G8 disarmament initiative G8GP successfully completed


The attacks on the World Trade Center on 11 September 2001 led the major powers to do more for the security of nuclear facilities with regard to terrorist attacks. Against this background, the G8 member states set up the "Global Partnership" (GP) programme (Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction) in 2002. The aim was to secure and dispose of the relics of the Cold War within the scope of G8GP by the year 2012, spending a total of US$20bn.


A total of 23 countries took part in the initiative. Germany pledged a financial contribution to the amount of UC$1.5bn. The money was to be used to destroy chemical weapons, to dispose of old nuclear submarines of the Russian Navy, and to secure nuclear installations against external intervention. At the end of 2012, the G8GP programme will have reached its end after ten years.


Tasks of GRS in G8GP: physical protection
For securing installations against external intervention alone, the German Federal Foreign Office provided a sum of €170m. The responsibility for the management of the project was transferred by the Foreign Office to GRS. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, GRS had already started in the 1990s to share experiences and became involved in the so-called "physical protection" of nuclear installations. "Physical protection" means all technical and administrative measures to secure radioactive materials against theft or misuse. 


The task of GRS in G8GP was above all to check the adequacy of the modernisation measures and investments, and to manage the projects. Many different steps had to be run through: for the modernisation it was necessary to assess in advance the potential risk on site, develop an action plan, inspect the progress of the work, train the accompany the staff and raise their awareness of the subject of security.


Securing the Mayak nuclear industrial complex
Mayak was the first Soviet site where fissile material for nuclear weapons was produced. Today, radio-isotopes for medical use are produced at Mayak. The complex consists of two reactors, a reprocessing plant, and several repositories.


The Foreign Office task GRS for the G8GP programme with preparing and implementing a comprehensive security concept for the installation. At a budget of €22m, the facilities were modernised. For example, a fence with checkpoints and CCTV - a so-called perimeter – was installed around the complex.


Securing the Tomsk nuclear installation (Siberian Chemical Combine)
Another plant that was to be secured was the Siberian Chemical Combine at Tomsk. Here, during the Cold War, the Soviet Union also produced weapons-grade plutonium. Today, uranium is enriched for nuclear fuel and radiation sources for medicine and industry are produced at the Siberian Combine. Between 2003 and 2012, GRS worked on several projects in which individual facilities and areas of the conglomerate were equipped with updated security technology to protect against theft of radioactive materials, for which a total budget of €29m was available.


Security flaws fixed in research institutes
Another task of GRS was to secure nuclear research institutes in the former Soviet Union against nuclear terrorism and access. Here, GRS provided specialist support and monitoring of corresponding projects at the Kurchatov Institute, the Bochvar Research Institute in Moscow, and at the Russian Federation State Research Center in Dimitrovgrad. All three institutes had been were known for their security weaknesses. On the basis of the former situation there, GRS derived measures to counter these deficiencies. Again, a fence was erected, video equipment to monitor the site was installed, and checkpoints for pedestrian access as well as vehicle and rail access points were built.


The Foreign Office funded this work with €16m. An additional €7.6 m from the European Commission was used for the construction of a storage facility for nuclear material at the Bochvar Institute. This project was also supervised by GRS. With the work carried out within the framework of the G8GP programme, it was possible to eliminate the serious safety deficiencies at the three institutes.


Expansion of the programme to the Ukraine and Belarus, outlook
In the past few years, the G8 member states decided to expand the G8GP programme to countries outside Russia. Germany subsequently initiated one project in the Ukraine and one project in Belarus. In this context, the facilities for the physical protection of the transport and storage complex for radioactive sources in Kiev in the Ukraine were modernized, and in Belarus, the security measures of the storage building for fuel elements at the "Joint Institute for Power and Nuclear Research - Sosny" in Minsk are upgraded to the required international standard.


Following the reorganisation of the G8 initiative at the last G8 Summit in Camp David in 2012, Germany intends to participate in future projects for the security of radioactive sources and physical protection in problem countries as well as in emerging countries. The first project will start in Libya next year.