The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Local News

March 15, 2010

Sen. Lugar tells story of his life

Tale of detainment in Russia with Barack Obama highlighted

PENDLETON, Ind. — The state’s longest serving U.S. senator was honored as part of Indiana Public Radio’s Indiana Living Biography Series at the Pendleton Community Library on Sunday.

Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., took the stage before an audience of about 20 locals, telling the audience and cameras, the tale of his Indiana upbringing and political career, including a brush with the Russians that left him and President Barack Obama detained at a Russian airport.

Lugar, a fifth-generation Hoosier, graduated from Shortridge High School in Indianapolis and Denison University in Granville, Ohio.

Lugar then attended Pembroke College at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar.

Lugar was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1976 after serving two terms as the mayor of Indianapolis.

Lugar answered questions about his history in politics, emphasizing his influence on farm legislation, hunger, foreign relations and nuclear weapons disposal.

He explained that after the fall of the Soviet Union, Lugar joined Sen. Sam Nunn in forming the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, an initiative aimed at dismantling the nuclear weapons pointed at the United States in Russia.

There were 12,000 to 15,000 warheads aimed at the U.S. when the Soviet Union broke up in 1991, Lugar told the Pendleton crowd Sunday.

“We had a similar number aimed at Russia,” he said.

So far, the cooperative has deactivated 7,500 of those warheads.

“We’re down to roughly 2,000 warheads apiece,” Lugar said.

In his mission to rid Russia of nuclear arms, Lugar has traveled there multiple times over the years.

On Sunday, he told the story of his trip to the former Soviet Union that ended with him and then-Sen. Barack Obama being detained by the Russians.

On a trip to Perm, Russia, Obama and Lugar went to the airport to celebrate progress in removing more nuclear warheads when they were detained by Russians, who became skeptical of Lugar’s intentions, he told the audience.

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