Nuclear Weapons Complex Reconfiguration: Analysis of an Energy Department Task Force Report

CRS Report for Congress
Nuclear Weapons Complex Reconfiguration:
Analysis of an Energy Department Task Force
February 1, 2006
Jonathan Medalia
Specialist in National Defense
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division

Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress

Nuclear Weapons Complex Reconfiguration: Analysis
of an Energy Department Task Force Report
Congress annually funds the nuclear weapons complex (the Complex), those
sites that develop, maintain, manufacture, and dismantle nuclear weapons. In
hearings held in 2004, the House Appropriations Committee pressed the Secretary
of Energy “for a systematic review of requirements for the weapons complex over the
next twenty-five years.” The committee expressed its concern that the Complex is
not well suited to the post-Cold War situation, and should reflect presidential
decisions on the stockpile as well as issues of cost, security, and Complex size. In
response, the Nuclear Weapons Complex Infrastructure Task Force of the Secretary
of Energy Advisory Board prepared a report, released in final form in October 2005.
The report indicated that the Complex had redundant facilities, security
concerns, high cost, excessive competition between the weapons labs, and inadequate
equipment for the production plants. To redress these problems, the Task Force
proposed restructuring the Complex. It would shift much production and some R&D
to a new nuclear production center, probably close one or more plants, contract out
some nonnuclear work, shrink the labs, consolidate facilities, and take steps to make
governance more effective. It was concerned that current warheads, produced during
the Cold War, are inappropriate for the current situation because they have more
yield and efficiency than is needed, yet are more vulnerable to terrorist threats than
is desirable, are hard to manufacture, are designed close to failure points, and will
probably become harder to maintain. It recommends restructuring the nuclear arsenal
by producing new-design Reliable Replacement Warheads (RRWs) with
characteristics deemed more suitable to the current environment. The report links
Complex and warheads: in the Task Force’s view, RRWs would be easier to produce
and maintain, permitting a smaller, more efficient, and less costly Complex.
Observers familiar with the current Complex raise several concerns. From their
perspective, closing Complex sites and facilities might meet fatal political
opposition. They maintain that the report seems to downplay the value of investments
in Complex facilities over six decades, and projects large cost savings through 2030
based on questionable assumptions. They fear that shifting key tasks that the nuclear
weapons labs perform to other sites could disrupt the labs’ ability to do their work.
The recommendation to proceed immediately with RRW deals with restructuring
weapons rather than the Complex and, in this view, may go beyond the Task Force’s
mandate. A Department of Defense official stated that a Department of Defense-
Department of Energy agency did not approve the Task Force’s proposed 3-step
transition to RRW, despite the report’s strong implication to the contrary. While any
final decision on deploying RRWs must await completion of studies that might
possibly reject RRW, the Task Force assumes RRW will proceed and does not
examine how its restructured Complex would support current warheads. Some
express concern that Task Force recommendations may be at odds with U.S. nuclear
nonproliferation policy.
This report will not be updated.

Background ......................................................1
The Task Force’s View of, and Vision for, the Complex...............2
Main Recommendations of the Task Force..............................3
Discussion of Task Force Recommendations............................7
Reliable Replacement Warhead program recommendations.........7
Cost issues..............................................11
Forgoing the value of sunk costs.............................14
Workforce issues.........................................16
Implications for the nuclear weapons laboratories................18
Implications for the plants..................................23
Pit production issues......................................25
Security ................................................30
Nonproliferation ..........................................30
Assessment of nuclear weapon issues.........................31
Task Force assumptions....................................35
Appendix: Nuclear Weapons and the Nuclear Weapons Complex..........37
Glossary: Abbreviations............................................39

Nuclear Weapons Complex Reconfiguration:
Analysis of an Energy Department Task
Force Report
The U.S. nuclear weapons complex (the Complex) consists of eight
government-owned, contractor-operated sites (see Appendix) that study, maintain,
and disassemble U.S. nuclear weapons. The National Nuclear Security Agency
(NNSA), a semiautonomous part of the Department of Energy (DOE), manages it.
Some in Congress have expressed concern that the U.S. nuclear stockpile and the
Complex are becoming increasingly difficult and costly to maintain, that security
costs are rising sharply, and that the Complex is not sufficiently responsive to the
needs of its “customer,” the Department of Defense (DOD). Further, they maintain,
it is difficult for Congress to judge the merits of various large expenditures for the
Complex, such as for major research facilities, without a long-term road map. (In
this report, “site” refers to an entire laboratory or plant, or the Nevada Test Site,
while “facility” refers to a structure within a site, such as for production of a specific
item or for experiments or computation.)
To address these concerns, the House Energy and Water Development
Appropriations Subcommittee asked the Secretary of Energy to conduct a study of
the Complex looking out 25 years, and to make recommendations on restructuring
the Complex. The committee’s report stated:
During the fiscal year 2005 budget hearings, the Committee pressed the Secretary
on the need for a systematic review of requirements for the weapons complex
over the next twenty-five years, and the Secretary committed to conducting such
a review. The Secretary’s report should assess the implications of the President’s
decisions on the size and composition of the stockpile, the cost and operational
impacts of the new Design Basis Threat, and the personnel, facilities, and
budgetary resources required to support the smaller stockpile. The report should
evaluate opportunities for the consolidation of special nuclear materials,
facilities, and operations across the complex to minimize security requirements
and the environmental impact of continuing operations.
The Secretary should assemble a team of outside experts to assist with this
review. Prior reviews have largely been conducted by insiders from the weapons
complex, who produce the predictable but not very credible recommendation that
the Department should preserve the status quo and maintain all existing facilities
and capabilities. As part of the five-year integrated budget plan for the entire
Department that is directed elsewhere in this report, the Secretary will have to
balance NNSA requirements against competing needs for other DOE programs.

This will require an objective review that is only possible with the help of
independent experts who are not, and have not been, part of the NNSA weapons
The Committee directs the Secretary to submit a written report on his findings
and recommendations on the NNSA complex to the House and Senate
Committees on Appropriations and Armed Services not later than April 30,1


In response, the Secretary of Energy in January 2005 had the Secretary of
Energy Advisory Board (SEAB) form the Nuclear Weapons Complex Infrastructure
Task Force (hereinafter referred to as the “Task Force” or “TF”). It issued a “draft
final report” in July 2005.2 After receiving comments, it transmitted the final report
to SEAB on October 4 with no changes from the July version. A letter from David
Overskei, Chairman of the Task Force, included clarifications on nuclear weapon
storage and on production of a key component. Also on October 4, SEAB
transmitted the report to the Secretary of Energy.3
The Task Force’s View of, and Vision for, the Complex
The TF reported that there was no master plan guiding the Complex. Instead,
it stated that there were redundant facilities within the Complex; excessive
competition between the weapons labs; an imbalance between the labs, with state-of-
the-art experimental facilities, and the production plants, with archaic equipment; and
special nuclear material (SNM; see Appendix) at six of the eight Complex sites,
increasing vulnerability to terrorist attack and raising security costs. The TF also
found current warheads to have undesirable characteristics, such as designs offering
less safety and less control over unauthorized use than DOD and DOE wanted,
designs that approached too closely the point at which they would fail, components
that were difficult to manufacture, excessive use of exotic or hazardous materials,
and maintenance that would probably become ever more costly. These problems
resulted in high costs. As a result, the Task Force concluded, “the status quo is
neither technically credible, nor financially sustainable.” (ix) (Throughout this report,
numbers in parentheses refer to pages in the Task Force’s report.)
The TF had a vision of a different Complex. “The Complex of 2030 should be
an integrated, interdependent enterprise. The technical acuity and scientific

1 U.S. Congress. House. Committee on Appropriations. Energy and Water Development
Appropriations Bill, 2005, H.Rept. 108-554, to accompany H.R. 4614, 108th Congress, 2nd
Session, 2004, p. 111.
2 U.S. Department of Energy. Secretary of Energy Advisory Board. Nuclear Weapons
Complex Infrastructure Task Force. Recommendations for the Nuclear Weapons Complex
of the Future, draft final report, July 13, 2005, xi + 33 p. + 14 appendixes; available at
[ h t t p : / / publ i c at i ons/ NWCIT FRept -7-11-05.pdf ] .
3 Letter from Dr. David O. Overskei, Chairman, SEAB Nuclear Weapons Complex
Infrastructure Task Force, to M. Peter McPherson, Chairman, Secretary of Energy Advisory
Board, October 4, 2005, 1 p., and letter from Peter McPherson, Chairman, Secretary of
Energy Advisory Board, to The Honorable Samuel W. Bodman, Secretary of Energy,
October 4, 2005, 1 p.

innovation to meet unforeseen challenges and threats to the nation’s security are
sustained by a Complex operating interactively and continuously conducting
research, nonnuclear testing and weapon modernization, production, and
dismantlement.” (4) It would be responsive to the needs of its customer, DOD.
As a measure of responsiveness, the Complex will be designed to respond to any
needed design change in less than 18 months, field a prototype [nuclear weapon]
in less than 36 months, and go into full production in less than 48 months, and
perform an underground test at the [Nevada Test Site] within 18 months. By
2030 the Complex would be in equilibrium, producing and dismantling at a rate
of 125 devices per year. (4)
The TF would restructure the Complex, closing some sites, building another,
relocating some experimental facilities, and making other such facilities available for
use by Complex personnel. It would dismantle all Cold War-era weapons (the
current stockpile) by 2030. The replacement warheads and restructured Complex
would, according to the TF, be safer, more secure, and less costly. The TF
recommended proceeding briskly to implement this vision. “The Task Force vision
is best achieved at the lowest risk to the nation’s nuclear deterrent through an
aggressive schedule for achieving the 2030 vision, with near-term budget increases
resulting in substantially larger accumulated long-term budget reductions.” (5)
Main Recommendations of the Task Force
To remedy the perceived problems and implement its vision, the TF made two
main, related recommendations. First, it created a master plan that would restructure
the entire Complex. The plan has several key elements.
!A Consolidated Nuclear Production Center (CNPC) would produce
all components in the “nuclear explosive package,” or NEP (see
Appendix), including those made from uranium, plutonium, and
high explosives, and would assemble complete nuclear weapons.
While Pantex would dismantle current warheads by 2030, CNPC
would dismantle the next generation of warheads. (vii, 4) CNPC
would include a facility for fabrication of plutonium components; a
separate facility for fabrication of uranium components; a materials
research laboratory; a facility for machining and testing all the
insensitive high explosive for the Complex, though the explosive
itself might be procured from outside vendors or DOD; a building
for weapons assembly and disassembly; areas to store plutonium and
pits; another building to store uranium and secondaries; and several
other facilities. (14-16) CNPC would not store deployed warheads.4

4 The Task Force “specifically wish[es] to point out that the Consolidated Nuclear
Production Center is not proposed as a location to consolidate the storage of nuclear
weapons that are in the deployed stockpile.” Letter from Dr. David O. Overskei, Chairman,
SEAB Nuclear Weapons Complex Infrastructure Task Force, to M. Peter McPherson,
Chairman, Secretary of Energy Advisory Board, Department of Energy, October 4, 2005, p. 1.

!The Y-12 Plant fabricates and stores uranium components, and
assembles and stores secondaries. These functions would move to
CNPC. It thus appears likely that Y-12 would close.
!Pantex could close. The TF states, “Upon dismantlement of the last
of the Cold war weapons, Pantex, if not the site of the CNPC, could
be decommissioned.” (19) While “dismantlement of the last Cold
war weapon [is] envisioned to occur by 2030,” (4) the TF also
emphasizes accelerating dismantlement. (E2)
!Kansas City Plant would not be part of CNPC. It would continue to
produce nonnuclear components (batteries, fuzes, bomb casings,
etc.), but “as many components as practical [would] be procured
from commercial vendors.” (22)
!The labs would become smaller. The TF states:
Technical staffing levels at the design laboratories can be significantly
reduced as the Complex leverages the years of investment in new,
automated test and computational capabilities at the design laboratories.
Perhaps greater impact on Complex staffing levels will be the efficiency
realized by personnel moving into continuous design, plus weapon
production and manufacturing cycles, which evolve into a family of
modular nuclear weapons. (23)
!Some large experimental and scientific facilities might move to
CNPC or NTS, and duplicative facilities at more than one lab might
be closed and the remaining facility of each type made into a user
facility, i.e., available to staff of all labs. (viii, J1-J3) The TF raises
the prospect that one of the two nuclear weapon physics labs — Los
Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and Lawrence Livermore
National Laboratory (LLNL) — might close: “the long-term
requirement for two physics design laboratories will be determined
through overall Complex performance and needs.” (4) Some lab
facilities under consideration would move to CNPC. For example,
the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement (CMRR)
building at LANL for R&D on uranium and plutonium, for which
construction began in January 2006, would instead be built at CNPC
on grounds that other facilities to be placed in CNPC would have a
similar capability. LANL would instead have a “‘CMRR lite,’
designed for only laboratory sample levels of material and amenable
to commercial security.” (21)
!One lab would house high-end computing for the entire Complex,
and Complex staff at other sites could use that site’s resources by
remote connection (20).
!The Nevada Test Site might gain several experimental facilities (J1-
J3), and is a possible site for CNPC.

