Two technical programs that are essential to maintaining U.S. technical capabilities under the CTBT are the nuclear weapons program, including both DOE/NNSA and DOD components, and the treaty monitoring and verification program. Both are coupled to an important U.S. competency to understand and assess foreign nuclear weapons programs and technical changes. The sustainability of these essential U.S. and international competencies hinges on the definition of clear expectations and the provision of sufficient resources to allow those expectations to be met. These competencies are needed whether or not the U.S. ratifies the CTBT. In this chapter the committee reviews workforce, budgetary and management issues that were identified in sustaining these programs and suggests a modified set of U.S. safeguards that should be adopted to assure their sustainability.
The 2002 Report authors were not tasked to review sustainability issues, as is the case with this report. Nonetheless, the 2002 Report did make some observations on the issue, especially regarding the workforce. The report stated that:
“It is self-evident that a highly motivated, competent workforce throughout the complex, supported by a modern infrastructure and adequate budgets, is of overarching importance.” (p. 27)
The 2002 Report also noted that:
“Attracting and retaining a high-quality workforce in the nuclear-weapons complex will require adequate budgets, other clear signals about the future program direction and scope, long-term program commitments to technically challenging assignments, and greater attention to quality-of-work-life issues…” (p. 1-2)
It further said that the three nuclear weapons laboratories and the production complex were finding it difficult to retain their top technical talent and to recruit replacements due to attractive career opportunities in the private sector, uncertainties in the future of the nuclear weapons program, and other factors. These comments reflected the findings of the Congressionally mandated report from the Commission on Maintaining United States Nuclear Weapon Expertise, which recommended actions essential to recruiting and retaining the talented workforce needed for national security (Barker et al., 1999).
The need to recruit and retain a talented and highly motivated workforce throughout the nuclear weapons complex has been recognized in many studies, both before the 2002 Report and after. Some of the key findings and recommendations of more recent studies are:1
• A new vision is required regarding the U.S. strategy for nuclear deterrence and the competencies that are required to sustain it (DSB, 2008);
• Managers should identify the skills base essential to sustain current systems and to design, develop, and operate replacement systems (DSB, 2008; Congressional Commission, 2009; Task Force, 2009);
• Gaps in the skill base for assessing foreign nuclear programs should be filled (DSB, 2008), and labs should be able to work directly with the intelligence community in assessing such programs (Congressional Commission, 2009);
• Follow-on nuclear weapons designs should be explored (DSB, 2008);
• Organizations within the complex should maintain selected nuclear skills by managing their application in related non-nuclear applications (DSB, 2008; Congressional Commission, 2009; Task Force, 2009);
• Excessive bureaucratic regulation and micromanagement of the workforce by DOE and NNSA should be eliminated (Congressional Commission, 2009; Task Force, 2009).
• The decline in DOD management attention to nuclear matters is evidenced by a dramatically reduced workforce…. The remaining workforce lacks both depth and breadth of nuclear expertise (U.S. Secretary of Defense Task Force, 2008).
The many studies that have commented on nuclear complex workforce issues over the past 10 years have also noted some bright spots associated with key scientific programs and facilities, such as the Advanced Simulation and Computing (ASC) program; the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at LLNL; the Dual-Axis Radiographic Hydrodynamic Test Facility (DARHT) at LANL; and Microsystems and Engineering Sciences Application Facility (MESA) at Sandia. These programs have provided state-of-the-art computing and experimental facilities required for scientists to advance the stewardship mission in the absence of nuclear-explosion testing. Although most recent reports judge the current workforce to be of high quality, the prevailing tone is one of concern for the future. They note that older facilities within the complex (both laboratory and production) are showing signs of neglect (Congressional Commission, 2009). In addition, morale among the laboratories’ scientists and engineers has suffered due to declines in funding and the lack of a clear, high-level U.S. government affirmation of the importance of their mission (Defense Science Board, 2008). This was also reflected in the committee’s discussions with the nuclear weapons laboratory directors.
Workforce and Budgetary Issues
Both annual funding and the number of full-time employees for NNSA’s laboratory-based programs are near their 1998 levels, after going through a buildup and decline. It is difficult to draw firm conclusions about the health of the U.S. nuclear security programs from such gross
1 Many of these reports contain material that goes beyond the scope of this committee’s responsibilities. We include reference to their conclusions to help provide context for our discussions.
data alone. For example, the quality of employees and the kinds of expertise they possess are more important than their absolute numbers, but data at this level of detail are hard to come by. Nevertheless, the committee notes that several developments since 1998 indicate cause for concern:
• The workforce is aging. The Henry L. Stimson Center report found that the fraction of the DOE laboratories’ “essential workers” who are over 50 years old had grown to 40 percent, up from 34 percent just ten years earlier (Task Force, 2009). This raises concerns that the laboratories are not attracting and retaining the young scientists and engineers that will be necessary to sustain the complex far into the future. Bringing new talent into the laboratories may be critical in the near term if there is to be any meaningful overlap between new scientists and their predecessors who have first-hand nuclear weapons design and testing experience.
