Reading Room

Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Request for Nuclear Weapons Programs - Blog #2

Tuesday, February 9, 2015
Posted by Marylia Kelley

President’s Budget Accelerates Dismantlement of Retired Nuclear Weapons

Here, too, we have a piece of good news to report. The Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 budget request accelerates the schedule for dismantlement of retired U.S. nuclear weapons by 20%.

The Department of Energy (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration Congressional Budget Request (Volume 1, page 8) highlights the “goal” of dismantling warheads retired from the U.S. stockpile before 2009 by 2021. Given the snail’s pace by which retired nuclear weapons are being disassembled, this is a modest goal for certain. Plus, on page 75 of the same document, the target date for taking apart warheads retired before 2009 is listed as “the end of 2022,” a full year later (a DOE typo?).

To clarify intent, let us look at the actual dollars requested. The present year’s enacted budget is $52 million (page 61). The FY 2017 request is nearly $69 million, an increase of about $17 million. Moreover, the “outyear” or planned funding for FY 2018 is almost $72 million and rises each year to just over $75 million in FY 2021.

Dismantlement funding has taken a budget hit in recent years, and it is good to see the President propose an increase, however modest. Too, this follows on Secretary of State John Kerry’s promise to seek a 20% increase in U.S. dismantlement of its arsenal of retired warheads, a pledge made at the United Nations last year at the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference.

The U.S. has more than 2,000 retired nuclear weapons still intact. The President’s goal is trending in the proper direction, but still too slowly. The Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Request for nuclear weapons activities is $9.243 billion. The nearly $69 million requested for dismantlement of long-retired nuclear weapons is a mere drop in the bucket compared to the billions being requested to design, develop, test and produce new and modified nuclear warheads and bombs for the active stockpile.

Tri-Valley CAREs advocates that much more attention - and many more dollars - be devoted to disassembling retired weapons rather than creating new ones. Overall, the budget request shows the U.S. still rushing headlong into a self-inflicted qualitative new arms race (more on this in blog #3 that follows).

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