!Governance would be made more effective, in the TF’s view, so as
to “enable the transformations needed for the Complex and the
Stockpile.” (25). DOD/NNSA Project Officers’ Groups, which “are
key elements in managing integration of a warhead with the weapon
system throughout the entire life cycle,” would have representation
from the plants, (25) as is being done with the Reliable Replacement
Warhead program described below; NNSA would have more
independence within DOE (26); NNSA offices at Complex sites
would report to the Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs
rather than to the NNSA Administrator (27); business practices
would change (27-32); and an Office of Transformation would be
the “change agent” (viii) that would conduct risk-benefit and other
analyses to support transformation of the Complex (33).
The problems that the TF found with the Complex are intertwined with the
products the Complex supports. Accordingly, the second main recommendation of
the Task Force is to proceed promptly with a “family” of warheads designed to meet
a different set of requirements and constraints than current warheads. (For a detailed
discussion of Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) program and the Life Extension
Program (LEP), discussed in the balance of this section, see CRS Report RL32929,
Nuclear Weapons: The Reliable Replacement Warhead Program, by Jonathan
Current warheads were designed and manufactured during the Cold War to meet
Cold War requirements within the constraints of the time. DOD needed warheads
with high explosive yield and that had high yield to weight, that is, they achieved
their yield in the lightest package. They were also tightly constrained as to size and
shape. To meet those goals, nuclear weapon designers used sophisticated design
features, exotic and hazardous materials, and hard-to-produce components, and
pushed designs close to points where they would fail. While these weapons are
complex, nuclear testing gave designers confidence in their performance.
However, the last U.S. nuclear test was held in September 1992; the United
States has observed a test moratorium since then. To maintain Cold War-era
weapons without testing, the Complex undertakes LEPs. When certain key weapon
components deteriorate or otherwise need replacement, an LEP seeks to
remanufacture these components as closely as possible to the original specifications.
The reason is that nuclear testing confirmed the safety and reliability of the designs;
now, without testing, NNSA chooses to minimize loss of confidence in warheads that
use remanufactured components by minimizing changes so as to keep the
components as close to their original test-proven “pedigree” as possible.
There is considerable debate about whether LEPs will be able to maintain
existing warheads indefinitely. Supporters argue that for nine years the Secretaries
of Energy and Defense have been able to certify that the stockpile remains safe and
reliable without resorting to nuclear testing. They have been able to do this because
of the existing Stockpile Stewardship Program (SSP) and key parts of it, surveillance
of warheads to monitor for defects and Life Extension Programs. These various
programs have greatly increased knowledge of weapons performance and potential
problems, and knowledge of specific weapon types has likewise increased with

experience. Supporters therefore believe that LEP should enable the United States
to maintain warheads indefinitely without testing.
NNSA questions the long-term viability of LEP. According to Ambassador
Linton Brooks, Administrator of NNSA, “it is becoming more difficult and costly to
certify warhead remanufacture. The evolution away from tested designs resulting
from the inevitable accumulations of small changes over the extended lifetimes of
these systems means that we can count on increasing uncertainty in the long-term
certification of warheads in the stockpile.”5 LEP also, it is argued, imposes high
costs on the Complex. The TF states, “To support this unique stockpile, the Complex
must maintain parts, materials, processes, and even tools that are no longer in
common use to ensure a capability to respond to any stockpile problems. Thus, our
current stockpile is extraordinarily expensive to monitor and to maintain.” (11)
Because of the costs and potential uncertainties associated with the types of
warheads being maintained, Representative David Hobson, Chairman of the House
Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee, proposed a new
approach, the Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) program. The FY2005 budget
request had included no funds for RRW, and other committee reports for FY2005 had
not referenced it. Instead, RRW made its first legislative appearance in the FY2005
Consolidated Appropriations Act, P.L. 108-447, which provided $9.0 million for the
purpose. For FY2006, NNSA requested $9.4 million for RRW and Congress
appropriated $25.0 million.
The RRW program would design warheads taking into account the great
changes in requirements and missions affecting warheads since the end of the Cold
War. There is less need for high yield or for a high yield-to-weight ratio. Accepting
reductions in yield and yield-to-weight, it is argued, would enable weapon designers
to move away from the complicated designs, hard-to-manufacture components, and
exotic materials that characterized Cold War weapons. Instead, the TF recommends
setting a number of design parameters, including “certification without [underground
nuclear testing] ... inexpensive manufacture and disassembly ... ease of maintenance
... maximizing component reuse and minimizing life-cycle costs.” (8) The TF views
“[i]mmediate design of a Reliable Replacement Warhead” as “the most important
element for transforming the Stockpile.” (13)
RRW advocates believe that these characteristics would benefit the Complex.
In their view, simpler, easier-to-manufacture designs could be made with simpler
equipment, would use less floor space, and would have higher throughput.
Reduction in hazardous and exotic materials would reduce the threat to worker and
environmental safety, permitting a reduction in equipment and floor space.
Designing nuclear explosive packages to incorporate use control and use denial

5 “Statement of Ambassador Linton F. Brooks, Administrator, National Nuclear Security
Administration, U.S. Department of Energy, before the Senate Armed Services Committee,
Subcommittee on Strategic Forces,” Apr. 4, 2005, p. 3.

features would reduce the amount of physical security required.6 These factors would
also be expected to reduce cost.
Discussion of Task Force Recommendations
In the Task Force scenario, construction of a modernized Complex would be
simpler and less costly with several facilities built at a single site. The TF anticipates
that operating costs would be lower for a single new CNPC than for several facilities
dating back a half-century or more. With security designed into warheads and
facilities alike, rather than retrofitted, the TF projects that physical security costs
would be lower. It holds that new equipment should be more efficient than a
combination of new and old equipment, and that removing most fissile material from
Los Alamos and Livermore should reduce their security costs. Making many
experimental facilities into user facilities, to the extent that that differs from current
practice, might reduce costs. Further, in this view, the shift to RRW could offer
savings and increased confidence in design, production, maintenance, and
certification. Yet some observers maintain that some TF recommendations may
prove difficult or impossible to implement. The balance of this report discusses
some of the Task Force recommendations.
Reliable Replacement Warhead program recommendations. The TF
makes a recommendation that it believes “is the most important element for
transforming the Stockpile”:
The Task Force endorses the immediate initiation of the modernization of the
stockpile through the design of the Reliable Replacement Warhead. This should
lead to a family of modern nuclear weapons, designed with greater margin to
meet military requirements while incorporating state-of-the-art surety
requirements. ... The Task Force recommends that a new version of the RRW,
incorporating new design concepts and surety features, [be] initiated on planned
five-year cycles. This family of weapons will form the basis of the sustainable
stockpile of the future. (13)
Congressional language calling for the TF report stated that the report “should
assess the implications of the President’s decisions on the size and composition of7
the stockpile ...” These decisions were to be inputs for the TF, which would then
determine how to restructure the Complex to implement them. Similarly, the
Secretary of Energy, in a letter to the TF chair, wanted the TF to provide “options and
recommendations by the end of April 2005 to modernize, consolidate, and where

6 According to Ambassador Linton Brooks, “If we were designing the stockpile today, we
would apply new technologies and approaches to warhead-level use control as a means to
reduce physical security costs.” “Statement of Ambassador Linton F. Brooks,
Administrator, National Nuclear Security Administration, U.S. Department of Energy,
before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Strategic Forces,” Apr. 4,

2005, p. 4.

7 U.S. Congress. House. Committee on Appropriations. Energy and Water Development
Appropriations Bill, 2005, H.Rept. 108-554, to accompany H.R. 4614, 108th Congress, 2nd
Session, 2004, p. 111.

possible, reduce costs of the infrastructure and facilities across the NWC [nuclear
weapons complex] based on recent stockpile reductions and new security Design
Basis Threat requirements.”8 While the TF made numerous recommendations on the
Complex, key recommendations concerned the stockpile itself — that NNSA proceed
with RRW and that DOD change the characteristics it required of warheads in order
to facilitate manufacture: “The DOD should work to relax the military characteristics
of its nuclear weapons, in order to generate the design space necessary for NNSA to
develop high-margin, manufacturable designs for the future stockpile.” (34) Some
feel the TF may have exceeded its mandate by recommending how to redesign
nuclear weapons. For example, SEAB noted concerns about the TF’s work on RRW:
“A number of SEAB members believe that the issue of a Reliable Replacement
Warhead (RRW) will need further study by the Department of Energy and the
On the other hand, Complex and warheads are linked. The goal of the Complex
is to design and manufacture a product, and characteristics of the product will
necessarily shape the Complex. A Complex intended to produce reliable replacement
warheads would be expected to differ from one intended to conduct life extension
programs. There is a case to be made for shaping the Complex to support RRWs.
The TF finds “the status quo is neither technically credible, nor financially
sustainable.” (ix) Further, Ambassador Linton Brooks, Administrator of NNSA, said
that the current stockpile is the wrong one for today’s needs technically, militarily,
and politically, and from the standpoints of longevity, cost, and physical security.10
If current warheads are as problematic as claimed — though others disagree, as noted
earlier — perhaps it makes sense to design a Complex to support an alternative
warhead type.
Yet it may well have been appropriate for the TF to have shaped a Complex to
support LEPs as well as RRWs, perhaps with a path for the Complex to transition to
supporting only RRWs if Congress and the Administration later decide to proceed
exclusively with that warhead type. While Congress and the Administration support
RRW at this early stage, that is not the same as a commitment to deploy even one
RRW type, let alone an all-RRW stockpile. It may turn out that the future stockpile
will be all-RRW, but no final decision on whether to manufacture and deploy even
the first RRW can be made for several years or more. Indeed, no choice among
RRW design options is expected until November 2006.11 If for some reason the
Administration decides not to proceed with RRW, a likely fallback position would

8 Letter from Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham to Dr. David Overskei, January 26,

2005, p. 1.

9 Letter transmitting the Task Force report, from Peter McPherson, Chairman, Secretary of
Energy Advisory Board, to The Honorable Samuel W. Bodman, Secretary of Energy,
October 4, 2005, 1 p.
10 “Statement of Ambassador Linton F. Brooks, Administrator, National Nuclear Security
Administration, U.S. Department of Energy, before the Senate Armed Services Committee,
Subcommittee on Strategic Forces,” Apr. 4, 2005, p. 2-4.
11 U.S. Congress. Committee of Conference. Making Appropriations for Energy and Water
Development for the Fiscal Year Ending September 30, 2006, and for Other Purposes,thst
H.Rept. 109-275, to accompany H.R. 2419, 109 Congress, 1 Session, 2005, p. 159.

be to continue maintaining existing warheads using LEP. In any event, the Complex
will probably conduct LEPs of current warheads for many years. It thus can be argued
that it is premature to design a Complex based on the assumption that RRW will
The five-year cycle plan that the TF suggests could offer significant benefits for
DOD and NNSA. Continuous design, certification, production, and deployment of
nuclear weapons would exercise the Complex, provide real-world training to
scientific and production staff, minimize age-related defects in weapons, and permit
the introduction of new design features into the stockpile. Developing and
maintaining skills would increase DOD’s confidence in the Complex. Confidence
that the Complex could produce warheads in time to respond to adversary efforts to
develop threats to the United States — the responsive infrastructure that the
December 2001 Nuclear Posture Review called for — would permit DOD to reduce
the number of reserve warheads it maintains as a hedge to augment the force if
needed. Confidence in the reliability of the new warheads would permit DOD to
reduce the number of warheads it maintains as reliability backups in case problems
emerge with deployed warheads. Reducing warhead numbers and incorporating new
use-control features could reduce DOD’s security costs, saving large sums.
In other ways, however, continuous design and production might impose high
costs. (a) RRWs are supposed to be easier to maintain than current warheads.
Replacing one generation of RRWs with another, as the TF suggests (7), rather than
maintaining the first would appear to forgo the maintenance advantage while
incurring large costs for designing and producing new warheads and dismantling
those being replaced. (b) Some claim that RRW might permit a stockpile of fewer
designs. While at least two warhead types are currently available for each type of
delivery system, one RRW design might be used on more than one type of delivery
system. That approach could save money by reducing the number of designs and
spare units in the stockpile, simplifying production and maintenance, and permitting
a smaller Complex. That advantage could be lost if a steady stream of RRW designs
entered and left the stockpile. (c) First-generation RRWs would presumably
incorporate large gains in technology made since the last warhead was designed two
decades ago. If those RRWs meet the high standards required to be certified for the
stockpile, though, technical gains from subsequent generations might be modest. (d)
An ongoing production and replacement program would require a larger and more
costly Complex than that needed to produce first-generation RRWs and maintain
them for decades through LEPs. (e) Such a program might raise proliferation
concerns, as discussed below.
The TF introduces a new element into the RRW program, a block transition.
A transition strategy emerging from the DOD would put the nation on a new path
toward the sustainable stockpile. This strategy, already endorsed by the Nuclear12
Weapons Council[], is based on the RRW concept. An RRW weapon design is
responsive to an existing weapon mission, but moves the stockpile toward the

