Stephen Young

About the author: Mr. Young has an MA in International Affairs from Columbia University. He served as a fellow in the Bureau of Human Rights at the State Department, as Senior Information Specialist at ACCESS: A Security Information Service, as Co-Legislative Director of 20/20 Vision, as Senior Analyst at the British American Security Information Council, and as Deputy Director of the Coalition to Reduce Nuclear Dangers, a national alliance of 17 major nuclear disarmament organizations. He joined UCS in 2001. Areas of expertise: U.S. nuclear weapons policy, nuclear terrorism, ballistic missile defense, arms control and international security, issue advocacy

Obama’s Nuclear Legacy

With two years left in office, President Obama still has time to shape his legacy. Given the challenges presented by a Republican-controlled Congress, further legislative success is unlikely. But that still leaves lots of opportunities to act without Congress, as we are witnessing with climate change and immigration. There is another area where the president could enhance his legacy dramatically. It is also an issue to which President Obama has a deep personal commitment, where the authority is in his hands, and where he could direct changes that would make every American safer. Read More

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Senate’s Good Work on Nuclear Weapons All for Naught?

As has happened far too often in recent years, the appropriations process in Congress is a shambles. There is no chance that any of the thirteen annual bills that fund the U.S. government will be signed into law by the end of the fiscal year on September 30th. Instead, there will be a Continuing Resolution (CR) that funds the government at the same level as the current fiscal year. The only question is how long a time period the CR will cover.

Among the many reasons that this is unfortunate are the sound decisions on nuclear weapons programs that populate the Senate version of the Fiscal Year 2015 Energy and Water Development appropriations act and its accompanying report, including well-considered funding levels, that may never become law. Read More

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Fixing the NNSA: Expect Delays

On March 26, the House Armed Services Committee is scheduled to have a hearing to receive words of wisdom from a Congressionally-mandated “Congressional Advisory Panel on the Governance of the Nuclear Security Enterprise,” which is government-speak for trying to fix the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). Read More

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Highlights from the FY15 NNSA Budget Highlights

Yesterday the Obama administration released the broad brushstrokes of its Fiscal Year 2015 budget request. In the process, they sent a clear signal that the administration is focusing on maintaining the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile while devoting fewer resources to preventing terrorists from acquiring nuclear materials. The choice is particularly noteworthy in light of the administration’s 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, which explicitly placed “preventing nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism” as the first objective of U.S. nuclear policy. Read More

Categories: Nuclear Weapons  

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A Brief History of the New ICBM

In January of 2013, the Air Force announced that it was conducting a “ground-based strategic deterrent analysis of alternatives,” which is military-speak for looking at options to replace the current silo-based, long-range Minuteman III missiles, which are armed with one to three nuclear warheads and deployed across the central plains of the United States. Read More

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Performance Drives the B61 Bomb Update

If you look at what officials say about the life extension program for the B61 nuclear bomb, they mention again and again how old the warhead is. Here is Don Cook, NNSA’s deputy administrator of defense programs, before the House energy and water appropriations subcommittee on February 14, 2013:

We have engaged in a thorough analysis of what’s required to extend the life of the oldest weapon we have in the deterrent, and that is the B61. There are elements of that weapon that are 40 years old; a lot that are 30 years old. There are fewer that are 20 years old. Read More

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JASON on the B61 Life Extension Program

JASON and the B61

Talos, the bronze giant from the 1963 film version of Jason and the Argonauts, seizes a B61-11.

At the request of Congress, in 2012 the independent science advisory group JASON reviewed the planned life extension program (LEP) for the B61 nuclear bomb—the so-called 3B option. This option includes modest changes to the nuclear explosive package (NEP).

The review (released publicly here for the first time) considered two questions: Read More

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Budgeting on a Napkin

On Wednesday, the Obama administration released its FY2014 federal budget request, more than two months after the normal deadline. The reasons for the delay – uncertainty due to the Budget Control Act, the sequester, and the complications around them – are well known, but even in that light some of the information released was thin in the extreme. Read More

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Too Much, Too Late: The DOD’s Assessment of the B61 Life Extension Program

As has been widely reported, the DOD estimates that the B61 Life Extension Program will cost $10 billion, more than twice the estimate the NNSA had a little over a year ago. What has not been noted is that the DOD expects that the first updated warhead, what is called the “first production unit,” will not appear until at least 2022, three years AFTER the NNSA has stated it absolutely must be deployed.

That fact emerges from DOD’s cost estimate, which we obtained a copy of and are releasing now. Read More

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The CMRR: Not Dead Yet

RLUOB Los Alamos National Laboratory

CMRR’s phase one, the radiological laboratory, also known as the part that got built.

The Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement-Nuclear Facility (CMRR-NF) is not quite dead, but it is headed that way. The Union of Concerned Scientists already made its case for that outcome. We supported the administration’s proposed five year delay for the new nuclear weapons-related plutonium facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory. As we said, “there is no clear need for the CMRR-NF as currently proposed.” It simply isn’t needed.

Recent developments have come in a “two steps forward, one step back” slide toward delaying the facility. As we’ll see below, Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) argues such delay means the eventual demise of the facility, but the administration continues to argue to the contrary. Read More

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