When it was first approved by Congress, the Nunn-Lugar legislation was aimed at securing the weapons of the collapsing Soviet Union -- nuclear, chemical and biological materials left over from the Cold War. Much work has been done over the last two decades, and now the program is expanding its horizons, with an emphasis on finding and containing biological threats. They're calling it Nunn-Lugar Global.
Next week, Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) and a group of Pentagon officials head to Africa, where they are planning to talk to governments about securing dangerous germs. Lugar was the original co-author of the legislation with former Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.)
They'll be inspecting laboratories in Kenya and Uganda. The labs are working on infectious disease diagnosis and treatment; the concern is that they may lack sufficient security, given the lethal potential of the pathogens inside. Lugar said in a statement that he hopes to build cooperation with the governments to upgrade security -- and put the bad stuff under a tighter seal. "Deadly diseases like Ebola, Marburg and Anthrax are prevalent in Africa," Lugar said. "Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups are active in Africa, and it is imperative that deadly pathogens stored in labs there are secure."
The Pentagon officials who will be travelling with Lugar include: Andy Weber, assistant to the secretary for nuclear, chemical and biological defense programs; Ken Handelman, acting assistant secretary for global strategic affairs, and Kenneth A. Myers III, director of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.
AFP/Getty Images. A doctor inspects a patient in Uganda after an Ebola outbreak in 2007.