12 Author’s note: The Joint Nuclear Weapons Council is a small DOD-DOE agency
established by 10 USC 179 that coordinates nuclear weapons activities between the two

sustainable stockpile of the future. Its introduction is made possible by
segmenting the current LEPs into discrete “blocks.” Block 1 would incorporate
the current LEP design but would be truncated much sooner than normally
planned and transitioned to the block 2 design (RRW-1), which would include
some, but probably not all, attributes of the future stockpile. As soon as practical,
block 2 would be transitioned to block 3 (RRW-2), which would incorporate all
the attributes of the future stockpile. Implementation of this RRW block change
strategy, system by system, would ensure a smooth transition to a sustainable
nuclear stockpile, and eventually to a stockpile designed for modern deterrence.
Block 2 could provide a faster route to upgrading the stockpile than a move
directly to Block 3. It would presumably incorporate features that were easier to
design and manufacture, leaving more difficult ones for Block 3. As a steppingstone
to Block 3, Block 2 would in effect function as a pilot project that would reveal
potential difficulties in design and manufacture, thus facilitating design and
manufacture of subsequent RRWs and lowering their costs. Block 2 would also be
consistent with the TF’s proposal for an ongoing cycle of design and manufacture,
with Block 2 warheads done in the first cycle and Block 3 warheads in the next.
It is, however, hard to know if these advantages would materialize because the
TF does not provide a clear definition of Block 2. Even though Block 2 could
involve billions of dollars for new warheads, the only references to it in the entire
report are in the paragraph quoted above (along with a brief mention on page 34).
Block 2 warheads would apparently include some features of current designs and
some features of RRW designs, but it is not clear which changes would render a
warhead “Block 2.”
!Warheads using components outside the nuclear explosive package,
such as radars, that have been modified from the original design
would probably not be considered as Block 2. Such components are
tested extensively in the laboratory as part of existing LEPs.
!Warheads designed around newly-made pits of selected old designs
might be counted as Block 2. Because the state of the art in design
and manufacture has advanced considerably over the years, pit
designs from several decades ago might be simpler to manufacture
than current designs that press the state of the art. The fact that they
have been tested would facilitate certification. On the other hand,
they would not have some key RRW features and would divert
resources from Block 3 RRWs.
!Warheads designed around old pits might be considered as Block 2,
but in addition to the drawbacks noted above the warheads would
have a short service life if the pits used were near the end of their
service lives.
The most certain approaches to certifying a replacement warhead without
nuclear testing are, at one extreme, to replicate the original design as closely as
possible or, at the other, to create a new design that is simple enough to permit high
confidence. In order to maximize yield to weight and achieve other design goals, all

components of Cold War-era warheads are designed to work together with little
performance margin to spare. With such tight design, small changes in materials or
manufacturing processes can reduce confidence in performance. That is why the
Complex goes to great lengths to minimize differences from original specifications
when designing and producing replacement components. Despite the absence of
nuclear testing, the labs have been certifying, for continued use in the stockpile,
current warhead designs that incorporate replacement components that are not exact
replications. At the same time, the labs believe that they will be able to certify
RRWs without testing by designing in greater performance margins. In contrast, the
labs have said nothing to indicate that they could certify anything between these
extremes, such as Block 2 warheads. As a result, any potential advantages from a
Block 2 replacement warhead might be lost owing to difficulty in certification or in
acceptability to DOD. It might be argued that a surer path to confidence in
replacement warheads would be to skip Block 2 and move to Block 3 directly.
Even if the three-block approach could be done successfully, it would apparently
result in three distinct designs — one LEP, one RRW, and one in between — for
each warhead type, for example, W76 Block 1, 2, and 3. Block 2 would be neither
the original weapon, with which the Complex has extensive experience, nor the final
RRW, which would be in the stockpile for years to come, but a transient, interim
design. Sustaining, producing, and maintaining the three designs would appear to
require far more Complex resources than would be required for one design per
warhead type.
Steve Henry, Deputy Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Nuclear Matters,
in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, stated that the Nuclear Weapons Council
voted to study the feasibility of a Reliable Replacement Warhead and, if the study
proved successful, to endorse a transition directly from LEPs of current-design
warheads to the RRW program. A Council study group considered other options,
including Block 2, but did not recommend them to the Council because those options
could not achieve critical RRW program goals such as enhancements to safety and
use control. In addition, the study group was concerned that pursuing a Block 2
option would be costly and could delay the RRW program beyond the time when
nuclear weapon designers with underground test experience would retire, raising
certification difficulties.13 Therefore, Block 2 is only a recommendation of the Task
Force, not of the Nuclear Weapons Council.
Cost issues. To analyze costs of its recommendations, the TF set forth three
!A baseline case with a flat budget in FY2005 dollars for the period
2006-2030. If the baseline budget is the FY2006 request for the
Complex, the TF finds that the total cost for 2006-2030 would be
some $170 billion. The TF rejects this case because it would not
lead to the TF’s vision for the future Complex, “thereby representing

13 The preceding information in this paragraph was provided in personal communications,
November and December 2005.

a very high risk option for maintaining the nation’s nuclear
deterrent.” (E1)
!A “Complex Transformation in Place” case involving minor changes
to the Complex and the stockpile. There would be no consolidation
of SNM, and no CNPC. Existing production facilities would
continue in place. RRW begins, but most LEPs continue. Like the
baseline, this case would not lead to the TF vision for the future
Complex because “the physical plant, especially the production
facilities, will not be transformed into the 21st Century.” The TF
states that this option involves risks, especially beyond 2020 when
pit lifetime, warhead reliability, and dismantlement become issues.
The TF calculates that this case would cost about $5 billion more
than the baseline case in 2005 dollars. (E1)
!A “Revolutionary Complex Transformation” case involving
consolidation of SNM, maximum acceleration of CNPC, and
implementation of the other TF recommendations. The TF finds
this case would cost $10 billion total above the baseline case for the
period 2006-2015, but would save $25 billion for 2016-2030, saving
$15 billion over the 25-year period. About half the extra $10 billion
is to accelerate dismantlement, and half to accelerate CNPC. The
case would manage risk by having RRW proceed “on a responsive
schedule.” The results are sensitive to assumptions on the extent of
LEPs, CNPC operating efficiencies, reductions in physical security
costs, and efficiencies from improved business practices. Costs
could be reduced by delaying the start of CNPC operations, closing
some facilities, and reductions in force at the labs, etc., but the TF
finds that such steps would increase risk. (E2-E3)
In its analysis, the TF judges that the baseline case involves high risks, that
minor tweaks to the Complex in the Transformation in Place case increase cost and
risk, that a large upfront investment would yield large savings some years from now,
and that the calculated costs and savings depend heavily on various assumptions. Its
Revolutionary Transformation case shows that proceeding with Complex
modernization and RRW in tandem would reduce both cost and risk. The latter case
makes a $5 billion investment to accelerate dismantlement of warheads. The TF
concludes that so doing “reduces the significant security and storage cost burden on
the Complex.” (24) Further, the TF would have Pantex dismantle existing weapons,
and “Upon dismantlement of the last of the Cold war weapons, Pantex, if not the site
of the CNPC, could be decommissioned.” (19) Finding that savings from
accelerating dismantlement would exceed the $5 billion that the TF allocates to that
purpose would be significant.
These cost and schedule estimates, however, could prove optimistic for a
number of reasons.
!Because the TF plan would represent a major change to Complex
sites, their operation, and their facilities, under current law DOE
would have to prepare a programmatic environmental impact

statement (EIS). Because the plan would affect facilities and
missions of several sites, DOE would have to prepare site-wide EISs
for sites with new facilities. DOE would also have to prepare site-
specific EISs for individual facilities. Meeting the various
requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is
time-consuming. DOE would also be required to comply with
environmental laws of states in which facilities would be built,14
which could lead to further delays.
!Lawsuits have been used to challenge EISs dealing with nuclear
matters. A lawsuit over an EIS led to a preliminary injunction that
halted construction of a major experimental facility at LANL (the
Dual-Axis Radiographic Hydrotest Facility) from January 1995 to
April 1996, for example.15 Any lawsuits would add to the cost of the
TF alternative, and would cause delays.
!The TF states, “Historically, DOE projects are either
‘under-estimated’ or have ‘scope creep’ that drive the projects above
their budgeted estimates. Historical DOE completed construction
costs are in the range of $13,900 to $33,000 per square foot of
construction. This wide range calls into question the accuracy of
estimates of CNPC cost, and thus of savings. The TF projects MPF
[Modern Pit Facility; see “Pit Production Issues,” below] to cost in
the range of $14,400 to $19,400 per square foot.” (H2) Estimating
MPF cost at the bottom of the historical range of DOE construction
costs seems highly optimistic given that it is probably the facility
within CNPC that would have the highest requirements for safety
and security, and produces one of the most difficult-to-manufacture
components of a nuclear weapon.
!A combination of delays and cost growth would increase investment
costs and shorten the period through 2030 in which operational
savings could accrue, tipping the balance between investment costs
and operational savings toward the former.
!The TF proposes reducing the footprint of MPF as one option to
reduce cost. (H5) Much of the cost of a Complex facility is for
planning, proceeding through the NEPA process, selecting a site,
obtaining the needed permits, designing the facility, and (especially
for SNM facilities) providing the requisite security. If NNSA later
needed to add capacity at MPF, it would be much more costly and
time-consuming to secure any needed permits, perhaps repeat the
NEPA process, redesign the facility, shut it down if construction so
required, and finally undertake the construction, than it would be to

14 For background on this point, see U.S. Congress. Congressional Research Service.
Enforcement of Environmental Laws at Federal Facilities: Legal Issues, CRS Report 90-390
A, August 16, 1990, 18 p., by Robert Meltz. (Archived, available from Jonathan Medalia.)
15 “Mello Attacks Test Facility Anew,” Associated Press Newswires, May 15, 1997.

