What was going through your mind in the immediate weeks surrounding the
collapse of the Soviet Union?
This would be, we realized, the first time ever that a nuclear nation
disintegrated and essentially underwent revolution. So we were looking at a
scary new phenomenon. Scary in a way that was totally different from the fears
we had of a nuclear exchange during the cold war. And those of us who worked
on US nuclear command and control programs (which I had done for many years)
realized that the command and control system has lots of good technical
gimmicks in it to stop people from doing things they shouldn't do with nuclear
weapons, but at root it's a human system. It depends upon the reliability of
people. And our command and control system and the Soviet command and control
system never was designed for a revolution. It was designed for a nut here, a
nut there, a cult here, a cult there, a rogue here, a rogue there. Not for a
revolution. So no custodial system could be designed to be completely safe in
this situation. So that's what was going on in my mind as the otherwise happy
story of the demise of the Soviet Union went forward.
More importantly, that's the thinking that was going on in the minds of Senator
Sam Nunn and Senator Dick Lugar. [In] fact, Sam Nunn was in Moscow shortly
after the coup against Gorbachev. He spoke to Gorbachev. And Nunn, who knows
an awful lot about nuclear matters, particularly nuclear command and control,
recognized the problem, and came home and was very concerned. And we got
together, those of us here at Harvard, and Sam Nunn and Dick Lugar. And that
was the origin of the Nunn-Lugar program [in] 1991.
And it took two years to get it off the ground?
Yes. Originally, there was quite a bit of resistance to any assistance to the
former Soviet Union, even assistance to safeguard nuclear weapons. People
still had the cold war attitude, and they thought, "Well, these are Soviets,
and Moscow's bad, and why would you ever assist anyone from the Soviet Union?"
So in those days, the whole idea was controversial. And of course, people
didn't realize the problem. They were used to the old cold war nuclear
problem, not to the post-cold war "loose nukes" problem. So it was a hard sell
for Nunn and Lugar.
Can you describe in a broad sense what is the Nunn-Lugar program?
The Nunn-Lugar program is an effort whereby money is taken from the US Defense
budget every year and allocated to helping the states of the former Soviet
Union eliminate and safeguard nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass
destruction.... Specifically, Nunn-Lugar has many large engineering projects
throughout Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Belarus, and elsewhere. They're
helping safeguard a weapons storage site. They are helping give new research
opportunities to scientists who used to work on chemical, biological, or
nuclear weapons. They are digging up missile silos, chopping up missiles,
chopping up old bombers, helping--as in Project Sapphire--secretly to remove
fissile material from places where it shouldn't be. In all of these ways, we
are trying to contain the weapons of mass destruction legacy of the former
One of the things that critics cite, particularly with the recent economic
instability, is that with the growth of corruption and graft in Russia, we
can't be sure that a lot of our materials are in fact getting to where we mean
them to go. How do you respond to that charge?
When the Nunn-Lugar program got going, the Pentagon lawyers would come to me
frequently and wag their finger in my face and say, "If so much as one nickel
of this Nunn-Lugar funding ever gets diverted to the black market, you here in
the Pentagon will be testifying for the rest of your lives about it." And of
course this put a great chill on us. One consequence of that chill what that
in general we don't give cash out; we provide material assistance. So, for
example, in Ukraine, in order to eliminate the missiles that were in Ukraine,
we built a facility to chop up the missiles. So we can see where every nickel
of our money goes. It goes to building that facility. We're not doling out
cash. And we have a system of audits and examinations to make sure that the
money isn't diverted. And so far, there have been no diversions. Certainly
none that I'm aware of. And we've had good cooperation with our partners. But
early on, it was a very scary proposition to deal with what was a "wild west"
situation of revolution, new countries, everything up for grabs....
For me, the meaning of the Nunn-Lugar program will always be captured by the
progress at Pervomaysk, which is a place in Ukraine where the brand newest USSR
ballistic missiles had just been deployed when the USSR ended. We set out
under Nunn-Lugar to eliminate those brand new missiles. And when we first went
there, we helped with removing the warheads from the missiles. That was the
first step. Then we went back again, and we removed the missile from the silo,
the missile itself, and destroyed the missile. The third time we went back, we
blew up the silo and restored the site. And the fourth time, and the time I'll
never forget, is when Secretary of Defense Bill Perry, Russian Minister of
Defense Pavel Grachev, and Ukranian Minister of Defense Valery Shmarov, planted
sunflowers atop that place where a missile silo car[riage] holding a missile
carrying ten warheads, brand new ones, designed for us, had once been.