• Gaps are developing in critical skills areas. Recruiting and retention of adequate numbers of trained people in critical skills areas has been a particular challenge. Significant gaps in critical skills exist due to a combination of workforce demographics and/or reduced level of stockpile work. The Defense Science Board (DSB) Report on High Performance Computing reached similar conclusions; for example, DSB found that between FY 2002 and FY 2010, the number of employees involved in integrated computing at LLNL declined by one-half and at LANL by two-thirds; the conclusion reached was that the ability to maintain independent code assessments is threatened (DSB, 2009). The recent DOE-wide, two-year salary freeze exacerbates the workforce issues in the computer skills area because of the intense commercial marketplace for individuals with those competencies.
• The stockpile is aging. The United States is entering a decade in which substantial effort must be expended in life-extension programs (LEPs—see discussion in Chapter 1). Under fixed or declining funding, the design and production support required for the LEPs directly competes with support needed for other activities (e.g., surveillance, exercising workforce skills, assessing foreign programs, etc.).
• The infrastructure is aging. The aging physical infrastructure of the nuclear weapons complex is a bottleneck limiting both progress towards sustainability and the requirement of exercising the workforce in state-of-the art competencies (also discussed in Chapter 1).
• Non-technical areas absorb an increasing fraction of the budget. There has been a substantial resource shift from technical programs to security, safety and environmental programs in the past decade. As one example, the emphasis on environmental, health, safety, and security aspects of nuclear weapons development has increased,2 with NNSA’s Defense Programs safeguards and security funding growing from about $400 million in FY 2001 to over $850 million in FY 2009 (NNSA, 2009). New management contracts at LANL and LLNL have also diverted funds from
2 A recent National Research Council study on nuclear forensics stated the problem more starkly: “Pressure for increasingly stringent interpretation of environmental, safety, and health (ES&H) goals has made it increasingly challenging to work with materials and equipment that emit radiation or are otherwise hazardous. This problem is particularly acute at DOE and NNSA facilities where concerns about health and safety can, in some cases, add a substantial time and cost burden to, or even preclude, the performance of tasks that are essential to national security” (NRC, 2010). In July 2010, the NNSA Administrator issued NNSA Policy Letters (NAP) 70.2 (Physical Protection) and 70.4 (Information Security). These documents are intended to simplify requirements. The committee applauds the intent of the action but has not reviewed the documents in detail.
technical work due to increased fees and loss of tax-exempt status.3 A major effect of those new contracts was to increase indirect costs substantially, which at LLNL resulted in substantial layoffs, including senior scientists. The layoffs resulted in a decline in morale among the retained employees and inevitably make future recruiting and retention more difficult.
Finding 3-1: A decreasing fraction of the budget for the nuclear weapons program is available for the actual technical work that must be accomplished to sustain the U.S. deterrent.
The committee is encouraged that the recent FY 2011 budget request for NNSA’s weapons activities is $7.0 billion (an increase of 9.8 percent over the FY 2010 appropriated level), reversing a five-year downward trend (U.S. DOE, 2010). In November 2010, the White House announced that the 2012 weapons budget would be further increased to $7.6 billion and that the total requested in FY 2012-2016 would be $41.6 billion (Public Law 111-84 Update, 2010). If passed by Congress and, more importantly, sustained in future years, this funding could assist in rebuilding critical technical capabilities. It will be important, however, to maintain effective control of the construction costs of major facilities to avoid the need to divert funds from stockpile stewardship.
A key step in sustaining the infrastructure is a clear policy statement of what is to be sustained. The Nuclear Posture Review (U.S. DOD, 2010a) concluded that “the following key investments are required to sustain a safe, secure, and effective nuclear arsenal:
• Strengthening the science, technology, and engineering …base…. This includes developing and sustaining high quality scientific staff and supporting computational and experimental capabilities.
• Funding the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Project at Los Alamos National Laboratory to replace the existing 50-year-old Chemistry and Metallurgy Research facility in 2021.
• Developing a new Uranium Processing Facility at the Y-12 Plant in Oak Ridge, Tennessee to come on line for production in 2021.”
More broadly, the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) called for recapitalization of the nuclear infrastructure, including some modest capacity to surge production in response to geopolitical surprise (U.S. DOD, 2010a, pp. 42-43).
The committee endorses these policy goals. However, implementation will be crucial. The NPR calls for DOE/NNSA to develop a long-term strategy for science, technology, and engineering. It will be important for both the Administration and the Congress to reach consensus on this plan and to ensure its implementation thereafter.
Finding 3-2: A strong national commitment to recruiting and sustaining a high-quality workforce; recapitalizing aging infrastructure and force structure; and strengthening the science, engineering, and technology base is essential to sustaining a safe, secure, and reliable stockpile, as well as necessary explosion-monitoring capability for the United States.
3 NNSA anticipates that the greater efficiencies brought by the industrial partners in the new contracts will eventually compensate for these costs. This increased efficiency has not yet been demonstrated.
