Jan 31, 2008
The Dual-Axis Radiographic Hydrodynamic Test facility features two enormous electron beam generators that create X-rays to produce images of extremely fast-moving materials. One beam generator has been working, but the second was postponed for years and could now be tested at full power as soon as this week, according to a laboratory release. Scientists expect to conduct the first full test involving both beams in early summer.
“The achievement of this capability at DARHT is a major accomplishment in stockpile stewardship,” said Glenn Mara, the New Mexico laboratory’s principal associate director for nuclear weapons programs, in a press release. “Such tools assure the continued safety, security, and reliability of the nation's nuclear deterrent without the need to return to nuclear testing” (Los Alamos National Laboratory release, Jan. 29).
The Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration has pursued the DAHRT facility for years, but has faced numerous technical obstacles. If the facility achieves full operations this year, it would be two decades after the project’s inception, according to a 2004 report by nuclear weapons expert Christopher Paine of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
“It also will be considerably less capable than planned, thereby conveniently bolstering the argument that NNSA needs an even more powerful and capable radiographic facility,” the report says. “Weapons lab managers have perfected the art of turning costly technical failures into categorical improvements for the next big machine” (Greg Webb, Global Security Newswire, Jan. 31).
Meanwhile, laboratory managers have disclosed that an equipment failure allowed a small release of radiation last week in a chemistry laboratory, the Albuquerque Journal reported yesterday (see GSN, Oct. 25, 2007).
As technicians worked with a sample of germanium 68 — a radioactive isotope used for medical imaging — the safety cell holding the material lost power to its negative pressure system. Such systems are designed to prevent any gaseous leaks from the cell.
Some of the germanium did leak and triggered radiation alarms at the site, initiating an evacuation, the Journal reported. Parts of the building remain closed, but could reopen this week said laboratory spokesman Kevin Roark. Tests for radiation exposure among some workers came up negative.
“All the safety systems worked exactly as designed,” Roark said (Raam Wong, Albuquerque Journal, Jan. 30).
Jan 30, 2008
By Raam Wong
Journal Staff Writer
A "minute" amount of radiation was released inside a Los Alamos National Laboratory building last Wednesday after equipment malfunctioned, according to officials.
But nasal swipes taken on a few employees working in the area turned up negative for radiation exposure, lab spokesman Kevin Roark said Tuesday.
The building, a chemistry lab in Technical Area 48, was evacuated after air monitors detected germanium-68. The radioactive isotope is used in medical procedures such as MRIs.
The incident was not reported to the National Nuclear Security Administration or the state Environment Department because it did not rise to the level of a reportable incident, Roark said.
James Bearzi, head of the Environment Department's Hazardous Waste Bureau, confirmed that Los Alamos was not obligated to report the incident.
Parts of the building were closed after the incident and probably will reopen this week, Roark said.
"All the safety systems worked exactly as designed," Roark said. The incident occurred late in the day inside a "hot cell"— a shielded room in which radioactive material is manipulated using robotic arms.
Hot cells are typically employed to work with radioactive isotopes like germanium-68, which is used in medical imaging.
Roark said a circuit breaker malfunctioned and switched off a compressor, causing the hot cell to lose negative pressure and a tiny amount of germanium to escape.
None of the workers was contaminated, and surface swipes showed no residual contamination, the spokesman said.
Journal staff writer John Fleck contributed to this story
Jan 29, 2008
The designation gives the EPA authority to review and modify any projects funded by federal financial aid such as loans or grants, proposed over the aquifer. "What we're looking for is anything that might contaminate the aquifer," said Michael Bechdol, an EPA environmental scientist.
Under the designation, the EPA cannot review projects funded through congressional appropriations or contracts, which is the case for much of the work at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Jan 28, 2008
Originally published 02:20 p.m., January 28, 2008
Updated 04:12 p.m., January 28, 2008
OAK RIDGE — Three workers were contaminated with radioactivity Jan. 16 while unpacking a container at an Oak Ridge waste-processing facility, a state spokeswoman confirmed today.
Lung tests on the workers were clear, but plant officials are still awaiting lab results of biological samples to determine if there was any internal contamination, said Tisha Calabrese-Benton of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.
The incident occurred at the EnergySolutions facility on Bear Creek Road, and a small area of one building was contaminated with radioactive material released during the operation, Calabrese-Benton said.
“The area in the building has been decontaminated, and there was no release to the environment,” she said.
Calabrese-Benton said the state agency did not send anybody to inspect the facility and was basing its information on verbal communications with plant officials.
There reportedly were a number of problems with the waste shipment that arrived from a facility at Portsmouth, Ohio, she said.
“The manifest did not properly characterize the nature of the (radioactive) source,” she said. “It was characterized as a sealed source, which I’m sure meant it’s not directly spreadable by contact. In this case, it was a powder in a glass container, which would not constitute a sealed source.”
Calabrese-Benton said the inner-most container spilled some of its radioactive contents, although there were several overpacks in the shipping container — so none was released to the environment during the transportation from Ohio to Tennessee.
“It wasn’t an issue until it came to unpackaging it,” she said.
The state contacted the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission “to make them aware of the shipping issues,” Calabrese-Benton said.
Mark Walker, a spokesman for Utah-based EnergySolutions, said the shipments came from a U.S. Enrichment Corp. facility at Portsmouth, Ohio.
He said some of the powder came out of the container when it was being opening. The lab results of the three workers should be available by sometime Tuesday, he said.
Even though the contaminated area was cleaned up, it remains under restrictions until additional sampling confirms the results, Calabrese-Benton said.
She said the shipment’s manifest reportedly listed uranium-232 and thorium-239 as the radioactive contents. However, she said one of the containers indicated that uranium-233 also was present.
Walker said he was unaware of that issue, but he said EnergySolutions would have additional discussions with USEC regarding the shipping problems.
[Update, 1/26/2008: I'm pushing this post back up to the top of the blog, on the off chance that LANS management is attempting to cover up the event. If the event occurred as reported, there should have been an announcement by now. That leaves just two reasons for us not to have received an official announcement: either it didn't happen, or it did and they are trying to make it go away.
Not, mind you, that I am suggesting that LANS would attempt a cover-up...]
Hey folks - news flash. Big radiation exposure at the LANL hotcells facility yesterday. Operated by chemistry division/ADCLES. Division leader is out of town. Big cover up going on. Many people exposed to radioactive germanium. Lots of labs have been shut down due to proximity to the hotcells ... it is that bad. Just like the Americium incident/coverup all over again...hush, hush.
Jan 27, 2008
"Growing arrogance" of lab management? No offense, Ralph, but where have you been for the past five years? Ever hear of a lab "official" named Nanos?
Well, that's all history now. Maybe you're just a late bloomer, Ralph, but at least we can no longer accuse you, as we frequently have in the past, of being a LANL toadie. Welcome to our world, the one where LANL management really is the enemy.
Ralph's editorial piece.
Jan 25, 2008
This should be interesting to fellow readers:
Enjoy the future.
Todd Davis, one of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board site reps at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant, is reportedly leaving Oak Ridge and transferring to Los Alamos National Laboratory.
I talked to Don Owen, his running mate at Y-12, this morning, but Owen wouldn't comment on Davis' departure or his replacement.
"I'm not at liberty," Owen said.
Officials at DNSFB headquarters in Washington were not immediately available. The defense board likes to rotate its site reps on a fairly frequent basis, presumably so they don't get too comfy or get too close to their contractor prey. Besides, the rotation gives the reps a broader experience.
