The interagency Nuclear Weapons Council (NWC) has formally decided to endorse the proposed Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) concept as the basis of the future U.S. nuclear arsenal, a new report (pdf) from the Congressional Research Service revealed today.
In November 2006, “the NWC determined that the RRW is to be adopted as the strategy for maintaining a long term safe, secure and reliable nuclear deterrent,” the CRS report stated, quoting from new Department of Energy budget documents released this week (at page CRS-26).
It is a momentous decision on which Congress might be expected to weigh in.
Not only that, but RRW development will be funded at the expense of existing nuclear weapons programs, budget documents say, “through reductions in resources required to support legacy weapons” (at page CRS-27).
Defunding work to extend the functional lifetime of existing weapons would tend to foreclose efforts to avoid new nuclear weapons development.
According to a CRS calculation (and subject to future adjustments), the projected budget for the RRW program from FY 2008-2012 would be $725.1 million, including NNSA and Navy funds.
The Congressional Research Service does not release its publications directly to the public. A copy of the new report was obtained by Secrecy News and posted on the Federation of American Scientists web site.
See “Nuclear Weapons: The Reliable Replacement Warhead Program,” updated February 8, 2007.