Following President Bush's speech on nuclear nonproliferation, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) renewed his call for Congress to pass the Nuclear Terrorist Threat Reduction Act, a bill introduced by Nadler that would authorize an immediate increase in funding to help purchase and secure excess Russian plutonium and highly enriched uranium. He also questioned the Bush Administration's budget request, which calls for a $41.6 million decrease in funding for the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program.
Nadler's bill would authorize $30 billion to accelerate efforts to stop the proliferation of nuclear materials in Russia. Provisions in the bill would authorize funding to secure excess Russian plutonium and uranium, improve security of nuclear materials in Russia, immobilize and downgrade plutonium and uranium, restructure Russia's excess nuclear complex, ensure transparency in Russia, and verify our progress in securing nuclear materials.
Conversely, the President's budget proposal falls far short of the funding necessary to secure all nuclear materials in Russia. In his FY 2005 Department of Defense budget request, the President proposes reducing the Cooperative Threat Reduction Programs to $409.2 million, a cut of $41.6 million since last year. Nadler's bill calls for $30 billion to secure nuclear materials in the former Soviet Union immediately.
"Just as he did with 'No Child Left Behind' and his AIDS initiative in Africa, Bush fails to put his money where his mouth is. The President's proposal to fight nuclear proliferation is insufficient. Worse yet, his budget request falls far short of what is necessary to secure these dangerous weapons. We must dedicate the resources necessary to stop nuclear proliferation now. The fact that nuclear materials in Russia could be stolen or sold to terrorists or hostile nation states, and used against American troops abroad or citizens here at home, should be reason enough to act immediately."
Nadler's legislation is based on the recommendations of a report entitled "A Report Card on the Department of Energy's Nonproliferation Programs with Russia," issued in January of 2001 by Howard Baker, Lloyd Cutler, Gary Hart, Sam Nunn, Susan Eisenhower, and Robert Hanfling among others. Contributors of the report stated, "The most urgent unmet national security threat to the United States today is the danger that weapons of mass destruction or weapons-usable material in Russia could be stolen and sold to terrorists."
Nadler stated, "It's one thing to launch a $150 billion war against Iraq because you think they have nuclear weapons, but it's another thing to spend $30 billion to secure the nuclear weapons we KNOW exist in Russia, without sacrificing a single American life. Enough excess weapons-grade plutonium and uranium to build 20,000 nuclear bombs is stored in the former Soviet Union in facilities of doubtful security, guarded by low-paid personnel who may be tempted by black-market cash. The possibility of Al Qaeda buying or stealing enough for a few nuclear devices is disturbingly high. In these dangerous times it is essential that we take action now to secure this material and to safeguard our future."
Rep. Nadler has been in Congress since 1992. He represents the 8th Congressional District of New York, which includes parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn.