Good morning. As some of you know, Senator Lugar
and I recently traveled to Russia, Ukraine, and Azerbaijan to witness
firsthand both the progress we're making in securing the world's
most dangerous weapons, as well as the serious challenges that lie
Now, few people understand these challenges better
than the co-founder of the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program,
Dick Lugar, and this is something that became particularly clear
to me during one incident on the trip.
We were in Ukraine, visiting a pathogen laboratory
in Kiev. This is a city of two and a half million, and in a non-descript
building right in the middle of town stood this facility that once
operated on the fringes of the Soviet biological weapons program.
We entered through no fences or discernible security,
and once we did, we found ourselves in a building with open first-floor
windows and padlocks that many of us would not use to secure our
Our guide then brought us right up to what looked
like a mini-refrigerator. Inside, staring right at us, were rows
upon rows of test tubes. She picked them up, clanked them around,
and we listened to the translator explain what she was saying. Some
of the tubes, he said, were filled with anthrax. Others, the plague.
At this point I turned around and said "Hey,
where's Lugar? Doesn't he want to see this?" I found him standing
about fifteen feet away, all the way in the back of the room. He
looked at me and said, "Been there, done that."
Of course, Dick has been there and he has done that,
and thanks to the Cooperative Threat Reduction Programs he co-founded
with Senator Sam Nunn, we've made amazing progress in finding, securing,
and guarding some of the deadliest weapons that were left scattered
throughout the former Soviet Union after the Cold War.
But this is one story that shows our job is far
from finished at a time when demand for these weapons has never
Right now, rogue states and despotic regimes are
looking to begin or accelerate their own nuclear programs. And as
we speak, members of Al Qaeda and other terrorists organizations
are aggressively pursuing weapons of mass destruction, which they
would use without hesitation.
We've heard the horror stories - attempts by rogue
states to recruit former Soviet weapons scientists; terrorists shopping
for weapons grade materials on the black market. Some weapons experts
believe that terrorists are likely to find enough fissile material
to build a bomb in the next ten years - and we can imagine with
horror what the world will be like if they succeed.
Today, experts tell us that we're in a race against
time to prevent this scenario from unfolding. And that is why the
nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons within the borders of
the former Soviet Union represent the greatest threat to the security
of the United States - a threat we need to think seriously and intelligently
about in the months to come.
Fortunately, the success of Cooperative Threat Reduction
- especially in securing nuclear weapons - serves as a model of
how we can do this. And so the question we need to be asking ourselves
today is, what is the future of this program? With the situation
in Russia and the rest of the former Soviet Union so drastically
different than it was in 1991, or even in 1996 or 2001, what must
we do to effectively confront this threat in the days and years
The answers to these questions will require sustained
involvement by the Executive Branch, Congress, non-governmental
organizations, and the international community. Everyone has a role
to play, and everyone must accelerate this involvement.
For my part, I would suggest three important elements
that should be included in such a discussion.
First, the Nunn-Lugar program should be more engaged
in containing proliferation threats from Soviet-supplied, civilian
research reactors throughout Russia and the Independent States.
The Department of Energy and others have certainly
made progress in converting civilian reactors to low-enriched uranium,
taking back spent fuel, and closing unnecessary facilities.
Yet, a serious threat still remains. Many of these
aging research facilities have the largest, least secure quantities
of highly enriched uranium in the world - the quickest way to a
nuclear weapon. For a scientist or other employee to simply walk
out of the lab with enough material to construct a weapon of mass
destruction is far too easy, and the consequences would be far too
devastating. Not to mention the environmental and public health
and safety catastrophe that could come from a failure to store and
transport these materials safely and securely.
In a way that balances the needs of science and
security, more needs to be done to bring these materials - as well
as other sources that can be used to construct improvised nuclear
weapons and radiological devices -- under control and dramatically
reduce the proliferation threat they pose.
In the years ahead, this should become an increasing
priority for the Nunn-Lugar program, the Congress, and the Russians,
who are already taking important steps to help implement these programs.
I want to turn to a second critical area: biological
weapons threat reduction programs.
Throughout the Cold War, the Soviet Union was engaged
in a massive undertaking in the field of germ warfare.
At its height in the late 1980's, this program stockpiled
of some of the most dangerous agents known to man - plague, smallpox,
and anthrax - to name just a few. As one book says, "disease
by the ton was its industry."
Besides the devastation they can cause to a civilian
population, biological agents can also be effective in asymmetrical
warfare against U.S. troops. While they are often difficult to use,
they are easy to transport, hard to detect, and, as we saw in Kiev,
not always well secured.
