Communities Against a Radioactive Environment
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Budget Dispatch #2 - INTEROPERABLE W78/88-1 WARHEAD DESIGN DEFERRED 5-YEARS; TRI-VALLEY CAREs PRONOUNCES THIS LIVERMORE LAB PROGRAM "DEAD"
This is the second in a series of Tri-Valley CAREs' dispatches from deep within the FY 2015 budget request documents for the Department of Energy (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 4, 2014, NOON
Tri-Valley CAREs applauds the White House decision to defer the W78/88-1 "interoperable" nuclear warhead by at least 5-years. Further, the nuclear watchdog group declares that the Livermore Lab-led program is now "effectively dead in the water."
The W78/88-1 Life Extension Program, as envisioned by weaponeers at Livermore Lab, would have entailed the design of a new, untested warhead "mash up" of the land-based W78 warhead, the submarine-launched W88 warhead and the core from a third design, the W87. The NNSA estimated about its cost at around $14 billion, but congressional staff and independent analysts, including at Tri-Valley CAREs, estimated its costs would meet or exceed the $28 billion mark.
Tri-Valley CAREs notes with approval that the FY 2014 omnibus appropriations bill did not fund the "interoperable" concept. Instead it cut the request from $72.7 million to $34.7 million and then limited that amount to a refurbishment of the Air Force's ICBM-based W78, if NNSA decides to pursue it. Moreover, Tri-Valley CAREs has confirmed with multiple sources that the Nuclear Weapons Council (NWC), the top-level DOE-DoD organization responsible for stockpile decisions, cancelled its support for the W78/88-1 at its meeting last December.
"Taken together, the 5-year delay in the FY15 budget request, the cut in the FY14 omnibus and the Nuclear Weapons Council's withdrawal of support, all spell the end of the design of an 'interoperable' warhead, at least for the foreseeable future," said Marylia Kelley, the Executive Director of the Livermore-based Tri-Valley CAREs. "This budget decision effectively cancels the program."
"We applaud the decision not to move forward with the W78/88-1," said Scott Yundt, Tri-Valley CAREs' Staff Attorney. "This new warhead would have not only broken the budget bank, it would have complicated U.S. nonproliferation aims. The Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference will be held in 2015, and the U.S. is currently involved in delicate negotiations to curb Iran's materials enrichment program. A bald-faced U.S. move to fund the development a new nuclear weapon could have thrown a monkey wrench into these larger global security goals. We at Tri-Valley CAREs are relieved to see the program effectively ended."
Here is the language from the DOE FY 2015 Congressional Budget Request Highlights, p. 3. "...the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the Department of Defense (DOD) agreed on a prioritized plan... The strategy defers the W78/88-1 Life Extension Program by five years..."
Additional dispatches will follow on a variety of NNSA programs as more detailed budget justification documents become available. Stay tuned.
Click here for the budget highlights.
Marylia Kelley, Tri-Valley CAREs: (925) 443-7148 firstname.lastname@example.org