Kurchatov, Kazakhstan—center of the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site, October 1991.
Kurchatov, Kazakhstan—center of the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site, October 1991.

25 Years of Nuclear Security Cooperation by the US, Russia and Other Newly Independent States: A Timeline

June 16, 2017
Mariana Budjeryn, Simon Saradzhyan and William Tobey

The timeline below was compiled by Simon Saradzhyan and Mariana Budjeryn and the foreword was written by William Tobey (author bios below). As an accompaniment, Ms. Budjeryn has also interviewed Sam Nunn, the former senator whose efforts were key to securing U.S. funding to help a disintegrating Soviet Union dismantle and safeguard its nuclear weapons. This is an evolving draft, produced in cooperation with the U.S.-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism at Harvard's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and with support from the center's Managing the Atom Project. Acknowledgements and a bibliography can be found at the bottom of the page. Last updated Sept. 5, 2017.


Twenty-five years ago at the first U.S.-Russian Summit meeting in Washington, D.C., presidents George H. W. Bush and Boris Yeltsin sealed an unprecedented agreement, symbolizing and catalyzing the tectonic events at the end of the Cold War. Both presidents took significant—almost implausible—risks. The United States agreed to provide aid to institutions that had targeted America and its allies with nuclear, chemical and biological weapons—albeit to assist with the destruction or improved security of those arsenals. Russia agreed to admit its former enemies to its most sensitive facilities, once the heart of the Soviet Union’s defenses—literally its secret cities. 

In the retrospective glow of success, it is easy to see the June 1992 “Umbrella Agreement” establishing cooperative threat reduction programs between the United States and Russia as inevitable, but it was not. In broad terms, it required imagination from academics and experts who conceived it, courage from legislators and diplomats who enacted, funded and codified it and practical solutions from the scientists and technicians who implemented it. Had any one of these groups failed to step forward, the effort would have failed—with potentially catastrophic consequences. Moreover, all of the creators of the Umbrella Agreement acted in an era still fraught with mutual distrust and uncertainty.

Only five years earlier, in June 1987, U.S. President Ronald Reagan stood in a bisected Berlin, itself enisled within a divided Germany, and demanded of his Soviet counterpart: “General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

Moscow denounced the challenge as war-mongering, but two years later, in November 1989, General Secretary Gorbachev acquiesced and did just that.

Only 10 months before the Umbrella Agreement was signed, the Soviet Union itself hung in the balance. In August 1991, a group of Soviet military and security officials launched a coup d’état against then Soviet President Gorbachev, detaining him and seizing his means to control Soviet nuclear weapons. Russian Republic President Boris Yeltsin, standing on a tank outside the parliament building, courageously faced down the coup.  The events of 1989 and 1991 could easily have ended in cataclysm rather than cooperative efforts to dismantle and secure the Soviet Union’s most deadly arsenals.  Fortunately, they motivated leaders in both the United States and Russia to act with urgency.

During the 1992 Washington summit, President Bush summarized America’s new view of Moscow: “Our support for Russia is unshakable because it is in our interest. Success for Russian democracy will enhance the security of every American.” President Yeltsin responded, “[T]he treaties and agreements that we have signed today do not just pertain to the two countries of ours. They are a sketch for a future world. They are characteristic of the kind of features that we want to see in this world. This world is becoming more attractive, more humane, kinder than we see today.”

For over 20 years, the United States and the Russian Federation acted in close concert to improve the security of nuclear weapons and weapons-usable materials at nearly 150 sites in Russia and in dozens of other countries.  They also improved border controls, redirected scientists with weapons expertise, shut down plutonium-production reactors and converted 500 metric tons of Russian highly enriched uranium to reactor fuel, which for years provided about 10% of American electricity, turning megatons to megawatts. It was a program of remarkable achievement, which indisputably made the world safer.

Moreover, these efforts enjoyed consistent support through leadership changes in both countries, and despite acrimony in other realms. President George H. W. Bush signed the initial cooperative threat reduction legislation authored by Sens. Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar. President Bill Clinton gave shape and detail to the effort, essentially outlining all of the programs that would eventually be implemented. After the September 11 attacks, President George W. Bush doubled funding for the efforts, increasing their scope and pace. President Barack Obama further broadened the span of activities with the Nuclear Security Summits. 

Equally in Russia, successive leaders supported cooperative threat reduction efforts.  President Boris Yeltsin had the courage and foresight to sign the Umbrella Agreement.  President Vladimir Putin, with President George W. Bush, launched the Bratislava Initiative, which set December 31, 2008, as the deadline for completing physical security upgrades in Russia, and increased the number of facilities within the scope of work.  President Dmitry Medvedev attended the first two Nuclear Security Summits.

This constructive continuity broke formally in November 2014, when Russia informed the United States that it would curtail cooperative threat reduction efforts by refusing to approve any new nuclear security projects in 2015.  Moscow also announced a boycott of the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit. To be sure, the considerable improvement in Russian nuclear security, and the need to transform what had been a donor-recipient relationship into a partnership of equals, argued for revamping cooperative efforts. Nonetheless, their effective end within Russia leaves both countries less secure than they otherwise would be. 

Russia’s seizure of Crimea and use of force in eastern Ukraine, and the resulting Western sanctions on Moscow, have also taken a toll on cooperation. Late last year, President Putin cited a “radically changed environment” and “the threat to strategic stability posed by the hostile actions of the U.S. against Russia” as reasons for suspending Russian participation in an agreement to dispose of 34 metric tons each of U.S. and Russian military plutonium. Thus, whether or not the once vibrant U.S.-Russian cooperation on nuclear security can be rebuilt remains highly uncertain.

What is certain is that the threats to nuclear security continue to be real and urgent in Russia and elsewhere. Al-Qaeda and Chechen rebels both plotted acts of nuclear terrorism, and members of both groups remain active. The Islamic State shares al-Qaeda’s nihilism, but managed to amass substantially more territory, people, expertise and resources, even if they are now under sustained attack. In about two dozen cases over as many years, weapons-grade fissile material has been seized outside of authorized control, including cases in 2003, 2006, 2010 and 2011—incontrovertible evidence of nuclear security failure. Organized crime and corruption continue to beset Russia, including at nuclear facilities, and there are reports of the spread of radical Islam to Siberia and the Urals region, home to many of Russia’s nuclear weapons sites.

To address these threats effectively will require that the current set of American and Russian leaders demonstrate as much courage and creativity as did their predecessors in the 90s and naughts. It will, moreover, be even more difficult because of considerably worse relations between the two countries.

Mariana Budjeryn and Simon Saradzhyan have created a useful timeline for scholars of cooperative threat reduction efforts. Such works are the skeletons of history, requiring additional work to add the sinew, intellect and personality necessary for lifelike portrayals. Moreover, they are, like all histories, vulnerable to subjectivity in judgment and characterization. In this regard, some may see the events recounted differently, which offers the opportunity for dialectic improvement. Still, the story of the bombs that did not go off and the terrorist attacks that did not occur deserves to be told and understood and thus the timeline is an important contribution.



July 31, 1991. After nine years of negotiations, U.S. President George H.W. Bush and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev sign in Moscow the Strategic Arms Reduction and Limitation Treaty (START). The treaty reduces strategic warheads to 6,000 and deployed strategic delivery vehicles to 1,600 on each side, about a 40% reduction in the superpower strategic nuclear arsenals. The treaty is due to enter into force after ratification by the signatory parties.

August 19, 1991. A group of Soviet government hardliners stage a coup in Moscow, declaring a state of emergency to overcome “chaos and anarchy” threatening the USSR. President Gorbachev is confined at the government compound in Foros, Crimea. His nuclear launch authorization unit, the so-called nuclear suitcase, is disabled and removed to Moscow. By August 22, the coup is foiled and its perpetrators are detained. Soviet republics begin declaring independence from Moscow.

August 29, 1991. President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan decrees to close the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site exactly 42 years to the day of the first Soviet nuclear test conducted there.

September 1, 1991. Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) visits Moscow and meets with President Gorbachev and Soviet Defense Minister Yevgeny Shaposhnikov. The visit convinces him of two things: “One, that there would be no more Soviet Empire. And two, that they and we had a huge, huge security problem.” Upon his return, Nunn approaches the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Les Aspin (D-Wis.), who authored a proposal for a $1 billion humanitarian aid package to the USSR, and convinces Aspin to amend the approach to include targeted aid for dismantling the Soviet nuclear arsenal.

September 5, 1991. President Bush chairs a National Security Council (NSC) meeting where the possibility of the Soviet breakup and the idea of tactical and further strategic nuclear reductions is discussed. These ideas would materialize three weeks later as Presidential Nuclear Initiatives (PNIs).

September 6, 1991. Harvard’s Graham Allison writes a private memorandum titled “Sounding the Alarm” to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell, distributed also to National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft, Counselor at the Department of State Robert Zoellick and other key figure in the administration. Allison, who found himself in Moscow during the coup, emphasizes: “Soviet disunion could create additional nuclear states, provoke struggles for control of Soviet nuclear weapons, and lead to a loss of control of strategic or non-strategic nuclear weapons.”He recommends “extensive cooperative measures with the Soviet and Russian government to return all nuclear warheads to Russian territory immediately” to prevent the proliferation of so-called loose nukes.

September 12, 1991. Rep. Aspin authors a white paper called “A New Kind of Threat: Nuclear Weapons in an Uncertain Soviet Union.” Aspin emphasizes the threat posed by Soviet nuclear arms caught in the middle of civil unrest and ethnic strife accompanying the disintegration of the USSR. “Many of the steps necessary to reduce nuclear risks associated with instability must be taken within the Soviet Union itself, from assuring the security of nuclear storage sites to promoting a more or less orderly transition to a much less centralized form of government.”

