Monday, July 23, 2007

Sen. Dorgan on Funding for Complex 2030 and RRW

Below is a constituent response letter from Sen. Byron Dorgan, chairman of the key Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee, regarding funding for Complex 2030 and the Reliable Replacement Warhead program.

In the letter, Dorgan expresses skepticism that RRW will receive funding next year when a decision is expected to be made about whether to authorize activities beyond the 2A research phase. This contrasts sharply with recent statements made by Thomas D'Agostino, deputy administrator for Defense Programs within the National Nuclear Security Administration.

According to Defense Daily (subscription required), D'Agostino said last week that (despite recent cuts in the Senate and being zeroed out in the House) he is still confident that RRW will receive funding from Congress in FY '08 once key lawmakers who have been critical of the project have a better understanding of its importance via classified briefings that he is hosting.

Optimistic or just plain naïve?

July 3, 2007

Dear [Constituent],

Thank you for contacting me about the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) program as well as Complex 2030. We have just completed writing the Appropriation Subcommittee bill that contains these issues, and as chairman of the committee, I have zeroed out funding for Complex 2030. I do not support funding for that proposal.

In addition, I decreased by 20 percent the President's request for the RRW program. My intent is to allow them to continue research through what is called, "Phase 2A," following which there must be an authorization of that program. I believe that next year there will be no funding for that program unless it is authorized, and frankly I have grave doubts about whether it should be authorized. I believe it causes very serious questions about our commitment to nonproliferation if we are in the business of building new nuclear weapons through the RRW program.

This country needs to have a national discussion, and to make a decision, about what will be the role of nuclear weapons in our future. How many nuclear weapons do we need? How much of a reduction of nuclear weapons can be made? What kind of nuclear weapons should exist, and how will we meet our commitment under the nuclear nonproliferation treaty to reach zero nuclear weapons at some point in the future?

The United States is the nuclear superpower that has a responsibility to provide leadership in nonproliferation issues. We must stop the spread of nuclear weapons and prevent terrorists form acquiring them. That is why this debate about the RRW program is so critical. We need to take seriously our responsibility to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists. We also need to be sending the message to the world that we are serious about reducing the number of nuclear weapons. Thank you for sending me your thoughts. I hope this information is helpful.


Byron L. Dorgan
U.S. Senator

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