Law, College of


Date of this Version



35 VA. J. INT’L L. 895 (1994-1995).


On December 12, 1991, President George Bush signed into law an unprecedented piece of legislation popularly referred to as the "Nunn-Lugar Act" in honor of the Act's principal sponsors, Senators Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar.1 The Act, which Congress has enlarged with subsequent legislation2 and funded with authorization and appropriations acts providing up to $1.6 billion over the course of four years,3 created a complicated legal and fiscal framework to use United States Department of Defense resources to provide assistance to states of the former Soviet Union in order to facilitate the demilitarization of the former Soviet Union's military facilities, technologies and capabilities and to help prevent the proliferation of weapons, weapons technology and weapons expertise from the former Soviet Union.4 In order for the U.S. Department of Defense to provide the assistance envisioned by the Nunn- Lugar legislation, a number of complex bilateral agreements have been negotiated and concluded with the states of the former Soviet Union. These "Nunn-Lugar" or "Cooperative Threat Reduction"5 (CTR) agreements have established a unique legal regime for delivering, using and auditing this assistance.6 Unlike other international agreements under which the United States may simply provide cash, loans or some other form of aid to a foreign country, these CTR agreements are designed and required to directly support specific U.S. national security objectives while complying with a complicated set of statutory restrictions and requirements.7

Although each of the newly independent states of the former Soviet Union could ultimately become eligible to receive CTR assistance,8 the Department of Defense has only provided such assistance to those countries where the former Soviet Union had based its nuclear weapons: Belarus, Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation and Ukraine. This allocation of assistance is based on the statutory requirement that the President certify that each recipient state is committed to six specific courses of action before it is actually eligible to receive CTR assistance.9 To date, the United States government has chosen to certify only the four republics on whose territory nuclear weapons were located.10 These certification requirements were the subject of intense debate in connection with the passage of the original 1991 Nunn-Lugar legislation, and the U.S. Congress recently approved additional requirements.11