Bush Seeks Cuts in Pentagon Threat Reduction Programs

By Bleek, Philipp C. | Arms Control Today, September 2001 | Go to article overview

Bush Seeks Cuts in Pentagon Threat Reduction Programs


Bleek, Philipp C., Arms Control Today


THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION is seeking reduced funding for Pentagon programs that assist former Soviet states in dismantling and securing weapons of mass destruction. The Bush proposal would cut some programs while expanding others, but senior officials emphasized that the administration may alter its request once an ongoing White House review of all threat reduction efforts wraps up.

In the amended defense budget it submitted to Congress in late June, the administration asked for $403 million to pay for the Defense Department's Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) efforts in the former Soviet Union for the fiscal year beginning in October. That figure is 9 percent below this year's $443 million allocation.

The modest overall reduction is largely a function of year-to-year fluctuations in funding requirements rather than an effort to reduce funding across the board, as appeared to be the case with cuts the administration has sought for Energy Department non-proliferation programs. (See ACT, May 2001.) Annual appropriations for Cooperative Threat Reduction have fluctuated between about $300 million and almost $600 million since 1994, due in part to budgeting procedures and varying program needs.

The administration has requested substantial cuts for some programs, notably several strategic weapons-related efforts in Russia. A senior Pentagon official explained in an August 8 interview that funds for strategic arms elimination had been ramped up in recent years as Russia worked to meet START I levels by the December 2001 deadline but that less money is needed now that the program has "caught up."

Another initiative intended to help Russia package fissile material from dismantled weapons was scrapped after the two sides failed to reach agreement on technical is- sues. Additionally, the administration is requesting no 2002 funding for the fissile material storage facility in Mayak because construction is 70 percent complete and funds already appropriated are deemed sufficient to finish the project next year, the senior official indicated.

The White House has also requested that some programs be dramatically expanded. The administration is seeking to almost double previous funds for strategic elimination efforts in Ukraine. …

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