Jeffrey LewisRRW Gets $15 M in 6.2A Dough

If that headline makes sense to you, welcome home.

If not, it means that the Appropriations Conference committee agreed to provide $15 million in paper studies funding for the Reliable Replacement Warhead, according to a press release from Senator Feinstein’s office:

The members of the House and Senate Conference Committee for the FY’08 Defense Appropriations bill today approved language to limit funding for the development of the controversial Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) program to $15 million, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) announced.

[snip]

The Conferees also included language to restrict the funding to Phase 2A, design definition and cost study.

“This Conference report clearly states that RRW funding is restricted to Phase 2A: design definition and cost study,” Senator Feinstein said. “Opening the door to a new nuclear weapons program is a course we should not pursue. I remain opposed to funding the development of the RRW program until Congress has had the opportunity to have a more thorough, detailed and bipartisan analysis of our nuclear weapons policy and posture.”

[snip]

In August, Senator Feinstein introduced a bill to cut all funding for the Reliable Replacement Warhead Program through Fiscal Year 2010, and require the Administration to conduct in-depth reviews of U.S. nuclear policy and posture.

I somehow totally missed this, until I spotted it on Nukes of Hazard, who really outwonked me. (It’s a very nice blog that features occasional contributions from regular reader and Iowan Max Postman.)

Still, the old dog has a couple of tricks. The Nuclear Strategy and Nonproliferation Initiative will be hosting a private dinner with Senator Feinstein in early December to talk about S. 1914 The Nuclear Policy and Posture Review Act of 2007, the RRW and the future of US nuclear weapons policy.

More details to follow.

Comments

  1. CKR (History)

    $15 million is really not much – $5 million for each of the three weapons labs, about ten engineers/scientists each.

  2. James (History)

    It’s the kind of money you throw at a project when you don’t want the political heat that comes from killing it. But it does remain alive as long as people are getting paid to work on it. That means they get to have the debate all over again next year when the program is up for renewal. The B-1 bomber survived for years on funding for “flight testing” and “research” that did little more than keep the prototypes from being scrapped.

  3. bob massman (History)

    Senator Feinstein, et al, are just playing the b.s. polical game.

    She and others know that we are not going to uninvent the nuclear weapon and that it will remain a part of our defense posture.

    The real crime is leaving the sensitive HE systems in the Stockpile. Replacing these systems with IHE makes a big improvemet in our ability to protect our nukes from the bad guys.

    The protection strategy for U.S. sites with nuclear explosives is “Denial” of hands-on by the bad guys and SHE systems make this very challenging.

    Maintaining a Stockpile with out full/part-scale testing makes no sense to me. If it’s our deterrent, it damn well ought to work without doubt.

    Now, there. That ought to fire up some discussion 🙂

  4. Stephen Young (History)

    Just to be clear, this is Defense Appropriations, so the $15 million is out of the $30 million requested for preparing to modify Trident missiles to carry the first RRW warhead.

    The big RRW cache is in the Energy & Water Appropriations bill, where the Bush administration asked for $88.8 million for continuing work on the RRW, including finishing Phase 2A and possibly moving on the Phase 3 Engineering Design and Development if approved by the Nuclear Weapons Council. The House eliminated all funding for this part of RRW work, while the Senate Appropriations committee cut it to $66 million, but has not (and never will) passed a free standing E&W approps bill.

    What seems likely is some type of omnibus bill combining some or all of the unfinished appropriations bills. Such a bill would set out how much money could/should to the RRW program. The $15 million in Defense Approps, signed by Bush, is set in stone, but it unclear if an omnibus bill, which will likely include more total (top line) funding than Bush requested, will ever survive an expected Bush veto. If that is the case, a full-year Continuing Resolution is possible if not likely.

    A related note: the Defense Authorization bill is likely to limit work on RRW (no matter how it is funded) to Phase 2A, the Design and Cost study.

    A wise Congress (if determined to provide some money for RRW) would actually limit money to what is called for in the Jason’s study, e.g., additional tests that would determine if it will be possible to certify a new RRW warhead without nuclear testing.

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