By Labs Director Steve Younger

Photography By Lonnie Anderson

Friday, October 13, 2017

Labs Director Steve Younger signs annual assessment letter

Labs Director Steve Younger signs annual assessment letter. (Photo by Lonnie Anderson)

Every year the director of each of the three NNSA nuclear weapons laboratories writes an independent letter assessing the safety and reliability of the nuclear weapons stockpile.

 Signing this letter represents the culmination of work extending over many months and engaging every division at Sandia. The foundation of the process is a set of exhaustive reviews by experts on each weapon system, supported by scientists and engineers knowledgeable in the myriad science and engineering issues that can affect safety and reliability. Several independent reviews are conducted, some of which involve people from outside the Labs. These are intended to put fresh eyes on each weapons system to ensure that nothing was missed.

One of these independent reviews, the Stockpile Assessment Team, provides technical advice directly to the Commander of the US Strategic Command. Following these reviews, I received presentations on each weapons system and on associated important topics, enabling me to write the 2017 Annual Assessment Letter to the Secretaries of Energy and Defense and the Chairwoman of the Nuclear Weapons Council.

Completion of my letter is one of my principal responsibilities as Laboratories director. By law, no one is permitted to influence the technical opinions of the NNSA laboratory directors.  Each of us has the opportunity and the responsibility to make our own assessment on the state of the stockpile, assessments that will ultimately land on the President’s desk.

I would like to thank all of those who supported the 2017 Annual Assessment process. The technical quality of the work that went into the many analyses, reports, and presentations was outstanding. The nation can be proud of the dedication, expertise, and experience of all Sandians who work tirelessly to assure our nuclear deterrent.

— Steve Younger, Director, Sandia National Laboratories