Nunn on Lugar: The Nation Needs Him More Than Ever
Richard Lugar’s legacy could come undone as the world enters a nuclear hair-trigger period, his former Senate partner warns.
Former Sen. Sam Nunn, a Democrat from Georgia, and former Sen. Richard Lugar, an Indiana Republican, developed one of the closest cross-aisle relationships in modern U.S. political history when they partnered in 1991 to pass a historic bill providing funds and expertise for the dismantling of nuclear, biological, and weapons stockpiles in the former Soviet Union. The Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, popularly known as Nunn-Lugar, ultimately was responsible for decommissioning at least 7,500 warheads. In 2015, Nunn and Lugar also came out in favor of the Iran nuclear deal, from which President Donald Trump has since withdrawn. The two former senators continued to work together against nuclear proliferation almost up until Lugar’s death on Sunday at age 87, Nunn told Foreign Policy in an interview—meeting with Trump and Vice President Mike Pence at the White House in June 2018 to talk about ways of adapting Nunn-Lugar methods to North Korea’s nuclear program, in the event a disarmament agreement was struck. What follows are excerpts from that interview.
Michael Hirsh is a columnist for Foreign Policy. He is the author of two books: Capital Offense: How Washington’s Wise Men Turned America’s Future Over to Wall Street and At War With Ourselves: Why America Is Squandering Its Chance to Build a Better World. Twitter: @michaelphirsh
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