1997 Congressional Hearings
Special Weapons
Nuclear, Chemical, Biological and Missile

Statement of

C. Paul Robinson,
Sandia National Laboratories


Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify today. I am Paul Robinson, director of Sandia National Laboratories. Sandia is managed and operated for the United States Department of Energy (DOE) by Sandia Corporation, a subsidiary of the Lockheed Martin Corporation.

Laboratory Missions

Sandia is the DOE laboratory responsible for the ordnance engineering for all U.S. nuclear weapons. Our responsibilities comprise the design, certification, and assessment of the non-nuclear subsystems of nuclear weapons, including arming, fuzing, and firing; safety, security, reliability, and use-control; issues associated with the production and dismantlement of nuclear weapons; and surveillance and support of weapons in stockpile. We also perform substantial work in programs that are closely associated with nuclear weapon research and development, including nuclear intelligence, nonproliferation, and treaty verification technologies.

We are, however, a multi-mission laboratory. Ten percent of our work supports DOE's responsibilities for environmental remediation and waste management, and another ten percent supports Department missions in energy science, research, and development. When appropriate, we also perform work for other government agencies, particularly the Department of Defense, in programs where our unique capabilities, built to support DOE's Defense Programs responsibilities, can be of value. Increasingly, we are being called on to support other federal agencies, such as the FBI and the National Institutes of Justice, in developing advanced technology for combating terrorism and criminal activity and to enhance the effectiveness of law enforcement. An example of our ability to support key national concerns is a walk-through explosives detection portal for airport screening, developed for the Federal Aviation Administration. It has achieved 1,000 times better sensitivity at lower cost and reduced size, and could dramatically reduce the threat to civil aviation when transferred to operational use.

Major Topics Addressed in This Statement

My testimony today will largely be devoted to the stewardship of the nuclear weapons stockpile. The challenges of stockpile stewardship are formidable, particularly now that there are no new weapon designs in the offing and we are constrained from nuclear testing by treaty. In addition, there seems to be widespread indifference or opposition toward nuclear issues in policy circles today. But the nuclear weapons stockpile remains extremely important, and we take our responsibilities in this arena very seriously. We believe that the presence of nuclear weapons has changed the history of the world for the better. The awesome destructive power of nuclear weapons and the extreme difficulties in countering or protecting against their force has rendered the possibility of war between major nations extremely remote. The deterrence which nuclear weapons have provided for more than fifty years was the dominant factor preventing the Cold War from becoming "hot" and allowed the world to enjoy the most peaceful period of the century. The United States must depend on its stockpile of nuclear weapons to prevent major wars for the foreseeable future.

We in the nuclear weapon laboratories serve as the Nation's conscience for the technical integrity of that stockpile. It is our responsibility to maintain a safe and reliable stockpile over the long term and to bring difficult issues associated with that mission to your attention. The stockpile stewardship program faces several major challenges-some of which are urgent-which I will describe later in this statement. But first, I would like to report how the Department of Energy has assessed Sandia's performance over the past year, as well as discuss some of the contributions we and our parent company make to the community. Then I will describe some very significant achievements by Sandia in the area of stockpile stewardship and national security during the last year. I will also discuss some highlights of our current stockpile support work and report on our activities with the former Soviet Union (FSU).

Laboratory Performance

I am pleased to be able to report that, under Lockheed Martin's management, Sandia's overall performance rating by DOE for fiscal year 1996 resulted in the highest rating, "outstanding." This appraisal was based on a new performance-based approach, with objectives and measures in four areas: laboratory management, programmatic science and technology, operational support, and management and administration. As stated by DOE:

Sandia is to be commended for the increase over FY 1995 in the number of areas that received the highest rating of Outstanding. Specifically, in the programmatic performance area, which under the new process received a greater emphasis, representing 50% of the total appraisal, Sandia was rated Outstanding based on inputs from DOE AL and DOE Headquarters.

We are pleased but not satisfied with our score, and we will work even harder in the current year to sustain this high rating and realize improvements in the few areas where performance can be enhanced.

We have also improved our relationships with industry and the community-a cultural change that I attribute to the emphasis Lockheed Martin places on being good corporate citizens through community involvement and partnering. We recently celebrated our one-thousandth technology assistance project under DOE's Small-Business Initiative, in which the Laboratories helped solve specific, short-term technical problems with small or medium-sized businesses. Lockheed Martin established a small not-for-profit corporation, independent of Sandia, called the Technology Ventures Corporation, to facilitate technology transfer from the Laboratories to industry. In the last four years, it has helped create 18 new businesses-almost all of them start-ups based on technology licensed from our laboratory-and nearly 600 new jobs.

In addition, Lockheed Martin has teamed up with Sandia on a number of initiatives to aid the local community and has encouraged greater involvement and support of charitable endeavors. From its own resources, it has generously supported quality-of-life projects in the community, such as the biological park and aquarium in Albuquerque, a mathematics and science academy, several scholarship programs, and a recent donation to the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. In California, where Sandia also operates a major a laboratory facility, it has helped support the local women's shelter, a children's theater workshop, and science and math educational programs. In aggregate, Lockheed Martin's contributions to the community are on the order of several million dollars a year and represent a sizable portion of their operating fee.


B61 Bomb Modification 11

For twenty years we have known that there was a need to replace the B53 thermonuclear bomb with a system equipped with modern surety features. Yet, replacement was repeatedly postponed. Today, I am very pleased to report that we have begun the replacement of the B53 without designing a new weapon and are bringing the replacement on-line in record time with only a very modest budget.

On November 20, 1996, Modification 11 of the B61 bomb passed its certification flight tests. All electrical and mechanical interfaces performed as expected. In December, four complete retrofit kits were delivered to the Air Force, two weeks ahead of schedule. This delivery met the milestone to support Mod. 11 conversions in the field by a joint DOE/DoD team in January. The B61 Mod. 11 has been accepted as a "limited stockpile item" pending additional tests during 1997.

Work on the B61-11 had been authorized in August 1995, with a requested delivery date of December 31, 1996. This schedule required one of the most efficient development efforts in our laboratory's history. The retrofit involved repackaging the B61-7 into a new, one-piece, earth-penetrating steel case designed by Sandia.

