1
IMPORTANCE OF MODERN MPC&A SYSTEMS IN RUSSIA

AVAILABILITY OF DIRECT-USE MATERIAL

A major technical barrier confronting any nation or group seeking to develop a nuclear weapon is the acquisition of direct-use material. 2 Such material includes separated plutonium (plutonium) and unirradiated highly enriched uranium (HEU). This material can be used directly in weapons without the need for complicated chemical processing. Several kilograms of plutonium or several times that amount of HEU are the minimum required to construct a nuclear weapon, with the quantity depending on the composition of the material, the type of weapon, and the sophistication of the design. The U.S. government estimates that the current inventory of direct-use material in the Russia is about 150 metric tons of plutonium and 1,200 metric tons of HEU. About one-half of each of these quantities (i.e., 75 metric tons of plutonium and 600 metric tons of HEU) is incorporated into weapons and the other half is in various forms—particularly metals, oxides, solutions, and scrap—at many enterprises and institutes throughout Russia.3

This study does not address plutonium and HEU in weapons because the control of weapons raises issues that are distinct from those surrounding the security of direct-use material. Therefore, this study considers material in the custody of the Ministry of Atomic Energy (MINATOM), as well as within the

2  

The committee recognizes the difficulty of many countries in developing delivery systems as well as the vital role of a number of international regimes in limiting access to the technologies necessary for these systems.

3  

MPC&A Program Strategic Plan, Office of Arms Control and Nonproliferation, U.S. Department of Energy, January 1998, p. 2. While these figures are commonly cited as the amounts in the former Soviet Union, almost all of this material is in Russia. For more information on estimates of Russian stocks of HEU and Pu, see David Albright, Frans Berkout, and William Walker, Plutonium and Highly Enriched Uranium: World Inventories, Capabilities, and Policies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), pp. 50–59 and pp. 94–116.



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 7
Protecting Nuclear Weapons Material in Russia 1 IMPORTANCE OF MODERN MPC&A SYSTEMS IN RUSSIA AVAILABILITY OF DIRECT-USE MATERIAL A major technical barrier confronting any nation or group seeking to develop a nuclear weapon is the acquisition of direct-use material. 2 Such material includes separated plutonium (plutonium) and unirradiated highly enriched uranium (HEU). This material can be used directly in weapons without the need for complicated chemical processing. Several kilograms of plutonium or several times that amount of HEU are the minimum required to construct a nuclear weapon, with the quantity depending on the composition of the material, the type of weapon, and the sophistication of the design. The U.S. government estimates that the current inventory of direct-use material in the Russia is about 150 metric tons of plutonium and 1,200 metric tons of HEU. About one-half of each of these quantities (i.e., 75 metric tons of plutonium and 600 metric tons of HEU) is incorporated into weapons and the other half is in various forms—particularly metals, oxides, solutions, and scrap—at many enterprises and institutes throughout Russia.3 This study does not address plutonium and HEU in weapons because the control of weapons raises issues that are distinct from those surrounding the security of direct-use material. Therefore, this study considers material in the custody of the Ministry of Atomic Energy (MINATOM), as well as within the 2   The committee recognizes the difficulty of many countries in developing delivery systems as well as the vital role of a number of international regimes in limiting access to the technologies necessary for these systems. 3   MPC&A Program Strategic Plan, Office of Arms Control and Nonproliferation, U.S. Department of Energy, January 1998, p. 2. While these figures are commonly cited as the amounts in the former Soviet Union, almost all of this material is in Russia. For more information on estimates of Russian stocks of HEU and Pu, see David Albright, Frans Berkout, and William Walker, Plutonium and Highly Enriched Uranium: World Inventories, Capabilities, and Policies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), pp. 50–59 and pp. 94–116.

