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Another focus on Capitol Hill should be fully funding the Global Threat Reduction Initiative, which was cut by 30 percent in the president’s budget released this month. Pound for pound, no program has done more to prevent nuclear terrorism. In March 2012, the program secured highly enriched uranium from Ukraine, ensuring that state was free of all weapons-usable nuclear material well before the recent turmoil. Just months before the December carjacking in Mexico, the program successfully recovered Colbalt-60 in Ciudad Juarez, returning it to the United States for safekeeping.
With each dollar cut in this and other nonproliferation programs, America is retreating, not leading the effort to prevent nuclear terror. Congress should restore funding to this and other nonproliferation programs that have fallen under the shortsighted axe of budget cuts.
Preventing one of the major threats of our time currently relies on a voluntary mishmash of security arrangements — we can and should do much better. Bolder action is needed to strengthen the persistent weak links in the chain to prevent the world’s most dangerous materials from falling into the wrong hands. Congress must now rise to the challenge. There is much work to be done.
Alexandra Toma is executive director of the Peace and Security Funders Group and founder of the Fissile Materials Working Group, a coalition of more than 70 bipartisan non-governmental organizations. Major General George A. Buskirk served in the National Guard from 1978-2004 and is adjunct general for the Indiana Army and Air National Guard.