Senator Dick Lugar
The end of the Cold War ushered in a new era in global politics. After a half century of bipolar rivalry between the United States and the United Soviet Socialist Republics, the U.S. emerged as the focal point for weak and troubled states seeking to reposition themselves in the global order as well as for disenfranchised ideological movements hoping to revise—even destroy—a globalized world system they perceived as a challenge to their traditional modes of life.
Consistent with international norms opposed to the development, testing, and proliferation of nuclear weapons, United States Senators Richard Lugar (R-IN) and Sam Nunn (D-GA) introduced the Soviet Nuclear Threat Reduction Act of 1991. The bill passed the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support due to the clear and present danger posed to international order and U.S. citizens in particular with the relatively weak states of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and Belarus in possession of thousands of nuclear arms. The bill created the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program (Nunn-Lugar) which is housed inside the Department of Defense's Defense Threat Reduction Agency. DTRA was formed in 1998 by consolidating several Defense Department agencies around the key goal of safeguarding “America and its interests from weapons of mass destruction (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high explosives) by reducing the threat and providing quality tools and services."
In its two decades in force, Nunn-Lugar has accomplished an impressive record of success obtaining nuclear weapons in the former Soviet Union states (FSU), dismantling nuclear weapons production facilities, and consolidating or dismantling biological and chemical weapons facilities throughout the former Soviet Union. To date, the Nunn-Lugar program has deactivated more than 7,500 nuclear warheads that were once aimed at the United States.
At the same time that the U.S. assumed the responsibility to help keep the world safe from the potential destruction that could result from nuclear weapons falling into criminal hands, the world awakened to several new threats: failed states, terrorism, and the rise of international criminal organizations. Although several incidents, dating back to 1981, made it clear that the U.S. would be a target of terrorist attacks, this was never more clear than it was on September 11, 2001 when Al-Qaeda successfully hijacked airplanes and used them as makeshift bombs, destroying the World Trade Center Twin Towers, causing significant damage to the Pentagon, and killing 3,000 civilians. Although terrorism has been a recognized concern of the U.S.'s security community for decades, since 2001, limiting the threat posed by terrorist groups has been given an unprecedented place of priority.
The unique capacity for destruction inherent in nuclear arms encouraged the international community and the U.S. Congress to give them priority over other kinds of weapons including Chemical, Biological and Radiological weapons. But with DTRA processes and facilities well-established throughout the US, Europe, and the FSU, there has been a call to expand Nunn-Lugar beyond FSU and to include other CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear) threats.
For his extraordinary leadership and contributions to America’s national security, Senator Richard Lugar was awarded the Defense Department’s highest civilian honor, the Distinguished Public Service Award. “At the Pentagon, our primary mission is to keep this country safe,” says SEC DEF Leon Panetta. “These two gentlemen have kept our country safe by virtue of what they've done. Their dedication, their leadership, their efforts at trying to ensure that we do everything we can to control the spread of weapons of mass destruction has been an incredible legacy of two individuals committed to trying to protect this world.”
The Lugar Doctrine
20th Anniversary of the Nunn-Lugar Program
Lugar Speech for Sagamore Institute Africa Commission Event in Indianapolis
President Obama marks the 20th anniversary of the Nunn-Lugar Threat Reduction program, one of the country's most successful national security programs.
U.S. Sen. Dick Lugar today took to the floor of the Senate to tout the successes of the Nunn-Lugar Cooperation Threat Reduction program. As START Treaty negotiations continue in Geneva, Switzerland, and President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev discuss an agreement on the sidelines of the Copenhagen meeting, Lugar continued to draw attention to the practical, day-by-day progress of dismantling and destroying weapons and materials of mass destruction.