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people are actually producing them more like a production line than they were a year ago. They have a lot more confidence in that ability.
I mentioned the life extension programs, both the W-76, B–61, 7 and 11, and the W-80 are on schedule.
Certification methodology: Lawrence Livermore Lab and Los Alamos have made great progress in developing a common approach to certification and a quantifiable methodology that we could provide more clarity into the system. We call it the quantification of margins and uncertainties. I believe Dr. Anastasio will take more about it, so I won't talk about it.
I thought I would focus my remarks for the remainder of my time on the annual assessment or annual certification process. And I think the words actually are important. It is not about semantics. But when you put a weapons system into the stockpile, you certify at that time that it meets certain requirements that the military has, whether it is yield or other characteristics. What we do every year is an annual assessment of is if that system is still meeting the military requirements that it has for that particular system?
We produce an annual assessment report, a very detailed report on every system, and then I hold a red teaming activity that lasts for about a month, where we do bring in people from inside the lab who do not have a stake in the answer, people I choose them particularly because I know they are the ones that are going to pull the strings, they are going to ask the hard questions. And indeed they do. And I think that is a very important part. We have been doing that for about two years now, and we see that that has turned out to be a very good methodology.
In this annual assessment that we do, we look at all of the open significant findings. So we look at everything that has been found in the surveillance program, either in the past or the present. We look at old nuclear test data. We try to understand as best we can what is the state of health.
So going back to Mr. Thornberry's question to General Gordon, I don't think what we do is just a decision-whether we have got to test or not. In the letter that we submit to the Secretary of Energy and the Secretary of Defense along with this annual assessment report, we talk about things that we do see as risks, and what options the country has to deal with some of those.
In some cases, they can be handled by remanufacturing. In some cases you can change the conditions of operability and still maintain the military characteristics. So it is not just an either/or kind of thing, in my opinion.
Let me just state that I consider this my most important responsibility as a laboratory director, this piece of the job. There is a lot to do, but this is the one that you really think very, very hard about when you go home at night. This is the one that you earn your money on. Let me say that in the House Armed Services language I do have some concerns about the requirements that the red team reports that come to me should be included in my letter that I send into the Secretary of Energy and the Secretary of Defense. The reason isn't that I am trying to hide the red team report. I am happy to share it, I am happy to have it reviewed. My concern is that there is a possibility that this will take away from
my accountability for certifying the weapons that Los Alamos is responsible for. This red team report could be used by others to say, well, let's have another committee look at what Los Alamos said on this certification.
I don't think that is what the Congress intended by the language, and I don't think it is really the best direction, in my opinion.
In a similar way, expanding the scope of the laboratory director's responsibilities to include the assessments of warheads that I am not responsible for, like a Lawrence Livermore, although I am happy to provide people that perhaps Mike Anastasio would like to have to help him in his assessment, I think asking me to assess his weapons or him to assess mine is again diffusing the accountability for our jobs.
Also, if we are to make comments on the nuclear weapons production plant capabilities, you know, we have opinions, but frankly I consider that the job of the plant managers and the NNSA. We would be happy to participate in that, but I don't want to include that in my annual certification letter.
Let me just state one or two things, and then I will close.
Test readiness: We agree with General Gordon's comments. We do think that adequate test readiness posture should be built into the existing program rather than it being a separate program. It really has to compete for the same resources. It is this balance question, Mr. Thornberry, you brought up. It is not an either/or.
And if we do resume nuclear testing, I would say that the test events we would expect would supplement the stockpile stewardship rather than replace it. That is an important point. The other thing which we tend to forget about is we have a thousand nuclear tests in this country, and not all of them are of equal quality. But we certainly utilize those in our annual activities.
Let me stop there and just say it is a difficult challenge to do this job, but I am very encouraged at where we are today. Frankly, we could not have done it without your support. Your support has been tremendous during this period, a very difficult period for us. And we thank you for that.
Mr. WELDON. Thank you, Dr. Browne.
[The prepared statement of Dr. Browne can be found in the Appendix on page 80.]
Mr. WELDON. Dr. Anastasio.
STATEMENT OF DR. MICHAEL R. ANASTASIO, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, LAWRENCE LIVERMORE NATIONAL LABORATORY
Dr. ANASTASIO. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee for the opportunity to testify in front of you about this very serious and important issue of national security. I am here on behalf of Dr. Tarter who is unable to attend, unfortunately, but we have submitted his testimony for the record. And thank you, Mr. Chairman, for the kind introduction. I thought I might take the first moment to say a few words about myself, since this is my first time before you.
I have had over 20 years of experience at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the nuclear weapons program itself. I started out as a nuclear weapons designer, and in my early career
joined the design team that put three of the weapons that are currently in our deterrent into the stockpile in the 1980s.
I went on to have a variety of assignments, understanding the fundamental operation of nuclear weapons, and went on to ultimately in my career, about 6 years ago, taking over responsibility and leadership of all of the nuclear weapons activities at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. So I have a long experience and commitment to the program and the stockpile stewardship.
I would like to make a few points to highlight some of what is in the testimony, and it maybe puts a little different spin, but supports I think much of what you have been hearing today. The Stockpile Stewardship Program is an extremely difficult challenge technically for us to take on, and I would agree that over the last years we have made significant progress. We have learned many things that we didn't know before. And, in fact, I think it is important that we understand that the programs really be moved into a new phase. And what I mean by that, maybe I can illustrate with a couple of examples.
I second what John Browne said that we have been in the science-based program of developing new capabilities. That has really gone beyond just the development stage. We are now entering the deployment stage where we are taking these tools and capabilities that we have developed and we are really using them to directly address problems in the stockpile.
