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Press Release

NNSA Partners with DTRA on Key Nuclear Security Challenges
Dec 17, 2008

WASHINGTON, DC – The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) signed an agreement to conduct research and development on a range of shared nuclear security challenges, such as the effects of a potential detonation of a terrorist crude nuclear device, according to a senior official at NNSA.

"NNSA and DTRA have a history of working together to solve nuclear security challenges of a post-Cold War and post-9/11 world," said NNSA Administrator Thomas D'Agostino.  "This agreement formalizes and strengthens this relationship.  As we move forward on this and other similar agreements, I look forward to using NNSA's science, technology and engineering enterprise to solve the urgent nuclear security challenges of today and tomorrow."

Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman approved a new direction for NNSA's national security laboratories and its test site in June of 2008.  Under this vision, NNSA's science, technology and engineering capabilities will serve a broader security mission in the future, according to D'Agostino.  This change recognizes that NNSA's roles in nuclear nonproliferation and nuclear counterterrorism are growing and, through agreements like this with other federal agencies, the laboratories can and do contribute to national security more broadly than in the past.

This agreement with DTRA is the first one resulting from this new vision and will support the missions of both agencies.  The unique expertise at NNSA's laboratories along with DTRA's capability to assess weapons effects will be brought to bear in developing methods and strategies to manage a potential terrorist nuclear attack.

"Both organizations have significant roles in a shared national mission space," said DTRA Director Dr. James A. Tegnelia. "This agreement allows us to pool resources and strengthen support for the key national laboratories that are critical to these efforts."

NNSA scientists and engineers work to maintain the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without conducting an underground nuclear test.  The agency instead uses science-based research and development to extend the lifetime of the current weapons in the stockpile.  This expertise, developed at NNSA's laboratories and the test site through years of nuclear weapons work, are also applied to other security challenges like sensor and detection technology, high-performance computing, microsystems, chemical and biological technology, and explosives science.

"These types of partnerships will help with national and homeland security missions that an agency working alone might not otherwise be able to accomplish," said D'Agostino.

Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science in the nation's national security enterprise. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; reduces the global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad.

The Defense Threat Reduction Agency safeguards the United States and its allies from weapons of mass destruction (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high explosives) by providing capabilities to reduce, eliminate and counter the threat and mitigate its effects. This combat support agency serves as the intellectual, technical, and operational leader for the Department of Defense in the national effort to combat weapons of mass destruction.

Media contact(s):
NNSA Public Affairs (202) 586-7371