She has a story in today's issue about Udall's visit to LANL in which she quotes some of our blogger's comments about a previous AP story covered here on Udall's visit:
Still, on an independent blog where lab employees often vent — at lanl-the-rest-of-the-story.blogspot.com — anonymous comments about Udall's visit ruled the day.
"I voted for lab funding before I voted against lab funding before I voted for lab funding. I'm a strong supporter of LANL. Vote for me in the Senate election," one anonymous contributor wrote.
"This visit is so obviously political that Udall's campaign should be charged for the time he spends using the (National Security Sciences Building) auditorium to pander for LANL votes," another wrote of the Q-clearance-only auditorium where Udall addressed the lab, which precluded news media representatives from attending.
"There's about 6 people in the audience. A well attended event," another anonymous poster said. "Some good questions are being asked, though. The Idiot has no answers."
Jan 24, 2008
Udall, D-N.M., made the remarks Thursday in a town hall speech at the northern New Mexico nuclear weapons. The lab is in Udall's congressional district.
"I stand staunchly behind the men and women of LANL and will continue to work in every way and in every aspect to ensure that the future of the lab—rather than the status quo—is protected," Udall said, according to a transcript released after the speech.
A Udall spokeswoman said lab officials barred reporters from attending the speech, which was delivered in a secure area of the lab and broadcast to employees via an internal video network.
Full Story: http://www.lcsun-news.com/ci_8068524
Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin
Atlantic, 736pp, £25, ISBN 9781843547044
Spectator.co.uk - Judith Flanders on the new book by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin
J. Robert Oppenheimer, ‘the father of the atomic bomb’, remembered that when he saw the first mushroom cloud rise in its terrifying beauty above the test site in New Mexico, a line from the Bhagavad-Gita came into his head: ‘Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.’ According to a colleague, however, what he actually said was, ‘Now we’re all sons-of-bitches.’ Oppenheimer the legend vs. Oppenheimer the man. Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin, in this magisterial reconstruction of the rise and fall of America’s first great theoretical physicist, are careful to give both sides, the Sanskrit-reading mystic and the down-to-earth pragmatist.
There have been many books on Oppenheimer — shelves-full, perhaps libraries-full — but American Prometheus is the first to attempt to explore more than a single facet: not just Oppenheimer the physicist, or Oppenheimer the creator of Los Alamos, or Oppenheimer the victim of a government witch-hunt, but all of these, and more. It is a portrait of the man, the times, the science, and the politics. Not unsurprisingly, some of these elements are better represented than others, but it is a vaulting ambition, and it is amply rewarded.
J. Robert Oppenheimer was born in 1904 to a cultivated, assimilated German-Jewish family. He was an isolated, strange child — bullied when, aged 14, he produced his copy of Middlemarch at summer camp. After a patchy stint at Harvard, a traumatic time at Cambridge (where he attempted, or claimed he attempted, to poison his tutor), he was taken under the wing of Max Born at Göttingen, joining the cutting-edge of the new world of quantum mechanics (the term was coined by Born).
Doctorate in hand, aged 23 he returned to America to find 10 job offers waiting; he chose Caltech and the University of California at Berkeley. Berkeley, he said, was a physics ‘desert’, and ‘it would be nice to try to start something.’ He did indeed ‘start something’: odd and difficult as he remained, he produced 16 papers of revolutionary physics in three years, and drew to the university the country’s most brilliant students. Yet this did nothing to make him an easier colleague — arrogant and uncertain, supremely indifferent to others’ opinions and yet obsequiously eager to please.
It was only after Pearl Harbor that these traits had resonance outside academia. Oppenheimer was at once a natural and a quixotic choice to run the new secret weapons lab: he had never supervised anything bigger than a graduate seminar and, unlike many of his colleagues, he had no Nobel prize. And yet General Leslie Groves, the army officer in charge of the Manhattan Project, saw his weaknesses as strengths: he thought Oppenheimer’s ‘overweening ambition’ would drive him on, and that his reputation as a facilitator, as a mind quick to grasp others’ ideas and understand their implications, would enable him to take a lab set up in a ramshackle boys’ school, and turn it into one of the great science- factories of all time.
He was right, and Oppenheimer and his team produced to requirement in just over two years. What Groves had brushed aside, however, was Oppenheimer’s pink past. To a European, the American obsession with reds under beds, would be comical if it weren’t so terrifying, bathetic if it weren’t so soul-destroying. The FBI under the thuggish J. Edgar Hoover had long been mumbling over every detail of Oppenheimer’s life, trying desperately (mostly through illegal surveillance) to ‘prove’ that he had been a Communist Party member. It was not, of course, illegal, even in America, even in the 1950s, to be a Communist. But while it was not illegal, it could destroy you just the same. Much of American Prometheus, as with much of Oppenheimer’s life, is concerned with claims and counter-claims. For those not immediately set a-tremble by the very word ‘communist’, the fourth detailed analysis of a brief conversation held two decades earlier can pall.
What does not pall, what Bird and Sherwin brilliantly show, is how the destruction of Oppenheimer was the result not of genuine concern for security — as the physicist I. I. Rabi shrewdly remarked, most of what the Atomic Energy Commission claimed should be off-limits to Oppenheimer had been conceived by him in the first place. Instead it was a collection of petty grudges and personal vendettas, cultivated by power-hungry place-seekers and professional territory-stakers that brought Oppenheimer down.
Oppenheimer was destroyed, not in a court of law, where due process would have had to be observed, but by a kangaroo court where the rules were established by his inveterate enemy, Lewis Strauss, the thin-skinned, vain and vicious head of the AEC. A weak president looked on quietly, content that a man he thought was a ‘cry-baby’ for his concern about the morality of atomic warfare should be publicly traduced.
Oppenheimer was destroyed, ultimately, not because he was a security risk, but simply because he wanted an open, democratic debate on the morals and practice of atomic warfare. He thought that asking questions was not in, and of itself, treasonable. His government said he was wrong.
All-employee talk at 2:45 p.m.
U.S. Representative Tom Udall is scheduled to speak to Laboratory employees at 2:45 this afternoon from the National Security Sciences Building Auditorium.
Udall, D-New Mexico, is at the Lab for briefings at the Nonproliferation and International Security Center, including an overview presentation by Director Michael Anastasio, before addressing employees.
The all-employee talk also can be viewed on LABNET Channel 9. Employees can watch the talk in conference rooms with LABNET capability and on desktop computers using Real Media Stream and IPTV technology.
The NSSB is now Q-cleared only. See the Security Smart on new access requirements for the NSSB.
Hi, it would seem that the Washington State delegation beat the DOE and saved PNNL's WFO efforts. I wonder why all national lab contracts don't have a similar "Use Permit" clause in them.
This story was published Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008
By SHANNON DININNY, Associated Press Writer
YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) - The U.S. Department of Energy canceled its bidding competition Wednesday for the contract to manage Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, citing a provision in a recent spending bill that would allow the current and subsequent contractors to conduct research for private companies.
In 2006, the department announced that for the first time in 41 years it would seek competitive bids for the contract to manage the national science laboratory in Richland. Battelle Memorial Institute, a nonprofit group based in Columbus, Ohio, has managed and operated the south-central Washington laboratory since its inception in 1965.
Then in a draft request for proposals last fall, the Energy Department said it would eliminate from the contract a "special-use permit" that has allowed Battelle to use government-owned facilities to conduct outside work. At the time, the department said the decision would foster competition through a "level playing field" and better align the new laboratory contract with other contracts in the Energy Department's complex.
However, an omnibus spending bill signed by President Bush on Dec. 26 provided that the special-use permit at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory shall continue during the existing contract and any extensions or renewals of the contract, and shall be incorporated into any future contract.
