Obama Budget Undercuts US Leadership to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism

Michelle Cann

photo credit: Glenn Fawcett

photo credit: Glenn Fawcett

The Obama administration is proposing drastic reductions to U.S. nuclear security programs in its fiscal year 2014 (FY14) budget request. If enacted by Congress, these cuts will undermine global U.S. leadership to prevent nuclear terrorism. They also threaten the foundation of threat reduction programs that have been built over two decades to protect the public from the misuse of nuclear and radiological materials.

Last December, at an event celebrating the 20 year anniversary of U.S threat reduction efforts, President Obama assured the public that “even as we make some very tough fiscal choices, we’re going to keep investing in these programs—because our national security depends on it.”1 The FY14 budget request reflects an overall diminished commitment to the nuclear security programs in the threat reduction portfolio.

Funding for three core programs within the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) would decrease by $293 million under the FY14 budget request, a 23 percent reduction from current spending as reported in the Department of Energy budget highlights document. The request slashes the International Nuclear Materials Protection and Cooperation (INMPC) program by nearly 36 percent, shrinks the Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) by 15 percent, and cuts the Nonproliferation and International Security (NIS) program by 8 percent. No details have been provided on how these cuts will be allocated among GTRI, INMPC, and NIS’ subprograms, and no funding amount was provided for a fourth key program, U.S. and Russian Fissile Material Disposition (FMD).

The FY14 budget justification states that this request “funds administration priorities” in the effort to prevent the proliferation of nuclear materials and weapons. It further states that the budget will allow the United States to complete efforts to secure “the most vulnerable nuclear materials” by the end of 2013. This refers to the completion of one of President Obama’s major nuclear security objectives announced in Prague in 2009.2 However, in that speech the president promised to “secure all vulnerable nuclear materials around the world within four years,” not just those that are most vulnerable [emphasis added].

Download the full report, with tables and citations here: (PDF)