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The Reliable Replacement Warhead Program: Background and Current Developments

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Congressional rept.

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Most current U.S. nuclear warheads were built in the 1970s and 1980s and are being retained longer than was planned. Yet they deteriorate and must be maintained. To correct problems, a Life Extension Program LEP, part of a larger Stockpile Stewardship Program SSP, replaces components. Modifying some components would require a nuclear test, but the United States has observed a test moratorium since 1992. Congress and the Administration prefer to avoid a return to testing, so LEP rebuilds these components as closely as possible to original specifications. With this approach, the Secretaries of Defense and Energy have certified stockpile safety and reliability for the past 12 years without nuclear testing. The National Nuclear Security Administration NNSA, which operates the U.S. nuclear weapons program, would develop the Reliable Replacement Warhead RRW. For FY2005, Congress provided an unrequested 9.0 million to start RRW. The FY2006 RRW appropriation was 24.8 million and the FY2007 operating plan had 35.8 million, and the FY2008 request was 88.8 million for NNSA and 30.0 million for the Navy. The Department of Defense Appropriations Act, P.L. 110-116, included 15.0 million for the Navy for RRW. The FY2008 Consolidated Appropriations Act, P.L. 110-161, provided no NNSA funds for RRW. For FY2009, DOE requests 10.0 million for RRW. The Navy requests 23.3 million for RRW but says its request was prepared before Congress eliminated NNSA RRW funds and that these funds would not be used for RRW. The House Armed Services Committee, in its report on H.R. 5658, the FY2009 defense authorization bill, recommended eliminating the Navy and NNSA RRW funds while adding funds for the Navy and NNSA for related purposes. The House defeated an amendment to add 10.0 million in NNSA RRW funds to H.R. 5658. The Senate Armed Services Committee recommended retaining NNSA s request for RRW but eliminating the Navy s request.

Subject Categories:

  • Nuclear Explosions and Devices (Non-Military)
  • Nuclear Weapons

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