The National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction issued in December 2002 cites possession of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) by hostile states and terrorists as one of the greatest security challenges facing the United States and commits the United States to pursue a comprehensive strategy to counter this threat.

The mission of the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) program supports national security strategy by pursuing objectives to prevent the proliferation of WMD and related materials, technologies and expertise from former Soviet Union states.

Originally sponsored by Sen. Richard Lugar and former Sen. Sam Nunn, the CTR program also reduced nuclear proliferation threats by helping former Soviet republics meet arms control treaty requirements like START – the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. With CTR funding, Kazakhstan became a non-nuclear weapons state in April 1995, followed by Ukraine in June 1996, and Belarus in November 1996.

Under an expansion of the program, Nunn-Lugar funds were authorized for the first time outside the former Soviet Union when Albania requested assistance to destroy its chemical weapons on 2004. The successful cooperative effort was a milestone that marked the first time in history that any nation completely eliminated its stockpile of chemical weapons.

While the initial focus of the CTR program was on the most pressing nuclear proliferation threats, program funding also was directed toward improving the physical protection, safety and security of facilities that housed dangerous bio-agents under the cooperative Biological Threat Reduction program.

The CTR program has accomplished much since its creation. The program has deactivated more than 7,500 nuclear warheads, neutralized chemical weapons, safeguarded fissile materials, converted weapons facilities for peaceful use, mitigated bio-threats, and redirected the work of former weapons scientists and engineers, among other efforts.