build extra floor space at the outset and install equipment later if
required. It is thus arguable that MPF should be built with more
floor space than is needed initially, rather than the minimum.
!According to the report, “[t]he Task Force used budget details from
the FY 2006 NNSA Congressional budget submission (Appendix D)
to form the basis of financial comparisons and estimates made
within this report.” (xi) The FY2006 NNSA budget submission goes
through FY2010; it seems an insufficient basis for estimating costs
and savings going out a quarter-century. That document also
appears to have limited value for estimating RRW expenses even for
the period it covers. The projected RRW budget for FY2006-
FY2010 in the FY2006 request simply uses the amounts that would
have been allocated to the Advanced Concepts Initiative, a nuclear
weapons research and study program that Congress terminated in the
FY2005 Consolidated Appropriations Act (P.L. 108-447), because
NNSA did not have sufficient time between the signing of that act
in early December 2004, which contained initial funds for RRW, and
the submission of the budget request in early February 2005 to
prepare a detailed program and budget for RRW.
Forgoing the value of sunk costs. The Complex has developed over more
than 60 years. During that time, it has accumulated many buildings and much
equipment and infrastructure. Given that history, the Complex is probably far less
efficient than a Complex of new design and construction would be. The Complex
that the TF recommends would incorporate new facilities, eliminate redundant ones,
and probably close some sites. These steps are predicted to reduce operational costs,
including security. The TF anticipates that conducting manufacturing using modern
processes, in new buildings, making easier-to-manufacture components for RRWs,
would save large sums.
On the other hand, the United States has invested many billions of dollars in the
Complex over the years. It could be argued that abandoning some of this investment
— which has been built and is now operating — on the basis of an analysis showing
reduced operating costs over the long run would be taking a budgetary risk. By
closing some major facilities, and perhaps some sites, sunk costs would certainly be
lost; whether reduced operating costs would exceed the costs of closing existing
facilities and building new ones is less certain and, as the TF notes, depends heavily
on the assumptions used. Following are examples of sites and facilities whose sunk
costs might be lost under the TF plan.
!LANL has spent more than a decade to restore pit production
operations at its Technical Area 55 (TA-55) facility. LANL
delivered a certifiable pit in 2003 and expects to deliver a certified
pit for the W88 warhead in 2007. The TF estimates that TA-55 is
operating at about 5 percent efficiency. (H1) It states, “Modern
manufacturing techniques ... if applied rigorously could yield
unprecedented reductions in TA-55 pit manufacturing costs and
cycle time.” (H1) While the base rate is unclear, if TA-55 could
produce pits at a 20-fold higher rate, should MPF be built? The TF

would upgrade TA-55 for production, no doubt at considerable
expense. Yet it appears that the TF would not use TA-55 for pit
production once CNPC is operational. The SNM manufacturing
facility at CNPC “will be ... the sole SNM production and
manufacturing facility for the Complex” (15); “NNSA should
contract for the management of pit production at the new CNPC that
also covers interim pit production at TA-55”; “NNSA should focus
TA-55 on pit production until CNPC is fully operational ...” (35);
and “NNSA should commit to producing 50 production pits per
year that go into the stockpile from TA-55 beginning in 2012 and
continuing until a replacement pit production facility can meet the
needs of the stockpile.” (34) Bringing in a separate contractor to
manage pit production at TA-55 (and CNPC), as the TF
recommends (35), might disrupt ongoing pit operations. Once
NNSA halted pit production at TA-55, more expense would
presumably be incurred to convert its production space back to
!The TF envisions decommissioning Pantex after it completes
dismantlement of Cold War weapons, unless Pantex is the site of
CNPC. (19) But Pantex could still perform weapons assembly and
disassembly. It also stores thousands of pits from dismantled
weapons. Would any security and operations savings resulting from
building a Pantex-like facility at CNPC outweigh the investment
costs of that new facility, as well as the cost of decontaminating and
decommissioning Pantex and moving pits stored at Pantex to
!One type of experiment that LANL and LLNL perform is
hydrodynamic testing, in which a pit using surrogate material instead
of plutonium is imploded and measurements are taken using
powerful high-speed x-rays and other types of diagnostic equipment.
These experiments are conducted at two large, costly facilities: the
Dual Axis Radiographic Hydrodynamic Test (DARHT) Facility at
LANL and at the Contained Firing Facility (CFF) at LLNL’s Site
300, some 15 miles from the lab.16 These sites conduct many
smaller-scale experiments as well. “The Task Force believes that
the NTS should become the only Complex site for combined HE and
Category I and II SNM testing. Consolidation of both facilities
[DARHT and Site 300] into one Hydrodynamic Testing User
Facility at the NTS, incorporating containment and radiography ...,
could save significant costs.”17 (21) Having one facility instead of

16 See “Indoor Testing Begins Soon at Site 300,” Science and Technology Review, May
2001, and Carol Wilkinson, “Dual Axis Radiographic Hydrodynamic Testing: The DARHT
Project,” September 9, 2003, 29 briefing slides, available at [
LIGO_web/semi nars/pdf/wilkinson.pdf].
17 Category I and II refer to quantities of radioactive materials. Category I amounts are those

two would presumably yield savings in operations and security.
Further, it could prove difficult to secure the permitting needed to
conduct tests using plutonium at DARHT or CFF, should such tests
be desired. On the other hand, the two facilities are integrated into
the work of the labs, and have ample work conducting tests without
plutonium. Moving a large, delicate experimental facility to NTS
could prove difficult and costly. The sunk costs of the two facilities
would be lost. The NEPA process and any attendant lawsuits could
delay construction. The purpose of the two axes in DARHT, each
of which would take x-ray photos of an imploding surrogate pit, is
to have a time sequence of the implosion or a three-dimensional
radiograph. This information would be of value for LEP or RRW.
DARHT’s second axis is to be completed in 2008.18 Halting work
on DARHT and moving it to NTS threatens to delay pit experiments
for years. A possible alternative, many years out, would be to build
successor facilities to DARHT and CFF at NTS; even then,
removing the existing facilities from their labs would make it harder
for hydrodynamic experiments to draw on lab resources.
Workforce issues. Throughout the report, the TF recognizes the importance
of a strong workforce for the Complex. It finds that the Complex is “rapidly losing
experienced nuclear design experts.” (1) It “was delighted to find a generation of
young people entering the Complex.” (3) It notes, “The enduring key to maintaining
a safe, reliable stockpile of nuclear weapons is the quality of people ...” (22) Some
of its recommendations are made with a goal of strengthening expertise. It stresses
“the absolute necessity of resuming design activities now, such that those who still
have the benefit of real testing experience can mentor the next-generation designers
in the Complex.” (23)
Several of its recommendations, however, might undercut this workforce, or
seem to rely on a workforce that may not exist.
!The TF states that “as the Complex is transformed, it will need to
develop a talent pool of personnel experienced in modern production
technologies and processes. ... The Task Force believes that these

17 (...continued)
for which “Hazard Analysis shows the potential for significant off-site consequences,” and
Category II are those for which “Hazard Analysis shows the potential for significant on-site
consequences.” U.S. Department of Energy. DOE Standard: “Hazard Categorization and
Accident Analysis Techniques for Compliance with DOE Order 5480.23, Nuclear Safety
Analysis Reports,” DOE-STD-1027-92, December 1992, Change Notice No. 1, September

1997, p. A-2. The threshold for Category II for uranium-233, uranium-235, and plutonium-

239 are 23,000 grams, 110,000,000 grams, and 900 grams, respectively, with the following
major caveat: These values are “[t]o be used only if segmentation or nature of process
precludes potential for criticality. Otherwise, use the criticality lists for U-233, U-235, and
Pu-239 of 500, 700, and 450 grams, respectively.” Ibid., p. A-12.
18 U.S. Department of Energy. Office of Management, Budget and Evaluation/CFO.
Department of Energy FY 2006 Congressional Budget Request. Volume 1, National
Nuclear Security Administration. DOE/ME-0046, February 2005, p. 98.

personnel should come from a commercial high-tech background,
not from within the Complex.” (23) The plants have modern
equipment — and workers trained to operate it — as well as old
equipment, yet the recommendation could be viewed as
downplaying the value of the workers’ skills, many of which are
unique to the Complex. Suggesting that workers’ skills may not
meet current needs, and implying that existing workers will not be
trained in the skills needed, could be seen as showing a lack of
confidence in the workforce that could harm morale. Even RRW
will require a workforce experienced in handling and machining
SNM. It is also not clear that personnel with “a commercial high-
tech background” would have the expertise to work on nuclear
weapons production, or that they would want to do so, as the
specialized skills required might be difficult to market in the civilian
economy, narrowing their career options.
!The TF would locate CNPC in a sparsely-populated area in order to
reduce the effect that a terrorist attack on the facility would have on
nearby communities. It considers LLNL, LANL, Y-12, and Pantex
“sufficiently close to residential and commercial structures such that
any partially successful terrorist attack on these sites may cause
collateral damage to the surrounding civilian population and
associated ... assets.” (19) If LANL, Y-12, and Pantex are
considered too densely populated for safety, CNPC would have to
be located in an even more rural area. Yet it could prove difficult to
hire thousands of people in a rural area who “come from a
commercial high-tech background,” and could take years to provide
the requisite security clearances and training. The problem would
be eased somewhat by the length of time needed to build CNPC.
!The TF envisions the Complex producing and dismantling 125
warheads per year, and states, “[a] second shift would provide surge
capacity in pit production or weapon assembly should it be
required.” (5) It does not indicate the source of workers to constitute
the projected second shift, a potential problem in rural areas. Would
the Complex train a second cadre of people with these skills, and
then provide them with work sufficient to maintain these skills, so
they would be available if needed? Manufacturing typically requires
some depth of personnel to back up workers who are ill, on vacation,
in training, etc., but it is unclear if these added personnel would
suffice to operate an entire shift, especially for an extended time.
!The director of LANL suggests that establishing CNPC would likely
encounter high costs, major technical risks, and delays, all of which
“would severely disrupt skilled personnel across the complex and

could sharply curtail the ability of the complex to recruit and retain
the next generation workforce.”19
Implications for the nuclear weapons laboratories. The role of the
nuclear weapons laboratories and the resources they require have been perennially
contentious issues. Some have argued for raising or lowering the amount spent on
experimental facilities, for reducing funds for independent research, for limiting
nonweapons work, and the like. Some are concerned that having two physics design
labs, Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore, results in excessive redundancy, cost,
and competitiveness.
In this regard, the TF shows an ambivalence concerning competition and
cooperation at the labs. Regarding competition: “the current Complex needs to
initiate a design competition immediately for a family of modern replacement
weapons,” (4) and “Each weapon design incorporated into a block change should be
the result of a formal competition between LANL and LLNL, each supported by SNL
[Sandia National Laboratories].” (34) Regarding cooperation: “Within the Complex,
the physics design laboratories [LANL and LLNL] aggressively seek independence
rather than cooperative interdependence, resulting in redundant programs and
facilities, increasing costs and reducing productivity; and the production sites are
under funded.” (vi) Regarding both: “The challenges to the Complex will require
competition for the best design concepts, followed by cooperation in implementing
the winning design and cooperation in the certification.” (19) Of particular concern,
The three design laboratories ... routinely compete with each other and set their
own requirements as justification for new facilities and redundant research
funding in the fear that one laboratory may become superior. The net result is
that the Complex sites are competing for programmatic funds and priorities
rather than relying upon their divergent and complementary strengths and thereby
operating as a truly interdependent team, with shared success and rewards. (2)
The TF recommends a number of changes to the labs that seek to reduce
redundancy, save money, and foster cooperation.
!It would eliminate many research facilities and capabilities from the
labs in order to consolidate them. It would store all Category I and
II quantities of SNM at CNPC (4), move R&D on Category I and II
quantities of SNM to CNPC (15), close TA-55 as a pit production
plant (15), move R&D on all but small quantities of explosives to
CNPC or NTS (15), and consider consolidating the type of
experiments done by DARHT and Site 300 at NTS. (21, J3)
!The TF proposes that “there be only one capability [i.e., high-end]
[computing] machine location in the Complex. A single location
would more effectively leverage staff and infrastructure. Users

19 Robert Kuckuck, Director, Los Alamos National Laboratory, letter to Richard Burrow,
Deputy Director and Acting Executive Director, Secretary of Energy Advisory Board (AB-

1), U.S. Department of Energy, September 27, 2005, p. 2.

