Obama Administration Retreats on Nuclear Security Funding

Severe Cuts to the FY15 Nonproliferation Budget

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The fiscal year (FY15) 2015 budget request for international nuclear security and nonproliferation programs signals that the Obama administration’s prioritization of funding for proliferation prevention programs continues to recede. Facing a budget squeeze, the administration chose to cut virtually every major international nuclear security program run by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). It also made a major cut for the first time to the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) effort. Clearly, a contributing factor is that Russia has evolved into a reluctant and increasingly hostile partner in this area. But, Russian reticence does not explain all of the cuts. In fact, throughout his term, the president’s budgets for key nuclear control efforts have been declining.

If the administration thinks it can claim mission accomplished on its nuclear security goals and can now reap a success dividend, it is wrong. Important strides have been made—for example removing all weapons grade materials from 12 countries—but much more remains to be done. The administration initiated a series of high-level global Nuclear Security Summits to encourage other nations to prioritize the prevention of nuclear terrorism. But, the significant impression this new budget leaves is that the administration does not understand that without continued and strong U.S. leadership and funding, this agenda will fade from the global stage and that is a major international security threat.

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