Fact Sheet

Georgia Overview

Georgia Overview

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As part of its Soviet legacy, Georgia possesses a decommissioned nuclear reactor and three nuclear research institutes, as well as a number of military bases contaminated with radioactive waste. Nonproliferation challenges relevant to Georgia primarily relate to export controls.

Georgia does not possess or produce nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons, and is a party to the major nonproliferation treaties and regimes. [1]

Nuclear

Georgia is home to three nuclear research institutes. The Andronikashvili Institute of Physics on the outskirts of Tbilisi houses a nonoperational IRT-M research reactor. All fresh and spent fuel was transferred from the reactor facility to Scotland in April 1998 under a multinational effort known as Operation Auburn Endeavor. [2] The High Energy Physics Institute in Tbilisi is not known to house fissile material. There are reports that Sukhumi I. Vekua Institute of Physics and Technology (SIPT) once housed isotope production reactors and/or 2kg of 90% enriched uranium, though the whereabouts of the HEU is not known. [3] Georgia is a non-nuclear weapon state party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), and has an Additional Protocol in force with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

On 23 April 1998, after more than two years of negotiations, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Georgia successfully carried out Operation Auburn Endeavor, in which HEU- and LEU-based fresh and spent fuel was transferred from the shutdown IRT-M research reactor in the Andronikashvili Institute of Physics to the Dounreay Nuclear Complex in Scotland. Similar to Project Sapphire, in which the United States purchased approximately 600kg of weapons-grade uranium from Kazakhstan and shipped it to Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, Auburn Endeavor enabled the West to help eliminate a potential nuclear proliferation risk. Though the operation violated British regulations against receiving nuclear material, London indicated that the safety and security of the material was important enough to make an exception. [4] U.S. government documents state that the material consisted of approximately 4.3kg of fresh fuel (largely HEU, with some LEU, as well), and approximately 800g of HEU/LEU-based spent fuel. [5] Documents from the UK House of Commons indicate that an additional 5.8kg of LEU-based fresh fuel and 3.7kg of LEU-based spent fuel were also removed. [6] Earlier attempts to negotiate a transfer of the material to Russia failed. [7] The United States reportedly paid Georgia $125,000 for the materials. [8] The project went by different names: the U.S. Department of Energy called it "Project Partnership," U.S. military personnel called it "Auburn Endeavor," Oak Ridge National Laboratory personnel called it "Project Olympus," and the Georgians called it "Program Export." [9] The IAEA has also helped Georgia to locate and secure radioactive materials. [10]

Like other states in the region, Georgia has struggled to combat the illicit trafficking of nuclear and radiological materials, with 13 criminal cases brought against suspected smugglers of radioactive materials between 2002 and 2010 alone. [11] According to analyst Alexander Kupatadze, "Georgia has emerged as a key transit point for various legal and illegal materials due to its geography, unsecured borders, internal conflict, and corruption." [12] Approximately one half of Georgia's 310km Black Sea coastline is located in Abkhazia, and is not monitored by Georgian authorities. The United States provided millions of dollars in training, equipment, and funding to improve export and border control systems in Georgia. Major programs included the Georgian Border Security and Law Enforcement (GBSLE) Assistance Program, the National Nuclear Security Administration's Second Line of Defense (SLD) program, the Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI), the International Nonproliferation Export Control Program (INECP). [13] Such funds are used to provide communication and surveillance equipment, radioactive materials detection technology at entry points, and training for personnel in effective technology usage and materials analysis. [14] Additionally, experts from the U.S. Department of Commerce helped develop the legislative foundation for nonproliferation export controls in Georgia, the 1998 Law on the Export Control of Weapons, Military Equipment, and Dual-Use Items, which was the first export control law in the Caucasus. [15] The European Union (EU) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) have also provided training and equipment to improve border controls in Georgia. [16]

In June 2007, the French nuclear reactor design company Areva reportedly agreed to study the prospects for building a nuclear power plant in Georgia, and several months later the Georgian government announced the creation of a commission to study the issue. [17] However, Georgia's 1998 Law on Nuclear and Radiation Safety, which designates the nuclear-related responsibilities of various government bodies and bans the non-peaceful use of nuclear energy, currently prohibits the construction and operation of nuclear reactors with a capacity of more than 5MWe. [18]

