Good morning. It is a pleasure to represent the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration today at the 16th Annual Strategic Weapons in the 21st Century Symposium. I would like to thank Kim Budil and Thom Mason for inviting me to speak, and the teams from Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos National Laboratories who organized the symposium.
I wish I could be there in person to see friends, colleagues, and partners from across our nuclear enterprise and to meet new participants. The SW21 gathering is always a great opportunity to hear updates and a wide range of views about the work we do as a community. Thank you for allowing me to participate virtually from Seattle since I have been engaged in meetings with the DOD and the United Kingdom the past several days and unable to get back to Washington to be with you in person.
Last year, I started my remarks with a comment that I was still adjusting to being on the government, rather than the laboratory, side of NNSA. This year, I can say without a doubt, that I am getting the full government experience!
Perhaps the most unexpected event since then was Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and their quick takeover of nuclear zones. But in addition, Russia and China continue advancing their nuclear capabilities, North Korea continues testing missiles and seemingly preparing for a nuclear test, the future of the JCPOA agreement with Iran remains uncertain, Indian and Pakistan are both conducting new missile tests, the President committed to a partnership with the UK and Australia to provide a nuclear-powered submarine capability to Australia, and there is a substantial renewed interest in expanding nuclear power to combat climate change. These events, individually and collectively, are changing the way we think about nuclear security and nuclear deterrence. Possibly not since the Cuban missile crises and the collapse of the former Soviet Union have the American public heard so much about nuclear issues. It has put a new, focused light on the work we do and added new dimensions. So, conferences like this hopefully allow us to lift our heads and absorb what is happening. This is a good time to reflect and a good time to develop a vision for how we can best respond.
On top of these unprecedented global times, we are undergoing significant weapons modernization and infrastructure recapitalization programs here in the United States. As you know, the US programs have been less about adding new capabilities and more about sustaining an effective deterrent. However, as I’ve said before, after a little more than a decade of refurbishment, the weapon modernization programs are becoming more extensive because of weapon aging and technology obsolescence. Executing true weapon modernization programs
requires re-establishment and revitalization of our nuclear production enterprise because we simply cannot produce fully modernized weapons without a rebuilt production complex. The infrastructure efforts in the nuclear security enterprise have not been at this level since the Manhattan project. As a result, we are modernizing weapons and rebuilding and revitalizing our infrastructure side-by-side. Furthermore, the NNSA is determined to sustain and advance science because it is an equally critical part of deterrence. And many question whether the U.S. efforts fully account for the new geopolitical realities.
This era of geopolitical uncertainty, new nuclear warfighting techniques and doctrine, and world-wide nuclear advancements is bringing challenges and opportunities. We must act with a sense of urgency and responsiveness, but also with a sense of responsibility. What we know for certain, is this is our time to transform the nuclear enterprise. We must be innovative and create an enterprise – people, equipment, and facilities – that provides the United States with flexibility and resiliency as we move into a more uncertain future. Those uncertainties are not only geopolitical, but as the recent fires near Los Alamos have shown, must also consider other changes occurring around the globe from climate to supply chain. Our enterprise, our weapons, and our nonproliferation activities together form the deterrent value of NNSA. An enterprise at the ready is not arms racing, it is resilience. And let’s be honest, we simply have no choice. We have program deliverables with little to no margin and infrastructure with little to no margin. We cannot afford to use our budget to recreate the past, we must create our future.
Therefore, the unmatched stockpile stewardship program and science tools that we spent the last 30 years creating must now be used to deliver our programs. Our ability to bring the science tools to our production and design needs is, in fact, urgent. Unless we are successful in this, we will waste our efforts and the funding provided by Congress and the American people rebuilding the past instead of creating the future. In my opinion, this is our number one priority.
