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Panel Formed on WMD, Terrorism
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Brittany Griffith

Congressional leaders recently announced the formation of the Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism, appointing nine commissioners on May 16.

The commission is the result of legislation Congress passed last year to fully implement the recommendations of the independent commission that investigated the September 11 terrorist attacks. (See ACT, March 2007.) The commission will be responsible for assessing programs intended to secure all nuclear weapons-usable material, evaluating the roles and structure of relevant government departments and other actors, promoting coordination between the United States and international regimes, and analyzing the threat posed by black market networks and the effectiveness of the U.S. response.

Former Sens. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) and Jim Talent (R-Mo.) will serve as chairman and vice chairman of the committee. The other appointees are former Rep. Timothy Roemer (D-Ind.), who served on the original September 11 commission; Ambassador Wendy Sherman; Harvard expert Graham Allison; Richard Verma, a partner at the law firm Steptoe & Johnson; Henry Sokolski, executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center; former Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control Stephen Rademaker; and Robin Cleveland, a former congressional, White House, and World Bank aide.

The commission's formation comes as Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) announced they were forming and would co-chair a Nuclear Security Caucus on Capitol Hill. Fortenberry said the caucus was needed because "[i]t is becoming easier to access the technical information and materials necessary to do devastating harm. It is my hope that this new working group will add momentum to nuclear threat reduction."

Similar to the nine-member commission, the caucus seeks to engage bipartisan interest in identifying vulnerabilities in nuclear policy and taking immediate action to improve safeguards and secure fissile material to prevent its misuse. The new caucus is one of a number of working groups of lawmakers intended to curb the proliferation of nuclear weapons-related technology.

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Posted: June 10, 2008