Friday, February 27, 2009

DOE and DOE Budget "Toplines" Released

It's been a busy fifth week for the Obama administration, as President Obama yesterday released his FY2010 budget "toplines," or overall departmental funding levels, and today presented his plan to remove all U.S. combat troops from Iraq by 2010.

Budget numbers for specific programs within DOE and DOD (such as specific budgets for the National Nuclear Security Administration or the Missile Defense Agency) were not released, consistent with the administration's plan to pursue an "exhaustive line-by-line" budgetary review, but the numbers do give us some important information.

Some NoH highlights:

  • Now available on the Office of Management and Budget website is the summary for the FY2010 DOE budget. A victory for arms control advocates, funding for the so-called Reliable Replacement Warhead program will again be zeroed out in the FY2010 budget. (However, the summary also states that "continued work to improve the nuclear stockpile’s safety, security, and reliability [will be] enhanced with more expansive life extension programs," and it is unclear exactly what this will mean.)
  • Also according to the summary, the budget will provide "significant increases in funding for…[the] development of clean energy" and "increased efforts to secure and dispose of nuclear material and invests in innovative science and technology to detect and deter nuclear smuggling and the development of weapons of mass destruction programs." Given that DOE's budget will be flat, some project that this could mean a decrease of funding for NNSA.
  • A highlight as well for missile defense: According to leaked reports, the White House has asked the Pentagon to cut about $2 billion from its missile defense budget for FY2010, which would leave the expected budget for the costly and ineffective system at approximately $8 billion.
Travis Sharp, military policy analyst at the Center, put together a fantastic series of analyses on the DOD numbers, including a recap of the FY09 budget and a summary of the FY2010 toplines.

The rest remains to be seen in the details when the full budget is released in April.

Monday, February 23, 2009

National Security Legislative Wrap-up

This week, Congress returns from Presidents Day recess. President Obama delivers an address to Congress Tuesday evening, February 24, an almost "State of the Union" address. On Thursday, February 26, the Administration releases an outline of the Fiscal Year 2010 budget, but the detailed program will not follow until April. The House is scheduled to consider in one omnibus package the nine remaining Fiscal Year 2009 appropriations bills, including the Department of Energy and foreign assistance.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

National Security Legislative Wrap-up

Congress is now in recess for the Presidents Day holiday. Before leaving town, it completed action on the President’s $787 billion economic stimulus package. In conference action, it eliminated $1 billion that was to go to the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). In the next few weeks, Congress may deal with the uncompleted Fiscal Year 2009 appropriations measures through an Omnibus appropriations bill (a collection of appropriations bills). This Omnibus bill would include the Department of Energy budget, which contains money for nuclear weapons and is currently being funded at the Fiscal Year 2008 level through a continuing resolution or ‘CR’ that expires on March 6. Congress could also take up a supplemental appropriations bill to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition, by the end of February, the White House is expected to deliver to Congress the broad outlines of its Fiscal Year 2010 budget request, although the detailed bu! dget is not expected until April.



On February 13, Congress approved the President’s $787 billion economic stimulus bill. The House-Senate conferees working out differences between the House and Senate bills knocked out $1 billion that the Senate had added for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), primarily for infrastructure projects. Arms control groups opposed the funding because of a lack of clarity on how the funds would be used and a fear that the money could be used to advance new nuclear weapons.


On June 17, 2008, the House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee marked up or wrote its annual bill that included $33.3 billion for Fiscal Year 2009. It cut all funds for the Reliable Replacement Warhead and prohibited any spending for the project. It increased nuclear non-proliferation funding by $283 million. The Subcommittee also cut the $302 million requested for the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership to $120 million and restricted the use of the remaining funds; recommended no funding (a cut of $145 million) for the manufacture of new nuclear weapons pits (which are the core of the weapons); and recommended no funds (a cut of $100 million) for the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Facility Replacement. It increased funding for the Global Threat Reduction Initiative from $220 million to $407 million; Non-Proliferation and International Security from $140 million to $185 million; and International (nuclear) Materials Protection and Cooperation from $430 million to ! $609 million. On June 25, the full House Appropriations Committee approved the bill as reported by the Subcommittee.

The Senate Energy and Water Subcommittee completed its mark-up on July 8, 2008 and the full Committee on July 10. The Committee cut the entire $10 million request for the Reliable Replacement Warhead but approved $145 million for plutonium pit manufacturing.

