Index

Weapons of Mass Destruction: U.S. Efforts to Reduce Threats From the
Former Soviet Union (Testimony, 03/06/2000, GAO/T-NSIAD/RCED-00-119).

Pursuant to congressional, GAO discussed the U.S. programs to reduce the
threats that the former Soviet Union's weapons of mass destruction pose
to U.S. national security, focusing on: (1) GAO's overall observations
regarding these program's cost and impact; and (2) some questions for
Congress to consider in reviewing current and future budget requests for
these programs.

GAO noted that: (1) to date, Congress has authorized more than $4.7
billion for U.S. programs aimed at helping Russia and other newly
independent states reduce the threats posed by their weapons of mass
destructions; (2) the cost of implementing many of these programs is
escalating dramatically; (3) such increases are largely due Russia's
apparent inability to pay its share for these programs and to expanding
program requirements; (4) although costs are uncertain and rising,
reducing the threats posed by Russia's weapons of mass destruction is
clearly in the U.S. national interest; (5) however, conclusively
demonstrating that most these programs are having a positive impact has
proven to be very difficult; (6) on the positive side, GAO can be
relatively confident that Department of Defense (DOD) played a tangible
role in helping at least two former Soviet states meet their arms
control treaty obligations involving the destruction of missile
launchers; (7) most of these programs, however, are inherently a cost
risk in that GAO may never be able to prove that GAO achieved its
intended purpose; (8) this is because Russia's frequent reluctance to
provide the United States needed access to sensitive nuclear materials
and facilities is denying DOD the ability to confirm that the facility
will contain components from dismantled weapons; (9) similarly, GAO may
never know the extent to which its aid to unemployed former Soviet
weapons scientists is actually reducing any desire they may have to sell
their skills to countries of concern in the production of nuclear and
other weapons of mass destruction; (10) with the continuing economic
crisis in Russia, a major question that applies to all U.S. threat
reduction assistance is whether Russia will ever pay its agreed-upon
share of program costs or be able to fund operations and maintenance of
the facilities and systems that GAO have or plan to put in place; (11)
given the current situation, the United States may have to fully fund
not only its implementation but also the operations and maintenance of
the threat reduction projects; (12) another question is whether the
United States can overcome Russia's national security concerns about
providing the U.S. access to very sensitive sites; and (13) if GAO can
reach agreement on this issue, the United States may be able to better
plan, prioritize, and monitor implementation of the programs, be better
able to meet threat reduction objective, and help mitigate against
unforeseen cost increases.

--------------------------- Indexing Terms -----------------------------

 REPORTNUM:  T-NSIAD/RCED-00-119
     TITLE:  Weapons of Mass Destruction: U.S. Efforts to Reduce
	     Threats From the Former Soviet Union
      DATE:  03/06/2000
   SUBJECT:  Nuclear proliferation
	     Nuclear weapons
	     Nuclear fuel plants
	     Cost control
	     Chemical warfare
	     International cooperation
	     Arms control agreements
	     Property disposal
	     Foreign technical aid
	     Federal aid to foreign countries
IDENTIFIER:  Russia
	     DOD Cooperative Threat Reduction Program
	     DOE Material Protection, Control, and Accounting Program
	     DOE Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention Program

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Before the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, Committee on
Armed Services, U.S. Senate

For Release on Delivery

Expected at

2:30 p.m.

Monday

March 6, 2000

WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION

U.S. Efforts to Reduce Threats From the Former Soviet Union

Statement of Harold J. Johnson, Associate Director, International Relations
and Trade Issues, National Security and International Affairs Division

GAO/T-NSIAD/RCED-00-119

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee:

We are pleased to be here today to discuss our reviews of U.S. programs to
reduce the threats that the former Soviet Union's weapons of mass
destruction pose to U.S. national security. Since 1991, Congress has
authorized the Departments of Defense (DOD), Energy (DOE), and State to help
Russia and other newly independent states control and eliminate weapons of
mass destruction and to reduce the risks of their proliferation. My
statement is based on the 20 reports we have issued over the past 8 years
that address various aspects of these programs (see app. I).

Today, I will present our overall observations regarding these programs'
cost and impact. As you requested, I will also suggest some questions that
you may wish to consider as this Subcommittee reviews current and future
budget requests for these programs.

