"I find hope in the work of long-established groups such as the Arms Control Association...[and] I find hope in younger anti-nuclear activists and the movement around the world to formally ban the bomb."

– Vincent Intondi
Author, "African Americans Against the Bomb: Nuclear Weapons, Colonialism, and the Black Freedom Movement"
July 1, 2020
Bipartisan National Security Officials Call on Congress to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism
Share this

For Immediate Release: April 2, 2019

Media Contacts: Jack Brosnan, Program Manager, Partnership for a Secure America, 202-293-8580; Kingston Reif, Director for Disarmament and Threat Reduction Policy. Arms Control Association, 202-463-8270 ext. 104; Tony Fleming, Director for Communications and Operations, Arms Control Association, 202-463-8270 ext. 110

(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—Today Partnership for a Secure America and the Arms Control Association released a bipartisan statement calling for Congress to focus greater attention on one of the most pressing national security issues of our time: prevention of nuclear terrorism

Statement signatories include former officials such as: Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta; Secretary of State George Shultz; Senators Richard Lugar, Slade Gorton, and Nancy Kassebaum Baker; New Jersey Governor and Chair of the 9/11 Commission Thomas Kean; and House Foreign Affairs Committee and Intelligence Committee Chairman and Vice Chair of the 9/11 Commission Lee Hamilton. These national security and foreign policy leaders joined two-dozen other high-level officials calling for US leadership in securing nuclear and radiological material worldwide.

A full list of signatories is included at the bottom of this release.

Today 22 countries hold 900 tons of weapons-usable nuclear materials. A single terrorist attack using just a few pounds in a homemade explosive could cause mass casualties and untold global financial chaos.

“In the U.S. there has been an erosion of congressional expertise and experience, and successive administrations have proposed shrinking budgets for core nuclear material security and nonproliferation programs,” the statement notes. “Historically, Congress has been the source of bipartisan innovation and support to advance global nuclear security. It must happen again.”

Congress needs to take immediate action to step up efforts to secure worldwide nuclear and radiological materials globally to prevent any possibility of a nuclear terrorist attack. We recommend five simple legislative proposals to promote congressional leadership on nuclear security:

“The Office of Management and Budget should be required to prepare an annual report summarizing the aggregate U.S. budget for nuclear security and non-proliferation programs; a blue ribbon, bipartisan congressional commission should be established to develop a comprehensive strategy to prevent, counter, and respond to nuclear and radiological terrorism; a program of activities should be designed to prevent nuclear theft and trafficking in North Korea; periodic hearings should be held with government and non-governmental nuclear security experts; a sustained effort should be pursued to promote a mandatory international system of monitoring, reporting, and accountability in all countries with nuclear and radiological materials and the facilities that house them.”

The bipartisan statement released today draws from a report published last July by Partnership for a Secure America and the Arms Control Association titled Empowering Congress on Nuclear Security: Blueprints for a New Generation. The report assesses current congressional staff attitudes about nuclear security and explores the role of Congress and case studies in congressional leadership on this issue. The report also offers action items for lawmakers in enhancing nuclear security efforts and reducing global stockpiles of nuclear materials.

This statement was written in collaboration with Partnership for a Secure America, with funding provided by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

This statement was signed by:

Howard Berman, 
Congressman (D-CA) 1983-2013;

ADM Dennis Blair, 
Director of National Intelligence 2009-10;

Tony Blinken,
Deputy Secretary of State 2015-17;

John Brennan,
Director of the CIA 2013-17;

Michael Chertoff, 
Secretary of Homeland Security 2005-09; 

Jack Danforth,
Senator (R-MO) 1976-95;

Michèle Flournoy, 
Under Secretary of Defense for Policy 2009-12;

Slade Gorton, 
Senator (R-WA) 1981-87, 1989-2001;

Chuck Hagel,
Secretary of Defense 2013-15;

Lee Hamilton, 
Congressman (D-IN) 1965-99;

Gary Hart, 
Senator (D-CO) 1975-87;

Rita Hauser, 
Chair, International Peace Institute 1993-2012;

Carla Hills, 
US Trade Representative 1989-93;

Nancy Kassebaum Baker, 
Senator (R-KS) 1978-97;

Thomas Kean,
Governor (R-NJ) 1982-90;

Joe Lieberman,
Senator (D-CT) 1989-2013;

ADM Sam Locklear,
Commander PACOM 2012-15;

Dick Lugar, 
Senator (R-IN) 1977-2013; 

VADM Mike McConnell, 
Director of National Intelligence 2007-09;

Don McHenry
Ambassador to UN 1979-81;

Mike Morell,
Deputy Director of the CIA 2010-13;

Janet Napolitano, 
Secretary of Homeland Security 2009-13;

John Negroponte, 
Director of National Intelligence 2005-07; 

Leon Panetta,
Secretary of Defense 2011-13;

Tom Pickering, 
Undersecretary of State 1997-2000;

Jay Rockefeller, 
Senator (D-WV) 1985-2015; 

Mike Rogers, 
Congressman (R-MI) 2001-15;

George Shultz,
Secretary of State 1982-89;

Anne-Marie Slaughter, 
Director of Policy Planning, US State Department 2009-11;

Frances Townsend, 
Homeland Security Advisor 2004-08;

Kenneth Wainstein
Homeland Security Advisor 2008-09;

Frank Wisner, 
Undersecretary of State 1992-93.

Resource Library: