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Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS): New Report Calls For Halt To Production of New Nuclear Warheads

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 7, 2008
1:17 PM

CONTACT: Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS)
Aaron Huertas, 202-331-5458

 
House Kicks Off Debate Over Future of US Nuclear Weapons Complex
New Report Calls For Halt To Production of New Nuclear Warheads
 

WASHINGTON, DC - May 7 -A House Armed Services Committee subcommittee today will kick off the debate over the future of the U.S. nuclear weapons complex, the infrastructure used to design, build and maintain the thousands of nuclear weapons in the U.S. arsenal. The subcommittee will review a Department of Energy (DOE) revitalization plan that would dramatically increase the complex's ability to produce new nuclear weapons.

The hearing, sponsored by the Strategic Forces Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee, will focus on the Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2009. It begins at 1 pm today in Room 2118 of the Rayburn House Office Building. Later this month, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees will take up the matter.

A new report by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), "The Cart before the Horse: DOE's Plans for the Future of the U.S. Nuclear Weapons Complex," critiques DOE's proposal and calls for a halt to the production of new nuclear warheads. (For the report, go to: www.ucsusa.org/global_security/nuclear_weapons/the-cart-before-the-horse.html.)

"Now is not the time to invest billions of dollars in new factories that will lead to new nuclear weapons," said Stephen Young, a UCS senior analyst. "Congress has already required the next president to take a fresh look at U.S. nuclear policy. DOE's plan seems to ignore this fact."

In its report, UCS concluded:

  • The United States needs a new nuclear weapons policy and a plan for the future of its nuclear arsenal, before it makes major decisions on the future of the complex.
  • Under its current policy, the United States does not need to produce new plutonium pits -- the essential core of nuclear warheads -- until at least 2015 and perhaps not until 2022. A new nuclear policy could eliminate the need entirely.
  • Until the nation decides on the makeup and size of its future nuclear arsenal, it is premature to build large industrial plants to produce new nuclear weapons, as the DOE has proposed.
  • Once a new nuclear policy is set, the DOE should perform a comprehensive, bottom-up review of the complex, and maintain only those programs and facilities needed to support the future arsenal.
  • Consolidating weapons-usable fissile material should be a higher priority for the DOE.
  • The DOE should examine other alternatives for the future of the complex, including options for no pit production, and for a future in which the United States leads a global effort to move toward the prohibition of nuclear weapons.

The Union of Concerned Scientists is the leading science-based nonprofit organization working for a healthy environment and a safer world. Founded in 1969, UCS is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and has offices in Berkeley, California, and Washington, D.C. For more information, go to www.ucsusa.org.

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