RESULTS IN BRIEF

To date, Congress has authorized more than $4.7 billion for U.S. programs
aimed at helping Russia and other newly independent states reduce the
threats posed by their weapons of mass destruction. The cost of implementing
many of these programs is escalating dramatically. For example, the
anticipated U.S. cost of designing, building, and filling a Russian facility
for storing nuclear weapons components has increased by an estimated 300
percent since 1996. Such increases are largely due to Russia's apparent
inability to pay its share for these programs and to expanding program
requirements.

Although costs are uncertain and rising, reducing the threats posed by
Russia's weapons of mass destruction is clearly in the U.S. national
interest. However, conclusively demonstrating that most of these programs
are having a positive impact has proven to be very difficult. On the
positive side, we can be relatively confident that DOD played a tangible
role in helping at least two former Soviet states meet their arms control
treaty obligations involving the destruction of missile launchers. Most of
these programs, however, are inherently a cost risk in that we may never be
able to prove that they have achieved their intended purpose. For example,
we are far less confident that Russia's new DOD-built nuclear storage
facility will actually support Russia's dismantlement of nuclear warheads.
This is because Russia's frequent reluctance to provide the United States
needed access to sensitive nuclear materials and facilities is denying DOD
the ability to confirm that the facility will contain only components from
dismantled weapons. Similarly, we may never know the extent to which our aid
to unemployed former Soviet weapons scientists is actually reducing any
desire they may have to sell their skills to countries of concern in the
production of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.

With the continuing economic crisis in Russia, a major question that applies
to all U.S. threat reduction assistance is whether Russia will ever pay its
agreed-upon share of program costs or be able to fund operations and
maintenance of the facilities and systems that we have or plan to put in
place. Given the current situation, the United States may have to fully fund
not only its implementation but also the operations and maintenance of the
threat reduction projects. Another question is whether the United States can
overcome Russia's national security concerns about providing us access to
very sensitive sites. If we can reach agreement on this issue, the United
States may be able to better plan, prioritize, and monitor implementation of
the programs; be better able to meet threat reduction objectives; and help
mitigate against unforeseen cost increases.

Background

When it collapsed in 1991, the former Soviet Union had, by some estimates,
about

   * 30,000 nuclear weapons,
   * 650 metric tons of weapons-usable nuclear materials,
   * 40,000 metric tons of chemical weapons, and
   * 2,500 systems (e.g., missiles and bombers) for delivering weapons of
     mass destruction.

It also had numerous facilities employing hundreds of thousands of
scientists, engineers, and technicians trained to design and build nuclear,
chemical, and biological weapons, as well as systems for delivering such
weapons.

The United States has launched several programs to address such threats.

   * Congress, at the urging of Senators Nunn and Lugar, authorized DOD to
     establish the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program in 1992. The program
     remains the largest and most diverse U.S. program addressing former
     Soviet weapons of mass destruction threats. The program has focused
     primarily on (1) destroying vehicles for delivering nuclear weapons,
     their launchers (such as silos and submarines), and their related
     facilities and (2) securing former Soviet nuclear weapons and their
     components.

   * In 1995, DOE launched the Materials Protection, Control, and
     Accountability Program to help secure former Soviet weapons-usable
     nuclear materials. It later created the Initiatives for Proliferation
     Prevention Program to engage unemployed weapons scientists in various
     peaceful commercial projects. The Department also has two other
     initiatives to reduce former Soviet stockpiles of weapons useable
     material. These programs are designed to convert highly enriched
     uranium and weapons useable plutonium to fuels that can be used in
     civilian nuclear power plants.

   * The Department of State helped establish and, with DOD, fund the
     International Science and Technology Center in Moscow to help fund
     peaceful activities carried out by underpaid weapons scientists. The
     Center's sponsors include the United States, the European Union, and
     Japan.

The Departments of Defense, Energy, and State have been provided with more
than $4.7 billion to implement these programs. They have directed most of
these funds toward (1) the destruction of vehicles that can deliver weapons
and (2) the safe and secure storage of weapons-usable nuclear materials,
components from disassembled nuclear weapons, and nuclear weapons. These
three agencies are now requesting more than $880 million for fiscal year
2001.

