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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 23, February 1998

The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty & US Nuclear Weapons:
Remarks by President & Energy Secretary

The President

'Remarks by the President to the workers and community of Los Alamos National Laboratory,' Albuquerque, New Mexico, White House transcript, 3 February 1998


"Now, just a few minutes ago, I toured the labs here to see some of that 21st century technology our balanced budget will help to develop further. The supercomputers here, along with those at Lawrence Livermore and Sandia Laboratories, are already the fastest in the world. They're already being used to do everything from predicting the consequences of global warming to designing more fuel efficient engines to discovering life saving drugs to cracking down on Medicare fraud. ...

Now, that to me is just the beginning. Today I also want to announce to you that that balanced budget includes over $500 million - $517 million to be exact - to help the Department of Energy develop the next generation of supercomputer technology. Just recently, we signed contracts with four leading United States companies to help to build supercomputers that will be 1,000 times faster than the fastest computer that existed when I took office. By 2001 they'll be able to perform more calculations in a second than a human being with a hand-held calculator could perform in 30 million years.

Now, even a person as technologically challenged as me can understand that is a big deal. It is a good investment. It is an investment we must secure. Of all the remarkable things these supercomputers will be able to accomplish, none will be more important than helping to make sure that the world is safe from the threat of nuclear weapons. For more than 50 years, since we first split the atom and unleashed its awesome force, the nuclear threat has hovered over our heads. Throughout the Cold War and the arms race, it has been an ever present threat to our people and the people of the world. For five years I have worked to reduce that threat. Today, there is not a single Russian missile pointed at America's children. But we have to do more. Last fall, I sent the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban treaty to the Senate for its advice and consent. In my State of the Union address last week, I asked the Senate to approve that treaty this year. By banning all nuclear tests for all time, we open a new era of security for America.

At the same time, our national security requires that we maintain a nuclear arsenal strong enough to deter any adversary and safe enough to retain the confidence of our military leaders, our political leaders and the American people.

Five years ago, I directed the development of the Stockpile Stewardship Program to maintain our nuclear arsenal through science. The program is an essential safeguard to accompany the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. In fact, I don't think we can get the treaty ratified unless we can convince the Senate that the Stockpile Stewardship Program works; that we will be secure while we try to make the world safer from the dangers of nuclear development and nuclear use in other countries. Now, by combining past nuclear data with the high-tech simulations that computers like those here at Los Alamos make possible, we are keeping the arsenals safe, reliable and effective. And we're doing it without detonating a single explosion. I just received a briefing...by Dr. Browne and the other directors of our national labs on the Stewardship Program. They confirmed that we can meet the challenge of maintaining a nuclear deterrent under the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty through the Stockpile Stewardship Program. This Test Ban Treaty is good for America's security. Already, four former chairmen of the Joints Chief of Staff, General John Shalikashvili, General Colin Powell, General David Jones and Admiral Bill Crowe have all endorsed it. I also discussed the issue last week when I had my annual meeting with our nation's senior military leadership - all of our four stars, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the heads of various commands around the world.

General Shelton, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and General Habiger, the Commander-in-Chief of our Strategic Command, have both given the treaty their full support. This is in America's interests. Five years ago, I extended the moratorium on testing passed by Congress in 1992. The Test Ban Treaty will hold other nations to the same standard we already observe - that is its importance. Its ban on all nuclear explosions will constrain the nuclear powers from developing more advanced and more dangerous weapons, making a costly arms build-up less likely.

It will also make it more difficult for States that don't now have nuclear weapons to develop them, because without testing there's no way for them to know whether a new weapon will work as it is designed or whether it will work at all. The treaty will also put in place an extensive global network of monitoring stations to detect and deter nuclear explosion on land, under ground, beneath the sea, or in space.

Our national security demands that we monitor such nuclear weapons programs around the world. We have to do that with or without the Test Ban Treaty. But with the treaty in force, we will gain a powerful new tool to do that monitoring. The great scientist, Louie Pasteur, once said that he held, 'The unconquerable belief that science and peace will triumph over ignorance and war; that nations will come together not to destroy, but to construct. And that the future of humanity belongs to those who accomplish the most for humanity.'

With the new balanced budget, with our commitment to science and technology, with our commitment to the Test Ban Treaty, with the work you have done here and at the other labs to assure the safety of the treaty through the Stockpile Stewardship program, all these things are helping to build a stronger America for the 21st century, a safer world for our children in the 21st century and a legacy worthy of America's glorious past. ..."

Editor's note: the Department of Energy (DOE) issued a press release ('President Clinton announces DOE partnership with computer companies,' R-98-009) on 3 February providing more details of the President's commitment to the US supercomputer-development programme. The full text of the press release follows.

"President Bill Clinton today announced PathForward, the next step in the Department of Energy's effort to develop the supercomputers of the 21st century. The computers and simulation capabilities will be used to keep the US nuclear weapons stockpile safe, secure, and reliable without nuclear testing. The four-year, $50 million contracts are with Digital Equipment Corporation of Maynard, Mass., International Business Machines (IBM) of Poughkeepsie, New York, Sun Microsystems, Inc. (SUN) of Chelmsford, Mass., and Silicon Graphics/Cray Computer Systems (SGI/Cray) of Chippewa Falls, Wisc. These collaborations with the computer industry will help reach the department's long-term goal of developing a 100 Teraflops computer by 2004.

ASCI [Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative] was created to develop unprecedented computer simulation and modeling capabilities. The simulation tools will be validated using data from past nuclear tests and new nonnuclear experiments to assure the safety and reliability of the stockpile. Achieving these capabilities is essential to support the United States commitment to refrain from further nuclear testing. ...

Secretary of Energy Federico Peña said, 'The Department of Energy and its national laboratories are proud to rise to President Clinton's challenge: to develop technologies necessary to certify confidence in the safety and reliability of the enduring nuclear weapons stockpile. PathForward will help us meet this challenge.' PathForward is part of the Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative...to develop the simulation capability needed for stockpile stewardship. The PathForward project will develop technologies to interconnect tens of thousands of advanced commodity processors, providing the collective computing power of at least 30 Teraflops (30 trillion floating point operations per second).

Improvements in critical scaling and interconnectivity technologies as well as operating systems are vital to achieving maximum performance in the time frame needed to keep the nuclear stockpile safe and secure.

The Department of Energy's national laboratories will need computers thousands of times more powerful than those normally available in the marketplace today. To meet the simulation requirements, the department is partnering with the US high-end computing industry to acquire a series of computers capable of 10, 30 and ultimately 100 Teraflops by 2004.

With the PathForward project using 'commodity' (off-the-shelf) parallel processing components, the department is capitalizing on a natural synergy with private sector partners: these four companies' business plans already coincide with the department's own goals and objectives for supercomputing. These developments would not occur on this accelerated time line without the department's active participation. PathForward is a cooperative research and development plan jointly administered by the Department of Energy's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratories. More information on the department's ASCI program can be found on the World Wide Web (the URL address is http://www.llnl.gov/asci)."

Energy Secretary

Prepared remarks by US Secretary of Energy Federico Peña to the National Press Club, Washington, 12 February 1998


"This treaty represents an important building block for both our national and our international security. There have been numerous arguments put forward for ratification of this treaty. But today I want to focus on what I believe are the three most important.

First, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty effectively 'puts the brakes' on the arms race. Because it prohibits all nuclear explosions, it constrains the development of more advanced types of nuclear weapons by the declared nuclear powers.

Most Americans do not realize that there are currently five declared nuclear-weapons States - the United States, Russia, Great Britain, France, and China. None of us would be able to develop with high confidence new, more advanced and more dangerous weapon types without nuclear testing. Therefore, all five States would be effectively 'frozen' at current levels of weapons sophistication - and a fifty year spiral of escalation would be ended. ...

This brings me to the second reason for ratification - that the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty will constrain other countries from developing nuclear weapons. As I mentioned earlier, there are currently five nations in the 'nuclear club.' But there are more who want to join the nuclear ranks. How can the treaty deter them? Well - even if these nations were to assemble sufficient nuclear material to produce a simple fission weapon, without nuclear testing, their military leaders would be forced to place confidence in an untested design. Moreover, the treaty would constrain any further improvements in nuclear weapon design.

Furthermore, if these nations insist upon defying the world by building a nuclear weapon, with the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, we will improve our ability to detect and deter nuclear explosive testing. Under the treaty, we will deploy a broad network of more than 300 sensors, blanketing the globe, that can detect a nuclear explosion and help us identify nations that have acquired nuclear capabilities. ...

