Follow this link to skip to the main content

Congressional Testimony

Testimony on the "FY 2008 Budget Request for the NNSA's Office of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation" before the House Appropriations Energy and Water Subcommittee
Mar 22, 2007
Deputy Administrator William Tobey

Thank you for the opportunity to discuss the President’s fiscal year (FY) 2008 budget request for the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation program. This is my first appearance before this committee as the deputy administrator for defense nuclear nonproliferation, and I want to thank all of the members for their strong support for our vital national security missions.

The Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Program mission is to detect, prevent, and reverse the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Our nonproliferation programs address the danger that hostile nations or terrorist groups may acquire weapons-usable material, dual-use production or technology, or WMD capabilities. The FY 2008 request for these programs totals $1.673 billion, a slight decrease from the FY 2007 operating level. This reduction is the result of NNSA achieving and approaching important milestones in our nuclear security work in Russia, including the completion of major security upgrades at several sites under the International Nuclear Materials Protection and Cooperation program (MPC&A) and the anticipated end of construction of a fossil fuel plant in Seversk by the end of calendar year 2008 under the Elimination of Weapons Grade Plutonium Production (EWGPP) Program.

Acquisition of nuclear weapons, WMD capabilities, technologies, and expertise by rogue states or terrorists stands as one of the most potent threats to the United States and international security. The continued pursuit of nuclear weapons by terrorists and states of concern underscores the urgency of NNSA’s efforts to secure vulnerable nuclear weapons and weapons-usable nuclear materials, to improve capabilities to detect and interdict nuclear weapons or materials, to halt the production of fissile material, and ultimately, to dispose of surplus weapons-usable materials. The FY 2008 budget request will enable NNSA to continue the activities that support these crucial threat reduction initiatives.

Preventing access to nuclear weapons and material has many dimensions. Our highest priority is to keep these dangerous materials out of the hands of the world’s most dangerous actors. Absent access to sufficient quantities of key fissile materials, there can be no nuclear weapon. Much of our emphasis has focused on Russia because that is where most of the poorly secured material was located. We have made remarkable progress cooperating with Russia to strengthen protection, control, and accounting of its nuclear weapons and materials. Meeting our commitment under the Bratislava joint statement to conclude security upgrade activities at Russian nuclear sites by the end of 2008 will be our chief priority in FY 2008. As a result of our efforts to accelerate this work in the wake of 9/11 and the momentum created by the Bratislava process, we are well-positioned to reach this significant milestone on schedule. Although our direct upgrade efforts are drawing to a close after over a decade of work, we will continue to work cooperatively with Russia to ensure the long-term sustainability of the systems and procedures we have implemented.

Not all nuclear material of concern is located in Russia. We are working with other partners to secure weapons-usable nuclear materials worldwide and to strengthen security at civil nuclear facilities. One area of concern is research reactors, which often use a highly enriched uranium (HEU) fuel suitable for bombs. Our Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) seeks to convert research reactors worldwide from HEU to low enriched uranium (LEU) fuel and further to repatriate U.S. and Russian-supplied HEU from these facilities to its country of origin. A major accomplishment was the return of 268 kilograms of Soviet-origin HEU from Germany to Russia, where it will be down blended to LEU fuel. This repatriation operation represents the largest shipment of Soviet-origin HEU conducted to date under the GTRI.

We are taking aggressive steps to interdict weapons-usable nuclear materials and to prevent dissemination of nuclear related technology via strengthened export controls and improved international cooperation. As a complement to improving physical security, the Second Line of Defense Program works to enhance our foreign partners’ ability to interdict illicit trafficking in nuclear materials. Under this program, we deploy radiation detection systems at high-risk land-border crossings, airports and seaports, increasing the likelihood of interdiction of diverted nuclear materials entering or leaving the country.

The Megaports Initiative, established in 2003, responds to concerns that terrorists could use the global maritime shipping network to smuggle fissile materials or warheads. By installing radiation detection systems at major ports throughout the world, this initiative strengthens the detection and interdiction capabilities of our partner countries.

To prevent the diffusion of critical technologies, we are training front line customs officers around the world. We are working to implement United Nations (UN) Security Council Resolution 1540, which establishes a requirement to criminalize proliferation involving non-state actors and encourages states to strengthen export control laws and improve enforcement. Because keeping terrorists from acquiring materials will be easier if we limit enrichment of uranium or reprocessing of spent fuel, the President proposed in 2006 a new initiative, the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP), which would provide nations that refrain from developing or deploying enrichment and reprocessing technology assured access to the benefits of nuclear power.

