The NNSA stockpile plan includes $3.5 billion for a new uranium-processing facility at Oak Ridge and funding for a planned $4 billion facility to handle plutonium at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.
The Obama administration’s 20-year plan for the U.S. nuclear arsenal would reduce the number of deployed and stored warheads from 5,000 to a range of 3,000 to 3,500 and significantly increase spending on the complex that maintains them, according to newly disclosed documents.
Unclassified sections of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s plan show that annual costs for the weapons complex would increase from about $7 billion in fiscal 2011 to $8.4 billion in 2017 and more than $9 billion by 2030.
The agency’s infrastructure will support “active, logistic spare and reserve warheads,” according to the plan, but it will not be “designed to have the capacity to support a return to historical Cold War stockpiles, or rapidly respond to large production spikes.”
The plan does not say how many of the 3,000 to 3,500 warheads would be active or deployed.
The documents, which were sent in May to key members of the House and Senate Armed Services and Appropriations committees, were made public this week by the Federation of American Scientists and the Union of Concerned Scientists, two nonpartisan groups specializing in nuclear weapons.
The stockpile plans are expected to be discussed Thursday as two Senate panels hear testimony on the new U.S.-Russia Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) from the directors of the nation’s three nuclear weapons laboratories.
Republican critics of the nuclear treaty have said that before they vote on ratification, they need assurance that the United States will continue rebuilding the weapons complex and refurbishing and replacing the aging nuclear stockpile, which includes some bombs and warheads that are 30 years old.
At least eight Republican votes are needed to get the two-thirds vote for Senate ratification of the treaty.
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Source: The Wall Street Journal
Photo: National Nuclear Security Administration