You Call That a Disarmament Budget?

May 15th, 2010 - by admin

MaryAnne Coyle with Jim Haber / Nevada Desert Experience – 2010-05-15 00:57:48

Nevada Desert Experience

You Call That a Disarmament Budget?
MaryAnne Coyle with Jim Haber / Nevada Desert Experience

Much of this article is based on a recent report by noted physicist, Dr. Robert Civiak: “Enhancing Nuclear Weapons Research And Production To Support Disarmament? — An Analysis of the US Department Of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Request for Nuclear Weapons Activities.”

Dr. Civiak is a former Program Examiner for DOE nuclear security activities at the White House Office of Management and Budget. The report, prepared for Tri-Valley CAREs (Communities Against a Radioactive Environment) based in Livermore, California.

LAS VEGAS, Nevada (Spring 2010) — The National Nuclear Safety Administration (NNSA) is the semi-independent agency within Department of Energy (DOE) that maintains US nuclear weapons. President Obama’s proposed 2011 budget for the DOE requests a 14 percent increase over 2010 for NNSA’s [Nuclear] Weapons Activities, the largest ever submitted in the Nuclear Age.

The total includes large increases for research and development in nuclear weapons science and technology including the construction of new physical plants for the production of plutonium and highly enriched uranium parts for nuclear weapons. The Budget Request says it would provide funding “necessary to protect and advance the scientific capabilities at the US national security laboratories — including the ability to design nuclear warheads.”

As Civiak observes, “The Budget itself reveals that the Obama Administration plans to incorporate the weapons modifications planned under the legislatively defeated Reliable Replacement Warhead program into the existing “Life Extension Program.” That program was established to refurbish warheads, without modifying nuclear components or adding new capabilities, but it is now morphing into a full-fledged effort to redesign and upgrade US nuclear weapons.”

The total request for five campaigns aimed at expanding the science and technology base in support of nuclear weapons is $1.716 billion, an increase of $145 million over 2010. “Advanced Certification” activity is slated to quadruple funding to $77 million to develop tools to certify that changes to the nuclear package of existing nuclear weapons can be introduced into the weapons stockpile without problems.

The Readiness Campaign develops new production technologies for manufacturing non-nuclear components, including tritium. The Budget requests $50.1 million in 2011 for Tritium Readiness. Cuts in the nuclear stockpile have added more than twenty years to NNSA’s already substantial inventory of tritium.

Large infrastructure outlays include the design and construction of a Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Facility Replacement (CMRR) at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and Uranium Processing Facility (UPF) at the Y-12 facility in Oak Ridge, TN. If the US were to come close to following its obligations under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) the old buildings would be closed, not replaced.

More than half of the increase for Weapons Activities is allocated to Directed Stockpile Work, including a $649 million request for Stockpile Systems and Services to fund maintenance and upgrades of warheads in the current stockpile. The largest increase in Stockpile Services is a boost of $48.4 million (34%) for Plutonium Sustainment, which supports the manufacture of plutonium parts.

Civiak notes, “The 2011 request for Weapons Dismantlement and Disposition is $58.0 million; $38.1 million (39.6%) below the FY 2010 level. The decrease reflects NNSA’s plan to reduce the pace of dismantlements from the current rate of roughly 300 nuclear weapons per year… This sends the wrong signal to US allies and foes regarding our obligations to achieve irreversible disarmament pursuant to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.”

As far as funding for activities at the Nevada Test Site (NTS), it is one of the facilities with a proposed overall budget reduction of 6%, but don’t be fooled. The NNSA’s Nevada Site Office has been working to “rebrand” it as developing homeland security tools and the training of first responders.

Still, as Civiak continues, “There is a $42.5 million boost (26%), to $209.1 million, in R&D. All of those increases are part of a concerted effort to prepare for introducing new and modified weapons primaries into the stockpile without underground testing.”

One reason the government may try to keep the NTS budget down is to reduce the perception that it is violating the NPT by upgrading the US nuclear weapons arsenal. NDE will continue to bring attention to US nuclear weapons developments until it is clear that the people are not fooled. The United States led the way into this mess, and it needs to lead the way out, but it needs us to give it a push start and then help it keep its eyes on the road.