Administrator Linton F. Brooks
Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the
Administration’s views on nuclear policy, U.S. nuclear forces, the nuclear weapons stockpile to
support those forces, and ongoing work on implementing the 2001 Nuclear Posture Review
(NPR). I also want to thank all of the Members for their strong support for our critical national
security activities. Before I begin my remarks, I would like to say how pleased I am to be on this
panel today with my friend and colleague, Admiral James Ellis, Commander of the United States
Strategic Command, who will present the military perspective on the same issues.
Overview of the Nuclear Posture Review
Since before he took office, President Bush has been committed to achieving a credible deterrent
with the lowest number of nuclear weapons consistent with current and future national security
requirements. On 1 May 2001, at the National Defense University, he articulated his vision:
The President recognized clearly that, almost a decade after the collapse of the Soviet Union, it
was time to conduct a fundamental examination of the role of nuclear weapons in the post-Cold
War world. The results of that reexamination were described in the December 2001 Nuclear
Posture Review. The purpose of that review was to set forth the direction for American nuclear
forces over the next decade and beyond. Let me highlight some key points about the review.
The Nuclear Posture Review reassessed the role of nuclear forces and their contribution toward
meeting defense policy goals. It reaffirmed that nuclear weapons, for the foreseeable future, will
remain a crucial element of U.S. national security strategy. But, consistent with the changed
international environment, the Nuclear Posture Review represented a radical departure from the
past and the most fundamental re-thinking of the roles and purposes of nuclear weapons in
almost a quarter-century. Among the many changes, three are the most important:
Let me discuss each of these in turn.
The Policy Goals of U.S. Nuclear Forces
Under the new thinking of the Nuclear Posture Review, our nuclear forces serve four goals:
The first two policy goals help determine the size of our nuclear forces, while the second two
govern the nature of those forces. As the Committee will readily see, these goals are, in a sense,
the goals of our entire military. That is why Admiral Ellis often says that we should, perhaps,
refer to the Nuclear Posture Review more generally as a Strategic Posture Review.
The New Triad
Had Admiral Ellis and I appeared before you a few years ago, we would have spoken of a “triad”
of strategic nuclear forces. This triad included bombers, ICBMs and Submarine Launched
Ballistic Missiles, each with unique strengths that operated synergistically to ensure our ability to
retaliate under any condition of war initiation. The Nuclear Posture Review broadens our
thinking to encompass a New Triad of flexible response capabilities consisting of:
To provide a practical means to implement this new, integrated approach, the President
established a new Strategic Command, with responsibility for global strike—both nuclear and
non-nuclear—and for integrating missile defenses with offenses.
Contrary to some press reports, this new triad—and the Nuclear Posture Review generally—
continued the trend of the past decade towards a reduced reliance on nuclear forces in U.S.
national security strategy. The new emphasis on ballistic missile defenses means that the U.S.
will no longer be as heavily dependent on offensive strike forces to enforce deterrence as it was
during the Cold War. The strengthening of non-nuclear strike forces—including precision
conventional strike and information operations—means that the U.S. will be less dependent than
it has been in the past on nuclear forces to provide offensive deterrent capabilities.
Present and Future Nuclear Stockpiles
Our new approach, coupled with the judgment that we no longer need to plan our forces as if
Russia presented an immediate threat to the United States, was the basis for dramatic
reductions—codified in the Moscow Treaty—in operationally deployed strategic nuclear forces.
Over the next eight years, the United States will cut the number of deployed warheads by
approximately two-thirds from today’s level. But the experience of the past decade and a half
makes it clear that it is unwise for us to base our security on the false belief that we can predict
the future. Thus, while dramatically reducing the number of deployed weapons, we must plan
against an uncertain future.
Specifically, the United States needs to be prepared to respond to both unforeseen technical
problems and unanticipated geopolitical change. One element of such a response is a responsive
infrastructure, which I will discuss in a moment. But another component of such a response is
the non-deployed stockpile. As part of its plan to implement the Nuclear Posture Review, the
Administration is conducting an assessment that, when completed, will clarify the long-term
requirements for non-deployed weapons. The Congress requested such a revised stockpile plan
as well. The Administration is working to complete this complex task as soon as possible.
While we regret the delay, the importance of nuclear weapons to our security makes it imperative
to conduct a thorough review.
