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  • NNSA Releases Update to Stockpile Stewardship and Management Plan, NSDM, 20 Mar 2015
    2035 The agency left some wiggle room for changes to the plan saying unforeseen technological challenges new requirements and geopolitical events may occur that could affect the priorities on which this strategic plan is built Potential Affordability Issue Projected From FY 2021 to FY 2025 Funding for the NNSA s weapons program under the plan is estimated to peak at between 14 16 billion by FY 2040 but the plan notes that there could be a potential affordability issue from FY 2021 through FY 2025 when the agency is working on four or five life extension programs and several major construction projects including the Uranium Processing Facility Funding needs from FY 2021 to FY 2025 could be as high as 11 12 billion according to the plan The affordability problem coincides with the start of major work on DoD strategic delivery systems including the Ohio Class ballistic missile submarine replacement and Nuclear Weapons Council Chairman Frank Kendall earlier this month suggested the nation could have problems affording modernization plans during that time frame The NNSA did not respond to a request to answer questions about the plan but Administrator Frank Klotz said in a statement that the Congressionally required plan serves as a valuable resource for anyone who wants to better understand the NNSA and how it accomplishes its vital national security missions through the unique scientific engineering and technical expertise resident in our national laboratories and production plants These world class capabilities also support a host of other national security and nonproliferation activities LEP Costs on the Rise Overall the total cost of refurbishing the B61 W88 Alt 370 W80 4 and three interoperable warheads is estimated to cost 67 6 billion up from 61 3 billion last year That figure does not include Department of Defense work on the warheads The plan notes that estimates for the agency s three planned interoperable warheads have grown substantially because the Air Force and Navy will develop separate fuzes for the warheads DoD work on the first interoperable warhead is estimated to cost between 1 5 billion and 4 5 billion while DoD work on the second and third interoperable warheads will cost between 1 7 4 9 billion and 2 5 9 billion respectively The NNSA said the increase was attributable to a decision to develop separate fuzes for the Air Force and Navy portion of the warheads The NNSA portion of the work on the interoperable warheads has also grown A year ago the agency estimated that the cost of the first interoperable warhead which would consolidate the W78 and W88 warheads would cost between 10 2 12 5 billion but this year that estimate has been increased to between 12 5 16 4 billion Likewise the estimate for the second interoperable warhead has grown from between 13 4 15 8 billion to 14 6 19 billion The projected cost of the third interoperable warhead has dipped from 17 6 21 8 billion to 16 1 20 4 billion

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2015/NSDM_20Mar2015.html (2016-02-16)
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  • As Admin. Makes Pitch for Modernization Support, ‘Affordability Problems’ Loom, NSDM, 6 Mar 2015
    and Energy under sequester he said That said we re looking at the percentage of our budget that s involved here We would do our best to protect this area because the strategic deterrent mission area is so vital But Kendall said it would be very difficult to protect everything forcing tough choices We are going to be doing a lot of things we regard as unacceptable under sequestration he said after the hearing So there is no free lunch in there anywhere There are no easy good choices left We re already at a point with the current level of the budget where we re out of easy good choices or things we could take that are relatively painless It all gets painful when you get there Klotz If Sequestration Hits NNSA Will Collaborate With DoD on Priorities In a March 2 speech at the Air Force Association Klotz said any decisions about prioritizing work in case of sequestration haven t been made and he said those decisions will only be made in consultation with the Department of Defense We will have to prioritize but it will be a collaborative effort Klotz said This will have to be a dialogue if we get to that and our great hope is we don t have to get to that If we get to that this will have to be a collaborative discussion with the Department of Defense in terms of what their priorities are and where they will go forward with particular delivery systems under the same conditions of sequestration that we have to deal with Klotz said previously that sequestration cuts could force the Administration to delay or cancel the NNSA s surveillance and life extension programs He emphasized that decisions must be made with DoD in part because budget cuts would impact warhead work as well as the modernization of nuclear delivery systems at the same time It s all part of the national defense budget he said If that s hit by sequestration or some variant of that in the way of budget caps it s going to affect both of us and the trades the option space that will have to be considered could impact the entire budget Will Budget Caps be Bumped Up for Defense President Obama requested 561 billion for defense activities in Fiscal Year 2016 38 billion more than budget caps established in the Budget Control Act Rep Mac Thornberry R Texas the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee has pushed the House Budget Committee to relax the caps and allow for 577 billion in defense spending in FY 2016 If this is not feasible in the first year the committee recommends at a minimum last year s House passed Budget Resolution level of 566 0 billion for national defense in the base budget for FY16 with restoration to pre sequestration level funding in FY17 and out Thornberry said in a Feb 27 letter to House Budget Committee Chairman Rep Tom Price

