Mr. BERMAN. Madam Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous material on the resolution under consideration.
Mr. BERMAN. Madam Speaker, I rise in strong support of this resolution and yield myself such time as I may consume.
Madam Speaker, I am pleased to support this resolution that notes the tragic poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko, expresses concern about the potential involvement of elements of the Russian Government in his death, and highlights the need to ensure the security of radioactive materials.
And I'd like to thank my good friend and the ranking member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN of Florida, for introducing this important measure.
In late November 2006, Americans joined with many around the world in watching with horror as a youthful, energetic Russian dissident and British citizen dramatically changed appearances within days. Who can forget the piercing blue eyes of the bald and gaunt man staring intently at the camera from a London hospital bed?
After the completion of an autopsy, British health officials concluded that Alexander Litvinenko had died on November 23, 2006 of radiation poisoning caused by ingesting the radioactive element Polonium-210. British law enforcement officials classified his death as murder.
Alexander Litvinenko was an agent in the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation at the time when Vladimir Putin ran the agency. Mr. Litvinenko was fired from the service in 1998, then was arrested and briefly held without conviction after accusing senior Security Service officials of assassination plots.
Mr. Litvinenko successfully sought asylum in Britain, from where he continued to accuse the Security Service of involvement in illegal activities.
The night before falling ill, Mr. Litvinenko reportedly dined with three Russian citizens, including former Federal Security Service Agent Andrei Lugovoi.
On May 22, 2007, British authorities announced their intent to prosecute Mr. Lugovoi for the murder of Mr. Litvinenko. After Russia refused to extradite Mr. Lugovoi to Britain, a political dispute ensued between the two countries that resulted in the mutual expulsion of diplomats.
The murder of Alexander Litvinenko clearly raises disturbing questions about how elements of the Russian Government appear to deal with their enemies and perceived threats.
It also raises worrying questions about the security and proliferation of radioactive material. 97 percent of the world's legal production of Polonium-210 occurs at the Avangard nuclear facility in Russia, the country that is also the world's leading exporter of this substance for commercial purposes.
If the Russian government is not responsible for Litvinenko's death, as President Putin has stated, then it should be urgently investigating the security of the production, storage, distribution and export of Polonium-210 to prevent grave threats to international security.
The resolution calls on President Bush and Secretary Rice to urge President Putin and President-elect Medvedev to cooperate with British authorities in finding answers to ensure the safety and security of all our citizens.
I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this resolution.
I reserve the balance of my time.