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Transforming The Swords Of Russia Into Ploughshares 
Swords Into Plowshares: Annual Report
By Rabbi Shimon Silman, Director of the Rabbi Yisroel Aryeh Leib Research Institute on Moshiach & the Sciences, Professor of Mathematics, Touro College

Seven years ago this week (the week of Parshas Mishpatim, 5752), a well known conference took place in New York City at the United Nations between the leaders of the major nations of the world — President Bush, Yeltsin, and leaders of other major military powers. In this meeting a joint resolution was made to begin the reduction of armaments and to use the resources and technology to further the development of economic conditions in the world, to increase food production, and to benefit mankind in general.

This meeting and this resolution probably escaped the attention of most of us, or perhaps it was simply passed off as political rhetoric. But the Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach, who sees deeper into things, talked about it the next day at the farbrengen of Shabbos Parshas Mishpatim, 5752. The Rebbe, Melech HaMoshiach said that this announcement by the leaders of the nations of the world — that they intend to reduce their military operations and increase food production in the world — is the beginning of the fulfillment of the prophecy of Yishayahu HaNavi, the Prophet Isaiah, thousands of years earlier, that in the times of Moshiach the nations of the world will “beat their swords into plowshares.”

The Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach continued that this was the direct effect of Melech HaMoshiach on the nations of the world, and the Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach discussed at length the steps leading up to this. That is, the spreading of the wellsprings, the spreading of Chassidus and Yiddishkeit throughout the world, and especially the spreading of Sheva Mitzvos B’nei Noach among the non Jews, eventually lead to the collapse of the atheistic government in Russia and ultimately to the global resolution to “beat swords into plowshares.”

Of course, this resolution and proclamation was not just a single isolated event, but the beginning of a process that will continue at an accelerated pace until the prophecy is completely fulfilled with the true and complete Redemption. Over the past seven years there have been thousands of examples of the transformation of military technologies into peaceful applications.

At the annual Moshiach & Science conferences of the Rabbi Yisroel Aryeh Leib Research Institute on Moshiach and the Sciences we frequently report on what’s new in “Swords Into Plowshares.”  Our first report on this matter was in 5753, by the man in the United States in the best position to talk about it, the man at the forefront of research into military technology, namely, the well-known Lubavitcher Chassid, Dr. Naftali Berg, z’l, Director of Research of the Advance Technology Office of the Army Research Center at the Pentagon. Dr. Berg spoke about how military technology at the Pentagon is being transformed to be used for peaceful purposes. [The full text and tapes of his lecture are available from the RYAL Institute, 718-604-4700,]

One example Dr. Berg cited is Dual Use Technology, a new program initiated by the current administration of the United States government to include research for the sake of peaceful ends along with every instance of military research.

This brings us to the main theme of this paper, the transformation of military technology to be used for peaceful purposes in Russia, the most militant of all the nations in recent history.

The development in the area of turning “swords into plowshares” that has been recently taking place in Russia goes beyond anything that is happening in the United States. The background for this achievement is as follows:

A few days after the Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach announced that the prophecy of Yishayahu that “they shall beat their swords into plowshares” has begun to be fulfilled, President Yeltsin and President Bush sat down together at Camp David and made a plan to establish the International Science and Technology Center in Moscow, a center for the development of scientific projects for former military scientists in Russia to work on transforming the Russian military science and technology such that it may be used for peaceful ends.

Over the next two years this goal became a reality. By 1994 there was a functioning institute of science and technology in Moscow funded by the United States, Russia, Japan, and the European Union. These countries invested hundreds of millions of dollars into the project. The first executive director of the institute was an American named Glenn Schweitzer, who wrote a book called “Moscow DMZ: The Story of the International Effort to Convert the Russian Weapon Science to Peaceful Purposes,” documenting the institute’s accomplishments during its first years.

The first point I want to make about the International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) is that whereas with respect to the United States, Dual Use Technology was considered a very good development, for the ISTC in Russia, Dual Use Technology was not good enough. While the Pentagon may be required to pursue a dual use policy rather than a pure military policy, it, nevertheless, maintains its interest in advancing military technology. Thus Dual Use Technology may be the best we can hope for in America until we see the complete Redemption when there is no more war and no more swords, no more military and no more weapons.