The Mod. 11 will now permit us to retire the B53, which is a 35-year-old weapon, and provide the operational military with a safer, more secure, and flexible system. This program establishes one route to keeping the stockpile modern.

World Record in Pulsed Power

We have a responsibility, in accordance with DoD requirements, to certify the survivability of weapon systems in radiation environments. In the absence of nuclear testing, we must rely on aboveground experimental facilities which we are developing, along with more sophisticated computational models and techniques, for predicting the effects of radiation on electronics and materials.

We are making good progress toward a driver for a high-yield laboratory microfusion capability that can support both the weapon effects and weapons physics concerns associated with stockpile stewardship at relatively low cost. Sandia's Saturn and PBFA-Z accelerators, using Z-pinch technology, are producing record x-ray outputs. Last fall, PBFA-Z achieved an x-ray power output level of 160 trillion watts, releasing 1.8 million joules of x-ray energy. This output doubled the previous record for x-ray power and quadrupled the record x-ray energy level which had been achieved on Saturn just last spring.

For many years, our long-range plans have proposed the construction of a larger accelerator called Jupiter to further reduce our dependency on underground testing. Based on the extraordinary results of our recent experiments on PBFA-Z and our calculations, we now believe that a machine the size of Jupiter will probably not be necessary to achieve the experimental conditions required for stockpile stewardship. A smaller, less expensive accelerator called X-1 can do the job by creating a high-temperature, long-duration x-ray environment in a large-volume hohlraum. Presently, such a combination of characteristics is achievable only with a nuclear explosion. X-1 provides an extremely adaptable platform for weapon physics and weapon effects experiments.

While the site selection process for X-1 has not been initiated, the Nevada Test Site (NTS) is a primary candidate for locating X-1 for a number of reasons. As you know, NTS is required to maintain the capability to resume underground nuclear testing if international conditions should make that step necessary. However, as Edward Gibbon observed in his History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, "All that is human must retrograde if it does not advance." Our experimentalists, including those in Nevada who used to prepare the diagnostic instrumentation for tests, must be challenged with real work, or we cannot expect them to preserve their skills.

Fortunately, the instrumentation expertise required for measuring the outputs of underground nuclear tests is compatible with the diagnostic skills that will be required for operation of X-1. X-1 supports the readiness program for nuclear testing by exercising the skills of our experimentalists with real work. In addition, NTS is a convenient central location for a National facility that can be accessed by all three Defense Programs laboratories, and it has a well-developed infrastructure to support large-scale experimental facilities. It also has an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in place that permits experimentation with the radioactive products which will be generated by microfusion outputs.

World Record in Computing

In December, Sandia and the Intel Corporation shattered the world computational speed record by sustaining over one trillion floating-point operations per second (one teraflop). This accomplishment was recently characterized by Defense Programs' Deputy Assistant Secretary for Strategic Computing and Simulation as "the single biggest computer science achievement in two decades." The event brought the speed record home to the United States again, following operation of a Japanese computer which had bested the previous U.S. performance.

This work was performed under DOE's Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative (ASCI) sponsored by the Assistant Secretary for Defense Programs. ASCI seeks to hasten the development of computers capable of 10's to 100's of teraflops. Machines of this size will be required for stockpile stewardship in the absence of nuclear testing and with reduced reliance on expensive physical testing. ASCI will also develop a new generation of full-physics, three-dimensional computer simulation tools to support simulation-based life-cycle engineering. These tools will be developed in collaboration with U.S. research universities and computing firms.

The new record was set on the ASCI Option Red supercomputer, designed by Intel and Sandia. When optimized, this machine will have ten times the memory (nearly 600 billion bytes) and ten times the speed (over 1.8 trillion operations per second) of the largest computers in use today. Now being installed at Sandia, it will immediately be used in safety, aging, and nuclear performance studies for real stockpile problems that we are dealing with. For example, we recently performed a series of calculations on Option Red to help us redesign neutron generators, which are critical components in nuclear weapons. Comparable calculations would be infeasible on the best commercial supercomputers, and the required experimental facilities to explore these regimes and to validate design performance are simply unavailable or unaffordable. The Option Red computer will be used by all three Defense Programs laboratories to develop and test the software models needed for science-based stockpile stewardship.

Synthetic Aperture Radar

Sandia has refined synthetic aperture radar (SAR) technology for a wide variety of treaty verification and nonproliferation applications. Synthetic aperture radar is a technique for integrating radar pulses to synthesize a high-resolution image. Although modern electronic navigational technology is good at determining aircraft position, small random movements of the aircraft can cause blurring and limit the practical resolution of SAR images, especially during bad weather.

One of the spectacular results of Sandia's SAR research is that we have developed a robust solution to this image-resolution problem. Our techniques now make it possible for aircraft-based SAR to create images of ground terrain with fidelity to one square foot-in any kind of weather! Our researchers have also developed a technique to use SAR data to produce very accurate topographical maps, either from aircraft or satellites. This work has profound implications for treaty verification and nonproliferation activities, as well as military operations.

These results are truly a remarkable feat of engineering. I am very pleased that DOE has recognized Sandia electrical engineer Charles "Jack" Jakowatz with the 1996 Ernest O. Lawrence Award, one of DOE's most distinguished prizes, for his achievements in advancing the technology of synthetic aperture radar. Jack's work and his personal success remind us of a central strength of DOE and its national security laboratories: They have the ability to anticipate and develop future technology needs and options which often prove, over time, to be critical to our national defense capabilities.

Warhead Dismantlement

Several retired warhead systems have been successfully dismantled at the DOE Pantex Plant with support from Sandia and the other Defense Programs laboratories. The process of dismantling retired warheads is a complex and challenging undertaking. Substantial engineering support is required by the laboratories to design safe and environmentally sound procedures and special equipment for the work of the Pantex Plant. Research and development in support of dismantlement operations has involved materials scientists, experts in robotics and intelligent systems, design engineers, chemical engineers, production engineers, explosives experts, and many other specialists. It has been a teamwork effort for the Defense Programs laboratories and production agencies.