Biological

Georgia acceded to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) on 22 May 1996. There is no evidence to suggest that Tbilisi possesses or is developing biological weapons. During the Soviet era, some vaccine manufacturing facilities in Georgia that were part of the Soviet Anti-Plague system possessed dual-use biological weapons production capabilities. The Biokombinat Production facility, for example, manufactured vaccines for sheep pox, swine plague, and sheep brucellosis, but also doubled as a biological weapons research facility. [19] Under the 30 December 2002 agreement between the United States and Georgia on cooperation in the area of prevention of proliferation of technology, pathogens and expertise related to the development of biological weapons, all dual-use equipment and selected buildings at Biokombinat were eliminated. [20] Also, the U.S. Department of Defense, through its contractor Bechtel National Inc., completed construction of the Epidemiological Monitoring Station at a Ministry of Agriculture laboratory in Tbilisi, and installed the Pathogen Asset Control System at the National Center for Disease Control, which holds Georgia's collection of especially dangerous pathogens, and the interim Central Reference Laboratory (CRL). [21] As a result of the joint effort between the U.S. DOD and the Georgian Ministry of Defense, the Tbilisi Central Public Reference Laboratory and repository opened in March 2011 to act as a repository for regional pathogens and host infectious disease detection and research training. [22, 23] In 2013, after finding that the laboratory was not functioning effectively, the Georgian government decided to transfer ownership of the research center to the National Center for Disease Control and Public Health (NCDC). [24] The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Global Health Informatics Program, in partnership with the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency, also deploys Electronic Integrated Disease Surveillance Systems to monitor biological threats and enhance Georgia's capacity for quick response to disease outbreaks. [25]

Chemical

Georgia is a founding member of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and a party to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). There is no evidence to suggest that Georgia possesses or is pursuing chemical weapons.

Missile

Georgia subscribes to the Hague Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (HCOC), and does not possess ballistic missile systems.

