Thinking the President might mention it in his State of the Union Address, I had put up on the FAS website a page on the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, which includes a plan to restart plutonium reprocessing in the United States after a thirty year hiatus. The President did not, in fact, mention the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership specifically but it figured prominently in the Department of Energy’s (DOE) FY2007 budget rollout.
After the DOE budget came out, I needed to update my Global Nuclear Energy Partnership page (which is the number two hit in Google, right after DOE’s page, and the update will be done in a day or so). The one attempt the US ever made at commercial plutonium reprocessing was in West Valley, New York. So I googled “West Valley New York plutonium” to get some information on it. It turns out the DOE wrote a history of plutonium reprocessing at West Valley and it was, as you might expect, the very first Google hit: Plutonium Recovery from Spent Fuel Reprocessing by Nuclear Fuel Services at West Valley, New York from 1966 to 1972, U.S. Department of Energy, February 1996.
The President has submitted a military budget of $440 billion dollars, with request for more than an additional hundred billion for the Iraq war expected later. It is finally time to say that the Pentagon budget has slipped its leash and is out of control. Not in the sense that the country is splashing money around without accounting for it but that the military budget process has escaped from meaningful political review and oversight. The Republicans know their biggest appeal to the American voters is as guarantors of their security, which they interpret as giving the Pentagon whatever it asks for, even as deficits climb. The Democrats are terrified of being seen as soft on defense so they don’t even dare ask questions. In this climate of fear we operate more on momentum than careful analysis and Congress can’t say “No” to the Pentagon on anything.
Just after the FAS Strategic Security blog got going, I had to take a little time off for some surgery. Now I am back. Well most of me is back. My gallbladder is not back, but the rest of me is back.
I understand that the ethos of the blog world is that everything must be up to the second. Comments on the State of the Union address are expected before the speech is finished. But since we are just starting out, I will reach back into ancient history, sometimes are far as several weeks, to get items that are of interest before we settle down.
Next will be a little op-ed like piece.