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  • Former STRATCOM chief stands by comments on pit production boost, NWMM, Aug 3, 2012
    study that recently suggested the United States could move to a stockpile of 900 total nuclear weapons made waves when he suggested at the Senate hearing last week that Los Alamos could up pit production without CMRR NF by going to two shifts Lab officials had contradicted that position suggesting that CMRR NF was necessary to increase pit production and that the lab could only produce 20 to 30 pits without the facility and Bret Knapp the head of Los Alamos weapons program said in a statement that adding more shifts at PF 4 would not enable the lab to substantially increase production In the past we have examined the possibility of running additional shifts to increase production but we found that that approach was inadequate because of the lack of required analytical chemistry support Knapp said Increased production requires increased analytical capabilities which we do not have but would be provided by the CMRR NF We are not aware of any new or additional analysis which would change this conclusion and we look forward to continuing to provide answers to the technical questions informing the nation s plutonium strategy Cartwright Wait on New LANL Pu Facility Cartwright said that using multiple shifts was not the ideal but he suggested it might be necessary In a day to day routine I don t disagree with them he said In an urgent situation a crisis type situation we ll do a lot of things that would not abrogate safety but would certainly put increased stress on the line to be able to do more things than we re doing more production than we re doing Cartwright also suggested that a possible move to take the size of the nation s stockpile to lower numbers by the Obama Administration could alter the

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2012/NWMM3_3Aug2012.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Senior DoD official raises questions about possible move of UPF, CMRR-NF, NWMM, Aug 3, 2012
    in time to build which helps reduce cost but that means your funding has to go up And we could not see how DOE NNSA could fund both projects within their budget that had been appropriated Because of the funding problems Henry said DoD it suggested it couldn t build both facilities at the same time and it prioritized UPF because of the deteriorating condition of existing uranium facilities at Y 12 But he noted that treating the projects as military construction projects would have significant benefits The approach allows you to up front fund It allows you to understand how much money you re going to have in the out years Henry said But he later added that DoD was not well suited to take over management of the projects From my gut feeling I d have to say that it s one thing for NNSA to have a contractor to say what they want for their specifications and to monitor how it s built But it s completely different to have DoD do it and saying here it is and handing them the key to that Henry said How do we make sure it still meets all the safety bases and the operational issues Although we work closely with them we haven t worked that closely on building kinds of facilities and developing the integration to be able to support something like that Debate Over Provision in House The key component of House language that would shift management of UPF and CMRR NF to DoD is language that authorizes a large chunk of money for both projects In an effort to create stability for the projects and mirror the upfront funding approach used by many military construction projects the legislation authorizes 3 5 billion for CMRR NF and

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2012/NWMM2_3Aug2012.html (2016-02-16)
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  • DNFSB raises new concerns about Los Alamos plutonium facility, NWMM, July 27, 2012
    the facility would react during an earthquake The facility built in the 1970s was not designed to withstand new estimates about the potential for massive earthquakes in Northern New Mexico that could result in ground motions five times stronger than previous estimates The NNSA has poured millions into upgrading the facility but last month the Board suggested that potential exposures from an earth quake induced fire still were nearly four times DOE guidelines The recent upgrades to the Plutonium Facility were undertaken as the result of an analysis completed in 2011 but the lab and NNSA are currently performing a more comprehensive review of the potential impact of an earthquake on the facility that is known as a static nonlinear analysis In his letter Winokur suggested that the static nonlinear analysis would definitively characterize the facility s reaction to large earthquake ground motions but he suggested the Board was concerned by the approach to the study The Board is concerned that the ongoing static nonlinear analysis is proceeding without adequate definition and technical justification Winokur wrote He said the Board wanted a briefing within 30 days on its concerns He did not respond to a request for comment to NW M Monitor Much At Stake For PF 4 The ongoing review could have a significant impact on the future of the Plutonium Facility Previous seismic studies have recognized vulnerabilities but concluded that the facility would not collapse in a massive earthquake But the static nonlinear analysis would take a closer look at those conclusions and could significantly impact if more upgrades are needed There are implications for whether we would expect the Plutonium Facility to collapse and that ties into the dose one official with knowledge of the issues told NW M Monitor Obviously if the building falls down we

