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STATEMENT OF ROBERT C. DUNCAN, DIRECTOR, DEFENSE RESEARCH
AND ENGINEERING; AND CHAIRMAN, NUCLEAR WEAPONS COUNCIL Senator JOHNSTON, Dr. Duncan.
Dr. DUNCAN. Good morning. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee.
Let me express my appreciation also for being invited to appear as a witness in support of this very important national security project that we are talking about. I intend to provide very brief remarks on several aspects related to the Department of Defense's position on the NPR capacity.
I endorse the Department of Energy's process for developing their acquisition strategy for the new production reactor capacity. We respect the Department of Energy's prerogative to formulate such recommendations and, ultimately, to reach a decision on this critical project. The Department of Energy has provided us with briefings and appropriate reports on those aspects of the NPR related to technologies and sites.
These reports, as they are completed, were made available to the Nuclear Weapons Council, which I chair, and to other offices within the DOD. We have participated in the process in part by providing Nuclear Weapons Council comments and recommendations on those aspects related to the nuclear weapons stockpile and other Defenserelated matters as the Secretary of Energy moves toward his decision on the NPR
The DOD has established a requirement that this country must have a safe and assured source of tritium for the foreseeable future. For the past 40 years, nuclear weapons have been a primary element in this nation's strategy of deterrence. Although the capability of conventional weapons continues to be improved, nuclear weapons for the foreseeable future remain essential to our national well-being.
The Defense Department continues to work with the Department of Energy to identify and maintain the stockpile quantities consistent with our planned national strategies and needs. The continuing effectiveness of the nation's nuclear stockpile is dependent on the Department of Energy's capability to produce tritium. The short half-life of this critical element dictates the need for a continuous and reliable supply.
We are aware that the DOE has under review an array of alternative combinations of reactor technologies and sites. Were it DOD's judgment that they are required to construct more than one reactor to ensure reliability in tritium production, the Defense Department is prepared to seriously consider that strategy.
Throughout this process, DOD has endorsed the principle that the costs of tritium production capability should be minimized consistent with safety and reliability of supply. The importance of moving expeditiously toward establishing a new production capability must not be overlooked.
Because of the many uncertainties and complexities involved, this nation has postponed those vital steps now being taken by DOE to replace our aging and reduced-capacity production reactors. We need to complete thorough but timely planning, programming, and budgeting activities for the new production reactor as a matter of high national priority.
In closing, let me state that DOD is fully supportive of this important DOE endeavor and is appreciative of the continuing support and bipartisan cooperative leadership of the Congress in moving to restore an assured supply of the materials crucial to the national security of this nation.
STATEMENT OF ROBERT C. DUNCAN
MR. CHAIRMAN, MEMBERS OF THE COMMITTEE, LET ME EXPRESS MY
APPRECIATION FOR BEING ASKED TO APPEAR AS A WITNESS IN SUPPORT
OF THIS MOST IMPORTANT NATIONAL SECURITY PROJECT. I INTEND TO
PROVIDE BRIEF REMARKS ON SEVERAL ASPECTS RELATED TO THE
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE (DOD) POSITION ON NEW PRODUCTION REACTOR
I ENDORSE THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY'S PROCESS FOR
DEVELOPING AN ACQUISITION STRATEGY FOR THE NEW PRODUCTION
REACTOR CAPACITY. I RESPECT THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY'S (DOE)
PREROGATIVE TO FORMULATE SUCH RECOMMENDATIONS AND, ULTIMATELY,
TO REACH A DECISION ON THIS CRITICAL PROJECT. I APPRECIATE THE
OPPORTUNITY THE PROCESS PROVIDES FOR INTERAGENCY REVIEW. THE
DOE HAS PROVIDED US WITH BRIEFINGS AND APPROPRIATE REPORTS ON
THOSE ASPECTS OF THE NPR RELATED TO TECHNOLOGIES AND SITES.
