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THE EXPERIENCE OF RUSSIA AND THE UNITED STATES IN COOPERATION ON PROTECTION, CONTROL, AND ACCOUNTING OF NUCLEAR MATERIALS

Sergei V. Antipov, Nikolai N. Ponomarev-Stepnoi, Vladimir K. Sukhoruchkin,

Kurchatov Institute


Cooperation between Russia and the United States in material protection, control, and accounting (MPC&A) has often been called a successful example of cooperation between the two countries in the area of international nuclear security and in resolving specific tasks aimed at strengthening the nuclear weapons and nuclear materials non-proliferation regime. This success can be explained by the fact that, right from the outset, this cooperation was in both countries’ urgent interests.

One of the consequences of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the transition to a new economic and political system in the early 1990s was that the existing MPC&A system stopped functioning effectively. This was partly a result of changes to the state borders of the Russian Federation and partly a result of the emergence of a market price for nuclear materials. Furthermore, the Soviet MPC&A system was primarily based on human resources and made little use of technical means and methods, and this inevitably weakened the system during the transition period that brought with it the disorganization of management and falling standards of workplace discipline.

By the mid-1990s, a complex situation had emerged in the control over the use and storage of nuclear materials in Russia. Stories appeared in the Russian and foreign media about illegal sales of nuclear materials or transfers of these materials abroad. Not all of these stories appeared realistic and most of them concerned nuclear materials of little use for developing nuclear weapons, but they were nonetheless evidence that problems did exist. It was necessary to develop a new system that complied with the conditions of a new stage of Russia’s economic and political development as well as with international requirements.

There was a clear need for a new system that was adapted to the new economic and political developments in the country and conformed to international standards. Russia did not have sufficient experience of its own in developing and operating such systems, nor did the state budget, which at that time was burdened with a deficit, have the funds to pay for the development of these costly systems.

The United States also wanted to see this problem addressed as swiftly as possible in order to prevent the possibility of the uncontrolled and illicit spread of nuclear materials from Russia, which would have had very negative consequences for the international nuclear weapons non-proliferation regime. Both countries and the international community in general sought to strengthen and maintain the non-proliferation regime. Acting in these interests, the United States offered financial and technical assistance to Russia to upgrade its protection, control and



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THE EXPERIENCE OF RUSSIA AND THE UNITED STATES IN COOPERATION ON PROTECTION, CONTROL, AND ACCOUNTING OF NUCLEAR MATERIALS Sergei V. Antipov, Nikolai N. Ponomarev-Stepnoi, Vladimir K. Sukhoruchkin, Kurchatov Institute Cooperation between Russia and the United States in material protection, control, and accounting (MPC&A) has often been called a successful example of cooperation between the two countries in the area of international nuclear security and in resolving specific tasks aimed at strengthening the nuclear weapons and nuclear materials non-proliferation regime. This success can be explained by the fact that, right from the outset, this cooperation was in both countries’ urgent interests. One of the consequences of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the transition to a new economic and political system in the early 1990s was that the existing MPC&A system stopped functioning effectively. This was partly a result of changes to the state borders of the Russian Federation and partly a result of the emergence of a market price for nuclear materials. Furthermore, the Soviet MPC&A system was primarily based on human resources and made little use of technical means and methods, and this inevitably weakened the system during the transition period that brought with it the disorganization of management and falling standards of workplace discipline. By the mid-1990s, a complex situation had emerged in the control over the use and storage of nuclear materials in Russia. Stories appeared in the Russian and foreign media about illegal sales of nuclear materials or transfers of these materials abroad. Not all of these stories appeared realistic and most of them concerned nuclear materials of little use for developing nuclear weapons, but they were nonetheless evidence that problems did exist. It was necessary to develop a new system that complied with the conditions of a new stage of Russia’s economic and political development as well as with international requirements. There was a clear need for a new system that was adapted to the new economic and political developments in the country and conformed to international standards. Russia did not have sufficient experience of its own in developing and operating such systems, nor did the state budget, which at that time was burdened with a deficit, have the funds to pay for the development of these costly systems. The United States also wanted to see this problem addressed as swiftly as possible in order to prevent the possibility of the uncontrolled and illicit spread of nuclear materials from Russia, which would have had very negative consequences for the international nuclear weapons non-proliferation regime. Both countries and the international community in general sought to strengthen and maintain the non-proliferation regime. Acting in these interests, the United States offered financial and technical assistance to Russia to upgrade its protection, control and 29

