Nuclear Nonproliferation:

DOE's Efforts to Assist Weapons Scientists in Russia's Nuclear Cities Face Challenges

GAO-01-429: Published: May 3, 2001. Publicly Released: May 15, 2001.

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TThe United States and Russia began an ambitious nonproliferation program, the Nuclear Cities Initiative (NCI), to create sustainable job opportunities for weapons scientists in Russia's closed nuclear cities and to help Russia accelerate the downsizing of its nuclear weapons complex in in 1998. The program, however, poses a daunting challenge. The nuclear cities are geographically and economically isolated, access is restricted for security reasons, and weapons scientists are not accustomed to working for commercial businesses. Thus, Western businesses are reluctant to invest in the nuclear cities. This report reviews (1) the costs to implement NCI, including the amount of program funds spent in the United States and Russia, as well as planned expenditures; (2) the impact of NCI projects; and (3) the status of the European Nuclear Cities Initiative. GAO summarized this report in testimony before Congress; see: Nuclear Nonproliferation: DOE's Efforts to Secure Nuclear Material and Employ Weapons Scientists in Russia, by Gary L. Jones, Director Natural Resources and Environment, before the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, Senate Committee on Armed Services. GAO-01-726T, May 15 (10 pages).

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: The Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration should evaluate all of the ongoing NCI projects, particularly those that focus on community development activities, and eliminate those that do not support DOE's stated objectives of creating jobs in the nuclear cities and downsizing the Russian nuclear weapons complex.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOE is in the process of implementing this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration should establish quantifiable goals and milestones for jobs creation and downsizing the weapons complex that will more clearly gauge progress in the nuclear cities and use this information to help assess future program expansion plans and potential costs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOE has implemented this recommendation based on discussion with NNSA/RTI official, George Pomeroy, Senior Advisor, Nuclear Cities Initiative.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration should strengthen efforts to reduce national laboratories' costs to implement the program in an effort to place more NCI funds in Russia.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: This key recommendation was implemented in 2002 as part of the reorganization of the Nuclear Cities Initiative and Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention Program under the newly created Russian Transition Initiatives. This information was obtained from George Pomeroy, DOE/NNSA, Senior Advisor, Nuclear Cities Initiative.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, in order to maximize limited program resources, should determine whether NCI and the Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention Program (IPP) should be consolidated into one effort--including a determination of what changes in authorizing legislation would be necessary--with a view toward achieving potential cost savings and other programmatic and administrative efficiencies.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Programs were consolidated under the RTI umbrella organization based on GAO's recommendation.

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