Norton Files Nuclear Disarmament Bill to Implement D.C. Ballot Initiative
March 19, 2009
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today introduced a bill that would require the United States to disable and dismantle its nuclear weapons when all other nations possessing nuclear weapons enact laws to do the same. The bill calls for using nuclear weapons resources instead for growing human and infrastructure needs such as healthcare, housing, Social Security and the environment. The Congresswoman has been introducing this bill, "Nuclear Disarmament and Economic Conversion Act" (NDECA), since 1994, after working with the residents who were responsible for a ballot initiative on this subject, passed by D.C. voters in 1993.
"I will introduce the NDECA preceding the March 20th memorial service for William Thomas, who sat in front of the White House in an anti-nuclear vigil for nearly 28 years," Norton said. "His efforts have been called the longest uninterrupted war protest in U.S. history. William truly devoted his life to the goals of this bill."
The Congresswoman notes that, rather than nuclear disarmament, nations have increased the nuclear arms race. Iran has failed to halt uranium enrichment, China has grown its nuclear weaponry, and today North Korea continues testing long-range missiles and has likely also acquired a nuclear device. India and Pakistan, both nuclear powers, continue to fight over the Kashmir region, with recent terrorist strikes in India. Importantly, she notes, the invasion of Iraq has cost the United States much of its leadership on nonnuclear-proliferation. The U.S. moved in the right direction, she says, when the Senate ratified the Moscow Treaty in 2003, which provides that by 2012 both the U.S. and Russia will reduce their long-range warheads by two-thirds from approximately 6,000 warheads each to 2,200. The Congresswoman said, "The Bush Administration failed to build on this effort, and we must make up for lost ground."
See Norton's full introduction attached:
Introduction of Nuclear Disarmament and Economic Conversion Act of 2009
Ms. Norton. Madam Speaker,
Today, I am again introducing the Nuclear Disarmament and Economic Conversion Act (NDECA), as I have done since 1994, after working with the residents who were responsible for a ballot initiative passed by D.C. voters in 1993. NDECA requires the United States to disable and dismantle its nuclear weapons when all other nations possessing nuclear weapons enact laws to do the same. NDECA further provides that when U.S. nuclear weapons are dismantled, the resources for supporting nuclear weapon programs would be used for our growing human and infrastructure needs, such as housing, health care, Social Security and the environment.
The invasion of Iraq cost the United States much of its leadership on nuclear proliferation and other urgent international issues. This country reached a non-credible status in dissuading other nations who aspire to become or remain nuclear powers as we ourselves took greater initiative in increasing our own nuclear weapons program. We moved in the right direction when the Senate ratified the Moscow Treaty in 2003, which provides that by 2012 both the U.S. and Russia will reduce their long-range warheads by two-thirds from approximately 6,000 warheads each to 2,200. However, the Bush administration failed to build on this effort. According to the study, "Securing The Bomb: An Agenda for Action" (May, 2004; prepared by the Belfer Center, Harvard University Kennedy School of Government): "Total nuclear-threat-reduction spending remains less than one quarter of one percent of the U.S. military budget. Indeed, on average, the Bush administration requests for nuclear-threat-reduction spending over FY 2002 - 2005 were less, in real terms, than the last Clinton administration request, made long before the 9/11 attacks ever occurred." Instead, the Bush administration moved to increase the country's nuclear capacity.
However, the problem today is even more complicated than nuclear disarmament by nation states. The greatest threat today is from inadequately defended and guarded sites in many countries where there is enough material to make nuclear weapons and many opportunities for terrorists or nations without weapons to secure nuclear materials. Astonishingly, because of the previous administration's absence of leadership, less nuclear material was seized in the two years following the 9/11 attacks than in the two years immediately preceding the attacks ("Securing The Bomb: An Agenda for Action", May 2004).
In my work on the Homeland Security Committee, I know that threats from nuclear proliferation and available nuclear material are more dangerous in the post 9/11 era than in 1994, when I first introduced the Nuclear Disarmament and Economic Conversion Act. It is more urgent than ever to begin closing down nuclear capability here and around the world.
Today, our country has a hobbled economy, 45 million people still without health insurance, a long list of other urgent domestic needs put on the back burner following the invasion of Iraq, large tax cuts for wealthy people and corporations, and millions of Americans losing their homes and jobs. As the only nation that has used nuclear weapons in war, and still possesses the largest arsenal, the U.S. has an obligation to begin the arduous process of leading the world in the transfer of nuclear weapons funds to urgent domestic needs.