December 06, 2010

Lugar Praises Work of Nunn-Lugar Staff

The United States will use all of its military, diplomatic and economic power – without question – to ensure that life threatening weapons of mass destruction everywhere are accounted, contained and hopefully destroyed. – The Lugar Doctrine, December 6, 2001

Nine years after Senator Dick Lugar first articulated an American foreign policy and national security doctrine to counter the spread of weapons of mass destruction, he praised the work of hundreds of Department of Defense workers who carry out the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program. Lugar spoke at a ceremony for employees of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Following are excerpts from Senator Lugar’s speech:

“Thank you for your hard work in support of Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction efforts. You bring a wide range of expertise and experience to this endeavor. I am always impressed by the quality of your work and your dedication…

“Without your help, we would not be where we are today, poised to apply this program in ways and in places that it was difficult to envision when Nunn-Lugar began nearly two decades ago. Thank you for the work you are doing in new regions. I know you have been busy organizing, planning and traveling in support of our expansion into Asia, namely, China, India and Pakistan, Southwest Asia, Iraq, and in East Africa, with special attention to Kenya and Uganda. These new partners are going to create new challenges for you, but I am confident you are up to the task.

“The Nunn-Lugar legislation of 1991 established a program that responded to the WMD threat, including potential proliferation, from the former Soviet arsenal of nuclear and chemical weapons, biological weapons materials, and related expertise and knowledge… By the end of 1996, all former Soviet nuclear and chemical weapons were consolidated on the territory of the Russian Federation. The Nunn-Lugar CTR Program established positive relationships with designated executive agents in Russia and a mutually beneficial effort began to enhance security or dismantle nuclear weapons, eliminate strategic delivery systems to agreed treaty limits, and destroy all chemical weapons. By December 2008, enhanced security systems were installed at all nuclear weapons storage sites in Russia and a cadre of Russian military personnel were being trained to sustain those systems…

“Many people were deployed overseas on CTR missions on our holidays; the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, New Years, etc. They missed important personal family events: birthdays, vacations, and others to carry out the mission.

“Nunn-Lugar projects can take its personnel to some austere places in challenging conditions. Teams have lived in remote places of the former Soviet Union, in local housing, working to get projects on track. They worked all day at a site, then shopped locally and cooked dinner in their Stalin-era, one bedroom apartments. Sometimes the building didn’t get heat or hot water or even electricity. Sometimes the plumbing didn’t work. But you always went to work, at the missile site, at the construction site, even if it snowed a foot overnight, or the winds were howling…

“The working relationship that had developed with Russia to reduce threats, along with the September 2001 Al Qaeda attacks on the U.S., demonstrated the need to focus additional Nunn-Lugar CTR Program efforts on the threats outside the Former Soviet Union. Congress authorized the President to expand the program geographically in 2004. With that new legislation the Nunn-Lugar program eliminated the chemical weapons in Albania. In 2008, the Congress removed several limitations and simplified the process for Nunn-Lugar to expand geographically. In 2009, DoD used this new legislation to add Afghanistan and Pakistan as partners… 

“ (I)n the late 1990s the DoD CTR team recognized that firstly, threats from especially dangerous pathogens were not being addressed methodically, and secondly, expertise developed by the Nunn-Lugar program’s nuclear and chemical weapons activities could be applied effectively to the burgeoning bio-security challenge.

“Nunn-Lugar bio-security activities began with threats created by the former Soviet ‘Biopreparat’ industrial complex, spread across states of the Former Soviet Union. Steps were taken to eliminate the legacy of Soviet industrial-scale bio-weapons infrastructure: fermenters, laboratories and other infrastructure of the Biopreparat system were eliminated or secured in cooperation with host governments. ‘Libraries’ of extremely dangerous pathogens left over from the Biopreparat and Soviet public health research systems were recognized as potential proliferation threats, along with the threat posed by under-employed Soviet bio-weapons researchers.

“Moreover, the 2001 anthrax attack on the U.S. Senate and a Washington DC post office heightened the attention to bio-security and the difficulty of containing bio-proliferation. Working with academic specialists, State Department colleagues and Congress, Nunn-Lugar Global planners conceived of a broad-based approach to global bio-threat reduction, which eventually will grow to be the largest component of DoD’s Nunn-Lugar CTR program.

“DoD works closely with State Department colleagues on bio-security broadly, and on strategies to engage potential foreign partners. However, in terms of program execution, Nunn-Lugar Global remains the largest U.S. government security program working overseas to thwart bio-threat ‘vectors’ that could harm the U.S. or its allies. CTR activities are synchronized with those of the Department of Homeland Security, which addresses domestic bio-security, and with the Department of Health and Human Services, which addresses public health challenges at home and abroad…

“All CTR activities have always begun with an assessment of the threat.  Just a few weeks ago I travelled with DoD officials to Africa to personally examine the threat.  Africa has no history of a biological weapons program; neither is there any known history of bio-weapons infrastructure.  However, it is a continent that is rich in indigenous, naturally occurring and especially dangerous pathogens. Moreover, it is a potential crossroads for non-state organizations, including terrorist groups, that might wish to capitalize on Africa’s pathogenic diversity along with the global availability of pharmaceutical equipment. Finally, the United States and its allies have had a long-standing public-health presence in Africa, a base of experience which facilitates CTR’s activities on the continent.

“The sooner we can show progress on the ground outside the former Soviet Union, the more attractive this program will be to still more partners. The results will be a safer world in which you can take even greater pride in what you accomplish. Thank you for taking on this task, for your innovation in solving new challenges, and for your hard work.

“I am proud of each of you and wish you all the best in your future endeavors. Thank you very much.”

 

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Press Contact

Mark Helmke • 202-224-5918 • mark_helmke@lugar.senate.gov