Ambitious Warhead Life Extension Programs

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By Nickolas Roth, Hans M. Kristensen and Stephen Young

Note: This is the second of four posts analyzing the FY 2012 Stockpile Stewardship Management Plan, each jointly produced by the Federation of American Scientists and Union of Concerned Scientists. See the other posts: 1, 3, 4.

According to the FY2012 Stockpile Stewardship Management Plan (SSMP), from 2011 to 2031, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) plans to spend almost $16 billion on Life Extension Programs (LEPs) to extend the service life and significantly modify almost every warhead in the enduring stockpile. This includes an estimated $3.7 billion on the W88 warhead, $3.9 billion on the B61 bomb, $4.2 billion on the W78 warhead, $1.7 billion on the W76 warhead, and $2.3 billion on the W80-1 warhead. Continue reading

Nuclear Plan Conflicts with New Budget Realities

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By Nickolas Roth, Hans M. Kristensen and Stephen Young

Note: This is the first of four posts analyzing the FY 2012 Stockpile Stewardship Management Plan, each jointly produced by the Federation of American Scientists and Union of Concerned Scientists. See the other posts here: 2, 3, 4.

A new nuclear weapons plan from the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), which seeks further increases in spending over the next decade for nuclear weapons and for weapons production and simulation facilities, will face real challenges in the new budget environment.

The FY2012 Stockpile Stewardship and Management Plan (SSMP), which was sent to Congress in April, is NNSA’s outline of its near- and long-term plans and associated costs for the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile and supporting infrastructure. However, with national security spending facing real cuts below FY2011 levels for the next two years at a minimum, either the NNSA must overcome that trend or cut back on its plans.

The FY2012 SSMP is unclassified but has two secret annexes. The new plan updates, with input from Congress, the FY2011 SSMP published last year, and is the first plan to fully incorporate the recommendations of the Obama administration’s 2010 Nuclear Posture Review. Continue reading