Secretary of Defense William Cohen visited the Ministry of Defense facility at Sergiev Posad, northeast of Moscow, on Friday Feb. 13.
The Sergiev Posad facility is being used as the central site for the delivery of security equipment, training, security assessment, and project development under the joint Department of Defense and Ministry of Defense Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) project.
The project on Weapons Protection, Control, and Accounting (WPC&A) is designed to enhance the safety and security of nuclear weapons under the control of the MoD's 12th (nuclear weapons) Main Directorate.
The directorate is known by its Russian acronym as 12th GUMO.
Secretary Cohen commented that today's tour highlighted the important work of sustaining adequate safety and security of nuclear arsenals, a solemn responsibility of all nuclear powers.
U.S. DoD and Russian MoD cooperation is critical to this effort.
In one of our most important CTR programs, DoD has allocated $116 million over the past five years to help the Russian MoD improve the security of nuclear weapons under its control, and will add another $36 million in FY98.
In FY99 DoD has requested $52 million for this CTR project.
Nuclear weapons security has been a key element of DoD's CTR program from its beginning in 1992.
The early phase of this cooperation focused on improving safety and security for the movement of nuclear weapons during a period when the Russians were consolidating their arsenal in selected storage sites.
To assist in this effort, DoD delivered 3,020 armored blankets from 1992 to 1993 to enhance ballistic protection for weapons during shipment.
From 1995 to 1996 CTR provided and helped install modification kits to upgrade safety and security for 100 nuclear weapons cargo and 15 guard railcars.
The Department of Defense has also delivered 150 supercontainers to enhance protection against fire and small arms during weapons shipments.
In 1995, DoD-MoD cooperation shifted to defining security requirements and developing projects to assist the MoD in maintaining safe and secure storage of Russian nuclear weapons.
Under this effort, equipment and training is being provided for the MoD's personnel reliability program to ensure the fitness of MoD personnel charged with handling nuclear weapons.
Computer tracking systems are being developed to improve accounting for nuclear weapons, and software has been provided to assess storage site vulnerabilities to unauthorized penetration or theft.
Fences and sensors have been provided as a "quick fix" upgrade of physical security at nuclear weapons storage sites.
A center to assess security needs and develop projects to improve security of nuclear weapons in storage is being created at Sergiev Posad where work will form the basis for comprehensive upgrades to nuclear weapons storage sites.
Today's tour by Secretary Cohen at the MoD facility at Sergiev Posad included a stop at the support base where delivery to the MoD is made of DoD-provided WPC&A assistance.
The assistance includes: supercontainers, emergency support equipment, personnel reliability program training, and security upgrade kits installed in special Russian railcars used to transport nuclear weapons, as well as the nuclear weapons inventory computer system that will help track and account for all nuclear weapons under MoD control.
During the tour, a ceremony was held to mark the establishment of the Security Assessment and Training Center.
This event kicks off a new phase of cooperation.
Several buildings at the MoD facility will be converted under DoD contract into a facility for MoD training, and for the testing and evaluation of advanced security protection technologies and procedures.
Over the next several years, this site will be the headquarters for a storage site physical security upgrade project.
Integrated packages of advanced security upgrade equipment will be assembled at this facility for shipment to the MoD's nuclear weapons storage sites.
This will enable the Russian MoD to continue to maintain the security of its nuclear weapons at the proper level as it faces the new challenges that come with entering the 21st century.
Just as U.S. and Russian governments are cooperating in developing this project, U.S. and Russian companies are also involved.
In November 1997,CTR contracts were awarded to the Russian firm Eleron to produce the security design for this facility, and to the U.S. company Bechtel, as the prime contractor, to outfit and establish the facility.
Bechtel's presence and operations at this facility started last week.
The Ministry of Defense has already started training here.
In addition, the Russian firm Tenzor has received a CTR contract to provide security equipment which will be used at the facility.
Over the next several years DoD looks forward to the successful implementation of this joint DoD-MoD project.