Nuclear Material Safeguards and Security

Sandia has made significant contributions to nuclear material safeguards and security. We recently completed a personnel and material tracking system called PAMTRAK to protect sensitive material. It integrates proximity badges, weight and motion sensors, and video cameras with a computer that reports attempts to steal or divert material. It can also communicate with a site's other security systems. The system can reduce radiation exposure to workers and save money by reducing the frequency at which materials must be inventoried.

Sandia also completed-on time and within budget-a prototype Safeguards Transporter (SGT). The SGT is the next-generation vehicle to carry high-value materials, not limited to nuclear weapons, with enhanced safety and security within the continental United States. The SGT may also find use in transporting chemical and biological toxins from DoD depots to final disposition. A successful nuclear explosive safety study was conducted in June 1996; final design review was completed in July 1996; and production has been authorized, with the first production unit (FPU) scheduled for December 1997.

To facilitate inspections, Sandia developed special nuclear material containers that can be periodically opened and resealed with induction brazing without excessive embrittlement or erosion of the container alloy. The initial terms of the U.S./Russian Agreement on Safe and Secure Transportation and Storage of Nuclear Weapon Materials through the Provision of Fissile Material Containers of June, 1992, were satisfied with the shipment of 10,000 AT-400R containers to Russia. Sandia supplied the technical interface, design, development, and testing on this product on behalf of the Defense Special Weapons Agency (DSWA), which produces the containers and ships them to Russia. Approximately 14,000 containers are planned for shipment next year.

Neutron Generator Production and Support

Sandia completed construction of its neutron generator manufacturing facility early in 1996, ahead of schedule and within budget. All shipments of recertified W76 neutron generators for the Navy have been completed as scheduled. Also, processing began for neutron generators returned from the field for re-acceptance and reuse.

Sandia's neutron generator production responsibility is supported by the laboratory's research and development capabilities. We recently completed three-dimensional simulations and experimental correlation of the neutron generator standoff phenomenon for the Warhead Protection Program Pit Reuse Warhead. Simulations were completed using Sandia's PCTH hydrodynamic code on our Intel Paragon supercomputer. Experimental data were acquired from two primary hydrodynamic implosion tests conducted with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Shock histories were acquired by special instrumentation located in critical positions throughout the warhead electrical system and the neutron generators, providing data for code validation. Through the use of advanced visualization capabilities, Sandia's system designers, analysts, and shock physicists developed an in-depth understanding of the complex 3-D explosion through which the neutron generators must survive.


Bomb Impact Optimization System (BIOS) Exploratory Program

Sandia is largely responsible to the Department of Energy for all non-nuclear aspects of nuclear bomb design. Building on the success of the B61-11, we are examining changes to other B61 designs to add additional value to these systems for our military customers.

One such effort is the Bomb Impact Optimization System (BIOS) program, in which Sandia is investigating the feasibility of modifying a B61 payload for use in a guided glide bomb for aircraft delivery against defended target complexes. This effort includes analysis, design, model fabrication and testing, and ground and flight testing of a functional prototype.

This year, the BIOS program proved the effectiveness of concurrent engineering approaches when, for the first time at Sandia, the nose tip for the BIOS prototype was taken from concept to inspected, accepted flight component by means of a completely paperless process. The polycarbonate nose tip for the BIOS flight test program is a very complex shape requiring five-axis machining capability; yet, drawings were neither created nor needed. Solid models of the part were developed as computer files which were directly compatible with software for finite element analysis, numerically controlled machining, and even inspection. The process is proving to be so flexible and efficient that refinements to the part will be possible even as it is being machined, with no significant downtime.

Quality Improvement Program for the B83 Bomb

We are nearing completion on a quality improvement program for the B83 strategic bomb, which will extend the service life of this weapon. The third major milestone of the B83 Quality Improvement Program (QIP) was achieved when a B83-1 equipped with Alteration 750 was produced at Pantex and accepted by DOE in March 1996. Alt. 750 incorporates a dual-channel common radar into the B83-1 bomb. This unit was the first B83 bomb produced to include all the component improvements from the quality improvement program. Sandia engineers worked closely with production engineers at Pantex and Allied-Signal/Federal Manufacturing and Technology to ensure the successful transition of Alt. 750 from development to production.

Enhanced Nuclear Detonation Safety

Significant advances in enhanced nuclear detonation safety (ENDS) are being realized with the design and development of miniature firing set and stronglink subsystems. Prototype devices, ranging from complete firing systems to application-specific detonator safing devices, are being modeled and evaluated. Miniature machining, photolithographic (LIGA) semiconductor processes, and silicon micromachining are employed to fabricate these devices. These subsystems offer many opportunities to systems designers for miniaturization and for enhancing the safety, security, and reliability of retrofitted weapons.

Life-Extension Work

Much of our current stockpile activity can be characterized as life extension work. With no new weapon developments planned for the foreseeable future, we are required to support the weapons currently in stockpile well beyond their designed service lives.

A major undertaking in stockpile life extension work is the Dual Revalidation Program we are conducting with our sister Defense Programs laboratories, Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore, under the joint sponsorship of the DOE Assistant Secretary for Defense Programs and the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Atomic Energy. This program examines and updates the design information for every weapon type in the stockpile, including its interface with the delivery system. Since we no longer have available the use of underground testing to validate design performance, the responsible laboratory team for each weapon will comprehensively examine the extant design data using the best design definition tools and methods available to us today. Any missing or incomplete elements in the documented design will be investigated and completed. The revised design data package of drawings, specifications, computer codes, and other documentation will then be given to a design team from a different laboratory for their critical review. In this way, two independent design teams will evaluate the design data package for each weapon in the enduring stockpile and ensure that it is complete and current with modern engineering standards, including the new computational engineering methods.

The ongoing stockpile activities I have described here are part of our enduring responsibilities in stockpile stewardship and management. As you can see, Sandia's tasks require constant engineering support using exceptional and unique personnel and equipment.


Since the early 1970's, Sandia has been the principal DOE laboratory responsible for developing technology, systems, and standards to protect nuclear weapons and materials at DOE facilities and during transportation. In particular, work at 72 facilities in the United States involved the actual implementation of protection systems. In addition to this DOE mission, Sandia has worked on protection of nuclear material and weapons at numerous facilities in 37 other countries.