September 27, 1991. President Bush, in an unprecedented unilateral move, announces the first round of PNIs that entail the withdrawal from Europe of all ground-launched and about half of naval tactical nuclear weapons to central storage facilities in the U.S. and their subsequent destruction, as well as de-alerting strategic nuclear systems. Bush also advances a proposal for eliminating ICBMs with multiple warheads (MIRVs), which eventually (in a modified form) becomes the START-II treaty. Bush suggests that the U.S. and USSR explore cooperation on safe and secure nuclear warhead command and control, storage, transport, dismantlement and destruction.

October 5, 1991. Gorbachev announces that the Soviet Union will reciprocate Bush’s PNIs on non-strategic nuclear weapons and de-alerting a portion of the ICBM force and, further, proposes to eliminate an entire category of non-strategic nuclear weapons. Gorbachev declares a one-year moratorium on nuclear testing and urges the U.S. to do the same. He also proposes a no-first-use declaration by all nuclear powers.

October 7, 1991. U.S. Undersecretary of State Reginald Bartholomew meets with (the last) Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze who praises the PNIs and admits that, although there is no need to worry about the loss of control over strategic weapons located in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan, the fears about tactical nuclear weapons are “in great measure justified.” Shevardnadze also warns that civil war is imminent if the Soviet Union disintegrates.

October 18-24, 1991. A Soviet delegation, headed by Deputy Minister of Atomic Power and Industry Viktor Mikhailov, visits Washington, D.C. on the invitation of the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) and the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) and meets with U.S. government officials and congressmen. Mikhailov assesses that if the Soviet Union is to destroy the 15,000 nuclear warheads earmarked for dismantlement under START and the PNIs over the next 7-9 years, it would require $2 billion just for new storage facilities. He urges Congress to fund a $400 million effort to assist Russia with dismantling nuclear weapons that would later become known as the Nunn-Lugar initiative.

October 24, 1991. Thomas Neff, an MIT physicist, publishes an op-ed in the New York Times titled “A Grand Uranium Bargain,” suggesting that, in order to facilitate the disarmament process, the U.S. should buy or barter fissile material released from the Russian warheads slotted for dismantlement. Neff embarks on actively promoting the idea with the U.S. government.

October 1991. A U.S.-Russian working group on Safety, Security and Dismantlement (SSD) of Nuclear Weapons is established to facilitate the rapid and safe implementation of the PNIs. The U.S. delegation is led by Ambassador William Courtney, Dr. Robert Barker (Department of Defense) and Dr. James Turner (Department of Energy). The SSD is charged with reducing “the risks of both a nuclear weapon accident and loss of control of a nuclear weapon in either country,” as well as facilitating “Soviet ability … to transport and store weapons they identify for retirement as a reciprocal response to … the President’s initiatives.”

November 1991. A group of authors from Harvard’s Belfer Center—Kurt Campbell, Ashton Carter, Steven Miller and Charles Zraket—publish a report entitled “Soviet Nuclear Fission: Control of the Nuclear Arsenal in a Disintegrating Soviet Union. The report warns that the destiny of the 27,000 nuclear weapons on the territory of the uncertain Soviet Union is a paramount security concern. The report identifies three challenges: devolution of control over nuclear weapons to constituent republics, unauthorized seizure or use and proliferation of weapons and sensitive materials outside the Soviet Union. The authors recommend prompt implementation of PNIs and U.S. technical cooperation in transport, storage, disablement and dismantling of nuclear weapons and sensitive weapon-related components.”

November 13, 1991. Sen. Nunn addresses the Senate stating that the U.S. is at a “unique juncture” in history when it could achieve “the greatest reduction in a former adversary’s weaponry since the destruction of German and Japanese weapons” after WWII. He stresses that dismantling and destroying nuclear weapons requires two things that are in short supply in the Soviet Union—technology and resources—and urges Congress and the president to “invest wisely in a modest program” of technical assistance for demilitarization of the Soviet Union “that could produce dramatic dividends.” Due to strong opposition to aid to the Soviet Union, however, Nunn is forced to withdraw the Nunn-Aspin bill. Despite this, Nunn proceeds to build bipartisan support for the idea by engaging Sen. Richard Lugar (R-In.) and others.

November 15, 1991. Sens. Nunn and Lugar meet with Sergei Rogov and Andrei Kokoshin of the Institute for U.S. and Canadian Studies of the Soviet Academy of Sciences (ISKAN); the Russians warn that nuclear weapons could be caught in a power struggle between the Soviet republics.

November 19, 1991. Ashton Carter presents the results of the Belfer Center’s “Soviet Nuclear Fission” study to Sens. Nunn and Lugar and their staff. William Perry of Stanford University, John Steinbruner of Brookings Institution and David Hamburg of the Carnegie Corporation also attend the meeting. 

November 21, 1991. Nunn invites 16 senators from both parties for a breakfast meeting where he and Carter brief them on the nuclear threat posed by the Soviet collapse. The senators give their approval to the Nunn-Lugar initiative to assist the Soviet Union with dismantling nuclear arms.

November 25, 1991. President Bush submits the START Treaty to the Senate for ratification.

November 25-27, 1991. The first round of U.S.-Soviet SSD talks take place in Washington, D.C., led by Undersecretary Bartholomew and Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Obukhov. The sides broach discussions of safety, security and dismantlement of nuclear weapons per the PNIs. The head of the U.S. SSD working group, Amb. Courtney, relates a sense of urgency in rapid disablement of nuclear weapons slotted for destruction, citing risks of instability, armed conflict and accidental missile launch in the USSR. Courtney’s Soviet counterpart, Sergei Zelentsov, chief engineer of the Defense Ministry directorate in charge of security of nuclear weapons, does not share the U.S. sense of urgency and remains skeptical about the need for U.S. assistance.

November 27, 1991. The Senate, in an 86-8 vote, passes the Soviet Nuclear Threat Reduction Act, authorizing the appropriation of $500 million from the Department of Defense (DoD) budget for Fiscal Year 1992, of which $100 million are designated for humanitarian assistance and $400 million for assisting with dismantling nuclear and chemical weapons in the Soviet Union. Allison describes the bill as “the most significant U.S. policy initiative toward Russia in the post-Cold War period.”

December 8, 1991. Russian President Boris Yeltsin, Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk and Chairman of the Supreme Soviet of Belarus Stanislav Shushkevich meet at a hunting lodge in Belavezha Forest in western Belarus and sign an accord declaring that the Soviet Union as “a subject of international law and as geopolitical reality” has ceased to exist. The three Slavic republics form a Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and pledge to preserve “a single military strategic space” with “joint command” and “single control” over nuclear weapons. The Belavezha Accords, as the agreement becomes known, are ratified by the Ukrainian and Belarusian parliaments on December 10 and by the Russian parliament on December 12, 1991.

December 12, 1991. Secretary of State James Baker delivers an address at Princeton University outlining U.S. policy toward transformations in the Soviet Union. Baker declares that the U.S. does not want to see new nuclear states emerge and expects that Soviet nuclear weapons will remain under a common, unified command and control.

December 12, 1991. President Bush signs the Soviet Nuclear Threat Reduction Act into Public Law No. 102-228. Later, the program will be renamed Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR). The law specifies the following objectives:

  • Facilitate transportation, storage, safeguarding and elimination of nuclear and other weapons;
  • Facilitate prevention of proliferation and establish verifiable safeguards;
  • Facilitate prevention of the diversion of weapons-related scientific expertise to terrorist groups or third-world countries;
  • Support demilitarization of defense-related industry and conversion of such industry and equipment to civilian purposes and uses;
  • Expand military-to-military and defense contacts between the U.S. and the independent states.

Congress, however, requires the executive branch to certify that the recipient of the Nunn-Lugar funds:

  • Make a substantial investment of its won in weapons destruction;
  • Forgo any military-modernization program that exceeds legitimate defense requirements and forgo the replacement of destroyed weapons of mass destruction;
  • Forgo any use of components of destroyed nuclear weapons in new nuclear weapons;
  • Facilitate U.S. verification of weapons destruction that is carried out with U.S. financial assistance;
  • Comply with all relevant arms control agreements;
  • Observe internationally recognized human rights.

Congress authorizes but does not appropriate the $400 million for the program. These funds would have to be reprogrammed from existing DoD Operations & Maintenance (O&M) accounts for FY92. The same pattern would be repeated for FY93. 

December 1991. At an early interagency meeting on implementing the CTR legislation, the DoD general counsel Jack Beard proposes a way for the executive branch to meet the recipient-certification requirements included in the legislation. That approach would be followed every year until Congress lifted the certification requirements under the George W. Bush administration.

December 15-21, 1991. Secretary of State Baker visits the four Soviet republics where strategic nuclear arms are deployed—Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia. He reiterates the U.S. position that no new nuclear states should emerge from the Soviet collapse and a single, collective command and control authority over the strategic nuclear weapons should be preserved.

December 16-20, 1991. U.S. and Soviet scientists from government- and public-sector organizations hold workshops in Moscow and Kyiv on Soviet warhead dismantlement and the best use of the $400 million authorized under the Nunn-Lugar act. The Soviet Ministry of Atomic Power and Industry (MAPI) presents a proposal to use the funds for the construction of a plutonium-storage facility under joint “safeguards.”

December 16, 1991. At a retreat in Leesburg, Virgina, Secretary of Energy Admiral James Watkins and the directors of the U.S. nuclear labs discuss ways to help Soviet nuclear scientists and prevent brain drain from the former Soviet Union. They decide that the lab directors should engage with their Russian counterparts. The ensuing series of exchanges and programs, many funded by CTR, become known as lab-to-lab cooperation.

