The House of Representatives on June 28 passed legislation required to bring the United States into compliance with two international treaties that improve nuclear material security and enhance measures to prevent nuclear terrorism.
Thomas Countryman took office as assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation on September 27, 2011. He joined the U.S. Foreign Service in 1982. While serving in the U.S. mission to the United Nations in the mid-1990s, he was the mission’s liaison with the UN Special Commission investigating Iraq's unconventional weapons programs.
Russia and the United States could conclude verification arrangements by the end of the year for their agreement on disposition of surplus weapons plutonium, a U.S. official said last month.
"Redirecting" scientists who worked in programs to produce weapons of mass destruction is a key part of U.S. nonproliferation efforts. In spite of current budget constraints, the United States needs to improve its capacity in that area. The difficulties that such programs faced in Iraq provide valuable lessons for future work.
The Obama administration is asking Congress for significant funding increases in programs designed to secure nuclear material in Russia and detect radioactive material passing through the world's busiest ports, according to budget documents released in May. (Continue)
In the initial weeks of the Obama administration, former Vice President Dick Cheney stated that there was a "high probability" of a terrorist attempt to use a nuclear weapon or biological agent and that "whether they can pull it off depends on what kind of policies we put in place." President Barack Obama, in his April 5 Prague speech, said that terrorists "are determined to buy, build, or steal" a nuclear weapon and that the international community must work "without delay" to ensure that they never acquire one. Obama also outlined a number of policies for locking down vulnerable nuclear material and strengthening the nuclear nonproliferation regime. (Continue)
Russia’s conflict with Georgia in August caused a serious rift in U.S.-Russian relations but does not appear to have harmed the two countries’ cooperation on improving the security of nuclear materials and weapons in Russia, according to administration officials and members of Congress. Speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies Sept. 17, Thomas D’Agostino, administrator of the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), discussed the administration’s views on the effect of the recent conflict on nonproliferation programs in Russia. (Continue)
Early this week, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal published articles in which Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice extolled the Bush administration’s record in limiting global nuclear dangers. Those articles apparently stemmed from an extended response that Rice delivered to a reporter’s question at a Sept. 7 press conference in Rabat, Morocco. Rice asserted that the administration’s record on nonproliferation and counterproliferation was “very strong” and “left this situation…in far better shape than we found it.” In making her case, Rice claimed success on a raft of issues, including progress on nuclear affairs with India, Iran, and North Korea. (Continue)
At a July 8 summit in Hokkaido, Japan, the heads of government of the Group of Eight (G-8), a forum of the largest economies worldwide, continued discussions on expanding their current nonproliferation partnership from a focus on the former Soviet Union to a more global approach. They also took note of the program's achievements to date in the former Soviet Union as well as remaining projects there. (Continue)