Weapon-Grade Materials in Russia: A Status Report



Date and Time

November 12, 2008 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM


Open to the public.

No RSVP required


Reuben W. Hills Conference Room

FSI Contact

Justin C. Liszanckie

Abstract:  Russia is the country that has the largest amount of weapon-usable fissile materials in its disposal, most of which has been produced during the cold war. In the years following the end of the cold war. Russia has undertaken significant effort to downsize its nuclear complex, leading to its serious transformation. This transformation, however, left the basic structure of the nuclear industry, most of the production facilities and most of the fissile material intact. Substantial amounts of weapon-usable fissile materials are still in storage, moved from one facility to another, or used for research and other purposes, creating security risks. Although the dangers associated with continuing presence of weapon material are generally acknowledged, the task of reducing this danger, by either eliminating the material or removing it from circulation and consolidating in a mall number of safe and secure storage sites, has proven difficult. The talk analyses the progress that Russia has made so far in consolidating its weapon-usable materials and describes the challenges that it is facing in further advancing this goal.

Pavel Podvig is a researcher at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University. In 2008-09, Podvig is CISAC's acting associate director for research. Before coming to Stanford in 2004, he worked at the Center for Arms Control Studies at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT), which was the first independent research organization in Russia dedicated to analysis of technical issues related to arms control and disarmament. In Moscow, Podvig was the leader of a major research project and the editor of the book Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces (MIT Press, 2001). In recognition of his work in Russia, the American Physical Society awarded Podvig the Leo Szilard Lectureship Award of 2008 (with Anatoli Diakov). From 2000 to 2004, Podvig worked with the Program on Science and Global Security at Princeton University, and earlier with the Security Studies Program at MIT. His current research focuses on the Russian strategic forces and nuclear weapons complex, as well as technical and political aspects of nuclear nonproliferation, disarmament, missile defense, and U.S.-Russian arms control process.

Podvig received his degree in physics from MIPT and his PhD in political science from the Moscow Institute of World Economy and International Relations. Since 2001, Podvig has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. He is a member of the APS Committee on International Freedom of Scientists and is serving as the Chair of the Committee in 2008. 

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