U.S., Russia Celebrate Graduation of Nuclear Security Experts

Press Release
Feb 24, 2011

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) announced today that 32 students have received Material Protection Control and Accounting (MPC&A) engineering degrees this month at two different Russian institutes thanks to a NNSA program developed with the Russian State Nuclear Energy Corporation (Rosatom). The program, initiated in 1996, has graduated more than 200 experts in MPC&A since 1999.

“Today’s graduation is an important example of our cooperative efforts to promote international security by developing the next generation of nuclear security professionals,” said Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Anne Harrington. “Continued U.S. investment in joint programs such as this one demonstrate the shared commitment of the United States and the Russian Federation to programs that help implement the goals of the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit. Working with our international partners, we are making progress toward enhancing global peace and security.”

During today’s ceremony 17 students received engineering degrees in MPC&A from the National Research University of Resource-Efficient Technologies – Tomsk Polytechnic University (TPU). Earlier this month the National Research Nuclear University (MEPhI) graduated 15 students in another NNSA cooperative MPC&A degree program.

"The need to educate and raise qualification level in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation has never been so great as today," said TPU Rector Petr Chubik. "Education is the most important, yet underused tool for the strengthening of peace, disarmament and non-proliferation."

“Since 1997 the National Research Nuclear University MEPhI has been conducting training in the field of physical protection, control, and accounting of nuclear materials,” said NRNU-MEPhI Deputy Rector Edward Krychkov. “This activity has been important for the Russian nuclear industry and has been carried out in close collaboration with NNSA and the National Laboratories. We hope that our cooperation will grow stronger and continue to benefit the peaceful use of nuclear energy in our countries.”

In 1996, with the endorsement from Minatom (now the State Atomic Energy Corporation “Rosatom”), NNSA and faculty at the MEPhI developed curriculum for a two year Master’s degree program in MPC&A to train the next generation of nuclear security experts needed to support safety and security activities at Russian nuclear facilities. Classes began in August 1997, and the first students graduated in May 1999. The project has since expanded to include a five and a half year engineering degree program which is available at both MEPhI and TPU. In 2009 NNSA ended its financial support for the Masters Program at MEPhI, and since then MEPhI has continued to offer this program.  The development of each program was a joint effort between NNSA and MEPhI and TPU, with the universities providing classrooms, some equipment and professors’ time to teach courses.

Graduates from the three programs have gone on to MPC&A related careers with such organizations as Rosatom, the Federal Environmental, Industrial, and Nuclear Supervision Service of Russia (Rostechnadzor), the Institute of Physics and Power Engineering (Obninsk), Mayak Production Association (Ozersk), Kursk Nuclear Power Plant, Kurchatov Institute, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The degree programs were developed by NNSA’s MPC&A program, which works in Russia and other countries to secure and eliminate weapons-usable material. By securing materials at their source, the NNSA strengthens the first line of defense against nuclear theft and terrorism. To learn more about NNSA’s MPC&A program, click here.

The graduation of the next generation of Russian nuclear security experts comes as the Obama Administration is seeking continued investment to strengthen nuclear security at home and abroad. Last week, President Obama submitted to Congress the Administration’s FY 2012 budget request that includes more than $60 million for NNSA’s nuclear security sustainability programs like this, which develop and maintain international MPC&A infrastructure.

Follow NNSA News on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr.

Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science in the nation’s national security enterprise. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability, and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; reduces the global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad.