President Trump plans to nominate current Lawrence Livermore hand Charles Verdon to lead the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) roughly $9-billion-a-year nuclear weapons portfolio.
The White House announced its intention in a press release late Monday. If recommended by the Senate Armed Services Committee and confirmed by the full Senate, Verdon would be put in charge of the agency’s national network of warhead design laboratories and production facilities — a complex whose budget the Trump administration wants to boost by more than $1.5 billion to about $11 billion a year for the upcoming fiscal 2019.
Verdon would fill a vacancy as deputy administrator for defense programs at the NNSA. Philip Calbos, the office’s current No. 2, was the acting administrator for part of 2017, but had to step aside because of federal laws that limit the time interim agency heads may serve in positions that require Senate confirmation.
Verdon, a Ph.D nuclear engineer, is now principal associate director at Livermore’s weapons and complex integration directorate, in charge of the lab’s weapons activities. Livermore designs warheads and runs experiments to help ensure warhead potency without resorting to nuclear detonations.
The Trump administration has been on a roll with its NNSA nominees. Last week, Lisa Gordon-Hagerty was sworn in as the agency’s administrator about two months after Trump nominated her.