100 Leaders Write to President Obama on Non-Proliferation Spending Reductions

Dear Mr. President:

We write to express our serious concern about the FY 2015 budget request for vital nuclear material security and nonproliferation programs. These cuts are difficult to understand since the danger of nuclear weapons in the hands of terrorists remains high.

In your closing remarks last month at the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit in the Netherlands, you rightly 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.” The FY 2015 budget request is out of sync with these objectives.

We urge you to work with Congress to significantly increase funding for core nuclear security activities during the FY 2015 authorization and appropriations process.

We applaud your leadership in spearheading an accelerated international effort to enhance the security of nuclear and radiological 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.

For example, the NNSA request delays the goal of converting or shutting down a total of 200 research reactors that still use HEU by an additional five years to 2035. The previous end date to secure 8,500 buildings with radioactive material has already been delayed to 2044 and now may be further postponed. The construction of fixed site radiation detectors under the second line of defense program will be reduced from 25 to 15 and work in the Middle East and Africa is not moving forward. Programs to improve the nuclear accounting, control, and security culture in Russia are reduced “to fund other NNSA priorities.” Other previously planned work in the removal of nuclear and radiological material will be “deferred to future years.”

In testimony before the House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee in April, Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz expressed his “disappointment” with the cuts to nonproliferation and attributed them to the tough budget environment and the decision to prioritize NNSA’s nuclear weapons programs.

We understand that the budget environment is difficult. We also understand that some major projects funded in previous years have been completed. Moreover, Moscow’s unwillingness to renew the old CTR umbrella agreement has reduced the amount of work we can do in Russia.

However, the FY 2015 budget request signals a major retreat in the effort to secure nuclear and radiological materials. Nonproliferation programs must be a top priority and their work is too important to be a bill payer for other activities.

We encourage you to work with Congress to ensure that these programs have the resources they need to secure nuclear and radiological materials as quickly as possible.

Sincerely,

John Adams, Brig General (USA Ret.)
Guardians Six Consulting LLC

Bruce Amundson, MD
Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility

Kennette Benedict
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Peter Bergel
Oregon PeaceWorks

Kim Bergier
Co-coordinator Michigan Stop The Nuclear Bombs Campaign

Harry C. Blaney III
Center for international Policy

Barry M. Blechman
Stimson Center

Roger R Blunt, P.E., Major General (USA Ret.)

Carol Blythe
Alliance of Baptists

Jack Boureston
FirstWatch International

John Bradshaw
National Security Network

Ambassador Kenneth C. Brill
Former Ambassador to the IAEA

Matthew Bunn
Harvard University

Dan Caldwell
Distinguished Professor of Political Science, Pepperdine University

John Castellaw, Lt. General (USMC Ret.)

Sr. Patricia Chappell
Pax Christi USA

Jay Coghlan
Nuclear Watch New Mexico

Tom Z. Collina
Arms Control Association

David Culp
Friends Committee on National Legislation (Quakers)

Susan Cundiff
Oregon WAND

Peter Davies
Founding President, InterAction

Chantal de Jonge Oudraat
SIPRI North America

Marie Dennis
Pax Christi International

The Honorable Byron Dorgan
United States Senator (North Dakota)

Ambassador Ralph Earle II
Former Director, Arms Control and Disarmament Agency

Jenefer Ellingston
National Green Party

Erica Fein
Women’s Action for New Directions

Charles D. Ferguson, Ph.D.
Federation of American Scientists

The Honorable Donald Fraser
Former Member of Congress (Minnesota)

Ambassador Peter W Galbraith
Former Ambassador to Croatia

Robert G. Gard, Jr., Lt. General (USA, Ret.)