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2015/NSDM_6Mar2015.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Opinion: A Legally-Binding Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, IPS, 6 Mar 2015
    the Action Plan is a long term roadmap that should be rolled over for at least another review cycle This is an extremely retrogressive approach to what should be an opportunity for meaningful action Negotiating an instrument to fulfill article VI of the NPT would hardly undermine the Treaty On the contrary it would finally bring the nuclear armed states into compliance with the legal obligations Those countries that possess or rely on nuclear weapons often highlight the importance of the NPT for preventing proliferation and enhancing security Yet these same countries more than any other states parties do the most to undermine the Treaty by preventing avoiding or delaying concrete actions necessary for disarmament It is past time that the NPT nuclear armed states and their nuclear dependent allies fulfill their responsibilities commitments and obligations or risk undermining the very treaty regime they claim to want to protect Their failure to implement their commitments presents dim prospects for the future of the NPT The apparent expectation that this non compliance can continue in perpetuity allowing not only for continued possession but also modernisation and deployment of nuclear weapon systems is misguided The 2015 Review Conference will provide an opportunity for other governments to confront and challenge this behaviour and to demand concerted and immediate action This is the end of a review cycle it is time for conclusions to be drawn States parties will have to not only undertake a serious assessment of the last five years but will have to determine what actions are necessary to ensure continued survival of the NPT and to achieve all of its goals and objectives including those on stopping the nuclear arms race ceasing the manufacture of nuclear weapons preventing the use of nuclear weapons and eliminating existing arsenals The recent renewed investigation of the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons is a good place to look for guidance The 2010 NPT Review Conference expressed deep concern at the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons Since then especially at the series of conferences hosted by Norway Mexico and Austria these consequences have increasingly become a focal point for discussion and proposed action Governments are also increasingly raising the issue of humanitarian impacts in traditional forums with 155 states signing a joint statement at the 2014 session of the UN General Assembly highlighting the unacceptable harm caused by nuclear weapons and calling for action to ensure they are never used again under any circumstances The humanitarian initiative has provided the basis for a new momentum on nuclear disarmament It has involved new types of actors such as the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and a new generation of civil society campaigners The discussion around the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons should be fully supported by all states parties to the NPT The humanitarian initiative has also resulted in the Austrian Pledge which commits its government and any countries that wish to

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2015/IPS_6Mar2015.html (2016-02-16)
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  • 3 U.S. Nuclear War Labs Should Be Shut, OEN, 6 Mar 2015
    with redesigned models that will actually make them more destructive threatening further to destabilize our relationship with Russia and with their new delivery systems will cost taxpayers over time more than an estimated one trillion dollars Mello said In a talk Feb 28th to the Helen Caldicott Foundation conference on The Dynamics of Possible Nuclear Extinction in the New York Academy of Medicine Mello said the labs are the primary institutions through by which corporate prerogatives have replaced government decision making in the nuclear weapons arena The labs were given sweeping new powers in 1996 Mello recalled and since 2006 all are fully privatized They now wield enormous policy power by a variety of means both crude and subtle direct and indirect and they do not hesitate to blackmail government whenever that power is threatened Nuclear weapons should be banned as dozens of countries are now considering Mello said and the nuclear weapons laboratories should be closed entirely as part of such a ban After 25 years of close examination of the labs he continued we have finally concluded and for the first time that the labs have no unique role in disarmament nonproliferation verification cleanup intelligence or in any other mission that cannot be performed more objectively cheaper and better by other institutions All government led and civil society efforts at reform have failed Privatization deepened the conflict of interest at the labs since now the three labs directors corporate officers have a legal responsibility to advise the Secretary of Energy and the President regarding the nuclear stockpile while also having a legal responsibility to bring in more business Mello warned What s more he pointed out The corporations are fully indemnified and protected from the consequences of their many failures misuses of funds violations of law and accidents

