National Defense Authoriation Act For Fiscal Year 2006--Resumed

By:  Joe Biden, Jr.
Date: July 21, 2005
Location: Washington, DC


NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 2006--Resumed

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Mr. BIDEN. Mr. President, for over 3 years, we have heard that our most important national security priority is to ``keep the world's deadliest weapons out of the hands of the world's most dangerous people.'' One of the best ways to do that is to secure the world's stocks of fissile material and to destroy such material that is no longer needed for the nuclear weapons programs of the five accepted nuclear weapons states.

The Cooperative Threat Reduction program, also known as the Nunn-Lugar program, is an important mechanism for achieving this vital objective.

For over a dozen years, Nunn-Lugar has funded the destruction of Russian long-range ballistic missiles, nuclear warheads, and chemical weapons, as well as improved security for Russia's nuclear and chemical weapons. This program has furthered Russian compliance with bilateral and multilateral arms control treaties, and it has done so with great transparency. In short, Nunn-Lugar has been a consistent contributor to our national security.

Experts report, however, that since 9/11, the pace of Nunn-Lugar activities has fallen off. Fewer arms are being destroyed and there has been a major delay in activities due to disagreements with Russia over access to activities and liability protection for contractors associated with the program.

Another major impediment to Nunn-Lugar activities has been the need either to meet onerous certification requirements or to prepare an annual report justifying Presidential waivers of those certification requirements. This is a needless waste of resources.

Worse yet, the certification and waiver requirements often lead to gaps of several months in the flow of funds to Nunn-Lugar projects. Those projects are not undertaken out of the goodness of our hearts; rather, they are designed to improve our national security by lessening the risk that rogues or terrorists will acquire weapons of mass destruction.

So, what is the point of requiring onerous certifications or waiver reports? The only effect of those requirements is to slow the process of improving our national security.

The truth is that the certification requirements were imposed by people who questioned the wisdom of Nunn-Lugar in the first place. And I cannot believe that anybody could doubt the usefulness of Nunn-Lugar today, given its proven record of achieving U.S. objectives.

If we are serious, then, about ``keeping the world's deadliest weapons out of the hands of the world's most dangerous people,'' the time has come to pursue that goal more efficiently.

In particular, the time has come to stop putting roadblocks in the way of the Nunn-Lugar program, as we use that program to secure and destroy weapons of mass destruction that might otherwise fall into ``most dangerous'' hands.

The Lugar-Levin amendment will clear a major roadblock from the path to national security. I urge all my colleagues to support it.

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