Transcript of Interviews
Transcript of Press Conference With the Director General and Andrei Kokoshin, Vladimir Lukin, Ted Turner, Sam Nunn, Members of the Board of Directors and Co-Chairmen of the Nuclear Threat Initiative
Federal News Service
5 October 2005, Marriott Royal Aurora Hotel, 14:45
LUKIN: Good day, because we are in Moscow, I´ll speak Russian.
The press conference is organized by an organization called NTI, or Nuclear Threat Initiative. The organization was set up in 2001 before the events of 11 September in the United States as a response to one of the greatest challenges to the modern world, the challenge which is now called "The Challenge of Catastrophic Terrorism". You know well that people in this country, the United States, Japan, China and the Middle East have long been thinking about the terrible threat connected with the possible use of the achievements of technology to cause harm to humanity or to destroy it or much of it.
Initiatives of this kind have been launched by various states.
One of the major initiatives was the nuclear non-proliferation initiative which was crowned with the signing of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Unfortunately, the performance of that initiative is spotty and it is not keeping up with the times.
Nevertheless, it is a very useful and necessary initiative. Mr. ElBaradei was speaking during lunch today in a very clear and eloquent manner about the state of affairs in the world.
As for the organization itself, it is a non-governmental organization created at the initiative of several people. And I would like especially to note the prominent American businessman and public figure, Ted Turner who has committed his characteristic energy to creating such an international organization. He is here with us and we are delighted to have him and let us welcome him.
The immediate manager of the program is former senator and prominent American public figure Sam Nunn who is well known in this country for his very important and serious initiatives in the field of nuclear non-proliferation, nuclear threat reduction. The initiative was taken up by a number of countries, above all by this country. As a result, this organization was set up. Its board of directors includes 18 members from ten countries. Among them are several Americans, two Russians - Andrei Kokoshin and myself - and representatives from China, India, the Middle East, France - a very prominent scientist and public figure, Mr. Lellouche who is present here. We are trying to move forward, to raise money not only for educational purposes, but also for creating some pilot projects that can then be joined and developed by various states in order to catch up with the times and ensure a minimum of security for humankind in spite of the scientific and technical race and the associated threats which are only too well known to us: the nuclear threat, the biological threat and the chemical weapons threat. I think my distinguished colleagues from the board of directors will tell you about this organization. And perhaps I should end my long drawn-out introduction there.
TURNER: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you all for being here. I am Ted Turner and one of the co-founders of the Nuclear Threat Initiative whose purpose is to aid governments and others in reducing the threat from these weapons of mass destruction. In this quest no project is too large or too small for us to at least take a look at it. We´ve been here now in Moscow for three and a half days meeting with numerous people here and we think the meeting is going extremely well.
Unfortunately, the overall project, the making of weapons of mass destruction as safe as possible leaves much still to be desired. I am sure other members of the board will address that issue. Now it´s my duty to turn it over to my co-chairman Senator Sam Nunn.
NUNN: Thank you very much, Ted. I appreciate being able to be here with our board of directors. We had our meeting on Monday, we´ve had a number of visits, as Ted said, we have Gene Habiger - will you, Gene, hold up your hand - we have Judge Owada from Japan.
Gene Habiger was the Head of our Strategic Forces in the United States, now retired, and we have Fujia Yang who is a prominent physicist in China, and Charley Curtis who is the president of our organization, and a person who has great fame in her own right, Susan Eisenhower who is an expert on Russia and has just written a book on US-Russian space cooperation. And my wife presented it not long ago in Georgia and they are still talking about it. So, we are very proud to have all of our board here. And we will hear from Pierre Lellouche in just a moment.
We are very pleased today to have this press conference and we appreciate you turning out for the press conference. There will be I am sure other questions on a lot of subjects, but the main focus today is to announce a joint project with Russia to advance the Outside Technopark, formerly closed nuclear city of Sarov. So, I am honored to be here and be joined today by Mr. Zhigalov, director of Technopark and also Mr. Markelov, the president of telecommunications firm AFK Sistema as well as of course our honored luncheon speaker director general El Baradei of IAEA.
