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Thursday, June 20, 2013

NNSA Outlines Price Tag Of '3+2' Vision For Future Of Nuclear Stockpile

NNSA Outlines Price Tag Of '3+2' Vision For Future Of Nuclear Stockpile
Weapons Complex Monitor
June 19, 2013

Implementing the Obama Administration’s “3+2” vision for the future of the nuclear stockpile could cost more than $65 billion through Fiscal Year 2038, according to the National Nuclear Security Administration’s recently released Fiscal Year 2014 Stockpile Stewardship and Management Plan. But while arms control experts have scoffed at the high price tag, the Administration says the approach is designed to save money in the long run. The “3+2” approach was approved late last year by the Nuclear Weapons Council and includes the production by FY 2038 of three interoperable ballistic missile warheads and two air-delivered systems: a nuclear capable cruise missile and the B61 gravity bomb. But only this week have the potential costs of the approach been broached publicly. On top of the NNSA’s estimated $8 billion price tag for the ongoing B61 refurbishment (other estimates suggest the cost could actually exceed $10 billion), the W78/W88-1 refurbishment could cost more than $14 billion. A second interoperable warhead projected to be the W87/W88 could cost more than $13 billion, and a third interoperable warhead involving the W76-1 could cost around $12 billion. A refurbished cruise missile warhead is estimated to cost close to $12 billion, and other refurbishment work on a follow-on B61 life extension program (which would start in FY 2033) as well as refurbishment work on the W88 to replace its neutron generator and ongoing work on the W76-1 contribute to the overall life extension costs.

The NNSA also emphasized that the costs are dependent on other efforts to modernize the weapons complex and maintain the nation’s nuclear know-how. “When fully implemented, the ‘3+2’ strategic vision will reduce stockpile maintenance costs while maintaining strategic flexibility and offering the potential to consider decreasing the size of the stockpile hedge without increasing the risk,” the NNSA said in the plan. In the near-term, the NNSA is planning to undertake refurbishment work on the W76-1, B61, W78/W88-1 interoperable warhead, cruise missile warhead, and the W88 ALT 370 over the next decade, beginning work on the cruise missile warhead refurbishment in FY 2015. “This very aggressive plan will place most of the nuclear weapons stockpile in some phase of life extension in the present decade,” the NNSA said. “This work is absolutely essential and must be accomplished while maintaining the stockpile and continuing stewardship-based surveillance.” The extent of the work on the NNSA’s plate, and the price tag, is likely to draw increased scrutiny from Congress, said Kingston Reif, the director of Nuclear Non-Proliferation at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. “The sticker shock is just incredible,” Reif said. “You have to look at this in the context of NNSA being unable to accurately project costs historically. If this is their opening bid and previous history is any indication, this could be two to three times the cost.”


Anonymous said...

It was atleast a year ago when the so-called "official" total cost of NIF according to LLNL was 3.5B. So it is a year later and they still use that same number. I never believed the number to begin with. The comprehensive cost is much higher. But are they so stupid as to not even update the number over a year later? They can't even keep their lies straight. What a bunch of losers.

Anonymous said...

That's all part of the lab manipulation, using only costs up to time of completion years ago, and not total funding pumped into NIF like operating costs, subsidies for shots to users, discriminatory overhead, upgrades, etc. etc. etc. Really sad considering 3.5B is already way past the threshold for "big government project" and yet the only point that LLNL argues about is about that number, since they don't have a pot to piss in when it comes to scientific successes since then.

What we do need is a full running cost of the program. That is the total cost to tax-payers, that tax-payers need to know.

Anonymous said...

Tri-Valley Cares' number is most likely the right on. At the very least, their number captures the relevant total cost to the tax-payer.

Now we have to calculate the total running scientific and technical benefits. We're still waiting.

Anonymous said...

The Navy is happy with its W76 and W88 warheads. The Air Force has relatively little interest in nuclear weapons. Therefore this plan is going nowhere.


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