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Bicentennial Partnership: Nuclear Cooperation

Bicentennial Partnerships reflect American and Russian cooperation in a range of areas as part of the U.S. Embassy Moscow's commemoration of the 200th Anniversary of U.S. - Russia Diplomatic Relations.

Non-Proliferation: Challenges and Successes

Nuclear cooperation between the United States and Russia began in 1991 with the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program. This cooperation has continued and deepened. Today the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and U.S. national laboratories work with Rosatom, Rostekhnadzor, and the Russian Academy of Sciences in a wide range of cooperative programs and initiatives. In the broadest sense these programs are designed to:

  • Secure nuclear material, nuclear weapons, and radiological materials as well as to reduce the quantities of weapons grade nuclear materials and hazardous radiological materials;
  • Mitigate risks at nuclear facilities and downsize the nuclear weapons infrastructure
  • Enhance the capability to detect weapons of mass destruction, nuclear materials, and terrorist threats;
  • Increase nuclear safety and regulatory capabilities.
  • Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program

    Cooperation between the United States and Russia on nuclear non-proliferation is strong. To address the WMD threat in the former Soviet Union, the United States has invested heavily in the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program and other related, critically important U.S.-Russia cooperative efforts. Since enactment in late 1991, these programs have provided American technical expertise and over $9 billion for cooperative projects to safeguard and destroy WMD and related materials, technology, and infrastructure and to prevent the proliferation of WMD expertise. As of February 2007, the United States and Russia have jointly deactivated and destroyed: 6,312 nuclear warheads; 537 ICBMs; 459 ICBM silos, and 708 nuclear air-to-surface missiles. We have also provided security upgrades for hundreds of tons of fissile material and several dozen processing and storage sites which contain weapons-grade nuclear material.

    U.S.-Russia Highly Enriched Unranium Agreement

    Formally known as the Agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Russian Federation Concerning the Disposition of Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) from Nuclear Weapons, the 1993 HEU Agreement is one of the most important instruments for cooperation between our two governments. Under the HEU Agreement, the Russian Federation agreed to process 500 metric tons of HEU extracted from dismantled nuclear warheads into low-enriched uranium (LEU), which is used in the United States for the peaceful purpose of generation of electricity in commercial power reactors. Thirty metric tons of Russian HEU are converted each year into LEU for use as fuel in U.S. nuclear power plants, generating approximately 10% of U.S. electricity. The agreement reached its halfway point in 2005. As of 2007, over 280 metric tons of HEU have been blended down to LEU.

    Elimination of Weapons Grade Plutonium Production

    The mission of this program is to shut down the last three remaining Russian plutonium production reactors (two at Seversk and one in Zheleznogorsk) and in their place build fossil fuel plants to generate heat and electricity. It is anticipated that one reactor in Seversk will shut down in 2007 and the second in 2008. The Zheleznogorsk reactor is expected to be shut down in 2009 or 2010.

    Material Protection Control and Accounting (MPC&A)

    MPC&A is aimed at securing nuclear weapons, nuclear materials that could be used in weapons, and radiological sources. This is done by upgrading security at nuclear sites, consolidating these materials to sites where enhanced security systems have already been installed, and improving nuclear smuggling detection capabilities at border crossings. Regulations and procedures for control, accounting, and physical protection of nuclear material are being developed as part of this program. Work related to MPC&A currently is underway at dozens of civilian and military nuclear sites.

    Russian Research Reactor Fuel Return

    The fuel used in many foreign research reactors came originally from Russia or the Soviet Union. Since 1999 the U.S., Russia, and the International Atomic Energy Agency have been working to return this fuel to Russia. Fuel has already been returned from reactors in Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Libya, Uzbekistan, the Czech Republic, Latvia, and Germany. All stockpiles of HEU in those countries have been eliminated, thereby reducing nonproliferation concerns.

    Plutonium Disposition

    The Plutonium Disposition program will dispose of 34 metric tons of weapons grade plutonium in both the U.S. and Russia. The disposition is accomplished by irradiating the plutonium in commercial nuclear power reactors, utilizing the mixed oxide fuel option. Both countries are working to reach a minimum disposition goal of two metric tons per year.

    President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands at a recent summit. White House photo by Eric Draper.

    Presidential Commitment: Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism

    On the eve of the July 2006 G8 summit meeting in St. Petersburg, Presidents Bush and Putin announced the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism.

    Both presidents expressed their commitment to combating the threat of nuclear terrorism and pursuing the necessary steps to counter this threat with other willing partner nations. Representatives from twelve nations attended the initial meeting of the Global Initiative in Rabat, Morocco, in October 2006, and a second meeting will take place in Ankara, Turkey, in February 2007. Cooperation through the initiative will include efforts to:

  • Improve accounting, control, and physical protection of nuclear material and radioactive substances, as well as security of nuclear facilities;
  • Detect and suppress illicit trafficking or other illicit activities involving such materials, especially measures to prevent their acquisition and use by terrorists;
  • Respond to and mitigate the consequences of acts of nuclear terrorism;
  • Ensure cooperation in the development of technical means to combat nuclear terrorism;
  • Ensure that states takes all possible measures to deny safe haven to terrorists seeking to acquire or use nuclear materials; and
  • Strengthen our respective national legal frameworks to ensure the effective prosecution of, and the certainty of punishment for, terrorists and those who facilitate such acts.
  • Joint Statement: The Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, July 2006.



    Nuclear Cooperation: Resources

  • United States Initiatives to Prevent Proliferation, published by the U.S. Department of State.
  • The U.S. Department of Energy provides a detailed overview of nuclear initiatives.
  • The Carnegie Center in Moscow works collaboratively to preserve Russia’s commitment to non-proliferation regimes for weapons of mass destruction and facilitate US-Russian dialogue.
  • http://cns.miis.edu/
  • The Center for Non-Proliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies provides detailed information regarding the Nunn-Lugar Act and Non-Proliferation.
  • The International Atomic Energy Association actively supports non-proliferation efforts in Russia.