IN these post-Cold War days, the secret cities that contain Russia's weapons complex remain closed, still surrounded by fences patrolled by armed guards. But changes are going on within them. Scientists and engineers from Lawrence Livermore can now be found inside, engaged in meetings with their Russian counterparts. This change has occurred largely because of the convergence of two events: the shift from an arms race to arms reduction, and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, with its attendant economic upheaval.|
One of the many risks introduced by the first event is that of increased nuclear proliferation if the disposition of nuclear weapons technology and materials is not managed carefully. Russia has, for example, large amounts of surplus weapons-grade nuclear materials in various forms. These materials are highly desirable to potential proliferators and terrorists. They have become more vulnerable to theft or diversion because Russia now has fewer resources to apply to safeguarding its nuclear materials. U.S. and Russian scientists and engineers are working together to reduce such risks.
U.S. policy makers recognize that Russian nuclear scientists have essential roles to play in global arms reduction and nonproliferation causes. Alleviating the scientists' economic hardships and uncertainty would greatly aid the stabilization of Russian nuclear weapons complex. To these ends, the U.S. Department of Defense has formulated a policy to aid Russian scientists through stimulating commercial economic development in the closed cities. One large component of the policy is the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction bill, passed in 1991, which initiated collaborations between the U.S. and the newly independent states (NIS), principally Russia. The effectiveness and positive reception of Nunn-Lugar initiatives led to similar and complementary initiatives by the Energy and State departments.
Dubbed "defense by other means" by former Secretary of Defense William Perry, this policy depends as much on scientific capabilities as on political expertise. Thus, Lawrence Livermore staff have found themselves traveling thousands of miles between Livermore and various parts of the NIS to collaborate with NIS scientists on worthwhile, non-weapons-related projects as well as to monitor and assist the progress of arms reduction.
Progress in Arms Reduction
These have been difficult proposals from the beginning, starting with fundamentally differing views on information sensitivity. Russia classifies its information differently than the U.S. In addition, because of former Energy Secretary Hazel O'Leary's openness initiatives, the U.S. has already published some general information about U.S. fissile materials stockpiles, which goes well beyond the type of information the Russians are willing to share.
The progress of the negotiations has been slow. The U.S. delegation has been trying to maintain some momentum in the talks by suggesting negotiating patterns to keep negotiations moving.
Whatever the course of action, these negotiations will not end when agreements on information exchanges and monitoring procedures have been made. There must also be U.S.-Russian agreements on what measuring devices and instrumentation are allowable for deriving specific information during reciprocal inspections at nuclear facilities.
In parallel to Morgan's work in negotiations, scientists and engineers at Livermore are designing special measuring technologies for use inside U.S. and Russian facilities. One candidate device that has been demonstrated to Russian scientists is a portable, battery-operated, germanium gamma-ray spectrometer. This instrument can determine whether plutonium stored inside containers is consistent with material that may have been removed from dismantled nuclear weapons (Figure 1a). The spectrometer measures the plutonium's gamma-ray intensities in a narrow band of energy (630 to 670 thousand electron-volts) to reveal whether its ratio of plutonium-240 to plutonium-239 is consistent with weapons-grade material; it also estimates what minimum mass of plutonium is necessary to produce the observed intensities (Figure 1b).
The narrow band of energy measured by the spectrometer intentionally leaves some details of the material being measured unknown to satisfy Russian security concerns and make the spectrometer acceptable to the Russians. Tools used for transparency measurements must observe a careful balance between yielding enough to confirm crucial verification requirements but not revealing so much as to threaten the security interests of either side.
Reducing HEU Holdings
Describing the monitoring tasks at Seversk, Leich says that monitors can observe the whole oxidation procedure, from the beginning when the uranium metal is analyzed by portable gamma-ray spectrometry to confirm its weapons-grade status, through its feed into and withdrawal from oxidation process equipment, to the final analysis of the withdrawn oxides. Leich and the other monitors apply U.S. tags and seals to some containers of the oxides before their shipment to Novouralsk or Zelenogorsk.
When the containers of oxide arrive at those sites, monitors first check the tags and seals on them. Then, says Leich, "We can request nondestructive assay of containers of HEU oxide, observe the feeding of oxide into a process that chemically converts the HEU to a hexafluoride form, and perform an assay of the HEU hexafluoride withdrawn from the conversion process. During the blending-down process, we can request random samples of the HEU hexafluorides, the blending materials, and the resulting LEU right out of the process piping and put them through an analysis procedure." U.S. and Russian monitors also have the right to measure the total flow of uranium at the blending point. Before the LEU is put on railcars to start its journey to the U.S., the monitors observe the application of Russian and U.S. tags and seals.
Monitoring at Seversk and Zelenogorsk is confined to periodic visits, but monitors have continuous access to the Novouralsk plant through the U.S. Permanent Presence Office there, which Lawrence Livermore manages for DOE. At all three plants, U.S. monitors have access to relevant documentation and accountability records.
Toward Peaceful Enterprises
The third stage of IPP projects involves production of the developed products in the context of a purely commercial agreement between the Russian entity and a U.S. industrial firm.|
While the progress of IPP projects is sometimes slow, Hauber is enthusiastic about the program, believing that it will be an important factor in developing strong economies for the NIS. She says that "we just need to continue this work a little longer. The Russians are determined, and that determination will go a long way toward a successful outcome."