Recommendation 3-1: The Administration, in concert with Congress, should formulate and implement a comprehensive plan that provides a clear vision and strategy for maintaining the nation’s nuclear deterrence capabilities and competencies, as recommended in the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review and related studies.
As noted in Chapter 1, to sustain a technically competent, motivated, and capable workforce, the U.S. nuclear weapons laboratories will need to employ some degree of innovation. DOE/NNSA and its contractors will need to take all of the traditional measures for recruiting and retaining high quality staff discussed above, but those are not sufficient. For example, doing a better job of involving nuclear capable personnel in related national security projects (e.g., nuclear forensics, intelligence, nonproliferation, threat reduction programs, and basic science application of stewardship facilities) can broaden the base of nuclear expertise, but such activities must be encouraged and supported by DOE/NNSA and laboratory management as well as Congress and the administration. There will always need to be a dedicated core of stewardship scientists, but the impact of the DOE national laboratories on the broader national security landscape can be enhanced while at the same time providing a larger and more diversified set of people able to contribute to nuclear enterprises. The DOE began moving in this direction with former Secretary Bodman’s 2008 statement “Transforming the Nuclear Weapons Complex into a National Security Enterprise” (Bodman, 2008). DOE /NNSA should continue to pursue this vision. The committee also notes that maintaining a program of leading-edge science in the weapons labs can attract the scientific talent that will subsequently provide an internal source of expertise for the nuclear-weapon programs.
Implementing these ideas will require the full support of DOE and NNSA, which both place requirements on the nuclear weapons facilities. Each laboratory or plant has special circumstances, and one size does not fit all. What is important is to allow different sites to use different approaches (which will likely have different levels of success) without undue interference by either DOE or NNSA. In the committee’s view, a bureaucratic structure that imposes overly prescriptive requirements does not maximize technical innovation and effectiveness.
Sustaining U.S. nuclear weapons programs requires adequate funding and a competent, motivated workforce, both discussed above. It also requires sound management of both fiscal and human resources. During this committee’s investigations, we repeatedly learned of management issues that interfere with the ability to sustain the nuclear weapons enterprise. We summarize and discuss these problems in this section. Although we focus on the weapons laboratories, where the problems appear to be the most severe, we stress that sound management throughout the entire nuclear weapons enterprise in both the Departments of Defense and Energy is a prerequisite for long-term sustainability of the nuclear weapons program.
It is useful to review the history of how and why the current structure evolved. The nuclear weapons complex is under the authority of the NNSA, which was conceived as a semi-autonomous organization located within the DOE. Congress established NNSA in 2000 in response to a series of security problems and in the hope of improving the overall management of the nuclear weapons program. In the intervening years, several outside examinations have concluded that NNSA has not improved management of the nuclear enterprise to the degree its founders hoped and the nation requires. For example, the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States (2009) concluded that:
The NNSA was formed to improve management of the weapons program and to shelter that program from what was perceived as a welter of confusing and contradictory DOE directives, policies, and procedures. Despite some success, the NNSA has failed to meet the hopes of its founders. Indeed, it may have become part of the problem, adopting the same micromanagement and unnecessary and obtrusive oversight that it was created to eliminate. 4
Similar conclusions were reached by the Defense Science Board (DSB, 2006, pp. 29-30), and a study conducted by the Henry L. Stimson Center (Task Force, 2009). Each of these reports concluded that the problem was likely to remain unless NNSA were moved from the Department of Energy but that it still should remain independent of the Department of Defense. In addition, the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States concluded that NNSA needs to change its approach to oversight and management radically. The Commission noted that although the NNSA has authority for the nuclear weapons facilities, DOE independently imposes its health, safety, and security requirements.5
Management concerns are paralleled by the disturbing trend of reducing resources needed for the technical mission of the laboratories, which is amplified by the Performance Evaluation Plans used by NNSA to manage the contracts for the sites in the nuclear weapons complex. In reality the historical model of Government-Owned, Contractor-Operated (GOCO) laboratories has become Government-Owned, “Contract”-Operated, where both the day-to-day management and the incentives are driven almost entirely by the fine print of the contract and its implications for the fees of the contractors.
4 Details of the Commission’s concerns and proposed solutions are found on pages 55-62 of the Commission’s report.
5 In addition, the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board makes its own recommendations to DOE that can have a direct impact on how time and resources are allocated.
BOX 3-1 An Example of the Current Management Approach to the U.S. Nuclear Weapons Laboratories: The FY 2009 Plan for the Los Alamos National Laboratory Contract
The contract involves a fee structure with a fixed base fee and a larger incentive fee determined by a Performance Evaluation Plan (PEP). This committee reviewed the PEP and found it unbalanced in its focus. The PEP defines 18 Performance-Based Initiatives (PBIs) with 100 pages of description, much of which includes very rigidly defined deliverables. Of these 18 PBIs, only three (Multi-site Performance, Threat Reduction, Science and Mission Excellence) actually address the technical mission of the laboratory. As a result, the technical mission of the laboratories is incentivized by less than one-third of the at-risk fee. All the remaining PBIs address operational issues and business and management procedures. The descriptions of the operational and business PBIs glaringly lack incentives designed to measure the effectiveness of their support for the technical mission. Instead, the specific metrics focus on internally referential activities such as completing paperwork correctly, holding meetings on a prescribed schedule, or providing reports by a specific date. Overall, the PEP strikingly demonstrates the antithesis of the recommendation of the recent Congressional Commission (2009) that the management of the nuclear complex should involve government definition of the goals, with contractor responsibility for determining the best methods of reaching those goals. An alternative management approach embodying this principle is described in Box 3-2.