Before I discuss the project, let me just make a few brief comments about the security dangers that all nations face but that no nation can defend alone, and that is the threat of nuclear terrorism. The most potentially devastating security threat in the world today is the terrorist use of nuclear weapons. With the amount of nuclear bomb-making material, a small amount you can carry in a suitcase, someone with a skill in explosives, pretty simple tools and a machine shop could build a 10 kiloton bomb, nearly as strong as the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima many years ago. The most effective least expensive way to prevent nuclear terrorism is to lock down nuclear materials at the source and to do everything we can to keep terrorists or anyone who would use nuclear weapons from gaining nuclear materials or nuclear expertise.
Now, this is not a challenge for one country or even two countries although US and Russia have to lead in this area. It is an urgent global imperative for all nations. The raw material of nuclear terrorism is housed in hundreds of facilities in more than 40 countries around the globe, some of it secured by nothing more than an underpaid guard and a chain link fence. The United States and Russia as the world´s two top nuclear powers have a special responsibility to lead the world´s effort to lock down these materials not just in the former Soviet Union, but also everywhere they are, including the United States and including other countries around the globe. So, this is a global challenge and it requires a global approach and a global solution. And, of course, IAEA Director ElBaradei plays the key role here internationally and you will hear from him in a moment.
In January, Russia, for the first time, assumes the presidency of the G-8. From my perspective, Russia has a critical, a critically important leadership role to play globally. President Putin has identified energy security, infectious disease and the fight against terrorism as top priorities for the G-8 under Russian leadership, and I certainly agree with these priorities.
In each of these areas, energy security, including nuclear security, infectious disease, whether naturally occurring or man-made, and terrorism, particularly catastrophic terrorism, Russia is and must be even more in the future a global leader, if we are to have a stable and secure world. Russia is well positioned to take this responsibility and lead the other G-8 nations in addressing these critical challenges.
Russia has also made an important decision to downsize its nuclear complex. It´s very important in this country, indeed, and around the globe to provide stable employment to top flight scientists who have spent years working on weapons programs, but can now turn their talents to peaceful pursuits.
For years now efforts have been made to build businesses in the closed nuclear city of Sarov so that scientists who lose their jobs, because of the defense downsizing, can find work in peaceful commercial projects. In the past these efforts have been severely hampered by the difficulty in accessing for the closed city for foreign countries. That has made it very difficult to build the investment that is needed to employ a number of scientists who have tremendous talents they are to provide to this country and the world. Sarov has wisely decided to build a new techno park just outside the fence and those of you who recently were at the lunch saw the exhibit that they have placed outside displaying what is about to happen. This techno park will be there so that companies can invest in and engage expertise at Sarov without facing access problems.
AFK Sistema, the largest telecommunications company in Russia, is helping to manage this effort and you will hear from their leader in a moment. Intel corporation which first started a software operation in Sarov in 1993 will move its operations, as I understand that from Sarov, to the new outside techno park and become the park´s first tenant employing more than, I believe, about 200 people.
The success in attracting businesses to this facility will depend not only on the availability of scientific expertise which is plentiful, but also on the infrastructure: the buildings, the water, the gas lines and the power. Now that´s why our board on Monday of this week here in Moscow approved a one million dollar grant to match an investment that is being made by AFK Sistema to help build an energy efficiency center in the park. So, we feel this is enormously important. This center will develop and design regional and local power plants to maximize energy efficiency, use environmentally clean fuels and also provide power to the buildings at the outside techno park.
We hope the techno park will become a model that can be replicated elsewhere. We at NTI are honored to be playing a role in this very promising venture.
I would now like to turn the microphone over to Vladimir Zhigalov, director of the outside techno park to discuss the techno park in more detail.
ZHIGALOV: I would like to speak about one project supported by NTI today. It is sometimes described as the open techno park, sometimes as the outside techno park, but we use the term "open techno park" more often now. Why "open"? The thing is that it is located close to the closed city of Sarov. Perhaps, some of you do not know, so I will say a few words about it.
