U.S. Seeks Threat Reduction Funding From Allies

The Bush administration is pressing key allies to increase substantially their financial contributions to efforts to secure and downsize Russia’s vulnerable weapons of mass destruction complex.
Under what Washington terms the “10 Plus 10 Over 10” plan, the administration is seeking a total of $10 billion over 10 years from the other leading industrialized nations that, together with the United States, comprise the Group of Seven (G-7). Over those 10 years, the United States would also contribute $10 billion, roughly its current funding level for threat reduction programs.

President George W. Bush mentioned the initiative during a May 23 press briefing with German Chancellor Gerhardt Schroeder, saying Russia would require extra funds to secure the warheads it removes from service under the new U.S.-Russian Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty. (See U.S., Russia Sign Treaty Cutting Deployed Nuclear Forces.)

The United States has long sought increased financial contributions for threat reduction programs from its allies. In particular, Washington has looked to the G-7 nations to provide the bulk of the funding for Russia’s effort to implement the 2000 U.S.-Russian plutonium disposition agreement, under which the two countries each agreed to dispose of 34 metric tons of weapons-origin plutonium.

So far, the United States’ G-7 partners have only pledged limited funds for the plutonium disposition initiative. The countries appear concerned about the size of the needed contribution and about the project’s political ramifications. For example, the German government has longstanding concerns about the proliferation threat posed by using plutonium for power generation, which is planned under the initiative. It is also wary of supporting nuclear power generation in another country while it is phasing out civil nuclear power at home.

Reports indicate that Washington is hoping for a joint statement on the proposal at the Group of Eight (G-7 plus Russia) summit planned for late June in the Kananaskis region of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. The plan has reportedly received a mixed reception, with some states expressing reluctance because of the size of the financial commitment involved and because of concerns over the threat reduction programs’ ability to absorb substantial funding increases.