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Cooperative Threat Reduction

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Cooperative Threat Reduction

This report reflects the deliberations of the drafting panel on Cooperative Threat Reduction Program that met on March 30, 1995 during the Forum on the Role of Science and Technology in Promoting National Security and Global Stability. The report was compiled by the session drafter and is a summary of the issues raised during the discussion. All points do not necessarily represent the views of all of the participants.

Steve Miller, Harvard University

Government Co-chair: Gloria Duffy, Department of Defense
Nongovernment Co-chair: Steve Miller, Harvard University

Richard Falkenrath, National Research Council

Sieg Hecker, Los Alamos National Laboratory
Akihiro Aoki, Embassy of Japan
Kennette Benedict, The MacArthur Foundation
Tyrus Cobb, Defense Systems & Electronics
Andrew Goodpaster, Atlantic Council of the United States
David Jeremiah, Technologies Strategies & Alliances
Leon M. Lederman, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory
Darrol Paiga, Semi/Sematec
Ian M. Ross, AT&T Bell Laboratories
Richard Solomon, United States Institute of Peace
Charles A. Zraket, The Mitre Corporation
Joseph Duffey, U.S. Information Agency
Raymond Garthoff, Brookings Institution
Inta Brikovskis, National Academy of Sciences
Glenn Schweitzer, National Academy of Sciences
Gary Horlick, O'Melveny & Myers
Andrzej Rabczenko, Embassy of Poland

Cooperative Threat Reduction
--Summary of Drafting Panel Discussion--

The history and scope of the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) program is summarized in the White Paper prepared for the Forum. The CTR program, also known as the "Nunn-Lugar" program, is run by the Department of Defense and is directed primarily at the four former Soviet Republics that inherited the nuclear arsenal of the Soviet Union: Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine. The panel noted that there are other programs within the US Government that seek to reduce threats to the United States on a cooperative basis with our international partners, including those outside of the former Soviet Union. 1 Cooperative threat reduction is a broad based official activity, so the panel did not confine its discussion to the DePartment of Defense's CTR program. 2

The panel reached Consensus on eight key points concerning U.S. cooperative threat reduction activities. The panel was unable to provide direct answers to the three "cross-cutting questions" posed by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, in part because the panelists did not believe that these questions were clearly relevant to the experience with cooperative threat reduction activities to date. The panel was also unable to reach consensus on the appropriate priorities for U.S. cooperative threat reduction activities.


1. The panel recognizes and acknowledges the achievements of the Nunn-Lugar program to date.

The Nunn-Lugar program has had great success at meeting its central objective: reducing the threat to the US through assistance in the dismantlement of former Soviet strategic nuclear weapons aimed at American cities. Assistance provided through the Nunn-Lugar program has played a critical role in securing Ukraine's accession to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as a non-nuclear weapons state; accelerating the former Soviet republic's implementation of the START I Treaty; and helping ensure that the former Soviet Union's nuclear weapons are consolidated in Russia under safe and secure conditions. The panel recognized that the limited costs of these activities, compared to acquisition of major defense weapons systems, understate their significance. These have been some of the most important achievements in US foreign policy since the end of the Cold War.

2. The panel believes that US cooperative threat reduction program should be adjusted to take advantage of what has been learned to date.

The United States now has over four years of experience working cooperatively with the former Soviet republics in the area of threat reduction. Current and future cooperative threat reduction programs, therefore, should be adjusted to reflect the lessons that have been learned. Although the panel has three preliminary conclusions on this matter (points 3, 4 and 5), a careful, comprehensive bipartisan study of what has worked and what has not worked in cooperative threat reduction is warranted.

3. The panel believes that US cooperative threat reduction programs on the working level have had the highest rate of success.

US officials in charge of specific programs within the cooperative threat reduction framework report a good record of success when the programs are directed at, defined and implemented by their Russian counterparts on the working level. The material control and accountability laboratory-to-laboratory program executed by the Department of Energy, for example, has been met with enthusiasm on the Russian side. In general, these programs attempt to negotiate assistance requirements with officials who would a ctually implement--and thus, benefit from the assistance provided--rather than work through the higher layers of the Russian bureaucracy. As a corollary, US programs that offer tangible benefits to the Russian officials charged with implementing the program also show a high rate of success.