Since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, the United States government-in particular, the Department of Energy national laboratories such as Sandia-have been working cooperatively with scientists and engineers in various institutes, laboratories, and other organizations within the countries of the former Soviet Union (FSU) to accelerate progress toward a common goal: to reduce the risk of nuclear weapon proliferation, including such threats as theft, diversion, and unauthorized possession of nuclear materials.

Our International Security Program has worked toward this goal by supporting numerous projects in the FSU that help achieve the protection and security of nuclear material and facilities. Additionally, the cooperative interactions help to encourage the dismantlement of all types of weapons of mass destruction, to advance nonproliferation activities, to assist the FSU states in converting their defense-oriented capabilities to civilian, market-driven enterprises, and finally, to improve Western access to the world-class science and technology that exists within the FSU.

A major goal of the International Security Program at Sandia is to achieve worldwide protection and control of nuclear materials and weapons. One major step toward realizing this goal is our work with the former Soviet Union on Material Protection, Control, and Accounting (MPC&A), discussed in detail below. In addition, other projects are underway, which contribute to this goal: Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention Program (IPP); Lab-to-Lab; Safe and Secure Dismantlement (SSD); and Safety and Security Technology.

Material Protection, Control, and Accounting (MPC&A)

The MPC&A program for the former Soviet Union has two primary objectives.

1. Reduce the threat of nuclear proliferation by cooperating with Russia, the newly independent states (NIS), and the Baltic States to improve MPC&A for all weapon-usable nuclear material in forms other than nuclear weapons.

2. Encourage the development of a technology-based nuclear safeguards culture and the infrastructure to sustain such a culture in Russia, the NIS, and the Baltic States.

We have focused heavily on the first objective in the early phases of the program. We have had success at many FSU sites in jointly developing MPC&A plans, coordinating training workshops, improving existing MPC&A systems, and designing and installing several new MPC&A systems. We now have work underway at approximately 44 sites in the FSU. In Russia, we are engaged with sites ranging from the MINATOM Civilian Complex to the Naval Nuclear Fuel Sector and the MINATOM Defense Complex.

We also have work underway to address the second program objective, to make an impact on the attitudes toward safeguards practices and to foster the development of a sustainable, technology-based, nuclear safeguards culture.

Last year, Sandia had a lead role in completing physical protection upgrades and demonstrations of major technical importance in eight of the 44 selected facilities in the FSU. For example, work was completed on physical protection upgrades to a facility at Elektrostal and at the Kurchatov central storage facility, both in Russia.

This year, upgrades have been completed in the five republics of Belarus, Georgia, Uzbekistan, Latvia, and Lithuania. All these states (except Lithuania) have nuclear research facilities that possess proliferation-sensitive nuclear material. Upgrade activities at these nuclear research facilities have included installation of intrusion detection sensors, video assessment cameras, central alarm stations, and hardening of nuclear material storage areas.

Lithuania is the site of the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant, which has two 1,500-megawatt power reactors similar to those at Chernobyl. Work at Ignalina has included improvements to a central alarm station and vehicle access portal. Personnel have received training on physical protection concepts, system operation, and maintenance. The MPC&A work there has included collaboration with other national laboratories and with experts from other nations, although Sandia performs the lead role in physical protection.

Dedication ceremonies to commemorate completion of the physical protection upgrades at these facilities have been held and were well attended by local government officials and the appropriate U.S. ambassadors. Minor follow-on activities for this fiscal year are expected to include supplemental training and assistance in developing operational procedures and evaluations.

Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention (IPP)

The Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention program (formerly the Industrial Partnership Program) provides a mechanism for scientists and engineers who have been supporting research and development on weapons of mass destruction in the newly independent states of the former Soviet Union to build careers in the burgeoning Russian civilian workplace. The program makes use of the capabilities resident in DOE's national laboratories and makes new technologies available for commercialization by U.S. and Russian industry. Sandia has 70 projects totaling $5.5 million with over 40 participating institutions in the former Soviet Union. Forty-four have been completed, 26 are still active, and proposals for an additional 20 are awaiting approval. In addition, eight cooperative R&D agreements (CRADAs) with $4 million of DOE funds have been approved.

Lab-to-Lab Programs

Lab-to-lab projects are science-driven, small R&D collaborations that are closely coupled to Sandia projects. A broad range of science and technology is involved, including nuclear power safety, environmental technologies, safety and risk assessment, innovative materials development, lasers, pulsed power, medical technologies, nonproliferation research, manufacturing technologies, energy, computation, and basic science topics.

This effort is less formal than many other programs between the United States and former Soviet states. Since there are no bilateral agreements, implementation and progress can be achieved rapidly. In fact, it is this relatively quick return on our investment that is one of the most important positive features of the Lab-to-Lab program. Begun in 1992, it has served as a model for many other efforts, including the IPP projects and the MPC&A program mentioned above. Although less bureaucratically constrained than many other programs, all Lab-to-Lab projects are conducted with DOE approval and full coordination with the Department of State. They also comply with all export control regulations and other relevant restrictions.

The individual projects included under this program emphasize science and technology and are usually of relatively small monetary value. The majority of these projects are conducted with Arzamas-16, Chelyabinsk-70, Kurchatov Institute, and Eleron, and involve such topics as pulsed power, computation, innovative materials development, and various medical technologies. They tend to have a strong linkage to existing Sandia projects and thus promote individual contacts and collaboration with a minimum of attendant bureaucracy. This encourages long-term association with our peers in the FSU institutes and expanded scientific and technological exchange, and furthers our efforts in nonproliferation.

Safe and Secure Dismantlement (SSD)

Sandia receives funding and authority for specific SSD projects from the Department of Defense through the Department of Energy. Under this arrangement, we have provided various types of hardware and technical expertise related to: modifications to Russian nuclear-weapons-transporting railcars to enhance their safety and security; fissile material storage containers and storage facilities; flexible armor blankets to protect warheads from small-arms impacts; and different types of accident response equipment, such as the Portable Integrated Video System (PIVS). These projects will assist the Russian Federation by providing improved safety and security for their nuclear weapons and components.

Safety and Security Technology

Another important element of our efforts in the FSU relates to research projects in the broad area of safety and security technology. A significant number of the lab-to-lab contracts signed with the Russian nuclear weapon institutes [Arzamas-16 (VNIIEF), Chelyabinsk-70 (VNIITF), and the Institute of Automatics (VNIIA)] are safety and security projects.

It is in the mutual interest of the United States and Russia to share safety and security information that could reduce the risks and consequences of unintended actions with nuclear warheads and fissile material. Therefore, a government-to-government agreement that allows the controlled exchange of unclassified information in the field of nuclear warhead and fissile material safety and security between authorized representatives of the United States and the Russian Federation was signed by Secretary O'Leary and Minister Mikhailov. This program complements Department of Defense Nunn-Lugar work. The overall objective of the program is to increase the safety and security of nuclear warheads and fissile materials both in Russia and the United States through the coordinated exchange of technical information.

Current safety and security projects relate mostly to safety, with some efforts relating to human factors engineering and transportation security systems. They all involve research that affects design, analysis, testing, and experimentation relevant to safety and security issues associated with events that can cause major consequences to the public (e.g., nuclear contamination or loss of life), but with low assessed probability of occurrence. Examples of specific projects include research on:

· the dispersal effects of surrogate radioactive materials,

· crash and fire effects to aircraft transporting hazardous materials,

· bullet and projectile penetrations through shipping containers,

· rail car crashes and fires as well as other accident data for rail and air transportation,

· risk criteria for operations associated with hazardous materials,

· probabilistic risk assessment methodology for high-consequence but low-probability events,

· analysis and tests of lightning hazard effects, and the design of containers that withstand explosive detonations,

· security systems for transportation tracking and monitoring, and

· human factors engineering for hazardous systems.


Maintaining Confidence in an Aging Stockpile

One of the major long-term challenges we face is how to ensure the reliability of an aging stockpile. We oversee the stockpile to ensure that weapons continue to be reliable, that they are safe, and that they are upgraded as necessary to maintain their capabilities until they are retired. Unfortunately, we do not possess sufficient data on how reliability declines as systems get older than about twenty years. However, it is now our daunting task to ensure that systems remain reliable and safe for decades beyond their planned service lives.

To do this job, we must scientifically understand the parameters of aging in electronics, materials, and structures in order to both anticipate failure paths and to provide for timely upgrades, replacements, and rebuilds. We are vigorously exploring ways of leveraging science to help meet our stockpile obligations in this regard.

The age, size, and structure of the stockpile have undergone significant changes over the past few years, with important implications for maintaining the deterrent. With no new production planned, the average age of deployed stockpile weapons will inexorably increase. In addition, the stockpile will be much smaller at START II levels, making each of the remaining weapons more important to deterrence.

In the past, the stockpile consisted of many weapons of many different weapon types. The size of the stockpile provided a substantial base from which to gather surveillance data. And the diversity of the stockpile provided an array of alternatives in the event of a problem with a particular weapon type. Less diversity in the stockpile raises the risk that a single repeated flaw, a "common-mode failure," could compromise a significant portion of the deterrent. Moreover, today's weapon production complex has less capacity to rapidly correct a common-mode failure that might occur. The production complex also urgently needs modernization. These factors narrow the margin of error that can be tolerated in the remaining weapons and drive the need for much tighter stockpile surveillance.

Sandia is addressing these concerns through several initiatives, including an Enhanced Surveillance Program (ESP), a program of fundamental research in materials aging, the study of the effects of aging in components and subsystems, and our augmentation of the computational resources needed to model and predict the effects of aging without resorting to destructive testing from the increasingly limited stockpile base.

The Enhanced Surveillance Program is proceeding along three paths. First, by accumulating data from both accelerated aging experiments and dismantled weapons, Sandia is improving the capability to detect, measure, and predict the time-dependent phenomena of aging in materials and components. Certain phenomena serve as signatures that reveal degradation in materials and components. Thus, we are advancing our ability to use these "signatures" in assessing and even predicting aging degradation.

Along a second path, we are integrating our empirical and theoretical work in materials science as a means of further accelerating the development of computational models of the actual behavior of aging components and subsystems. With our proposed Model Validation and System Certification Test Center (MVSCTC), we are pursuing a facilities and infrastructure modernization effort specifically designed to support the integration of empirical testing and theoretical understanding through computation.

Finally, we are exploring sensors that can be built into weapons to constantly and automatically monitor the presence of the aforementioned "signatures" of aging and degradation. With the goal of supporting a full system demonstration, we are developing communications techniques that will allow us to contact and monitor such sensors without dismantling or otherwise disrupting the weapon.

Stockpile Confidence Under the Test Ban

Two years ago, the White House consulted with the directors of the Nation's three nuclear weapons laboratories (Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore, and Sandia) as the President considered whether to pursue a comprehensive test ban treaty. We told the President that we felt we could meet the challenge of maintaining the Nation's nuclear deterrent under a comprehensive test ban if we pursued a long-range program of science-based stockpile stewardship. We said that we could not guarantee that this challenge would be met, but we pledged our very best efforts to this end. We emphasized that a continuing strong commitment to a science-based stockpile stewardship program would be essential if we were to have a chance to succeed. This commitment requires sufficient funds to support the core program for maintaining the stockpile as well as an investment in special facilities required to perform our work in the absence of underground nuclear tests.

There are those who regard the nearly $4 billion budget for nuclear weapons as excessive and unwarranted. However, the costs of stockpile stewardship are not a linear function of stockpile size. A threshold capability will be needed to support the stockpile as long as it numbers in thousands, especially with the sophistication and demand for reliability that is associated with the systems upon which deterrence rests today. I believe we are near that threshold now, especially in light of the many closures and changes that have occurred in recent years. It is true that the stockpile is substantially smaller than it was ten years ago; but critics fail to calculate the avoided cost that would have been required to support the larger and more diverse stockpile of the past. A conservative analysis puts that cost at 50 percent or more larger than today, for a budget of at least $6 billion, even without considering the additional costs of science-based stockpile stewardship arising from the test ban.