December 21, 1991. The CIS holds a summit in Alma-Ata, Kazakhstan, at which eight more Soviet republics join the grouping: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine also sign the Agreement on Joint Measures on Nuclear Weapons, whereby Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus pledge to withdraw all tactical nuclear weapons to Russia by July 1, 1992, and Ukraine and Belarus to eliminate strategic nuclear weapons on their territories by 1994 and join the international Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) as non-nuclear-weapons states. CIS members agree that Russia should succeed the USSR as a permanent member of the UN Security Council. CIS member further elaborate the constitution of joint strategic forces and the decision-making process for nuclear use at a meeting in Minsk on December 30.

December 25, 1991. At 7 p.m. local time, in a televised address, Gorbachev resigns as president and commander-in-chief of the USSR. Immediately afterward, he transfers his “nuclear suitcase” to Russian President Yeltsin.

The Soviet flag is lowered over the Kremlin and replaced with the Russian tricolor. Soviet ambassador to the U.N. Yuri Vorontsov simply changes his title to Russian ambassador to the UN at midnight Moscow time and then sends UNSG Pérez de Cuéllar “Fax 2338” from the Kremlin stating: “Henceforth the name Russian Federation will be used in the United Nations instead of USSR.”

December 26, 1991. The upper house of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR passes a declaration recognizing that due to the establishment of the CIS, the USSR ceases to exist and disbands itself.

The dissolution of the Soviet Union leaves 25% of the ex-country’s ICBM force and 40% of its long-range strategic bomber force outside the territory of the Russian Federation. Ukraine inherits 176 silo-based ICMBs, 130 SS-19s and 46 SS-24s, each armed with multiple warheads, for a total of some 1,240 strategic warheads, 44 strategic bombers armed with almost 588 air-launched cruise missiles (ALCMs) and some 2,600 tactical nuclear weapons. Belarus inherits 81 land-mobile SS-25 ICBMs each armed with a single warhead and over 1,000 tactical nuclear weapons. Kazakhstan inherits 104 SS-18 silo-based ICBMs armed with a total of 1,040 warheads and 40 strategic aircraft armed with 370 ALCMs. All three former Soviet republics also inherit significant elements of the former Soviet nuclear research and production complex. In addition, Russia has an estimated inventory of 1,300 metric tons of highly enriched uranium (HEU) and somewhere between 120 and 170 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium located at some 60 sites in hundreds of buildings.1


January 15-20, 1992. Undersecretary Bartholomew leads the first interagency delegation to Moscow, Kyiv, Minsk and Alma-Ata,2 now capitals of the newly independent states, to discuss arms control, including the ratification and implementation of START, the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) and the NPT. Bartholomew mentions that the U.S. has funds, under the Nunn-Lugar program, to aid with weapons dismantlement, once the specific needs of the new states are better defined. Bartholomew also conducts another round of SSD talks in Moscow where the Russian side reiterates that the main bottleneck in the Russian process of dismantling warheads is lack of a fissile-materials storage facility.

January 28, 1992. President Bush in his State of the Union address announces a second installment of PNIs that entail the cancellation of development, production and procurement of certain strategic nuclear system programs. Bush further elaborates proposals for the START-II de-MIRV’ing treaty.

January 29, 1992. President Yeltsin responds with reciprocal measures to Bush’s new PNIs, making specific commitments on the destruction of ground, naval and air non-strategic nuclear weapons, as well as a halt in production of a number of strategic nuclear systems.

January 29, 1992. President Yeltsin decrees to establish the Ministry of Atomic Energy of the Russian Federation, or Minatom, which oversees most of the Russian nuclear complex.

February 1, 1992. Yeltsin pays his first official working visit to the U.S. He meets with President Bush at Camp David.

February 10-14, 1992. The first visit in the series of exchanges between U.S. and Russian nuclear labs takes place. Directors of the Russian nuclear labs—Vladimir Belugin of VNIITF at Snezhinsk, formerly the closed city of Chelyabinsk-70, and Vladimir Nechai of VNIIEF at Sarov, formerly the closed city of Arzamaz-16—travel to the U.S. to visit nuclear labs and meet with their U.S. counterparts: John Nuckolls, director of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), and Siegfried Hecker, director of Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).3

February 14, 1992. Secretary Baker visits the Soviet nuclear lab VNIITF. Its leadership informs him that the average employee salary is $15 per month and gives him a list of civilian-use products the facility can manufacture with U.S. investment.

February 17, 1992. Foreign ministers of Russia, the U.S. and Germany release a statement about the establishment of a Science and Technology Center intended to support Soviet nuclear scientists and prevent “brain drain” out of the FSU.

February 23-29, 1992. The U.S. nuclear lab directors, Hecker of LANL and Nuckolls of LLNL, pay a reciprocal visit to Russian nuclear labs.

Mid-February 1992. Drawing on the results of SSD negotiations, Secretary Baker proposes U.S. CTR assistance to Russian Foreign Minister Kozyrev  in the following areas:

  • Armored blankets;
  • Emergency response equipment;
  • Safe, secure railcars;
  • Fissile-materials containers;
  • Nuclear-materials storage;
  • National system of materials protections, control and accounting (MPC&A);
  • Fissile-materials disposition facility (FMDF).

DoD designates the Defense Nuclear Agency (DNA) to contract and project-manage CTR-funded programs.

March 2, 1992. Viktor Mikhailov, a nuclear scientist and deputy minister of atomic power, is promoted to the post of minister at Minatom. He would serve in this role until 1998.

April 1992. Belarus announced the completion of the withdrawal to Russia of all the tactical nuclear warheads deployed on Belarusian territory.

April 19, 1992. DoE’s Victor Alessi and DoS’s Robert Gallucci author a memorandum outlining general guidelines for scientific cooperation between Russian and U.S. nuclear weapons labs. This informal DoE-DoS agreement would continue to guide U.S.-Russian lab-to-lab collaboration and exchanges.

April 28-May 2, 1992. As part of the SSD talks, Sandia National Laboratory (SNL) hosts a large Russian delegation led by Anatoly Belov of the Russian Foreign Ministry and Georgy Tsyrkov of Minatom. The U.S. SSD delegation is led by DoS’s Gen. William F. Burns, who replaced Amb. Courtney, and includes representatives of DoD and DoE, as well as nuclear scientists. The delegations hold detailed technical discussions in areas of SSD cooperation outlined earlier, such as the provision of armored blankets, railcars, fissile-material containers and accident-response equipment totaling $145 million in CTR funds.

May 5, 1992. The Russian military announces that all tactical nuclear weapons have been removed from Ukraine to Russia, ahead of the July 1 deadline.

May 10, 1992. Secretary of Energy Watkins testifies before U.S. Congress that for the first time since 1945 the U.S. is not building nuclear weapons.

May 23, 1992. Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine sign an Annex to START I in Lisbon, Portugal, whereby all four states are recognized as successors of the USSR in respect to the treaty. Article V of the Lisbon Protocol, as the document becomes known, obligates Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan to join the NPT as non-nuclear weapon states “in the shortest possible time.” Attached to the Lisbon Protocol are letters from Kravchuk, Nazarbayev and Shushkevich pledging that their countries will eliminate all nuclear weapons from their territories within the seven-year period provided by START.

June 16-17, 1992. President Bush and President Yeltsin meet for their first summit in Washington, D.C., where on June 17 they sign a declaration of “strategic partnership.” Bush and Yeltsin also conclude the Agreement Concerning the Safe and Secure Transportation, Storage and Destruction of Weapons and the Prevention of Weapons Proliferation, or SSD agreement for short. The agreement sets for a seven-year period the general framework for CTR-funded projects. The U.S. and Russia initial three CTR implementing agreements: on provision of armored blankets, on fissile-material containers and on nuclear accident response equipment.

Bush and Yeltsin, June 1992


July 2, 1992. The parliament of Kazakhstan ratifies START I and the Lisbon Protocol.

July 1992. The first shipment of 200 sets of armored blankets for warhead transportation arrives in Moscow from U.S. army storage depots in Europe. By June 1993, the U.S. would deliver some 700 sets of armored blankets.

July 1992. The U.S. and Russia sign an implementing agreement “Concerning Safe, Secure and Ecologically Sound Destruction of Chemical Weapons,” initially committing $25 million of CTR funds to the project.

August 28, 1992. DoD’s John Birely and Minatom’s Mikhailov sign an implementing agreement on the provision conversion kits to modify up to 100 cargo railcars and 15 guard railcars to enhance physical security of nuclear warheads and materials during transportation, pledging $20 million in CTR funds. Subsequently, a sample Soviet railcar is shipped to SNL in Albuquerque, New Mexico, for development of prototype conversion kits.

September 23, 1992. The U.S. conducts its last underground nuclear test.

October 1, 1992. The U.S. Senate ratifies START I.

October 2, 1992. President Bush signs legislation containing the Hatfield Amendment establishing a nine-month unilateral nuclear testing moratorium. President Clinton will subsequently extend the moratorium through 1996.

October 5, 1992. The U.S. and Russia sign a CTR implementation agreement dedicating $15 million to develop a design for a fissile-material storage facility (FMSF). A joint U.S.-Russian team complete the design by June 1993.

October 22, 1992. The U.S. and Belarus sign a CTR umbrella agreement and two implementing documents: one on the provision of emergency-response equipment and associated training with $5 million of CTR funds committed; and another for setting up and equipping an export-control system for identifying and controlling nuclear materials worth $1 million.

October 26, 1992. Belarus announces that it has finalized the schedule for the withdrawal of SS-25 units from its territory. The withdrawal would conclude in November 1996.

November 4, 1992. The Russian Duma ratifies START I and the Lisbon Protocol, but makes its entry into force conditional on the accession to the NPT of Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus.

