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NNSA Nonproliferation Budget Is Cut
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Daniel Horner

The Energy Department’s nuclear nonproliferation efforts would receive $2.1 billion under the Obama administration’s fiscal year 2014 budget request, a drop of $161 million from fiscal year 2012.

The largest proposed cut is in International Material Protection Cooperation, which would receive $370 million, a decline of $206 million from the fiscal year 2012 appropriation. Fissile Materials Disposition would fall by almost as much, $183 million, to $503 million (see). The Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI), which aims to secure nuclear and radiological material at civilian sites around the world and reduce the amounts of those materials, would receive $424 million in 2014, a cut of $79 million from 2012.

Because the fiscal year 2013 funding levels for nonproliferation programs were not firmly set, the detailed Energy Department documents use the fiscal year 2012 appropriation as the basis for comparison with the fiscal year 2014 request. The documents, which were released last month, provide estimates for the programs’ funding for 2013.

The nonproliferation programs are part of the Energy Department’s semiautonomous National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), which also is responsible for nuclear weapons production. Funding for NNSA activities in that area would rise to $7.9 billion in 2014, up $310 million from 2013 (see).

The contrast in the figures for the weapons and nonproliferation budgets would have been greater if the NNSA were not proposing to transfer two programs with a combined 2014 budget request of more than $250 million from the weapons side to nonproliferation. In its detailed budget justification document, the NNSA said that shifting Nuclear Counterterrorism and Incident Response ($181 million) and Counterterrorism and Counterproliferation ($75 million) would place “all NNSA funding for reducing global nuclear dangers in one appropriation.”

NNSA officials say many of the funding reductions are in programs that are being successfully completed and therefore phased out. In a conference call with reporters April 10, the day the budget was released, Andrew Bieniawski, NNSA assistant deputy administrator for global threat reduction, said the proposed reduction in GTRI funding “really reflects a success” and the administration’s “front-load[ing]” of the program in earlier years to meet the four-year goal that President Barack Obama set in 2009 for securing nuclear material around the world.

But at an April 24 hearing of the Senate Appropriations energy and water subcommittee, which she chairs, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) called the reductions in the nonproliferation budget request “unwarranted and drastic.”

The administration proposed boosting funding of another major nonproliferation effort, the Defense Department’s Cooperative Threat Reduction program, to $529 million, an increase of $20 million from 2012. The largest hike in that program was in Cooperative Biological Engagement, which supports construction of pathogen repositories and research into disease-related threats around the world. Its 2014 funding would be $306 million, while the 2012 appropriation was $230 million. Proliferation Prevention, whose activities include training and equipping border security staff in the Middle East, would receive $74 million, an increase from 2012 funding of $63 million but a sizable drop from the estimated 2013 funding level of $118 million.

The requested 2014 funding level for Global Nuclear Security, whose responsibilities include supporting work in Russia on nuclear weapons storage sites, is $87 million. That is a reduction from $151 million in 2012 but an increase from the estimated 2013 funding level of $72 million.

In the State Department, the administration 2014 request for Nonproliferation, Anti-Terrorism, Demining, and Related Programs (NADR) is $616 million, a drop of $95 million from 2012. In spite of the overall cut in NADR, the U.S. voluntary contribution to the International Atomic Energy Agency would rise from the $86 million appropriated in 2012 to $88 million under the 2014 request. The U.S. assessed contribution to the agency, a requested $110 million for fiscal year 2014, comes from a separate part of the State Department budget.

Under the 2014 request, the U.S. contribution to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization would be $32 million. The contribution was $40.5 million under the 2012 appropriation.

Posted: May 2, 2013