by Justin Bresolin
Updated by Brenna Gautam
Origin and Purpose
The Department of Defense Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Program, also known as the Nunn-Lugar Program, was created for the purpose of securing and dismantling weapons of mass destruction and their associated infrastructure in the former states of the Soviet Union. Founded by Senators Sam Nunn (D-GA) and Richard Lugar (R-IN) through the passage of the Soviet Threat Reduction Act in November 1991, the program aimed to address the large nuclear arsenals inherited by former Soviet states Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan after the Soviet Union’s collapse.
Housed within the Department of Defense’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), the CTR Program pursues four primary objectives:
- Dismantle Former Soviet Union (FSU)’s Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and associated infrastructure.
- Consolidate and secure FSU WMD and related technology and materials.
- Increase transparency and encourage higher standards of conduct in adherence to nuclear agreements and nonproliferation activity.
- Support defense and military cooperation with the objective of preventing proliferation.
The CTR Program provides funding and expertise to partner governments in the former Soviet Union to secure and eliminate WMDs at the source. The Office of Cooperative Threat Reduction (ISN/CTR) in the Department of State coordinates CTR programs between U.S. government agencies and foreign governments. In recent history, the CTR program has expanded from on-site efforts, such as the securing and disposal of nuclear material and storage site security system maintenance, to mobile WMD security control, including enhancing land and maritime border security in former Soviet territories. In addition, CTR assistance has expanded to non-Soviet countries such as the South Asia region, Iraq, Afghanistan, China, and African nations such as Djibouti, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda. Legislation proposed by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) in May 2013 would further intensify CTR efforts in North Africa and the Middle East.
– Cooperative Threat Reduction Programs – Defense Threat Reduction Agency
– Fact Sheet – The Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program: Securing and Safeguarding Weapons of Mass Destruction – American Security Project
– Sen. Shaheen Tackles Middle East and North Africa WMDs – The Hill
CTR cooperation functions at three main levels: on-site, country-based, and global. A record of Soviet-related activity provided by the Department of Defense at the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit is as follows:
- Site-Level Cooperation
–Partnership with Russia and Kazakhstan to secure hundreds of kilograms of weapons-usable nuclear material at the former Soviet Semipalatinsk Test Site in Kazakhstan.
–Supported transportation of 92 train loads of nuclear warheads from Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) operational locations to dismantlement facilities or more secure, consolidated storage sites.
—Supported transportation of spent nuclear fuel containing weapons-usable, highly enriched uranium, from two decommissioned Russian submarines to the Mayak fissile material disposition site.
–Supported security system maintenance at 23 nuclear weapons storage sites in Russia, and conducted site visits to confirm operational capability at four sites.
- Country-Level Cooperation
–Together with the Department of Energy, supporting the establishment of Nuclear Security Centers of Excellence by partner countries, through which the U.S. and its partners will be able to exchange nuclear security best practices, demonstrate equipment, and contribute to national and regional training programs.
–Expanded the CTR Program’s geographic reach to build the capacity of new partners and regions for the detection and interdiction of WMDs and related materials in transit.
–Conducted 37 different nuclear security courses for the Russian MOD.
–Cooperating with the Russian MOD on a joint program to identify and assess next generation physical security technologies and processes.
- Global-Level Cooperation
–Supporting the Nuclear Security Summit process.
–Participating in the Global Partnership against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction and the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism.
–Supporting the IAEA Nuclear Security Support Centers Working Group.
Progress (as of March 31, 2013)
- Fiscal Year 2015 Requested: $365,100,000
- Fiscal Year 2014 Enacted: $500,5000,000
- Fiscal Year 2014 Estimate: $528,455,000
- Fiscal Year 2013 Estimate: $519,111,000
- Fiscal Year 2012 Actual: $508,219,000
– Fiscal Year 2014 Budget Estimates — Cooperative Threat Reduction Program
–Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Request for Nuclear and Radiological Material Security and Non-proliferation Programs — Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation
Revised Arrangement Negotiation between the United States and Russia
On October 10, 2012, the Russian government rejected an Obama Administration proposal to renew the CTR agreement after 20 years of partnership. The Russian government stated that CTR was “not consistent with our ideas about what forms and on what basis further cooperation should be built.” The “umbrella agreement” authorizing Nunn-Lugar in Russia expired in June of 2013.
A New York Times story speculated that the motivation behind Russia’s refusal to extend the agreement was to curtail American-led initiatives in the region, particularly missile defense cooperation with NATO and plans to increase PAC-3 BMD interceptor presence in countries near the Russian Border as part of the European Phased Adaptive Approach. President Vladimir Putin has stated that while Russia is open to nonproliferation cooperation, its priority is opposition to the U.S.’s planned missile defense system in Europe.
Some analysts have asserted that the Russian government’s reluctance to renew the umbrella agreement was brought about by the political embarrassment felt by many Russian officials about having to rely on a foreign power for domestic security needs. In addition, many analysts have cited the umbrella agreement’s liability provisions as a particular point of concern for Moscow, as these provisions essentially shielded all US government employees and contractors from legal liability for CTR-related incidents.
Another standing issue was a stated lack of need for American financing. Some reports state that Russia no longer needs to sacrifice national security secrecy in exchange for financial aid it doesn’t require.
