Sam Nunn and 20 years of nuke control

President Barack Obama delivers his speech to the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) symposium at the National Defense University in Washington on Monday. Seated are, from left, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Sens. Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar. AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta

President Barack Obama delivers his speech to the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) symposium at the National Defense University in Washington on Monday. Seated are, from left, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Sens. Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar. AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta

Local boy makes very, very good. From the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON — Hailing two decades of efforts to help the former Soviet Union secure nuclear weapons stockpiles, President Barack Obama said Monday that the world must continue to stand guard against nuclear threats — including terrorists who seek to gain control of nuclear weapons.

“We cannot let our guard down,” Obama said, calling efforts to combat nuclear terrorism one of his top priorities as president.

Obama praised the 20-year-old Cooperative Threat Reduction program, which has provided billions of dollars in U.S. equipment and know-how to help Russia and former Soviet bloc nations safeguard and dismantle nuclear and chemical weapons.

The program, initiated by Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and former Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Ga., has helped deactivate more than 7,600 nuclear warheads.

Marking the program’s 20th anniversary, Obama cited the “extraordinary progress” that’s been made in securing nuclear materials and thanked Nunn and Lugar for their leadership.

In a speech at the National Defense University in Washington, the president called Nunn and Lugar “visionaries” who “challenged us to think anew” about ways to secure nuclear stockpiles produced during the Cold War. He also said they were models for bipartisan cooperation, who showed great integrity, decency and leadership over their long careers.

Obama called Lugar, who was defeated in a bid for re-election, a friend, and said his legacy — and Nunn’s — is “a safer and more secure world.”

The program Nunn and Lugar created provided reinforced rail cars to carry nuclear warheads, high-tech security systems for storage sites and helped pay for the dismantling of mothballed nuclear submarines and other weapons. It played a major role in preventing deadly weapons from falling into the wrong hands while the Russian government was facing a severe money crunch amid an economic meltdown and political turmoil that followed the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

The program is set to expire this spring, and Russia has said it will not automatically extend it without a major overhaul.

Obama noted statements about the program’s future by Russian leaders and said the U.S. response is, “Let’s update it. Let’s work with Russia as an equal partner. Let’s continue the work that is so important.”

Obama said he was optimistic that a new agreement can be reached, echoing comments Nunn and Lugar have made in recent months.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta spoke before Obama and also heaped praise on his former congressional colleagues, Nunn and Lugar. Panetta awarded the men the Defense Department’s Medal for Distinguished Public Service, the Pentagon’s highest civilian honor.

“We can say that the course of history changed for the better because these two men helped the nation confront the threat of nuclear proliferation at the end of the Cold War,” Panetta said. “The world would have been, without question, a far more dangerous and threatening place were it not for these two patriots.”

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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12 comments Add your comment

Mike Bell 790

December 3rd, 2012
9:29 pm

ld

December 3rd, 2012
10:19 pm

ld

December 3rd, 2012
10:20 pm

Re blog: there are still all those “unknown unknowns” out there.

RustyHingis

December 3rd, 2012
10:48 pm

Sam Nunn is the last democrat I can remember supporting. He is an honest, thoughtful man who has served our country with integrity. It’s too bad he was on the wrong side of U.S. miltary action in the Persian Gulf War. His vote against going in was a death knell to his presidential aspirations – something he will admit. Sad, he would have been someone who would have worked well with both sides of the aisle. Very respected man.

tjatl

December 4th, 2012
1:19 am

Sam Nunn for Secretary of State. Would he do it?

honested

December 4th, 2012
8:39 am

Remember when Senators were dedicated to Public Service and after retirement they went on to do selfless work that benefit all of us?

Try to attach that idea to both of the clowns currently representing us in the Senate. All it will make you do is laugh.

Greg

December 4th, 2012
8:53 am

Maybe the most important and under reported work done by any American politicians since the cold war ended.

Whirled Peas

December 4th, 2012
9:42 am

You know that $16.3 trillion mountain of debt we are now facing? Sam Nunn loved giving away “free stuff” to buy votes. He did not invent the game, but he was one of a bunch who ratcheted it up a notch.
It is time we played pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey and fereted out those politicians who created the mess we are in.

“The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.”
Thomas Jefferson

double

December 4th, 2012
11:13 am

It takes years to recuperate from being Bush-whacked.

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