It is not the first time that the United States and Russia organize reciprocal visits of experts in relation to their nuclear arsenals. The purpose is to strengthen mutual trust and to exchange opinions about the methods to preserve these weapons. For example, Russian experts visited a base in Texas where US weapons are destroyed. They studied the place, consulted with specialists and made recommendations. It is not about Washington or Moscow controlling the other’s arsenal.
Nothing has ever been said about the presence of US soldiers in Russian bases. Putin is no less concerned than Bush for the security of nuclear facilities; he simply inherited a large amount of nuclear material in different places. Part of the atomic infrastructure was deteriorated. The United States gave financial and technical support to help in its preservation. Since 1991, the Nunn-Lugar plan provides several billion dollars. It is only assistance; Russia controls its own arsenal.
I was in charge of this project in the ministry and I know that in Russia people guarantee security. In our country, we trust more in electronic systems. We have provided this kind of equipment to Russia which was also strengthened in the economic field, so our program should be reduced in intensity. The guarantees in relation to the nuclear arsenal should be tangible. That was the nature of the petition to inspect Russian facilities made by Condoleezza Rice during her visit to Moscow in April. Experts should be able to control the bases so that Putin can tell the Russians that the Americans guarantee the security of their facilities and so that Bush may tell the same to the Americans about the Russians.

Vremya Novostyey (Russia)

« Гарантии по ядерным объектам должны быть осязаемы », by Graham Allison, Vremya Novostyey, May 6, 2005. Text adapted from an interview.