Here in Washington, we saw what happened when just
two letters filled with just a few grams of Anthrax were sent to
the U.S. Senate. Five postal employees were killed and the Senate
office buildings were closed for months.
This was two letters.
Fortunately, however, we've made some good progress
on this front. For years, Nunn-Lugar programs have been effectively
upgrading security at sites in six countries across the former Soviet
Union. And the Kiev story is heading in the right direction - while
we were in Ukraine, Dick, through his tireless and personal intervention,
was able to achieve a breakthrough with that government, bringing
that facility and others under the Cooperative Threat Reduction
But because of the size, secrecy, and scope of the
Soviet biological weapons program, we are still dangerously behind
in dealing with this proliferation threat. We need to be sure that
Nunn-Lugar is increasingly focused on these very real non-proliferation
and bioterrorism threats.
One of the most important steps is for Russia to
permit the access and transparency necessary to deal with the threat.
Additional steps should also be taken to consolidate
and secure dangerous pathogen collections, strengthen bio-reconnaissance
networks to provide early warning of bio-attack and natural disease
outbreaks, and have our experts work together to develop improved
medical countermeasures. As the Avian Influenza outbreak demonstrates,
even the zealous Russian border guard is helpless against the global
sweep of biological threats.
My third recommendation - which I'll just touch
briefly on and let Senator Lugar talk about in more detail - is
that we need to start thinking creatively about some of the next-generation
efforts on nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.
On our trip, we saw two areas where this is possible:
elimination of heavy conventional weapons, and interdiction efforts
to help stop the flow of dangerous materials across borders.
In Donetsk, I stood among piles of conventional
weapons that were slowly being dismantled. While the government
of Ukraine is making progress here, the limited funding they have
means that at the current pace, it will take sixty years to dismantle
these weapons. But we've all seen how it could take far less time
for these weapons to leak out and travel around the world, fueling
insurgencies and violent conflicts from Africa to Afghanistan. By
destroying these inventories, this is one place we could be making
more of a difference.
One final point. For any of these efforts that I've
mentioned to work as we move forward, we must also think critically
and strategically about Washington's relationship with Moscow.
Right now, there are forces within the former Soviet
Union and elsewhere that want these non-proliferation programs to
stop. Our detention for three hours in Perm is a testament to these
forces. Additionally, in the last few years, we've seen some disturbing
trends from Russia itself - the deterioration of democracy and the
rule of law, the abuses that have taken place in Chechnya, Russian
meddling in the former Soviet Union - that raise serious questions
about our relationship.
But when we think about the threat that these weapons
pose to our global security, we cannot allow the U.S.-Russian relationship
to deteriorate to the point where Russia does not think it's in
their best interest to help us finish the job we started. We must
safeguard these dangerous weapons, material, and expertise. .
One way we could strengthen this relationship is
by thinking about the Russians as more of a partner and less of
a subordinate in the Cooperative Threat Reduction effort.
This does not mean that we should ease up one bit
on issues affecting our national security. Outstanding career officials
who run the Nunn-Lugar program -- people like Col. Jim Reid and
Andy Weber who are here this morning -- will be there every step
of the way to ensure that U.S. interests are protected.
Time and time again on the trip, I saw their skill
and experience when negotiating with the Russians. I also saw their
ability to ensure that shortcomings were addressed and programs
were implemented correctly.
But thinking of the Russians more as partners does
mean being more thoughtful, respectful, and consistent about what
we say and what we do. It means that the Russians can and should
do more to support these programs. And it means more sustained engagement,
including more senior-level visits to Nunn-Lugar program sites.
It's important for senior officials to go and visit
these sites, to check their progress and shortcomings; to see what's
working and what's not. But lately we haven't seen many of these
visits. We need to see more.
We also need to ensure that the Cooperative Threat
Reduction umbrella agreement, due to expire in 2006, is renewed
in a timely manner.
And we need to work together to obtain a bilateral
agreement on biological threat reduction.
There is no doubt that there is a tough road ahead.
It will be difficult. And it will be dangerous.
But, when I think about what is at stake I am reminded
by a quote from the late President Kennedy given in a speech at
American University in 1963 about threats posed by the Soviet Union.
"Let us not be blind to our differences--but let us also direct
attention to our common interests and to the means by which those
differences can be resolved...For in the final analysis, our most
basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all
breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And
we are all mortal.''
Much of what President Kennedy described in 1963
remains true to this day - and we owe it to ourselves and our children
to get it right.