A House-Senate compromise version will be included in the Fiscal Year 2009 Omnibus Appropriations bill.


On July 16, 2008, the House State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee approved the Fiscal Year 2009 State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs appropriations bill. On July 17, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its version of the bill. Both bills provide $36.6 billion in funding and represent the largest component of the Fiscal Year 2009 International Affairs Budget. When combined with the proposed $1.3 billion in funding for the International Food Aid Programs (Agriculture Appropriations) and $300 million for the Global AIDS Fund (HHS-Labor Appropriations), total spending for the Fiscal Year 2009 International Affairs Budget will be $38.2 billion. This spending level represents a $1.6 billion reduction from the Administration's request and a $4 billion increase or 11% increase over Fiscal Year 2008 base spending levels. On June 25, the full House Appropriations Committee approved the bill as reported by the Subcommittee.

A House-Senate compromise version will be included in the Fiscal Year 2009 Omnibus Appropriations bill.


The Department of Defense is soon expected to submit to Congress a new request of about $69 billion to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in Fiscal Year 2009. In 2008, Congress approved $68 billion for the wars for the first months of Fiscal Year 2009. This $68 billion is expected to run out sometime in June.


The White House is expected to deliver to Congress the broad outlines of its Fiscal Year 2010 budget request by the end of February, although the detailed budget is not expected until April. However, there are already reports in the trade press that missile defense funding will be cut by $2 billion and there will be no funding for the Reliable Replacement Warhead. For a preview of the Fiscal Year 2010 request, see the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation’s analysis.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Missile Defense in the Obama Budget

One of the top recommendations for the Obama administration from a recent Center report was to condition further deployment of the third missile defense site in Europe on tests that prove the system actually works. President Obama agreed during his campaign that deployment of missile defense should be postponed until proven effective. He said in 2007, " If we can responsibly deploy missile defenses that would protect us and our allies, we should — but only when the system works…The Bush administration has in the past exaggerated missile defense capabilities and rushed deployments for political purposes."

In a report released yesterday, the Center's Travis Sharp predicts what this might mean for missile defense in the FY2009 budget. He predicts a loss of funding for the program, and lists missile defense among four weapons systems likely to see budget cuts in 2009. (Alongside missile defense are the F-22 Raptor, the DDG-1000 destroyer, and Future Combat Systems.)

In the absence of this year's budget release on the usual first Monday in February, we don't know, of course, what Obama's request actually is. But Travis's report – which documents the skyrocketing recent growth in defense spending, catalogs calls for budget cuts by key policymakers, and looks at the complicated procedure the fiscal year 2010 budget is set to follow - provides a good appetizer for all those who are eager to see what's on Obama's full budget plate.

Excerpt below, and full report available on the Center website.

Technical experts, budget analysts, and military strategists have debated the pros and cons of missile defense for decades. In the past few years, Congress repeatedly has reduced funding for expensive and unproven missile defense technologies aimed at countering future long-range threats and reallocated it toward higher priority systems aimed at existing short- and medium-range missiles.

The final FY 2009 base budget provided $10.5 billion for missile defense research and development, military construction, and procurement. The final appropriation rearranged funding among various ballistic missile defense program elements and was $328 million less than the Bush administration’s request. Within the $10.5 billion, Congress provided $618 million for research and development and military construction on the missile defense system in Europe, a $94 million reduction from the Bush administration’s request.

Given these preferences, Aegis ballistic missile defense (BMD), Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) (funded by the Army, not the Missile Defense Agency), and Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) may pass muster in 2009. These programs protect U.S. troops in the field from theater ballistic missiles, a far more realistic threat than long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Full report available here.

Congressional Schedule for DoD and DoE Bills

Provided below is an updated schedule of Congressional action on key Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Energy (DoE) bills, as prepared by David Culp of FCNL. Click to enlarge.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Nonpro Positions of WMD Coordinator Gary Samore

The Center's Executive Director, John Isaacs, produced a great report on the positions of Gary Samore, who was recently tapped by President Obama to be WMD Coordinator. The text of the report is below.

