In a trio of bills passed recently, the Democratic-controlled Congress ordered several reviews of key Bush administration defense and nuclear policies, setting the stage for possible future course changes. Lawmakers also dealt a more immediate reversal to administration plans by nearly eliminating all funding for a new nuclear warhead. (Continue)
The jury is still out on whether the United States can develop a new nuclear warhead without using a test explosion to verify its performance, a leading scientific panel has concluded, urging further study. Meanwhile, two key congressional protagonists in the debate surrounding the controversial initiative announced they will not seek re-election next year. (Continue)
A recent Bush administration report intended to shore up congressional support for a flagging initiative to build a new nuclear warhead appears to have backfired. Key lawmakers blasted the report, and the program suffered another budget vote defeat. (Continue)
Congress has yet to complete the raft of bills governing U.S. nuclear funding and policy for the next fiscal year, but the early returns are not promising for the Bush administration’s program to develop a new nuclear warhead. Lawmakers say they want long-term nuclear plans before new weapons. (Continue)
A Review of The Minimum Means of Reprisal: China’s Search for Security in the Nuclear Age by Jeffrey Lewis. (Continue)
For years, some scientists and policymakers have worried that the reliability of U.S. nuclear warheads could diminish as their plutonium components age. Such concerns have led some to argue the United States should resume nuclear testing, rebuild its older warheads, or both. Most recently, plutonium aging has been used by the Bush administration to justify an ambitious new proposal for remaking the weapons complex and the nuclear arsenal.
Think again. A new set of government studies finds that the plutonium primaries, or pits, of most U.S. nuclear weapons “will have minimum lifetimes of at least 85 years,” which is about twice as long as previous official estimates. The findings have led the National Nuclear Security Agency (NNSA) to admit that “the degradation of plutonium in our nuclear weapons will not affect warhead reliability for decades.” (Continue)