Twenty Years of Success: Celebrating the Anniversary of Nunn-Lugar
By Tim Cullen on 12/12/2011 @ 12:01 PM
Twenty years ago, Senators Sam Nunn (GA) and Dick Lugar (IN) recognized a grave threat to security of the world and the United States. The Soviet Union was falling apart, and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev asked for assistance in securing and dismantling some of his country’s tens of thousands of nuclear warheads. Senators Nunn and Lugar, aware of the danger of nuclear warheads and material being smuggled out of Russia and other former Soviet sates, drafted a bill to create the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program.
This program, commonly known as the Nunn-Lugar program, provides “U.S. funding and expertise to help the former Soviet Union safeguard and dismantle its enormous stockpiles of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, related materials, and delivery systems.” Over the course of its 20 years, Nunn-Lugar has been enormously successful. According to Lugar, over 7,600 nuclear warheads have been deactivated and nearly 800 intercontinental ballistic missiles have been destroyed. Three countries, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine, are now nuclear weapons free thanks to Nunn-Lugar.
Steps must be taken protect the world from the threat of vulnerable nuclear material and stray warheads. Although our ultimate goal is to see a world free of nuclear weapons, supporting nonproliferation programs is an important part of the nuclear disarmament program.
Funding for nuclear nonproliferation programs is an issue that comes up as part of the federal budget every year. This year, funding for Nunn-Lugar has remained safe. Instead, much of FCNL’s focus has been on maintaining funding for President Obama’s four-year plan to secure all vulnerable bomb-grade nuclear material around the world. We have worked with legislators, such as Rep. Loretta Sanchez (CA), and our constituents to push for adequate funding. Thus far, we have been successful. The Senate approved the required funding for the President’s programs earlier this year and we continue to work to support the passage of a final bill by Congress that maintains this level of funding.
Such programs, however, are not possible without the support and leadership of individuals like Senators Nunn (who is now retired) and Lugar. Sen. Lugar continues to be a strong advocate of nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament issues. He was a leader in the ratification of the New START treaty, last year, and has been pushing for the continuation and expansion of the Nunn-Lugar program. We celebrate the accomplishment of these two men on the 20th anniversary of their groundbreaking work.