would be, and should be, highly distributed. This would tend to
enhance expertise and substantially reduce operating costs. ...” (20)
!The TF favors making some large facilities at a single lab into user
facilities — that is, shared-use facilities — that would be run by the
host lab but available to users from other labs. It proposes that
“NNSA can reduce operating costs and promote teamwork by
designating many of its facilities as User Facilities. Examples of
such facilities are the high-energy density devices (e.g., the NIF
[LLNL’s National Ignition Facility], the Z-Machine [at Sandia],
Omega [a laser facility at the University of Rochester]), as well as
the facilities involved in such activities as hydrotesting (Site 300 and
the DARHT facility), HE [high explosives] testing, SNM testing,
and tritium research.” (28) Further, “over the last 12 years, the
science-based Stockpile Stewardship Program has made an
enormous investment in new capability and test facilities in the three
design laboratories. The Task Force believes that these are valuable
Complex assets and should be operated as assets for the benefit of
the Complex, not the host site.” (20)
!The TF calls for “elimination of redundant non-weapons relevant
research and testing.” (33)
!The TF accepts the prospect of smaller labs: “The weapons
laboratories of the future will likely have smaller nuclear weapons
program staff than they have today.” (19)
Critics of the TF report are likely to raise a number of issues concerning these
!Regarding user facilities, some current laboratory facilities have
been operated in this manner for many years. The labs treat major
facilities such as NIF, Sandia’s Z Machine, and the Los Alamos
Neutron Science Center as national assets. Because it would be too
costly to replicate, maintain, and staff them at two or three labs, they
are instead made available for use by Complex staff, and in some
cases by academic and industrial researchers.
!The TF would have lab scientists travel to CNPC or NTS to do some
work. This would result in additional effort, expenditure of time,
and costs, and would separate work at those sites from other relevant
equipment and expertise at the labs. It is also uncertain if these sites
could provide the needed support. The TF states that CNPC would
include a center for research on SNM as a user facility for laboratory
staff, and “CNPC staff would provide all requisite equipment and
technical support staff to support the design laboratories’ science
and engineering users.” (15) But the existing facilities at the labs for
SNM R&D have been developed over many years through scientific,
administrative, budgetary, and political reviews and are integrated
into the work of the labs. Critics believe it would be difficult to

bring the required support into being at CNPC, a new site whose
prime mission would be production rather than R&D.
!As noted, the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement
Building at LANL would conduct research on plutonium and
uranium. LANL’s director has expressed concern that limiting this
building to Categories III and IV quantities of SNM, as the TF
recommends, “will (1) eliminate the capability to do the necessary
suite of actinide chemistry required to meet pit production mission
requirements, (2) would not allow secure access to and storage of
necessary quantities of SNM critical for interim pit manufacturing
capacity, and therefore, (3) undermine the development and
deployment of RRW.”20
!LANL’s director is also concerned about changes affecting key
experimental facilities. “RRW design certification will push the
limits of current predictive tools. The SEAB recommends that these
critically important tools be consolidated, transferred or eliminated
— putting RRW at risk.”21
The TF approach raises more general issues as well. Regarding the labs’
cooperation/competition relationship, LANL and LLNL cooperate in many ways,
such as peer review of weapon designs, joint use of computational and experimental
facilities, and collaboration on scientific research. At the same time, they are, by
design and evolution, competitive in their most important strength, nuclear weapon
design. During the Cold War, they created competing designs in response to military
requirements for new weapons. In these competitions, Sandia’s Albuquerque branch
teamed with LANL, and Sandia’s Livermore branch teamed with LLNL. This
competition continues with the design for RRW. Many analysts believe that design
competition is especially important now that nuclear testing is not available to check
warhead performance. In this view, competitions require competitors; nuclear
weapon design competitions require rival labs in order to explore differing
approaches and to challenge competing design teams. Redundant facilities at the two
labs help make competition possible by providing each lab with a similar base of
resources. Some supporting the current laboratory system hold that if the TF wants
competition, there must be redundancy because it would be difficult to have one
without the other.
Even more than research facilities, the core strength of the labs is arguably their
ability to bring many disciplines to bear on weapon problems. Each lab is a
community with each member drawing on the skills of many others, and each
contributing to the research needs of many others. Because of the complexity of
nuclear weapons, solving a typical weapon problem draws on many skills resident
at a lab, including physics, chemistry, metallurgy, computer operation, computer
modeling, engineering (mechanical, chemical, electrical), instrumentation, and

20 Letter from Robert Kuckuck to Richard Burrow, September 27, 2005, p. 2. Actinides are
chemical elements numbered 89-103, including uranium and plutonium.
21 Ibid.

experimentation. Designing a weapon also draws on many skills. Similarly, research
facilities support multiple areas of expertise. Only a few laboratory staff may operate
an experimental facility, computer center, research laboratory building, and the like,
but a single experiment may draw on many skills and may contribute data valuable
to staff in many areas of the weapons program. Accordingly, some are concerned
that removing one major scientific resource would be likely to disrupt work in a
number of areas.
The TF would shift resources in a number of crucial areas of weapons science.
It would remove a high-end computation facility from most labs, and would move
much work on SNM and HE from the labs to CNPC and NTS. SNM, high
explosives, experimentation, and computation are critical to nuclear weapon labs, and
are often interdependent. A nuclear explosion requires HE and SNM.
Experimentation provides data on the behavior of nuclear weapons. Computer
modeling integrates data from experiments, scientific theory, and past nuclear tests
to improve understanding of weapons performance and of the relevant theory. The
TF would move Category I and II SNM to CNPC and NTS. Yet LLNL and LANL
are currently conducting so-called accelerated aging experiments on plutonium to
provide a better estimate of pit life, which is crucial for determining future pit
production requirements. These experiments use more than Category II amounts of
plutonium, so the TF plan would seem to bar that work from the labs. Both labs
dismantle pits, which have a Category I quantity of SNM, to inspect them for age-
related changes. The TF would apparently move pit production from TA-55 to
CNPC, yet TA-55 could arguably be used to experiment with production methods
and as a pilot plant, in addition to serving as a backup to MPF. Some believe that
removing major scientific facilities from the labs could impair recruiting; laboratory
staff have stated for many years that outstanding scientific facilities attract
outstanding recruits. For example, a goal of the Laser Science-Based Stockpile
Stewardship program at Los Alamos is to “[e]xploit excellent high-quality science
in recruiting.”22
While the TF envisions the prospect of a smaller weapons program staff, critics
of the TF report maintain that a nuclear weapons laboratory requires a certain set of
skills regardless of stockpile size. They point out that staffing assumptions based on
the more limited range of skills that the TF seems to believe may be required by the
RRW concept implicitly rest on other assumptions: that the RRW concept will
appear, after study, able to meet its goals; that the Administration and Congress will
choose to replace many current warheads with RRWs; and that designing and
engineering such new warheads will require a smaller skill set than is needed to
maintain existing designs. They question whether such far-reaching assumptions
should be a present basis for planning future lab needs.
Regarding the possible impact of improvements in computing on reducing
numbers of laboratory staff, the TF states, “Technical staffing levels at the design
laboratories can be significantly reduced as the Complex leverages the years of
investment in new, automated test and computational capabilities at the design

22 Los Alamos National Laboratory, “Inertial Confinement Fusion: Mission Statement,”
available at [].

laboratories.” (23) Improved computing has greatly increased the capability of lab
staff so they are able to do better work, and presumably more work per hour. This
does not necessarily mean that fewer people are needed. Laboratory staff state that
a chemist cannot do the work of a weapon designer, a designer who specializes in a
weapon’s primary stage cannot design a secondary stage, and computers cannot
mentor new staff. They also question whether automated test equipment and
enhanced computational capabilities would permit significant reductions in technical
staff at the labs.
Having a high-end computer at each lab offers important benefits. It helps each
lab recruit and retain talented computer specialists, who are attracted by the
opportunity to work on such machines. Having top computation talent at each lab
makes computer specialists more easily accessible to specialists in the many (if not
all) disciplines who depend on high-end computing. It can be argued that providing
high-end machines for all the labs permits them to try different approaches to
computer and software design, and aids competition between the labs. A Complex
relying on one high-end computer center could face the risk that connectivity to the
labs would fail or become overloaded. Because it takes several years to design,
program, and install high-end computers and make them operational, managers of a
single high-end computer center serving the entire Complex might be unwilling or
unable to introduce new machines very often. In contrast, supporters of the current
laboratory system maintain that with each lab having its own high-end computers,
which may phase in at different times, a high-capability computer is likely to be
introduced into the Complex more often than would be the case with a single
Complex-wide computation site. Clearly, supporting one location instead of four
would save on procurement, operation, and maintenance; at issue is whether the
savings outweigh the benefits of the current approach.
Laboratory staff have stated over the years that sharply curtailing non-weapons
work, as the TF proposes, would harm the labs. The labs conduct much non-
weapons research. Some is related to security, such as nonproliferation, conventional
defense technology, and homeland security. For example, weapons scientists help
interpret intelligence data relevant to nuclear proliferation and study how to disarm
potential terrorist nuclear weapons.23 The labs perform other work in areas such as
energy, global climate modeling, the human genome, traffic flow modeling, and basic
research. Such work aids recruiting. Interviews with laboratory staff suggest that
few graduate students start out intending to do nuclear weapons work, but as
postdoctoral fellows some come to the labs to work on non-weapons-relevant
projects and then move to classified weapons work.24 Permitting staff to do some
work that they and their laboratory deem as having high potential value aids morale,
skill development, and retention, as well as leading to useful new technologies.
Critics maintain that removing non-weapons work could harm weapons work
because the two often benefit from each other’s resources and efforts.

23 On the latter point, see Eileen Patterson, “Render Safe: Defusing a Nuclear Emergency,”
Los Alamos Research Quarterly, Fall 2002: 22-23.
24 Personal interviews, Los Alamos, Livermore, and Sandia staff.

Implications for the plants. The TF, many of whose members have over
the course of their careers done some work in industry,25 was sensitive to perceived
problems at the plants. It “found the production side of the Complex operating from
World War II era facilities, lacking in modern-day production technology and striving
to optimize performance with antiquated equipment and facilities.” (1) Congress and
NNSA recognize these problems as well and have begun to address them by, among
other things, directing part of the budget to the plants for specific purposes and
including a Facilities and Infrastructure Recapitalization Program, for which $150.9
million was appropriated for FY2006. CNPC proposes a more comprehensive
solution, with CNPC for nuclear components and more contracting out for
nonnuclear ones.
The industrial model that the TF applies to the plants, however, may have some
deficiencies in dealing with nuclear weapons production. For one, as an organizing
principle, cost has been accorded a lower ranking in the design and production of
nuclear weapons than in other areas of industry. The TF states, “Strong leaders and
healthy organizations must have a commitment to success, not perfection. Successful
businesses know when products and services are good enough, and recognize that
cost is one of the metrics for excellent performance.” (25) And, “aggressive cost
goals are achievable on new weapon component designs, and a cost goal adds a
healthy degree of discipline to the design process.” (9) Many would maintain that,
when designing and manufacturing nuclear weapons, in contrast to many commercial
products, only something close to perfection is good enough. During the Cold War,
cost was much less important than warhead safety and reliability. While cost is a
more salient consideration now, nuclear weapon experts hold that safety and
reliability are, and will remain, of greater importance. The TF also suggests a design-
to-cost model, which may not be appropriate to the Complex. “Upon DOD and
NNSA acceptance of life-cycle cost estimates, ‘design/produce-to-cost’ metrics can
be established for the Complex.” (14) Yet there is no design-to-cost equation for the
Complex. CNPC is to perform specific tasks, many of which are at the state of the
art and unique to the Complex, at the lowest price; if that price is greater than the
targeted design cost, what happens?
The TF recommends outsourcing of nonnuclear components. “[T]he Complex
is strongly encouraged to purchase these components and assemblies from
commercial industrial vendors to the degree practical given classification and security
requirements.” (14) While this has been done for years to a limited extent, expanding
the scope of outsourcing could encounter many problems. Qualifying vendors —
such as by assuring compliance with quality assurance standards, obtaining security
clearances for workers, and installing security apparatus for facilities — would be
burdensome to companies even if NNSA bore the monetary costs. Some nonnuclear
components would be procured in small lots that would be economically unattractive
to vendors. Some would be of old design, or would use nonstandard manufacturing
techniques, so would not provide skills or equipment of value to the vendor in
commercial work. Removing a substantial amount of work on nonnuclear
components from the Kansas City Plant (KCP) could harm the operations of that

25 U.S. Department of Energy. Secretary of Energy Advisory Board. “Advisory Board
Member Biographies.” Available at [].

plant. KCP contracts out for some nonnuclear components, but is set up to produce
the full range of them. If KCP’s workload drops significantly, it would have
difficulty maintaining a diverse set of skills. These problems could become
significant: a large shrinkage of the plant could put production of certain nuclear
weapon components at risk if a key vendor went out of business or chose not to
continue its work.
One TF recommendation on outsourcing might be seen as a potential conflict
of interest. In keeping with its approach to outsourcing nonnuclear components, the
TF recommends outsourcing production of beryllium and beryllium oxide
components “immediately if services can be obtained from quality commercial
vendors” (22). A TF member is Director of Technology at Brush Wellman (iii); that
company bills itself as “the only fully integrated producer of beryllium and beryllium
oxide in the world.”26
The TF would also outsource storage of components to save money on security.
“For security cost savings, most of these [nonnuclear] components would be stored
at the commercial vendor’s location or another Complex facility but consistent with
just-in-time commercial practices.” (16) However, total security cost could arguably
be higher if components were made at dozens of industrial plants, each of which
would seemingly have to be secured, rather than at KCP, which has security in place.
And elaborate procedures for accounting for these components as they work their
way through the transportation system might hamper just-in-time deliveries.
The recommendations could affect Pantex. “Upon dismantlement of the last of
the Cold war weapons, Pantex, if not the site of the CNPC, could be
decommissioned. For the sustainable stockpile, the ongoing dismantlement of all
future RRW based weapons would be conducted at the CNPC.” (19) CNPC would
contain facilities for the main operations now at Pantex: weapons assembly and
disassembly, explosive component fabrication, and storage of pits. (15-16)
The TF would consolidate most if not all of Y-12’s weapons work at CNPC,
including a foundry for highly enriched uranium (HEU; see Appendix), a Uranium
Production Facility, assembly of secondaries, storage of HEU and secondaries, and
HEU R&D. (15-16) The TF would also move beryllium work from Y-12 and LANL
to CNPC or would contract it out. (J1-J3) This consolidation would eliminate many
if not all of Y-12’s critical weapon functions, calling into question the rationale for
retaining Y-12.
Potential consequences of closing existing plants and building a new CNPC
could include political pressure from constituents on NIMBY (not in my back yard)
and KIMBY (keep it in my back yard) grounds. CNPC would provide construction
and operating jobs for the region chosen, but fear of many new nuclear facilities,
even at an existing site, might lead to public protests. When NNSA sought public
comments on siting MPF as part of the environmental impact process, the Office of

26 Brush Wellman website home page, [].

the Governor of Nevada strongly opposed siting MPF at NTS.27 Conversely, closing
existing sites could arouse public opposition. Sites for the Complex were built in the

1940s and 1950s and are major employers.