It is the city where the Federal Nuclear Center is located. It employs 25,000. It was in charge of the realization of the nuclear project in Russia. At the moment, we have to employ our technologists, our specialists in civilian projects. This is one of our priorities. Perhaps you know that in 2002 the G-8 signed an agreement at Kananaskis on security issues, and conversion of nuclear facilities was one of the key four objectives, as well as providing employment for nuclear specialists.
The open techno park project in a free access area, where access is free for Russian and foreign companies, is intended for providing the ground for international cooperation, cooperation with foreign companies in several spheres. We have specialized and we will promote the development of IT, new energy, medicine and anti- terrorism.
At the moment, we have focused primarily on energy. You know that next year the G-8 summit will take place in St. Petersburg and it will focus on energy issues. Therefore, we will present, from our techno park, technologies to show our achievements in that sphere.
In fact, we are just at the very beginning, the initial stage. So, NTI´s assistance will be very important for us. This has been provided in collaboration, which we find very important, with a big Russian company making its substantial contribution. It is AFK Sistema, which is the leader in the country´s telecommunications sector and is also one of the world´s leaders in that sector.
The project which will focus on energy, on new power plants which would allow better preventing man-made catastrophes, makes our systems better protected against acts of terror. On the other hand, this will concern environmental aspects. In the project´s framework we plan proposing new environmental approaches, improving standards for power plants we have in the country.
The project´s implementation will take several years at the techno park. You know that President Putin in January gave the green light to the development of techno parks. He stated in Novosibirsk that he intended to provide strong support for that process. A law has been adopted on special economic zones. Tenders have been announced and we are taking part in them. We hope to become one of those pilot zones where high-tech economic development will be promoted. So, we are interested in seeing our techno park develop quickly and effectively.
We hope that other international projects, with account of our technological capabilities, may be launched and those interested in those projects would turn up. We are grateful to the NTI leadership, Senator Nunn, Mr. Ted Turner for having paid attention to this project. We hope that it will become yet another step in our successful collaboration with the Foundation. Before that, we used to work on another project, we have worked on it for several years.
It is the so-called revolving fund and all analysts have spoken well of that project. Thank you.
MIKHAILOV: Ladies and gentlemen, AFK Sistema President Vladimir Petrovich Yevtushenkov has instructed me to express gratitude here today to the NTI organization for the most important civilian mission they have performed in Russia, primarily with respect to the so-called scientific and technological centers or closed administrative centers that were formed in the previous decades.
You may ask a to why AFK Sistema has decided to work at Sarov.
By the way, not only Sarov, but also Dubna. The answer is simple: business is guided primarily by interest. AFK Sistema is certainly interested, from the point of view of business, in expanding its business and doing this primarily on the basis of knowledge.
It so happened that over decades closed research centers have accumulated a very high potential, a very high research and technological potential. In particular, at Sarov they have top class specialists in high energy, physics, information technologies, chemistry, materials studies. They are particularly the strategic technological spheres where business can work particularly successfully, if it is based on those technologies.
In the past years we have often heard all sorts of calls for innovative development. I have to say that for the time being, little has been accomplished in that sphere and we think that we should rely on the potential of knowledge and move ahead. This is the path that would let us to move from words about innovative development to real economic development along those lines.
I would like to thank, again, the NTI leadership. I am absolutely convinced that the Sarov techno park could serve as a model that would let us build up on the intentions that have been stated. We firmly intend to do this by realizing the potential of so- called private-state partnership. The thing is that AFK Sistema, whether there is NTI or not, whether there are other sources of financing or not, has invested substantial funds in the creation and development of the techno park for three years already. But if we work together, I think our success will be more impressive and we can attain the results faster. Thank you.
LELLOUCHE: Ladies and gentlemen, first let me tell you how honored I am to work with this team and I want to, if I may, pay homage to two visionary men. One is my colleague Sam Nunn, who in the US Congress, in the US Senate originated, he was the first to really understand potential risks of the post-Cold War in terms of proliferation and terrorism. And he is also very famous for Nunn-Lugar legislation, program which is still going on today. And I also want to pay homage to my friend Ted Turner, who is quite a unique person, whose sense of leadership and optimism and vision, not only in the realm of information and free television, but also his helping this venture to do actually good things.
