After garnering bipartisan support in Congress for this bill, Sen. Lugar and the program's other namesake, then-Sen. Sam Nunn (R-Ga.), didn't sit on the sidelines and hope the details would sort themselves out. The program's founders remained intimately involved in its implementation, personally travelling to many elimination sites and working closely with foreign dignitaries to ensure safe and secure storage of the remaining weapons and to collaboratively address WMD concerns in other countries.
President Obama recently characterized Nunn-Lugar as "one of the country's most successful national security programs." Thousands of warheads have been deactivated because of the program's efforts. To date, Nunn-Lugar has directly led to the dismantling of some 7,500 nuclear warheads, over 530
intercontinental ballistic missiles, 194 nuclear test tunnels and 27 nuclear-equipped submarines.
Also thanks to Nunn-Lugar, the former Soviet states of Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan are nuclear-weapon free. Sixty nuclear warhead storage sites have received comprehensive security upgrades.
Nunn-Lugar's initial charter was to safeguard and eliminate nuclear and chemical weapons and their delivery systems. It has since evolved to address
biological threats as well. Nunn-Lugar has also expanded to increase the capacity of our allies to deter, detect and interdict movement of WMD and related materials. From a geographic perspective, Nunn-Lugar has expanded outside its traditional scope and is now in Africa, the Middle East and
Sen. Lugar personally travelled to partner countries on countless occasions to directly oversee implementation of the nonproliferation initiatives. For
instance, in 2009, he travelled to Shchuchye, Russia to celebrate theopening of a new facility for demilitarization of chemical weapon munitions. A few summers ago he spearheaded a congressional delegation on a mission to Africa to enhance security of deadly pathogens at biological research facilities and to promote systems to monitor infectious disease outbreaks.
But now, with Sen. Lugar's departure from Capitol Hill, it is up to a new class of policymakers to take up the cause of nonproliferation. They should
ensure Nunn-Lugar remains relevant and continues to receive congressional support. As Sen. Nunn recently put it: "We've got to skip down another
generation. That's a big challenge."
Nunn-Lugar has proven to be a cost-effective U.S. national security program. With an annual budget of about half a billion dollars, the returns in
international security enhancements relative to federal investment are significant.
Nunn-Lugar has done so much to make the world a safer place -- but there is still more to do. As President Obama recently put it at an event celebrating
Nunn-Lugar's twentieth anniversary: "We're nowhere near done. Not by a long shot."
Congress must remain dedicated to reducing the WMD threat and help ensure that Nunn-Lugar continues to make profound contributions in the efforts to
lower the risk of a WMD event.
Farnquist is a senior manager at Raytheon. Raytheon has been the primary logistics provider to Nunn-Lugar since 1994, providing missile and
delivery system dismantlement services, security upgrades to nuclear warhead facilities, the development of facility/border security systems and
sustainment planning for those systems.