Senator stresses need for new nuclear arms treaty

Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., discussed nuclear arms control and his personal role in working to dismantle weapons of mass destruction Monday night at the Elliott School of International Affairs.

The Indiana senator is the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and has consistently pushed to decrease the number of chemical, nuclear and biological weapons in the U.S. and abroad.

After the Soviet Union fell, Lugar and former Sen. Sam Nunn, D.-Ga., established the Nunn-Lugar program, which Lugar described as the two senators working “warhead by warhead” to destroy weapons.

At least 7,500 nuclear warheads have been destroyed as a result of the program, Lugar said.

When the former Soviet Union broke apart, weapons were “dispersed to various places,” he added.

“Any one of the nuclear warheads could have leveled the city of Indianapolis,” he said.

Afterward, the U.S. and Russia began working together to destroy the same weapons they had spent so much money to build, a situation that Lugar called “counter-intuitive.”

“For 40 years the U.S. and Russia had nuclear weapons aimed at each other,” Lugar said.

Lugar said a New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty – which would jointly reduce the U.S.’s and Russia’s nuclear stockpile – would be important to reestablish the U.S.’s relationship with Russia.

The first START treaty was signed in 1991 and expired in late December 2009.

Lugar said he believes the treaty will be ratified, but that it will not happen quickly, adding that this is “not a happy time in terms of people accommodating each other” in U.S. politics.

“I am hopeful that our country can continue to be a leader” in the reduction of nuclear weapons, Lugar said.

The College Republicans, International Affairs Society, and the Beta Theta Pi fraternity jointly sponsored the event. Lugar was a member of the fraternity when he was an undergraduate at Denison University.

Sinead Casey, public relations director of the College Republicans, added that she is looking “forward to seeing how the nuclear debate will unfold in Congress.”

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