November 27, 1992. Russia, the U.S., Japan and the European Union sign an agreement on the establishment of the International Technology and Science Center (ITSC) in Moscow. ITSC’s mission is to provide research support for weapons scientists in Russia and the former Soviet Union to engage in peaceful civilian science projects. The Russian Duma never ratifies the agreement and it enters into force only provisionally in March 1994. Eventually, it grows to involve 36 state-partners and opens regional offices in Georgia, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

December 1992. U.S. and Russian experts meet at LANL to discuss the engineering design and monitoring system for the fissile-material storage facility to be constructed in Russia for housing nuclear materials extracted from dismantled Soviet nuclear warheads.


FY1993. DoD authorization legislation for CTR projects is expanded to include dismantlement of missiles and missile launchers; elimination of destabilizing conventional weapons; establishment of science and technology centers; environmental restoration; defense conversion; and military-to-military contacts.

January 1993. Harvard’s Allison, Carter and others publish a report entitled “Cooperative Denuclearization: From Pledges to Deeds,” in which they argue that increased urgency and immediate assistance are needed to achieve safe disarmament in Russia and denuclearization of the non-Russian republics. Nuclear dangers created by the dissolution of the Soviet Union, including unauthorized launch, accident or illicit sale of a warhead, cannot be deterred in the traditional sense and can be tackled only by cooperative engagement with the former Soviet states that are undergoing profound political, economic and societal transformation. The report offers detailed policy recommendations on all aspects of the U.S.-Russian nuclear relationship, including arms control and nuclear security.

January 1993. The U.S. and Belarus sign an implementation treaty for a CTR-funded project to equip with communications systems and train the personnel of the Belarusian National Agency for Arms Control and Inspections.

January 3, 1993. Presidents Yeltsin and Clinton sign START II, a treaty that bans all ICBMs with multiple, independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs) and makes further reductions to between 3,000 and 3,500 deployed nuclear warheads on each side. START II never enters into force.

January 13, 1993. The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) is opened for signature. By the end of the month both the U.S. and Russia sign on. The CWC would enter into force on April 29, 1997, obligating parties to eliminate all chemical weapons stockpiles within a decade, which in the U.S. amounted to approximately 30,000 tons and in Russia to some 40,000 tons of chemical agents.

February 4, 1993. The Belarusian parliament votes to ratify START and the Lisbon Protocol and accede to the NPT.

February 18, 1993. The head of the U.S. SSD delegation, Gen. Burns, and Russian Atomic Energy Minister Mikhailov sign in Washington a U.S.-Russian agreement on the disposition of the HEU extracted from dismantled Soviet nuclear weapons. The agreement, based on the idea conceived by Tom Neff in 1991, provides a framework for the U.S. purchase of 500 metric tons of HEU from Russia, to be first blended down to low-enriched uranium at the facilities in Russia and then transferred to the U.S. for use in nuclear-power reactor fuel.

March, 1993. U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher pledges $65 million in CTR funds to Belarus to assist with its denuclearization.

March, 1993. Three CTR implementation agreements with Russia are finalized:

  • On strategic nuclear delivery vehicle dismantlement;
  • On fissile-material storage facilities; and
  • On equipment and material control and accounting.

The agreements are submitted for review to the relevant Russian ministries.

March 24, 1993. President Clinton issues Presidential Decision Directive (PDD)-3, “U.S. Policy on the Ratification and Implementation of START I and START II and the Denuclearization of Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan,” designating these issues as priority objectives of U.S. foreign, security and nonproliferation policy.4

April 4-5, 1993. At the U.S.-Russian summit in Vancouver, Canada, the Clinton administration pledges a $1 billion aid package to support market and democratic reforms in Russia.

April 28, 1993. Secretary of Defense Les Aspin assigns overall policy guidance for the CTR program to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy, a post occupied at the time by Ashton Carter.

June 15, 1993. At a meeting of CIS defense ministers, CIS commander-in-chief Marshal Shaposhnikov announces his resignation. Subsequently, CIS Joint Armed Forces are disbanded.

June 15, 1993. The U.S. completes the delivery of 2,520 protective armored blankets for the transportation of nuclear warheads to Russia and continues the deliveries of emergency-response equipment to Russia and Belarus.

July 5-6, 1993. SSD delegation visits Minsk to finalize CTR agreements in additional three areas:

  • Environmental restoration and clean-up of SS-25 bases ($25 million);
  • Conversion of strategic rocket bases and other defense-related facilities to civilian use ($20 million);
  • Military housing and retraining programs for former officers of the Strategic Missile Forces, or SMF ($10 million).

July 27, 1993. U.S. Secretary of Defense Les Aspin and Ukrainian Minister of Defense Kostyantin Morozov sign in Kyiv a memorandum of understanding on $175 million in CTR assistance to Ukraine.

August 23, 1993. DoD and the Russian government sign the implementing agreement “Concerning Cooperation in the Elimination of Strategic Offensive Arms (SOAE),” with the U.S. pledging $130 million in CTR funds. The project entails provision of U.S. equipment for transport and elimination of liquid ICBM fuel, silo, submarine launcher and long-range bomber elimination and emergency-response equipment.

September 2, 1993. Ambassador James Goodby, who in March 1993 replaced Gen. Burns as the head of the U.S. SSD delegation, and Deputy Atomic Energy Minister Nikolai Yegorov sign an implementing agreement for $75 million in CTR funds on assistance in construction and equipping of an FMSF. In 1997, the project would receive an additional $84 million.

September 2, 1993. The U.S. government and Minatom sign the implementing agreement on a nuclear MPC&A system, dedicating $10 million in CTR funds. MPC&A systems provide the capability to deter, detect, delay and respond to possible adversarial acts or other unauthorized use of nuclear material and, if necessary, to aid in their recovery. Subsequently, MPC&A would grow to include projects in Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan, funded from the CTR budget, and in Lithuania, Latvia and Uzbekistan, funded from the DoE overhead budget. MPC&A becomes one of the largest and most successful programs in the history of CTR. By 2012, the U.S. will have spent some $4 billion to strengthen MPC&A systems in the FSU.

September 22, 1993. Under the auspices of lab-to-lab cooperation, the first joint U.S.-Russian scientific experiment is conducted at VNIIEF on a high-current generator.

October 11, 1993. The Soviet Nuclear Threat Reduction Act evolves into the Cooperative Threat Reduction Act of 1993, with emphasis on:

  • Warhead removal from the Soviet successor states to Russia;
  • Destruction and dismantlement of weapons systems;
  • Chain of custody projects;
  • Chemical weapons destruction assistance;
  • Demilitarization support.

October 25, 1993. U.S. and Ukraine sign the umbrella CTR agreement.

October 25, 1993. Ukraine, the U.S., Sweden and Canada sign an agreement to establish a Science and Technology Center in Ukraine (STCU) designed to provide research grants to Ukrainian scientists and prevent brain drain. President Kravchuk would bring the STCU agreement into force on May 4, 1994, after which the center becomes fully operational. In the years that follow, Japan, the EU, Germany and other countries become STCU contributors.

November 18, 1993. Ukraine’s parliament votes to ratify START I and the Lisbon Protocol with extensive reservations and with the exclusion of Article V, obligating it to join the NPT as a non-nuclear weapons state.

December 5, 1993. DoD’s Gloria Duffy and the head of Ukraine’s Strategic Nuclear Forces Administrative Control Center General Aleksei Kryzhko sign the first CTR implementing agreement on Strategic Nuclear Arms Elimination with an initial commitment of $135 million. Shortly thereafter, implementing agreements on an MPC&A system, defense conversion and military housing are signed.

December 13, 1993. DoD and Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Science and New Technologies sign the agreement “Concerning the Destruction of Silo Launchers of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles, Emergency Response and the Prevention of Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons” that serves as the umbrella CTR agreement, with an initial $85 million pledge. A further five CTR implementing agreements are signed on the same day.

December 13, 1993. Kazakhstan’s parliament votes to accede to the NPT during the visit of Vice President Al Gore to Almaty.

December 1993. DoE and Minatom sign agreements on improving the safety of Russian nuclear reactors and to allow, by the end of 1994, bilateral inspection of some facilities that stored plutonium.

December 1993. DoE and the Ukrainian government sign an MPC&A implementing agreement, providing for improvement in MPC&A systems at four locations: Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology, Kyiv Institute for Nuclear Research, South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant in Zaporizhia and Sevastopol Naval Institute.

December 1993. DoE and Kazakhstan sign an MPC&A implementing agreement, providing for improving MPC&A systems at four sites: Aktau BN-50 Breeder Reactor, Ulba Fuel Fabrication Plant, Almaty Research Reactor and Semipalatinsk-21 facility.


January 1994. William J. Perry becomes secretary of defense. Under his leadership, DoD expands CTR programs, including authorizing the use of $40 million in CTR funds for a new Defense Enterprise Fund (DEF) designed to promote joint ventures in conversion and defense between U.S. firms and those in the FSU.

January 14, 1994. Russian state-owned company Tekhsnabexport (Tenex) and the United States Enrichment Corporation (USEC) sign a $12 billion, 20-year contract for the sale of 500 metric tons of HEU, implementing the agreement signed in February 1993. The deal is signed at the Kremlin in the same room where Soviet government and nuclear scientists first held a meeting about the Soviet bomb in 1945.

January 14, 1994. At the same meeting, the U.S., Russia and Ukraine sign a Trilateral Statement that outlines the main terms of Ukraine’s nuclear disarmament. Russia agrees to compensate Ukraine for the value of HEU released from tactical and strategic nuclear warheads removed from Ukraine’s territory in the form of nuclear fuel assemblies for Ukraine’s power reactors and by forgiving part of Ukraine’s energy debt to Russia. The statement noted that a minimum of $175 million in CTR funds will be dedicated to technical assistance projects in Ukraine. U.S. and Russia also pledge “security assurances” to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity and not to threaten it with nuclear weapons.