BOX 3-2 An Alternative Management Approach
The committee’s judgment on the damaging impact of the present rigidity of the nuclear weapon laboratory governance, funding, and direction was reinforced by interviews and a presentation on the United Kingdom’s nuclear weapon program centered at Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) Aldermaston and AWE Burghfield and funded by the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD). The AWE is run as a government-owned, contractor-operated facility under the MOD. The United Kingdom experienced similar problems to those discussed above when it established a system very like the PEPs, but has been able to work toward a more effective system. The UK analog of the PEP is a System Requirements Document that describes the work MOD wants done by AWE. In 2006, the System Requirements Document had more than 650 items, with about half being related to safety and security, and less than half devoted to the technical requirements. Moreover, many of the requirements addressed “how” the technical work and safety/security tasks were to be done rather than specifying the goals. In short, there was more emphasis on the “how” than the “what” and this was clearly not optimal.
Recognizing the dysfunction of such an approach, AWE and MOD systematically worked to 1) reduce the number of requirements in the System Requirements Document; 2) improve the requirements balance by focusing 80 percent of the requirements on the technical work with 20 percent of the requirements focused on safety/security; and 3) increase the focus on specifying “what” work was required, but decrease or eliminate the focus on specifying “how” the work was to be achieved.
After two years, the number of requirements in the System Requirements Document was cut nearly in half, with the focus on goals, and an improved technical/non-technical balance. To achieve MOD support of this change, AWE agreed to work to a set of milestones (annual and 5-year) under a fully incentivized program. AWE was able to use the promise of a multi-year funding commitment to attract and build technical capability among the staff. It also placed more accountability with the staff at lower levels because they were in the best position to make the technical and safety/security advances. After a number of years of operation, it appears to the committee that this “eyes on, hands off” approach is performing well.
This revised management approach provides significant opportunities to address the endemic workforce problems described in the text. Allowing the workforce to have the technical responsibility and flexibility in defining the paths to mission goals supports both workforce development and workforce morale. The “challenge programs” run by the AWE illustrate what can be achieved in this regard. For example, in one challenge program the AWE designed a new warhead (together with the non-nuclear components), although the UK has no intention of producing any such weapon. This helped to maintain proficiency and train the next generation of warhead designers. Such flexibility for activities undertaken by AWE with MOD approval (but not MOD direction) helps to recruit and maintain a top-flight workforce and to exercise the advanced tools of the program. Programs of this nature have been tried, with positive workforce response, in the U.S. complex, but have fallen victim to budget pressures and micromanagement to short-term goals.
Finding 3-3: The current contract system for the nuclear weapons laboratories has not produced a more innovative, efficient, and cost-effective approach to carrying out the tasks of the nuclear weapons program. Rather, there is evidence that the present system acts as a significant barrier to many of the objectives delineated in this report.
Recommendation 3-2: The DOE/NNSA should re-evaluate the current contract system for carrying out the tasks of the nuclear weapons program. At a minimum, any new approach should:
• Reduce the number of requirements in directives and simultaneously transform those requirements to performance goals (prescribing what must be done, not how to do it).
• Shift the balance of incentives in contracts for the weapons laboratories to emphasize successful implementation of the technical mission.
Chapter 2 summarizes the major improvements in U.S. and international technical monitoring capabilities achieved since 2000. Though impressive, continuing improvements in monitoring technology for treaty verification and related field procedures are needed to stay ahead of possible evasion attempts by proliferators. Investments in government sponsored monitoring technology research at laboratories and universities are important for keeping pace with the evolving international environment. The need to maintain these capabilities is not dependent upon whether the United States ratifies the CTBT. Rather, these are capabilities that the United States has maintained and will need to maintain in the future for its own security. Attention to priorities and investments across the programs supporting research and development in this area would help to maintain cutting edge technical monitoring capabilities.
Specific issues needing attention are:
• Access to skilled personnel. This is also discussed in the section above on the workforce needed to sustain the nuclear weapons program. Two additional points are relevant in the context of sustaining monitoring and verification capabilities. First, assessments of potential adversary actions such as possible evasion scenarios rely on some of the same skilled nuclear weapon personnel at the national labs as the nuclear weapons program. Some of these same personnel also participate in cooperative and transparency measures through bilateral technical exchanges that complement technical monitoring. The second point is that the development of new
monitoring technology requires scientists with post-graduate training in fields such as radiochemistry, seismology, geophysics, and atmospheric and space sciences. Few university research and training programs include applications of science to treaty monitoring, making it difficult to engage students in this field early in their careers.
