Note the last paragraph from this excerpt!!
From Science Magazine:
No Technical Reason to Avoid a Test Ban, NRC Panel Says
by Daniel Clery on 30 March 2012
The United States' nuclear deterrent will remain safe and reliable without nuclear testing as long as the government keeps its weapons up to date with the so-called Stockpile Stewardship Program and fosters a scientific workforce capable of running the SSP, says a report from the U.S. National Academies released today. The report investigated technical issues surrounding the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and also concluded that the treaty's monitoring system, along with America's own intelligence resources, have made huge strides in recent years in their ability to detect clandestine tests that could pose a military threat to the United States. The CTBT Organization's International Monitoring System (IMS) "has created a capability so that any potential tester would have to be concerned about being detected," says Ellen D. Williams, committee chair and chief scientist of the oil company BP. ...
...The White House commissioned the National Academies in 2009 to review a 2002 study on this topic and investigate whether technical capabilities have changed over the past decade in a way that might influence the debate over ratification. Williams said at a briefing at the National Academies today that the SSP was still quite young in 2002, and since then there has been enormous progress. "They've overhauled and refurbished two complete weapon classes," she says. Part of the program involves understanding the physics and chemistry of the materials that make up the weapons and understanding how they decay and degrade. In some cases, replacement parts can be manufactured. "We understand these weapons today even better than we did while testing," committee member Marvin Adams, a nuclear engineer at Texas A&M University in College Station, said at the briefing. "We've done it. We've reset the clock on these weapons."
A large part of the program also involves developing computer simulations of the action of nuclear explosives. To test the validity of the simulations, national laboratories have built facilities that can reproduce parts of a nuclear explosion without creating an actual blast. These facilities include the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the Microsystems and Engineering Sciences Applications facility (MESA) at Sandia National Laboratories, and Dual-Axis Radiographic Hydrodynamic Test Facility (DARHT) at Los Alamos National Laboratory. "It's very crucial for researchers to establish a close coupling between [these facilities] and scientific computing so that they can test and stress the computer codes essential to the health of the program," Williams says.
The committee's main concern was about the government's future commitment to this program and its workforce. "The technical ability to maintain the stockpile exists; our concern is about the political will to maintain those capabilities," Williams says. Committee member Lynn Sykes of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University says, "There's one golden bullet: a high quality workforce. I can't stress that too strongly."
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