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2015/OEN_6Mar2015.html (2016-02-16)
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  • State wants decades of records on LANL’s handling of nuke waste, SFNM, 24 Feb 2015
    dated Feb 17 the Environment Department set a deadline of March 9 for the lab to hand over its internal reviews of waste management practices and other records pertaining to waste handling between 2006 and the present or face fines of up to 10 000 a day A senior LANL official said the lab plans to comply with the order and provide the records on time Federal reports released since the Valentine s Day 2014 radiation leak at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant also known as WIPP and internal lab documents obtained by The New Mexican under the federal Freedom of Information Act have raised questions about the way LANL handled and documented nuclear waste The drum that ruptured at WIPP contained highly acidic nitrate salts an organic kitty litter absorbent and an acid neutralizer added at Los Alamos outside the bounds of its permit issued by the state Environment Department However in its formal description of the package LANL did not report the waste s unusually high acidity nor the presence of neutralizer and the description explicitly misstated that an inorganic clay variety of absorbent was used It references a set of documents submitted to the department by the lab last May that include an inventory of 707 drums thought to contain nitrate salts Lab officials repeatedly have said the drum that ruptured at WIPP was unique in its volatility But the Environment Department questions whether more troublesome waste might exist but not be readily recognizable if LANL mislabeled it like it had the drum that burst NMED has reason to believe that certain internal reviews of waste handling practices have been recently completed which indicate the total number of drums that may have been mislabeled is more significant than previously thought Turner said Missteps at LANL involving the

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2015/SFNM_24Feb2015.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Amid safety concerns at LANL, Udall weighs in on lab’s next mission: Pit production, SFNM, 21 Feb 2015
    on a seismically active fault raises concerns about whether it will ever be truly fit for the mission The pits manufactured at Los Alamos would be used to maintain the U S nuclear arsenal They would replace aging components in existing weapons But some critics question whether replacing triggers is necessary yet Some scientific reports suggest the national nuclear arsenal can function without replacing pits for many more decades Udall said whether the components truly need to be replaced is a question he d like to see answered definitively Even though he s often regarded as a champion of the lab and other sites in the state tied to the national nuclear weapons campaign Udall said he supports a shift in the U S nuclear posture that would alleviate the need for pit production of the magnitude called for in the budget What I hope for is that we have aggressive efforts by our president and by the Senate and we get nuclear agreements in place where we can reduce the amount of weapons and we need fewer pits and you don t have to have the robust kind of facility that some people talk about he said As Los Alamos prepares to embark on its latest mission lingering questions about its culture of safety abound A volatile mix of chemicals caused a drum of nuclear waste from the lab to rupture Feb 14 2014 at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad also known as WIPP The lab had failed to disclose the dangerous mix it had created in the drum by omitting some of the drum s contents in a formal description of the waste and lying about others The radiation leak has prevented WIPP the nation s foremost repository for waste from Cold War era weapons production from receiving waste shipments for more than a year Los Alamos and other national labs that relied on the dump are housing waste on site until WIPP reopens Some activities could resume at the site come early next year but full operations at WIPP could still be years away There s radioactive waste all across the country that needs to be disposed of in that site and now that s been stopped because of this mistake Udall said The radiation leak at WIPP and missteps in Los Alamos and Carlsbad that led up to it motivated the New Mexico Environment Department to propose more than 54 million in fines against the U S Department of Energy and its contractors that manage the sites The Energy Department is fighting the fines and in a budget summary for next year the department proposes to use money earmarked for environmental cleanup at LANL to pay the nearly 37 million in fines levied against Los Alamos if necessary New Mexico Environment Department Secretary Ryan Flynn opposes using cleanup funds to pay the fines he said in a letter announcing the fines in December Doing so Flynn wrote only serves to punish New Mexico for

