“What's really strikes me about ACA is the potential to shape the next generation of leaders on arms control and nuclear policy. This is something I witnessed firsthand as someone who was introduced to the field through ACA.”
– Alicia Sanders-Zakre
June 2, 2022
Bush Signs 2003 Defense Authorization Act

Rose Gordon

On December 2, President George W. Bush signed the fiscal year 2003 Defense Authorization Act, which grants him temporary authority to waive congressionally mandated requirements on Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) programs and requires the Pentagon to share more information on missile defense programs with Congress.

The act released funds for CTR efforts—aimed at dismantling and securing weapons of mass destruction in the former Soviet Union—that had been held up by a 1993 law requiring the president to certify that Russia is complying with certain arms control agreements before allowing the release of CTR funds. Bush had refused to certify Russian compliance and instead asked Congress for authorization to waive the certification requirement. For the next three years, the president may choose to waive the certification requirement for most CTR programs, except chemical demilitarization programs, which are subject to additional certification requirements. Congress allocated more than $400 million for CTR programs in fiscal year 2003. (See ACT, December 2002.)

The authorization act requires the Pentagon to report annually to Congress on the progress of any missile defense system that might be deployed soon or that is of special interest to Congress. Additionally, the Joint Requirements Oversight Council, which advises the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, must conduct a one-time review on the cost, schedule, and performance criteria of each program. (See ACT, December 2002.) In the fiscal year 2003 Defense Appropriations Act, which Bush signed October 23, Congress approved $7.4 billion for missile defense programs—$400 million less than the president requested.

In an effort to increase readiness for resuming nuclear testing, the authorization act requires that the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), in conjunction with the secretary of energy, submit plans for achieving nuclear test readiness in 6, 12, 18, and 24 months. The United States has followed a voluntary moratorium on nuclear testing since 1992, and the Department of Energy is currently required to be able to resume testing in 24-36 months.

Congress also approved research on a nuclear weapon that could strike hardened, underground targets, such as biological weapons facilities. Funds for the research, however, cannot be released until the secretaries of defense and energy report on the need and potential uses for such a weapon, known as a “robust nuclear earth penetrator.” (See ACT, December 2002.)