These are critical steps, but they alone cannot address the problem. Indeed, there is enough fissile material in the world today for tens of thousands of weapons. An integral part of our strategy, therefore, has been to induce other states to stop producing materials for nuclear weapons, as the United States did many years ago. We recently submitted a draft treaty at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva to do just that. We also supplement international diplomatic efforts with bilateral programs. For example, Russia still produces weapons-grade plutonium, not because it needs it for weapons, but because the reactors that produce it also supply heat and electricity to local communities. We are replacing these reactors with fossil fuel plants. By 2008, two of the existing three plutonium-producing reactors in Russia will shut down permanently, with the third shut down by 2010.

As previously indicated, there are a number of effective synergies between NNSA’s weapons activities and our nuclear nonproliferation objectives. For example, we are disposing of the substantial quantities of surplus weapons-grade material that resulted from the thousands of warheads that we have dismantled by down-blending it to lower enrichment levels suitable for use in commercial reactors. We are also working with Russia to eliminate Russian HEU. Under the HEU Purchase Agreement, nearly 300 metric tons of uranium from Russia’s dismantled nuclear weapons—enough material for more than 11,000 nuclear weapons— has been down-blended for use in commercial reactors in the United States. Nuclear power generates 20 percent of American electricity and half of that is generated by fuel derived from Russian HEU. As a result, one-tenth of the U.S. electrical energy need is powered by material removed from former Soviet nuclear weapons. In addition to the efforts on HEU, the United States and Russia have each committed to dispose of 34 metric tons of surplus weapon-grade plutonium.

If we are to encourage responsible international actions, the United States must set the example. We have dramatically improved physical security of U.S. nuclear weapons and weapons-usable materials in the years since the attacks of 9/11. We recently withdrew over 200 metric tons of HEU from any further use as fissile material in nuclear weapons; a portion of this will be devoted to powering our nuclear navy for the next fifty years, obviating the need over that period for high-enrichment of uranium for any military purpose. Seventeen tons will be blended down and set aside as an assured fuel supply as part of global efforts to limit the spread of enrichment and reprocessing technology.

The risk of nuclear terrorism is not limited to the United States, and the success of our efforts to deny access to nuclear weapons and material is very much dependent on whether our foreign partners share a common recognition of the threat and a willingness to combat it. Last July, just before the G-8 summit, Presidents Bush and Putin announced the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism to strengthen cooperation worldwide on nuclear materials security and to prevent terrorist acts involving nuclear or radioactive substances. Paired with UN Security Council Resolution 1540, we now have both the legal mandate and the practical means necessary for concrete actions to secure nuclear material against the threat of diversion.

FY 2008 NNSA Budget Request Overview

The President’s FY 2008 budget request for NNSA totals $9.4 billion, an increase of $306 million or 3.4 percent over the FY 2007 operating plan. We are managing our program activities within a disciplined five-year budget and planning envelope, and are successfully balancing the administration’s high priority initiatives to reduce global nuclear danger as well as future planning for the nation’s nuclear weapons complex within an overall modest growth rate.

The NNSA budget justification contains information for five years as required by Sec. 3253 of P.L. 106-065. This section, entitled Future-Years Nuclear Security Program, requires the administrator to submit to Congress each year the estimated expenditures necessary to support the programs, projects and activities of the NNSA for a five-year fiscal period, in a level of detail comparable to that contained in the budget.

The FY 2008-2012 Future Years Nuclear Security Program (FYNSP0 projects $50.0 billion for NNSA programs though 2012. This is an increase of about $1.5 billion over last year's projections in line with the administration’s strong commitment to the nation’s defense and homeland security. The FY 2008 request is slightly smaller than last year’s projection; however, the outyears are increased starting in 2009. Within these amounts, there is significant growth projected for the Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation programs to support homeland security, including new initiatives and acceleration of threat reduction programs and increased inspection of seagoing cargo destined for ports in the United States.

Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Program Areas

Global Threat Reduction Initiative

The administration’s FY 2008 request of $120 million for the Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) is an increase of $4 million over the FY 2007 operating plan. The GTRI reduces the risk of terrorists acquiring nuclear and radiological materials for an improvised nuclear or radiological dispersal device by working at civilian sites worldwide to: 1) convert reactors from the use of WMD-usable HEU to LEU; 2) remove or dispose of excess WMD-usable nuclear and radiological materials; and 3) protect at-risk WMD-usable nuclear and radiological materials from theft and sabotage until a more permanent threat reduction solution can be implemented. Specific increases in the GTRI budget reflect, for example, the serial production and delivery of 27 100-ton casks for transportation and long-term storage of 10,000 kg of HEU and 3,000 kg of plutonium removed from the BN-350 reactor site in Kazakhstan.

International Nuclear Material Protection and Cooperation

NNSA’s International Material Protection and Cooperation (MPC&A) FY 2008 budget request of $372 million is a decrease of $101 million from the FY 2007 operating plan. This decrease reflects the successful completion of nuclear security upgrade work at Russian Strategic Rocket Forces and Russian Navy sites. International material protection work continues in other areas, including the continuation of security upgrades at a significant number of sites within the Russian nuclear complex, including those operated by the Federal Atomic Energy Agency (Rosatom), and the 12th Main Directorate of the Ministry of Defense. Security upgrades for Russian Rosatom facilities will be completed by the end of 2008 -- two years ahead of the original schedule, consistent with the Bratislava initiative.

The MPC&A program is also focused on reducing proliferation risks by converting Russian HEU to LEU and by consolidating weapons-usable nuclear material into fewer, more secure locations. In FY 2008, we will eliminate an additional 1.2 metric tons of HEU for a cumulative total of 10.7 metric tons.

Our Second Line of Defense (SLD) program, a natural complement to our efforts to lock down vulnerable nuclear material and weapons, installs radiation detection equipment at key transit and border crossings, airports and major ports to deter, detect and interdict illicit trafficking in nuclear and radioactive materials. During FY 2008, the SLD Program plans to install detection equipment at an additional fifty-one strategic overseas transit and border sites. Under the Megaports Initiative, we have deployed radiation detection and cargo scanning equipment at six ports to date in Greece, the Netherlands, Bahamas, Sri Lanka, Singapore and Spain. During FY 2008, we plan to install detection equipment at three additional large ports: the port of Antwerp in Belgium, the port of Caucedo in the Dominican Republic, and the port of Salalah in Oman.

Additionally, we are joining elements of the Megaports Initiative and the Container Security Initiative (CSI) under a new maritime security initiative, the Secure Freight Initiative (SFI) Phase I. This new initiative is a partnership between host governments, commercial container shipping entities and the U.S. government that serves to increase the number of containers physically scanned for nuclear and radiological materials and to create a detailed record of each U.S.-bound container. Data from radiation detection equipment provided by NNSA and from non-intrusive imaging equipment provided by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will enhance the identification of high-risk containers and facilitate the prompt resolution of potential nuclear or radiological threats.

Nonproliferation and International Security

While the thrust of GTRI and MPC&A is to secure nuclear sites, convert reactors, and repatriate fuel from reactors worldwide, NNSA’s Office of Nonproliferation and International Security (ONIS) provides technical and policy expertise in support of U.S. efforts to strengthen international nonproliferation arrangements (e.g., the Nuclear Suppliers Group, UN Security Council Resolution 1540 and the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism). The ONIS staff also fosters implementation of global nonproliferation requirements through engagement with foreign partners and the redirection of WMD expertise, and helps to develop and implement mechanisms for transparent and verifiable nuclear reductions. The FY 2008 budget request for the ONIS is $125 million. This request includes funds for providing technical support to strengthen the International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards system and supports programs to improve foreign governments’ export control systems. This request will augment U.S. nonproliferation cooperation with China and India, and enhance transparency and scientist redirection activities with Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Libya and Iraq.

The budget request also supports activities to build up the nonproliferation component of the GNEP initiative. While GNEP is a long-term vision for the future of expanded use of nuclear power, NNSA plays an important role by providing leadership and technical expertise in the areas of safeguards technology, safeguards cooperation, and fuel supply arrangements to mitigate the proliferation risks that otherwise might accompany the expansion of nuclear power around the world envisioned by GNEP.