Instead, they planted sunflowers. This wasn't a flight of fancy. It turns
out, sunflowers is a cash crop in Ukraine, because they press the sunflowers to
make sunflower oil. But once a missile field was turn into a sunflower field,
those kind of results, that's real security for the dollar....
Did Russia come to the US and ask for help? How did that contact
The new Russian government that took over from the Soviet government was
initially itself not really aware of the "loose nukes" problem. Once the
Russian authorities woke up to the danger, they cooperated with us, and
ultimately with the governments of Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan, to make
sure all those thousands of nuclear weapons went back to Russia.
How do you do that? You've got somebody who's been your enemy for 50 years,
and you're going to say, "Hey guys, where are your nukes?" How do you open
We had to deal in a totally new way with the Russian government, and also with
the Ukranian government, which was a brand new government, had never governed
before. They had never had any international relations before. The crucial
thing for dealing with the Ukranian government was to convince the Ukrainians
of what we were convinced of, namely that they would be better off without
nuclear weapons but with the international community on their side as they
tried to build a new state, than if they kept nuclear weapons, in which case we
and no one else in the international community could support them. So better
off to have no nuclear weapons and friends, than nuclear weapons and no
Now, to make that convincing, you can't just preach at them. You have to help
them build a concept of their own security that they can believe in. That's
why we got the US military working with the Ukranian military, with purely
conventional weapons, to help the Ukranian military stand up on its own feet,
be proud, and feel that it could protect its own country without nuclear
weapons. We also had to, through the Nunn-Lugar program, assist the Ukrainians
in getting rid of their nuclear weapons. That's a costly project. It's a jobs
issue in Ukraine. Just like it's difficult to close bases in California, it's
difficult to close bases in Ukraine. People are employed there. You have to
take care of the people of the community. So all of this, we had to assist in.
So those two ingredients were crucial: first, helping Ukraine establish itself
as a European state in its own right, and secondly, materially helping them
through Nunn-Lugar to get this job done.
How did you approach the Russian military?
...Well, once again, the "loose nukes" problem is our first concern,
but it's not the first concern of the Russian military. The first concern of
the Russian military was dealing with the breakup of the Soviet Union, with its
own budget problems, with its own need for reform. So there was no way you
could deal with the nuclear problem in isolation from all the other problems
with the Russian military. So we thought it was important to have a
military-to-military relationship that was broader than Nunn-Lugar. We had
exercises where our troops and Russian troops would get together and work
together. We worked very hard to get the Russians into the Bosnian
peacekeeping force. So that we were doing things with them that really
signified the end of the cold war. And in that context, they would cooperate
with us on the loose nukes issue. But it was way at the top of our list. But
you can understand why, for Russians, it was not at the top of their list....
In broad terms, how did you convince them that this was in their
interest--or convince our military? I can't imagine that our military would
have been any more interested in joining with former enemies in order to create
peace. It seems like you had bureaucratic inertia operating against you on all
sides. How did you overcome that?
Well, when we started the Nunn-Lugar program, it seemed like everyone was
against us. People in Congress said, "How can you be helping the former Soviet
Union?" People in the former Soviet Union were still mistrustful of us, and we
had to build new relations with them. In the Pentagon, who were supposed to
execute the program, no one had ever worked with these states. They were the
enemy. The Pentagon has difficulty, as you know, buying airplanes in
California and computers in Massachusetts. You know about the toilet seats
that cost too much, and so forth. That's the fabled Pentagon acquisition
system. Now, take that acquisition system to Pervomaysk, Ukraine, and give it
a program there. Well, that was a very big challenge. So both in Congress and
in the states we were trying to assist, and in the Pentagon itself, there were
barriers to implementing the Nunn-Lugar program. They all had to be
At what point did you sense a shift in the Russians' thinking --because you
said initially they weren't worried about loose nukes--from more self-absorbed
to wanting to cooperate?
