Celebrating the Success of Project Sapphire

November 21, 2014 Topic: HistorySecurityNuclear Weapons Region: United StatesKazakhstan

Celebrating the Success of Project Sapphire

"Twenty years ago this week, in a spectacular operation, the United States transported from Kazakhstan to Oak Ridge, Tennessee over 600 kilograms of at-risk, weapons-usable highly enriched uranium (HEU) for safekeeping." 

This lesson is worth remembering as Americans debate the future and funding of cooperative security programs, including Nunn-Lugar. It financed part of Sapphire and now has global impact across a full slate of WMD challenges. The lesson is also worth remembering as the United States weighs its international interests, including its exertions and pledges to the security of allies and partners.

William Courtney is an adjunct senior fellow at the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation, and former U.S. ambassador to Kazakhstan and Georgia.

Susan Koch is an independent consultant, and was Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Threat Reduction Policy during Project Sapphire.

Jeffrey Starr is Managing Partner of Neo Prime Solutions, a cyber security and risk advisory firm, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Eurasia and DoD Chairman of the Project Sapphire “Tiger Team.”

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