nuclear security projects with third countries or regions. In addition to solving nuclear security problems, such cooperation should become a foundation for transforming the US-Russian relationship into a true partnership and alliance that the two countries continue to seek. They have already worked together on major nuclear security initiatives, including the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism and highly enriched uranium (HEU) repatriation from third countries. Building on the success of these initiatives, Washington and Moscow should take the opportunity to expand their cooperation and direct their combined expertise and resources to address nuclear security needs worldwide.