THESE REPORTS, AS THEY ARE COMPLETED, WERE MADE AVAILABLE TO
THE NUCLEAR WEAPONS COUNCIL AND TO OFFICES WITHIN THE DOD. WE
HAVE PARTICIPATED IN THE PROCESS IN PART BY PROVIDING NUCLEAR
WEAPON COUNCIL COMMENTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS ON THOSE ASPECTS
RELATED TO THE NUCLEAR WEAPONS STOCKPILE AND OTHER DEFENSE
RELATED MATTERS AS THE SECRETARY OF ENERGY MOVES TOWARD HIS
DECISIONS ON THE NPR.
THE DOD HAS ESTABLISHED THE REQUIREMENT THAT THIS COUNTRY
MUST HAVE A SAFE AND ASSURED SOURCE OF TRITIUM FOR THE
FORESEEABLE FUTURE. FOR THE PAST 40 YEARS, NUCLEAR WEAPONS
HAVE BEEN A PRIMARY ELEMENT IN THIS NATION'S STRATEGY OF
DETERRENCE. ALTHOUGH THE CAPABILITY OF CONVENTIONAL WEAPONS,
CONTINUES TO BE IMPROVED, NUCLEAR WEAPONS REMAIN ESSENTIAL
for the foreseeable future TO OUR NATIONAL WELL-BEING. THE DEFENSE DEPARTMENT CONTINUES
TO WORK WITH DOE TO IDENTIFY AND MAINTAIN THE STOCKPILE
QUANTITIES CONSISTENT WITH OUR PLANNED NATIONAL STRATEGIES AND
NEEDS. THE CONTINUING EFFECTIVENESS OF THE NATION'S NUCLEAR
STOCKPILE IS DEPENDENT UPON DOE'S CAPABILITY TO PRODUCE
TRITIUM. THE SHORT HALF-LIFE OF THIS CRITICAL ELEMENT DICTATES
THE NEED FOR A CONTINUOUS AND RELIABLE SUPPLY.
WE ARE AWARE THAT THE DOE HAS UNDER REVIEW AN ARRAY OF
ALTERNATIVE COMBINATIONS OF REACTOR TECHNOLOGIES AND SITES.
WERE IT - DOE'S JUDGMENT THAT THEY ARE REQUIRED TO CONSTRUCT MORE
THAN ONE REACTOR TO ENSURE RELIABILITY IN TRITIUM PRODUCTION,
THE DEFENSE DEPARTMENT IS PREPARED TO SERIOUSLY CONSIDER THAT
THROUGHOUT THIS PROCESS, DOD HAS ENDORSED THE PRINCIPLE
THAT THE COSTS OF TRITIUM PRODUCTION CAPABILITY SHOULD BE
MINIMIZED CONSISTENT WITH SAFETY AND RELIABILITY OF SUPPLY.
THE IMPORTANCE OF MOVING EXPEDITIOUSLY TOWARD ESTABLISHING A
NEW PRODUCTION CAPABILITY MUST NOT BE OVERLOOKED. BECAUSE OF
THE MANY UNCERTAINTIES AND COMPLEXITIES INVOLVED, THIS NATION
HAS POSTPONED THOSE VITAL STEPS NOW BEING TAKEN BY DOE TO
REPLACE OUR AGING AND REDUCED-CAPACITY PRODUCTION REACTORS. WE
NEED TO COMPLETE THOROUGH, BUT TIMELY, PLANNING, PROGRAMMING
AND BUDGETING ACTIVITIES FOR THE NPR AS A MATTER OF HIGH
IN CLOSING, LET ME STATE THAT THE DOD IS FULLY SUPPORTIVE
OF THIS IMPORTANT DOE ENDEAVOR AND IS APPRECIATIVE OF THE
CONTINUING SUPPORT AND BIPARTISAN COOPERATIVE LEADERSHIP OF THE
CONGRESS IN MOVING TO RESTORE AN ASSURED SUPPLY OF THE
MATERIALS CRUCIAL TO THE NATIONAL SECURITY OF THIS NATION.