The Energy Department has not yet decided how to proceed toward a new laboratory contract, the department said Wednesday in a statement.
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep. Doc Hastings, a Republican whose district includes the laboratory, welcomed the news, saying the Energy Department's proposal to abruptly end the special-use permit was "simply wrong." The pair had fought the proposal, noting that the use permit is responsible for 300-400 jobs at the laboratory alone.
"Our goal has always been to ensure that any contract competition resulted in a strong lab that would help our region create jobs and opportunities well into the future," their statement said. "The 'use permit' was a critical tool in helping the lab to grow and to create new jobs and business in the Tri-Cities and across our state."
PNNL's research areas include science and environment, energy, defense and national security. Nearly 60 percent of the laboratory's research is conducted for the Energy Department, with about 25 percent for the departments of Homeland Security and Defense.
The laboratory employs about 4,300 people and has a payroll of $327 million.
Battelle's current contract, which expired Sept. 30, has been extended while the government sought new bids.
In 2007, PNNL had a business volume of $765 million. An estimated 10 percent of that work was for private companies under the special-use permit, which was approved by the Energy Department under each contract since 1965.
Last month, Battelle announced that it would partner in its bid with the University of Washington, Washington State University and Babcock and Wilcox Technical Services Group Inc., an engineering company formerly known as BWXT Services Inc.
Battelle also is a partner in operating Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York, Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, the Idaho National Laboratory, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.
Jan 23, 2008
Posted by Andrew Conry-Murray, Jan 23, 2008 10:35 AM
A new startup has licensed technology from Los Alamos National Laboratory to help enterprises respond to
Founded in July 2007, Packet Analytics launched Net/FSE this Tuesday. Net/FSE is Linux-based software that performs real-time forensic analysis of NetFlow router data. NetFlow is a Cisco (NSDQ: CSCO) router protocol that provides key pieces of information about
The company claims its software can churn through terabytes of NetFlow sessions. The goal is to help IT security teams better respond to anomalous network behavior and security incidents by helping them understand which hosts are involved in an alert, how long the activity has been going on, and where it originated.
Packet Analytics makes a big deal of its association with Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). The technology behind Net/FSE has been used for five years on LANL networks. LANL is tasked by the Department of Energy (DOE) with maintaining the security and reliability of U.S. nuclear weapons, and its networks are a regular target of intrusion and espionage attempts.
The startup is hoping the association provides a measure of credibility that other startups have to earn over several product cycles and through customer trials.
Unfortunately, LANL has suffered a string of embarrassing security incidents in the past decade. For instance, employees sent top-secret nuclear weapons data through an unsecured e-mail network, the lab acknowledged in June 2007. In 2006, an employee whose spouse was involved in a meth lab bust was found to have sensitive information about nuclear weaponsin her home. A list of security breaches at Los Alamos and other DOE facilities is available here.
While the majority of security incidents at LANL involved mishandling of classified information by lab employees and contractors rather than network-related events, linking the new company closely to the lab isn’t the most clever marketing strategy. Luckily they aren’t trying to sell a data loss prevention product.
Packet Analysis is also late to the NetFlow party. A truckload of security products already consume and analyze NetFlow data. Competitors include Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) products such as Qradar from Q1 Labs; and Network Behavioral Analysis (NBA) products such as Lancope’s StealthWatch and Cisco’s own CS-MARS.
Many of these competing products add value because they analyze more than NetFlow sessions, including firewall and host OS logs and IDS alerts. Some products, such as CS MARS, can also help remediate events by closing firewall or switch ports to stop malicious traffic from spreading through a network.
However, these SIEM and NBA systems are expensive. Packet Analytics offers the software free for networks processing up to 1 million events per day. Perpetual licenses start at $1,495 for up to 3 million events. It’s a sensible strategy to attract organizations that may be daunted by the price tags for competing solutions.
Packet Analysis has launched with $200,000 in seed funding from Flywheel Ventures, the LANL Venture Acceleration Fund and private investors. The company expects to close a Series A round of investment by year-end 2008.
Acting associate director named to job that oversees manufacturing, support
Sue Vorenberg | The New Mexican
1/22/2008 - 1/23/08
Los Alamos National Laboratory director Michael Anastasio has appointed Carl Beard as the new associate director for stockpile manufacturing and support at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Beard has been acting associate director since June 2007. He replaced Michael Mallory, who was promoted to principal associate director for operations at the lab.
The stockpile manufacturing and support directorate works on technology and sciences to maintain the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile.
That includes the controversial production of replacement nuclear weapons cores, called pits.
By ROGER SNODGRASS, Monitor Editor
Jan 21, 2008
THERE IS MORE surgery ahead at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory. We hope that once the bleeding stops, the patient will be able to regain its strength.
Under new management since Oct. 1, the nuclear weapons lab has already cut about 500 employees, bringing the staff down to about 7,300 full-time jobs. Last week, lab Director George Miller announced reductions of about 700 more.
This wasn't what we expected when the University of California joined forces with San Francisco-based Bechtel Corp. to run the facility. UC had run it on its own until security lapses and financial blunders at Livermore and the Los Alamos Laboratory in New Mexico prompted the federal government to seek management bids.
In May, after the new contract was announced, Miller said that efficiencies, attrition and other changes would bring enough savings to avoid layoffs. But that hasn't been the case and, to make matters worse, the new federal budget cut annual funding for the lab by about $100 million, down to about $1.49 billion.
"The transition is over," Miller told lab workers last week. "Change is not. Change, in many respects, is going to continue for at least two more years." That is certainly unsettling to lab workers, who play a critical role in our national security with their work on nuclear weapons, energy alternatives, global warming and the development of supercomputers.
But Miller is right. With our military engagements, a growing national debt and a new administration in Washington next year, change is inevitable.
Miller does not think the next round of job cuts can be accomplished through attrition alone. So he seeks approval for a plan that apparently will include a form of buyouts. That's a wise move to help preserve morale.
But there is an even bigger challenge ahead. Even in these times of cuts and instability, Miller said, the lab must continue to maintain and recruit the brightest talent to ensure a top-quality workforce.
The lab has been an attractive place to work in the past. New hires could be lured with promises of working on critical programs with leading-edge technical resources. And the lab was known for providing job security and excellent benefits.
It is good to see the lab moving forward with plans to fund raises for its workers and make employee benefits more competitive with those available elsewhere in the Bay Area. The lab is too critical to the nation and the East Bay's economy to allow it to slip into intellectual mediocrity.
Jan 20, 2008
WASHINGTON - Resting atop the Trident II missile, the W88 warhead is among the mainstays of the country's submarine-based nuclear arsenal. For years, however, testing the warhead's components to ensure the weapon produces the intended blast instead of a fizzle has been complicated by a lack of replacement plutonium triggers.
Last summer, the first replacement plutonium trigger in 18 years received "diamond stamp" approval signaling it was ready for use in a warhead. To scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, that was a milestone to celebrate. It meant the warheads, after testing that makes the original trigger unsuitable for reuse, could be reassembled with a new trigger and put back into service.
A watchdog group now is raising questions about whether the replacement triggers, also known as pits, can be guaranteed to be as reliable as those already in some 400 W88 warheads. The original triggers were made with the benefit of underground nuclear testing, which the U.S. halted in 1992, and through a different process than the replacements. The last of the original triggers were manufactured in the late 1980s.
The Project on Government Oversight says it was told by some Los Alamos scientists that the trigger certified last July and known as the W88 pit needed 72 waivers from the specifications used for the original triggers, including 53 engineering-related changes.
