nuclear weapons complex


Another Nail in the Coffin of the Misguided MOX Program

, senior scientist

In the Fiscal Year 2018 omnibus spending bill passed by the House of Representatives yesterday and the Senate today, Congress is taking an encouraging step toward terminating the wasteful and dangerous Mixed Oxide (MOX) Fuel Fabrication Plant, under construction at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina. The MOX plant, if completed, would be used to dispose of 34 metric tons of excess plutonium from the U.S. nuclear weapons program by turning it into fuel for nuclear reactors. However, the project is decades behind schedule and is now expected to cost upwards of $50 billion—ten times the original estimate. Read more >

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The Case of the “Low-Yield” Trident Warhead

, Washington representative and senior analyst

Among the nuclear weapons programs included in the Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review, only one could start this year and be fully implemented in 2019. The military could field a “low-yield” nuclear warhead for the Trident missiles carried by US submarines.

What is this new warhead capability, and where does the proposal stand? Read more >

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Cuts to the Fissile Materials Stockpile

, analyst

The Final Countdown

The United States maintains stockpiles of weapons-usable fissile materials—plutonium and highly enriched uranium (HEU)—that are much larger than needed. This material is a security risk, and is also expensive to store safely. Some of this fissile material has already been declared “excess to military needs” and is awaiting disposition. Even after that excess material is disposed of, however, the United States will still have far more material than it needs for its current or future arsenal. President Obama should declare additional material excess and schedule it for disposition as soon as possible. If done correctly, this would reduce opportunities for nuclear terrorism. It would also be a step toward making nuclear reductions more difficult to reverse.

Read more >

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Cuts to the Hedge

, analyst

It’s Now or Never

One of the things President Obama could still do before leaving office is to cut the “hedge” force. These are nuclear weapons that the United States keeps in reserve for two reasons: technical and geopolitical. The argument for the technical hedge is that, if deployed weapons of one type experienced a problem, the U.S. could instead deploy weapons of another type from the hedge force. The geopolitical argument is that the international security situation could change, leading the United States to want to increase the number of deployed weapons. Read more >

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JASON Critiques the 3+2 Nuclear Stockpile Plan

, Washington representative and senior analyst

Yesterday the National Nuclear Security Administration posted the executive summary of a study by JASON, the independent science advisory group, of the “3+2” program to replace most of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile with a suite of new weapons. The summary is deeply skeptical of the 3+2 approach, noting several potential problems and offering only lukewarm support for some of the benefits that the programs’ supporters tout. Read more >

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