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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 032-95
January 25, 1995

U.S. ASSISTS RUSSIA WITH NUCLEAR MATERIALS SECURITY

On January 20, 1995, officials of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and Russia's Ministry of Atomic Energy (MINATOM) amended an agreement to provide up to an additional $20 million in U.S. assistance for the protection of materials that could be used in the production of nuclear weapons. Funds will be provided under the Department's Cooperative Threat Reduction (Nunn-Lugar) program.

The Department has agreed to assist Russia's MINATOM in improving the physical security and accounting of highly enriched uranium and plutonium that is currently being held in Russia's laboratories, research institutes, and nuclear materials processing plants. This amendment marks the first time Russia has agreed to accept U.S. assistance to apply safeguards to materials that could be used directly to manufacture nuclear weapons. This assistance package has been under negotiation with Russia for nearly a year.

Though the assistance provided to Russia under this agreement has not been fully defined, it is likely that it will include: improved sensors for monitoring entry and exit of nuclear materials sites; computer systems for materials accounting; and more precise assaying equipment to measure amounts of highly enriched uranium and plutonium.

The Department's Cooperative Threat Reduction (Nunn-Lugar) program is assisting countries of the former Soviet Union to dismantle nuclear weapons systems and to deal with related problems such as preventing the theft or diversion of nuclear weapons materials.