Sources:
[1] NTV, 8 December 1999; in "Sistema eksportnogo kontrolya za obychnym vooruzheniyem, a takzhe za produktsiyey i tekhnologiyami dvoynogo naznacheniya formiruyetsya v Gruzii," UNIAN (Kiev), No. 049 (084), 6-12 December 1999.
[2] "Multilateral Nonproliferation Cooperation: U.S.-Led Effort to Remove HEU/LEU Fresh and Spent Fuel from the Republic of Georgia to Dounreay, Scotland," Presented at the 1998 International Meeting on Reduced Enrichment for Research and Test Reactors, 18-23 October 1998.
[3] Emily Daughtry, Fred Wehling, "Cooperative Efforts to Secure Fissile Material in the NIS," The Nonproliferation Review, Vol. 7.1, Spring 2000, p. 100.
[4] Michael Gordon, "U.S., Britain Relocate Nuclear Material from Volatile Georgia," The New York Times, 21 April 1998, www.nytimes.com.
[5] Alexander W. Riedy, et al., "Multilateral Nonproliferation Cooperation: U.S.-Led Effort to Remove HEU/LEU Fresh and Spent Fuel from Tbilisi, Georgia to Dounreay, Scotland (Operation Auburn Endeavor/Project Olympus)," 40th Annual Meeting: Proceedings of the Institute of Nuclear Materials Management (Documation, 1999).
[6] Select Committee on Trade and Industry Minutes of Evidence, "Examination of Witness, Mr. D. Henderson (Questions 243 – 259)," 1 July 1998, United Kingdom Parliament, www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk.
[7] Michael R. Gordon, "Russia Thwarting U.S. Bid to Secure A Nuclear Cache," The New York Times, 5 January 1997, pp. A1, A4.
[8] Ben Partridge, "Georgia: Nuclear Waste Arrives at Scottish Plant," Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 24 April 1998, www.rferl.org.
[9] Robert N. Ceo, Kenneth A. Thompson, and Wesley J. Bicha, "Gamma Ray Measurements of Reactor Fuel Elements in the Republic of Georgia," 40th Annual Meeting: Proceedings of the Institute of Nuclear Materials Management (Documation, 1999).
[10] L. Wedekin, "Upgrading the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources in the Republic of Georgia," International Atomic Energy Agency, 5 February 2002, www.iaea.org.
[11] Alexander Kupatadze, "Organized Crime and the Trafficking of Radiological Materials: The Case of Georgia," The Nonproliferation Review, Vol. 17, July 2010, p. 222.
[12] Alexander Kupatadze, "Organized Crime and the Trafficking of Radiological Materials: The Case of Georgia," The Nonproliferation Review, Vol. 17, July 2010, p. 220.
[13] "Predsedatel tamozhennogo departamenta i predstavitel Gosdepartamenta SShA obsudili khod sovmestnoy programmy," Prime News Agency (Tbilisi), 20 March 2003; "Administrator Highlights U.S.-Georgian Nuclear Security Cooperation in Tbilisi," National Nuclear Security Administration, 14 June 2010, nnsa.energy.gov.
[14] U.S. Department of State, "U.S. Governement Assistance to and Cooperative Activities with Eurasia," January 2003, www.state.gov.
[15] Cassady B. Craft, Suzette R. Grillot, and Liam Anderson, "The Dangerous Ground: Nonproliferation Export-Control Development in the Southern Tier of the Former Soviet Union," Problems of Post-Communism, Vol. 47, November/December 2000, pp. 39-51.
[16] European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument, "Support to Integrated Border Management Systems in the South Caucasus (SCIBM)," European Commission, undated, www.enpi-info.eu; "OSCE helps Georgian Border Guards to better patrol the border," Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Mission to Georgia, 27 June 2003, www.osce.org.
[17] Alexei Breus and Ann MacLachlan,"Georgia mulling constructing nuclear plant with Areva's help," Nucleonics Week, 21 June 2007; Mze TV (Tbilisi), "Georgia sets up commission to study feasibility of building nuclear plant," BBC Monitoring Trans Caucasus Unit, 16 August 2007.
[18] Nuclear Energy Agency, "Nuclear Legislation in Central and Eastern Europe and the NIS: 2003 Overview," Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, p. 82, www.oecd-nea.org.
[19] Office of U.S. Senator Richard Lugar, "The Lugar Trip Report," August 2004, www.lugar.senate.gov.
[20] The Biological Threat Reduction Program of the Department of Defense: From Foreign Assistance to Sustainable Partnerships (Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2007), p. 32; Jim Nichol, "Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia: Security Issues and Implications for U.S. Interests," Congressional Research Service, 14 January 2009, www.fas.org.
[21] Cooperative Threat Reduction Annual Report to Congress, Fiscal Year 2006. Information Cutoff Date: December 31, 2006, www.ransac.org; "Implementation of the Biological Threat Reduction Program (BTRP) in Georgia," Ministry of Defence of Georgia, 8 June 2006, www.mod.gov.ge.
[22] Jeffrey Soares, U.S. Army Medicine, "The Birth of a Laboratory," June 2012, www.army.mil.
[23] Daily News Online, "U.S. funded 100 million bio lab opens in Tbilisi," March 2011, www.civil.ge.
[24] Dfwatch Staff, "Tiblisi's new biolab to be owned by the NCDC," Defense and Freedom Watch, 10 May 2013, www.dfwatch.com.
[25] Centers for Disease Prevention, "Defense Threat Reduction Agency and Electronic Integrated Disease Surveillance Systems," November 2012, www.cdc.gov.

