Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Official: Funds Didn't Go on Arms

A U.S. Energy Department official rejected congressional claims that U.S. aid money has helped finance development of new Russian weapons, saying Wednesday that it has supported scientists working on safe maintenance of Russia's nuclear arsenal.

A congressional General Accounting Office study, released Monday, said that some of the U.S. money intended to help fund civilian work for unemployed scientists in the former Soviet Union has gone to scientists currently working on Russian weapons programs.

But Rose Gottemoeller, head of the Energy Department's Office of Nonproliferation and National Security, argued that the congressional study had failed to distinguish between the development of new weapons - which she said got no U.S. funding - and work on ensuring safe storage of Russia's existing arsenal.

"And we support this because we want to make sure that Russian nuclear weapons remain safe and secure," she said at a news conference in Moscow.

Gottemoeller stressed repeatedly that her agency carefully screens Russian scientists for eligibility for U.S. funding, and promised to toughen the regulations further, in line with GAO recommendations.

Most of the U.S. money has been spent on purely civilian projects, like creating infrastructure and computer-programming companies in former nuclear weapons centers, she said.