Now this is a very special organization. It´s not only a think tank. It´s more than that. We actually did remove dangerous materials from the research reactor in Serbia. We are going to Kazakhstan to do a similar operation in a couple of days. And here in Russia you just heard some of the examples of the action of NTI.
I want to stress two things. First, as President of NATO Parliament which, as you may know, groups 26 parliaments of the member countries plus 15 other associated members, including the Duma, I have used the synergies between the NATO PA and NTI to show directly to all of our members of parliament, 400 of them - Sam Nunn came last May to our last plenary meeting and we played a simulation of a terrorist nuclear attack in Brussels. And believe me, everyone of these parliamentarians got a lot from that day. And I want again to thank the public education job that he has done here by NTI.
I also want to stress one point to you. I am a member of parliament from Paris, responsible for the center of my capital city. Ever since 9/11, ever since the attack on New York, then Madrid, then London, I keep awake at night with the danger of attack against our cities, particularly on my city. The greatest danger today in the world is the acquisition by a terrorist group of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. They are working on it.
They have said so. And what we are trying to do here, in this group, is to have governments move in the right direction.
And I am glad after a few days in Moscow to see that some of the key ideas that we are working on with my colleagues, supported by Mr. ElBaradei, the excellent Director of IAEA, these ideas are making progress. We are making progress on de-alerting the nuclear forces of the great powers. It is inconceivable that 15 years after the Cold War, the end of the Cold War, our nuclear forces are still on the trigger alert. And we should work on that and reduce the level of alert, because clearly we are not going to go to war with each other unless it is an accident.
Second, we should go after the dangerous fissile materials which is present in more than 40 countries and in more than 500 research reactors.
Third, we are making progress but we want to push along the idea of an international fuel bank which would be available to the countries that want to enter civilian nuclear energy without developing dangerous enrichment and reprocessing technologies. And one of the things that we want to do is make sure this bank is formed with military uranium from enriched uranium converted into civilian fuel. Already Russia has shown the example converting 250 tons of weapons material into civilian fuel. America is working along the same line. Plutonium is on the same direction, I may say, with French MOX technology, and I am very proud of French technology used to turn megatons into megawatts.
So, I think this organization is doing a good job. I am very grateful to our Russian members for the welcome in Moscow, Ambassador Lukin and my colleague Andrei Kokoshin. We are looking forward for Russian leadership in the G-8 on this particular field next year.
And again thank you for the welcome and the friendship. With our Russian friends, I think, we are moving in the right direction. But don´t forget that this is a race against time and people out there who are ready to hurt us. So, let us be efficient and fast. Thank you very much.
MOHAMED ELBARADEI, DIRECTOR GENERAL, IAEA: I am privileged to be invited today to address the Board of Directors of NTI. NTI is a civil society organization who understood that the risk we are facing is everybody´s risk. It´s not a government prerogative. We all have to put our heads together, we all have to ship as much money and resources as we can to fight the dangers we are facing, dangers that have no border, that have no color, have no religion. We are all facing the same danger. We are all going to succeed together or fail together.
I think Pierre Lellouche and Sam Nunn just mentioned some of the projects that NTI is cooperating in with IAEA in implementing.
This is a model of cooperation between intergovernmental organizations and civil society. We are trying as fast as we can to reduce the nuclear risk, the possibility of an extremist group, terrorist group acquiring nuclear material, nuclear weapon devices, radiological sources.
So, we are scratching our heads, all together. We are putting all our heads together to see how best we can protect humanity against this exceedingly sophisticated danger we are facing after 9/11. One of the interesting and challenging projects we are now having is how to make sure that countries have access to peaceful nuclear technology without having access to the risk associated with acquiring the technology and converting it into nuclear weapons. The project we are trying to work together on is to develop a regime by which we can provide assurance of supply to all countries, subject to non-proliferation criteria, to be able to have reactor technology, fuel technology and in return, accept not develop their own independent fuel cycle. I think this is a durable proposition. I think this will be a leap of faith in protecting ourselves.