• Access to research facilities. National security programs, including treaty monitoring and verification, need access to the unique computational and experimental facilities at the national labs. This access must be balanced across the needs of intelligence, defense, and science, as well as the nuclear weapons program.
• Access by agencies other than DOE/NNSA. Access by other agencies to unique national lab expertise and facilities has traditionally been via the work-for-others process (basically consisting of piecemeal interagency job orders). The committee supports the findings of previous studies that access to these capabilities and expertise by other U.S. agencies should be on a more equal footing (Congressional Commission, 2009; Task Force, 2009). At the same time, other agencies should help maintain these national capabilities through infrastructure investment.
A governance charter that addresses support by the national laboratories to the national security missions of other government agencies, and the mutual responsibility for sustaining the laboratories’ capabilities, has recently been signed by the Director of National Intelligence and the Secretaries of Energy, Defense, and Homeland Security (Governance Charter, 2010). It is too early to tell whether this will make a difference.
Finding 3-4: Technical improvements needed for monitoring the CTBT (and other treaties) would benefit greatly from better access to skilled personnel and computational and experimental facilities at the national labs. This access is needed by agencies with CTBT monitoring and verification responsibilities.
Recommendation 3-3: Provisions of a recently-agreed-to governance charter should be implemented to enable better access to skilled personnel and capabilities at the national labs by agencies other than DOE/NNSA. Such access will directly benefit research and technology development aimed at improving CTBT (and other treaty) monitoring and verification. A model plan should be developed that encourages and enables investment in DOE/NNSA facilities by agencies that benefit from access to these facilities. Such a strategy would help ensure adequate and properly sized infrastructure to support SSP, international treaty monitoring and verification, and national security programs.
U.S. Government Investments
As noted above, the technologies that support treaty monitoring require continuing infusion of the latest science and technology. This is accomplished through major investments at the national laboratories and in industry, which provide the core, sustaining technology development and transfer to the operators of the monitoring systems, as well as through investments at universities to train new talent. The source of these investments is almost exclusively the U.S. government.
Department of Defense
Within the Department of Defense, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Defense Programs (ASD/NCB) plays a major role of oversight and coordination. The Nuclear Arms Control Technology (NACT) program is overseen by this office
and is carried out by the Army Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC). Since 2003, this program has been responsible for the acquisition, installation, operation, and maintenance of part of the U.S. contribution to the IMS monitoring system, including the 37 U.S. IMS stations (17 seismic, 11 radionuclide, 1 hydroacoustic, and 8 infrasound stations). The cost of the NACT program since 2003 has been approximately twenty million dollars ($20M) per year for 24/7 operation of the stations, including $3-6M annually for research, development, test, and evaluation of the supporting technology. The committee has been advised that the current level of funding will be inadequate to support operations and maintenance of the U.S. IMS monitoring stations following entry into force of the CTBT.
Specialized work in the 1970s and 1980s needed to estimate the yields of large Soviet underground nuclear explosions using teleseismic signals was supported by R&D programs typically at the level of $15M annually for projects submitted by academia and industry. Today, the work of monitoring for CTBT compliance globally is far more complicated than was the case in the era of large-yield testing at a few known nuclear-explosion test sites, because vastly greater areas now have to be monitored, and the analysis has to be done down to much smaller seismic magnitudes using far more stations, leading to the need to study numerous earthquake signals on a daily basis. But the R&D programs supporting the operational work in recent years have been much smaller than in previous decades. For example, the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Explosion Monitoring R&D Program funding history in recent years is shown in Table 3-1.
TABLE 3-1: Baseline Investments in the Research Community by the AFRL Nuclear Explosion Monitoring (NEM) Seismic Research Program, FY 2003-FY 2011.
|Fiscal Year||Appropriated ($Ms)||Baseline University Contracts||Congressional Add-Ons for University Contracts ($Ms)||Total University Contracts||Total Funding|
SOURCE: Adapted from Air Force Research Laboratory
This explosion-monitoring R&D program, managed for more than a decade at Hanscom Air Force base in Massachusetts as a small component of AFRL’s Space Technology Program has recently moved to Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico. It is the only DOD seismic-research monitoring program that supports the Air Force’s nuclear-test treaty-monitoring mission.
Finding 3-5: Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) funding for nuclear explosion-monitoring R&D is significantly lower than in past decades, whereas the monitoring task has become far more complicated.
Recommendation 3-4: For the United States to monitor effectively for the possibility of nuclear-test explosions, the U.S. Government should fund a robust R&D program to maintain ongoing operational capabilities and to support achievable improvements.
