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Updated: January 30, 2010 13:01 IST

Obama to seek more funds to secure N-arsenal

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President Barack Obama speaks to Republican members at the GOP House Issues Conference in Baltimore on Friday.
AP
President Barack Obama speaks to Republican members at the GOP House Issues Conference in Baltimore on Friday.

The Obama Administration will ask the U.S. Congress for a hike in budgetary allocation for securing and maintaining the country’s nuclear stockpile.

U.S. President Barack Obama, when he submits his budgetary proposal to the Congress, will ask for $7 billion for maintaining nuclear-weapons stockpile and related efforts.

This is $600 million more than Congress approved last year.

Over the next five years, the Administration intends to boost funding for these important activities by over $5 billion, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said in an op-ed published in The Wall Street Journal.

“This investment is long overdue. It will strengthen our ability to recruit, train and retain the skilled people we need to maintain our nuclear capabilities. It will support the work of our nuclear labs, a national treasure that we must and will sustain,” Mr. Biden argued.

Mr. Biden said many of U.S. facilities date back to World War II and put safety and environmental challenges.

“Increased funding now will eventually enable considerable savings on both security and maintenance. It also will allow us to clean up and close down production facilities we no longer need,” he said.

Among the many challenges the Obama Administration inherited was the slow but steady decline in support for U.S. nuclear stockpile and infrastructure, and for its highly trained nuclear work force, he said.

“The stockpile, infrastructure and work force played a critical and evolving role in every stage of our nuclear experience, from the Manhattan Project to the present day. Once charged with developing even more powerful weapons, they have had a new mission in the 18 years since we stopped conducting nuclear tests. That is to maintain the strength of the nuclear arsenal,” Mr. Biden said.

For almost a decade, our laboratories and facilities have been underfunded and undervalued, he said.

“Last year, the Strategic Posture Commission led by former Defence Secretaries William Perry and James Schlesinger warned that our nuclear complex requires urgent attention,” he said, adding Mr. Obama’s budget proposals to be submitted to the Congress on Monday reverses this decline and enables U.S. to implement the President’s nuclear-security agenda.

These goals are intertwined. The same skilled nuclear experts who maintain our arsenal play a key role in guaranteeing our country’s security now and for the future, he said, adding that state-of-the-art facilities, and highly trained and motivated people “allow us to maintain our arsenal without testing.”

“They will help meet the President’s goal of securing vulnerable nuclear materials world-wide in the coming years, and enable us to track and thwart nuclear trafficking, verify weapons reductions, and to develop tomorrow’s cutting-edge technologies for our security and prosperity,” Mr. Biden said.

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