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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 30, September 1998

1999 US Defense Budget Approved

On 1 October, Congress completed the process of approving the Fiscal Year (FY) 1999 US defence budget. The budget legislation will now be sent to President Clinton, who is expected to sign it without delay.

The total expenditure involved is $270.8 billion, made up of a $250.5 billion Defense Authorization Act and $21.3 billion to be spent by the Department of Energy (DOE), which has responsibility for the US nuclear-weapons stockpile and infrastructure. The $270.8 billion total represents an overall increase of $2.2 billion on FY 1998.

The 1999 budget includes:

  • $440 million for the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) program providing assistance in maintaining the safety and security of nuclear weapons and the military nuclear, and chemical and biological, infrastructure in the former Soviet Union - this sum includes $95 million to assist in the elimination of strategic nuclear weapons; $61 million to build a fissile-materials storage facility in Russia; and $88.4 million to assist in the destruction of Russian chemical weapons.
  • $52 million for various demining initiatives, $18.7 million for research into low-cost demining technologies, and $2 million for research into alternatives to landmines - the US is aiming to replace all its landmines by 2006, paving the way for its entry into the Ottawa Landmines Convention.
The Defence Authorization Act also stipulates that control over the granting of licenses for satellite exports should revert to the State Department from the Commerce Department by 15 March 1999. The move comes in the wake of controversy over US satellite exports to China, an issue currently the subject of numerous Congressional investigations (see Disarmament Diplomacy, No. 27 & Disarmament Diplomacy, No. 28). The Act also prohibits the export of satellites to China in the absence of Presidential certification that there is no risk of significant, militarily-useful technology transfer. US officials tried unavailingly to persuade Congress that sufficient safeguards were built into the existing system; reportedly, the Administration will continue to argue for a retention of the status quo.

The budget was approved by the House of Representatives on 28 September, which adopted the Defense Authorization portion by 369 votes to 43, and the DOE portion by 389 votes to 25. The Senate approved the Defence Authorization portion by 94 votes to 2 on 29 September, and the DOE portion on 1 October, by 96 votes to 2.

Reports: State may decide satellite exports, Associated Press, 18 September; House agrees to US defense programs for 1999, Reuters, 24 September; House OKs bills financing Pentagon, Associated Press, 28 September; Congressional Report, 30 September; Congress clears 1999 military programs, Reuters, 2 October.

© 1998 The Acronym Institute.

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