Weapons of Mass Destruction:

Status of the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program

NSIAD-96-222: Published: Sep 27, 1996. Publicly Released: Sep 27, 1996.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Department of Defense's (DOD) draft 1996 multiyear Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) program plan, focusing on its: (1) estimated costs; and (2) potential impacts on helping control nuclear weapons and materials, and eliminating strategic delivery vehicles.

GAO found that: (1) the draft 1996 CTR multiyear plan does not adequately reflect budgetary uncertainties associated with some projects and cost estimates or important developments that have occurred since 1995; (2) although the CTR program has made progress in helping Russia dismantle and store its nuclear weapons arsenal, DOD has not yet resolved important issues concerning planned Russian nuclear weapons storage and chemical weapons destruction facility projects; (3) the estimated costs for the chemical weapons facility are unknown; (4) the United States has capped its support for the nuclear weapons storage facility that is now under construction, but CTR officials do not plan to cap support for the chemical weapons destruction facility; (5) funding decisions for the chemical weapons destruction facility are compounded by the facility's potential high cost and questions on whether the facility will be effective at reducing the overall Russian chemical weapons threat; (6) DOD officials consider the threat from chemical weapons to be less urgent than the Russian nuclear threat; (7) Russia may not be able to meet the terms of the Chemical Weapons Convention unless six more facilities are constructed and other nations resume their funding commitments; (8) CTR officials lack the data needed to independently determine the extent and effect of Russia's controls over nuclear materials; (9) DOD has allocated or requested almost $1.5 billion for chemical weapon destruction, nuclear security, and delivery vehicle destruction projects through 1997; and (10) CTR program costs through 2001 are estimated to be $3.2 billion.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Congress incorporated such language in section 1407 of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY1998 (Public Law 105-85).

    Matter: Congress may wish to consider linking DOD authority to obligate some or all of the funds that it may provide for constructing a fissile material storage facility in Russia to completion of a transparency agreement regarding the facility's use.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The plan transmitted to Congress in 1997 included improved explanations of changes in cost estimates.

    Recommendation: To help clarify the presentation of programmatic and cost issues, the Secretary of Defense should direct that the annual CTR multiyear program plan submitted to Congress identify and explain: (1) significant cost, schedule, or scope changes from the preceding year's plan; and (2) known uncertainties affecting project cost estimates and schedules.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Congress included similar language, based on GAO's work, in sections 1405 and 1406 of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY1998 (Public Law 105-85).

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should refrain from obligating any CTR funds for constructing a chemical weapons destruction facility in Russia until DOD has completed a construction cost estimate based on a one-third completed design and specified the U.S. share of the estimated costs.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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