Well, initially when we suggested there was a danger of loose nukes, the
Russians responded very proudly. And they said, "We have had nuclear weapons
for 50 years. We've never made a mistake yet. It is insulting to us to imply
that we might lose control of them." And we tried to make the argument to them
that this was no insult, that most of their custodians would of course behave
properly, but there were bad apples in every barrel. There were bad apples at
our barrels here in the United States, as well. But for the first time, their
arsenal was put under [the] stress of economic collapse--I wouldn't trust in
those circumstances either. So it was no insult to them to be concerned about
this. Once they understood that we were not accusing them or insulting them,
that was a very important step.
Secondly, we were offering to assist them to improve the situation. We were
offering essentially material, money, and help. And that tends to help people...focus their attention, as well.
...Initially the Russian military resisted acknowledging the danger of loose
nukes. But over time, we worked with them on so many projects in Ukraine,
Kazakhstan, Belarus, and also in Russia, that their trust in our good will and
their knowledge that we were not insulting them, grew. So our relationship
with the Russian military, between the Department of Defense of the United
States and the Ministry of Defense of Russia, is very good. And we have very
good programs to combat loose nukes there.
The difficulty has been between the US authorities and the Atomic Energy
Ministry of Russia. There, we've never created the same relationship of mutual
confidence. And so we have many more programs under Nunn-Lugar to safeguard
weapons, bombs, than we do with the Ministry of Atomic Energy to safeguard
fissile materials. And in the coming era, this new era we're going into, the
second post-cold war era, where we have to put our energies is on the fissile
materials, not just the bombs.
Minatom is like our Department of Energy. Why is there more mistrust there
than there is in their Ministry of Defense?
The US government began establishing its relations with the Russian military
earlier than it began establishing relations with the Atomic Energy Ministry of
Russia, and therefore we've made more progress. Moreover, we have lots of
other common interests with the Russian military. Our troops and Russian
troops are shoulder to shoulder in Bosnia today. So there were other things
helping us build a relationship with the Russian military. The Russian Atomic
Energy Ministry is something of a throw-back, in western terms at least. It is
still working in a way that our Atomic Energy Commission was in the 1950s and
1960s....They're working on projects that we have regarded as either
dangerous from a proliferation point of view, or not economically sound...,
for example, breeder reactors. So the Russian Atomic Energy Ministry, there's
more of a mismatch between them and us than between the Russian military and
the US military....
Well, in addition to solving the "loose nukes" problem, the other principle job
we thought we had in dealing with the collapse of the Soviet Union was to
establish a good cooperative relationship with the Russian military, because we
knew that political leaders might come and go; there might be good political
leaders, bad political leaders, ones we liked, ones we didn't like. This was a
country in revolution. It's still a country in revolution. None of us knows
who the next president of Russia will be. And the Russian military as an
institution would be there, whoever was in power. And it was important to our
security, which they could threaten, that the Russian military have some
confidence in the US military, and in the idea that we really had put the cold
war behind us and didn't regard them as an enemy--and moreover, not only didn't
regard them as an enemy, but wanted to cooperate with them in areas such as
peacekeeping in Bosnia. So military-to-military contacts and the relationship
between the post-cold war militaries is one of the most important things we can
And Nunn-Lugar is also paying for that?
Yes. Nunn-Lugar has contributed to military-to-military contacts also.
As economic instability in Russia worsens, I'm picking up a sense that the
Russians have that imperialist Americans are coming over and spending all this
money. Most of the money is going to American defense companies, not to
Russia. I understand it's easier for us to track it that way. But how do we
escape this notion that there might be an increasing backlash from the Russians
against the US?
Well, there's no question [that] there's an increasing backlash in Russia
against the United States, and that we're entering the second post-cold war
era, very different from the first. In the first post-cold war era, by and
large, Russia and the United States were euphoric about their new partnership.
And they had an overwhelming common objective, which was to eliminate the past,
the cold war legacy. And that, they set out to do together, arm in arm.
