Cornyn Hails Senate Action Against Anti-MPF Effort

In: All News   Posted 09/16/2003

WASHINGTON – The Senate on Tuesday fought back attempts to stop the progress of site selection for a Modern Pit Facility (MPF). U.S. Sen. John Cornyn joined colleagues in preventing opponents from blocking future research on the proposed facility. Cornyn is an advocate of bringing the proposed MPF—and with it, more than 1,000 jobs—to Pantex, and has urged the administration to move forward with the site selection study that would have been banned under legislation introduced by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.)."Opponents of this crucial aspect of our national security just don’t get it,” said Cornyn, a member of the Armed Services Committee. “We currently have no certified capability to produce such an important part of our nuclear arsenal, a capability that even rogue nations such as North Korea now possess. That must change.” the Feinstein-Kennedy amendment sought to eliminate funding for new nuclear weapons projects, including the construction of an MPF. In an amendment to the Energy and Water appropriations bill currently before the Senate, the pair argued that upgrading American weapons program “is the wrong direction.” The bill also stripped funding for low-yield and “bunker buster” nuclear programs development. Long a supporter of bringing the MPF to Pantex, one of Cornyn’s first actions in the Senate was to host the administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), Linton F. Brooks in the Senator’s Washington office in an effort to highlight the benefits of locating the MPF in Texas. “Pantex is the most cost-effective site in the nuclear weapons program,” Cornyn wrote in a follow-up letter to Brooks. “I strongly believe DOE should designate Pantex as the new home for the Modern Pit Facility.” At a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee in March, Cornyn urged Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham to speed up the process for selecting and creating the Modern Pit Facility (MPF). “I’m eager to work with you to ensure that our weapons facilities receive the proper funding and resources to carry out their important missions,” Cornyn said at the hearing. “And I’m especially glad to see that we are moving forward with the Modern Pit Facility.” Currently, the United States is the only nuclear power that does not have a manufacturing capability to produce a certified nuclear pit. Without such pits, it is impossible to build a nuclear weapon, or replace older pits in existing weapons to increase their safety and efficacy.