FY 2012 Budget Hearing Testimony on Nuclear Nonproliferation and Naval Reactor Programs before the House Appropriations Committee, Energy and Water Development Subcommittee

Congressional Testimony
Mar 2, 2011

Chairman Frelinghuysen and Ranking Member Pastor, thank you for the opportunity to join you today to discuss the investments the President has requested for our nuclear nonproliferation programs and our naval reactors program.  It is rare that I have pleasure of addressing the same committee on consecutive days.  Since I joined you yesterday, I will keep my opening remarks brief. 

Last year, the Nuclear Posture Review reaffirmed the vital role that nuclear submarines play in our strategic deterrent. For FY 2012, President Obama has requested $1.1 billion for NNSA’s naval reactors program. 

The NPR highlighted the need to build a replacement for the OHIO-class submarine, which will start to be retired from service in 2027.  Our FY12 request continues the design work on the propulsion unit for that OHIO-class replacement submarine in order to meet the Navy’s required procurement date of 2019.  

This budget request also includes critical investments in a modern and sustainable spent nuclear fuel infrastructure at the naval reactors site at Idaho National Laboratory.  This will allow us to move fuel from wet to dry storage, and ultimately to dispose of it, while we maintain the capacity necessary to receive spent fuel generated during a sustained, intense period of fuel handling in our shipyards.

Finally, the budget request also seeks the resources to refuel the land-based prototype reactor in Upstate New York.

Mr. Chairman, these three investments support our historic and essential role in helping power America’s nuclear navy.  Admiral Donald is here with me today, and will provide additional information in few minutes.

With respect to our nuclear nonproliferation programs, the President is seeking the resources required to implement the unprecedented nuclear security agenda he outlined in his April 2009 Prague speech.  On any given day, we have people working worldwide -- in more than 100 countries -- to reduce the global nuclear threat. 

If I could, I would like to make a simple, but important statement. Preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and keeping dangerous nuclear materials out of the hands of terrorists is a vital national security priority, and these are without a doubt national security programs.

As President Obama has said, the threat of a terrorist acquiring and using a nuclear weapon is the most immediate and extreme threat we face.   His FY 2012 budget includes $2.5 billion in FY 2012 and $14.2 billion over the next five years to reduce the global nuclear threat by detecting, securing, safeguarding, disposing and controlling nuclear and radiological material, as well as promoting the responsible application of nuclear technology and science.  This includes stemming the risk of expertise proliferation through innovative science and technology partnerships.

The President’s request provides the resources required to meet commitments secured during the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit.  For fiscal year 2012, it includes $1 billion to remove and prevent the smuggling of dangerous nuclear material around the world and enable NNSA to continue leading international efforts to implement more stringent standards for the physical protection of nuclear material and nuclear facilities worldwide. 

The President is also seeking $890 million for Fissile Materials Disposition, which supports the continued construction of the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility, Waste Solidification Building, and efforts to baseline the Pit Disassembly and Conversion Project at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina.

Not only will these facilities be used to permanently eliminate more than 34 metric tons of surplus weapons plutonium, this will be done in a way that produces electricity for American consumers.  As I like to say, this is the ultimate swords to plowshares program, and a key element of the President’s nuclear nonproliferation agenda.

Finally, this budget request directs more than $360 million to the research and development required to create new technologies for detecting nuclear proliferation or testing, and for monitoring compliance with nuclear nonproliferation and arms control agreements.

To me, this last point is key.  Investing in the scientific and technical underpinnings of our program is the critical to implementing the President’s nuclear security agenda. This is serious business.  We need the best minds in the country working at our national laboratories and sites to develop new tools that will keep the American people safe and enhance global security.

Investing in a modern, 21st century nuclear security enterprise is essential to preventing nuclear terrorism or nuclear proliferation. These missions are interrelated.  They rely on the same skill sets, the same people, and many of the same facilities.  This is a major part of the reason we need to complete the Uranium Processing Facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex and the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory.   These projects are critical to maintaining the nation’s expertise in uranium processing and plutonium research, and I strongly encourage this committee to continue to support them.

Mr. Chairman, these are some of the highlights of this budget request as it relates to our nuclear nonproliferation programs. I look forward to any question you and the members of this committee may have.