Nuclear Nonproliferation: Coordination of U.S. Programs Designed to Reduce the Threat Posed by Weapons of Mass Destruction

GAO-02-180T Published: Nov 14, 2001. Publicly Released: Nov 14, 2001.
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This testimony discusses GAO's recent work on U.S. nonproliferation programs and comments on S. 673--a bill to establish an interagency committee to review and coordinate such programs. GAO found that the U.S. programs have achieved some success, but more needs to be done to keep nuclear weapons, materials, and technologies out of the hands of terrorists and countries of concern. Furthermore, questions exist about how to sustain the security improvements being made. The Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of State programs to employ weapons scientists face difficulty in conclusively demonstrating that they are preventing the spread of weapons-related knowledge and expertise. With respect to S. 673, there is some debate among officials about the need for more coordination of U.S. nonproliferation programs. On the basis of the findings of two independent commissions that recently examined these programs, GAO believes that more coordination would be helpful and that the legislation could serve as a vehicle to share information and best practices for addressing problems GAO identified. S. 673 could be strengthened by mandating development of an overarching strategic plan that clearly identifies overall goals, time frames for meeting those goals, and ways to set priorities for allocating resources to address U.S. nonproliferation concerns.

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