As the operator of the USAEDS, AFTAC needs continued access to highly trained and experienced technical experts in treaty monitoring and to advanced technologies and systems. Notable accomplishments and enhancements of the USAEDS were made over the past decade in all aspects of nuclear explosion monitoring. (See Chapter 2 for further information.) However, effective monitoring of the CTBT requires continued R&D investment and transfer of the resulting improved monitoring capabilities to the USAEDS. (CTBT monitoring challenges are discussed in Chapter 4.) Research at universities is vital for advancing treaty monitoring and for mentoring new generations of scientists and engineers to make careers in this field. Research at universities is vital for advancing treaty monitoring and for mentoring new generations of scientists and engineers to make careers in this field. As discussed below, investments in treaty-related research at universities have fluctuated dramatically and unpredictably, which undermines the programs and their ability to provide the research results.
Finding 3-6: Continued enhancement of the USAEDS is necessary to monitor the CTBT. Research and development of advanced monitoring capabilities are needed, including research and training at universities of the next generation of scientists and engineers.
Recommendation 3-5: A sustained, predictable program of investment in nuclear-explosion monitoring R&D should be coordinated among the responsible U.S. agencies. This program should specifically include investments in university research and training programs focused on technical disciplines critical for treaty monitoring.
Within the DOD, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) and its predecessor, the Defense Nuclear Agency (DNA), have traditionally had lead responsibility for treaty verification R&D. Attention to this responsibility has dwindled over the past decade.
Department of Energy/National Nuclear Security Administration
Through its Office of Nonproliferation & Verification Research & Development (NA-22), the DOE/NNSA has, over the past decade, continued to support treaty verification R&D at levels above $100M per year. Virtually all of this is invested at the national labs to develop and transfer technology to enhance the USAEDS. This program has had significant successes as indicated by the enhancements to USAEDS capabilities described in Chapter 2.
Investments in treaty monitoring by DOE/NNSA over the past decade are shown in Figures 3-1 and 3-2. Figure 3-1 shows investments in the DOE/NNSA Ground-based Nuclear Explosion Monitoring (GNEM) program, which consists of three elements: (1) Broad Agency Announcements (BAAs, including university contracts administered jointly with AFRL), (2) waveform (seismic, infrasound, and hydroacoustic) science and data integration, and (3) radionuclide science. Total funding for the GNEM program has fluctuated up to 30 percent year to year. Because AFTAC relies on this program as a major source of new monitoring science and technology, the lack of predictable GNEM funding has made planning for monitoring system upgrades more difficult. Over the past decade, funding for university BAAs has fluctuated from $1 million to almost $7 million annually (see Figure 3-1). Such unpredictability negatively impacts university research and training programs.
Finding 3-7: Year-to-year funding for the Ground-Based Nuclear Explosion Monitoring (GNEM) R&D program has decreased in recent years. The decline of funding for university research is jeopardizing R&D and training of the next generation of researchers.
Recommendation 3-6: The DOE/NNSA Ground-Based Nuclear Explosion Monitoring (GNEM) Program merits sustained, predictable funding, including funding for university investments through a competitive, peer-reviewed process.
FIGURE 3-1: DOE/NNSA/NA-222 Ground-based Nuclear Explosion Monitoring R&D program has declined in constant dollars and is highly variable from year to year. SOURCE: William Walter, Seismology Subcommittee member
The DOE/NNSA and the U.S. Air Force jointly carry out the satellite-based nuclear detonation detection system (USNDS). DOE/NNSA and the national labs provide the detection sensors and supporting data analysis while the Air Force provides the satellite platforms and data downlinks. Figure 3-2 shows the USNDS funding from 2000 through 2010. The DOE/NNSA NDS program consists of two components, detection systems (sensors and data analysis) and advanced technology development. In Figure 3-2, the Air Force costs to support the NDS mission are shown separately. The ability to adequately monitor the CTBT through 2020 and beyond requires that these joint investments continue, for example, to complete planned enhancements to the NDS on GPS satellites (Blocks IIF and III). (See Chapter 2 and Appendices G and H for a more complete discussion of the U.S. satellite monitoring capability.)
Finding 3-8: Planned enhancements to the U.S. satellite nuclear detonation detection capability are necessary to adequately monitor the CTBT. Even without the CTBT, these enhancements to the USNDS capability are important to maintaining and improving the USAEDS.
Recommendation 3-7: The DOE/NNSA and the U.S. Air Force joint satellite-based monitoring program (USNDS) should continue planned enhancements needed to monitor the CTBT through 2020 and beyond. Advanced technology R&D should continue to enable future enhancements and anticipate surprise.
FIGURE 3-2: Funding history (2000-2010) of the U.S. Nuclear Detection System (USNDS) (satellite monitoring) including both DOE/NNSA and Air Force components. Legend: DOE/NNSA NDS technology development (Green, bottom line); Air Force NDS support (Blue, second line); DOE/NNSA NDS sensors and systems (Purple, third line); Total USNDS (Black, top line). SOURCE: Committee
Director of National Intelligence
One funding source that stands out for its breadth and willingness to invest in both basic and applied R&D is the Intelligence-Advanced Research Projects Agency (I-ARPA). The committee applauds this new program instituted over the past decade. The committee also notes the recent memorandum of understanding signed by the DOE Secretary and the Director of National Intelligence and hopes that this portends a long-term, mutually supportive relationship between DOE/NNSA and the other U.S. national security agencies.