January 1994. During a visit to LANL, VNIIEF director Vladimir Belugin and LANL director Sig Hecker sign a memorandum of understanding, proposing areas of cooperation between the labs, including on nuclear MPC&A that involves the security of Russian nuclear materials and warheads.

February 3, 1994. The Ukrainian parliament removes reservations and ratifies START I and the Lisbon Protocol unconditionally.

March 17-22, 1994. U.S. Secretary of Defense Perry and Assistant Secretary Carter visit Moscow, Almaty, Minsk and Kyiv. While in Ukraine, Perry and Carter visit one of the ICBM sites at Pervomaisk and a missile production facility in Dnipropetrovsk.

April 1994. DoE’s government-to-government approach to joint MPC&A cooperation with Russia is revised and augmented by lab-to-lab involvement, which helps to advance work on the MPC&A program.

May 3, 1994. A separate program office for CTR is established within the Office of the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Atomic Energy in order to “strengthen and hasten implementation of the CTR program.” One agency that interfaces with the office in the CTR arena at the technical and expert level is the Defense Nuclear Agency (DNA).

June 23, 1994. U.S. Vice President Gore and Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin sign an agreement pledging to permanently end the operation of plutonium production reactors at Mayak Chemical Metallurgical Combine in Ozersk and Siberian Chemical Combine at Seversk by 2000, as well as to prohibit the restarting of reactors that are already closed.

June 1994. Hecker, now at SNL, travels to Russia to sign pilot lab-to-lab MPC&A agreements with three facilities: VNIIEF, VNIITF and the Kurchatov Institute.

July 1994. Russian and U.S. specialists exchange visits to the U.S. plutonium storage facility at Hanford, Washington, and the Russian plutonium storage facility at Mayak in Ozersk in the northern Urals. At Mayak, some 30 tons of plutonium is in storage at the time.

July 20, 1994. The new Belarusian leader, President Alexander Lukashenko assumes office. Under his leadership, Belarus becomes much less cooperative with the U.S. government, until CTR projects collapse completely in 1997.

July 1994. The Russian government begins the construction, with CTR assistance, of an FMSF for 25,000 containers at the Mayak facility within the nuclear complex in Ozersk, formerly Chelyabinsk-65.

September 15, 1994. President Yeltsin issues a decree on urgent measures to improve the system of accounting for and storing nuclear materials. The decree is a response to a series of highly publicized incidents of theft and smuggling of Russian nuclear materials, revealing serious gaps in MPC&A systems.

September 21, 1994. President Clinton issues PDD-30, “U.S Nuclear Posture and Policy on Nuclear Arms Control Beyond the START I and START II Treaties,” stating, among other things, that DoD “will continue to support Nunn-Lugar programs to reduce the danger of unauthorized or accidental use or diversion of weapons or materials from and within the Former Soviet Union.”

November 16, 1994. The Ukrainian parliament votes to have Ukraine accede to the NPT as a non-nuclear weapons state.

November 20-21, 1994. In a secret U.S.-Kazakhstani operation code-named “Project Sapphire,” two U.S. C-5 cargo planes airlift 600 kg of HEU from Ulba Metallurgical Plant in Ust-Kamenogorsk in northern Kazakhstan to DoE’s Oak Ridge facility in Tennessee. These C-5 nonstop flights (with three air-to-air refuelings) from Ust-Kamenogorsk to Dover AFB become the longest in history. Kazakhstan is compensated with about $20 million in CTR funds, as well as in non-cash assistance, for the value of the removed HEU.

December 5, 1994. At a summit of the Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Budapest, Hungary, the U.S., Russia, the UK and Ukraine sign a memorandum on security assurances in connection with Ukraine’s accession to the NPT. Similar assurances are also pledged to Belarus and Kazakhstan. China and France extend security assurances to the three former republics in separate statements. Pursuant to Ukraine’s submission of NPT ratification instruments, START enters into force.

December 16, 1994. Minatom’s Mikhailov and U.S. Secretary of Energy Hazel O’Leary sign the Warhead Safety and Security Exchange Agreement (WSSX). The agreement provides guidelines for cooperation to enhance the safety and security of nuclear warheads in Russia. The agreement will enter into force on June 1, 1995. The program results in a series of working groups, seminars, and exchanges between U.S. and Russian nuclear labs, especially SNL and VNIIA.5 This collaboration yields the design and provision to Russian nuclear warhead storage sites of equipment for mitigating accident consequences and providing authenticated monitoring and control, some of which was funded by CTR.

December 1994. USEC places the first order for LEU blended down from 6 metric tons of HEU, the maximum Russia is able to process for delivery in 1995.

FY1994. The Clinton administration decides to include funding for CTR programs as a separate title in DoE's budget and State's budget. 

1994. DoE establishes the Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention (IPP) program with the objective of attracting U.S. businesses to laboratories and institutes of the former Soviet Union, with technology evaluations from the U.S. nuclear labs. IPP, which started operation as Industrial Partnership Program in 1992, received $35 million in FY94 appropriations.


January 1995. The U.S. DoD and Russia’s Minatom agree to add $20 million in CTR funds for joint MPC&A upgrades. Similar agreements are signed with Kazakhstan, Belarus, and Ukraine. Eventually, the two sides agree to cooperate on MPC&A upgrades at five locations: Institute of Physics and Power Engineering in Obninsk, NIIAR in Dmitrovgrad, NPO Luch in Podolsk, Mayak Chemical Metallurgical Combine in Ozersk (formerly Chelyabinsk-65) and Production Association Machine Building Plant in Elektrostal.6 Due to secrecy concerns and limited access to Russian HEU facilities, however, only $1.5 million of the dedicated funds are spent by mid-1995.

February 1995.  Demonstrations are held at the first two facilities that completed MPC&A upgrades, at Building 116 of the Kurchatov Institute in Moscow and at VNIIEF in Sarov. 

March 1, 1995. U.S. President Clinton announces that 200 metric tons of fissile material will be withdrawn from the U.S. nuclear stockpile and called for it to be rendered unusable for future military purposes.

April 25, 1995. Russian SMF commander Igor Sergeyev announces the completion of transfer of nuclear warheads from Kazakhstan to Russia.

May 1995. In a joint Russian-Kazakhstani operation, a nuclear explosive device is removed from Tunnel 108k at the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site, four years after it was placed there by the Soviet military in preparation for a test.

May 10, 1995. Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin issue a Joint Statement on Nonproliferation reaffirming the two states’ commitment “to strengthen national and international regimes of control, accounting and physical protection of nuclear materials and to prevent illegal traffic in nuclear materials.”

June 1995. DoE and Belarusian government sign an MPC&A implementing agreement, providing for MPC&A systems upgrades at the Minsk Institute of Nuclear Power Engineering at Sosny.

June 1995. On the sidelines of a meeting of the Gore-Chernomyrdin commission, DoE Secretary O’Leary and Minatom’s Mikhailov sign a joint statement initiating site surveys in the five locations selected for MPC&A upgrades, which finally launched these MPC&A projects in earnest. At the same time, DoE and GAN, the Russian nuclear regulatory agency at the time, sign an agreement for cooperation on creating a standardized national system for safeguarding nuclear material and providing MPC&A upgrades at six additional sites in Russia.7

June 1995. The first two shipments of blended-down Russian HEU arrive in the U.S. under the Megatons to Megawatts program.

August 1995. Graham Allison testifies before the U.S. Senate, warning that the threat of loose nukes persists and calling for the expansion of CTR funding to secure the “30,000 nuclear weapons that are still left there; more than 1,000 tons of highly enriched uranium that are still left there; more than 100 tons of plutonium that are still there in place” in Russia.8

August 1995. DoE initiates the lab-to-lab Warhead Dismantlement and Fissile Material Transparency Program (WD&FMT) in order to develop a cooperative regime and transparency in warhead dismantlement and destruction under the PNIs.

October 3, 1995. The U.S. and Kazakhstan sign a CTR agreement to close the tunnels used for nuclear testing at the Semipalatinsk site. The project would spend $6 million to seal off—through explosion-induced collapse and concrete reinforcement—the portals to some 181 tunnels and 13 experimental shafts.

September 28, 1995. President Clinton signs PDD-41, which lays out the policy for strengthening MPC&A systems in the FSU and assigns formal responsibility for directing MPC&A projects to DoE.

1995. DoE and Minatom begin cooperation at Mayak, Luch, NIIAR, VNIITF and Seversk.

1995. DoE and Minatom launch a project for personnel training and skill enhancement at the Methodological and Training Center for Nuclear Materials Accounting and Control, Interdepartmental Special Training at Obninsk.

1995. DoE and Minatom begin work on safe transport of nuclear materials and creation of automated security system for transporters of nuclear materials at Eleron Design Bureau for Auto Transport Equipment.

1995. The project on a Federal Information System for Nuclear Materials Accounting and Control is launched at Minatom’s Central Scientific Research Institute of Management, Economics and Information.

1995. DoE and Minatom begin cooperation at the Novosibirsk Chemical Concentrates Plant, Radium Institute (St. Petersburg), Beloyarsk Nuclear Power Plant (Zarechny), Urals Electrochemical Integrated Plant (Novouralsk), Mining and Chemical Combine (Zheleznogorsk), Scientific Research and Design Institute of Power Technology (NIKIET, Moscow), Siberian Branch of NIKIET (Zarechny), Institute of Theoretical and Experimental Physics (ITEP, Moscow) and Electrochemical Plant (Zelenogorsk).


FY1996. The Clinton administration transfers funding responsibility for certain activities out of the DoD budget request to the DoS and DoE budget requests.  DoS becomes responsible for a WMD Scientist Redirection Program and the Export Controls and Border Security Program, and continues to fund the Nonproliferation and Disarmament Fund (NDF). DoE takes over MPC&A programs and a new program on transforming and downsizing Russia’s large nuclear research and fissile-material production facilities.

