Senator Richard Lugar was an American foreign policy giant. As a member and twice Chairman of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Lugar was a familiar point of contact and a mandatory stop when visiting Washington DC, for the European foreign policy community.
But first and foremost Senator Lugar was known and revered for his concrete and sustained actions to rid Europe’s neighborhood of nuclear arms after the Cold War. America and Europe became safer and more secure as a result of his work.
Together with Senator Nunn he created the innovative and visionary Cooperative Threat Reduction Program which eliminated nuclear arms from Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan and considerably reduced their number in Russia. The program emphasized the safe storage and account of all nuclear material. It contributed to converting weapons facilities for peaceful use and to redirecting the work of former weapons scientists and engineers to avoid that they went rogue with their expertise. Moreover, the program pioneered a culture of working together with other governments, also adversaries, to reduce the threats of weapons of mass destruction. Several European governments contributed with financing and experts to parts of the program which lasted several decades. The EU is still a founding member of the International Science and Technology Center (ISTC), which was set up to engage scientists from the former Soviet Union in peaceful applications.
But Senator Lugar’s vision was larger than the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, as he continually stressed it is vital that we break new ground in safeguarding and destroying weapons of mass destruction. He saw the Nunn-Lugar Act as an engine of nonproliferation cooperation and expertise that can be applied around the world — in his words “a concept through which we, as leaders, are responsible for the welfare of our children and grandchildren, as we attempt to take control of the global threat.”
The European Union is a staunch supporter of the multilateral system as a vehicle for non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. As the EU High Representative for Foreign Policy Federica Mogherini said when she presented the EU’s Global Security Strategy: We have learnt the lesson: my neighbour’s and my partner’s weaknesses are my own weaknesses. So we will invest in win-win solutions, and move beyond the illusion that international politics can be a zero-sum game.
We Europeans are eternally grateful for the work of Senator Lugar and are honored to be present when he is laid to rest.
By Caroline Vicini, Deputy Head of Delegation, Delegation of the European Union to the United States