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2012/NWMM3_27Jul2012.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Former STRATCOM Chief, Los Alamos square off over pit production, NWMM, July 27, 2012
    In February lab Director Charlie McMillan said that without the facility significant investments in existing infrastructure would only allow the lab to reach an interim capability of 20 to 30 pits per year and he reiterated that stance in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee in April The lab has not produced more than 11 pits since reconstituting the ability to produce pits in 2007 and it has said that it needs to move analytical chemistry work out of PF 4 to help increase production CMRR NF s primary mission involves analytical chemistry and materials characterization Our position has not changed since Director McMillan s Senate testimony in April in which he said in summary The deferral of CMRR NF leaves the nation with no identified capability in chemical analysis and others areas to meet the DoD expectation of 50 to 80 pits per year Bret Knapp the head of Los Alamos weapons program said in a statement to NW M Monitor With significant investments LANL could reach an interim capability level of 20 to 30 pits per year while meeting requirements for safety and security A recent study delivered to NNSA backs that conclusion We still need to invest in a long term capability Lab Double Shifting Inadequate Knapp also suggested that adding more shifts at PF 4 would not enable the lab to substantially increase production In the past we have examined the possibility of running additional shifts to increase production but we found that that approach was inadequate because of the lack of required analytical chemistry support Knapp said Increased production requires increased analytical capabilities which we do not have but would be provided by the CMRR NF We are not aware of any new or additional analysis which would change this conclusion and

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2012/NWMM2_27Jul2012.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Senator: Cost of B61 refurbishment skyrockets to as much as $10 billion, NWMM, July 27, 2012
    upgrade to the gravity bomb would help save money lower demands on the weapons complex and allow for stockpile reductions by consolidating four warhead modifications tactical warheads known as mods 3 4 and 10 and a strategic warhead known as mod 7 into the newest B61 modification known as the B61 12 Specifically the arming fuzing and firing portion of the warhead would be upgraded to increase reliability according to the U S Strategic Command Increased security features would reduce risks if the bomb were to fall into unauthorized hands or be involved in an accident and increased safety would improve weapons handling maintenance and storage The alternative chosen by the Nuclear Weapons Council however did not include all the features that weapons designers had suggested described by NNSA weapons chief Don Cook last year as the Cadillac option leaving out multi point safety and optical firing sets that have driven the cost even higher according to Hans Kristensen the director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists Still the cost has exploded in recent months with little explanation why A Congressional aide said NNSA estimated the base cost of the life extension program at 7 095 billion which includes a contingency of approximately 10 percent or 640 million An additional 819 million of the estimate is for Stockpile Services work associated with technical maturation and component manufacturing work Because of the increased estimates the NNSA is expected to need 413 million in FY 2013 more than the 369 million the Administration requested for the program and 566 million in FY2014 Details of the CAPE study are not available but a staffer said that its work concluded that it would take until 2022 to complete a First Production Unit under the 7 9 billion cost profile The group suggested it would take 10 billion to meet the FPU deadline by 2019 No matter the cost 7 9 billion or 10 billion the new price tag is certain to renew questions among some lawmakers about whether the life extension program There s a lot of concern with the cost of this program and how do you balance it with other priorities the staffer said Is this really the lowest cost option that meets all military requirements Is DoD really sure we re going to go through with this At what point does it become absurd to spend 10 billion on several hundred weapons Feinstein Alexander Take Active Role in Projects Feinstein and Sen Lamar Alexander R Tenn the ranking member of the subcommittee have taken a keen interest in massive NNSA projects that have exceeded their baselines and this week met with NNSA Administrator Tom D Agostino about the Uranium Processing Facility planned for the Y 12 National Security Complex which is currently estimated to cost as much as 6 5 billion up from original estimates of 600 million Senator Alexander and I have been very concerned about the inability to keep these programs within the initial

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2012/NWMM_27Jul2012.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Eight senators fight for CMRR, Los Alamos Monitor, July 25, 2012
    HASC direct construction of CMRR NF while prohibiting the expenditure of funds for the hastily conceived alternative approach which could cost in excess of 1 billion and does not meet DoD requirements We believe that the administration should begin the necessary planning to include in the FY14 budget and beyond funding for CMRR NF s completion In the letter the senators urge the administration and the National Nuclear Security Administration to continue design activities this year and build an out year budget to support construction and operation by 2024 They also urge the administration to work with congressional appropriators to secure funding for CMRR NF in FY 13 and they write that the current NNSA alternative strategy does not meet critical national defense mission requirements The letter was signed by Jon Kyl R Ariz Ben Nelson D Neb John McCain R Ariz Joe Lieberman I Conn Bob Corker R Tenn Johnny Isakson R Ga James Inhofe R Okla and Kelly Ayotte R NH Los Alamos Study Group Executive Director Greg Mello said Given the letter s reliance on decisions made in the Senate Armed Services Committee the absence of Chairman Levin s signature is notable With only eight senators three of whom are just months from retirement this letter is a relatively weak showing for Senator Kyl In 2009 he could get 41 signatures including all the Senate s Republicans It s very likely that most of the letter s signatories don t even know that the military and DoD do not want this facility built right now that in their studied opinion it threatens other NNSA operations and deliverables Mello also claims that the letter is based on false information and made the following points CMRR NF is a key part of the nuclear stockpile stewardship program Senators are