OCR for page 7
Protecting Nuclear Weapons Material in Russia authority of several other organizations, but not material in the custody of the Ministry of Defense, other than fuel for nuclear reactors of the navy.4 This organizational boundary for the study is consistent with the proscribed scope of the effort because the Ministry of Defense usually has custody of weapons but, with the exception of naval fuel, usually does not have custody of other direct-use material.5 As the result of on-the-ground experience during the past several years, the Department of Energy (DOE) has gained new insights as to the vastness of the dispersion of direct-use material throughout the Russian nuclear complex and the inadequacies of material protection, control, and accountability (MPC&A) systems at many facilities. DOE considers the security deficiencies much greater, both in terms of the number of buildings that require upgrades and the extent of upgrades that are needed, than previously estimated. Current estimates are that over 400 buildings require enhanced MPC&A systems.6 As indicated in Table 1-1, DOE categorizes the sites at which direct-use material is located, as follows: Defense-related sites: uranium and plutonium cities, the nuclear weapons complex, locations of maritime fuel. Civilian-related sites: large fuel facilities, reactor-type facilities. During the Soviet era, the security over almost all direct-use material was very tight. The discipline and loyalty of managers, workers, and guards in the Soviet nuclear weapons complex were seldom in question. They were well paid and well respected within Soviet society, and, like all Soviet citizens, they were subject to surveillance by the KGB and other security agencies. Physical protection was based more on deployment of manpower than on use of technical devices; there were extensive guard forces to control travel across closed borders, into and out of closed cities, and into and out of closed facilities. The civilian portion of the nuclear complex also was under special security arrangements, although not as exacting as security in the military portion.7 The Soviets maintained primitive accounting systems for direct-use material at each facility, relying primarily on handwritten documentation and only occasionally on computer-based records. The documentation was not always 4   The Department of Defense (DOD) has a separate program with the Ministry of Defense on improving security and accounting for nuclear warheads. This program is not reviewed in this report. 5   The committee observes that there are other materials, some of which are outside the control of both MINATOM and MOD, that could be used in weapons with a limited amount of chemical processing. In particular, HEU in spent fuel rods that has low burnup rates and/or has been in storage for many years also may be an immediate proliferation threat. 6   DOE briefing of committee staff, March 1999. 7   For more information about Soviet-era security, see Oleg Bukharin, "Security of Fissile Materials in Russia," Annual Review of Energy and the Environment, Vol. 21, pp. 467–496, 1996.

OCR for page 7
Protecting Nuclear Weapons Material in Russia TABLE 1-1 Sites of MPC&A Cooperation as of January 1998 DEFENSE RELATED SITES Uranium and Plutonium Cities 1. Chelyabinsk-65/Ozersk, Mayak Production Facility 2. Tomsk-7/Seversk, Siberian Chemical Combine 3. Krasnoyarsk-26/Zheleznogorsk, Mining and Chemical Combine 4. Krasnoyarsk-45/Zelenogorsk, Uranium Isotope Separation Plant 5. Sverdlovsk-44/Novouralsk, Urals Electrochemical Integrated Plant Nuclear Weapons Complex 6. Arzamas-16/Sarov, All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Experimental Physics 7. Chelyabinsk-70/Snezhinsk, All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Technical Physics 8. Avangard Plant 9. Sverdlovsk-54/Lesnoy 10. Penza-19/Zarechny 11. Zlatoust-36/Trekhgorny Maritime Fuel 12. Navy Site 49 13. Navy 2nd Site Northern Fleet Storage Site 14. Navy Site 34 15. PM-63 Refueling Ship 16. PM-12 Refueling Ship 17. PM-74 Refueling Ship 18. Sevmash Shipyard 19. Icebreaker Fleet 20. Kurchatov Institute, Navy Regulatory Project, Navy Training Project CIVILIAN SITES Large Fuel Facilities 21. Elekstrostal Production Association Machine Building Plant 22. Novosibirsk Chemical Concentrates Plant 23. Podolsk, Scientific Production Association Luch 24. Dmitrovgrad, Scientific Research Institute of Atomic Reactors 25. Obninsk, Institute of Physics and Power Engineering 26. Bochvar All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Inorganic Materials Reactor-Type Facilities 27. Dubna, Joint Institute of Nuclear Research 28. Scientific Research and Design Institute of Power Technology 29. Moscow Institute of Theoretical and Experimental Physics 30. Moscow State Engineering Physics Institute 31. Karpov Institute of Physical Chemistry 32. Beloyarsk Nuclear Power Plant 33. Sverdlovsk Branch of Scientific Research and Design Institute of Power Technology 34. Khlopin Radium Institute 35. Tomsk Polytechnical University 36. Petersburg Nuclear Physics Institute 37. Krylov Shipbuilding Institute 38. Lytkarino Research Institute of Scientific Instruments 39. Norilsk 40. Baltisky Zavod   Source: U.S. Department of Energy

