Nunn, Lugar Fear WMD Pact Collapse

WASHINGTON -- The founders of a U.S. program to secure weapons of mass destruction in the former Soviet Union say they worry that deteriorating relations between the United States and Russia could undermine efforts to keep such weapons from terrorists.

U.S. Senator Richard Lugar and former Senator Sam Nunn say the two countries have continued working together to secure nuclear, chemical and biological weapons despite growing hostility after Russia's invasion of Georgia last month.

They said in separate interviews, however, that the spike in tensions heightens the risks of a breakdown in the arrangement under which the United States pays for the program.

"The Nunn-Lugar program has survived the very bad feelings between the U.S. and Russia before," said Nunn. He added, "History is full of examples where pride and dignity basically overruled self-interest."

The Nunn-Lugar Comprehensive Threat Reduction Act is credited with funding efforts helping Russia and other former Soviet republics to destroy, dismantle and secure thousands of nuclear warheads and other weapons of mass destruction.