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Interview with Igor Khripunov, November 11, 2016

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:59 - Growing up in Russia / Becoming an interpreter

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Partial Transcript: I'd like to begin by asking you to tell us something about your..

Segment Synopsis: Khripunov explains that his father's involvement as head of the Soviet Diplomatic missions in South Africa was what inspired his interest in international work. Khripunov relates a story about how his father received a lion cub from South African officials, as a celebration of one of Stalin's military achievements during World War II. Khripunov states that Stalin chose to accept the gift with the circumstances that young Khripunov had to take care of it for a month. Khripunov talks about his time in University, and shares that he initially went to school with the intent to become a professional translator and received employment through the United Nations as an interpreter of English and French. Khripunov talks about his experience living in New York City with his family in 1969 as an interpreter.

Keywords: 20th Congress of the Soviet Union; Joseph Stalin; Nikita Khrushchev; Russia; South Africa; Soviet Union; U.S.S.R.; United Nations (UN); University of Georgia Centers for International Trade and Security (CITS)

00:06:47 - Experiences as a translator

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Partial Transcript: You've seen a lot...

Segment Synopsis: Khripunov talks about his time working as a translator in the Soviet Union, and relates a particular mis-translation he made while working for the United Nations. Khripunov recalls his experiences working with important Russian officials, including Andrei Gromyko, a Soviet politician during the Cold War.

Keywords: Andrei Gromyko; Dean Rusk; Mikhail Gorbachev; Moscow, Russia; Prime Minister Morarji Desai; Rhodesia; USSR; United Nations (UN); University of Georgia (UGA)

00:13:57 - Working with Mikhail Gorbachev

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Partial Transcript: I think it was December '84...

Segment Synopsis: Khripunov talks about some of his interactions with Mikhail Gorbachev, an important Soviet Union politician. Khripunov explains that he got to witness some of the initial meetings between U.S President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, the meetings which eventually resulted with the Geneva Summit. Khripunov recalls that Gorbachev was a unique Russian leader in the sense that he was creative, and often improvised innovative solutions to the problems that the Soviet Union faced.

Keywords: 1985 Geneva Summit; Mikhail Gorbachev; Minister of Foreign Affairs; Ronald Reagan; Soviet Union; USSR; William Taubman; foreign relations; international relations

00:20:14 - Disarmament of the Soviet Union

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Partial Transcript: Igor, I know you, and you mentioned the issue of...

Segment Synopsis: Khrupinov explains how he came to develop an interest in disarmament policy in regards to the Soviet Union. Khrupinov recalls his experience working with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, during which he eventually came to work as first secretary of the US desk in the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Khripunov explains that he came to oversee the Soviet requirements made through the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty) in 1987. Khrupinov states that his role as an inspector was very involved, as he was required to scrutinize the types of weapons created by the Soviet Union.

Keywords: Disarmament; Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty; Minister of Foreign Affairs; Soviet Union

00:26:59 - Working at the University of Georgia

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Partial Transcript: In 1987, here in Athens, we created...

Segment Synopsis: Khrupinov talks about a debate held between him and a representative from the Department of State. Khrupinov recalls the high-level of communication that the United States had with the Soviet Union and opines that the recent lack of such communication may lead to another situation similar to the Cold War. The narrator talks about his experience meeting Khripunov during a debate held in Carolina. The narrator, Gary Bertsch, describes that the discussion eventually led him to offer Khripinov a job at the University of Georgia as an adjunct professor in the Center for International Trade and Security.

Keywords: Cold War; Davidson, North Carolina; Ministry of Foreign Affairs; UGA Center for International Trade and Security; UGA's Center for East-West Trade Policy; University of Georgia (UGA)

00:33:25 - The end of the Cold War / Fall of the Soviet Union

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Partial Transcript: I was quite happy to be a diplomat...

