Lugar-Obama Nonproliferation Legislation Signed into Law by the President

Authored by U.S. Sens. Dick Lugar (R-IN) and Barack Obama (D-IL), the Lugar-Obama initiative expands U.S. cooperation to destroy conventional weapons. It also expands the State Department's ability to detect and interdict weapons and materials of mass destruction.

The Lugar-Obama initiative will help other nations find and eliminate conventional weapons that have been used against our own soldiers in Iraq and sought by terrorists all over the world, said Obama. The Nunn-Lugar program has effectively disposed of thousands of weapons of mass destruction, but we must do far more to keep deadly conventional weapons like anti-aircraft missiles out of the hands of terrorists. Lugar-Obama also strengthens the ability of America's allies to detect and interdict illegal shipments of weapons and materials of mass destruction, a critical step in securing these weapons before they ever fall into the hands of terrorists that has not been a focus of current anti-terrorism efforts, Obama said.

The Lugar-Obama initiative would energize the U.S. program against unsecured, lightweight anti-aircraft missiles and other conventional weapons. There may be as many as 750,000 man-portable air defense systems in arsenals worldwide, and the State Department estimates that more than 40 civilian aircraft have been hit by such weapons since the 1970s. In addition, loose stocks of small arms and other weapons help fuel civil wars in Africa and elsewhere and provide the means for attacks on peacekeepers and aid workers seeking to stabilize war-torn societies. In Iraq, unsecured stockpiles of artillery shells and ammunition have been reconfigured into improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that have become an effective weapon for insurgents.

Obama demonstrated that he was something special with his very first hearing as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee—the confirmation hearing for Condoleeza Rice. Even though he was the last Member to have an opportunity to ask questions, he chose to focus his limited time on pressing Rice on how the U.S. could do more on the “loose nukes” issue in the former Soviet Union. And he did it all with a fluency in the issues that did not require him to just read his staff-written talking points.

An Obama Presidency will be good news for nonproliferation types—he understands the seriousness of these issues and has devoted attention to them in his first two years as Senator.

Washington Post: [1]

Transcript from the Council on Foreign Relations: [2]

Obama Passed Law Requiring Comprehensive Nuclear Threat Reduction Strategy To Secure Weapons And Usable Nuclear Material.

"Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) and Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) announced that a provision authored by Obama and Senator Hagel (R-NE) in the Senate and advanced by Schiff in the House requiring a comprehensive nuclear threat reduction plan passed as part of the omnibus appropriations bill. This provision requires the President to submit to Congress a comprehensive plan for ensuring that all nuclear weapons and weapons-usable material at vulnerable sites around the world are secure by 2012 from the threats that terrorists have shown they can pose. The Senate passed the omnibus appropriations bill last night and the House approved the same bill today. It will now be sent to the President to be signed into law…The Comprehensive Nuclear Threat Reduction provision requires the President to develop a strategy that will: ensure that all nuclear weapons and weapons-usable material at vulnerable sites around the world are secure by 2012 against the threats that terrorists have shown they can pose; ensure adequate accounting and security for such materials on an ongoing basis thereafter; include a plan for expanding the financial support and other assistance provided by other countries, particularly Russia, the European Union and its member states, China and Japan, for the purposes of securing nuclear weapons and weapons-usable material worldwide; and outline the progress in and impediments to securing an agreement from all countries that possess nuclear weapons or weapons-usable material on a set of global nuclear security standards, consistent with their obligation to comply with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540." [Obama Press Release, 12/20/07]

Obama Passed Legislation To Keep Weapons Of Mass Destruction Out Of The Hands Of Terrorists.

In 2006, Obama was an original co-sponsor of legislation to expand U.S. cooperation to destroy conventional weapons. It also expands the State Department's ability to detect and interdict weapons and materials of mass destruction. The legislation was included in an appropriations bill that was later signed into law by the president. [Congress, S. 2566, Placed on Senate Legislative Calendar under General Orders. Calendar No. 456, 5/25/06; Provisions included in H.R. 6060/P.L. 109-706]

Obama Passed Law to Promote Relief, Security, and Democracy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

In 2005, Obama sponsored the Democratic Republic of the Congo Relief, Security, and Democracy Promotion Act of 2006. The bill would set forth specified U.S. political, social, civil, and economic policy objectives (policy objectives) with respect to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and obligated a specified minimum amount of foreign assistance funding for FY2006-FY2007. [S.2125, 12/16/05, Become Public Law No: 109-456, 12/22/06]

Obama Passed Legislation Providing $25 Million In Funding For Avian Flu Research And Containment Efforts By U.S. Agencies In South East Asia.

"The amendment calls for greater investment in our preparedness efforts by providing more than $3 billion to build a stockpile of antiviral drugs and necessary medical supplies...Obama first introduced legislation in April requiring the United States to stockpile antiviral drugs...In May, Obama worked with a bipartisan group of Senators to appropriate the $25 million called for in the Foreign Assistance Act authorization bill. This money is currently being used by U.S. agencies in South East Asia to combat and contain possible outbreaks of avian flu." [Obama Press Release, 1/12/07]

When we think of the major threats to our national security, the first to come to mind are nuclear proliferation, rogue states and global terrorism. But another kind of threat lurks beyond our shores, one from nature, not humans - an avian flu pandemic. An outbreak could cause millions of deaths, destabilize Southeast Asia (its likely place of origin), and threaten the security of governments around the world.

Earlier this year, Dr. Julie L. Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, called the possibility of avian flu spreading from Southeast Asia "a very ominous situation for the globe." A killer flu could spread around the world in days, crippling economies in Southeast Asia and elsewhere. From a public health standpoint, Dr. Gerberding said, an avian flu outbreak is "the most important threat that we are facing right now."