– Herszenhorn, Russia Won’t Renew Pact on Weapons With U.S., The New York Times
– Russia to Drop Cooperative Threat Reduction Deal with U.S.: Report, Global Security Newswire
– Weitz, Russia-US Relations Under Obama: Round 2, ISN
– The Sun Sets on Nunn-Lugar in Russia, Nukes of Hazard
A New Framework for Cooperative Nuclear Security in Russia
In June 2013, prior to the expiration of the Nunn-Lugar umbrella agreement, Presidents Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin reached an agreement to continue US-Russian nuclear security efforts, albeit in a truncated form. This new arrangement operates under the 2003 “Framework Agreement on a Multilateral Nuclear Environmental Programme in the Russian Federation (MNEPR),” and a related protocol signed on June 14, 2013. Under the terms of this new framework, the US is able to continue most of its nuclear security-related work, but ceased joint efforts pertaining to the dismantling of missiles, bombers, and chemical weapons. Russia has assumed responsibility, financial and otherwise, for carrying out the latter three dismantlement efforts. The MNEPR protocol does not include the Russian Ministry of Defense (MOD) among its parties, so there is no longer a legal framework for threat reduction cooperation with the MOD.
Former senators Nunn and Lugar have expressed cautious optimism about the new arrangement. In a statement released shortly after the new agreement was reached, Nunn applauded Obama and Putin for continuing US-Russian cooperation in WMD security, but also stressed the need for the two sides to find a way to continue joint work on the components of Nunn-Lugar that will not continue under the new framework, such as delivery system dismantlement and tasks pertaining to chemical and biological weapons. In an interview with Global Security Newswire, Lugar struck a similar tone, but also expressed concern that the end of Nunn-Lugar could lead to a decrease in funding and support for other nonproliferation programs.
– U.S. Voices Optimism on Russian Threat Reduction Talks, Global Security Newswire
– Guarino: U.S., Russia Could Collaborate In Third Countries on Threat Reduction, Global Security Newswire
– A New Legal Framework for US-Russian Cooperation in Nuclear Nonproliferation and Security, US Department of State
– The Sun Sets on Nunn-Lugar in Russia, Nukes of Hazard
– US Official: Most DOE Nuclear Security Work in Russia Will Continue, Global Security Newswire
– Lugar Expresses Optimism, Concern on Future of WMD Security, Global Security Newswire
– Statement from Former US Senator Sam Nunn Regarding New Nunn-Lugar Agreement, NTI
U.S.-Russia Cooperation in the Aftermath of CTR
The MNEPR provides the legal framework that allows important bilateral nuclear security efforts to continue. Although the MNEPR Protocol was signed in June 2013, the US Department of Energy (DOE) noted that as of January 2014, access arrangements and contract modifications still needed to be finalized. In the same 2014 report, DOE also described MNEPR as problematic due to the deficient nature of Russian security resources, arguing that these deficiencies limited cost sharing and prevented full Russian support for security enhancements and sustainability. The lack of subsidiary access agreements by Russia led to setbacks such as the failure to complete physical security upgrades to 32 buildings identified as containing weapons-usable nuclear material at the Rosatom Weapons Complex.
As of April 2014, DOE reported progress in working with Russian counterparts under MNEPR to improve the security of Russian nuclear material at fixed sites and in transit, and to strengthen regulatory requirements related to the security of nuclear and radiological material in Russia.
In its May 2014 joint report, DOE and NNSA noted an increasing transition and greater share of bilateral upgrade and sustainability costs to Russia since MNEPR replaced CTR. Recognizing the deficiency of Russian security resources, the May 2104 Report also called for continued cooperation between Russia and the International Materials Protection and Cooperation Program (IMPC), a program of the National Nuclear Security Administration. IMPC works to improve the security of nuclear weapons and material at their source through material protection, control and accounting upgrades at nuclear sites in Russia.
MNEPR and the Ukraine Situation
Possible complications to the MNEPR arose with the annexation of Crimea by Russia on March 18, 2014. The annexation and accompanying political unrest surrounding the events in Ukraine has raised questions as to the merits of continued US-Russian cooperation under MNEPR. In response to these events, the US Department of Defense stated that there is an ongoing evaluation of activities with Russia, given the unfolding situation in Ukraine and Crimea.
However, the administration also has stressed that the United States has a history of continued cooperation on vital threat reduction matters even through difficult periods in the US-Russia relationship. Similarly, US-Russia cooperation under MNEPR has thus far continued despite the difficulties in US-Russian relations arising from the Ukraine situation.
CTR and the Destruction of Syria’s Chemical Weapons
The CTR program is the primary source of funding for destruction and external security in assisting the OPCW with respect to destroying Syrian chemical weapons. FY 2013 and FY 2014 funds have been used to provide for the provision of shipping containers and material handling equipment to support Syrian Chemical Weapons destruction, logistics support, mobilization and modification of the Motor Vessel (MV) Cape Ray, and installation of the Field Deployable Hydrolysis System (FDHS) aboard MV Cape Ray, to conduct chemical weapons elimination at sea using the FDHS. Funds are also being used to destroy Syrian CW and dangerous precursors, support the external security of the destruction operation and work with others to dispose of the residual hazardous waste.
– Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Estimates