January 29, 2010 / 1:47 AM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 1-Biden: U.S. budget to seek nuclear funds increase

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WASHINGTON, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Vice President Joe Biden said President Barack Obama’s budget proposal will include $7 billion to maintain the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile, which would be $600 million more than Congress approved last year.

In an opinion piece on the Wall Street Journal’s website on Thursday, Biden also said the administration intended to boost funding in that area by more than $5 billion over the next five years.

“Even in a time of tough budget decisions, these are investments we must make for our security. We are committed to working with Congress to ensure these budget increases are approved,” Biden said.

Biden said the Obama administration had inherited a “steady decline” in support for U.S. nuclear stockpiles and infrastructure.

“For almost a decade, our laboratories and facilities have been underfunded and undervalued. The consequences of this neglect — like the growing shortage of skilled nuclear scientists and engineers and the aging of critical facilities — have largely escaped public notice,” he wrote.

“The budget we will submit to Congress on Monday both reverses this decline and enables us to implement the president’s nuclear-security agenda.”

The Obama administration will publish its budget for fiscal year 2011 on Monday Feb. 1. The proposal will include a budget increase for nuclear issues while paring back other areas in an effort to control record deficits.

Biden said those steps along with others to advance nonproliferation were essential to “holding nations like North Korea and Iran accountable when they break the rules, and deterring others from trying to do so.” (Reporting by Jeff Mason and Tabassum Zakaria; editing by Todd Eastham)

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