Yesterday Foreign Policy’s Josh Rogin wrote a story on a recent letter sent by NGO leaders to President Obama encouraging him to play a more active role in defense of his budget for nuclear terrorism prevention programs.
In the past year nuclear material security and nonproliferation programs have been subject to unprecedented reductions. Given the Congressional mandate for significant cuts in federal spending over the next decade, there is a grave danger that the budget for these programs will continue to be at risk, which is exactly why the President’s voice is needed.
The full text of the NGO letter is pasted below the jump. For more on the nuclear terrorism prevention budget, see our resource center here.
October 27, 2011
The President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President:
We strongly urge you to make every effort to ensure that threat reduction and nonproliferation programs are funded at the Senate Appropriations Committee-approved level in the Fiscal Year 2012 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill.
Based on reports from Hill staff, we are concerned that while the final funding level remains unresolved, the Administration is not forcefully making the case for the Senate version of the bill, which in key respects is identical to your request. Put together with bipartisan agreement by Chair Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and ranking member Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and supported by Senators from both parties who want to help the Administration attain its anti-terrorism objectives, the levels in this bill need your active support to be enacted.
In a challenging fiscal environment when so many issues are bitterly partisan, the Senate Committee made difficult choices on a bi-partisan basis while protecting the key non-proliferation programs.
The disparity between the Senate and House levels for two particular programs stands out. The Senate approved the Administration’s request of $508.3 million for the Global Threat Reduction Initiative while the House cut the program by $85 million.
The Senate also approved the Administration’s request of $571.6 million for the International Nuclear Materials Protection and Cooperation program while the House cut that amount by $75.2 million.
In both cases, the House appropriation is less than the Fiscal Year 2011 levels, damaging the programs.
We highly commend your personal commitment to preventing nuclear terrorism, which has led the global community to take unprecedented action to secure and eliminate weapon-usable nuclear materials around the world.
Thanks to your leadership, the April 2010 Nuclear Security Summit in Washington D.C. was an unprecedented event during which the leaders of 47 nations pledged their support to secure vulnerable nuclear materials on their soil and to work in tandem to decrease threat levels.
As you noted in your State of the Union address, “Because we rallied the world, nuclear materials are being locked down on every continent so they never fall into the hands of terrorists.”
Failure to approve the Senate-passed levels would significantly hamper U.S. efforts to secure vulnerable weapons and materials around the world. For example, NNSA’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative could face delays in converting dozens of reactors around the world that use bomb-grade highly enriched uranium to use low enriched uranium, compromise our ability to protect and eliminate radioactive materials at universities and hospitals that could be used in a dirty bomb, and hold up efforts to remove dangerous highly enriched uranium from sites around the globe.
Nuclear terrorism is the ultimate preventable catastrophe. If highly enriched uranium and plutonium are adequately secured or eliminated, they cannot be stolen for use in a nuclear device.
We urge you to ensure that threat reduction and nonproliferation programs in the Energy and Water Appropriations bill are funded at the FY 2012 requested level. No less than America’s national security is at stake.
Ambassador Kenneth C. Brill Former Ambassador to the IAEA
David Culp, Legislative Representative Friends Committee on National Legislation (Quakers)
Jenefer Ellingston, Delegate Green Party
Charles D. Ferguson, President Federation of American Scientists
Lt. General (USA, Ret.) Robert G. Gard, Jr. Chair, Center for Arms Control & Non-Proliferation Jonathan Granoff, President Global Security Institute
Howard L. Hall, Ph.D., Director of Global Security Programs at the Howard Baker Jr Center The University of Tennessee
William D. Hartung, Director, Arms and Security Project Center for International Policy
Katie Heald, Coordinator Campaign for a Nuclear Weapons Free World
Paul Ingram, Executive Director British American Security Information Council (BASIC)
John Isaacs, Executive Director Council for a Livable World
William W. Keller, Director Center for International Trade & Security
Marylia Kelley, Executive Director Tri-Valley CAREs. Livermore, CA
Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director Arms Control Association
Sarah McGough Student (Notre Dame) and Coordinator, Security Campaign Team Americans for Informed Democracy
Robert K. Musil, Ph.D., M.P.H. Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, American University
Christopher Paine, Nuclear Program Director Natural Resources Defense Council
Jon Rainwater, Executive Director Peace Action West
Susan Shear, Executive Director Women’s Action for New Directions
Patricia Taft, Senior Associate The Fund for Peace
Paul F. Walker, Ph.D., Director, Security and Sustainability Global Green USA
Dr. Jim Walsh, Research Associate MIT Security Studies Program
Peter Wilk, MD, Executive Director Physicians for Social Responsibility
Michael J. Wilson, National Director Americans For Democratic Action
James E. Winkler, General Secretary General Board of Church and Society The United Methodist Church
Stephen Young, Senior Analyst, Global Security Program Union of Concerned Scientists
*Organization listed for affiliation purposes only