Council for a Livable World: ‘Rep. Ryan Willing To Gamble With America’s Nuclear Safety’

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 24, 2011
CONTACT:
Bridget Nolan , Outreach Coordinator, 202.546.0795, ext. 2113, bnolan@clw.org

Washington, DC – In a statement today in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) confirms his willingness to gamble with America’s nuclear safety by cutting funding for vital non-proliferation programs that would keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists.

Yesterday the Council for a Livable World, a national leader in efforts to reduce the danger of nuclear weapons and increase national security, announced a new campaign featuring radio ads aimed at six Republican leaders -- including Rep. Ryan -- to spotlight reckless budget cuts to the defense nuclear non-proliferation programs in the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).

Lt. General Robert Gard (U.S. Army- Ret) issued the following statement today slamming Rep. Ryan’s statement supporting deep budget cuts to the U.S. Government’s signature nuclear security program to keep highly enriched uranium and other dangerous materials out of the hands of terrorists:

“Rep. Ryan still doesn’t get it - his cuts gamble with America’s national security. There is highly enriched uranium sitting around former Soviet Republics today and if Rep. Ryan gets his way, hundreds of kilograms of this material would remain unsecure. We can either work with our allies to lock it down now and prevent it from falling into the wrong hands or we can take Rep. Ryan’s risky approach and not secure these dangerous materials that put America at risk. Rep. Ryan simply dodges the fact that the NNSA defense nuclear non-proliferation programs counter the most serious threat confronting our national security.�

Rep. Ryan issued this statement to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Washington can cut spending without compromising our national defense, and the continuing resolution simply prevents further spending increases from taking hold. Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned last year: ‘I think the biggest threat we have to our national security is our debt.’ As we act to get our fiscal house in order, it is critical that we prioritize spending and address our nation’s most pressing fiscal, economic, and security challenges.�

Others targeted by the campaign were 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, and Senate Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Thad Cochran who all 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 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 the 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.

Council for a Livable World has already been featured in Talking Points Memo and on The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC for this ad campaign targeting these six Republican leaders in the House and Senate.

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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.