WASHINGTON: Centrist Republican Richard Lugar, a soft-spoken foreign policy powerhouse who championed nuclear nonproliferation during 36 years in the US Senate, died on Sunday at age 87. The Lugar Center, a Washington-based nonprofit, said in statement that he died peacefully due to complications from CIDP, a chronic neurological disorder.
Lugar, a professorial Midwesterner known for his keen intellect and mild demeanour, served as mayor of Indianapolis from 1968 to 1975 before his long stint in the Senate from 1977 to 2013. He was the longest-serving senator ever from Indiana.
Lugar was an influential Republican voice on foreign policy. Lugar, a former Rhodes scholar and an avid runner into his 70s, served as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and also headed the Agriculture Committee. He unsuccessfully sought the Republican presidential nomination in 1996.
As a senator, Lugar sought to curb the spread of nuclear weapons globally. His greatest achievement, forged alongside centrist Democratic Senator Sam Nunn, was a law under which the US paid for the dismantling and elimination of the nuclear weapons in the former Soviet Union as well as chemical and biological arms.
The 1991 measure was intended to keep nuclear weapons in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan from falling into the hands of hostile countries or extremist groups. Under the programme, about 7,600 nuclear warheads were deactivated, 2,300 missiles destroyed and 24 nuclear weapons storage sites secured by the time Lugar’s Senate career ended.
Born in Indianapolis on April 4, 1932, Lugar attended Pembroke College at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. He served in the Navy from 1957 to 1960, working as an intelligence officer.
Published in Dawn, April 29th, 2019