Obama Notes NYC Nuclear Threat, And a Senator Lashes Security-Funding Cut

Global Security Newswire Staff
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Global Security Newswire Staff
March 27, 2014, 9:25 a.m.

A sen­at­or pressed to elim­in­ate a planned cut to New York City dis­aster-re­sponse funds after Pres­id­ent Obama al­luded to pos­sible nuc­le­ar threats to Man­hat­tan.

Sen­at­or Chuck Schu­mer (D-N.Y.) lashed the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment on Wed­nes­day for pro­pos­ing to cut loc­al “Se­cur­ing the Cit­ies” fund­ing by more than half in fisc­al 2015, drop­ping the an­nu­al budget from $11 mil­lion to $4.7 mil­lion. The pro­gram began in 2006 as a pi­lot ini­ti­at­ive to bol­ster New York City’s de­fenses against nuc­le­ar or ra­di­olo­gic­al at­tacks, and has since ex­pan­ded to the Los Angeles area.

The Home­land Se­cur­ity De­part­ment “must re­cog­nize the prob­lem with their de­cision and re­verse it im­me­di­ately,” Schu­mer said in a press re­lease. The state­ment says the pro­posed fund­ing re­duc­tion would “deal a ma­jor blow” to ra­di­ation-sensor activ­it­ies by loc­al law en­force­ment.

The plea came a day after Obama said that con­cerns about Rus­sia’s an­nex­a­tion of Ukraine’s Crimea re­gion are min­im­al when com­pared with the danger of a pos­sible nuc­le­ar strike.

“Rus­sia is a re­gion­al power that is threat­en­ing some of its im­me­di­ate neigh­bors,” Obama said on the second day of the 2014 Nuc­le­ar Se­cur­ity Sum­mit in The Hag­ue, Neth­er­lands. “I con­tin­ue to be much more con­cerned when it comes to our se­cur­ity with the pro­spect of a nuc­le­ar weapon go­ing off in Man­hat­tan.”

In a cla­ri­fic­a­tion, the White House on Wed­nes­day said Obama was not re­fer­ring to any spe­cif­ic threat to New York City.

“The pres­id­ent was not dis­cuss­ing in­tel­li­gence,” Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Coun­cil spokes­wo­man Caitlin Hay­den said in an e-mail to Bloomberg.

Still, Schu­mer seized on the pres­id­ent’s re­mark in his re­leased com­ments.

“As Pres­id­ent Obama cor­rectly noted, our biggest fear is a nuc­le­ar weapon go­ing off in New York City, so why would DHS want to cut fund­ing for such a vi­tal pro­gram here?” the sen­at­or said.

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