February 25, 2011
We urge the Senate to reverse the cuts to the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) nuclear nonproliferation budget that were made by the House of Representatives in its new continuing resolution (CR). That bill cuts critical nuclear terrorism prevention programs by 22% (more than $600 million) below the Fiscal Year 2011 request. These programs are vital to reducing the risk of nuclear terrorism.
If approved, these budget cuts will weaken the first line of defense against the nuclear terrorist threat. They will affect crucial efforts to remove weapon-usable uranium in key locations. And, they will significantly limit the ability of the U.S. and its partners to achieve their goal of securing or removing vulnerable nuclear materials around the globe at an accelerated rate.
In testimony this month, General James Clapper the Director of National Intelligence stated that, “the time when only a few states had access to the most dangerous technologies is well past…Some terror groups remain interested in acquiring CBRN [chemical, biological, nuclear, and radiological] materials and threaten to use them. Poorly secured stocks of CBRN provide potential source material for terror attacks.”
Bipartisan reports and blue ribbon commissions have stated that limiting access to vulnerable nuclear weapons-usable materials will greatly reduce the threat of nuclear terrorism. They further warned that more – not less - needs to be done to ensure that terrorists and non-state actors never obtain a nuclear weapon or materials usable for a nuclear device. The global financial cost and terrible destruction of a nuclear terrorist attack would dwarf the costs of preventing such an attack.
We urge you to ensure that threat reduction and nonproliferation programs at NNSA, the Department of Defense, and the Department of State are funded at the FY 2011 requested level for the remainder of the fiscal year. No less than America’s national security is at stake.
Failure to correct the shortfalls in the CR would significantly hamper U.S. leadership in the important efforts to secure vulnerable weapons and materials around the world.
The fight against nuclear terrorism is a fight that can and must be won. But the United States will not be able to sustain its leadership and progress on this agenda if Congress does not adequately fund the programs that enabled the successes that have been achieved so far.
Harry C. Blaney III
Center for International Policy
Project On Government Oversight (POGO)
Ambassador (ret) Kenneth C. Brill
The Fund for Peace
Project on Managing the Atom
Harvard Kennedy School of Government
Friends Committee on National Legislation
National Green Party
Federation of American Scientists
Robert G. Gard, Jr., Lt. Gen., U.S. Army (Ret.)
Former president of the National Defense University
Thomas Graham Jr.
University of Tennessee
Council for a Livable World
Paul Kawika Martin
Daryl G. Kimball
Arms Control Association
The Honorable Mike Kopetski
Former Member of Congress (5th-OR)
Alan J. Kuperman, Ph.D.
University of Texas at Austin
Partnership for Global Security
Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar Professor
Monterey Institute of International Studies
Peace Action West
Women’s Action for New Directions
Global Green USA
Dr. Jim Walsh
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Professor of Public Policy
University of Virginia
Frank von Hippel
Professor of Public and International Affairs