On Sunday’s Meet the Press, host Tim Russert will be promoting a Ted Turned-backed Hollywood produced film on nuclear terrorism. Russert’s Meet the Press is even directing people to the film’s web site so they can get copies of the movie and contribute to the Turner-financed Nuclear Threat Initiative organization.
We’re sure Tim Russert thinks it is newsworthy and worthwhile to devote this “special edition” of Meet the Press to this topic. But it is also worth noting that the film “features an epilogue moderated by Tom Brokaw,” the former NBC Nightly News anchor.
AIM exposed the fallacies in the film in our May 27 Media Monitor. Please call the telephone number for NBC network news (202-885-4200), ask for Meet the Press, and ask politely that Tim Russert include the other side of the story, as reflected in our Media Monitor. The Meet the Press program, as advertised, will feature former Senator Nunn and Senator Richard Lugar, among others. They will make the questionable claim that the program has been effective in curtailing the spread of nuclear weapons and materials. As we say in our Media Monitor, “there are better ways to fight nuclear terrorism than send American tax dollars around the world to subsidize Russia.” Under the program, the U.S. has no direct access to Russian nuclear sites. Despite U.S. funding for “nuclear safety projects” in the former Soviet Union, the U.S. doesn’t know the extent of Russia’s nuclear cooperation with Iran. And under Nunn-Lugar, the U.S. may even be subsidizing it! For more on the dubious value of Nunn-Lugar in its early years, see Rich Kelly’s report. From 1991-2000, the U.S. spent about $400 million a year on the program. From 2000-2010, the U.S. will spend a projected $1 billion a year – or $10 billion overall. If the program is serving a valid purpose in Russia, why should American taxpayers underwrite it? Russia earned an estimated $86 billion in net oil export revenues during 2004, up from just $38 billion in 2001 [source]. Why shouldn’t Moscow pay? Nunn-Lugar has mainly been a foreign aid program for Russia, although now its supporters claim it can be effective in keeping nuclear weapons or materials out of the hands of terrorists. It doesn’t seem to be working in the case of Russian cooperation with Iran. This is just a new rationale for a dubious program.