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USIS Washington 
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07 October 1999

 
  

Text: Richardson Testimony on Stockpile Stewardship Program

(Says science-based computer modeling can replace nuclear tests)
(1700)

Energy Secretary Bill Richardson told the Senate Armed Services
Committee October 7 that the Department of Energy's Stockpile
Stewardship Program is working. "It is maintaining our nuclear
deterrent without underground testing. We can enter into the
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) armed with the knowledge that our
nuclear arsenal is reliable."

The treaty will help halt the spread of nuclear weapons, he said,
adding, "The scientific achievements of our national laboratories in
Stockpile Stewardship, built on more than 50 years of experience, has
given us the confidence to forego nuclear tests." The treaty would
also help halt emerging nuclear programs in rogue states and
proliferating countries as well as terrorist organizations, he said.

To reject the treaty, Richardson said, would deprive Americans of
their best means to stop nuclear testing and monitor for violations.
"It would signal the world's would-be nuclear powers that it is open
season for atomic development and testing," he said.

The Stewardship program uses supercomputers, high-powered lasers and
other scientific advances to gauge the safety and reliability of U.S.
nuclear weapons without exploding them underground or elsewhere,
Richardson said.

He was accompanied to the hearing by the directors of Department of
Energy's three nuclear weapons laboratories, who also testified, and
his deputy, DOE Under Secretary Ernest Moniz.

Following is the text of Richardson's remarks as prepared for
delivery:

(begin text)

TESTIMONY FOR U.S. ENERGY SECRETARY BILL RICHARDSON
SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE
COMPREHENSIVE NUCLEAR TEST BAN TREATY
WASHINGTON, DC
OCTOBER 7, 1999

Good morning Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. Next week the
United States Senate has an historic opportunity to make our nation
more secure and to make the world a safer place. I am here to ask the
Senate to approve the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. And I am here to
tell you that the Department of Energy's Stockpile Stewardship program
is working, right now, for our nation's nuclear deterrent.

As Secretary of Energy, I have no responsibility more serious, no duty
more grave, than to ensure this country's nuclear stockpile is safe,
secure and reliable. Our security, the security of future generations,
our very lives may depend on it. In the past year, I have visited each
of the Department's three weapons laboratories and the production
plants. I have met with other experts both inside and outside of
government. On this they agree -- the Stockpile Stewardship program is
working. It is maintaining our nuclear deterrent without underground
testing. We can enter into the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty armed
with the knowledge that our nuclear arsenal is reliable.

And it will continue to be so, thanks to the hard work and dedication
of thousands of people at the national labs, at the plants and in
government who do this work for love of country.

This treaty is the sum of years of effort on the part of government
agencies, the National Laboratories, and the Congress. There has been,
and there continues to be, overwhelming public support for such a
treaty.

The public knows this treaty improves our national security and their
security. They know it will help halt the spread of nuclear weapons.
They know it will contribute to the drawing down of nuclear arsenals.
And they know it will make them more safe in an uncertain world.

The end of the Cold War affords the opportunity to ratify this treaty.
The threat of nuclear weapons proliferation makes it imperative that
we do so. The scientific achievements of our national laboratories in
Stockpile Stewardship, built on more than 50 years of experience, has
given us the confidence to forego nuclear tests. To prevent other
countries from testing and deploying nuclear weapons is clearly in our
interests.

To reject the treaty is to deprive us of our best means to stop
nuclear testing and monitor for violations. It would signal the
world's would-be nuclear powers that it is open season for atomic
development and testing. It would announce that the United States
refuses to lead on this issue. And it would be an abdication of our
responsibility to help create a more secure world.

The treaty helps us put the brakes on emerging nuclear programs in
rogue states and proliferating countries and yes, terrorist
organizations, as well as a new arms race involving unpredictable
actors -- Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Libya, and others that may today be
unforeseen. It can be crucial to curbing the dangerous, helter-skelter
expansion of the nuclear club.

And if, as we suspect, China may have used stolen American secrets in
developing prototype nuclear devices, the treaty can limit any further
damage by making it difficult for China to resume weapons testing and
push the boundaries of its nuclear capability.