We are often asked about the "core" activities within the weapons program. Indeed, some try to portray the core as a "sandbox" for laboratory scientists and engineers to play in-a characterization that is both incorrect and unfortunate. Rather, the core is the at the heart of the historical bond between the laboratories and the government in carrying out nuclear weapons research and development efforts. Through the core, our laboratories are accountable to the government to anticipate what the technical needs of the weapons program will be years in advance. The concept of core funding is what has enabled us to readjust priorities to meet urgent needs that may arise, such as was done for the B61-11, without coming back to the government for every extra dollar that is needed. The core is at the heart of a system that makes everyone at Sandia feel a personal responsibility and obligation for the performance of the stockpile, now and in the future, while never marginalizing the needs of our military customers. The core has also provided the support in which the remarkable synthetic aperture radar work, discussed earlier, could be conceived and realized. The core enabled past investments which have made it possible today for ASCI, enhanced surveillance, DAHRT, NIF, X-1, AHF, and other initiatives, to be realized in this unprecedented period where underground testing is no longer available.

Today, I believe we face a near crisis in the core weapons program. Last year, our laboratory experienced a significant loss in funding for our core nuclear-weapon efforts, even after the plus-up in funding provided by Congress. A number of factors contributed to the reduction, and over the past two years we have had to eliminate 1,100 jobs across the laboratory. This year, we may again face the likelihood of more cuts, as a result of the laboratory allocations, particularly through continued erosion of the core program budgets as moneys are increasingly directed toward initiatives intended to address the absence of nuclear testing.

At Sandia this year we have the fewest number of scientists and engineers in the weapons program than at any time since 1952. Yet, even with our greater understanding of the physics and technology of nuclear weapons, the current generation of weapons within the stockpile is extraordinarily more complex as compared with those of 1952. The deep cuts we have experienced over the past six years have resulted in the retirement of our most experienced experts. These reductions have also driven off some of those early in their careers, and they have limited our ability to hire new talent. We are not at all well-positioned to take further cuts at this time without losing essential "muscle" to carry out our important obligations in R&D and stockpile support. Our complex work is unique-there is no other quarter where we can obtain the experience base to carry out these weapon responsibilities.

Several special facilities needed for the Defense Programs laboratories are also requested, including DHART (Dual-Axis Radiographic Hydrotest facility), NIF (National Ignition Facility), X-1 Advanced Radiation Source, AHF (Advanced Hydrotest Facility), and ASCI (Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative). These represent the first stage in a process of addressing to what extent we can replace the role of underground nuclear testing with laboratory experiments. I expect that as the process of science-based stockpile stewardship evolves, other facilities and upgrades will be conceived in the decades ahead to better simulate the environment and processes that occur during a nuclear explosion and do a better job of maintaining the science and technology of stockpile stewardship without testing.

The essential question for managing the total program under the constraints of a substantially reduced budget (the program was cut in half over the previous six years) will be how to best balance the needs to support and maintain the stockpile itself-to maintain the essential skills needed to address the problems that can arise-while also creating new facilities to partially substitute for the loss of nuclear testing. I believe the present course we are pursuing-a continual reduction of an already depleted core weapons program-will be particularly destructive to the ability of Sandia to meet the challenge we promised the White House that we would undertake. Having served for much of my early career in leading the nuclear weapons efforts at one of the nuclear physics design laboratories, I can also express my doubt that the present funding can sustain their necessary core weapons capabilities while also financing their needed efforts in new facility initiatives. If no additional funds become available, I believe that it will be necessary to readdress the funding allocation to achieve a better balance between core and initiatives.

In the view of our laboratory, the initiative to enhance supercomputing capabilities (ASCI, as described above) is not truly a "new initiative." Computational simulation has always been fundamental to carrying out our work effectively and economically, and we have consistently pursued advances in this field from our core program. Indeed, during the 1970's and early 80's, computer acquisition costs represented nearly the same share of our budget as they do today. The recent success we achieved in creating the first teraflop computer is the fruit that our core program funded over many years. It is vital that we continue to be able to model and simulate computationally the performance of all our systems and subsystems, and that we advance this capability to the point where their performance and aging can be predicted on a scientific basis.

Non-nuclear Stockpile Assurance Testing

Stockpile evaluation activities involve both laboratory and flight tests of stockpiled weapons, as well as designing test equipment and monitoring test performances. Test results that identify deviations from weapon performance standards are thoroughly investigated and may result in repairs, retrofits, or recommendations for stockpile improvement programs.

Joint tests of weapons in their delivery modes are performed in cooperation with the Department of Defense. We continue to be concerned about budgetary constraints and other complications that affect the ability of the laboratories and the military services to support the joint DOE/DoD Stockpile Surveillance program. An example of our concerns is the possible Air Force ICBM strategic missile testing shortfalls that could impact the reliability and credibility of W62, W78, and W87 warheads. Developments that hamper the ICBM nuclear warhead surveillance program include: moving from multiple to single reentry vehicle configurations while constrained by the same number of missile flights, thus reducing reentry vehicle flight opportunities; possibly eliminating Peacekeeper flight tests; and a reluctance to combine reentry vehicle and warhead telemetry tests.

While this critical budget issue was solved last year (in great measure by the work of this committee) and flight support was reinstated for tactical nuclear bombs, a similar problem may be developing for all nuclear bombs, motivated by pressures to reduce national test range costs within a shrinking defense budget with many unmet needs. This is a long-term issue that must be continuously monitored.

My concern over these issues is based on Sandia's half century of test experience with nuclear bombs and warheads. We have sized our stockpile surveillance program to yield results within significant parameters. This requires us to test eleven warheads per year of each of the nine types currently included in the surveillance program. Generally, two to four flight tests of each type are conducted jointly with the military, and eight laboratory tests (for a total of eleven) are conducted by Sandia at the Pantex plant. From a study of historical bomb and warhead data, we find that approximately 22 percent of the defects discovered in all tests are flight-unique; that is, if we don't flight test we will likely not see that portion of defects within the weapon system. Given the stringent reliability requirements that nuclear weapons must meet, we have determined that the minimum requirement for flight tests is in the range of two to four per year per weapon type.

We believe that a nuclear warhead assurance program that does not perform flight tests, or performs fewer flight tests than the minimum required, would lack a credible basis for evaluating system reliability. The credibility of reliability testing diminishes as the number of flight tests decreases. Erosion of credibility in our reliability test program is serious, and would directly undercut the maintenance of confidence in the stockpile as well as the reliability prediction that STRATCOM uses to develop our deterrent plans. I urge you to assure that funding to support the joint flight test capabilities is maintained at an adequate level.