"With this large number of waivers, how is it possible to objectively tell whether the pit will even work?" said Danielle Brian, executive director of the group that monitors nuclear weapons-related activities. She posed that question in a letter last Friday to Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman.
The government acknowledges differences between the old triggers and their replacements.
The new ones were made by using a mold to cast the grapefruit-size plutonium sphere. The original triggers, all made at the now-closed Rocky Flats facility in Colorado, were hammered into precise form. This process is viewed by metallurgists as producing a stronger product.
Because the U.S. no longer conducts underground nuclear tests, the Los Alamos scientists had to rely on other sources to replicate the original triggers and guarantee that the replacements would be as reliable as the old. These means included small-scale plutonium tests, technical data from past underground tests, and computer codes and models.
Precise manufacture of the trigger is essential.
In a warhead's detonation, a conventional explosive packaged around the pit compresses the plutonium inward, creating enough pressure for an atomic chain reaction. That, in turn, creates the high temperatures and pressure to ignite a "secondary" nuclear component. The result is a a massive hydrogen blast.
Any variation or flaw in the pit could cause a warhead not to detonate properly or to detonate with less explosive power than expected.
Since last summer's announcement, the Los Alamos lab has made 10 additional W88 triggers. So far, nine have earned the "diamond stamp" from the National Nuclear Security Administration, which oversees the lab's programs. Such approval means they are ready to use.
At least one other replacement pit required 71 specification waivers, a Los Alamos scientist indirectly involved in the production process told The Associated Press. The scientist spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the issue.
The agency acknowledged there were "more than 70 engineering authorizations" — as it characterizes the waivers — approved in the new W88 pit certification and that this was a "relative high number."
But Los Alamos and agency officials bristle at suggestions that the new triggers might be less reliable or have flaws that could affect their performance.
In an e-mail response to the watchdog group's claims, Bernard Pleau, a spokesman for the agency's office at Los Alamos, said the changes do not "compromise the integrity of the parts. The bottom line — the pits produced meet all functional quality requirements for use and are fully accepted by NNSA."
Kevin Roark, a spokesman for the Los Alamos weapons program said the changes in specifications "have been fully explored, fully vetted and fully accepted by NNSA and engineering analysis (conducted) by us."
A single trigger made at Rocky Flats cost less than $4 million. At Los Alamos, it has cost an estimated $430 million over 10 years to certify the first trigger. That difference in cost was noted by Brian in the letter to the energy secretary.
Officials say the cost figures reflect the fact that new facilities and a new process for making the replacement triggers had to be developed. That required extensive computer modeling and testing to assure precise shape, size and weight and that the triggers meet performance requirements.
The change in manufacturing process, from wrought to cast, has been a subject of debate and extensive analysis among those involved in nuclear weapons. Scientists at Los Alamos and at the government's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California concluded the change did not degrade the reliability of the triggers, according to NNSA.
Raymond Jeanloz of the University of California at Berkeley, a longtime adviser to the government on nuclear weapons issues, said in an interview he is not surprised there have been some modification in the W88 warhead, but that does not mean it is less reliable.
"The manufacturing process for the W88 has been incredibly, thoroughly vetted," said Jeanloz. He was on a panel that last year concluded the plutonium in warhead triggers is much sturdier than previously thought, with a life span of as much 100 years.
The government will not say how many W88 warheads it has. The number has been estimated at about 400, in addition to an estimated 3,200 W76 warheads that also are designed for the submarine-based Trident II missile.
Every other article that Ralph Damiani, Publisher/Editor has allowed into print in his company town rag has been a textbook example of how to kowtow to LANL management. The spin on his LANL stories have always been nearly as one-sided as the puff pieces that come out of the lab's own Public Affairs Office. Bad news is soft-peddled or ignored completely. Management malfeasance is glossed over.
But not this piece. While the article attempts to place the burden of blame for LANL's current problems on NNSA (and who can find fault with that logic?), passing mention of LANL management's share of the blame is given.
Regardless, this article spoke mostly truth about one of our "most visible and iconic national jewels".
Ok, so a bit of kowtowing remains, but still; it's as if Ralph got himself a big ol' testosterone injection some time in the past month.
Jan 19, 2008
The news that the National Nuclear Security Administration has evaluated Los Alamos National Laboratory’s performance for last year and settled its accounts with Los Alamos National Security, LLC, under the cover of secrecy is disturbing.
Some may be suspicious that the federal government has let its problem-prone creation too easily off the hook for the management partnership’s first 18 months of what has been, to say the least, a rocky road.
Others may believe Washington has once again made a scapegoat of one of its most visible and iconic national jewels.
And there are plenty of signs that NNSA’s own issues may be to blame for a good portion of LANL’s shortcomings.
A current special report by the Inspector General of the Department Energy on the department’s management challenges notes a particularly alarming discrepancy along this line.
“Our review found that while the dollar value and complexity of department contracts has increased in recent years, the overall number of acquisition officials has essentially remained constant,” the IG wrote in the document released last month. “Looking at this issue from another perspective, in 2006, contract specialists accounted for 2.9 percent of the Department’s workforce, but were responsible for important aspects of 90 percent of the Department’s acquisition workforce.”
To what extent, therefore, were safety and security demerits blamed on the laboratory really traceable to Washington? How do we know, without a full discussion with detailed comments and explanations of this and many other matters, that this review has been handled properly?
Furthermore, what are we to make of the fact that laboratory managers have been given a grade of 71 percent, which we take to be a very weak C average. Given, what the director said were high marks for the core mission nuclear weapons work, there must be a few Fs and Ds in there to arrive at a C.
Despite that, and despite many other problems for which a responsible official or system is not to be found or designated, the lab’s private managers have pulled down a nearly $60 million profit. And there is no guarantee that this will not go on for another 20 years.
Certainly, from a community perspective, LANS and NNSA can both be faulted for the “discovery” after the contract award that they were hundreds of millions of dollars short in running the laboratory and that the management efficiencies that were announced at the beginning contained too much of dumping jobs and laying off employees.
Many realized only after the laboratory’s highly publicized meltdowns in recent years the deep-seated problems went completely unnoticed in evaluations at the time. Those evaluations were laughed at as political and expedient, but the outcome resulted in a competition for the contract.
The current evaluation, assigning the managers profit for a C performance that seems to come under conditions of near zero accountability, makes us wonder if anything has been learned at all.
Jan 18, 2008
The designation is important to protect regional drinking water supplies. To qualify, a sole or principal source of drinking water must supply 50% or more of the drinking water for the area and that, should the aquifer become contaminated, there are no reasonable alternative sources of water for the area. The designated Española Basin encompasses an area of about 3,000 square miles and runs from a little north of Tres Piedras to below where the Santa Fe River flows into the Rio Grande [does it go into the Galisteo basin?]. It includes the cities of Española, Los Alamos and Santa Fe, as well as the Pueblos of Picuris, Ohkay Owingeh, Santa Clara, San Ildefonso, Pojoaque, Nambe, Tesuque and Cochiti.
The La Cienega Valley Citizens for Environmental Safeguards began the petition process in 2001. Zane Spiegel, a geo-hydrologist, who is very familiar with the Española Basin, assisted the non-profit organization. Spiegel began exploring the Basin on horseback in the early 1950s when he was working for the U.S. Geologic Survey. The mission of Citizens for Environmental Safeguards is to conserve imperiled watersheds both in water quantity and quality issues, habitat, native species and their threatened habitat and the cultural resources that affects traditional and historic communities and provide public education about these issues.
