plutonium


The Human Side of Nuclear Weapons Issues in the FY20 Defense Bill

Lilly Adams, , UCS

Editors Note: January 27, 2020 is the “National Day of Remembrance for Downwinders”—a day to acknowledge the extreme harm caused to those exposed to radiation and fallout from atmospheric nuclear weapons tests conducted in the United States. UCS stands with these communities in their fight for compensation, through the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA), for the health consequences and deaths resulting from this testing. Join us in calling on members of Congress to support legislation to expand and extend RECA, which is currently set to expire in 2022. You can read more about recent developments and current legislation on RECA below.

Tonight, President Trump is expected to sign the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)  at Joint Base Andrews, a defense budget bill totaling a stunning $738 billion. Much attention has been given to the many ways that Democrats lost out on progressive priorities in this bill. The nuclear arms control and disarmament community lost hard-fought battles over issues like the low-yield warhead, and overall spending levels on nuclear weapons systems.

UCS’s President Ken Kimmel put out an important statement on these issues, urging members of Congress to vote “no” on this dangerous bill. But many nuclear weapons-related issues have been flying under the radar, especially those relating to the communities directly impacted by nuclear weapons production and testing. Here’s a run-down of the issues nuclear policy wonks might have missed in their analysis of the NDAA.

Read more >

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The House is Setting a New, More Rational Direction for US Nuclear Policy

, analyst

The House today began debating its version of the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, Congress’ annual effort to oversee US security policy and set defense program funding levels. What’s different this year is the bill signals a new, much-needed change in direction for US nuclear weapons policy, one that would reduce the nuclear threat and cut some spending on these weapons.

The House bill stands in stark contrast with the version the Senate passed easily in late June, which would fully fund the Trump administration’s nuclear programs and in some cases even increase funding. We support passage of the House version of the NDAA; if its version becomes law, it will be a victory not only for US security, but also for common sense. Read more >

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What Does North Korea Want—and What is the US Prepared to Give?

, former co-director

North Korea is not likely to negotiate in earnest unless it is convinced the United States is committed to the process. It is important that the administration put together a package of what it is willing to put on the table in response to Pyongyang’s steps. Read more >

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Another Nail in the Coffin of the Misguided MOX Program

, Director of Nuclear Power Safety, Climate & Energy

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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