NNSA’s Budget and the NPR
Let’s talk a little about budget and the 2022 nuclear posture review. As a result of work by several former administrations and the actions of our would-be adversaries, we have significant bipartisan support from Congress. Our Fiscal Year 2022 appropriations were higher than our budget request in multiple areas and the President’s Budget Request for Fiscal Year 2023 endorses continued growth. We must use this support well because history shows it won’t last forever.
The President’s FY23 Budget Request is also fully informed by the new Nuclear Posture Review. I know there was a panel dedicated to the NPR this morning, but I did want to take a moment to emphasize how the NPR will impact NNSA. The NPR has tied integrated deterrence, nuclear deterrence, and nuclear non-proliferation together as important and complimentary efforts. The NNSA Nuclear Security Enterprise must help advance all of these. We must be proactive with our interagency partners to flesh out new ideas.
The NPR is also clear that the Nuclear Weapons Council should use risk-based decision making as it defines the program of record – a concept I fully endorse - although I also recognize there is work required to implement and hone this technique. The trade-offs we make should be well-
informed, collectively understood, and transparently communicated. I will do my level best to help with this.
Finally, the NPR calls for the enterprise to have a production-based resilience program, a science innovation initiative, and workforce development efforts. Clearly, the NPR is a full-throated endorsement of the work in NNSA. It will help us move forward.
For the upcoming fiscal year, we have challenging deliverables. We are requesting near equal amounts for stockpile management and production modernization – about $5B each. As I said, this is our opportunity to create the flexible and modern weapons and infrastructure for decades to come. But here’s the thing – I have great confidence we will deliver the deterrent even if we have to pull a rabbit or two out of the hat (although I hope we don’t) - this is the business we know. On the other hand, we need to learn what and how to create a truly modern enterprise. When the nuclear enterprise was created during the Manhattan project, time was of the essence. It worked and has served us well, therefore we are reluctant to change anything. However, we need to institute modern practices, modern equipment, modern science – our enterprise should look completely different when we’re done. And we must have confidence in our weapons without testing. This is our ticket for responsive and responsible – modern, flexible design and production enterprises. The advancement in science in our enterprise and throughout the commercial sector should give us great confidence we can succeed.
Weapon Activity Deliverables
It’s worth taking a moment to review recent accomplishments and upcoming deliverables associated with weapon activities.
I'll start with infrastructure since I’ve had the pleasure to participate in a number of ribbon cuttings over the past 10 months. In March we broke ground on the Advanced Fabrication Facility for high explosives at the Pantex Plant. This is a $17 million, 20,000 square foot project that will relocate machining operations from a pair of buildings well past their retirement age to a new facility capable of supporting Pantex’s mission for the next 50 years. In April, I had the pleasure of attending the ribbon cutting for the new John Gordon Albuquerque Complex at Kirtland Airforce Base. A brand new, LEED gold complex that replaces over two dozen buildings dating back to the 1950s, that will reduce our deferred maintenance by almost $40 million while providing a safer and more efficient working space for over 1,200 federal staff. In addition, I have christened buildings in the Livermore Valley Open Campus and at Kansas City. We will continue to lean forward, develop innovative and cost savings approaches, and ask for new authorities for these non-nuclear construction activities. On the nuclear materials side, the Uranium Processing Facility at Y-12 is now fully enclosed and is on track for completion in 2026. When its seven sub-projects are complete, UPF will be one of the largest acquisitions in the history of the nuclear security enterprise. We are also making progress on our plutonium pit production facilities at Los Alamos and Savannah River. Finally, we are reorganizing our headquarters office for infrastructure by combining the infrastructure and minor construction efforts with our major line-item work. This will provide the ability to share best practices and to have all infrastructure activities work seamlessly together.
On the weapons modernization front, we have reached the First Production Unit for both the W88 ALT 370 and B61-12 with both programs on track to meet department of defense schedules. We are advancing the W80-4 efforts aimed for initial operating capability on the long-range standoff cruise missile in 2030. The W87-1 for the Sentinel ICBM will enter Development Engineering in FY2022, and the W93 is in early design. Besides being the first new warhead the NNSA has designed and produced in decades, the W93 Program continues our strong partnership with the United Kingdom. Our W93 program is a separate but parallel effort to the UK’s replacement warhead project for its submarine-based missiles. The UK nuclear capability makes a vital contribution to NATO’s deterrence. Therefore, in total, the U.S. has and will continue five active stockpile programs this decade.