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Glossary

Radioactive waste
Radioactive waste: Materials which are radioactive and for which there is no further use.
Nonproliferation
Nonproliferation: Measures to prevent the spread of biological, chemical, and/or nuclear weapons and their delivery systems. See entry for Proliferation.
Export control
National laws or international arrangements established to restrict the sale of certain goods to certain countries, or to ensure that safeguards or end-use guarantees are applied to the export and sale of sensitive and dual-use technologies and materials. See entry for Dual-use
Nuclear weapon
Nuclear weapon: A device that releases nuclear energy in an explosive manner as the result of nuclear chain reactions involving fission, or fission and fusion, of atomic nuclei. Such weapons are also sometimes referred to as atomic bombs (a fission-based weapon); or boosted fission weapons (a fission-based weapon deriving a slightly higher yield from a small fusion reaction); or hydrogen bombs/thermonuclear weapons (a weapon deriving a significant portion of its energy from fusion reactions).
Chemical Weapon (CW)
The CW: The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons defines a chemical weapon as any of the following: 1) a toxic chemical or its precursors; 2) a munition specifically designed to deliver a toxic chemical; or 3) any equipment specifically designed for use with toxic chemicals or munitions. Toxic chemical agents are gaseous, liquid, or solid chemical substances that use their toxic properties to cause death or severe harm to humans, animals, and/or plants. Chemical weapons include blister, nerve, choking, and blood agents, as well as non-lethal incapacitating agents and riot-control agents. Historically, chemical weapons have been the most widely used and widely proliferated weapon of mass destruction.
Biological weapon (BW)
Biological weapons use microorganisms and natural toxins to produce disease in humans, animals, or plants.  Biological weapons can be derived from: bacteria (anthrax, plague, tularemia); viruses (smallpox, viral hemorrhagic fevers); rickettsia (Q fever and epidemic typhus); biological toxins (botulinum toxin, staphylococcus enterotoxin B); and fungi (San Joaquin Valley fever, mycotoxins). These agents can be deployed as biological weapons when paired with a delivery system, such as a missile or aerosol device.
Research reactor
Research reactor: Small fission reactors designed to produce neutrons for a variety of purposes, including scientific research, training, and medical isotope production. Unlike commercial power reactors, they are not designed to generate power.
Spent nuclear fuel
Spent nuclear fuel: Irradiated nuclear fuel. Once irradiated, nuclear fuel is highly radioactive and extremely physically hot, necessitating special remote handling. Fuel is considered “self protecting” if it is sufficiently radioactive that those who might seek to divert it would not be able to handle it directly without suffering acute radiation exposure.
Fissile material
Fissile material: A type of fissionable material capable of sustaining a chain reaction by undergoing fission upon the absorption of low-energy (or thermal) neutrons. Uranium-235, Plutonium-239, and Uranium-233 are the most prominently discussed fissile materials for peaceful and nuclear weapons purposes.
Enriched uranium
Enriched uranium: Uranium with an increased concentration of the isotope U-235, relative to natural uranium. Natural uranium contains 0.7 percent U-235, whereas nuclear weapons typically require uranium enriched to very high levels (see the definitions for “highly enriched uranium” and “weapons-grade”). Nuclear power plant fuel typically uses uranium enriched to 3 to 5 percent U-235, material that is not sufficiently enriched to be used for nuclear weapons.
Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT)
The NPT: Signed in 1968, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) is the most widely adhered-to international security agreement. The “three pillars” of the NPT are nuclear disarmament, nonproliferation, and peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Article VI of the NPT commits states possessing nuclear weapons to negotiate in good faith toward halting the arms race and the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. The Treaty stipulates that non-nuclear-weapon states will not seek to acquire nuclear weapons, and will accept International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards on their nuclear activities, while nuclear weapon states commit not to transfer nuclear weapons to other states. All states have a right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and should assist one another in its development. The NPT provides for conferences of member states to review treaty implementation at five-year intervals. Initially of a 25-year duration, the NPT was extended indefinitely in 1995. For additional information, see the NPT.
Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT)
The CTBT: Opened for signature in 1996 at the UN General Assembly, the CTBT prohibits all nuclear testing if it enters into force. The treaty establishes the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) to ensure the implementation of its provisions and verify compliance through a global monitoring system upon entry into force. Pending the treaty’s entry into force, the Preparatory Commission of the CTBTO is charged with establishing the International Monitoring System (IMS) and promoting treaty ratifications. CTBT entry into force is contingent on ratification by 44 Annex II states. For additional information, see the CTBT.
Additional Protocol
The Additional Protocol is a legal document granting the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) complementary inspection authority to that provided in underlying safeguards agreements. The principal aim is to enable the IAEA inspectorate to provide assurance about both declared and possible undeclared activities. Under the Protocol, the IAEA is granted expanded rights of access to information and sites, as well as additional authority to use the most advanced technologies during the verification process. See entry for Information Circular 540.
Low enriched uranium (LEU)
Low enriched uranium (LEU): Refers to uranium with a concentration of the isotope U-235 that is higher than that found in natural uranium but lower than 20% LEU (usually 3 to 5%). LEU is used as fuel for many nuclear reactor designs.
Weapons-grade material
