Author Archives: Dan Leone

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LANL Weapons Chief Lobbies for Plutonium Pit Mission

The Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) has the technical and safety chops both to manufacture plutonium pits and to lead new research on the nuclear-weapon cores, the head of the lab’s weapons program said Wednesday amid an intensifying turf war over the Department of Energy’s plutonium mission. “Something that I’ve heard a lot talking with […]

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‘W76 Mod 2’ Would Be NNSA’s New Low-Yield Sub-Launched Warhead

The U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) could turn the existing W76 warhead into the low-yield submarine-launched weapon requested by the Donald Trump administration by dialing back its explosive yield, according to the acting head of the Department of Energy weapons agency.”A low-yield submarine-launched ballistic missile warhead capability, deemed the W76 Mod 2, will be […]

Terry Wallace, director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory

LANL Director ‘Confident’ Lab Can Handle Low-Yield Warhead

The director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory said Tuesday he is “confident” the Northern New Mexico nuclear weapons site could help create the low-yield nuclear warheads the Trump administration requested in the Nuclear Posture Review released in early February.“Again, I go out on a branch, but I know from our nuclear weapons experts if […]

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Senate Committee Unanimously Approves Trump’s NNSA Nominee

The Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday unanimously approved Lisa Gordon-Hagerty to be the full-time administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). President Donald Trump nominated Gordon-Hagerty, a current government consultant and former civil servant, on Dec. 19. If confirmed by the full Senate, she would be the first woman and the fifth person […]

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White House Requests 20 Percent Increase for NNSA Weapons Programs in FY ’19

The Trump administration on Monday proposed what would amount to a $2-billion-a-year raise for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) — a roughly $15-billion fiscal 2019 budget request that would accelerate existing nuclear-warhead refurbishment programs and consider making warhead cores somewhere other than New Mexico. The Department of Energy’s fiscal 2019 budget request also continues […]

Jim Mattis: Congress should get back in defense budget 'driver's seat'

New Sub-Launched Warheads a ‘Bargaining Chip’ Against Russia, Mattis Says

About a month after word first leaked that the White House wanted to develop a pair of new low-yield nuclear warheads, Defense Secretary James Mattis on Tuesday characterized the proposal as a “bargaining chip” to persuade Russia to freeze what the United States says is a nuclear-capable cruise missile program. In congressional testimony here Tuesday, […]

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Low-Yield Warhead Details Due in ’19 Budget, But Big NNSA Infrastructure Plans Will Wait a Year

Cost and schedule details about a proposed low-yield warhead for submarine-launched ballistic cruise missiles will appear in the White House’s fiscal 2019 budget requests later this month, but details about planned improvements to the Department of Energy’s nuclear-weapons complex will not be published until next year, the agency’s top nuclear official said Friday. The Trump […]

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UC And Team ‘Deserve’ Next LANL Contract With Their ‘Clever’ Bid, Regent Says

The University of California and its mystery teammates have submitted a “clever” bid to run the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) for the next 10 years, the regent in charge of the institution’s national lab activities said in a public meeting late last Wednesday. “We do have the most excellent bid,” Ellen Tauscher, the incoming […]

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NNSA Policy Boss Takes Charge Temporarily as Trump Nominee Waits for Senate Hearing

Steven Erhart has been selected as the acting administrator for the National Nuclear Security Administration, leapfrogging the semi-autonomous Department of Energy branch’s highest-ranking career civil servant at the helm until the Senate confirms the White House’s administrator-designate. The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) announced the move Jan. 19 at the bottom of a press release […]

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Nuke Wonks See Easy NNSA Path to Low-Yield Sub Warhead

The National Nuclear Security Administration could probably whip up a new low-yield warhead for submarine-launched ballistic missiles in “a couple years,” but doing so would slow ongoing programs to extend the life of current U.S. warheads, a former National Security Council official said Tuesday. “That’s something that the laboratories probably effectuate in a relatively short […]