NTI has already committed itself to provide a substantial sum of money to build a fuel bank that we can use as a last resort supplier in case a country is facing difficulty acquiring the nuclear reactor technology or the nuclear fuel. We have been working together on converting research reactor which are using highly enriched uranium which can be used into weapon into low-enriched uranium. We have been working together in providing physical protection to nuclear facilities and nuclear materials where we see a vulnerability. We still have a lot of work to do. But I´d like to take this opportunity again to salute the NTI, its leadership and commit ourselves together to continue to work to protect humanity, to protect our generation and our children.
NUNN: Okay, we are open for questions. We also have our board members here, Gene Habiger, hold up your hand, Gene, ambassador Owada, Fujia Yang from China, Charley Curtis, Susan Eisenhower. If anyone wants to ask, we are all open to questions. We want to do as much as we can to not get off - we´d like to talk about the subjects that have been raised here. So, I am going to referee a little bit not to let the questions to go all over the world. We are not going to cover the whole world today. Okay.
Q: NBC news. I´ll direct my questions to Mr. ElBaradei. Two points. One, Mr. ElBaradei, do you dread to sleep at night? And I would like to ask a question on Iran because you are here. And Iran is related to Russia in this sense. - [inaudible] - can Iran be trusted now and do you think that Iran has a nuclear weapons program?
ELBARADEI: Well, on the first question, I think I can say that nuclear security has improved dramatically in Russia. It is not a perfect situation yet, that´s why all these people are here. We still have a lot of work to do, but we are moving in the right direction. There are a lot of other issues which would not make me sleep, but Russia right now, frankly, is not one of them.
On the question of Iran, as I´ve said before, I said today, we are making good progress in understanding the nature of the Iran program, the clandestine program that has run in the past. We are now able to understand the extent and nature of that program. There are still a number of outstanding issues that we have not resolved.
And before we resolve these issues, we cannot say that Iran nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes. Still, the jury is still out, the faster Iran cooperates with us, the faster Iran cooperates with the international community to build confidence, the earlier we will be able to reach a conclusion on the nature of Iran's program.
Q: Mr. ElBaradei, a couple of days ago there was a statement from Washington proposing a ban on nuclear technology supplies to Iran.
Is this issue going to be discussed with the Russian side during this visit? And are there any other issues you are going to discuss with Moscow?
ELBARADEI: Clearly, Moscow is a valuable member of the International Atomic Energy Agency. We have lots of issues to discuss - nuclear safety globally, nuclear security as we talk about here, the expansion of nuclear power and, of course, Iran, North Korea, all the issues on our agenda. I will not and I do not discuss with them the issue of export control because that´s not really within the agency jurisdiction. That´s the supplier group guidelines which we do not manage, so, it´s really for Russia and the members of the nuclear supplier group to discuss their nuclear export-import policy.
Q: RIA Novosti. Do the IAEA and its partners take any measures in Iran to avoid the negative consequences that we have seen in Iraq where the situation ended up in a war?
NUNN: If you want an answer, you´d better ask someone else who is around, not director ElBaradei. You have to ask another question. He has already made it clear he is not going to get out.
Q: I am talking about the consequences which you could see in Iraq which ended up in war and North Korea which has joined the nuclear club.
NUNN: Who is the question directed to?
Q: Mr. ElBaradei.
ELBARADEI: I´d rather that the focus of the press conference be on nuclear security. That´s why we are here, so, I will decline any question that´s not really focused on nuclear security.
However, answering your question briefly, obviously we all are interested in finding a peaceful settlement to the Iranian issue. I think everybody is talking about resuming negotiations between Europe and Iran, this is something obviously I would very much encourage all the parties to come back to the negotiating table. At the end of the day there are so many intricate difficult issues that underlie the nuclear file of Iran - the question of security, trade, economic relations, sanctions, human rights - like North Korea, these issues can only be resolved through negotiation, and I think all the parties understand that and I hope that the hiccup we have seen recently of the negotiations breaking down, that we will be able to bring back the parties to negotiation.
