Jun 16, 2007

D’Agostino Aims To Shift U.S. Lawmakers’ View in Favor of RRW

DefenseNews.com 06/15/07 15:23

So far this year, three of the four U.S. congressional committees that oversee nuclear weapons have voted to cut or eliminate funding for the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW).

The fourth one hasn’t acted yet, but there’s a palpable lack of enthusiasm for building a new nuclear weapon.

Except when it comes to Thomas D’Agostino.

Despite the recent string of political setbacks, the acting chief of the National Nuclear Security Administration said June 15 he believes he can turn Congress around.

During a June 15 address at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D’Agostino said that when he meets with House and Senate members individually, and when he is able to discuss classified details of the proposed warhead in closed meetings, he is able to change lawmakers’ minds.

“It’s not a new weapon, it’s a replacement warhead,” D’Agostino said. “It’s not the RNEP, it’s not a micro-nuke. That message needs to be repeated to Congress.”

The RNEP was the robust nuclear earth penetrator. Micro-nukes, or mini-nukes, were low-yield nuclear weapons. Both were pushed by President George W. Bush as needed new nuclear weapons. Both were killed by Congress in 2005.

By contrast, RRW would not add to the U.S. stockpile, but would replace existing warheads.

D’Agostino is polishing his sales pitch.

The RRW would be safer, cheaper, more environmentally friendly and, as the name suggests, more reliable than today’s warheads, he told the Woodrow Wilson gathering.

He added that:

• The RRW would feature “insensitive high explosives” to trigger the nuclear blast in place of the high explosive triggers in most current warheads. Thus RRWs would be much less likely to explode in an accident or an attack on a nuclear weapon site.

• RRWs would be produced without some of the toxic ingredients used in current weapons, including beryllium, a particular heavy metal that D’Agostino would not name, and an explosive solvent.

• Freed from Cold War requirements to pack as much explosive power into as small a space as possible, RRWs would be less intricate, thus more reliable.

• They can be built and guaranteed to work without explosive testing.

• They would permit the “fairly dramatic” reductions in the number of warheads needed in the U.S. stockpile. A smaller stockpile would cost less to maintain and guard.

D’Agostino will almost certainly have a chance to make those points repeatedly to lawmakers and many others. The House is calling for a commission to conduct a national debate over the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. national security before proceeding to develop any new warheads.


Anonymous said...

Thomas D’Agostino is about as credible at Mickey and their double-dipping corporate/DOE revolving door cronies. Doesn't bode well for the working stiffs of Los Alamos much less the hoards of double-dipping LA millionaires still feeding at the public trough.

Anonymous said...

"The RRW would be safer, cheaper, more environmentally friendly..."
--T. D’Agostino

Wow, an environmentally friendly weapon of mass destruction! I'm sold!

Eric said...

Most of the comments on this blog are about potential events occurring over the next 3 to 5 years.

Looking 15 years out, the results appear to be completely different for some of the people living in Los Alamos county.

Some 15 year results are very negative; others are very positive.

Anonymous said...

Eric the Great has spoken!

Eric said...

Thanks. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Sure he's got to change Congress' mind. After all, isn't his main job making sure that LLNL has the big contracts?

If that's not his job, then what is it? It's certainly not yanking the Q clearances of the Bechtel idiots and then having the feds charge them with mishandling classified information.

Anonymous said...

Can you please hold a hearing on the RRW program (RRW-1 and RRW-2)? It would be very beneficial for Congress to talk with the DoD nuclear weapon representatives and the LANL RRW team members. I am confident that Congress will be shocked at what they learn! Please investigate the matter, even if you decide to kill the program.

Eric said...

My Fault

I have noticed that almost no commenters ever take personal responsibility for fixing things.

They want to complain that something is broken, but they are not willing to put their own time and effort into fixing the thing that is broken.

Think of how different this place would be if each person took personal responsibility for trying hard to fix things, not complain, not say how hard fixing might be, not talk about fixing, but actually fix things.

Anonymous said...

Eric, you have no idea what some of us have tried. Let me explain LANL's attitude toward suggested "fixes". If the organization responsible for the suggested fix did not think of it themselves, then forget it. I am sure that there are plenty of examples of people trying to work with other parts of LANL to effect changes. Unfortunately, when those examples are described, it becomes pretty obvious who tried to do what.

However, I will give you an example of a suggested fix that was not followed up on. I know of this because I have email from the person who tried to make a change and was ignored. The USB vulnerability was reported to the computer security people almost a year before Jessica Q walked out with all sorts of info on a flash drive. The reported problem was ignored by S-11. LANL made the headlines. And it should not have. The person making the report is no longer working for LANL because that person was a contractor, and the division that person worked for lied and dumped the contract rather than have that person talk to DOE auditors last fall about the division's secure network.

That's what happens when problems are reported.

Anonymous said...

Eric, individuals in a large organization have little power to change the organization. The problems at LANL come from the above, and workers can do little to fix them. Standard business course stuff.

Anonymous said...

Sandia is now telling their employees in a memo that they'll possible be laying off 900 of them. And here, Mike keeps saying "Don't worry, be happy". At least SNL has some honesty about this mess...


Memo warns of massive layoffs at Sandia Labs - KOB TV

Eyewitness News 4 has obtained an internal memo that warns Sandia National Laboratories workers that massive job cuts could be on the way.

The email was sent out to all lab employees. In it, Sandia management outlines proposed congressional budget cuts that could result in over 900 positions being cut.

The memo says the congressional budget slashing could mean “the loss of approximately 625 Sandia employees and approximately 300 contractors.”

Anonymous said...

At least Paul Robinson is honest.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, but Mike Anastascio and LANS have money.

Anonymous said...

What money?

Anonymous said...

So, D'Agostino and his crew over at NNSA are now going to try and sell Complex 2030 to an angry Congress. Good grief, we ARE in trouble. These people couldn't sell water to a dieing man out in the middle of the desert. You may have seen their performance during the Congressional sessions. It was pathetic. Give the weapon labs over to DOD. At least they know how to effectively push a product through Congress.

Anonymous said...

One of the problems I found with dealing with S-11 was that they were toothless. They had no power to enforce anything and had to rely on other groups to go along with best practices or not. The reason for most of S division to be there has been mostly to say "we have a security group" and to go over the mountains of paperwork that have to be filed daily.

The biggest issue I have had with LANL was that it was so passive-aggressive and could ONLY fix things when there was a crisis. People who try to change things find that their luck is better off elsewhere. If S-11 had tried to put into policy about closing USB keys, it would have been stomped by various very important people in T, MST, CCN, X etc that would have seen this as more of an inconvenience than a matter of national security. Actually this is what happened back in 2002 when X/CCN-8 was moving into its new place.