House appropriators are on a collision course with the Bush Administration
and their Senate counterpart committee in their recommendations concerning
several nuclear weapons initiatives in the FY 2005 Energy and Water
Development Appropriations Bill. As detailed in committee report 108-554,
subcommittee chairman David Hobson (R-Ohio) and his colleagues did not
provide funding for several Administration nuclear weapons programs
initiatives: RNEP, Advanced Concepts Research, Enhanced Test Site Readiness,
and Modern Pit Facility. Selections from this House committee report
ROBUST NUCLEAR EARTH PENETRATOR AND ADVANCED CONCEPTS RESEARCH:
"The Committee provides no funds for the Advanced Concept Initiative
and the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator (RNEP) feasibility study. The
National Nuclear Security Administration requested $36,557,000 in Directed
Stockpile Work to explore advanced weapons concepts, including $27,557,000
to continue feasibility and cost studies for the Robust Nuclear Earth
Penetrator (RNEP) and $9,000,000 for other advanced concepts definition
studies. The Committee eliminates funding for RNEP and additional advanced
concepts research in favor of higher priority current mission requirements.
The Committee continues to oppose the diversion of resources and intellectual
capital away from the most serious issues that confront the management
of the nation's nuclear deterrent. The NNSA Future Years Nuclear Security
Plan includes a funding profile with $484.7 million for the RNEP over
the next five years and indicates plans to move the program all the
way to Phase 6.4, one step short of production. The Department has not
provided the Committee with any budget justification describing how
a study to modify an existing nuclear weapon could conceivably cost
half a billion dollars.
"Given the FYNSP [Future Years Nuclear Security Plan] funding
profile, the Committee remains unconvinced by the Department's superficial
assurances that the RNEP activity is only a study and that advanced
concepts is only a skills exercise for weapons designers. The Committee
notes that the management direction for fiscal year 2004 sent to the
directors of the weapons design laboratories left little doubt that
the objective of the program was to advance the most extreme new nuclear
weapon goals irrespective of any reservations expressed by Congress.
The Committee cautions the Department to be more consistent in the tone
and content of its communication exchanges with the Congress and subsequent
Departmental policy direction sent to its employees and contractors.
The use of artful language to communicate one message with Congress
and another with its employees on issues of special interest erodes
the credibility of the NNSA and destroys the trust necessary for a useful
dialogue in setting public policy.
"The Committee recognizes the dilemma the NNSA's nuclear weapon
design laboratories find themselves in after the Cold War. In the absence
of a Cold War between nuclear-armed superpowers, the importance of nuclear
weapons to the war fighters in the Pentagon has steadily diminished.
The pressure on the nuclear weapon design laboratories to maintain the
canonical role for their weapons in order to justify increasing budgets
becomes very difficult. By contrast, the Committee's priorities are
maintaining our Nation's nuclear deterrent in a safe and secure condition
and maintaining our Nation's integrity in the international effort to
halt the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The Department's
obsession with launching a new round of nuclear weapons development
runs counter to those priorities. The Committee directs the NNSA to
focus wholly on its primary mission of maintaining the safety, security,
and viability of the existing stockpile by executing the Stockpile Life
Extension Program and Science-based Stewardship activities on time and
SCIENCE CAMPAIGNS, INCLUDING TEST SITE READINESS:
"The Committee recommendation for science campaigns is $256,962,000,
a reduction of $44,000,000 from the budget request. The primary assessment
technology campaign was reduced $15,000,000 to limit the enhanced test
readiness initiative to the goal of achieving a 24-month test readiness
posture. The Committee continues to oppose the 18-month test readiness
posture and refers the Department to the unambiguous Congressional language
provided in the fiscal year 2004 Conference Report requiring the Department
to achieve and maintain a 24-month test readiness posture. The Committee
has not been kept informed, as requested in the fiscal year 2004 Conference
Report, on the progress of the Department's efforts to restore the current
24-month test readiness requirement and, therefore, continues to have
unanswered questions on the efficacy of the overall test readiness initiative.
The Committee recommendation includes $81,521,000 for dynamic materials
properties campaign, a reduction of $10,000,000 from the budget request.
The Committee recommendation includes $48,371,000 for the advanced radiography
campaign, a reduction of $14,000,000 from the budget request. The Committee
is disappointed with the continued delay in the commissioning of the
Dual-Axis Radiographic Hydrotest facility (DARHT), which is significantly
over budget and behind schedule. The secondary assessment technologies
campaign recommendation is $60,597,000, a reduction of $5,000,000 to
the significant increase proposed over the current year funding level
pending the outcome of the Secretary's review of the weapons complex."
PIT MANUFACTURING AND PIT CERTIFICATION:
"The Committee recommendation for the pit manufacturing and
certification campaign is $295,681,000, a reduction of $40,792,000 from
the budget request. The Committee's recommendation maintains the current
year funding level. The Committee commends the Los Alamos National Laboratory
for its work restoring the pit production capability to the nuclear
weapons production complex. The Committee continues to oppose the Department's
accelerated efforts to site and begin construction activities on a modern
pit facility and urges the Department to continue to concentrate its
management attention on meeting the fiscal year 2007 schedule for a
certified pit ready for the stockpile. The Committee provides $142,005,000,
a $10,000,000 increase to the budget request, for W88 Pit Manufacturing
and $101,470,000 for W88 Certification, the same as the budget request.
The Committee provides the additional $10,000,000 in pit manufacturing
to accelerate the ongoing work to expand the capacity of TA-55 at Los
Alamos National Laboratory to address near-term pit manufacturing requirements
as a production hedge while the Department completes the accelerated
plutonium aging experiments.
"The Committee provides no funds for pit manufacturing capability,
a reduction of $20,992,000 to the budget request. The Committee continues
to believe that work on pit manufacturing should be focused on expansion
of the pit production capability of TA-55 at Los Alamos National Laboratory
and notes that the sooner an expanded capability comes on line, the
smaller its capacity needs to be to meet future stockpile requirements.
Accordingly, the Committee provides no funds for the modern pit facility
(MPF) pending the outcome of the Secretary's review of the weapons complex
and the accelerated pit aging experiments. The current suite of DOE
facilities (e.g. NIF, Hanford vitrification plant, DARHT) that were
proposed with great promise only to experience extended schedule delays
and enormous cost overruns leads this Committee to take a very cautious
approach with the taxpayers' money when considering another major infrastructure
investment. The Committee will consider a modern pit facility design
only when the pit aging experiments are completed and the future MPF
capacity requirements as a function of the 2012 stockpile and the expanded
TA-55 production capability are determined.
"The Committee provides the budget request for Pit Campaign
Support Activities at the Nevada Test Site."