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our unique capabilities to the national response. We have contributed directly to the Homeland Security needs of Governor Ridge with our technology and scientific staff. This work will extend into FY 2003 and beyond.
While the policies and priorities established by the President, the Secretary, and the Congress will determine the scope of our work over the years to come, nuclear deterrence remains the cornerstone of our national defense strategy. The NNSA will make significant contributions to the Administration's new capabilities-based national security strategy that requires us to maintain our military advantages in key areas while developing new capabilities.
The NNSA faces major challenges during the next five-year period in responding to evolving customer requirements while maintaining and improving the health of the nation's nuclear security enterprise. The expanded focus on international terrorism following the September 11th attacks underscores the importance of maintaining and enhancing the strong research and development capability in the science and technology resident within the complex.
NNSA's ability to perform its national security functions depends upon revitalizing our scientific and engineering expertise to ensure the reliability, safety, and security of the Nation's nuclear weapons. Much of the physical and intellectual infrastructure of the nuclear security enterprise was built during the era of underground nuclear testing, and has eroded to the point that we are no longer able to perform some essential tasks. It is imperative that we address these issues during the upcoming five-year period. NNSA's program and budget planning emphasizes maintaining an adequate workforce of scientific, technical and business skills, and building a diverse, multi-talented leadership. We must engage the laboratories in an advanced concepts program that can provide future Presidents with the national security tools suited to the Post Cold War strategic environment. We must be able to recruit, train, and develop highly skilled employees throughout our organizations in a highly competitive employment environment. We must implement our plans to renew the physical infrastructure to ensure adequate capability and capacity, as well as compliance with environment, safety, health and security standards.
Budget Summary By way of summary, the NNSA FY 2003 budget supports the recommendations from the Nuclear Posture Review to assure the continued safety, security, and reliability of the stockpile without underground nuclear testing, develop a stockpile surveillance engineering base, refurbish and extend the lives of selected warheads, and maintain the science and technology base needed to support nuclear weapons. The request protects the operational readiness of the nuclear weapons stockpile through surveillance, experiments, and simulations for individual weapons and weapon systems, and investment in advanced scientific and manufacturing for the future.
The President's FY 2003 budget request for Defense Programs was developed based on two primary resource drivers. First, the strategic reviews of national security-related activities conducted this past year. The NNSA actively participated in the President's Strategic Review of deterrence and missile defense policy and was a key participant in the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) which lays out the direction for this nation's nuclear forces over the next five to ten years. These reviews reaffirmed NNSA's stockpile refurbishments and the need for a robust, responsive research and development and industrial base of which the nuclear weapons enterprise is a key element. The NNSA Laboratories are on the cutting edge of technology and have a vital national security role to play in combating terrorism. The other is the President's Management Initiatives on the human capital management and competitive sourcing initiatives which serve to focus our FY 2003 activities, particularly in the NNSA restructuring of the headquarters and field offices and in the Federal Program Direction budget. Recruitment, retention, and skill mix are critical to NNSA's success in the future and are key to our plans for re-engineering the workforce.
Stockpile Stewardship In spite of the many challenges we are facing, the NNSA has continued to meet the core Stockpile Stewardship mission—that is, to maintain the safety, security, and reliability of the nuclear stockpile to meet national security requirements. We have done this by deploying the best science and engineering technology at our disposal across the weapons complex. 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 have put in place new manufacturing processes at the production sites which have allowed NNSA to deliver, the thousands of parts needed each year to support the stockpile. We have
Stockpile Stewardship Program and its Relationship to Test Readiness
The technological challenges inherent in the full development of the Stockpile Stewardship Program have been compared to the Nation's efforts in the 1960s towards putting a man on the moon. The significant investments in Stockpile Ster ardship tools, such as the Advanced Simulation and Computing Program, the Na tional Ignition Facility (NIF), and the Dual-Axis Radiographic Hydrodynamic Test (DARHT) Facility, are vital to ensuring the safety and reliability of our nuclear weapons. These tools are providing ever-increasing volumes and fidelity of data not available when the weapons in the stockpile were built. However, as this data is analyzed and our knowledge increases, we may actually identify a fault or age-related problem whose correction cannot be verified through modeling and simulation alone. Consequently, there may come a day in the future when United States Strategic Command may have to recommend to the Secretary of Defense that the US. conduct a nuclear test. It is prudent, whether we get to that point gradually or suddenly, we be able to conduct such a test in less than the current 24 36 month timeline.
