December 01, 2010

Chairman Kerry: National Lab Directors “Very Pleased,” And Now The Senate Needs To Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator John Kerry (D-MA), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said today that the heads of the nation’s three primary nuclear weapons laboratories have declared their support for President Obama’s updated, 10-year plan to maintain U.S. nuclear weapons. Senator Kerry welcomed the support and said the verdict from the nation’s top nuclear weapons experts should help the Senate move forward in ratifying New START, the arms control agreement with Russia.

“This letter is the non-partisan gold standard when it comes to expertise on the effectiveness of our nuclear stockpile,” said Senator Kerry. “The directors’ strong support is a crystal clear affirmation that we are doing precisely what is needed to maintain a nuclear deterrent that is second-to-none. The administration is making good on every promise that President Obama has made on this critical issue.

“As our debate goes forward in the Senate, there should be no doubt: The administration’s $85 billion plan responds to virtually every nuclear weapons concern raised by my colleagues in the context of New START,” Senator Kerry added. “Now it’s time for the Senate to demonstrate that, even in today’s hyper-partisan atmosphere, there’s still enough common ground in national security policy to bring a good treaty into force. The Senate must approve New START before we go home. The finest minds in American foreign policy and national security of both political parties have made clear their conviction that this treaty is in our national interest. There are no legitimate excuses for delay and this is far too important to succumb to raw politics. We owe our country no less than to act now.”

In their joint letter to Senator Kerry and Senator Dick Lugar, the ranking Republican on the Committee, the directors of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories said today that the administration’s plan will sustain the “science, technology and engineering base” required to maintain the nation’s nuclear stockpile.

The directors said they are “very pleased by the update to the Section 1251 Report, as it would enable the laboratories to execute our requirements for ensuring a safe, secure, reliable and effective stockpile.”  The update was submitted by the President on November 17, 2010.

“We believe that the proposed budgets provide adequate support to sustain the safety, security, reliability and effectiveness of America’s nuclear deterrent within the limit of 1550 deployed strategic warheads established by the New START Treaty with adequate confidence and acceptable risk,” the directors wrote.

Attached please find the letters sent by Senators Kerry and Lugar to the lab directors and their joint response to the senators.

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