U.S. PROGRAM COSTS ARE INCREASING

The costs of several U.S. projects have or are likely to increase
dramatically. These increases are largely due to (1) Russia's apparent
inability to pay for its agreed-upon share of project costs and (2)
unexpected changes and increases in program requirements. For example:

   * In 1996 DOD informed congressional committees that it would pay no more
     than half (i.e., about $275 million) of the total estimated cost of
     designing and building Russia's facility for storing for nuclear
     weapons components. As we reported in 1999, the total U.S. cost for
     this facility and its more recently identified requirements could now
     approach $1.3 billion. Estimated U.S. costs for the facility itself
     grew from $275 million to more than $640 million after Russia stated in
     1998 that it could not fund its share of the project. Russia also
     revealed that it could not afford to prepare and package the large
     quantities of plutonium needed to fill the facility once it is
     completed. To help ensure that the facility can be filled when
     completed, DOD has launched an effort to begin packaging this material,
     which could ultimately cost $650 million. The total potential cost to
     the United States of designing, building, and filling the
     facility-almost $1.3 billion--does not include annual operating costs
     that could exceed more than $10 million. The United States does not
     know whether Russia can pay these costs.

   * DOE's Materials Protection, Control, and Accountability Program has
     made progress in reducing the threat of theft of weapons of mass
     destruction and related materials in the newly independent states by
     helping these countries safeguard their materials. However, DOE has
     spent $481 million to protect only about 7 percent of all of the 650
     metric tons of material believed to be at sites in the former Soviet
     Union. DOE's major difficulty is that 90 percent of this material is in
     Russia's nuclear weapons complex, which DOE does not have access to
     because of Russia's concerns about divulging state secrets. As a
     result, DOE has had difficulty planning, prioritizing, and monitoring
     protective systems or even identifying where the nuclear material is
     stored in the complex. DOE is working with the Russians in an attempt
     to gain access to these sites. In addition, Russia's economic crisis
     has raised concerns about the country's ability to fund operations and
     maintenance of the systems. Because of this situation, program costs
     are likely to increase significantly. At your request, we will be
     issuing a report addressing the effectiveness of the upgrades and
     Russia's ability to operate and maintain the new systems.

   * DOD now estimates that a pilot facility to destroy 14 percent of
     Russia's chemical weapons over an 11-year period would cost the United
     States almost $890 million--an increase of about $150 million from the
     estimate we included in our last report on the facility. The new
     estimate assumes that Russia would be able to shoulder another $756
     million in infrastructure and operations costs, despite its continued
     lack of significant financial support. Russia would also have to
     marshal the funds needed to build similar facilities at four other
     locations. DOD's plans to begin constructing the pilot facility were
     delayed by Russia's failures to provide needed technical information
     and infrastructure support in a timely manner. Before DOD could begin
     construction, Congress denied the project any future funds.

   * Russia may be abandoning its plans to cease production of weapons-grade
     plutonium by converting nuclear reactors at two sites. It may instead
     decide to build new fossil fuel plants. If so, DOD may lose its
     $22-million investment in the reactor conversion project.

MOST PROGRAM IMPACTS ARE DIFFICULT TO DETERMINE

Our work indicates that it is difficult to determine the extent to which
many U.S. projects can demonstrate that they are reducing threats posed by
former Soviet weapons of mass destruction. In general, projects' impacts are
more easily demonstrated when there are clear, mutually agreed-upon national
objectives; tangible threat elements; and good working relationships between
U.S and Russian officials. The impact of projects without these
characteristics is generally harder to clearly demonstrate. Thus, the United
States must recognize that projects carry varying degrees of risk as to
whether they are accomplishing intended results. For example:

   * DOD efforts to eliminate or reduce nuclear weapons delivery vehicles
     (e.g., missiles, launchers, and bombers) in the former Soviet Union
     appear to have had a demonstrable impact, particularly in Ukraine and
     Kazakhstan. These efforts have played a crucial role in eliminating the
     threat that these states could each launch large numbers of
     nuclear-armed missiles aimed at the United States. Less demonstrably,
     they appear to have helped Russia reduce its delivery systems. The
     circumstances surrounding this achievement made the impact of DOD's
     assistance relatively easy to demonstrate.