As time went on, it developed that their interests coincided in that venture
but not everywhere. And you can see that we've had disagreements in Kosovo
with the Russians. We've had disagreements in Iraq with the Russians. And
generally speaking, the Russians understandably feel that because of their
current economic circumstances, they're not getting as much respect in the
world, and not able to play as large a role in the world as they once were.
That's a reality. And we need to recognize that reality if we're going to
continue to have Nunn-Lugar-like cooperation with Russia.
So I believe that the Nunn-Lugar program needs to be re-invented; that it was
the right thing for the first post-cold war era, and its objectives remain
right for the second post-cold war era, but we're going to have to do things in
a different way. And we're going to have to do things in a way that is
acceptable to our Russian partners, because it's their country and these are
their materials, not ours. So we need their cooperation, and we're going to
have to meet them halfway.
What would that mean, in real terms?
It means giving Russians a greater role in project design, in project
selection. Doesn't mean giving them cash. Of course they'd like to have cash.
We'd all like to have cash. But we're talking about joint projects like in the
first Nunn-Lugar era, but giving them a greater role, a greater say, and not
just coming over with our money and our programs and saying, "Hey look, this is
the way it's going to be." They have pride. It's their country. They have
views that we should listen to.
more about carter...
What is the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program?
It's an umbrella program now that encompasses a host of ways in which the
leftovers from the cold war are either destroyed or controlled. That means
nuclear weapons. Missiles are dismantled. Warheads are dismantled. The
fissile material from the warheads is stored safely.
But likewise, the chemicals: 40 million tons, we are told, that both Russia and
the United States in the Chemical Weapons Convention have agreed to destroy.
Russians haven't made much progress. So there, the question is: How do you
keep it secure? How do you work with them, even in marginal ways, to start the
And biological warfare. Not really admitted until fairly recently. But Sam
Nunn and I have now met with 13 directors. We visited one plant where anthrax
and plague and other elements were being produced, and where people under the
Nunn-Lugar program are now producing antidotes and working with American
scientists and American firm.
So Nunn-Lugar covers all of this. It's an umbrella program, and this year it
will cover many more facets that we discover. It includes the transportation
of fissile material, a very tough problem, as we've found in our country all by
itself, quite apart from its storage. Cleanups of various sorts that are
horrendous, where things were handled without money in a very slapdash fashion.
And finally, I suppose, it offers a forum in which our Secretary of Defense
meets with the comparable person in Russia--or our President or our
Vice-President Al Gore, in the Gore-Chernomyrdin meetings....
It sounds as if the US is paying to demilitarize the former Soviet
We are paying money to demilitarize that country. And that's often a question
raised by members of the Congress or general public. They would say, "The
Russians made a mess of it. They've got this 40,000 metric tons of chemicals
sitting over there. Let them pay to get rid of it." Good idea. At the same
time we have reports that the Russians have defaulted on major obligations,
that the country is literally in bankruptcy, that there is no budget, that the
military budget is there technically, but in fact it's not fulfilled, and that
most of it is used for pensions, for officers that are leaving, or for the most
rudimentary tasks. So as a practical matter, how are the 40,000 metric tons
going to be destroyed? How will any of these Blackjacks be destroyed, or
Typhoon submarines? How will anything be stored safely? Once again, Americans
will say, "Well, that's their problem." But in this world in which we live, of
course, it's the problem of the world.
These are horrendous acts that have been taken during a long period of cold
war. The remedies are not inexpensive. And the questions that we have been
raising for the last eight years are: Is it worth a fairly small amount of
American money to somehow bring discipline and order and priority to Russians,
who understand the danger but simply do not have the means, and I don't think
will have the means for the foreseeable future?
