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«February 2001 NUCLEAR NONPROLIFERATION Security of Russia’s Nuclear Material Improving; Further Enhancements Needed GAO-01-312 Contents Letter 1 ...»

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United States General Accounting Office

GAO Report to Congressional Requesters

February 2001



Security of Russia’s

Nuclear Material

Improving; Further





Letter 1

Appendix I DOE’s Program to Install Security Systems at Russian Navy Nuclear Weapons Sites 32 Appendix II Status of Installed Security Systems in Russia 34 Appendix III Profile of Nuclear Sites in Russia Visited by GAO 36 Appendix IV DOE’s Expenditures on Nuclear Material Security in Russia Through Fiscal Year 2000 39 Appendix V Comments From the Department of Energy 42 Tables Table 1: Status of Nuclear Security System Installations as of February 2001 8 Table 2: Number of Buildings Where Russia Has Not Granted Physical Access to U.S. Project Teams 15 Table 3: Installed Nuclear Security Systems in Russia, Sitewide 34 Table 4: Installed Systems at Individual Buildings at Sites 35 Figures Figure 1: Blocks Used to Protect Plutonium at the Mayak Production Association 10 Figure 2: Russian Navy Site 49 11 Figure 3: Gate Left Open and Unattended at a Russian Nuclear Facility 14 Figure 4: DOE’s Cost Estimate to Complete the Material Protection, Control, and Accounting Program, Fiscal Years 2001-20 23 Page i GAO-01-312 Security of Russia’s Nuclear Material Figure 5: Breakdown of the $557.9 Million Spent on Nuclear Material Security, by Program Sector, Through Fiscal Year 2000 40 Abbreviations DOE Department of Energy GAN Gosatomnadzor (The Federal Nuclear Radiation Safety Authority) GAO General Accounting Office MINATOM Ministry of Atomic Energy (Russia) Page ii GAO-01-312 Security of Russia’s Nuclear Material United States General Accounting Office Washington, DC 20548

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Page 1 GAO-01-312 Security of Russia’s Nuclear Material security systems. Through direct contracts between its national laboratories and the Russian sites, DOE provides funding for the security improvements.3 Project teams consisting of nuclear security experts from the national laboratories work with their Russian counterparts to design and install the improved security systems. In 1998, DOE issued guidelines that provide criteria for effectively reducing the risk of nuclear material theft in Russia.4 The criteria specify the types of security improvements needed on the basis of threat assessments developed for each of the sites in Russia. By following the criteria, DOE plans to install security systems that reduce the risk of theft as quickly as possible at these sites. While the systems being installed are not as stringent as those in the United States, they are designed to prevent individual employees or a small group of criminals from stealing nuclear material. The Department has established a panel of experts, known as the Technical Survey Team, to determine if the installed systems meet the Department’s criteria for effectively reducing the risk of nuclear material theft at a site. The Team conducts its reviews by examining project documentation and meeting with the project team that designed and installed the systems but does not generally visit the Russian sites.

This is the second of two reports we have issued addressing your request to assess DOE’s Material Protection, Control, and Accounting program.5 This report addresses (1) if the nuclear security systems are reducing the risk of theft and how DOE is measuring their effectiveness; (2) what DOE is doing to ensure that Russia operates and maintains the improved security systems over the long run; and (3) DOE’s plan for completing the program.

3 DOE manages 23 national laboratories. Originally created to design and build atomic bombs under the Manhattan Project, these laboratories have since expanded to conduct research in many disciplines—from high-energy physics to advanced computing at facilities

throughout the nation. Ten national laboratories participate in the program, including:

Argonne, Brookhaven, Lawrence Livermore, Pacific Northwest, Oak Ridge, Los Alamos, Sandia, New Brunswick, Savannah River, and Pantex.

4 “Guidelines for Material Protection, Control, and Accounting Upgrades at Russian Facilities” (Dec. 1998).

5 The first report, Nuclear Nonproliferation: Limited Progress in Improving Nuclear Material Security in Russia and the Newly Independent States (GAO/RCED/NSIAD-00-82, Mar. 6, 2000), provided information on the cost of the program and how much progress the program had made in installing new nuclear security systems in the former Soviet Union.

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Page 3 GAO-01-312 Security of Russia’s Nuclear Material regulatory authority develop (1) a nuclear material accounting database that will enable Russia to track its total inventory of nuclear material; (2) regulations to ensure effective operations and maintenance of the systems;

and (3) an inspection and enforcement system to ensure that sites comply with regulations. In addition, the Department is supporting security improvements for trains and trucks that transport nuclear material between and within sites and for nuclear material security training centers. While some progress has been made on these projects, the Department does not expect them to be completed before 2020. To sustain the improved security systems, the Department estimates that it may have to assist each site for up to 3 years, or possibly longer, after the systems are installed.

In response to our March 2000 report, the Department developed a cost estimate and time frame for completing the Material Protection, Control, and Accounting program. The Department estimated that the total cost of the program through 2020 will be about $2.2 billion. This estimate includes $823.1 million to complete installation of nuclear material security systems by fiscal year 2011, $711.8 million for assistance to Russia to support and operate the security systems through 2020, and $241.3 million for program management. Department officials expressed uncertainty about the cost estimate and time frame for completing the program because of a number of issues that could delay the program or affect its costs. For example, the estimate also includes $387.2 million for consolidating the nuclear material into fewer buildings and converting some of the material into a form that cannot be used for weapons. While this initiative could reduce program costs by reducing the number of buildings needing security systems, the Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy has yet to identify which buildings and sites it plans to close. The Department is currently developing a strategic plan for achieving its goals for reducing the risk of theft in Russia and managing the program’s operations. This report recommends that the plan include (1) an estimate of how much assistance is required to sustain the operations of the systems based on an analysis of the costs and the sites’ ability to cover these costs and (2) options for completing the program on the basis of the progress made on gaining access to sensitive sites and the closure of buildings and sites.