And, in fact, it is even more than that, when we think about the weapon life extension programs that we are planning to carry out for Lawrence Livermore, the W-80 life extension program, then. In fact, our plans for that development activity and ultimate certification actually rely on these new tools, and to continue the development during the period that we are going to carry out this activity.
An example of the tools that we have been using is advanced computing simulation capabilities at all three labs, the DHART facility that John mentioned, the radiographic facility at Los Alamos. And actually we expect this time next year, the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore will be at a stage where we will be getting first flight in the target chamber for the laser beams and we will be able to use that capability again directly on issues related to the W-80 life extension program. So we look forward to that opportunity.
And, second, again to illustrate the notion that we are in a different phase in the stewardship program, let me talk a little bit about the certification process. John Browne I think did a good job of discussing the annual certification, which for us really is an assessment of where we are with the weapons. That is done continuously through the year.
But let me talk about the certification process itself. And, again with John, this is our most important responsibility at the nuclear design labs. And something new that we have, partly driven by Dr. Foster's interaction with us for many, many, many years, is that we developed a new certification process that really makes clear where the technical risks lie in any judgment that we are making about an action or even an inaction that we are talking about with the stockpile. And this is a rigorous, quantitative, and transparent
process. And hence, it is amenable to the kinds of vigorous technical peer review and the extensive red team reviews as well as external reviews like we did last week with the STRATCOM Advisory Committee that was held in New Mexico.
This kind of approach really talks about, as General Gordon said, how close are we to the cliffs for the weapon to be able to fulfill its functions appropriately. And by considering the distance away from the cliffs and the uncertainties you have about that, you can make quantitative judgments about where the most serious risks are in the stockpile.
I believe that is a way that we can make transparent to others how we built our technical confidence and the judgments were made, so others can have confidence in us, in the judgments we make.
So I think that is important step, as John said. This is something that the two labs, two design physics labs have been working on over the last year. We have come to agreement that actually we will use this approach as the national approach for certification. And the two labs are working together to more fully develop all of the details that we will be using. So I think this is a way to increase our confidence.
And the last statement on this subject, this process was used when we took the W-87 life extension program as we are ready to get into the production phase and start returning those units to the Air Force, we went through our final certification process and we actually used this methodology, this certification process to do that, where again we were able to identify where the risks were. And, in fact, the actions we took actually increased our confidence in some of the issues that were there for the weapons system.
So, as I look forward, I think that the greatest risks in the program are still facing us. We have heard about some of that in the testimony of others. But I believe that the stockpile stewardship will continue to succeed, and it will do that if we have a stable program.
And I really would like to support General Gordon and the NNSA's 5-year program plan. I think that is a very important step forward, and we look for the support of the Congress in that too.
As Congressman Thornberry said, we need to have a balanced program. That is an important issue. That is to say that we are taking care and concerns about the near-term issues of the stockpile as well as the long-term issues with the stockpile, and that we also have a program that is flexible and responsive to whatever assignments and requirements we will have in the future.
So most of all, if we are able to accomplish those things, I think we will have an environment at the laboratories, and at the plants as well, that we will be able to attract and retain and train the future experts that will be here before you, testifying about their confidence in the stockpile. Thank you.
Mr. WELDON. Thank you, Dr Anastasio.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Tartar can be found in the Appendix on page 89.]
Mr. WELDON. Thank you all three of you for your statements and for your service to the country.
Dr. Anastasio, it sounds to me like we are certainly more confident than when I last visited the lab several years ago and talked to some of the scientists. They thought that the jury was still out on our capability for a science-based certification program and that perhaps it was a 50/50 possibility that the science-based program would effectively accomplish what we wanted. It seems to me like all three of you are saying that you have a lot more confidence in the approach that we are taking today than we did a few short years ago.
Dr. ANASTASIO. First, Mr. Chairman, things have gotten a lot better in the last two years, so we have made a lot of progress, both in the environment we are working in but also the technical progress in the program. I think these are two important things.
But let me reiterate that by no means are we guaranteeing that this is a program that works. There is still a lot of difficult technical work. As I say, the most challenging risks are before us as we try to take on these multiple weapon refurbishments simultaneously, recapitalize the plants, do all of the maintenance backlogs, and bring forward a new generation of experts who will be addressing different issues and with a different set of tools that we had available when I first started working.
Mr. WELDON. We applaud you for the role you are taking and have confidence in your ability to lead the lab and continue the excellent tradition of Livermore.
One of the key recommendations when we had Johnnie Foster come in and brief us verbally after we read the report dealt with the red teaming process, which you referred to, Dr. Browne, and the peer review process. And I just want to clarify for the record, because I talked to staff, our language does not require that the entire red team report be submitted to the Congress. What it requires is that the recommendations of the red team be submitted along with the appropriate comments of the lab director.
Do you share this same concern that Dr. Browne had regarding the sharing of the recommendations and your comments with them to the Congress?
Dr. ANASTASIO. I would certainly be very cautious and not support passing on the explicit reports of the red teams. But I do believe if someone were to suggest that, I would be concerned about that. But I do believe and I think that it is important that—and I think we have tried to do that in the past-that it is important that we focus on not only our view on how to go forward, but where are the risks. I think we have tried to do that in the letters in the past, but we will continue to do better.
As I tried to say in my comments, this new certification process in fact gives us the tools and the framework, in fact, to be able to phrase and quantify, in fact, where are those risks.
And again, as a way to make it more transparent so the Johnnie Fosters of the world can come in and be-Johnnie is a good red team by himself.
Mr. WELDON. He is a good red team for us also. Either of you want to comment also?
Dr. ROBINSON. Let me comment, because I in my background at the Los Alamos lab, ran the nuclear weapons programs for many years. The perspective from Sandia is very different. Sandia is