A leading Indian American lawyer, Rahul 'Richard' Verma, has been appointed to a US Congressional Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism.
Verma, who was senior national security adviser to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and until recently the highest-ranking Indian American Congressional aide on Capitol Hill, is currently a partner with Steptoe & Johnson LLP, a top-notch international law firm in Washington DC.
"There's probably no more important security challenge facing our country than keeping weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of terrorists," Verma said on his appointment to the commission set up at the recommendation of the independent, bipartisan 9/11 Commission.
"Hopefully, the work of the commission will help guide the new Congress and administration in this key area," he said, adding: "It's a big challenge, but one I am looking forward to."
Appointment of Verma and eight other commissioners was announced Wednesday by Reid, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, House Republican Leader John Boehner and Senate Republican Leader MitchMcConnell.
The commission will assess the current US activities, initiatives, and programmes aimed at preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and terrorism while providing a clear, comprehensive strategy with concrete recommendations to achieve this crucial goal.
The legislation requires the commission to issue a report within 180 days and ensure that stopping the spread of weapons of mass destruction will remain a pillar of American foreign policy.
Specific areas the committee will address include:
* Activities, initiatives, and programmes to secure all nuclear weapons-usable material around the world and to significantly accelerate, expand, and strengthen, on an urgent basis, US and international efforts to prevent, stop, and counter the spread of nuclear weapons capabilities and related equipment, material, and technology to terrorists and states of concern.
* US commitments to international regimes and cooperation with other countries.
* The threat of weapons of mass destruction proliferation and terrorism to the US and its interests and allies, including the threat posed by black-market networks, and the effectiveness of the responses by the US and the international community to such threats.
Former US senator Bob Graham, who served on the Senate Intelligence Committee for 10 years and chaired the committee during the lead-up to the Iraq war, will chair the new commission. He is currently chair of the Graham Centre for Public Service, University of Florida and University of Miami.
Another former US Senator, Jim Talent, currently a distinguished fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington, will be the vice-chair.
Other commissioners, besides Verma, are former congressman Timothy J. Roemer, president of the Centre for National Policy; former ambassador Wendy Sherman, principal, Albright Group LLC; professor Graham Allison, director of Harvard University's Belfer Centre for Science and International Affairs and a former assistant secretary of state; Henry Sokolski, executive director, Non-proliferation Policy Education Center; Stephen Rademaker, senior counsel, BGR Holding, LLC; and Robin Cleveland, principal, Olivet Consulting, LLC.