Russia and the United States have replaced the 20-year-old Nunn-Lugar program to provide U.S. assistance to secure and dismantle Russia’s excess weapons of mass destruction with a more limited agreement.
As the 112th Congress enters its final days, one of its critical priorities should be approving implementing legislation for two treaties that help raise the barriers against nuclear terrorism.
Moscow said that it would not sign a U.S. draft agreement to extend the landmark Nunn-Lugar program to dismantle and protect former Soviet weapons of mass destruction. The United States hopes to extend the agreement, which expires next year.
The House of Representatives on June 28 passed legislation required to bring the United States into compliance with two international treaties that improve nuclear material security and enhance measures to prevent nuclear terrorism.
Thomas Countryman took office as assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation on September 27, 2011. He joined the U.S. Foreign Service in 1982. While serving in the U.S. mission to the United Nations in the mid-1990s, he was the mission’s liaison with the UN Special Commission investigating Iraq's unconventional weapons programs.
Russia and the United States could conclude verification arrangements by the end of the year for their agreement on disposition of surplus weapons plutonium, a U.S. official said last month.
"Redirecting" scientists who worked in programs to produce weapons of mass destruction is a key part of U.S. nonproliferation efforts. In spite of current budget constraints, the United States needs to improve its capacity in that area. The difficulties that such programs faced in Iraq provide valuable lessons for future work.
The Obama administration is asking Congress for significant funding increases in programs designed to secure nuclear material in Russia and detect radioactive material passing through the world's busiest ports, according to budget documents released in May. (Continue)
In the initial weeks of the Obama administration, former Vice President Dick Cheney stated that there was a "high probability" of a terrorist attempt to use a nuclear weapon or biological agent and that "whether they can pull it off depends on what kind of policies we put in place." President Barack Obama, in his April 5 Prague speech, said that terrorists "are determined to buy, build, or steal" a nuclear weapon and that the international community must work "without delay" to ensure that they never acquire one. Obama also outlined a number of policies for locking down vulnerable nuclear material and strengthening the nuclear nonproliferation regime. (Continue)