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Los Alamos Director Sees US, Russia Cooperation on Nuclear Projects

March 19, 1992

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory said Wednesday he hoped nuclear scientists from the United States and Russia could begin collaborative projects relatively soon.

Siegfried Hecker, director of the nuclear laboratory, said conferences and workshops could be held jointly as early as four to six months from now.

Hecker said the breakup of the Soviet Union and the cooperation of officials at the former Soviet nuclear facilities will bring dramatic changes in nuclear weapons and programs and civilian nuclear work.

Hecker spoke to reporters after testifying in closed session to a nuclear facilities subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee.

Hecker and his counterpart from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, John Nuckolls, said they discussed their recent visits to the closed Russian towns of Arzamas-16 and Chelyabinsk-70, to visit their nuclear facilities.

Secretary of State James Baker last month visited Chelyabinsk-70, a once- hidden city behind the Ural Mountains that is the core of the Soviet nuclear arms program. He heard a plea for financial help from the leaders of Russia’s atomic energy program.

″What transpired was unthinkable even a year ago,″ Hecker said. ″After nearly a century of the utmost secrecy, the Russians lifted the veil around their two nuclear weapons design institutes and invited the directors of their U.S. counterparts to visit.″

Hecker and Nuckolls said they and their staffs discussed with the Russians how to prevent nuclear proliferation, ensure safety during dismantlement or storage of nuclear weapons, clean up the weapons complexes and move more into civilian-related research.

Hecker said the Russians expressed ″a sense of great urgency″ in collaboration. He said the Russians hope to avoid the loss of their nuclear scientists by keeping them involved in joint, civilian-related work.

But he said the Russians did not invite U.S. help in the dismantling of their nuclear weapons. ″They fully intend to do that themselves,″ he said.

He said the U.S. scientists were interested in learning from the Russians in several areas of their expertise, including explosive-driven high magnetic fields and fusion-related research. He said the Russians were especially interested in collaboration on environmental protection.

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