Nadler: U.S. Must Immediately Secure Nuclear Materials in Russia

Sep 23, 2003

Washington, DC -- To prevent nuclear materials from falling into the hands of terrorists, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) today introduced the Nuclear Terrorist Threat Reduction Act, a bill that would authorize an immediate increase in funding to help purchase and secure excess Russian plutonium and highly enriched uranium.

In his speech yesterday to the United Nations, President Bush spoke of the United States' effort to dismantle, destroy, or secure weapons and dangerous materials left over from the former Soviet Union. The President stated that the G-8 nations agreed to provide $20 billion over the next ten years in an effort to stop the risk of nuclear proliferation.

Nadler welcomed Bush's remarks, but argued that we cannot afford to wait to secure nuclear materials in Russia. Nadler stated, "We must stop nuclear proliferation now, not over ten or twenty years. 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 a wake up call that we must act now."

Nadler's bill would authorize $28 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.

The 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, "The threat of nuclear proliferation is at the heart of our confrontation with North Korea and was used as major justification for the war in Iraq. Yet we are ignoring the most likely source of this threat. 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.