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Oversight hearing on Department of Energy : hearing before the Military Procurement Subcommittee of the Committee on National Security, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourth Congress, second session, hearing held September 19, 1996 online

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[HJ4.S.C. No. 104-53]



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S^ ^/lA'-



^^i)



OVERSIGHT HEARING ON DEPARTMENT
OF ENERGY

-%/53



HEARING

BEFORE THE

MILITARY PROCUREMENT SUBCOMMITTEE

OF THE

COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL SECURITY
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

ONE HUNDRED FOURTH CONGRESS

SECOND SESSION



HEARING HELD
SEPTEMBER 19, 1996




38-105



U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
WASraNGTON : 1997



For sale by the U.S. Government Printing Office
Superintendent of Documents, Congressional Sales Office, Washington, DC 20402
ISBN 0-16-054246-4




[HJJ.S.C. No. 104-53]



\/



I ^^5



Sh: 2,/ia'-



OVERSIGHT HEARING ON DEPARTMENT
OF ENERGY

-%/53



HEARING

BEFORE THE

MILITARY PROCUREMENT SUBCOMMITTEE

OF THE

COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL SECURITY
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

ONE HUNDRED FOURTH CONGRESS

SECOND SESSION



HEARING HELD
SEPTEMBER 19, 1996




38-105



U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
WASfflNGTON : 1997



For sale by the U.S. Government Printing Office
Superintendent of Documents, Congressional Sales Office, Washington, DC 20402
ISBN 0-16-054246-4



MILITARY PROCUREMENT SUBCOMMITTEE



DUNCAN HUNTER, California, Chairman



FLOYD SPENCE, South CaTX)lina

BOB STUMP, Arizona

JIM vSAXTON, New Jersey

STEVE BUYER, Indiana

PETER G. TORKILDSEN, Massachusetts

JAMES TALENT, Missouri

TERRY EVERETT, Alabama

ROSCOE G. BARTLETT, Maryland

HOWARD "BUCK" McKEON, California

RON LEWIS, Kentucky

J.C. WATTS, Jr., Oklahoma

MAC THORNBERRY, Texas

SAXBY CHAMBLISS, Georgia

JAMES B. LONGLEY, JR., Maine

Steve Thompson, Professional Staff Member

Christopher Williams, Professional Staff Member

Steve ANSLEY, Professional Staff Member

Karen Steube, Staff Assistant



IKE SKELTON, Missouri
RONALD V. DELLUMS, California
NORMAN SISISKY, Viiiginia
LANE EVANS, Illinois
JOHN TANNER, Tennessee
GENE TAYLOR, Mississippi
NEIL ABERCROMBIE, Hawaii
CHET EDWARDS, Texas
PETE GEREN, Texas
PETE PETERSON, Florida
WILLIAM J. JEFFERSON, Louisiana
ROSA L. DeLAURO, Connecticut



(II)



CONTENTS



STATEMENTS PRESENTED BY MEMBERS OF CONGRESS

Page
Dellums, Hon. Ronald V., a Representative from California, Ranking Minority

Member, Conmiittee on National Security 9

Hunter, Hon. Duncan, a Representative from California, Chairman, Military
Procurement Subcommittee:

Statement 1

Prepared statement 4

Skelton, Hon. Eke, a Representative from Missouri, Ranking Minority Mem-
ber, MUitary F*rocurement Subcommittee 9

Thomberry, Hon. William, a Representative from Texas, Military Procure-
ment Subcommittee:

Statement 36

Prepared statement 37

PRINCIPAL WITNESSES WHO APPEARED IN PERSON OR SUBMITTED
WRITTEN STATEMENTS

Curtis, Charles B., Deputy Secretary of Energy:

Statement 10

Prepared statement 15

Joersz, Maj. Gen. Al, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Military Appli-
cation 10

Johnson, Harold J., Associate Director, International Relations and Trade
Issues, National Security and International Affairs Division: fVepared
statement 65

Reis, Dr. Vic, Assistant Secretary of Energy for Defense Programs 10

Steinhardt, Bemice, Associate Director, Energy, Resources, and Science Is-
sues, Resources, Community, and Economic Development Division: Pre-
pared statement 74

DOCUMENTS SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD

Appendix I 81

Appendix II 83

Appendix III 87

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD
Additional questions and answers submitted for the record 88

an)



OVERSIGHT HEARING ON DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY



House of Representatives,
Committee on National Security,
Military Procurement Subcommittee,
Washington, DC, Thursday, September 19, 1996.
The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:05 a.m., in room
2118, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Duncan Hunter (chair-
man of the subcommittee) presiding.

OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. DUNCAN HUNTER, REP-
RESENTATIVE FROM CALIFORNIA, CHAIRMAN, MILITARY
PROCUREMENT SUBCOMMITTEE

Mr. Hunter. The subcommittee will come to order. The Military
Procurement Subcommittee meets today to continue its oversight of
Department of Energy plans, programs, and policies, and the Na-
tional Security Committee has budgetary jurisdiction for well over
half the Department of Energy [DOE] budget. Continued aggres-
sive oversight of DOE is needed in light of the obvious stakes in-
volved and because of concerns that DOE is failing to fulfill its obli-
gations as steward of the Nation's nuclear stockpile and complex.

We invited Secretary O'Leary to be with us today, but she is not
available and has directed her deputy, Mr. Charles Curtis, to be
with us, and he is here, and I see. Dr. Curtis, you are also joined
by our old friend Dr. Vic Reis and by Major General Joersz, who
is the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Military Applica-
tion. Dr. Reis, of course, is Assistant Secretary of Energy for De-
fense Programs.

The question before us today is simply this: is the Department
fulfilling its commitment to the President and the American people
to ensure that America's nuclear stockpile is safe, secure, and reli-
able in the coming decades? Based on the evidence that we have
to date, I believe that most impartial observers would be forced to
conclude that the answer is no, the Department has abdicated its
leadership role in this vital area. This is not a direct criticism of
you, Mr. Curtis or Dr. Reis, because I know you are both struggling
mightily to focus attention on these matters within the Depart-
ment.

In fact, without your perseverance and managerial expertise, I
suspect the situation would be much worse than it is now. Instead,
I level this criticism at the Clinton administration as a whole
which in my estimation has given our weapons scientists, engi-
neers, and skilled laborers what I consider to be a "mission impos-
sible," maintaining a safe and reliable nuclear stockpile in the ab-
sence of nuclear testing.

(1)



The mismatch between the administration's rhetoric and its ac-
tual deeds has been, in my estimation, profound and growing. On
the one hand, administration officials have testified that a modem,
capable nuclear complex, staffed by motivated, skilled scientists,
engineers, and laborers, is imperative if we are to retain safe, se-
cure, and reliable nuclear weapons. On the other hand, the admin-
istration has failed to take actions to sustain — much less modern-
ize — the complex and has ushered in a period of low morale amid
a potentially devastating outflow of skilled personnel at the labora-
tories and the production plants, let me cite some examples.

First, the Clinton administration rejected the sound advice of ex-
perts including experts from the weapons laboratories and the De-
partment of Defense who argued in favor of the only tried-and-true
approach to assuring nuclear competence — that is nuclear testing —
in exchange for the prospect of an international agreement banning
all nuclear tests. Yet, the arguments against the recently concluded
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty are appearing to be more over-
whelmingly convincing everyday. For example, the accord is not ef-
fectively verifiable, and it will do nothing to prevent nonsignatory
nuclear wannabes from achieving a nuclear capability. It might
well foster proliferation by undermining the confidence of our
friends and allies in the credibility of the U.S. nuclear deterrent.

Think about this for a minute. North Korea achieved a nuclear
capability without conducting a test, and Iraq never tested but was
within months of producing a nuclear bomb. A Comprehensive Test
Ban Treaty [CTBT] will, however, prohibit the United States from
undertaking a limited test program even if such tests are intended
to fix the safety problem on a given weapon design.

Second, with the President's decision to embrace a CTBT, the De-
partment was forced to embark on a costly new program known as
Science-Based Stockpile Stewardship and Management. Under this
program, DOE plans to develop new machines and processes that
can substitute for nuclear testing and thereby provide surrogate as-
surance that our nuclear weapons are safe and will work as adver-
tised.

While I support an effort to modernize the production infrastruc-
ture and improved diagnostic capabilities at the labs, we must rec-
ognize that few of these machines and processes exist today. Many
will not be available for another decade or longer. I liken this ap-
proach to a cosmic role of the dice with the linchpin of U.S. na-
tional security, our nuclear forces, hanging in the balance.

Third, and perhaps most disappointing, is the fact that the Clin-
ton administration has failed to support its own stewardship and
management program. It is difficult to find evidence of the admin-
istration's commitment to implement the program, and it is easy to
find evidence of erosion of that commitment under pressure from
the antinuclear community, and I give these examples.

