Apr 24, 2007
WASHINGTON April 24 (UPI) -- A study from the American Association for the Advancement of Science has given a boost to plans to dismantle old U.S. nuclear weapons.
Thomas D'Agostino, acting head of the National Nuclear Safety Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Energy, said in a statement Tuesday that the AAAS report supported "NNSA's efforts to modernize and transform the aging nuclear weapons complex, known as Complex 2030."
"Several of the AAAS report's recommendations reaffirm our ongoing plans to study the RRW concept and move forward with our modernization and transformation efforts, which will lead to smaller, more efficient and more secure nuclear weapons facilities," D'Agostino said.
The AAAS report advises changes at the Pantex Plant "to accommodate the weapons throughput necessary for a reasonable range of stockpile options and development of a plutonium strategy that can produce pits in reasonable quantities on a timely basis."
The NNSA said Tuesday it was "already implementing both of these recommendations with demonstrated progress."
"NNSA's 'Pantex Throughput Improvement Plan' started last year and has substantially increased its capacity for warhead assembly and disassembly operations. This plan will lead to a 50 percent increase this year in the dismantlement of Cold War-era nuclear warheads," the agency said. "Moreover, this year NNSA will deliver the first production-certified plutonium pit to the stockpile in nearly two decades."
"Regarding the report's policy recommendations, the administration will be looking closely at them in connection with the president's desire for the smallest nuclear weapons stockpile consistent with our nation's security," the NNSA said.
President George W. Bush has consistently favored a policy of reducing the size of the old U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal and of replacing aging nuclear warheads with newer, more efficient and safer ones.
[We wonder if there are two different versions of this report. See Sterngold's SF Chronicle story below.]