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accounting systems for nuclear materials and installations. At that time, the need to introduce new MPC&A principles was not one of the biggest state priorities in Russia and the search for mutually acceptable forms of cooperation with the United States in this sensitive area took some time. The urgency of this problem and the need to find a solution as rapidly as possible were, however, particularly evident at the Kurchatov Institute. The issue was so urgent for the Institute because of its location. The Kurchatov Institute, one of the world’s biggest nuclear centers, is located in a densely populated district of the Russian capital only a dozen kilometers away from the Kremlin. The scale and seriousness of the problem was compounded by the fact that the Kurchatov Institute houses numerous nuclear installations and a considerable amount of nuclear materials are stored there, including ‘direct use’ materials such as non-irradiated 96-percent enriched uranium.52 There are also laboratory quantities of plutonium at the Institute. These circumstances and the awareness that a number of the existing MPC&A systems no longer answered the demands of the changing situation at the Kurchatov Institute meant that the problem received timely recognition and became the top priority. Staff at the Kurchatov Institute, with the aim of identifying the main problems involved in the transition to new protection, control and accounting procedures for nuclear materials, took the initiative of drawing up and testing new methods and procedures and new formats of accounting and reporting documents. The resulting project, A Model Automated System for the Protection, Control and Accounting of Nuclear Materials for Complex Nuclear Devices, began in September 1993, in cooperation with a private American research institute.53 MPC&A cooperation between the Kurchatov Institute and the U.S. national laboratories began in May 1994, when a group of specialists from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the American national laboratories first visited the Institute. During this visit, a protocol of intent was drawn up and areas for joint work were outlined. The protocol was signed in Moscow on June 24, 1994. In August 1994, following a U.S. proposal, the Kurchatov Institute joined the lab-to-lab MPC&A cooperative program. This marked the start of intensive work to install modern MPC&A systems at the Kurchatov Institute’s installations. The first general cooperation agreements with the Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories in the United States were signed in August-September 1994. A specific contract for the development of a modern physical protection system for one of the Institute’s main buildings, Building 116, was signed with Sandia National Laboratory in October that same year. Building 116 houses the Narciss and Astra experimental installations, and a sizeable amount of direct use nuclear material – 96-percent enriched uranium-235 in manufactured and bulk form – is housed here. The project’s aim was 52 The IAEA defines direct use materials as “nuclear material that can be used for the manufacture of nuclear explosive devices without transmutation or further enrichment. It includes plutonium containing less than 80 percent 238Pu, high enriched uranium and U233. Chemical compounds, mixtures of direct use materials (e.g. mixed oxide [MOX]), and plutonium in spent reactor fuel fall into this category. Unirradiated direct use material is direct use material which does not contain substantial amounts of fission products; it would require less time and effort to be converted to components of nuclear explosive devices than irradiated direct use material (e.g. plutonium in spent reactor fuel) that contains substantial amounts of fission products.” The IAEA Safeguards Glossary is available at http://www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/publications/PDF/nvs-3-cd/Start.pdf; accessed May 1, 2008. 53 In 1993, there were not really any existing and effective automatic systems for material protection, control, and accounting in Russia. It was impossible to use existing American systems due to security issues. Therefore, with U.S. financial support, the decision was taken to develop such systems for Minatom and Kurchatov Institute, and later for the Ministry of Defense (MOD). 30