Richard L. Garwin
National Medal of Science Awardee

Alicia Godsberg
Peace Action, New York State

Debbie Goolsby
President, Arkansas Women's Action for New Directions

Jean Gordon
Founder, Arkansas Women's Action for New Directions

Ambassador Thomas Graham Jr.
Former Special Representative of the President for Arms Control, NonProliferation and Disarmament

Lisbeth Gronlund
Union of Concerned Scientists

B. Welling Hall
Earlham College

Howard L. Hall
The Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy, University of Tennessee

Mark W. Harrison
United Methodist General Board of Church and Society

William D. Hartung
Center for International Policy

Katie Heald
Campaign for a Nuclear Weapons Free World

Ira Helfand, MD
Past President, Physicians for Social Responsibility

John Holum
Former Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security

John Isaacs
Council for a Livable World

Arlen D. Jameson, Lt. General (USAF Ret.)

Joni Jenkins
Kentucky State Representative

John H. Johns, Brig General (USA Ret.)

Fern Katz
Michigan WAND

David Kay
Potomac Institute for Policy Studies

Catherine M. Kelleher
University of Maryland, College Park

Marylia Kelley
Tri-Valley CAREs (Communities Against a Radioactive Environment)

The Honorable Mike Kopetski
Former Member of Congress (Oregon)

Don Kraus
GlobalSolutions.org

Ira Lechner
Council for a Livable World

The Honorable Jan M. Lodal
The Atlantic Council of the United States

Ben Loehrke
Ploughshares Fund

Marie Lucey, OSF
Franciscan Action Network

Kenneth Luongo
Partnership for Global Security

Bruce W. MacDonald
Johns Hopkins University, School of Advanced International Studies

Jenifer Mackby
Former Senior Political Affairs Officer, United Nations

Paul Kawika Martin
Peace Action

Mary Lou Marzian
Kentucky State Representative

Matthew McKinzie, Ph.D.
Natural Resources Defense Council

Mark Medish
Former Senior Director, National Security Council and US Treasury Deputy Assistant Secretary

Gary Milhollin
Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control

JoAnne Mills
Arkansas Women’s Action for New Directions

Thomas C. Moore
Independent consultant

Clark Murdock
Center for Strategic and International Studies

Tammy Murphy
Project for Nuclear Awareness

Robert K. Musil
The Rachel Carson Council

Dr. Janne E. Nolan
The George Washington University

Robert Nurick
Atlantic Council

Michael O'Hanlon
Senior Fellow at Brookings

Nan Grogan Orrock
Georgia State Senator

Sandy Pappas
MN State Senator & Senate President

Miles Pomper
Monterey Institute for International Studies

Becky Rafter
Georgia WAND

Jon Rainwater
Peace Action West

Diane Randall
Friends Committee on National Legislation

Kingston Reif
Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation

Richard Rhodes
Author

Eric Sapp
American Values Network

Deb Sawyer
Utah Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (UCAN)

Lawrence Scheinman
Former Assistant Director, Nonproliferation and Regional Arms Control (Arms Control and Disarmament Agency)

Andrew K. Semmel
Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State (2003-2007)

Ashish Sinha
Alliance for Nuclear Accountability

William K. Smith, MD
Physicians Against Land Mines

Ambassador Nancy Soderberg
Former US Representative for Special Political Affairs at the US Mission to UN

David C. Speedie
Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs

Guy Stevens
PeacePAC

Mimi Stewart
New Mexico House of Representatives

Charleta Tavares
Ohio State Senator

Catherine Thomasson, MD
Physicians for Social Responsibility

Rev. Robert W. Tiller
Retired clergyperson

William Tobey
Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University

Alexandra Toma
Fissile Materials Working Group

Paul F. Walker, Ph.D.
Green Cross International

Harry Wang, MD
President, Physicians for Social Responsibility/Sacramento

Gerald F. Warburg
Professor of Public Policy, UVA

Peter Wilk, MD
Physicians for Social Responsibility Maine

*Organizations listed for identification purposes only
**Individuals listed in bold are or have been affiliated with Council for a Livable World or Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Boards of Directors, National Advisory Boards or staffs.