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
December 15th, 2014
August 11th, 2014
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
March 24th, 2014
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
March 5th, 2014
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
February 19th, 2014
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
October 29th, 2013
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
September 26th, 2013
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).
April 12th, 2013
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
November 5th, 2012
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.
September 25th, 2012
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