Elimination of Weapons Grade Plutonium Production

Turning to programs that focus on halting the production of nuclear materials, the Elimination of Weapons Grade Plutonium Production (EWGPP) program staff are working toward completing the permanent shutdown of two of the three remaining weapons-grade plutonium production reactors in Seversk and Zheleznogorsk in Russia. The FY 2008 budget request of $182 million is a decrease of $44 million from the FY 2007 operating plan, reflecting the planned completion of the fossil fuel heat and electricity facility at Seversk. The budget request provides the funding required to shut down these reactors permanently and to replace the heat and electricity these reactors supply to local communities with energy generated by fossil fuel plants by December 2008 in Seversk and by December 2010 in Zheleznogorsk. The reactors will be shut down immediately once the fossil-fuel plants are completed, eliminating the annual production of more than one metric ton of weapons-grade plutonium.

Fissile Materials Disposition

In addition to curbing the production of dangerous nuclear materials, NNSA is working to reduce the existing stockpiles of nuclear materials in both Russia and the United States. To that end, the FY 2008 Fissile Materials Disposition budget request of $610 million will contribute to the elimination of surplus U.S. and Russian weapon-grade plutonium and surplus U.S. highly-enriched uranium. Of this amount, $480.8 million will be allocated toward disposing of surplus U.S. plutonium, including $333.8 million for the Mixed Oxide (MOX) Fuel Fabrication Facility and $60 million for the Pit Disassembly and Conversion Facility (PDCF) and the Waste Solidification Building. Of the remaining amount, $66.8 million will be devoted to the disposition of surplus U.S. HEU and $20.2 million will be focused on supporting activities common to both programs.

This budget request also provides funding for ongoing efforts to dispose of surplus U.S. HEU, including down blending 17.4MT of HEU in support of establishing the Reliable Fuel Supply Program, available to countries with good nonproliferation credentials that face a disruption in supply that cannot be corrected through normal commercial means. This initiative marks the first step towards a key GNEP policy aim of creating a reliable nuclear fuel mechanism, providing countries a strong incentive to refrain from acquiring enrichment and reprocessing capabilities.

Nonproliferation and Verification Research and Development

The FY 2008 budget requests $265 million for Nonproliferation and Verification Research and Development. This effort includes a number of programs that make unique contributions to national security by researching the technological advancements necessary to detect and prevent the illicit diversion of nuclear materials. Within the Proliferation Detection program, fundamental research is conducted in fields such as radiation detection, which supports national and homeland security agencies. It also advances basic and applied technologies for the nonproliferation community with dual-use benefit to national counter-proliferation and counter-terrorism missions. Specifically, this program develops the tools, technologies, techniques, and expertise for the identification, location, and analysis of the facilities, materials, and processes of undeclared and proliferant WMD programs. As the sole provider for the science base to the U.S. national nuclear test monitoring system, the Nuclear Explosion Monitoring Program produces the nation’s operational sensors that monitor from space the entire planet to detect and report surface, atmospheric, or space nuclear detonations. This program also produces and updates the regional geophysical datasets enabling operation of the nation’s ground-based seismic monitoring networks to detect and report underground detonations.

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Support

A research and education partnership program with the HBCUs and the Massie Chairs of Excellence was initiated by Congress through earmarks in the Office of the Administrator appropriation in FY 2005, FY 2006 and FY 2007. The NNSA has implemented an effective program to target national security research opportunities for these institutions to increase their participation in national security-related research and to train and recruit HBCU graduates for employment within the NNSA. The NNSA goal is a stable $10 million annual effort. In FY 2008, the Office of the Administrator budget request will provide continued funding of $1 million to support certain HBCU activities. The programs funded in the Weapons Activities request will provide approximately $4 to $6 million of support to HBCU programs. In addition, the Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation request will provide approximately $2 to $3 million to this program. Lastly, the Naval Reactors program will fund approximately $1 million of HBCU programs in FY 2008.

Conclusion

I am confident that NNSA is headed in the right direction in the coming fiscal year. The budget request will support continuing our progress in protecting and certifying our nation’s strategic deterrent, transforming our nuclear weapons stockpile and infrastructure, reducing the global danger from proliferation and weapons of mass destruction, and enhancing the force projection capabilities of the U.S. nuclear Navy. It will enable us to continue to maintain the safety and security of our people, information, materials, and infrastructure. Taken together, each aspect of this budget request will allow us to meet our national security responsibilities during the upcoming fiscal year and well into the future.

A statistical appendix follows that contains the budget figures supporting our Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation request. I look forward to answering any questions on the justification for the requested budget.

FY2008 Buget Tables (pdf)