Global Security Newswire
Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues
Draft Bill Endorses Cut to U.S. Nonproliferation Funds; Seeks Nuclear Weapons Boost
WASHINGTON -- The Republican leadership of the House Armed Services Committee is endorsing the Obama administration’s plan to cut funding for nonproliferation programs in the next budget, but is recommending that even more money be spent on nuclear weapons operations.
The administration’s fiscal 2014 spending plan seeks $2.14 billion for the Energy Department’s nonproliferation programs, down from the $2.3 billion Congress allocated in fiscal 2012. The Obama camp is seeking $7.87 billion for DOE nuclear weapons activities, a $654 million boost from two years ago.
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard McKeon (R-Calif.) on Monday released his draft of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2014. The draft legislation endorses the proposed cut to nonproliferation programs but suggests an additional $200 million for weapons activities, bringing the total $8.08 billion for DOE stockpile sustainment activities.
The draft legislation, which the committee will mark up on Wednesday, is already drawing criticism from some Democrats. In a statement Monday, Adam Smith (Wash.), the top Democrat on McKeon’s panel, complained that the draft bill denies funding for nuclear weapons reductions, "even as the United States and Russia continue to possess over 90 percent of the nuclear weapons worldwide.”
Smith said delaying “or preventing implementation of the U.S.-Russia New START Treaty undermines strategic stability and progress toward reducing the dangers posed by nuclear weapons.”
Senate Appropriations energy and water subcommittee Chairwoman Dianne Feinsten (D-Calif.) has said that cutting nonproliferation funding is inconsistent with the Obama administration’s labeling of nuclear terrorism as a top national security threat and the president’s 2009 vow to lock down all vulnerable atomic materials.
Administration officials, meanwhile, have defended the proposed cuts, saying they are an indication of what has already been accomplished toward President Obama’s goal to secure all vulnerable materials throughout the world.
Report language accompanying McKeon’s draft authorization bill would direct the National Nuclear Security Administration to provide a plan for securing remaining global quantities of weapon-grade uranium by January.
“The committee notes that calendar year 2013 marks the end of this four-year plan and the beginning of the phasing out of the program,” the draft language says. “However, the committee understands that significant quantities of highly enriched uranium (HEU) remain in foreign countries and potentially at risk of theft or diversion.”
The report should include an analysis “detailing the quantity and status of HEU that has not been secured or removed” and an “assessment of the threat or risks of this HEU being stolen or diverted” according to the language. It would also include an “estimation of the costs of such efforts that would be borne by the
United States, allied countries, and partner countries” and an assessment of the priority of such efforts as compared to other NNSA missions, including a description of the opportunity costs on other NNSA missions inherent with pursuing such efforts.”
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