Committee on International Relations
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515-0128

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Rep. Joseph R. Pitts
Opening Statement
International Relations Committee
Hearing on “Cooperative Threat Reduction Programs in Russia – Part II”

May 14, 2003

Chairman Bereuter and Chairman Gallegly, I would like to thank you for convening Part II of this hearing today, on an issue of such great national importance and national security.

As I have stated previously, in this post-September 11th world, we have become even more aware of the threats posed by the proliferation of nuclear weapons to rogue states and terrorist groups.

Even as we speak, our country is at risk.  North Korea has recently confirmed that it possesses nuclear weapons and is reprocessing fuel rods.  Iranian officials have reported that North Korean scientists are assisting them in their country’s drive to possess these deadly weapons.

And in Russia and the former Soviet states, nuclear facilities, with their crumbling security and lack of accounting procedures, provide a potential source for terrorists seeking nuclear weapons.  The possibility that nuclear materials or weapons might be lost, stolen, or sold on the black market, or that nuclear scientists and technicians might be tempted to sell their knowledge to nations seeking to develop these weapons, is very real.

As you know, Congress established the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Program in November 1991, after a failed coup in Moscow in August of that year and the subsequent disintegration of the Soviet Union had raised concerns about the safety and security of Soviet nuclear weapons. 

Congress responded by authorizing the use of $400 million in FY1992 Department of Defense funds to assist with the safe and secure transportation, storage, and dismantlement of nuclear, chemical, and other weapons.  Congress appropriated an additional $300 to $400 million per year for the CTR programs between FY1993 and FY1998.  It added $440.4 million in DOD funds for FY1999, $475.5 million in FY2000, and $443.4 million in FY2001 and $403 million in FY2002. 

Most of these funds support projects in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan -- the four nations that had Soviet nuclear weapons on their territories -- but Congress has also authorized their use for projects and military contacts in other former Soviet republics.

The CTR programs seek to reduce the threat to the United States from nuclear and other weapons in the former Soviet Union.  Towards this end, the programs focus on four key objectives: (1) Destroy nuclear, chemical, and other weapons of mass destruction; (2) Transport, store, disable, and safeguard these weapons in connection with their destruction; (3) Establish verifiable safeguards against the proliferation of these weapons, their components, and weapons-usable materials; and (4) Prevent the diversion of scientific expertise that could contribute to weapons programs in other nations.

I welcome the opportunity today to hear testimony on the status and effectiveness of the cooperative threat reduction and non-proliferation programs administered by the various Department of the United States government, and to discuss what the future of the CRT program should be.

Thank you.  I yield back my time.