Weapons-grade material: Refers to the nuclear materials that are most suitable for the manufacture of nuclear weapons, e.g., uranium (U) enriched to 90 percent U-235 or plutonium (Pu) that is primarily composed of Pu-239 and contains less than 7% Pu-240. Crude nuclear weapons (i.e., improvised nuclear devices), could be fabricated from lower-grade materials.
Second Line of Defense (NNSA)
This DOE NNSA program works to prevent illicit trafficking in nuclear and radiological materials by securing international land borders, seaports and airports that may be used as smuggling routes for materials needed for a nuclear device or a radiological dispersal device. SLD has two main parts, the Core Program and the Megaports Initiative.
Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI)
The GTRI: A program established by the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration in May 2004 to identify, secure, remove, and/or facilitate the removal of vulnerable nuclear and radiological materials around the world. The GTRI incorporated, among other programs, longstanding U.S. efforts under the RERTR program to convert domestic and foreign research reactors from highly enriched uranium fuel to low-enriched uranium fuel. See entry for RERTR 
Radioactivity
Radioactivity: The spontaneous emission of radiation, generally alpha or beta particles, often accompanied by gamma rays, from the nucleus of an unstable isotope.
Export control
National laws or international arrangements established to restrict the sale of certain goods to certain countries, or to ensure that safeguards or end-use guarantees are applied to the export and sale of sensitive and dual-use technologies and materials. See entry for Dual-use
Dual-use item
An item that has both civilian and military applications. For example, many of the precursor chemicals used in the manufacture of chemical weapons have legitimate civilian industrial uses, such as the production of pesticides or ink for ballpoint pens.
Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC)
The BTWC: The Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on Their Destruction (BTWC) prohibits the development, production, or stockpiling of bacteriological and toxin weapons. Countries must destroy or divert to peaceful purposes all agents, toxins, weapons, equipment, and means of delivery within nine months after the entry into force of the convention. The BTWC was opened for signature on April 10, 1972, and entered into force on March 26, 1975. In 1994, the BTWC member states created the Ad Hoc Group to negotiate a legally binding BTWC Protocol that would help deter violations of the BTWC. The draft protocol outlines a monitoring regime that would require declarations of dual-use activities and facilities, routine visits to declared facilities, and short-notice challenge investigations. For additional information, see the BTWC.
Dual-use item
An item that has both civilian and military applications. For example, many of the precursor chemicals used in the manufacture of chemical weapons have legitimate civilian industrial uses, such as the production of pesticides or ink for ballpoint pens.
Plague
Plague: The disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis. There are three forms of plague: bubonic plague, pneumonic plague, and septicemic plague. Bubonic plague refers to infection of the lymph nodes by Y. pestis, causing black sores or “buboes,” pneumonic plague refers to infection of the lungs, and septicemic plague refers to infection of the bloodstream. Although no longer a serious public health hazard in the developed world, the bacterium can spread from person-to-person in aerosolized form, and has been investigated as a biological weapon by Japan and the Soviet Union.
Biological weapon (BW)
Biological weapons use microorganisms and natural toxins to produce disease in humans, animals, or plants.  Biological weapons can be derived from: bacteria (anthrax, plague, tularemia); viruses (smallpox, viral hemorrhagic fevers); rickettsia (Q fever and epidemic typhus); biological toxins (botulinum toxin, staphylococcus enterotoxin B); and fungi (San Joaquin Valley fever, mycotoxins). These agents can be deployed as biological weapons when paired with a delivery system, such as a missile or aerosol device.
Pathogen
Pathogen: A microorganism capable of causing disease.
Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)
The OPCW: Based in The Hague, the Netherlands, the OPCW is responsible for implementing the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). All countries ratifying the CWC become state parties to the CWC, and make up the membership of the OPCW. The OPCW meets annually, and in special sessions when necessary. For additional information, see the OPCW.
Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC)
The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) requires each state party to declare and destroy all the chemical weapons (CW) and CW production facilities it possesses, or that are located in any place under its jurisdiction or control, as well as any CW it abandoned on the territory of another state. The CWC was opened for signature on 13 January 1993, and entered into force on 29 April 1997. For additional information, see the CWC.
International Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missiles (ICOC)
ICOC: A legally non-binding arrangement that was launched with the objective of preventing and curbing the proliferation of ballistic missile systems capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction. States adhering to the ICOC agree not to assist ballistic missile programs in countries suspected of developing biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons, as well as to exhibit "restraint" in the development and testing of their own ballistic missiles. It eventually became the Hague Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missiles (HCOC). For additional information, see the HCOC.
Ballistic missile
A delivery vehicle powered by a liquid or solid fueled rocket that primarily travels in a ballistic (free-fall) trajectory.  The flight of a ballistic missile includes three phases: 1) boost phase, where the rocket generates thrust to launch the missile into flight; 2) midcourse phase, where the missile coasts in an arc under the influence of gravity; and 3) terminal phase, in which the missile descends towards its target.  Ballistic missiles can be characterized by three key parameters - range, payload, and Circular Error Probable (CEP), or targeting precision.  Ballistic missiles are primarily intended for use against ground targets.

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