As a result of the designation, all projects that require federal funding having the potential to contaminate the designated area will be subject to review by the EPA. The review could result in either a redesign of the project or prevent a commitment of funding. The designation does not impact projects that receive funding from private entities or state and local governments.Assembling the petition requires sufficient technical information to allow EPA to determine whether the aquifer is the sole, or principal, source of drinking water and to establish the boundaries of the aquifer and its recharge area.
Elaine Cimino, director of the Citizens for Environmental Safeguards, said the designation would help protect ground water. It is our hope today that our congressional delegation is able to earmark much needed funds for clean drinking water to the Española Basin Sole Source Aquifer System. We are surprised and delighted that the US EPA recognized and acknowledge the much needed support for clean drinking water standards here in New Mexico."
Activists question how the designation might affect Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), a facility that has reported contamination in both the Los Alamos County and Santa Fe drinking water supplies. The Department of Energy is proposing increased plutonium pit production at LANL, with public hearings scheduled for early March in New Mexico.
For more information about the sole source aquifer designation, please visit environmentalsafeguards.org and click on Water. The petition and the designation materials are available at epa.gov by conducting a search for Española Basin Sole Source Aquifer System.
This has been the CCNS News Update. For more information about this or other nuclear safety issues, please visit our website at nuclearactive.org.
Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety
107 Cienega Street Santa Fe, NM 87501
Tel (505) 986-1973 Fax (505) 986-0997
A strong performance in handling its core nuclear missions overcame weaknesses in the areas of cybersecurity, health, safety and management to enable the partnership that runs Los Alamos National Laboratory to collect nearly 80 percent of its fee last year.
The details contained in a performance report by the federal supervisors have been withheld from public view.
Early last week, as LANL Director Michael Anastasio announced the end of the current round of workforce reductions, he referred to a performance evaluation report by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) in Washington, D.C., that was due after September 2007.
NNSA had determined that the lab had met 71 percent of the objectives against which they were evaluated, Anastasio said.
The number is a key determinant in calculating the performance fee, or profit, that was awarded to Los Alamos National Security (LANS), LLC, the partnership that manages the laboratory, for its first year of responsibilities.
John Broehm, a spokesperson for NNSA in Washington, said Thursday that the FY 2007 performance evaluation report for LANL would not be made available, other than a few numbers related to the award fee.
He said it was classified, “Official Use Only,” because it contained “proprietary information.”
He did provide a partial explanation for the discrepancy between Anastasio’s claim that the laboratory had met 71 percent of its objectives and the award to LANS of 80 percent of the available fee.
Of the 200-page evaluation report for the first 18 months since LANS took over the management contract, NNSA provided a total of five numbers. Two more numbers were provided as a factor of the first set.
“The total possible fee available for Los Alamos was $73,279,996,” Broehm wrote in an e-mail in response to the call. “They received $58,208,986 or 79.4 percent of the total.”
This figure includes $21,984,404, which is the fixed portion of the contract performance fee, and not at risk.
To clarify the difference, Broehm added, “Of the remaining $51,295,996, they earned 71 percent, or $36,224,982.”
In a memo to LANL employees, Anastasio said the lab’s self-assessment “drew very similar conclusions” to the NNSA evaluation.
Anastasio concluded from the NNSA evaluation that “our strategies are sound; we have good plans in place; they remain confident that the management at the lab, including the leadership team is progressing in the right direction; we have made important progress, especially in the second half of the year; and in some areas, our progress has not met their expectations.”
Problem areas needing “significant improvement” included cyber security, safety and health, facilities and project management,” Anastasio wrote to laboratory employees at the time.
The cyber-security problem was exemplified by the breach that occurred in Oct. 2006, involving contract employee and archivist Jessica Quintana, who was sentenced to two years probation last month for having removed classified documents and electronic media from the laboratory.
During the six months of transition to leadership of the laboratory and upon assuming direct responsibility, laboratory officials repeatedly emphasized the importance of “integration” of capabilities and resources within LANL and across the weapons complex.
“It’s the toughest nut to crack at this place,” said LANL spokesman Kevin Roark Thursday. “Trying to figure out how one move affects all the other moves is difficult in any environment, but particularly difficult here.”
An article by Todd Jacobson that appeared earlier in the week in the on-line publication Weapons Complex Monitor also used the 79.4 percent figure, which was compared to a 86.7 percent average among the eight NNSA nuclear weapons sites.
The article said Savannah River Co. scored highest, garnering 99 percent of available fee.
Sandia National Laboratories, graded at 96.9 percent of fee, was awarded $23.21 million out of an available $23.96 million. Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, still under the old University of California contract, received 95.1 percent, or $6.75 million out of a possible $7 million fee, according to the article.
The Monitor has submitted an official Freedom of Information Act request to the Department of Energy service center in Albuquerque for the complete performance report.
By Jim McBride, Amarillo.com
Three Pantex employees remain on paid administrative leave for violating nuclear safety procedures after workers failed to keep a close lookout on a nuclear warhead for a few minutes last week, a top Pantex official said Wednesday.
A glance at the ruleThe incident violated longstanding "buddy system" rules aimed at preventing unauthorized access to nuclear weapons.
Pantex's "two-person coverage" rules require that at least two trained employees with proper security clearances be able to detect any incorrect or unauthorized acts around a nuclear explosive when facilities are accessible to employees.
Source: B & W Pantex
B & W Pantex President and General Manager Dan Swaim said workers failed to keep proper visual surveillance of the warhead for less than eight minutes on Jan. 10.
A fourth employee entered the area and discovered the violation, which was promptly corrected. The warhead remained under protective cover during the incident in the Material Access Area, a secure and well-guarded area of the plant.
"Two people remained sitting in a corridor-type area, and the third person performing her job moved down doing tooling inventory, entered that area and was out of the line of sight of two technicians who actually had custody of the weapon at that time," Swaim said.
"She had both a positive obligation not to move outside of their zone of coverage, and they had a positive obligation to remain in observation of the weapon and her while she was doing her inventory work."
Investigators also checked an electronic security access control system and determined that no unauthorized individuals entered the area.
Swaim said the contractor and the federal government's Pantex Site Office are investigating the incident.
"Our employees are honest and reliable. They are cooperating in every aspect of that," he said. "We will fully understand the circumstances that led to this and take any action that we deem appropriate at that time."
The Energy Department will determine whether B & W Pantex will face any potential fines for the incident, he said.
An external corporate review team that will include representatives from two national weapons labs will examine the incident also, Swaim said.
"We take it very, very seriously. There was no access to the weapon. There was no breach of physical security. The area was behind lock and key in our security system at all times," Swaim said.
Contact: Chris Harrington
Phone: (202) 997-3150
The University of California Board of Regents today (Jan. 17) selected Norman J. Pattiz as chairman of the Board of Governors of both Los Alamos National Security LLC (LANS LLC) and Lawrence Livermore National Security LLC (LLNS LLC). LANS and LLNS were formed to manage and operate Los Alamos National Laboratory and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, respectively.
UC Board of Regents Chairman Richard C. Blum and UC President Robert C. Dynes jointly recommended his appointment. Pattiz's appointment is effective March 1, 2008, upon the resignation of the current chairman, Gerald L. Parsky.
"Norm Pattiz will bring great business acumen and proven leadership skill to the governance of these laboratories," said Blum. "His tremendous experience in the corporate sector and with government, as well as his understanding of the laboratories and the important work they do, will make a substantial contribution to their effective management."
