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Igor Ivanov

President of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC), Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation (1998–2004)

Sam Nunn

Co-Chairman of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, Former Democratic US senator

The U.S.-based Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) and the Moscow-based Center for Energy and Security Studies (CENESS) launched a new joint report on the future of U.S.-Russian nuclear cooperation. The report includes 51 recommendations for mutually beneficial cooperation across five thematic areas: nuclear science, nuclear energy, nuclear safety, nuclear security, and nuclear environmental remediation. If implemented, these projects could result in safer nuclear reactors, stronger defenses against nuclear and radiological terrorism, and cleaner approaches to nuclear environmental remediation.

The U.S.-based Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) and the Moscow-based Center for Energy and Security Studies (CENESS) launched a new joint report on the future of U.S.-Russian nuclear cooperation.

The report includes 51 recommendations for mutually beneficial cooperation across five thematic areas: nuclear science, nuclear energy, nuclear safety, nuclear security, and nuclear environmental remediation. If implemented, these projects could result in safer nuclear reactors, stronger defenses against nuclear and radiological terrorism, and cleaner approaches to nuclear environmental remediation.

Foreword by Sam Nunn and Igor Ivanov

The United States and Russiatoday face no shortage of disagreements. From Syria to Ukraine, the differences are serious and stark, but they should not obscure another important truth—that the United States and Russia have mutual, converging interests on some of the most consequential issues of today. Among them is the shared responsibility to manage the destructive forces of the atom while directing those same forces toward positive applications, such as combating climate change.

Today’s world is one in which nation–states no longer have a monopoly on the means for mass destruction. Terrorist organizations, such as Daesh (also known as ISIS or ISIL) and al Qaeda, have openly declared their intention to acquire nuclear and radiological weapons. The know-how for developing such weapons is more than 70 years old, and the materials needed to produce them are still stored in too many places and are accessible to too many people. Today, the danger of nuclear terrorism is real, serious, and growing.

These dangers compel collaboration between the United States and Russia, cooperation that unfortunately has almost come to a standstill. Communication between scientists and technical experts in U.S. and Russian nuclear complexes—which dates back to the 1980s—has been frozen. Bilateral forums, such as the U.S.-Russian Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Security Working Group, have been suspended. Differences, including those over Ukraine and the Middle East, have overshadowed nuclear cooperation, putting citizens of both of these nations at greater risk.

This report—developed jointly by the U.S.-based Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) and the Russia based Center for Energy and Security Studies (CENESS)—offers an alternative to the acrimony that has recently characterized these nations’ bilateral relations. Building on the success of bilateral cooperation to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile and cooperation to negotiate and begin implementation of the Iran nuclear agreement, this report offers policymakers a menu of dozens of projects on nuclear security and safety issues that could be implemented in the near term and as political relations improve.

The benefits of cooperation can be significant for the United States and Russia and for the world. Together, the United States and Russia could drive critical advancements: (a) developing the next generation of safe and reliable nuclear reactors, (b) investigating novel solutions to common nuclear waste challenges, (c) creating proliferation-resistant nuclear fuels, (d) bolstering the capabilities of essential radiation detectors, (e) improving the safety of commercial nuclear power plants, and (f) interdicting illicit nuclear trafficking in dangerous parts of the world.

Moving forward with projects such as those proposed in this report would also allow the United States and Russia to begin to rebuild the trust critical to putting bilateral relations back on track. If they do not change direction and the acrimony continues to build, these two nations will continue down an increasingly dangerous path and will have missed a crucial opportunity to cooperate on a wide range of urgent nuclear issues.

The report is available for download in both English and Russian.

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