What Will the Feb. 13 Budget Release Say about US Nuclear Weapons?
February 13, 2012
The overriding issue for the Monday, February 13 budget release is: "Will the Obama Administration continue to increase funding for unnecessary nuclear programs in light of current fiscal constraints?" While a Nuclear Facility intended to increase US capacity to produce plutonium bomb cores four-fold, is rumored to take a major budget hit in the FY13 request, "other ill-conceived nuclear weapons projects are rumored to move 'full steam ahead.'"
US Criticizes Iran for Nuke Spending!
"I do want to make clear, as we said the other day, that with regard to U.S. sanctions, we do have carve-outs for the provision of food, medical equipment, medicines to the Iranian people because we don’t want to hurt them any more than we need to. But they are living in a state with a government that would rather spend money on a nuclear weapons program than on the welfare of its people, and that’s why we are compelled to increase the pressure and increase the isolation until they see the light."
-- Victoria Nuland, US State Department spokesperson, Daily Press Briefing, February 9, 2012
QUESTIONS FOR FEBRUARY 13:
THE US DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY RELEASES ITS FY 2013 NUCLEAR WEAPONS AND CLEANUP BUDGET
LIVERMORE, CA (February 10, 2012) -- The overriding issue for the Monday, February 13 budget release is: "Will the Obama Administration continue to increase funding for unnecessary nuclear programs in light of current fiscal constraints?"
The Livermore, CA-based Tri-Valley CAREs noted that: "We do expect the budget request will reveal modest progress toward reducing profligate spending on nuclear weapons. The Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement -- Nuclear Facility, intended to increase US capacity to produce plutonium bomb cores four-fold, is rumored to take a major budget hit in the FY13 request, coupled with a decade-long delay in construction."
The group also noted, however, that "other ill-conceived nuclear weapons projects are rumored to move 'full steam ahead.'" The Alliance for Nuclear Accountability (ANA), a national network of communities downwind and downstream from US nuclear facilities, is likewise concerned that out of control spending on nuclear weapons and nuclear facilities will divert resources from legally required environmental cleanup, sustainable energy programs, and critical nonproliferation efforts.
HERE ARE SOME KEY QUESTIONS THAT
THE DOE BUDGET SHOULD ADDRESS:
QUESTION: At a time when nuclear stockpiles are being cut, why does the US need expanded production capacity for plutonium pits (the fissile cores or "triggers" of nuclear weapons) and highly enriched uranium (secondaries)?
The Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement-Nuclear Facility would directly support production of plutonium pits, yet the JASONs determined that plutonium pits have a shelf life of 85+ years. If the rumored delay for CMRR-NF is reflected in the FY13 budget request, do the budget expenditures accompanying that delay make sense or are they excessive? Will there be a move to "reopen" the Livermore Lab plutonium facility to weapons usable quantities of fissile material despite its security vulnerabilities?
Moreover, the Uranium Processing Facility as planned is oversized and should be redesigned to dismantle warheads and down-blend uranium.
QUESTION: Will funding for the National Ignition Facility (NIF) remain around $400 million even if it fails to achieve ignition in FY12?
What can the administration do to salvage what science they can from the taxpayers' cumulative $7 billion investment in NIF? Will the DOE consider removing the NIF from National Nuclear Security Administration control in favor of housing it in the Office of Science, with a more modest operating
budget? Will Congress consider this or other options?
QUESTION: Are Stockpile Stewardship programs funding new capabilities for nuclear weapons?
If the DOE has decided to stay with a tested pit design, then why has the overall cost of the B-61 program increased? Is the DOE still considering a dramatically overhauled design for the W78 that would include interoperability between submarines and intercontinental ballistic missiles?
QUESTION: Will the largest share of nonproliferation funding continue to be spent on the Mixed Oxide Plutonium Fuel (MOX) Program? With huge cost increases, schedule delays, unanswered technical questions, and a lack of customers willing to use MOX, will this program ever be viable? Why are other nonproliferation programs that effectively safeguard highly enriched uranium and prevent fissile materials smuggling facing cuts?
QUESTION: What are the consequences of failing to fund legally mandated nuclear cleanup projects?
Is DOE inviting lawsuits brought by states and citizens left stranded by chronic federal underfunding of cleanup projects mandated by previous legal decisions?
Won't delays lead to more contamination, higher costs, and increased health and environmental problems? Won't new weapons production and the MOX program create new waste streams while Cold War nuclear waste still threatens the environment and human health? DOE's budget request: http://www.cfo.doe.gov/crorg/cf30.htm
For further information:
Tri-Valley CAREs: Marylia Kelley (925) 443-7148
Alliance for Nuclear Accountability: Katherine Fuchs (202) 544-0217