Pattiz, a member of the UC Board of Regents since 2001, is serving a term set to expire in March 2014. Pattiz has served as a member of the Regents' Committee on Oversight of the Department of Energy Laboratories since 2001 and as its chairman since 2007. In addition, he has served as a university member advisory governor to the boards of LANS and LLNS since 2007.
"I am pleased to assume this responsibility and to continue to work closely with the corporate partners and both labs to ensure strong and effective management of these important facilities," said Pattiz. "Los Alamos and Livermore National Laboratories and the people who work there are an incredible scientific, technological and national security resource to our country, and I look forward to working with them."
Pattiz is the founder and chairman of Westwood One, America's largest radio network company, which owns, manages or distributes NBC Radio Network, CBS Radio Network, the Metro Networks and CNN Radio. It is the nation's largest producer of news, sports, talk and entertainment programming. In addition, Pattiz is a former member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), having been appointed by Presidents Clinton and Bush. The BBG oversees all U.S. non-military international broadcasting including Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, Worldnet Television, Radio and TV Marti and the Middle East Broadcasting Network. As chairman of the BBG's Middle East committee, Pattiz was responsible for conceiving and launching Radio Sawa and Alhurra Television. Pattiz is past president of the Broadcast Education Association.
Pattiz has received numerous professional and leadership awards. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and Pacific Council on International Policy, is director of the Office of Foreign Relations of the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department, and serves on the Region 1, Homeland Security Advisory Council. Pattiz has served on the board of the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California, the Communications Board of UCLA and the Dean's Advisory Board of California State University, Fullerton.
LANS and LLNS are each governed by a Board of Governors. Each Board of Governors includes a six-person Executive Committee. Under the LLC agreements between the university and its corporate partners, the university is entitled to appoint three individuals to the Executive Committee of each LLC, including the chairman of the Board of Governors.
About the University of California
The University of California, founded in 1868, is a system of 10 campuses with a mission of teaching, research and public service. With 214,000 undergraduate and graduate students, UC is the world's premier public research university. UC has five medical schools, four law schools and the nation's largest continuing education program. Fifty researchers affiliated with UC have been awarded Nobel Prizes; 18 of theses prestigious awards have been won since 1995. UC also has more than 350 members in the National Academy of Sciences, and UC-affiliated researchers have received 56 Medals of Science since Congress created the award in 1959. UC is involved in the management of three national laboratories on behalf of the Department of Energy -- Lawrence Berkeley, Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories. For more news and information about the University of California: www.universityofcalifornia.edu
Jan 17, 2008
The Lawrence Livermore lab will likely face more layoffs as it confronts a tighter federal budget, increased expenses and a push to streamline the country's nuclear weapons complex.
Lab director George Miller told employees at an all-hands meeting Thursday morning that he's proposing a workforce reduction plan that could bring as many as 700 more layoffs by the end of the year. The plan, submitted to the National Nuclear Security Administration for approval, would begin with voluntary buyouts, he said.
About 500 workers have already left in a round of layoffs announced in November and executed this month, slimming the total workforce to about 7,300 full-time employees.
"There is approximately another 10 percent we would like to leave the lab," Miller said.
This month's layoffs came from among 2,000 temporary employees and support workers. Future cuts will likely include some of the core scientific and engineering staff.
Though he has requested a voluntary separation program, Miller said more involuntary layoffs would probably be needed.
Lab workers did receive some good news from Miller, who said he had decided to give all employees their annual raises, which had been frozen indefinitely.
He also scored a small victory for employee benefits by getting the NNSA to approve a new list of comparison companies to match benefits with that better represent Bay Area competition. The lab's new contract, which began in October, requires lab benefits to be 105 percent of the going rate among companies.
"I learned a long time ago that even in the midst of budget difficulties and workforce restructuring, it's essential to continue to recruit and retain an exceptional workforce," he said. "That's really hard in the Bay Area. There is a demand for top talent, the cost of living is high, salaries and benefits are very competitive."
The rest of his address focused on how the lab can stay relevant in a changing world and at the same time bring operating costs down
"We are going to be a cost-effective, very efficient lab so that we make the best use of the taxpayers' money," he said.
Miller's plan includes reassessing how the lab handles information technology, though he discredited a rumor that the work would be outsourced. He is also appointing a group of managers to work on increasing efficiency and evaluate nearly 300 suggestions received from employees.
Despite a federal budget that is $100 million less than last year's, Miller said he managed to carve out $10 million to fund work on streamlining the business side of the lab.
Another $10 million will be spent on research he thinks will help position the lab for the future, such as countermeasures for asymmetric warfare, research on climate change and potential mitigation and nuclear energy.
"These are all critical areas of importance to the country, and the state and the globe and to the future of this laboratory," he said.
A big chunk of the federal cuts are coming from a program to design a nuclear warhead to replace aging weapons in the stockpile, a decision Miller called disappointing.
However, the budget includes new money for certifying the old weapons.
Betsy Mason covers science and the national laboratories. Reach her at 925-952-5026 or email@example.com.
Jan 16, 2008
Global Security Newswire
“Of course we will not work on that because it’s been zeroed out,” Michael Anastasio said during a discussion at the
While Anastasio’s statement was straightforward, the agency that oversees production of the nation’s nuclear weapons has recently painted a less-clear picture for the immediate future of the Reliable Replacement Warhead.
Congressional appropriators eliminated funding for further design work on the weapon, but that does not mean all work on RRW-related projects will grind to a halt this year, the National Nuclear Security Administration has suggested.
The Reliable Replacement Warhead, as administration officials describe it, is a bid to replace Cold War-era warheads with a new design that would be easier to maintain, more reliable and cheaper to produce than the aging stockpile. The new warhead would also help maintain the viability of
In his fiscal 2008 budget, President George W. Bush had requested $88.8 million for RRW design work. Lawmakers eliminated that funding, instead calling for the Energy and Defense departments to formally reassess the nation’s nuclear weapon needs as well as its nuclear strategy.
While expressing disappointment, NNSA officials have argued that some groundwork for the new warhead can continue in the face of the eliminated funding.
“We continue to believe an RRW-type of program is the right one for ensuring the future of our nation’s nuclear deterrent,” NNSA spokesman Bryan Wilkes said in a statement released earlier this month. “Over the next year we will be working to refine our RRW certification plan and the approach to RRW security and safety, in line with congressional authorization and funding.”
The agency argues that there is still an opportunity to explore concepts relevant to the new warhead design, noting that the fiscal 2008 omnibus appropriations bill includes $15 million for an “advanced certification” campaign to ensure that any new warhead would not require explosive testing to be “certified” for the stockpile.
The JASON group, an elite scientific advisory board that advises government officials on nuclear weapon-related issues, suggested last year that more work was needed to ensure such testing would be unnecessary (see GSN, Oct. 1, 2007).
NNSA officials also point out that the omnibus funding bill includes $10 million for an “enhanced surety campaign” to develop new technologies to increase the safety and security of possible future weapons systems. Such an effort is consistent with the National Nuclear Security Administration’s effort within the RRW program to enhance security of
In his address yesterday, Anastasio called for a renewed partnership between government and the science and technology community, arguing that only such a strengthened partnership can provide the long-term solutions to security issues facing the
“The Cold War has ended but the national security challenges confronting the
The defining issue is no longer a clash between great powers but rather terrorism, proliferation and a range of regional issues, he said. “While the
“In the complex geopolitics of the emerging security environment issues of rogue regime behavior, terrorist tactics, weapons of mass destruction and proliferation and deterrence all intersect with nuclear energy, energy security and global warming,” he said, arguing that science is critical to addressing this complicated nexus.
