Statement from Sam Nunn, Co-Chairman of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, regarding Bush-Putin Summit in Slovakia

Statement from Sam Nunn, Co-Chairman of the Nuclear Threat Initiative,
regarding Bush-Putin Summit in Slovakia

Each of the steps Presidents Bush and Putin announced today are important. Taken together, they indicate that the Presidents are now beginning to take personal charge and responsibility for advancing this urgent work, recognizing three important concepts:

  1. Catastrophic nuclear terrorism must be stopped, not only by avoiding the spread of nuclear capabilities to other countries, but most importantly, by securing and destroying weapons-usable material wherever it exists around the globe;
  2. We are in a race between cooperation and catastrophe, and in the nuclear arena, global cooperation must begin with a partnership between the United States and Russia;
  3. Russia must be a full partner, not simply a supplicant for funds, in this global effort to secure nuclear materials at their source.

To me, the most important steps taken were: enhanced cooperation on security upgrades of nuclear facilities; the return of highly enriched uranium from U.S. and Russian designed research reactors and the conversion of the reactors to low-enriched uranium fuels; the sharing of best practices to improve security at nuclear facilities bilaterally and with other nations; the enhancement of our emergency response capabilities to deal with a nuclear or radiological incident; and the instruction of U.S. and Russian experts to facilitate efforts to store MANPADS more securely.

Still missing-in-action, but now more possible, is a recognition by Presidents Bush and Putin that their strong leadership is required to bring about:

  • Removal of the liability and access obstacles that have proved to be roadblocks to our cooperative threat reduction agenda so we can dramatically accelerate our work to secure nuclear weapons and materials.
  • Transparency and accountability for tactical nuclear weapons in both the U.S. and Russian arsenals;
  • A process for removing U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear weapons from hair-trigger alert, where they serve more as a grave danger than a deterrent;
  • Transparency and cooperation, beginning with the U.S. and Russia, in preventing biological terrorism and the spread of infectious diseases. This must begin with transparency on biological defensive efforts between the U.S. and Russia.
  • An acceleration of chemical weapons destruction, which is far behind the agreed-on scheduled.

There must be an increased measure of reciprocal transparency on both the U.S. and Russian side and an enhanced effort to foster a true partnership to achieve this imperative security agenda.


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