Even as the Soviet Union was collapsing in late
1991, Senators Nunn and Lugar rushed through Congress authorization
for the President, Secretary of Defense and Secretary of Energy to (a) assist
Russia and the other states of the former Soviet Union secure and safeguard
the 30,000 or more Soviet nuclear weapons (b) assist them in dismantling excess
nuclear weapons and (c) safely and securely disposing of the fissile material
obtained from that dismantlement.
But by 1993, control over the actual nuclear weapons having been reestablished
by the Russians, the primary concern became securing and safeguarding fissile
materials, that is, the almost pure Plutonium-239 and almost pure Uranium-235
produced for – and recovered from – weapons and for other purposes.
The Russian nuclear weapons infrastructure is functionally divided (as is ours)
between the "supply" side (under civilian control) and the "demand" side (under
In the U.S., the supply – the research, development, test, evaluation and production
of nuclear weapons – is carried out by a set of private sector entities under
contract to the Department of Energy. Similarly, in Russia all the nuke suppliers
are civil Institutes housed in the Ministry for Atomic Energy (MINATOM).
Therefore, in mid-1993, Senators Domenici and Nunn took the lead in authorizing
an addition to the collective Missions of the DOE National Laboratories. The
Labs were authorized to establish, and collectively manage, a collection of
cooperative nuclear-weapon proliferation-prevention projects, each to be conducted
at one of the MINATOM Institutes, employing only technologists formerly
associated with the Soviet nuclear weapons establishment.
The Nunn-Domenici Lab-Institute initiative – sometimes called the Initiatives
for Proliferation Prevention – had two distinct advantages over the "government-to-government"
approach of the U.S. State Department and the Pentagon.
First, because the National Laboratories are government-owned, but private
sector Contractor operated (GOCOs), the operating contractors for the Labs could
purchase "research products" from the Russian Institutes without either government
Second, because Senator Domenici had already gotten Technology Transfer to
the US private sector written into the Mission Statements of the DOE National
Labs, the Lab operating contractors could involve (on a 50/50 investment basis)
U.S. private sector entities in any commercial ventures in Russia that resulted
from the Lab purchased "research" at the Russian Institutes. That is, follow-on
work from the original Lab-Institute project could involve US and Russian
private sector entities.
The primary purposes of the US-Russia Lab-Institute programs were to assist
the MINATOM Institutes in (a) upgrading to the U.S. level the Russian level
of fissile material protection, control and accounting (MPC&A) equipment
and procedures and (b) keeping Russian fissile materials, nuclear weapons technologies
and technologists at the Russian Institutes, where they belong, rather
than in Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Libya, or the Peoples Republic of China.
Although most of the funds Congress appropriated for these US-Russia Lab-Institute
programs were intended to be spent in Russia (buying wherever possible Russian-built
equipment and partially paying the salaries of Russian scientists, engineers
and technicians), some funds were also spent for: (a) visits of US scientists
to MINATOM Institutes to check on the progress of Lab-to-Lab projects, all
of which were to be conducted in Russia by Russians and (b) visits of Russian
scientists to DOE National Labs to see for themselves how we protect, control
and account for our fissile materials, and the equipment we use for those purposes.
However, the incoming Clinton-Gore Administration, when charged with implementing
these U.S.-Russian Lab-Institute programs, seemed not to understand their purpose.
Instead of aggressively implementing the Lab-Institute program as it was mandated
by Congress, the Clinton-Gore State Department immediately attempted to wrest
complete control of the programs from DOE.
The Clinton-Gore State Department and National Security Council Staff also
began to urge: (a) the inclusion of Russian Institutes that were known not
to have been involved in nuclear programs, but were suspected by the CIA of
having been engaged in Soviet (and now Russian) biological weapons development
and (b) the "replication" of the U.S.-Russia programs with the People's Republic
of China, for the purposes of "opening a window" into the PRC closed nuclear
A report got back to Congress that Clinton-Gore had even offered to set up
U.S.-Indian and U.S.-Pakistani cooperative ''stockpile stewardship" programs,
by which the integrity of their existing stockpiles could be maintained – like
ours – without testing, using supercomputers we would supply them. Whether true
or not, in 1997 Congress angrily prohibited in law any such cooperative nuke
programs with any nation-state – excepting only Russia.
Partially in response to the seeming inability of the Clinton-Gore Administration
to understand the critical role that the DOE nuclear weapons Labs and infrastructure
had to play in preventing international nuclear weapons proliferation, Congress
passed the Nunn-Lugar-Domenici sponsored Defense Against Weapons of Mass Destruction
Act (Title XIV, National
Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1997).
Basically, Title XIV formally gave the "lead" agency responsibility for nuclear-weapon
proliferation matters to DOE and chemical and biological matters to the Pentagon.
It also required the President to set up within the National Security Council
a Committee on Nonproliferation (composed of representatives of the Secretaries
of Defense, Energy, State, et al) who were to prepare a National Preparedness
Plan for addressing the WMD Threat domestically and internationally.
The President was required to appoint a WMD "czar" who was to prepare and submit
to Congress a consolidated Budget Request for the Committee's National Preparedness
The Clinton Administration almost totally ignored the Nunn-Lugar-Domenici Act.
Well, that was ten years ago. Now comes the Government Accountability Office
(formerly the Congressional General Accounting Office) to assess the Bush-Cheney
stewardship of the badly battered Nunn-Domenici Lab-Institute (IPP) program
bequeathed them by Clinton-Gore.
"DOE has overstated accomplishments for the 2 critical measures it
uses to assess the IPP program's progress and performance – the number of scientists
receiving DOE support and the number of long-term, private sector jobs created.
"DOE has not developed an exit strategy for the IPP program, even
though officials from the Russian government, Russian and Ukrainian institutes,
and U.S. companies raised questions about the continuing need for the program.
"DOE has recently expanded the program to include new countries and
areas. Specifically, in 2004, DOE began providing assistance to scientists
in Iraq and Libya."
Is one of those Iraqi "scientists" Khidir
Hamza, vouched by the neo-crazies to be "Saddam's Bombmaker"?