Friday, August 17, 2007

Obama, Hagel introduce non-proliferation bill

Before leaving town for the Congressional August recess, Senators Barack Obama (D-IL) and Chuck Hagel (R-NE) introduced S.1977, a bill

“to provide for sustained United States leadership in a cooperative global effort to prevent nuclear terrorism, reduce global nuclear arsenals, stop the spread of nuclear weapons and related material and technology, and support the responsible and peaceful use of nuclear technology.”
The bill builds on the recommendations outlined in the January 4, 2007 Wall Street Journal op-ed, A World Free of Nuclear Weapons, by George Shultz, William Perry, Henry Kissinger and Sam Nunn.

It emphasizes that

"securing nuclear weapons and weapons-usable material at their source is the most direct a reliable way to disrupt efforts by terrorist organizations to acquire such material.”
and urges that

“nuclear weapon states should reaffirm their commitment to Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty”
The bill authorizes:
-$50 million for an international nuclear fuel bank (same funding level as proposed in the Senate energy & Water Appropriations bill)
-$15 million annually until 2012 for strengthening the inspection capabilities of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as recommended by Matthew Bunn and Anthony Wier in Securing the Bomb 2006
-an additional $20 million for the Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) for FY2008-FY2010
-$15 million for FY 2008 and $10 million for FY 2009 for a nuclear forensics program

It also fulfills an important oversight role by mandating:
-a plan for ensuring that all nuclear weapons and weapons
-usable material at vulnerable sites worldwide are secure by 2012, and annual progress reports
-a report by the National Academy of Sciences on a verification regime for an effective Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty
-two reports on the 2010 NPT Review Conference: one in 2009 detailing objectives, strategy and policies for the Conference and one detailing its outcomes

Lastly, it creates a Commission of 15 Members:
-to provide recommendations on the threat of the spread of nuclear weapons, nuclear weapons technology and nuclear terrorism
-to report on efforts to reduce global nuclear arsenals, the development of new nuclear weapons, the need for nuclear energy, and the contribution of existing multilateral entities

At a time when the United States has walked back from many of its commitments under the NPT, this kind of legislation serves as an important reminder and re-affirmation that successful US leadership and long-term US security depend on maintaining a viable and credible non-proliferation and arms control regime in place, which over time will require substantial, prudent and verifiable progress toward the ultimate objective of a world free of nuclear weapons.

As Congress prepares to finalize the funding levels for non-proliferation and arms control issues (in the Defense Authorization bills and the Energy & Water Appropriations bills), several other important and useful bills have been introduced in the Senate recently.

Among them is S.1914, a bill introduced by Sen. Feinstein (D-CA) with Sens. Collins (R-ME), Durbin (D-IL), Kennedy (D-MA), Feingold (D-WI), Casey (D-PA), that would prevent funding for the design and development of a new generation of nuclear weapons, the so-called Reliable Replacement Warhead, until the new Presidential administration completes a nuclear posture and policy review.


  1. You write how S. 1977 proposes providing "$15 million annually until 2012 for strengthening the inspection capabilities of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as recommended by Matthew Bunn and Anthony Wier in Securing the Bomb (2006)." As written, the quoted text contains some potential inaccuracies.

    S. 1977 breaks up the $15 million proposed appropriation authorization in the following way (see Sec[5][b]):

    "(1) $10,000,000 for each such fiscal year for the Department of Safeguards of the IAEA to improve, strengthen, and expand as necessary, the ability of the IAEA to conduct effective monitoring and inspections to ensure compliance with safeguards and to monitor transfers of dual-use nuclear items and technologies that could be used to subvert those safeguards; and

    "(2) $5,000,000 for the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security of the IAEA to strengthen the efforts of the Department to develop guidelines for securing nuclear materials and to assist national authorities with implementation of these guidelines."

    Although Securing the Bomb recommends increasing funding to, and improving, the IAEA's Department of Nuclear Safety and Security (cf. Proposed Appropriation Authorization #2), I don't recall the report making any recommendations whatsoever with regard to the IAEA's Department of Safeguards (cf. Proposed Appropriation Authorization #1). Indeed, the phrase "Department of Safeguards" appears nowhere in Securing the Bomb.

  2. Thank you for the clarification. Securing the Bomb 2006 recommended an additional $5-10 million in FY2007 as voluntary contributions to the IAEA. The report states, "it is important to provide adequate resources to the IAEA office devoted to prevention of nuclear and radiological terrorism. There are in fact many things the IAEA can do better than the U.S. government, including: overseeing the development of international safeguards for nuclear security; working with states that may be suspicious of U.S. intentions; managing the international database on nuclear and radiological trafficking; providing international training courses and workshops; and coordinating peer reviews of nuclear security" (p154).

  3. If you are student taking classes, interning, or living in DC, please apply for the Global Zero Student Summer Program.

    This July and August, Global Zero will invite 20 college students to join an elite corps of youth activists working towards the elimination of nuclear weapons worldwide.

    Apply at:

  4. Implications of Circumventing the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty:
    US-India Civilian Nuclear Agreement

  5. Quoting an artcile by "Sasha Shaikh" bah...his bias against the Indo-US deal is obvious . Any sane person would know the Indo-US nuke deal is strictly limited to the civillian sector and it no where violates NPT in text or spirit; the unneccessary whining and uneasiness being shown by certain countries is obvious specially the ones with dubious track record as far as non proliferation is concerned.

    No new bill or treaty can curb nuclear proliferation as long as US government continues to turn a blind eye to China's blatant and continuing support to rogue states as far as nukes are concerned ; North Korea and IRAN have acquired the capability right under the watchful eye of the US government the former has even tested nukes and all US government did was TALK.

    And ofcourse then there are countries who have made a business out of proliferation by using national labs and their scietists as a means of carrying out illegal nuclear trade.