March 1996. A new MPC&A system is commissioned at Salaspils Institute of Physics in Latvia. The project is carried on with DoE funding and in cooperation with the IAEA.

March 21, 1996. President Clinton issues PDD-47 declaring that sustaining the scientific competence of individuals responsible for ensuring confidence in the Russian and U.S. nuclear stockpiles is a national priority.

May 1996. A new MPC&A system is commissioned at a facility in Tbilisi, Georgia.

May 31, 1996. The last shipment of nuclear warheads leaves Ukraine’s territory for Russia. 

June 26-27, 1996. Congress passes the Defense Against Weapons of Mass Destruction Act of 1996, also known as the Nunn-Lugar-Domenici Amendment. The bill expands existing Nunn-Lugar work to include domestic preparedness for WMD terrorism. It also expands funding for DoE lab-to-lab cooperation, particularly the MPC&A project.

July 1996. A new facility for liquid missile propellant neutralization and missile disassembly, built with $27 million in CTR funds, opens in Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine.

July 1996. U.S. and Russia sign a CTR agreement on Chemical Weapons Destruction Program to design, build and equip the first Russian CW destruction complex near Shchuchye in Siberia, eventually committing close to $1 billion in CTR funds.


February 1997. U.S. and Russia agree to extend lab-to-lab cooperation on high-energy physics for five years.

May 1997. Commencement of a $54 million CTR project to design a new Solid Propellant Disposition Facility near Votkinsk in Russia.

June 20, 1997. The U.S. announces deactivation of its largest plutonium processing plant, the Plutonium Uranium Extraction Facility (PUREX) in Richland, Washington, a year ahead of schedule.

September 23, 1997. U.S. VP Gore and Russian PM Chernomyrdin sign an Agreement on Plutonium Production Reactors, in accordance with which any plutonium produced cannot be used for weapons purposes. They also agree that three remaining Russian plutonium production reactors at Seversk and Zheleznogorsk will be shut down by December 31, 2000. Russia, however, would prevent the entry into force of the agreement until alternative sources of energy for the surrounding communities are found.

1997. The Russian Defense Ministry submits a request for CTR assistance in eliminating 51 SS-N20 missile solid-fueled motors and components. Soon requests would follow for more assistance for the Strategic Offensive Arms Elimination (SOAE) projects that involved elimination and silo decommissioning of liquid-fueled missiles SS-18, SS-17 and SS-19, as well as solid-fueled SS-24s, SS-25s and SS-20-N missile systems.


February 13, 1998. U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen and Russian Defense Minister Marshal Igor Sergeyev inaugurate Security Assessment and Training Center (SATC) at Sergiev Posad outside of Moscow built with CTR assistance. SATC’s mission is to provide the Defense Ministry with a test-and-evaluation center for national nuclear security requirements.

March 4, 1998. President Yeltsin appoints Yevgeny Adamov, a nuclear physicist, to head Minatom after the retirement of Viktor Mikhailov. Adamov would remain in this position until 2001 and would go on to encounter a raft of legal problems.

March 31, 1998. Gore and Chernomyrdin announce a joint Nuclear Cities Initiative designed to promote the conversion of Russia’s nuclear cities.

April 24, 1998. U.S. government announces the removal of about 5 kg of HEU from the former Soviet republic of Georgia in the so-called Operation Auburn Endeavor. The HEU, stored at the Nuclear Research Center in Tbilisi, is removed to safe storage in the UK and then to the U.S.

May 14, 1998. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma signs a decree on the elimination of Ukraine’s 44 long-range strategic bombers and the ALCMs with which they’re armed. This precipitates a CTR-funded project on the dismantlement of these aircraft and eventually additional non-strategic bombers and air-to-surface missiles. The project would end in December 2003.

June 1998. DoE and Russian State Customs Committee sign a protocol initiating a new program called the Second Line of Defense (SLD), with the goal of combatting illicit trafficking of nuclear and other radioactive material at some 350 Russian sea, air and land border crossings, by the end of 2011. By the end of 2006, the program would install radiation-detection equipment at more than 150 sea ports, airport and border crossings in Russia. The program is later renamed to Nuclear Smuggling Detection and Deterrence (NSDD) program and extended to other countries of the FSU, as well as to Africa, Asia and Europe.

June 5, 1998. The last of Ukraine’s 130 SS-19 ICBMs is lifted from its silo, defueled and transported to a storage facility with CTR-funded equipment.

June 10, 1998. The United States first proposes amending the Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials (CPPNM); Russia later proposes a draft text that will eventually become the International Convention on the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (ICSANT, see 2005 below). Both conventions are key to securing vulnerable nuclear material and strengthening the global nuclear security architecture.

July 24, 1998. U.S. and Russian governments sign the Scientific and Technical Cooperation Agreement concerning the management of plutonium that has been withdrawn from military nuclear programs.

August 1998. Financial meltdown in Russia. U.S. responds by increasing the budget for the CTR program from $382 million in 1998 to $440 million in 1999 and $475.5 million in 2000. DoE’s MPC&A budget goes from $137 million in 1998 to $152 million in 1999.

September 2, 1998. Presidents of U.S. and Russia sign the Joint Statement for Principles of Management and Disposition of Plutonium Designated as No Longer Required for Defense Purposes. Each side declares approximately 50 metric tons of plutonium to be withdrawn from the weapons program and rendered unusable for nuclear weapons.

September 1998. The first of 46 SS-24 silos in Ukraine is eliminated using CTR funding. The last SS-24 silo would be decommissioned in 2001. The SS-24 missiles would be disassembled by 2002 at a special facility built with CTR funding at Pavlograd Mechanical Plant in eastern Ukraine.

November 1, 1998. DoD creates the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) as a successor to the Defense Nuclear Agency (DNA).9 DTRA is responsible for nuclear stockpile stewardship and accountability to include surety inspections of military nuclear units to ensure they meet safe and readiness standards. It also becomes the point agency for implementing DoD CTR projects.

1998. DoE and Minatom begin joint project on the regulatory base for MPC&A.

1998. Official DoE-Minatom opening ceremony for the Methodological and Training Center for Nuclear Materials Accounting and Control (IPPE).

1998. Main phase of DoE-Minatom work to modernize MPC&A systems at NIKIET, Siberian Branch of NIKIET, Beloyarsk nuclear power plant and ITEP is completed.


October 2, 1999. DoE and Minatom sign Agreement Regarding Cooperation in the Area of Nuclear Material Physical Protection, Control and Accounting (MPC&A). The agreement regulates MPC&A cooperation after the expiration of the original July 1992 SSD umbrella agreement. It provides for further development of MPC&A systems at nuclear enterprises in Russia and highlights the need to counteract illicit trafficking of nuclear materials.


March 1, 2000. U.S. establishes National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), a separate semi-autonomous agency within DoE responsible for the management and security of U.S. nuclear weapons, nuclear nonproliferation and naval reactor programs. Some criticize the move as adding another bureaucratic layer that encumbers U.S.-Russian cooperative projects, such as lab-to-lab cooperation.

May 4, 2000. At a trilateral meeting, DoE Assistant Secretary Rose Gottemoeller, Minatom’s Lev Ryabev and Kazakhstan’s Minister of Energy, Industry and Trade Vladimir Shkolnik sign an agreement on remediation of the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site, including the disposition of plutonium, a byproduct of nuclear testing, left behind in underground shafts in several locations at the site. The project, dubbed Operation Groundhog, would remove 100 kg of weapons-grade plutonium from 26 areas of the test site, including, most famously, the Delegen mountain, and would be completed by August 2003. The U.S. would spend $200 million in CTR funds on this and other programs to secure nuclear materials and infrastructure at the Semipalatinsk site.

June 1, 2000. U.S. Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson and Minister Adamov sign the protocol extending the WSSX agreement and incorporating within the framework of the agreement cooperative activities related to nuclear warhead dismantlement, previously under the purview of the WD&FMT program. The WSSX agreement is extended for another five years. It would not be extended again.

September 1, 2000. The U.S. and Russia sign the Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement (PMDA), which requires each country to dispose of at least 34 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium. The PMDA would enter into force only on July 13, 2011, and Russia would unilaterally suspend its participation in the deal in October 2016 amid deteriorating bilateral relations.


March 2001. Alexander Rumyantsev, an engineer and a former director of the Kurchatov Institute in Moscow, is appointed the head of Minatom. Rumyantsev becomes the first Minatom outsider to hold this post. His institute has been supportive of cooperative projects with the U.S.

March 2001. Within the framework of WSSX and with the support of the Russian Defense Ministry’s 12th GUMO and DoD’s DTRA, U.S. nuclear lab SNL and Russian nuclear lab VNIIA launch the Safety and Security Technology for Russian Warheads program, or TOBOS.10 The goal of the TOBOS program is to develop a system that provides round-the-clock security and location information on warhead containers in Russia. The program is terminated in 2007 due to a decline in U.S.-Russian relations.

September 2001. USEC achieves a milestone of purchasing a quantity of Russian LEU equivalent to 5,000 warheads-worth of HEU.

October 2001. DoD and Uzbekistan’s Defense Ministry sign a CTR agreement to spend up to $6 million to prevent the spread of biological weapons, materials and technology.

December 2001. Funding responsibility for the project to Eliminate Weapons-Grade Plutonium Production is transferred from DoD to DoE. The departments of Health, Agriculture, Treasury and Commerce, the EPA, Customs and Coast Guard are enlisted to support CTR projects.


April 2002. All new CTR projects in Russia are suspended, as President George W. Bush could not certify before Congress that Russia was in compliance with the existing agreements.

May 24, 2002. President Bush and President Putin sign a Treaty on Strategic Offensive Reductions (SORT) in Washington, D.C., providing for the reduction of each country’s nuclear arsenal to between 1,700 and 2,200 warheads. After ratification by Congress and the State Duma, the treaty would enter into force on June 1, 2003.

