THE HAGUE, Netherlands – U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar and former Sen. Sam Nunn were honored Wednesday for their role in helping ex-Soviet states secure and dismantle huge stocks of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.
The pair became the first recipients of a new prize, to be awarded every two years, to people or groups whose work prevents the proliferation of nuclear weapons and cuts the risk of their use.
The prize was awarded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York philanthropic foundation and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace think tank at a ceremony in the Peace Palace in The Hague. It will now carry the Americans' names — The Nunn-Lugar Award for Promoting Nuclear Security.
The two authored the Nunn-Lugar Act in 1991 which set up the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program that is credited with helping former Soviet republics such as Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan rid their territories of nuclear weapons.
Under the program, the U.S. provided reinforced rail cars to carry nuclear warheads, high-tech security systems for storage sites and help in dismantling mothballed nuclear subs.
Lugar is a Republican from Indiana who lost his re-election bid in May, ending a 36-year career in the U.S. Senate. Nunn is a Democrat who represented Georgia for 24 years until 1997.
In a statement, the Carnegie Corporation said the program the pair helped set up had "contributed to the deactivation of more than 7,500 nuclear warheads, neutralized chemical weapons, safeguarded fissile materials, converted weapons facilities for peaceful use, mitigated bio-threats, and redirected the work of former weapons scientists, and engineers, among other efforts."
Lugar called the program "a triumph measured in more than the hundreds of missiles, thousands of warheads, tons of chemical weapons, and scores of biological pathogens now under lock and key or destroyed. It has been the basis upon which the United States has found constructive means to engage former adversaries and new partners, united by a common vision and desire to detect and defeat new threats."