National laboratories, however, are being driven more toward addressing near-term goals with more “discrete and narrowly defined deliverables,” he warned.
Jan 15, 2008
Oh, for the days of Big Science.
When nuclear weapons were peacekeepers and enemies were Soviet, the U.S. government trusted in science — and invested lavishly in it, too, said Michael Anastasio, director of Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Funding for national laboratories such as Los Alamos has dwindled. Today the government invests half as much in science as it did 30 years ago, Anastasio said Jan. 15.
That’s when funding is measured in terms of percentage of gross domestic product, an Anastasio aide clarified.
“It’s time for rebuilding the partnership of government and the science and technology community,” Anastasio told an audience at the Woodrow Wilson Center, a government-funded policy think tank.
From the 1940s, when government-funded science invented the atomic bomb, to the ’60s, when it sent U.S. astronauts to the moon, and through the Cold War, science and scientists were warriors on the front line of U.S. national security. They built the United States into a superpower.
“Today’s expectations are more limited,” Anastasio said.
Big science programs have been largely abandoned. Government research focuses more on near-term results and less on long-term science that may — or may not — pay off years in the future.
To a greater extent, the U.S. government relies on the marketplace to perform research, Anastasio said. And the private sector has little interest in long-term research with a distant, maybe dubious return.
As the government’s commitment to science has waned, it has become increasingly difficult to attract the best students into fields such as math and engineering — and then into government laboratories, Anastasio said.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Government labs are well positioned to take on a variety of new national security challenges, from terrorism to energy availability, climate change to cybersecurity. The labs’ capability in large-scale computing, for example, could be harnessed to study and combat global warming.
Government labs could focus on finding ways to cut U.S. dependence on foreign oil. Insights into superconductivity gleaned during plutonium research could be used to reduce energy losses when electricity is conducted over long distances.
The labs have already contributed technology that is at work in the war on terrorism, including monitors in use today to sample the air for weaponized pathogens in cities across the nation.
To reorient government science toward solving new problems, new goals should be set at the highest levels of government, Anastasio said.
New national science goals could be set by the incoming president and Congress in 2009, Anastasio said, much as the moon mission was set as a goal in 1961 by newly elected President John F. Kennedy to catch up with the Soviets in the space race.
“We need a vision,” Anastasio said. And “an investment strategy.”
Scientists at national laboratories will be critical to post-Cold War national security solutions, but they need a clearer vision and financial commitment from the government, according to the director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Lab Director Michael Anastasio spoke Tuesday to scientists and reporters at the Woodrow Wilson Center about the security challenges of the 21st century.
Anastasio said more than a half-century ago, Los Alamos headed the president's call to make sure the United States had a safe, reliable nuclear deterrent. Since then, research at national labs on pathogens like anthrax led to the understanding to build anthrax detectors, which Anastasio said were deployed when anthrax was discovered in a letter delivered to Congress.
He said other technology that national scientists were developing was deployed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, but he did not offer specifics.
Anastasio said the security challenges today, as the nation becomes more dependent on information, include information technology and cyber security, and scientists have a role to play in combating cyber terrorism. But he cautioned that waning leadership and financial commitment to the national labs is a problem.
In response to a question, Anastasio said the scientists no will longer work on the Reliable Replacement Warhead program, as Congress zeroed out funding in recent budget negotiations. "We don't have a consensus on what we're doing and where we're trying to go, so unfortunately a decision by an Appropriations Committee is setting policy," he said.
Anastasio said government investment in physical sciences as a percentage of gross domestic product is "barely half what it was 30 years ago." "We can't continually eat our seed corn and reap the benefits of past investments."
He offered a prescription to rebuild the partnership between government policymakers and the science community that first asked for a vision from the highest levels of government on what the priorities are. Next, he said a structure must be in place to implement that vision.
Anastasio asked if scientists should tackle the issue of dependence on foreign oil, terrorists attacking the United States or a combination, for example.
Finally, a sustained investment in science, especially longer-term, higher-risk projects, is needed. "It's got to be an investment that spans discovery to applied science," he said. In non-scientific terms, that means funding that would not stop before a useful product is actually developed.
When pressed for details on how the government and scientific community should develop a science security plan for the next century, he said it should neither be a top-down dictate from an administration nor a "bottoms-up" approach from committees of scientists.
Anastasio advocated a model akin to the Cold War era, where policymakers would decide security goals and then trust and fund scientists to develop solutions to meet those goals.
"If policymakers, government and the science and technology community come together and meet this challenge," he said, "they can meet the national security needs now and in the future."
January 15, 2008; Wall Street Journal - Commentary, Page A13
The accelerating spread of nuclear weapons, nuclear know-how and nuclear material has brought us to a nuclear tipping point. We face a very real possibility that the deadliest weapons ever invented could fall into dangerous hands.
The steps we are taking now to address these threats are not adequate to the danger. With nuclear weapons more widely available, deterrence is decreasingly effective and increasingly hazardous.
One year ago, in an essay in this paper, we called for a global effort to reduce reliance on nuclear weapons, to prevent their spread into potentially dangerous hands, and ultimately to end them as a threat to the world. The interest, momentum and growing political space that has been created to address these issues over the past year has been extraordinary, with strong positive responses from people all over the world.
Mikhail Gorbachev wrote in January 2007 that, as someone who signed the first treaties on real reductions in nuclear weapons, he thought it his duty to support our call for urgent action: "It is becoming clearer that nuclear weapons are no longer a means of achieving security; in fact, with every passing year they make our security more precarious."
In June, the United Kingdom's foreign secretary, Margaret Beckett, signaled her government's support, stating: "What we need is both a vision -- a scenario for a world free of nuclear weapons -- and action -- progressive steps to reduce warhead numbers and to limit the role of nuclear weapons in security policy. These two strands are separate but they are mutually reinforcing. Both are necessary, but at the moment too weak."
We have also been encouraged by additional indications of general support for this project from other former U.S. officials with extensive experience as secretaries of state and defense and national security advisors. These include: Madeleine Albright, Richard V. Allen, James A. Baker III, Samuel R. Berger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Frank Carlucci, Warren Christopher, William Cohen, Lawrence Eagleburger, Melvin Laird, Anthony Lake, Robert McFarlane, Robert McNamara and Colin Powell.
Inspired by this reaction, in October 2007, we convened veterans of the past six administrations, along with a number of other experts on nuclear issues, for a conference at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. There was general agreement about the importance of the vision of a world free of nuclear weapons as a guide to our thinking about nuclear policies, and about the importance of a series of steps that will pull us back from the nuclear precipice.
The U.S. and Russia, which possess close to 95% of the world's nuclear warheads, have a special responsibility, obligation and experience to demonstrate leadership, but other nations must join.
Some steps are already in progress, such as the ongoing reductions in the number of nuclear warheads deployed on long-range, or strategic, bombers and missiles. Other near-term steps that the U.S. and Russia could take, beginning in 2008, can in and of themselves dramatically reduce nuclear dangers. They include:
• Extend key provisions of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty of 1991. Much has been learned about the vital task of verification from the application of these provisions. The treaty is scheduled to expire on Dec. 5, 2009. The key provisions of this treaty, including their essential monitoring and verification requirements, should be extended, and the further reductions agreed upon in the 2002 Moscow Treaty on Strategic Offensive Reductions should be completed as soon as possible.
