Former GOP Senator Richard Lugar introduces  Secretary of State John Kerry for a speech in support of the Iran nuclear deal at the National Constitution Center, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015, in Philadelphia.
Former GOP Senator Richard Lugar introduces Secretary of State John Kerry for a speech in support of the Iran nuclear deal at the National Constitution Center, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015, in Philadelphia.

INDIANAPOLIS - Former longtime U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, a foreign policy expert who helped spur the dismantling and securing of thousands of nuclear weapons in the former Soviet states, has died. He was 87.

The Lugar Center issued a statement saying Lugar died early Sunday at the Inova Fairfax Heart and Vascular Institute in Virginia. 

Lugar was a Rhodes Scholar who was first elected to the Senate in 1976, after eight years as Indianapolis mayor.

He was a generally loyal conservative but lost his bid for a seventh Senate term in the 2012 GOP primary after attacks over his reputation for cooperation with Democrats and friendliness with President Barack Obama.

Lugar gained little traction with a 1996 run for president, but he focused on the threat of terrorism years ahead of the Sept. 11 attacks.