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Congressional Appropriators Add Funding for Nuclear Terrorism Prevention
Nuclear Security Experts Commend Bipartisan Efforts
Congress took a major step forward in efforts to prevent nuclear terrorism by restoring funding for anti-terror nonproliferation programs in the Senate and House Energy and Water bills last week according to the Fissile Materials Working Group, a nonpartisan group of nuclear security experts.
The fiscal year 2013 Senate Energy and Water appropriations bill boosts funding for the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) by $73 million above the administration’s request, while the House bill provides $17 million in additional funding. The GTRI program removes and secures nuclear material at vulnerable civilian sites around the globe. The Senate bill also includes a $54 million boost to NNSA’s International Nuclear Materials Protection and Cooperation (INMPC) program in order to sustain progress in countering nuclear trafficking. Both programs are critical to efforts to prevent nuclear terrorism.
“Leaders on the Hill should be commended for their bipartisan efforts to restore funding to essential programs that prevent nuclear terrorism,” stated David Culp, Legislative Representative for Nuclear Disarmament at the Friends Committee on National Legislation. “In particular, Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Ranking Member Lamar Alexander (R-TN), House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) and Ranking Member Peter Visclosky (D-IN) deserve substantial praise for their work.”
The administration’s 2013 budget request had cut GTRI by $32 million and INMPC by $259 million relative to last year’s appropriation. The Senate Energy and Water subcommittee indicated that cuts to GTRI would delay the goal of conversion of 200 research reactors from running on highly enriched uranium (HEU), which can be fashioned into a crude nuclear weapon if acquired in sufficient quantities, to the less dangerous low enriched uranium (LEU) by 2022. The Senate committee also expressed concern that massive cuts to the Second Line of Defense program - which installs radiation detectors at border crossings, airports and seaports – within INMPC would undermine ongoing efforts to prevent nuclear smuggling.
“The administration’s FY 2013 budget request for core nuclear material security programs was difficult to understand given the emphasis it has rightly placed on preventing nuclear terrorism,” said Kingston Reif, Director of Nuclear Non-Proliferation at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. “The request actually decreased funding for these essential activities while it showered money on the controversial MOX program and USEC, neither of which contribute to the four-year goal. Congress provided the administration with a useful reminder that it ought to think twice about submitting such an imbalanced budget request in the future.”
The appropriations bills could be sent to the floor of the House and Senate as early as mid-May.
The FMWG is a coalition of more than 65 leading experts and non-governmental organizations in nuclear security. It was formed to support and help implement the goal of promptly securing all vulnerable fissile materials. For more information, visit www.fmwg.org.
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