While I am not prepared to provide specifics—and could not do so in an unclassified forum in
any case—I can provide some of the considerations factoring into the review. The 2012 nuclear
stockpile will be substantially reduced from current levels. But reductions will not lower the
stockpile to 1700-2200 total warheads. Additional warheads over and above the operationally
deployed strategic warheads will be needed for routine maintenance of the stockpile including as
logistics spares and to replace those warheads eliminated during destructive surveillance testing.
In addition, a small number of warheads (reduced by 90% from Cold War levels) for U.S. nonstrategic
nuclear forces will be retained, among other things, to meet commitments to allies.
Finally, warheads over and above the operationally deployed force will be retained over the near
term for prudent risk management in connection with mitigating geopolitical and technical risks.
In particular, sufficient warheads will be retained to augment the operationally deployed force in
the event that world events require a more robust deterrence posture.
We also must preserve diversity of warhead types in the overall stockpile in order to mitigate
technical risks. Although we are making progress in restoring a responsive nuclear weapons
production infrastructure, we are not yet able to produce replacement warheads in sufficient
quantity to respond if a technical problem called into question the safety or reliability of one or
more warheads critical to our nation’s deterrent. Thus, for example, we are planning to deploy
two types of ICBM warheads—the W87 and W78—and will retain sufficient numbers of these
two types in reserve so that if a technical failure occurred in one type, there would be sufficient
warheads of the other type to restore the operationally-deployed ICBM force. We seek to apply
this approach, where appropriate, to other nuclear delivery means.
Responsive Nuclear Weapons Infrastructure
Of the many new concepts in the Nuclear Posture Review, one of the most important is formal
recognition that a robust defense R&D and industrial base—a key element of which is a
responsive nuclear weapons infrastructure—is as important as strike forces or defenses in
achieving our overall defense goals. The demonstrated capabilities of the defense scientific,
technical and manufacturing infrastructure, including its ability to sustain and adapt, provides the
U.S. with the means to respond to new, unexpected, or emerging threats in a timely manner.
If we can employ this infrastructure to produce new or replacement warheads on a timescale in
which geopolitical threats could emerge, or in response to stockpile “surprise”, then we can go
much further in reducing the standing stockpile and meet the President’s vision of the smallest
stockpile consistent with our nation’s security.
By “responsive” we refer to the resilience of the nuclear weapons enterprise to unanticipated
events or emerging threats, and the ability to anticipate innovations by an adversary and to
counter them before our deterrent is degraded—all the while continuing to carry out the day-today
activities in support of the stockpile. Unanticipated events could include complete failure of
a deployed warhead type. Emerging threats could call for new or modified warhead
development, or for providing additional warheads for force augmentation.
A key measure of “responsiveness” is how long it would take to carry out certain activities to
address stockpile “surprise” or deal with new or emerging threats. Specific goals have been
established for several activities; our progress towards meeting them is an important measure of
the success of our program:
A responsive infrastructure has both intellectual and physical dimensions. Intellectually, the
Administration’s proposals to examine new advanced concepts will allow us to train the
scientists and engineers who must provide the design underpinning for a responsive
infrastructure. Physically, restoring a capability to produce plutonium pits in sufficient quantities
will be essential. The Modern Pit Facility—or, more accurately, a pit rework facility—will
support the pit remanufacturing needs of the entire stockpile. It is important to understand that
we need this facility even if the United States never produces another new weapon. All existing
plutonium pits will ultimately need to be rebuilt due to aging effects, for example, caused by
radioactive decay of plutonium.
We are just beginning the transformation to a responsive nuclear weapons infrastructure. I call
for your support in this important endeavor.
Near Term Implications
Let me now discuss two specific elements of the Administration’s budget request and how they
relate to the principles we have been discussing. The Nuclear Posture Review highlighted the
importance of ensuring that the weapons complex can adjust to the changing requirements of nuclear deterrence in the coming decades. In FY 2005, we propose continuing a modest research
effort on Advanced Concepts to meet potential new or emerging requirements. We also propose
continuing the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator feasibility and cost study now underway.
