March 31, 1995


Sam Grizzle, 202-586-5806

Penny Adams, 202-586-5806

Unprecedented Collaboration Between U.S. and Russia Enables Remote Monitoring of Nuclear Materials

Effort Advances Administration's Nonproliferation Goals

The Department of Energy, in collaboration with Russia's Kurchatov Institute, today unveiled an experimental system that could provide remote monitoring of each others' weapons-usable nuclear materials. This breakthrough would improve security and reduce costs -- while helping both countries meet non- proliferation objectives.

"This is the future, " said Energy Secretary Hazel O'Leary, "With this program, the United States and Russia are demonstrating to the world their shared commitment to reduce the global nuclear danger."

Two laboratories are involved: DOE's Argonne National Laboratory-West near Idaho Falls, Idaho, and the Kurchatov Institute, a research facility located in Moscow. Storage vaults containing highly-enriched uranium at each lab have been equipped with sensors and cameras. These sensors are triggered when individuals enter the vaults and cameras immediately begin filming. The images are recorded by a computer and are retrieved on demand via telephone lines in Russia and the United States.

The system has the potential to greatly improve monitoring and verification of U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons materials while reducing costs. Wide-spread use of this system would build global confidence by increasing openness and irreversibility in the nuclear arms reduction process.

"This is another example of our national laboratories contributing to global peace," said O'Leary. "At a time when Congress is debating DOE's existence and the role of U.S. sponsorship of basic and applied research, this is a clear example of the important role we play."

- DOE -