Importantly, this year marks the 30th anniversary of our stockpile stewardship program. This unmatched capability underscores our resolve to maintain a safe, secure, reliable, and effective nuclear weapons arsenal without nuclear explosive testing. We are excited by the Enhanced Capabilities for Subcritical Experiments project being built in Nevada that will provide new insights into fission reactions, improving our ability to understand and monitor warhead aging. This will be bolstered by our Exascale Computing Initiative, that will provide NNSA with next-generation simulation capabilities to support weapons design, science-based stockpile stewardship, and stockpile certification activities. We’re looking forward to bringing, El Capitan, our first machine in this program online in the near future.
Switching gears now to our nonproliferation, counterproliferation and counterterrorism programs – these are as critical as our weapons program at this moment. NNSA is the only organization in the U.S. government with broad activities in both areas, giving us a unique responsibility to provide solutions and advocate balance. Maintaining nuclear deterrence and nonproliferation includes pursuing arms control and strategic stability, reducing global nuclear risks, and offering assurances to our allies and partners.
For decades, our Office of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation has developed and implemented policy and technical solutions aimed at minimizing or eliminating proliferation-capable materials and limiting or preventing the spread of technology and expertise required for nuclear or radiological weapons or devices. To do so, we work with international organizations, partner countries, and the private sector to improve regulations and safeguards; develop interdiction capabilities for material outside of regulatory control; and reduce the need for radioactive material in manufacturing, medical, and research fields.
Of particular importance now is the expansion of nuclear power in response to climate goals. Several months ago, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi visited NNSA and spoke at our Administrator’s Strategy Forum. In his remarks he predicted that the IAEA might have hundreds or even thousands of new facilities to inspect in the coming decades. We need to help make sure that will be done well and efficiently by working closely with the IAEA and partner countries to mature technologies, develop best practices, and provide subject matter expertise to improve monitoring and verification to detect proliferation concerns early.
This expansion of nuclear power comes at a time when Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will cause at least three disruptions in nuclear power: the likely reconsideration by countries who planned to procure Russian nuclear power systems, uranium supply chain uncertainties, and the need to rethink protection of nuclear facilities.
Diving one level deeper, in 2018, there were 72 nuclear reactors either under construction or planned for construction outside of Russia’s borders. More than 50 percent of those reactors are being built by Russian companies and another 20 percent are being built by Chinese companies. This provides Russia and China significant influence over the regulations and safeguards for the next generation of nuclear reactors. It is not yet known how Russia’s recent activities will alter these plans, but it heightens the need for the U.S. to consider investments and new international approaches in this area. NNSA is exploring the use of adaptable 123 Agreements and the implementation of IAEA additional protocols to keep high yet practical proliferation standards. In addition, the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy is cost sharing the development of Advanced Reactors with U.S. manufacturers.
Ensuring that the world has access to fuel for nuclear power that is not dominated by Russia is a current supply chain focus in the Department of Energy. We hope to incentivize the domestic supply chain for Low Enriched Uranium needed by the current fleet and High Assay Low Enriched Uranium needed for the advanced reactor designs.
The NNSA efforts in safeguards and security by design is also taking on a new sense of urgency. Your good ideas for this effort going forward will be needed.
On other nonproliferation fronts, NNSA is increasing our investment in next-generation arms control capabilities through the Arms Control Advancement Initiative. Investing today will improve our responsive when global conditions allow for future arms control agreements. Our new initiative will advance our capability for new types of warhead monitoring and verification by maturing new technologies, maintaining expert engagement, and advancing modeling.
