Lugar Cites CTR Progress, Calls on U.S. for More Aid

SENATOR RICHARD Lugar (R-IN), following a November 14–23 oversight and fact-finding mission to Russia and Ukraine, called for additional U.S. security assistance to Russia under the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) program. Despite significant gains thus far, the program faces an uncertain future due to the deteriorating Russian economic situation.

Created in 1991 by Lugar and former Senator Sam Nunn (D-GA), the CTR program has already assisted Belarus and Kazakhstan in becoming non-nuclear-weapon states and is helping Russia and Ukraine fulfill their obligations under START I. The program is also designed to help former Soviet states reduce the risk of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons proliferation.

In a November 24 press conference, Lugar noted that to date the CTR program has facilitated the destruction of 339 ICBMs, 286 ICBM launchers, 37 bombers, 96 submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) launchers, and 30 SLBMs; the deactivation of 4,838 former Soviet strategic warheads; and the sealing of 191 nuclear test tunnels.

Lugar warned, however, that "Russian institutions are experiencing severe strain." Describing "the desperate conditions which exist in the nuclear cities and biological institutes across Russia," he stated, "These weapons scientists and engineers are not getting paid. In some cases their government has abandoned them."

Furthermore, due to Russia's current financial crisis, Moscow might not be able to finance its portion of various CTR projects, such as the fissile material storage facility under construction at Mayak. Although Congress approved virtually all of the Clinton administration's CTR request for fiscal year 1999 (approximately $440 million), a Russian failure to fulfill its financial obligations under CTR might endanger the program's future funding. Congress has appropriated $2.7 billion for CTR since the program's creation.


Weapons Dismantlement

While in Ukraine, Lugar, along with Nunn, Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) and key officials from the departments of Defense and Energy, observed the destruction of the first Blackjack bomber at the Priluki air force base. Kyiv returned the last of its strategic warheads to Russia in June 1996 and is required to destroy its strategic nuclear delivery vehicles (including 19 Blackjack and 25 Bear bombers) by December 2001 in order to comply with START I. The United States and Ukraine reached a CTR agreement in December 1997 to facilitate the elimination of these bombers.

At Russia's Severodvinsk naval shipyard, the Lugar delegation witnessed the ongoing dismantlement of two Delta I ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs), each capable of carrying 12 warheads, and a Delta III SSBN, capable of carrying 48 warheads. At the SevMash submarine base, a highly secret base never before visited by a senior U.S. delegation, Russia also announced that CTR funds will be used to dismantle the first Typhoon SSBN in 1999. Russia possesses six Typhoons, each of which can carry up to 200 warheads. CTR assistance is expected to help eliminate a total of 30 Russian SSBNs by 2003.

The Lugar delegation also visited the fissile material storage facility at Mayak, which by 2002 is expected to have the capacity to hold the highly enriched uranium and plutonium from 6,250 dismantled former Soviet nuclear weapons; the RTN Corporation in Moscow, whose 200 employees are now providing telecommunications services instead of monitoring nuclear command and control activities; and the Obolensk State Research Center of Applied Microbiology, where scientists are now performing vaccine research rather than developing biological weapons.