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Thursday, December 19, 2013
Former president disagrees with current president at Sandia
Robert Peurifoy, a retired Sandia vice president who worked on the B-61, disagrees with current Sandia President Paul Hommert and questions the need for the LEP. From the recent December 2013 Issue of "Physics Today": Costing up to $10 billion over a dozen years, the refurbishment of what is planned to be the last class of US nuclear bombs is the lowest-cost option for extending its life for several decades, officials from the Departments of Defense and Energy insist. But some critics of the B-61 life extension program (LEP) question whether the program is necessary. At least one of the modifications planned for it—a new guided tail kit supplied by the US Air Force—would increase its military capabilities, not just ensure its reliability and safety. Sandia National Laboratories director Paul Hommert warned lawmakers during the hearing that without the LEP, the B-61 will reach a point where it will no longer be reliable “in the next decade.” Robert Peurifoy, a retired Sandia vice president who worked on the B-61, questions the need for the LEP; he says there has been little discussion of whether observations of the aging weapons components warrant their replacement. “I want to know what the surveillance findings are for each component. If they are dying, you’ve got to replace them. But I’m not willing to replace them just so NNSA and the labs can extract money from the taxpayer,” he says in an interview. Peurifoy says the B-61’s ground proximity radar has been “stigmatized” by the NNSA and the weapons labs because it contains vacuum tubes. Indeed, Hommert held up a B-61 vacuum tube and a newly developed replacement solid-state radar during his October testimony. Peurifoy says he has seen no evidence that the tubes are failing or about to fail. “Until I do, I’d leave the radars alone,” he says. But Peurifoy downplays the benefits of reducing the amount of highly enriched uranium contained in the bombs. “There are lower-yield versions of the B-61 in the stockpile right now. If you want lower yields, use them.” He dismisses the argument that less highly enriched uranium contained in the warheads reduces the danger if a B-61 were to fall into the wrong hands. “NNSA and the labs are quite good at obfuscation. They use rubber words [like] security,” he says. “Security means you maintain possession. You don’t lose a weapon. If you lose a weapon, you should not be too concerned about the distinctions about what it contains. You’d better get the goddamned weapon back.”
Posted by scooby at 5:55 PM
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