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Indiana Senators Discuss Future Of Nunn-Lugar Program

Todd Young, left, joined Sen. Richard Lugar and ____ for a panel discussion Friday afternoon.

Former U.S. Sen. Richard G. Lugar and two of his successors representing Indiana held a panel Friday to discuss their efforts to continue to secure chemical and nuclear weapons.

Senator elect Todd Young (R) joined Lugar at Indiana University's Global and International Studies Building, and Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) joined the discussion via Skype.

The public symposium celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, which has deactivated over 7,600 nuclear warheads.

The Nunn-Lugar program began with the enactment of the Soviet Threat Reduction act, authored by Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Georgia., and then Sen. Lugar, R-Indiana, in Dec. 1991. The senators established the program after the Cold War to aid the former Soviet states in dismantling their weapons of mass destruction and nuclear arsenals.

"Clearly there is a need for continued oversight of this program so it remains relevant in Congress. And it is important to educate and remind people of its relevance."

Lee A. Feinstein, Dean of the School of Global and International Studies, moderated the discussion.

Donnelly, the lead democrat in the U.S. Senate overseeing non-proliferation programs, says he and others are working to ensure that the Nunn-Lugar program continues to be as effective in keeping the world safe as it has been in the past.

"Every effort fueled by the Nunn-Lugar Program entails shoulder-to-shoulder cooperation by the United States and its host nation," Donnelly says.

Sen.-elect Todd Young says with terrorist organizations like ISIS and threats regarding nuclear weapons in North Korea, these efforts are especially relevant in today's environment.

"Clearly there is a need for continued oversight of this program so it remains relevant in Congress," he says. "And it is important to educate and remind people of its relevance."

Lugar emphasized the importance of moving forward with the program.

"We still have problems with states trying to build nuclear weapons, mainly North Korea," he says. "This is a world that that still has dangers. I think it's important that the United States be diligent in working with countries that have been listed, for instance, by the Nuclear Threat Initiative."

But due to tension between the U.S. and Russia, Young says he and other government officials will face challenges moving forward with the Nunn-Lugar Program.

"There's a misalignment in objectives and in strategic interests right now, it appears, between the U.S. and Russia," he says. "It's gonna take some real persuasive power."

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