Segment Synopsis: Khripunov explains that he transferred to the University of Georgia as he saw it as an opportunity to teach about nuclear security and research. Khripunov adds that with the falling of the Soviet Union, he was not sure of his future as a diplomat. The narrator, Gary Bertsch, talks about how Khripunov assisted with the increasing the communications between the United States and Russia nearing the end of the Cold War. Khripunov talks about the disintegration of the Soviet Union, which he states led to concerns regarding the regulation of the nuclear weapons formerly possessed by the Soviet Union.

Keywords: Center for International Trade and Security; Richard Russell; Sam Nunn; University of Georgia (UGA)

00:40:01 - Managing former Soviet weapons

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Partial Transcript: So I participated in a very top-level negotiation...

Segment Synopsis: Khripunov talks about how the insecure train lines used to transport the weapons that were previously owned by the Soviet Union led to increased protection through the use of heat protectant Kevlar Blankets. Khripunov recalls that chemical weapons also needed to be destroyed, as their deterioration proved a threat to public health. Khrupinov talks about the process of developing information security systems in the newly independent countries that were under the Soviet Union. The narrator, Gary Bertsch, describes the role that Khrupinov had in ensuring that the nuclear facilities previously owned by the Soviet Union were securely stored in the newly independent states.

Keywords: Export Control; Kevlar blanket; Russia; USSR

00:46:58 - Graduate students and nuclear security

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Partial Transcript: They developed a methodology to evaluate...

Segment Synopsis: Khripunov talks about the role played by University of Georgia graduate students in the development of security in the handling of hazardous weapons owned by the newly independent states of the former Soviet Union. Khripunov recalls how many of the graduate students who assisted in the implementation of the newly security in the states came to have impressive careers in other sectors of government. Khripunov describes how he eventually became invested in international security after the economic default of Russia in 1998.

Keywords: Anatoly Antonov; Department of Commerce; International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); Russia; University of Georgia (UGA); export control systems; graduate students

00:51:44 - Increasing nuclear security in Russia

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Partial Transcript: I got a call from the Department of Energy...

Segment Synopsis: Khripunov explains that, after the Russian economic default of 1998, Russia currently declines many of the security devices offered by the United States in the effort to secure Russian nuclear facilities and weapons. Khripunov explains that, as result, he assisted in the development of a Nuclear Security Report which highlighted the deficiencies in Russia's security of nuclear arms. Khripunov explains that this eventually inspired a meeting between President George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin, and also gave him a spot in the International Atomic Energy Agency as a lead expert in nuclear security.

Keywords: Department of Energy; International Atomic Energy Agency; Nuclear Security Culture: The Case of Russia; President George W. Bush; President Vladimir Putin; foreign relations

00:57:19 - The rising of world powers

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Partial Transcript: So, as of now, I understand that we have...

Segment Synopsis: The narrator explains his belief that the research carried out on nuclear security has led to increased nuclear security through political actions. Khripunov opines that the current rising of multiple world powers has led to conflict as the world struggles to cooperate in the changing power structures. Khripunov explains that the relationship between the United States academic community and government officials proves to strengthen the knowledge of government officials, a factor which he considers essential in the transition of the world from a unilateral power system to a world with multiple power centers. Khripunov talks about his belief that the declining U.S-Russian relations, is not an beneficial way to remediate challenges faced by both nations.

Keywords: United Nations (UN); University of Georgia; disarmament; export control; foreign relations

01:05:50 - Concluding thoughts / Future work

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Partial Transcript: I'm out of, you know the...

Segment Synopsis: Khripunov shares his wish for conversations among world leaders in the effort to promote cooperation among world powers. Khrupinov relates the regret he feels at the University of Georgia's failure to create permanent foreign relationships. Khrupinov explains that the University of Georgia neglected to provide the appropriate funding to the Center on International Trade and Security due to UGA's suppliers not seeing the reason in expanding the program. Khrupinov shares his plans to continue his research as an independent contractor.

Keywords: CITS; President Donald Trump; President Emmanuel Macron; UGA Center for International Trade and Security; University of Georgia (UGA); foreign relations