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Nonproliferation Project In Trouble

January 21, 2008 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 86, Issue 3

The program run by the Department of Energy to assist nuclear weapons scientists in nations of the former Soviet Union is badly in need of reassessment, according to a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO-08-189). The Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention (IPP) is supposed to engage these nuclear scientists so they will not use their expertise to work for other nations or for terrorists. GAO found that DOE has seriously overstated the number of scientists receiving support from the program and the number of private-sector jobs it created. DOE has no exit strategy for the program even though Russian and Ukrainian officials and others have raised questions about the continuing need for IPP. GAO also found that the department has expanded the program to include scientists in Iraq and Libya and is using IPP to support the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership. DOE is carrying over large amounts of unspent funds from year to year because it is not able to spend what Congress allocates to the program due to long delays in getting approval to pay former Soviet weapons scientists and holdups in implementing IPP projects. Despite these findings, DOE told GAO that it disagrees about the need to reassess the program.


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