One of many important elements of the Stockpile Stewardship Program is the annual assessment process for our nuclear weapons in which the Commander of U.S. Strategic Command plays a role, advised by members of his Strategic Advisory Group. The assessment process is a necessary element to ensure we maintain the historically high levels of confidence and reliability necessary in our nuclear weapons. Rebuilding the Nuclear Weapons Complex
On behalf of Admiral Ellis, I thank you for your continued support for the increased funding necessary to restore the infrastructure in the nuclear weapons complex for not only the proper maintenance of the stockpile but a quality work environment for the people working in the complex. One of the key elements of General Gordon's infrastructure plan is the design and development of a Modern Pit Facility to replace the Rocket Flats Facility which closed more than ten years ago and was our sole facility for producing the primaries for our nuclear weapons. Development and construction of a Modern Pit Facility will enable us to replace aging warheads as well as reduce our reliance on significant numbers of existing warheads held in reserve as insurance against a technological failure of an entire warhead type. Though the exact composition of this reserve is yet to be determined, it will nonetheless be a significant portion of our active and inactive nuclear warhead stockpile. Adapting to International Change
One of the many challenges we face for both the nuclear weapons complex and our strategic forces, is that due to the drawdown of our forces, we have not produced a new nuclear warhead since 1989, we have no new strategic systems in development, and only one strategic system still in production (the Trident D-5 Missile). As a result, we are faced with the dilemma of adapting nuclear weapons and strategic forces designed for Cold War missions to support deterrence in the 21st Century.
One of the most pressing threats posed by our potential adversaries in the international arena today is the proliferation of hard and deeply buried facilities capable of protecting nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons; the means of delivering them; and the leaders who would threaten the United States. Our current arsenal, developed in the Cold War, was not designed to address this growing worldwide threat. There are facilities today which we either cannot defeat, even with existing nuclear weapons, or must hold at risk using a large number of weapons. As a result, both the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy, through the Nuclear Weapons Council, have approved a study of how to effectively counter this threat. This study of a Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator (RNEP) will evaluate modifications to existing nuclear weapons that do not require nuclear testing.
The ideal outcome of an RNEP study would be a recommendation to proceed with selective modifications to existing weapons that would ultimately strengthen deterrence by improving the credibility of our strategic forces against hard and deeply buried facilities. As you are well aware, our efforts to strengthen deterrence involve denying sanctuary to our adversaries. This may mean making our nuclear weapons more tailored to the target type, which is not equivalent to making them more likely to be used. Tailored weapons strengthen deterrence, which in turn makes them less likely to be used. Also, a robust nuclear earth penetrator is only one piece of the overall solution for targets contained in these types of structures. Other capabilities such as advanced conventional, information operations, and special operations capabilities must be developed as well. A full spectrum of capabilities strengthens deter
rence and maintains the nuclear threshold by developing a range of options for the President to counter the growing hard and deeply buried target set. Nuclear Warhead Reductions
As you know, the recent treaty signed by President Bush and Russian President Putin recognized that the Cold War is over and as a result we will reduce our operationally deployed strategic nuclear warheads by two thirds over the next ten years. U.S. Strategic Command played an important role in analyzing the reductions contained in this landmark treaty. The reductions called for are fully consistent with the United States' valid military requirements.
The lower number of deployed weapons is a long awaited and welcome development, but we must now prepare for implementation. With fewer weapons and weapon types, an unpredicted catastrophic failure of a warhead type places even greater emphasis on improved test readiness. Currently, there is no need to conduct nuclear tests, but at lower inventory levels, increasing test readiness is necessary to minimize the potential impact a technological failure would have on our operationally deployed strategic nuclear weapons. U.S. Strategic Command strongly supports the findings of the Nuclear Posture Review as well as the recommendations of the Foster Panel to improved our readiness to conduct nuclear testing. This improved readiness will bolster the credibility of our arsenal and ultimately strengthen deterrence. Conclusion
On behalf of all the men and women of United States Strategic Command, we look forward to continuing our strong relationship with the National Nuclear Security Administration and its predecessors. Together, we have encountered a number of unexpected challenges resulting from our decisive victory in the Cold War. With your continuing support, we have implemented or identified many of the solutions for these pressing issues. Under the outstanding guidance of General John Gordon, the NNSA has determined a path for regaining the health of our nuclear weapons complex both in terms of infrastructure and people. Your solid support of General Gordon's initiatives to improve our nuclear test readiness and to proceed with studies to modify our existing arsenal will help this Nation meet its critical deterrence needs in the 21st Century.
