Blog Post - Nuclear Security Matters

Future Prospects for U.S.-Russia Nuclear Security Cooperation

Mar. 28, 2014

By Nickolas Roth
This week’s Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague was understandably overshadowed by the continuing international response to Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea. One aspect of the Ukraine crisis that deserves more attention is how the current standoff will impact the future of nuclear security cooperation between the United States and Russia.

Although the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit achieved a great deal, the global nuclear security effort can only progress so far without Russia as an active participant. Russia was the most prominent of the handful of countries that didn’t sign on to a single “gift basket” at the summit. Did it commit to physical protection standards at least as strong as those recommended by the IAEA and to hosting a peer review of security practices?  Nope.  What about a commitment to securing Category I radioactive sources according the IAEA’s code of conduct for radiological security? Not at this time, thank you.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov before a meeting on the margins of the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague, the Netherlands, on March 24, 2014. (State Department photo)

As my co-authors and I describe in our new report, Advancing Nuclear Security: Evaluating Progress and Setting New Goals, although Russia has made tremendous progress in securing its nuclear weapons and materials, because of the size and far-flung locations of Russia’s stockpile, Russia still presents one of the most significant challenges to reducing the global risk of nuclear terrorism. Russia has the most highly enriched uranium (HEU) and plutonium of any country and the most HEU research reactors in the world. There is also a significant risk of insiders stealing nuclear material from its nuclear facilities. Not bringing Russia along in the nuclear security summit process is like trying to cure obesity in America, while ignoring fast food restaurants...

For more information on this publication: Please contact the Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Future Prospects for U.S.-Russia Nuclear Security Cooperation.” Nuclear Security Matters, March 28, 2014, https://nuclearsecuritymatters.belfercenter.org/publication/future-prospects-us-russia-nuclear-security-cooperation.