This report results from a project conducted jointly by the German-American Academic Council and the Committee on International Security and Arms Control of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to procedures approved by the Academy’s Report Review Committee and the German-American Academic Council.
The German-American Academic Council operates as a non-profit German foundation under private law. Founded following a joint announcement by Chancellor Kohl and President Clinton in 1993, the foundation is dedicated to strengthening German-American cooperation in all fields of science and the humanities, particularly by bringing together and utilizing the experience, expertise, and commitment of its members. The Council provides a forum for transatlantic dialogue, conducts policy studies of mutual interest to decision makers in both countries, and encourages development of collaborative networks, especially of young scientists and scholars.
The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the U.S. federal government on scientific and technical matters.
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GERMAN-AMERICAN ACADEMIC COUNCIL
Office of the Chairman
Dr. Jack Halpern
July 7, 1995
The University of Chicago
Department of Chemistry 5735 S. Ellis Avenue Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A. Telephone: (312) 702-7095 FAX: (312) 702-8809
Re:US-German Cooperation in the Elimination of Weapons Plutonium
Cognizant of the importance and urgency of the issue of “Elimination of Weapons Plutonium”, the German-American Academic Council (GAAC) authorized the study leading to this report in December 1994. It was expeditiously organized and ably conducted under the scientific coordination of Professor Wolfgang Panofsky, Stanford University, representing the Committee on Internal Security and Arms Control (CISAC) of the National Academy of Sciences, and Professor Volker Soergel of the University of Heidelberg, representing the GAAC. The credentials of the group of collaborators that they assembled, and the authorities with whom they consulted, are listed in an appendix to the report.
Because of its wide-ranging interdisciplinary composition, not all members of the GAAC have the scientific background to make an independent evaluation of the substance of the report. However, the GAAC as a whole has carefully reviewed the entire setting of the problem that it addresses, the methodology that was followed, and the rationale it provides for its concluding recommendations. On this basis, it is the unanimous judgment of the members of the GAAC that the report deserves the serious, prompt attention of the appropriate German and American government authorities as well as of other national and international bodies involved in decisions about strategies designed to eliminate excess weapons plutonium. The Council accordingly approves the formal submission as well as wide public circulation of this report.
The GAAC has taken this decision on the presumption that technical analysis, as reflected in the report, enlarges and informs the options under review by the public and by public authorities of the respective countries. Should there be need for additional independent expert studies addressed to the timely disposal of excess weapons plutonium, the German-American Academic Council is prepared to provide further assistance, involving also scientists from other countries as appropriate.
NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES
2101 CONSTITUTION AVENUE, NW WASHINGTON. D. C. 20418
OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT
July 10, 1995
The end of the Cold War has brought unprecedented opportunities to improve international security, but has also created a new series of dangers. One of these is the physical legacy of the nuclear arms race between the United States and the former Soviet Union. What to do with the tons of fissile materials, particularly weapons-grade plutonium, that are becoming excess as the result of welcome reductions in the nuclear arsenals of these two nations has been the subject of extensive study by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) since 1992. At that time, General Brent Scowcroft, then National Security Advisor to President Bush, asked the NAS to undertake a study to develop recommendations for technical and policy options for the U.S. government. The Academy’s Committee on International Security and Arms Control (CISAC) accepted the task and produced a report, Management and Disposition of Excess Weapons Plutonium, in January 1994. A volume of supporting technical analysis on the reactor-related options for plutonium disposition is being released in July 1995.
We were pleased to respond to the request from the German-American Academic Council (GAAC) to participate in a study of the ways in which Germany might contribute, and in which Germany and the U.S. might cooperate, to addressing this urgent security issue. The NAS is one of four American organizations that are partners in the GAAC, and we have been active in its creation and development. An issue of this importance, in which science and technology can contribute directly to the formulation of sound policy, is precisely the sort of problem to which we believe the GAAC can and should contribute.
Wolfgang K.H. Panofsky, who chaired the CISAC plutonium study, agreed to serve as the American co-chair, with GAAC member Volker Soergel from the University of Heidelberg, of a special steering committee for this project. He and Professor Soergel assembled the other German and American members of the steering committee and participated actively in every phase of the project. Their leadership was invaluable in furthering the committee’s efforts.
The report of the committee, which rests on the technical analysis performed by CISAC and valuable additional insights gained at a workshop in Bonn in March, has been subject to the Academy’s independent review process. The report makes a series of recommendations identifying unique opportunities for German contributions, but also identifying the serious, largely political hurdles which must be overcome for these recommendations to be carried out. We commend it to the U.S. and German governments and hope that it will contribute to the development of policies to relieve the “clear and present danger” posed by this Cold War legacy, as well as demonstrate the benefits of international collaboration.
JOINT STEERING COMMITTEE
WOLFGANG K.H. PANOFSKY (Co-chair), Professor and Director Emeritus,
Stanford Linear Accelerator Center
VOLKER SOERGEL (Co-chair), Professor of Physics,
University of Heidelberg;
JOHN AHEARNE, Executive Director,
Sigma Xi, Research Triangle Park, N.C.;
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Max-Planck-Institute for Research on Materials, Stuttgart
WILLIAM F. BURNS, Major General (retired)
U.S. Army, Carlisle, Penn.;
U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency
RICHARD L. GARWIN, Fellow Emeritus,
Thomas J. Watson Center, IBM, Yorktown Heights, N.Y.
