Statement of Anne M. Harrington, Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation to the Senate Armed Services Sub Committee On Emerging Threats and Capabilities

Congressional Testimony
May 10, 2011

Chairwoman Hagan, Ranking Member Portman, thank you for the opportunity to join you today to discuss the investments the President has requested for the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation programs.  But more importantly, thank you for your continued support of the National Nuclear Security Administration, and the 35,000 men and women working across the enterprise to keep our country safe, protect our allies, and enhance global security.  We could not do this work without strong, bipartisan support and engaged leadership from the Congress.

Since I have submitted a more detailed written statement for the record, I will keep my opening remarks brief. 

If I could, I would like to start with a simple, but important statement. Preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and keeping dangerous nuclear and radiological materials out of the hands of terrorists is a vital national security priority.  These are without a doubt national security programs.

As President Obama said in his speech in Prague in April 2009, the threat of a terrorist acquiring and using a nuclear weapon is the most immediate and extreme threat we face.  Indeed, it is hard to imagine a more dangerous threat to our nation.

That’s the danger. Here is the good news: on any given day, we have some of our nation’s most talented and hardworking people engaged worldwide – in more than 100 countries – to reduce the global nuclear threat.  In that work, we are joined by a network of similarly committed nations, international organizations, non-governmental organizations, and individuals that support, enable and collaborate with us on these critical efforts.

President Obama has shown strong leadership in protecting the safety and security of the American people by working to reduce global nuclear dangers. As part of that effort, he has requested $2.5 billion in Fiscal Year 2012 and $14.2 billion over the next five years to reduce the global nuclear threat by detecting, securing, safeguarding, disposing and controlling nuclear and radiological material, as well as promoting the responsible application of nuclear technology and science.  This includes stemming the risk of expertise proliferation through innovative science and technology partnerships.

The President’s request provides the resources required to meet commitments secured during the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit.  NNSA, along with the Department of Defense and other U.S. Government departments and agencies, working with countries around the world, is implementing these commitments. As partners, we are engaged in a focused and intensified international effort to lock down or remove vulnerable nuclear materials. We are executing an integrated, prioritized strategy that aligns authorities, capabilities, and resources to address global nuclear threats.  This three-tiered strategy covers the site, country and global levels.  NNSA takes a lead role in many of the activities that meet this goal, including removing or eliminating special nuclear material when possible, securing that material when not, and providing critical support to the International Atomic Energy Agency. 
 
For fiscal year 2012, our budget request includes more than $1 billion to remove and prevent the smuggling of dangerous nuclear material around the world and enable NNSA to continue leading international efforts to implement more stringent standards for the physical protection of nuclear material and nuclear facilities worldwide. 

The President is also seeking $890 million for Fissile Materials Disposition, which supports the continued construction of the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility, Waste Solidification Building, and efforts to baseline the Pit Disassembly and Conversion Project at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina. 
 
Not only will these facilities be used to permanently eliminate more than 34 metric tons of U.S. surplus weapons plutonium, this will be done in a way that produces electricity for American consumers.   Similarly, as part of our broader nonproliferation effort, Russia will also be disposing of 34 metric tons of its surplus weapons plutonium in a way that will provide energy for Russia.

Finally, this budget request directs more than $360 million to support the research and development required to create new technologies for detecting nuclear proliferation or testing, and for monitoring compliance with nuclear nonproliferation and arms control agreements.

To me, this last point is key.  Investing in the future of the scientific and technical underpinnings of our program is critical to implementing the President’s nuclear security agenda. This is serious business.  We need the best minds in the country working at our national laboratories and sites to develop new tools that will keep the American people safe and enhance global security.

Investing in a modern, 21st century nuclear security enterprise is essential to preventing nuclear terrorism or nuclear proliferation. All of NNSA – including Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation, Defense Programs, Counterterrorism, and Emergency Response – and many other agencies outside of NNSA – rely on the skill sets, people, and facilities of this enterprise.  For example, our nonproliferation mission to protect, remove and eliminate weapon-useable material – uranium and plutonium – depends on maintaining our scientific and technical capabilities in these areas.  This includes completing the Uranium Processing Facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex and the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory.  These infrastructure investments are critical, and deserve your support.

Madame Chairwoman, these are some of the highlights of this budget request as it relates to our nuclear nonproliferation programs. Of course, we recognize that we are making this request at a time of acute financial stress for our entire nation, and that this committee has many competing interests.

As we work to invest in the future and implement the President’s nuclear security agenda, we remain committed to improving the way we do business. We fully understand that we cannot come before this Congress and expect increased investments if we are not able to demonstrate our ability to spend those resources wisely.

I am proud to say that improving how we do business is a priority for the Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Program and we are seeing results.  Last year, our Global Threat Reduction Initiative became the first federal government program to receive the Project Management Institute’s coveted Distinguished Project Award. 

Two weeks ago, our MOX program was honored with an environmental stewardship award from the State of South Carolina.

This committee had also voiced concerns in the past about the level of DNN’s uncommitted carryover funds. I can report that we have made continuous improvements in that area over the past 6 years and that through diligent management efforts, DNN has reduced the end-of-year uncommitted carryover funds from 15.5% in FY2005 to 10.1% in FY2010, while at the same time our budget authority increased by nearly 40%. This reduction puts the Nuclear Nonproliferation program well below the 13% threshold for uncommitted carryover funds established by the Department of Energy.

The vision outlined in this budget request supports the full range of NNSA missions by investing in the infrastructure, people, science, technology and engineering required to fulfill our missions. I look forward to working with the members of this Committee to help make NNSA’s vision a reality. 

I look forward to any questions you and the other members of this committee may have.