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Senior Fellow, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
April 15, 2019
Excerpts of the FY2008 Omnibus Appropriations Act and FY2009 House Appropriations Committee Report

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Richard L. Garwin

The LLNL Annual Report 2007 notes that Congressional funding of the RRW is in abeyance, "while seeking clarification on a number of related policy and technical issues,"  Here is the detailed language. The fiscal year 2008 report language is included by reference in the Omnibus Appropriations Act; the fiscal year 2009 Report Language is a committee print passed by the House Appropriations Committee but not yet filed.

FY2008 Report Language

U.S. Strategic Nuclear Weapons Strategy for the 21st century and the Future Nuclear Weapons stockpile- The Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of Defense (DoD) are proposing to develop a new nuclear warhead under the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) program and begin a nuclear weapons complex modernization proposal called Complex 2030. These multi-billion dollar initiatives are being proposed in a policy vacuum without any Administration statement on the national security environment that the future nuclear deterrent is designed to address. The Committee's concern is supported by statements made by nuclear weapon experts in recent reports by the Defense Science Board and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and in congressional testimony by such credible experts as a former Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a former Secretary of Defense. These review panel and national security experts all agreed that there has been no clear policy statements that articulate the role of nuclear weapons in a post-Cold War and post-9/11 world. The lack of any definitive analysis or strategic assessment defining the objectives of a future nuclear stockpile makes it impossible to weigh the relative merits of investing billions of taxpayer dollars in new nuclear weapon production activities when the United States is facing the problem of having too large a stockpile as a Cold War legacy. Currently, there exists no convincing rationale for maintaining the large number of existing Cold War nuclear weapons, much less producing additional warheads, or for the DoD requirements that drive the management of the DOE nuclear weapons complex.

The Committee believes it is premature to proceed with further development of the RRW or a significant nuclear complex modernization plan, until a three-part planning sequence is completed, including: (1) a comprehensive nuclear defense strategy, based upon current and projected global threats; (2) clearly defined military requirements for the size and composition of the nuclear stockpile derived from the comprehensive nuclear defense strategy; and (3) alignment of these military requirements to the existing and estimated future needs and capabilities of NNSA's weapons complex. The Committee views completion of this three-part planning sequence as a necessary condition before considering additional funding for Complex 2030 and RRW activities.

Therefore, the Committee directs the Secretary, in consultation with the Department of Defense and Intelligence Community, to submit to the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations, a comprehensive nuclear security plan that:

(1.) Includes a comprehensive nuclear defense and nonproliferation strategy, developed by all relevant stakeholders across the Administration, defining the future U.S. nuclear deterrent requirements and nuclear nonproliferation goals. To the extent this strategy involves the production and deployment of new warheads and acceleration of legacy warhead dismantlements, a statement of how such actions will impact the state of global security, with respect to the future U.S. nuclear deterrent and nonproliferation goals, should be included in the comprehensive strategy.

(2.) Includes a detailed description, prepared by the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Department of Energy (DOE), that translates the strategy described in (1) above into a specific nuclear stockpile, that:

a. Aligns estimated global threats to the required characteristics of the U.S. nuclear stockpile in terms of specific numbers and types of         warheads, both active and inactive, and associated delivery systems.

b. Includes a complete, quantitative status of the current stockpile warhead inventory by type and delivery system and anticipated changes to reach the 2012 Moscow Treaty commitments, including an unclassified summary of the topline stockpile quantity.

c. Defines, in year by year increments planned changes in the size and composition of the nuclear stockpile through fiscal year 2030 required to meet the strategy described in (1) above. Identify changes in the stockpile related to the nuclear force structure based on the strategy described in (1) above; the impact of accelerated warhead retirements and dismantlements based on out year stockpile requirements under the Moscow Treaty, as well as, potential reductions associated with the strategy described in (1) above; the impact of completing planned life extension milestones to extend the service life of the existing stockpile; the impact on the future stockpile employing both existing warheads and new warheads under the RRW proposal; required life extension program throughput rates; required production rates for an operationally deployed RRW replacing an existing system; and associated dismantlement rates. This should include an unclassified summary of the topline stockpile quantity, per year, up through 2030.

d. Includes a detailed analysis comparing the risks, costs and benefits, stockpile size, and relationship to achieving the nuclear defense and nonproliferation strategic goals of maintaining the existing stockpile under the Life Extension Program (LEP) versus transitioning to the reliable replacement warhead strategy, by warhead type and delivery system.

(3.) Includes a comprehensive, long-term expenditure plan, from fiscal year 2008 through fiscal year 2030, that fully defines the needs and capabilities of the NNSA weapons complex to support the stated military requirements outlined in (2) above, including:

a. A comprehensive, fiscal year 2008 complex operating cost inventory by site and activity as a baseline;

b. A year-by-year resource plan from fiscal year 2008 through fiscal year 2030, subdivided into five-year milestones for dismantlements, stockpile reduction, cost savings (with respect to the established, fiscal year 2008 baseline), complex consolidation, life extension programs, warhead refurbishments, special nuclear material consolidation, physical and cyber security requirements, proposed RRW production and deployment, and how achievement of such milestones aligns with long-term complex transformation goals, specifically identifying the cost impacts of alternative strategies. This should include an unclassified summary of dismantlement progress, relative to the topline stockpile quantity for the given year.

c. A detailed description of the potential impacts of significant reductions in the overall stockpile in terms of cost savings, physical security benefits, complex consolidation, and stockpile reliability, safety, and security.

d. Estimates of staffing requirements corresponding to achievement of five-year milestones and long-term complex transformation plans.

e. A detailed cost-benefit analysis comparing the resources required to maintain the existing facilities for the existing stockpile to new facilities required to support RRW production and deployment, and a description of how NNSA will mitigate the potential risks and costs associated with simultaneously managing both competing objectives in the near term.

