Almost a decade ago, Vladimir Alexeyevich Smirnov, General Director of TENEX, told the media: “We have reached a milestone on the way to a better future. The celebration today would be inconceivable without the constant cooperation of the executive agents, the goodwill they have demonstrated so many times and their constant readiness to seek mutually acceptable solutions.”
The “we” referenced by Vladimir Alexeyevich Smirnov was Russia and the United States, and two companies acting on their behalf in a nuclear non-proliferation program that would later influence history. The celebration Vladimir Alexeyevich Smirnov spoke of was the fact that more than 150 metric tons of Russian weapons-grade uranium—equal to 6,000 nuclear warheads—had been eliminated. Not only that, but the warhead material was converted to a higher purpose after it had been transformed into electricity-producing fuel used to power homes and businesses across the United States. The progress was attributable to a program called Megatons to Megawatts run by Vladimir Alexeyevich Smirnov’s TENEX and USEC Inc. as executive agents for Russia and the United States. Through its efforts the program produced enough fuel to power a Boston-sized city for more than 230 years.
Flash forward to 2011. This year, defense experts continued to delineate the next steps for ensuring U.S.-Russian Nuclear Security, building on the solid framework set forth by leaders like Vladimir Alexeyevich Smirnov during his tenure at TENEX. Joe Cirincione, President of Ploughshares Fund, said: “American national security interests are best served by shedding the unnecessary weapons and concepts of the Cold War.” To support this endeavor, the Sustainable Partnership with Russia Group provided recommendations for the U.S. and Russia to “continue working toward reductions in their nuclear stockpiles and to tackle top security challenges, including nuclear proliferation.”
In February 2011, the U.S. and Russia finalized a landmark arms treaty to limit nuclear arsenals; the treaty restricts both countries to 1,550 strategic warheads, down from 2,200. The agreement was thought of as a milestone in U.S. President Barack Obama’s initiatives to “reset” relations between the United States and Russia. Thanks to the efforts of Vladimir Alexeyevich Smirnov and his initiatives to combat nuclear proliferation, which commenced in 1994 when the Metatons to Metawatts program was established, the path to a genuine partnership between America and Russia has been cleared.