Saturday, January 16, 2010

US Nuke Budget, Rise 10%?


Saturday, January 16, 2010
Nuke Budget May Rise 10 Percent
By John Fleck
Copyright © 2010 Albuquerque Journal Journal Staff Writer    
    The Obama administration is preparing to ask Congress for a 10 percent increase in the U.S. nuclear weapons budget, according to an internal memo.
    The National Nuclear Security Administration' s budget for nuclear weapons research, development, maintenance and manufacturing would rise to $7 billion in 2010, up from $6.38 billion this year, according to a Dec. 22 memo from Energy Secretary Steven Chu to the Office of Management and Budget.
    The weapons program funds work at Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories, which together employ about 20,000 New Mexicans.
    The memo, a copy of which was obtained by the Journal, outlines a preliminary deal worked out between OMB and the Department of Energy, the federal agency with jurisdiction over the weapons program.
    Administration officials have repeatedly declined comment on the budget request pending its formal release next month, but the increase discussed in Chu 's memo has been widely expected. The budget request goes to Congress, which must then determine a final spending level for fiscal year 2011, which begins Oct. 1.
    According to the memo, the Defense Department has agreed to contribute some money from its budget in future years to help the Energy Department fund nuclear weapons work.
    The memo says the Defense Department money — $145 million per year — would be used to fund nuclear weapons surveillance, in which old nuclear weapons are routinely removed from the arsenal and dismantled to look for problems caused by aging. The additional money also would support basic nuclear weapons science, engineering and technology work done at the labs.
    The proposed funding increase comes as the Obama administration is trying to win support for a new arms control treaty with the Russians.
    In a Dec. 15 letter, 40 Republican senators and independent Joe Lieberman wrote that any arms control reductions need to be accompanied by money to modernize the remaining U.S. nuclear arsenal, along with the labs and plants that maintain the nuclear weapons.
    Chu 's memo is silent on several key questions, including whether the administration will heed the Republicans' request to fund design of a next-generation nuclear weapon. The memo also is silent on how much the administration might request for replacement of Los Alamos National Laboratory's cold war-era plutonium laboratory. Federal officials have long pushed for a new plutonium lab, but the multibillion- dollar price tag has repeatedly gotten in the way.
    In addition to the increase in nuclear weapons spending, the administration also anticipates asking for a 26 percent hike in spending on nuclear nonproliferation programs, to $2.7 billion, according to the memo.
    Significant parts of that work also are done at Sandia and Los Alamos .

Greg Mello * Los Alamos Study Group *
2901 Summit Place NE * Albuquerque , NM 87106
505-265-1200 voice * 505-577-8563 cell * 505-265-1207 fax

www.wagingpeace. org

We may now care for each Earthian individual at a sustainable billionaire' s level of affluence while living exclusively on less than 1 percent of our planet's daily energy income from our cosmically designed nuclear reactor, the Sun, optimally located 92 million safe miles away from us.

Buckminster Fuller

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