OCR for page 7
Protecting Nuclear Weapons Material in Russia complete or easily retrievable, and there have been reports that some facilities kept material in reserve—off the books—to ensure that quotas for producing materials could be met. Moreover, the committee was informed that there were significant errors in the records (e.g., in one case, supplies of HEU we recorded as low-enriched uranium). In 1997 the U.S. intelligence community stated that "the Russians may not know where all their material is located."8 The end of the cold war and the prospect of significant nuclear arms reductions reduced the defense roles for many nuclear facilities, and the future of large segments of the Russian nuclear complex became uncertain. In the early 1990s, MINATOM began instructing its institutes to become self-supporting and less reliant on government funds. Ministry and institute budgets declined precipitously, many buildings deteriorated badly, and a number of laboratories simply closed. MPC&A activities at many institutes suffered very directly as reliable guards and other key security personnel with uncertain paychecks were recruited by private security firms, and the support of activities that did not generate income, such as MPC&A, was given low priority. At the beginning of 1998, DOE highlighted a number of MPC&A deficiencies that were attributed both to the lingering Soviet legacy and to economic difficulties: lack of unified physical protection standards and inadequate defenses of buildings and facilities within site-perimeter fences; lack of portal monitors to detect fissile materials leaving or entering a site; inadequate central alarm stations and inadequate alarm assessment and display capabilities; inadequate protection of guards from small-arms fire and inadequate guard force communications; lack of material accounting procedures that can detect and localize nuclear material losses; inadequate measurements of waste, scrap, and hold-up nuclear materials during processing and inadequate accounting of transfers of nuclear materials between facilities; antiquated tamper-indicating devices (seals) on nuclear material containers that cannot guarantee timely detection of nuclear material diversion.9 As recounted in the 1997 report by the National Research Council, Russian officials have reported two dozen incidents of thefts and attempted thefts of nuclear-related items at their facilities, with the last ones occurring in 1994. All of the cases involved much smaller quantities of material than would be 8   John Deutch, "The Threat of Nuclear Diversion," testimony to the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Senate Committee on Government Affairs, March 20, 1996. 9   MPC&A Program Strategic Plan, p. 3.

