Jeffrey LewisSustaining the Nuclear Enterprise – A New Approach

Two weeks ago, John Fleck at the Albuquerque Journal reported (subscription only) that the nuclear weapons labs are lining up behind a plan to scrap the curent “Stockpile Stewardship Program” developed to maintain US nuclear weapons without testing:

The United States’ current approach to maintaining its nuclear arsenal “looks increasingly unsustainable,” according to an internal report by senior officials at the nation’s three nuclear weapons labs.

The nuclear weapons program’s future costs exceed the available budget, and the effort to maintain aging warheads is forcing the nation to retain a larger nuclear arsenal than would otherwise be needed, the report concludes.

Completed last month, the report’s findings mirror in some respects those of a key House of Representatives subcommittee.

The House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee issued a report last month calling for a sweeping reorganization of the U.S. nuclear weapons complex as part of its proposed 2006 Department of Energy budget.

A quartet of Scientists at Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos and Sandia drafted the 10 page report—entitled Sustaining the Nuclear Enterprise – A New Approach.

Somehow I missed all of this, despite the fact that John mentioned it on his excellent blog, Nukebeat, and another dedicated to Albuquerque happenings, Cocoposts.

About a week later, Roger Snodgrass at the Los Alamos Monitor got his copy. He called it the “Overskei Report” after Dr. David Overskei, Chair of the Secretary of Energy’s Advisory Board. John Fleck believes the Oveseki report—requested by Congress—is a different report. Either way, Snodgrass noted that Sustaining the Nuclear Enterprise strongly favors the Reliable Replacement Warhead Program:

[Sustaining the Nuclear Enterprise ] called for additional studies toward reforming and consolidating the nuclear weapons complex around the idea of the RRW as “the most viable path to the future.”

Still, your humble Wonk remained clueless.

Now, Kyodo News has obtained a copy.

Still waiting, in case anybody wants to help me out.

[Okay, here it is.]


  1. Coco (History)

    Thanks for the link, Wonk.

    Steadfast in confusion, Coco

  2. Josh Narins (History)

    Found some other material on this report from the Los Alamos Monitor and the Australian state news agency, ABC

    Here’s Senator Pete Domenici’s (R-NM) press release on the whole bill

    The only critic in any of this comes from the Los Alamos Monitor piece:

    Greg Mello of the Los Alamos Study Group, a public interest group based in Albuquerque, raised an issue in a recent e-mail:

    “The ‘stockpile stewardship’ that the three weapons laboratories now find to be inadequate (‘unsustainable’ is the precise word, sustainability being the exact purpose of the program) is the same plan they invented in 1994 over the technical objections of many former and independent scientists,” he wrote. “The laboratories consistently have been quite upbeat about the stewardship program in testimony, and their budgets have risen substantially under its auspices.”

    I’m pretty dubious, considering no numbers are presented in the 10 page paper.