Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction
The meaning of national security has changed dramatically over the course of the last twenty years. While well-trained, well-equipped armed forces will remain at the heart of any nation's preparedness against attack, what that force looks like, how it is equipped, who it is fighting, and where it fights, look increasingly different everyday. For instance, the end of the Cold War saw the emergence of new threats in globalized terrorism and piracy, as well as the destructive repercussions of civil wars, natural disasters, and state collapse.
Increasingly states are seeing the benefits of national security policies like the Nunn-Lugar Act of 1991, which perceived the potential threat of loose nuclear weapons in ex-Soviet states and moved to eradicate them before they fell into the wrong hands. But nuclear weapons aren't the only weapon of mass destruction that terrorist groups may get their hands on, and the ex-Soviet states aren't the only geographic source. Preventative measures like Nunn-Lugar will likely play a much larger role making the world a safer place.
In particular, Senator Richard Lugar has recently drawn attention to the potential biothreats haphazardly stored in laboratories and warehouses in a number of African states. Many of these labs serve valuable research and gene-bank services for the nations that operate them. However, the materials are not stored in such a way as to be safe to the people working with them, nor are they secure from theft. It is imperative that the American government, in an effort to protect itself, move to recognize the catastrophic potential these viruses and bacteria contain should they fall into the wrong hands.
In November of 2010, Senator Lugar led a delegation from the Department of Defense to three bioresearch facilities in East Africa (see pictures from the trip). These facilities, characterized by broken windows and short concrete walls, house dangerous diseases such as Ebola and Anthrax in common water bottles. Such poor security standards are a significant hazard to African countries as well as to the United States. In the wrong hands, these diseases could cause massive deaths at worst and widespread panic or disruption at best.
Recognizing the significant danger to the United States and Africa, Senator Lugar has geared the Nunn-Lugar Initiative to address this mutual security concern through partnerships with the governments of Uganda and Kenya (view more from the Office of Senator Lugar)