May 26, 1998

Chris Kielich, 202/586-5806


Department of Energy Participates in Commissioning Ceremonies in Russia

The United States and the Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy (MINATOM) yesterday announced the completion of upgrades at four Russian facilities that will help to secure and control nuclear materials, reducing the worldwide risk of nuclear proliferation. Representatives of the Department of Energy (DOE) and MINATOM, including DOE's Under Secretary Ernest Moniz and Director of Nonproliferation and National Security, Rose Gottemoeller, are holding commissioning ceremonies for the new security systems this week at each of the facilities.

Nuclear material protection, control and accounting (MPC&A) upgrades have been installed at:

"We look forward to building upon this important success in future cooperation between our governments to ensure that all weapons-usable material in both of our countries remains out of reach of terrorists and rogue states," said Under Secretary Ernest Moniz. "These upgrades significantly reduce the risk of unauthorized use, theft, or diversion."

The four sites are the latest facilities to complete the installation of nuclear MPC&A upgrades under DOE's cooperative efforts with Russia, the Newly Independent States and the Baltics.

The Department of Energy is installing advanced U.S. material protection technology to increase security at these sensitive sites in conjunction with the Russian Federation. Physical protection devices, such as motion detectors, cameras, and vibration sensors have been placed in rooms containing weapons-grade material. Vibration sensors, placed on doors and walls, are necessary to prevent a determined thief from breaking into a room using a drill or heavy-duty saw. Doors and windows were hardened to delay intruders, and sensors and cameras were added to thwart theft or diversion of nuclear materials. At the Beloyarsk Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP), a vehicle and personnel portal were upgraded to include a motorized vehicle gate and a vehicle entrapment area. The response force at BNPP and Sverdlovsk Branch of the Research and Development Institute of Power Engineering (SF-NIKIET) received upgraded radio communication equipment that allows them to communicate and respond more effectively.

DOE and MINATOM have been cooperating since 1994 to improve the security of weapons-usable material at locations throughout Russia under the MPC&A program. Originally part of the Department of Defense's Cooperative Threat Reduction ("Nunn-Lugar") program, the initiative was assumed by the Energy Department in 1995. Technical experts from DOE's national laboratories working directly with their counterparts in Russia, the Newly Independent States, and the Baltics carry out the design and installation of MPC&A upgrades.

Since the program's inception, DOE has improved the security of tens of tons of weapons-usable nuclear material throughout Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania, Uzbekistan, and Georgia by improving physical protection and material accounting systems. These protections include radiation portal monitors, tags and seals, barcoding materials, access control devices, and inventory control software for material accounting systems. The MPC&A initiative also offers training to the staff of the facilities in the use of these systems.

Site-wide MPC&A upgrades were completed at six additional sites in Russia in December 1997, and Commissioning Ceremonies for these sites were held in February and early May 1998. To date, site-wide MPC&A upgrades have been completed at 17 sites throughout the former Soviet Union. By December 2002, more than 50 locations are scheduled to receive nuclear material security and accounting upgrades, protecting hundreds of additional tons of weapons-usable material from theft or diversion.

More information on MPC&A initiatives are available on the World Wide Web at:

- DOE -