Zababakhin All-Russian Scientific Research Institute for Technical Physics (VNIITF)

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Last Updated: April 22, 2014
Other Name: Российский федеральный ядерный центр—Всероссийский научно-исследовательский институт технической физики имени академика. Е.И. Забабахина, РФЯЦ-ВНИИТФ
Location: Snezhinsk, Chelyabinsk Oblast
Subordinate To: Rosatom, Division of Nuclear Munitions Development & Testing and Defense Power Facilities
Size: Approximately 13,000 employees
Facility Status: Operational

Founded in 1955 in the area that later became the closed city of Chelyabinsk-70, VNIITF designed and fabricated experimental and prototype nuclear warheads for the Soviet nuclear arsenal. Though much of its work was carried out in competition with VNIIEF (the All-Russian Scientific Research Institute for Experimental Physics), VNIITF primarily developed warheads for submarine-launched ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and artillery shells. [1] VNIITF's work focused on miniaturization of systems, an increase in their effectiveness, and the improvement of their technical characteristics. [2] The institute also actively participated in the Soviet Union's extensive "peaceful nuclear explosions" program. [3]

Today, VNIITF designs nuclear warheads, provides stockpile support, and engages in fundamental and applied research. Researchers at VNIITF simulate various aspects of nuclear explosions, including using pulsed reactors, lasers, and shock wave generators. The site also manages projects related to eco-friendly power facilities, nuclear energy safety and spent fuel management, spent fuel transportation and storage, conventional warhead dismantlement, nuclear medicine, and Materials Protection, Control, & Accounting (MPC&A). [4] The Institute also has a critical assembly and four operational research reactors, all of which are pulsed reactors used in weapons research and powered by highly-enriched uranium (HEU). [5] For an overview of Russia's HEU policy and the full list of Russia's facilities using HEU, see the Russia Civilian HEU profile.

The Institute has a long history of international cooperation. VNIITF personnel advised on U.S.-Soviet nuclear arms control talks and coordinated with U.S. counterparts in the 1988 U.S.-Soviet Joint Verification Experiment. [6] Beginning in 1995, VNIITF participated in the U.S. Department of Energy MPC&A program. [7] It also took part in International Science & Technology Center Programs and the Nuclear Cities Initiative. Today, VNIITF cooperates with the United States, France, the United Kingdom, and China, and also has projects with the International Atomic Energy Agency and the European Organization for Nuclear Research. [8]

[1] "Знаменательные даты в истории ФГУП РФЯЦ-ВНИИТФ" [Notable dates in the history of FGUP RFNTs-VNIITF], РФЯЦ – ВНИИТФ [RFIaTs – VNIITF],
[2] "Сделано в Снежинске" [Made in Snezhinsk], РФЯЦ – ВНИИТФ [RFIaTs – VNIITF],
[3] "Мирные взрывы" [Peaceful explosions], РФЯЦ – ВНИИТФ [RFIaTs – VNIITF],
[4] "Технологии" [Technologies], РФЯЦ – ВНИИТФ [RFIaTs – VNIITF],
[5] "Research Reactors: Russia," International Panel on Fissile Materials,
[6] "Международное сотрудничество" [International cooperation], РФЯЦ – ВНИИТФ [RFIaTs – VNIITF],
[7] Matthew Bunn, Oleg Bukharin, and Kenneth N. Luongo. Renewing the Partnership: Recommendations for Accelerated Action to Secure Nuclear Material in the Former Soviet Union. Princeton, NJ: Report for Russian American Nuclear Security Advisory Council, August 2000, p. 76.
[8] "Международное сотрудничество" [International cooperation], РФЯЦ – ВНИИТФ [RFIaTs – VNIITF],

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This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents. Copyright 2017.