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Global Security Newswire

Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues

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Defeated Senator Countered Post-Cold War WMD Proliferation Threat

U.S. Senator Richard Lugar's loss on Tuesday in Indiana's Republican primary prompted bipartisan statements of empathy for the lawmaker known for a 21-year-old initiative to secure and eliminate weapons of mass destruction in former Soviet states, the Associated Press reported (Donna Cassata, Associated Press/Yahoo!News, May 9; see GSN, May 2).

Lugar collaborated in 1991 with then-Senator Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) in crafting legislation to establish the U.S. Cooperative Threat Reduction program, and has acted as the initiative's primary legislative proponent following Nunn's departure from Congress in 1997, the Atlantic reported on Wednesday. The Nunn-Lugar program supported the removal of all Soviet nuclear weapons from Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus, and has neutralized a quantity of atomic armaments greater in number than the French, Chinese and British stockpiles put together (John Shaw, The Atlantic, May 9).

Lugar also played an instrumental role in the Senate approval of international weapons agreements hammered out under the George H.W. Bush, Clinton and Obama administrations, according to AP. He was among 13 senators to vote in favor of the New START nuclear arms control accord with Russia, which entered into force last year.

The senator "comes from a tradition of strong, bipartisan leadership on national security that helped us prevail in the Cold War and sustain American leadership ever since," President Obama said on Tuesday in prepared comments.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta referred to Lugar as a "statesman" who "often reached across the aisle to try to find consensus on some of the most challenging issues of our times, and that's what leadership is all about."

"I'm just devastated," Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) told AP on Wednesday. "He is such a fine person and has made so many contributions to this country's security and to the security of the entire world through the work he's done on nuclear nonproliferation. I just can't imagine the U.S. Senate without Dick Lugar, so I'll miss him terribly" (Cassata, Associated Press).

[Editor's Note: Richard Lugar serves on the Board of Directors of the Nuclear Threat Initiative. Sam Nunn is co-chairman and chief executive officer of NTI. NTI is the sole sponsor of Global Security Newswire, which is published independently by the National Journal Group.]

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