Renewal of a key deal to provide U.S. assistance in securing and eliminating Soviet-made weapons of mass destruction is one aim of a trip to Russia launched on Monday by Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), The Hill reported (see GSN, June 20).
The present enabling deal for Cooperative Threat Reduction operations in Russia is due to lapse in 2013.
“Renewing the umbrella agreement with Russia is important to continuing the WMD destruction that is in both of our national interests. The Nunn-Lugar program is also a critical element of our military-to-military and security cooperation with Russia, the Ukraine and Georgia as we face global security challenges," Lugar said in provided comments.
Lugar's trip is to include stops in Georgia and Ukraine in support of his yearly international travels to monitor the Nunn-Lugar initiative's execution (Julian Pecquet, The Hill, Aug. 6).
Among the planned stops are Russia's Missile Elimination and Dismantlement Facility at Surovatikha; the Pavlograd Chemical Plant in Ukraine, which is conducting disposal of Cold War-era SS-24 missile engines; and the Nunn-Lugar Central and Public Health Reference Laboratory in Tbilisi, Georgia, according to a Lugar press release.
“My visit comes at a time of considerable stress in our bilateral relationship with Russia, great challenges in Ukraine and tremendous opportunity in Georgia,” Lugar said. “The constant basis for cooperation against existential threats in all three nations has been the Nunn-Lugar program, which has endured despite great differences and dramatic changes."
The Nunn-Lugar program in June supported the elimination of 40 nuclear warheads and four submarine-fired ballistic missiles. The initiative that month also supported elimination of 1.3 metric tons of chemical warfare nerve agents, and it helped to ensure the security of six nuclear-weapon train shipments (see GSN, July 5).
Since 1991, the CTR effort has assisted in deactivation of 7,659 strategic nuclear warheads and destruction of 902 ICBMs, 498 ICBM silos, 191 mobile ICBM launchers, 684 submarine-launched ballistic missiles, 492 SLBM launchers, 33 ballistic missile-capable submarines, 155 strategic bombers, 906 nuclear air-to-surface missiles and 194 nuclear test tunnels, according to the announcement.
The effort has also provided safeguards for 578 nuclear-weapon train shipments, boosted security at 24 nuclear weapons storage facilities and constructed 39 biological agent monitoring stations. It supported the removal of all nuclear weapons from Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus, nations that once respectively held the world's third-, fourth- and eighth-largest nuclear arsenals, Lugar's office said.
Lugar is ending his tenure in the Senate after being defeated in a GOP primary (U.S. Senator Richard Lugar release, Aug. 6).