June 27, 2002. During a summit at Kananaskis in Alberta, Canada, the G8 issues a statement outlining the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction. The Global Partnership commits $20 billion—$10 billion from the U.S. and $10 billion from the other G7 nations—over a period of 10 years to fund nonproliferation projects and assist Russia and other nations in addressing nonproliferation, disarmament, counter-terrorism and other nuclear safety issues.

July 2002. The U.S. and Kazakhstan renew the CTR umbrella agreement that had lapsed at the end of 2000.

August 20, 2002. Ukraine officially disbands the 43rd Rocket Army that formerly commanded units associated with the 176 ICBMs inherited by Ukraine.

December 22, 2002. The U.S., Russia, the IAEA and Serbia complete a four-week joint operation to repatriate some 50 kg of HEU, as well as 2.4 tons of highly radioactive spent fuel, from a research reactor at the Vinca Institute of Nuclear Sciences in Serbia.


FY2003. DoE and NNSA launch the Megaports Initiative that seeks to equip 100 of the world’s busiest ports with enhanced capabilities to detect nuclear and other radioactive materials.

March 2003. DoD’s CTR policy office commences a six-month review of every program and project to ascertain whether it addresses the administration’s focus on terrorist threats. This leads to a scaling down of some CTR projects in the FSU and the emergence of two new programs: Biological Weapons Proliferation Prevention and Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation Prevention Initiative.

April 2003. The dismantlement of the Stepanogorsk biological weapons facility in Kazakhstan, carried out with CTR funds, is completed.

May 9, 2003. Congress adopts Sen. Lugar’s Nunn-Lugar Expansion Act, which authorizes operators outside the former Soviet Union to address proliferation threats. CTR funds are committed for the first time outside of the FSU to destroy chemical weapons in Albania.

May 21, 2003. The governments of the U.S., Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the UK and Russia, as well as the EU and IAEA, sign a framework agreement on a Multilateral Nuclear Environmental Program in the Russian Federation (MNEPR). The agreement aims to provide assistance to Russia in the area of safety of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste.

September 2-4, 2003. VNIIEF and Minatom conduct a Sarov-2003 exercise that tests the entire upgraded MPC&A system. The exercise involves transporting nuclear materials by rail and vehicle guarded by Interior Ministry troops. The test is attended by a group of U.S. observers from DoE and the labs.


March 9, 2004. The Russian government reorganizes Minatom into the Federal Agency on Atomic Energy, or Rosatom. Rumyantsev remains in charge.

May 26, 2004. Secretary of Energy Spencer Abrahams announces the Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) with the mission to identify, secure and recover high-risk vulnerable nuclear and other radiological materials around the world.

May 2004. Russia joins the Proliferation Security Initiative. 

May 2004. DoE issues interim Guidelines for Sustaining Effective Operation of Material Protection, Control and Accounting Systems in the Russian Federation, or Sustainability Guidelines for short.

2004. DoE-Minatom work begins on MPC&A Operations Monitoring System project.

2004. Main phase of DoE-Minatom work to modernize MPC&A systems at the Novosibirsk Chemical Concentrates Plant is completed.


February 24, 2005. At their summit in Bratislava, presidents Bush and Putin issue the Joint Statement on Cooperation on Nuclear Security. What becomes known as the Bratislava Initiative sets a 2008 deadline for completing physical security upgrades in Russia, including at 97 nuclear material and warhead sites. They also issue a joint statement on cooperation to prevent nuclear terrorism. This greatly increases the pace and scope of nuclear security work in Russia.

April 13, 2005. U.N. General Assembly adopts the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (ICSANT), the initial draft for which was presented by Russia in 1998. The convention is designed to criminalize nuclear terrorism and to foster law-enforcement cooperation against potential nuclear terrorists. It has been signed by 115 countries—74 of which, including Russia and the United States, have ratified it—and acceded to by 33 more.

May 4, 2005. Former Rosatom chief Adamov is arrested in Switzerland on charges brought by the U.S. accusing him of diverting $9 million from one of the DoE’s nuclear security projects. Adamov is later extradited to Russia, where he is convicted of fraud and sentenced to five and a half years in prison—a sentence that would later be suspended.

June 2005. Rosatom and DoE sign the framework for continuing cooperation on MPC&A for the period 2005-2012. The scope of cooperation, however, is substantially reduced from the previous decade.

November 15, 2005. Sergei Kiriyenko is appointed to head Rosatom. Kiriyenko, who comes from an engineering and finance background and briefly served as prime minister in 1998, becomes the first person in this position without prior nuclear-related experience.


April 19, 2006. As part of the NNSA-funded GTRI, some 60 kg of spent research reactor fuel is removed from Uzbekistan to Russia, the first such repatriation of spent fuel since the break-up of the Soviet Union.

June 16, 2006. The U.S. and Russia sign a new CTR implementing agreement on security enhancements and training at Russian nuclear storage sites.

July 1, 2006. The fissile-materials storage facility at Mayak, built with the help of CTR funds, begins accepting weapons-grade material.

July 15, 2006. The U.S. and Russia launch a Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism.

August 9, 2006. NNSA and IAEA remove close to 40 kg of HEU from a research reactor near Warsaw, Poland, and transfer it to Russia.

October 24, 2006. DoE announces completion of security enhancements at all 50 Russian navy nuclear locations, both warhead and nuclear material sites.

October 30-31, 2006. The first meeting of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism takes place in Rabat, Morocco, attended by representatives of 13 governments. The meeting adopts a statement of principles that include commitment to strengthening the global security architecture to prevent, detect and respond to the threat of nuclear terrorism.


2007. Congress eliminates the certification requirements for CTR. For many previous years, Congress had conditioned funding for the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program on the president making an annual certification that each recipient nation was committed to certain goals.

August 2, 2007. Ground is broken for construction of the Mixed Oxide (MOX) Fuel Fabrication Facility at Savannah River National Laboratory, in Aiken, South Carolina, intended to enable the elimination of 34 metric tons of U.S. weapons grade plutonium. The DoE would later add an additional 9 metric tons of excess fissile material to the total. The facility would be plagued by problems and is still not complete as of this writing.

December 1, 2007. President Putin signs into law a bill transforming Rosatom from a government agency into the Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation. It continues to oversee all nuclear fuel cycle activities, both civilian and military.


April 9, 2008. Sen. Lugar announces the elimination of the last of the 56 SS-24 ICBMs in Russia under the Strategic Offensive Arms Elimination (SOAE) program.

April 20, 2008. The first plutonium-producing reactor, ADE-4, at Seversk in Russia is shut down as part of the joint NNSA-Rosatom program. As part of the project, the U.S. constructed a coal-fired plant to provide electricity and steam heat to the surrounding community.

June 5, 2008. The second reactor at Seversk, ADE-5, is shut down, leaving only one more plutonium-producing reactor in Russia at Zheleznogorsk.

November 12, 2008. The NNSA announces the completion of security upgrades at Mayak ahead of the December 2008 deadline. The upgrades are part the ongoing MPC&A assistance to Russia, accelerated by the Bush-Putin Bratislava Initiative of February 2005.


March 21, 2009. The Treaty on a Central Asian Nuclear Weapons Free Zone (CANWFZ), established by Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, enters into force.

May 29, 2009. A CTR-funded Chemical Weapons Destruction Facility opens in Schuchye, Russia.


April 12-13, 2010. The U.S. hosts the first Nuclear Security Summit, which brings together leaders of 47 countries and three international organizations to advance global cooperation on nuclear security and combatting nuclear terrorism. The summit concludes with a joint communique by all the leaders to secure all nuclear materials in four years. The U.S., Russia, Ukraine and many other countries also make specific national commitments at the summit to strengthen nuclear security.

April 13, 2010. At the summit, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announces the closure of Russia’s last reactor producing weapons-grade plutonium, the ADE-2 at Zheleznogorsk, after 52 years of operation. The closure is a culmination of U.S.-Russian cooperation on deactivating plutonium-producing reactors that started in 1997. Since 1993, the Zheleznogorsk reactor was producing electricity for the surrounding communities, yet still generating weapons-grade plutonium as a byproduct.

April 13, 2010. On the sidelines of the summit, the U.S. and Russia sign a protocol to amend the 2000 Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement, under which both countries would dispose of approximately 17,000 nuclear weapons’ worth of excess weapon-grade plutonium.

May 11, 2010. President Barack Obama resubmits the U.S.-Russia Agreement for Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation, also known as the 123 Agreement, to Congress. The agreement was initially submitted to Congress by the Bush administration in 2008 but withdrawn after the Russian-Georgian war in August of that year.

June 10, 2010. DoE Secretary Steven Chu and deputy director of Rosatom Ivan Kamenskikh dedicate the MPC&A Training Center at VNIIEF. The center is established for the professional development, retraining and skill enhancement of personnel involved in operating the MPC&A systems.

October 12, 2010. The NNSA announces the completion of the return to Russia of 450 kg of spent HEU fuel from Poland’s Ewa and Maria research reactors in Swierk. This is the single largest removal of HEU in the history of the GTRI. The U.S. also provides Poland with assistance in conversion of the Maria reactor from HEU to LEU fuel.

November 2010. The U.S. and Kazakhstan complete the transfer of weapons-grade nuclear materials stored in the Central Asian republic.

December 1, 2010. Russia announces that it has created the world's first international nuclear fuel bank in Angarsk to operate under the auspices of the IAEA.


January 2011. The U.S. and Russia exchange notes to bring into force the 123 Agreement.

April 26, 2011. The UN Security Council gives a 10-year extension to Resolution 1540, its main legal instrument to prevent nuclear, chemical and biological weapons from falling into the hands of terrorist groups.