I hope that Iran will continue to cooperate with the agency. I recently got assurances from the new leadership in Iran that they will continue to work with us to resolve outstanding issues and, as I said, the earlier we see these issues resolved, the better for Iran, the better for the international community.
Q: My question is directed primarily to Mr. Nunn. Will the issues of financing Russian nuclear security be discussed during this visit? What facilities are in need of stronger security at present? And this probably has to do with nuclear arsenals. Russia files requests for certain facilities where security needs to be tightened. Could you say where the financial resources will be concentrated and what kind of aid is on the agenda now? Will America aid Russia as before?
NUNN: First of all, it´s good to be here in Russia and to see that the economy is improving each and every year. Certainly in the last several years it has improved. Also, the Russian government is putting much more money, of Russian money, into its high priority areas of nuclear safety, including not only nuclear, but also chemical destruction, also submarine dismantlement. So, there is a global partnership under the G-8 and our organization has been big promoter of that global partnership. We have 20 policy institutes around the world that are outside government that are encouraging government to fully meet the pledges of the G-8 which were made in Canada three years ago at Kananaskis, those pledges including all G-8 nations plus other nations that have joined the global coalition in helping here in Russia to get nuclear materials secured completely. And that job is about half done. Also, Russia and the United States - Minister Rumyantsev and his counterpart Energy Secretaries in the United States have embarked on what they call the Global Threat Reduction Initiative, which is the US and Russia gaining highly enriched uranium back from research reactors and helping those countries convert those research reactors to low enriched uranium or making sure for certain that the high enriched uranium which is bomb-grade material is absolutely safe and secure. So, that is a joint leadership effort by the United States and Russia, but it takes a lot of other help around the globe and the G-8 pledges which were made three years ago was to match the Nunn-Lugar program each year by the other members of the G-8 to the tune of about a billion dollars a year. So, that would in effect take a program which was going to be a ten-billion-dollar program over ten years and double the size of it to 20 billion dollars. Those pledges have not met the words and the commitment, they are up to about 17 billion depending on how you count the value of the dollar. So, there is a way to go, but we need to have a much larger fund than that. And countries around the globe have a huge role to play. For instance, Japan is playing her role in terms of dismantling submarines working with Russia on the dismantlement of submarines.
Norway is playing a role on the dismantlement of submarines.
France is playing a role in chemical destruction, as well as other non-proliferation efforts, working with Russia.
Italy is playing a role. There are a lot of countries that are now helping. So, I am encouraged. We have made a lot of progress mainly because the Russian government itself has been committed to this task and the United States and Russia have partnered.
I might add that when you look at all that Russia has gone through in the last 15 years - tremendous economic dislocation, tremendous drop in the gross national product, a lot of turmoil, a lot of problems in the military and so forth - I think it is a tribute to the professionals in the nuclear energy complex as well as the professionals in the military as well as the patriotism of the Russian people that we have not seen any kind of nuclear catastrophe. I think that´s a tribute to the people here that are with us and their counterparts throughout Russia. That´p;s the main safety of Russia and that´s the main safety of these materials - it´s the people right here.
Q: Russian television. Vesti. I have a question for Mr. Lukin and probably to Senator Nunn. Do you think that the issue of the extradition of the former Russian Atomic Energy Minister, Adamov, to the United States diminish nuclear threat in the event of some kind of "freedom-for-information" deal? It´s both for you and for Mr.../p>
LUKIN: I don´t know why the question about nuclear secrets has been directed to me because I am probably one of the people most ignorant of this delicate issue. So, I can only say proudly, I don´t know exactly what secrets Mr. Adamov knows. But my feeling is that very few specialists, and not ministers, know nuclear secrets, and that is good. That´s all I can say.
NUNN: On that subject, I know nothing about the facts of the case. I am not in government, I do not speak for government. I do make about two or three points. One is that the importance of this mission demands that the funding, every dollar or every ruble or every frank put into nuclear security go for that purpose and not be diverted. So, that´s number one.
