NNSA and ECA: Partners in Security and Community

Speech
Mar 6, 2003

NNSA and ECA: Partners in Security and Community
Presented by Linton F. Brooks, Administrator, NNSA March 6, 2003

Introduction

Good morning. My name is Linton Brooks, and as you know now from that introduction, I am the Acting Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). NNSA is a semi-autonomous national security organization within the Department of Energy. We are responsible for stewardship of the nation’s Nuclear Weapons Stockpile, implementation of a number of Nuclear Nonproliferation programs, and Naval Nuclear Propulsion.

Through the years, the men and women who work across the weapons complex have consistently answered this country’s calls to protect our Nation’s security.

They have also made major contributions to the NNSA Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Program in the areas of international nuclear safety and elimination of excess fissile materials here and in Russia.

I want to take this morning to discuss what I see as a bright future for NNSA, which translates into continuing opportunities for people in communities across our weapons complex. I’m particularly happy to be here because community is so important. Our future is only ensured through the good people located in your communities. Indeed, without community support, I can’t do my job. This is true for all of government, but especially to me for three reasons:

  • First, there is an inherent problem of gaining support for nuclear weapons work, which lends itself to a NIMBY (“Not In My Backyard”) approach.
  • Second, unlike the Department of Defense, DOE has a huge reliance on contractors and the private sector.
  • Finally, we face major issues with recruiting and retention in the coming decade. Thus quality of life issues are very important

I say community is important, but what does all this mean? It means that the NNSA shares your focus on creating and sustaining a flourishing local economy. It means that NNSA shares your focus on developing effective business models to ensure a thriving community for decades to come. It means we want to be a good neighbor not only because it is right – although that’s reason enough – but because it is crucial to the national security that we do so. Thus the value of our facilities is not only their capacity to help protect the United States but to contribute to, and be an integral part of, those business models.

Being a good neighbor means more than focusing on the economy. It means being scrupulous in meeting our environmental obligations. It means being concerned with local education, like our cooperation and provision of seed money to create strong science and technology high school programs in Albuquerque. It means science and technology partnerships, like the Regional Development Corporation in Los Alamos, which, among other things, offers engineering technology assistance under the Space Alliance Technology Outreach Program. Through efforts like this we invest in the future technical leadership of both the community and the nation.

Like you, I like to focus on the future. So as I discuss the present and future plans of NNSA and how they will impact your communities, I hope that each of you will share my optimism that NNSA will be a partner with you, and will help to secure our shared objective of both security and community.

I’d like to focus on the things that NNSA is doing to reduce the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction. I want to talk about our work in both weapons stewardship and nuclear nonproliferation. And I’d also like to take a moment to discuss NNSA’s infrastructure initiative, which is bound to have economic implications of interest to this organization.

Managing the Nuclear Weapons Complex

The challenge of managing the U.S. nuclear weapon stockpiles is very different from two decades ago. There are no new weapons in development and none planned. We are in a period of extending the life of our existing weapons – what we call Stockpile Stewardship.

The entire NNSA complex is an integral player in Stewardship and will remain so for the foreseeable future. We continue to perform essential work in support of the Nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile.

The past year has seen two significant developments that will impact NNSA’s efforts to maintain the nuclear stockpile – the President’s Nuclear Posture Review, or NPR, and the Treaty of Moscow.

NPR introduces some new ideas with respect to deterring threats against the United States. We have long thought in terms of a “strategic triad” consisting of nuclear submarines, bombers, and land-based missiles. Now, we’re reducing our nuclear forces and making strides in missile defense, and we’re finding it more useful to think of the strategic triad as consisting of strike forces – which are the offensive nuclear forces I just described; strategic defense; and the maintenance of the nuclear infrastructure -- including our DOE/NNSA labs and plants. So such facilities are clearly recognized as being absolutely essential for the security of the United States.

Under the Treaty of Moscow, the United States will reduce its strategic nuclear forces to between1700 - 2200 operationally deployed weapons. Russia will do the same. There has been no decision yet on what to do with currently deployed weapons that are taken out of the operationally deployed force. Some will be maintained as a hedge under the concept of a responsive force. Others I expect to be dismantled.

My personal view is that the era of formal treaties with Russia has come to an end. I don’t expect anything to follow the Treaty of Moscow. Cold War style arms control is inappropriate for our new relationship with Russia. Therefore I expect our nuclear forces will stabilize over the next few years at about the levels envisioned in the Moscow Treaty.
At the same time, it is essentially impossible for me to see a world in which nuclear weapons aren’t a major part of our national security strategy. And that’s why maintaining the infrastructure is such a critical priority.

As I’ve indicated, I fully expect that some of the weapons removed from the active stockpile by the Moscow Treaty will be dismantled. Much of our complex will be involved in this process. In particular, dismantlements will bring stability to the workload at our PANTEX plant in Amarillo, just one example of the benefits to local economies of broad national security developments.

Nonproliferation Activities
The second topic I wanted to discuss with you is Nonproliferation. The Secretary of Energy is heavily focused on controlling nuclear materials. Most of our effort is in Russia – that’s where most of the under-secured material happens to be – a residual effect of the Cold War. But our efforts really span the globe.

Much of our effort involves nuclear materials. We have a our part strategy: stop making such material, consolidate them, protect them, and eliminate them. The budget fully supports this four-pronged strategy, which requires the research and development capabilities of all the DOE/NNSA labs.

So what I am here to tell you is that your communities are “joined at the hip” with NNSA nonproliferation programs, and will continue to play crucial roles in both Nonproliferation and Stockpile Stewardship for the foreseeable future.

Modernization and Recapitalization

Finally, I want to discuss our efforts to modernize the infrastructure, and its economic impacts here in Tennessee. NNSA has established a Facilities and Infrastructure Recapitalization program. We’re addressing the plain fact that, however unfortunate, restoring, rebuilding, and revitalizing the plants and laboratories of the nuclear weapons complex is long overdue.

Some of you may have been in attendance last year when my predecessor, General John Gordon, kicked off the re-capitalization program at Y-12, in Tennessee, by participating in the razing of an antiquated security portal. Since then, the combined Federal and M&O contractor teams across the complex have received $440 million already distributed to the entire complex to begin improving the working environment for our employees and our key manufacturing processes. In the budget we just submitted we included $265 million for continuing to restore the complex to health.

The money is restoring the infrastructure to an acceptable standard, extending the life of critically needed special facilities, razing un-needed buildings, and upgrading the vital utilities which permit the production plants to function. Such modernization efforts bode well for the future of all our communities and the surrounding economy, including both large and small businesses alike. We will keep you apprised of these developments as they proceed.

Conclusion

Condoleeza Rice, the National Security Advisor to the President, has framed the issue in a very compelling and resonant way. She said that there is much more to maintaining a strong and visible deterrent than just the weapons themselves. It’s equally important that the rest of the world recognizes that the U.S. has a strong, viable nuclear weapons complex. And we know that the men and women and the facilities throughout the country that support the stockpile are the backbone of our nuclear deterrent.

I want to re-emphasize a point I made at the beginning of my talk. We are partners, partners in security and partners in community. That means a commitment from our part, and if I leave you with one thought, it’s this: the NNSA is committed to this community and to supporting your efforts to ensure a modern, flourishing, and dynamic economy.

We’re going to continue to do our part because it’s good for your communities, good for our security, and good for the United States of America.

Thank you very much and I look forward to your questions.