Reports of impending cuts to U.S.-funded non-proliferation programs in the former Soviet Union were confirmed April 9, when the administration released its fiscal year 2002 budget proposal. The White House is advocating sharp cuts to Energy Department programs but is apparently not seeking a change in overall funding for State Department threat reduction efforts. Information on funding for the Defense Department's Cooperative Threat Reduction program is not yet available, pending ongoing defense reviews.
The administration released a detailed Energy Department budget proposal that would cut cooperative nuclear security efforts by about a third, from fiscal year 2001 levels of $311 million to $211 million in 2002. These cuts include moderate to sharp funding reductions for a range of programs and a limited increase in one.
For example, proposed funding for material protection, control, and accounting efforts, which work to upgrade security at a range of vulnerable fissile-material and weapon-storage sites, was reduced from just under $170 million for 2001 to $138.8 million in 2002. The Nuclear Cities Initiative, which works to create alternate employment opportunities for scientists in Russia's nuclear complex, would be cut from $27 million in 2001 to $6.6 million in 2002. On the other side of the ledger, funding for the Second Line of Defense program—a fledgling effort initiated in 1998 to boost the Russian customs service's capability to detect illicit nuclear transfers across Russia's borders—is proposed at $4 million, a substantial increase over 2001 funding of $2.4 million.
Program-level budget hearings in congressional committees began in the final week of April, and there are signs of strong bipartisan support among lawmakers for reinstating at least some of the administration's proposed threat reduction cuts. In early May, final votes are expected on a House-Senate budget resolution containing overall spending limits but little programmatic detail. The appropriations process, in which funds are designated to specific programs, will intensify over the summer and could extend into the new fiscal year in the beginning of October, as has been the trend in recent years.