At a May 2 event on Capitol Hill, the Non-Proliferation Project officially released a new report, "Russia's Nuclear and Missile Complex: The Human Factor in Proliferation" by Russian social scientist Valentin Tikhonov. Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher (D-CA), a leading expert in the House on nonproliferation issues, spoke at the event. The Congresswoman is one of only a handful of Americans to have ever visited Russia's nuclear cities, which for decades remained closed to the outside world.
At the event, Associate Jon Wolfsthal noted that "the report confirmed what we already suspected, but had not been able to adequately quantify ... the picture is a gloomy one, filled with underpaid experts who have low moral. Worse, these top minds are already moving to obtain work outside their 'official responsibilities.'"
Senior Associate Rose Gottemoeller pointed out that the Nuclear Cities Initiative has enabled the U.S. to deal with the significant strategic nuclear problem -- the surge capacity in Russian warhead production plants. She remarked that Moscow has asked for help in accelerating, by five years, the shutdown of its Avangard-Panza-19 plants. The program's success is demonstrated in the fact that the U.S. has an opportunity this year to halt all weapons work at Avangard ahead of schedule. However, Gottemoeller noted that the budget cuts for these programs proposed by the President will delay the plant's shutdown.
Excerpts of Congresswoman Tauscher's remarks follow:
Congresswoman Tauscher: The threat of nuclear scientists leaving Russia is not an issue of humanitarian concern or foreign aid. This is an issue of national security.
Which country Russian scientists choose depends on who is the highest bidder. We know that Iran and North Korea are attempting to build up their nuclear arsenals, yet we are doing little to prevent them from doing so.
We know what we need to do. Our nonproliferation programs in Russia have proven to be successful. Through programs associated with the Nunn-Lugar legislation of 1991, more nuclear weapons have been removed from service in the former Soviet Union than currently reside in the stockpiles of the China, France and the United Kingdom combined. Through our cooperative programs with Russia, we have eliminated 258 Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles and 50 ICBM silos, 42 Heavy Bombers and 17 ballistic missile submarines. And this is only a small piece of what we’ve been able to do.
Yet the President’s budget hollows these programs out. We need to increase the budgets for our cooperative nonproliferation programs, and we need to do it now. If the President wants to demonstrate a real commitment to reducing the nuclear threat, he would devote even a tiny portion of what he wants to spend on a missile defense system that may or may not work to the proven nonproliferation programs.
We have an unprecedented opportunity in Russia to gain access to their nuclear cities — cities so secret that they didn’t even appear on maps ten years ago. The Russians are opening up their facilities to us more every day, and it looks like President Bush wants to waste this opportunity for real progress on nonproliferation.