Lost in the hullabaloo over the administration's commitment to spend $5 billion over 5 years on managing and modernizing the nuclear stockpile are significant budget increases for nonproliferation activities. The total request for the 2011 fiscal year is $2.7 billion, up nearly a quarter -- or $551 million from the past year.
The United States's National Nuclear Security Agency (NNSA) has the largest nonproliferation budget in the world. Programs include the Global Threat Reduction Initiative, which saw its budget increase by 67%. This money pays for the multi-agency teams that travel around the world securing loose nuclear material and shipping it back to the U.S. or to Russia. These are the front-line warriors in the nonproliferation game -- the "white" ops part of it.
There is a 47 percent increase for Fissile Materials Disposition (+$328.8 M), including $100 million of a $400 million commitment to support Russian plutonium disposition activities.
There's even a 10 percent increase in Nonproliferation Verification research and development.
The administration, led by Vice President Joe Biden, is working to reconfigure the way America projects its nuclear deterrent and its commitment to "global zero," a goal that President Obama endorsed in Prague last rear.
Thomas D'Agostino, the head of the NNSA, said that the budget "makes it clear" that the Obama administration "will do its part" to reduce the nuclear threat worldwide. The U.S. and Russia will soon announce a follow-on to the START treaty, and the administration is finishing its own nuclear posture blueprint, which includes the sometimes uncomfortable marriage of maintaining a deterrent and moving towards the goal of ridding the world of nuclear weapons.
Today, a group of 40 nuclear security experts called on Congress to fund the nonproliferation programs. Ken Luongo, the chair of the Fissile Materials Working Group, praised the administration's budget increase request.
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is a contributing editor at The Atlantic
. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One
, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week