Obama calls on Russia to renew CTR pact

Sens. Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar, the men behind the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, were recently honored by President Barack Obama, who marked the occasion by calling on the Russians to renew the pact.

Russia, however, declared an intention to end the pact in October, DefenseNews.com reports.

Both nations could benefit by a renewal of the pact as threat reduction becomes a broader and more compelling matter. The Cooperative Threat Reduction program was behind the removal of nuclear weapons from former Soviet republics. As a result of the removal, thousands of strategic nuclear warheads were deactivated and huge stockpiles of chemical weapons were eliminated.

At the time, critics noted that the program cost taxpayers billions of dollars, but in the post-Sept. 11 world, such expenditures could prevent nuclear weapons, materials and technology from being acquired by terrorists. The Department of Defense spends approximately $500 million on CTR program annually, or less than 0.1 percent of the defense budget, but increasing that amount by an additional $500 million dollars could provide an exponential rate of return, according to DefenseNews.com.

While Russia mulls renewing the CTR, Pakistan, Afghanistan and countries in Africa and Southeast Asia are helping it to expand.

Additionally, the future of the CTR is not limited to WMDs. Iraq and Afghanistan are dealing with the pervasive use of improvised explosive devices, which have also become prevalent in Colombia and are emerging in Mexico.