Nuclear Weapons & Materials Monitor
Efforts to stem the spread of nuclear weapons are at the center of a Democratic national security strategy put forward by House leaders last week, with legislators advocating a significant increase in spending on nonproliferation and a dramatic acceleration of cooperative nonproliferation programs with Russia. The strategy, Ensuring America’s Strength and Security: A Democratic National Security Strategy for the 21st Century, laid out by a group of senior House Democrats Sept. 15, enumerates Democratic priorities on a host of national security related fronts, and, though the proposals themselves are not new, their centrality to the Democrats’ approach makes clear that Democrats in the House will continue to push the issue in future spending debates. Rep. John Spratt (R-S.C.), ranking member of the Budget Committee and second most senior member of the Armed ServicesCommittee, who rolled out the nonproliferation portion of the paper, said that though the United States “can’t do too much” to deal with the threat of proliferation, “we can do too little, and the Bush Administration has done just that.” In addition to Spratt, the paper was presented by Democratic Reps. Steny Hoyer (Md.), House Democratic Whip; Ike Skelton (Mo.), ranking member of the Armed Services Committee; Jane Harman (Calif.), ranking member of the Intelligence Committee; and Ellen Tauscher (Calif.), a member of the Armed Services Committee. The paper was not an expression of Democratic policy, but “put forward by the people you see here,” according to Hoyer, though he added that he expected more Democrats to come on board over time.
Tripling CTR, Nonprolif. Spending Advocated
The paper put forward several recommendations related to nonproliferation programs, including “tripling the funding for the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program (Nunn-Lugar) and other non-proliferation programs.” Spratt condemned the Administration’s spending patterns on the issue, noting that “it has requested less funding for non-proliferation in 2006 than we budgeted in 2001” and “Republicans in Congress have gone so far as to vote against Democratic initiatives to increase funding for vital non-proliferation efforts.” As he has in the past (NW&M Monitor, Vol. 9 No. 13), Spratt named the missile defense budget as a possible source of the funding. Further, the paper recommended:
— Securing and accounting for all of the world’s nuclear materials as soon as possible, as “the 12 to 13 years (the current Administration says it needs) is too long,” Spratt said;
— Working with the Russians to establish a baseline inventory of all nuclear materials, including nuclear materials in tactical and sub-strategic weapons;
— Agreeing with the Russians to remove a significant number of our nuclear weapons from hair-trigger alert;
— Targeting rogue states that traffic in weapons of mass destruction;
— Marshaling the world against weapons of mass destruction and acting with other states to strengthen the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons; and
— Ratifying the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
Hoyer called the document “an outline” and a set of “goals,” saying that Democratic leaders would “certainly flesh these out” over the next year. “This is a beginning, not an end,” he concluded.