Nuclear Weapons:

Russia's Request for the Export of U.S. Computers for Stockpile Maintenance

T-NSIAD-96-245: Published: Sep 30, 1996. Publicly Released: Sep 30, 1996.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the proposed export of U.S. high performance computers to Russian nuclear weapons laboratories. GAO noted that: (1) the executive branch has held discussions with the Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy (MINATOM) and other officials on the possibility of undertaking cooperative projects under a comprehensive test ban treaty; (2) the cooperative projects would be unclassified and would not enhance the performance of Russian nuclear weapons or contribute to Russian nuclear weapons design; (3) the proposed export of these computers raises concerns on whether Russia will adhere to U.S. policy regarding stockpile maintenance, use the computers for other nuclear activities, or attempt to develop or acquire additional high performance computers from other non-U.S. sources; (4) the United States has set boundaries for cooperation with Russia to ensure that the information exchange does not contribute to Russian nuclear weapons design or enhance Russian nuclear weapons military performance; (5) a MINATOM official has expressed concern regarding U.S. export restrictions on high performance computers and has requested that Russian and U.S. officials discuss the possible export of a Convex SPP 2000 Computer; and (6) Russia is unlikely to have acquired computers with more than 3,500 million theoretical operations per second due to lackluster sales for these computers by the United States and Japan.

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