FY14 NNSA Budget: Scarce Resources Devoted to Nuclear Weapons

June 24, 2013 | 3:53 pm
Eryn MacDonald

The president’s FY14 budget requests $11.65 billion for the NNSA, about $190 million more than the organization’s funding under the FY13 Continuing Resolution, and $650 million more than its FY12 appropriation.  The requested increase comes in a year of tight budgets all around, where most governments programs face stagnant or declining budgets. Notably, for all federal programs, the administration’s request completely ignores the budget cuts mandated by the sequester. Unless Congress finds a different solution, the NNSA will have to cut about $600 million overall below the FY14 request. 

As the table above illustrates, however, if the overall NNSA budget is funded at the requested level in FY14, it is programs to maintain and modernize nuclear weapons that would benefit from this increase.  Nonproliferation programs—those that reduce the threat from the spread of nuclear weapons—would still see substantial cuts. The real reduction is even larger because two counterterrorism programs have been moved from Weapons Activities into this category. These programs add roughly $250 million to the total Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation budget. If these programs had not been added, the overall total would be down by $520 million in FY 2014, or 22%.

Funding for dismantlement programs—those that disassemble retired weapons and dispose of the resulting materials—would fall as well.

One bright spot in this picture, however, is that the cuts in nonproliferation programs do include a sizeable cut to the mixed oxide (MOX) fuel program, a dangerous and expensive method of disposing of surplus weapons plutonium. Funding for this program was cut by $118 million in the FY14 request, a reduction of nearly 30%, while the contractor provides updated cost estimates and the administration assesses alternative strategies for disposal.

The table above provides just the topline numbers for NNSA’s two big programs. For details on the FY14 request and its impact on specific programs, see our budget analysis.