Jump to search Jump to main navigation Jump to main content Jump to footer navigation

Global Security Newswire

Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues

Produced by
NationalJournal logo

U.S. Should Reassess Support for Programs to Address Aging Russian Nuclear Submarines, GAO Report Says

By Marina Malenic

Global Security Newswire

WASHINGTON -- As U.S.-funded WMD threat reduction projects advance toward completion in Russia, Washington's participation in the Arctic Military Environmental Cooperation program ought to be reassessed, the Government Accountability Office concluded in a report released yesterday (see GSN, Aug. 5).

Norway, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States participate in the multilateral effort to reduce the environmental effects of Russia's arctic military activities, particularly Russia's aging fleet of nuclear-powered submarines.

The U.S. Defense Department, in a 1999 program plan submitted to Congress, stated that AMEC projects would support the goals of U.S. threat reduction programs, specifically efforts to dismantle Russian ballistic missile submarines.  The congressional auditors found, however, that only one of eight AMEC projects supported the threat reduction goals.

The environmental cooperation program is heading in a new direction that represents a significant expansion from its original charter, the report states.  Moreover, AMEC officials have not adequately justified expanding the program to secure spent nuclear fuel and other material and to address security problems at Russian shipyards, naval bases, support vessels, and other facilities associated with the dismantlement process.

The U.S. Defense Department, which is responsible for U.S. projects aimed at securing nuclear materials in Russia, told GAO investigators that spent nuclear fuel and other associated radioactive materials from Russia's nuclear submarines do not pose a high-priority security threat and that the department would not fund any new initiatives in this area.

The report also identifies AMEC member countries' financial contributions to the program.  From the program's establishment in 1996 to April 2004, member countries contributed about $56 million to the effort.  The United States has been the largest contributor, providing about $31 million, or 56 percent of the total.

However, the GAO found that the overall U.S. contribution decreased from fiscal 1999 to fiscal 2004, as U.S.-funded projects were completed and as other AMEC member countries increased assistance.

The GAO report recommends that the defense secretary, in consultation with the secretaries of Energy and State, reassess further U.S. involvement in the program.

Note to our Readers

GSN ceased publication on July 31, 2014. Its articles and daily issues will remain archived and available on NTI’s website.

NTI Analysis

  • Nuclear Disarmament Resource Collection

    Aug. 14, 2015

    The Nuclear Disarmament Resource Collection contains information and analysis of nuclear weapons disarmament proposals and progress worldwide, including detailed coverage of disarmament progress in countries who either possess or host other countries' nuclear weapons on their territories.

  • Interview with Sen. Sam Nunn, July 24, 2015

    July 25, 2015

    NTI Co-chairman and CEO Sam Nunn's interview about the Iran agreement, with Denis O'Hare and Jim Burress on "Closer Look," WABE radio in Atlanta

Country Profile

Flag of Russia


This article provides an overview of Russia’s historical and current policies relating to nuclear, chemical, biological and missile proliferation.

View Country Profile →