Security and Accountability
Lawrence Livermore's approach to upgrading safeguards and security at Russian weapons complexes is to work with Russian colleagues to identify areas where upgrades are required and then rapidly install those upgrades. The MPC&A program first installed safeguards such as barriers, alarms, communications systems, and portal monitoring systems. Subsequently, pedestrian and vehicle portals were installed to improve entry and exit systems (Figure 5). Older Russian manual systems are being replaced with automated control systems that will incorporate nuclear material monitors, metal detectors, and ballistically hardened booths for the guards. The new systems can detect nuclear materials being smuggled out, improve the capability to discover anyone trying to sneak inside, and offer better protection for guards in the event of an attack.
Lawrence Livermore is also working to enhance Russian transportation systems for nuclear materials. The Automatic Transportation Security System (ATSS) is an ongoing project to use readily available technologies to make rail systems more secure. The three-phase project, scheduled to be completed in the year 2000, covers some 375 development tasks. The first phase, now under way, includes installing intrusion and environmental sensors, security seals, on-train data communications and display, voice communications, physical barriers, locks, active delays such as high-intensity explosive sound generators and smoke generators, and off-train data communications and tracking. In parallel to the physical controls, U.S. and Russian scientists are developing safety methodologies--for example, procedures for coordinating emergency response from a central command post.
Improvements for the ATSS were designed at Moscow's Eleron Institute, which is devoted to the development, manufacture, and implementation of security equipment and systems. Actual implementation of the improvements will be done in conjunction with seven other Russian institutions, which will assure that the system has been incorporated into the Russian transportation infrastructure.|
Efforts are also under way to obtain an accurate measure of nuclear material inventories and to establish procedures for checking and evaluating material balances regularly throughout all operations. This work requires the use of nondestructive assay methods to measure or verify nuclear inventories efficiently. U.S. scientists, for instance, are providing a gamma-ray spectrometer that can measure plutonium isotopes or uranium enrichment and thus determine and verify nuclear inventories (Figure 6). Lawrence Livermore scientists developed the codes required to interpret the gamma-ray measurements. The codes analyze the complex gamma-ray spectra of plutonium or uranium to determine the actinide isotopic distribution for samples of any physical form, size, shape, or chemical formula. The system is easy to use: it does not require calibration of the instrumentation, and its measurement and analysis times are short.
In addition to upgrading security weaknesses, U.S. scientists are helping Russian scientists assess long-term security infrastructure needs and establish priorities for implementation. Lawrence Livermore, in conjunction with Sandia National Laboratories, has been working with Russian institutes to conduct vulnerability analyses. This work, which generally begins with a training workshop, teaches quantitative probabilistic risk analysis, the technique that DOE uses to evaluate protection systems for special nuclear materials. The focus of these workshops is on using a computer-based analysis tool called ASSESS (Analytical System and Software for Evaluating Safeguards and Security) to quantify the detection, delay, and neutralization probabilities of various protection systems. The quantitative values depend on the objectives of the protection system. These objectives, in turn, are defined through an analysis that asks: What needs protection? What are the consequences of losing the material? What possible types of threat does it face? What is the maximum level of acceptable risk for it? The objectives of the protection system must be identified and understood before an evaluation can be made of its effectiveness.
In addition to the workshops, subsequent vulnerability analyses, performed solely by Russians or jointly with U.S. scientists, are used to evaluate and prioritize physical and procedural security upgrades. The approach of these analyses differs from the present Russian approaches, so the rationale of the analysis tools must be communicated. The work also has to do with inculcating an MPC&A culture throughout the Russian institutes, so that both physical protection to fight off outsider threats and resistance to insider threats will be improved.
* The member nations of the European Union are: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
Key Words: arms reduction; Chelyabinsk-70; gamma-ray spectrometer; highly enriched uranium (HEU); Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention (IPP); International Science and Technology Center (ISTC); laboratory-to-laboratory program; low-enriched uranium (LEU); Materials Protection, Control, and Accounting (MPC&A) program; newly independent states (NIS); nuclear nonproliferation; Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction bill; safeguards, transparency, and irreversibility; transparency measures; verification; vulnerability analysis; Russia.
For further information contact William Dunlop (510) 422-9390 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Lawrence Livermore personnel who contributed to this article are: (back row, left to right) PAUL HERMAN, JIM MORGAN, and SCOTT MCALLISTER; (front row) BILL DUNLOP, EILEEN VERGINO, and DOUG LEICH. (Not pictured are T. R. KONCHER, DEBBIE BALL, and JANET HAUBER.) All, except Leich, are members of the Proliferation Prevention and Arms Control Program, which is part of the Nonproliferation, Arms Control, and International Security Directorate. Leich is part of the Fusion Energy and Systems Safety Program in the Energy Directorate.
The work of these scientists and engineers is performed under the auspices of the U.S. Departments of Energy and State and focuses on reducing the risks of nuclear proliferation through collaboration and partnership with scientists and engineers in the newly independent states of the former Soviet Union. Projects range from negotiating mutually acceptable ways to monitor arms reduction and the disposition of excess nuclear materials to developing technologies to safeguard nuclear materials from theft or diversion to promoting commercial, non-weapons applications of nuclear weapons know-how and technology.