OCR for page 7
Protecting Nuclear Weapons Material in Russia necessary to make a nuclear weapon.10 U.S. officials recently confirmed that there had been seven smuggling incidents during the early 1990s involving small amounts of weapons-usable material, which they suspected were stolen from sites in Russia and other countries of the former Soviet Union.11 There have not been confirmed reports available to the committee of additional cases of theft or attempted theft. In light of the inadequacies of the existing MPC&A systems, however, the possibility of undetected thefts cannot be ruled out. RUSSIAN ECONOMIC CRISIS OF 1998 During the summer of 1998, Russia approached the brink of economic collapse with the bankruptcy of leading Russian banks, defaults on foreign debts, devaluation of the ruble, and dramatic increases in the rate of inflation. Both Russian and Western investors took steps to withdraw considerable amounts of money from the economy, and foreign assistance agencies—under the leadership of the International Monetary Fund—reconsidered the viability of their lending and grant programs in Russia. For individual Russians, this economic chaos resulted almost immediately in extended delays in receiving paychecks, a significant decline in purchasing power of paychecks when received, and losses and devaluations of personal savings. Already inadequate medical services deteriorated still further, and the reliability of heating and electrical systems declined. This latest round of economic problems resulted in termination of employment for tens of thousands of Russian workers, with more layoffs promised in the months ahead. MINATOM announced plans to downsize its nuclear complex, and the likelihood of job opportunities in the private sector dwindled. Institutes and enterprises that possessed direct-use material were faced with many new financial problems. MINATOM and other government ministries that provided financial resources for the institutes saw their budgets severely slashed, and some foreign sources of financing hesitated to commit additional funds to Russia until the economic situation stabilized. Strikes erupted in Snezhinsk and other nuclear cities where paychecks were delayed. Some Russian institutes also did not have the funds to ensure the continuous functioning of power and communications systems needed for operation of modern detection, alarm, and related security devices. The guard forces of the Ministry of Interior at facilities where direct-use material is located were particularly hard hit with the onset of winter. Some had no winter uniforms for outside patrols, and the heat in buildings often was turned off. Many were without paychecks, and they were no longer served adequate meals as the budgets for support disappeared. The committee heard 10   National Research Council, Proliferation Concerns: Assessing U.S. Efforts to Help Contain Nuclear and Other Dangerous Materials and Technologies in the Former Soviet Union (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1997), p. 57. 11   MPC&A Strategic Plan, p. 3.

OCR for page 7
Protecting Nuclear Weapons Material in Russia reports of guards leaving their posts to search for food. Not surprisingly, the guards had little incentive to carry out their duties, and their superiors were not prepared to force the guards to suffer unreasonable hardships. This is a serious concern because the physical protection systems are not effective if guard forces are unavailable to respond to intrusions. The emergency measures of DOE to address these problems during the winter of 1998–1999, undertaken at a cost of about $600,000, were a necessary start in ensuring that the guards could perform at a professional level despite economic hardships. Many government officials, managers, and workers who have access to direct-use material (or who could arrange such access) have been confronted with economic shortfalls even more severe than those in the dreary days of the early 1990s. As they struggle to keep food on the table, the likelihood of attempted thefts or diversions of direct-use material has increased significantly, according to both U.S. and Russian experts.12 ELEMENTS OF A MODERN MPC&A SYSTEM MPC&A systems are intended to protect material against theft or diversion and to detect such events if they occur. Physical protection systems should allow for the detection of any unauthorized penetration of barriers and portals, thereby triggering an immediate response, including the use of force if necessary. The system should delay intruders long enough to allow for an effective response. Fences, multiple barriers to entry, limited access points, alarms, and motion detectors are examples of elements of a modern system. Material control systems should prevent unauthorized movement of materials and allow for the prompt detection of the theft or diversion of material. Such systems may include portal monitors and other devices to control egress from storage sites; authorized flow paths, storage locations, and secure containers for material; and seals and identification codes that make it possible to verify readily the location and condition of material. Material accountability systems should ensure that all material is accounted for, enable the measurement of losses, and provide information for follow-up investigations of irregularities. Inventory systems and equipment to measure the types and quantities of materials in given areas are important. Personnel reliability, ensured through security screening, indoctrination, and training, is common to all of the systems. Procedural controls, such as the 12   See, for example, Department of Energy, "Emergency MPC&A Sustainability Measures," November, 1998; Bill Richardson, "Russia's Recession: The Nuclear Fallout," The Washington Post, December 23, 1998; and Kenneth Luongo and Matthew Bunn, "A Nuclear Crisis in Russia,'' The Boston Globe, December 29, 1998.