• Take steps to increase the warning and decision times for the launch of all nuclear-armed ballistic missiles, thereby reducing risks of accidental or unauthorized attacks. Reliance on launch procedures that deny command authorities sufficient time to make careful and prudent decisions is unnecessary and dangerous in today's environment. Furthermore, developments in cyber-warfare pose new threats that could have disastrous consequences if the command-and-control systems of any nuclear-weapons state were compromised by mischievous or hostile hackers. Further steps could be implemented in time, as trust grows in the U.S.-Russian relationship, by introducing mutually agreed and verified physical barriers in the command-and-control sequence.
• Discard any existing operational plans for massive attacks that still remain from the Cold War days. Interpreting deterrence as requiring mutual assured destruction (MAD) is an obsolete policy in today's world, with the U.S. and Russia formally having declared that they are allied against terrorism and no longer perceive each other as enemies.
• Undertake negotiations toward developing cooperative multilateral ballistic-missile defense and early warning systems, as proposed by Presidents Bush and Putin at their 2002 Moscow summit meeting. This should include agreement on plans for countering missile threats to Europe, Russia and the U.S. from the Middle East, along with completion of work to establish the Joint Data Exchange Center in Moscow. Reducing tensions over missile defense will enhance the possibility of progress on the broader range of nuclear issues so essential to our security. Failure to do so will make broader nuclear cooperation much more difficult.
• Dramatically accelerate work to provide the highest possible standards of security for nuclear weapons, as well as for nuclear materials everywhere in the world, to prevent terrorists from acquiring a nuclear bomb. There are nuclear weapons materials in more than 40 countries around the world, and there are recent reports of alleged attempts to smuggle nuclear material in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus. The U.S., Russia and other nations that have worked with the Nunn-Lugar programs, in cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), should play a key role in helping to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540 relating to improving nuclear security -- by offering teams to assist jointly any nation in meeting its obligations under this resolution to provide for appropriate, effective security of these materials.
As Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger put it in his address at our October conference, "Mistakes are made in every other human endeavor. Why should nuclear weapons be exempt?" To underline the governor's point, on Aug. 29-30, 2007, six cruise missiles armed with nuclear warheads were loaded on a U.S. Air Force plane, flown across the country and unloaded. For 36 hours, no one knew where the warheads were, or even that they were missing.
• Start a dialogue, including within NATO and with Russia, on consolidating the nuclear weapons designed for forward deployment to enhance their security, and as a first step toward careful accounting for them and their eventual elimination. These smaller and more portable nuclear weapons are, given their characteristics, inviting acquisition targets for terrorist groups.
• Strengthen the means of monitoring compliance with the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as a counter to the global spread of advanced technologies. More progress in this direction is urgent, and could be achieved through requiring the application of monitoring provisions (Additional Protocols) designed by the IAEA to all signatories of the NPT.
• Adopt a process for bringing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) into effect, which would strengthen the NPT and aid international monitoring of nuclear activities. This calls for a bipartisan review, first, to examine improvements over the past decade of the international monitoring system to identify and locate explosive underground nuclear tests in violation of the CTBT; and, second, to assess the technical progress made over the past decade in maintaining high confidence in the reliability, safety and effectiveness of the nation's nuclear arsenal under a test ban. The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization is putting in place new monitoring stations to detect nuclear tests -- an effort the U.S should urgently support even prior to ratification.
In parallel with these steps by the U.S. and Russia, the dialogue must broaden on an international scale, including non-nuclear as well as nuclear nations.
Key subjects include turning the goal of a world without nuclear weapons into a practical enterprise among nations, by applying the necessary political will to build an international consensus on priorities. The government of Norway will sponsor a conference in February that will contribute to this process.
Another subject: Developing an international system to manage the risks of the nuclear fuel cycle. With the growing global interest in developing nuclear energy and the potential proliferation of nuclear enrichment capabilities, an international program should be created by advanced nuclear countries and a strengthened IAEA. The purpose should be to provide for reliable supplies of nuclear fuel, reserves of enriched uranium, infrastructure assistance, financing, and spent fuel management -- to ensure that the means to make nuclear weapons materials isn't spread around the globe.
There should also be an agreement to undertake further substantial reductions in U.S. and Russian nuclear forces beyond those recorded in the U.S.-Russia Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty. As the reductions proceed, other nuclear nations would become involved.
President Reagan's maxim of "trust but verify" should be reaffirmed. Completing a verifiable treaty to prevent nations from producing nuclear materials for weapons would contribute to a more rigorous system of accounting and security for nuclear materials.
We should also build an international consensus on ways to deter or, when required, to respond to, secret attempts by countries to break out of agreements.
Progress must be facilitated by a clear statement of our ultimate goal. Indeed, this is the only way to build the kind of international trust and broad cooperation that will be required to effectively address today's threats. Without the vision of moving toward zero, we will not find the essential cooperation required to stop our downward spiral.
In some respects, the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons is like the top of a very tall mountain. From the vantage point of our troubled world today, we can't even see the top of the mountain, and it is tempting and easy to say we can't get there from here. But the risks from continuing to go down the mountain or standing pat are too real to ignore. We must chart a course to higher ground where the mountaintop becomes more visible.
Mr. Shultz was secretary of state from 1982 to 1989. Mr. Perry was secretary of defense from 1994 to 1997. Mr. Kissinger was secretary of state from 1973 to 1977. Mr. Nunn is former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The following participants in the Hoover-NTI conference also endorse the view in this statement: General John Abizaid, Graham Allison, Brooke Anderson, Martin Anderson, Steve Andreasen, Mike Armacost, Bruce Blair, Matt Bunn, Ashton Carter, Sidney Drell, General Vladimir Dvorkin, Bob Einhorn, Mark Fitzpatrick, James Goodby, Rose Gottemoeller, Tom Graham, David Hamburg, Siegfried Hecker, Tom Henriksen, David Holloway, Raymond Jeanloz, Ray Juzaitis, Max Kampelman, Jack Matlock, Michael McFaul, John McLaughlin, Don Oberdorfer, Pavel Podvig, William Potter, Richard Rhodes, Joan Rohlfing, Harry Rowen, Scott Sagan, Roald Sagdeev, Abe Sofaer, Richard Solomon, and Philip Zelikow.
Jan 14, 2008
The University of California Board of Regents will hold its regular business meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 15, through Thursday, Jan. 17, at Covel Commons on the UCLA campus. The full agenda for the meeting is available at:
A press room will be open across from the meeting room. Please register for a credential. Parking is available in the garage at Covel Commons. The press room phone number is (310) 206-0409 and the fax number is (310) 206-4661.
Live audio broadcasts of each of the open-session meetings will be available via the Internet.
The Thursday, January 17th Committee on Oversight of the DOE Laboratories is one of the open-session meetings that may be of interest to our readers.
COMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT OF THE
DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY LABORATORIES
Time: 11:15 a.m.
Location: Covel Commons, Los Angeles Campus
- Action - Approval of the Minutes of the Meeting of November 15, 2007
- O1 Information - Update on the Department of Energy Laboratories [Vice President Foley]
- O2-R Information - Update on Board of Governors Activities for Los Alamos National Security, LLC (LANS) and Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC (LLNS) [Regent Parsky]
- O3 Action - Appointment of Norman J. Pattiz as Chairman of the Boards of Governors of Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC and Los Alamos National Security, LLC; and Indemnification of Him with Regard to his Service Pursuant to Such Appointment
- O4 Action - Authorization to Approve and Execute Modification to the Department of Energy Contract for the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to Amend Clauses as a Result of Changes to the Federal Acquisition Regulations and the Issuance of Department of Energy Acquisition Letter AL2007
Committee membership: Regents Pattiz, Preuss, Marcus, Varner, Bugay, Schwarzenegger,
Blum, Parsky and Dynes; Advisory members Scorza and Brown