Soviet Nuclear Weapons:

Priorities and Costs Associated with U.S. Dismantlement Assistance

NSIAD-93-154: Published: Mar 8, 1993. Publicly Released: Mar 8, 1993.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed U.S. efforts to support former Soviet nuclear weapons dismantlement, focusing on: (1) whether the United States has developed complete, prioritized lists of all items affecting nuclear weapon destruction; (2) private industry's involvement in prioritizing nuclear weapons dismantlement; (3) the amount of progress in dismantling nuclear weapons as a result of direct U.S. aid; and (4) the number, cost, duration, and source of funding for trips to the former Soviet Union.

GAO found that: (1) the United States has not prepared prioritized lists of items that affect the destruction of former Soviet nuclear weapons; (2) the ability to prioritize items is limited by Russia's rejection of direct U.S. assistance and a lack of technically trained personnel; (3) the United States planned to provide $90 million for four projects aimed at improving the safety and security of Russia's existing nuclear weapons; (4) the United States has shifted priorities toward dismantling nuclear weapon delivery vehicles and supporting Russian efforts for a proposed fissile material storage facility; (5) the United States did not involve private industry experts in its efforts to develop priorities for dismantling nuclear weapons primarily to avoid unfair competitive advantages and the general feeling that the U.S. government should define its overall priorities for the program; (6) only a few former Soviet nuclear weapons have been dismantled and only limited amounts of U.S. nuclear safety equipment has been delivered; (7) between December 1991 and December 1992, 185 officials from various agencies made 343 trips to Russia and the other independent republics in support of nuclear weapons dismantling efforts at a cost of $1.68 million; and (8) the Department of Defense financed about 21 percent of the travel costs and executive branch general appropriations paid the balance of the costs.

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