The Department of Defense has outlined how it would like to spend the $415.5 million President George W. Bush requested from Congress earlier this year to help dismantle excess weapons and related infrastructure, particularly in Russia and the former Soviet Union. The Pentagon wants to steer more of the funds in Bush’s fiscal year 2006 requests to programs that enhance nuclear warhead security and dismantle strategic weapons delivery systems, while reducing funds allotted to chemical weapons destruction.
The total request for the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) program for fiscal year 2006, which begins Oct. 1, would represent a slight increase over current spending of $409.2 million. The Defense Department is one of three departments, along with the Departments of State and Energy, that conduct such threat reduction programs. All told, Bush has requested about $1 billion for the program. (See ACT, March 2005.)
According to a report submitted to Congress in late February, the Pentagon requests that the Russia-based Nuclear Weapons Storage Security program, charged with the safety and security of stored nuclear weapons, receive the largest funding increase in 2006—more than $25 million—bringing total spending under that program to $74.1 million. A related effort to ensure the security of nuclear warheads during transport would be given $30 million, an increase of $3.7 million over fiscal year 2005.
The proposed budget would also hike funds for the Strategic Offensive Arms Elimination program, which helps dismantle Russian strategic delivery vehicles such as ICBMs. The administration’s budget requests $78.9 million for these activities, up from the $58.5 million appropriated the previous year.
The Pentagon’s fiscal year 2006 budget request would augment programs to prevent biological weapons proliferation by more than $5 million in 2006, reaching $60.8 million. These efforts focus on eliminating biological weapons infrastructure and securing, removing, and consolidating dangerous pathogens, as well as redirecting bioweapons scientists into peaceful research. Although the program oversees ongoing projects in many states of the former Soviet Union, the lack of an implementing agreement between the United States and Russia has limited the scope of such activities in Russia.
Meanwhile, cuts were proposed for the Chemical Weapons Destruction program in Russia, from $158.4 million in 2005 to $108.5 million in 2006. The program’s primary undertaking is the construction of a chemical weapons destruction facility near the Russian town of Shchuch’ye, which will destroy nearly 11,000 metric tons of nerve agents currently stored in 4 million warheads. Prior year allocations to this endeavor have largely met the Pentagon’s estimated project cost of slightly more than $1 billion, allowing for lesser spending in fiscal years 2006 and 2007 before the facility begins initial operation in 2008.
No new money has been requested for the destruction of a chemical weapons stockpile in Albania, which has already been fully funded at $18.2 million and should be completed in November 2006. Congressional approval of this spending marked the first extension of the CTR program’s activities to countries outside Russia and the former Soviet Union (see ACT, December 2004), although legislation signed by Bush in late 2003 allows for up to $50 million to be spent outside the former Soviet bloc states.