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Our Own Worst Enemy?

Our Own Worst Enemy?: Institutional Interests and the Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Expertise

Sharon K. Weiner
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: MIT Press
Pages: 384
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  • Book Info
    Our Own Worst Enemy?
    Book Description:

    When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, many observers feared that terrorists and rogue states would obtain weapons of mass destruction (WMD) or knowledge about how to build them from the vast Soviet nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons complex. The United States launched a major effort to prevent former Soviet WMD experts, suddenly without salaries, from peddling their secrets. In Our Own Worst Enemy, Sharon Weiner chronicles the design, implementation, and evolution of four U.S. programs that were central to this nonproliferation policy and assesses their successes and failures. Weiner examines the parlous state of the former Soviet nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons complex, the contentious domestic political debate within the United States, and most critically, the institutional interests and dynamics of the Defense, State, and Energy departments, which were charged with preventing the spread of WMD expertise. She explains why--despite unprecedented cooperation between the former Cold War adversaries--U.S. nonproliferation programs did not succeed at redirecting or converting to civilian uses significant parts of the former Soviet weapons complex. She shows how each of the U.S. government bureaucracies responsible for managing vital nonproliferation policies let its own organizational interests trump U.S. national security needs. Our Own Worst Enemy? raises important and troubling questions for anyone interested in understanding and improving policymaking and implementation processes in the area of nonproliferation and in U.S. national security policy more generally.The hardcover edition does not include a dust jacket.

    eISBN: 978-0-262-29597-0
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. List of Acronyms
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  5. Chapter 1 Controlling the Proliferation of Nuclear Knowledge: An Introduction
    (pp. 1-20)

    In October of 1996, Vladimir Nechai committed suicide. His death was newsworthy, but not because of the means; suicide was not so unusual in Russia, largely due to the widespread financial deprivation in the years following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Nechai’s act was reported by the Western news media because of his position as director of one of the Soviet Union’s premier nuclear weapons research and design facilities. According to the note he left behind, Nechai took his own life partially out of shame. Much of the research at his institute had been suspended indefinitely for lack of...

  6. Chapter 2 The Proliferation Threat
    (pp. 21-68)

    The ability of U.S. policy to stop or mitigate the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) expertise depends, in no small part, on the fit between programmatic response and threat. Obviously, policy cannot succeed if it fails to understand the problem that prompted it, or if it focuses on symptoms while allowing root causes to persist. Equally important, however, is that even with perfect knowledge of a problem, policy will fail if it disregards resource constraints or political commitment. In other words, solutions to policy dilemmas depend upon understanding both the problem and the political context within which that...

  7. Chapter 3 The Domestic Political Context of Threat Reduction
    (pp. 69-108)

    U.S. fears about the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) expertise date from the waning days of the Soviet Union in 1990. It was at this time that the U.S. government first became concerned about the security of Soviet WMD materials, experts, and the weapons themselves, an agenda which is frequently lumped together under the moniker of Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR). To understand U.S. attempts to limit the proliferation of WMD expertise, it is necessary to understand the domestic U.S. political context in which CTR was negotiated and institutionalized. In this chapter, I provide that background.

    The chapter begins...

  8. Chapter 4 Early Conversion Efforts at the Defense Department
    (pp. 109-142)

    After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Defense Department funded three efforts aimed at addressing the proliferation of weapons knowledge. This chapter describes these conversion and redirection efforts, discusses the threats that came to be seen as their focus, and assesses their results, both in terms of their own goals and with respect to their impact on the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) expertise.

    Two of these programs date from the first years of Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR). One, the Defense Conversion program, matched up U.S. companies and former Soviet weapons producers for conversion projects, with the...

  9. Chapter 5 The Science Centers
    (pp. 143-194)

    In early 1992, U.S. Secretary of State James Baker announced plans to create a center in Moscow that would help former Soviet experts with skills relevant to weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and missiles redirect their skills to non-military work. In 1993, a second center was added in Kiev. Funded jointly by the United States and several other nations, the centers were to facilitate collaborative research by helping to match teams of former Soviet weapons experts with Western partners. The short term goals were to provide these weapons experts with some income and to begin the process of integrating them...

  10. Chapter 6 Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention
    (pp. 195-240)

    In the early 1990s, as the State Department struggled to get the necessary Russian and Ukrainian approval for the Science Centers, the U.S. nuclear weapons laboratories became involved in a parallel effort to create their own program to engage and eventually to reemploy former Soviet weapons of mass destruction (WMD) experts, especially those with nuclear knowledge. It is largely the work of Los Alamos, Livermore, and Sandia National Laboratories that led, in 1994, to the creation of the Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention program (IPP) in the Department of Energy (DOE). Almost a decade later, the name was changed to Global...

  11. Chapter 7 The Nuclear Cities Initiative
    (pp. 241-290)

    Despite the activities of the Science Centers and Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention (IPP), by the mid-1990s, there was growing concern about economic conditions in Russia’s ten “closed nuclear cities.”¹ Seeking a decidedly different approach, the United States launched the Nuclear Cities Initiative (NCI) in 1998. NCI focused on the cities at the heart of Russia’s nuclear weapons complex and aimed not just to create jobs for weapons experts, but also to improve job opportunities, economic conditions, and the social welfare of entire communities. The program also was supposed to help Russia reduce the physical size of its weapons complex and...

  12. Chapter 8 Conclusion: U.S. National Security, Institutional Interests, and the Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Expertise
    (pp. 291-312)

    Students of public policy are well aware of the importance of institutional interest. Yet it is often assumed that the gravity of national security and “high politics” causes organizational imperatives to fade away. The case studies in this book prove otherwise.

    Each case study examined a different program with its own unique approach for dealing with the threat of the proliferation of expertise from the former Soviet weapons of mass destruction (WMD) complex. And each case study also examined how this approach changed from the founding of each program through 2008. Despite the different programs, departments, and actors, the four...

  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 313-340)
  14. About the Author
    (pp. 341-342)
  15. Index
    (pp. 343-360)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 361-368)