The Stockpile Stewardship Program at Los Alamos National Laboratory
The Stockpile Stewardship Program @ Los Alamos National Laboratory
Hearing of the Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development Committee on Appropriations U.S. Senate
April 16, 2008
Michael R. Anastasio, Director, Los Alamos National Laboratory
The Los Alamos National Laboratory remains committed to sustaining confidence in the United States’ nuclear weapons stockpile through a more fundamental science-based understanding of weapons performance, safety, and security. I am keenly aware of the daunting technical challenges demanded by this mission, requiring the best science, engineering, and technology that we can muster. I am responsible for providing this set of capabilities and skills for today and, equally important, ensuring that they are sustainable over the long term.
Development of the Stockpile Stewardship Program
My first key theme is that the Stockpile Stewardship Program has been the correct program for the United States, even though it presents extreme technical challenges.
In 1995, the United States embarked on an ambitious effort to sustain the nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing, an effort for which we could not guarantee success. [By 1998 our BARC scientists where 400% confident of building NEW weapons just based on 6 tests. These bums, after more than 1000 tests where not confident of being able to certify existing weapons stockpile.]
This decision was a very significant policy shift because the scientific and engineering capabilities needed to confidently execute this program did not then exist. [And we had to go through so many hoops to be recognized as a country with advanced nuclear technology, when way back in 1998 our scientists had mastered simulation and what not with just 6 test. I tell you there is great injustice in this world.]
Congress, the White House, the relevant Executive Branch agencies, and the national laboratories outlined a core set of requirements that would be needed to take on this challenge. All involved understood that it would take at least a decade to bring together all the complicated elements of the new Stockpile Stewardship Program. It was also understood that success was in no way guaranteed because of the unprecedented scale of cutting edge science needed to accomplish this mission. [There he goes again, success no way guaranteed, etc, etc. Shut-up B**ch. Come visit us at BARC and we will show you how it is done.]
The approach relies upon developing, and validating through inter-laboratory peer review, a more fundamental scientific and engineering understanding of the performance, safety, and security of weapon operations. [Man UR never going to make it! U need peer review, for what! We at BARC do not believe in peer-sheer review. All just to prove how scientific you are…Sheesh!]
This fundamental approach is based on a much more extensive range of non-nuclear above-ground testing and a vastly improved simulation capability—calculations with high resolution both in spatial description and in physical models. These calculations are necessary for addressing issues requiring extrapolation beyond tested regimes. The existing nuclear test database is used as a crucial resource for challenging the validity of these improved simulations. Ultimately, expert judgment and rigorous peer review assures that critical conclusions are drawn from the best available data, appropriate high-resolution simulation outputs, and results from the suite of evolving testing capabilities. Sound science is always at the core of our confidence. [Now we are on the same page! But what is this nonsense about nuclear test database? We just have data from 6 tests but see our simulation is so powerful that it is all that is needed]
Tools of Science-based Stockpile Stewardship
With the loss of the ability to test the integrated operation of a weapon, more technically sophisticated and more frequent nonnuclear above-ground tests were essential. We judged at the time that these tests should include at a minimum:
• subcritical experiments to elucidate the dynamic behavior of plutonium driven by high explosives (now proceeding at the U1a facility at the Nevada Test Site);
• advanced radiographic experiments with multiple images and enhanced spatial resolution to provide multiple sequential views of high-explosive implosion dynamics with very fine detail (e.g., Dual Axis Radiographic Hydrotest Facility);
• ignition experiments to explore the fusion process crucial to the operation of modern warheads (e.g., National Ignition Facility); and
• enhanced surveillance tools for destructive and nondestructive testing and analysis to characterize the status of the stockpile.
[A lot of mumbo-jumbo. Trying to get extra funding I guess. Who needs all this!]
At the same time, we judged that our computer simulations would need to be enhanced at least one million times in order to incorporate the known physics and scientific resolution. We judged that this computational requirement was the minimum necessary to model subsystem behavior and predict integrated weapons safety, reliability and performance without underground testing.
[I can’t believe u need such powerful computers. I told you, our 6 data point model is much better than your 1000+ data point model. We were able to use 1998 computing resources for all our new weapons design!]
All of these capabilities were first-of-a-kind, requiring technical advances beyond the existing state of the art at the time. Because of technical challenges and funding limitations, all of these needed capabilities are still not yet fully in place 13 years later. [I don’t belive it! We were done by 1998 and by 2008 you say you still have not overcome all technical challenges. You should come to India and work in BARC to see real progress.]
Friends, it was a real eye opener reading this document, realizing how super super advanced our simulation has reached.