Weapons of Mass Destruction:

Reducing the Threat From the Former Soviet Union

NSIAD-95-7: Published: Oct 6, 1994. Publicly Released: Oct 6, 1994.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Defense's (DOD) Cooperative Threat Reduction Program (CTR) to reduce threats from weapons of mass destruction in the former Soviet Union, focusing on the program's: (1) progress in implementing projects and obligating funds; (2) overall planning; (3) potential impact; and (4) use of funds for nonpriority objectives.

GAO found that: (1) DOD plans to obligate 81 percent of CTR funds for 36 projects that focus primarily on three CTR priority objectives; (2) CTR obligations and spending have been slowed by the need to establish agreements with new Soviet republics and complexities caused by authorizing legislation; (3) DOD plans to allocate $400 million for CTR projects in fiscal year 1995 and to request $400 million annually for future CTR projects; (4) the CTR budget will top $3 billion dollars if all planned CTR spending is approved; (5) CTR officials have not established a long-term planning process, prepared a multiyear plan and requirement-based funding profile, or implemented an audit and examination process; (6) the program's long-term impact is unclear and appears to vary widely from project to project; (7) CTR priority objectives include nuclear warhead dismantlement, safety and security, strategic delivery vehicles, chemical weapons, and nonproliferation; and (8) DOD plans to spend $153 million on nonpriority CTR objectives and will emphasize defense conversion over nonproliferation in deciding future CTR project funding despite its uncertain prospects for success.

Matters for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In accordance with the Emergency Supplemental Appropriation Act, P.L. 104-6, $20 million was rescinded from the Fiscal Year 1995 Former Soviet Union Threat Reduction Appropriation for housing, defense conversion, and the Defense Enterprise Fund.

    Matter: Given the uncertainties concerning defense conversion in Russia, Congress may wish to consider withholding large-scale funding for future Russian defense conversion projects until the initial results of currently funded projects have been assessed.

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: H.R. 1530, passed by the House of Representatives in June 1995, only approves $6 million for continued design activities associated with a fissile material storage facility in Russia. The bill denied $23 million in requested construction funds for the storage facility.

    Matter: Because the executive branch has not clearly articulated U.S. objectives with regard to the storage facility, Congress may wish to consider requiring the executive branch to provide a detailed explanation of how the nuclear material storage facility will: (1) serve U.S. nonproliferation interests; and (2) directly affect Russian warhead dismantlement.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1995 required that DOD: (1) submit a report that estimated the total amount required to be expended by the United States in order to achieve the objectives of the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) program; and (2) prepare a multiyear plan for the use of amounts and other resources provided by the United States for the CTR program and to provide guidance for preparation of annual budget submissions. In March 1995, DOD issued its strategic plan that incorporated these elements and intends to update the plan annually.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should institute a proactive, long-term CTR planning process to help DOD properly allocate the billions of dollars it hopes to spend over the next several years among many competing--and shifting--demands. Such a planning process should incorporate estimates of total requirements for achieving CTR objectives, prioritization of competing objectives, evaluations of projects, and assessments of what U.S. aid could reasonably achieve in overcoming obstacles confronting CTR objectives. Under this planning process, DOD officials should periodically revise and update the plan and use it in producing annual budget submissions that are keyed to achieving priority CTR goals.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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