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Lugar Seeks to Expand Threat Reduction's Reach

April 2002

By Philipp C. Bleek

Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) introduced legislation March 18 that would allow the Defense Department to pursue Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) projects outside the former Soviet Union.

Under the terms of the legislation, the secretary of defense would be authorized to use up to $50 million in unspent CTR funds for “proliferation threat reduction projects and activities outside the states of the former Soviet Union.” Before undertaking such efforts, the secretary would have to determine that they would either help to resolve a “critical emerging proliferation threat” or allow the United States to “take advantage of opportunities to achieve long-standing…nonproliferation goals.”

Lugar foreshadowed the legislation’s introduction in a March 4 address to the Council on Foreign Relations in which he suggested “globalizing the Nunn-Lugar program,” the informal term for the CTR projects, which aim to help secure and downsize the nuclear arsenal of the former Soviet Union.

In his address, Lugar cited India and Pakistan as potential “future partners in…threat reduction programs focused on improving the safety and security of weapons, materials, and delivery vehicles of mass destruction.” Lugar explained that “under the right conditions and with the requisite transparency, such programs would be a great service to U.S. national security interests.”

Lugar said the pending legislation was only a “first step” and said that “a satisfactory level of accountability, transparency, and safety can and must be established in every nation with a WMD [weapons of mass destruction] program.” Recognizing that many nations are unlikely to allow the United States access to their sensitive facilities, Lugar said that when countries “resist such accountability…then NATO nations should be prepared to apply all their collective diplomatic and economic power, as well as military force.”

Asked whether Lugar was calling for prompt action against such states, a member of the senator’s staff said March 26 that, although Lugar would like to implement the proposals immediately and fully, he is cognizant that “the United States with all of its allies fully engaged could not apply these standards to every country in the world where they would need to be applied now or in the near future.” Instead, the staff member indicated the senator was arguing that the United States needs to “set priorities” and to “begin to apply all of our powers to these situations.”