Experts discussed how the emergence of new nuclear states was prevented after the collapse of the Soviet Union at the PIR Center seminar

30.12.2021

MOSCOW. DECEMBER 30, 2021. PIR PRESS. "We wish to point out that PIR Center has, throughout its existence and even before its inception, dealt with these rather disturbing issues. We have identified three sets of problems. First, the participation of former Soviet republics in the NPT as non-nuclear states. Second, the financial and technical features of the introduction of nuclear weapons into the territory of the Russian Federation. And third, ensuring physical protection, accounting, and control of nuclear warheads and nuclear materials on the territory of the Russian Federation. In this way, PIR Center tried to foster an expert and public discussion on the mentioned issues. All our materials of that time in digital form can be found on our site. We will not leave this topic only at this seminar, we will continue to get you acquainted with various historical figures in the field of nuclear nonproliferation, as well as to acquaint the Russian public with documents that can be introduced into the scientific and general circulation", — Vladimir Orlov, director and founder of PIR Center.

On December 23, 2021, the expert seminar on the topic “30 Years of Russian Nuclear Succession” was held by PIR Center under the “Nuclear Nonproliferation & Russia” program. Experts from the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and the United States, including direct participants in the events, took the floor during the seminar:

  • Vladimir Orlov, director and founder of PIR Center.
  • Pavel Palazhchenko, head of the International Department of The Gorbachev Foundation, chief English interpreter for Mikhail Gorbachev and Soviet foreign minister Eduard Shevardnadze (1985–1991).
  • Yuri Nazarkin, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary (retired), member of PIR Center Advisory Board, Professor and Honorary Doctor (honoris causa) at the Geneva School of Diplomacy and International Relations (Switzerland), head of the Russian delegation during the negotiations with Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine leading to their accession to the START-1 Treaty (1992).
  • Rose Gottemoeller, distinguished lecturer, Stanford University (USA), director for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia Affairs, US National Security Council (1993–1994).
  • Togzhan Kassenova, Senior Fellow, Project on International Security, Commerce, and Economic Statecraft, Center for Policy Research, Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy, University at Albany, State University of New York (USA), Nonresident Fellow, Nuclear Policy program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (Washington, DC), the author of Atomic Steppe: How Kazakhstan Gave Up the Bomb (forthcoming in 2022 with Stanford University Press).
  • Mariana Budjeryn, Research Associate with the Project on Managing the Atom (MTA) at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center (USA), the author of Inheriting the Bomb: Soviet Collapse and Nuclear Disarmament of Ukraine (forthcoming in 2022 with Johns Hopkins University Press).
  • Polina Sinovets, head of the Odessa Center for Nonproliferation (OdCNP) at the Odessa I.I. Mechnikov National University (ONU), Ukraine, the editor of Ukraine’s Nuclear History (forthcoming in 2022 with Springer), were among the participants. 

Alexey Obukhov, Deputy Soviet Foreign Minister (1990-1991) joined the seminar via the telephone. Artem Kvartalnov, Junior research fellow, Nuclear Nonproliferation & Russia Program, PIR Center, hosted the seminar. PIR Center’s friends, Albert Zulharneev and Viktor Slipchenko, together with PIR Center staff also took part in the meeting. The seminar was held online.

In a welcoming statement to the seminar participants, Vladimir Orlov, director and founder of PIR Center, highlighting some historical aspects, noted the importance of the discussed events - «for the first time the disintegration of the internationally recognized nuclear state took place». Vladimir Orlov also drew the attention of the audience to the publications of experts of PIR Center on the topic of the seminar, which appeared in the early and mid-1990s.

The head of the International Department of The Gorbachev Foundation Pavel Palazhchenko detailed his observations of the events of 1991 during the period of work in the Office of the President of the USSR, including in the context of the problem of «presidential nuclear initiatives».

Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary (retired), member of PIR Center Advisory Board, Professor and Honorary Doctor (honoris causa) at the Geneva School of Diplomacy and International Relations (Switzerland) Yuri Nazarkin shared his vision of the events surrounding Russia’s negotiations with the Republic of Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan on their accession to the START-1 Treaty, during which he headed the Russian delegation.

Rose Gottemoeller, distinguished lecturer, Stanford University (USA), director for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia Affairs, US National Security Council (1993–1994) also explained her impressions. In her speech, she expressed deep respect for all participants in those negotiations and noted that the United States had only assisted the newly independent States on the path to the nuclear succession of Russia and the denuclearization of Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine, but had not dictated the terms of the process.

Togzhan Kassenova, Senior Fellow, Project on International Security, Commerce, and Economic Statecraft, Center for Policy Research, Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy, University at Albany, State University of New York (USA), referred to the nuclear succession in the context of the internal political situation in Kazakhstan in 1992-1994, as well as the role of the country in negotiations on the nuclear inheritance of the USSR.

Research Associate with the Project on Managing the Atom (MTA) at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center (USA) Mariana Budjeryn highlighted in her statement the main aspects of Ukraine’s nuclear disarmament in the context of nuclear succession.

Polina Sinovets, head of the Odessa Center for Nonproliferation (OdCNP), also dedicated her report to Ukraine, focusing on the specifics of the domestic political situation in the country at that time and explaining the reasons for Ukraine’s renunciation of nuclear weapons.

The presentations by the panelists arouse great interest in the audience. During the Q&A session, participants discussed the actual and legal status of the Soviet nuclear arsenal in the first months after 25 December 1991, as well as the little-known details of the nuclear weapons removal processes.

The seminar’s recording will be available on the PIR Center's YouTube channel. It will also be published on the NONPROLIFERATION.WORLD online educational and training platform.

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