We’ll have more to say about the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) nonproliferation budget soon, but in the meantime, House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee Ranking Member Pete Visclosky’s (D-IN) opening statement at the Subcommittee’s March 6 hearing mirrors our own views.
March 6th, 2012
Subcommittee Ranking Member Rep. Peter Visclosky
As Prepared For Delivery:
“Mr. Administrator, it is good to see you again so soon. Ms. Harrington and Admiral Donald, welcome. We’re all looking forward to your testimony today on these important national security issues. Admiral Donald, this will be your last appearance before the Subcommittee. I wish you all the best in the next chapter in your life and thank you for your service to our nation.
“The threat of nuclear terrorism is one of the gravest national security threats we face today. The bipartisan 9/11 Commission found that, “The greatest danger of another catastrophic attack in the United States will materialize if the world’s most dangerous terrorists acquire the world’s most dangerous weapons.” Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who served under both Presidents Bush and Obama, stated, “Every senior leader, when you’re asked what keeps you awake at night, it’s the thought of a terrorist ending up with a weapon of mass destruction, especially nuclear.”
“In April of 2009, the President committed to an aggressive nonproliferation agenda to secure all vulnerable nuclear materials worldwide in four years, an objective that I whole-heartedly support. The 2013 request professes to support this commitment by proposing $2.5 billion for the Nonproliferation account, an increase of $163 million over the 2012 enacted level. However, this increase is not to the core program. Rather it is due to the inclusion of $150 million for USEC and an increase to the Fissile Materials Disposition program, neither of which contributes to securing vulnerable materials.
“Mr. Administrator, at your appearance before the Subcommittee last week, I applauded the hard choices NNSA made in its budget request regarding nuclear weapons. However, I cannot do the same today. I have yet to be provided with any compelling reason for including the funding for USEC within Nonproliferation. Further, I must point out that the increase in the account for USEC roughly corresponds to the drastic reduction in the Second Line of Defense program. I cannot fathom an explanation that will be satisfactory for these changes given the importance of this mission, but I am here to listen to your justification.
“Admiral, the 2013 budget request for Naval Reactors funding is flat compared to the 2012 enacted level. This represents a significant change – a decrease of $144 million – to the projected needs outlined in your budget last fiscal year. I understand this reduction is enabled by the Navy’s decision to defer the OHIO Replacement by two years. I look forward to your insights regarding the modified program schedule as well as more details on how this initiative has changed since last year.
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman for the time.”