by Kingston Reif [contact information]
In his closing remarks at that the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit in the Netherlands, President Obama stated that despite the progress made over the past four years, “it is important for us not to relax, but rather accelerate our efforts…[and] sustain momentum [on nuclear security].” The FY 2015 budget request is out of sync with these objectives.
Since 2009 the United States has spearheaded an accelerated international effort to enhance the security of weapons-usable nuclear materials. Significant progress has been made safeguarding nuclear materials and through the nuclear security summit process. Thirteen countries eliminated all the highly enriched uranium (HEU) or separated plutonium on their soil. All of the locations in non-nuclear-weapon states where there was enough high-quality HEU for the simplest type of terrorist nuclear bomb were either eliminated or had significant security improvements.
Despite these noteworthy achievements, significant work remains to be done. There are still hundreds of sites spread across 30 countries that have weapons-usable nuclear material. Over 120 research and isotope production reactors around the world still use HEU for fuel or targets. Many of these locations have very modest or insufficient security measures.
The FY 2015 budget request for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) reduces funding for the Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) and the International Nuclear Materials Protection Program (IMPC) by 25% and 27%, respectively. This is the third year in a row of budget cuts to these core nonproliferation programs. The fiscal 2015 request is nearly $1 billion less for GTRI and the IMPC programs than the funding level projected by your administration three years ago. In addition, the request for the Pentagon slashes funding for the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program (CTR) by 27%.
Reducing funding for these programs increases the amount of time it will take to secure or eliminate dangerous materials that could be used by terrorists in an improvised nuclear explosive device or a dirty bomb. The FY 2015 budget request signals a major retreat in the effort to secure nuclear and radiological materials at an accelerated rate.
The charts in the PDF linked to below outline the FY 2015 budget request for material security and nonproliferation programs at the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the Pentagon and describe the impact of the budget cuts to these programs.