...We are helping to pay for the Russians to demilitarize. That's in our
security, so that these missiles are no longer aimed at us. The warheads are
dismantled, and the fissile material under control. But I would just point out
that 84 percent of these payments go to Americans: American firms, American
contractors, American jobs. In other words, there is a myth that somehow money
is being transferred to Russians to do their work. But as a matter of fact,
the control of the situation is with our Department of Defense and American
Now, the other 16 percent are subcontracts to Russian firms or to others by
American firms. For example, submarine dismantlement, we believe, can best be
done by the Russians at Sevmash, as they take apart the Typhoon. Now, it's
under very strict supervision of American contractors, but as a matter of fact,
a Russian shipyard is destroying Delta I's, Delta III's, and ultimately
Now, there is still the problem of: Why should the United States be involved
in this? Why not others? And that's a good point. And our diplomacy has
interested others in various facets of the Nunn-Lugar program. As a matter of
fact, one part dealing with how do you get Russian scientists to do something
else? And 17,000 Russian scientists are now under contract of this
International Scientific and Technical Corporation that was started under
Nunn-Lugar....Their allegiance is to us. Now I make that point because
even while we were in Sevmash, the Russian shipyard, there was debate as to
orders from the Russian government to build more submarines. And they were
saying, "There is no money coming from Moscow to build more submarines. There's
not going to be any money. Our money is coming from the Nunn-Lugar program,
from the Americans, to dismantle submarines." That might not always be the
case, but it is now, in this window of opportunity....
We can't be sure our cash payments to these scientists are doing what we say
they're doing. They may still be helping the Iraqis or the Iranians or North
Korea. How do we know the money is spent the way we intend?
...There is no absolute assurance that, in fact, a scientific mind, a creative
mind that could contrive all these things to begin with, is doing precisely
what we hope, and nothing more. But the fact is that the track record is that
Russian scientists really want to continue to work in Russia. They don't want
to work in Iraq or Iran or North Korea, although the opportunities have been
Anecdotally, I have talked to these scientists, and I've just been curious.
What kind of offers do you get? Or how do people approach you? They have been
sometimes very candid in pointing out what were unacceptable offers to them.
This is not totally reassuring, because to make the opponent's point, the
approaches are being made. Every country in the world would like to have some
of the technology that Russia that has developed, and are willing to pay for
it, are willing to transport the persons, the human minds that might work in
some synergy with nationals. So that is going to be an ongoing problem for us
as long as we live.
But I would think that the affirmative case is that...there is something
about the United States' technology--our production, our laboratories--that is
very important to these people. As a matter of fact, many are now traveling to
the United States. They would like, I suspect, to sell Russian laboratories to
United States firms, to merge, in terms of their own scientific careers. The
"back and forth" of this is critically important at this time, in a Russia that
is totally impoverished in terms of capital and risk capital. And these very
talented people understand that. They're working for bankrupt situations. In
America, there is the Mecca of technology, the developments in which their
ideas might have some fruition. So we have a lot going for us because of the
country we are, because of the prosperity that we have, and the dynamic
developments. This is attractive to Russians, as it is to almost anyone else
in the world.
General Dvorkin last week said that one thing that changed the atmosphere
between the countries were the visits of military officers of each country. Is
that part of Nunn-Lugar as well?
Yes, it is. And it's a very important point that the General has made, because
the politics inside Russia or Ukraine or what have you, as well as in our own
country, have been up and down. We constantly have periods in which our
relations with each of these countries warm, and then they cool, and they go
back and forth. The military people have been on a very constant course. They
have understood mutually the danger. So as the politicians have come and gone,
there has been a remarkable stability....
Has it been a hard sell to our Congress? Many Republicans don't want to
trust the Russians.
I would not characterize it as a hard sell, or we would not have had
significant majorities whenever tests have come. And they have come
frequently....I think, as the program has been explained (and we've tried to
do this often one-on-one with members of the House and the Senate), people have
understood that the Russians have cheated, lied, and stealed from time to time,
that duplicitous government has abounded, that there are no assurances that
that could not occur again. On the other hand, we also understand that we are
in the process of seeing dismantlement, as we already have, of 4,800 warheads
that were aimed at us, any one of which could have destroyed a major city.
Hundreds of missiles, missile carriers, hardware....
General Odom insists that, given the economic collapse and rampant growth of
organized crime in Russia, there really is no way to know that any of the money
you're sending over there is going to go where you want it to go. He says the
Russians are scaring us to death with these stories, we're falling for it, and
they're getting paid out of it. How would you respond?
The economic desperation does lead to a lot of pilferage and maladministration.
But in the serious efforts in the Nunn-Lugar program which we've been involved,
there have been three complete audits, as I understand, by GAO of every dollar.