OCR for page 7
Protecting Nuclear Weapons Material in Russia TABLE 1-2 Components of an MPC&A System   Physical Protection Control Accounting Detection and assessment (sensors, alarms, and assessment systems such as video) X X   Delay (barriers, locks, traps, booths, active measures) X X   Response (communications, interruption, neutralization) X     Response team X     Entry-and-exit control (badges, biometrics, nuclear material detectors, metal detectors, explosive detectors) X X   Communications and display X X   Measurements and measurement control (weight volume, chemical analysis, isotopic analysis, neutron, gamma, calorimetry)   X X Item control (barcodes, seals, material surveillance)   X   Records and reports     X Inventory   X X Integrated planning, implementation, and effectiveness evaluation X X X Supporting functions (personnel, procedures, training, organization, administration) X X X   Source: NRC Report, Proliferation Concerns

OCR for page 7
Protecting Nuclear Weapons Material in Russia two-man rule (no single employee is left alone in a sensitive area), also play a role.13 MPC&A systems rest on the principles of graded safeguards (level of protection is commensurate with the risk of loss of material) and defense in depth (redundant layers of protection). The systems should be sufficiently robust to accommodate threats of all types; threats may be external, such as break-ins by dissident or terrorist groups, or internal, such as thefts by employees. Table 1-2 outlines the basic features of a modern MPC&A system in more detail. DOE'S Cooperative Program in MPC&A Cooperative efforts to upgrade MPC&A systems in Russia were first considered by the two governments in 1992, but joint projects began only in 1994 because of delays in intergovernmental negotiations. In January 1995, an existing agreement between DOD and MINATOM was amended to add $20 million from Nunn-Lugar funds for MPC&A upgrades, with DOE having the responsibility on the U.S. side.14 In the meantime, in April 1994, DOE had initiated a second approach that encouraged DOE laboratories to cooperate directly with Russian institutes—the lab-to-lab program. In a 1995 joint statement, Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin reaffirmed the commitments of the two governments to cooperation in MPC&A, and expanded cooperation followed. Since that time, there have been many U.S.—Russian meetings at the presidential, vice-presidential, and ministerial levels to confirm previous understandings, reach new agreements for specific activities, and reduce impediments to cooperation. These high-level meetings have been followed by dozens of working-level meetings in Moscow and Washington to develop details of the program. DOE has working arrangements not only with MINATOM, but also with the Russian navy, GOSATOMNADZOR, the Murmansk Shipping Company, and a large number of institutes within and outside the MINATOM system. U.S. funding commitments to the program are set forth in Table 1-3. Although it was envisioned that the program would ramp downward beginning in FY 1999 and into future years, the new recognition of the scope of the problem and the economic downturn in Russia have resulted in a change of U.S. policy. DOE now is committed to a longer-term program, as reflected in statements in January 1999 of both President Clinton and Secretary Richardson expressing strong support for the program.15 13   National Research Council, Material Control and Accounting in the Department of Energy's Nuclear Fuel Complex (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1989), pp. 38–42. 14   The Nunn-Lugar Program dealt broadly with the reduction of the nuclear threat, encompassing weapons dismantlement and storage. 15   President William J. Clinton, ''State of the Union Address," Washington, D.C., January 19, 1999; and Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson, "Remarks at the 7th Carnegie

