However, Recent U.S. Budget Cuts Generate Questions Over Actions Matching Rhetoric
Washington DC – March 26, 2014 – Press Release – On Monday and Tuesday, the leaders from fifty-three countries met in The Hague to advance progress on global nuclear materials security. The 2014 summit was the third such summit following the 2010 summit in Washington D.C. and the 2012 summit in Seoul, South Korea. The idea for the summit process was first presented by President Obama in his 2009 Prague address.
“This year’s summit resulted in continued progress towards securing the world’s most dangerous nuclear and radiological materials including announcements of new pledges and fulfillment of older commitments that continue to move the ball forward,” said Kingston Reif, Director of Non-Proliferation Programs. “However, there is much work left to do in preparation for the final summit in 2016 and ensure that U.S. actions and funding priorities match the urgency of the threat.”
At the summit, thirty five countries signed up to a multilateral initiative (or “gift basket”) to implement IAEA principles and recommendations for securing nuclear and radiological material. In addition, Japan pledged to eliminate over 500 kilograms of highly enriched uranium (HEU) and plutonium, much of it ideally suited for use in an improvised nuclear explosive device. Italy and Belgium also announced the fulfillment of their 2012 commitments to eliminate some of their highly enriched uranium and plutonium. Gift baskets were also announced on radiological and transport security.
“These achievements enhance U.S. and global security by reducing the risk of nuclear terrorism,” added Reif. “Despite this important progress, however, many important countries with large amounts of nuclear material did not sign-up to key gift baskets, there is still no global requirement for how secure nuclear material should be, and it remains to be seen what international institution or forum will be responsible for sustaining continuous attention and progress on nuclear security once the Summit process ends in 2016.”
In addition, the White House continues to face criticism for its recent FY 2015 budget request which slashed funding for key nuclear and radiological material security and nonproliferation programs at the Departments of Defense and Energy.
The request slashes nearly eighteen percent, compared to the FY 2014 enacted level, from core threat reduction and nonproliferation programs including the Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) and the International Materials Protection and Cooperation (IMPC) program. The request also reduces funding for the Cooperative Threat Reduction (also known as Nunn-Lugar) program by 27%.
“The FY 2015 budget request delays the goal to convert or shut down 200 research reactors that still use HEU by an additional 5 years to 2035. The request also defers an unspecified amount nuclear and radiological material removal work to future years and the previous end date to secure 8,500 buildings with radioactive material by 2044 (which itself is delay of nearly two decades relative to the goal in 2012) is now unlikely to be met,” said Reif. “In addition, the United States has failed to make good on its pledge at the 2010 and 2012 summits to ratify two key nuclear security treaties: the 2005 amendment to the Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials (CPPNM) and the International Convention on the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (ICSANT).”
“When President Obama returns from his trip to Europe, he will need to work with Congress to increase the nuclear security budget and devote greater attention to securing Senate passage of critical implementing legislation for the two stalled nuclear security treaties,” added Reif.
The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation is a Washington-based non-profit think tank working to reduce the number of nuclear weapons stockpiled across the globe, increase international nonproliferation programs targeted at preventing the further proliferation of nuclear weapons and nuclear terrorism, redirect U.S. military spending to address 21st century security threats and halt the proliferation of biological and chemical weapons. www.armscontrolcenter.org