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Nuclear security in Russia: Inadequate and outdated

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

(December 19, 1994) It is too early to make final conclusions while a working group of Russia's Security Council continues its study, but it is still clear that the situation with the storage of plutonium in Russia Is extremely unsatisfactory.

(424.4204) Milieu Kontakt Oost-Europa - Information has been published in the press more than once concerning the thefts of nuclear materials and smuggling. Now, though, for the first time, the Russian press has published a list of those institutions and enterprises which most urgently require modernization of their security systems. The main problem with the current security measures is that they were designed only for handling outside threats.

One reason for the 'growing number of attempts to steal nuclear materials is the sharp worsening of the economic situation faced by workers employed by the Ministry of Atomic Industry (MAI). Others are the lack of a good accounting system for registering and controlling the amounts of the materials entering and leaving facilities, as well as a safeguards system to ensure that those materials are physically protected. This was con-firmed at an international seminar, "Scientists for Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons", held in October at Nakhabina, near Moscow, an initiative of the Nuclear Society.

The current lack of funds does not allow for reorganizing the entire system. And the entire system needs reorganizing. Previously the production of nuclear materials and their control were carried out within the MAI alone, but the functions involved in the supervision 'of the nulcear fuel cycle have now been banded over to another organization, the State Committee of Atomic Supervision (SCAS). At the present stage, though, the two departments have still not been able to work out which department has which limits and responsibilities. And anyway, says Moscow News reporter Valery Menshchikov, "What independent checkup by an SCAS inspector is possible today when even operation of installations do not have the technical means for control and registering?"

The following is a list of nine institutions and enterprises urgently needing modernization of their systems of registering, control and physical protection is taken from Menshchikov's Moscow News article, though he says it is incomplete.

  1. Kurchatov Institute, Russian re-search center, Moscow.
  2. Physics and Energy Institue, Obninks.
  3. V.G. Khopin Radium Institute, St. Peterburg Scientific and Production Association.
  4. Federal nuclear centers Kremlev (Arzamas-16) and
  5. Snezhinsk (Chelyabinsk-70).
  6. Zheleznogorsk mining and chemical plant (Krasnoyarsk-26)
  7. Siberian Chemical Plant, Seversk (Tomsk-7)
  8. Mayak scientific and production association, Ozersk (Chelyabinsk-65).
  9. The Start production association, Zarechny (penza-19).

Source: Moscow News, 9-15 Dec. 1994.

Note: Valery Menshchikov's article, "Nuclear Security is Inadequate and Outdated", and other articles will appear in full in the first issue of 'Yademy Kontrol', published with support from the center for Policial Studies (PIR Center) in Russia.