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FYI Number 162: November 11, 2005

FY 2006 DOE Appropriations Bill: Nuclear Weapons Programs

There were significant areas of disagreement in the approaches taken to nuclear weapons programs in the initial House and Senate versions of the FY 2006 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill. These differences have been resolved, resulting in the compromise language found in the conference report accompanying H.R. 2419. Selections of this language follow; the entire report (109-275) may be read at http://thomas.loc.gov/ Note that specified funding may be reduced (probably in the range of two to three percent) to pay for hurricane reconstruction costs.

ROBUST NUCLEAR EARTH PENETRATOR ("BUNKER BUSTER"):

"The conference agreement provides no funds for the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator (RNEP) feasibility study." (See below under "Reliable Replacement Warhead.")

NATIONAL IGNITION FACILITY:

"Construction--Project 96-D-111.--The conferees provide $141,913,000 for construction of the National Ignition Facility (NIF), the same as the budget request."

TEST SITE READINESS:

"The conferees direct the Department to maintain the current 24-month test readiness posture."

MODERN PIT FACILITY:

"The conference agreement provides no funding for the modern pit facility." (See context below.)

"For the pit manufacturing and certification campaign, the conference agreement provides $241,074,000. The conference agreement provides $120,926,000 for W88 pit manufacturing and $61,895,000 for W88 pit certification, the same as the budget request. The conference agreement provides $23,071,000 for Pit Manufacturing Capability and $35,182,000 for Pit campaign support at the Nevada Test Site. The conference agreement provides no funding for the modern pit facility. The conferees direct the Administrator of the NNSA to undertake a review of the pit program to focus on improving the manufacturing capability at TA-55. The conferees also direct the Department to develop a report as to how the NNSA intends to address the radiological mission and security needs of category III/IV material currently housed at TA-18 at Los Alamos. This report shall be provided to the Committees on Appropriations by February 1, 2006."

RELIABLE REPLACEMENT WARHEAD:

"The conferees have provided $25,000,000 for the RRW program. The conferees expect that the laboratories and plants will also utilize the existing resources in the Directed Stockpile, Campaigns, and Readiness in Technical Base and Facilities accounts where applicable to further the RRW design options to support a Nuclear Weapons Council determination in November 2006. The conferees reiterate the direction provided in fiscal year 2005 that any weapon design work done under the RRW program must stay within the military requirements of the existing deployed stockpile and any new weapon design must stay within the design parameters validated by past nuclear tests. The conferees expect the NNSA to build on the success of science-based stockpile stewardship to improve manufacturing practices, lower costs and increase performance margins, to support the Administration's decision to significantly reduce the size of the U.S. nuclear stockpile.

"The conference agreement provides $688,567,000 for DSW Stockpile services. From within the funds provided in DSW Stockpile services, the conferees direct the NNSA to provide $40,000,000 to fund the Nevada Test Site, $5,000,000 above the request, to maintain the Subcritical Experiment Program, including the Phoenix Explosive Pulse Power program. From within available funds, the conferees provide $6,000,000 to Los Alamos National Laboratory to conduct hydrodynamic testing in support of the Stockpile Stewardship program and $3,000,000 above the request to fund independent assessments of the safety of the stockpile and secure information exchange within the weapons complex.

"The conference agreement provides no funds for the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator (RNEP) feasibility study.

"The conferees support a degree of flexibility in executing this budget by providing limited reprogramming authority within Directed Stockpile Work [DSW]. The control levels for the Directed Stockpile Work are: (1) Life Extension Programs; (2) Stockpile Systems; (3) Reliable Replacement Warhead; (4) Warhead Dismantlement; and (5) Stockpile Services."

INERTIAL CONFINEMENT FUSION AND HIGH YIELD:

"The conference agreement includes $549,073,000 for the inertial confinement fusion ignition and high yield program. The conferees support the House language regarding project management control systems for managing the ICF program. The conferees direct the NNSA Administrator to issue a report by March 1, 2006 that identifies the scientific and stockpile stewardship value of the National Ignition Facility if the project fails to achieve the ignition demonstration by 2011, or at any time in the future." (Note that the report has language regarding specific projects, see first paragraph above on how to access this report.)

NANOTECHNOLOGY:

"The conferees provide $15,000,000 from within available funds for the establishment of the National Nanotechnology Enterprise Development Center (NNEDC), to be managed by the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies. The NNEDC will assist in the technology maturation of nanotechnologies developed at each of the National Nanoscience Initiative Facilities and to assist in their transition to the marketplace, while emphasizing opportunities for industrial partnerships with the Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies. Proposals to the NNEDC will be considered by a board of experts qualified to evaluate proposals based on both their scientific merit and their commercial potential, including a representative from each of the National Nanoscience Initiative Facilities, and a similar number of representatives from economic development and commercial sectors to be selected by the Department of Energy's Office of Science."

NUCLEAR WEAPONS COMPLEX WIDE REVIEW: There is no new language; the Senate report language stands (http://www.aip.org/fyi/2005/099.html.)

Richard M. Jones
Media and Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics
fyi@aip.org
301-209-3095

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