For Immediate Release: December 3, 2002
Contact: Daryl Kimball, (202) 463-8270 x107 or Peter Scoblic, (202) 463-8270 x108
(Washington, D.C.): Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN), the incoming chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, declares in an article published this month in Arms Control Today that "enormous opportunities" now exist to secure and destroy weapons of mass destruction that could be used to harm the United States. The senator identifies ten top disarmament priorities, ranging from eliminating Russia's chemical weapons to improving worldwide nuclear reactor safety.
In his article, "The Next Steps in U.S. Nonproliferation Policy," Senator Lugar argues that although much has been achieved in the past decade, more can and needs to be done. He urges his fellow lawmakers to show leadership and act resolutely if terrorists and rogue states are going to be denied the weapons and technology that could be wielded with devastating results against the United States and around the globe.
But Senator Lugar, who cosponsored the first legislation with Senator Sam Nunn (D-GA) in 1991 to help countries of the former Soviet Union guard and dismantle their lethal arsenals, warns that Congress is letting important weapons destruction opportunities slip away because of its unwillingness to devote the necessary attention and resources to such activities in a timely fashion. "The weapons and materials of mass destruction targeted by Nunn-Lugar are too dangerous to leave to the whims of congressional holds and roadblocks," Lugar writes.
The senator further states, "It is incomprehensible to me that, at a time in which our country is involved in a worldwide war against terrorism, Congress is refusing to permit the utilization of tested and proven concepts to address the threat posed by the nexus of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction."
The Defense Threat Reduction Agency reports that U.S. threat reductions programs in Russia, commonly known as Nunn-Lugar, have aided the deactivation of more than 6,000 nuclear warheads and the destruction of nearly 500 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), another 350 submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and almost 100 bombers. Russia has at least another 7,000 warheads left to deactivate and nearly 1,000 ICBMs, 600 SLBMs, and 100 bombers awaiting destruction. In addition, Russia possesses an estimated 40,000-metric-tons of chemical weapons requiring elimination.
Yet, Senator Lugar adds that reduction activities cannot be limited to Russia, but expanded to counter potential proliferation risks around the world. "It is critical that the United States lead in establishing a global coalition capable of exerting pressure on states to cooperate with the safeguarding, accounting, and (where possible) destruction of weapons and materials of mass destruction," he says.
Lugar's article and his top ten disarmament priorities can be accessed at http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2002_12/lugar_dec02.asp.
# # #
The Arms Control Association is an independent, nonprofit membership organization dedicated to promoting public understanding of and support for effective arms control policies. Established in 1971,the Association publishes the monthly journal, Arms Control Today.