Nuclear Nonproliferation: DOE's Efforts to Secure Nuclear Material and Employ Weapons Scientists in Russia

GAO-01-726T Published: May 15, 2001. Publicly Released: May 15, 2001.
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The security systems installed by the Department of Energy (DOE) are reducing the risk of theft of nuclear material in Russia, but hundreds of metric tons of nuclear material still lack improved security systems. As of February 2001, DOE had installed, at a cost of about $601 million, completed or partially completed systems that protect 192 metric tons of the 603 metric tons of nuclear material identified at risk of theft. These systems, although not as stringent as those installed in the United States, are designed to prevent individuals or small groups of criminals from stealing nuclear material. During its first two years of operation, DOE's Nuclear Cities Initiative (NCI) has had limited success. DOE estimates that the program employs about 370 people, including many weapons scientists who are primarily working on a part-time basis through research projects sponsored by the U.S. national laboratories. A disproportionate amount of the NCI program's funding has been spent in the U.S. GAO also found that DOE's NCI program lacks a plan for the future. This testimony summarizes two reports, GAO-01-312, and GAO-01-429.

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