Funding for U.S. Efforts to Improve Controls Over Nuclear Weapons, Materials, and Expertise Overseas: A 2009 Update
Authors: Andrew Newman, Former Research Associate, Project on Managing the Atom, August 2008–February 2011, Matthew Bunn, Associate Professor of Public Policy; Co-Principal Investigator, Project on Managing the Atom
Andrew Newman and Matthew Bunn's new analysis assesses the Obama administration's fiscal year 2010 budget request for programs to improve controls over nuclear weapons, materials, and expertise worldwide. The authors write:
"In Washington, it is often said that budgets are policy. The fact that the entire budget for all programs to prevent nuclear terrorism comes to less than one quarter of one percent of the defense budget makes a clear statement about whether this effort is really a top priority of the U.S. government—and makes clear that the U.S. government could easily afford to do more, if more effort is needed.
Some nuclear nonproliferation programs could move more quickly to seize risk reduction opportunities that already exist if their budgets were increased—and substantially increased funds will inevitably be needed to implement a faster and broader effort if the other obstacles can be overcome. Achieving the objective of effective security for all stockpiles of nuclear weapons and weapons-usable materials will inevitably require substantial expansions of current programs, to cover:
- Security upgrades at more sites in more countries
- Expanded efforts to strengthen security regulation and security culture
- Removing a wider range of materials from a wider range of facilities
- Incentives to convince states and operators to give up their material
- Expansion to shut-down of underutilized research reactors as a complement to the current focus on conversion.
The bottom line is that the risk of nuclear terrorism can be reduced dramatically with investments that are tiny by comparison to what the United States and other countries routinely spend to provide for their security. Lack of money should not constrain the effort to keep these nuclear stockpiles out of terrorist hands."
The report includes links and key budget resources.
For more information about this publication please contact the MTA Project Coordinator at 617-495-4219.
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