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2012/LAMonitor_25Jul2012.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Senators Appeal to Pentagon to Push for Revival of CMRR-NF Project, NWMM, July 20, 2012
    to build CMRR NF and ensure the United States can maintain a safe secure and effective arsenal over the long term In February the Administration decided to defer work on the project for at least five years as it pursues an alternative plan to meet the nation s plutonium needs but the move triggered backlash in Congress especially among Republicans in the House and Senate Some like Corker have suggested that the Administration s pullback on modernization promises made during debate on the New START Treaty endangered support of future treaties and the Senators reiterated that stance again in the letter to Panetta We believe that the administration should begin the necessary planning and include in the FY14 budget and beyond funding for CMRR NF s completion The Department of Defense and NNSA are collectively responsible for maintaining the nuclear deterrent We therefore urge you to work with the administration and NNSA to continue CMRR NF design activities this year and build an out year budget to support construction and operation by 2024 the Senators wrote noting that language in the final version of the Fiscal Year 2013 Defense Authorization Act was likely to require the completion of the project under that timeline Senators Identify Funding Possibilities Congressional appropriators supported the Administration s plan to defer CMRR NF and pursue an alternative plutonium strategy but authorizers in the House and Senate provided funding to keep the project alive in FY2013 though they differed on how that should be done and the amount of money authorized while prohibiting money from being spent on the Administration s alternative plutonium plans The Senators suggested that action should spur the Pentagon to push to revive the project which according to previous budget projections was expected to need 300 million in FY2013 and they suggested

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2012/NWMM_20Jul2012.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Eight Senators Beg Administration to Build Plutonium Facility, July 20, 2012 press release
    as representatives Michael Turner R OH and Martin Heinrich D NM of the House Armed Services Committee chose not to offer an amendment to fund CMRR NF in floor action on the Energy and Water Appropriations Bill which has now passed the House Senator Reid recently said no appropriations bills will be brought to the Senate floor until after the elections given the disparity in funding allowances between the two houses and the heated election year climate The House and Senate armed services committee versions of the FY13 Defense Authorization Act authorized CMRR NF construction but they cannot provide funds The House version has passed the House The Senate version has not been brought to the floor and may or may not be brought until after the election The Administration has threatened to veto the House bill pdf over sections containing CMRR NF provisions Links to legislation and a comparative analysis of the authorization bills pdf are available from the Study Group as is a detailed critique of the Senate s CMRR NF provisions pdf with earlier format errors corrected In December 2009 Senator Kyl was joined by 40 other senators in a letter warning President Obama that New START would not receive their support unless it was accompanied by an aggressive program of warhead and facility modernization Negotiations with Kyl in late 2010 shaped the Administration s proposed modernization program which was announced that November In February 2011 the Administration requested funding along those lines but Congress provided a smaller funding increase This year s NNSA budget request pdf followed Congress 2011 lead NNSA faced with significant cost overruns in all its major projects discovered there were practical alternatives to CMRR NF and postponed the project indefinitely NNSA Deputy Administrator Don Cook has testified see p 7 here pdf that CMRR NF capabilities are not needed prior to 2028 Of the letter s signatories senators Kyl Lieberman and Nelson are retiring this year Senators Kyl Corker and Isakson do not have Armed Services or Appropriations committee assignments Commentary Study Group Executive Director Greg Mello Given the letter s reliance on decisions made in the Senate Armed Services Committee the absence of Chairman Levin s signature is notable So is the absence of Senator Sessions signature Sessions is the Ranking Member of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee which has responsibility for the NNSA and the Committee s CMRR NF policies With only eight senators three of whom are just months from retirement this letter is a relatively weak showing for Senator Kyl In 2009 he could get 41 signatures including all the Senate s Republicans It s very likely that most of the letter s signatories don t even know that the military and DoD do not want this facility built right now that in their studied opinion it threatens other NNSA operations and deliverables Certainly some effort by Senator Kyl was expected and true to form this is an amalgam of mistaken information election year politicking and thinly veiled threat

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2012/press_release_20Jul2012.html (2016-02-16)
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