Number two. As I understand this matter, it is a criminal matter, it is not an intelligence matter.
That ought to be made absolutely clear. This ought to be a criminal process.
Number three. Mr. Adamov, like any citizen, when he comes, if he does go to the United States, if he is extradited, in my view, the US government should make absolutely certain that the Russian government, the Russian embassy, Russian attorneys if they want to be present are able to have total access to him. It´s very important this be handled in the criminal justice system and not spill over into an intelligence matter.
Q: I have a question for Senator Nunn. Thanks to the Nunn-Lugar program, of course, huge amounts have been done to increase Russian nuclear security and yet reports on NTI´s website say that perhaps half this material in Russia hasn´t been secured. Maybe two weeks ago The Wall Street Journal ran an article about a warehouse that´s supposed to be housing highly enriched uranium and plutonium is sitting empty for lots of bureaucratic reasons. So, my question is, why aren´t some of these big projects getting done? I think that suspicions between Russia and the US are an impediment.
NUNN: Let me say first that a huge amount of progress has been made. When you mention the missing 50 percent in terms of the whole security, that doesn´t mean there is no security. It means that those materials have not been secured to the standards that we and the Russians would like to have. That doesn´t mean there is no security and no one should conclude that. But I think it´s very important that we make sure that we go forward with partnership. It is a road with a lot of ups and downs. We have people in our laboratories still working together on nuclear safety when we had a disagreement over Bosnia. We´ve had a number of disagreements over the last few years, but these programs continued because both countries recognized they were imperative for our own security.
This is not a foreign aid program for the United States to Russia. And Nunn-Lugar is a program that is as much in our security as any dollar we spend in the defense budget. So, it is not only in our own security interests to assist Russia, but it´s in Russia´s security interests to assist other countries around the globe. I think we are in the period of shift in the Nunn-Lugar program. I think it´s going to shift much more to Russian leadership, to Russian global leadership and I think we are already seeing that.
Russia sponsored a very meaningful resolution at the United Nations on nuclear terrorism, Russia has been cooperating and even taking the lead on getting some of the research reactor highly enriched uranium back here. Russia has taken a lead on blending it down, Russia is also talking about the spent fuel part of director ElBaradei´s three part process of getting a fuel supplier, back-up fuel supplier for the IAEA, having a moratorium on enrichment and a moratorium on any kind of reprocessing. And the third part is handling spent fuel and there are discussions going on on that.
So, are there problems? Are there suspicions? Absolutely. There are still suspicions, but we have suspicions with some of our best friends. And that´s part of the nature. But we´ve shifted fundamentally, we fundamentally shifted the relationship between the United States and Russia and I agree with the statement made earlier, it is absolutely unthinkable that we would have any kind of nuclear war unless it´s by accident. On that point, I think it´s very important as Pierre said and as Ted Turner said this morning, that we realize the Cold War is over, that we take the nuclear forces off of the Cold War posture, as General Habiger calls it, and I call it, "hair trigger", whatever you call it, it´s absolutely absurd that the two leaders of our nations have only a few minutes to make a decision if they got a warning from their people of an attack. Only a few minutes, it´s about the number of minutes there was during the Cold War. That is insane, it make no sense. So, at the very least our military commanders are to be told by President Putin and by President Bush, get together and give us more warning time. If it´s 30 minutes now, give us an hour, and if it´s an hour, give us two hours. We´ll then get it to a week and get it to a month and pretty soon we´ll do what we should have been doing for the last decade, and that is, making nuclear weapons less relevant.
If we do not, it´s going to be very hard to stand up in front of the world and basically say, you, as director ElBaradei said, you quit smoking when you are chain-smoking yourself. So, the US and Russia have to lead in this area. There are suspicions, yes. But are we working together? Better than ever before. I think so. The liability issue hopefully is on the way to being resolved. The access issue in my view is important, but it´s going to be solved in the long run by reciprocity. We got to be partners in this and where we demand inspections in Russia and transparency, we are to also grant access in transparency in the United States. So, that´s the road, I hope, we will take.