For Immediate Release 4/20/98
Greg Mello or Maya Sinha at the Los Alamos Study Group (NM), 505-982-7747
Christopher Paine at the Natural Resources Defense Council (Wash., DC), 202-289-2370
Jackie Cabasso at the Western States Legal Foundation (Oakland), 510-839-5877
Marylia Kelley at Tri-Valley CAREs (Livermore), 510-443-7148
Disarmament Groups Force DOE to Release Portions of Secret "Stewardship" Plan for Nukes;
Agency Now Admits It Will "Replace" Nuclear Weapons in Stockpile and Develop "New Nuclear Options for Emergent Threats"
The Department of Energy (DOE), in an attempt to fend off a legal challenge
to its nuclear "stewardship" program brought by the above groups and
others, has released a declassified version of its October 1997 "Stockpile
Stewardship and Management Plan" to a federal court. This newly-released
"Green Book," so called, provides new admissions regarding DOE's plans
to indefinitely maintain a large nuclear arsenal, gradually replace
existing weapons with modified or new ones, develop "new nuclear options
for emergent threats," and create the capacity to build thousands of
additional nuclear weapons if "needed." The provision of "new
nuclear options" has been, up to now, strenuously denied by DOE.
The requirement to maintain the capability to design and engineer new weapon systems to military requirements [was] stated in the DoD Nuclear Posture Review (NPR). Nuclear weapons in the enduring stockpile will eventually be replaced. (New system development may be needed even to maintain today's military characteristics.) This work is anticipated to begin around 2010. (1) In the meantime, future national policies are supported for deterrence by retaining the ability to develop new nuclear options for emergent threats...Miniature, modular building blocks for nuclear weapon systems are being developed...proof-of-principle flight tests will demonstrate alternative concepts to address new threats and will provide the technology for new approaches to deterrence, should the nation ever need them, as well as attract and train new nuclear weapon system engineers. (p. 7-34, emphasis added)"These statements reveal a shocking disregard for U.S. commitments, especially those enshrined in the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), to end the nuclear arms race," said Study Group Director Greg Mello. "It's imperative that these plans be stopped. If we don't abide by the treaties we've signed, how can we get other countries to do so?"
Advocates of a conservative approach to maintaining U.S. nuclear weapons will be dismayed to learn that DOE believes it can gradually replace the fully-tested weapons in the U.S. stockpile with weapons whose "physics packages" have never been fully tested but rather have been designed or redesigned on computers, perhaps several times, by people who have never had real nuclear testing experience. Several prominent DOE advisors have advocated against such an approach.
Other features of DOE's plan, revealed for the first time in this document, include:
1. Compare: "I'd hate to say we'll be done [with subcritical tests] in 10 years," said LANL's Wolkerstorfer. "In 10 years, we're going to be building different pits, different weapons. And that means different issues coming up." Ian Hoffman, "Managing the Nuclear Arsenal," (Back to text) Albuquerque Journal, 6/1/97.