I am pleased to have the opportunity to represent the National Nuclear Security Administration as we join you in dedicating the Capability Replacement Laboratory. This facility will be an important part of the Department of Energy’s and NNSA’s efforts to implement President Obama’s ambitious nuclear security agenda.
Of course, meeting challenges is nothing new for Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. This laboratory has a long tradition of performing cutting edge work that is critical to enhancing our nation’s security and promoting global peace and security.
Two years ago this month, President Obama used his first foreign policy speech, during his first international trip to outline his vision for confronting nuclear dangers. As he said on that April day in Prague, the threat of a terrorist acquiring and using a nuclear weapon is the most immediate and extreme threat we face.
On any given day, we have people working worldwide -- in more than 100 countries -- to reduce the global nuclear threat. Many of them come from right here in Richland.
From securing vulnerable nuclear material around the world; to working to end the use of highly enriched uranium; to preventing terrorists from stealing and smuggling nuclear and radiological material; to strengthening the nuclear nonproliferation regime; to strengthening export controls: NNSA plays a critical role in implement that agenda. And we couldn’t do it without you.
Working together with our partners at PNNL, at other DOE labs, and our international partners, we have made incredible progress in the two years since the President outlined his vision. Together, we have:
- Completed an unprecedented campaign to secure enough special nuclear material to make 775 nuclear weapons, material that had been left behind in Kazakhstan following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
- Removed or disposed of 890 kilograms of nuclear weapons-usable highly enriched uranium fuel and plutonium (enough for over 35 nuclear weapons) from 17 countries – including cleaning out the last weapons-usable HEU from 6 countries.
- Completed construction of the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility, the world’s most secure HEU storage facility.
- In order to prevent terrorists from acquiring materials that could be used in a so-called “dirty bomb,” NNSA recovered approximately 4,000 radiological sources containing more than 50,000 decayed curies.
- Helped crack down on nuclear smuggling by upgrading physical security at more than 185 vulnerable buildings around the world that contained high-priority nuclear and radioactive material and provided radiation monitoring equipment at 13 major container seaports and approximately 140 international border crossings, airports and small seaports.
- Partnered with South Africa to produce the first delivery of the critical medical isotope Molybdenum-99 that was produced without the use of highly enriched uranium.
The President recognizes the vital role we play in implementing that agenda, which is why his last two budget request have including significant investments in our future. Even during challenging economic times, we have a broad, bipartisan consensus in Washington, DC on the need to make these investments and implement this agenda.
That includes investing in 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 is key. Investing in 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, and that is why this Capability Replacement Laboratory is so important.
This laboratory, especially the Physical Sciences Facility, provides an important platform for collaboration between PNNL, NNSA, and our interagency partners.
The Physical Sciences Facility supports PNNL’s national, homeland security, and energy research missions. PNNL scientists will develop and apply radiation detection methods needed for identifying weapons of mass destruction and terrorist activities and to support international treaties and agreements.
But, just as important, the Physical Sciences Facility will provide training grounds for the next generation of nuclear scientists and challenging work for the nuclear scientists of today.
So, I thank you for the opportunity to join you today, and for the work you do.