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Angie Drobnic Holan
By Angie Drobnic Holan July 15, 2008

Obama-Lugar measure included weapons of mass destruction

In a new television ad, Sen. Barack Obama makes the case for America leading international efforts to control nuclear weapons.

"The single most important national security threat that we face is nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists," Obama says in the ad. "What I did was reach out to Sen. Dick Lugar, a Republican, to help lock down loose nuclear weapons. We have to lead the entire world to reduce that threat. We can restore America's leadership in the world."

We checked into Obama's legislative record with Sen. Lugar, a Republican from Indiana.

Obama's first foreign travel as a U.S. senator was with Lugar in August 2005, when the two men visited nuclear weapons storage and dismantlement facilities in Russia, Ukraine and Azerbaijan.

The following spring, Lugar and Obama authored a Senate bill that authorized the president to carry out a program to provide assistance to foreign countries to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The bill does not specifically list different types of weapons of mass destruction, but we'll take as a given that it includes nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

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The larger part of the legislation was a separate measure to stop the spread of conventional weapons, notably shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles that the legislation refers to as man-portable air defense systems, or MANPADS.

The bill's provisions were incorporated into a House bill that passed later that year and was signed into law in January 2007.

The Lugar-Obama initiative is modeled after a 1991 bill authored by Lugar and former Democratic Sen. Sam Nunn. The Nunn-Lugar program provided U.S. funding and expertise to the former Soviet Union to dismantle stockpiles of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

We'll note here that the legislation Obama and Lugar sponsored did not deal solely with nuclear weapons, but rather with all weapons of mass destruction, and that a good bit of their legislation focused on conventional weapons. But it does seem like part of the legislation's intent is to "help lock down loose nuclear weapons." For that reason, we find Obama's statement to be True.

Our Sources

Thomas, Public Law 109-472 (HR 6060) , became law Jan. 11, 2007

Thomas, S.2566: A bill to provide for coordination of proliferation interdiction activities and conventional arms disarmament, and for other purposes, introduced April 6, 2006

Barack Obama Senate office, Lugar-Obama Nonproliferation Legislation Signed into Law by the President , Jan. 11, 2007

Richard Lugar Senate office, Lugar-Obama Signed into Law , Jan. 11, 2007

Barack Obama Senate office, Lugar-Obama Bill to Keep Weapons Out of Terrorists' Hands Passes Congress , Dec. 11, 2006

Los Angeles Times, U.S.-Russian Efforts to Protect Arsenal Gain Steam , Aug. 27, 2005

Washington Post, Junkyard Dogs of War , by Richard Lugar and Barack Obama, Dec. 3, 2005

Richard Lugar Senate office, Obama, Lugar Secure Funding for Implementation of Nonproliferation Law , June 28, 2007

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