Norton Files Nuclear Disarmament Bill as First Action to Stop Spread of Nuclear Materials Begins
March 29, 2007

Washington, DC-As Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) reintroduced the Nuclear Disarmament and Economic Conversion Act of 2007 (NDECA) today, she welcomed the expected decision this week by the world's only disarmament forum to start talks on banning production of nuclear bomb-making material.  Norton has introduced this bill every year, after working with peace activists in the District of Columbia, who initiated a successful ballot initiative supported by D.C. voters in 1993.  Norton said that the action by the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva is a welcome sign that nations understand the need to act on new and dangerous forms of nuclear proliferation.  The actions at the Conference reinforce the underlying premise of her bill that the strong actions toward nuclear disarmament must resume so that the United States and other nations can focus on domestic needs.

NDECA would require the United States to disable and dismantle its nuclear weapons when all other nations possessing nuclear weapons enact laws to do the same.  The bill provides that when our nuclear weapons are dismantled, the resources used to support nuclear weapon programs would be diverted for growing human and infrastructure needs, such as housing, health care, Social Security and the environment.

A member of the Homeland Security Committee, Norton is concerned that nuclear proliferation and available nuclear fissile material are more dangerous in the post 9/11 era than when she first introduced this bill. She said that as countries such as Iran, North Korea, China, Pakistan and India have acquired nuclear weapons, "it is more urgent than ever to begin damping down nuclear capability here and around the world."

Norton said that among the nation's most urgent domestic priorities were 45 million people still without health insurance, an economy burdened with a dangerous deficit, millions of Americans pushed back into poverty since 2000, and a long list of other urgent domestic needs put on the back burner following the invasion of Iraq and large tax cuts for wealthy people and corporations.  Norton said, "Considering that the United States is the only nation that has used nuclear weapons in war and still possesses the largest arsenal, this country has an obligation to begin the arduous process of leading the world in the transfer of nuclear weapons funds to urgent domestic needs."  "Fortunately," the Congresswoman said, "House Democrats are beginning to fill some of the large gaps in domestic spending.  Today the House passed a budget to reverse six years of harmful cuts, beginning with adjusting priorities, expanding and improving health care and education for our children, investing in the workforce, our military and veterans, and growing the economy."  In the absence of years of presidential leadership, she said, there must be a fast forward approach in Congress to address the needs of the average American, while protecting them from nuclear proliferation.

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