I am sure the future will be a period of great change in the international environment, much as it has been during the previous ten years. As we have learned so often in the past, it is prudent to anticipate, study, and prepare for the difficult challenges that lie ahead. Throughout this period of change our strategic mission will endure as it has for the past 56 years. With your continuing support for both the nuclear weapons complex and our strategic forces, we are ensuring that our strategic deterrent will remain the Nation's ultimate insurance policy.
Thank you again for the opportunity to represent Admiral Ellis and all the men and women of the United States Strategic Command.
I welcome your questions.
STATEMENT OF C. PAUL ROBINSON, DIRECTOR
SANDIA NATIONAL LABORATORIES
COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES
JUNE 12, 2002
INTRODUCTION Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify on the efficacy of the Science-Based Stockpile Stewardship Program and related topics. I am Paul Robinson, director of Sandia National Laboratories. Sandia is managed and operated for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) by Sandia Corporation, a subsidiary of the Lockheed Martin Corporation.
Sandia National Laboratories is one of the three NNSA laboratories with research and development responsibility for nuclear weapons. Sandia's unique role is the design, development, qualification, and certification of nearly all of the nonnuclear subsystems of nuclear warheads. Our responsibilities include arming, fuzing, and firing systems; safety, security, and use-control systems; engineering support for production and dismantlement of nuclear weapons; field support to the military; and surveillance and support of weapons in stockpile. We perform substantial work in programs closely related to nuclear weapons, including intelligence, nonproliferation, and treaty verification technologies. As a multiprogram national laboratory, Sandia also conducts research and development or DOE's energy and science offices, as well as work for other national security agencies when our special capabilities can make significant contributions.
My statement addresses the topics specified by the subcommittee, including the efficacy of the Science-Based Stockpile Stewardship Program and its future prospects; the adequacy of our current test readiness posture; the value of exercising the nuclear weapon design process; the stockpile annual certification process; and the condition of the nuclear weapons complex infrastructure. In addition, I will comment on the issue of programmatic planning that was raised in the most recent Foster Panel report.1 I would also like to refer you to the attached appendix, which summarizes some of Sandia's recent accomplishment in the nuclear weapons program and other national security programs. We state our core purpose as "helping our nation secure a peaceful and free world through technology." I believe the accomplishments reported here will convince you that we are "on course” in fulfilling that purpose.
EFFICACY OF SCIENCE-BASED STOCKPILE STEWARDSHIP Science-based stockpile stewardship was adopted about ten years ago in response to the curtailment of all major warhead development programs and the increasing likelihood of an indefinite moratorium or even permanent ban on underground nuclear testing. With respect to Sandia's stockpile responsibilities, it is my judgment that the Science-Based Stockpile Stewardship Program has met expectations during this last decade. We have developed and proved an array of diagnostic and design tools that are enabling us to meet the enormous challenge placed on us by the loss of nuclear testing and that permit us to fulfill our responsibilities for the stockpile with high confidence and predictability.
However, it is crucial to note that nearly everything Sandia designs and surveils can be tested—and is tested-using nonnuclear processes. We subject our components and subsystems to extensive nonnuclear testing at every stage of development and service life. We have made fair progress during the last decade under the Science-Based Stockpile Stewardship Program in strengthening our testing capabilities, and good progress in advancing our modeling and simulation capabilities to deal with those aspects that cannot be directly tested, such as the effects of hostile radiation fields on our components and stems.
The primary application of nuclear testing for Sandia in the past was to confirm the functionality of nonnuclear weapon components and the warhead as a system when exposed to hostile environments such as the full radiation fluxes and extreme mechanical impulses of fratricide, preemptive strike, or nuclear-armed anti-ballistic missile (ABM) defenses. This is a different purpose than that served by the underground nuclear testing performed by the nuclear design laboratories, Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore, for development, safety, or confidence testing related to the performance of the nuclear explosive assembly or "physics package."
Perhaps the best example of the efficacy of the new science-based stockpile stewardship tools is Sandia's development and qualification of the MC4380A neutron generator for the W76 Trident warhead. Neutron generators must be designed for ruggedness against severe environments such as acceleration, vibration, high voltage, radiations, and mechanical impulse. In the past, we relied on an iterative design process involving numerous physical tests and whatever modeling tools were practical at the time.
