The president’s increased interest in combating proliferation around the world is welcome and necessary, and comes on the heels of many months of advocacy from Republicans, Democrats, and numerous proliferation experts. There is an excellent opportunity to move beyond the rhetorical commitments of the President’s speech to a concrete and comprehensive non-proliferation strategy. First, the administration needs to:
Commit new money: For example, the President’s proposal to expand Nunn-Lugar programs beyond Russia and the former Soviet Union is commendable and critical. However, the administration must put new funding behind this proposal if any progress is to be achieved. The Center suggests a dramatic increase in Nunn-Lugar funding to $2 billion from the $451 million appropriated last year. The administration called for only $409 million in the President’s fiscal year 2005 budget request.
Move beyond ad-hoc and voluntary measures: The president’s challenge to the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the states of the Proliferation Security Initiative will certainly help to curb the spread of nuclear technologies. But these coalition-of-the-willing style initiatives are voluntary efforts that lack real teeth, and constitute only one element of a possible non-proliferation regime. The administration must take a more broad-based approach, one which strengthens existing treaties, including the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty, from which the U.S. is considering pulling its signature.
Lead by example: When it comes to curbing the dangerous proliferation of nuclear weapons and technologies, the U.S. must lead not only by word, but also by deed. The United States should cease its exploration of new and unnecessary nuclear weapons, such as "bunker busters," for which the president’s fiscal year 2005 budget request proposed a $20 million increase, and shift the associated costs towards funding non-proliferation goals.
For more discussion of the president’s speech, tune in tonight to former Sen. Sam Nunn on Charlie Rose (see also the WMD issue adds put out by the Nuclear Threat Initiative, of which Nunn is CEO, here: 1, 2, 3), Ellen Tauscher on Hardball, Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Larry King, and the Arms Control Association’s statement on these issues.