U.S. Official: Russia, U.S. Working on Nuclear Security Partnership

MOSCOW -- The top U.S. nuclear safety official said Saturday that the United States and Russia were on track to become partners in providing nuclear security but that Moscow's continued resistance to providing access even to the perimeter of the most sensitive sites was holding up progress.

Linton Brooks, chief of the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration, said that U.S. officials needed to provide some proof to U.S. Congress that U.S.-financed security upgrade work was actually being performed in order to keep up funding.

From the U.S. perspective, the access being requested is "very minimal, (but) I think from the Russian perspective it's unprecedented and so we're working these things out," Brooks told The Associated Press.

Under the Cooperative Threat Reduction program, now nearly 14 years old, the United States has poured approximately US$7 billion (euro5.81 billion) into helping former Soviet republics destroy and safeguard weapons of mass destruction, according to the U.S.-based Arms Control Association.

Now Brooks says the focus is increasingly on moving "from assistance to partnership."

"One of the things we're trying to do is not just put a bunch of bars on windows and install a bunch of alarm systems but help Russia create a system that doesn't depend on the United States for insuring sustained security of weapons and materials," he said.

(c) 2005 Associated Press