Pit production issues. The “pit” is the fissile core of a nuclear weapon’s
primary stage (see Appendix). The United States has been unable to produce pits
certified for use in deployed nuclear weapons since 1989, when the only large-scale
pit production site in the Complex, Rocky Flats Plant (CO), closed.28 NNSA argues
that pits deteriorate over time and must eventually be replaced. Critics believe that
NNSA may be underestimating pit life, but do not dispute the need for eventual pit29
replacement. Accordingly, NNSA seeks a way to produce pits on a scale sufficient
to sustain the stockpile. At present, LANL is building a few pits at TA-55, which
was designed for plutonium R&D. These pits have not yet been certified for use in
the stockpile because development of the procedures needed to have high confidence
in certification has not yet been completed. NNSA does not view TA-55 as having
sufficient capacity for the long term; instead, NNSA has planned for a Modern Pit
Facility, or MPF, with a capacity of 125 pits per year. The TF would locate all of
MPF’s functions at CNPC. (15)
As discussed below, congressional actions have raised questions about the
future of MPF. That facility might proceed; on the other hand, a decision not to
proceed with it would call into question the future of CNPC because MPF would
arguably be CNPC’s most important facility. The TF analysis of MPF and TA-55 is
discussed here to cast light on the role of TA-55 and considerations involved in
establishing a pit production program.
The schedule and capacity required for pit production hinge on several factors.
!Pit life: The TF states that the pits in the stockpile were made
between 1978 and 1990 (actually 1989), and that the best current
estimate of pit life from the weapons labs is a minimum of 45 to 60
years. (12) “Thus the entire stockpile may need to be ‘turned-over’
by 2035 to 2050 depending on the acceptable level of uncertainty in
pit lifetime.” (12)

27 Letter from Robert Loux, Executive Director, Agency for Nuclear Projects, Office of the
Governor, State of Nevada, to Jay Rose, NNSA, August 4, 2003.
28 The TF uses a date of 1990 for when the United States made its last pit for the stockpile,
but an NNSA report states: “In December 1989, DOE shut down production at the RFP
[Rocky Flats Plant] due to environmental and safety concerns. Consequently, stockpile-
certified pits have not been manufactured in the United States (U.S.) since that date.” U.S.
Department of Energy. National Nuclear Security Administration. Requirements for a
Modern Pit Facility: Summary, Report to Congressional Defense Committees Requested by
the United States Congress in Public Law 108-375, Ronald W. Reagan National Defense
Authorization Act, January 2005, p. 6.
29 See, for example, Steve Fetter and Frank von Hippel, “Does the United States Need a New
Plutonium-Pit Facility?,” Arms Control Today, May 2004: 10-14.

!Stockpile size: The TF analyzes the CNPC schedule needed to
support a stockpile of 2,200 active and 1,000 inactive warheads. (17)
It finds that to support that stockpile with a pit life of 45 years and
a production rate of 125 pits per year, CNPC must be “functional”
by 2014; with a pit life of 60 years, that date shifts to 2034. (17).
Either case assumes that TA-55 produces 50 pits per year (17) from
2012 until a replacement pit facility came on line. (34) A larger
stockpile would require that MPF have more capacity or (in theory)
an earlier operational date.
!TA-55 capacity. NNSA plans to have TA-55 reach a capacity of 10
pits per year by the end of FY2007.30 The TF envisions boosting
that capacity to 50 pits per year by FY2012. (34) A higher capacity
at TA-55 would permit a lower capacity at MPF or a delay in
reaching a given capacity at MPF. Alternatively, it appears that the
TF would close production at TA-55 when CNPC opens, as noted
earlier; if TA-55 were kept open, then it and MPF could meet
stockpile requirements more easily than MPF alone. Without MPF,
TA-55 would require a very large increase in capacity to maintain a
stockpile of 3,200 warheads.
!Ability to reuse pits. The TF states that “reuse of ‘young’ plutonium
pits (less than 45 years old) and of canned secondary assemblies
should be evaluated ...” (9) Reusing “young” pits would reduce the
number of pits that would have to be made before then, perhaps
permitting a delay in MPF until pit life and future weapon
requirements became clearer. In contrast, if TA-55 is to be the sole
U.S. pit facility, its capacity would have to be increased sharply even
if “young” pits are used.
!Much more capacity is needed than simply enough to provide pits
for direct stockpile use. Under the Moscow Treaty, the United
States and Russia will each have 1,700 to 2,200 operationally
deployed strategic nuclear warheads by the end of 2012; other
warheads would be needed for tactical missions and for nondeployed
reserves. The TF assumes a stockpile of 3,200 warheads NNSA
notes that additional pits must be manufactured because some units
will be scrapped because of manufacturing defects, while others will
be needed to meet requirements for (a) replacements for pits
destroyed in the course of evaluating the condition of pits in the
stockpile over many years, (b) pits reserved for later evaluation, (c)
pits to prove manufacturing processes at the start of production of
each type of pit, and (d) “pits built and destructively tested during
steady-state production to assure product quality.”31

30 NNSA, Requirements for a Modern Pit Facility: Summary, p. 6.
31 Ibid.

In the TF plan, NNSA would select a site for CNPC “expeditiously” starting in
FY2006, (23) and the entire CNPC would need to be “functional” by 2014 under
assumptions noted above. (17) This plan, however, has several problematic elements.
First, it is not known whether Congress would support MPF or, by extension,
CNPC. In the FY2004 conference report on the Energy and Water Development
Appropriations Act, P.L. 108-137, conferees reduced the request for MPF by $12.0
million, to $10.8 million, on grounds that “until the Congress reviews the revised
future Stockpile plan it is premature to pursue further decisions regarding the Modern
Pit Facility.”32 The conferees’ statement on P.L. 108-447, the FY2005 Consolidated
Appropriations Act, included the following: “The conferees agree that funding for
Modern Pit Facility cannot be used to select a construction site in fiscal year 2005.”33
The House Appropriations Committee report on FY2006 energy and water
appropriations stated, “The Committee continues to oppose the Department [of
Energy]’s accelerated efforts to site and begin construction activities on a modern pit
facility ... The Committee will consider a modern pit facility site and design only
when the detailed analysis of the pit aging experiments and the concomitant capacity
requirements tied to the long-term stockpile size are determined.”34 The Senate
Appropriations Committee report on FY2006 energy and water appropriations stated,
the Committee disagrees with the purported [Task Force] proposal to consolidate
all of the nuclear material and the entire weapons manufacturing capability,
including the construction of a Modern Pit Facility, at a single location. There
are very strong opinions in Congress regarding the siting of a new pit facility or
changing the military capability of the existing weapons. As such, the Committee
believes it is unlikely that Congress would support such comprehensive reforms35
as currently proposed by the NNSA Complex study panel.
The FY2006 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act conference report
stated, “The conference agreement provides no funding for the modern pit facility.
The conferees direct the Administrator of the NNSA to undertake a review of the pit36
program to focus on improving the manufacturing capability at TA-55.” On the

32 U.S. Congress. Committee of Conference. Making Appropriations for Energy and Water
Development for the Fiscal Year Ending September 30, 2004, and for Other Purposes.thst
Conference report to accompany H.R. 2754. H.Rept. 108-357, 108 Congress, 1 Session,
p. 158.
33 U.S. Congress. Committee of Conference. Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2005.
H.Rept. 108-792, to accompany H.R. 4818. Reprinted in U.S. Congress. Congressional
Record, November 19, 2004: H10557.
34 U.S. Congress. House. Committee on Appropriations. Energy and Water Development
Appropriations Bill, 2006, H.Rept. 109-86, to accompany H.R. 2419, 109th Congress, 1st
Session, 2005, p. 136.
35 U.S. Congress. Senate. Committee on Appropriations. Energy and Water Appropriations
Bill, 2006, S.Rept. 109-84, to accompany H.R. 2419, 109th Congress, 1st Session, 2005, p.


36 U.S. Congress. Committee of Conference. Making Appropriations for Energy and Water
Development for the Fiscal Year Ending September 30, 2006, and for Other Purposes,

other hand, Representative Hobson, who as Chairman of the House Energy and
Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee has taken the lead on several
issues on nuclear weapons and the Complex, said in an address of December 2005
that he focused on the need to define MPF rather than opposing that facility per se:
We’ll probably build a modern pit facility, but we need to know what size we’re
going to build first and how many we’re going to build. ... I’m not opposed to
building a new modern pit facility, but this numbers thing drove me nuts and37
until we get there, we’re just not going to do it.
Consequently, the TF recommendation to greatly accelerate the current pit production
schedule despite congressional opposition to MPF, unresolved concerns over MPF
characteristics, and sharp constraints on capacity at TA-55 would appear problematic.
Second, it may be difficult to find a site for CNPC; for example, as noted earlier,
the Office of the Governor of Nevada opposed siting MPF at NTS. Even if a site is
found, it would take years to complete the NEPA process, obtain the needed permits,
design and build the facility, and prepare it for operation. Lawsuits by national
nongovernmental organizations or local groups could further delay site selection.
Third, the TF’s estimates of capacity and schedule for MPF and TA-55 are at
odds with those of NNSA. The TF states,
A classified Supplement2 analyzes the issue of timing for the CNPC for a
stockpile of 2200 active and 1000 reserve and the expected pit manufacturing
capacity of the future Complex. The conclusion is that if the NNSA is required
to: 1) protect a pit lifetime of 45 years, 2) support the above stockpile numbers,
and 3) demonstrate production rates of 125 production pits to the stockpile per
year, the CNPC must be functional by 2014. If one accepts the uncertainty of pit
lifetime of 60 years, the CNPC can be delayed to 2034. In either case TA-55 is
assumed to be producing 50 production pits to the stockpile per year. (17)
[footnote 2 in text:] Classified Supplement to the NWCITF Report
Recommendations for the Nuclear Weapons Complex of the Future.
In contrast, NNSA states, “A minimum production capacity of about 125 pits
per year starting in 2021 ... is required to support a reduced stockpile as reflected in
the June 2004 Stockpile Plan assuming a 60-year pit lifetime,” and “The current
NNSA planning approach for an MPF of 125 pits per year with production starting
in 2021 is not sufficient for pit lifetimes of 40 or 50 years, or for larger long-term

36 (...continued)
H.Rept. 109-275, to accompany H.R. 2419, 109th Congress, 1st Session, 2005, p. 162.
37 Representative David Hobson, “How Congress Changed Administration Policy on the
Bunker Buster Bomb: a Case Study in Effective Oversight,” address delivered at Center for
American Progress, Washington, DC, December 14, 2005, p. 19, transcript available at
[ h t t p : / / www.amer i canpr ogr e s s . o r g/ at f / cf / {E9245FE4-9 A2B-43C7-A521-5D6FF2E06E03

stockpiles.”38 NNSA would start construction in 2012.39 NNSA notes that more pits
must be produced than the number headed for the stockpile, as discussed earlier.
Some would be spares, or withheld to examine later for aging problems, or destined
to replace pits that a detailed evaluation renders unusable. Others would be rejected
because of manufacturing defects. The TF envisions an annual MPF production rate
of 125 pits to the stockpile,40 while NNSA envisions MPF producing 125 total pits
per year. Thus the capacity of the TF’s MPF would be substantially larger than that
of NNSA’s MPF. NNSA’s plan for MPF is to start construction in 2012 and full-
scale production in 2021; the TF calls for an operational MPF with a capacity well
beyond 125 pits per year 7 years ahead of NNSA’s schedule.
At the same time, the TF envisions modifying TA-55 to produce 50 pits per year
by 2012. It is not clear that that is feasible. NNSA’s goal is to have TA-55 produce

10 pits per year by the end of FY2007,41 and is planning to increase that figure to 30-

40 per year “sometime after 2010,” according to a report of an interview with
Ambassador Brooks.42 Modifying TA-55 to produce 50 pits per year starting in 2012
would require a larger investment, and the schedule might prove difficult to meet.
As discussed under “Forgoing the value of sunk costs,” the TF would shut
production at TA-55 when MPF opens at CNPC, which could (in the TF plan) be as
early as 2014. If MPF proceeds, the logic of spending large sums to turn TA-55 into
a production facility and then closing it for production after only 2 years is open to
question on several grounds. Most of the potential value of the investment would be
lost. After converting TA-55 so that its main mission was production, it might be
desirable, at added cost, to reconvert it back to a research facility once production
halted because plutonium facilities are extremely costly and TA-55 is the largest such
facility in the Complex. If MPF were to open, TA-55’s production capacity would
appear to be of potential value in many ways: as an engineering facility to test new
production techniques, as a pilot plant to test and improve the producibility of new
pits, as a surge producer in case the international situation called for added capacity,
as a source of extra production to fix unanticipated warhead problems without
disrupting MPF’s production schedule, as a “boutique” producer of small lots of pits
for new or modified nuclear weapons, and as a backup production facility in case
MPF must shut down so as to avoid a total halt to weapons production as occurred
when Rocky Flats pit production ended.