The United States has an interest in sustaining the CTBTO monitoring capability, especially the IMS. As noted in Chapter 2, IMS provides reliable, high-quality, authenticated data that complements data provided by NTM. If the United States were to lose access to the
data from IMS stations that are integrated into the USAEDS monitoring network, this would reduce the flow of data to the United States.
A central function of the CTBTO is to complete the monitoring network defined under the Treaty. Based on information received in late 2009 from the CTBTO, the remaining capital costs needed to complete the IMS network are estimated at $355 million to complete the 321-station network that will consist of 50 primary seismic stations, 120 auxiliary seismic stations, 11 hydroacoustic stations, 60 infrasound stations, and 80 radionuclide stations, as well as 16 radionuclide laboratories. In addition, the costs of maintaining the network, called Post Certification Activities (PCA), were approximately $16 million in 2009 and covered activities at 125 stations and 9 radionuclide laboratories. Further, an average of about $12.6 million a year is spent on end-of-life replacements of equipment, necessary and often unanticipated station improvements, long-term maintenance, and any engineering and design work needed to mitigate possible station failure. Operating costs will increase when the full monitoring system is in place.
Under the assumption of a flat budget, it is estimated that it would take three years to complete over 90 percent of the IMS network while maintaining operations at the present level.
Finding 3-9: The current budget for the IMS allows operating its stations on a 24/7 basis; however, the stations are operating on a provisional basis, without weekend and emergency support contracts. The International Data Centre (IDC), now staffed for a limited number of hours each weekday, would have to move to 24/7 operation under CTBT entry into force.
Recommendation 3-8: The United States should support the CTBTO in its annual assessed and voluntary contributions to ensure that the IMS is fully installed and, with the IDC, is ready to meet CTBT entry-into-force obligations, including support for operating costs and long-term maintenance and repair of monitoring stations.
On-Site Inspection (OSI) Readiness
The OSI capability of the CTBTO lags behind the readiness of the IMS for entry into force. Substantial additional resources will be needed to prepare the CTBTO to implement a full on-site inspection capability. Important lessons were learned from the 2008; Integrated Field Exercise (IFE) that have been documented by the CTBTO PTS (CTBTO, 2008; VERTIC, 2008). In the committee’s discussions with CTBTO staff, it was told that the IFE cost approximately $7 million but that the actual cost of a real OSI will be highly dependent on the locations of the inspection area and base of operations. CTBTO staff expects that for a real inspection, there would be higher costs for transportation of both inspectors and equipment. For the 2008 IFE, 50 tons of equipment was shipped to Kazakhstan, but the exercise was not designed to include all inspection technologies available to inspectors under an actual OSI. Under real circumstances, the timeframe for organizing an inspection will be much tighter than was the case for the IFE, which also may drive up costs.
Finding 3-10: The OSI capability of the CTBTO lags behind the readiness of the IMS; however, steps have been taken, such as the 2008 Integrated Field Exercise, which have improved OSI capabilities significantly.
Recommendation 3-9: The United States should support the CTBTO OSI work by participating fully in all of its aspects, including training and field exercises.
The provision of safeguards is common in arms control treaties as a device to mitigate any perceived risks of ratifying the specific treaty and thereby constraining future U.S. options. Safeguards are typically proposed by the administration and adopted by the Senate, often after considerable negotiation, both internally and with the White House. By including appropriate safeguards in the resolution giving advice and consent to ratification, the Senate makes its approval contingent on the expectation of sustained implementation of specific actions over the life of the treaty.
Proposed Clinton Administration Safeguards
When President Clinton announced U.S. support for a “zero yield” CTBT on August 11, 1995, he established six specific safeguards (listed in Box 3-3) that were included in his formal transmittal of the Treaty on September 22, 1997, to the Senate for its advice and consent to ratification.
Presumably, these safeguards will serve as the basis for the safeguards that the current Administration will propose, and the committee would support this action. Because the Administration is now considering how to revise the 1997 safeguards, the committee has not sought to provide specific text. Instead, it has considered the technical adequacy of the 1997 safeguards in light of developments over the past decade. It has also examined the question of whether whatever safeguards are ultimately adopted can be sustained over time.6
BOX 3-3 Safeguards Proposed in 1995
A) The conduct of a Science-Based Stockpile Stewardship program to ensure a high level of confidence in the safety and reliability of nuclear weapons in the active stockpile, including the conduct of a broad range of effective and continuing experimental programs.
B) The maintenance of modern nuclear laboratory facilities and programs in theoretical and exploratory nuclear technology that will attract, retain, and ensure the continued application of our human scientific resources to those programs on which continued progress in nuclear technology depends.
C) The maintenance of the basic capability to resume nuclear test activities prohibited by the CTBT should the United States cease to be bound to adhere to this Treaty.
D) The continuation of a comprehensive research and development program to improve our Treaty monitoring capabilities and operations.