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not only to equip this building with modern physical protection systems but also to develop and test in practice a physical protection concept and vulnerability assessment method. Most important was to test the principles and methods for joint work with the U.S. national laboratories in this sensitive area and produce an example of effective cooperation that would provide the impetus for developing this kind of cooperation at other nuclear research and industrial centers in Russia. The contract was signed in October 1994, and intensive efforts by the staff of the Kurchatov Institute and Sandia National Laboratory meant that all work on upgrading Building 116’s physical protection system was completed in December that same year. A special seminar and ceremony marking the beginning of operations of the new physical protection, control and accounting system in Building 116 took place at the start of February 1995. Officials from numerous Russian nuclear enterprises and from the Russian Navy were invited to attend these events. Simultaneously, through a contract with the Los Alamos National Laboratory, a pilot computerized system for the control and accounting of nuclear materials was developed and its trial operation began. This system went on to serve as the foundation for developing the Kurchatov Institute Materials Accounting and Control System (KIMACS) universal control and accounting system (see below for further information). After the new MPC&A system in Building 116 began operation, the scope of work broadened. Other U.S. national laboratories also joined in work with the Kurchatov Institute. The Kurchatov Institute worked intensively with six U.S. national laboratories on upgrading MPC&A systems: • Sandia National Laboratory – physical protection • Los Alamos National Laboratory – computerized nuclear material control systems and systems for measuring and monitoring nuclear materials • Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory – vulnerability assessment • Oak Ridge National Laboratory – nuclear material identification, optical seals and operation support systems • Pacific Northwest National Laboratory – communications, measuring systems, seals • Brookhaven National Laboratory – physical inventory of nuclear materials A series of work on secondary lines of protection was also carried out in cooperation with Argonne National Laboratory. WORK ON PHYSICAL PROTECTION OF NUCLEAR MATERIALS AT THE KURCHATOV INSTITUTE A number of projects in the area of nuclear materials non-proliferation over recent years have seen substantial investment with the support of DOE and the Kurchatov Institute. These projects include upgrading nuclear material physical protection systems and increasing the security of nuclear materials, which has reduced to a minimum the risk of unauthorized access to nuclear materials and external threats. A second important aspect of raising the level of nuclear materials’ security is the increased workplace discipline of security forces at the Kurchatov Institute and its individual 31

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facilities containing nuclear materials. These forces are responsible for operating the physical protection systems. Work to improve physical protection began with a vulnerability assessment to identify the weak spots and lay the foundation for a project to upgrade physical protection for specific buildings and territories. In accordance with the concept of multi-barrier physical protection, the project may include passive and active barriers, reinforced doors and windows, detention systems, access control systems, nuclear material monitoring systems, metal detectors, communications systems, and guaranteed energy supply and lighting systems. A great deal of attention was paid to consolidating nuclear materials in order to reduce the number of places where direct-use nuclear materials were kept. Based on this concept, aside from Building 116, physical protection upgrades were carried out at the following buildings and facilities: • two central storage buildings • the building housing physical test beds simulating reactors used by the Navy • the building where the department for high-temperature nuclear energy is located and where a large amount of highly enriched uranium (HEU) is kept • the main perimeter of the Kurchatov Institute (passive protection) • two vehicle access gates and one railway access gate to the Institute’s territory • four pedestrian access gates to the Institute’s territory • the building housing the central security and reaction forces command post • some facilities at the Gas Plant, a separate area on the Institute’s territory • a number of other buildings American financial assistance was also used to install special means of transport for transporting nuclear materials and security personnel at the Kurchatov Institute. Given the Kurchatov Institute’s location in a city of millions of people, work to strengthen and upgrade the external perimeter and the pedestrian and vehicle access gates is especially important. All signals from the physical protection systems are transmitted to the buildings’ security command posts and to the Institute’s central security command post where the reaction forces are located. Realizing the importance of work in this area, the Kurchatov Institute not only participated in implementation of these projects, and not only brought in specialists to help carry them out, but it also took part in their financing. Practically all of the construction work was financed by the Kurchatov Institute, while installation of physical protection systems was carried out on the basis of contracts with the U.S. national laboratories. MATERIAL PROTECTION, CONTROL, AND ACCOUNTING WORK AT THE KURCHATOV INSTITUTE Much work has been carried out to upgrade the nuclear material protection, control, and accounting systems at the Kurchatov Institute. The work to upgrade the nuclear materials control and accounting systems initiated at the Kurchatov Institute in 1993-1994, revealed an absence of corresponding Russian laws and standards that could be used as a guideline in carrying out large-scale and important work to upgrade nuclear materials control and accounting. 32

