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QUESTIONS SUBMITTED BY MR. WELDON Mr. WELDON. Science-based stewardship puts your Administration in the problematic position of certifying the safety, reliability, and performance of critical strategic assets, also the world's most destructive weapon, without ever testing them. What is your assessment of the state of the program? How confident are you, that in the long term this approach can succeed?
General GORDON. The Stockpile Stewardship continues to ensure the continued safety, security, reliability and effectiveness of this Nation's nuclear deterrent. Overall, I am pleased with the significant progress made by the Stewardship program since its inception. The program has identified and solved issues in the stockpile that in the past would have required full scale nuclear testing. The ASCI supercomputers, experiments on DARHT, NOVA, and the Z facilities have done much to improve our understanding of the dynamic nature of the aging nuclear weapons stockpile. We are successfully extending the life of the W87 warhead at Pantex, LANL is making significant progress in pit manufacturing and certification,
the NIF project remains on track at LLNL, subcritical experiments at the Nevada Test Site are yielding important data on aging plutonium and the Kansas City plant is manufacturing all the non-nuclear components needed by the weapons stockpile.
While it is impossible to predict with any certainty, the challenges faced by the weapons complex are likely to increase as the nuclear weapons stockpile continues to age. To succeed over the long term we must be able to recruit, train, and develop highly skilled employees throughout our organizations in a highly competitive employment environment. We must implement plans to renew the physical infrastructure to ensure adequate capability and capacity, as well as compliance with environment, safety, health and security standards. We must deploy the advanced tools and technologies needed by the weapons complex. Consistent with the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) we are working with DoD to determine the optimum test readiness posture for the Nation. This is an extraordinarily difficult scientific and engineering challenge for the weapons complex, but one that I feel we can meet with the continued support of the Administration and Congress.
Mr. WELDON. The committee has heard conflicting reports regarding the security of the defense nuclear complex. The House has authorized over $650 million for NNSA security related activities in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2003. What is your overall assessment of safeguards and security? How much security is enough, and don't we reach a point of diminishing returns?
General GORDON. We have increased security at our facilities since September 11, and we believe we are providing the appropriate level of security at this time. Independent reviews conducted by the Office of Independent Oversight and Performance Assurance (OA) continue to confirm this.
The level of protection is based on defined threat criteria and published protection requirements. The Department works to those protection standards to define the appropriate level of security. Threat information is coordinated at the inter-agency level to provide protection guidance based on potential targets. The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) is responsible for the protection of what are currently among the most attractive targets.
Mr. WELDON. Your command has the responsibility of executing strategic nuclear missions if so ordered by the President. In a sense, you are the customer” of the defense nuclear complex. How confident are you of the safety, reliability, and performance of the “products” provided by NNSA? What is your assessment of the future efficacy of science-based stewardship? [The information referred to is classified.]
Mr. WELDON. Since the end of the Cold War, there has been some loss of “sense of mission” within the defense nuclear complex, and many of our facilities and capabilities have fallen into a state of disrepair. Some might also say that the priority given to, and the prestige associated with, the operational strategic deterrent has slipped. How would you assess the morale and quality of personnel under your command? Do you feel that the Administration gives sufficient priority to your mission?
Admiral BYRD. United States Strategic Command has a rich and proud legacy built on the tremendous foundation of both Strategic Air Command and the Joint
rint-it hip for ng to Pa went throgh investea a of our nology roaa nize an Ola executing We have our people work force tionar ene do is to the futur Y-12 in done grans talize
fure improvements are still needed to ensure an acceptable · manufacturing mission of the Kansas City Plant. ynment of the Kansas City Plant with the changing needs analysis has been conducted on a regular basis. The most period FY2002 to FY2010 was completed in June 2002 and sas City Plant can support the future life extension program - was based on future manufacturing capacities following the ! project in FY2005.
sis indicates that workload requirements for 25 of 29 major managed with current capacity, the addition of an extra shift, ient from commercial industry. remaining product lines, the workload is highly dependent on associated with the upcoming LEPs. The data used in this foreg-range (FY2006-FY2010) assumptions for material and labor re relatively uncertain at this time and may be artificially high. nts for these two areas will continue to be monitored as prothe LEP programs develop. roduct lines, facility expansions are required. One of these prodill require a line-item funded project to expand the capacity to ited workload. This line-item project is currently funded and in
grated Construction Program Plan for NNSA. Activities are cure for completion in FY2006, in time to support the projected workr products. The remaining product line, Firesets, will require only on of its existing manufacturing facility to provide the needed in.ty. Contingency space to accommodate this need has already been through the SMRI project. This expansion is not required until FY e accomplished with minimal funding. As a result, the capacity needs Il continue to be monitored on a regular basis but efforts to begin the
not occur until approximately FY2006. ur recent capacity analysis, we are confident the Kansas City Plant
necessary manufacturing capacity to support the needs of the NWC. analysis will continue to be updated to ensure that changes in workhnology are appropriately incorporated into our site planning process. 9. The Savannah River Site has defined two line item projects, Replaceion Tester (RFT) and Cleaning and Loading Modifications (CALM), that d to provide the production capability to support the current weapons reat plans and directives. These two projects are approved by the DepartEnergy and are included in the out-year budget plan for the Savannah
Conceptual design is completed for both projects. The RFT is scheduled p in FY09 and CALM is scheduled for startup in late FY07 or early FY08. se projects augmenting existing SRS production facilities, the desired nu
apons posture will be maintained. WELDON. What is your best estimate of the time required to support an unund nuclear test, if such a test were to be directed by the President? TARANTINO. Since 1996, the NTS contractor has used structured processes to
the ability to return to underground nuclear testing. The National Weapons ratories have developed several weapon physics test scenarios that are used for nurpose of planning and readiness assessment. Schedule estimates for the NTS ractor to support execution of the first test in a series of underground nuclear s for physics reasons are approximately 3 years. at the request of the Department of Defense Office of Program Analysis & Evaltion, a simple demonstration test was considered in 1999. At that time, the schede estimate to conduct this type of simple demonstration test was approximately year.
Mr. WELDON. What steps could be taken, specifically at the Nevada Test Site, to enhance test readiness?
Dr. TARANTINO. The NNSA, in conjunction with the National Weapons Laboratories and the NTS contractor, has recently completed a study of the cost and schedule of activities to enhance test readiness to 18 months. Significant activities identified for the NTS to maintain and enhance test readiness were organized into two groups: (1) Authorization Basis and (2) Personnel, Facilities and Equipment.
Authorization Basis consists of preparing nuclear explosive safety studies, technical and operational procedures, and other certifications and permits required for compliance with current federal and state laws and regulations. This activity is primarily a NNSA responsibility, but will require significant National Weapons Laboratories and NTS contractor support.
NTS Personnel, Facilities, and Equipment consists of many NTS Infrastructure items that have deteriorated in the 10 years since cessation of underground nuclear