38 NNSA, Requirements for a Modern Pit Facility: Summary, p. 9.
39 NNSA, Requirements for a Modern Pit Facility: Summary, p. 9.
40 The Task Force later reemphasized this point. When he transmitted the final TF report,
Task Force Chairman David Overskei stated, “We [the TF] wish to clarify that pit
production means pits produced and certified for the stockpile.” Letter from Dr. David O.
Overskei, Chairman, SEAB Nuclear Weapons Complex Infrastructure Task Force, to M.
Peter PcPherson, Chairman, Secretary of Energy Advisory Board, Department of Energy,
October 4, 2005, p. 1.
41 NNSA, Requirements for a Modern Pit Facility: Summary, p. 6.
42 John Fleck, “Nuclear Agency Looks to Expand LANL Pit-Making,” Albuquerque Journal,
October 22, 2005: 1.

Finally, the TF raises the prospect that newer pits could be reused. If this is the
case, then fewer new pits would be needed. As a result, the capacity required by a
pit facility could be reduced or the pit production schedule extended.
Security. In the TF plan, CNPC would be the only site in the Complex for
Category I and II SNM. (14, 15) This material would be moved from Pantex and
Y-12 (assuming CNPC is not located at either site), and from LANL and LLNL. Part
of the rationale is to reduce security costs. CNPC would probably achieve that
objective. Whether it would “reduce the overall threat to the Complex” (vii) is less
clear. It would reduce the number of sites and communities “that could be targets of
terrorist attacks,” (24) but reducing the number of potential terrorist targets would
seem to increase security only if there is concern about the possibility of an attack on
multiple Complex sites at the same time. If terrorists could attack only one site,
having more sites with fewer assets at each would make each site a lower-value
target, which could reduce the risk of attack on any one site. Conversely, locating
many facilities at a single site would seem to make that site a more attractive terrorist
target. It is far from certain that any Complex site would rise to the top of a terrorist
target list given that these sites are well defended and large in area.
A related TF goal is that “consolidation would result in reduction of risk to
adjacent civilian populations. Currently, the LLNL, LANL, Y-12, and Pantex sites
are sufficiently close to residential and commercial structures such that any partially
successful terrorist attack on these sites may cause collateral damage to the
surrounding civilian population and associated public and private assets.” (19) Of
these four sites, only LLNL is located in a densely-populated area, yet the TF’s
consideration of relocating plutonium R&D to LLNL (35) would require increasing
the inventory of plutonium at that laboratory. For the threat of SNM release to occur
as a result of terrorist attack on a Complex site, several steps would be required.
Terrorists would have to attack the site, which would be difficult given site security.
They would have to gain access to SNM, which additional security features would
render very difficult. They would then have to seize and detonate a bomb, although
there are few complete weapons in the Complex other than at Pantex and complete
weapons are well protected. Alternatively, they might try to seize and disperse SNM
as a dirty bomb, but SNM is a poor choice for a dirty bomb because it is very much
less radioactive or accessible than such radioactive materials as cobalt-60 or cesium-
137. Reducing risk to adjacent population thus seems a questionable rationale for
Nonproliferation. Critics hold that the TF report might adversely affect U.S.
nuclear nonproliferation efforts. The lead sentence of the report states that the goal
of the nuclear weapons program has “shifted to sustaining existing warheads for the
indefinite future,” (v) even though states party to the Nuclear Nonproliferation
Treaty, including the United States, agreed in Article VI to “pursue negotiations in
good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an
early date and to nuclear disarmament.” The TF recommends continuous design and
production on “a family of modular nuclear weapons.” (23) This might likewise be
interpreted as inconsistent with the NPT. The TF says it is “confident that the
Complex can now design a nuclear weapon that is certifiable without the need for
underground testing.” (vi) This has been true since 1945; designers were so
confident in the Hiroshima bomb that it was dropped without a test of its design. At

the same time, some who hope to reduce the number of U.S. nuclear weapons fear
that the Stockpile Stewardship Program is intended to enable the United States to
design weapons without testing;43 the TF statement might be taken as support of this
point. The TF recommends considering placing key SNM facilities underground
(17), even though the United States has expressed concern about Iran’s and North
Korea’s practice of hiding their nuclear facilities underground and has conducted
research on a nuclear earth penetrator weapon to destroy buried facilities.
Assessment of nuclear weapon issues. Critics might call into question
several TF statements on nuclear weapons, the nuclear weapons program, and the
The report states, “As weapon designs move away from the UGT [underground
nuclear test] experience base toward high-margin, conservative designs, the issue of
final stockpile certification becomes increasingly important.” (10) Nuclear weapon
experts maintain that “final” stockpile certification may become more or less
difficult, but never more or less important, asserting that it has always been of the
utmost importance.
“The TA-55 facility is not being run as a production unit, but rather as a
research and compliance driven facility. Productivity is about 5% of what would be
required and achievable of an industrial operation in the same facility with the same
task.” (H1) A high production rate, however, was not the goal of TA-55’s pit
production program. After Rocky Flats closed, DOE could have converted part of
TA-55 to more efficient production by taking out existing equipment and installing
new production lines, but that could have taken years and been expensive. Instead,
DOE chose to utilize existing equipment and space at a loss of efficiency but with
less expense and quicker time to begin limited production. TA-55 is a pilot plant
installed in an R&D building to prove out the processes to make a certifiable pit.
Until the processes can be shown to work, and pits can be certified, and a decision
on MPF can be taken, and a decision reached on where to conduct plutonium R&D,
and the type of pits to be produced (current or RRW designs) is decided, critics
argue, there is little point in incurring the expense of redoing TA-55 for a 20-fold
increase in production.
In trying to arrive at industrial benchmarks for production of plutonium
components at MPF, the TF stated:
Since there is little commercial experience with plutonium, the Study Group [a
TF subgroup] looked at beryllium manufacturing. Beryllium components are
used in current primary designs and have very similar machining requirements
and tolerances to the plutonium parts. A number of the casting techniques are
different, but not sufficiently different that the physical nature of the building is
altered. Rather, the hazardous nature of Be and Pu make handling specifications
and restrictions similar, thus a lot of the building requirements are similar, and

43 See, for example, Christopher Paine and Matthew McKinzie, End Run: Simulating
Nuclear Explosions under the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, Natural Resources Defense
Council, Washington, 1997, Chapter V, “Conclusions and Preliminary Observations.”
Available at [].

other than the forging and casting equipment, the machining and metrology
equipment is virtually identical. (H1)
However, beryllium and plutonium are very different. Beryllium is light and
stable, while plutonium is heavy and radioactive. Weapon scientists note other
differences. Concerns over criticality (the possibility that too much plutonium in a
small volume could lead to a small nuclear chain reaction) and security drive every
aspect of planning a plutonium facility. Radioactivity dictates spacing between
plutonium processing stations to limit worker exposure to radiation. Plutonium
hemispheres must be joined together to form a pit; a LANL metallurgist stated that
welding processes used to join beryllium components are very different than those
used to join plutonium components. Equipment for forging and casting differs for
the two metals, as the TF notes. (H1) Applications for commercial beryllium parts
are not at all like those for plutonium components. Plutonium has different
metallurgical characteristics at different temperatures and pressures; for example, like
ice, plutonium increases in volume when it solidifies. Since plutonium is
radioactive, leaks during handling can be detected constantly in real time, unlike
beryllium, so that processes for handling the two metals are very different. Industrial
methods for handling beryllium are not necessarily an ideal model. The Toledo
Blade reported health and safety problems resulting from beryllium exposure at a
plant in Elmore, Ohio, and elsewhere.44
The TF states, “The current lack of teamwork and trust is manifested in
unnecessary redundancy of missions and facilities at various sites and an inability to
harness the talent of the Complex to solve critical problems.” (28) Concern with
these stated problems underlies many TF recommendations. Supporters of the
current Complex, however, would raise questions about the TF’s statement. They
would maintain that:
!LANL and LLNL have for decades competed on nuclear weapon
design, as noted earlier. This institutionalized competition should
not be characterized as a failure of teamwork.
!Despite this competition, there are many examples of teamwork
between the labs. LANL and LLNL conduct peer review as part of
the annual assessment process in support of weapon certification;
this peer review will arguably be critical as the laboratories proceed
with work on RRW. LANL teams with SNL/New Mexico, and
LLNL with SNL/California, in developing warheads. Staff from the
labs use each other’s experimental facilities, and cooperate in many
aspects of weapons and non-weapons science.
!The labs partner much more with the plants than they did during the
Cold War. Lab and plant staff frequently said that during the Cold

44 “Deadly Alliance,” Toledo Blade, March 28, 1999. This article is the introduction to a
long series, and contains links to the other articles. It is at [

War, the labs would design components with little regard for ease of
manufacture and “throw the designs over the fence” to the plants,
leaving the latter to make the components despite difficulties. Now,
labs and plants exhibit much more concern about ease of
manufacture. For example, the two design teams routinely consult
with the plants on this topic, ease of manufacture is a goal of RRW,
and plant representatives participate in the RRW Project Officers’
Group, the focal point of RRW activity.
!Redundancy has value in certain instances. For example, Rocky
Flats Plant was the only site in the Complex that made pits for the
stockpile. When production at Rocky Flats Plant halted in 1989, the
Complex could no longer produce nuclear weapons. As a result,
“Today, the United States is the only nuclear weapons power
without a production-level capability to manufacture plutonium pits
for the nuclear arsenal.”45
!Supporters of the current Complex maintain that there are many
examples to counter the TF statement that the Complex is unable to
solve problems: the ability of the Complex to create scores of
warhead designs, and to produce many thousands of units, during the
Cold War; the ability of the Complex to increase its understanding
of nuclear weapon behavior through the SSP; and the ability of the
Complex to maintain the nuclear stockpile after the Cold War so that
DOE and DOD could certify its safety and reliability annually for
nine years so far. Another example is the ability of the Complex to
recapture the pit manufacturing process despite a long hiatus
between 1989, when Rocky Flats manufactured the last “certified”
pit, 2003, when LANL delivered the first “certifiable” pit, and 2007,
when LANL is scheduled to deliver its first “certified” pit.46
The Task Force “found a Complex of varied strengths and weaknesses, with
little evidence of a master plan.” (vi) Task Force critics acknowledge that there is no
single, overarching, multi-decade master plan, but maintain that that lack is
inevitable. From their perspective, the Administration’s Nuclear Posture Review of
December 2001 sought a responsive infrastructure, and in fact the Complex has
responded to, and been shaped by, many political and technical developments over
the past six decades: World War II, the start of the Cold War, the prospect of
developing the hydrogen bomb, Sputnik, the massive buildup and subsequent
reductions of nuclear forces, the end of the Cold War, the development of modern
information technology, and the global war on terrorism, to name a few. They note
that the Administration and Congress have responded over the years by funding new
programs and facilities at Complex sites to obtain capabilities needed at the time.

45 NNSA, Requirements for a Modern Pit Facility: Summary, p. 6.
46 Certifiable pits meet manufacturing and inspection quality assurance requirements but not
performance requirements. When in addition NNSA completes analyses and nonnuclear
experiments needed for pits to meet performance requirements, certifiable pits can be
certified for use in the stockpile.

