Seeking to fulfill the goal of a world without nuclear weapons by taking concrete steps now, the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) explains what’s desired and how it can be accomplished.

ETEC-GRADOAK RIDGE – On Friday mornings at 7:30, what has come to be known as a truly unique Oak Ridge event occurs. The East Tennessee Economic Council’s weekly meeting consists of a packed room of highly motivated and energetic individuals from many of the large and small organizations in the area as well as key leaders of the community, state and nation who are often in attendance. (EDITOR’S NOTE: These meetings remain closed to both the public and the press!)

Even for this audience, normally well read and up to speed on the most recent thinking regarding the political, environmental, even social and cultural events and plans, Ted Sherry’s astute presentation featuring the recently published Nuclear Posture Review Report of April 2010 kept them spellbound for the full 30 minutes of his talk and 10 more minutes of probing questions and candid answers. The National Nuclear Security Administration’s Y-12 Site Office Manager was talking shop with his friends, neighbors and supporters — and the communication was effective.

Wayne Roquemore, chairman of ETEC’s board of directors said that for him Ted’s presentation was eye-opening and reinforced the importance of Y-12’s role in not only national security but international affairs, especially regarding nuclear nonproliferation. Our own “Y-12” — so familiar to us that, as Wayne said, “we often take it for granted” — has far-reaching missions serving the good of the world as a whole.

DODDefense Secretary Robert Gates released the most recent Nuclear Posture Review on April 6, 2010, by stating that it, “… provides a roadmap for implementing President Obama’s agenda for reducing nuclear risks to the United States, our allies and partners, and the international community.” Seeking to fulfill the goal of a world without nuclear weapons by taking concrete steps now, the document explains what’s desired and how it can be accomplished.

For the first time, the prevention of nuclear terrorism and proliferation is placed as the top priority as well as reducing the role and use of nuclear weapons. Yet the policy recognizes that as long as nuclear weapons exist, the U.S. must sustain a safe, secure, and effective nuclear arsenal … and that is where Y-12 comes in.

Every single nuclear weapon in the stockpile contains multiple components from Y-12 and those components return to Y-12 when the weapon is retired or in need of attention to remain viable. A most significant move is the recommended transfer of $5 billion from the Defense Department to the Energy Department over the next several years. This additional funding will enable NNSA to accomplish needed infrastructure improvements, especially to the Uranium Processing Facility at Y-12, without adversely impacting other key needs in the energy arena or environmental cleanup — both key Oak Ridge missions.

This review puts teeth in the declaration made by President Obama at Prague recently. He said the U.S. will “seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” While he recognized this couldn’t be accomplished quickly, he expressed determination to take initial and significant steps toward that goal. Y-12 is a part of this nuclear weapons reduction strategy by disassembling weapons, storing nuclear materials and making some of that material available for peacetime uses already … and we stand ready to do more as needed.

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Source: D. Ray Smith, Y-12 Historian | The Oak Ridger