2002 Workshop on Russian Nuclear Regionalism and US Policy

April 5, 2002

Workshop on Russian Nuclear Regionalism Participants 1

Left to right: Amb. Linton Brooks (NNSA), Leonard Spector (CNS)
Gen. (Ret.) Thomas Kuenning (DTRA), and Oleg Novikov (Russian Embassy)

Topic: Russian Nuclear Regionalism and Challenges for US Nonproliferation Assistance Programs

On April 5, 2002, the Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) at the Monterey Institute of International Studies held the workshop in Washington, DC. The meeting marked the conclusion of a two-year study devoted to regional dimensions of nuclear safety and security in Russia conducted by CNS in cooperation with the Moscow-based Center for Policy Studies in Russia (PIR Center), along with experts from several other organizations. Over 70 people participated in the April 5 workshop, including senior officials from the US Departments of Energy, State, and Defense, foreign diplomats, Congressional staff, representatives of the General Accounting Office, analysts from a number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and journalists.

At the meeting, members of the research team presented their findings regarding regional nuclear issues and provided recommendations aimed at improving the effectiveness of future US nonproliferation assistance programs focusing on regional facilities. The researchers’ case studies cited extensively from regional media as well as interviews with officials and analysts in the following five federal districts: the Russian Northwest, the Volga region, the Urals, Siberia, and the Far East. At the workshop, the discussion focused on the regional causes of control problems at civilian and military facilities housing nuclear materials, including the influence of regional governments and economic actors on decision-making at the local level, as well as the impact of organized crime.

An introductory segment of the workshop covered overarching issues related to center-periphery relations under President Vladimir Putin.

Workshop on Russian Nuclear Regionalism Participants 2

Left to right: Sonia Ben Ouagrham (CNS), Elena Sokova (CNS)
Jon Wolfsthal (Carnegie Endowment), and Gregory Brock (Georgia Southern University).

The three sessions examined:

  1. The role of Minatom and the status of conditions in the closed nuclear cities.
  2. The role of the military and the status of nuclear safety on regional military bases.
  3. The status of US nonproliferation assistance programs in Russia’s regions.

Summary Papers


While the speakers agreed that Putin’s federal reforms in 2000 have weakened regional independence movements and established stronger central political controls, they also noted that the economic and regulatory disarray within the nuclear complex remains. This uncertainty creates conditions permitting extensive negative regional influences on the operation of nuclear facilities, including power shortages, high crime and drug abuse rates, local political corruption, environmental problems, and other factors. Speakers argued that regional facilities represent the weakest link in the protection of sensitive nuclear assets and will require further attention from both Moscow and foreign assistance providers. According to Margot Mininni from the Department of Energy’s Nuclear Cities Initiative, these conditions and the complex economic and political factors behind them provide “challenging waters” through which assistance programs must navigate.

Panel Discussion

On the final panel, the Department of Energy’s Linton Brooks, head of defense nuclear nonproliferation at the National Nuclear Security Administration, spoke of the shared concern Russia and the United States have in safeguarding fissile material after September 11 and the close cooperation that has stemmed from the new strategic relationship between the two sides. He also noted the very favorable support of Congress for these initiatives. Gen. (ret.) Thomas Kuenning, director of the Pentagon’s Cooperative Threat Reduction Directorate, echoed these remarks and noted US progress in fulfilling its four lead objectives in Russia.

US lead objectives in Russia:

  1. Weapons elimination
  2. Securing nuclear weapons
  3. Increasing transparency
  4. Promoting military-to-military contacts to prevent proliferation

Russian Embassy representative Oleg Novikov said that warmer relations between the United States and Russia after the September 11 attacks had helped facilitate cooperative efforts to secure nuclear weapons and fissile materials, but that more work remains. He expressed hope that new non-governmental programs like the Nuclear Threat Initiative might be able to fill the gap in addressing some areas (such as housing for military officers and conversion of facilities) where government funding has been limited. The panelists reviewed major current assistance programs and discussed prospects for their expansion.

Workshop on Russian Nuclear Regionalism Participants 3

Left to right: Michael Jasinski (CNS), Cristina Chuen (CNS)
Clay Moltz (CNS), Ivan Safranchuk (CDI, Moscow office)


Analysts from CNS and the PIR Center will be updating and finalizing their studies in the next few months—based on comments at the meeting—for inclusion in a book manuscript (Nuclear Regionalism in Russia: Managing Fissile Material and the Weapons Complex under the New Federalism) to be published next year.


8:30-8:40 Introduction and Opening Remarks Dr. Clay Moltz, CNS
8:40-9:00 Key Actors in Russian Center-Periphery Relations Dr. Vladimir Orlov, PIR Center
9:00-9:20 Current Politics of Regionalism in Russia Dr. Adam Stulberg, Georgia Institute of Technology
Session One Chair: Jon Wolfsthal, Carnegie Endowment
9:20-9:40 Minatom’s Regional Policy (and Nuclear Issues at the Federal Level) Dr. Sonia Ben Ouagrham, CNS
9:40-10:00 Economic Status of the Closed Cities Dr. Gregory Brock, Georgia Southern University
10:00-10:20 The Closed Nuclear Cities: Federal Control vs. Local and Regional Influences Elena Sokova, CNS
10:20-10:40 Implementation of the NCI Program in Russia’s Closed Cities Margot Mininni, U.S. Department of Energy
10:40-11:00 Discussion
11:00-11: 15 Coffee Break
Session Two Chair: Dr. Clay Moltz, CNS
11:15-11:35 The Military and Russia’s Regions Michael Jasinski, CNS
11:35-11:55 Russia’s Northwest: Problems and Achievements at Military Facilities Ivan Safranchuk, CDI, Moscow Office
11:55-12:15 Russia’s Far East: Problems and Achievements at Military Facilities Cristina Chuen, CNS
12:15-12:30 Discussion
12:30-12:45 Lunch (Buffet)
Session Three Chair: Leonard Spector, CNS
12:45-1:05 Status of DOE Programs in Russia Amb. Linton Brooks, U.S. Department of Energy
1:05-1:25 U.S. Implementation of CTR Programs in Russia’s Regions Gen. Thomas Kuenning, U.S. Defense Department
1:25-1:45 Russian View on U.S. CTR and DOE Programs Oleg Novikov, Russian Embassy
1:45-2:00 Discussion

CNS thanks the Smith Richardson Foundation for a grant in support of this project, as well as the following foundations for general support of its programs in the newly independent states: the Carnegie Corporation, the Ford Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the John Merck Fund, the Prospect Hill Fund, and the Scherman Foundation.

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