Slade Gorton is a former U.S. Senator, and was also a member of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (popularly known as the “9/11 Commission.” He is also a Senior Fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center.
Gorton writes an imported editorial in this week’s Tri-City Herald newspaper, warning of the effects of the current budget battles on key nonproliferation projects ensuring the safety of nuclear material:
“One very clear danger that remains is that of nuclear weapons material falling into the hands of terrorists, like al-Qaida and its affiliates. … We must not let that happen. With sequestration, tight budget times and partisan squabbling in Washington, D.C., these days, there is the danger of important programs that secure and dispose of nuclear material will be scaled back or eliminated.”
The Senator specifically references our work at the Savannah River site as an example of this:
“The National Nuclear Security Administration is building a MOX facility at the government’s Savannah River Site that will render the plutonium unusable in nuclear weapons or devices and convert it to fuel assemblies that will be burned in U.S. nuclear power reactors. Some want to delay this important plutonium disposition, which would be a critical mistake. Every dollar diverted delays the effort to get rid of plutonium, and every delay provides more time for the material to be stolen.”
He closes with this strong point:
“… the United States government must remain on guard for all threats. We also must continue to secure and dispose of dangerous nuclear weapons material. It is vital that we continue with the MOX Project to dispose of plutonium, and we need to find a way to renew HEU disposition efforts while minimizing uses for the material. Our children and grandchildren depend on it.”
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