Of course, United States, Europe, and Japan would not be interested in pumping millions of dollars into Russia to finance scientific projects which could be used for military purposes as well as peaceful purposes. They would be interested only if the projects had strictly peaceful applications with no possibility of their being used for any military purposes. These were the only kind of projects that the ISTC considered.

I would like to give some examples of the projects — and the scientists involved — that the ISTC sponsored. The author Moscow DMZ estimates that when the Russian Military machine was fully functioning, there were approximately one million scientists, engineers, and technicians working for the Russian military. It was estimated that after the fall of the Communist government, about 60,000 of these had to be targeted for international science and technology projects. These were the ones who were most volatile and dangerous. They were scientists and engineers who if approached (as many of them were) by Arab or far eastern countries to work in those countries to promote their nuclear technology programs, they would be the ones most useful to those countries. In other words if a low level technician took such a job he could not cause much harm, but if a high level technician or scientist took such a job, his participation would be very beneficial to their projects and thus a threat to world peace.

Contributing to the threat was a financial element. At the time, Russian scientists and engineers desperately needed employment; once their military contracts were cancelled a lot of them had no source of income. In fact, it was found that many top Russian scientists were earning a lower salary than bus drivers, making them easy prey for Arab countries to entice them to join their nuclear projects.

Of the 60,000 scientists it was estimated that 30,000 were in aeronomical science, 20,000 in nuclear science, and 10,000 in biological science. A third of them — about 20,000 — remained employed by the Russian military. Another 15,000 got jobs in the commercial sector. The remaining 25,000 were the ones that the ISTC took on.

Nuclear scientists who specialized in the design of nuclear weapons were put to work at designing safer nuclear reactors. In disregard for nuclear safety, Russia is notorious for having poorly designed reactors. The accident at Chernobyl, which was the most dramatic of all the nuclear accidents, was not the only one. There were many, many incidents of radiation leaks. Parts of Russia are contaminated by radiation. Nuclear waste was not dealt with in any safe way. A lot of times it was just dumped into rivers. Many ISTC projects involved putting these nuclear scientists to work designing safer, better, and more efficient nuclear reactors, and to clean up those areas of Russia that had been contaminated.

Chemical and biological specialists, i.e. specialists that were trained in biological and chemical warfare, were given projects to work on pollution. While in the United States pollution is already pretty much under control, in Russia it has always been disregarded. They never concerned themselves with it. Now the chemical and biological specialists are working on chemical and biological pollution problems.

Aerospace specialists have been working on projects ranging from designing special environmental observation aircraft to projects involving researching nuclear propulsion technology for the exploration of Mars.


In addition to the International Science and Technology Center, there is an American organization called the Defense Enterprise Fund, financed by the Pentagon, which is dedicated to helping Russia transform its military industry into peaceful purposes. One of its projects is to help construct a $200 million factory to produce silicon for computer chips in Krasnoyarsk-26, a Russian “nuclear city” whose scientists have been unemployed since the shutdown of most of the nuclear facilities there. (New York Times, 11/18/98)

The magazine Science reported on one particular biological weapons installation called Vector in the Russian city of Novo Sibirsk which was transformed into a pharmaceutical research organization now called the State Research Center of Biology and Biotechnology. Whereas before they had the top Russian biological scientists working on devising biological weapons to kill people, now they are doing research on viruses, collaborating with the United States Center for Disease Control, contracting internationally to produce pharmaceutical drugs and the like. The same scientists and the same technology which was once used to produce biological weapons is now being used to produce drugs and to research cures for diseases.

From the small sample of “Swords Into Plowshares” phenomena that we have considered, we see that the Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach’s declaration that the prophecy of “Swords Into Plowshares” has already begun, along with all the other aspects of the Redemption, is the reality of the world. As a professor of Physics from China recently noted at the beginning of his article on the transformation of military technology to peaceful uses in China, “The transformation of military technology to peaceful uses is now the state of the history of the world.” The same applies to all other aspects of the Redemption as well. We need only to open our eyes to see the reality as it is.


A worker gazing at the dismantled control boards of one of the deactivated reactors at Krasnoyarok-26 


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