OCR for page 7
Protecting Nuclear Weapons Material in Russia TABLE 1-3 Finances of the MPC&A Program, Budgeted (Actual) Costs (millions of dollars) Agency 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999** 2000 DOE 3.0 (1.7) 4.0 (4.0) 12.0 (10.4) 85.0 (31.0) 112.6 (84.3) 132.0 (132.6) 140.1 (37.1) 145.0 DOD 0 0 6.5 (0.7) 60.5 (13.5) 14.3 (27.9) 3.3 (19.2) 0.0 (16.7) 0.0 (4.4)   TOTAL 3.0 (1.7) 10.5 (4.7) 72.5 (23.9) 99.3 (58.9) 115.9 (103.5) 132.0 (149.3) 140.1 (41.5)   * The difference between the amount allocated and actual costs is the result of DOE accounting rules on when funds are considered spent. There is a delay of many months between decisions to spend funds on specific activities and the recording of funds as actually spent. So, the amounts for actual costs for each year include funds from previous years. ** The 1999 costs are through January 1999 only. Source: Department of Energy Since 1997, the program has been managed on the U.S. side by an MPC&A Task Force within DOE headquarters, which works in coordination with the national laboratories. The government-to-government and the lab-to-lab programs were merged because they had the same objectives, used similar technical approaches, and involved many of the same U.S. specialists. From the outset, the stated objective of the DOE program has been "to enhance, through Russian-U.S. technical cooperation, the effectiveness of MPC&A in Russian nuclear facilities that process or store HEU or plutonium."16 The long-term goal is for Russia to support the continued operation of upgraded MPC&A systems at the national and site levels in order to ensure the security of all weapons-usable material within its borders.17 DOE initially utilized both horizontal and vertical approaches to address the problems at specific sites. The horizontal approach responded to a common need at many facilities (e.g., portal monitors), and the vertical approach     International Non-Proliferation Conference," Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Washington, D.C., January 12, 1999. 16   Joint U.S.-Russian MPC&A Steering Group, "Unified U.S.-Russian Plan for Cooperation on Nuclear Materials Protection, Control, and Accounting (MPC&A) Between Department of Energy Laboratories and the Institutes and Enterprises of the Ministry of Atomic Energy (Minatom) Nuclear Defense Complex," September 1, 1995, p. 5. 17   Joint U.S.-Russian MPC&A Steering Group, "Unified U.S.-Russian Plan for Cooperation on Nuclear Materials Protection, Control, and Accounting Between Department of Energy Laboratories and the Institutes and Enterprises of the Ministry of Atomic Energy Nuclear Defense Complex," September 1, 1995, p. 5.

OCR for page 7
Protecting Nuclear Weapons Material in Russia concentrated on installing complete systems at selected facilities. More recently, DOE has emphasized the vertical approach. The general Program Guidelines issued by the Task Force in January 1998 are set forth in Appendix E. These guidelines broadly sketch the program mission, from establishing MPC&A cooperation at all sites to implementing systematic and rapid upgrades to ensuring sustainability. The Task Force also issued a guidance document concerning the approaches that are to be implemented at specific sites.18 DOE believes that it has initiated program activity at almost all sites where direct-use material is located. However, at very few sites has the program involved activities at all buildings where material is stored, and at many sites, the contents of some buildings are known only in very general terms. DOE's imperfect knowledge and some limitations on the scope of the MPC&A programs are inevitable because the program is concerned with activities at the core of Russian national security activities. Overall, the program has been reasonably successful in overcoming Russian concerns as to U.S. motives, although lingering suspicions probably remain among some Russian officials. Finally, the MPC&A program is only one of several national security programs in Russia supported by DOE. Other programs are the Nuclear Cities Initiative (to encourage commercial activities in closed cities), the Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention (to provide appropriate civilian-oriented employment opportunities for former weapons scientists), cooperation on nuclear reactor safety, the U.S. purchase of 500 tons of HEU from Russia, experiments with MOX reactor fuel, conversion of the nuclear reactor cores in power plants at Tomsk 7 and Krasnoyarsk 26, coordination of activities related to nuclear smuggling, and the broader programs on disposition of excess plutonium.19 In addition, there are other related programs of the U.S. government, including the projects of the International Science and Technology Center, the Cooperative Threat Reduction program of DOD, and the assistance efforts of the U.S. Agency for International Development. As DOE's MPC&A Task Force readily acknowledges, there has not been sufficient cooperation among these activities to ensure that they reinforce one another. 18   Guidelines for Material Protection, Control, and Accounting Upgrades at Russian Facilities, December 1998. 19   For an overview of many of these programs, see Matthew Bunn and John Holdren, "Managing Military Uranium and Plutonium in the United States and the Former Soviet Union," Annual Review of Energy and the Environment, Vol. 22, pp. 403–486,1997.