   * Each nation subscribed to mutually agreed-upon, verifiable objectives
     in the form of the arms control agreements and protocols established
     under the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.
   * The projects involved activities such as destroying missiles, missile
     silos and submarines which can be easily seen by U.S. personnel.
   * The programs involved generally good working relationships with key
     ministries and officials.
   * In the case of Ukraine and Kazakhstan, the recipients of our aid had
     limited capabilities of their own to destroy the threatening systems.

   * In contrast, our impact on Russia's dismantlement of nuclear warheads
     for placement in the U.S.-built nuclear components storage facility is
     far less apparent. At the beginning of the Cooperative Threat Reduction
     Program, Russian officials indicated that they were uninterested in
     direct U.S. assistance in dismantling retired warheads. Instead, Russia
     and the United States eventually agreed that DOD would help Russia
     construct a facility for the safe storage of nuclear material it
     extracted from dismantled warheads. However, as we reported last year,
     we may never know whether the soon-to-be operational facility is
     actually supporting Russia's warhead dismantlement effort. Despite
     previous pledges, Russia, in the absence of a mutually agreed-upon and
     verifiable agreement on warhead elimination, has yet to provide DOD
     with the access it will need to ensure that the storage facility
     contains only nuclear materials taken from warheads. Without such
     access, the demonstrable impact of the project depends on the extent to
     which the facility improves Russia's current ability to securely store
     materials that could be used to manufacture weapons.

   * Although the United States has spent $481 million to upgrade security
     systems at Russian laboratories with weapons-grade nuclear material,
     because of access problems, we may not know if some of these systems
     are being used as intended and properly maintained. In addition, with
     only 7 percent of the material under the upgraded security systems, a
     large amount of material is still stored under weak security protection
     systems.

   * By their nature, it is impossible to determine the extent to which
     State and Energy Department programs have affected Russian scientists'
     inclination, if any to sell their weapons skills to other countries of
     concern. In any event, as we found last year, DOE did not know how many
     scientists were receiving its funds or whether it was targeting key
     scientists and institutes that have the most important skills for
     weapons development. Moreover, DOE had not adequately reviewed projects
     to ensure that no U.S. defense-related information was relayed to
     others. Finally, supplementing the salaries of these scientists is no
     guarantee that they will not in the future sell their services to
     individuals or countries that pose national security risks to the
     United States. We will be reporting to you in greater detail this year
     on U.S. efforts to engage former Soviet biological weapons scientists.

   * Cooperative Threat Reduction Program officials have acknowledged that
     they cannot measure the extent of the impact of U.S. improvements to
     the safety of Russian storage and transportation of materials and
     weapons.

ISSUES AND QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER FOR FUTURE AUTHORIZATION REVIEWS

The United States is financing some threat reduction projects in Russia
where costs and requirements are increasing dramatically and where, access
to sites of national security concern are off limits to U.S. program
officials. The following issues and questions may be helpful to the
Committee as it considers authorizations for various threat reduction
programs in 2001 and in future years.

Issue. Can Russia afford to pay its agreed-upon share of threat reduction
projects, and do we know whether it can pay operations and maintenance
expenses?

Questions

   * Collectively, how many projects are we going to fund that may carry
     high recurring operations and maintenance costs?
   * Should the United States consider construction and operations and
     maintenance costs for a project before deciding to move forward on it?
   * If the United States has to pay operating and support costs for the
     facilities and systems it puts in place, how long will we pay these
     costs?
   * Are there projects whose operations and maintenance costs and/or
     construction costs are too high compared to the threat reduction we
     get, or are the costs so high that we will place a heavy support burden
     on Russia, which is already financially strained?
   * Is there a point where we should simply stop funding a project because
     it is becoming too costly for the expected threat reduction?

Issue. Threat reduction requirements are increasing or are unknown. For
example, more buildings with nuclear material that require security upgrades
have been identified and we do not know if there are more buildings.

Questions

   * How do U.S. officials get a better fix on the total number of buildings
     that have weapons-grade nuclear material?
   * Does the United States want to continue funding security upgrades at
     buildings with weapons usable material but where we have no access?