Relying on data from past underground nuclear tests and aboveground simulations using accelerators and reactors, our scientists and engineers have developed large integrated software models that simulate three-dimensional radiation transport and mechanical response. These models allow our designers to visualize the electrical and physical performance of a neutron generator under many combinations of conditions while it is still "on the drawing board.” A design engineer can change the model and re-visualize its performance on the computer many times before committing to a physical prototype.
The combination of advanced computational simulations such as these and a comprehensive suite of several kinds of nonnuclear tests made it possible for the first time in the history of the program to qualify a neutron generator design for performance reliability and resistance to hostile radiation effects without underground nuclear testing.
I must note here that, although in the past we would always subject such components to hostile radiation in underground nuclear tests to try to directly evaluate the effects of radiations on their function, such "effects testing" could never be made an ideal test. The underground exposure was itself always a compromise to the anticipated levels of stress that components might be subjected to in wartime. This was because the levels of neutrons, x-rays, and gamma rays were in different proportion to what would be experienced in a space or atmospheric encounter and because the fluxes were always different than the anticipated levels. Thus, the confidence by which we have certified the new neutron generator design—without having had an underground "effects” test-is on a different basis, but not necessarily a lesser basis, than was our past practice.
Sandia also has responsibility for the integrated arming, fuzing, and firing (AF&F) system of the W76–1/Mark-4A life extension program. Science-based design tools will permit us to perform the redesign of this complicated and critical assembly at lower cost and with higher quality than was previously possible. The redesigned unit will combine advanced fuzing options, modern nuclear safety improvements, and enhanced reliability. Moreover, we are incorporating surveillance features into the unit so that its "state of health” can be assessed with minimal intrusion.
Qualification of the new W76_1Mark-4A AF&F will involve both testing and simulation using tools provided by science-based stockpile stewardship. We must conduct a variety of environmental tests in the laboratory to evaluate the unit's performance under various normal and abnormal conditions. We will perform system flight-tests with de-nuclearized payloads to achieve flight environment conditions that cannot be simulated in the laboratory. Radiation tests using aboveground simulators will provide radiation effects testing for most spectra of concern. Parameters derived from all these categories of tests will be incorporated into computational models that can calculate system performance over a broader and more intense range of conditions.
New modeling and simulation capabilities developed under science-based stockpile stewardship are providing powerful capabilities for life extension programs, and they reduce the total number of physical tests needed over the term of a project. However, it is important to understand that physical testing will not be eliminated by computer simulations. Models never achieve perfection, and nature sometimes has surprises in store that become apparent only during physical tests. Moreover, the fidelity of the computational models themselves must be validated with experimental data. For example, the codes used to model radiation effects for the neutron generator program were validated against experiments performed with aboveground simulators and past underground tests.
For these reasons, science-based stockpile stewardship at Sandia is a program of advanced nonnuclear testing as well as computational modeling. Sandia's Test Capabilities Revitalization Project (an FY 2003 construction item) is important in this regard, as it is essential to modernize our field testing and experimental infrastructure to support warhead qualification, development, surveillance, and model validation.
Definitive evidence of the efficacy of science-based stockpile stewardship will be available when we complete our first full-scale life extension program for a major warhead system. We expect the W76–1/Mark-4A life extension project to enter production in 2007. Several large certification hurdles must be surmounted before production can be authorized. However, I expect that we will be able to meet those challenges with the tools that we have developed and are continuing to improve under science-based stockpile stewardship.
TEST READINESS In the past thirty years or so, the nuclear weapons program has developed several aboveground experimental facilities in an effort to simulate many of the phenomena of hostile environments as a substitute for underground “nuclear effects testing.” The last time Sandia used underground testing for certifying a system against hostile environments was with the W88/Mark 5 program. The six underground radiation tests we conducted for that program were supplemented with more than 1,000 aboveground radiation tests using fifteen different simulators. The available suite of aboveground simulation facilities today, augmented with improved computational models, has allowed us to separately simulate or model most nuclear-weapon radiation spectra.
It must be recognized, however, that our simulation and modeling capabilities have limitations. The extreme radiation fluxes and mechanical impulses of a nuclear detonation cannot be directly simulated. In addition, the physical size of hardware systems that can be tested for complete system response is limited. In the future,