4. The panel believes that US cooperative threat reduction programs should focus on building self-standing, sustainable, non-military industrial enterprises in the former Soviet Union.

The panel supports the goals of defense conversion, but believes that it is important to differentiate between short-term sustainment of former Soviet military enterprises and building non-military, free standing, profitable enterprises of the former Soviet defense sector. Privatization efforts should be given priority. Programs which award government contracts that must be renewed each year, and that do not require the development of long-term self-sustainability, risk offering temporary relief to Russi an defense enterprises without securing any guarantees against a future return to military production. The Entrepreneurial Workshops for Defense Conversion in Russia, jointly run by ACDA and the Department of Energy were cited as programs that seek to pro vide entrepreneurs and enterprises inside the former Soviet defense sector with the seed-money and skills necessary for long-term commercial viability in non-military activities.

5. The panel believes that criticizing Russia for the difficulties encountered in US cooperative threat reduction programs is counter-productive.

The panel recognizes that some US cooperative threat reduction programs have encountered delays and difficulties, but believes that Russia should not be publicly criticized for these delays and difficulties. The Russian officials dealing with US cooperative threat reduction programs represent a sovereign nation and have conflicting political. economic, and bureaucratic interests that should be recognized and understood, not disparaged. Since cooperative threat reduction is above all a "cooperative" endeavor, antagonizing or blaming our principal interlocutors can only be regarded as self-defeating.

6. The panel believes that US cooperative threat reduction programs should be decoupled from US foreign aid and assistance programs.

The Nunn-Lugar program and other cooperative threat reduction activities should not be conceived, compared to, or publicly characterized as foreign aid or assistance. Cooperative threat reduction is, to use Secretary Perry's apt phrase, "defense by other means". Although cooperative threat reduction programs involve assistance in the form of grants and/or transfers of goods and services to other governments or foreign nationals, the panel believes the benefits of these activities accrue to the US. These activities directly contribute to the national security of the United States as surely as any weapons system acquisition program.

7. The panel believes that US cooperative threat reduction programs should be insulated from vicissitudes in American relations with the Soviet successor states, particularly Russia.

Following from Point 6, the panel believes that it would be unwise to cancel or curtail the Nunn-Lugar program and other cooperative threat reduction activities because of difficulties in the broader political relationship. These programs should not be treated as a source of "leverage" over Russia or the other newly independent countries. This would seriously undermine the business-like relationships that US officials have worked hard to establish with their Russian counterparts. More importantly, however, the panel believes that US cooperative threat reduction programs serve US national security interests independently of the overall tenor of Russian-American relations. Indeed, if relations with Russia do worsen, the dismantlement of Russian strategic nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction will become more--not less--vital to US national security interests.

8. The panel believes that the working-level relationships built under the rubric of cooperative threat reduction will broadly assist US nonproliferation policy.

Like the United States, Russia has a strong interest in preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction, and contacts at the working level assist the two governments in identifying common aims and possible areas for collaboration. In the context of the lab-to-tab program for example, the Russian government has now expressed an interest in jointly developing a global non-proliferation strategy. More generally, by nurturing good working level relationships with experts and officials in the Russian military-industrial complex, the United States lays the groundwork for future initiatives.

CONCLUSlONS: Although the panel reached no final overarching conclusions, the discussion and exchange of views was considered useful. Additionally, programs in the science and technology area were recognized by the panel as critical elements of the cooperative threat reduction activities being undertaken by the US.

1 - A fledgling program with China was cited as an example. [back]
2 - To avoid confusion on this point, the report refers to the Department of Defense's program as the "Nunn-Lugar" program. The more inclusive term "US cooperative threat reduction programs" refers to the sum of all relevant activities being run by US government agencies. [back]

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