Campaign Spotlights Reckless Budget Cuts That Threaten America’s Nuclear Security

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 24, 2011
CONTACT:
Bridget Nolan , Outreach Coordinator, 202.546.0795, ext. 2113, bnolan@clw.org
Eric Koch, 646-200-5309

WASHINGTON – Radio ads launched today in the districts of six Republican leaders in the House and Senate are the opening salvo in a new campaign to spotlight reckless budget cuts that could threaten America’s nuclear security. The campaign is spearheaded by the Council for a Livable World, a national leader in efforts to reduce the danger of nuclear weapons and increase national security.

House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, with the support of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan and Senate Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Thad Cochran voted for deep cuts to the U.S. Government’s signature nuclear security program to remove highly enriched uranium and other dangerous nuclear materials from countries in the former Soviet Union and other unstable regions around the world.

“The reckless budget cuts of Republican leaders in Washington, DC will make it easier for groups like Al-Qaeda to get their hands on dangerous nuclear materials,� said Lt. Gen. Robert Gard (U.S. Army Ret.), a veteran of the wars in Korea and Vietnam and the Senior Military Fellow at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation in Washington, DC. “The budget can be balanced without putting Americans at risk of a nuclear attack at the hands of terrorists.�

The current stopgap budget approved by Congress cuts the defense nuclear non-proliferation budget of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) in the Department of Energy by $551 million from the $2.7 billion proposed by the Obama administration in its FY2011 budget.

With Congress facing an April 8 deadline to reach agreement on a final budget, the Council for a Livable World has purchased significant air time on radio stations in the home districts of the six Republican leaders named above as part of its campaign to restore the budget cuts. The campaign includes online ads on national media websites, outreach to voters in those districts and across the country who are concerned with America’s national security and a sustained lobbying effort on Capitol Hill to restore the cuts.

To hear the radio ads running in each district please visit Council for a Livable World’s website

The nuclear non-proliferation programs operated by NNSA have been very effective in limiting the spread of highly enriched uranium and other weapons grade nuclear materials. Over the last 24 months these critical programs have made significant progress. Since April 2009, NNSA has overseen the removal highly enriched uranium in six countries amounting to a total of 120 bombs-worth of nuclear material. In 2004, these non-proliferation programs contributed to the elimination Libya’s nuclear weapons program.

Thanks to strong U.S. leadership, America has secured new commitments over the last year from more than half a dozen countries, including Belarus, Ukraine and Uzbekistan, to remove and secure their bomb grade nuclear material. These new commitments increase the urgency and funding needs of NNSA’s nuclear non-proliferation programs.

“The time to act is now to locate, secure and remove highly enriched uranium and other loose nuclear materials,� said Ira Lechner, Chairman of Council for a Livable World. “These damaging cuts should be restored as soon as possible to keep Americans safe and maintain the effectiveness of the critical nuclear non-proliferation programs housed in NNSA.�

The NNSA nuclear non-proliferation programs have traditionally enjoyed strong bipartisan support, and have been identified as a critical priority for protecting America’s national security. Last summer, the House and Senate Energy and Water appropriations subcommittees fully funded NNSA’s Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation account. Money for these programs was approved by both the Senate and the House in the FY 2011 Defense Authorization Bill, which passed by unanimous consent.

In the 2004 Presidential election, George W. Bush said the greatest threat facing America is nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists: “I agree…that the biggest threat facing this country is weapons of mass destruction in the hands of a terrorist network.� That same year, the bipartisan 9/11 Commission report recommended stepped up efforts to collect and secure nuclear weapons and nuclear materials around the world to protect our nation against future terrorist attacks.

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Council for a Livable World is a Washington, D.C.-based 501 (c)(4) non-profit advocacy organization dedicated to reducing the danger of nuclear weapons and increasing national security. Its mission is to advocate for sensible national security policies and to help elect arms control candidates to Congress.