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comments on the nunn-lugar program

ASHTON CARTER

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 Soviet Union....

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 begin?

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 that conversation?

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 friends.

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 overcome.

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 be doing....

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.

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SENATOR RICHARD LUGAR

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 destruction process?

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 Union.

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 firms.

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 Typhoons....

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 substantial.

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 together?"

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.

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admiral stansfield turner

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.

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SENATOR RICHARD LUGAR

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 effort.

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 disagree?

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.

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matthew bunn

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.

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