   * How can U.S. officials find out whether there are other unknown Russian
     warhead dismantlement projects that cannot be funded before Russia can
     begin filling the nuclear weapons components storage facility?

- - - - -

Mr. Chairman, this concludes my prepared testimony. I would be happy to
respond to any questions you or other members may have.

CONTACT AND ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

For future questions regarding this testimony, please contact Harold J.
Johnson at (202) 512-4128. Individuals making key contributions to this
testimony included F. James Shafer, Gene Aloise, Charles Bolton, and Pierre
Toureille.

APPENDIX I

GAO REPORTS ON Former Soviet Weapons

of Mass Destruction and RELATED SUBJECTS

Nuclear Nonproliferation: Limited Progress in Improving Nuclear Material
Security in Russia and the Newly Independent States (RCED/NSIAD-00-82, Mar.
6, 2000).

Nuclear Nonproliferation: Status of Transparency Measures for U.S. Purchase
of Russian Highly Enriched Uranium (RCED-99-194, Sept. 22, 1999).

Weapons of Mass Destruction: Effort to Reduce Russian Arsenals May Cost
More, Achieve Less Than Planned (NSIAD-99-76, Apr. 13, 1999)

Nuclear Nonproliferation: Concerns With DOE's Efforts to Reduce the

Risks Posed by Russia's Unemployed Weapons Scientists (RCED-99-54, Feb. 19,
1999).

Nuclear Nonproliferation and Safety: Uncertainties About the Implementation
of U.S.-Russian Plutonium Disposition Efforts (RCED-98-46, Jan. 14, 1998).

Weapons of Mass Destruction: Review of DOD's June 1997 Report on Assistance
Provided (NSIAD-97-218, Sept. 5, 1997).

Cooperative Threat Reduction: Status of Defense Conversion Efforts in the
Former Soviet Union (NSIAD-97-101, Apr. 11, 1997).

Weapons of Mass Destruction: DOD Reporting on Cooperative Threat Reduction
Assistance Has Improved (NSIAD-97-84, Feb. 27, 1997).

Nuclear Safety: Status of U.S. Assistance to Improve the Safety of
Soviet-Designed Reactors (RCED-97-5, Oct. 29, 1996).

Weapons of Mass Destruction: Status of the Cooperative Threat Reduction
Program (NSIAD-96-222, Sept. 27, 1996).

Nuclear Nonproliferation: U.S. Efforts to Help Newly Independent States
Improve Their Nuclear Material Controls (T-NSIAD/RCED-96-118, Mar. 13,
1996).

Nuclear Nonproliferation: Status of U.S. Efforts to Improve Nuclear
Materials Controls in Newly Independent States (NSIAD/RCED-96-89, Mar. 8,
1996).

Nuclear Safety: Concerns With Nuclear Facilities and Other Sources of
Radiation in the Former Soviet Union (RCED-96-4, Nov. 7, 1995).

Weapons of Mass Destruction: DOD Reporting on Cooperative Threat Reduction
Assistance Can Be Improved (NSIAD-95-191, Sept. 29, 1995).

Weapons of Mass Destruction: Reducing the Threat From the Former Soviet
Union--An Update (NSIAD-95-165, June 17, 1995).

Weapons of Mass Destruction: Reducing the Threat From the Former Soviet
Union (NSIAD-95-7, Oct. 6, 1994).

Nuclear Safety: International Assistance Efforts to Make Soviet-Designed
Reactors Safer (RCED-94-234, Sept. 29, 1994).

Soviet Nuclear Weapons: U.S. Efforts to Help Former Soviet Republics Secure
and Destroy Weapons (NSIAD-T-93-5, Mar. 9, 1993).

Soviet Nuclear Weapons: Priorities and Costs Associated with U.S.
Dismantlement Assistance (NSIAD-93-154, Mar. 8, 1993).

Russian Nuclear Weapons: U.S. Implementation of the Soviet Nuclear Threat
Reduction Act of 1991 (NSIAD-T-92-47, July 27, 1992).

Appendix II Appendix II

ALLOCATION OF FISCAL YEAR 1992-2000 FUNDS ($4.7 BILLION)

(711500)

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