A Survey of Russian Scientists: Will They Go Rogue or Can Western Assistance Help Keep Them Home?



Deborah Yarsike Ball, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Date and Time

February 15, 2005 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM


Open to the public.

No RSVP required


Reuben W. Hills Conference Room, East 207, Encina Hall

FSI Contact

Chana Rodriguez

After the end of the Cold War, the world's attention focused on the vast quantity of potentially unsecured nuclear material- weaponized and unweaponized- that resided in the former Soviet Union. The closed borders of the Soviet Union were thrown open and facilities containing weapons of mass destruction (WMD) were no longer under the watchful eye of a ubiquitous KGB. Russian scientists possessing knowledge about nuclear, chemical and biological weapons were able to visit or immigrate to any country of their choice, including rogue nations with active WMD programs.

In response, a number of nonproliferation programs were established by Western nations to help stem the emigration of Russian weapons scientists to countries of concern. The key question is whether these nonproliferation programs are achieving their objectives. To answer this question, we conducted a survey of 600 Russian scientists (physicists, chemists and biologists). The data indicate that U.S. and Western nonproliferation programs are indeed effective. The programs significantly reduce the likelihood that Russian scientists would consider working in rogue countries. The data further suggest that continuation of the Western assistance programs is necessary in order to prevent scientists from going rogue.


Dr. Deborah Yarsike Ball is a political-military analyst specializing in Russian affairs in the Nonproliferation, Arms Control and International Security Directorate at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan and has been a fellow at Harvard University's Center for Science and International Affairs, as well as Stanford's Center for International Security and Arms Control. Her work focuses on Russian civil-military relations, military doctrine and security issues, the prevention of theft of nuclear weapons and weapons-usable nuclear material from the former Soviet Union, as well as the safety and security of Russia's nuclear arsenal. Dr. Ball has conducted analysis of various regime's internal and external political and social behavior and their holistic use of the elements of power and influence.

Ball's publications include: "How Safe Is Russia's Nuclear Arsenal?" in Jane's Intelligence Review (December 1999) and "The Social Crisis of the Russian Military," in "Russia's Torn Safety Nets" (Ed. by Mark G. Field and Judyth L. Twigg, St. Martins, 2000), and "The State of Russian Science" in Post-Soviet Affairs, (July-Sept. 2002, with Theodore Gerber). Among her committee assignments, Dr. Ball is currently serving on a US National Academy of Sciences Committee tasked to assess the indigenization of US programs to prevent leakage of plutonium and highly enriched uranium from Russia.

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