There have been 70 audits of specific projects. We keep an eye on this very
carefully, because the integrity of the program is of the essence. I've
mentioned 84 percent of the money goes to American contractors. They have a
problem with the IRS, quite apart from DOD, if they're not on the ball. And
then, fortunately, the facilities have been opened up to people like myself, to
actually see what is occurring or has occurred. In other words, there's a
track record of the missiles destroyed and the warheads dismantled and the
plutonium stored. And you can verify that. We have military people in Russia
who do this all the time, who travel these sites regularly with the Department
of Defense, Department of Energy....These are very highly controlled
situations, and they ought to be....
Early on and even now, Nunn-Lugar money has been used to build housing for
Strategic Rocket Forces personnel. Why?
Well, in the case of the Strategic Rocket Force people, the agreements in which
housing becomes a part were the quid pro quo for moving the missiles. I can
remember very specifically in Belarus, for example. And mercifully, we got
that one behind us before the government of Belarus changed in strange ways.
Essentially, there was no particular objection to moving those missiles out of
Belarus back into Russia, except for the fact that the people who lived around
those missiles had very good housing. And in order to retain the housing, they
were prepared to retain the missiles. This is sort of a strange tail-and-dog
story, but it was very serious. So as a part of the negotiations, in order to
get the missiles moved, we had to also literally move the housing, or construct
housing elsewhere, somewhere other than this base that we wanted to see closed
for the sake of our security. And so this does leads to questions in Congress.
Why is a single house being built for a Belarusian when Atlanta, Georgia needs
houses, or what have you? A good question....In a sophisticated way,
though, you finally come down to the fact that we're talking once again about
Department of Defense in this case, about military security. This is a way of
ensuring our security, or allaying a potential attack upon us. I think people
understand that after it's all spelled out, but not initially. Whenever
housing is mentioned, red flags go up in the Congress....
On the scale of threats that the US faces from the former Soviet Union, what
concerns you the most?
Well, earlier the tactical nuclear problem was paramount....Now, that is a
threat that miraculously has been contained. Over 30,000 of these weapons were
rounded up--we think, almost every one of them. And they're in storage....And some of them have been dismantled.
The real threat is always the unknown. I mean, the potential for the stealing
of material is always there with desperate people, if the security is not
adequate. Some of the facilities (and I shall not name them) that I saw in
November appear to me to have inadequate security. This is not because the
Russians haven't thought about it, but once again, it costs money. And the
pleas of the people in these facilities...[are], "How can we secure this
place? How much money can you devote to making sure that even as we dismantle
or we defuse or whatever we're doing, we're going to be able to hold this
Another thing, Nunn-Lugar has provided for a computer system in which literally
the Russians are able to record wherever they [are]. That might seem
rudimentary in this country, but the Russians always tells us eleven times,
"Oh, it's a big country." And we've found, in fact, a lot of records being
kept in pen and ink at various places. Now, this is important in terms of the
accounting of this stuff, because how would you know if you were missing a few
pounds of highly enriched uranium, if you really didn't know how much you had
to begin with, where it is, if there are no testing of the system, no
accounting? Americans would say, "Well, why do we have to provide a computer
system to Russians so they can do their own accounting?" Well, because it's
important to us to know where it is, too, and how much, and what is missing--if
something was missing.
more about lugar...
You were an advocate for the Cooperative Threat Reduction program?
Yes, yes....I would go in and buy the whole Russian nuclear establishment,
whatever it cost. If we could do it, that would be the greatest bargain we
ever had....I think Senators Nunn and Lugar really came up with something
important here. Yes. If the Russians aren't going to spend enough money to
protect their nuclear establishment from being bought or sold or stolen, we
want to help them do that, because it's in our interest in the long run. So I
think that was a very foresighted program. I think we should be putting more
money into it today, because we're getting more and more reports that there
isn't the security that's needed over there.
One of the great benefits of my concept of strategic escrow is that it puts our
inspectors over there, our observers. And if the observers, who are just
counting what goes into Russian storage, happen to see there is no padlock on
the door, they'll say to the Russians, "You need a padlock," and the Russians
will say, "I can't afford it," and the American will say, "Here it is." I
mean, then we'll really know we're getting our money's worth.
more about turner...