We presented a draft of this report to the Department. The Department generally agreed with our findings and concurred with our recommendations. The Department also provided technical clarifications, which we incorporated where appropriate.

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• Physical protection systems, such as fences around the buildings that contain nuclear material; metal doors protecting the rooms where material is stored; and video surveillance systems that monitor the storage rooms.

• Material control systems, such as seals attached to nuclear material containers that indicate whether material may have been stolen from the containers and badge systems that only allow authorized personnel into areas containing nuclear material.

• Material accounting systems, such as inventories of nuclear material and computerized databases that enable sites to track the amount and type of nuclear material contained in specific buildings.

DOE’s Guidelines for Material Protection, Control, and Accounting Upgrades at Russian Facilities provide U.S. project teams with criteria for designing and installing security systems. The criteria were designed to achieve the greatest reduction to the risk of nuclear material theft within the program’s projected budget. While the guidelines are based on DOE’s physical security and material control and accounting requirements, and the International Atomic Energy Agency’s recommendations for physical protection, they are not as stringent as U.S. and international standards used to protect material at similar kinds of sites. According to the Page 5 GAO-01-312 Security of Russia’s Nuclear Material guidelines, installing security systems that use multiple components reduces the risk of theft by minimizing the reliance on any one component to detect and delay attempted thefts. Locating the components close to the material, such as around storage vaults and work areas, rather than at a site’s perimeter also reduces risk by minimizing the chance that a thief can bypass security systems and steal material. The guidelines also establish priorities for installing security systems on the basis of how easily the nuclear material being protected could be converted to nuclear weapons.

Material that is more readily converted to nuclear weapons receives more extensive security systems than material that poses less of a proliferation risk. DOE is also placing a priority on countering lower-level threats of theft from nonviolent individual employees or a small group of criminals rather than from higher-level threats such as those from violent employees or terrorists equipped with explosives to maximize the amount of material that can be protected within the program’s budget.

DOE’s Technical Survey Team reviews project documentation and meets with project team members to ensure that the installed systems meet DOE’s guidelines for reducing the risk of nuclear material theft in Russia.

The Team comprises eight national laboratory personnel with expertise in physical protection systems and material control and accounting for nuclear materials. The Technical Survey Team’s reviews include (1) an estimate of the original risk of theft at the site and how the installed security systems will reduce it; (2) the extent to which project activities have reduced the risk of theft at the site, on the basis of completed systems or other risk-reduction activities; and (3) the extent to which the security systems are balanced with appropriate physical security and material control and accounting equipment and procedures. The Team also reviews the project work plans for each site at the beginning of the fiscal year to ensure that project teams are installing systems that are effective and are of the least cost.

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• At the Mayak Production Association, a major producer of plutonium for Russia’s nuclear weapons program, DOE installed 1-ton interlocking concrete blocks over trenches containing over 5,000 containers of plutonium. (See fig. 1.) As of February 2001, the blocks were protecting over 15 metric tons of plutonium. Each container has a computerized bar code and tamper-resistant seal to help the site track its location and to show if any attempts have been made to open the container. Each block provides a barrier to delay a thief from gaining access to the material before being detected. In addition, the site’s ability to detect and respond to an attempted theft is reinforced with additional sensors, surveillance cameras, alarms, and communications systems. According to the Technical Survey Team, the blocks are effective against an adversary using sophisticated methods.

• At Navy Fuel Storage Sites 49 and 34 (located in Murmansk and Vladivostok, respectively), DOE helped the Russian Navy construct storage complexes to consolidate tens of tons of nuclear reactor fuel that were located in poorly protected sites in the Northern and Pacific Fleets.

(Navy Site 49 is shown in fig. 2.) DOE, working with the Russian Navy, strengthened the walls and ceilings of the nuclear storage buildings and installed portal monitors for nuclear material, which scan people and vehicles entering and leaving facilities to ensure that they have not taken nuclear material from storage locations, video surveillance systems, alarms, and fences to increase the ability to detect a theft. In addition, DOE improved the guard forces’ ability to respond to an attempted theft by providing them with helmets, bulletproof vests, strengthened barriers that protect against gunfire, and a radio communication system. According to the Technical Survey Team, the systems have significantly reduced the risk of nuclear material theft at these sites.

• At the Institute of Physics and Power Engineering at Obninsk, DOE bricked up windows at several buildings that contain several tons of nuclear material and installed high-security vault doors and locks and access control systems. According to the Technical Survey Team, these measures reduce the risk of theft. The project team also developed an inventory strategy that reduced the time it takes to inventory items and encouraged the facility to place nuclear material that it seldom uses in sealed containers. According to the Team, these security improvements are consistent with the guidelines issued by the program.

Page 9 GAO-01-312 Security of Russia’s Nuclear Material Figure 1: Blocks Used to Protect Plutonium at the Mayak Production Association Source: DOE.

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Source: Russian Federation Navy.

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