The Committee does not accept the same policy argument put forward by the nuclear weapons establishment after the Cold War ended that justified the Science-Based Stockpile Stewardship program. With the demise of the Soviet Union, the U.S. halted nuclear weapons production activities and implemented a moratorium of underground nuclear testing. In 1995, the Department of Energy proposed, and Congress supported, investing billions in new science facilities and super-computing capabilities to maintain the safety, security, and reliability of the existing stockpile without underground nuclear testing. Only a decade later, and after having spent billions of dollars, the NNSA is proposing to begin production of a new nuclear warhead before the country has received any significant return on the earlier investments, even though the major Stockpile Stewardship facilities are not yet completed and fully operational.

In order to make more informed policy and funding decisions, the revised nuclear strategy and stockpile plan must address the specific threats the nuclear stockpile of the future needs to address; the arms control treaties and agreements that bound our nuclear weapons activities; the nuclear policies and programs of other nations; and the impact on nonproliferation goals, policies and programs supported by the United States. Neither the Quadrennial Defense Reviews nor the Administration's 2001 Nuclear Posture Review provided a long term nuclear weapons strategy or the defined total nuclear stockpile requirements for the 21st century. The Administration's contention that the Moscow Treaty puts the U.S. on the path toward the lowest number of nuclear weapons necessary for national security would only be accurate if the Moscow Treaty addressed the actual status of all the warheads in the U.S. stockpile and all the above concerns. It does not.

FY2009 House Report language

U.S. Strategic Nuclear Weapons Strategy for the 21st century and the Future Nuclear Weapons Stockpile.-In Fiscal year 2008 the Congress rejected funding of the proposed Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW).  The President's budget request for fiscal year 2009 nonetheless included $10,000,000 for RRW.  The Committee once again denies this funding.

The Committee is aware of the advantages of a modern warhead design and strongly supports improved surety.  The Committee also understands that high margin provides protection against failure due to compound unknowns. The Committee supports trading off Cold War high yield for improved reliability, in order to move to a smaller stockpile requiring a smaller and cheaper weapons complex with no need for nuclear testing.

That said, the Committee remains to be convinced that a new warhead design will lead to these benefits.  The Committee will not spend the taxpayers' money for a new generation of warheads promoted as leading to nuclear reductions absent a specified glide path to a specified, much smaller force of nuclear weapons.  Similarly, the Committee finds no logic in spending the taxpayers' money on a new generation of warheads promoted as avoiding the need for nuclear testing, while the Secretary of State insists that "the Administration does not support the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty".

The Committee also finds no validity in arguments that we should (1) first build a new nuclear weapons complex and later decide what to do with it, (2) produce a new nuclear warhead and later contemplate how to arrive at a contemporary, coherent, and durable strategy for it, or (3) design a new high-margin warhead first and consider the question of nuclear testing afterward.

Before the Committee will consider funding for most new programs, substantial changes to the existing nuclear weapons complex, or funding for the RRW, the Committee insists that the following sequence be completed:

(1) replacement of Cold War strategies with a 21st Century nuclear deterrent strategy sharply targeted on today's and tomorrow's threats, and capable of serving the national security needs of future Administrations and future Congresses without regard to partisan considerations and without need for nuclear testing;

(2) determination of the size and nature of the nuclear stockpile sufficient to serve that strategy;

(3) determination of the size and nature of the nuclear weapons complex needed to support that future stockpile.

While all three plans can be explored in parallel, the Committee will not support a program that skips any of these essential steps or seeks to execute them out of sequence.  Plans to execute these three steps were specified in the report accompanying the Fiscal year 2008 Omnibus Appropriations Act as requirements for further consideration of RRW.  While the Committee has received preliminary papers on strategy and on the nuclear complex, none of the required plans have been submitted.  The Committee fully affirms its Fiscal year 2008 position, and in most cases will not approve new starts in Weapons Activities until this deficiency has been corrected.

The Committee urges augmented integration between the Departments of Defense and Energy in developing nuclear weapons policy.  The Department of Energy builds and maintains the nuclear stockpile, but stockpile size and composition are determined by the Department of Defense and various interagency bodies. The Committee was dismayed at a recent hearing to find that the Deputy Secretary of Defense was unaware that the cost of the nuclear stockpile is the responsibility of the Department of Energy.

Annual report.-The Secretary of Energy shall, not later than December 1 of each year, submit a report to Congress specifying, for the due date of the report and projected for 5, 10, 15, and  20 years after that date, (1) the number of nuclear weapons of each type in the active and reserve stockpiles (2) the strategic rationale for each type, and (3) the past and projected future total direct lifecycle cost of each type.