Additionally, NNSA has provided important expertise in ongoing talks with Iran regarding the JCPOA. If a deal is struck and the JCPOA reenters into force, NNSA would once again provide support to the IAEA in analyzing Iran’s nuclear program to determine the necessary requirements to verify Iranian compliance with its obligations. NNSA would also likely provide technical expertise to assist in holding Iran to its obligations, including the removal of nuclear material and heavy water from Iran.
Looking to the future, one of our areas of reinvestment is the development of a bioassurance program. In the past, NNSA had a biodefense program, but that effort was discontinued when the Department of Homeland Security was established. Now twenty years later, the NNSA national labs receive funding to support bio-related activities but not to develop and sustain institutional capabilities or get ahead of threats. We must make sure our labs have the foundation to strengthen their ability to detect and deter global threats, address vulnerabilities in the biotech and biomanufacturing industries, and support U.S. strategic goals in the bioeconomy. These efforts, together with other steps being taken by our partners in the Department of Energy, will enable a more engaged DOE role in biosecurity.
NNSA’s counterproliferation and counterterrorism programs provide robust forensic and emergency preparedness capabilities and work with allies and partners around the world to build capacity. This includes the NEST program, NNSA’s multi-mission emergency response capability which utilizes on-call technical specialists trained and equipped to respond and manage nuclear incidents and accidents worldwide. Nowhere has our ability to respond to global incidents been more evident, or more important lately, than in Ukraine.
From the start of Russia’s invasion, NNSA personnel have been supporting officials from the interagency, IAEA, foreign partners, and Ukraine to monitor and assess Ukraine’s nuclear facilities and assets. Activities have included providing technical advice about radiological and nuclear-related incidents, procuring and sharing data from autonomous sensors that serve as a backup to IAEA sensors, and deploying nuclear explosion detection and characterization equipment to allied and partner countries surrounding Ukraine. Thanks to the incredible work of our dedicated personnel across the Nuclear Security Enterprise and to great regional allies and partners, we have been able to successfully field capabilities and deliver timely and critical data to our government and our Ukrainian partners.
In a broader context, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has raised questions about the elimination of nuclear arsenals in exchange for guarantees of its sovereignty and territorial integrity. To offset the potential to draw the conclusion that acquiring nuclear weapons is necessary, we need to increase our efforts to assure our allies that our guarantees for their security remain ironclad and provide them confidence in the safety, reliability, and effectiveness of our nuclear arsenal.
With international cooperation in mind let me touch briefly on AUKUS. This trilateral partnership between the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia is requiring significant effort from both naval reactors and nonproliferation organizations at NNSA. The goal of AUKUS is to provide nuclear-powered, conventionally armed, submarine capability to the Australian government to promote security, and free and open trade in the Indo-Pacific. In addition to engaging in consultations about naval reactors, NNSA is providing technical advice to the interagency and our AUKUS partners on the requirements for effective nuclear stewardship and implementation of strong safeguards. We are in active consultations with the IAEA and are holding ourselves and our partners to the strictest possible safeguards standards. We hope our work with the IAEA to implement robust safeguards will strengthen the nonproliferation regime by reinforcing norms and practices regarding the export of nuclear technology and reaffirming Australia’s long-standing commitment not to pursue nuclear weapons consistent with its obligations as a party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Additionally, in the interest of providing the highest levels of security for this undertaking, Australia has committed not to enrich uranium or reprocess spent fuel in the context of AUKUS.
This has been a lot to cover. Clearly, this is a pivotal moment. We have the opportunity and obligation to enact once-in-a-generation change that will guide the nuclear security enterprise for the next half century or more. Our deterrence mission must undertake three activities in a
simultaneous, interconnected fashion – science, product, and infrastructure. We will only succeed if all three areas move forward and innovate together.
As NNSA Administrator, I am dedicated to delivering our unparalleled national capabilities at an increased pace and simultaneously modernizing our enterprise. I can’t wait to see what we do together.
Thank you all and I look forward to your questions.