Because there has been a great deal of discussion on the implications of these two programs, I
would like to review them in some detail. We intend to use advanced concepts funds to
investigate new ideas, not necessarily new weapons. For example, we are beginning a study
examining the feasibility of adapting an existing nuclear warhead to provide a cruise missile
capability that incorporates enhanced safety and use control. Some additional work is underway
to examine the feasibility of improving warhead design margins in order to ensure continued
high confidence in warhead reliability without nuclear testing. We are also in discussion with
the Air Force on examining the utility of nuclear weapons to destroy chemical and biological
agents, although no decisions to study this area have yet been reached. The Departments of
Defense and Energy will jointly determine the specific uses of the remaining FY 2004 and the
proposed FY 2005 funds.
Perhaps the single most contentious issue in our budget request is continued funding for the
Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator study. This study is to determine whether existing warheads –
the B61 and the B83—could be adapted without nuclear testing to improve our ability to hold at
risk hardened, deeply buried facilities that may be important to a future adversary. I want to
correct several misconceptions about this effort:
Let me conclude my statement by addressing three misconceptions that have been raised both by
members of Congress and by others:
While press accounts have spoken of Administration plans to develop new, low yield weapons,
there are no such plans. Nor does repeal of the Prohibition on Low-Yield Warhead Development
commit the United States to developing, producing or deploying new, low-yield warheads. Such
warhead concepts could not in any case proceed to full-scale development, much less production
and deployment, unless Congress authorizes and appropriates the funds required. Repeal of this
vague restriction simply removed the chilling effect on scientific inquiry that has hampered our
scientists’ ability to explore technical options of any yield because such options “could lead to”
designs of less than five kilotons. Our scientists need the freedom to explore new concepts both
to maintain and exercise their intellectual capabilities and to respond to needs that one day might
be articulated by this or a future President.
Nor are U.S. research and development programs blurring the line between conventional and
nuclear weapons, making nuclear use more likely. This is not simply an assertion, but is
empirically based. Recall that from the 1950’s and continuing through today, the U.S. nuclear
stockpile has contained warheads capable of producing very low nuclear yields. At the height of
the Cold War many thousands of these warheads were deployed, but never used—even in
regional confrontations where their use would not necessarily have provoked a Soviet response.
There is no evidence that the simple possession of these weapons made nuclear use by the United
States more likely. To be clear, only the President can authorize use of U.S. nuclear weapons
and no President would be inclined to employ any nuclear weapon, irrespective of its explosive
power, in anything but the gravest of circumstances. Simply put, the nuclear threshold for the
United States has been, is, and always will be very high.
Along these lines, the Nuclear Posture Review emphasized an increasing potential to base
deterrence more on non-nuclear and missile defense capabilities, and called for development of
high-precision, advanced conventional weapons to replace nuclear systems, where possible, to
further reduce our reliance on nuclear forces to deter aggression.
Finally, the major U.S. nonproliferation objective is to prevent rogue states and terrorist groups
from acquiring weapons of mass destruction and systems for their delivery. Neither advanced
concepts efforts nor studies of an earth-penetrating weapon will increase incentives for terrorists
to acquire such weapons—those incentives are already high and are unrelated to U.S.
capabilities. Nor are they likely to have any impact on rogue states, whose proliferation
activities march forward independently of the U.S. nuclear program. Over the past decade we
have seen very significant reductions in the numbers of U.S. (and Russian) nuclear weapons,
reductions in the alert levels of nuclear forces, and the abandonment of U.S. nuclear testing. No
new warheads have been deployed and there has been little U.S. nuclear modernization. There is
absolutely no evidence that these developments have caused North Korea or Iran to slow down
covert programs to acquire capabilities to produce nuclear weapons. On the contrary, those
programs have accelerated during this period.
Mr. Chairman, the United States will continue to lead the way to a safer world through the deep
reductions in nuclear forces codified by the Moscow Treaty, through Nunn-Lugar and other
cooperative threat reduction efforts, and through other actions. At the same time, although
conventional forces will assume a larger share of the deterrent role, we will maintain an
effective, reliable, and capable—though smaller—nuclear force as a hedge against a future that is
uncertain and in a world in which substantial nuclear arsenals remain. Our ongoing efforts to
reduce the current stockpile to the minimum consistent with national security requirements, to
address options for transformation of this smaller stockpile, and to restore a responsive nuclear
weapons infrastructure are key elements of the Administration’s national security strategy.
Carrying out these efforts will pose no risk to critical U.S. nonproliferation objectives.
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my statement. I look forward to your questions.