Seven years after our last underground test our stockpile of nuclear
weapons is safe and reliable. Three times since 1996 the Secretary of
Energy and the Secretary of Defense have certified this to the
President. And I have in recent days received letters from the three
weapons lab directors that our stockpile is sound. Our nuclear
deterrent will continue to be safe and reliable under the
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

The Stewardship program is working on today's stockpile. We have
successfully placed in our nuclear arsenal the B-61 Mod 11
earth-penetrating bomb -- certified and without nuclear testing. We
are updating the Peacekeeper warhead to be reliable well into the next
century. And this is now in production.

Our Stockpile Stewardship program uses supercomputers, high-powered
lasers and other scientific advances to gauge the safety and
reliability of our nuclear weapons without exploding them underground
or elsewhere. And the program is advancing along with our technology.
For instance, our Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative is on
track. The supercomputer we use today is thousands of times faster
than those of only a decade ago and provides the leading-edge
simulation capabilities needed to assist certification requirements
without nuclear testing. The national laboratories are providing the
scientific know-how to address weapon safety, reliability, and
performance, and are developing new tools and methods to analyze and
put to use the mountains of information they are receiving.

Our subcritical experiments at the Nevada Test Site are providing
invaluable data -- we performed one just last week, and it was a
success. Several other advanced experimental facilities are coming on
line over the next few years. For instance, the first arm of the Dual
Axis Radiographic Hydro Test facility -- known as DARHT -- is now
running. This facility will analyze the effects of implosions during
mock nuclear blasts. We will keep developing superior technology such
as this to ensure we have the tools we need to meet future challenges.

It is not just supercomputers or other high-tech equipment that is
making Stockpile Stewardship a success.

At our National Laboratories, some of the world's sharpest scientific
minds are focused on its challenges. And they, in turn, are training
the next generation of scientists and engineers to maintain the safety
and reliability of our nuclear deterrent into the next century. The
same sort of hard work and training is under way at our production
plants.

Critics claim we can't verify whether other countries are adhering to
the treaty. That isn't the case. The treaty gives us the right to
request challenge inspections, and provides for international
monitoring. Under the treaty, we will deploy a network of more than
300 sensors, blanketing the globe, that can detect a nuclear explosion
and can help us identify nations that have acquired nuclear
capabilities.

During my discussions with Minister Adamov in Russia last Saturday, he
agreed to resume talks on transparency measures related to the Treaty.

Even in advance of its entry into force, such cooperative measures can
build our mutual understanding of how the Treaty monitoring regime
will operate, and build mutual confidence in the verification measures
that will be involved in its implementation. I've opened a window to
work on this with the Russians, and we should take advantage of it.

And finally, let me stress that the President, in consultation with
Congress, can withdraw from the treaty if a high level of confidence
in the safety and reliability of a nuclear weapon critical to our
nuclear deterrent cannot be certified. As Secretary of Energy, I will
not hesitate to so advise the President in the event it becomes
necessary for our country to conduct tests. The test site is up and
running and ready -- while we are capable of fielding a well
instrumented test in 18 to 24 months, my scientists tell me we, if
pressed, could conduct a simple test in less than one year.

The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty is one of the President's top
national security priorities, and the Stockpile Stewardship program is
essential to the treaty's success. Let me assure you again that the
program is working. Our nuclear arsenal will continue to deter
aggression, to help us fulfill our security commitment to our allies,
and to discourage those who would develop or steal nuclear weapons of
their own.

We have to lead on this issue, for the sake of our own security and
for the security of an uncertain world. The United States conducted
the first nuclear test. Through this treaty, we can help ensure we
will see the last. Scientists at our weapons labs gave birth to the
atom bomb more than 50 years ago, and helped put an end to the
bloodiest war in history. They now work to ensure the success of the
Stockpile Stewardship program and the Test Ban Treaty and perhaps the
peace of the world.

Through those decades, through this mission, those scientists, our
plant workers and this Department, demonstrate their commitment to
national security.

The Test Ban Treaty is fundamental to the national security interest
of the United States. It will rein in nuclear weapons development by
states that want the bomb, and dampen the development of more advanced
weapons by current members of the nuclear club. The American people
want peace of mind. This treaty can help give it to them. Thank you.

(end text)