HANS-HENNING HENNIES, Member of the Board,
Nuclear Physics Research Institute, Karlsruhe
Institute of Chemical Technology, Jülich
HARALD MÜLLER, Director,
Peace and Conflict Research Institute, Frankfurt
In the wake of the Cold War, a heritage of physical consequences of the U.S.-Soviet arms race has accumulated, including widespread pollution and large stocks of hazardous materials. Dominant among the latter is the accumulation of weapons-grade plutonium (WPu), which will become excess as a result of the dismantlement of the nuclear weapons under the arms reduction agreements between the United States and the former Soviet Union.
While the burden of this heritage rightfully rests mainly upon the owners of the weapons to be dismantled—the United States and Russia —the entire Western world has an obligation to assist Russia in accelerating and safeguarding the management and disposition of this material, since it constitutes a threat to international security, including that of Germany.
For these reasons, in October 1993 Ambassador Dr. Josef Holik, Commissioner for Disarmament and Arms Control of the German Federal Government, Ministry for External Affairs, after discussion with Ambassador James Goodby, U.S. Negotiator for Safe and Secure Dismantlement of Nuclear Weapons, Department of State, approached the German-American Academic Council (GAAC) seeking expert advice to the German and U.S. governments on the possibilities for U.S.-German cooperation in the area of elimination of excess weapons plutonium, particularly from the former Soviet Union. He proposed that the GAAC should sponsor an exploratory study, which would also give recommendations for further work. With this initiative, Ambassador Holik expressed the view that, in its own security interests, Germany should be involved, and that this could best be achieved in cooperation with the United States.
The GAAC was founded in 1993, following a joint announcement by Chancellor Kohl and President Clinton, as a private foundation dedicated to strengthening German-American cooperation in all fields of science and the humanities. The Council provides a forum for transatlantic dialogue, conducts policy studies of mutual interest to decision makers in both countries, and encourages the development of collaborative networks, especially of young scientists and scholars.
In March 1994, the GAAC welcomed the proposal of Dr. Holik and agreed to sponsor such a study. It was joined in this task by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS), one of the seven sponsoring organizations of the GAAC, which had gained valuable experience on the subject from its previous study of the plutonium problem.1
As a next step, a joint U.S.-German Steering Committee (see membership list on p. v) was formed after consultation within and between the GAAC and the NAS. W.K.H. Panofsky, Stanford University, and V. Soergel, member of the GAAC, Heidelberg University, served as co-chairmen. All of the American members of the Steering Committee are also members of the NAS Committee on International Security and Arms Control (CISAC) or of CISAC’s Panel on Reactor-Related Options for the Disposition of Excess Weapons Plutonium. The co-chairmen met twice with Dr. Josef Rembser, Director, GAAC, and Dr. Jo Husbands, Director, CISAC, to prepare the work of the Steering Committee.
The Steering Committee met in Bonn on November 8–9, 1994, and decided that a German-American workshop should be held in the spring of 1995 with high-ranking U.S. and Ger
National Academy of Sciences, Committee on International Security and Arms Control, Management and Disposition of Excess Weapons Plutonium (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1994).
man experts from science, industry and government as participants, to provide technical and political input to the study. Moreover, the Steering Committee agreed that, given the extensive analysis already carried out by the NAS and also the short time available for its work, it should not try to conduct an independent study of the entire plutonium management and disposition problem, and instead should use the results of the National Academy’s plutonium study cited above as an input to its work and to the discussions at the workshop.
The Steering Group defined the following aims for the project, which served as its charge:
Discuss the WPu problem in an international context.
Identify areas for U.S.-German cooperation and areas where Germany could play a significant role complementing the ongoing U.S. efforts in the management and elimination of surplus WPu, particularly from the former Soviet Union.
Formulate recommendations to be submitted to the U.S. and German governments as a basis for decisions and actions.
A report, including the recommendations, would be issued and submitted to the two governments, after review and endorsement by the NAS and the GAAC.
The report and the recommendations are the responsibility of the Steering Committee. The Steering Committee gratefully acknowledges the important contributions from the participants of the workshop.
The Steering Group set up the program and the structure of the workshop and nominated the speakers for the subjects to be presented. It also made proposals for the workshop participants to the two chairmen, leaving the final selection to them.
The workshop was organized by Dr. Husbands and Dr. Rembser, who also participated in all sessions of the Steering Committee and the workshop, together with the staff of the NAS and the GAAC. Dr. Annette Schaper, Hessische Stiftung Friedens- und Konfliktforschung, participated in the workshop as scientific rapporteur.
The workshop was held in Bonn from March 22–25, 1995, in the conference facilities of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Besides the participants (see Appendix D), a number of invited guests followed the presentations and discussions.
Dr. Schaper collected all the workshop materials, including the discussions, and made a first draft of the report. A writing group (Husbands, Panofsky, Schaper, Soergel) met at Stanford University on May 22 –25, to produce a final draft version.
In identifying options for German-American collaboration in support of Russian weapons plutonium activities, the Steering Group has not identified the cost of the various options. Some specific cost figures are given for various steps for purpose of reference. The responsibility for the management and disposition of the weapons plutonium released from excess nuclear warheads in the former Soviet Union rests with Russia, the owner of these weapons, but in the present economic situation it is not expected to achieve this formidable task without major support and assistance from the Western powers. The general judgment is that the cost to be borne by them for this purpose will be in the range of several billion dollars, spread over the next ten years. How such costs shall be borne by the nations concerned is, of course, a matter of international negotiations. We point out here, however, that this total cost is an exceedingly small fraction of the sums the world is expected to spend in the name of international and national security during the same period.