NNSA Labs Will Play Prominent Role in U.S. National Security

Press Release
Jun 26, 2008

NNSA Labs Will Play Prominent Role in U.S. National Security

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) science, technology and engineering capabilities will serve a broader national security mission in the future, according to a senior NNSA official.  This change recognizes that NNSA's roles in nuclear nonproliferation and nuclear counterterrorism are growing and, through agreements with other federal agencies, the laboratories can and do contribute to national security more broadly than in the past.  This direction was approved by U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman today.

"NNSA's national security laboratories - Los Alamos National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory – and the Nevada Test Site have world class scientists, engineers and capabilities that are national assets," said NNSA Administrator Thomas D'Agostino.  "To respond to the evolving 21st century global security threats, NNSA will bring our science, technology and engineering enterprise to bear on solving large, urgent national security challenges."

NNSA is moving from the outdated, Cold War-era nuclear weapons complex of today into one that is smaller, safer, more secure, and less expensive.  As part of this effort, it will also leverage the scientific and technical capabilities of its workforce to meet the needs of evolving national security requirements for the future.

NNSA, its national security laboratories, and the test site have reached a consensus that their future mission is not limited solely to the historic nuclear weapons core mission, but rather is one encompassing the full spectrum of national security interests.  The broad range of research and development activities at the NNSA laboratories, which include sensor and detection technology, high-performance computing, microsystems, chemical and biological technology, and explosives science, will continue to ensure that the nation is equipped to deal with technological surprises and anticipate new national security threats.

Some examples of this type of national security work already being done, and NNSA will be looking to establish a longer-term partnership with other federal agencies on, include:

  • Supporting war fighter needs in Iraq with IED modeling and analysis;
  • Assisting in the safe recovery and securing of a potential radiological device or a lost or stolen U.S. nuclear weapon;
  • Helping identify, among other things, the source of a nuclear device, its effects, and the persons or groups responsible using technical nuclear forensics;
  • Developing and deploying integrated systems for countering aerosolized bioterrorist releases and bio-decontamination technologies; and
  • Developing and deploying portal detector technology to prevent smuggling of illicit nuclear materials.

This effort was approved by U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman and developed by him, NNSA Administrator Thomas D'Agostino, Department of Energy Undersecretary for Science Raymond L. Orbach, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Director George Miller, Los Alamos National Laboratory Director Michael Anastasio, Sandia National Laboratories Director Thomas Hunter and Stephen Younger President of National Security Technologies, LLC, which manages the Nevada Test Site, and developed in communication with partner agencies.

For a copy of the signed document by Secretary Bodman, click here.

To read the transcript from a media roundtable on this vision, click here.

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