The administration committed to a 6-month underground test
readiness posture but never followed through on it. It was origi-
nally committed to conducting low-yield hydronuclear experiments,
then folded. It then committed to conducting subcritical experi-
ments at the Nevada test site, but has now delayed these tests
twice in 3 months. It woefully underfunded the Defense programs
account in its budget request for fiscal years 1996-97 and has



failed to resolve a projected shortfall of $4.5 billion for fiscal years
1997 to 2002 that will preclude DOE from meeting its pro-
grammatic commitments.

The administration promised to resume nuclear testing if an-
other nation tested. But after China, France, and Russia tested, it
did nothing. It repeatedly delayed a final decision on the future
size and character of the complex knowing full well that continued
uncertainty over mission assignments would exacerbate tensions
between the laboratories and the plants when, in fact, both are
needed to ensure a viable complex. It has not budgeted funds to re-
capitalize the infrastructure at the nuclear production plants and
has diverted funds added by Congress for this purpose to other pro-
grams and activities.

It has not provided a definitive plan for how the United States
will produce tritium, nor has it allocated sufficient resources to
carry out an accelerated program. It has done little or nothing to
halt the hemorrhaging of skilled personnel from the U.S. nuclear
establishment. Congress established fellowship programs to ad-
dress this problem, but the Department has refused to obligate the
funds.

It has not conducted all the tests it believes are necessary to en-
sure the reliability of the stockpile, with tests for some types of
weapons far behind schedule, as noted in a recent critical report is-
sued by General Accounting Office [GAO], and it failed to respond
to the committee's request for a list of permitted and prohibited ac-
tivities under a comprehensive test ban treaty. As a result, we
don't know whether the funds we have authorized can be spent
without violating the treaty or whether other nations that are
party to the treaty share our interpretation of what is allowable
under the treaty.

Given this record, I expect the members of this committee will
wish to carefully consider in the context of next year's debate on
the budget resolution and the Defense Authorization Act whether
DOE is fulfilling its responsibilities and whether some other entity,
be it an independent agency or the Department of Defense, would
better perform this mission. So having laid out those challenges,
Mr. Curtis and Dr. Reis and General Joersz, we look forward to
your testimony, but let me first yield to my good colleague, the
ranking member, the gentleman from Missouri, Mr. Skelton, for
any remarks he might want to make.

[The prepared statement of Mr. Hunter follows:]



STATEMENT OF CHAIRMAN DUNCAN HUNTER

MILITARY PROCUREMENT SUBCOMMITTEE

OVERSIGHT HEARING ON THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY

SEPTEMBER 19, 1996



The Military Procurement Subcommittee meets today to continue its
oversight of Department of Energy (DOE) plans, programs, and policies.
The House National Security Committee has budgetary jurisdiction for well
over half of DOE budget. Continued, aggressive oversight of DOE is
needed in light of the obvious stakes involved and because of concerns that
DOE is failing to fulfill its obligations as steward of the Nation's nuclear
stockpile and complex.

My colleagues should be aware that the Subcommittee extended the
invitation to testify today to Energy Secretary Hazel O'Leary, but the
Secretary declined and directed her deputy, Mr. Charles Curtis who is
before us today, to come instead. I understand that the Secretary has
legitimate commitments that require her presence overseas. Nonetheless, I
fear that the Secretary's inability to make herself available to discuss
matters related to nuclear weapons stewardship and the nuclear weapons
complex is emblematic of a much broader problem.

The question before us today is, Is the Department fulfilling its
commitment to the President and to the American people to ensure that
America's nuclear stockpile is safe, secure and reliable in the coming
decades?

Based on the evidence to date, I believe any impartial observer would
be forced to conclude that the answer is "No", the Department has abdicated
its leadership role in this vital area. This is not a direct criticism of you, Mr.
Curtis, because I know you are struggling mightily to focus attention on
these matters within the Department. In fact, without your perseverance and
managerial expertise, I suspect the situation would be much worse than it is
now.



Instead, I level this criticism at the Clinton Administration as a whole,
which has given our weapons scientists and engineers and skilled laborers
what 1 consider to be a "Mission Impossible": maintaining a safe and
reliable nuclear stockpile in the absence of nuclear testing.