March 2011. Rosatom’s Kiriyenko visits the U.S. to oversee the extension of a nuclear security program, the signing of a deal to supply uranium to the U.S. and to explore exchanges of nuclear technologies.

May 2011. The State Duma ratifies the U.S.-Russian plutonium disposition protocol signed by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in April 2010. The protocol calls for both sides to dispose of 34 tons of plutonium each.

May 2011. G8 leaders extend the mandate of the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction at their summit in Deauville, France. They make no financial commitments.

May 2011. The NNSA and the Federal Environmental, Industrial and Nuclear Supervision Service of Russia (Rostekhnadzor) sign an agreement to extend nuclear security cooperation for an additional seven years.

June 9, 2011. Secretary Chu signs an agreement with Rosatom’s Kiriyenko to provide support for national and international efforts on nonproliferation of nuclear weapons, advancing research efforts and the development of a legal framework to expand joint activities between the two countries on nuclear research.

July 13, 2011. Secretary Clinton and Minister Lavrov exchange diplomatic notes in Washington, D.C., thus finally bringing the amended PMDA into force. 

July 2011. The Russian government, in a diplomatic note, informs the U.S. and other states that it withdraws from the ITSC agreement. Since its opening in 1994, the ITSC has disbursed over $1 billion for research projects involving more than 30,000 scientists with dual-use skills in the FSU.

September 22, 2011. The NNSA and the Federal Customs Service of Russia announce the completion of joint work on equipping 383 Russian border crossing points with equipment designed to detect nuclear and radiological smuggling as part of the NNSA’s Second Line of Defense Program.


March 26-27, 2012. Heads of 52 states attend the second Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, South Korea. At the summit, the Russian leadership makes a number of proposals, including an initiative to organize a workshop on nuclear security.

March 27, 2012. DoS announces the removal of 128 kg of HEU from two sites in Ukraine. This is the last of three shipments that removed of a total of 234 kg of HEU from Ukraine to Russia over a two-year period.

May 2012. Russia and Uzbekistan sign an intergovernmental agreement that will allow Russia to take back spent HEU fuel from Uzbekistan’s research reactors.

October 9, 2012. Russia announces that it has notified the United States that it no longer wants to extend the CTR umbrella agreement due to expire in June 2013. 

November 2012. The NNSA announces the removal of 72.8 kg of spent HEU fuel from the Institute of Nuclear Physics in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, to Russia.


April 5, 2013. The NNSA announces the removal of the Czech Republic’s last remaining HEU, some 68 kg, from the Nuclear Research Institute in Rez to Russia.

July 2, 2013. The U.S. and Russia announce the successful removal of 11 kg of HEU from Vietnam’s Dalat Nuclear Research Institute.

June 14, 2013. CTR umbrella agreement expires. U.S. and Russia sign a protocol to the 2003 MNEPR framework agreement to govern nuclear security cooperation, albeit much narrower in scope.

September 16, 2013. U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz and Rosatom’s Kiriyenko sign in Vienna an Agreement on Cooperation in Nuclear- and Energy-Related Scientific Research and Development, which provides the legal framework necessary to expand cooperation between U.S. and Russian nuclear research laboratories, institutes and facilities in a broad range of areas, including nuclear technology, nonproliferation, fundamental and applied science, energy and environment.

November 2013. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Frank Rose announces that the down-blending of HEU to LEU by Russia that was required by the 1993 U.S.-Russia HEU Purchase Agreement has been completed.

November 7, 2013. The NNSA and its Russian partners announce they have successfully completed the removal of 14 Russian radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs) from the Northern Sea Route.

November 5, 2013. The U.S., Russia and the IAEA announce that they have completed removal of all remaining HEU from Hungary.

December 10, 2013. The last shipment of LEU from Russia’s port of St. Petersburg arrives at the port of Baltimore in completion of the HEU Disposition Agreement, or Megatons to Megawatts program. Over the course of the 20 years since the program began, Russia blended down 500 metric tons of HEU, the equivalent of some 20,000 nuclear weapons, into more than 14,000 metric tons of LEU. The overall cost of LEU purchases by the U.S. reached $8 billion.


March 28, 2014. U.S. government announces suspension of projects under the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission, established in 2009 as part of President Obama’s “reset” policy with Moscow, over what Western governments and Ukraine describe as Russia’s annexation of Crimea and support of armed insurgency in eastern Ukraine. The suspension includes the commission’s working groups on nuclear energy and nuclear security and scientific cooperation. However, nuclear security cooperation on existing projects between DoE/NNSA and Rosatom continues.

March 24-25, 2014. The third Nuclear Security Summit takes place in The Hague. The U.S. and Russia set aside their differences over Crimea to endorse the final statement that calls for enhancing nuclear security. But while signing the final communiqué Russia, China and 16 other countries shun a separate initiative of the U.S., the Netherlands and South Korea to incorporate UN nuclear agency security guidelines into national rules.

September 22, 2014. The U.S. announces it has worked with Russia to help remove 50 kg of highly enriched uranium from Poland.

September 29, 2014. Kazakhstan removes a stockpile of Russian-origin HEU fuel from the WWR-K research reactor in Almaty to Russia.

November 5, 2014. U.S. DoS announces that it received in mid-October a Russian Foreign Ministry demarche stating that Moscow will not participate in the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit.

December 16, 2014. Russia terminates the MNEPR Protocol and ceases cooperation with the U.S. at most Russian weapons complexes and civilian nuclear sites.


August 27, 2015.  The government of Kazakhstan and the IAEA sign an agreement that establishes the international nuclear fuel bank at the Ulba Metallurgy Plant located in the city of Ust-Kamenogorsk in eastern Kazakhstan.

August 31, 2015. Vladimir Mikerin, president of the U.S. subsidiary of TENEX, a division of Rosatom, and the sole Russian executor of the U.S.-Russian HEU deal, pleads guilty before the district court in Maryland to receiving over $2 million in corrupt payments meant to influence the awarding of contracts with Rosatom to U.S. companies. At least two other individuals are convicted of participating in this corrupt scheme.

September 28, 2015. Russia’s Rosatom formally launches a commercial mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel fabrication facility at the Mining and Chemical Combine (MCC) in Zheleznogorsk to comply with the plutonium disposition deal signed by the U.S. and Russia.

September 29, 2015. The NNSA announces that the final 5 kg of HEU has been removed from Uzbekistan’s IIN-3M Foton research reactor to Russia.

December 22, 2015. IAEA announces that some 1.83 kg of HEU has been removed from the former Soviet republic of Georgia.


March 31-April 1, 2016. Fourth and final Nuclear Security Summit takes place in Washington, D.C., without Russian participation.

September 26, 2016. Secretary Moniz announces that the NNSA in cooperation with Poland, Russia and IAEA has successfully repatriated 61kg of HEU spent fuel from Maria research reactor in Poland.

October 3, 2016. President Putin issues a decree suspending the U.S.-Russian Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement and related cooperation, citing unfriendly U.S. policy toward Russia as one of the reasons. The State Duma later confirms the move by passing a law.

October 5, 2016. The Russian government suspends the 2013 U.S.-Russian Agreement on Nuclear Energy Research and Development. It also terminates the 2010 agreement between Rosatom and DoE on cooperation in the conversion of six Russian research reactors to low-enriched uranium fuel.


  1. The IAEA considers 25 kg of HEU and 8 kg of plutonium as sufficient to build a single nuclear weapon.
  2. Alma-Ata would be renamed Almaty in 1993.
  3. VNIITF stands for Vserossiisky nauchno-issledovatel’sky institut tekhnicheskoi fiziki, or the All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Technical Physics. VNIIEF stands for Vserossiisky nauchno-issledovatel’sky institut experimental’noi fiziki, or the All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Experimental Physics. Soviet nuclear facilities included some 10 closed secret cities that were known internally only by their postal indexes. These would not appear on maps until 1992 and most retain a semi-closed status.
  4. PDD-3 remains classified but some reference to it can be found in PDD-30.
  5. VNIIA stands for Vserossiisky nauchko-issledovatel’sky insitut avtomatiki, or the All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Automatics.
  6. NIIAR stands for Nauchno-issledovatel’skiy institut atomnykh reaktorov, or Scientific Research Institute of Atomic Reactors. NPO stand for nauchno-proizvodstvennoe obyedinenie, or scientific production association.
  7. GAN stands for Gosudarstvenny atomny nadzor, or State Atomic Safety Authority.
  8. Excerpt from Graham Allison's testimony on loose nuclear material from the former Soviet Union. Given before the Senate Subcommittee on European Affairs, August 1995.
  9. DNA was briefly renamed Defense Special Weapons Agency (DSWA) before becoming DTRA in 1998.
  10. TOBOS stands for Tekhnologii obespecheniya bezopasnosti opasnykh sistem, or Technologies for Securing the Safety of Dangerous Systems. GUMO stands for Glavnoe upravlenie Ministerstva oborony, or Main Directorate of the Defense Ministry; the 12th Main Directorate was roughly a counterpart to DTRA.

Mariana Budjeryn

Mariana Budjeryn is a Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow at Harvard's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, working with the center's International Security Program and its Managing the Atom Project.


Simon Saradzhyan

Simon Saradzhyan is the director of Russia Matters and assistant director of the Belfer Center's U.S.-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism.


William Tobey

William Tobey is a senior fellow at Harvard's Belfer Center and served as the deputy administrator for the Office of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation at the National Nuclear Security Administration in 2006-2009.

The timeline authors would like to thank: Susan Koch and Anya Loukianova for their insightful comments; Belfer colleagues Matthew Bunn and Nickolas Roth for sharing their expertise; and former RM student associate Andre Gellerman and MTA intern Kasey Saradzhyan for their research support.


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Main photo from Wikimedia Commons, courtesy of RIA Novosti (photographer Alexander Liskin), under a CC-BY-SA-3.0 license.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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