Nov 19 2009
Washington , D.C.—Today, Strategic Forces Subcommittee Chairman James R. Langevin (D-R.I.) and Ranking Member Michael R. Turner (R-Ohio) released the joint statement below in response to the release of a report on Life Extension Options for the U.S. Nuclear Weapons Stockpile by the JASON scientific advisory panel.
The report was requested by the Subcommittee in January, 2008, to obtain a fuller understanding of the risks, uncertainties, and challenges associated with nuclear warhead Life Extension Programs (LEP).
“We welcome the release of the JASON scientific advisory panel’s review of warhead Life Extension Programs. We believe their recommendations provide a sound technical basis to inform subsequent U.S. nuclear weapons policy and program decisions.
“The report complements our subcommittee’s efforts to sustain and strengthen the Stockpile Stewardship Program. In particular, the JASON panel highlights the success of stockpile stewardship, but the report also notes a concern about sustainment of the stewardship program that this subcommittee has raised, and which the Strategic Posture Commission also noted.
“We concur with the JASON panel conclusion that ‘all options for extending the life of the nuclear weapons stockpile rely on the continuing maintenance and renewal of the expertise and capabilities in science, technology, engineering and production unique to the nuclear weapons program.’ Unfortunately, we share the concern voiced by the panel that ‘this expertise is threatened by lack of program stability, perceived lack of mission importance, and degradation of the work environment.’
“This concern led us in the Fiscal Year 2010 National Defense Authorization Act to amend the statutory basis for the Stockpile Stewardship Program, clarifying that preservation of U.S. core intellectual and technical competencies in nuclear weapons requires support for the full use of the experimental facilities of the nuclear weapons complex. It also led us to establish the Stockpile Management Program, which codifies basic guidance for execution of warhead Life Extension Programs.
“We hope the JASON report, like the Strategic Posture Commission before it, will strengthen the emerging consensus for a robust Stockpile Stewardship Program.”