Your Ad Here

Friday, January 29, 2010

Cooperative Threat Reduction Program to Expand Mission

Recent legislation could help the U.S. Cooperative Threat Reduction program more easily exploit opportunities to eliminate WMD materials while increasing its work outside the former Soviet Union, U.S. Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) announced yesterday.

Language in the fiscal 2010 defense authorization law enables the Nunn-Lugar program to take financial support from foreign governments and other international entities In addition, the legislation permits the Defense Department to spend as much as one-tenth of the program's budget on unanticipated nonproliferation operations. 

U.S. Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) displays a chemical munition inside a briefcase during a 2000 visit to the chemical weapons depository at Shchuchye, Russia. The U.S. Cooperative Threat Reduction program funded a chemical weapons disposal plant at Shchuchye that began operations last year (U.S. Senator Richard Lugar photo).

“Malefactors in the world want to use weapons of mass destruction to terrorize American citizens, harm our soldiers deployed around the world and attack our partner countries. Proliferation of WMD remains the No. 1 national security threat facing the United States and the international community,” Lugar said in a statement.

“In 2009, the Nunn-Lugar program continued to make us safer by achieving meaningful progress in the destruction and dismantlement of massive Soviet weapons systems and the facilities that developed them. There is much more work to do in combating biological, nuclear, and chemical threats through Nunn-Lugar cooperative threat reduction and the global expansion of the Nunn-Lugar program,” he said in the release.

Last year, the CTR program deactivated 15 strategic nuclear warheads and destroyed 24 ICBMs, two ICBM silos, five mobile ICBM launchers, 18 submarine-launched ballistic missiles and one ballistic missile-capable submarine.

In addition, the program safeguarded 44 nuclear-weapon train shipments, boosted security at 24 nuclear weapons storage facilities and constructed three biological agent monitoring stations. The CTR-funded Shchuchye chemical weapons disposal plant in Russia also began operations; it is expected to eliminate almost 2 million munitions and a significant amount of nerve agent, according to the release.

The Nunn-Lugar initiative provided Azerbaijan with "comprehensive maritime surveillance capabilities" to help the nation's coast guard intercept WMD materials in waters off Iran and Russia, and established a sea and land border command to help Ukraine monitor for potential WMD smuggling in the Black Sea and its border with Transdniestria.

In a speech today, Lugar planned to express support for the Obama administration's nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament efforts while warning that arms control change can be very gradual.

"I understand the appeal of seeking a world free of nuclear weapons, and would not dismiss its value as a long-term goal. But until we address these regional dynamics, promotion of a world free of nuclear weapons is manifestly aspirational,” Lugar planned to state in his address.

Since being established in 1991 to secure and eliminate weapons of mass destruction in one-time Soviet states, the Nunn-Lugar program has deactivated 7,519 strategic nuclear warheads and destroyed 768 ICBMs, 498 ICBM silos, 148 mobile ICBM launchers, 651 submarine-launched ballistic missiles, 476 SLBM launchers, 32 ballistic missile-capable submarines, 155 strategic bombers, 906 nuclear air-to-surface missiles and 194 nuclear test tunnels.

The program has also safeguarded 469 nuclear-weapon train shipments, boosted security at 24 nuclear weapons storage facilities and constructed 19 biological agent monitoring stations. It helped to remove all nuclear weapons from Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus, nations that once respectively held the world's third-, fourth- and eighth-largest nuclear arsenals. (Source NTI Global Security)