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The following shows how concerns over Iraq's WMD are exagerated for political effect, and how U.S. defense policy is distorted as a consequence. The key points: (a) Nonproliferation efforts related to the former Soviet Union's arsenal are underfunded and snarled in red tape; (b) The threat represented by this arsenal is more immediate and consequential than anything known of Iraq; and (c) Because of U.S. inattention, efforts to secure the FSU arsenal have resorted to private funding, chiefly from CNN founder Ted Turner. The most dramatic annecdote comes from a recent raid to secure Belgrade's Vinca research reactor. On Aug. 22, a multi-national team removed 106 pounds of bomb-grade uranium (enough for two nuclear weapons) from Belgrade's insecure Vinca reactor for transit to a Russian mixdown site. To prevent the cargo from being hijacked, decoy trucks moved in a convoy while 1,200 police and rooftop snipers sealed the removal route. CNN-founder Ted Turner donated $5M for this effort, part of a larger $250M donation Turner made when U.S. nonproliferation funding languished. Just last year, the Administration proposed a $100 million cut in the nuclear nonproliferation budget (restored by Congress after Sep. 11). Even now, funding continues at levels far below that recommended by a bi-partisan panel. Operations such as those funded by Turner address the security of the FSU arsenal, and it's vulnerability to black-marketeering, terrorist assault, and simple theft. The risks are enormous, as non-state (hence non-deterrable) actors such as Al-Qaida, Chechen rebels, even Japan's Aum Shinrikyo cult have all made attempts to obtain nuclear material. The State Department site says, with diplomatic understatement: "The United States Government expresses its thanks to the Nuclear Threat Initiative, co-chaired by Ted Turner and Senator Sam Nunn for the funding provided by its foundation for an essential part of the project." Recent cost projections for an Iraq invasion exceed $200B, while nonproliferation efforts must rattle the cup. Defense contractors and the oil industry donít benefit from operations like Vinca, but the public does. Who holds the reins in Washington? Source material follows. Regards, Drew Hamre Golden Valley, MN USA === [Good general news source] http://news.yahoo.com/fc?tmpl=fc&cid=34&in=world&cat=nuclear_weapons [Vinca raid, 106 pounds of highly enriched uranium, decoy trucks, 1,200 troops] - See the State Department statement and accompanying fact sheet, "Project Vinca: Highly Enriched Uranium Removed from Belgrade Reactor in a Multinational Public - Private Project", released August 23, 2002 http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2002/12962.htm http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2002/12961.htm See NTI's press release (PDF) "NTI Commits $5 Million To Help Secure Nuclear Material", August 23, 2002 http://www.nti.org/c_press/c_index.html#pressreleases See also CDI's recap at http://www.cdi.org/terrorism/smallstep-pr.cfm [Ted Turner's foundation of NTI] - See "Turner, Nunn Unveil 'Nuclear Threat Initiative'", by Vernon Loeb, Washington Post, Tuesday, January 9, 2001; Page A18 http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A33779-2001Jan8?language=printer [Languishing nonproliferation funding] - On proposed nonproliferation budget cuts, see the Carnegie Endowment summary ("Nonproliferation Programs Face Major Budget Cuts", March 20, 2001) at http://www.ceip.org/files/nonprolif/templates/article.asp?NewsID=403 Also see http://www.cdi.org/terrorism/smallstep-pr.cfm On current spending rates, see "Nuclear Dangers Beyond Iraq", NYTimes, by MICHAEL LEVI, September 23, 2002 http://www.nytimes.com/2002/09/23/opinion/23LEVI.html?pagewanted=print&position=top [Groups seeking fissile material] - Well covered elsewhere, but per Aum group see "The Demand for Black Market Fissile Material", by Matthew Bunn, STPP Assistant Director, Harvard University's Managing the Atom Project, November 06, 2001 http://www.ceip.org/files/nonprolif/templates/article.asp?NewsID=1731 [The good guys: Senators Lugar, Domenici, and (former Sen.) Nunn] http://lugar.senate.gov/071702a.html [Efforts to secure chemical weapons face similar hurdles] http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/editorials/la-ed-weapons7oct07,0,5377801.story?coll=la%2Dnews%2Dcomment%2Deditorials http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2002-09-30-russian-weapons-1acover_x.htm 10/01/2002 Plan to destroy Russian weapons nears collapse By Peter Eisler, USA TODAY WASHINGTON ó The U.S. government has spent $230 million trying to build a Russian plant to destroy thousands of tons of deadly chemical munitions from the old Soviet arsenal. This month, unless Congress acts, the Pentagon will begin closing down the project without laying a single brick ó or eliminating a single weapon. ... _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. 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