The third reason for ratification was recently summed well by President Clinton when he said, 'The Test Ban Treaty will hold other nations to the same standard we already observe - that is its importance.' Most Americans don't realize it, but it has been more than five years since the United States last conducted a nuclear weapons test - ironically enough, a test named 'Divider.' Although the scientists did not appreciate it at the time, 'Divider' would be the line separating an era of nuclear testing from an era of nuclear silence. ...

Next year, we expect a special conference to take place where it will be decided how to best encourage more nations to sign on and bring the treaty into force. Only those nations that have already ratified the treaty will be allowed to participate. Do we want to be at the table, leading these discussions as we have historically led the world in nonproliferation initiatives? Or do we want to be excluded from those negotiations?

Seventy percent of the American public has said that they support this treaty - that they want us to be at the table. I believe that it is not only in our best interests to ratify this treaty, but it is also our responsibility to the American people. I had the opportunity to talk about this issue with the President last week when I accompanied him to the place where the very first nuclear bomb was built - the Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory. The President wanted to visit Los Alamos because achieving a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty is one of his highest priorities. ...

The awesome power unleashed by our scientists at Los Alamos brought an end to World War II, but a beginning to the arms race and another kind of war - the Cold War. The President and I are about the same age. And as we were touring Los Alamos and being briefed by the scientists there, I could not help but be reminded of the Cold War world we once lived in.

As a young man, I can remember watching people build bomb shelters. And I remember the Cuban Missile Crisis - all of us watching the clock on the wall as the eleventh hour approached and we wondered whether we'd soon be witnesses to, or even victims of, a nuclear exchange between the superpowers.

And it was, perhaps, standing so close to the precipice of nuclear destruction that led President Kennedy to call for a test ban treaty in 1963 when he stated that, 'Such a treaty, so near, and yet so far, would check the spiraling arms race in one of its most dangerous areas... It would decrease the prospects of war. Surely this goal is sufficiently important to require our steady pursuit, yielding neither to the temptation to give up the whole effort, nor to the temptation to give up our insistence on vital and responsible safeguards.' ...

Now, there are those who question whether this treaty is a good idea. There are critics who doubt that we can keep our nuclear weapons stockpile safe, secure, and reliable unless we continue nuclear testing. To those people I say, we can do it - and, in fact, we are doing it today.

When President Clinton extended the moratorium on testing in 1993, he directed the Department of Energy to develop a program to maintain the safety, security, and reliability of our nuclear deterrent...without nuclear testing. This program is called 'stockpile stewardship,' and it is based upon the principle that we can replace nuclear testing with the use of new, advanced scientific tools that will allow us to analyze our weapons without actually exploding them.

For example, we have a very aggressive program for increasing the computational powers that will be necessary for the modeling and simulation of what happens inside a nuclear weapon. We have begun building the facilities that we will need...such as the National Ignition Facility which is designed to produce, for the first time in a laboratory setting, conditions of temperature and density of matter close to those that occur in the detonation of nuclear weapons. And we have put in place a rigorous program to train a new generation of scientists and engineers on how to care for the enduring stockpile.

Stockpile stewardship is working. And working so well, that I am pleased to announce that today, President Clinton will forward to Congress the annual certification from the Secretaries of Defense and Energy that the nuclear stockpile remains safe, secure, and reliable, and that there is no need to return to nuclear testing at this time. Secretary Cohen and I have given the President our full assurance that we have conducted a painstaking and thorough review of every weapon type in the stockpile. And we undertake this review from the bottom up. From the technicians who work every day with the weapons, to the scientists who designed the weapons, to the directors of our three weapons laboratories, John Browne, Paul Robinson, and Bruce Tarter, to the Commander of US Strategic Command, General Habiger. ...

I am proud that we were able to certify to the President for the second year in a row that the stockpile stewardship program is working and that our nuclear deterrent remains safe, secure, and reliable. And I was proud last week to be able to show the President the Los Alamos National Laboratory and to show him why we were able to make that certification - to show him some of the technologies we are using to replace nuclear testing.

The President and I saw one of the supercomputers that we are using now to ensure that the stockpile remains safe, secure, and reliable. But I told the President that as the stockpile continues to age, we will need to develop new tools. And today, I am making an important announcement about one of those new tools. It gives me great pleasure to announce that the Department of Energy has taken a major step forward in providing for the safety, security, and reliability of our stockpile well into the future.

Today, the Department of Energy has signed a contract with the IBM Corporation, to develop a supercomputer that is capable of performing ten trillion operations per second. The President often jokes about being 'technologically challenged'. So let me put this into terms even the 'technologically challenged' might understand - in one second this computer can do the same number of calculations that it would take us ten million years to do with one of our hand calculators.

This announcement builds upon a record of computational breakthroughs at the Department of Energy that is unparalleled in the world. And it builds upon a partnership with the IBM Corporation that has been one of the Department's greatest assets. ...

In an industry that has seen many changes in technology and structure, there have been few constants - and IBM has been one of them. IBM has made a long-term and firm commitment to assist the Department with the technology needed for stockpile stewardship. From their perspective it's both good business and good for the country. I share this perspective.

It seems incomprehensible to realize that when research for the Manhattan Project first began, computations were done on desk calculators. The wives of our weapons scientists formed a computing pool to do the repetitive calculations needed to determine the effect of the nuclear explosion. The Department has certainly come a long way from those days to emerge as the preeminent supercomputing power in the world.

In December of 1996, the Department of Energy achieved the astounding world record of one trillion operations per second. By early 1999, we expect to achieve an incredible three trillion operations per second. And with the partnership that we have announced today, we expect to reach an earth-shattering ten trillion operations per second by early 2000.

To put this into context, it means that as we enter into the first year of the new millennium we will be able to do in less than a day all of the calculations that were performed at the weapons laboratories for the first fifty years of the nuclear weapons program. What we learn will not only support our national security mission, but also has unlimited potential for global climate problems, biotechnology, and a host of other applications important to the future health and well-being of our citizens.

This is truly revolutionary technology. And perhaps what is most amazing is that three years ago, almost no one believed that any of this would be possible. There were predictions that it would be into the next century before we had a one trillion operations per second system - we demonstrated one in December of 1996.

We proved to the world that it is possible. And we are proving it again and again as we meet our commitments to the President and to the American people to develop the technologies we will need to keep our nuclear weapons stockpile safe, secure, and reliable into the next millennium - all without nuclear testing. ..."

Editor's note: the DOE issued a Press Release to accompany the Energy Secretary's speech: 'Peña Calls for Ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty; DOE, IBM Partnership Launches New Dimension In Supercomputing - 10,000,000,000,000 in 2000' (Press Release R-98-016, 12 February). Substantial extracts follow:

"Peña announced that today President Clinton forwarded to Congress the second annual certification of the safety and reliability of the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile - an annual requirement of the Secretaries of Energy and Defense. To further advance the stewardship program, he also announced the award of an $85 million contract to IBM Corporation (Armonk, N.Y.) for a 10-trillion-operations-per-second computer system. ...

The contract with IBM will enable the Department of Energy to meet a series of important milestones in computational power and speed. In December 1996, the ASCI program achieved a world record - one trillion operations per second - with its 'Option Red' machine located at the Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The Department of Energy's 'Option Blue' system will achieve three trillion-operations-per-second in 1999.

The supercomputer announced today - to be designated 'Option White' - is scheduled for complete installation at DOE's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in 2000, will be the world's fastest computer, capable of sustaining a speed of ten TeraOps (i.e., 10 trillion-operations-per-second). ...

To obtain the 10 TeraOps system, the Department of Energy has exercised its option to extend the partnership with IBM from the earlier competitively awarded 'Option Blue' procurement. ...

Today's system is the third step of a planned dramatic increase in computing power. The large systems are not the end but the means to drive extremely complex computer simulations. ASCI's goal is to develop the capability to simulate nuclear weapons' behavior to ensure their safety and reliability over the long term. This requires the ability to calculate what happens to billions of data points in small fractions of a second. The 10 TeraOps supercomputer at Livermore will consist of more than 8,000 of IBM's newest and fastest RS/6000 processors. Future plans call for acquisition of a 30 and a 100 TeraOps system.

'As these computers increase their speed, they vastly expand the complexity of the calculations we can do,' observed Dr. Bruce Tarter, director of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. 'Not only will we be able to calculate improved weapon physics and weapon aging problems, but we are advancing computer science in ways that will help us better understand global climate change, to more quickly develop new drug therapies that could lead to cures for chronic and catastrophic illnesses, and to increase public safety through better aircraft and automotive design.'"

© 1998 The Acronym Institute.

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