Just as the foregoing developments did not exhibit a master plan, so too were many
responses necessarily ad hoc. At the same time, major facilities typically take years
to build, so there has necessarily been some long-term planning as well.
According to the TF, “dismantlement ... is a central element in nuclear threat
reduction and deterrence. As the Complex embarks on a continuous production
strategy and replaces the Cold war stockpile, the nation needs to dismantle the retired
Cold war weapons to demonstrate to its citizens, the Congress, and the world that the
deployment of an improved sustainable stockpile is not the beginning of stockpile
growth.” (19) Yet there is no link between deterrence and dismantlement. In the
long history of U.S. nuclear weapons policies and programs, U.S. arms control and
weapon employment policies have focused on U.S. deployed forces, perceived U.S.
will and intent to use them, and the potential to increase their numbers or capabilities,
not on the ability to dismantle them. Similarly, the Nuclear Posture Review of late
2001 links infrastructure (such as the Complex) to deterrence, but this linkage results
from the ability of the infrastructure to maintain existing warheads or make new
ones, not from its ability to dismantle them.
Warheads are removed from deployed forces as a byproduct of treaties and other
agreements that reduce deployed forces, as a result of a determination that certain
types of warheads or their delivery systems are no longer needed, or, during the Cold
War, because they were replaced by newer models. Some of these warheads are kept
in an inactive status, available for use; others are retired. Stockpile size has dropped
because fewer and fewer warheads are deemed necessary for deterrence or other
military requirements. The end of the Cold War, for example, led to a sharp reduction
in the number of potential targets and therefore in the number of weapons needed.
By one analysis, the size of the U.S. nuclear stockpile has been falling steadily since
1966, and even more sharply since 1989.47 This trend may continue. President Bush
said, “I am committed to achieving a credible deterrent with the lowest possible
number of nuclear weapons consistent with our national security needs, including our
obligations to our allies. My goal is to move quickly to reduce nuclear forces.”48
Such reductions in deployed forces might lead to further stockpile reductions, though
not necessarily in any precise numerical relationship.
While many retired warheads are dismantled, dismantlement is not required by
treaty, but is more a housekeeping matter to reduce the cost and effort for
maintenance, storage, and security. Current methods used at Pantex to dismantle “the
Cold war stockpile” provide no physical basis for “demonstrat[ing] to the world that
the overall number of nuclear weapons is being reduced, thereby reducing the nuclear
threat” (24) because there is no transparency, such as international monitors
observing dismantlement. If there were continuous production, as the TF suggests,
dismantlement would demonstrate a net reduction “to [U.S.] citizens, the Congress,
and the world” only if observers could monitor both dismantlement and new
production and found that the former exceeded the latter. In contrast, the United

47 Natural Resources Defense Council, “Table of U.S. Nuclear Warheads,” last revised
November 25, 2002; available at [].
48 President George W. Bush, “Remarks by the President to Students and Faculty at National
Defense University,” Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, D.C., May 1, 2001.

States has for decades demonstrated “threat reduction” through verifiable
dismantlement of delivery vehicles and associated equipment (e.g., bombers,
intercontinental ballistic missile silos, and missile submarines).
Moreover, there is no link between dismantlement and force reduction.
Different stockpile sizes can support the same deployed force, and it is that force that
figures in U.S. deterrent policy. Further, most current dismantlement is happening
to warhead types totally removed from deployment over the last two decades, not to
warhead types still deployed.
Task Force assumptions. The TF makes a number of assumptions on LEP
and RRW that may prove correct, but further details are required to make the case
convincingly. Accordingly, some would view it as premature to adopt
recommendations based on them.
The Task Force assumes that the current method for repairing problems with
existing warheads, the LEP, will be increasingly costly over the long term. (v) It
notes that many warheads contain toxic materials, that the Complex must maintain
materials and equipment no longer in current use, and that “[t]he LEP strategy
requires that the Complex retain or re-acquire capabilities and processes that are
necessary to refurbish weapons designed and built many years ago.” (11-12) While
it would be costly to maintain the stockpile using LEP, the TF does not show why it
would be increasingly costly. An alternate possibility is that while the first LEP of
a warhead type might be costly and difficult, second and subsequent LEPs of that
warhead might be easier and cheaper. In that scenario, several thing would occur
between the first and second LEPs. SSP would learn more about weapons science
in the intervening decades. The surveillance program would provide further
information on the specific warhead. Details of conducting the LEP on that warhead
type would be recorded, software instructions to production machines would be
stored, and key equipment and materials would be stockpiled.
A related point involves the longevity of the stockpile under LEP. The TF
argues that LEP “will sustain the viability of the Cold war stockpile for a while, but
it will not achieve [a] future, sustainable stockpile ...” (12) Some are concerned that
an accumulation of small changes with several LEPs could lead to insufficient
confidence to certify warheads in the absence of nuclear testing. In this view, the
very lack of adequate evidence on the future effectiveness of LEP, combined with the
absence of a Complex with adequate capacity, poses a risk that an unexpected failure
of a warhead type could undermine the deterrent force. On the other hand, if SSP,
including surveillance and LEP, have been able to sustain the stockpile for about a
decade, LEP supporters ask, why should it not be able to do so for longer? Indeed,
NNSA’s goal for LEP is to extend warhead life by 20 to 30 years.49 To that end, it
has conducted an LEP of an intercontinental ballistic missile warhead (W87) and is
conducting LEPs of a gravity bomb (B61), a submarine-launched ballistic missile

49 Department of Energy, Department of Energy FY 2006 Congressional Budget Request.
Volume 1, p. 75.

warhead (W76), and a cruise missile warhead (W80)50 — that is, an LEP for each
major type of nuclear delivery system.
The Task Force recommends that the United States should proceed immediately
with RRW. The recommendation rests on assumptions that the labs can come up
with a workable design for RRW, that the weapon can be produced at acceptable cost
and on an acceptable schedule, and that the design can be certified without nuclear
testing. Further, the TF assumes that the cost of refurbishing existing weapons
through LEP will exceed the cost of designing and certifying RRW, setting up new
production lines to manufacture it, and producing thousands of newly-built units.
The TF also assumes that the status quo is not “financially sustainable.” (ix) Clearly,
the status quo is costly. It is one thing, though, to estimate that a particular course
of action would cost a certain amount; to call it unaffordable appears to be a
subjective judgment.

50 Ibid., p. 75-76.

Appendix: Nuclear Weapons and the Nuclear
Weapons Complex
This Appendix describes key terms, concepts, sites, and facilities as an aid to
readers not familiar with them.
Current strategic (long-range) and most tactical nuclear weapons are of a two-
stage design.51 The first stage, the “primary,” is an atomic bomb similar in concept
to the bomb dropped on Nagasaki. It provides the energy needed to trigger the
second stage, or “secondary.”
The primary has a hollow core, often called a “pit,” made of fissile weapons-
grade plutonium (with a high content of isotope number 239). It is surrounded by a
layer of chemical explosive designed to generate a symmetrical inward-moving
(implosion) shock front. When the explosive is detonated, the implosion compresses
the plutonium, greatly increasing its density and causing it to become supercritical,
so that it creates a runaway nuclear chain reaction. Neutrons drive this reaction by
causing plutonium atoms to fission, releasing more neutrons. To increase the fraction
of plutonium that fissions — boosting the yield of the primary — a neutron generator
injects neutrons directly into the fissioning plutonium. In addition, “boost gas,” a
mixture of deuterium and tritium (isotopes of hydrogen) gases, is injected into the pit;
the intense heat and pressure of the implosion cause the gas to undergo fusion,
generating a great many neutrons. The chain reaction can last only a moment before
the force of the nuclear explosion drives the plutonium outward so that it can no
longer support a chain reaction.
A metal “radiation case” channels the energy of the primary to the secondary
stage, which contains lithium deuteride and other materials. The energy from the
primary implodes the secondary, causing fission and fusion reactions that release
most of the energy of a nuclear explosion.
The primary, radiation case, and secondary comprise the “nuclear explosive
package.” Thousands of other “nonnuclear” components, however, are needed to
create a weapon. These include a case for the bomb or warhead, an arming, firing,
and fuzing system, and a means of linking the weapon to its delivery system.
The Hiroshima bomb used a simpler “gun assembly” design, in which one
subcritical mass of highly enriched uranium (i.e., highly enriched in the fissile
isotope 235) was shot down a gun barrel into another subcritical mass of highly
enriched uranium, forming a critical mass and causing a nuclear explosion. Highly
enriched uranium and weapons-grade plutonium are referred to as special nuclear
material, or SNM.

51 U.S. Department of Energy, Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for
Stockpile Stewardship and Management, DOE/EIS-0236, Sept. 1996, summ. vol., p. S-4.
This page contains further information on nuclear weapon design and operation.

Nuclear weapons were designed, tested, and manufactured by the nuclear
weapons complex, which is composed of eight government-owned contractor-
operated sites: Los Alamos National Laboratory (NM) and Lawrence Livermore
National Laboratory (CA), which design nuclear explosive packages; Sandia National
Laboratories (NM and CA), which design the nonnuclear components that turn the
nuclear explosive package into a weapon; Y-12 Plant (TN), which produces uranium
components and secondaries; Kansas City Plant (MO), which produces many of the
nonnuclear components; Savannah River Site (SC), which processes tritium from
stockpiled weapons to remove decay products; Pantex Plant (TX), which assembles
and disassembles nuclear weapons; and the Nevada Test Site, which used to conduct
nuclear tests but now conducts other weapons-related experiments that do not
produce a nuclear yield. These sites are now involved in maintaining existing
nuclear weapons. A federal agency, the National Nuclear Security Administration
(NNSA), a semiautonomous part of the Department of Energy, manages the nuclear
weapons program and the Complex.
Pit production is the most controversial aspect of nuclear weapons production,
and the one most closely linked to the Reliable Replacement Warhead program.
Rocky Flats Plant (CO) used to produce pits, but that work was halted in 1989 due
to safety concerns. Since then, the United States has not made any pits that have
been certified for use in stockpiled warheads. Once Rocky Flats pits were used up,
the United States has been unable to make entire new warheads.
Los Alamos has established a small-scale pit production plant at its plutonium
facility, Technical Area 55 (TA-55). TA-55 has produced several pits, but Los
Alamos has not completed the work needed to certify them for use in the stockpile.
NNSA anticipates that that work will be completed in FY2007, and that TA-55 will
achieve a capacity of 10 pits per year beginning in FY2007. NNSA has plans to
increase TA-55’s capacity to 30-40 pits per year sometime after 2010.
NNSA, however, believes that that number is inadequate to support the
stockpile, and proposes a new Modern Pit Facility (MPF) to provide more capacity:
“A 125 pit per year MPF with full production starting in 2021 (on-time) is the
minimum capacity to support the President’s reduced 2012 stockpile assuming a 60-
year pit lifetime.”52 In NNSA’s view, because of the long lead time needed to design
and build a pit facility, planning for MPF should continue as a hedge against
unexpected problems with pits in the stockpile. Others challenge that plan, arguing
that if pit lifetime proves longer than anticipated, or if the future stockpile declines
more than anticipated, an expanded TA-55 would suffice, so that the United States
should delay a decision on MPF until future pit requirements become clearer. The
FY2006 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act, P.L. 109-103, deleted
funds for MPF; conferees on the measure directed NNSA to “focus on improving the
manufacturing capability at TA-55.” On the other hand, Representative David
Hobson, Chairman of the House Energy and Water Development Appropriations
Subcommittee and a key player on nuclear weapons issues, stated in December 2005
that he does not oppose MPF but wants to have it defined more clearly before
proceeding. The future of MPF thus appears uncertain.

52 NNSA, Requirements for a Modern Pit Facility: Summary, p. 4.

Glossary: Abbreviations
CFFContained Firing Facility
CNPCConsolidated Nuclear Production Center
DARHTDual Axis Radiographic Hydrodynamic Test Facility
DODDepartment of Defense
DOEDepartment of Energy
EISEnvironmental impact statement
HEHigh explosive (chemical, not nuclear)
HEUHighly enriched uranium
KCPKansas City Plant
LANLLos Alamos National Laboratory
LEPLife Extension Program
LLNLLawrence Livermore National Laboratory
MPFModern Pit Facility
NEPNuclear explosive package
NEPANational Environmental Policy Act
NNSANational Nuclear Security Administration
NTSNevada Test Site
R&DResearch and development
RRWReliable replacement warhead
SEABSecretary of Energy Advisory Board
SNLSandia National Laboratories
SNMSpecial nuclear material
SSPStockpile Stewardship Program
TA-55Technical Area 55
TFSecretary of Energy Advisory Board Nuclear Weapons Complex
Infrastructure Task Force