Jump to search Jump to main navigation Jump to main content Jump to footer navigation

Global Security Newswire

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

Produced by
NationalJournal logo

Senators: Spending Bill Would Boost Efforts to Secure Nuclear Material

By Douglas P. Guarino

Global Security Newswire

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) speaks on Capitol Hill on June 4. On Tuesday, Feinstein's Senate Appropriations Energy and Water Subcommittee approved a fiscal 2015 spending bill. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) speaks on Capitol Hill on June 4. On Tuesday, Feinstein's Senate Appropriations Energy and Water Subcommittee approved a fiscal 2015 spending bill. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Senate appropriators said Tuesday that their spending bill for fiscal 2015 includes several measures meant to aid efforts to shield nuclear and radiological materials from terrorists.

The bill, which the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water approved unanimously, includes a provision that would require the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission "to establish minimum security standards for radiological sources at medical and industrial facilities," according to a summary of the legislation.

The document notes that "recent investigations found that these sources are vulnerable to theft, and current regulations are not sufficient to protect the public against radiological terrorism."

NRC officials said in 2012 that they had issued new rules meant to address any shortcomings, but a senior investigator at the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office told Global Security Newswire at the time that the regulations would not do enough.

While full details of the Senate bill are not expected to be available until later this week, the legislation recommends $1.9 billion -- $24 million above the fiscal year 2014 level and $423 million above the budget request -- "for nonproliferation activities that reduce the threat of terrorism."

The funds, which would go to the Energy Department's National Nuclear Security Administration, "will accelerate efforts to secure and permanently eliminate remaining stockpiles of dangerous nuclear and radiological materials around the world," according to the announcement.

Part of this funding increase would go toward controversial efforts to convert Cold-War era weapons material into reactor fuel -- an effort that has been criticized by many nonproliferation advocates. The Obama administration is looking to put an unfinished plant dedicated to the conversion on "cold standby" while it pursues other, possibly cheaper, ways to dispose of the material.

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said during Tuesday's markup session that the bill would "restore funding to get out of cold standby." He said the legislation would "allow the program to go forward, and we'll have some time to figure out how to make it cost effective."

Last week, House appropriators approved a bill that would provide $350 million to continue the MOX program.

Note to our Readers

GSN ceased publication on July 31, 2014. Its articles and daily issues will remain archived and available on NTI’s website.

NTI Analysis

  • A Roadmap to Minimize and Eliminate Highly Enriched Uranium

    May 26, 2015

    This paper lays out a roadmap with five pathways to ending civilian HEU use and to beginning the necessary research and development to minimize and ultimately eliminate HEU for naval use, with specific recommendations that countries can undertake prior to the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit.

  • 2015 NPT Review Conference Backgrounder

    May 4, 2015

    This primer provides background on some of the key issues being discussed during the 2015 NPT Review Conference and recommendations made by more than 100 global leaders.

Country Profile

Flag of United States

United States

This article provides an overview of the United States’ historical and current policies relating to nuclear, chemical, biological and missile proliferation.

Learn More →