Moscow DMZ: The Story of the International Effort to Convert Russian Weapons Science to Peaceful Purposes

By Glenn E. Schweitzer | Go to book overview

Chapter 6
Harnessing Hostile Technologies for Peaceful Purposes

The diffusion of military technologies into the civil sector was of a "semi-military" character. Dual-purpose technologies were then developed in the civil sector that could be used for military purposes.

Russian Ministry of Science and Technology Policy Report, September 1993


Avoiding Support of Weapons Development

"ISTC Project Number 29 is providing technology for improving Russian weapons." An American critic of ISTC programs greeted me with these disturbing words at a conference in Washington shortly after I had finished my assignment in Moscowy.

"Project Number 29 is not supporting the weapons program of Russia in any significant way," I replied in my standard rejoinder to such allegations about ISTC projects. I dutifully added, "The project is an appropriate activity to encourage Russian weapons scientists to apply their talents to basic research of broad international interest."

The critic had read only the title of the project, Hydrodynamical Aspects and Turbulent Mixing for Optimization of Laser Target Compression. He apparently had assumed that designers interested in laser weapons or fusion bombs would surely abscond with the results of the research intended to support their hidden activities. Had he examined the details of this project directed to the challenge of eventual development of new sources of fusion-driven energy, he would have quickly realized that the activities were far removed from any type of nearterm applications. Perhaps of more relevance to the dual-use argument, the project used nonfissile materials, whereas experiments with even distant relationships to weapons generally use fissile materials.

Conceivably, physicists in the weapons complex could be interested

-121-

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