NNSA Administrator Testifies Before the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces

Press Release
May 13, 2009

NNSA Administrator Testifies Before the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces

Washington, D.C. – In a testimony today before the U.S. House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, Administrator Thomas D'Agostino of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) said the President's 2010 budget request of $9.9 billion for the agency will support efforts to maintain a safe, secure and reliable nuclear deterrent without nuclear testing, reduce the global threat posed by nuclear weapons and proliferation, and provide safe and effective nuclear propulsion for the U. S. Navy.

Here are excerpts from the testimony:

  • "In a recent trip to Prague, President Obama outlined his vision of a world without nuclear weapons.  To this end, the United States will take concrete steps towards achieving such a world by reducing the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy and urging others to do the same.  Until that ultimate goal is achieved, however, the United States will maintain nuclear forces sufficient to deter any adversary, and guarantee that defense to our allies." 
  • "The NNSA will ensure that our nuclear stockpile remains safe, secure and effective to deter any adversary, and provide a defense umbrella to our allies.  At the same time, NNSA will continue to pursue a modern more flexible Nuclear Security Enterprise that is significantly smaller than the Cold War complex, but is able to address a variety of stockpile scenarios."
  • "While NNSA is reducing its footprint, and while the total number of warheads in the stockpile continues to decline, there are capabilities that must be preserved.  Not only are these capabilities needed to support the maintenance of any stockpile, but they are also needed to support the Nuclear Security Enterprise's initiatives in nonproliferation, nuclear counterterrorism, nuclear forensics, and nuclear incident response.  It's important to note that the enterprise does not scale linearly with the size of the stockpile; and the need for baseline functional capabilities is not eliminated with cessation of research into new designs and the cessation of any production of new weapons systems.  These capabilities are needed whether we have a few warheads, or a few thousand."
  • "As part of the President's comprehensive strategy to address the international nuclear threat, the President also called for strengthening the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, accelerating our efforts to secure vulnerable nuclear materials around the world, and increasing our work to detect, deter, and eliminate illicit trafficking of nuclear materials.  The NNSA Nuclear Security Enterprise is actively engaged in these and other nonproliferation missions and will provide the technical expertise to ensure they are successful." 
  • "The NNSA directly supports President Obama's goal to accelerate efforts to secure all vulnerable nuclear material from around the world within four years, including the expansion and acceleration of our existing efforts.  The NNSA is the key agency supporting the Administration's goal of minimizing the use of highly-enriched uranium (HEU) in the civil nuclear sector through our program to shutdown entirely or convert HEU fueled research reactors to the use of low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuel.  In FY 2010, we will direct significant funding to the Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) mission to eliminate and protect vulnerable nuclear and radiological materials located at civilian sites worldwide." 
  • "In FY 2010, we will also improve the physical security of nuclear material, as well as facilitate the development and implementation of material control and accountability procedures, and train personnel, to protect a total of 73 nuclear sites throughout Russia and the former Soviet republics.  The NNSA will fulfill the Administration's goal of securing nuclear weapons-usable material by ensuring that the material possessed by the Russian Navy, the Russian Ministry of Defense, Rosatom and Russian civilian sites is secured."
  • "But improving the security of weapons-usable material at its source is only the start.  We must also develop a Second Line of Defense in order to anticipate the possibility that nuclear weapons-usable material could be smuggled out and transported across international borders.  And in fact, we know that illicit trafficking in nuclear and other radioactive materials continues, especially in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia.  In response to the President's charge to do more to combat nuclear trafficking, we will install additional radiation detection equipment at 42 foreign sites across Europe, Asia, and North America, and provide detection equipment in 15 additional ports where cargo is loaded for shipment to the U.S."

View the full remarks from the testimony.

Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a separately organized agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; works to reduce global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the United States and abroad.

Media contact(s):
NNSA Public Affairs (202) 586-7371