The mismatch between the Administration's rhetoric and its actual
deeds is profound and growing. One the one hand. Administration officials
have testified that a modem, capable nuclear complex, staffed by motivated,
skilled scientists, engineers, and laborers, is imperative if we are to retain
safe, secure, and reliable nuclear weapons. On the other hand, the
Administration has failed to take actions to sustain — much less
modernize — the complex, and has ushered in a period of low morale amid a
potentially devastating out-flow of skilled personnel at the laboratories and
the production plants.

Let me cite some examples:

First, the Clinton Administration rejected the sound advice of experts,
including experts from the weapons laboratories and the Department of
Defense who argued in favor of the only tried-and-true approach to assuring
nuclear competence— nuclear testing— in exchange for the prospect of an
international agreement banning all nuclear tests. Yet, the arguments
against the recently-concluded Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty are
overwhelmingly convincing. For example, the accord is not effectively
verifiable, and it will do nothing to prevent non-signatory nuclear wanna-
be's from achieving a nuclear capability.

Think about it: North Korea achieved a nuclear capability without
conducting a test, and Iraq never tested but was within months of producing
a nuclear bomb. A CTBT will, however, prohibit the U.S. from undertaking
a limited nuclear test program, even if such tests are intended to fix a safety
problem on a given weapon design.



Second, with the President's decision to embrace a CTBT, the
Department was forced to embark on a costly, new program known as
"Science-Based Stockpile Stewardship and Management.'" Under this
program, DOE plans to develop expensive, new facilities and rely
extensively on modeling processes as a surrogate for nuclear testing in order
to provide assurance that our nuclear weapons are safe and will perform as
advertised. While I support an effort to modernize the production
infrastructure and improve diagnostic capabilities at the labs, we must
recognize that few of these machines and processes exist today; many will
not be available for another decade or longer.

I liken this approach to a "cosmic roll of the dice"-with the linchpin
of U.S. national security, the maintenance of a safe and reliable U.S. nuclear
deterrence, hanging in the balance.

Third, and perhaps most disappointing, is the fact that the Clinton
Administration has failed to support for its own Stewardship and
Management program. It is difficult to find evidence of the
Administration's commitment to implement the program, and it's easy to
find evidence of erosion of that commitment under pressure from the anti-
nuclear community. For example:

♦ It committed to a six-month underground nuclear "test readiness"
posture but never followed through on it.

♦ It was originally committed to conducting low-yield,
"hydronuclear" experiments, then folded.

♦ It then committed to conducting "subcritical experiments" at the
Nevada Test Site but has now delayed those tests twice in three
months.

♦ It woefully under-funded the "Defense Programs" account in its
budget requests for fiscal years 1996 and 1997, and has failed to
resolve a projected shortfall of $4.5 billion from fiscal years 1997-
2002 that will preclude DOE from meeting its programmatic
commitments.



♦ It promised to resume nuclear testing if another nation tested, but
after China, France, and Russia tested, it did nothing.

♦ It repeatedly delayed a final decision on the future size and
character of the complex, knowing full well that continued
uncertainty over mission-assignments would exacerbate tensions
between the laboratories and the plants, when in fact both are
needed to ensure a viable complex.

♦ It has not budgeted funds to recapitalize the infrastructure at the
nuclear production plants, and has diverted funds added by
Congress for this purpose to other programs and activities.

♦ It has not provided a definitive plan for how the U.S. will produce
tritium, nor has it allocated sufficient resources to carry out an
accelerated program.

♦ It has done little or nothing to halt the hemorrhaging of skilled
personnel from the U.S. nuclear establishment. Congress
established fellowship programs to address this problem but the
Department has refused to obligate the funds.

♦ It has not conducted all the tests it believes are necessary to ensure
the reliability of the stockpile, with tests for some types of weapons
far behind schedule, as noted in a recent, critical report issued by
the General Accounting Office.



and



It failed to respond to the Committee's request for a list of
permitted and prohibited activities under a Comprehensive Test
Ban Treaty. As a result we don't know whether the funds we have
authorized can be spent without violating the Treaty, or whether
other nations that are party to the Treaty share our interpretation of
what is allowable under the Treaty.



I find this an astonishingly dismal record of performance — one which
calls into question this Administration's stated commitment to assuring the
safety and security of our nuclear weapons.

Given this record, I expect the Members of this Committee will wish
to carefully consider, in the context of next year's debate on the budget
resolution and the Defense authorization act, whether DOE is fulfilling its
responsibilities and whether some other entity — be it an independent agency
or the Department of Defense — would better perform this mission.