Gary Samore Joining the Obama Administration as WMD Coordinator: A Look at His Issue Positions

Gary Samore has been selected by President Barack Obama to coordinate government-wide efforts to combat weapons of mass destruction proliferation. As “Nonproliferation Czar,” Samore will be a member of the National Security Council staff. His portfolio will include everything from nuclear and conventional arms control to threat reduction to nuclear terrorism.

Samore previously was employed by the Council on Foreign Relations. His professional experience includes past tours on the NSC (1995-2001) as well as positions at the State Department, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Rand Corporation, and Harvard.

Below is a brief summary of some of Samore’s recently expressed views on key nuclear nonproliferation issues.


On reaffirming the U.S. commitment to nuclear disarmament

“The first thing the Obama administration needs to do is a very forceful statement of policy that nuclear disarmament remains the ultimate U.S. objective, even though it's not going to be achieved anytime soon.”

- Panel discussion on U.S.-Japan relations, December 2008


On providing assistance to North Korea

Washington and Seoul should coordinate some energy and economic assistance projects to North Korea in return for North Korean disarmament steps.”

- Speech on inter-Korean relations, September 2008

On normalizing relations with North Korea and signing a peace treaty

“I think the first immediate step for President Obama when he comes in is through statements and speeches to reassure the Asian countries and to warn the North Koreans that the U.S. is not going to fully normalize relations with North Korea, sign a peace treaty with North Korea until it gives up its nuclear weapons.”

- Panel discussion on North Korea, November 2008

On staying committed to the long, painful process of negotiations with North Korea

“I don't think we need to run the risk of precipitating a crisis with North Korea by threatening them. I think the North Koreans are willing to play ball in exchange for food and heavy fuel oil and fertilizer and so forth but in a process that's going to be torturous…We can't ignore North Korea because they'll make mischief. We can't coerce them and force them to give up their nuclear weapons. And the only alternative, I think, is a long-term disarmament process which will involve very painful, slow, incremental progress.”

- Panel discussion on North Korea, November 2008

On the long-term strategy for dealing with North Korea

“At some point, I think, the North Korean regime is likely to fade and collapse. So our game is to sort of manage this process until it eventually disappears.”

- Panel discussion on North Korea, November 2008


On Iran’s nuclear weapon timeline

“In my view, Iran is probably still a few years away from having a credible break out option – in terms of being confident that it could produce sufficient quantities of weapons grade material to support a small nuclear arsenal before any action could be taken to prevent it, but this a matter of political judgment, not technical certainty.”

- Speech on Iran, December 2008

On the near-term objective for engaging Iran

“The immediate objective of engaging Iran is to restore the suspension of Iran’s enrichment program in exchange for a suspension of sanctions. This ‘double suspension’ would create space for much more complicated and lengthy international negotiations on the nuclear issue and bilateral U.S.-Iranian negotiations on other issues.”

- Speech on Iran, December 2008

On involving other countries in negotiations with Iran

“Before we enter into…talks with Iran, we will need to try to reach agreement with other countries – such as Russia, China, and the European powers - that the U.S. is offering reasonable terms and that the failure to reach an agreement is Iran’s fault, in order to justify subsequent steps, such as serious sanctions or - as a last resort – military force.”

- Speech on Iran, December 2007

On when to talk to Iran, and who we should be talking to

“I don't think we can afford to wait. I think Iran is moving ahead so quickly that we should at least try to find a way to engage Iran without helping Ahmadinejad take credit for bringing the Americans to the bargaining table. And I guess the way to do that is to try to make a direct approach to the Supreme Leader, who is, after all, the most important figure in terms of making decisions on foreign and defense policy. So I think, just tactically, it would make sense to try to have a representative of President Obama meet with a representative of the Supreme Leader and see if they could begin a dialogue.”

- Panel discussion on the Middle East, January 2009

On how a military strike against Iran would be perceived by the international community

“I would argue that the use of military force in that kind of scenario where Iran is detected trying to make a breakout, where they've expelled the inspectors or where we learn that they're producing weapons-grade uranium, I think that's relatively easy to justify to an international audience…That's not to say the use of military force is necessarily a wise thing to do, but it's much easier to justify under those circumstances.”

- Panel discussion on the Middle East, December 2008

On effectively communicating the threat of attack to Iran

“We also want the Iranians to believe that if they actually try to make nuclear weapons, or if they build secret facilities that we detect, they run the risk of being attacked.”

- Panel discussion on Iran, September 2008