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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


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; accessed May 1, 2008.


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).

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