Maintaining Design and Production Capabilities

All weapons now in stockpile will reach the end of their design lifetimes over the next two decades. With the passage of time, many materials and methods that were used in the original production runs are no longer available. In some cases, original materials and technologies have become commercially obsolete. We cannot simply reproduce replica components of outdated technologies and designs. Maintaining the ability to design, develop, certify, and either produce or procure updated materials and components is vital to ensuring the long-term reliability of the stockpile.

Most components of nuclear weapons are subject to normal aging and must eventually be replaced. The requirement to replace these weapons or their components will create a backlog of work that will need to be addressed early in the next century.

Sandia has used a systematic replacement planning tool known as the Stockpile Block Upgrade Plan. While primarily driven by the need to replace limited-life components, the Stockpile Block Upgrade approach also upgraded the technological currency of components and helped maintain a consistent production workload free from peaks and valleys. The original Stockpile Block Upgrade Plan has evolved into the broader Stockpile Life Extension Program (SLEP) which DOE is now using for limited-life component exchanges and systematic upgrades in blocks of related subsystems.

It should be emphasized that the nuclear weapons program requires an intimate relationship between the laboratories, where the technology is developed, and the production plants that manufacture nuclear weapons. Sandia works closely with DOE's production agencies. We design or specify nearly all of the non-nuclear components of nuclear warheads. We support the production engineers at Allied Signal, Kansas City Division, who are responsible for manufacturing many of our components, and the engineers at the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, where warheads and bombs are assembled or disassembled. We also produce a limited number of two kinds of components in-house, as a result of plant closures in the DOE complex. We have the additional assignment for manufacturing development engineering of twelve other weapon component technologies, for which we are DOE's production agent. We are working closely with commercial industry to develop new suppliers for these components.

For a variety of security, business, or technical reasons, it is impractical to rely on industry for all the components required for nuclear weapons. This is particularly true for components that are produced in low quantities and are unique to nuclear weapons. Consequently, DOE must retain an in-house manufacturing capability for some components. To most effectively use these capabilities, new or improved processes and materials are being developed to enhance efficiency and minimize wastes, environmental impacts, and cost, and provide greater worker safety.

In my view, we will someday have to supplant our old weapons with replacement systems; we cannot extend their service lives indefinitely. But replacing systems with exact replicas would not be technologically feasible, cost-effective, or sensible. New designs for components and subsystems will continue to be needed, and that requirement will demand that we maintain all the original competencies necessary for component designs, as well as contemporary capabilities in advancing technology. This can be easily understood by the fact that electronic components that are available today bear little resemblance to those used in weapons that are even a few years old. For example, a substantial portion of the components within the Trident II warhead, our most modern system, have already become "sunset" technologies (i.e., they are no longer available from suppliers).

Similarly, scientists and engineers must advance their thinking as the state-of-the-art in technology advances. Those who suggest that we can simply remanufacture warheads without any changes have little understanding of the impossibility of such a quest. While the portions which contain special nuclear materials are unlikely to be changed from designs previously tested and proven, the balance of the weapons (which is predominately Sandia's responsibility) can and should be modernized to achieve even higher levels of performance in safety, security, use control, and overall system reliability.

The engineers and scientists who must perform the design and production engineering for nuclear weapons in the next century will not have had the benefit of experience on full-scale weapon development programs. We must find ways to qualify these people in the future. They need to work on real systems. We cannot expect our engineers to acquire critical design skills merely by performing piecemeal component replacement work and development simulations. They have to design whole systems with real deliverables to fully develop their capabilities. Ideally, we would like to train our junior weapon design engineers alongside experienced engineers, but this will not be possible during a decades-long hiatus of no weapon developments.

In the past, Congress has noted its concern whether the key skills and essential knowledge for continuing a strong nuclear weapons program are being maintained. I want you to know that Sandia has assigned this area a very high priority. More than three years ago, Sandia began a program in knowledge preservation as one element of that stewardship. We have now recorded a few thousand hours of experience from weapons experts, individually and in teams, who have retired within the past few years or who are planning to retire soon. These records are maintained in a classified information network formatted to provide instant query and retrieval. We have also developed an extensive set of course offerings unique to nuclear weapons science and engineering, and we are developing a formal process this year for training and certifying tomorrow's experts. When you consider that forty years is the extent of an average career, our people and their expertise are the most limited-life components of the stockpile stewardship effort.

Supply of Radiation-Hardened Microelectronics

This committee should be aware of a serious problem we are facing with respect to assuring the supply of radiation-hardened microelectronic components in the long term. This is a critically important issue in stockpile stewardship.

Microelectronic circuits can be damaged or destroyed by radiation. It is for this reason that electronic components in satellites, for example, are specially designed to withstand the effects of cosmic radiation. Circuits in nuclear weapons must be hardened against the much more intense radiation fluxes that would be encountered in proximity to nuclear blasts of a nuclear exchange. This design criterion has not gone away with the end of the Cold War. STRATCOM has revalidated its hardening requirements for strategic systems. As you know, Russia recently abandoned its previously declared no-first-use policy for its nuclear weapons.

Similarly, radiation-hardened microelectronic components are important for many tactical, non-nuclear weapon systems that could encounter radiation under battle conditions. Consequently, the capability to design and produce "rad-hard" integrated circuits is of great importance to our Nation's defense.

Unfortunately, commercial, off-the-shelf microelectronic technologies are not designed to withstand radiation, and in most cases they cannot be shielded effectively to protect them from damage. In fact, as commercial integrated circuits (ICs) evolve toward ever-smaller feature sizes, they will become even less suitable for defense or space applications that may be susceptible to radiation.

The problem is economic: The market for radiation-hardened integrated circuits has become so small relative to the burgeoning market for commercial ICs that it holds little interest for industry. Less than one tenth of one percent of integrated-circuit production is rad-hard. The requirement for radiation-resistant integrated circuits is expected to remain fairly constant at roughly $100 million to $150 million per year for the next decade. This is a drop in the bucket in contrast to the market for commercial integrated circuits, which is forecast by the Semiconductor Industry Association to exceed $300 billion by 2000!

