In the final months of 2007, Congress approved and President George W. Bush signed fiscal year 2008 appropriations bills substantially increasing spending above the president’s original budget request for nonproliferation activities in the Departments of Defense, Energy, and State. Congress also approved a fiscal year 2008 defense authorization bill that seeks to expand Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) programs administered by the Defense Department to countries outside of the former Soviet Union. Bush vetoed that measure, citing unrelated provisions, and the CTR provisions are expected to remain intact in any final bill (see page 36).
Department of Defense
Congress appropriated $428 million for the CTR programs, an increase of $80 million over the administration request and reversing a trend of funding cuts for the program in the fiscal year 2007 budget.
The Strategic Offensive Arms Elimination Program, which supports activities to decommission silos and eliminate or de-fuel and store ICBMs, saw its budget increase to $93 million from the administration’s request of $78 million. Congress more than doubled funding for Nuclear Weapons Storage Security, from $22 million to $48 million, while money for nuclear weapons transportation remained at $38 million.
The Bush administration request contained no additional funding for chemical weapons destruction, but the defense spending bill provides $6 million. In the past, money in this section has been designated for the chemical weapons destruction facility under construction at Shchuch’ye in Russia, but the bill directs that $5 million of the total should be used for a chemical weapons incinerator in Libya, pending authorization by House and Senate appropriations committees.
The defense authorization bill, meanwhile, calls on the Defense Department to set a firm timetable for completing the facility at Shchuch’ye and to assess plans for its operation, including potential costs, oversight, and long-term sustainability. Independent estimates of the amount of money needed for completion approach $200 million, but the program has been slowed by problems with Russian contractors and cost overruns. (See ACT, May 2007.)
The Biological Threat Reduction program won an increase to $158 million from $144 million in the budget request. In a Feb. 5, 2007, press release, CTR’s co-founder, Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) called for $100 million more for the program to secure pathogens, build capacity for early-warning systems, establish monitoring stations at borders and other sensitive locations, and better contain possible biological attacks.
Congress appropriated $9 million more in funding above the administration’s request for the WMD Proliferation Prevention program, which also seeks to secure borders against material smuggling, for a fiscal year 2008 total of $47 million.
The defense authorization bill would make it easier to fund threat reduction programs in states outside the former Soviet Union. In particular, it would permit unlimited funding during an emergency to expand the program to other states and would authorize the National Academy of Sciences to undertake a study of how best to strengthen and expand CTR programs. It also calls for focusing new initiatives on states in Asia and the Middle East, singling out North Korea, which has pledged to end its nuclear weapons program.
The authorization measure would also eliminate provisions in current law that require the president to certify that Russia is complying with several arms control agreements. In 2005, Congress granted the president permanent authority to waive such certifications, and the current measure would remove the need for a waiver.
Department of Energy
Congress allocated significant increases for the Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation program of the Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). In particular, the fiscal year 2008 omnibus appropriations bill included a $125 million increase over the budget request for Nonproliferation and Verification Research and Development, boosting such spending to $390 million. This total includes a $60 million increase for research in proliferation detection capabilities to $207 million and an additional $20.5 million for nuclear explosion monitoring ($133 million total).
Under the Nonproliferation and International Security section of the bill, Congress allocated $151 million, $26.5 million more than the budget request, and $8 million more for Dismantlement and Transparency initiatives, which had requested $38 million. Global Security Engagement and Cooperation was allocated $10 million over the $41 million request, and there was an $8.5 million increase to strengthen International Regimes and Agreements, up from $36 million.
Within this section, Congress also included a $10 million earmark for NNSA nuclear disablement activities in North Korea, noting concern “about relying upon a mid-year reprogramming of resources from other critical nonproliferation programs to support what is currently a fluid and uncertain effort.”
Congress set aside $630 million for International Nuclear Materials Protection and Cooperation programs, an increase of $258 million. Of that total, $269 million is for the Second Line of Defense Program, which improves border security by providing money, equipment, and technical expertise to detect nuclear and radiological threats at borders throughout the former Soviet Union and eastern Europe, an increase of $150 million. Fifty million dollars of the latter increase is specifically intended for the Megaports program, which would improve security at major ports in these areas.
Funding for programs to eliminate weapons-grade plutonium remains static at $182 million, but the Global Threat Reduction Initiative was given an increase of $75 million to $195 million. This program aims to secure radiological and nuclear materials either by destroying them or placing them in secure locations and by converting reactors that run on highly enriched uranium, which can be used as fissile material in nuclear weapons, to the low-enriched uranium typically used in civilian reactors.
Finally, the bill also includes $50 million for an initiative that would establish an international nuclear fuel bank administered by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for nations that wish to rely on foreign sources of fuel. It calls on the secretary of energy to make a report on the progress of this initiative in 120 days.
Department of State
The State Department’s Nonproliferation, Anti-Terrorism, Demining and Related Programs also won $23 million in increased funds to $487 million as part of the omnibus bill. This was thanks largely to increases in nonproliferation spending totaling $13 million. Congress appropriated $4 million more than the administration requested for the Nonproliferation and Disarmament Fund, for a total of $34 million; $5 million more for Export Controls and Border Security, for a total of $46 million; and $4 million more for the Global Threat Reduction Program, for a total of $57 million.
Following the administration request for $18 million for the U.S. contribution to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) for the construction and operation of its International Monitoring System, House appropriators sought to cut funding to $10 million, while the Senate proposed an increase to $28 million.
The annual U.S. assessment is more than $20 million, and the United States has lagged in its payments for each of the past several years. Due to lobbying from Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) and Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.), the omnibus appropriations bill includes $24 million for the CTBTO. Meanwhile the U.S. contribution to the IAEA was increased by $1.5 million for a total of $51.5 million for fiscal year 2008.
The bill also mandates a Comprehensive Threat Reduction and Security Plan from the president as a result of a provision introduced by Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), Lugar, and Pete Domenici (R-N.M.). That report is due within 180 days in classified and unclassified forms. (See ACT, November 2007.)
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