Redirection of Former Weapons Scientists

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, tens of thousands of weapons scientists in Russia, Ukraine and other Former Soviet States were left unemployed or underemployed. Many of them have highly specialised knowledge and skills to design and build weapons of mass destruction. The risk that some of them could be solicited by terrorist organisations or countries of proliferation concern is a serious threat to Canadian and international security. To reduce this proliferation risk, it is critical to redirect these scientists toward sustainable employment and peaceful scientific pursuits.

Canada’s Contribution

Under the Global Partnership Program (GPP), Canada has contributed over $60 million to the redirection of former weapons scientists. Projects are implemented through two science centres: the Moscow-based International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) and the Kyiv-based Science and Technology Center in Ukraine (STCU). The two centres are important instruments towards international redirection efforts. The centres coordinate and work with governments, international organizations, and private sector industries to provide former weapons scientists from Russia, Ukraine and the rest of the former Soviet Union with peaceful employment opportunities.

Through the Science Projects program, the centres solicit research proposals from former weapons scientists throughout the former Soviet Union for funding consideration by governments and non-governmental organizations. The centres encourage sustainable redirection by also providing competency-building programs such as commercialization support and training, and by facilitating networking opportunities with international scientific communities. Since 2002 Canada has funded over 175 research projects involving close to 2825 former weapons scientists.

Created at the 2002 G8 Summit in Kananaskis, Alberta, the Global Partnership against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction is a 10-year multilateral effort aimed at preventing terrorist groups or countries of proliferation concern from gaining access to nuclear and radiological weapons and materials, chemical weapons, biological weapons and WMD-related knowledge and skills. Its Canadian component, the Global Partnership Program, is a $ 1 billion commitment from Canada to G8 and other partners to help finance this global effort against the combined threat of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.

For further information visit

  • Read an article on Canada's role in improving biosecurity in Central Asia