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CHRONOLOGICAL LIST OF HEARINGS
Wednesday, June 12, 2002, The Safety, Security, Reliability, and Performance of the U.S. Nuclear Stockpile
Wednesday, June 12, 2002
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 12, 2002
THE SAFETY, SECURITY, RELIABILITY, AND PERFORMANCE OF THE U.S. NUCLEAR STOCKPILE
STATEMENTS PRESENTED BY MEMBERS OF CONGRESS
Taylor, Hon. Gene, a Representative from Mississippi, Ranking Member, Military Procurement Subcommittee
Weldon, Hon. Curt, a Representative from Pennsylvania, Chairman, Military
Anastasio, Dr. Michael R., Deputy Director, Lawrence Livermore National
Browne, Dr. John C., Director, Los Alamos National Laboratory
Gordon, Gen. John A., USAF (Ret.), Administrator, National Nuclear Security
Mitchell, John T., Manager, Y-12 Plant
Pedde, Robert A., President, Westinghouse Savannah River Company
Ruddy, Dennis R., Manager, Pantex Plant
Tarantino, Dr. Federick A., Manager, Nevada Test Site
DOCUMENTS SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD:
[There were no Documents submitted.]
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD:
THE SAFETY, SECURITY, RELIABILITY, AND
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES,
Washington, DC, Wednesday, June 12, 2002.
The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 2:05 p.m. in Room 2118, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Curt Weldon (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. CURT WELDON, A REPRESENTATIVE FROM PENNSYLVANIA, CHAIRMAN, MILITARY PROCUREMENT SUBCOMMITTEE
Mr. WELDON. The hearing will come to order. I apologize for the lateness, but Governor Ridge just finished a briefing for Members only on the House floor and many of us were in attendance at that briefing. So we apologize to our witnesses for the delay in the time. The Military Procurement Subcommittee meets today to receive testimony on the safety, security, reliability and performance of the United States nuclear stockpile. The subcommittee welcomes our witnesses: General John Gordon, Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, (NNSA) and Rear Admiral John Byrd, Director of Plans and Policy for the United States Strategic Command (STRATCOM). We are also pleased to have with us today the national laboratory directors and the plant and site managers of the defense nuclear complex.
We especially welcome Dr. Michael Anastasio who appears before the subcommittee for the first time today. Dr. Anastasio was selected last week to become the ninth director of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, effective the first of July. Congratulations on what will be an interesting and no doubt challenging assignment.
While on the topic of Livermore National Lab, I will note that two days after Dr. Anastasio's selection, the President announced his proposal to create the Homeland Security Department that includes a major role for the Livermore Laboratory. The details relating to the President's proposal are likely to take some time to develop, as many of us learned today from Governor Ridge, and it is not my intention to address this issue today as you will have ample opportunity to do so once you receive the administration's legislative proposal on the Homeland Security Department.
Turning to the topic at hand, our conventional military capability-most recently displayed in Afghanistan-has been much in the limelight since the end of the Cold War, but nuclear weapons remain a vital part of our national security strategy. Unlike conventional weapons, nuclear weapons are not currently tested nor have they been for nearly a decade, and the average age of the nuclear
weapons in the stockpile is now approaching 20 years old. Still, the National Nuclear Security Administration must annually assess and certify that those aging weapons remain safe and reliable and that they are capable of meeting our military requirements. To accomplish the difficult task of annual certification of the stockpile in the absence of underground testing, the National Nuclear Security Administration pursues a science-based stewardship program with a goal of developing a detailed understanding of how nuclear weapons work as well as the capability to predict with high confidence how weapons might perform in the future.Science-based stewardship is very much a work in progress, and the subcommittee looks forward to hearing the assessment of our witnesses as to the longterm efficacy of this approach.
Although the force structure details related to the recent Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) and the Treaty of Moscow remain to be worked out, it is clear that our weapons production complex faces a monumental task to extend the life of the enduring nuclear stockpile. For far too long we have allowed our infrastructure and production capacity to deteriorate.
I am encouraged by the steps being taken by the National Nuclear Security Administration to restore and modernize our manufacturing capability. I am, however, concerned from a recent report that was issued under the leadership of Dr. John Foster-which I had Members of this body briefed in depth at a very high security level-and the unclassified response to the panel, the charter of the panel as addressed by the Congress when we posed the questions to the panel, were basically simple and three in number.
The first was: Was the annual certification process adequate in the short run? And the answer of the Foster Commission, which all of you were involved with or talked to, was yes.
No. 2: Will the current annual certification process be adequate in the long run? And their answer was no.
And No. 3: Has the Department of Energy (DOE) established adequate criteria for stewardship tool development? And again the
answer was no.
So, in spite of being encouraged by the steps being taken by the Agency and under the leadership of those assembled here in the room today, I would like to have this hearing focus on addressing some, if not all, of the questions posed by the Foster Commission. Though not directly a part of today's discussion but because of its relevance to recent events, I also note that our defense nuclear complex is also heavily engaged in international efforts to reduce the danger of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Just within the last month I hosted the Minister of Atomic Energy from Russia, Mr. Rumyantsev, with Secretary Abraham in my office and, along with our colleagues on both sides, we had a private meeting with them. Recently we had a delegation, just two weeks ago, again visit Kurchatov Institute in Moscow with Dr. Evgeny Velikhov. We were briefed on the cooperative programs with the Sandia National Laboratory, which I am personally extremely supportive of and encouraged by, directed toward furtherance of mutual energy security and nuclear counterproliferation.
The subcommittee looks forward to exploring these important programs, but at a future date, not during this hearing.