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2015/SFNM_21Feb2015.html (2016-02-16)
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  • DOE: Cleanup fund will pay WIPP fines, ABQ JRNL, 21 Feb 2015
    stance the 185 million that LANL is budgeted to receive for fiscal year 2016 for cleanup of radioactive and hazardous waste would be reduced by the 37 million in fines that the state wants for LANL s role in the WIPP leak NMED has also fined WIPP 17 million NMED Secretary Ryan Flynn has previously argued that the fines which the DOE is appealing shouldn t come from cleanup dollars In that case he said in November you re not punishing the people who caused the problem you re punishing the people of New Mexico who benefit from the environmental cleanup work He added in a prepared comment provided Friday Essentially DOE is threatening to punish states by doing less cleanup work if states attempt to hold it accountable for violating federal and state environmental laws States like New Mexico welcome federal facilities into our communities with the understanding that these facilities will respect the health and safety of our citizens by complying with federal and state laws Flynn told the Journal last week that the DOE s resistance to paying the WIPP leak fines sets a dangerous precedent breaks with past practice by the DOE and is at odds with the Obama administration s tough stance on other kinds of environmental problems The drum leak contaminated nearly two dozen WIPP workers with low levels of radiation WIPP isn t expected to start reopening until next year and getting the facility back in operation is projected to cost a half billion dollars Flynn said last week that the problem drum could have exploded while stored above ground at Los Alamos or on a highway during transport to Carlsbad The DOE had no comment Friday But DOE assistant Environmental Management secretary Mark Whitney told the Weapons Complex Monitor in an article

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2015/ABQJRNL_21Feb2015.html (2016-02-16)
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  • With LRSO Accelerated, Air Force Pushes up RFP to Fourth Quarter of FY 2015, NSDM, 6 Feb 2015
    between costs and capability requirements Officials hope to lower prices by offering more wiggle room for capability specifications We believe that by gathering data from a range of sources it should be possible to identify instances where perhaps small changes in capability could have a very large impact on cost James said during a speech last month at Atlantic Council in Washington And this in turn if we would choose to exercise such an option could mean that the Air Force could develop much more affordable weapon systems Trident 2 Would See Extensive Modifications Another big ticket item in the FY 2016 budget request is a request for 1 2 billion to fund the ongoing life extension program for Trident 2s which includes research and development and procurement funding The request largely matches current funding levels and composes about 37 percent of the Navy s FY 2016 programmed procurement budget According to budget documents the LEP entails procurement of missile electronic and guidance supportability mods and Strategic Programs Alteration kits FY 2016 funding for work on the Trident D5 specifically includes the development of advanced components to improve the reliability safety and security of arming fuzing and firing systems and studies to support the National Nuclear Security Administration s W88 Alt 370 warhead program The 1 2 billion would fund procurements of flight test instrumentation 12 solid rocket motors the post boost control system 35 LEP kits support equipment and spares Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor for Trident 2 modifications Request Includes Plus Ups for ICBM Programs The President s FY 2016 budget proposal also requests increases for several Air Force nuclear programs including 142 6 million for research and development on intercontinental ballistic missile fuze modernization up from the FY 2015 enacted 59 8 million and 178 9 million for Minuteman squadrons up from the current appropriated amount of 139 1 million On Oct 1 the Air Force is expected to award a contract for the Minuteman 3 propulsion system under the new Air Force managed Future ICBM Sustainment and Acquisition Construct ICBM management is switching from a contractor based model to a service based one The FY 2016 proposal also asks for 32 5 million for modification of B 2s 8 6 million more than the 23 9 million enacted in FY 2015 and 38 8 million for B 2 post production support a decrease from FY 2015 enacted levels of 44 8 million For B 52 modification the Air Force is requesting 149 million compared with the FY 2015 enacted amount of 176 5 million and for B 52 post production support the service is requesting 5 9 million approximately the same as the FY 2015 enacted amount of 5 2 million The Air Force also requested 94 million for ballistic missiles 13 8 million more than the FY 2015 enacted amount Mike McCord Under Secretary of Defense Comptroller also said during a Feb 2 Pentagon budget briefing that DoD plans to continue its posture of

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2015/NSDM_6Feb2015.html (2016-02-16)
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