We by and large have taken an approach of job owning and giving the Russians
money. Even handling their own money and their own budgets, they can't get the
money from the Defense Ministry to the firms to purchase equipment. They send
money out to pay for food in the fleet in the Far East, and the officers steal
it and the soldiers starve. Now, if that's the administrative reality, why do
we think that giving them large amounts of money to do certain things with
their nuclear weapons will lead to them doing those things? And I think, if
you probably interviewed people who've had a lot of hands-on experience in that
regard, you'd find stories that tend to...confirm my suspicions about what
happens to the money and how much result you really get for that kind of an
You've talked to people with that hands-on experience?
My knowledge of that is, by and large, rumor and second hand, but the stories
I've heard suggest that indeed the top level officials in the military and in
the Ministry of Energy, which handles nuclear power plants and the production
of fissile materials and this sort of business, are more interested in stealing
the money than they are solving the problem. And again and again, Americans
are tending to be frustrated, because they go in and offer what seems to be a
program that will help fiscally the people involved, including the minister or
whoever his deputy is that's handling this, but they don't want to take that
package, even though it may be in their own best interest. They are greedy
about it. They want to take it all and rip it off. But again, this is purely
impressionistic rumor. I can't confirm that from first-hand observation. But
it certainly squares with everything I discovered in my research on the
dissolution of the Soviet military, its collapse from 1985 through 1992. I
would be terribly surprised if it were otherwise. I mean, I think any
bureaucracy which has its traditional sources of income and resources cut off
will begin to behave in very bizarre and self-serving ways....
Senator Lugar maintains that it is in Americans' national security interest
to give them money to help them stabilize this situation. Do you
If the ends that Senator Lugar seeks can be achieved in this manner, clearly
that's right....The question I'm raising is whether those means can achieve
those ends. I think he's more optimistic about it than I am. I'm not prepared
to say that they'll have no effect whatsoever. I would cite one great
achievement of Nunn-Lugar monies, and that was resources which allowed the
Secretary of Defense to negotiate between Ukraine and Russia and the other
nuclear powers, Kazakhstan and Belarus, to withdraw their strategic nuclear
weapons back into Russia. I think that was a considerable achievement. But
that's quite different from getting the submarines cleaned up in the Barents
[Sea] and in the Far East, their power packages. It's quite different from
going out and checking these several thousands of tactical nuclear weapons--I'm
not sure even the Russians know where they all are--and tracking all that down.
more about odom...
Former General Bill Odom told me he thought the Russians were just scaring
us with all of this talk about loose nukes, not being able to dismantle their
weapons on time, not knowing where stuff is, and we're buying into it. They're
just suckering us out of our money.
Utter nonsense from beginning to end. Number one, the Russians, rather than
telling us about these problems, largely try to deny all of these problems, and
often make the argument that their material is much more secure and their
weapons particularly are much more secure than US people have been saying. And
they went out of their way, for example, to show General Habifer a nuclear
warhead storage site and to convince him that the nuclear warheads were secure.
What we're relying on in thinking about the security of Russian nuclear
material is not simply what the Russians tell us, but what American experts
have seen on the ground at individual facilities. And that provides us with a
wealth of information that was never available before about what the specific
situation at individual facilities is. And we really have quite a lot of that
information available now to make judgments about what the real situation is on
the ground. I've seen for myself facilities where, you know, highly enriched
uranium was in basically a high school gym locker with an ordinary padlock....Or facilities where the fence around the area where the plutonium and highly
enriched uranium was, was still being built. Facilities where they have
literally tens of thousands of little stealable disks--you could slip about ten
of them into your coat pocket--made of plutonium or highly enriched uranium,
that they didn't even have a good list of what was in each of those disks,
exactly how many of those disks there were, which ones were really plutonium
and highly enriched uranium, and which ones were just aluminum or something of
that nature. And that's one of the things, for example, that's being done now
cooperatively, is to tag every single one of those tens of thousands of disks:
give it a little bar code, measure it, see how much stuff is in it, and make
sure that they're all not only secure but also accounted for.
more about bunn...