Production of radiation-hardened integrated circuits requires special designs and strictly controlled, nonstandard manufacturing. Most integrated-circuit manufacturers are simply not interested in diverting highly profitable resources to nonstandard and limited-volume design and production of radiation-hardened microelectronics.

This reluctance is reflected in the declining number of vendors responding to Sandia's requests for quotation (RFQs) over the past eight years. Motorola, LSI Logic, United Technologies, RCA, GE, AT&T, and Texas Instruments have quit the rad-hard digital IC business. Only Honeywell and Lockheed Martin Federal Systems (formerly Loral) remain. Only one vendor of rad-hard non-volatile memories remains: Grumman-Northrop. No vendors exist for new designs for rad-hard analog circuits needed to interface sensors and actuators to digital controllers.

The government's fallback position for production of critical radiation-hardened integrated circuits for nuclear weapons is DOE's Microelectronics Development Laboratory at Sandia National Laboratories. For more than two decades, Sandia has conducted research to advance rad-hard IC technology. As a general rule, the results of this research have been made available to the private sector to support industrial production of government IC requirements. In addition, Sandia has produced rad-hard microelectronics parts in-house for special government applications where production lots were too small to be economic for industry.

DOE and Sandia have proposed a National Defense Electronics Partnership with DoD for the purpose of preserving the R&D base and industrial production capability for radiation-hardened integrated circuits. It is too early to tell whether this proposal will come to fruition. In any case, it is important to adequately maintain the rad-hard capability at Sandia. Bear in mind that radiation-hardened microelectronics must also constantly play catch-up with the rapid pace of development in commercial microelectronic components (see the discussion in the previous section about the necessity to modernize components). This task requires a robust R&D capability and a modest production capability in the national laboratory system, and Sandia is the only place where such capability exists. We continue to work with DOE and DoD to ensure that a minimum level of funding is provided to maintain this capability.


I have described some very significant achievements that Sandia has realized during the last year, particularly our world records in pulsed power and computing. However, our overarching mission is to support the Nation's nuclear weapons stockpile, both in its current requirements and for the long term. Our scientific achievements are always performed with that mission in mind, and not for their own sake.

I have also described some of the highlights of our ongoing stockpile stewardship work and our interactions with the former Soviet Union. This work stems from the engineering technology base that maintains and ensures the safety, security, and long-term reliability of the enduring stockpile. As we augment the Stockpile Stewardship program with new capabilities and facilities for science-based stewardship, it will be important not to diminish the engineering technology base that supports component design and production now and for the future.

I discussed a number of the major issues that we face as significant challenges. Sandia's cradle-to-grave responsibilities require stable funding for a robust engineering technology base, a modern and efficient laboratory infrastructure, and the essential human talent that can maintain competency in both established and emerging weapon technologies.

While I support the approach and structure of the Science-Based Stockpile Stewardship Plan, the currently proposed budget presents significant challenges for our laboratory. I believe that with proper funding, the Science-Based Stockpile Stewardship Plan is the route to success in maintaining a stockpile whose quality is second to none. However, without proper funding, we will ultimately face a tough choice: Shall we adequately support the people and skills that are essential to sustained stewardship, or those that are required for developing and operating the new initiatives in science-based stockpile stewardship?

It would be regrettable to have to once again rebalance the objectives in the overall program between the core weapons activities and the new initiatives to find substitutes for testing; but a tradeoff between preserving irreplaceable expertise or "bricks and mortar" for the future would indeed be a Hobson's choice. The Stockpile Stewardship Program must be prudently managed to provide for our technology base needs; and we must also find a way to fund the strategic investments required for science-based stockpile stewardship at a pace that will bring them into useful service to support the program before we face a crisis within a critical weapon system in the existing stockpile. I fear that time is not on our side.


Witness name: C. Paul Robinson

Capacity in which appearing: Representative

Name of entity being represented: Sandia National Laboratories

Curriculum vitae:

C. Paul Robinson serves as President of Sandia Corporation and Laboratory Director of Sandia National Laboratories. Sandia Corporation, a Lockheed Martin company, operates Sandia National Laboratories for the U. S. Department of Energy.

Dr. Robinson served as Vice President for Laboratory Development at Sandia from August 1991 through August 1995, having previously served as Director for Systems Analysis. During this period, he was responsible for strategic and operational planning, systems studies and analysis, information architectures, and new program initiatives.

From February 1988 to October 1990, Ambassador Robinson served as the Chief Negotiator and Head of the U.S. delegation to the nuclear testing talks between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. in Geneva, Switzerland. He was appointed by President Ronald Reagan, confirmed by the U.S. Senate, and subsequently reappointed by President George Bush. Those negotiations produced two major agreements: protocols to the Threshold Test Ban Treaty and the Peaceful Nuclear Explosions Treaty.

From December 1985 to February 1988, Dr. Robinson served as Senior Vice President and Principal Scientist of Ebasco Services, Inc., a major engineering and construction firm headquartered in New York. He was responsible for the advanced technology sector of the company, with major contracts in nuclear power, advanced power systems for defense and commercial energy needs, and support activities for major U.S. and international research projects.

Dr. Robinson spent most of his early career (1967-1985) at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, operated by the University of California for the U.S. Department of Energy. Initially he served as a physicist in the Nuclear Test Division, then became a member of the advanced concepts group. He started the laboratory's efforts in laser spectroscopy, explosives-driven lasers, laser-induced chemistry and isotope separation. Dr. Robinson led the laboratory's defense programs, with responsibility for nuclear weapons research, development, testing and stockpile maintenance, strategic defense initiatives, inertial fusion, nuclear materials and safeguards, advanced conventional weapons, as well as arms control and verification activities.

Dr. Robinson earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from Christian Brothers College in 1963 and a Ph.D. in Physics from Florida State University in 1967. He also was awarded an honorary doctorate from Christian Brothers University in 1989.

He is presently a member of the Strategic Advisory Group for the Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Strategic Command, where he also serves as the Chairman of the Policy Group, which is helping to develop new nuclear weapons policy for the post-Cold War period. In 1991, he served as chairman for the Presidential Technical Advisory Group on Verification of Warhead Dismantlement and Special Nuclear Materials Controls. He previously served on the Scientific Advisory Group on Effects for the Defense Nuclear Agency, as well as an advisor for other government agencies.