With us this morning to discuss these important matters are:

Mr. Charles B. Curtis
Deputy Secretary of Energy

Dr. Vic Reis

Assistant Secretary of Energy

(Defense Programs)



and



Major General Al Joersz

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary

for Military Application



STATEMENT OF HON. IKE SKELTON, A REPRESENTATIVE
FROM MISSOURI, RANKING MINORITY MEMBER, MILITARY
PROCUREMENT SUBCOMMITTEE

Mr. Skelton. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I join you, Mr. Chair-
man, in welcoming our witness. Deputy Energy Secretary Charles
Curtis. I look forward to hearing from him regarding the important
issues facing the Department as it meets the challenges of assuring
the reliability of our nuclear weapons during an era of nonweapons
testing. A question has been raised about surveillance of the stock-
pile, whether the science-based approach to stewardship is suffi-
cient, whether we will have tritium on time, and whether we are
ensuring a sufficient production capability, among other things,
and I think this is the proper method of oversight to do surveil-
lance of these three issues.

Others, Mr. Chairman, have expressed concerns regarding the
relationship between our Nation's arms control and its stewardship
strategies. I hope that answers to these and other questions will be
provided during this testimony, and I welcome Mr. Curtis, General
Joersz, and Dr. Reis and thank you.

Mr. Hunter. I thank the gentleman, and we are privileged to
have the ranking member of the full committee with us today. He
has attended many of what we have called or classified as our mar-
athon sessions, especially on DOE, but does my friend from Califor-
nia, Mr. Dellums, wish to make any statement?

STATEMENT OF HON. RONALD V. DELLUMS, A REPRESENTA-
TIVE FROM CALIFORNIA, RANKING MINORITY MEMBER,
COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL SECURITY

Mr. Dellums. Just very briefly, Mr. Chairman, and I hope you
accept this in the manner that I choose to convey it. It seems to
me there are two ways to engage in oversight responsibility, which
is clearly ours. And that is to have policy-oriented concerns, issue-
oriented concerns, and lay those concerns out and say to the ad-
ministration legitimately here are concerns. These are legitimate
issues that we lay on the table, and within the framework of our
oversight responsibility, we ask you to respond; let us engage each
other on these substantive issues. That is one way to do it. And I
would like to think on my worst day that is the way I try to do
it. I started out as a chairman of a subcommittee during the
Reagan era, an administration with which I had great policy dif-
ferences, but on my worst day I never charged them sitting in the
chair. What I said was here are issues; let us talk. Gave them
ample opportunity to lay their case on the table in an atmosphere
of openness and fairness and mutual exchange.

I listened very carefully to your opening remarks, and over and
over again rather than simply laying out substantive, complex, sig-
nificant issues, it was this administration which did this, and you
came, if you read your remarks again, you came to some flatout
conclusions that I think frame these hearings in a manner that I
have some trouble with. I simply lay that on the table for you. My
hope would be that we would approach these hearings in the
former as opposed to the latter because I think at the point where
you made flatout, bottom line, it makes for a simple media report-
ing, but it does not address the reality of the charge and respon-



10

sibility that we have here, and I am a little chagrined at how we
choose to go down that road, particularly in this obvious political
atmosphere. I would like to think that when we come inside this
room and close the door, it is not about politics, it is about policy
and about ideas and what is in the best interest of our people, and
I think that we should put these political accusations down and
enter into that kind of open discussion. I lay that on the table be-
cause I think that ought to be part of the record. Thank you for
your generosity. I yield back my time.

Mr. Hunter, I thank my friend, and I will just answer to my
friend that these conclusions starting with the administration com-
mitting to underground nuclear test readiness but not following
through, going to hydronuclear experiments, then not following
through, are simply the world and the record as I see it, and I
think we have 11 concerns there that we have laid out in that lit-
any that I have just described, and I know that our witnesses will
amplify on the issues and have a chance to address those.

We do appreciate our witnesses being with us this good morning,
and it is in the best spirit of give and take that we welcome you,
and I thank the gentleman for his statement. We also are privi-
leged to have the chairman of the full committee, Mr. Spence, with
us, and, Mr. Spence, do you have any statement you would like to
make?

The Chairman. No, I just want to welcome our witnesses this
morning. Thank you for being here.

Mr. Hunter. OK. Thank you. Gentlemen, thank you for being


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Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. House. Committee on NatioOversight hearing on Department of Energy : hearing before the Military Procurement Subcommittee of the Committee on National Security, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourth Congress, second session, hearing held September 19, 1996 → online text (page 1 of 11)