Magazine article Arms Control Today

Bush Reviews Threat Reduction Programs, Contemplates Cuts

Magazine article Arms Control Today

Bush Reviews Threat Reduction Programs, Contemplates Cuts

Article excerpt

FOLLOWING A STRONG reaction in Congress to reports of impending budget cuts to nuclear threat reduction efforts in Russia, President George W. Bush announced March 29 that his administration was conducting a "full review" of the programs. The assessment will be conducted by senior National Security Council officials and is expected to last six to eight weeks, according to an administration official.

The United States funds numerous programs, managed by several departments, to help Russia dismantle its nuclear weapons and secure its deteriorating nuclear weapons complex. Reports that the administration's budget proposal will suggest cuts for these programs first appeared in mid-March, based on government and private sources. The cuts are reportedly directed primarily at Energy Department non-proliferation efforts, with possible cuts to the Defense Department's Cooperative Threat Reduction initiative. Administration officials declined to provide specifics, but one official indicated that programs deemed "ineffective" by the recently launched review could be significantly scaled back or killed.

The size of the cuts under consideration remains unclear. Various sources have indicated that the Department of Energy (DOE) cutbacks will involve a relatively small reduction from this year's budget. However, any cuts would be significant because funding for key threat reduction efforts had been expected to increase considerably next year, and some programs will apparently be hit hard. Multiple reports indicate that the budget for the Nuclear Cities Initiative, which is working to create employment opportunities, will be cut from its current level of about $27 million to around $7 million, effectively crippling the program.

After being asked about the reported pending cuts at an impromptu White House press conference, Bush responded by stating that "we're reviewing all programs," citing a desire to ensure funds were being spent "in an effective way. …

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