Senate Approves Nuclear “Global Cleanout” Legislation Crafted With Kennedy School Support

May 21, 2004

The U.S. Senate unanimously approved legislation authorizing a nuclear “global cleanout” to remove potential bomb materials from vulnerable sites around the world as rapidly as possible, an approach conceived and advocated by a research team based at the Kennedy School of Government’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. 

The final legislation was co-sponsored by Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM), Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and a bipartisan group of senior members, and was introduced as an amendment to the defense authorization bill.  During the debate, both the chairman and the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee asked to be added as co-sponsors. 

Matthew Bunn, a senior research associate at the Belfer Center, worked closely with Feinstein in drafting the original version of the legislation, and then worked with Domenici and Feinstein in preparing the final bipartisan text.  The intent of the legislation is to coordinate and strengthen various efforts related to removing dangerous nuclear material from vulnerable sites while providing the authority needed to offer flexible incentives to convince each site to give up their nuclear material. The legislation is also aimed at filling key gaps between current programs.

Belfer Center researchers are optimistic that the Bush administration will formally declare its support for the legislation soon, which would make it likely the measure would become law later this year.

Bunn’s colleagues in this effort include John Holdren, Director of the Kennedy School’s Science, Technology and Public Policy Program, and Anthony Wier, Belfer Center Research Associate.

A number of groups in Washington contributed to the effort, Bunn says, and he added his thanks to them and “particularly to the Russian-American Nuclear Security Advisory Council, for their crucial efforts to push this through.”

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