E) The continuing development of a broad range of intelligence gathering and analytical capabilities and operations to ensure accurate and comprehensive information on worldwide nuclear arsenals, nuclear weapons development programs, and related nuclear programs.
F) The understanding that if the President of the United States is informed by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Energy (DOE)—advised by the Nuclear Weapons Council, the
6 By mutual consent of Congresses and Administrations, Safeguard C (test readiness) has not been fully implemented.
Directors of DOE’s nuclear weapons laboratories, and the Commander of U.S. Strategic Command—that a high level of confidence in the safety or reliability of a nuclear weapon type that the two Secretaries consider to be critical to our nuclear deterrent could no longer be certified, the President, in consultation with the Congress, would be prepared to withdraw from the CTBT under the standard “supreme national interests” clause in order to conduct whatever testing might be required.7
New or Modified Safeguards
The safeguards listed in Box 3-3 make no mention of nuclear weapon production capabilities, but maintaining agile production8 capabilities as a complement to the SSP is essential to the long-term health of the nuclear stockpile. This leads to the following finding and recommendation.
Finding 3-11: Without agile production capabilities, it is not possible to promptly correct deficiencies revealed by surveillance or to remanufacture components or weapons when required.
Recommendation 3-10: The U.S. CTBT safeguards should include the maintenance of adequate production and non-nuclear-explosion testing facilities.
Of concern also is the question of whether the safeguards will achieve their purpose of ensuring appropriate future action. There are at least three problems in relying on safeguards. First, most require sustained funding and thus require support by the House of Representatives, which is not directly involved in the ratification process. Second, safeguards are typically very general, allowing differing interpretations of whether a future administration is complying with them. Finally, there is no legal enforcement mechanism should a future administration elect not to adhere to safeguards in detail because of competing budgetary priorities or changing policy preferences.
Uncertainty over the future implementation of safeguards is inherent in the U.S. political process. Given this fact, the committee judges that it is both appropriate and necessary for the United States to periodically conduct a formal review of whether safeguards remain effective. The committee is impressed with the utility of the annual stockpile assessment letters prepared by the three weapons laboratory directors and the Commander of U.S. Strategic Command and provided to both the President and the Congress. It seems reasonable that a similar approach could be defined regarding safeguards.
7 CTBT Article IX (in paragraphs 2 and 3) states “Each State Party shall, in exercising its national sovereignty, have the right to withdraw from this Treaty if it decides that extraordinary events related to the subject matter of this Treaty have jeopardized its supreme interests. Withdrawal shall be effected by giving notice six months in advance…Notice of withdrawal shall include a statement of the extraordinary event or events which a State Party regards as jeopardizing its supreme interests.” Provisions allowing withdrawal under a supreme interests provision (also commonly referred to as supreme national interests) are common in arms control agreements, e.g., the Chemical Weapons Convention [Article XVI], the INF Treaty [Article XV], START [Article XVII (3)], the Non-Proliferation Treaty [Article X], and the ABM Treaty [Article XV]. The United States used the provisions of Article XV in withdrawing from the ABM Treaty in 2002. The ability to withdraw from a treaty is the ultimate safeguard and could be exercised if the United States ever concluded that its national security required it to resume nuclear testing.
8 By agile production we mean the ability to produce any components of any of the stockpiled designs in quantities and on timescales needed to respond to stockpile problems.
Finding 3-12: There is currently no mechanism that would enable Congress to assess whether the U.S. CTBT safeguards were being fulfilled after entry into force.
Recommendation 3-11: Under the CTBT, the Administration should prepare an annual evaluation of the ongoing effectiveness of safeguards and formally transmit it to Congress.
This annual report by the President of the United States should be comparable in detail to the annual stockpile assessment letters and should be informed by the Secretary of Defense, Secretary of Energy, and the Director of National Intelligence and should be advised by the Nuclear Weapons Council, the directors of the appropriate national laboratories, the Committee of Principals established under National Security Presidential Directive-28 (NSPD-28)9 and the Commander of U.S. Strategic Command. This would both ensure a routine internal review of the status of safeguards and provide a mechanism for Congressional oversight. The provision of such a detailed report would help compensate for the general nature of the safeguards. Some observers advocate devising specific metrics for safeguards to provide a degree of objectivity to these annual assessments.10 The committee concludes that, although specification of metrics is a level of detail inappropriate for the formal safeguards themselves, such metrics might provide a valuable tool for those charged with preparing annual assessments. Great caution would be required to devise metrics detailed enough to provide an objective standard without degenerating either into a welter of data of limited value to senior leaders or replacing real technical assessment with paperwork micromanagement as discussed above in the management context.
9 NSPD-28, U.S. Nuclear Weapons Command and Control, Safety and Security, establishes a Committee of Principals to coordinate issues associated with nuclear command and control, safety, and security. The broad participation of relevant agencies in the Committee of Principals makes it appropriate to seek their advice on the ongoing efficacy of the CTBT safeguards.
10 For additional details on metrics, as well as a discussion of the history of safeguards, see Medalia (2009).
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