Officials Praise Nunn-Lugar Threat Reduction Program
By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Dec. 4, 2012 – Defense Department officials yesterday honored two men who in 1991 established a program that has become a critical part of the U.S. approach to reducing the worldwide proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta made a surprise appearance at the DOD-hosted Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Symposium, held at National Defense University here.
He joined Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter, Madelyn R. Creedon, assistant secretary of defense for global strategic affairs, and Air Force Gen. C. Robert Kehler, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, all speakers at the symposium.
“I wanted to take the opportunity to come here specifically to honor and pay tribute to [former Georgia Sen.] Sam Nunn and [Indiana Sen.] Dick Lugar, two very dear friends and two of finest public servants in the history of this country,” Panetta told the packed room.
“The program that bears their name has had a dramatic and enduring impact on global security,” the secretary added, later awarding each man the Distinguished Public Service Award, the department's highest civilian honor.
Also during the symposium, Andrew C. Weber, assistant secretary of defense for nuclear, chemical and biological defense programs, announced on behalf of the department the establishment of a Nunn-Lugar fellowship in partnership with the Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.
The first Nunn-Lugar Fellow, he said, is Anya Erokhina, a graduate in nonproliferation and terrorism from Monterey. Erokhina now works in the Office of Nuclear, Chemical and Biological Defense Programs.
In introductory remarks to the symposium, Creedon and Kehler spoke of the impact the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program has made during its 20 years of operations.
“While there have been many successes of the CTR program, one of the most remarkable is the support it provided to three of the states of the former Soviet Union, to enable them to be nonnuclear states and parties to the [Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons],” Creedon said.
The program helped the countries remove or destroy all the nuclear weapons and delivery systems they had inherited from the former Soviet Union, she added, noting several other achievements:
-- Facilitating the blend-down of Russia’s weapons-grade enriched uranium so that it could be used in commercial nuclear-power reactors to produce electricity rather than weapons;
-- Identifying alternative employment opportunities for nuclear weapons scientists and former chemical and biological weapons scientists, engineers and technicians; and
-- Ensuring the security of nuclear weapons at facilities and during transport, destroying hundreds of nuclear delivery systems and thousands of chemical munitions.
The world and its security challenges continue to change, Creedon said.
“Four years ago, Senator Lugar recognized this change and worked to expand the CTR program’s authority beyond the states of the former Soviet Union,” she noted. The cooperative threat reduction partnerships have since expanded from 13 to more than 80 countries, she added, and the nature of the program’s work has evolved.
“In addition to securing [weapons of mass destruction], the program today works to build partnership capacity in support of treaty and other international obligations and promotes global nonproliferation norms in support of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1540, the Global Partnership and the Proliferation Security Initiative,” the assistant secretary said.
“DOD is also taking a more global and integrated approach to reducing WMD threats,” Creedon added.
Working closely with the departments of State and Energy and its new regional partners, the Defense Department is putting great emphasis on sustainability and stewardship and refocusing the program to take on a wider range of biological threats, she noted, adding that international support also is growing.
“Recognizing the need to reduce the threat of WMD proliferation around the world, 24 countries from the Global Partnership have pledged $10 million over the next 10 years to support CTR’s efforts,” Creedon said.
Because many countries keep dangerous pathogens for peaceful, legitimate research purposes, the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program works with its new partners to ensure that safety and security steps are implemented, she said.
“CTR is drawing from the lessons learned in the states of the former Soviet Union to address biological risks around the world, particularly Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia,” Creedon told the audience.
Speaking on behalf of the men and women of the U.S. Strategic Command, Kehler said Nunn, Lugar and their program have made Stratcom’s job easier and Americans safer.
“The era of one-size-fits-all deterrence passed with the end of the Cold War,” he said. “Today, we are applying a wider range of tools, not just nuclear forces, to our deterrence challenges.”
Kehler said Stratcom’s most difficult challenge may be its responsibility to synchronize planning for DOD’s efforts to combat weapons of mass destruction.
“This challenge is every bit as daunting as our strategic deterrence challenge, and it is here we need significant help,” he said. “Fortunately, CTR is effective in helping us with both our deterrence and our combating WMD problems.”
Stratcom, Kehler added, reaps the benefits of a remarkable program that secures and then eliminates the world’s most dangerous weapons.
“The need to find, identify and track potential threats is a never-ending task for Strategic Command, therefore the elimination of 7,000-plus warheads, 902 ICBMs … more than 150 bombers, close to 700 submarine-launched ballistic missiles, 33 submarines -- along with some 2,700 metric tons of chemical weapons -- greatly eased our intelligence demands,” the general said.
In September alone, he added, the CTR supported the disposal of four more ballistic-missile submarines and another 161-plus metric tons of chemical nerve agents.
“I can therefore devote a portion of our intelligence resources to some of the many other threats that confront us today,” Kehler said, adding that the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program has been and will continue to be a powerful tool in the national effort to reduce the threat from weapons of mass destruction.
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