Former "Nuclear City" Opens Non-Weapons Computer Center

U.S. Department of Energy
Washington, D.C.
November 20, 2000


Former Ambassador Ronald Lehman, Director of the Center for Global
Security Research at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory,
joined with senior officials from the U.S. Department of Energy on
Saturday [November 18], to commission the "Strela" Open Computing
Center in Snezhinsk, one of 10 closed and formerly secret nuclear
cities in Russia.

"Commissioning the Strela Open Computing Center lays another brick in
the foundation of our work with Russia to reduce proliferation dangers
and enhance the national security of both of our nations," said
Ambassador Lehman. "This center will make it easier for Western firms
to employ Russia's highly skilled computer programming and software
experts in non-weapons work."

The Strela Open Computing Center ("Strela" translates to "arrow" in
English) will provide commercial research opportunities to former
nuclear weapons specialists in computer software programming and
modeling and computer-assisted engineering and design.

Four projects with commercial support or interest will begin
immediately and include:

- improving numerical simulation for wood composite manufacturing with
Virginia Polytechnic Institute;

- developing multimedia data interchange and communication software
components for the Animatek World Builder;

- developing genome sequence analysis tools with research partners at
the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for use in the
pharmaceuticals industry;

- improving mechanical engineering simulation code useful in the
automobile and other industries with the Livermore Software Technology

Five additional projects at the Strela Open Computing Center are
expected to get under way in the next several months. Taken together,
as many as 120 former weapons specialists are likely to be engaged in
high-tech jobs in the first year, with the number expected to double
in the following year as the city's capabilities and commercial
opportunities become known.

The Strela Center was established under the Department of Energy's
Nuclear Cities Initiative [NCI], a U.S.-Russian cooperative program
designed to accelerate Russia's planned consolidation of its nuclear
weapon complex, while also lowering the risk that displaced Russian
nuclear weapons specialists might sell their know-how to countries of
proliferation concern or terrorists.

In addition to opening the Open Computing Center, the Department of
Energy also announced that it would provide $9.7 million in funding
for new and ongoing projects for Snezhinsk. This includes $3.9 million
from NCI and $5.8 million from DOE's Initiatives for Proliferation
Prevention, which, like NCI, is designed to prevent a "brain drain" of
former Soviet weapons of mass destruction specialists. The U.S.
government funding is also expected to leverage and attract additional
investments from private industry and foundations.

Media Contact: Tamara Hamilton, HQ, 202/586-5806; Susan Houghton,
LLNL, 925/422-9919