Sunday, April 16, 2006

Nat'l Nuclear Security Agency: 250 new nukes per year...

From Japan Times:

U.S. aims to up nuclear warhead production capability to 250 a year

The United States envisions a plan to establish an annual production capability of 250 nuclear warheads in a bid to be prepared for possible contingencies in the future, a senior U.S. administration official said.

The plan also calls for promoting development of new types of warheads in a five-year cycle to continuously replace existing ones, the National Nuclear Security Agency (NNSA) official said on condition of anonymity.

The official also said the new type, called the reliable replacement warhead, or RRW, which is now being studied for submarine-launched ballistic missiles in place of the current W-76 warhead, could also be used for intercontinental ballistic missiles.

The move shows that the NNSA is contemplating twice the contingency production capability more than what it has publicly stated.

In a congressional hearing early this month, NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs Thomas D'Agostino said the agency plans a "baseline production capacity of 125 (plutonium) pits per year to the stockpile by 2022."

The five-year development cycle means the administration will continue to develop new types of RRW after it successfully produces the one for replacing the W-76 warhead.

The NNSA official said, "Every five years we would go through a cycle . . . research, development, production, retirement, dismantlement."

The Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory are expected to "establish technical feasibility" of developing the RRW without the resumption of nuclear tests, he said.

The Japan Times: Sunday, April 16, 2006
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