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The Russian Federal Law on Atomic Energy Use was only adopted at the end of 1995. Federal regulations and standards conforming to the law finally appeared only at the end of 2001, that is, almost six years later. Two basic federal regulations came into force as of January 1, 2002: • “Main Guidelines for the Control and Accounting of Nuclear Materials” (Russian Federation Regulation NP-030-01) • Atomic Energy Ministry Order No. 464 of August 21, 2001, on Approval and Entry into Force of Reporting Procedures in the Area of State Control and Accounting of Nuclear Materials and the Procedures and Frequency for Providing Reports Between 1994 and 2002, that is, until the Russian regulations came into force, upgrading of nuclear materials control and accounting systems at the Kurchatov Institute was carried out using DOE regulations in the area as a basis, and in close cooperation with the DOE national laboratories. NUCLEAR MATERIALS BALANCE ZONES In 1995-1996, analysis of the main characteristics of all the nuclear materials at the Kurchatov Institute was carried out, as was an analysis of the main design characteristics of the nuclear installations at the Institute. The structure and composition of the material balance zones and key measurement points were determined and internal regulations were drawn up. In 1996, the Kurchatov Institute had in its possession thirty active nuclear installations and nuclear materials storage centers. A total of 28 material balance zones were determined for them, of which 13 zones, in accordance with DOE criteria, were put in the 1C category (the highest category of attractiveness for nuclear materials that are not considered to be components of nuclear weapons and their component parts). The Institute also had significant quantities of more than 1,500 different types of nuclear materials in the form of individual articles and in bulk form. All of the Kurchatov Institute’s internal regulations on nuclear materials control and accounting were later brought into line with the provisions of Regulation NP-030-01. The new regulations provide a detailed description and list of the organizational structure for control and accounting procedures at the Institute as a whole and for each of the 33 material balance zones; they are subject to annual adjustment and revision. PHYSICAL INVENTORY It is difficult to overestimate the scale of efforts required for initial physical inventory at the Kurchatov Institute. With the help of the U.S. national laboratories, a number of nuclear installations at the Kurchatov Institute have been equipped with modern measuring systems that include electronic weights, gamma spectrometers (such as InSpector and PC-FRAM) and active- well neutron coincidence counters integrated with the KIMACS nuclear materials computerized control and accounting system developed by the Kurchatov Institute. 33

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The use of modern measuring systems made it possible to carry out initial and subsequent physical inventories of a large quantity of nuclear materials. In 2003, an inventory of the most attractive forms of nuclear materials (plutonium and uranium with U235 isotope enrichment of more than 50 percent) was completed. Significant upgrading of the containers and storage facilities used for storing nuclear materials was also carried out during the inventory process. Modern bar-code based methods for identifying accounting units and the corresponding bar-code equipment have been widely used, as have modern anti-tampering devices in the form of improved seals of various types. COMPUTERIZED CONTROL AND ACCOUNTING SYSTEM Specialists from the Kurchatov Institute, in cooperation with Los Alamos National Laboratory, have developed and installed a universal computerized nuclear materials control and accounting system, KIMACS. This system is the most advanced of its kind in Russia and can be adapted to the needs of nuclear enterprises of any complexity. As well as being used at the Kurchatov Institute, this system is used in the Russian Navy and will also be used, for example, at Rosatom’s Krasnoyarsk-26 Mining and Chemicals Plant. A specialized computer class to train Kurchatov Institute staff to use the KIMACS system was set up during work to improve nuclear material control and accounting systems at the Institute. The particularity of KIMACS is that it is the only system of its kind in the Russian Federation to have gone through state certification procedures for information protection and it has the capacity to process information with various levels of secrecy.54 The Kurchatov Institute paid for the very costly certification procedure with its own funds. EXPORT CONTROL WORK One of the first joint projects between the Kurchatov Institute and Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1994-1997, was work on nuclear export controls. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia and the other Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries had to analyze new export control demands and draw up new documents to guarantee control of nuclear exports in new conditions. Under a contract between the Kurchatov Institute and Los Alamos National Laboratory, an analysis of the situation and new demands regarding export controls in Russia and the other CIS countries was conducted. The criteria and methodology for technical analysis of requests to issue nuclear export licenses and permissions were also drawn up. Further, an analysis of export control lists was carried out. Items on the lists were grouped according to the level of danger they represented in terms of nuclear weapons proliferation risks. Analysis was also made of the technical procedures for export controls in Russia and the other CIS countries with the aim of drafting scientific and technical recommendations for improving export controls. A nuclear export analysis and control system 54 The MPC&A system shall go through the correspondent certification process as per procedure specified by the MOD (both soft-and hardware) to be used at MOD facilities. This procedure has been completed in strict compliance with the existing requirements and procedures set up by the MOD. 34

