Washington , DC - The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today announced the results of a competition between the nation’s two nuclear weapons design laboratories for the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW). NNSA officials praised the work of both labs. The design selected for further evaluation and development was produced by the Lawrence Livermore National Lab.
Strategic Forces Subcommittee Chairman Ellen Tauscher (CA) and Ranking Member Terry Everett (AL) released the following statement:
"We were briefed on the decision yesterday by Acting Administrator Tom D’Agostino and STRATCOM Commander General James Cartwright. There is much to be evaluated about this announcement, but we are encouraged that in making this decision, NNSA and the Nuclear Weapons Council appear to have followed Congress’ clear direction to seek a design that would, among other considerations, minimize the likelihood that the warhead will ever have to be tested.
“Neither the mission, yield, nor delivery platform has, or will change. Instead we will replace or upgrade components that increase the safety, security, reliability, and certifiability of an existing weapon, with a commitment not to test.
“Today’s announcement is only an early step in what will be a long evaluation process. We will further examine the proposed path forward on RRW, through hearings that start next week with an appearance by General Cartwright before our subcommittee.
“We will judge today’s decision and the RRW program overall by a simple test: how effectively does it move us toward the objectives Congress has laid out, and toward a sound U.S. nuclear weapons policy?"
The RRW program was codified by the National Defense Authorization Act of FY 2006, wherein Congress established several objectives for the program. Foremost among these was to increase the reliability, safety, and security of our nuclear weapons stockpile and "further reduce the likelihood of the resumption of underground nuclear weapons testing." Congress has also been clear that the RRW program is not about developing new military capabilities or increasing the size of the nuclear weapons stockpile. On the contrary, Congress has specified that the RRW program should be narrowly tailored to simply replace components of existing weapons, and must help achieve reductions in the size of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile.