Feinstein Criticizes Extending Timetable for Nuclear-Security Projects

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) speaks in January on Capitol Hill. On Wednesday, the senior lawmaker criticized the Energy Department's plan to extend the schedule for completing work on multiple nuclear-security projects.
National Journal
Rachel Oswald
Add to Briefcase
Rachel Oswald
April 11, 2014, 9:38 a.m.

A seni­or U.S. sen­at­or on Wed­nes­day cri­ti­cized the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion for ex­tend­ing the mile­stone sched­ule on a num­ber of nuc­le­ar-se­cur­ity pro­jects.

Speak­ing at a Sen­ate Ap­pro­pri­ations En­ergy and Wa­ter De­vel­op­ment Sub­com­mit­tee hear­ing, Sen­at­or Di­anne Fein­stein (D-Cal­if.) singled out En­ergy De­part­ment plans for re­mov­ing weapons-us­able urani­um from roughly 200 glob­al nuc­le­ar re­act­ors and for se­cur­ing sens­it­ive ra­di­olo­gic­al ma­ter­i­als held at ci­vil­ian U.S. fa­cil­it­ies.

Fein­stein said the de­part­ment’s fisc­al 2015 budget pro­pos­al would push back by five years, to 2035, the tar­get date for wrap­ping up work on the world­wide re­act­or-con­ver­sion pro­ject.

“This simply is un­ac­cept­able at the same time we’re pour­ing money in­to the mod­ern­iz­a­tion of cer­tain war­heads. It’s just un­ac­cept­able,” Fein­stein said.

As part of the Glob­al Threat Re­duc­tion Ini­ti­at­ive, the pro­ject aims to con­vert re­act­ors and iso­tope-pro­duc­tion fa­cil­it­ies that use highly en­riched urani­um to run in­stead on low-en­riched ma­ter­i­al, or shut them down al­to­geth­er. Once the re­act­ors no longer have use for the HEU ma­ter­i­al, it can be re­moved and per­man­ently dis­posed of un­der a sep­ar­ate GTRI pro­gram.

The En­ergy De­part­ment has taken some cri­ti­cism from anti-nuc­le­ar ad­voc­ates for its budget pro­pos­al, which would re­duce by al­most 18 per­cent spend­ing on non­pro­lif­er­a­tion activ­it­ies while sim­ul­tan­eously in­creas­ing fund­ing for nuc­le­ar arms by close to 7 per­cent.

In an ex­change with En­ergy Sec­ret­ary Ern­est Mon­iz, who was testi­fy­ing be­fore the ap­pro­pri­ations sub­com­mit­tee, Fein­stein noted that his de­part­ment also was delay­ing the com­ple­tion of a GTRI pro­ject to in­stall se­cur­ity up­grades at U.S. non­mil­it­ary sites hous­ing se­lec­ted ra­di­olo­gic­al and nuc­le­ar ma­ter­i­als.

The pro­ject funds se­cur­ity up­grades for ci­vil­ian sites that con­tain these sens­it­ive ra­di­olo­gic­al sources used for re­search, med­ic­al and com­mer­cial pur­poses. As of the end of fisc­al 2013, the ini­ti­at­ive had in­stalled se­cur­ity en­hance­ments at 1,674 sites, ac­cord­ing to the En­ergy De­part­ment’s budget pro­pos­al.

The nuc­le­ar-se­cur­ity ef­fort was es­tab­lished to ad­dress con­cerns that ci­vil­ian sites could be vul­ner­able to the theft of weapons-us­able ra­di­olo­gic­al sources, which could later be used to build a so-called “dirty bomb.” Such an im­pro­vised device might use con­ven­tion­al ex­plos­ives to dis­perse ra­dio­act­ive con­tam­in­ants across a wide area.

The de­part­ment’s budget re­quest said that “the pre­vi­ous [pro­ject] end date of 2044 is now TBD pending a re­view” of the scope and fin­an­cial re­quire­ments.

“Has there been a change in threat as­sess­ment that I’m not aware of?” Fein­stein asked. “Are ter­ror­ists no longer in­ter­ested in ac­quir­ing nuc­le­ar or ra­di­olo­gic­al bombs for im­pro­vised nuc­le­ar devices and dirty bombs? I don’t un­der­stand how you can de­fend this budget on non­pro­lif­er­a­tion cuts.”

Mon­iz ac­know­ledged that “things like the GTRI pro­gram … they do have re­duc­tions.” But he ad­ded that a “very con­strained” budget en­vir­on­ment ne­ces­sit­ated “some tough choices.”

The En­ergy sec­ret­ary de­fen­ded the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s over­all pro­gress in ef­forts to se­cure nuc­le­ar ma­ter­i­als world­wide.

“There’s been a surge, really, over the last four years with 12 coun­tries, all HEU [highly en­riched urani­um] re­moved from them, in­clud­ing I think three in the last year, year-and-a-half,” Mon­iz said.

What We're Following See More »
SANS PROOF
NRA Chief: Leftist Protesters Are Paid
1 days ago
UPDATE
NEW TRAVEL BAN COMING SOON
Trump Still on Campaign Rhetoric
1 days ago
UPDATE
“WE’RE CHANGING IT”
Trump Rails On Obamacare
1 days ago
UPDATE

After spending a few minutes re-litigating the Democratic primary, Donald Trump turned his focus to Obamacare. “I inherited a mess, believe me. We also inherited a failed healthcare law that threatens our medical system with absolute and total catastrophe” he said. “I’ve been watching and nobody says it, but Obamacare doesn’t work.” He finished, "so we're going to repeal and replace Obamacare."

FAKE NEWS
Trump Goes After The Media
1 days ago
UPDATE

Donald Trump lobbed his first attack at the “dishonest media” about a minute into his speech, saying that the media would not appropriately cover the standing ovation that he received. “We are fighting the fake news,” he said, before doubling down on his previous claim that the press is “the enemy of the people." However, he made a distinction, saying that he doesn't think all media is the enemy, just the "fake news."

FBI TURNED DOWN REQUEST
Report: Trump Asked FBI to Deny Russia Stories
1 days ago
THE LATEST

"The FBI rejected a recent White House request to publicly knock down media reports about communications between Donald Trump's associates and Russians known to US intelligence during the 2016 presidential campaign, multiple US officials briefed on the matter tell CNN. But a White House official said late Thursday that the request was only made after the FBI indicated to the White House it did not believe the reporting to be accurate."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login