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was developed by the Kurchatov Institute in cooperation with Los Alamos National Laboratory and subsequently presented to the Russian Atomic Energy Ministry for use. REMOTE MONITORING WORK In accordance with a lab-to-lab cooperation program between Sandia National Laboratory and the Kurchatov Institute, a remote monitoring system project began in 1994. Based on the principle of mutuality, two sites were chosen for the project: one HEU storage facility at Argonne National Laboratory and one HEU storage facility at the Gas Plant at the Kurchatov Institute. The Sandia/Argonne/Kurchatov Institute remote monitoring system was also the first experience in Russia with the practical use of this kind of technology in the control of nuclear materials use. The system’s trial operation period at the Kurchatov Institute made it possible to identify and resolve a number of organizational and technical problems and also gave rise to diverse ideas on developing the applications for this technology in the practice of nuclear materials protection, control and accounting, both for domestic needs and for international use. Demonstrations of the functioning remote monitoring system made a positive impression in both countries. Some commentators even called the system’s development a historic event as it marked the first time that the two principle nuclear powers had placed their direct-use nuclear materials under mutual control. REMOTE VIDEO MONITORING USING MOM TECHNOLOGY AT THE KURCHATOV INSTITUTE The first pilot Material Operation Monitoring System (MOM) was installed in Building 135 at the Kurchatov Institute in 2003. The network technology used in the MOM system’s structure and design makes it possible to expand the network by connecting it with MOM systems to be installed in other buildings at the Institute. One of the main aims of monitoring is to raise the level of workplace discipline of staff and ensure that they follow the rules for handling nuclear materials, and to raise control over the aspects of the work and functioning of physical protection systems, especially control systems for access to buildings, that could affect access. WORK WITH THE RUSSIAN NAVY In March 1995, the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy asked the Kurchatov Institute to help the Navy install modern MPC&A systems at its sites. It was not a coincidence that the Navy turned to the Kurchatov Institute for help. The Institute has worked together with the Navy for many years. Practically all of the naval nuclear reactors and the fuel for them were developed under the scientific direction of the Kurchatov Institute. Hundreds of naval officers 35

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have received training at the Institute and now serve on board nuclear submarines, surface vessels or at land bases in all of the naval fleets. The Institute has test beds that simulate naval nuclear reactors. That same year, the Kurchatov Institute proposed to DOE an expansion of the lab-to-lab cooperation program in the area of MPC&A systems for Russian naval installations. After several meetings and talks, the U.S. energy secretary, a Russian naval official and the president of the Kurchatov Institute issued a joint statement in July 1996, declaring in particular that the Russian Defense Ministry and DOE had decided to cooperate in order to “guarantee the highest possible standards of MPC&A for all Russian naval storage sites containing fresh highly enriched nuclear fuel for the Russian Navy’s nuclear reactors.”55 The Kurchatov Institute was responsible for coordinating this work. The Kurchatov Institute became the link between the Russian Navy and DOE and also took on the role of general subcontractor. What was important was that by this time the Kurchatov Institute and DOE had built up a lot of experience cooperating during the work to upgrade the MPC&A systems at the Institute itself. Practical work began at several Navy sites in 1998. Upgrading was completed rapidly for fresh nuclear fuel storage facilities belonging to the Northern Fleet (Site 49) and the Pacific Fleet (Site 34). The upgrading of these storage facilities means that all of the highly enriched fresh nuclear fuel is now stored in facilities well equipped with modern MPC&A systems. These storage facilities could be said to be the best of their kind in Russia. Work was then carried out at three floating workshops used for reloading submarine reactors, and work was also conducted to improve physical protection at spent fuel storage facility No. 32 near Vladivostok. In 2000, the Russian Defense Ministry and DOE concluded an agreement on MPC&A cooperation, and this was followed by the signing of a number of protocols setting out procedures for information handling, access to sites, and so on. In 2001, work began at special Russian naval sites and all of the work planned for the sites selected for cooperation has now been completed. The MPC&A upgrading program in the Russian Navy is a successful example of using a cooperative program with the United States involving scientific centers in both countries to achieve fruitful cooperation between such complex organizations as the Russian Defense Ministry and DOE in the areas of protection of nuclear materials, non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, and nuclear terrorism prevention. The participation of scientific colleagues from large scientific centers in both countries, their creation of joint working groups, even while working at facilities of third parties, brings an atmosphere of cooperation, greater trust and creativity, and allows participants to ‘speak the same language’ to better understand one another, to find new, non-traditional paths toward the resolution of difficulties that may arise, and to achieve better results. This experience should be taken into consideration and used when preparing new joint Russian-U.S. projects aimed at raising levels of nuclear security, improving the safety culture, consolidating nuclear materials and developing partnership relations in the nuclear sector over the coming years. 55 The Joint Statement on Cooperation between the Russian MOD and the United States Department of Energy on Control, Accounting, and Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials, signed at the seventh meeting of the U.S.- Russian Joint Commission on Economic and Technological Cooperation on July 15-16, 1996, in Moscow. 36